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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 series is 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.

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 series is 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.


 

The Red Tent (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

theredtent

“The Red Tent” was no doubt a compelling two-episode mini-series that features a heartbreaking but also a courageous tale of Dinah during the times of the Old Testament.   I was impressed by the overall story, its set and costume design but also the performance of Rebecca Ferguson. Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: The Red Tent

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 2 Episodes (176 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015


Based on the Novels by Anita Diamant

Directed by Roger Young

Written by Elizabeth Chandler, Anita Diamant, Anne Meredith

Exeuctive Producer: Paula Weinstein

Produced by Peter McAleese

Line Producer: Jayson de Rosner, Karim Debbagh

Music by Laurent Eyquem

Cinematography by Michael Snyman

Edited by Sylvain Lebel, Arthur Tarnowski

Casting by Marcia Ross, Jeremy Zimmerman

Production Design by Emilia Roux, Emilia Weavind

Art Direction by Marco Trentini

Set Decoration by Anneke Botha

Costume Design by Diana Cilliers


Starring:

Minnie Driver as Leah

Morena Baccarin as Rachel

Rebecca Ferguson as Dinah

Iain Glen as Jacob

Will Tudor as Joseph

Hiam Abbass as Queen Re-Nefer

Vinette Robinson as Bilhah

Debra Winger as Rebecca

Pedro Lloyd Gardiner as Levi

Saif Al-Warith as Simon

Douglas Rankine as Reuben

Agni Scott as Zilpah


The Red Tent is a sweeping tale that takes place during the times of the Old Testament, told through the eyes of Dinah (Rebecca Ferguson), the daughter of Leah (Minnie Driver) and Jacob (Iain Glen). Dinah happily grows up inside the red tent where the women of her tribe gather and share the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood. The film recounts the story Rachel (Morena Baccarin), Leah, Zilpah and Bilhah, the four wives of Jacob. Dinah matures and experiences an intense love that subsequently leads to a devastating loss, and the fate of her family is forever changed. The all-star cast also includes Debra Winger and Will Tudor.


In 1997, award winning journalist, Anita Diamant would release her novel “The Red Tent”.

The novel went on to become a New York Times best seller and Diamant who would go on to create fictional books such as “Good Harbor”, “The Last Days of Dogtown”, “Day After Night” and also seven non-fiction books on Jewish culture.

“The Red Tent” which was a first-person narrative on the Biblical story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph.  While a minor character in the Bible, Diamant would broaden the story about Dinah.

In 2014, “The Red Tent” would be receive a television adaptation with a two-part, four-hour American TV miniseries for Lifetime and was produced by Paul Weinstein and is directed by Roger Young.

And in March 2015, “The Red Tent” will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

For the first episode of “The Red Tent”, the storyline is set during the times of the Old Testament and the character Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, recounts her story from youth to adulthood.  “The Red Tent” is where women of her tribe must be in, during their menstruation or childbirth.

In the beginning, we are introduced how Jacob had married sisters, Leah and Rachel but also the handmaids Bilhah and Zilpah.  And how their tribe was built, as Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah gave birth to several sons, while Rachel who was unable to give birth to a son, would eventually give birth to a baby boy named Joseph.

Joseph would become the favorite son of Jacob, while Dinah would be born and become the favorite daughter.  The women would learn their tribes techniques of childbearing and would soon become known in the land for their success of helping women give birth.

One day, Rachel and Dinah are requested to go to Shechem and help a woman give birth.  This is where Dinah meets Prince Shalem and two flirt with each other and the two get married after receiving the King’s approval.

When the King visit Jacob to tell him the good news, Jacob is angry that he was not consulted and did not go to him to discuss the customs of their Israelite tribe.  This angers brothers Simeon and Levi, who feel that Dinah was probably raped, defiled and now has shamed her tribe.  Meanwhile, Jacob agrees to the marriage only if Prince Shalem undergoes their custom by receiving a circumcision.

Meanwhile, Simeon and Levi take things into their own hands by plotting to murder every man in the city of Shechem, including the King and Prince Shalem as revenge.  They lie to the men of Shechem that all will be forgiven with the marriage if the prince and his men undergo the Jewish rite of brit milah (circumcision).  So, as the men have been circumcised and are incapacitated, Jacob’s sons (except Joseph) and the male servants go to bring Dinah back but slaughter all men of Shechem.

Joseph who has received the gift of visions, can see something in his dreams of his brothers committing an evil act and Dinah covered in blood.  As he goes to find them, it is too late.

This would set the story of Dinah into motion for episode 2 of what will happen the massacre and how much grief she will continue to endure years later.  But also, what happens when the jealous brothers, Shimeon and Levi also take matters into their own hands, driven by jealousy towards their brother Joseph, strip him and sell him off to a slave owner and tell Jacob that his favorite son was murdered by an animal.

A compelling tale of a woman who endured so much but also a tale of a woman with courage and a lot of heart.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Red Tent” is presented in 1:78:1 aspect ratio and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. As one can expect on DVD, the picture quality and audio are clear and a lot of the outdoor scenes are shot during daylight in Morocco, so picture quality does look good.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts during my viewing of the film.  Audio is clear and understandable.

Unfortunately, there is no HD release of “The Red Tent”, nor is there an UltraViolet code included with the DVD release.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Red Tent” comes with no special features.


Typically when I come upon a series with a mini-series inspired from the Bible, you expect something banal and typically a story on DVD that tends to be released before Easter time.

But having watched “The Red Tent”, the Lifestyle mini-series was compelling because of how it goes far into showing a tribe and their customs, but showing how the tribe has gone astray when one favors one child over the other.  But also seeing how two jealous brothers would set the tribe onto chaos.

But it’s the story of Dinah, who is the main protagonist towards the end of episode 1 and the majority of episode 2.

Without spoiling the second episode (which is even better than the first), only the first episode and the details can be discussed as it deals with Dinah’s life of her tribe, the tribes customs but her journey of tragedy, emotional and physical pain as she must endure the unthinkable but how things come full circle with forgiveness what of the fate of her and the family of Jacob.

The second episode builds upon this by showing how troubled a life that Dinah had lived but how she became a woman of strength and how she dedicated her life of helping people.

The set design and costume design were well-done for this film.  The acting was also well-done.

Rebecca Ferguson (“Hercules”, “The White Queen”) does a fantastic job of playing the role of Dinah, the main protagonist. She is able to play the feisty character but also a character that must experience amazing loss and brutal treatment.

The film also is aided by a supporting casts which include Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting”, “Grosse Point Blank”), Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”, “V”, “Serenity”), Iain Glen (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”, “Game of Thrones”, “Resident Evil: Extinction”), Will Tudor (“Bonobo”, “Game of Thrones”) and Debra Winger (“Terms of Endearment”, “An Officer and a Gentleman”).

Of course, if one can move past that nearly everyone featured is of darker skin with the exception of the primary talents, which is a common practice of American-produced series and even films based on Biblical stories, then it’s much easier to follow.

It’s important to note that while this is a mini-series based on the bible, “The Red Tent” is much different than other series as we see characters having sex (no full nudity, but you can see the characters having sex in bed or under the blankets), the series also features violence, so one should expect to see blood.

The DVD looks very good thanks to the series being shot outdoors. Picture and audio quality is as best as one can expect on DVD.  I didn’t see major artifacts or blemishes.  There are no special features.

And unfortunately, there is no Blu-ray release for “The Red Tent”, nor is there an UltraViolet code included with the purchase of the DVD.

Overall, “The Red Tent” was no doubt a compelling two-episode mini-series that features a heartbreaking but also a courageous tale of Dinah during the times of the Old Testament.   I was impressed by the overall story, its set and costume design but also the performance of Rebecca Ferguson.

Recommended!

 

 

Outlander: Season One – Volume One (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

outlander

Sexy, captivating and an exciting adventure series, “Outlander: Season One – Volume One” is highly recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: Outlander: Season One – Volume One

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 8 Episodes (459 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2015


Directed by Anna Foerster, Brian Kelly, John Dahl

Written by Diana Gabaldon, Ronald D. Moore, Ira Steven Behr, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney, Matthew B. Roberts

Exeuctive Producer: Ronald D. Moore, Jim Kohlberg

Produced by Matthew B. Roberts

Co-Executive Producer: Ira Steven Behr, Maril Davis, Paulo De Oliveira, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney

Music by Bear Mcreary

Cinematography by Neville Kidd, Martin Fuhrer, Denis Crossan, David Higgs

Edited by Michael O’Halloran, Liza Cardinale

Casting by Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Jon Gary Steele

Art Direction by Emer O’Sullivan, Fiona Gavin, Nicki McCallum

Set Decoration by Gina Cromwell

Costume Design by Terry Dresbach, Glenne Campbell


Starring:

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh Fraser

Graham McTavish as Dougal Mackenzie

Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall

Grant O’Rourke as Rupert Mackenzie

Stephen Walters as Angus Mhor

Gary Lewis as Colum Mackenzie

Lotte Verbek as Geillis Duncan

Nell Hudson as Laoghaire Mackenzie

Bill Paterson as Ned Gowan

Finn Den Hertog as Willie

James Fleet as Reverend Wakefield

Annette Badland as Mrs. Fitzgibbons

Aislin McGuckin as Letitia Mackenzie


British combat nurse Claire Randall is reunited with her husband after returning from the battlefields of World War II. While on their second honeymoon, she walks through one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles and is suddenly transported to 1743 Scotland, torn by war and rogue Highland clans. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigue and danger when she is accused of being a spy. Forced by circumstance to marry an outlawed Highlander, she finds herself falling in love and torn by her loyalties to two men in vastly different times, all of which may threaten her life and shatter her heart. Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling book series is stunningly realized by Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore in Season One’s first eight episodes.


Based on the best-selling “Outlander” series novels by Diana Gabaldon, a 16-episode series created by Ronald D. Moore (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Star Trek: Voyager”, “Battlestar Galactica”) would air on the Starz cable network.

The series stars Caitriona Balfe (“Now You See Me”, “Super 8″, “Escape Plan”), Sam Heughan (“A Princess for Christmas”, “A Very British Sex Scandal”), Duncan Lacroix (“Vikings”, “Game of Thrones”), Graham McTavish (“The Hobbit” films, “Rambo”) and Tobias Menzies (“Casino Royale”, “Atonement”, “Finding Neverland”).

With a second season to air on Starz, “Outlander: Season One – Volume One” (featuring the first eight episodes) will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2015.

“Outlander” begins with Claire Randall (portrayed by Caitriona Balfe), a World War II combat nurse visiting Inverness, Scotland with her loving husband, Jonathan Randall (portrayed by Tobias Menzies).  The two are deeply in love and while observing a modern Druid ritual on the hill of Craigh na Dun, Claire hears a strange noise emanating from the stones.

As Claire goes to reach for it, she instantly finds herself nearly 300 years earlier in time, during the skirmish between the Redcoasts (British) and the Highlander (Scottish) rebels.  While she sees a man that looks exactly like Jonathan, the man is the cruel and sinister, “Black Jack” Randall, Captain of His Majesty’s Dragoons.

As he is about to rape Claire, she is saved by a Scotsman and befriends Jamie Fraser (portrayed by Sam Heughan) and travels with the Highlanders as their nurse.

Of course, because she is not Scottish, the Highlanders treat her as a spy and don’t trust her and think she is an English spy.

As Claire tries to acclimate herself with her new setting and not sure why she has traveled back to the past and must do all she can to make sure the Highlanders think she is from their era, Claire must be careful.  Especially from the British, especially Black Jack Randall.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Outlander: Season One – Volume One” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  It’s important to note that if you want the best presentation of this series, the Blu-ray is the way to go!

Otherwise, if you are not picky about the quality and you don’t have the equipment to take advantage of HD, then you’ll be happy with the picture and audio quality of “Outlander” on DVD.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Outlander: Season One – Volume One” comes with the following special features:

  • Outlander: An Epic Adaptation – (7:12) Author Diana Gabaldon discusses the adaptation from novel to TV Series, interviews with executive producer Ronald D. Moore and the cast.
  • Authentic in Design: The Dresses & Kilts of Outlander – (6:32) A featurette on the costume design for “Outlander”.

EXTRAS:

“Outlander: Season One – Volume One” comes with a slipcover.


Sexy, captivating and exciting!

The time travel storyline about a woman trapped hundreds of years in the past, not knowing how to get back home and trying to adjust to her new life is quite fascinating and yes, I will dare say it, I absolutely enjoyed “Outlander”!

When it comes to the work of Ronald D. Moore, so far, each of his sci-fi series have been entertaining and I’ve been big fans of the series (despite my feelings towards the latter season of “Battlestar Galactica”).  But when he creates a series, he knows how to get the viewers emotionally involved and making you want to watch episode after episode.

“Outlander” was quite interesting because I was expecting something along the lines of what we have seen in previous Moore series, a lot of visual effects, awesome costume design and cool and also sexy characters.  But with “Outlanders”, you get the awesome costume design, sexy characters but you also get a number of sex scenes and nudity and also, quite a bit of violence… so I’m kind of glad I didn’t watch the series with my child.

But it’s because of how mature, how well-written and how well-acted the series is, is what kept me captivated.  From not knowing what will happen to Claire Randall, as she travels with a group of men, many who look at her as a spy or like some piece of meat.  But despite being a sexual character earlier on, she’s also smart and strong and I love how she sticks up for herself, especially to other men who mistreat her.

But now she is in a conundrum of being stuck in the past and not knowing if she can get back home.  To make things worse, her husband in present-time, his ancestor hundreds of years ago that looks exactly like him, is the ultimate jerk.

Caitriona Balfe absolutely shines as the protagonist Claire Randall and her performance is heightened with the casting of Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Graham McTavish as Dougal MacKenzie.  It also helps to have an antagonist like Tobias Menzies as “Black Jack” Randall.

The costume design by Terry Dresbach and Glenne Campbell is fantastic!

So, for only eight episodes aired, Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore and his writers have done a magnificent job with the first eight episodes and I can’t wait for the continuation of the first season.

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality of this series, Blu-ray is the way to go!  Otherwise, the DVD is good for those who are not as picky and don’t have the equipment to support HD.  You get two special features with the DVD release.  But for those who are hesitant about purchasing because there are only eight episodes, I would not be surprised if the first season receives a re-release with the complete first season.

Overall, “Outlander” is one of the most awesome shows on television.  While capturing the battle between the Redcoats and the Highlanders back in the 1740’s with wonderful cinematography and costume design, the series boasts awesome performances by its talent especially from actress Caitriona Balfe.

Sexy, captivating and an exciting adventure series, “Outlander: Season One – Volume One” is highly recommended!

 

Adventure Time: Frost & Fire (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

adventuretime-frost-a

If you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’ll enjoy this 16-episode DVD release of “Adventure Time”. Crazy, hilarious, addictive and so much fun, “Adventure Time – Frost & Fire” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Cartoon Network. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Adventure Time: Frost & Fire

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012-2013

DURATION: 176 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 5.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Cartoon Network/Warner Bros.

RATING: TV PG

Release Date: March 3, 2015


Created by Pendleton Ward

Directed by Larry Leichliter

Written by Pendleton Ward, Patrick McHale, Kent Osborne, Mark Banker, Adam Muto, Merriwether Williams, Rebecca Sugar, Cole Sanchez, Timothy McKeon, Ako Castuera, Bert Youn, Tom Herpich, Thurop Van Orman, Somvilay Xayaphone, Steve Little, Jesse Moynihan, Sean Jiminez, Elizabeth Ito, Luther McLaurin, Armen Mirzaian, Niki Yang, Benton Connor, Dick Gruner

Excutive Producer: Fred Seibert, Curtis Lelash, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Rob Sorcher, Rob Swartz, Derek Drymon

Producer: Kelley Crews

Co-Producer/Executive Producer: Pendleton Ward

Supervising Producer: Thurop Van Orman

Music by Timothy Kiefer, Casey James Basichis

Production Design by David O’Reilly

Art Direction by Nick Jennings


Featuring the following voice talent:

Jeremy Shada as Finn

John DiMaggio as Jake

Tom Kenny as Ice King

Hynden Walch as Princess Bubblegum

Pendleton Ward As Lumpy Space Princess

Maria Bamford as Wildberry Princess

Niki Yang as Beemo

Olivia Olson as Marceline

Dee Bradley Baker as Cinnamon Bun

Steve Little as Peppermint Butler

Kent Osborne as Joshua

Jessica Di Cicco as Flame Princess


Adventure Time: Frost & Fire is the brand’s latest DVD release and joins the best-selling Adventure Time complete seasons one through four, as well as existing episodic releases, Adventure Time: Finn the Human, Adventure Time: Jake the Dad, Adventure Time: Jake vs. Me-Mow, Adventure Time: My Two Favorite People, and Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere, among others, all of which are currently available at retail. Supported by a huge following that includes more than 18 million Facebook fans, this home entertainment franchise join a strong line of consumer products that includes toys, interactive, publishing, apparel, comics, costumes, posters, youth electronics, and much more. Additionally, Adventure Time continues to grow its roster of collaborators making co-branded products for the brand, with the latest addition Dr. Marten’s, launching a line of boots for juniors and adults that will be available at retailers worldwide this spring.


Join Finn and Jake with a compilation of 16 episodes from seasons 1-6 showcasing the Ice King, Flame Princess, various wizards and more in “Adventure Time: Forst & Fire” on DVD.

The DVD comes with the following episodes:

1. Frost & Fire – Episode 134 – Finn Dreams of Flame Princess and Ice King fighting each other.
2. Earth & Water – Episode 136 – Princess Bubblegum tests Flame Princess to understand why her emotions are volatile.
3. Jake the Brick – Episode 176 – Jake fulfills his lifelong ambition of being a brick.
4. The Prince Who Wanted Everything – Episode 165 – Lumpy Space Princess kidnaps the Ice King.
5. Something Big – Episode 166 – Maja the Sky Witch summons Daren, the Ancient Sleeper and orders him to attack the Candy Kingdom.
6. Return to the Nightosphere – Episode 83 – Fin and Jaken awaken in the dreaded Nightosphere and are buried under a pile of bananas.
7. Daddy’s Little Monster – Episode 84 – Fine and Jake try to save Marceline.
8. Joshua and Margaret Investigations  – Episode 172 – Jake tells Finn and BMO a story about how his parents followed hunted a menace in the fields.
9. Davey – Episode 111 – Finn takes on an alternate persona, Davey.
10. The Pit – Episode 145 – Kee-Oth the Blood Demon kidnaps Jake and takes him to a demonic dimension and imprisons him in a pit.
11. Freak City – Episode 20 – Finn is transformed into a foot by Magic Man.
12. Memories of Boom Boom Mountain – Episode 10 – Finn remembers an upsetting experience when he was a baby.
13. James – Episode 146 – Fin and Jake accompany Princess Bubblegum on her study of the Desert of Wonders.
14. Time Sandwich – Episode 137 – Finn and friends try to retrieve Jake’s sandwich which Magic Man has stolen.
15. Apple Thief – Episode 63 – A mysterious ghost tries to kill everyone at the masquerade ball.
16. Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe – Episode 169 – Iceking, Abracadaniel, Little Dude, The Life-Giving Magi and other wizards go on a road trip.


What is “Adventure Time”?

Pendleton Ward is known for writing for animated series such as “Random! Cartoons” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” and most recently “Bravest Warriors”, but in 2010, Ward would create a series that would become a popular animated series on the Cartoon Network titled “Adventure Time”.

Originally produced by Frederator’s Nicktoons Network animation incubator series “Random! Cartoons”, the short for “Adventure Time” would first become a viral hit on the Internet before being picked up by the Cartoon Network and featured on television in 2010.

Heavily inspired by “Dungeons and Dragons” and video games, “Adventure Time” is hand-drawn animation and is recorded as a group, than with voice talent recorded individually.

With a sixth season of “Adventure Time” having aired, “Adventure Time” has no doubt become a ratings hit for the Cartoon Network.

“Adventure Time” is an award-winning series that revolves around Finn the Human, a 14-year-old boy and his best friend, a talking yellow dog named Jake, who has magical powers to change shape, stretch and shrink.

The two live in a post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo where they interact with friends such as Princess Bubblegum, the Ice King, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Flame Princess, BMO, Lady Rainicorn and more!


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Adventure Time: Frost & Fired” is presented in 16×9. Colors are vibrant, color palette is colorful and while the character designs may lack incredible detail and shading of other animated series (note: background art is shaded), what makes “Adventure Time” work is its abundance of characters, creative backgrounds, locations and more. The series is still colorful on DVD (not as sharp or vibrant as the Blu-ray “Adventure Time” releases) and looks good overall!

The DVD is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. While my picky side would prefer for a 5.1 immersive soundtrack, the fact is that a lot of animated series is presented in stereo. Dialogue is clear! Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Adventure Time: Frost & Fire” comes with no special features:


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If you love “Adventure Time”, the latest DVD volume “Frost & Fire” features 16 episodes from season 1 through 6!

As one can expect from “Adventure Time”, expect a lot of crazy episodes and shenanigans as Jake and Finn get tied up on various shenanigans with Ice King, Flame Princess, Marceline, various wizards and more!

It’s important to note that anyone can jump in to these episodes without having previous knowledge of the series (as each episode are standalone). The series is pretty much an episode of adventures featuring Finn and Jake and what happens when the come across a variety of characters. Some crazy, some goofy, some evil and more!

Part of the enjoyment I had while watching this series is the fact that it’s not banal. You can’t predict what will happen with each episode as it is not formulaic, crazy things happen and just to see how each character deals with a certain situation, you can’t help but laugh and be entertained.

So, there are plenty of awesome episodes in “Adventure Time: Frost & Fire” to keep fans entertained for now, while Blu-ray and DVD season sets for the first, second and third seasons are currently available.

Overall, if you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’ll enjoy this 16-episode DVD release of “Adventure Time”.  Crazy, hilarious, addictive and so much fun, “Adventure Time – Frost & Fire” is highly recommended!

 

To Write Love on Her Arms (A J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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And for this film’s inspiring story and the continued and positive difference that the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms, are making in people’s lives, I definitely recommend “To Write Love on Her Arms”.

Images courtesy of © 2014 Possibility Pictures, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: To Write Love on Her Arms

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 102 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Strong thematic content involving addiction and disturbing behavior throughout and for brief language)

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2015


Directed by Nathan Frankowski

Written by Kate King Lynch, Nathan Frankowski

Story Consultant: Bob Massey, Josh Lujan Loveless, Jamie Tworkowski

Produced by Kim Dawson, David Nixon

Co-Producer: Ralph Clemente

Executive Producer: Larry Frenzel, Pattie Mallette, Jayson Stringfellow, Tom Swanson

Associate Producer: Josh Lujan Loveless, Rick Ramsey, Steve Warner

Music by Robbie Bronnimann, Andy Hunter

Cinematography by Stephen Campbell

Edited by Nathan Frankowski, Gordon Grinberg

Casting by Amy Severson

Production Design by Mark Garner

Art Direction by Kirk Walchek

Set Decoration by Christian Guevarra, Ronald Quiliche, John Tegethoff

Costume Design by Beverly Safier


Starring:

Kat Dennings as Renee Yohe

Chad Michael Murray as Jamie Tworkowski

Rupert Friend as David McKenna

Mark Saul as Dylan

Juliana Harkavy as Jessie

Corbin Bleau as Mackey


Based on the true story that started a global movement, TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS presents a vision of hope, healing and redemption. Kat Dennings (“2 Broke Girls”) stars as Renee, a Florida girl who struggles with addiction and abuse. In a creative blend of artistic fantasy and music conflicted with hard reality, Renee discovers the value of genuine friendships and embarks on a daunting yet courageous journey towards recovery. The film also stars Chad Michael Murray, Rupert Friend and Corbin Bleu.


The American non-profit organization, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), has been helping people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide since its formation back in 2006.

With a goal of bridging the gap between traditional treatment such as rehab, counseling, help lines and having a strong social media presence, thanks to musicians and bands wearing the organization’s t-shirts.

But the story of how To Write Love on Her Arms is quite fascinating and while founded by Jamie Tworkowski in 2006, the story begins with Renee Yohe.

The story of Renee’s life is the story featured in the film “To Write Love on Her Arms” (a.k.a. “Day One”).

Released back in 2012 and shown at a variety of music festivals, the film is co-written and directed by Nathan Frankowski (“No Saints For Sinners”, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”) and co-written with Kate King Lynch (“The Avatars”).

The film stars Kat Dennings (“2 Broke Girls”, “Thor”, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), Chad Michael Murray (“One Tree Hill”, “A Cinderella Story”, “Freaky Friday”), Rupert Friend (“Pride & Prejudice”, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, “The Young Victoria”), Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical” films), Mark Saul (“The Social Network”, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Juliana Harkavy (“Dolphin Tale”, “House of Wax”).

The film begins with an introduction to Renee Yohe (portrayed by Kat Dennings), how a girl who would believe in fairy tales would be disturbed by nightmares and affected by her dark days.  We see how in high school, despite being diagnosed as bipolar, she chooses not to take her medication.

She hangs out with her best friends Dylan (portrayed by Mark Saul) and Jessie (portrayed by Juliana Harkavy).

One day she was invited to a party and slipped with a drink.  While her friends wanted to leave the party, she wanted to stay and something led to her spirally going downhill.  Avoiding friends, becoming a drug addict and often cutting her wrists.

Two years later, she is drugged out and living with a group of men, snorting cocaine and being raped, she runs away from a heavy abuser and decides to call her friends out of the blue.

Dylan comes to pick Renee up, while Jessie hardly speaks to her.  They end up taking Renee to a place that Dylan works at.  Working for musician David McKenna (portrayed by Rupert Friend), who is a former addict and now tries to help people through his tale of barely surviving because he was hooked on cocaine.

Hearing his story, Renee asks David for help and David along with her friends, try to take her to rehab.  They refuse to take her in because of her self-cutting and how it would affect the others in rehab.  David is told that if he can keep her sober for five days, bring her back.

Unfortunately, her own family won’t take her in because of her cutting and how it affected her younger sister.  So, David agrees to take her in at his home, only if David and Jessie help watch over her.

With strict rules, they must do all they can to make sure she doesn’t do any drugs and not cut herself.

Meanwhile, a musician and friend of David’s, Jamie Tworkowski (portrayed by Chad Michael Murray) stays over their home for a week and tries to encourage David to get back into music with his band but finds himself captivated by Renee’s recovery.

But the question is will Renee be able to recover, will she be rehabilitated and because of her, how will this lead to Jamie and friends start the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“To Write Love on Her Arms” is presented in 2:39:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The film is well-shot and its use of visual effects are well-done.  But while I wish this film was released in HD on Blu-ray, the DVD does look good with its vibrant colors during the outdoors and good lighting.  Because of the film’s music, dialogue and music sound very clear through the center and front channels.  With good use of ambiance through the surround channels.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“To Write Love on Her Arms” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (9:42) Featuring 18 deleted scenes.
  • Making of the Movie – (26:18) A featurette about the making of “To Write Love on Her Arms” with interviews with director Nathan Frankowski and the cast.  Including the real life people who created the non-profit organization.
  • Music in the Movie – (6:24) A featurette about the importance of music in the movie.
  • First Look – (3:12) A short featurette with director Nathan Frankowski discussing how Renee inspired the organization To Write Love on Her Arms, to be created and interviews with the cast.
  • Character Profiles - (11:59) Featuring character profiles as the cast talk about the real-life people they are portraying.
  • On Set Blogs – (3:44) Featuring the various video blogs during the production of “To Write Love on Her Arms”.

There is no doubt that the film “To Write Love on Her Arms” have inspired a lot of people.

The story of Renee Yohee inspired the creation of the Non-Profit Organization but it also took a positive step forward in showcasing an American non-profit organization being built upon one’s battle against addiction, depression, self-mutilation but inspiring others thanks to the efforts of the organization and social media.

The film has been shown at various music festivals and as one hoped for distribution, unfortunately, the film was among the few that were released days before their theatrical release by hackers and unfortunately hurting the film’s theatrical distribution.

But moving beyond the unfortunate, I do feel that “To Write Love on Her Arms” is a film that has relevance for today’s younger generation.

From it’s slick production, visual effects, the use of social media and music, the film also doesn’t portray one who has had such a traumatic life of becoming 100% better.  To show that it’s an uphill battle to stay sober but to also that it’s OK to say that you don’t feel well, but to inspire others to possibly seek help because of one story or the actions by others in trying to get people rehab, counseling or some type of treatment.

I commend director Nathan Frankowski and his co-writer Kate King Lynch of taking a story but giving us a film with visual style but also  to show one young woman’s journey towards rehabilitation and the difficult she faces, but thanks to friends that care, doing all she can to use that energy towards helping others.

But not painting things all sunny and happy, because most often for a lot of these people suffering…there is only darker clouds.  But this film does show that beyond those dark clouds is sunshine, but its going to take work, effort and one’s ability to challenge themselves to move past the darkness and make something positive happen.

“To Write Love on Her Arms” is the story of how the non-profit organization was created, how a 19-year-old named Renee Yohee inspired the creation of the organization, but it’s a story with a positive message that not only will reach beyond Melbourne, Florida but also nationwide and possibly worldwide.

And maybe the film will help someone that is watching it.

As for the DVD, while I wish this film was released on Blu-ray, the DVD does feature good picture and audio quality, as best one can expect on DVD.  There are many special features to also show people the journey it took in making this film for those behind-the-scenes with the non-profit organization, the crew and staff for the film and what they hoped to accomplish.

A portion of the net proceeds of the film will be donated to the To Write Love on Her Arms non-profit organization which is another positive for this DVD release.

Overall, “To Write Love on Her Arms” is a film that is straightforward and it’s not a happy film nor does it pretend to be one.  The life of Renee Yohee was no doubt traumatic, but how she was able to work hard in getting better by wanting to get better is a first step which one can hope will inspire others who are suffering to do the same, by getting the help they need.  But most of all letting them know that no matter how dark those clouds are, their is hope.

And for this film’s inspiring story and the continued and positive difference that the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms, are making in people’s lives, I definitely recommend “To Write Love on Her Arms”.

 

 

Jasper: Journey to the End of the World (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

jasper

For parents looking for a safe and enjoyable children’s film, “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2008 Toons’ Tales FilmProduction GMBH, Fun Movies, Dacodac Studios, a German-French-Romanian Co-Production. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Jasper: Journey to the End of the World

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008

DURATION: 60 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: For All Ages

DATE: March 10, 2015


Directed by Eckart Fingberg, Kay Delventhal

Written by John Chambers, Eckart Fingberg, Michael Madel

Translation by Martin Quaden

Produced by Sunita Struck

Associate Producer: Roch Lener, Andreas Messerschmidt

Line Producer: Marc Dhrami

Music by Florian Tesslof

Edited by  Reiko Pfeiffer


Featuring the voices of:

Malte Arkona as Jasper

Maresa Sedlmeier as Emma

Christoph Maria Herbst as Dr. Block

Rufus Beck as Kakapo

Torsten Lennie Munchow as Rolf

Christine Leyser as Diva

Manou Lubowski as Jasper’s father

Katrin Frohlich as Jaspers Mother


Join the cutest and most curious penguin you’ve ever seen in the delightful animated adventure Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World!

Down at the icy South Pole, Jasper and his family live a peaceful and happy life. But when he and his brother Junior run afoul of the evil Dr. Block and a scheme to steal some rare parrot eggs, it’s up to the plucky penguin to save the day! With the help of Junior and their new friend, a nine-year-old girl named Emma, Jasper embarks on an incredible journey that will take him to places he’d never imagined before.

With a gentle sense of humor and a bright, colorful animation style, Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World is perfect penguin fun for you and your little one.


In 2008, the animated film “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” was released.

A German, French and Romanian co-production,  the family film will be released on DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory in March 2015.

The film begins with a young penguin named Jasper who feels he spotted a green bird.  As he tells his father, his parents feel that he has a great imagination and doesn’t believe him.  Years later, after the birth of his little brother, he sees the green bird again and then a figure (that is a ship) and tries to tell his family and friends about it, but when he shows them, no green bird is to be found.

Meanwhile on a ship, a nine-year-old named Emma rides with her father, the captain of the ship.  Riding on the ship is the evil Dr. Block and his henchman, who have been trying to capture eggs from a threatened parrot species, Kakapo.  And to use the ingredient from Kakapo’s for his lemonade.

But as Emma spies on Dr. Block, she knows they are up to no good and tries to tell her father.  But his father thinks she is imagining everything and is starting trouble, so he entrusts Emma during the duration of the trip to singer, Madame Svetlana Bolamova.

One day, as Jasper tries to show his little brother Junior around their area, Junior runs off and jumps on icebergs and scares Jasper because his little brother doesn’t know how to swim.

Junior ends up landing on an iceberg that takes him to a far destination and Jasper goes after him.  When he does, the two end up coming close to a ship and the green kakapo, who goes by the name of Agent Kakapo.

The three go on board the ship and they decide to team up in order to find the stolen kakapo eggs.

But when junior starts messing around and runs off, the three end up running into Emma and they tell her of their mission to recover the stolen eggs that Dr. Block has stolen.  Now knowing that Dr. Block is evil, Emma joins the three in hopes they can retrieve the kakapo eggs, but will they succeed?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and in Dolby Digital.  The CG animation is probably best summarized as CG animation that is a bit better than the standard CG animated children’s shows on television.   Animation is well-shaded and the figure movements are good but it’s a European CG style that is not a big-budget animated film but still features good movement and good shading.  And for the most part, most children will enjoy the CG animation.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” comes with no special features.


“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is a enjoyable children’s animated film.

The story about a penguin named Jasper that sees a ship and a green bird, but yet no one believes him.  And a 9-year-old girl named Emma who feels that Dr. Block is up to no good, but yet her father doesn’t believe her.

And their parents for the most part feel they imagine everything despite Jasper and Emma knowing that something is definitely happening, but can’t prove it.

So, when Emma, Jasper and his little baby brother Junior and Agent Kakapo team up in order to retrieve stolen Kakapo eggs, it sets them up in an adventure aboard a ship,  as they try to outwit Dr. Kakapo and his assistant.  But can they?

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is a short animated film, but no doubt, a film that will entertain children thanks to its cute characters and adventurous plot.  There is no major violence (aside from Emma and friends being caught and tied up) but these group of friends know they can succeed with teamwork.

The DVD is barebones with no special features, but overall, for parents looking for a safe and enjoyable children’s film, “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is recommended.

 

Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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As a fan of Godard’s oeuvre, “Every Man For Himself” is a Godard film that is best experienced than reading reviews about it.  No words can describe the film correctly because everyone will have their own opinion of what the film is about.  But if you have enjoyed Godard’s films from the past to even his later films, one can appreciate Godard’s contribution to cinema.  In this case, a creative, bold and unique film that can never be duplicated.  “Every Man For Himself” is highly recommended!

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

TITLE: Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744

RELEASE OF FILM: 1980

DURATION: 88 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, 1:66:1 Aspect Ratio, French Monaural, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Janus Films/The Criterion Collection

RELEASED: February 3, 2015

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Scenario by Anne-Marie Mieville and Jean-Claude Carriere

Music by Gabriel Yared

Director of Photography: Renato Berta, William Lubtchansky, Jean-Bernard Menoud

Edited by Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Mieville

Art direction by Romain Goupil

Starring:

Isabelle Huppert as Isabelle Riviere

Jacques Dutronc as Paul Godard

Nathalie Baye as Denise Rimbaud

Cecile Tanner as Cecile

Anna Baldaccini as Isabelle’s Sister

After a decade in the wilds of avant-garde and early video experimentation, Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless) returned to commercial cinema with this work of social commentary, star-driven and narrative while remaining defiantly intellectual and visually cutting-edge. Every Man for Himself, featuring a script by Jean-Claude Carrière (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) and Anne-Marie Miéville (Ici et ailleurs), looks at the sexual and professional lives of three people—a television producer (Van Gogh’s Jacques Dutronc), his ex-girlfriend (The Return of Martin Guerre’s Nathalie Baye), and a prostitute (White Material’s Isabelle Huppert)—to create a meditative story about work, relationships, and the notion of freedom. Made twenty years into his career, the film was, according to Godard, a second debut.

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After a decade of focusing on militant left-wing films and becoming a different type of filmmaker unlike the Nouvelle Vague director that everyone had come to appreciate back in the ’60s, by 1980, Jean-Luc Godard was ready to step back into the mainstream.

With more money and well-known French film stars, Godard would create “Sauve qui peut (la vie)” (a.k.a. “Every Man for Himself”), a film which Godard has called his “second first film”.  It was a film which would lead Jean-Luc Godard to promote the film heavily in the United States but it was also a chance for Godard to show the world of his experimental style of filmmaking, which he had dubbed as “decomposition” (which features slowing down of action via frame by frame).

The film would star Isabelle Huppert (“Amour”, “The Piano Teacher”, “I Heart Huckabees”), Jacques Dutronc (“Sightseers”, “Factory Girl”, “Moonrise Kingdom”), Nathalie Baye (“Catch Me If You Can”, “An Affair of Love”, “Tell No One”) and Cecile Tanner (“Three Colors: Red”, “Requiem”).

The film would earn Jean-Luc Godard a Palme d’Or nomination at the 19980 Cannes Film Festival and nominations at the Cesar Awards, which actress Nathalie Baye would win “Best Actress – Supporting Role”.

And now, “Every Man For Himself” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

It’s important to note that this film is not easy to describe.  It’s a film that is rather interesting because of its out-of-left-field dialogue but also because of it’s unusual characters and the experimentation which Jean-Luc Godard employs throughout the film.  From slow motion shots, music and sounds just being cut or shortened and how far each of these characters go in order to find their own happiness or to survive.

The film is split up into three sections.  In the first section, we are introduced to Paul Godard (portrayed by Jacques Dutronc), a filmmaker who is dating his estranged girlfriend, Denise Rimbaud (portrayed by Nathalie Baye).

Denise is trying to decide if she wants to give up a hotel she shares with Paul and leaving her job from a TV station where Paul currently works.  She is often riding a bike.

The second section features Paul, who is picking up his daughter Cecile (portrayed by Cecile Tanner) from soccer practice and immediately, he has discussion with the soccer coach if he ever felt like touching his own daughter or having sex with her.  We see Paul’s relationship with his ex-wife and his daughter, but also the arguments that he and Denise tend to have.  Meanwhile, Paul meets Isabelle (portrayed by Isabelle Huppert), a prostitute.

The third section focuses on Isabelle and we get to see her life as a prostitute and the unusual requests that she gets.

By the final segment, everything comes full circle and we see the connection between each character.

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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744″ is presented in 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.

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

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:

“Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744″ comes with the following special features:

  • Scenario De “Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie)” – (5:47) A 20-minute video submitted to the Centre national du cinema, in place of a screenplay, to secure Godard financing for the film.
  • Sound, Image, and Every Man For Himself – (25:54) Film historian Colin MacAbe explores the way Jean-Luc Godard plays with sound and image.
  • Jean-Luc Godard on the Dick Cavett Show - Featuring a promo plus two episodes (25 min. each) of Jean-Luc Godard being interviewed by Dick Cavett for “The Dick Cavett” show.
  • Godard 1980 – (16:19) A short film featuring Jon Jost, Don Ranvaud, and Peter Wllen interview Jean-Luc Godard.
  • Interviews – Featuring interviews with Marin Karmitz, Isabelle Huppert, Nathalie Baye, Renato Berta and William Lubtchansky and Gabriel Yared.
  • Trailer – Features the theatrical trailer for “Every Man For Himself”.

EXTRAS:

“Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744″ comes with a 6-fold insert with the essay “Themes and Variations” by Amy Taubin.

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“Every Man For Himself” has always been a film that I look at in a variety of ways.

Jean-Luc Godard back home from vacation.  Jean-Luc Godard has had enough of a decade without money making militant left-wing films and now he wants to come back to mainstream cinema.

While I did enjoy “Tout va bien” in 1972 and for the most part, the Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin collaborative years, the ’70s was a political time in Godard’s life as a filmmaker.

By 1980, the filmmaker was ready to take on mainstream cinema with “Every Man For Himself” which included a promotional effort by Godard to promote the film.  With the support of producer Alain Sarde, who loved Godard’s films, he was able to obtain financing from television stations from France, West Germany and Switzerland.

Unlike his films from the past, “Every Man For Himself” marked a new direction for Jean-Luc Godard, the filmmaker.  A difference of technology (in this case, it was the use of a video tape instead of a storybook) but also a difference in cinema.  People held a newfound respect towards Godard for his contributions to French cinema.

But on the set, like his previous films, Godard was still Godard and his attitude on the set was well-known to be problematic, challenging and troubled.

The fact is that the character of Paul Godard reflected Jean-Luc Godard, the character of Denise was modeled after Godard’s companion, Anne-Marie Mieville.

No one knew what to expect from the film because Jean-Luc Godard never informed them what the scene would be about.

In one scene in the film, Godard has the camera focused on young actress Cecile Tanner who played the character of Cecile.  A daughter who played soccer, while her father asks incestuous questions to the coach about his daughter.  While Godard filmed Tanner close-up, she had no idea of the discussion the two men were having about the character.

For Isabelle Huppert (known for her performance in “Amour” and “The Piano Teacher”), she would have one of the more memorable scenes in the film, because they revolve around sex. And they are sexual scenes that are quite interesting to watch on the big screen and don’t expect to see in a Godard film.

From the character of Isabelle trying to get her sister involved in prostitution, meeting an older single man in his hotel room and wanting to roleplay or a scene which involves with a wealthy businessman with naughty requests.

But it’s a film where actress Isabelle Huppert shined.  A woman who was the neutral balance to the characters, but in Godard’s words, wanted a character that would be a woman in suffering.

Nathalie Baye would portray the woman, Denise, a woman who wanted to escape.  Escape the man, the city, the job, the home in order to go about her new life.

The film today may feel as Godard’s triumphant “fuck you” to humanity considering he is a filmmaker who walked on the beat of his own drum.   Saying things that may have contradicted himself, cinema.  Saying things that irritated his fellow filmmakers and even those closer to him.  But it’s because of his style of non-wavering to traditional Hollywood form and being unique and different that we appreciate about him.

Using freeze frames and other cinema expressions that would drive most traditional and modern cinema viewers mad, yet to not understand why a director would make such a film.  The initial response received from those who watched at Cannes for “Every Man For Himself” is no different to Godard in the past and Godard in the present, people will say negative things about his film, there are those who will praise him for raising that middle finger in his films to no abandon, but this is Godard.  This is cinema! He has done things his way, not everyone’s way.  Every film, every decade we have seen a different Godard but for me, having appreciated his films for his audacious direction and going against traditional Hollywood norm, I appreciate him for that.

But I have to admit that I was a bit taken back, once you watch the Criterion Collection release of “Every Man For Himself” of the promotion he did for the film.  Of course, he was making a mainstream film…yet Godard is Godard.

Wanting to create a film that he believed in and took the opportunity to promote the film with talk show host Dick Cavett (that was no doubt seemed at times during the interview that it could have been a disaster) and the return of Godard to cinema, alas, this movie should have been celebrated as his celebrated return to cinema but instead he experienced the ire of viewers who were not supportive of the film’s provocative sexual scenes.  Which I can definitely see why the film shocked viewers then and I can see viewers being shocked about it in the present.

To save the film after the disaster at Cannes, the film was quickly called as “a work in progress” but later shown to the same journalists without any edits and interestingly, would be called a masterpiece.  “Sauve qi peut” (Every Man for Himself) became the talk amongst critics worldwide.

“Every Man For Himself” had become Godard’s “second first film”.  A moniker which he created and a film that will be remembered for its audacity and while one will never fully grasp what message Godard wanted to send to audiences, it’s a film that one would discover something new each time it’s viewed.

I enjoyed this film greatly because it was so unlike any film he had made previously.  The sex scenes were unexpected for a Godard film, the dialogue was surprising but there was also some of that older Godard with the halting of music, the tragic death scene, the woman looking directly into the camera, the creative play of editing that would drive most movie fans crazy because they were never exposed to Godard’s art of cinema.

As a fan of Godard’s oeuvre, “Every Man For Himself” is a Godard film that is best experienced than reading reviews about it.  No words can describe the film correctly because everyone will have their own opinion of what the film is about.

But if you have enjoyed Godard’s films from the past to even his later films, one can appreciate Godard’s contribution to cinema.  In this case, a creative, bold and unique film that can never be duplicated.

“Every Man For Himself” is highly recommended!

 

 

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