!!! Put The Bunny Back In The Box And Other Sayings Of Nicholas Cage,Only Known Living Vampire (Blu-Ray Reviews) !!!

Did Kate Beckinsale Have A Nose Job Or Have My Standards Lowered (Yep, She Had A Nose Job)???

I Love Motion Pictures (no huge secret on this site)! I love to watch them, I love to talk about them, and I love to read about them. Even the history of cinema fascinates me and I can't seem to get enough. I am amazed by the process that goes into the making of a film. From lighting to special effects, from cinematography to craft services, ever step of a film's journey draws me into that world. There is a large section of the population who cares which star is dating who and how long it will be before Lindsey Lohan gets arrested again (apparently not long), but for me that stuff is nothing compared to the hard work and dedication it takes to actually bring a film to movie screens. Actors will always be needed and some I want to see succeed (Downey Jr.), but, unbeknownst to some of them, they are only a small part of the glorious machine that makes fantasy a reality (and sometimes reality an over exaggeration of itself). Movies are an escape, movies are dreams made real, and we can leave our everyday lives behind to spend a little time in those places. Not every movie is good, but there is good in almost every movie (maybe not Ishtar). Someone on every production in Hollywood gives everything they have to a film because they know that they are blessed to be working in the industry. That being said, there are decisions made on films that make me say, "What?" This brings me to this weeks Blu-Ray reviews.

I hope to be able to bring you reviews of movies that have recently been released on Blu-Ray and give you an idea of whether it's worth a purchase or a pass. I will say up front, from a technical standpoint, I am wholly inadequate to give you an informed opinion. Like my father says, "I know just enough to be dangerous." Yes, I have an HD TV and a THX 7.1 surround home theater system, but the best I can do if you ask me how a movie sounds and looks on Blu-Ray is "good" or "bad". There are websites that do a much better job in reviewing the technical aspects of the discs and I will leave that up to them (check out the links at the end). So, for the purpose of these articles, I will try to tell you what I thought of the films themselves and maybe a little about the special features. Remember, that when it comes to movies, "good" and "bad" are relative terms. I always say, "like what you like, take nothing back." Oh, by the way, if you like Ishtar, more power to you (even though you're weird).

I got a chance to check out three movie on Blu-Ray this past week. I enjoyed all three to varying degrees, some more than others. Like I said earlier, some movies are great, some are good, some have good elements but poor choices, some are bad, and some are so bad, they're good (why yes, I am referring to you "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid"). No matter what you like, just make sure that you enjoy ever minute of it. Life's too short not to have fun.

Let's start with the eternal one himself, Nic Cage. The man has been in some bad films, there's no denying that. But Nicky is like that crazy uncle that comes over for Thanksgiving dinner, drinks too much, and proceeds to tell of the time he and two strippers were stranded on a desert island and they decided they needed to repopulate the species (the strippers weren't very bright), so he became the king of the tribe he fathered and they still live on the island today, oh, and they almost sacrificed him to the volcano gods (strangely, that sounds like the plot to a Nic Cage movie). So, I like the man. I can't help it, he makes me smile. I finally got to see "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence" and it definitely contains all sorts of Nic Cage crazy. I liked the first Ghost Rider (as opposed to all of you who didn't) and I felt that it was close to the comics and their tone. I had high hopes for the second one and while I will say that the visual aspect of "SoV" is good, several creative choices derail this version of the character. This is one of those reboots that's not a reboot (it makes no sense to me either). Nicky's back as old flame head but no one else from the original makes an appearance here. Mark Steven Johnson is gone as director and replaced by Neveldine and Taylor of the "Crank" franchise. The Crank films are flashy, stylized, and over the top (see where we're going here?) and the studio hoped they would bring the same thing to Ghost Rider. Unfortunately, for the viewer and comic lover, that is exactly what they did. This is what I'm talking about when I say bad decision making. You have to have the right directors for the right movies, because when you don't bad things happen. That craziness they brought to the Crank films is all wrong here. Johnny Blaze might be crazy but he's not a clown. Nic Cage does a fine job being Nic Cage, but I would rather see him be Ghost Rider. You would think that when Ghost Rider is on screen (and the effects are impressive to look at) it would be the highlight of the film. Here again, bad decisions rear their ugly head. There is a moment in the film where Ghost Rider grabs a bad guy by the back of the head and proceeds to perform the "Penance Stare" on him. The Marvel Database explains it like this, "When in close combat, the Ghost Rider locks eyes with his victim and makes him or her feel every pain that that individual has ever inflicted on anyone else innocent in their lifetime." Neveldine and/or Taylor fail to convey that to the audience and Ghost Rider just appears to be staring longingly into the baddie's eyes.

Ghost Rider: "Oh, I love you henchman (deep demonic voice)."

Henchman: "Oh, I love you too, Ghost Rider (high-pitched girly voice)."

That's exactly what it looks like. I want to see Ghost Rider taking villains out like the bad@$$ I know he is, not staring at them for fifteen minutes. This trend continues when Nic interrogates this dude for information latter in the film. He is doing the crazy, I can hardly contain what's inside me, bit and then rushes off to use the info he just got to locate this boy (who may or may not be Danny Ketch, the second Ghost Rider). Thus follows an extended sequence of Nicky riding his motorcycle and changing into Ghost Rider. Why? Why is this scene here? I already know he turns into the Ghost Rider (from the helpful cartoon that you had at the start of the film and the previous film), I don't need to spend twenty minutes seeing it happen again (see, bad decision making). Just get to the Rider kicking tail, that's what I want to see (and had already seen in the trailer). The visual effects are great and I love the look of the Rider here more than I did in the first movie, but come on, these movies are suppose to be fun not tedious. Don't get fancy, boys, it does the movie and us no favors. I would be perfectly happy if Fox would let the rights to Ghost Rider slip back to Marvel and maybe they can pull a Hulk makeover for the match head. The rest of the film is just kind of there, the only real standout is of course, the always fantastic Edris Elba. He is always extremely watchable and this is no exception. If you are a fan of Ghost Rider you may want to give this a rent, if you're not forget this movie exists and go on with your life. All Hail, the vampire king!!

Next up, "Underworld: Awakening" is the continuation of that particular franchise. I like these movies (guilty pleasure) and, of course, i'm in favor of any movie that shuns the "I'm in love with a sparkly vampire and a werewolf that runs around without a shirt on" crap. A war between vampires and werewolves is a fantasy that all horror lovers have had at one time or another (Universal even put the Wolf Man and Dracula in a movie together, in the 1940's). Are these movies high art? Of course not, they aren't directed by Scorsese after all. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy them for the craziness alone. Plus, Kate Beckinsale in skin tight black leather, need I say more? My only real question about the movie is a fairly obvious one. What world changing thing does Scott Speedman need to be doing that he can't show up on set for two days (that's all it would have taken) and collect a small "I don't want to be homeless" check? Does anyone know the answer to that one? Does anybody really care? It cost more to digitally insert his face on some other actor's body than they would have had to spend to film him outright (they also had to pay him for his likeness, so now we're just throwing money away). Why not just kill him off screen and move on? There I just had to get that out. Now I am better. Moving on. If you are a fan of the Underworld series or just like fun movies with hot women (Kate Beckinsale in skin tight leather, remember?), then this is right up your alley. Go have fun.

My last review is most certainly my favorite of the three. I had a good time with Underworld, but I was blown away by "Chronicle". Where did this movie come from? If you haven't seen it then I'm not going to spoil it here. The story is fairly straight forward. Kids find crazy artifact, kids get superpowers, kids do cool things, and kids deal with good and evil. Sounds like any comic book origin story you ever heard, right? Wrong, this is so much more. Box Office Mojo says that it was made for 12 million dollars. I'll repeat that, 12 million. I sit here in awe of the amazing things they accomplished in this film on such a small budget. This is one of those films that defies the conventional wisdom that the more money you spend on a film the better it will be. Sometimes it's about the filmmakers and the creative people behind a project that make a movie work. Great ideas and great execution trumps money any day of the week. It's still amazing the things that happen in this movie. You really need to see it. Josh Trank, the director, is already being talked about to reboot The Fantastic Four for Fox and is it any surprise that the writer is Max Landis, son of John. Turns out Max is pretty awesome as seen "here". From what I hear, there will be a sequel. I hope they don't screw it up by NOT BRINGING EVERYONE BACK (just a subtle hint, Hollywood executive types)!!! Oh, and Chronicle is a found footage movie (I almost forgot that fact because the film is so good, unlike most of those flicks). The gimmick here is so well done after a while you hardly notice it. That is a testament to great direction and great writing. I could not recommend this film more. If you don't own it you should.

The picture quality on all three films is great (even the found footage of Chronicle). The sound mixes are full and expansive. The extras are decent though not comprehensive. Still, two out of three ain't bad. If you want specs and in depth analysis check out the links at the bottom of the page. I'll be back later with more news and rumors so, "hang on back there!"

Todd "I got a panty on my head" B.

[High-Def Digest, Blu-ray.com, and DVDfile]

That's pretty convincing, wouldn't you say?

Nic Cage as Johnny Cage, for Josh!!

[Nic Cage as Everyone]