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One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are accused of conspiracy of wanting to destroy Fishman island, while the true antagonists wanting to destroy the island,  Hordy and Decken enact their plans to cause major chaos.  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! 

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two

DURATION: Episodes 529-540 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 15, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The rough landing on Fishman Island has scattered the Straw Hats throughout Ryugu Kingdom, but a good deed earns them an invitation to the royal palace. Everything goes swimmingly until a psychic’s prophecy turns the whole island against Luffy and the crew. Backs to the wall, their honorable hosts become their hostages, but the timing couldn’t be worse.


Hordy seeks revenge against Luffy for destroying Arlong’s ambitions and threaten to destroy the Ryugu Palace.  Meanwhile, what happens when the citizens of Fishman Island thinks that Luffy had kidnapped Shirahoshi?

Meanwhile, Zoro vs. Hordy and Luffy vs. Decken.

All this and more in “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two”!

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 809 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 532 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary featuring Doug Jackson (Minister of the Right) and Francis Fuselier (Minister of the Left).
  • EPISODE 534 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Larry Brantley (voice of Hordy) and Jim Foronda (voice of Decken).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Q&A Panel – (32:41) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio for the Q&A.
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two”, the episodes continue the Fishman Island arc (featuring episodes 529-540). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

In this latest arc, things go a little troublesome for the Straw Hat Pirates as Sharley has a prediction that the island will be destroyed by Luffy.  And with this prediction, there is a feeling that the Straw Hats must be stopped.  So, the Minister of the Left accuses the Straw Hat Pirates for the conspiracy to destroy the island and to kidnap mermaids.

But from that prediction on, things go crazy as Hordy destroy Gyro’s ship and Hordy is intent in killing Neptune and making the fishman a superior race over humans.

Meanwhile, Vander Decken IX intends to marry the princess and in order to accomplish his plans and wanting Hordy to accomplish his goals, both fishmen form an alliance in order to destroy Fishman Island.

What will happen when Hordy and Decken come across the Straw Hat Pirates?

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and the Q&A at Matsuricon 2016.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage Two” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are accused of conspiracy of wanting to destroy Fishman island, while the true antagonists wanting to destroy the island,  Hordy and Decken enact their plans to cause major chaos.  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”!

 

Ancient Aliens: Season 10 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Anything is possible and there are so many unexplained things in our planet, let alone the entire galaxy and universe. If these unexplained mysteries interest you, then you will no doubt enjoy “Ancient Aliens” Season 10.

Image courtesy of © 2017 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Ancient Aliens: Season 10

AIR DATE: 2017

DURATION: Episodes 119-126 (8 Episodes total – 5 Hrs., 44 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4×3 Full Screen, 1:78:1 Presentation, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate/History/A&E Networks

RATED: N/A

Release Date: October 17, 2017


Directed by Susan E. Leventhal

Written by KJoe Escalante, Kaylan Eggert, Eric Murphy

Executive Producers: David Silver

Local Producer: Stanislav Solovkin

Archival Producer: Marianna Yarovskaya

Line Producer: Michelle Gorski

Music by Alex Khaskin

Edited by Eric Sievering


Starring:

Narration by Robert Clotworthy

Giorgio Tsoukalos

David Childress

Jonathan Young, Founding Curator Joseph Campbell Archives

Erich von Daniken

Jason Martell

George Noory

William Henry

David Wilcock

Michael Dennin

Mike Bara

Nick Redfern

Linda Moulton Howe

Richard Rader

Robert Bauval

Kathleen McGowan

Domic Steavu

Deepak Shimkhada

Hugh Newman

Ariel Bar Tzadok


On this season of ANCIENT ALIENS®, we uncover more astonishing new evidence of extraterrestrial intervention on Earth than ever before, including an aluminum object that resembles the foot of a lunar lander…but inexplicably dates to over 40,000 years ago. In India, a thousand-year-old mask is discovered that looks identical to the face of a grey alien. Newly uncovered records from Russia indicate that in 1948, an ancient rocket was discovered in Kiev. Is it possible that we are on the brink of a reconnection with our alien ancestors? Watch and find out!


In 2010, “Ancient Aliens” made its debut on the History Channel and now it’s on its tenth season.

A documentary style series which presents hypothesis of ancient astronauts and how historical texts, archaeology and legendary stories may contain evidence of past-human extraterrestrial contact.

The first part of the tenth season which aired from April – June 2017 and features the following episodes:

  • Episode 119: The Alien Hunters – Ancient astronaut theorists discuss the existence of alien hunters and the existence of extraterrestrials.
  • Episode 120: Forged by the Gods – How metals that fell out of the sky may be connected to alien visitation.
  • Episode 121: The Mystery of Rudloe Manor – Is there a UFO held in the underground rooms of Rudloe Manor?
  • Episode 122: The Alien Architects – Comparison of structures in different parts of the world that are very similar?  How is that possible?
  • Episode 123: The Pharaoh’s Curse – Could the Ark of the Covenant be related to King Tut’s Curse/The Curse of the Pharaohs?
  • Episode 124: The Science Wars – Are extraterrestrial artifacts being dismissed by scholars?
  • Episode 125: City of the Gods – Do exotic technology exist in various pyramids?  And was there an advanced culture that lived there back then that established that technology?
  • Episode 126: The Alien Frequency – Is there sensory information that exist in sound and can learning about sound lead to extraordinary things?

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ancient Aliens: Season 10” is presented in widescreen (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, the series is well-edited with great use of modern to archived sourced footage, great use of visual effects and also for the most part, combined with modern interviews, picture quality looks good as one can expect for DVD.

As for audio, the series is presented in English 2.0 Dolby Digital audio and narration and interviews are clear and understandable.

The show is presented in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ancient Aliens: Season 10” comes with no special features.


During my college years, I used to work at a job doing data entry in the wee hours of the morning. And I would often listen to AM radio for talk shows that aired late at night to early morning and would listen to Art Bell and other scientists and those involved in the field discussing extraterrestrials, government coverups, to other unexplained mysteries.

And I could see why many people would be interested in pseudoscience (a term or practice presented as scientific method. Claims that are contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable).

But let’s take a look at season 10 of “Ancient Aliens”. There are no doubt a lot of plausible things and the arguments are good, although of course, the series is more biased towards possible alien interaction and are outspoken about government cover-ups.

The “Alien Architects” episode is also interesting because we know there are a lot of similarities of pyramids and structures across the globe and no one knows if there is a connection but the presentation on this episode alone is quite interesting.

The episode about the Phaaoh’s Curse has been ongoing for decades and many people believe there is a true curse involved with the opening of King Tut’s tomb.

And as for “The Science Wars”, I also understand about extraterrestrial artifacts being dismissed by scholars.  Scholars will always be skeptical as they want to see evidence and facts and the episode does its best of showing the what if…

I found the episode “Forged by the Gods” to be interesting in that it deals with the Betz Mystery Sphere and how the sphere reacted to music and followed people around, it is interesting how many other metal balls have fallen in different countries.  While NASA disproved other metal spheres as propellant tanks, the Betz Mystery Sphere is interesting as it was ovserved, tested and then suddenly it disappeared after being tested by the US Navy.

The Rudloe Manor episode is also very interesting because the location is mysterious and no one, even to this day, knows what is going on in there and there are a lot of beliefs that there are underground facilities under the manor.  But no one but those working inside there know the truth.

Season 10 only comes with the first eight episodes, not the complete season. The episodes were well-produced and was really well-edited and goes into detail supporting a new perspective or various perspectives that is suggested, not made as fact but left for the viewer to come to their own conclusion.

Whether or not you believe each episode, it is quite intriguing to hear from theorists who really believe in such things, may it not be based on true scientific evidence but may it be art etched by ancestors in caves long ago, stories passed down from ancestors or discoveries with new modern technology but “Ancient Aliens” does a great job in presenting it and making viewers wonder if such perspectives, ideas are possible.

Anything is possible and there are so many unexplained things in our planet, let alone the entire galaxy and universe.

If these unexplained mysteries interest you, then you will no doubt enjoy “Ancient Aliens”.

 

Lady Macbeth (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Filmmaker William Oldroyd has done a good job with “Lady Macbeth” and the film is made much better thanks to the performance of actress Florence Pugh.  A dark film that is much different from the original story by Nikolai Leskov, and has its flaws.  “Lady Macbeth” is a sinfully, dark, entertaining drama worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Lady Macbeth

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 90 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: R

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: October 17, 2017


Based on the novel “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” by Nikolai Leskov

Directed by William Oldroyd

Written by Alice Birch

Producer: Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly

Executive Producer: Lizzie Francke, Christopher Granier-Deferre, Steve Jenkins, Christopher Moll, Jim Reeve

Associate Producer: Dan Jones

Music by Dan Jones

Cinematography by Ari Wegner

Edited by Nick Emerson  

Casting by Shaheen Baig 

Production Design by Jacqueline Abrahams 

Art Direction by Thalia Ecclestone 

Costume Design by Holly Waddington


Starring:

Florence Pugh as Katherine

Cosmo Jarvis as Sebastian

Paul Hilton as Alexander

Nami Ackie as Anna

Christopher Fairbank as Boris

Golda Rosheuvel as Agnes

Anton Palmer as Teddy

Rebecca Manley as Mary

Fleur Houdijk as Tessa

Cliff Burnett as Father Peter


Rural England, 1865. Katherine (Florence Pugh) is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family is cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.


Long ago, Russian novelist Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov would write one of his most famous works “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in 1865.  Published in Epoch Magazine, while ignored by contemporary critics, it was praised decades later as a masterpiece.

Fastforward to 1934 and the film received an opera adaptation by Dmitri Shostakovich.  But because of its story which revolved around a lonely woman in 19th Century Russia who falls in love with one of her husband’s workers and is driven to murder, the opera was watched by Stalin and the opera was banned and wouldn’t be seen again by 1961.

Championed as a story about the oppression and liberation of a woman, director William Oldroyd and writer Alice Birch worked to bring the film to the big screen.  While not a loyal adaptation and the fact that the film is set in 1865 in rural England, the storyline was changed.  And what was a story about oppression and liberation, goes to its darker depths of becoming a film about a woman who is driven to be with her lover, even if it means murder.

The film stars Florence Pugh (“The Falling”, “Marcella”, “The Commuter”), Cosmo Jarvis (“The Naughty Room”), Paul Hilton (“Wuthering Heights”, “Dragon’s World”, “Klimt”), Naomi Ackie (“Doctor Who”, “I Used to Be Famous”), Christopher Fairbank (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “The Fifth Element”, “Pirates of the Carribbean”, “Alien 3”), Golda Rosheuvel (“Luther”, “Silent Witness”, “Rev”) and Anton Palmer.

And now “Lady Macbeth” will be released on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

The film is set in 1865 rural England and Katherine (portrayed by Florence Pugh) is married to an older man, Alexander Lester.

She moves to a country estate of Alexander’s father, Boris (portrayed by Christopher Fairbank) and quickly learns that her new home will be strict.  She is unable to leave the house, her servant Anna (portrayed by Naomi Ackie) is strict and follows her employer’s rules.  And each time, she is forced to undress in front of her husband, but he does nothing.  Meanwhile, Boris admonishes Katherine for not giving him a son.

One day, as Boris and Alexander leave for business, Katherine leaves the home and sees the men in an outhouse forcing Anna to undress and having her suspended from the ground.  When she tells the men to let her down, a man named Sebastian (portrayed by Cosmo Jarvis) laughs.  When she asks him to guess her weight, he immediately grabs her and carries her, not caring that she is the wife of his boss.

As Katherine leaves, she starts walking in the field and sees him and she begins to have an attraction towards him.  When Sebastian goes to visit him, she invites him in and they have sex.

Anna knows what is going on and informs the local priest, who warns Katherine but she sends him away.  When Boris arrives, he is informed about the affair and he beats and locks Sebastian in the stable.  When she demands his release, he threatens her, so Katherine responds by poisoning his food and chokes on it.

Anna is terrified by what has happened and becomes a mute and with Alexander still gone, he has Boris buried, she manages his estate and she has her affair openly.

But when Alexander returns home, this leads to Katherine doing the unthinkable.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Lady Macbeth” is presented in 2:35:1 and is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. While I wished the film was released on Blu-ray, the film looks very good on DVD as picture quality is good, dialogue is clear and for the most part, this is a dialogue-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lady Macbeth” comes with a five minute behind-the scenes featurette, photo gallery and theatrical trailer.


There was no doubt that Nikolai Leskov’s “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” was ahead of its time.  A novel depicting a married woman, bored at home, sick of her husband’s cold demeanor and being scolded, decides to have an affair with one of the workers.

The story was bold as it depicted a married woman planning murder and wanting to be liberated and no longer being oppressed.

In some ways, the original novel is reminiscent of an Edgar Allen Poe novel, while the film adaptation by filmmaker William Oldroyd and writer Alice Birch tends to eliminate any prison stories, finding no need to extend the storyline as featured in the novel which leads to a closing finale and that evil never wins, this film ends with no such closure but while Katherine loses, she also wins.

The film is also changed to showcase a white woman having an affair with a poor man of mixed-race. And while Florence Pugh’s performance is what makes “Lady Macbeth” an entertaining film, the film has its share of problems.

I have a problem with the servant Anna suddenly turning mute, more to make the ending stick.  But it was a bit hard to accept as it seems a bit contrived.

Another problem is that while the original novel is no doubt crimes of passion, “Lady Macbeth” is a film that goes beyond that and it seems that the oppressed and liberated Katherine is possibly a serial killer.  A person who kills because she wants to, because she can and the leadup from this pure woman who just got married descending into the darkness so quickly, things just seem to happen too quickly and yes, situations appear to be contrived.  Perhaps if the film tried to show a sick, amoral individual and we see glimpses of that sick, deranged mind of hers, it would have worked effectively.

And as the novel ends with closure, is there any closure that one gets from watching the ending of “Lady Macbeth”?

As for the DVD, picture quality is good, although I wish the film was released on Blu-ray.  Dialogue is clear and there is a small behind-the-scenes featurette, photo gallery and theatrical trailer.

Overall, filmmaker William Oldroyd has done a good job with “Lady Macbeth” and the film is made much better thanks to the performance of actress Florence Pugh.  A dark film that is much different from the original story by Nikolai Leskov, and has its flaws.  “Lady Macbeth” is a sinfully, dark, entertaining drama worth watching.


 

L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” is a major step for China in creating a fantasy/adventure CG animated film that looks awesome.  The problem is, too many characters are squeezed into 118 minutes that the storyline is hampered by it.  It may get a little confusing, so it may be a film that one will watch more than once.  Still, “L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” has its own charm and cool, stylish visuals that make it work watching.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 118 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1 widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: Not Rated

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 26, 2017


Directed by Jingming Guo

Line Producer: Xu Xiaoling

Co-Produced: Qin Zhou

Music by Yuki Kajiura, Ronald Ng

Cinematography by Randy Che


Starring:

Fan Bingbing as Guishan Lian Quan (Disciple to the Fifth Degree)

Kris Wu  as Yin Chen (Lord to the Seventh Degree)

Cheney Chen as Qi Ling (Disciple to the Seventh Degree/Lord to the Zeroth Degree)

William Wai-Ting Chan as You Ming (Lord to the Second Degree)

Amber Kuo as Thalia (Lord to the Fourth Degree)

Yun Lin as Tianshu You Hua (Disciple to the Sixth Degree)

Mi Yang (Disciple to the Second Degree)

Roy Wang as Cang Bai Shao Nian

Yikuan Yan as Guishan Feng Hun (Lord to the Fifth Degree)

Duo Wang as Qi La (Lord to the Third Degree)

Aarif Rahman as Ni Hong (Disciple to the Fourth Degree)


Supernatural warriors clash with dark forces of evil in this electrifying fantasy-adventure. In a distant time, seven lords who wield powers beyond imagination share dominion over a world. But when one lord falls from grace, the others must summon all their magic to stop an epic war that is ravaging the land – and threatening the order of the universe.


In 2016, the Chinese computer animated motion capture action fantasy film “L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” was released in theaters.

Directed by famous author Guo Jingming, the film stars Fan Bingbing (“Iron Man 3”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “My Way”), Kris Wu (“xXx: Return of Xander Cage”, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”, “Mr. Six”), Cheney Chen (“The Great Wall”, “Tiny Times”), William Wai-Ting Chan (“Triad”, “As the Light Goes Out”), Amber Kuo (“Au revoir Taipei”, “Keeper of Darkness”), Yun Lin (“The Mermaid”, “Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back”) and Mi Yang (“Gorbaciof”, “Painted Skin: The Resurrection”, “The Bullet Vanishes”).

And now the film will be released on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film begins with an introduction to the Odin Mainland which is separated into four countries with soul masters protect their own country utilizing their own soul powers.  And the most powerful, seven of them are known as Noble Lords (Dukes).

The film begins with a busboy named Qi Ling (portrayed by Cheney Chen), when the jovial young man goes to work at the inn, he sees a group of spirit warriors at the inn who came from the capital to the area to hunt a spirit beast.

Immediately, the land starts freezing and many people are frozen to death and are killed.  While many in the inn are killed, the female spirit warrior is targeted by a huge white lion with wings who has the power to freeze and control the elements.

Meanwhile, Yin Chen, the Silver Priest (portrayed by Kris Wu) working for the Lord of the Seventh is ordered by the Silver Priest (portrayed by Roy Wang) to take in a disciple. Lady Knox (Talia), Duke of the fourth, is ordered to work with the Duke of the Second to hunt down the Duke of the Fifth, Guishan Feng Hun (portrayed by Yikuan Yan) and his disciple, Guishan Lian Quan (portrayed by Fan Bingbing) for treason.

We then see Guishan Feng Hun running away with a blonde individual and then fighting against himself (a body double that came out of a mirror).

The film then goes to Qi Ling awakening and being taken in by Yin Chen and is told that he was brought back from the dead and that he will now become trained as his disciple.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” is presented in 2:39:1 and is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. The original mandarin dialogue is not included and thus, if you are looking for information on this film, you will notice the names used in the English release versus the Chinese release differ.  For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD. It’s amazing to look at it because, for example, fans of Fan Bingbing know how she looks and to see a CG version of her is pretty cool.  The motion capture and how the characters look are really well-done, some may feel very video game like but for the most part, the picture quality and animation is very good.  The soundtrack features quite a bit of action and utilizes the surround channels fairly well!

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” comes with no major special features.


“L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” is no doubt an ambitious project showcasing China’s CG animation.  While Japan and Korea have been the focal point for years, it’s good to see a film showcasing how far China has come in CG animation and “L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” looks great!

But like a video game, graphics are only a part of it and a storyline is important.  While “L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” is a film that I found fun, humorous and action-packed at times, there are too many characters that may confuse viewers.

The film starts off with Qi Ling and then we are introduced to the Lord of the Seventh, Yin Chen.  But then we are introduced to Tianshu You Hua of the Sixth and then we find out that Thalia of the Fourth and You Ming are after Guishan Feng Hun of the Fifth and his disciple Guishan Lian Quan.

Confused?

Yeah, it can get confusing. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if one watched this film multiple times.

I mention video game because in some ways, it reminds me of a JRPG (Japanese role playing game) like “Final Fantasy”, where you start off with an initial character and then the game branches to introduce many other characters.

Where RPG’s have many hours of gameplay with relationships to build upon, movies don’t have that luxury (unless they are built upon a series or comic book preceding the film).

Think of series of warring states or leaders and can you imagine “Game of Thrones” being limited to 118 minutes?  “L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” is a film that tries to introduce too many characters and what is considered a primary character for the first half of the film, may not be the primary character of the second half of the film.  The film starts off showcasing Qi Ling (Cheney Chen’s character), but somehow the film ends up being more about Guishan Lian Quan (Fan Bingbing’s character).

While I can’t deny that I enjoyed the film for its visual presentation and action, especially to see Fan Bingbing in CG.  If the film was made into a trilogy or even a two-parter, perhaps the story could have been fleshed out a bit more and character dynamics would come into play more efficiently.

As for the DVD, picture quality looks great as it can on DVD, although I wished it was released on Blu-ray.  Audio is good as the English dub is crystal clear including the film’s action sequences but I admit that I was hoping for special features, which there are none included.

Overall, “L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” is a major step for China in creating a fantasy/adventure CG animated film that looks awesome.  The problem is, too many characters are squeezed into 118 minutes that the storyline is hampered by it.  It may get a little confusing, so it may be a film that one will watch more than once.  Still, “L.O.R.D.: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” has its own charm and cool, stylish visuals that make it work watching.


 

3 Idiotas (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Carlos Bolados’ “3 Idiotas” is a film that grows on you, a comedy that makes you laugh but for the most part, it’s a film with a lot of heart and I found it to be quite delightful and very entertaining!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Pantelion LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: 3 Idiotas

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 106 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 widescreen, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: PG-13

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 26, 2017


Directed by Carlos Bolado

Adaptation by Antonio Abascal, Carlos Bolado, Cory Brusseau, Martha Higareda

Produced by Miguel Mier, Jimena Rodriguez, Bernardo Rugama

Co-Produced: Alexis Fridman, Marco Rodriguez

Executive Producer: Vinod Chopra, Matthias Ehrenberg, Martha Higareda, Ricardo Kleinbaum

Music by Alvaro Arce Urroz

Cinematography by  Javier Moron

Art Direction: Alejandro Garcia

Costume Design: Lupita Peckinpah


Starring:

Martha Higareda as Mariana

Alfonso Dosal as Pancho

Christian Vazquez as Felipe

German Valdez as Beto

Vadhir Derbez as Isidoro

Sebastian Zurita as Emiliano

Paulina Davila as Diana

Enrique Singer a Don Diego

Rodrigo Murray as Escalona


Martha Higareda shines in this laugh-out-loud comedy about two nerdy friends who set out to find their long-lost pal, Pancho, and reunite him with the love of his life (Higareda).


In 2009, the Indian film “3 Idiots” directed by Rajkumar Hirani would become the highest grossing film of that year and would become the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time in overseas markets for several years.

So popular, the comedy received various adaptation in Tamil, Telugu, and in 2007, a Mexican adaptation directed by Carlos Bolado known as “3 Idiotas”.

The film was co-adapted, produced and also stars actress Martha Higareda, who had achieved success in Mexico and starred in American film such as “Borderland”, “Street Kings”, both “Smokin’ Aces” films, “Hello Herman” and”McFarland USA”, Higareda has now continued as an actress, writer and producer with hit films such as “No Manches Frida” and now “3 Idiotas”.

The film also stars Alfonso Dosal, Christian Vazquez, German Valdez, Vadhir Derbez, Sebastian Zurita, Paulina Davila, Enrique Singer and Rodrigo Murray.

And now “3 Idiotas” will be available on DVD in September 2017.

The film revolves around three friends: Pancho (portrayed by Alfonso Dosal), Felipe (portrayed by Christian Vazquez) and Beto (portrayed by German Valdes III).

The beginning of the film begins with Beto narrating about how he and Felipe met Pancho. And the two going to meet Isidoro (portrayed by Vadhir Derbez), for information of where Pancho may have disappeared to.

Beto being a photographer who’s successful father wants him to learn and become an engineer, while Felipe is the first in his family to attend college, often carrying a lucky rabbit’s foot for luck.

One day, Felipe is being teased by bullies in college about carrying the rabbit’s foot and it is taken by Isidoro.  Out of nowhere, Pancho is able to get the rabbit’s foot back and give it back to Felipe but in a situation involving Isidoro, they are able to get medical help through med student Mariana (portrayed by Martha Higareda).

As Pancho is interested in Mariana, she happens to be dating a materialistic jerk named Emiliano (portrayed by Sebastian Zurita).

What Pancho doesn’t know is that the main professor of engineering is Don Diego (portrayed by Enrique Singer) is her father and Pancho, often challenges Don Diego’s style of teaching and becomes a thorn in his side.  And because Pancho and his friends tend to get into problems, Don Diego calls them the “three idiots”.

But as Pancho and Marian grow closer and the guys get into various shenanigans but yet have fun, what would lead to Pancho to go missing for several years?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“3 Idiotas” is presented in 2:40:1 and is presented in Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD. Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue and musically driven

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“3 Idiotas” comes with no major special features.

 


Carlos Bolado’s coming-of-age comedy “3 Idiotas” is a film adaptation of a popular Bollywood film that manages to be entertaining and a lot of fun thanks to its humor, its characters and for the most part, showcasing Mexico’s educated, who are trying to make the country a better place.

And yes, staying true to similar Bollywood adaptations, you get a Bollywood-style dance theme at the end of the film.

While some may be turned off by the film’s multiple fart scenes, the lack of respect the three students have towards their cold professor and questionable situations that are a bit far-fetched.  If one managed to move past all that and just take the film as is, a comedy with imperfections, yet a film that focuses on character relationships between the friendship of three guys trying to make it in college, guys trying to live their life and find their place in life, while you get a rom-com storyline between Pancho and Mariana.

There is a lot to enjoy of “3 Idiotas”.

The chemistry between actor Alfonso Dosal and Martha Higareda is well-done and they captivate the audience onscreen but its the many shenanigans that people will see throughout the film, that will make you laugh but also surprise you.

I have to admit that seeing the title, I automatically assumed that this film was going to be a “Dumb and Dumber” style of storyline.  Thankfully, the “3 Idiotas” is a name given by a professor after the three mess up his daughter’s wedding by doing stupid, idiotic things.

But aside from that, where are you going to see a film where friends and family try to nurse one of the guys back from a coma, classes emptying out due to one student’s unfortunate bout of flatulence but also a mysterious turn of events when one of the guys disappears.

At the ending credits, because the film focuses on engineering students, the film showcases the engineering progress in Mexico and what some of these individuals have created for the betterment of life in Mexico.

As for the DVD, picture quality is as good as it can get on DVD.  Audio features plenty of music, but most importantly, dialogue and music are crystal clear through the front and surround channels.  Unfortunately, there are no special features on this DVD.

Overall, Carlos Bolados’ “3 Idiotas” is a film that grows on you, a comedy that makes you laugh but for the most part, it’s a film with a lot of heart and I found it to be quite delightful and very entertaining!


 

The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

thegoldbergs-s3

“The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” marks a season of change and setting up the next stage for season five.  Overall, a series that is highly recommended!

© 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 Sony Pictures Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2017

DURATION: Episodes 72-95 (518 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1), English, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: September 12, 2015


Directed by David Katzenberg, Jay Chandrrasekhar, Victor Nelli Jr., Lew Schneider, Richie Keen, Jon Corn, Richie Keen, Joanna Kerns, Kevin Smith, Peter B. Ellis, Christine Gernon, Beth McCarthy-Miller, Lea Thompson, Jason Blount, Anton Cropper, Jude Weng

Written by Adam F. Goldberg, Lacey Marisa Friedman, Lauen Bans, Aaron Kaczander, Annie Mebane, Dan Levy, David Guarascio, Adam Armus,Josef Adalian, Kerri Doherty, Brian Hennelly, Rob Lieber, Matt Esdall, Matt Mira, Hans Rodionoff, Erik Weiner

Executive Producer: Adam F. Goldberg, Seth Gordon, Doug Robinson, David Guarascio, Adam Armus

Producer: Dan Levy, Annie Mebane, Rob Lieber, Dan Levy

Co-Executive Producer: Annette Sahakian Davis, Lew Schneider, Chris Bishop, Stephen Basilone, Andrew Secunda, David Katzenberg, Brian Keith Etheridge

Co-Producer: Mary Rohlich, Billy Wee, Mac Marshall

Consulting Producer: Michael J. Weithorn

Cinematography by Jason Blount, Scott Browner

Editing by Ruthie Aslan, Peter B. Ellis, Kevin Leffler, Jon Corn, Dave Canseco, Robert Lanford

Casting by Leslie Litt

Production Design by Cory Lorenzen

Art Direction by Bill Brownell

Set Decoration by Suzette Sheets, Donald Krafft

Costume Design by Keri Smith


Starring:

Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg

Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg

Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg

Hayley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg

George Segal as Albert “Pops” Solomon

Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg

Patton Oswalt as the Narrator

AJ Michalka as Lainey Lewis

Virginia Gardner as Lexy Bloom

Sam Lerner as Geoff Schwartz

Natalie Alyn Lind as Dana Caldwell

Kenny Ridwan as Dave Kim

Stephn Tobolowsky as Principal Ball

Jackson Odell as Ari Caldwell

Jacob Hopkins as Chad Kremp

Matt Bush as Andy Cogan

Noah Munck as “Naked” Rob Smith

Bryan Callen as Mr. Mellor

Sean Marquette as Johnny Atkins

Alex Jennings as Carla Natali

Tim Meadows as Mr. Glascott


The VCR-loving, mixtape-making, spandex-wearing Goldbergs are back! For geeky and movie-obsessed youngest child Adam, his wonder years were spent documenting the hilarious and awkward antics of his colorful family. This season finds the siblings fighting off huggies, snuggies and nubbies as they navigate what it means to grow up as a Goldberg. .


In 2013, the series “The Goldbergs” created by Adam F. Goldberg (“Breaking In”) aired on television.

Starring Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Brides Maids”, “Reno 911!”), Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Daddy Day Care”), George Segal (“Look Who’s Talking”, “The Cable Guy”), Haley Orrantia, Troy Gentile (“Nacho Libre”, “Drillbit Taylor”, “Good Luck Chuck”), Sean Giambrone (“I Heart Shakey”, “Clarence”) and narration by Patton Oswalt (“The King of Queens”, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”).

With a fifth season set to air on ABC, the third and fourth season will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Goldbergs” is a comedy set in the 1980’s and is based on the life of series-creator Adam F. Goldberg (at the end of each episode are real life video camera footage that Adam filmed of him and his family from the ’80s).

The series takes place in Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania and features Murray Goldberg (portrayed by Jeff Garlin) as the furniture salesman and family patriarch, the intruding but loving mother Beverly (portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey).

Both Murry and Beverly are parents to the popular and rebellious Erica (portrayed by Hayley Orrantia), the always trying hard but very naive, mama’s boy Barry (portrayed by Troy Gentile) and the young but mature for his age, Adam Goldberg (portrayed by Sean Giambrone).

The family are often visited by the children’s grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon (portrayed by George Segal), who tries to help when he sees his daughter Beverly getting too involved in the kid’s lives. And what happens when Murray’s father and brother come to Thanksgiving?

The following is a spoilerless summary of the fourth season of “The Goldbergs”:

  • EPISODE 72 – Adam dresses like John Bender of “The Breakfast Club” for his first day in High School, while Beverly tries to be a substitute at her kids HS.
  • EPISODE 73 – What happens when Lainey, Erica and Beverly find a video dating service in the mall.
  • EPISODE 74 – What happens when Adam wants to ask the cute “Waffle Girl” for date?
  • EPISODE 75 – What happens when Murray buys an answering machine?
  • EPISODE 76 – What happens when Adam tries to write a horror novel?
  • EPISODE 77 – Adam tries to convince his father to fund his own action movie.
  • EPISODE 78 – Adam wants to go to the Gimbels Thanksgiving Parade after finding out K.I.T.T. of “Knight Rider” will be there?  But how will he get to the parade?
  • EPISODE 79 – What happens when Mrs. Cinoman changes the play from “The Wizard of Oz” to “Phantom of the Opera”?
  • EPISODE 80 – Murray has tickets to a Harlem Globetrotters and wants to take Barry.  But when Murray has amnesia, what happens when he takes Adam?
  • EPISODE 81 – What happens when Adam gets a rare VHS bootleg copy of “Star Wars Holiday Special”?
  • EPISODE 82 – Inspired by “Dead Poets Society”, what happens when Beverly gets a one-month substitute teacher’s job?
  • EPISODE 83 – Due to heavy snow, the Goldberg children have to figure out what to do on their day off?
  • EPISODE 84 – Adam is upset that his buddy Chad Kremp can’t devote more time to “Chadam Productions” due to tennis.
  • EPISODE 85 – What happens when Barry and Erica try to get a mob at Spencer’s Gifts store?
  • EPISODE 86 – Adam wants to become famous but when a casting agent sees Adam playing a nerd role, Beverly feels her son deserves a better part.
  • EPISODE 87 – When Adam reads the other Adam Goldberg’s review of “The Karate Kid”, he challenges him to a fight.
  • EPISODE 88 – What happens when the guys want to induct Deadhead into JTP?
  • EPISODE 89 – Lainey is accepted to a fashion design school in Savannah, Georgia and Barry panics of what he will do after high school.
  • EPISODE 90 – With prom night approaching, how will Erica and Geoff continue their relationship?
  • EPISODE 91 – Murray wants his daughter Erica to attend his alma mater, Penn State University.
  • EPISODE 92 – What happens when Barry gets a job at a local country club?
  • EPISODE 93 – What happens when Barry, Lainey and the JTP watch “The Day After” with Murray?
  • EPISODE 94 – Barry and Lainey vs. Erica and Geoff compete for “Cutest Couple” in the yearbook.
  • EPISODE 95 – It’s graduation day.  How will the lives of Erica, Geoff, Lainey and Barry change after graduation?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality on DVD is very good as the series is broken up in three discs. Audio quality is good with clear dialogue. I did not notice any artifacts or any problematic issues during my viewing of the series.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring 20 deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Kara-Te Kid” with Adam F. Goldberg, Doug Robinson, Lew Schneider, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Troy Gentile.
  • Gag Reel – (4:45) Season four gag reel.
  • The Goldbergs Trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with a slipcover.


With the fourth season of “The Goldbergs”, the season marks a change as Erica graduates high school and plans to go to college, while finding herself more emotional as she notices that she has developed feelings for Schwartz.

As Lainey is about to graduate and go to fashion school, Barry knows that things are changing and he starts to learn that he is good and math and has interests of becoming a doctor.  But will he pursue career or trying to be close to Lainey?

Meanwhile, as season three was a change for Adam as he experienced puberty, for season four, Adam and friends begin high school.

And just when life for these three teens are difficult enough, they are shocked when they find out their mother, Beverly has gotten her substitute teaching license and she intends to teach at her children’s high school and show offer her love for her children in front of all the students.

All this and more in season four of “The Goldbergs”!

As a child of the ’80s and having experienced the fads, the music, the clothing, the toys of that time period, how awesome and fresh is it to find a TV show that incorporates the pop culture of that timeline but making it accessible for today’s generation and also for those who grew up during that time period.

And to find out that the Goldberg’s are modeled after series creator, Adam F. Goldberg’s life and being treated with actual video camera footage, how cool is that?

But there is so much to enjoy about this coming-of-age comedy series. Many of us can sympathize with young Adam Goldberg because we grew up with the amazing toys of the ’80s such as the Transformers (in season two, Adam anguishes over the death of Optimus Prime after watching “The Transformers: The Movie”) and also grew up watching movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, which both the character Adam and Barry try to re-enact and also the well-known scene from “Say Anything”.

But while the series does jump different years during the ’80s, it still tries to capture the ’80s through music and pop culture.

This is pop culture that I grew up with and it’s brought to the masses tastefully to the point that you can’t help but be entertained. In fact, my wife and my teen son are now addicted to the series and watching “The Goldbergs” is family night for us!

But what makes this series work so well is its characters.

While Adam is the level-headed, trying to figure out life young teen, Barry is that awkward guy that many of us guys had seen or had similar experiences that were just as awkward. Trying to fit in, trying to be cool, being a wannabe breakdancer or rapper, Barry is that awkward side that many of us get embarrassed by watching, but knowing that he’s cool in his own way at times, despite others thinking that he is a bit uncool.

Both Goldberg brothers make major headways in the second season as they both get girlfriends and it’s interesting because of the shenanigans that take place.

And you have the popular sister, the often medling mother and the father who just wants to be cool, relax after a hard day at work (and likes to drop his pants before sitting and watching television) but is also more than often having to be the husband trying to prevent his wife from doing something embarrassing to their children, as she wants to often meddle in their affairs. And of course, you have the cool grandfather with “Pops”, who also tries to play things cool with the kids.

Each of the talent does a great job in portraying their character and all episodes of “The Goldbergs” have been nothing but entertaining and fun and definitely one of my favorite comedy series on television.  And as everyone grows older in the series, the show reflects that and this season no doubt marks change among the characters.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good and you get an audio commentary, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

Overall, “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” is highly recommended!

 

The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

thegoldbergs-s3

 “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” is highly recommended!

© 2014, 2015, 2016 Sony Pictures Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 48-71 (539 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1), English, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: September 12, 2015


Directed by David Katzenberg, Jay Chandrrasekhar, Victor Nelli Jr., Lew Schneider, Richie Keen, Jon Corn, Richie Keen, Joanna Kerns, Kevin Smith, Peter B. Ellis, Christine Gernon, Beth McCarthy-Miller, Lea Thompson, Jason Blount, Anton Cropper, Jude Weng

Written by Adam F. Goldberg, Lacey Marisa Friedman, Lauen Bans, Aaron Kaczander, Annie Mebane, Dan Levy, David Guarascio, Adam Armus,Josef Adalian, Kerri Doherty, Brian Hennelly, Rob Lieber, Matt Esdall, Matt Mira, Hans Rodionoff, Erik Weiner

Executive Producer: Adam F. Goldberg, Seth Gordon, Doug Robinson, David Guarascio, Adam Armus

Producer: Dan Levy, Annie Mebane, Rob Lieber, Dan Levy

Co-Executive Producer: Annette Sahakian Davis, Lew Schneider, Chris Bishop, Stephen Basilone, Andrew Secunda, David Katzenberg, Brian Keith Etheridge

Co-Producer: Mary Rohlich, Billy Wee, Mac Marshall

Consulting Producer: Michael J. Weithorn

Cinematography by Jason Blount, Scott Browner

Editing by Ruthie Aslan, Peter B. Ellis, Kevin Leffler, Jon Corn, Dave Canseco, Robert Lanford

Casting by Leslie Litt

Production Design by Cory Lorenzen

Art Direction by Bill Brownell

Set Decoration by Suzette Sheets, Donald Krafft

Costume Design by Keri Smith


Starring:

Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg

Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg

Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg

Hayley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg

George Segal as Albert “Pops” Solomon

Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg

Patton Oswalt as the Narrator

AJ Michalka as Lainey Lewis

Virginia Gardner as Lexy Bloom

Sam Lerner as Geoff Schwartz

Natalie Alyn Lind as Dana Caldwell

Kenny Ridwan as Dave Kim

Stephn Tobolowsky as Principal Ball

Jackson Odell as Ari Caldwell

Jacob Hopkins as Chad Kremp

Matt Bush as Andy Cogan

Noah Munck as “Naked” Rob Smith

Bryan Callen as Mr. Mellor

Sean Marquette as Johnny Atkins

Alex Jennings as Carla Natali

Tim Meadows as Mr. Glascott


Before there were parenting blogs, trophies for showing up and peanut allergies, there was a simpler time called the ‘80s. For geeky Adam Goldberg, these were his wonder years, and he faced them armed with a video camera to capture all the crazy. Barry and Erica get into some “risky business,” Adam uses “Weird Al” Yankovic and magic to his advantage in dating, Murray learns to dance and Beverly begins a new “Super Hanukkah” tradition. The Goldbergs are a loving family like any other — just with a lot more yelling.


In 2013, the series “The Goldbergs” created by Adam F. Goldberg (“Breaking In”) aired on television.

Starring Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Brides Maids”, “Reno 911!”), Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Daddy Day Care”), George Segal (“Look Who’s Talking”, “The Cable Guy”), Haley Orrantia, Troy Gentile (“Nacho Libre”, “Drillbit Taylor”, “Good Luck Chuck”), Sean Giambrone (“I Heart Shakey”, “Clarence”) and narration by Patton Oswalt (“The King of Queens”, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”).

With a fifth season set to air on ABC, the third and fourth season will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Goldbergs” is a comedy set in the 1980’s and is based on the life of series-creator Adam F. Goldberg (at the end of each episode are real life video camera footage that Adam filmed of him and his family from the ’80s).

The series takes place in Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania and features Murray Goldberg (portrayed by Jeff Garlin) as the furniture salesman and family patriarch, the intruding but loving mother Beverly (portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey).

Both Murry and Beverly are parents to the popular and rebellious Erica (portrayed by Hayley Orrantia), the always trying hard but very naive, mama’s boy Barry (portrayed by Troy Gentile) and the young but mature for his age, Adam Goldberg (portrayed by Sean Giambrone).

The family are often visited by the children’s grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon (portrayed by George Segal), who tries to help when he sees his daughter Beverly getting too involved in the kid’s lives.  And what happens when Murray’s father and brother come to Thanksgiving?

The following is a spoilerless summary of the third season of “The Goldbergs”:

  • EPISODE 48 – Barry, Erica and Lainey are planning a “Risky Business” style of party.  Meanwhile, Beverly becomes a temporary smother for Lainey.
  • EPISODE 49 – Adam is going through puberty and is a soloist for “A Chorus Line”.
  • EPISODE 50 – Adam tricks his father to assist him in a learning-based project building a robot.
  • EPISODE 51 – Adam is failing in P.E.  How can his mother make him feel better and for him to take part in P.E.
  • EPISODE 52 – What happen when Erica has Barry dressed like Boy George to stay with Lainey.
  • EPISODE 53 – Adam wants to spend time with Dana during Halloween and they dress up as Alien and Ellen Ripley.
  • EPISODE 54 – Erica throws her annual Troop Beverly Hills pajama party.
  • EPISODE 55 – It’s Thanksgiving and Beverly invites Murray’s estranged father, Pop-Pop.
  • EPISODE 56 – Barry is inspired by “Top Gun” and he enlists in ROTC.
  • EPISODE 57 – Beverly wants her family to be like the Kremps during Christmas.Erica is not happy that Barry is spending
  • EPISODE 58 –  Beverly wants to remodel her kitchen after visiting the Kremps’ home.
  • EPISODE 59 – Barry and Erica sign up to be part of the “Hands Across America” and Beverly wants to be in charge.
  • EPISODE 60 – What happens when Adam and Emmy finds out that “Double Dare” is hosting auditions at their school.
  • EPISODE 61 – Barry wants to do anything crazy for Valentine’s Day and is inspired by Lionel Richie’s music video of “Hello”.
  • EPISODE 62 – Dana comes back to town and wants to spend a romantic weekend together with Adam.
  • EPISODE 63 – Barry thinks he is “Student Athlete of the Year” but when he is dejected and embarrassed, he tries to find a way to become a champion of something.
  • EPISODE 64 – Erica and her mother are inspired by “Dirty Dancing” and want the next school dance to become a “Dirty Dancing” theme.
  • EPISODE 65 – Adam is inspired by Dave Kim’s tape collection as a member of the Columbia House music service.
  • EPISODE 66 – Barry avoids the PSAT test and is disappointed when he finds out that Lainey and his friends are planning to take the test.
  • EPISODE 67 – Adam is tired of being humiliated because he since he is not athletic and often picked last, but what happens when Coach Mellor makes him a team captain.
  • EPISODE 68 – Barry is jealous that his mother is playing favorites with her children and making Adam “World’s Best Son”.
  • EPISODE 69 – What happens when Barry and Erica forget Mother’s Day.
  • EPISODE 70 – Tired of seeing Barry always wearing his “Big Orange” Philadelphia Flyers jersey, his mom Lainey accidentally ruin his jersey.
  • EPISODE 71 – Adam is a freshman and is scared of “Freshman Fear Week”.
  • SPECIAL: The Goldberg’s: An ’80s Rewind – A special episode on the making of “The Goldbergs”.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality on DVD is very good as the series is broken up in three discs. Audio quality is good with clear dialogue. I did not notice any artifacts or any problematic issues during my viewing of the series.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 3:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Dirty Dancing Dance” with Adam F. Goldberg, David Katzenberg, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Troy Gentile.
  • Gag Reel – (5:07) Season three gag reel.

EXTRAS:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” comes with a slipcover.


With the third season of “The Goldbergs”, Beverly does all she can to make her family perfect and making sure she’s part of her children’s lives. While her husband Murray, tries to be part of his children’s life and help whichever way he can.

Barry and Lainey are boyfriend and girlfriend (and Lainey becoming like another member of the family) and he wants to prove his love for her.  Adam is going through puberty and going through body and vocal changes.  Erica is not wanting her brother Barry to one up her and wanting to find love, while Schwartz does all he can to see if he can get Erica’s attention.

More shenanigans, fun and snuggies in season three of “The Goldbergs”!

As a child of the ’80s and having experienced the fads, the music, the clothing, the toys of that time period, how awesome and fresh is it to find a TV show that incorporates the pop culture of that timeline but making it accessible for today’s generation and also for those who grew up during that time period.

And to find out that the Goldberg’s are modeled after series creator, Adam F. Goldberg’s life and being treated with actual video camera footage, how cool is that?

But there is so much to enjoy about this coming-of-age comedy series. Many of us can sympathize with young Adam Goldberg because we grew up with the amazing toys of the ’80s such as the Transformers (in season two, Adam anguishes over the death of Optimus Prime after watching “The Transformers: The Movie”) and also grew up watching movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, which both the character Adam and Barry try to re-enact and also the well-known scene from “Say Anything”.

But while the series does jump different years during the ’80s, it still tries to capture the ’80s through music and pop culture.

This is pop culture that I grew up with and it’s brought to the masses tastefully to the point that you can’t help but be entertained. In fact, my wife and my teen son are now addicted to the series and watching “The Goldbergs” is family night for us!

But what makes this series work so well is its characters.

While Adam is the level-headed, trying to figure out life young teen, Barry is that awkward guy that many of us guys had seen or had similar experiences that were just as awkward. Trying to fit in, trying to be cool, being a wannabe breakdancer or rapper, Barry is that awkward side that many of us get embarrassed by watching, but knowing that he’s cool in his own way at times, despite others thinking that he is a bit uncool.

Both Goldberg brothers make major headways in the second season as they both get girlfriends and it’s interesting because of the shenanigans that take place.

And you have the popular sister, the often medling mother and the father who just wants to be cool, relax after a hard day at work (and likes to drop his pants before sitting and watching television) but is also more than often having to be the husband trying to prevent his wife from doing something embarrassing to their children, as she wants to often meddle in their affairs. And of course, you have the cool grandfather with “Pops”, who also tries to play things cool with the kids.

Each of the talent does a great job in portraying their character and all 25 episodes of “The Goldbergs” have been nothing but entertaining and fun and definitely one of my favorite comedy series on television. I really enjoyed this third season a lot!

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good. While you get an audio commentary, a gag reel but also included with season three is the special, “The Goldbergs: An ’80s Rewind”!

Overall, “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” is highly recommended!

 

Beatriz at Dinner (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling but the mark of a very good film is one that will prompt people to debate, to talk and possibly to learn from.  Is it a great film, no it’s not.  But it’s a film that will no doubt resonate for each person who watches it, may it be positive or negative.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Brown Amy LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Beatriz at Dinner

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 83 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: R (Language and a Scene of Violence)

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 12, 2017


Directed by Miguel Arteta

Written by Mike White

Produced by Aaron L. Gilbert, David Hinojosa, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon

Co-Produced: Fiona Walsh Heinz, William B. Macomber

Executive Producer: Jason Cloth, Brad Feinstein, Lewis Hendler, Richard McConnell, Andrew Pollack, Alan Simpson, Jose Tamez  Co-Executive

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Cinematography by Wyatt Garfield

Edited by Jay Deuby

Casting by Joanna Colbert, Meredith Tucker

Production Design by Ashley Fenton

Set Decoration: Madelaine Frezza

Costume Design: Christina Blackalier


Starring:

Salma Hayek as Beatriz

John Lithgow as Doug

Connie Britton as Kathy

Jay Duplass as Alex

Amy Landecker as Jeana

Chloe Sevigny as Shannon

David Warshofsky as Grant

John Early as Evan


Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a spiritual health practitioner in Los Angeles. Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire real estate developer. When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.


With all the political turmoil that currently exists in the world, especially in America, filmmaker Miguel Arteta (“Youth in Revolt”, “The Good Girl”, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”) and writer Mike White (“School of Rock”, “Nacho Libre”, “The Good Girl”, “Orange County”) reunite for another film that takes on today’s hot topic in regards to the clashing of cultures but also a clash between rich and poor.

The film stars Salma Hayek (“Frida”, “Desperado”, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”), John Lithgow (“Interstellar”, “3rd Rock from the Sun”, “Cliffhanger”), Connie Britton (“Nashville”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Spin City”), Jay Duplass (“Transparent”, “Togetherness”, “Cyrus”), Amy Landecker (“Doctor Strange”, “Project Almanac”, “Transparent”), Chloe Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “Big Love”, “Love & Friendship”) and David Warshofsky (“Taken”, “Captain Phillips”, “Now You See Me”).

And now the film will be released on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

The film begins with a woman named Beatriz (portrayed by Salma Hayek) having a dream of riding in a boat and paddling in the waters and seeing a white goat.  She awakens when a brown goat in her bedroom starts making a lot of noise.  As Beatriz tries to quite down her two dogs and the goat, she leaves for her job to a massage therapy center.

Beatriz leaves her job to tend to a client, Kathy (portrayed by Connie Britton)who lives in a wealthy, gated home.  As Beatriz massages Kathy, Beatriz tells Kathy of how her neighbor had killed one of her goats and becomes emotional when discussing it.

As she is done with her client and is about to head out home, her car doesn’t start.  She tells Kathy that she is unable to leave the driveway as her car is not working but her friend will be picking her up after he is done with work.

Kathy invites Beatriz to join them for dinner and while her husband, Grant (portrayed by David Warshofsky) is against it, because real estate developer Doug Strutt (portrayed by John Lithgow) would be arriving and it’s an important dinner, he eventually decides to allow Beatriz to join them for dinner.

Immediately, Beatriz tries to fit in by trying to make conversation with lawyer Alex (portrayed by Jay Duplass) and Shannon (portrayed by Chloe Sevigny), Doug and his wife Jeanna (portrayed by Amy Landecker).  And as Beatriz introduces herself and how she knows Kathy and what she does, the two don’t have much of an interest talking to her.

And as these three couples are celebrating their latest project and Kathy introduces the ladies to Beatriz as a healer and they start talking mean about a female celebrity, which the women get into but Beatriz is wondering why these women would talk so mean about a person they don’t know.

As she goes to visit Grant, Doug and Alex, Doug mistakes her as a servant but Grant explains that she is a guest.  As she talks about where she came from, Doug makes jokes which leads to Beatriz to say that she has seen him before.

We then see the three women looking at photos and they see Kathy and Doug’s daughter who had cancer and her daughter standing alongside Beatriz.

Kathy then tells the other women about Beatriz’ challenges of being separated by her family as a child, leaving her hometown and being raised by her grandmother in the United States but also losing her husband.

As the group gather to dinner, they all have conversation about their successful project, which Beatriz then interrupts and talks about coming from Mexico and Doug asks if she came legally.

She explains that her hometown in Mexico was destroyed by a failed hotel and she asks if Doug was the developer.  He denies it.

As Beatrix leaves and makes a call, she calls up a friend and asks if Doug Strutt was the developer that they protested against.

As the group goes into the dining room, Doug talks about hunting and the excitement of hunting and killing a wild animal and shares photos of him killing a rhinoceros on his last safari.  This sets off Beatriz who tells everyone it’s disgusting and she throws his phone.

Everyone is shocked at Beatriz’ behavior and it leads to an awkward evening between Beatriz and the home she is temporarily staying at.

And Beatriz contemplating if it’s fate that she’s at the house and perhaps she is destined to get revenge by killing Doug.  Will she do it?  What will happen throughout the evening?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Beatriz at Dinner” is presented in 1:85:1 and is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD. .  Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue driven

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Beatriz at Dinner” comes with a trailer.

EXTRAS:

“Beatriz at Dinner” comes with a slipcover.


“Beatriz at Dinner” is a provocative film that will no doubt get people talking.

Beatriz who represents the poor who came from Mexico and living in the United States and works a healer is  an animal lover, cares about the land and willing to stand up for it.  She is spiritual, caring and a very good person.

But poor Beatriz, her car breaks down at a wealthy client’s home and while she is invited to the party, these wealthy people surely don’t want Beatriz around.

It’s immediately evident as Beatriz tries to fit in.  First the women, as they discuss a female celebrity in a mean-spirited way and talks about the celebrity’s vagina and photos online which leads Beatriz to leave and tries to talk with the men.

Developer Doug thinks Beatriz is a servant and asks her to get him more alcohol, a wealthy land developer which Beatriz believes may be the person that forced her and people from her village out of their area in Mexico to build a hotel.

And to cap things off, when Doug starts talking about his hunt from his last Safari trip, this immediately sends Beatriz off the edge and she starts to think, what if she was destined to be at this party for one reason.   And that reason was to kill a man responsible for hurting the land, hurting living things.

Miguel Arteta and Mike White have no doubted crafted a film that touches on hot topics that we have seen in the news these past few years.

For me, I can see both sides because I grew up in an area of California where the population is mostly Mexican and I have had numerous Mexican friends, especially those with Native American ancestry, who come from families who are very spiritual people and feel strongly about the land, respecting the living animal that they must kill for food.

And also, I also come from an area where there are many hunters (not all Caucasian) and I have many friends who are hunters.  And I also have friends who are wealthy and those who are lawyers and real estate developers.

A number of them are two opposite ends in terms of perspective and livelihood and I knew that if you were to put them in a household together to discuss these hot topics, each would be strong with their beliefs and conviction that either side won’t back down.

This is the fracture of American society that is more evident more than ever thanks to social media.  One posts a photo of killing a deer or wildlife, despite it being legal, there are numerous people who will be passionate to show their distaste over the photo or video posted and as we have seen in news reports, a lot of the time, they receive death threats.

As for the destruction of land, this is an ongoing hot topic that has existed globally.  From the chopping of trees, especially the effects of deforestation and saw its effects on Easter Island and we are seeing it going on in the rain forests of other countries.  We have seen people forced to leave their lands and even going to inner city where gentrification is forcing lower income households to move.

There are passionate debates on both ends and there probably will not be any decorum, especially in a world where people feel that the haves do not have any compassion for the have nots.

“Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling because for me watching this film, I knew that it would be an awkward situations.  Beatriz is compassionate about people, about animals and about life.  And when she is in the presence of people who celebrate over the killing of life, the development of land for business and forcing people to move, you see a ticking time bomb that is about to detonate.

You just wonder how far Beatriz will go.

The film features a wonderful performance by Salma Hayek and it’s no doubt the most unsettling and provocative film I have seen her star in.  Also, a film where she’s not glamoured up, she is able to portray a character that represents many people who feel they have no voice in today’s society.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect.  But it’s pretty much a barebones DVD with no special features but a theatrical trailer.

Overall, Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling but the mark of a very good film is one that will prompt people to debate, to talk and possibly to learn from.  Is it a great film, no it’s not.  But it’s a film that will no doubt resonate for each person who watches it, may it be positive or negative.


 

The Wedding Plan (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Norma Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Wedding Plan

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital with Audio with Available English Subtitles, Subtitles: English, Spanish

RATED: PG (Thematic Elements)

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 5, 2017


Directed by Rama Burshtein

Written by Rama Burshtein

Produced by Assad Amir

Co-Produced: Adar Shafran

Associate Producer: Tammy Cohen

Music by Roy Edri

Cinematography by Amit Yasur

Edited by Yael Hersonski

Art Direction by Uri Aminov

Costume Design: Hava Levi Rozelsky


Starring:

Noa Koler as Michal

Amos Tamam as Shimi

Oz Zehavi as Yos

Irit Sheleg as Sosh, Michal’s Mother

Ronny Merhavi as Feggie

Dafi Shoshana Alpern as Noam, Michal’s Sister

Oded Leopold as Assaf

Udi Persi as Ronen, Blind Date

Jonathan Rozen as Alon, Blind Date (Deaf)


THE WEDDING PLAN is a poignant and funny romantic comedy about love, marriage, and faith in life’s infinite possibilities. Michal, blindsided by her fiancé’s decision to call off their wedding with only a month’s notice, is unwilling to return to single life. Michal decides to put her trust in fate and continue with her wedding plans, believing Mr. Right will appear by her chosen date. As the day of the ceremony grows closer and no suitor appears, Michal puts everything on the line to find happiness.


From filmmaker Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”) comes her Israeli film “Laavor et hakir” (a.k.a. “Through the Wall”) and will be released on DVD in North America with the title, “The Wedding Plan”.

Screened at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival and earning actress Noa Koler the “Best Actress” award at the Haifa International Film Festival 2016.  And the film opened in the U.S. back in May 2017 and received positive reviews from film critics nationwide.

The film begins with Michal (portrayed by Noa Koler), an Orthodox Jewish woman in her early 30s and notices that her fiance is not being straightforward with her.  When she pushes him to tell her what is wrong, at first he refuses, but after plenty of cajoling by Michal, he tells her the truth…he is not in love with her.

And their wedding which is called off.

Determined to marry 22 days later on the eighth night of Hannukkah, the film is about Michal in despair, trying to find someone to marry her.

Michal goes to a fortune teller (portrayed by Odelia Moreh-Matalon) and tells her the truth that she wants to be married, wants a man that she can love and loves her.  And the fortune teller tells her that her dreams will come true and she recommends her to seeing her son Shimi (portrayed by Amos Tamam), a man who runs a wedding hall in Jerusalem.  And Shimi tells her that he would give her a discount if she gets married at his wedding hall.

And so Michal decides rent a hall and continues to prepare for a marriage despite not having a man to marry and to continue as originally planned and leaves it up to God to decide on her groom.

Michal goes on several dates and meets a man who vows to not look a woman in the face if she is not his wife.  She meets a deaf man (portrayed by Jonathan Rozen) that she had refused to meet earlier.  And during a pilgrimate to Nachman of Breslov, she meets a man named Yoss (portrayed by Oz Zehavi), who happens to be an Israeli pop star.

But as the wedding date approaches, will Michal get married to anyone?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Wedding Plan” is presented in 1:85:1 and is presented in Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD.  Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a photo gallery and trailer.

EXTRAS:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a slipcover.


One of the things that I love about foreign films is to learn about culture and perspectives from other countries.  And Rama Burshtein has given us a look at arranged marriages and with her 2012 film “Fill the Void”, she gave us a perspective of a young Hasidic Jewish woman pressured into an arranged marriage to an older widower.

In 2016, Rama Burshtein tackles the topic of marriage again with her romantic comedy “The Wedding Plan”.

The film revolves around a Jewish Orthodox woman named Michal who wants to be married, wants to love and wants to be loved by a man.

And when her fiance calls of their wedding a month before their actual wedding date, this sends Michal in a path of despair.  Not wanting to cancel her marriage and is determined to get married on the date of her marriage, with the support of her family and friends, Michal goes on various dates with men who also want to be married.

But nothing goes as planned in these dates as the men she meets are not interested in her and her wanting to meet with these men is not much for love but more for despair.

And as the days near her wedding date, Michal starts to become unsure whether or not she will get married.  Will she get married?

Featuring a wonderful performance by actress Noa Koler and a soundtrack with great music, “The Wedding Plan” is unique that it’s not formulaic by any means.  Most of the time, with most films, you expect the protagonist to meet the right person they want to marry, run into complications but yet they get married.

This is not so with “The Wedding Plan”.  Until the film gets to the end, you really don’t know if Michal will marry.  And so, the film still remains fresh and leaves the viewer wondering, will she or won’t she get married?

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality good as one can expect on DVD.  Closeups look very good, outdoor scenes are vibrant, dialogue and music is crystal clear and there are few special features included such as a photo gallery and theatrical trailer.

Overall, Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!


 

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 517-528 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 20, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The human-hating Hordy Jones and his army of 100,000 troops has Fishman Island’s royal family by the gills. Luckily, the Straw Hats make it in time to show off a boatload of powerful new moves! But just when Luffy kicks into gear, an ancient ship nearly twice the size of the island heads straight for Shirahoshi. Only the cowardly mermaid can guide the vessel away before it crushes them all.


It has been two years since Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates has been together and now, the promised day of reuniting has arrived and the group head back to the seas.  But when they find out a group has been impersonating them, the group has chance to show how much they have improved in the past two years.

Also, what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates head to their latest destination….Fishman Island?

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 799 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 519 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro), Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Eric Vale (voice of Sanji).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub – (18:59) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio as the even is celebratine a pirate theme and the cast take part in a live dub in front of their fans.
  • EPISODE 526 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!” Ver. 1 and 2

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One”, the episodes feature the reunion of the Straw Hat Pirates (featuring episodes 517-528). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

Two years have passed since the War at Marineford and as the Straw Hat Pirates promised, they will reunite after they train for two years.  But the group finds out that someone has been impersonating them.  What happens when the Straw Hat Pirates come across the Fake Straw Hat Pirates?

The next storyline features the group together and go on aboard the Thousand Sunny to their destination, Fishman Island.  But they are being pursued by a pirate named Caribou and his crew.  But waiting for them in the sea is a large Kraken known for crushing ships, but what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates and the Kraken confront each other?

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries but possibly the coolest inclusion is the Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub.  One can hope that Funimation continues this for upcoming releases of “One Piece” or other titles!

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

 

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