The Coen Brothers’ latest film, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is enjoyable and fantastic! It’s a much different style of film that the Coen’s are usually known for but they manage to showcase great music and also capturing an era during the emergence of folk music in Greenwich Village in 1961. Recommended!
© 2012 Long Strange Trip, LLC. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: Inside Llewyn Davis
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 104 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Language including some sexual references)
RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014
Written and Directed by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Executive Producer: Olivier Courson, Robert Graf, Ron Halpern
Associate Producer: Catherine Farrell, Drew P. Houpt
Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel
Edited by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Casting by Ellen Chenoweth
Production Design by Jess Gonchor
Art Direction by Deborah Jensen
Set Decoration by Susan Bode
Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis
Carey Mulligan as Jean
Justin Timberlake as Jim
Ethan Phillips as Mitch Gorfein
Robin Bartlett as Lilian Gorfein
Max Casella as Pappi Corsicato
Jerry Grason as Mel Novikoff
Jeanine Serralles as Joy
Adam Driver as Al Cody
Stark Sands as Troy Nelson
John Goodman as Roland Turner
Garrett Hedlund as Johnny Five
Alex Karpovsky as Marty Green
Helen Hong as Janet Fung
Inside Llewyn Davis follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles—some of them of his own making.
From Ethan and Joel Coen (“No Country for Old Men”, “Fargo”, “The Big Lebowski”) comes an American comedy/drama film titled “Inside Llewyn Davis”.
Starring Oscar Isaac (“Drive”, “Sucker Punch”, “Robin Hood”), Carey Mulligan (“Drive”, “Never Let Me Go”, “An Education”), Justin Timberlake (“Bad Teacher”, “Friends with Benefits”, “The Social Network”), Ethan Phillips (“Star Trek: Voyager”, “The Island”), Robin Bartlett (“Shutter Island”, “City of Angels”, “Dangerous Minds”) and Max Casella (“Doogie Howser, M.D.”, “Ed Wood”), “Inside Llewyn Davis” would win the 2013 Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and would receive critical acclaim worldwide.
The film is set in 1961 and struggling folk singer Llewyn Davis (portrayed by Oscar Isaac) is trying to survive in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
After his musical partner Mike Timlin commits suicide, Llewyn Davis is trying to survive by staying with friends and family due to his latest solo album not selling.
After his performance at the Gaslight Cafe, Llewyn goes outside and is beaten up by a man for heckling. Llewyn stays with the Gorfeins but when he leaves, he loses their cat and goes after it. Llewyn ends up taking the cat to his other friends, Jim (portrayed by Justin Timberlake) and Jean (portrayed by Carey Mulligan). But Jean is not so happy to see Llewyn, because she is pregnant and fears that it may be Llewyn’s baby and wants him to pay for the abortion.
But as he stays with another group of friends, he once again loses the Gorfeins cat.
Needing to make money to survive and pay for an abortion, Llewyn must do all he can to make money. But how will life continue for the next few days for Llewyn Davis?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Inside Llewyn Davis” is a film presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a soundtrack presented English 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH subtitles.
It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, you will want to opt for the Blu-ray release of this film. But on DVD, picture quality for the film is great! The Coen Brothers and staff managed to create an era of old Greenwich Village 1961 and while you the overall aesthetic feel of the film, you are also treated with magnificent music.
As the picture does look as best as it can on DVD, the dialogue and music sounds great via the center and front channels.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” comes with the following special feature:
- Inside “Inside Llewyn Davis” – (42:42) The behind-the-scenes making of the film.
In the United States, all over the country, there are stories of locations where many artists are derived from.
But in the 1960′s, there were musicians who wanted to create music unlike contemporary music, music that was created to make a difference. These musicians lived in Greenwich Village.
For those not familiar with the village, the area is a residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City known for its art and culture, the Village was the first to have a racially integrated night club in the late 30′s, in the 50′s, it was the location for the bohemian scene and attracting writers, poets, artists and Beatniks. And in the 1960′s, the Village was known for its music scene, especially the development of folk music.
It was an area that brought The Mamas & the Papas together, it was an area that Bob Dylan came from, an area which influenced Peter, Paul and Mary (Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers) but also notable talents such as Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, Don McLean, Peter Yarrow, Arlo Guthrie, Lucy and Carly Simon, Tom Chapin, Judy Collins and more.
But for the Joel and Ethan Coen film “Inside Llewyn Davis”, this film is set in 1961 and before the time of counterculture.
And what the Coen’s masterfully done is recreate an era via Greenwich Village 1961, from its costume design, its music and making those who grew up around that time (especially those in Greenwich Village), feel the authenticity and create a film that integrates folk music and in someways, playing out almost like scenes from a folk song. But most of all capturing one of America’s greatest musical movements.
Actor Oscar Issac shines as Llewyn Davis. While some may see the actor as clean cut, in the film, he has the look of one from Greenwich Village from the unkempt hair, trimmed beard and if anything, resembling more of late ’60s Bob Dylan that the man that inspired the Coens to make the film, folk singer Dave Van Ronk (it’s important to note that the Coen’s only utilized parts of Van Ronk’s life featured in his memoir but created a character not really based on anyone).
But what Llewyn Davis represents is the one of many folk singers who had the talent but never reached stardom as his other contemporaries. A struggling musician that is trying to survive.
There is no true ending, no major climax but a week in the life of Llewyn Davis, a man who probably didn’t reach stardom because he has a temper, he is reckless, bitter and not a person you can trust. In fact, he’s not the most likable character but there is no denying that he is a man with talent.
And that is what the Coen’s did magnificently well was to make the music shine in this film. Oscar Issac can sing, as well as the others who joined him in the film such as singer/actor Justin Timberlake and even actress Carey Mulligan and Stark Sands sound wonderful in their performance of “Five Hundred Miles” or Timberlake, Issac and Adam Driver for “Please Mr. Kennedy”.
With an enjoyable music soundtrack, what best than to end the film with a Van Gronk track, “Green, Green Rocky Road”.
As for the DVD, picture quality is very good and if you want to enjoy this film in HD, definitely purchase the film on Blu-ray. But on DVD, dialogue and music is clear with the English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. And you get an enjoyable 42-minute “Inside ‘Inside Llewyn Davis;” behind-the-scenes on the making of the film.
Overall, the Coen Brothers’ latest film, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is enjoyable and fantastic! It’s a much different style of film that the Coen’s are usually known for but they manage to showcase great music and also capturing an era during the emergence of folk music in Greenwich Village in 1961.
A lot of humor, fun and action-packed battles as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles take on Karai! “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem” features the first six episodes of season 2! Recommended for the older fans and the new! Recommended!
© 2013 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem
TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2013
DURATION: (6 episodes) 135 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital English Stereo, Closed Caption
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: March 11, 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
Shredder and the Kraang team up! Now as a combined force, the Turtles face double the threat! And with new mutants lurking throughout New York, and the return of evil villains including Karai, the Rat King, and Foot Bots determined to take down the lean, mean, green team, get ready to join Leo, Raph, Mikey, Donnie, April, and new ally, Casey Jones, as they fight back and take the ninjutsu battle action to new rooftop heights!
For the fans of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comes the last DVD titled “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem” as April’s father turns into a mutant bat, Karai captures Leonardo and Donatello becomes jealous of the new guy in April’s life…Casey Jones.
Featuring the first six episodes of 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 40-episodes were made and the second season is currently airing on Nickelodeon. And now episodes 27-32 will be released on DVD courtesy of Nickelodeon.
Included in “Mutagen Mayhem” are episodes 27-32. The following are spoilerless summaries:
- EPISODE 27: The Mutation Situation - What happens when Kirby O’Neil transforms into a mutant bat.
- EPISODE 28: Invasion of the Squirrelanoids – The teenage mutant ninja turtles take on squirrelanoids.
- EPISODE 29: Follow the Leader – Shredder leaves to Japan and Karai is in charge.
- EPISODE 30: Mutagen Man Unleashed – April tutors Casey Jones in math, meanwhile a mutated Pulvarizer causes trouble.
- EPISODE 31: Mikey Gets Shellacne - When Michelangelo plays with retro-mutagen samples, he starts to have an acne infection.
- EPISODE 32: Target: April O’Neil – Karai and the Kraang continue to look for April O’Neil.
VIDEO & AUDIO
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem” 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.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem” comes with the following special features:
- The Mutation of a Scene - A look between the storyboard animatic, primary animation and final render of a scene from the following six episodes.
- Channel 6 News Special Report: Creatures of the Night – (3:10) April O’Neil’s news report with eyewitnesses who came forth about creatures of the night.
With the latest volume of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, for those who watched the series from the early 2000′s, will be happy to see two characters being featured.
With Shredder leaving to Japan, Karai is now in charge and the secret to Karai’s life and who her father is. There is definitely a big difference of how Karai is featured in past animated series and with this 2012 animated version. So, it will be interesting to see how her character evolves throughout the series.
Also, featured in these latest episodes is long-time vigilante and April O’Neil love interest, Casey Jones. We get to see a little of Casey in action but for now, he is just a new student attending April’s school and she must tutor him.
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 pretty awesome.
Picture and audio quality are good on DVD and you get animated comic books plus more “Mutation of a Scene” shorts.
Overall, if you are have grown up with this series and still appreciate it, a fan that is young at heart or want to introduce your own child to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutagen Mayhem” is a fun, action-packed series for today’s generation of young viewers.
“Rogue: The Complete First Season” is an intriguing police story but one that is lacking not necessarily excitement but enough twists and turns that may shock you or have you on the edge of your seat. You expect something big to happen with each episode and you are left feeling that the series can not escape it’s “average” storyline. Perhaps I was expecting way too much. But on its own “Rogue: The Complete First Season” is a good police drama series, just not as compelling as I would have hoped.
© 2013 Undercover Rogue Productions Inc. and Greenroom Rogue Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Rogue: The Complete First Season
SERIES DATE: 2013
DURATION: 10 Episodes (500 Mnutues)
DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 aspect ratio, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Greenroom Entertainment/Direc TV/Momentum
RATED: TV 14 DSLV
RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014
Directed by Larysa Kondracki, Mike Barker, David Frazee, Nick Hamm, Peter Howitt, Jon Jones, Brian Kirk, Nick Murphy
Written by Matthew Parkhill, Jesse McKeown, Lizzie Mickery, Angus Fraser, Daniel Goldfarb, Michelle Paradise
Executive Producer: John Morayniss, Matthew Parkhill, Michael Rosenberg, Steven Marrs, Nick Hamm, Chris Long
Co-Executive Producer: Isibeal Ballance, Robert Petrovicz
Music by Jeff Toyne
Cinematography by Kieran McGulgan
Edited by Alex Mackie, Matthew Tabern
Casting by Corinne Clark, Jennifer Page, Kelly Valentine Hendry, Victor Jenkins
Production Design by Ricardo Spinace
Art Direction by Kendelle Elliott, Doris Deutschmann, James Steuart
Set Decoration by Joanne Leblanc
Costume Design by Angus Strathie
Thandie Newton as Grace
Sarah Jeffery as Evie Travis
Leah Gibson as Cathy Laszlo
Marton Csokas as Jimmy Laszlo
Joshua Sasse as Alec Laszlo
Jarod Joseph as Nicholas Fleming
Kavan Smith as Tom Travis
Claudia Ferri as Sophia Hernandez
Ian Tracey as Lucas “Mitch” Mitchell
Ian Hart as Buddy Wilson
Philip Granger as Joe
Michael P. Northey as Sean
Matthew Beard as Max Laszlo
A smart*complex*character-led thriller*ROGUE revolves around Grace*a morally and emotionally-conflicted undercover detective who is tormented by the possibility that her own actions caused her young son’s mysterious death. In her quest for the truth*Grace goes rogue and falls deeper into a forbidden relationship with Jimmy Laszlo*head of the city’s most powerful and dangerous crime family. To stay alive*Grace must help Jimmy find the traitor in his midst*while knowing he may have played a role in her own tragedy. Lines are crossed with devastating consequences for everyone.
In 2013, DirecTV’s Audience Netowrk and Canadian premium services “The Movie Network” and “Movie Central” co-commissioned the police drama television series “Rogue”.
Shot in Vancouver and created by Matthew Parkhill, the drama series stars Thandie Newton (“The Pursuit of Happyness”, “Mission: Impossible II”, “The Chronicles of Riddick”) and Marton Csokas (“Lord of the Rings” films, “xXx”, “The Bourne Supremacy”), “Rogue” is set in Oakland and would revolve around Grace “Jackie” Travis (portrayed by Thandie Newton), a San Jose police officer who works undercover trying to bring down Jimmy Laszlo (portrayed by Marton Csokas) and his criminal organization.
When not working, she is a wife and mother and lately her young boy, Sam has been having nightmares in which Grace has does all she can to help calm him down.
While working undercover, her Sam is murdered in a crossfire. Because of that, Gracie’s world has been thrown upside down and now she is after the killer responsible for the death of her little boy.
Four months later, Gracie has left the police force and tried to push the police dept. to find the death of her boy but there are no leads, except one. But unfortunately, the police believe her son’s death was that he was in the wrong place, at the wrong time and was killed.
And now, she acts as a rogue officer, working on her son’s case without the support of the police dept. and infiltrate Jimmy Laszlo’s criminal organization and pretend that she is among them.
Meanwhile, her personal life at home is getting worse as she promised her older daughter Evie (portrayed by Sarah Jeffery) that she would spend more time with the family but she is too driven to find out who killed her son, at the expense of possibly hurting her own family. So much that her daughter Evie tells her that maybe her little brother wouldn’t have died if she was more of a mother than a police officer.
But as Gracie infiltrates Jimmy’s organization and with the help with a few contacts in the police dept., will Gracie find who is responsible for killing Sam?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Rogue: The Complete First Season” is presented in Widescreen (1:78:1). The series looks good on DVD, the scenes are well-lit, closeups are nicely shot and skintones are natural and during low light scenes, I didn’t see any major noise or compression artifacts.
As for audio, “Rogue: The Complete First Season” is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround Sound and the series is primarily dialogue and music driven. Dialogue is clear and understandable, action scenes especially gun shots are crystal clear. Surround usage is primarily ambiance-driven.
Subtitles are in English SDH.
“Rogue: The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:
- Script to Screen: Behind-the-Scenes Featurette – (23:13) The cast discuss their character and how the series is shot and the set design for the series, stunts and bringing the script to life.
- Rogue Files: Reparation Webisodes – A total of ten webisodes, each about six minutes long and revolves around the detective Mitch (portrayed by Ian Tracey).
- Trailer – (2:10) Trailer for “Rogue: The Complete First Season”.
How far would one police officer, a mother, go in order to find out who murdered her child?
The first season of “Rogue: The Complete First Season” is among the several entertaining drama series to come from Canada for DirecTV. The first drama series for the satellite TV provider.
The series primarily rests on the shoulders of actress Thandie Newton to sell us the rogue cop trying to infiltrate and assimilate to a crime family while also trying to be careful not to get caught by those in the organization and police.
A lot of episodes are more or less, the character of Gracie trying to make Jimmy believe in her and her watching Jimmy’s back, while there are suspicions about Gracie.
The banal series tries to extend a series on the premise of a mother/police officer trying to find her son’s killer but by doing so, it feels like a long series with a lot of filler. In some ways, for a series like this, you want to see the character of Gracie receive an injection of Jack Bauer edginess and literally want to see the “revenge is sweet” mantra from episode to episode. The character needs to toughen up and not be preoccupied with the roles of being a mother and as much as its important to show her relationship with family, in some ways, I was hoping to see some twist or something that would drive Gracie to become more defiant and really kick-ass.
Alas, this is not one of those series. Gracie is a vulnerable and normal police officer doing all she can to find her son’s killer and we can see from episode to episode of why she feels tremendous guilt.
Overall, “Rogue: The Complete First Season” is an intriguing police story but one that is lacking not necessarily excitement but enough twists and turns that may shock you or have you on the edge of your seat. You expect something big to happen with each episode and you are left feeling that the series can not escape it’s “average” storyline.
Perhaps I was expecting way too much. But on its own “Rogue: The Complete First Season” is a good police drama series, just not as compelling as I would have hoped.
“The Patience Stone” is unlike any film that I have ever seen, especially how the film tackles situations that may be considered tabu in the Middle East. I really enjoyed the film for its bold storyline and wonderful performance. It may not be for everyone but I definitely recommend this film for those with an open mind!
© 2013 Razor Film Produktion GmbH, The Film SAS, Arte France Cinema, Corniche Pictures, Jahan-e-Honar Productions and Orange Studio. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: The Patience Stone
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 102 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, Persian/Farsi 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: Engish, English, SDH
COMPANY: Sony Picture Classics
RATED: R (For Sexual Content, Some violence and Language)
RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014
Directed by Atiq Rahimi
Scenario by Jean-Claude Carriere and Atiq Rahimi
Novel by Atiq Rahimi
Produced by Michael Gentile
Co-Produced by Remi Burah, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul
Executive Producer: Bendeicte Bellocq, Hani Farsi
Associate Producer: Lauraine Heftler, Verona Meier, David Pierret
Cinematography by Theirry Arbogast
Edited by Herve de Luze
Production Design by Erwin Prib
Costume Design by Malek Jahan Khazai
Golshifteh Farahan as the Woman
Hamid Djavadan as The Man
Hassina Burgan as The Aunt
Massi Mrowat as The Young Soldier
Mohamed Al Maghraoui as The Mullah
In a country torn apart by war, a young woman watches over her older husband. A bullet in the neck has reduced him to a comatose state. One day, the woman’s vigil changes. She begins to speak truth to her silent husband, telling him about her suffering, her dreams, and secrets. After years of living under his control, with no voice of her own, she says things she could never have spoken before. Her husband has unconsciously become syngué sabour (THE PATIENCE STONE) – a magical black stone that, according to Persian mythology, absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. The woman’s confessions are extraordinary and without restraint. But after weeks of looking after her husband, she begins to act, discovering herself in the relationship she starts with a young soldier. THE PATIENCE STONE is adapted from the best-selling novel by Atiq Rahimi.
In 2008, French-Afghan writer Atiq Rahimi, wrote the critically acclaimed novel titled “The Patience Stone”.
Regarded as an important book giving voice that explores the turmoil and thoughts, no matter how dark, how sexual of a Middle Eastern woman, suffice to say, it’s not a common thing to see a woman portrayed in such a a way. As women continue to have no voice in the Middle East, and as women fight for their own rights, “The Patience Stone” is a surprising and yet entertaining film that one can enjoy for its unique portrayal of a Middle Eastern woman telling her deepest and darkest thoughts to her deathly sick husband.
It’s audacious and there is no doubt that the story is deserving of the praise and criticism because it’s so daring and so different.
And sure enough, what best than to see such a storyline adapted into a film.
Directed by the original author Atiq Rahimi, “The Patience Stone” would star actress Golshifteh Farahani (“Body of Lies”, “About Elly”), an Iranian model and actress who, like the film, has received praise and criticism for her topless model photoshoots. A woman who is daring to fight the conservatism of traditional practices, suffice to say, she is the right person to play the protagonist, the woman.
“The Patience Stone” is a reference to a magical black stone in Persian folklore that absorbs the plight of those who confide in it and due to the hardship and pain, the stone blows up and leads to the apocalypse.
For the film, “The Patience Stone” refers to the husband (portrayed by Hamid Djavadan), a war hero, who got into an argument and was shot in the neck. Now he is near death and comatose but his young wife (portrayed by Golshifteh Farahani) is told by the Mullah that he should be given medicine to keep him alive.
And for the woman, she is determined in taking care of her husband, for her two daughters sake and the fact that all her family have left her. Her closest confidant, her aunt (portrayed by Hassina Burgan) is all that she has left, but even she has left the war torn area of Afghanistan.
And when the war comes too close to home as the woman’s neighbors are murdered by soldiers, the woman is determined in taking care of her husband but must find her aunt, so she can leave her kids with her temporarily. We learn that the woman’s aunt is a prostitute who was left behind by her husband because she is unable to have children, and so she was raped by her father-in-law until she killed him. But the woman’s aunt is her true confidant and one that has helped the woman through her toughest times.
But while the woman tries to take care of her husband by feeding him, soldiers have come in to her home and as one could have raped her, she tells them she is a prostitute and is spat on by the man who is disgraced by the woman for selling her body.
Her aunt tells her that she made the right move because men have no problems raping a virgin but they will never rape a whore.
But as the woman goes back to her husband to feed and care of him, she starts to talk about the difficult life she had with her husband to him. How she was always stuck at home as he was at war, that during their marriage, his dagger was there in his place.
But the woman is blunt about her emotions. How she feels that men wanted her body, how many masturbated to her, wanted to have sex with her and when she was in the mood around her husband, she wanted to play with herself but because her husband would see it as unnatural, she was made to sleep with the children in the other room.
But one day, after a young soldier (with a severe stuttering problem) tries to pay for services with her, at first she is unnerved about nearly being raped but needing money to take care of her husband and her family, she realizes that perhaps she can make money selling her body. And also be pleasured sexually, which her husband can’t do.
But the more this woman begins to be lost about her life as a wife and a woman of religion, her taste of freedom and sexual freedom begin to take over her and she begins to have this inner turmoil about whether to pursue her true feelings or to be the traditional wife to watch and care over her husband, no matter how bad things are and the fact that he may never come back to life.
And as the free spirit of the woman begins to emerge, also unleashed are the skeletons in her closet.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Patience Stone” is presented in 2:35:1 aspect ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen), Persian/Farsi 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD as the film utilized natural lighting. The film was shot with Canon 5D Mark II’s and shots were done in Turkey and Afghanistan.
While picture quality is good, the film is pretty much dialogue driven and there are some aspects with bomb blasts that will catch you by surprise thanks to the sound effects of bombs going off.
Subtitles are in English and English SDH.
“The Patience Stone” features the following special features:
- Making of “The Patience Stone” – (29:42) Behind-the-scenes making of the Patience Stone
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:01) Theatrical trailer for “The Patience Stone”.
In every country, you come across films that are audacious and shocking to their culture.
From Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of Senses” which was banned in Japan and even in America with “Deep Throat” which was banned throughout the United States during its release, there are many films that are controversial for various reasons.
“The Patience Stone” is a film that may not be a sexual film in the sense of the two films I just mentioned but its the discussion of private thoughts from a woman, dirty thoughts from a Middle Eastern woman, that is rather intriguing because we are aware that rights for females is restricted.
Women are fighting for equalization, some fight against the culture and its conservatism and with “The Patience Stone”, at first the film plays off a storyline about a young wife trying to take care of her husband who was shot in the neck after an accident and he is near dead, but has been using all her money in order to keep her husband alive and in hopes he will make a full recovery.
And as the film plays out like a woman who will do anything for her man because she loves him, we start to see her discussions start to become bolder and much more antagonistic towards her husband because of the restrictions placed on a woman’s right of freedom or expression.
Having to face a strict lifestyle with her husband, the woman has no choice but to abide by his rules. Do things by his rules and for her, she wants to explore the thoughts that she has in her head, may it be her feeling towards the war that has led to the deaths of her neighbors and even putting herself in harms way.
But after seeing how men during the war treat woman like they are meat and want to have sex with them without remorse and how women take up a profession of being a whore because they need to make money, we see this woman changing her tone with her discussions with her husband that lies there. She feels that he must listen to her as he can’t do anything to hurt her and so one-by-one, we start to hear about her fantasies as well as revealing the skeletons in her closet.
Actress Golshifteh Farahan is quite amazing for playing such a role in which all the work falls on her shoulders. Most of the dialogue in the film is her in conversations with her husband and it was no doubt a stressful role for the actress as she even felt herself falling in the path of madness of her character. From many pages of dialogue that she had to remember in a short amount of time but to live and breath like this character who goes through a transformation.
It’s a bold film which I never would expect to watch a film in the Middle East featuring women discuss their sex lives and sexual exploits, it just doesn’t happen and the things discussed in the film are no doubt tabu, that I can understand if the film received its tough criticism, especially for those who are religious or came from a traditional upbringing.
The DVD is presented in 2:35:1 aspect ratio, while picture quality is good as what one can expect on DVD, audio is presented in Persian/Farsi 5.1 and English subtitles are easy to read. You also get a making of special feature which shows us how things were behind-the-scenes as they filmed in Turkey and also in Afghanistan.
Overall, “The Patience Stone” is an audacious film in one aspect, but also a wonderful film featuring a fantastic performance by actress Golshifteh Farahan with a role that defies Middle East traditional and conservative practices. I can see audiences who will praise this film for being non-traditional and bold, while others who are religious, become upset with how the film engages topics that are tabu and a woman going against a culture.
But “The Patience Stone” is unlike any film that I have ever seen, especially how the film tackles situations that may be considered tabu in the Middle East. I really enjoyed the film for its bold storyline and wonderful performance. It may not be for everyone but I definitely recommend this film for those with an open mind!
If you are a fan of wrestling, especially wrestling circuits that are small and are continually growing, “The Booker” is a documentary that shows the hardships in the wrestling business but also one man’s persistence of taking an idea and making it a reality and just doing all he can to make it happen!
© 2012 INDIEPIX. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: The Booker
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 96 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Documentary, Black & White, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: December 10, 2013
Directed by Michael Perkins
Cinematography by Rod Fiore, Alexander Williams, Michael Perkins
Associate Producers: Katherine Skinner, Huckleberry Starnes, Stosh Kozlowski
Edited by Alexander Williams
Steve Scarborough doesn’t like what’s happened to professional wrestling, so he’s set about changing it, one match at a time. The Booker follows Steve as he takes Platinum Championship Wrestling from idea to reality. Shot over the course of 4 years, watch his wrestling school grow into a wrestling promotion, from working in the back room of a theater with 4 students to holding a show at a 2,500-seat area. See how far Steve will go to be a successful booker and save pro wrestling from itself.
For former wrestler, Steve “Platinum” Scarborough, having seen wrestling turn to more of a stunt show, wants to bring back professional wrestling by creating his own wrestling company known as Platinum Championship Wrestling.
Filmed over the course of 4 years, we watch how Steve Scarborough goes from having a wrestling school and grow into a wrestling promotion.
From his days of working the back room of a theater space with four students and growing PCW of a show at a 2,500 arena.
This is one man’s journey of creating a wrestling promotion by leasing space and slowly growing the business in Georgia. From business relationships that were lost, to making things go right and disciplining wrestlers and referees in order to make for a better show.
As filmmaker Michael Perkins captures the life of Steve Scarborough within four years, will we see Platinum Championship Wrestling succeed or will his show fail?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
Contrary to the DVD cover saying the film is in color,”The Booker” is a documentary presented in black and white and is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.
Picture quality is good as what one can expect on DVD, but shot in black and white, it’s probably a good decision by the filmmaker and editor to go black and white as it doesn’t make the film looked aged. Especially with the older wrestling footage included.
“The Booker” comes with a theatrical trailer.
As a fan of wrestling and having grown up watching wrestling on television, even ’til now.
But after watching “The Booker”, you have to admire Steve Scarborough for what he has accomplished for Platinum Championship Wrestling.
I was raised on watching the old wrestling from the ’70s and ’80s and as these shows became more entertainment driven, at least from the ’90s to the early ’2000s, there was something to be excited for. There were wrestlers who you followed because they were a great presence but they went further by doing stunts that can literally end their career (Mick Foley anyone?).
But today’s wrestling has evolved into a big business. A business that is targeting families, children and for the most part, the landscape of wrestling entertainment is somewhat disheartening for fans who grew up watching wrestling back in the day.
But to make a credible run of bringing competition and athleticism to wrestling fans via a new promotion is not always easy and for Michael Perkins’ documentary “The Booker”, this documentary shot in a span of four years chronicling Steve Scarborough’s wrestling idea to a newer and bigger level is quite fascinating and also respectable.
This is a man who has not strayed away from his plan to make PCW a growing business but he also knows that he needs to make money, he needs to trust his wrestlers on putting a good show but sometimes things don’t go as perfectly on a show and we can see Steve Scarborough losing patience with certain wrestlers and refs and giving the important lecture for those not to screw up and how to fix the problem.
While the film does cover Steve Scarborough’s ideas and the growth of his company, too bad that the cameras didn’t stay with him for another year or two as people would get to see the synergy created with the PCW/EMPIRE matchups. The fact is that Scarborough’s idea and has grown to become something bigger and who knows how far he will be able to take it.
But as one can look at “The Booker” as one man’s journey to create and build “Pacific Championship Wrestling”, I also look at it as one man pursuing a career that he was born to do and capturing those intimate moments behind-the-scenes of PCW and how it can take a toll on Scarborough as a businessman, a promoter and also a man who wears several hats for this company.
The DVD is presented in black and white (not color as the cover mentions on the back), dialogue is clear and understandable and for the most part, the DVD looks good in black and white and as for special features, there is only a theatrical trailer. It would have been nice if there were special features included. More behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes or perhaps even a followup of what is happening with the PCW.
Overall, if you are a fan of wrestling, especially wrestling circuits that are small and are continually growing, “The Booker” is a documentary that shows the hardships in the wrestling business but also one man’s persistence of taking an idea and making it a reality and just doing all he can to make it happen!
“Blast of Tempest” is a series that captivated me from beginning to end. “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” is rather unique, well-written, unpredictable and complex but the second season was much more enjoyable than the first! An awesome anime series that I highly recommend!
Image courtesy of © Kyo Shirodaira, Arihide Sano, Ren Saizaki/Zetsuen Project, MBS. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season
DURATION: Episodes 13-26 (300 minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital
COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.
RATED: Suggested 13 and Up
RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2014
Originally created by Kyo Shirodaira
Directed by Masahiro Ando
Series Composition by Mari Okada
Music by Michiru Oshima
Character Design by Tsunenori Saito
Art Direction by Ayumi Sato, Tomoaki Okada
Mechanical Design by Masahisa Suzuki
Art Design by Ayumi Sato
Anime Production: Bones
Featuring the following voice talent:
Kouki Uchiyama as Yoshino Takigawa
Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Mahiro Fuwa
Miyuki Sawashiro as Hakaze Kusaribe
Hirofumi Nojima as Junichirō Hoshimura
Hiroyuki Yoshino as Tetsuma Kusaribe
Junichi Suwabe as Natsumura Kusaribe
Kana Hanazawa as Aika Fuwa
Miyuki Sawashiro as Hakaze Kusaribe
Nana Mizuki as Evangeline Yamamoto
Rikiya Koyama as Samon Kusaribe
Shintarō Asanuma as Takumi Hayakawa
Yuuki Kaji as Megumu Hanemura
A month has passed since the showdown at Mt. Fuji, but the world is once again thrown into chaos with the appearance of the “Mage of Exodus.” In order to discover the truth behind Aika’s murder, Hakaze decides to return to the past. There, she meets Aika and is told something completely unexpected. If everything happens for a reason, is Aika’s unfortunate death actually a blessing in disguise? All the puzzle pieces finally come together to reveal the shocking truth!
As Yoshino Takagawa and Hakaze Kusaribe begin to work closely together, Hakaze starts to find herself falling in love with Yoshino, unaware that his girlfriend Aika was murdered a year ago. Meanwhile, Mahiro Fuwa is destined to find out who killed Aika and who her mysterious boyfriend is. Also unaware that his best friend is the mysterious guy that he has been looking for.
Meanwhile, along comes a guy who may be the Mage of Exodus but also what happens when Hakaze’s love for Yoshino makes her want to go back to the past to find out once and for all, who is responsible for Aikawa Fuwa’s death.
All this and more in the conclusion of “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season”, now available on DVD from Aniplex of America!
What is “Blast of Tempest”?
In 2009, “Zetsuen no Tempest” was released as a manga by Kyo Shirodaira with illustrations by Arihide Sano and Ren Saizaki. In 2012, the anime series received an anime adaptation courtesy of BONES and in August 2013, Aniplex of America will be releasing the series with the title “Blast of Tempest” with the first season (first 12 episodes) on DVD.
The series is directed by Masahiro Ando (“Sword of the Stranger”, “Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home” and “CANAAN”), series composition by Mari Okada (“AKB0048″, “Aria – The Natural”, “Anel Tales”, “CANAAN”), music by Michiru Oshima (“Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Gokusen”, “Arc the Lad”, “Gokusen”), character designs by Tsunenori Saito (“Sword of the Stranger”, “Towanoquon”, “Halo Legends”) and art direction by Ayumi Sato (“The World God Only Knows”, “Heroman”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2″ and “Eureka 7: Astral Ocean”) and Tomoaki Okada (“Banner of the Stars”, “Darker than Black”, “Crest of the Stars”, “Star Driver”, “Wolf’s Rain”).
“Blast of Tempest” begins with an introduction to two teenage students, Yoshino Takigawa and Mahiro Fuwa. Mahiro gives his step-sister Aika a ride back home and with her attitude towards Mahiro, Fuwa believes that his sister dislikes his friend.
Meanwhile, we see a woman breaking out of a barrel and is stranded in an uninhabited island. Her name is Hakaze Kusaribe, the leader of the Kusaribe clan and the “Mage of Genesis”, a princess who’s goal is to protect the “Tree of Genesis”, which is the source of magic used by her clan. But it appears that she was betrayed by her aide named Samon, who had put her in the well and put her in an island to block out any of use her mage powers. His intention, to awaken the Tree of Exodus to prevent the advent of the Tree of Genesis, which he and the Kusaribe clan believe will recreate the world and destroy mankind.
Fast foward to the near future and it was revealed that Aika was murdered and Fuwa has not been seen for months after the incident.
As Yoshino wonders what has happened to Fuwa, a woman named Evangeline Yamamoto arrives and with her weapons, threatens to kill Yoshino unless he provides her with information in regards to his connection to Mahiro. Yoshino explains that he has not seen Mahiro in months and that he has been mourning the death of his sister, Aika.
All of a sudden, butterflies show up everywhere and we see how humanity has been affected with some strange disease that turns people into metal. But as Yoshino tries to fight back and escape, Evangeline shows how dangerous she can be and before she hurts him, out of nowhere, Mahiro teleports and beats Evangeline.
Mahiro explains to Yoshino that he was given this power by a mage named Hakaze, who he can communicate via a wooden doll that Hakaze had made (and Mahiro found it inside a bottle on the beach). Hakaze makes a deal with Mashiro that she would find Aika’s murder in exchange for his help in stopping the resurrection of the Tree of Exodus.
Yoshino decides to help Mahiro find out who murdered Aika as well, but what is his real motivation of assisting Mahiro? Meanwhile, Yoshino is given some of Hakaze’s power via a magical talisman that has been left behind in the city. As Mahiro and Yoshino try to find the murderer and the magic talismans, they receive word from Hakaze that there is no magic to track the culprit, which can only mean that a member of her clan may be responsible.
But with Hakaze now brought back to the world of the living and everyone willing to work together to prevent the elimination of the human race, things become more complicated as Yoshino is suspected of being the Mage of Exodus as he and Hakaze grow closer. As Hakaze’s emotions for Yoshino eventually becomes a realization of love, others start to wonder if Yoshino is manipulating Hakaze.
But what happens when a young man shows up with abilities to show that he may be the Mage of Exodus.
Meanwhile, the investigation to the death of Aika Fuwa has yielded no results for the groups, especially as they depend on Mahiro’s efforts in saving the world. But what happens when Hakaze, who’s love for Yoshino, makes her want to go into the past and find out who is responsible for the death of Aika? Could it be Yoshino? Could it be a future her? Or something else more sinister?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Blast of Tempest” is an anime series that I expected wonderful animation, especially with director Masahiro Ando behind-the-scenes. When it comes to BONES anime productions, Masahiro Ando is one of my favorite directors because he brings quality to a film or animated series and having watched “Blast of Tempest”, I am absolutely pleased with the animation. From character designs, shading to lighting, Tsunenori Saito and staff did a wonderful job in bringing out the emotion of the characters but also to capture the action and the mechanical designs as planes and tanks go to war against the unknown.
And as one can expect from BONES, the art direction by Ayumi Sato and Tomoaki Okada is absolutely beautiful. From oceans, forests, hills, cities and just the ambiance of a certain area, they captured the environment with wonderful detail.
While I wished this series was released on Blu-ray, as some Aniplex releases are released in Japanese with English subtitles on DVD, perhaps this series will receive a Blu-ray release in the future with an English dub included.
For now, the series is presented in 16:9 LB with audio in Japanese linear PCM stereo with English subtitles.
“Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” features the following special features:
- Textless OP – “Blast of Tempest” opening theme without text.
- Textless ED - “Blast of Tempest” ending theme without text.
“Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” comes with a slipcover with a 2-sided reversible cover, a 16-page special booklet and a reversible mini-poster.
After watching the first season of “Blast of Tempest”, I was instantly captivated by the first season as it delved with a complex story about the Tree of Genesis and the Tree of Exodus, a yin and yang storyline which involved characters from both sides, wanting to protect each other’s interests.
We were introduced to the character of Mashiro Fuwa, is a boy who has been born under privilege and has always been treated differently because his family comes from a powerful background. While Yoshino was the person who rather keep to himself and not be involved in anything. Due to circumstances, Yoshino ended up having to help Mashiro and in the process, their relationship was not of mere friendship, as one would think. But a friendship of convenience.
The first season went into how this friendship lasted from their younger years to their older years, it is because of one important connection which one will find out as the series progresses.
But it’s the protagonist Yoshino that you are amazed to see how his storyline unfolds as each layer is peeled and you get to see a side of him that he has kept secret all this time. But how damaging will his secret be? And for Mashiro, why is his drive to find Aika’s killer, made him change to this person only seeking nothing but revenge?
The other storyline that captivates you is the storyline that surrounds the character Hakaze. She appears to be a beautiful, naive teenager but in truth, she is the powerful “Mage of Genesis”, born to be the leader representing the “Tree of Genesis” and like the concept of ying and yang, opposing the “Tree of Genesis” is the “Tree of Exodus”. Both trees locked up into an epic battle that has spawned generations and for Hakaze, she has been left on an island, hidden by a sphere and no way to use her power to leave the area.
Kept on the island, as a viewer, you feel bad for the character because she doesn’t have a mean spirit. If anything, she wants to help Mashiro and Yoshino find the murderer of Aika, but she needs their help to get her out of the island. And thus, it becomes a cat and mouse game as the Kusaribe clan now led by Hakaze’s former aid Samon sends his clan after Mashiro and Yoshino, but unlike regular humans, they have been given part of Hakaze’s power to defend themselves and others.
By the second season, there was no doubt that the storyline would become much more complex as it interweaves a story that now goes from more-action, to something more emotional but also incorporates the Shakespeare stories of “Hamlet” (a tragedy) and it’s opposite storyline of “The Tempest” (which was not a tragedy).
The second season features both Yoshino and Hakaze growing as not just people trying to solve a problem in the world, but Hakaze’s emotions as a teenager, noticing that she is starting to fall deeply in love with Yoshino, but at the same time, trying to keep her emotions in check, knowing that he has a girlfriend (unaware that his girlfriend was mysteriously killed a year prior).
As Mahiro continues his path for revenge in the name of Aika, a step-sister that he, himself had loved. But also wanting to know who her mysterious boyfriend was. Not knowing that his best friend, Mahiro, was secretly dating her behind his back.
And when those who have worked with Hakaze start to worry that Yoshino may be the Mage of Exodus, because of the way that he is able to affect Hakaze’s emotions. Another person shows up, claiming to be the Mage of Exodus.
And as we start to see a mystery storyline combined with a teenage romance drama, things start to escalate as the search for Aika Fuwa’s murderer comes into play but also the final fight and a revelation that surrounds both the Tree of Genesis and the Tree of Exodus.
Suffice to say, while the first season was driven by it’s action, the second season is much more complex, much deeper and more satisfying because it becomes more character-based, more emotional and we get to see each episode escalate until the final battle at the end of the series.And I love the fact that the series does end rather nicely (so keep watching the credits).
Because of its character development and its complex but yet fascinating and enjoyable storyline, “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” was much better than the first. I understand those who expected an all out action series may be disappointed that the action of season two doesn’t match up with season one, but personally, I would rather have more a better storyline, better character integration rather than banal action.
With this DVD release, the animation looks great and the Japanese voice acting is top-notch, but it is without an English dub which may detract people from this DVD release.
As for Aniplex swag, you do get a slipcover, a 16-page special booklet and reversible mini-power plus a 2-sided reversible cover. The booklet features episode synopsis and character artwork. While the poster features Yoshino, Mashiro and Hakaze on one side, while Aika, not Hakaze along with Mashiro and Yoshino is featured on the other side.
Overall, “Blast of Tempest” is a series that captivated me from beginning to end. It’s unique, unpredictable and complex series that was well-written and is a smart series that you just don’t see coming along often. The fact that the second season focused on better writing, less on banal action and better use of character integration was rather well-planned. The emotional/romantic elements in my opinion, made the second season much more captivating and a better written second half compared to the first.
If you are looking for a deep anime series that combines action, mystery and romantic drama, “Blast of Tempest: Complete 2nd Season” is highly recommended!
“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” is a pretty solid animated series for children or the young at heart. Cool characters, well-written stories with plenty of action and humor! Parents looking for a safe animated series on DVD for their children who love action and sci-fi, will definitely enjoy “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground”. Recommended!
© 2012 Slugterrainea Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground
TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2013
DURATION: 110 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital English Stereo
COMPANY: Shout! Factory
RATED: TV Y7 FV
RELEASE DATE: March 4, 2014
Directed by Johnny Darrell
Written by Rob Hoegee, Scott Sonneborn
Executive Producer: Ken Faier, Asaph Fipke, Rob Hoegee, Chuck Johnson
Co-Producer: Nancy Lees
Art Direction by Andy Poon
Featuring the voices of:
Sam Vincent as Eli Shane
Lee Tockar as Pronto
Shannon Chan-Kent as Trixie
Michael Dobson as Maurice
Andrew Francis as Kord
Mark Oliver as Dr. Blakk
Join Eli Shane and the Shane Gang as they venture further into SlugTerra’s 99 caverns! But the further they go, the more trouble they seem to find. From an icy drive-in theatre to the Shane Gang Hideout itself, danger lurks in every cavern. Our heroes find themselvs confronted by ice ogres, thieves, con artists, a cyclops and robots, but it’s not just a simple matter of slugging it out to protect the underground world. Eli will have to work with his enemies, duel without Burpy and his best slugs, and reveal his most precious secret in order to protect the underground world from both everyday troublemakers and the fiendishly ambitious Dr. Blakk!
In 2012, the new sci-fi action animated series “SlugTerra” made its debut on Disney XD in October 2012.
An American/Canadian co-production created by Asaph Fipke (co-founder of Nerd Corps Entertainment and worked on series such as “Beast Wars”, “Beast Machines”, “ReBoot”, “Heavy Gear” and “Max Steel”), the animation is produced by Fipke’s Animation studio Nerd Corps Entertainment.
With 39 episodes aired on television (three seasons), the latest volume of “SlugTerra” titlted “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” (episodes 16-20 from season two), will be released on DVD!
“SlugTerra” is a series that begins with Will Shane, the protector of SlugTerra taking on his arch nemesis Dr. Thaddius Blakk. As Dr. Blakk tried to unleash an evil power using a ghoul slug in SlugTerra that would envelop Will Shane, Will uses his blaster to shoot out his slug Burpee to find his young son Eli to find a letter before he is enveloped.
Burpee shows young Eli a letter that his father left to him, just in case something bad has happened to him. Will wrote about how many in the long line of the Shane family had ventured to SlugTerra, to protect the area which is located 100 miles below Earth. But the condition if he chooses to accept, is that he can begin his adventure as a Shane in SlugTerra when he turns 15-years-old but also that he must keep the existence of Earth as he knows it, a secret from those living in SlugTerra.
Fast forward to a teenage Eli, who decides to venture to SlugTerra, knowing that he may not be able to get back home. And upon arriving, he arrives to his fathers hideout where his weapons, gear and mecha beast vehicles are located.
While his father left him a blaster, he must find his own slugs which is a key to surviving in SlugTerra. How each slug has a special ability and gets stronger over time. If the owner bonds with the slug, the better the relationship.
Eli eventually meets several people who try to teach him the way of living in SlugTerra and join him as part of the Shane Team. Pronto the Magnificent is a molenoid tracker, so he says. But he seems to get everyone in trouble but also manages to help him the team once in awhile. Beatrice “Trixie” Sting is filming a documentary on slugs but she is also wonderful in fighting competitions and is great strategist. And there is Kord Zane, a huge cave troll who loves technology, and is a mechanic who loves upgrading blasters and vehicles.
Meanwhile, when Dr. Thaddius Blakk and his group find out a Eli is back in SlugTerra, he is determined of ridding Eli as he did with his father. But Blakk has found away to convert innocent slugs to evil ghouls and trying to recruit people to cause havok in SlugTerra.
Can the Shane Gang find a way to defeat the evil in SlugTerra? And what will happen when Eli’s secret of coming from “The Burning World” (the surface) is revealed to the members of the Shane Gang?
Here are the following episodes featured in “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” (Season 2):
- EPISODE 16: Snowdance - The Shane Gang take on the Hooligang and with the Hooligang upset about being fired by Dr. Blakk for losing against the Shane Gang the first time, now they want revenge.
- EPISODE 17: Inheritance – Danna Por, the daughter of Will Shane’s old partner, Tom Por, wants treasure which she believes, belongs to her.
- EPISODE 18: A Distant Shore – An adventure tries to go on an expedition to “The Burning World” (the surface where Eli is from). Eli tries to stop him.
- EPISODE 19: The Journey Home – Eli takes on Much without some of his trustworthy Slugs.
- EPISODE 20: Roboslugs – The Shane Gang takes on Quentin, a mad scientist who has created Roboslugs.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” comes is presented a series that blends CG animation with hand draw animation. Produed by Nerd Corps Entertainment, the style of “SlugTerra” almost has an anime mashed with Disney style. Colors are vibrant and colorful, character designs for the humanoid characters are well done but also for the slugs which are cute or crazy or mean looking slugs. But the characters are well-shaded and art backgrounds are also nicely done.
Mechanical design is also created quite well from the beast vehicles to the blasters, for the most part, “SlugTerra” is a series that looks good as one can expect on DVD.
The series is presented in Dolby Digital and dialogue and sound effects are clear. And while there are no subtitles, closed captions are included.
“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” comes with the following special features:
- Creating Your Own Slugs- (4:18) Learn how to draw a slug by Andy Poon (art director for “SlugTerra”).
- Slugisodes – The Right Slug For the Right Job – (1:01) Trixie talks about using your Slugs.
- Slugisodes – Getting Around in SlugTerra – (1:01) Trixie talks about getting around in SlugTerra.
“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” comes with a slipcover.
I have to admit that when I first hear about “SlugTerra”, the first thing that came to my mind was “not another Pokemon type of anime series”!
Having seen series such as “Monsuno” and “Kaijudo”, I was curious to see how “SlugTerra” would differentiate from these other titles. And sure enough, “SlugTerra” turns out to be a fantastic animated series.
It does have the similarity to Pokemon, in the case of “SlugTerra”, collecting Slugs with special abilities and dueling other competitors with their slugs.
The adventures of the Shane Gang continues in the latest volume of “SlugTerra” with episodes 16-20 from season two as the gang continues to go further into SlugTerra’s 99 caverns. But as the gang continues, they run into the Hooligang again, but also other sorts of rivals.
But this time, it becomes more personal as secrets of Eli’s father start to emerge, especially Dana Por, the daughter of Eli’s father, Tom Por, who tells him how Will Shane was responsible for the breakup of their working relationship, when Will tried to hide treasure from Tom.
But as the Shane Gang starts to have their doubts about Eli’s father, Eli must make a difficult decision…should he tell the Shane Gang the truth of where he comes from and the secret that he and his father had tried to protect?
Overall, “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” is a pretty solid animated series for children or the young at heart. Cool characters, well-written stories with plenty of action and humor!
Parents looking for a safe animated series on DVD for their children who love action and sci-fi, will definitely enjoy “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground”.
“Pig” alludes banality with a riveting, surprising story with intelligent writing thanks to writer/director Henry Barrial. Also, you get a fine performance from actor Rudolf Martin. Recommended!
© 2013 The Pig Project LLC. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: Pig
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 90 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Color, 1:78:1, Stereo, English
COMPANY: Horizon Movies
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014
Directed by Henry Barrial
Written by Henry Barrial
Producer: Mark Stolaroff
Co-Producer: Alexander Burke
Cinematography by Collin Brink
Edited by Eric Strand
Casting by Alison B. Buck
Production Design by Katie Abiad
Art Direction by Jem Eisner
Costume Design by Anna Bjornsdotter
Rudolf Martin as Man
Heather Ankeny as Isabel
Keith Diamond as Manny Elder
Ines Dali as Anouk
PIG is a mind-bending sci-fi thriller in the tradition of Memento, “a riveting adventure of confusion and identity” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer). The Desert Star Weekly called it “a brilliant sci-fi thriller…the most provocative film I saw at the Palm Springs Int’l. Film Festival.” “An impeccably crafted indie gem that genre fans need to see” (CultCuts Magazine). The film was inspired by Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near.
From filmmaker and screenwriter Henry Barrial comes the sci-fi thriller “Pig” starring Rudolf Martin (“Swordfish”, “Bedazzled”, “NCIS), Heather Ankeny, Keith Diamond and Ines Dali.
Inspired by Ray Kurzweil’s book “The Singularity is Near” and an actual story about a CIA imprisonment of a German citizen who was “renditioned”, the low budget film would go on to receive award and nominations at various film festivals including “Best Film” at the London Sci-Fi Film Festival.
And now “Pig” will be released on DVD courtesy of Horizon Movies in March 2014.
“Pig” begins with a man reading a statement. We then see the man (portrayed by Rudolf Martin) walking through a desert with his hands tied behind his back, trying to break free by cutting his rope on a rock. When he wakes up, he has no memories of his past and later awakens inside the home of a woman named Isabel (portrayed by Heather Ankeny) and her young son, who had found him in the desert and saved him. He begins to have flashbacks but are not sure what they mean.
Without any memories of his past, the man tries to uncover his identity with no clue but with a name written in his pocket. And through his clues, he goes back to Los Angeles to meet with people who knew him. But as he starts to look for answers of why he is fluent in German, why was he taken to the desert and tied up but try to understand who the woman and boy in his dreams are.
But the more the man starts to research his life, he discovers something shocking about his true identity and his past.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Pig” is presented in 1:78:1. For a low-budget film, the editing and cinematography for this indie film was shot very well. Outdoor scenes look good on DVD. Picture quality for the most part is good, dialogue is presented in stereo and is clear.
“Pig” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Henry Barrial, producer Mark Stolaroff and co-producer Alex Cutler.
- Deleted Scenes – (37:58) Deleted scenes from “Pig”.
- Kickstarter Video – (5:46) A plug for “Pig” on Kickstarter.
- Lonely Boy Video – (1:55) A video that was posted on YouTube.
- Nashville Film Festival Video – (1:22) A short video featuring the pre-screening of “Pig”.
- Nashville Film Festival Q&A – (13:59) The post-screening Q&A for “Pig” at the Nashville Film Festival.
- Sci-Fi London Q&A – (30:42) The post-screening Q&A at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival.
- Theatrical Trailers – (3:13) Theatrical trailers for “Pig”.
“Pig” is a for the most part a low-budget indie film.
The good news is that it doesn’t look like a low-budget indie-film and features a fascinating storyline with a surprising ending that not only is logical, but also a technology that may be refined in the near future.
With that beings said, just the mention of technology is going to confuse people, so let’s not go there. Let’s focus on this intriguing storyline written and directed by Henry Barrial.
The storyline which seems clean cut about a man searching for his identity is rather fascinating as the more he digs into his life, the more he finds himself surprised that he has no memories of anything related to his past.
Why does he dream of a woman and a child? Why can he speak fluent German? But why would someone tie him up and put him in the middle of a desert to die?
Was someone trying to kill him? Did he do something wrong?
This is a film that throws out a lot of questions about this man? A man who has only a single clue to start his research into his past, the more he discovers bit-by-bit about himself, he is not too thrilled with how people perceived him.
He may be a different person now? But what about his past that could have made people see him so negatively?
And the more the man goes to learn about his past, what he discovers is something so surprising, that I can’t mention really anything, but the fact that science will play a part in the final minutes of “Pig”.
A fascinating concept, it’s all I can mention without spoiling the film. But the film is riveting and the fact that the film was created on a low-budget is quite surprising, considering how well this film was edited and acted.
Actor Rudolf Martin may be used to playing the bad guy in feature films, but for “Pig”, it’s good to see him play a different type of role. Part of you feel that this guy is a bad guy or something tragic happened in his past, something bad, in order for him to be left in the middle of a desert with his hands tied behind his back.
As for the DVD, picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD, but the positive aspect is the film was shot outdoors and the film was well-lit, so picture quality was good. Stereo soundtrack was understandable and clear. As for special features, there are a good number of them including two Q&A tracks and an audio commentary.
“Pig” alludes banality with a riveting, surprising story with intelligent writing thanks to writer/director Henry Barrial. Also, you get a fine performance from actor Rudolf Martin.
“Mama’s Family” was one of the more delightful comedy series in syndication back in the mid-to-late 80′s. And watching them today, the episodes are just as fun now as they were back in 1986-1987. If you are a fan of the series, “Mama’s Family: The Complete Third Season” is a comedy series worth recommending!
© 1986 & 1987, Joe Hamilton Productions. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Mama’s Family: The Complete Third Season
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1986-1987
DURATION: 608 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Color
COMPANY: StarVista Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2014
Directed by Dave Powers, Roger Beatty, Harvey Korman, Dick Martin
Written by Jim Evering, Rick Hawkins, Dorothy Van, Gene Perret
Producer: Dick Clair, Jenna McMahon, Dave Powers
Executive Producer: Joe Hamilton
Co-Producer: Neil Lebowitz, Roger Beatty
Co-Executive Producer: Jim Evering, Rick Hawkins
Music by Peter Matz
Edited by Patrick Williams, Robert Bernstein
Edited by Nick Fenton
Casting by Rhonda Young
Art Direction by Paul Barnes, Paul Roberts
Set Direction by Bill Harp
Costume Design by Ret Turner
Vicki Lawrence as Thelma “Mama” Crowley Harper
Ken Berry as Vinton Harper
Dorothy Lyman as Naomi Oates Harper
Allan Kayser as Bubba Higgins
Beverly Archer as Iola Lucille Boylen
Betty White as Ellen Harper Jackson
In the world of prime-time television, success often begets success by way of the spin-off. The Carol Burnett Show lasted eleven seasons on CBS, thanks in part to the recurring comedy sketches that attracted a large, loyal viewership. “The Family” remained a favorite because fans related to the Harpers’ constant squabbling about mundane stuff. As the irascible Mama Harper, Vicki Lawrence was wondrously transformed into a full-tilt senior citizen, and it wasn’t a matter of it, but when, she would get her own TV series.
Big changes are afoot in the Harper household as “Mama’s Family” switches from NBC to syndication. Vint’s kids Buzz and Sonja are gone, replaced by Bubba Higgins (Allan Kaser), the son of Eunice and Ed. Bubba arrives fresh from a stint in juvenile hall, learning of his parents’ move to Florida only after he settles in at Mama’s place.
For long time viewers of “The Carol Burnett Show”, among the popular sketches was “Mama’s Family” featuring Vicki Lawrence as Thelma Harper (Mama).
From the first skit in 1974 through the last skit in 1979, a series would be given the greenlight in 1983 on NBC.
While the series was on NBC for two seasons, the TV series never had solid footing as it was rescheduled for different time slots and was canceled in 1984.
After two years later, “Mama’s Family” would find its place in first-run syndication in 1986 with a major cast change. While Mama, Vinton and Naomi from the first two seasons would make their return, Rue McClanahan who played Aunt Fran and was on “The Golden Girls” was killed off from the series, while Vinton’s children, Buzz (portrayed by Eric Brown) and Sonja (portrayed by Karin Argoud) were said to have moved out of the house and living somewhere in America.
Allan Kayser was brought in to play the character of Buzz, a young juvenile delinquent (and the troubled son of Ed and Eunice, often referred in the comedy sketches on “The Carol Burnett Show”) who is trying to have a second chance at life. And the other talent was Beverly Archer who would play the prissy Iola Boylan, a friend of Mama and a woman who grew up with Vinton.
And the third season with a few changes to the show would go on to become the highest rated first-run program in syndication and would last for four more years through 1990.
And now “Mama’s Family: The Complete Third Season” will be released on DVD courtesy of StarVista Entertainment in Feb. 2014.
Here is a spoiler-free synopsis of the episodes included on four DVD’s:
- EPISODE 36 – Eunice’s son Bubba moves into Mama’s home.
- EPISODE 37 – Fran leaves will after her death but there are strict rules that must be followed in order for Thelma and the others to get the money.
- EPISODE 38 – Ellen stops by after missing Aunt Fran’s funeral.
- EPISODE 39 – Mama’s dreams are leading to horse racing winning.
- EPISODE 40 – Mama, Iola and Naomi compete in a chili cook-iff.
- EPISODE 41 – What happens when Vinton and Naomi are having problems in the bedroom.
- EPISODE 42 – Iola is distraught after the death of her cat.
- EPISODE 43 – What happens when Bubba helps Vinton write a love letter to Naomi.
- EPISODE 44 – What will happen during Thanksgiving?
- EPISODE 45 – Iola loses her pearls and blames Bubba. But did Bubba steal them?
- EPISODE 46 – Mama wants to make a bid to become President of the Church Ladies’ League.
- EPISODE 47 – Naomi wants to become a flight attendant.
- EPISODE 48 – Will Mama celebrate the holidays?
- EPISODE 49 – Mama and Naomi try to find a date for Iola.
- EPISODE 50 – What happens when Mama finds an adult magazine under Bubba’s bed?
- EPISODE 51 – Mama tries to raise money for a trip to Hawaii.
- EPISODE 52 – What happens when Vinton thinks he is adopted?
- EPISODE 53 – Mama has been entered in Grandma USA.
- EPISODE 54 – Vinton’s former Army Sgt. comes for a visit.
- EPISODE 55 – Mama’s cousin comes to visit.
- EPISODE 56 – Mama competes in an arm-wrestling competition.
- EPISODE 57 – Naomi tries to set up her best friend who is recently divorced with Bubba for a double date.
- EPISODE 58 – Vinton is invited to join the Mystical Order of the Cobra.
- EPISODE 59 – When Vinton announces that Naomi is the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy, Iola and Grandma think something is going on…
- EPISODE 60 – After Aunt Effie falls off the roof of her house, Mama brings her to the house.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Mama’s Family” is presented in 4:3 and stereo. Picture quality for the most part is good considering the season three episodes are nearly 30-years-old. There is no major damage to the print nor excessive aging. There is a bit of softness but for the most part, this is possibly the best we will ever see of these episodes unless they are released in HD in the future. Dialogue is clear and understandable.
But I detected no visible damage or aging of the series nor any problems with audio.
Subtitles are not included.
“Mama’s Family: The Complete Third Season (” features the following special features:
- Family History: A Classic “Family” Sketch from “The Carol Burnett Show” featuring Maggie Smith (Show #909, November 15, 1975) – (14:46) Eunice, Ted and Mama visit Bubba’s teacher and find out how he’s a troubled student/child.
- Featurette: Mama’s Family Tree: The Sprouts (All About Bubba) - (11:04) Rick Hawkins (Exec. Producer/Head Writer) talks about bringing the character of Bubba in to “Mama’s Family” for season three and discussion of Jim Evering (Exec. Producer/Writer) and Vicki Lawrence of Eunice and her son.
- Mama Knows Best: A Mama’s Family Cast Reunion – (24:43) Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, Dorothy Lyman, Beverly Archer and Allan Kayser reunite.
- Interview: Allan Kayser – (13:15) Allan Kayser talks about how he got cast as Bubba.
During my childhood, there are a few television series that are close to my heart.
For one, “The Carol Burnett Show” was family time with me, my parents and my younger brother and then when I was in high school, “Mama’s Family” was part of my childhood as it was one of my grandmother’s favorite shows to watch in the afternoon but also for myself, a comedy series that I simply enjoyed!
Having been familiar with the “Mama’s Family” skits on “The Carol Burnett Show”, I watched many of the episodes when they first aired on television and followed it into syndication.
Granted, I was not able to catch every episode, so the fact they are being released on DVD courtesy of StarVista Entertainment is very cool but also to see how things have changed from the first two seasons that were aired on NBC and to see the change in direction the series went for season three.
I felt that the changes made to the series was well-planned and it worked in ensuring very solid ratings for the TV series in syndication. The series still emphasized family but now you had the Eunice connection which the series was missing through the introduction of Bubba. You had a chance with Vinton and Naomi as the two were more dimwitted than in previous seasons and you had a fascinating character with Iola.
But for the most part, the series maintained its delightful comedy thanks to Vicki Lawrence’s portrayal of Mama, the stories were a lot of fun and the writing was very good for a syndicated comedy series at the time (considering the other first-run comedy alternatives during the mid-to-late 80′s were “Small Wonder”, “Charles in Charge”, “Silver Spoon” and “Punky Brewster”).
And for those who were entertained by “Mama’s Family” can relive these fun episodes from season three all on DVD. Plus fans of the series will no doubt enjoy the season three cast reunion and special features which include a “Mama’s Family” sketch from “The Carol Burnett Show” from 1975 which revolves around Bubba, plus featurettes on Allan Kayser and his character of playing Bubba and how he was cast for the role.
Overall, “Mama’s Family” was one of the more delightful comedy series in syndication back in the mid-to-late 80′s. And watching them today, the episodes are just as fun now as they were back in 1986-1987.
If you are a fan of the series, “Mama’s Family: The Complete Third Season” is a comedy series worth recommending!
“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut” has a lot of action but also emotion and soul and it has been awhile since we had episodes that showcased Naruto, For those who have long followed the adventures of Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura and seeing how difficult things have become for both Naruto and Sakura, as they watch their ally/friend Sasuke becoming evil. Important choices will need to be made…but how will Naruto and Sakura approach the situation? “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!
Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut
DURATION: Episodes 206-218 (300 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Bilingual (Japanese & English), English Subtitles
COMPANY: Shonen Jump/Viz Media
RATED: Rated T for Older Teen
Release Date: January 14, 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
Madara has declared war on the shinobi world! The Kage unite to form the Allied Shinobi Forces with the Raikage as their leader. While the villages prepare for battle, Sakura forms a team to go after Sasuke, secretly planning to take him out herself! But Sasuke has his own plans, and his confrontation with Danzo confirms the truth about the destruction of the Uchiha Clan.
Where once he plotted revenge against his brother, Sasuke now turns his anger toward the Leaf Village, and only one person has any chance of changing his mind: Naruto!
With the Leaf Ninja rebuilding their village after the destruction left behind by Pain and after Naruto’s defeat of Pain, as everyone tries to welcome normalcy to their village, members begin to think of various flashbacks of old missions from the old Team 7 (led by Kakashi Hatake and consisted of Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno).
From episodes of Team 7 running into various obstacles, trying to catch Mr. Ostrich or people remembering how Naruto made a difference in their lives, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15 – Original & Uncut” is a volume that features the past adventures of Naruto and friends.
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.
And as things continue to become dire, the leaders of various countries consider uniting for this important cause to prepare themselves of what may be the next Shinobi war.
With “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut”, the story takes place after Pain has tried to destroy the Konoha village and Hokage Lady Tsunade uses up all her energy to summon Katsuyu to protect the village but in exchange for the powerful summon, she has now gone into a coma and Danzo of the Black Ops (a rival that Tsunade has never trusted) has now been appointed as sixth hokage in Tsunade’s place.
Raikage has summoned all Ninja leaders to come to Gokage summit but immediately, Sasuke Uchiha has now shown up. Along with his friends, they start attacking those who have attended the summit. Meanwhile, the Konoha ninjas (Naruto’s friends) try to convince Sakura to tell Naruto that she cares about him, so he can stop looking for Sasuke.
Naruto can’t understand why Sakura would tell him that she loved him when she really loves Sasuke but he learns the truth. She does not want Naruto to fight her battles, she has depended on him for so long that this time, she wants to do the right thing for the Konoha village and that is to take care of Sasuke on her own.
When Naruto and friends find out what happened at the Gokage summit and what Sasuke has done, Naruto starts to realize that the friendship and bond of protecting Sasuke has now changed as many of his friends are planning to sacrifice their life in taking out Sasuke, including the one person that he knows loves Sasuke… Sakura.
Meanwhile, Sasuke takes on Danzo in a fight to the death. Who will win, who will die? But most of all, what happens when Sakura tries to eliminate Sasuke? Will she get herself killed or will Naruto and friends stop her in time?
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 15 – Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.
As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 15″ 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.
“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 3:
- Storyboards – View through the storyboards of episodes featured in DVD volume 17 of “Naruto Shippuden”.
- Omake – Short omake (after-episode) scenes.
- Art Gallery – Featuring sketches which can be viewed via forwarding using your remote or arrow keys on your computer.
- Clean Opening/Ending
- English Credits
- More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers
What can I say about “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut” but….”WOW!”
I can’t emphasize more about how awesome the storyline for “Naruto Shippuden” is getting! as not only do we get to see how powerful Sasuke has become, but to see how much he has fell to the darkside.
If anything, a perfect juxtaposition of Sasuke would be of “Star Wars” Anakin Skywalker, a person who wants so much power that he would side with pure evil to do so and his actions in this latest volume are surprising but also a reminder to loyal fans of “Naruto” that the Sasuke Uchiha we knew back then, he’s gone. He is now becoming one of the most feared antagonist of the series…possibly?
Also, for the first time, I think Naruto realizes how evil Sasuke has become and learns that if Sakura is able to kill the person she loves because he has become evil, her sacrifice is for love. For Naruto, it’s a difficult situation because Sasuke is his true friend but can he do what Sakura has done and kill his best friend for the purpose of doing so because he is a good friend and doesn’t want to see him fall lower towards the dark side?
And of course, the battle between Danzo and Sasuke is surprising, action-packed and was exciting! As well as a battle between Killer Bee vs. Kisame!
So, all I can say is that if you enjoy “Naruto Shipppuden” and have been following this series since the beginning, you’re in for a treat as things are starting to heat up!
As for the DVD set, you get a total of 13 episodes (which is part of season 10 in Japan) and a the typical special features such as storyboard, production art and the ending omake for each episode.
“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut” has a lot of action but also emotion and soul and it has been awhile since we had episodes that showcased Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura and how difficult things have become for both Naruto and Sakura, seeing their good friend become so evil. Rescuing him now, may have to be by ending his life. Can Naruto and Sakura do just that? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
So, with that being said, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 17 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!