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Chronic (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Michel Franco’s “Chronic” is a deep, slow-moving yet thought-provoking film.  Recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2015 Pantellon LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Chronic

FILM YEAR: 2016

DURATION: 93 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate Entertainment

RATED: R

AVAILABLE ON: February 28, 2017


Directed by Michel Franco

Written by Michel Franco

Produced by Michael Franco, Gina Kwon, Gabriel Ripstein, Moises Zonana

Co-Produced by Amy Greene, David Zonana

Line Producer as Chris Stinson

Cinematography by Yves Cape

Edited by Julio Perez IV

Casting by Matthew Lessall, Susan Shopmaker

Production Design by Matt Luem

Art Direction by Nicolas Kelley, Danielle Laubach

Set Decoration by Madelaine Frezza

Costume Design by Diaz


Starring:

Tim Roth as David

David Dastmalchian as Bernard

Elizabeth Tulloch as Lidia

Claire van der Boom as Alice

Tate Ellington as Greg

Sarah Sutherland as Nadia Wilson

Michael Cristofer as John

Robin Bartlett as Martha

Joe Santos as Issac Sr.

Laura Niemi as MArgaret

Rachel Pickup as Sarah


Tim Roth gives an astonishing performance in this acclaimed film about a dedicated home-care nurse who finds that he needs his patients as much as they need him.


The critically acclaimed Mexican filmmaker/writer/producer Michel Franco is known for films such as “After Lucia”, “Daniel and Ana” and “A los ojos”.

In 2015, the Franco-Mexican production, “Chronic” starring Tim Roth (“Pulp Fiction”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Planet of the Apes”, “Reservoir Dogs”) was premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.  And Franco would win an award for “Best Screenplay”.

And now, “Chronic” will be released on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate.

“Chronic” revolves around a caretaker named David Wilson (portrayed by Tim Roth), who works with patience in hospice and takes care of terminally ill patients.

The film begins with David following someone in his car and then later we see David taking care of a patient named Sarah (portrayed by Rachel Pickup) who is frail and dying.  As David takes care of Sarah (bathing her, helping her being comfortable), we then see him attending her funeral and her sister wanting to talk to him, but David refuses.

When he walks to a bar, he tells a story that he was married to a woman, who passed away due to AIDS. Embellishing his true relationship with Sarah, who was just a patient, not his wife.

We then see David becoming the new caretaker of a stroke victim named John (portrayed by Michael Cristofer) and immediately, he starts pretending he is the brother of John and visiting a couple of luxury homes that John built.  But why is David lyig?  As he keeps John pre-occupied with architecture and letting him watch porn on a tablet, John’s family becomes concern by the amount of time that David spends wiht John.

In fact, telling other caretakers that he will take their shift in order to take care of John.  But because of this, he gis accused of sexual harassment by John’s family and this leads David to face his own family.

And we learn a little of what drives David to be around the terminally ill patients, his relationship with his daughter Nadia (portrayed by Sarah Sutherland) and how David suffers from chronic depression because of actions he took in the past, which have affected his life.

What secrets does David hold within?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Chronic” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot with no musical score, the film is primarily dialogue-driven.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Spirit of the Game” comes with the “Behind the Scenes of Chronic” featurette.


Michel Franco’s “Chronic” is a film that tells a story through actions.

While watching the film, one will realize that the film features little dialogue and a storyline that slowly unravels, revealing David’s life as a caretaker and his life outside of work and his love for his daughter.  And we learn slowly of why his relationship with his family had been difficult.

As David struggles with guilt from a decision he made in the past, he now suffers from chronic depression and tries to use his time in life to help those in need and that is through being an excellent caretaker.  But because he is dedicated to helping those suffering from extreme health problems, while most people would find difficulties in that type of job, he chooses to spend more time with his terminally ill patients.

And of course, his actions are unethical to his job but in his mind, it’s his way of exploring the lives of people who are not in good shape.

The film is no doubt a hybrid of art house and commercial filmmaking, and while I enjoyed the film, I expect many who watch this film and will not be pleased with how the film ended.

Without revealing too much of the plot, while I enjoyed the film’s slow unveiling, there are some moments where the film portrays David as a character that is creepy and one may thing that something is awry with his behavior and that the film could be building to something more sinister or troublesome.  But in reality, the film is a character study of David Wilson, his guilt and chronic depression that leads him to do the things he does but viewers are slowly take in to view David’s reality through tough choices that he had to make and struggling to find out if he did the right thing or not.

As for the DVD, picture quality is good, while the film’s audio is primarily dialogue driven.  You get a single special feature on the “Behind the Scenes of Chronic”.

Overall, Michel Franco’s “Chronic” is a deep, slow-moving yet thought-provoking film.  Recommended.

 

Spirit of the Game (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Spirit of the Game” is no doubt a feel-good, underdog rising through adversity type of film. Sure, there is some sort of banality compared to other underdog sports films, but “Spirit of the Game” goes beyond winning on the basketball court, but also the importance of missionary work and using basketball as a strong form of communication with the community. “Spirit of the Game” is a film worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Spirits of the Game Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Spirit of the Game

FILM YEAR: 2016

DURATION: 98 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Mild Thematic Elements)

AVAILABLE ON: February 7, 2017


Directed by Darran Scott

Written by Darran Scott

Produced by Steve Jaggi, Spencer McLaren, Kate Whitbread

Executive Produced by Craig Deeker, Devin Durrant, Phil Hunt, Janine Pearce, Compton Ross, Darran Scott

Associate Producer: Harry Borland

Music by Ned McPhie, Matt Rudduck

Cinematography by Brian J. Breheny

Edited by Adrian Powers

Casting by Ann Fay, Louise Mitchell

Production Design by Adele Flere

Set Decoration by Robert Molnar

Costume Design by Andrew Infanti


Starring:

Aaron Jakubenko as Delyle Condie

Kevin Sorbo as Parley Condie

Heidi Arena as Mary Condie

Rudi Baker as Stan Page

Bailey Barbour as Young Delyle

Roy Barker as Syd

Corey Bear as Elder Christensen

Ben Bordeau as Jean-Paul Beugnot

Wade Briggs as Don Hull

Cameron Caulfield as Brett Davies

Hannah Cliff as Norma Condie

Emilie Cocquerel as Emily

Sam Hayden-Smith as James Condie

Andrew Hearle as Elder Frodsham

Jean-Philippe Heon as Coach Busnel

Jacob Machin as Grant Condie

Anna McGahan as Elspeth

Neil Melville as David O. McKay

Ben Prendergast as Coach Gardner


It’s 1956 and twenty-year-old Delyle Condie is on top of the world. MVP of his college basketball team (University of Utah) and engaged to Emily, his high school sweetheart, life is looking pretty good. That is, until the second round of the NCAA tournament. Midway through the most important game of his life, Emily unexpectedly breaks off her engagement to Delyle. Heartbroken, Delyle makes the spontaneous decision to quit basketball and embark on a mission for his church. His destination: Melbourne, Australia. A city gripped with Olympic fever, Delyle’s first encounters with the Aussies are not encouraging. He struggles to maintain his spirits when faced with the indifference of the locals, but when an opportunity arises to help train Australia’s first Olympic basketball team, Delyle sees his chance to connect with them. His passion leads to the formation of the Mormon Yankees basketball team, and in the run up to the Games, fierce competition with the French leads to a bloody rematch.


The Mormon Yankees.

A group of Mormons who formed a basketball team who played against countries preparing for the 1956 Olympics.  Did this actually happen?

Filmmaker/screenwriter Darran Scott (“The Playbook”, “Walk By Faith”, “A Brigh Shining Life”) explores the Mormon Yankees for his film “Spirit of the Game”, which will be available on DVD in February 2017 courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film stars Aaron Jakubenko (“Spartacus: War of the Damned”, “The Shannara Chronicles”, “Roman Empire: Reign of Blood”), Kevin Sorbo (“Andromeda”, “God’s Not Dead”, “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”), Wade Briggs (“Still Star-Crossed”, “Please Like Me”), Hannah Cliff (“Neighbours”, “House Husbands”), Emilie Coquerel (“Lion”, “An Accidental Soldier”) and more.

The film revolves around DeLyle Condie (portrayed by Aaroon Jakubenko), a 7-foot-6 college basketball standout and MVP for the University of Utah who is doing great in basketball and is set to marry his childhood love, Emily (portrayed by Emilie Cocquerel).

With the support of his mom and father Parley (portrayed by Kevin Sorbo), all is going well until Emily comes back from staying with her sister for several weeks and tells him that she can’t marry him and sees her with another man.

Feeling defeated and feeling his love for basketball is not his priority, DeLyle quits basketball and decides to go on a mission for his church in Melbourne, Australia.

As Australia is preparing for the 1956 Olympics, he and his fellow missionaries take part in a friendly match against members of the Australian Olympic basketball team and the missionaries beat them.

But the leader of the missionary in Australia reminds DeLyle of why he is in Australia and he must stop playing basketball.

But life as a missionary proves to be challenging but when he sees how the community are embracing basketball, the Australian coach Ken Watson (portrayed by Grant Piro) has a plan, for DeLyle and his fellow missionaries to come together as a basketball team and prep the Australian basketball team for the Olympics.

DeLyle starts to see basketball as the opportunity to bring the community together and introduce people to the church.  But will it work?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Spirit of the Game” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is quite good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.  Surround channels are utilized in more of the crowd scenes during the basketball games.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Spirit of the Game” comes with the “Behind the Scenes: Spirit of the Game” featurette.


Back in 1956, the accomplishments of a Mormon team, known as the Mormon Yankees, a basketball team of Mormons who banded together to scrimmage the Australian Olympic basketball team made big news for what they accomplished on the court but also their accomplishments off the court… for the sake of using basketball to promote a positive message to the community and the church.

Led by DeLyle Condie, a former University of Utah basketball MVP with the skills to make it to the NBA, DeLyle Condie would lead a team who would also compete and help prep the Olympic basketball teams in a matchup that would shock people because the Mormon Yankees would win.

The film is an underdog team becoming heroes feel-good film but also a film that showcases a positive spiritual tone that people with an open mind will enjoy.

While I don’t know how accurate the film is compared to the real DeLyle Condie and the Mormon Yankees, when it comes to films about Mormon missionaries, you don’t really see that many of them.  But there are solid and higher budget films such as Disney’s “The Other Side of Heaven” starring Christopher Gorham and Anne Hathaway and even the wicked horror thriller, “Missionary”, to name a few.

But as I mentioned in previous film reviews of Christian films, I like films that are able to communicate a message without being overly preachy and giving people the choice to make-up their minds and learn, rather than feeling forced to accept a belief, ideology or religion.

Personally, I enjoyed “Spirits of the game” for its pure entertainment of seeing a man dedicated to his religion and reaching out to the community through basketball.  Putting others in need first, before himself and the basketball team, if the real-life DeLyle Condie is like the person portrayed in the film, then I can’t help but feel that the basketball player was a very cool individual.

I did like the touches to make the feel of the 1950’s era with hairstyles, costume design and even basketball competition with the small courts, lower baskets, granny foul shots and even the lax of international competition and how hard fouls were at that time.

Overall, “Spirit of the Game” is no doubt a feel-good, underdog rising through adversity type of film.  Sure, there is some sort of banality compared to other underdog sports films, but “Spirit of the Game” goes beyond winning on the basketball court, but also the importance of missionary work and using basketball as a strong form of communication with the community.

“Spirit of the Game” is a film worth watching!

 

Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman Double Feature (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman” is a fantastic collection of three Frankenstein episodes and a wolfman episode that aired on the History Channel.  Well-researched and truly insightful, if you enjoyed these episodes on the History Channel or just curious about where Frankenstein and the wolfman were derived from, this double feature on DVD is recommended!

Images courtesy of © AE Television Networks LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman

FILM YEAR: 1995-2009

DURATION: 178 Minutes + 94 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:33:1 Widescreen, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: NA

AVAILABLE ON: February 7, 2017


The Real Wolfman

Directed by Carsten Oblaender

Written by Carsten Oblaender and Laurie Miller

Produced by Story House Productions, Inc.

Executive Produced by Andreas Gutzeit, Carl H. Lindahl


The Real Story Wolfman

Starring:

Narrator: Jonathan Adams

Ken Gerhardt

George Deuchar


FRANKENSTEIN: THE REAL STORY OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
The Frankenstein: The Real Story collection from HISTORY® examines how the tale of a brilliant but deranged scientist who builds a grotesque monster from the body parts of fresh corpses has its roots in reality. “In Search of the Real Frankenstein” looks at scientists throughout history who experimented with reviving animal and human corpses to find the secret force of life. “Frankenstein” explores the fact-or-fiction origins of the tale that became the first science fiction novel. “It’s Alive! The True Story of Frankenstein” further traces the story through all its artistic renditions, from 19th-century stage adaptations to 1930s silent films to Mel Brooks’s satirical Young Frankenstein and Kenneth Branagh’s faithful horror interpretation. This spectacular set features interviews with actors including Gene Wilder and experts on Mary Shelley, the 19th-century novel, the horror genre, cinema makeup, and much more.

THE REAL WOLFMAN OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
In the mid-1700s, a mysterious beast viciously attacked and killed 102 villagers in the French village of Gévaudan. The victims, mostly women and children, were mauled and decapitated, their naked bodies all bearing the savage bite marks of a non-human creature. The killings marked the largest number of alleged werewolf attacks in history and are a contributor to the Hollywood “Wolfman” legend. Venture deep into the mythology and folklore of werewolves with renowned cryptozoologist Ken Gerhardt and veteran criminal profiler George Deuchar as they investigate the reviled creature believed to brutally kill when the moon is full. Their investigation includes intriguing paranormal transformations, diseases that make men look and act like animals, and strange but true stories of children raised by wolves. What they uncover in the dark side of human nature is the horrific truth behind the Gévaudan werewolf attacks, and the wolfman within us all.


For the first time, all  three Frankenstein episodes (“In Search of the Real Frankenstein”, “Frankenstein” and “It’s Alive! The True Story of Frankenstein”) and “The Real Wolfman” which aired on the History Channel will be released as a double feature on DVD.

“In Search of the Real Frankenstein” is a series that focuses on scientists throughout history who really experimented on animal and human corpses in order to revive them and finds secrets to the force of life.

“Frankenstein” explores the fact or fiction of Frankenstein and the real life of author Mary Shelley.

“It’s Alive! The True Story of Frankenstein” traces the story of “Frankenstein” from its original story, the 19th-century stage adaptations, the silent films to Mel Brook’s satirical “Young Frankenstein” and Kenneth Branagh’s faithful horror adaptation.  Also, an episode that features interviews with celebrities and experts.

“The Real Wolfman” features veteran criminal profiler George Deuchar and cryptozoologist Ken Gerhardt going to France to investigate the wolfman and the murders of 102 villagers in the French village of Gevaudan back in the mid-1700’s.  Is the wolfman fact or fiction?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman” is a compilation of episodes shot from 1995-2009.  So, picture quality varies with the older to newer History TV episodes.  But for the most part, picture quality is good as one would expect.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman” comes with no special features.


The History Channel is known for its wonderful investigative episodes on the history covering various people that are historic due to their accomplishments in their country, but often there are investigative episodes on the supernatural to monsters.

In the DVD double feature, “Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman”, the DVD focuses on where the terrifying monsters, Frankenstein and the Real Wolfman were derived from.

And I found myself captivated by each episode featured.

The first, “In Search of the Real Frankenstein” was actually quite shocking because the episode features on the horrific experiments conducted by real scientists throughout history, trying to know how the body works, but trying to revive actual corpses through electricity and some experiments that even horrified those who were witnessing the grizzly experiments at the time.

“Frankenstein” was fascinating because it goes into the origins of where “Frankenstein” is derived and also the 18-year-old author Mary Shelley.

But the best Frankenstein episode would have to be the best of the three as “It’s Alive! The True Story of Frankenstein” traces the story of Frankenstein through history and while it features interviews with directors, celebrities and experts, the best part of this episode is the true story of author, Mary Shelley’s life and the tragedy that happened in different moments of her life.

As for the 2009 episode, “The Real Wolfman”, this fascinating investigative episode features veteran criminal profiler George Deuchar and cryptozoologist Ken Gerhardt investigating the wolfman and how stories of the murders of 102 villagers in the French village of Gevaudan in the mid-1700’s fueled the wolfman myth.  But how villagers believe in the wolfman, thus prompting a thorough investigation by both men.  Fascinating discoveries and definitely enjoyable to watch.

Overall, “Frankenstein: The Real Story/The Real Wolfman” is a fantastic collection of three Frankenstein episodes and a wolfman episode that aired on the History Channel.  Well-researched and truly insightful, if you enjoyed these episodes on the History Channel or just curious about where Frankenstein and the wolfman were derived from, this double feature on DVD is recommended!

 

Spin Out (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Tim Ferguson and Marc Gracie’s “Spin Out” is a decent romantic comedy from Australia.  A story hindered by too many characters and lack of character development, “Spin Out” is a film that may amuse a few.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Wykono Pty Ltd. and Screen Australia. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Spin Out

FILM YEAR: 2016

DURATION: 92 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Widescreen, English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio,  Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Language Including Sexual References)

AVAILABLE ON: February 7, 2017


Directed by Tim Ferguson, Marc Gracie

Written by Edwina Exton, Tim Ferguson

Produced by Marc Gracie, David Redman

Executive Produced by Phil Hunt, Bryce Menzies, Compton Ross

Associate Producer: Edwina Exton

Music by Jon Hume

Cinematography by Justin Brickle

Edited by Ken Sallows

Casting by Thea McLeod

Production Design by Ralph Moser

Art Direction by Blossom Flint

Costume Design by Aphrodite Kondos


Starring:

Xavier Samuel as Billy

Morgan Griffin as Lucy

Lincoln Lewis as Nic

Travis Jeffery as Sparrow McGee

Tessa James as Kimba

Melissa Bergland as Mary

Lisa Kowalski as Shazza

PiaGrace Moon as Taylah

Christie Whelan as Sasha

Brendan Bacon as JJ

Thomas Blackburne as Rooter

Dorje Swallow as Podge

Brooke McClymont as Michelle

Damian Hill as Spike

Chris Fortuna as Boof

Aileen Huynh as Merline


Billy and Lucy have grown up together in a small, close-knit country town, where they form one of the town’s most formidable off-road driving teams. When Billy takes one risky car stunt too far, Lucy declares she is moving to the city – sending Billy into a spin. Amid the mayhem of the town’s annual block party, Billy only has one night to wake up to his true feelings for his best friend – or lose her forever.


From actor/filmmaker Tim Ferguson (“DAAS Kapital”, “Funky Squad”, “Shock Jock”) and Marc Gracie (“Totally Full Frontal”, “The Tumbler”, “You and Your Stupid Mate”) comes their Australian romantic comedy “Spin Out”.

Written by Edwina Exton and Tim Ferguson, the film stars Xavier Samuel (“Fury”, “Love & Friendship”, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”), Morgan Griffin (“San Andreas”, “The Sleepover Club”), Lincoln Lewis (“After Earth”, “Home and Away”), Travis Jeffery (“Gallipoli”, “Wolf Creek”), Tessa Jams (“Home and Away”, “We Were Tomorrow”), Melissa Bergland (“Winners & Losers”, “Relative Happiness”), Lisa Kowalski (“The Black Balloon”, “Blinder”) and PiaGrace Moon.

“Spin Out” revolves around two best friends who grew up with each other, Billy (portrayed by Xavier Samuels) and Lucy (portrayed by Morgan Griffin) who live in a small town in Australia.

Billy has always looked at Lucy as like a “Bro” and they are heavily involved with the town’s Ute driving competitions.

But now Lucy feels that she wants to do something with her life and leave the small town, so she wants to move to the city.

And her plans are made clear after Billy pulls off a risky car stunt that sends him into a spin and really upsets Lucy for him making another rash decision that could have gotten him killed.

Not understanding why she is upset, it is quite obvious to everyone else that Lucy has always liked Billy, he just doesn’t get it.

Billy and his friends attend the annual “Bachelors and Spinsters” party.  While Billy’s buddy Sparrow McGee tries to go out with tough girl Mary (portrayed by Melissa Bergland), who also wants to leave town to become a wrestler.  You also have a story about the wealthy sister and her brother visit the small town to attend the party because she wants to hook up with a guy from a smaller town and get away from the type of guys she has dated in the city.  And also, a singer who is pregnant but afraid to tell her current boyfriend, the baby is not his.

As many of Billy’s friends are facing life changing decisions, now that they are getting older, life after the annual “Bachelors and Spinsters” party will change the direction of their lives forever.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Spin Out” is presented in 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Spin Out” comes with no special features.


Tim Ferguson, the Australian actor turned filmmaker is known for his “DAAS” years and having written and directed a few TV series and films, he is back with a romantic comedy “Spin Out”.

An Australian romantic comedy that feels like a nod to ’80s teen romantic comedies without the sex, “Spin Out” is a film about two people living in a small, close knit-town and are heavily involved in Ute off-road driving competitions.

Billy and Lucy grew up with each other, are best buds but of course, as they get older, Lucy who has always loved Billy doesn’t receive the same kind of love as Billy looks at Lucy as just one of the guys.

But when she makes the decision to grow up and move to the city, this leaves Billy feeling a little bit lost because he never imagined growing up and becoming responsible.  While his friends are in the same position and are contemplating joining the military or wanting a relationship.

The weakness for “Spin Out” is that it tries to incorporate way too many characters for its own good.  Characters that you don’t really get into.

Unlike a large cast in a romantic comedy such as the original “American Pie” which focuses on a group of teens wanting to do something with their lives, get laid and have sex, at least there is a focus on character development.  With “Spin Out”, while the protagonists are taken care of, aside from Billy’s shy friend Sparrow wanting to hook up with resident tough girl Mary, everyone else are just there with their own share of issues.

Execution is what’s lacking and the film tries to incorporate stories such as a wealthy sister and brother trying to check out how life is on the other side and hook up at the annual party, two buffoons who start to realize they may fancy each other and other situations that just don’t seem to work.

A little surprise that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment decided to release this film on DVD, as there are a lot of other Australian films that are far more deserving and never receive recognition here in the U.S.

As for the DVD, picture quality and audio are good.  No special features, so this is a barebones DVD release.

Overall, Tim Ferguson and Marc Gracie’s “Spin Out” is a decent romantic comedy from Australia.  A story hindered by too many characters and lack of character development, “Spin Out” is a film that may amuse a few.

 

Power Rangers: Dino Charge – The Complete Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” fans who have been anticipating the release of this first season DVD will no doubt enjoy owning all 20 episodes and the two specials on DVD. Definitely recommended for the young fans and also the young at heart!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Charge – The Complete Season

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2015

DURATION: EPISODES 1-20 + 2 Specials (8 Hours)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: February 7, 2017


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


Millions of years ago, an intergalactic bounty hunter named Sledge tried to capture the Energems – ten mysterious colored gems with incredible powers. Keeper, the guardian of the Energems, fled to Earth, where he entrusted the Energems to the dinosaurs for protection. After the dinosaurs went extinct, the Energems were lost. Now, Sledge is back, and it’s up to the Power Rangers Dino Charge to hunt down the missing Energems and defeat the vicious Sledge — once and for all!


In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television.

The 22nd season of the “Power Rangers” series, the series would star Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, and Claire Blackwelder.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Sledge continues to look for the Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems first and fight various enemies.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” features a total of 22 episodes, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – The Complete Season” DVD featuring all episodes including two specials will be available in a five-DVD collection.

Power Rangers Dino Charge consists of:

  • Dino Charge Red Ranger – Tyler Navarro (portrayed by Brennan Mejia) – The leader of the team and works as the chef at Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum’s restaurant, the Dino Bite Cafe. He commands the T-Rex Zord.  His father had gone missing when he was a child and Tyler hopes one day he can find him.
  • Dino Charge Pink Ranger – Shelby Watkins (portrayed by Camille Hyde) – A waitress at the Dino Bite Cafe and knows a lot about Dinosaurs. She commands the Tricera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Blue Ranger – Koda (portrayed by Yoshi Sudarso) – A Cro-Magnon caveman who found the Blue Energem a hundred thousand years ago in a Stegosaurus fossil. He was unfrozen by Kendall and Chase and becomes the Dino Charge Blue Ranger. He works as a dishwasher for Dino Bite Cafe and Amber Beach Museum digger. He commands the Stego Zord.
  • Dino Charge Green Ranger – Riley Griffin (portrayed by Michael Taber) – Works as an intern at the Amber Beach Museum and as a waiter at Dino Bite Cafe. He is calm and very intelligent. He commands the Raptor Zord.
  • Dino Charge Black Ranger – Chase Randall (portrayed by James Davies) – The flirtatious and laid-back member who likes to ride a skateboard. Works as a janitor at Amber Beach museum and is an expert paleontology digger. He commands the Para Zord.
  • Dino Charge Gold Ranger – Sir Ivan of Zandar (portrayed by Davi Santos) – A Mideival knight who served the royal family of Zandar 800 years ago. He commands the Ptera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Graphite Ranger – Prince Phillip III (portrayed by Jarred Blakiston) – The wealthy crown prince of Zandar and descendent of Prince Colin. He is helpful and cares about the environment and wants to become a Power Ranger. He commands the Pachy Zord.
  • Kendall Morgan (portrayed by Claire Blackwelder) – A 26-year-old scientist who manages the Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum and heads the paleontology digging group.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – The Complete Season”:

  • Episode 1 – “Powers from the Past – The Keeper finds Tyler Navarro and Shelby Watkins and recruits them to find the red and pink energems.  But a monster known as Iceage is looking for them as well.
  • Episode 2 – “Past, Present and Fusion” – The group must summon the T-Rex Zord to fight against Iceage.
  • Episode 3 – “A Fool’s Hour” – Sledge comes to Earth and confronts the Keeper and the Power Rangers.
  • Episode 4 – “Return of the Caveman” – Chase, Koda and a young boy named Peter are trapped in a cave by Slammer.
  • Episode 5 – “Breaking Black” – Chase falls under the spell of Spellbinder.
  • Episode 6 – “The tooth Hurts!” – Riley thinks Chase doesn’t take the threat of Cavity seriously.
  • Episode 7 – “Let Sleeping Zords Lie” – Sledge sends Akylo Zord to go against the Power Rangers.  But can Shelby’s knowledge of advanced dinosaurs help the Power Rangers?
  • Episode 8 – “Double Ranger, Double Danger” – Clone Rangers are created.  Meanwhile Fury learns the location of the Ptera Zord.
  • Episode 9 – “When Logic Falls” – Puzzler teams up with Fury and captures the Dino Charge Rangers.  Can Riley save them?
  • Episode 10 – “The Royal Rangers” – Fury tries to take control of the Ptera Zord.
  • Episode 11 – “Breakout” – Prince Phillip III is attacked by Poisandra, Fury, Wrench, Curio and Vivix but discover a new ally.
  • Episode 12 – “Knight After Knights” – With the discovery of the Gold Ranger, Fury sends out the criminal Bones of Fury to take on the Power Rangers.
  • Episode 13 – “Sync or Swim” – One of Sledge’s monsters has planted a bomb and Ivan and Tyler must drop their rivalry to work together and stop the bomb.
  • Episode 14 – “True Black” – A monster has left Shelby, Tyler and Ivan buried, Chase must save the day!
  • Episode 15 – “Rise of a Ranger” – What happens when Prince Philip finds a Graphite Energem?
  • Episode 16 – “No Matter How You Slice It” – A Monster has broke the Power Rangers bond of friendship, can Riley and Koda work together?
  • Episode 17 – “World Famous (in New Zealand)” – The Power Rangers come in contact with a Purple Ranger.
  • Episode 18 – “Deep Down Under” – Sledge is after the Plesio Zord…the Rangers must find it first!
  • Episode 19 – “Wishing for a Hero” – Kendall and the Rangers must find one who can bond with the Purple Energem.
  • Episode 20 – “One More Energem” – Sledge has two Energems and the Rangers and Kendall must find a way to defeat him.
  • HALLOWEEN SPECIAL – “The Ghostest with the Mostest” – A Monster has kidnapped the Rangers and takes on their appearance during a Halloween Party.  Kendall must discover which members are real and which are fake.
  • Christmas Special – “Race to Rescue Christmas” – Poisandra steals Santa’s tablet and the Rangers must get it back to save Christmas.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – The Complete Season” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – The Complete Season” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – The Complete Season” comes with a slip cover.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge” is rather interesting because of the dinosaur angle.

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince. Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action. As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

With this latest release, you get all 20 episodes + the two Halloween and Christmas specials.

From the early episodes of introducing the characters and stories that revolve around each of them and learning an important lesson.  There are also episodes that revolve around who can be the Purple Ranger.  And trying to stop Sledge, who has managed to get two Energems.  You get episodes that deal with the introduction of the gold power ranger and whether or not the team will gain a new teammate.

Episode which focuses on the team having to work together despite whatever odds or differences they may have.  And with Halloween around the corner, the Halloween special “The Ghostest with the Mostest”.  The Christmas special which features scenes from past episodes, but most importantly, the Power Rangers trying to save Christmas by retrieving Santa’s stolen tablet.

The later episodes features Sir Ivan of Zandar now part of the team as the Power Rangers Dino Charge Gold Ranger.

As for the DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features.

Overall, for “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” fans who have been anticipating the release of this first season DVD will no doubt enjoy owning all 20 episodes and the two specials on  DVD.  Definitely recommended for the young fans and also the young at heart!

 

Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge vol. 1 – Roar (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with ten action-packed episodes.  If you love the first season of “Power Rangers Dino Charge”, definitely check out this second season on DVD!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge vol. 1 – Roar

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-10 [Episodes 23-32] (2 Hrs. and 12 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: January 10, 2017


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


The Power Rangers continue their search for the Energems after Sledge’s defeat, but soon learn that his most dangerous prisoner, the evil Heckyl, survived! In light of this new threat, Kendall creates a powerful new Dino Charger that unlocks the Red Ranger’s T-Rex Super Charge mode! It will take every Zord, Megazord, and Dino Charger in the Power Rangers’ arsenal to finally unite all ten Energems and save the universe!


The second season of “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” begins as Heckyl and Snide resume leadership after Sledge’s defeat.  And now the two are after the final two Energems.  Can the Power Rangers find the remaining Energems before Heckyl and Snide?  Also, who is the Aqua Ranger?  And Silver Ranger?  And new enemies….Singe and Fury?

All this and more for “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar”!  Featuring the first ten episodes of the second season!

What is “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” about?

In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television.  And as usual with Power Rangers series, a second season follows and in January 2016, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” made its debut.

The 23rd season of the “Power Rangers” series continues with the same actors as season one: Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, Claire Blackwelder and Davi Santos.

And new antagonists with Heckyl and Snide.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Heckyl and Snide continues to look for the remaining two Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems before their enemies can and prepare themselves for the battle ahead.

Power Rangers Dino Charge consists of:

  • Dino Charge Red Ranger – Tyler Navarro (portrayed by Brennan Mejia) – The leader of the team and works as the chef at Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum’s restaurant, the Dino Bite Cafe. He commands the T-Rex Zord.  His father had gone missing when he was a child and Tyler hopes one day he can find him.
  • Dino Charge Pink Ranger – Shelby Watkins (portrayed by Camille Hyde) – A waitress at the Dino Bite Cafe and knows a lot about Dinosaurs. She commands the Tricera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Blue Ranger – Koda (portrayed by Yoshi Sudarso) – A Cro-Magnon caveman who found the Blue Energem a hundred thousand years ago in a Stegosaurus fossil. He was unfrozen by Kendall and Chase and becomes the Dino Charge Blue Ranger. He works as a dishwasher for Dino Bite Cafe and Amber Beach Museum digger. He commands the Stego Zord.
  • Dino Charge Green Ranger – Riley Griffin (portrayed by Michael Taber) – Works as an intern at the Amber Beach Museum and as a waiter at Dino Bite Cafe. He is calm and very intelligent. He commands the Raptor Zord.
  • Dino Charge Black Ranger – Chase Randall (portrayed by James Davies) – The flirtatious and laid-back member who likes to ride a skateboard. Works as a janitor at Amber Beach museum and is an expert paleontology digger. He commands the Para Zord.
  • Dino Charge Gold Ranger – Sir Ivan of Zandar (portrayed by Davi Santos) – A Mideival knight who served the royal family of Zandar 800 years ago. He commands the Ptera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Graphite Ranger – Prince Phillip III (portrayed by Jarred Blakiston) – The wealthy crown prince of Zandar and descendent of Prince Colin. He is helpful and cares about the environment and wants to become a Power Ranger. He commands the Pachy Zord.
  • Kendall Morgan (portrayed by Claire Blackwelder) – A 26-year-old scientist who manages the Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum and heads the paleontology digging group.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” featured a total of 22 episodes, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” features the first ten episodes of season two which consists of 20 episodes + two specials.

And this time around, Lions Gate is now releasing ten episodes instead of the usual five with this DVD release.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Roar”:

  • Episode 23 – “When Evil Stirs” – For the Power Rangers, a new enemy emerges.
  • Episode 24 – “Forgive and Forget” – Heckyl launches a new plan to find the Power Rangers base, meanwhile Riley has a new rival at school.
  • Episode 25 – “Nightmare in Amber Beach” – Shelby’s father pressures her to get great grades, so she can take over Watkins Ice Cream.  Meanwhile, they must confront Nightmare, a monster which causes the Power Rangers to fall asleep.
  • Episode 26 – “A Date with Danger” – A new enemy named Singe appears, meanwhile Chase and his girlfriend Kaylee breakup, as she has fallen for his Power Rangers persona, Black Ranger.
  • Episode 27 – “Roar of the Red Ranger” – Tyler takes the Rangers to the campsite that he and his father visited, the last area where he has seen his father.  But as monsters attack Tyler, out of nowhere, the Aqua Ranger has appeared.
  • Episode 28 – “Forged Under Fire” – What happens when Singe has a new plan to defeat the Rangers with power-disabling rings?
  • Episode 29 – “Home Run Koda” – Kendall creates a new Dino Charger, meanwhile Koda becomes a baseball star and Riley manages him.  But will Riley’s passion to become a champ overshadow his commitment as a Power Ranger?
  • Episode 30 – “Riches and Rags” – When Ivan accidentally destroys a thousand-year old suit of armor, thinking it’s a training dummy, the museum is now in debt of two million dollars and the museum may be closed.  How will the Rangers save the museum?
  • Episode 31 – “Besties 4Eva” – Shelby’s best friend Erin always takes credit for Erin’s accomplishments.  But now, Erin is proclaiming herself as the Pink Ranger.
  • Episode 32 – “Gone Fishin'” – The Rangers receive a message from the Silver Ranger, but Fury destroys it before they can receive it.  Meanwhile Riley and brother Matt go fishing.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” comes with a slip cover.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Roar” is probably a DVD release that I’m quite happy that Lions Gate has made the decision to go with a ten-episode release, versus the standard five episodes.

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince. Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action. As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

As for this DVD volume, it’s pretty much the first ten episodes of season two and feature stories revolving around each character.  From Tyler’s search for his missing father, Shelby having to deal with her best friend who is now proclaiming herself as the Pink Ranger, Koda dealing with his fears of ice and also becoming a baseball player, Riley’s competitive attitude coming to fruition as he has a school rival and also managing Koda during the baseball episode, Chase breaking up with his girlfriend and getting jealous as she has fallen for his Black Ranger persona and Sir Ivan accidentally destroying a historic outfit  that now may force the museum to close down.

The latest season also features four new enemies that the Power Rangers must take on, but it also features the debut of the Aqua Ranger and also a glimpse of the Silver Ranger.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features. Unfortunately, unlike previous DVD releases, there is no digital HD code included.

Overall, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with ten action-packed episodes.  If you love the first season of “Power Rangers Dino Charge”, definitely check out this second season on DVD!

 

Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Yinxi Song’s “Amnesia” will entertain those wanting a popcorn action film.  But having reviewed martial arts action films for over 20-years, “Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia” is no doubt one of the most inconsistent, badly written martial arts action film that I have ever watched.

Image courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 102 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen 2:35:1 aspect ratio, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: PG-13

Release Date: January 3, 2017


Directed by Yinxi Song

Written by Xiaoshuai Hu and Yinxi Song

Produced by Yinxi Song, Zhang Shijia

Executive Producer: Jackie Chan, Jianguo Xu, Yinxi Song

Music by Varqa Buehrer, Tiannan Cai, Huazhang Dai, Zhao Zhao


Starring:

Wang Haixiang (Ocean) as Li Ziwei

Ken Lo

Xingtong Yao as Tong Xin

Ronguang Yu

Lanxin Zhang


Martial-arts legend Jackie Chan presents this pulse-pounding update to his own classic thriller.


In 1998, Jackie Chan co-directed (with Bennie Chan) and starred in the film “Who Am I?” which featured Chan playing an agent who suffers from short-term memory loss and travels the world.

Fast forward 17-years later and Jackie Chan is the executive producer of “Amnesia”, a vehicle to promote his protege and friends in a film that is not a remake or reboot of “Who Am I?”.  And what better to launch their careers than attach a legends name to the project and get people excited of what may be a remake, reboot or update of his 1998 film.

With “Amnesia”, while the film does have Jackie Chan’s name attached to it as an Executive Producer, what we have is an action film co-written and directed by Yinxi Song and a vehicle for new actor Ocean Wang.

And now the film is available on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

“Amnesia” begins with bike courier (but also street racer and also one who likes to take part in parkour) Li Ziwei (portrayed by Ocean Wang) delivering a package.

Unfortunately, he notices something awry and realizes that the two people he meets are involved in a murder scene and want the package that Li Ziwei is delivering.

But during the pursuit, while Ziwei manages to escape, he hits his head on the bridge and tumbles and falls into a river.

Now Li Ziwei is suffering from prosopagnosia, a cognitive disorder known as “face blindness” in which one can’t recognize faces including one’s own due to damage to the brain.

As Li Ziwei awakes from being hospitalized, he doesn’t know where he is or his surroundings abut receives a mysterious phone call about his condition and that he must try to protect the package that he has in his position.  He is also reminded of his car racing skills, his parkour and martial arts skills but also the death of his girlfriend.  But also that he is now a wanted man as the death (of the person who was supposed to receive the package) has been attributed to him and now he is a wanted man.

Meanwhile, the murderers who are after the package have discovered Li Ziwei’s identity and are now after him.

As Li Ziwei tries to avoid being captured by the murderers, he is joined by a sassy hitchiker named Tong Xin (portrayed by Xingtong Yao) and he tries to find out why people want the package but also to clear his name.


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Amnesia” is presented in 16:9 anamorphic (2:35:1 aspect ratio) and Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD. The film is primarily dialogue driven. Dialogue and music is crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Amnesia” comes with no special features.


Quite often in sports, you often see in sports news discussing who will be the next legend.

And for martial arts films, there is always discussion of who will be the next Jackie Chan, Jet Li, etc.

And while the last 15-years have gave us a glimpse of who may be the next action star, but a lot of them have not become action stars but just film stars.

And when it comes to action films, one way of getting attention is by attaching your name to a project and for martial arts legendary actor Jackie Chan, attaching your name to a film with a title that may make people think it’s an update, remake or reboot of a past film will surely receive hype.

In 2015, Yinxi Song wrote and directed “Amnesia” and as the film would be his introduction as writer and director, young actor Ocean Wang would get a chance to show that he can be the next martial arts star.

Unfortunately, “Amnesia” is a film that would have benefited if there was no relation to Jackie Chan’s 1998 film “Who Am I?” but when it comes to financing a martial arts film, you need all the help you can get it and what best than to utilize Jackie Chan’s name to make an action film.

The problem is, “Amnesia” has nothing to do with actual amnesia like the 1998 film and while an entertaining martial arts popcorn action film, the film’s plot is quite weak.

The film reminds me of a martial arts version of David Koepp’s 2012 action-thriller, “Premium Rush”.  A film about a bicycle messenger who is delivering a package and now is wanted and pursued by a corrupt police officer.

“Amnesia” revolves around a bike courier being pursued by a triad with two murderers who are after a package that the courier, Li Ziwei, has in his possession.

But when the bike courier has brain damage due to hitting his head on a bridge, he now suffers from prospagnosia and is unable to recognize any faces, including his own.

All he knows is through a mysterious call, traces of his past, fragments of memories and is now joined by a sassy hitchhiker that he picks up and realizes there are people out to kill him and police think he’s a criminal.

All Li Ziwei can do is run and fight.

And of course, no matter how far he travels to escape the gang, they always know where he is headed.

While if the film focused on action, it’s muddled due to his fragmented memories of a girlfriend that has died. And he starts thinking the girl he picked up is his girlfriend and she tends to go along with it as she starts to have feelings for him.

The problem with the film is that it tries to teeter with two stories of a man who is wanted and a man who can’t escape the guilt of the past and his girlfriend that died.

To make things worse, we are given an ending that cheats viewers out of any true ending and felt it was put together in haste and that the hour that one has been watching, has been thrown out of the window by giving a finale that really seems it came from another script.

To put it simply, this is one of the worse screenplays that I have seen when it comes to continuity.  How the film is resolved was poorly done and how the film deals with the two murderers that we see pursuing Li Ziwei throughout the film is really stupid.  If they wanted to make up for this monstrosity of a script, they could have explained it with Li Ziwei waking up from his coma or sleep and saying “that was a weird dream”.

The film looks and sounds as good as it can get on DVD and it’s a barebones release, so there are no special features.

Again, just because Jackie Chan’s name is on the title and he is the executive producer should not come into watching this film and expecting a Jackie Chan martial arts film.  Nor does it have anything to do with his 1998 film “Who Am I?”.

Overall, Yinxi Song’s “Amnesia” will entertain those wanting a popcorn action film.  But having reviewed martial arts action films for over 20-years, “Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia” is no doubt one of the most inconsistent, badly written martial arts action film that I have ever watched.

 

Streets of Compton (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Streets of Compton” is a well-produced, well-researched and wonderfully edited documentary about how the crime-infested streets of Compton became that way and despite decades of violence and economic hardship, there is always hope as many talents and athletes raised in the streets of Compton aspired to make something of themselves and make a difference.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Streets of Compton

TV SERIES (YEAR): 20165

DURATION: 135 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: December 13, 2016


Directed by Mark Ford

Produced by Wesley Jones

Executive Produced by Brad Abramson, Mark Ford, Kevin Lopez

Associate Producer: Leah Harari

Supervising Producer: Aaron Simard, Todd L. Williams

Story Producer: Jose Toscano

Cinematography by Mark Petersen

Edited by Timothy Kelley, Parris Patton, Jennifer Tiexiera


Starring:

The Game

Anthony Anderson

Paul Rodriguez

Lil’ Eazy-E

DJ Yella

Eazy-E

Niecy Nash

Dr. Dre

M.C. Ren

Lonzo Williams

Robert Lee Johnson

G.A. Taylor

Kendrick Lamar

Venus Williams

Serena Williams


In the same vein as STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, this series follows the rise of West Coast hip-hop and the making of music legends such as NWA and Dr. Dre. Featuring The Game and Lil Eazy-E.


With the success of the film “Straight Outta Compton”, filmmaker/producer Mark Ford (“Laguna Beach”, “Uprising: Hip Hop & the LA Riots”, “Behind the Music”) delved into the history of Compton, California and how it would become a city overrun by gangs and violence but also how talent would be born in the city.

A 135-minute special which aired on A&E, the first part of the series would show how Compton was one of the first Cauasian cities to be open to Latinos and then later, middle-class African Americans in 1948.  And how the city was divided in 1960’s, as Caucasians would live in the East and non-Whites would be on West, as many realtors tried to make sure no homes were sold to people of color on the East Side of Compton.  And the first gangs in Compton were Caucasian that would prevent Blacks from crossing over to the East Side.

And this would lead to a tipping point with African Americans fighting back against the inequality.

But when the Watts Riots happened in Los Angeles, many of the Caucasians left Compton and took their businesses with them.

This would leave to many African Americans to have no jobs or recreation and gangs would be organized.  And as the Crips from South LA would move to East Compton in the ’70s, this would lead to the founding of the West Side Piru, a gang who were against outsiders coming into Compton.  And would lead to violence between the gangs, especially as the Crips would control Compton High (blue) and the Pirus would control Centennial High (red) and violence would escalate back and forth between gangs from the two neighborhoods.

And while the violence would escalate between the Crips and the Bloods (Pirus), there would be talent born during the violent decade as Paul Rodriguez, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, The Game, tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and more.  But with police vs. gang battles escalating, the tensions between locals from Compton and the police would be featured in the music of rap group, N.W.A.

Featuring many interviews from talents, politicians, police and gang members, “Streets of Compton” is a documentary that would go into the history and the present of Compton, California.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Streets of Compton” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect from a documentary, you are going to have different sources of footage with differing quality.  But for the most part, the documentary looks great during the modern interviews and the older source footage is not bad at all.

Subtitles are in English SDH

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Streets of Compton” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Streets of Compton” comes with a slipcover.


For those who grew up listening to N.W.A., Eazy-E, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, watching comedian Paul Rodriguez or actor Anthony Anderson or watching tennis athletes Venus and Serena Williams, may or may not be familiar that these big names are from Compton, California.

Unfortunately, Compton is a city that scares people because of its endless media reports of people dying in the city due to gang violence.

The violence in Compton has been going on since the 1960’s, but for those wondering how Compton became overrun by gang violence and how this violence would change the lives of many people from Compton who would go on to be big names in the music, sports or TV/film industry.

But Compton was not always a violent place, unfortunately, the cities roots of racism and White on Black crime would eventually lead to African Americans fighting back for equality but instead of getting equality, the Caucasian locals would leave Compton and bring their businesses with them, leaving the city with hardly any place for employment and violence.

And with the White business and home owners moving out of the East Side, this would leave the city open to outsiders to move in and the gang battle between the Crips and Bloods (Piru) would become commonplace in media.

And would make people fear Compton, while others who grew up in the city, would strive to make something out of themselves despite the troubles of the environment they have grown up in.

For the most part, Director Mark Ford and crew have done a wonderful job of discovering and putting together video footage and photos of Compton and its locals since the 1940’s and also getting interviews needed to substantiate the climate of Compton in the 1960’s to the present time but also the dangers and how they were able to survive in the city and showing that despite the troubles, the tragedies and other negatives connected to the city, there is hope and many entertainment and sport talents have emerged from Compton, stronger than ever and made the best from their situation.

As for the DVD, documentary is great but because it’s a documentary featuring so much sourced footage from several decades, as one can expect, picture quality will vary, but dialogue and music are crystal clear.  Unfortunately, there are no special features included.

Overall, “Streets of Compton” is a well-produced, well-researched and wonderfully edited documentary about how the crime-infested streets of Compton became that way and despite decades of violence and economic hardship, there is always hope as many talents and athletes raised in the streets of Compton aspired to make something of themselves and make a difference.  Recommended!

 

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

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four

DURATION: Episodes 493-504 (Duration: 320 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: November 8, 2016


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

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


A glimpse of the past, how Luffy and Ace met!

The battle at Marineford has come to a close, but the story of Luffy and Ace’s past has yet to be told! As a boy of only seven, Luffy is reluctantly taken in by the Dadan family of mountain bandits at his grandfather’s request. After many failed attempts, he finally befriends Dadan’s other charge, the moody and reckless Ace. Together with their friend Sabo, the boys loot the junkyard known as the Gray Terminal and battle mighty beasts of the forest.

 Dreaming of becoming pirates, the three form inseparable bonds of brotherhood. But the impending arrival of a Celestial Dragon throws the kingdom into a frenzy as they try to hide the garbage that has shamed their noble city. Playtime is over when Sabo’s family takes their son away and a sinister plan to destroy the Gray Terminal unfolds.


In the last volume of “One Piece”, we witnessed the tragic death of Ace.  As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” features on how Luffy and Ace met and how he, Ace and Ace’s friend Sabo would grow up together as children with dreams of becoming pirates.  But how tragedy would eventually lead them to train harder.

As Luffy remembers the past, he knows that he must train harder, become stronger and making a tough decision.

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 18th season and a total of 767 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” (Episodes 493-504), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

NOTE: Episode 492 featuring Luffy teaming up with Toriko is not included for the North American DVD release.

“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 Eight, Voyage Four” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 495 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Jessica Cavanagh (voice of Curly Dadan) and Newton Pittman (voice of Magra).

DISC 2:

  • Episode 503 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris Burnett and Morgan Garrett.
  • Inside Look: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World – (14:41) Funimation staff discuss Ace’s death and why it was a tragic story that affected viewers worldwide.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 493-504) as this volume features another heartbreaking story but one that gives people a breather from the shocking and tragic death of Ace but now going back in the past to show how Luffy and Ace have a special bond, but also how there was another character which Luffy and Ace considered as brothers.

With episodes 493-504, as Luffy mourns the death of Ace, we get to watch flashback episodes when he and Ace were young and how Ace was really bad towards Luffy but eventually they became brothers, along with another person named Sabo.

The three made a decision to become pirates and trained hard to become stronger.  But most importantly, to show how Ace was an important figure in Luffy’s life and how Luffy really had no one but Ace and Sabo.  But the three get in trouble and are captured by the pirate, Bluejam.

While the last DVD volume was truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster, we learn that both Ace and Luffy had also faced a major heartbreaking tragedy that would set them on a new path to become stronger and achieve their goals to become pirates.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume does showcase Luffy and Ace as children but it’s still action-packed, full of humor but also tragedy, so prepare yourself for another sad tragic demise of a character.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

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 FUNimation staff discussing the death of a major character.

Unfortunately, episode 492 is not included on this DVD as it’s a collaboration episode between Luffy and Toriko (of the “Toriko” anime series). And possibly due to licensing issues, this episode was not included in this volume.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

 

Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty Double Feature (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

November 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Both History/A&E mini-series were entertaining, informative but also exciting!  Definitely one of the best re-enactments and historical mini-series to be featured by History, “Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty” Double Feature on DVD is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty Double Feature

AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Texas Rising: 7 Hrs., 30 Minutes; Sons of Liberty: 270 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Texas Rising: 2:40:1 Widescreen Presentation, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish; Sons of Liberty: 1:78:1 Widescreen Presentation, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate/History/A&E Networks

RATED: N/A

Release Date: November 22, 2016


Texas Rising

Directed by Roland Joffe

Written by Darrell Fetty, Leslie Greif, George Nihil

Produced by Herb Nanas, Joanne Rubino

Co-Producer: David Marion Wilkinson

Executive Producers: Leslie Greif, Adam Reed

Co-Executive Producer: Barry M. Berg

Supervising Producer: Jose Ludlow

Music by Bruce Broughton, John Debney

Cinematographer: Arthur Reinhart

Edited by Don Cassidy

Casting by Fern Champion

Production Design by Salvador Parra

Art Direction by Francisco Blanc, Chris Gallipoli, Nicolas Scabini

Costume Design by Karri Hutchinson, Michele Michel

Sons of Liberty

Directed by Kari Skogland

Written by Stephen David, Kirk Ellis, Zachary Herrman, Jordan Rosenblum, Kari Skogland, David C. White

Produced by Peter Feldman, Mitch Engel, Mathew Stillman

Executive Producer: Stephen David, Elaine Frontain Bryant, Matthew Gross, Dirk Hoogstra, Russell McCarroll

Co-Executive Producer: Tim W. Kelly, Kari Skogland

Associate Producer: Brandy Crawford, Jeff Robinson

Associate Producer: Brandy Crawford

Music by Lorne Balfe

Cinematography by George Steel

Edited by Sean Albertson, Paul Trejo, Jonathan Soule

Casting by Laura Grosu, Amy Hubbard, Avy Kaufman

Production Design by Rob Gray

Art Direction by Vraciu Eduard Daniel, Servan Porupca, Vlad Roseanu

Set Decoration by Andreea Hillerin, James Wilcock

Series Costume Design by Donna Zakowska


Texas Rising

Starring:

Bill Paxton as Sam Houston

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as “Deaf” Smith

Olivier Martinez as Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

Thomas Jane as James Wykoff

Crispin Glover as Mosley Baker

Jeremy Davies as Ephraim Knowles

Rhys Coiro as Vern Elwood

Christopher McDonald as Henry Karnes

Max Thieriot as Jack Hays

Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Emily West

Robert Knepper as Empresario Buckley

Chad Michael Murray as Mirabeau Lamar

Jeff Fahey as Thomas Rusk

Sarah Jones as Pauline Wykoff

Joe Egender as Beans Wilkins

Robert Baker as Big Foot Wallace

Stephen Monroe Taylor as Gator Davis

Trevor Donovan as Kit Acklin

Rob Morrow as Colonel James Fannin

Kris Kristofferson as Andrew Jackson

Brendan Fraser as Billy Anderson

Ray Liotta as Lorca

Gerardo Taracena as Manuel Flores

Raul Mendez as Juan Seguin

Jacob Lofland as Colby Pit

Antonio de la Vega as Almonte

Darrel Fetty as Doc Ewing

Sons of Liberty

Starring:

Ben Barnes as Sam Adams

Marton Csokas as General Thomas Gage

Ryan Eggold as Joseph Warren

Henry Thomas as John Adams

Michael Raymond-James as Paul Revere

Rafe Spall as John Hancock

Jason O’Mara as George Washington

Dean Norris as Ben Franklin

Shane Taylor as Thomas Preston

Emily Berrington as Margaret Kemble Gage

Kevin Ryan as John Pitcairn

Diarmaid Murtagh as Tim Kelly

Darren Connolly as Seargeant Urquhart


HISTORY(R) brings to life the true story of how the people of Texas fought for freedom against the mighty Mexican military that had overtaken the Alamo. The legendary Texas Rangers assembled for the first time against General Santa Anna’s massive military might. United under the leadership of Sam Houston (Paxton) and with the help of his ragtag army, they passionately battled for life and country and the Lone Star State.

Anarchy rules in 1776 as a secret group of radical young Americans join together in the fight for independence from the sovereign roll of a king and his empire. They test authority. They incite protest. They create the blueprint for modern democracy… as they Sons of Liberty.


In 2015, HISTORY/A&E released two thrilling mini-series, “Texas Rising” and “Sons of Liberty”.  And now, both will be released on DVD as a double feature!

“Texas Rising” is a 10-hour television mini-series based on the Texas Revolution against Mexico and a backstory of how the Texas Rangers were created.

Directed by Roland Joffe (“The Killing Fields”, “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Mission”), the miniseries was co-written by Darrell Fetty, Leslie Greif and George Nehil.

The series would feature an all-star cast which would include Bill Paxton (“Titanic”, “Apollo 13”, “Edge of Tomorrow”), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Watchmen”, “The Losers”, “The Possession”), Olivier Martinez (“Unfaithful”, “S.W.A.T.”, “Taking Lives”), Thomas Jane (“The Mist”, “Deep Blue Sea”, “Dreamcatcher”), Crispin Glover (“Back to the Future”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Charlie’s Angels”), Jeremy Davies (“Saving PRivate Ryan”, “Lost”, “Secretary”), Christopher MacDonald (“Happy Gilmore, “Thelma & Louise”, “Harry’s Law”), Max Thieriot (“Jumper”, “Bates Motel”, “The Pacifier”), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (“The Accountant”, “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, “Colombiana”) and many more.

After the defeat and executions of those defending The Alamo on March 7, 1836 by Mexico’s Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (portrayed by Olivier Martinez) and his soldiers, having executed all men, Santa Anna allows a few of the women to survive: Emily D. West (portrayed by Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and Susana Dickinson (portrayed by Alixandra von Renner).

At the outpost in Texas, Sam Houston’s (portrayed by Bill Paxton) men grow weary that they do not go to the Alamo to fight against the Mexican army, but hearing the grave news, he decides to keep his soldiers in Texas and not fight just yet, which many of the men start to resent Houston as they want revenge.

As a few soldiers go to check on the Alamo, they discover a few Mexican soldiers being pursued by Karankawa Indians and the soldiers go to rescue the women from both the Mexican Army and the Indians.  When they bring the women back to camp, the women reveal what happened at the Alamo and why they were the only survivors.

Because Houston feels his army is still limited and not ready to fight against Santa Anna’s army, and abandon their stronghold in Goliad and join forces with others in Victoria.  But Colonel Fannin and his men refuse to listen and end up being ambushed by General Urrea and are all massacred by Colonel Po0rtilla’s soldiers.

When will Sam Houston allow his restless men to fight against Santa Anna’s army?

Meanwhile, Houston’s Texas Rangers which include hero “Deaf” Smith (portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan), half white/Indian Billy Anderson (portrayed by Brendan Fraser) and other men try to fight the Indians and rescue others in need.

“Sons of Liberty” is a three part miniseries about the start of the Revolutionary War, the negotiations of the Second Continental Congress in Boston, Massachusetts and the signing of the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The series follows people from the British Colonies and British America who shows their allegiance to Great Britain.  But others in the Colonies are not supportive of the British and with their resistance, the Sons of Liberty are created.

Directed by Kari Skogland (“White Lies”, “The Stone Angel”, “Fifty Dead Mean Walking”) and co-written by Stephen David, Kirk Ellis, Zachary Herrmann, Jordan Rosenblum, Kari Skogland and David C. White, the series would star Ben Barnes (“The Chronicles of Narnia” films, “Stardust”), Marton Csokas (“Lord of the Rings” films, “The Equalizer”), Ryan Eggold (“The Blacklist”, “90210”, “Bloom”), Henry Thomas (“E.T.”, “Gang of New York”, “Legends of the Fall”), Michael Raymond-James (“Jack Reacher”, “Black Snake Moan”, “The Finest Hours”), Rafe Spall (“Prometheus”, “Life of Pi”, “Shaun of the Dead”), Jason O’Mara (“Resident Evil: Extinction”, “One for the Money”), Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), Shane Taylor (“Band of Brothers”, “The Day of the Triffids”) and Emily Berrington (“The Inbetweeners 2”, “The Last Showing”).

The mini-series is a rough telling of the American revolutionary and focusing on Samuel Adams (portrayed by Ben Barnes), John Adams (portrayed by Henry Thomas), Benjamin Franklin (portrayed by Dean Norris), John Hancock (portrayed by Rafe Spall), Paul Revere (portrayed by Michael Raymond-James), George Washington (portrayed by Jason O’Mara) and British General Thomas Gage (portrayed by Marton Csokas).

The series begins in 1765 and showing how the colonies are living under British oppression.  As local gangs fight in Boston and Samuel Adams, a tax collector and pub owner is not paying his own taxes, the Crown puts a warrant out for his arrest. But when a young boy is killed during an altercation between the British loyalists and the Colonists, the conflict is further escalated when the Redcoats begin massacring colonists.

As the Colonist fight back and destroy 600,000 pounds of tea in the Boston Harbor in 1773, King George sends General Thomas Gage to Boston to restore balance.  But the Colonists are unaware of how much a tyrant General Gage truly is and are forced to fight back.  But can the Colonists succeed?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Texas Rising” is presented in 2:40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and “Sons of Liberty” is presented in 1:78:1 widescreen presentation and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio.

The film is presented in DVD format but for those who want the best picture quality, may want to seek out the Blu-ray release.  But on DVD, the picture quality is very good, as best as it can get on DVD.  Audio quality via its dialogue and sound effects (gunshots to explosions) are crystal clear through the front and surround channels.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Texas Rising” comes with the following special features (on the final disc of the mini-series):

  • Capturing the Revolution: Filming Texas Rising – (14:33) The making of “Texas Rising”.
  • Sam Houston: A Man of the Revolution – (13:57) A featurette on Sam Houston.  Actor Bill Paxton playing Sam Houston and how he is related to the real Sam Houston and more.
  • General Santa Anna: Leading Mexico – (12:19) A featurette about General Santa Anna.

“Sons of Liberty” comes with the following special features (on the final disc of the mini-series):

  • Lensing Liberty – (9:36) A featurette on the making of “Sons of Liberty” and how to incorporate many people and scenes.
  • Choreography of War – (9:08) A featurette on creating the battle scenes and special effects for “Sons of Liberty”.
  • Men of Independence – (16:31) A featurette on the historical figures featured on “Sons of Liberty”.

Having been a fan of History Channel re-enactments, in 2015, A&E/History Channel did a magnificent job in creating two mini-series from two different era’s in American history.

“Texas Rising” is possibly the most ambitious and most exciting miniseries from the network yet.  From a talented cast featuring a plethora of stars, the amount of different storylines featuring various characters running concurrently and everything from direction, writing, production and set design, costume design and of course, the acting lent to the success of the miniseries.

Epic in scale and so much featured in the various episodes of the miniseries, I was absolutely astonished by how well-done “Texas Rising” was created.

Featuring romance, tragedy, violence but also showing various perspectives from Sam Houston and his men, General Santa Anna and his soldiers and the many different characters and how their lives interwine among one another and capturing the despair but also the politics of that era.  It was a well-done miniseries!

“Sons of Liberty” is also a series featuring a lot of talent. Unlike “Texas Rising” which runs about 7 hours and 30 minutes, this series which focuses on Paul Revere, Sam Adams, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, George Washington and others, may run only 270 minutes but the writers did a wonderful job trying to tie everything together, although many scenes were inspired by the events of that time, it is not 100% historically accurate, as the writers aim were to incorporate a lot of these events into one.

But the storyline of the colonists under an oppressive British ruler and how the plans to create a nation separate from the British was actually quite fascinating to watch and there are characters and situations that I was not even aware about until I watched the series.

Similar to “Texas Rising”, the writing, the acting and production and costume design are well-done.  But could have probably have been better with several more episodes to build character dynamics and relationships than the few episodes featured.

As for the Blu-ray release, it’s important to emphasize that this release is only a DVD release but if you want the best picture quality, the Blu-ray release for both miniseries released in 2015 can still be found online.

Nevertheless, both History/A&E mini-series were entertaining, informative but also exciting!  Definitely one of the best re-enactments and historical mini-series to be featured by History, “Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty” Double Feature on DVD is recommended!

 

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