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John Woodward

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The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Elijah Wood
Price: CDN$ 52.35
14 used & new from CDN$ 50.00

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely worth the upgrade, Aug. 4 2011
With so many (deserved) critical accolades heaped on this franchise the question is not 'is this set any good?' it's 'is it worth it?' The answer is, unequivocally, YES. I could rave about the new transfer along with everyone else (it's great) but, in practical terms, the films look much better. Upconverting was never a friend to the DVD releases, seeming to bring out the flaws as much as the detail. The Blu-Rays resolve that problem and (for the most part) make these films look like the visual masterpieces they were in the theatre.

All of the 'Appendices' of the DVD release are here, along with the Costa Botes 'Making of'' documentaries that were previously only available in the limited edition DVD sets. Grittier than the other extras, these feature-length documentaries offer a different perspective on the films and are a nice treat for the LotR fan who thinks they've seen everything.

Masterful as this set is, there are a few things people may quibble over. The films are each spread over two Blu-Rays, a necessary concession for the quality of the transfer but some people might find it annoying. The features are all presented in SD, though I personally don't think remastering them would've added much value. Finally, there's the infamous 'green tint' some people note on Fellowship; I can't see it, even when I look for it, but some people might feel differently.

Rumours persist about some mythical 'Extended-Extended Edition' of the films, containing even more deleted scenes and extras that have never seen the light of day. Personally, I call shenanigans on such talk but, even if you believe it, such a boxed won't see the light of day until well after The Hobbit Extended Editions have been released (2015 or later). Given that fact, there's no reason for a Lord of the Rings fan not to pick this set up.

The Incredible Hulk [Blu-ray]
The Incredible Hulk [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Edward Norton
Price: CDN$ 22.99
9 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Action Heavy Superhero Fun, May 27 2011
As every other review points out, this movie is nothing like Ang Lee's ill-conceived Hulk movie. This one is most certainly about 'Hulk Smash', and not 'Hulk Brood,' containing the finest action sequences of any Marvel movie. The final fight sequence, in which Hulk and Abomination tear through Harlem, is worth the cost of the disc alone. It's one of those scenes action fans will skip to when they're looking for a quick-fix. That isn't to say that this is just a big dumb action flick. Edward Norton does an excellent job as Bruce Banner, peaceful scientist and William Hurt and Tim Roth are only a few steps behind as the aging warmongers looking to exploit him.

In many ways, this could be described as The Incredible Hulk: The Series: The Movie as it captures the TV show's melancholy vibe and sees Bruce Banner constantly fleeing his enemies and his temper. Liv Tyler is somewhat underwhelming as Betty Ross but that doesn't do much to limit my enjoyment of this film.

Extras

Norton's battle with the studio over the final cut of this film was infamous and, having seen what was cut, I'll say that he has a point. I don't know if the deleted scenes would've made this a better movie but they're certainly worth watching. There's also a commentary track and some well-made making-of featurettes.

Presentation

The Blu-Ray format is pretty essential for a movie that relies so heavily on CGI. The transfer is top-drawer and your HD set will certainly earn it's keep, particularly during Hulk's first and last appearances.

Bottom Line

The plot and characterization are good (not great) but this movie's action sequences are where it shines. A treat for fans of the comic and tv series, the green goliath's second film film really deserves a bigger audience.

Iron Man 2 (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (Bilingual)
Iron Man 2 (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Offered by gamerudy
Price: CDN$ 29.95
15 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Iron Man's 2nd Best Movie, May 24 2011
This film suffers unfairly in comparison to its predecessor. Iron Man's second outing is certainly not as good as his first but the action scenes are still first rate and Tony's desire to go out in a blaze of self-destructive glory is an interesting starting point for the character. It's his journey back that leaves a bit to be desired. Efforts to tie Vanko's hatred of the Stark family into Tony's arc never really succeed and Mickey Rourke feels wasted in the role. Justin Hammer is also a big misstep as the secondary villain as he's just too ineffectual to seem threatening.

Given the shortcomings of the story, Downey's performance is forced to carry a lot more of the weight this time around, but it's up to the challenge. The bigger and better effects and action sequences also help and Marvel fans get plenty of nods to the wider universe to enjoy. It's all enough to make me forgive, but not ignore, the film's problems.

Extras

The feature length 'making of' is good but (as with most things) not as good as the one for the first movie. There's also very little here for those looking to learn more about the comics, which is a disappointment. Still, the set is jam-packed with extras and looks at the stunt work and digital/practical effects integration are a highlight. There's also a commentary by Favreau and a rather useless "SHIELD data vault" full of tidbits for the uber-fans.

Presentation

As expected, the transfer on 'Iron Man 2' is first rate. This is the perfect shiny showcase for your home theatre. The first film's attention to detail is in full force here and it definitely makes the blu-ray purchase worthwhile.

Bottom Line

The film suffers in comparison to its predecessor, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still a good movie. Those looking to have another fun adventure with Iron Man will find it well worth their time.

Iron Man (Ultimate 2-Disc Bilingual Edition) [Blu-ray]
Iron Man (Ultimate 2-Disc Bilingual Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Price: CDN$ 40.31
14 used & new from CDN$ 21.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun on Every Level, May 24 2011
'Fun' is the best word to describe Marvel Studios' first outing, although it's actually inadequate for a film of this quality. 'Iron Man' delivers all the slick action and wit you'd expect from a summer blockbuster, but it also features a tight plot, well-rounded characters and an outstanding performance by Robert Downey Jr. This is a movie that delivers entertainment first and foremost but never sacrifices storytelling in the name of spectacle.

Anyone wary of watching yet another superhero origin film need not be concerned; 'Iron Man' delivers a fresh take on the usual myth as a middle-aged Tony Stark realizes how he's wasted his life and embarks on a quest that's more about redemption than responsibility or revenge. This certainly isn't high drama, but Tony's journey breathes new life into this over-exposed genre and will satisfy comic book fans and newcomers alike

Extras

A feature-length 'Making Of' anchors a robust set of extras on this set and it's a cut above the usual quality, containing a lot of information with the cast and crew communicating a lot of enthusiasm for the material. There's a history of Iron Man in the comics that's nearly as good and some additional featurettes on the special effects and Downey's performance. The 'Hall of Armor' is kind of useless and the deleted and extended scenes were clearly better left out of the movie as they don't add much. The one omission is a commentary track but with so much information elsewhere it's kind of unnecessary.

Presentation

Movies like this are what Blu-Rays are made for as the film is stunning in 1080p. Beyond the great set-pieces and special effects there's a thorough attention to detail in every scene that really comes shining through on this disc.

Bottom Line

The best comparison I can make is with 'Raiders of the Lost Ark;' this is a movie that proudly proclaims itself a fun adventure without using that as an excuse to forget plot and characters. Fantastic extras and an excellent transfer make this disc a must own for anyone wanting a thoroughly enjoyable superhero flick.

Life  (original UK version) [Blu-ray]
Life (original UK version) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ David Attenborough
Offered by BEARDOS BAZAAR
Price: CDN$ 51.42
35 used & new from CDN$ 39.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!, March 29 2011
Planet Earth's 'sequel' proves itself a worthy successor to the greatest nature documentary ever filmed and one of the most visually stunning Blu Rays on the market. Whether you're into natural science or not this boxed set is a must own for anyone looking to show off their home theatre as it captures some of the most beautiful and surprising footage of our world that you'll ever see.

Life's virtues aren't limited to its visuals as it provides fascinating insight into the lengths various creatures go to in order to survive. Whether it's hunting, defense, mating, or child rearing, the stories (wonderfully narrated by David Attenborough) will keep you captivated throughout. The one criticism I'll offer is that the first episode feels a bit like filler as it reuses a lot of footage from the rest of the series, but with every disc so packed with fascinating content this is an easy sin to forgive.

Extras

Each episode is accompanied by the making of featurette that's smartly integrated before the closing credits. You can skip them and still feel like you've seen the whole show, but I highly recommend against it as the lengths the crew went to for some of this footage is as fascinating as the footage itself.

Presentation

Anyone claiming that this isn't the finest looking Blu Ray available needs to have their TV adjusted. The lessons learned on Planet Earth and three years of work have crafted the best looking set imaginable.

Bottom Line

Life is, effectively, a more polished version of Planet Earth that focuses exclusively on animal behavior. If you're familiar with the earlier set and didn't watch it just for the vistas then this purchase should be a no brainer. Even people who don't like documentaries need to give this set a shot. It's the finest piece of infotainment you can buy.

The Simpsons: Season 8 [DVD] (2006)
The Simpsons: Season 8 [DVD] (2006)
Offered by stephensstuff
Price: CDN$ 48.95
8 used & new from CDN$ 18.80

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of the Simpsons, March 29 2011
'Best' is a difficult term to apply when a series delivered such consistent excellence for so many years, but it sounds so much bolder than 'Personal Favourite.' The eighth season of The Simpsons represents the series at its most hilarious, smart and innovative. To those in doubt I'll point out that this is the season that gave us Hank Scorpio, Frank Grimes, Poochie, and Mr. Sparkle; Ned loses his house, Burns loses his fortune, and Skinner loses his virginity; Homer becomes a boxer, Bart works in a burlesque house, and Marge gets mobbed up' I could mention every episode here and not hit a bad one.

Family Guy fans should take note of the right way to be 'edgy' in 'Homer's Phobia.' Homosexuality was uncharted animation territory in '97 and the episode was consistently hilarious without being crass. This was also a delightfully meta-season with 'The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase,' 'The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie show," 'Brother From Another Series' and 'Homer's Enemy.' This season is the height of animated comedy.

Extras
The creators knock it out of the park again with this set as it's chalk full of deleted scenes, animatics, Easter eggs, etc. There are commentary tacks on every episode and they're good enough to recommend even to those who don't normally like commentaries. If you've ever sat around with your friends, riffing on a Simpsons episode you've all seen a hundred times then you know what to expect. It's a real pleasure to hear such conversation from people so funny and knowledgeable about the show.

Presentation
The transfer on every Simpsons season is excellent and this one is no exception. The animated menus offer some entertainment in their own right but never get in the way of your selections.

Bottom Line
Anyone who disputes the brilliance of The Simpsons needs to be hit over the head with this season. It really is the series at its absolute best and a must-own for fans and newcomers alike.

Trailer Park Boys: Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys
Trailer Park Boys: Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys
DVD ~ John Paul Tremblay
Price: CDN$ 6.49
26 used & new from CDN$ 2.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Goodbye for the Boys, March 29 2011
Fans should be pleased that this episode is finally out on DVD. Aired as a special one year after the season seven finale, "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys' is a vastly superior sendoff for the boys than the atrocious 2nd film. Some people may object to its undermining the feel good ending of the series, but most should appreciate the old school vibe as Lahey returns to being a credible antagonist and the boys pin all their hopes on an ill-advised crime.

This isn't the funniest episode of the series, but it's far from the worst. The characters all deliver the kind of humour we've come to expect, but that's a good thing for a farewell to the show. There aren't many new jokes here, but most of them land and a few, like Julian's new car, are inspired. The worst thing you could say about this episode is that it's unnecessary, but no one ever watched TPB for its serialized storytelling.

Extras
Short on both information and entertainment, the extras on this disc are a bit of a disappointment. There's a behind the scenes 'montage' that doesn't even qualify as a featurette, and collections of alternate takes and deleted scenes. None of these are really worth your time.

Presentation
This show was never one for flashy visuals. The episode is available on Blu Ray but that's utterly unnecessary as the DVD is a fine representation of what it has to offer. The extras are smartly set up as montages, a necessary format given how slight the content actually is.

Bottom Line
Anyone disappointed with Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day should really check this episode out as it's a far better sendoff for the boys. True to the characters and the world, "Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys" is more about revisiting old friends than seeing something new. Considering the price there's really no reason for fans not to pick this disk up, particularly if you missed it when it aired.

Pan's Labyrinth [Blu-ray] (Version française)
Pan's Labyrinth [Blu-ray] (Version française)
DVD ~ Ivana Baquero
Price: CDN$ 8.99
42 used & new from CDN$ 8.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant fairy tale for adults, March 10 2011
Far from the swords and sorcery that typify modern fantasy movies, Guillermo Del Toro's best work presents a fairy tale for modern audiences, complete with the darkness, mystery, and wonder that once typified that genre. The mystical realm is connected to the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a curious and willful young girl grappling with a monstrous stepfather. Themes of identity and obedience tie the two worlds together while the strong characters will keep you engaged throughout.

In another welcome departure from the norm, Del Toro's brilliant visuals are built (for the most part) on practical effects rather than CGI. Fanciful as all this is, be aware that it is also dark and often frightening. The violence is often gruesome (though it always serves the plot) and this movie is definitely not for young kids.

Extras
Guillermo Del Toro's commentary is the jewel of this set. The man has an incredible attention to detail and listening to him will make you aware of innumerable things you never noticed about the film while his obvious love of the material will keep you engaged throughout. The rest the extras do a good job exploring the practical effects and design process. The 'bonus view mode' recycles most of its material from the featurettes while the promotional material is (as usual) superfluous.

Presentation
Don't even consider getting this film on DVD. The Blu-Ray transfer is superb and the movie's visuals make 1080p completely worthwhile.

Bottom Line
Anyone looking for a mature fantasy story needs to check this film out while those looking for more family-friendly or action packed fare should take a pass. Solid extras and an excellent transfer make the Blu-Ray edition the one to own.

Angel: Season 1
Angel: Season 1
Price: CDN$ 9.88
22 used & new from CDN$ 9.88

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An awful start to an awesome show, March 10 2011
This review is from: Angel: Season 1 (DVD)
The first season of most shows involves a bit of trial and error, but Angel's beginning really seemed to be mostly error. Where Buffy seamlessly blended genres from the get-go, Angel outright changed genres from episode to episode, or even from scene to scene. The end result is jarring and leaves the characters and plotting feeling directionless. Most of the episodes are just plain bad and some, like 'She' and 'Eternity,' are unwatchable. The show eventually clicks in the final few episodes when Angel's mission becomes clarified as saving himself through others.

This season isn't a complete write off. The show found its voice in the final third of and started delivering some pretty good episodes. A few, like 'Five by Five' and 'Sanctuary,' even qualify as great, but they aren't enough to redeem the season as a whole. Hardcore fans should definitely see these episodes and may get something out of watching the series come together in the early days but newcomers and more casual viewers can take a pass.

Extras
Whedon and some of the other writers share their thoughts in four commentary tracks but even these aren't up to the usual Mutant Enemy standards; lots of long pauses and mere descriptions of what's happening on screen. The featurettes are a better, but certainly not essential viewing.

Presentation
Angel was a good looking show, and that comes through well on this set. Be warned that this season was shot and is presented in 4:3, not 16:9 like latter seasons.

Bottom Line
I love this show and therefore highly recommend that people skip ahead to season two. There are some important continuity elements in this season, but it's nothing that can't be found on internet recaps and the episodes just aren't entertaining enough to worry about spoilers. Given that only 1/3 of season one is worth watching, completists should wait until it's 66% off before purchasing.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning [Blu-ray]
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning [Blu-ray]
Price: CDN$ 8.00
24 used & new from CDN$ 3.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who likes their action mindless?, Feb. 24 2011
The plot is simplistic drivel, has a twist that's rather nonsensical, and is in no way related to the first film...' but that's not really why any of us watch this, is it? We watch it to see Tony Jaa doing things we didn't think were humanly possible. Anyone familiar with his work will appreciate this film as his most visceral, polished, epic, and astonishing to date. Anyone not familiar should consider whether they're interested in seeing the heir-apparent to Jet Li.

The set pieces are more elaborate than anything Jaa's done before, and some people might miss the grittiness of his early work. The fights are all still outstanding, but there's more of a focus on elaborate choreography than on straightforward brutality, which you prefer is really just a matter of taste. One final selling point: believe the cover art, there is a fight scene on top of a freakin' elephant!

Extras
There are plenty of extras here, but I honestly couldn't get passed the subtitles. I've got no problem with foreign language films, but the material in these featurettes just isn't compelling enough to make me want to read through it. There's certainly a lot here for martial arts buffs, but you'll need to be really into it if you're going to devote the necessary attention.

Presentation
This movie looks great on Blu-Ray, although I'm not sure how much of a gain that is. The action here about fists and feet, not slick special effects. The DVD is probably sufficient.

Bottom Line
Martial arts fans are sure to enjoy Tony Jaa's finest outing, but those looking for more from this disk may want to pass. The extras are certainly robust, though the subtitles make them less accessible. The plot leaves a lot to be desired, but if you just want to see some outstanding stunts and incredible fight choreography then this is definitely the film for you.

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