Film Review “World War Z”

Starring: Brad Pitt, David Morse and James Badge Dale
Directed by: Marc Forster
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hr 56 mins

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Out on a drive with his family, Gerry Lane (Pitt) suddenly finds himself in gridlocked traffic. For an unknown reason, not a car in Philadelphia is moving. As he gets out to investigate he is greeted by a series of explosions. When the smoke clears the screams begin.

Carried by Pitt’s performance, “World War Z” is a sometimes intense story of the rise of the undead. Having recently retired from his job as a “fixer” for the United Nations, Gerry is recruited by his old boss (Fana Mokoena) to accompany a novice scientist on a journey to hopefully find a cure for what seems to be ailing the flesh eating monsters that now roam the earth freely. The only clue Gerry is given is a cryptic Japanese email, sent a few days before, which included the word “zombie.” Reluctant to leave his family, Gerry is assured that they will be looked after as long as he’s away. If he doesn’t help, he and his family will be removed from their safe zone and left to fend for themselves. Not much of a choice, is it?

It seemed an odd choice to have the director of “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland” direct a film about the zombie apocalypse. But director Forster also has the Bond film “Quantum of Silence” on his resume so he also knows his way around an action piece. There are some nice jolts mixed in with humor. There is also an amazing sequence set aboard a plane that will have you gripping the armrests. Like the zombies of Zack Snyder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” these are not the plodding creatures we are used to. These zombies strike quickly, often in groups. When they’re not happy they let out a screech that sounds like an angry chicken. The premise is fine. It’s the presentation that falters. Shown in a very unnecessary 3D, the film is actually hurt by the process. Action scenes are too dark and many foreground objects are blurred when the focus is pulled to capture the action being featured.

Based on a novel by Max Brooks (Mel’s son…go figure), the story moves across the world as Gerry and his team attempt to find a way to beat the zombies. Pitt is strong and determined, yet vulnerable when it comes to his wife and daughters. Mireille Enos (“The Killing”) is equally strong in the face of her family’s separation. Supporting turns by Morse, Dale and Pierfrancesco Favino, among others, keep the film interesting. Technically, I must give a shout out to the more than 100 makeup artists that helped create the various zombies.


Related Content

Blu-ray Review “War of the Dead”

Directed by: Marko Makilaakso
Starring: Andrew Tiernan, Mark Wingett, Mikko Leppilampi, Jouka Ahola
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Entertainment One
DVD Release Date: January 1, 2013
Run Time: 86 minutes

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Being a sucker for zombie flicks I was anxious to check out “War of the Dead”. Yes there have already been countless films based around zombie wars and Nazi experiments gone array but surely one more couldn’t hurt could it? A slow start and the absence any real recognizable names put this film in the red at the start however at about the 15 minute mark you catch your first glimpse of some zombies and the film starts to take off. Well somewhat.

March 1941. Captain Martin Stone (Andrew Tiernan) leads an American unit on a mission to destroy a secret Nazi underground bunker. Fighting alongside an elite platoon, the soldiers find themselves attacked by the same men they killed in an earlier assault. Now, the remaining officers must struggle to survive against the war’s most terrifying enemy…a flesh hungry army of the living dead.

The overall presentation of the film is decent but far from great. At times scenes appear dark, choppy and are rather chaotic making the film tough to watch especially if you get motion sickness easy. I should also point out that anyone expecting to find Academy Award winning performances from the actors involved should skip this. Though the Blu-Ray version of the film also includes a bonus DVD copy that’s about all you will find in the way of bonuses. Fans of zombie/war films should save their money and continue to wait patiently for the highly anticipated Marc Foster film “World War Z” which is being released in Spring of 2013.

Blu-ray Review “This Means War”

Directed by: McG
Starring: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Running Time: 97 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I have been a fan of the MAD comic strip “Spy vs. Spy” since I was a kid. When I saw this trailer for the first time, I was really excited to see it. When you put Star Trek’s Captain Kirk up against The Dark Knight’s Bane only sweetens the pot.  Unfortunately you then throw in Reese Witherspoon, it all goes bad. The teases you with kick ass action in the opening scenes only to make you wait until the last scene in order to get your second helping.  The in-between included a few laughs but nothing we haven’t seen from the trailer.

The story follows two covert CIA operatives, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), who are also best buddies …that is until they both fall for the same girl Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). They wage an all out epic battle against each other for her affection using their super cool CIA surveillance skills and high-tech gadgetry. It’s Spy vs. Spy and may the best spy win!

This Blu-ray included two cuts of the film, one being an extended cut, which runs about seven minutes longer and also  theatrical version.  Besides the Blu-ray disc, there is also a DVD disc and a Digital Copy disc included as well.  The 1080p video resolution looks good especially during the action scenes…well the two only action scenes. It is also presented with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1.  During the action scenes, the audio track also shines with its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

The special features are decent and includes some interesting content.  There is a very honest audio commentary from Director McG, usually not a big fan of his but this works.  There is an epilogue scene taking place at Lauren’s Vegas bachelorette party. There are six deleted scenes, with optional commentary by McG, which run about 15 minutes.  There is also three alternate endings,  also with optional commentary.  There is an alternate opening concept scene, which would have been taken place in Dubai.  There is a funny uncensored Gag Reel. Lastly there is a theatrical trailer.

“War Horse” Blu-ray/DVD Combo Giveaway [ENDED]


Available on Blu-ray™, DVD and On-Demand on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012.

To celebrate the Blu-Ray™ release of “War Horse”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 10 copies of the 2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ +DVD). If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite Spielberg film. This giveaway will be open until Tuesday April 17th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Legendary Academy Award®-winning motion picture director/producer Steven Spielberg presents the critically acclaimed and multi Academy Award®-nominated epic adventure “War Horse” on Blu-ray™, DVD, Digital and On-Demand, April 3. This newest home entertainment release not only enthralls viewers once again with its visually stunning and emotionally heartwarming story on the Blu-ray, but also offers an unprecedented look into the making of the film by Spielberg himself.

2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD)

  • Includes: “War Horse”: The Journey Home An Extra’s Point of View
  • Includes: “War Horse”: The Look

Film Review “This Means War”

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy
Directed by: McG
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 38 mins
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Last week’s “Safe House” gave us a pair of spies that got down and dirty. This week, the boys from the C.I.A. are much more glamorous.

High atop a Hong Kong skyscraper, FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are on a mission. They’re assignment is to capture an elusive baddie named Heinrich (Til Schweiger) as covertly as they can. Too bad neither of them seem to understand the word “covert.”

Smartly written and cleverly directed by action maestro McG, “This Means War” is a fine combination of romance and comedy with a little bit of action thrown in for good measure. As best friends and partners, Pine and Hardy have a natural chemistry and obvious comradeship that radiates from the screen. Pine, with the same “bad boy” twinkle in his eyes that made him a perfect Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” plays FDR as the typical free and easy bachelor. He has a sweet sports car and a sweeter apartment (apparently the spy game pays very well). His cover identity is that of a cruise ship captain, which allows him to be anywhere in the world at anytime. As divorced dad Tuck (his ex-wife couldn’t believe she married the only travel agent that actually travels), Hardy shows another facet of his talent by proving himself a gifted comedian. I really can’t rave any more about Tom Hardy then I did last year in my review of “Warrior.” Suffice it to say this guy can apparently do it all.

Bored with his personal life, Tuck arranges to meet Lauren (Witherspoon) after seeing her on an Internet dating site. The meeting goes well but, as she’s heading home, Lauren meets FDR in a video store. Soon, unknowingly, both men find themselves infatuated with the same woman. When they discover this, they use the agency and their underlings to spy on Lauren. They agree to a gentleman’s bet, vowing to step aside if Lauren shows feelings for the other. But as each man find himself drawn to Lauren the lengths they will go to in order to win her heart grow more and more ridiculous. Soon the two are more interested in topping one another than finding the dastardly Heinrich. But not to worry… Mr. Heinrich will find them.

McG has done some amazing action work in films like “Terminator Salvation” and the “Charlie’s Angels” series. Here, like in “We Are Marshall,” he finds the human side of the camera, inviting us to meet and enjoy being around these characters. But that’s not to say that the action-crazy McG isn’t in the house! He’s here…and in as fine a form as ever.

The supporting cast also does well, especially Angela Bassett as the two friends’ boss and Chelsea Handler as Lauren’s friend and advice giver. I’ve read that some of Handler’s more “R” – rated comments were cut from the film to ensure the “PG 13” rating. May have to wait for the DVD to hear what I missed.


Related Content

Film Review “War Horse”

Starring:  Jeremy Irvine, Emma Watson and David Thewlis
Directed by:  Steven Spielberg
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  2 hours 26 mins
Touchstone Pictures

Our Score: 5 out 5 stars

Sometimes you know what you need.  And sometimes you know what you want.  This is never more true in the case of Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) and his family.  Peter is a good man who often finds his judgement clouded by a touch of the grape (or that strange combination of barley and hops).  Ted and his son, Albert (Irvine) have come to town to buy a plow horse.  To describe their farmland as rocky is an understatement and the horse they need must be strong and stout.  Of course, against all reason, Ted bids on and purchases a beautiful thoroughbred.  Fast as lightning and pretty to look at, Ted’s neighbors, as well as his disapproving wife (Watson) just shake their head.  But, as they will all soon discover, this is surely no ordinary horse.

Told with the emotion-gripping style that is a trademark of many Steven Spielberg films, “War Horse” is based on the popular 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo.  The book is enjoying a great afterlife as it’s also the basis for a popular play currently running on Broadway.  Adapted by British screenwriters Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”) and Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”), the film captures the emotions of the book perfectly.  Despite his mother’s doubt at the choice of horse, named Joey by Albert, the horse learns to pull a plow, digging rows and rows of rock-packed earth to prepare for planting.  Albert also learns that before his father became the sad, broken man he appears to be, he had fought for England and received several medals.  He finds his father’s campaign ribbon and ties it to Joey’s bridle.  When World War I begins, Joey is “leased” by an officer, who promises to return him after the war.  A war that seems will never end.

Has there been another director in the history of film who could manipulate the heartstrings as well as Steven Spielberg?  Whether it’s Elliot and E.T., Oskar Schindler and the 1100 Jews or Captain Miller saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has managed to pull us into his films, as if we ourselves were the main character.  He is assisted here by a stellar cast and a remarkable animal.  As the bickering but loving Narracotts, Mullan and Watson seem like they’ve been together for years.  After she’s been disappointed for the umpteenth time, Ted asks his wife if she hates him.  “I may hate you more,” she tells him, “but I’ll never love you less.”  Irvine, in his motion picture debut, is equally strong.  His love for Joey has no boundaries and you can understand why he embarks on the mission he does to find him.

As he did on “Saving Private Ryan,” Spielberg takes us in and up close to the horrors of war.  There is one great scene where the mounted troops charge a German outpost, the sound of the horses thundering hooves matching the beating hearts of their riders.  The cinematography, by Spielberg’s long time Oscar winning DP Janusz Kaminski is breathtaking, as is John Williams spot on musical score.  The one complaint I’ve heard about the film is that the battle scenes seem tame.  They are intense but they’re nothing like the ones in “Saving Private Ryan,” toned down, in my estimation, so that the young readers of the book could see the film.

Official Poster from Spielberg’s “War Horse”

Above is the official one sheet for DreamWorks Pictures’ WAR HORSE.

Website and Mobile site:
Like us on Facebook:

Follow us on Twitter:

Genre:  Drama
Rating:   PG-13
U.S. Release date: December 28, 2011
Cast:  Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell
Director:  Steven Spielberg
Producers:  Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Executive Producers:  Frank Marshall, Revel Guest
Screenplay by:  Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
Based on the book by: Michael Morpurgo
and the recent stage play by Nick Stafford, produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot

DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.

The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. “War Horse” is one of the great stories of friendship and war— a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is currently on Broadway. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history.

DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War.


Related Content