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Screening Room DVDs: “50/50” and “Real Steel”

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50/50
RUSS
Joseph Gordn-Levitt, Seth Rogan and Anna Kendrick star in "50/50," and unlikely comedy about a 27-year-old man who is diagnosed with spinal cancer. The story was inspired by the real life cancer battle waged by the movie's screenwriter, Will Reiser.
SHAWN
And it's really funny. "50/50" is the rare comedy that doesn't force the humor. The movie succeeds because the characters are real and the dialog is authentic. Loved the interaction between Joesph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan. And loved the way the relationship between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendrick unfolded naturally. Spot on.
RUSS
The filmmakers walk a tricky tightrope to find a balance between the humor and seriousness of the situation. For the most part, they succeed. Rogan is involved, so the comedy is coarse and low brow as you would expect, but Gordon-Levitt is very likable as our afflicted hero, Kendrick is appealing as his inexperienced therapist and there are solid supporting performances from Bryce Dallas Howard and Angelica Houston. While it isn't completely successful, "50/50" is still better than the odds would indicate.
SHAWN
Extras will include an audio commentary with the filmmakers, deleted scenes and a story of "50/50" featurette.
RUSS
3 out of 5 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN
4 out of 5 Popcorn Bags
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
RUSS
"Paranormal Activity 3" is the latest in the fake 'found footage' horror franchise. It's a creepy entry that stays very true to the template, but is actually a bit better than the original. If anxiety equals entertainment, then this one is for you.
SHAWN
I just found this installment to be blah. "Paranormal Activity 3" is better produced and has a much stronger storyline than the previous two but just isn't that scary or interesting. or is it that the shock factor is just gone? Fans will love it and admittedly these types of movies work best in the theater with a crowd. But if you are craving cheap thrills here you go. Boo!  The DVD release will include an Unrated Version of the Film, as well as a digital copy of the unrated version. The Blu-ray release will also include the original theatrical cut of the film, as well as some "Lost Tape." There is also a director's cut. Really!
RUSS
3 out of 5 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN
2 out of 5 Popcorn Bags
REAL STEEL
RUSS
Rock 'em, sock 'em, the robots have arrived. "Real Steel" is a beautifully produced action flick that plays like 'Transformers meets Rocky.' Hugh Jackman stars as a former boxer who, in the near future, scrapes out a living by working with pugilistic androids. Jackman is appealing and young Dakota Goyo is very strong has his willful son. Evangeline Lilly is impressive in support, too. But "Real Steel" works as well as it does because of sharp direction and editing. It ain't art, but it's close enough for the 10-year-old kid in all of us. 
SHAWN
"Real Steel" is real fun. Yes, it's "Transformers" meets "Rocky" and yes the story is so universal it's almost predictably bland. But you just can't hate on it or Hugh Jackman who does his best to make "Real Steel' a totally likable experience. Not many extras on the regular DVD but the Blu-ray is loaded. You get everything from 360-degree turnarounds of the robots to Sugar Ray Leonard talking about his input on making the fight scenes realistic as a consultant on the film.

RUSS
3 out of 5 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN
3 out of 5 Popcorn Bags

THE WHISTLEBLOWER
RUSS
Oscar winner Rachel Weisz stars in "The Whistleblower," a political thriller about a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia who uncovers a brutal sex trafficking ring. Loosely based on a true story, this achingly earnest drama exposes some extensive corruption and high-level cover-ups. While it's extremely uneven and preachy, "The Whistleblower" is a workmanlike and unsettling conspiracy thriller.
SHAWN
Important subject matter but a sub-par film that waste a terrific performance delivered by Rachel Weisz. She's good but the movie is weak. The only extra material are cast and crew interviews.
RUSS
3 out of 5 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN
3 out of 5 Popcorn Bags

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