TRAILER: Daybreakers

I'm not sure why this second trailer is only a minute long (I'm hoping it's just to avoid giving away too much of the film), but this film remains one of the many reasons I'm looking forward to January. Vampire films have been iffy recently (insert poor TWILIGHT joke here), but this new view on things is a refreshing twist and I for one am looking forward to the change.

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TRAILER: Universal Solder 3

I'm at a loss for words here. The idea of Dolph and Van Damme coming back to this long dead (and subsequently worn out) franchise was like a dream come true...on paper anyway. I loved the hell out of UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, but the drivel that came afterward left a harsh taste in my mouth that still comes back to haunt me from time to time. Add to that, this pitiful minute and a half trailer (never a good sign), and a lame as hell, generic "terrorist attack" storyline that comes off as a poor man's 24 ripoff which left me sick to my stomach. You should be ashamed of yourself boys, Rick James gives these titties four thumbs down!

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BLU RAY: The Professional

"A scandalously delicious dark thriller."

A hitman with next to no people skills rescues a young girl after her family is butchered by crooked cops. Despite reservations (and knowing she’s out for revenge), he takes a shining to her and eventually starts training her in the business.

As fate would have it, I was lucky enough to score yet another cult classic making its debut on Blu-ray: THE PROFESSIONAL/LEON. Assassin flicks are a guilty pleasure for me, and though far too often we get the “assassin with a heart of gold” routine (which this film had a hand in starting), no other film handles it quite like Luc Besson does here. Yes, the romantic angst of a young Natalie Portman trying to sleep with a dude old enough to be her dad is more than a little unsettling, but then again, chicks always go for older guys and tend to dig hitmen.

This film did wonders for Jean Reno who is a phenomenal actor and gives a stunning performance as Leon. I was happy to see him go on to MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and the upcoming ARMOURED, and still think it was super cool that his voice and likeness were used in Onimusha 3. For being a kid, Natalie Portman sure does blow the roof of this film. And despite loving Gary Oldman as Sirious Black and Jim Gordon, I’m happier to see him as yet another intriguing villain because he’s the man when it comes to being evil. I just wish there had been a commentary so I could figure out what was up with those pills and bone cracking.

The extended version of the film adds another twenty four minutes, which truth be told, is mostly more bonding between Reno and Portman. I dug their chemistry, and liked how she made Leon a bit more human. Leon is a cool character, the milk and plant stuff made me smile and almost forget that he’s a killer because at no point do feel the man was cold blooded. I wasn’t too thrilled with how Tony treats Leon (like a child), and I would certainly be a little less nonchalant about all the money that Tony was “holding onto” for me.

Everything about THE PROFESSIONAL/LEON is morally wrong on so many different levels, which is probably why I love it as much as I do. This film came from the glory days back in the nineties when you could should kids smoking, playing Russian roulette and shooting random strangers with a sniper rifle full of paintballs. No way in hell you could pull that shit off these days, the studios would no doubt call the police on your ass after reading the script. Chris Bumbray called it right with his tribute to the late nineties, because it’s been awhile since Hollywood partied like it was 1999. And it’s a damn shame.

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BLU RAY: Funny People

"This wasn't nearly the train wreck I expected it to be."

A lonely comedian who’s made all the wrong decisions in life is diagnosed with a fatal disease, making him want to change things and become a better person. He soon realizes this is easier said than done.

A funny thing happened when I sat down with FUNNY PEOPLE (no pun intended). I originally had zero interest in seeing this film, having been turned off by the premise and the trailers. A couple people I know said it was mildly entertaining after seeing in theaters but for the most part the buzz was cold. I have to say that I enjoyed this film for the most part (going in with no expectations no doubt helped), and though the premise did indeed seem linear to me by way of advertising, the story, characters and overall angle this film used hooked me from jump street and won me over shortly thereafter.

The fact that Judd Apatow was involved is what enticed me back before the trailers came out. That said, Apatow also teamed up with Sandler for YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN, which after the first ten minutes (and seeing Sandler catch a whole fish between his naked ass cheeks) made me rather nauseous. This film is a lot like Apatow’s KNOCKED UP, in the way that its biggest weakness is trying to squeeze an awkward love story (that ends up creating an emotional mess) into the last act and subsequently eradicating the “happy go lucky” comedic tone (which I was loving) this movie worked so hard to create.

Despite my belief that Adam Sandler’s comedy career was resting peacefully in an unmarked grave alongside Eddie Murphy’s, I have to admit he was on his game here. The jokes he and Seth were dishing out were funny, as was their endless banter and penis jokes. Seth looks like he should be doing subway sandwich commercials because of all the weight he lost, but as always delivered the goods. There were also a slew of fantastic cameos (the Eminem and Ray Romano bit was hilarious), but I felt Eric Bana’s role was rather slim despite his extra time in the deleted scenes (he kicked ass in STAR TREK though and I’m hoping it gives him a push in the right direction).

FUNNY PEOPLE was far better than I originally gave it credit for, and despite pacing issues due to the horrible love triangle (and the fact we could have lost a good twenty minutes off this two and a half hour bad boy), I had a solid time with this crew and laughed myself into tears more than once (Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman’s bit about his grandfather going to hell cracked me up). What makes this film especially surreal is how much it almost plays out like a documentary on Adam Sandler’s life, though I’m sure he’s much happier than George in real life. At least I hope so.

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BLU RAY: Fight Club

"Still one of the best times you can have in front of the tube."

A man’s lonely downward spiral into madness suddenly takes a turn for the better when he befriends Tyler Durden, a curious fellow who makes and sells soap.

I am Jack’s evil grin. Why? Because I’m holding the 10th Anniversary Edition of FIGHT CLUB on Blu-ray in my hands! One of the many things I love about Blu-ray is that they’re still releasing some of my favorite oldies and it is damn cool to not only revisit them in HD but review them as well. FIGHT CLUB for me was a surreal experience, and I can still remember how fast my mind was racing as me and my crew walked out of the theater. Not many films possess the power to change the way you think or view the world around you (in a good way), but that’s exactly how I felt afterward: Changed for the better.

On the surface this film begins rather innocently; Norton is an insomniac, a depressed, obsessed man going through a midlife crisis and on the verge of simply losing his mind. That last point is strongly debatable as the tale unfolds, but the way I like to see it is that Norton’s character not only woke up from the cruel dream he called a life, but did so with smart (if not a little cynical) solution in the form of outright chaos. This film is a hierarchy of intrigue, combined with a brilliant sense of clarity that most people are afraid to acknowledge, or wouldn’t understand if they did. There are also many subtle nuances to pick up on through multiple viewings.

I’ve always been a Norton fan (he’s one for choosing powerfully complex characters), his performance here was beyond words (much like his roles in PRIMAL FEAR and AMERICAN HISTORY X) and still leaves me in awe. Brad Pitt also became a hero of mine after this film. Tyler Durden is one of the greatest characters ever invented as far as I’m concerned, his witty dialogue, crazy attitude, undeniable charisma and sharp intellect are the stuff of legend. Helena Bonham Carter was morbidly sexy here as a trashy, parasite of a woman with more issues than politics (I’m still at a loss for words over her “I haven’t been f*cked like that since grade school” remark).

FIGHT CLUB is easily one of my top ten favorite films of all time. Nothing will ever bring back that jaw dropping feeling of revelation I got on my first viewing, but I can honestly say that knowing “what happens next” doesn’t phase or deter me from watching this film at least once a year. There is so much to love here (literally in the case of Bob’s man-boobs), and no matter how much this film is copied, quoted or imitated, there is no duplicating this baby and absolutely no substitute for the real thing. This film is truly one of a kind and looks amazing on Blu-ray. Happy ten year anniversary!

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TRAILER: Season of the Witch

So I'm not overly thrilled to see Nicolas Cage in the lead here, but him aside this looks like a spooky atmosphere combined with a evil to the bone bitch who's out for blood. This tap dances around the fantasy genre but will fair just as equally in the horror department (assuming it's not PG-13 which I don't think and pray it isn't). Not much is known to me about this flick, but I like what I'm seeing.

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BLU RAY: Monsters, Inc.

"Call me a big kid, but I'm loving the Disney/Pixar Blu-rays."

Sully and Mike are Monster Inc’s top earners in the scare business, but when a little girl named Boo sneaks back into Monstropolis with them, the two scariest monsters suddenly begin to question the system as they try to get her back home.

MONSTERS, INC. explores a new level for Disney and Pixar, and paints a distinctly different picture than A BUG’S LIFE. I was immediately captivated by the idea of monsters who venture out into our world via closet doors to gather the screams of children which they use as a power source for their technology. This thesis alone should be enough to capture the imagination of just about anyone. There is a distinct hierarchy noticeable within the string of films brought to us by this impressive duo (Disney and Pixar) and though they always do right by the kids, it’s more than obvious here that they started taking proper care of the older audiences as well. I for one approve.

The jump to Blu-ray is phenomenal, often times making me wonder if the monsters were going to jump out of my TV screen as well as the closet (well, not really, but I’m sure you see what I’m getting at). The animation is crisp and vividly detailed (Sully’s fur), but in all honesty, I almost feel that it leveled out with this film and though they maintain this level of excellence as they go (all the way through UP), I don’t feel that it has gotten or even will get any glossier than this. I’m not complaining mind you as that’s not a bad thing, I mean there’s only so far animation can go before it loses that cartoonish feel we all know and love (which is exactly what scares me about a potential ROGER RABBIT sequel).

The voice acting line-up is nothing short of stellar with John Goodman and Billy Crystal as the two top scare guys of Monstropolis. The camaraderie between the two is flawless and the laughs shared between them and because of them are hilarious (the “one eye” bit floors me every time). The fact that these monsters (who scare kids for a living) are ironically scared to death of children is also quite a hoot (the contamination hose-down is priceless). Steve Buscemi is a great villain and more than comical himself. I’m also a big fan of the Abominable Snowman voiced by John Ratzenburger.

Don’t let the fact that MONSTERS, INC. revolves around children fool you, the overall premise of this film is very grown up and even sentimental at times. Watching this film back when it first came out made me start to pay close attention to Disney and Pixar and gave me a whole new respect for these types of films. Disney is far from perfect but there can be no denying that they evolved at an opportune time and have brought us (and continue to bring us) some fantastic animated features. Just when you think the next one won’t possibly live up to the last, most times it does and in some cases even tops it. This Blu-ray package is nothing short of phenomenal and a must have for fans. Bring on FINDING NEMO!

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