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

August 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

blacklist

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

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

TITLE: Blacklist: The Complete First Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2014

DURATION: 22 Episodes (939 Minutes)

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

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: August 12, 2014

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

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

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

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

Executive Producer: Tristram Shapeero, Jaes Fino, Joe Russo

Co-Executive Producer: Erik Sommers

Associate Producer: Andres Anglade

Consulting Producer: Adam Countee

Music by Ludwig Goransson

Cinematography by Gary Hatfield

Edited by Christian Kinnard, Luke Guidici

Casting by Josh Einsohn

Production Design by Denise Pizzini

Set Decoration by Denise Pizzini

Art Diretion by John B. Vertrees

Costume Design by Sabrina Rosen

Starring:

James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington

Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen

Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler

Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen

Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper

Parminder Nagra as Agent Meera Malik

Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe

Amir Arison as Aram Mjtabai

Debora S. Craig as Luli

Rachel Brosnahan as Jolene

Alan Alda as Fitch

Charles Baker as Grey

Jane Alexander as Diane Flower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main characters of “Blacklist” are:

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Blacklist: The Complete First Season” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Picture quality on DVD is very good as the series is broken up in five discs with 4-5 episodes each.  It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray release is the version to purchase.  But on DVD, picture quality is good and I didn’t see any major problems with artifacts.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

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

DISC 2:

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

DISC 3:

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

DISC 4:

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

DISC 5:

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

August 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

itfeltlikelove

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

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

DVD TITLE: It Felt Like Love

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 82 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2014

Written and Directed by Eliza Hittman

Executive Producer: Tyler Brodie, Hunter Gray, Gill holland

Producer: Eliza Hittman, Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner

Associate Producer: Molly Gandour

Cinematography by Sean Porter

Edited by Scott Cummings, Carlos Marques-Marcet

Casting by Henry Russell Bergstein

Production Design by Sarah Maiorino

Starring:

Gina Piersanti as Lila

Giovanni Salimeni as Chiara

Ronen Rubinstein as Sammy

Jesse Cordasco as Patrick

Nick Rosen as Devon

Richi Folio as Justin

Case Prime as Nate

Kevin Anthony Ryan as Lila’s Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

August 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

community-s5

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

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

TITLE: Community – The Complete Fifth Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2014

DURATION: 13 Episodes (278 Minutes)

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

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: August 5, 2014

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

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

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

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

Executive Producer: Tristram Shapeero, Jaes Fino, Joe Russo

Co-Executive Producer: Erik Sommers

Associate Producer: Andres Anglade

Consulting Producer: Adam Countee

Music by Ludwig Goransson

Cinematography by Gary Hatfield

Edited by Christian Kinnard, Luke Guidici

Casting by Josh Einsohn

Production Design by Denise Pizzini

Set Decoration by Denise Pizzini

Art Diretion by John B. Vertrees

Costume Design by Sabrina Rosen

Starring:

Joel McHale as Jeff Winger

Gillian Jacobs as Britta Perry

Danny Pudi as Abed Nadir

Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley Bennett

Alison Brie as Annie Edison

Donald Glober as Troy Barnes

Ken Jeong as Senor Chang

Jim Rash as Dean Pelton

Richard Erdman as Leonard

Dino Stamatoupoulos as Star Burns

Erik Charles Nielsen as Garrett Lambert

John Oliver as Professor Ian Duncan

Danielle Kaplowitz as Vicki

Luke Youngblood as Magnitude

Charley Koontz as Neil

Jonathan Banks as Professor Hickey

Dominik Musiol as Pavel

Jeremy Scott Johnson as Carl

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

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

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

What is “Community”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main characters of “Community” are:

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

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

 

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

Subtitles are presented in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

DISC 1:

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

DISC 2:

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

July 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

transformers-cybertron

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


DVD TITLE: Transformers Cyberton: The Complete Series

SERIES AIR DATE: 2005

DURATION: 52 Episodes (19 3/4 hours)

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

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

AVAILABLE ON AUGUST 5, 2014

DIRECTOR: Manabu Ono, Hiroyuki Kakudo

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

Executive Producer as Steve Drucker, Joshua Izzo

Animation Producer: Fumi Saitoh

Line Producer: Jyunichi Takagi

Consulting Producer: Shiiki Ryuta, Azuma Tani

Featuring the voices of:

Garry Chalk as Optimus Prime

Sarah Edmondson as Lori

Sam Vincent as Coby

Richard Newman as Vector Prime

Kirby Morrow as Hot Shot

Brian Dobson as Red Alert

Lisa Ann Beley as Override

Michael Daingerfield as Quickmix

Scott McNeil as Snarl

Brian Drummond as Jetfire

Paul Dobson as Landmine

Richard Ian Cox as Scattorshot

Mark Acheson as Crumplezone

Louis Chirillo as Ransack

Michael Dobson as Brakedown

Mark Oliver as Thundercracker

Trevor Devall as Scourge

Maryke Hendrikse as Thunderblast

David Kaye as Galvatron

Ryan Hirakida as Bud

Ted Cole as Sideways

Colin Murdock as Wing Saber

Dale Wilson as Mudflap

Tabitha St. Germain as Professor Lucy Suzuki

The Conclusion Of The Unicron Trilogy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

theprettyone

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

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

TITLE: The Pretty One

RELEASE OF MOVIE: 2013

DURATION: 95 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Language and some Sexual Content)

RELEASED: June 3, 2014

Directed by Jenee LaMarque

Written by Jenee LaMarque

Produced by Steven J. Berger, Robin Schorr

Co-Producer: David Szamet

Co-Executive Producer: Alan Pao

Music by Julian Wass

Cinematography by Polly Morgan

Edited by Kiran Pallegadda

Casting by Lindsay Graham, Mary Vernieu

Production Design by Anne Costa

Art Directon by Brittany Bradford

Costume Design by Emily Batson

Starring:

Zoe Kazan as Laurel/Audrey

Jake Johnson as Basel

Ron Livingston as Charles

Frances Shaw as Claudia

Jeremy Howard as James

Sterling Beaumon as Hunter

Danny Pudi as Dr. Rao

Sabrina Lloyd as Edith

John Carroll Lynch as Frank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Pretty One” comes with one special feature:

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

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

That’s the good news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

July 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

narutoshippuden-19

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

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

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

DURATION: Episodes 232-244 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Bilingual (Japanese & English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shonen Jump/Viz Media

RATED: Rated T for Older Teen

Release Date: July 8, 2014

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Series Directed by Hayato Date

Produced by Tomoko Gushima, Ken Hagino

Series Coordinator by Junki Takegami, Satoru Nishizono

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio, Hirofumi Suzuki

Music by Yasuharu Takanishi, Yaiba

Music Production by Aniplex

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

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

Hideo Ishikawa/Crispin Freeman as Itachi Uchiha

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Troy Baker as Pain

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Kujira/Steven Blum as Orochimaru

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade/Fifth Hokage

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Nobutoshi Canna/Henry Dittman as Kabuto Yakushi

Rikiya Koyama/Troy Baker as Yamato

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yasuyuki Kase/Michael Lindsay as Kankurou

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19 – Original & Uncut”.

What is “Naruto”?

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

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

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

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

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

What is “Naruto Shippuden”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Naruto Shippuden” is an anime series that was never known for having spectacular background art, but it’s know for its action and its characters and how it captures emotion and its intense battles. While in this episode, a lot of episodes are contained in areas near lush green trees, water or dirt, it’s not so much of the background but how the characters are design and how well the battles are portrayed. And I can easily say that with “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 19- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

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

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

narutoshippuden-19b

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

PrisonersOfWar-s1

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

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

TITLE: Prisoners of War: Season One

RELEASE OF TV SERIES: 2009

DURATION: 13 Episodes (530 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen, Hebrew with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shout Factory!

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASED: July 8, 2014

Directed by Gideon Raff

Written by Gideon Raff

Produced by Liat Benasuly

Cinematography by Itai Ne’eman

Edited by Simon Herman

Casting by Hila Yuval

Starring:

Gal Zaid as Haim

Yael Eitan as Dana

Salim Dau as Jamal

Sendi Bar as Iris

Hadar Ratzon Rotem as Leila Qasab

Mili Avital as Nurit Halevi-Zach

Assi Cohen as Amiel Ben-Horin

Adi Ezroni as Yael Ben-Horin

Ishai Golan as Uri Zach

Yoram Toledano as Nimrod Klein

Guy Selnik as Hatzav

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Prisoners of War” revolves around three families.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highly recommended!

 

 

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

July 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

helix

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

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

TITLE: Helix: Season 1

RELEASE OF TV SERIES: 2014

DURATION: 13 Episodes (531 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASED: July 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

Produced by Sandrine Gros d’Aillon

Co-Producer: Misha Green

Associate Producer: Stephen Welke

Music by Reinhold Heil

Cinematography by Stephen McNutt

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

Production Design by Guy Lalande

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

Set Decoration by Suzanne Cloutier, Ginette Robitaille

Costume Design by Mariane Carter

Starring:

Billy Campbell as Dr. Alan Farragut

Hiroyuki Sanada as Dr. Hiroshi Hatake

Kyra Zagorsky as Dr. Julia Walker

Mark Ghanime as Major Sergio Balleseros

Jordan Hayes as Dr. Sarah Jordan

Meegwun Fairbrother as Daniel Aerov

Neil Napier as Dr. Peter Farragut

Luciana Carro as Anana

Chimwemwe Miller as Dr. Haven

Catherine Lemieux as Dr. Doreen Boyle

Amber Goldfarb as Jaye

Patrick Baby as Dr. Philippe Duchampe

Robert Naylor as the Scythe

Christian Jadah as Dr. Victor Adrian

Alain Goulem as Bryce

Alexander Ordolis as Blake

Jeri Ryan as Constance Sutton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

What if that created virus could end up destroying humanity?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

tmnt-casey

A lot of humor, fun and action-packed battles as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Slash, Casey Jones and the revelation of April O’Neil’s past! “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones” features seven episodes from season 2! Recommended for the older fans and the young at heart! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2013-2014

DURATION: (7 episodes) 133 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: July 2014

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

Jason Biggs 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

Casey Jones Steps Up and takes on pure evil.  Meanwhile, the Turtles learn a shocking secret about April’s past, and they come face-to-face with another mutant turtle called Slash, a rewired metalhead, a fungus mutant spreading throughout the sewers and the Rat King!

What happens when Raphael’s pet turtle drinks mutagen?  What happens when neighborhood hero, Casey Jones, looks at the turtles as enemies?  And April O’Neil’s past revealed!

And which enemy of the Turtles makes his return?

Find out in the latest seven episodes from the second 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 48-episodes were made and the second season is currently airing on Nickelodeon. And now episodes 33-38 will be released on DVD courtesy of Nickelodeon.

Included in “Mutagen Mayhem” are episodes 27-32. The following are spoilerless summaries:

  • EPISODE 33: Slash and Destroy - What happens when Raphael’s pet turtle Spike drinks some mutagen?
  • EPISODE 34: The Good, the Bad, and Casey Jones – Casey Jones wants to protect the neighborhood from all ninjas, including the Turtles.
  • EPISODE 35: The Kraang Conspiracy – The past of April O’Neil revealed!
  • EPISODE 36: Fungus Humungous – What happens when mutated sentient mushrooms start to spread throughout the sewers?
  • EPISODE 37: Metalhead Rewired - What happens when Donatello upgrades Metalhead’s A.I.?
  • EPISODE 38: Of Rats and Men - The Rat King returns and Splinter fears of what will happen if he is controlled by the Rat King once again.

VIDEO & AUDIO

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones” 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 – The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones” comes with the following special features:

  • The Mutation of a Scene – (36:57) A look between the storyboard animatic, primary animation and final render of a scene from the following seven episodes.
  • Meet Casey Jones – (2:50) A short featurette with producers discussing the character of Casey Jones.

With the latest volume of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (the 2012, third animated series), we get to see characters that were featured in the original series.

The storylines have changed but we get to see Raphael’s turtle named Spike turn into the mutated enemy known as Slash.  While the original was more of a “Hulk Smash” type character, for the 2012 series, the character of Slash makes sense as he was there to often hear Raphael complain and rant about his brothers and also learn how to fight by watching the Turtles spar with each other.  But it helped develop his hatred towards the Turtles.

What’s interesting about the Slash character is that his voice is provided by Corey Feldman, who played Donatello in the live action films.

The series also features the return of Metalhead.  In this series, Metalhead was created by Donatello from a salvaged Kraang droid, while in the original series, he is a robot with an identity disorder.  But it’s interesting to see the change of Metalhead for this latest series, as he is more of a Droid that becomes an asset to the Turtles.

But the biggest difference that people will find in this series is the character of April O’Neil.  From the reporter of the original series, she is now the teenage daughter of scientist Dr. Kirby O’Neil and like the Turtles, she loves video games, pizza and learning on how to become a ninja.  But we learn more about this special spirituality sensitivity she has and why.

And to conclude this volume is the return of one of the Turtles toughest enemies, the Rat King.  So, suffice to say, this sets up another dose of Rat King episodes in the future.

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 Shredder. 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.

And also, I enjoy how this series utilizes notable celebrities to do the voicework for the series. From Sean Astin, Jason Biggs and Kelly Hu, 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.

This time around, I watched the series with my eleven-year-old. He was just born when the 2003 series was featured on television but at three or four, I began introducing him to the original series and also the 2003 version. And he also had a chance to watch the 1997 live action version as well.

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, Karai and Casey Jones have changed a bit, this alternate version of these characters are very cool and the new generation of fans will surely enjoy this series.

Picture and audio quality are good on DVD and you get animated comic books plus more “Mutation of a Scene” shorts for each of the seven episodes featured on this DVD.

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 – The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones” is a fun, action-packed series for today’s generation of young viewers.


 

The Boondocks: The Complete Fourth Season – Uncut & Uncensored (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

boondocks

“The Boondocks: The Complete Fourth Season – Uncut & Uncensored” features the final season of the animated series.  Obviously missing series creator Aaron McGruder and focusing on Granddad primarily for this season, it seemed like a different type of show than what we have been used to, for the last three seasons.  But the season does get provocative and crazy and for that, I can recommend this series for hardcore fans of “The Boondocks”.

Image courtesy of: © 2014 Adelaide Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: The Boondocks: The Complete Fourth Season – Uncut & Uncensored

DURATION: 10 Episodes (225 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: June 10, 2014

Created by Aaron McGruder

Written by Rodney Barnes

Co-Executive Producer: Rodney Barnes, Brian J. Cowan

Consulting Producer: Meghann Collins

Music by Jonathan Jackson and Jabril Battle

Featuring the voices of:

Regina King as Huey and Riley Freeman

John Witherspoon as Robert “Grandad” Freeman

Cedric Yarbrough as Tom Dubois

Gary Anthony Williams as Uncle Ruckus

Gabby Soleil as Jazmine Dubois

Jill Talley as Sarah Dubois

At long last, “The Boondocks” is back in the uncut, uncensored, unpredictable final season of the controversial award-winning animated series.  Grandad, Huey and Rile find themselves neck deep in all new kinds of trouble as money woes lead to desperate measures.  From breaking bad in an RV chem-lab to senior citizen streetfights, times have never been wilder in the sleepy suburbs of woodcrest.

Since 1996, Aaron MacGruder’s syndicated comic strip “The Boondocks” has entertained readers.

From its first days at the University of Maryland, College Park, to receiving an animated adaptation in 2005 for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, the characters of Huey, Riley and Robert Jebediah “Granddad” Freeman has been a controversial series in print and animated format for its observance of racial and socio-economic issues and it’s in your face nature with its humor.

With Aaron MacGruder’s participation with the animated series since it’s beginning, “The Boondocks” was an animated series that would air every two years, but after the third season which ended in 2010, rumors ran rampant online of whether or not “The Boondocks” animated series would continue.

In 2014, the Cartoon Network would give “The Boondocks” its final season but series creator, Aaron MacGruder would not be involved with the fourth season.

The season would air from April through June 2014 and now, “The Boondocks: The Complete Fourth Season – Uncut & Uncensored” was released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Boondocks” revolves around the Freeman family which consists of:

  • Huey Freeman – The intelligent member of the family.  Has his values and goals set high and is often promoting social causes and critical of African-American pop culture.  He also can fight.
  • Riley Freeman – Unlike his brother, Riley is not intelligent and a follower of contemporary African-American pop culture.  He loves gangsta rap and is often in trouble or says something critical about Riley.
  • Robert Jebediah “Granddad” Freeman – The grandfather and legal guardian of Huey and Riley.  He is always interested in finding ways to be with crazy, sexy women.
  • Tom DuBois – A District Attorney who the Freeman’s see as someone who is weak and sensitive.  He is a stereotype of a Black man who behaves like a white-collar Caucasian man and is married to a white woman named Sarah and has a daughter named Jazmine.
  • Uncle Ruckus – Often the main antagonist to Granddad.  He supports the old black-slave culture and believes Black people should have the views of white racists.

The final season consists of the following 10 episodes (with spoiler-less summary):

  • EPISODE 46 – “Pretty Boy Flizzy” – R&B artist Pretty Boy Flizzy is arrested in an armed robbery and DA Tom DuBois must be his lawyer.
  • EPISODE 47 – “Good Times” – What happens when Granddad has to break it to his grandsons that they are broke.
  • EPISODE 48 – “Breaking Granddad” – A homage to “Breaking Bad”, the Freemans are on the run from salon owner, Boss Willona.
  • EPISODE 49 – “Early Bird Special” – Granddad becomes a prostitute for lonely women at a nursing home.
  • EPISODE 50 – “Freedom Ride or Die” – A flashback episode of a younger Robert who is a freedom rider.
  • EPISODE 51 – “Granddad Dates a Kardashian” – Granddad dates the long-lost Kardashian sister, Kardashia.
  • EPISODE 52 – “Freedomland” – In order to help Granddad with finances, the Freeman’s work at Ed Euncler Jr.’s slavery amusement park.
  • EPISODE 53 -  “I Dream of Siri” – What happens when Granddad buys an iphone and Siri becomes obsessed with him.
  • EPISODE 54 – “Stinkmeaner: Begun the Clone War Has” – A video of Colonel H. Stinkmeaner fighting with Grandad goes viral.
  • EPISODE 55 – “The New Black” – Riley gets in trouble for using the words “gay” and “retarded” at school.

 

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Boondocks: The Complete Fourth Season – Uncut & Uncensored” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen.  Colors are vibrant for teh animation.  Characters are well-drawn, well-shaded and for the most part, looks very good on DVD.  I didn’t notice any major banding or artifact issues.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Dialogue is crystal clear and for the most part, the dialogue is front-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The special features on this “The Boondocks: The Complete Fourth Season – Uncut & Uncensored” are:

  • Boondocks Beats - (10:56) Interview with composers Jonathan Jackson and Metaphor the Great about the music for “The Boondocks”.
  • A Writer’s Perspective - (5:58) Rodney Barnes talks about working with Aaron McGruder, working on an animated series in which one could be free with their writing.

The final season of “The Boondocks” was a mix bag.  Without series creator Aaron McGruder involved, a lot was left on the plate for writer and producer Rodney Barnes (who had previously worked with Aaron McGruder) to carry on and end the series.

While there were crazy and controversial episodes, part of the problem with this final sendoff of the Freeman’s was that unlike the first three seasons, the majority of the episodes focused on Granddad vs. Uncle Ruckus.  Where the series and comic strip focused on Riley and Huey, it seemed as if the direction was to appease or show respect to series creator Aaron McGruder by not focusing on the children.

So, it’s a different type of series than seasons 1-3.  With that said, all is not lost because the fourth season had its moments of fun and no doubt, a few provocative episodes.

From a T.I. looking, “Pretty Boy Flizzy” which Tom DuBois has to take in as a client to Granddad dating Kardashia Kardashian or having conflicts with his iPhone’s Siri, these are crazy episodes.

While controversial episodes include “Good Times” in which the Freemans beccoming part of a slavery program, “Freedomland” in which they work at a slavery amusement park or Huey using the words “gay” and “Retarded” at school and seeing how Granddad tries to pass Huey off as mentally disabled.

Of course, the series ended with a standard episode.  No resolution to the Freeman’s financial issues nor any closure.

While I don’t want to say this fourth season was disappointing but it was not the same without Aaron McGruder’s involvement and thus, the fourth season was more average than anything.

As for the DVD, animation looks great as one can expect on DVD.  With a lot of dialogue, the majority of the series is primarily front-channel driven.  As for special features, you get two featurettes that focus on the music and writing.

Overall, “The Boondocks: The Complete Fourth Season – Uncut & Uncensored” features the final season of the animated series.  Obviously missing series creator Aaron McGruder and focusing on Granddad primarily for this season, it seemed like a different type of show than what we have been used to, for the last three seasons.  But the season does get provocative and crazy and for that, I can recommend this series for hardcore fans of “The Boondocks”.

 

 

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