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Nick's Pics
Nick Nicholson
Film & Home Entertainment Critic

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


DVD Reviews

We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy The It Crowd, Seasons One, Two or Three or perhaps Sanctuary, Season One on DVD, it is really easy. All you have to do is send me an email at Filmlords@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!

There aren’t many shows on television today that are as interesting as Grey’s Anatomy. Always interesting from one episode to the next, this fifth season is pivotal in the longevity of the series - and just in time, too. The doctors on staff at Seattle Grace Hospital bloom and show new layers, the drama meets and exceeds that of previous seasons, and the show marks an important milestone including its 100th episode with developments that, as with all the great Grey’s episodes, brim with belly laughs and moving tears. Although the season gets off to a slow start, with perhaps a bit more relationship angst than even die hard fans would prefer, things do pick up momentum by the fourth episode. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek “McDreamy” (Patrick Dempsey) start out with the familiar push-pull of their love affair but a resolution, at last, is in their future. Callie (Sara Ramirez) wrestles with her sexual orientation. Cristina (Sandra Oh) is still picking up the pieces from her ruined engagement to the departed Burke (Isaiah Washington). To help her, or maybe to throw her for another loop, the series introduces the gruff, macho military doc, Owen (Kevin McKidd). The season finale is among the show’s best ever, with the fate of two beloved characters, George (T.R. Knight) and Izzie, left unknown and laden with sorrow. Get your copy, stat!

Private Practice is a spin off of the highly popular ABC series Grey’s Anatomy. Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery, a renowned neonatal surgeon realizes that her life isn’t advancing at Seattle Grace and packs her bags and heads off to Santa Monica to start a new life. She reunites with her newly divorced med school friends and joins them in their private practice. In the second season of Private Practice, financial ruin looms over the team as they grapple with such hot-button cultural issues as abortion, teen pregnancy, vaccination, and the right to die, as well as more esoteric issues like accidental incest and a hermaphroditic baby. The doctors engage in vigorous ethical debate and even more vigorous sex as they bounce off each other romantically and professionally. After an uneven first season, the show’s skilled writers, producers, and directors have found a tone that smoothly balances moral debate, personal drama, and light comedy. Though moments may push credulity--the season cliffhanger is a jaw-dropper--Walsh and the rest of the charming cast will keep you engaged. There are a number of worthy extras included in this DVD set.

Now, I know what you’re thinking...another show about another so-so band - when is it all going to end? I must admit that I was very surprised screening this program. The Jonas brothers are very talented musically, as well as from an acting perspective. This show is very tongue in cheek and pokes fun at everything within the celebrity culture. There is no doubt that your kids are going to love this show and, if you give it a chance, you just might too!

That Hamilton Woman tells the story of the real life love affair between Lady Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson. Hamilton was the wife of the British Ambassador to Naples. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh star as the two lead characters. Their performances are incredible together and it’s no wonder, as the two were real life husband and wife! The film centers on the rise through the ranks of a peasant woman who catches the eye of a man with money, Lord Hamilton. All sanity goes out the window as the two marry, which defies all conventional wisdom of the period. After they are married, Hamilton begins her love affair with Nelson. Bolstering the two major characters were very formidable performances by the supporting cast which included Alan Mowbray as Lord Hamilton. Grand sea battles pepper the screen with action that is sure to keep the audience interested. This is a tremendous period piece with a historical twist that everyone is sure to enjoy!

SpongeBob SquarePants First 100 Episodes is the must-have DVD collection for the über SpongeBob fan. This collection includes every episode from Seasons 1 through 5 plus exclusive special features on 14 discs. All the 100 episodes have been remastered beautifully, and re-introduce Spongebob from top to bottom well, from guilty pleasures favorites. Every short feels like a treat heart and soul, a great treat for anyone who has been a hard core Spongebob fan from young and old. Check it out, as there is no doubt this product will put a smile on your face.

Happy couple Fiona and Dom have a common passion – Latin Dancing. One night, after winning a glorious dance competition, they have a car accident which turns their lives upside down. Although Fiona loses her leg and Dom loses his memory, there’s nothing that can keep them off the dance floor in this darkly hilarious, gag-filled comedy. Sure to tug at the heartstrings a bit, this DVD is still very interesting and worth the purchase.

Action...adventure...fast motorcycles... a female friend who calls herself The Scarlet Whip...and one of the most enduring and legendary heroes of all time! Diego de la Vega is a modern-day young man starting his first year of college. A descendant of past Zorros, he feels compelled to pick up the mantle of his ancestors when the city of his birth grows increasingly corrupt. Being a modern Zorro means no longer riding a horse. Instead, Zorro fights crime on a very cool purple motorcycle called the Tornado Z with crime-fighting tools that include a Z-Pod, Z-Phone and other surprises. This is the Zorro for the new Millennium!

Victorian London was a boon for crooks--and a bane for Scotland Yard, whose job it was to thwart crime. In the pages of fiction, the citizens of the capital often turned to private sleuths for redress. But Sherlock Holmes was not the only detective in town. Contemporary writers created an impressive cast of investigators, both amateur and professional, as colorful as the criminals they set out to catch. Some of the detectives in this classic British series work with the police. Others achieve success in spite of them. And a few even fall under official suspicion themselves. Yet all pit their wits against the best that London’s underworld has to offer in 13 finely crafted mysteries delivered by Britain’s top character actors.

For any fan of Victorian media, these classic tales of love and loss based on the fiction of Henry James. Peer into the drawing rooms of Victorian high society in these vintage adaptations of the writings of Henry James. This enchanting collection plays out the tensions and travails of late 19th-century romance, in which English accents encounter American attitudes to powerful effect. Follow the drama as it unfolds in six scintillating episodes that are sure to pique your interest. The script and acting is captivating from beginning to end.

Always creative and yet never questionable, Wallace and Gromit always seem to please their audience. While looking for a fast way to earn dough, Wallace decides to make it. Armed with a batch of ovens, an army of robotic kneading arms and an old-fashioned windmill, Wallace & Gromit start “Top Bun,” their new bread-baking business. Sales rise quickly and Wallace falls head over buns in love with a seductive bread-industry icon, Piella Bakewell. But when bakers suddenly start disappearing, Gromit realizes that his master is in danger as he follows a twisting, turning trail of crumbs to solve a murder mystery that becomes - A Matter of Loaf and Death!

Daphne Zuniga shines in this compelling story. Diana McQueen (Daphne Zuniga), a con woman with a conscience, tries to start over by moving out West and posing as her recently-deceased friend, Jen, a woman betrothed to a rancher she has never met. But Diana’s lies begin to crumble when her new fiancé grows suspicious and her violent past suddenly shows up on her doorstep. As seen on Hallmark Channel and also starring Greg Evigan and Cameron Bancroft.

Presented by Shelley Duvall, these nine award-winning tales weave American folk heroes into larger than life stories full of memorable characters, plus wonderful original music and costumes. Featuring a who’s who of Hollywood stars (including Danny Glover, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Richards, Martin Short and more), these tales will entertain kids and adults alike. In this anthology collection, the focus is on American Folklore stories rather than the more internationally known fairy tales of the more well known collection. Superb storytelling and acting, this DVD set is sure to be a family favorite!

With sublime awkwardness, Seth Rogen throws himself into the role of a deluded, socially inept shopping mall security guard. Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen) protects his little kingdom with a mixture of grandiose passion and borderline incompetence; he can’t catch a flasher in the parking lot or a thief with inside connections because his prejudices and desires cloud his ability to see what’s right in front of him--all he can see is the trashy cosmetics salesgirl Brandi (Anna Faris) who thinks he’s nothing but a creep. Though he resents the intrusion of a police detective (Ray Liotta), Ronnie decides to pursue his true dream: Becoming a cop so he can carry a gun. The plot isn’t what matters in Observe and Report--this comedy is about letting talented actors create strange characters with enough roots in reality to make them very, very funny.

Fame is back, and better than ever! The latest edition follows the lives of the faculty and students at the New York City High School of the Performing Arts. The seven disc set includes all of the episodes from seasons one and two so if you have never seen it, you might really enjoy seeing what it’s all about. The cast is strong and the dancing/choreography segments are very real. Any fan of dancing will truly enjoy this set!

Everyone who is alive today knows about the Star Trek series. Paramount continues to please the entire Star Trek universe by putting out these original episodes, remastered on Blu-ray. One of the most amazing aspects of this set is the ability for the viewer to ‘toggle’ back and forth between the originally broadcast episode and the remastered episode for this release. Another cool feature on this box set is the Mobile-Blu. This application allows you to use your iPhone or iPod Touch as a remote control for the movie. This allows you to transfer the special features video and exclusive interview video directly to your iPhone or iPod Touch. The special features video is then stored on your phone for you to watch whenever you want without needing the Blu-ray discs. Simply brilliant and a must own!

Away We Go has an incredible mix of ingredients that include an incredible script co-written by Dave Eggers, directed by Sam Mendes, has a cast starring Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski, and features an astounding supporting cast that includes Catherine O’Hara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, and more. What’s even more incredible is that all these ingredients blend together into a truly marvelous but very non-traditional romantic comedy. For one thing, Burt (Krasinski) and Verona (Rudolph) are already a couple and expecting their first child. What they don’t know is where they’re going to live--so they set off on a tour of disparate locations where they have friends or relatives, sampling not only different cities and climates but also different families. The social and emotional collisions that follow are sometimes very funny and sometimes heart wrenching.

Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn star in this rare romantic comedy that’s bursting with originality, humor and sweetness. It’s lust at first sight for laid-back motel night manager Mike (Zahn) when Sue (Aniston), an uptight sales rep, checks in. Convinced that Sue is his dream girl, Mike shakes up his slacker life in an outrageous pursuit across the country. But can he steal her away from her hot-tempered boyfriend (Woody Harrelson)? Both Mike and Sue must go on their own twisted journeys to find out if what they really need is each other.

The clear fan favorite of the X-Men universe, Wolverine, finally gets his own movie vehicle with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This is a tale that reaches way, way back into the hairy mutant’s disheveled family history. Somewhere in the wilds of northwest Canada in the early 1800s, two boys grow up amid violence: half-brothers with very special powers. Eventually they will become the near-indestructible warriors known as Wolverine and Sabretooth, played respectively by Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber. Danny Huston is the sinister government operative whose experiments keep pulling Wolverine back in, all the while Lynn Collins, the woman who shares a peaceful Canadian co-existence with our hero, attempts to pull him out. The film opens quickly, but tends to bog down a bit as the plot begins to develop. If you are looking for a blockbuster, keep looking. However, if you are seeking a good popcorn flick, this one is definitely for you. What is really interesting in this set is the newly developed Blu-ray Live technology. Fox is introducing a new feature with X-Men Origins: Wolverine called “Live Lookup,” which allows any Blu-ray player equipped with BD-Live and a working Internet connection to access IMDB.com filmography information about any of the actors on screen, or in the movie. Although this isn’t revolutionary, as anyone could do this with a laptop, the technology of Live Lookup is indeed seamless and easy to use for those less tech savvy, and much more visually pleasing than going to the stand-alone IMDB.com site. Plus, unlike early DVDs, where filmographies were stored directly on the disc, and therefore out-of-date quite quickly, Live Lookup will remain forever current.

Contact Filmlords@gmail.com if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
August 05, 2009