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In Pacific Rim, massive, repulsive looking creatures known as ‘Kaiju’ are rising, one by one, from the depths and trampling over cities, Godzilla style, crushing everything in their path. At first, the attacks from those ridiculously oversized creatures appear random, but as Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geizler discovers, the attacks are actually a disciplined series of maneuvers. These monsters are attacking all countries around the world under orders and with a specific objective; to wipe us out and take over. And the only way to fight back? Build giant, man-operated robots known as ‘Jaegers.’ As is his style, director Guillermo Del Toro has designed his monsters to look as repellent as possible, but with so many of these ugly creatures continuously attacking the world he’s succeeded in making the whole project appear equally repellent, and, as is often the case with recent action/adventure films, there is so much mayhem that in the end you no longer feel involved, it’s all just a lengthy series of visual noise that you’ll either love – because you truly don’t have to think – or it’ll have you reaching for your remote. One positive note: Ron Perlman as a black marketer dealing in monster organs delivers the best and funniest line in the film – but you have to sit through the whole movie and some of the end credits to catch it. Available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray 3D.
It’s hard to believe that Love Actually is 10 years old, but here we are, celebrating the film’s 10th Anniversary in a special Blu-Ray edition that comes complete with a gift ornament. The film has been released several times before, and with lots of features that are absent from this new edition, but with Christmas looming on the horizon, it’s no surprise an anniversary edition has been released. As for the film, this is one of those large ensemble pieces that carry several stories at the same time, all with the central theme of love at Christmas, and it may make you fall in love all over again. It’s also extremely funny. Playing the film is a yearly tradition in our home, and will continue to be so. If you don’t have a copy, grab this anniversary edition, and with a collectable gift ornament attached you may want to consider it as a gift for someone else. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
If you follow the news, particularly political news, you have probably heard of the name Jeremy Scahill. He’s the reporter who wrote the book on Blackwater, the military contracting firm whose secret mercenaries became the subject of a Congressional inquiry. With Dirty Wars, a highly compelling documentary, investigative journalist Scahill turns his attention to the Joint Special Operations Command, or J.S.O.C.. Dirty Wars is the kind of documentary that should be seen. It makes us uncomfortable, awkward, and perhaps even outraged. But the truth is, we’re rarely treated to real investigative journalism in the way Scahill operates. The film doesn’t take political sides. This is neither a left nor right issue and shouldn’t be seen as such – both parties come off badly; one started it, the other continues it – but if you ever find yourself asking the question, “Why do they hate us so much?” and you’re left wondering why is it that the very people we are trying to protect turn against us, Dirty Wars goes a long way in answering that question. Available on DVD.
The original Broadway production of the musical The Wiz was so much fun it was a given that it would become a film. It’s a shame, then, that director Sidney Lumet had no feel for what made the stage version so great. By casting Diana Ross in the role of Dorothy, the character was no longer a young girl from a farm in Kansas but updated to a New York City school teacher, as was the location. The choices were made presumably because of the movie’s Motown connection, but artistically it did the production no favors. Plus, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow must have sounded like a great idea, but Lumet allows the character to cry just a little too often. What was a fun and truly lively character on stage became a damp rag in the 1978 film. Fortunately, much of the music remains intact and upbeat and the color photography looks sharp and eye-catching. The Wiz is hardly a classic of the 70’s, but it’s worth seeing as an oddity, and as a lesson on how not to adapt an outstanding Broadway production. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.