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Hereafter (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This movie made me sleepy. And with all of the real-life tsunami terror going on in the world, the film's re-creation of a tsunami is something a whole lot of us don't want to see right now (although it is very well done).

Director Clint Eastwood took on this mediocre project, for whatever reason, providing Matt Damon with one of the most boring roles of his career. Damon plays George Lonegan, a character so stereotypically lonely that his name actually says what he is (alone again). He has an incredibly hard time with close relationships, because he can do super-intrusive psychic readings while touching somebody, which, of course, can put a damper on make-out sessions.

Obviously, Eastwood can't answer questions about the afterlife, because he is very much alive and hasn't a clue what is on the other side. That said, in this film, the other side looks like a cheap Spielberg rip-off—a bunch of bright light bathes shadowy figures who walk around like zombies.

A couple of other stories involving characters who have had brushes with death are weaved in with Lonegan's story, and the result is character overload. The three story arcs aren't afforded enough time to each feel sufficiently complete. That said, I'm sort of glad they weren't afforded more time, because the time they were allotted is used in boring fashion.

Eastwood has always been a hit-and-miss director. Hereafter is definitely one of his misses; it can be filed away with The Rookie and Firefox.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Even though the movie kind of sucks, it's worth it for Clint Eastwood fans to pick up the Blu-ray, because it includes The Eastwood Factor, a feature-length documentary about Eastwood and his time at Warner Bros. (which includes more than 35 years worth of movies). It's much, much better than Hereafter. You also get some behind-the-scenes stuff.

The Fighter (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I think Amy Adams deserved the Best Supporting Actress Oscar over Melissa Leo for her work in this movie. (I also think Hailee Steinfeld should've won the Oscar over both of them for True Grit, but statues have been handed out, so I'll be quiet now.)

That said, Leo, Adams, Christian Bale (who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) and Mark Wahlberg are all quite good in this film, the true story of boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his crazy brother Dicky (Bale). It's one of the better movies about boxing ever made. No, it doesn't stand up next to the likes of Raging Bull, but I would definitely call it better than The Main Event or Rocky IV.

Wahlberg put himself through a grueling boxing program, and it paid off. He looks like the real thing in the ring. Bale did another one of his physical transformations, this time in the gaunt direction. He is gaunt, indeed.

I happen to think Adams had one of the all-time-great Boston accents in this movie. She sounded more like a Boston resident than anybody in The Town—and that film included Ben Affleck, who grew up in Boston.

Director David O. Russell made his most straightforward picture so far here. (His past credits include Three Kings and Flirting With Disaster.) The movie, apart from being dramatically moving, is also very funny.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's a commentary from Russell, some deleted scenes and a decent making-of doc.

Tangled (Blu-ray+DVD)





(OUT OF 10)

Tangled did not receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature—one of the bigger Oscar snubs this year.

Disney's Rapunzel musical is yet another classic from the Mouse House. Yes, I am a sap for most things Disney. I loved the way animators took the look of films like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid and added another dimension. The film, although CGI, has all of the charm of Disney's best hand-drawn animated films.

The characters are terrific. Mandy Moore's voice brings real life to Rapunzel, a spunky, sprightly, enchanting new Disney princess. Best of all are the animals, including a funny chameleon and Maximus, the best animated horse since the one who was obsessed with rubber nipples in the Ren and Stimpy cartoons. Zachary Levi brings good humor to Flynn Rider, essentially the film's Prince Charming.

If the film has a flaw, it's that the songs are far from memorable. They aren't bad, and one even got an Oscar nomination, but I wouldn't be able to sing a single one of them if you offered me $100 to do so.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get some deleted scenes and making-of featurettes. The film can be purchased as a two-disc combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD versions, or a four-disc combo with Blu-ray 3-D, for those of you who have made that particular technological leap.

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