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The Tiger (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Hoon-jung Park’s “The Tiger” is an amazing, yet violent film that features a wonderful performance by actor Choi Min-shik. And the collaboration of both men have no doubt led to creation of a unique and wonderful film. Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 NEXT ENTERTAINMENT WORLD & SANAI PICTURES. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Tiger

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 140 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dub, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: August 9, 2016


Directed by Hoon-jung Park

Written by Hoon-jung Park

Produced by Min-jung Park

Executive-Producer: Jae-Duk Han

Line Producer: Minkyung Shin

Cinematography by Moo-gae Lee

Music by Yeong-wook Jo

Art Direction: Hwa-sung Cho

Costume Design by  Sang-gyeong Jo


Starring:

Min-sik Choi as Chun Man-duk

Man-sik Jeong as Goo-gyeong

Sang-ho Kim as Chil-goo

Eun-woo Lee as Mai-nyeon

Mi-ran Ra as Chil-goo’s wife

Hyun Seung-min as Sun-yi

Yoo-bin Sung as Suk-yi

Jung Suk Won as Military Officer Ryu

Ren Osugi as Govt. Official Maezono

Hong-pa Kim as Herbal shop owner


An ex-sharpshooter for the Kingdom of Korea (CHOI Min-sik, OLDBOY) is hunting the country’s last tiger. But Japanese forces and vicious local poachers also seek “The Four-Legged Mountain Lord,” and will stop at nothing to claim their prey.


From filmmaker Hoon-jung Park (“The Showdown”, “New World”) comes his latest film “The Tiger”.

Starring veteran Min-sik Choi (“Oldboy”, “I Saw the Devil”, “Lucy”, “Lady Vengeance”), Man-sik Jeong (“Miracle in Cell No. 7”, “Veteran”, “Breathless”), Sang-ho Kim (“Sea Fog”, “The Happy Life”, “The Big Swindler”), Eun-woo Lee (“Moebius”, “Gyeongju”, “Romantic Heaven”), Ren Osugi (“Fireworks”, “The Twilight Samurai”, “Audition”, “Sonatine”) and Yoo-Bin Sung.

And now, “The Tiger” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film begins in 1925.  Living in the mountains in Mt. Jirisan is Chun Man-duk (portrayed by Min-shik Choi), a man who hunts for food for his wife and son and has a reputation for being one of Korea’s top shooters.

One day, while hunting, Chun Man-duk went hunting and comes across a tiger and shoots it.

Fastforward, more than a decade later, during a time when Korea is now occupied by Japan.

The Japanese High Government Official Maezono are after the illusive great tiger of Mt. Jirisan and pressures Japanese Military Officer Ryu (portrayed by Jung Suk-won) to capture the tiger.

Meanwhile, hunters led by Goo-Gyeong (portrayed by Jung Man-sik) have been trying to capture the “one-eyed tiger” but only have been able to kill its mate and two cubs.

And as Maezono is to go back to Japan, he orders his Japanese Military Officer Ryu to get the one-eyed tiger immediately before he leaves.

The Japanese military wants Chun Man-duk to capture it for its skin but for some reason, he no longer hunts and prefers to live in a hut raising his 16-year-old son Syeok (portrayed by Sung Yoo-bin).

Each time Syeok asks his father about the Japanese going after tigers, his father tells him about the mountain gods and refuses to discuss it.

The real reason is because one day, while hunters were trying to capture the one-eyed tiger, they led the tiger into town.  As Chun-man Duk was trying to hunt for it, he accidentally shot and killed his wife instead.  Thus the guilt has prevented him from hunting since that day and he has tried to keep the truth away from his son.

But for Syeok, when he finds out his girlfriend is being forced by her parents to marry another boy, because Syeok and his father are broke.

Determined to prove to his father that he is grown-up and can make his own money and hunt for the tiger, Syeko goes to Japanese Military Officer Ryu to join the hunting team led by Goo-Gyeong.

While they know the boy is to young and inexperienced, they feel that with Syeok joining, chances are that Chun Man-duk will be forced to help the hunters capture the tiger.

But what happens when Syeok joins the hunters in their major hunt for the one-eyed tiger?


VIDEO:

“The Tiger” is presented in 1080p High Definition. As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is good as there is a good amount of grain. Upclose details are very good and skintones are natural (especially the scars on the hunters face or the snow-burned skin of certain individuals), black levels are nice and deep.  Even the CG of the tigers are well-done and look realistic.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Tiger” is presented in Korean 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  Dialogue is crystal clear, as with the musical score.  There is great use of surround sound during the more action-driven scenes involving artillery blasts, gun shots, the sound of the pack of wolves or tigers growling.  Lossless audio for this film is great!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Tiger” comes with a theatrical trailer.


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When it comes to Korean cinema, I have grown accustomed to watching Min-sik Choi films and knowing that with each film, you are going to get something well-written, violent and sometimes, a film that can be quite dark.

While many will be familiar with Min-sik Choi films such as “Old Boy”, I think that I will remember the first time I watched Choi’s work through the film “Swiri” and with each film, I learned throughout the years, we are going to get something unique and different.

And with his latest film “The Tiger” directed by Hoon-jung Park (who is known for writing film such as “I Saw the Devil” and “The Unjust” and directing “New World”), the collaboration of both men is wonderful.

Without spoiling anything major about the film, the film revolves around the Japanese military expecting  Korean hunters to kill and bring back the great one-eyed tiger.

Anyone who has tried, have been savagely killed by the tiger.

But for Japanese High Government Official Maezono, who is fascinated by tigers, before he leaves to Japan, he wants possession of the great tiger’s skin.

With Japanese Military Officer Ryu’s career on the line, he wants the hunters to do all that is necessary to catch the tiger.

But also knowing that one man, who is known for his shooting and hunting skills is important to be involved in the hunt group.

Unfortunately, that man, Chun Man-duk, has stopped hunting and is a family man raising his teenage son.  For Chun Man-duk, he looks at hunting as the will of the mountain and appeasing the mountain gods, as many of the locals living in the mountains believe in as well.

But because Chun Man-duk has lived a life of poverty and is quite content with his lifestyle, his son Ryeok is not.  Especially now that his girlfriend’s mother is wanting her daughter to marry a boy who comes from a family with money.

Wanting to prove that he is a man and that his father had taught him enough about hunting, Ryeok enlists himself with the Japanese military to join the hunters in their next major hunt for the great one-eyed tiger.

Again, I am not going to spoil the storyline at all, but I will say that director/writer Hoon-jung Park has taken great care in the storyline and not reduce it to any fluff or happy moments, but to show the savagery of hunting, the work of karma and for those who have researched or read traditional Asian stories about respecting the land or its gods, these details are interwoven with the storyline.

Protagonist Chun Man-duk is a man of the land and believes in the tales, while his son does not and just wants to live a normal life like everyone else and wants his father to not live this poor life, picking herbs.

It’s no doubt a struggle, not just with nature but any parent can see how either way is justified.

But what is interesting is how the film shows the mutual respect between Chun Man-duk and the great one-eyed tiger.  And slowly giving viewers tidbits of information of this respect between man and beast but also knowing that karma works in unique ways.

The performance by actor Choi Min-shik is fantastic but credit should also be given to the direction by Hoon-jung Park, the cinematography by Mo-gae Lee but also the visual effects, especially its realistic looking tigers and wolves.

The Blu-ray release features fantastic picture quality and because the number of action sequences, including sequences involving artillery, these sound great for its lossless soundtrack.  Unfortunately, there are no special features included but a theatrical trailer.

Overall, Hoon-jung Park’s “The Tiger” is an amazing, yet violent film that features a wonderful performance by actor Choi Min-shik.  And the collaboration of both men have no doubt led to creation of a unique and wonderful film.

Highly recommended!

 

Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

ouat5th

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series currently on television, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-produced, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly. It’s that good! “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 ABC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season

TV SEASON AIR DATE: 2015-2016

DURATION: Episodes 89-111 (989 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: abc studios

RATED: TV PG LV

Release Date: August 16, 2016


Directed by Dean White, Ralph Hemecker, Ron Underwood, Romeo Tirone, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Eagle Egilsson, Billy Gierhart, Alrick Riley, Steve Pearlman, Jon Amiel

Written by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Jane Espenson, David H. Goodman, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Robert Hull, Kalinda Vazquez

Produced by Brian Wankum, Samantha Thomas, Kathy Gilroy, Christine Boyland, Robert Hull, Kalinda Vazquez

Co-Producer: Brian Wankum, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Daniel T. Thomsen, Felix hernandez, Jerome Schwartz

Executive Producer: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Steve Pearlman, Andrew Chambliss, David H. Goodman, Helga Ungurait

Co-Executive Producer: David H. Goodman, Liz Tigelaar, Jane Espenson, Kalinda Vazquez, Scott Nimerfro

Associate Producer: Stephen Judge

Supervising Producer: Lauren Gussis

Music by Mark Isham

Cinematography by Stephen Jackson

Edited by Geofrey Hildrew, Mark Goldman, Scot J. Kelly, Richad Glazerman, Joe Talbot Hall, Paul M. Mendoza, Kathryn Panian

Casting by Veronica Collins Rooney, Christina Conover

Production Design by Michael Joy, Steven Wolff

Art Direction by Cheryl Marion, Greg Venturi

Set Decoration by Mark Lane, Mike Warren

Costume Design by Eduardo Castro


Starring:

Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret Blanchard

Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan

Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills

Josh Dallas as David Nolan

Jared Gilmore as Henry Mills

Raphael Sbarge as Archie Hopper

Emilie de Ravin as Belle

Lee Arenberg as Grumpy

Robert Carlyle as Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltski

Meghan Ory as Ruby

Eion Bailey as August W. Booth

Beverly Elliott as Granny/Widow Lucas

Giancarlo Esposito as Sidney Glass

Anastasia Griffith as Kathryn Nolan

Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy

Colin O’Donoghue as Hook

Sean Maguire as Robin Hood

Lee Arenberg as Leroy

Rebecca Mader as Zelena

David-Paul Grove as Doc

Mike Coleman as Happy

Jeffrey Kaiser as Dopey

Barbara Hershey as Cora

Gabe Kouth as Sneezy

Michael Raymond-James as Neal Cassady

Jamie Chung as Mulan

Sarah Bolger as Princes Aurora

Greg Mendell as Ethan Embry

Liam Garrigan as King Arthur

Greg Germann as Hades

Amy Manson as Merida

Barbara Hershey as Cora

Olivia Steele Falconer as Violet


Darkness and Light. One conceals, the other reveals, but each is infinitely seductive. Prepare for the ultimate battle between these epic opposing forces in ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON. When the Savior becomes the “Dark Swan,” the lines between good and evil blur as Emma begins to relish the intoxicating taste of absolute power. Terrified she’ll succumb, Emma and Hook visit Camelot to find the one person who may be able to aid them: Merlin. Unfortunately, King Arthur proves treacherous, and when he joins forces with a vengeful Zelena, Emma and Hook’s hopes are shattered. Now Emma and her entire Storybrooke family must embark on a chilling descent to the Underworld of Hades, where they’ll try to rescue Hook from a fate worse than death… with “help” from Rumplestiltskin. But will any of them survive the journey? Treat yourself to all 23 riveting episodes of Season 5. Plus, indulge your senses with never-before-seen bonus features as you share the romance, relive the magic and unlock the secrets of ONCE UPON A TIME.


As Emma used her light magic to expel the darkness in order to protect the people she loves, including Regina, Emma sacrificed herself to tether her soul to the darkness, leaving a dagger which says “Emma Swan” behind.

In the fifth season of “Once Upon a Time”, Emma has been taken by the Darkness and her friends need to save her.  Meanwhile, Emma is slowly being consumed by the darkness, courtesy of a dark apparition of Rumplestiltskin.

But as Emma’s family and friends try to save her, they realize that they need one with true evil to save her and that is going to Zelena to make it happen.

Meanwhile, in Camelot, Arthur is determined to look for the other piece of Excalibur but how far will Arthur go to get it?

Meanwhile, more antagonists appear in season five as Cruella De Vil, Hades and Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde make their appearance, leading friends and former enemies to team up to take on the new threat.

All this and more in “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season”!

What is “Once Upon a Time” about?

From the creators of “Lost” and “Tron: Legacy” writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz comes a new fantasy-drama television series known as “Once Upon a Time”.

Originally conceived before Kitsis and Horowitz were involved with “Lost”, both men wanted to write a fairtytale and the exploration of other worlds. But with their work on “Lost”, the writers had the opportunity to learn from the process, and while having some allusions to “Lost”, the series also has allusions to well-known Disney films. But the goal for both writers was to take these characters that people are familiar with and to explore the character and get to learn more about them. But most importantly, not retelling the exact same story as what people may be familiar with from the original fairy tale.

With the 22-episode series debuting in October 2011 and a season finale in May of 2012, “Once Upon a Time” was the highest-rated TV drama for Adults 18-49 and was ABC’s biggest debut in five years. As well as being the highest rated non-sports program to air on Sunday nights.

The series has since become one of ABC’s strongest prime time drama series and with a sixth season set to air on ABC later this fall, “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” will be released on Blu-ray in August 2016.

The Original First Season….

“Once Upon a Time” is a series that takes place in the past via the fairy tale timeline and the present timeline.

In the present timeline, we are introduced to Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, “House M.D., “Star Trek”), a tough woman who works in bail bonds and is often busy that she lives alone. Her life changes when a young boy named Henry (portrayed by Jared Gilmore, “Mad Men”, “The Back-Up Plan”) arrives at her home and tells him that he is her son, that she put up for adoption ten years ago.

Emma is shocked because the adoption was supposed to be private and the boy would not be able to find her location, but Emma goes to bring Henry back home in a town known as Storybrooke.

Meanwhile, in the fairy tale time line, Prince Charming arrives to find Snow White dead. When he goes to kiss her on the lips, she is revived and the two are now engaged to be married.

During the day of their wedding, a pregnant Snow White (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin, “Walk the Line”, “A Single Man”) and Prince Charming (portrayed by Josh Dallas, “Thor”, “The Descent, Part 2”) celebrate the wonderful occasion with their friends. But to put a damper on the wedding, Snow White’s evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen (portrayed by Lana Parrilla, “Spiders”, “Boomtown”) wants to make sure that her daughter never has a happy ending and warns everyone that she has placed a curse on everyone and their lives will change forever as there will never be a happy ending.

Worried about their impending doom, there is one man who knows about magic that can give them information to defeat the curse… the imprisoned and vile man, Rumplestiltskin (portrayed by Robert Carlyle, “Trainspotting”, “The Full Monty”).

A man who can grant anything through magic, but to use his magic, the person must pay the price of something they cherish the most. Rumplestiltskin tells Snow White and Prince Charming that the person who can break the curse is their child.

As the curse that the Wicked Queen has cast, has now come to hit the kingdom, with magic, a portal was created for one person to escape and hopefully destroy the curse. Snow White gives birth to a baby named Emma and Prince Charming manages to take the baby to the portal before he is killed by the Evil Queen’s dark army.

In the present time, Henry tells Emma that everyone in Storybrooke is an actual character of the fairy tale and the fairy tale are true stories. Of course, Emma doesn’t believe any of it but tries to play along with what she thinks is Henry’ active imagination. But Henry insists that she has the power to eliminate the curse and the people of Storybrooke will finally remember their true identity.

She wonders why none of these people can leave town but is told that anyone who tries to leave is met with an accident.

When Emma returns Henry back to his home, we learn that his adoptive mother is the mayor of Storybrooke, Regina Mills, who happens to be The Evil Queen.

And Regina does all she can to keep Emma away from her son, but each time Emma wants to leave, Henry escapes from his home to be with Emma. And requests for her to stay at least for one week in Storybrooke and she will see how she can make things change.

In Season Five, so much has changed in Storyville.

Emma Swan is now in a romantic relationship with Captain Killin “Hook” Jones and together they try to take on the challenges that come their way.  Especially now that the two must deal with the threat of the Darkness.

Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin is causing more troubles for everyone, while his love Belle French is not sure she can stay with a man like him.

Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White) and husband David Nolan (Prince Charming) continue to assist their daughter Emma through her troubles but also keep a close eye on their grandson Henry.

Henry is a teenager, in love but also wondering about the concept of magic, especially his own powers.

As for the former antagonist, Regina Mills, she has found love with Robin Hood and with her love for her son and new flame, she has now become good and the evil queen in her is no more.  But her sister, the Wicked Witch of Oz, Zelena is still causing trouble.

But this time around, Emma Swan becomes the “Black Swan” and the threat of Emma being consumed by darkness has become a reality.  Can the group help her return back to normal?  And what events caused her to become evil?

Meanwhile, the evil Hades, the God of Death wants to be closer with Zelena, while Cruella De Vil and Dr. Jeckyll try to find ways to go in the world where the others are living.


VIDEO:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The picture quality for this series is fantastic. With its high production value, one expects a lot for this series and for an ABC drama series, one of the few that has been given a Blu-ray release.

Closeups are very good, showing excellent detail from skin pores to the grime on people’s faces. The location shots are breathtaking, especially during the fairytale sequences and costume design also showcase excellent detail. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and I didn’t see any problems with banding, especially during the scenes which featured a lot of orange or red.

Overall, picture quality for “Once Upon a Time” is fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. The series is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and music. While the series is center and front-channel driven, I did like how surround channels were used at times during the action sequences but primarily you hear the musical score through the surround channels. I wished it was bit more immersive when it comes to its lossless soundtrack but the dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Black Swan” with co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actress Jennifer Morrison.

DISC 2:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Birth” by executive producer/writer David H. Goodman, producer/writer Jerome Schwartz and actor Colin O’Donoghue.

DISC 5:

  • Tales from the Underworld: A Knight with Cruella – (4:19)  A short story featuring Cruell Deville.
  • Merida in Storybrooke – (8:00) Actress Amy Manson discusses playing the character of Merida.
  • The Fairest Bloopers of Them All – (5:55) Outtakes from the fifth season of “Once Upon a Time”.
  • Deleted Scenes – (23:53) Featuring a total of 18 deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Only You” with executive producers/writers David H. Goodman and Andrew Chambliss.
  • Once Celebrates One Hundred – (1:45) The crew celebrates their 100th episode.

EXTRAS:

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” comes with a slipcover and a special postcard.


Unique, captivating and wonderful… ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” continues to be a groundbreaking drama series on primetime television.

High production value, featuring talented writers that come from hit shows such as “LOST” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and utilizing fairy tale characters, the potential is pretty much unlimited of how far the writers can go.

And what adds to the efficacy of season two of “Once Upon a Time” is its talented ensemble cast, cinematography, set and costume design and overall direction.

With so many fairytale stories that have been created, the characters and the potential of new lands are quite endless.

Season five definitely has a theme which focuses on relationships.

Each and everyone has an background story of their past to show what made these characters what they are.

From Emma’s past before she worked in bail bonds, Regina and Zelena’s relationship when they were younger and how their Relationship became strained.  Captain Killian “Hook” also has a story about him and his brother.

The latest character to make an impact in season two on the side of good is the introduction of Merida, the female warrior who wants to take King Arthur down.  And you have the magical Merlin who tries to prevent anyone from obtaining Excalibur.

But we see these family, friends and former enemies working together for the greater good, considering there are new antagonists this time around.

And you also have a few returning characters, both good and bad for season five!

For the first half of the series, we see King Arthur, so corrupted by power in his quest for Excalibur that he doesn’t care of what it will take to get that power.

Then you have Emma who has become the Black Swan, and a darker side of the Emma we have never really seen before.

In the second half of season five, you have a new powerful threat named Hades, you have the return of Cruella De Vil, the cold Mr. Hyde and of course, the always bad (but sometimes good), Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin.

Another big plus is the about this series is its cinematography and location shots. From the beautiful location of shooting in the forest for action sequences to shooting in Vancouver for Storybrooke, you get a combination of beautiful location shots along with small town America. The fairytale storyline is what is most appealing because of its high production value, action sequences and costume design.

And last but not least, the writing of this show is phenomenal. I’m a big fan of Jane Espenson’s work but to also have a few of the writers, especially series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz of “LOST”, another series that I enjoyed immensely is a major plus. Both men had this vision prior to “Lost” and it’s great to see how this series has evolved overtime.  And also, surprising to see actors such as Jared Gilmore, who played the young Henry Mills, now a full-grown teenager and having a love interest.

The writing is captivating, amazingly well-done and definitely a lot of potential for exploration of other characters which can be utilized whenever. But with how season five ends, suffice to say, the antagonists will no doubt have an edge in season six.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is amazing while lossless soundtrack was crystal clear when it came to dialogue and music, I was hoping for it to be a bit more immersive in utilizing the surround channels and LFE a bit more during the more action-driven scenes. As for special features, you do get several audio commentary and a few featurettes.

Overall, “Once Upon a Time” is a fantastic sci-fi drama series. From quality production, costume design, the story, the characters and the performances by the actors, the series is always enjoyable to watch and the writers keep coming up with something fresh and cool, so the series doesn’t go through a lull of banal writing.

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series currently on television, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-produced, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly. It’s that good!

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” is highly recommended!

A Hologram for the King (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

ahologramfortheking

Director Tom Tykwer’s “A Hologram for the King” is quite delightful and it features a powerful performance by Tom Hanks. Unfortunately, the film’s pacing issues prevents the film from becoming a true winner, but yet, I enjoyed the film and definitely recommend it!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Hologram for the King, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: A Hologram for the King

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Some Sexuality/Nudity , Language and Brief Drug Use)

Release Date: August 9, 2016


Directed by Tom Tykwer

Novel by David Eggers

Written by Tom Tykwer

Produced by Stefan Arndt, Gary Goetzman, Arcadiy Golubovich, Tim O’Hair, Uwe Schott

Co-Producer: Karim Debbagh, Leonard Glowinski

Executive-Producer: Gero Bauknecht, Claudia Bluemhuber, Bill Johnson, Gaston Pavlovich, Shervin Pishevar, Jim Seibel

Associate Producer: Alex Boden

Cinematography by Frank Griebe

Music by Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer

Edited by Alexander Berner

Casting by Noureddine Aberdine, Michelle Guish, Avy Kaufman, Gaby Kester, Mounir Sagula

Production Design by Uli Hanisch

Art Direction by Abdellah Baadil Daniel Chour, Kai Koch, Marco Trentini

Costume Design by Pierre-Yves Gayraud


Starring:

Tom Hanks as Alan

Alexander Black as Yousef

Sarita Choudhury as Zahra

Sidse Babett Knudsen as Hanne

Tracey Fairaway as Kit

Jane Perry as Ruby

Tom Skerritt as Ron


Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks delivers one of his most engaging performances as Alan Clay, a recently divorced American businessman who is sent overseas to pitch a state-of-the-art holographic teleconferencing system to a king. As Alan vainly tries to navigate new and unusual customs, he finds himself thrust into a series of wonderful misadventures, and a fateful encounter that changes his life forever.


Tom Tykwer is known for directing and composing the music for films such as “Run Lola Run”, “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”, “The International” and “Cloud Atlas”.

And now, Tykwer returns with his latest film “A Hologram for the King”, based on the novel Dave Eggers (Screenwriter for “Where the Wild Things Are”.

The film stars Tom Hanks (“The Da Vinci Code”, “Forrest Gump”, “Saving Private Ryan”), Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury (“Lady of the Water”, “A Perfect Murder”, “The Hunger Games – Mocking Jay” films), Sidse Babett Knudsen (“Borgen”, “The One and Only”, “The Duke of Burgundy”), Jane Perry (“World War Z”, “The Three Musketeers”) and Tom Skerrit (“Top Gun”, “Alien”, “Ted”).

“A Hologram for the King” revolves around IT consultant Alan Clay (portrayed by Tom Hanks).  Depressed and suffering several issues after losing his family, his home and now, having difficulties at work.

He is in constant stress to perform well and to also make enough to put his daughter into college, let alone deal with health issues that are starting to happen.

Alan now has to go to Saudi Arabia to promote and sell a holographic teleconferencing to the Saudi government’s plan for a upcoming development called the King’s Metropolis of Economy and Trade.

And as Alan deals with the stress and anxiety of having to make the deal happen, his life changes with interactions with his driver Yousef (portrayed by Alexander Black) and his doctor, Zahra (portrayed by Sarita Choudhury) and a culture/lifestyle much different than his own.


VIDEO:

“A Hologram for the King” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor Saudi Arabia day scenes and close ups are full of detail. Skintones look natural. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film. For the most part, picture quality for the film is great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“A Hologram for the King” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue and music driven with ambiance used for the surround channels.  Especially for crowd scenes or scene involving a vehicle (as you can hear the engines of the cars in the surround channels). Overall, the dialogue and music are both are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Hologram for the King” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of a Hologram for the King – (19:55) A behind-the-scenes making of “A Hologram for the King” with interviews with director Tom Tykwer and author Dave Eggers.  Including cast and crew about filming in Saudi Arabia.
  • From Novel to Screen: The Adaptation of a “Hologram for the King” – (11:50) Interviews with director Tom Tykwer and author Dave Eggers and how they collaborated with each other.
  • Perfecting the Culture – (10:08) A featurette about capturing the culture in the film.

EXTRAS:

“A Hologram for the King” comes with a slipcover an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Part of the challenge of reviewing a Tom Hanks film is that while we are accustomed to his acting, which he has won a multitude of awards for.  And starring in films that have also won many awards, the challenge is that you expect quality.

That is quality in relation to production, writing and from Hanks and cast, you expected powerful performances.

Have we been spoiled by Tom Hanks films in the past that the bar has been raised high and we expect nothing but award-winning films?

And how will the actor do with the creative Tom Twyker as director?

Those are some of the questions that I had prior to watching “A Hologram for the King” and a day after watching it and having thought about the film, my feelings were that “A Hologram for the King” benefits from the performance by Tom Hanks, the problem with the film is that there are pacing issues in which certain areas feel a bit rushed.

The story focuses on a depressed, stressed IT salesperson who is in having difficulties in his life and now has the task of trying to sell the Saudi Arabian government in holographic technology.

But the film is primarily how the setting of Saudi Arabia and the people he comes in contact, changes his life.

One thing I was skeptical about is seeing Alexander Black play the character of a Saudi man named Yousef.  While I’m a bit critical of people of Hollywood casting agents and directors not pushing for the hiring of actors and actresses who are of the ethnicity for the specific ethnic role, I will give Adam Black credit for his versatility as an actor and in playing the character of Yousef. There was a worldwide search for the 2nd lead role and he did a pretty solid job of playing the character.

The half-Indian and half-English Sarita Choudhury also did a good job of playing the character Zahra and the doctor who would fall for her patient..

But most importantly, for filmmaker Tom Tykwer to research Saudi Arabian culture, work with people to make the film seem authentic and for the most part, the display of culture and differences in culture which the Hanks character, Alan, has to quickly learn that Saudi Arabia is quite different from the country he came from.

I would love to see more smaller scenes of Alan learning from those in Saudi Arabia of various customs and culture, in order to build upon his willingess to learn and understand the culture and then eventually, building upon Alan starting to really understand Yousef and Zahra’s predicaments and lifestyle.

But there are also details which I felt Tykwer did very well to cover, especially in regards to Alan and Zahra, and a professional woman in Saudi Arabia.

I felt that these relationships of friendship and understanding needed a bit more fleshing out as the transition to its narrative ending felt a little abrupt.

Still, I enjoyed “A Hologram for the King”.  For anyone who has worked in a high-paced environment and the expectations are high and quite often, seeing relationships that do not last, seeing one’s mental breakdown is common.

Part of the challenge from Tykwer was to showcase the present as the character of Alan is stressing about life back home, facing the what if’s that the deal does not happen.  Not only would he be looked down on in his job (and may not have his job, as he is considered a washed-up employee) but he would also not have the financial means to pay for his daughter’s education, which was a major contention in his divorce.

Tom Hanks had to deliver as a salesperson who has succumbed to his stressful environment back home but then starting to see a different culture, which the expectations of these individuals are much different.  Their lives are much different.  But the setting is somewhat new, different and inspiring for him.

I actually enjoyed the message of hope and I also love films that take on the subject of one understanding a different culture.  But the problems are more of how Alan gets from point A to point B but then quickly goes from point C and D and the character dynamics are hindered somewhat from the film’s pacing and it can feel a bit rushed.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality was fantastic.  Lossless audio was crystal clear and there are a few special features included, including a making-of and more.

Overall, director Tom Tykwer’s “A Hologram for the King” is quite delightful and it features a powerful performance by Tom Hanks. Unfortunately, the film’s pacing issues prevents the film from becoming a true winner, but yet, I enjoyed the film and definitely recommend it!

 

The Trust (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

thetrust

“The Trust” is a decent heist film but part of the enjoyment of watching a heist film is its characters and the rush of pulling off that ultimate heist.  But for this film, the characters were not all that appealing and in essence, made the film average and nothing more

Images courtesy of © 2016 Vault Film, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Trust

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Violence and Some Language, Some Sexuality/Nudity and Drug Use)

Release Date: August 2, 2016


Directed by Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer

Written by Benjamin Brewer, Adam Hirsch

Produced by Molly Hassell, Braxton Pope

Co-Producer: Stephanie Pon, Glen Trotiner

Executive-Producer: Charles Auty, Lee Broada, Bill Bromiley, Ted Cawrey, Megan Forde, Arianne Fraser, John Jencks, Julie Kroll, Jason Carter Miller, Delphine Perrier, Jeff Rice, Ness Saban, Simon Williams, Henry Winterstern

Associate Producer: Alexa Seligman, Jay Taylor

Cinematography by Sean Porter

Music by Reza Safinia

Edited by Laura Connelly

Casting by J.C. Cantu

Production Design by  Scott Kuzio

Art Direction by Molly Bailey

Set Decoration by Malorie Folino

Costume Design by Mona May


Starring:

Nicolas Cage as Stone

Elijah Wood as Waters

Sky Ferreira as Woman

Eric Heister as Big Irish Guy

Alexandria Lee as Nina

Ethan Suplee as Detective

Kenna James as Captain Harris

Steven Williams as Cliff

Jerry Lewis as Stone’s Father


Oscar® winner Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood star as Vegas cops who stumble upon the location of a hidden vault belonging to local drug dealers. Immediately, they devise a master plan to make off with the mad stacks of cash they are sure are stored within. But what they find inside puts their lives in grave danger in this action-packed, twist-filled crime-thriller.


From directors, Alex Brewer and brother Benjamin Brewer (“Beneath Contempt”) comes their crime film, “The Trust”.

Written by Benjamin Brewer and Adam Hirsch, “The Trust” stars Nicolas Cage (“National Treasure”, “Leaving Las Vegas”, “Moonstruck”) and Elijah Wood (“Green Street Hooligans”, “The Lord of the Rings” films, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), Sky Ferreira (“The Green Inferno”), Jerry Lewis (“The Nutty Professor”, “The King of Comedy”, “The Bellboy”), Kevin Wisman (“Flipped”) and Steven Williams (“21 Jump Street”, “The Blues Brothers”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.

“The Trust” begins with Sgt. David Waters (portrayed by Elijah Wood) and Lt. Jim Stone (portrayed by Nicolas Cage), both who worked for the Evidence Management unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

But for these two police officers, they both have grown bored with their jobs and are upset that they both are struggling to survive financially.

When Jim starts to do undercover work on a drug dealer, he notices that all their merchandise is being moved to a building and never moved out.

So, the plan by both men to steal the merchandise is hatched, as David acquires blueprints to the building and the two get all the necessary tools to steal the merchandise.

But not all goes as planned when the men break into the building.


VIDEO:

“The Trust” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor Las Vegas day scenes and close ups are full of detail. Skintones look natural. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film. For the most part, picture quality for the film is great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Trust” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue and music driven with ambiance used for the surround channels. There are surround usage during the more action-driven sequences (towards the end of the film).  But the dialogue and music are both are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Trust” comes with the following special features:

  • Filmmakers Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary by Directors Alex and Benjamin Brewer
  • The Dynamics of a Duo: Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood – (5:38) The cast and crew discuss working on the film and putting two mismatched duo to make a more realistic film.
  • The Visuals of Vegas – (5:26) The cast and crew talk about filming in Las Vegas.

EXTRAS:

“The Trust” comes with a slipcover an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


For those who are curious about seeing actors Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood together in a heist drama, will no doubt find the appeal of this film to be rather interesting.

It is no doubt an unusual collaboration that I can’t imagine ever seeing happen, but then again, seeing Elijah Wood as a police sergeant is something I never imagined seeing in a film.

But police films involving total opposites are nothing new.  While we often see it happen in comedies, “The Trust” is definitely not a comedy.

The film revolves around two bored police officers who work in the Evidence Management unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

And these two decide to spice things up by turning to corrupted officers wanting to infiltrate a location where hardcore drug syndicates are hiding out at and bringing mysterious things into this location.

But as Sgt. David Waters (portrayed by Elijah Wood) and Lt. Jim Stone (portrayed by Nicolas Cage) get further into their crime, Waters becomes more hesitant that they walked into something much worse than he had expected.

It doesn’t help much that Stone is rather gung-ho and not caring about the risks, like his partner and then it causes even more problems when Stone starts to go further by killing people.  Thus causing the conundrum between both police officers and you can tell that things are not going to end well between the two.

While not completely predictable, I do give credit to Alex and Benjamin Brewer for taking risks and wanting to try something different by pairing these two actors and in essence, trying to create something real.

The problem with the film is that neither character are interesting to grasp your attention.

One can watch a film such as “Oceans 11” or other similar heist films and gravitate towards the characters because the plot allows for one to be captivated by the character and the heist.

The characters for “The Trust”, I could care less about.  The heist is what I cared about more and seeing how these two would pull things off, despite the tension of discord between both police officers.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture and lossless audio is very good, while special features delves into the creators and cast discussing the film.  An audio commentary is also included.

Overall, “The Trust” is a decent heist film but part of the enjoyment of watching a heist film is its characters and the rush of pulling off that ultimate heist.  But for this film, the characters were not all that appealing and in essence, made the film average and nothing more.

 

The Bronze (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

thebronze

“The Bronze” is downright raw, nasty, vulgar and absolutely hilarious! Actress and the film’s co-writer, Melissa Rauch absolutely shines in this film! If you are in a mood for a comedy that is for a mature audiences, definitely give “The Bronze” a try!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Bronze

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French and Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditiona, French, Korean, Portuguese, Thai and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Sexual Content, Graphic Nudity, Language Throughout and Some Drug Use)

Release Date: August 2, 2016


Directed by Bryan Buckley

Written by Melissa Rauch, Winston Rauch

Produced by Stephanie Langhoff

Executive-Producer: Bryan Buckley, Michael C. Cuddy, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Melissa Rauch, Winston Rauch

Associate Producer: Matt Lefebvre

Cinematography by Scott Henriksen

Music by Andrew Feltenstein, John Nau

Edited by Jay Nelson

Casting by Lillian Pyles

Production Design by David Skinner

Set Decoration by Roxy Toporowych

Costume Design by Michelle MartiniMona May


Starring:

Melissa Rauch as Hope

Gary Cole as Stan

Thomas Middleditch as Ben

Sebastian Stan as Lance

Cecily Strong as Janice

Haley Lu Richardson as Maggie

Dale Raoul as Doris

Dominique Dawes as Herself

Dominique Moceanu as Herself


A decade ago, Hope Ann Greggory (Melissa Rauch) was America’s sweetheart. Her inspired performance on a ruptured achilles at the world’s most prestigious gymnastics tournament clinched an unlikely bronze medal for the U.S. team and brought glory to her hometown of Amherst, Ohio. But in the years since that epic third place victory, Hope hasn’t done a whole lot with her life. Still living in her dad Stan’s (Gary Cole) basement, still sporting her daily uniform of a Team USA gym suit with teeny-bopper bangs, ponytail and scrunchie, she spends her days at the mall milking her minor celebrity for free food and favors. Hope’s routine is upended when she learns that she must coach Amherst’s newest gymnastics prodigy Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson) in order to receive a sizeable financial inheritance. The hard-edged yet insecure Hope is faced with a serious dilemma: does she jeopardize her “hometown hero” status by devotedly training this rising star to achieve the dreams she never could? Or doe


From filmmaker Bryan Buckley (“ASAD”, “Hotel Hell Vacation”) and writers Melissa Rauch (actress on “The Big Bang Theory”) and Winston Rauch comes the American sports comedy, “The Bronze”.

Produced by the Duplass Brothers (Mark and Jay), the film made its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically on March 2016 courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film stars Melissa Rauch, alongside Gary Cole (“Pineapple Express”, “Office Space”, “Taladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”), Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Final Girls”), Sebastian Stan (“Captain America” films, “The Martian”, “Black Swan”), Cecily Strong (“Saturday Night Live”, “Ghostbusters”, “The Boss”) and Haly Lu Richardson (“The Last Survivors”, “Recovery Road”, “The Young Kieslowski”).

And now “The Bronze” will be released on Blu-ray in August 2016.

“The Bronze” revolves around former gymnastics Bronze medalist Hope Annabelle Greggory (portrayed by Melissa Rauch), who tries to live off her celebrity status in the town of Amherst, Ohio.

Unfortunately, Hope is stuck in the past.  All she wears is her Team USA gymnastics gear, watches old footage of herself during her glory days and steals mail from her mailman father Stan (portrayed by Gary Cole).

Hope may seem sweet but in truth, she is verbally cold and brutal, even to her father who tries to help her.

Because both father and daughter survive on Stan’s income, he has warned her daughter that she will no longer have her large allowance and will need to get a job. She is also forbidden to steal postal mail.

But Hope is bitter than a new star gymnast has been born in Amherst, Maggie Townsend (portrayed by Haley Lu Richardson), who happens to be coached by Hope’s former coach, Pavleck (portrayed by Christine Abrahamsen).

When Hope’s former coach commits suicide, a letter arrives and the rules are if Hope can guide Maggie Townsend to the Olympics in Toronto, she will receive a $500,000 inheritance.

At Hope agrees to the job (simply for the inheritance money), she immediately begins sabotaging Maggie’s gymnastics career by having Maggie eat everything fattening and also having Maggie have sex with a boy she likes.

During the day of the visit from the Olympic committee, Hope goes so far to sabotage Maggie into failing by lacing her shake with marijuana.

But when Hope finds out that the person who was sent to Amherst from the Olympic committee is the arrogant Olympic Gold Medalist Lance Tucker (portrayed by Sebastian Stan), when Stan sees what Hope did to Maggie, he threatens to take over as Maggie’s coach.

Seeing that she can lose the inheritance money if she stops training Maggie, Hope convinces Maggie’s mother Janice (portrayed by Cecily Strong) to keep her onboard and that she will do whatever it takes to train Maggie and prepare her for qualifications to the Olympic Games.

But will Hope be able to train Maggie or will her jealousy and bitterness towards Maggie take over her?  And sabotage this young gymnastic stars hopes and dreams?


VIDEO:

“The Bronze” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. Skintones look natural. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film. For the most part, picture quality for the film is great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Bronze” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue and hip hop and Avril Lavigne music with crowd ambiance at competitions used for the surround channels. The dialogue and music are both are crystal clear.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Bronze” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (6:40) Featuring five deleted scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer

As many Americans have watched Melissa Rauch on the popular TV series “The Big Bang Theory”, for those who have wanted to see the actress in a much larger and also mature role, will find “The Bronze” to be to their liking.

Rauch plays the role of a former bronze gymnast who is stuck in the past of her glory moments and is left with nothing but old VHS tapes, her old gymnastics gear and a sweet personality tainted in her older age with a profanity-laced tongue.

Reminiscent of the famous 1996 US Olympics moment of gymnast Kerri Strug, “The Bronze” takes things on a different spectrum of Rauch playing the role of promising gymnast Hope Ann Greggory.  An athlete who won the hearts of millions with her Bronze medal 12-years-ago.

Despite her injury, Hope continued to compete instead of fully heal and it ended her career. Feeling bitter and always trying to relive her past, Hope has nothing but anger towards her father and her old coach because of how her career had ended.

Washed-up and driven to steal and act out, it is causing problem for her father, a US postal worker who is trying to raise the family.  But with Hope stealing mail and money, it leads her father to show tough love and cut out her allowance and make her daughter get a job.

And a job eventually comes her way when her former coach commits suicide and young athlete, Maggie who has true talent to compete in the upcoming Olympics, is without a coach.

And when a letter comes for Hope to become the coach of Maggie and if she successfully does it, she will inherit $500,000.  And of course, the money being the driving force for Hope to be involved, it also becomes a challenge for Hope as she resents seeing another gymnast in her hometown receiving all the attention and everyone forgetting about her.

So, will Hope help Maggie become an Olympic athlete or will she sabotage Maggie’s career?

While I enjoyed the film for its comedy, there are some who may find the film to be degrading.

For one, Hope is arrogant and blunt.  She can’t help but make fun of her former classmate, Ben who has a twitching problem.

She is also a person who is beyond sarcastic and profane and literally, everything that comes out of her mouth is rude, condescending and so wrong at times.

But that’s part of what makes “The Bronze” so fascinating because it plays on the purity of female gymnasts who look angelic and pure on television, and Holly is the complete opposite.

But as you want to root for Maggie, you eventually root for Holly because the antagonist of the film, the even ore arrogant Lance (portrayed by Sebastian Stan) wants Holly to fail miserably.

What I also enjoyed about the film is the focus on women’s gymnastics and even includes a few people from the 1996 women’s US Olympic team in the film such as champion gymnasts Dominique Dawes and Dominique Moceanu.  But also to see good edited cuts in order to make the film’s gymnastics and transitions seem smooth and realistic.

But of course, the film is about the humor, the crazy comedy that may make shock you.  Especially the sex scenes in the film, one that you are immediately introduced to at the start of the film and something even more wilder and a bit unique towards the end of the film.

So, for those who love gymnastics and watching Melissa Rauch on television and are thinking of showing the film to their family, especially children, just know that the film features a lot of profanity, there is nudity and drug use.  So, definitely not a film to watch with kids around.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is great and lossless audio is crystal clear, with the soundtrack being more dialogue and music-driven.  And as for special features, you get deleted scenes but it would have been awesome if an audio commentary with Melissa Rauch and her husband, co-writer Winston Rauch was included.  Especially the usual gag reel and featurette.  But unfortunately, there are no special features included but five deleted scenes and a trailer.

Overall, “The Bronze” is downright raw, nasty, vulgar and absolutely hilarious!  Actress and the film’s co-writer, Melissa Rauch absolutely shines in this film!

If you are in a mood for a comedy that is for a mature audiences, definitely give “The Bronze” a try!

 

The Boy and the Beast (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

boyandthebeast

Mamoru Hosoda has once again created a delightful and entertaining film that is destined to become another classic!  Great storyline, gorgeous art and animation and wonderful performance by both Japanese and English voice talent, “The Boy and the Beast” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Boy and the Beast Film Partners.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Boy and the Beast

DURATION: 119 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: PG-13

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Script by Mamoru Hosoda

Original Story by Mamoru Hosoda

Producers: Takashi Watanabe, Yuichiro Saito

Character Designs by Daisuke Iga, Mamoru Hosoda, Takaaki Yamashita

Art Direction by Takashi Omori, Yohei Takamatsu, Youichi Nishikawa

Art Design by Anri Jojo

Music by Masakatsu Takagi

Anime Production: Studio Chizu


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aoi Miyazaki/Luci Christian as Kyuta (Young)

Kōji Yakusho/John Swasey as Kumatetsu

Shōta Sometani/Eric Vale as Kyuta (Teen)

Haru Kuroki/Morgan Berry as Ichirohiko (Young)

Kappei Yamaguchi/Austin Tindle as Jiromaru (Older)

Kazuhiro Yamaji/Sean Hennigan as Iozan

Lily Franky/Alex Organ as Hyakushūbō

Mamoru Miyano/Austin Tindle as Ichirohiko (Older)

Masahiko Tsugawa/Steve Powell as Grand Master

Momoka Ono/Brittney Karbowski as Jiromaru (Young)

Sumire Morohoshi/Monica Rial as Chiko

Suzu Hirose/Bryn Apprill as Kaede

Yo Oizumi/Ian Sinclair as Tatara


The Boy and the Beast is the latest feature film from award-winning Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children): When Kyuta, a young orphan living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts, he’s taken in by Kumatetsu, a gruff, rough-around-the-edges warrior beast who’s been searching for the perfect apprentice.

Despite their constant bickering, Kyuta and Kumatetsu begin training together and slowly form a bond as surrogate father and son. But when a deep darkness threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into chaos, the strong bond between this unlikely pair will be put to the ultimate test- a final showdown. Can the two finally work together using all of their combined strength and courage? Don’t miss the critically acclaimed film The Boy and The Beast!


It was the animated film that would take Japan by storm.

In 2015, the animated film “Bakemono no Ko” (The Boy and the Beast) which was written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (“Summer Wars”, “Wolf Children”, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”) and produced by Studio Chizu, would go on to earn over $48 million in the box office.  And would be released in the the theaters in the US in March 2016.

And now, “The Boy and the Beast” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

The film revolves around a homeless nine-year-old named Ren.

Ren’s parents are divorced and he has not seen his father, while his mother has passed away.

Refusing to live with his legal guardians, Ren has been living in the streets of Shibuya.  Stealing food and sleeping the alley ways, he thinks about the moments in his life after his mother died.

Meanwhile, in the Beast Kingdom known as Jutengai, the lord has announced that he will retire in order to reincarnate as a deity and is looking for two successors.  It would be either the popular Iozen, father of two kids or the powerful but lazy Kumatetsu.  But the Grandmaster suggests to Kumatetsu that he needs to find an apprentice/disciple in order to succeed him.

Back in Shiibuya, as Ren is trying to survive and avoid the police (who want to send him back to his legal guardians), one day, two hooded figures approach Ren and it happens to be Kumatetsu and his companion, Tatara.  Tatara jokes around that Kumatetsu should take a human to become his apprentice.

Ren is shocked to see that the individuals are not human and Kumatetsu asks Ren if he is willing to become his apprentice.  While not willing, Ren still follows Kumatetsu and he finds himself in the Beast Kingdom and unable to go back home.

Ren is taken by Hyakushubo, an apprentice monk and finds Ren and worries that he accidentally came into the Beast World.  But Kumatetsu shows up and tells Hyakushubo that Ren is his new assistant, shocking both Hyakushubo and Tatara, because no one brings a human into their world, let alone take him as an apprentice.  And Kumatetsu allows Ren to stay at his place.

One day, a battle begins between Iozen and Kumatetsu and Ren sees how everyone is supporting Iozen and Kumatetsu is alone.  Feeling the same as Kumatetsu, Ren cheers for him, despite Kumatetsu losing in the battle.  But because the actual duel of succession has not been officially announced, the battle does not count.

Ren takes in Ren, but because Ren won’t give out his real name, Kumatetsu names the boy, Kyuta.

Ren and Kumatetsu are like oil and water, they often argue and do not get along.  But in truth, both are very similar.  They grew up without parents, they grew up alone and both can understand each other’s pain.

But when the kids from the Beast Kingdom start teasing Kyuta as being weak, Ren decides to follow Kumatetsu’s lead and train together.

Fastforward eight years later and Kyuta has become a wonderful assistant for Kumatetsu and because Kyuta has become stronger, many people want to be trained by Kumatetsu.

But one day, while walking in the Beast Kingdom, Ren finds a way to go back to the human world.  How will life change for him?

And with the big battle between Kumatetsu and Iozen coming soon, who will be the next successor for Jutengai?


VIDEO:

“The Boy and the Beast” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen). The animation features designs that are helped by the talented character designers Daisuke Iga, Takaaki Yamashita and of course, Mamoru Hosoda.  The beautiful, lush backgrounds courtesy of the art direction by Takashi Omoro, Yohei Takamatsu and Youichi Nishikawa. And with Studio Chizu responsible for the animation production, I was very impressed with the overall look of the film.  Gorgeous!

I was struck by how detailed the background art was. How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters. Also, how vibrant colors were, from the blue skies, to the sun going down with the reddish purple haze over the horizon.  Even small details such as flies flying around the light and picture quality is amazing!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Boy and the Beast” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack produced the same results when I was testing scenes. Action sequences utilized the surround channels very well and the voice acting for both soundtracks are fantastic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Boy and the Beast” contains the following special features:

  • Original Teaser
  • Japanese Trailer #1 and #2
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Boy and the Beast” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs of the film. The Blu-ray also comes with an UltraViolet code for those wanting to watch the film on their PC/Mac, tablet or cell phone via Digital HD.


I think that enough years have passed that I can easily say that whenever there is a film that Mamoru Hosoda is part of, especially in a writing and directing capacity, it’s no doubt something special.

You usually see the high expectations of an animated film when it is Studio Ghibli or Makoto Shinkai related but I can easily say that Mamoru Hosoda has earned it with a string of successful films from “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “Summer Wars” and “Wolf Children”, the same can be said about “The Boy and the Beast”.

From a wonderful, captivating story and gorgeous animation and background art, Mamoru Hosoda has no doubt achieve the respect of viewers that his films are successful in Japan.

And with “The Boy and the Beast”, it’s an inspirational tale about a runaway 9-year-old, living on the streets and is given a chance to become an apprentice for the strong, lazy and loud Kumatetsu.

Both have a similar upbringing, brought up alone and no one to be there for them.  But now these two lonely souls have each other, and as much as they are different and are often screaming and arguing at each other, both know that they need each other.  And despite not being human, Kumatetsu is more like a father to Ren (Kyuta).

And their friendship or relationship is no doubt put to the test as Kumatetsu is training for a major battle to become the next lord, Ren finds a way to go back into the human world and discover that his real father is alive but also a twist that leads to a chaotic ending that I never saw coming.

It’s no doubt a wonderful and delightful film that I was quite impressed with its characters and touching storyline.  Granted, the conflicts and characters are not as intricate if compared to Miyazaki film, but nevertheless, I do believe that Mamoru Hosoda manages to capture something magical with “The Boy and the Beast”.

And as the Blu-ray release, the animation for “The Boy and the Beast” is fantastic.  The background art is very detailed and looks gorgeous, while animation as well as character design is on par with other Mamoru Hosoda works.  As for the lossless audio, both soundtracks are fantastic.  Action sequences and crowd ambiance utilizes the surround channels effectively and there is also good use of LFE.

As for special features, there aren’t that many aside from the original teaser and Japanese and U.S. trailers.  The Blu-ray does include an UltraViolet code, which you can watch the film on your PC/Mac, Tablet or phone (as long as you can access Vudu).

As for the PG-13 rating, it’s because there is violence. Actually towards the final half hour of the film, the violence escalates and one of the primary protagonists gets injured badly.  So, this film is surely not appropriate for young children.

Overall, Mamoru Hosoda has once again created a delightful and entertaining film that is destined to become another classic!  Great storyline, gorgeous art and animation and wonderful performance by both Japanese and English voice talent, “The Boy and the Beast” is highly recommended!

 

Kill Zone 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

killzone2

Pou-Soi Cheang’s “Kill Zone 2” is gritty and intense!  It is high adrenaline action from beginning to end, “Kill Zone 2” is an action film that truly kicks ass in many levels and martial arts fans will no doubt be captivated by this film.   Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Sun Entertainment Culture Limited. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kill Zone 2

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 121 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Cantonese, Mandarin and Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dub, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: July 19, 2016


Directed by Pou-Soi Cheang

Screenplay by Lai-yin Leung, Yin Wong

Produced by Paco Wong, Wilson Yip

Associate Producer: Michael Selby

Executive-Producer: Yi-Qi Chen, Alvin Chow, Alex Tong, Dong yu

Cinematography by Kenny Tse

Music by Ken Chan, Kwong Wing Chan

Edited by David M. Richardson

Production Design: Horace Ma

Casting by Kimberly Hardin, Natasha Ward

Production Design by Niko Villaivongs

Set Decoration by Azul Hicks

Costume Design by Bruce Yu


Starring:

Tony Jaa at Chatchai

Jing Wu as Chan Chi-Kit

Simon Yam as Chan Kwok-Wah

Jin Zhang as Ko Hung

Louis Koo as Hung Mun-Gong

Ken Lo as Wong Kwong

Jun Kung as Hung Mun-Biu

Dominc Lam as Cheung Chun-Tung

Babyjohn Choi as Kwok Chun-Yat

Wai Ai as Dai-Hau

Philip Keung as Fan Ging-Hung

Andrew Ng as Uncle On


When an undercover cop gets too close to revealing the mastermind of a drug syndicate, his cover is blown. Double-crossed and under a false identity, he’s thrown into a Thai prison, where a guard discovers the inmate – claiming he’s a cop – is a bone marrow match for his dying daughter…and his warden may have an even deadlier operation hidden within the prison walls.
In this giddily frenetic follow-up (though not a sequel) to modern martial arts epic KILL ZONE (aka SPL: SHA PO LANG), action icons Tony Jaa (ONG BAK, THE PROTECTOR) Wu Jing (WOLF WARRIOR) and Zhang Jin (IP MAN 3) team up with Hong Kong megastars Simon Yam and Louis Koo for a breakneck story of dirty cops, prison riots, and black market organ transplants, all brought together by a non-stop series of inventive, bone-crunching setpieces.


killzone2-c

In 2005, the action film SPL: Sha Po Lang (a.k.a. “Kill Zone”) starring Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and Simon Yam was released in theaters and was the top earning film for several weeks in Hong Kong.

Fastforward to 2015 and the sequel “SPL II: A Time for Consequences” (a.k.a. “Kill Zone 2”)  directed by Cheang Pou-soi (“Accident”, “Motorway”) and written by Lai-yin Leung (“Ip Man 3”, “As the Light Goes Out”) and Ying Wong was released in theaters.

Featuring a new story but reprising the roles by Wu Jing (“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”, “Shaolin”, “Wolf Warrior”) and Simon Yam (“Ip Man”, “Election”, “PTU”), the second film also stars Tony Jaa (“Ong-bak” films, “Furious 7”), Jin Zhang (“Ip Man 3”, “The Grandmaster”, “The Bounty”) and Louis Koo (“Drug War”, “Election”, “Triad Election”, “Flash Point”).

And the film will be released on Blu-ray in July 2016 courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film focuses on several people.  Kit (portrayed by Wu Jing) is an undercover copy who becomes a drug addict in order to infiltrate a crime syndicate that has been kidnapping people and sending them to Thailand, where they are held by corrupt prison warden Ko Hung (portrayed by Jin Zhang) in hidden cells, are killed and their organs are sold on the black market.

The mastermind is Hung Mun-Gong (portrayed by Louis Koo), who has a rare heart condition and needs to undergo a heart transplant but the only person that can give him a matching heart is his younger brother.

So, Hung sends his men to kidnap his brother but the kidnapping goes wrong as Kit is able to relay the details to his uncle, Chan Kwok-Wah (portrayed by Simon Yam) of the police force.

While Hung’s brother is accidentally shot, he is retrieved and kept by the Hong Kong police, meanwhile Kit is kept by Hung’s men and sent to Thailand where he is held in prison for a life sentence by the corrupt prison warden, Ko Hung.

Meanwhile, in the prison is the good-natured prison guard Chatchai (portrayed by Tony Jaa) who is desperately trying to save his daughter Chatchai who has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant to survive.

But as desperate he is to save his daughter, he learns about Ho Kung’s secret rooms of people victims being kept inside.  One young girl who can save his daughter’s life.

Will Chatchai continue to serve Ho Kung after discovering the illegal activities in the prison?  Will Chan Kwok-Wah be able to rescue his nephew Kit from the Thailand prison?  And will young Chatchai be saved?


killzone2-d

VIDEO:

“Kill Zone 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is good as there is a good amount of grain.  Upclose details are very good and skintones are natural, black levels are nice and deep.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kill Zone 2” is presented in Cantonese, Mandarin and Thai 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and there is also an English dub soundtrack. While the lossless audio manages to utilize the actions sequences, from gun shots to vehicle crashes to just pure fighting chaos and the ambiance of various locations utilize the surround channels with efficacy.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kill Zone 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Making Of – Featuring three segments (about two minutes each): The Story, The Fights and The Vision
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring eight deleted scenes.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Kill Zone 2”.

EXTRAS:

“Kill Zone 2” comes with a slipcover.


killzone2-b

When the original “SPL” film was released, the fact that it starred two martial arts legends, Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung together in a film definitely made it an anticipated film.

But when you have a sequel without its two stars, how will you improve on the original, if possible?

The answer was bring in Thailand’s well-known martial artist, Tony Jaa and create a storyline that would feature the return of Wu Jing and Simon Yam and find a bridge between Hong Kong and Thailand for its next storyline.

And here we are with the second SPL film a.k.a. “Kill Zone 2”.

A storyline that deals with abducted children from Hong Kong, being sent to Thailand and being kept in the secret walls by a corrupt prison warden, who kills them and sells their organs to the black market.

Wu Jing plays the role of the Hong Kong undercover detective who manages to infiltrate the Thailand prison, but the journey to get there is not easy as it would require becoming a drug addict and putting his own life at risk.

Running the operation is his uncle, played by Simon Lam who does all he can to protect his nephew but knows that greater things are at stake.

And then you have Tony Jaa as Chatchai, a prison guard and loving father for his daughter who needs a bone marrow transplant due to her leukemia.

Louis Koo plays the role of a Hung, a man who is responsible for the syndicate that kidnaps the children and this time, he is dying and wants his younger brother’s organs, so he devises a plan for his men to kidnap his younger brother and send him to Thailand but the plan is thwarted by the Hong Kong police and the younger brother is retrieved by Hong Kong police, while Kit is taken and imprisoned in the Thailand prison.

For these men, they come from different paths but those paths start to converge and things quickly become chaotic.

As the film tries to tell the story from different vantage points and timelines, at times, things can get a little confusing.  But once the storyline plots start to converge, the story starts to make sense.

The fight choreography is fantastic and while you expect physicality from Tony Jaa, both Wu Jing and Zhang Jin were equally impressive.  But its the fight choreography that was amazing to watch and in someways, it was reminiscent to the classic Jet Li martial art films.

Louis Koo was also surprising because he is not even recognizable in the film and I didn’t even know he was in the film until I watched the special features.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is good as there is a good amount of grain.  Upclose details are very good and skintones are natural, black levels are nice and deep.  While the lossless audio manages to utilize the actions sequences and ambiance of various locations with efficacy.  There are also a few special features such as the making of the film, deleted scenes and more.

Pou-Soi Cheang’s “Kill Zone 2” is gritty and intense!  It is high adrenaline action from beginning to end, “Kill Zone 2” is an action film that truly kicks ass in many levels and martial arts fans will no doubt be captivated by this film.   Recommended!

The Perfect Match ( a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

perfectmatch

“The Perfect Match” is delightful, enjoyable and fun.  While the film may not be deep or wonderful, and is predictable, it’s still a romantic comedy worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Perfect Match LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Perfect Match

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Violence and Some LanguageSexuality, Some Nudity and Language Throughout)

Release Date: July 19, 2016


Directed by Billie Woodruff

Written by Brandon Broussard, Gary Hardwick

Screenplay by Dana Verde

Produced by Yaneley Arty, Alex Avant, Otis Best, Johnson Chan, Shakim Compere, Terrence Jenkins, Paula Patton, Douglas Shaffer

Co-Producer: Kimberly Hardin, Tamanna Shah

Executive-Producer: Queen Latifah, Stephanie Rennie, Lisa Reppert, Vincent Reppert, Jacob York

Cinematography by Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

Music by Kurt Farquhar

Edited by Michael Jablow

Casting by Kimberly Hardin, Natasha Ward

Production Design by Niko Villaivongs

Set Decoration by Azul Hicks

Costume Design by Janelle Nicole Carothers


Starring:

Terrence Jenkins as Charlie

Paula Patton as Sherry

Kali Hawk as Karen

Lauren London as Ginger

Brandy Norwood as Avatia

Cassie Ventura as Eva

Donald Faison as Rick

Robert Christopher Riley as victor

Layla Jama as Dana

Dascha Polanco as Pressie

Beau Casper Smart as Abram

French Montana as French Montana

Joe Pantoliano as Marty

Steven Daniel Brun as Kareem

Timothy DeLaGhetto as Timothy DeLaGhetto


Charlie (Terrence J) is a bachelor who’s convinced that relationships are dead despite attempts by his therapist sister (Paula Patton) and his friends to tell him otherwise. On a bet, he decides to stay with one woman for one month to prove that he is immune to love. Soon, he meets the beautiful and mysterious Eva (Cassie Ventura) and coaxes her into a casual affair. But as Charlie spends more time with Eva, he begins to question whether he may actually want more than just a one-night-stand.


Billie Woodruff (director of “Honey”, “Beauty Shop”, “Bring It On: Fight to the Finish”) returns with a romantic comedy titled “The Perfect Match”.

Written by Brandon Broussard, Gary Hardwick (“Deliver us from Eva”, “The Brothers”) and a screenplay by Dana Verde, “The Perfect Match stars Terrence Jenkins (“Battle of the Year”, “Entourage”, “Think Like a Man Too”), Paula Patton (“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”, “Deja Vu”, “Precious”), Kali Hawk (“Brides Maids”, “Couples Retreat”, “Get Him to the Greek”), Lauren London (“I Love You, Beth Cooper”, “The Game”), Brandy Norwood (“Moesha”, “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer”), Cassie Ventura (“Step Up 2: The Streets”), Donald Faison (“Scrubs”, “Remember the Titans”, “Clueless”), Robert Christopher Riley (“The Bourne Legacy”, “Hit the Floor”), Dascha Polanco (“Joy”, “Orange is the New Black”, “The Cobbler”) and Beau Casper Smart (“Step Up 3D”, “Street”, “Honey 2”).

The film was produced by Queen Latifah’s company, Flavor Unit entertainment and will be released on Blu-ray in July 2016.

The film revolves around music exec, photographer and playboy named Charlie (portrayed by Terrence Jenkins) who is not into relationships or commitment and tends to take part in one night stands.

Meanwhile, his friends Victor (portrayed by Robert Christopher Riley) and Ginger (portrayed by Lauren London) are getting married, while his buddy Rick (portrayed by Donald Faison) and Pressie (portrayed by Dascha Polanco) are trying to have a child.  And they all wonder when Charlie will grow up and get into a relationship.

Even Charlie’s sister Sherry (portrayed by Paula Patton), a psychologist tries to get her brother to open up of why he has difficulties getting into a relationship.

But one day, Charlie meets his match, a mysterious woman named Eva (portrayed by Cassie Ventura) and Charlie starts to contemplate on having a relationship with her.


VIDEO:

“The Perfect Match” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. Skintones look natural. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film. For the most part, picture quality for the film is great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Perfect Match” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue and music driven with ambiance used for the surround channels.  But the dialogue and music are both are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Perfect Match” comes with the following special features:

  • Chillin’ Wit the Perfect Crew – Cast & Directors Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary by director Billie Woodruff, actor Terrence Jenkins, Cassie Ventura, Lauren London and Donald Faison.
  • Making the Perfect Match – (10:21) The cast and crew discuss working on the film and wanting a film like “Boomerang”.
  • What’s Love Without comedy? – (5:03) The cast talk about the comedy in the film.
  • Let the Good Times Roll – (1:22) The dance sequences in the film.

EXTRAS:

“The Perfect Match” comes with a slipcover an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


What I enjoy seeing today is seeing smaller production companies creating their own content.

In the case of “The Perfect Match”, it was great to see Queen Latifah’s, Flavor Unit Entertainment company come and produce a romantic comedy with primarily an African American cast and creating a film that I found delightful, entertaining and a lot of fun.

I have really enjoyed comedies such as “Think Like a Man”, “Think Like a Man too”, “Jumping the Broom” that touch upon relationships and also paying respect to classics such as “Boomerang”, “Love Jones”, “The Best Man” to name a few.

The film revolves around a playboy named Charlie who never sees himself getting into a relationship.

While his friends are getting married or trying to have children, for Charlie, he just loves beautiful women.

But when he meets the beautiful Eva, she is also a person that doesn’t want a relationship and Charlie starts to find himself attracted to her.  To the point that he wants more….include a relationship?

Featuring a fun and enjoyable cast with solid chemistry, while I enjoyed the film, I do admit that the film is predictable and compared to other romantic comedies, for those wanting something deep or something wonderful, “The Perfect Match” doesn’t reach that height and coming a bit short.

Partly because the reason is that the protagonist, Charlie, can really be a jerk at times and you just don’t feel like rooting for him or whatever he has going on with Eva.  Especially the way he treats people including his friends.

But I did enjoy the film, its humorous moments and the cast.

As for the Blu-release, picture quality is solid, lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music and you get a few entertaining special features.

Overall, “The Perfect Match” is delightful, enjoyable and fun.  While the film may not be deep or wonderful, and is predictable, it’s still a romantic comedy worth watching.

 

I Am Wrath (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

iamwrath

Chuck Russell’s “I Am Wrath” may not have had a theatrical release, but it’s one of the very good recent direct-to-video action films that I have watched and really enjoyed in awhile.  If you love action/vengeance type of films, you’ll no doubt enjoy “I Am Wrath”.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Saban Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: I Am Wrath

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Violence and Some Language)

Release Date: July 26, 2016


Directed by Chris Russell

Story by Yvan Gauthier, Paul Sloan

Adaptation by Randy Brown

Produced by DeVon Franklin, T.D. Jakes, Joe Roth

Executive-Producer: Matthew Hirsch, Zack Roth, Derrick Williams

Cinematography by Checco Varese

Music by Carlo Silotto

Edited by Emma E. Hickox

Production Design: David Sandefur

Art Direction by Doug Fick

Set Decoration by Brana Rosenfeld

Costume Design by Mary Jane Fort


Starring:

John Travolta as Stanley

Christopher Meloni as Dennis

Amanda Schull as Abbie

Sam Trammell as Det. Gibson

Patrick St. Esprit as Gov. Meserve

Rebecca De Mornay as Vivian

Asante Jones as Det. Walker

Paul Sloan as Lemi K

Luis Da Silva Jr. as Charley

Jordan Whalen as Mike


John Travolta is Stanley Hill, a former Black Ops agent who witnessed his wife’s death at the hands of a street gang. When corrupt cops let the prime suspect walk, Stanley takes the law into his own hands. Joined by a former comrade-in-arms (Christopher Meloni), Stanley uncovers a conspiracy that leads to the upper ranks of government, as he heads toward a guns-blazing, take-no-prisoners showdown for justice.


From Chris Russell, the director of “The Mask”, “Eraser”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”, “The Scorpion Kings” comes his latest action film “I Am Wrath”.

Featuring a story by Yvan Gauthier and written by Paul Sloan, “I Am Wrath” stars John Travolta (“Pulp Fiction”, “Grease”, “Face/Off”), Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Man of Steel”, “42”), Amanda Schull (“Center Stage”, “12 Monkeys”, “J. Edgar”), Sam Trammell (“True Blood”, “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem”, “Autumn in New York”), Patrick St. Esprit (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, “Super 8”, “Independence Day: Resurgence”) and Rebecca De Mornay (“Risky Business”, “Wedding Crashers”, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”.

The direct-to-video film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in July 2016.

The film begins with an introduction to the violence that has corrupted Ohio.  And Gov. Meserve (portrayed by Patrick St. Esprit) is giving a speech about how he cut crime in the state.  When the people want to know more about getting clean water and stopping the pipeline.

We then see daughter, Abbie (portrayed by Amanda Schull) telling her mom, Vivian (portrayed by Rebecca De Mornay) that she is famous because her project was discussed on television.  But Vivian talks about how she’s just doing the numbers for the secretary of the governor.

The film then cuts to Vivian going to the airport to pickup her husband Stanley (portrayed by John Travolta), an unemployed engineer who wentt to California for a job interview.

Excited about the possibility of getting a new job, as the two are walking back to their vehicle, a man comes asking for money.

Stanley refuses and then we see the man along with two other men knocking Stanley out and then murdering Vivian.

As Stanley awakes to find out his wife is dead, Det. Gibson (portrayed by Sam Trammell) and Det. Walker (portrayed by Asante Jones) works with Stanley to learn about the assailants.

At the funeral of Vivian, a priest gives Stanley a bible and as Stanley is not a religious man, he throws the bible and the pages that the book opens to is quotes from Jeremiah 6:11 (But I am full of the wrath of the LORD, and I cannot hold it in. “Pour it out on the children in the street and on the young men gathered together; both husband and wife will be caught in it, and the old, those weighed down with years).

When Stanley is brought back to a police lineup and sees the man who was asking for money, the police don’t do anything and let the man go.

Upset that the police didn’t do anything to stop the men, Stanley goes to his closet and looks at the wall.  He punches down the wall and inside is a bag, with a phone and weapons.  We learn that Stanley is a former Black Ops agent and he promised Vivian to leave that life before they got married.

Stanley calls up another former Black Ops member, Dennis (portrayed by Christopher Meloni), who has become a barber but behind the walls is a stash of weapons and gadgets. And Stanley goes to him for intel on the men who killed his wife but also to access weaponry.

As Dennis cautions Stanley about vengeance, Stanley tells him he wants justice for Vivian.  And Dennis agrees to help his friend out.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, we learn that Det. Gibson and Det. Walker have been working with crime lord Lemi K (portrayed by Paul Sloan) and the lowering of crime is not because of Gov. Meserve’s stance on crime but that the governor and the police officers have been working with Lemi K, protecting his people and allowing his drug deals in order to give people of Ohio, the sense that he has cut crime in the state.

But what these corrupt officials, police officers and Lemi K are not aware is that Stanley is determined to put friction in their relationship as he intends to go after those responsible for killing his wife.


VIDEO:

“I Am Wrath” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. Skintones look natural, black levels are nice and deep.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film. For the most part, picture quality for the film is great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“I Am Wrath” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  As one can expect, the film is action-driven, thus the gun shots, explosions and fights utilize the surround channels and LFE effectively.  While not super immersive, the lossless soundtrack is good.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“I Am Wrath” comes with the following special feature:

  • Filmmaker commentary – Featuring an audio commentary by director Chris Russell and writer/actor Paul Sloan.

EXTRAS:

“I Am Wrath” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Possibly one of John Travolta’s better action films, “I Am Wrath” is exciting and action-packed.

Don’t let the “direct-to-video” fool you, as “I Am Wrath” is entertaining and has the potential of having more “I Am Wrath” sequels in the future.

The film revolves around Stanley, a former Black Ops agent who ended his career to pursue a life as a family man and engineer before marrying his beloved Vivian.

The two would raise a daughter but being unemployed, he has been looking for work outside of the state.  Considering that the state he lives in, that is experiencing tremendous crime, moving out for the safety of his family is probably a good thing.

Unfortunately, the day he comes back from a job interview, while he and his wife are walking back to their vehicle, they are beaten and mugged and his wife is murdered.

Having witnessed his wife’s murder and the police not doing much to apprehend the criminals, Stanley who had promised his wife before they were married that he would leave his Black Ops life in the past, has decided to get justice for his wife’s death by going after those responsible.

Teaming up with fellow former Black Ops agent, Dennis…Stanley wants payback!

Because the film was direct-to-video, I was skeptical because the first thing that came to mind was low-budget, popcorn B flick and it has been over a decade since Chuck Russell directed his last action film.

But knowing filmmaker Chuck Russel’s work in the ’90s with “The Mask” and “Eraser” and even the 2002 film “The Scorpion King”, you have to give him and Travolta the benefit of the doubt and see what they can do together with “I Am Wrath” and for the most part, the collaboration was exciting, action-packed and was not too deep in darkness or revenge, you have many humorous moments, especially between Stanley and his friend Dennis.

And while “I Am Wrath” does not have the budget of the high caliber of explosions compared to Liam Neeson’s “Taken” films, I really do feel there is potential in having more films with former Black Ops characters, Stanley and Dennis.   And it’s these type of popcorn action films that many gravitate to that whether or not they are released theatrically or straight-to-video, audiences love them.

So, it’s great to see John Travolta in this type of protagonist action role and also great to see Rebecca De Mornay on film again as well!  And as for Christopher Meloni, while we have seen him in agent roles before, it’s great to see him in a major action role, kicking butt in “I Am Wrath”.

As for the Blu-ray release, “I Am Wrath” looks great on Blu-ray with close-ups showing great detail, skin tones look natural and I didn’t notice any problematic issues during my viewing of the film.  Lossless audio was also good considering this is an action film and good use of the surround channels and LFE.  And you get a single commentary included on the Blu-ray release.

Overall, Chuck Russell’s “I Am Wrath” may not have had a theatrical release, but it’s one of the very good recent direct-to-video action films that I have watched and really enjoyed in awhile.  If you love action/vengeance type of films, you’ll no doubt enjoy “I Am Wrath”.

 

Miracles from Heaven (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

miraclefromheaven

“Miracles from Heaven” is heartwarming, entertaining and enjoyable if you grew up with a Christian upbringing. Annabel’s experience is not easy to explain for those who believe in God, you can take this experience as you see fit. But through the kindness of others, as demonstrated throughout the film, it’s God’s way of showing a person a way of trying to reach out to others and show the true power of faith and love but also that miracles do exist. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Georgia Film Fund. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Miracles from Heaven

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Audio Description Track, French, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (for Thematic Material, Including Accident and Medical Images)

Release Date: July 12, 2016


Directed by Patricia Riggin

Based on the Book by Christy Beam

Adaptation by Randy Brown

Produced by DeVon Franklin, T.D. Jakes, Joe Roth

Executive-Producer: Matthew Hirsch, Zack Roth, Derrick Williams

Cinematography by Checco Varese

Music by Carlo Silotto

Edited by Emma E. Hickox

Production Design: David Sandefur

Art Direction by Doug Fick

Set Decoration by Brana Rosenfeld

Costume Design by Mary Jane Fort


Starring:

Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam

Kylie Rogers as Anna Beam

Martin Henderson as Kevin Beam

Brighton Sharbino as Abbie Beam

Courtney Fansler as Adelynn Beam

Queen Latifah as Angela

Eugenio Derbez as Dr. Nurko

Kelly Collins Lintz as Emmy

John Carroll Lynch as Pastor Scott

Brandon Spink as Billy Snyder


“Miracles From Heaven” is based on the incredible true story of the Beam family.  When Christy (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored, and their community inspired.


For those who knew Annabel Beam, many were in awe of how a young girl suffering from life-threatening digestive disorders and then to later fall 30 feet headfirst into a rotted trunk of a cottonwood tree would not only survive her injuries, but to be fully cured of her disorders.

During the time when Annabel was in the tree trunk, she talked about how God told her that she would be healed.

And the story of the Beam family and Annabel became the subject of a memoir titled “Miracles from Heaven” written by Cathy Beam.

The inspirational story would lead to a Christian drama film adaptation directed by Patricia Riggin (“The 33”, “Under the Same Moon”) and an adaptation by Randy Brown (“Trouble with the Curve”).

The film stars Jennifer Garner (“Alias”, “Dallas Buyers Club”, “Juno”), Kylie Rogers (“Fathers and Daughters”, “Space Station 786”),  Martin Henderson (“The Ring”, “Everest”, “Windtalkers”), Queen Latifah (“”Living Single”, “Chicago”, “Bringing Down the House”), Eugenio Derbez (“Instructions Not Included”, “Jack & Jill”), John Carroll Lynch (“Shutter Island”, “Grand Tornio”, “Zodiac”), Brighton Sarbino (“The Walking Dead”, “Growing Up Smith”) and Courtney Fansler.

And now, “Miracles from Heaven” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in Sept. 2015.

The film is set in Texas, Christy (portrayed by Jennifer Garner) and her husband Kevin (portrayed by Martin Henderson) are parents to three daughters, Abbie (portrayed by Brighton Sharbino), Annabel (portrayed by Kylie Rogers) and Adelynn (portrayed by Courtney Fansler).

The family are dedicated Christians but the family has been dealing with recent pains that their daughter Annabel has been going through.  When they take her to the hospital, they are told that she has a problem with lactose intolerance.

But after bringing her home, her stomach has become distended and when they take her to ER after Annabel is experiencing a lot of pain, they tell her it’s acid reflux.  Believing it is more than that, Christy demands that another doctor check on her.

It is revealed by the head pediatrics surgeon that Annabel suffers from a rare debilitating digestive disorder.  Her body is unable to no longer take in food and that she will be in increasing pain.  While the surgeon gives her names of doctors in the country who have helped children with the disorder, Annabel continues to get worse and the family tries their best to make sure they keep her comfortable and try to swear off food that Annabel is unable to eat.

But when Annabel’s condition worsens and Christy has contacted doctors with no response, she decides to make the decision to go to Boston with Annabel in hopes of talking to Dr. Nurko (portrayed by Eugenio Derbez).

As she tries, unfortunately she is unable to see him without an appointment.

While in Boston, she receives support from a waitress named Angela (portrayed by Queen Latifah) who helps both Christy and Annabel and as Dr. Nurko is able to get Annabel in, because of the severity of her disorder, the family must take on difficult emotional and financial challenges.

Meanwhile, Christy starts to doubt her faith when fellow parishioners at the church start to ask if she’s praying enough or something bad must have happened for bad things to happen to Annabel.  Meanwhile, as the emotional toll starts to come upon the family, even greater challenges lie ahead for Annabel.

But what happens to her is no doubt a miracle from Heaven.


VIDEO:

“Miracles from Heaven” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film. For the most part, picture quality for the film is great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Miracles from Heaven” is presented in English, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English – Audio Description Track, French, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The film’s lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue-driven but there are moments with music, which are also crystal clear.  Surround channels are primarily utilized for crowd ambiance.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Miracles from Heaven” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary with Patricia Riggen and Randy Brown – Featuring an audio commentary by director Patricia Riggen and writer Randy Brown.
  • Bearing Witness – (9:06) A visit with the Beam family at their home, what has happened to the tree on the property and more.
  • Miracles Abound: The Making of Miracles from Heaven – (9:14) The cast discuss about working on the film and the cast meeting the real people in the film.
  • Accounts from Annabel – (6:17) Annabel discusses the differences from the film and reality and how close she is with her mother.
  • Deleted Scenes – (13:32) Featuring five deleted scenes.
  • Your Words Montage – (3:47) A music video for “Your Words”
  • Creating Heaven – Concept Art Exploration – (3:46) Director Patricia Reagan worked with Juan Pablo Garcia Tames who created the storyboards for the film.

EXTRAS:

“Miracles from Heaven” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet Digital HD code.


There have been Christian films that have dealt with those who saw God and were brought back to life after what would appear to be a certain death.

And when it comes to these films, even with Christians, they are debated and also films that are subjective to the viewer.

I said that with the 2014 film “Heaven is for Real” which a little boy survives a near death experience and has vivid memories of meeting God and other loved ones who are in Heaven and took on the questions of what heaven should be.  And what he saw in heaven.

For the 2016 film, “Miracles from Heaven”….  While a Christian film, unlike other Affirm Films that are deep in the Christian message, I am starting to notice films that feature well-known talent but also a storyline that is more accessible to the masses, whether or not they are Christian or not, but having them decide whether or not they believe or don’t.

“Miracles from Heaven” for the most part is a family dealing with a major crisis.  A daughter who is suffering from a deadly digestive disorder and is in constant pain, a family who struggles to get the bills paid due to the mounting medical bills and the majority of the film focuses on a loving mother who wants to do all she can to be there for her daughter.

And also showing different Christian perspectives, as one woman criticizes the mother, Kathy Beam, of not being a good Christian because God has not healed their daughter.  Someone must have sinned.

And with the few occasions of the family going to church or talking to their pastor, the film does not try to forcefeed Christianity on the viewer for the majority of the film.  Probably within the last half hour of the film do we get to see the family change after a miracle happens with their daughter and the we see the Christian values being remembered by Kathy, who had lost her way but recognizes the kindness of others who were important to the family during their time of need.

While the story is based on the true story of the Beam family, there were a few things that were added to the film, but the premise of the story remains the same.  How a girl who had a deadly disorder and suffered a near tragedy was not just able to survive, she was also able to rid of her disorder and during her time that she was out unconscious, she was talking to God.

Again, this is a film that is subjective to the viewer but as a Christian, I found “Miracles from Heaven” to be heartwarming.  And while there are some who may question this film of why would this child survived and another didn’t, It’s not an easy topic of discussion.  But If you are a Christian, one must believe that there was a reason and you pray for those who made and for those who didn’t.  And there is indeed a spiritual message from the film.

As for the acting, Jennifer Garnder and young Kylie Rogers did a wonderful job with a mother and daughter who must go through emotional high and lows but through thick and thin, family must stick together and support each other, no matter how big the challenge or obstacles that are in front of them.  You can’t help but be inspired.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality of this film is magnificent and the lossless audio quality is what I expected from this film and it being heavily center and front-channel driven.  There are a few special features included as well, especially with the actual Beam family and the real Annabel Beam.

“Miracles from Heaven” is a film that may not appeal to for everyone.  There will be some who will be touched, there will be some who may have problems with the film but for those with an open mind and for those who are Christians will no doubt enjoy or become fascinated by the story of the Beam family and be touched by the film’s spiritual message.

Overall, “Miracles from Heaven” is heartwarming, entertaining and enjoyable if you grew up with a Christian upbringing.  Annabel’s experience is not easy to explain for those who believe in God, you can take this experience as you see fit.   But through the kindness of others, as demonstrated throughout the film, it’s God’s way of showing a person a way of trying to reach out to others and show the true power of faith and love but also that miracles do exist.

Recommended!

 

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