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Sun
11
Aug

Jacob Cooney's The Assault an Assault on Heist Films

The Assault

The tagline for the film reads, "Every Heist Needs a Getaway."

This film is a good excuse to exercise the getaway before getting into the heist.

The action, such as it is, happens in a small town town where Detective Tom Broza (TOM SIZEMORE) has just relocated from the big city of New York. Why he left, we don't know, but we can surmise that Bruza was too incompetent to be kept on the force given the way he handles this case.

Sun
04
Aug

UglyDolls Pretty Formulaic Lesson of Be Yourself

Uglydolls

UGLYDOLLS is one of those films that works if you (a) don't question things and (b) have something to read while your kids watch it. The premise of the Overly Optimistic Outcast has simply been done to death, and it would take some masterful storytelling to jolt some life into that tired old plot.

The UglyDolls are toys that didn't make the quality cut at the factory, and get shunted down a chute to Uglyville. Moxie (KELLY CLARKSON) still dreams of making it to "the big world" and finding her child, and every day in Uglyville is a party with Moxie at the head of it. No one thinks Moxie will every realize her dream, but none of them, not even Mayor Ox (BLAKE SHELTON), crush her positive attitude.

Sun
21
Jul

The Magic Word for the DCEU is Shazam

Shazam on Blu-ray

The character you are about to see in this movie has a lengthy and rich history, nearly as long as Superman's, and peppered with controversy from the beginning.

And, despite a relatively recent change to the comic book mythos that carried over to this movie, his name is not Shazam. His name is Captain Marvel, and he predates a certain Air Force pilot turned alien warrior turned superhero by leaps and bounds. "Shazam" is what he shouts to change from youthful Billy Batson into his adult hero persona, as he does in this movie. Why would he call himself "Shazam" if every time he introduced himself he ended up changing identies?

Tue
16
Jul

Not Your Father's F-ing Titans

Titans Season One

I've been reading comic books for nearly fifty years. It's not just a fandom for me, it's a lifestyle. In all that time, there are characters I've grown to love, teams I've rallied for, and storylines that have served as touchpoints in my life.

The Teen Titans were always more than that. The Teen Titans were special. They were the sidekicks, given a chance to stand on their own. It was a one-off idea, putting Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad together for an adventure in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, arguably a filler series, but it struck a chord. The next time these three got together, they were joined by Wonder Girl as the Teen Titans, quickly getting their own series. Those Bob Haney and Nick Cardy books were elevated in some way from the other titles--more culturally relevant, and definitely more relateable to the younger audiences.

Tue
16
Jul

Strange Communion: Priest's Vampirella a Therapy Patient

Vampirella 1

Vampirella has gone through a number of origins through the years. She's been an alien from Drakulon, an escapee from a realm of Hell, a daughter of Lilith. Through it all, she has been a force for good, standing against the agents of Chaos. And she has become an icon.

The creation of Forrest J. Ackerman, Trina Robbins and Tom Sutton, Vampi first came Drakulon to survive the blood drought on her planet. Attempting to blend in to human society, she caught a flight to take her to a television contest. The plane crashed, and she survived by drinking the blood of all the victims.

Sun
07
Jul

Gotham's Final Season Short, Sweet Introduction to Batman

Gotham Season 5

The original premise of GOTHAM was underrated. It was going to focus on James Gordon (BEN MCKENZIE) who would begin the series as a sergeant and work his way up to commissioner. Bruce Wayne (DAVID MAZOUZ) would appear, but he would still be the young boy who had just lost his parents to a murder, a case Gordon worked. And while Bruce sets out on the path that will take him to becoming Batman, the villains are already taking the stage. Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin (ROBIN LORD TAYLOR) went from being an assistant stooge to a crime lord. Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler (CORY MICHAEL SMITH) started as a mentally troubled forensic scientist for the police to letting his evil alter ego take over his life. Ivy Pepper went through the more startling metamorphoses, as she began as a child and grew to adulthood thanks to some weird chemical process. Even Leslie Thompkins (MORENA BACCARIN) went from being Gordon's love interest to being a psychotic villain and back to good guy again.

Wed
03
Jul

Pet Sematary: A Series of Unfortunately Unexplained Events

Pet Sematary

When sitting down to watch PET SEMATARY, one might reasonably expect an adaptation of the Stephen King novel which, by coincidence, bears the same title. And, to be sure, there is a family who moves into a house behind which there is a pet cemetary. And, yes, there is a patch of land where a cat gets buried who comes back to life.

On the whole of it, it's a somewhat entertaining story, right down to a "Bet you didn't see that coming" ending. But the story of a doctor who believes there is nothing after death, who is then confronted with incontravertible proof that death can be reverse... That's a story that could have been explored with more depth.

Barring that, what we get is a zombie movie about a magical piece of property where whatever you bury comes back to you, but not in any pleasant way. In fact, one woul dthink after the first few dozen times of resurrecting murderous zombies, the appeal would wear off and people would stop doing it. 

Mon
10
Jun

Watching Without Feminism Goggles, Captain Marvel Actually Fun Superhero Flick

Captain Marvel BD

CAPTAIN MARVEL was, perhaps, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to come with pre-release baggage. The marketing machine started things off by signalling how much of a milestone it was that this was the first Marvel film to have a female lead, as though that were a reason to watch the film. Then lead actress Brie Larson began making disparaging comments about the opinions of white male critics. There was simply too much pre-movie commentary that came off as "You will enjoy this movie for the reasons we tell you, or else you're a bad person."

That was before the film hit the theatrical circuit, where I did not see it. More time has passed now, and viewing CAPTAIN MARVEL on Blu-ray is my first exposure to the film. And with the hype and anti-hype simmered down, I could actually sit down and watch this without being told that I have to have a feminist mindset, or that there's a politically subtextual nuance to every comment, or that Brie Larson doesn't smile enough.

Sun
09
Jun

The New Scooby-Doo Movies Come to Blu-ray -- Almost Complete, Almost Perfect

The New Scooby-Doo Movies Almost Complete

Let's face it. Even the youngest of television viewers can figure out the plot of a Scooby-Doo cartoon after seeing three or four of them. The Mystery Inc gang was a group of meddling kids who knew how to ride mine cars, run back and forth across the screen, and drop a net on a ghost who would end up being a guy in a rubber mask.

Something had to be done to keep the kids coming back.

One of the ways the folks at Hanna-Barbera stroke to keep Scooby-Doo fresh and relateable was to bring in guest stars, people or characters whom the viewers already knew. Thus was born the New Scooby-Doo Movies, a series where the gang would meet up with famous celebrities or other Hanna-Barbera cartoon properties. This added a new layer to the mysteries -- which, nonetheless, involved the being taken for accidental rides, running back and forth across the screen, and dropping nets on ghosts who ended up being someone in a rubber mask. Only now they had help.

Tue
04
Jun

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fun Action Flick with Anime Sensibilities

Batman vs TMNT Blu-ray

When high tech thefts occur in Gotham City, pulled off by stealthy ninjas, eyewitness accounts place a team of metahumans at the scene of the crime; "lizard men" Batgirl (RACHEL BLOOM) calls them. But these are not lizards. They are a quartet of terrapins, previously exposed just over a decade ago, to a DNA-altering substance that changed them into anthropomorphic creatures who were trained from an early age in the ancient Japanese martial arts. Yes, they are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they've come to Gotham City from New York hot on the trail of the evil Shredder and his minions, the Foot Clan.

Sat
01
Jun

How To Train Your Dragon Wraps with The Hidden World

How To Train Your Dragon The Hidden World

The village of Berk has become overrun with dragons. For most fictional medieval villages, this would be the apocalypse. But Berk is a dragon sanctuary, and their leader, Hiccup (JAY BARUCHEL), leads a rag-tag band of raiders on rescue missions to save dragons from trappers and poachers, bringing them back to the ever-more-crowded town.

Things take a turn, however, when dragon hunter Grimmel (F. MURRAY ABRAHAM) enters the scene. More than being ruthless and relentless, Grimmel is a strategist who plans three steps ahead, and he has a single minded goal: destroy all dragons. For that, he needs to get his hands on the alpha dragon -- Hiccup's partner, Toothless.

Sun
26
May

Isn't It Romantic Becomes What It Denies

Isn't It Romantic BD

ISN'T IT ROMANTIC is an entertaining rom-com that sets out to prove all rom-coms are fomulaic drivel -- and quickly becomes formulaic.

Not that this is a bad thing. Formulas work, and attempting to subvert audience expectations is a tricky business that is more risk than reward. Formula brings people back. I watch every Hallmark Channel Christmas movie with my wife, and within the first fifteen minutes have written the ending, and that still doesn't stop her from watching each and every one of them.

In this film, we meet Natalie (REBEL WILSON) who from a young age has been told by her mother that happy endings don't happen for girls like them. Believing this, Nat has grown up to be mildly successful as an architect but without her own voice and a lack of respect from her own employees. When discussing romantic comedies with her assistant, she ticks off a lengthy laundry list of items that are everything she feels is wrong with them.

Fri
10
May

LEGO Sequel Doesn't Stack Up to Original

LEGO Movie 2: Second Part

Given the amazing success of THE LEGO MOVIE, it was inevitable that there was going to be a sequel, starring the same characters. And sure enough, here comes THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART, with Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Arnett returning to their roles of Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Batman.

There's just one problem. After seeing the brilliant end of the first movie, the rabbit is out of the hat. We know what's going on. The magic is gone. It's like trying to do a sequel to THE SIXTH SENSE and trying to forget the whole time that Bruce Willis is a ghost. (LEGO Bruce Willis appears in this film, so that's not entirely a non sequitur analogy.) Where we were originally left in the dark as to what "Kragle" was, we now immediately work on the (less-than-inspired) translations of the "Sis Star System" and the "Bin of Sto-Raj."

Fri
19
Apr

Black and White and Cute All Over: IMAX Pandas

IMAX Pandas

This nature documentary pops right off the screen, thanks tot he IMAX filming of the subjects and their lush settings.

Narrated by Kristen Bell, IMAX PANDAS takes the audience into the world of the endangered Giant Panda, and the efforts to repopulate them in the wild. We get to see baby pandas, born in captivity and nurtured at a panda preserve in China, and learn of the efforts to wean the captive pandas back into their natural habitat. But that is no simple task.

Tue
16
Apr

Future Shock as Legion Villains Battle the Justice League

Justice League vs Fatal Five

Just when I was getting used to the idea that every DC Animated Universe release was going to be a continuation of the New 52 paradigm, they throw us a curveball and give us another chapter in JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED -- and a most welcome one at that!

The voice acting trinity of Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, and George Newbern return as Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, with Kevin Michael Richardson joining the team as Mr. Terrific and Daniela Bobadilla as potential League recruit, Miss Martian.

Sun
07
Apr

Bumblebee: Mining 80s Nostalgia Produces Best of Transformers Series

Bumblebee Blu-ray and DVD

For the first fifteen minutes of BUMBLEBEE, I found myself over-analyzing things. The battle for Cybertron, for instance, was fought between Autobots and Decepticons who transformed themselves into vehicles already. Why? They did not have vehicles there to blend in with, they traveled under their own power, they had programming (in English) that had to have been put in by somebody, and, most distracting, their "mouths" moved when they spoke when their voices were sent through speakers, so there was no reason to use movement to articulate sounds. In fact, being advanced electronics, it was more likely they would communicate directly, wirelessly, through technology akin to Bluetooth.

And then I got it. It wasn't that BUMBLEBEE was cheesy like an 80s movie. It's not that BUMBLEBEE was even an homage to cheesy 80s movies.

Sun
31
Mar

Not Much Mystery in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Carolyn Keene's girl detective is getting another shot at live action adaptation, this time coming to the screen with the help of IT girl, SOPHIA LILLIS as the titular Nancy Drew.

Nancy lives in a small town, having moved there from Chicago with her father, attorney Carson Drew (TRUE BLOOD's SAM TRAMMELL), following the death of her mother. She's a tomboy with a penchant for getting into trouble due to her sense of vigilante justice (which ranges from dying a bully blue to actual breaking and entering).

Despite her short time in town, she's made some friends in plucky George Fayne (ZOE RENEE) and scientific genius Bess Marvin (MACKENZIE GRAHAM). She's also made an enemy in rich girl Helen Corning (LAURA WIGGINS), the girlfriend of said bully-turned-blue.

Sun
24
Mar

Long Live the King: Aquaman Comes to Blu-ray and DVD

Aquaman on Bluray

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was being birthed, there were labor pains. How could they have a successful franchise, when their top selling titles -- Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men -- were already franchised out to other production houses?

It's hard to imagine it now (and for longtime comic boom fans, it was even hard to imagine it then), but at the time all this was going down, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America were not top-tier characters for the House of Ideas. There was literally nowhere to go but up with these guys, and so that's where they went.

Thu
21
Mar

Mary Poppins Returns is a Spoonful of Sugar and More

Mary Poppins Returns on Blu-ray

ROB MARSHALL has accomplished the rare privilege of getting to direct a classic of the Disney variety. MARY POPPINS RETURNS pops off the screen, with a color palette right out of a fantasy and a soundtrack firmly in tune with the songs from the original 1964 film that gave us such unforgettable songs as "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

EMILY BLUNT steps into the impeccable shoes of the unflappable Mary Poppins, arriving at a time when the two Banks children, Michael (BEN WHISHAW) and Jane (EMILY MORTIMER) have grown up. Jane, like her mother, works to promote women's suffrage, while Michael is a struggling artist who has taken a job at the bank to make ends meet after the loss of his wife. Michael's three children, John, Annabel, and Georgie, do their best to help out, but can accomplish very little when the family learns they have until the end of the week to come up with the money to save their family home before the bank forecloses on it.

Tue
12
Mar

Mary Poppins Returns Blu-ray Combo Pack and Compact Mirror

Mary Poppins Returns

Finally, a giveaway that's practically perfect in every  way!

Up for grabs this time, Critical Blast is proud to offer the Blu-ray combo pack of Walt Disney's MARY POPPINS RETURNS, starring EMILY BLUNT as the iconic magical nanny, and LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA as her streetwise friend, Jack. Returning to the Banks' home during a time of crisis, Mary Poppins arrives just in time to save the Banks children -- and their children -- as well as their family home.

Replete with all the 2D animation mixed with live action footage, and filled from beginning to end with song and enchantment, MARY POPPINS RETURNS is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious addition to any family's video library.

And to sweeten the deal, this package comes with a compact mirror with digital messaging! Let's see Mary Poppins top that!

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