Tag Archives: blu-ray

Miyazaki's Totoro Flies to the Rescue

Blu-Ray Review: My Neighbor Totoro

by Dan Fields

Although not the sole director at Japan’s Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki is the most prolific, and the author of the animation studio’s most popular works, including Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Academy Award winner Spirited Away. In addition, the face of his creation Totoro became the Ghibli production logo.

My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro), first released in 1988, was a moderate success in its original run but became a huge domestic after subsequent TV airings. Many of you already familiar with the film in English will have seen a translated version from 1993, but since then the Walt Disney studio has made a deal to handle distribution of Studio Ghibli films in this market. Talk about joining forces.

With its new translation of Totoro, Disney has taken the time to cast and direct great performers. Rather than re-brand the humor or rewrite the jokes, this version seems to preserve the beautiful comedy and pathos of Miyazaki’s original work. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: The Dark Knight Rises

by Dan Fields
First published December 10, 2012 by the California Literary Review
Batman faces Bane in the Dark Knight Rises

© 2012 Warner Brothers/DC Comics
Photo by Ron Phillips

This year, the latest chapter of an enduring legend bids us farewell. Christopher Nolan, whose unexpected helming of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight helped boost him as a filmmaking force, brought his vivid interpretation of the Caped Crusader to a stunning conclusion. Though occasionally problematic in many of the same ways at its predecessors, The Dark Knight Rises achieves new levels of excitement and emotional satisfaction as it brings its legend full circle. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: The Cabin In The Woods

by Dan Fields
First published September 19, 2012 by the California Literary Review

The Cabin In The Woods (2012) Blu-Ray disc

© 2012 Lionsgate

This super-secret brainchild of screenwriters Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon came shrouded as carefully as Super 8, surrounded by many a dark rumor but giving maddeningly little away. Goddard and Whedon began laying it out during their time working on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Then, in a blaze of energy, they cobbled the labyrinthine script together in a three-day writing session. After a close call with the bankruptcy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (their original studio), the project nearly became a lost legend. However, Lionsgate swept it up and by all accounts urged the writers to make the film exactly as they wished. Lionsgate has done a lot of good by giving such films a fighting chance, and even when they’ve turned out the odd dog, it seems that Lionsheart has been in the right place. All this took three years, and by the time the movie surfaced, some of the people involved were a lot more famous than they were while shooting this film. Chris Hemworth in particular had been picked up by Marvel for Thor, and was months away from his next Whedon-penned release, The Avengers. Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins, a very big part of this movie’s soul, had bolstered his popularity with strong supporting turns in Burn After Reading and Let Me In (still the best film of 2010, no matter what history says).

The Cabin In The Woods opened to great fanfare and a very polarized reaction. Masquerading as a standard-issue slasher (as the title suggests), it soon goes off the rails into a payoff the audience would never even think of expecting. It pays tribute to the legacy of films like Hellraiser, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween and countless others, mainly by turning the horror genre on its grisly head. This pissed a lot of people off, and to them I can only offer my condolences. For those of us who love the movie (full disclosure), we love it down to its black beating heart. Hopefully our multiple trips to the theater made up for those who warned their friends off the experience. Those sad, sad souls… Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: Battle Royale: The Complete Collection

by Dan Fields
First published March 26, 2012 by the California Literary Review
Battle Royale: The Complete Collection on Blu-Ray

Despite never having been officially banned in North America, Battle Royale suffered de facto censorship through non-distribution, despite its popularity in Japan and among lucky film festival crowds who caught it in rare runs abroad. Over the last decade or so, bootlegs and other mysterious video editions of the film began seeping into Western markets until, clearly, demand won out, and now Kinji Fukasaku’s visionary epitaph (his sixtieth feature film) takes its rightful place in international film history. This is no longer a film you should acquire in whatever third-hand, semi-legal format you can arrange. Battle Royale is yours for the asking in a handy-dandy, thoroughly excellent Blu-Ray package. Continue reading