“Dead Rising: Watchtower” will not only appeal to fans of the video game series but for those who like zombie films in general. I expected the worst but instead, I felt that the film was one of the much better video game to live action film adaptations out there. And I can’t wait for the sequel! “Dead Rising: Watchtower” is a film worth giving a try!
TITLE: Dead Rising: Watchtower
YEAR OF FILM: 2015
DURATION: 24 Episodes (519 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen (2:40:1), English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
RATED: NOT RATED
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Released Dated: October 6, 2015
Directed by Zach Lipovsky
Written by Tim Carter
Executive Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tomas Harlan, Haruhiro Tsujimoto, Kiichiro Urata
Producer: Tim Carter
Associate Producer: Gary Hawes, Mike Jackson, Andy Levine, Zach Lipovsky, Mahlon Todd Williams
Music by Oleksa Lozowchuk
Cinematography by Mahlon Todd Williams
Edited by Mike Jackson
Casting by Libby Goldstein, Monica Kelly, Junie Lowry-Johnson
Production Design by Tony Devenyi
Art Direction by Carlos Bolbrugge
Set Decoration by Jonathan Lancaster
Costume Design by Barbara Gregusova
Jesse Metcalfe as Chase
Meghan Ory as Crystal
Virginia Madsen as Maggie
Keegan Connor Tracy as Jordan
Aleks Paunovic as Logan
Dennis Haysbert as General Luons
Gary Jones as Norton
Carrie Genzel as Susan
Rob Riggle as Frank West
Back in 2006, video game company CAPCOM released their survival horror game “Dead Rising” about a photojournalist named Frank West, who was trapped in a shopping mall in Colorado infested with zombies.
A total of three games have been released since then and now writer Tim Carter (“Sleeping Dogs”, “The Chateau Meroux”) has written a film based on the events of the video game titled “Dead Rising: Watchtower”, which was directed by Zach Lipovsky (“Leprechaun: Origins”, “Sunshine Girl”, “Ingress Obsessed”).
The film would star Jesse Metcalfe (“Dallas”, “Desperate Housewives”, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”), Meghan Ory (“Once Upon a Time”, “Vampire High”, “Dark House”), Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”, “The Number 23”, “The Haunting in Connecticut”), Keegan Connor Tracy (“Final Destination 2”, “Chaos”), Alex Paunovic (“This Means War”, “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”, “Personal Effects”), Dennis Haysbert (“24”, “The Unit”, “Heat”), Gary Jones (“Stargate SG-1”, “Stargate: Continnum”, “Stargate: The Ark of Truth”), Carrie Genzel (“Watchmen”, “Jennifer’s Body”, “88 Minutes”) and Rob riggle (“21 Jump Street”, “The Hangover”, “Dumb and Dumber To”).
The film would be featured on Crackle and with a sequel to the film being announced (and also a TV series in pre-production), “Dead Rising: Watchtower” will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
“Dead Rising: Watchtower” is set between the second and third video game. Online reporter Chase Carter (portrayed by Jesse Metcalfe) and his camerawoman Jordan (portrayed by Keegan Connor Tracy) are trying to make a name for themselves.
As they cover stories in the walled-in quarantined area in Oregon, FEZE (Federal Emergency Zombie Authority) are trying to contain a viral outbreak by injecting people with Zombrex, which should prevent the virus from those infected.
But when Chase films a doctor giving an injection, the person suddenly turns into a zombie and immediately who received the injection have turned into zombies. While Chase and Jordan are separated during the chaotic melee as innocents are being bitten/eaten by zombies, Jordan makes it to the outside of the wall (the only person to do so), while Chase escapes with a woman named Crystal (portrayed by Meghan Ory) and a mother named Maggie (portrayed by Virginia Madsen) whose daughter has turned to a zombie.
As the three try to survive from the zombie onslaught, Chase notices that Crystal is injecting herself with Zombrex and has not changed. While he uses his smartphone to send messages to a local news company, outside, a gang of hoodlums led by a man named Logan (portrayed by Aleks Paunovic) is feeding off the chaos by the zombies.
Back in the safe zone, Jordan keeps in contact with Chase and through research, discovers that the Zombrex injected in people, may not be to save lives…but something possibly more sinister.
Will Chase and the others survive in the quarantined zone?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Dead Rising: Watchtower” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Picture quality on DVD is very good as it can get on DVD, but was hoping that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment would have released this film on Blu-ray. Audio quality is good with clear dialogue and music and good surround for the action sequences. I did not notice any significant artifacts or any problematic issues during my viewing of the series.
Subtitles are in English SDH
“Dead Rising: Watchtower” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Audio commentary featuring director Zach Lipovsky and writer/producer Tim Carter.
- The Epic “One-ER” – (4:03) How the long one-shot segment was created.
- The Weapons of Dead Rising: Watchtower – (4:02) The weapons of “Dead Rising: Watchtower”.
- The Making of Bonzo the Zombie Clown – (2:45) The making of the Bonzo the Zombie Clown sequence.
- Rob Riggle Outtakes – (1:00) Improve sequences featuring Rob Riggle as first video game protagonist, Frank West.
Having watched my fair share of badly done zombie films, let alone indie horror films and to be truthful, bad video game to film adaptations, I watched “Dead Rising: Watchtower” with the lowest expectations.
But expecting the worse, “Dead Rising: Watchtower” was a popcorn action film that wasn’t as horribly acted, nor was the visual effects super lame and surprisingly, this film features noticeable names, rather than people that were brought back from ’80s films.
But I won’t go so far as to proclaim “Dead Rising: Watchtower” as one of the greatest zombie films, but I will say it’s one of the better video game to film adaptations that tries to maintain a connection to the original source material.
For those who have played a “Dead Rising” video game, will know how over-the-top the film is when it comes to weaponry and ways to defeat a zombie. There is always a survival element and there are no doubt challenges that make the game enjoyable and yet frustrating all at once.
But there is no denying that “Dead Rising” is about survival against zombies and using any type of weapon to beat the enemy and with that second game, the dreaded Zombrex anti-vaccine.
“Dead Rising: Watchtower” features both. Finding whatever weapon is necessary to beat the zombies but most importantly, trying to survive in an area infested with zombies. You’re literally outnumbered, trying to survive whichever way you can.
And of course, it helps to have Frank West (portrayed by the over-the-top Rob Riggle) as part of the news commentary.
But it was great to see Jesse Metcalfe playing a character unlike his loverboy characters that we have seen him in “Desperate Housewives” and his earlier soap opera years. It was also great to see Meghan Ory in a strong kick arse role and both do a great job as two trying to survive by the zombie outbreak.
The film has its veterans such as Dennis Haysbert and Virginia Madsen and aside from zombies and political corruptness against you, the protagonists also have to worry about a crazy gang trying to rule the streets.
As for the DVD, you get an audio commentary and several special features included. Picture and audio quality is very good but as mentioned, I wish this film released on Blu-ray.
Overall, “Dead Rising: Watchtower” will not only appeal to fans of the video game series but for those who like zombie films in general. I expected the worst but instead, I felt that the film was one of the much better video game to live action film adaptations out there. And I can’t wait for the sequel!
“Dead Rising: Watchtower” is a film worth giving a try!
Wonderful writing, awesome performances…”Deutschland 83″ is a riveting series that I highly recommend!
TITLE: Deutschland 83
YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2015
DURATION: 8 Episodes (360 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1), German 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English
RATED: NOT RATED
COMPANY: Kino Lorber
Released Dated: September 29, 2015
Created by Anna Winger, Joerg Winger
Directed by Edward Berger, Samira Radsi
Written by Steve Bailie, Anna Winger
Executive Producer: Ulrike Leibfried, Sebastian Werninger
Producer: Nico Hofmann, Henriette Lippold, Jorg Winger
Line Producer: Tim Greve
Music by Reinhold Heil
Cinematography by Phillip Haberlandt, Frank Kupper
Edited by Sven Budelmann, Boris Gromatzki
Production Design by Lars Lange
Art Direction by Carsten Woithe
Costume Design by Katrin Schafer
Alexander Beyer as Tischbier
Sonja Gerhardt as Annett
Sylvester Groth as Walter Schweppenstette
Jonas Nay as Martin Rauch
Ulrich Noethen as General Wolfgang Edel
Maria Schrader as Lenora Rauch
Ludwig Trepte as Alex Edel
Lisa Tomaschewsky as Yvonne Edel
Godehard Giese as Karl Kramer
Uew Preuss as Markus Fuchs
Anna von Berg as Ursula Edel
Carina N. Wiese as Ingrid Rauch
Niels Bormann as Fritz Hartmann
Vladimir Burlakov as Thomas Posimski
Errol Trotman-Harewood as General Arnold Jackson
Florian Bartholamai as Felix von Schwerin
Michaela Caspar as Frau Netz
Our hero, Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay), is 23. Born and raised in East Germany, he is sent undercover, as Moritz Stamm, to West Germany, to work for a top General in the Bundeswehr. Officially, his job is to gather intelligence on the placement of the Pershing II Missiles. A secondary gig develops, infiltrating youth culture through close relationships with the General’s two children. But nothing and no one are as they seem.
Deutschland 83 is a coming-of-age story within a suspenseful thriller, set against the real events, culture wars and political realities of Germany in the 1980s.
In 2015, the eight episode German television series “Deutschland 83” aired on Sundance TV, becoming the first German-language series to air in the U.S.
Created by husband and wife team, Anna Winger (an American novelist) and Joerg Winger (a German TV producer), the series has received critical acclaim.
The series takes place years before the reunification of Germany (1990), with the East Germany (German Democractic Republic) and West German (Federal Republic of Germany) still within many decades of tension.
“Deutschland 83” is set during the time of Able Archer 83 (a ten-day NATO command post exercise which exercised a simulated period of conflict escalation and thus culminating into a simulated DEFCON 1 coordinated nuclear attack).
Because East Germany and Russian intelligence reports suggested that Able Archer was a ruse of war and was Germany with the help of NATO planning a genuine nuclear first strike in Germany, it was an instance where World War III was almost imminent.
The series begins with the introduction of Martin Rauch (portrayed by Jonas Nay), a border patrol guard from East Germany. He is also a young man who lives with his mother Ingrid (portrayed by Carina Wiese) who is in badly need of a kidney transplant and dating Annett Schneider (portrayed by Sonja Gerhardt).
Life seems good for Martin until one day, his life would change forever.
His aunt, Lenora Rauch (portrayed by Maria Schrader) is the East German Embassy’s Cultural Attache (a diplomat with a special responsibility of promote the culture of their homeland) and she enlists Martin to be a spy for Walter Schweppenstette (portrayed by Sylvester Groth), Lenora’s boss at the East Germany Embassy.
Martin, against his will, is forced to become a spy for the East Germans (he is told that if he becomes a spy, his mother would be put on top of the list for a kidney transplant).
He must take the name of Moritz Stamm, the name of an actual soldier killed by an East German mercenary and become the aid of General Wolfgang Edel (portrayed by Ulrich Noethen) in Bundeswehr. General Edel works with the Americans at NATO on the deployment of Pershing II Weapon System missiles and Martin’s mission is to take photos of strategic sites that NATO has planned to strike.
As the East German’s have spies that have infiltrated the West Germany military, Martin works with Tobias Tischbier (portrayed by Alexander Beyer), a professor at the University of Bonn and works in the STASI’s (Ministry for State Security) foreign arm, the Main Directorate for Reconnaisance (HVA).
While Martin succeeds in his first mission, the STASI want Martin to continue his espionage activities in order to find out more about Able Archer and when West Germany and their NATO allies will send a nuclear strike onto East German soil.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Deutschland 83” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and German 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality on DVD is very good as the series is broken up in three discs. I will admit that I wished Kino Lorber released this series on Blu-ray, but picture quality for the most part is very good. I did not notice any artifacts or any problematic issues during my viewing of the series.
Audio quality is good with crystal clear German dialogue.
Subtitles are in English.
“Deutschland 83” comes with the following special features:
- The Actors – (11:49) Interviews with Jonas Nay, Sonja Gerhardt and Ludwig Trepte who discuss the show and their characters.
- The Creators – (13:19) Interviews with series creators Anna and Joerg Winger who discuss how the show came to fruition.
- Q&A with Cast and Creators at the Goethe-Institut – (21:55) Q&A with series creators Anna and Joerg Winger, actors Jonas Nay, Sonja Gerhardt and Ludwig Trepte.
The first words that came out of my wife’s mouth after she watched a few episodes of “Deutschland 83″ on Sundance TV was…”You have to watch this show! It’s so good!”.
I have caught little glimpses of the series from time-to-time and wondered if she may be biased, considering she is German and she was and is still is, a huge Duran Duran fan.
But with Kino Lorber releasing “Deutschland 83” on DVD, I figured it was a very good time to check out the series that she and many people have been raving about this year.
And I have to concur that “Deutschland 83” is a magnificent spy thriller incorporating ’80s pop culture and captivating acting from its large cast.
But also taking one of the most tension-driven situations in Germany’s history and bringing it to television for the world to enjoy. The fact is a lot of people in America who are not erudites on the history of East and West Germany and how close the world was for another World War, is quite amazing to see how intelligence played a big part in preventing any misdirection leading to war.
The storyline resonates strongly for those who grew up in the ’80s. The pop culture such as Nena’s “99 Luft Ballons” or Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” and technology such as the Walkman being enjoyed. Those little bits of pop culture hits home for those of us that enjoyed those things many years ago.
But of course, it’s the well-written storyline of how a young border guard is chosen by force to become a spy for his country, East Germany and transplanted to West Germany. Not having to say goodbye to his sick mother or girlfriend, he tries in various attempts to contact them and of course, doing so at inopportune moments and risking his identity.
To take on the identity of an aid worker to a General and having to be so close in proximity to an American General and German General with access to highly classified material and is given the task to take photos of those documents and get it into East Germany through spies who infiltrated the West German government or military.
There are also quite a few side stories in play. From General Edel’s son, Alex, who serves in the military with Martin but is slowly growing into becoming against the military. And also, his daughter Yvonne, who becomes a member of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh cult.
Another story includes Martin’s girlfriend, Annett Schneider moving in with his mother Ingrid. And Annett discovering a major secret that Ingrid has been hiding. And also a story about Tobias Tischbier, an East German who works for the STASI but is in the West, working as a professor at the University of Bonn and his relationships with men and the fears, especially during the early ’80s in regards to the AIDS epidemic.
But the primary storyline revolves around Martin with the name of Moritz Stamm having forced to become a spy but is told that his mother would receive medical treatment and will be put on the list for a kidney transplant if he does his job. So, we watch his journey of several risky missions he must undertake as a spy.
Every episode is thrilling and the acting by Jonas Nay, Maria Schrader, Alexander Beyer, Sonja Gerhardt, Sylvester Groth to name a few is definitely worth mentioning as their performance are fantastic.
But with a wonderful eight episodes making up the first season, can we expect a season two?
To ensure to not leave people hanging after its thrilling season finale, Anna and Joerg Winger have said in an interview (included on this DVD) that the plan is to have three seasons. That is great news for fans of “Deutschland 83” and one can only hope the quality of the writing and acting remains consistent.
For parents who want to watch this series with their young children, just a little warning that the series does have violence and brief nudity.
As for the DVD, as much as I hoped that Kino Lorber would release “Deutschland 83” on Blu-ray, for now, only a DVD release will be available. But the good news is that the episodes are broken up to three DVD discs, so picture quality is very good as one can expect on DVD. Audio is German Dolby Digital 5.1 and English subtitles are easy to read. Special features include interviews with three members of the cast, series creators and a Q&A which all take place in New York for the screening of the first episode.
Overall, “Deutschland 83″ is a magnificent spy thriller and as the first German television series to air in the United States, this series may open the gates for more international programming to be released in the U.S.
Wonderful writing, awesome performances…”Deutschland 83” is a riveting series that I highly recommend!
If you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, the “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you. The episodes are action-packed and have quite a bit of humor. But if you are a purist dedicated to Masashi Kishimoto’s manga series and want to watch the main storyline in regards to the war, then this volume can be skipped over.
Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut
DURATION: Episodes 284-296 (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: July 28, 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
The Fourth Great Ninja War rages on, and danger comes from every angle. Old comrades and enemies have risen from the grave under the control of Kabuto to fight the Allied Forces. While some retain their calm, others must wrestle with their emotions. Naruto’s training has made him more powerful, but some believe his possession of the Nine Tails makes him a liability. Can the Allied Forces survive assassins and their reanimated friends to win the war?
The Fourth Great Ninja War continues as Naruto now enters the battlefield and also a side story featuring the Hidden Sand Village and the Hidden Stone Village.
All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – 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 23, a special side story features the Hidden Sand Village and the Hidden Stone Village. Also, a storyline that takes place after the Kage Summit as Team Kakashi is sent out on a mission to “The Hole” and investigate an incident where people are being killed. Will Yamato, Sai ,Sakura and Naruto find out who is responsible for the deaths?
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 20- 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 20” 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.
“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:
- Art Gallery
- Clean Openings/Endings
With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut”, the volume continues with filler episodes, while Masashi Kishimoto was still working on the stories in the manga series.
This tends to happen a lot when the anime series catches up with the manga and in order to give adequate time, a season is spent on filler episodes.
With episodes 284-296, these filler episodes concludes Season 13 (which aired in Japan from October 2012 to January 2013) and fortunately, the filler episodes take place during the Great Ninja War or right after the Great Kage Summit.
This time we get episodes relating to the Hidden Sand Village and Hidden Stone Village, Sai learning why people are dedicated into fighting for their friends, Tsunade on a mission and discussing why she puts her faith in Naruto. We also get to see Kakashi taking on reanimated Kirigakure shinobi and a battle with Ameyuri Ringo.
The final episodes take place after the Kage Summit and features episodes about Yamato, Naruto, Sakura and Sai sent on a mission to investigate the death of people near “The Hole” and must take on Kabuto’s Hidan clone and the reanimated Hayate Gekou.
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 23 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that is more filler-based. The good news is that the filler stories take place during the Great Ninja War and dealing with reanimated Shinobi, the bad news is that the main storyline of the Great Ninja War doesn’t continue until Season 14 (which will take place in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 24 – Original & Uncut”).
But if you don’t mind filler episodes and are a fan staying with “Naruto Shippuden” for the long haul, the “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 23 – Original & Uncut” will no doubt entertain you. The episodes are action-packed and have quite a bit of humor. But if you are a purist dedicated to Masashi Kishimoto’s manga series and want to watch the main storyline in regards to the war, then this volume can be skipped over.
For the young or the young at heart, “LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles” is a wonderful CG animated series featuring a lot of humor, action and adventure for the entire family!
DVD TITLE: LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles
DURATION: (Four Episodes) 92 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1, English, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
RATED: TV Y7 FV
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Directed by Michael Hegner
Written by Michael Price
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/Admiral Piett/Bib Fortuna/Jar Jar
Sam Vincent as Rako/Young Obi Wan
Kelly Metszger as Vaash Ti
Brian Drummond as Bobby/Storm Trooper 1
Tabitha St. Germain as Bene
Andrew Francis as Bail Organa/Storm Trooper 2
Michael Donovan as Ghost (older) Obi Wan
Brian Dobson as JEK/Nemoidian Senator
Michael Dangerfield as Han Solo/Black Squadron Pilot
Eric Bauza as Luke Skywalker/Rusty
Heather Doerksen as Princess Leia
Your favorite Star Wars heroes are back with four complete episodes (plus a bonus alternate ending!) that unleash the lighter side of the Force.
After headstrong Luke nearly delivers the good guys into Palpatine’s clutches, Master Yoda and the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi unearth the Holocrons – last remnants of the secrets of the Jedi – to further Luke’s training. But Darth Vader also seeks the Holocrons, and he’ll stop at nothing to get to them first! Meanwhile, courageous superclone Jek-14, a Force-sensitive clone, comes out of retirement to help bolster the Rebels. Share all the action-packed thrills of these interlocking, intergalactic adventures in LEGO® STAR WARS: The New Yoda Chronicles!
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: The New Yoda Chronicles” a chance.
The series takes place before “LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace” and during a time when Yoda is training Padawans at the Jedi Temple Academy and feels a disturbance in The Force.
With the first season consisting of three episodes airing on the Cartoon Network, Disney started to release the second season consisting of four episodes (episodes 4-7) in 2014 on Disney Channel and Disney XD.
And now, “LEGO Star Wars: The Yoga Chronicles” will be released on DVD in Sept. 2015!
Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode featured on the DVD:
- Episode 7 – Escape from the Jedi Temple – Luke and friends are captured by Darth Vader.
- Episode 8 – Race for the Holocrons – Darth Vader is in search of the Holocrons, meanwhile Luke, Leia and the droids are in Utapau trying to find a ship to travel to Tatooine.
- Episode 9 – Raid on Coruscant – The Empire attacks Naboo, while Luke and friends must evacuate from Kashyyyk.
- Episode 10 – Clash of the Skywalkers – The Emperor sends Darth Vader to destroy Luke Skywalker.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles” 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!
“LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles” comes with the following special feature:
- Alternate Ending: “Clash of the Skywalkers” – (1:50) An alternate ending to the seventh episode (season two finale).
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: The New Yoda Chronicles”, 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.
For the second season of “LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles”, the primary goal is Darth Vader going after Luke Skywalker but also going after the Holocrons.
And while Yoda and the ghost of Obi Wan Kinobi sense a change within the Force, Luke Skywalker and friends try to avoid the Empire as best as they can. Of course, Han Solo and Leia’s early relationship has a bit of friction and C-3PO tends to get in more trouble than expected, but still, the adventures of Luke and friends are entertaining, fun and the humor will no doubt having adults and children laughing.
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: The New Yoda Chronicles”.
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. There is only one special feature, which is an alternate ending of episode 7’s “Clash of the Skywalkers”.
Overall, for the young or the young at heart, “LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles” is a wonderful CG animated series featuring a lot of humor, action and adventure for the entire family!
“The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Second Season” is highly recommended!
TITLE: The Goldbergs: The Complete Second Season
YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2015
DURATION: 24 Episodes (519 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1), English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
RATED: NOT RATED
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Released Dated: September 8, 2015
Directed by Seth Gordon, David Katzenberg, Victor Nelli Jr., Michael Patrick Jann, Claire Scanlon, Jason Ensler, Troy Miller, Mat Sohn, Roger Kumble, Ken Marino, Fred Savage
Written by Adam F. Goldberg, Kristopher Valentine, Andrew Secunda, Stacey Harman, Chris Bishop, Alex Barnow, Sally Bradford, Marc Firek, Lew Schneider, Niki Schwartz-Wright, Matt Tarses, Michael J. Weithorn, Darlene Hunt, Aaron Kaczander, Vanessa McCarthy
Executive Producer: Adam F. Goldberg, Seth Gordon, Doug Robinson
Producer: Andrew Secunda, Stephen Basilone
Co-Executive Producer: Annette Sahakian Davis, Marc Firek, Sally Bradford, David Katzenberg, Robia Rashid
Co-Producer: Mary Rohlich, Nikki Schwartz-Wright
Associate Producer: Erin Braun, Courtney Wieden
Cinematography by Joseph E. Gallagher, Jason Blount, David Hennings
Edited by Ivan Victor, Jon Corn, Scott Pellet
Casting by Leslie Litt
Production Design by Cory Lorenzen, Shepherd Frankel
Art Direction by Bill Brownell
Set Decoration by Suzette Sheets, Jennifer Lukehart
Costume Design by Keri Smith, Carol Ramsey
Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg
Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg
Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg
Hayley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg
George Segal as Albert “Pops” Solomon
Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg
Patton Oswalt as the Narrator
AJ Michalka as Lainey Lewis
Virginia Gardner as Lexy Bloom
Natalie Alyn Lind as Dana Caldwell
Kenny Ridwan as Dave Kim
Stephn Tobolowsky as Principal Ball
Jackson Odell as Ari Caldwell
Jacob Hopkins as Chad Kremp
Matt Bush as Andy Cogan
Sam Lerner as Geoff Schwartz
Noah Munck as “Naked” Rob Smith
In 2013, the series “The Goldbergs” created by Adam F. Goldberg (“Breaking In”) aired on television.
Starring Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Brides Maids”, “Reno 911!”), Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Daddy Day Care”), George Segal (“Look Who’s Talking”, “The Cable Guy”), Haley Orrantia, Troy Gentile (“Nacho Libre”, “Drillbit Taylor”, “Good Luck Chuck”), Sean Giambrone (“I Heart Shakey”, “Clarence”) and narration by Patton Oswalt (“The King of Queens”, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”).
With a third season to air on ABC, the second season which consists of 24-episodes, will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
“The Goldbergs” is a comedy set in the 1980’s and is based on the life of series-creator Adam F. Goldberg (at the end of each episode are real life video camera footage that Adam filmed of him and his family from the ’80s).
The series takes place in Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania and features Murray Goldberg (portrayed by Jeff Garlin) as the furniture salesman and family patriarch, the intruding but loving mother Beverly (portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey).
Both Murry and Beverly are parents to the popular and rebellious Erica (portrayed by Hayley Orrantia), the always trying hard but very naive, mama’s boy Barry (portrayed by Troy Gentile) and the young but mature for his age, Adam Goldberg (portrayed by Sean Giambrone).
The family are often visited by the children’s grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon (portrayed by George Segal), who tries to help when he sees his daughter Beverly getting too involved in the kid’s lives.
In season two, there are some life changes in the Goldberg family as both Adam and Barry have girlfriends, Murray makes a new friend, Beverly wants to be involved with Erica’s life and more!
The following is a spoilerless summary of the second season of “The Goldbergs”:
- EPISODE 24 – Adam creates a mix tape for his girlfriend by his mom thinks the mix tape is for her.
- EPISODE 25- Adam isn’t cast for the main role for the school musical and his mother decides to do something about it.
- EPISODE 26 – Adam and Barry form a garage band but Erica and her best friend end up taking over.
- EPISODE 27 – Adam is desperate to join Barry’s group of friends, so what happens when the group expect Adam to change their school grades by hacking into the school?
- EPISODE 28 – Beverly (mom) feels that she is being abandoned because she is getting old.
- EPISODE 29 – Adam is hurt in dodgeball and now his mother is set to do something about it.
- EPISODE 30 – It’s a Goldbergs Thanksgiving.
- EPISODE 31 – Adam gets hurt by singing George Michael’s “Faith” and tries to come up with an alibi of how he got hurt.
- EPISODE 32 – Barry is selected by a scout to become a model.
- EPISODE 33 – Adam and Barry tease Erica about being a New Kids on the Block fan
- EPISODE 34 – Erica is not happy that Barry is spending too much time with her best friend, so she tries to break them up and tries to find him a date for the Sadie Hawkins dance.
- EPISODE 35 – Murray comes with Barry to meet his girlfriend’s father.
- EPISODE 36 – Erica and Barry become rebellious and purchase a van.
- EPISODE 37 – Adam and Barry want to experience “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
- EPISODE 38 – What happens when Beverly (mom) ruins a health class assignment.
- EPISODE 39 – Adam gets lost in Veteran’s Stadium.
- EPISODE 40 – It’s April Fool’s Day and a feud between brothers develops when jokes go too far.
- EPISODE 41 – Adam deals with the fallout when a bad beer experience ruins his birthday party.
- EPISODE 42 – Beverly intervenes in trying to help raise Adam’s Spanish grade.
- EPISODE 43 – Erica and Beverly square off during the presidential election.
- EPISODE 44 – Adam tricks his father into buying him a sword.
- EPISODE 45 – Erica, Barry and his girlfriend try to prepare for “Dance Party USA”.
- EPISODE 46 – Murray starts to hang out with Barry’s girlfriend’s father more.
- EPISODE 47 – Erica prepares to leave town for the summer and Barry becomes the school’s mascot.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Goldbergs: The Complete Second Season” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality on DVD is very good as the series is broken up in three discs. Audio quality is good with clear dialogue. I did not notice any artifacts or any problematic issues during my viewing of the series.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“The Goldbergs: The Complete Second Season” comes with the following special features:
- On Location with Sean Giambrone – (9:40) Sean Giambrone (Adam) discusses his day of shooting “The Lost Boy” episode.
- Deleted Scenes – (5:39) Featuring eight deleted scenes.
- Making Barry Goldberg’s Day Off – (9:25) The making of “Barry Goldberg’s Day Off” and how it was inspired by “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
- Gag Reel – (4:37) The gag reel for the second season of “The Goldbergs”.
- Deleted Scenes – (4:07) Eight deleted scenes.
- On the Set with Wendi McLendon-Covey – (11:36) A featurette with a day at the studio with Wendi McLendon-Covey.
- Deleted Scenes – (3:32) Featuring nine deleted scenes.
“The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season” comes with a slipcover.
As a child of the ’80s and having experienced the fads, the music, the clothing, the toys of that time period, how awesome and fresh is it to find a TV show that incorporates the pop culture of that timeline but making it accessible for today’s generation and also for those who grew up during that time period.
And to find out that the Goldberg’s are modeled after series creator, Adam F. Goldberg’s life and being treated with actual video camera footage, how cool is that?
But there is so much to enjoy about this coming-of-age comedy series. Many of us can sympathize with young Adam Goldberg because we grew up with the amazing toys of the ’80s such as the Transformers (in season two, Adam anguishes over the death of Optimus Prime after watching “The Transformers: The Movie”) and also grew up watching movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, which both the character Adam and Barry try to re-enact and also the well-known scene from “Say Anything”.
But while the series does jump different years during the ’80s, it still tries to capture the ’80s through music and pop culture. From MTV, the popularity of the “A-Team”, the popularity of the Nintendo Power Glove (and how it really never worked all that well), the popularity of New Kids on the Block and the old dance show, “Dance Party USA”.
This is pop culture that I grew up with and it’s brought to the masses tastefully to the point that you can’t help but be entertained. In fact, my 12-year-old wanted to join and watch a marathon of all the episodes in the second season for the weekend because he also enjoyed the series and the humor as well.
But what makes this series work so well is its characters.
While Adam is the level-headed, trying to figure out life young teen, Barry is that awkward guy that many of us guys had seen or had similar experiences that were just as awkward. Trying to fit in, trying to be cool, being a wannabe breakdancer or rapper, Barry is that awkward side that many of us get embarrassed by watching, but knowing that he’s cool in his own way at times, despite others thinking that he is a bit uncool.
Both Goldberg brothers make major headways in the second season as they both get girlfriends and it’s interesting because of the shenanigans that take place.
And you have the popular sister, the often medling mother and the father who just wants to be cool, relax after a hard day at work (and likes to drop his pants before sitting and watching television) but is also more than often having to be the husband trying to prevent his wife from doing something embarrassing to their children, as she wants to often meddle in their affairs. And of course, you have the cool grandfather with “Pops”, who also tries to play things cool with the kids.
Each of the talent does a great job in portraying their character and all 25 episodes of “The Goldbergs” have been nothing but entertaining and fun and definitely one of my favorite comedy series on television. In fact, the writing is much better in season two and everyone is in sync. I really enjoyed this second season a lot!
As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good and you get a good number of audio commentary and special features are included. While you get featurettes, unfortunately gone are the audio commentaries. But still, you get featurettes and we get to learn more about Sean Giambrone and Wendi McLendon-Covey this time around.
Overall, “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Second Season” is highly recommended!
A fascinating look-back into a different world which Agnes Varda captured of California during the late ’60s and early ’80s, “Agnes Varda in California” are documentaries and experimental films from the French filmmaker worth watching. And yet another wonderful set included in the Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series.
Image courtesy of
TITLE: Agnes Varda in California – Eclipse Series #43
YEAR OF FILM: Uncle Yanco (1967), Black Panther (1968), Lions Love (…and Lies) (1969), Murs Murs (1980), Documenteur (1981)
DURATION: Uncle Yanco (19 minutes), Black Panther (28 minutes), Lions Love (…and Lies) (112 minutes), Murs Murs (82 minutes), Documenteur (65 minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: color, English and French with English subtitles, 1:37:1 and 1:66:1 aspect ratio
COMPANY: The Criterion Collection
RELEASED DATE: August 11, 2015
Lions Love (…and Lies) (1969)
Directed by Agnes Varda
Written by Agnes Varda
Produced by Agnes Varda
Music by Joseph Byrd
Cinematography by Stevan Larner
Edited by Robert Dalva, Carolyn Hicks
Art Direction by Jack Wright III
Mur Murs (1981)
Written and Directed by Agnes Varda
Cinematography by Nurith Aviv
Edited by Bob Gould, Sabine Mamou
Written and Directed by Agnes Varda
Cinematography by Nurith Aviv, Affonso Beato, Bob Carr
Music by Georges Delerue
Edited by Bob Gould, Sabine Mamou
Lions Love (…and Lies)
Viva as Viva
Gerome Ragni as Jim
James Rado as Jerry
Mur Murs (1980)
Juliet Berto as La Visiteuse
Sabine Mamou as Emilie Cooper
Mathieu Demy as Martin Cooper
Lisa Blok-Linson as Lisa, l’amie
Tina Odom as Tina, la serveuse
Gary Feldman as L’ecrivain a sa fenetre
Tom Taplin as Tom Cooper
The legendary French filmmaker Agnès Varda (Cléo from 5 to 7), whose remarkable career began in the 1950s and has continued into the twenty-first century, produced some of her most provocative works while living on the West Coast of the United States. After temporarily relocating from France to California in the late sixties with her husband, Jacques Demy, so that he could make his first Hollywood film, Varda became entranced by the politics, youth culture, and sunshine of the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, and created documentary explorations and fictional narratives—sometimes within the same film. She returned a decade later, and made more fascinating portraits of outsiderness. Her five revealing, entertaining California films, encompassing shorts and features, are collected in this set, which demonstrates that Varda was as deft an artist in unfamiliar terrain as she was on her own turf.
3-DVD BOX SET INCLUDES:
UNCLE YANCO BLACK PANTHERS Agnès Varda’s first California films were two short documentaries made in the San Francisco Bay Area, one personal, the other political. In Uncle Yanco, Varda tracks down a Greek emigrant relative she’s never met in Sausalito. In Black Panthers, she turns her camera on an Oakland demonstration protesting the imprisonment of activist and Black Panthers cofounder Huey P. Newton. These films chart a course from the delightful to the urgent, each in its own way revealing Varda’s curious, empathetic nature.
LIONS LOVE (. . . AND LIES) Agnès Varda goes to Los Angeles, taking New York counterculture with her. In a rented house in the sun-soaked Hollywood hills, a woman and two men—Viva, of Warhol Factory fame, and James Rado and Gerome Ragni, who created and starred in the rock musical Hair—delight in each others’ bodies while musing on love, stardom, and politics. They are soon joined by underground director Shirley Clarke, playing herself as well as functioning as a surrogate for Varda. Lions Love (. . . and Lies) is a metacinematic inquiry into the alternating currents of whimsy and tragedy that typified late sixties America.
MUR MURS DOCUMENTEUR After returning to Los Angeles from France in 1979, Agnès Varda created two films, different in form and tone yet complexly interwoven. Mur Murs is a kaleidoscopic documentary about the striking murals that decorate the city; Documenteur is a small-scale fiction about a divorced mother and her child (played by Varda’s own son) living a quiet existence on L.A.’s margins. Taken together, these films, with their overlapping images and ideas, sketch a portrait of a metropolis at once sprawling and isolating, bursting with life and haunted by loneliness.
In 1954, Agnès Varda in her late ’20s had a passion about novels and had dreams of wanting to direct her own film.
But in France, one must go through protocol and having learn the ropes of becoming a director.
Varda never watched many films, she never went to film school but she knew what she wanted to do and that was make a film. Varda was inspired by William Faulkner’s novel “The Wild Palms” (also known as “If I Forget Thee Jerusalem”) and how the novel would focus on two unrelated stories, one about a couple and another about two escaped convicts.
In Varda’s screenplay, her story would focus on a couple and a fishing town in the Port of Sète where Varda and family lived during wartime and would visit every summer. The location would be the setting for “La Pointe Courte”.
So, she and her mother put in around $14,000 of her own money and Varda recruited two thespian friends Silvia Monfort as Elle and Philippe Noiret as Lui to play a couple and the residents of the fishing village to play a part in the film.
All actors and talent would volunteer their time for this film and she would work with a short crew which included filmmaker and well-known film editor, Alain Resnais (Hiroshima mon amour”, “Last Year at Marienbad”). And thus, Varda’s low-budget independent film “La Point Courte” was made.
The film would be known for bucking traditional filmmaking, showcasing a creative style of filmmaking before Nouvelle Vague and during its run at Cannes International Film Festival and screened to the intellectual cineaste, the film would receive critical praise and Varda a few years later would receive the distinction as one of the primary filmmakers, let alone a female filmmaker, who would inspire the French New Wave.
Also, giving her the title of “Grandmother of the French New Wave” (or “Ancestor of the French New Wave”).
Back in 2007, The Criterion Collection celebrated Varda’s career by releasing a DVD box set titled “4 by Agnès Varda” featuring “La Pointe Courte” and the three films: “Clèo from 5 to 7″, “Vagabond” and “Le Bonheur”.
In 2015, The Criterion Collection will once again release another set through their Eclipse Series line titled “Agnes Varda in California – Eclipse Series #43”.
The set will feature five films: “Uncle Yanco” (1967), “Black Panthers” (1968), “Lions Love (…And Lies” ) (1969), “Mur Murs” (1980) and “Documenteur” (1981).
Each of these films were restored in 2013 at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with The Film Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Cine-Tamaris.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
Each of these films were restored in 2013 at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with The Film Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Cine-Tamaris. Overall, picture quality depends on each film but watching the DVD on my 4K TV, I felt that all films especially “Uncle Yanco”, “Black Panthers” and “Lions Love (…And Lies)” look very good on DVD. There is a good amount of grain and noise, especially for “Documenteur”.
Audio is crystal clear and I didn’t detect any significant hiss.
Subtitles are in English.
Eclipse Series DVD’s unfortunately do not come with any special features. But with each DVD, there is an insert of information or information printed on the interior DVD cover (which can be read since the DVD slim cases are clear) on the film.
“Agnes Varda in California – Eclipse Series #43” is a fascinating set featuring five films directed by Agnes Varda during her time in California. Included are “Uncle Yanco” (1967), “Black Panthers” (1968), “Lions Love (…And Lies” ) (1969), “Mur Murs” (1980) and “Documenteur” (1981).
The first three films were shot when she and her husband, actor Jacques Demy temporarily relocated to California after his success starring in the film “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”. The last two films when she returned back to California in the early ’80s.
But during the late ’60s, Varda was able to capture the youth movement and also culture that was the sign of the times.
In the 1967 short film “Uncle Yanco”, a fictional tale in which Agnes Varda plays herself, looking for a relative that she has never met, a Greek emigrant living in the boathouse area in Sausalito.
While author Phil Frank has done a wonderful job covering the history of the boathouses in his 2008 book “Houseboats of Sausalito”, Agnes Varda’s film is a wonderful snapshot of Sausalito during the late-’60s.
While “Uncle Yanco” was conceived by Varda in a few days after meeting Yanco, it’s a fascinating short film showcasing Yanco’s artwork but also the city of Sausalito.
The second film featured is “Black Panthers” which Agnes Varda shot in 1968. This is a documentary capturing the African American radical movement of the Black Panthers and was intended for a French television network, but never aired. But the film would give people a voice and the concerns of African Americans at that time. In this case, the protest against the imprisonment of African American activist Huey P. Newton.
The third film “Lions Love (…And Lies)” is a fascinating film for its time. Varda who called the film an “amorphous meditation on late-sixties American counterculture and politics) but a film about the carefree living of three individuals in Los Angeles in 1969.
Showcasing actress Viva (best known for starring in Andy Warhol’s experimental films), James Rado and Gerome Ragni, the three play themselves as they sleep together, have sex together and have fun, living free. And are asked by actual underground filmmaker Shirley Clarke, that she wants to shoot them.
In some ways, this film is experimental as it seems that it’s a documentary but it’s a film, as we see a brief flash as the video features underground filmmaker Shirley Clarke, but then suddenly for a brief few seconds, it changes to Agnes Varda wearing the same outfit.
But the film tries to capture the reality of the three individuals, from driving around Los Angeles (which the film is no doubt a time stamp of LA during the late ’60s) but also the reactions to the people during the news coverage of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, to possibly a re-enactment of Hollywood execs discussing the budget of Clarke’s film and whether a director should have artistic control over the final cut of the film.
In many ways, the film is fictional, but also it’s not. The situations that inspired the film are based on Agnes Varda’s real-life dilemma when she was in negotiations with Columbia Pictures for a scene she had written called “Peace and Love” and refused to grant her creative control on the final cut of the film.
In the fourth film “Mur Murs”, which was shot in 1980, and a return by Agnes Varda to Los Angeles. During her stay in Los Angeles, she created “Mur Murs”, a documentary of the large-scale murals around Los Angeles. The murals featured are those located in Mexican and African American communities and Varda interviews those who have painted the murals and learn the reason of what inspired these people to create them.
In the final fifth film featured in “Agnes Varda in California – Eclipse Series #43”, “Documenteur” is a drama with a documentary feel. The film revolves around a divorced mother named Emilie (portrayed by her editor, Sabine Mamou) and her young so, Martin (portrayed by her son, Mathieu Demy), living together in a house on the beach.
Varda has called the film “the shadow of the first one…what you don’t see in Los Angeles, the nowhere city inside the city”.
But the film is no doubt self-reflective as Varda at the time was separated from Jacques Demy, living alone with her son in Venice Beach and trying to live life in California during tough times in her personal life.
Among these films, among my favorites were “Uncle Yanco” as it showcased Sausalito during the late ’60s (which was great to see!), “Black Panthers” was a fascinating look at African American activism during the late ’60s, while “Lions Love (…And Lies)” was fascinating for its bohemian, free living among its characters but also seeing the experimental touches that Varda added to the film, to show that the film is also part of her life.
While “Mur Murs” and “Black Panthers” are more documentary in style, “Documenteur” is a different style of film as it looks like a documentary in terms of how the film was created, but the more you watch, you can’t help but see the sadness depicted in the film, no doubt, possibly how Varda felt living alone with her young son Mathieu (who also plays the main son, Martin, in the film).
The film no doubt resonates with you in terms of how the character is so isolated in Los Angeles, yet trying to do what she can to make her son happy. It is visually poetic but yet the opposite of “Lions Love (…And Lies)”, which was created over a decade earlier.
For any cineastes who are expecting Varda ala Nouvelle Vague, each of these films are nothing like her French films. If anything, “Agnes Varda in California” is a set showcasing Varda’s interest in the youth culture of the late ’60s, the Los Angeles community and its murals during the ’80s through documentaries. While we get two films that are self-reflective and are drawn from Varda’s own personal experiences at the time.
A fascinating look-back into a different world which Agnes Varda captured of California during the late ’60s and early ’80s, “Agnes Varda in California” are documentaries and experimental films from the French filmmaker worth watching. And yet another wonderful set included in the Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series.
“One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two” is an another action-packed volume as the Straw Hat Pirates take on their most powerful adversary yet, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Bartholomew Kuma and we will see the group in a position that they have never been in before! Exciting and if you are a “One Piece” fan, worth watching! Recommended!
Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two
DURATION: Episodes 397-409 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)
DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo
RATED: TV 14
Release Date: September 1, 2015
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
Izo Oikawa/Philip Weber as Iceburg
Takahiro Yoshimizu/David Wald as Paulie
Bin Shimada/Jonathan Brooks as Foxy the Pirate
Tomokazu Seki/Jason Liebricht as Rob Lucci
Masaya Onosaka/Christopher Corey Smith as Spandam
Kumiko Watanabe/Alexis Tipton as Fukuro
Naomi Shindo/Shelley Calene-Black as Kalifa
Hiroaki Yoshida/Andrew Love as Kumadori
Ryotaro Okiayu/Alex Organ as Kaku
Masaya Takatsuka/Phil Parsons as Jabura
Luffy turns a mermaid auction into a pirate-style brawl when he knocks the snot out of a celestial dragon. The punch heard ’round the island may have saved Camie, but it lands the Straw Hats squarely in the sights of an entire fleet of marines! A little help from fellow pirates Trafalgar Law and Eustass Captain Kid buys the crew some breathing room, but the situation goes from bad to worse when an army of Kuma-clone Pacifistas make their presence felt. Throw in some Light Speed Kicks from Admiral Kizaru and Senfomaru’s battle axe, and things couldn’t get much worse for the Straw Hats.
Or could they? Luffy is forced to watch in horror as the real deal Bartholomew Kuma makes his beloved friends vanish one by one until the rubberman ends up a lonely castaway on the island of Amazon Lily!
The Sabaody Archipelago Chapter continues as the Straw Hats entered Fishman Island and they get more than they ask for when they met an old enemy Hatchan, his friends Camie and Papagg (a first mate of Gold Roger), Silvers Rayleigh and the 9 rookie pirates known as 11 Supernovas.
But what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates are attacked by Bartholomew Kuma, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea?
Find out in “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two”, available now from FUNimation!
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 17th season and a total of 705 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 2015, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two” (Episodes 397-409), available in September, courtesy of FUNimation.
“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.
So far, in “One Piece”, the group has entered Fishman Island and meet an old enemy, Hatchan and his friends Camie and Papagg. But also the first mate of Gold Roger, Silvers Rayleigh and also 9 rookie pirates known as the “11 Supernovas”.
The Straw Hat Pirates find out that their mermaid friend, Camie is being sold off in an auction and they must rescue her. News from the World Government arrives that they are going to execute the captured Portgas D. Ace, a move that could provoke a war with Whitebeard.
But what happens when the team fights for their life against Bartholomew Kuma, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea?
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.
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.
“One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two” comes with the following special features:
- EPISODE 398 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Justin Cook (voice of Eustass Kidd) and voice actress Luci Christian (voice actress of Nami).
- One Piece in the Booth: With Sonny Strait – (22:10) Featuring an interview between Joel McDonald (ADR Director/Line Producer) and Sonny Strait (voice actor of Usopp).
- Episode 405 Commentary – ADR Director Joel McDonald with voice talent (with Supernovas) Laura Wetsel (Jewelry Bonney) and Major Attaway (Urouge).
- Textless Opening – Textless opening song for “Share the World”
- Trailers – Trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.
With the release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two”, the episodes will complete season 11 and begin season 12 and continues the Sabaody Archipelago Chapter as the Straw Hat Pirates try to save their good friend, Camie who is being auctioned off.
But possibly one of the coolest action-driven arcs as we see the Straw Hat Pirates go against one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Bartholomew Kuma. And suffice to say, things do not bode well for our favorite pirates.
While I don’t want to spoil what happens at the end of the Sabaody Archipelago Arc, by episode 408-409, this kicks off season 12 and is a single story arc titled “Maiden Island” and is based on vol. 53 & 54 of Oda Eiichiro’s manga.
But this is probably one of the arc’s to jump into because it becomes the starting point of Portgas D. Ace being captured by the New Government and is set to be executed. The other importance is the introduction to a new character that will play a prominent role in “One Piece”, her name is Boa Hancock.
This is a long story arc but as the storyline gets ready to jump into the Portgas D. Ace storyline, it’s one of the heaviest, action-packed storylines of “One Piece”, so it’s definitely an important for “One Piece” fans to definitely jump on the viewing bandwagon with “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two”.
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 also the latest “One Piece in the Booth” featuring Sonny Strait.
Overall, “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Two” is an another action-packed volume as the Straw Hat Pirates take on their most powerful adversary yet, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Bartholomew Kuma and we will see the group in a position that they have never been in before!
Exciting and if you are a “One Piece” fan, worth watching!
“The Seventh Dwarf” is a fun, adventurous animated film for the entire family!
DVD TITLE: The Seventh Dwarf
DURATION: 88 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescren (1:85:1), English/French Dolby Digital 5.1, Closed Captions
COMPANY: Shout! Factory
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Directed by Boris Aljinovic, Harald Sipermann
Written by Harald Siepermann, Daniel Welbat, Douglas Welbat
Producer: Douglas Welbat
Featuring the voices of:
Cameron Elvin as Speedy
Matt Gilbert as Tschakko
Joshua Graham as Bobo
Peyton List as Princess Rose
Norm MacDonald as Burner, the Dragon
Joe Marth as Cooky
Geoff May as Sunny
Al Parrish as Cloudy
It’s the eve of Princess Rose’s 18th birthday. Everyone in the kingdom has come to the castle to celebrate including Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood. But just before the stroke of midnight, Bobo, the youngest dwarf, accidentally pricks the finger of Princess Rose (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty) with a cursed needle and sends the kingdom into a century-long slumber! To find Rose’s true love, Jack, to save her with a kiss, Bobo and the other six dwarfs must go on a treacherous journey, face a fiery dragon and outwit the jealous, scheming and evil witch, Dellamorta!
From German actor/director Boris Aljinovic (“Seven Dwarfs”, “7 Dwarves: The Forest is Not Enough”) and character designer/writer Harald Siepermann (“Who Framed Roger Rabit”, “Tarzan”, “Brother Bear”) comes the animated film “The Seventh Dwarf” (Der 7bte Zwerg).
The film marks the final animated film written and directed by Harald Siepermann who passed away of cancer in 2013.
“The Seventh Dwarf” was also co-written by Daniel Welbat and Douglas Welbat and now “The Seventh Dwarf” will be released on DVD in August 2015 courtesy of Shout! Factory.
“The Seventh Dwarf” is set during a time when Princess Rose is set to celebrate her 18th birthday.
Her true love Jack and the Princess are trying to keep their relationship hidden because of the evil Dellamorta will do anything to put a curse on the princess.
She tells him that he is on the only one that can lift the curse if Dellamorta gets to her and the only way to help her is with a kiss. But he must stay safe from Dellamorta, in order to save her, so Princess Rose gives him a map for him to travel to an area of safety, and also a locket that plays music. But he must return after the 18th birthday celebration.
But as Jack goes to travel to the safe location, he runs into the youngest dwarf Bobo and when he plays the music on the locket, he immediately reveals his position to Dellamorta, who sends a dragon to capture him.
On the 18th birthday of the Princess, Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderalla and the Red Riding Hood come to celebrate with the Princess but when Dellamorta shows up, she tells Princess Snow of her plans to curse her.
Hoping for Jack to come and rescue her, she finds out that Jack has been kidnapped by Dellamorta and to make things worse, Bobo accidentally allows the Princess to get pricked in the finger, putting her into a curse.
Wanting to make things right, Bobo and the Seven Dwarfs go on a mission to rescue Jack and save the Princess.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Seventh Dwarf” is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (1:85:1) and in English/French Dolby Digital 5.1.
It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, “The Seventh Dwarf” is available on Blu-ray. But on DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD with DNR. Picture quality for the most part is good and the children will not mind. The film is colorful and objects and scenery are well-detailed and shaded.
Subtitles are in English SDH and also provided in Closed Captions.
“The Seventh Dwarf” comes with the following special features:
- Character Profiles – Text-based character profiles.
- Fairy Tales– (2:08) Featuring a behind-the-scenes recording with talents Peyton List and Norm Macdonald.
- Sing-Alongs – Featuring two songs “Cake” and “Friend”
- Royal Birthday Invitation – A PDF-based invitation that can be read when the DVD is put on a laptop or PC.
For those who grew up with animated films or fairy tales featuring the seven dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White will find “The Seventh Dwarf” to be an enjoyable animated film for the entire family.
A film made in Germany and showcasing American talent such as Peyton List and Norm MacDonald providing voices of the Princess and Burner, the Dragon, this tale is much different than the story tales which we grew up watching or reading and focuses on the adventures of seven dwarfs, especially the shy and clumsy Bobo, who try to make things right by going on a mission to find Jack, the only person who can awaken Princess Rose from her sleep.
But before they can do that, they must prepare themselves with a confrontation with a dragon before facing the evil Dellamorta.
While the animation should not be compared with the big budget Disney Pixar films (for visual graphics and deep storyline), for the most part, CG is well-done and the film has its own personal, unique style for character designs with a story that children and families will enjoy.
While the film is rated PG, due to the dark nature of its antagonist, Dellamorta and slight violence caused by a dragon, for the most part, the film is safe for children.
As for the DVD release, while picture quality is good, for those looking for better picture quality and audio will want to go for the Blu-ray release of this title. But the DVD looks good as one can expect on DVD and you get a few special features as well.
Overall, “The Seventh Dwarf” is a fun, adventurous animated film for the entire family!
“Robot Chicken: Season 7″ retains the adult humor and continues the craziness and bold parodies that the series is known for. While there are some sketches that will appeal to many of the people who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, for the most part, if you are into over-the-top, adult humor, especially involving toys and claymation characters, you’ll love this latest season of “Robot Chicken”!
DVD TITLE: Robot Chicken: Season 7
DURATION: (Episodes 121-139) 220 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Adult Swim
RATED: TV MA
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Directed by Zeb Wells
Written by Douglas Goldstein, Tom Root, Jordan Allen-Dutton, Zeb Wells, Matthew Ireland Beans, Rachel Bloom, Jason Reich, Mehar Sethi, Jessica Gao
Executive Producer: John Harvatine IV, Eric Towner
Co-Producer: Ethan Marak
Supervising Producer: Janet Dimon
Line Producer: Victoria L. Howard
Associate Producer: Nakia Trower
Music by Shawn Patterson
Cinematography by Helder Sun
Edited by Matt Mariska, Jenny McKibben
Casting by Ivy Isenberg
Art Direction by Trisha Gum
Featuring the voices of:
Adult Swim’s Emmy® Award-winning stop-motion animated series Robot Chicken returns on DVD with 20 all-new episodes from Season 7, including the now famous “Bitch Pudding Special”. Packed with hours of bonus content, Robot Chicken Season 7 will include 20 commentaries from show creators and cast, deleted animatics, outtakes, interviews, behind the scenes, and more.
In 2005, actor Seth Green (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Austin Powers” films) and Matthew Senreich along with writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root went on to create “Robot Chicken”.
Back when “ToyFare” was published, the magazine writers Senreich, Goldstein and Root would feature a humorous photo comic-strip and sure enough along with Green, the guys would create a sketch comedy featuring parodies of popular American pop culture using toys via stop-motion or claymation. Inspired by a dish at Kung Pao Bistro, “Robot Chicken” was born and it would air on Carton Network’s “Adult Swim” in 2005.
The show has won an Annie Award including three Academy Awards and as the series will continue for another eighth season on Adult Swim, the seventh season of “Robot Chicken” has been released on DVD in July 2014.
And this time around, the crew bring in more celebrities for voicework but also a few female writers for a fun and crazy season!
For those not familiar with “Robot Chicken”, each episode is about eleven minutes long and features a number of stop-motion and claymation skits. The episodes are not for children as their is profanity and adult discussions on each episode.
For the seventh season, there are a total of 20 episodes:
1. Bitch Pudding Special
2. G.I. Jogurt
3. Link’s Sausages
4. Secret of the Booze
5. Rebel Appliance
6. Legion of Super-Gyros
7. El Skeletorio
8. Snarfer Image
9. Up, Up and Buffet
11. Catdog on a Stick
12. Super Guitario Center
13. Noidstrom Rack
14. Stone Cold Steve Cold Stone
15. Walking Dead Lobster
16. The Hobbit: There and Bennigan’s
17. The Robot Chicken Lots of Holidays but Don’t Worry Christmas is Still in There Too so Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News Special
18. Batman Forever 21
19. Victoria’s Secret of Nimh
20. Chipotle Miserables
Plus the following specials “Bitch Pudding Special”, the 2013 Christmas special “Born Again Virgin Christmas Special” and the 2014 Christmas/New Year special “Lots of Holidays but Don’t Worry Christmas is Still in There Too so Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News Special”.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Robot Chicken: Season 7″ is presented in widescreen. While the series received an HD release last year, for the seventh season, the DVD releases is good as one can expect on DVD. The details can be seen on the toy and claymation figures but there are some jaggedness with animation and DNR is applied.
Dialogue is clear and understandable, while certain scenes with explosions have good dynamic range coming from the front channels. For the most part, the episodes are primarily front and center-channel driven.
Subtitles are in English SDH.
“Robot Chicken: Season 7” comes with the following special features:
- Commentary – All episodes come with audio commentary.
- The Ones That Got Away – (6:07) A featurette about sketches that got cut.
- Beneath Harv’s Beard – (6:54) John Harvatine IV gets a shave after losing a bet.
- Favorites from the Room – (4:00) The creators discuss their favorite sketches.
- The Gummy Bear Challenge – (5:01) A few of the staff members take the gummy bear challenge.
- Born Again Virgin Christmas Special – (11:10) The 2013 “Robot Chicken” Christmas special
- Stoopid Buddy Stodios Takes San Diego Comic Con – (4:02) The crew visits San Diego Comic Con.
- Cut Sketches – (18:04) The crew discuss some of their cut sketches and feature the sketches (with voice acting).
- The Making of Bitch Pudding Special – (4:21) A special feature about the making of the Strawberry Shortcake sketch character and how the fan demanded more of Bitch Pudding.
As a fan of “Robot Chicken”, the comedy around stop motion and action figures/toys was a fascinating and hilarious concept when it was first conceived and still remains crazy, hilarious and fun today!
Sure, the comedy is mature and each episode is about 11 minutes long but part of the allure is how much stop-motion and the amount of creativity that goes into the making for each small stop-motion story in each episode.
I haven’t personally counted on how many stop-motion toy skits there are per episode but I can imagine that the serious takes a long time just to create but most importantly, the creativity that comes into writing for each episode and trying to emulate what is seen on the script and making it happen and believable with the action figures and toys.
But with the seventh season of “Robot Chicken”, it’s even more crazy and raunchy as ever (yes, I know I say this every year).
You can expect a good number of crazy episodes in season 7 as Cobra wants to outdo G.I. Joe when it comes to PSA’s, watch what happens when Punky Brewster become evil, the crew of the video game “Punch Out” visits Doc’s funeral, a Star Trek parody, many “Masters of the Universe” skits, Superman visiting Santa Claus and more!
This seventh season DVD set also features the return of Bitch Pudding, the mean Strawberry Shortcake sketch character in her own special. The DVD also includes the hilarious and crazy Christmas and New Years special titled “Robot Chicken: Lots of Holidays but Don’t Worry Christmas is Still in There Too so Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News Special”, with one of the craziest parody of “The Chipmunks” which always makes me laugh, each time I have watched it. And also, the inclusion of the 2013 special which was not included on the season six Blu-ray or DVD.
As for the DVD release, this is a jam-packed and fans should love it as their are many hours of special features. For one, each episode has audio commentary, then there are a number of hilarious featurettes included and also many deleted sketches and more.
Once again, this is a series not for children. So, just because there are toys in stopmotion and claymation, there is a lot of profanity and adult humor featured on each episode.
Overall, “Robot Chicken: Season 7″ retains the adult humor and continues the craziness and bold parodies that the series is known for. While there are some sketches that will appeal to many of the people who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, for the most part, if you are into over-the-top, adult humor, especially involving toys and claymation characters, you’ll love this latest season of “Robot Chicken”!
A fascinating storyline after the Arrancar arc, we knew life would not be the same for Ichigo Kurosaki, and this latest volume shows how life 17-months later has been tough on him since losing his powers. If you have stayed with this series for the long haul, this second-to-last volume of “Bleach DVD: Original & Uncut” is worth watching!
Image courtesy of © Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Pierrot. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five – Original and Uncut
DURATION: Episodes 343-354 (288 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Originally created by Tite Kubo
Directed by Noriyuki Abe
Music by Shiro Sagisu
Character Design by Masashi Kudo
Art Director: Natsuko Suzuki, Sawako Takagi
Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Studio Pierrot
Featuring the following voice talent:
Fumiko Orikasa/Michelle Ruff as Rukia Kuchiki
Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Ichigo Kurosaki
Hiroki Yasumoto/Jamieson Price as Sado “Chad” Yasutora
Kentarou Itou/Wally Wingert as Abarai Renji
Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Hollow Ichigo
Noriaki Sugiyama/Derek Stephen Prince as Ishida Uryuu
Satsuki Yukino/Wendee Lee as Shihouin Yoruichi (human form)
Shinichiro Miki/Michael Lindsay as Urahara Kisuke
Yuki Matsuoka/Stephanie Sheh as Inoue Orihime
Kaya Matsutani/Megan Hollingshead as Rangiku Matsumoto
Nobuyuki Hiyama/Vic Mignogna as Ikkaku Madarame
Jun Fukuyama/Brian Beacock as Yumichika Ayasegawa
Romi Paku/Steve Staley as Toshiro Hitsugaya
A year has passed since Ichigo lost his Soul Reaper powers and resumed the life of a normal teenager. But those ordinary days come to an end when Ichigo meets a mysterious man named Kugo Ginjo, who offers to help him get his Soul Reaper powers back-and gives him only a day to decide! Ichigo is dead set against it, until Uryu is injured by an unknown attacker. Ichigo, powerless to help, turns to Ginjo and is introduced to the group Xcution, whose Fullbring powers Ichigo must face in battle if he ever hopes to get strong again!
Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager who has developed incredible powers has lost it all during his battle with Aizen 17-months earlier. Since then, he has kept him distant from his family and friends.
No powers, unable to feel the hollow’s spiritual energy, Ichigo Kurosaki feels that he is no use to anyone anymore. But will Ichigo ever recover his powers?
Find out what happens in “Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five” which features season 16 (episodes 343-354)!
So, what is “Bleach”?
“Bleach” is one of those titles, alongside “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball Z” that has managed to capture the attention of anime fans and continues to reinvent itself with new sagas and characters. Created in 2001 by mangaka Tite Kubo, the manga has been published on Weekly Shonen Jump and the animated series has been airing on Japanese television since 2004.
The series has manged to grow its fandom worldwide, especially in the US as the series has aired on television on the Cartoon Network and the various video games for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP have also been popular among the fans as well.
The manga series revolves around teenager Ichigo Kurosaki, who has the ability to see Soul Reapers (a military group that escorts the souls of the dead) and in this case, Ichigo has seen a female Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki. One day, a hollow (a monster that was once a human soul) has come to attack and when Rukia was injured, she transferred her spirit pressure to Ichigo in order for him to fight the hollow.
The series focused on Ichigo and Rukia’s friendship as somehow nearly all her spirit pressure had been transferred to Ichigo and stripping away her soul reaper power and thus Ichigo now has the power to take on the hollows while Rukia helps guide him through the battles with her knowledge. As Rukia temporarily lives with Ichigo, the two together battle hollows.
With the release of “Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five: Original and Uncut”, while the manga series continues after this arc, the anime series ends. So, this volume begins the 16th season and vol. 26 will be the final season of “Bleach” for the time being (these episodes were released in Japan back in 2012) and there may be a possibility of more episodes with the completion of the manga series.
In this latest volume, Ichigo has lost his power. While his friends continue to fight against the Hollows, including his sister Karin who has developed the power to see and fight Hollows, 17-months later and Ichigo is still down in the dumps. Feeling that the loss of power, he can’t do greater things to help the world like he used too. He also misses seeing his friends from the Soul Society and all he can do is participate in school activities and go to work.
But there is someone keeping his eye out for Ichigo and even Orihime senses that he is being followed. As does Uryu, and when he goes towards Ichigo’s home, Uryu sees someone running with unbelievable speed. And the person is not a Soul Reaper.
And by the time Uryu goes to catch him, the assailant injures him.
What is going on and who are these people with special abilities and who is following Ichigo?
The main characters of “Bleach” are:
- Ichigo Kurosaki – The main protagonist. A teenager who becomes a substitute soul reaper after absorbing Rukia’s powers. Accepting his new powers and wanting to protect everyone around him. Ichiro manages to grow in power with every battle he gets involved in.
- Rukia Kuchiki – A Soul Reaper who transferred her spiritual power to Ichigo.
- Orihime Inoue – A longtime classmate of Ichigo who is very caring and manages to develop her spiritual awareness and after her brother is killed by a hollow, she has managed to grow in power which is tied to a hairpin that her brother had given her.
- Yasutora “Chad” Sado – A friend of Ichigo and very quiet. Developed a sense of seeing hollows and eventually gaining a power of strength and a right arm that is literally a weapon to fight against hollows.
- Uryu Ishida – A classmate of Ichigo and a descendant of a priest group that hunted hollows known as Quincy. Earlier on, Uryu was a rival of Ichigo due to his hatred towards the Soul Reapers and eventually becomes friends with him.
- Kon – A modsoul who’s life soul is put into a stuffed lion. When Ichigo is a Soul Reaper, Kon takes over Ichigo’s body, so no one including Ichigo’s family knows that Ichiro is actually not there. Mostly a comedy-driven character known for his perverseness and always complaining about something.
- Kisuke Urahara – Owner of the Urahara shop and a former captain of the 12th Division in the Soul Society. He caught Aizen converting Soul Reapers to Visoreds but before he can save them, Aizen framed him for the crimes and Urahara fled to the real world.
- Yoruichi Shihoin – An old friend of Kisuke Urahara who can turn into a black cat. She is the former captain of the 2nd Division and former Commander in Chief of the Secret Mobile Corps.
- Renji Abarai – Lt. of the 6th Division in the Gotei 13 under Captain Byakuya Kuchiki. Known to be cocky about his skills, Renji cares deeply for Rukia and thus the reason why he is seen with Ichigo and friends.
- Byakuya Kuchiki – 28th head of the Kuchiki Clan and Captain of 6th Division in the Gotei 13. Stepbrother of Rukia.
- Toshiro Hitsugaya – Captain of the 10th Division in the Gotei 13.
- Rangiku Matsumoto – Lieutenant of the 10th Division of the Gotei 13.
If there is one thing that I’ve always enjoyed about “Bleach” is that for a TV series that is cranked out in Japan, the TV series features a good amount of detail in the background art. The series tends to really showcase quite a bit of locations and thus, not always reusing scenes.
Also, the character designs, despite not always being detailed, is shown great care by character designer Masashi Kudo who definitely respects the original illustrations of Tite Kubo. Some closeups are really well done and there is a good amount of focus on the actual animation during the battle sequences.
For a TV series, especially knowing how in Japan, many of these studios tend to crank them out because they have other deadlines taking on other series, “Bleach” continues to look very good.
As for picture quality, of course on DVD, you are going to see some softness, banding and edge enhancement but for the most part, picture quality is very good on DVD.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five – Original and Uncut” is presented in stereo English and Japanese. Both dialogue tracks are clear and understandable. For those with a modern receiver may want to set their setting to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English.
“Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five – Original and Uncut” comes with the following special features:
- Clean Opening and Ending – The clean opening and ending themes.
- Omake – The ending omake for episodes 343-354.
17-months after his battle with Aizen and losing all his powers, it’s interesting to see how dissatisfied he is with life because he can contribute and help out his friends. Being normal is starting to get on his nerves and he is starting to push family and friends away.
Without spoiling anything with this volume, what I can say is that someone is following Ichigo and there is a new group of supernatural people that have their eyes on not just Ichigo but also his friends. Something bad is going on and when one of them makes contact with Ichigo, looking for his father. Suffice to say, it’s driving Ichigo crazy because he can’t do anything to protect his family.
But when Uryu is severely injured, this puts Ichigo in a problematic situation. What can he do? And who are these mysterious individuals?
With this latest volume of “Bleach”, it sets up the final volume on DVD for now (the anime series ends with this season/arc). The storyline is no doubt a new chapter in the life of Ichigo Kurosaki. Powerless and now just a normal human being, you know that the lead protagonist can only be powerless for so long. The question is how will he get his powers back? These new mysterious people in town may have the answers that Ichigo has been looking for.
If you are a fan of “Bleach” and stood with this anime series from the very beginning or have followed the anime/manga series for a very long time , “Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five: Original and Uncut” features a new storyline not featured on the manga series and no doubt will entertain “Bleach” fans! A fascinating storyline after the Arrancar arc, we knew life would not be the same for Ichigo Kurosaki, and this latest volume shows how life 17-months later has been tough on him since losing his powers.
If you have stayed with this series for the long haul, this second-to-last volume of “Bleach DVD: Original & Uncut” is worth watching!