Get Low: Weak and lifeless

A scene from Get Low – Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic

Get Low (Blu-ray) – Set in Tennessee during the 1930s, Get Low tells the story of an old, cranky hermit (played by Robert Duvall) who wants to throw a funeral for himself before he dies in order to get something off his chest. He approaches a local funeral home director (played by Bill Murray) to set it all up for him, and then proceeds to be difficult during the planning of it all. With the hype surrounding Get Low I expected a lot more out of it and was surprised with the result. It tries too hard to be both a comedy and a drama, and is a complete snooze-fest that grated on my nerves from beginning to end. The performances from Duvall, Murray, and Sissy Spacek, who plays an old friend of Duvall’s character, were also very weak and lifeless.

The Blu-ray release isn’t one to write home about either. The image and sound are mediocre, and the content is not required viewing in HD. Special features include commentary with actors Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek, director Aaron Schneider, and producer Dean Zanuck, cast and crew Q&A’s, making-of featurettes, and more. Film ** Blu-ray **

(2 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Get Low below:

Megamind: Mega maybe

A scene from Megamind – Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation.

Megamind (Blu-ray) – When evil villain Megamind (voice of Will Ferrell) defeats the hero (and his arch-nemesis) Metro Man (voice of Brad Pitt), he soon realizes being the ultimate bad guy is not all it’s cracked up to be (especially when there is no left to stop him). In order to solve this problem, and fix his boredom, he turns a dweeby cameraman into a new hero named Tighten (voice of Jonah Hill). Well, when Tighten can’t have the girl (voice of Tina Fey), he turns evil too and now Megamind is forced to become Metro City’s newest hero. While I enjoyed the animation of Megamind, and thought the voice casting was very well done, I just couldn’t stop thinking how I would have rather been watching Despicable Me again. It’s similar in story and tone, but has so much more heart that it is sure to be celebrated for years to come while Megamind will be forgotten quickly.

As with most recent animated film releases, Megamind looks amazing on Blu-ray. The 1080p picture is crystal clear and shows off the vibrant colours of the film wonderfully. The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD sound mix is also very impressive, and gave my system quite the workout. Special features include an additional adventure with Megamind, a trivia track, a featurette on how-to draw Megamind, a picture-in-picture track with storyboards and behind the scenes footage, and much more. A regular DVD of the film is also included. *** Blu-ray ***

(3 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Megamind below:

Due Date: Why not tonight?

Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. in Due Date –  © 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures

Due Date (Blu-ray)  – Due Date was good when I saw it in the theatre, but I knew it would be a much better watch at home. Boy, was I right. The film takes the premise of Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) and replaces Steve Martin and John Candy with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. Add to the mix director Todd Phillips (The Hangover), and the film delivers a ton of laughs with some memorable, off-colour, scenes (which all work better from the comfort of your couch).

The Blu-ray release features a clean HD image and decent sound mix. Special features include additional scenes, a gag reel, a special Two and a Half Men scene featuring Galifianakis’s character, and more. A regular DVD and digital copy of the movie are included as well.   *** Blu-ray ***

(3 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Due Date below:

Small Town Murder Songs: Audio interview with director Ed Gass-Donnelly

Ed Gass-Donnelly and Peter Stormare in Small Town Murder Songs

Small Town Murder Songs is the second feature film from Canadian writer-director Ed Gass-Donnelly. The film follows Walter (Peter Stormare), the sheriff of an Ontario Mennonite town, as he investigates the murder of a young woman while trying to deal with his own inner demons. With solid performances and grim cinematography, mixed with powerful music courtesy of Canadian rockers Bruce Peninsula, it’s an intense film reminiscent of the early work of the Coen brothers.

Bamcat spoke with Gass-Donnelly about Small Town Murder Songs, listen to our audio interview below (10:20 in length).

And here is the trailer for Small Town Murder Songs:

Casino Jack: Skip this fluff

A scene from Casino Jack – © 2010 – ATO Pictures.

Casino Jack – When I lambasted Casino Jack for being too much of a Hollywood movie and not enough of a true biopic, I received a personal email from director George Hickenlooper that came off angry at first and then went into detail of his intentions with the film. Unfortunately, Hickenlooper passed away before I got the chance to discuss it with him further, but my feelings on the movie haven’t changed, and it’s just as annoying now as it was then. The problem is with Kevin Spacey, who plays real-life Washington, D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff got in over his head with greed and ended up in prison because of his involvement with several illegal deals. Spacey plays him like any other character he’s played before and you can’t help but think he’s just playing himself. The saving grace of the film is Barry Pepper, who keeps it somewhat interesting enough to sit through with his portrayal of Abramoff’s lackey, Michael Scanlon. If you’re interested in the subject, skip this fluff and watch the doc Casino Jack and the United States of Money instead.

2 out of 5 stars.

Here is the trailer for Casino Jack and the United States of Money:

And the trailer for Casino Jack:

Dogtooth: Use caution

An image from Dogtooth – © 2009 Kino International.

Dogtooth – It’s been a long time since I’ve been so divided over a movie as much as I am over Dogtooth. Part of me really loved it, while the other part despised the hell out of it. I’m shocked it got nominated for an Oscar (best foreign film), yet at the same time happy the Academy was brave enough to acknowledge it. I’m sure I won’t be alone in my apprehension with it either. The movie, about three teenage children kept locked away from the outside world by their parents in a cult-like compound, is cold, features many awkward sexual scenes, some scenes of incest, and creates an overall uneasy feeling while watching it. But there is something so intriguing and artistic about it that it’s haunted me ever since screening it. No, it’s not for everyone, but if you go in with an open mind you might find the good in it as well.

4 out of 5 stars

Here is the extended trailer for Dogtooth below:

The Mechanic: A fine remake

A scene from The Mechanic – © 2011 – CBS Films

The Mechanic – Is Jason Statham the Charles Bronson of this generation? After seeing The Mechanic, a remake of the 1972 Bronson film about a hitman who takes out his mentor (played by Donald Sutherland) and then trains the mentor’s son to be a hitman as well, I feel as though he is. He kicks ass with style, delivers his lines cooler than any other action star of the last 30 years, and is just wicked to watch onscreen (if you haven’t seen Crank or Crank 2: High Voltage you don’t know what you’re missing). Joining Statham as the son of the mentor is Ben Foster, who has proven himself as a solid actor in 3:10 To Yuma and The Messenger. He plays off Statham wonderfully, and together the two make this otherwise generic action flick a pretty awesome one.

3 out of 5 stars.

Please enjoy the trailer for The Mechanic below:

Machete: “Machete don’t text!”

Danny Trejo with a trench coat full of machetes.
A scene from Machete. Courtesy 20th Century Fox Home Video.

Based on the fake trailer from the 2007 Quentin TarantinoRobert Rodriguez double feature Grindhouseand directed by Rodriguez and newcomer Ethan ManiquisMachete is a violent, bloody, B-movie romp about a bad-ass Mexican Federale (played by Danny Trejo) who must go on the run after a drug lord (played by Steven Seagal) murders his wife and child when he refuses to be paid off by him. Years later and we find Machete, now an illegal immigrant in America, doing day labour in Texas. Soon after he’s back fighting for his life, hacking people up who get in his way.

“Machete don’t text!” No, he doesn’t text, but he sure does know how to slice, dice, and tear bad guys up with a blade better than a celebrity chef can handle a chicken.

Trejo is Machete and it’s hard to imagine any other actor playing him. He’s so scary onscreen that if I was to ever see him in real life I’d probably run the other way. The rest of the cast is also perfect, with Robert De Niro, Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, and Lindsay Lohan all hamming it up in their roles. Seagal is great too, and Cheech Marin’s part as a gun-toting Padre is golden.

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Machete pays great homage to the films that inspired it and uses some of the same techniques Rodriguez and Tarantino used on Grindhouse. Signs of intended film scratches and colour changes are present, and the soundtrack is very reminiscent of exploitation films from the ‘70s. It’s all part of the experience of this type of movie though, and it’s what makes Machete so fun to watch.

If you want over-the-top violence, cheesy dialogue, and a scene where a character uses someone’s intestines to swing out a window, look no further than Machete.

The Blu-ray release does a great job with the 1080p image transfer and 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix, but fails in the special features department. Besides a digital copy and a few deleted scenes, there are a couple of trailers for the movie and some sneak peeks. That’s it. No Rodriguez film school or slew of extras he usually includes. It’s a shame too, because if they put some effort into the release it would be a must-have title for your collection.

**** Blu-ray ****

(4 out of 5 stars)

Rated 18A
Cast: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez
Directed by:  Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis

Please enjoy the trailer for Machete below:

Never Let Me Go: Ok, I’ll go once – but that’s it

Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go – Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Never Let Me Go (Blu-ray) – Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go is a dreary drama about a group of kids born with the sole purpose of being organ donors. Although the film has roots in sci-fi, director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) set it up like a period piece and let it play out as such. With Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield starring, I really expected it to knock my socks off. Instead, I found recycled performances from the trio, a lengthy running time, and an overall boring and lackluster film. It does have some great cinematography and lighting, as showcased on the Blu-ray release, but that wasn’t enough to save it. Special features on the Blu-ray include a making-of documentary. Film **  Blu-ray **

(2 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Never Let Me Go below:

Conviction: Not much

Minnie Driver and Hillary Swank in Conviction.

Conviction (Blu-ray) – Directed by Tony GoldwynConviction tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters (portrayed by Hillary Swank) and how she enrolled in law school in order to fight for her brother’s innocence after he was sent to prison for murder. Sam Rockwell portrays the brother, Kenneth Waters, and shines in the role. Sadly, I can’t say the same for Swank. She was so terrible and miscast that it brought the entire film down to the level of a made-for-TV movie. This is not required viewing in high-def, and with only one special feature (an interview with the real Betty Anne Waters), it’s a real waste of the Blu-ray technology. Film ** Blu-ray **

(2 out of 5 stars).

There is a trailer for Conviction you could watch it here: