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|Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
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When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew
|Bond 50: The Complete 23 Film Collection with Skyfall [Blu-ray]
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All the Bond films are gathered together for the first time on high-definition Blu-ray in this one-of-a-kind boxed set - every gorgeous girl, nefarious villain and charismatic star from Sean Connery, the legendary actor who started it all, to Daniel Craig. A fitting tribute to the most iconic and enduring secret agent in movie history, BOND 50 is the greatest collection ever assembled. 23 films on Blu-ray, from Dr. No to Skyfall.
|Despicable Me 2 (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet)
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Gru, his adorable girls, and the mischievous Minions are back with a cast of unforgettable new characters in the blockbuster sequel to the worldwide phenomenon. Just as Gru has given up being super-bad to be a super-dad, the Anti-Villain League recruits him to track down a new criminal mastermind and save the world. Partnered with secret agent Lucy Wilde, Gru, along with the wildly unpredictable Minions, must figure out how to keep his cover while also keeping up with his duties as a father. Assemble the Minions for laugh-out-loud comedy in "one of the funniest, most enjoyable movies ever!" (MovieGuide)
|Planes (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
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The world of Cars takes flight in Planes, Disney's high-flying animated comedy revved up with action and adventure. Join Dusty, a crop duster with sky-high dreams and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take on the world's fastest flyers in the greatest air race ever. Dusty has a huge heart but two big problems...he's not exactly built for speed, plus he's afraid of heights. His courage is put to the ultimate test as this unlikely hero aims higher than he ever imagined. With a little help from his friends, Dusty finds the courage to be more than he was built for—and the inspiration to soar.
Dusty (Dane Cook)
Dusty is a plane with high hopes—literally. Crop duster by trade, this single-prop plane sees himself soaring alongside his high-flying heroes in an international race. The fact that he’s not really built for competitive racing doesn’t deter him from pursuing his dream—but his fear of heights just might. With a little help from his friends—and a WWII vet with wisdom to spare—Dusty takes off on an adventure of a lifetime, going prop-to-prop with champions while daring to reach heights he never imagined possible.
Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach)
A reclusive old Navy Corsair, Skipper was an ace flier and top instructor of the esteemed Jolly Wrenches squadron until an incident during a combat mission took him off the front lines and left him grounded for life. These days, Skipper keeps to himself, but his quiet existence is turned upside down when an ambitious and persistent Dusty solicits Skipper’s aerial expertise—and gets a few life lessons in the process. But Skipper—who’s never really come to terms with his past—finds that he has a few things to learn, too, and while coaching Dusty to fly faster and smarter, the teacher becomes the student.
Leadbottom (Cedric the Entertainer)
Leadbottom is a puttering old biplane and a grumbling taskmaster, a real “tank-half-empty” kind of guy. As the proprietor of Vitaminamulch, a special—albeit putrid—blend of vitamins, minerals, and mulch that works miracles when sprayed on crops, Leadbottom has no time for Dusty’s far-fetched flights of fancy. There are too many crops to spray and not enough hours in the day to spray them. For Leadbottom, it’s work first, then … well, more work.
Dottie (Teri Hatcher)
Dottie is a forklift who co-owns and operates Chug and Dottie’s Fill ’n Fly service station. As Dusty’s practical and say-it-like-it-is friend—not to mention his ace mechanic—Dottie hopes to keep his high-flying hopes grounded in reality: Dusty isn’t built to race and chasing his dream is downright dangerous. No matter what he decides, however, Dottie will always have his back.
Chug (Brad Garrett)
Fuel truck Chug is a guy’s guy. He works hard as co-owner of Chug and Dottie’s Fill ’n Fly service station—and plays hard indulging in his own fuel from time to time. He has a big personality and is a bold supporter of Dusty’s high-flying endeavors. Indeed, he’s not only Dusty’s buddy, he’s his coach and biggest fan. And if Chug can’t help Dusty reach new heights, he’ll find someone who can.
Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith)
With more wins than he can count and an abundance of fans, Ripslinger is wings-down the biggest name in air racing—and he knows it. But despite sky’s-the-limit funding and state-of-the-art equipment, the world champion still doesn’t play fair—especially when it comes to a small-town plane with zero racing experience. Dusty doesn’t belong in Ripslinger’s sport and his mere presence makes the pro’s fuel boil. And if Dusty’s inexperience doesn’t take him out of the race, Ripslinger’s vast empire includes a couple of underhanded sidekicks to take care of business.
Ned and Zed (Gabriel Iglesias)
Team Ripslinger’s bombastic racers Ned and Zed specialize in sabotage. Lacking the skills to actually outrace the competition, they simply eliminate it, propelling boss Ripslinger to victory every single time. Zed, a rowdy and reckless flier, and Ned, a strange bird himself, may not be the sharpest props in the hangar, but they have figured out how to draft off Ripslinger’s fame.
El Cupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui)
The intensely charming El Chupacabra is a legend in Mexico (just ask him). Powered by his passion for racing (not to mention the elusive Rochelle), this caped Casanova is anything but low-key—his booming voice and charismatic presence are as big as his oversized engine. His cohorts aren’t really sure what is truth and what is delusion when it comes to El Chu, but one thing is beyond doubt: he races with a whole lot of heart and more dramatic flair than is recommended at high altitudes.
Rochelle (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Rochelle is a tough racer and the pride of the Great White North. Always confident and capable, she got her start running mail to small towns in Quebec, picking up home remedies for mechanical maladies along the way. She also developed a knack for fast travel that ultimately inspired her to give air racing a try. Rochelle never looked back (this competitive contender doesn’t need to). She is relentlessly pursued by charmer El Chupacabra, but steadfast Rochelle is much too focused on winning the race to return his affections.
Bulldog (John Cleese)
Bulldog has been racing longer than every other racer on the circuit. As the oldest and arguably wisest, he remembers a time before GPS, when real racers trusted their gyros and navigated by the stars. When it comes to racing, it boils down to two qualities, says Bulldog: good flying and sportsmanship. Period. While the competition secretly wonders if the aging plane is past his prime, he flies his way onto the leader board again and again, proving that this Bulldog has lost none of his bite.
Ishani (Priyanka Chopra)
The reigning Pan-Asian champion from India, Ishani is easy on the eyes, but ruthless in the skies. Thanks to her high-speed competitiveness and notable talent, she has amassed more than a billion loyal fans—including one rookie racer who turns to her for guidance. Exotic and mysterious, Ishani is full of surprises, but always has her eye on the prize.
|World War Z (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
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A former UN investigator is thrust into the middle of trying to stop what could be the end of the world. Worldwide destruction sends him around the globe seeking clues about what they are fighting and what it will take to defeat it, as he tries to save the lives of billions of strangers, as well as his own beloved family.
Few monsters lend themselves better to allegory than the zombie. In the years since George Romero first set the shambling mold with Night of the Living Dead, filmmakers have been using the undead as handy substitutes for concepts as varied as mall-walking consumers, punk rockers, soccer hooligans, and every political movement imaginable. (All this, plus brain chomping.) World War Z, the mega-scale adaptation of Max Brooks's richly detailed faux-historical novel, presents a zombie apocalypse on a ginormous level never seen before on film. Somehow, however, the sheer size of the scenario, coupled with a distinct lack of visceral explicitness, ends up blunting much of the metaphoric impact. While the globe-hopping action certainly doesn't want for spectacle, viewers may find themselves wishing there was something more to, you know, chew on. Director Marc Forster and his team of screenwriters (including J. Michael Straczynski and Lost's Damon Lindelof) have kept the basic gist of the source material, in which an unexplained outbreak results in a rapidly growing army of the undead. Unlike the novel's sprawling collection of unrelated narrators, however, the film streamlines the plot, following a retired United Nations investigator (Brad Pitt) who must leave his family behind in order to seek out the origins of the outbreak. While the introduction of a central character does help connect some of Brooks's cooler ideas, it also has the curious effect of narrowing the global scale of the crisis. By the time of the third act, in which Pitt finds himself under siege in a confined space, the once epic scope has decelerated into something virtually indistinguishable from any other zombie movie. Even if it's not a genre changer, though, World War Z still has plenty to distinguish itself, including a number of well-orchestrated set pieces--this is a movie that will never be shown on airplanes--and the performances, with Pitt's gradually eroding calm strengthened by a crew of supporting actors (including Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, and a fantastically loony David Morse) who manage to make a large impression in limited time. Most importantly, it's got those tremendous early scenes of zombie apocalypse, which display a level of frenetic chaos that's somehow both over-the-top and eerily plausible. When the fleet-footed ghouls start dogpiling en masse, even the most level-headed viewer may find themselves checking the locks and heading for the basement. --Andrew Wright
|Pacific Rim (Blu-ray+DVD+UltraViolet Combo Pack)
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When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse
|Epic (Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy)
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From the creators of Ice Age comes the year’s funniest, most exhilarating animated adventure! Transported to a magical world, a teenager (Amanda Seyfried) is recruited by a nature spirit, Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), to help the “Leafmen” save their forest from evil warriors. The whole family will love this fast-paced thrill-ride, with its astonishing animation and an all-star voice cast that includes Colin Farrell, Oscar® Winner Christoph Waltz* and Steven Tyler!
Ronin is the chisel-faced, battle-hardened leader of the Leafmen, the elite corps of warriors sworn to protect all life in the forest. He lives by the creed: “many leaves, one tree” and wouldn’t think twice about putting his own life on the line for someone he cares about. When the forest and his beloved Queen come under siege, Ronin rallies the Leafmen into action with his bravery and wry humor.
A quirky, absent-minded professor, Bomba has grown out of touch with his now teenage daughter, MK. He lives in the middle of the forest, in a rundown house, where he surrounds himself with bizarre homemade gadgets. His life has been dedicated to – some would say obsessed with – studying –a civilization of tiny people he’s never seen. But when MK disappears, Bomba must put his own dreams under the microscope, and find what he’s really always been looking for.
Rakish and handsome, Nod is all about bucking the rules and flying solo. But his brazen individualism doesn't square with the Leafmen’s ideals of teamwork and unity, so he quits the squad. After a teenage girl enters his world – and when the stakes are high – Nod discovers what it takes to be a true hero.
Mary Katherine (MK)
Mary Katherine (she prefers “MK”) is a smart, spirited and headstrong 17-year-old who finds herself on the journey of a lifetime. After returning to her childhood home to connect with her estranged father, MK loses patience with his endless stories of the “tiny people” who live in the woods. But when she is magically transported into the Leafmen’s world, she gains a new perspective. To find her way home, MK must do more than believe in this world; she’ll have to help save it.
Mub & Grub
Low on the evolutionary food chain, but high in self-esteem, Mub, a self-characterized “ladies’ man,” and Grub, a wannabe Leafman, are the caretakers of the royal pod that will bloom into the future Queen or King of the forest. Though this slug-and-snail comedy duo is spineless, literally, they show real backbone by joining the quest to save their world.
At first glance, Nim Galuu is the consummate party animal. But don’t let this larger than life caterpillar fool you – his wisdom and practical know-how make him a key behind-the-scenes player in the epic battle to save the forest.
Beautiful, agile and strong, Tara isn’t just the Leafmen’s Queen; she’s the life force of the forest, which she presides over with respect, compassion and humor. When Tara finds herself in danger, her unique connection with nature gives her powerful allies. And when all hope seems lost, she summons help from the most surprising of places.
A tough-guy toad, Bufo is a wheeler and dealer who plays all the angles: he profits no matter which side wins or loses.
Mandrake Epic is a computer-animated adventure fantasy filled with gorgeous scenery, nice animated effects, plenty of action, and a somewhat familiar plot about the existence of a society of tiny people. Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), or M.K. as she likes to be called, has recently come to live with her dad Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) in a ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere. Obsessed with proving the existence of a society of tiny guardians of the forest called Leafmen, who are responsible for maintaining balance by keeping the Boggans from spreading blight throughout the forest, M.K.'s dad has little time for a daughter or the realities of everyday life. A chance event lands M.K. right in the middle of the Leafmen's society, where she quickly develops a whole new appreciation for her father's eccentricities. She finds herself charged by the Leafmen's queen (Beyoncé Knowles) with a difficult task that will mean the difference between preservation and destruction for the forest. M.K. joins forces with an assortment of unlikely heroes, including slug and snail duo Mub and Grub (Aziz Ansari and Chris O'Dowd), overzealous Leafmen commander General Ronin (Colin Farrell), and Nod (Josh Hutcherson), a soldier with a bad habit of questioning authority. Their perilous journey introduces M.K. to a strange new breed of enemy and a whole new way of thinking. Loosely based on William Joyce's book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, the film shares its premise--a society of tiny people tries to thrive without drawing the attention of the larger humans--with films like the Tinker Bell movies and The Secret World of Arrietty. What's unique about Epic is that it's just as much action film as fantasy. (Ages 7 and older) --Tami Horiuchi
Gifted, or cursed, with the ability to bring destruction to anything he touches, Mandrake and his Boggan minions are the arch-nemeses of the Leafmen. Mandrake is tired of hiding in the shadows, and with his son by his side, he plans the ultimate revenge – to claim the forest he believes should have always been his.
|Man of Steel (Blu-ray+DVD+UltraViolet Combo Pack)
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A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
|Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection [Blu-ray]
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The entire Harry Potter series in one collection!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Here's an event movie that holds up to being an event. This filmed version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, adapted from the wildly popular book by J.K. Rowling, stunningly brings to life Harry Potter's world of Hogwarts, the school for young witches and wizards. The greatest strength of the film comes from its faithfulness to the novel, and this new cinematic world is filled with all the details of Rowling's imagination, thanks to exuberant sets, elaborate costumes, clever makeup and visual effects, and a crème de la crème cast, including Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, and more. Especially fine is the interplay between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his schoolmates Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), as well as his protector, the looming Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). The second-half adventure--involving the titular sorcerer's stone--doesn't translate perfectly from page to screen, ultimately because of the film's fidelity to the novel; this is a case of making a movie for the book's fans, as opposed to a transcending film. Writer Steve Kloves and director Chris Columbus keep the spooks in check, making this a true family film, and with its resourceful hero wide-eyed and ready, one can't wait for Harry's return. Ages 8 and up. --Doug Thomas
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
First sequels are the true test of an enduring movie franchise, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets passes with flying colors. Expanding upon the lavish sets, special effects, and grand adventure of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry involves a darker, more malevolent tale (parents with younger children beware), beginning with the petrified bodies of several Hogwarts students and magical clues leading Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) to a 50-year-old mystery in the monster-laden Chamber of Secrets. House elves, squealing mandrakes, giant spiders, and venomous serpents populate this loyal adaptation (by Sorcerer's Stone director Chris Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves), and Kenneth Branagh delightfully tops the supreme supporting cast as the vainglorious charlatan Gilderoy Lockhart (be sure to view past the credits for a visual punchline at Lockhart's expense). At 161 minutes, the film suffers from lack of depth and uneven pacing, and John Williams' score mostly reprises established themes. The young, fast-growing cast offers ample compensation, however, as does the late Richard Harris in his final screen appearance as Professor Albus Dumbledore. Brimming with cleverness, wonderment, and big-budget splendor, Chamber honors the legacy of J.K. Rowling's novels. --Jeff Shannon
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Some movie-loving wizards must have cast a magic spell on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because it's another grand slam for the Harry Potter franchise. Demonstrating remarkable versatility after the arthouse success of Y Tu Mamá También, director Alfonso Cuarón proves a perfect choice to guide Harry, Hermione, and Ron into treacherous puberty as the now 13-year-old students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry face a new and daunting challenge: Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison, and for reasons yet unknown (unless, of course, you've read J.K. Rowling's book, considered by many to be the best in the series), he's after Harry in a bid for revenge. This dark and dangerous mystery drives the action while Harry (the fast-growing Daniel Radcliffe) and his third-year Hogwarts classmates discover the flying hippogriff Buckbeak (a marvelous CGI creature), the benevolent but enigmatic Professor Lupin (David Thewlis), horrifying black-robed Dementors, sneaky Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall), and the wonderful advantage of having a Time-Turner just when you need one. The familiar Hogwarts staff returns in fine form (including the delightful Michael Gambon, replacing the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and Emma Thompson as the goggle-eyed Sybil Trelawney), and even Julie Christie joins this prestigious production for a brief but welcome cameo. Technically dazzling, fast-paced, and chock-full of Rowling's boundless imagination (loyally adapted by ace screenwriter Steve Kloves), The Prisoner of Azkaban is a Potter-movie classic. --Jeff Shannon
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The latest entry in the Harry Potter saga could be retitled Fast Times at Hogwarts, where finding a date to the winter ball is nearly as terrifying as worrying about Lord Voldemort's return. Thus, the young wizards' entry into puberty (and discovery of the opposite sex) opens up a rich mining field to balance out the dark content in the fourth movie (and the stories are only going to get darker). Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) handily takes the directing reins and eases his young cast through awkward growth spurts into true young actors. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe, more sure of himself) has his first girl crush on fellow student Cho Chang (Katie Leung), and has his first big fight with best bud Ron (Rupert Grint). Meanwhile, Ron's underlying romantic tension with Hermione (Emma Watson) comes to a head over the winter ball, and when she makes one of those girl-into-woman Cinderella entrances, the boys' reactions indicate they've all crossed a threshold.
But don't worry, there's plenty of wizardry and action in Goblet of Fire. When the deadly Triwizard Tournament is hosted by Hogwarts, Harry finds his name mysteriously submitted (and chosen) to compete against wizards from two neighboring academies, as well as another Hogwarts student. The competition scenes are magnificently shot, with much-improved CGI effects (particularly the underwater challenge). And the climactic confrontation with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, in a brilliant bit of casting) is the most thrilling yet. Goblet, the first installment to get a PG-13 rating, contains some violence as well as disturbing images for kids and some barely shrouded references at sexual awakening (Harry's bath scene in particular). The 2 1/2-hour film, lean considering it came from a 734-page book, trims out subplots about house-elves (they're not missed) and gives little screen time to the standard crew of the other Potter films, but adds in more of Britain's finest actors to the cast, such as Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody and Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter. Michael Gambon, in his second round as Professor Dumbledore, still hasn't brought audiences around to his interpretation of the role he took over after Richard Harris died, but it's a small smudge in an otherwise spotless adaptation. --Ellen A. Kim Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Alas! The fifth Harry Potter film has arrived. The time is long past that this can be considered a simple "children's" series--though children and adults alike will enjoy it immensely. Starting off from the dark and tragic ending of the fourth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix begins in a somber and angst-filled tone that carries through the entire 138 minutes (the shortest of any HP movie despite being adapted from the longest book). Hopes of winning the Quidditch Cup have been replaced by woes like government corruption, distorted media spin, and the casualties of war. As the themes have matured, so have the primary characters' acting abilities. Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), and especially Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) are more convincing than ever--in roles that are more demanding.
Harry is deeply traumatized from having witnessed Cedric Diggory's murder, but he will soon find that this was just another chapter in the continuing loss he will endure. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned and, in an attempt to conceal this catastrophe from the wizarding public, the Ministry of Magic has teamed up with the wizard newspaper The Daily Prophet to smear young Potter and wise Dumbledore (Michael Gambon)--seemingly the only two people in the public eye who believe the Dark Lord has returned. With no one else to stand against the wicked Death Eaters, the Hogwarts headmaster is forced to revive his secret anti-Voldemort society, the Order of the Phoenix. This welcomes back characters like Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson), kind Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), fatherly Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), and insidious Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and introduces a short list of intriguing new faces. In the meantime, a semi-psychotic bureaucrat from the Ministry (brilliantly portrayed by Imelda Staunton) has seized power at Hogwarts, and Harry is forced to form a secret society of his own--lest the other young wizards at his school be left ill-equipped to defend themselves in the looming war between good and evil. In addition, Harry is filled with an inexplicable rage that only his Godfather Sirius seems to be able to understand.
This film, though not as frightening as its predecessor, earns its PG-13 rating mostly because of the ever-darkening tone. As always, the loyal fans of J.K. Rowling's books will suffer huge cuts from the original plot and character developments, but make no mistake: this is a good movie. --Jordan Thompson Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The sixth installment of the Harry Potter series begins right where The Order of the Phoenix left off. The wizarding world is rocked by the news that "He Who Must Not Be Named" has truly returned, and the audience finally knows that Harry is "the Chosen One"--the only wizard who can defeat Lord Voldemort in the end. Dark forces loom around every corner, and now regularly attempt to penetrate the protected walls of Hogwarts School. This is no longer the fun and fascinating world of magic from the first few books—it's dark, dangerous, and scary.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) to be a new Death Eater recruit on a special mission for the Dark Lord. In the meantime, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) seems to have finally removed the shroud of secrecy from Harry about the dark path that lies ahead, and instead provides private lessons to get him prepared. It's in these intriguing scenes that the dark past of Tom Riddle (a.k.a. Voldemort) is finally revealed. The actors cast as the different young versions of Riddle (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and Frank Dillane) do an eerily fantastic job of portraying the villain as a child. While the previous movies' many new characters could be slightly overwhelming, only one new key character is introduced this time: Professor Horace Slughorn (with a spot-on performance by Jim Broadbent). Within his mind he holds a key secret in the battle to defeat the Dark Lord, and Harry is tasked by Dumbledore to uncover a memory about Voldemort's darkest weapon--the Horcrux. Despite the long list of distractions, Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) still try to focus on being teenagers, and audiences will enjoy the budding awkward romances. All of the actors have developed nicely, giving their most convincing performances to date.
More dramatic and significant things go down in this movie than any of its predecessors, and the stakes are higher than ever. The creators have been tasked with a practically impossible challenge, as fans of the beloved J.K. Rowling book series desperately want the movies to capture the magic of the books as closely as possible. Alas, the point at which one accepts that these two mediums are very different is the point at which one can truly enjoy these brilliant adaptations. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is no exception: it may be the best film yet. For those who have not read the book, nail-biting entertainment is guaranteed. For those who have, the movie does it justice. The key dramatic scenes, including the cave and the shocking twist in the final chapter, are executed very well. It does a perfect job of setting up the two-part grand finale that is to follow. --Jordan Thompson Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I is a brooding, slower-paced film than its predecessors, the result of being just one half of the final story (the last book in the series was split into two movies, released in theaters eight months apart). Because the penultimate film is all buildup before the final showdown between the teen wizard and the evil Voldemort (which does not occur until The Deathly Hallows, Part II), Part I is a road-trip movie, a heist film, a lot of exposition, and more weight on its three young leads, who up until now were sufficiently supported by a revolving door of British thesps throughout the series. Now that all the action takes place outside Hogwarts--no more Potions classes, Gryffindor scarves, or Quidditch matches--Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione), and Rupert Grint (Ron) shoulder the film almost entirely on their own. After a near-fatal ambush by Voldemort's Death Eaters, the three embark on a quest to find and destroy the remaining five horcruxes (objects that store pieces of Voldemort's soul). Fortunately, as the story gets more grave--and parents should be warned, there are some scenes too frightening or adult for young children--so does the intensity. David Yates, who directed the Harry Potter films Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, drags the second half a little, but right along with some of the slower moments are some touching surprises (Harry leading Hermione in a dance, the return of Dobby in a totally non-annoying way). Deathly Hallows, Part I will be the most confusing for those not familiar with the Potter lore, particularly in the shorthand way characters and terminology weave in and out. For the rest of us, though, watching these characters over the last decade and saying farewell to a few faces makes it all bittersweet that the end is near (indeed, an early scene in which Hermione casts a spell that makes her Muggle parents forget her existence, in case she doesn't return, is particularly emotional). Despite its challenges, Deathly Hallows, Part I succeeds in what it's most meant to do: whet your appetite for the grand conclusion to the Harry Potter series. --Ellen A. Kim
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the film all Harry Potter fans have waited 10 years to see, and the good news is that it's worth the hype--visually stunning, action packed, faithful to the book, and mature not just in its themes and emotion but in the acting by its cast, some of whom had spent half their lives making Harry Potter movies. Part 2 cuts right to the chase: Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has stolen the Elder Wand, one of the three objects required to give someone power over death (a.k.a. the Deathly Hallows), with the intent to hunt and kill Harry. Meanwhile, Harry's quest to destroy the rest of the Horcruxes (each containing a bit of Voldemort's soul) leads him first to a thrilling (and hilarious--love that Polyjuice Potion!) trip to Gringotts Bank, then back to Hogwarts, where a spectacular battle pitting the young students and professors (a showcase of the British thesps who have stolen every scene of the series: Maggie Smith's McGonagall, Jim Broadbent's Slughorn, David Thewlis's Lupin) against a dark army of Dementors, ogres, and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter, with far less crazy eyes to make this round). As predicted all throughout the saga, Harry also has his final showdown with Voldemort--neither can live while the other survives--though the physics of that predicament might need a set of crib notes to explain. But while each installment has become progressively grimmer, this finale is the most balanced between light and dark (the dark is quite dark--several familiar characters die, with one significant death particularly grisly); the humor is sprinkled in at the most welcome times, thanks to the deft adaptation by Steve Kloves (who scribed all but one of the films from J.K. Rowling's books) and direction by four-time Potter director David Yates. The climactic kiss between Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), capping off a decade of romantic tension, is perfectly tuned to their idiosyncratic relationship, and Daniel Radcliffe has, over the last decade, certainly proven he was the right kid for the job all along. As Prof. Snape, the most perfect of casting choices in the best-cast franchise of all time, Alan Rickman breaks your heart. Only the epilogue (and the lack of chemistry between Harry and love Ginny Weasley, barely present here) stand a little shaky, but no matter: the most lucrative franchise in movie history to date has just reached its conclusion, and it's done so without losing its soul. --Ellen A. Kim
|Skyfall (Blu-ray/ DVD + Digital Copy)
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Daniel Craig is back as James Bond 007 in SKYFALL, the 23rd installment of the longest-running film franchise in history. In SKYFALL, Bond's loyalty to M (Judi Dench) is tested as her past returns to haunt her. 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. When Bond's latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows - aided only by field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) - following a trail to the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.
For longtime viewers of the James Bond films, one of the larger pleasures of the series--aside from the eternally awesome jetpacks and ejector seats--has been watching it adapt itself to the times, scooting its unflappable central character past the Cold War to the Disco Age to beyond the Millennium seemingly without breaking a sweat. Skyfall, Daniel Craig's third turn in the tux, lands itself firmly in the utmost tier of the franchise, delivering the expected goods as well as a rather unusual vein of introspection. Celebrating the 50th year of Bond's existence, it continues cultivating the gritty, back-to-basics vibe of Casino Royale, while also slowly letting some of the more fancifully escapist elements in through the filters. Kicking off with a humdinger of a car/bike/train chase in Istanbul, the plot finds an aging 007 on uneasy footing, struggling to get back in the game while his boss M (a magnificent Judi Dench) is marked for death by a mysterious assassin. As Bond draws closer to his target (Javier Bardem, having an absolute blast), he uncovers some details that draw uncomfortably close to his own origins. Director Sam Mendes, an Oscar winner for American Beauty, ably brings his game to the blockbuster level, keeping the globe-hopping narrative moving at a swift pace while also allowing plenty of room for the cast (including newcomers Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris) to do their thing. For all of the talent assembled on both sides of the camera, however, Skyfall's true MVP proves to be director of photography Roger Deakins, who gives an astonishingly ravishing look to the proceedings, culminating in a battle in a Shanghai skyscraper that may very well be the best fight scene the series has ever had. By the time of the surprisingly moving finale, set in a location far, far away from the standard Evil Lair, Mendes and Craig and Co. have reminded the viewer of exactly what these films can do. Where it ends is a perfect beginning. Extras on the disc include a wry and informative director's track, a more laid-back commentary from the producers and production designer, and an exhaustively detailed look behind the scenes. If you want to learn more about Bardem's wig, that information is available. --Andrew Wright
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