Archive for June, 2011

The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park are coming to Blu-Ray for the first time

Posted in Movie News on June 28, 2011 by Steve Mesa

Universal City, California, June 27, 2011 – The wait is finally over to experience one of the most anticipated motion-picture trilogies of all time like never before when Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III debut as a trilogy set on Blu-ray October 25, 2011 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s award-winning cinematic franchise, based on the best-selling book by  Michael Crichton, generated nearly $2 billion combined at the worldwide box office and featured groundbreaking visual effects that changed the art of movie-making forever. Now, all three epic films have been digitally restored and remastered in flawless high definition for the ultimate viewing experience. Additionally, the films’ visceral sound effects and the unforgettable music from legendary composer John Williams can now be heard in pristine 7.1 surround sound. Arriving in stores just in time for holiday gift giving, this collectible three-movie set also features hours of bonus features, including an all-new, six-part documentary and digital copies of all three films that can be viewed on an array of electronic and portable devices anytime, anywhere.  The Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is also available on DVD, as well as in a spectacular Limited Edition Blu-ray Trilogy Gift Set  which includes a custom T-rex dinosaur statue.

“From the moment T-Rex first towered over worldwide movie audiences, the Jurassic Park Trilogy has electrified fans with its heart-pounding action and awe-inspiring technological innovations,” says Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “With this newly remastered and digitally restored edition, we continue the franchise’s legacy by delivering to home viewers spectacular picture and sound that keeps the films as fresh and visceral now as they were when audiences first experienced them.”

The Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy features an all-star cast including Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mozzello, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, William H. Macy and Tea Leoni.  In addition to the talented cast of actors, the Trilogy features stars of a different magnitude—from the huge Tyrannosaurus rex to the vicious Velociraptor, the Jurassic Park films showcase an extraordinary level of realism and technical innovation brought to life by a talented design team which include: Stan Winston, Live Action Dinosaurs; ILM’s Dennis Muren, Full Motion Dinosaurs; Phil Tippett, Dinosaur Supervisor; Michael Lantieri, Special Dinosaur Effects and Special Visual Effects by Industrial Light & Magic.

 

ALL-NEW BONUS FEATURES ON BLU-RAY & DVD 

  • “Return to Jurassic Park” – this six-part documentary features all-new interviews with the many of the cast members from all three films, the filmmakers and Steven Spielberg.
    • Dawn of a New Era
    • Making Pre-history
    • The Next Step in Evolution
    • Finding The Lost World
    • Something Survived
    • The Third Adventure

 

ADDITIONAL FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY 

  • BD-LIVE – Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to watch exclusive content, the latest trailers, and more!
  • MY SCENES:  Bookmark your favorite scenes from the film.
  • pocket BLU:   The groundbreaking pocket BLU app uses iPad®, iPhone®, iPod® touch, Android, PC and Mac® to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray player.  Plus iPad® owners can enjoy a new, enhanced edition of pocket BLU™ made especially to take advantage of the tablet’s larger screen and high resolution display.  Consumers will be able to browse through a library of Blu-ray content and watch entertaining extras on-the-go in a way that’s bigger and better than ever before.  pocket BLU offers advanced features such as:
    • ADVANCED REMOTE CONTROL: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live functions with ease.
    • VIDEO TIMELINE:  Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
    • MOBILE-TO-GO:  Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
    • BROWSE TITLES:  Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray.  They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
    • KEYBOARD:  Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.

 

The following bonus features also appear on the both the Blu-ray and DVD:

  • The Making of Jurassic Park 
  • The Making of The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • The Making of Jurassic Park III 
  • Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park 
  • Early Pre-Production Meetings  
  • The World of Jurassic Park
  • The Magic of Industrial Light & Magic
  • Location Scouting 
  • Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors In The Kitchen 
  • The Jurassic Park Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton 
  • Industrial Light & Magic and Jurassic Park: Before and After The Visual Effects
  • Industrial Light & Magic and The Lost World: Jurassic Park Before & After 
  • The Industrial Light & Magic Press Reel  
  • A Visit to Industrial Light & Magic 
  • Hurricane in Kauai Featurette 
  • Dinosaur Turntables 
  • The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III 
  • Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs  
  • Animatics: T-Rex Attack
  • The Special Effects of Jurassic Park III  
  • The Sounds of Jurassic Park III 
  • The Art of Jurassic Park III  
  • Tour of Stan Winston Studio 
  • Feature Commentary with Special Effects Team 
  • Production Archives: Storyboards, Models, Photographs, Design Sketches and Conceptual Drawings
  • Deleted Scenes 
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • And MORE!

“Submarine” is a unique tale that borrow elements from other films

Posted in Reviews on June 17, 2011 by Steve Mesa

Straight from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Submarine” is a unique and offbeat coming-of-age comedy that borrows certain elements from Wes Anderson.

Based on a novel by Joe Dunthrone, “Submarine” is a about Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a 15-year-old Welsh schoolboy who has two missions he must accomplished: save the marriage of his parents (Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) and have sex for the first time before his next birthday. When Oliver finds his mother being wooed by self-help guru Graham (Paddy Considine), it is up to Oliver to keep Graham away from his mother and to motivate his depressed father to win back his woman. Meanwhile, Oliver begins and negotiates a relationship with Jordana (Yasmin Page), an intimidating rebel who has a knack to start a fire or two.

As the debut feature of Richard Ayoade, who is a well-known English TV comedian, “Submarine” is a fascinating story that seems too clever and too mature like the main protagonist. It also explore the innocence that one experiences at 15-years-old whether it experiencing first love or family trouble. Even though this kind of story has been told countless times, but Ayode makes the story fresh this time around.

“Submarine” seems to be heavenly influenced by many films as if Ayode is mixing the styles of Wes Anderson comedies with the filmmaking sensibility of a French New Wave film. It is an interesting combination of the two styles, but it not quite as refreshing or original as another film that was heavily influenced by the French New Wave like “(500) Days of Summer”.

Ayoade manages to balance between the comedic and somber tones of the film, especially in a scene where Oliver imagines how everyone in Wales would react to his death. With the narration of the film becoming amusing at times, it feels unnecessary for Ayoade to use voice-over monologues throughout the film.

The actors are perfectly suited for this role, especially Craig Roberts as Oliver. Flawlessly portrayed by Roberts, Oliver is a geeky hipster with a passion for old foreign films and who is way too mature for his age. Yasmin Page plays Jordana as a rebellious and cool young girl who is deeply troubled and dealing with some family issues of her own.

Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor are great as Oliver’s parents with Hawkins as the bored housewife who still has passion that is waiting to be reawakened and Taylor as her husband, a depressed marine biologist. Paddy Considine also manages to get a few laughs as the Mullet-sporting New Age buffoon is trying romance his ex-flame.

Even though it is not as original or refreshing as you might think, “Submarine” is a witty and clever film thanks to unique filmmaking skills of Ayoade and the actors that bring Dunthrone’s characters to life.

“Submarine”: 4 stars out of 5

“Submarine” opens in Regal South Beach Cinemas today.

“Green Lantern” is anything but super

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on June 16, 2011 by Steve Mesa

Ryan Reynolds headlines the latest superhero movie that is anything but super in “Green Lantern”.

When an alien by the name of Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) crash lands on Earth, test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is brought to the crash site where is given a ring that wields tremendous power to whoever wears it. From there, he is inducted into the Green Lanterns Corps (a police force in space comprised of 3,000 alien species) and trained by other Green Lanterns like Sinestro (Mark Strong) and Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) on the planet Oa. Meanwhile, scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) comes into contact with residue from destructive being Parallax that causes him to develop telekinetic powers, which he uses it for revenge.

Directed by Martin Campbell and written by four screenwriters, “Green Lantern” is not the worst comic book movie adaptation (those honors would go to “Jonah Hex”), but it is very disappointing and boring film despite the talent behind the film. The mood of the film is all over the place, where at times it is hard to distinguish the times we need to laugh and the times to take this movie seriously.

While Marvel Comics have a plethora of fascinating superheroes, DC Comics only have two great superheroes: Batman and Superhero. All other heroes in that universe pale in comparison to Batman and Superman including Green Lantern.  Why make a film about a guy who harnesses his power by the thought of good will? While the premise for the film sounds boring, the movie is even more boring. The action that occurs on the planet Oa is as boring as the action that occurs on Earth. The “origins” formula worked better in “Thor” then it did in “Green Lantern”. When the formula is used here, it is predictable and not original.

Ryan Reynolds does the best he can with what he is given as Hal. He brings his usual wise-cracking attitude to the film, including some amusing interactions with his fellow Green Lanterns. However, his attitude changes (along with the movie’s tone) when the time comes to save the world. Blake Lively is the non-CGI eye candy where she plays the standard love interest for the superhero. Under some heavy-duty makeup, Peter Sarsgaard does make much of an impression as the film’s villain. Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett are wasted in their roles as a senator and a scientist as they lend nothing to this film except their name.  

The CGI and action in the film is very mixed as the CGI does the best to its ability to bring Green Lantern’s power and the planet Oa to life. However, there are times where you can tell Reynolds is just acting in front of a green screen and talking to non-existent creatures.

The 3D works better in “Green Lantern” than it does in other live-action films recently, but there are only a couple of scenes that work in 3D. In other words, save your money.  

Even though it is not as bad as Ang Lee’s “Hulk” or the “Fantastic Four” films, “Green Lantern” is another disappointing summer movie that is more boring than it is entertaining even at a runtime under two hours.

“Green Lantern”: 2.5 stars out of 5

The “X-Men” franchise is brought back to life with “First Class”

Posted in Reviews on June 3, 2011 by Steve Mesa

Just when you thought that the dreaded “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was the final nail in the proverbial coffin for the “X-Men” franchise, director Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass”) explores the origins and formation of the X-Men in “X-Men: First Class”.

Set in the 1960’s, the story follows telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Holocaust survivor Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) aka Magneto. They meet for the first time during a recon mission in which Erik was attempting to kill former Nazi officer, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).  Shaw has been secretly manipulating the Soviet Union and the U.S. into attacking each other. With the fate of mankind in their hands, Charles and Erik put their differences aside to assemble a team of young mutants that include Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicolas Hoult) in order to prevent Shaw from fulfilling his sinister mission.

Going back to the beginning always seems to be an indication that a franchise is in need of a reboot. After the bloated “X-Men: The Last Stand” and disastrous “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, Along with “X2: X-Men United”, “X-Men: First Class” is one of the best movies in the franchise that could serve as a bridge between this movie and Bryan Singer’s 2000 “X-Men” unless potential sequels are spawned from this movie.

This maybe Matthew Vaughn’s second comic-book movie that he has directed, but the tone in “X-Men: First Class” is quite different compared to the satirical and ironic tone of “Kick-Ass”. He manages to pull off several noticeable action set pieces including an astounding scene where Erik uses his power to lift a submarine out of the ocean. One particular shot which seems like it was lifted from an actual comic-book panel involves a death scene that involving a unique weapon of choice.

The ensemble of “X-Men: First Class” is great and everyone does a superb job in their roles from   Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence to Kevin Bacon, but the real stars of the film are McAvoy and Fassbender as Xavier and Magneto. Watching the evolution of this relationship between the two is the one of the most compelling aspects of the film as moviegoers will bear witness to how these two become allies at first and eventually become enemies. Their different views and beliefs are highlighted in a serious moment between the two where they raise valid points like two politicians in a debate. It is more interesting to see Xavier and Magneto as allies, especially when the time comes to recruiting and training young mutants that includes a scene featuring a surprising and funny cameo.

As written by Vaughn, Jane Goldman and “Thor” co-writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, the film is nice mixture of an action-packed comic book movie that has some dramatic gravitas. Setting this film in the 1960s is different and unique take compared to usual comic-book movies including the injection of ‘60s images like President John F. Kennedy addressing a concern nation or the sight of the War Room from “Dr. Strangelove”. The overlapping of real history and fantasy is seamless, especially with the orchestration of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the climax. There are also many references to “X-Men” cinematic universe that answers shows the origins of Xavier’s Cerebro device, the evolution of Hank McCoy from man to beast and how Xavier ended up in wheelchair. There is even a shot-for-shot remake of the Holocaust scene from producer Bryan Singer’s first “X-Men” movie.

“X-Men: First Class” is the best summer movie and possibly the best movie of the year thus far that reboots life back into a tarnished franchise just like “Batman Begins” and “Star Trek”.

“X-Men: First Class”: 5 stars out of 5

Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” is his strongest film in years

Posted in Reviews on June 3, 2011 by Steve Mesa

Director Woody Allen’s filmography has been all over the place in recent years with more misses than hits, but he makes his first best film of this decade with Midnight in Paris.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a Hollywood screenwriter who is vacationing in Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams). When Inez prefers to see the sights of Paris with her old friend Paul (Michael Sheen), Gil is left to wander the streets of Paris alone. When he is invited into a vintage car by strangers, he finds himself transported to 1920s Paris where he gets to meet and interact with the literary and artistic geniuses that has inspired him. Gil also finds himself falling head-over-heels in love with “artist groupie” Adrianna (Marion Cotillard).

Paris is the next stop in Woody Allen’s filmmaking tour of European cities after recently shooting films in London (Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream) and in Barcelona (Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Paris is a beautiful sight to see on film and it shows in the five-minute tour of Paris’ most scenic locales that opens Midnight in Paris thanks to cinematographer Darius Khondji.

Allen really explores some deep and thoughtful themes in this film, such as the themes of wanting to live in the past rather than the present and recognizing that nostalgia is an act of denial. The explanation on how Gil’s journey in time is possible is never recognized fully in the movie (except maybe for some hints that Gil might have a “mental illness”), but it should not warrant any explanation because it would ruin the mystery Allen has created.

Allen’s script, along with the movie itself, shines whenever Gil finds himself transported to Paris in the ‘20s. The modern day scenes get a little boring and clunky at times, but there is one stand-out moment that is hilarious in which Gil schools Paul with an explanation on one of Picasso’s painting in which he gives great details about the subject of the painting. A facet of Allen’s filmmaking in this film that was problematic was the score for the movie. Allen’s score for Midnight in Paris gets a little too repetitive as the some of the same music is played one too many times.

Owen Wilson does a wonderful job playing Allen’s Everyman, allowing Wilson to showcase his talents that have only been seen in Wes Anderson films. Michael Sheen’s role as a fake intellectual is the best part during the modern day scenes where it seems that he is faking his knowledge of Paris and he is not afraid to tell the museum guide (played by France’s First Lady Carla Bruni) that she is wrong.

The historical figures that are portrayed in Midnight in Paris are perfectly embodied by the talented actors who play them. Cory Stroll as a charismatic Ernest Hemmingway has such a great screen presence that his performance warrants a film of his own about Hemmingway. Along with Stroll, Adrian Brody is funny as Salvadore Dali who has an obsession for rhinoceros and Kathy Bates is pitch-perfect as Gertrude Stein. However, the monkey wrench that prevents this ensemble cast from being perfect is Rachel McAdams’ weak and two-dimensional performance as the shrewish Inez whose sole purpose in this film is to whine and complain to Gil.

Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s strongest film in years with a good ensemble that compliments perfectly with his funny and thoughtful script.

Midnight in Paris: 4 stars out of 5