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Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park is one of my all time favorite films, it is a masterpiece and a landmark in film history. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, the Steven Spielberg adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel is about a rich entrepreneur named John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) who has designed and built the world's first amusement park with live dinosaurs. Hammond needs specialists to sign off on the park before the insurance company will allow him to open for business so he enlists Dr. Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) to take the ride through Jurassic Park, along with us. Of course after the ride begins things start to go wrong, due to sabotage, and chaos ensues as the dinosaurs take over the park.
The movie is a fast paced, suspenseful, and well done, in the tradition of "Jaws", not an exact reference of the source material but the version that was meant to be. The effects are still astounding and the movie still works 20 years later. The film's 20th anniversary 3-D convert is excellent. It has a lot of depth and the movie lends itself well to the added dimension. The movie was "sweetened" for the 3-D release, adding just some environmental elements for 3-D and the soundtrack was also tweaked to engulf the audience more.
The only new extra is a short featurette on the conversion of the film, that is also in 3-D, nice touch. The original blu-ray from the box set and a DVD is also included in the 3-D combo-pack. The extras on the blu-ray are a very good combination of older extras and a new documentary, which has counter parts on the sequels in the box set (or separate releases that are now available).The only changes are environmental objects for stereo- viewing, and the soundtrack has also been enhanced to engulf the audience. No there has been no real "changes" made, so no need to get upset that it is really more than what it is, a 3-D version of the classic film.
Well worth the upgrade, though I now have more copies of "Jurassic Park" than I can count
you want one???
Enjoyable 3D Blu-Review
Captain America: The First Avenger's 3-D presentation is almost as good as the "Avengers" presentation. Chris Evans plays the World War II genetically engineered superhero, as the story begins in that era. Steve Rogers was always small, but wanted nothing more than to serve his country like his friend 'Bucky' Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and finally got his chance when a German scientist, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) offers him the chance of a lifetime, only to have the project fall short of a "Super-Soldier Army" thwarted by Nazi ally HYDRA research department headed by Johann Schmidt, also known as the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Leaving Rogers the loan subject to be paraded around the country to gain support for the troops, until he gets word that his friend Bucky has been captured, and even though Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) tells him not to, Rogers saves his friend's life along with several other troops. In the wake of this event Rogers is awarded his own team to lead as they go in to clean up Nazi Germany. The film's climax is made up of events that lead up to modern day, and ushers us into the "Avengers" film. It is still a very satisfying film on it's own just the same.
Captain America is a top notch thrill ride, and is what we have come to expect out of Marvel headquarters. Along with a good looking 3-D Blu- Ray, it is well worthy addition to your library.
Better than it had the right to be...
3D Blu-Review... Marvel has given us a plethora of great entertainment the last few years leading up to the "The Avengers" last summer, part of that was introducing us to Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger the year before that. Both movies are available in 3-D, and the films actually both good as far as movies go, differ in the 3-D arena drastically. Thor tells us the story of the Norse god himself, living in Asgard, a beautiful world ran by Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and protected by Thor, his friends, and Thor's brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). After a break in to the kingdom by what appears to be their old foes the Frost Giants, Thor and his entourage seek revenge for the invasion. Odin thwarts war just in time, and in turn banishes Thor to Earth, hoping he may learn a thing or two about becoming a King, and earn his rightful place on the throne. In the meantime Loki seems to be responsible for the events and is stirring up trouble behind the scenes, leading to Odin falling into a coma, and Loki taking the throne of Asgard.
On Earth Thor keeps running into a few scientists, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) who were chasing a storm that seemed to include Thor inside. Thor's friends start to smell something foul and question Loki, and try to find their friend on Earth. The climax ramps up and the action is well paced. Director Kenneth Branagh does good with the "Aquaman" of the Marvel Universe. I never felt Thor needed his own film, but it works.
What doesn't work so well in this film is the 3-D. It is very difficult to make out anything in any of the darker scenes. Some scenes work, but for the most part the 3-D presentation is lackluster at best. The 2-D version of the film is fine, but unfortunately I cannot recommend this movie in 3-D, a first for me.
The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers (2012) a movie nearly a decade in the assembling, (yes pun intended f**k you if you don't think it's funny) is a kick ass movie, through and through, what all the fan boys have been waiting for and showing average audiences why comic-book story arch's are so entertaining and can make exciting movies. The movie begins where Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Thor (2011), Iron Man 2 (2010) and the original movie, and The Incredible Hulk (2008) led us to, an assembly of 'Marvel", a spectacle unlike any super-hero movie, or movie period has before. Loki, Thor's adopted brother, has come to earth via S.H.I.E.L.D tampering with a magic cube known as the Tesseract, which he in-turn steals from the agency along with converting Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) to the dark side with a magic spear he has brought with him. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) see's no alternative to fight this "God" from another dimension than to restart the "Avenger Initiative" and bring together the worlds finest heroes, Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), recently thawed out Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and to track the Tesseract with his knowledge of Gamma Radiation, Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who, just for good measure, happens to morph into a huge green monster when he's aggravated.
Director Joss Whedon handles the film with finesse, and the movie lives up to expectations, all around. The 3D presentation is excellent, and really stands out during the climax, which I have to commend Joss Whedon and those responsible for setting it during the day, helping the 3D stand out. So many of these type of movies set the end showdown at night, and it was a nice change besides being beneficial to the 3D.
Green Lantern (2011)
I did watch the Extended Cut before, but I have to say I enjoyed the theatrical cut a little more, the movie flows faster, and seems to have more energy. The 3D presentation is well done, and does help with the CGI, as well.
The story is about test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) who is chosen by a ring of power, making him part of the Green Lantern Corps, which are basically an Intergalactic Army, protecting the galaxy from evil. Hal is the first human to ever be chosen and needs to prove to the other Lanterns and himself that he can be one of them and protect earth from ultimate doom.
The 3D presentation is immersive enough, and still looks good in the outer-space scenes, helping the CGI blend as I said before as well. A lot of well used floating effects, sometimes the villain can become hard to make out but that's the nature of the effect I think so I won't hold it against the movie. For the most part the picture isn't overly dark either, so that's a plus as well.
TRON is one of those movies, that could have been as bigger, but yet still managed to weave it's way into the culture, especially with the internet boom in the 90′s. TRON has a hazy past on home video, only being released maybe twice on video, and once on DVD in a sub-par version, and then a decent special edition.
The movie had become such a cult classic that Video Games and other forms of extended universe entertainment had always been in development at Disney. Nearly 30 years after the original film, a sequel, TRON: Legacy, was released. It would seem history would repeat itself with TRON's legacy, pun intended, as TRON: Legacy didn't exactly bust blocks, but did make it a viable franchise that does continue in Animation, Video Games, and a possible third film.
So as a sequel was on the way you would think a Blu-Ray release of it's 1982 elder would be a no-brainer. This did occur, but not until he Home Video release of TRON: Legacy. That being said, it doesn't matter really in the grand scheme of things, other than maybe a bit more interest in the sequel, or what Disney seemed to fear, that audiences would turn away from the sequel as they did the original, because it is different, and when things are different it's hard to find a way for Hollywood to get their heads around it.
I will review TRON: Legacy soon, but I want to take a look at the original first. It is a classic, no matter if you want to admit it or not, it is a breakthrough in not only technology and special effects on the screen for it's time, but is also the first film to use computer generated images, (CGI), and blend them with footage of real people.
Disney tried to jump on the Arcade Game craze of the late 70′s and early 80′s and that is why it's more than obvious that is the reason Disney made this movie. The lead character in TRON isn't the character of the same name, but an Arcade owner and former game and program designer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who is trying to hack into his former employers computers to prove that his games were stolen by new VP of Encom, Ed Dillinger (David Warner). He is helped by former co-workers, Lora (Cindy Morgan) and Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) who just happen to create a new program called TRON, created to fix the problems with the new Master Control Program, Dillinger has total control over, so it seems. They try to break into Encom one night, while in the process Flynn is sucked into cyber-space accidentally and is now a user in the world of programs. Programs are like the people who make them, and of course resemble them. The world they live in though is where Disney's hard work comes in. It may not seem so visual by today's standards but the fact that the Academy disqualified the film because they used computers and felt they "cheated", goes to show that they were on to something, and this is modern film-making in it's infancy, light years ahead of the rest. (Less than 10 years later many awards were given to movies for utilizing computers, including Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park.) My review is getting a little long, and that is part of the turn-off to some people about TRON, it is a very simple story told in a very original and complicated way. There are so many elements that all tie in to the plight of Flynn to get home, and the programs defeating the Master Control Program, that forces them to play games to the death, like the Romans, using the ones it has use for, disposing of those it does not, and once a user gets thrown into the mix, everything changes.
The Blu-Ray presentation is well done. The colors are vibrant, and the computer world stands out and even though some of the effects are archaic, High-Def doesn't really show the tape and glue, so much as enhances the charm of the challenge that this huge task was for the group behind it. The new sound mix is also well done for a 30 year old film, it serves it's purpose without complaint.
The Blu-Ray adds a few new short documentaries in High Def, along with the previous DVD special edition bonus features, so everything is covered pretty well. The 2 Disc DVD from years ago was Criterion quality, so even if those features were all that were on here, it would still be a good haul.
It's Awesome...3D Blu-Review Tron: Leagacy
My first RealD 3D experience in the theater was the movie TRON: Legacy, and I enjoyed it, but it was so dark, and hard to see, as most people give as the reason they do not like 3D movies in the theater. My experience on my 3D home theater though was excellent. Truly two hours of eye candy, a movie that truly uses the 3D to it's advantage and not just a gimmick.
The movie is a sequel to the 1982 Disney cult-classic TRON, the story begins in 1989, with a computer altered Jeff Bridges returning as Kevin Flynn, telling his son about the world he experienced and had been trying to get back to, which he does, and becomes trapped in for over 20 years. Flynn's son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is just as technically inclined as his father, but not as interested in running his father's company Encom, so he does what he can to get under the corporate board member's skin, whenever he can. When his father's former partner and the man that created the program TRON, Alan Bradly (Bruce Boxleitner) gets a page from Kevin Flynn, Sam sets out to investigate his father's disappearance only to get sucked into the "Grid" while discovering his father's hidden work room in the old arcade. Soon after arriving Sam encounters his father's program that forces Sam to compete in the "games", Clu (Jeff Bridges computer altered to look young again), and TRON (also an altered Bruce Boxleitner), he escapes the games with the help of Quorra (Olivia Wilde) who takes him to his father who lives outside the city, having been betrayed by Clu. After meeting his father the trio discover that Clu is responsible for luring Sam into the Grid, as part of a plan Clu has to get into the real world by using Kevin's disc. It becomes a race against time for the trio to stop Clu, and get back to the real world.
The 3D is unique in that, the "Real World" scenes are in 2D, which makes things stand out even more when we enter the Grid with Sam and enjoy the adventure. The movie is presented in the IMAX version, where the screen opens up to 1.78:1 from the 2.35:1 aspect ratio for bigger action scenes like The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The 3D set also includes a standard 2D Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital Copy, extras of course are on the 2D disc like most sets like this. The disc is light on extras unfortunately, a short film about the day after the events of TRON: Legacy, which is okay but nothing mind blowing, a few shorts documentaries, second screen experience, a trailer for the Disney XD cartoon, and a music video by Daft Punk round out the extras. After the bevy of extras on the original, this is a bit of a disappointment. If you have a 3D home theater though, this is a must for your collection.
The 70th anniversary Blu-Ray of Dumbo is a must have for Disney fans and classic animation fans alike. The movie has been restored beautifully, showcasing the charming water-colored backgrounds, and the animation just pops off the screen in High-Def, like a living painting. Years ago when I seen a documentary about how Disney was using computers to clean up their classic animated films frame by frame I wasn't sure how the result would be, but the movie looks like it was just made, and not in a bad way. The sound is equally well restored, not over-blown but above and beyond most movies over 70 years old. A huge improvement over the DVD release from 2001.
The movie if you are one of the few people on earth not familiar with the tale, is about a baby elephant with extremely large ears, named Jumbo Jr, but after being mocked the name "Dumbo" sticks. Despite this, with the help of his friend, a mouse, Timothy Q. Mouse, he soars above his bullies in more ways than one.
Dumbo is presented in it's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and you can chose to watch it with black bars on the sides, or changing art panels that reflect each scene. There is also a Cine-Explore experience, with historians and animators taking you through the movie, a deleted scene and song, a documentary on the making of the film, a feturette called Celebrating Dumbo, and one on the ride at Disney Land, an audio commentary, a pair of classic Disney Shorts "The Flying Mouse" and "Elmer Elephant" (both in HD as are most the special features), and some games for the kids. A nice package for a classic film.
MOVIE: 10 out of 10
AUDIO/VIDEO: 9 out of 10, 10 out of 10
EXTRAS: 9 out of 10
I, Robot (2004)
I, Robot 3D Review
I, Robot is a sci-fi thriller about a cop, Del Spooner (Will Smith) set in the year 2035, where robots are everywhere, do most labor, and are sub-servant to humans, but he doesn't trust them. After an apparent suicide by Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) a designer at US Robotics, the countries biggest robotics company, Spooner smells something isn't right, and implicates a robot, Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk), in what appears to him as a murder, which is against one of the 3 Laws Of Robotics;
I recall reading I, Robot,and several other Isaac Asimov's stories when I was younger, the collection of short stories have little to do with this film though, only the 3 laws more or less are important. That aside, I, Robot is actually a very entertaining and clever thriller, with for the most part so-so special effects for decade old CGI, more on par with a video game, and Will Smith doing it 'Big Willy Style'. I like Mr. Smith, I've followed his career since he was only a rapper, and for the most part the man has made his career, and has arguably the most successful musician turned actor since Barbra Streisand. Rising above his urban upbringing and taking acting so seriously that you can watch him progress into a serious contender in the realm of acting Gods over the last couple decades. Now, I'm not saying that I, Robot is a masterpiece of cinema for the times, nor am I saying it's Will's best acting job ever, in fact that brings me to my point I was getting to, after giving credit where credit is due, in this movie, as I said before, Mr. Smith is doing it "Big Willy Style", and what I mean is, this is a character that Will plays from time to time in these obvious big budget movies. A style interchangeable with a few of his other screen alter-egos. That aside, this movie is fun. That's what counts, it's a pop-corn movie, it's just a little bit better than most. Before you bombard me with slander for comparing this movie to Jaws, it's not in the same league, but the way it's constructed reminds me of how Steven Spielberg took one story and kept the spirit, but gave us something that was much more exciting than had it been a direct adaptation, and this movie is the same way, the spirit of the stories are there, especially with the 3 Laws, but it's a nice tight suspenseful tale that keeps you interested and pays off.
All that aside, let's get to the "meat and potatoes" of what this review is really about, the 3D conversion. It's interesting how the movie has been cropped from it's original aspect ratio down to 1.78:1. making the film feel a tad cramped sometimes, as you are losing some of the picture, but I actually prefer 3D presentations in this ratio normally, even though I do generally prefer a nice full 2.35:1 or more panoramic picture to movies like this, at home 3D movies that are in a smaller ratio tend to lend to the experience better by filling the entire screen. I could go on and on about this all day, and I"m sure if your even still reading you don't care anymore either, the real deal is does the 3D conversion work? Yes and no. It's not going to blow your mind, and probably not going to be the first movie you grab to try and impress your friends with. Most scenes feel like two 2D images just separated from the background, very flat. This is one time i cannot say that the 3D helps with the CGI blending with real footage and it is sad because in films that were older, like Jurassic Park and Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace the 3D conversion helped those films. It's decent enough, and since most places have it reasonably priced, it is a suitable addition to your 3D library. The standard version is on the same disc, and there is a DVD in the combo pack. All the original special features were carried over.
Basically animated Greatest Hits...
I've always been a Cheech and Chong fan, so I was looking forward to Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie, but basically it's an animated "Greatest Hits" collection of some of their audio skits from their albums. The animation is pretty decent, looks bright and vibrant in High-Def. The animation is better than a Flash animated movie per-say, but it does have that type of feel to it. The movie segways between set pieces, and really all I can say is if your a fan of the duo you'll still enjoy it even though it's not new material. It reminds me of the Looney Tune movies that used old animation mixed in with new in a way.
It could have been worse though, it is fun for what it is, as long as you don't go into it with huge expectations.