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Oreimo 2: Limited Edition Complete Box Set (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

September 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

oreimo-2a

“Oreimo 2″ is a fantastic conclusion to this fun and entertaining anime series!  “Oreimo 2: Limited Edition Complete Box Set” is recommended!


Image courtesy of © Tsukasa Fushimi/ASCII Media Workshop/OIP 2. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Oreimo 2: Limited Edition Complete Box Set

SERIES AIR DATE: 2013

DURATION: 13 Episodes (400 Minutes) + 3 ONA episodes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Letterboxed, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and Up

RELEASE DATE: August 5, 2014

Directed by Hiroyuki Kanbe

Originally created by Tsukasa Fushimi

Original Character Designs by Hiro Kanzaki

Series Composition by Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Satoru Kousaki

Character Designs by Hiroyuki Oda, Fumitoshi Oizaki, Gou Suzuki, Jimmy Stone, Kumi Ishii, Nozomi Goto, Shougo Hanagami, Toshifumi Akai

Art Director: Koji Okamoto

Anime Production: AIC/AIC Build

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayana Taketatsu as Kirino Kōsaka

Yūichi Nakamura as Kyōsuke Kōsaka

Akeno Watanabe as Yoshino Kōsaka

Fumihiko Tachiki as Daisuke Kōsaka

Hitomi Nabatame as Saori Bajiina

Kana Hanazawa as Ruri Gokou (Kuroneko)

Saori Hayami as Ayase Aragaki

Satomi Satou as Manami Tamura

Yukari Tamura as Kanako Kurusu/ Meruru / Kurara Hoshino

Kyousuke brings Kirino home from America where she attended a special track and field camp. Surrounded by her friends, Kirino gradually gets her life back to normal. In stark contrast to her friends is Kyousuke, who is unhappy with Kirino’s attitude towards him. She has been ignoring him since she came home, as if their relationship had gone back to how it had been a year earlier. But then Kirino does something for Kyousuke…

Sis-Con. The shortened word for “Sister Complex” and is typically showcased in anime as a strong brother and sister bond and of course, in extremes, it can be showcased as incestual relationships.

But “Sister Complex” has been featured in anime and while the most extreme form is usually reserved towards hentai anime, writer Tsukasa Fushimi along with illustrator Hiro Kanzaki decided to give a comedic, upbeat spin to the whole topic in their 2008 light novel series “Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai” (shortened name: “Oreimo”).

A manga adaptation of the light novel was featured on ASCII Media Works’ Dengeki G’s Magazine and in 2010, the 12-episode anime TV series received its anime adaptation, with four additional episodes streamed on the official website and on video streaming sites in the Spring of 2011.  Followed by a 13-episode sequel in 2013 and the three final ONA episodes.

Aniplex has released “Oreimo 2″ on DVD in the U.S. featuring a limited edition complete box set featuring all 13-episodes, 3 ONA episodes, 16 postcards, 44-page booklet, poster and 2-sided DVD cover.

What is “Oreimo” all about?

“Oreimo” is a series that takes place in Chiba and focuses on a 17-year-old named Kyosuke Kosaka.

Kyosuke and his 14-year-old sister Kirino have not gotten along for years and often wonders why he never is treated with kindness like other younger sisters and their brothers. In fact, each time she looks at him, it’s as if she is repulsed by him.

And the more he hears about younger sisters, it starts to tick him off.

But one day, while Kirino was leaving to join some friends, she accidentally drops a DVD of an anime series and inside the DVD is an eroge (erotic/adult) video game. This can’t possibly be Kirino’s DVD. Afterall, she is the top of her class, she is popular in school, she’s a track star, she’s a model and she has no connection to anime/video games at all.

But it does interest him to see if there is a possibility that the anime or game can be hers. So, when he starts to tease about the situation in front of Kirino, Kirino tries to pretend its not hers. So, when he asks if Kirino can throw it in the trash, she is unable to. And for the first time, Kyosuke’s little sister reveals her double life. She’s an otaku.

She loves a magical girl anime series and she is also an otaku that owns a lot of eroge and moe (hardcore fan of younger girl style of characters in anime, manga and video game series).

Afraid that her brother would blab about her secret otaku life, she is surprised that Kyosuke accepts her the way she is and has no problems with it. And because he is open to her sister’s hobby, it opens things up for a true brother and sister relationship that Kyosuke had wanted (as well as what Kirino has wanted).

So, Kyosuke tries to help his sister with her hobby by finding otaku friends which includes the mecha fan and “Anime Girls Unite!” club leader, Saori Makishima and Kuroneko, a girl who is a tsundere-type (a cold attitude) that dresses up in gothic lolita outfits and the complete opposite of Kirino (thus the two having a not-so-friendly relationship). Meanwhile, trying to balance her life with her real friends, fellow models Ayase Aragaki and Kanako Kurusu.

And for older brother, Kyosuke will do whatever it takes to have this strong relationship with his sister, but this relationship tends to freak Kirino’s friends who joke around that the two have a “Sis-Con” type of relationship.

“Oreimo 2″

For the sequel, “Oreimo 2″, Kyosuke wants to be be truthful about his feelings towards his sister Kirino, and Kirino the same for her older brother.  But what happens when Kyosuke’s female friends start to confess their love for him?

The main characters of “Oreimo” are:

  • Kyousuke Kosaka – The main character. A 17-year-old who lives a normal life and wants to have a real brother and sister relationship with his younger sister Kirino, but for years, she has acted as if she is repulsed by him. But he still wants to protect her and he starts to develop.
  • Kirino Kosaka – Kyousuke’s younger sister. She is mature for her age but acts very cold and even repulsed towards her older brother. She is a model, top student in her class, track star and is popular but she has a secret double life and that is that she is an otaku who is passionate towards a children’s anime series “Stardust Witch Meruru” and loves moe and eroge games. She often uses her modeling money to fund her hobby and tries her best to keep her hobbies secret from her friends. She is easily frustrated when Kysouke is around other girls, especially towards Manami.
  • Manami Tamura – Kyousuke’s childhood friend. Manami is a girl with glasses and is described as being a plain, normal girl. She likes Kyousuke and her family tries to do all they can to get Kyousuke and Mani together alone. Kyousuke thinks that Manami’s mannerisms are like an older lady.
  • Saori Makishima – The leader of “Anime Girls Unite!”. A big Gundam fan, big otaku with big glasses and has a great body. Always trying to keep the balance between Kirino and Kuroneko.
  • Ruri Goko/Kuroneko – The complete opposite of Kirino. She loves dark things, can’t stand sugary magical girl anime and it leads her to be at odds with Kirino. She is also the older sister two two younger sisters and envy’s Kirino of having an older brother who takes care of her. So, she starts calling Kyousuke “nii-san” (brother).
  • Ayase Aragaki – Kirino’s best friend, classmate and a fellow model. She’s rather quiet but when someone lies at her, she gets very upset and violent. She dislikes Kyousuke, thinking that he is responsible for Kirino being an otaku.
  • Kanako Kurusu – Kirino’s friend, classmate and fellow model. She has a photographic memory when it comes to memorizing songs. She also has a bratty attitude.
  • Daisuke Kosaka/Yoshino Kosaka – Daisuke is Kyousuke and Kirino’s strict father and Yoshino is their loving mother.
  • Kohei Akagi – Kyousuke’s classmate who also tries to support his sister’s otaku hobby.
  • Sena Akagi – Kohei’s younger sister who is a brainiac when it comes to programming and fixing glitches in games. She’s also hardcore into yaoi (guy and guy action) and often has dreams of her guy friends doing yaoi things to each other.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Oreimo 2″ is presented in 16:9 LB and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0.

AIC has done a solid job with the animation for “Oreimo” in the fact that it’s one of those series that doesn’t reuse scenes constantly over and over again. Each scene, it’s like there is something new for the characters and the colors are vibrant and for the most part, the characters are often mobile, going outdoors, going to events, so it’s a pretty cool series when it comes to the overall look.

I also like the creative endings shown after each series and showcasing various artistic styles. And the styles are featured in the included postcards that come with the “Oreimo 2″ limited edition box set.

As for the audio, the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. For me, I chose to have stereo on all channels in order to have a more immersive soundtrack but for the most part, audio is crystal clear and the optional English subtitles are easy to read.

So, for the most part, I was pleased with the anime series and I hope that maybe Aniplex considers this title for a future Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Oreimo 2″ comes with the following special features:

  • SD Character Preview – (6:32) SD versions of the characters Kyousuke and Kirino.
  • Galge Style Short Movies: New Year’s First Shrine Visit/Valentine’s Day – (44:08) In Eroge fashion, the story plays out like an erotic video game with two different storylines (note: A lot of reading with some vocals).
  • Web Previews
  • Textless opening and ending themes

EXTRAS:

And this is where Aniplex really went all out! Included in the “Oreimo 2: Limited Edition Complete Box Set” are the following items: 16 postcards, 44-page booklet of character designs and original DVD/BD cover gallery,  Original Poster, 2-Sided DVD Cover.

oreimo-2b

Fun, hilarious and highly entertaining… “Oreimo 2″ was rather interesting because the writers really tried to escalate the taboo nature of the sister complex that Kyousuke had for his sister.

If anything, the writers knew rather well how people would feel about the series as we see brother and sister become closer until the final episode when all is revealed and you can’t help but feel content of how the writers managed to conclude the series.

But I have to admit, there were times when I was saying to myself, “oh…don’t go there!” but I’m glad I stuck with this series from beginning to end.

If you stuck with both the first series and this second, “Oreimo” ended up being is a fun and hilarious take on an otaku lifestyle and one brother wanting to reconnect with his younger sister and have that brother and sister bond that he had desperately wanted for years. And when big brother Kyousuke discovers younger sister, Kirino’s secret otaku lifestyle, it ends up bringing the two together and possibly helping build that bond between brother and sister that had been lost for years.

In anime series, you often see the younger sister taking care of the older sibling when it comes to waking them up for school, serving them food and it’s a part of Japanese pop culture that I have seen in dramas, anime and manga series. Where there is a bit more family support as opposed to the individual perspective that we see in America.

When I think about it…sure, we used to see brother and sister bonding on ’70s and ’80s shows such as “The Brady Bunch”, “Diff’rent Strokes”, “Mr. Belvedere” and “Growing Pains” but the more I think about it today, those type of series have disappeared from American television. But in Japan, television still tries to show the connection between family especially between brothers and sisters and “Oreimo” tries to incorporate that.

And because these two are constantly arguing with each other, they do want to very much have a brother and sister relationship and because it seems anything but normal, their friends wonder what is up with these two and thus the “sister complex” jokes come up, especially since Kirino is into those type of video games that are moe and eroge.

And despite those games not being so “cool” or even disturbing for Kyousuke, he is open to playing them with his sister because it’s a big step in creating that brother and sister bond.

And of course, there is that otaku-lifestyle that the anime series tends to touch upon. We have seen it on series such as “Genshiken” and the otaku-lifestyle, especially one having a cool and popular lifestyle but then having otaku inspired tastes. Sure, there are stereotypes that all otaku are nerds but even I know a few people who try not to have those interests hidden and keep it a secret.

And in the case of both Kyosuke and Kirino, both have an obsession for eroge (erotic video games).  So, it was rather fascinating to see how this series would play out in the end.

But it’s the way the stories are handles that makes it quite fun. But it’s the final three episodes that were not televised, that was rather interesting.  And by episode 16, one can understand why these last three episodes were not televised but at the same time, all was necessary to provide closure for the series.  And once again, I was quite content with how this series ended.

For those curious about “Oreimo 2″, one should not worry about any brother and sister action, this is not that type of series. Granted, there are moments where the two seem like they are going to engage into something unusual but the writers make sure that they tease the viewer than actually having the characters go through with any action. There is no sister complex scenes but possibly one when Kyousuke is holding a package that Kirino wants and the two fight over it that they fall. And of course, we get the fan service panty shot and Kyousuke landing on top of his sister while his hand happens to be on her breast while her friends look in shock.

That is probably the only scene where brother and sister get into any certain situations but outside of that, it’s a pretty tame anime series but it does have some mature language and a few fan service moments. But for the most part, for those wondering if it’s a sister complex anime series, “Oreimo” and “Oreimo 2″ is not that type of series. The writers joke around the topic it but never gets serious.

As mentioned, you get all 13-episodes of the TV series, plus the three  episodes that were only shown on the Website. But with this limited edition complete box set, you also get postcards, a booklet, poster and an irreversible cover.

While I did enjoy this series, if I had to think up of some negatives, it’s the fact that the series does not come with an English dub soundtrack. For me, I’m more biased towards watching anime in Japanese but I know a lot who are biased towards English dubs. The other thing that I can think of is for those who are wanting an HD release of this series. It’s out in Japan and I wouldn’t be surprised if Aniplex does consider this series for Blu-ray in the near future. I hope they do because there are not too many upbeat series like this out on Blu-ray in the U.S.

Overall, there’s nothing I can complain about this box set or the anime series. It was very entertaining and fun to watch and it’s probably one of the more fun anime comedies I have seen in recent years, especially one that is presented with so much fan swag. How awesome is that?

“Oreimo 2″ is a fantastic conclusion to this fun and entertaining anime series! “Oreimo 2: Limited Edition Complete Box Set” is recommended!

 

PURCHASE THIS DVD FROM RIGHTSTUF or BANDAI STORE

 

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

August 31, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

thegoldbergs

“The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious comedy that I look forward to watching and I can’t wait for season two! “The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season” is recommended!

© 2013, 2014 Sony Pictures Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2014

DURATION: 23 Episodes (495 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 9, 2014

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

Starring:

Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg

Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg

Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg

Hayley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg

George Segal as Albert “Pops” Solomon

Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg

Patton Oswalt as the Narrator

Virginia Gardner as Lexy Bloom

Natalie Alyn Lind as Dana Caldwell

Reagan was in the White House, the malls were filled with New Wave fashionistas and the Goldbergs were living large in the ‘80s. Documenting his hilariously combative, yet loving family with a video camera nearly as big as he is, 11-year-old geek Adam (Sean Giambrone) is witness to all kinds of insanity from his over-protective, over-the-top mom (Wendi McLendon-Covey), quick-tempered dad (Jeff Garlin), rebellious sister (Hayley Orrantia), high-strung brother (Troy Gentile) and super suave grandfather (George Segal).

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 second season to air on ABC, the first season which consists of 23-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 footage that Adam filmed of his family when he was young).

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 popular 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) who is now starting to discover girls for the first time.

The family are often visited by the children’s grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon (portrayed by George Segal).

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

  • EPISODE 1 – Barry wants to get a car for his 16th birthday.
  • EPISODE 2- Beverly takes Adam to shop for school clothes.
  • EPISODE 3 – Adam and Pops attend a Rated R film and Beverly disapproves of it.
  • EPISODE 4 – Dam and Barry discover a secret channel on television.
  • EPISODE 5 – Eric, Barry and Adam discover their father’s letters for his ex-girlfriend.
  • EPISODE 6 – It’s Halloween and Barry wants to impress the girl of his dreams at a party.  But what happens when mom crashes the party?
  • EPISODE 7 – Barry receives his driver’s license and Beverly sets some important rules for him.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Goldbergs meet the Kremp family who just moved across the street.
  • EPISODE 9 – Murray’s brother comes to visit the family for Thanksgiving.
  • EPISODE 10 – Erica’s job is in trouble when her mom keeps abusing the employee discount.
  • EPISODE 11 – Will the Goldberg’s perform at the talent show?
  • EPISODE 12 – Beverly complains that Pops spends too much time at their home.
  • EPISODE 13 – Beverly takes on her arch rival, Betsy Rubenstone.
  • EPISODE 14 – Adam and Dana attend their first dance.
  • EPISODE 15 – Will Beverly trust herErica to go shopping with a friend?
  • EPISODE 16 – An episode inspired by “The Goonies”.
  • EPISODE 17 – Adam tries to improve his Ice Hockey skills.
  • EPISODE 18 – What happens when Beverly donates Murray’s favorite easy chair to the Goodwill Store.
  • EPISODE 19 – Adam is scared of doing the President’s Fitness Test.
  • EPISODE 20 – Adam is excited about his laser tag birthday party but he really wants to kiss Dana.  Will he?
  • EPISODE 21 – Erica’s boyfriend Drew dumps her.  Will she get over it?
  • EPISODE 22 – Murry and Pops convince Barry to lie to his mother in order to join the wrestling team.
  • EPISODE 23 – Murray’s high school basketball free throw record is broken and he is invited back to the school to honor his long-standing free throw score.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary “Call Me When You Get There” with Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Adam F. Goldberg, Doug Robinson, Stacey Harman and Niki Schwartz-Wright.
  • Blast from the Past: Making Season One - (17:45) A featurette on the making of the series.  Interviews with cast and crew.
  • Our House: The 80′s Revisited – (11:50) Production Designer Corey Lorenz discusses the making of the set.

DISC 2:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary “Kara-Te” with Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Adam F. Goldberg, Doug Robinson and Andrew Secunda.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary “You Opened the Door” with Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Adam F. Goldberg, David Katzenberg, Alex Barnow and Marc Firek.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary “Goldbergs Never Say Die!” with Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Adam F. Goldberg, Doug Robinson, David Katzenberg and Andrew Secunda.
  • On Set with Jeff Garlin – (9:43)  Jeff Garlin takes viewers on the tour of the set.

DISC 3:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary “Lame Gretzky” with Wendi McLendon-Covey, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia, Adam F. Goldberg, Doug Robinson, Stacey Harman and Niki Schwartz-Wright.
  • Patton Oswalt: Adam Grows Up – (8:29) Patton Oswalt talks about being cast for the series.
  • Costume of the ’80s: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – (5:38) Costume Designer Keri Smith talks about the costumes she creates for “The Goldbergs”.

EXTRAS:

“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, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, but also transitioning from those wonderful years of toy playing/collecting and then being interested in girls.  So, it’s interesting to see how this series plays out with Adam being interested in toys but also being interested and wanting to kiss girls.

Barry is that awkward guy that many of us guys had experienced.  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.

And you have the popularity sister, the often medling mother and the father who just wants to be cool, relax after a hard day at work but is often having to be dad and trying to prevent his wife from doing something embarassing to their children.  And of course, you have the cool grandfather with “Pops”.

Each of the talent does a great job in portraying their character and all 23 episodes of “The Goldbergs” have been nothing but entertaining and fun and definitely one of my favorite comedy series on television.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good and you get a good number of audio commentary and special features included.

Overall, “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious comedy that I look forward to watching and I can’t wait for season two!

“The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season” is recommended!

 

The Blacklist: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

blacklist

“The Blacklist: The Complete First Season” is a magnificent television series worth checking out! Riveting, exciting and one of the best drama series on television! The acting, the writing, the overall production value, everything about this series is top notch and also unpredictable. So, if you are looking for a series worth watching, “The Blacklist: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

© 2014 Sony Pictures Television Inc. and Open 4 Business Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blacklist: The Complete First Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2014

DURATION: 22 Episodes (939 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: August 12, 2014

Directed by Michael W. Watkins, Vincent Misiano, Joe Carnahan, Michael Zinberg, Jace Alexander, Adam Arkin, Nick Gomez, Stephen Surjik, Steven A. Adelson, Paul A. Edwards, Karen Gaviola, Dan Lerner, Peter Werner, Randall Zisk

Written by Elizabeth Benjamin, Jon Bokenkamp, Jim Capolongo, Joe Carnahan, Richard D’Ovidio, John Eisendrath, Jason George, John C. Kelley, Brandon Margolis, Patrick Massett, J.R. Orci, Lukas Reiter, Jonathan Shapiro, Amanda Kate Shuman, Brandon Sonnier, Anthony Sparks, Daniel Voll, Wendy West, John Zinman

Produced by Timothy Silver, Douglas Rowell, Tony Salama, Trever Stewart

Co-Producer: Alex Cuthbertson, Matt Fusfeld, Timothy Silver

Executive Producer: Tristram Shapeero, Jaes Fino, Joe Russo

Co-Executive Producer: Erik Sommers

Associate Producer: Andres Anglade

Consulting Producer: Adam Countee

Music by Ludwig Goransson

Cinematography by Gary Hatfield

Edited by Christian Kinnard, Luke Guidici

Casting by Josh Einsohn

Production Design by Denise Pizzini

Set Decoration by Denise Pizzini

Art Diretion by John B. Vertrees

Costume Design by Sabrina Rosen

Starring:

James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington

Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen

Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler

Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen

Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper

Parminder Nagra as Agent Meera Malik

Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe

Amir Arison as Aram Mjtabai

Debora S. Craig as Luli

Rachel Brosnahan as Jolene

Alan Alda as Fitch

Charles Baker as Grey

Jane Alexander as Diane Flower

For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader, TV’s “The Office,” “Boston Legal”) has been one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The concierge of Crime.” Now, he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: he will help catch the world’s most elusive criminals, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone, TV’s “Law & Order: Los Angeles”), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it’s going to be one hell of a first day on the job.

In 2013, the series “The Blacklist” starring James Spader (“Boston Legal”, “Stargate”, “Lincoln”), Megan Boone (“My Bloody Valentine”, “Step Up Revolution”), Ryan Eggold (“90210″, “Queen”, “Trophy Kids”), Parminder Nagra (“Bend It Like Beckham”, “ER”) and Harry Lennix (“Man of Steel”, “Ray”, “The Matrix Revolutions”) became a breakout hit for NBC.

Receiving critical acclaim from critics and nominated for many awards, “Blacklist: The Complete First Season” will be available on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Blacklist” revolves around former government agent and one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Raymond “Red” Reddington (portrayed by James Spader) surrendering at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Because of the terrorist threats against America, Reddington offers to help the FBI under one condition, he will only work with one person in the FBI, rookie FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen (portrayed by Megan Boone).

For Megan, she looks at her new job as a great paying job that she and her husband Tom (portrayed by Ryan Eggold) can finally start having a family.  But in the first case to capture the terrorist, her husband was captured, tortured and nearly was killed.

And as she continues to work with Reddington, it is unclear why he chose her and why he knows so much about her.  But he appears to also know something about Tom and that he may not be the man that she thinks he is…or is this part of Reddington’s way of getting closer to her?

And after the first case of capturing the first terrorist, Reddington reveals that there are more criminals with the intent to do great harm and he can help the FBI neutralize them, as he has created a “blacklist” of criminals/terrorists worldwide.  Especially those that the FBI are not aware of.

Thus forcing FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen to work closely with Reddington.  But what is he hiding?

The main characters of “Blacklist” are:

  • Raymond “Red” Reddington – A former government agent and FBI fugitive who aids the FBI in capturing criminals/terrorists worldwide but only wants to work with FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen.
  • FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen – A rookie profiler who had a tragic childhood.  Not sure why “Red” chose to work with her.  Wants to have a family with her husband Tom.
  • FBI Agent Donald Ressler – Keen’s FBI partner.
  • Tom Keen – Elizabeth’s husband who wants to adopt a child.  But behind this young man who is trying to look for a job and married to Elizabeth, is there more to him that Elizabeth is unaware of.
  • CIA Field Agent Meera Malik - Assigned to Reddington’s security detail and often aiding FBI Special Agents Keen and Ressler.
  • Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, Harold Cooper - Always watching over his agents’ backs but trying to figure out why Reddington is so interested in Elizabeth Keen.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Blacklist: The Complete First 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 five discs with 4-5 episodes each.  It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray release is the version to purchase.  But on DVD, picture quality is good and I didn’t see any major problems with artifacts.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Blacklist: The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Commentary – Featuring an audio comemntary on the pilot episode with Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and Joe Carnahan.
  • Beyond the Blacklist - (24:18) Featurettes for the first five episodes of the series with interviews with cast and crew.

DISC 2:

  • Commentary on Anslo Garrick Part 1 - Featuring audio commentary with Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and Joe Carnahan.
  • The Insider: Behind the Scenes of Season 1 – (13:59) Behind-the-scenes on the making of “The Blacklist”, working with James Spader and the other cast members.
  • Beyond the Blacklist - (23:19) Featurettes for episodes 6-10 of the series with interviews with cast and crew.

DISC 3:

  • Beyond the Blacklist - (18:12) Featurettes for episodes 11-14 of the series with interviews with cast and crew.

DISC 4:

  • Beyond the Blacklist - (17:12) Featurettes for episodes 15-18 of the series with interviews with cast and crew.

DISC 5:

  • Commentary on Berlin - Featuring audio commentary with Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath and Joe Carnahan.
  • Beyond the Blacklist - (17:48) Featurettes for episodes 19-22 of the series with interviews with cast and crew.

EXTRAS:

“The Blacklist: The Complete First Season” comes with a slip case.

Riveting, exciting and one of the best drama series on television!

“The Blacklist” was definitely a series that surprised me from beginning to end.  The first half was riveting for the sake that the wanted fugitive “Red” has chosen to work with Elizabeth, a rookie profiler and just seeing the missions these two work on and at times, barely surviving.

But as the first half featured the working relationship between Red and Elizabeth and how Red has affected her marriage with Tom, some of the episodes featured are absolutely thrilling.  From serial killers to murderers, these episodes were rather intriguing as the writers effectively planned each episode and escalating the tension.  And it’s a series that writers were able to take risks and making sure that characters, some that begin to grow on you, may or may not survive.

But the writers were also great at connecting the dots with each character, how the stories have all have a connection and leading to its excellent final episodes with some questions resolved, while many questions are created and will no doubt lead to what hopes to be a magnificent season two.

As always, James Spader has managed to bring something special to this series.  May it be his stoic yet suave behavior, his stylish presentation but also knowing that this man is quite deadly and not sure if he could be trusted.

Megan Boone does a wonderful job of playing an FBI Special Agent but also a woman that tends to show her strengths with each episode and to see her put through a lot of unfortunate situations but yet, hopefully becoming stronger.

These two individuals are rather fascinating as they are the ultimate odd couple trying to take down the world’s top criminals but yet, feeling this uneasiness that something big is going to happen and no doubt, there are many twists and turns along the way and if anything, the writing, the acting and overall production for “The Blacklist” is top notch.

As for the DVD, once again, if you want this series in the best quality, then the Blu-ray version is the way to go.  Otherwise, the DVD does look very good.  Not many artifacts can be seen, thanks to episodes being spread part on five discs.  And you also get a plethora of special features including audio commentary included.

Overall, “The Blacklist: The Complete First Season” is a magnificent television series worth checking out!   Riveting, exciting and one of the best drama series on television! The acting, the writing, the overall production value, everything about this series is top notch and also unpredictable.

So, if you are looking for a series worth watching, “The Blacklist: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

 

It Felt Like Love (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

itfeltlikelove

“It Felt Like Love” is a combination of all those awkward emotions people felt about sexuality and how far one would go to be experienced. Natural, insightful and real, “It Felt Like Love” is recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2014 Kino Lorber. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: It Felt Like Love

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 82 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1, 5.1 Dolby Digital

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2014

Written and Directed by Eliza Hittman

Executive Producer: Tyler Brodie, Hunter Gray, Gill holland

Producer: Eliza Hittman, Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner

Associate Producer: Molly Gandour

Cinematography by Sean Porter

Edited by Scott Cummings, Carlos Marques-Marcet

Casting by Henry Russell Bergstein

Production Design by Sarah Maiorino

Starring:

Gina Piersanti as Lila

Giovanni Salimeni as Chiara

Ronen Rubinstein as Sammy

Jesse Cordasco as Patrick

Nick Rosen as Devon

Richi Folio as Justin

Case Prime as Nate

Kevin Anthony Ryan as Lila’s Father

Fourteen-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti) is embarrassed by her sexual inexperience, while her pretty best friend Chiara spends her summer making out with her new beau. Eager to prove her desirability, the shy and retiring Lila focuses her attention on local lothario Sammy. She approaches him with clumsy come-ons, and Sammy swats her away. But Lila keeps pushing into the world of Sammy’s hyper-macho friends, where sex is less about exploration than intimidation and power.

“It Felt Like Love” marks the feature film debut for filmmaker Eliza Hittman.

Known for directing short films, Hittman’s first film has received critical praise for it’s naturalistic coverage of the discovering of teenage sexuality thanks to its performance by young actress Gina Piersanti.

“It Felt Like Love” was released on DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber in July and revolves around a 14-year-old Lila (portrayed by Piersanti) who is spending her summer being the third wheel to her best friend Chiara (portrayed by Giovanna Salimeni) and her boyfriend.

Each time she watches the couple, she sees how intimate they are with no care in the world and makes Lila think about her sexual inexperience.

After meeting Sammy (portrayed by Ronen Rubinstein), she tries her best to get him to think about her sexually but Sammy is not interested.  She finds herself getting closer into the world of Sammy and his buddies who look at her like nothing but a sexual plaything.

But how far will Lila go to have a sexual experience?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“It Felt Like Love” is presented in 1:85:1 and the cinematography by Sean Porter captures summer in South Brooklyn with efficacy.  From the local seaside, riding on the train and showcasing the uneasiness of sexual experiences, Porter is able to capture that on camera.

The picture quality looks good on DVD (and as best as one can expect on DVD), with no major artifacts or any major problems during viewing.  Audio is 5.1 surround sound and is dialogue-driven.  Dialogue is crystal clear and understandable.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“It Felt Like Love” comes with the following special features:

  • Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight - (15:34) Filmmaker Eliza Hittman’s 2011 short film about the day of a girl who lives with her father who is in danger of being evicted because he keeps bringing in cats and getting away with a friend to enjoy a night at the club and what happens afterward.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Eliza Hittman (note: audio commentary is found in the audio selection).
  • Image Gallery – A still image/photo gallery from the film which one can view via remote (or mouse/keyboard).
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:02) The theatrical trailer for “It Felt Like Love”.

“It Felt Like Love” is a film that you really don’t see being made often.  After all, it deals with teenage sexuality and many films or even television shows tend to show the repercussions of teenage sex, may it be teen pregnancy or being with the wrong person and getting involved with the wrong crowd.

But filmmaker Eliza Hittman did a much job, focusing on reality, natural experiences that people feel and while not biographical, Hittman has said the film conjures up the emotions that she felt as a teenager and about sexuality.

The film relies on the uneasiness of its protagonist Lila, portrayed by Gina Piersanti.  And the emotions that Hittman was able to get out of her and bring out that uneasiness but it’s what brings out the natural emotions of the film.  Using young inexperienced talent also made the film feel real.

May it be Lila’s relationship with her friend Chiara, her coming-of-age relationship with her father or her young but mature neighbor, the film seems rather natural but yet the film is about the lack of comfort that Lila is going through and her observations of people and sexuality.

Cinematography by Sean Porter was also done well as it captures the humid summer of South Brooklyn.  The summer humidity, the location shots, everything comes together quite well.

But “It Felt Like Love” is subjective as the exploration of teenage sexuality can be easily seen as natural, but the film does push the boundaries of what some people may be comfortable with and will surely make some people quiver as Lila does go on a dangerous path to discover her own sexuality.

But once again, these emotions that Lila experiences are all natural, as many of us probably knew people like Lila.  People wanting to not feel left out, not wanting to be someone that is inexperienced, one-sided love and it is quite uncomfortable, but that’s what this film is about.  Those emotions that people feel, that awkward feeling and some people find ways of dealing with those emotions and self-realization.

As for the DVD, “It Felt Like Love” also features a fascinating audio commentary from Eliza Hittman and also her last short film which is also well-made.

Overall, “It Felt Like Love” is a combination of all those awkward emotions people felt about sexuality and how far one would go to be experienced.

Natural, insightful and real, “It Felt Like Love” is recommended.

 

 

Community – The Complete Fifth Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

community-s5

If you love comedy, “Community” has always been an entertaining series and continues to be entertaining for season five. There were quite a number of changes for the fifth season but if you followed the series for this long and enjoy the crazy hijinks of the characters, I’m sure you are in for the long haul and were entertained with what Harmon and crew were able to deliver. “Community – The Complete Fifth Season” is definitely worth checking out!

© 2014 Sony Pictures Television Inc. and Open 4 Business Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Community – The Complete Fifth Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2014

DURATION: 13 Episodes (278 Minutes)

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

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: August 5, 2014

Directed by Joe Russo, Tristram Shapeero, Jay Chandraskehar, Rob Schrab

Written by Jordan Blum, Andy Bobrow, Parker Deay, Donald Diego, Dan Harmon, Carol Kolb, Chris McKenna, Tim Saccardo, Erik Sommers, Dino Stamatopoulos

Produced by Timothy Silver, Douglas Rowell, Tony Salama, Trever Stewart

Co-Producer: Alex Cuthbertson, Matt Fusfeld, Timothy Silver

Executive Producer: Tristram Shapeero, Jaes Fino, Joe Russo

Co-Executive Producer: Erik Sommers

Associate Producer: Andres Anglade

Consulting Producer: Adam Countee

Music by Ludwig Goransson

Cinematography by Gary Hatfield

Edited by Christian Kinnard, Luke Guidici

Casting by Josh Einsohn

Production Design by Denise Pizzini

Set Decoration by Denise Pizzini

Art Diretion by John B. Vertrees

Costume Design by Sabrina Rosen

Starring:

Joel McHale as Jeff Winger

Gillian Jacobs as Britta Perry

Danny Pudi as Abed Nadir

Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley Bennett

Alison Brie as Annie Edison

Donald Glober as Troy Barnes

Ken Jeong as Senor Chang

Jim Rash as Dean Pelton

Richard Erdman as Leonard

Dino Stamatoupoulos as Star Burns

Erik Charles Nielsen as Garrett Lambert

John Oliver as Professor Ian Duncan

Danielle Kaplowitz as Vicki

Luke Youngblood as Magnitude

Charley Koontz as Neil

Jonathan Banks as Professor Hickey

Dominik Musiol as Pavel

Jeremy Scott Johnson as Carl

America’s smartest, edgiest comedy goes back to school with a vengeance! Just when you thought you’d seen and laughed at everything, along comes Season 5 to reinvent all the rules. “Bear Down” for the most jaw-dropping, polygraph-taking, hot lava-walking, ass-crack-bandit-pursuing, fantasy-roleplay-gaming, animated “G.I. Jeff”-hallucinating, hidden treasure-hunting, college campus-saving season that gets a rating of five MeowMeowBeenz! The fifth season of Community proves to be the most innovative and hilarious season yet – with Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, Jonathan Banks and John Oliver.

For the fifth season of the hit comedy series “Community”, the study group of Greendale Community College must face a closure, Jeff returns after graduating to teach, one member of the study group says goodbye, while another passes away.

Featuring a new chapter of the characters of “Community”, including a “G.I. Joe” inspired animated episode, find out what happens in “Community – The Fifth Season” which will be released on DVD in August 2014.

What is “Community”?

In 2009, writer and producer Dan Harmon (“The Sarah Silverman Program”, “Monster House”) and Rob Schrab (founder of the website/channel “101″) created a TV sitcom for NBC known as “Community”. For three seasons, “Community” has done well for NBC but for half of season three and for season four there was a major shakeup with Sony Pictures Television not renewing the contract of producer Dan Harmon.  But after public outcry and falling ratings, Dan Harmon returned for season 5.

Unfortunately, the troubles of season four with Chevy Chase walking off the set in the final two episodes, would lead to his character being killed off the show for season five.  And as for Donald Glover, who has played the popular character Troy, his busy schedule with his rap career and his planned TV show with FX, prompted the actor to have his character leave in season 5.

And with an announcement that NBC had canceled “Community” in May 2014, fortunately Yahoo! Screen picked up the series in June 2014 and a sixth season will be shown via their online streaming service.

With a another new direction for the fifth season, the season is 13 episodes long.

The series focuses on a troubled lawyer named Jeff Winger (played by Joel McHale) having to attend Greendale Community College after falsifying his law degree credentials. In order for him to not get disbarred, he must graduate from Greendale. So, he attends a study group which he forms with troublemaker student Britta Perry (played by Gillian Jacobs), an arrogant towlet millionaire and student Pierce Hawthorne (played by Chevy Chase), a straight-laced student named Annie Edison (played by Alison Brie), a former high school quarterback named Troy Barnes (played by Donald Glover), a single Christian mother named Shirley Bennett (played by Yvette Nicole Brown) and a film student named Abed Nadir (played by Danny Pudi).

For season five, the season picks up a year after Jeff has graduated from Greendale Community College.  While being a lawyer was not as success, he decides to teach at Greendale and adjust to being part of staff.

Meanwhile, the group is shaken by a death of one of their own students and one of their own decides to leave community college for a major adventure.

Season five will also feature the “Community” animated episode as the group receives an ’80s “G.I. Joe” style conversion as Jeff doesn’t not want to leave his childhood and feels better living in the past.  Meanwhile, for Greendale Community College, will the community college be sold?

The main characters of “Community” are:

  • Jeff Winger (Joel McHale, “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D”, “Spider-Man 2″, “The Soup”) – A lawyer who worked at the Colorado Bar Association but when it was revealed that he didn’t get his BA from Columbia University, he is offered to attend Greendale Community College as a deal with the firm, so he doesn’t get disbarred.
  • Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs, “The Box”, “Gardens of the Night”) – The bad girl of the group and the least fun member of the group. She and Jeff tend to have one night stands with each other but now she is dating Troy.
  • Abed Nabir (Danny Pudi, “Road Trip: Beer Pong”, “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil”) – Loves American pop culture and wants to become a filmmaker. He is taking film directing classes at Greendale Community College.
  • Troy Barnes (Donald Glover, “The Daily Show”, “Mystery Team”) – A former high school football star who now attends Greendale Community College. His best friend is Abed and is now dating Britta.
  • Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown, “(500) Days of Summer”, “Tropic Thunder”) - A divorced mother of three who attends Greendale Community College. She is very religious.
  • Annie Edison (Alison Brie, “Mad Men”, “Scream 4″) - A straight-laced Jewish girl. She is the most serious and most studious of the study group but also had a prescription drug addiction.
  • Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase, “Caddyshack”, “Vacation”) - The moist towelette tycoon attending Greendale Community College. He is trying to embrace today’s youth culture and is often offensive to everyone.
  • Ben “Senor” Chang (Ken Jeong, “The Hangover”, “Knocked Up”, “Role Models”) - Once the group’s Spanish teacher and was found out to not have any teaching qualifications, so now he must attend Greendale Community College and get his degree. In season four, he has amnesia dubbed “Changnesia”. He is disliked by the study group.
  • Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) – The flamboyant Dean of Greendale Community College and strives to make Greendale Community College into a real university.

Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode featured on “Community – The Complete Fourth Season” (a total of 13 episodes presented on three DVD’s):

 

  • EPISODE 85 – Repilot – Jeff returns to Greendale after graduating.
  • EPISODE 86 – Introduction to Teaching – Jeff begins teaching at Greendale and tries to adjust.
  • EPISODE 87 – Basic Intergluteal Numismatics – Jeff and Annie is trying to solve the mystery of the Ass Crack Bandit.  Meanwhile, the group receives bad news.
  • EPISODE 88 – Cooperative Polygraphy – As part of the conditions of Pierce’s will, the study group undergoes a polygraph test.
  • EPISODE 89 – Geothermal Escapism – The group honors Troys last day at Greendale.
  • EPISODE 90 – Analysis of Cork-Based Networking – Annie and Hickey wants to improve Greendale and organize a dance.
  • EPISODE 91 – Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality – Jeff helps Professor Duncan try to win Britta’s affection.
  • EPISODE 92 -App Development and Condiments – Greendale Community College tests out a social media app.
  • EPISODE 93 – VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing - Jeff, Shirley and Hickey discover unused textbooks and try to figure out what to do with them.
  • EPISODE 94 – Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons – The gang organizes a game of Dungeons & Dragons, so Professor Hickey can become closer to his son, Hank.
  • EPISODE 95 – G.I. Jeff – The entire gang becomes animated in “G.I. Joe” style.
  • EPISODE 96 – Basic Story – Greendale is appraised on whether it is an asset or liability.
  • EPISODE 97 – Basic Sandwich - Greendale is about to be sold, meanwhile the gang tries to look for hidden treasure.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Community – The Complete Fifth Season” is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhance for 16×9 Televisions. For a DVD series, picture quality is very good, well-lit and pretty much a vibrant series. I didn’t notice too many compression artifacts on DVD but for the most part, fans of the series should be happy with the overall picture quality on DVD!

The series is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The series is primarily dialogue driven with occasional music and is primarily front and center channel driven. I didn’t notice the surround channels being utilized all that much, but for the most part, dialogue (and music) are crystal clear and understandable.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Community – The Complete Fif1th Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Commentaries – “Repilot” commentary with Joel McHale, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna and Tristram Shapeero, “Introduction to Teaching” commentary with Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna and Andy Bobrow, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” commentary with Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Dino Stamatopoulos, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna and Tristram Shapeero, “Cooperative Polygraphy” commentary with Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna, Tristram Shapeero and Alex Rubens, “Geothermal Escapism” commentary with Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna, Joe Russo and Tim Saccardo, “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking” commentary with Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Dan Harmon, Tristram Shapeero and Monica Padrick, “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality” with Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Dan Harmon, Tristram Shapeero and Dan Guterman.
  • Re-Animating the ’80s - (17:35) Creating the animated “G.I. Jeff” episode and doing a G.I. Joe animated style episode.
  • Outtakes – (5:58) Featuring the outtakes of the season five of “Community”.

DISC 2:

  • Commentaries - “App Development and Condiments” commentary with Yvette Nicole Brown, Mitchell Hurwitz, Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Jordan Blum and Parkr Deay. “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing” commentary with Yvette Nicole Brown, Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, Spencer Crittenden, Chris McKenna, Tristram Shapeero and Donald Diego, “Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” commentary with Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna, Joe Russo and Matt Roller, “G.I. Jeff” commentary withYvette Nicole Brown, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna, Rob Schrab, Joe Russo II and James Fino, “Basic Story” commentary with Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Dino Stamatopoulos, Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna, “Basic Sandwich” commentary with Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna, Rob Schrab and Ryan Ridley.
  • Advanced Television Production: 5 Days, 2 Scripts, No Sleep – (42:24) Behind-the-scenes on the making of a “Community” episode.

EXTRAS:

“Community – The Complete Fifth Season” comes with a slip case.

As a fan of “Community”, the fifth season was a mixed bag.

In one instance, I love the fact that the creativity of the series continued, especially with the hilarious and fantastic “G.I. Jeff” episode based on the original “G.I. Joe” series.

But there is no doubt that with Chevy Chase and Donald Glover gone, the series feels incomplete.

The series would add the often serious and often playing the antagonist, Jonathan Banks as Professor Hickey) and we have John Oliver back as Professor Ian Duncan trying to fill in the extra screentime.

While Jonathan Banks is a fascinating addition to the cast, considering his character roles for other series and films lean more to darker/serious roles, suffice to say, he manages to carry some of this bad boy bravado to “Community” and one that is not so tolerable to Abed.

So, suffice to say, this was a different type of “Community” that manages to have the humor with the original cast but trying to do something different with Joel McHale’s character now abandoning the lawyer route and trying to become a teacher at Greendale Community College, while the other cast remain the same.

In many ways, Dan Harmon’s return is ability to maintain the series’ consistency but also having to deal with two departures, trying to see how Jonathan Banks, John Oliver and even Ken Jeong have more screen time.  While it works, once again, it just doesn’t feel the same, but that’s all part of change and I hope they can make things better for season 6.  For me, part of the enjoyment of “Community” was to see the Troy and Abed hijinks and now, with Troy gone…seeing an Abed and Annie or Abed and Professor Hickey feels out of place.

With the completion of “Community” on television, because the series is going to be streaming on Yahoo!, it makes you wonder if this gives creators and writers a bit more leeway but also wondering if the group has to operate on a more tighter budget.  As a fan of the series, I’m glad the series is continuing but at the same time, I hope the quality is consistent with past seasons.

But if season six is the group’s swansong, I hope Dan Harmon gives the characters a proper sendoff.  But as for the fifth season, you still have the crazy hijinks but no doubt, the series didn’t feel the same without Donald Glover and Chevy Chase, but I do believe this was a transitional season with all the changes and staff working on a tight schedule.

Like the previous DVD releases, this DVD release goes way beyond what most TV sitcoms on DVD have done. Not only does every episode have audio commentary, but you also get a few featurettes and outtakes! So, fans of the series are definitely getting their money’s worth as usual with each season of “Community” on DVD.

If you love comedy, “Community” has always been an entertaining series and continues to be entertaining for season five.  There were quite a number of changes for the fifth season but if you followed the series for this long and enjoy the crazy hijinks of the characters, I’m sure you are in for the long haul and were entertained with what Harmon and crew were able to deliver.

“Community – The Complete Fifth Season” is definitely worth checking out!

 

Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

transformers-cybertron

“Transformers Cybertron” was my favorite series in the “Cybertron” trilogy.  With many characters featured and an exciting storyline, children and the young at heart will no doubt enjoy “Transformers Cybertron The Complete Series”.  Recommended!


DVD TITLE: Transformers Cyberton: The Complete Series

SERIES AIR DATE: 2005

DURATION: 52 Episodes (19 3/4 hours)

DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Box set, Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

AVAILABLE ON AUGUST 5, 2014

DIRECTOR: Manabu Ono, Hiroyuki Kakudo

Written by Charlotte Fullerton, Aaron Archer, James W. Bates, Marc Handler, Manabu Ishikawa, Hiro Masaki, David McDermott, Kazuhisa Sakaguchi, Kazuhiko Soma, Seth Walther, Akatsuki Yamatoya, Genki Yoshimura

Executive Producer as Steve Drucker, Joshua Izzo

Animation Producer: Fumi Saitoh

Line Producer: Jyunichi Takagi

Consulting Producer: Shiiki Ryuta, Azuma Tani

Featuring the voices of:

Garry Chalk as Optimus Prime

Sarah Edmondson as Lori

Sam Vincent as Coby

Richard Newman as Vector Prime

Kirby Morrow as Hot Shot

Brian Dobson as Red Alert

Lisa Ann Beley as Override

Michael Daingerfield as Quickmix

Scott McNeil as Snarl

Brian Drummond as Jetfire

Paul Dobson as Landmine

Richard Ian Cox as Scattorshot

Mark Acheson as Crumplezone

Louis Chirillo as Ransack

Michael Dobson as Brakedown

Mark Oliver as Thundercracker

Trevor Devall as Scourge

Maryke Hendrikse as Thunderblast

David Kaye as Galvatron

Ryan Hirakida as Bud

Ted Cole as Sideways

Colin Murdock as Wing Saber

Dale Wilson as Mudflap

Tabitha St. Germain as Professor Lucy Suzuki

The Conclusion Of The Unicron Trilogy!

Unicron has been defeated, but his destruction has created a black hole, which is threatening the Autobots’ home world of Cybertron. It’s up to Optimus Prime, his team of heroic Autobots and their new human friends (Coby, Lori and Bud) to secure the four mystical Cyber Planet Keys, in order to destroy the black hole. Unfortunately, Megatron and the Decepticons are always lurking. And if the Cyber Planet Keys fall into their hands, it could mean the end of life as we know it. The race is on!

I’ve noticed a lot of reviews on other sites that are calling “Transformers Cybertron” the worst. A lot of these reviewers haven’t really watched a “Transformers” animation since the first series back in the 80′s or “Beast Wars” in the 90′s.

But of all series, “Transformers Cybertron” (aka Transformers: Galaxy Force in Japan) is one of my favorite “Transformers” animation series since the original G1 series.

Like most “Transformers” series, the target are children and hopes for children to buy the toys. But of course, among the older and hardcore collectors, this anime was so cool because it would introduce so many characters and also feature a large amount of Transformers merchandise.

The series focus on three young humans Coby (the teenager gifted at mechanics), his younger brother Bud (your typical young child) and Lori (a teenage friend of Coby and obviously she likes him. And a person that can easily get frustrated).

To make a long story short, the autobots have evacuated to the Planet Earth after the destruction of Unicron has left a black hole. With the black hole threatening their planet, the Autobots must find a way to stop the black hole from devouring their planet and the whole universe.

The three humans discover the Autobots and after developing trust and friendship, the humans assist the Optimus Prime and the other Autobots who are trying to find the legendary Cyber Planet Keys and Omega Lock thanks to the help of an ancient Autobot named Vector Prime. Of course, the Decepticons are after the same thing.

The four Cyber Planet keys are scattered in four worlds. Planet Earth, the Speed Planet (Velocitron), the Jungle Planet and Gigantion, the Giant Planet.

And the race is on as the Autobots along with Coby, Bud and Lori must get to the Cyber Planet keys and the Omega Lock before the Decepticons.  But can they do it?  And can they trust the fellow mecha who remain neutral?

Find out in the final series in the “Cybertron” trilogy, “Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series”!

VIDEO:

“Transformers Cybertron” is presented in 4:3 and the animation is one of the most detailed of the “Transformers” series from the 2000-era.  Great character design and use of CG and lighting effects.  For the most part, the series looks good on DVD!

AUDIO:

“Transformers Cybertron” is a series featured more dialog and music, so don’t expect any major audio channels. I didn’t expect any inclusion of the Japanese audio on this DVD, especially since the US and Japanese names of the robots are all different.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series” does not come with any special features.

It has been nearly a decade since I watched “Transformers Cybertron”.  At the time, I was a father raising a two-year-old who absolutely loved “Transformers Cybertron” and as a new father, literally purchased the whole “Transformers Cybertron” toy line and together, we would watch “Transformers Cybertron” and feel how awesome this series was, especially how they included so many characters.  The largest lineup I have ever seen since the original G1 series.

The series is quite long and in Japan, typically the anime with longer series are typically good for merchandise sales. May it be “Gundam”, “Pokemon” or “Naruto”, the same here in the US as a lot of “Transformers Cybertron” merchandise came out and if you were a collector of the line, to have so many Transformers (Autobots and Decepticons) from the various planets, small, tall or humongous was just satisfying.

There are many battles and there were some Transformer deaths as well. But overall, the series was enjoyable if you stayed in it for the long haul and for the most part, the series is quite safe for children.

There are some differences between the Japanese and American animations aside from character names and opening and ending themes but one difference is the leader of Velocitron (Speed Planet) in the US version is Override (a female Autobot) but in the Japanese version Override aka Nitro Convoy is a male character.

But I did like the nod to the past, with a little bit of inclusion of things from the past such as combining Transformers that would combine with Optimus Prime or Megatron, the addition of minicons and much more.

While “Transformers Cybertron” was a series conceived for children, the series was no doubt appealing to people of all ages. For me, the whole 52-episodes was fun to watch so many characters be introduced and then to see the many various battles, especially as the episodes starts to near its end. This was the only Transformers series that actually made me buy nearly every merchandise at that time because I enjoyed it that much and it was definitely a great series for me and my son can enjoy together.

As for the new release of “Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series” and how it compares to the original, there is no true difference between the two.  You still get 52 episodes, no special features but with the series now in Shout! Factory’s hands, you can expect them to take better care of the series and for the most part, not worry about this set going out of print.

While picture quality was as good as one can expect on DVD, too bad there aren’t any special features but considering fans are getting all 52-episodes for a good price, it’s hard to complain.

Granted, those who are coming into this series thinking of the old school Transformers may or may not get into it and I can understand why some reviewers may dislike it. But for those who are “Transformers” fans and also a collector of the merchandise, the series was one of the better ones to come in a long time in my opinion.

Overall, “Transformers Cybertron” was my favorite series in the “Cybertron” trilogy.  With many characters featured and an exciting storyline, children and the young at heart will no doubt enjoy “Transformers Cybertron The Complete Series”.  Recommended!

 

The Pretty One (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

theprettyone

“The Pretty One” is a romantic comedy which features strong performances from Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson. It has its interesting and enjoyable moments but I felt it didn’t have the movie magic that romantic comedies are known for. Still, “The Pretty One” is an entertaining popcorn romantic comedy worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2014 The Pretty One LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Pretty One

RELEASE OF MOVIE: 2013

DURATION: 95 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Language and some Sexual Content)

RELEASED: June 3, 2014

Directed by Jenee LaMarque

Written by Jenee LaMarque

Produced by Steven J. Berger, Robin Schorr

Co-Producer: David Szamet

Co-Executive Producer: Alan Pao

Music by Julian Wass

Cinematography by Polly Morgan

Edited by Kiran Pallegadda

Casting by Lindsay Graham, Mary Vernieu

Production Design by Anne Costa

Art Directon by Brittany Bradford

Costume Design by Emily Batson

Starring:

Zoe Kazan as Laurel/Audrey

Jake Johnson as Basel

Ron Livingston as Charles

Frances Shaw as Claudia

Jeremy Howard as James

Sterling Beaumon as Hunter

Danny Pudi as Dr. Rao

Sabrina Lloyd as Edith

John Carroll Lynch as Frank

Laurel (Kazan) has always been the odd wallflower, choosing to live at home with her father, while her glamorous identical twin, Audrey (Kazan), possesses the confidence and appeal to succeed in the big city. When tragedy strikes and Laurel is mistaken for her twin sister, she makes the impulsive decision to assume her sister’s identity and become The Pretty One. As she eases into her new, independent existence, Laurel discovers that she’s capable of accomplishments she had never before had dreamed of: excelling in a career, maintaining friendships and even finding love. Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks), Jake Johnson (TV’s “New Girl”) and Ron Livingston (Drinking Buddies) star in this quirky, comedic drama about family ties and second chances.

For filmmaker Jenee LaMarque, having created two shorts “Happy Deathday” and “Spoonful”, Jenee takes on her first feature film, the comedy “The Pretty One”, which she wrote and directed.

Starring Zoe Kazan (“What if”, “Fracture”, “Ruby Sparks”), Jake Johnson (“New Girl”, “21 Jump Street”, “Safety Not Guaranteed”) and Ron Livingston (“Office Space”, “Swingers”, “The Conjuring”).

The film revolves around Laurel (portrayed by Zoe Kazan), a wallflower who lives with her father and is a young woman who is an average girl but dating the boy that she once babysitted.

When her glamorous identical twin Audrey (also portrayed by Zoe Kazan) comes to visit, Audrey is surprised about Laurel’s life and that she needs to take her out to the big city.

As Laurel gets a haircut and dye job similar to Audrey, as the two are having fun and leaving to the big city, tragedy overshadows the family as a head-on accident kills Audrey and as for Laurel, she wakes up and realizes everyone thinks she is her glamorous sister.

While Laurel wants to tell her father (portrayed by John Carrol Lynch) what happened, upon appearing at the funeral, she realizes that no one has anything good to say about her, so she decides to assume Audrey’s identity and let everyone believe that Laurel had died.

Because Audrey had the better life, Laurel assumes her sister’s identity and moves to the big city and finds out that Audrey has been having an affair with a married man (portrayed by Ron Livingston) and has a male roommate named Basel (portrayed by Jake Johnson).

And while the real Audrey didn’t care for Basel and was going to kick him out and have Laurel live with her, with Laurel assuming Audrey’s life, she starts to realize that there are opportunities in life and to become a different person.

But what happens when Laurel wants everyone to know the truth that she has been assuming Audrey’s identity?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Pretty One” is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen with an English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack with subtitles in English SDH.  Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD.  Audio is primarily dialogue-driven and understandable.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Pretty One” comes with one special feature:

  • The Pretty One: Visual Effects - (1:58) A short featurette on how the visual effects were creatd.

The independent film “The Pretty One” is witty and features a wonderful performance from actress Zoe Kazan.

That’s the good news.

But for the actual film, there are enjoyable moments of the film but its subject matter of a simple girl named Laurel and wanting to step into the shoes of her more outgoing sister after an accident and assuming her identity could have been better.

While “The Pretty One” is not the first film nor the last about one assuming a fantasy life that is not truly their own, others such as “Pretty Woman”, allow one to fall for the challenges and the transformation that the character goes through from beginning to end.

For “The Pretty One”, There is not much sympathy going towards Laurel’s way because she assumes her dead sister’s identity and the film focuses less on the transformation of the character and focuses on her adjustment of pretending to be Audrey and eventually falling for her roommate.

The film, while enjoyable, is lacking the charm and the magic that makes these films so captivating and wonderful.  You want to see Laurel trying to live her life and eventually growing with the city that she is now living and falling in love.

Too much of the film falls on the shoulders of Zoe Kazan, assuming two roles but fortunately, she is able to pull both characters off with efficacy.  It’s just the screenplay and overall setting, which could have made things much more believable.

The DVD features very good picture quality, audio is primarily dialogue-driven and there is one special feature showing how Kazan was able to play two roles on screen.

Overall, “The Pretty One” is a romantic comedy which features strong performances from Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson.   It has its interesting and enjoyable moments but I felt it didn’t have the movie magic that romantic comedies are known for.

Still, “The Pretty One” is an entertaining popcorn romantic comedy worth checking out!

 

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

narutoshippuden-19

The origin of Eight Tails and preparation for the Great Ninja War!  If you are a fan of the anime series and are staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – Original & Uncut” is a fun and enjoyable filler volume worth watching!

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

DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 232-244 (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 8, 2014

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

As the Leaf Village prepares for war, each shinobi and clan must contemplate the role they will play in the battles to come. While Naruto’s peers seek training from surprising sources, Naruto himself must confront both his biggest weakness and greatest strength: the Nine-Tailed Fox.

To reach optimum power, Naruto must learn to control the beast within him, so he seeks help from the one person who has mastered just that, Killer Bee! But the Jinchuriki of Eight Tails wants nothing to do with training Naruto!

As the allied ninja forces prepare for the Great Ninja War, at Konoha, ninja’s prepare for their role in the battlefield.

For the Hyuga clan, Neji is assigned to lead the clan to war.  Naruto is on his way for his special mission but finds out an imposter is ruining his reputation.

Back at the village Konohamaru, Udon and Moegi want to get into action but for Konohamaru, he wants to pick a fight…but with the Sand Village’s Temari?

Shino looks back at the past, Tenten remembers how she wanted to be like Tsunade, Sai remembers his time spent with Naruto and Sakura, Kiba wants to prove himself and Guy remembers how he became Kakashi’s rival.

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – 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”?

In “Naruto Shippuden”, the storyline now features everyone a little grown up but the stakes are much higher. We learn that the Akatsuki including Orochimaru are looking for those who possess a jinchuriki. With this power, this will give too much power to evil and this can lead to the death of many people and the destruction of many villages.

In the past few volumes, the Leaf Village along with other villages have managed to defeat the Akatsuki, unfortunately the price paid was the death of Asuma and a few other members of the Leaf and Sand Ninja.

Now, Orochimaru using Kabuto, have their sites set on capturing the other jinchuriki, as do the Akatsuki who have been after Naruto.

In vol. 18 of “Naruto Shippuden – Original & Uncut”, after the epic battle with Pain, Lady Tsunade’s injuries causes concern in the leaf village and a discussion to select a new Hokage comes into play. Who will be the next choice of leading the village?

Meanwhile, the five Kage’s must plan and discuss the fourth Great Ninja War against the Akatsuki. Meanwhile, Naruto takes part in an S-ranked mission with Aoba, Guy and Yamato.

Which leads to vol. 19, a filler season (Season 11)  which features various storylines on various leaf ninja preparing for the war and reminiscing of their earlier years but also how Naruto has inspired them.

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 19- 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 19″ is pretty much Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 Bilingual (Japanese and English). Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well.

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Storyboards – View through the storyboards of episodes featured in volume 15 of “Naruto Shippuden”.
  • Clean Openings
  • Clean Endings
  • English Credits
  • More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers

narutoshippuden-19b

As the Fourth Great Ninja War was taking place in Japan for the manga series, the anime series was catching up to quickly and thus, in order to stretch out the storyline and give mangaka Masashi Kishimoto time to write many more chapters, for the anime series, in order to give him that space, it was going to be another season of filler episodes.

And with season 11 (episodes 222-242) which aired from July through December 2011, writers made sure to focus on the planning of the Fourth Great Ninja War while having Naruto and others from the Leaf Village on special missions.

So, for  “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19″ which covers episodes 232-244, the writers of the anime series knew they needed to extend the season before returning to any storyline that is from the original manga.

The series brings things home by focusing on a character that we have grown up watching from the original series.  Neji, Shino, Shikamaru, Tenten, Guy, Kiba, etc.  Pretty much you get an episode of a lot of reflection of why these ninja want to protect Naruto and what Naruto did for them as individuals.

And in someway, these filler episodes are very enjoyable for the fact that in the manga series, as one expects, the focus is primarily on Naruto and his close circle of teammates, while the anime series gave fans more exploration of these characters and have developed them over time.

So, in some ways, it’s great to see these episodes focused on these characters.

This volume also features the first two episodes of season 12 (episodes 243-244) which features Naruto meeting Killer Bee and wants KB to train him and we get to see the origin of Eight Tails.

And this will focus on the Naruto/Killer Bee storyline that was featured in the original manga series from Masashi Kishimoto.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 13 episodes and a the typical special features such as storyboard, clean opening and endings for each episode.

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – Original & Uncut” is rather fun, but for those who have read the manga series, will notice that the majority of all episodes in this latest volume are mostly filler episodes. Fortunately, the filler episodes are fun, fascinating and enjoyable and feature storylines that include characters that we have grown to appreciate in the Naruto world.

If you are staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – Original & Uncut” is a fun and enjoyable filler volume worth watching!

 

Prisoners of War: Season One (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

PrisonersOfWar-s1

“Prisoner of War: Season One” has turned out to be a magnificent and riveting series that makes viewers wanting more and more! And I have to admit, I enjoyed “Prisoners of War” much more than “Homeland”, so if you enjoyed the American political thriller, definitely give this award-winning Israeli series a chance. Especially now that it is available on DVD in America courtesy of Shout! Factory! Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 Keshet Media Group. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Prisoners of War: Season One

RELEASE OF TV SERIES: 2009

DURATION: 13 Episodes (530 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen, Hebrew with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shout Factory!

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASED: July 8, 2014

Directed by Gideon Raff

Written by Gideon Raff

Produced by Liat Benasuly

Cinematography by Itai Ne’eman

Edited by Simon Herman

Casting by Hila Yuval

Starring:

Gal Zaid as Haim

Yael Eitan as Dana

Salim Dau as Jamal

Sendi Bar as Iris

Hadar Ratzon Rotem as Leila Qasab

Mili Avital as Nurit Halevi-Zach

Assi Cohen as Amiel Ben-Horin

Adi Ezroni as Yael Ben-Horin

Ishai Golan as Uri Zach

Yoram Toledano as Nimrod Klein

Guy Selnik as Hatzav

After 17 years in captivity, three Israeli soldiers are finally returned to their families: one of them in a coffin. The first season of this award-winning and controversial series follows the former captives and their families as they try to reconnect with each other. But the adjustment is painful, and when secrets of the years gone by begin coming to light, betrayal, resentment and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives all over again.

This deeply moving, intense and thrilling series was adapted into the acclaimed drama Homeland.

Before “Homeland” became a popular American political thriller, there was “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War), the Israeli drama series created by Gideno Raff, which “Homeland” was based on.

But while the series have similarities, because the difference in culture and what is going on in the Middle East, especially with Israel, “Prisoners of War” differs from its American counterpart as the focus is less on political thriller but more on a POW’s acclamation into society and their relationships with their family upon returning home.

A winner of “Best Drama Series of 2010″ by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television and multiple awards, the controversial series would become Israel’s highest rated TV drama of all time.

And with a third season of “Prisoner of War” greenlighted, the first season was released in North America on DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory.

“Prisoners of War” revolves around three families.

For 17 years, these families have hoped for Israeli soldiers: Uri Zach (portrayed by Ishai Golan), Nimrod Klein (portrayed by Yoram Toledano) and Amiel Ben-Horin (portrayed by Assi Cohen) to be returned back home.

For a long period of time, both men were held in Lebanon and tortured but after negotiations for their freedom (in return of the release of prisoners), the families receive news that their love ones will be returning.

For Nimrod’s wife, Talia Klein (portrayed by Yael Abecassis), she has worked hard for her husband’s release.  But in return, her family has had it’s major trouble.

Dana (portrayed by Yael Eitan) is a rebellious daughter who has dealt with not having her father around by having sexual relations with older men.  While Hatzav is the teenage son that Nimrod had never met and was born after Nimrod was captured.

For the Zach family, Uri’s return is not as easily accepted as Uri’s longtime girlfriend, Nurit (portrayed by Mili Avital) went on to marry his older brother Yaakov (portrayed by Mickey Leon) and both have a son named Asaf (portrayed by Adam Kent).  While Nurit and Yaakov are not as thrilled and are not sure on how to handle this situation, his father Joseph (portrayed by Shmuel Shilo) is happy for his son’s return.

For the Ben-Horin family, Adi Ezroni has been waiting to find out that her brother Amiel (portrayed by Assi Cohen) would return back home but learns that he was killed during captivity.

While the families deal with the difficulties of learning that their loved ones have changed severely due to captivity, Dana has a hard time dealing with Nimrod’s attitude, as Nimrod feels he could get back to normal life immediately but quickly learns that his wounds from torture is much deeper than expected.

And possibly, Nimrod is keeping a secret of what happened during his captivity.

Meanwhile for Uri, he has been reduced to a shy individual due to the beatings he had suffered.  As for Nurit, life is not easy for her because unlike Talia who remained single and waited for her husband’s return, she chose to marry his older brother and public opinion towards her has been nothing but negative.  Meanwhile, Yaakov is not comfortable that Nurit has been told to pretend she was waiting for him and she is willing to keep from Uri the truth that she had married his older brother.

As for Yael, she is dealing with Amiel’s death very hard and keeps seeing visions of Amiel alive and trying to communicate with her.

But as Nimrod and Uri are being studied by IDF psychologist Haim Cohen (portrayed by Gal Zaid), who suspects something may be amiss between the stories of captivity that both men are giving, what happened to both men during captivity and what secret(s) are they hiding?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Prisoners of War: Season One” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Hebrew Dolby Digital with English subtitles. Overall, picture quality is good for what one can expect on DVD.  It helps that Shout! Factory has kept a minimum of 3-4 episodes per DVD.  While I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problematic video, I do wish that “Prisoners of War: Season One” was released on Blu-ray.

But dialogue is clear and English subtitles are easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Prisoners of War: Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary  – Featuring audio commentary for episodes 1-3 by show creator  Gareth Evans and Director of Photographer Itai Neeman.
  • An Open Wound: Making Prisoners of War – (38:176) Featuring the making of “Prisoners of War” with interviews with creator Gideo Raff, cast and crew.

Having watched “Homeland”, I have been wanting to watch “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War) after reading so much about the series and how it inspired the American political thriller but also reading on forums of how the original was much better.

With “Homeland” being the focus of a POW who is deemed a hero by America, a CIA operative believes this hero may have been turned by terrorist group,  al-Qaeda.

“Prisoners of War” takes a different approach to its storyline.

As Israel is constantly always preparing for war with a few of its neighboring countries, the discussion of POW’s continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country and “Prisoners of War” tries to depict the torture that these POW’s must face especially with a lower budget made the crew focus on the families affected.

And for the most part, the writers were able to pull off the emotional return but also the difficult of the POW’s and families adjusting as so many years have passed.

For series creator,  Gareth Evans did his research in trying to learn from POW’s and their families of how they felt before and after their loved one’s release and how life is not that easy and that life and the normalcy of life will never be the same.

The character of Nimrod is rather fascinating.  A man with so many plans, he comes back to find out that his young daughter is a troubled young woman and he has a teenage son that he never knew.  He notices that times have changed with cell phones, fashion styles and the Israel which he knew, is not the same.  And the wife he loved, has gotten older but also insistent that he gets help and is worried about his well-being.

And then there is Uri, once a young man who was looking forward to marrying his longtime girlfriend Nurit.  But to be emotionally destroyed in captivity and now, a very shy man, he returns back home to find out his love has married his older brother and to find out that his loving mother had passed away while he was in captivity.  Similar to Nimrod, both men have faced daily and severe torture while in captivity and both feel that despite their freedom, the world they once knew and the people they loved, have all changed.

But to add intrigue to the storyline is the storyline of what happened to these men during captivity and each glimpse that we get, the more we learn that something ominous has happened to both of them and the two are keeping a secret which they do not want anyone to know about.

What happened while these men were imprisoned?  Suffice to say, each episode is riveting and captivating that you can’t help but watch episode after episode.

The writing for the series is well-done and I can only hope that the second season (which did even better in the ratings) is even better, which is hard to do when the first season was critically acclaimed.

As for the DVD, you get three audio commentary tracks and a making-of featurette.  Picture quality is good, as what one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major severe artifacts during my viewing.  The audio is clear and English subtitles were easy to read

Overall, “Prisoner of War: Season One” has turned out to be a magnificent and riveting series that makes viewers wanting more and more!  And I have to admit, I enjoyed “Prisoners of War” much more than “Homeland”, so if you enjoyed the American political thriller, definitely give this award-winning Israeli series a chance.  Especially now that it is available on DVD in America courtesy of Shout! Factory!

Highly recommended!

 

 

Helix: Season 1 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

helix

“Helix” is a fascinating, violent and entertaining sci-fi series. It’s also a series that one should not try to pigeonhole as a banal virus outbreak series because as the series develops, because overtime, it becomes another different beast entirely which includes a story about survival, mutated people, killer mercenaries, action (bloody) scenes galore and literally many people (including key characters) dying. But as much as this first season of “Helix” was meant to develop the main characters, it sets up for an exciting second season that I definitely look forward to watching!

Image courtesy of © 2014 Sony Pictures Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Helix: Season 1

RELEASE OF TV SERIES: 2014

DURATION: 13 Episodes (531 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASED: July 1, 2014

Directed by Brad Turner, Jeremiah S. Chechik, Duane Clark, Mike Rohl, Bradley Walsh, Steven A. Adelson, Jeffrey Reiner

Written by Cameron Porsandeh (Creator), Misha Green, Sean Crouch, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Adam Lash, Cori Uchida, Ed Decter, Tiffany Greshler, Mark Haslett, Keith Huff

Executive Producer: Steven Maeda, Ronald D. Moore, Brad Turner

Co-Executive Producer: Maril Davis, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Cameron Porsandeh

Produced by Sandrine Gros d’Aillon

Co-Producer: Misha Green

Associate Producer: Stephen Welke

Music by Reinhold Heil

Cinematography by Stephen McNutt

Edited by Randy Bricker, Elena Maganini, Blake Maniquis, Marta Evry, Todd Desrosiers

Production Design by Guy Lalande

Art Direction by Louis-Rene Landry, David Gaucher, Charlotte Rouleau

Set Decoration by Suzanne Cloutier, Ginette Robitaille

Costume Design by Mariane Carter

Starring:

Billy Campbell as Dr. Alan Farragut

Hiroyuki Sanada as Dr. Hiroshi Hatake

Kyra Zagorsky as Dr. Julia Walker

Mark Ghanime as Major Sergio Balleseros

Jordan Hayes as Dr. Sarah Jordan

Meegwun Fairbrother as Daniel Aerov

Neil Napier as Dr. Peter Farragut

Luciana Carro as Anana

Chimwemwe Miller as Dr. Haven

Catherine Lemieux as Dr. Doreen Boyle

Amber Goldfarb as Jaye

Patrick Baby as Dr. Philippe Duchampe

Robert Naylor as the Scythe

Christian Jadah as Dr. Victor Adrian

Alain Goulem as Bryce

Alexander Ordolis as Blake

Jeri Ryan as Constance Sutton

Masters of Sex stars Golden Globe® and BAFTA Award nominee Michael Sheen and acclaimed actress Lizzy Caplan, who portray the real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The series chronicles the unusual lives, romance and pop culture trajectory of Masters and Johnson and the effect their research had on the family and colleagues around them. Their study ignited a sexual revolution and took them from a Midwestern teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine. Also starring Caitlin FitzGerald, Teddy Sears and Nicholas D’Agosto. Guest Starring two-time Golden Globe® winner Beau Bridges.

In 2014, the American sci-fi series “Helix” premiered on SyFy.  Created by Cameron Porsandeh and executive produced by Ron Moore (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Roswell”), the first season of “Helix” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in July 2014 courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The series would star Billy Campbell (“The Rocketeer”, “Dracula”), Hiroyuki Sanada (“The Wolverine”, “47 Ronin”, “Sunshine”), Kyra Zagorsky (“Toxin”, “Green Season”), Neil Napier (“300″, “Immortals”) and Jordan Hayes (“House at the End of the Street”, “10 Speed”).

Far out at an arctic bioresearch station, a few employees were infected by an unknown virus.

Because of the sensitivity of what is taking place at the bioresearch station and worry of a potential outbreak, top CDC scientist Dr. Alan Farragut (portrayed by Billy Campbell), Dr. Julia Walker (portrayed by Kyra Zagorsky) and Dr. Sarah Jordan (portrayed by Jordan Hayes) are assigned to the lab do their research on the infected individuals.

One of those infected is Dr. Peter Farragut (portrayed by Neil Napier), brother of Dr. Alan Farragut but as they try to learn more about the virus and hunt down those who may have been exposed to the virus, panic starts to grow in the station and to make things worse, Julia is attacked by Peter and becomes infected.

But as Dr. Alan Farragut and his team start to learn more about the virus, he starts to uncover secrets that Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (portrayed by Hiroyuki Sanada) is hiding and why has the Ilea Corporation led by Constance Sutton (portrayed by Jeri Ryan) bringing mercenaries aboard the research station?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Helix: Season 1″ is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English Dolby Digital. It’s important to note that if you want the best picture quality and lossless audio, “Helix” is available on Blu-ray.

As for the DVD, the series looks good on DVD and spread out on three DVD’s.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Helix: Season 1″ comes with the following special features:

  • Pilot Episode – Audio Commentary on the Pilot – Featuring audio commentary by actor Billy Campbell and creator Cameron Porsandeh.
  • Final Episode – Audio Commentary on the Pilot – Featuring audio commentary by actor Billy Campbell and executive producer Steven Maeda.
  • Ronald D. Moore: The Outlier of Science Fiction – (7:13) Creator Cameron Porsandey, Executive Producer Lynda Obst discuss working with executive producer Ronald D. Moore and making things extreme and taking on questions of “what if?”.
  • The Future of Disease – (5:28) Taking on plausible viruses for science fiction and coming up with storylines based on viruses and how it behaves differently with people and how creator Cameron Porsandeh had a real life virus in him and how it inspired him to learn more about viruses.
  • Dissecting the Characters – (10:32) A featurette about the casting of the series.
  • The Art of Isolation – (5:52) A featurette about the series setting.
  • Outtakes – (3:22) Outtakes from season 1 of “Helix”.
  • Deleted Scenes – 13 deleted scenes.

What if man tried to create a new virus in order to eliminate all viruses in the planet?

What if that created virus could end up destroying humanity?

The “What If” is what the sci-fi series “Helix” explores throughout its first season.

In many ways, this series has surprised me because in some ways, each time I think I figured out what this series is about, the series tends to evolve into something different entirely.

Is this virus outbreak a way to show how zombies were created?  That’s what I started to think at first but it has become a series about virus outbreaks to the hunters going after civilians.  Not only is the body count high in this series, no character is safe at all.

Characters that you start to root and support, next thing you know, they are killed off and you wonder who will be the next to die and how far will the writers go with this series?

But the plot is rather intriguing as the story is about a bioresearch lab in the arctic that does its research on viruses but through its head scientist, Dr. Hiroshi Hatake, illegally experiments on a virus to end all viruses (or does it do that exactly?).

We learn of how far this bioresearch lab has gone in trying to find guinea pigs, part of the storyline revolves around children kidnapped from their families to be experimented on.  We see a lot of freaky situations that happen throughout the series that revolve around the virus and how far the Ilea Corporation would go in trying to find a person who can be the antidote in fighting the virus.

Throw in mercenaries and assassins and you get one hell of a wild and bloody series!

As I enjoyed the first season, there are some things that I was hoping to not see but it does happen.  The last thing I wanted to see is the “Gray’s Anatomy” romantic element (ie. male doctor sleeps with all female doctors) but fortunately, the unusual situations, the trippy and surreal happenings throughout the series and the amount of violence has kept my interest in each episode and the series definitely ends with a crazy cliffhanger to help setup season 2!

As for the DVD, the DVD does look and sound good but if you really want the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray version of the series is the way to go!  As for special features, you get two audio commentaries and several featurettes and many deleted scenes.

Overall, “Helix” is a fascinating, violent and entertaining sci-fi series.  It’s also a series that one should not try to pigeonhole as a banal virus outbreak series because as the series develops, because overtime, it becomes another different beast entirely which includes a story about survival, mutated people, killer mercenaries, action (bloody) scenes galore and literally many people (including key characters) dying.

But as much as this first season of “Helix” was meant to develop the main characters, it sets up for an exciting second season that I definitely look forward to watching!

 

 

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