Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Friends Season 2 Blu-ray

Friends Season 2 Blu-ray

Friends continues fast and furious right on the heels of Season 1 with the continued comedy and fun of Friends Season 2 on Blu-ray.

Film making 5/5
Video 3/5
Audio 3/5
Bonus Features 1/5

Recommendation 4/5 Stars

Friends Season 2

Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Courtney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer return for Friends Season 2 on Blu-ray as a standalone purchase. Friends is now out on Blu-ray for a complete series but to buy it with less of an upfront cost you can purchase it by the season on Blu-ray.

Friends is a sitcom from the mid to late 1990’s where season 2 concluded in May of 1996 with TV Guide placing Friends as 31st on their list of televisions 100 all-time greatest seasons. Season 1 ended with Ross leaving for China and Rachel finding out that Ross was in love with her without expressing his feelings for her.

Friends Season 2 has Rachel anxiously awaiting Ross’s return to tell him she loves him only to see Ross walk off the plane with Julie on his arm. Ross has met an old friend while in China and they are now a couple but Rachel is waiting in the wings for Ross because she now sees him as irresistible.

Rachel gets mad at Ross because Chandler convinced him to list the pros and cons of Rachel and Julie trying to weigh the good and bad of each person but Rachel finds the list. Rachel sees the list she is mad at Ross until an old video shows Ross intending to take Rachel to the prom in high school when her original date was late.

Other season long stories include Joeys burgeoning acting career and the general friendships between the six friends but Chandler still cannot find love and falls back on Janice again and again. While there are enough season long plots the shows individually are fun and definitely laugh filled but a few serious topics creep in from time to time.

Friends Season 2 on Blu-ray continues the odd audio and video quality probably more due to the source than to editing problems but it does look like the transfer was a quick and dirty one. Blu-ray looks fine for the most part but color and clarity suffers at times with some grain a bit too pronounced here and there.

Mostly it looks like they just did a quick transfer and simply put it to disc without correcting any problems or even checking for any. Audio is a similar story as it looks like they continue to have a bit of a problem again with too loud a laugh track and ambient noise that is added to highlight specific scenes.

When you hit these scenes like several times in the Central Perk café the ambient track added to make it sound like their actually in a crowded scene is too loud. At times the laugh track is actually overwhelming the sound field and it sounds like they’re actually in a stadium instead of a small café.

Voice is mostly clear but at times you may miss a few words because of this so the audio is not exactly perfect but it works well enough to not take away from the enjoyment too much. Audio and video quality are alright and not enough of an improvement over the first season to make any change to the rating for both.

Bonus features for Friends Season 2 on Blu-ray is about as non-existent as you can get with one exception, the Smelly Cat video by Phoebe. The bonus feature Friends of Friends is a quick look at recurring guests while What’s Up With Your Friends is a set of clips featuring each character of the show.

Both of these extras are really a waste of disc space but the Smelly Cat video is, well Smelly Cat so at least there is something worth watching on the Friends Season 2 edition. Friends Season 2 on Blu-ray continues the hit sitcom with comedy that just still resonates today and is well worth a purchase even with its smaller problems.

Friends Wikia

Friends Season 1 Blu-ray

Friends Season 1 Blu-ray

Friends Season 1 introduces Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe with a season long adventure of comedy and, well Friends just getting by and enjoying each other’s company.

Film making 5/5
Video 3/5
Audio 3/5
Bonus Features 0/5

Recommendation 4/5 Stars

Friends Season 1 Blu-ray

One liners like “Lets just say that my Curious George monkey is no longer curious” abounds in Friends Season 1 and the Blu-ray first season has plenty of them. Friends is a ten season long comedy series that ran from 1994 to 2004 with Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow as Rachel, Monica and Phoebe.

Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer play Joey, Chandler and Ross with an impressive list of guests like Morgan Fairchild, George Clooney and Jennifer Grey throughout season 1. The show starts with the five friends sitting in Central Perk enjoying a cup of coffee and Rachel Green enters wearing a wedding dress.

She could not go through with her wedding and turned to her best friend from high school who she did not invite to the wedding for consolation. Rachel winds up moving in with Monica when her father cuts off her money just because she doesn’t want to marry her fiancé.

24 episodes later we are fully introduced to the world of the six friends and their everyday happenings just getting along with a humorous slant in just about everything they do. The show is replete with one liners and short jokes as the half hour episodes do not allow for any lengthier setup so mostly one liners are the main fare for the humor.

Friends started out pretty good and got better for several seasons with relationships developing as the actors develop their characters. Friends Season 1 is a classic sitcom and will go down in history as a great one that fans and many others enjoyed throughout the years.

The Blu-ray edition of Friends Season 1 has all 24 episodes with some pretty good video and audio but problems crop up constantly to remind you that this is not a great Blu-ray transfer. Video is often very erratic with color and grain at times being a bit off but for the most part video looks pretty good but not great.

Audio is more the problem with voice being good but laugh tracks and ambient noise like chatter in specific scenes getting an odd treatment. Many scenes like inside Central Perk are treated with a specific track that is supposed to add ambiance but this track is mostly too loud and just sounds off.

Audio winds up being a bit of a mixed bag just like video but in the end the show is funny so audio and video quality do not take away from the show all that much. Both video and audio are good but not great while the bonus features follow along with this trend with very little in the way of extras.

Bonus features on the Friends Season 1 Blu-ray edition include an audio commentary for the Pilot episode, 9 minutes of guest star clips and a trailer to season 2 of Friends. Audio commentary that pushes the regular commentary of an episode is usually not interesting and boring which is exactly what happens with the audio commentary for the pilot episode of Friends.

The star clips are just the clips of film with the various stars such as George Clooney to show off these parts of the show while the trailer is just a glimpse into season 2. The bonus features are really not worthwhile to even look at once much less go to them a second time so bonus features are a disappointment.

If you missed buying the complete Blu-ray edition of Friends Season 1 due to availability or cost buying the individual seasons makes a lot of sense and is a good way to cut down on the expense at one time. The individual seasons are great but buying either the full series or the individual seasons really doesn’t matter from a standpoint of bonus features or quality.

Friends Season 1 on Blu-ray is a fun comedy series that is a great buy and well worth purchasing but season one does not have much in the way of extras or great quality.

Friends Wikia

LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out DVD

LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out DVD

Animated LEGO figures make a mess of the Star Wars world in LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, the latest release of LEGO Star Wars animated short films with plenty of laughs.

Film making 5/5
Video 4/5
Audio 4/5
Bonus Features 3/5

Recommendation 4/5 Stars

LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out

LucasArts along with LEGO has released their second animated short film on the Star Wars theme that bounces in the time frame of The Empire Strikes Back but actually encompasses many of the characters and events of all the Star Wars films. The Empire Strikes Out is a quick look at the Star Wars universe through the eyes Of LEGO figures with almost nonstop slap stick humor.

The Death Star made from a boxed LEGO kit or Darth Vader and Darth Maul sibling(Sith-ling) rivalry is some of the more hilarious moments but throughout the 22 minutes you do get lots of fun. Favorite characters like Luke, Han, Leia and Darth Vader are here but some from a variety of the series are also here like Darth Maul and Boss Nass.

Running from female fans we follow Luke Skywalker as he tries to find and destroy an Imperial base after destroying the Death Star which is why the fans are chasing him. Adoring fans aside the laughs come fast and furious in this not for kids only animated LEGO adventure that is well worth adding to any science fiction film collection and a must for Star Wars fans.

While the plot of the short film is not exactly adhered to the fun and joviality is and the Star Wars themed animation is a great entertainment. Notable actors voicing popular characters are Tom Kane and Sam Witwer but really famous is Anthony Daniels who played the original C3PO in Star Wars.

Other voice actors are not as well-known but all do an excellent job in voice acting for a really funny short film that is thoroughly enjoyable. The animated short has great audio and video quality without many problems while the standard DVD does not limit quality due to media size.

The DVD edition does not contain any bonus content but does contain a limited edition LEGO Darth Vader mini figure which really adds enough value considering the cost of the DVD. The DVD edition of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out is available from Amazon for $10 which is pretty good for the video and a LEGO mini figure.

While LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out is only 22 minutes long it has laughs from start to finish and enough Star Wars fun for the whole family. I highly recommend LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out for any movie collection where star wars is a part.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out @ LEGO

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out @ Amazon

Pawn Blu-ray Review

Pawn stars Michael Chiklis, Ray Liotta and Forest Whitaker in a crime drama that keeps you guessing right to the end but not in a good way.

Film making 2/5
Video 4/5
Audio 4/5
Bonus Features 1/5

Recommendation 3/5 Stars

Pawn

What starts as a common enough robbery of an all-night diner turns into a confusing mess with mobs and bad cops at the heart of this drama. Pawn starts with a confusing look at a robbery where Forest Whitaker puts two and two together and imagines what would happen if he straight out pulled his gun in the middle of the diner.

This repeat look at events happens a couple of times which just confuses the issues and makes you not wonder what really happens but why they are looking at things play out differently in the first place.  We also get a look back at some events to see what transpired up to the point of the robbery but this does not really clear the air enough.

Pawn may keep audiences on the edge of their seats with drama but it does keep them guessing what is going to happen next because of the scattered plot. The beginning scene may have been a what could be moment but they do this a few times and you get the idea that the director or writer did not start with a clear picture.

Spoiler alert but the film is not worth watching so I don’t think it matters much, the diner is a front for the mob and a certain cop wants a hard drive that has dirty cops listed on it. The robbery was supposed to get the drive and cash that was in a safe but the events played out differently than expected and a hostage negotiation winds up the robbery.

Dirty cops and mob bosses working behind the scenes make for great drama if told the right way but Pawn just makes a mess of the story from the start with the repeated scenes. The dirty cops in Pawn think they are smarter than the good ones and the bad guys, a.k.a. mobsters, think they can get away with anything but in the end the only ones who are really hurt is the audience for having to watch this mess of a movie.

Pawn is just not worth a rental as the film is confusing most of the time but in the end just does not have enough clear cut drama to make it enjoyable. Video and audio quality are probably the only savers of the movie and the only reason it gets an average rating when finally figured out.

Pawn is shot in pretty good digital film with a decent enough Blu-ray transfer but due to a low budget we get a simple transfer without much in the way of cleanup. The film looks just fine and the transfer looks good due to the source material but it does include a few problems here and there that could probably been cleared up in processing.

Audio is also pretty good but not top notch with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which sounds just fine but a few problems creep in here and there. At one point in the film static was obvious that made me look to my back speakers for a second but this only happened once while the straight forward voice was just fine throughout the movie.

Both audio and video are much better than the plot which is a shame but not surprising given this film skipped theatres and went direct to store shelves. Sometimes direct to video films can be worthwhile but not here even with a good actor list you still need better direction and plot which are missing.

I hate making of features that simply try to convince viewers what a great film they just made by restating the great actors or directors of the project. One of the actors simply sits and says to the camera what great actors are in the movie over and over but direction and plot go out the window.

There is only one bonus feature on the Blu-ray disc and it only restates what we already know but in reverse with a  good acting list but poor direction and plot. It’s no wonder that Pawn went straight to DVD and Blu-ray to skip the potential money making at the box office with its top actors but lack of good story and direction.

I would recommend renting this if you’re interested and leave Pawn to the direct to video dungeon because it just does not excite enough to warrant more money from the audience.

Pawn @ Imprint Entertainment

Lincoln Blu-ray

Lincoln Blu-ray

Abraham Lincoln is given a new look in this Steven Spielberg film that only encompasses the last four months of his life and the defining moments of the 13th amendment to abolish slavery in America.

Film making 4/5
Video 5/5
Audio 5/5
Bonus Features 2/5

Recommendation 5/5 Stars

Lincoln Blu-ray

Who knew that President Lincoln had actually delayed peace talks between the North and South as well as used other political games to work toward the abolishment of slavery. The country was tired of fighting and wanted an end to the Civil War but President Lincoln wanted more than anything to end slavery instead.

Fearing that the country would walk away from an abolishment to slavery in order to end the fighting Lincoln fights to push the amendment through congress. President Lincoln does win and the 13th Amendment to our constitution is passed but during this Lincoln himself is pushing limits to his Presidency.

Hiding the peace talk’s delegation from public view and making deals to get enough votes for the amendment to pass show the trials and tribulations that historical leaders have faced. Lincoln the film shows the troubles faced in that day and age while it also shows the inner workings that are still very much a part of politics today.

Lincoln is a great film and aside from a few overly sentimental moments at the beginning and end the film really is a great look at a pivotal moment in Lincoln’s life. The film really holds interest and shows the life of the times as well as a lot of the behind the scenes work in politics and in government no matter the time.

Lincoln is a great look into the mind of President Lincoln and the fight he made not to end the war but to end slavery which he saw as the more important issue. I really think Lincoln is one of those films that is going to be required viewing in schools as a somewhat accurate look at politics and a defining moment in American history.

Video and audio for Blu-ray edition of Lincoln is excellent with a near perfect Blu-ray transfer that has no problems at all. Color is muted and toned down to reflect the period but occasional glimpses at colorful clothing or the stark white of the White House shows the color palette is really well done.

Lighting is used many times for excellent effect to scenes such as the darker sets inside the White House where lighting was from gas lights and candles. Other scenes that show the better lighting has a perfect balance and look to the film and subject that really draws you into the picture.

Audio is excellent and the DTS-HD 7.1 surround sound track may be a bit over the top for speaker count due to the more voice centered film but they make great use of surround speakers. The side and rear speakers are used well and most of the time unnoticed until a specific moment catches your attention from the side or rear like a horse in a street scene.

Audio is excellent and even though seven speakers are rarely used to much affect this is one movie that it does sound pretty good with a full 7.1 setup. Video and audio are both as near perfect as you could ever expect and without any problems that are noticeable at all so a perfect score here is warranted.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy edition include a full Blu-ray disc worth of extras with commentary and making of features. Bonus features here are well worth the extra cost and the one thing that makes this copy stand out over just the DVD edition.

The extras all center on the film and specific choices made during filming as well as commentary with cast and crew but leaves out much of the history behind President Lincoln. I was actually disappointed by the lack of any bonus content about the historical accuracy or other history of Lincoln on the discs.

Lincoln is a great film and one that I highly recommend not only as a look into the history of the 16th President but a great look at a point in politics that defined our nation.

Lincoln website

The Impossible Blu-ray

The Impossible Blu-ray

Surviving a tsunami is only part of the incredible story of a family that not only survives but reunites with each other in the chaos after the disaster in The Impossible.

Film making 5/5
Video 5/5
Audio 5/5
Bonus Features 2/5

Recommendation 5/5 Stars

The Impossible Blu-ray

Based on the true story of Maria Belon and her family’s struggle to reunite after the 2004 tsunami devastated Thailand The Impossible stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGegor. Namoi Watts stars as English physician Maria Bennet with her husband Henry played by Ewan McGregor as they vacation in Thailand during the Christmas holiday in 2004 when disaster strikes.

The Bennet family is on vacation in Thailand at a new resort when a tsunami strikes their coastal retreat which catches the family while they are playing in the pool. Maria and their oldest son manage to stay together while being swept away with the debris as the wave washes them across the island.

We follow her and her son as they first look to help each other find shelter from a potential second wave and find a small boy named Daniel that also needs help. Maria is severely injured in the leg and chest but they eventually manage to make it to a hospital that is overflowing with patients.

While Maria awaits surgery she tells her son to see what he can do to help others so he goes about reuniting survivors with their relatives as well as looking for his father and two brothers. Henry in the meantime has managed to stay with their two younger sons and sends them with other tourists who are taken to a safer place while he stays near the resort to look for his wife and other son.

The family is eventually reunited with each other and whisked off the island to safety by Henry’s insurance company but not before they witness both the horror of the disaster and the compassion of so many helping others. The tsunami was a disaster of epic proportions but the locals were the true heroes as the tourists were not only helped but made the difference for everyone regardless of whether they were rich tourists.

The Impossible is a very good movie and well worth watching with its unique perspective of a victim in a tsunami and Naomi Watts plays an extremely convincing role. Nominated for numerous awards including Best Actress the films leading lady does a great job and the film is very entertaining as well as moving.

The movie does a fantastic job with special effects and only once was I disappointed when Maria was flashing back to her initial tumble in the tidal wave. The scene where she remembers back to her tumbling in the wave and getting poked with sticks and ripping her leg open just seemed irrelevant.

My wife looked at me at this moment and both of us said the same thing, Why have this in the film? But the rest of the movie was great. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie even though it is about a disaster in that it shows how even during the worst of times people will do amazing things to help others.

The Impossible on Blu-ray is excellent for video and without any problems throughout the film with gorgeous color even though toned down for many of the disaster scenes. Color is vibrant and good looking but even the disaster parts of the film have a piercing color variety such as the quick glimpse of the bloody wound on Maria’s leg.

The video is great and the special effects really stand out well for an excellent looking film that also has some great sounding audio. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is in both English and Spanish for the 5.1 surround sound audio that has excellent use of the sound field as well as clear voice.

The audio with its natural disaster effects does stand out but even afterwards the muted animals and insects or the bustling hospital environment all work well in surround sound. Audio is without any problems and the audio will really help to make this an excellent film overall for a worthwhile film for a disaster movie collection.

Bonus features are rather light for this Blu-ray release as I had expected to find more on the real person the film was based on or even more about the real tsunami. Audio commentary and a couple of making of features are all you’ll find worthwhile on the bonus content and a few deleted scenes round out the extras.

The two making of features are worth a look but at ten minutes for both you only get a quick glimpse behind the scenes. The extras are too light when you have so much available due to the based on a true story nature of the movie that I was disappointed at how little there is here.

The Impossible is one of those films that you cannot miss because it shows not only what really happens in a natural disaster but the human spirit that can show from underneath people. The Impossible is a great film and is definitely worth a rental if you don’t want to add it as a film for your entertainment collection.

The Impossible Website

Not Suitable For Children Blu-ray

Not Suitable For Children

Not Suitable For Children asks the question what if you had little time to father a child yet were not even married, could you find a mother for your offspring in time?

Film making 3/5
Video 4/5
Audio 4/5
Bonus Features 2/5

Recommendation 3/5 Stars

Not Suitable For Children Blu-ray

Jonah played by Ryan Kwanten has little prospects in life and just wants to have fun while he and his roommates earn a little money on the parties they host at their home. While these parties earn them enough money the future is pretty uncertain for Jonah as this is his only income but a dalliance turns his attention elsewhere when a girl finds a lump on his testicle.

Jonah visits the doctor with the life altering news that he has testicular cancer and his only option is to remove the cancer but it will render him infertile. He looks to the future and his chance at being a father only to be told that his sperm will not survive being frozen so his only option of fathering a child is getting someone pregnant before his surgery.

He begins searching for a mother only to come face to face with the fact that his fellow roommate and friend Stevie played by Sarah Snook is suddenly liking the idea. Jonah and Stevie try to conceive without their other roommate Gus finding out because things might get awkward, as if sleeping together isn’t.

When Stevie fails to conceive and Jonah is forced to undergo surgery without having to father a child they have a big argument and to make matters worse the police raid their latest party. Jonah and Stevie have a fight but in the end she comes to see him off to his big day in surgery only to realize she does love him and they do have options for children in their future.

Not Suitable For Children is a goofy film but in the end just falls short as a solid comedy or romantic comedy even though the acting is good. In Not Suitable For Children the drama of cancer takes a back seat to fathering a child and Jonah just is taken in directions that are not natural given his situation.

Yes, fathering a child when suddenly having the ability about to be taken away would be natural to want but they just go about it strangely and without enough emotional impact. The shock Jonah feels is evident but the sudden switch to wanting a child is just too sudden and even the great acting of Sarah Snook and Ryan Kwanten is not enough to propel this film above average.

Video and audio for Not Suitable For Children are great with good color and no real problems in either area but a few lower quality moments sneak in at times. Color at times is muted as an apparent choice but even with this video just never looks better than great and at times is just average.

Audio is also very good but not better and even though most of the film uses dialogue things could have been improved with the addition of more ambient sounds and music. The audio is without major problems but throughout the film you are forced to observe the fact that it is just decent audio and nothing more.

Bonus features in Not Suitable For Children include interviews with cast and crew along with a fourteen minute behind the scenes feature that includes more interviews and making of shots. The interviews are your typical extras while the making of features are also quite typical and in no real way anything above ordinary fair that is included with films.

You just cannot expect to have much else for a film that rises just barely above mediocre for extras but just like film direction a good producer could add enough to make it worthwhile. Not Suitable For Children is just not really all that great but is worth at least a rental for those days when nothing else is available.

Not Suitable For Children tumblr Website

A Monster in Paris Blu-ray Review

A Monster in Paris Blu-ray Review

Emile and Raoul release a scientist’s concoction on an unsuspecting flea to create a monster that “terrorizes” Paris but in the end he’s a better singer than a monster in A Monster in Paris.

Film making 3/5
Video 4/5
Audio 4/5
Bonus Features 0/5

Recommendation 3/5 Stars

A Monster in Paris Blu-ray Review

Emile is a romantic projectionist who has fallen in love with Maud, the ticket taker while his best friend Raoul is smitten with his childhood friend Lucille who is a cabaret singer. When Raoul is delivering some peat to a scientist botanist Emile tags along and they accidentally mix chemicals the botanist was working on and turn a flea into a seven foot tall creature.

The flea at first only jumps around but this terrorizes the city and when commissioner Maynott investigates he uncovers the truth behind where the monster came from. Lucille meets the flea when he is searching the city for a place to hide and they form a fast friendship when the flea sings to her.

Lucille hides the flea using disguises from the cabaret and introduces him in her show but Maynott is hot on the trail of the monster as well. Emile and Raoul unwittingly lead Maynott to the flea but try to fool the public and Maynott into thinking they destroy the flea by using an antidote.

Maynott sees the trap door the flea used to hide when Maynott throws the antidote on the flea and tries to shoot the flea down. The chase ends with the flea returning to normal size due to the potions effects wearing off over time and returning him to his normal size.

In the end Emile and Maud get together, Raoul and Lucille who have been unsteady friends realize their love for each other and the botanist creates a new potion to return the flea back to his larger size. A Monster in Paris is a fun film but not exactly a big hit with its less French actors for many but the movie is worth a look.

A Monster in Paris is a pretty good film but being a French film to begin with something may have been lost in moving to America and English speaking actors. The films humor and even acting is a bit off but most of the movie is good with plenty of understandable jokes and light moments.

A Monster in Paris is a decent enough film and worth a look for its different story and decent voice acting while kids will surely like the tale of a big bug lost in our world. A Monster in Paris looks great and audio also worked well but the films transfer to Blu-ray was more of a quick transition than a labored transfer.

The film is entirely digital so transferring to Blu-ray was easy with a great resulting film that has the look and feel of an animated film that also recreates the world of 1910 France. The animation is great and even with a slightly muted color palette it does look great and without problems.

Audio is also well done without any apparent problems but the voice did seem a bit low compared to the ambient noises and music. The voice was clearly audible for the entire movie but lacked the necessary punch at times to bring it clearly to the front where it counts.

A Monster in Paris had no extras on the Blu-ray disc except for the trailer which amounts to no bonus features in my opinion. The film is good and kids are sure to enjoy A Monster in Paris but with no extras the film is the only thing here to enjoy.

A Monster in Paris is a bit of an odd duck but it is an enjoyable film and well worth a rental or even a purchase for a kids movie collection.

A Monster in Paris @ Tumblr

Willow Blu-ray

Willow Blu-ray

Willow Ufgood finds a baby that turns out to be the princess that will save their world by destroying an evil sorceress but help from Madmartigan might not be much help at all.

Film making 3/5

Video 4/5

Audio 4/5

Bonus Features4/5

Recommendation 4/5 Stars

Willow Blu-ray

Willow is a new Blu-ray release of the 1988 film that starred Val Kilmer and Warwick Davis as Madmartigan and Willow Ufgood. Willow’s children find a baby who turns out to be the prophesied baby princess who will destroy the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda.

Willow first takes the baby home where his wife coddles the more normal sized baby in their Nelwyn home; Nelwyns are a dwarf like race while the larger more human like race is called Daikini. The village of Nelwyns are attacked by a hound sent out to find the baby by Queen Bavmorda so the village decides to get rid of the baby by giving it to the nearest human they can find.

Willow volunteers for the job because he cares for the baby while others are more interested in just saving their village by getting the baby out of it. The group takes the baby to a cross roads several days journey but are nearly discovered by searching parties sent out to find the baby.

The group splits with most going back to the village while Willow and his best friend stay to find someone to give the baby to only to find Madmartigan in a crows cage for theft. Willow releases Madmartigan and together they set off to fulfill the destiny of the baby who will bring about the destruction of Queen Bavmorda.

The tale may seem a bit familiar with elements of The Hobbit, Star Wars and other fantasy and science fiction but it does have a few things going for it with the advent of digital cinematography and special effects combining. George Lucas did an excellent job with the film and a so-so one with the story for a decent enough film overall that still has a following and even a chance at a sequel after all these years.

Willow is a fun romp of an adventure movie even with the somewhat corny scenes that are obvious throwbacks to other films and the somewhat lacking use of green screen and other older special effects. The movie did use some new technology and the start of computer animation is evident by the use of it a few times even if it does not look as good as it does in more recent films.

The Blu-ray release looks very good and even with or despite George Lucas supervising the transfer it still came out excellent and without any apparent problems. Just putting his name to a title transfer to Blu-ray does not really impress me at all but this one came out very well and you have no issues at all with the clear video and excellent color.

Audio is also well done and without issues from the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio Surround track that makes great use of surround sound. The surround field is well used for almost every scene with nice fill in and background sounds from the rears while the voice is clear in the center and action moves nicely from speaker to speaker when appropriate.

Bonus features include a great mix of new and old with about an hour making of features that show from director Ron Howard to the actors about the film and special effects used. The bonus content may be a bit short but it does have enough very interesting content to make it well worth watching and without any time wasting stuff added just to make it longer.

While the bonus features could have been longer with more on the technical aspects at least they did not add filler that is not interesting so there is enough worthwhile content. Willow is an interesting movie that fits into that period where CGI and computers broke into special effects but old school techniques were still used because it worked well.

George Lucas with Ron Howard as director did an excellent job and even if the box office sales did not show how good this film was it has since grown a decent following. Willow is well worth a rental and even a collection addition to keep a good balance and to show off the beginning of the new technologies used in special effects.

Les Miserables Blu-ray

Les Miserables Blu-ray

The hit Broadway musical Les Miserables takes to Blu-ray with Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Russell Crowe in this epic following the life of a paroled convict and his struggle to reform.

Film making 5/5
Video 4.5/5
Audio 5/5
Bonus Features 2/5

Recommendation 4/5 Stars

Les Miserables Blu-ray

I’m not a big fan of musicals but every once in a while one will make an impact, I thoroughly enjoyed the first few seasons of Glee but after the graduation things got messy. The same can be said for some musicals that have made an impression on me in the past like The Sound of Music but that was too clean and sweet.

Les Miserables goes in the opposite direction with a realistic look at the world of France just after the French Revolution and the dirty world of the early 1800’s. Les Miserables starts with the confirmation to police inspector Javert played by Russell Crowe that a paroled prisoner will return to his life of crime if pushed far enough.

Jean Valjean played by Hugh Jackman stole a loaf of bread to feed his family and was imprisoned for a couple decades but after being paroled finds life is harsh for ex-prisoners of the time. He is forced to carry papers declaring he is a danger to society and finds no one will give him work or a handout except a caring Bishop.

The Bishop gives him shelter and food but in the night Jean steals his silver only to be caught by police but the Bishop says he gave the items to him. The police are incredulous until the Bishop gives him more silver to ensure the police believe he has not committed a crime.

The Bishop tells Jean to use the gifts to change his life around and do good which Jean takes to heart and breaks his parole to pretend he is an upstanding member of society to help others. He builds a business and becomes a mayor of a small village but mainly helps his workers when they need him in ways that change their lives.

Les Miserables jumps several years between scenes to show how Javert continues to run down Jean only to find he continues to evade him through both quick movements and a good heart. In the end Javert discovers how he has not been a good person in his dogged chase of Jean over the years when Jean has been nothing but good and honest in trying to reform his life.

Les Miserables is a different kind of musical with only a few dozen spoken words throughout the two and a half hour movie while song is the main medium. The musical is great but does not endear itself to all audiences so this movie may not be for everyone.

Video is fantastic and audio is exceptional as you would expect from a Blu-ray film shot of a musical with an excellent transfer to Blu-ray from the original. The film uses an interesting darker look in the beginning that brightens as the story progresses but the film is entirely gritty throughout.

Video really looks great with only a few problems in the dark look at the beginning that may seem odd to some but overall the film looks great. Audio on the other hand is no problem whatsoever with great surround sound from the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound track which is nice if you have the system.

The use of 7.1 surround is a nice feature for a musical and really the only choice for this type of Blu-ray so if you do have the speakers you will enjoy the full use of surround sound. Audio is great and you do hear the music and song easily throughout even at times when the orchestra makes it a bit difficult to hear some of the song.

Bonus features for Les Miserables is a bit of a disappointment and one that I was actually surprised with as I figured at least more making of features and even some history lessons thrown in. Bonus content includes a feature commentary, an hour making of feature and a short look at the novel for a decent mix of extras.

The feature commentary is a straight talk with Director Tom Hooper that is quite bland while the making of feature that runs for an hour is mostly cast interviews interspersed with looks at filming. The quick look at the original novel is too short but overall the entire bonus content is a bit boring and really only highlights the cast of this film instead of a more in depth look at the film or the rich history of the tale.

Les Miserables is one of those love hate relationship type of films where you are probably not going to bother with it if you don’t have at least some interest in musicals. Mostly if you’re going to purchase Les Miserables you probably have enjoyed other musicals while a rental would not be out of the question if you’re not sure.

The Blu-ray edition of Les Miserables is well worth a rental just to see a hit musical and find out what all the hype is about as well as seeing a great story with an excellent cast.

Les Miserables Film Website

LesMis Musical website