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Chief Justice Michael Stailey's Blog

Chief Justice Michael Stailey • Location: Santa Monica, CA
• Member since: May 2002
• 181 full reviews
• 121 small claims

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Sneak Peek: Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (Coming Sep 21)
June 22nd, 2010 2:13AM

The third installment of the Disney Fairies franchise is due to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray September 21. However, in honor of the Summer Solstice, we've been granted an eight minute sneak peek at the film. If you've read either of my reviews for the first two films -- Tinker Bell and Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure -- you know just how much care and attention has gone into crafting these stories. Gone are the days when Disney would crank out cheap direct-to-DVD adventures just to make a buck. Under the watchful eye of Pixar's John Lasseter, these are classic Disney tales worthy of repeat viewing, and I expect no less from Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.

View this special preview

Synopsis: Years before meeting Wendy and the Lost Boys, Tinker Bell met Lizzy, a little girl with a steadfast belief in the power of pixie dust and the magic land of fairies. During the fairies’'summer visit to the flowering meadows of England, two very different worlds unite for the first time and Tink develops a special bond with a curious child in need of a friend. As her fellow fairies launch a daring rescue, Tinker Bell takes a huge risk, putting her own safety and the future of all fairykind in jeopardy. Experience Disney's astonishing all-new movie about the true power of faith and friendship. Bursting with excitement and imagination, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is magical entertainment for the whole family. You might even learn to fly.

Dennis Hopper (1936-2010)
May 31st, 2010 10:54AM

The silver screen is a bit dimmer today, as another of Hollywood's stars has gone dark. Director/writer/actor/photographer Dennis Hopper lost his battle with prostate cancer on Saturday at the age of 74, leaving behind a 55 year legacy of film and television work and volumes of wild and crazy stories from his escapes off the set. The Kansas native produced four children, five ex-wives, and more than 115 feature films. True, a great deal of them won't be easily recalled, but this two-time Oscar nominee won't soon be forgotten.

Hopper began his career in 1955 with a small part in the James Dean classic Rebel without a Cause. Working steadily, he balanced guest spots on television shows like Bonanza, Twilight Zone, and The Barbara Stanwyck Show, with supporting roles in films like Giant, Cool Hand Luke, and Hang 'em High, not to mention a starring role in Night Tide. But all that changed in 1968, when he began work on Easy Rider. Released in 1969, this counter-culture classic turned the actor into a true filmmaker, winning him the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. While this success never catapulted him onto the A-list alongside pal Jack Nicholson, Hopper carved out a niche all his own; emblazoning on celluloid a laundry list of iconic characters...

* Daniel Morgan -- Mad Dog Morgan (1976)
* Frank Booth -- Blue Velvet (1986)
* Shooter -- Hoosiers (1986)
* Huey Walker -- Flashback (1990)
* King Koopa -- Super Mario Bros. (1993)
* Clifford Worley -- True Romance (1993)
* Howard Payne -- Speed (1994)
* Deacon -- Waterworld (1995)
* Robert Nile -- The Target (2002)
* Victor Drazen -- 24: Season One (2002)
* Ben Cendars -- Crash: Season One (2009)

Dennis Hopper was an artistic force to be reckoned with, and he will be missed.

Gary Coleman (1968-2010)
May 30th, 2010 1:27PM

The troubled life of actor Gary Coleman ended abruptly on Friday. The 42 year old suffered a head injury earlier in the week, leading to a brain hemorrhage which left him in a coma. His wife and family then made the difficult to terminate life support. The Chicago area native's visibility skyrocketed with the Harris Bank "Hubert Doll" campaign, gaining the attention of producer Norman Lear. Celebrated guest roles on The Jeffersons and Good Times ultimately landed the precocious young actor his own series, Diff'rent Strokes, racking up 184 episodes over eight seasons, and creating a beloved character who crossed over onto other series such as Silver Spoons, The Facts of Life, and Amazing Stories. However, like many child stars of that era, Gary's post-pubescent life was filled with more problems than prosperity. Battles with his parents over money, anger management issues, domestic violence charges, and very little real acting work left him broken and bitter. Ten years after Diff'rent Strokes wrapped, Gary reprised his role as Arnold Jackson-Drummond on an episode of Will Smith's The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and it appeared as though a comeback may be in the making. Unfortunately, it didn't amount to anything more than Gary playing himself in cameo roles, comedy sketches, game shows, reality television series, and even being parodied in the Broadway show Avenue Q. Perhaps now he can find some much needed peace.

Video: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
March 25th, 2010 7:26PM

Universal Studios Orlando has just released a new video with more details of and footage from within the most closely guarded secret of their latest expansion -- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opens to the public on June 18, 2010. This E-ticket attraction -- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey --has promised to be unlike anything ever created and here is just a brief glimpse of what you'll see.

For more details, head over to MuggleNet.com, as the editors of the largest Harry Potter fan sites were invited down to Orlando to preview the attraction.

Ghostbusters Blu-ray (Jun 16)
January 7th, 2009 1:55PM

"We got a live one!" The Ghostbusters make their Blur-ray debut June 16, as Sony unveils a 25th anniversary edition with three BD exclusive features, as well as a porting over of the bonus materials from their 2005 gift set release.

All-New Exclusive Special Features include...

* Slimer Mode: Picture-in-Picture Graphical Viewing Experience with an examination of the spook-hunters’ firehouse headquarters, an in-depth exploration of the creatures in the Ghostbusters mythology, behind-the-scenes discussions of making the movie, new interviews with cast, crew, and special effects artists interviews, and "much more." Note: That last tag means they're still working on adding stuff to the mix, or whatever else they plan to include isn't worth much at all.
* Featurette: Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car
* Ghostbusters Garage: Ecto-1 Gallery

Additional Previous Released Special Features include...
* Commentary with Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, and Joe Medjuck
* The Making of Ghostbusters (1984)
* Interviews with Cast and Crew
* SFX Team - Includes Before and After Multi-Angle Explorations
* 10 Deleted Scenes
* Storyboard Comparisons

This release is timed to coincide with the premier of Atari's GHOSTBUSTERS video game, which was demo'd at the 2008 Comic Con. Honestly, it looked impressive, with a story by Ramis, Landis, and Aykroyd. Now, if they can actually get GHOSTBUSTERS 3 into production, that would be something worth shouting about.

BBC unveils Skins Volume 2
January 7th, 2009 1:43PM

Warner Home Video has just announced the release of several high profile DVD and BD releases for 2009.

Mar 10
The Batman Anthology (Blu-ray) ($129.95)
The first four films -- Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman and Robin -- available for the first time on Blu-ray. Includes 18 hrs of bonus material and a digital copy of Batman.

Apr 14
Skins: Volume 2 ($39.98)
On the heels of the Jan 13 release of Series 1 (aka "Volume 1"), BBC Video follows up quickly with Series 2 (or "Volume 2"). This is truly one of the most compelling series to grace television and not to be missed. It's a show about teens written by twenty-somethings, not forty year olds trying to recall what life was like for them as kids. Special features include bonus footage, behind the scenes, and more. BTW, Series 3 moves forward without the original cast, save for Tony's sister Effy and her new friend Pandora.

Apr 21
Squidbillies: Volume 2 ($29.98)
The Adult Swim takeover continues with the second release in the series.

May 5
Doctor Who: The E-Space Trilogy ($49.98)
Another great Tom Baker arc is remastered for DVD. Adric arrives, Romana and K-9 depart, and the Doctor battles vampires in this three disc collection which includes Full Circle, State of Decay, and Warriors Gate.

Disney Blu-ray for 2009
January 7th, 2009 1:13PM

Disney has just announced their Blu-ray lineup for 2009. This is only a partial list with "more to follow," but it shows they're making a concerted effort to release titles across all their many properties. The other important aspect is that many of these releases will also contain a digital copy and/or standard DVD copy, to "future proof" consumer collections. Interesting. We'll see how long this lasts.

Space Buddies (Feb 03)
Miracle at St. Anna (Feb 10)
Pretty Woman (Feb 10)
High School Musical (Feb 17)
High School Musical 3 (Feb 17)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Mar 03)
Pinocchio: Platinum Edition (Mar 10)
Snow White: Platinum Edition (Oct)
Monsters Inc. (TBD)
A Bugs Life (TBD)
Rounders: 10th Anniversary (TBD)
Lost: Seasons One and Two (TBD)
Sin City (TBD)
Microcosmos (TBD)
Greatest Game Ever Played (TBD)
Miracle (TBD)
Sling Blade (TBD)
Pulp Fiction (TBD)
Good Will Hunting (TBD)

Space Buddies (Feb)
High School Musical 3 (Feb)
Pinocchio (Mar)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Apr)
Monsters Inc. (TBD)

Pinocchio (Mar)
Tinker Bell (Apr)
WALL-E (Apr)
High School Musical 3 (TBD)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (TBD)
Monsters Inc. (TBD)

Bringing the blog back
January 7th, 2009 1:00PM

Another survey suggestion was for Verdict to provide more up-to-date DVD news, as it becomes available. You can always find television and movie news at TV Verdict and Cinema Verdict respectively, but we haven't been doing DVD news in quite a while. So, we're going to play with this for a while and see if people find it valuable.

Theatrical Review: Exiled (July 2007)
December 10th, 2007 12:12AM

Editor's Note: This misplaced theatrical pre-release review of the feature film EXILED was writtern by Judge Adam Arseneau back on July 1, 2007

The Charge
Brotherhood, honor, loyalty, assassination--which one is the strongest?

Opening Statement
As directors go, Johnnie To is hot these days. His work has been gaining more and more mainstream attention in North America, his films are in heavy rotation in festivals, and more and more critics are raving about his work. But lately, the man's been hitting home run after home run. His Triad crime films Election and Election 2 have been garnering rave reviews, recognized as some of his strongest work in years.

Now, Exiled, To's newest film completes the hat-trick as a sharp and stylish crime film, one that stays true to its Hong Kong action roots while bending genres like a contortionist.

Facts of the Case
The year is 1998. Like Hong Kong, the Chinese region of Macau is set to be transferred to the People's Republic of China in a few short months, and every person in Macau is desperately trying to make as much money as possible before the regime change.

In the midst of the chaos, Wo (Nick Cheung, Breaking News), a renegade Triad member tries to make a clean start with his wife and newborn baby in Macau, despite having been exiled from the region by his organization. This peace is shattered the moment that Fat (Lam Suet, Kung Fu Hustle) and Blaze (Anthony Wong, Infernal Affairs), two hitmen show up at the front door looking to take Wo out of the picture as punishment for abandoning his boss and then returning. Things complicate further when two additional hitmen, Cat (Roy Cheung, Infernal Affairs II) and Tai (Francis Ng, Infernal Affairs II) show up, coming to the rescue of Wo!

One thing their boss didn't take into consideration, however, is how all five men are good childhood friends. Business has suddenly become at odds with personal lives, and when the dust settles, the friends suddenly realize they need to answer some hard questions as to their own lives and futures in the Triad. Jaded and disillusioned, they find strength in numbers and prepare to set off on a reckless journey of wild abandon--a path running completely at odds with their old Triad boss!

The Evidence
Fans of Johnnie To's The Mission will no doubt see Exiled as a spiritual sequel of sorts; the film revisits many of the same themes of Triad brotherhood and loyalty as well as reuniting Hong Kong actors Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, and Simon Yam. They aren't really sequels, mind you; the characters they portray are not the same. Instead, Exiled feels like a jazz riff, a remix of similar devices and materials put forth fresh and linked thematically, rather than by plot. Director To enjoys making the rough-and-tumble high-octane Triad action films that put Hong Kong cinema on the map, adding dashes of comedy, adventure, romance, and slapstick to his work. He reaches across genres, tossing pinches into his cinematic cauldron like a mad scientist.

The steamy exotic locale of Macau is as unique, cosmopolitan, and multi-influenced as Exiled itself. For those not down with their geography, Macau is one of two special administrative regions of China, the other being Hong Kong. Settled by the Portuguese in the 16th century, it was the oldest European colony in China until 1999, when like its British brother, control of the tiny region was transferred to the People's Republic of China. Macau culture and heritage is a unique blend of Portuguese and Chinese traditions, foods, religions, architecture, and music--in short, the perfect place to set a Johnnie To film. After all, To is a filmmaker who blends numerous styles into his Hong Kong-style crime films, borrowing elements of comedy, romance, slapstick, satire, and social criticism into his work. What better place to set Exiled than in a country itself such a unique blend of various flavors and styles, cultures and influences?

Like a love letter to the genre itself, Exiled is a film enamored with the romanticism of the Hong Kong action film, of notions of brotherhood and allegiances, of honor amongst thieves even at the expense of one's life. The machismo, the brotherly love, the loyalty aspects are all ramped up to 11 in Exiled, almost to the point of self-parody, putting into play a fantastic scenario of loyalties and double-crossings that would put a Shakespearian tragedy to shame. Ironically, Exiled's best moments come in deflating the very expectations the film fetishizes. Where genre tradition insists a gunfight break out, the protagonists sit down and have a friendly meal together. Then at a totally unexpected moment, the bullets fly like lead raindrops. Where one expects tension and high drama, the film takes an almost exorbitant amount of time relaxing and stretching its legs, wandering through good-natured aimless banter and casual moments between characters. Then, suddenly, a whole bunch of people end up dead. Exiled loves having fun with its audience, so much so that all you can do is grin foolishly, hang on, and enjoy the ride. If such a thing even existed, Exiled could very well a shining example of postmodern Hong Kong action cinema.

The extremely recognizable cast of action staples hammers their roles home with precision, having polished and perfected the art in dozens of earlier films.

The cinematography is stylish, exerting both restraint and excess throughout the film as needed. The color scheme, a muted shade of reds and browns highlights the exotic locale, with gunfights often taking place in heavy shadow and grainy bullet time. Hong Kong cinema can be hit-or-miss in the audio/video presentation, but Exiled looks smart on the big screen, with well-translated subtitles.

The Rebuttal Witnesses
With so much style and homage and eroticizing of Hong Kong clichés, common sense gets left behind before the credits even start. Exiled doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense from a traditional narrative standpoint--a reoccurring theme in To's work--and might drive more literal minds to frustration. This is a film where you check your coat and common sense at the door. Don't worry; they'll be waiting for you when the credits roll.

Closing Statement
When I attended the Toronto Film Festival screening of Exiled last year, To got a standing ovation from the audience, and with good reason. Sharp and polished, Exiled is a joyous ride from start to finish, blending comedy, drama, and action cliches together with deft precision and effortless exuberance.

Exiled opens in New York in August. Keep an eye out for it in your theaters.

The Verdict
This is Johnnie To's best work in years. Not guilty.

EDITOR: jstewart
TITLE: Exiled
JUDGE: aarseneau
OPENING DATE: 2007-08-24
STUDIO: Magnolia Pictures


RUN TIME: 110 min


The GHOST HUNTERS are back with all new episodes!
September 27th, 2007 12:37PM

The Sci-Fi Channel original series GHOST HUNTERS returns with all new episodes starting September 26 and every Wednesday this Fall at 9 Eastern /8 Central. And to spice up the action, be sure to tune in for their LIVE Halloween episode from Waverly Hills Sanatorium on October 31. It's sure to make your blood run cold.

Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson: plumbers by day, Ghost Hunters by night. This one-hour weekly docu-soap from the creator/executive producer of American Chopper follows a group of real-life paranormal researchers as they investigate haunted houses throughout the country, encountering every type of imaginable haunting.

Check out this exclusive clip in which Jason and Grant head down into the steam tunnels to investigate reports of unusual noises.

Do you sense a paranormal presence in your own home? Life after death has been a central belief among billions of people for millennia — and contact between this existence and the next is no more far-fetched than sending sound and pictures through the air must have seemed to the ancients. You can report evidence or request an investigation directly at the TAPS site. Sure, those spooky sounds may just be air-vent echoes or water backflow in your pipes -- if so, TAPS is qualified to tell you that, too!

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