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The Hangover: Unrated Edition (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I say "Boo!" to the Golden Globes for failing to nominate Zach Galifianakis for Best Supporting Actor. I'm not saying there weren't other actors just as deserving; I'm saying that nominating Zach would've been subversive and funny.

Oh ... that's right ... the Golden Globes is the lamest excuse for awards on the planet this side of the Syracuse, New York, Best Show-Hog Festival.

Director Todd Phillips returned to comedic form with this hilarious raunch-fest about the aftereffects of a criminally outrageous bachelor party; it's his best movie since at least Old School. Galifianakis got his breakout role as a heavily bearded weirdo who, like the others at the party, drinks and drugs his way into serious trouble. Unlike the others in his gang, he takes a serious punch from the one and only Mike Tyson. Tyson's appearance—singing along quite badly to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight"—is one of the year's best cameos.

Ed Helms gets gut-busting laughs as the supposed most-respectable member of the party—the one who, of course, goes ape-shit once alcohol enters his bloodstream. Bradley Cooper anchors the film as a straight man with a nasty, dark edge.

This one made the American Film Institute's Top 10 for 2009. While it probably won't make my personal Top 10, it is easily one of the decade's funniest films. Phillips is currently working on a sequel script, and he hopes to shoot it next summer. Bring it on!

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get 100 more pictures of the bachelor party, and that's worth the price of the damn thing right there. The Blu-Ray comes with a digital copy for download, and two versions of the film (the theatrical release and the unrated cut). There's a picture-in-picture commentary with Phillips, Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis that is worth your while—Helms reveals that he is really missing a tooth in the film—a gag reel and more.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

While previous Harry Potter chapters (with the exception of Sorcerer's Stone) managed to include a glorious sense of adventure and purpose, this latest chapter was a surprising dud.

Part of the problem might be that the director didn't change from one film to the next, as was the case with previous films in the series. David Yates, who helmed the very good Order of the Phoenix, also directed this one, a movie in which Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his cronies get a serious case of the mopes. This is especially true of Emma Watson, who has been one of the brighter spots in the series. Her portrayal of Hermione Granger in this sequel is a total drag.

Yes, I know, this is the "setup" movie for the final chapter, the ultimate wizardry showdown with Lord Valdemort and his crew of troublemakers. But Half-Blood Prince just doesn't click, as Yates fails to give it any sense of life. It's as if everyone has suddenly lost interest.

Yates is also going to be helming the two films for the final book. His first crack at Harry Potter was decent, so perhaps he'll get a little bit of the magic back. This installment had far too much in common with the insufferable Twilight movies in that it made me want to nap.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Best of all for Potter fans is the sneak peak at the upcoming Deathly Hallows. You also get Maximum Movie Mode, with Daniel Radcliffe taking you through the film as it plays; a personal look into the life of J.K. Rowling; and additional scenes that didn't make the cut. Warner Home Video follows Disney's lead by also providing a standard-DVD copy of the film along with the Blu-Ray.

9 (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This has been a great year for animation, thanks to Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Those successes have pushed good animated films like this one into the background.

While this post-apocalyptic tale lacks a bit of substance, it does look mighty good, and some of the action scenes really pop. If you watch it on Blu-Ray, your eyes will get a nice movie bath. The story has something to do with a scientist who creates nine puppet/robots, and puts his life force into each one of them. As things progress, the story becomes less and less interesting, but the desolated landscape delivered by director Shane Acker is well-conceived.

A slightly fuller story could've have made this a serious contender for Best Animated Film honors. Actually, I take that back; nothing could touch Up this year.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There is a lot of good stuff, including a filmmaker commentary, a behind-the-scenes tour with Acker, the original 9 short on which the film is based, deleted scenes and decent documentaries.

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