While director Bruce Beresford will be known for directing “Driving Miss Daisy”, his film “Mister Johnson” has a subtle message that has relevancy in today’s world for major countries and their involvement in trying to modernize and civilize developing countries. And because of that, “Mister Johnson” is no doubt Beresford’s most powerful film in his oeuvre and a film that I highly recommend.
Image courtesy of © 1990 Mister Johnson Enterprises Inc. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Mister Johnson – The Criterion Collection #774
YEAR OF FILM: 1990
DURATION: 101 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English Stereo, Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Janus films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2015
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Based on the Novel by Joyce Cary
Written by William Boyd
Produced by Michael Fitzgerald
Executive Producer: Bill Benenson
Associate Producer: Eva Monley
Co-Producer: Penelope Glass
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography by Peter James
Edited by Humphrey Dixon
Casting by Susie Bruffin
Production Design byHerbert Pinter
Set Decoration by Graham Sumner
Costume Design by Rosemary Burrows
Maynard Eziashi as Mister Johnson
Pierce Brosnan as Harry Rudbeck
Edward Woodward as Sargy Gollup
Beatie Edney as Celia Rudbeck
Denis Quilley as Bulteen
Nick Reding as Tring
Bella Enaharo as Bamu
Femi Fatoba as Waziri
Q as Benjamin
Hubert Ogunde as Brimah
A decade after he broke through with Breaker Morant, Australian director Bruce Beresford made another acclaimed film about the effects of colonialism on the individual. In a performance that earned him the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for best actor, Maynard Eziashi (Bopha!) plays the title character, a Nigerian villager eager to work as a civil servant for the British authorities, including a sympathetic district officer (GoldenEye’s Pierce Brosnan), in the hopes that it will benefit him in the future. Instead, his ambition leads to his tragic downfall. Mister Johnson, based on a 1939 novel by Joyce Cary, is a graceful, heartfelt drama about the limits of idealism, affectingly acted and handsomely shot.
Back in 1990, from Director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”, “Double Jeopardy”, “Breaker Morant”) came a film adaptation of Joyce Cary’s 1939 novel, “Mister Johnson”.
The film would star Maynard Eziashi (“The Contract”, “Ace Ventura: When Natura Calls”), Pierce Brosnan (“GoldenEye”, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “Die Another Day”), Edward Woodward (“The Equalizer”, “The Wicker Man”, “Breaker Moran”), Beatie Edney (“Highlander”, “In the Name of the Father”, “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”), Bella Enaharo (“Pie in the Sky”, “The Secret Laughter of Women”), Denis Quiley (“Murder on the Orient Express”, “Evil Under the Sun”) and Nick Reding (“Bood Diamond”, “The Constant Gardener”).
The film received positive reviews and earned Maynard Eziashi a “Silver Bear for Best Actor” at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival.
And now “Mister Johnson” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
“Mister Johnson” is set in Nigeria and focuses on an African civil servant named Mister Johnson (portrayed by Maynard Eziashi).
Mister Johnson works in the office of the British district administrator, Harry Rudbeck (portrayed by Pierce Brosnan).
Mister Johnson tries to do his best to adopt the British culture and unlike his fellow Nigerians, he wears a white tropical suit and looks at the British culture as his own, and blind to the plight of his fellow countrymen. Not knowing that the laws set by the British protect the British, not Nigerians like his countrymen or himself.
But while Mister Johnson sees himself like a Brit, he is also a man in debt. He owes villagers and recently marrying Bamu (portrayed by Bella Enaharo), he must pay a monthly marriage bride fee. Since he has no money, she is taken back to the village by the elders.
Meanwhile, Harry dreams of seeing a road (for a 100 miles) built from the wilderness to their outpost and directly to the capital. But to do so, it will take some capital. Mister Johnson looks at the positive of building a road because it would civilize his people.
But through the process of building a road and seeing himself as one of the British, Mister Johnson will learn lessons that will make him understand that no matter what suit he wears, no matter if he has a job with the British, he will never be like them.
“Mister Johnson – The Criterion Collection #774” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film looks fantastic in HD. Details of closeups are amazing, shot outdoors, the colors via natural light are vibrant. There are no signs of DNR or any issues at all, “Mister Johnson” looks magnificent on Blu-ray! I didn’t see any signs of artifacts or banding issues, this is a 4K scan that looks amazing!
According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Deluxe London. The color grading was supervised by director Bruce Beresford. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker, and jitter.ording to the Criterion Collection, “This film was shot with an ARRI ALEXA digital camera, and the entire production was completed in a fully digital workflow. Supervised by director of photography Alain Marcoen and approved by directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the final color-corrected DPX files were output to Rec. 709 high-definition color space for Blu-ray and DVD.”
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the lossless audio, “Mister Johnson – The Criterion Collection #774”. The film is presented in English LPCM 2.0. Dialogue and music are crystal clear.
According to the Criterion Collection, “The original stereo soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from teh 12-track 35 mm magnetic tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.
Subtitles are in English SDH.
“Mister Johnson – The Criterion Collection #774” comes with the following special features:
- Bruce Beresford – (15:32) A 2015 interview conducted by the Criterion Collection with director Bruce Beresford.
- Michael Fitzgerald – (11:11) An interview conducted by the Criterion Collection with producer Michael Fitzgerald, who was inspired by the original novel.
- Maynard Eziashi – (12:10) A 2015 interview conducted by the Criterion Collection with actor Maynard Eziashi.
- Pierce Brosnan – (8:59) A 2015 interview conducted by the Criterion Collection with actor Pierce Brosnan.
- Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Mister Johnson”.
“Mister Johnson – The Criterion Collection #774” comes with a five-page fold-out insert with the essay “Off the Beaten Track” by Neil Sinyard.
Having watched “Mister Johnson” multiple times, watching it makes me think about how international presence in another country, stripping away a country’s way of life to enforce our own lifestyle or as others hope, to civilize or modernize a country, is it even worth it?
While many would say yes, each time I watch “Mister Johnson”, it’s no doubt a film that I find thought-provoking and relevant even today.
Mister Johnson is a character, in my opinion, reflects a lot of people who are tired of one’s culture and begins to appreciate or even start to incorporate another country’s culture to their own.
Mister Johnson likes to wear a tropical suit in the middle of the heat, unlike his countrymen. He begins to look down on them and starts to see himself like the British, as if he is among their elite.
But when you live within that facade, being stripped away from all the ego and false beliefs, what are you left with?
It’s quite interesting because I see it today. Friends and associates who would like to think they are British, French, Italian, German, Japanese, etc. and forgotten about their own culture and where they came from. Some who learn the hard way by moving to that country and learning that no matter if you speak like them, try to incorporate their culture to your own, in the eyes of the government of that country, you’re still a person from a different country.
With “Mister Johnson”, he still lives in his own country but tries his best to think he is among the British, his way of living is of British-style and his treatment to his own people, are reflective of how the British have treated his own people. But strip that from him and what does he become?
“Mister Johnson” is no doubt a tragic tale but a film that must be viewed for its overall message. People who are forced to change their culture, a culture practice for centuries but must change for the sake of modernism and to force another country’s people to become civilized. This is where I feel that director Bruce Beresford has done a wonderful job in trying to capture in the film.
Actor Maynard Eziashi does a wonderful job as Mister Johnson and seeing a man so intent of being British, but a man who also has made bad decisions that will no doubt come to haunt him.
Pierce Brosnan also does a good job of playing the boss of Mister Johnson. While a man that is looked as a father figure for Maynard, there is also a sense of sadness because Brosnan’s character, Harry Rudbeck, has impact on Mister Johnson. But Rudbeck makes a final decision that he, no doubt, will probably have to face.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality for this remastered film looks amazing on Blu-ray. Details closeup are magnificent, natural lighting and also overall scenery are breathtaking or just well-captured by cinematographer Peter James. The lossless soundtrack is stereo, but the dialogue and music are crystal clear. As for special features, you get 2015 interviews with director Bruce Beresford, producer Michael Fitzgerald and interviews with actors Maynard Eziashi and Pierce Brosnan.
While director Bruce Beresford will be known for directing “Driving Miss Daisy”, his film “Mister Johnson” has a subtle message that has relevancy in today’s world for major countries and their involvement in trying to modernize and civilize developing countries. And because of that, “Mister Johnson” is no doubt Beresford’s most powerful film in his oeuvre and a film that I highly recommend.
“Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” is a fun, fantasy, sci-fi film for the entire family! One can watch this film for nostalgia, others can watch this film to see how their favorite stars looked or how they were on film before they became very popular. And for those not familiar with the film and are looking for a a movie for the entire family, just being entertained by its enjoyable story. If you enjoyed films like “Jumanji”, then “Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” is recommended!
TITLE: Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition
FILM RELEASE: 2005
DURATION: 101 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), English, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG (Fantasy Action and Peril, and Some Language)
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg
Directed by Jon Favreau
Screenplay by David Koepp, John Kamps
Produced by Michael De Luca, Scott Kroopf, William Teitler
Co-Producer: Peter Billingsley
Music by John Debney
Cinematography by Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Dan Lebental
Casting by Avy Kaufman
Production Design by J. Michael Riva
Art Direction by David F. Klassen, Richard F. Mays
Costume Design by Laura Gaffin
Jonah Bobo as Danny
Josh Hutcherson as Walter
Dax Shepard as Astronaut
Kristen Stewart as Lisa
Tim Robbins as Dad
Frank Oz as the voice of Robot
Celebrate the 10th anniversary of this heart-racing science-fiction adventure with a special, all-new Blu-ray edition! Two squabbling brothers are propelled into deepest, darkest space while playing a mysterious game discovered in the basement of their old house. On their fantastic journey, they are joined by a stranded astronaut and must survive meteor showers, hostile lizard-like aliens, a rocket-propelled robot who runs amok and an intergalactic spaceship battle. Unless they finish the game and reach the planet Zathura, they could be trapped in outer space forever.
Years before Jon Favreau would be known for directing the first two “Iron Man” films, years before Josh Hutcherson would be known for his role as Peeta in the “Hunger Games” films and years before Kristen Stewart would become popular for the role of Bella Swan in the “Twilight” films, each of them would be involved in the family and children’s film “Zathura: A Space Adventure”.
A film adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s (author of “Jumanji”) fantasy, illustration book “Zathura”, the film was marketed as a spiritual sequel of “Jumanji”.
While the film didn’t do as well in the box office (considering that it had to go against “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and Disney’s “Chicken Little”), the film still received positive reviews from film critics.
And to celebrate the 10th year anniversary, “Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” will be released on Blu-ray.
“Zathura: A Space Adventure” begins with two brothers, oldest brother Walter (portrayed by Josh Hutcherson) is an athlete and youngest brother Danny (portrayed by Jonah Bobo) who is not as athletic, playing catch with their father (portrayed by Tim Robbins).
The two brothers often quarrel with each other and also with their older sister, Lisa (portrayed by Kristen Stewart).
The three children live with their divorced father but as Lisa often sleeps and their father is busy with work, one day, Danny is locked in the basement by Walter. Inside the basement, he discovers a space-themed board game called “Zathura”.
As Walter and Danny begin playing the game, with the object is whoever reaches the end space Zathura, becomes the winner.
With each turn, the game produces a card with instructions and the first card mentions a “meteor shower”. And next thing you know, meteors begin to fall through the house. As they look out, they realize that they are in outer space.
As the brothers try to wake their sister up and tell her what’s going on, they try to show the game to her and pull up another card about “cryonic sleep” which immediately freezes Lisa and the entire bathroom.
The brothers must encounter various dangers with each card pulled during the game and realize that the only way they could get back home is to finish the board game and reach the end space of Zathura.
But with all the dangers around them…will these quarrelsome brothers finish the game?
“Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is fantastic as detail on close-up of faces show detail. Skin tones are natural and black levels are nice and deep. The 2011 Blu-ray release already featured solid, sharp picture quality and the 2015 features the same awesome presentation!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital. The lossless soundtrack is also equally fantastic. With the sheer amount of action scenes, this is an immersive soundtrack as you can expect wonderful use of the surround channels and LFE, as well as crystal clear dialogue and music.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai
“Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Jon Fabreau and Co-Producer Peter Billingsley.
- Race to the Black Planet – (11:55) The making of the special effects for “Zathura”.
- The Right Moves – (14:56) How Chris Van Allsburg’s illustration book was adapted into a film.
- The Cast – (12:51) A featurette about the cast members of “Zathura”.
- Miniatures – (9:48) A featurette about the use of miniatures in “Zathura”.
- The World of Chris Van Allsburg – (12:52) A featurette about “Zathura” (and “Jumanji”) author Chris Van Allsburg.
- Zorgons, Robots and Frozen Lisa – (16:42) The making of these special effects characters.
- Making the Game – (14:01) A featurette in regards to the process of creating the “Zathura” board game.
- Zathura Motion Storybook as Read by Author Chris Van Allsburg – A new special feature for the 2015 Blu-ray featuring Chris Van Allsburg reading an excerpts from the book (featuring illustrations from the book)
- Race Through Space: Virtual Board Game – A digital board game of “Zathura”.
- Goosebumps Sneak Peak – (3:02) A new special feature for the 2015 Blu-ray release, this is a sneak peak for the 2015 film “Goosebumps”.
- The Cast of Goosebumps Reflect on Zathura – (5:19) A new special feature this 2015 Blu-ray release, “Goosebumps” actors Dylan Minnette and Ryan Lee discuss their favorite “Zathura” scenes.
- Trailer – The theatrical trailer for “Zathura: A Space Adventure”.
“Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet code.
Watching “Zathura” after nearly a decade since it arrived in theaters, it’s quite fascinating to see how a lot of people involved in the film have had successful careers.
Jon Favreau became a director and producer of major blockbuster films, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart and Josh Hutcherson have become popular film stars, while young Jonah Bobo is still an actor but has entertained many young children as the voice of Austin in the popular children’s show, “The Backyardigans”. While veteran actor Tim Robbins shows no sign of slowing down and continues to be a busy actor for television and film.
But part of what makes this film entertaining back then, was how it had similarities to “Jumanji”.
While a different kind of film and is more sci-fi/adventure, one can wish that these family-driven adventure and fantasy films (with a bigger budget) were made. As my son grew up with this film and was enchanted by the thought of children in a different world, while their house is floating into space, it’s about the journey and how imaginative the storyline is.
Sure, when I think back to my childhood and have had the pleasure of watching “The Goonies” or “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” and being immersed by the journey and enjoying the entire imaginative journey presented on film, these are films that don’t grow old and can still entertain generations upon generations of children and also the young at heart.
The whole concept for “Zathura: A Space Adventure” about a board game in which certain things become a reality and watching bad space lizard aliens, a whacked out robot and a sister frozen, the story is definitely far-out, but yet I still enjoyed it because it is unique and fun to watch.
And the good thing is that families will get to watch three anniversary editions of adventure films on Blu-ray with the release of “Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition”, “The Indian in the Cupboard: 20th Anniversary Edition” and “Jumanji: 20th Anniversary” edition.
As for the Blu-ray release, “Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” 2015 Blu-ray release is just as wonderful as the original 2011 Blu-ray release. Picture quality is fantastic, lossless audio is wonderful. But the primary difference is that there are new special features included along with the many special features that were included in the older Blu-ray release, especially newer special features to promote the 2015 film release of “Goosebumps”.
Overall, “Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” is a fun, fantasy, sci-fi film for the entire family! One can watch this film for nostalgia, others can watch this film to see how their favorite stars looked or how they were on film before they became very popular. And for those not familiar with the film and are looking for a a movie for the entire family, just being entertained by its enjoyable story.
If you enjoyed films like “Jumanji”, then “Zathura: A Space Adventure – Anniversary Edition” is recommended!
“Saint Laurent” is a fascinating biographic film that comes short in its introduction to those close to Yves Saint Laurent, but when covering his life as a fashion icon and showcasing his creative genius but also his own personal faults, director Bertrand Bonello does a wonderful shop in showing audiences that even the man behind the iconic fashion brand.
TITLE: Saint Laurent
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 150 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (for graphic nudity/strong sexual situations, substance abuse throughout and some language)
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Directed by Bertrand Bonello
Screenplay by Thomas Bidegain, Bertrand Bonello
Produced by Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer, Christophe Lambert
Co-Producer: Remi Burah, Genevieve Lemal, Olivier Pere
Music by Bertrand Bonello
Cinematography by Josee Deshaies
Edited by Fabrice Rouaud
Casting by Richard Rousseau
Production Design by Katia Wyszkop
Costume Design by Anais Romand
Gaspard Ulliel as Yves Saint Laurent
Jeremie Renier as Pierre Berge
Louis Garrel as Jacques de Bascher
Lea Seydoux as Loulou de la Falaise
Amira Casar as Anne-Marie Munoz
Aymeline Valade as Betty Catroux
Helmut Berger as Yves Saint Laurent en 1989
Michae Lescot as Monsieur Jean-Pierre
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as Mme Duzer
Dive into the color and lush textures of the incredible life of fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent. Explore the mind of a creative genius, the intricacies that turned a haute-couture label into a worldwide phenomenon, and the glamour and decadence that followed Saint Laurents footsteps of fame and fortune.
Yves Saint Laurent, the legendary French fashion designer who built a remarkable brand around his name, but best known for igniting the synergy of couture in the sixties and was no doubt a creative man that was ahead of his time.
Known for his ready-to-wear products and creating tuxedo jackets for women and using multicultural models early in his career, while YSL was a prominent luxury fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent and his brand died in 2008.
In 2015, his brand was revived by Hedi Slimane and boutiques with Saint Laurent merchandise continues the Yves Saint Laurent name.
But as for Yves Saint Laurent, many are curious about the man behind the fashion, aside from the more available news of his addiction to alcohol and drugs during the ’60s and ’70s and his love for his French Bulldog, Moujik, outside of his circle, not many people know about the life of Yves Saint Laurent.
And thus, two films were created in 2014. “Yves Saint Laurent”, the 2014 French biographical drama directed by Jalil Lespert (who was granted access by Pierre Berge to the YSL archives) and the more well-received and critically-praised French biography drama film co-written and directed by Bertrand Bonello (“The Pornographer”, “House of Tolerance”, “Tiresia”).
The latter will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in September.
The film stars Gaspard Ulliel (“Hannibal Rising”, “Paris, je t’aime”, “A Very Long Engagement”) who plays the younger Yves Saint Laurent, Jeremie Renier (“In Bruges”, “L’enfant”, “The Kid with a Bike”, “La Promesse”), Louis Garrel (“The Dreamers”, “The Beautiful Person”, “Regular Lovers”, “Love Songs”), Lea Seydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”), Amira Casar (“Sulvia”, “Anatomy of Hell”, “Why Not Me?”), Aymeline Valade and Helmut Berger (“The Godfather Part III”, “Ludwig”, “Conversation Piece”) as the older Yves Saint Laurent.
The film focuses on the life of Yves Saint Laurent from 1968-1978 and the final years of his life.
“Saint Laurent” begins with Yves Saint Laurent discussing how he was committed during his service for the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence and how he suffered disorders because of that experience.
A quick shot then shows Yves Saint Laurent lying on the ground bleeding.
The film then switches to different time periods.
In 1968, seamstress are working on designs for Saint Laurent. We are introduced to a man who likes to play classical music while working on his designs.
We are introduced to the closest people to him, the head of YSL studio, Anne-Marie Munoz (portrayed by Amira Casar) and his partner and co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent Couture House, Pierre Berge (portrayed by Jeremie Renier).
The film then goes to the gay bar, where he would meet Chanel model Betty Saint (portrayed by Aymeline Valade), a woman who would one day be one of Saint Laurent’s closest friends and a woman in which Yves saw himself as and often called her his twin or reincarnation. But in the scene, Saint Laurent tries to get Betty to represent YSL, but she resists because she is representing Chanel.
But not long after, we see Betty modeling Saint Laurent’s suit and then we see his creation of tuxedoes for women.
The film then switches to 1971 and introduces us to Saint Laurent’s haute couture and introduces us to another woman close to Saint Laurent, his good friend Loulou de La Falaise (portrayed by Lea Seydoux), who would later become the fashion muse and designer of fashion, accessories and jewelry for Yves Saint Laurent.
As Saint Laurent and his friends have alcohol and drug parties, we are introduced to Saint Laurent’s good friend, actress Talitha Getty (portrayed by Jasmine Trinca), who we often seen shooting up on heroin.
The film would then showcase the press and those at a YSL fashion event in surprise after seeing the models in suits and ready-to-wear clothing (which were haute coteur, but yet showing how people didn’t understand it at the time). The tepid response would send Saint Laurent in a fit.
By 1972, American investors are upset in seeing the lowest in YSL revenue and Pierre Berge fighting for the brand and reminding investors that they must be patient with Yves Saint Laurent as a creative visionary and to accept the risk in ready-to-wear clothing because haute couture will become internationally. But the investors also bring up worries about Yves Saint Laurent’s health.
The film then shows us the stress which Saint Laurent endures before and after each collection. And as he tries to seek out inspiration, he goes to his local gay disco bar and encounters Karl Lagerfeld’s protege and lover, Jacques de Bascher (portrayed by Louis Garrel). Because Saint Laurent started to be unhappy with his relationship with Pierre Berge, he has an affair with de Bascher, which would eventually lead to the rivalry between the Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.
The film would continue the life of Saint Laurent during the ’70s but then would switch off to the his final years, wondering if Yves Saint Laurent is looked as a has-been and a name without relevance.
“Saint Laurent” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film is quite detailed during closeups but manages to capture the luxurious lifestyle of Yves Saint Laurent. I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding and for the most part, the film looks fantastic on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Saint Laurent” is presented in French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue and music-driven, so it’s a center and front-channel soundtrack with occasional surround channels used for ambiance.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“Saint Laurent” comes with the following special features:
- Bertrand Bonello – (1:37) A short featurette with director Bertrand Bonello discussing the making of the film.
- The Characters – (2:24) A few of the cast members discuss Yves Saint Laurent.
- Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Saint Laurent”.
For those with interest and knowledge to the life of Yves Saint Laurent, Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent” is a fascinating film that tries to incorporate a lot of details of Saint Laurent’s life, his relationships with Pierre Berge and Jacques de Basher and his friendships to important women in his life.
But for those not familiar with Yves Saint Laurent, they will view this film of a man who is depressed, who drunk a lot of alcohol and did a lot of drugs, while creating fashion that was ahead of its time and people didn’t really understand.
Unfortunately, there are no introductions to why these people are important in the life of Yves Saint Laurent, you have to read, watch or do research on his personal life to know who these people are.
We see Anne-Marie Munoz and Loulou de la Falaise, two important people in the Yves Saint Laurent circle shown throughout the film. We know they are important, we know they are close to Saint Laurent, but without knowledge of these two individuals, their presence as characters are lost to the viewers.
The same can be said of Chanel model Betty Catroux (or known as Betty Saint). She is often seen hanging out and partying with Saint Laurent but viewers are probably are also lost of who this character is and why Yves Saint Laurent keeps seeing himself when the camera is directed at her.
The same can be said about Talitha Getty. All viewers not familiar with her, will see and remember her scenes as a woman who keeps shooting up with heroin. Not knowing her as a pivotal figure in “Bohemian” culture and fashion and married to oil heir and philanthropist John Paul Getty Jr.
But the film does go into the affair of Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld protege, Jacques de Basher. While not showing how it led to a rival between both camps, the film does show Pierre Berge’s disdain towards the affair and toward de Basher.
The film does go into Saint Laurent’s love for his French Bulldog, Moujik and how after each dog would die, he would find one that would look like him, name the dog Moujik and continue to raise it like a son.
But despite the film’s shortcoming of its side characters and possible confusion of the jump in timelines, while others may not be as kind to the film because of this, others will probably find the film as entertaining to its eroticism and it’s portrayal of Yves Saint Laurent during the peak of YSL haute couture.
The costume design for the film is impeccable and stylish, set design as decadent and the performance by Gaspard Ulliel to be wonderful. While I’m not an erudite of Yves Saint Laurent fashion oeuvre, I was able to do my research of various characters prior to watching the film.
The film is not critical of Yves Saint Laurent as the alcohol and drugs were the life of a fashion jetsetter, especially during the time of the ’60s and ’70s. The criticism were primarily by the press which is actually shown in the film as rumors of his bad health or his demise was ongoing.
“Saint Laurent” also goes to show how persistence, a great team and of course, Saint Laurent’s vision of ready-to-wear attire would become popular and there is no doubt that many other companies were inspired by his designs and that inspiration and fashion can be seen today’s modern fashion. He was a man ahead of his time, a creative genius.
As for the Blu-ray release, Picture quality is is wonderful as closeups show wonderful detail. I saw no sign of artifacts, banding or any problematic issues. Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and music-driven, but both are crystal clear. There are short features included as well.
Overall, “Saint Laurent” is a fascinating biographic film that comes short in its introduction to those close to Yves Saint Laurent, but when covering his life as a fashion icon and showcasing his creative genius but also his own personal faults, director Bertrand Bonello does a wonderful shop in showing audiences that even the man behind the iconic fashion brand.
“Star Wars Rebels” is fantastic! The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching! If you have been curious about “Star Wars Rebels”, I highly recommend checking out “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One”!
TITLE: Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One
FILM RELEASE: 2015
DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 331 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
RATED: TV Y7 FV
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Directed by Steward Lee, Dave Filoni, Steven G. Lee, Justin Ridge
Written by Simon Kinberg, Carrie Beck, Dave Filoni, George Lucas, Greg Weisman, Kevin Hopps, Henry Gilroy, Katie Lucas
Producer: Kiri Hart, Athena Yvette Portillo
Executive Producer: Davi Filoni, Simon Kinberg, Greg Weisman
Associate Producer: Carrie Beck
Music by Kevin Kiner
Edited by Alex McDonnell, Joe E. Elwood
Casting by Aaron Drown
Art Direction by Kilian Plunkett
Vanessa Marshall as Hera Syndulla
Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus
Steve Blum as Zeb Orrelios
Taylor Gray as Ezra Bridger
Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren
David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus
Jason Isaacs as The Inquisitor
Kath Soucie as Maketh Tua
Dee Bradley Baker as Admiral Kassius Konstantine
Ashley Eckstein as Fulcrum
David Shaughnessy as Taskmaster Grint
Brent Spiner as Gall Trayvis
Liam O’Brien as Yogar Lyste
Jonny Rees as Baron Valen Rudor
Keith Szarabajka as Cikatro Vizago
Stephen Stanton as Grand Moff Tarkin
A spark of rebellion ignites in Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One! Star Wars Rebels continues the epic tradition of the legendary Star Wars saga with exciting action-packed episodes. It is a dark time in the galaxy as the evil Galactic Empire rules with an iron fist. Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet, ruining the lives of its people. A ragtag band of rebels — Ezra, Hera, Kanan, Sabine, Zeb and Chopper — have taken a brave stand against the ruthless oppression of the Empire in a fight to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy.
With the completion of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” comes a new American 3D CGI animated television series from Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm Animation titled “Star Wars Rebels”.
Set 14 years after “Revenge of the Sith” and five years before “New Hope”, “Star Wars Rebels” takes place during a time when nearly all jedi’s have been hunted and killed and the Galactic Empire rules the galaxy.
With a total of 13-episodes, the series features a visual style that is inspired by the original “Star Wars” trilogy concept art by Ralph McQuarrie.
“Star Wars Rebels” will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Disney.
“Star Wars Rebels” begins with an introduction to a young teenage thief named Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray) who lives in the Empire-controlled planet, Lothal.
One day, Ezra tries to steal a shipment from the Empire, but also after the shipment is the crew of The Ghost.
The crew consists of Ghost crew leader and jedi survivor Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.); pilot and owner of the Ghost, the Twi’lek named Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall); weapons and explosives expert and Mandalorian graffiti artist Sabine Wren (voiced by Tiya Sircar); the tough Lasat honor guard Zeb Orrelios (voiced by Stephen Blum) and Hera’s droid C1-10P a.ka. “Chopper”.
After saving Ezra from doom, because of his skills of survival, the crew of the Ghost invite Ezra to join their crew. And because Ezra is able to sense things with the Force, Kanan accepts Ezra as his padawan and to help him control his newfound power.
As any word of rebels rebelling against the Empire can create the potential of insurgencies, Darth Vader sends their high-ranking agent of the Imperial Security Bureau named Agent Kallus (voiced by David Oyelwo) and an Inquisitor (an agency of the Dark Jedi in the Galactic Empire) to go after the crew of the Ghost.
Here is a spoiler-free synopsis of each episode in season 1:
- Episode 1 – Droids in Distress – Ezra and the crew of the Ghost try to steal a shipment of disruptor weapons.
- Episode 2 – Fighter Flight – Because they got off on a bad start, Hera sends Ezra and Zeb on a supply run together.
- Episode 3 – Rise of the Old Masters – The rebels discover an underground transmission that Jedi Master Luminara Undul has survived Order 66 and is being held in a high-security Imperial prison on Stygeon rime. The crew wants to free the Jedi Master.
- Episode 4 – Breaking Ranks – Ezra goes undercover as an Imperial Academy cadet and befriends two cadets.
- Episode 5 – Out of Darkness – Hera and Sabine go to an abandoned Republic asteroid base to retrieve supplies.
- Episode 6 – Empire Day – A parade celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Empire’s creation. Ezra finds out that his Rodian friend Tseebo is wanted by the Empire.
- Episode 7 – Gathering Forces – Ezra finds out distressing news from Tseebo in regards to his parents.
- Episode 8 – Path of the Jedi – Seeing Ezra’s anger during the fight against the Inquisitor, Kanan brings Ezra to a hidden Jedi Temple in Lothal for training.
- Episode 9 – Idiot’s Array – Zeb has lost a bet with smuggler Lando Calrissian, and now the crew must assist Lando.
- Episode 10 – Vision of Hope – Ezra has a vision of meeting Gall Trayvis, an exiled Imperial senator and rebel sympathizer.
- Episode 11 – Call to Action – The rebels debate to broadcast their message to nearby star systems about their cause.
- Episode 12 – Rebel Resolve – The crew of the Ghost try to find a way to rescue Kanan from the Empire.
- Episode 13 – Fire Across the Galaxy – The search and rescue of Kanan continues in the season finale.
“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). “Star Wars Rebels” features its own unique visual style and for the most part, it’s pretty cool to see how much detail is put into the space vehicles and the planets. While closeups do show skin detail and the lips match the dialogue really well, the Stormtroopers have lights of the interior of the vehicles bouncing of their uniforms and for the most part, the series features really good lighting effects.
Granted, the CG animation is subjective to the viewer if one likes the visuals of the CG animated series, but for me, I felt the series was well-animated and there was great attention in creating the various worlds, vehicle usage and also overall effects were well-done.
I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of each episode.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” is presented in English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.
I would say that I’m a bit surprised that the series on Blu-ray does not utilize a DTS-HD Master Audio track like the final three seasons of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” but in this case, they decided to go with a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.
While dialogue is crystal clear, especially the John Williams musical score and light saber sound effects and utilizing the surround channels for the action sequences, it would have been awesome to have a lossless soundtrack for the Blu-ray release.
“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” comes with the following special features:
- Rebels Recon – (44:07) 14 featurettes from “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” that were featured on StarWars.com
- Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration – (4:03) The Q&A for “Star Wars: Rebels” at Star Wars Celebration.
- Rebels: The Ultimate Guide – (22:05) A special first season recap narrated by Kanan.
- Season 2: A Look Ahead – (7:02) A featurette of things to look for in season 2 by Executive Producer Dave Filoni.
“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” comes with a slipcover and a DisneyMovieRewards code.
As the world highly anticipate the new “Star Wars” films, for those who have enjoyed any of the “Star Wars” animated series can easily enjoy the storyline of “Star Wars Rebels”.
As there are rebel cells in the galaxy who fight the oppression of the Empire, “Star Wars Rebels” is fairly interesting as the Ghost Crew consists of a Jedi and a thief turned jedi-in-training plus a tough Lasat honor guard that young male audiences can enjoy, the show also takes a step in the right direction of including two strong female characters.
You have a Twi-lek owner and pilot of the Ghost and female teen graffiti artist in Mandalorian outfit and helmet and is a weapons expert. So, you have a good balance of characters that will no doubt entertaining both male and female audiences and it’s centered around the whole “Star Wars” universe, so you can definitely expect to see C-3PO and R2-D2, Lando Calrissian and yes, even baddies such as Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin.
And for fans of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, many will be happy to see the return of Jedi Ahsoka Tano (who was the Padawan apprentice of Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”), but this time as an adult.
While “Star Wars” fans also get to enjoy a few episodes written by George Lucas, the overall writing and voice acting for the series is fantastic. Each episode is adventurous and also full of peril and each episode features something with a character(s) that has an effect in the next or later episodes. So, unlike animated series which tend to have its own isolated episode with no connection to each other, “Star Wars Rebels” episodes have a connection which I enjoyed.
As for the Blu-ray release, I absolutely enjoy the visual look of “Star Wars: Rebels”. Great character and mechanical designs that feature detailed CG that look vibrant on Blu-ray. I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues. As for the soundtrack, unfortunately it’s not a lossless soundtrack, but it’s still a strong 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack featuring clear dialogue, music and special effects.
As for special features, the series comes with plenty of special features including 14 featurettes as featured on StarWars.com, a short Star Wars Celebration featurette (exclusive on Blu-ray), a recap episode and a look ahead of what to expect in season 2.
Overall, “Star Wars Rebels” is fantastic! The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching!
If you have been curious about “Star Wars Rebels”, I highly recommend checking out “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One”!
Wu Jing’s second film as a director and action star showcases him as one willing to take on risks in order to get the shots he wanted on camera. While “Wolf Warrior” is an exciting popcorn action film, just don’t expect anything too deep or realistic.
TITLE: Wolf Warrior
FILM RELEASE: 2015
DURATION: 91 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Directed by Wu Jing
Producer: Lv Jinamin
Wu Jing as Sgt. Leng Feng
Scott Adkins as Tom Cat
Yu Nan as Lt. Col. Long Xiaoyun
Ni Dahong as Ming Deng
Kevin Lee as Crazy Bull
Kyle Shapiro as Monkey
An Elite Squad of Mercenaries Just Met Their Deadliest Target. Sergeant Leng Feng (Wu Jing), top marksman of the Chinese Special Forces, is jailed under court martial for disobeying orders. But he’s just the kind of fighter the Wolf Warriors are looking for. Silent. Stealthy. Deadly. The Wolves bring Feng into their pack, honing his skills to a knife’s edge. But another team has Feng on their radar: a group of corrupt blades-for-hire, seeking revenge for the drug lord’s murder.
From martial arts actor Wu Jing (“Tai Chi II”, “The Mummy”, “Shaolin”, “SPL: Kill Zone”) comes his second film “Wolf Warriors” in which he directs and also has the starring role.
The 2015 film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in Sept. 2015 courtesy of Well Go USA.
The film revolves around Sergeant Leng Feng (portrayed by Wu Jing), a Chinese Special Forces marksman who is facing a court martial because he didn’t follow orders in the field.
During a mission, in order to save his fellow soldiers, Feng took out a drug leader, when his order was to stand down.
But because of his skill, he is assigned to the Tier 1 elite Chinese Special Forces Unit known as “War Wolf”, thanks to Lt. Col. Long Xiaoyun (portrayed by Yu Nan), a Commander of the Chinese Special Forces Unit.
Meanwhile, the drug leader’s older brother, the drug lord known as Ming Deng (portrayed by Ni Dahong), has hired ex-US Navy Seal “Tom Cat” (portrayed by Scott Adkins, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “The Bourne Ultimatum”, “The Expendables 2”) and several top mercenaries to kill Sgt. Leng Feng as revenge for murdering his brother.
And on the day that War Wolf is on a practice mission, they are attacked.
“Wolf Warrior” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 2:38:1 aspect ratio. It’s important to note that the film was presented in 3D at theaters, the version on Blu-ray is 2D. Picture quality is very good, with a good amount of detail. The CG is probably is a little problematic as it doesn’t look realistic. Especially a scene against wolves, which the CG sequence would fit a fantasy adventure film than a war film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Wolf Warrior” is presented in Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels but also the action sequences which utilize the surround channels and LFE well. The film is not super immersive but sounds very good on Blu-ray!
“Wolf Warrior” comes with theatrical trailer.
Many countries have their nationalistic war films and while most films are focused on actual war or some sort of skirmish from that country’s history, “Wolf Warrior” tries to showcase their special force within their special forces, an elite brigade known as the Wolves.
But “Wolf Warrior” is an interesting action film as a hellbent drugdealer hiring foreign mercenaries to take out the Wolves and pitting action star Wu Jing as Sgt. Feng as the martial arts hero/excellent marksman in a role that I found almost reminiscent of ’80s American action war films but of course, a Chinese setting, martial arts and technology.
As an popcorn action film, the film works in the manner of wanting to see how Sgt. Feng and company are able to bring down the elite foreign mercenaries but there are some major missteps.
For one, one scene has Feng and company taking on giant wolves. The wolves look to CG and while they would work for fantasy films, it seems so out of place in this film.
But when they focus on the action, that is when the movie is most effective. No CG, just straight up war action and the camaraderie story of brothers fighting for their country and proud to defend their country.
But Wu Jing and staff really sacrificed a lot to get this movie made. As you can see by the ending reel, many people were injured in the making of this film and action scenes looking authentic were priority.
As for the Blu-ray release, close-up details are well-done and the fact that the majority of the film is shot outdoors, colors are well-produced, but each time they go back to the headquarter scenes that were shot on green screen, it just doesn’t look as effective. Lossless audio is well-done, not entirely immersive but it does sound good in HD. Unfortunately, there are no special features but a theatrical trailer.
Overall, Wu Jing’s second film as a director and action star showcases him as one willing to take on risks in order to get the shots he wanted on camera. While “Wolf Warrior” is an exciting popcorn action film, just don’t expect anything too deep or realistic.
As the first six episodes are no doubt thrilling, smart and exciting, I look forward to see how the story for “Aldnoah.Zero” progresses overtime! So, if you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 1 a try! Recommended!
Images courtesy of © 2014 Olympia Knights/Aniplex, Project AZ. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1
YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 1-6 (150 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles
COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.
RATED: Suggested 13 and Up
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Original Created by Gen Urobuchi
Directed by Ei Aoki
Series Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama
Music by Hiroyuki Sawano
Character Design by Masaki Matsumoto
Art Director by Akira Ito
Anime Production by A-1 Pictures, TROYCA
Featuring the voices of:
Kensho Ono/Zach Aguilar as Slaine Troyard
Natsuki Hanae/Max Mittelman as Inaho Kaiduka
Sora Amamiya/Erika Harlacher as Asseylum Vers Allusia
Ai Kakuma/Christine Marie Cabanos as Nina Klein
Ai Kayano/Julie Anne Taylor as Darzana Magbaredge
Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Vlad
Inori Minase/Sandy Fox as Eddelrittuo
Kazuya Nakai/Matthew Mercer as Koichiro Marito
Kengo Kawanishi/Kyle McCarley as Kisaki Matsuribi
Kousuke Toriumi/Ethan Murray as Soma Yagarai
Makoto Furukawa/Alan Lee as Shigou Kakei
Mikako Komatsu/Erica Mendez as Inko Amifumi
Sachika Misawa/Cristina Vee as Rayet Areash
Sayaka Ohara/Erica Lindbeck as Yuki Kaiduka
Shinji Ogawa/Geoffrey Chalmers as Rayregalia Vers Rayvers
Sho Hayami/Lex Lang as Cruhteo
Sōma Saitō/Lucien Dodge as Yuutarou Tsumugi
Taishi Murata/Bryce Papenbrook as Calm Craftman
Takahiro Sakurai /Todd Haberkorn as Trillam
Toru Ohkawa as Saazbaum
Yoshitaka Yamaya/Bobby Thong as Okisuke “Okojo” Mikuni
Yu Shimamura/Trina Loo as Kaoru Mizusaki
Yuki Kaida/Carrie Kernanen as Femieanne
Fifteen years have passed since the hypergate collapsed on the moon’s surface – a catastrophe known as the Heaven’s Fall. The war between Earth and the VERS Empire of Mars is now in a cease-fire.
The VERS’ Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia descends upon Earth as an ambassador hoping to encourage reconciliation while some citizens are not willing to compromise. Inaho Kaizuka, a Terran high school student… and Slaine Troyard, who swears his allegiance to Princess Assylum… Their fates cross as both societies watch in horror as a missile crashes on Asseylum’s motorcade. This incident marks the beginning of a new war.
From Gen Urobuchi, the creator of “Fate/Zero”, “Phantom – The Animation” and writer for “Psycho-Pass” and “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, comes the 2014 sci-fi anime series titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO”.
Featuring anime production from A-1 Pictures and TROYCA, the series is directed by Ei Aoki (“Fate/Zero”, “Ga-Rei Zero”, “Girls Bravo”), screenplay by Katsuhiko Takayama (“Cat Planet Cuties”, “Baka and Test – Summon the Beats”, “ef: a tale of melodies”, “Stratos 4”), music by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Blue Exorcist”, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”, “Attack on Titan”), character designs by Masako Matsumoto and art direction by Akira Ito (“AKB0048”, “Baccano!”, “Durara!!”, “Elfen Lied”).
The 24-episode anime series debuted back in July 2014 and ended in March 2015. And now the anime series will be released on Blu-ray in July 2015 courtesy of Aniplex Inc.
“Aldnoah.Zero” Vol. 1 sets up the story of how Earth was attacked by the Vers Empire.
Back in 1972, an ancient alien hypergate was discovered on the moon and humans have used this technology to migrate to Mars and begin colonizing the planet. The settlers on Mars discovered new advanced technology and would create the Vers Empire and later claim the planet Mars and the advanced technology as their own. The Vers Empire look at them as elite and evolved versions of humanity and are prejudice against the Terrans (Earth-born humans).
The Vers Empire would declare war on Earth and in 1999, the hypergate on the Moon was destroyed but in the process, shattering the Moon leaving debris floating around the planet Earth.
This would lead to a cease fire for nearly 15 years until the Vers Empire would once again launch a new attack in order to conquer Earth.
We are introduced to Inaho Kaizuki, a pilot in training, who lives in the city of Shinawara with his sister Yuki, a Kataphrakt pilot for the Earth’s military.
One day when Inaho and friends go to see the arrival of Asseylum Vers, the Princess of Vers, terrorists attack and it is assumed that the Princess was killed. In retaliation, the Martian Vers Orbital Knights do a full assault on Earth and destroying a number of major cities.
While holed up in school, Inaho and his friends decide to fight against the Vers.
“Aldnoah.Zero” consists of the following main characters:
- Inaho Kaizuka – A pilot in training living on Earth and the top of his class. He lives with his older sister, Yuki and is often stoic and showing no emotion. He is good with coming up with strategies to fight against the Martian Knights.
- Slaine Troyard – A Terran (Earth-born human) who is a slave to the Versian County Cruhteno and the nemesis of Inaho. He is close to Princess Asseylum and is responsible for saving her. He is very loyal to the Princess.
- Asseylum Vers Allusia – The First Princess of the Vers Empire and is close to Slaine. She is curious about Earth and unlike the Vers Empires, she has no ill feelings towards the Terrans.
- Inko Amifumi – Inaho’s childhood friend and classmate. She is a member of the Student Council Committee and has feelings towards Inaho.
- Rayet Areash – A Martian girl living on Earth. She and her friends are responsible for the assassination attempt on Princess Asseylum, in exchange for the promise of extraction back to Mars and knighthood under the Vers Empire.
- Eddelrittuo – A young Martian girl who serves Princess Asseylum as her maid.
- Cruhteo – A Count of the Vers Empire and one of the Martian Knights who often abuses Slaine.
- Saazbaum – A County ofthe Vers Empire, one of the Martian Knights and one desperately wanting a war between Mars and Earth.
- Yuki Kaizuka – Older sister of Inaho and a Warrant Officer in the United Forces of Earth. She can pilot a Kataphract and often worries about her younger brother.
- Koichiro Marito – A Lieutenant in the United Forces of Earth. He is a training instructor at Inaho’s high school. A veteran of the War of 1999 and suffers PTSD due to the war, he is fearful of the power of Aldnoah, having witnessed it first hand. He also is aware that the governments of Earth has not publicized any information about what happened 15 years ago.
“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition. One of the first things you will notice is how detailed backgrounds are and also mechanical designs. As a sci-fi series, the futuristic settings are gorgeously painted, the mecha are welldesigned and as for character designs, while line art is simple, but shaded, it’s the backgrounds and environments that helps boost the overall presentation of the anime series.
But overall anime production from A-1 Pictures is very good and I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.
“Aldnoah.Zero” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack.Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.
“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1” comes with the following special features:
- Textless Opening for “Heavenly blue”
- Trailers – Featuring two trailers for “Aldnoah.Zero”
- Commercials – Featuring six commercials for “Aldnoah.Zero”
- Count to A/Z – (23:43) A featurette about the making of “Aldnoah.Zero” and featuring interviews with the staff.
“Aldnoah.Zero Vol. 1” comes with a slipcase, six collectible postcards, a 36-page booklet titled “ALDNOAH.ZERO x TAKAKO SHIMURA ‘CHARACTER ARCHIVES'” (featuring character information and sketches) and two collectible pin-up postcards.
For sci-fi and mecha fans, every few years, there is an always an anime series that captivates you because of its deep storyline, high attention to mecha, its characters and typically revolving around some sort of war.
While the concept is quite banal in Japanese animation, what’s more important is how the story sticks out, while others await for an anime series that can deliver in serious plots and battles in comparison to anime classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Neon Genesis Evangelion”.
While “Aldnoah.Zero” has elements that people have seen before, in some ways, the anime series feels as if it was inspired by classic “Mobile Suit Gundam” and the sci-fi series “Stargate”.
While I don’t want to spoil the anime series for those interested in watching the first volume which includes the first six episodes, the story does show parallel lives of one living in Mars and despised by the Martian inhabitants because he is Terran (an Earth-born human), while we get to see another side of a Martian in Earth, with the perspective of the Princess.
Of course, the early episodes is more about introducing us to the war and the history between Earth and Mars, the Vers Empire and its main protagonists and antagonists, but trying to show how war was inevitable and how far others would go to see both planets break the peace treaty and fight.
As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures has done a great job in providing a series with gorgeous art backgrounds and mechanical design. Picture quality is very good via HD and the lossless audio soundtrack is stereo but dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear, as with its captivating musical score. Both Japanese and English soundtracks sound great and voice talents on both ends are well-done! Also, included on the Blu-ray are several special features including a “making-of” with interviews with the Japanese staff of the series.
As for extras, you get an awesome “ALDNOAH ZERO x TAKAKO SHIMURA “CHARACTER ARCHIVES” booklet plus two pin-up postcards.
Overall, as the first six episodes are no doubt thrilling, smart and exciting, I look forward to see how the story for “Aldnoah.Zero” progresses overtime! So, if you love deep, well-written and exciting mecha sci-fi, then definitely give “Aldnoah.Zero” vol. 1 a try! Recommended!
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is a enjoyable and wonderful film about the toque macaque primates in Sri Lanka. Featuring a well-written, well-edited and gorgeous nature documentary, Disneynature fans will no doubt enjoy “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”.
TITLE: Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom
FILM RELEASE: 2015
DURATION: 81 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
RATED: G (General Audiences)
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Directed by Mark Linfield, Alastair Fothergill
Producer: Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography by Gavin Thurton
Edited by Andy Netley
Tina Fey (Narrator)
From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Chimpanzee and Bears, comes MONKEY KINGDOM, a spectacular tale set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya, a clever and resourceful monkey, finds her world forever changed when she welcomes her son Kip into her colorful extended family. As Maya strives to keep Kip safe through unexpected and sometimes perilous adventures, amazing footage captures all the magic and surprises of their magnificent world. Maya and her family will make you laugh and warm your heart as she realizes her dreams for her son’s future.
Since 2008, Disneynature, an independent film label of the Walt Disney Studios based in France has been releasing nature documentary films.
With the release of “Earth” in 2007, which would make over $108 million worldwide, for their eighth film titled “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”, the focus would be on the toque macaque in the ancient ruins deep inside the jungles of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka.
The film is narrated by actress Tina Fey (“Saturday Night Live”, “30 Rock”, “Mean Girls”) and the film was released internationally on April 23rd to coincide with Earth Day and box office receipts were donated to Conservation International.
And now, “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” will be released on Blu-ray and HD in Sept. 2015.
The story introduces us to the hierarchy of a group of the toque macaque, primates who have those who are born into a higher level receiving attention and getting what they want (which often is the best food and living up high on the fig trees), while those in the lower levels not getting the same treatment.
The film focuses on Maya, a toque macaque who lives in the lower level and her story of how she is able to advanced in the social strata of the group. Maya falls for an outside toque macaque wanting to gain entrance to the tribe, Kumar wants to win Maya’s affections. But because Raja is the alpha male of the tribe of monkeys, she must contend with him around, but also the high status females known as The Sisterhood.
From Maya giving birth to a baby named Kip, which she has to raise alone and brave the dangers of the jungle but also how the tribe of monkeys must prepare for a coup by another tribe of neighboring monkeys and forced to find a new home.
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Shot in Sri Lanka primarily outdoors with Sony F65 cameras, the picture quality is fantastic as detail is wonderful, colors are vibrant and definitely a gorgeous Disneynature film on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Descriptive Audio. Tina Fey’s narration is crystal clear, as well as the music by British composer Harry Gregson-Williams. There is also good use of the surround channels for ambiance of the natural environments.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Disney Nature: Monkey Kingdom” comes with the following special features:
- tales from the kingdom – (12:12) Behind-the-scenes of the making of “Monkey Kingdom”.
- On the set of “Monkey Kingdom” with Jane Goodall and Wolfgang Dittus – (5:50) Featuring interviews with the crew of “Monkey Kingdom” and interviews with Jane Goodall (Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute, Disneynature Ambassador) and Wolfgang Dittus (Primatologist) who visited Sri Lanka.
- Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom: The Conservation Story – (7:54) Dr. M. Sanjayan (EVP Conservation International – Disneynature Ambassador) revisits Sri Lanka and where “Monkey Kingdom” was filmed and saving the planet by planting trees.
- “It’s Our World” music video – (3:16) “It’s Our World” performed by Jacquie Lee
- A special thank you from disneynature – (2:14) A short featurette about the “Disneynature” releases.
“Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film. Also, a DisneyMovieRewards code.
I have to commend Walt Disney Studios and also Crazy Ape Productions and Silverback Films for “Monkey Kingdom”.
Disneynature films for the most part, are well-produced, educational and a lot of fun, thanks to the well-crafted storyline typically narrated by a celebrity and in this case, for “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”, the film receives wonderful narration from actress Tina Fey.
And because of the environment of shooting in the jungle, with a lot of dangerous animals and amphibians nearby, the crew went all-out to capture hours upon hours of footage of Maya and the tribe of toque macaque, but also other animals within their dwellings and what they were able to capture is amazing.
One of the surprising things about watching this film is seeing that the toque macques live in a highly structured area where social status is important.
Dominant hierarchies, such as the three sisters (The Sisterhood) treat their children as if they are the best and they watch over their tree of great fruit, which is only for them. In fact, because of their hierarchy, they are entitled to what they want in the jungle.
And alongside of them is the alpha male of the jungle, Raja, who also is very protective of the tribe and he has his own set of monkeys that will go to war or fight for him, which was interesting to see.
But of course, the film is about Maya, who lives in the bottom of the hierarchy and falls for Kumar, another toque macaque from another neighboring area who wants to be part of the group, but most of all find his mate…and that is Maya.
As the film tries to showcase the hierarchy, the more surprising developments in the film happens when she gives birth and seeing the difference between the haves and have-nots within the toque macaque tribe.
But also seeing the danger that these tribes face from neighboring macaque and how dangerous they are to one another, and how some of them don’t make it alive.
While the film is fine for families, the film does have a scene of two monkey’s dead. Granted, you don’t see the body closeup, but the dead body is meant to show audiences of the dangers that happen in the jungle.
We also learn about how the macaque are not far from human population and how these forests are quite close to neighborhoods and markets.
While the film doesn’t get into the negatives of human habitation and the thread and endangerment of the toque macaque, the film tries to focus more on the positive and if anything, on Maya and her being a mother and trying to keep her son well-fed and protected, but also her climb on the social ladder in the toque macaque hierarchy.
The film looks absolutely detailed and vibrant on Blu-ray and the narration by Tina Fey and the musical score are crystal clear. As for special features, you get several of them, especially fascinating featurettes on the making of the film, but also seeing two professionals, Jane Goodall and Wolfgang Dittus traveling to Sri Lanka and visiting the toque macaque. But also a positive featurette such as the Conservation Story.
Overall, “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom” is a enjoyable and wonderful film about the toque macaque primates in Sri Lanka. Featuring a well-written, well-edited and gorgeous nature documentary, Disneynature fans will no doubt enjoy “Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom”.
“Day for Night” is a Truffaut masterpiece. For its time and a story that still is relevant today, a filmmaker presenting to the audience of the making of a film, the problems that can occur in production and how one’s goal to create a magnificent film, is not always the end product. Featuring magnificent performances from a stellar cast, Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” is a film that is highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © 1973 by Les Films du Carrosse S.A. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769
YEAR OF FILM: 1973
DURATION: 116 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:66:1, French Monaural, Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Warner Brothers/THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: August 18, 2015
Directed by Francois Truffaut
Screenplay by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, Suzanne Schiffman
Produced by Marcel Berbert
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn
Edited by Martine Barraque, Yann Dedet
Production Design by Damien Lanfranchi
Art Direction by Damien Lanfranchi
Costume Design by Monique Dury
Jacqueline Bisset as Julie Baker
Valentina Cortese as Severine
Jean-Pierre Aumont as Alexandre
Dani as Liliane, la stagiaire scripte
Jean Champion as Bertrand, le producteur
Alexandrea Stewart as Stacey
Jean-Pierre Leaud as Alphonse
Nathalie Baye as Joelle, la scripte
Francoise Truffaut as Ferrand, le realisateur
This loving farce from François Truffaut (Jules and Jim) about the joys and turbulence of moviemaking is one of his most beloved films. Truffaut himself appears as the harried director of a frivolous melodrama, the shooting of which is plagued by the whims of a neurotic actor (The 400 Blows’ Jean-Pierre Léaud); an aging but still forceful Italian diva (Juliet of the Spirits’ Valentina Cortese); and a British ingenue haunted by personal scandal (Bullitt’s Jacqueline Bisset). An irreverant paean to the prosaic craft of cinema as well as a delightful human comedy about the pitfalls of love and sex, Day for Night is buoyed by robust performances and a sparkling score by the legendary Georges Delerue (Contempt).
In 1973, Francois Truffaut’s latest French film “La Nuite americaine” (a.k.a. “Day for Night”) was released in theaters.
The title of the film is named after the filmmaking process where sequences filmed outdoors during the daylight are shot using film stock balancd for tungsten light and underexposed to appear as if the scene was taken place during the night.
The film would feature an ensemble cast which includes Truffaut, Jacqueline Bisset (“Bullitt”, “Murder on the Orient Express”, “The Deep”), Valentina Cortese (“The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”, “Juliet of the Spirits”, “Barefoot Contessa”), Jean-Pierre Leaud (“The 400 Blows”, “Masculin Feminin”, “Stolen Kisses”), Jean-Pierre Aumont (“Turn the Other cheek”, “Lili”, “Hotdel du Nord”), Dani (“Love on the Run”, “Avenue Montaigne”, “Story of Women”), Jean Champion (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, “Le Cercle Rouge”, “Coup de Torchon”), Alexandra Stewart (“Under the Sand”, “Black Moon”, “The Bride Wore Black”), Nathalie Baye (“An Affair of Love”, “Tell No One”, “Catch Me If You Can”) and many more.
The film won a 1974 BAFTA Award for “Best Film” and the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film”, also earning nominations for “Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress” for Valentina Cortese and “Academy Award for Directing” for Francois Truffaut.
Often considered as one of Truffau’s masterpieces next to “The 400 Blows”, the film would also receive a lot of hype as the film that destroyed the friendship between Francois Truffaut and filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (who was disgusted by the film and called it a “Lie”), which would then prompt Truffaut to write a personal letter which literally featured many emotions that Truffaut had held onto many years towards his former friend.
One of the films that Truffaut fans have been waiting for a Criterion Collection release, “Day for Night” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection in August 2015.
“Day for Night” is set during the film production of “Je Vous Present Pamela” (I Want You to Meet Pamela) starring aging screen icon Alexandre (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Aumont), former film diva Severine (portrayed by Valentina Cortese), popular young actor Alphonse (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud) and British actress, Julie Baker (portrayed by Jacqueline Bisset).
The film would be about Alexandre’s character falling for his son’s wife.
But “Day for Night” would show the dilemmas facing the actors and crew.
Julie Baker had a nervous breakdown and is married to the elder, Dr. Nelson. She has to play the main character Pamela but is often having to wait for her co-star Alphonse make it to the set.
Alphonse is spoiled and needy and is dating one of the crew members. He is infatuated with her, while she feels that he smothers her and often tries to find solace with other men. Because of his emotional instability, he is often late to the set or in a bad mood.
Severine is an aging artist who comes to the set drunk and is seen as a person with a drinking problem, but because of her status as an icon, no one dares interrupt her.
Director Ferrand (Truffaut) and producer Bertrand Jean Champion are trying to create a film but with holdups during the making of the film and money lost, they will need to improvise by removing scenes altogether.
Meanwhile, crew are affected by the emotional instability of the actors, must deal with the situations on set and find ways to pass the time.
And with all the problems, will “Je Vous Present Pamela” ever be completed?
“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:66:1 aspect ratio). The film features a good amount of grain looks good for its age. Colors are well saturated, skin tones look natural.
For the most part, watching the film in HD as skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and no signs of DNR or any problematic issues such as scratches, jitter, etc.
According to the Criterion Collection, the film was “supervised by director of photography Pierre-William Glenn, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a Lasergraphics Director film scanner from a 35 mm interpositive at MPI in Los Angeles. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches and splices were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker and jitter.”
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the lossless audio, “Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769”. The French monaural soundtrack is crystal clear with no sign of hiss or popping.
According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35 mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation and iZotope RX 4”.
“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” comes with the following special features:
- Dreams of Cinema – (11:27) A new video essay by filmmaker ::kogonada exploring the many layers of director Francois Truffaut’s masterpiece “Day for Night”.
- Dudley Andrew – (20:36) Dudley Andrew talks about the Jean Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut’s argument.
- “Day for Night”: An Appreciation – (17:09) A 2003 documentary by film scholar Annette Insdorf analyzing “Day for Night”.
- Truffaut: A View from the Inside – (6:27) A 1973 behind-the-scenes documentary featuring footage of director Francois Truffaut working on the set for “Day for Night”.
- Interviews – Featuring interviews with Francois Truffaut, Pierre-William Glenn, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Nathalie Baye, Bernard Menez, Dani, Yann Dedet, Martine Barraque
- Archival Footage – Excerpt from three television broadcasts: October 4, 1972 (newsreel footage, 2:49), June 8, 1973 (“Pour le cinema”, 11:09), January 3, 1974 (“JT nuit”, 2:01).
- Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Day for Night”.
“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” comes with a six-page fold-out insert with the essay “Are Movies Magic by” by David Cairn.
Francois Truffaut was a distinguished filmmaker who gave everything to cinema. He never sought notoriety, he never attacked his colleagues nor did he try to put himself in a negative and dire situation for the sake of earning money for a film. Although, he spared no expense of making use of people’s lives for the sake of creating art.
He was a filmmaker that did what he wanted, but respected the craft of cinema and through his film and also written oeuvre, his passion, his critique and his dedication to cinema has been widely recorded and presented to the public.
“Day for Night” is a unique film because it’s about the making of a film, its challenges and while not 100% self-reflective, one can see the film as Truffaut’s single film paying tribute to cinema but also inspirations and experiences he had from other films.
The film is also fascinating of how Truffaut is able to create all these sequences and manage them to create the film, the lives of cast and crew members during the production of a film. It’s a tricky storyline to create and make cohesive but by this time, Truffaut has directed and learned from cinema greats, has become a cinema great himself but yet, as we can see during the production of “Je Vous Present Pamela”, it’s not the film that he hoped to make.
The vision of the director can always be derailed by cast, crew, budget and many other situations and as we can see from the production of “Je Vous Present Pamela”, the director must go through many hurdles, especially in order to finish a film that is becoming different than what was written and envisioned.
It was a sign of the changes in cinema and for the director who continually had nightmares, one can understand the stress a filmmaker must endure of trying to manage the set, the cast and crew and to continually adapt for all negative situations and make compromises to one’s film.
And quite possibly show that creating a film and showing to the audience that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
The film features a wonderful cast and the performances by Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Pierre Leaud and others are fantastic. Even Francois Truffaut did a very good job in his first credited role (his next credited role would be in the sci-fi film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” as Claude Lacombe and in “The Green Room” as Julien Davenne).
As for the Blu-ray release, the film looks wonderful in HD. The film doesn’t look aged and there are no problematic issues with noise or artifacts. The losless audio is crystal clear ala French Monaural with no hissing or crackle. Special features include interviews but also documentaries that explore Francois Truffaut’s oeuvre but also the heated argument that led to the dissolution of the friendship between Truffaut and Godard.
Overall, “Day for Night” is a Truffaut masterpiece. For its time and a story that still is relevant today, a filmmaker presenting to the audience of the making of a film, the problems that can occur in production and how one’s goal to create a magnificent film, is not always the end product. Featuring magnificent performances from a stellar cast, Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” is a film that is highly recommended!
“Z Storm” is an exciting action thriller as Hong Kong’s anti-corruption force, the ICAC, must stop the biggest financial scam in Hong Kong, but to also stop the corruption of one of the heads in the police force. If you are looking for a flashy popcorn action film, “Z Storm” is worth watching!
TITLE: Z Storm
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 92 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Directed by David Lam
Written by David Lam, Ho Wa Wong
Executive Producer: Edmond Wong
Producer: John Chong
Co-Producer: Hong Tat Cheung
Associate Producer: Stephen Lam
Music by Anthony Chue
Cinematography by Tony Cheung
Edited by Chi-LEung Kwong, Hung Poon
Art Direction by Raymond Chan
Costume Design by Stephanie Wong
Louis Koo as William Luk Che Lim
Ka Tung Lam as Wong Man Bin
Dada Chan as Angel Leung On Ying
Michael Wong as MAlcom Wu
Janelle Sing as Tammy Tam
Hoi-Pang Lo as Law Tak Wing
Stephen Au as On Tat
Kwok Cheung Tsang as Joe Ma
Siu-Fai Cheung as Yu Hung Sing
Ying Kwan Lok as Tsui Wai King
Kai Chi Liu as Cheung Keong
An elite police investigation unit uncovers the biggest financial scam in Hong Kongs history, ensnaring them all in a web of deception, greed, sex, power, and fear.
It has been 15-years since filmmaker/actor David Lam had directed a film. His last “Shao nu dang” was released back in 1999, despite having a busy career during the late’80s to mid-’90s.
But Lam makes his return with a crime thriller which he wrote (screenplay was completed by Ho Wa Nong), and would star Louis Koo (“Triad Election”, “Election”, “Flash Point”), Ka Tung Lam (“Ip Man”, “Infernal Affairs”, “Election”), Dada Chan (Vulgaria”, Besieged City”) and Michael Wong (“Beast Cops”, “Thunder Bolt”, “Transformers: Age of Extinction”).
And now the 2014 film will be released on BLu-ray and DVD in North America courtesy of Well Go USA.
“Z Storm” is a film that revolves around William Luk (portrayed by Louis Koo) of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and they are tipped off that Officer Wong Man Ban (portrayed by Gordon Lam) is a corrupted officer, who heads one of the police divisions.
Wong Man Ban is secretly working for businessman Malcolm Wu (portrayed by Michael Wong), a man who is working for a mysterious unknown individual, trying to get well-known investors to back a Z Fund, which in reality is a Ponzi scheme.
Because of previous altercations between the ICAC and the police, Wong Man Ban does whatever he can to thward the ICAC from discovering that he is a corrupted cop.
Meanwhile, William and his team work around the clock to ensure that they find proof that Wong Man Ban and Malcolm Wu are involved in illegal activity. But they only have several days to do so.
Can the ICAC uncover the proof that they desperately need?
“Z Storm” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 2:38:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is fantastic as detail on the the skin, and for the most part, everything looks very clear with this digitally shot film. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Z Storm” is presented in Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels but also the action sequences during a chase scene, a firefight and more, sounding very cool coming from the surround channels. Also, use of LFE as well.
“Z Storm” comes with the following special features:
- Making Of – (5:12) Featuring a making of with interviews with director David Lam and cast members.
- Interviews – Featuring interviews with Louis Koo (5:38), Gordon Lam (11:45) and Michael Wong (7:27).
- Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Z Storm”.
As I was watching “Z Storm”, several things came to mind.
For one, I don’t think I have watched a Hong Kong film that focused on the activities on the ICAC. While there have been a good number of films about corrupted police, it was interesting to see the back-and-forth between the ICAC and corrupted police officers and seeing how they back up their own, but also seeing the rivalry among police divisions.
The other thing that came to mind was seeing the main protagonist, the ICAC’s William Luk (portrayed by Louis Koo). Decades later and similar to Aaron Kwok and Andy Lau, Koo is able to maintain his position as one of the leading men in Hong Kong cinema, but also men who still look as if they haven’t aged many years later.
Suffice to say, “Z Storm” is a fascinating action-thriller, that is more popcorn action film that a film that has a deep storyline.
While the film is entertaining, there was too much that director and writer David Lam tries to fit into the story. While the film is focused on trying to find evidence or uncover facts of corruption, the film unsuccessfully tries to enter a dramatic phase of William’s deceased wife which was unnecessary.
The film also tries to utilize too many characters and the primary antagonist earlier on, Wong Man Ban (portrayed by Gordon Lam) is somehow taken out of the picture towards the end of the film and tries to shift the storyline and put it on the shoulders of Malcolm Wu (portrayed by Michael Wong).
Instead of using Wong Man Ban’s corruption in the force and setting up a collision course between Wong and William Luk, Wong nearly disappears towards the end of the film and felt it was a misstep, since they were building on the character of Wong Man Ban as the rival to William.
But despite several missteps, I couldn’t help but be entertained by this story about the battle of wits and seeing how the ICAC would prevail.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is great, and the lossless soundtrack had its moments of immersive action through the surround channels. Special features are included, and they are basic but considering that many Asian films released on Blu-ray rarely contain special features, the fact that you get a half hour worth of special features is better than no special features at all.
Overall, “Z Storm” is an exciting action thriller as Hong Kong’s anti-corruption force, the ICAC, must stop the biggest financial scam in Hong Kong, but to also stop the corruption of one of the heads in the police force. If you are looking for a flashy popcorn action film, “Z Storm” is worth watching!
If you are a big fan of Disney’s animated shorts, then you’ll no doubt love this collection of 12 shorts together for the first time. Granted, hardcore Disney fans may have these on other Disney Blu-ray releases but there are a few that have never been released on Blu-ray or DVD until now. Entertaining, captivating and a lot of fun, I definitely recommend “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”!
Image courtesy of © 2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection
DURATION: 79 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA & 2.0 Descriptive Audio (on Selected Shorts), Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles
RELEASE DATE: August 18, 2015
From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes an extraordinary new collection of award-winning and beloved short films featuring Disney’s “Frozen Fever,” starring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven and Kristoff, and the Oscar(R)-nominated “Lorenzo” (Best Animated Short, 2004). The SHORT FILMS COLLECTION includes contemporary shorts starring classic cartoon characters, such as the groundbreaking 2013 Mickey Mouse Cartoon “Get A Horse!” as well as celebrated Oscar winners “Paperman” (2012) and “Feast” (2014). Enjoy them together for the first time in this must-own collection, with all-new extras, including introductions and interviews with the Disney Animation filmmakers themselves. “This clever collection of modern era Disney animated shorts is a must-have for any serious film fan.” (Jim Hill, Huffington Post)
For Disney fans, quite often we are treated with a Disney animated short. May it be, before the Disney Animated feature film or on a Blu-ray or DVD release, we are entertained by these shorts.
To be released on August 2015 is “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” which will include award-winning and beloved short films.
Included in this collection are:
- John Henry – (10:19) An animated short from 2000 about John Henry, the steel-driver. (Originally featured in Disney’s “American Legends” DVD release)
- Lorenzo – (4:51) An animated short from 2004 about a gluttonous cat named Lorenzo.
- The Little Matchgirl – (6:39) A small musical animation short from 2006 of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”. (Originally included in “The Little Mermaid: Diamond Edition)
- How to Hook Up Your Home Theater – (6:20) An animated short (non-CG) from 2007 featuring Goofy getting a home theater system. (Originally shown before the film “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets”)
- Tick Tock Tale – An animated short from 2010 about a mantle clock comes to the aid of a London clock shop’s expensive clocks when a thief breaks into the store.
- Prep & Landing Operation: Secret Santa – (6:53) An animated short from 2010 featuring Mrs. Claus hires Wayne and Lanny to find a mystery box in Santa’s office. (Originally included in “Prep & Landing/Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice – Totally Tinsel Collection”)
- The Ballad of Nessie – (5:33) An animated short from 2011 about Nessie home being turned into a golf course and how she found her home at Loch Ness. (Originally included in the 2011 “Winnie the Pooh” release)
- Tangled Ever After – (6:30) An animated short from 2012 featuring Rapunzel and Flynn’s marriage and the missing wedding ring. (Originally included in “Cinderella: Diamond Edition).
- Paperman – (6:34) “Paperman” is an animated short from 2012 and is a love story about a man who sees the woman he fell in love at first sight and tries to get her attention at a building across from his, by throwing paper airplanes. (Originally included in “Wreck-It-Ralph: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”)
- Get A Horse! – (6:02) An animated short from 2013 featuring Mickey Mouse (classic B&W version) who is kicked out of the screen and his CG version tries to find a way to get back and save Minnie. A combination of hand-drawn graphics and CG. (Originally included in “Frozen: Collector’s Edition”)
- Feast – (6:14) Featuring a short animation from 2014 about a dog who loves to eat and his master. (Originally included in “Big Hero 6” Blu-ray)
- Frozen Fever – (7:58) An animated short from 2015 featuring Elsa & Kristoff, who are trying to create a surprise birthday celebration for Anna, but Elsa’s cold may get in the way.
It’s important to note that with each short, you have the option to watch the short with the creative staff introduction. You also can select each short individually or play all.
Each of the shorts presented in “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” look absolutely fantastic in HD. Presented in 1080p High Definition, if you have never watched these shorts in HD, will appreciate the work and detail of the shorts. Of course, there are different types of animated shorts, from the hand drawn style and the CG style, but all look magnificent in HD!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the lossless audio, “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” features lossless audio in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spansih 5.1 & 2.0 and French 5.1 Dolby Digital language tracks. Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music, with more recent shorts utilizing the surround channels.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” comes with the following special features:
- Short Introductions – Featuring a quick introduction by a director or animation crew for each of the shorts featured.
“Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” comes with a Disney Movie Rewards code. Also, you will get access to the not-included animated short “Runaway Brain”.
For many of us who have went to the theater to watch a Disney animated film and to be treated with an animated short, there are no doubt shorts that standout.
While many Disney fans have them included on a Blu-ray or DVD release, unless one is hardcore enough to buy all Disney titles or purchase them digitally online, there are a few that have never been released on any media until now.
With the Disney release of “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”, Disney fans will be treated to never-released shorts such as “Lorenzo” and “Tick Tock Tale”. Including one animated short that “Frozen” fans have been waiting for, “Frozen Fever” featuring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaff together again.
The collection also features a few of my favorite animated shorts that I absolutely love.
“Paperman” which I watched at the theater before “Wreck-it-Ralph” is a wonderful and enchanting animated short. I was captivated by the story of discovered love.
“Feast” which I watched before “Big Hero 6” is another tale about a dog and its owner through the help of his hungry dog… finding love, losing love and rediscovering love once again.
Another favorite is the groundbreaking “Get A Horse!” short combining hand drawn animation with CG animation and showcasing Mickey Mouse.
For the most part, you are getting a solid collection of nearly 80-minutes of shorts and each looks and sounds wonderful on Blu-ray. While there are no special features per se, there are quick introductions by a few of the creative staff behind each animated short.
Also, unlike the streaming version of the “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”, introductions can be turned on or off and you can view each short individually or everything via play all.
It’s important to note that if you enter the Digital Movie Rewards code, you will get access to an animated short not included titled “Runaway Brain”.
In this short, Dr. Frankenollie, a mad scientist, swaps Mickey’s brain into a monster’s body, and vice versa, the monsterized Mickey becomes obsessed with pursuing Minnie. But when the Mickeyized monster tries to save her, his intentions are misunderstood.
It was probably not included on the Blu-ray and DVD release because it may be too dark or scary for young children, but it was interesting to see a video-game addicted Mickey Mouse who becomes monsterized.
Overall, if you are a big fan of Disney’s animated shorts, then you’ll no doubt love this collection of 12 shorts together for the first time. Granted, hardcore Disney fans may have these on other Disney Blu-ray releases but there are a few that have never been released on Blu-ray or DVD until now.
Entertaining, captivating and a lot of fun, I definitely recommend “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”!