Chronicle (Blu-ray) Criticize This! Pick of the Week – Who would have thought a found footage superhero film could work and actually be great? Certainly not I, as my expectations for Chronicle were extremely low. Having seen it twice now, I can honestly say it just gets better with repeat viewings. What I liked most about the film was how they were able to make the camera blend into the story and use it to the advantage of the viewer (when the character who is filming everything realizes he has superpowers he makes the camera float, in turn giving the viewer some very fluid and pleasing shots). Chronicle could be the biggest surprise of the year and is definitely a film worth checking out. Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, and Michael B. Jordan star. Although the film was shot low-budget, the Blu-ray does look great and is definitely worth adding to your collection. Special features include the theatrical and extended cuts of the film, a deleted scene, and more. A regular DVD and digital copy are included as well. Film **** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
Rampart (Blu-ray) – Set in 1999 in Los Angeles, Rampart works largely because of the wild performance Woody Harrelson delivers as the racist, dirt bag cop he portrays. It’s very reminiscent of his Natural Born Killers character, Mickey Knox, in that you will despise and hate him when the movie ends. While it’s not as riveting as Oren Moverman’s last film, The Messenger, it is a solid follow-up that will get your blood boiling and your emotions charged. Ben Foster, Anne Heche, and Brie Larson also star. The Blu-ray is clean and crisp but is not required viewing. Special features include audio commentary with director Oren Moverman, a making-of featurette, and more. Film *** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).
Hell on Wheels: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) – It took me a few episodes of this post-Civil War set series before I found something to like. And even then I wasn’t sold enough to keep going with it for the full season. Maybe my expectations were high as I thought it would be more along the lines of Deadwood when in reality it doesn’t come close to the brilliance that show delivered in its brief time. To be fair, Hell on Wheels does have some good performances, especially from the lead star Anson Mount, and the soundtrack for each episode is top notch. If the writing was better or if I connected with the characters sooner, I might be more forgiving and might be looking forward to the second season later this year. Where I currently stand, however, I won’t be giving this show a second chance. The good news is that if you are a fan of the show the Blu-ray is a work of beauty and is highly recommended. Special features include making-of featurettes, behind-the-scenes videos, and more. Show ** Blu-ray **** (out of 5 stars).
Albert Nobbs (Blu-ray) - While Glenn Close delivers a fine performance playing a woman pretending to be a man in order to get work in Ireland during the 19th century, Albert Nobbs is overall a long boring snoozefest that is not worth wasting your time on. If you’re a big fan of Close you might get something out of it. Otherwise, avoid it at all cost. Mia Wasikowska, Janet McTeer, and Aaron Johnson also star. The Blu-ray is nothing special and is not recommended. Special features include deleted scenes, audio commentary, and more. A regular DVD of the film is included as well. Film ** Blu-ray ** (out of 5 stars).
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Top image: A scene from Chronicle. Courtesy 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.