Three and a half stars
So Daniel Craig can boast about having the biggest box-office of any Bond to date, and Sam Mendes will probably sign up for another round of well-mixed mischief, but for all of Skyfall’s significant victories, it left some plot elements sadly underplayed. From a testosterone-drenched dynamic between former teammates to an attack on home turf, this Bond outing presented an opportunity for Bond lovers to get the emotional Bond backstory, but with too many tentacles radiating from the standard tyrant-seeking-world-power scenario, the rich veins of drama are left half-tapped and bleeding. Even the mesmerizing Javier Bardem proves incapable of transcending another bad haircut in the role of evildoer because the dialogue lacks depth and feels roundly adolescent. And then there’s the whole Judi Dench plotline, which should have led to endless Freudian booby traps — but they, too, are left on the floor in a pile of half-eaten scraps leftover from the big Bond feast. Still fun, but a lot of wasted potential makes for a bittersweet beast. Special features on the Blu-ray edition include Shooting Bond takeouts on everything from the titles to the end credits, Première footage, commentaries, trailer, DB5, Women, Locations and more.
Three and a half stars
This movie really should have been a standout given the vocal talents of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman power up the two protagonists, yet this Pixar-like effort from the Disney animation team feels a little too glossy, inside and out. The script focuses on Ralph, a videogame villain who wants to shake things up with a role change: He wants to be the hero for once. While transformation is always a noble endeavour, the whole plot feels too formulaic to bring any real emotion to the table — no matter how much gravitas Reilly evokes with his oafish hero. A movie that could have been a whole lot more than just another pretty graphics showcase, Wreck-It Ralph finds a whiff of soul — but not enough to free it from its plastic casing. Various editions include two and four-disc DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital copy combo packs, Bit-By-Bit (Creating the worlds of Wreck-It Ralph), alternative and deleted scenes, commentary from Rich Moore, Videogame commercials, Paperman short film, Disney Intermission with Gamer’s guide to Wreck-It Ralph.
Robot and Frank
According to my Oscar scorecard, Frank Langella should have been battling it out for best actor this year next to Daniel Day-Lewis because the veteran actor offered up one of the most poignant performances of the year in this unsuspecting comedy. Designed like a buddy movie, but with timely technological overtones, this movie from Jake Schreier tells the story of Frank (Langella), a cat burglar slowly succumbing to dementia. The movie opens with Frank robbing his own house, then segues into his two adult children discussing caregiver options. By the second act, Frank is sharing his home with Robot — a helper who can clean and cook, as well as aid and abet. With equal parts Odd Couple and 2001, Schreier creates an entirely new and entertaining model that feels futuristic — without losing a scrap of humanity. Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler and James Marsden co-star. Special features include commentary, Robot Poster Campaign gallery and more.
Three and a half stars
Sitcom stars don’t usually get second chances, so there is something altogether surprising about The Sessions — and it goes beyond the rebirth of Helen Hunt’s screen career. A period biopic based on a true story, The Sessions tells the tear-jerking tale of Mark O’Brien, a real life poet and polio survivor who lived and worked in Berkeley until his death in 1999. O’Brien was the subject of an Oscar-winning short film by Jessica Yu that dealt with the everyday struggles of living in an iron lung, but in Ben Lewin’s Sundance-winning feature drama starring John Hawkes, the viewer goes down a decidedly different narrative path. Taking its cues from Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the Vietnam drama Coming Home, The Sessions approaches a few taboos at once. The first is the discussion and depiction of disabled people engaging in sexual intercourse, the second is Helent Hunt’s breasts. Director Lewin handles both with a firm hand, ensuring the viewer never feels bashful as we break taboo and learn about life from a completely different perspective. Special features include John Hawkes as Mark O’Brien, Helent Hunt as the Sex Surrogate, The Women Who Loved Mark and deleted scenes.
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