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No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

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Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
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Science Fiction
 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Chimps ahoy!

Rod Lott August 10th, 2011

Say what you will about Tim Burton’s widely despised 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes,” but if it hadn't made serious bank, this prequel would not exist.

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And that would be a bad thing, because “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” hoses off any stink Burton left behind. It’s one of the year’s nicest surprises.

An origin story to the sci-fi franchise that began on the big screen in 1968, “Rise” draws upon story elements of 1972’s “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (entry No. 4 for those as geeky as I), depicting how the baby monkey dubbed Caesar came to unite all gorillas, chimps and orangutans to overthrow the humans who have oppressed them.

It’s the fault, if unintended, of a scientist (James Franco, “127 Hours”) just trying to cure the Alzheimer’s eating away at the memories of his father (John Lithgow, TV’s “Dexter”). Science has to test on animals first for safety, and Caesar is the guinea pig — er, monkey — who experiences remarkable intelligence.
Too much brilliance, eventually leading to “Rise”’s bravura climax, an extended sequence in which Caesar’s assembled armies invade San Francisco by way of the Golden Gate Bridge. Director Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist”) stages this with pulse-raising tension, made possible by incredible special effects. The apes you see raising Cain are CGI, with the most remarkable being Caesar, in a startling motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis (“King Kong”). 

Consider how far the series has come: The original film earned an Oscar for its breakthrough makeup that turned men into monkeys. Now, no simian suits are needed, letting computers do the work. It’s the appeal of the “Apes” concept that stays unchanged.
 
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