There is no way that I can present a Christmas gift to each
and every reader of this column. At this time of year I most often let you know
about the best Christmas movie to watch. For me that remains constant with IT’S
A WONDERFUL LIFE. But rather than say that once again this year I thought I
might pass along some information to each of you, a gift if you will, of
something to do with your movie collection in the upcoming year.
For some time now I’ve looked at my movies as they arrived and
seen the words ultraviolet and digital on them. The problem was that I never
looked deeper into it than in reading those words or noticing the purple and
white sheets contained in each DVD. That all changed a while back and now I
want to share that with you.
You see we’re moving into a different world, a time when the
word digital is becoming more prevalent. First it was music that went from tape
to CD to mp3. Now movies are heading that same direction, from VHS to DVD and
now to digital format. Like every new idea that comes along the change can be
frightening to some. I’m hoping this makes it easy for all of you. If it helps,
then my guess is many of you will be placing the DVDs you receive as gifts into
your own digital accounts.
To begin with what is this digital world? Well simply put
it’s a way for you to take the movies that you own and store them online in the
cloud, the ever growing atmosphere of storage that means you can take various
items you own and access them through different means. In the case of movies it
means you can download the code for the movie you purchased and watch it
without ever loading the disc into a machine. It also means you can have access
to that movie anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the internet
and a device to watch it on like a laptop, PC or tablet. And it’s easier to do
than you think. Let me help.
To begin with all you have to do is create an account in
your name. Start by going creating an ultraviolet account. Go to www.uvvu.com and do so. It takes just a few
minutes and requires little more than an email account, creating a use name
& password and a few bits of information. This creates an account to which
you can download your digital films. On to the next step.
Log out of that account and you can move on to two different
locations to manager your movies, Vudu and Flixster. For myself I prefer Vudu
but either will work and both take about the same time and information to start
an account. Again, use an email account and come up with a user name and
password after supplying some basic information. Go to www.vudu.com to start this. You’ll notice right
away that it wants to offer you movies. That’s another benefit I’ll get into
Once you’ve gone through the registration of this account
you can log in. Now you’ll notice that across the top of their page it says
“Movies & TV”. If you click on that another offering says “My VUDU”. This
will be where your movies and TV series are stored. When you purchase a new
movies, let’s use GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY as an example, included in the box
the movie comes in is a purple and white sheet that has a code on it. This
sheet usually tells you where to go to redeem this code. When you visit that
web site it will ask what program to save it under. In my case I select Vudu
(though it will be in all of my accounts when I link them together). The other
option is to search Vudu for that title. In the case of this film it pops up
and I click on it. When the information for the movie pops up you’ll see
several options, once of which is “Redeem”. When you click on that it asks for
the code on your sheet, you type it in and it adds that movie to your
collection. You’re done.
This means that now you can watch this movie anywhere you
have the access I mentioned earlier. Not only that you also have the option to
share your collection with 5 other people anywhere. This means if you have kids
in college and want to share your collection with them you can. Or maybe, as in
my case, with your parents. And the sharing doesn’t cost a thing other than
time to invite them via email and their creating their own account as well. The
nice part is you keep your movies in house while sharing them at the same time.
In using this to store your movies you don’t have to take up
shelf space and have easy access to them all. Many blu-ray players come with
Vudu installed as do Roku and more. I know that Kindle doesn’t have Vudu but it
does Flixster, the other storage program I talked about. All of these programs
are user friendly and take little time to deal with. The most time you will
spend (other than using it) is in putting all of your movies into it. One thing
to note is the difference between TV and movie downloads. Make sure if your
download doesn’t show for some reason in one that it isn’t in the other.
Lastly I mentioned that when Vudu opens you’ll see movies
for sale. That’s because they also sell digital copies of movies too. For
instance as I’m writing this I see A WALK AMONG TOMBSTONES and THE GUEST both
available for purchase in advance of their being released on DVD. I don’t know
for sure if they open now or the day of release but you can purchase these
movie without leaving your home this way at about the same costs you would pay
at the local store. The same holds true for select TV series as well. Want to
own THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1? It’s on sale there for $15.99 in HD or $10.99 in
As I said in the beginning this is my Christmas
gift to you all, a way to store your movies with easy access or to buy new
releases without ever leaving your home. So don’t be afraid of new technology
and embrace it instead. You’ll find that using ultraviolet isn’t as bad as you
might think and might enjoy it. Above all else I would like to wish each and
every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The past few years have been very
good to movies based on comic books. While those based on DC comics have been
slow out of the gate movies based on Marvel comics licenses have skyrocketed.
Perhaps the most surprising of these was a movie based on a lesser known and
not hugely popular comic that took the box office by storm. Not only was it a
surprise hit it just might be the best of the Marvel movies released to date.
That movie arrives on DVD this week and is called GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
The movie opens with a young boy
confronted with the death of his mother to cancer. Running from the hospital he
finds himself beamed aboard a UFO. Fast forward some years later and we see
that boy now grown landing on a desolate planet devoid of human life forms. He
steals an orb from a futuristic safe and is then set upon by minions of Ronan
the Accuser out to take the orb for their leader. When he tells them his name
is Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) otherwise known as Star Lord they are less than
impressed, not even recognizing it. That adds to their surprise when he takes
back the orb and flees with them hot on his trail.
Quill is out to make some money by
taking the orb he was sent to steal to a dealer and bypassing his leader, the
head of the Ravagers known as Yondu (Michael Rooker). At the same time Ronan
(Lee Pace) has set his own special warrior to retrieve the orb, Gamora (Zoe
Saldana). The dealer cancels the deal when he learns of Ronan’s involvement and
Gamora tries to take the orb. At that same moment an unlikely pair of fortune
seekers reads that Yondu has put a price on Quills head. The pair is Rocket
Racoon (Bradley Cooper) who actually is a raccoon, and his partner Groot (Vin
Diesel), a walking talking plant. As the four struggle for control of one
another they are eventually captured by the space police known as the Nova
Sent to the worst prison in the
universe the four make a deal to get the orb and take it to a buyer Gamora is
aware of. It turns out she hates Ronan and is double crossing him. When they
arrive at the prison she is set upon by a few inmates, specifically Drax the
Destroyer (Dave Bautista). When Drax learns that Gamora was not responsible for
the murder of his family, he joins with the foursome to plan their escape so he
can seek revenge.
Escape they do and from there the
adventure moves forward with alarming speed. Moving from one part of the
universe to another, pursued by Ronan who is working for a cosmic bad guy named
Thanos (Josh Brolin) and wanted by the Nova Corp, the five misfits join forces
to do what it right. Eventually that comes down to facing off against Ronan
after he has taken the orb and utilized it to his advantage. By the third act
the now called Guardians of the Galaxy have united with the Nova Corp and try
to save a world from being obliterated.
I have to say that words cannot
begin to describe how much I enjoyed this movie, so much so that watching it on
DVD was my third viewing. I can tell you that it holds up to multiple viewings
and is one that I’ll probably watch every few months, enjoying it each and
every time. This movie offers the near perfect combination of action, humor,
worlds of wonder and space opera unlike any seen before. Watching this movie
brought back memories of the first time I saw STAR WARS. It is that good.
The driving force that brought this
about was director James Gunn, a man who labored under some truly bad movies
for Troma but who has grown into an accomplished director who knows how to do
it right. Once you include some amazing performances by all around and in
particular Pratt who brings Quill to life, you have a great flick. That is just
added to by the eye popping special effects on scene here from the basic aliens
done with make up to the state of the art CGI effects that bring Rocket and
Groot to life.
While these things combine to make
it look great, the story itself takes it over the top. This is a tale of
misfits, a group of people who don’t quite fit in anywhere, who band together
to form something good. In the process they begin to become friends and to care
for one another. At times they frustrate one another and at others they’re
willing to sacrifice themselves to save their group as well as the Universe. In
so doing these criminals become the greatest of heroes.
This year I’ve seen more movies than
usual not just on DVD but in theaters. I can say now without a doubt that this
was by far my favorite film of the year. My guess is that due to its popularity
and the fact it is comic book based it won’t be nominated for any major awards
with the exception of effects. That’s too bad because for me this was the best
movie of the year. Add it to your collection today.
There have been a number of movies
based on true life tales that involve football. All of them are inspirational
in their own way. It seems as movie goers we must love these tales because each
one has done well at the box office, some becoming movie favorites that last
forever in the hearts of those who view them. Just added to that list is WHEN
THE GAME STANDS TALL. Does it deserve to be on that list? Indeed it does.
The movie is based around the De La
Selle High School Spartans, a team that held an incredible winning streak of
151 games undefeated. No other football team, pro or high school, has held a
streak to match. And yet the soul of the team is what makes it special. Coach
Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) does want to have a winning team but for him the
most important thing is the team itself, the men that these young boys will one
day become. It striving for that goal the winning team follows suit.
The film begins with the team on
their winning streak and a new season about to start soon. It offers us a
glimpse into how the team comes together to form a bonding unit rather than
single stars. At the same time we get a glimpse of how a rising star can fall
short of the goals the coach sets out to achieve. It’s not about that single
player but about the team as a whole.
And then two crushing blows come to
the team. The first is a heart attack suffered by the coach. Secret cigarette
smoking has led him to this and it nearly costs him his life. It’s a set back
for the team as he works to recover from his illness while his backup coach
puts them through the paces that summer as they prepare for next season.
Things go from bad to worse when one
of their best players, a young man who has a bright future ahead of him is
gunned down. The shooting is the result of his bragging attitude on a
basketball court, a gunman who wants to show him he’s not all that he thinks he
is. The death of this player affects his best friend most, a player who feels
that people are dying all around him and he doesn’t deserve a chance at a
better life. The pair had played together since grade school and been in line
to start the next year at Oregon University. But the death also takes its toll
on the rest of the team as well.
The coach recovers and takes control
of the team once again prior to the new season. But something has happened to
them in the meantime. The events of the past few months have become a burden on
the team. Coupled with the extra burden of carrying on the tradition of no
losses it becomes too much and the team is beaten in their first game.
Distraught and disillusioned with the game, they now face a dilemma. Can they
regain the glory they once had or are they doomed to failure? More importantly
has it all boiled down to making records, to being victorious or is it about
brotherhood, bonding together and becoming the men that the coach intended them
to be from the start?
Fans of football will love this
movie. There is more on field action here than in most movies I’ve seen in this
genre. At the same time there are the stories of those involved with the team.
The coach who has put his family on the back burner for years while getting
close with his teams. The son who only wants to have his father in his life as
his coach. The young man who feels the weight of having no one left in his life
but his little brother and now has the opportunity to move forward. The father
who lives so vicariously through his son’s achievements that he places more
value on the prizes than he does the affections of his child. These characters
and their stories make this movie more than just a football film.
Caviezel does a fine job in the
lead, showing a maturity that has come with age and is on display in all his
moves. Laura Dern as his loving and supportive wife who longs for more time
with him is equal to his performance. Michael Chiklis as his right hand man and
fellow coach comes through in a pinch when needed. Clancy Brown as the glory
seeking father living through his son’s achievements is the heel of the film
and does it gloriously. And each of the young men playing the team members act
as a team as much as the characters they portray. They don’t stand out alone
but work together to bring the story to life.
The movie is an inspiration as
opposed to a look at how football is played. As I said, it’s about the team and
the boys who make up that team on their way to manhood. Knowing that someone
like coach Ladouceur was out there helping to form these boys this way gives
you hope for the future. What more could you ask for?