Friday, September 30, 2011

"Chuck Versus the Muuurder" and "Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff" Flashback Reviews (Season 4 Episodes 19 and 20)

Happy Friday Chucksters!  Since it’s the end of the week, we’re continuing our look back at the fourth season of NBC’s Chuck with re-posts of reviews I wrote for YourHub this spring.  These “double-feature” reviews will continue to go up each Friday until the fifth (and final) season premiere on Friday, October 28.  You’ll notice that’s a change from before – NBC has just announced they’ve moved the premiere back a week from the 21st to the 28th.  So adjust your plans accordingly – I’ll have to compensate with an extra article the week between the end of these flashback reviews and the start of the season.  Today we enter the home stretch with episodes nineteen and twenty, “Chuck Versus the Muuurder” and “Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff.”

Spoilers for both episodes after the jump...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

IFS Review: "Buck" is a stirring portrait of a true American hero

Film Rating: A-

As some of my readers may know, I am currently a Film and Journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder.  One of the perks of being a film major here is the International Film Series (IFS), the University’s historic art-house series programmed since 1941.  It’s been going on for a week or two now, and I’ve only just cleared my schedule enough to start attending films.  I’ll be seeing as many of the movies as I can, and reviewing them here on the blog.  For more information about the films, showtimes, and locations, visit www.internationalfilmseries.com

Today I am reviewing the documentary “Buck,” which played a few weeks ago in Denver at the Chez Artiste.  Review following after the jump…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Early Review: "What's Your Number?" is a despicable, unfunny romantic comedy; so by genre standards, it's not that bad

Film Rating: D

The romantic comedy genre is a plague on our society.  These films are poorly written, lazily executed, send promising young thespians spiraling down dark and messy career paths, convey inaccurate and insulting messages about gender roles, and are never, ever funny.  I fear that once humanity is extinct and aliens come to survey our uninhabited planet, they will find old DVDs of films like “Monster-in-Law,” “Failure to Launch,” “Fool’s Gold,” or any of the hundreds of other pitiable entries in the genre, and will dismiss our species as a shallow, craven misappropriation of body tissue, burning the soil we once walked in just to remove every last vestige of our culture.

By the standards of the genre, “What’s Your Number?” could be worse.  They could have cast Matthew McConaughey in the male role instead of Chris Evans, or Katherine Heigl in lieu of Anna Farris.  Had that been the case, this review would not exist, because I would have run screaming out of the theatre twenty minutes in looking for the nearest bridge to jump from.  The rant continues after the jump...

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Final Thoughts on the Set – The force will be with you, always…


I’ve spent the last ten days reviewing the Star Wars: Complete Saga Blu-Ray set in extreme, disc-by-disc detail.  Now that we’ve reached the end of this (excessively?) long road, what are my final, overall impressions of the set?  Was it worth the wait?  Is this the definitive presentation of the saga?  Have the movies ever looked this good?  Did the bonus features live up to expectations, and what features are missing from this set?  Which DVDs will you have to keep around to have a complete Star Wars archive?

Answers to all these questions and more after the jump….

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #9 – The “Star Wars” Documentaries and Spoofs – That’s no moon…that’s a Blu-Ray Disc!

As explained in this post, I’m reviewing the Star Wars Blu-Ray set disc-by-disc, and today, we finish out the set with the third of three bonus feature discs, this one containing numerous documentaries from throughout the franchise’s lifespan – including the long-awaited feature about Star Wars cosplayers! (okay, maybe not so much…) I’ll go through all the included features and give you my thoughts on their quality, organization, etc.

Review of Disc #9 – The “Star Wars” Documentaries, coming up after the jump… 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Doctor Who" Review - "Closing Time" (Series 6 Episode 12)


Once again, I’m a bit late to the party this week, having been too busy last night to write about the penultimate Doctor Who of the season.  Having gotten around to it this morning, I was very impressed – this is one of my favorite hours of the year.  And I promise that my review of the finale will be up in a prompt, timely fashion next Saturday night.  I hope...

SPOILERS for “Closing Time” coming up after the jump…

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #8 – The Original Trilogy Archives – Happy Life Day!


As explained in this post, I’m reviewing the Star Wars Blu-Ray set disc-by-disc, and today, we take a look at the second of three bonus feature discs, this one containing archives pertaining to the Original Trilogy – including all the long-awaited deleted scenes!  I explored the layout and kinds of content found on these Archive discs in yesterday’s post, so today, we’ll mostly focus on the features themselves.  This being the Original trilogy, there’s a lot of amazing material to sift through.

Review of Disc #8 – The Original Trilogy Archives, coming up after the jump…  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Monthly Ten Podcast #13 - Star Wars Celebration Part 3 - Ranking the Films, Blu-Ray Bonuses, and Special Editions


With my Blu-Ray review of the Star Wars: Complete Saga set only a few days from completion, we’re nearing the end of Star Wars Month – and that means today sees the release of the third and final Star Wars-themed Monthly Ten Podcast.  Two weeks ago, we discussed our favorite characters, last week we talked about how the prequels could have been improved, and this week, we tackle a number of topics, including Bonus Features on the Blu-Ray set, the best and worst parts of the Special Editions, and ranking the six movies from best-to-worst.  Remember to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and if you already have, it should automatically download on your ‘podcasts’ page when you open the program.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, it’s easy, free, and can be done at any time!  Or….


We had so much fun this month, and while I think it will be a while before you hear another three-podcast month, Sean and I are overjoyed to have had this opportunity to express our love for Star Wars.  This final part was especially amusing, as we got to share our incredulity over a Boba Fett cartoon, continue discussing the worst aspects of the prequels, and gush over the original trilogy. 

Enjoy the show!  

Review: Smart, powerfully-acted "Moneyball" is a rewarding look at the dark side of baseball


Film Rating: A–

I love baseball.  It’s far and away my favorite sport, and the only one I follow regularly (as a fan of the Colorado Rockies, if you were wondering).  Yet with its slow-paced, thoughtful nature, baseball is easily the least suitable for film among all major sports.  Large chunks of hockey or football films can glide by on the visceral thrills provided by most match-ups, but baseball doesn’t have that luxury.  As such, I really can’t think of a baseball movie I enjoy off the top of my head, and it’s not at all a stretch to say that Bennet Miller’s “Moneyball” is the finest film about the sport I’ve ever witnessed. Continue reading after the jump...

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #7 – The Prequel Trilogy Archives – Taking our first steps into a larger world...


As explained in this post, I’m reviewing the Star Wars Blu-Ray set disc-by-disc, and today, we take a look at the first of three bonus feature discs, this one containing archives pertaining to the Prequel Trilogy.  I’ll go through all the included features and give you my thoughts on their quality, organization, etc.

Review of Disc #7 – The Prequel Trilogy Archives, coming up after the jump…  

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil" and "Chuck Versus the A-Team" Flashback Review (Season 4 Episodes 17 and 18)

Happy Friday Chucksters!  We’re taking a break from Star Wars Blu-Ray Reviews for the moment for another round of Chuck season 4 double feature review.  These re-posts of reviews I wrote for YourHub last year will continue to go up each Friday until the fifth (and final) season premiere on Friday, October 21.  Small alterations to the reviews have been made, but please keep in mind these were all written the night the episodes aired, so they may read as somewhat out of date.  Today, we continue with episode seventeen, “Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil,” and episode eighteen, “Chuck Versus the A-Team.”

Spoilers for both episodes after the jump...

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #6 - "Return of the Jedi" – Witness the full glory of Salacious Crumb in High-Definition!


As explained in this post, I’m reviewing the Star Wars Blu-Ray set disc-by-disc, and today, we finish off the film portion of the review with Disc #6, which contains Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.  I’ll review the film itself, discuss the video and audio quality, extras, and more, a trend which will continue throughout the week as we continue through each disc in the set. 

Review of Disc #6 – Return of the Jedi, coming up after the jump…  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #5 - "The Empire Strikes Back" - I’ve just made a deal that will keep the empire out of this Blu-Ray disc forever!


As explained in this post, I’m reviewing the Star Wars Blu-Ray set disc-by-disc; today, we discuss the best film in the series by analyzing the contents of Disc #5, which contains Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (I’ve just made a deal that will keep the empire out of this Blu-Ray disc forever…).  I’ll review the film itself, discuss the video and audio quality, extras, and more, a trend which will continue throughout the week as we continue through each disc in the set. 

Review of Disc #5 – The Empire Strikes Back, coming up after the jump…  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #4 - "A New Hope" – The Droids you’re looking for in HD!

You know the drill – we’re going disc-by-disc through the Star Wars Blu-Ray set, and we may have reached the best part: the original trilogy in HD!!!!!!  Today, we’re analyzing the contents of Disc #4, which contains Episode IV: A New Hope (and by far the easiest, most obvious headline in this entire eleven-part opus).  I’ll review the film itself, discuss the video and audio quality, extras, and more, a trend which will continue throughout the week as we continue through each disc in the set. 

Review of Disc #4 – A New Hope, coming up after the jump…  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Doctor Who" Review - "The God Complex" (Series 6 Episode 11)


I had a very busy weekend working my through the Star Wars Blu-Ray box-set, which prevented me from getting to Saturday night’s Doctor Who until this morning.  After seeing the episode, I’m kicking myself for waiting this long, because this is an hour that made me very positive about the direction of the current season. 

SPOILERS for “The God Complex” coming up after the jump…

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #3 - "Revenge of the Sith" – This Blu-Ray is beautiful because it’s so in love…

We’re on day four of my comprehensive review of the 9-disc Star Wars Blu-Ray box set, so you know the drill by now: As explained in this post, I’m reviewing the set disc-by-disc, and today, we continue by analyzing the contents of Disc #3, which contains Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  I’ll review the film itself, discuss the video and audio quality, extras, and more, a trend which will continue throughout the week as we continue through each disc in the set. 

Review of Disc #3 – Revenge of the Sith, coming up after the jump…

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #2 - "Attack of the Clones" – Now with love speeches about sand in HD Audio!

It’s finally here!  As explained in this post, the month of September is officially Star Wars Month on the Monthly Ten Podcast and JonathanLack.Com, all in honor of one of the most anticipated home video releases of all time – the Star Wars saga on Blu-Ray Disc!  The 9-disc has finally arrived, and I’m devoting eleven days to reviewing the entire box set in depth.  Today, we continue our disc-by-disc run-through of the set by analyzing the contents of Disc #2, which contains Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I’ll review the film itself, discuss the video and audio quality, extras, and more, a trend which will continue throughout the week as we continue through each disc in the set.  

Review of Disc #2 – Attack of the Clones, coming up after the jump…  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: Disc #1 - "The Phantom Menace" - Finally, Jar-Jar Binks in Hi-Def!


It’s finally here!  As explained in this post, the month of September is officially Star Wars Month on the Monthly Ten Podcast and JonathanLack.Com, all in honor of one of the most anticipated home video releases of all time – the Star Wars saga on Blu-Ray Disc!  The 9-disc has finally arrived, and I’m devoting eleven days to reviewing the entire box set in depth.  Today, we begin our disc-by-disc run-through of the set by analyzing the contents of Disc #1, which contains Episode I: The Phantom Menace.  I’ll review the film itself, discuss the video and audio quality, extras, and more, a trend which will continue for the next eight days as we continue through each disc in the set. 

Review of Disc #1 – The Phantom Menace, coming up after the jump…  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: "Drive" is a haunting, powerful work of (hyper-violent) art

Film Rating: A

When discussing films, words like “powerful,” “disturbing,” “troubling,” “haunting,” and “unforgettable” tend to be thrown around ad-nauseum.  Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” is the rare film that truly earns all of those descriptors and then some.  Its visceral impact is such that I was literally shaking on my way out of the auditorium, feeling like I really needed a hug, or possibly an on-site therapist to remind and reassure me that the LA mafia isn’t out for my blood.  It’s an endlessly challenging film, one that left me speechless and without any solid opinion of what I’d just seen, a disorientation so severe that I am currently on my fourth attempt at starting this review.  More after the jump...

The Monthly Ten Podcast #12 - Star Wars Celebration Part 2 - How The Prequels Could Have Been Improved

Now that the Blu-Ray box set is out, Star Wars Month is officially in full swing here on JonathanLack.Com!  On The Monthly Ten Podcast, we’re celebrating with a three-week, three-part Star Wars Extravaganza!  Last week, we discussed our favorite characters, and this week, we count down The Top Ten Ways the Prequels Could Have Been Improved.  Remember to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and if you already have, it should automatically download on your ‘podcasts’ page when you open the program.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, it’s easy, free, and can be done at any time!  Or….


We had a lot of fun with this second installment, especially during our discussion of bad prequel dialogue and our musings on what Star Wars would look like if Arnold Schwarzenegger played the villain.  Remember to come back next Saturday, the 24th, to hear us close things up by ranking the six films best to worst, talking about the biggest improvements and detractions of the Special Editions, and discuss the new Blu-Ray set.  My eleven-day written review of the set has begun, and you can read Part 1 here.

Enjoy the show! 

"Star Wars" on Blu-Ray: First Impressions – Is the Force strong with this set?

It’s finally here!  As explained in this post, the month of September is officially Star Wars Month on the Monthly Ten Podcast and JonathanLack.Com, all in honor of one of the most anticipated home video releases of all time – the Star Wars saga on Blu-Ray Disc!  The 9-disc set arrived yesterday, and I’m devoting eleven days to reviewing the entire box set in depth.  Today, I’ll be giving you my first impressions of the set, and laying the groundwork for the rest of this massive review.  For the next nine days, I’ll be going through disc-by-disc to report on the films, video and audio quality, extras, and more.  On the last day, I’ll give you my final, closing remarks on the set. 

First impressions after the jump, along with pictures of the packaging and discs! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Chuck Versus the CAT Squad" and "Chuck Versus the Masquerade" Flashback Reviews (Season 4 Episodes 15 and 16)

Happy Friday Chucksters!  Tomorrow is the start of my eleven-day Star Wars Blu-Ray review, but before that, here’s another Chuck season 4 double feature review.  These re-posts of reviews I wrote for YourHub last year will continue to go up each Friday until the fifth (and final) season premiere on Friday, October 21.  Small alterations to the reviews have been made, but please keep in mind these were all written the night the episodes aired, so they may read as somewhat out of date (especially when I predict the cancellation that didn't happen).  Today, we continue with episode fifteen, “Chuck Versus the CAT Squad,” and episode sixteen, “Chuck Versus the Masquerade.”

Spoilers for both episodes after the jump...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Doctor Who" Review - "The Girl Who Waited" (Series 6 Episode 10)


I was away from the TV last night (reviewing the film “Contagion”), so I couldn’t get to the new episode of Doctor Who until this morning.  We may be on a similar schedule next week, but I’ll make an effort to get these reviews out the night of for the last two episodes, or at the very least, the finale. 

For now, SPOILERS for Tom MacRae’s “The Girl Who Waited” coming up after the jump…

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: Soderbergh's "Contagion" paints a terrifying, realistic portrait of a worldwide epidemic


Film Rating: A-

Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” is an exquisite example of how narrative structure informs the success of a film.  It aspires to illustrate what the realistic impact of a worldwide epidemic would be in modern times and, in doing so, unsettle and provoke the audience.  To achieve this, Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns employ not a classical three-act structure, but a web of interrelated stories occurring across the globe that highlight every major facet of the crisis.  The film moves linearly, but not traditionally: there is little in the way of exposition or set-up, no one can be defined as the ‘main character’ or protagonist, there is no antagonist (unless one counts the virus itself as such), characters are not easily categorized as “good” or “bad,” and the scenario does not progress courtesy of calculated set-ups and pay-offs, but through a series of natural, often ineffable cause and effect.  By employing this sort of stripped-down, grounded narrative structure, the film achieves absolute realism.  This, above all else, is what makes “Contagion” such a wildly terrifying, thought-provoking, and rewarding experience.   Continue reading after the jump...

The Monthly Ten Podcast #11 - Star Wars Celebration Part 1 - The Top Ten "Star Wars" Characters!


I’m very excited to announce the start of Star Wars Month with the release of the latest episode of The Monthly Ten Podcast.  For those new to the blog: I host this monthly podcast wherein I and a guest star count down the top ten somethings in a given month.  This month, my friend, co-host, and Star Wars guru Sean Chapman joins me for the first of three Star Wars themed podcasts for the month of September.  Parts 2 and 3 will be coming over the next two weeks, and in this installment, we discuss our Top Ten Favorite Star Wars Characters.  Remember to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and if you already have, it should automatically download on your ‘podcasts’ page when you open the program.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, it’s easy, free, and can be done at any time!  Or….


We hope you enjoy this month’s show – we love talking about Star Wars, and we’ve packed this show with plenty of lively discussion, surprise sound-bites, and more!  Next Saturday, the 17th, we’ll be discussing the Top Ten Ways the Prequel Trilogy Could Have Been Improved, and in two weeks, on the 24th, we’ll close things up by ranking the six films best to worst, talking about the biggest improvements and detractions of the Special Editions, and discuss the new Blu-Ray set.  My written review of the set will be published in eleven parts starting next Saturday. 

Enjoy the show!

Please note that the Monthly Ten Podcast contains explicit language not intended for young audiences.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Chuck Versus the Push Mix" and "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible" Flashback Reviews (Season 4 Episodes 13 and 14)


Happy Friday Chucksters!  Since it’s the end of the week, we’re continuing our look back at the fourth season of NBC’s Chuck with re-posts of reviews I wrote for YourHub last year.  These “double-feature” reviews will continue to go up each Friday until the fifth (and final) season premiere on Friday, October 21.  Small alterations to the reviews have been made, but please keep in mind these were all written the night the episodes aired, so they may read as somewhat out of date (especially since the first of these reviews discusses how Chuck has just debuted in 2011, when in actuality, that happened a long time ago).  Today we end one half of the season and begin another with episodes thirteen and fourteen, Chuck Versus the Push Mix and Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible.

Spoilers for both episodes coming up after the jump...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Announcing “Star Wars” Month on The Monthly Ten Podcast and JonathanLack.Com

On September 16th, the entire six-film Star Wars saga is finally coming to Blu-Ray Disc in what is surely one of the most anticipated box sets of all time.  The films have never been presented in high-definition before, and if that wasn’t enough to energize fans, the set will also come with three discs of bonus features, including the long-awaited appearance of all the original trilogy deleted scenes!  It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan, and you can surely count me as a lifelong follower of the films.

That’s why I’m very happy to announce Star Wars Month here on JonathanLack.Com.  Starting this Saturday and continuing through the rest of September, we’re going to have a ton of great Star Wars content for you to read and listen to, including a three-part Star Wars celebration on The Monthly Ten Audio Podcast (co-hosted by Sean Chapman), an eleven-day review of the upcoming Blu-Ray box set, along with other articles and features expressing our love for the franchise. 

Details and Dates for all of “Star Wars Month” coming up after the jump…

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Early Review: "Warrior" is a unique, blindingly brilliant fighting drama

Film Rating: A

In the opening sequence of Gavin O’Connor’s mixed martial arts drama “Warrior,” former boxer Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) is found driving through the streets of his native Pittsburgh, listening to Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” on tape.  The audiobook resurfaces as a key motif throughout the film, gradually revealing itself as a commentary on the lives of our protagonists, Paddy and his sons Brendan and Tommy.  Like Captain Ahab, all have experienced significant trauma in their pasts and have a goal in mind to reclaim their destinies.   The men of the Conlon family are single-mindedly obsessed with achieving their goals despite knowing full well the kinds of emotional and physical pain they will receive in the process – and even after experiencing the deepest fathoms of this pain, they continue to move forward.

“Warrior” embraces that pain on every level, delivering heart-wrenching, honest performances, uncompromisingly brutal fight choreography, and a story more interested in critiquing and dissecting the art of the fight than embracing it as a means to inspire the audience.  It plays by genre conventions while knocking them down flat, and for every punch it dishes out to the characters, it sends another equally brutal one straight through the viewers’ heart, on and off the ring.  Simply put, “Warrior” is one of the most unique, raw, and emotionally devastating sports dramas I’ve ever seen, and of the best films to hit theatres this year.  Continue reading after the jump...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Doctor Who" Review - "Night Terrors" (Series 6 Episode 9)


Having returned last week with a real cracker of a mid-season premiere, the sixth series of Doctor Who continues with episode nine, "Night Terrors."  A spoiler-filled review of the hour coming up after the jump...

Friday, September 2, 2011

"Chuck Versus the Balcony" and "Chuck Versus the Gobbler" Flashback Reviews (Season 4 Episodes 11 and 12)


Happy Friday Chucksters!  Since it’s the end of the week, we’re continuing our look back at the fourth season of NBC’s Chuck with re-posts of reviews I wrote for YourHub last year.  These “double-feature” reviews will continue to go up each Friday until the fifth (and final) season premiere on Friday, October 21.  Small alterations to the reviews have been made, but please keep in mind these were all written the night the episodes aired, so they may read as somewhat out of date (especially since the first of these reviews discusses how Chuck has just debuted in 2011, when in actuality, that happened a long time ago).  Today we hit the season’s mid-point with episodes eleven and twelve, Chuck Versus the Balcony and Chuck Versus the Gobbler.

Spoilers for both episodes after the jump…