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.
Tron Legacy is a 3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world that's unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), looks into his father's disappearance and finds himself pulled into the digital world of Tron where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin's loyal confidant Quorra (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life-and-death journey of escape across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.
This Disney kids' adventure is a follow up to the original cult-classic (that was released in an attempt to capitalize on the video game craze), features a much better digital world that represents cyberspace. The film is brilliant from a CG perspective, yet the performances by the cast are spot on. The chemistry between father and son (Bridges and Hedlund) keep the interest of the audience keen, while the 21st century pick up of the story is just as captivating. This film is a great deal of fun on numerous levels. The animation team did a superb job and the fans of the original who are questioning why make a sequel will most definitely be pleased with the latest incarnation. Another little nugget to add concerns the 3D technology that is seemingly taking over the film market as of late. Tron Legacy is one of the few films this year that has utilized the 3D technology in a tasteful way that doesn't inundate the viewer (or make them ill) with overuse. There is no doubt that this film, as was the case with the original, will stimulate the home video game market. The only question is, which company will get the coveted licensing position for the Tron game. Until that time, get out to the theater this month and check out this wholesome family entertainment!
Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff
Bridges & Bruce Boxleitner
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Company: Walt Disney
Now Showing: in Local Theaters
MPAA Rating: NR
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Metalocalypse: Season Three or Wubbzy: Fly us to the Moon, 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!
PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION - Warner
Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection is a new DVD set featuring the three main holiday Peanuts cartoons that are each a classic and cherished by millions of adults and kids alike. The set is remastered and each special is in their own DVD case and comes housed in a cardboard box with art work. What makes this set different from the 2000 release of this set is on "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." This set includes an episode called "It's Magic, Charlie Brown," which replaces the bonus episode called "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown" on the 2000 release of ITGP,CB holiday set. And this set includes all new featurettes on the making of each holiday classic. That alone is worth buying this set. And you also get a bonus music CD containing six song sampler from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" music soundtrack. If that's not enough, each DVD also contains a ITunes code to download two-additional songs from each of the soundtracks. Very nice!
LOTTERY TICKET - Warner
Loose and cheerful neighborhood comedy is just the ticket in Lottery Ticket. Kevin Carson (Bow Wow, Roll Bounce) learns the value of friendship when the lottery ticket he buys on a lark wins $370 million. Suddenly the sexy girl who wouldn't give him the time of day wants to hook up; a local gang boss wants to take him under his wing; and a surly thug just wants to pummel him and take the ticket. Kevin starts to suspect that even his best friend Benny (Brandon T. Jackson, Percy Jackson & the Olympians) just wants the money. But this story hook isn't really what makes the movie tick (which is good, because the plot falls apart at the end); most of the movie follows Kevin and Benny as they ramble around, riffing and bantering with each other and various quirky characters, including Loretta Devine (Death at a Funeral) as Kevin's grandmother, Charlie Murphy (King's Ransom) as a nosy neighbor, and Ice Cube (who also executive produced) as a reclusive ex-boxer.
CATS & DOGS: Revenge of Kitty Galore - Warner
A definite improvement over the original 2001 Cats & Dogs, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is a brand-new story about an underground world of animal intelligence, featuring cat spy agency M.E.O.W.S., a dog intelligence agency, and even a pigeon. They find themselves in the unlikely position of joining forces against renegade M.E.O.W.S. agent Kitty Galore as she seeks revenge against dogs and humans in a plan that will destroy the human race and allow her to rule the world. This 3-D film is a blend of live action, puppetry, and animation, and the combination of better writing and a cast of talented voice artists makes the animal spies in this sequel much more believable than in the previous film. Kitty Galore is unlikable to the core and Bette Midler is absolutely perfect in the role. Neil Patrick Harris is highly effective as Lou, head of the dog agency; James Marsden plays the conflicted police-dog-turned-new-recruit Diggs; Nick Nolte plays fellow canine agent Butch; Christina Applegate is M.E.O.W.S. agent Catherine; and Katt Williams as Seamus does a great pigeon.
METALOCALYPSE: Season Three - Warner
Metalocalypse is one of the funniest shows around. A smart and extremely funny satire of the music bussines. This season the episodes are longer (20 min) which makes them more interesting, and consequently even better. Toki, Nathan, Swisgaaard and Pickle are great, but the show has only one real star. If there is any justice, William Murderface will go down as one of this centuries' greatest comic creations.
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE - Disney
The Sorcerer's Apprentice enjoyably captures this fantasy as a young physics student named Dave (Jay Baruchel, She's Out of My League) learns that he's the inheritor of the powers of Merlin--and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a war between two of Merlin's protégés, Balthazar (Nicolas Cage) and Horvath (Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2). The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a special-effects blockbuster--but it's a pretty good one, not reaching the charmed heights of Pirates of the Caribbean but so much better than Prince of Persia. It runs out of air toward the end, but before that it's jauntily entertaining, with capable dialogue, clever curlicues of plot, and most importantly delightful performances.
DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN - Lionsgate
Charles, an attorney, and Helen, the devoted wife, seem to have everything: money, a beautiful mansion - the American Dream. But just as Helen prepares to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary, her life takes a surprising turn.
WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? - Lionsgate
Part Couples Retreat and part Douglas Sirk on steroids, Tyler Perry's sequel to his 2007 ensemble drama from the play of the same name reunites the four dysfunctional couples from the original film and runs each relationship (and the audience) again through the wringer. If you missed the first trip, don't sweat it. Perry writes in broad strokes, rendering each character readily definable (prideful husband, harpy wife, etc). The Bahamas is an exotic upgrade from Colorado, but the couples arrive for their annual retreat with even more baggage. Relationship guru Patricia (Janet Jackson) is unable to save her own marriage to Gavin (Malik Yoba). Terry (Perry) suspects his attorney wife Diane (Sharon Leal) is cheating on him, while Angela (Tasha Smith) is convinced her husband Marcus (Michael Jai White), now a successful sports talk show host, is cheating on her. Sheila (Jill Scott) is now married to former sheriff Troy (Lamman Rucker), who cannot find a job.
THE LAST AIRBENDER - Paramount
The cartoon epic Avatar: The Last Airbender comes to the big screen as live-action special effects spectacular, with the title simplified to The Last Airbender. The movie is crammed with as much of the show's anime-influenced mythology as can fit: In a fantasy world, different tribes have influence over the elements of air, earth, fire, and water. Only one person can manipulate all four--the Avatar, who is also a bridge between the terrestrial and spirit worlds, and who reincarnates throughout the centuries. But for a hundred years, the Avatar has disappeared--until Katara, a young waterbender, and her brother Sokka discover a young airbender, Aang, frozen under the southern ice. Aang sets off to master the other elements so that he can counter the marauding Fire Nation, who have slain all other airbenders in their campaign to rule the world. Aang's journey and the titanic battles owe a significant debt to the Lord of the Rings trilogy--it's surprising that director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) hasn't made more of an effort to craft something more distinctive.
EXAM - IFC
An intricate puzzler, "Exam" is a topical and prescient locked room mystery that makes good use of standard thriller conventions and modernizes them in unique and timely ways. With eight strangers (and one security guard) enclosed in a classroom, "Exam" initiates a competition and lets the psychological warfare begin. Reliant on a smart script and good performances, this film with its claustrophobic setting and defined time frame allows for a slow build tension that eventually explodes as the clock ticks down. The hook to "Exam" is that these eight individuals are in the last stages of a crucial job interview process and an enigmatic final test is the last hurdle. With desperation and deceit, the prospective employees find themselves combatants in the ultimate mind game!
THE WIZ - Universal
Directed by Sidney Lumet and penned by Joel Schumacher, this lavish 1978 adaptation of the Broadway hit The Wiz was the biggest production filmed in New York City up to that point, utilizing the newly revamped Astoria Studios and locations around the city. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, and Ted Ross star in this Academy Award-nominated musical for the whole family. The Wiz is probably the grandest take on L. Frank Baum's classic tale The Wizard of Oz. The production team created sets with a sense of urban magic and spectacle: a New York subway station literally comes to life, and the massive plaza between the World Trade Center towers is transformed into the Emerald City, featuring nearly 400 dancers with three costume changes. Like all good musicals, the Quincy Jones arrangements are highly hummable long after viewing. In an era before MTV, the camera stays nearly stationary as Ross and Lena Horne vocally soar through their numbers.
FLIPPED - Warner
Even if you're not a child of the early '60s, Flipped's tale will resonate with your heart. Director Rob Reiner treats viewers to a sweet but honest glimpse into the lives of a young girl and boy during the early 1960s as they maneuver through first crushes and heartbreak. Reiner once again shows he understands how to put together a compelling, yet simple, human story. We meet Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll) and Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) on the day Bryce's family moves across the street from Juli's. Told by "flipping" between Juli and Bryce's voices, a tale of early childhood love emerges. Juli loves Bryce's baby blues from the first moment she sees them and she just knows he's holding onto her first kiss. Bryce thinks Juli, who raises chickens and loves the neighborhood sycamore tree, is weird. The story doesn't merely flip between the two stories, though. In 1963, the year eighth grade comes around, Juli begins to wonder if there's any substance behind those baby blues… just as Bryce starts to see Juli's eccentricities as endearing instead of embarrassing.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Season Two - Image
The middle ground between light and shadow just became a whole lot sharper and detailed with this stellar five-disc set, which compiles the entire second season of Rod Serling's classic television series, The Twilight Zone, and gilds the whole package by including a treasure trove of supplemental material. TZ's second season (1960-61) is a stand-out in the series' history thanks to its sheer number of memorable stories; among the episodes that have achieved pop culture landmark status are the chilling "Eye of the Beholder" (a disfigured woman undergoes surgery to appear more "normal") and "The Silence" (Franchot Tone wagers that Liam Sullivan cannot silent for a year). As always, the combination of sharp, intelligent scripting (mostly by Serling, but with notable contributions by Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson) and superb casting (guest stars include Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver, Burgess Meredith, William Shatner, John Carradine, and Don Rickles) produces television that remains as thought-provoking and entertaining today as it was over 40 years ago. Though The Twilight Zone has received numerous home video releases over the years, the aptly titled Definitive Edition is arguably the finest presentation of this series to date. Each of the episodes have been digitally remastered from original camera negatives (even the episodes filmed on videotape look good) and magnetic soundtracks.