Posted by Martin:
Posted by Martin:
Posted by Martin:
I take a look at The Orphanage over at Blunreview.com.
Posted by Martin:
The first Elizabeth was made nearly ten years ago, I guess I find that hard to believe because I was in college at the time. That movie was a classic, the sequel Elizabeth-The Golden Age is a good movie, but not the classic the original was.
The romantic tension is here, as it was in the first movie, but this time around there is a strange love triangle between Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh, and another Elizabeth on the Queen's Court. In the first movie the tension was to get the Queen married, that isn't the focus this time around. The focus is for Elizabeth to be loved just as a regular human being, and to me that is a boring story. You can see that in any movie, but to marry for royal and political purposes is not an everyday story. And the filmmakers didn't focus on that this time around.
The crux of this movie focuses on Prince Philip of Spain's invasion of England and the failure of the Spanish Armada to crush the English navy. Unfortunately this was very passed over. In fact I found it down right confusing. Elizabeth's rise to the golden age is grounded in this event, yet there is very little screen time dedicated this battle, very strange to me.
But having said that, this movie still makes you respect the Queen that Virginia was named after. I guess because I am a Virginian I may some sort of soft spot for Elizabeth in my psyche. Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh is a case of great casting, as is Samantha Morton as Mary Queen of Scots. And it is the story of Mary that really makes this movie tense and gives the movie its best scenes. The debate to behead Mary lies in the idea that Royalty is Divinely given, thus to behead Mary would be for Elizabeth to admit she was human and not there to divine intervention. Yet to keep the kingdom together Mary needed to die. This is the tension and conflict that makes this movie.
The Disc itself-Video A; Audio B
The video transfer here gets an A. This is a well photographed movie and it comes across on the DVD.
The audio is only Dolby Digital and it is a good spacious sound space, but I still would like to see a DTS track. There is a commentary track by the director.
There are four different short making of features. The most interesting one is about the art director and the details he brought to the set. But the others are fairly typically filler and talking heads, interesting but not really something to purchase the disc for.
This post is now listed on the Movie Monday Carnival. Thanks!
Posted by Martin:
Extras: C+ (Includes commentary track and second disc)
I write about the movie here, my original review of the movie can be found here.
The feature disc comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a commentary track. There is no DTS track here, and I am almost always disappointed by that, but the Dolby Digital track is very good and location within the surround speakers is also excellent.
The video transfer is excellent. I have seen in some forums discussing this movie that there is too much film grain in the movie. But that was the intended look of the movie, the "film grain" is added. Most of the movie is CGI, from complete frames of CGI to added backgrounds and extra Spartan warriors added in the background. So the film grain is just part of the look that Zack Snyder was going for.
The commentary track included director Zack Synder, Director of Photography Larry Fong, and . But the commentary is 99% Synder talking. As commentary tracks go this is a good one, Synder talks mostly about the technical aspects of the scene, but he will also focus on other aspects of the production. There is no "oh this person is sooooo wonderful!" back slapping that goes on in most commentary tracks.
Personally I have come to find commentary tracks to be a very ineffective way of telling how a movie was made. Things come and go so quickly that there is no time to discuss a certain element with any depth. One of the best commentary tracks I have come across the track for "Finding Nemo" simply because the guys at Pixar were smart enough to add in additional elements for their track.
What are your opinions about commentary tracks?
The second disc includes two "talking head" documentaries about the actual historical Spartan 300. In short, yes this is true story from about 2500 years ago, but what is even more interesting is that lines from the movie are actual historical lines pasted down from ancient historians. My favorite being "Then we will fight in the shade!"
The first two documentaries are good, but they could have been combined into one. But if you really want to learn about the 300, watch the history channel, The Last Stand of the 300 is superior to anything on this disc.
There is a third documentary about Frank Miller and his work, but don't get this expecting to learn more about Frank Miller. There are other documentaries out there about Frank and his work that go into more depth.
There is a very short featurette about the making of 300, I was disappointed in this. It is very basic and simple, my thinking is that people who are buying the 2 disc set are film nuts who want to know specifics about the filmmaking process of 300. But you won't find that here, look to the commentary for better information.
A "music video" is added as well called "The Making of 300 in Images". It is shots of 300 being made in time lapse photography, and it goes so fast and was so disorienting that I turned it off. This was a waste.
And lastly there is the webisodes that were on the internet, which can probably still be found on the net.
The single disc will suffice for most people, really only history buffs need to pick up the 2 disc set.
Posted by Martin:
I wanted to see this when it came to theaters last January, but it came and went very quickly. That is a shame though, this is a gem of a movie.
Beatrix Potter is played by Rene Zellweger, and she seems to have gotten the English accent down after a couple roles that have required it.
We meet Beatrix as she is shopping her first book to publishers. During this time it is unusual for a woman her age be unmarried and working, that is a strike against her, and it is the first indication of what this movie is really about, woman's roles changing in society.
At least that is what the movie starts off about and I think wants to be about, but then it changes into a hidden love affair with her publisher played with extraordinary skill by Ewen McGregor.
The movie focuses more on this relationship than any other relationship of Beatrix's, which is a shame because she was a woman to be contended with. She was a pioneer in changing women's roles and in protecting the environment, but these issues are pushed to the side in favor of the love affair. Which is the only real weakness of the movie.
But the movie is played with joy, and whimsy, and genuine care for the characters. I definitely recommend renting this DVD.
The DVD itself
The DVD itself is actually quite good for such a small movie. The transfer is excellent and the audio, Dolby Digital 5.1, is used quite well to express the openness of the lakeside scenes. There is no DTS on this disc, but that is okay. One of the few times I will say that.
There is an audio commentary by the director Chris Noonan, who was also the director of Babe.
Included is a documentary on Beatrix Potter. And it is after watching this documentary I realized that the movie missed a lot, the documentary was produced about four years before the movie was. From this documentary I began to realize just how important Beatrix Potter was and is. For those interested in literature and woman's issues the documentary alone is worth the price of a rental.
Also included is a short feature of Rene Zellweger playing Miss Potter, nothing major here, this is cobbled together from various interviews through out the production of the movie.
This is a quite feature that deserves more viewings.
Posted by Martin:
Well I finally got around to getting one of my favorite movies from last on DVD, Casino Royale. I am a big fan of this movie. Click here to see my original review of the movie.
The video transfer of the movie is very very good. This is a solid transfer.
No DTS, and that is a disappointment to me with so many action scenes. But the Dolby Digital mix is still very good and very active.
I am not sure what audio options the Blu-Ray offers.
There are no audio commentaries, which is a little bit of a disappointment. Because I still don't understand why studios only put a DD track with no additional DTS or commentary, knowing full well that people with expensive home theater will want to hear DTS. So the lack of a commentary track makes me question what they were saving space for.
There are three featurettes on the second disc.
The first deals with the process of getting the rights to Casino Royale and the reasons why Brosan was left out and Daniel Craig brought in. I was surprised to learn that the producers DID NOT have the rights to Casino Royale (The first James Bond book) until very recently, which is why this is a reboot for the series. This featurette was the most interesting and informative of the group.
The second deals with all the stunts in the movie, and a brief history of "Free Running" as it was shown in the opening scene of the movie.
The third featurette is about Bond girls and is complete filler. This was obiviously some promo made to promote the movie last year. They even left in commercial transitions from the original broadcast, that is just lazy.
It is made by the Bond girl from The Living Daylights, she goes and visits as many Bond girls as possible to ask them how Bond changed their life. Most of them are good sports about Bond. Maude Adams from The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy is not pleased with being a Bond girl. Yet she did it twice, nine years apart, she was very disillusioned about being a Bond girl. Her interview to me was the most interesting as it didn't tow the party line that being a Bond girl was great. Everyone else talks about how "their Bond girl was DIFFERENT!" and you begin to realize that maybe a lot of Bond girls are really the same.
So the extras on the disc are okay, nothing to write home about.
But you get this disc set for the feature anyway, which is worth the price.
Posted by Martin:
I got Nacho Libre for Christmas, it is one of those few times when I was given or bought a movie without having seen it first. My wife got it for me because I am a big Jack Black fan, I am a fan because he seems to a guy I would want to hang out with. I was a fan once I saw him in High Fidelity.
Anyway, Nacho Libre is made by the same guys who made Napolean Dynamite and School of Rock. It has much more of Napolean Dynamite rhythm to it, in that it goes for small laughs and deals with extremely quirky outcasts.
Ebert gave this movie only 2 stars in his review, I thought the movie deserved better praise than that., but this isn't a gut busting flick. It makes me smile and guffaw and chuckle, but it doesn't leave me thinking I just sawing extraordinary.
Jack Black plays an orphan who grows up in a monastery with Friers, and all he wants to be respected and given the necessary means to help other orphans that are raised in the monastery. Wanting to raise money for the orphanage he recruits a local homeless boy to be his side-kick in the wrestling ring.
The humor here is in the faces Jack makes and the real-life extras that populate the film. When you listen to the commentary with Jack Black and the writer and the director you begin to realize just HOW populated this movie is with local talent. This is not the Jack Black of School of Rock, this is a more quietly restrained Jack Black whose energy is channeled through his face and eyes, and not so much through his voice and extreme body contortions. Overall though this is a very enjoyable movie, I could easily recommend it.
The video transfer is excellent. This is a very dark and brown movie, because it takes place in Mexico and a lot of the scenes are at night, but the blacks have no noise that I could notice.
The audio mix is Dolby Digital 5.1, and it is a clean mix. Most the work out comes in the wrestling scenes and when the quirky soundtrack music begins to play.
There are actually a good dosage of extras on this DVD. One is a Nickelodeon special, which is actually enjoyable because it seems to be fun on the set. Other extras include behind the scenes with making the music and talking with the writer and director. The audio commentary is okay, it includes Jack Black, Mike White, and Jared Hess. They try to make it interesting by ordering food at the beginning of the commentary, and apparently they are eating during the commentary. Which unfortunately lends to more lag time as they are eating. They do a good job of pointing local talent and how good they were, and Jack makes better jokes in the commentary than he does in the movie, but overall it can be very slow. It seems making a good audio track commentary something VERY few people seem to be able to do.
But for a single disc DVD the extra are very abundant and quite enjoyable.
If you like Jack Black movies and Napoleon Dynamite then I would recommend checking out this disc.
Snakes on a Plane
Simply put this movie is silly. Silly, silly, silly, and more silly. I don't remember ever watching a movie that didn't try to something serious.
If you have not been on the internet, well, ever, then you may not have heard about this movie.
If you haven't been to a theater in sometime, then you probably haven't heard about this movie.
But that doesn't matter. The title alone tells you everything that happens in the movie. And that wouldn't make for very entertaining fair, expect when you add Mr. Bad-Ass himself Samuel L. Jackson.
This movie is no classic, and it was never meant to be.
But it is famous for the amount of blogosphere support it got before it was even released. Plus New Line even got involved with the bloggers who were supporting the film, which was very smart on their part.
But the movie goes something like this:
Sam Jackson was throughly enjoyable to watch. It was very clear that he had fun making this movie, and that joy comes through on the screen.
This is not Citizen Kane, but for sheer silliness and fun this movie hits the mark.
The video here is excellent. I noticed no artifacting, blacks were clean with not much noise.
More importantly it came with DTS 6.1. Which was very enjoyable mix and quite robust. Although snakes slithering did not give the rear surrounds a lot of work, but when needed it was quite enjoyable to listen to.
There is also an audio commentary on the disk with several extras.
The most enjoyable extra I found was "Snakes on a blog" a short documentary about the blogging phenomenon. Interestingly one of the more successful blogs started as an attempt to appear at the premiere of the movie, well New Line was smart and invited several bloggers to the premiere. Since Snakes on a Plane is really famous for its involvement with the blogosphere this is extra to see.