Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three More for the Blu-Ray Dossier

Gentle Reader, you know the drill by now. I likes the Blu-ray movies. I rate ‘em on a two tier system; story first and Jaw Dropping Blu-ray quality second. That’s the nuts and bolts of things so, that being said, here’s what I’ve been watching…

The Untouchables – Special Collector’s Edition, 3.8 Stars / 4 Stars. Brian De Palma captured a lightning in a bottle with a great cast and a taught story back in 1987. You’ve got Costner, Connery, Garcia and De Niro in roles that they were born to play. Blu-ray moments? Oh yeah, the whole Canadian set up is quite beautiful. Rent it. You’ll remember why you loved it the first time and you’ll see the joy of Blu-ray unfold before your eyes.

Robin Hood (2010), 4 Stars / 4 Stars. I went into this one with preconceived notions. I had read some pretty bad things and I brought that baggage alone with me for the ride. What can I say… I was wrong. I loved this version of Robin Hood. I think that the reason it didn’t really take off here Stateside is because the studio did not know how to market it correctly. This is ROBIN HOOD; it should not be plagued by poor advertising. Ridley Scott delivers and not just with putting Russell Crowe through his paces as the titular title character. This is a Robin Hood that I really want to see a ‘Part II’ for. Then there is the cast… Crowe does a wonderful job as Robin of the Hood but it’s the unexpected performances that really grab you. Max Von Sydow? Check. William Hurt? Check. Cate Blanchett? Check. Mark Strong? Check. This is a film that lays down the epic and I’m glad I was there to pick it up. As for Blu-ray quality, the White Cliffs of Dover look as menacing as they should and I liked the water scenes too. This is just a great version of a classic. Check it out for yourself.

Superman / Batman – Apocalypse, 3.5 Stars / 3 Stars. DC Showcase has produced a number of GREAT animated movies for some pretty ICONIC characters. They consistently deliver the goods. Superman / Batman – Apocalypse is no different. Expect to see Darkseid, Wonder Woman, Bats, Superman, Big Bartha and Super Girl at the tops of their games and if any of those names don’t ring a bell then you should rent this disc. You’ve got about 30 years of comic history dancing in front of you with crystal clear Blu-ray reproduction. It is a GOOD time to be a geek.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Blu-Ray Dossier Review Retrofit

NOTE: Please forgive all of the “I” and “Me” that you are about to read here. It all sounds so egocentric. I suppose that’s the nature of a blog or social media. Someone feels that they have an idea that they want to share and they just start typing. Well, this is my blog and I like to share my passion for story delivered via the Blu-ray format.

Now let's get down to business...

I review movies on Blu-ray. I try to separate the wheat from the chaff. I do this because I love fun cinema and I don’t wish there to be viewer remorse after plunking down whatever you paid to buy or rent said movin’ pictures Blu-ray disc. I rate on two factors: story and jaw dropping Blu-ray picture quality. Recently I’ve been doing some house cleaning here at Chicken Scratch, which included removing “My Favorite Coffee Houses” and putting up “Blu-Ray Dossier at a Glance”. While I stand by my ratings I gotta say that if I could turn back time there are a few films that I may have rated a bit differently – just a bit mind you. Here are some of the changes that would have been…

“Kick Ass” might get a 0.5 increase for story.

“9” would be reassigned a 2 Star / 3 Star rating.

“G.I. Joe” should be a 1.5 star movie for story.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” could be a 3.5 Star / 3.5 Star.

“Land of the lost” could easily be a 1.5 – 2 Star for story.

“Quantum of Solace” 3.5 Story / 4 Stars for Blu-ray quality.

“The Road” could easily be a 3 Star / 3 Star.

“Transformers – Rise of the Fallen” should really be a 1.5 for story.

"Zombieland" is about a 4 Star for story.

So there we have the delicate business of Monday morning quarterbacking my own reviews. As previously stated, I stand by my ratings but… if I was writing the above reviews right now, in the fullness of time, the ratings for the above films could have easily looked like these.

Please forgive me Gentle Reader. I will continue to strive for consistency but until then I just may have to hold my own feet in the fire from time to time.

‘Nuff said.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Five More for the Blu-Ray Dossier

Blu-rays - I watch ‘em, I rate ‘em. The first rating is on a 5 Star scale with 5 being best. The second is for the Jaw-Dropping Blu-ray quality and if the filmmakers used it to their ability or not. Some do, some don’t. It should also be noted that I’ve done a little housecleaning here at Chicken Scratch. I got rid of the “Favorite Coffee Houses” section (Too many of my favorites have been disappearing) and now there’s the Blu-Ray Dossier at a Glance section. The same rules apply. Now that this is out of the way, let’s get down to business…

Kick Ass: 3 Stars / 3 Stars. “Kick Ass” is a film that caters to the modern comic book geek audience. I happen to be one of those so I enjoyed the movie. I have never read the comics that inspired the film but it is written by a man by the name of Mark Millar. His “Ultimates” will be the blueprint for “The Avengers” movie coming out in 2010. The man knows how to tell a story and I am a fan of his work. It did not perform well at the box office. Perhaps this is an expectation issue with the audience. The general public has a preconceived notion as to what a “comic book movie” should be. When John Q Public saw “Kick Ass” I believe that they saw the comics industry for what it is and not so much what it was. In other words this was probably the first time they looked at a “sidekick” and considered the very real and present danger within that world of child endangerment. (That being said, Hit Girl is awesome.) This film will find its audience eventually.

Bounty Hunter: 1.5 Stars / 2 Stars. “Bounty Hunter” is a movie that you have seen dozens of times… chances are against your will. This is a chick flick – pure and simple… emphasis on the ‘simple’.

The Good, the Bad and the Weird: 4 Stars / 4 Stars. This is a gem of a picture. It is a subtitled, South Korean, Western that I fell in love with. The story takes place in 1940s era Manchuria and revolves around a hunt for a treasure map and the adventures and misadventures of the three main characters in search of said treasure; the good – a bounty hunter, the bad – a ruthless bandit and the weird – a thief. I found the images and cinematography stunning, which truly aid in the telling of this tale. Expect gun and knife fighting a-plenty; chases too. Hey, it’s a western after all. Ji-woon Kim (director / screenwriter) has a knack for inventing worlds that I would like to visit. Gentle Reader, if you are seeking an over the top entertainment western set in Manchuria experience I advise you to do the same.

Clash of the Titans: 2 Stars / 3 Stars. Before the movie started the trailer for the original “Clash of the Titans” graced our HDTV screen. I was expecting my girls to be into it. It was great back in the day and I had no doubt that they would dig it. These expectations were mugged when the girls started to giggle at the effects and the acting in the trailer. They are fans of “The Annoying Orange” (look it up on You Tube) and when the statue of Dianna’s head falls to the floor of the temple and the obvious projected image danced across it’s features I heard my youngest exclaim, “Hey Apple!” (Like I said, do a search on You Tube) All hope was lost. This newest version of “Clash of the Titans” has wonderful special effects but it just has no heart. It tries but it made me pine for Ray Harryhausen and his stop motion creatures. It made bank at the box office and I understand that there are plans for a “part II”. Here’s hopin’ that they can shoehorn Perseus into a better story this time around.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
: 3.5 Stars / 2 Stars. It was cute. It was funny. It made us laugh as a family. If your intention is to find a family film that will please everyone you really should give this one a try. The message of finding ones place in the world and being a better friend than you think you are get explored here – right on the first day of middle school. Beware the “Cheese Touch”!

See you at Blockbuster.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Ashes to Ashes, Vinyl to Vinyl

In my regular surfing duties I found an interesting new way to deal with the problem of what to do with ones remains after being cremated that caught my eye. I thought that this was unique and actually kind of cool. I don’t know abut you Gentle Reader but after I shuffle off this mortal coil I would like to think that any organ that I have not destroyed (admittedly this is a short list by now) could be harvested and given to someone who needs it on this side of Glory. After that I am seriously pulling for a Viking Funeral. I am not joking. Come on, a Viking Funeral is the BEST! Put my harvested carcass in the canoe that my Dad and I built, cover my corpse with plenty of fireworks and gasoline and shove me off – preferably into the ocean; Cape May would be perfect! Now instead of putting roses onto my coffin everyone in attendance would be given an arrow. After the Gospel is shared and I (or what’s left of me) get past the breakers the arrows are to be lit and fired at the boat. BOOM! After that I highly recommend a decent BBQ.

Trust me; it’s what I would have wanted. Look, I can’t speak for YOU, Gentle Reader; I’m just giving you a glimpse at my wishes.

Across the ages people have found interesting ways of interring their bodies and/or dispose of their earthly remains. Heck the Pharaohs had pyramids built to usher them into the afterlife, Gene Roddenberry (the father of my beloved Star Trek) launched his ashes into space to orbit the earth. There are people who go into cryogenic freezes and those whose ashes are pressed into diamonds. I’ve heard of people being interred inside their cars or with their pets but, quite frankly, most of that is boring. They still don’t make hearses with luggage racks; even in the 21st century. You just can’t take it with you and that’s ok, I’m one of those ‘Treasure in Heaven” types anyway.

But I digress… I tell you that to tell you this and I thought this was cool: Yup, that’s right; your earthly remains can now be pressed into vinyl. Now I ask you, Gentle Reader, how cool is that? As per the article: “The basic package costs £2,000 and comprises of the standard artwork along with up to 30 ash-flecked discs with whatever sounds you choose, lasting a maximum of 24 minutes.” 24 minutes! Hey depending on how much ash you make you could have up to 30 discs. Granted this service is only in England right now but, come on, with a service like this can we (citizens here Stateside) be all that far behind? I think not. Oh man, so what would you want to say or share?

I’ll have to give it some thought. Perhaps you will as well. Don’t worry our answers will not be graded. Right now I’m pulling for “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”, “The Passenger”, “That’s Life” and “It is Well with My Soul”.

What’s on your permanent record?

[BTW the picture is from the And Vinyl site ( and Wired brought the original article to my attention. All the other insanity is mine all mine.]