Articles

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - February, 2011

ARTICLE INDEX

"Buried" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-february-2011-buried

Synopsis

Truck driver Paul Conroy wakes up to find he’s been kidnapped and buried alive in a pine box.  He only knows he’s somewhere in Iraq.  He has a cellphone and a lighter.  During his 90-minute odyssey, he calls his wife, his employer and several employees at the US State Department.  He also talks with his captor who is demanding money for his release.  Paul has to contend with his dwindling air supply, a snake that makes its way inside the box and the people at the other end of the phone who are more interested in keeping his plight out of the news than they are in helping him.

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2010, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 35 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec:  AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Ryan Reynolds
  • Directed by Rodrigo Cortés
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

Let me answer the first and foremost question right now – yes, this entire movie takes place within Paul’s coffin.  Aside from a brief cellphone video, the only set is the pine box.  Ryan Reynolds literally performs a one-man show for the whole 90 minutes.  And he does a fantastic job with a totally believable and gut-wrenching performance.  Parts of the film dragged for me but most of it was pretty exciting.  My biggest beef, which is my reason for the three-star rating, is the ending.  I won’t reveal anything but suffice it to say, it was extremely disappointing.  I would rate this Blu-ray worth a rental.

Technical

The only lighting used in this film is Paul’s lighter, a chemical glow stick, a flashlight and a cellphone screen.  Despite this challenge, the image quality was quite good.  The only real flaw was an elevated black level.  There are several moments when the screen is completely dark and it never dropped below a dark gray.  The image area was clearly brighter than the cinemascope bars.  Color was natural and you could clearly see the differences between the various light sources.  Detail was also excellent especially in the many closeups of Ryan Reynolds razor-stubbled face.  Dirt and sweat popped from the screen whenever the lights were on.

Audio detail was among the best I’ve ever heard.  You will want to watch this film in as quiet a room as possible.  There are many extremely low-level effects that will be lost if there is any ambient noise.  It really adds to the realism and makes the film even more suspenseful.  There was one scene when the box creaked and I literally looked up at the ceiling.  The sound design made me feel as though I were in the coffin with Paul.  My sub did get a few chances to shine when F-16s bombed Paul’s position or anytime he beat on the box.

Extras

Bonus features include a making-of featurette and a set of trailers.


"Saw The Final Chapter" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-february-2011-saw-final-chapter

Synopsis

In this seventh and final chapter of the Saw series, a cop gone wrong has picked up where the Jigsaw killer left off.  People are captured and placed in situations where they must make deadly choices to either save themselves or another captor.  Each trap is more elaborate than the last and usual result is spraying blood and flying body parts.  All of the victims are involved in some sort of wrongdoing.  The main victim in this installment is Bobby Dagen (Flanery).  He is a Jigsaw survivor and is touring to promote his book and to speak to other survivors.  He has a dark secret though that makes him a target of an elaborate trap.  He has 60 minutes to rescue his publicist, lawyer, best friend and his wife before they all meet horrible ends.  The killer is rogue cop Mark Hoffman (Mandylore) who is determined to dish out his own brutal brand of justice.  The ending is a bit of a surprise as we see who is really behind all the mayhem.

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2010, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 30 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec:  AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flanery
  • Directed by Kevin Greutert
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Extreme
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This has to be the goriest, most violent movie I’ve ever seen.  I’m sure this is the exact reaction the creators are hoping for.  There is no moment that isn’t completely over the top.  I do give credit to the minds that can think of so many creative ways for people to be tortured and killed.  It’s also a little frightening to think of just who comes up with this stuff!  This film will appeal to gore fans everywhere just as its six predecessors have done.  Saw is one of the most successful horror franchises in Hollywood history with nearly $850 million in box office receipts.  While the violence is at times stomach-turning, it’s so completely unbelievable that I wouldn’t call myself disturbed after watching.  The special effects look pretty fake most of the time and the film’s whacky color palette only adds to the unrealism.  I imagine this Blu-ray will have many fans but I do not count myself among them.

Technical

This review is of the 2D version of the film.  A 3D Blu-ray is available separately.  This is also an unrated cut with some added footage over the theatrical release.

The image quality was quite poor with very unrealistic color, flat pasty flesh tones and dark scenes that showed wild variations in color temperature.  The color was so un-natural the blood took on an almost muddy pink hue.  Most of the dark material was so crushed that any detail was lost.  I do believe an attempt was made to stylize the image to make it more gritty and nasty but it had such an impact on detail and clarity that it passed a point of diminishing return.

Audio quality was pretty good with lots of squishy sound effects that came from all directions.  Deep bass was present during explosions and fast-paced action scenes.  Dialog was always clear and firmly anchored to the screen.  By far the best part of the soundtrack was the score by composer Charlie Clouser who has written for a number of horror movies and most notably, the TV show Numb3rs.  I really enjoyed one scene where he used timpani glissandi that panned around the room.  It’s a great demo for your surround speaker system.

Extras

Bonus features include audio commentary from the writers and producers, deleted and extended scenes, music videos, trailers and a recap of the 52 traps featured in all the Saw films.


"Alpha and Omega" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Stephen Hornbrook

movies-february-2011-alpha-and-omega

Synopsis

A couple of wolves, Kate and Humphry, used to be friends, until they grew up and drifted apart. The two are not on the same level as Kate is an alpha dog, leader of the pack, and Humphry is an omega, which is the bottom of the pack. The two of them get captured and moved from their pack in Canada to the forests of Idaho.  They meet a goose and a duck, Marcel and Paddy, who tell them they were brought here to repopulate the park with wolves. Kate will have nothing to do with this concept, but Humphry is all for it.  Meanwhile, back home in Canada, Kates parents are getting worried about her dissappearance.  Kate and Humphry hitch a ride with an unusual couple, but Humphry's antics only get them so far, when Kate is forced to rescue him from getting shot.  They get lost for a bit until they run into Marcel and Paddy who direct them to a train they can catch over a mountain.  While crossing over the mountain, the two run into a pack of bears and are forced off a cliff.  Humphry saves the day and they make it on the train, headed back to Canada. The love between these two opposites begins to grow and blossom, like a spring flower. .

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2010, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 28 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec:  AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover
  • Directed by Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Alpha and Omega is one of those movies that is purely for kids. There isn't much here for the adults to enjoy.  The jokes are childish and lame and the only times I found myself laughing were at the expense of the movie.  Voice-over performances were mailed in by this cast of actors.  I could tell this movie was created in order to take advantage of the latest 3D fad.  Many shots in the movie had that forced, 3D roller coaster feel and I found it very distracting. Random pointless shots were added to "throw" stuff at the viewers face. Presumably, this is an enjoyable 3D experience, but I do not understand it.  The quality of the animation was definitely below today's standards.  To me it had the look of a direct-to-video release.  Unless you need an 88 minute break from your kids, do not bother with Alpha and Omega.

Technical

An excellent direct digital transfer here, which would have been perfect except I did notice a few odd artifacting in some shots. It's possible these were caused in the rendering process.  The image is crisp and detailed with fantastic color.  The DTS HD MA audio track was decent, but when compared to some of the high profile CG releases like Toy Story 3 and How To Train A Dragon, Alpha and Omega just isn't in that same pack.

Extras

A making of featurette, deleted scene, log ride game, animal fun facts, and a personality quiz.


"Amazing Alphabet" (DVD) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-february-2011-amazing-alphabet

Synopsis

Familiar to kids and parents from the LeapFrog line of toys and books, now you can watch Tad, Lily and Scout.  When they set out with Edison the Firefly to an amusement park that helped him to learn his letters, they find that it's in a state of disrepair.  After trying to start the ferris wheel, Edison becomes trapped at the top and unless they can learn their letters as well, they won't be able to help out Edison.

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2010, Color, Not Rated, 39 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-2
  • 480i
  • English Dolby Digital
  • Starring:  Not Listed
  • Directed by Not Listed
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Though the age range (2-5) is a little advanced for my son (14 months when we watched this), it did keep him watching and entertained for much longer than usual.  Once he's able to better understand what is going on, I feel sure that he'll enjoy it, and be able to learn from it.

Technical

Compared to the other children's DVDs I have watched, the quality on the LeapFrog DVD was very impressive.  Images were bright and sharp, though on some quick transitions I did notice some jaggies would come out.  Your kids won't care, however, and they will enjoy the presentation.

Extras

The DVD also includes some sing along songs, short videos about vowels, a video about Scout the puppy, and a commentary from the educational consultant for LeapFrog explaining the educational benefits of different sections of the film.


"Numbers Ahoy" (DVD) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-february-2011-numbers-ahoy

Synopsis

Our LeapFrog friends Tad and Lily once again need some help from their friend Edison the Firefly.  They're stuck in a game and need to learn to understand numbers to keep going so Edison takes them on a trip under the sea to learn.  Unfortunately, their dog Scout is captured by a pirate during their adventure, and they'll have to use their new number skills to find a way to get him back from the evil Pirate Pythagoras.

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2010, Color, Not Rated, 35 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-2
  • 480i
  • English Dolby Digital
  • Starring:  Not Listed
  • Directed by Not Listed
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This video (Ages 3-6) was again too advanced for my 14 month old son to understand the content of, but he did enjoy watching it with the bright colors and the dog (he loves dogs).  Once he gets to the recommended ages I will come back to it with him again as I think it will be helpful for him to watch.

Technical

Much like the other LeapFrog DVD I watched, this was bright and bold in colors, with far better image quality than I am used to with a children's video.  There was the little bit of jaggies on quick transitions again, so I'll have to take off a little bit for that, but it was a very nice image overall.

Extras

The DVD also includes some sing along songs, short videos about vowels, a video about Scout the puppy, and a commentary from the educational consultant for LeapFrog explaining the educational benefits of different sections of the film.


"Virus X" (DVD) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

Virus X

Synopsis

A group of scientists work diligently in an underground lab to develop an antidote for the H1N1 virus which threatens the planet.  Unbeknownst to them, they are actually aiding in the evil plot of Danita Herrington (Danning) who plans to create a plague, and then make billions selling the antidote.  When an infected test subject gets loose in the lab, the facility is locked down trapping everyone inside.  They have three days to either cure themselves or destroy everything to prevent a horrendous outbreak.  Not only do they have to contend with each other, Herrington has sent in a mysterious assassin to kill them all before her plot is exposed.  The entire scenario plays out before dozens of security cameras, all monitored by Herrington and her lackey, Dr. Gravamen (Zaso).  The scientists start dropping like flies but you won’t know the outcome until the very end!

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2010, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 25 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-2
  • 480i
  • English, Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Starring:  Jai Day, Domiziano Arcangeli, Joseph Zaso, Sasha Formoso, Dylan Vox, Sybil Danning
  • Directed by Ryan Stevens Harris
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Brief
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This film was not quite the splatter-fest promised by the box art.  Rather than hack and slash, the gore is mainly a variety of substances that ooze from the characters mouths as they suffer and die.  I’ve seen far worse.  The plot makes for a good short story and the movie’s 85-minute length is appropriate.  It never drags and the action is constant until the finish.  Sybil Danning creates a character you love to hate as she lords over her diabolical experiments.  The other actors are unknowns but all turn in decent performances.  If you like dark gritty horror films, Virus X is for you.

Technical

The DVD image is of very high quality.  Detail and depth of contrast are better than even a few Blu-rays I’ve seen.  The entire movie takes place in a small lab complex lit by blue lights.  The color palette is pretty much limited to a monochromatic blue except for the scenes in Danita Herrington’s mansion.  Despite the extreme darkness, shadow detail is excellent with far greater dynamic range than in most films of this type.  Black levels are consistently low but never crushed.  The image looked superb even on my 92-inch projection screen.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is only average.  Most of the dialog is clear but whenever the assassin spoke, his voice sounded so heavily processed I couldn’t understand a word.  Action scenes don’t sound as intense and dramatic as they could and the surrounds and sub are used only sparingly.  The musical score by Shawn K. Clement was well-mixed and fits the dark and dirty mood perfectly.  My only beef with it was the extremely loud metal-rock track that accompanied the opening credits.

Extras

Bonus features include interviews with the director and cast members and a collection of trailers for other Lionsgate films.


"Soul Kitten's Cabaret" (DVD) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

Soul Kitten's Cabaret

Synopsis

The curtain rises to reveal a Detroit nightclub and a wide-eyed young girl, Brandy (Duke) who has just arrived in the Big City.  What follows is an adventure with her and six other girls who slink and sing their way through life as they try to revive the Soul Kitten’s Cabaret.  Along the way they learn more about themselves and each other than they ever thought they would.  With their dream-companions, Good Conscience (Barrino) and Bad Conscience (Evans), they face temptation, their own checkered pasts and deception from every direction.  By the end, they’ve all learned the true price of success.

Specifications

  • Image Entertainment
  • 2011, Color, Not Rated, 2 Hr 27 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-2
  • 480i
  • English, Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Starring:  Fantasia Barrino, Sarallison Duke, Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Terrell Carter, Chrystale Wilson, Monifah Carter, Miss Sophia, Tondy Gallant, Dave Tolliver
  • Directed by Nicci Gilbert
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Suggestive
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

If you’re thinking this is a musical adapted to the big screen, you would be wrong.  This is a live stage performance of the play with four static cameras trained on the stage.  You can hear the audience, you can hear the mistakes, and sometimes, unfortunately, you can hear a song or two.  I was expecting a musical but Cabaret is a play with a few musical numbers.  Occasionally music accompanies the dialog but there is no doubt this is a play, and a bad one at that.  It drags on for nearly two-and-a-half hours when it could easily have been one-and-a-half.  There is so much useless dialog I had to hide the remote from myself to avoid pressing fast forward.  Honestly, I can’t find anything positive to say about this presentation.

Technical

This production was shot with low-quality cameras during a live performance of the show.  There is no camera movement at all.  In fact, I noticed several instances where someone adjusted the camera because it had slipped in its mount.  Colors looked washed out and drab despite the bright lights and costumes used on stage.  The overall lighting effects were good and characters faces were easy to see.  Even though the aspect ratio is 1.78:1, the DVD is non-anamorphic which means the picture is displayed in a window at the screen’s center.  This was typical in the early days of DVD but in 2011?  I’m shocked.

The stereo audio track was little more than stage and instrumental mics piped into a mixing board.  Dialog was reasonably clear and the music actually sounded decent at times.  It was like being in a theater with poor acoustics which I suspect this was.  No composer was credited with the music.  Only a Music Supervisor and Sound Designer are listed.  The score was mostly run-of-the-mill funk with drums, synthesizers and a few brass instruments.

Extras

Bonus features include a photo gallery, trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette.


"Ray" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-february-2011-ray

Synopsis

Ray is the Oscar winning film that tells the story of Ray Charles.  Born to a single mother in rural Florida, Ray doesn't have much going for him early on in his life.  As a young child he starts to lose his eyesight and is soon completely blind, though his mother refuses to let him pity himself or let him use it as an excuse.  As a teenager he moves to Seattle where he first gains attention for his piano playing, becoming friends with an even younger Quincy Jones.  As his fame and talent grows, he moves onto LA, and then to New York.  As well as his life is going, including starting a family and becoming more and more successful, he is battling a constant war against drugs and a seeming inability to fully trust anyone in his life.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2004, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 33 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  Jamie Fox, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell
  • Directed by Taylor Hackford
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I had not gotten to see Ray when it came out and so I was looking forward to watching it finally at home.  I have to say that Jamie Fox did an absolutely fantastic job in the title role, making you feel what Ray was feeling in the scenes and being able to convey emotions without words.  However, in other areas I wish that the film was either pared down to be tighter, or even longer than it's already lengthy 2.5 hour run time.  Many characters come into play and then leave but are not fully resolved.  Overall it's an enjoyable film, but could have been better perhaps at 2 hours without as many loose strings left hanging.

Technical

While I might have some issues with the film, I can't really say I have much with the presentation.  The Blu-ray looks absolutely fantastic, with only a couple little glitches that popped up to keep it from being perfect.  Flashbacks are bright and overexposed, and much of the film has a slightly muted, though very natural, appearance to it.  The soundtrack is also very nice, with good use of all the channels, and concert scenes that really bring you right into the middle of the show.

Extras

The Blu-ray adds an introduction from the Director, deleted scenes, expanded movie performances from the film, featurettes on the late Ray Charles and how Jamie Fox came to embody him in the role, as well as Directors Commentary.

Bonus features include a photo gallery, trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette.


"Piranha" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-february-2011-piranha

Synopsis

It's Jaws meets Girls Gone Wild, as an underwater earthquake releases thousands of hungry prehistoric piranhas into Lake Victoria during Spring Break. Can the sheriff (Elizabeth Shue) and her deputy (Ving Rhames) convince the unruly college kids to get out of the water in time before they all become fish food? A re-make of an 80's "classic", Piranha provides an amalgam of sex, drugs, rock-n-roll...and lots of gore. This is not a movie for the kids on a Saturday afternoon, but can be entertaining for the more mature horror fans that take their fright with a wink.

Specifications

  • Sony Pictures
  • 2011, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 29 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Christopher Lloyd
  • Directed by: Alejandre Aja
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

A re-make of Joe Dante's 1978 original and the excesses of '80s genre films in general, is a fool's errand; it is, after all, a movie about prehistoric fish preying on hormonal partygoers in various states of undress. Was I disappointed with Piranha? Not really. I knew what to expect (after the first 10 minutes, I knew who was going to get chomped). Should you expect high art from this movie? Not at all. But you should expect to have some fun watching it. The movie is a parody afterall and the excessive gore and nudity are just heightened examples of “Don’t take this too seriously, folks’! The thin plot is bolstered by some fun characters: Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss in particular, though Dreyfuss only appears briefly for the first few minutes. Perhaps this was Dreyfuss’ nod to Jaws? Lloyd was cast as the professor character (Ala Back to the Future) that declares the fish are from the distant past. Like, we needed to be told that? Rhames goes out in style too, with a outboard motor as his weapon of choice. Anyway, this is a rental, at best. I wouldn’t want to watch it more than once, let alone in 3D.

Technical

As silly as the movie was, the picture quality was very good, especially when considering the harsh sunlight shots. The CGI is certainly not very convincing (the whirlpool and Dreyfuss' scene in particular), but the gore effects are delightfully over the top. I did not see this in 3D, but I can imagine what that would have been like. Details are sharp and the blood is “in your face”. The sound was very good, too. Underwater ambiance and surround sounds swirl around you and the bass heavy music propels the movie right along.

Extras

PS3 Wallpaper, Filmmaker Commentary, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Welcome to Piranha, Deleted Storyboard Sequences, Piranha 3D Trailer and TV Spots.


"My Soul to Take" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-february-2011-my-soul-to-take

Synopsis

The supernatural/serial killer thriller My Soul to Take marks Wes Craven's first feature as writer and director since 1994's inventive New Nightmare, finds him in familiar territory. Here again, his focus is a vicious murderer who appears to continue his crime spree from beyond the grave, and who concentrates his attention on a group of teens connected to his original crimes (seven of them were born on the night he died). As the seven meet a gruesome end, one boy becomes a likely suspect for the killings--is he possessed by the spirit of the long-dead maniac, or has he picked up where "The Riverton Ripper" left off?

Specifications

  • Rogue Pictures
  • 2011, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 48 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Max Thieriot, Nick Lashaway
  • Directed by Wes Craven
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

A weighted script, slow pace and unremarkable acting all lead to a poor example of a teen slasher film. I was actually looking at my watch half way through this “I’ve seen all this before” movie and wondering when it would end. The ending was improbable (the physical size of the slasher did not match the revealed killer in the end) and nonsensical. Two alternate ending also did little to add to the original ending and left too many questions unanswered. By the end of the flick, you'll find that you are no longer interested in the answers anyway.

Technical

Picture quality was generally good. Some of the dark scenes showed banding and loss of delineation in the shadows. Sound was good with lots of active surround usage, like the school bell that rang loudly in the rear left speaker. Now that woke me up! Dialog is crisp and clear and the subwoofer comes into play during the more intense scenes.

Extras

Commentary, two alternate endings, an alternate beginning, deleted scenes and BD Live with movie trailers.


"Almost Famous" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-february-2011-almost-famous

Synopsis

William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is a high schooler who lives and breathes rock and roll.  In High School at a very young age since his mom skipped him two grades, he is a bit of an outcast but finds solace in the music.  When Rolling Stone offers him the chance to follow around the up-an-coming band Stillwater on their new tour, he jumps at the chance despite the objections from his mother.  Following the band as well are a few Band-Aids, including Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) who help to get William into the inner circle of the band.  William discovers far more about the band, and his life, than he expects to during his road trip odyssey.

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 2000, Color, Unrated (Original Cut was R), 2 Hr 41 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  William Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup
  • Directed by Cameron Crowe
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

One of the better films of the last decade that has been a little bit forgotten it seems, Almost Famous is a semi-auto biographical story from Director Cameron Crowe who covered many bands on the 1970's for Rolling Stone magazine while still a teenager.  Patrick Fugit does a very good job as the teenage reporter, and Kate Hudson uses this as her star making turn, earning an Oscar nomination in the process.  This is the extended Bootleg Cut and not the theatrical cut, and unfortunately it doesn't include the option for the original version, but most of the additions actually help the story without just feeling like padding.

Technical

Unfortunately the transfer for Almost Famous doesn't hold up to the story.  While some scenes look very good, most seem to be just a little bit soft and not have as much detail as you would hope.  Shadow detail can also be lacking in the film.  When William sits down at a coffee shop with Lester Bangs early in the film, Lester's black leather jacket seems to turn into a solid chunk of black instead of a shadowy, textured object.  The black level can also rise and fall between scenes.  When William's mom drops him off at the Black Sabbath concert, the shot of her in the car has the night sky as a dark gray, but the direct following scene has the sky as pitch black.  I hope that Paramount goes back and gives this the video transfer it deserves.  The soundtrack is better than the video, with strong use of the surrounds, good clear dialog, and plenty of ambiance.

Extras

Directors commentary, music videos, theatrical trailers, multiple featurettes, an interview with the real Lester Bangs, Cameron Crowe's Rolling Stone articles, and the full script.
"Out of Sight" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-february-2011-out-of-sight

Synopsis

Jack Foley (George Clooney) is a bank robber who is back in prison, likely for a very long time after being caught again.  When his partner in crime Buddy (Ving Rhames) comes to help him break out of jail one night, things don't go exactly to plan and they have to bring Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez), a federal marshal, along with them.  While stuck in a trunk together and Jack makes his escape from prison, he and Karen have a strange connection where despite the circumstances, they are each instantly attracted to the other.  After their escape, Jack and Buddy need to make their way to Detroit to meet up with another former convict, an investment banker who keeps a stash of diamonds in his house but another group of guys from the same prison is on their way to get the loot as well.  Karen sets off in search of them, but is conflicted inside between her job, and her feelings for Jack.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 1998, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 3 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez
  • Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

Out of Sight is one of my all time favorite films and an original poster for it hangs in my AV room.  I've seen it countless times in theaters, at home, and finally on Blu-ray.  The film that really helped launch Steven Soderbergh's comeback, it is a completely enjoyable 2 hours every time I see it.  I'm not usually a fan of Jennifer Lopez, but here with Clooney the chemistry between them just oozes off the screen and helps to make the movie as fantastic as it is.  The cutting back and forth in time can be a little confusing at first, but it helps everything to come together as the film goes on.  It's really a film I can't recommend enough.

Technical

Figuring out how to rate the image quality for Out of Sight did cause me significant issues.  Set in three very distinct settings (jail, Miami, and Detroit), each of these has it's own color scheme and look that is distinct from the others, and that affects how the film looks.  When they are in jail, or in Detroit, the image looks very sharp and clean, with lots of detail in shirts and fabrics, good shadow depth, and a very natural film feeling.  The Miami scenes seem to have the contrast bumped up a few notches in comparison, which is the look that they are after when you listen to the commentary.  However, this causes a loss of some shadow detail and some texture detail, but since that's how the film was developed, I have to say that the transfer lives up to the intent of the filmmaker.

The soundtrack is pretty front heavy with some use of surrounds and not much use of the subwoofer, other than some gunfire and music.  This makes it not as enveloping as some modern films are, but dialog is nice and clear and the soundtrack comes through well.

Extras

Commentary from Soderbergh as screenwriter Scott Frank is enjoyable for fans of the film, Deleted Scenes, and a Featurette.
"Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

movie-february-2011-bevery-hills-chihuahua-2

Synopsis

Shortly after the marriage of Chihuahuas Papi (voiced by George Lopez) and Chloe (voiced by Odette Yustman), 5 fuzzy little bundles of joy appear.  While Papi and Chloe are working on their parenting skills, things are not going so well for their owner, whose parents are facing foreclosure on their family home.  Vowing to do whatever it takes to help the Cortez family out, the Chihuahuas embark on a mission to raise the money needed to keep the Cortez’s in their home.

Specifications

  • Walt Disney Studios
  • 2010, Color, Rated G, 84 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec:  AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  George Lopez, Odette Yustman, Miguel Ferrer, Ernie Hudson, Marcus Coloma
  • Directed by Alex Zamm
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

As movies with talking dogs are not usually my cup of tea, I had not seen the first movie of this series.  Not knowing what to expect with this film, I went in with low expectations.  Surprisingly, I found the movie fairly enjoyable considering that I am not a member of the target audience.  The plot is extremely simple and an adult must suspend their take on reality while watching this film, but there are some good life and family lessons throughout the movie.  The acting is nothing special, but the dogs are definitely cute (worth an extra half point on the rating in my mind).  The CGI mouths on the dogs didn’t look ridiculous (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and the movie’s 84-minute length felt just about perfect.

Technical

This is another solid release by Disney.  The picture is very sharp, without looking over-processed or artificially sharpened.  Detail is excellent; just look the hair on any of the animals and you’ll see what I mean.  Black levels are solid and there is good “pop” to the image.  My only minor criticism is a slightly oversaturated color palette, but this was obviously intentional.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also well done, with excellent clarity and dynamics.  The soundtrack carries good weight and the surrounds and LFE are used adequately.

Extras

Both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the movie are included here.  Special features include an interactive “Chihuahua Challenge” game, bloopers, and a music video for “This Is My Paradise.”  All features are in high-def.


"Alice in Wonderland 3D" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Adrian Wittenberg

movie-february-2011-alice-in-wonderland-3d

Synopsis

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is in the middle of a social gathering where she will be proposed to by an eligible bachelor when she thinks she spots a creature, that she remembers from a recurring childhood dream, running in the garden.  As she follows the creature, a rabbit who is in a hurry, she falls down a hole and lands in a place of her childhood dreams called Underland.  As she explores Underland, she is met by curious otherworldly characters that help Alice reveal to herself her destiny and her true inner character.

Specifications

  • Walt Disney Studios
  • 2010, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 49 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 MVC
  • 1080p 3D
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Starring:  Johnny Depp, Mia Waikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman
  • Directed by Tim Burton
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Any fans of Tim Burton would be well aware that any of Mr. Burton’s films would be extremely visually striking.  Burton has a style all his own, that creates cerebrally enticing settings rich with dark moods and exotic landscapes and characters.  Alice in Wonderland is filled with unique and interesting visuals and is something that can be appreciated for its cinematography alone.  I’ve never been a fan of this story because it progresses very randomly and the meaning of the film never really makes that deep of an impact on me.  This rendition didn’t do much to change my feeling about the story, as it seemed all the focus was on creating a Tim Burton visual masterpiece rather than make all the acting and characters do the talking.  There are some high profile actors in this film and all of the performances were good though. The use of 3D in this film is intelligent, appropriate, and adds visual appeal to the film’s already dazzling scenery.  3D is used many times to add realism to the unbelievable landscapes by giving the viewer a sense of depth and space of the sometimes small and sometimes enormous places.  The film also makes novel use of 3D at times.  One example is when Alice first falls down the rabbit hole and the 3D effects help define her falling body from the debris and other objects in the tunnel.  3D really works for this story and enhances the dreamlike quality of the film and this is a great film to own for new adopters of 3D technology.

Technical

Alice in Wonderland has excellent video quality in both 2D and 3D presentations.  The transfer is of a very high quality and Tim Burton's landscape is filled with a wide color gamut that can be subdued, dark, and gloomy at times, and robust, vibrant, and exotic at other times.  3D separation is done very well and many of the scenes create an effective sense of depth.  The audio track for Alice in Wonderland is superb and both Danny Elfman’s score as well as the myriad of surround sound effects make this a title worth playing at reference volumes.

Extras

Extras include Wonderland Characters, and Making Wonderland.  Both of these subjects are broken down into short clips that add some background about the actor’s and creator’s perspectives and other aspects of making the film.  All features are in high-def.
"RED" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed byJim Milton

movie-february-2011-red

Synopsis

Frank (Willis) is a former black-ops CIA agent living a quiet life alone... until the day a hit squad shows up to kill him. With his identity compromised, Frank reassembles his old team Joe (Freeman), Marvin (Malkovich) and Victoria (Mirren) and sets out to prove that they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Stand back and watch the bullets fly in this explosive action-comedy that critics call a rip-roaring good time. RED (Retired, Extremely Dangerous)…who said retirement was boring?

Specifications

  • Summit Entertainment
  • 2010, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 51 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.35:1
  • Codec:  MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Special Edition), Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Starring:  Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren
  • Directed by Robert Schwentke
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

RED is the action-comedy about a small group of retired CIA field operatives who are targeted for elimination by nefarious government groups and must team up to fight off the threat and reveal the culprit. This movie is fun, if not mindless. I am a big fan of John Malkovich, and he plays a great off-kilter, paranoid ex-CIA agent. Willis plays the Die Hard tough guy and the plot is a by-the-numbers crooks in the government scenario. Helen Mirren is the real surprise here…a proper lady who happens to be deadly with a gun. Richard Dreyfuss plays a very weak villain and Ernest Borgnine makes a brief appearence, as well. All together, the movie provides lots of action, comedy and some romance. This is a fine Friday evening popcorn movie.

Technical

Picture quality is generally good, though I noticed smearing during the out door pan shots. Some of the darker scenes get swallowed in shadows, but fine details are abundant. Colors are vibrant and the firey explosions will fill the screen with lush flames. Sound is in DD 5.1, and though the explosions sounded great, I missed the high resolution sound BD is capable of providing. Only the Special Edition (2 disc set) has the DTS-HD Master Audio sound. What’s up with that?

Extras

Commentary, extended and deleted scenes.

"Merlin: Season Two" (DVD) - Reviewed byJim Milton

movie-february-2011-merlin

Synopsis

Merlin is back with even more magic, adventure and romance as the young wizard struggles to protect Prince Arthur in the perilous world of Camelot. While battling deadly assassins, mystical monsters and the most powerful sorcerers Camelot has ever seen, Merlin must work harder than ever to conceal his unique abilities, as King Uther redoubles his war against magic. As Arthur continues on his path from arrogant prince to the noble and just King Arthur of legend, we see the return of the one prophesied to kill him—the mysterious druid boy, Mordred. Featuring exciting new villains, white-knuckle stunt sequences, and spectacular CGI monsters, Merlin: Season Two is more thrilling than ever. 

Specifications

  • BBC
  • 2011, Color, Rated PG, 9 Hr 31 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • 5 Disc Set
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Starring:  Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Anthony Head, Richard Wilson, Angel Coulby
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Sort of a Camelot: 90210, Merlin is a throw back to the "Young Indiana Jones" series. I am not a big fan of watching the teen versions of heroes before they became heroes. I found the story lines to be weak and predictable with dull acting. Costuming is wrong (Guinevere wears the same dress, show after show), stereotypical villians abound, CGI is unremarkable, and this all promotes the Arthurian legend somehow? Anyway, perhaps I am being a bit of a curmudgeon. Colin Morgan (Merlin) is delightfully clutzy and awkward. The arogant Arthur learns some valuable life lessons on becoming a good future king. Fun, but not compelling stuff. Teens will like this series, since they are the target audience.

Technical

Picture quality is soft, but often vibrant with colors. Some dark scenes are a bit too murky. Though the CGI is crude, it is better than Season One. Sound is DD 2.0, but the music score is bold and all dialog is crystal clear.

Extras

Cast and Crew introduction to Season Two, Cast and Crew audio commentaries, Behind the Scenes, The Making of Merlin, Photo Gallery and Wallpapers.
"You Again" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

movie-february-2011-you-again

Synopsis

Marnie (Kristen Bell) had an absolutely terrible time in high school.   As a pimply-faced, glasses-wearing introvert, she was tortured by the “cool” kids during her entire 4-year stay.  Having shed that image and grown into a successful public relations rep, Marnie has completely transformed her life.  When Marnie’s brother announces his engagement, she is shocked to learn that he is planning on marrying Joanna (Odette Yustman), the girl who made her high school days such a living hell.  Vowing to show her brother his fiancé’s true colors, Marnie will do whatever is necessary to break up the couple.  Further complicating matters is the rift that exists between Marnie’s mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Joanna’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), who have a little bit of high school history themselves.

Specifications

  • Touchstone
  • 2010, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 45 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Odette Yustmann
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I think “You Again” struck a fairly nice balance between comedy and chick-revenge flick.  Kristen Bell fit the lead role well and did a good job with the material.  I had real empathy for her character, as I think we all remember those poor souls who were tortured in the high school halls.  The interaction between Marnie and Joanna was solid but I felt that the tension between Gail and Ramona was a bit too forced.  The two characters just felt too fake to me and distracted a bit from the main plot line.  As much as I love Betty White, her role in the film felt like an afterthought and could have been better developed.   Still, the film was entertaining and would make for a good “date night” viewing.

Technical

I was really impressed with the picture quality on this disc.  Overall, the image was very natural looking.  Colors were vibrant without being oversaturated and were rendered very accurately (no funky yellowish tones on this transfer – yay!).  Contrast and black levels were excellent and the image was nice and sharp throughout.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack was merely average though.  While I didn’t have any trouble discerning dialogue, there was little in way of dynamics.  Even the soundtrack seemed flat and did little to “energize” the viewing experience.  Surround and LFE use was barely noticeable.

Extras

This is a 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, so the second disc contains a DVD copy of the film with an abbreviated list of extras.  The Blu-ray disc contains the full set of extras including deleted scenes, an on-set featurette following the director, bloopers, an “Ask the Cast” featurette, and a behind-the-scenes cast interview spoof.


"It's Kind of a Funny Story" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-february-2011-funny-story

Synopsis

The story opens to a stressed-out teenager named Craig (Keir Gilchrist) planning to commit suicide by jumping from the Brooklyn Bridge. He is able to pull himself together and go to the hospital for help. He winds up talking his way into the Psychiatric Ward. Once admitted, Craig finds out that the youth ward is being remodeled so the teenagers will be staying in the adult ward. Here, he meets Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) who serves as Craig's surrogate father during his time in the Psychiatric Ward. Bobby helps Craig get together with another patient, Noelle (Emma Roberts) who is in for self-mutilation.

Specifications

  • Universal Pictures
  • 2010, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 42 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis
  • Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: No

Commentary

I found this movie to be an entertaining story that was nicely crafted. I was able to feel connected with most of the central characters. It was also a nice respite to have a movie where the only thing blowing up was Craig when he projectile vomits at times of major stress. Some of the lines in the movie are little gems, like when Craig is reminiscing about 8th grade and he says, "Time felt different back then, like there was more of it." But the thing I liked the most about the film is that it had some really funny moments. Take the scene where Bobby, who is constantly wanting to be released from the ward, escapes the ward to buy a Mr. Softee. Later you see him back in the ward eating his ice cream.

Technical

Right from the start, you could tell that this Blu Ray was going to have an excellent picture. The scenes are mostly brightly lit and very detailed. I could see all the imperfections on the actors' faces. The color in the few outdoor scenes was very natural. The flourescent lighting of the hospital and the way it changed the skin tones was pretty authentic as well. The enveloping audio holds up on its end. There is great music on this disc that is very well done: clean and clear with full bass. My personal favorite was the Egyptian music at Craig's pizza party on his last night.   

Extras

This disc has a bunch of quality extras. My favorite extras on this disc were the outtakes. These basically have Zach Galifianakis making everybody on the set crack up. There is a series of Deleted Scenes and two shorts: A look inside "It's Kind of a Funny Story" and The "It's Kind of a Funny Story" Premiere in New York City. All extras are in HD and Dolby Digital 2.0.


"Bad Boys" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-february-2011-bad-boys

Synopsis

Mick O'Brien (Sean Penn) is a young Chicago street thug torn between a life of petty crime and the love of his girlfriend (Ally Sheedy).  But Mick's heist of a local drug dealer, Paco (Esai Morales), ends in a massive shootout.  Mick, in making his escape from the scene, runs over and kills Paco's little brother and gets sentenced to a brutal juvenile prison where violence is a rite of passage and respect is measured by vengeance.  The rest of the story unfolds behind the prison walls.  Can a bad boy on the edge of salvation find the heart to survive manhood on the verge of murder?

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 1983, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 3 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • Starring: Sean Penn, Reni Santoni, Ally Sheedy and Esai Morales
  • Director: Rick Rosenthal
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This movie is dark, violent and a little unsettling and will not appeal to all audiences.  It will alllow you to appreciate the kind of animal magnetism that defined the early work of Sean Penn.  His brooding, enraged performance here is the standout performance of the movie.  But most of the rest of the cast delivers worthwhile performances as well, with honorable mention going to Ally Sheedy who plays Mick O'Brien's girlfriend.  She is only in a few scenes, but does a remarkable acting job when on screen.  This movie is a little on the long side by today's standards, at just over 2 hours.  Still, the pace is reasonably engaging for the first half of the film.  It slows a bit after the point where Paco gets sent to jail.  The special effects, both visual and audible, show their age.  I thoroughly enjoyed the musical score by Bill Conti which helps to set the tone of the film.  All in all, a solid rental choice; or one for the libraries of Sean Penn fans.

Technical

This movie was originally released in 1983.  It has been restored to it's original 1.85:1 theatrical format for this Blu Ray release.  The results of the restoration and transfer are variable, with some scenes looking much sharper than others.  The print used was clean and generally free of scratches. There is a significant amount of film grain which is to be expected.  The colors are muted, with natural looking skin tones.   The audio is presented in DTS HD Master 2.0 and is very dated.  Voices are clear and intelligible, but the sound effects lack a modern dynamic edge.

Extras

There is an entertaining and informative audio commentary track by Director Rick Rosenthal. The only other extra is the original theatrical trailer.


"Death Race 2" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Stephen Hornbrook

movies-february-2011-deathrace-2

Synopsis

In Death Race 2, a prequel to the 2008 remake of a Roger Corman movie called Death Race 2000, the prison system has been privatized in America.  Carl Lucas, a getaway driver working for big time crime boss Markus Kane (Sean Bean), is busted when a bank robbery goes to hell.  Carl is sent off to Terminal Island, a prison ran by a large corporation who films pay-per-view events where two convicts fight to the death.  Ratings are dropping for the program, so Weyland Corp is forced to come up with something new and exciting. After seeing Carl drive around the prison, they come up with the idea for Death Race.  Instead of fighting in a ring, prisoners are sent into battle in armored cars and race for their lives.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2010, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 50 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • Starring:Luke Gross, Lauren Cohan, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames
  • Director: Roel Riene
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

If it weren't for some spendy explosions, visual effects, and Sean Bean, I would have thought Death Race 2 was a TNT original movie. The acting is horrendous and the story anything but original.

Technical

The picture quality was very good on this disc. Lots of texure and detail with great contrast. The audio was a tad inconsistant, but it did have some big sound fx and great use of the surrounds at times.

Extras

Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, 3 Featurettes The only other extra is the original theatrical trailer.


"Let Me In" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-february-2011-let-me-in

Synopsis

Let Me In blends the innocent face of Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) with the darkness of vampirism. A young boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has troubles at home (his parents are divorcing) and at school (bullies pick on him mercilessly). But when a mysterious girl named Abby (Moretz) moves in next door, Owen hopes he's found a friend, even though she smells a little strange. Unfortunately, his new friend needs blood to live, and the man who seems to be her father (Richard Jenkins) goes out to drain local residents to feed her. But even as Owen starts to suspect something is wrong, having a real friend might just matter more. Based on the Swedish novel, “Let The Right One In”, this film is a dark and violent love story which is as intelligent as it is chilling.

Specifications

  • Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • 2011, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 56 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: MPEG 4
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins
  • Director: Matt Reeves
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

I found this horror story to be a fascinating character study that deals with many different issues. The main theme is about youngsters learning how to cope with the troubling world they live in, such as bullies at school, divorce, and violence. But the real issues deal with loneliness, acceptance and unconditional love. All of these themes are intertwined with horror and blood letting, of course. Atmospheric, with very strong acting, this movie is not a dull witted exercise in the teen slasher flick genre. The movie "starts" about 2/3 of the way into the story, back tracks to the begining, and then runs straight through to the surprising ending. Some of the CGI is hokey looking, but the story itself makes up for any short comings there. Really enjoyed this flick! (And welcome back Hammer Studios!)

Technical

Picture quality was good with good contrast in the many dark scenes. I saw no artifacts or video hiccups in the transfer. Flesh tones were accurate and day light scenes looked natural without attempts to make the movie "artistic". Sound was also very good with an ominous pounding drum beat to add tension.

Extras

Audio commentary with writer/director Matt Reeves, From the Inside: A Look at the Making of LET ME IN, the Art of Special Effects, Crash Sequence Step-by-Step Blu-ray exclusive: Dissecting LET ME IN, deleted scenes with optional commentary by writer/director Matt Reeves, trailer gallery, poster & still gallery.