Blu-ray/DVD Reviews

Category

Currently showing posts tagged Owen Wilson

  • Cars 3 (2017) Blu-ray Review

    Cars 3 (2017)

    Director: Brian Fee

    Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer, Bonnie Hunt & Kerry Washington

    Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Riding high as renowned champion for years, Cars 3 finds racing legend Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris) being pushed out of the limelight by a new generation of hotshot racers.  Recognizing times are a-changin’, McQueen teams with an enthusiastic trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo, Cristela), to prove he still has what it takes to go the distance.

    Reverting back to the bluegrass roots of its originator, Cars 3 comes full circle as Lightning McQueen, the once arrogant rookie turned lovable champ, becomes the aging pro to face his biggest and most emotional challenge yet.  Continuing to enjoy a successful winning streak and unanimous respect amongst his peers, McQueen and others of his breed are quickly sideswiped by a new crop of determined and technologically superior vehicles with their eyes on racing glory.  Rattled by the speed and cockiness of his new foe, Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer, The Lone Ranger), and the retirements of longtime pals, McQueen begins to feel his time may also be up after suffering a near fatal wreck.  Recovering in Radiator Springs and longing for guidance from his late mentor Doc Hudson, McQueen’s spirits are lifted by his Route 66 family and his determination renewed by new Rust-eze owner, Sterling (Nathan Fillion, Castle).  Teamed with spunky motivational trainer Cruz Ramirez, McQueen, through soul-searching and additional support from Doc Hudson’s mentor Smokey (Chris Cooper, The Muppets), navigates his way through the evolving world of racing while learning to see a future beyond just his own career.  

    Ditching the sillier espionage hijinks of its predecessor, Cars 3 is a leaps and bounds improvement, reverting the spotlight back onto Lightning McQueen in a tale that resonates with an aging audience who have grown much since happening upon Radiator Springs a decade ago.  While humor is in noticeably shorter supply with franchise mainstays such as, McQueen bestie Mater (Larry the Cable Guy, Jingle All the Way 2) surprisingly regulated to background decoration, the third installment recaptures the small-town charms and big city dreams that was sorely lacking in its internationally sprawling and mindlessly mundane sequel.  Taking over directorial duties from John Lasseter, longtime Pixar storyboard artist Brian Fee (Cars, WALL-E) paints a picturesque installment with photorealistic animation including, the most devastatingly heart wrenching sequence of the series and a tender core that reaffirms audiences deep-rooted love for these chatty cars.  Incorporating flashback sequences and previously recorded dialogue from Paul Newman as the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, Cars 3 is a lightning fast return to form for the series that, in its presumable last lap, whizzes past the finishing line as the best effort since its 2006 debut.

    Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Cars 3 with a pristine 1080p transfer, fitted in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio.  Sparkling from start to finish, the wide spectrum of unique car colors burst off the screen while finer details appearing in rust and asphalt boast equal levels of crisp quality.  Matching its glorious high-definition picture, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 excels during high-speed races and heart-pounding wrecks with dialogue exchanges rightly prioritized for ideal listening.  Sprawled across two discs, special features on Disc 1 include, an in-depth Audio Commentary with Director Brian Fee, Co-Producer Andrea Warren and Creative Director Jay Ward, Lou (6:43), Pixar’s latest short film about a schoolyard’s magical lost-and-found bin and Miss Fritter’s Racing Sckoool (5:40), an exclusive new mini-movie/commercial attracting cars on how to get their mojo back.  Furthermore, Ready for the Race (5:40) sits down with actual race car driver William Byron on his passion for the sport and Cruz Ramirez: The Yellow Car That Could (7:46) takes a deeper look into the evolution and vocal talent attached to Lightning McQueen’s new coach.  Lastly, Sneak Peeks at Disney Movie Rewards (0:20), Descendants 2 (0:32), Dolphins (1:16), Coco (1:37), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (1:34) and The Walt Disney Signature Collection (1:33) are also provided.  

    Meanwhile, Disc 2 kicks off with an extensive five-part Behind the Scenes featurette including, Generations: The Story of Cars 3 (11:20), Let’s. Get. Crazy (7:41), Cars to Die(cast) For (5:21), Legendary (11:22) and World’s Fastest Billboard (5:30) that explores the film’s tricky development, new and returning characters, the making of the toys based on the film and the many logos and faux brands implemented in the sequel.  Furthermore, Fly Throughs puts viewers in the driver seat for some of the film’s digital environments including, Thomasville (1:10), Florida International Speedway (0:37) and Rust-Eze Racing Center (0:56).  My First Car finds cast and crew participants discussing their very own first ride in A Green Car on the Red Carpet with Kerry Washington (1:53), Old Blue (1:21) and Still in the Family (2:16).  Also included, Deleted Scenes (26:17) with optional director introduction, Trailers featuring Crash - North American Teaser (0:56), Icon - North American Trailer (2:33), Theatrical Payoff - Japan Trailer (2:02), All New - International Teaser (0:31) and Rivalry - Global Trailer (2:10).  Finally, Promos for Cars D’Oeuvres (4:27) and Cars Reveals spotlighting the characters of Lightning McQueen (0:39), Cruz Ramirez (0:41) and Jackson Storm (0:39) close out the on-disc supplemental content while a DVD edition and Digital HD Code are also included.

    Speeding onto home video as Pixar’s next anticipated effort lights up theaters, Cars 3 is a true return to form for the franchise once thought to be left in the dust.  An endearing tale about the trials of aging gracefully, Lightning McQueen’s last lap is one that sends viewers off into the sunset with warm memories of the residents of Radiator Springs.  Unsurprisingly, Disney has once again ensured an extravagant audio and visual presentation while its bonus content covers considerable ground for fans of behind the scenes happenings.  

    RATING: 4/5

    Available November 7th from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Cars 3 can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Anaconda (1997) Blu-ray Review

    Anaconda (1997)
    Director: Luis Llosa
    Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson & Jon Voight
    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Headlined by an eclectic cast of newcomers, familiar faces and an Academy Award winner, Anaconda pits a team of Amazonian journeymen against the world’s largest and deadliest snake.  Earnest in its delivery, this slithering, suspense thriller grabs hold and will take your breath away.  Returning to Blu-ray, Mill Creek Entertainment invites you to dive into the depths with this creature feature.

    Anaconda centers on a documentary film crew traveling the Amazon in search of a mysterious ancient tribe.  Led by Anthropologist Steve Cale (Eric Stoltz) and Director Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez), the team encounter Paul Sarone (Jon Voight), a snake hunter who is saved from his sinking boat.  After an accident leaves Cale helpless, Sarone commandeers the expedition in search of a deadly anaconda snake, leading the film crew into a world of danger.  Ice Cube (Friday), Jonathan Hyde (Jumanji), Owen Wilson (Cars), Kari Wuhrer (Thinner) and Vincent Castellanos (Mulholland Drive) co-star.  

    MOVIE:
    Predating 1999’s Lake Placid and the barrage of “animals gone wild” films from SyFy, Anaconda chooses to favor suspense and scares over broad humor.  A box-office smash and childhood favorite, Anaconda relies on the Jaws formula pitting a group of civilians against a force of nature on his territory.  While, not quite the masterpiece Steven Spielberg’s 1975 opus was, Anaconda is still an entertaining romp best enjoyed for its sheer popcorn value.  Kicking off with a brief appearance by genre vet Danny Trejo (Machete), POV shots of the man-eating snake stalk its prey giving the film a slasher-esque vibe that runs throughout the film.  In order to avoid being eaten alive, Trejo offs himself segueing into a documentary crew embarking on an Amazonian journey in search of a tribe.  The cast of performers are all competent enough with Jennifer Lopez (Selena) appearing in arguably, her most tolerable role while, Jonathan Hyde (Titanic) and Ice Cube’s (Boyz n the Hood) chemistry is the root of most of the comic relief.  Academy Award winner Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy) serves as an odd casting choice for the Paraguayan snake hunter with a devious agenda.  Voight’s accent and groovy ponytail may be hokey, but adds a charm of cheese as the film’s antagonist.  Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris) appears in an early role as a sound man who meets a deadly fate after sucking face with the anaconda while, Eric Stoltz (Some Kind of Wonderful) is criminally underused following a wasp accident that benches him the majority of the runtime.

    Anaconda serves as a great reminder of how to effectively blend CG and practical effects.  Paling in comparison to today’s technology, the CG still holds up decently for such an early effort in computer effects of this size.  Far from perfect, Anaconda suffers from pacing issues making the viewer wait half the runtime before seeing the beast in all its glory.  The first act can be occasionally boring and a stretch to endure as our characters develop and Sarone’s motives are made clear.  As the snakes appearance becomes more frequent, the fun and suspense build leading to a finale at an abandoned outpost where after killing the deadly snake, another, even larger anaconda tries to make lunch of the remaining crew.  The inclusion of another snake so late in the game feels a bit contrived but well worth it just to see Voight swallowed whole then regurgitated.  Nostalgia aside, Anaconda has aged well and still manages to entertain regardless of its pacing miscalculations.  Boasting one of the most diverse casts to appear in a creature feature, Anaconda is worth curling up to if not taken too seriously.  
    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:
    Presented with a 1080p transfer sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Anaconda bears the same appearance as its original 2009 Blu-ray debut.  The film looks slightly soft with an occasional haze, most likely attributed to the fog found in many scenes.  Colors appear accurate, most noticeably in skin tones, but never really pop.  The lush greenery of the Amazon jungle never reaches its full potential while, black levels look a tad fuzzy at times.  Luckily, the transfer is blemish free with no noticeable scratches or other anomalies.  Overall, Anaconda sports a mediocre transfer that could have looked better but will suffice.
    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, Anaconda has a pleasant audio presentation with dialogue sounding clear and jungle noises relaying nice ambiance.  Composer Randy Edelman’s (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) score is a highlight with its usage of flutes enhancing the exotic landscape of the film.  More climatic sequences offer decent bass but feel somewhat restrained and could have benefitted from an additional boost.
    RATING: 4/5

    EXTRAS:

    None.

    RATING: -/5

    OVERALL:
    Critically panned and a rousing box-office success, Anaconda was a childhood staple that made you cringe at the sight of the massively long reptile.  Nearly 20 years after its release, Anaconda still retains its charm thanks in part to its divergent cast, lush shooting locations and intent to surprise and thrill.  The ashes of this Jennifer Lopez thrill ride would be collected and morphed into a franchise with cheaper budgets and David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider) in the driver’s seat.  The 1997 original still remains a worthwhile entry in the “animals attack” subgenre worth revisiting, warts and all.
    RATING: 3.5/5