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East Side Sushi (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

eastsidesushi

“East Side Sushi” in some ways incorporates what I have seen in California, New York and other metropolitan cities. From its food culture of fusion foods, to people of multicultural backgrounds discovering another culture’s food and having the drive to learn to prepare it correctly but also breaking down barriers and people of different cultures understanding, learning from each other. A delightful and inspiring film…Anthony Lucero’s “East Side Sushi” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Blue Sun Pictures LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: East Side Sushi

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: 106 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Brief Violence, Suggestive Content and Mild Language)

AVAILABLE ON: May 3, 2016


Directed by Anthony Lucero

Written by Anthony Lucero

Executive Produced by Zheng Xu


Starring:

Diana Elizabeth Torres as Juana

Yutaka Takeuchi as Aki

Rodrigo Duarte Clark as Apa

Kaya Jade Aguirre as Lydia

Roji Oyama as Mr. Yoshida

Lane Nishikawa as Jimmy Nishida

Miyoko Sakatani as Mrs. Yoshida


Single mom Juana, can slice and dice anything with great speed and precision. After working at a fruit-vending cart for years, she decides to take a job at a local Japanese restaurant, which provides security and benefits. Intrigued by the food, she learns to make a multitude of sushi on her own, fusing it with her own culture. When she attempts to become a sushi chef, she is shut down since she is the ‘wrong’ race and gender. Against all odds, Juana embarks on a journey of self-discovery, determined to not let anyone stop her from achieving her dream.


View and download a “Tasty” video that shows the step-by-step way to create the Green Diablo Sushi Roll from EAST SIDE SUSHI


Watch an Exclusive Clip of how the talents prepared for their role on EAST SIDE SUSHI


Lucero may not be a well-known director or writer, but many people may be familiar with his visual effects works for other films.

Having worked on visual effects for films such as “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”, “The Avengers”, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2”, “Men In Black 2”, “Iron Man” to name a few, the visual effects veteran makes his directorial and screenplay debut for “East Side Sushi”.

An award-winning and nominated indie film at film festival across the United States, the film will be released on DVD Courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in May 2016.

The film stars Diana Elizabeth Torres (“Private Number”, “Inherent Vice”, “Morir de Pie), Yutaka Takeuchi (“Battleship”, “Letters fro Iwo Jima”), Rodrigo Duarte Clark, Roji Oyama, Lane Nishikawa, Miyoko Sakatani and more.

The film revolves around Juana (portrayed by Diana Elizabeth Torres).  She and her father Apa (portrayed by Rodrigo Duarte Clark) are trying to make ends meet.  Juana works at a fruit cart and a single mother for daughter Lydia (portrayed by Kaya Jade Aguirre) nearly is killed by robbers.

Finding a job at a local gym, Juana has experience working at Mexican restaurants and can cook but often, has not found a job that she really enjoys.

One day, while walking from her work, she passes by a Japanese sushi restaurant who is hiring help.  Juana decides to go for the interview and is hired to work in the back, washing dishes, carrying bags of rice and later cutting vegetables.

As she learns about Japanese food preparation, she learns about sushi from chef Aki (portrayed by Yutaka Takeuchi) and through her observation, she quickly learns how to prepare sushi, cutting the fish and Aki is surprised of how Juana is passionate about making Japanese food.

But Juana also wants to learn how to be a sushi chef but also find ways to create a fusion of Japanese and Mexican ingredients to make creations for her own family.

And as Juana works at the restaurant for more than a year and wants to get better and see herself grow at the restaurant, the owner of the restaurant, Mr. Yoshida is not so thrilled to see her staff that is to work in the back, trying to become a sushi chef.

Juana quickly learns that due to culture, women are not seen as chefs at sushi restaurant and learns that Mr. Yoshida wants to promote authenticity at his restaurant, wanting customers to know they are receiving quality food from those who are sushi chefs in Japan or were trained in Japan.

How will Juana prove herself that she can be a sushi chef?  Or can she?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“East Side Sushi” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD. But I wished this film was released on Blu-ray.   But overall picture quality and audio is very good.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“East Side Sushi” comes with the following special features:

  • Behind the Sushi – (13:04) A look behind-the-scenes on the making of “East Side Sushi” with excerpts of the auditions, training the actors on how to prepare the sushi but also the research done for the film.
  • Behind the Music – (4:51) Composer Alex Mandel discusses the music of the film.
  • Deleted Scenes – (4:07) Featuring two deleted scenes with commentary.

Anthony Lucero’s “East Side Sushi” brings up a topic that I know myself and other sushi enthusiasts have discussed many times.  Can people who are from other ethnicities other than Japanese become a sushi chef?

While I have traveled far to sample the best sushi all over Japan, I have also have traveled to even the smallest areas in California and have discovered Japanese restaurants in which the chefs were Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Mexican and of other ethnicities.

It has been intriguing to me and always a conversation starter among me and other friends who are passionate about sushi.

And what a fitting storyline which delves further into the topic on not just ethnicity but also a woman as a sushi chef, which you never see at a restaurant.

“East Side Sushi”, a story about a single mother named Juana who had worked at many La Taqueria and a family fruit stand (and fears the job after being beaten and robbed) but is needing a job to support her family including her father.

So Juana applies as a dishwasher for a sushi restaurant. And while working there, she learns about sushi, the Japanese approach to sushi and its ingredients and preparing them when the sushi chefs are busy. And as she becomes passionate about making sushi, she even tries to combine sushi with Mexican ingredients at home in order to feed her family and learn on how t make it.

But having learned from a Japanese chef, she now wants to become a sushi chef in the front, instead of being kept in the back room. And of course, the conundrum of a woman and a non-Japanese being a sushi chef, becomes the main issue in the film.

As the owner of the restaurant and even a few patrons want Japanese authenticity.

What’s interesting is that this is a topic that me and friends have discussed many times.

Would you eat at a sushi restaurant where sushi is not prepared by a Japanese chef or someone that was not trained in Japan?

This is a topic which sushi enthusiasts often talk about but in Juana’s case, she learned from a Japanese sushi chef and her intellect and observation of trying to mimic the best, has led her to strive to become a sushi chef and bettering herself in the process.  But also finding ways of creating culinary fusion by combining Japanese with Mexican ingredients.

“East Side Sushi” is a delightful film and a solid debut for writer/director Anthony Lucero, who is best known for working in visual effects for Hollywood’s top superhero and sci-fi action films.

And as an independent film, the performance by Diana Elizabeth Torres, Yutaka Takeuchi, Rodrigo Duarte Clark and Roji Oyama were well-done.  The cast members received sushi training courtesy of Andy Matsuda and his Sushi Chef Institute and while I’m not an erudite on the exact preparation, preparation of vinegar rice or the cutting of sushi, the actors did look convincing.

And even small moments involving chopsticks on top of the rice, made me groan.  So, it was interesting to see those little tidbits added to the film.

Last, I felt it was great for filmmaker Anthony Lucero to bring parts of East Oakland to the big screen. It also added a bit of authenticity of the different multicultural backgrounds in the city and also influence the two distinct cultures featured on screen, as we get to learn more about Juana’s family and also those working at the sushi restaurant.

Speaking of sushi restaurants, sushi enthusiasts in the East Bay will notice the scenes in the film are from sushi restaurants: Coach Sushi, b-dama and Mijori Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar.

Sure, the Iron Chef style ending does get a bit campy but for the most part, I found the film to be charming, enjoyable and a lot of fun to watch.

I also enjoyed the hint of romance between Juan and Chef Aki.  In California, I know many Japanese who have dated and married American men who are of different ethnicities, so I love the multicultural touch this incorporates and showing the appreciation of other cultures.

Overall, “East Side Sushi” in some ways incorporates what I have seen in California, New York and other metropolitan cities.  From its food culture of fusion foods, to people of multicultural backgrounds discovering another culture’s food and having the drive to learn to prepare it correctly but also breaking down barriers and people of different cultures understanding, learning from each other.

A delightful and inspiring film…Anthony Lucero’s “East Side Sushi” is recommended!

 

The Great Hypnotist (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

greathypnotist-a

“The Great Hypnotist” is a wonderful Chinese mystery-thriller that has you thinking one way, until the film pulls of major twists that will either surprise you or turn you off. It’s unexpected, but I felt the sudden twists in the storyline made this film much more enjoyable. “The Great Hypnotists” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Wanda Media Co. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Great Hypnotist

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: 102 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

AVAILABLE ON: April 5, 2016


Directed by Leste Chen

Written by Ren Peng

Executive Produced by Zheng Xu


Starring:

Zheng Xu as Xu Ruining

Karen Mok as Ren Xiaoyan/Gu Jie

Jing Hu as Chen Ting

Zhong Lu as Pro Fang

David Yao-Qing Wang as Luo Yusong


Xu Ruining (Xu Zheng), a nationally renowned therapist incredibly skilled in hypnotherapy. But when his career takes off, he meets a patient named Ren Xiaoyan (Karen Mok) who brings him a complex problem. Xu Ruining discovers that with this particular case, the struggle between the doctor and the patient is not as easy as he expected. Despite her thin and weak appearance, Ren Xiaoyan always reacts violently to any problems with Xu Ruining. He wonders what exactly makes her closed-off to everyone. Is it from a painful memory in her childhood or the ring mark still visible on her middle finger? While sparing no efforts to figure out what has happened, he finds himself falling into a horrible trap…


greathypnotist-c

From Leste Chen, the director of “The Heirloom” and “Eternal Summer” comes the 2014 Chinese mystery thriller, “The Great Hypnotist”.

Starring actor Zheng Xu (“Lost in Thailand”, “No Man’s Land”, “Lost in Hong Kong”) and actress Karen Mok (“Shaolin Soccer”, “Man of Tai Chi”, “Around the World in 80 Days”, “Fallen Angels”), “The Great Hypnotist” would earn over $44 million (US) at the Chinese Box Office and earned a total of $45.6 million (US) internationally.

And now, “The Great Hypnotist” will be released on DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

“The Great Hypnotist” begins with an introduction to Dr. Xu Ruining (portrayed by Zheng Xu), who psychiatrist who treats his patients through hypnotism.

His former Academic Professor, Professor Fang (portrayed by Zhong Lu) asks for his help with a patient named Ren Xiaoyan (portrayed by Karen Mok), a patient who has stumped many psychiatrists.

As a favor, Dr. Ruining takes on the patient.  As he meets Ren, he realizes that the things she talks about is not normal.  She claims that she can talk to dead people, which Dr. Ruining refuses to believe in and feels that perhaps she is a mental case.

Through hypnotism, he tries to find out why she thinks she can talk to ghosts, but Ren is just as defiant to ask why he doesn’t believe her.

But through his analysis of trying to treat Ren, he starts to find himself in unusual territory.  What if Ren is telling the truth?


greathypnotist-d

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Great Hypnotist” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good on DVD. But I wish this film was released on Blu-ray.  The film features good use of CG and visual effects, which work well for the film’s storyline.  Audio is crystal clear with action scenes utilizing the film’s rear surround channels effectively.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Great Hypnotist” comes with a theatrical trailer.


greathypnotist-b

A little mix of “The Sixth Sense”, in truth, what you are expecting to happen in this film, doesn’t happen because there is a significant twist that sends the film to a whole new direction.

Quite often that diverting path for a film can be scrutinized and may work against the film’s storyline, but for Leste Chen’s mystery thriller, it works very well!

The film revolves around the battle of different perspectives as Dr. Ruining is a man who proves everything by fact and there is a reason for a patient having certain afflictions.  But the character of Ren is adamant that she is not crazy and she can see dead people and tries to explain to Dr. Ruining of the experience she has had.

While similar to “The Sixth Sense”, because of the strict Chinese film bureau on supernatural themes onscreen, Chinese films can’t show horror like other countries.

But without spoiling the film, viewers are given two significant twists that literally cancels everything a viewer has watched for the first hour of the film and while one can see it as a bad thing, in the context of the film’s storyline, who the characters represent and why, I happen to find the storyline to be clever.

Also, I enjoyed the film for having this battle of perspectives between Dr. Ruining and Ren.  Actor Zheng Xu has no doubt become the popular actor to come from China, while Hong Kong singer/actress Karen Mok, who has won us over with many of her past films in the ’90s and 2000’s, returns in a wonderful role for her to showcase her emotion portrayal and a reminder of why she has won multiple awards in the past for her acting.

Both do a wonderful job working with each other, as the camera focuses on these two characters primarily.  But while most of the film is shot in Dr. Ruining’s office, there is a good use of editing and visual effects to dig into the psyche of a character and literally taking them to another world or alternate reality.

While I wish the film was released on Blu-ray instead of DVD, the DVD is as good as one can expect on DVD.  Picture quality is good, lossless audio showcase the more action-driven scenes through the rear surround channels.  And unfortunately, the DVD is barebones with no special features but a theatrical trailer.

Overall, “The Great Hypnotist” is a wonderful Chinese mystery-thriller that has you thinking one way, until the film pulls of major twists that will either surprise you or turn you off.  It’s unexpected, but I felt the sudden twists in the storyline made this film much more enjoyable.

“The Great Hypnotists” is recommended!

 

Stealing Cars (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

stealingcas

“Stealing Cars” is an average film with character situations that seem a bit too farfetched for its own good.  But it’s still an entertaining film to watch and pass the time.

© 2015 Cuckoo Luke LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Stealing Cars

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 101 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 1:85:1, English, French and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Spanish, Thai

RATED: R (Language Including Some Sexual References and Brief Drug Use)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: April 5, 2016


Directed by Bradley Kaplan

Written by Will Aldis, Steve Mackall

Produced by Dan Keston, Rachel Winter

Executive Produced: Russell Geyser, Erika Hampson, Stephen Levinson, Clay Percorin, Mark Wahlberg

Co-Executive Producer: Sean Lydiard

Music by Phil Mossman

Cinematographer: Martin Ahlgren

Edited by Jarrett Fijal, Sabine Hoffman, Adam Zuckerman

Casting by Venus Kanani, Meredith Tucker, Mary Vernieu, Christina Wright

Production Design by Paul Avery

Art Direction by Lisa Myers

Set Decoration by Jesika Farkas

Costume Design by Deirdra Elizabeth Govan


Starring:

Emory Cohen as Billy Wyatt

Heather Lind as Nurse Simms

William H. Macy as Philip Wyatt

Paul Sparks as Conrad Sean Lewis

John Leguizamo as Montgomery De La Cruz

Felicity Huffman as Kimberly Wyatt

Mike Epps as Sherif Till

Chance Kelly as Jimmy Carmichael

Paul Borghese as Guard Guarino

Jeff Lima as Carlos

Tariq Trotter as Lionel McWrothers

Al Calderon as Nathan Stein


Billy Wyatt (Emory Cohen) is a young man with tremendous promise, but a troubled past leads him to the Bernville Camp for Boys. Billy must navigate his way through dangerous inmates and a cruel and punishing staff, but during it all, he learns to inspire others and find out the truth about himself in the process. STEALING CARS is a compelling drama with powerful performances by Emory Cohen, John Leguizamo, Mike Epps and Academy Award nominees William H. Macy – Best Supporting Actor, FARGO, 1996 and Felicity Huffman – Best Actress, TRANSAMERICA, 2005.


The first film from filmmaker Bradley Kaplan and written by Will Aldis (“Avenging Agelo”, “Black Cadillac”) comes the American crime drama, “Stealing Cars”.

Executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, the film stars Emory Cohen (“Brooklyn”, “Afterschool”, “The Place Beyond the Pines”), Heather Lind (“Demolition”, “Turn”, “Guest House”, “A Single Shot”), William H. Macy (“Fargo”, “Jurassic Park III”, “Pleasantville”), Paul Sparks (“Mud”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “Synecdoche, New York”), John Leguizamo (“Moulin Rouge”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Romeo + Juliet”), Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”, “Transamerica”, “Sports Night”) and Mike Epps (“The Hangover” films, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, “Next Friday”).

“Stealing Cars” made its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2015 and now the film will be available on DVD in April 2016.

“Stealing Cars” revolves around Billy Wyatt (portrayed by Emory Cohen), a rebellious teenager who is highly intelligent but because of his troubles, he is sentenced to time at the Bernvillle Camp for Boys.

The camp is led by its cruel camp led by Montgomery De La Cruz (portrayed by John Leguizamo) and officers led by Conrad Sean Lewis (portrayed by Paul Sparks) who try to break down the kids, many who are dangerous inmates.

At first, many of the inmates see Billy as weird and unusual, but because of his rebellious nature, begins to win over various inmates by inspiring them.

Meanwhile, Emory befriends the often punished Nathan Stein (portrayed by Al Calderon) and falls for the camp’s nurse, Nurse Simms (portrayed by Heather Lind).

But as Billy tries to give hope to those in the camp, he starts to discover more about himself and the source of his troubles.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Stealing Cars” is presented in Anamorphic widescreen (1:85:1) and is presented in English, French and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1.

Picture quality looks and sounds good as can be expected on DVD. There are moments of good surround usage during a fight and an accident.  But for the most part picture, “Stealing Cars” features crystal clear dialogue and audio..

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Japanese, Thai and Korean.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Stealing Cars” comes with no special features.


“Stealing Cars” is a title that may imply that the film is about a young man serving time for vehicular theft.

But the film’s title is probably not the best description of this film as it is less about stealing cars and more about redemption and personal discovery.

Emory Cohen plays the protagonist, a rebellious teen named Billy Wyatt.  We are given pieces of his past which involves his father (portrayed by William H. Macy) and his sister enjoying family time together.

What we don’t know is what brought this highly intelligent teenager to the Bernville Camp for Boys.  It is quickly established that being the new guy at the camp, there are dangerous inmates but immediately, Billy shows his unusual side that irritates his fellow inmates, but also wins their respect because of his lack of bowing down to authority.

The camp which is headed by Leguizamo’s Montgomery De La Cruz runs a tight camp and the officers led by Conrad Sean Lewis (portrayed by Paul Sparks), tries to breakdown any inmate that shows any sign of weakness or disobedience.

Suffering in the camp is the often sick Nathan Stein (portrayed by Al Calderon), who is suffering, but yet the camp does nothing to help him and officers who are fed up with his sickness try to get Nathan punished.  But often to his rescue is Billy, who befriends Nathan and others at the camp.

As Billy falls for Nurse Simms (portrayed by Heather Lind) and is not happy to see his mother Kimberly (portrayed by Felicity Huffman), we start to see that something bad has happened to Billy and led him to a troublesome path.  And the cause is something he has buried deep in his head and never wanted to confront.

What crime has Billy committed and led him to the Bernville Camp for Boys?  And will he survive in the camp due to its cruel and punishing staff?

While the film is interesting and seeing bits and pieces of Billy’s past and how we start to see why he became a rebel, the film suffers from loose character connections and consistency.

As mentioned, the title of the film has nothing to do with the overall film.  The film is a drama about self-discovery but also how an intelligent and rebellious teen is able to survive punishment but also get along with his fellow inmates.

But after one escape from the heavily gated camp, it’s hard for me to believe that Billy can keep escaping from the camp and returning anytime he wants or when the Sheriff brings him back home.   Also, a potential relationship by a high school teenager and the camp’s nurse and a potential romantic scene feels out of place in the film.

Also discovering Billy’s past leaves a few questions to his criminal past and what caused a riff between him and his mother, is really never answered.  In fact, there are some plot situations that unfortunely, has no answers.

As for the DVD, “Stealing Cars” is a barebones DVD.  While picture quality and audio is what one can expect on DVD.  It’s a bummer that no special features are included.

Overall, “Stealing Cars” is an average film with character situations that seem a bit too farfetched for its own good.  But it’s still an entertaining film to watch and pass the time.

 

LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

droidtales

For the young or the young at heart, “LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales” is a wonderful and hilarious CG animated series for the entire family!


DVD TITLE: LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales

DURATION: (Five Episodes) 115 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TV Y7 FV

Release Date: March 1, 2016


Directed by Michael Hegner, Martin Skov

Written by Michael Price, Mick Kelly, Matty Smith

Original Music by John Williams

Executive Producers: Erik Wilstrup, Torsten Jacobsen, Michael Price

Producer: Irene Sparre

Produced by WIL FILM ApS


Featuring the voices of:

Tom Kane as Yoda/Narrator

Anthony Daniels as C-3P0

Matt Sloan as Darth Vader

Trevor Devall as Emperor Palpatine

Michael Daingerfield as Han Solo

Eric Bauza as Luke Skywalker

Heather Doerksen as Princess Leia

Michael Donovan as Count Dooku

Lee Tockar as Nute Gunray

Kirby Morrow as Anakin Skywalker

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian

Brian Drummond as Watto

Sam Vincent as Young Obi-Wan Kenobi

Adrian Holmes as Mace Windu

Montana Norberg as Padme Amidala

Colin Murdock as General Veers

Elysia Rotaru as Sabine Wren

Nicole Oliver as Hera Syndulla


The fun begins following the victory celebration in the Ewok village on Endor, at the end of STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI. R2-D2 and C-3PO have gathered to regale Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and the other Rebels with the tales of their adventures that led to the events of STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE. An accidental kidnapping occurs while the droids are reminiscing, and suddenly you’re taken on a new journey that leads to the retelling of the entire STAR WARS saga, as told by R2-D2 and C-3PO! It’s hilarious and playful, packed with all your favorite interlocking characters. LEGO(R) STAR WARS(TM): DROID TALES is intergalactic thrills for the whole family!


For those who have enjoyed the LEGO Star Wars games and the toys and are looking for a LEGO series that is lighthearted, plenty of humor and all-out fun, one will want to give “LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales” a chance.

Aired on Disney XD back in July 2015, this five-part mini-series is C-3P0’s tales of his perspective of the 30-years with R2-D2 and his previous adventures from the Clone Wars, working with the Ghost crew (of “Star Wars Rebels”) and working with others against the Galactic Empire.

And now, “LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales” will be released on DVD in March 2016!

Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode featured on the DVD:

  • Episode 1 – Exit from Endor – C-3P0 recalls his adventures during “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones”.
  • Episode 2 – Crisis on Coruscant – C-3P0’s tale continues of what transpired during “Revenge of the Sith”.
  • Episode 3 – Mission to Mos Eisley – C-3P0 meets a Twi’lek kid who collects Rebel Cards and tells his story of working with the Ghost rebel crew.
  • Episode 4 – Flight of the Falcon – C-3P0 recalls what took place during “The Empire Strikes Back” and he, Chewbacca and Nien Nunb went to search for R2-D2.
  • Episode 5 – The search for R2-D2 continues and C-3P0, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian are captured by General Veers.  C-3P0 tells the rogue stormtroopers his stories from “Return of the Jedi”.

 

 

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales” is presented in 1:78:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16×9 televisions. Dialogue is presented in English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and French 2.0 Dolby Digital. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.

While I would have loved to watch this series in HD, I will say that this series and its CG is fantastic. The LEGO series captures the toyline very well and I love the textures as the characters showcase their plastic sheen, as well as the actual LEGO parts. Voice acting is well-done and CG effects are also well done!

Colors are vibrant and for the most part, the series looks very good on DVD!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales” comes with a Disney Movie Rewards code and three “LEGO Star Wars: Droids Tales” Topps cards.


As an adult who has grown up with the LEGO Star Wars toys and video games and have watched my son over the years to grow to up to enjoy these games and also build the LEGO Star Wars sets, “LEGO Star Wars” has been a brand that has brought myself and my son together for family time.

And with the release of “LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales”, I found the series to be another LEGO animated series that appeals to people of all ages.

Who doesn’t love LEGO? Who doesn’t love “Star Wars”? And when you have the mixture of the two for the toys, the video games and a CG animated series, you know you’re going to have a lot of fun.

It’s important to note that LucasFilm gave LEGO to have fun and create their own stories within the “Star Wars” universe.

What I enjoyed the most of “Star Wars: Droid Tales” is that it covers the first six “Star Wars” films.  So, many characters from the Annakin/Padme storyline and the Luke/Leia/Han Solo/Chewbacca storyline are showcased.  And for those who enjoyed the “Star Wars Rebels” animated series, will enjoy the inclusion of one episode featuring those characters.

And the amount of humor involved poking fun on certain details from the films are absolutely hilarious!

If anything, I know I’m a bit biased towards “LEGO Star Wars” but I love the combination of “Star Wars” and “LEGO” and the humor, action and animation that goes along with a series such as “LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales”.

The CG is wonderful as characters retain their LEGO shiny plastic sheen, the environments are well-rendered and detailed and while not released on Blu-ray, the picture quality looks good on DVD. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English and Spanish, while French is in Dolby Digital 2.0) and dialogue, music and sound effects are crystal clear.

Unfortunately, there are no special features on this DVD.

Overall, for the young or the young at heart, “LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales” is a wonderful CG animated series featuring a lot of humor, action and adventure for the entire family!

Recommended!

 

The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar – (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

lionguard

 For those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this short animated television film on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son and his friends must protect the Pride Lands from the hyenas. For children and the young at heart, this Disney animated film is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar –

DURATION: 44 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TY V

Release Date: February 23, 2016


Directed by Howy Parkins

Written by Ford Riley

Produced by Ford Riley

Casting by Brian Mathias


Featuring the following voice talent:

Dee Bradley Baker as Hyenas

Jeff Bennett as Zazu

Dusan Brown as Beshte

Max Charles as Kion

Sarah Hyland as Tiifu

James Earl Jones as Mufasa

Andrew Kishino as Janja

Rob Lowe as Simba

Vargus Maon as Cheezi

Khary Payton as Rafiki

Madison Pettis as Zuri

Jonny Rees as Mzingo

Eden Riegel as Kiara


Meet Kion, second-born cub of Simba and Nala, as he assumes the role of leader of “The Lion Guard,” an elite team of animals tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. Follow him as he assembles a group of unlikely heroes: Bunga the honey badger, Fuli the cheetah, Beshte the hippo and Ono the egret. Join them on a thrilling adventure as they use their unique abilities to defend the Pride Lands from predators and maintain balance within the Circle of Life. Bursting with humor, music, beloved characters and heart, The Lion Guard: Return Of The Roar is a must-own for the entire family!


Disney has had many successes since Walt Disney created the popular animation studio back in 1923.

With the success of their live action films and their PIXAR 3D animated films, still to this day, “The Lion King”, the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics remains as the most successful animated film for the legendary company earning over $862 million in the box office (created with a budget of $45 million) and in terms of overall animation, it’s the fifth highest grossing animated film of all time and the #1 highest grossing film when it comes to hand-drawn animation.

The film earned two Academy awards plus a Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” and is the #4 animated film on the American Film Institute’s “10 Top 10” list.

“The Lion King” made its debut on Blu-ray (2-disc) courtesy of a Diamond Edition on Oct. 4, 2011, as well as a 3D Blu-ray (4-Disc) and also an 8-disc “The Lion King” trilogy box set which included both direct-to-video films “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” and “The Lion King 1 1/2”.

And here we are in 2016 with the DVD release of “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-“, the television animated film which aired on Disney Junior back in November 22, 2015.

The story continues with Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala.

As Kion and his good friend Bunga love to have fun and play a game of Baobab Ball.  While Simba is teaching Kiara about the life as a monarch, both Kion and Bunga interrupt and are told to play elsewhere.

The two end up playing in the Pride Lands but when they lose their ball in the Outlands, Bunga jumps down to retrieve it, despite Kion’s warnings.

Bunga ends up getting caught by Janja, the leader of the hyenas and his minions Cheezi and Chungu.  But when Kion releases a mighty roar (and a mark shows up on his left shoulder), the hyenas drop Bunga and run to safety.

As Kion and Bunga head back to Pride Rock, they can’t help but discuss how powerful Kion’s roar was.

Nala, Rafiki and Simba overhear the discussion and both Nala and Rafiki come with the conclusion that Kion will be the new leader of the Lion Guard (a group of lions that protect the Pride Lands from danger) because he is bestowed with the “Roar of the Elders”. But Simba is hesitant but decides to tell Kion the story of what happened to the previous Lion guard and how Scar once lead the Guard at one time.

Simba asks Kion to assemble the team of who will be the Lion Guard (which Simba meant lions, but instead Kion selects his friends).

Selected by Kion is Bunga (honey badger) the bravest, Beshte (hippopotamus) the strongest, Ono (egret) the keenest of sight and Fuli (cheetah) the fastest.  But spying on them is Mzing, the vulture who is friends of Janja.

After Janja is told about the new Lion Guard, Janja and the hyenas plan to take down the Lion Guard.

Can Kion’s Lion Guard protect the Pride Lands?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Each time I have watched a Disney animated classic, suffice to say, there are no disappointments. Each release has been spectacular when it comes to picture quality and while “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” was not released on Blu-ray, it still manages to retain the vibrant colors as the previous films.

And for a direct-to-video film, “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” looks very good in DVD.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), there is no doubt that fans of the film and children who loved “The Lion King” films will enjoy this DVD.

The animated film is presented in English 5.1 and French Dolby Digital.  Dialogue and music is clear and the action sequences sound very good via the surround channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” comes with a music video featuring Beau Black performing the single “Here Comes the Lion Guard”.

EXTRAS:

“The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” comes with a slipcover, Disney Movie Reward code and a special talking Kion backpack pull.


“The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” marks a sort of passing of the torch as Simba’s son Kion has demonstrated that he has the “Roar of the Elders” and will be the leader of The Lion Guard and protect the Pride Lands.

But instead of finding lions to form the group, Kion chooses his friends to protect the Pride Lands and now, a new group of hyenas led by Janja are determined to cause trouble and destroy The Lion Guard.

Featuring an odd grouping of animal characters which Kion has chosen to be the Lion Guard, the characters are humorous and fun to watch.   And at 44 minutes long, the animated film will no doubt entertain children and even the young at heart.

As the film, “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar” focuses on Kion (the second-born cub).

And while we get to see Simba, Nala and Rafiki once again, the film also shows a little of Kion’s older sister Kiara.  I have no doubt for some who followed the original film, I’m sure that fans of the older “The Lion King: Six New Adventures” books who will be shocked to find out that Kopa (who was Simba’s first son in the books) is not even mentioned or featured in “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar” (nor was he featured in “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride”).  So, with the release of these animated films, it looks like “Kopa” is an unofficial character that probably may never be featured in the animated series, so Kion will be recognized as Simba and Nala’s only son in the animated films.

With that being said, as “The Lion King 1 1/2” focused on Timon & Pumbaa and  “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” focused on Simba and Nala’s daughter Kiara, it’s good to see Kion getting his own story and also seeing The Lion Guard resurrected.

For the most part, it’s a short animated film with a good dose of humor and action.  And for those who enjoyed the original film and direct-to-video sequels and enjoyed the film when it debuted on Disney Junior, will no doubt enjoy this DVD release.

For parents who are curious if there are any dark situations that may scare young children, not really.  Compared to the original “Lion King” film in which Scar and his team of lions or even the creepy hyenas, the hyenas featured in “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar -” are just as young as Kion.  So, in a way, this film was created for a much younger demographic.

Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD and as for special features, you get a music video.  A plus is that the DVD does come with a talking Kion backpack pull.

Overall, for those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this short animated television film on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son and his friends must protect the Pride Lands from the hyenas.

For children and the young at heart, this Disney animated film is recommended!

 

Saints & Strangers (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

saintsstrangers

For those who are interested in watching a miniseries about America’s early settlers and the trials and tribulations of the Pilgrims and Indians, will no doubt want to give “Saints & Strangers” a try!

© 2015 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Saints & Strangers

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 192 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 1:78:1, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: Not Rated

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: February 16, 2016


Directed by Paul A. Edwards

Written by Seth Fisher, Eric Overmeyer

Produced by Jeff Sackman, Kirk Shaw

Executive Producer: Seth Fisher, Eric Ellis Overmeyer, Teri Weinberg, Grant Scharbo

Producer: Peter McAleese

Associate Producer: Ioanna Vassiliadis Willis

Line Producer: Jayson de Rosner

Music by Lorne Balfe

Cinematographer: Balazs Bolygo

Casting by Rene Haynes, Bonnie Rodini, Amy Hubbard

Production Design by Cristina Casali

Set Decoration by Irma van Heerden

Costume Design by Kate Carin


Starring:

Ray Stevenson as Stephen Hopkins

Michael Jobson as Myles Standish

Vincent Kartheieser as William Bradford

Kalani Queypo as Squanto

Barry Sloane as Edward Winslow

Vere Tindale as John Howland

Ron Livingston as John Carver

Bianca Simon Mannie as Kaya

Natascha McElhone as Elizabeth Hopkins

Raoul Max Trujillo as Massasoit

Meganne Young as Priscilla Mullins

Del Zamora as Aspinet

Maria Vos as Elizabeth Winslow

Tatanka Means as Hobbamock

Brian F. O’Byrne as John Billington, Sr.

Keenan Arrison as Canacum

Michael Greyeyes as Canonicus

Nahum Hughes as Wematin

Anna Camp as Dorothy Bradford


Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect) and Ron Livingston (Office Space) star in the acclaimed miniseries event Saints & Strangers, which dramatizes the Pilgrims’ harrowing voyage and arrival to America. Upon landing they encounter hunger, disease, and the proud but wary Native Americans. Loyalties are tested and hard-fought alliances between leaders become strained when the Pilgrims suspect a traitor in their midst.


For those who went to school in the U.S., earlier in our lives, we learned through school about the pilgrims that rode on the Mayflower ship from Plymouth, England and also Holland to the New World (Massachusetts) in 1620.

And how the pilgrims established New Plymouth, met Indians who taught them how to plant and cultivate corn and this friendship led to the holiday Thanksgiving.

If only things went as smoothly, but the story about the pilgrims and the Indians is not simple as the story of what transpired was anything but simple.

And the story about the Pilgrims and the Indians as found in the journals of English Separatist leader William Bradoford, are featured in the miniseries, “Saints & Strangers”.

The Pilgrims were the first English separatists who rode on the Mayflower and while on the Mayflower, due to the harsh weather and disease, many of them would not survive.

The journey was long and terrible, but for Governor John Carver (portrayed by Ron Livingston) and the surviving pilgrims, in a new world, they needed to find food and so they looted Indian villages and stole their supplies.

Meanwhile, William Bradford tries to calm the people on the Mayflower as more and more of their own die.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Saints & Strangers” is presented in Anamorphic widescreen (1:78:1) and is presented in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1.

Picture quality looks and sounds good as can be expected on DVD. There are moments of good surround usage during a gun exchange with the Indians or the storm in which the Mayflower gets caught up in but primarily this is a dialogue and musically driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Saints & Strangers” comes with 16 deleted scenes (19:10)


Growing up, we are typically taught a more simple, gentle way of how the Pilgrims and Indians came together and usually it’s primary reason is to explain why America has the holiday known as “Thanksgiving”.

But for the curious-minded of wanting to know how the life of Pilgrims and Indians were and the establishment of New Plymouth in the New World, “Saints & Strangers” is a television mini-series worth watching as it delves into the hardships in which the Pilgrims had to endure.

The first episode of the mini-series goes into the treacherous travel from England to the New World (Massachusetts) on the Mayflower.  I had no idea that the Pilgrims were people escaping the volatile political environment in England and their purpose was to separate themselves from the English state church.  It would have made the series much better to provide scenes or a primer to allow viewers to know that the Pilgrims, were people trying to escape persecution and that is why they left to establish a new home in the New World.

For those not familiar with English history, because of the 1559 Act of Uniformity, it was illegal not to attend official Church of England services – unless the church was a signatory to the allegiance to the Church of England. Puritans were fined for each missed Sunday and holy day and faced imprisonment, large fines and even execution.  Puritans still had membership and allegiance to the Church of England, while Separatists wanted nothing to do with the Church of England.

Also, I didn’t know that “New Plymouth” (1620) was second, after the founding of Jamestown, Virginia (1607) and learning from the series of the origination of Cape Cod (now known as Provincetown Harbor).

The series also focuses more on the character of William Bradford and I believe the reason why it focuses on the religious man, was because a lot of the detail on the Pilgrims are based on his journals and that he became the second governor after the death of John Carver.

Many of the decisions made by William Bradford were aligned with his religious beliefs, which often put him in odd against his own people. In the series, quite often it was against his confidant Myles Standish and also Stephen Hopkins.  Standish was showcased as a man who is a warrior, Hopkins is a man of reason and not necessarily religious but he is a person that goes through the most transformation in the series.

The other character featured is John Billington, Sr.  A man who had is own set beliefs of the Indians using witchcraft and also was cold and strict towards his family.  Often a hothead challenging Myles Standish’ orders.

And Edward Winslow, dedicated in his efforts to bring Pilgrims and Indians together peacefully but also was imperative not only for his writings about Plymouth but also in creating trust between the Indians and the Pilgrims.  But also, he was the main person who had a good relationship with Chief Massasoit.

While the series goes into the suffering the Pilgrims had endured due to the harsh winter and dwindling numbers as many people succumb to diseases, the extent of the looting done by the Pilgrims of Native American stores is only glanced upon in the series.

While the Pilgrims knew that the native Indians lived near them, the series shows the Pilgrims having knowledge of what they did by looting stores or corpses to be bad.  And as the Indians watched afar of the Pilgrims hungry and malnourished, the series does go into the first communication with Indian leader Samoset coming to the Pilgrim settlement and speaking English.  While in the series, Samoset said the Nauset Indians were upset because of the Pilgrims raiding the corn storage, other sources have pointed that the anger was due to the kidnapping by Englishman Thomas Hunt (a slave trader who was the Captain of one of the ships led by Captain John Smith – for those who are familiar with the story of “Pocahontas”).

For those watching the film and are not familiar with Thomas Hunt, this would lead viewers to google the name and finding out that Captain John Smith ordered Captain Thomas Hunt to pick up fish, skins and other items to load on their ship and bring back home.  But instead, Captain Thomas hunt kidnapped the Indians and went to Spain and sold them as slaves.

This is important to know because after Samoset met with the Pilgrims, the person to come back was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims on how to grow corn.  It’s not explained of how Squanto knew English, but Squanto alludes of how he rode the seas four times.  But through even more research (which I wished was discussed in the film), because Squanto was one of the slaves kidnapped, he learned English courtesy of London-based shipbuilder, John Slany.  When Squanto returned back home, he found out that the majority of coastal New England tribes were decimated by the plague and smallpox.

As the relationship from the Wampanoag Indians grew, their Chief Massasoit knew by having the English on their sides, it would show strength in the Wampanoag Tribe.  I had no idea of the strategies that went on between the tribes and one can call it the politics among the tribe of proof of power.  Chief Massasoit knew by giving the Pilgrims help, he had much better leverage with other tribes.

The second episode of the series would go into Squanto’s ego getting to his head.  Knowing that he had power because of his English capability and the Indians fear of guns and technology, he used his knowledge of English to get things taken care of between the Pilgrims and Indians, but also choosing his own words as translation in order to sway or upset a certain group or individual.  And show his undoing, but yet how he and William Bradford maintained a friendship and closeness through his death.

The other Indian who starts to have an important role is Hobbamock, who’s job was to watch over Squanto.  The series showed of his concerns towards the English, towards their belief of Christianity and also towards Squanto.  He was known for being a great warrior but also continuing where Squanto last left off and preserving the peace.

The series does a good job of integrating all these characters, including the supporting characters (women and children) into the film.  But the film does a great job of showing viewers of the challenges and tragedy experienced by America’s early settlers and how the Pilgrims and Indians would work together.

While “Saints & Strangers” is a fascinating mini-series for those who have any interest in the Pilgrims and Indians and what transpired back then, I wished there were more episodes because there is indeed more stories that needed to be told.

But the series does focus on the peaceful times between the Pilgrims and Indians and how they became allies (despite the children of these main characters, would lead to King Philip’s War between colonists and Indians) without getting too complex or straying too far from factual situations.

But for those who are interested in watching a miniseries about America’s early settlers and the trials and tribulations of the Pilgrims and Indians, will no doubt want to give “Saints & Strangers” a try!

 

Home Invasion (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

homeinvasion

For those wanting a less-heavy, popcorn home invasion film with its occasional thrilling moments, then “Home Invasion” may be your cup of tea.

© 2015 Origin Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Home Invasion

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 88 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 1:78:1, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Portuguese, Thai and Spanish

RATED: PG-13 (Violence and Peril)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: February 2, 2016


Directed by David Tennant

Written by Peter Sullivan

Produced by Jeff Sackman, Kirk Shaw

Executive Produced: Shawn Ashmore, Dave Hudakoc, Damian Lee, Jeffrey Schenck, Keith Shaw, Devi Singh

Music by Robert Smart

Cinematographer: Toby Gorman

Edited by Asim Nuraney

Casting by Dean E. Fronk

Production Design by Daren Luc Sasges

Costume Design by Zohra Shahalimi


Starring:

Natasha Henstridge as Chloe

Jason Patric as Mike

Scott Adkins as Heflin

Liam Dickinson as Jacob

Kyra Zagorsky as Victoria Knox

Michael rogers as Astor

Christian Tessier as Xander

Brenda Crichlow as Bess


Inspired by true events, A BRILLIANT YOUNG MIND tells the story of teenage math prodigy Nathan, who struggles when it comes to building relationships. In his confusing world, Nathan finds comfort in the predictability of numbers. But after earning a spot to compete in the prestigious International Math Olympiad, he faces new and unexpected challenges, ultimately triumphing in life and love.


From TV and documentary filmmaker David Tennant and writer Peter Sullivan (“Abandoned”, “Finders Keepers”, Eve’s Christmas”) comes an indie film “Home Invasion”.

“Home Invasion” will be released on DVD in February 2016 and stars Natasha Henstridge (“The Whole Nine Yards”, “Species”, “Ghost of Mars”), Jason Patric (“Speed 2: Cruise Control”, “The Lost Boys”, “Narc”) and Scott Adkins (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “Undisputed 3: Redemption”, “The Expendables 2”).

The film begins immediately with a woman named Chloe (portrayed by Natasha Henstridge) enjoying an evening with her friend Alice.  As someone drives up to the front of the home, the friend volunteers to find out what they need and she is shot to death.  Chloe sees her friend being killed in the security camera and drops her wine glass.

The film then goes back hours early and we learn that Chloe and her stepson Jacob (portrayed by Liam Dickinson) live in a very nice mansion.  She is trying to get access to her husbands bank accounts but having problems doing so.  It is also revealed that she and Jacob have relationship issues.

Jacob blames his stepmother for their father not coming home moving them to a small farming town away from the city and Chloe can’t understand why her husband hasn’t returned home.  Did he find another woman?  Marital issues?

As both mother and stepson are constantly arguing back and forth with each other, a major storm is approaching their town.  Chloe invites her friend over to help calm her nerves.

Meanwhile, an alarm security company and its employees are being trained by Mike (portrayed by Jason Patric) of what to say and not say on the phone with a client.  Mike is a single father, trying to raise his young daughter and has been putting a lot of hours at work.  Despite his boss telling him to get some rest, Mike is putting long hours.

We then see a criminal killing a toll bridge operator and a group of criminals headed by Heflin (portrayed by Scott Adkins) are choosing the mansion which Chloe and Jacob lives in and to break into the home.  And with terrible weather, now is their opportunity.

The scene repeats with Chloe and Alice talking and Alice going up to the car as a woman named Knox (portrayed by Kyra Zagorsky) is asking for directions.  As Alice answers the woman and heads back to the home, she is shot and killed.

As Chloe goes to call the police, she is not aware that it’s connecting to Knox, who is pretending to be a emergency dispatch operator.

Immediately, Chloe calls her home security company and the call immediately goes to professional Mike.  Mike learns that the home has normal security cameras and also hidden security cameras.

As the criminals break into the home, they begin looking for a safe and also the occupants of the home.

As Mike tries to help Chloe and Jacob navigate themselves to safety.  He must deal with his exhaustion but also his worries of keeping this family alive from criminals who may try to kill them.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Home Invasion” is presented in Anamorphic widescreen (1:78:1) and is presented in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1.

Picture quality looks and sounds good as can be expected on DVD.  There are moments of good surround usage during a gun exchange with the criminal and sheriffs plus ambiance of the storm in town.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Portuguese, Thai and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Home Invasion” comes with no special features.


When it comes to home invasion films, there have been a good number of dark, violent films such as Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games”, Miguel Angel Vivas’ “Kidnapped” or the horrific “Inside” by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury.

There have also been riveting films such as David Fincher’s “Panic Room” which is an enjoyable thriller and there was Richard Loncraine’s “Firewall” starring Harrison Ford.

But home invasion films are aplenty and for some filmmakers to stray away from any signs of banality, they try to focus on horror and really messed up situations that will make you close your eyes.

And for some people, this is not their cup of tea.  They want a suspenseful, yet non-horrific film and David Tennant’s “Home Invasion” is that kind of film.

“Home Invasion” in someway reminds me of a lighter version of “Panic Room” that is suspenseful but yet less risky and has the look and feel of a lower-budget indie film.

Acting is not the best, writing feels rushed, editing is questionable and “Home Invasion” has the feel of a movie that is geared for television.

But for those wanting a less-heavy, popcorn home invasion film with its occasional thrilling moments, then “Home Invasion” may be your cup of tea.

 

A Brilliant Young Mind (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

abrilliantyoungmind

“A Brilliant Young Mind” is an entertaining coming-of-age drama but unfortunately, it falls short of being anything gratifying and is more or less an average film.

© 2015 Origin Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: A Brilliant Young Mind

YEAR OF FILM: 2014

DURATION: 112 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 2:40:1, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

RATED: PG-13 (Some Strong Language, A Sexual Reference, Drug Material and Disturbing Images)

COMPANY: Origin/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: January 26, 2016


Directed by Morgan Matthews

Written by James Graham

Produced by Laura Hastings-Smith, David M. Thompson

Co-Producer: Joanie Blaikie, Ed Rubin

Executive Produced: Andrew Boswell, Hugo Heppell

Associate Producer: Elliot Ross, Fenella Ross

Line Producer: Sarah Wheale

Music by Martin Phipps

Cinematographer: Danny Cohen

Edited by Peter Lambert

Casting by Shaheen Baig

Production Design by Richard Bullock

Art Direction by Julie Ann Horan

Set Decoration by Duncan Wheeler


Starring:

Asa Butterfield as Nathan Ellis

Rafe Spall as Martin Humphreys

Sally Hawkins as Julie Ellis

Eddie Marsan as Richard

Jo Yang as Zhang Mei

Martin McCann as Michael Elis

Jake Davies as Luke Shelton

Alex Lawther as Isaac Cooper

Alexa Davies as Rebecca Dunn

Orion Lee as Deng Laoshi

Edward Baker-Close as Nathan Ellis (9 Years Old)


Inspired by true events, A BRILLIANT YOUNG MIND tells the story of teenage math prodigy Nathan, who struggles when it comes to building relationships. In his confusing world, Nathan finds comfort in the predictability of numbers. But after earning a spot to compete in the prestigious International Math Olympiad, he faces new and unexpected challenges, ultimately triumphing in life and love.


Inspired by the true story of mathematical genius Daniel Lightwing, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, a film taking a few elements of Daniel’s life would be made into a film.

Directed by documentary filmmaker Morgan Matthews (“Beautiful Young Minds”, “Shooting Bigfoot”, “Britain in a Day”) and written by James Graham (“The Vote”, “Coalition”), “A Brilliant Young Mind” (released as “X + Y” in Britain) will be released on DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film would star Asa Butterfield (“Hugo”, “Ender’s Game”, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”), Rafe Spall (“Prometheus”, “Life of Pi”, “Shaun of the Dead”), Sally Hawkins (“Happy-Go-Lucky”, “Godzilla”, “Layer Cake”, “Blue Jasmine”), Eddie Marsan (“Sherlock Holmes”, “V for Vendetta”, “Hancock”), Jo Yang and Jake Davies.

The film begins with young couple Micheal (portrayed by Martin McCann) and Julie (portrayed by Sally Hawkins) having their son Nathan tested.  Nathan is diagnosed with autism but also shows amazing mathematical potential when he shows a fascination with primary numbers.

His parents work with their son, especially his father who he has a close relationship with.  Until one day, while they are out on a drive, both of them are involved in a car accident which kills Michael.

This leaves Julie alone to raise their son and enroll him in a school to be mentored by math genius Martin (portrayed by Rafe Spall), who understands Nathan but also treats him in a cold demeanor due to his physical limitations.  Also, Martin has become an alcoholic and is traumatized because parts of his body are no longer working as they used to.  But Martin’s goal is to work with Nathan and develop his talent in order to earn a spot and compete in the prestigious IMO (International Math Olympiad).

Fastforward and Nathan (portrayed by Asa Butterfield) who is now a little older is selected to take part in an IMO-preparatory summer camp in Taiwan, where he and other geniuses must learn from their teacher Richard (portrayed by Eddie Marsan) and compete but also befriend their Chinese counterparts.

But will introverted Nathan be ready to be around other people, let alone compete in the IMO?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Brilliant Young Mind” is presented in Anamorphic widescreen (2:401) and in English Dolby Digital 5.1. A lot of the film was shot outdoors and those scenes are vibrant and looks good on DVD. While not released on Blu-ray, for the most part, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect for a DVD release.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Brilliant Mind” comes with no special features.


“A Brilliant Mind” takes the real story of Daniel Lightwing and modifying the original storyline in order to become a coming-of-age film.

Inspired by true events, “A Beautiful Mind” provides insight of a boy who is a mathematical genius but also is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Because of his fascination with numbers, his introverted and awkward mannerisms, the film takes the character of Nathan and sees how he is able to develop while not being at home, being away from his mother and mentor and thrust into a world with other geniuses in order to earn a spot and compete in the International Math Olympiad (IMO).

While the true story of Daniel Lightwing is less tragic than the film’s character, Nathan Ellis, the film is less about a genius trying to overcome all odds and win the IMO but focuses more on a mother’s relationship with her son and trying to connect and support him.

Meanwhile, the film focuses heavily on the friendship between Nathan and Zhang Mei.  Both are selected to partner with each other and for Zhang Mei, despite Nathan’s awkward nature, she tries to get close to him, if at all possible.

Meanwhile, Nathan tries to understand the emotions he is feeling but also tries to understand the other geniuses around him.

There is another storyline involving another genius, trying to place in the IMO who has a hard time trying to fit in among other geniuses who bully him.  And then there is Nathan’s mentor, Martin who begins to fall for his mother, Julie. And Martin dealing with his physical conditions, his alcoholism and the anger he harbors inside because of it.

And while performances by Asa Butterfield and Sally Hawkins were quite notable, unfortunately the problem with the film is that you expect things to happen.  May it be with other characters or seeing Nathan becoming triumphant. Personally, I found myself caring less about Nathan’s involvement in the IMO and more on this kindling romance between him and Zhang Mei.  Their friendship are probably the most enjoyable moments of the film.

Overall, “A Brilliant Young Mind” is an entertaining coming-of-age drama but unfortunately, it falls short of being anything gratifying and is more or less an average film.

 

Learning to Drive (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

learningtodrive

“Learning to Drive” is a charming film that I was really entertained by its characters and its story premise. I loved how director Isabel Coxet and writer Sarah Kernochan handled the characters but also the film’s ending and for me, it made the film even more delightful. “Learning to Drive” is recommended!

© 2015 Fabula Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Learning to Drive

YEAR OF FILM: 2014

DURATION: 89 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 2:40:1, English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

RATED: R (Language and Sexual Content)

COMPANY: Broadgreen Pictures

Released Dated: January 19, 2016


Directed by Isabel Coixet

Written by Sarah Kernochan

Produced by Dana Friedman, Daniel Hammond

Co-Producer: Susan Leber

Executive Produced: Eleni Asvesta, Dan Halsted, Gabriel Hammond, Harry Patramanis, JEnnifer Todd

Co-Executivbe Producer: Lauren McCarthy

Music by Dhani Harrison, Paul Hicks

Cinematographer: Manuel Ruiz

Edited by Keith Reamer, Thelma Schoonmaker

Casting by Monika Mikkelsen

Production Design by  Dania Saragovia

Set Decoration by Robert Covelman


Starring:

Patricia Clarkson as Wendy

Ben Kingsley as Darwan

Jake Weber as Ted

Sarita Choudhury as Jasleen

Grace Gummer as Tasha

Avi Nash as Preet

Samantha Bee as Debbie

Matt Salinger as Peter


As her marriage dissolves, a Manhattan writer takes driving lessons from a Sikh instructor with marriage troubles of his own. In each other’s company they find the courage to get back on the road and the strength to take the wheel.


From director Isabel Coixet (“Paris, je t’aime”, “Elegy”, “The Scret Life of Words”, “My Life Without Me”) and writer Sarah Kernochan (“9 1/2 Weeks”, “Sommersby”, “All I Wanna Do”, “What Lies Beneath”) comes the film “Learning to Drive”.

Based on the “New Yorker” article by Katha Pollitt, the film was named first-runner up at the People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

The film stars Patricia Clarkson (“Shutter Island”, “The Green Mile”, “Friends with Benefits”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Ben Kingsley (“Schindler’s List”, “Shutter Island”, “Gandhi”), Jake Weber (“Dawn of the Dead”, “Meet Joe Black”, “U-571”), Sarita Choudhury (“Lady in the Water”, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”, “A Perfect Murder”) and Grace Gummer (“Frances Ha”, “The Homesman”, “Margin Call”, “Extant”).

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

“Learning to Drive” introduces us to two characters, Wendy Shields (portrayed by Patricia Clarkson) and Darwan Singh Tur (portrayed by Ben Kingsley).

Wendy is a busy author, but unfortunately being busy has led to the breakdown of her marriage with Ted (portrayed by Jake Weber).

While Wendy believes this is temporary and she and her husband will get back together, her daughter Tasha (portrayed by Grace Gummer) told her that her father is ending their marriage.

Broken and distraught about her marriage falling apart, she also finds out that Ted wants to sell the house, the only home that she knows.

While Tasha tries to get hep her mother, she’s too distraught about the divorce.  But in order to take a step forward, she wants to do something that she has never done in her life… learn how to drive.

Darwan Singh Tur is an Indian Sikh driving instructor.  He is an American citizen but because the police are going after people without their papers, he always tries to see the good in people.  Because from the country that he is from, he has seen how his people have been accused guilty and sentence in prison for crimes they have not committed.   In his case, his entire family being imprisoned.

But yet, despite being well-educated and living in America, he is dedicated to his Sikh faith and in someways starting over with his life and is preparing to get into an arranged marriage.

And one day, while working on his taxi job, he picks up a distraught Wendy as she and Ted are in a fight, because Ted has found another woman and is divorcing her.  But Darwan listens to her and feels bad for her predicament.

So, when Wendy begins her independence, she hires Darwan to teach her how to drive, while she teaches him on how to impress a woman.

And through their driving lessons, they build a friendship and learn about each other’s culture but also about life and importance of friendship.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Learning to Drive” is presented in Anamorphic widescreen (2:401) and in English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. A lot of the film was shot outdoors and those scenes are vibrant and looks good. While not released on Blu-ray (which I wished it was), for the most part, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect on a DVD release.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Learning to Drive” comes with a photo gallery.


“Learning to Drive” is a charming and entertaining film about two people, from different worlds, who pretty much discover themselves and develop a friendship over driving lessons.

While there are many films about people who come from different cultures or different backgrounds that fall in love, “Learning to Drive” tries not to be similar to those films and become a film stuck in a banality of romantic comedies utilizing that type of storyline.

What the film does well is taking people from two different cultures, different ways of life and showing how these two different individuals can understand each other and become friends.

And during their moment of hurt, they find comfort in each other in preparation to move on.

With two veteran talents, Patricia Clarkson’s Wendy  is a successful author but is often busy with her work that she and her husband rarely have any alone time and overtime, their relationship is destroyed with no more willingness from her husband to work in making the relationship work again.  They tried and tried again to no avail and he leaves her.

She’s not ready to be alone, divorced and start over but its the reality that she faces and what she fears most.  Starting over.

And for Ben Kingsley, as talented as an actor that he is, I wasn’t sure if he would be convincing enough to play a Seik Indian but considering that he is a wonderful actor, he manages to play the character of Darwan rather well.  As he looks to America as being a free man.

But what he sees as free from what he had to grow up in back in his country, Wendy sees how badly he is treated.  From racial profiling, people giving him racist-related crap on a daily basis, she is shocked that he remains calm despite the hostilities that he has received.  Because being called names are one thing, but the persecution that he and his family had to endure in their country is far worse.

And through these cultural exchanges, we get to see how these individuals who are so different, begin to understand each other.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect on DVD.  There are no major special features but a photo gallery, so it’s literally a barebones DVD rleease.

Overall, “Learning to Drive” is a charming film that I was really entertained by its characters and its story premise.  I loved how director Isabel Coxet and writer Sarah Kernochan handled the characters but also the film’s ending and for me, it made the film even more delightful.

“Learning to Drive” is recommended!

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

naruto-24

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that is more filler-based but for good reason. It also manages to take bits and pieces from the manga series but build upon the Great Ninja War by showcasing other characters like Gaara, Temari, Shikamaru, Hinata and Neji in action. If you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, then “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 297-309 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Bilingual (Japanese & English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shonen Jump/Viz Media

RATED: Rated T for Older Teen

Release Date: November 10, 2015


Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Series Directed by Hayato Date

Produced by Tomoko Gushima, Ken Hagino

Series Coordinator by Junki Takegami, Satoru Nishizono

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio, Hirofumi Suzuki

Music by Yasuharu Takanishi, Yaiba

Music Production by Aniplex

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Sabaku no Gaara (Gaara of the Desert)

Hideo Ishikawa/Crispin Freeman as Itachi Uchiha

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Troy Baker as Pain

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Kujira/Steven Blum as Orochimaru

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade/Fifth Hokage

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Nobutoshi Canna/Henry Dittman as Kabuto Yakushi

Rikiya Koyama/Troy Baker as Yamato

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yasuyuki Kase/Michael Lindsay as Kankurou

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee


Naruto: Shippuden uncut set 24 opens as Gaara leads the Fourth Company into battle against the previous Kage, including his own father. Meanwhile Naruto and Killer Bee face the reanimated Itachi Uchiha, who recognizes Naruto’s growth as a shinobi and his potential to rescue his brother, Sasuke, from his path of vengeance. Kabuto assumes control of Itachi to use his Mangekyo Sharingan, but Itachi’s well of power is not yet drained. Battles rage, and all must face enemies – as well as friends – they never expected to see again!


With the 14th season of “Naruto Shippuden”, the Fourth Great Ninja War continues as Kabuto has revived and reanimated great legends and villains from Shinobi past and has control over them.  And with the White Zetsu Army being unleashed on various ninja divisions and no one able to tell who are shinobi or disguised White Zetsu Army members, Naruto and Killer Bee are now heading to the battlefield to lend their assistance.

As Kazekage, Gaara goes into the battlefield to confront his father, the Fourth Kazekage, meanwhile his men must battle against the Second Mizukage and the Third Raikage.  Meanwhile, Naruto must come across Itachi.  Meanwhile, Kabuto summons Hayate Gekko!

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut”.

What is “Naruto”?

Since 1999, “Naruto” created by Masashi Kishimoto (“Karakuri”) has been one of the most popular anime and manga series in Japan and has easily become a favorite best selling anime/manga series among fans all over the world.

For the anime series, since 2002, “Naruto” lasted until 2007 with a total of 220 episodes. The series would follow the adventures of a boy named Naruto Uzamaki, who may not be the brightest ninja from the Konoha Village but he makes it up with heart and also tremendous power as the killer beast known as the nine-tailed fox has been sealed within him.

Earlier in the series, the anime series focused on Naruto and his team members Sasuke Uchida and Sakura Haruno as they would go on adventures and learn to become a team and also honing their ninja abilities. The series would then begin to introduce other young ninjas from the village who Naruto would be paired up with and the young ninjas would take on rival clans to helping people in need. But somehow as the series continued, Sasuke Uchida would then go off on his own personal mission to stop his brother Itaki Uchida, who murdered the whole Uchida clan and his family, only leaving Sasuke alive.

Within those six years, we have seen Naruto and his friends grow as friends and also in their abilities. For Naruto, all he has wanted is to become the next Hokage (the leader of the village) when he grows older and to help his friends accomplish missions. He knows that to be a good leader, he will need to get stronger so he can protect the village once he grows older. Of course, there is so much involved in the “Naruto” anime series and what makes its special is its humor, its action but also how well the series integrates so many characters but yet features a good number of character driven episodes that makes the viewer appreciate many of the characters in the series.

“Naruto”, the first series ended with the young ninja leaving to train with Jiraiya for two-and-a-half years.

What is “Naruto Shippuden”?

Sasuke has aligned with the Akatsuki who wants to destroy the Leaf Village – Konoha. Madara has declared war and thus an Allied Shinobi Force is formed. The elder leaders of all villages, allies to the Leaf Village have realized that the Akatsuki are after Naruto (Nine Tail) and Killer B (Eight Tail Beast). They have since accomplished extracting the beasts (Jinchuriki) from others.

In “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20”, the series now returns back to storyline that is featured on the manga series.

As Naruto tries to control the power of the nine tails, Naruto’s mother enter his consciousness to explain the secrets of his birth and learns about heir hopes and renews his vow to be come Hokage!

All is revealed about what transpired during the day of Naruto’s birth and who was responsible for attacking the Leaf Village with the nine tails. And given the final moments to meet and speak with his mother one last time.

And as Naruto has become the prime target of the Akatsuki, Yamato, Guy and a few other Leaf Ninja, including Killer B have convinced Naruto that he is on an S-Ranked Environmental Mission at an island.

In volume 22, Naruto who has trained with Bee, is starting to feel the chakra of the nine-tail fox and now he wants to know why he is being locked up and why his fellow ninja are acting strangely.

Meanwhile, as Sakura and other medics tend to the wounded, someone has infiltrated the medical unit and is slaughtering them. And he’s out to kill Sakura. Will Sakura find out who the culprit truly is?

In volume 24, the series focuses on Gaara and Temari leading their team to take on the reanimated Fourth Kazekage, Second Mizukage and the Third Raikage.  Naruto and Killer Bee rushes to the battle scene to lend their assistance.  But Kabuto has something up his sleeve.  What does he plan on doing?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Naruto Shippuden” is an anime series that was never known for having spectacular background art, but it’s know for its action and its characters and how it captures emotion and its intense battles. While in this episode, a lot of episodes are contained in areas near lush green trees, water or dirt, it’s not so much of the background but how the characters are design and how well the battles are portrayed. And I can easily say that with “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

It’s important to note that in 2014, Viz has went from releasing episodes on three DVD discs to two DVD discs per volume.

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24” is pretty much Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 Bilingual (Japanese and English). Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well.

Especially Maile Flanagan’s Naruto Uzumaki. Personally, I didn’t think there would be a voice actor that could capture Junko Takeuchi’s Naruto vocals and sure enough, Flanagan does a great job. But I have watched the series in Japanese and English and for the most part, voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done.

Since the series is front channel driven, for those with a modern home theater receiver probably will enjoy a more immersive soundscape by selecting stereo on all channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Storyboards
  • Art Gallery
  • Clean Openings/Endings

With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut”, the 14th season of the series manages to borrow bits and pieces from the manga series and elongate the Fourth Great Ninja War for multiple seasons.

As of January 2016 in Japan, the anime series has not yet completed, despite the manga series having ended in 2014, “The Last Naruto the Movie” being released that same year and now the storyline has shifted towards “Boruto”, as of now, it looks as if the series will continue on with its 19th season.

What writers have done is to focus on various aspects of the Great Ninja War by focusing on other characters outside of Naruto and showing them in battle.

And in some ways, I kind of like that, because the manga series focuses on other characters from other clans for a short-time and focused on the core characters much more.  With the anime series, writers want to get viewers acclimated to how huge the war is and how each member contributed in battle.

So, with “Naruto” being a series with a lot of characters, writers have more liberty to explore the characters during the war.  The only caveat by doing this is that for those wanting the story to be more tied to the manga series, may be upset that writers have managed to extend the war for so many episodes.  And others will think they are nothing more than filler episodes.

Yes, they are filler episodes but having read the manga, I feel the writers were respectful of Kishimoto’s manga work but wanted to show how everyone was affected during the Great Ninja War.  And so far, the series has been entertaining.

And with this volume, people get to see Gaara and Temari as leaders.  We get a storyline that explains why Gaara was treated the way he was by his father and others when he was younger and more!  For the antagonists side, we get to see more of Kabuto and how he is using the re-animation technique but also how he is using the White Zetsu Army.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 12 episodes on two DVD’s and special features which include storyboards, art gallery, clean opening and endings.

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that is more filler-based but for good reason.  It also manages to take bits and pieces from the manga series but build upon the Great Ninja War by showcasing other characters like Gaara, Temari, Shikamaru, Hinata and Neji in action.

If you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, then “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you!

 

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