Jennifer Lawrence was closing in on a starring role in Oliver Stone‘s Savages — an adaptation of Don Winslow‘s novel of the same name, in which the polyamorous gal playmate of two pot-dealing buddies is kidnapped and held ransom by a drug cartel — but that fell apart when she got swept off to compete in The Hunger Games. Many names were in the mix to take over the role, but Blake Lively became the frontrunner. Now she’s confirmed for the film, and John Travolta and Uma Thurman are joining her for the ride. Learn more about the parts they’ll be playing after the break. Read More »

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Cool Stuff: Unused ‘Hanna’ Concept Posters

As much fun as it is to take a gander at the new movie posters being released every week, it’s often the case that a film’s best marketing material never makes it past the design stage, as studios tend to opt for simpler, more star-oriented imagery that’s more likely to generate interest in mass audiences. Case in point: These poster concepts for Hanna, which put to the shame the actual posters used to advertise the film. (Do we really need to see the sniper scope motif make its way into every ‘chase thriller’ movie poster?) Read More »

Disneyland is home to many celebrated attractions: pirates, haunted mansions, Indiana Jones, Michael Jackson in 3D, kid Jedi training, and so much more. Now it’s time to add mutants, webslinging and Norse gods to the mix. It’s still just talk at this stage, but with Marvel Studios now being a subsidiary of Disney, Marvel president Kevin Feige is excited about what sort of possibilities are available should they expand their presence to theme park rides and the like.

Check out what Feige had to say, and a whole slew of other superhero-related movie news, after the break. Read More »

In news that should surprise no one familiar with the actress’s personal background, Kate Beckinsale has been offered a central role in Live Free or Die Hard director Len Wiseman‘s remake/update of Total Recall. She’s allegedly up for the part of Lori, the wife to Colin Farrell‘s leading man Quaid. In Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 telling of the story (also based on the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) Lori was played by Sharon Stone, with Melina — the more predominant of the female leads, whom Quaid meets along his journey — played by Rachel Ticotin. (Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston, meanwhile, has been cast as the villain.) Read More »

This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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THE KING’S SPEECH
Approaching a story of monumental scope with charm and intimacy, The King’s Speech is a finely crafted crowd-pleaser that plays fast and loose with history but does so to convey a decidedly more human tale of finding one’s inner strength in order to be heard. There’s not a single surprising moment in the whole thing, as every element of the limply conventional narrative has been depicted in film on countless occasions — the movie of the week disorder, the reluctant leader, the unorthodox therapist/psychiatrist, etc. — but rarely have these humdrum plot mechanics been handled with such authority and wit. The acting is superb across the board, with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush marvelously portraying the “unexpected” friendship that blossoms between royalty and commoner. Their command of the screen brings a much welcome vitality to the film’s rather safe theatrics. Tom Hooper, meanwhile, refines his visually sumptuous period drama by presenting the material as accessibly as possible, employing any number of off-kilter camera angles, behind-the-back steadicam shots and fish-eye lenses to find that delicate balance between vulnerable and frigidly dignified. I wouldn’t say I was wowed by the film as many others seem to have been — and I’m a tad resentful that it won Best Picture over far superior efforts such as The Social Network, Black Swan and 127 Hours — but if you’re looking for a nice film to watch with the family, it’s a pretty good bet that The King’s Speech will comfortably satisfy that need.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Audio Commentary, Making Of Featurette, Deleted Scenes.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1
(Releases on Friday, April 15 — Blu-ray available as single-disc and Blu-ray+DVD+digital copy)
I’m still not convinced that the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise needed to be separated into two films, but perhaps that’s a discussion better reserved for Part 2. Is it fair to judge this as a standalone film, or should it be taken as only half of a whole (which in itself is only one seventh of an even greater whole)? Director David Yates seems to want it both ways, while also attempting to appease both hardcore fans of the books and more casual viewers of the movies. The effort is admirably ambitious, though not always successful, often servicing fans at the cost of narrative flow. I’ll hold off on casting any judgments on how the film fits into the grander story at play — something that could very easily make or break the film in retrospect — but as a continuation of what’s essentially evolved into a serialized big screen mini-series, this entry is as problematic as it is utterly compelling. As a devoted fan of the films, it’s fascinating to see how these characters (and actors) have grown and matured, and Yates does a tremendous job portraying the toll that these inherited responsibilities have taken on their relationships. Where the film falters is finding a satisfying way to properly set up and condense subplots from the book, leading to many awkward moments where characters and MacGuffins appear at random. I’m also terribly conflicted about the ending, because as much as I recognize the need to offer some sort of emotional climax, it doesn’t register as an organic progression, and is treated with such gravitas that it inadvertently undercuts a far more significant occurrence at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. Criticisms aside, I have to respect Yates for endeavoring a near impossible task and not losing sight of the characters and their journey amidst the commotion. There lies the strength of the film, and that’s exactly the way it should be.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Blu-ray – Includes a copy of the DVD and a digital copy of the film, as well as a sneak peek of an opening scene from the final film, a Maximum Movie Mode, Focus Points (“The Last Days of Privet Drive”, “Hagrid’s Motorbike”, “Amazing (or) Magical Tents!”, “Deatheaters attack Cafe”, “Creating Dobby and Kreacher”, “Godric’s Hollow”, “The Harry And Nagini Battle”, “The Frozen Lake”, “The Return of Griphook”), featurettes (“On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver and James”, “The Seven Harry’s”, “Dan, Rupert, and Emma’s Running Competition”, “Behind The Soundtrack”), and additional scenes.

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*Does not include single disc edition, which costs $16.99 at Best Buy and Amazon.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS
I Love You Phillip Morris is a rare breed. When it comes to true story tales of brilliant-minded men against the law, there are only so many forms we can expect to see those stories take on the big screen — as a historical crime drama perhaps, or an upbeat caper thriller — but Bad Santa writers Glenn Ficarra & John Requa saw the potential for something different for their directorial debut, and opted for a campy romantic comedy instead. Their decision paid off wonders. The film still suffers a tad from formula fatigue, but by finding the humor in the absurd, the predictably of the proceedings is effortlessly overcome by the pic’s sheer good-natured charm. Much of that credit is owed to Jim Carrey and the bright-eyed Ewan McGregor, who are a perfect fit for the film’s playfully innocent tone. The true highlight of the film though is the subversive, darkly comedic edge that its directors inject during opportune moments to offset the saccharine sweetness, providing the film an underlying notion of reality that’s both hilarious and smartly demonstrative of how our circumstances in life are all about the outlook with which we choose to perceive them.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Audio commentary with producer Andrew Lazar and writers/directors John Requa & Glenn Ficarra, and a “The Making of I Love You Phillip Morris” featurette.

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Pictured above: Sexual predator.

Last week I took a shot at dissecting the allegorical significance of Sucker Punch, in which a troubled girl fights to take back control of her sexuality at the hands of depraved men everywhere, and does so through elaborate song-and-dance action sequences. Where others seemed to get wrapped up in the potentially disconcerting message that the literal text was selling, I sought to examine what the subtext had intended to sell. And it’s with a similar goal in mind that I’ll now be ruining Labyrinth for you forever.

[Editor’s Note: This interpretation of the film is strictly that, and does not necessarily reflect the intended vision of the creator.] Read More »

This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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BLACK SWAN
Darren Aronofsky doesn’t want you to experience joy or happiness. He wants to devastate you. He wants to punish you as he does his characters, fully immersing you in every dreary facet of their world as it collapses around them. And he is really, really good at it. Aronofsky has always shown a fascination with the degeneration of the body and mind, finding its limits when tested against paranoia, addiction, disease and giant planks of wood covered in nails and barbed wire. It’s amusing then, that his most horrifying exercise in body horror would be a wildly operatic melodrama about ballet. In Black Swan, you are not treated as an observer to Natalie Portman’s physical and psychological torment; you are made to experience it through her. There is never a moment of rest. The more Portman strives for perfection, the more she feels as though she could break at any moment — and Aronofsky makes damn sure you feel it too. His goal, I can only imagine, was to force the audience into a perpetual state of exhaustive madness. Well, mission accomplished.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A “Metamorphosis: A Three-Part Series” feature. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as 3 additional features (“Behind the Curtain”, “Ten Years in the Making”, “Cast Profiles – Roles of a Lifetime”).

BEST DVD PRICE
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$16.99$14.99N/A
Amazon – $14.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
TargetBest BuyFry’s
$19.99$22.99$19.99
Amazon – $19.99

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