Recently by Lorna Miller

Longmire: The Complete Fifth Season DVD Review: The Best Season to Date

Season Five continued the series' successful formula.
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Season Five of Longmire, which aired on Netflix, continued the successful formula of a twisting and turning season-long story arc along with intermittent original and intriguing cases for our beloved sheriff to solve. Starting off with a bang, Sherriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is recovering in the hospital after being shot by an unknown assailant and having no memory of what transpired. After he starts to remember what happened, he realizes his love interest Donna (Ally Walker) is missing. What started out as a search for his shooter has turned into a hunt to find her and unravel the mystery

Riverdale: The Complete First Season DVD Review: An Entertaining Guilty Pleasure

A provocative, creepy and sinister version of 90210 with a murder mystery thrown in.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided us with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are the writer's. Summer always meant new Archie comics. These were the only comic books I read growing up and I was addicted. My cousins and I would debate whether or not Archie should be with Betty or Veronica. I was always Team Betty. When I heard there was going to be a TV show based on the characters, I was all in. Riverdale is much darker and sexier than the comics but it is an entertaining teen drama.

Vision Quest Blu-ray Review: Wasn't Too Crazy For This

The soundtrack is definitely the highlight of the film
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Vision Quest is a movie that I have always been surprised that I haven’t seen, considering there were not many coming-of-age movies from the 1980s that I missed. The only thing I really knew about it going in, other than it starred Matthew Modine, was that it was Madonna’s first movie appearance and featured her hit “Crazy for You”. Lowden Swain (Matthew Modine) is a wrestler who has decided that in his senior year of high school he needs to compete against the state champion from their biggest rival. In order to do that, he must drop two weight classes.

2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Four

It is always with mixed emotions when I look at the schedule for the final day.
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The last day. It is always with mixed emotions when I look at the schedule for the final day. Film fatigue has fully set in but at the same time I am not ready for it be over. The day started with one of my favorites of the whole festival, Lured (1947) starring Lucille Ball as a dancer who gets enlisted by Scotland Yard to capture a serial killer. The film also stars George Sanders, Charles Cobine, George Zucco, and Boris Karloff. The "who dunnit?' part of the film is lacking, however, it is still a well-written story with interesting

2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Three

Saturday was originally scheduled to be another five-movie day but a lack of sleep and food set in.
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One of my most anticipated events was The Last Picture Show (1971) with director Peter Bogdanovich in attendance. While it was much more depressing than I expected, this coming-of-age story about a small town in Texas is a must-see. Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Ben Johnson, and Ellen Burstyn all give amazing performances; no matter which one was on screen, I was completely engrossed. Bogdanovich was one of the highlights of the festival. I could have listened to him talk for hours. Most interesting, was him describing how it was Orson Welles that convinced him to shoot the film

2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day One and Two

I ended day one with a Peter Lorre film so I figured why not start day two with him as well.
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Day One I was hoping to arrive in time to start the festival with the tribute to Robert Osborne but it wasn't meant to be. Instead, I arrived in time to grab a full meal, which I knew would be a rarity, before making my way to see my all-time favorite actors, William Powell in Love Crazy (1941). This was the tenth of fourteen films Powell made with Myrna Loy and was about a couple on the verge of divorce after a few mishaps and misunderstandings. In an effort to save the marriage, Powell fakes insanity, resulting in the shaving

My Most Anticipated at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

The Top 7 films at what will be my seventh time attending the festival.
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One of the things I look forward to most every year is the TCM Classic Film Festival. It is a special opportunity to see classic movies on the big screen. I always try to plan my schedule with a balance of movies I have never seen plus favorites that I have never seen on the big screen. The guest speakers always play a big part of my planning as well. This is list of films I am most excited to see although it is always subject to change based on hunger, distance between theaters, and level of tiredness. The recent

Book Review: Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur's Cookbook by Janice Poon

An extremely interesting read and even if you never cook anything from it, it is still a worthy purchase for Fannibals.
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Hannibal was one of the most beautiful yet disturbing shows I have ever seen. One of the most beautiful aspects of the show was Hannibal's food creations made from his victims. Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur's Cookbook was created by Janice Poon, the show's food stylist. The recipes offered in the cookbook are not for the novice chef. While being gorgeous, most are pretty complicated requiring patience and perhaps some cooking lessons.The cookbook is broken into the following chapters: "At Home with Hannibal", which offers tools and techniques; "Breakfast"; "Appetizers"; "Mains - Meat"; "Mains - Fish and Vegetarian"; "Soups; Salads and

Pete's Dragon (2016) Blu-ray Review: A Fine Film If You Simply Change the Name

I would recommend ignoring the title and viewing it as a completely new movie featuring a dragon.
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The original Pete's Dragon (1977) is one of my all-time favorite Disney films. When I heard a remake was in process, I couldn't wait to see it. Unfortunately, the people behind the new film had no idea what made the original so special. Rather than creating a new version of a beloved film, they ended up with something completely unconnected to the original. Five-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is on a road trip with his parents when, in an effort to avoid a deer, they crash the car. His parents are instantly killed and wolves force Pete into the woods where

Being Canadian DVD Review: Is Canada the Best Country in the World?

I hope anyone that watches it will gain a little more of an appreciation for this beautiful amazing country.
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People often tell me when my Canadian side is showing. This is a huge compliment as everyone seems to think of Canadians as the nicest people. Being Canadian delightfully tries to educate the world on the misconceptions about Canada, such as why Canadians are always saying sorry, while highlighting all of the things that do make the country great. Calgary native Rob Cohen decided it was time to answer some questions about his beloved homeland after moving to Hollywood to be a writer and seeing how uninformed people were on Canada. He starts his adventure in Nova Scotia and traveled

Longmire: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review: A Thought-provoking Western

I can't recommend it strongly enough.
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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer. When A&E cancelled Longmire, I was extremely disappointed, but that feeling was short lived when it was announced the series would continue onNetflix. This is one of the most underrated shows but thankfully Netflix believes in it and gave it a fifth season, which is dropping on September 23. It has been a long year between seasons, and I'm sure it will be worth the wait. Based on the novels written by

Marauders Blu-ray Review: A Bank Heist Movie Worth Watching

If the story had been tightened up a little bit, this movie would have gotten a lot more attention and been more successful.
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FBI agents Montgomery (Christopher Meloni) and Stockwell (Dave Bautista) are tasked with investigating a sophisticated group of bank robbers who got away with millions from the heist while killing a bank manager in the process. Due to the murder, they are forced to work with a local homicide unit lead by Detective Mims (Johnathon Schaech) in addition to taking on a rookie agent (Adrian Grenier). In the course of the investigation, they become suspicious of the bank president (Bruce Willis) whose younger brother was recently kidnapped and murdered. When a second robbery occurs involving another death, they begin to believe

11.22.63 Blu-ray Review: A Thoughtful Story about Relationships

This is not your typical Stephen King tale.
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How often do we wish we could go back in time and do things differently or make different decisions? Based on the bestselling novel by Stephen King, the eight-episode series 11.22.63, which originally aired on Hulu, takes on this idea and the resulting repercussions. Jake Epping (James Franco) is a high-school English teacher in the process of getting divorced. He also teaches adult-education classes in an effort to try and help people improve their lives, but learns with one of his students who he tries to assist with a promotion that he is powerless to make a real difference. His

Major Crimes: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review: The Series Found Its Groove

Season four was unique because the last five episodes followed one story arc.
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It took some time for me to stop comparing Major Crimes to The Closer. Kyra Sedgwick created an original character that was the basis for the success of the The Closer and the reason why it was not just another run-of-the-mill crime drama. The continuation of the series after she left with the re-titled Major Crimes initially didn't offer anything special other than a solid cast. Season four turned a corner and it has now found its own groove while proving to be hugely successful for TNT as its #2 ranked show. Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) leads an elite

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Four

Each year, I always wonder when they will run out of great films to fill the schedule and there was no shortage again this year.
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[Editor's Note: Lorna previously reviewed Day One and Two together, and Day Three.] Heading into the last day, I was already starting to feel sad that it was almost over. No matter how many movies I manage to fit in, it always goes too fast and I feel like it is never enough. The final day started with The Longest Yard (1974), which was another film I thought would be fun with a crowd. Burt Reynolds was supposed to be in attendance but regrettably cancelled before the festival began. Producer Al Ruddy provided his perspective on the making of the

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Three

Which film "still brings tears to [her] eyes"?
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[Editor's Note: Day One and Two has been previously reviewed.] I decided to sleep in to prepare for another big day ahead since there wasn’t anything that I really wanted to see in the 9am time slot. Additionally, I wanted to make absolutely sure that I got a good spot in line for Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) featuring Illeana Douglas interviewing director/co-writer Carl Reiner. I have seen Carl talk before but he is always a treat and was this time as well. I had never seen the film and it is one of the best I saw all

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day One and Two

Illustrations of why I love this festival.
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Each year as I am heading home from the TCM Classic Film Festival, I am sure that the next year couldn’t be any better and I am always proved wrong. My sixth year was no different and after 17 movies, I only wanted more. The festival was held over four days, mostly at locations on Hollywood Blvd, such as the Roosevelt Hotel, the TCL Chinese Theater, and the Egyptian Theater. There were frequently five films playing at any one time along with various interviews and presentations. This makes for a difficult decision-making process once the schedule is posted. Lines start

Book Review: The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series by Jesse McLean

This book perfectly captures what was special about the show and the beauty behind it.
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If you are going through withdrawal from the cancellation of the ingeniously gorgeous television show Hannibal created by Bryan Fuller, then The Art and Making of Hannibal by Jesse McLean is the book you have been waiting for. The television show was adapted from the Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon and is rooted in the developing relationship between Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) It is organized by the appropriately named chapters of "Aperitif," "Entree," "Main Course," "Sorbet," "Dessert," and "Digestif." The "Aperitif" is a foreword by Martha De Laurentiis, who produced the television series as well

Mr. Holmes Blu-ray Review: A Study in Relationships

Not a thrilling mystery, but a lovely tale about growing older.
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It is hard to believe that the fictional character Sherlock Homes first appeared in print in 1887. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created what would become one of the most well-known, iconic characters that is still intriguing to people today. Not only is he the basis for two current televisions shows in Elementary and Sherlock, but many films since he was originally introduced. One of the most unique tellings of this famous detective is Mr. Holmes. Based on Mitch Cullin's novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, it tells the story of Holmes seeking to solve his final case.At age 93,

Sleepy Hollow: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: A Spine-chilling Drama with Comic Relief

If you are looking for a quirky show that offers chills, laughs, and revolutionary lore, watch this show!
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When I first heard about the premise behind Sleepy Hollow. I had no interest in watching it as it sounded ridiculous. A couple of friends who have similar tastes to mine when it comes to television told me that I would love it. They were right. and I am now a huge fan that is thrilled it has been renewed for a third season. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), while on a mission in the colonial army for General Washington, encounters a headless horseman. During their battle, they kill each other simultaneously. Crane's wife, Katrina (Katia Winter), a powerful witch, casts

George Strait: The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium DVD Review

What makes this concert stand out is that you can feel how truly special it is for all involved.
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Growing up, I always dreaded when my mom would put on her country music. She warned me that when I got older I would change my tune, and she couldn't have been more right. One of her favorites for as long as I can remember has been George Strait. When he announced his farewell tour, I hoped to go but his continued popularity denied me tickets. At least I was able to get the next best thing with the DVD release of his tour finale. The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium features a star-studded line-up including Vince Gill,

The French Lieutenant's Woman Criterion Collection Review: Parallel Tales Rooted in Forbidden Passions

The dual roles played by Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons provide each of them the opportunity to portray desperation, longing, and tortured vulnerability.
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Based on the John Fowles novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman tells parallel tales rooted in forbidden passions and the complexity of human emotions.Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons play the central characters in both narratives. The foundational story is set in the Victorian-era where Charles (Irons) is an upper-class English gentleman engaged to Ernestina (Lynsey Baxter). Soon after their engagement, they see a woman, Sarah (Streep), at the end of a jetty in danger of being thrown into the water due to a storm that is brewing. When Charles makes efforts to go help Sarah, Ernestina stops him by explaining that

The Mentalist: The Seventh and Final Season DVD Review: Wrapping Up Loose Ends

The cast was a big reason I kept tuning into the series.
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The foundation of The Mentalist had been the mystery of the serial killer Red John, who was responsible for the murders of Patrick Jane's (Simon Baker) wife and daughter. Since this was ultimately resolved in the sixth season, the final season provided an opportunity to focus on the relationships and wrap up loose ends. With Red John now behind him, Jane continues his work with the FBI alongside agents Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and Kimball Cho (Tim Kang). Complicating matters on the job is the newly budding romance between Jane and Lisbon, especially when a case involves Erica Flynn (Morena
Shania: Still the One Live from Vegas captures the complete stage performance of Shania Twain from her two-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace that ended in December 2014. The 90-minute concert features 25 songs covering her biggest hits, country songs, and crossover favorites. I have always been a big fan of Shania with several of her CDs adorning my shelves but for some reason I've never considered seeing her live. Watching this has me very disappointed about that, especially missing this show in Las Vegas. The concert is visually stunning and would have been even better to experience

Wild (2014) Blu-ray Review: Embrace the Beauty

It is an inspiring, thought-provoking film, with every moment to be savored.
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The death of her mom Bobbi (Laura Dern), a divorce from her husband (Thomas Sadoski), and years of self-destructive choices cause Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) to rashly decide on a trek from the Mexican border to Canada. The audience sees flashbacks illustrating the painful memories that brought Cheryl to this drastic measure as she encounters people along the way that help her heal. Through the hike, which Strayed wrote about in her best-selling book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl is able to rediscover who she is, shed the past, and learn how to move

2015 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Three and Four

I look forward to this unique opportunity every year.
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Saturday morning, I opted to sleep in and miss The Man Who Would be King (1975) to see So Dear to My Heart (1948). Leonard Maltin introduced this film as one of his favorite Disney treasures that hasn't gotten enough attention. This was the beginning of Disney's foray into live action but RKO salesmen argued that they couldn't sell it without animation. Disney gave in and added it sporadically through the film. It feels awkward and doesn't add to the overall story about a boy (Bobby Driscoll) wanting to take his beloved pet black lamb to the state fair. The

2015 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day One and Two

This year was the best one I have attended.
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The 2015 Turner Classic Film Festival was the best one I have attended. The previous four festivals were fantastic but the mix of movies this year combined with the people in attendance made it truly special. I am never ready for it to be over when it ends and am already looking forward with hopeful anticipation that I'll be able to cover the seventh festival already promised for 2016. This year I was determined to make the most of the festival and arrived on Wednesday to attend a meet and greet with other fellow movie lovers poolside at the Roosevelt

My 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule (subject to change)

Each year it is harder to decide on what to see.
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With the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival a week away, I have started planning my schedule. Each year it is harder to decide on what to watch. I go in thinking I will stick with films I have not yet seen, but all-time favorites have a tendency to sneak onto my schedule. Below is my list of the top films I am most excited about and likely to attend (as of right now). Thursday: Too Late for Tears (1949): My festival will start off with my most sought after genre, film noir. I have never heard of the film but

Longmire: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: A Much Darker Season Unfolds

It offers something different than the many formulaic crime dramas these days.
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The third season of Longmire continued what had been previously established in the first two seasons as a strong crime drama rooted in deep and interesting characters. What was unique about this season is that it followed three fully developed storylines involving the main characters rather than just standalone murder mysteries, unfolding a complex interconnectedness between them. It is a much darker season as well with a strong undercurrent of evil that wove throughout. This drew me in further and resulted in a huge cliffhanger that left me anxious for the next season. A&E didn’t have as much faith and
Disney's 101 Dalmatians is narrated by Pongo (Rod Taylor), an adult male Dalmatian, and starts cleverly with him introducing us to his human pet, Roger. Both are bachelors and Pongo is trying to find them suitable mates. He spots a lovely female Dalmatian, Perdita (Cate Bauer), and her pet, Anita, walking in the park. He manages to orchestrate a meeting and both couples are married soon after. Fast-forward several months and Perdita is now about to give birth to puppies. This brings Cruella De Vil (voiced fabulously by Betty Lou Gerson), a long-time friend of Anita’s, into the picture. One

Alabama & Friends at the Ryman Review: Celebrating 40 Years

Highly entertaining from beginning to end.
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Alabama was formed in 1969 by cousins Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook. Over the course of their career, they became the greatest-selling country band of all time by selling over 75 million singles and albums. They peaked during the 1980s when they created 27 number-one hits. The band thought they were quitting for good and put on a farewell tour in 2003. They reunited in 2011 and have been going strong ever since. In celebration of their 40th anniversary, they recorded the tribute album Alabama & Friends and a concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium featuring Luke Bryan,

Divergent Blu-ray Combo Review: Shailene Woodley Has a Dauntless Task

The film stays faithful to the lessons and themes of the book, which are not just for young adults.
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Being a big fan of Veronica Roth's book series, I was thrilled to hear that Divergent was being made into a film. It suffers from being compared to the Hunger Games trilogy and admittedly, the first film isn't nearly as good. However, the overall themes and messages behind Divergent make it worth watching. In the future, society has been divided into five factions based on a persons aptitudes and values. The Dauntless are the brave, Amity focuses on being peaceful, Erudite is for the intelligent, Abnegation is the selfless, and, if honesty is your strong suit, then you are Candor.

Longmire: The Complete Second Season DVD Review: A Standout Show Worth Watching

Tensions slowly rise through the 13-episode season, leaving lives in balance and ensuing chaos.
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The second season of the popular A&E western crime drama Longmire continued the successful formula of interesting standalone cases along with the evolving development of the main characters. Based on Craig Johnson's best-selling western mystery series, the TV series plays like the unfolding of a novel. With each episode, layers are peeled away revealing complex characters forced to deal with the consequences of their actions. Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) struggles to come to terms with the murder of his wife but has re-committed to his job and is moving forward with the help of his new girlfriend Lizzie (Katherine

2014 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day Three and Four

Each year I seem to enjoy the this festival more and more.
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[Editor's Note: Lorna's coverage of Day One and Two can be found here.] Day Three Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) had me up and raring to go for Day Three. Anything starring Gary Cooper will always be at the top of my list. Factoring in Frank Capra as director, there was nothing else in this time slot that even challenged it. Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) is a simple man who enjoys writing greeting-card poetry and playing the tuba in his small town of Mandrake Falls, Vermont until he inherits $20 million from a long lost uncle. Upon the news,

2014 TCM Classic Film Festival Review: Day One and Two

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and was wanting more once it was over.
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The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival was my fourth and favorite. It may have been the festival programming or the movies I chose to watch, but I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and was wanting more once it was over. Day One After picking up my pass and surviving the chaos at the Welcome Party at Club TCM, I headed over to Hooters where I luckily secured a prime window seat to see the red-carpet action for the Oklahoma! opening gala. Several celebrities were in attendance such as Shirley Jones and Maureen O'Brien. My festival officially started with Cheaper by the

My Top Picks for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival

If I am lucky, I'll get into all seven.
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Each year when the schedule for the TCM Classic Film Festival is posted, I feel equal levels of excitement and stress. How will I ever decide? And why do they always put movies in the same slot that I really want to see? This year is no different. The schedule can be found at the Festival website and the following films are at the top of my list to see. Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) My festival viewing will start off with this sentimental selection since I have seen it several times but never on the big screen. Clifton Webb

Saving Mr. Banks Blu-ray Review: A Heartwarming Story

I have read several articles addressing all of the incorrect information in the movie, and I have no issues in enjoying the illusion.
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It is rare that I am interested in watching a movie a second time after a recent viewing. It is usually a few years before I am ready. Saving Mr. Banks is a rare exception to this rule because I was actually excited to see it again, and it proved to be even more delightful. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) is determined to fulfill a 20-year promise to his daughters by bringing their beloved character, Mary Poppins, to life. Author P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) has fought him all along but due to financial difficulties she is convinced to travel from

The Following: The Complete First Season Combo Pack Review: Dark and Truly Horrifying

For those that enjoy intense thrillers and being scared, the first season of The Following is not to be missed.
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For 15 weeks on Monday nights at 9 PM I was glued to the television to watch The Following. Since it was created by Kevin Williamson, who in my mind created one of the scariest and original modern horror movies with Scream, I was excited to check it out. Kevin Bacon on a weekly basis was the other main reason I tuned in. Neither of them disappointed with this terrifying psychological thriller. Former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is brought back from disability to help re-capture Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a serial killer Hardy was responsible for sending to

Big 25th Anniversary Combo Pack Review: A Splendidly Touching Film

It delivers lighthearted humor and noteworthy life lessons.
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Big is one of those movies that I thoroughly enjoyed when it was released but haven't seen or thought about it since. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, there is a new Blu-ray/DVD combo edition. Being 40 years old now as compared to 15 when it came out, I appreciate a lot more of the story's depth and thoughtfulness rather than just finding it funny and cute. Twelve-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) is a normal kid who enjoys spending time with his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) and playing on his computer. While at a carnival with his parents, Josh

Saturday at Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013

What I did this weekend.
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Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Stan Lee's Comikaze offers pop culture delights on a much smaller scale. I had hoped to have more success in attending some of the panels on Saturday since it has become such a difficult feat at San Diego Comic Con. Alas, no such luck. I attempted to start off with "Super-Heroines of Pop Culture," focusing on the challenges of creating female heroes in a male-dominated field but it had already started and the line was as far as I could see. "Voice-Nado" featuring voice talents in a Whose Line is it Anyways?-type improvisation

Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray Review: Monsters Get Scared Too

Meet the Monsters.
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Released in November 2001, Monsters, Inc. was the fourth feature-length feature film by Pixar Animation Studios. While it was a commercial and critical success, I didn't think it was as entertaining for adults when compared to the previous films. The inhabitants of the city Monstropolis rely on the screams of children as its source of power. Monsters, Inc. provides the city’s energy through its scream-processing factory. James P. “Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are the top scare team at the factory. Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi) is Sully’s rival determined to take over the top position. In

The Devil's Backbone Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: One of Guillermo del Toro's Most Personal Films

A somewhat traditional ghost story that offers surprises.
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Guillermo del Toro is one of the most interesting directors currently making films because of his unique vision and style. His 2001 feature The Devil's Backbone is a somewhat traditional ghost story that offers surprises. Dr. Casares (Federico Luppi) and principal Carmen (Marisa Paredes) run an orphanage for the children of the republican militia during the Spanish Civil War. Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is their latest ward. He thinks he is visiting with his tutor and is shocked to be left behind as he is unaware that his father has been killed in battle. After Carlos is assigned to the bed

Trance (2013) Blu-ray Review: Suspenseful and Surprising

It was a treat to see Danny Boyle return to this style of film and he didn't disappoint.
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Danny Boyle is one of the few directors who garners instance attention for any new film. His history of interesting and unique films is continued with Trance, a psychological thriller with twists and turns you won't see coming. Simon (James McAvoy) is involved in security for fine-art auctions. We quickly learn that due to his insider connections, he is behind a complicated heist of a $27 million painting with local gangster Franck (Vincent Cassel) and his gang of thugs. In order to escape, Franck is forced to hit Simon in the head with a shotgun. Once Franck gets away, he

Stoker Blu-ray Review: A Film to be Savored

“Stoker” is visually stunning and satisfied my desire for a suspenseful and thoughtful film.
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India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is a shy, isolated young girl devistated by the loss of her father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) to a strange and horrible accident. Her mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), is distant and selfish and does not provide any comfort. Richard's brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), shows up at the Stoker home after the funeral and offers to stay indefinitely. India never knew of his existence as he has spent his life traveling the world. Charlie evokes immediate fear in the head caretaker of the house, Mrs. McGarrick (Phyllis Somerville), who suddenly and mysterously disappears. India grows suspicious as she

Dark Skies (2013) Blu-ray Combo Pack Review: A Compelling Family Drama Undercut by Aliens

The film isn't super scary, but it does have a slow built of creepiness and intensity.
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I have never been a big fan of alien movies because they have never been particularily scary to me. More real life and tangible things are scarier; give me a psycho killer or a big shark and I am not sleeping. Little green men, on the other hand, are too far beyond reality. What is interesting about Dark Skies is that while the cause of the scares is aliens, the story is more about real-life happenings and what draws families together and pulls them apart. The Barrett family seem to be a normal suburban family dealing with everyday issues. Daniel

Longmire: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Complex Characters, Simple Police Work

A smart western series with dynamic characters in a unique setting.
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Based on best-selling author Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire western mystery novel series, Longmire is a fresh take on the crime drama. Since it was A&E's most-watched original series in the network's history, I was pleased to have the opportunity to get caught up on Season One right before the start of Season Two. Longmire (Robert Taylor) is struggling to get his life back together after the death of his wife a year earlier. As the sheriff of Absaroka County in Wyoming, he attempts to do this by throwing himself back into work. While solving a range of crimes, he must

My 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival Journal, Part Two

A weekend of bunnies, birds, and classic films.
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My Saturday started off with a bit of nostalgia at “Bugs Bunny's 75th Birthday Bash”. Film critic Leonard Maltin and animation historian Jerry Beck put together a collection of cartoons featuring his key rivals, such as Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam, along with showcasing the different directorial styles of Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, and Chuck Jones. Even though I have never been a big fan of Bugs Bunny, it was really fun to see some cartoons I had forgotten about as well as watching the crowd dance in their chairs to the iconic Looney Tunes opening song. My favorites were

My 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival Journal, Part One

What I saw the first two days at 2013's TCM Film Festival.
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As the fourth annual TCM Classic Film Festival was approaching, I was filled with anticiption as I made my top selections of films that I wanted to see. y next moment of anticpation was the schedule since lots of times movies I want to see conflict with each other. This year, I was able to see just about everything that I wanted to and the programmers did a wonderful job of picking a range of movies I have never seen or even heard of along with those that I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to see on the

What I Must See at the 2013 TCM Film Festival

A preview of my schedule for the upcoming TCM film festival.
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As spring approaches, one of the things I look forward to with high anticipation is the TCM Classic Film Festival. This year it returns to Hollywood Blvd. the weekend of April 25-28. Of the 40-plus films that have been announced, the following seven are, in no particular order, at the top of my list of must-sees. Airplane! (1980) This disaster-movie spoof written and directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker about the food poisoning of a flight crew and the subsequent chaos that ensued, blazed a path for film parodies. It has been several years since I have

Les Miserables (2012) Blu-ray Review: Bring This Home

Les Miz fans won't want to go one day more without it.
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Les Miserables was one of my most anticipated films of 2012. I have seen the stage musical numerous times and find deeper meaning and greater appreciation for the themes each time. The 1998 film version with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush was a tremendous disappointment; therefore, while my expectations were high for the new film, I was cautiously optimistic that they would be able to translate this tale on screen in a deserving fashion. Tom Hooper managed to bring it to the screen it a way that not only pays homage to what I have always loved about the musical

Lady Antebellum: Own the Night World Tour Blu-ray Review: Fans Need This Now

Behind-the-scenes footage combines with concert performance captures this popular band.
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Before watching this concert, I wouldn’t have called myself a great fan of Lady Antebellum, which is comprised of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood. I had “Need You Now,” considered the greatest-selling country single of all time, on my iPod but never considered buying an album or seeing them in concert. With prices what they are these days for tickets and with my seats getting further and further away from the artist, watching a concert on home video seems like a solid solution. Taken from their Own the Night world tour, their second as a headliner, the concert

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray Review: A Nostalgic Look Back at the '80s

Thirteen years later, it has endured as a fun, entertaining film.
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It's been many years since I'd seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and will admit that I haven’t missed it or had any interest in watching it again. I remember enjoying it when it first came out in 1989 and watched it several times over the next couple of years but didn’t like it enough to seek it out since. When the opportunity to review it came my way, I figured why not take this opportunity to revisit it and see if still holds up. I was pleasantly surprised that it does. In 2688, human society has reached utopian levels,

The Raven (2012) Blu-ray Review: Quoth the Reviewer, "Worth Watching"

For fans of murder mysteries and John Cusack.
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I love murder mysteries; given my choice of any genre, this is what I will pick every time. To get ready for Halloween, I was hoping The Raven would not only satisfy my desire for a good whodunit but provide some chills as well. Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) is a peculiar fellow who writes of the macabre in 19th century Baltimore, Maryland. Poe is struggling financially due to a period of writer’s block, has alienated himself socially due to his drinking, and is attempting to win the heart of Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), but is being thwarted by her

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel DVD Review: Well Worth a Visit

There are many wonderful aspects that make the film so successful.
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I admit that I loved The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel before I watched it. The preview brought me to tears and the cast had me in awe. I am happy to state that it lived up to my expectations; it made me laugh, cry, and at the end left me feeling joyful and hopeful. It is the type of film that makes you feel good and better off having watched it if you pay attention to the underlying lessons. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of retirees who, for varying reasons, decide to pack up their lives and

The Game (1997) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Fast-paced Thrill Ride

Emotionally and intellectually engaging while also being visually interesting.
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David Fincher is one of my all-time favorite directors. He instantly captured my attention with Se7en; I had never seen anything like it and was mesmerized by its darkness. The Game solidified what would be a continued devotion to this day to see anything he is involved with. This film is emotionally and intellectually engaging while also being visually interesting. There is an inherent darkness but yet it provides moments of real filmmaking beauty. I am thrilled that it is getting the appreciation it deserves by being given high-definition treatment by the Criterion Collection. Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is

You Only Live Twice Movie Review: All of the Charm, Action, and Womanizing You Expect

Though flawed on a number of fronts, the film still entertains.
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You Only Live Twice is the fifth film in the James Bond series. Released in 1967, it was intended to be Sean Connery's last time playing the character; George Lazenby was the next actor selected but after On Her Majesty's Secret Service he backed out of the contract. This provided the opportunity for Connery to return to the role in 1971 for Diamonds Are Forever. He also appeared in the Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again, which is not considered an unofficial James Bond film since it was made without the involvement of Eon Productions. Sean Connery set a

Shallow Grave (1994) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Exceptional Film

Everything comes together perfectly to make this film such a success.
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Danny Boyle's first film Shallow Grave is a disturbing and extreme examination of the consequences of one's actions. I love films and at times will see almost anything just for fun but when I see something exceptional I realize how much horrible stuff I waste my time on. Shallow Grave is one such exceptional film and it leaves me wanting to be more discerning. Tabloid journalist Alex (Ewan McGregor), accountant David (Christopher Eccleston), and doctor Juliet (Kerry Fox) are roommates that have somehow come together as close friends despite their vast differences. The trio are looking for a new boarder

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray Review: Impressive Disc But Lacks the Charm of the Previous Film

May satisfy if your expectations are kept to a minimum.
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The first Sherlock Holmes was fun, exciting, and unique. It far exceeded my expectations. A Game of Shadows doesn't have the charm of the original film and left me disappointed. A Game of Shadows starts off with a bombing in Germany that we come to realize is much more sinister than it appears. In connection with this bombing, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) follows his feisty love interest Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), which leads to the first big fight scene showcasing the unique direction of Guy Ritchie. Holmes prevails and is able to catch up with Irene just as a

Reporting on The 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day 3 and 4

The festival concludes as does my coverage.
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My longest day of the festival appropriately started with The Longest Day (1962), a star-studded World War II action film featuring John Wayne, Richard Burton, Red Buttons, Henry Fonda, and Robert Mitchum to name only a few. This is a film made for the big screen; it covers the D-Day Invasion from the U.S., British, French, and German perspectives. One of the more unique aspects is that the French and German characters speak in their native languages. It is slow at times, but powerful as well. Robert Osborne spoke with Robert Wagner after the screening and with the next film

Reporting on The 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day 1 and 2

Taking in the classics.
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The 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival returned to Hollywood from April 12th through April 15th for their third edition. I attended last year and after my wonderful limited two-day experience, I was determined to attend everyday this year and get to as many films as possible. I managed to see 15 films in slightly over 72 hours and had a blast in the process. My festival got off to a great start at a pre-party tweet-up at The Roosevelt Hotel. Strong drinks were flowing and great appetizers were offered. Aside from being able to indulge in these treats, it was

War Horse Combo Pack Review: Worth Watching Though Poorly Paced

At times, I was more interested in watching Spielberg talk about "War Horse" rather than watching it.
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While the title indicates that this is a war movie, it is much deeper than that. It is a film about courage, friendship, and loyalty among other concepts. Albert (Jeremy Irvine) is a young British man helping his parents with their farm. One day while in the fields he witnesses the birth of a thoroughbred horse and becomes enamored as he watches it grow. Later on Albert's father, Ted (Peter Mullan), gets caught up in a competition with his landlord at an auction and winds up buying the horse. Rose (Emily Watson), Albert's mother, is extremely upset since Ted was

Texas Killing Fields Blu-ray Review: Unimaginative and Disjointed

Just another procedural crime drama.
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I am always a little concerned when reviewing a film that I have never heard of that has already been released in theaters. Texas Killing Fields is one such film, originally released in theaters in October 2011, it is now available on Blu-ray. I took an interest in watching the film despite my concerns since I enjoy crime films and because of the cast. Unfortunately, I should have gone with my instincts. It is unimaginative, disjointed, and a sad waste of the actors' talents. Homicide detective Mike Souder (Sam Worthington) and his recently transferred partner from New York, Brian Heigh

In Time DVD Review: An Enthralling Science-Fiction Thriller

I really enjoyed this film.
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I am not sure what it is but I am willing to see anything these days featuring Justin Timberlake. He is charming, talented, attractive, and personable. I am also a fan of Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy, therefore, how could I resist In Time starring all three. Not only did the performances live up to my expectations, the film is exciting, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Set in the year 2161, genetic engineering has established set lifespans. Everyone stops aging at 25 and is given one year to live unless you are able to earn more time. Time has become the only

Real Steel Blu-ray Review: A Good Movie, A Great High-Definition Experience

A familiar story told well.
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When I saw the first preview for Real Steel, my reaction was the same as many: Rock'em Sock'em Robots brought to the big screen. I had no interest whatsoever. What eventually won me over is Hugh Jackman's likability and my desire to see Evangeline Lilly in anything since Lost. The movie is very predictable and sappy but it does have some tender moments and impressive action. In the year 2020, robots have replaced humans in the boxing ring. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is an ex-fighter who struggles to earn a living as he travels the country to enter his fighting

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974) Blu-ray Review: An Average Rankin Bass TV Special

I would rather watch Rudolph or my all-time favorite The Year Without a Santa Claus.
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Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass created many successful animated holiday specials, the best known being Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. A lesser-known special from 1974 is 'Twas the Night Before Christmas based on Clement Moore's famous 1823 poem. I recalled looking forward to this one every year along with all of the others but hadn't watched it in a really long time. Junctionville is a town in panic when their letters to Santa start coming back. The residents quickly learn that it is due to an anonymous letter printed in the town's newspaper claiming that he

The Help Blu-ray Review: Maids Air Dirty Laundry Anonymously

I can't recommend this film strongly enough.
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Written by Kathryn Stockett, The Help is a fiction novel released in 2009. It is currently ranked number seven on The New York Times best seller list at the time of this writing and has been on the list for 41 weeks. I read and loved the book after hearing rave reviews from many friends. The book was rich with interesting characters, many of whom were developed with a rare depth that I came to care about. Some characters I loved while others I hated. When I heard they were adapting the novel into a film, I was concerned about

Winnie the Pooh Combo Pack: A Wonderful Return to the Classic Characters

Geared more towards younger viewers but there are some clever moments for adults.
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Winnie the Pooh is the fifth animated theatrical release featuring Christopher Robin and the adorable creatures from the Hundred Acre Wood. The creators of the film used five stories from the original A.A. Milne works as their inspiration for this new tale. Winnie the Pooh is one of my all-time favorite Disney characters and I was hesitantly excited to see the new film. My hopes were that they would be able to recapture the charm and personalities from the early cartoons rather than the disappointment I had experienced from some of the most recent feature films with characters that didn't

Cedar Rapids The Super Awesome Edition Blu-ray Review: Neither Super nor Awesome

Great potential, but fails to deliver.
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Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a sheltered and naive small-town insurance agent who is given the chance to attend a convention in the big city of Cedar Rapids when his co-worker dies suddenly. Bill (Stephen Root), the insurance company owner, is hoping that Tim will be able to secure the agency the coveted two-diamond award for the fourth year in a row. Tim leaves his older girlfriend/ex-teacher (Sigourney Weaver) behind and embarks on an adventure that starts with him flying on airplane for the first time and results with him drinking, doing drugs, and many other things he would have

Four Weddings and a Funeral Blu-ray Review: Not a Run-of-the-Mill Romantic Comedy

While it remains a delightful film 17 years later, it doesn't reap much benefit from high definition.
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Four Weddings and a Funeral is a 1994 British romantic comedy that follows a group of friends as they attend the five events listed in the title. The film received critical acclaim along with winning several BAFTA awards and earning Hugh Grant the Golden Globe for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy. This film also started a successful relationship between writer Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant which lead to Notting Hill and Love Actually. Charles (Hugh Grant) is a perennial bachelor who believes in the lightning bolt of love and is searching for his soul mate. He meets Carrie (Andie

Honeymoon in Vegas Blu-ray Review: Enjoyable Movie but the Blu-ray Should Be Annulled

MGM craps out with this title due to poor video and no extras.
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Oh, I how I remember the days when Nicholas Cage made good movies. Honeymoon in Vegas was one of them. Originally released in 1992, it was nominated for two Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy. Jack Singer (Nicholas Cage) makes a promise to his dying mother that he will never get married. Several years later, his girlfriend Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is ready to call it quits unless he commits. Worried that he will lose her, he abruptly decides that they should fly to Las Vegas and tie the knot. Upon arrival at their hotel, Betsy is spotted

Limitless Blu-ray Review: The Film Reaches Its Potential

For fans of intelligent thrillers and those who think Bradley Cooper is hot.
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What would it be like to utilize 100% of your brain? This is the question posed in the film Limitless based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. I was expecting a fun thrill ride but was pleasantly surprised by the performances and depth of story. Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling writer. He is broke, about to get kicked out of his apartment, and has lost his girlfriend when he runs into Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), an ex brother-in-law. Vernon recognized instantly that Eddie is down on his luck and offers him a solution, a new drug

Kung Fu Panda Blu-ray Review: Captivating for Both Kids and Adults

Jack Black is the star of the show and doesn't disappoint.
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Po (Jack Black) dreams of being a kung fu master but being an overweight, uncoordinated panda makes working in his father's noodle restaurant seems more appropriate. One day the tortoise Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) has a vision that Tai Lung (Ian McShane), a kung fu master who went bad, will escape from prison so Oogway calls for a ceremony to select the Dragon Warrior, who legend says is to be a supreme kung fu master. The red panda Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) believes that one of the Furious Five [Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis

Tangled (2010) Blu-ray Review: Disney's Last Princess Movie Ends on a High Note

I can't recommend Tangled strongly enough.
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Comedy, romance and adventure, Disney delivers all three mightily in their 50th animated feature Tangled. In November 2010, Disney announced that they would no longer be making princess-based fairy tale animated features. I wasn't overly shocked by the news since there hasn't been a great princess movie in quite sometime, but was sad at the same time since The Little Mermaid and Beauty and The Beast are on the list of my favorites movies of all times. The Princess and the Frog was enjoyable while I was watching it, but I doubt it would ever warrant a second viewing. Tangled

Bambi Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review: The Prince of the Forest is Born

My thoughts wandered to all of the better films in the vast Disney archives, which are more interesting and entertaining.
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Based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, Walt Disney's Bambi was released in 1942 and is the company's fifth animated film. Although it is hard to for me criticize anything Disney-related, as I revisited Bambi, my thoughts wandered to all of the more entertaining films in their vast archives. The film starts with all of the forest animals gathering together for the birth of the new prince, a deer named Bambi. Thumper, an outspoken bunny rabbit, becomes Bambi's closest friend and introduces him to various elements of the forest while teaching him how to

You Again Blu-ray Review: Actions Have Consequences

A good message, but not well executed.
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I have often wondered why women are not as supportive of each other as they could be. We should be each other's strongest allies and always have our best interests at heart. More often than not, that is not the case. Women can be mean and competitive and usually it is directed at other women. You Again attempts to address these issues in a light-hearted and comical manner. While I appreciate examine this important subject matter, the movie fails due to a lack of focus, weak storylines, and a waste of the talented actresses doing the best they can with

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