Blu Monday: The Gift Card Edition

Over all the holiday festivities, the Blu-rays were just piling up on us. So, we call this week’s Blu Monday the Gift Card Edition because we know everyone is now sitting on a few gift cards and you might not know what to put that card toward. Here is a list of movies that you should either steer clear of, or go running toward. What we cover this week: The A-Team, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Futurama Volume 5, Step Up 3, Cyrus, Resident Evil: Afterlife and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

The A-Team on Blu-ray

The A-Team is just as you would expect on Blu-ray, this action packed film was a surprise to me over the summer. While staying true to the source material the film gave a modern twist to the A-team. The story, while nothing special, does just what it needs to: fills the space between action scenes. This is where the Blu-ray shines with 5.1 DTS audio and crisp 1080p picture. The sound is a real wall-shaker and definitely something worth showing to your friends. The Blu-ray has options for viewing the theatrical version or an extended version of the film. The extended version adds another 16 minutes to the film, it’s not necessary and while its interesting to see new scenes you can see why they were omitted from the film. The extended version is worth a watch but not good enough to give it a second viewing when compared to the theatrical version. The theatrical version includes a visual commentary with Joe Carnahan. I’m a big fan of these visual commentaries, while its fun to hear the cast and crew chuckle about moments they had while making the film, it’s always fun to have a video to go with it.  The pop up icons make it easy to hop in an out of the film and see specs on weapons and a more detailed look at the plans, making the special features more interactive.

The Blu-ray also includes six deleted scenes and a gag reel, nothing too special here, worth a look but not good enough to check it out again. The “A-Team Mash-Up Montage” just ended up being an action highlight reel so, if all the talking in the film is getting in the way of your enjoyment of the film then this special feature is for you. Over all The A-Team is an upstanding Blu-ray and I would suggest seeing the film, I just don’t think its worth adding to your collection. I’m giving The A-Team a RENT IT.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Five on DVD

Relive all the emotional drama of The Secret Life of the American Teenager as the critically acclaimed series reaches new heights in its unforgettable Fifth Volume. I don’t know how this show became “critically acclaimed” because I would rate this as soap opera trash for teens. Let me rephrase that last part, it’s targeted towards teens, however, no teen should be allowed to watch this foolishness. The show stars Amy (Shailene Woodley) who had a baby with Ricky (Daren Kagasoff) due to a one time fling and she is raising the baby with help from Ricky but also dating Ben(Kenny Baumann). Ben doesn’t like that Amy won’t put out for her (hello! Do you know what happened the last time she did that?) so he looks elsewhere for some “love” and ends up getting Adrian Lee (Francia Raisa) pregnant. Now she is trying to decide if she will keep the baby or not. So now that I’ve laid out the premise of the show, I think there is enough reason to just call BURN IT, but I have not fully evaluated it yet, so you have to wait.

The episodic show could easily become addictive and gather a following, however, the message is just not there. This idea of teen pregnancy and the problems that arise from it could get parents on the show’s side for prevention measures, but the show seems to tell the story that any two people can parent a child together being friends just as well as two people that are in love no matter what their age. Besides the show’s content being terrible, the acting is just as bad. There are a few acceptable ones such as Molly Ringwald on the show, but she is the parent and not the focus of the show.

The special features include interviews with the cast, including star Shailene Woodley. Other features are On Set with Director Anson Williams, On Set Fist Bumps with Joey and Matthew, On Set with Shailene, and On Set with Luke. As you can see from the titles, all the features are basically the same. They are just fun little clips that cater to the kids watching them that let them see just how much fun it is to work in Hollywood, which then solidifies their beliefs that this is the career they must all strive for now. Even as a fan of the show, these are not rewatchable. So now that I have fully investigated the three disc set and all it’s glory I can say with full confidence what I thought all along. The funniest thing I realized is that the show’s name is an oxymoron as nothing in these teen’s lives is even remotely secret. BURN IT.

Futurama: volume 5 on DVD

Greg took on the task of summarizing the multitude of special features available on the DVD release of the newest season of Futurama. The series is back on air with new episodes for the first time in over half a decade (their four full-length epics aside), but the creators did not skip a beat in getting back into the rhythm the first four seasons built up. Some of the special features, such as the series-spanning music video “Bend It Like Bender,” the hit-or-miss deleted scenes, and the series of ‘previously on Futurama‘ clips from the epics are throwaway material to anyone but super fans, but all 13 episodes from the season are available with audio commentary from select cast and crew, giving details and anecdotes to the episodes to which they are assigned.

An interesting watch is the inclusion of an audio track from a live table read of one of the episodes, synced with a black and white storyboard of the episode, the cast is heard laughing uncontrollably throughout the reading, clearly enjoying what they are a part of. The special features are rounded out with an animated comic narrated by Philip J. Fry (voice of Billy West) and a live action, behind the scenes video of the work that the voice actor put into co-writing a rock song for one of the episodes, even though it was only heard for a matter of seconds. Futurama is one of the better animated series to air in the last decade, and anyone who is a fan of the show and owns previous seasons will want to BUY IT.

Step Up 3 on Blu-ray

I didn’t see Step Up in theatres when it was in 3D, however, I heard it looked good, even though it was highly cliche. All of the expected jumps and jabs you could imagine plus dancing! What more could a girl ask for? Perhaps a plot. The story it claims to lay out is a tight-knit group of New York City street dancers, including Luke (Malambri) and Natalie (Vinson), team up with NYU freshman Moose (Sevani), and find themselves pitted against the world’s best hip hop dancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever. What makes this story even more epic is that this tight knit group just happens to call themselves House of Pirates. Where as their evil nemesis that they must battle to save the human race, err, win the competition against calls themselves The House of Ninjas. How do you not want to buy this now? Well, because the acting is terrible and the story is absolutely laughable.

I have to give them a little bit of credit on the acting, they do have to cast dancers first before they can act. It is rather annoying, however, that they all have to be the most perfect looking cliches of the high school clicks all bound together by the love of dance.  And this overarching feeling that all three Step Up movies have had that if you believe in your ability to dance, you can forgo having to get a real education that will lead to a boring job and instead, travel the world with your love of dance that will bring world peace.

Enough about the plot being what it is though, plenty of people will enjoy this flick because of the very unique dance sequences throughout. Even I can admit that I was intrigued by what the human body is now capable of performing, aka, the robot. As for the special features, there are different ones on each disc. This is a Combo pack which includes the Blu-ray plus a DVD. The DVD’s special features include: Extra Movies – a music montage featuring the dancers with alternate angles and extra footage, Making of the Music Videos, Music Videos, which include a plethora of songs such as “Irresistible” by Wisin y Yandel and “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida Featuring David Guetta. Included on the Blu-ray are all the previous features plus: Born from a Boom Box: (or B-FaB as they say in the film) A Luke Katcher Film – Never before seen documentary that Luke made to get into film school. And last, but not least, the deleted scenes. So, with all this stuff on the features, some might think this is worth owning, I tend to disagree. The movie is worth watching once so you can laugh about it later with friends, so RENT IT.

Cyrus on Blu-ray

It’s been close to a year since I had seen the comedic horror that is Cyrus and when I say comedic horror, that is in no way a negative for the movie. While most Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly films are on the dude-com side of the fence, Cyrus is something different. It’s funny, yet intelligent and dark but full of heart. Nothing has changed on its journey to Blu-ray. The picture is crisp and the sound, while being a comedy, is quite noticeable. I always look forward to the home release of a film like Cyrus, as the usual theater viewing only leaves missed dialog due to laughter. So viewing Cyrus at home was just that much funnier.

As for special features, Cyrus has everything you would expect from this type of release except a commentary track. While there are some great interviews on the disc, I would have loved to hear more from the Duplass brothers about the making of the film. One special feature that stood out to me the most was the inclusion of a featurette about the film’s premiere at the SXSW film festival last year.  It was a fun reminder of my experience with Cyrus and more of an intimate look at the Duplass brothers.

Cyrus is one of those great dark comedies that just opens up on multiple views. This is the main reason I’m giving it the rating I am, because the decision not to include a commentary track was a major disappointment especially with a film like Cyrus. I’m giving Cyrus a BUY IT.

Resident Evil: Afterlife on Blu-ray

There are two different kinds of Resident Evil fans, ones who enjoy the game but don’t hold much validity to the story and then there are the ones who read the books, play the games and collect the toys. I fall somewhere in between. While I do enjoy the game, I know that you have to give Hollywood some leniency when it comes to storytelling. The real problem with where the celluloid version has gone is the fact that it has leaned it’s way right off a cliff. Yes, some of your favorite characters from the game are there but let’s face it, the only thing this franchise has in common with a game that’s wondering where Berry is, is the title. If you can get past that you may enjoy the film.

Now I have to say that the version of the film I am reviewing is the standard Blu-ray version, there is a 3D version available and from just what I have seen with the 2D version it may be something worth checking out. As for the 2D version, it more or less served as a tease and had me disappointed that I didn’t see the film when it was released in theaters. Resident Evil: Afterlife seems like it is filled with some terrific 3D gags and if you have a 3D TV I would suggest you check it out. The sad thing is the film holds these moments highly and the lack of depth to the picture just shows how flat the story is. Now there is still plenty of action and the crisp picture and sound are great on Blu-ray so, you do still get the bang for your buck there.

As for the features Resident Evil: Afterlife is packed with everything your little fan boy heart could desire including a look at Resident Evil: Damnation. Now the great thing about this feature is Damnation is a release from Capcom and like Resident Evil: Degeneration, the story is more true to the gaming franchise. So for all you fans of the game here is a little something to look forward to.

Resident Evil: Afterlife contains no depth and I’m not completely sure where else this story can go, but if you’re a fan of the films I would suggest you see it but for everyone else you’re not missing much. I give Resident Evil: Afterlife a RENT IT.

And last, but not least,

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps on Blu-ray

This was a film that was very anticipated and brutally reviewed by critics all around. Personally, I rather enjoyed the film and what it brought to the table; that is, until the last thirty minutes or so when it took a sharp turn to an unrealistic town named Fantasy. The basic thoughts abound that Gordon Gekko is an evil, selfish man, and nothing would change that in an instant. The story is a sequel to Oliver Stone’s 1987 Wall Street, also starring Michael Douglas. The plot is as follows: As the global economy teeters on the brink of disaster, a young Wall Street trader partners with disgraced former Wall Street corporate raider Gordon Gekko on a two-tiered mission: To alert the financial community to the coming doom, and to find out who was responsible for the death of the young trader’s mentor.

There are quite a few special features on this Blu-ray. One of my favorites is the Audio Commentary by Director Oliver Stone. I’m always a sucker for Director commentary as there is no better way to understand a movie than this, but I especially loved listening to Oliver Stone because he is such a fascinating, educated man that that shows in this commentary. Other special features included on the Blu-ray are: A Conversation with Oliver Stone and the Cast of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street, Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary by Oliver Stone, and Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character With: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, and Frank Langella.

I really wanted to love this film, what with the anticipation of the sequel to the original and all. However, I just couldn’t love the movie enough. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t show some friends this movie, because besides the crazy ending, it’s a substantial film, although not as powerful as the original. Not to mention the cover, which was also the poster for the film is just fantastic. I am also thoroughly impressed with the amount of features included in the Blu-ray and it will keep me on the Blu-ray longer, so for those reasons, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps gets a BUY IT.

About Angela

Angela is the Editor-in-Chief of Lost in Reviews. She and Ryan created Lost in Reviews together in 2009 out of a mutual hatred for all the stodgy old farts currently writing film reviews. Since launching the site, Angela has enjoyed reviewing indie films over all other films, picking up new music from all corners of the world and photographing live shows. She is the co-host of Blu Monday and a member of the Kansas City Film Critic Circle.



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