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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.


 

Movie Reviews

THE BLIND SIDE

The Blind Side depicts the remarkable true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Oher’s presence in the Touhys’ lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own. Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. As a football player and student, Oher works hard and, with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle. In the latest chapter of his inspiring story, Oher was a First Round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, selected by the Baltimore Ravens. The Touhys were there to share the moment with him.

I have never really been a fan of Sandra Bullock. Matter of fact, I have often been one of her harshest critics. Her roles are often the same and generally lack the depth necessary to keep the interest of someone of above average intelligence. That is, until Bullock’s performance in The Blind Side. Bullock may have finally found the performance and role of a lifetime as Tuohy, as she commands the screen with the vigor and determination that very well could produce an Oscar nomination for her performance. Her performance is peppered with witty remarks that keep the audience in chuckles all the while exuding the vigilance to get what she wants from everyone around her. Newcomer Quinton Aaron, who portrays Michael Oher, does a brilliant job conveying the wide range of emotions necessary without the assistance of much dialog. Of a surprising nature, I found Tim McGraw’s performance as the family patriarch to be very positive. The cast, from top to bottom, feed off each other’s energy. All in all, The Blind side is very well done sports film that will stand the test of time. Wholesome and for the entire family, it is sure to not disappoint.

Starring: Sandra Bullock & Tim McGraw
Director: John Lee Hancock
Company: Warner Bros.
Now Showing: In area Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Grade: A

Movie Interview

Running away from a troubled marriage, Kate Frazier (Kelly Macdonald, No Country for Old Men) hopes to find anonymity with a new home and a new job in Chicago. What Kate finds instead is Frank Logan (Michael Keaton, Batman), a veteran hit man who intends to kill her when he learns she may be a witness to his latest hit. But when he realizes she is like him, a troubled soul haunted by the past, their relationship deepens, and his plans change. Now, Logan must decide if he should walk away from his old life or use it as a way to secure their future.

In this heartwarming comedy, minor leaguer Carlton Garrett (Justin Timberlake) takes an unexpected road trip to track down his estranged father, legendary baseball player Kyle Garrett (Jeff Bridges) when Carlton’s mother (Mary Steenburgen) becomes sick. Knowing his charming yet painfully immature dad’s likelihood to disappoint, Carlton enlists his on-again-off-again girlfriend Lucy (Kate Mara) for emotional support. Once reunited, Carlton struggles to deal with the series of misadventures caused by his father’s antics, including missed flights, car trouble and bathroom brawls. Years of miscommunication, frustration and comically awkward attempts at bonding come to a head as the mismatched trio make their way from Ohio back home to Houston to reunite the family.

When the French make a horror/gore comedy, you know things are going to get extremely rude! Best friends and hardcore partiers Sam, Alice and Prune have scored invitations to Medici Night , the legendary VIP bash held every year at a remote castle. But when they discover that this wild party is being thrown by an elite race of blood-crazed vampires, they ll have to stake, stab, slice, bludgeon and blast their way out of a soiree where the hosts are thirsty and the bar is now open. Is it in bad taste to massacre a horde of undead guests even if they are a total pain in the neck?

If the devil is in the details, there’s a lot of wicked fun in Angels & Demons, the sequel (originally a prequel) to The Da Vinci Code. Director Ron Howard delivers edge-of-your-pew thrills all over the Vatican, the City of Rome, and the deepest, dankest catacombs. Tom Hanks is dependably watchable in his reprised role as Professor Robert Langdon, summoned urgently to Rome on a matter of utmost urgency--which happens to coincide with the death of the Pope, meaning the Vatican is teeming with cardinals and Rome is teeming with the faithful. A religious offshoot group, calling themselves the Illuminati, which protested the Catholic Church’s prosecution of scientists 400 years ago, has resurfaced and is making extreme, and gruesome, terrorist demands. The film zooms around the city, as Langdon follows clues embedded in art, architecture, and the very bone structure of the Vatican.

In this action-packed adventure series, the world’s greatest superheroes, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter, join forces as the Justice League to battle powerful villains, supernatural creatures and evil entities determined to take over the world and destroy the League. For any fan of the original super hero characters, the Justice League set is a must own for all.

A buried 1917 Indian motorcycle brings together the rebellious Danny (Matt Dallas), his negligent father (Sal Landi) and Shelby (Alison Haislip), a young and beautiful mechanic. Despite past wounds, the three work together to rebuild the busted bike and overcome their personal demons. A very gripping program that is sure to capture your interest from start to finish. Get your copy today.

All films take a certain suspension of disbelief. Fight Club takes perhaps more than others, but if you’re willing to let yourself get caught up in the anarchy, this film, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, is a modern-day morality play warning of the decay of society. Edward Norton is the unnamed protagonist, a man going through life on cruise control, feeling nothing. To fill his hours, he begins attending support groups and 12-step meetings. True, he isn’t actually afflicted with the problems, but he finds solace in the groups. This is destroyed, however, when he meets Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), also faking her way through groups. Spiraling back into insomnia, Norton finds his life is changed once again, by a chance encounter with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), whose forthright style and no-nonsense way of taking what he wants appeal to our narrator. Tyler and the protagonist find a new way to feel release: they fight. They fight each other, and then as others are attracted to their ways, they fight the men who come to join their newly formed Fight Club. Marla begins a destructive affair with Tyler, and things fly out of control, as Fight Club grows into a nationwide fascist group that escapes the protagonist’s control.

Three teams of small-time criminals decide to rip off an irascible pawnshop owner’s legendary riches. Hilariously, each group’s plan is more ridiculous than the next, and everybody is planning the Big Job for the same night! A stellar cast including Danny Masterson, Leon and Dominique Swain brings to life this stylish spoof of the beloved heist comedy genre. Frankly, this film is hilarious and for any fan of tongue in cheek comedy.

Famed NFL linebacker Dhani Jones will need more than shoulder pads where he’s going. He’ll be embarking on a global sports odyssey that will take him from Australia’s shores to the mountains of Switzerland! Being the top athlete he is, he throws himself into everything from Ireland’s hurling to Russia’s Sambo fighting. More than a football player, he’s also a true Renaissance man. He explores each country’s culture by getting to know the locals, taking in the sights and indulging in its cuisine. Experienced by Dhani Jones, this eye-opening, high-energy adventure reveals the world as you’ve never seen it before!

John Crichton. Astronaut. Flung through a wormhole and lost in a galaxy far from home. He finds himself in the middle of a prison break, surrounded by hostile aliens, soaring through space inside a glorious living space ship called Moya. Hunted by the relentless Peacekeepers, he allies himself with his unimaginably alien fellow refugees and searches for a way home. So begins the epic sci-fi classic Farscape. A fusion of live action, state-of-the-art puppetry, prosthetics and CGI, Farscape features mind-boggling alien life forms, dazzling special effects, edge-of-your-seat thrills, irreverent humor and unforgettable characters — all brought to life by the creative minds at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. No wonder it’s been called the most imaginative sci-fi series in television history. Here, in time for the series’ tenth anniversary, are all four Farscape seasons, 88 episodes, together for the first time in one epic collection. These are the adventures of Moya’s crew — Crichton, Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun, warrior Ka D’Argo, azure priestess Zhaan, spritely thief Chiana, Dominar Rigel, Pilot and many others. Like Moya herself, this package contains amazing surprises including hours of bonus materials, making-of featurettes, commentaries, interviews, deleted scenes and much more. Prepare for Starburst!

Naruto Volume one encompasses the first five books of Kishimoto’s manga, and contains three basic arcs. The first establishes our core cast: Uzumaki Naruto, an impulsive and mischievous would-be ninja who doesn’t know he has the spirit of a fox demon imprisoned within him; Sasuke, the most promising student in Naruto’s class; Sakura, the smart girl with a hidden temper and a thing for Sasuke; plus the trio’s two teachers, Iruka and Kakashi. Of the two teachers, Iruka appears the more empathetic toward Naruto’s plight. Though the kid doesn’t know he has a nine-tailed demon inside him, all the adults in the Village of the Hidden Leaves do. “When the people reject someone’s very existence and look at that person,” Iruka says, “their eyes become cold.” It’s this outcast status which fuels our hero’s desire to become the Greatest Ninja Ever. The story arcs are all very interesting and are sure to keep your interest. Get your copy today!

Smurfs cartoons remain a favorite for those people that grew up watching them as kids. The stories of Papa Smurf, Gargamel and the rest of the gang always keep smiles on the kids faces. Warner has decided to put out certain episodes on DVD, but for some reason has decided to stay away from creating the larger box sets that we all seem to want. Oh well. Some Smurfs are better than no smurfs. Get your copy today!

Touched By an Angel: the Inspiration Collection features select episodes from the critically-acclaimed and landmark show that brought a message of hope and faith to millions of families. Get inspired again with your entire family with the Emmy nominated show that followed the adventures of angels Monica (Roma Downey), Tess (Della Reese) and Andrew (John Dye).

An excellent period film with a wholesome story throughout. Good family viewing, with action, suspense, drama, and some romance. A sequel to story #7, “Love Takes Wing”, it is right on to bring a satisfying conclusion to the series based on the books of Janette Oke. This 88 minutes brings Dr. Belinda Owens (Sarah Jones), now grown and married to Lee into several situations relating to a doctor’s patients and their health concerns. At the same time, a friend from medical school, Dr. Annie Nelson, (two female doctors is unusual for the time period), arrives pregnant and stays with Belinda and Lee till the baby is due. Belinda has her own emotional issues to deal with as a result.

A bromantic comedy par excellence, Humpday pushes the concept of male bonding and male competition (so often intertwined) to its end point. Two old buddies, Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard), reunite after a few years’ time. Mark is living the bourgeois life in Seattle, with a home, a wife (Alycia Delmore), and a responsible job. Andrew’s just blown in from vagabonding around Mexico, and his bohemian cred is as thick as his beard. When the buds drunkenly vow to participate in a local amateur porn-movie contest with themselves as stars, the stage is set for a game of stare down: neither guy wants to be the first to blink and admit he isn’t quite open-minded or free-swinging enough for the stunt. One large roadblock: Ben needs to actually convey the information about the film project to his wife, a dilemma that leads to some of the movie’s funniest scenes. Director Lynn Shelton works in an improvisatory style, figuring out the dialogue with the actors and creating a loose, frowzy atmosphere within scenes.

Firefighter Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) finds his life turned upside-down when his fiancée suddenly calls off their pending nuptials per the recommendation of radio love guru Dr. Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman). Determined to get back at this “love doctor,” Sullivan forges a fake marriage license, “accidentally” marrying him to Emma,who’s already engaged to Richard (Colin Firth). But as Patrick’s charms begin to wear Emma down, she must decide which of these bachelors is her “Mr. Right.” Also starring Sam Shepard, Justina Machado and Isabella Rossellini in this romantic comedy that proves even the experts need to learn a few love lessons now and then.

In this heartwarming comedy, minor leaguer Carlton Garrett (Justin Timberlake) takes an unexpected road trip to track down his estranged father, legendary baseball player Kyle Garrett (Jeff Bridges) when Carlton’s mother (Mary Steenburgen) becomes sick. Knowing his charming yet painfully immature dad’s likelihood to disappoint, Carlton enlists his on-again-off-again girlfriend Lucy (Kate Mara) for emotional support. Once reunited, Carlton struggles to deal with the series of misadventures caused by his father’s antics, including missed flights, car trouble and bathroom brawls. Years of miscommunication, frustration and comically awkward attempts at bonding come to a head as the mismatched trio make their way from Ohio back home to Houston to reunite the family.

Now much older, Ben Tennyson faces the wrath of the DNAliens, who have captured his Grandpa Max and are scheming a full-scale infiltration of Earth and the universe. Ben teams with his cousin Gwen Tennyson and his former nemesis Kevin Eleven to fight these new alien hoards and save the universe with the power of the Omnitrix. For those that are really into cartoons and sci-fi, this set is definitely for you. Captivating and creative, it will put a smile on the kids’ faces!

Funny People pulls off quite a feat: it examines the sources of comedy and manages to be knockout funny. Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, a successful comedian of Adam Sandler proportions who is diagnosed with a fatal blood disease. Faced with impending death, he recognizes that he has no friends and decides to make a best friend out of an aspiring young comedian named Ira (Seth Rogen). This lopsided relationship gradually takes on aspects of true friendship as Ira forces George to try to reconnect with the people in his life, including his ex-girlfriend Laura (Leslie Mann). But forging real relationships conflicts with all the impulses that feed George’s comedy: can he truly re-create his life? Funny People has enough raw, no-inhibitions comedy to satisfy Sandler fans, but the core of the movie is far more complex and compelling--and significantly, Sandler rises to it.

NFL Films rarely seem to put a foot wrong and they certainly maintain their high standards with this release. Stunning, beautiful images from the 2008 season combine with the best commentary lines and miked players/coaches to create a brilliant document of the season. The Super Bowl in particular is expertly handled and truly conveys how exciting a game it was to witness. The only gripe that some might have is that it is a little short when considering the price tag (the main feature is 87 mins long). This didn’t bother me though as the 87 mins on display are more entertaining then most sports DVDs twice the length. You’ll get good re-watch value as well. A nice companion piece to the Super Bowl I - XL set.

Take a wild ride to discover the amazing 1200-year global history of the cowboy. Rope wild bulls on one of the most famous American ranches. Swim with horses through the watery Argentine back country. Stage an attack on the casbah with Moroccan mounted warriors. Gallop over mountaintops in spectacular British Columbia. Journey on horseback through these exotic landscapes and many more as you Ride Around the World!

A film that has spawned a thousand imitations but never been bettered – Mamoru Oshii’s legendary anime film Ghost in the Shell returns in a stunning new edition remastered by Oshii himself. For this definitive Version 2.0 release, all the original animations are re-produced with latest digital film and animation technologies, including 3D-CGI. Set in a re-imagined Hong Kong at a time when cyberspace is expanding into human reality, the story follows top cyberwarrior Major Motoko Kusanagi as she hovers on the border of total immersion in the digital world.

The deadliest assassin to stand the test of time. From a Producer of Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon comes Blood: The Last Vampire, based on the cult hit anime series. Demons have infested Earth. And only one warrior stands between the dark and the light: Saya, a half-human, half-vampire samurai who preys on those who feast on human blood. Joining forces with the shadowy society known as the Council, Saya is dispatched to an American military base, where an intense series of swordfights leads her to the deadliest vampire of all. And now after 400 years, Saya’s greatest hunt is about to begin.

From the award winning director of Comic Book Confidential, Grass, Go Further and a host of paradigm-shifting films reappraising the backwaters of popular culture, Ron Mann investigates the miraculous, near-secret world of fungi with his newest piece of cinema, Know Your Mushrooms. Mushrooms follows über myco visionaries Gary Lincoff and Larry Evans as they lead us on a hunt for the wild mushroom and the deeper cultural experiences attached to the mysterious fungi. Combining material filmed at the Telluride Mushroom Fest with animation and archival footage along with a neo-psychedelic soundtrack by The Flaming Lips and The Sadies, Know Your Mushrooms opens the doors to perception and takes the audience on a longer, stranger trip.

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   Last Update:
November 25 , 2009