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Blu-ray Review: 'Phenomenon' / 'Step Up' / 'The Horse Whisperer' / 'Under The Tuscan Sun'

Jason Coleman Jason Coleman
7/26/2012 10:58am EDT

Step Up

Time to revisit some flicks from the past making their way onto Blu-ray?  You bet!  We’re doing a four in one review deal with the release of some new Touchstone/Buena Vista Home Entertainment titles guaranteed to help you learn, dance better, understand horses and deal with divorce – and not necessarily in that order.  Check out the now out on Blu-ray reviews below of "Phenomenon," "Step Up" (the Channing original ladies!), "The Horse Whisperer" and "Under the Tuscan Sun."


Phenomenon Blu-ray



   Title: "Phenomenon"

   Grade: 4

   Cast: John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick, Robert Duvall

   Director: Jon Turteltaub

   Rating: PG

   Runtime: 123 minutes

   Release Company: Touchstone/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

   Website: www.BVHESupport.com




The Flick: Watching "Phenomenon" again I was impressed by just how good Travolta can be with the right material.  As a simple small town man who is struck by a light and turned into a genius with telekinetic powers, Travolta embodies the everyman and it makes for one moving flick.  It helps that his co-stars are equally amazing; Kyra Sedgwick as his sassy object of affection, Robert Duvall as his somber doctor and especially Forest Whitaker as his caring friend all add flavor to the fire.  But it’s the charm of Travolta that makes the flames here burn bright.

Best Hidden Gem: The scene where Sedgwick cuts hair and shaves a weary Travolta is like a sex scene minus the skin and sin – very hot and romantic stuff!

Worth the Moola: Blu-ray does give a little extra visual shine here, but the performances shine on any format.


Step Up Blu-ray



   Title: "Step Up"

   Grade: 2 1/2

   Cast: Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Griffiths

   Director: Anne Fletcher

   Rating: PG-13

   Runtime: 103 minutes

   Release Company: Touchstone/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

   Website: www.BVHESupport.com




The Flick: I had never actually seen "Step Up," but I was aware that it was early Channing Tatum and had also multiple sequels.  Kind of a "West Side Story" for the hip-hop crowd, Tatum does show some charisma, but it’s buried way beneath the tacky white rapper gangster he’s sadly playing here.  Things only get real and then really interesting in the scenes and dance moments between Tatum and partner Jenna Dewan who do have a strange, yet undeniable connection.  They should - they’re now married.

Best Hidden Gem: Is that really "Hilary and Jackie" Oscar Nominated actress Rachel Griffiths as the dean of students?  Things just got classy!

Worth the Moola: Blu-ray cooks this one ONLY if you like the dance and music stuff.


The Horse Whisperer Blu-ray



   Title: "The Horse Whisperer"

   Grade: 2 1/2

   Cast: Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Scarlett Johansson

   Director: Robert Redford

   Rating: PG-13

   Runtime: 169 minutes

   Release Company: Touchstone/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

   Website: www.BVHESupport.com




The Flick: Redford does here what filmmakers from another era sometimes do – he takes way too much time.  Meaning while some of "The Horse Whisperer" is unique (man tames horse by looks!), captivating (love the western vibe from Redford, Chris Cooper and a pre-"24" Cherry Jones!) and gripping, there’s so much slow minutiae in between that it all but kneecaps the flick when it does get in full stride.  No doubt the lush locations and glossy film finish on this one gives the visual fan his money’s worth, but this one needed a film editor whisperer.

Best Hidden Gem: Love seeing early in her career Scarlett Johansson as a troubled gal out to find solace.

Worth the Moola: For lush scenery and images this one is a great match for Blu-ray, but have the fast forward button handy.


Under the Tuscan Sun Blu-ray



   Title: "Under the Tuscan Sun"

   Grade: 1 1/2

   Cast: Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Raoul Bova

   Director: Audrey Wells

   Rating: PG-13

   Runtime: 113 minutes

   Release Company: Touchstone/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

   Website: www.BVHESupport.com




The Flick: It could just be the male in me, but the highly anti-men flick "Under The Tuscan Sun" feels like one whopping waste of time.  Even the ever-sexy Diane Lane (in both "Streets of Fire" AND later in "Unfaithful!") can’t elevate this one, as she plays a hopeless and hapless recent divorcee who decides to buy a villa in Tuscany – let the follies ensue!  Or not.

Best Hidden Gem: Love this one starts off with the straight Lane getting the ‘gay’ Tuscany tour from pal Sandra Oh – it’s like "Boat Trip" minus the laughs!

Worth the Moola: While I’ll give this one a few pity stars for lush locations, I would only rent this one if you wish to wallow in your own pity or want to perk up by seeing a life way worse than yours.

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Photo Credits: Photos Courtesy of Touchstone/Buena Vista Home Entertainment