Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Based on John le CarrĂ©’s 1974 spy novel of the same name, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was released in 2011 to much acclaim, eventually earning three Academy Award nominations. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, the film weaves a tangled web of intrigue, deceit, dirty dealing, treachery, smoke and mirrors and a variety of other similar words and phrases we looked up in our thesaurus. In the end, it all adds up to a scintillating espionage thriller featuring an incredible cast of characters and performances.

During the height of the Cold War, a British Intelligence agent is sent to Hungary on a mission to obtain valuable information. The operation is blown and in the ensuing international incident, Control (the head of British Intelligence) and his right-hand man, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are removed from power. Control dies shortly thereafter, but not before revealing his belief that a mole exists within the highest echelons of the organization, appropriately known as “the Circus”. When his hunch is corroborated by another agent, Smiley is brought out of retirement to investigate. Smiley is forced into what the back of the Blu-ray package refers to as “the ultimate international spy game where everyone’s motives are in question.” I’m certainly no expert on spy games, but having watched the film I have to admit that it did seem pretty ultimate.

You can find the rest of my review on Cinema Sentries

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Imagine, if you will, a world in which face-painted men with “Flock of Seagulls”-style haircuts comingle with folks resembling Frank Zappa in Ming the Merciless attire and women dressed in the finest glittery robes dug out of the trash bin behind Studio 54 whilst relaxing on silky-cushioned, oval-shaped beds. Now imagine all of these folks are part of a mining expedition on a desolate world, utilizing an enormous vehicle reminiscent of the sandcrawler the Jawas travelled in. Oh, and there’s robots: creepy, creepy robots with molded hair that looks like Louis XIV, and a murder mystery that makes everyone a suspect.

That is exactly the world I stumbled into when I watched The Robots of Death DVD. I loved every minute of it, and you should too.

Read the rest of my review at Cinema Sentries...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mr. Popper's Penguins - Blu-Ray Review

Penguins are all the rage these days, so it was only a matter of time before Richard and Florence Atwater’s classic children’s novel about a man and his penguins was adapted for the big screen. Now, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is available for viewing on your small(er) screen and with the holiday season upon us, it’s only a matter of time before your local discount retailer is offering you copies of this film on DVD or Blu-Ray (or perhaps a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack). Is it worth buying? That’s what we’re here to discuss.

Diverging quite a bit from the original novel (which admittedly, I have never read, but did look up on Wikipedia before writing this), the film features Jim Carrey as a cutthroat realtor who tends to be a bit too focused on his job and not focused nearly enough on his life. You know the type, as you’ve undoubtedly seen it in so many movies before: obsessed with work to the point that he leaps out of bed on a Monday morning, glad that the weekend is over, connected to his smart phone and hyper-organized to the point that it’s driven a wedge between him and his kids (and ex-wife, played by Carla Gugino). It’s not that Thomas Popper is a bad guy; he’s just lacking in people skills. No doubt this is due to the fact that his father was always off on one globe-trotting adventure after another, rarely home to spend any quality time with his son.

Shortly after Popper’s father passes away, a crate arrives at his doorstep containing a troublemaking penguin. A miscommunication leads to another crate, and five more penguins, arriving to stir up more trouble. You can probably guess where it goes from here: Popper wants to donate the flightless avians to the local zoo, but his kids fall in love with the lovable little guys and before you know it, the kids start to fall in love with their dad again too. As the penguins begin to lay eggs, Mr. Popper begins to relearn what’s truly important in life and in the process, begins to see how much he takes for granted – including his ex-wife, and the two begin to reconcile.Now, there’s more, but I won’t get too into it for fear of spoiling - - actually, you know what? It’s impossible to spoil anything in this movie. You already know exactly what happens next, don’t you?

Read the rest of my review on Cinema Sentries ...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Doctor Who: The Face of Evil - DVD review

Tom Baker is The Doctor. At least, or my money he is. And while it might sound blasphemous to die-hards, I don’t say that as a dyed-in-the-wool lifelong fan of the series or any type of expert on Time Lords or the TARDIS. As a matter of fact, reviewing this DVD is my first real exposure to the series and the character. Sure, I saw it as a kid, but most of the time I couldn’t bring myself to watch it – it appeared as though it was filmed in my parent’s backyard using cast-off equipment from a Soviet research lab circa 1952. To a child’s eye, it was the show that looked even worse than the 1960’s Star Trek (an impressive pedigree) which to a child’s mind denotes an inferior quality. And to be honest, the show was just boring and maybe even a little too creepy for me.

But still, Tom Baker is The Doctor. I guess it’s because his era was the one most Americans (myself included, obviously) are familiar with, as it was the era most often rebroadcast on PBS. But even as I’ve grown older and the show has experienced a revival, the gangly Brit with curly hair and a floor-length, multicolored scarf is the image that pops into my mind whenever I hear the good Doctor mentioned in conversation. Just as many fans Sean Connery to be the definitive Bond or Hulk Hogan is the face people envision when the words “pro wrestling” are uttered, Tom Baker is my Doctor Who… even though I’ve never really watched Doctor Who.

Read the rest of my review on Cinema Sentries ...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Three Musketeers Blu-ray Review

Have you ever watched a film that was obviously intended to be seen in 3D on your regular old 2D television? Maybe it’s just a scene or two that stands out, but sooner or later you’re bound to notice a shot in which the actor appears to be painted into the scenery or perhaps stands poised to jump out of your screen but ultimately does nothing of the sort. Something just seems to be… missing. It doesn’t look terrible, but it’s quite clear that something is out of place. It isn’t horribly fake looking, but you are well aware that something in that scene is lacking. You know full well that you’re missing out on something that was supposed to be there but just isn’t.

That wasn’t simply a description of director Paul W.S. Anderson’s 2011 adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ timeless classic The Three Musketeers, released in theaters in 3D format; it’s also my sly attempt at using metaphor to describe a film that is both surprisingly entertaining and predictably lacking.

Find the rest of my review on cinemasentries.com