New "Anchorman 2" Cut At Least 23% Funnier Review

I approach this review at a bit of a crossroads. Do I review Anchorman 2 as it exists on this awesome three disc set as the theatrical cut or do I dare explore the absurdity of the Super-Sized R-Rated Version? For those unfamiliar with the Adam McKay Ron Burgundy films, the actors often provide an insane amount of takes and dialogue options often with hilarious results. The original Anchorman film, for example, when released on DVD through Best Buy, included a wholly separate movie, comprised of sub-plots that were cut from the theatrical feature. It was pretty impressive. I decided to take a similar approach to one I’ve made in the past, and reviewed sections of the film at different cuts.

The results, predictably, were hysterical. Often, you’ll see a few of these takes used in commercials or in credits sequences, alternate takes, etc. One of the more obvious changes that many will remember from the trailer for the movie and the Super-Sized R-Rated Version includes a drastically different (and incredibly funny) take on Ron’s dinner with his girlfriend, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) and her family. The theatrical cut is incredibly racist as it is, but the Super-Sized R-Rated Version takes that to the next level. It’s probably the best example of how over-the-top the Super-Sized R-Rated Version is when compared to the original.

Apr
16
2014
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"Philomena" Is So Good, You'll Want To Pronounce Its Title Correctly Review

You think I should do a human interest story?

Of all the films nominated for Best Picture this year, Philomena (2013) is the only one I would describe as flawless. As a piece of old-fashioned human interest, unlikely to be confused for an "important" film, it was primarily seen as a showcase for Judi Dench. Thus, its nomination for Best Picture is rather strange which greater transparency in the voting process might have illuminated. Perhaps those voters saw a film that is tender, funny, terrifically produced and tells a true (and thus un-editable) story with a massive stutter step right in the middle that should have destroyed it. That it not only survives the 'twist', but then resolves its story to absolute satisfaction will be credited greatly to the performances and the charm of the true heroine, Philomena Lee. Maybe a little of it should go to Stephen Frears and screenwriters Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.

Apr
16
2014
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"Warrior Assassin" Slain By Its Mortal Enemy-Competence Review

He wants to kill every kung-fu fighter in the world.

Oh no. A martial arts movie that looks and sounds like a soap opera. Can a low budget film be overproduced? Funny you should ask, because the answer is, apparently, "Yes, yes it can." How did director Dou Xiao get no money for the camera equipment--it looks dreadfully cheesy--but still get a crane and horses? Warrior Assassin (2013) is the story of two kung-fu adherents who seek revenge on a common foe. Sounds interesting and might actually have been interesting if it wasn't the barest excuse to string together a line of relatively bland and aimless fight scenes. What is there to save this film from being a total waste of time? Irony.

Apr
16
2014
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"Inn Of The Sixth Happiness" Finds A Home On Blu-ray Review

Help? How can you help?

The single greatest aspect of the wide expansion and adoption of Blu-ray on home video is that underseen films like The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) are reborn for a new generation looking as good or better than they ever did in cinemas. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is an epic biography of Gladys Aylward (Ingrid Bergman) and her joyfully tenacious attraction to missionary work in China in the early half of the 20th century. While it is not a masterpiece, it is a thoroughly pleasant film that will appeal to many, whether fans of Bergman, historical epics, exotic travel, or plain old classics. Most plot summaries describe the long trek Gladys undertook to bring children out of harm's way, but there is a great deal more to it than that. It is a film like many others--South Pacific (1958), The King and I (1956), Dances with Wolves (1992), and maybe a little Doctor Zhivago (1965)--but it still has an identity and is well worth a look.

Apr
13
2014
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ScarJo's Latest Gets "Under The Skin" Review

At its best, Under The Skin plays like an episode of Nature, crying out for David Attenborough to narrate the action. The relationship of our alien protagonist (who is never named) to her environment is functionally that of an animal predator, largely bereft of moral dimension and taking interest only in what she perceives as prey. Like many predators, she presents a false front to lure her victims, taking the form of not merely a human, but Scarlett Johansson, both coming into her own and subverting her role as a sex icon. She is observed here outside of her natural habitat but perfectly in her element, tracked like a documentary subject in a style that could best be likened to cinema verite when it isn’t outright hallucinatory. And like moths to a flame, her prey comes to her, but as Skin is careful to point out, one underestimates both Johansson and her extraterrestrial monster at your own risk.

Apr
13
2014
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There Will Never Be Another "Bogart" Review

There is only one Humphrey Bogart. Fortunately, there some 86 Bogart films to relive time and again, transported to Hollywood’s Golden Age by one of the most intriguing, unconventional leading men the screen has ever seen. In a career that spanned three decades, he reached the top of any list of actors worth being on, taking more than a few of his films with him. Collected here, assembled from their individual releases, are four of the best from the “first film noir” to one of cinema’s greatest films, and into a new decade with a fast-talking exotic adventure pitting two of Hollywood’s titans against each other.

Apr
13
2014
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The Empress "Mademoiselle C" Has No Clothes Review

You have to love the camera.

If you know who Carine Roitfeld is, then you'll probably love her vanity project, Mademoisell C (2013). The film documents her brief self-employed period--between editor-in-chief at Vogue Paris and Global Fashion Director for Harpers Bazaar--publishing her own fashion book CR. Many documentaries are pieced together by some nameless technician, Mademoiselle C is directed (mostly) with taste and a particular vision by Fabien Constant (who has a number of other fashion-centric documentaries to his credit). To say "mostly" was generous. In terms of screen time, Mademoiselle C most often resembles yet another Bravo competition fashion show, i.e. pointless, ineloquent, and (whenever possible) name-dropping. But when Constant gets on with the well-accompanied montage, cinematographers Raphael Laski and Matt Elkind create something special, not out of place in a well-produced narrative film.

Apr
12
2014
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A Microbudget Vanquishes "Empire Of The Apes" Review

Pennsylvania is a huge state. Between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, is the same distance as from Philly to Boston, which crosses five states! And while the urban centers keep PA voting blue nationally, the local governments are a good slice of ol’ fashioned God and guns. This is the state of Romero, where zombies first walked, but it’s also a state with a lot of small, isolated towns that seem stuck in the past. In 1987, Mark and John Polonia made Splatter Farm, a direct-to-video release that launched their B-movie, cult company. Since then, they have churned out 32 films, to date. One of their most recent offerings, Empire of the Apes doesn’t disappoint…in absolutely disappointing you.

Apr
12
2014
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Too Bad There Wasn't A Story Hiding In These "Dead Shadows" Review

“Hey, zombies are in. Let’s make a movie about them. It’s guaranteed to be a hit, right?” Only if it’s good. Dead Shadows is a French import from first-timer David Cholewa, who cites his influences as everyone from Carpenter to Spielberg, and Lovecraft to comic book artist Paolo Eleuteri. Unfortunately, throwing out a myriad of legitimate names doesn’t necessarily imply legitimate skills. In an attempt to restore action-packed, ‘80s horror to France, Cholewa has churned out a special effects heavy bloodfest that lacks the one ingredient everyone from Carpenter to Lovecraft understood: story.

Apr
12
2014
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Dear God, Let This Be "The Last Mission" Review

If you, like me, missed the 2008 Jason Statham medieval action flick In the Name of the King (based on the Dungeon Siege video games) then you probably also missed its less “prestigious” 2011 sequel In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds. All of which to say, you probably were not holding out for the rumored threequel In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission starring Prison Break’s Dominic Purcell, which has finally been released on Blu-ray. Nevertheless, Uwe Boll’s tireless series continues to adapt this medieval video game series.

Apr
10
2014
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