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Dolphin Tale (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Yeah, I know: I come off as a real bastard for hating pieces of crap like this. It's a nice little movie about a dolphin with a missing tail, and that mean old movie critic blasts it as cinematic fecal matter!

Sure, the message here is sweet, something like, "Dolphins need tails, too!" And if they should lose one, Morgan Freeman will always make one for them while sporting a funny hat.

Well, I'll wear the badge of curmudgeon and say that I just hate the kids in this movie. I hate these kids almost as much as the new Spy Kids. Not as much, but pretty damn close.

Harry Connick Jr. shows up as an animal-loving guy who most definitely wants the dolphin with the missing tail to have a replacement tail, even if it is a fake one fashioned by Morgan Freeman. The film also throws in Ashley Judd as a woman who once had a career, but now slums in dolphins-sans-tail movies. Finally, there's Kris Kristofferson, because the script calls for a crusty old guy, and he always comes up first in the casting Rolodex under "crusty old guys."

Look, I'm happy the dolphin got a tail, and I think it's impressive that a real dolphin that lost its tail plays itself in the film. This is the Audie Murphy of dolphins. (Too obscure of a reference? OK, this dolphin is the Howard Stern of dolphins. I say this because both Murphy and Stern played themselves in movies, and this dolphin is playing itself in the movie. You probably got that. I probably didn't need to explain that to you. Sorry.)

So if you want to see Morgan Freeman looking stupid in a dumb hat, and watch two stupid kids who think they can act stink up the place while Harry Connick Jr. and Kris Kristofferson both refrain from singing, have at it.

Ashley Judd doesn't get naked, by the way. It's that rare Ashley Judd movie in which she doesn't show her ass. It's just another reason to hate this film.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A behind-the-scenes look at Winter the dolphin. It's actually kind of cool to see the dolphin without the stupid kids blabbering around it. You also get a more in-depth look at Winter's real story, a gag reel, an additional scene and more.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

There's no doubt: Everything about this movie looked like trouble before it hit screens. It had CGI apes instead of men in suits, which is blasphemy to Planet of the Apes purists. James Franco looked super-bored in the commercials, and the film overall looked like a cheap shortcut to restarting a broken franchise.

Well, color me stupid and presumptuous, because this turned out to be one of the summer's most-pleasant surprises. Andy Serkis delivers a great performance-capture job as Caesar, a test chimp who goes home to live with Franco's doctor character—and eventually starts a revolution.

Not much about this movie feels like the Apes films of old, but that's OK. It's sharply written, well-played and a fine start to a new run of Apes films. Sure, Franco looked bored, but he probably won't come back. With Serkis and special effects that are this solid, Franco is not required.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's lots of good stuff on this one. You get a director's commentary and a bunch of featurettes looking at aspects of the film such as the Apes films' legacy and Serkis' performance. Speaking of Serkis: There are deleted/incomplete scenes that feature him in his performance-capture getup acting the part out. You can actually watch the whole film in different states of animation completion. Seeing the actors and actresses doing the monkey thing is pretty cool.

Final Destination 5 (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I think the first Final Destination was supposed to be the only one. I'm thinking this, because it was called "Final" Destination, implying that it would indeed be the last.

But moviegoers like seeing people going through prophesized deaths, so the hits keep coming. While I don't like this movie all that much, it does have some well-done death scenes, including an impressive bridge collapse and some laser surgery gone dreadfully wrong. Yes, it's the same old, same old all over again, but it's done in a way that almost justifies seeing it. In fact, if you see this movie sitting on a friend's table, pop it into the old Blu-ray player, and fast-forward through the boring shit to get to the bloody parts.

The film was released in 3-D, and you do have the option of seeing the 3-D Blu-ray. Just don't pay money for it. Oh no, don't you dare do that.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Alternate death scenes and breakdowns of some of the visual effects.

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