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Sun
26
May

Isn't It Romantic Becomes What It Denies

Isn't It Romantic BD

ISN'T IT ROMANTIC is an entertaining rom-com that sets out to prove all rom-coms are fomulaic drivel -- and quickly becomes formulaic.

Not that this is a bad thing. Formulas work, and attempting to subvert audience expectations is a tricky business that is more risk than reward. Formula brings people back. I watch every Hallmark Channel Christmas movie with my wife, and within the first fifteen minutes have written the ending, and that still doesn't stop her from watching each and every one of them.

In this film, we meet Natalie (REBEL WILSON) who from a young age has been told by her mother that happy endings don't happen for girls like them. Believing this, Nat has grown up to be mildly successful as an architect but without her own voice and a lack of respect from her own employees. When discussing romantic comedies with her assistant, she ticks off a lengthy laundry list of items that are everything she feels is wrong with them.

Fri
10
May

LEGO Sequel Doesn't Stack Up to Original

LEGO Movie 2: Second Part

Given the amazing success of THE LEGO MOVIE, it was inevitable that there was going to be a sequel, starring the same characters. And sure enough, here comes THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART, with Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Arnett returning to their roles of Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Batman.

There's just one problem. After seeing the brilliant end of the first movie, the rabbit is out of the hat. We know what's going on. The magic is gone. It's like trying to do a sequel to THE SIXTH SENSE and trying to forget the whole time that Bruce Willis is a ghost. (LEGO Bruce Willis appears in this film, so that's not entirely a non sequitur analogy.) Where we were originally left in the dark as to what "Kragle" was, we now immediately work on the (less-than-inspired) translations of the "Sis Star System" and the "Bin of Sto-Raj."

Fri
19
Apr

Black and White and Cute All Over: IMAX Pandas

IMAX Pandas

This nature documentary pops right off the screen, thanks tot he IMAX filming of the subjects and their lush settings.

Narrated by Kristen Bell, IMAX PANDAS takes the audience into the world of the endangered Giant Panda, and the efforts to repopulate them in the wild. We get to see baby pandas, born in captivity and nurtured at a panda preserve in China, and learn of the efforts to wean the captive pandas back into their natural habitat. But that is no simple task.

Tue
16
Apr

Future Shock as Legion Villains Battle the Justice League

Justice League vs Fatal Five

Just when I was getting used to the idea that every DC Animated Universe release was going to be a continuation of the New 52 paradigm, they throw us a curveball and give us another chapter in JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED -- and a most welcome one at that!

The voice acting trinity of Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, and George Newbern return as Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, with Kevin Michael Richardson joining the team as Mr. Terrific and Daniela Bobadilla as potential League recruit, Miss Martian.

Sun
07
Apr

Bumblebee: Mining 80s Nostalgia Produces Best of Transformers Series

Bumblebee Blu-ray and DVD

For the first fifteen minutes of BUMBLEBEE, I found myself over-analyzing things. The battle for Cybertron, for instance, was fought between Autobots and Decepticons who transformed themselves into vehicles already. Why? They did not have vehicles there to blend in with, they traveled under their own power, they had programming (in English) that had to have been put in by somebody, and, most distracting, their "mouths" moved when they spoke when their voices were sent through speakers, so there was no reason to use movement to articulate sounds. In fact, being advanced electronics, it was more likely they would communicate directly, wirelessly, through technology akin to Bluetooth.

And then I got it. It wasn't that BUMBLEBEE was cheesy like an 80s movie. It's not that BUMBLEBEE was even an homage to cheesy 80s movies.

Sun
31
Mar

Not Much Mystery in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Carolyn Keene's girl detective is getting another shot at live action adaptation, this time coming to the screen with the help of IT girl, SOPHIA LILLIS as the titular Nancy Drew.

Nancy lives in a small town, having moved there from Chicago with her father, attorney Carson Drew (TRUE BLOOD's SAM TRAMMELL), following the death of her mother. She's a tomboy with a penchant for getting into trouble due to her sense of vigilante justice (which ranges from dying a bully blue to actual breaking and entering).

Despite her short time in town, she's made some friends in plucky George Fayne (ZOE RENEE) and scientific genius Bess Marvin (MACKENZIE GRAHAM). She's also made an enemy in rich girl Helen Corning (LAURA WIGGINS), the girlfriend of said bully-turned-blue.

Sun
24
Mar

Long Live the King: Aquaman Comes to Blu-ray and DVD

Aquaman on Bluray

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was being birthed, there were labor pains. How could they have a successful franchise, when their top selling titles -- Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men -- were already franchised out to other production houses?

It's hard to imagine it now (and for longtime comic boom fans, it was even hard to imagine it then), but at the time all this was going down, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America were not top-tier characters for the House of Ideas. There was literally nowhere to go but up with these guys, and so that's where they went.

Thu
21
Mar

Mary Poppins Returns is a Spoonful of Sugar and More

Mary Poppins Returns on Blu-ray

ROB MARSHALL has accomplished the rare privilege of getting to direct a classic of the Disney variety. MARY POPPINS RETURNS pops off the screen, with a color palette right out of a fantasy and a soundtrack firmly in tune with the songs from the original 1964 film that gave us such unforgettable songs as "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

EMILY BLUNT steps into the impeccable shoes of the unflappable Mary Poppins, arriving at a time when the two Banks children, Michael (BEN WHISHAW) and Jane (EMILY MORTIMER) have grown up. Jane, like her mother, works to promote women's suffrage, while Michael is a struggling artist who has taken a job at the bank to make ends meet after the loss of his wife. Michael's three children, John, Annabel, and Georgie, do their best to help out, but can accomplish very little when the family learns they have until the end of the week to come up with the money to save their family home before the bank forecloses on it.

Tue
12
Mar

Mary Poppins Returns Blu-ray Combo Pack and Compact Mirror

Mary Poppins Returns

Finally, a giveaway that's practically perfect in every  way!

Up for grabs this time, Critical Blast is proud to offer the Blu-ray combo pack of Walt Disney's MARY POPPINS RETURNS, starring EMILY BLUNT as the iconic magical nanny, and LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA as her streetwise friend, Jack. Returning to the Banks' home during a time of crisis, Mary Poppins arrives just in time to save the Banks children -- and their children -- as well as their family home.

Replete with all the 2D animation mixed with live action footage, and filled from beginning to end with song and enchantment, MARY POPPINS RETURNS is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious addition to any family's video library.

And to sweeten the deal, this package comes with a compact mirror with digital messaging! Let's see Mary Poppins top that!

Thu
07
Mar

What are the Crimes of Grindelwald? Perhaps This Latest Fantastic Beasts Film is One of Them?

Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindwald Blu-ray Harry Potter Wizarding World

EDDIE REDMAYNE returns as the gawky and awkward (gawkward?) Newt Scamander in this second installment of the Pre-Potter series, FANTASTIC BEASTS. The unlikely hero is saddled with a quest from no less a personage than Albus Dumbledore, making his appearance in this series thanks to JUDE LAW, to track down and... I don't know, stop, protect, capture, talk to a person named Credence Barebone (EZRA MILLER, JUSTICE LEAGUE). We don't really know why until the end of the movie, which is too long in coming.

Tue
05
Mar

Is This DVD Set Fun to Watch? Ancient Astronaut Theorists Say, "Yes."

Ancient Aliens Season 11 V 2

It is within reason that one could make a series all about the mysterious places and events on the planet that feed into and support the notion that we've been visited by alien intelligence in the distant past.

It beggars comprehension that there would be enough of this to support eleven whole seasons of television. And yet that's exactly what the History Channel has accomplished. (We can argue the merits of the discordant marriage of ANCIENT ALIENS and the concept of "history" another time.) It's become such a popular series that series regular Giorgio Tsoukalos has become a popular meme.

Sun
03
Mar

Make The Little Mermaid Part of Your World

Little Mermaid 30th Anniversary

With the ubiquity of the Disney Princesses these days, one can almost forget what a turning point in Disney animation it was when THE LITTLE MERMAID made her debut. After having gone through a long, dry spell of failures and near-successes, the House of Mouse had fallen upon hard times.

Enter Alan Menken and Jodi Benson, and suddenly Ariel was part of our world -- a persisting part of it, opening the door to a revolution in Disney animation that went on to give us BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, THE LION KING, and many more. Suddenly, the world was aware of Disney as a movie-making entity again, and began hotly anticipating each new release.

Sun
03
Mar

Instant Family an Instant Favorite

Instant Family Blu-ray

Yes, it's true. INSTANT FAMILY is, in fact, an instant classic. But don't let that lead you to believe it's an instant family classic. The film is rated PG-13 for a reason, and that's because the film is, above all else, brutally honest in its depiction of fostering and adoption, including the troubles of the children involved and the temporary recriminations of the parents who step up to the challenge.

When Pete and Ellie (MARK WAHLBERG, ROSE BYRNE), a pair of house-flippers, decide that they've waited too long to have biological children, they decide to go the adoption route. Surprisingly, and perhaps shockingly, the process is very much like shopping, complete with online browsing of available children and a visit to a fair-like event where potential parents can interact with the kids until they find one they click with.

Sun
24
Feb

Takashi Miike's Audition a Solid Blu-ray Release from Arrow

Audition - Arrow Video - Blu-ray release

After seven years a widower, Shigeharu Aoyaama decides he will take his son's advice and look for a new wife. A colleague decides to help by setting up a situation -- an audition -- to allow Shigeharu to screen and judge potential candidates, and that is when Shigeharu notices Asami.

Everything about Asami seems intriguing, and Asami seems responsive to Shigeharu's advances. But the fairytale soon turns nightmarish, and keeps going off-course.

Click the video below to get our full review on this Takashi Miike film, from Arrow on Blu-ray.

Sun
17
Feb

Ralph Breaks the Internet Astutely Skewers Online Culture

Ralph Breaks the Internet

When we met Wreck-It Ralph (JOHN C. REILLY), we entered a world of boomer nostalgia. The videogame culture of the 80s came back to all of us who had lived through it, and introduced it to a new generation who now enjoy playing the retro, 16-bit arcade classics as much as the modern high-definition games. Our personal game collection here has added a classic wood-grain Atari 2600 console as well as a Nintendo 64, and are getting regular play.

Sun
10
Feb

Keys to the Kingdom Poor Sequel to Norm of the North

Norm (ANDREW TOTH) is a polar bear who, out of all the bears at the North Pole, has the ability to speak human. This is convenient, as he finds himself having to interact with them a lot in this film, and is apparently a novelty. A point is made that none of the other bears (or other animals, for that matter) speak human -- except for Norm's son, Quinn. It's nothing that's taught, it just happens.

Thu
07
Feb

Doctor Who Season 11 Not as Bad -- or as Good -- as Previously Reported

Doctor Who Season 11

Much ado was made about the iconic British sci-fi show, DOCTOR WHO, when the Doctor regenerated once more, this time into female form and played by JODIE WHITTAKER. More than that, the former showrunner, STEVEN MOFFAT, was leaving as well, putting the new direction of the show up in the air. Some fans were prepared to love the series, no matter what; others seemed determined to hate the series, no matter what.

The true measure of this eleventh season fell somewhere in between--not as bad as the naysayers put it, but nowhere near as good as the positive numbers indicated.

Sat
02
Feb

Cloverfield Producers Need to Look up Definition of Paradox

Cloverfield Paradox

The Earth is having a critical energy crisis. It's only hope lies with the experiments on an orbiting space station, where an international group of astronauts tries to fire up a super collider. If they are successful, they will provide a limitless source of free energy.

Of course, they may also rip a whole in space time, interact with parallel realities, and unleash demons on the world -- but those are just the ravings of Internet conspiracist Mark Stambler (GOTHAM's DONAL LOGUE), a theory he calls "The Paradox."

After some unsuccessful attempts, the collider works -- and then overloads. And the Earth is gone, and common knowledge has gone with it.

Fri
01
Feb

Scooby-Doo Resolves Old Series with Curse of the 13th Ghost

Scooby Doo Curse of the 13th Ghost

Among the many series that have been a setting for Scooby-Doo and the gang, there was the 1985 show, THE 13 GHOSTS OF SCOOBY-DOO, an adventure series starring Shaggy, Scooby, and Daphne, accompanied by Scrappy and a young con-artist named Flim-Flam. In this series, Shaggy had opened a chest of demons, releasing the 13 ghosts inside. Due to the wording of the curse, only the person who released the ghosts could put them back in -- so a globe-spanning series began, with their mystic mentor, Vincent Van Ghoul (voiced by VINCENT PRICE), leading them from one caper to the next.

This series was unlike previous incarnations of the show, because the ghosts were not people in rubber masks using hidden rope-and-pulley systems, but actual spirits. However, during the course of the show's run, they only captured twelve of the ghosts.

Mon
28
Jan

Reign of the Supermen Weaker Follow-Up to Death of Superman

Reign of the Supermen Blu Ray DVD

With THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN, the DC Animated Universe gave us a story that was emotionally impacting, as it developed the budding romance between Superman (JERRY O'CONNELL) and Lois Lane (REBECCA ROMIJN), with the Man of Steel having recently revealed to her his secret identity of Clark Kent. And then, Doomsday came, the battle was joined, and Superman was dead.

Or was he? Because the cliffhanger ending left us with a stolen body and an empty tomb.

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