Many action films start with a deadly phone call and 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded capitalizes on that form of communication. Let’s take a look at other suspense films using the gripping hook of kicking off the action with a tense phone call.
Today we received word that Lincoln will be shipping on Blu-ray later this month. Look for our review soon!
Reviewed by Johnny McNair
Warner Brothers – 165 min – 2012 – Rated PG-13 -1080p – 2.40:1 widescreen / IMAX 1.78:1– DTS-HD 5.1 Audio – UltraViolet Copy
No matter what happens next in his career, Christopher Nolan has made history by breathing new life into Batman after he was left for dead in the abysmal 1997 Joel Schumacher film Batman & Robin. Nolan’s 2005 vision of the caped crusader in Batman Begins got people interested in the character again; the 2008 sequel The Dark Knight literally shook the world; and now finally the trilogy wraps up with The Dark Knight Rises, which arrives on Blu-ray from Warner just in time for the Christmas rush. Though not as well executed as The Dark Knight, this finale is still a solid and very entertaining motion picture event.
Instantly the film gets to the point, informing us that it has been eight years since the events of The Dark Knight and Batman has been labeled as the murderer of Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) who has falsely become a hero to Gotham City. No one has seen the Batman for close to a decade, and his alter ego Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has closed himself from the world, staying within the walls of Wayne Manor, only to be seen by his loyal caretaker Alfred (Michael Caine). He is lifted form his depression when a menacing threat strikes Gotham calling himself Bane (Tom Hardy), a sinister mammoth thug terrorist who wears a mask that looks like a dog muzzle to keep himself breathing. Despite warnings from Alfred that he is too old and battered to be a superhero again, Wayne suits up to become the Batman and goes after big bad Bane.
Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) are happy to see the Bat back in action, but now added to the mix are two new players, a young street cop named Blake (Joseph Gorden-Levitt) and a mysterious sexy cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). Batman’s first attempt to conquer Bane leaves him defeated and his is imprisoned in a pit for months trying to recover as Gotham City is left in the grip of Bane and his forces. Wayne’s long imprisonment makes him stronger and more determined to become Batman again and save his city from destruction, leading to a spectacular showdown between good and evil. There are various surprises in the climax, but none of that will be revealed here.
What Christopher Nolan attempted to do with this movie was make it an epic event, complete with thousands of extras, a city literally being destroyed, and an ensemble of characters. It is a very ambitious effort, but despite some flaws he does pull it off on a grand scale. To make a comparison, Batman Begins was a small, The Dark Knight was medium, and The Dark Knight Rises shoots all the way up to XXL. Filmed partially in the IMAX format to show the scale, you get an experience that holds your attention completely.
The two standout performances in the film come from Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and for a moment Anne Hathaway, but she could have been utilized more). Bane is not as charismatic as Heath Ledger’s Joker, but he is a villain that you will appreciate because he gives Batman the biggest fight of his life. It’s difficult to talk about Gordon-Levitt’s character without revealing anything, but it is a rewarding performance that displays that he is on his way to becoming a major star in the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Nolan is not interested in making an all out comic book movie like The Avengers or The X-men, he wants to make Batman and everyone in his world real. Even Batman’s style of fighting is similar to a MMA fighter, instead of an over-the-top technique with crazy backflips, because let’s face it, a guy wearing a cape and sixty-plus pounds of body armor wouldn’t be able to do stuff like this. (That was Tim Burton’s Batman). This Batman relies on an armory of gadgets and the help of others to fight. Nolan wants to make it clear that Bruce Wayne is just a man…that’s all.
The script by Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan has many strong points, but it also has some obvious weak moments that will make you say “Huh?” Particularly in the finale of the film, which doesn’t seem as well crafted as the first part of the movie, and actually feels rushed. All this aside, you will definitely want to watch this film more than once, because there is a lot to take in within this three hour epic. Some will argue that Nolan has created the greatest comic book based film of all time, but history will be the true answer to that. Either way, this film made over a billion dollars worldwide making it the event of the summer. Sure The Avengers made more at the box-office, but that was because it charged more per ticket for 3D, so if you removed that, Batman alone beat down seven of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Praise the Knight.
Wow! This film looks incredible and screams that you see it only on a giant TV that is 50 inches or more, (they should have stuck that sticker on the box). The film’s ratio goes back and forth to what was shot on standard 35mm at 2.40:1 and scenes that where shot in IMAX 70mm at 1.78:1. The opening plane heist sequence is amazingly filmed and you will see every detail without a hint imperfection. The night sequences and dark interiors have been nicely executed allowing individual blacks, such as Batman and Catwoman’s outfits to jump out even when they are standing in a pitch black setting. Skin tones have been correctly perfectly so no one looks orange; and just look at the metallic tubing on Bane’s mask, which if you freeze a frame looks picture perfect. This is an excellent transfer that surpasses the last two Batman movies by a mile. If watching this does not convince someone that there is no real difference between standard DVD and Blu-ray, then nothing will.
“I am Gotham’s Reckoning.” Hearing Bane’s voice come out of your speakers will give you goosebumps. Warner has spared no expense to insure that this Blu-ray delivered the best image and sound for this film that was possible, and they have succeeded. Offering a HD Master 5.1 audio track, you will definitely have the full movie theater experience if you’re set up for it. Hearing the roar of the tumblers racing down Gotham’s streets, or the Bat-Pod as it retracts its wheels to change direction will make you want to run out and buy the toys. Dialogue is clean and crisp; and Bane’s lines have been filtered to echo and vibrate. Some are still saying that the have no idea what he’s saying, but these are people who just don’t clean their ears. Hans Zimmer’s powerful score is also a major character in the film, and when it’s pumped up in the action scenes you will appreciate every note. This one is a solid undisputed winner.
Warner has included a healthy amount of bonus material, but there are still missing items such as a director’s audio commentary from Christopher Nolan. Sure it seems that Nolan doesn’t do commentaries, but it makes you think that maybe in the future they will re-release a super edition of the trilogy that includes a director’s commentary track.
For anyone who has a tablet or smartphone, you can access the Second Screen Experience. To do this you will need to download The Dark Knight Rises FX app and have your Blu-ray player connected to your home network. Now you can you use your device as a second screen as you watch the film on TV to access exclusive behind the scenes features. If you have all of these tools in your home, use it, because it adds to the experience.
The bonus full HD features on the second disc are divided into three categories:
Production – (includes the following 12 featurettes that total 70 minutes):
“The Prologue: High-Altitude Hijacking,’’ “Return to the Batcave,” “Beneath Gotham,” “The Bat,” “Batman vs. Bane,” “Armory Accepted,” “Gameday Destruction,” “The Pit,” “Demolishing a City Street,” “The War on Wall Street,” “Race to the Reactor,” and “The Chant.” All of these are self-explanatory by their titles with each giving a detailed behind the scenes look of the visual effects and large scale action scenes.
Reflections – (includes 2 featurettes that total 15 minutes):
“Shadows & Light in Large Format” discusses shooting in the IMAX format, and “The End of a Legend” has key cast and crew members talking about the making of the Batman trilogy.
Characters – (includes 3 featurettes that total 27 minutes):
“The Journey of Bruce Wayne” looks at the path the boy from Gotham City had to take to become a hero; “Gotham’s Reckoning” focuses on the villain who calls himself Bane; and “A Girl’s Gotta Eat” details Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.
The Batmobile is an addition treat that runs an hour long and goes into the history of Batman’s ride, from the comics, the TV show, animated series, and all of the movies. Some cool interviews including one from the man himself, Adam West, make this a must watch.
All four of the original trailers that built up the hype for the film are included.
On the go you can access the UltraViolet copy for your mobile device, and a standard DVD is also tossed in.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a true masterpiece that has raised the bar for any new attempts to reboot the franchise (and yes, it will be rebooted just like Spider-Man was). The first two films, especially The Dark Knight, stand alone and The Dark Knight Rises despite its flaws is still an amazing film and bookends this vision of the caped-crusader to satisfy the masses. The Blu-ray does not disappoint offering both excellent picture and sound quality and a nice batch of extras that are worth watching. Most believe that Warner will eventually release an ultimate edition of the trilogy one day, and if Blu-ray history has proven anything, we know for sure that this will indeed happen. There’s a lot more Bat-money to be captured.
SCORES (Out of 5):
The Movie: 4.0
Bottom Line: 4.5
Reviewed by Johnny McNair
Sony Pictures – 106 min – 2012 – Rated PG-13 -1080p – 1.85:1 widescreen – DTS-HD 5.1 Audio – UltraViolet Copy
Let’s get this out right up front, Men in Black 3 is a forced sequel. By that I mean it really did not need to be made and no one was saying “hey, are they ever going to make another MIB movie?” There are three reasons it was made; one is because Hollywood loves the word trilogy; two is due to the fact that the second Men in Black movie sucked; and three is the easy one…more money (especially for Mr. Smith). Men in Black 3 was one of the biggest hits of the summer, so the gamble paid off. Sony has released MIB3 on glorious Blu-ray just in time for the Holidays, and while it will never match the level of the original film, it’s not so bad.
Reviewed by Johnny McNair
Universal Studios – 86 min – 2012 – Rated R -1080p – 1.85:1 widescreen – DTS-HD 5.1 Audio – Digital Copy
Silent House is not a great horror/thriller, but it is incredibly ambitious and worth watching just because it attempts to display the entire movie in real-time. That is one continuous shot from beginning to end. This technique has been used in various films, but it’s usually just one scene, such as the famous shot in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas where Henry and Karen enter the nightclub from the back and walk all the way through the interior to the main area as the camera follows them without a single cut. To date, Alfred Hitcock’s film ‘Rope’ is the most successful attempt at making the one continuous shot movie, and Silent House tries to use that as film as its template. Silent House comes to Blu-ray from Universal, and though it may not scare you, if you’re a filmmaker you will appreciate the method used.
Reviewed by Johnny McNair
Disney/Buena Vista – 107 min – 1997 – Rated R -1080p – 1.85:1 widescreen – DTS-HD 5.1 Audio
Many great films came out of the decade of the 90’s such as The Matrix, The Shawshank Redention and Pulp Fiction, but there were also some hidden gems that still stand out, and every time your flipping cable channels and you see that it’s on you will stop and watch it. Grosse Pointe Blank is one of those movies. For the last 6 years every other film has been released on Blu-ray, except for this one. Finally the wait is over and Disney/Buena Vista has opened its treasure chest to release Grosse Pointe Blank, calling it the 15th Anniversary Edition. Grosse Pointe Blank is still a good movie, but this Blu-ray leaves a lot to be desired.
Reviewed by Johnny McNair
Fox – 111 min – 2012 – Rated R -1080p – 2.40:1 widescreen – DTS-HD 5.1 Audio – Digital Copy
It seems that Hollywood is trying to make ‘alternate history’ their newest genre to capitalize on. Earlier this year Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had our 16th President fighting the undead and attempting to unite the country. Now another famous figure in history, gothic author Edgar Allen Poe (who ironically is also in character in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) is given his own alternative twist in The Raven, released on Blu-ray by Fox. Poe was without a doubt one of the most influential literary geniuses of his time, but could he have also been a kick ass action hero?
Reviewed by Johnny McNair
Sony Pictures – 136 min – 2012 – Rated PG-13 -1080p – 2.40:1 widescreen – DTS-HD 5.1 Audio – UltraViolet Copy
Hollywood has found a new way to get an audience to cough up their hard earned cash without risking the studio’s bankroll on creating something new or original. It’s called the “reboot.” It’s a simple formula where if a movie was successful the first time, then all you need to do is wait roughly five years and then remake it again with different actors, writers and directors. It worked for Batman so of course it will work for another loved American hero…Spider-Man. Director Sam Raimi and actor Tobey Maguire did an incredible job with Spider-Man 1 and 2 (the second film being a classic)…but fell flat with the third film, leaving a bad memory for Spidey fans. Well now the Web-Head is back, and this time he’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which has arrived on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures. Was it too soon for Spidey to put his red and blue tights back on? Let’s see.
Reviewed by Johnny McNair
Fox – 105 min – 2012 – Rated R -1080p – 2.40:1 widescreen – DTS-HD 7.1 Audio – UltraViolet Copy
We all know that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States; we know that he ended slavery; we know that at 6’4” he holds the record as the tallest President; and we know that he was assassinated at the Ford Theater in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth; but did you know that Abraham Lincoln was also a vampire killer? This is the basis for the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is based on the alternate history novel of the President by author Seth Grahame-Smith. The film is now available on Blu-ray from Fox, and even though it is far-fetched and as over the top as you can imagine, if you just don’t take it seriously (and yes that is hard) you can have fun with it.
Warner Bros announced that the Dark Knight Rises is now officially coming this December. Check out the trailer and information below.
The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.
Own it on Blu-ray Combo Pack or Digital Download December 4