On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 30, 2014


Is escapism really that if the relief we seek turns out to be just as unpleasant as the reality? It is questions such as this that begin to seep into your mind during the exhausting, nearly three-hour experience that is Transformers: Age of Extinction. Director Michael Bay has no intentions of creating anything other than grand escapism here in that this is not a film intended for a specific audience or niche, but is mass appeal on the largest scale possible. The thing about Bay that most people hate is that he has the mentality of a 12 year-old boy and composes his films from that perspective while being technically proficient. While there will be those who ask what might be wrong with the imagination of a pre-teen boy splattered across an IMAX screen the answer is technically, nothing, but might result in some incohesive story elements and slight exploitation of the young female body. There are stereotypes thrown around here from time to time, but the racism has been dialed back considerably from the truly messy second installment, Revenge of the Fallen. There is no mention of Sam Witwicky anywhere and thus there is no forced feeling of having to evolve that character from where we saw him last allowing for the new humans to simply exist in order to aid the giant robots in whatever quest they are out to achieve this time. The film is unnecessarily, even punishingly long. Bay could have easily kept this at a strict two hours while providing some solid entertainment, some stunning visuals and a story the majority of us could follow with ease, but he doesn't. Bay is not one to avoid indulgence and so what we've actually been given is an over-complicated version of a rather simple story that in being so big forgets the little things such as a reason for shoe-horning in robot dinosaurs. To be fair, Age of Extinction is in some ways an improvement over the last two films in that Bay seems to be trying and take the criticisms he's been given and apply them to improving his work (the streamlined story, the less distracting human characters) yet in the end it more or less feels like we're watching the same things we've already seen before. Full review here. C

The wisest thing you could do before watching Chef is to make sure your stomach is not on empty, but you also don’t want to be full either. A nice pre-movie snack is suitable as you likely won’t make it through the film if you go in on an empty stomach, but will be more than mad at yourself if you go in stuffed not allowing space in your tummy for a dinner afterwards that might at least attempt to rival the look and taste of what you just witnessed being crafted on screen. It is with this middle of the road mentality (and hunger) that you receive something wholly fulfilling from Chef and if nothing else are surprised at the deeply affecting ways in which this film, that may initially come off as nothing more than superficial, moves you and teaches a well-worn lesson. For, despite the full buffet of A-list names on the roster it is the food (or any idea, goal, theme, etc. you want to apply there) that is the real star of writer, director and star Jon Favreau’s latest. Favreau, who has been around the block and back in terms of directing makes his glorious return to what he clearly has a knack for in terms of pure, character-driven stories. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is clearly more than a capable director as he not only crafted the under-appreciated Zathura, the now holiday-classic Elf (we forget to give him the credit he deserves on that one) and launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we now know it with Iron Man while not buckling under the pressure of turning around and delivering a competent sequel, but he also poured his heart and soul into the writing of the cult classic Swingers (launching not only his own, but buddy Vince Vaughn’s career) and then returning to the characters for his feature directorial debut with Made in 2001. He’ll soon return to the world of big budget tentpoles, but it is with great delight that we first received this small, delicately prepared dish that provides an interesting diversion in a truly solid and moving film that while featuring the food as its star attraction, is more about the heart and soul that is poured into the creation of that food that makes the final product, that full meal if you will, all the more satisfying. Full review here. B+

This came in went in theaters and on Video on Demand and I heard nothing but horrible things about it. I typically try to catch every Owen Wilson flick and the additions of Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler here would seemingly make for a pretty great comedy, but I've literally heard nothing but horrible things. I haven't followed Mad Men, but have heard nothing but stellar reviews which would encourage me to one day binge watch the show and as the man behind it makes his feature directorial debut with Are You Here I'd be inclined to check it out as well. Still, I've heard nothing but terrible things. I'd like to think that some day when I have absolutely nothing else to do I will give this a shot, but that 7% on Rotten Tomatoes is killing me and honestly, I've heard nothing but horrible things.





Another film with a rather impressive roster of actors working for it including Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Maria Bello and Kim Basinger with nothing but bad reviews to show for all their effort. Third Person is also Academy Award Winner Paul Haggis' fourth directorial effort yet it too floundered in limited release and on VOD. I've enjoyed most of Haggis' previous features and haven't re-watched Crash recently enough to be as tough on it as the backlash would suggest, but I highly doubt I'll ever make it around to this one.









Full review here.