Blu-ray Today: Sorcerer, Stallone, Seagal, Seven Warriors and Several Spideys

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

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Sorcerer - Through an accident of timing, this movie is most famous in the nerd-sphere for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with its content. Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood booked it to be their main attraction in June of 1977, forcing them to give Star Wars the boot after a month, a decision they were locked into because they counted on the William Friedkin action movie being a bigger deal.

Fans booed, and the Chinese ultimately brought back Star Wars as soon as they contractually could, but now, in the modern area of George Lucas-bashing, it seems like the perfect time to check out what everyone thought would be his stiff competition, and appreciate it for what it is - a tense thriller about four guys paid the big bucks to drive a truck full of nitroglycerin across the jungle. The Blu-ray conversion was supervised by Friedkin himself (something none of the DVD versions can claim), and features a 40-page booklet with pictures and excerpts from the director's autobiography.

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TR Interview: Mark L. Lester, Director of Poseidon Rex...and Commando!

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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Let's get real: Poseidon Rex, the swimming tyrannosaurus movie, is not a movie you want to pay to see in a theater, even though it will be in a few starting today. It was made with TV in mind, for an intended audience that prefers their beers in a nearby fridge and their visual effects just slightly unconvincing (I imagine, though, that this level of fakish CGI will one day induce nostalgia in a certain generation, just as not-quite-convincing stop-motion did for our parents).

And yet the director is Mark L. Lester, the guy who made Commando, which is only one of the greatest movies in the history of ever. So I couldn't not talk to the guy, in part to see how he got here from there.

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18 Fictional Bunnies That Haunt the Dreams of Nerds

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

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When we learn that the Martians are predatory toward humans in War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells offers us a bit of perspective by having his narrator remind us: "how repulsive our carnivorous habits would seem to an intelligent rabbit."

No doubt, but this time of year even the vegans enjoy eating rabbits, of the chocolate and marshmallow variety delivered by the Easter Bunny. Perhaps it's an attempt to steer humankind away from our repulsive carnivorous habits? Although his ancestry is in pagan folklore - a fertility symbol, probably - the E.B. is an unthreatening sort. But it's striking how many of his fictitious cousins from nerdy pop culture are fiercely formidable, even sinister and scary, and how often they even the score with humankind for our lapine cruelties.

A few examples...


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Blu-ray Today: Jan Svankmajer, Ben Stiller and a Bunch of Other Nuts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 8:00 am

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Jan Svankmajer's Alice - As curiously literal as it is to Lewis Carroll's text, this stop-motion feature by Czech surrealist animator Svankmajer is as far out in its visuals. Alice goes back and forth from doll to human without much explanation, the Mad Hatter's made of metal, and the White Rabbit is a taxidermy nightmare with real fangs and googly eyes. It ought to be one of the most amazing things ever, but Svankmajer is determined to constantly point out the artifice - mostly by non-stop closeups of his lead's mouth as she follows every line of dialogue with "...said Alice," "...said the March Hare," etc. As a result, one is inherently distanced from the substance, and while the style is unique and fun, it does get extremely repetitive eventually.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Ben Stiller's latest movie about what a cool guy he really is once you get past his exterior takes the title of a James Thurber short story in vain. Having very little to do with a tale that was all about escaping into the imagination, Stiller's take sees Walter as an ex junior skateboarding champion, now a meek employee of Life magazine who embarks on a search for a daredevil photographer (Sean Penn) in order to procure a missing negative. Beautiful cinematography mixes with non-stop product placement to make a final film that, ironically enough, probably can't measure up to the daydream version you'd create in your own head.

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Weekend Hangover: Superhero Furries, Spider-Politician, Sharknado 2 and More

Monday, April 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

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While I am certain - not - that most of you were either partying at Coachella or gettin' down to the MTV Movie Awards, many of your fellow readers were scaring up the usual mess o' stories that we didn't have room for last week. Compiled from the weekend thread with the help of Kyle LeClair, here are your weekend highlights of hilariousness.

Tipsters include: donnaryoko, Anyone00, SlyDante777, Dr.Gonzo82, Gallen_Dugall, Citrus_King, troi, andre_morello

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DC Collectibles Gives Early Look at Batman Animated Style Freeze and Two-Face Figures

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

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When DC Collectibles revealed the Batman from their new Dini-Timm animated action figure line, I know some of you were suspicious that it wouldn't be very articulated. The computer model for the next figure, above, should put those worries to rest. Mr. Freeze comes with spider legs, so even though they haven't said for sure that his head is removable, it seems likely. He'll be available in November, just in time for appropriately chilly weather - and it appears that his condition has left him cold to your wallet's plea for mercy.

If you're bi-curious about Harvey Dent's toy appearance, go check out Two-Face.

Blu-ray Today: Smaug, Paranormal Activity and Oderus Urungus

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 8:00 am

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Although the titular fuzzy-foot takes a bit of a backseat for much of the middle part of this Middle-earth trilogy, the world of the story expands significantly with the forests of Mirkwood, the burg of Laketown, numerous cave-lairs filled with preposterously narrow catwalks over large chasms, and Smaug's big treasure pit. Book purists may object to Ninja Legolas playing as significant a role as he does, but Luke Evans gives Bard more dimension than Tolkien did, and Benedict Cumberbatch is superb as Smaug. A goofily forced finale with Thorin actually surfing molten gold with a shield is admittedly one of the dumbest things ever, but overall there's enough pure fantasy fun here to recommend.

Except...there's an extended edition coming later in the year. But you've been around Peter Jackson movies long enough by now that you must surely know that.

Nurse 3D - You would think I'd be all over a movie about a fetishy vigilante nurse who preys on pervs and makes them suffer. Here's why I never saw it - the only opportunity I was given to watch a film called Nurse 3D was via a watermarked online video in 2D. I know it caused my freelancer Todd Gilchrist to develop several new fetishes, and I assume it uses 3D to primarily exploitative effect. Not having a 3D TV as yet, however, I may find it takes a while before I find out.

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War of the Worlds Contest Winners: Readers Pitch War of the Worlds Sequels

Friday, April 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm

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Perhaps I should have specified that you can only win this contest once. Because we had one entrant in particular who went for such total saturation bombing that I can only assume he was trying for all three victory slots. This was a tough one...

Your assignment was to pitch a sequel to the Steven Spielberg War of the Worlds.

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April Fool's Open Thread - Rounding up Today's Best B.S.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm

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Today is a peculiar kind of hell for aggregator sites like this one, as almost no press release or announcement can be trusted, and it somehow doesn't feel entirely sporting to call out other site's jokes before people have had a chance to fall for them (I trust by now you've figured out ours from this morning).

So instead, let's make this participatory: what April fools did you see today? Which worked? Which didn't? Include links where possible. I'll be adding to them myself.

If you still wish to be pranked by other sites, you need not click comments to be spoiled, but if you're wondering what news is or isn't real, it could be a help.

Blu-ray Today: Ron Burgundy, Japanese Kong, Hulk Hogan's Proto-UFC, Tom Hiddleston Hook

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 8:00 am

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - Well, it doesn't look like they're holding back on this one. Ron Burgundy and Co.'s latest (and purportedly last) cinematic outing includes three versions if the film - original PG-13 cut, rerelease R-rated cut, and a new unrated cut - plus a ton of extras. For my money, this is Ferrell's most satisfying film series, as he not only spreads the wealth and allows everyone in the movies to be weird, funny characters with their own beats, but he and director Adam McKay also go off on bizarre tangents that lead wherever the star's improvisations take him...somehow offering up pitch-perfect surreal satire in the process.

It's not for everyone - if you like your parody more straightforward, by all means watch a classic like Network. But maybe it's just because I watched it in the midst of tragedy and it swept me away - I had a whole bunch of fun with this film. Though, to be honest, as in most things, I did find the "ironic" racism scenes a tad tedious.

King Kong Escapes/King Kong vs. Godzilla - Before Peter Jackson got overly reverent with his revival of the big ape, Japan had a couple of gos at it, which worked out about as awesomely badly as you'd imagine. Groundbreaking stop-motion was replaced by cheesy man-in-suit antics, as Kong took on, respectively, a terrorist named "Dr. Who" and his giant Robot Kong, and the king of all Kaiju. I imagine these are being rereleased now in advance of a flood of Godzilla titles to come later in the year.

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