Top

The Red Turtle (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Red Turtle” was an ambitious collaboration, the first for Studio Ghibli with a company and director overseas.  Filmmaker Michael Dudok de With and co-writer Pascale Ferran have truly created a film that is magical and captivating.  I really love this film and I can’t highly recommend it enough.  “The Red Turtle” is magnificent!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Studio Ghibli. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Red Turtle

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 81 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Portuguese and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Thematic Elements and Peril)

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017


Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit

Story by Michael Dudok de Wit

Screenplay by Pascale Ferran and Michael Dudok de Wit

Producer: Pascal Caucheteux, Vincent Maraval, Gregoire Soriat, Toshio Suzuki

Co-Producer: Remi Burah, Leon Perahia, Olivier Pere

Artistic Producer/Producer: Isao Takahata

Equity Provider: Serge Hayat

Line Producer: Christophe Jankovic

Music by Laurent Perez Del Mar

Edited by Celine Kalepikis


Featuring the Voices of:

Emmanuel Garijo as The Father

Tom Hudson as the Son (young adult)

Baptiste Goy as The Son (child)

Axel Devillers as The Baby (voice)

Barbara Beretta as The Mother (voice)


Marking the much-anticipated return of Studio Ghibli, this masterfully animated fantasy film tells the story of a man shipwrecked at sea who becomes stranded on a beautiful but desolate island. He learns to live in isolation, seemingly tormented in his efforts to escape the island by a giant red turtle. Miraculously, he soon comes upon a young woman also lost at sea and they create a family together.


Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit had worked on numerous animated shorts.  From “The Monk and the Fish”, “Father and Daughter” and “The Aroma of Tea”.

The touching 2000 animated short “Father and Daughter” made an impression on legendary Japanese animation filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki with the intent for Studio Ghibli to co-produce a film with Wild Bunch but with Michael Dudok de Wit to be part of the project.

Wild Bunch met with Dudok de Wit and it didn’t take long for him to say yes, as he is a huge fan of Studio Ghibli animated films.  And together with writer Pascale Ferran, she and Dudok de Wit would create “The Red Turtle”.

Studio Ghibli giving Dudok de Wit input but for the most part, giving him the creative freedom for this animated project.

Making its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the film would receive applause and eventually critical acclaim.

The film would be nominated for “Best Animated Feature” for the Academy Awards and now “The Red Turtle” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“The Red Turtle” is a film that has no dialogue but yet manages to captivate one’s attention with wonderful storytelling through actions of the characters and their surrounding environment.

The film begins with a man caught in a storm in the ocean and wakes up on a deserted island.

The man tries to leave the island by making a raft made of bamboo but unfortunately, his raft is destroyed when it hits an animal in the ocean.

The man tries to leave again with another raft that he had built, but once again, something in the ocean has prevented him from leaving.

When the man tries for a third time to leave the island with the raft, once again his attempts are foiled but this time, the man finds out that what is preventing him from leaving and it is a red turtle.

When the man spots the red turtle walking inland, the man gets his revenge by hitting the turtle on the head, turning the turtle on its back and jumping on him.

As the man tries to leave the island again with a raft, he feels guilty about what he had done to the turtle and catches a fish to feed it.  But it’s too late, the red turtle had died and the man is racked with guilt for what he had done.

Overnight, while sleeping with the dead turtle, he wakes up when he hears the turtles shell crack open through the center.  When the man looks out to the ocean and turns his head back to the turtle, to his shock and surprise, the turtle is gone and a woman is inside the shell and she is alive.

And when the man tries to take care of the woman and try to revive her, what will happen on the deserted island?


VIDEO:

“The Red Turtle” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). While the film is not a Studio Ghibli film in terms of animation style, the film features simple but yet well-drawn characters (which includes wonderful animated movements such as people running, swimming, etc.) and beautifully drawn environments, may it be the bamboo forests, water reflections, lighting effects, reflections on water, or even ocean water moving towards the shore, the film looks great.   There is no banding issues or artifacts.  Daylight animated scenes are vibrant and overall picture quality is great.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Red Turtle” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Englsh Audio Description 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

While there is no dialogue throughout the film, there is great use of ambiance of life living in a deserted island and a wonderful musical score by Laurent Perez Del Mar.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Portuguese and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Red Turtle” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director and co-writer Michael Dudok De Wit.
  • The Birth of the Red Turtle – (56:34) A featurette on the birth and making of “The Red Turtle”.
  • The Secrets of the Red Turtle – (17:44) Featuring director/co-writer Michael Dudok de Wit showing the secrets to sketching the film and tracing for setting up a frame and more.
  • The Red Turtle at AFI Fest Q&A – (20:44) Featuring a Q&A with director/co-writer Michael Dudok de Wit.
  • Theatrical Trailer

I have to admit that I was a little standoffish about a collaboration of Studio Ghibli with another company and director outside of Japan.

Having grown up with Studio Ghibli films, especially with Hayao Miyazaki films, there is part of you that will never forget classics such as “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”, “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”, “Howl’s Moving Castle”, to name a few.

Films that go beyond wonderful animation but stories that touch your soul.  Symbolization through actions that mirror the world, messages in a film that make you think twice and so much included in a film that you discover new things each time you view them.

That is the power of a Studio Ghibli film.  But when I read that Hayao Miyazaki was the person that wanted director Michael Dudok de Wit to be involved in a collaboration project, you can’t just say “why?”.  You have to put your trust that Studio Ghibli wanted Dudok de Wit for a reason.

I personally have not see any of Michael Dudok de Wit’s films, so I didn’t know what to expect with “The Red Turtle”.

When I started to watch the film, I noticed how different it was from the Japanese film productions of Studio Ghibli, but Wild Bunch and Dudok de Wit’s storytelling are strong, the symbolism is strong but most importantly, like Studio Ghibli films before it, this film left me with an emotional impact.  I discovered new things each time I have watched the film (which have been multiple times already).

While character designs may seem simple, the movements and the actions of the characters are what capture your attention.  The environments compliment the characters with reflections to water visual effects but it’s the humanity of the film that you are captivated from beginning to end.

A man who is stuck in a deserted island, feeling isolated, feeling guilty for killing an animal and to see it transform to a beautiful woman.  And where marriage, we know of the words “‘Til Death Do Us Part”, this film is about love between a couple, a love between a family, the joys of growing with your family but also the heartbreak of enduring near tragedy and of course, the process of life of growing old the one you love.

This is a magical love story that needs no words to tell the story.  It’s simple yet complex and it’s a Studio Ghibli, that may be visually different but yet the storyline captures your attention.

I absolutely love this film.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant, the lossless soundtrack is primarily outdoor ambiance and ocean sounds but the musical soundtrack by Laurent Perez Del Mar is emotionally moving.  Also, there are numerous, lengthy special features that admirers of the film will enjoy watching or listening to.

Overall, “The Red Turtle” was an ambitious collaboration, the first for Studio Ghibli with a company and director overseas.  Filmmaker Michael Dudok de With and co-writer Pascale Ferran have truly created a film that is magical and captivating.  I really love this film and I can’t highly recommend it enough.  “The Red Turtle” is magnificent!

Please follow and like us:

 

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Naoko Takeuchi / PNP / KODANSHA / TOEI ANIMATION. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2

DURATION: Episodes 15-26 (276 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: February 28, 2017


Originally created by Yoshihiro Togashi

Originally Created by Naoko Takeuchi

Director: Chiaki Kon

Series Composition: Yuji Kobayashi

Character Design by Akira Takahashi

Music by Yasuharu Takanashi

Art Design by Takashi Kurahashi

Anime Production: Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Stephanie Sheh as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rina Satou/Cristina Vee as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Ami Koshimizu/Amanda C. Miller as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter

Hisako Kanemoto/Kate Higgins as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

Shizuka Itou/Cherami Leigh as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Sayaka Ohara/Veronica Taylor as Michiru Kaiō/Sailor Neptune

Kenji Nojima/Robbie Daymond as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Kamen

Misato Fukuen/Sandy Fox as Chibi-usa/Sailor Chibi Moon

Ryou Hirohashi/Michelle Ruff as Luna

Youhei Oobayashi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Artemis

Shoko Nakagawa/Debi Derryberry as Diana


The next set in the brand new anime series, Sailor Moon Crystal!

Usagi Tsukino is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she’s also one spirited eighth grader. One day she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon mark on her forehead, and transforms into the pretty guardian of love and justice in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi apparently has a mission to protect a princess, and to find her fellow Guardians and the phantom Silver Crystal. Meanwhile, Queen Beryl of the Dark Kingdom sends her subordinates to the town where Usagi lives. They cause strange events to occur there, all in an effort to acquire the tremendously powerful Silver Crystal… Can Sailor Moon and the other Guardians successfully find the phantom crystal, and protect the princess…!?


Back in 1991, mangaka Naoko Takeuchi would create her shojo manga series “Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon”.

Serialized in “Nakayoshi” (from 1991-1997) with a total of 18 tankobon (graphic novel) versions published, the series would reach enormous popularity with over 35 million copies sold worldwide and the release of the anime series would further the popularity worldwide with 200 episodes created (1992-1997), three animated films, a live-action TV series, musicals, video games and more.

In 2014, Toei Animation did a reboot of the anime series titled “Sailor Moon Crystal” to celebrate the 20th Anniversary but instead of releasing the anime on television, the series was released online on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

The anime series would feature voice actress Kotono Mitsuichi reprising her role as Sailor Moon in Japan while in America, the series would feature an all new English cast.

There first arc titled “Dark Kingdom” was featured in episodes 1-14, while the second arc “Black Moon” is featured in episodes 15-26.  A third season “Death Busters” aired in Japan on April 2016 and a sequel/fourth season was announced in January 2017.

And now the second arc (“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2”) will be released on Blu-ray/DVD as a normal and a limited edition courtesy of Viz Media.

In the second arc, while Usagi and Mamoru are alone, a pink-haired girl falls from the sky.  She immediately points a gun towards Usagi and demands that Usagi give her the Legendary Silver crystal.

As Mamoru goes to the pink-haired girl, he finds out it is a fake gun and because her name is also Usagi, she is called “Chibi-usa”.  When they take Chibi-usa back to Usagi’s home, she immediately hypnotizes Usagi’s parents and they allow her to stay with them.

As for the others, Rei and Minako are looking into incidents of people being abducted and spontaneously combusting.

Meanwhile, the Black Moon Clan is after the Legendary Silver Crystal and with the Spectre Sisters, Rubeus and Prince Demande after the Crystal, they start to go after each of the Sailor Senshi’s and try to kidnap them in order to lure Sailor Moon.

But who can Usagi and Mamoru turn to for help?  Perhaps King Endymion and Neo Queen Serenity?


VIDEO:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the animation from Toei Animation is vibrant and colorful.

While the first series of “Sailor Moon Crystal” received a lot of flack with its earlier animation (which had to be redone for the Blu-ray and DVD release), this second series features much better character design and animation, as well as background art.  Better shadowing and for the most part, the series looks much better!

Picture quality is great and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal” is presented in Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both soundtracks are done quite well and dialogue and music are both crystal clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with the band Momoiro Clover Z Part 2 – (9:58) Featuring footage from Momoiro Clover Z’s appearance at Anime Expo and an interview with the group about their feelings of “Sailor Moon Crystal” and the characters.
  • Art Gallery
  • Clean Opening
  • Clean Ending

As a person who watched the anime series as it was airing in Japan and also reviewing it when the DVD’s were first released in the United States, “Sailor Moon Crystal” is no doubt an entertaining, action-packed, dramatic reboot without the filler episodes.

Back in the ’90s and even with today’s popular anime adaptation of successful manga, filler episodes are important to not just to allow for a mangaka to continue their work on a manga series and further the story, so the manga doesn’t catch up too quickly.

The caveat, as some have seen for series such as “Dragon Ball Z”, “Bleach”, “Naruto” and even “One Piece”, filler episodes can drag on for a long time.  But for companies banking on the successful anime to produce merchandise for years, filler episodes have become part of anime culture.

The same was the case with the original “Sailor Moon” series, as much was focused on to give various members their own identity through many character building episodes, establishing friendships, quarrels and such, and adding so many episodes that in the process, not only was there a ton of merchandising but the character was popular enough to get fans or parents to purchase the merchandise for their daughters.

In America, fans were purchasing soundtracks and video games for the 3DO and the original PSX back in the ’90s and every year since Sailor Moon appeared in Japan, conventions have always had someone sporting an outfit from the series.  It was a popular series and eventually, “Sailor Moon” was released in America.  So popular that even American band Barenaked Ladies featured the mention of “Sailor Moon” in their 1998 hit song “One Week”.

So, “Sailor Moon Crystal” as an ONA (Original Net Animation) versus being shown on television would seem like a big surprise but there was no doubt that Toei Animation was already banking on the series popularity that people would turn into the series online and for the most part, their gamble paid off as people were watching, people responded (especially about the animation in the first arc) and while opinion was mixed, “Sailor Moon” merchandise not just for children but also for adults have become popular in Japan.

But with “Sailor Moon Crystal”, no filler, it’s a series straight-up trying to complete various arcs within 12-14 episodes.  No long seasons and as I grow less patient with anime filler episodes, so thrilled that “Sailor Moon Crystal” arcs manages to achieve completion quickly and not test my or others who are low on patience.

And here we are with the “Black Moon Arc”, the second series featuring episodes 15-26.  Now featuring better character designs and animation, the storyline now introduces Chibi-Usa, as well as an appearance of Sailor Pluto.

While there are not too much of an emphasis on the other Sailor Senshi, there are a few episodes where we get to see each character put up a fight against the servants of Black Moon.

This latest arc primarily focuses on Chibi-Usa and the connection she has with Usagi and Mamoru and how she entered the present-time and left the future and what had happen to everyone, but also the origins of the Black Moon.

There is no doubt an emphasis on emotional drama especially between Usagi and Mamoru but also the two and their relationship with Chibi-Usa but this latest features a focus on the emotional ties that bond these three forever.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is no doubt better with better shading and detail, while colors are vibrant and the series looks great in HD, part of the benefit with watching this series on Blu-ray is to find out how wonderful the acting is for both the Japanese and English dub.

It was awesome to have Kotono Mitsuishi return to voice Usagi/Sailor Moon for the Japanese dialogue and the Japanese voice acting by everyone else is great.  But with the English dub, I just felt that Stephanie Sheh did an amazing job as Usagi.  Both voice actresses were able to nail the emotional scenes with efficacy and also big kudos to Sandy Fox as Chibi-Usa.

Also on the Blu-ray release, the included interview with Momoiro Clover Z was also fantastic and it was great to see them discuss Sailor Moon and their opinion of the characters and hearing about their favorite character in the series.

Overall, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” features the entire “Black Moon Arc” and features a great balance of humor, drama and action.  The voice acting in Japanese and the English dub was superb and the animation is much better.

Entertaining and quite enjoyable, if you are a fan of Sailor Moon and friends, “Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2” is definitely recommended!

 

Please follow and like us:

 

Punching Henry (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Punching Henry” is no doubt a smart and hilarious comedy film that gives a glimpse of the life of a musical comedian.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Still Punching LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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


Starring:

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?


VIDEO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“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.

Please follow and like us:

 

Underworld: Blood Wars (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

April 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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!

Images courtesy of © 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


Starring:

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.


VIDEO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“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.

EXTRAS:

“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!

Please follow and like us:

 

The Wanderers (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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!

Images courtesy of © 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

RATED: R

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


Starring:

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?


VIDEO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“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!

Please follow and like us:

 

Hunter x Hunter vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“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.


VIDEO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hunter x Hunter” vol. 2 features the clean opening and ending songs, trailers and ending credits.

EXTRAS:

“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!

Please follow and like us:

 

Toni Erdmann (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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!

Images courtesy of © 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


Starring:

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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“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!


Please follow and like us:

 

Lion (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“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!

Images courtesy of © 2017. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Lion

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


Starring:

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?


VIDEO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“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)

EXTRAS:

“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!

 

 

Please follow and like us:

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


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

COMPANY: Disney

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


Starring:

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?


VIDEO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“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.

EXTRAS:

“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!

Please follow and like us:

 

Patriots Day (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” is well-made, well-researched, well-acted and felt that the film was a wonderful tribute to the heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing and not being exploitative.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 CBS Films Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Patriots Day

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 133 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English DTS:X Audio, DTS Headphone:X Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late- Night Listening SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Spanish, French

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Violence, Realistically Graphic Injury Images, Language Throughout and Some Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2017


Directed by Peter Berg

Screenplay by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer

Story by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson

Producer: Dorothy Aufiero, Dylan Clark, Stephen Levinson, Hutch PArker, Michael Radutzky, Scott Stuber, Mark Wahlberg

Associate Producer: Lauren Downey, Daphne Lambrinou, Joseph J. Micucci, Bo Shen, stephen Stapinski, Shixing Zhou

Executive Producer: Louis G. Friedman, Eric Johnson, Nicholas David Nesbitt, John Logan Pierson, Paul Tamasy, Dan Wilson

Music by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler

Edited by Gabriel Fleming, Colby Parker Jr.

Casting by Sheila Jaffe, Angela Peri

Production Design by Tom Duffield

Art Direction by Steve Cooper

Set Decoration by Ronald R. Reiss

Costume Design by Virginia Johnson


Starring:

Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders

John Goodman as Commissioner Ed Davis

Kevin Bacon as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers

J.K. Simmons as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese

Christopher O’Shea as Patrick Downes

Rachel Brosnahan as Jessica Kensky

Michelle Monaghan as Carol Saunders

Jimmy O. Yang as Dun Meng

Melissa Benoist as Katherine Russell

Alex Wolff as Dzohkhar Tsarnaev

Themo Melikidze as Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Martine Assaf as Connie Pugliese

James Colby as Superintendent Billy Evans

Michael Beach as Governor Deval Patrick

Rhett Kidd as Harrold


Mark Wahlberg shines in this all-star action-thriller that chronicles the courage and power of the people of Boston during the real-life manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers.


From filmmaker Peter Berg (“Hancock”, “Friday Night Lights”, “The Kingdom”) comes the American drama-thriller film “Patriots Day” about the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and the terrorist manhunt that took place.

Featuring a screenplay co-written by Berg, Matt Cook (“The Duel”, “Triple 9”) and Joshua Zetumer (“RoboCop”), the film would receive positive film reviews from critics.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg (“Boogie Nights”, “The Fighter”, “Prisoners”), John Goodman (“The Artist”, “Roseane”, “The Big Lebowski”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”), Kevin Bacon (“Apollo 13”, “Footloose”, “X-Men: First Class”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”, “Spider-Man” films, “The Closer”), Michelle Monaghan (“Gone Baby Gone”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, “Due Date”), Themo Melikidze (“Beautiful Something”, “Transit 17”), Alex Wolff (“The Naked Brothers Band”, “Come Through the Rye”, “The Sitter”), Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”, “The Internship”), Melissa Benoist (“Supergirl”, “Whiplash”, “Glee”), Jake Picking (“Dirty Grandpa”, “Goat”), Christopher O’Shea (“Baby Daddy”, “Madam Secretary”), Rachel Brosnahan (“Beautiful Creatures”, “Manhattan”, “The Finest Hours”) and many more.


VIDEO:

“Patriots Day” 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 clarity and day scenes are vibrant.  Many of the scenes are shot at night, but light is well done 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:

“Patriots Day” is presented in English DTX-X Audio, DTS Headphones: X Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio.

While the film features crystal clear audio (dialogue) and music, surround channels are well-utilized for action sequences during explosions, gun exchanges and crowd ambiance.  Great use of the surround channels and LFE!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Patriots Day” comes with the following special features:

  • Boston Strong – (21:34) Featuring interviews with Dr. Jeffrey Kalish, Dun Meng and Sgt. Jeff Pugliese.
  • The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale – (21:43) The cast and crew talk about filming in Boston and working with the community.
  • The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes’ Stories – (19:41) Filmmaker Peter Berg discusses the various heroes that he met and the real people that inspired the characters for the film.
  • The Cast Remembers – (5:52) The cast discuss how they found about the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts: A 2-Part Series – (10:08) Featuring John Goodman and Ed Davis and Jimmy O. Yang and Dun Meng.
  • Researching the Day – (11:22) Director Peter Berg and crew discuss the research of recreating the 2013 Boston Marathon and the bombing.

EXTRAS:

“Patriots Day” will come with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray and UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I remember the Boston Marathon bombings quite clearly.

Watching things unfurl on CNN, immediately I was glued to the TV set, angered that our country was once again being targeted by terrorist attacks and to find out that were many people, including children who were dead or injured.  Then to find out about the two accused of the bombings, finding out a university police officer was killed, followed by a kidnapping of a Chinese man who revealed the brothers are planning to bomb New York and just following the news for the hunt of the Tsarnaev brothers.

It was a story that captivated America where in 9/11, the terrorists killed themselves.  While in this case, these two terrorists were out in public and we wanted them caught and to answer for their crimes.

With Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day”, we get to see how things went for those harrowing days, the people involved in the manhunt for the two terrorists, those who were injured and those who lost their lives.

Peter Berg and fellow writers Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer no doubt made sure to pay their respects to those involved in the capture of one of the terrorists but to also pay respects to law enforcement and those who’s life was changed forever, but keeping the theme of “Boston Strong” central to the film and showing how the support for law enforcement and the victims will remain in the hearts of people who remember that fateful day and have managed to continue, to move on and show true determination but also providing inspiration for those watching the film.

Mark Wahlberg’s character of Tommy Saunders is a fictional character but his role captures the heart of Boston PD who were doing all they can to catch the terrorists.  Police officers who were on duty, with hardly any sleep, determined to keep Boston safe and to catch those who are responsible.

John Goodman also did a great job of portraying Commissioner Ed Davis and Kevin Bacon as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers of the FBI who worked tirelessly to control information in regards of who was responsible for the bombings but also coordinating their men for the manhunt.

J.K. Simmons as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese of the Watertown PD who was there to take on one of the terrorists during a shootout.  Jimmy O. Yang as Dun Meng, the man who was carjacked and held by gunpoint by the two terrorists for a long period of time until he made a major risk by bolting from his vehicle when one of the terrorists were preoccupied and managed to run and call police.

Peter Berg tries to show the loving side of both characters, Sgt. Pugliese with his wife and Dun Meng with a woman he met.

But “Patriots Day” also effectively pays tribute to those who lost their lives or those who were caught in the blast.

“Patriots Day” pays respect to MIT Officer Sean Collier (portrayed by Jake Picking) who was ambushed by the two terrorists and was killed.  While he never had a chance to fight back, they tried to steal his weapon unsuccessfully.  The film also tries to show the loving and friendly side of Collier, from going on a date with a student to him hanging out with his friends, singing a song and playing video games.

We also get to see victims such as couple, Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, father Steve Woolfenden taking his young boy on a stroller to watch the Boston Marathon, both were near the first bomb that exploded.  Berg shows the love between Patrick and Jessica and the father and son relationship with the Woolfenden’s.

Possibly a tough role were to play the terrorists and actors Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze no doubt had to pull off these individuals and show the audience of their mindset but also their cowardly, evil actions.  The same with Melissa Benoist who plays the bomber’s wife and showing viewers on what happened when she was interrogated by law enforcement.

The film’s efficacy also helps with the real archived video of the terrorists and video caught from banks and at stores they were at.  It helped remind audience that what people were watching, was the real deal.

I felt that filmmaker Peter Berg and his fellow writers did amazing job in crafting this drama-thriller by sticking to facts, despite the film focusing on a fictional character.

The 4K Ultra HD is wonderfully detailed during closeups and also features an impressive lossless soundtrack especially during the bombings, the gun battle exchanges, the explosions sounds quite amazing through the surround channels and the use of LFE.  And the numerous special features included are also fascinating to watch and thankfully they are of good duration and not too short.

Overall, Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” is well-made, well-researched, well-acted and felt that the film was a wonderful tribute to the heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing and not being exploitative.  Highly recommended!

Please follow and like us:

 

Next Page »

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://j-entonline.com/category/blu-ray-dvd-reviews/">
Twitter
Bottom