Top

The Midnight After (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

midnightafter-a

“The Midnight After” is a film for those who enjoy series such as “The Twilight Zone” and “LOST”. Those who enjoy horror comedies but also enjoy films that showcase the premise of a fear of the unknown. Filmmaker Fruit Chan is able to deliver an entertaining horror comedy with a message about modern society. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Golden Scene Company Limited. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Midnight After

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: 121 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, Cantonese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English and Chinese

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: July 5, 2016


Directed by Fruit Chan

Screenplay by Fai-Hung Chan, Fruit Chan, Ho-Yan Kong

Produced by Amy Chin

Executive Producer: Fruit Chan, Winnie Tsang

Associate Producer: Alex Tong

Music by Veronica Lee, Ellen Joyce Loo

Cinematography by Wah-Chuen Lam

Production Design by Lim Chung Man, Andrew Wong

Costume Design by Phoebe Wong


Starring:

You-Nam Wong as You Zhi-chi

Janice Man as Yuki

Simon  Yam as Wong Man-fah

Kara Hui as Mak Sau-ying

Tien You Chui as Shun

Suet Lam as Suet

Goo-bi GC as Pat

Shing-Cheung Lee as Bobby

Sam Lee as Blind Fai

Cherry Ngan as Yi, Chi-chi’s Girlfriend

Kin-Long Chan as Glu-Stick

Ronnie Yuen as Airplane

Melodee Mak as Lavina

Jan Curious as Auyeng Wai

Chui Tien-you as Shun


16 strangers on a bus. An apocalyptic accident. A downtown full of people: Vanished. The newly-dead: Instantly Decaying. Ominous glimpses of men in gas masks. What has happened to the world, and how far would you go to get your life back?


midnightafter-b

What would you do if everyone disappeared in the world and all that is left is you and sixteen other people you rode in the bus with?

From filmmaker Fruit Chan (“Made in Hong Kong”, “Three…Extremes”, “Hollywood Hong Kong”) comes his horror-comedy “The Midnight After”, an adaptation of a serialized web fiction titled “Lost on a Red Minibus to Tai-Po” by an anonymous writer known as Pizza and was published as a novel in 2012.

The film stars You-nam Wong (“Ip Man”, “Hollywood Hong Kong”, “Tiger & Dragon Reloaded”), Janice Man (“Nightfall”, “Helios”, “Punished”), Simon Yam (“Ip Man”, “Election”, “PTU”), Kara Hui (“Dragon”, “At the End of Daybreak”, “The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter”), Tien You Chui (“Contagion”, “At the End of Daybreak”, “After This Our Exile”), Suet Lam (“Kung Fu Hustle”, “PTU”, “Election”), Goo-Bi GC (“Exodus”, “Temporary Family”, “20 30 40”), Shing-Cheung Lee (“Journey to the West”, “CJ7”, “The Stool Pigeon”), Cherry Ngan (“The Way We Dance”, “Nightfall”, “Mojin – The Lost Legend”) and Sam Lee (“Made in Hong Kong”, “Ping Pong”, “Dog Bite Dog”).

“The Midnight After” revolves around 17 people who catch a late bus from Mong Kok to Tai Po.

This includes the driver (portrayed by Lam Suet), the elder Fat (portrayed by Simon Yam), the loverboy Yau Tsi-chi (portrayed by Wong You-nam), the worried about her boyfriend Yuki (portrayed by Janice Man), the music store manager Shun (portrayed by Chui Tien-you),  the insurance salesperson/space zealot Mook Sau-ying (portrayed by Kara Hui), the otaku Auyeung Wai (portrayed by Jan Curious), the cocaine addict Blind Fai (portrayed by Sam Lee), soccer fans Pat (portrayed by Cheuk Wan-chi) and her husband Bobby (portrayed by Lee Sheung-ching), a woman named Lavina (portrayed by Melodee Mak) and two juvenile delinquents Airplane (portrayed by Ronnie Yuen) and Glu-stick (portrayed by Kelvin Chan) and four university students.

As each of them are riding the bus, as they go into a tunnel and come out, everyone tries to reach friends and love ones on their phone but no one is answering.  Each call the police and no one answers.

Everyone starts to realize that there are no signs of cars or people, even of it’s late, the city is empty.

Worried about what may happen, each are determined to stay in touch with each other.

The first one let out of the bus are the four university students.  As they get out, one is sick and the three try to get help but no one is alive or around.

As Yau Tsi-chi and Yuki leave, Yau keeps seeing a person wearing a gas mask and a vision of an evil Yuki with her hair flying all over the place.

Worried about his girlfriend, Yau Tsi-chi rides his bike all the way back to Kowloon but no one is at her place.  All he finds is dust.

Meanwhile, as the students are unable to get help, they find their friend convulsing and later blowing up.  Running away to get some help, the three see Yau Tsi-chi riding his bike, but as they run after him, the three end up turning into dust and exploding or shattering.

Everyone then receives a phone call of shrieking.

The surviving people who rode on the bus end up going to a restaurant and trying to figure out what has happened.  Shun is able to deduct that the shrieking is actually a message in morse code.  The phrases from the morse code happens to be give reference to the David Bowie song “Space Oddity”.

But what does the song happen to do with what is happening to the world?

And who of the surviving people on the bus will survive in the end?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Midnight After” is presented in 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. While I would have loved to watch the film in HD on Blu-ray, picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD. Audio is also very good considering all the action showcased in the film with good use of surround channels and LFE, especially its use in order to scare the audience.

Subtitles are in English and Chinese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The only special features included is a trailer.


midnightafter-c

The two primary reasons that attracted me to watching “The Midnight After” is filmmaker Fruit Chan who strays away from traditional Hong Kong cinema and creating cinema that is different and original.

And the other reason is for actor Sam Lee, because any horror films that tend to star him tend to be a lot of fun and often crazy.

From “Bio-Zombie” and “Bio-Cops” and the fact that both Chan and Lee have collaborated before, needless to say, I couldn’t help but wonder what type of horror comedy that Fruit Chan had up his sleeve.

What we get is something that feels very “Twilight Zone” mixed with the popular American sci-fi drama series “Lost”.

A group of people who are very different from each other, now having to work together and survive and find out why the world has changed and why they are the only people alive.

Some wonder if it’s a virus like SARS and people have turned into zombies, others wonder if it was some sort of radiation or aliens. And the confusion intensifies with morse code that translates into lyrics from David Bowie’s hit 1969 song “Space Oddity” and a mysterious figure wearing a gas mask.

But its the sense of not knowing what is going on that helps propel the film to become interesting and seeing who survives and dies.  Not just from whatever is out there killing them but also from the survivor’s own hands.

But underneath all the comedy and the jokes, leaving that aside, there is a message within the film that discusses various issues affecting people, from the lack of religious beliefs, economic downturn, lack of trust in the political system and other themes.

And as for the horror, one should not think of blood curdling horror but more of the fear of the unknown and also, how the survivors respond when one of their own commits an unforgivable crime.  Also, give thanks to the use of sound and music in creating hair jumping fear for the viewer.

“The Midnight After” is a witty and entertaining film, but for those looking for a resolve, the film is one of those that requires for one to come up with answers for themselves.  Nothing is clear cut.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good, as one can expect on DVD, but wish this film was released on Blu-ray.  And as for special features, there are none.

Overall, “The Midnight After” is a film for those who enjoy series such as “The Twilight Zone” and “LOST”.  Those who enjoy horror comedies but also enjoy films that showcase the premise of a fear of the unknown.  Filmmaker Fruit Chan is able to deliver an entertaining horror comedy with a message about modern society.

Recommended!

 

 

Electra Woman & Dyna Girl (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

ewdg

The “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl” reboot is a more mature, hilarious action film that pays homage to the original ’70s Sid & Marty Krofft children’s show. Great production values and costume design including an upbeat performance by YouTube personalities, Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart. I definitely recommend the film but also hope there will be a sequel!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Martel Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Electra Woman and Dyna Girl

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2016

DURATION: 81 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: July 5, 2016


Based on the characters from the TV series “Sid & Marty Krofft’s ‘Electra Woman and Dyna Girl'”

Directed by Chris Marrs Piliero

Written by Hannibal Deiz, Chris Marrs Piliero, Don Piliero

Produced by Tim Carter, Chris Foss

Co-Producers: Hannibal Deiz

Executive Produced by Sid & Marty Krofft, Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, Ken Treusch, Sarah Weichel, Thomas Lesinski

Music by Chris Ridenhour

Cinematography by Brenda Uegama

Edited by Spencer Houck

Costume Design by Katrina McCarthy

Production Design by Tony Deyenvi


Starring:

Grace Helbig as Lori (Electra Woman)

Hannah Hart as Judy (Dyna Girl)

Christopher Coutts as Frank Heflin

Trevor Lerner as Captain Phaser

Matreya Fedor as Bernice

Christpoher Coutts as Frank Heflin

Andy Buckley as Dan Dixon


ELECTRA WOMAN & DYNA GIRL puts a fresh new twist on Sid and Marty Krofft’s cult classic ‘70s TV series. Starring YouTube sensations Grace Helbig (Electra Woman) and Hannah Hart (Dyna Girl), the crime-fi ghting duo takes their super personas and crime-fi ghting chops up a notch when they move from small-town Ohio to the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.


Back in 1976, Sid and Marty Krofft, (best known for shows such as “Donny & Marie”, “Wonderbug”, “Bigfood and Wildboy”, “The Brady Bunch Hour”, etc.) would create a sci-fi children’s television series known as “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl”.

A campy ’70s superheroine show that would be similar to the old “Batman” TV series, with a female hero and her trust teen sidekick, the series would receive a modern reboot starring YouTube personalities, Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart as the new Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.

Presented online as eight 11-minute web episodes, the episodes were then made into a full-length film titled “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl” and will be available on DVD in July 2016.

The film would revolve around two amateur superheroes: Lori/Electra Woman (portrayed by Grace Helbig) and her friend/roommate Judy/Dyna Girl (portrayed by Hannah Hart) who fight crime in Akron, Ohio.

As Lori is not happy about seeing how their superhero lives are going and seeing superheroes such as Captain Vault showcased on TV commercials, Lori wonders if they can do more, while Judy is cool with just making a difference in Akron despite not having enough money to pay the bills.

One day, the two as Electra Woman and Dyna Girl go to a local convenience store to get a slushy but when two robbers (one filming their theft on their cell phone) come into the store, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl end up defeating the robbers and uploading the video on social media.

Immediately, Lori and Judy’s luck changes after the video becomes viral and they are welcomed to Hollywood by an agent who wants to make the duo popular, by featuring them on television.

With new costumes and technology, the duo make their debut on an interview for television and during an interview, masked thieves are seen in the background.  And immediately, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl defeat the thieves and become a national sensation.

But as they become popular, the focus by the media is on Electra Woman, while Dyna Girl is seen as a sidekick than a partner.  And as Lori/Electra Woman becomes enamored by the media attention, Judy/Dyna Girl doesn’t like how their lives are changing, but more importantly, how Lori’s ego is changing for the worse.

Meanwhile, a new powerful supervillain named Empress of Evil has come out of nowhere and is causing havoc in the city.  Can Electra Woman and Dyna Girl defeat such a powerful villain?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Electra Woman and Dyna Girl” is presented in 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  While I would have loved to watch the film in HD on Blu-ray, picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD.  Audio is also very good considering all the action showcased in the film with good use of surround channels and LFE.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Electra Woman and Dyna Girl” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart
  • Making of Electra Woman & Dyna Girl – (5:15) The making of the superhero film!  Interviews with Grace, Hannah and the cast.
  • Inside Creative Masked Management – (3:13) Dan Dixon, the CMM Super Agent promotes CMM.
  • Electra Car for Sale – (1:46) Electra Woman and Dyna Girl video to sell their old Electra car.
  • Making the Poster – (2:35) Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart being photographed for their film poster.
  • CMM: The Superhero Agency – (:33) Electra Woman and Dyna Girl promote their agency.
  • Dan Dixon: CMM Super Agent – (:21) Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart talks about Dan Dixon’s character.
  • Megaline: The Source for Celebrity News – (:28) Electra Woman and Dyna Girl promote Megaline.
  • Everybody Loves Plant Man (:27) Electra Woman and Dyna Girl talk about Plan Man.
  • There’s No Sidekick Here – (:19) Electra Woman and Dyna Girl discuss if Dyna Girl is a sidekick.
  • Grace & Hannah at San Diego Comic-Con – (12:26) Dan Casey interviews Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart at SDCC.

As a child, I can remember growing up watching the original “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl” and then many years later, looking it up on YouTube and realizing that the main actress was Deidre Hall.  But watching it again on YouTube and realizing how campy the children’s show was.

But it had its mystique with its disco music and in many ways, it fit the mold of superhero action of the ’70s as many of us grew up watching “Batman” TV series reruns or “Wonder Woman” and the older Superman TV shows.  And of course, the big hit superhero animation series “Super Friends”.

But the late ’70s was interesting because it featured women in action, with “Charlie’s Angels” and “Wonder Woman” on primetime but for children, the fact that there was Electra Woman & Dyna Girl on daytime, in terms of pop culture, to have strong female leads in a children’s show was rare.

When I heard that Electra Woman & Dyna Girl was receiving a reboot, needless to say, my expectations weren’t set too high, considering the original was very campy, unless it was uber-terrible, the reboot should hopefully turn out much better, considering modern technology and better production value.

And with YouTube personalities Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart, known for their upbeat personalities, suffice to say that I was looking forward to watching the series (later compiled to make a full-length action film) and I enjoyed it.

The film featured plenty of humor, action and as expected, production values were much better, as well as overall action and special effects.  Costume design was also well-done.

And while the reboot is definitely not for children (as one scene features Dyna Girl using a weapon which rips an arm off a thief and blood gushing out and the use of profanity), the film is entertaining because of its humor.

While the reboot doesn’t feature the same type of campiness as the ’70s TV series, it does have its charm as an action/comedy film.  And to be truthful, in terms of superhero films, it wasn’t that bad, I actually enjoyed it and I hope there is a sequel.

If there was one thing that I would have hoped for, it would be a special cameo appearance by original “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl” actresses, Deidre Hall and Judy Strangis.

But the casting of Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart was great as both talents had great chemistry!  And the upbeat personality of both women that you see on their YouTube channel, they are just as upbeat in the film.

As for the DVD, while I wished Sony had released this on HD ala Blu-ray, overall picture quality and audio is very good, as one can expect on DVD.  Plus, there are a good number of special features included as well, such as an audio commentary and a making of.

Overall, the “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl” reboot is a more mature, hilarious action film that pays homage to the original ’70s Sid & Marty Krofft children’s show.  Great production values and costume design including an upbeat performance by YouTube personalities, Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart.

I definitely recommend the film but also hope there will be a sequel!

 

Adventures in Babysitting (2016) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Unknown

For families looking for a fun family film that is safe for children or those who enjoyed watching “Adventures in Babysitting” on the Disney Channel, you can’t go wrong with this entertaining and enjoyable action/adventure film on DVD. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Adventures in Babysitting

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2016

DURATION: 94 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TV G

AVAILABLE ON: June 28, 2016


Directed by John Schultz

Written by Tiffany Paulsen

Produced by Shawn Williamson

Executive Produced by Michelle Manning

Associate Producer: Jonathan Shore

Cinematography by Charles Minsky

Edited by Lisa Brinkley

Casting by Candice Elzinga

Production Design by Charles William Bren

Art Direction by Ken Rempel

Set Decoration by Kate Marshall

Costume Design by Lorraine Carson


Starring:

Sabrina Carpenter as Jenny

Sofia Carson as Lola

Max Lloyd-Jones as Officer James

Gillian Vigman as Helen

Kevin G. Quinn as Zac Chase

Ali Skovbye as Claire

Nikki Hahn as Emily Cooper

Kevin O’Grady as Barry Cooper

Jet Jurgensmeyer as Bobby Anderson

Mallory James Mahoney as Katy Cooper

Hugo Ateo as Hal


Sofia Carson (DESCENDANTS) and Sabrina Carpenter (GIRL MEETS WORLD) star in a hilarious, action-packed tale of two sitters inspired by the ’80s classic! Sparks fly when free-spirited Lola and prim, proper Jenny learn they’re up for the same internship. But that night, after newbie babysitter Lola breaks Rule #1: NEVER take your eyes off the kids, she’s forced to call Jenny — currently on her own gig — to help track down Trey, who has snuck out. Now with all their young charges in tow, these rivals must team up and brave the big city on the wildest, wackiest adventure of their lives!


In 1987, Chris Columbus’ film “Adventures in Babysitting” was a big hit.  Fastforward nearly 30-years later and a new Disney television movie of the same name.

The film would be the 100th entry for the Disney Channel of original made-for-TV films and as the film is set for released on June 24th, the DVD of the telefilm will be released on June 26th.

“Adventures in Babysitting” was directed by John Schultz (“Drive Me Crazy”, “Like Mike”, “The Honeymooners”) andw ritten by Tiffany Paulsen (“Nancy Drew”, “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”, “Runaway Bride”).

The film would star Sabrina Carpenter (“Girl Meets World”, “Noobz”, “Horns”), Sofia Carson (“Descendants”, “Tini: The Movie”), Gillian Vigman (“The Hangover” films, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”), Max Lloyd-Jones (“The Sandlot 2”, “Restless Virgins”), Nikki Hahn (“The Remains”, “Riding 79”), Jet Jurgensmeyer (“American Sniper”, “Devil’s Knot”, “The Little Rascals Save the Day”), Madison Horcher (“K.C. Undercover”, “Key and Peele”), Kevin G. Quinn (“Bunk’d”, “Monstober”) and Mallory James Mahoney.

“Adventures in Babysitting” begins with an introduction of two very opposite young women.

Jenny Parker (portrayed by Sabrina Carpenter) plays by the rules, always lived her life studying and being a great babysitter.  She is going for an photography internship in order to better her career.

Meanwhile, Lola Perez (portrayed by Sofia Carson) is a creative photographer, who often gets in trouble and has many unpaid speed tickets. So, she is needing money. She is also going for the same photography internship.

As both Jenny and Lola have been selected as the finalists, both must compete for the internship.

During the interview, the two accidentally drop their phones and pick up the wrong phone.  Jenny has Lola’s phone, while Lola has Jenny’s phone.  When she picks it up, she is offered a babysitting job meant for Jenny and Lola decides take on a job to babysit Helen Anderson (portrayed by Gillian Vigman’s) three children: The oldest child Trey (portrayed by Max Gecowets) who is in deep trouble by his parents; the young cook Bobby (portrayed by Jet Jurgensmeyer) and the roller derby loving young sister, AJ (portrayed by Madison Horcher).

Meanwhile, Jenny is babysitting the Cooper’s two daughters: the rebellious Emily (portrayed by Nikki Hahn), who has a big crush on Trey Anderson and the fashionista little sister Katy (portrayed by Mallory James Mahoney).

While Bobby is cooking and Lola is more interested in going in the hot tub than watching the children, Bobby accidentally causes a fire and AJ ends up talking to Jenny and letting her know that “her friend” Lola is babysitting them.

Surprised that Lola has went that far, Jenny takes the Cooper’s two daughters to the Anderson home and is shocked about how much trouble Lola has caused.  Meanwhile, they are unaware that Trey has left home in order to purchase concert tickets.

Afraid that they will get in big trouble with Trey gone, Jenny, Lola and the kids go to search for him.  And as they go into a pawn shop, they are unaware that the store clerks are planning an illegal deal to sell an expensive stolen sapphire ferret.  And because Lola had taken a photo of one of the thieves, the thieves try to get the camera back and Jenny and Lola and the children they are babysitting, end up traveling throughout the city to escape from the thieves pursuing them.

But can Jenny and Lola protect the kids, considering they are opposites and are often quarreling with each other?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Adventures in Babysitting” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD. But I wished this film was released on Blu-ray. But overall picture quality and audio is very good.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Adventures in Babysitting” comes with the following special features:

  • Adventures in Outtakes – (1:40) Outtakes

EXTRAS:

“Adventures in Babysitting” comes with a Slipcover, Disney Movie Rewards code and an “Adventures in Babysitting” Rules Magnet.


As a fan of the original “Adventures in Babysitting” film, I was actually quite interested in seeing how Disney would do with their latest Disney Channel film.

And one of the good things is that while it borrows the concept of the original film of the babysitter and the children getting into a bit of trouble and having to go on adventures through the city, it’s a much different film as there are two babysitters, two families and the two babysitters, don’t really get along.

Jenny is more of the dedicated, career-driven, perfectionist.  Lola is the rebellious and creative artist.  Both are vying for a photography internship and due to a mixup of phones, because Lola needs money, she takes on a babysitting job meant for Jenny.

But when Lola’s lack of babysitting skills, leads her to forget about the oldest boy that she has to babysit, who has snuck out of the house to buy some concert tickets, this leads Jenny, Lola and the kids they are babysitting to go out and find Trey.

But as the adventures of the two babysitters leads them to a pawn shop which Trey was buying concert tickets at, they are unaware that the two employees are thieves who are trying to make a sale of an illegal sapphire ferret.

And because Lola has taken a photo of one of the thieves and the stolen ferret, this leads the thieves to pursue them throughout the city.

But to cause problems for Jenny and Lola, they need to find Trey, the Anderson’s home was left in disarray and Jenny borrows the Anderson’s expensive SUV (in order for all kids to fit in the vehicle) which ends up getting towed and to make things worse, they are somewhere in the city without any money.

For the most part, “Adventures in Babysitting” is full of family fun.  Both Sofia Carson and Sabrina Carpenter do a wonderful job of playing the roles of the two babysitters and the film has a lot of energy, action and humor which makes the overall adventures fun and exciting.

But each of the children featured, they all bring something different and fun for the film.  From rebellious teens, a boy who loves to cook, a girl who who loves rollerblading and a young girl who is a fashionista.  So, it’s a fun cast to watch!

And as always, the Disney Channel has done a great job in creating telefilms that the whole family can enjoy.

As for the DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD, but I do wish there was a Blu-ray release of the film.  Dialogue and music are clear and you get outtakes plus an “Adventures in Babysitting” Rules magnet.  And like most Disney releases, you receive a digital HD code that can be entered on Disney Movie Rewards.

Overall, for families looking for a fun family film that is safe for children or those who enjoyed watching “Adventures in Babysitting” on the Disney Channel, you can’t go wrong with this entertaining and enjoyable action/adventure film on DVD.

Recommended!

 

Kingdom: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

May 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

kingdom

“Kingdom” is one of the best anime series I have watched in quite some time, and I have to say it is one of the most exciting action-driven anime series I have watched since I have been reviewing anime series since 1993. “Kingdom: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Kingdom: The Complete First Season

AIR DATE OF SERIES: 2012-2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-38 (Duration: 975 Minutes, 6 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Japanese Stereo, English Stereo, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: January 26, 2016


Originally created by Yasuhisa Hara

Directed by Jun Kamiya

Series Composition by Naruhisa Arakawa

Music by Minako Seki

Art Director by Junichi Higashi

Animation Production by Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Masakazu Morita/Justin Cook as Ri Shin (Xin)

Jun Fukuyama as Piao/Yin Zing

Junichi Suwabe as Lord Changping

Koji Yusa as Heki

Kouki Miyata as Seikyō

Masaya Takatsuka as Hou Ken

Mie Sonozaki as Yang Duan He (You Tan Hei)

Rie Kugimiya as Karyō Ten

Rikiya Koyama as Ō Ki

Yōko Hikasa as Kyō Kai

Yutaka Nakano as Shōbun-kun


When low-born servant boys Piao and Xin set out to become the world’s greatest war generals, they quickly find themselves caught up in a violent struggle between two noblemen plotting to overthrow the King. After Piao is killed protecting the rightful ruler of the kingdom of Qin, Xin sets out on a campaign for revenge that leads him straight into the fire of war.

Now, with a target on his back and an army of enemies standing in his way, it will be up to a boy with no name and a young king without a throne to return order to their war-torn country in this historical action-drama based on the Tezuka Award-winning manga, Kingdom.


In 2006, mangaka Yasuhisa Hara created his award-winning manga series “Kingdom”.

A fictionalized account of the Warring States period, the series has sold over 20 million copies in 2015 and was the grand prize winner of the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2013.

The anime series adaptation produced by Pierrot aired on NHK in 2012-2013, with a second season having aired in 2013-2014.

And now the first season of “Kingdom” is now available on DVD in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation.

The anime series begins with the introduction of two war-orphans, Xin and Piao.  Both often training their fighting skills and have their dreams of becoming “Great Generals of the Heavens” in the kingdom of Qin.  But both are peasants and are household slaves.

Xin is more of the hotheaded and blunt of the two, one day while fighting, a minister arrives and gives Piao the opportunity to have a position in the Palace, while Xin who is saddened he would be separated from Piao, knows that if one of them can make their dreams come true to become a general, then their dreams will be fulfilled.

A short time has past and one day, a bloodied and near-death Piao arrives and tells Xin that he must fulfill a mission as he is unable to make it.  Piao tells Xin that an assassin hired by the Cheng Jiao Faction is responsible and that their dreams will now be up to him but he must take a map and fulfill the rest of the mission.  Piao dies and Xin wants revenge on who is responsible for killing him.

Xin is joined by Heliao Dao, the last descendant of her Mountain Tribe, the Kyuumei and has disguised herself as a male.  Both try to find out what happened to Piao and it was learned that the reason why Piao was taken to the palace was to become the body double of King Ying Zheng who was targeted by opposing forces.  A job which Piao was proudly to take.

As Xin takes up the mantle to protect Ying Zheng (in reality, would become the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang and the person responsible for unifying China), the journey of the anime series would show how Xin would develop his skills, learn from the best generals and eventually become a field commander and prepare for his journey to make his dream of becoming a general come true.

But every step of the way, the kingdom of Zhao and their powerful generals are bent on destroying the Qin and their legendary general, Wang Qi.


“Kingdom” consists of:

Xin – The main protagonist.  A young man who dreams of becoming the “World’s Greatest General”.  The story follows this war orphan as he slowly becomes a commander and works and trains to become a general and taking part of many major military campaigns with his “Flying Xin Unit”.

Ying Zheng – The young king of Qin, who looks like Xin’s best friend Piao.  Dreams of uniting China.

Piao – Xin’s childhood friend and he and Xin dream of becoming “Generals of the Heavens”.  One day, he is approached by the minister for a position in the Palace.

Heliao Dao – The last descendant of her Mountain Tribe, the Kyuumei.  She disguises herself as a male and is trying to find her way in the world.  She also has a crush on Xin, who doesn’t know she is a girl.

Changwen-jun – A former warrior and senior adviser of Ying Zheng.

Bi – A loyal subordinate of Changwen Jun and a 1000-man commander.

Qiang Hui – The heir of the legendary assassin clan “Chi You”, only Xin and Dao know that she is female.  A wonderful soldier and strategist.  Obsessed with getting revenge for the one responsible of murdering her sister.

Wang Qi – The legendary Strange Bird general of the Qin Empire and one of the Six Great Generals of Qin who was a general under Ying Zheng’s father.  Responsible for conquering the middle kingdoms and is an excellent warrior and strategist.  He is the mentor of Xin and dreams of uniting China.

Li Mu – The Prime Minister of Zhao and the series primary antagonist.  A brilliant strategist seeking to destroy the Qin.

Pang Nuan – A general for the Zhao, he doesn’t command any troops and proclaims himself “The God of War”.  He is literally a one-man army and has only lost to one man in the past, Wang Qi.


VIDEO :

A fantastic anime series that compliments Yasuhisa Hara’s manga series.  The emotion of the characters are well-displayed, action on the battlefield is wonderfully presented. Colors are vibrant and I really wished this series received a Blu-ray release.  But for the most part, “Kingdom” looks great on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “Kingdom” is presented in Japanese and English stereo.  Both are well-acted but since I watched the series originally in its Japanese format, I’m a bit more biased towards the Japanese voice acting.  But I’m glad that this series is presented in both Japanese and English and anime action fans can surely enjoy this awesome series.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Kingdom” unfortunately doesn’t come with any special features.


It’s been long time since I have been excited about watching an anime series.

I have been aware of the rave reviews that Yasuhisa Hara’s “Kingdom” manga series had received and watching the anime series, I was in awe of how entertaining this action-driven anime series was.

From its smart display of using strategy of the Qin Empire and its enemies, the storyline is wonderfully written, pacing is excellent and unlike other anime series with plenty of characters, “Kingdom” is not hampered by complicated storylines, too much focus on other characters in order to create filler.

This is a straight-up, action-driven anime series focused on Xin’s learning of the battlefield, growing as a commander and working towards his goal of becoming a general and how he inspires people around him.

When focusing on another character, it gives short glimpses of their past, but never to the point it seems like filler just to extend a battle.  So, for those who are familiar with series such as “Naruto” and “Bleach” and had to wait season after season (several years) just to finish one war, “Kingdom” doesn’t waste any time at all.  And that’s a major plus!

The series also showcases the importance of war, but also how the deaths of comrades lies on the shoulders of generals and episodes show the bonds with a leader and their soldiers.

While the first dozen episodes does a good job of introducing Xin and his temper getting the best of him, but yet showing qualities of a great soldier, it’s the overall pacing of seeing his growth on the battlefield that I found very intriguing, the strategies employed to be fascinating and the storyline is fantastic.

“Kingdom: The Complete First Season” features the first 38 episodes and I can’t wait for season 2.

Presented in both Japanese and English, anime fans who love war and action-driven storylines will enjoy “Kingdom”.  While I wish the anime series was released on Blu-ray, the anime series still looks good on DVD.  There are no special features included.

While not having any special features is unfortunate, the fact that you get all 38-episodes for the first season for this DVD collection at a great price is wonderful!

Overall, “Kingdom” is one of the best anime series I have watched in quite some time, and I have to say it is one of the most exciting action-driven anime series I have watched since I have been reviewing anime series since 1993.

“Kingdom: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

 

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

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

onepieces7p5-a

“One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” features Luffy’s race to free his brother Ace from execution, but Luffy must take on his biggest rival yet, Magellan.

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five

DURATION: Episodes 434-445 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: January 26, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Duncan Brannan as Mr. 3

Kazuki Yao/Barry Yandell as Bon Clay


The Burning Hot Hell of Impel Down serves as the backdrop for a showdown with Warden Magellan, a monster with a penchant for poisoning prisoners! Luffy throws down with the toxic terror, but no warrior escapes unscathed when pummeling a foe too poisonous to touch.

After the rubber-man succumbs to the toxins breaking down his body, Bon Clay braves subzero temperatures and bloodthirsty wolves to track down a miracle worker rumored to have vanished into the gates of hell! Enter Emporio Ivankov. This larger-than-life personality has the Healing Hormones needed to save Luffy, but the cure could take ten years off the pirate’s life!

Consequences be damned, Luffy and Bon Clay take the ultimate leap of faith as they hurtle toward a reunion with Crocodile – and prison riot that could spring them from the clink and speed them on the way to saving Ace!


The race is on to save Luffy’s brother, Ace from being executed.

With Ace being held prisoner inside the hellish prison known as Impel Down, Luffy and Bon Clay must confront the poisonous warden, Warden Magellan.

Find out if Luffy is able to achieve his goal in “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five”, available now on DVD from FUNimation!

What is “One Piece”?

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

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 17th season and a total of 741 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” (Episodes 434-445), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

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

So far, in “One Piece”, the group has entered Fishman Island and meet an old enemy, Hatchan and his friends Camie and Papagg. But also the first mate of Gold Roger, Silvers Rayleigh and also 9 rookie pirates known as the “11 Supernovas”.

The Straw Hat Pirates find out that their mermaid friend, Camie is being sold off in an auction and they must rescue her. News from the World Government arrives that they are going to execute the captured Portgas D. Ace, a move that could provoke a war with Whitebeard.

But what happens when the team fights for their life against Bartholomew Kuma, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea?


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 434 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director Mike McFarland, Colin Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy), Duncan Brannan (voice of Mr. 3) and Barry Yandell (voice of Bon Clay).

DISC 2:

  • Cooking with Sanji – (21:59) Featuring Eric Vale (voice of Sanji) in a cooking featurette for a Thai pasta dish.
  • Episode 442 Commentary – ADR Director Mike McFarland with voice talents Colin Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy), Jeremy Inman (voice of Magelan) and Randy Pearlman (voice of Ivankoff).
  • Textless Opening – Textless opening song for “Kaze wo Sagashite”
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming FUNimation releases.

With the release of “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five”, the episodes are from the 13th season (featuring episodes 434-445), Luffy and Mr. 2 (Bon Clay) are trying to find Luffy’s brother, Ace, who has been captured and sentenced for execution by the ruthless and poisonous warden Magellan.

As Magellan is prepping Ace for the Marines, Luffy is willing to fight the warden, despite his ability of excreting poison.

Meanwhile, in order to survive, Luffy may need to turn to former enemies for their help.

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

Overall, “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” is an another action-packed volume as Luffy must take on his most dangerous opponent yet, Warden Magellan.  Meanwhile, trying to survive in order to save his brother Ace from execution.

If you are a “One Piece” fan, “One Piece: Season Seven, Voyage Five” is worth watching!

Recommended!

 

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

April 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

eastsidesushi

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

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


DVD TITLE: East Side Sushi

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: 106 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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

AVAILABLE ON: May 3, 2016


Directed by Anthony Lucero

Written by Anthony Lucero

Executive Produced by Zheng Xu


Starring:

Diana Elizabeth Torres as Juana

Yutaka Takeuchi as Aki

Rodrigo Duarte Clark as Apa

Kaya Jade Aguirre as Lydia

Roji Oyama as Mr. Yoshida

Lane Nishikawa as Jimmy Nishida

Miyoko Sakatani as Mrs. Yoshida


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

April 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

greathypnotist-a

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

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


DVD TITLE: The Great Hypnotist

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: 102 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

AVAILABLE ON: April 5, 2016


Directed by Leste Chen

Written by Ren Peng

Executive Produced by Zheng Xu


Starring:

Zheng Xu as Xu Ruining

Karen Mok as Ren Xiaoyan/Gu Jie

Jing Hu as Chen Ting

Zhong Lu as Pro Fang

David Yao-Qing Wang as Luo Yusong


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


greathypnotist-c

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


greathypnotist-d

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Great Hypnotist” comes with a theatrical trailer.


greathypnotist-b

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Great Hypnotists” is recommended!

 

Stealing Cars (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

stealingcas

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

© 2015 Cuckoo Luke LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Stealing Cars

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 101 Minutes

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

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: April 5, 2016


Directed by Bradley Kaplan

Written by Will Aldis, Steve Mackall

Produced by Dan Keston, Rachel Winter

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

Co-Executive Producer: Sean Lydiard

Music by Phil Mossman

Cinematographer: Martin Ahlgren

Edited by Jarrett Fijal, Sabine Hoffman, Adam Zuckerman

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

Production Design by Paul Avery

Art Direction by Lisa Myers

Set Decoration by Jesika Farkas

Costume Design by Deirdra Elizabeth Govan


Starring:

Emory Cohen as Billy Wyatt

Heather Lind as Nurse Simms

William H. Macy as Philip Wyatt

Paul Sparks as Conrad Sean Lewis

John Leguizamo as Montgomery De La Cruz

Felicity Huffman as Kimberly Wyatt

Mike Epps as Sherif Till

Chance Kelly as Jimmy Carmichael

Paul Borghese as Guard Guarino

Jeff Lima as Carlos

Tariq Trotter as Lionel McWrothers

Al Calderon as Nathan Stein


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Stealing Cars” comes with no special features.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

March 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

droidtales

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


DVD TITLE: LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales

DURATION: (Five Episodes) 115 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TV Y7 FV

Release Date: March 1, 2016


Directed by Michael Hegner, Martin Skov

Written by Michael Price, Mick Kelly, Matty Smith

Original Music by John Williams

Executive Producers: Erik Wilstrup, Torsten Jacobsen, Michael Price

Producer: Irene Sparre

Produced by WIL FILM ApS


Featuring the voices of:

Tom Kane as Yoda/Narrator

Anthony Daniels as C-3P0

Matt Sloan as Darth Vader

Trevor Devall as Emperor Palpatine

Michael Daingerfield as Han Solo

Eric Bauza as Luke Skywalker

Heather Doerksen as Princess Leia

Michael Donovan as Count Dooku

Lee Tockar as Nute Gunray

Kirby Morrow as Anakin Skywalker

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian

Brian Drummond as Watto

Sam Vincent as Young Obi-Wan Kenobi

Adrian Holmes as Mace Windu

Montana Norberg as Padme Amidala

Colin Murdock as General Veers

Elysia Rotaru as Sabine Wren

Nicole Oliver as Hera Syndulla


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


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

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

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

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

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

 

 

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, there are no special features on this DVD.

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

Recommended!

 

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

February 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

lionguard

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

Image courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


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

DURATION: 44 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TY V

Release Date: February 23, 2016


Directed by Howy Parkins

Written by Ford Riley

Produced by Ford Riley

Casting by Brian Mathias


Featuring the following voice talent:

Dee Bradley Baker as Hyenas

Jeff Bennett as Zazu

Dusan Brown as Beshte

Max Charles as Kion

Sarah Hyland as Tiifu

James Earl Jones as Mufasa

Andrew Kishino as Janja

Rob Lowe as Simba

Vargus Maon as Cheezi

Khary Payton as Rafiki

Madison Pettis as Zuri

Jonny Rees as Mzingo

Eden Riegel as Kiara


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Kion’s Lion Guard protect the Pride Lands?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Next Page »

Bottom