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DVD Review: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Meegatron   |  

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Two Disc Deluxe Edition
Directed by Rob Cohen
Starring Brendan Frasier, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Luke Ford, Michelle Yeoh, Isabella Leong
Universal Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 16, 2008

The third installment of The Mummy series is sure not to disappoint. Well, one thing is disappointing and I have to say it right from the beginning. What happened to the real Evelyn O’Connell? I really hate to start a review like this. I like to tell a bit about the movie and then give my feelings, but I couldn’t, and I am sure you won’t be able to. It’s not that Maria Bello (Thank You for Smoking, A History of Violence) is bad in her depiction of Evelyn, it’s just that, Rachel Weisz is our Evelyn. Maybe Weisz’s decision to do Definitely, Maybe or My Blueberry Nights blocked her from The Mummy project. If it did, I have one thing to say: she should have stuck with The Mummy series. No judgments on the other two movies, but, you get my drift.

In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, a new kind of mummy is released, Emperor Han (Jet Li), by mistake of course, and it is up to Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn, along with their now-adult son Alex (Luke Ford) and Evelyn’s brother John (John Hannah) to save the world from complete enslavement.

The Mummy franchise has yet to disappoint me and Rob Cohen does not do so now. In the interest of not giving away everything in the movie, I am keeping my review short, but I will go in detail about this DVD edition’s many bonus features.

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Watch ‘My Name Is Bruce’ On Demand Today!
Empress Eve   |  @   |  

On my birthday back in November, I took in a screening of Bruce Campbell‘s new very-limited-run campy horror film My Name Is Bruce (see ‘My Name Is Bruce’ Screening Details’). Instead of opening wide, or even limited to NY and LA, Campbell and Dark Horse/Image decided to take the film on tour to various cities, with Campbell going along to each theater for a post-screening audience Q&A.

If you missed this movie when it came to your city, you’ll have to wait til February 10 for the release of the DVD and Blu-ray OR you can rent it for $5.99 and watch it right now only through Amazon’s Video On Demand service. I’m not sure how long it will be available, so I suggest you rent this right away.

Fans of Campbell will undoubtedly love the film, which stars the famous b-movie actor as a more vulgar version of himself. While filming another one of his b-movies, Campbell takes what he thinks is another acting job in the small mining town of Gold Lick, but he’s really been recruited there for a more dangerous purpose. Believing that the actor actually has the extraordinary qualities of the action heroes he plays in his movies, the people of Gold Lick expect Campbell to take down Guan-di, the Chinese protector of the dead (and bean curd) who’s been killing off the townspeople.

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DVD Review: The Man Who Came Back
Jack Bauerstein83   |  

The Man Who Came Back DVDThe Man Who Came Back
Starring Eric Braeden, Billy Zane, Arand Assante, Carol Alt
Directed by Glen Pitre
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 9, 2008

I am an old fashioned type of moviegoer. I like my gun battles hyper kinetic and unrealistic, and my main characters to be no nonsense do-gooders with shades of gray. I also like buddy-buddy action movies but that is neither here nor there. My point is, there is nothing wrong with a movie filled with mindless shoot-em-up gun battles, and unrealistic scenarios. If you are a fan of this type of movie, then perhaps The Man Who Came Back is right up your alley.

Set years after the end of the Civil War, Eric Braeden stars as local legend and war hero Resse Paxton. Paxton is accused of hanging a recently freed black by the racist mayor Billy Duke (James Patrick Stewert) and sentenced to jail. When the mayor and his cadre of ruthless thugs murder both his wife and son in front of his eyes, Paxton has no choice but to take revenge on those who are responsible as The Man Who Came Back.

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Game Review: LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
WordSlinger   |  

LittleBIGPlanet for Playstation3LittleBigPlanet
Genre: Platformer
ESRB: E for Everyone
Developer: Media Molecule
Platform: Playstation3
Price: $59.99
Release Date: October 27, 2008

If you’re looking for a fun game for adults, kids, or both, LittleBigPlanet for the Playstation 3 is a very safe bet. The new platform is certainly one of the most unique games of 2008 if not this entire gaming generation. How can you go wrong with a culturally diverse game starring little “sack people” in a world of marionettes narrated by Stephen Fry in the same humorous manner as he did the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

There’s not much to the “story” of the single-player game. You are your own sackperson, exploring the imaginary parts of LittleBigPlanet as you learn the ways of the game. Along the way, you may notice a bizarre looking creature ease-dropping on your fun or even sneaking away with one of your friends, but there isn’t much more to say about him until the very end.

The gameplay is very standard platforming. You run, jump, grab, move blocks, blow stuff up, and jump on bad guys to make them disappear. Even so, the game finds new and creative ways to implement the simple controls needed to move your Sackboy or Sackgirl around the world. There are only a handful or so “devices” used by the game but hundreds of variations on how they can be used. The first few levels walk you through the basics, but the game includes video tutorials and demos to teach you about all the possibilities, and even those contain some humorous jabs. I half-expected a bowl of petunias to fill from the sky at one point. Overall I found the game’s atmosphere to be very clever and one of the few games I found entertaining to learn the game.

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New ‘Transformers 2’ Images & Plot Details
The Movie God   |  @   |  

Transformers 2DreamWorks has released some brand new images from Michael Bay‘s uber-sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Both Empire and USA Today have the exclusive images which show everything from stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox running away from something unseen and surely horrifying, LaBeouf hanging on for dear life while cars fly through the air, and a pretty large looking explosion.

Not much is known of the plot so far, but apparently the sequel will see the Autobots joining up with the U.S. military to fight the Decepticons, who have invaded Earth after Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) discovers a very deep secret about the origins of the Transformers.

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DVD Review: Adult Swim Double Feature: ‘Robot Chicken’ S3 & ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ S6
BAADASSSSS!   |  

Robot Chicken, Vol. 3 and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Vol. 6Robot Chicken: Season 3
Release Date: October 7, 2008
Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Vol. 6
Release Date: December 16, 2008
Warner Home Entertainment

I love watching Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network’s brilliantly unhinged block of late night animation programming. It’s the greatest experiment in popular animation: the block functions practically like a laboratory where a multiplying group of mad scientists armed with art supplies, computer software, and a collective absurdist sense of humor are given free reign to let their deranged imaginations run riot. Sometimes this results in a messy explosion, but most of the time the results are wonders to behold. If that wasn’t enough the Adult Swim block has also served as a pet cemetery for resurrecting under-appreciated shows like Family Guy and Futurama and a prime hangout spot for shows that never had a chance in this life or the next, like The Oblongs and Clerks. Then there are shows like Sealab 2021 and Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law that took characters and concepts from the vintage Hanna-Barbera heyday of the 1960’s and 1970’s and completely turned them on their heads, which may seem like an act of blasphemy in the eyes of animation traditionalists but I dare you to question the genius of taking those boring and stolid superheroes and transforming them into mental patients and sexual deviants. That’s golden.

What’s more important is that they never fail to entertain you. The go-for-broke attitude that spread to everyone involved with the production of these shows after a while begins to get to you. If getting each episode produced is an extremely arduous task, it never seems that way because while you’re watching you’re laughing so hard or at least thinking to yourself several times during the show what the fuck was going on in their heads while they were putting this together, and you can’t imagine any member of the cast and crew getting through a writing or voiceover session without cracking up in laughter. It’s a joyous kind of lunacy that proves to be infectious time and again.

Now Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has issued the latest full season DVD sets for two of Adult Swim’s best shows.

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Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Rub   |  

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson
Rated PG-13
Release Date: December 25, 2008

Every movie made employs the use of some sort of gimmick. Some are smaller than others and they don’t always work but whether it is the cast, the special effects, or something else, every filmmaker uses some device that they hope will allow their movie to rise above their contemporaries. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the gimmick is the story. A baby is born with the appearance and all of the physical limitations of an old man who ages backwards through life. It’s really a fascinating premise that, beyond its initial intrigue, stirs a lot of questions. How would one operate under the construction of backwards aging? How would you let it shape your everyday life? On a deeper level, how would you deal with the inevitability of loss in your life that would be compounded by that very construction? It is in the film’s attempt to answer these questions that you will find its true appeal.

At first glance, this film seems like a fairly odd film choice for director David Fincher. The styles of his previous films were consistently dark and stylish, in story and design. So why would a director who made his name with films like Fight Club, Se7en, and Zodiac opt for a character-driven fairy tale? For starters, he is one of probably a handful of directors with the ability to handle the special effects needed to properly translate the required images to the screen while being able to balance them against the story. If the main device of the movie is the setup, then right behind it would be how the effects were handled. Technologically, the film is a masterpiece. Throughout the film we see Benjamin (Brad Pitt) at every point in his life, from grave to cradle. Almost every scene features Pitt at various ages other than his own and you are left with no choice other than to believe it — it is just that seamless. In an early scene you see a child’s body with the 80-year-old face of Brad Pitt and you believe it. It is obvious enough to notice but subtle enough for you not to care. It’s only after the film is over do you start to wonder how it was done. The greatest compliment I can give the film is never once are you taken out of the story because of the effects.

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Deal: ‘Call of Duty: World at War’ + Blu-ray Sale
Empress Eve   |  @   |  

CoDToday’s Gold Box deal of the day at Amazon is Call of Duty: World at War for Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 for only $34.98 (down 42% from it’s original price of $59.99). This price is also being listed for the video game deal of the day so this is a one-day-only price and quantities are limited.

In other deals, there’s a Blu-ray Sale where select titles, including newer releases like Wall-E, Prince Caspian, Sleeping Beauty, and I Am Legend, are reduced up to 50% (the aforementioned movies are all under $20 each).

Now this is one I’ve had my eye on since I got a Blu-ray player this Christmas: If you grab Amazon’s exclusive The Chronicles of Narnia Blu-ray Bundle you’ll get both The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian for only $31.99 (that’s 55% off the regular price of $70.98). I think I’m ordering this right now.

Here’s a few other sales going on right now:

Warner’s Ultimate Collector’s Editions: Reduced prices on box sets like Blade Runner Blu-ray ($66.99), Superman (all five movies, plus the Richard Donner cut of Superman II for $76.99), and I Am Legend Blu-ray ($38.49).

Buy One Get One Free TV on DVD: On select titles through January 14, buy one DVD and get one free on titles like Seinfeld and The Shield. I snagged TJ Hooker Seasons 1 & 2 combo, The Tick, Square Pegs, and VIP.

Great Deals on TV on DVD: Hit shows from the ’70s through today (for example, King of Queens, Hart to Hart, Mad About You)

50% Off TV on DVD: Half off select TV shows on DVD (for example, The Addams Family, Stargate SG-1, The Venture Bros.). Click on “All Titles” for more selections in movies. This sale is on til January 12, 2009.

DVD Blowout Sale: This includes movies as well as TV shows at a major discount (for example, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 2001 – A Space Odyssey, Caddyshack, 300, and much much more. This offer is only valid while supplies last, so check it out now.

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DVD Review: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Jack Bauerstein83   |  

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, Simon Helberg
Mutant Enemy Productions
Release Date: December 19, 2008

While most regular writers sat around and held up their picket signs during this year’s infamous writer’s strike, leave it to old fan favorite writer Joss Whedon to take action. Rather than just strike, he joined forces with his brothers Zack and Jed, along with Jed’s fiancee Maurissa Tancharoen, to create a musical that would be small and inexpensive yet look professionally done. The result is the musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, a surprise hit (to anyone but Whedon fans) now available on DVD exclusively from Amazon.

Originally shown in three webisodes for free, the film stars Neil Patrick Harris as Billy. Billy is an aspiring evildoer known as Dr. Horrible who dreams of one day joining the ranks of the Evil League of Evil. His only obstacle: The charismatic and cheesy Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Hammer foils his every evil plot and even takes the heart of Billy’s crush, Penny (Felicia Day). With nothing left to lose, Dr. Horrible is determined to take down Hammer for a spot on the League and proves that even villains, like heroes, are born in the face of personal loss.

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Movie Review: Valkyrie
The Rub   |  

Valkyrie
Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh
Rated PG-13
Release date: December 25, 2008

Fundamentally speaking, the appeal of Tom Cruise in the last few years doesn’t make any sense. Just as soon as he took Katie Holmes hostage and started parading her and her ‘too scared for escape’ look around the world, people seem to have become disinterested in anything he has to do professionally; or so they say. Sure he was great in Tropic Thunder, but I’m talking about the movies he has had to carry on his own. Everyone seems to talk a big game but with the exception of last year’s Lions for Lambs, you have to go all the way back to Magnolia, almost a decade ago, to find a film he starred in that didn’t gross at least $100M domestically. So much for disinterest. Maybe he just has mind control over all of us too.

Keep in mind, these aren’t secrets I am exposing for the first time, so why his pick for his latest project was a big budget WWII Hitler assassination movie is beyond comprehension. For a man so caught up on selling his image, it stands to reason that there would be better ways to spend his time. It ended up being much worse than it appeared on the surface. The release date for Valkyrie moved so many times nobody cared when it was really coming out and as soon as the trailers came out the backlash was already in full effect.

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