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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  
CARS: Blu-Ray - Disney

Cars is THE new demo disc for 1080p. WOW! Stunning picture, incredible sound, and a great movie to boot. This DVD is the sole reason you should buy a Blu-Ray player. This disc looks like 3-D without the glasses and cannot find a single flaw to mention. There is a feature on this disc called Cine-Explore and it is a cool special feature that produces a tremendous amount of material that continuously pops up on the screen while the movie is playing. There are several excellent extras that are included. The Car Finder game that is great fun and you should give it a try.

ULTIMATE FORCE - BCI

Axon Ray is a decorated war hero that fails in his last assassination mission only to be sent to a rehabilitation island where he finds government corruption. With his refusal to fight, Ray must fight his way off the island or be killed. This film was pretty lame. I know that there is a market for “Grade B” action films, but this one is about a D-. The cast is made up of unknown foreign names with the lead character being one of them. Filipovic is moderately talented and is well-versed in the Martial Arts, but lacks personality making his character as uninteresting as the next one. The sets are not that impressive and the camera angles and overall lighting are cheaply done and take away from the scene. The script is poorly written to the point of boredom giving the actors little chance of creativity. This film makes the Dolph Lundgren “Punisher” film look like an Academy Award candidate. If you like cheaply-done action/martial arts films, this may be the one for you. I would suggest some of the Steven Segal films or even Chuck Norris movies over this one. The DVD is presented in Widescreen format with Digital Surround. Extras include an interview with Filipovic, Theatrical Trailer and “Making of” feature.

DOG BITE DOG - Weinstein

A Cambodian assassin finds himself on the run from Hong Kong police after completing his assignment. This film was pretty good. As far as action/Martial Arts films go, this one is not bad at all. Sam Lee and Edison Chen play convincing roles that successfully play off of one another. The scenes flow nicely making it easier to follow. The script is average with the emphasis on the action sequences. The fight scenes are what make this movie fun to view. I felt the pain of the stuntmen throughout this film. Like any Martial Arts movie, there is a common foe and big showdown at the conclusion. This final showdown is pretty intense with lots of great camera angles and special effects. Overall, I liked the film and would watch is again. The DVD presents the film in Widescreen format with Dolby 5.1 surround. Extras include commentary by Edison Chen and Bey Logan. Disc 2 extras include a Theatrical Trailer and five features on the making of, stunts and cast interviews.

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS - BBC

Meteors fill the skies over Earth causing mass blindness to all who view them. This is part of a plan to dominate the planet set out by a species of carnivorous plants call Triffids. The original movie “Day of the Triffids” came out in 1962 starring Howard Keel as Bill Masen and Nicole Maurey as Christine Durrant. The film was a huge success and is rated as one of the best in the “Grade B” horror category. This remake is done in London and stars John Duttine as Bill Masen with Emma Relph as Jo Payton. The premise is similar to the original with a few modern twists. The script is your typical British Sci-fi along the same lines as Blake 7 or Doctor Who. The set locations are your everyday homes in areas of London and a few stage sets. The special effects of the Triffid plants are pretty cheesy. You have to use the same imagination when watching Doctor Who to get the full effect. Overall, the tone is very eerie leaving the watcher with a sense of unrest. I liked the fact that the show is split into six parts. There are times when the episode slows to a crawl making it hard to push ahead. The final episode is quite good but set six years into the future. For some, this tended to aggravate the watcher as to what happened in that time span. Overall, I enjoyed the film and recommend it to those who love British Sci-fi. The DVD is presented in Widescreen format with digital picture and sound. There is a 12-page booklet included with trivia and background to the show.

RESCUE DAWN - Fox

A Navy Pilot gets shot down in Vietnam where he becomes a POW. This movie was very intense from the beginning to end. Christian Bale did an amazing job in his role as a pilot and POW. Supporting cast Steve Zhan and Jeremy Davies gave equally stunning performances adding much to the suspense and drama. The overall script was well-written in addition to excellent direction by Werner Herzog. You really get into the characters in this film. I wasn’t sure who was going to survive up to the final moments. The final 25 minutes of the movie have you at the edge of your seat. This is one of the most grueling of all POW escape films. The soundtrack by Klaus Badelt was marginal at best but lacked thematic material that I thought was essential to the film. As war films go, this one is definitely in the top 10 for me. I highly recommend this film. The DVD is presented in Widescreen format with Dolby Digital sound. Extras include commentary with Director Werner Herzog and Interviewer Norman Hill. There are also features on the “Making-of” and interviews with the cast. Rounding out the extras are three deleted scenes with commentary and a still gallery.

EVAN ALMIGHTY - Universal

In this sequel to Bruce Almighty, newscaster Evan Baxter (Steve Carrell) has traded in the news desk for a post in Washington as a congressman. Though his campaign was based on the idea of changing the world, Evan drives a gas-guzzling SUV and spends more time trimming his nose hair than with his three sons. When he has a strange encounter with God (Morgan Freeman), God tells him to build an ark, just as Noah did thousands of years ago. Though Evan is skeptical, he finally accepts the task after being hounded by dozens of animals that follow him, two by two. By obeying God, Evan risks his family, career, and sanity--but will a flood actually come and prove him right?

MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION: MOON - HBO

This 3-D IMAX presentation cuts no corners when it comes to its mission, recreating--down to the most precise detail--the experience of landing on the moon. An educational extravaganza, the unique film allows viewers, behind their enormous 3-D glasses and comfortably seated in front of an enormous screen, to experience a moonwalk in its closest approximation. The film begins by noting the fascination that the moon has held for people over the centuries, and looking at their fantasies about what they might find there. Proceeding on to the astronauts who made the trip and the years of preparation that made it possible, the film shows what the lunar landings looked like, using sets that recreate the moon’s surface with painstaking fidelity. The film provides a brief overview of some of the experiments the astronauts were sent to perform, capturing the gravity of the venture as well as the joy they experienced. As they explore the surface of the moon both by foot and by car, the perspective of the audience becomes that of the astronauts, creating a giddy sensation not unlike the optical illusions the space explorers themselves describe.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND: 30 Year Edition - Sony

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is Steven Spielberg’s extraordinary film about a man named Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) who becomes obsessed with meeting extraterrestrials after encountering a UFO on an abandoned road one night. Against the wishes of his wife (Teri Garr) and children, Neary, along with another witness to the sighting (Melinda Dillon), travels to a mysterious mountain where the government has built a landing strip hoping to attract the aliens. Director FranÁois Truffaut costars as Claude Lacombe, one of the organizers of the project. Spielberg hoped to follow up the huge success of JAWS with a low-budget film that would be an easy shoot, but, thanks in part to the complicated special effects, Close Encounters quickly snowballed into being an expensive endeavor but a commercial and artistic success. No one who has seen the film has ever looked at a plate of mashed potatotes the same way again.

TWILIGHT ZONE: The Movie - Warner

In this film adaptation of Rod Serling’s classic sci-fi TV show, four eerie stories are presented, paying homage to the master. In the spine-chilling prologue, Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks are driving down a dark and winding road listening to “Midnight Special” at top volume when the tape suddenly cuts short and they are forced to find a new form of road-trip entertainment: scary stories. Suddenly the road trip isn’t as fun anymore as the driver and the passenger try to outscare one another. In the first segment (directed by John Landis), a bitter and cynical racist receives a major dose of his own medicine. Steven Spielberg’s segment is a retelling of the “Kick the Can” episode, in which a group of elderly people try to recapture their childhood. Joe Dante updates the classic episode that starred Billy Mumy as a monster who controls a small town. Finally, George Miller takes on the fabulous episode “Terror at 40,000 Feet,” in which John Lithgow has a flight to remember.

POLTERGEIST - Warner

Frisky poltergeists put a little excitement into the daily routine of the Freeling family’s humdrum lives by moving furniture and communicating with their youngest daughter, Carol Anne, through the television set. Unfortunately, harmless pranks quickly turn nasty and the previously friendly ghosts kidnap Carol Anne, trapping her in the spirit world. To win the child back, the family calls in a team of parapsychologists and a midget psychic who conduct an elaborate exorcism.

CSI: Season Seven - Paramount

A smash hit from the moment of its 2000 debut, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation remains one of the most popular, innovative, and critically acclaimed crime dramas in television history. Created by Anthony Zuiker and executive produced by movie maven Jerry Bruckheimer, the thrilling series centers on the Las Vegas Police Department’s night-shift forensics unit, which utilizes cutting-edge technology to solve the often grisly crimes of a glamorous city whose constant influx of visitors makes it rife with criminal elements. Quick-witted detective Gil Grissom (William Petersen) leads the highly skilled investigative team that includes his single-mother partner, Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger); hair and fiber expert Nick Stokes (George Eads); former gambling addict Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan); and fresh-faced newbie Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), with the help of a tough-as-nails police captain, Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle), and an efficient lab coroner, Dr. Al Robbins (Robert David Hall). Heavy on science, creative camera work, and uncomfortably graphic depictions of violence, CSI is praised by fans and critics alike for its consistently gripping and well-written storylines, often inspired by real-life cases.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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   Last Update:  January 02, 2008