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Moana (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Moana” resonated with me, entertained me but also made me respect the work of Ron Clements and John Musker so much more. Especially for Disney for taking on an animation that involves Polynesian culture, hiring those who are of Polynesian descent but also listening to Pacific Islanders for feedback in regards to the how their culture is depicted. “Moana” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Moana

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 107 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080P High Definition 2:39:1, 1080p High Definition, English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG (For Peril, Some Scary Images and Brief Thematic Elements)

RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2017


Directed by Ron Clements, John Musker

Co-Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams

Screenplay by Jared Bush

Story by Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribon, Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell

Producer: Osnat Shurer

Executive Producer: John Lasseter

Associate Producer: Nicole P. Hearon

Music by Mark Mancina, Opetaia Foa’i, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Edited by Jeff Draheim

Casting by Jamie Sparer Roberts, Rachel Sutton

Production Design by Ian Gooding


Featuring the Voices of:

Auli’l Cravalho as Moana

Dwayne Johnson as Maui

Rachel House as Gramma Tala

Temuera Morrison as Chief Tui

Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa

Nicole Scherzinger as Sina

Alan Tudyk as Heihei

Louise Bush as Toddler Moana

Chris Jackson as Chief Tui


From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes MOANA, an epic adventure about a spirited teen who sets sail on a daring mission to save her people. Along the way, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once mighty demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), and together they cross the ocean on a fun-filled, action-packed voyage. Bring home the movie full of heart, humor and oceans of bonus extras!


In November 2016, the 56th Walt Disney animated feature film “Moana” was released in theaters.

Earning $587.3 million at the box office, the film reunites directors Ron Clements and John Musker (both were co-directors for “Aladdin”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Treasure Planet” and “The Princess and the Frog”).  The film also features co-direction by Don Hall and Chris Williams (both directed “Big Hero 6”) and features a screenplay by Jared Bush (“Zootopia”).

The film features the voices of Auli’i Cravalho (“Gone Fishing”), Dwayne Johnson (“Baywatch”, “San Andreas”, “Furious 7”), Rachel House (“Whale Rider”, “Eagle vs. Shark”), Temuera Morrison (“Star Wars” – Episodes II and III), Jemaine Clement (“Rio” films), singer Nicole Scherzinger and Alan Tudyk (“Rogue One”, “I, Robot”, “Frozen”, “Serenity”).

The Disney animated film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2017.

The film begins with an introduction to demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), who was planning to give a small pounamu stone (which happens to be the mystical heart of the island goddess Te Fiti) to humanity as a gift.

Instead, Maui runs off with the stone and he is chased and attacked by the lava demon Te Ka.  Maui ends up not just losing his magical fish hook in the ocean but also loses the pounamu stone.

A thousand years later, a young girl named Moana, the daughter and heir of the chief of the Polynesian island Motunui, is chosen by the ocean to receive the pounamu stone/Te Fiti’s heart.  Something he does not feel is necessary as he feels the island provides the villagers everything they need.

But as Moana (voiced by  Auli’i Cravalho) gets older, the villagers are scared as fish is becoming scarce and the vegetation of Motunui is dying.  Moana wants to travel beyond the reef as she feels she can catch fish for the village but her father is against it.  She learns from her mother that her father’s friend died out in sea and fears of Moana going out to the ocean.

Despite her father forbidding Moana to sail past the reef, her grandmother Tala (voiced by Rachel House) tells her that there is a secret cave behind the waterfall and also telling her that the villagers ancestors were once voyagers and traveled and discovered new islands across the world.  But the ancestors stopped voyaging because the demigod MAui stole the heart of Te Fiti and this led to monsters appearing in the ocean.  And now Te Ka’s darkness is spreading from island to island, slowly killing the islands.

Tala gives Moana the heart of Te Fiti.  But not long after, Tala becomes ill and before she dies, she tells Moana to set sail.  So, against her fathers wishes, Moana travels beyond the reef in search of the demigod, Maui.

What will she find beyond the reef?


VIDEO:

So, far the Walt Disney Blu-ray disc animated (as well as theatrical) releases are among the best in picture and audio quality.

“Moana” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio) and Disney has released a lot of animated films that look wonderful in HD, but “Moana” is visually impressive from water effects (which look nearly realistic), lush green and vibrant vegetation, close-up details of Moana and Maui, especially their hair and also Maui’s tattoos and more.

“Moana” will no doubt pleasure the most demanding videophiles (well, unless they are demanding a 4K or 8K release).  Overall picture quality is fantastic!

AUDIO:

“Moana” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with an English 2.0 Descriptive audio track and a Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. The film features crystal clear dialogue and musical score.

From its musical sequences and wonderful action, along with magnificent video, you also get magnificent lossless audio.  From the waves crashing, Maui’s transformations to the wonderful crystal clear vocals.  I absolutely loved this soundtrack and just to make things clear, videophiles are not the only ones who will love this Blu-ray, audiophiles will absolutely enjoy this lossless soundtrack on Blu-ray as well!

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Moana” comes with the following special features:

  • Theatrical Short Film: Inner Workings – (6:26) Featuring an introduction by Leonardo Matsuda and producer Sean Lurie to “Inner Workings” and the animated short.
  • Maui Mini-Movie: Gone Fishing – (2:29) Moana and Maui return in an animated short.
  • Voice of the Islands – (31:13) A featurette about finding the location for “Moana” and the inspiration that came from the island and working with the locals from Tahiti who lent their voice to their characterization in the film.
  • Things You Didn’t Know About – (3:52) The directors, cast and crew are given rapid-fire questions.
  • Island Fashion – (5:13) A costume design featurette.
  • The Elements Of… – (14:14) Creating characters featuring Maui and Mini Maui (tattoos that come to life on Maui’s body depicting his heroism).
  • They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana – (12:36) The making of the music for “Moana” featuring Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Deleted Song: Warrior Face with Introduction by Songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda – (3:33) A glimpse of “Warrior Face”, a deleted song from the film with sketched animation.
  • Fishing for Easter Eggs – (2:52) The cast talk about their characters and discuss easter eggs shown in the film.
  • Deleted Scenes – (25:54) Seven deleted scenes with optional introductions with co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker.
  • “How Far I’ll Go” – Music video performed by Alessia Cara
  • “How Far I’ll Go Around the World” – (2:40) A featurette showcasing “How Far I’ll Go” performed by music artists for their respective countries.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker.

EXTRAS:

“Moana” comes with a slipcover, a DVD version of the film and a Disney Digital HD code.


As a fan of works by Ron Clements and John Musker, it’s one thing to be in love with “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” but you also have to appreciate their approach to animation.  And with the release of the CG animated film, “Monna”, I was very interested in seeing the duo take on this medium but also seeing their style of animation incorporating new animation technologies but also a storyline with humor, action and emotion.

One thing that I was impressed about “Moana” was how the directors and producers wanted to make this film right.  From going to Tahiti and respecting local traditions and costumes, including music but also respecting the island and making sure nature plays a big part in the film.

As an Asian American with 33% Pacific Islander in my blood, one thing that has gotten to me is Hollywood not hiring people of ethnicity for major roles.  With “Moana”, the directors and producers made sure that Polynesian talent were hired for the role.

You have the debut of Hawaiian actress/singer Auli’l Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson (Black Nova Scotia and Samoan) as Maui.  But you also have Rachel House (Maori, indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand), Temuera Morrison (Maori), Jemaine Clement (Maori) and Nichole Scherzinger (Filipino/Native Hawaiian and Ukrainian).

Hiring talent to play characters who are of Polynesian descent may not seem like a big deal considering it’s a voice acting role, but for those of us who have watched Hollywood pass over people of a ethnicity over a well-known Caucasian talent to play an ethnic role is disheartening. And sure, while “Moana” is an animated film, the casting of these voice talents to play these characters is important and goes a long way.

I was impressed by the voice acting, the singing and the music of the film and the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i were fantastic.

Watching the film, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face because of the attention to detail.  From the hair, the clothing, the tattoos but also the respect of the island.  Directors Ron Clements and John Musker often have said in interviews how visiting the island and meeting with the people changed their lives and influenced them heavily in the making of this film.  And that influence can be seen in “Moana”.  I love seeing that!

As far as watching “Moana”, it’s simply amazing to see how far Walt Disney Animation Studios has come and how much technology when it comes to animation has evolved in the last 10 years.

It’s one thing to expect wonderful skin detail and detailed hair but water has always been a tricky thing to animate and so, seeing Walt Disney Animation Studios taking on a story that deals with a Pacific Islander story and capturing the island vibe, lush greenery and beautiful oceans, I couldn’t wait to see how far animation technology has evolved.

I was impressed and of course, watching it on Blu-ray, seeing the details and the vibrant colors in HD was amazing.  The crystal clear lossless soundtrack was also impressive and there are a good number of special features included as well.

Overall, “Moana” resonated with me, entertained me but also made me respect the work of Ron Clements and John Musker so much more.  Especially for Disney for taking on an animation that involves Polynesian culture, hiring those who are of Polynesian descent but also listening to Pacific Islanders for feedback in regards to the how their culture is depicted.

“Moana” is highly recommended!

Deluge (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Deluge” on Blu-ray can be seen as a watching an entertaining 1933 natural disaster film, which was once considered as lost. Others may find the Blu-ray as a wonderful collection of two films starring actress Peggy Shannon.  I will say that this Blu-ray release is a fantastic collaboration between Kino Lorber and Lobster Films giving audiences the opportunity to watch and enjoy two entertaining films from the 1930’s.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Kino Lorber. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Deluge

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1933

DURATION: 70 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1:33:1, English DTS-HD 2.0

COMPANY: Lobster/Kino Lorber Inc.

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2017


Based on the Novel by S. Fowler Wright

Directed by Felix E. Feist

Written by Warren Duff, John F. Goodrich

Produced by Samuel Bischoff, Burt Kelly, William Saal

Music by Val Burton

Cinematography by Norbert Brodine

Edited by Martin G. Coh, Rose Loewinger

Art Direction by Ralph M. DeLacy


Starring:

Peggy Shannon as Claire Arlington

Lois Wilson as Helen Webster

Sidney Blackmer as Martin Webster

Lane Chandler as Jack

Ronnie Cosby as Ronny Webster

John Elliott as Preacher

Ralf Harolde as Norwood

Samuel S. Hinds as Chief Forecaster

Fred Kohler as Jepson

Matt Moore as Tom


Newly Restored! Earthquakes in the Pacific send a massive tsunami around the globe, reducing New York City to rubble. Martin Webster (Sidney Blackmer, Rosemary’s Baby) survives the catastrophe but is separated from his wife (Lois Wilson) and children. Pairing up with a headstrong young woman (Peggy Shannon), Webster struggles to rebuild civiilzation and cultivate a new post-apocalyptic moral code amidst the pillagers and vigilantes who remain. For years considered a lost film, and later emerging in a poor-quality Italian-dubbed version, Deluge is the holy grail of disaster movies. In 2016, Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films, with the help of the Library of Congress, located the original 35mm film elements, including the English-language soundtrack, and it is from these materials that the restoration has been meticulously performed. Directed by Felix E. Feist (The Devil Thumbs a Ride, Donovan s Brain), DELUGE lives up to its near-mythic reputation. Not only are the destruction scenes truly extraordinary, the drama of survival among the rubble is presented with a dark candor that is far more complex than one expects of a film of this vintage. Also featured on this disc is the Pre-Code drama BACK PAGE, starring Peggy Shannon (DELUGE) as a small-town newspaper woman who tries to bring down a notorious white-collar criminal.


In 1933, RKO Radio Pictures released a loose adaptation of S. Fowler Wright’s 1928 novel “Deluge”.

A film about life after a worldwide disaster, the film was directed by Felix E. Feist (“The Big Trees”, “Donovan’s Brain”, “The Man Who Cheated Himself”) and a screenplay co-written by Warren Duff (“Angels with Dirty Faces”, “Varsity Show”, “Frisco Kid”) and John F. Goodrich (“My Lady’s Lips”, “The Last command”, “Lilies of the Field”).

The film stars Peggy Shannon (“Back Page”, “Hotel Continental”, “The Devil’s Mate”), Lois Wilson (“Guiding Light”, “Miss Lulu Bett”, “Bright Eyes”), Sidney Blackmer (“Rosemary’s Baby”, “High Society”, “Little Caesar”), Lane Chandler (“Winds of the Wasteland”, “Samson and Delilah”, “The Well”), Fred Kohler (“Underworld”, “Fighting Caravans”, “The Iron Horse”), Ralf Harolde (“Murder, My Sweet”, “I’m No Angel”, “Smart Money”) and Samuel S. Hinds (“It’s a Wonderful Life”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, “Scarlet Street”).

The film was a modest hit for RKO Radio Pictures but the film (which was later bought by Republic Pictures) is more remembered for its destruction footage which was used for films in the ’40s.

But for many decades, the film was lot until  an Italian print dub was found (note: there are two versions of how this Italian version of the film was found, one via a film archive in 1981 discovered by Forrest J. Ackerman.  The other is Wad Williams discovering a nitrate version of the film in an old mansion in Rome in 1981).  The film was eventually subtitled in English and released on VHS.

But in 2016, the nitrate dupe negative with the English soundtrack was discovered and Lobster Films did a 2K scan restoration and the film would receive a theatrical released and now a Blu-ray and DVD release courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film begins with scientists discovering that a violent storm is heading towards New York City and they issue warnings throughout the city.  Suddenly an eclipse of the sun leads to global destruction as unending earthquakes slam cities causing major tsunamis and leveling cities.

We are introduced to Claire Shannon (portrayed by Peggy Shannon), a world-class long distance swimmer who was supposed to go on another challenge but since the change of weather, she ends up going with a friend and staying with her family in the country.

We are then introduced to lawyer Martin Webster (portrayed by Sidney Blackmer) and his wife Helen (portrayed by Lois Wilson) putting their two kids to sleep.  As the couple know bad weather is coming their way and their home may be destroyed, Martin takes his children and wife to stay behind a huge boulder in hopes it would protect them from the bad weather.

As Martin knows they need more provisions and clothes, he leaves his wife and children to go back to the house.  But the next major earthquake hits, which destroys New York City and destroys the home.

Martin is knocked unconscious and when he awakes, his home and land is gone and water has covered  the ground all around him.  And he fears that he lost his family to the tsunami.

Meanwhile, at a small house nearby, two men, the burly Jepson (portayed by Fred Kohler) and the anxiety-filled Norwood (portrayed by Ralf Harolde) are afraid they may be the last two people on the planet.  As Jepson goes outside the cabin, he discovers an unconscious Claire.

Fastforward and over a month and a half has passed.  Martin has built a shelter behind a rock and uses a nearby tunnel in a cave to store many provisions.

As for Jepson and Norwood, the two get into a major disagreement of who owns Claire.  Jepson tells Norwood that since he found the house and Claire, she belongs to him.  As Jepson goes to work on the boat, Norwood tries to sexually assault Claire and Jepson walks in and angered, he chokes and kills Norwood.  As for Claire, it gives her the moment to slip away and swim away from Jepson.  Who then gets his rifle and boat to go after her.

As Martin walks out of his home, he sees a body from the distance.  He goes to it and discovers Claire who is nearly unconscious and nurses her back to health.  Meanwhile, he sees from a distance, Jepson arriving near his home with his boat.  As he trails Jepson from a distance, both men discover a woman who was raped and killed.

Jepson comes across a gang of ruffians and he tells him that he is looking for a woman that belongs to him.  Meanwhile, Martin goes back hom to make sure he can protect Claire.  And the two start to have feelings towards each other.

Meanwhile, not far from the area, survivors in a nearby town have gathered to start a new civilization.  Among the survivors are Helen and her two children.  One of the townsmen, Tom (portrayed by Matt Moore) has taken care of Helen (and has fallen in love with her).  He tells her to forget about her husband, but she says that she believes Martin is alive.  She can feel it.

Tom tells her that soon, the women in the town will be assigned a man.  If she wants to prevent being hooked up with someone else, she should marry him now.

What will happen to Martin, Claire and Lois?


VIDEO:

“Deluge” is presented in 1080p (1:33:1 aspect ratio). Before I begin, it’s important for everyone to know that when it comes to film cleanup, Kino Lorber and Lobster Films do not invest in significant cleanup compared to major film releases from the large studios or film foundations.  What you are going to get are HD scanning of the original negatives to feature the film in the best resolution, but you will see white specks, scratches, slight frame damage, mild flickering, etc.

For those who watch silent films to early talkies, I’m just grateful these films are released and for this release, Lobster Films had done a 2K scan of this film once considered lost.

Picture quality is good considering the age of the film and the fact that a nitrate version of the film with an English soundtrack, “Deluge” is no doubt a film that looks very good.  The film maintains its grain structure and I’ve seen classic Hollywood films with major damage and this film does not suffer from major damage.  Yes, there are white specks, scratches, and some frames with an occasional larger white speck but really, this is common with older films, let alone nitrate films.  So, I felt the picture quality was very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Deluge” is presented in English DTS-HD 2.0 Surround. The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear through the front channels and the dialogue and soundtrack is crystal clear with no major crackle or pops.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Deluge” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an insightful audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith.
  • Interview with Director Gabriel Mascaro – (21:09) Interview with filmmaker Gabriel Mascaro about “Neon Bull”
  • Back Page (1934 film) – (1 hr., 04 min.) In this film starring Peggy Shannon, the film features Peggy as Jerry Hampton, a young female reporter who was fired from a major big city newspaper.  Jerry decides to take over a troubled small town newspaper and learns about small town politics and the difficulties of finding advertisers to keep the newspaper afloat.  Also, the troubles she receives as people don’t feel confident a woman can run the newspaper.
  • The Hurricane Trailer
  • Avalanche Trailer
  • Meteor Trailer

“Deluge” is a fascinating 1934 natural disaster film that despite its visual effects for its time and at times for its corny dialogue, I actually enjoyed “Deluge” more than many other natural disaster films, including big budget natural disaster films that came out decades after.

A loose adaptation of S. Fowler Wright’s novel, “Deluge” focuses on a global natural disaster during a time when technology and natural disaster warnings was limited, where earthquakes become rampant and along with a tsunami, cities were destroyed and humanity is reduced.

While no one knows how many people survived, the storyline of “Deluge” shows a side of humanity that is often depicted in post-apocalyptic films and that is the worst of society where gangs are rampant and some reverting to troglodyte behavior.  Women are raped and murdered and women are seen as possessions and not equal partners.

Sure, its a film that rings loud and clear of society back in the 1930’s, but the film provides a glance of the 1930’s through its characters.

Ziegfeld Follies Peggy Shannon who was to be the new “It” girl, is glamorous and beautiful sporting a bikini (when most women wore one piece swimsuits) and a woman who behaved independently until being convinced by her protector that she must make a decision to fall in love.

I bring up Peggy’s character of Claire as being independent because Shannon starred in a film titled “Back Page” about a fired big city reporter who wants to prove that she can run a smalltown paper, despite people thinking she can’t do that because she’s a woman.  The 1934 film is also included on this “Deluge” Blu-ray release, which makes the release quite enticing because it’s a film that follows a woman determined to succeed despite the challenges she may face.

Unfortunately, like a few other Hollywood talent of that time who were hooked on drugs and alcohol, Peggy Shannon’s star career was dimmed due to her alcoholism.

“Deluge” also stars Sidney Blackmer and Lois Wilson.  Blackmer plays the main protagonist Martin Webster, a man who thinks his wife and children died from the earthquake/tsunami and has built a home near a rocky mountain and in better shape as he has managed to stockpile on provisions.  His life changes when he meets Claire and slowly falls in love with her, not knowing that his wife Lois and her children are very much alive.

The primary antagonist is Jepson (portrayed by Fred Kohler), a burly man who thinks he is one of the last people left alive and since he found a house and also an unconscious Claire, he assumes that she belongs to him and no other.

Claire escapes from him and thanks to her world class swimming skills, she swims to the area that Martin is staying.  But not far behind is Jepson, who wants nothing but to bring Claire back.  Jepson meets the Bellamy Gang, who raped and killed a woman.

The film manages to establish that there is a good number of riff raff and in the new world, but there are good people who are willing to fight back which we have seen in movies such as “Mad Max” and other storylines.

This classic film manages to incorporate a lot of action and drama and definitely one of the earlier lower budget natural disaster films that is upstaged by the bigger budget MGM natural disaster film “San Francisco” starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jeanette MacDonald that was released three years later (1936).

Part of the problem with “Deluge”, while some may point to visual effects, while cheesy for today’s standards, I felt the visual effects were customary for its time and the fact it uses stock footage of a natural disaster (hurricane) in the film shows that RKO Film, really wanted to drive the images of chaos and panic, while many cities are being destroyed by a global natural disaster, leading to the death of millions.  And one must remember, this is a low budget RKO film, not a big budget MGM film.

Where “San Francisco” focused on few characters, it also tries to show humanity really being affected by a major disaster.  In “Deluge”, too many times where the female characters are just seen as objects meant to be possessed.  They must make a choice to be with a man or else it’s too late.

Because it’s a pre-code film, I do like the fact we see violence in the film.  People die in this film, not just through the natural disaster but because of greed or envy.  The film goes to show how people are affected by chaos but even for those in the side of good, I feel later in the film, they aren’t more affected by the natural disaster, but the fact that their relationships are affected.

With the 1936 film “San Francisco”, the film was ambitious in special effects but the 1906 earthquake gave writers the opportunity to craft a story about the human spirit of willing to rebuild a city and start over.  In the 1993 film, “Deluge”, it’s not about human spirit during a time of chaos but the man and woman and the importance of a relationship during a time of chaos.

But once again, there are differences between the two films from star power and money budgeted.  And “Deluge” is in essence a low budget film, with no major big name talent, but still you see talent who had true potential and a natural disaster film that rivals big budget natural disaster films made in the last 40 years.  I enjoyed “Deluge” and what they were able to accomplish.

And as mentioned, this Blu-ray release comes with the Peggy Shannon 1934 film “Back Page”, and it’s one of the few pre-code films which shows an independent business woman trying to prove everyone that she can be a leader and a woman who can run a small town newspaper.  Also, for “Winnie the Pooh” fans, the longtime voice of the popular character courtesy of Sterling Holloway, has a role in the film.

But I found “Back Page” quite interesting because you rarely find career-driven women in classic Hollywood films.  Far too often, women were portrayed as vamps seducing men, women who need saving by a man or women having to be good wives or mothers.  But “Back Page” was interesting to see a protagonist running a newspaper and one that is so driven and standing her own ground.  A rarity to see in older Hollywood films.

As for the Blu-ray, as mention earlier, picture quality is very good, not pristine but considering what Lobster Films was able to accomplish, I’m quite grateful to have the best presentation of “Deluge” and “Back Page” to date with this Blu-ray release.  The lossless soundtrack features no significant crackle or pops and the special features include a wonderful and insightful audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith.

Overall, “Deluge” on Blu-ray can be seen as a watching an entertaining 1933 natural disaster film, which was once considered as lost. Others may find the Blu-ray as a wonderful collection of two films starring actress Peggy Shannon.  I will say that this Blu-ray release is a fantastic collaboration between Kino Lorber and Lobster Films giving audiences the opportunity to watch and enjoy two entertaining films from the 1930’s.  Recommended!

Doctor Strange (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Scott Derrickson’s “Doctor Strange” was much better than what I was expecting. Having grown up with Stephen Strange and the various incarnations of the Sorcerer Supreme, I like the humanistic approach to this typically no-nonsense character but also balancing humor and action that made the storyline so entertaining and enjoyable. If you are a Marvel fan, “Doctor Strange” is a film I definitely recommend!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Doctor Strange

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 115 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles.

COMPANY: Marvel Studios

RATED: PG-13 (For Sci-Fi Violence and Action Throughout and an Intense Crash Sequence)

RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2017


Based on the Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill

Produced by Kevin Feige

Co-Producer: David J. Grant

Executive Producer: Victoria Alonso, Stephen Broussard, Louis D’Esposito, Stan Lee, Charles Newirth

Music byMichael Giacchino

Cinematography by Ben Davis

Edited by Sabrina Plisco, Wyatt Smith

Casting by Sarah Finn, Reg Poerscout-Edgerton

Production Design by Charles Wood

Art Direction by Julian Ashby, Jim Barr, Thomas Brown, Ray Chan, Jason T. Clark, Jordan Crockett, Michael Manson, Mike Stallion and Mark Swain

Set Decoration by John Bush, Lauri Gaffin

Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne


Starring:

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo

Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer

Benedict Wong as Wong

Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius

Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One

Michael Stuhlbarg as Dr. Nicodemus West

Benjamin Bratt as Jonathan Pangborn

Scott Adkins as Lucian


From Marvel Studios comes DOCTOR STRANGE, the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident renders his hands useless. When traditional medicine fails him, he travels to remote Kamar-Taj in search of a cure, but instead discovers the mystical arts and becomes a powerful sorcerer battling dark forces bent on destroying our reality.


Back in 1963, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko unveiled their new character, Dr. Stephen Strange in “Strange Tales” #110.

Since then, Dr. Strange has been established as one of Marvel Comics top iconic superheroes.

And while a 1978 television film based on the character was not well-received, a live action film was released in 2016 courtesyo of Marvel Studios and was directed by Scott Derrickson (“Sinister”, “Deliver Us from Evil”, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and co-written by Derrickson, Jon Spaihts (“Prometheus”, “Passengers”) and C. Robert Cargill (“Sinister”, “Sinister 2”, “As They Continue to Fall”).

The film would star Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”, “Black Mass”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”, “Children of Men”, “American Gangster”), Rachel McAdams (“Sherlock Holmes”, “Mean Girls”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Spotlight”), Benedict Wong (“The Martian”, “Prometheus”, “Moon”), Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale”, “The Hunt”, “Hannibal”), Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”, “Adaptation.”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”) and Benjamin Bratt (“Law & Order”, “Miss Congeniality”).

The film which was budgeted at $165 million would go on to make $675.8 million in the box office and now the 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD will be released on Blu-ray in Feb. 2017.

“Doctor Strange” begins with a sorcerer named Kaecilius (portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen) and his group of zealots entering the secret compound Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Kaecilius beheads the librarian and steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One.  As the Ancient One pursues Kaecilius and his group, they escape with the ritual.

In New York City, we are then introduced to Stephen Strange (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch), a neurosurgeon who is arrogant and also very intelligent thanks to his photographic memory. He has somewhat of a relationship with nurse Christine Palmer (portrayed by Rachel McAdams).

But while driving his car too fast in the rain and looking at his smartphone, he gets into a near fatal accident.  Unfortunately, Stephen Strange has extensive nerve damage and is becoming desperate, so he uses his entire fortune to pay for his experimental surgeries, which do not work.  And the failure would lead to him severing a lot of his relationships with people.

When he was told his trainer that someone who was paraplegic was able to come back from severe nerve damage and walk again, he goes to visit Jonathan Pangborn (portrayed by Benjamin Bratt) who explains to Stephen that he went to Kamar-Taj and learned how to walk again because of his visit and training.

This leads to Stephen going to Nepal and he meets a sorcerer named Mordo (portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and eventually the Ancient One (portrayed by Tilda Swinton).

As Stephen tries to get answers of how she was able to get Jonathan Pangborn to walk again after a severe injury, she tries to explain to him but Stephen refuses to believe that anything but cell regeneration is not possible.  The Ancient One then reveals to Stephen Strange the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension.

This leads to Stephen begging her to teach him and eventually Stephen Strange learns from his time at Kamar-Taj, through training and the library, which is managed by Master Wong (portrayed by Benedict Wong).  But while Stephen is training, Kaecilius and his followers are trying to summon Dormammu of the Dark Dimension.


VIDEO:

“Doctor Strange” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). Fantastic visual effects.  Because a lot of the film is shot on green screen, the film really depends on the delivery of visual effects and for “Doctor Strange”, the visual effects are phenomenal.  May it be astral form to Dormamu making his appearance, visual effects and the main scenes show great balance and everything looks great.  Closeups show great detail, many moments of vibrant lighting and more.  Definitely a film that looks amazing in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Doctor Strange is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Description Track, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Featuring a wonderful, immersive soundtrack as the film really takes advantage of the surround channels and LFE during the action-packed moments throughout the film.  Crystal clear audio (dialogue and music) but I was very impressed during the action-packed moments when Kaecilius infiltrates the sorcerer’s headquarters to the ending action scenes.  Audiophiles will no doubt enjoy this lossless soundtrack!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Doctor Strange” comes with the following special features:

  • Featurettes – (58:04) Includes: A Strange Transformation, Strange Company, The Fabric of Reality, Across Time and Space, The Score-Cerer Supreme
  • Marvel Studios Phase 3: Exclusive Look – (7:27)  A featurette about Marvel Studios plans and how Marvel Studios have evolved since 2006.  An awesome teaser to upcoming Marvel Studios films.
  • Team Thor: Part 2 – (4:35) A hilarious featurette featuring Thor being interviewed about living in Australia with a guy named Daryl.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – (7:52) Featuring five deleted and extended scenes.
  • Gag Reel – (4:12) Featuring the gag reel from “Doctor Strange”.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Scott Derrickson.

EXTRAS:

“Doctor Strange” comes with a slipcover, DVD and a Digital HD code.


When I was younger, reading comic books featuring Doctor Strange was quite the commonplace.  As Doctor Strange was a major member of the Marvel super hero group known as “The Defenders” (they were the other superhero group outside of the Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four), it was a comic book that I would read quite often.

But as I got older, it seemed as if through the ’80s and ’90s, writers did not know what to do with the character and focused his stories more on the occult and sparingly used him in the Marvel Universe with other popular characters.

If anything, I think that Doctor Strange (and comics titled “Dr. Strange”) would become to cerebral to some and not as cool as other Marvel titles were focusing on integration and crossovers.  But later on, they would make the character much darker as his stories would become part of the “Midnight Sons” supernatural comics from Marvel and later, becoming a character doubting his power and currently a much different character than he was in the past.

With the Marvel Studios release of “Doctor Strange”, the film offers viewers to see Stephen Strange as vulnerable but also a character that has awesome magic abilities and using his intellect and what he has learned to become possibly the Sorcerer Supreme.

Personally, I felt Scott Derrickson did a huge service of making Doctor Strange cool, humorous but setting the character up to make quite of an impact with the other Marvel film crossovers (there are two scenes during the credits, one in the middle and one at the end, so don’t turn off your Blu-ray when the credits start).

Benedict Cumberbatch did a magnificent job with his portrayal of Doctor Strange and other talents such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong did a fine job.  I was surprised to see Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One but overall, I was pleased with the acting.

Now to make the world of Doctor Strange work, it would depend on visual effects and the team behind “Doctor Strange” did a magnificent job of showcasing Stephen during the astral plane and mirror plane and also during the dark dimensions.  The use of magic and the visual effects employed in those scenes, especially the more action-driven scenes were wonderfully done.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is magnificent, as with the lossless audio.  So, videophiles and audiophiles should be quite happy.  You get a good number of special features included with “Doctor Strange” and I think in addition to the “Doctor Strange” film, Thor fans will like the hilarious “Team Thor: Part 2” featurette and Marvel fans who love the films will love the “Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look” feature as we get to see what Marvel has planned for upcoming films.

Overall, Scott Derrickson’s “Doctor Strange” was much better than what I was expecting.  Having grown up with Stephen Strange and the various incarnations of the Sorcerer Supreme, I like the humanistic approach to this typically no-nonsense character but also balancing humor and action that made the storyline so entertaining and enjoyable.

If you are a Marvel fan, “Doctor Strange” is a film I definitely recommend!

Six – Season 1 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Captivating and well-written, “Six” is a series that depends on a lot of character development and writer’s did a great job of handling that.  Typically, series with too many characters can get confusing, but writers for the series made sure that viewers care about the SEAL Team Six characters, their missions and also their personal lives. History’s “Six – Season 1” is a Blu-ray that I definitely recommend!

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


TITLE: Six – Season One

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 5 Hrs., 41 Minutes (8 Episodes Total)

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2017


Directed by Lesli Link Glatter, Mikael Salomon, Clark Johnson, Kimberly Pierce, Peter Werner

Written by William Broyles Jr. David Broyles, Bruce C. McKenna, Alfredo Barrios Jr., Karen Campbell

Produced by Alfredo Barrios Jr. William Broyles Jr., David Broyles, Lesli Linka Glatter, Bruce C. McKenna, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, George W. Perkins

Supervising Producer: Karen Campbell

Associate Producer: Mitchell Hall, Karina Partington

Music by  Marco Beltrami, Dennis Smith

Cinematography by Armando Salas, David Klein

Edited by Philip Carr Neel

Casting by Craig Fincannon, Lisa Mae Fincannon

Production Design by  Erik Carlson

Art Direction by Brian Baker, Brian Jewell


Starring:

Brianne Davis as Lena Graves

Nadine Velazquez as Jackie Ortiz

Nondumiso Tembe as Na’omi

Tyla Harris as Ether

Barry Sloane as Joe “Bear” Graves

Kyle Schmid as Alex Caulder

Juan Pablo Raba as Ricky “Buddha” Ortiz

Edwin Hodge as Robert Chase III

Dominic Adams as Michael Nasry

Walton Goggins as Richard “Rip” Taggart

Jaylen Moore as Armin Khan

Zeeko Zaki as Akmal Barayev

Jessica Garza as Anabel Ortiz

Joshua Gage as Ricky

Rus Blackwell as Commander Atkins

Lindsley Register as Dharma Caulder

Britt Rentschler as Tammi Buckley

Angela Relucio as Lt. Camille Fung

Donny Boaz as Buckley


A new action-packed scripted series based on the real-life missions of an elite Navy SEALs unit.


In 2017, History released their American television drama titled “Six”.

The series focuses on the lives of the members of SEAL Team Six, one of the U.S. Armed Forces counter-terrorism units.

The series stars Walton Goggins (“Django Unchained”, “The Hateful Eight”, “The Shield”), Barry Sloane (“Longmire”, “Revenge”), Kyle Schmid (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, “The Covenant”, “Copper”), Juan Pablo Raba (“Secreto de Confesion”, “The 33”, “Gloria”), Edwin Hodge (“Red Dawn”, “Die Hard with a Vengeance”, “As Above, So Below”), Jaylen Moore (“Homeland”, “Hot Pursuit”), Brianne Davis (“Jarhead”, “Synchronicity”, “Prom Night”), Nondumiso Tembe (“Generations”, “True Blood”), Nadine Velazquez (“Flight”, “Snitch”, “War”) and more.

And with the second season of “Six” receiving the green light from History, the first season will no doubt entertain those who loved or are curious about the series as it will be released on Blu-Ray in March 2017.

The series begins with back and forth scenes showing us what happened to SEAL Team Six under the leadership of Rip Taggart.

Two years prior, As Richard “Rip” Taggart (portrayed by Walton Goggins) leads his team in the Middle East against insurgents, he makes a decision which affects the team, especially Alex Caulder (portrayed by Kyle Schmid) who disagrees with a major decision that Rip has made towards the treatment of possible terrorists.

While the team believes in behaving like brothers and supporting each other, needless to say, the disagreement leads to Rip leaving the team and having difficulties in his personal life as he becomes an alcoholic, leading to his wife leaving him.  Rip ends up working as a private contractor in Nigeria and helping to protect an all girls school.

Unfortunately, Rip and members of the firm he is contracted with, the teacher Na’omi (portrayed by Nondumiso Tembe) and her students are kidnapped by the terrorist organization Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, his form team members are now wanting to rescue him but behind the scenes, another terrorist for another organization wants his revenge against Rip.

The series focuses on the missions but also focuses on the private lives of the following SEAL Team Six members:

  • Joe “Bear” Graves (portrayed by Barry Sloane) – With Rip Taggart no longer with SEAL Team Six, Bear is now responsible for leading the team.  But he blames Alex for Rip leaving Seal Team Six and has a problem with him.  Meanwhile, the stress of working on SEAL Team Six is affecting him and hi wife Lena (portrayed by Brianne Davis) is trying her best to take care of him.  But she also wants to have a child with Bear, but his duties often collide with what he and his wife want.
  • Ricky “Buddha” Ortiz (portrayed by Juan Pablo Raba) – Ricky is the second-in-command and is always there for his brothers.  But his wife Jackie (portrayed by Nadine Velazquez) wants Ricky to quit his job and take a job for a firm which pays a lot of money and will pay for his daughter Anabel’s (portrayed by Jessica Garza) dance school and he can spend more time with his son Ricky Jr. (portrayed by Joshua Gage).
  • Alex Caulder (portrayed by Kyle Schmid) – A flirt and likes to have fun.  He is in odds with Bear because he spoke against their leader, Rip.  His teenage daughter Dharma suddenly pops up into his life and as she wants to know her father, will Alex let her in to his life?
  • Robert Chase III (portrayed by Edwin Hodge) – The new rookie who must prove himself to SEAL Tim Six.  His parents prefer he choose a different career path than being a SEAL Team Six member.  Because he is new, he is curious to why Rip left the team.
  • Buckley (portrayed by Donny Boaz) – A member of SEAL Team Six.  He is often spying on his wife Tammi (portrayed by Britt Rentschler) to see if she is sleeping with another man.
  • Armin Khan (portrayed by Jaylen Moore) – A member of SEAL Team Six and is the translator for the team.

VIDEO:

“Six – Season 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The TV series really looks good in HD as a lot the series is shot outdoors and lighting is well-done.  Close-ups of characters look very good.  There are some moments during low-light when things become a bit too noisy but for the most part, the series looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Six – Season 1” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The series features crystal clear dialogue but very good use of the surround channels during the heated gun exchanges throughout the series.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Six – Season 1” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Six – Season 1” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about SEAL Team Six.  Rarely do we see series that try to showcase the personal lives mixed with SEAL missions but writers managed to create a series which viewers really get into the characters and their personal storylines.

If anything, the series manages to show a human side to these characters versus being all Gung-ho.

With Rip Taggart, through being a prisoner but also former leader of SEAL Team Six, we see how a lot of decisions way heavy on his mind and while he is a fighter and survivor, you often wonder if he will survive being the prisoner of Boko Haram.

“Bear” Graves is your model soldier but in his personal life, he and his wife have lost a child and while she wants another, we can see “Bear” having difficult being a husband, as he wonders if being a Seal member, has led to some unforeseen karma because of the many people he hurt and have killed.

“Buddha” Ortiz is the family man.  He loves his family but his family wants him out and for him to take a high paying job, but can Ricky leave SEAL Team Six, his other family?

And while the series does a great job of balancing the action-packed missions with the dramatic personal lives of the SEAL Team Six members, there are other characters that play a role in the series.  Characters I can’t talk about, because it would spoil the series.

But I’ll just say that “Six” is no doubt a series that I watched and now I can’t wait for season two.

It’s an action-packed, well-written television series.  Writers did a great job of working the families of the primary characters into the storyline but also everyone seems to gel as chemistry with characters are very good and talents did a great job with their character portrayals.

But now, with how season one ended, it will be interesting to see how the series will kick off for season two.

Captivating and well-written, “Six” is a series that depends on a lot of character development and writer’s did a great job of handling that.  Typically, series with too many characters can get confusing, but writers for the series made sure that viewers care about the SEAL Team Six characters, their missions and also their personal lives. History’s “Six – Season 1” is a Blu-ray that I definitely recommend!

Moonlight (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Moonlight” is a film that lingers within you, because it captivates you from beginning to end. From the exceptional storyline and the wonderful acting, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is deserving of every award it has been nominated for and has won. This film is perfect in many levels may it be in directing, story, cinematography, editing, this is rare. And typically those rare films are often called a “masterpiece”. Director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is no doubt a masterpiece! Highly recommended!

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


TITLE: Moonlight

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Some Sexuality, Drug Use, Brief Violence and Language Throughout)

RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2017


Directed by Barry Jenkins

Screenplay by Barry Jenkins

Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski

Co-Producer: Andrew Hevia, Veronica Nickel

Executive Producer: Tarell Alvin McCraney, Brad Pitt

Associate Producer: John Montague

Music by Nicholas Britell

Cinematography by James Laxton

Edited by Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders

Casting by Yesi Ramirez

Production Design by Hannah Beachler

Set Decoration by Regina McLarney

Costume Design by Caroline Eselin


Starring:

Ashton Sanders as Chiron

Trevante Rhodes as Black

Alex R. Hibbert as Little

Mahershala Ali as Juan

Shariff Earp as Terrence

Duan Sanderson as Azu

Janelle Monae as Teresa

Naomie Harris as Paula

Jaden Piner as Kevin (9)

Patrick Decile as Terrel

Jharrel Jerome as Kevin (16)

Andre Holland as Kevin

Stephon Bron as Travis


A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Moonlight is profoundly moving portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.


From filmmaker Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”, “My Josephine”) comes his award winning film “Moonlight”.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards and the Golden Globe winner of “Best Motion Picture”, “Moonlight” is based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” written by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The film stars Mahershala Ali (“Luke Cage”, “House of Cards”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Janelle Monae (“The Equalizer”, “Friends with Benefits”), Naomie Harris (“Skyfall”, “28 Days Later”, “Spectre”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”), Alex R. Hibbert,  Ashton Sanders (“The Retrieval”), Trevante Rhodes (“Westworld”, “If Loving You is Wrong”), Andre Holland (“42”, “Selma”), Jharrel Jerome and many more.

And now the critically acclaimed “Moonlight” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Moonlight” revolves around the life of Chiron and is told in three parts.  The first part titled “Little” as a child, the second part titled
“Chiron” as a teenager and the third part titled “Black” as an adult.

Without spoiling too much of the film, the first part begins with introducing us to a young Chiron (portrayed by Alex Hibbert) who lives in a drug infested area of Miami.

Chiron is shy and because he is short (and often called “Little”), he is often targeted by bullies.  Unfortunately for Chiron, because he is often emotionally abused by his druggie mother Paula (portrayed by Naomie Harris), he doesn’t like going back home.

While Chiron is hiding from his bullies, a crack dealer named Juan (portrayed by Mahershala Ali) feels bad for Chiron and takes him to his girlfriend, Teresa’s (portrayed by Janelle Monae) home.

And Juan becomes like a father figure to Chiron.  Chiron is naive about how Juan makes a living and his connection to his mother.

Meanwhile, he befriends a kid named Kevin (portrayed by Jaden Piner) who befriends Chiron and even teaches him how to defend himself.

And as the film progresses, how will life be for the shy and withdrawn Chiron as he gets older, goes to high school and later in adulthood?  Will he still be the target of bullies?  And from the abuse that he endures throughout his life, how will this abuse affect Chiron?

And throughout his life, Chiron tries to learn about his identity in the midst of confusion.


VIDEO:

“Moonlight” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film features great detail on closeups but what is striking is the backdrops of Miami.  The cinematography by James Laxton (“Camp X-Ray”, “Yoga Hosers”, “Tusk”) was absolutely wonderful!  And the editing by Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders in coordination with the music by Nicholas Britell was well-done!

The film looks absolutely wonderful in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Moonlight” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The film is primarily dialogue and music driven.  Dialogue is crystal clear and Nicholas Britell’s (“12 Years a Slave”, “Whiplash”, “The Big Short”) music is an integral part of the film and sounds beautiful.  Surround channels are reserved for ambiance but for the most part, this is a dialogue and music-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Moonlight” comes with the following special features:

  • Ensemble of Emotion: Making Moonlight – (21:36) The cast and crew discuss the story and the casting for “Moonlight”.
  • Poetry Through Collaboration: The Music of Moonlight – (10:06) Composer Nicholas Britell discusses the music featured throughout the film.
  • Cruel Beauty: Filming in Miami – (5:38) A featurette about filming in Miami.
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

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


I am a firm believer in movie magic and as a cineaste, you always want to experience a film that is unique, magical but also thought-provoking and stays in your head for hours, days and if it’s that good, it will be a memory that stays within you for a lifetime.

“Moonlight” is an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical play “Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney.  A play written by McCraney to cope with the death of his mother who died of AIDS.  As McCraney shelved the project for over a decade, filmmaker Barry Jenkins was introduced to the work of McCraney through the Borscht arts collective in Miami and it would lead the two to collaborate on a live film adaptation and splitting the story into three chapters.

But most importantly, making sure that the film remains true to McCraney’s personal story of growing up as a homosexual, during a time when being gay was not accepted and people kept their sexual preference as private or people were confused about their identity, that they didn’t know why they were experiencing the same emotions towards the same sex.

And for McClaney and Jenkins, the two came up with a screenplay that both share similar experiences.  Both McCraney and Jenkins had mothers who struggled with drug addiction, both grew up in Liberty Square in Miami and more.

And it’s this collaboration that would prove to be magical because it’s one thing for McCraney to write a story semi-autobiographical play about his life, but for it to be envisioned into a film and having a cinematographer, editor and composer who would utilize their skills to the upmost efficacy, would work wonderfully.

Each actor portraying Chiron in difference ages of his life, performed their roles based on emotion and movement through eyes not just the words.  You feel the anguish, the sadness and the hurt that each of these characters are experiencing.

And the casting was magnificent, but it’s also important to note that filmmaker Barry Jenkins kept the three versions of Chiron from ever meeting and to have a story that plays out in different times of Chiron’s life, watching the film almost felt as you were watching the same character age throughout his life, when in fact, you are watching three actors who were able to make the audience to feel Chiron’s pain, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult.

And without spoiling the film, I’ll just keep it at that.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture and lossless audio are well-done and you get a few special features included as well.

Overall, “Moonlight” is a film that lingers within you, because it captivates you from beginning to end.   From the exceptional storyline and the wonderful acting, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is deserving of every award it has been nominated for and has won.  This film is perfect in many levels may it be in directing, story, cinematography, editing, this is rare.  And typically those rare films are often called a “masterpiece”.

Director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is no doubt a masterpiece!  Highly recommended!

Contract to Kill (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Contract to Kill” may please the hardcore Steven Seagal action film fans.  But among the action films which he has starred in recent years, this film is not one of his better ones.

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


TITLE: Contract to Kill

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2017


Directed by Keoni Waxman

Written by Keoni Waxman

Produced by Binh Dang, Steven Seagal, Keoni Waxman

Executive Producer: Phillip B. Goldfine, Pierre-Andre Rochat

Line Producer: Cristian Bostanescu

Music by Michael Richard Plowman

Cinematography by Trevor Mirosh

Edited by Trevor Mirosh

Casting by Dominica Circiumaru, Gillian Hawser

Production Design by Dan Toader

Set Decoration by Alina Pentac

Costume Design by Oana Draghici


Starring:

Steven Seagal as John Harmon

Russell Wong as Matthew Sharp

Jemma Dallender as Zara Hayek

Mircea Drambareanu as Jose Rivera

Sergiu Costache as Ayan Al-Mujahid

Ghassan Bouz as Abdul Rauf


When the CIA stumbles upon evidence that a dangerous group of extremists is planning to join forces with a drug cartel, CIA operative John Harmon assembles a high-tech team to turn the two groups against each other in an explosive confrontation.


Producer Keoni Waxman has collaborated with action star Steven Seagal for several films and a TV series such as “True Justice” and “Mercenary: Absolution”.

And this time around, Waxman has directed and written Seagal’s latest action film “Contract to Kill”.

The film along with Steven Seagal, also stars Russell Wong (“Romeo Must Die”, “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”) and Jemma Dallender (“I Spit on Your Grave 2”, “The Mirror”, “Community”).

And the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2017.

Steven Seagal plays the role of John Harmon, a former CIA agent and now a retired mechanic who is called back into service by the C.I.A. to perform an assassination on a criminal kingpin.

Because of the high stakes involved, John requests a team with two other people.  Agent Zara Hayek (portrayed by Jemma Dallender), who was trained by Harmon and had a romantic relationship with him, is his weapons expert.  While Matthew Sharp (portrayed by Russell Wong) is a communications hacker, drone specialist and martial arts expert.

The three go to Istanbul to uncover a brutal plot of Islamic extremists using Sonora drug-smuggling routes to bring in deadly weapons and their leaders into the United States.

How can Harmon take these criminal organizations down?  And is someone leaking information to the enemies before Harmon can get to him?  Is it one of his team members?  Can anyone be trusted?


VIDEO:

“Contract to Kill” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film features great detail on closeups but special effects, such as one scene involving kids watching a plane blow up, the quality of the visual effects was quite lacking.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Contract to Kill” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. There are action scenes that are utilized by the surround channels but for the most part, this film is driven by ambiance or police chasing down the criminals.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Contract to Kill” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Contract to Kill – (14:46) The cast and crew discuss working on the film.
  • Contract to Kill Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Contract to Kill” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


From filmmaker, writer and producer Keoni Waxman comes his action film “Contract to Kill”, as a former CIA/DEA operative named Jonathan Harmon is investigating terrorists that were captured in Mexico.  As Harmon is joined by two people, FBI Agent Zara and communications hacker/drone specialist Sharp, the three go to Istanbul to uncover a brutal plot of Islamic extremists using Sonora drug-smuggling routes to bring in deadly weapons and their leaders into the United States.

But to prevent an attack on America, Harmon comes up with an idea to have two savage forces to go against each other and waiting for the best moment for him and his team to attack.

I pretty much grew up watching Steven Seagal action films and while the Steven Seagal of the past is a much different man of the Steven Seagal of today, with his most recent films, the 2016 action film “Code of Honor” is one of his better films showcasing the actor.

Finding the better shots but also cast members that can help in carrying the film.

I tend to compare Seagal with WWE’s Hulk Hogan. Coming back as a wrestler in his 50’s at the time and taking on his younger counterparts such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a few others.  And each time Hulk Hogan returns, now knowing he is in his ’60s, knowing he can still kick a lot of butt but you know deep inside, he’s not the same man that we watched when he was in his ’20s.  He’s not as quick, he’s not the same physically, but yet he has that presence and charisma that people still root for him.

In other words, he has created a legacy built from his earlier and successful years and has carried it on to the present time.

Watching Steven Seagal in “Contract to Kill”, you’re watching a man who has few lines, speaks very slow and not the same quick action star we once knew and we know he can dish it, we know he can still be portrayed to kick extreme ass and the body count of enemies still remains high in his films.

But yet, like his counterparts such as Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Jackie Chan, these are men are in their ’60s and ’70s but action film fans still want to see them kick ass.

As I watched “Contract to Kill”, we can see Seagal leading a team but to remain the nimble action star, the older action star making love to his young co-actress, the film didn’t work for me because situations seemed quite implausible.

One of my worst pet peeves when it comes to action films is seeing people hit and yet there are no bruising, no blood, nothing to show that they’ve been beaten.  Yet, we see actress Jemma Dallender’s character of Zaya, still looking beautiful with no sign of facial trauma. And despite being trained by the best, she ends up being a damsel in distress.

And I suppose there are other things about the film that didn’t work for me in terms of editing and flow, but in the end, Steven Seagal direct-to-video films are popcorn action films that are never expected to be deep.  If anything, they are action films mean to entertain and show us that Seagal can still kick ass.

As for the Blu-ray, “Contract to Kill” comes with a few special features and the enthusiasm behind-the-scenes with the actors working on the film. discussing working on an action film.

Overall, “Contract to Kill” may please the hardcore Steven Seagal action film fans.  But among the action films which he has starred in recent years, this film is not one of his better ones.

Tresspass Against Us (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Tresspass Against Us” features a wonderful performance by Michael Fassbender and child actor Georgie Smith. But as far as the film goes, “Tresspass Against Us” is a film that no doubt had its entertaining moments.  But in the end, the film has its share of storyline continuity problems in which some scenes were rather ineffective and also issues with the lack of character development.  Still, the film had some redeeming factors that may make one interested in giving the film a try.

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


TITLE: Tresspass Against Us

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 100 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Pervasive Language, Some Disturbing Behavior and Brief Graphic Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2017


Directed by Adam Smith

Written by Alastair Siddons

Produced by Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Alastair Siddons

Executive Producer: Joshua Astrachan, Rose Garnett, Frederick W. Green, Peter Hampden, Phil Hunt, Norman Merry, Compton Ross

Associate Producer: Joe Wheatley

Music by The Chemical Brothers

Cinematography by Eduard Grau

Edited by Kristina Hethrington, Jake Roberts

Casting by Shaheen Baig

Production Design by Nick Palmer

Art Direction by Andrea Matheson

Set Decoration by  Sophie Phillips

Costume Design by Suzanne Cave


Starring:

Michael Fassbender as Chad Cutler

Brendan Gleeson as Colby Cutler

Lyndsey Marshal as Kelly Cutler

Georgie Smith as Tyson Cutler

Rory Kinnear as P.C. Lovage

Killian Scott as Kenny

Sean Harris as Gordon Bennett

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Sampson

Kacie Anderson as Mini Cutler

Gerard Kearns as Lester

Tony Way as Norman

Barry Keoghan as Windows

Ezra Khan as Jamail

Alan Williams as Noah


Academy Award® nominee Michael Fassbender stars as the conflicted yet loyal son unable to escape from the crime empire led by his father, Golden Globe® nominee Brendan Gleeson.


From filmmaker Adam Smith (“The Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think”, “Desire”, “Dr. Who”) comes his latest British-American film “Tresspass Against Us”.

Written by Alastair Siddons (“In the Dark Half”, “Inside Out”), the film stars Michael Fassbender (“Prometheus”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “X-Men: Days of Future Pass”, “X-Men: First Class”), Brendan Gleeson (“Edge of Tomorrow”, “Gangs of New York”, “Troy,”, “Braveheart”), Lyndsey Marshal (“The Hours”, “Festival”, “A Short Stay in Switzerland”, “Hereafter”), Rory Kinnear (“The Imitation Game”, “Skyfall”, “Spectre”) and young actor Georgie Smith.

“Tresspass Against Us” revolves around Chad (portrayed by Michael Fassbender), his wife Kelly (portrayed by Lyndsey Marshal) and his three children,which include eldest son, Tyson (portrayed by Georgie Smith).

Chad lives in a trailer park community (with mostly Irish travelers) in which his father Colby (portrayed by Brendan Gleeson) is the criminal ringleader who organizes heists involving others living in the community.

But Chad doesn’t like the toll its taking on his family and would prefer to leave the criminal world, so his children could get a proper education and not grow up in the trailerpark community living poor and a life of crime. Because Chad grew up illiterate, and sick of the life that he and his family have, he is wanting out of the group.

His father Colby knows nothing about life outside the trailer park and has his own belief of religion and education.  And Chad and his wife know that the more Tyson stays around Colby and others in the trailer park, he will more than likely become a criminal like him?

But would it be easy for Chad and his family to leave the life they have ever known?

Meanwhile, Colby has everyone working on a major heist?  But what happens when all things go wrong?


VIDEO:

“Tresspass Against Us” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film features great detail on closeups and retains its grain.  For the most part, picture quality for the film is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tresspass Against Us” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue and The Chemical Brothers musical score is crystal clear. There are action scenes that are utilized by the surround channels but for the most part, this film is driven by ambiance or police chasing down the criminals.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tresspass Against Us” comes with the following special features:

      • On the Set of Tresspass Against Us – (21:54) The cast and crew discuss their work on the film and working with cast members, including the child talents.
      • Heartfelt: Director Adam Smith on The Chemical Brothers – (4:47) Director Adam Smith talks about his long working relationship with The Chemical Brothers and working with them on “Tresspass Against Us”.

EXTRAS:

“Tresspass Against Us” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


There are always people who grew up uneducated and living a life of poverty that want to become a better person, to go back to school and get their degrees in hopes they will not live the life that they or their parents or ancestors had lived.

“Tresspass Against Us” is a straightforward film about a father/husband named Chad who is starting to want out of the trailer park community full of Irish criminals led by his father, Colby.  For the sake that his family can live a decent life and their children become educated and not living a life of crime.

Chad has always been wrapped around his father’s finger, whatever his father wants, he expects Chad to do it.  And while it seems that no matter how bad things get, despite wanting to stand up for himself and his family and wanting to become more defiant against his father and leave the life they only know for a better one.

Being illiterate, Chad wants his children to become educated and leave the community but also to leave his father.  But unfortunately, Chad’s oldest son Tyson appears to have more love of their current life and often listens to their grandfather.  A man who likes telling tall-tales and giving his own opinion about the education system and more.

To be truthful, one of the film’s problems is that these characters are not likeable and very messed up.

Sure, they are the product of their environment and could they escape that environment and start over in another area?  Or once a riff raff, always a riff raff?

While the film tries to make Chad’s father, Colby the antagonist of the film, the film starts to change when it becomes a heist film and the cops want nothing more but to bust Chad and the criminals in the trailerpark community.  They just need the evidence to bust them all.  And so for these community of thieves, they find themselves as targets by the police.

For a film to be enjoyable, one should enjoy the characters and its storyline.  I felt that Michael Fassbender and youngster Georgie Smith had great chemistry as father and son on the big screen.  Georgie manages to have the pottymouth like the other travelers and you can’t help but enjoy those moments shared between father and son.

But as much as I enjoyed the film, the film lacks in character development and substance.  Enjoyable as the movie is, it’s not a film that I would want to watch for a second or third time.

The picture quality for the film is very good, as with the lossless audio and you do get a few special features included on Blu-ray.

Overall, “Tresspass Against Us” features a wonderful performance by Michael Fassbender and child actor Georgie Smith. But as far as the film goes, “Tresspass Against Us” is a film that no doubt had its entertaining moments.  But in the end, the film has its share of storyline continuity problems in which some scenes were rather ineffective and also issues with the lack of character development.  Still, the film had some redeeming factors that may make one interested in giving the film a try.

Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” is a film that gets better with age.  I came onto watching this film for the first time in over 25-years and realized for the first time about how awesome the casting, the writing and choreography was for the entire film.  And the fact that the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release is jammed with over six hours of special features and comes with a 7.1 lossless soundtrack makes this Blu-ray release worth owning!

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


TITLE: Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1987

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2017


Directed by Emile Ardolino

Written by Eleanor Bergstein

Produced by Linda Gottlieb

Co-Producer: Eleanor Bergstein

Executive Producer: Mitchell Cannold, Steven Reuther

Associate Producer: Doro Bachrach

Music by John Morris

Cinematography by Jeff Jur

Edited by Peter C. Frank

Casting by Bonnie Timmermann

Production Design by David Chapman

Art Direction by Mark Haack, Stephen J. Lineweaver

Set Decoration by Clay A. Griffith

Costume Design by Hilary Rosenfield


Starring:

Jennifer Grey as Baby Houseman

Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle

Jerry Orbach as Jake Houseman

Cynthia Rhodes as Penny Johnson

Jack Weston as Max Kellerman

Jane Brucker as Lisa Houseman

Kelly Bishop as Marjorie houseman

Lonny Price as Neil Kellerman

Max Cantor as Robbie Gould

Charlie “Honi” Coles as Tito Suarez

Neal Jones as Billy Kostecki


In the summer of 1963, innocent 17-year-old Baby (Jennifer Grey) vacations with her parents at a Catskills resort. One evening, she is drawn to the staff quarters by stirring music, and there she meets Johnny (Patrick Swayze), the hotel dance instructor, who is as experienced as Baby is naive. She soon becomes Johnny’s pupil in dance and love.


In 1987, a low-budget film titled “Dirty Dancing” directed by Emile Ardolino (“Sister Act”, “Three Men and a Little Lady”, “Chances Are”) and a screenplay written by Eleanor Bergstein (“It’s My Turn”, “Let it Be Me”) would become a massive box office hit earning over $214 million worldwie.

The film would catapult the careers of unknown actors Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey (both starred in the 1984 film, “Red Dawn”) and “Dirty Dancing” would be the first film to sell more than a million copies on home video and its soundtrack would generate two multi-platinum albums and multiple singles with “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” winning an Academy Award for “Best Original Song” and a Grammy for “Best Duet”.

And with the 30th Anniversary of “Dirty Dancing”, Lionsgate will be releasing a 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition and normal Blu-ray release.

“Dirty Dancing” is set during the summer of 1963 and revolves around the Houseman family visiting the Kellerman resort in the Catskill Mountains.

Frances “Baby” Houseman (portrayed by Jennifer Grey) is a 17-year-old high school graduate who plans to attend the Mount Holyoke College to study economics in underdeveloped countries and then enter the Peace Corps.

Baby’s father, Jake (portrayed by Jerry Orbach) is a doctor and friend of Max Kellerman (portrayed by Jack Weston), the resort proprietor.

Bored at the resort, Baby meets Max’s grandson Neil (portrayed by Lonny Price) and immediately she is becomes smitten with the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle (portrayed by Patrick Swayze).

Johnny is from the other side of the tracks.  He is the leader of the working-class entertainment staff and is often dancing with his dance partner, Penny Johnson (portrayed by Cynthia Rhodes).

When Johnny’s cousin Billy needs to deliver watermelons to the the staff quarters, Baby volunteers and she watches Johnny and Penny doing a dance that she has never seen before, “dirty dancing”.

When Penny finds out that she is pregnant by Robbie Gould (portrayed by Max Cantor), who is a womanizing waiter and is cheating on her and dating Baby’s older sister, Lisa (portrayed by Jane Brucker) and other female guests, Penny wants to get an abortion but doesn’t have the money.

for the time being, Johnny needs a new female partner as another nearby resort is having a performance week.  So, Baby volunteers.

But will Baby learn how to learn how to dance and learn the “dirty dancing” moves along with Johnny?  And what happens when these two get closer to each other?


VIDEO:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For a 30-year-old film, it’s important to remind everyone that they shouldn’t expect the best HD presentation for an older film, especially for ’80s films as it seems there are quite a number of films that have received a good dose of DNR (digital noise reduction).  The good news is that “Dirty Dancing” retains its grain structure and the film looks very good in HD.  An improvement for those who love the film and own it on DVD, you’ll definitely want to upgrade.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX Auio. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear.  With the 7.1 lossless soundtrack, great use of music and ambiance through the surround channels.  But I absolutely applaud Lionsgate for including a 7.1 soundtrack on this Blu-ray release.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary” comes with the following special features:

      • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with writer/co-producer Eleanor Bergstein
      • Audio commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrson, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman.
      • Happy Birthday, Dirty Dancing – (29:17) Celebrities and those in the entertainment industry discuss the 30th anniversary of “Dirty Dancing”.
      • Patrick Swayze: In His Own Words – (12:52) Patrick Swayze talks about dancing, performing and working on the film.
      • Eleanor Bergstein – Thoughts on a Lifetime of Dirty Dancing – (6:40) Eleanor Bergstein discusses her memories of the filming of “Dirty Dancing” and its enduring popularity.
      • Patrick Swayze Uncut – (13:22) From the last interview with Patrick Swayze about “Dirty Dancing” before his death.
      • Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon – (13:44) The popularity of “Dirty Dancing” and how well the film did for its premiere and how a low-budget film became a phenomenon.
      • The Rhythm of the Dancing – (4:08) The cast discusses the soundtrack for the film.  Patrick Swayze discusses writing and doing the music for “She’s Like the Wind” and how it got into the movie and more.
      • Hungry Eyes Music Video – Featuring Eric Carmen’s music video.
      • She’s Like the Wind Music Video – Featuring Patrick Swayze’s music video.
      • (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life Music Video – Featuring Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes music video.
      • Cast Interviews: Jennifer Grey – (11:14) Interview with actress Jennifer Grey.
      • Cast Interviews: Eleanor Bergstein – (18:35) Interview with writer/co-producer Eleanor Bergstein.
      • Cast Interviews: Miranda Garrison – (16:12) Interview with assistant choreographer Miranda Garrison (who also played the role of Vivian).
      • Cast Interviews: Kenny Ortega – (15:23) Interview with choreographer Kenny Ortega.
      • Deleted Scenes – Featuring eleven deleted scenes.
      • Extended Scenes – Featuring seven extended scenes.
      • Alternate Scenes – Featuring three alternate scenes.
      • Jennifer Grey Screen Test comparisons – Featuring two screen test comparisons: Baby Blackmails Lista and Baby Confronts Dad + Extended Scenes
      • Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey Screen Test Montage – (1:10) Dirty Dancing test montage with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
      • Outtakes – (:37) Outtakes from “Dirty Dancing”.

EXTRAS:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” comes with a DVD version of the film and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I don’t think it’s necessary to discuss how much a phenomenon “Dirty Dancing” was back in the ’80s.  Popular film, popular musical soundtrack and a film that is an excellent case of a film that didn’t require much money to create, nor did it need all-star talent.

If anything, director Emile Ardolino and writer Eleanor Bergstein were able to create a film that resonates strongly, emotionally, visually with the audience.  But also a film that has people wanting to get up and dance and sing a long to its musical soundtrack.

And the casting of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey was absolutely perfect!

This is an example of movie magic where everything came together and now, “Dirty Dancing” is considered a classic.

And now, here we are 30-years later and I’m watching the film for the first time probably over 25-years.

I was only a young teen but my memories of the film are easy to remember.  Watching the film over and over as it was shown on cable, hearing the music play over and over on the radio but most of all, remembering as a teenager and seeing two of my favorite characters from “Red Dawn” appearing together in another film.

And to see how their careers would blossom after this film finished its run.  Patrick Swayze became a household name and he would return in two other hit films “Ghost” (1990) and “Point Break” (1991), Jennifer Grey would take on more TV films and would appear on television series, while Broadway legend Jerry Orbach would become a familiar face on the drama show “Law & Order”.

If anything, this film would become part of that ’80s allure.  The film was bold for its time, while today, the type of dirty dancing has evolved for today’s modern generation. Sexy dancing doesn’t have the same mystique now as it did back in the ’80s.

And last but not least, there have been several times when I rewatch an ’80s film and question myself of why did I like it then but didn’t like it now.  “Dirty Dancing” was a film (and its musical soundtrack) that became too much overkill and I literally strayed away from watching the film again until now.

Watching “Dirty Dancing” again 30-years  later, I felt I appreciated the film so much more now, than I did as a teenager.  The attention the film had towards choreography and even the small moments featuring Baby dancing by herself and later with Johnny, seeing her improve as a dancer but also seeing this undeniable chemistry between the two actors onscreen.

The 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release comes with a wonderful limited edition set but this normal version that I’m reviewing is no slouch as it features over six hours of extras.  I was impressed by the number of special features included on the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release and found the commentary and features to be quite entertaining.

Overall, “Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” is a film that gets better with age.  I came onto watching this film for the first time in over 25-years and realized for the first time about how awesome the casting, the writing and choreography was for the entire film.  And the fact that the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release is jammed with over six hours of special features and comes with a 7.1 lossless soundtrack makes this Blu-ray release worth owning!

Recommended!

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

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For anyone who are open to learning about new cultures and seeing the life of those living in rural regions, Otto Bell’s “The Eagle Huntress” is truly inspirational and also visually beautiful to watch.  I enjoyed it and also recommend it!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Eagle Huntress, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Eagle Huntress

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 88 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 Aspect Ratio, Kazakh 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences)

RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2017


Directed by Otto Bell

Produced by Otto Bell, Sharon Chang, Stacy Reiss

Executive Producer: Jeremy Chilnick, Dan Cogan, Barbara Dobkin, Susan MacLaury, Daisy Ridley, Regina Kulik Scully, Marc H. Simon, Morgan Spurlock

Music by Jeff Peters

Cinematography by Simon Niblett

Edited by Pierre Takal


Starring:

Narrated by Daisy Ridley

Aisholpan Nurgaiv

Rys Nurgaiv


THE EAGLE HUNTRESS follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries. Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe, THE EAGLE HUNTRESS features some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography every captured in a documentary, giving this intimate tale of a young girl’s quest the dramatic force of an epic narrative film.


In 2016, filmmaker Otto Bell would film a Kazakh-language British-Mongolian-American documentary titled “The Eagle Huntress”.

Executive-produced by documentarian Morgan Spurlock (“Super Zie Me”, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”, “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?”) and Daisy Ridley (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Scrawl”, “Lifesaver”), who also narrates the film.

And now the documentary will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in February 2017.

“The Eagle Huntress” revolves around Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a 13-year-old Kazakh girl from Mongolia and is from a family of nomads that spend their summers in a yurt in the Altai mountains and during the winter, they live in town.

For seven generations, her family have been eagle hunters and she wants to become one.

While Aisholpan studies hard as she dreams of becoming a doctor but also has learned from her father Nurgaiv, an eagle hunter/trainer, who has won a few Golden Eagle competitions.  She was taught by her father to care for an eagle and train them and dreams of competing in the major competition, but the competition is dominated by male eagle hunters who believe in a males-only tradition.

But Nurgaiv has always believed that males and females are equal and that Aisholpan can compete.

So, one day, Aisholpan with her father climb up a mountain and she is able to capture and train her own eaglet.

But what happens when Aisholpan enters the annual Golden Eagle Festival?


VIDEO:

“The Eagle Huntress” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). Overall picture quality shows amazing detail during closeups. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep. Many outdoor shots and for the most part vibrant and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The documentary looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Eagle Huntress” is presented in Kazakh 5.1 DTS-HD MA and an English audio description track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The lossless audio is primarily dialogue and musically driven, with surround channels for natural ambiance (especially with the eagle or birds squawking or chirping in the background).

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Eagle Huntress” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Otto Bell.
  • Capturing the Eagle Huntress – (10:26) Behind-the-scenes on the making of “The Eagle Huntress”.
  • Theatrical Trailer

What started with a photograph from a photographer, would lead filmmaker Otto Bell to go to western Mongolia to create a film in the least populated rural region of the country.

Observing families and how eagles were living with the humans and sure enough, when Otto Bell and his crew proposed to make a film about 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv, the daughter of an eagle hunter/trainer, from her catching an eagle to her competing in the annual Golden Eagle Festival.

But also to learn about the challenges that Aisholpan experienced because she was female competing in a competition that was primarily male-dominated.  And no doubt, a gender-breaking opportunity and showing that a female can compete along with the males.

With no money, no budget and shooting on a shoestring budget, with only a few crew (which included using GoPro cameras), the crew were able to get aerial shots with a drone and utilize a RED EPIC camera and lightweight crane to accomplish the film.

The film no doubt was able to be boosted by narration by actress Daisy Ridley but the storyline of “The Eagle Huntress” is made enjoyable with the true-to-life filming of the daily life of young Aisholpan but also the cinematography of Simon Niblett was able to capture the beauty but also showing us the risk that Aisholpan had to accomplish in hunting her first eagle but eventually training it for competition.

“The Eagle Huntress” documentary that is no doubt amazing for the accomplishment of a 13-year-old girl, who many considered not suitable to participate in the annual Golden Eagle Festival competition but what happens after and to hear the male competitors discuss her win, was no surprise.

While the documentary is inspirational, I was also impressed by what the film crew with hardly any budget was able to accomplish in getting this film made.  And with modern technology, director Otto Bell and cinematographer Simon Niblett were able to document a day in the life of a teenager and a region that many people are not familiar with.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Special features includes an insightful audio commentary but also a featurette showing the challenges of filming this documentary on a shoestring budget.

For anyone who are open to learning about new cultures and seeing the life of those living in rural regions, Otto Bell’s “The Eagle Huntress” is truly inspirational and also visually beautiful to watch.  I enjoyed it and also recommend it!

American Pastoral (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The directorial debut of actor Ewan McGregor was no doubt a wonderful first film. With “American Pastoral”, taking on such a challenging job as a director and the film’s main protagonist, McGregor takes Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize novel and is able to make it his own, with a few changes compared to the original source. I couldn’t help but being captivated by the film and seeing how certain actions mirrors today’s society and I found the film to be fascinating, though-provoking and heartbreaking. “American Pastoral” is a film worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: American Pastoral

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 108 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Some Strong Sexual Material, Language and Deep Violent Images)

RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2017


Based on the Novel by Philip roth

Directed by Ewan McGregor

Screenplay by John Romano

Produced by Andre Lamal, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg

Co-Producer: Zane Weiner

Executive Producer: Terry McKay, Eric Reid

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Cinematography by Martin Ruhe

Edited by Melissa Kent

Casting by Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood

Production Design by Daniel B. Clancy

Art Direction by Gregory A. Weimerskirch

Set Decoration by Julie Smith

Costume Design by Lindsay McKay


Starring:

Ewan McGregor as Swede Levov

Jennifer Connelly as Dawn Levov

Dakota Fanning as Merry Levov

Peter Riegert as Lou Levov

Rupert Evans as Jerry Levov

Uzo Aduba as Vicky

Molly Parker as Sheila Smith

Valorie Curry as Rita Cohen

Hannah Nordberg as Merry Levov (12-years-old)

Julia Silverman as Sylvia Levov

Mark Hildreth as Agent Dolan

Samantha Mathis as Penny Hamlin

David Strathairn as Nathan Zuckerman


Ewan McGregor directs and stars alongside Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning in this acclaimed film adapted from Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Seymour “Swede” Levov (Ewan McGregor), a once-legendary high school athlete, is a successful businessman married to a former beauty queen, Dawn (Jennifer Connelly). When Swede and Dawn’s daughter (Dakota Fanning) disappears after being accused of a violent crime, Swede’s perfect life is broken forever and he is left to make sense out of the chaos.


Back in 1997, Philip Roth’s novel “American Pastoral” would take the world by storm.

Roth’s novel would win the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and was included in Time Magazine’s “All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels” and the crime-drama film would receive a loose film adaptation.

Actor Ewan McGregor (“Trainspotting”, “Star Wars: Episodes 1-3” films) would make his directorial debut with “American Pastoral” and would feature a screenplay by John Romano (“The Lincoln Lawyer”, “Intolerable Cruelty”, “Nights in Rodanthe”).

The film stars Jennifer Connelly (“Requiem for a Dream”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Blood Diamond”), Dakota Fanning (“War of the Worlds”, “Man on Fire”, “I am Sam”), Peter Riegert (“The Mask”, “Oscar”, “Animal House”), Rupert Evans (“Hellboy”, “Agora”, “The Canal”), Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”, “Tallulah”), Molly Parker (“The Road”, “Dead Wood”, “The Wicker Man”), Valorie Curry (“The Following”, “Blair Witch”, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”).

The film’s premiere was held at the 2016 Toronto International Film FEstival wand will be released on Blu-ray in February 2017.

The film begins with author Nathan Zuckerman (portrayed by David Strathairn) going to his 40-year reunion for Weequahic High School in Newark, Jersey.

Nathan is looking forward to seeing his old friend Seymour “Swede” Levov (portrayed by Ewan McGregor), the high school hero, star athlete who married beauty queen Dawn Dwyer Levov (portrayed by Jennifer Connelly) and is now in charge of the family glove-making business.  And the last he heard before the ’60s was that Swede and Dawn had a daughter named Merry.

When he sees Swede’s younger brother, Jerry (portrayed by Rupert Evans) at the high school reunion and starts reminiscing about Swede, he is unaware of what happened to Swede throughout the decades.  In fact, the reason why Jerry is in town is for Swede’s funeral.

Jerry then tells Nathan the story of what happened to Swede.

We learn that Swede, who is Jewish, married Dawn a devout Roman Catholic and how his father, Lou (portrayed by Peter Riegert) was against the marriage but gave in.

The couple would have a daughter named Meredith “Merry” and would settle in the town of Old Rimrock at a big farm, in which Dawn takes care of the cows, while Swede would take over his father’s business.

Merry has a stuttering problem and when Swede and Dawn talk to Dr. Sheila Smith about why she has a stuttering problem, they start to learn that its possible competition between mother and daughter for Swede’s attention.

One day, while watching television, a young “Merry” sees the Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc taking part in self-immolation and can’t understand why the man would burn himself to death.

Fastforward to when Merry is now a teenager and as the Vietnam War continues to rage on during the turbulent 1960’s, she is becoming more radicalized and often leaves to New York to take part in anti-war protests.

Swede who is concerned for his daughter tells her that he will not allow her to go to New York and that she could practice her anti-war protests at home.

A few days later, the local posts office and gas station are blown up by a bomb and the gas station’s owner is killed.  With Merry gone, she has now become the prime suspect in the bombing.

And as years have passed by without hearing from their daughter, the couple who were seen as “perfect” are destroyed by not knowing what happened to Merry but radicalized her to the point of killing someone.  The parents question themselves and don’t understand what they did wrong as parents.  And the guilt and the feeling of loss is taking its toll on both Swede and Dawn.

But one day, a woman named Rita Cohen (portrayed by Valorie Curry), a student at the Wharton School comes to Swede’s glovemaking business and immediately tells him behind closed doors that she knows about Merry’s whereabouts.

This leads Swede on a mission to find his daughter.


VIDEO:

“American Pastoral” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Close-ups show great detail and for the most part, costume design and make-up design (showing each cast member aging throughout the years/decades) is well-done.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts while watching the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“American Pastoral” is presented in English and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily a dialogue-driven soundtrack but there are moments where the surround channels are utilized, such as the bomb explosion and when Swede goes after Rita or gun shots outside of Swede’s business.  But for the most part, this is

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“American Pastoral” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ewan McGregor.
  • American Pastoral: Adapting an American Classic – (28:01) A featurette about the difficulties of doing an adaptation of “American Pastoral” and how Ewan McGregor came to be the film’s director.  And also interviews with the cast and behind-the-scenes of making the film.
  • Making the American Dream – (17:35) A featurette with interviews with the cast and crew about being part of this film and bringing “American Pastoral” to the big screen.

EXTRAS:

“American Pastoral” comes with a slipcover, DVD and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I have watched “American Pastoral” twice and despite knowing how there are a number of differences between the Pulitzer Prize winning book and the film adaptation, I can’t help but say that this film started to grow on me.

As many of us grew up watching ’50s television shows about the perfect nuclear family and whenever there is trouble, people learn from their mistakes and it’s always a happy ending.

I found “American Pastoral” to be a film that really captivated me because of perception that the most popular athlete dating a beauty queen and having inherited his father’s glovemaking business and is financially wealthy makes the Levov family “perfect”.

It’s anything but as this couple who grew up during a time when America seemed wonderful and there were advances in technology and despite the politics and tension with Russia, for the most part, the world seemed much friendlier until the turmoil of the 1960’s rolled in.

The death of JFK, the Vietnam War and a time where people disapproved their government and wanted to make their voices heard.

And seeing how things are going on in today’s society, in someways, the film is relevant because radicalism and anger towards the government is on the forefront and it shows how families who felt they raised their children right, have no control of the life their children may leave when they become obsessed with a certain ideology.

The film deals with this perfect couple who must deal with the consequences after their beloved daughter, who they see her growing up to be more opinionated and then radicalized, blowing up the local post office and gas station, killing a man, a husband, a father.  And now their daughter is missing and both Swede and his wife Dawn, not only feel guilt, there are questions of why their daughter is gone, would she be capable of killing anyone, blowing up property and in essence, becoming a domestic terrorist.

I think in certain moments of the film, there were scenes that stood in my head as the wife of the man who was killed tells the Lenov’s that despite she losing her husband and her children losing their father, she feels bad for them because they still maintain their family.  The family will continue as it had before.  But tells the Lenov’s that their family will never be the same.

And we see how the couple grow up through the years, not knowing what happened to their girl.  Swede can’t forget his daughter and his marriage seems incomplete without his family, without his daughter Merry who he has been searching for, awaiting any clue that may lead him to her.

And as years pass, a mysterious woman shows up out of nowhere, offering Swede a chance to find his daughter and that she knows where she is.

I found the film to be smartly written and the film’s message to be powerful.  And I say this as a person who has never read the book.  I think like many adaptations of a famous book, if it deviates too far from the original source, it’s enough to make those who were entertained by the book to easily criticize the film.

In this case, I’m not in the position to discuss the differences between book and film but I do know that I found the film to be real, devastating, tragic and heartbreaking but yet watching how time has transpired for the couple, sympathize with their grief of not knowing what happened to their daughter and if she is capable of being a murderer.

The Blu-ray release features very good picture quality with a lossless soundtrack that is appropriate for the film’s dialogue and music-driven soundtrack.  And you also get a few special features included as well.

Overall, the directorial debut of actor Ewan McGregor was no doubt a wonderful first film. With “American Pastoral”, taking on such a challenging job as a director and the film’s main protagonist, McGregor takes Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize novel and is able to make it his own, with a few changes compared to the original source.  I couldn’t help but being captivated by the film and seeing how certain actions mirrors today’s society and I found the film to be fascinating, though-provoking and heartbreaking.

“American Pastoral” is a film worth checking out!

 

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