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"qmlhcb" (Michigan)

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Widescreen) [Import]
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Daniel Radcliffe
Price: CDN$ 22.31
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Magical family entertainment, Nov. 17 2002
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone stays faithful to the popular book which inspired it (though sometimes a little too faithful), and creates a magical film that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Bringing the text of J.K. Rowling alive is an excellent cast and superbly designed set and props. Without any major changes or exclusions, fans of the books along with those un-read in the adventures of Harry Potter should enjoy this flick. The celluloid world authentically feels like the words Rowling wrote. Daniel Radcliffe is great as Potter, and the young actors playing Ron and Hermione are equally as astonishing. But it's the late Richard Harris who is most notable, perfectly cast as Dumbledore the headmaster. The wisdom in his eyes reflects the genius of the head wizard.
The one flaw this film has, however, is its straightforward adaptation. With hardly any changes made from the book, the film seems too rushed and crowded with characters and events. When adapting from a book, the movie should take scenes and characters that work in the transfer to the different medium, and change events or scenes that don't work. That which works in a book, doesn't necessarily work in a movie. Comparing this to Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, which came out at the same time and is another fantasy adaptation, it's easy to see that Potter wasn't quite as successful in the adaptation process as that movie, which knew what it had to change and delete in order to make it work on the big screen.
But despite that problem, this film still works as a whole. It's magical, beautiful and perfect for the whole family. Kids will love seeing their favorite characters come alive and see first hand the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Special Widescreen Extended Edition) (4 Discs)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Special Widescreen Extended Edition) (4 Discs)
DVD ~ Elijah Wood
Offered by TUNESUS
Price: CDN$ 13.25
38 used & new from CDN$ 1.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest DVD of all time!, Nov. 14 2002
In what has to be the greatest DVD box set ever produced for a single film, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition takes a great film and lovingly improves it to a phenomenal level of perfection.
Upon first viewing the theatrical version on it's opening day of release, I was immediately in love with the first film of this trilogy. The expertise and care in adapting the wonderful Tolkien book into film was amazing, producing one of the best adaptations of all time. It made me fall in love with movies all over again, like Star Wars did for me at a young age. After a few months of digesting it and seeing it repeatedly, I decided that it had to take top spot as my favorite film. Each time after viewing it, I couldn't bare to watch anything else for days since it would pale in comparison to Fellowship.
Well, I now found a film that squashes that theatrical version: The Extended Edition. The addition of 30 extra minutes is seamlessly woven back into the fabric of this masterpiece with a new orchestrated score. And the results are amazing. There are no big action scenes added, nothing that changes the plot, just simple character development that makes the world of Middle Earth come even more alive. The film's so authentic and detailed it seems like this place must exist somewhere on Earth.
Smaller characters such as Merry, Pippin, Legolas and Gimli are further fleshed out, and the inclusion of Frodo and Sam witnessing of a group of wood elves on their way to leave Middle Earth forever gives the film a stronger sense of melancholy. It proves early in this story that Middle Earth will not be the same ever again. Such small inclusions really pack an additional wallop in the audience's emotional involvement. So much so I can't imagine ever watching the theatrical version again.
What makes this so special is that often when an excellent film is expanded for the home video market, the added material is usually better left out. Longer versions of movies such as Star Wars, Apocalypse Now Redux and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (excluding the recent director's cut) only hurt the film. But this Fellowship edition provides the shinning example of how an extended version can be far and away superior to the original.
I rarely include discussion on special features in my reviews, but here I cannot avoid it. This DVD's special features surpasses anything ever done in the short history of DVD. There are hours and hours of additional viewing, exploring every step of the movie's creation. Everything from the history of J.R.R. Tolkien to post production is extensively covered here. The production of this trilogy is the most documented filmmaking experience in history, and the DVD takes full advantage of it. With almost 30 hours of extras, you'll feel like you were on set with director Peter Jackson for the four years that went into making The Fellowship of the Rings.
For anyone that enjoyed the theatrical version of Fellowship and those looking for an extensive study on what goes into making a major motion picture, this DVD is an absolute must-buy. You will not be disappointed. This gets my all-time highest recommendation.

The Killing Fields (Widescreen)
The Killing Fields (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Sam Waterston
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 131.22
9 used & new from CDN$ 27.65

4.0 out of 5 stars A horrific look at war in the Third World, Nov. 14 2002
The Killing Fields takes you into the horrific realm of the Third World country of Cambodia amidst war, and doesn't flinch any step of the way.
Based on the true story of New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterson) covering the battle with his native translator Pran (Haing S. Ngor), this film covers their friendship as they conduct investigative reporting while trying to avoid getting killed, at least until the reporter and his crew is sent home, minus Pran. The second half of the film follows the captive Pran trying to escape from his prison camp while Sydney helplessly awaits state side.
It seems this film stays true to real events, and it is convincingly portrayed by its actors, especially the nonprofessional actor Ngor, who won an academy award for his role as Pran. It is also beautifully photographed and shows the horrors of war first hand. But unfortunately the film has one major weakness: Lack of focus. You never really have a feel for where the movie is trying to take you. Of course, it's based on real events and that's how life often is, but the filmmakers could have made the film more cohesive and unified without distorting fact.
Despite this flaw, the film still manages to be an engaging and honest look at the atrocities of war. It especially hits home in the second half, sharing its glimpse into the brutal world of prison camps. Definitely worth your time for both its historical context as well as its horrific account of war in the Third World.

Changing Lanes (Bilingual)
Changing Lanes (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Ben Affleck
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 28.69
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly good film about modern morality, Nov. 6 2002
This review is from: Changing Lanes (Bilingual) (DVD)
Despite trailers portraying the movie as an action flick, Changing Lanes really is a morality story. How far would you go, who would you hurt, to save yourself?
Skillfully telling the story of an essentially good-at-heart lawyer (Ben Affleck) at the verge of becoming corrupt amidst an unsavory law firm, and the story of a father (Samuel L. Jackson) losing custody of this two sons, Changing Lanes presents the dark side that is present in everyone. This is a small story about how a minor car accident can escalate and bring out the worst in people. Everyoneï¿s been in similar situations, and that experience makes this film very personal.
Aside from the questions this film raises on morality, it remains unpredictable. Where is it going? How will it end? So many films follow a predictable storyline today, its refreshing to not know the outcome here.
Changing Lanes is a surprisingly good film, and while it may not be a masterpiece, it is an intelligent and thought-provoking film that will force you to contemplate your own moral identity.

Queen of the Damned (Widescreen) [Import]
Queen of the Damned (Widescreen) [Import]
DVD ~ Aaliyah
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 15.68
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a viewing, but it is no Interview with a Vampire, Nov. 3 2002
After hearing how bad Queen of the Damned was, I was somewhat surprised by how I enjoyed this film overall. It isn't in the same ballpark as the great Interview with a Vampire, but on its own it is worth it to watch.
Among the problems it has is the lack of character development for all the main characters, including, to a lesser extent, Lestat. As that vampire re-awakens to become a rock star, we never get a real good sense of who he is, and why he's "coming out of the coffin" and revealing himself as a vampire to the world, a big no-no. But he's got more characterization than the queen of the damned herself, as well as his sort-of love interest, who wants to become a vampire.
The pacing of the film also is off, I'm assuming because the plot is taken from a number of Anne Rice novels, not any one in particular. Though I never read them, I could feel the schizophrenia in the film and it made me wish they would have narrowed the plot down to one book.
But despite these major flaws, there is still a good deal to appreciate. The world it takes place has the right, spooky atmosphere a good vampire film is supposed to possess, much of the cinematography is visually exciting, and the queen herself, when the rage takes her, is quite an exciting sight.
Overall, this film has as many weakness as it does strengths, and it's unfortunate it's not better. But it's not as bad as many critics make it out to be. Worth at least one viewing, especially if you love vampires.

Scooby-Doo (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
Scooby-Doo (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
DVD ~ Matthew Lillard
Offered by vidco
Price: CDN$ 4.79
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Stick to the original cartoon, Nov. 3 2002
Scooby-Doo as a live action flick is an intriguing idea, and in many ways this film faithfully recreates the world of the 1960's cartoon. But overall, it made me want to turn it off and put in the original cartoon instead.
What this film does right is the sets, costuming and props. They all have to perfect mix of the cartoon and the real world. It really feels like the world of Scooby-Doo could exist somewhere. Also, the performance by Matthew Lillard as Shaggy is dead-on. He is perfect in the role. Also the voice of Scooby is dead-on as well, but unfortunately all the other actors are not quite the same.
Freddy Prinze's Fred is very much off. It didn't seem like him at all. Daphne was too quirky for her own good, and Velma's characterization was close, but no cigar. Perhaps most disappointing was the CGI Scooby, who was too cartoony next to the real actors. The lighting on the CGI was always too bright for conditions, and over-all provided a distraction.
The story also seemed to drag halfway through, like it was a plot for a half-hour cartoon stretched into a feature length film (which it basically is). It just seems like the stories of Scooby-Doo are better suited for short cartoons. The film could have avoided this, however, if it had given an origin story, telling how the crew of Mystery Inc. first got together.
This film is worth seeing for Lillard's awesome Shaggy performance, but otherwise stick to the original cartoon.

Nightmare on Elm Street (Widescreen/Full Screen)
Nightmare on Elm Street (Widescreen/Full Screen)
DVD ~ Heather Langenkamp
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 37.89
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.09

2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as everyone seems to say., Nov. 3 2002
The Nightmare on Elm Street, the film that introduced the pop icon Freddy Krueger, promises a frightening premise. What if a monster could only get you during your most vulnerable daily ritual of sleep? Unfortunately, like many slasher films of its time, it doesn't follow through.
Settling into this film, I was expecting something uniquely terrifying. After all, I've been seeing Nightmare on Elm Street placed on top ten lists of scary movies lately. What I got was a slasher film only slightly better then most. It still has the clichéd characters, poor dialogue and illogical plot that plagues the Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers stories in the movie world. But I suppose no one goes to see these films for their quality.
I was particularly annoyed by the parents in the film. During a string of teenager deaths, parents all seemed unsympathetic towards the surviving kids trying to emotionally recover. When one girl has two friends die in a period of a couple days, her boyfriend's parents think she is unreasonably upset and hang-up on her calls. Her mother is a drunk who locks her in the house, and her father uses her to try to catch the murderer. As if that isn't ludicrous enough, a police officer, hearing screams of terror next door, takes two minutes to decide that perhaps he should tell the chief something might possibly be wrong. There isn't one adult in this movie that is intelligent or considerate enough to stop and realize that the survivors might be hurting from their loss. Again, I know this film isn't meant to be realistic, but I'd appreciate some adults who at least had an inkling of believability.
But perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the movie was that Freddy didn't have as much screen time as he should have had. We see more adults criticizing their kids for grieving then we do the killer himself. He is rarely to be seen, popping up here and there in a few dreams. Even the ending was light on Freddy.
I guess I just was expecting something a little better then the standard slasher film here, and in a few ways, it was. For example, the film has an intriguing idea, a few frightening moments and Johnny Depp in his debut. But it just wasn't enough to overcome the usual pitfalls that infest this film to raise it much higher above the usual [stuff]. This can be a fun watch on the guilty pleasure level if you don't expect anything, but is otherwise dismissible. It's just too bad the great idea of dream-invading monster isn't done better, because the thought is terrifying. It's too bad the movie wasn't.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars The best family film of all time. A masterpiece!, Oct. 27 2002
So many "family films" are hokey, clichéd tripe, recycling the same ideas used countless times before. The end product, while something new and interesting for children, lacks any true enjoyment for film-savvy adults. But then there's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, a family film that both children and adults can embrace.
The story is a simple one of friendship, but one spanning light years. When Elliott meets a stranded alien, he takes it in under his roof secretly, building an incredible bond with the creature. Of course the synopsis sounds cheesy, but it's done with such grace, dignity and beauty by director Steven Spielberg that it transcends any hokey elements, becoming a completely believable and powerful film of love, friendship and family. Who said kids movies are just for kids.
I loved this film as a child, but hadn't seen it for many years until the DVD release. I figured it wouldn't be as magical as it was, like most movies I loved in my youth. But I was surprised at how I loved this movie even more as an adult, understanding more of the meaning behind the film. This is a movie that only improves with age, and one I know I will always love. To use a comment Spielberg made about another film, it uses the greatest special effect possible: emotion.
The recent update to the film, with added special effects and scenes does have some good new moments, but the CGI effects are distracting, and the Politically Correct moves by Spielberg to remove guns and the word "Terrorist" are unfortunate. Stick with the original for repeat viewings. All the magic is there, and will be for eternity.

Tora! Tora! Tora! (Widescreen Special Edition in THX)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (Widescreen Special Edition in THX)
DVD ~ Martin Balsam
Offered by PaperbackshopCA
Price: CDN$ 8.75
26 used & new from CDN$ 3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great factual account of Pearl Harbor... to a fault., Oct. 27 2002
There's no denying the grand effort that went into making this historical presentation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Taking accounts of both sides of the war equally, made respectively by both United States and Japanese production crews, Tora! Tora! Tora! is a great documentation of how the attack really occurred. Unlike the recent Pearl Harbor film, which tries to tell the historical story (with many flaws), a love story and a disaster story, Tora! Tora! Tora knows what is meant to be, and strictly follows the historical angle.
Unfortunately, this dedication to fact is the films major weakness. There are no real characterizations of any of the major roles, no central character the audience can connect with, either on the American or Japanese forces. This lack of a so called staring role (which both sides should have had) makes the film feel more like a documentary then a movie. What characters the film does center on are all flat and rather uninteresting. Not to mention poorly acted.
Despite this, the film provides a great understanding of how the attack really occurred, and gives a wonderful visual feast of the disaster. For 1970, when this film was released, the visual effects are outstanding. Definitely worth at least one viewing, more if you're a World War II buff.

Escanaba in Da Moonlight [Import]
Escanaba in Da Moonlight [Import]
DVD ~ Jeff Daniels
Price: CDN$ 10.87
13 used & new from CDN$ 7.35

4.0 out of 5 stars A laugh riot, especially if you live in deer hunting country, Oct. 27 2002
Escanaba in Da Moonlight is a hysterical film about the traditions of deer hunters, and one family's bizarre ordeal on the opening day of deer season.
The first film in actor/director Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose film company, which will make films exclusively in his home state of Michigan, Escanaba in Da Moonlight is a gem of a comedy. And while the humor will especially hit home for residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (The Superior state, as they call it), and those living in other "deer country" states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, this movie has plenty of laughs for everyone.
Centering on the Soady family on their annual cabin trip the first day of deer season, the film explores the trials and tribulations of the "buckless yupper," Reuben Soady, (Jeff Daniels).
Now, fair warning, this movie gets pretty bizarre. Among the occurrences the Soady family has on its day of hunting are UFO's, a government agent gone mental, possession and Native American superstitions.
But all the insanity leads to big laughs. And it doesn't let up until near the end, where the only flaw lies. The film crosses the line of becoming too sentimental, offering too much cheese. If Daniels toned it down a bit at the end, the film would have been perfect.
But the film is still a highly enjoyable look at the world of the "U.P." (The Upper Peninsula), and is worth multiple viewings. Make it a tradition to watch this on the opening day of deer season. It's well worth it.

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