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Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

silentozu42-a

“Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is a fantastic DVD release. The Criterion Collection has been a solid supporter of Ozu’s work and to see these three crime dramas finally be released in the U.S., has been a long time in waiting for fans of his films. If you are a big fan of Yasujiro Ozu and his films, then this Eclipse Series set is a no-brainer, “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1933 Shochiku Co., Ltd. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas

YEAR OF FILM: Walk Cheerfully (1930), That Night’s Wife (1930), Dragnet Girl (1933)

DURATION: Walk Cheerfully (96 Minutes), That Night’s Wife (65 Minutes), Dragnet Girl (100 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Piano Score, Optional English Subtitles, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: April 21, 2015

 


The great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is best known for the stately, meditative domestic dramas he made after World War II. But during his first decade at Shochiku studios, where he dabbled in many genres, he put out a trio of precisely rendered, magnificently shot and edited silent crime films about the hopes, dreams, and loves of small-time crooks. Heavily influenced in narrative and visual style by the American films that Ozu adored, these movies are revelatory early examples of his cinematic genius, accompanied here by new piano scores by Neil Brand.


dragnetgirl

Yasujiro Ozu is one of the world’s beloved directors. Having made many films since the 1920’s, the director is best known today by cineaste for his films about the Japanese family and often its dissolution.

And while the Criterion Collection has released Ozu’s silent films via the Eclipse Series which depicted the Japanese family, during his time working for Shochiku, he also took on the gangster genre which were inspired by Hollywood cinema during the ’30s.

To showcase the films of this era, the Criterion Collection will be releasing “Eclipse Series #42: Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas” featuring the films (please click on the link to read the review):

“Walk Cheerfully” (1930)

“That Night’s Wife” (1930)

“Dragnet Girl” (1933)


walkcheerfully

Yasujiro Ozu’s 14th film “Hogaraka ni ayume” (Walk Cheerfuly) revolves around Kenji Koyama (portrayed by Minoru Takada), also known as “Ken the Knife”, who runs a group of thieves.

While accompanying his right hand man Senko (portrayed by Hisao Yoshitani), he is captivated by Yasue (portrayed by Hiroko Kawasaki), a woman he sees walking to a jewelry store and assumes that she is wealthy.

In truth, Yasue is poor and works hard to pay the bills to take care of her mother and her younger sister.  She hates working for her boss, because each time she is alone in his office, he sexually harasses her, often blocking the exit way, so she can leave the office.

As Ken tries to pretend he is wealthy and tries to learn how to play golf, during a drive with one of his thieves, they nearly run over a young girl.  The girl turns out to be Yasue’s younger sister and Kenji comes to their rescue.

This is the beginning of Ken and Yasue’s relationship as he learns that she is not wealthy but he loves spending every moment with her.

But when Chieko (portrayed by Satoko Date), one of the female thieves becomes jealous of Kenji going after Yasue, she tries to tell her the truth that Kenji is a gangster and that he is using her.

She finds out that Chieko is telling the truth and for Ken, the thought of not being with Yasue hurts him.  Enough for him to want to change his lifestyle and be a man that plays by the rules.

But can this former criminal escape from his past?

It was very interesting to watch an Ozu silent that revolves around a group of criminals but the film is not so far removed from the Japanese family struggles that he tended to depict in his earlier films.

“Walk Cheerfully” is no doubt a story about a man who wants to change his life, get away from crime and do all he can in order to make the girl he loves, respect him.

We see the transformation that the character Ken goes through as being a cold thief to a man with integrity.

A mix of comedy, romance and drama, “Walk Cheerfully” is an easy film to watch because of its characters but you can’t help but root for Ken and his willingness to change for Yasue.  You also want to see Yasue happy because you realized that she came from a poor family and has done all she can to take care of the family and help make ends meet.

Actor Minoru Takada does a great job at playing Ken, but he also becomes a male actor that you eventually see more and more in an Ozu film.  Actress Hiroko Kawasaki also shines as the character Yasue, a character that has to play a wide range of emotions but you also can’t help wanting to see more of her, because she brings vibrancy and innocence to the film.

thatnightswife

“That Night’s Wife” begins with a man committing a robbery at a nearby office.  He beats and ties up everyone in the office and leaves with bags of cash.

As the police are on the lookout for this criminal, when he gets home, we realize that at home, he is hardly a thug.

The criminal is Shuji Hashizume (portrayed by Tokihiko Okada), a married man and loving husband to Mayumi (portrayed by Emiko Yagamo) and has a child named Michiko (portrayed by Mitsuko Ichimura) who is very ill.

The reason why Shuji has been stealing money is primarily for his daughter as he doesn’t have any money to pay for medicine or a doctor.  And she is so ill, that she may not survive the night.

He doesn’t like the fact that he has to steal to pay for his daughters doctor bills but he has no choice.

But when the police detective Kagawa (portrayed by Togo Yamamoto) pays a visit to their home in order to capture him, the detective realizes the criminal’s true intention, but does that pardon him from the crimes that he has done?

And for those who like a little comedy, romance and drama, will surely find Ozu’s “Walk Cheerfully” to be an entertaining silent film!

The second film featured, “Sono yo no tsuma” (That Night’s Wife) is the shortest of this crime dramas and is a film adaptation of a novel by Oscar Shisgall.  It also has a more darker storyline compared to the other two crime dramas.

Watching “That Night’s Wife”, it does have a banal theme of a man driven by bad luck of his daughter’s ill health and now must steal to pay for her doctor’s bills.

While the storyline has been done and redone over again, “That Night’s Wife” is much different in the fact that you get this back-and-forth between characters, not knowing how this film is gong to end.

There is no doubt a message in the film of how crime doesn’t pay but this is a film that tries to have the viewer put themselves in the shoes of the criminal.  How far would you go for your sick child who may die any minute?

In this case, Shuji and also his wife, will do all they can to protect their family.

But as mentioned, it’s rather interesting to see how the three actors, Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto interact with each other through the back-and-forth scenes of who will outbest who.

Also, the film shot primarily in the family’s home and so, it’s very interesting to see how Ozu was able to capture the plight of each individual in such cramped quarters.

Once again, this film is another wonderful addition to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”.  It’s shorter and much darker than the other two films, but still, entertaining and keeps you on your feet as how you think the film may end, may keep changing, because of the way the final 10 minutes is structured.

Still, “That Night’s Wife” is a short, entertaining silent film from Yasujiro Ozu with a wonderful performance by Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto.

With his inspiration coming from Hollywood films, as there were films that combined gangster activity, pool playing and even boxing, all those elements can be seen in Ozu’s “Dragnet Girl” which was shot in 1933.

The film revolves around former boxer Jyoji (portrayed by Joji Oka).  Often at the boxing club to spot the latest talent, including rookie featherweight Hiroshi (portrayed by Hideo Matsui), he is often working with his secretary Tokiko (portrayed by Kinuyo Tanaka).

Often seen as the stylish right-hand gal for Jyoji, she quickly becomes jealous when she hears that Jyoji is spending a good amount of time with Kazuko, the nice and gentle sister of Hiroshi.  And her good nature makes Jyoji think about his own life.

Jealous…how far will Tokiko go to keep Jyoji and stop him from messing around with other women.

With the third film featured in the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”, “Dragnet Girl” has a lot in common with the other two films but also the Hollywood gangster films that Ozu was enamored with.

The recurring theme of criminals wanting to get out of the profession is common. The recurring theme of a criminal changed by another woman outside of their world is common, but where Hollywood would take risks of showing a woman going so far to kill due to their jealousy (and we have seen this happen with many men), “Dragnet Girl” is fascinating in the fact that the jealous woman finds herself taking a liking to the good-natured woman as well.

Similar to “Walk Cheerfully” as the protagonist, a criminal wanting to make a change in their life for the better good, Ozu no doubt makes the viewer (especially during that era) feel that a life of crime doesn’t pay and there is always an escape.

But the obstacle in the film is that the main character, Jyoji, is being tied to that criminal world by the woman that loves him, but it’s the woman he really loves that makes him want to quit and that is the conundrum.

But leave it to Ozu to show that there is always a glimmer of hope, even for those who have committed crimes.

“Dragnet Girl” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”. It’s no doubt a film that is inspired by Ozu’s love for Hollywood film noir.

And with these three films featured in the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”, this release gives the Ozu cineaste a chance to see more silent films created during the silent era but also another side of Ozu’s oeuvre that we would not be able to see in his other, later feature films.

Sure, they are gangster films with message of hope but you can see a glimmer of the Ozu style that he would exhibit in his later films.  From the way he shoots his characters, the way he is able to utilize small sets but also location shots.

Overall, “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is a fantastic DVD release.  The Criterion Collection has been a solid supporter of Ozu’s work and to see these three crime dramas finally be released in the U.S., has been a long time in waiting for fans of his films.

If you are a big fan of Yasujiro Ozu and his films, then this Eclipse Series set is a no-brainer, “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is highly recommended!

 

Dragnet Girl (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

silentozu42-a

“Dragnet Girl” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.  It’s no doubt a film that is inspired by Ozu’s love for Hollywood film noir.

Image courtesy of © 1933 Shochiku Co., Ltd. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragnet Girl (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas)

YEAR OF FILM: 1933

DURATION: 100 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Silent with optional score, Optional English Subtitles, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: April 21, 2015


Directed by Yasujiro Ozu

Screenplay by Tadao Ikeda

Story by James Maki (pen name for Yasujiro Ozu)

Cinematography by Hideo Shigehara

Edited by Kazuo Ishikawa, Minoru Kuribayashi

Art Direction by Yonekazu Wakita

Set Decoration by Takeshi Hoshino

Costume design by Kurenai Saitou


Starring:

Kinuyo Tanaka as Tokiko

Joji Oka as Jyoji

Sumiko Mizukubo as Kazuko

Koji Mitsui as Hiroshi

Yumeko Aizome as Misako

Yoshio Takayama as Senko

Koji Kaga as Misawa

Yasuo Nanjo as Okazaki


This formally accomplished and psychologically complex gangster tale pivots on the growing attraction between Joji, a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko, the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum—a relationship that provokes the jealousy of Joji’s otherwise patient moll, Tokiko. With effortlessly cool performances and visual inventiveness, Dragnet Girl is a bravura work from Yasujiro Ozu.


Yasujiro Ozu is one of the world’s beloved directors. Having made many films since the 1920’s, the director is best known today by cineaste for his films about the Japanese family and often its dissolution.

And while the Criterion Collection has released Ozu’s silent films via the Eclipse Series which depicted the Japanese family, during his time working for Shochiku, he also took on the gangster genre which were inspired by Hollywood cinema during the ’30s.

To showcase the films of this era, the Criterion Collection will be releasing “Eclipse Series #42: Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas” featuring the films “Walk Cheerfully” (1930), “That Night’s Wife” (1930) and “Dragnet Girl” (1933).

With his inspiration coming from Hollywood films, as there were films that combined gangster activity, pool playing and even boxing, all those elements can be seen in Ozu’s “Dragnet Girl” which was shot in 1933.

The film revolves around former boxer Jyoji (portrayed by Joji Oka).  Often at the boxing club to spot the latest talent, including rookie featherweight Hiroshi (portrayed by Hideo Matsui), he is often working with his secretary Tokiko (portrayed by Kinuyo Tanaka).

Often seen as the stylish right-hand gal for Jyoji, she quickly becomes jealous when she hears that Jyoji is spending a good amount of time with Kazuko, the nice and gentle sister of Hiroshi.  And her good nature makes Jyoji think about his own life.

Jealous…how far will Tokiko go to keep Jyoji and stop him from messing around with other women.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Dragnet Girl” is featured in 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The film is black and white and Eclipse series are films that do not receive the CRITERION COLLECTION restoration and remastering. Thus, the scratches and slight warping of the original film are very visible. The good news is that the film, despite being 82-years-old is still watchable and very enjoyable.  And of the three films, is in the best of shape.

As for audio, this is a silent film and you can listen to a piano-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Eclipse Series DVD’s unfortunately do not come with any special features. But with each DVD, there is a single page information (on the interior DVD cover which can be read since the DVD slim cases are clear) on the film.


With the third film featured in the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”, “Dragnet Girl” has a lot in common with the other two films but also the Hollywood gangster films that Ozu was enamored with.

Tthe recurring theme of criminals wanting to get out of the profession is common.  The recurring theme of a criminal changed by another woman outside of their world is common, but where Hollywood would take risks of showing a woman going so far to kill due to their jealousy (and we have seen this happen with many men), “Dragnet Girl” is fascinating in the fact that the jealous woman finds herself taking a liking to the good-natured woman as well.

Similar to “Walk Cheerfully” as the protagonist, a criminal wanting to make a change in their life for the better good, Ozu no doubt makes the viewer (especially during that era) feel that a life of crime doesn’t pay and there is always an escape.

But the obstacle in the film is that the main character, Jyoji, is being tied to that criminal world by the woman that loves him, but it’s the woman he really loves that makes him want to quit and that is the conundrum.

But leave it to Ozu to show that there is always a glimmer of hope, even for those who have committed crimes.

The film features a wonderful, early performance by actress Kinuyo Tanaka (“Sansho the Bailiff”, “Ugetsu”, “The Life of Oharu”, “The Ballad of Narayama”) as the character of Tokiko.  Tanaka gives viewers a glimpse of her ability to take on the face of a woman spurned, a woman committing crimes but also a woman that will do anything for the man she loves.

While the film is about Joji Oka’s character, Jyoji, it is Kinuyo Tanaka’s portrayal of Tokiko that is wonderfully performed!

Overall, “Dragnet Girl” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.  It’s no doubt a film that is inspired by Ozu’s love for Hollywood film noir.

 

That Night’s Wife (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

silentozu42-a

This film is another wonderful addition to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”. It’s shorter and much darker than the other two films, but still, entertaining and keeps you on your feet as how you think the film may end, may keep changing, because of the way the final 10 minutes is structured. Still, “That Night’s Wife” is a short, entertaining silent film from Yasujiro Ozu with a wonderful performance by Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto.

Image courtesy of © 1930 Shochiku Co., Ltd. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: That Night’s Wife (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas)

YEAR OF FILM: 1930

DURATION: 65 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Silent with piano score, Optional English Subtitles, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: April 21, 2015


Directed by Yasujiro Ozu

Written by Kogo Noda

Novel by Oscar Shisgall

Cinematography by Hideo Shigehara

Costume Design by Ko Saito

Set Decoration by Ryonosuke Akita, Kojiro Kawasaki and Yoneichi Wakita


Starring:

Tokihiko Okada as Shuji Hashizume, Husband

Emiko Yagumo as Mayumi, Wife

Mitsuko Ichimura as Michiko, Daughter

Chishu Ryu as Policeman

Tatsuo Saito as Suda, Doctor

Togo Yamamoto as Detective Kagawa


In noirish darkness, a man commits a shocking robbery. But, as we soon learn, this seeming criminal mastermind is actually a sensitive everyman driven to desperation by the need to provide for his family. Unfolding over the course of one night, Yasujiro Ozu’s That Night’s Wife combines suspense with the emotional domestic drama one associates with the filmmaker’s later masterpieces, and employs beautifully evocative camera work.


Yasujiro Ozu is one of the world’s beloved directors. Having made many films since the 1920’s, the director is best known today by cineaste for his films about the Japanese family and often its dissolution.

And while the Criterion Collection has released Ozu’s silent films via the Eclipse Series which depicted the Japanese family, during his time working for Shochiku, he also took on the gangster genre which were inspired by Hollywood cinema during the ’30s.

To showcase the films of this era, the Criterion Collection will be releasing “Eclipse Series #42: Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas” featuring the films “Walk Cheerfully” (1930), “That Night’s Wife” (1930) and “Dragnet Girl” (1933).

His film “Sono yo no tsuma” (That Night’s Wife) is the shortest of this crime dramas and is a film adaptation of a novel by Oscar Shisgall.  It also has a more darker storyline compared to the other two crime dramas.

“That Night’s Wife” begins with a man committing a robbery at a nearby office.  He beats and ties up everyone in the office and leaves with bags of cash.

As the police are on the lookout for this criminal, when he gets home, we realize that at home, he is hardly a thug.

The criminal is Shuji Hashizume (portrayed by Tokihiko Okada), a married man and loving husband to Mayumi (portrayed by Emiko Yagamo) and has a child named Michiko (portrayed by Mitsuko Ichimura) who is very ill.

The reason why Shuji has been stealing money is primarily for his daughter as he doesn’t have any money to pay for medicine or a doctor.  And she is so ill, that she may not survive the night.

He doesn’t like the fact that he has to steal to pay for his daughters doctor bills but he has no choice.

But when the police detective Kagawa (portrayed by Togo Yamamoto) pays a visit to their home in order to capture him, the detective realizes the criminal’s true intention, but does that pardon him from the crimes that he has done?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“That Night’s Wife” is featured in 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The film is black and white and Eclipse series are films that do not receive the CRITERION COLLECTION restoration and remastering. Thus, the scratches and slight warping of the original film are very visible. The good news is that the film, despite being 85-years-old is still watchable and very enjoyable.

As for audio, this is a silent film and you can listen to a piano-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Eclipse Series DVD’s unfortunately do not come with any special features. But with each DVD, there is a single page information (on the interior DVD cover which can be read since the DVD slim cases are clear) on the film.


Watching “That Night’s Wife”, it does have a banal theme of a man driven by bad luck of his daughter’s ill health and now must steal to pay for her doctor’s bills.

While the storyline has been done and redone over again, “That Night’s Wife” is much different in the fact that you get this back-and-forth between characters, not knowing how this film is gong to end.

There is no doubt a message in the film of how crime doesn’t pay but this is a film that tries to have the viewer put themselves in the shoes of the criminal.  How far would you go for your sick child who may die any minute?

In this case, Shuji and also his wife, will do all they can to protect their family.

But as mentioned, it’s rather interesting to see how the three actors, Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto interact with each other through the back-and-forth scenes of who will outbest who.

Also, the film shot primarily in the family’s home and so, it’s very interesting to see how Ozu was able to capture the plight of each individual in such cramped quarters.

Once again, this film is another wonderful addition to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”.  It’s shorter and much darker than the other two films, but still, entertaining and keeps you on your feet as how you think the film may end, may keep changing, because of the way the final 10 minutes is structured.

Still, “That Night’s Wife” is a short, entertaining silent film from Yasujiro Ozu with a wonderful performance by Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto.

 

Walk Cheerfully (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

   silentozu42-a

“Walk Cheerfully” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.  And for those who like a little comedy, romance and drama, will surely find Ozu’s “Walk Cheerfully” to be an entertaining silent film!

Image courtesy of © 1930 Shochiku Co., Ltd. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Walk Cheerfully (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas)

YEAR OF FILM: 1930

DURATION: 96 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Silent with piano score, Optional English Subtitles, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: April 21, 2015


Directed by Yasujiro Ozu

Screenplay by Tadao Ikeda

Story by Hiroshi Shimizu

Cinematography by Hideo Shigehara

Edited by Hideo Shigehara

Set Decoration by Hiroshi Mizutani


Starring:

Minoru Takada as Kenji Koyama

Satoko Date as Chieko

Hiroko Kawasaki as Yasue Sugimoto

Nobuko Matsuzono as Yasue’s Sister

Teruo Mori as Gunpei

Takeshi Sakamoto as Ono, the Company President

Utako Suzuki as The Mother

Hisao Yoshitani as Senko


In Yasujiro Ozu’s Walk Cheerfully, which gracefully combines elements of the relationship drama and the gangster story, small-time hood Kenji, a.k.a. Ken the Knife, wants to go straight for good girl Yasue but finds that starting over isn’t as simple as it sounds. This was the Japanese master’s first true homage to American crime movies, and it is a fleetly told, expressively shot work of humor and emotional depth.


Yasujiro Ozu is one of the world’s beloved directors. Having made many films since the 1920’s, the director is best known today by cineaste for his films about the Japanese family and often its dissolution.

And while the Criterion Collection has released Ozu’s silent films via the Eclipse Series which depicted the Japanese family, during his time working for Shochiku, he also took on the gangster genre which were inspired by Hollywood cinema during the ’30s.

To showcase the films of this era, the Criterion Collection will be releasing “Eclipse Series #42: Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas” featuring the films “Walk Cheerfully” (1930), “That Night’s Wife” (1930) and “Dragnet Girl” (1933).

His 14th film “Hogaraka ni ayume” (Walk Cheerfuly) revolves around Kenji Koyama (portrayed by Minoru Takada), also known as “Ken the Knife”, who runs a group of thieves.

While accompanying his right hand man Senko (portrayed by Hisao Yoshitani), he is captivated by Yasue (portrayed by Hiroko Kawasaki), a woman he sees walking to a jewelry store and assumes that she is wealthy.

In truth, Yasue is poor and works hard to pay the bills to take care of her mother and her younger sister.  She hates working for her boss, because each time she is alone in his office, he sexually harasses her, often blocking the exit way, so she can leave the office.

As Ken tries to pretend he is wealthy and tries to learn how to play golf, during a drive with one of his thieves, they nearly run over a young girl.  The girl turns out to be Yasue’s younger sister and Kenji comes to their rescue.

This is the beginning of Ken and Yasue’s relationship as he learns that she is not wealthy but he loves spending every moment with her.

But when Chieko (portrayed by Satoko Date), one of the female thieves becomes jealous of Kenji going after Yasue, she tries to tell her the truth that Kenji is a gangster and that he is using her.

She finds out that Chieko is telling the truth and for Ken, the thought of not being with Yasue hurts him.  Enough for him to want to change his lifestyle and be a man that plays by the rules.

But can this former criminal escape from his past?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Walk Cheerfully” is featured in 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The film is black and white and Eclipse series are films that do not receive the CRITERION COLLECTION restoration and remastering. Thus, the scratches and slight warping of the original film are very visible. The good news is that the film, despite being 85-years-old is still watchable and very enjoyable.

As for audio, this is a silent film and you can listen to a piano-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Eclipse Series DVD’s unfortunately do not come with any special features. But with each DVD, there is a single page information (on the interior DVD cover which can be read since the DVD slim cases are clear) on the film.


It was very interesting to watch an Ozu silent that revolves around a group of criminals but the film is not so far removed from the Japanese family struggles that he tended to depict in his earlier films.

“Walk Cheerfully” is no doubt a story about a man who wants to change his life, get away from crime and do all he can in order to make the girl he loves, respect him.

We see the transformation that the character Ken goes through as being a cold thief to a man with integrity.

A mix of comedy, romance and drama, “Walk Cheerfully” is an easy film to watch because of its characters but you can’t help but root for Ken and his willingness to change for Yasue.  You also want to see Yasue happy because you realized that she came from a poor family and has done all she can to take care of the family and help make ends meet.

Actor Minoru Takada does a great job at playing Ken, but he also becomes a male actor that you eventually see more and more in an Ozu film.  Actress Hiroko Kawasaki also shines as the character Yasue, a character that has to play a wide range of emotions but you also can’t help wanting to see more of her, because she brings vibrancy and innocence to the film.

Overall, “Walk Cheerfully” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.

And for those who like a little comedy, romance and drama, will surely find Ozu’s “Walk Cheerfully” to be an entertaining silent film!

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

naruto21-a

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” features filler episodes touching upon Naruto’s past but also episodes that brings us back to the Great Ninja War with the revival of deceased ninjas and criminals from the past. If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

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

DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 258-270 (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: January 20, 2015

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Series Directed by Hayato Date

Produced by Tomoko Gushima, Ken Hagino

Series Coordinator by Junki Takegami, Satoru Nishizono

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio, Hirofumi Suzuki

Music by Yasuharu Takanishi, Yaiba

Music Production by Aniplex

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

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

Hideo Ishikawa/Crispin Freeman as Itachi Uchiha

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Troy Baker as Pain

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Kujira/Steven Blum as Orochimaru

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade/Fifth Hokage

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Nobutoshi Canna/Henry Dittman as Kabuto Yakushi

Rikiya Koyama/Troy Baker as Yamato

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yasuyuki Kase/Michael Lindsay as Kankurou

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

The Fourth Great Ninja War has begun and even the strongest fight to survive! The quest for power and struggle for control leads many heroes down hard roads. Sasuke’s revelation of Naruto’s potential and his personal defeat in combat lead him to consider the path of Orochimaru. While Naruto continues to master the power within under the watchful eye of Killer Bee, The Allied Shinobi Forces confront Madara’s army of reanimated shinobi and White Zetsu. Can the alliance hold long enough to stop the army?

With the latest 21st volume of “Naruto Shippuden”, the series takes a look back to see how Naruto has helped his fellow ninjas and changed the hearts of even his enemies.

Meanwhile, the Great Ninja War is underway as Zabuza and Haku are revived to fight against Kakashi and other ninjas.  Meanwhile, Darui and his division must take on the powerful Kinkaku and Ginkaku.

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut”.

What is “Naruto”?

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

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

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

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

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

What is “Naruto Shippuden”?

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

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

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

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

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

But hiding among them is the Akatsuki Kisame (who was thought to be dead) and has been spying on them all this time and now is trying to leak the intel back to the Akatsuki. But in order to stop them, only one man will be to take him on…Guy.

Now, as Naruto is a prime target and has been taken away to a hidden area for training, the Great Ninja war has begun and Kabuto is reviving the great ninjas, good and bad and taking control of their bodies to fight against the ninjas.

Kakashi and his division must take on the revived Zabuza and Haku, who don’t want to fight but are being controlled to fight against their own will.  Meanwhile, Darui and his division are sent to take on the powerful Kinkaku and Ginkaku.

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Naruto Shippuden” is an anime series that was never known for having spectacular background art, but it’s know for its action and its characters and how it captures emotion and its intense battles. While in this episode, a lot of episodes are contained in areas near lush green trees, water or dirt, it’s not so much of the background but how the characters are design and how well the battles are portrayed. And I can easily say that with “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

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

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20″ is pretty much Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 Bilingual (Japanese and English). Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well.

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Clean Openings/Endings
  • More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers

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With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut”, the volume features a balance of filler episodes that revisit Naruto’s past and seeing how he has changed people, good and bad, for the best.  While the second half continues with the Great Ninja War as Zabuza and Haku are revived against their will and must fight against the ninjas.

Also revived are Kakuzu, Dan Kato, Hyuga Hizashi, the Gold and Silver Brothers Kinkaku and Ginkaku (the two most feared criminals in the Hidden Cloud).  Sent to fight against the two Silver Brothers is Darui, who brings his division to take on the powerful and evil brothers.

For the most part, the filler episodes are literally to show how Naruto is seen as inspirational, but the goal is to drag out the series to give Masashi Kishimoto time to finish up more manga chapters.   And the fight against the Gold and Silver Brothers is spread out to multiple episodes, but to show the great power Kabuto has of reviving feared ninjas from the past.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 12 episodes and special features have been reduced to the clean opening and endings.

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” is an essential DVD volume for those who have waited for the storyline to get back to the Great Ninja War storyline.  While there are a good number of filler episodes, they go rather quickly and in someways, it’s rather nice to revisit past storylines contained in one episode and see how Naruto inspired people over time.

If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 21 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

 

Harlock: Space Pirate (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters. The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story. While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline. Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Leiji Matsumoto/Captain Harlock Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE:  Harlock: Space Pirate

YEAR OF MOVIE RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 111 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen, English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1

COMPANY:  Ketchup Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: March 31, 2015


Based on the manga by Leiji Matsumoto

Directed by Shinji Aramaki

Screenplay by Harutoshi Fukui, Kiyoto Takeuchi

Produced by Joseph Chou, Yoshi Ikezawa, Rei Kudo

Music by Tetsuya Takahashi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Shun Oguri/David Matranga as Captain Harlock

Harama Miura/Adam Gibbs as Yama/Logan

Yu Aoi/Emily Neves as Miime

Miyuki Sawashiro/Jessica Boone as Kei Yuki

Ayano Fukuda as Tori-san

Arata Furuta as Yattaran

Kiyoshi Kobayashi as Roujin

Rob Mungle as Yulian

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Isora

Chikao Ohtsuka as Soukan

Maaya Sakamoto/Rebekah Stevens as Nami

Mike Yager as Ezra


Captain Harlock is the one man standing between the Gaia Coalition and their quest for complete intergalactic rule. Seeking revenge against those who wronged both mankind and himself, the mysterious space pirate roams the universe in his battle-cruiser, the Arcadia, defiantly attacking and pillaging enemy ships. Gaia Fleet leader Ezra sends his younger brother, Logan, to infiltrate the Arcadia and assassinate Harlock. But Logan will soon discover that things are not always what they seem and that legends are born for a reason.

Harlock pushes his loyal crew forward in his death-defying mission to undo the “Nodes of Time” and reverse the Earth to an age when still inhabited by humans. It is the year 2977 and 500 billion displaced humans long to return to the planet they still refer to as home. The rebellious Captain Harlock and his trusted crew are mankind’s only hope of one day righting the Coalition’s wrongs.


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Back in 1977, manga artist Leiji Matsumoto would create the manga series, “Captain Harlock”.

While the storyline of Captain Harlock has changed from the original “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” to the 1982 “The Arcadia of My Youth”.  While there have been numerous Harlock releases, Toei Animation announced a new Harlock movie in 2010 that would feature a CG-remake of Matsumoto’s manga and anime franchise.

The CG animated film would be directed by Shinji Aramaki, best known for his work on series such as “Megazone 23″, “Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01″, “Genesis Survivor Gaiarth”, “Appleseed”, “Appleseed Ex Machina” and many more.

Considered as one of Toei’s second most expensive film, the story would feature a story that reflected themes of modern society written by Harutoshi Fukui.

And in 2013, “Harlock: Space Pirate” premiered in Japan and in April 2015, the DVD release of the film will be available in stores on April 2015 courtesy of Ketchup Entertainment.

The film begins with the explanation that the human race spread across the galaxy establish colonies but the population exploded and resources were exhausted.  Birthrates plummeted and the human race was in decline.

As humans went back to return to Earth, a bloody conflict of who would return to Earth would lead to the “Homecoming War” as the Earth was too small to hold all humans.  Thus a governing body known as “The Gaia Communion” would bring the war to a close and the Earth was made to an “eternal sanctuary” which no one was granted passage.

There was one man who resisted, an immortal space pirate that plundered Federation starships, the most wanted man named Captain Harlock.

As the film would explain why Captain Harlock is the most wanted man, the current story would be about Harlock and his crew taking 100 detonators from the Gaia Community to start over.  But among the crew is Yama (Logan in the English dub), a young man who is working with the Gaia Community who has worked to infiltrate Harlock’s crew trying to helping his older brother Isola (name is Ezra in English dub) of the Gaia fleet in order to take down and assassinate Harlock.

But will Yama want to assassinate Harlock when he learns the truth about why Harlock wants to return to Earth?


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VIDEO:

“Harlock Space Pirate” is presented in widescreen.  As this film would look magnificent in HD, the best we are going to get of this film is on DVD.  So, while the film was released on Blu-ray in Asia, the best we are going to get in terms of picture quality is the best one can expect to see on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with an English and Japanese 5.1 soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-done and features crystal clear dialogue and music and actions sequences from space battles to weaponry being shot, utilizes the surround channels and LFE.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with no special features.


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As a fan of the Captain Harlock anime and also a fan of Leiji Matsumoto’s work, “Arcadia of My Youth” continues to be my favorite Harlock film.

The story of aliens enslaving humanity while Captain Harlock and crew fight back has always been an exciting and fascinating film.  So, in many ways, I was highly anticipating the release of the CG version of “Harlock: Space Pirate”.

Having watched the film twice now, similar to how Captain Harlock’s story has continued to change from series to series, the CG film may share similar characters but the story is quite different.

The story takes a look at not the enslaving of humanity but the threat of humanity growing at an alarming rate, colonizing other planets that are dying and for many, the result is to return back to planet Earth, but realizing that the planet is not big enough to host so many humans and thus led to a war.

Captain Harlock’s character will always be seen as a rogue pirate but in the case of this movie, humanity’s hatred towards Harlock is because his decision to save the planet, he released dark matter in a gamble which did not protect the Earth, it decimated it and killed all life on the planet.

While I don’t want to spoil details of the film, the film would go into how the Arcadia would have some artificial intelligence, it would explain how Harlock would become “immortal” but the film would go into details of why Harlock is returning to the Earth and his true mission.

Standing in his way is a young man who sort of looks like Harlock but his goal is to infiltrate the crew on behalf of his brother and the Gaia Community and assassinate Captain Harlock.

While the film features cool CG and a complex, smartly written storyline, the film maybe of the dismay of long time fans who expected the classic story by Leiji Matsumoto.  And “Harlock Space Pirate”, is not that film.

While those who haven’t watched a Harlock anime series or film or have never read the manga series may enjoy the film much more.  The character design and the way Harlock was created no doubt looks awesome in the film, as with characters such as the alien Nibelung known as Miime and Kei, the overall look and feel of the film is its strongpoint.

The film’s story did not win me over despite enjoying it for its smart writing, I still feel that “Arcadia of My Youth” remains to be the best Captain Harlock film ever made.

While I wish the film was also released on Blu-ray and special features were included, the film looks and sounds good as one can expect on DVD.

Overall, “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters.  The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story.  While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline.

Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!

 

 

Uncle Grandpa – Good Mornin’ (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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With a total of 12 hilarious episodes to keep the children (or the young at heart) busy during Spring Break, “Uncle Grandpa – Good Mornin'” is a wacky, strange and hilarious series for those who enjoy dumb comedy!  If that’s you…then this DVD is definitely for you!

Images courtesy of © 2015 by Cartoon Network. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Uncle Grandpa – Good Mornin’

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2013

DURATION: (6 episodes) 192 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widecreen, Dolby Digital English Stereo, Closed Caption

COMPANY: Cartoon Network

RATED: TV PG

RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2015


Series Created by Peter Browngardt

Directed by Audie Harrison

Written by Peter Browngardt, Casey Alexander, Audie Harrison, Dave Tennant, Ryan Kramer, Myke Chilian, David Gemmill, Andy Gonsalves, Marc Ceccarelli, Kelsy Abbott, Tom Kauffman, Fred Osmond, Dominic Bisignano, Luke Brookshier, Nick Edwards, Jon Vermilyea, Kenny Pittenger, Jason Reicher, Chris Reccardi

Produced by Rossitzaa Likomanova

Executive Producer: Peter Browngardt, Curtis Lelash, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Rob Sorcher

Supervising Producer: Audie Harrison

Music by Tommy Meehan, Mike Conte

Casting by Karie Gima Pham

Art Direction by Bill Flores and Mark Bodnar

Production Management: Tony Tedford


Featuring the voices of:

Peter Browngardt as Uncle Grandpa

Adam DeVine as Pizza Steve

Eric Bauza as Belly Bag

Audie Harrison as Beary Nice

Kevin Michael Richardon as Additional Voices


Uncle Grandpa has been a ratings success for the network since its debut in September 2013. During its inaugural season, the series was the top-rated show on Mondays among kids 6-11 and boys 2–11 & 6–11, and #1 in its 8 p.m. timeslot among all key kids and boys demos, according to Nielsen Media Research. With more than 630,000 Facebook fans, an average of 18.6 million people—including 7.2 million kids ages 6–14—tuned in to watch Uncle Grandpa during its first season run. The series is created by Pete Browngardt (Secret Mountain Fort Awesome) with Audie Harrison (The Golden Compass) serving as creative director and is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.


From American cartoonist and storyboard artist, voice actor and writer, Peter Browngardt, known for his work on “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome”, “Futurama”, “Chowder” and “Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” comes his Cartoon Network animated series “Uncle Grandpa”.

Originally an animated short of the same name from the Cartoonstitute, “Uncle Grandpa” is a spin-off series of the 2011 Cartoon Network animated series “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome”.  With the award-winning series lasting two seasons, Browngardt went on to create “Uncle Grandpa”, which would be a more lighthearted adaptation for children.

“Uncle Grandpa” revolves around an unusual man who is the uncle and grandpa of everyone in the world.  He visits children’s homes to check on them and tries to help them through their major problems through chaotic and unusual misadventures.  He lives in an RV and hangs out with his fanny pack named Belly Bag, an anthropormorphic dinosaur named Mr. Gus, a photo cutout of a tiger named Giant Realistic Flying Tiger and a talking pizza slice named Pizza Steve.

With the series now in its second season, a total of 53 episodes (each episode is 11-minutes long) have been created.  And now a 12-episode DVD titled “Good Mornin'” will be released courtesy of the Cartoon Network.

Included in “Good Mornin'” are the following episodes (with spoilerless summaries):

  • EPISODE 15: Brain Game - Uncle Grandpa and Pizza Steve try to help Adam become a video game master.
  • EPISODE 5: Mustache Cream - Uncle Grandpa and friends need to find emergency mustache cream.
  • EPISODE 6: Nickname – Uncle Grandpa changes a lightbulb.
  • EPISODE 13: Locked Out – Uncle Grandpa and Belly Bag are locked out of their RV.
  • EPISODE 16: Mystery Noise - Uncle Grandpa try to find out the source of an unusual noise.
  • EPISODE 25: Bad Morning - Uncle Grandpa gets out of the wrong side of the bed.  How will this affect him?
  • EPISODE 28: Bezt Frenz – Uncle Grandpa wants to be Pizza Steve’s true best friend.
  • EPISODE 30: Hide and Seek – Uncle Grandpa tries to show others that hide and seek is not an evil game.
  • EPISODE 31: The History of Wrestling - A documentary about one of the nuttiest wrestling matches in history.
  • EPISODE 33: Vacation  - Uncle Grandpa goes on vacation.
  • EPISODE 34: Bezt Frenz – Uncle Grandpa meets his nemesis…Aunt Grandma.
  • EPISODE 35: Grounded – Uncle Grandpa tries to teach Riley a lesson.

VIDEO & AUDIO

“Uncle Grandpa – Good Mornin'” is presented in widescreen format. Animation is crystal clear and incorporates the similar big head, big nose style that was seen in “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome”.  The animate series is no doubt colorful and its character designs are quite hilarious but it’s a vibrant series overall.  And with 12 episodes at 11 minutes long, there were no major issues with artifacts on the DVD.

As for the audio, the audio quality features crystal clear dialogue which is understandable and not difficult to hear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Uncle Grandpa – Good Mornin'” comes with no special features.


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I have watched “Uncle Grandpa” many times before.  It is one of my son’s favorite animated series and to be perfectly honest, I often wonder why.

The series which resolves around everyone’s uncle and grandpa…Uncle Grandpa behaves a like a doofus and when he goes out to help a child, most of the time he messes up big time and the children pay for the mistakes created by Uncle Grandpa and friends.

The concept of this crazy Uncle Grandpa, a talking pizza and talking pouch, let alone a dinosaur, sounds too surreal but it’s what works for this series.

My son and I would disagree on why “Uncle Grandpa” is so popular and my son would say, it’s because he’s so weird and unpredictable that his dumb style is what people love about the show.

I can understand that… but perhaps the character was way too far out for me to enjoy it.  Uncle Grandpa is such a moronic character that I would tell my son that one can lose brain cells of watching this series.  But nevertheless, he loves this series and can’t stop watching it.

And I suppose that is the charm of “Uncle Grandpa”….it’s wacky situations, his way of helping children, his ways of handling problems is so far out, the writers for each episode no doubt try to up the ante of strange occurrences but yet make it child friendly.

A friend of mind likened it to the days of “Ren & Stimpy” and how that series caught a lot of attention for its moronic humor and crazy ways.  Children loved it, adults loved it because it was unusual and different.

But in one episode, one child wants to be a better video gamer so, Uncle Grandpa and friends shrink in order to go inside the child’s brain and in their minds, control him in a way they think is what a video game is.  Another episode has one child searching for a nickname, so Uncle Grandpa puts him through so many tests before giving him a nickname…and the tests the child must go through is so wacky.  Another features Uncle Grandpa jealous that his pizza slice best friend has chosen a moon buddy as his new best friend and more!

There are other humorous episodes but again, it’s whether or not you dig the humor of the series.  If you don’t dig crazy, moronic style humor..then this series is not for you.  But if you laugh at the stupidity of Uncle Grandpa and friends, then “Uncle Grandpa – Good Mornin'” will entertain you.

Sure, the series may not be my cup of tea but for my son, his cousin and his friends…they absolutely love this series.  And the fact that the series has received so much interest by fans worldwide, it goes to show that people dig this style of animated comedy series and its crazy, far-out humor!  And as my son puts it, he loves the series because it’s so dumb and doesn’t require one to think all that much. It’s for one to enjoy because it’s so ridiculous and fun!

With a total of 12 hilarious episodes to keep the children (or the young at heart) busy during Spring Break, “Uncle Grandpa – Good Mornin'” is a wacky, strange and hilarious series for those who enjoy dumb comedy!  If that’s you…then this DVD is definitely for you!


 

The Soft Skin – The Criterion Collection #749 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The Soft Skin” is a brilliant, suspenseful film from Francois Truffaut.  Inspired by Alfred Hitchock, “The Soft Skin” revolves around an affair gone bad.  Shocking for it’s time and more appreciated today for its story, cinematography and performance, “The Soft Skin” is a film that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Soft Skin – The Criterion Collection #749

RELEASE OF FILM: 1964

DURATION: 117 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black & White, 1:66:1 Aspect Ratio, French Monaural, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Janus Films/The Criterion Collection

RELEASED: March 17, 2015

Directed by Francois Truffaut

Original scenario by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard

Produced by Antonio de Cunha Telles

Music by Georges Delerue

Director of Photography: Raoul Coutard

Edited by Claudine Bouche

Costume direction by Renee Rouzot

Starring:

Jean Desailly as Pierre Lachenay

Francois Dorleac as Nicole

Nelly Benedetti as Franca Lachenay

Daniel Ceccaldi as Clement

Laurance Badie as Ingrid

Paule Emanuele as Odile

Maurice Garrel as Bontemps

Sabine Haudepin as Sabine Lachenay

François Truffaut followed up the international phenomenon Jules and Jim with this tense tale of infidelity. The unassuming Jean Desailly is perfectly cast as a celebrated literary scholar, seemingly happily married, who embarks on an affair with a gorgeous stewardess, played by Françoise Dorléac, who is captivated by his charm and reputation. As their romance gets serious, the film grows anxious, leading to a wallop of a conclusion. Truffaut made The Soft Skin at a time when he was immersing himself in the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and that master’s influence can be felt throughout this complex, insightful, and underseen French New Wave treasure.

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With the success of “Jules and Jim” in 1962, French filmmaker Francois Truffaut went on to direct “The Soft Skin” (Le Peau Douce) in 1964.

The film would star Jean Desailly (“The Professional”, “Le Doulos”), Francoise Dorleac (“The Young Girls of Rochefort”, “That Ma from Rio”, “Cul-De-Sac”) and Nelly Benedetti (“Fire at Will”, “A Touch of Treason”).

While the film did not meet the same success as “The 400 Blows” and “Jules and Jim”, it was nominated for a Palme d’Or at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival and will be remembered for the performance by actress Francois Dorleac (elder sister of Catherine Deneuve) who would die in a tragic car accident three years later.

And now “The Soft Skin” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

“The Soft Skin” revolves around famous writer Pierre Lachenay (portrayed by Jean Desailly), and editor of a literary magazine.

Often traveling, life for Jean doesn’t seem so bad.  He makes good money and he has a loving wife named Franca (portrayed by Nelly Benedetti) and a daughter named Sabine (portrayed by Sabine Haudepin) and he is respected by many intellectuals in the country.

But while traveling on a flight, he becomes smitten with the beautiful airline stewardess Nicole (portrayed by Francoise Dorleac).  As he shares the same hotel with Nicole, he invites her for a drink and he discusses the conference he is giving a talk titled “Balzac and Money”.

As the two are walking to their rooms, she invites him to her room and the two share a romantic evening.  And this begins the affair between Jean and Nicole.

And as the two try to make their affair private, Franca starts to notice that Jean is spending a lot of time on travel and not coming home.  She suspects he is having an affair.

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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Soft Skin – The Criterion Collection #749″ is presented in black and white 1:66:1. Before I begin, it’s important to note that if you want the best picture quality, you will want to get the Blu-ray version of this film, especially considering this is a restored version of “The Soft Skin”.

On DVD, the film looks very good for a film of its age. While I’m sure the Blu-ray version is superior, “The Soft Skin” shows good contrast, clearer picture quality and grain. While I noticed no film damage during my viewing of the film.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Digimage in Paris, where the film was also restored.”

Audio is presented in French monaural and according to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm sound negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.”

Dialogue is clear through the monaural soundtrack with no sign of hiss or pops.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Soft Skin – The Criterion Collection #749″ comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by screenwriter Jean-Louis Richard and Francois Truffaut scholar Serge Toubiana.
  • The Complexity of Influence – (11:42) Film critic Kent Jones details how director Alfred Hitchock influenced Francois Truffaut’s filmmaking.
  • Monsiuer Truffaut Meets Mr. Hitchcock - (29:39) In 1999, Film historian Robert Fischer created this half-hour documentary on Francois Truffaut’s famous interview book “Hitchcock”.
  • Truffaut on the Soft Skin – (10:50) An excerpt from the French TV show “Cineastes de notre temps” as Truffaut discusses “The Soft Skin”.

EXTRAS:

“The Soft Skin – The Criterion Collection #749″ comes with a 6-fold insert with the essay “Love and Betrayal on the Lecture Circuit” by Molly Haskell.

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There is no doubt that Francois Truffaut was inspired by Alfred Hitchock during the time he was working on his book of interviews with the filmmaker.

A different style of film than what we come to expect from Truffaut, “The Soft Skin” is a film that any generation of viewers can watch and be intrigued as the relevancy of the topic of adultery and the stinging result of an affair gone wrong, will continue to remain strong, even today.

While not treasured by Truffaut cineaste when it was released because of its story about the crime of passion, compared to the previous films of “The 400 Blows” and “Jules and Jim”, may have been too immoral for audiences back then.

But for the viewers of today, it’s become a film that has been well-received for its audacity, the wonderful performance by actor Jean Desailly as the famous writer/editor involved in the affair, but especially for the performance of actress Francoise Dorleac, the actress who died too early and thus “The Soft Skin” will be remembered as one of her best films.

As mentioned earlier, this film was possibly created and inspired by Truffaut’s work for his book on Alfred Hitchcock.    Hitchock, known as the master of suspense, his influence can be seen as “The Soft Skin” is no doubt a film about crime…the crime of passion and the suspense, a man having a secretive affair, involved in a crime, is incriminated for his crime and it’s finale so fitting for the crime.  And I won’t be surprised if audiences back in 1964 were shocked about how the film ends.

Of course, the film received criticism for its older lead actor having an affair with a young woman, some thinking it implausible.  But over 50-years-later, we have seen many relationships between older men and younger women, we also have seen news stories and films to the point it may seem banal.

But the way the film was created, was structured and its beautiful cinematography by Raoul Coutard and its editing, captivated me from beginning to end.

As for the DVD, as always, I bring up the fact that if you want better picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  The good news is that the Criterion Collection does not limit the number of special features on DVD, what you see presented as a special feature on Blu-ray, is what you get on the DVD as well.

Overall, “The Soft Skin” is a brilliant, suspenseful film from Francois Truffaut.  Inspired by Alfred Hitchock, “The Soft Skin” revolves around an affair gone bad.  Shocking for it’s time and more appreciated today for its story, cinematography and performance, “The Soft Skin” is a film that I highly recommend!

 

 

Annie (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Annie” is a fun, upbeat family film and if you were never familiar with the original Broadway play or the 1982 film, then you may enjoy this film even more.

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


DVD TITLE: Annie

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 118 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, English StereoSubtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2015


Based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray

Directed by Will Gluck

Written by Will Gluck, Aline Brosh McKenna

Executive Producer: Celia D. Costas, Alicia Emmrich

Produced by Jay Brown, Will Gluck, James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Caleeb Pinkett, Tyran Smith, Will Smith, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter

Co-Producer: Jeffrey Wetzel

Music by Greg Kurstin

Cinematography by Michael Grady

Edited by Tia Nolan

Casting by Kathleen Chopin

Production Design by Marcia Hinds

Art Direction by Patricia Woodbridge

Set Decoration by Romano C. Pugliese, David Schlesinger

Costume Design by Renee Ehrlich Kaifus


Starring:

Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks

Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie

Rose Byrne as Grace

Bobby Cannavale as Guy

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Nash

David Zayas as Lou

Cameron Diaz as Hannigan

Zoe Margaret Colletti as Tessi

Nicolette Pierini as Mia

Eden Duncan-Smith as Isabella

Amanda Troya as Pepper

Peter Van Wagner as Harold Gray

Micahel J. Fox as himself


Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who’s also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, it’s been a hard knock life ever since with Annie in the care of her mean foster mother Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything’s about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.


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It began with an 1885 poem by James Whitcomb Riley and led to a 1924 comic strip by Harold Gray, “Little Orphan Annie” was a series that may have focused on a young orphan girl, but the storyline was geared for adults as it was political.

But by 1930, when the storyline was made into a radio show and in 1977 when it was made into a Broadway musical, suffice to say, Annie became part of America’s pop culture and known for songs such as “Tomorrow”, “Maybe” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life”.

As “Annie” would receive a film adaptation in 1982, “Annie” would continue on stage and once again in a film in 2014 directed by Will Gluck (“Easy A”, “Friends With Benefits”, “The Michael J. Fox Show”, “The McCarthys”).  The film was produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Z and a few others.

The film would star Jamie Foxx (“Collateral”, “Ray”, “Django Unchained”), Quvenzhane Wallis (“12 Years a Slave”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Rose Byrne (“X-Men: First Class”, “Neighbors”, “Insidious”), Bobby Cannavale (“Win Win”, “Chef”, “The Bone Collector”), Adewale Akinnuouye-Agbaje (“G.I. Joe”, “Lost”, “The Bourne Identity”, “Thor: The Dark World”), David Zayas (“Dexter”, “Oz”, “The Expendables”) and Cameron Diaz (“There’s Something About Mary”, “Gangs of New York”, “Being John Malkovich”).

And now “Annie” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2015.

A contemporary remake of the original 1977 Broadway musical with a change of setting and characters.

The film is set in Harlem, 10-year-old Annie Bennett (portrayed by Quvenzhane Wallis) is a young girl who dreams of her parents coming back.  She often waits at a local restaurant expecting them to come back to her, but she holds on to hope.

Annie lives at a foster home parented by the mean and often drunk Colleen Hannigan (portrayed by Cameron Diaz), who wanted Annie for the free paycheck.  One day, as Hannigan is visited by a social worker, she accidentally drops a document of her records and Annie finds records that may point her to the direction of where her parents may be.

Meanwhile, Will Stacks (portrayed by Jamie Foxx) is a cell phone mogul running for mayor.  He’s a germaphobe and while exceptional in the communications industry, he’s not a good communicator and relies on his assistant Grace (portrayed by Rose Byrne), his driver Nash (portrayed by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and his campaign manager Guy (portrayed by Bobby Cannavale).

One day, as Annie is trying to save a dog from bullies, she is nearly hit by a car but rescued by Will Stacks.  Someone shot the video and posted in social media and immediately, his numbers in the polls rise.

Seeing how people reacted to him saving Annie’s life, Will’s people advise him to bring Annie to his place for her to live temporarily in order to bring up his points.  Annie agrees to it and she goes to live with Will Stacks and also adopts the female dog she saved, named Sandy.

And as the two live with each other, they realize they make each other happy but how long can Annie put away her true emotions of wanting to be part of Will’s life, like a family member in order to help him raise his popularity among the voters?


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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Annie” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen, audio in English, French, Spanish and English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Stereo.

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, I highly recommend purchasing the Blu-ray release of “Annie”.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Annie” comes with the following special features:

  • Director’s Commentary – Audio commentary by Will Gluck.
  • The Making of Annie – (14:35) A featurette with director Will Gluck, the crew and cast of “Annie”.
  • You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile – Music Video – (3:25)

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Back in the early ’80s, “Annie” was one of the first films I watched on cable.   At the time, “Annie” was a big part of American culture thanks to the Broadway play and the music.

While “Annie” may not be as well-known for younger audiences of today or even young adults of today, “Annie” was one of those feel-good, rags-to-riches story featuring memorable music and the film also featured wonderful performances by the film’s many talents.

While my original perception was “do we really need a remake of ‘Annie’?” and frowned upon a contemporary remake, like all films, you never know what to expect unless you give it a try.

While the original 1982 film is much better in how it was able to recreate an old-time setting, create drama and comedy thanks to the performances in the film, the 2014 film is no doubt lively, contemporary and fun but when compared to the 1982 film, the contemporary version tends to seem weak in storyline and doesn’t captivate you in the same way.

One positive aspect of the 2014 film is that young actress Quevenzhane Wallis as Annie can sing!  Her character is vibrant but helps make the film more enjoyable.  And while I enjoyed watching Jamie Foxx and Rose Byrne, the modern take of this film has been drastically changed too much for its own good.

The original featured Annie and her friends as orphans and a tyrant of an owner making life difficult for each of the orphans.  While in the 2014 remake, Cameron Diaz’ Hannigan doesn’t stay as an antagonist too long.  We have social media being too much of a part of this film and many shameless plugs for Instagram galore, I founded myself enjoying the musical acts featuring Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx or Rose Byrne more than the film itself.

Not to say that the remake of “Annie” was bad, because it wasn’t.  It was a fun, upbeat film but it’s just that for us older viewers who remember “Annie”, this was not the “Annie” we grew up.  And that’s fine.   I see the film as Annie for a new generation of children and while families and people of all ages can enjoy it, those who are not familiar with the original story or its music may find this 2014 “Annie” to be much more easier to accept.

As for the DVD release, as mentioned, if you want the best picture and audio quality, then the Blu-ray release is the way to go.  The DVD features a music video, making of and audio commentary, bu the Blu-ray release features sing-along tracks and more content.

Overall, “Annie” is a fun, upbeat family film and if you were never familiar with the original Broadway play or the 1982 film, then you may enjoy this film even more.  The problem is that the original 1982 film was better in terms of movie setting, writing, performances by its talent and it retained that magic from the original “Little Orphan Annie”.  The contemporary remake was too different, the writing was weaker when compared to the original, but I did enjoy the musical performances by young actress Quvenzhane Wallis, who can definitely sing!  But in the end, because of its modern interpretation, the younger generation may enjoy this remake much more.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat! (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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After losing to Shredder and the Kraang, the Turtles move with April O’Neil to Northampton to heal and plan their next battle.  But the group quickly learn that things are not all safe in Northampton! “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat!” features the first seven episodes of season 3! Recommended for the older fans and the newer fans who enjoy action-driven animated series.

Images courtesy of © 2015 by Paramount Pictures All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat!

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2013

DURATION: (6 episodes) 135 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital English Stereo, Closed Caption

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015


Directed by Michael Chang

Written by Joshua Sternin, Jr. Ventimila

Originally created by Kevin Eastman

Produced by MacGregor Middleton

Executive Producer: Peter Hatings, Ciro Nieli, Joshua Sternin, J.R. Ventimilia

Supervising Producer: Ant Ward

Music by Sebastian Evans

Casting by Sarah Noonan

Production Management: Vladimir Radev


Featuring the voices of:

Sean Astin as Raphael

Seth Green as Leonardo

Greg Cipes as Michelangelo

Rob Paulsen as Donatello

Mae Whitman as April O’Neil

Hoon Lee as Splinter

Nolan North as The Kraang

Kelly Hu as Karai

Phil LaMarr as Baxter Stockman

Josh Peck as Casey Jones


After a stunning battle against the Kraang and Shredder in the Season 2 finale, the Turtles find themselves without a master and without a home. On the run and with new dangers at every turn, the Turtles are faced with bizarre new mutant creatures and must take their ninja training to the next level in order to reclaim their home. Retreat – Return – Revenge!


Set three months after being driven out of New York and barely surviving and escaping from Shredder and the Kraang, the Turtles end up going to Northampton and staying at April’s family farmhouse.

But with Splinter gone and Leo still trying to rehabilitate after his injuries, the group finds out that things up north are not exactly that safe as well.

Featuring the first seven episodes (episodes 53-59) of the third season of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”!

What is “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”?

In 1984, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird began working on a comic book series titled “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for Mirage Studios. Featuring a darker, action-driven storyline, the comics became major collectors items due to its short print run. And because of the popularity of the comics, Playmates Toys Inc. was approached to create an action figure toyline and before they began working on the risky project, the toy company would only agree to do so, if an animated TV series was created.

Geared for children and featuring characters with color coded masks, spoke with stereotypical surfer dialogue and a love for pizza, the series was a major hit. Created in 1987, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” would air on television through 1996, and along with the TV series, the toyline was also a big success and would continue on with a live action series, multiple video games and also several live action films.

By 1997, the series has a live action series titled “Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation” which lasted for a single season and in 2003, the series was resurrected by FOX and with 4Kids Entertainment, the remake would be produced by Mirage Studios (the original series had no ownership by Mirage) and would be more edgier like the original comic books and much more darker than its 1987 counterpart and once again, the series and its toyline would become a major success.

And now “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is back! In 2012, Nickelodeon acquired the rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Mirage Group and 4Kids Entertainment and this time around, wanted to go with a CG-animated series and that there would be slight changes for this 2012 version from the original series and previous series that fans may have been accustomed to.

The new series would feature voice acting from Jason Biggs as Leonardo, Rob Paulsen as Donatello, Sean Astin as Raphael, Greg Cipes as Michelangelo, Mae Whitman as April O’Neil and Hoon Lee as Splinter. In this newer series, each of the Ninja Turtles try to get accustomed to being heroes as they are taught by their sensei Splinter. A former human that was changed into a rat.

The leader of the group is Leonardo (blue mask) who fights with two katana swords and is the level-headed member of the four; Donatello is the hacker and computer/science expert (purple mask) and fights with a rokushakubo. He also has a crush on the video gamer girl, April O’Neil; Raphael is the hot head of the group who acts on impulse and tend to be a problem with the group, as he tends to not think before acting. He fights with two sais and has a pet turtle named Spike and Michelangelo is the person who loves video games, skateboarding and pizza but he is also seen as the jokester and idiot of the group. He fights with two nunchaku and is the immature member of the.

And the group gets help from a human named April O’Neill who loves video games and pizza but also has a special spiritual sensitivity and is being trained by Splinter to be a ninja.

Together, they take on a mysterious group known as the Kraang that is led by Shredder.

A total of 40-episodes were made and the second season is currently airing on Nickelodeon. And now episodes 53-59 will be released on DVD courtesy of Nickelodeon.

Included in “RETREAT!” are the following episodes (with spoilerless summaries):

  • EPISODE 53: Within the Woods - The gang move to Northampton to take shelter at April’s family farmhouse.
  • EPISODE 54: A Foot Too Big – Bummed out that he has no chance with April, Donatello befriends Bigfoot who falls in love with him.  Meanwhile, The Finger is hunting down Bigfoot.
  • EPISODE 55: Buried Secrets – The gang finds a lost Kraang scout ship under the house and find…April’s lost mother?
  • EPISODE 56: The Croaking – Michelangelo befriends Napoleon Bonafrog, a member of the Punk Frogs.
  • EPISODE 57: In Dreams - The Turtles are trapped in their dreams by the Dream Beavers.  Can April and Casey work together and find a way to wake the Turtles?
  • EPISODE 58: Race with the Demon – Donatello and Casey must put aside their difference and work together.
  • EPISODE 59: Eyes of the Chimera – A mutant Chimera created by Speed Demon’s mutagen kidnaps Casey, Raph, Mikey and Donnie.  Can Leo and April stop it?

VIDEO & AUDIO

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat!” is presented in full screen format. The CG animation and the character designs is quite different from its previous series predecessors but for the most part, the animation is pretty cool. I love how the series mixes CG but also cool artwork at times. The overall look of the city and the integration of the characters to the environments is cool and detail of the CG animation is a plus for the series. I also like how they gave each ninja turtle a distinct look. From Donatello have a gap to Raphael having a chipped shell.

But for the most part, the series does look good as one can expect on DVD.

As for audio, the series is presented in Dolby Digital and dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

There are no subtitles but closed captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat!” comes with the following special features:

  • The Mutation of a Scene – (34:22) A look between the storyboard animatic, primary animation and final render of a scene from the following seven episodes.

EXTRAS:

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat!” comes with a slipcover.


With the Ninja Turtles losing the battle against Shredder and the Kraang, with Splinter lost, the Ninja Turtles along with April O’Neil move to Northampton where April’s family house is located in hopes they can formulate a plan to strike back at Kraang.

But life in Northampton is not exactly safe thanks to Big Foot, the Dream Beavers, a Chimera, a Kraang Scout and more!

And will Donatello recover from his injuries?  And how will he deal with the fact that April may not love him like he loves her?  And with his jealousy towards Casey Jones, can the two work together?

And as mentioned in previous DVD volumes, I like the fact that this latest animated release of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” allows April O’Neil to play a much bigger part, not only as a protective daughter but also seeing her in action, having been trained by Splinter. So, it’s a different type of April O’Neil that many of us who are familiar with past “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” are used to.  As the same can be said for the hotheaded, Casey Jones.

And also, I enjoy how this series utilizes notable celebrities to do the voicework for the series. From Sean Astin, Seth Green and more, the voice work for this series is pretty cool and not too annoying.

And I feel for older fans or the newer generation, these Ninja Turtles are still fun to watch and yet different from previous series but still retaining the positive aspects of previous series.

I very fortunate to be around when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book came out and since then, like many other adults who grew up with the franchise, it’s been part of our lives. May it be when were a child watching the animated series or playing the video game at the arcade or at home on a video game console. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” has been a big part of American pop culture for 25 years.

I have grown up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and seeing every incarnation of the series. And so far, each has brought something new and different to keep the series fresh and new for the new generation of viewers watching it.

With this new series that began in 2012, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” somewhat gets a new reboot. The characters are the same four ninja turtles but they now have their distinct style, their own look and some characters are much different than how they were presented in past series.

And sometimes they don’t win the battle, as evident in the season two finale.  And with season three, the group must regroup and recuperate after being run out of New York and are needing time to heal.

I have to admit that while I was raised on the original series, I’m glad the “Cowabunga” days of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are gone and while I thought the 2003 series was fantastic as it featured a more darker tone, I think for today’s younger fans, especially the Nickelodeon audience, children will enjoy this series. Yes, there is fighting violence, but nothing too violent that parents need to worry.

The series has always been about Splinter and his four teenage mutant ninja turtles taking on Shredder and his ninja and other bad guys and that still exists in this latest CG series. While April and Casey Jones have changed a bit, this alternate version of these characters are current and probably much easier for children to follow.

Picture and audio quality are good on DVD and you get seven “Mutation of a Scene” shorts.

Overall, if you are have grown up with this series and still appreciate it, a fan that is young at heart or want to introduce your own child to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Retreat!” is a fun, action-packed series for today’s generation of young viewers.


 

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