Paramount

Blu-Ray Review: Johnny Depp Gets Animated in Confident ‘Rango’

Rango

CHICAGO – There’s a rare level of artistic confidence in “Rango” that we usually don’t see outside of Pixar. What I mean by that is that SO many animated flicks that I have to suffer through in a calendar year are trying to appease a marketing plan, a producer, a focus group, etc. “Rango,” while being a bit overrated by some, is undeniably unique in its vision and trying only to appease that creativity. It’s an occasionally inspired film that looks stunning in HD and is accompanied by some stellar special features.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’ Croons to the Choir

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

CHICAGO – Music documentaries and concert films, by their very nature, are pieces of advertising and propaganda. They play to the fans…as they should. Wouldn’t it be much worse if they didn’t? What if you were a hardcore fan of an artist and paid your money to sit through something that didn’t put them on a high-enough pedestal for you? On those terms, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” completely works — it’s a movie made for fans of its famous star and I can’t imagine them not adoring it.

Blu-Ray Review: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher in Decent ‘No Strings Attached’

No Strings Attached

CHICAGO – I have become nearly exhausted by writing reviews about the modern decline of the romantic comedy, the genre most in need of a complete overhaul. Most of them nowadays are horrendous. So, no one is more surprised than this critic to say that “No Strings Attached” with Ashton Kutcher & Natalie Portman, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, isn’t bad. It’s no genre classic, but it’s an enjoyable comedy on a Saturday night.

Blu-Ray Review: Hilarious ‘South Park: The Complete Fourteenth Season’

South Park 14

CHICAGO – If you haven’t kept up with Eric, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, fear not TV fans — “South Park” can still be DAMN funny. I’ll admit that I don’t keep up consistently during the regular season and so sometimes wonder if the quality has dipped. With the 15th season having premiered this week on Comedy Central, the 14th was just released on Blu-ray and DVD and it’s pretty great, especially in HD.

Blu-Ray Review: Beloved ‘The Ten Commandments’ Makes Excellent Easter Gift

The Ten Commandments

CHICAGO – When one hears the phrase “epic” in terms of classic movies, one of the first that should come to mind is the crowning achievement of Cecil B. DeMille’s obsession with storytelling with a massive scope, “The Ten Commandments,” now available on Blu-ray for the first time to coincide with the upcoming Easter holiday, when it usually plays on television to big Nielsen numbers. Put it in your best friend’s Easter basket.

Blu-Ray Review: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford Carry ‘Morning Glory’

Morning Glory

CHICAGO – Rachel McAdams comes closer to achieving the star status that we’ve all thought she would one day achieve with “Morning Glory,” a likable variation on “Working Girl” that could have and should have been better but offers enough simple entertainment to make for an enjoyable rental. With its cast and crew pedigree, one would have hoped for more than “likable,” but it’s not bad for a Saturday night.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Jackass 3’ Shocks More Than First Two, But Misses Target

Jackass 3

CHICAGO – “Jackass 3” features more male genitalia and bodily fluids than most pornos. The boys have become bizarrely obsessed with their penises and, well, crap. And while the movie features some definite laughs, there are a surprising number of bits that either fall flat as comedy or seem designed to shock more than entertain. This big fan of Johnny Knoxville and the gang (I’ve seen every episode and the first two movies) just didn’t find the third installment as funny as I had hoped it would be — even in nauseating 3D.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Waiting For Superman’ Presents Bleak Picture of Public Education

Waiting For Superman

CHICAGO – Davis Guggenheim was crowned one of the Kings of the new documentary movement when his “An Inconvenient Truth” won the Oscar for its category but the follow-up, a scathing look at the public education system, failed to make the cut after a wave of controversy hit the film like a melting glacier. How much of the drama surrounding “Superman” — some of which went as far as to suggest that facts in the film were wrong and that case studies of children were faked — was deserved and how much was blown out of proportion? Rent or buy the film, now on DVD and Blu-ray, and decide for yourself.

Blu-Ray Review: Disappointing Return of ‘Paranormal Activity 2’

Paranormal Activity 2

CHICAGO – There’s something that horror movie producers never seem capable of understanding. A great horror movie is like watching a magic trick. It doesn’t work nearly as well the second time. The sequels to “Saw,” “The Blair Witch Project,” and now “Paranormal Activity,” are not that dissimilar from watching the same rabbit come out of the same hat with nothing much different than a new colored bandana around its neck. “Paranormal Activity 2” has moments but doesn’t amount to nearly the same overall experience as the first.

Blu-Ray Review: M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Last Airbender’ is Nearly Unbearable

The Last Airbender

CHICAGO – “The Last Airbender” was mercilessly-panned on its theatrical release and will likely pop up on a few “Worst of the Year” lists in the next few months. And yet, audiences didn’t seem to care too much, pushing the movie to nearly $320 million worldwide (although one wonders if it wouldn’t have made twice that were it actually good considering the fan base of the source material and prime summer release date).

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