Top

Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge vol. 1 – Roar (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with ten action-packed episodes.  If you love the first season of “Power Rangers Dino Charge”, definitely check out this second season on DVD!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge vol. 1 – Roar

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-10 [Episodes 23-32] (2 Hrs. and 12 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: January 10, 2017


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


The Power Rangers continue their search for the Energems after Sledge’s defeat, but soon learn that his most dangerous prisoner, the evil Heckyl, survived! In light of this new threat, Kendall creates a powerful new Dino Charger that unlocks the Red Ranger’s T-Rex Super Charge mode! It will take every Zord, Megazord, and Dino Charger in the Power Rangers’ arsenal to finally unite all ten Energems and save the universe!


The second season of “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” begins as Heckyl and Snide resume leadership after Sledge’s defeat.  And now the two are after the final two Energems.  Can the Power Rangers find the remaining Energems before Heckyl and Snide?  Also, who is the Aqua Ranger?  And Silver Ranger?  And new enemies….Singe and Fury?

All this and more for “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar”!  Featuring the first ten episodes of the second season!

What is “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” about?

In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television.  And as usual with Power Rangers series, a second season follows and in January 2016, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” made its debut.

The 23rd season of the “Power Rangers” series continues with the same actors as season one: Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, Claire Blackwelder and Davi Santos.

And new antagonists with Heckyl and Snide.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Heckyl and Snide continues to look for the remaining two Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems before their enemies can and prepare themselves for the battle ahead.

Power Rangers Dino Charge consists of:

  • Dino Charge Red Ranger – Tyler Navarro (portrayed by Brennan Mejia) – The leader of the team and works as the chef at Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum’s restaurant, the Dino Bite Cafe. He commands the T-Rex Zord.  His father had gone missing when he was a child and Tyler hopes one day he can find him.
  • Dino Charge Pink Ranger – Shelby Watkins (portrayed by Camille Hyde) – A waitress at the Dino Bite Cafe and knows a lot about Dinosaurs. She commands the Tricera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Blue Ranger – Koda (portrayed by Yoshi Sudarso) – A Cro-Magnon caveman who found the Blue Energem a hundred thousand years ago in a Stegosaurus fossil. He was unfrozen by Kendall and Chase and becomes the Dino Charge Blue Ranger. He works as a dishwasher for Dino Bite Cafe and Amber Beach Museum digger. He commands the Stego Zord.
  • Dino Charge Green Ranger – Riley Griffin (portrayed by Michael Taber) – Works as an intern at the Amber Beach Museum and as a waiter at Dino Bite Cafe. He is calm and very intelligent. He commands the Raptor Zord.
  • Dino Charge Black Ranger – Chase Randall (portrayed by James Davies) – The flirtatious and laid-back member who likes to ride a skateboard. Works as a janitor at Amber Beach museum and is an expert paleontology digger. He commands the Para Zord.
  • Dino Charge Gold Ranger – Sir Ivan of Zandar (portrayed by Davi Santos) – A Mideival knight who served the royal family of Zandar 800 years ago. He commands the Ptera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Graphite Ranger – Prince Phillip III (portrayed by Jarred Blakiston) – The wealthy crown prince of Zandar and descendent of Prince Colin. He is helpful and cares about the environment and wants to become a Power Ranger. He commands the Pachy Zord.
  • Kendall Morgan (portrayed by Claire Blackwelder) – A 26-year-old scientist who manages the Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum and heads the paleontology digging group.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” featured a total of 22 episodes, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” features the first ten episodes of season two which consists of 20 episodes + two specials.

And this time around, Lions Gate is now releasing ten episodes instead of the usual five with this DVD release.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Roar”:

  • Episode 23 – “When Evil Stirs” – For the Power Rangers, a new enemy emerges.
  • Episode 24 – “Forgive and Forget” – Heckyl launches a new plan to find the Power Rangers base, meanwhile Riley has a new rival at school.
  • Episode 25 – “Nightmare in Amber Beach” – Shelby’s father pressures her to get great grades, so she can take over Watkins Ice Cream.  Meanwhile, they must confront Nightmare, a monster which causes the Power Rangers to fall asleep.
  • Episode 26 – “A Date with Danger” – A new enemy named Singe appears, meanwhile Chase and his girlfriend Kaylee breakup, as she has fallen for his Power Rangers persona, Black Ranger.
  • Episode 27 – “Roar of the Red Ranger” – Tyler takes the Rangers to the campsite that he and his father visited, the last area where he has seen his father.  But as monsters attack Tyler, out of nowhere, the Aqua Ranger has appeared.
  • Episode 28 – “Forged Under Fire” – What happens when Singe has a new plan to defeat the Rangers with power-disabling rings?
  • Episode 29 – “Home Run Koda” – Kendall creates a new Dino Charger, meanwhile Koda becomes a baseball star and Riley manages him.  But will Riley’s passion to become a champ overshadow his commitment as a Power Ranger?
  • Episode 30 – “Riches and Rags” – When Ivan accidentally destroys a thousand-year old suit of armor, thinking it’s a training dummy, the museum is now in debt of two million dollars and the museum may be closed.  How will the Rangers save the museum?
  • Episode 31 – “Besties 4Eva” – Shelby’s best friend Erin always takes credit for Erin’s accomplishments.  But now, Erin is proclaiming herself as the Pink Ranger.
  • Episode 32 – “Gone Fishin'” – The Rangers receive a message from the Silver Ranger, but Fury destroys it before they can receive it.  Meanwhile Riley and brother Matt go fishing.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Suepr Charge – Roar” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Rioar” comes with a slip cover.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Roar” is probably a DVD release that I’m quite happy that Lions Gate has made the decision to go with a ten-episode release, versus the standard five episodes.

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince. Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action. As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

As for this DVD volume, it’s pretty much the first ten episodes of season two and feature stories revolving around each character.  From Tyler’s search for his missing father, Shelby having to deal with her best friend who is now proclaiming herself as the Pink Ranger, Koda dealing with his fears of ice and also becoming a baseball player, Riley’s competitive attitude coming to fruition as he has a school rival and also managing Koda during the baseball episode, Chase breaking up with his girlfriend and getting jealous as she has fallen for his Black Ranger persona and Sir Ivan accidentally destroying a historic outfit  that now may force the museum to close down.

The latest season also features four new enemies that the Power Rangers must take on, but it also features the debut of the Aqua Ranger and also a glimpse of the Silver Ranger.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features. Fortunately, unlike previous DVD releases, there is no digital HD code included.

Overall, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Roar” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with ten action-packed episodes.  If you love the first season of “Power Rangers Dino Charge”, definitely check out this second season on DVD!

 

Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Yinxi Song’s “Amnesia” will entertain those wanting a popcorn action film.  But having reviewed martial arts action films for over 20-years, “Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia” is no doubt one of the most inconsistent, badly written martial arts action film that I have ever watched.

Image courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 102 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen 2:35:1 aspect ratio, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: PG-13

Release Date: January 3, 2017


Directed by Yinxi Song

Written by Xiaoshuai Hu and Yinxi Song

Produced by Yinxi Song, Zhang Shijia

Executive Producer: Jackie Chan, Jianguo Xu, Yinxi Song

Music by Varqa Buehrer, Tiannan Cai, Huazhang Dai, Zhao Zhao


Starring:

Wang Haixiang (Ocean) as Li Ziwei

Ken Lo

Xingtong Yao as Tong Xin

Ronguang Yu

Lanxin Zhang


Martial-arts legend Jackie Chan presents this pulse-pounding update to his own classic thriller.


In 1998, Jackie Chan co-directed (with Bennie Chan) and starred in the film “Who Am I?” which featured Chan playing an agent who suffers from short-term memory loss and travels the world.

Fast forward 17-years later and Jackie Chan is the executive producer of “Amnesia”, a vehicle to promote his protege and friends in a film that is not a remake or reboot of “Who Am I?”.  And what better to launch their careers than attach a legends name to the project and get people excited of what may be a remake, reboot or update of his 1998 film.

With “Amnesia”, while the film does have Jackie Chan’s name attached to it as an Executive Producer, what we have is an action film co-written and directed by Yinxi Song and a vehicle for new actor Ocean Wang.

And now the film is available on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

“Amnesia” begins with bike courier (but also street racer and also one who likes to take part in parkour) Li Ziwei (portrayed by Ocean Wang) delivering a package.

Unfortunately, he notices something awry and realizes that the two people he meets are involved in a murder scene and want the package that Li Ziwei is delivering.

But during the pursuit, while Ziwei manages to escape, he hits his head on the bridge and tumbles and falls into a river.

Now Li Ziwei is suffering from prosopagnosia, a cognitive disorder known as “face blindness” in which one can’t recognize faces including one’s own due to damage to the brain.

As Li Ziwei awakes from being hospitalized, he doesn’t know where he is or his surroundings abut receives a mysterious phone call about his condition and that he must try to protect the package that he has in his position.  He is also reminded of his car racing skills, his parkour and martial arts skills but also the death of his girlfriend.  But also that he is now a wanted man as the death (of the person who was supposed to receive the package) has been attributed to him and now he is a wanted man.

Meanwhile, the murderers who are after the package have discovered Li Ziwei’s identity and are now after him.

As Li Ziwei tries to avoid being captured by the murderers, he is joined by a sassy hitchiker named Tong Xin (portrayed by Xingtong Yao) and he tries to find out why people want the package but also to clear his name.


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Amnesia” is presented in 16:9 anamorphic (2:35:1 aspect ratio) and Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD. The film is primarily dialogue driven. Dialogue and music is crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Amnesia” comes with no special features.


Quite often in sports, you often see in sports news discussing who will be the next legend.

And for martial arts films, there is always discussion of who will be the next Jackie Chan, Jet Li, etc.

And while the last 15-years have gave us a glimpse of who may be the next action star, but a lot of them have not become action stars but just film stars.

And when it comes to action films, one way of getting attention is by attaching your name to a project and for martial arts legendary actor Jackie Chan, attaching your name to a film with a title that may make people think it’s an update, remake or reboot of a past film will surely receive hype.

In 2015, Yinxi Song wrote and directed “Amnesia” and as the film would be his introduction as writer and director, young actor Ocean Wang would get a chance to show that he can be the next martial arts star.

Unfortunately, “Amnesia” is a film that would have benefited if there was no relation to Jackie Chan’s 1998 film “Who Am I?” but when it comes to financing a martial arts film, you need all the help you can get it and what best than to utilize Jackie Chan’s name to make an action film.

The problem is, “Amnesia” has nothing to do with actual amnesia like the 1998 film and while an entertaining martial arts popcorn action film, the film’s plot is quite weak.

The film reminds me of a martial arts version of David Koepp’s 2012 action-thriller, “Premium Rush”.  A film about a bicycle messenger who is delivering a package and now is wanted and pursued by a corrupt police officer.

“Amnesia” revolves around a bike courier being pursued by a triad with two murderers who are after a package that the courier, Li Ziwei, has in his possession.

But when the bike courier has brain damage due to hitting his head on a bridge, he now suffers from prospagnosia and is unable to recognize any faces, including his own.

All he knows is through a mysterious call, traces of his past, fragments of memories and is now joined by a sassy hitchhiker that he picks up and realizes there are people out to kill him and police think he’s a criminal.

All Li Ziwei can do is run and fight.

And of course, no matter how far he travels to escape the gang, they always know where he is headed.

While if the film focused on action, it’s muddled due to his fragmented memories of a girlfriend that has died. And he starts thinking the girl he picked up is his girlfriend and she tends to go along with it as she starts to have feelings for him.

The problem with the film is that it tries to teeter with two stories of a man who is wanted and a man who can’t escape the guilt of the past and his girlfriend that died.

To make things worse, we are given an ending that cheats viewers out of any true ending and felt it was put together in haste and that the hour that one has been watching, has been thrown out of the window by giving a finale that really seems it came from another script.

To put it simply, this is one of the worse screenplays that I have seen when it comes to continuity.  How the film is resolved was poorly done and how the film deals with the two murderers that we see pursuing Li Ziwei throughout the film is really stupid.  If they wanted to make up for this monstrosity of a script, they could have explained it with Li Ziwei waking up from his coma or sleep and saying “that was a weird dream”.

The film looks and sounds as good as it can get on DVD and it’s a barebones release, so there are no special features.

Again, just because Jackie Chan’s name is on the title and he is the executive producer should not come into watching this film and expecting a Jackie Chan martial arts film.  Nor does it have anything to do with his 1998 film “Who Am I?”.

Overall, Yinxi Song’s “Amnesia” will entertain those wanting a popcorn action film.  But having reviewed martial arts action films for over 20-years, “Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia” is no doubt one of the most inconsistent, badly written martial arts action film that I have ever watched.

 

Streets of Compton (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Streets of Compton” is a well-produced, well-researched and wonderfully edited documentary about how the crime-infested streets of Compton became that way and despite decades of violence and economic hardship, there is always hope as many talents and athletes raised in the streets of Compton aspired to make something of themselves and make a difference.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Streets of Compton

TV SERIES (YEAR): 20165

DURATION: 135 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: December 13, 2016


Directed by Mark Ford

Produced by Wesley Jones

Executive Produced by Brad Abramson, Mark Ford, Kevin Lopez

Associate Producer: Leah Harari

Supervising Producer: Aaron Simard, Todd L. Williams

Story Producer: Jose Toscano

Cinematography by Mark Petersen

Edited by Timothy Kelley, Parris Patton, Jennifer Tiexiera


Starring:

The Game

Anthony Anderson

Paul Rodriguez

Lil’ Eazy-E

DJ Yella

Eazy-E

Niecy Nash

Dr. Dre

M.C. Ren

Lonzo Williams

Robert Lee Johnson

G.A. Taylor

Kendrick Lamar

Venus Williams

Serena Williams


In the same vein as STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, this series follows the rise of West Coast hip-hop and the making of music legends such as NWA and Dr. Dre. Featuring The Game and Lil Eazy-E.


With the success of the film “Straight Outta Compton”, filmmaker/producer Mark Ford (“Laguna Beach”, “Uprising: Hip Hop & the LA Riots”, “Behind the Music”) delved into the history of Compton, California and how it would become a city overrun by gangs and violence but also how talent would be born in the city.

A 135-minute special which aired on A&E, the first part of the series would show how Compton was one of the first Cauasian cities to be open to Latinos and then later, middle-class African Americans in 1948.  And how the city was divided in 1960’s, as Caucasians would live in the East and non-Whites would be on West, as many realtors tried to make sure no homes were sold to people of color on the East Side of Compton.  And the first gangs in Compton were Caucasian that would prevent Blacks from crossing over to the East Side.

And this would lead to a tipping point with African Americans fighting back against the inequality.

But when the Watts Riots happened in Los Angeles, many of the Caucasians left Compton and took their businesses with them.

This would leave to many African Americans to have no jobs or recreation and gangs would be organized.  And as the Crips from South LA would move to East Compton in the ’70s, this would lead to the founding of the West Side Piru, a gang who were against outsiders coming into Compton.  And would lead to violence between the gangs, especially as the Crips would control Compton High (blue) and the Pirus would control Centennial High (red) and violence would escalate back and forth between gangs from the two neighborhoods.

And while the violence would escalate between the Crips and the Bloods (Pirus), there would be talent born during the violent decade as Paul Rodriguez, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, The Game, tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and more.  But with police vs. gang battles escalating, the tensions between locals from Compton and the police would be featured in the music of rap group, N.W.A.

Featuring many interviews from talents, politicians, police and gang members, “Streets of Compton” is a documentary that would go into the history and the present of Compton, California.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Streets of Compton” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect from a documentary, you are going to have different sources of footage with differing quality.  But for the most part, the documentary looks great during the modern interviews and the older source footage is not bad at all.

Subtitles are in English SDH

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Streets of Compton” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Streets of Compton” comes with a slipcover.


For those who grew up listening to N.W.A., Eazy-E, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, watching comedian Paul Rodriguez or actor Anthony Anderson or watching tennis athletes Venus and Serena Williams, may or may not be familiar that these big names are from Compton, California.

Unfortunately, Compton is a city that scares people because of its endless media reports of people dying in the city due to gang violence.

The violence in Compton has been going on since the 1960’s, but for those wondering how Compton became overrun by gang violence and how this violence would change the lives of many people from Compton who would go on to be big names in the music, sports or TV/film industry.

But Compton was not always a violent place, unfortunately, the cities roots of racism and White on Black crime would eventually lead to African Americans fighting back for equality but instead of getting equality, the Caucasian locals would leave Compton and bring their businesses with them, leaving the city with hardly any place for employment and violence.

And with the White business and home owners moving out of the East Side, this would leave the city open to outsiders to move in and the gang battle between the Crips and Bloods (Piru) would become commonplace in media.

And would make people fear Compton, while others who grew up in the city, would strive to make something out of themselves despite the troubles of the environment they have grown up in.

For the most part, Director Mark Ford and crew have done a wonderful job of discovering and putting together video footage and photos of Compton and its locals since the 1940’s and also getting interviews needed to substantiate the climate of Compton in the 1960’s to the present time but also the dangers and how they were able to survive in the city and showing that despite the troubles, the tragedies and other negatives connected to the city, there is hope and many entertainment and sport talents have emerged from Compton, stronger than ever and made the best from their situation.

As for the DVD, documentary is great but because it’s a documentary featuring so much sourced footage from several decades, as one can expect, picture quality will vary, but dialogue and music are crystal clear.  Unfortunately, there are no special features included.

Overall, “Streets of Compton” is a well-produced, well-researched and wonderfully edited documentary about how the crime-infested streets of Compton became that way and despite decades of violence and economic hardship, there is always hope as many talents and athletes raised in the streets of Compton aspired to make something of themselves and make a difference.  Recommended!

 

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

December 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four

DURATION: Episodes 493-504 (Duration: 320 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 8, 2016


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

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

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


A glimpse of the past, how Luffy and Ace met!

The battle at Marineford has come to a close, but the story of Luffy and Ace’s past has yet to be told! As a boy of only seven, Luffy is reluctantly taken in by the Dadan family of mountain bandits at his grandfather’s request. After many failed attempts, he finally befriends Dadan’s other charge, the moody and reckless Ace. Together with their friend Sabo, the boys loot the junkyard known as the Gray Terminal and battle mighty beasts of the forest.

 Dreaming of becoming pirates, the three form inseparable bonds of brotherhood. But the impending arrival of a Celestial Dragon throws the kingdom into a frenzy as they try to hide the garbage that has shamed their noble city. Playtime is over when Sabo’s family takes their son away and a sinister plan to destroy the Gray Terminal unfolds.


In the last volume of “One Piece”, we witnessed the tragic death of Ace.  As Luffy mourns the death of his brother, the latest episodes featured on “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” features on how Luffy and Ace met and how he, Ace and Ace’s friend Sabo would grow up together as children with dreams of becoming pirates.  But how tragedy would eventually lead them to train harder.

As Luffy remembers the past, he knows that he must train harder, become stronger and making a tough decision.

What is “One Piece”?

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

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 18th season and a total of 767 episodes have been aired in Japan.

Despite receiving a heavily edited version in North America via 4Kids Entertainment earlier on, FUNimation began releasing the original, uncut versions since May of 2008 and here we are in 2016, now with the DVD release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” (Episodes 493-504), available now, courtesy of FUNimation.

NOTE: Episode 492 featuring Luffy teaming up with Toriko is not included for the North American DVD release.

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


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO :

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 495 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Jessica Cavanagh (voice of Curly Dadan) and Newton Pittman (voice of Magra).

DISC 2:

  • Episode 503 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chris Burnett and Morgan Garrett.
  • Inside Look: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World – (14:41) Funimation staff discuss Ace’s death and why it was a tragic story that affected viewers worldwide.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Fight Together”

With the release of “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four”, the episodes are from the Japanese 14th season (featuring episodes 493-504) as this volume features another heartbreaking story but one that gives people a breather from the shocking and tragic death of Ace but now going back in the past to show how Luffy and Ace have a special bond, but also how there was another character which Luffy and Ace considered as brothers.

With episodes 493-504, as Luffy mourns the death of Ace, we get to watch flashback episodes when he and Ace were young and how Ace was really bad towards Luffy but eventually they became brothers, along with another person named Sabo.

The three made a decision to become pirates and trained hard to become stronger.  But most importantly, to show how Ace was an important figure in Luffy’s life and how Luffy really had no one but Ace and Sabo.  But the three get in trouble and are captured by the pirate, Bluejam.

While the last DVD volume was truly epic, heartbreaking and no doubt an emotional rollercoaster, we learn that both Ace and Luffy had also faced a major heartbreaking tragedy that would set them on a new path to become stronger and achieve their goals to become pirates.

For “One Piece” fans, this latest volume does showcase Luffy and Ace as children but it’s still action-packed, full of humor but also tragedy, so prepare yourself for another sad tragic demise of a character.

Needless to say, “One Piece” fans will not be disappointed!

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

Unfortunately, episode 492 is not included on this DVD as it’s a collaboration episode between Luffy and Toriko (of the “Toriko” anime series). And possibly due to licensing issues, this episode was not included in this volume.

Overall, “One Piece: Season Eight, Voyage Four” is an another fun, action-packed volume as it goes into how Luffy and Ace met and how they would become brothers. Recommended!

 

Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty Double Feature (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

November 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Both History/A&E mini-series were entertaining, informative but also exciting!  Definitely one of the best re-enactments and historical mini-series to be featured by History, “Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty” Double Feature on DVD is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty Double Feature

AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Texas Rising: 7 Hrs., 30 Minutes; Sons of Liberty: 270 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Texas Rising: 2:40:1 Widescreen Presentation, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish; Sons of Liberty: 1:78:1 Widescreen Presentation, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate/History/A&E Networks

RATED: N/A

Release Date: November 22, 2016


Texas Rising

Directed by Roland Joffe

Written by Darrell Fetty, Leslie Greif, George Nihil

Produced by Herb Nanas, Joanne Rubino

Co-Producer: David Marion Wilkinson

Executive Producers: Leslie Greif, Adam Reed

Co-Executive Producer: Barry M. Berg

Supervising Producer: Jose Ludlow

Music by Bruce Broughton, John Debney

Cinematographer: Arthur Reinhart

Edited by Don Cassidy

Casting by Fern Champion

Production Design by Salvador Parra

Art Direction by Francisco Blanc, Chris Gallipoli, Nicolas Scabini

Costume Design by Karri Hutchinson, Michele Michel

Sons of Liberty

Directed by Kari Skogland

Written by Stephen David, Kirk Ellis, Zachary Herrman, Jordan Rosenblum, Kari Skogland, David C. White

Produced by Peter Feldman, Mitch Engel, Mathew Stillman

Executive Producer: Stephen David, Elaine Frontain Bryant, Matthew Gross, Dirk Hoogstra, Russell McCarroll

Co-Executive Producer: Tim W. Kelly, Kari Skogland

Associate Producer: Brandy Crawford, Jeff Robinson

Associate Producer: Brandy Crawford

Music by Lorne Balfe

Cinematography by George Steel

Edited by Sean Albertson, Paul Trejo, Jonathan Soule

Casting by Laura Grosu, Amy Hubbard, Avy Kaufman

Production Design by Rob Gray

Art Direction by Vraciu Eduard Daniel, Servan Porupca, Vlad Roseanu

Set Decoration by Andreea Hillerin, James Wilcock

Series Costume Design by Donna Zakowska


Texas Rising

Starring:

Bill Paxton as Sam Houston

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as “Deaf” Smith

Olivier Martinez as Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

Thomas Jane as James Wykoff

Crispin Glover as Mosley Baker

Jeremy Davies as Ephraim Knowles

Rhys Coiro as Vern Elwood

Christopher McDonald as Henry Karnes

Max Thieriot as Jack Hays

Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Emily West

Robert Knepper as Empresario Buckley

Chad Michael Murray as Mirabeau Lamar

Jeff Fahey as Thomas Rusk

Sarah Jones as Pauline Wykoff

Joe Egender as Beans Wilkins

Robert Baker as Big Foot Wallace

Stephen Monroe Taylor as Gator Davis

Trevor Donovan as Kit Acklin

Rob Morrow as Colonel James Fannin

Kris Kristofferson as Andrew Jackson

Brendan Fraser as Billy Anderson

Ray Liotta as Lorca

Gerardo Taracena as Manuel Flores

Raul Mendez as Juan Seguin

Jacob Lofland as Colby Pit

Antonio de la Vega as Almonte

Darrel Fetty as Doc Ewing

Sons of Liberty

Starring:

Ben Barnes as Sam Adams

Marton Csokas as General Thomas Gage

Ryan Eggold as Joseph Warren

Henry Thomas as John Adams

Michael Raymond-James as Paul Revere

Rafe Spall as John Hancock

Jason O’Mara as George Washington

Dean Norris as Ben Franklin

Shane Taylor as Thomas Preston

Emily Berrington as Margaret Kemble Gage

Kevin Ryan as John Pitcairn

Diarmaid Murtagh as Tim Kelly

Darren Connolly as Seargeant Urquhart


HISTORY(R) brings to life the true story of how the people of Texas fought for freedom against the mighty Mexican military that had overtaken the Alamo. The legendary Texas Rangers assembled for the first time against General Santa Anna’s massive military might. United under the leadership of Sam Houston (Paxton) and with the help of his ragtag army, they passionately battled for life and country and the Lone Star State.

Anarchy rules in 1776 as a secret group of radical young Americans join together in the fight for independence from the sovereign roll of a king and his empire. They test authority. They incite protest. They create the blueprint for modern democracy… as they Sons of Liberty.


In 2015, HISTORY/A&E released two thrilling mini-series, “Texas Rising” and “Sons of Liberty”.  And now, both will be released on DVD as a double feature!

“Texas Rising” is a 10-hour television mini-series based on the Texas Revolution against Mexico and a backstory of how the Texas Rangers were created.

Directed by Roland Joffe (“The Killing Fields”, “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Mission”), the miniseries was co-written by Darrell Fetty, Leslie Greif and George Nehil.

The series would feature an all-star cast which would include Bill Paxton (“Titanic”, “Apollo 13”, “Edge of Tomorrow”), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Watchmen”, “The Losers”, “The Possession”), Olivier Martinez (“Unfaithful”, “S.W.A.T.”, “Taking Lives”), Thomas Jane (“The Mist”, “Deep Blue Sea”, “Dreamcatcher”), Crispin Glover (“Back to the Future”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Charlie’s Angels”), Jeremy Davies (“Saving PRivate Ryan”, “Lost”, “Secretary”), Christopher MacDonald (“Happy Gilmore, “Thelma & Louise”, “Harry’s Law”), Max Thieriot (“Jumper”, “Bates Motel”, “The Pacifier”), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (“The Accountant”, “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, “Colombiana”) and many more.

After the defeat and executions of those defending The Alamo on March 7, 1836 by Mexico’s Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (portrayed by Olivier Martinez) and his soldiers, having executed all men, Santa Anna allows a few of the women to survive: Emily D. West (portrayed by Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and Susana Dickinson (portrayed by Alixandra von Renner).

At the outpost in Texas, Sam Houston’s (portrayed by Bill Paxton) men grow weary that they do not go to the Alamo to fight against the Mexican army, but hearing the grave news, he decides to keep his soldiers in Texas and not fight just yet, which many of the men start to resent Houston as they want revenge.

As a few soldiers go to check on the Alamo, they discover a few Mexican soldiers being pursued by Karankawa Indians and the soldiers go to rescue the women from both the Mexican Army and the Indians.  When they bring the women back to camp, the women reveal what happened at the Alamo and why they were the only survivors.

Because Houston feels his army is still limited and not ready to fight against Santa Anna’s army, and abandon their stronghold in Goliad and join forces with others in Victoria.  But Colonel Fannin and his men refuse to listen and end up being ambushed by General Urrea and are all massacred by Colonel Po0rtilla’s soldiers.

When will Sam Houston allow his restless men to fight against Santa Anna’s army?

Meanwhile, Houston’s Texas Rangers which include hero “Deaf” Smith (portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan), half white/Indian Billy Anderson (portrayed by Brendan Fraser) and other men try to fight the Indians and rescue others in need.

“Sons of Liberty” is a three part miniseries about the start of the Revolutionary War, the negotiations of the Second Continental Congress in Boston, Massachusetts and the signing of the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The series follows people from the British Colonies and British America who shows their allegiance to Great Britain.  But others in the Colonies are not supportive of the British and with their resistance, the Sons of Liberty are created.

Directed by Kari Skogland (“White Lies”, “The Stone Angel”, “Fifty Dead Mean Walking”) and co-written by Stephen David, Kirk Ellis, Zachary Herrmann, Jordan Rosenblum, Kari Skogland and David C. White, the series would star Ben Barnes (“The Chronicles of Narnia” films, “Stardust”), Marton Csokas (“Lord of the Rings” films, “The Equalizer”), Ryan Eggold (“The Blacklist”, “90210”, “Bloom”), Henry Thomas (“E.T.”, “Gang of New York”, “Legends of the Fall”), Michael Raymond-James (“Jack Reacher”, “Black Snake Moan”, “The Finest Hours”), Rafe Spall (“Prometheus”, “Life of Pi”, “Shaun of the Dead”), Jason O’Mara (“Resident Evil: Extinction”, “One for the Money”), Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), Shane Taylor (“Band of Brothers”, “The Day of the Triffids”) and Emily Berrington (“The Inbetweeners 2”, “The Last Showing”).

The mini-series is a rough telling of the American revolutionary and focusing on Samuel Adams (portrayed by Ben Barnes), John Adams (portrayed by Henry Thomas), Benjamin Franklin (portrayed by Dean Norris), John Hancock (portrayed by Rafe Spall), Paul Revere (portrayed by Michael Raymond-James), George Washington (portrayed by Jason O’Mara) and British General Thomas Gage (portrayed by Marton Csokas).

The series begins in 1765 and showing how the colonies are living under British oppression.  As local gangs fight in Boston and Samuel Adams, a tax collector and pub owner is not paying his own taxes, the Crown puts a warrant out for his arrest. But when a young boy is killed during an altercation between the British loyalists and the Colonists, the conflict is further escalated when the Redcoats begin massacring colonists.

As the Colonist fight back and destroy 600,000 pounds of tea in the Boston Harbor in 1773, King George sends General Thomas Gage to Boston to restore balance.  But the Colonists are unaware of how much a tyrant General Gage truly is and are forced to fight back.  But can the Colonists succeed?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Texas Rising” is presented in 2:40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and “Sons of Liberty” is presented in 1:78:1 widescreen presentation and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio.

The film is presented in DVD format but for those who want the best picture quality, may want to seek out the Blu-ray release.  But on DVD, the picture quality is very good, as best as it can get on DVD.  Audio quality via its dialogue and sound effects (gunshots to explosions) are crystal clear through the front and surround channels.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Texas Rising” comes with the following special features (on the final disc of the mini-series):

  • Capturing the Revolution: Filming Texas Rising – (14:33) The making of “Texas Rising”.
  • Sam Houston: A Man of the Revolution – (13:57) A featurette on Sam Houston.  Actor Bill Paxton playing Sam Houston and how he is related to the real Sam Houston and more.
  • General Santa Anna: Leading Mexico – (12:19) A featurette about General Santa Anna.

“Sons of Liberty” comes with the following special features (on the final disc of the mini-series):

  • Lensing Liberty – (9:36) A featurette on the making of “Sons of Liberty” and how to incorporate many people and scenes.
  • Choreography of War – (9:08) A featurette on creating the battle scenes and special effects for “Sons of Liberty”.
  • Men of Independence – (16:31) A featurette on the historical figures featured on “Sons of Liberty”.

Having been a fan of History Channel re-enactments, in 2015, A&E/History Channel did a magnificent job in creating two mini-series from two different era’s in American history.

“Texas Rising” is possibly the most ambitious and most exciting miniseries from the network yet.  From a talented cast featuring a plethora of stars, the amount of different storylines featuring various characters running concurrently and everything from direction, writing, production and set design, costume design and of course, the acting lent to the success of the miniseries.

Epic in scale and so much featured in the various episodes of the miniseries, I was absolutely astonished by how well-done “Texas Rising” was created.

Featuring romance, tragedy, violence but also showing various perspectives from Sam Houston and his men, General Santa Anna and his soldiers and the many different characters and how their lives interwine among one another and capturing the despair but also the politics of that era.  It was a well-done miniseries!

“Sons of Liberty” is also a series featuring a lot of talent. Unlike “Texas Rising” which runs about 7 hours and 30 minutes, this series which focuses on Paul Revere, Sam Adams, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, George Washington and others, may run only 270 minutes but the writers did a wonderful job trying to tie everything together, although many scenes were inspired by the events of that time, it is not 100% historically accurate, as the writers aim were to incorporate a lot of these events into one.

But the storyline of the colonists under an oppressive British ruler and how the plans to create a nation separate from the British was actually quite fascinating to watch and there are characters and situations that I was not even aware about until I watched the series.

Similar to “Texas Rising”, the writing, the acting and production and costume design are well-done.  But could have probably have been better with several more episodes to build character dynamics and relationships than the few episodes featured.

As for the Blu-ray release, it’s important to emphasize that this release is only a DVD release but if you want the best picture quality, the Blu-ray release for both miniseries released in 2015 can still be found online.

Nevertheless, both History/A&E mini-series were entertaining, informative but also exciting!  Definitely one of the best re-enactments and historical mini-series to be featured by History, “Texas Rising/Sons of Liberty” Double Feature on DVD is recommended!

 

Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For “Power Rangers” fans who wants to take part in the Christmas spirit, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” is a DVD that I recommend for the young fans and also the young at heart!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2015

DURATION: 92 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: July 5, 2016


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


Join the Power Rangers on a quest for a new hero! Get set for dino-charged adventure and nonstop thrills as the Power Rangers discover their newest ally, the Purple Ranger! But when the Purple Ranger decides to leave the team, it will take all of the Power Rangers’ skills combined to battle the villainous Sledge – and find a new hero fit for the Purple Energem – in this action-packed collection that features the bonus episode, “Race to Rescue Christmas.”


With the holidays around the corner, fans of “Power Rangers: Dino Charger” will no doubt be looking forward to the release of the upcoming DVD titled “Hero” which comes with a special Christmas episode.

What is “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”?

In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television.

The 22nd season of the “Power Rangers” series, the series would star Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, and Claire Blackwelder.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Sledge continues to look for the Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems first and fight various enemies.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” features a total of 22 episodes, “Hero” is the fifth “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” DVD to be released and contains episodes 17-20 + the Christmas special.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero”:

  • Episode 17 – “World Famous (in New Zealand)” – The Power Rangers come in contact with a Purple Ranger.
  • Episode 18 – “Deep Down Under” –  Sledge is after the Plesio Zord…the Rangers must find it first!
  • Episode 19 – “Wishing for a Hero” – Kendall and the Rangers must find one who can bond with the Purple Energem.
  • Episode 20 – “One More Energem” – Sledge has two Energems and the Rangers and Kendall must find a way to defeat him.
  • Christmas Special – “Race to Rescue Christmas” – Poisandra steals Santa’s tablet and the Rangers must get it back to save Christmas.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” comes with a slip cover and HD UltraViolet code.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge” is rather interesting because of the dinosaur angle.

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince. Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action. As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

As for this DVD volume titled “Hero”, these episodes revolve around who can be the Purple Ranger.  And trying to stop Sledge, who has managed to get two Energems.

With this volume being a Christmas DVD release, included is a Christmas special which features scenes from past episodes, but most importantly, the Power Rangers trying to save Christmas by retrieving Santa’s stolen tablet.

While I wished there are more episodes than just the standard four, it does help to have the extra special included.   Fans of the series or parents of children who love “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”, will no doubt enjoy this DVD.

As for the DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features. Fortunately, an UltraViolet digital HD code was included.

Overall, for “Power Rangers” fans who wants to take part in the Christmas spirit, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Hero” is a DVD that I recommend for the young fans and also the young at heart!

 

Ancient Aliens: Season 9 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Anything is possible and there are so many unexplained things in our planet, let alone the entire galaxy and universe. If these unexplained mysteries interest you, then you will no doubt enjoy “Ancient Aliens”.

Image courtesy of © 2016 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Ancient Aliens: Season 9

AIR DATE: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 104-118 (15 Episodes total – 10 Hrs., 30 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4×3 Full Screen, 1:78:1 Presentation, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate/History/A&E Networks

RATED: N/A

Release Date: October 25, 2016


Directed by Susan E. Leventhal

Written by Kaylan Eggert, Eric Murphy,

Executive Producers: David Silver

Local Producer: Stanislav Solovkin

Archival Producer: Marianna Yarovskaya

Line Producer: Michelle Gorski

Music by Alex Khaskin

Edited by Eric Sievering


Starring:

Narration by Robert Clotworthy

Giorgio Tsoukalos

David Childress

Jonathan Young, Founding Curator Joseph Campbell Archives

Erich von Daniken

Jason Martell

George Noory

William Henry

David Wilcock

Michael Dennin

Mike Bara

Nick Redfern

Linda Moulton Howe

Richard Rader

Robert Bauval

Kathleen McGowan

Domic Steavu

Deepak Shimkhada

Hugh Newman

Ariel Bar Tzadok


Pyramids . . . hidden beneath the ice of Antarctica. Egyptian hieroglyphs of flying ships . . . carved on sandstone walls in Australia. As technology advances, scientists and archaeologists are making new, groundbreaking discoveries at an unprecedented rate. According to Ancient Astronaut theorists, these discoveries may reveal not only that extraterrestrials visited Earth in the distant past, but that they may still be among us today. On this season of Ancient Aliens® the search for answers strikes out into uncharted territory, examining the least explored corners of the Earth, the farthest reaches of space, and even the mysteries that lie within us.


In 2010, “Ancient Aliens” made its debut on the History Channel and now it’s on its ninth season.

A documentary style series which presents hypothesis of ancient astronauts and how historical texts, archaeology and legendary stories may contain evidence of past-human extraterrestrial contact.

The ninth season which aired from May – September 2016 features the following episodes:

  • Pyramids of Antarctica – Ancient astronaut theorists discuss the ice-covered structures on Antarctica and the Piri Reis Map.
  • Destination Mars – Could manned missions to Mars reveal an existence of extraterrestrial intervention?
  • The Next Humans – Could cybernetics or robots be the next step of human evolution?
  • The New Evidence – New evidence of extraterrestrials through the use of satellite, radar and thermal scanning.
  • The Visionaries – Could Steve Jobs, Srinivasa Ramanujan be subconsciously influenced by extraterrestrials.
  • Decoding the Cosmic Egg – The symbolic use of the egg as a symbol throughout cultures worldwide.
  • The Wisdom Keepers – Do the Aboriginal Australians have a connection with extraterrestrials via Dreamtime?
  • The Mysterious Nine – The recurrence of the number nine in religious, cultural, philosophical and occult materials.  Can it be connected to extaterrestrials?
  • The Hidden Empire – The possibility of a mysterious country of China that may contact extraterrestrial civilizations and materials.
  • The Prototypes – Did extraterrestrials influence or alter the development of the Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo floresiensis.
  • Space Station Moon – Experts and non-experts speculate that the moon may not be a natural celestial object.
  • Russia’s Secret Files – Were there otherworldly visitations that predate the establishment of the Russian nation?
  • Beyond Roswell – Did the FBI hide evidence of extraterrestrials after the Roswell UFO incident?
  • The Returned – About the alien abduction phenomenon and those who claim to be abducted and returned.
  • Shiva the Destroyer – Does the Hindu deity Shiva have a link to extraterrestrials and atomic energy?

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ancient Aliens: Season 9” is presented in widescreen (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, the series is well-edited with great use of modern to archived sourced footage, great use of visual effects and also for the most part, combined with modern interviews, picture quality looks good as one can expect for DVD.

As for audio, the series is presented in English 2.0 Dolby Digital audio and narration and interviews are clear and understandable.

The show is presented in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ancient Aliens: Season 9” comes with no special features.


During my college years, I used to work at a job doing data entry in the wee hours of the morning.  And I would often listen to AM radio for talk shows that aired late at night to early morning and would listen to Art Bell and other scientists and those involved in the field discussing extraterrestrials, government coverups, to other unexplained mysteries.

And I could see why many people would be interested in pseudoscience (a term or practice presented as scientific method.  Claims that are contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable).

But let’s take a look at season 9 of “Ancient Aliens”.  The first episode deals with pyramids that were found in Antarctica.  There is a fact that there are pyramids all over the world, but the question is why?  If pyramids are found in Antarctica, (others believe they are rock formations), does this prove a basis that life existed in Antarctica before it became frozen?

The episode brings up a 1513 map known as the Piri Reis map compiled by the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis.    The map shows with great accuracy the western coasts of Europe, North Africa and the coast of Brazil.  Including various islands.  But it has become a focus for pseudohistoric claims because it shows Antarctica.  Others feel this is not Antarctica and the map is not fully accurate because it utilized multiple maps and thus the locations were distorted.  I see things in both perspectives and episodes such as this is quite intriguing because I always see potential of what-if’s.

The “Destination Mars” episode is debatable and this goes into rock formations that people have seen in photos and are quick to say they are sculptures.  Scientists say rock formations, there are no human sculptures on Mars.  The debates go on and really, the only way these debates will ever stop is when we have the technology to have humans colonize the planet.

Which brings up the episode “The Next Humans” and while I understand the discussion of robots and the the concern of robots being the final step in human evolution, the part I found interesting is humans traveling and how the body changes with gravity, as we have seen with astronauts.  If people were affected by gravity, eyes getting bigger, heads growing longer, bodies becoming more elongated, that would be quite interesting and another topic that I found intriguing.

While episodes such as “The Visionaries” and saying Steven Jobs may be subconsciously influenced by extraterrestrials being a bit too farfetched.

I do find “The Wisdom Keepers” interesting about the Aboriginal Australians and Dreamtime and the stories passed down from their ancestors.

The episode titled “The Prototypes” is also very interesting as humans can not find a link to various Indian cultures and Europeans. There is a missing link.

The episode “Beyond Roswell” and “The Returned” are topics you often hear about.  That FBI hid evidence of extraterrestrials from the Roswell UFO incident and how science greatly changed after Roswell.  To the returned and the discussion of Betty and Barney Hill.

There are a lot of episodes featured in season nine that was really well-edited and goes into detail supporting a new perspective or various perspectives that is suggested, not made as fact but left for the viewer to come to their own conclusion.

Whether or not you believe each episode, it is quite intriguing to hear from theorists who really believe in such things, may it not be based on true scientific evidence but may it be art etched by ancestors in caves long ago, stories passed down from ancestors or discoveries with new modern technology but “Ancient Aliens” does a great job in presenting it and making viewers wonder if such perspectives, ideas are possible.

Anything is possible and there are so many unexplained things in our planet, let alone the entire galaxy and universe.

If these unexplained mysteries interest you, then you will no doubt enjoy “Ancient Aliens”.

 

Guilt: Season One (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Guilt” is a series that had potential to be an entertaining and captivating mystery drama series, but by trying to incorporate too much, the series ends up being too farfetched for its own good. “Guilt: Season One” is entertaining but a series with lost potential.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Guilt: Season One

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 10 Episodes (420 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: October 18, 2016


Created by Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price

Directed by Larry Shaw, Mairzee Almas, Gary Fleder, Elizabeth Allen Rosenblaum

Written by Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price, Tegan Shohet, Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, Shaina Fewell, Fredrick,Kotto, Bryan Q Miller, Nelson Soler, Elle Triedman

Produced by Suzanne Reid, Gideo Amir

Co-Producer: Shaina Fewell, Kari Hobson, Gerry Gavigan

Executive Produced by Stephen McPherson, Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price, Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer

Co-Executive Producer: Elle Triedman, Ildiko Kemeny, David Minkowski

Music by Daniel Licht

Cinematography by Theo van de Sande

Edited by Anthony Pinker, Kevin hale, Jason Hellmann

Production Design by Laszlo Rajk

Art Direction by Monika Esztan

Set Decoration by Rebecca Gillies

Costume Design by Sam Perry, Peggy Stamper


Starring:

Daisy Head as Grace Atwood

Emily Tremaine as Natalie Atwood

Cristian Solimeno as Detective Sergeant Alex Bruno

Naomi Ryan as Gwendolyn Hall

Simona Brown as Roz Walters

Zachary Fall as Luc Pascal

Kevin Ryan as Patrick Ryan

Sam Cassidy as Prince Theo

Billy Zane as Stan Gutterie

Robbie Gee as DCI Pike

Amber Jean Rowan as Kaley


When a young woman is brutally murdered in her London flat, the search for her killer leads to scandal and intrigue stretching all the way from underground sex clubs to the highest levels of the Royal family.


In June 2016, the first season of “Guilt”, a British/American mystery drama aired on Freeform.

Created by Kathryn Price (“The Game Plan”, “The Mole”, “Fallen”) and Nichole Millard (“The Game Plan”, “Fallen”), the series stars Daisy Head (“The Last Seven”, “Underworld: Blood Wars”, “When Calls the Heart”), Emily Tremaine (“Vinyl”, “The Blacklist”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”), Cristian Solimeno (“Rush”, “Mother of Tears”, “Highlander: The Source”), Naomi Ryan (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Honeytrap”, “Mile High”), Simona Brown (“Man Up”, “Murdered by My Boyfriend”, “The Night Manager”), Zachary Fall (“Allies”, “Margo Learns French”), Kevin Ryan (“Copper”, “Laredo”, “Paddy’s in the Boot”), Sam Cassidy (“Yeti”, “Stella”) and Billy Zane (“Titanic”, “Back to the Future” films, “The Phantom”).

And now “Guilt: Season One” will be available on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

The series begins with Grace Atwood (portrayed by Daisy Head), an American student in London and her roommate Molly Ryan (portrayed by Rebekah Wainwright) having a party at their flat.

While Grace is with her boyfriend Luc Pascal (portrayed by Zachary Fall), Molly is drunk and enters her room and is murdered.

The following day, Grace, Luc and her other roommate Roz Walters (portrayed by Simona Brown) discover the body of Molly. Immediately, Grace and Luc become the prime suspects.

We are then introduced to Boston-based Assistant Direct Attorney Natalie Atwood (portrayed by Emily Tremaine) who is brilliant at her job.  She receives a call about her sister and leaves to London immediately.

Pursuing the case is D.S. Alex Bruno (portrayed by Cristian Solimeno) who is the lead investigator, along with crown prosecutor Gwendolyn Hall (portrayed by Naomi Ryan) who are trying to find out if Grace and Luc killed Molly.

When Natalie arrives in London, she knows that Grace can’t possibly murder anyone.  But when media and lawyers unearth video footage of Grace’s past, her affair and her argument/fight with Molly, Natalie tries to keep the faith that Grace didn’t, but Grace’s actions make her seem guilty.

Meanwhile, Grace and Natalie’s father James (portrayed by Anthony Head) has hired notorious lawyer Stan Gutterie (portrayed by Billy Zane) to represent Grace.

Also, Molly’s older brother Patrick Ryan (portrayed by Kevin Ryan) wants retribution for Molly’s death and Prince Theo, a member of the British Royal Family may have a connection with Molly.

As the media start to point the finger at Grace, can Natalie and investigators find a way to prove that Molly is innocent.

Who really murdered Molly?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Guilt: Season One” is presented in 1:78:1 widescreen presentation and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD.  The series features crystal clear dialogue and music and surround channels are primarily for ambiance.

Subtitles are in English SDH..

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Guilt: Season One” comes the following special features:

  • “Guilt”: Sex, Sin & Scandal – (8:13) The themes for “Guilt”, featuring interviews with cast and crew.
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:48) featuring deleted scenes from the series.

EXTRAS:

“Guilt: Season One” comes an UltraViolet digital code.


Upon watching the first episode of “Guilt”, one may find themselves thinking of the Amanda Knox case and the death of Meredith Kercher.

But as the show progresses, “Guilt” becomes a series that involves conspiracies, royalty, family out for revenge, a media circus, crooked lawyers, bad parenting, and a convoluted story of too much deviations from the original plot, many characters while trying to remain hip and cool for the audience.

While the series takes a long time to answer the question of “Who is responsible for a major murder?”.

As the series starts off with pointing the finger on Grace Atwood, the problem is that the story gets away from that plot and tries to introduce others that may be involved and one of the primary characters, Boston-based assistant D.A., Natalie sees her role minimized unfortunately due to writers wanting to incorporate other key players.

Also, another problem is that the character Grace is hardheaded and does so many ridiculous things that writers tried to incorporate characters that have their own problematic issues that the storyline strays away too much for its own good.

I lost faith in Grace’s character (and other characters) by the end of the series, so much that I didn’t care if she was guilty or not.  And focusing on characters Natalie Atwood (portrayed by Emily Tremaine), detective sergeant Alex Bruno (portrayed by Cristian Solimeno) or even Stan Gutterie (portrayed Billy Zane) would have made a more interesting storyline, but then it would be a bit banal and too similar to American mystery drama series.

Overall, “Guilt” is a series that had potential to be an entertaining and captivating mystery drama series, but by trying to incorporate too much, the series ends up being too farfetched for its own good.

“Guilt: Season One” is entertaining but a series with lost potential.


 

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If Frank Zappa’s legacy is going to extend through the next generation of music fans, one would hope that this documentary reaches out to existing, the new, the curious and those who are open to discovering Frank’s music. “Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Les Films Du Poisson, UFA Fiction, ARTE France and SWR. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Eat That Question

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 93 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:33:1 Full Screen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Language, Some Sexual References and Brief Nudity)

AVAILABLE ON: September 27, 2016


Directed by Thorsten Schutte

Written by Lorene Scafaria

Produced by Estelle Fialon

Co-Producer: Arte France, Jochen Laube

Executive Produced by Thorsten Schutte, Ahmet Zappa, Gail Zappa

Associate Producer: Markus Brunnemann, yael Fogiel, Laetitia Gonzalez, Nico Hofmann, Joachim Kosack

Cinematography by Brett Pawlak

Edited by Willibald Wonneberger


Starring:

Frank Zappa

Gail Zappa

Steve Allen

Angel

Chuck Ash

Arthur Barrow

Adrian Belew

Theodore Bukel

Jimmy Carl Buck

Pierre Boulez

Thomas Braden

Napoleon Murphy Broc

Tom Brokaw

Wally Bruner

Paul Carman

Del Casher

Connie Chung

Vinnie Colaiuta

Katie Couric

Robin Denselow

Mike Douglas

George Duke


Told solely through rare and never before seen historic footage of Frank Zappa’s highly acclaimed 30-year career, this unique 90 minute documentary is an energetic celebration of an often outspoken and brilliant musician. Unforgettable Zappa interviews and performances from one of rock and roll’s most legendary self-taught musicians have been painstakingly gathered across decades by director THORSTEN SCHÜTTE from the obscure vaults of TV stations around the world to create this unparalleled look at one of the brightest minds popular music has ever witnessed.


Frank Zappa, the American musician and songwriter who created lyrics which reflected his iconoclastic views of the social and political establishment and was quick to challenge politicians as an advocate for the freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship.

Considering the fact that he was counterculture and was against the music industry, he was a highly productive music artist and was respected for his ability to not be controlled by the music industry, worked as an independent artist for the majority of his career and did things on his own.

Voted by “Rolling Stone Magazine” as one of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” (voted #71) and “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (22), Frank Zappa is well-respected not just by admirers in the United States but found commercial success in Europe.

In 2016, filmmaker Thorsten Schutte would create a film to pay respect to Frank Zappa and his highly acclaimed 30-year career with his documentary “Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words”.

Featuring a culmination of interviews, rare footage, archived news and television performances, concert footage and more, Schutte’s film is a wonderful collage showcasing the musical oeuvre and also the philosophy of one of the greatest music artists, musicians, producers despite that had his supporters but also detractors for his outspoken brilliance.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words” is presented in 1:33:1 and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The documentary is a culmination of archived interviews, concert performances, television appearances and more.  So, while archived sources vary depending on the scene, for the most part, picture quality is good and audio which also comes from various archived sources, is very good.

Subtitles are in English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words” comes with a theatrical trailer.


When it comes to Frank Zappa, while I discovered his music thanks to “Valley Girl” in the ’80s, I discovered more of his philosophy and his music through following the music of his son Dweezil Zappa and seeing Dweezel and Moon Unit on MTV and then also following Ahmet Zappa later on.

But what led me to Frank Zappa’s music is the Los Angeles radio station, KROQ.  Where I listened to a lot of alternative rock music and Frank Zappa’s music would be played on the station throughout the ’80s and early ’90s.

But while a lot of us who saw Frank Zappa on television was mostly about music censorship, which he was vehemently against, I’ve always wanted to know more about Frank Zappa beyond what one can find on YouTube and this is where Thorsten Schutte’s documentary, “Eat that Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words” does remarkably and that is creating a timeline but also a context of Frank Zappa showcasing his music, his philosophy, his feelings towards commercial success up to his final TV interview before his death.

And what we have is a fantastic documentary that really show us how bold, how intelligent and how brilliant Frank Zappa really was.

While I am very proud of what Thorsten Schutte was able to accomplish with this film, I hope its brilliance is not overshadowed by the drama (or here) that is ongoing between the Zappa brothers.  Watching this documentary, I can only picture in my mind of how Frank Zappa would react to what’s going on with his family right now and its unfortunate.

If Frank Zappa’s legacy is going to extend through the next generation of music fans, one would hope that this documentary reaches out to existing, the new, the curious and those who are open to discovering Frank’s music.

“Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words” is highly recommended!


 

Sherpa (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Jennifer Peedom’s “Sherpa” is an insightful and wonderful documentary on Sherpa culture, big business, high tension, unfortunate tragedy but also hope for changes in the system after the avalanche tragedy of 2014. “Sherpa” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Felix Media Ply Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Sherpa

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 96 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen 2:35:1 aspect ratio, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: N/A

Release Date: October 11, 2016


Directed by Jennifer Peedom

Written by Jennifer Peedom

Produced by Bridget Ikin, John Smithson

Executive Producer: John Maynard, David Griffin, David Gross

Music by Antony Partos

Cinematography by Renan Ozturk, Hugh Miller, Ken Sauls

Edited by Christian Gazal


Every year, Western mountain climbers make news ascending Mount Everest. But the compelling stories of the Sherpas, the Nepalese guides who risk their lives to provide for their families, have gone untold — until now. SHERPA chronicles a fateful 2014 expedition and the tragic avalanche that spurred the Sherpas to make a stand for human rights and respect. SHERPA will forever change the way you look at the world’s most famous mountain — and the brave guides who navigate it.


Sherpa.  They are an ethnic group in eastern Nepal and are the guides that have helped climbers accomplish their Mount Everest expeditions.

The importance of the Sherpa people as guides have been well-documented on film, including the 1924 J.B.L. Noel documentary “The Epic of Everest” about English mountaineers Andrew Irvine and George Mallory to Eric Valli’s documentary “Himalaya” about the life of villagers in the area.

We know that life is difficult, making money is difficult in Nepal.  But while many large expeditions every year on Mount Everest has led to multi-million dollar industry, the government makes the money, while the Sherpa risk their lives by being guides to those on an expedition.

In 2013, the Serpa people showed how they were not subservient people to the foreigners as a fight had broken out.  But what one would not expected is the deadly 2014 expedition due to a tragic avalanche and what came after the fatal expedition.

Documenting events that have happened in the area from 2013-2014, filmmaker Jennifer Peedom and her film crew were there to document the expeditions of 2013 and 2014 for her 2015 film, “Sherpa”.

“Sherpa” is a film that follows Phurba Tashi, a Sherpa who has made 21 Mount Everest ascents and is trying to go for the world record.  His family dislikes Phurba taking on this risky job, fearing that he will never come back, but Phurba enjoys it and feels its the only way to make good money.

His latest job is for New Zealand’s Russel Brice who runs one of the more reputable expedition company’s for Mt. Everest, Himex.

Phurba gathers a team of Sherpas to take these foreign climbers up Mt. Everest, but what they are not aware or prepared for is a major ice avalanche which would kill over a dozen Sherpas.

As Brice and his crew feel the expedition must go-on and feels that mountaineering has its risks, for business, he wants to continue with the expedition.

Meanwhile, after the deaths of their own people, the Sherpas stage a protest and in solidarity, want to hit back at the government for their unfair treatment of Sherpa guides who hardly make money versus the government who are pocketing millions from these expeditions.

Will this expedition continue?  Or will there be a resolution among the Sherpa people and their government?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sherpa” is presented in 16:9 anamorphic (2:35:1 aspect ratio) and English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD. The film is primarily dialogue driven.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear.

If anything, I wish this documentary was released on Blu-ray!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sherpa” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Sherpa – (11:49) Interviews with filmmaker Jennifer Peedom and her film crew especially filming a traumatic moment.
  • Deleted Scenes

EXTRAS:

“Sherpa” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital code.


I have watched films, read many articles about the importance of the Sherpa guides in expeditions to Mount Everest.

From the 1924 J.B.L. Noel documentary “The Epic of Everest” about English mountaineers Andrew Irvine and George Mallory which was the first film to document an expedition to Mount Everest, the film would feature a major tragedy.

Fastforward to 2016 and Jennifer Peedom’s “Sherpa” not only shows us how expeditions have become big business in Nepal and tensions have grown between westerners and Sherpa.  Peedom’s crew wanted to document this and what she got was more than she expected, with the tragic avalanche of 2014.

Far often, what we read are the challenges of climbing Mount Everest.  The challenges of altitude and finding experienced Sherpas.

But while we have read the communal respect of climbers and the Sherpa, things changed in 2013, which had been detailed in various news sources and publications (read this interview from National Geographic).  And situations became hostile, as customs and miscommunication reared its ugly head.

While, “Sherpa” goes into that and the avalanche tragedy of 2014, this is not a film about how much of a mess things have become due to commercialization and money.  But filmmaker Jennifer Peedom also goes into detail of showing us Nepal culture but paying respect to people such as Tenzing Norgay, one of the first two individuals to reach the summit of Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary.  And also, now retired, Sherpa mountaineer Phurba Tashi Sherpa Mendewa (who was featured in the 2009 Discovery Channel series, “Everest: Beyond the Limit”) and learning of the challenges he faces as a father, who’s family wants him to quit being a mountaineer.  But also knowing that when it comes to being a Sherpa guide, it’s the only job that pays well.

The film also features Russel Brice, owner of Himex guide firm responsible for organizing expeditions to Mount Everest.  And the challenges he feels as the middleman of having to work with the Sherpa, especially after the 2014 tragedy and within days, knowing the troubles that surround the Sherpa as many want to continue with the expedition, but were threatened by other Sherpa that if they do so, they would be beaten.

It’s obvious that watching “Sherpa”, there has been lingering tensions as the need of Sherpa guides have grown exponentially and has been a huge business for organizers of expeditions and the Nepal government.  Because of the big money involved, there is a lot of competition, a lot of anger and tensions over lack of pay, lack of government willingness to pay compensation to victims families.

So much has changed and I never knew the extent of tensions and how competitive things are until I watched this documentary.  And the thing is, you can put yourself in the shoes of the Sherpa, Phurba Tashi, Russel Brice or his clients and you can understand what they are going through.

The Sherpa guides are doing a high risk business where there are a number of casualties and they know how much each client pays to be part of an expedition (as of 2016, the estimated range is $60,000 – You can see a financial breakdown here.).  Phurba Tashi is a man who wants to provide for his family and has a passion for the mountains. Russel Brice is a man with a business and his business survives on expeditions but having to please both the Sherpas and his clients.  And the clients, for many, Mount Everest is their dream.  Many save up and sacrifice their job, leave their families for two months to pursue this expensive dream.

You can read about the tensions, but nothing really compares to when you see the tensions up front and Jennifer Peedom’s “Sherpa” does a magnificent job of showing us how bad things have gotten in 2013 and 2014.  To make matters worse, in April 2015 was the Nepal Earthquake which killed 9,000 people and injured 22,000.  On Mount Everest, the earthquake would trigger an avalanche that would kill 21.  And to this day, aftershocks in different areas of Nepal have continued.

While how things will go for Mount Everest Expeditions from 2016 and on, no one knows.  But there are obvious issues that have been slowly burning, almost similar to a situation of gentrification in inner cities, between the haves and have nots, things are much more complicated as exhibition organizers want to build a business but work with the Sherpa and their clients.  Clients want to accomplish a dream of climbing Mount Everest and while the government pockets from these expeditions and more Sherpa guides are wanted, thus bringing a new and unknown set of people without experience into the mix, it’s hard to not think that while tensions were elevated in 2013, there is a boiling point that has not yet been fully reached.

And that can be scary.

Overall, Jennifer Peedom’s “Sherpa” is an insightful and wonderful documentary on Sherpa culture, big business, high tension, unfortunate tragedy but also hope for changes in the system after the avalanche tragedy of 2014.

“Sherpa” is recommended!

 

 

Next Page »

Bottom