The story has been action-driven, detail of the artwork has been excellent and for mecha fans, “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” vol. 3 gives readers a gritty, emotional and darker side of the war.
© 2012 by Yasuo Ohtagaki. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 3
STORY AND ART BY: Yasuo Ohtagaki
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Signature
RATED: T for Older Teen
RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2017
In the Universal Century year 0079, humanity is divided between Earth and huge space colonies known as Sides. The colony known as Side 3 proclaims independence as the Principality of Zeon, and declares war on the Earth Federation. As the conflict nears the one-year mark, the Earth Federation and the forces of Zeon are locked in a fierce battle for the Thunderbolt Sector, an area of space scarred by the wreckage of destroyed space colonies.
The Federation attack on the Zeon fleet in the Thunderbolt sector is a bloody fiasco as Io Fleming leads a squadron of inexperienced young pilots into the teeth of the Zeon defenses. Desperate, the Federation throws even the maintenance crews into the fray. Casualties mount as the two fleets clash, and Fleming and his Zeon rival, Daryl Lorenz, engage deep in the ruins of one of the space colonies. Shattered and driven by memories of the past and all they’ve lost, their duel resonates with the fierce emotions of both sides in this deadly conflict.
The Principality of Zeon thanks to their Zeon Sniper Daryl Lorenz and his new Psycho Zaku has taken the Federation by surprise and nearly wiped out the entire fleet. And with the surviving members of the Federation, they are not aware that Zeon Fleet Commander Kleiber is on their way for support.
Meanwhile, Io Fleming with his Gundam and Zeon Sniper Daryl Lorenz clash once again, but this time, who wins this battle?
What is “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” about?
Back in 2012, mangaka Yasuo Ohtagaki wrote and illustrated the manga “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt”.
With eight volumes published, the series would receive a 4-episode ONA anime adaptation and a second season is slated for adaptation.
The manga is set during the One Year War (U.C. 0079) and the Earth Federation’s Brotherhood and the Principality of Zeon’s Living Dead Division are in battle in the Thunderbolt Section, a zone that is littered with debris from the destruction of space colonies and because the area has numerous electrical discharging.
Fighting for the Earth Federation is Ace pilot, Io Fleming and for the Principality of Zeon, Zeon’s best sniper, Daryl Lorenz is focused on killing Fleming.
As Io won the first meeting between the two, this time around, both the Federation and Zeon plan to escalate the battle as the Federation plans to send the Gundam in one more time to finish the job, but leading the Gundam are young recruits. Meanwhile, Zeon follows Daryl Lorenz piloting the new Psycho Zaku.
And with a sneak attack, they are able to decimate the Federation. With only a few survivors of the Federation, what happens when appen’s when Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood enters a Zeon ship?
Also, the Federation’s Io Fleming and his Gundam takes on Zeon’s Daryl Lorenz and his new Psycho Zaku.
What will be the outcome of this major battle in the Thunderbolt Sector?
When it comes to the Universal Century Gundam stories, they are my favorite. And while many of us have been entertained by stories involving Amuro Ray, there have been a variety of stories that have taken place in the Universal Century, some more deeper than the others and others just focusing on the action.
“Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” may seem like the latter because of the action focusing on Earth Federation vs. the Principality of Zeon but once the manga goes into character development, the storyline focuses on how people are growing tired of the war. People sick of seeing deaths of friends and loved ones.
Io Fleming is a man born from a wealthy family and he and his friends are thrusted into war. Fleming is secretly dating Captain Claudia Peer, a captain who is sick and tired of war and that the Earth Federation keeps sending teenage pilots as reinforcements and always depressed and tense when Fleming, the Beehive’s best pilot goes to fight against the Principality of Zeon. Along with Fleming and another childhood friend, engineer Cornelius Kaka, all three were born in privilege and are now assigned to the Beehive.
Fleming is an excellent pilot and surprises the Principality of Zeon when he shows up and takes many of them out with his Gundam and always playing his jazz music through a pilot radio station.
Meanwhile, on the opposite end are the Living Dead Division of the Principality of Zeon. A group that is put together of people who have been significantly injured or maimed and are still fighting with prosthetics.
Their best fighter, Zeon Chief Petty Officer Daryl Lorenz, is an excellent sniper and wants revenge against Fleming for killing his teammates. He has lost his legs in battle and carries a retro-style radio that he listens to in battle.
We see the other side as those who feel they are wronged and want revenge against the Earth Federation for the death of their loved ones.
Zeon scientist Karla Mitchum is responsible for giving the soldiers prosthetics but when her loved one is killed, she wants Daryl to rid of the Earth Federation, especially the man responsible, Io Fleming.
But we see how the grass is definitely not greener on the other side and how difficult life was for children growing up in the Principality of Zeon and in order to make sure their families were taken care of, they had to join the military at a young age.
So, the third volume of “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” gives us a look as both sides and both were decimated by each other. People injured and not sure if they will live, but with this latest battle, Zeon has the edge as they managed to do a sneak attack to decimate the Federation.
As only a few of Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood around to infiltrate the Zeon ship, what will they find?
Meanwhile, another clash between the elite Io Fleming and his Gundam and Daryl Lorenz and his Psycho Zaku. But who will have the edge in this latest battle?
The character designs, artwork and storyline by Yasuo Ohtagaki are wonderful and I really like how the emotion of the characters are depicted. The story has been action-driven, detail of the artwork has been excellent and for mecha fans, “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” vol. 3 gives readers a gritty, emotional and darker side of the war.
After this volume, nothing will ever be the same between the Federation and the Zeon in the Thunderbolt sector.
If you loved “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z”, I can’t highly recommend enough of how awesome “Dragon Ball Super” truly is. I was just as skeptical, being a hardcore DBZ fan but I was quite pleased with the overall manga and can’t wait until vol. 2!
Image courtesy of © 2016 Bird Studios, Toyotarou. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Dragon Ball Super vol. 1
Story by Akira Toriyama, Art by Toyotarou
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC
RATED: T for Teen
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017
Having defeated Boo, Goku is starting to get bored with his life on Earth. His wife, Chi-chi, wants him to get a job, but all he wants to do is train and fight stronger enemies. However, he might soon regret his wish for greater challenges, as one is on its way right for him!
Elsewhere in the universe, the God of Destruction, Beerus, and his attendant Whis are traveling from planet to planet in search of food and entertainment. After blowing up some hapless victims, Beerus is reminded of a man from his dreams with the moniker “Super Saiyan God,” or something like that. The God of Destruction sets his sights on Earth to track the source of his visions, leading to a battle like no other.
A new “Dragon Ball” series?
It was something that fans knew was a possibility but whether or not it would be accepted, that is a different story.
As “Dragon Ball GT” was created but not considered canon, because series creator Akira Toriyama was not involved, “Dragon Ball Super” is considered canon as the anime series credits Akira Toriyama for the original story and character design concepts.
As the “Battle of the Gods” and “Resurrection ‘F'” films are considered canon and take place before “Dragon Ball Super”, one may want to watch those two films before jumping onto this manga series, but fortunately, it is not needed as the first volume of the manga series gets readers caught up of what has transpired with the characters after Son Goku had defeated Majin Boo.
Written by Akira Toriyama and featuring artwork by Toyotarou (who did the manga adaptation of “Resurrection ‘F'”, an artists that Toriyama highly approves of, we begin a new chapter in the “Dragon Ball” manga series with the first volume of “Dragon Ball Super”.
As peace has taken place after Son Goku had defeated Majin Boo, for the next four years, Son Goku has become a radish farmer to support his family.
As Beerus, the God of Destruction and his assistant Whis destroy a planet in Universe 7, he had a dream of taking on a Super Saiyan God. And is in search of him.
Meanwhile, Beerus’ twin brother Champa, God of Destruction of Universe 6 has secretly visited Universe 7 along with his assistant Vados to find the final Super Dragon Ball.
As Beerus pays a visit to the planet of the Lord of the Northern Worlds where Kaio-ken resides, Goku is training. And when Beerus allows Goku to try and defeat him, Goku is beaten quickly.
This leads Beerus to interrupt Bulma’s birthday part on Earth (as featured in the “Battle of the Gods” film).
Needless to say, with the Dragon Balls and a ritual performed, Son Goku is transformed into a Super Saiyan God and challenges Beerus and it ends in a stalemate. As Vegeta also acquires significant power, the two are trained by Whis. And all was going well until Champa and Vados shows up to visit Beerus and Whis.
The two have a disagreement of which universe has better food and when Beerus introduces Champa to Cup Ramen, Champa proposes a challenge. A fighting tournament featuring Universe 6’s best fighters vs. Beerus’ choice of five of Universe 7’s best fighters. Whoever wins gets access to the Super Dragon Balls and Champa’s goal is to switch Earth’s and have Beerus’ Earth switch places with the barren/devastated by war Earth of Universe 6.
All agree to have this tournament take place and now Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Boo and a fighter of Beerus’ choosing will need to take on Champa’s top five fighters.
Let the tournament begin!
I was very skeptical when “Dragon Ball Super” was announced. Having enjoyed “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z”, “Dragon Ball GT” was no doubt a series cashing in on the “Dragon Ball” characters and a storyline that was more or less geared to attract younger viewers (as it focused on Son Goku turned into a child, his granddaughter Pan and Vegeta and Bulma’s son Trunks).
I was not excited about the two newer films because I felt that Akira Toriyama ended “Dragon Ball” and that should ahve been it. Afterall, the first two “Dragon Ball” series are a big part of younger years and I didn’t want to see a new terrible series marring the original Toriyama work.
And with over 80-episodes of “Dragon Ball Super” having aired in Japan and not having seen one episodes, I figured I would read this manga and see if if I would enjoy it.
And to my surprise, this series manages to capture all the fun, laughter and action that the original had and more. Suffice to say, I loved reading this first volume!
Not only do we get new characters but you get to see characters who have been featured in other Akira Toriyama series such as “JACO: The Galactic Patrolman” make an appearance and also, we see all characters reunited for the next biggest test for the Son Goku and friends.
And while the first half of the manga series focuses on character introductions and the power of Beerus and Whis, we also learn that there are other powerful Gods of Destruction of other universes and for Son Goku, getting stronger and beating his opponents has always been a big part of the storyline.
And now, Son Goku and friends will need to take on the top warriors of Universe 6. In some ways, it’s kind of an Akira Toriyama nod to DC Comics with Superman and the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 and the differences of similar universes but different outcomes for various planets in the universe.
Needless to say, this first volume made me crave for more. The humor and action are fantastic and is consistent with previous “Dragon Ball” series but most importantly, it’s entertaining and so much fun!
And I can see why Akira Toriyama has so much faith in Toyotarou, with an interview featured at the end of the chapters, you can tell that Akira working with Toyotarou is somewhat of a passing of the torch. Toyotarou’s similarity to Akira Toriyama’s work is fantastic and this collaboration between the two shows their admiration as their work is fantastic.
Overall, if you loved “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z”, I can’t highly recommend enough of how awesome “Dragon Ball Super” truly is. I was just as skeptical, being a hardcore DBZ fan but I was quite pleased with the overall manga and can’t wait until vol. 2!
“Punching Henry” is no doubt a smart and hilarious comedy film that gives a glimpse of the life of a musical comedian.
TITLE: Punching Henry
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 95 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017
Directed by Gregori Viens
Written by Henry Phillips, Gregori Viens
Produced by Jim Hart, Arun Kumar, David Permut, Henry Phillips, Matt Ratner, Rick Rosenthal, Gregori Viens
Co-Producer: Ian Coyne, Nalit Patel
Executive Producer: Howard Barish, David P. Beitchman, Adam Brawer, Luca Costa, Luke Daniels, Robert J. Harley, Brandon K. Hogan, Bert Kern, Atif Malik, Chris Mangao, Sean McEwen, Nick Morton, Alan Pao, Deborah Ratner
Cinematography by Bryce Fortner
Edited by Michael R. Miller, Gregori Viens
Casting by Eyde Belasco
Production Design by Jodi Ginnever
Set Decoration by Laurie McDaniel
Costume Design by Sarah Trost
Henry Phillips as Henry Phillips
Tig Notaro as Julian
J.K. Simmons as Jay Warren
Mark Cohen as Stupid Joe
Sarah Silverman as Sharon Levine
Ellen Ratner as Ellen Pinksy
Mike Judge as Ed
Jim Jefferies as Charlie
Stephanie Allynne as Zoe
Michaela Watkins as Mara
Ashley Johnson as Danielle
In this hyper-intelligent comedy, a journeyman comedian is lured to L.A. by a TV producer (J.K. Simmons, Whiplash) who wants to make him a reality star. As reality sets in, he must decide whether his legacy will be to tell jokes for a living or become the butt of them. With an all-star cast including Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, Jim Jefferies, Doug Stanhope, and more, PUNCHING HENRY is a hilarious and heartwarming glimpse behind the curtain at the weird world of comedy.
From musical comedian Henry Phillips and director/co-writer Gregori Viens comes “Punching Henry”, a comedy which premiered at South by Southwest in March 2016.
The film stars Henry Phillips as himself, actress Tig Notaro (“In a World”, “One Mississippi”) and wife Stephanie Allynne (“All Nighter”, “In a World”, “One Mississippi”), J.K. Simmons (“Spider-Man” films, “Whiplash”), Mark Cohen (“The Aristocrats”, “Funny People”), Sarah Silverman (“School of Rock”, “Wreck-it Ralph”, “There’s Something About Mary”), comedian Jim Jefferies, Michaela Watkins (“The Back-Up Plan”, “Enough Said”, “Wanderlust”).
The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
“Punching Henry” is a film that is based on the comedy of Henry Phillips standup routine which is playing a classic loser, hapless with women and unsuccessful in show business.
Henry Phillips is a music comedian trying to make a living traveling to various locations and trying to entertain audiences (some who get him, some who don’t).
His agent Ellen Pinsky (portrayed by Ellen Ratner) calls Henry to let him know that producer Jay Warren (produced by J.K. Simmons) wants to meet with him in Los Angeles.
For Henry, returning to Los Angeles is difficult ever since the media crucified him for being a white supremacist, which was a misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion.
And a lot of his adventures are often discussed in his friend Sharon Levine’s (portrayed by Sarah Silverman) radio show. And his feelings of going to Los Angeles and not wanting people to take advantage of him.
As Henry goes to Los Angeles to stay with his friend Jillian (portrayed by Tig Notaro) and her wife Zoe (portrayed by Stephanie Allynne). His first day doesn’t go all that well as his car has been stolen and he has to endure a heckler during his comedy performance which producer Jay Warren has come to observe.
As Henry goes to meet with Jay, he finds out that showrunner Mara (portrayed by Michaela Watkins) wants to create a television show based on his life as a loser. Mara and other showrunners thinks that Henry’s experiences were part of his comedy routine but they are genuine experiences from his life.
But can Henry’s time in Los Angeles get any worse? And how does Henry feel about a show being based on his life and how people perceive him due to social media?
“Punching Henry” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film features wonderful detail during closeup scenes and outdoor scenes. I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Punching Henry” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue and ambiance-driven. The surround channels do a good job of showcasing the crowds at venues but for the most part, the film is dialogue-driven and focused on the front and center channels.
Subtitles are in English SDH.
“Punching Henry” comes with the following special features:
- Deleted Scenes – Featuring two deleted scenes.
- Brendon Walsh suffers – (1:31) Behind-the-scenes on Brendon Walsh’s painful scene.
- Stupid Joe – (1:45) Improvisation of Mark Cohen’s comedy character Stupid Joe.
For those who have watched Henry Phillips’ comedy routine on “Comedy Central” or watched his hilariously awkward “Henry’s Kitchen” cooking shows on YouTube or his various musical comedy routines, you know that Phillip’s tends to play a character who is often a loner or loser and nothing really goes well for him.
And what if Henry the comedian and his routines were wrapped all in one. That’s the storyline for “Punching Henry”, a story of how comedy musician Henry Phillips is given the opportunity to have a television show based on his life.
And as everyone in the entertainment world thinks this is part of Phillips’ comedy routine, the fact is that bad luck accompanies him wherever he goes and nothing goes right for him.
Starring many fellow comedians and actress Tig Notaro and J.K. Simmons, for those who enjoy Henry Phillips’ comedy will enjoy this film because it’s literally a film extension of his comedy routine.
From Henry going to Los Angeles and his car stolen within minutes of arriving, getting heckled at a venue, to his lesbian friends asking him to impregnate one of them (so they can have children) and he somehow manages to mess that one up.
But for Henry, now having this opportunity of having his life as a TV series and execs thinking how good of an idea to create a series based on a loser’s loser, for Henry those are painful things in his life that occur frequently, how will he deal with the opportunity and newfound fame thanks to a mishap onstage which becomes popular on social media.
Featuring appearances by many comedians and a solid performance from Henry Phillips, “Punching Henry” is no doubt a smart and hilarious comedy film that gives a glimpse of the life of a musical comedian.
A worthy continuation of the “Underworld” film series that leans very heavy on the action, if you are looking for an all-out action film with vampires vs. werewolves, “Underworld: Blood Wars” will definitely appeal to you!
© 2017 Lakeshore Entertainment Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Underworld: Blood Wars
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017
DURATION: 91 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmost (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Strong Bloody Violence and Some Sexuality)
RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2017
Based on the Characters by Kevin Grevioux, Len wiseman, Danny McBride
Directed by Anna Foerster
Screenplay by Cory Goodman
Story by Kyle Ward, Cory Goodman
Producer: David Kern, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Len Wiseman, Richard S. Wright
Co-Producer: David Minkowski, Jackie Shenoo, Matthew Stillman
Executive Producer: James McQuaide, Ben Waisbren, Skip Williamson, Henry Winterstern
Music by Michael Wandmacher
Cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Edited by Peter Amundson
Casting by Julie Hutchinson, Maya Kvetny, Suzanne Smith
Production Design by Ondrej Nekvasil
Art Direction by Bryce Tibbey, Martin Vackar
Set Decoration by Beatrice Brentnerova
Costume Design by Bojana Nikitovic
Kate Beckinsale as Selene
Theo James as David
Tobias Menzies as Marius
Lara Pulver as Semira
Charles Dance as Thomas
James Faulkner as Cassius
Peter Andersson as Vidar
Clementine Nicholson as Lena
Bradley James as Varga
Daisy Head as Alexia
Oliver Stark as Gregor
Sveta Driga as Amelia
In the next installment of the blockbuster franchise, Vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
With the success of the “Underworld” films, the fifth film “Underworld: Blood Wars” continues the storyline about the war between the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves).
Directed by Anna Foerster (“Outlander” TV series) and as screenplay by Cory Goodman (“Priest”, “The Last Witch Hunter”), the film is a sequel to the fourth film, “Underworld: Awakening” and features the return of Kate Beckinsale as the immortal vampire Selene and Theo James as David.
The film also stars Lara Pulver (“Edge of Tomorrow”, “Da Vinci’s Demons”, “The Special Relationship”), Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”, “Casino Royale”, “Atonement”), Daisy Head (“The Last Seven”, “Guilt”), Clementine Nicholson, Charles Dance (“Ghostbusters”, “Alien 3”, “Game of thrones”), James Faulkner (“Downton Abbey”, “Da Vinci’s Demons”, “Game of Thrones”), Bradley James (“Merlin”, “Damien”, “Dis/Connected”) and Oliver Stark (“Into the Badlands”, “Luther”, “MindGamers”).
What is “Underworld” about?
“Underworld” takes place during a time where the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves) are at war. In the past, the Lycans were used as slaves for centuries by the vampires but rebelled courtesy of their leader Lucian and have been in war since.
In the first film, Selene who has fought and killed Lycans believing that they were responsible for her family’s massacre learned from Kraven that Viktor was responsible for her family’s death. With Michael near death due to the silver nitrate in his body that was shot by Kraven, Lucian (who was revealed to have started the war because he was in love with Sonja, a vampire and daughter of Viktor and was killed by her father to stop the relationship between a vampire and Lycan) tells Selene that in order to save him, she must bite him.
Selene has bitten Michael and transforming him to half Lycan/half vampire and both killed Viktor. Meanwhile, the next elder vampire that is in line to be revived is Marcus and because Singe was killed near Marcus’ tomb and his blood has dripped into his tomb, that Marcus will now be revived early.
The first film would with Selene knowing that she has changed the course of the war by converting Michael by making him half vampire/half Lycan and because she aided a Lycan, she will now be hunted.
“Underworld: Evolution” begins with the three vampire elders: Marcus, Viktor and Amelia in the year 1202 A.D. Viktor and Amelia capture William Corvinus (brother of Marcus who happens to be a powerful Lycan). As Marcus tries to defend his brother from being harmed, Viktor has William imprisoned in a secret location for eternity.
Fastforward to the present, Selene hides Michael in a safehouse but returns to the vampire coven to confront Kraven. She knows that Kraven has plans to eliminate Marcus and wants to stop him before he does. But because Lycan blood is what has dripped into Marcus’ tomb, Marcus has now reawaken as a Vampire-Dominant hybrid.
Selene also learns the true reason why Viktor spared her from death when her family was massacred and why they were massacred. And because of that reason, Markus is wanting to get to her as well.
Alexander Corvinus has given Selene his blood and thus given immortality.
Since then, both Selene and Michael have been on the run trying to protect each other from both vampire and Lycan who want them dead.
Because creators of the “Underworld” films wanted to explain how the feud between the Death Dealers and the Lycans started. “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”, a prequel to the first two films, was created and released in theaters back in 2009.
With the fourth film, “Underworld: Awakening”, after the events of “Underworld: Evolution”, the world now knows that vampires and Lycans exist. And there is a massive cleansing (known as “The Purge”) as humans now try to exterminate vampires and Lycans. Survivors have now moved underground, while both Selene and Michael have become the hunted.
Split off from each other, both try to come together during a standoff with the authorities but as Michael is shot and falls into the ocean, Selene goes after him and tries to save him. But in the process, both are separated by a detonator.
Fast forward, 12 years later and during this time, “The Purge” has now been concluded as 95% of the vampires have been annihilated and the Lycans are considered as extinct.
Selene is being kept inside a cryogenic suspension by the medical corporation known as Antigen, which are trying to create an antidote for the virus which creates vampires and Lycans
Known as “subject 1”, someone has broken into the lab facility and have released Selene. As Selene awakens and puts on her leather costume, she looks for Michael but is not sure where he is kept and thus she escapes Antigen facilities.
eanwhile, murders are occurring in the city and while the normal judgment by police is to think that the vampires had committed the crime (since Lycans are thought to be extinct), Detective Sebastian (played by Michael Ealy), looking at how the body was murdered, doesn’t think so. And he spots Selene, who quickly disappears.
But also spotting Selene is a young vampire named David (played by Theo James). He goes to track down Selene, who is trying to find answers of where Michael may be. When David tracks her down, he tells her the truth that the Lycans have been forced to live underground, no food, diseased and something has riled them up in order for them to go back up to the surface. And he thinks Selene knows the answer to why the Lycans are back.
But Selene starts to see images, images that usually come from the bond that she has with Michael. Thinking that Michael is in trouble and is being hunted by the Lycans, she and David fight them off but instead of finding Michael, she finds a young girl named Eve (played by India Eisely).
Why does girl have this power and why is Selene reacting to it? As the three are pursued by the Lycans, Eve tells Selene that she was Subject 2 at Antigen and was responsible for setting her free. She also revealed that she was in a chamber next to her mother…which would be Selene. Needless to say, Selene is shocked because 12 years ago, she was with Michael. Now when she awakens, instead of finding Michael, she finds out that both had a daughter.
This now leads us to the fifth film in the “Underworld” series, things are not looking good for the vampire covens as they are nearly wiped out by the Lycans. Both groups are seeking out Death Dealer, Selene (portrayed by Kate Beckinsale) for the deaths of Viktor and Marcus and the Lycans, wanting Selene in order to find her daughter Eve (who has the blood of vampire-werewolf) and want to create an army of vampire-werewolf hybrids.
Because of the threat of either side looking for Eve, Selene’s daughter was taken away from her to an undisclosed location in order to protect Eve. That even Selene has no idea of her daughter’s whereabouts.
Semira (portrayed by Lara Pulver), a council member of the Eastern Coven wants Selene to be granted clemency, so she can train the Eastern Coven’s neophyte Death Dealers.
And as Selene arrives to the Eastern Coven with her protege, David (portrayed by Theo James), while training the Death Dealers, Semira’s lover Varga (portrayed by Bradley James) betrays Selene and kills all the Death Dealers as planned by Semira.
Semira drains Selene’s blood and will drink it in order to gain her power, but when vampire elder Thomas (portrayed by Charles Dance) and David arrive, a battle begins with Semira and Varga.
And in order to save their lives and buy time for David to rescue Selene, he sacrifices his life in battle.
As David and Selene head to the Nordic Coven, pursuing them are Marius (portrayed by Tobias Menzies) and the Lycans who are intent in finding out where Eve is located. But also pursuing Selene is Alexia (portrayed by Daisy Head), a death dealer from the Eastern Coven and the lover of Marius, the Lycan leader.
“Underworld: Blood Wars” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.
Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail and the film maintains its cool, dark look with blues, gays and blacks. Black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD!
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Underworld: Blood Wars” is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English-Audio Desription Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.
I was so pleased with this soundtrack and just hearing constant immersive audio coming from front channels and also the surround channels for the many action scenes throughout the film. The music soundtrack also is utilized for the surround channels as well. Also, great use of LFE.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“Underworld: Blood Wars” comes with the following special features on the second Blu-ray disc:
- The Evolution of Selene – (8:09) A featurette about the main protagonist, Selene and interviews with Kate Beckinsale and producers of the film.
- Old & New Blood – (6:15) Cast and producers discuss the Nordic Coven featured in the film.
- The Evil Evolved – (6:07) A featurette about the Eastern Coven and the Lycans.
- Building a Blood War – (12:01) Director Anna Foerster and producers discussing of bringing back the look of the original but creating something fresh and new.
- Underworld: Blood Wars – The Official Movie Graphic Novel – Darkstorm Comics graphic novel. Using your remote, you can cycle through each page of the comic book.
“Underworld: Blood Wars” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.
With the original “Underworld” trilogy, there was a good focus on the storyline between the vampires (Death Dealers) and the Lycans (werewolves) and balancing it out with the action.
While I have always looked at the “Underworld” films as your vampire vs. werewolf popcorn action film series. With “Underworld: Awakening”, the writers were moving away from the “Twilight” mushy romance (or Romeo & Juliet romance, as I called the first two films).
With “Underworld: Awakening”, the film became more action-heavy and as far as the storyline was concerned, the romantic element was eliminated and became more of a focus on Selene’s daughter having vampire/Lycan blood, making her a target for both sides.
Selene had become the hunted, as both sides want to know where Eve is located and that storyline continues with “Underworld: Blood Wars”. And once again, you get a popcorn action film with actress Kate Beckinsale once again donning her tight black leather uniform that fans have come to love about the “Underworld” films.
But I’ve felt the film has taken a step into the direction of popcorn action with a forgetful storyline that seems like it would be appropriate more for a video game than a film. But giving the film the benefit of a doubt that writer Cory Goodman is trying to setup a connection for the next film, I can’t help but feel bad for director Anna Foerster.
Having loved what she has done with the “Outlander” series which feature episodes that are character and story-driven, Foerster is left with trying to create a film that revolves around chaotic action.
But despite the forgetful storyline, I did enjoy the film for its connection to the series as I enjoy the “Underworld” storyline. I just wish there was more of it to enjoy because the characters are important and while it’s new to take adventures to a different coven and focus on the war with the Lycans nearly wiping out the vampires, you just feel that there should be more. Considering the original trilogy was story-driven, you just want to see a good story go along with that chaotic action and not have the action dominate so much of the film.
So, considering how I enjoyed the original trilogy and knew that the fourth film “Underworld: Awakening” was heading to a different direction than the previous films, “Underworld: Blood Wars” remains consistent with the last film with no engrossing story, just a film with plenty of action and visual effects. But yet, the final minute gives us a tease of something for fans of the film to look forward to when the sixth film is released in the future.
As for the 4K Ultra HD release, picture quality is magnificent and the darkness of the film with the use of blues, grays and blacks are still continued with this latest film. Close-ups show great detail and Lycan transformations look great. And similar to the last film, the lossless soundtrack is magnificent and immersive. And considering the amount of action in this film, audiophiles should be quite thrilled to see how immersive the action sequences are and the use of the surround channels and LFE.
And as far as special features go, you are given a good number of special features including the official movie graphic novel and a few featurettes on a second Blu-ray disc.
Overall, while “Underworld: Blood Wars” is not a film that focuses on a deep storyline and fans of the previous film can expect to see a lot of fighting, a lot of deaths, non-stop action and Kate Beckinsale continuing to look awesome and also kicking a lot of arse!
A worthy continuation of the “Underworld” film series that leans very heavy on the action, if you are looking for an all-out action film with vampires vs. werewolves, “Underworld: Blood Wars” will definitely appeal to you!
Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release of “The Wanderers” is not only entertaining and cool, it’s the definitive version of the film to own! Highly recommended!
© 1979 Orion Pictures Company. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Wanderers
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1979
DURATION: 117 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1:85:1, DTS Stereo
COMPANY: Kino Lorber
RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2017
Based on the Novel by Richard Price
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Screenplay by Rose Kaufman, Philip Kaufman
Produced by Martin Ransohoff
Executive Producer: Fred C. Caruso, Richard R. St. Johns
Associate Producer: Fred C. Caruso
Cinematography by Michael Chapman
Edited by Stuart H. Pappe, Ronald Roose
Casting by Scott Rudin
Production Design by John Jay Moore
Set Decoration by Thomas C. Tonery
Costume Design by Robert De Mora
Ken Wahl as Richie
John Friedrich as Joey
Karen Allen as Nina
Toni Kalem as Despie Galasso
Alan Rosenberg as Turkey
Jim Youngs as Buddy
Tony Ganios as Perry
Linda Manz as Peewee
William Andrews as Emilio
Erland van Lidth as Terror
Val Avery as Mr. Sharp
Dolph Sweet as Chubby Galasso
Michael Wright as Clinton
Dion Alabanese as Teddy Wong
Olympia Dukakis as Joey’s Mom
Brand New 2K Restoration! Meet the Wanderers, the Coolest Guys in Town! Tully High School seniors Richie, Joey and Perry run with a gang called The Wanderers in the Bronx. The year is 1963 but their experiences are universal: falling in love, surviving in school and defending their turf against rivals like the Fordham Baldies, the Del Bombers and the Ducky Boys. From the acclaimed first novel by Richard Price (Clockers), The Wanderers is a rich fabric of comedy and tragedy, fantasy and farce. Director Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff) mixes dynamic talents that include Ken Wahl (The Soldier), Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Toni Kalem (The Sopranos) and Linda Manz (Days of Heaven) with a jukebox full of golden oldies to generate a heady atmosphere. Like American Graffiti and Saturday Night Fever, this cult-classic is a nostalgic window to a vanished world. Beautifully shot by the great Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull). This special edition includes both the original theatrical version and the very rarely seen Preview Cut.
Back in 1979, director Philip Kaufman released his American drama film “The Wanderers” which was loosely based on the novel by Philip Price.
Featuring a screenplay by Philip Kaufman and his wife Rose, “The Wanderers” would star Ken Wahl (“Wiseguy”, “Fort Apache, The Bronx”, “Purple Hearts”), John Friedrichs (“The Boy in the Plastic Bubble”, “Thank God It’s Friday”, “The Final Terror”), Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “The Perfect Storm”), Toni Kalem (“Sister Act”, “Silent Rage”), Jim Youngs (“Footloose”, “Youngblood”, “Hotshot”), Tony Ganios (“Die Hard 2”, “Porky’s”, “Porky’s Revenge”), Linda Manz (“Days of Heaven”, “The Game”, “Out of the Blue”), William Andrews (“Saturday Night Fever”, “Plainsong”), Michael Wright (“The Interpreter”, “The Five Heartbeats”, “The Principal”) and Olympia Dukakis (“Look Who’s Talking”, “Moonstruck”).
Since its debut in 1979, “The Wanderers” has a significant cult following and with the new brand new 2K restoration, the Kino Lorber Blu-ray and DVD release of “The Wanderers” features the original 118 minute theatrical version and the very rarely seen 124 minute “Preview Cut”.
The film is set in the Bronx back in 1963 and begins with a gang of Italian-American teenagers known as the Wanderers and members Joey (portrayed by John Friedrich) and Turkey (portrayed by Alan Rosenberg) walking around. Turkey has shaved his head in hopes he could join the rival gang, the Fordham Baldies.
Joey tries to persuade Turkey from joining and when Joey says something bad about the Baldies, the rival gang’s leader’s girlfriend Peewee (portrayed by Linda Manz) overhears them. She tells her boyfriend, Baldies leader Terror (portrayed by Erland van Lidth) and Joey and Turkey take off running and the Baldies gang chases after them.
Meanwhile, Wanderers leader, Richie (portrayed by Ken wahl) is having sex with his girlfriend Despie (portrayed by Toni Kalem), but when he hears the two in trouble, Richie and Buddy (portrayed by Jim Youngs) try to give them help but find out the entire Baldies gang is after them.
As the four Wanderers are cornered by members of the Baldies, a tall Italian guy named Perry (portrayed by Tony Ganios) comes to their rescue and beats up some of the Baldies and saves them.
As the Wanderers gang are happy that Perry came to rescue them, Joey finds out that Perry has recently moved to the Bronx from New Jersey and they live across the hall from each other. And Perry becomes the latest member of the Wanderers.
As Joey introduces Perry to the various gangs in the school and how the Blacks and the Asians are separated from each other, during class, their teacher wanted to show them how they shouldn’t hate each other, by having the Italians and the African-American students think of derogatory terms towards each other.
Unfortunately, what the teacher was trying to get them to do and show them how they are alike, instead pits the two together and Richie and Clinton (portrayed by Michael Wright) decide to fight each other with no knives or weapons, just a fight between the two ethnic groups.
But Richie and the Wanderers know they don’t have the numbers, so they start reaching out to other ethnicities, but none of them are interested. And those who are, want to use weapons, which Richie said he and Clinton made a promise not to.
The group try to get the Wongs involved but their leader Teddy said they will make a decision at a later time to decide who they want to side with.
So, that leaves Richie, Joey and Turkey going to the Baldies for help. But instead, they get back at the Wanderers for their earlier skirmish and have Richie and Joe take off their pants and have Turkey do the dirty work. And allowing Turkey to join the Baldies after betraying his friends.
Meanwhile, Richie, Joey, Perry and Buddy later have fun with the women by playing a game of “elbow titting” and Richie meets Nina (portrayed by Karen Allen). While Richie is interested in Nina and both are flirtatious towards each other, because Richie is dating Despie, he tries to set Joey up with Nina. And the all decide to meet up at Despie’s party.
But what happens on the night of the party?
“The Wanderers” is presented in 1080p (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Watching this cult classic once again, the 2K restoration actually looks fantastic and the best I have seen of the film yet. Details are much more evident, closeups show better detail and I like how the colors look more vibrant instead of muted colors as seen with the older VHS version of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Wanderers” is presented in English Dolby Digital Monaural. While dialogue and music are crystal clear through the center channel, I didn’t notice any pops or clicks considering the age of the film. The monaural lossless soundtrack is very good.
“The Wanderers” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Philip Kaufman.
- Audio Commentary – Featuring an insightful audio commentary by Columbia University Film Professor 7 author of “Philip Kaufman”, Annette Insdorf.
- Back in the Bronx with Richard Price – (35:17) Author Richard Price talks about his book “The Wanderers” and it be adapted to a film.
- Wanderers Forever – Live Q&A At NYC’s Film Forum – (16:37) Featuring a Q&A with Karen Allen, Toni Kalem, Tony Ganios and Richard Price.
- The Wanderers Q&A at LA’s Cinefamily – (31:57) A Q&A with director Philip Kaufman, Alan Roseburg and Peter Kaufman
- Audio Q&A at NYC’s Film Forum (19:46) An audio Q&A with director Philip Kaufman.
- Audio Q&A at NYC’s Film Forum – (16:41) An audio Q&A with writer Richard Price
- Re-Release Trailer
- TV Spot
“The Wanderers” is no doubt a cult classic that entertains audiences for its take on the Bronx life of teenagers during the early ’60s, the gangs that existed back in the day but also the segregation among ethnic groups.
It was no doubt a tough and dangerous time back in the day, and despite the film being made in 1979, director Philip Kaufman who would be known for his work on the “Indiana Jones” films, will also be celebrated for creating this film adaptation of Richard Price’s original novel.
The film featured a cast of young talent who would later go on to make a name for themselves after “The Wanderers”.
Ken Wahl was a fixture on television thanks to the “Wiseguy” but unfortunately after an accident, his acting career was over. But he and wife Shane Barbi (of the Barbi Twins) focus their energy on animal rights issues.
Karen Allen would become a big film star in the ’80s with “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Starman”, “Scrooged”). Toni Kalem would star in “The Sopranos” and “Sister Act and became a filmmaker (as did Karen Allen), Linda Manz was well-known for starring in Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven” in 1978 but would continue acting for two more decades and star in the David Fincher film “The Game”.
Alan Rosenberg would be seen in TV shows “The Guardian” and “Cybill” and Michael Wright would star in numerous films including “The Interpreter”, “The Five Heartbeats”, “The Principal” to name a few.
And while most of the film, these young talent would be character with their own differences, its the storyline and adaptation by Philip Kaufman that would bring these characters to life. While not as risque as Richard Price’s original novel, “The Wanderers” manages to incorporate what people loved of films depicting ’60s life but also the film’s undertones and messages. May it be to a reaction of JFK’s death, the music of Bob Dylan, teen fun and sexual innuendo, it’s an honest depiction of the times, including racial turbulence that was prevalent in the Bronx.
And there are numerous reasons to love the film. For me, it was the characters, the adventures, the cultural complications, the gang lifestyle of the ’60s and as an adult, I appreciated the film so much more, in terms of character dynamics but also knowing the context of the characters and the meaning of certain scenes that I was not aware of when I saw this film in my early teens.
With the release of “The Wanderers” on Blu-ray, not only do fans get the definitive version to own but also a small reunion of characters for the film’s Q&A decades after the film was released in theaters. But you learn about the filming and experiences behind-the-scenes as well.
I absolutely enjoyed the various Q&A featurettes but also the two insightful audio commentaries and for the most part, this is one of the most entertaining, pleasant Blu-ray releases one can own if you love “The Wanderers”.
Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release of “The Wanderers” is not only entertaining and cool, it’s the definitive version of the film to own! Highly recommended!
“Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence. So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action! Recommended!” a try!
Image courtesy of © POT (Yoshihiro Togashi, 1998-2011). All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Hunter x Hunter vol. 2
DURATION: Episodes 14-26 (300 Minutes)
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese 2.0 LPCM, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Viz Media
RATED: TV 14
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Originally created by Yoshihiro Togashi
Director: Hiroshi Koujina
Series Composition: Atsushi Maekawa, Tsutomu Kamishiro
Character Design by Takahiro Yoshimatsu
Art Director: Mio Isshiki
Executive Producer: Seiji Okuda
Producer: Akira Shinohara, Manabu Tamura, Naoki Iwasa, Tetsuto Motoyasu, Tomoko Yoshino, Toshio Nakatani
Anime Production: Madhouse
Featuring the following voice talent:
Megumi Han/Erica Mendez as Gon Freecss
Keiji Fujiwara/Matthew Mercer as LeoRio
Kanako Mitsuhashi/Cristina Vee as Killua Zaoldyeck
Miyuki Sawashiro/Erika Harlacher as Kurapica
Akio Ohtsuka/Patrick Seitz as Mizaistom Nana/Uvogin
Aya Endo as Komugi
Ayumi Fujimura as Neferpito
Chisa Yokoyama as Biscuit Krueger
Cho as Bonolenov
Daisuke Kishio/Ray Chase as Hanzo
Daisuke Namikawa/Keith Silverstein as Hisoka
In the Fourth Phase of the Hunter Exam the participants must steal ID badges from each other—and anyone without enough badges at the end of one week fails! It will take trickery, unexpected alliances, and careful negotiations for Gon and his friends to succeed. In the Final Phase, the remaining Hunter candidates are matched up for one-on-one battles—but the only way to win this fight is to lose! After the exam, Gon discovers that Killua has gone back home, so he and his friends head to the Republic of Padokea to find him.
The “Hunter x Hunter” series is one of the most popular and long-running manga series in Japan. Written and designed by Yoshihiro Togashi (creator of “Yu Yu Hakusho’), the manga series began in 1998 and is still ongoing to this day with 33 volumes published.
As for the animated series, the first series premiered in 1999 through 2001 and lasted 62 episodes. A 30 OVA episodes then was released from 2002-2004. And then nearly a decade later, a 148-episode TV series which was shown on NTV which ran from 2011-2014.
And now, the recent “Hunter x Hunter” TV series will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Viz Media.
This new series is a reboot of the anime series and is based on Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Hunter x Hunter” manga and this time is produced by Madhouse and is directed by Hiroshi Kojina. The new series also features an all new voice talent (both for the Japanese and English dub).
The new series revolves around Gon Freecss, who finds out that his father who was thought to be dead, is very much alive. Having been brought up by his aunt Mito, Gon finds out that his father is Ging, the legendary “Hunter” and now Gon, wants to follow his father’s footsteps by passing the “Hunter Examination” and one day, to be reunited with his father.
On his path to become a hunter, he meets Kurapika (who wants to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan) and Leorio (who wants to be a hunter for the money).
In the first volume, the three arrived at Zaban City and take part in the first three phases of the Hunter exam venue.
In the second volume (episodes 14-26), the applicants arrive at Zevil Island for the fourth phase of the exam. Each person draws a number to find out who their target is and the goal is to steal their opponents ID tag. Each applicant must collect six points in order to pass the fourth phase.
Gon finds out that his opponent is the murderous Hisoka and thrives on near death experiences. Leorio finds out his target is Ponzu (who specializes in traps and poison) and Kurapika’s target is Tonpa.
As the two form an alliance, they are now stalked by Hisoka.
The second volume also features the final phase of the Hunter Exam, where winners lose and the losers advance. Will Gon, Kurapika or Leorio pass the Hunter exam?
And also is included are the beginning episodes of the Zoldyck Family Arc (starting with episode 22) and Gon and friends go to Kukuroo Mountain to visit Killua. Meanwhile, we learn about Killua’s family and childhood.
“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Madhouse is no doubt respectful to Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga series.
As expected with a TV series, there is a slight hint of softness but for the most part, colors are vibrant and overall animation and fighting animation is done well. I didn’t notice any major issues with artifacts or banding.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Hunter x Hunter” is presented in LPCM Japanese and English 2.0. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.
Subtitles are in English.
“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 features the clean opening and ending songs, trailers and ending credits.
“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three post cards.
“Hunter x Hunter” is an adventure, action-packed anime series that will attract anime fans who are willing to invest their time in another popular anime series that has lasted for over a hundred episodes.
Similar to “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Dragon Ball Z”, “Hunter x Hunter” has been a popular manga and anime series in Japan and with the original series feeling that it was aiming for a younger demographic, this recent series has a more darker feel as the violence is more evident and people do die.
Having watched the original series, this latest version is quick to bring Gon and his friends to take the Hunter exam, while the original put a lot of character development into Gon and how Gon is different from other hunters since he was raised by a loving relative and lived in a village where there has not been much strife or conflict, so he is a bit naive about the world around him. In fact, his motivation in becoming a hunter is so opposite of what other hunters are wanting it for. But Gon’s pure and positive attitude seems to have an effect on the people that he meets. In some ways, the original series reminded me of the character Naruto in that aspect.
But Gon is still an entertaining character to watch. Gon has the ability to communicate with animals like his father and carries a fishing pole that acts like a weapon and helps him swing to different areas. He is also learning more and more about his abilities as he continues on in his hunter training with his friends.
Kurapika is intelligent, a balanced fighter and also is a conjurer and specialist with the ability to materialize objects with his imagination. He is a character that is on a mission to become a hunter to hunt down the Phantom Troupe, who massacred his clan.
Leorio is a man with a hot temper but has a good heart. He seems to want to be a hunter because of money and he is a great fighter.
The second volume shows how this friendship grows among the three but also introduces Killua Zoldyck.
But the big focus with this second volume is more focus on Hisoka, the 44th applicant who has a lust for blood and kills his opponents and it led to his failure in last year’s Hunter exam.
As for the anime series, the Blu-ray release features a solid lossless stereo soundtrack and both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted. Animation is also very well-done by Madhouse and while there is a hint of softness, the anime series is quite colorful and looks great in HD.
While special features are the usual clean opening and ending theme, trailers and credits, “Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 comes with three collectible postcards.
Overall, “Hunter x Hunter” is an improvement over the first series and is respectful to the original manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi but also features a more action-driven storyline with much more violence. So, it’s not as child-friendly as the first series from 1999-2001 but this newer “Hunter x Hunter” is a series that I found entertaining and full of action! Recommended!
It is very common for us cineaste to go back into the past and select films that shocked us, that surprised us and enjoing cinema that inspires us. Films that we are truly passionate for, because of the director’s vision, a film’s creativity and originality and for some auteurs that have created such films, we have regarded these films as a masterpiece. I feel that I can watch Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” over and over, enjoy it and know that I have watched a masterpiece. Each time you watch “Toni Erdmann”, you gain a deeper appreciation for the film and it’s a true feeling that makes you proud that cinema is still alive! “Toni Erdmann” is recommended!
© 2016 Komplizen Film. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Toni Erdmann
YEAR OF FILM: 2016
DURATION: 133 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, German, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (Strong Sexual Content, Graphic Nudity, Language and Brief Drug Use)
AVAILABLE ON: April 11, 2017
Directed by Maren Ade
Screenplay by Maren Ade
Produced by Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Michel Merkt
Co-Producer: David Keitsch, Sebastian Schipper, Antonin Svoboda, Bruno Wagner
Executive Produced by Ada Solomon
Line Producer: Ben von Dobeneck
Cinematography by Patrick Orth
Edited by Heike Parplies
Casting by Viorica Capdefier, Nina Haun, Amanda Tabak
Production Design by Silke Fischer
Art Direction by Malina Ionescu
Set Decoration by Katja Schlomer
Costume Design by Gitti Fuchs
Sandra Huller as Ines Conradi
Peter Simonischek as Winfried
Michael Wittenborn as Henneberg
Thomas Loibi as Gerald
Trystan Putter as tim
Ingrid Bisu as Anca
Hadewych Minis as Tatjana
Lucy Russell as Steph
Victoria Cocias as Flavia
Alexandru Papadopol as Dascalu
Victoria Malektorovych as Natalja
Winfried rarely sees Ines since she left for a high-powered corporate job. So when he drops by to visit, the two quickly find themselves at odds as his quirky antics clash with her slick lifestyle. Determined to be part of her world, Winfried reappears as alter ego “Toni Erdmann,” an outrageous life coach who turns his daughter’s career plans upside-down. In the course of all the madness, the two discover that maybe they have more in common than they imagined.
From filmmaker, writer and producer Maren Ade (“Everyone Else”, “The Forest for the Trees”) comes the German/Austrian comedy-drama “Toni Erdmann”.
The film stars Sandra Huller (“Requiem”, “Uber Uns Das All”, “Brownian Movement”), Peter Simonischek (“Oktober November”, “Geburtig”, “Saphirblau”), Michael Wittenborn (“Wir Sind Die Neuen”, “Ein Freund Von Mir”, “Yella”), Thomas Loibl (“Ende der Schonzeit”, “3096 Days”, “Like a Cast Shadow”), Trystan Putter (“Phoenix”, “War Horse”, “Passion”), Ingrid Bissu (“Outbound”, “BloodRayne”), Hadewych Minis (“Borgman”, “Bloed, Zweet & Tranen”) and Lucy Russell (“Following”, “The Lady and the Duke”).
The film has received critical acclaim and was named “Best Film of 2016” by “Sight & Sound” and won five awards at the 29th European Film Awards for “Best Film” (the first for a film directed by a woman), “Best Director”, “Best Screenwriter”, “Best Actor” and “Best Actress”. The film was also nominated for “Best Foreign Language Film” at the 89th Academy Awards.
And now “Toni Erdmann” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
The film begins with the introduction of Winfried Conradi (portrayed by Peter Simonischek), a divorced music teacher and often likes to pull pranks, take on different personas and sport fake teeth.
Since the divorce, he hasn’t had much of a relationship with his daughter Ines (portrayed by Sandra Huller), a business consultant and is currently working on an outsourcing project in the oil industry and so, she is always busy and doesn’t have much time for anyone, including her family. That even Winfried makes jokes that he wants to hire a replacement daughter to cut his nails.
After the death of his dog, Winfried decides to travel to Bucharest, Romania spontaneously without letting Ines know that he is coming.
Surprised by the visit, Ines allows her father accompany him to a reception at the American Embassy with Henneberg, a German oil company CEO and Ines is desperate in trying to secure a consulting contract with him.
While at the reception, Winfried ends up talking to Henneberg and jokes about hiring a replacement daughter to cut his nails and because of this, Henneberg ends up inviting both Ines and her father for drinks.
Winfried gets to see how life is for her daughter as she is constantly stressed out, doesn’t get much sleep and when she oversleeps one day, she gets upset and gives her father a hint that she’s too busy and they will meet up when she has the time.
After a difficult day of trying to win a contract with Henneberg, Ines goes out with her two friends for dinner but out of nowhere, a man approaches and offers them drinks. He introduces himself as Toni Erdmann and to Ines’ shock, the man is her father in another disguise. Toni tells the women that he is in Bucharest to attend the funeral of his friend’s turtle.
And this is just the beginning as Ines starts to see Toni Erdmann at major parties and also near her office but she allows her father to continue with his jokes and not acknowledging to anyone that he is her father.
But will this odd behavior from her father push her away, considering how frustrated and unfulfilled she is with work?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, a Blu-ray release of “Toni Erdmann” is available. With that being said, the film is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and in German/English 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video. Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels primarily ambiance (especially during scenes with crowds).
But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.
“Toni Erdmann” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with actress Sandra Huller, actor Peter Simonischek and producer Janine Jackowski.
- Toni Erdmann at AFI Fest – (16:04) Featuring scenes from the red carpet and Q&A.
- Theatrical Trailer
Whenever one can watch cinema that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you want to watch it over and over again, you know that film is truly special.
Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” is no doubt a special film free from banality, creative and original and not predictable.
It’s one thing to have a film about a father wanting to reconnect with his busy, stressed-out daughter and as the film slowly introduces us to Winnfried and Ines in the first half of the film, showing us how the father is literally a class clown but just wants to be a part of his daughters life.
While Ines is always frustrated, feels underappreciated and literally does whatever she can to win a contract, even if it means meeting a client’s wife to help her with shopping. You can literally feel the tension, the frustration that she is on a verge of a nervous breakdown.
So, when her father shows up spontaneously to Bucharest without letting her know and during a time she is trying to win a major client, it’s one thing as daughter gives her father a chance to see how her life is.
By the second half of the film, we then start to see her father taking on the persona of Toni Erdmann and somehow ending up at posh parties that she is attends and somehow seeing him continue with this a ridiculous persona but yet letting him continue.
But it’s certain scenes, while very sexual or have a lot of nudity that come out of nowhere and just shows us how Ines is dealing with her life and literally giving a message of “I don’t give a f*ck anymore!”.
And as for Winnfried, as a father knowing that despite her busy and tough nature, somewhere inside her, she still daddy’s little girl.
The performances by actress Sandra Huller and Peter Simonishchek was truly amazing. Huller gives us a performance of a lifetime and she just gets better and better with each film that she stars in.
Overall, it is very common for us cineaste to go back into the past and select films that shocked us, that surprised us and enjoing cinema that inspires us. Films that we are truly passionate for, because of the director’s vision, a film’s creativity and originality and for some auteurs that have created such films, we have regarded these films as a masterpiece. I feel that I can watch Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” over and over, enjoy it and know that I have watched a masterpiece.
Each time you watch “Toni Erdmann”, you gain a deeper appreciation for the film and it’s a true feeling that makes you proud that cinema is still alive!
“Toni Erdmann” is recommended!
If you enjoyed “Naruto”, you’ll find “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations -” to be entertaining and a lot of fun to read! I look forward to the second volume of “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations -“.
Image courtesy of © 2016 Masashi Kishimoto. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Boruto – Naruto Next Generations – vol. 1
Creator/Supervisor: Masashi Kishimoto
Story by Ukyo Kodachi and Art by Mikio Ikemoto
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shueisha Inc., Tokyo
RATED: T for Teen
RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2017
The ninja adventures continue with Naruto’s son, Boruto!
Naruto was a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He achieved his dream to become the greatest ninja in his village, and now his face sits atop the Hokage monument. But this is not his story… A new generation of ninja are ready to take the stage, led by Naruto’s own son, Boruto!
Years have passed since Naruto and Sasuke teamed up to defeat Kaguya, the progenitor of chakra and the greatest threat the ninja world has ever faced. Times are now peaceful and the new generation of shinobi has not experienced the same hardships as its parents. Perhaps that is why Boruto would rather play video games than train. However, one passion does burn deep in this ninja boy’s heart, and that is the desire to defeat his father!
The popular manga series “Naruto” has been going strong since its debut in Shueisha back in 1999 via “Weekly Shonen Jump” magazine.
The manga by Masashi Kishimoto is about a young ninja named Naruto Uzamaki, a ninja of the Konoha leaf village who grew up facing prejudiced within his fellow ninjas because the evil nine-tailed fox was sealed inside him. But throughout the series, we have seen how Naruto is a kind-hearted boy who has worked hard in protecting his friends and staying true to his word with the goal of someday becoming the next Hokage of the village.
In 2014, Kishimoto wrapped up the “Naruto” manga and in the final chapter (featured in volume 72), Naruto would eventually become the Hokage of the Leaf Village and he and his wife Hinata would have two children, Boruto and Himawari.
Meanwhile, Sasuke and Sakura would have a daughter named Sarada, Shikamaru Nara and Temari would have a son named Shikadai, Sai and Ino would have a son named Inojin and Choji Akimichi and Karui would have a daughter named Chocho.
Everyone has grown up and Naruto is busy as the new Hokage at the village, this causes resentment from Naruto’s son Boruto who feels that his father was never there for him or the family.
This leads us to the new manga series “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations” which is created and supervised by Masashi Kishimoto but is now written by Ukyo Kodachi and artwork is by Mikio Ikemoto.
The manga begins with Boruto telling his story and him and his team partners, Sarada and Mitsuki being trained by Master Konohamaru. A lot has changed in terms of ninja skills and technology.
Now, a jutsu can be contained in a mini-seal and put into a bracelet which gives anyone, ninja or not, the power to use a jutsu. No chakra is even needed to use the new technology.
With the next Chunin exams coming up, Sarada and Mitsuki want to take the exam but Boruto, he has no desire. He doesn’t want to be like his father and that means not wanting to be Hokage. But for Sarada, she wants to be Hokage and tries to get Boruto to take part in the Chunin exam to let his father know he could do it.
Meanwhile, Sasuke Uchiha returns to the village and Boruto, not wanting to be anything like his father, goes to Sasuke to take him in as a pupil. But Sasuke will only agree if Boruto can learn the Sharingan jutsu.
We also get to learn about Mitsuki and find out who his parent(s) may be.
Reading “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations – vol. 1”, I can’t help but be entertained by the fact that the series focuses on the children of the characters that many of us grew up reading/watching for 15 years.
“Naruto” having lasted so long was a big part of the lives of manga/anime fans of the series that we watched “Naruto” grow from a child, to a teenager and a young adult. Seeing how his heart and his passion would inspire so many but also seeing him determined to defeat those who threatened the village or his friends.
With Naruto, he is a student that felt he had to prove himself through hardwork and determination.
So, it’s fascinating to see how Boruto is much different than his father. Naruto, who had always said he would become Hokage is now the new Hokage of the Leaf Village but this new role means being busy with work and unfortunately, that means no time spent with the family.
Hinata is literally taking care of both children and you can see how Boruto is upset at his father for neglecting them, but he harbors a bit of anger for his father not being there for him.
What’s even more interesting is that Boruto is not too aware of his father’s past and how he grew up, so he is not aware of the challenges or difficulties his father grew up with.
And because of his feelings towards his father, he asks his dad’s rival, Sasuke Uchiha to become his master.
The first volume features the first test in the Chunin exams but also goes into who the parent of Mitsuki is and really interesting background about him as well.
And I’ll leave it that.
This is a new beginning, a new chapter and not sure if this will last for another 15 years but this is a tremendous task and also honor that “Naruto” creator Masashi Kishimoto had bestowed upon writer Ukyo Kodachi and artist Mikio Ikemoto.
The story and artwork is well-done and for the most part, I just enjoy reading this latest volume because this storyline is literally a passing of the torch to a new generation of characters in the Leaf Village.
And having read and enjoyed the “Naruto” manga (I enjoyed the anime series but the plethora of filler episodes made things drag out way too long for me), it’s great to read a story focused on the 7th Hokage’s son.
If you enjoyed “Naruto”, you’ll find “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations -” to be entertaining and a lot of fun to read!
I look forward to the second volume of “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations -“.
“Lion” is deserving for each of its award nominations, critical praise internationally and it’s a film that many people will no doubt find extraordinary and worth watching on Blu-ray. “Lion” is recommended!
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 118 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (Thematic Material and Some Sexuality)
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2017
Based on the book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierly
Directed by Garth Davis
Screenplay by Luke Davies
Produced by Iain Canning, Angie Fielder, Emile Sherman
Associate Producer: Simone Nicholson, Karen Sproul
Executive Producer: Andrew Fraser, David Glasser, Daniel Levin, Shahen Mekertichian, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Associate Producer: Simone Nicholson, Karen Sproul
Music by Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O’Halloran
Cinematography by Greig Fraser
Edited by Alexandre de Franceschi
Casting by Kirsty McGregor
Production Design by Chris Kennedy
Set Decoration by Nicki Gardiner, Seema Kashyap
Costume Design by Cappi Ireland
Dev Patel as Saroo Brierly
Rooney Mara as Lucy
Sunny Pawar as Young Saroo
David Wenham as John Brierly
Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierly
Abhishek Bharate as Guddu
Divian Ladwa as Mantosh Brierly
Priyanka Bose as Kamla
Tannishtha Chatterjee as Noor
Pallavi Sharda as Prama
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Rama
Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of Kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.
In 2013, businessman Saroo Brierly wrote a book titled “A Long Way Home” which is based on his autobiographical account of being separated from his biological mother and family at the age of 5 and adopted by an Australian couple and then 25-years later being reunited with his biological mother.
Brierly’s book received international recognition when his book was released worldwide in 2014 and in 2016, his story received a live film adaptation.
The Australian biographical film was directed by Garth Davis (“Mary Magdalene”, “Alice”, “P.I.N.S.”) and features a screenplay by Luke Davies (“Candy”, “Life”).
The film stars Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “Chappie”, “The Last Airbender”, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), Nicole Kidman (“Moulin Rouge”, “The Others”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “The Hours”), Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Side Effects”), David Wenham (“300”, “The Lord of the Rings” films, “Van Helsing”), Divian Ladwa (“Dectorists”, “8 Minutes Idle”, “Saxon”), Priyanka Bose (“Johnny Gaddaar”, “Gulaab Gang”, “Guzaarish”), Abhishek Bharate and Sunny Pawar.
The $12 million film would go on to earn $130.2 million worldwide and receiving positive reviews from critics worldwide. The film would receive six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards and received five nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.
The film begins in 1986 and is set in Khandwa, India. The film introduces us to a young Saroo (portrayed by Sunny Pawar), a five-year-old boy who wants to prove to his older brother Guddu (portrayed by Abhishek Bharate) that he can work and provide for their poor family. His mother Kamla is busy raising the two boys and their young sister and works at a job hauling rocks.
One day, Guddu is planning to do some salvaging at a nearby train station and Saroo begs for his older brother to take him along. Guddu allows him and when they arrive to the station late at night, Saroo is too sleepy. So, Guddu tells his little brother to sleep on the bench, while he goes out to salvage.
When Saroo wakes up, he realizes that Guddu is not around and starts looking for him. He ends up going inside a train to look for his brother but is unable to find him. He goes back to sleep but this time inside the train. Too his surprise, when he wakes up, he finds out that he is locked in the train and the train is in motion.
Unfortunately, Saroo is unable to leave and for several days, the train takes him thousands of miles to Calcutta. When the doors open, unfortunately Saroo is unable to communicate because he speaks Hindu, while the locals speak Bengali. When he tries to tell the ticket counter that he needs to go back home to “Ginestlay”, no one understands.
Saroo is forced to sleep overnight in the streets but starts to learn of the dangers as many of the homeless children sleeping in the streets are kidnapped by child predators late at night. Saroo manages to escape and live in the streets, homeless and one day he finds a spoon buried in the dirt. As he goes into the city, he watches a young man eating soup with a spoon and starts to emulate him.
The young man takes Saroo to the police and they try to help him and hope by publishing his photo in a major newspaper that reaches all over India, his family may come to claim him. But not knowing where Saroo comes from, they put him up in an orphanage.
Eventually an Australian couple, Sue (portrayed by Nicole Kidman) and John Brierly (portrayed by David Wenham) are interested in adopting an Indian boy and moves Saroo from India to Hobart, Tasmania in 1987. And they raise Saroo with a lot of love and he eventually comes to love his new parents.
A year later, they adopt another boy named Mantosh, a boy who has a mental problem and tends to harm himself which puts a little strain on the Brierly’s.
Fastforward 20-years later and Saroo (portrayed by Dev Patel) is moving to Melbourne to study hotel management. He has a relationship with fellow student, Lucy (portrayed by Rooney Mara) and when they go to a party with other fellow Indian students, many are interested in how Saroo came to Australia and learn of how he was lost and was later adopted.
This triggers memories of Saroo’s mom and brother and the thought of them looking for their son haunts Saroo. He starts to use Google Earth and using information on the Internet to find where he may come from. All he knows is the two towers that he saw at a station, a field where his mother collected rocks and he becomes obsessed of finding where he came from and reuniting with his family.
But will Saroo ever find his biological family?
“Lion” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film features wonderful detail during closeup scenes and outdoor scenes. I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Lion” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue, music and ambiance-driven. The surround channels do a good job of showcasing the train sounds through the surround channels, but for the most part, the film is dialogue and music-driven and focused on the front and center channels.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Lion” comes with the following special features:
- Deleted Scenes – (4:36) Featuring three deleted scenes.
- Behind the Scenes Gallery – (22:16) Features “A Conversation with Saroo Brierly”, “A Conversation with Dev Patel”, “A Conversation with Nicole Kidman”, “A Conversation with Director Garth Davis” and “Making the Music”.
- “Never Give Up” Music Video – Performed by Sia – (3:44)
“Lion” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.
As a father, I can’t fathom the heartbreak of living life wondering if your child is alive or dead. As a child, separated from his biological family, one can only wonder the pain they experience and wondering if their family is looking for them.
Based on a true story about Saroo Brierly’s quest to find where he lived using modern technology and in hopes being reunited with his family. And hopefully accomplish this as the sight of his family searching for him or in pain of not knowing what had become of him, haunts him to the point that he is unable to stay in school or have any personal relationships.
He is clearly devastated, depressed but also determined. But he just needs a break because his search for his family is difficult because all he remembers are just a few things, such as a two towers near a station, helping his mother collect rocks in a big dirt field and how many days he was stuck on a train.
While his adoptive parents are supportive and love him wholeheartedly, he doesn’t get along with his brother Mantosh all that much (because of his mental issues and self-harming affects his parents, especially his mother) and his relationship with Lucy is troubled because of his obsession of finding his biological family.
The film is driven in two parts. The first part with a younger Saroo (portrayed by Sunny Pawar) and seeing this young-child survive in India, without speaking the native language of Bengali in Calcutta but also seeing the dangers of child predators. And seeing how this young boy was able to go from homeless in the streets to being adopted by a very good family in Australia.
The second part features an older Saroo who has no clue about his past life and unlike other Indians who can identify with their culture, Saroo never knew of his Indian culture but as he is asked about it frequently and going to a party with other Indian classmates, his memories of his past start to come back and he finds himself more determined to finding where he came from and driven to be reunited with his mom and family.
While the first part is no doubt powerful, as we see a child of innocence becoming a boy surviving in the streets, the second part is about the search and that is where the film focuses on Saroo’s well-being and the thoughts of his mom and brother searching for him, starting to take over his life. And because of this, affecting his relationships to the people most close to him.
The film is no doubt powerful, inspirational and moving. Because you know it’s a true story, you can’t help but root for young and adult Saroo. But be marveled by the journey that Saroo had to endure as a young child but also as an adult, using today’s modern technology to help him find his biological family and wondering if they are alive or if they still live in the same area or have moved away.
The Blu-ray features wonderful picture and lossless audio. There are also a few special features included with the real-life Saroo, the talent, the director and how the music was conceived for the film.
Needless to say, “Lion” is deserving for each of its award nominations, critical praise internationally and it’s a film that many people will no doubt find extraordinary and worth watching on Blu-ray.
“Lion” is recommended!
I do recognize the pure awesomeness of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and its ending still makes an impact each time I watch it. And as mentioned earlier, for a sci-fi action-film, when you come across a film that makes you want to watch it multiple times, you know it’s a winner. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is highly recommended!
TITLE: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
FILM RELEASE: 2017
DURATION: 133 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
RATED: PG-13 (For Extended Sequences of Sci-Violence and Action)
RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2017
Based on Characters Created by George Lucas
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy
Story by John Kroll & Gary Whitta
Produced by Simon Emanuel, Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur
Co-Producer: Kiri Hart, John Swartz, Susan Towner
Executive Producer: John Knoll, Jason D. McGatlin
Associate Producer: Toby Hefferman
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by Greig Fraser
Edited by John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
Casting by Jina Jay
Production Design by Doug Chiang, Neil Lamont
Art Direction by Alex Baily, Alastair Bullock, Robert Cowper, Jordana Finkel, Lydia Fry, Ashley Lamont, Steven Lawrence, Oliver Roberts, Stuart Rose, Stephen Swain, Gary Tomkins, Helen Xenopoulos
Set Decoration by Lee Sandales
Costume Design by David Crossman, Glyn Dillon
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO
Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe
Wen Jiang as Baze Malbus
Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Guy Henry as Governor Tarkin
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa
Alistair Petrie as General Draven
Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma
Ben Daniels as General Merrick
Paul Kasey as Admiral Raddus
Stephen Stanton as Admiral Raddus (Voice)
Ian McElhinney as General Dodonna
Fares Fares as Senator Vaspar
Jonathan Aris as Senator Jebel
Sharaon Duncan-Brewster as Senator Pamlo
Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous as Darth Vader
James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (voice)
Ingvild as Princess Leia
Anthony Daniels as C-3P0
Valene Kane as Lyra Erso
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the STAR WARS stand-alone films — ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, an epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the STAR WARS timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Ten years before the development of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, visual effects supervisor John Knoll who worked on the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy pitched the idea of standalone “Star Wars” stories.
And in 2014, it was announced that the first standalone story “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” would be directed by Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”, “Godzilla”) and a story would be written by Knoll (visual effects supervisor for “Avatar”, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”, “Tomorrowland”) and Gary Whitta (“The Book of Eli”, “After Earth”) and a screenplay by Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”, “The Golden Compass”, “Cinderella”) and Tony Gilroy (writer of the “The Bourne” films).
The film starred Felicity Jones (“The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Inferno”, “The Theory of Everything”), Diego Luna (“Milk”, “The Terminal”, “The Book of Life”), the voice of Alan Tudyk (“I, Robot”, “Frozen”), Donnie Yen (“Ip Man” films, “Blade II”, “Hero”), Wen Jiang (“Devils on the Doorstep”, “Let the Bullets Fly”, “The Sun Also Rises”), Ben Mendelsohn (“Animal Kingdom”, “The Dark Knight Rises”), Guy Henry (“Holby City”, “V for Vendetta”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”), Forrest Whitaker (“The Last Kingdom of Scotland”, “Platoon”, “Arrival”), Riz Ahmed (“Four Lions”, “Jason Bourne”, “Nightcrawler”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale”, “The Hunt”, “Doctor Strange”, “Hannibal”).
The film that was budgeted at $200 million, would become an enormous success as it would go on to earn $1.055 billion worldwide.
And now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in April 2017.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” begins with research scientist Galen Erso (portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen) and his wife Lyra (portrayed by Valene Kane) hiding their young daughter Jyn on the planet Lah’mu. Not long after, Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic (portrayed by Orson Krennic) arrives and approaches Erso to complete his work for the Death Star (a space station that has a superweapon to destroy planets).
Sensing that their daughter did not hide underground as told, Lyra fights against the stormtrooper and is killed. As Erso gives himself up, Jyn manages to escape and is taken in by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera (portrayed by Forest Whitaker).
Fastfoward 15-years later and cargo pilot Bodhi Rook (portrayed by Riz Ahmed) defects from the empire and smuggles a holographic message from Galen Erso for Saw Gerrera on the desert moon Jedha about the Imperial Army creating a planet killer, the Death Star.
Meanwhile, rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor enters an Imperial labor camp at Wobani and along with his reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO frees Jyn (portrayed by Felicity Jones). Cassian takes Jyn to Rebel leader Mon Mothma, and in exchange for her freedom, she must rescue Galen so the Alliance can learn about the Death Star.
But in order to find her father, he must find Rebel extremist, Saw Gerrera, who she hasn’t seen for years to help her.
But Jyn is unaware that Cassian has been ordered by General Draven to kill her father father, not rescue him.
What happens when Jyn, Cassian and K-2SO go out to find Saw but also for Jyn to find her father, Galen? And who else will join Jyn in her journey to find her father?
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio).
The film looks absolutely wonderful in HD with closeups showing detail of skin pigments to seeing the detail in clothing. Outdoor scenes are vibrant and the CG utilized for the film is incredible. This is reference quality video and the film on Blu-ray looks fantastic!
For the most part, I didn’t notice any problematic issues with banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Also, included is an English 2.0 Description Audio and a French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Dialogue is crystal clear and there is good use of surround channels as chase scenes and shots and explosions can be heard all around. Action sequences are just fantastic to listen to, dialogue and music are crystal clear and yes, like the video, the film on Blu-ray features reference lossless audio. Fantastic!
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” comes with the following special features on a separate Blu-ray disc.
- The Stories – (1:08:57) Featuring the following featurettes: A Rogue Idea, Jyn: The Rebel, Cassian: The Spy, K-250: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & the Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues
- Rogue Connections – (4:30) A connection between “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and the previous “Star Wars” films.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” comes with a slipcover, two Blu-rays (for the film and special features), a DVD and a Digital HD code.
If you love “Star Wars”, especially the original trilogy, you will most definitely want to watch “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” which serves as a self-contained storyline that eventually leads to the beginning of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”.
As a “Star Wars” fan, a person who has watched every film when it first came out in the theater and also a fan who has a large “Star Wars” merchandise collection. Suffice to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect of this film.
Fortunately, watching “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” and having enjoyed it immensely, gave me enough encouragement to know that LucasFilms now owned by Disney is taking every precaution to make sure that these newer films tie-in to the original and that there is true meaning and reasoning for these films to be created, other than for the fact that “Star Wars” films generate huge revenue.
With “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, the connection is quite upfront. We know about the Death Star from “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” and how the Empire created a planet killer that happens to have a significant flaw. How did this flaw come to existence and how was the information passed on to the Rebel Alliance?
The film introduces us to Galen Erso, the scientist responsible for creating the Death Star. Forced to work for the Empire in order to keep his daughter Jyn safe, a cargo pilot named Bhodi Rook defects from the Empire and smuggles a holographic message from Galen to Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera.
Meanwhile, Jyn has lived a life of crime but has been given a second chance by the Rebel Alliance for her freedom, she must find Saw Gerrera (portrayed by Forest Whitaker) in order to get more information about this flaw in the Death Star that the Rebel Alliance can take advantage of the opportunity and destroy it.
Actress Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the headstrong, rebellious daughter of Galen Erso, while Mexican actor Diego Luna plays the role of Cassian Andor, who must accompany Jyn in finding Saw Gerrera but also hoping she can lead him to Galen Erso.
The two are joined by K-2SO, a reprogrammed Imperial robot who serves as the film’s comedy droid thanks to his blunt observations.
Joining Jyn are Chirrut Imwe portrayed by Chinese martial arts superstar Donnie Yen and also another popular Chinese actor Wen Jiang as the heavy weapon toting Baze Malbus.
And of course, there are connections to both Star Wars trilogies. While Peter Cushing who played General Tarkin in the original “Star Wars” trilogy passed away in 1994, with new technology, General Tarkin’s likeness has been created, while British actor Guy Henry supplies Tarkin’s voice. And Anthony Daniels reprises his role as the voice of C-3PO.
For the newer trilogy, Genevieve O’Reilly who played Mon Mothma in “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith”, reprises her role for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and Jimmy Smits (who started in “Star Wars: Episode II” and “Star Wars: Episode III”) reprises his role as Senator Bail Organa.
And of course, if you watched “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”, you know which major characters from that film’s beginning, will show up in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” to provide a connection between the two films.
What makes this film so entertaining is that this newfound team that Jyn is a part of, are opposites but know that the threat from the Empire is real and must do all they can to find the information on how to destroy the Death Star and get it to the Rebel Alliance.
I found the story to be captivating, the acting quite solid, the visual effects, set production and costume design to be magnificent and for a self-contained story, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was wonderful. In fact, when I watched in the theater, there was a part of me that wanted to watch it again. And now that I’m reviewing the film on Blu-ray, I think I’ve watched it five times already. That’s how much I really enjoyed this film.
The picture quality and lossless audio soundtrack are both reference quality and you get numerous special features that will surely entertain fans of the film.
But I’m not going to give it a perfect five stars because clearly, they held out on making this Blu-ray release quite definitive. There are no special features, audio commentary or the long special features that we have come to enjoy from a “Star Wars” film. While there will be a Blu-ray 3D release (that will be released the same time as the normal Blu-ray and DVD release), you can’t help but feel that there will be another release that will feature more and longer special features in the future.
And for audiophiles and videophiles, many await news of a 4K Ultra HD release of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.
But still, I do recognize the pure awesomeness of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and its ending still makes an impact each time I watch it. And as mentioned earlier, for a sci-fi action-film, when you come across a film that makes you want to watch it multiple times, you know it’s a winner.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is highly recommended!