Blu Tuesday: R.I.P.D. and Byzantium

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“R.I.P.D.”

WHAT: When Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), a dirty Boston cop with a guilty conscience, is killed during a major drug bust, he’s given the chance to redeem himself by joining the Rest in Peace Department – a group of deceased lawmen from throughout history who protect the living world from those who have escaped Hell.

WHY: As much as I wanted to like this movie, “R.I.P.D.” just isn’t very good. Though it’s based on a comic book of the same name, the film feels eerily like the “Men in Black” series, both in tone and the dynamic between its lead characters. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work nearly as well as its high-concept premise suggests, despite a cast that includes Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker. Bridges, in particular, is the only reason the movie is even remotely watchable, camping it up as a hootin’ and hollerin’ Western lawman that’s partnered with Reynolds’ morose cop. Parker has a few bright moments as their boss, but for the most part, “R.I.P.D.” represents a pretty big waste of talent on several fronts. It’s also incredibly corny, formulaic and features some awful special effects for a summer blockbuster. Still, at a brisk 96 minutes, the movie is almost worth suffering through just to see Bridges do his thing. Almost.

EXTRAS: There’s a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, two alternate openings, a gag reel and several Blu-ray exclusive featurettes, including “Anatomy of a Shootout.”

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

“Byzantium”

WHAT: Mother-daughter vampires Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saorise Ronan) are forced to flee to an English coastal town when they attract some unwanted attention from their own kind. After years of keeping her story a secret, Eleanor finds solace in a sulky teenager named Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), unaware of the grave consequences that doing so will have.

WHY: Neil Jordan may be responsible for adapting one of the most popular vampire stories of the modern age (“Interview with a Vampire”), but that doesn’t give him license to ruin the genre with a film that completely rewrites the classic mythology. That’s because no matter how hard he tries, “Byzantium” doesn’t feel like a vampire movie at all. Fangs have been replaced by a sharp nail that extends to puncture victims’ necks, sunlight is fair game (though they don’t sparkle), and the method of turning into a vampire is terribly unsexy, unfrightening and anticlimactic. More than anything else, though, the film is just really boring. None of the characters are particularly interesting, and the brief flashbacks explaining Clara and Eleanor’s transformation feels like an afterthought. It’s a shame to see actors like Saorsie Ronan and Johnny Lee Miller trapped in such a dull movie, because “Let the Right One In” proved that it’s possible to make a great vampire film that defies conventions; “Byzantium” just isn’t one of them.

EXTRAS: There’s over an hour of interviews with various members of the cast and crew, but that’s the extent of the bonus material.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

  

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Car Review: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ Crew

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The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ Crew is all new from hood to hitch while carrying over base prices. We had the opportunity to drive this beast of a truck for a week and now understand why supply is having a hard time keeping up with demand.

EXTERIOR

Chevy didn’t disappoint, as the finished exterior design of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 4WD LTZ Crew has received rave reviews. Silverado’s design blends strong Chevy truck heritage with a refined, modern aesthetic. The new design is more muscular, functional and aerodynamic. A twin-port grille, full-width bumper and dual power dome hood create a strong presence, which is carried through in sculpted body sides and fender flares. The new Silverado design is about much more than just looks, however. The new front end is engineered to improve sealing for more efficient cooling, while the roof and tailgate spoiler were shaped in the wind tunnel to smooth airflow over the truck for reduced drag. New inlaid doors, which fit into recesses in the bodyside, reduce wind noise for a quieter cab.

Our test vehicle looked sweet from first glance, with improved function from the outside in. Equipment included an EZ lift and lower tailgate; locking tailgate; deep tinted glass; rear wheelhouse liners; chrome body side molding; adjustable with huge turn signal power heated outside mirrors; projector headlamps; 18-inch bright machined aluminum wheels; all-terrain tires; front fog lamps; bed rail projectors; chrome front bumper; rear bumper cornerstep (yes, it’s here!); and front recovery hooks.

INTERIOR

Huge strides were made in the cabin and we just couldn’t get over the room and upscale vibe in this new Chevy truck. The all-new interior of the 2014 Silverado 1500 reflects the same focus on form and function. The upright instrument panel, six-gauge instrument cluster and multiple storage options are tailored specifically to the needs of truck customers. Controls are functional, logically placed and easy to operate with work gloves on. Rear doors on crew cabs are larger for easier entry and exit, and rear doors on double cab models are now hinged at the front for easier access, especially in tight spots. The new Chevrolet MyLink provides easy-to-use connectivity for the job site or family vacation, with natural voice recognition and enough ports and power outlets to support multiple devices. Our LTZ model received an 8-inch high-definition touch screen that enables users to scroll or drag through menus. The MyLink system features intuitive, easy-to-operate controls for major functions. Silverado also features four selectable themes for the display screen and drive information center, which tailor the look of the displays to the taste of the customer.

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Picture of the Day: Betcee in her white panties

Here’s a very sensual photo of Betcee as she poses with just her white panties. Betcee has beautiful and seductive eyes and you have to love the look she’s giving here. Her all-natural figure made her a wonderful model to photograph. She also has a natural elegance about her. Make sure to check out the rest of her shoot!

Betcee in her white panties

  

A chat with UFC fighter Dan Hardy: Part Two

In the first part of our interview with Dan Hardy, the UFC fighter discussed his feelings toward allowing cardiologists to put wires into his heart to determine the extent of his Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome in order to be cleared to fight. In Part Two, Dan discusses fighter pay, his sponsor’s reaction to his heart condition, his WolfCam training videos, his views on Carlos Condit, the mental edge of athletics and passing on learned lessons.

Mike Furci: Well, as much as I would love to see you fight like many other MMA fans, I have to agree with your decision. What has your sponsor’s reaction been to this situation?

Dan Hardy: You know what? I really can’t thank my sponsor enough. I really expected it to cause all kinds of problems and it’s really not. Venomfight and Xyience are just behind me all the way. They’re still selling my shirts, my shorts and Xyience is still promoting me. It’s refreshing because it’s given me a little bit of time to really get this figured out without having to worry about getting to a fight to pay bills.

It really means a lot. You know, obviously in a situation like this, it would be quite easy to turn their back and move onto the next fighter, but that’s not been the case. I don’t just feel like a commodity now; I truly feel like part of the team.

MF: That’s a hell of a tribute and says a lot about those two corporations – Venum and Xyience. So what’s this I hear you’re claiming to be in the best shape of your life? What’s different about your training now and what are some of the reasons you believe you’re in such great shape?

Dan: Well, this situation with the Wolf-Parkinson-White kind of lit a fire in my ass and my solution to being disallowed to fight is to prove that I’m able to fight by physically just being far better than I have before. I’m not getting beat up as much, I’m not doing the sparing and that type of stuff, so I’m able to train for much longer and I’m doing a lot of yoga. The thing is, the studio is so hot – I mean it’s a 90-minute session and I lose about eight pounds a session. I’m really working on my flexibility. Just basically all-around fitness and flexibility is what I’m going for. It’s kind of funny that my career is potentially coming to an end and I’m actually just finding my stride in my training camp. Totally ironic.

MF: Speaking of training, can you talk a little bit about the WolfCam and your series of training videos that you’ve got YouTube?

Dan: Yeah. Well, I was getting a lot of questions about training, and so the best way for me to answer these questions was just to make a video available. My intention is just to kind of show people what I am doing. Really, I’m not trying to educate anybody or say, “You should be doing this.” You know, if I can make this information available, then hopefully someone will benefit from it. And the feedback from people who are doing my training sessions has been very positive.

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to November

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Last month may have been pretty uncharacteristic with the quality of films on display, featuring several Best Picture contenders, but if you thought that it would somehow affect the November release slate, think again. Though audiences will sadly have to wait a little longer to see Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” after the director failed to meet the original date, there are still plenty of great movies on tap, including a few award hopefuls, a pair of blockbuster sequels and more.

“ENDER’S GAME”

Who: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld and Ben Kingsley
What: The International Military recruits and trains a brilliant young boy named Ender Wiggin to lead his fellow soldiers against an alien attack.
When: November 1st
Why: Though “Ender’s Game” has been mired in controversy due to author Orson Scott Card’s recent anti-gay marriage rant, the fact of the matter is that his opinions have nothing to do with the actual movie. Of course, that’s not to say that the film still isn’t fighting an uphill battle. Director Gavin Hood has some making up to do after the disappointment of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” but despite some concerns from fans, this big screen adaptation of the beloved sci-fi novel (previously thought to be unfilmable) looks like it could be his ticket to redemption. While it’s surprising that he’d follow up “Wolverine” with another effects-heavy film, it shows that Hood is adamant about proving his critics wrong. And with actors like Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis in supporting roles, he certainly has the right tools to do just that.

“LAST VEGAS”

Who: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline
What: Three sixty-something friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.
When: November 1st
Why: A lot of people are already referring to “Last Vegas” as the geriatric version of “The Hangover,” but apparently, Dan Fogelman’s script was floating around Hollywood years before the Todd Phillips comedy became a box office hit. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine that the success of the “Hangover” films didn’t play some part in getting the movie greenlit, and as goofy as the concept sounds (expect plenty of cheap jokes at the expense of its elderly characters), it actually looks pretty fun. The fact that director Jon Turteltaub was able to recruit such accomplished actors like De Niro, Douglas, Freeman and Kline (the latter of whom we haven’t seen much of recently) only helps sell the comedy even more, because if we’re going to watch four old guys make fools of themselves, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better quartet.

“ABOUT TIME”

Who: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy and Lydia Wilson
What: At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can time travel. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.
When: November 1st
Why: Richard Curtis is responsible for making my favorite romantic comedy of all-time (“Love, Actually”), so to say that I’m excited about his latest (and hopefully not last, if reports are to be believed) directorial effort is a bit of an understatement. For starters, it’s a brilliant approach to the time travel gimmick, eschewing all the usual sci-fi mumbo jumbo in place of a simpler explanation, which allows Curtis to focus on the characters instead of getting wrapped up in the how of Tim’s magical ability. The father/son storyline also appears to be more important than the trailers suggest, and between rising star Domhnall Gleeson and the always dependable Bill Nighy, it’s that relationship (and not the one between Gleeson and Rachel McAdams) that will likely provide the careful balance of laughter and tears that Curtis has perfected so well.

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