Big Hero 6 Alternate Intro Features Dubious Treatment of Pets

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 10:00 am

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I think it's pretty clear why Disney didn't ultimately go for this - seeing good-guy kids put rocket-boots on their cat for cheap laughs may not have the greatest outcome when show to a theater full of young boys. The cat comes to no harm in the film, but the thought of the real-life substitutes that curious kids might come up with for rocket boots is more than just a little ugly.

Baymax is here to remind you that this was just "beta testing." And I give him props for not straining to call it BAY-ta testing.

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Frankenstein Fights a Mummy in Our Exclusive Clip From...Frankenstein vs. The Mummy

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 8:00 am

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Before Universal's highly likely to-be-bullshit "shared universe" of classic monsters can get there, Image Entertainment is taking advantage of public domain characters to get some inter-creature fights going first. Best of all, in this clip we have, it's a knife fight between the two.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Egyptologist Naihla Khalil are both professors at a leading medical university. Victor's latest grisly "experiment" is the re-animated corpse of a sadistic madman and Naihla's most recent find is the cursed mummy of an evil pharaoh. When the two monsters face-off in an epic showdown, no one is safe from the slaughter. Can the murderous rampage be stopped and the carnage contained before it's too late?
I must say, I think we have probably scored you the best two and a half minutes of the entire movie. Because unlike some clips, this one gets right to it: it is a fight, and there is a clear winner. Will bandages or bolts prevail? Just watch...

UPDATE: Well, that didn't last. The film's publicity department regretted their decision to show the winner a couple of days after I posted this at their request. So if you missed it, sorry, and here's a trimmed version...

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Blu-ray Today: Book of Life, Spying on Sasha Grey and Playing in Hell

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 6:30 am

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The Book of Life - For whatever reason, Fox was gung-ho about inviting me to various pre-release events to hype this uniquely Mexican-American animated feature, but less interested in making it easy to see the full movie, or even push it for the Animated Feature Oscar. I wouldn't necessarily put that down to its quality - more likely, they simply didn't know what to do with a film that uses CG to make its characters look like they're literally made of wood, then has the main hero actually die and become a skeletal form of himself quite early on. Not to mention that there's a soundtrack which includes Latin-style takes on the likes of Biz Markie, and Ice Cube plays God (I know they don't actually call him that, but c'mon).

I'm curious to see it some day - maybe it'll get a theatrical rerelease when Pixar puts out their Dia de los Muertos movie.

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Blu-ray Today: Lucy Gots Some 'Splainin' to Do, as Trolls Get Boxy

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 6:30 am

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The Boxtrolls - Travis Knight and his crew at Laika should probably get used to the phrase "It's an honor just to be nominated." While the Academy will and should always appreciate the work that has gone into the company's elaborate stop-motion fantasies, the ancient Oscar voters are still too stuck on notions of cute animals and fairy-tales to fully appreciate the off-kilter, amicable nightmares for brave children that are the company's reason for being.

The Boxtrolls flirts with cuteness but never quite gives into it, in its tale of a boy raised by underground dwellers who speak in grunts and live in discarded cardboard cubes. On the streets above, in an absurdly rickety town perched awkwardly upon a mountain, the aristocracy obsess over cheese, while unsavory social climbers stoke the fires of prejudice against nonhumans. The climax involves a giant steampunk mech. Elle Fanning's English accent really isn't very good - why not cast an actual English girl if the voice is what matters? - but it's a tiny off-note in a symphony of mirthful mayhem.

If you don't have a 3D TV or any other Laika movies, just a couple extra bucks will buy you a disc with all three of their stop-motion features to date (not counting anything from the Will Vinton era that they'd rather you stop associating with them). Totally worth it.

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Blu-ray Today: German Pube-Monsters, Underground Dinosaurs and Liam Neeson

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 6:30 am

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Wetlands - You may remember this one as "the German microscopic pube-monster movie," though that's just the tip of the yellow snow cone in this coming-of-age tale about a girl with hemmorhoids and a defiant anti-sense of personal hygiene. But for all the talk of vaginal odors, shit, ejaculate, bloody tampons and anal fissures, it's a surprisingly sweet tale underneath, all about a girl who just wants her parents to get back together and acts out in the hope of getting their attention. Sex in real life is a lot messier - literally - than the movies usually show, but here we get little held back in terms of the less savory moments, and ultimately a more realistic portrayal of how most of us are varying degrees of fucked-up when it comes to that kind of intimacy.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray doesn't feature many extras - if you were looking for a "Creation of a Pube-Monster" featurette, keep looking.

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Before Jurassic World, Here Comes Jurassic City

Friday, January 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm

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Stone Ages? Is that like Internets?

It's not even the Asylum this time. It's distributed by Vertical Entertainment, who look like they spent maybe $100 more than the Asylum would, and - full disclosure - directed by Sean Cain, a friend of mine whom I've worked with in the past. Still, if you can watch the trailer and tell me I wouldn't have shared it anyway, I'm pretty sure you won't be doing so with a straight face.

Despite the mega-Rex over a cityscape on the poster, it looks like the focus here will be more on raptors in a prison, facing off against the likes of Ray Wise, Kevin Gage and Vernon Wells, all of whom are considerably less pretty than Chris Pratt, but in my experience, just as sarcastic.

The movie hits DVD Feb. 3rd.

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Ed Wood's Plan 9 Remade as a "Serious" Zombie Movie?

Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 8:00 am

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This seems like only slightly less bad an idea than trying to redo The Room as an actual romantic drama (pro tip if you try it - Paulette has to actually die from breast cancer). Yes, Edward D. Wood Jr. was trying to make a film about alien grave robbers making the recently deceased rise from their graves, but the real heart of the movie was his entirely wrongheaded parable for nuclear war in the form of "Solaranite" - a space super-weapon that can make sunlight itself explode. Just trying to do the zombie part feels like a cash-in missing the point - and if the goal is to be more serious, casting a Tor Johnson lookalike doesn't really work.

Then again, maybe this trailer is just hiding the best parts; the poster seems to promise flying saucers, after all. See for yourself.

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Blu-ray Today: Daniel Radcliffe Gets Horny, as Nicolas Cage and Ayn Rand Nosedive

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 8:00 am

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Horns - Audiences didn't seem to quite know what to make of Alexandre Aja's detour from pure horror into blackly comic fantasy. Promoted as a scary movie, this Joe Hill adaptation features more laughs than thrills, and most of that strikes me as intentional rather than a misstep. Daniel Radcliffe plays a small-town burnout suspected of killing his girlfriend; already demonized by most of the locals, he becomes literally so when he one day starts growing horns. Along with the new protrusions comes a weird kind of power that forces anyone around him to confess their worst thoughts and secrets - a power he has to learn to use to his advantage if he is to find the real killer. Assuming there is a "real" killer that isn't him. And yes, fanfic readers, you get your Harry Potter sex scene.

Sadly, there aren't many extras on the disc - in their stead, I recommend you watch my video interviews with both director Aja and writer Hill.

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Blu-ray Today: Kevin Smith, Troma and Riki-Oh

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 6:30 am

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Tusk - If only Kevin Smith had taken his premise a little bit more seriously, Tusk could have been the movie that would redefine him as more than just the fat guy who makes comic-book and penis jokes; a piece of body horror - about transformation into a walrus - that also feels like revenge-porn against all smug podcasters. Unfortunately, while it shows moments of brilliance, Tusk never coheres because its own filmmaker fails to fully invest in his own premise, killing any horror atmosphere he might have generated with an absurd, unfunny, over-the-top performance by Johnny Depp as a Quebecois detective named after hockey player Guy LaPointe. You can practically envision the cartoon devil and angel on Smith's shoulders as he directed, giving their otherworldly two cents at every turn, and totally see the devil winning as the end credits roll audio of Smith's original podcast-spitballing, in which he laughs at how stupid his own idea is, and by extension how stupid an audience would be to emotionally invest in it.

The Blu-ray includes multiple featurettes, some deleted scenes, commentary by Smith and the full original podcast where he came up with the idea. Whatever else you can say about the man, he never shortchanges his fans.

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Top-Down Smackdown: Belatedly Watching the Ultimate Warrior Blu-ray

Monday, December 29, 2014 at 3:38 pm

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The Ultimate Warrior, a.k.a. the man who legally changed his name to just "Warrior," comes out passionately swinging at the beginning of his recent Blu-ray set, defiantly noting that for years, fans were told that there were no great Ultimate Warrior moments, and no good matches, but that the WWE archives tell "a far different story." Now, he assures us, we are going to get the record set straight.

Yet his particular opinion on what comprises the right story is as unusual as the man himself.

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