New on DVD/Blu-Ray: “Act of Valor,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” “John Carter,” “Machine Gun Preacher,” and “Safe House”

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

This week on DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming, and on demand:

Act of Valor The Navy SEALS approached the Bandito Brothers film-makers about telling their story, years before they became headline heroes by finding and killing Osama Bin Laden.  After spending time with the SEALS and learning about their extraordinary missions and their extraordinary devotion to their families, their country, and each other, it became clear that even the biggest stars in Hollywood could never do them justice.  And so they made “Act of Valor,” a thrilling action/adventure film starring active duty U.S. Navy SEALS re-enacting some of their most dangerous missions, with live ammunition.  Every person in uniform you see in the film is currently serving in the U.S. military.  More than once, shooting had to shut down so that the SEALS could get back to work.  The storyline is thin but the action scenes are powerful and the heroes are real.

John Carter It takes a while to get going and is about half an hour too long, but “John Carter” has some spectacular visuals and well-staged action scenes.  Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of the Tarzan novels, also wrote the John Carter: Adventures on Mars series, about a Confederate Army veteran transported to Mars, who becomes involved in battles between two humanoid warring factions (one of which has, natch, a beautiful princess who does not want to marry the leader of the opposing side as her father is urging).  There are also some warlike but intelligent tall, green, egg-laying creatures with an extra pair of arms, and some mysterious robed messenger types with access to super-weapons.

Machine Gun Preacher Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is a substance-abusing biker who became a Christian preacher and then took on African warlords to save children in Sudan.  He finds his skill with a gun is as important to that effort as his faith.

Safe House Denzel Washington is the vodka and Ryan Reynolds is the orange juice in this spy story with top-notch action, middle-notch story, and bottom-notch ending, with a “surprise” plot twist that is obvious from the first 10 minutes.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Like its predecessor, Journey to the Center of the Earth, this is a well-paced and highly entertaining family film made with good humor, panache, and imagination.  Josh Hutcherson returns as Sean Anderson, a teenager whose last expedition was in search of his father.  Refreshingly, it does not take itself seriously.  Even more refreshingly, it takes the idea of adventure seriously, with a welcome reminder that the actual thrill of exploring beats even the most entertaining movie or game
.

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New on DVD/Blu-Ray

Contest: “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”

Posted on May 31, 2012 at 8:00 am

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island  will be released on blu-ray combo pack and digital download June 5 and I have one copy to give away.

The new journey begins when young adventurer Sean (Josh Hutcherson) receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist—a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean’s new stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant and escape before seismic shockwaves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever.  Michael Caine stars as Sean’s adventuring grandfather.

To enter the contest, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Journey” in the subject line and tell me what is the one thing you would bring to the Mysterious Island.  Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only)  Good luck, and I’ll pick a winner on June 4.

NOTE: I use the addresses for prize deliveries only and my policy on potential conflicts is posted.

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Contests and Giveaways

Interview: Michael Caine of “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 8:00 am

Michael Caine stars in the new 3D family movie “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” inspired by the Jules Verne adventure saga.  I spoke to him about what inspired him to take on the role and how it felt to ride on a giant bee.  Don’t forget to enter for a copy of the movie’s activity book!

I really enjoyed the movie!

I saw the movie, and I thought, well, it’s a movie for kids, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It goes down well with the kids and it gets some laughs — me and Duane .   The reason I did the film at all — apart from that it’s a fun script and all that sort of thing — is I have three new grandchildren.  And I never make any movies that children can see!   For their mother, I did “The Muppets Christmas Carol,” when she was a little girl, so this one I did for them.   She was about six or seven and a lot of the movies I’ve made are violent and with gangsters, so I wanted to do something she could see.   It comes around here in England every year, even now.  And I had never made a film in 3D, so that was the other reason.  I thought, I’ve got to do this — I’m nearly retiring, I’m 79 years old, and that was another great reason to do it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, too.  It was great fun.  Where else do I get a chance to ride a giant bee?

Was that in a studio, in front of a green screen?

Yes, but we were really suspended!

Is it different for you as an actor to work in 3D?

No, not at all, it’s all special effects.  You don’t suddenly shoot your arm out and knock off people’s hats.   I thought their use of 3D in this was very clever.

I loved your uniform in the film, really the essence of an explorer.

It was easy!  It didn’t have to fit anywhere, it didn’t have to be clean and pressed, or rather it was pressed the wrong way, very badly!

What was it like to work with Duane “The Rock” Johnson?

He’s the nicest guy.  I suppose if you’re that big you can afford to be nice because no one’s ever going to be nasty to you!  But he’s the gentlest soul.  And he gave me the biggest surprise when he did his song.  When they said, “He’s going to sing the song now,” I thought, “Blimey, what’s he going to do with this?  I’ll bet he can’t sing.”  But he could sing!  He did a lovely little job with it, I thought.  It’s an amazing scene because that’s when the friendship starts.

Your character is very hostile to his character, right from the beginning.  Tell me how you established that relationship on screen.

There’s a sort of familial jealousy because he’s the new kind on the block.  But it was very easy because he’s a good actor.  I know he was an athlete and all that, but he’s done enough acting now to know what he’s doing and we had some good fun with the rows and everything.  They were also gentle rows.  It never looked like he was going to hit me or anything.  Thank God!  I thought the relationships were great in the film.

The production design is also outstanding.

When I first saw my place, made out of the hull of the ship, I thought it was wonderful!  I’ve never done a film like that before.  The closest I’ve come is “Batman.”  But that’s more grown-up, that’s not for little children.

It reminded me a little bit of one of my favorite of your films, “The Man Who Would Be King” because of the sense of adventure. 

I know what you mean!  Setting out to find your destination.  It was a journey — I wonder if there will be a “Journey 3?”

Are you going to do a sequel?

I’ll be 81 or 82 by then.  They’re going to the moon.  Not sure if I’ll want to spend three months in Iceland or something!

Where was this one filmed?

This was filmed in Hawaii in the English winter and we all got home for Christmas — another reason for doing it.  Hawaii has the strangest jungle.  It’s like an African jungle but because it is 2500 miles from the nearest land there’s nothing in it.  No insects, mosquitos, animals, reptiles, birds, nothing.  It’s quite weird because you go through this great big jungle and there isn’t a sound or a movement or anything.  Very spooky but at least you don’t get bitten or attacked.  There’s a couple of rats and snakes brought in by outsiders.

What was the toughest part of filming?

The most difficult part was the days in the deep jungle, walking uphill.  I am tough so it’s okay.

 I liked the way it was an adventure film with something to say about the relationships and especially what it means to be a father.

I was amazed at how a movie of this type, an adventure story for kids, the scriptwriters really went into the relationships.

What made you want to be in the movies?

I am the world’s biggest movie fan.  I used to watch a movie every day after school and I’ve seen every movie good, bad, and indifferent that was ever made.  I really am a movie buff.  I went to the movies when I was four, to the children’s show on a Saturday and fell in love with the whole thing.  The first person I ever saw on the screen was The Lone Ranger.  I thought, “I want to be The Lone Ranger.”  They were mostly American movies, because they made the movies for children.  I remember “Bambi” very well and “Snow White.”  The first time I ever cried in a movie was “Bambi.”

If you do make the next chapter and go to the moon, what do you want to see happen?

I’d like to see us get back!

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Actors Interview

Giveaway: Activity Books for “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”

Posted on February 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm

I have some very cool activity books for the new movie, “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” starring Duane “The Rock” Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, and Vanessa Hudgens.  They have puzzles and information about the film.  If you’d like one, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Island” in the subject line and tell me a movie you like featuring one of these four stars.  Don’t forget your address!  Sorry, US entrants only.  I’ll notify the winners via email.

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