The Couch Potato Report

Not a sports fan, but don’t want to leave your TV lonely this weekend? Here are reviews of the latest releases for you!!

The Couch Potato Report – February 22nd, 2014

Streaming sites such as Netflix and the ability to rent movies without leaving your house have changed everything over the past few years. Well, almost everything. There are still occasions where you have to actually go to a store – or order something from an online store.

Oh sure, if you only want to see GAME OF THRONES once, you watch it on HBO and be done with it. But if you want the show, in high quality on Blu-ray, in a box set with plenty of extras…to a store you must go!

GAME OF THRONES is a tremendous television series about what happens surrounding a civil war in a sprawling fantasy kingdom, but it’s also about family, honour, loyalty and friends.

It has adventure…drama…fantasy…beautiful women and men…plenty of action…and dragons!! All of that and much, much more, can be found in THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON of the series GAME OF THRONES.

Based on “A Song of Ice and Fire”, George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels, this show has a great cast, fantastic sets and costumes, and offers up plenty of surprises…if you’ve been able to avoid the spoilers from SEASON THREE of GAME OF THRONES…good for you!! You are very lucky!!

SEASON ONE of this show was great…SEASON TWO was even better…and this latest SEASON THREE is also great!

I can – and do – easily recommend GAME OF THRONES!! Not just THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON, but the first and second seasons as well!!

I also recommend THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of THE AMERICANS, just not as highly. Oh it’s good, it’s just not that good.

THE AMERICANS was created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg and is set during the Cold War in the early 1980s. Keri Russell from FELICITY and Matthew Rhys of BROTHERS AND SISTERS play two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

They have two children who don’t know they’re spies, and their neighbour is an FBI Counter-Intelligence agent, who may or may not know, which leads to all sorts of tense moments.

THE AMERICANS does have some great spy storylines, as they incorporate real-life events such as the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan into the narrative, but it is also a show about the couple and their efforts to save their marriage and family.

And that latter fact is why the show isn’t that good. I loved the spy stuff, but then, along comes another scene where they talk about their feelings and how they believe in their marriage and want to save it and I wanted more spy stuff!!

THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of THE AMERICANS is very good, it is above average, and it is very smart. I just wish it had more cold war storylines than cold marriage ones…so, call that a mild recommendation.

Up we climb now, to THE SUMMIT.

On August 1st, 2008, a tragic event happened that has become known as “The K2 Disaster”. Eleven mountaineers from international expeditions died that day on K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth. Three others were seriously injured. It was the worst single accident in the history of K2 mountaineering.

THE SUMMIT is a documentary about “The 2008 K2 Disaster” and it combines documentary footage with recreations of events.

This is a very good, very informative and very interesting movie, and I do recommend it, but the problem that I had with THE SUMMIT was that I could never tell what was real and what was a recreation. Was this a survivor on the screen in front of me, or an actor playing a person who died?

That wasn’t always clear, and that took away some of the movie’s power and emotion, which is why ultimately it only gets a mild recommendation from me.

It has been said that if you haven’t got anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. As a reviewer, it can be difficult to adhere to that…but sometimes I do. When it comes to the animated movie JUSTICE LEAGUE – WAR, I will.

JUSTICE LEAGUE – WAR is an animated superhero film that is an adaptation of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s 2011 Justice League: Origin storyline, where the world’s finest heroes create the Justice League in order to stop an alien invasion of Earth.

Yes, this movie features the Justice League, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and others and you won’t care.

I doubt even huge fans of comics and comic movies will care – I am one, and I sure didn’t. This is the 18th direct-to-home-viewing movie that they’ve made from DC Comics, and instead of getting better, they are getting worse.

There is just too much fighting in them, especially in this one, and not enough story or character development. The animation and voice talent are all great, but you won’t care.

Skip JUSTICE LEAGUE – WAR, it just isn’t worth your time. Read the comics, they are great, but skip the movie.

And since I haven’t got anything nice to say, that is all I’ll say, instead of saying nothing at all.

It’s been forty years since one of the greatest revenge flicks ever was released.

Charles Bronson stars in DEATH WISH as Paul Benjamin, a New Yorker whose life is overturned when his wife and daughter are attacked by muggers. His wife does not survive the attack, and his traumatized daughter is left catatonic so he decides to fight back, taking to the streets to punish all muggers.

DEATH WISH came out in 1974 and has just been released on blu-ray in a 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, but there is nothing on the disc but the film. No bonus features, no retrospectives on how the film brought the revenge flick genre into the mainstream…nothing but the film that does look a bit dated.

I still recommend it, flaws and all, because I don’t want anyone connected to the movie to come looking for me.

From a 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, we move ahead thirty years to the 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of an Academy Award winning classic…Clint Eastwood’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY.

MILLION DOLLAR BABY won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Hilary Swank.

She played a determined woman in her early thirties who convinces an aging trainer to take her on to help her reach her dream of becoming a professional boxer.

Eastwood plays the trainer, and he also directed, winning the Oscar for his efforts.

This blu-ray of MILLION DOLLAR BABY does have some bonus materials, plenty of them, including some all new ones for the 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION.

Here’s co-star Morgan Freeman, who also won an Academy Award for his performance.

MILLION DOLLAR BABY is a spectacular movie that I highly recommend.

Back in November of 2009 it was my absolute pleasure to tell you about a seven-disc box set that had been released called ROCKY – THE UNDISPUTED COLLECTION. The set included all six of the ROCKY films – including the original, Academy Award winning Best Picture from 1976 – along with a bonus disc loaded with extras.

Here in February of 2014, there is now another ROCKY set to talk about, and as much as I enjoyed the HEAVYWEIGHT COLLECTION, I’ll be keeping the one released in 2009.

The main calling card for this set about Rocky Balboa, two-time heavyweight champion of the world, husband to Adrian, and all-around good guy, is the fact that it includes a remastered edition of the original – which looks and sounds amazing!!

The HEAVYWEIGHT COLLECTION doesn’t give fans of this series – like me – any real reason to pick it up…since we already have THE UNDISPUTED COLLECTION.

The other five films are as they were last time – with no special features at all on ROCKY II through V – and no upgrade to the quality of the films…and they could really use that.

I still love the films – yes, even ROCKY V – and I still recommend the series, but the only reason to pick up the ROCKY – HEAVYWEIGHT COLLECTION is if you don’t already have them in HD on blu-ray.

And even if that is the case, something tells me that there will be a 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION coming out in 2016…and hopefully that one will be the actual undisputed best set yet!

The ROCKY – HEAVYWEIGHT COLLECTION; the 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the classic Academy Award winning MILLION DOLLAR BABY; the 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the dated but still great revenge flick DEATH WISH; the horrible DC Comics animated movie JUSTICE LEAGE – WAR; the interesting adventure documentary THE SUMMIT; the very good COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of THE AMERICANS; and the great COMPLETE THIRD SEASON of GAME OF THRONES, which you may have to actually go to a store to own, are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report will be the Academy Award nominated films GRAVITY and NEBRASKA, and the Box Office hit THOR – THE DARK WORLD.

For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!