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

April 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Supremacy” is a riveting story of white supremacists invading the home of an African-American family and what the family will do to survive.  Based on a true story,”Supremacy” is a solid film for director Deon Taylor and writer Eric J. Adams.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Supremacy the Movie. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Supremacy

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: April 21, 2015


Directed by Deon Taylor

Written by Eric J. Adams

Produced by Roxanne Avent, Vince Cirrincione

Co-Producer: Damien Douglas, Steak House, Dominic Ottersbach

Executive Producer: Aaron L. Gilbert

Co-Executive Producer: Margot Hand, Patrick Murray, Mary Vernieu

Associate Producer: Ephraim Salaam

Music by Michael Einziger

Cinematography by Rodney Taylor

Edited by Richard B. Molina

Casting by Venus Kanani, Mary Vernieu

Production Design by Michael Fitzgerald

Art Direction by Rodrigo Cabral

Costume Design by Rhona Meyers


Starring:

Danny Glover as Mr. Walker

Joe Anderson as Garrett Tully

Dawn Olivieri as Doreen

Derek Luke as Raymond

Evan Ross as Anthony

Lela Rochon as Mother

Mahershala Ali as Deputy Rivers

Julie Benz as Kristen

Nick Chinlund as Hannity

Robin Bobeau as Cassie

Alex Henderson as Jamar

Jenica Bergere as Gerardi


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Tully (Joe Anderson, A SINGLE SHOT, HERCULES) just got paroled. But his first night out could be his last. He just killed a cop. And no one s gonna listen to an ex-con with the Aryan Nation. His leader (Anson Mount) just cut him loose, and as the police close in, Tully and his girlfriend (Dawn Olivieri) add home invasion and hostages to the body count. But no one counted on Mr. Walker (Danny Glover), an ex-con himself, to fight back using his understanding of the racist mind to turn the tables on a desperate and violent man. Will it be enough to keep his family alive?


From indie film director Deon Taylor (“Nite Tales: The Movie”, “The Hustle”, “Dead Tone”) and writer Eric J. Adams (“Archie’s Final Project”) comes the film “Supremacy”.

Based on actual true events about a recently-paroled white supremacist, who killed a cop and broke into an African-American family’s home and held everyone hostage.

The film stars Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon”, “The Color Purple”),  Joe Anderson (“Across the Universe”, “The Grey”, “Control”), Dawn Olivieri (“American Hustle”, “House of Lies”), Derek Luke (“Antwone Fisher”, “Glory Road”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”), Evan Ross (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″) and Lela Rochon (“Any Given Sunday”, “Waiting to Exhale”).

“Supremacy” begins with white supremacist Tully (portrayed by Joe Anderson) being released after serving 15-years in prison and is picked up by a woman named Doreen (portrayed by Dawn Olivieri).

While driving to Bakersfield, California for hours, they are stopped by a Black sheriff, who Tully kills.

While the two drive off, they abandon their car and look for a place to hide.  They end up hiding in the home of Mr. Walter (portrayed by Danny Glover), who lives with his wife (portrayed by Lela Rochon), her son Anthony (portrayed by Evan Ross), her daughter Cassie (portrayed by Robin Bobeau) and her two children, Jamar (portrayed by Alex Henderson) and a baby.

Immediately, the family  is gathered up and locked into a closet.

As Tully and Doreen wait for orders from their ringleader Sobecki (portrayed by Anson Mount), things start to escalate inside the home when one of the family members is shot.

Will any of the family members survive?


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VIDEO:

“Supremacy” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality for the film is very good as close-ups show plenty of detail. Outdoor scenes are vibrant, skin tones look natural and there is a good amount of grain throughout the film.

The film looks magnificent in HD, with no signs of major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Supremacy” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue driven.  Most of the surround sound use during the film is when you hear screams coming from another room.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Supremacy” comes with the following special features:

  • Behind-the-Scenes – (8:34) Behind-the-scenes footage from “Supremacy” during the sheriff’s murder.
  • Trailer – (2:01) Theatrical trailer for “Supremacy”.

EXTRAS:

“Supremacy” comes with a slipcover.


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I’ll have to give credit to director Deon Taylor and writer Eric J. Adams for taking on racism but also the ongoing, back-and-forth dialogue between the characters of white supremacist Tully (portrayed by Joe Anderson) and veteran actor Danny Glover as the patriarch Mr. Walter.

In today’s era, rage and anger is a trigger for most people to react to racism but for the character of Mr. Walter, having dealt with racism when he was younger, he deals with Tully without anger, but with patience and calmness.  Knowing that those around him are in trouble, he does all he can to help alleviate the high emotions in the house.

And what starts off as a battle of stereotypes transitions to something more powerful, more similar to each of these characters that they are able to communicate.

While the film’s action sequences and the riveting tale of whether the family lives (there is one scene that surprised me when it involved one of the youngest children) and thus setting up an unknown situation of whether this family will come out of this whole entire ordeal unscathed.

What didn’t work in the film is this sidestory between Mr. Walter and his son, Raymond (portrayed by Derek Luke), who is in law enforcement. Both have a troubled relationship and whenever their relationship becomes the focus of the film, it didn’t work all that well.

As for the Blu-ray release, the Blu-ray’s picture quality was very good!  Close-ups show great detail, the scenes were well-lit and there is also a good amount of grain throughout the film.  Lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue-driven and is crystal clear, with special features showcasing a short making-of.

Overall, “Supremacy” is a riveting story of white supremacists invading the home of an African-American family and what the family will do to survive.  Based on a true story, “Supremacy” is a solid film for director Deon Taylor and writer Eric J. Adams and a film worth watching!

Recommended!

 

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

April 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you dig moronic comedy, especially Kevin Hart films, then “The Wedding Ringer” is for you!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Screen Gems. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Wedding Ringer

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R

Release Date: April 28, 2015


Directed by Jeremy Garelick

Written by Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender

Produced by Adam Fields, William Packer

Co-Producer: Valerie Bleth Sharp

Executive Producer: Zanne Devine, Glenn S. Gainor, Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender, Ben Waisbren

Associate Producer: Chris Bremner, Nathan Donohoe

Music by Christopher Lennertz

Cinematography by Bradford Lipson

Edited by Jeff Groth, Shelly Westerman, Byron Wong

Casting by Ron Digman, Valorie Massalas

Production Design by Chris Cornwell

Art Direction by Charlie Campbell

Set Decoration by Dena Roth

Costume Design by Genevieve Tyrrell


Starring:

Kevin Hart as Jimmy Callahan/Bic

Josh Gad as Doug Harris

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting as Gretchen Palmer

Affion Crockett as Reggie/Drysdale

Jorge Garcia as Lurch/Garvey

Dan Gill as Bronstein/Dickerson

Corey Holcomb as Otis/Alzado

Ken Howard as Ed Palmer

Colin Kane as Fitzgibbons/Plunkett

Cloris Leachman as Grandma Palmer

Jenifer Lewis as Doris Jenkins

Alan Ritchson as Kip/Carew

Mimi Rogers as Lois Palmer

Aaron Takahashi as Endo/Rambis

Olivia Thirlby as Alison Palmer

Whitney Cummings as Holly Munk

Ignacio Serricchio as Edmundo/Dirty Eddie Sanchez


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Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a loveable but socially awkward groom-to-be with a problem: he has no best man. With less than two weeks to go until he marries the girl of his dreams (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), Doug is referred to Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner and CEO of Best Man, Inc., a company that provides flattering best men for socially challenged guys in need. What ensues is a hilarious wedding charade as they try to pull off the big con, and an unexpected budding bromance between Doug and his fake best man Jimmy.


From Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender, the writing duo who wrote the 2006 comedy “The Break-Up”, comes “The Wedding Ringer”, which marks Garelick’s directorial debut.

The comedy film stars Kevin Hart (“Ride Along”, “Get Hard”), Josh Gad (“Love & Other Drugs”, “21”, “Frozen”), Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (“The Big Bang Theory”, “8 Simple Rules”), Jorge Garcia (“Lost”, “Hawaii Five-O”), Affion Crockett (“Never Back Down”, “This Means War”) and many more.

Despite the critical pounding the film received, “The Wedding Ringer” and the popularity of Kevin Hart helped the film earn over $75.5 million in the box office.

“The Wedding Ringer” introduces us to Jimmy Callahan (portrayed by Kevin Hart), who provides best man services for those who don’t have friends.  Despite his clients wanting to be friends with him, he makes sure that he knows that after he provides his service, they will no longer have any contact and they are not “real” friends.

Meanwhile, Doug Harris (portrayed by Josh Gad) is a successful tax attorney, but his social life is weak.  He has no friends and he is marrying the beautiful Gretchen Palmer (portrayed by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) and are planing their wedding day, but she wants to meet his best man.

Unfortunately, Josh has no friends, so during the heat of the moment, looking at products in the medicine cabinet, he comes up with a name “Bic Mitchum” as his best man.  Seeing that he has no best man, he is referred by the party planner Edmundo (portrayed by Ignacio Serricchio) to check out the company, “The Best Man Inc.”.

As he visits The Best Man Inc., Doug asks Jimmy if he can pull of a “Golden Tux” (seven groomsmen) to match Gretchen’s bridesmaids, which Jimmy has never done before.  But as Jimmy agrees to take on the job, also hearing about Doug’s choice of name – Big Mitchum, and that he is a pastor who came from the military, Jimmy agrees but begins his search for groomsmen.

He begins to recruit his friends, some who are former criminals, some with strange talents, deformities or impediments and some people he grew up with.

With this odd group of friends, will Jimmy pull off a wonderful wedding for Doug?  And what happens when Doug starts to see Jimmy as a friend?


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VIDEO:

“The Wedding Ringer” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is very good as close-ups show plenty of detail.  Outdoor scenes are vibrant, skin tones look natural.

The film looks magnificent in HD, with no signs of major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Wedding Ringer” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue and musically driven, with good use of surrounds for ambiance and music having a strong presence throughout the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Wedding Ringer” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Jeremy Garelick and actor Josh Gad.
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring 15 delete scenes.
  • Outtakes – Featuring four outtakes and an outtakes reel (3:38).
  • Line-O-Rama – (14:19) Improvisation scenes from the film.
  • Going to the Chapel of Love – (6:24) The cast and crew discuss wedding memories.
  • Music Video – (3:30) Featuring “Can You Do This” by Aloe Blacc.

EXTRAS:

“The Wedding Ringer” comes with the UltraViolet code and a slipcover.


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As Kevin Hart is “The Guy” that you will often see in comedy films next to Will Ferrell in the past year, for those who have seen a Hart film knows that you get either a good film or a bad one.

“The Wedding Ringer” unfortunately is neither great or good but with the moronic humor in the film, you can’t help but think that with its box office success, a sequel may possibly happen.

The storyline seems banal, a guy with no friends needs a best man and groomsmen, so he hires one and depends on Jimmy (portrayed by Hart) to be the guy to make it happen.

But the groomsmen are the most unlikeliest bunch of people you will see together.  One who escaped Federal Prison, one who works at an airport, one who has three testicles, one who can look sexy but has a stuttering problem, another is a man who can pull his shoulder out of it’s socket.

And the film plays off like a film with many improv scenes that whatever can get the most laughs were selected because the scenes are either unfunny or making someone laugh hysterically.  I found the film unfunny as Cloris Leachman, playing the grandmother, is on fire during dinner.  Another scene features the guys pulling a joke on Doug by making him think he’s getting a BJ, when it’s actually a dog.  Does this make you laugh and are you into this type of comedy?  If so, then “The Wedding Ringer” is for you.

There is no doubt that the partnering of Kevin Hart and Josh Gad works for “The Wedding Ringer”.  You can tell the two are having a lot of fun shooting this film and to have the beautiful Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting in the film is another plus.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film looks fantastic in HD as outdoor scenes are vibrant, closeup scenes show great detail and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  You also get a plethora of outtakes, improve scenes, audio commentary and deleted scenes as well.

Overall, “The Wedding Ringer” are for those who have enjoyed moronic Will Ferrel, Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler of years past.  They are not for everyone, but there is an audience who loves dumb comedy and to see how far the director/writer/actors will take things.  And in this case, Kevin Hart is currently the face of American comedy.

If you dig moronic comedy, especially Kevin Hart films, then “The Wedding Ringer” is for you!

 

Cries and Whispers – The Criterion Collection #101 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” features the exploration of selfish, miserable characters which Bergman has managed to capture amazingly well in film.  Disturbing and not an easy film to watch, it still remains one of Bergman’s most powerful films featuring magnificent performances by Harriet Anderson, Liv Ullman and Ingrid Thurin.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Cries and Whispers – The Criterion Collection #101

YEAR OF FILM: 1972

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:66:1 aspect ratio, Color, Swedish Monaural LPCM 1.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015


Written and Directed by Ingmar Bergman

Produced by Ingmar Bergman, Lars-Owe Carlberg

Cinematography by Sven Nykvist

Edited by Siv Lundgren

Production Design by Marik Vos-Lundh

Costume Design by Marik Vos-Lundh


Starring:

Harriet Anderson as Agnes

Kari Sylwan as Anna

Ingrid Thulin as Karin

Liv Ullman as Maria

Anders Ek as Isak, the Priest

Erland Josephson as David, the doctor

Henning Moritzen as Joakim, Maria’s Husband

George Arlin as Fredrik, Karin’s Husband


This existential wail of a drama from Ingmar Bergman concerns two sisters, Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), keeping vigil for a third, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific servant (Kari Sylwan). An intensely felt film that is one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquillity and terror.


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Written during a difficult time in the life of Ingmar Bergman (“The Seventh Seal”, “Fanny and Alexander”, “Persona”), “Cries and Whispers” became one of Bergman’s box office success.

Receiving critical acclaim and also nominations for five Academy Awards including a nomination for “Best Picture”, the film was seen a a return to traditional Bergman themes and also a collaboration with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, who won an “Academy award for Best Cinematography” award.

Having been released by the Criterion Collection as its 101st release, “Cries and Whispers” will receive a new 2K digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack.

The film is set during the 19th century and Agnes (portrayed by Harriet Anderson) is dying of cancer.  Living in a mansion with red carpets, red decoir and white statuary, her sisters Maria (portrayed by Liv Ullman) and Karin (portrayed by Ingrid Thulin) come to stay with her during her last moments.

But these sisters are not close and the more they stay with Agnes, the more they begin to feel distant but also find self-discovery as they need to deal with the concept of death.  While her sisters are there to stay with her, they don’t do much to help her and depend on her maid Anna (portrayed by Kari Sylwan), who lost a daughter and is deeply committed in taking care of Agnes.

But the longer Maria and Karin stay with Agnes, the more they start to think about the disappointment in their lives, flashbacks and memories that show how much pain and suffering these sisters have also faced in their lives.


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VIDEO:

“Cries and Whispers – The Criterion Collection #101″ is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:66:1 aspect ratio). The one thing that this film will captivate viewers its the cinematography, costume design and eventually the way the pain captures suffering in detail thanks to the cinematography of Sven Nykvist which focuses on the colors of crimson red, white and black.

One of the biggest differences from this Blu-ray release compared to the older Criterion Collection DVD is Criterion’s dedication to get away from the DNR that made the DVD version look a bit blurry.  There is a good amount of grain throughout the film and boasts much better detail.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new high-definition digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35 mm original camera negative at Chimney in Stockholm.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices and warps were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker and jitter”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Cries and Whispers – The Criterion Collection #101″ is presented in Swedish LPCM 1.0 monaural and English Dolby Digital 1.0 (via an English Dolby Digital 1.0 dubbed soundtrack). Dialogue is clear with no signs of hiss or popping.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 17.5 mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX4.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Cries and Whispers – The Criterion Collection #101″ comes with the following special features:

  • Introduction by Ingmar Bergman – (7:09) Reporter Marie Nyrerod interviewed director Ingmar Bergman for SVT Svensk Television in the summer of 2003, on the island of Faro, where he had lived since 1967.
  • Harriet Anderson – (20:00) An interview with Harriet Anderson who talks about working on “Cries and Whispers” and her working relationship with Ingmar Bergman.
  • On-Set Footage – (34:00) Silent color footage shot during the production of “Cries and Whispers”.  Featuring audio commentary by film historian Peter Cowie.
  • Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Death, And Love with Erland Josephson – (52:19) A rare television interview with the director, Ingmar Bergman appears with his frequent star Erland Josephson for a candid, highly charged discussion.  Interview was conducted by journalist Malou von Sivers for TV4 International Sweden in 1999.
  • On Solace – (12:49) A 2014 video esay, filmmaker ::jogonada explores director Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers”.
  • Trailer – (1:54) The original theatrical trailer for “Cries and Whispers”.

EXTRAS:

“Cries and Whispers – The Criterion Collection #101″ comes with a six-page insert with the essay “Love and Death” by Emma Wilson.


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As of the first Ingmar Bergman films that I have watched, I will not forget the performance by Harriet Anderson, who had a commanding performance as the character of Agnes, a woman dying of cancer ad you can hear the gasp in her voice, the pain that she exhibits and everything is detailed with efficacy, thanks to the solid writing and directorial effort by director Ingmar Bergman.

Teaming up with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, wonderful costume and set design, the film is primarily about three sisters in the final moments with their sister.  But the film proves to be a wonderful connection between the present and past.

Maria is a wife who struggles with self-mutilation and doing all she can to keep her husband away from her.  She has failed in building relationships because of her fears and only letting her sister Karin inside.

Karin, on the other hand is more social, outgoing but lives within her facade of being young and attractive.  Trying to use her young, beautiful looks to attract others, disturb others but also is unable to stay in her failed message.  She often remembers the love she shared with a handsome doctor but now the lack of anything, thanks to her ineffectual husband.

In some ways, both these sisters seem snooty and spoiled and have gotten their way and while I don’t care for dark and sad films,  you can’t help but see how these women have emotional baggage and have tried to live through their own personal failures

As I have wrote about Harriet Anderson’s commanding performance, Liv Ullman does a wonderful job of playing a woman who is afraid of emotional connections.  A woman who seems so cold and stoic, until you see her one true weakness in addition to seeing how far she would let herself go for a touch of happiness.  And how far she would go to push her husband away by self-mutilating herself, so she would remain bloody and drive him away.  But how much she revels in the pain she puts herself through but yet enjoys it in a sadist type of way.

Ingrid Thulin has done a wonderful job playing Karin, a woman who has no doubt attracted many men and possibly women with her beauty, but when she starts to think about failed romance, her unhappiness in her marriage, we see how she is able to hurt others through her false affection.

While the film revolves around three sisters, the film also features Anna the maid (portrayed by Kari Sylwan), who seems to be the most sane person in the film, wanting to do all that she can to ensure Agnes has someone taking care of her, something that her own sisters are unable to do.

The film was no doubt a shocking, intense film for its time.  Bergman, who is known for focusing on the female psyche, has created a film about miserable people.  People who have been too caught up with wealth and vanity, and deep inside, they live miserable, selfish lives.

Married but yet not allowed any affection, and as for the dying Agnes, she may not get the love and genuine support from her two sisters, but had one woman, a maid, who is willing to do all that was necessary to make her feel peace and comfort during her final days.

As for the Blu-ray release of “Cries and Whispers”, this 2K restoration features much better detail, much better feature of grain thanks to Criterion’s stepback from DNR.  Detail is much more evident, colors are more pronounced and the film looks much better in HD.  As for the film, it’s a dialogue-driven film with your occasional music but I heard no hiss, pops or anything negative during my viewing of the film.  As for the special features, you get new interviews, especially with Harriet Anderson who discusses her work with Bergman.  Also, a new video essay by filmmaker :: kogonada and also, many more special features just for this Blu-ray release.

Overall, Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” features the exploration of selfish, miserable characters which Bergman has managed to capture amazingly well in film.  Disturbing and not an easy film to watch, it still remains one of Bergman’s most powerful films featuring magnificent performances by Harriet Anderson, Liv Ullman and Ingrid Thurin.  Recommended!

Sullivan’s Travels – The Criterion Collection #118 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Sullivan’s Travels” is an American classic and Preston Sturges at his best.  But the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of “Sullivan’s Travels” also celebrates the life of this filmmaker but also showing us that even for great successes, when their luck has ran out, things don’t work out as great as you once have hoped.  The definitive release of this Hollywood classic, “Sullivan’s Travels” on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sullivan’s Travels – The Criterion Collection #118

YEAR OF FILM: 1941

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1 aspect ratio, Black & White, Monaural LPCM 1.0

COMPANY: Universal/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: April 14, 2015


Written and Directed by Preston Sturges

Executive Producer: Buddy G. DeSylva

Produced by Preston Sturges

Associate Producer: Paul Jones

Music by Charles Bradshaw, Leo Shuken

Cinematography by John F. Seitz

Edited by Stuart Gilmore

Casting by Robert Mayo

Art Direction by Hans Dreier, A. Earl Hedrick

Costume Design by Edith Head

 


Starring:

Joel McCrea as John L. Lloyd Sullivan

Veronica Lake as The Girl

Robert Warwick as Mr. Lebrand

William Demarest as Mr. Jones

Franklin Pangborn as Mr. Casalsis

Porter Hall as Mr. Hadrian

Byron Foulger as Mr. Johnny Valdelle

Margaret Hayes as Secretary

Robert Greig as Burroughs

Eric Blore as Sullivan’s valet

Torben Meyer as the Doctor

Victor Potel as Cameraman

Richard Webb as Radio Man

Charles R. Moore as Colored Chef


Tired of churning out lightweight comedies, Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou?—a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, Sullivan hits the road disguised as a hobo. En route to enlightenment, he encounters a lovely but no-nonsense young woman (Veronica Lake)—and more trouble than he ever dreamed of. This comic masterpiece by Preston Sturges is among the finest Hollywood satires and a high-water mark in the career of one of the industry’s most revered funnymen.


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In 1941, producer/writer/director Preston Sturges (“The Lady Eve”, “Unfaithfully Yours”, “The Great McGinty”)  created his masterpiece “Sullivan’s Travels” starring actor Joel McCrea (“Foreign Correspondent”, “Buffalo Bill”, “The Virginian”) and actress Veronica Lake (“I Married a Witch”, “This Gun for Hire”, “Hold That Blonde”).

The film was selected for preservation by the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1990 as being “Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and in 2007, was ranked #61 in the American Film Institute’s “Greatest Movie of All Time”.

As “Sullivan’s Travels” was the 118th release by the Criterion Collection, the film has received a new high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack in this 2015 Blu-ray release.

“Sullivan’s Travels” revolves around director John L. Sullivan (played by Joel McCrea).  After having his share of profitable films, which were comedies that were not showcasing him as a serious director, Sullivan decided that he wanted to change things up and direct a film titled “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”.  Of course, the studio head Mr. Lebrand (played by Robert Warwick) wants him to focus on comedy but Sullivan will not do it.

Sullivan comes up with an idea.  Why not learn first-hand on how to be a homeless person (know in the 1940’s as the word “tramp”) by actually becoming one in order to gain the research he needs for his serious film that would depict the sorrow of humanity.

Of course, the studio is not so thrilled about their profitable director getting into that kind of trouble, so they have an entourage following Sullivan who is dressed as a tramp hitchhiking.  The problem is that the entourage are just a bit too close and nearby.  So, Sullivan tells them that he needs his space and distance from them to make this research possible and will meet them in Las Vegas.

Sullivan eventually breaks free and starts working as a helping hand for a woman who tries to keep him locked up in the house but Sullivan manages to escape and hitchhikes his way out of the area and is given a ride by a truck driver.  When he wakes up, he finds out that he is taken back to Hollywood.  Upset and hungry, he goes into a diner but with not much money, a failed actress (played by Veronica Lake) buys him breakfast.

Sullivan learns that the girl has only been taking extra work and has not done so well in Hollywood.  So, he wants to help her.  He pretends that he knows a successful director named Sullivan and borrows his car and tells her that he can stay at the director’s home for several weeks and he’ll fly her back home.  But when the two are busted by police, Sullivan is forced to reveal that he is not homeless or a washed up director, he is actually a successful director dressing up as a tramp in order to do research for his upcoming film.

Upset by Sullivan lying to her, she tells him that if he is going to disguise himself as a homeless person to research this role, she is going to join him.  And thus begins, Sullivan’s travels along with the girl to learn how it is to be homeless in America during these harsh times.

 


VIDEO:

“Sullivan’s Travels – The Criterion Collection #118″ is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio). This is the definitive version of “Sullivan’s Travels” to date.  The picture quality surpasses the original DVD release in clarity and detail.  White and grays are well-contrasted, black levels are nice and deep and the film looks absolutely magnificent as I did not see any major damage, scratches or dust.  The mild flickering from the original DVD is not as evident in the Blu-ray release.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine film scanner from a 35 mm nitrate fine-grain at Universal Studios in Universal City, California, where the film was also restored.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Sullivan’s Travels – The Criterion Collection #118″ is presented in English LPCM 1.0 monaural.  Dialogue is clear with no signs of hiss or popping.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monoraul soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic soundtrack made from the original 35 mm soundtrack negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX4.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sullivan’s Travels – THE CRITERION COLLECTION #118″ comes with the following special features:

  • Audio commentary by filmmakers Noah Baumbach, Kenneth Bowser and actors Christopher Guest and Michael McKean – An enjoyable commentary by the four who discuss the film.  Very good insight on Preston Sturges by Kenneth Bowser.  Note: All four were not in the studio watching the film at the same time for the commentary.
  • Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer – (1:15:10) A 76-minute documentary made by Kenneth Bowser for PBS’s “American Masters” series.  A very well-done documentary on Preston Sturges from his earlier family life to being blackballed by the industry and losing the business he started and losing a lot of his money.
  • Sandy Sturges – (13:37) An interview with Preston Sturges’ widow Sandy Sturges in 2001.  Who also reveals of why things may have gone sour between Howard Hughes and Preston Sturges.
  • Ants in Your Plants of 1941 – (17:20) A video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns features director Bill forsyth and was produced by the Criterion Collection in 2014.
  • Sturges Talks to Hedda Hopper – A four minute radio interview from 1951 for Heda Hopper’s Hollywood.  Sturges talks about the importance of television and film.
  • Preston Sturges Recites “If I Were King” – A recital written by Justin Huntly McCarthy used for McCArthy’s play and was the basis for the screenplay “If I Were King” (1938).
  • Sturges Sings “My Love” – A Homemade recording of Sturges singing “My Love” from 1938.

EXTRAS:

“Sullivan’s Travels – The Criterion Collection #118″ comes with a five-page insert with the essay “Self-Portrait in a Fun-House Mirror” by Stuart Klawans.


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I have to admit that when I first watched “Sullivan’s Travels”, I was a bit surprised.  I was expecting a screwball comedy and at first, the film was very comedy-driven until you get to the final half hour and see how serious the film gets and then it transitions back to a comedy film once again.

But there are scenes that made me happy to see.  First, the chemistry between Joeal McCrea and Veronica Lake was just magnificent.  To see how Sturges avoided any problems by the censors but yet still making sure he was compliant with the Hays code was quite interesting.  Where depiction of a couple sleeping together was typically not possible (thus the two beds were separated during the Golden Era) but then sidestepping the code by having the two sleep together in other scenes without the use of a bedroom. But to watch these two together on screen and have so much fun made this film quite enjoyable.  Veronica Lake looks absolutely stunning in this film.

Another scene that I absolute enjoyed was how it depicted the Southern church and its Black parishioners.  With Blacks typically shown stereotypically in roles that made fun of their characters, we see both black and white people watching a film together and both races are enjoying the film together.  In fact, the NAACP secretary Walter White even wrote a letter to Sturges congratulating him in creating a film and showcasing Blacks decent treatment.  I was definitely a moving scene.

Although the film received rave reviews, within the 70+ years after the film’s release in theaters, many critics are discovering how important and significant this film is and also how this film ranks up there among Sturges’s other popular films

As mentioned earlier, this is the definitive version of “Sullivan’s Travels” to date.  I have various DVD versions but to see the clarity with this Blu-ray release, I was quite happy to watch this film digitally restored in HD!  Definitely an improvement from the original Criterion Collection DVD.

It’s one thing to give the film credit but I also give credit to the Criterion Collection for including the documentary “The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer”.  I had no idea how much turmoil Sturges had to face after the 1940’s.  For a man who’s films are so highly regarded, it’s a shame that the early Hollywood system really turned their backs on him and literally blackballed him from ever writing, directing or producing another film during the 1950’s.  Kenneth Bowser does a remarkable job in featuring the career of Preston Sturges and interviews with those close to him.

Also included on the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release is the addition of the “Ants in Your Plants of 1941″ video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns and featuring director Bill Forsyth.  While the audio portions remain, the only thing from the original DVD not included on the Blu-ray release are storyboards, blueprints and stills.  Plus you get an essay featured on the 5-page insert.

Overall, “Sullivan’s Travels” is an American classic and Preston Sturges at his best.  But the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of “Sullivan’s Travels” also celebrates the life of this filmmaker but also showing us that even for great successes, when their luck has ran out, things don’t work out as great as you once have hoped.

The definitive release of this Hollywood classic, “Sullivan’s Travels” on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

 

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

April 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Killers” is quite possibly the most disturbing, most f’d up film I have watched in a long time.  If you are looking for a glimmer of hope and the happiest of endings, then this film is not for you.  Otherwise, if you enjoy psychological thrillers that are provocative and immoral, then “Killers” is a film that may interest you.

Images courtesy of © 2013 Nikkatsu and Guerilla Merah Films. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Killers

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 138 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese, Indonesian and English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: April 7, 2015


Directed by Kimo Stamboel, Timo Thahjanto

Original Story by Takuji Ushiyama

Written by Tauji Ushiyama and Timo Tjahnto

Story and Screenplay by Timo Tjahjanto

Produced by Yoshinori Chiba, Shinjiro Nishimura, Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto, Takuji Ushiyama

Executive Producer Rangga Maya Barack-Evans, Gareth Evans, Damien Lim, Aoura Lovenson Chandra, Daniel Mananta, Stephen Odang, Bernhard Subiakto, Akifumi Sugihara, Andrew Sulaiman

Music by Aria Prayogi

Cinematography by Gunnar Nimpuno


Starring:

Kazuki Kitamura as Nomura

Oka Antara as Bayu

Rin Takanashi as Hisae

Luna Maya as Dina Aditya

Ray Sahetapy as Dharma

Ersya Aurelia as Elly

Tensui Sakai as Souichi

Epy Kusnandar as Robert

Mei Kurokawa as Midori

Tara Basro as Dewi


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A series of horrific murders have just gone viral, posted anonymously by the handsome and seductive Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) with a taste for torture. Thousands of miles away, disgraced journalist Bayu (Oka Antarra) can’t stop watching and in a reckless moment discovers he, too, can kill. One man in Tokyo. One in Jakarta. A serial killer and a vigilante. As the posts multiply and the body count rises, a bizarre and psychotic rivalry begins and the face-to-face showdown that s coming will paint the city in blood.


From the Mo Brothers (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto) comes their 2014 Japanese-Indonesian psychological thriller titled “Killers”.

The first film collaboration for a thriller film between Japan and Indonesia, the film was co-written by Takuji Ushiyama and the Timo Tjahjanto.

The film was shown as Sundance Film Festival 2014 and will be released in April 2015 on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

“Killers” begins with a man and woman having sex, the next thing you see is the woman running into the woods being chased by someone.

She is caught, her head put into a plastic bag and she is handcuffed in a room with a man wearing a mask over his head.  He turns on cameras and immediately pulls out weapons and bludgeons the woman.

The man is Nomura Shohei (portrayed by Kazuki Kitamura), a young, successful Japanese executive in Tokyo who has a dark side.  He likes to wear a mask and torture his female victims on video and uploads them on the Internet for anyone to see.

One man who loves to watch them is an Indonesian journalist named Bayu Aditya (portrayed by Oka Antara), who is working on a story about a politician named Dharma.  Unfortunately, pursuing Dharma has led to an end to his marriage and his career.  The only thing that he treasures most is his remaining bond with his daughter.

As Bayu researches why this man posts videos of his killings and why he becomes infatuated with the killings, one day, he is robbed in a taxi and nearly murdered by the perpetrators, but by luck, he manages to survive after killing them.  But instead of running away, Bayu video tapes the dead mean and posts it on the Internet.

This leads to Nomura Shohei contacting Bayu and trying to bring out the serial killer within him.  But the difference is that instead of murdering women, Bayu wants revenge on Dharma and his family.

But what happens when Bayu’s life becomes more complicated as their psychological bond begins to grow?


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VIDEO:

“Killers” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Picture quality for the film is very good as close-ups show plenty of detail.   Film looks magnificent in HD, with no signs of major artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Killers” is presented in Indonesian, Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  All languages are presented throughout the film and subtitles are in English.  The film is primarily dialogue-driven, with some parts of the film utilizing the surround channels for ambiance.  But for the most part, the film is front and center-channel driven.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Killers” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Killers” comes with a slipcover.


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After I finished watching Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto’s “Killers”, I think back to all the dark, fucked up Japanese dramas and films I have watched over the years.

The truth is “Killers” is no doubt one of the most fucked up films that I have seen in a very long time.  Definitely not a vibrant film…possibly the most immoral, disturbing, dark film depraved of any human compassion but with an ending so satisfying that you can’t help but ask yourself, how interesting this film was.

But first, let me say that if you are a person who wants to see hope, happiness and justice in a film about serial killers, “Killers” is not a film to expect any of that.

This is a film about a Japanese serial killer named Shohei who loves killing his female victims, possibly loves eating them and is the most sick individual you would see in a film.

In a twist, it brings out the killing ways of Bayu, an Indonesian journalist who loses everything.  He becomes infatuated with Shohei’s videos, but not in a sadistic way but more of a journalistic way of how can this man do such things and be OK with it.

Bu when Shohei is able to track Bayu’s IP address and both start to communicate with each other online, suffice to say, Shohei brings out the darkness within Bayu.

But unlike Shohei who targets helpless female individuals, Bayu wants revenge on the corrupted politician and those around him that led to him losing his family and career.

While this film sounds like there is an ounce of humanity that can be seen in this film, the truth is that this film is truly dark and any signs of compassion towards humanity is not evident.  In fact, maybe you will see it a few times from Bayu but any hope for potential victims is dashed.  You are literally depraved of any hope and are gifted by savage and disturbing scenes instead.

The Blu-ray release of “Killers” is a barebones release with no special features but the film itself.  The picture quality is great and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue.

Overall, “Killers” is quite possibly the most disturbing, most f’d up film I have watched in a long time.  If you are looking for a glimmer of hope and the happiest of endings, then this film is not for you.  Otherwise, if you enjoy psychological thrillers that are provocative and immoral, then “Killers” is a film that may interest you.

 

Into the Woods (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Into the Woods” is a film that has a lot going for it.  A strong ensemble cast, the original creators of the musical and a skilled director behind the film and wonderful music galore.  Fantastic costume design and makeup.  You would think the movie would be magnificent but unfortunately its short coming is its character development and story which feels rushed.   “Into the Woods” is a film with so much potential to be something great unfortunately is weakened by its rushed plot.

Images courtesy of © 2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Into the Woods

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 125 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG

Release Date: March 3, 2015


Directed by Rob Marshall

Screenplay by James Lapine

Musical by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim

Produced by John DeLuca, Rob Marshall, Callum McDougall, Marc Platt

Co-Producer: Angus More Gordon, Michael Zimmer

Music by Stephen Sondheim

Cinematography by Dion Beebe

Edited by Wyatt Smith

Casting by Tiffany Little Canfield, Francine Maisler, Bernard Telsey

Production Design by Dennis Gassner

Art Direction by Andrew Bennett, Ben Collins, Chris Lowe, Mary Mackenzie

Set Decoration by Anna Pinnock

Costume Design by Colleen Atwood


Starring:

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella

Daniel Huttlestone as Jack

James Corden as Baker

Emily Blunt as Baker’s Wife

Christine Baranski as Stepmother

Tammy Blanchard as Florinda

Lucy Punch as Lucinda

Tracey Ullman as Jack’s Mother

Lila Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood

Meryl Streep as Witch

Simon Russell Beale as Baker’s Father

Joanna Riding as Cinderella’s Mother

Johnny Depp as Wolf

Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel’s Prince

Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel

Annette Crosbie as Granny

Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince

Richard Glover as Steward

Frances de la Tour as Giant


From the director of CHICAGO and the producer of WICKED comes a modern twist on the beloved fairy tales you thought you knew. Meryl Streep stars in this epic musical saga about daring to venture INTO THE WOODS. Iconic characters, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, find their fates intertwined with a humble baker and his wife, whose longing to have a child sends them on a quest to reverse a witch’s (Streep) curse. With an all-star cast, this spellbinding adventure is everything you could ever wish for!


In 1986, the musical “Into the Woods” based on James Lapine’s book and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim made its debut and would premiere on Broadway a year later.

The winner of several Tony Awards and continuing on stage via several revivals, “Into the Woods” would receive an American fantasy musical drama film adaptation courtesy of Disney and would be directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, “Memoirs of a Geisha”) and would feature a collaboration with original musical creators James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim.

The film would feature an ensemble cast which includes Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Daniel Huttlestone, Lila Crawford, Christine Baranski, Billy Magnussen, to name a few.

While the creators knew that the musical couldn’t be a perfect adaptation and the music would need to be tweaked for the film version, the film’s story remains the same as it is inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales of “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Cinderella”, “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Rapunzel”.

Created with a budget of $50 million, “Into the Woods”, which was released on Christmas Day 2014, would go on to earn over $204 million in the box office worldwide.

And now “Into the Woods” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Disney on April 2nd.

“Into the Woods” begins with a baker (portrayed by James Corden) and his wife (portrayed by Emily Blunt) wishing for a child, but due to a curse put onto the family by a witch (portrayed by Meryl Streep), because of the baker’s father stealing her prized vegetables, including magic beans which she was to protect or else become ugly if the beans were to leave her possession.

And because she was turned into an ugly witch, she put a curse on the baker’s family but gives the baker and his wife a chance to break the curse by looking for items to create a potion: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold.  But they must do the task as she is not allowed to touch any of the subjects.

Meanwhile, young Jack (portrayed by Daniel Huttlestone) is told by her mother (portrayed by Tracy Ullman) to sell their beloved cow Milky in order to make money to survive as they are running out of food.  Jack ends up running into the baker who offers him magical beans for the cow.  Jack is willing to sell the cow if he can buy her back with gold coins and thus, they make a deal.

When Jack’s mom finds out what Jack ended up doing, she is upset and throws the magic beans outside of their home.  And that night, a giant beanstalk grows towards the skies.

At another location, Red Riding Hood (portrayed by Lilla Crawford) goes to visit her grandmother’s house, but watching her every move is the wolf (portrayed by Johnny Depp).  Meanwhile, the baker and his wife need to get Red Riding Hood’s cape, but can they?

Living in another area is Cinderella (portrayed by Anna Kendrick) who is mistreated by her stepmother (portrayed by Christine Baranski) and her stepsisters.  But when she comes across magical shoes, she becomes as beautiful as a princess and attracts Prince Charming (portrayed by Chris Pine).  But before she reverts back to her original self, she runs back home and the baker’s wife sees her gold slippers which she needs to get.

As for the ugly witch, we learn that she is the mother of her adopted daughter Rapunzel (portrayed by Mackenzie Mauzy), who was the original child belonging to the Baker’s parents, but due to the theft, the witch took their daughter for the misdeed.

And because of Rapunzel’s growing blonde hair, she is locked inside the tower, where she is often visited by another prince (portrayed by Billy Magnussen).  Will Rapunzel ever be released from the tower?

But will the Baker and his wife acquire the ingredients needed in order to have a child?


VIDEO:

“Into the Woods” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio).  If there is one thing that I expect from a Disney Blu-ray, I expect wonderful picture quality and “Into the Woods” does not disappoint.  Shot in the woods, there is wonderful picture quality when it comes to costume design, makeup (from the witch’s hair, Rapunzel’s hair, the beanstalk, etc.) but capturing the environment and the importance of the woods, from darkness, subtle light, full light and of course, the overall lighting via special effects.   Skin tones look natural, detail of closeups are fantastic and I saw no signs of artifacts, banding or noise.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Into the Woods” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks. As one can expect from a musical, this lossless soundtrack is fantastic.  Crystal clear dialogue and music, good balance of LFE during the more action-driven sequences and great utilization of the surround and rear surround channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Into the Woods” comes with the following special features:

  • Streep Sings Sondheim: “She’ll Be Back” – (4:49) Director Rob Marshall discusses the cut scene featuring Meryl Streep singing “She’ll Be Back” and discussing why the song was cut.
  • There’s Something About the Woods – (13:24) The cast and crew talk about “Into the Woods” and their characters.
  • The Cast as Good as Gold – (10:11) Director Rob Marshall an cast discuss the casting process, rehearsals and cast chemistry.
  • Deeper Into the Woods – A four-part documentary featuring “From Stage to Screen” (8:33), “The Magic of the Woods” (7:24), “Designing the Woods” (7:08) and “The Costumes of the Woods” (6:54).
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director/producer Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca.
  • Music & Lyrics – Featuring the opportunity to watch the film with onscreen lyrics or viewing songs individually.  Songs featured are: “Prologue: Into the Woods,” “Hello, Little Girl,” “I Know Things Now,” “A Very Nice Prince,” “Giants in the Sky,” “Agony,” “It Takes Two,” “Stay with Me,” “On the Steps of the Palace,” “Witch’s Lament,” “Any Moment,” “Moments in the Woods,” “Your Fault,” “Last Midnight,” “No One is Alone,” “You Are Not Alone/Children Will Listen,” and “Finale.”
  • Trailers and Previews

EXTRAS:

“Into the Woods” comes with a slipcover and a Digital HD code for DisneyMovieRewards.com.


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There was no doubt that Rob Marshall, James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim faced incredible odds of adapting “Into the Woods” to a fantasy musical film.

With the success of the musical, the fact that the adaptation for film took a long time goes to show that many people did not know how to approach the film.

Considering you have those involved with the musical involved with the film, you would think that somehow the magic would carryover but the truth is, a lot of adaptations from a musical is always going to receive criticism.

But “Into the Woods” has received plenty of it because of how the characters are portrayed.

I have seen the word “unsympathetic” used to described the characters and the fact is, the story starts out strong.  The performance by Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp are wonderful in terms of performance and even pulling off their musical numbers but the problem lies within the characters.  Things go too quickly and because of time, you are shifting from characters and different storylines that the film doesn’t give a chance to spend anytime with the characters enough for one to care.

There are actions by characters that are quite dumfounding, does the film want you to care about the characters at the end or does the film make you want to feel that humans are entirely vain.  Even the dialogue rubs me the wrong way, certain actions rub me the wrong way.

At first, I thought the baker and his wife wold be the redeeming characters for the film but instead, any sympathy for them is squandered.  What about the importance of Rapunzel, none whatsoever.  So much is spent on other characters that Rapunzel is like watching a quick cameo of a superstar talent that leaves within seconds.  The character of Rapunzel is literally kicked to the curb.  Rapunzel is very important to the story in the musical stage version…not so much in the film.

Which leaves us to the bratty Jack and Red Riding Hood…bickering youngsters which doesn’t surprise me one bit.  But they don’t grow on you, they annoy you.

And while I love Anna Kendrick on film, the dialogue that is given to Cinderella is also as surprising as one dialogue has her saying “I love cleaning”… Great!  Instead of making Cinderella a strong, independent character, we are given a subservient version of her in the film.

I have no problem with tweaks from musical to film, I do have problem with lack of creativity to make things much more interesting and making audiences want to care for the characters through actions that make you sympathetic and make you want to root for them, to support them.  But everything seems so rushed and while the musical soundtrack does stand out, the film rides on the coattail of its Broadway predecessor.  Stuck in its shadow of being inferior despite a wonderful ensemble cast.

I do give Sondheim and Lapine credit for bringing their music, making tweaks to the story and music for the big screen but perhaps an adaptation of this musical was too difficult that what resonates strongly with many viewers who are less musically inclined are characters that turn people off.  There should be a balance of music and storytelling and “Into the Woods” was more of teh former.

The costume and makeup design are well-done, and while one wishes there were better or even more special effects in the film, I’m not sure if special effects could have made the film any better.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality and the lossless audio for “Into the Woods” is magnificent.   Detail is incredible, while lossless audio takes advantage of the surround channels and LFE.  The Blu-ray features a good amount of special features including audio commentary and the challenges of making “Into the Woods” into a film.  There is no doubt that the Blu-ray for “Into the Woods” looks and sounds great, it’s just that the movie is not.

Overall, “Into the Woods” is a film that has a lot going for it.  A strong ensemble cast, the original creators of the musical and a skilled director behind the film and wonderful music galore.  Fantastic costume design and makeup.  You would think the movie would be magnificent but unfortunately its short coming is its character development and story which feels rushed.

“Into the Woods” is a film with so much potential to be something great unfortunately is weakened by its rushed plot.

The Breakfast Club – 30th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The Breakfast Club” will always be regarded as one of the best high school films ever made and it’s wonderful that the film has received digital remastering and was restored in 4K for its 30th Anniversary.  For those who love the film, for those who have heard about the film and for those who never owned the Blu-ray release, “The Breakfast Club -30th Anniversary Edition” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1985 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Breakfast Club – 30th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1985

DURATION: 1 Hour, 37 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English, French, German, Castilian Spanish, L.A. Spanish, Italian, Japanese DTS-HD Mono, Subtitles: English, French European, French Canadian, Italian, German, Castilian Spanish, LA Spanish, Japanese, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi, Icelandic

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: R

Release Date: March 10, 2015


Directed by John Hughes

Written by John Hughes

Produced by John Hughes, Ned Tanen

Co-Producer: Michael Manning

Executive Producer: Gil Friesen, Andrew Meyer

Music by Keith Forsey

Cinematography by Thomas Del Ruth

Edited by Dede Allen

Casting by Jackie Burch

Production Design by John W. Corso

Set Direction by Jennifer Polito

Costume Design by Marilyn Vance


Starring:

Emilio Estevez as Andrew Clark

Paul Gleason as Richard Vernon

Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Johnson

John Kapelos as Carl

Judd Nelson as John Bender

Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish

Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds


From writer/director John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, Weird Science), The Breakfast Club is an iconic portrait of 1980s American high school life. When Saturday detention started, they were simply the Jock, the Princess, the Brain, the Criminal and the Basket Case, but by that afternoon they had become closer than any of them could have imagined. Featuring an all-star ’80s cast including Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy, this warm-hearted coming-of-age comedy helped define an entire generation!


When it comes to ’80s films, John Hughes (“Home Alone”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Weird Science”) was no doubt one of the most successful American writers and directors of that decade.

Known earlier in his career for writing “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “Mr. Mom”, Hughes big break was in 1984 in which he wrote and also make his directorial debut with “Sixteen Candles” which was made for $6.5 million and would earn $23.6 million in the box office.

Hughes next film, “The Breakfast Club” which was released back in 1985, would jumpstart the age of the “Brat Pack”, a group of young actors who appeared in coming-of-age films of the ’80s which would include Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.

The film was an amazing success as “The Breakfast Club” which was budgeted at $1 million would go on to earn $51.5 million in the box office.

The film would be considered one of the greatest high school films of all time and to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film, the film would receive a digital remaster and will be screened in 430 theaters from March 26-31, 2015 and the digital remaster will be released on Blu-ray in March 2015 courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

“The Breakfast Club” takes place on March 24, 1984 and five students report to all-day detention at 7:00 a.m. at Shermer High School.

The students include a pampered teen named Claire Standish (portrayed by Molly Ringwald), the state champion wrestler Andrew Clarke (portrayed by Emilio Estevez), the very smart Brian Johnson (portrayed by Anthony Michael Hall), the outcast Allison Reynolds (portrayed by Ally Sheedy) and the rebellious John Bender (portrayed by Emilio Estevez).

The five students gathered in a high school library where they are forced by assistant principal, Richard Vernon (portrayed by Paul Gleason) to sit in their seats, to not speak to anyone, to not move, nor sleep for the next eight hours and fifty-four minutes.

He assigns each student a 1,000 word essay in which the five must write about “who you think you are”.

But as the assistant principal leaves the room, immediately, John Bender starts to antagonize all the other students by teasing Brian and Andrew and teasing Claire.

But as the five students argue with one another, talk about their own personal differences, they eventually begin to get to know each other and reveal their own personal secrets with one another.

How will this all-day detention go for each of the five students?


VIDEO:

“The Breakfast Club – 30th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). It’s important to note that “The Breakfast Club” has been released every year on Blu-ray since 2010.  And for those who purchased the Blu-ray previously may want to know, should I purchase it again?

That depends on the individual.  One of the problems of the original 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release is that the film had received digital noise reduction thus, had less grain and lacked the clarity.

With this 2015 4K version that was digitally remastered and fully restored from high resolution 35 mm original film elements and features much better detail and clarity.  Skin tones look much more natural than previous releases but the difference may be marginal for some.    Also, the white specks that were seen in the original Blu-ray release is still there.

But is it better, I feel it is much better that diehard fans will definitely want to get this version.  But for those who owned the previous Blu-ray releases, is it a huge difference from the previous releases?  Not really but it’s no doubt an improvement.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Breakfast Club – 30th Anniversary Edition”is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and in English, French, German, Castilian Spanish, L.A. Spanish, Italian, Japanese DTS-HD Mono. Dialogue and music

Subtitles are in English, French European, French Canadian, Italian, German, Castilian Spanish, LA Spanish, Japanese, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi and Icelandic.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Breakfast Club – 30th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Accepting the Facts: The Breakfast Club Trivia Track  – Watch the film with a trivia track.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Judd Nelson and Anthony Michael Hall.
  • Sincerely Yours – (51:25) A featurette on the legacy of “The Breakfast Club”.
  • The Most Convenient Definitions: The Origins of the Brat Pack – (5:30) A featurette on where the term “Brat Pack” originated.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:25) The original theatrical trailer for “The Breakfast Club”.

EXTRAS:

“The Breakfast Club – 30th Anniversary Edition” comes with a slipcover and a Digital HD UltraViolet code, so you can watch the film on your computer, tablet or smartphone.


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I can remember “The Breakfast Club” very well.  Watching the film with my friend and his older sister and then weeks and months later, listening to the soundtrack and the song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.

As a teenager, this film captivated me because anyone attending an American high school knows about the various circle of friends, being stereotyped and often segregated from other types of circles (cliques).  “The Breakfast Club” was a film that talked to many young teenagers that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

The film explored the pressures on the American teenager (granted, back then, we often came home to “afterschool specials”) with efficacy. Especially the pressures of being or not being a virgin.  But also how the film focuses on stereotypes but then seeing how the characters break the barriers of stereotypes and discovering how similar they are than different.

So, the film is still relevant even 30 years later.  And many modern shows and films have paid tribute to “The Breakfast Club” because of its message and relevancy of the challenges of being a teenager.

Of course, 1985 was the year that defined “The Brat Pack”.  “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” were films that captivated America.  And part of the allure of “The Breakfast Club” was its cast.  The guys were enamored with Molly Ringwald, the girls wanted to dress like her.

Anthony Michael Hall was the geek that many could relate to (way back when geeks were looked as uncool) thanks to films such as “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, “Sixteen Candles”, “Weird Science”.

And of course, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson would go on to also star in “St. Elmo’s Fire” and along with Ringwald and Hall, became among America’s popular young talents at the time.

And of course, John Hughes, who had to fight to direct this film, will be remembered for his ’80s and early ’90s films but “The Breakfast Club” is no doubt one the most beloved films which he directed in his oeuvre.

As for the Blu-ray release, “The Breakfast Club – 30th Anniversary Edition” is a welcome as remastered and fully restored from high resolution 35 mm original film elements.  But for those who have owned either of the previous Blu-ray releases that have been re-released almost yearly since 2010, the 2015 release is much better in clarity and detail.  But should one sell or trade-off their previous Blu-ray release?  Probably not, unless you are a die-hard fan and want a version that is slightly improved.

There are no new significant special features included with this Blu-ray release.  The audio commentary, the two featurettes and theatrical trailer are still included but nothing new but a trivia track that is added when you watch the film.

But I do know that many people will want to own this film for the improvement in picture quality plus the fact that it comes with an UltraViolet code.

Overall, “The Breakfast Club” will always be regarded as one of the best high school films ever made and it’s wonderful that the film has received digital remastering and was restored in 4K for its 30th Anniversary.  For those who love the film, for those who have heard about the film and for those who never owned the Blu-ray release, “The Breakfast Club -30th Anniversary Edition” is highly recommended!

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

March 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

foxcatcher

“Foxcatcher” is a gripping film that felt real and you thank the director for his meticulous research but also the actors who pulled off their characters magnificently. This is no doubt a personal film for filmmaker Bennett Miller but this is no doubt a tragic, sad and dark film that deserves every award nomination and wins that it received. “Foxcatcher” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Fair Hill, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Foxcatcher

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 134 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Some Drug Use and a Scene of Violence)

Release Date: March 3, 2015


Directed by Bennett Miller

Written by E. Max Frue, Dan Futterman

Produced by Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik, Bennet Miller

Co-Producer: Scott Robertson

Associate Producer: Hank Bedford, Kristin Gore, Mark Schultz

Executive Producer: Mark Bakshi, Chelsea Barnard, Michael Coleman, John P. Giura, Tom Heller, Ron Schmidt

Music by Rob Simonsen

Cinematography by Greig Fraser

Edited by Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy, Conor O’Neill

Casting by Jeanne McCarthy

Production Design by Jess Gonchor

Art Direction by Brad Ricker

Set Decoration by Kathy Lucas

Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone


Starring:

Steve Carell as John du Pont

Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz

Mark Ruffalo as David Schultz

Sienna Miller as Nancy Schultz

Vanessa Redgrave as Jean du Pont

Anthony Michael Hall as Jack

Guy Boyd as Henry Beck

Brett Rice as Fred Cole

Jackson Frazer as Alexander Schultz

Samare Lee as Danielle Schultz

Francis J. Murphy III as Wayne Kendall


Based on true events, “Foxcatcher” tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire (Steve Carell) and two champion wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo). Directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (2005, Best Director, “Capote”) it is a rich and moving story of brotherly love, misguided loyalty, and the corruption and emotional bankruptcy that can accompany great power and wealth.

Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup


It was the true story that shocked the nation.

John du Pont, heir to the Du Pont family fortune, founder of the wrestling facility at Foxcatcher Farm, founder of the Delaware Museum of Natural History and contributed to Villanova University and other institutions would also become known as a convicted murderer.

Back in 1996, John du Pont would do the unthinkable by shooting Olympic champion freestyle wrestler, Dave Schultz.  Sentenced to prison for 13 to 30 years, du Pont died in 2010 and now the story of what led to that fateful day would be featured in the 2014 film “Foxcatcher” directed by Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”, “Capote”, “The Cruise”) and co-written by E. Max Frye (“Where the Money Is”, “Something Wild”) and Dan Futterman (“The birdcage”, “Judging Amy”, “A Mighty Heart”).

The film would star Steve Carell (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “The Office”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”), Channing Tatum (“21 Jump Street”, “White House Down”, “Magic Mike”), Mark Ruffalo (“The Avengers”, “Shutter Island”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), Sienna Miller (“Stardust”, “G.I. Joe”, “Casanova”) and Vanessa Redgrave  (“Howards End”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Blow-Up”).

“Foxcatcher” would receive critical acclaim worldwide and would receive five Academy Award nominations for “Best Director”, “Best Actor”, “Best Supporting Actor”, Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Makeup and Hairstyling”.

And now “Foxcatcher” will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film revolves around Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz (portrayed by Channing Tatum) speaking to a group of elementary school kids in place of his older brother, Dave (portrayed by Mark Ruffalo).

The film begins with both Olympic gold-medal winning wrestlers and brothers going at it in a match.  Dave ends up beating his brother but for Mark, it gets to him that he can’t leave his brother’s shadow.

But one day, he is contacted by the wealthy John E. du Pont (portrayed by Steve Carell), the heir to the E.I. du Pont family fortune.  John offers Mark a chance to train as his private wrestling training facility, Foxcatcher and invites him to become part of Team Foxcatcher, to train for the World Championships while being paid for it.

For Mark, this is a win-win deal and he accepts the offer.  But du Pont also wants Mark to enlist his brother Dave, but Dave is not really interested because he wants to be with his wife Nancy (portrayed by Sienna Miller) and two children.

But Mark moves to Pennsylvania and becomes part of Team Foxcatcher and wins a gold medal at the World Wrestling Championships.  And from this point, the two develop a close friendship.

While Mark comes to respect John for his wealth, du Pont begins to introduce Mark to cocaine and the two become friends.  But du Pont reveals to Mark that he had one true friend but when he turned 16, his mother Jean (portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave), paid a boy to act as his friend.  And his mother sees wrestling as a “low sport” but for John du Pont, he enjoys wrestling and takes part in it.

But as Mark and his buddies watch mixed martial arts on television and take a morning off from training, this angers du Pont who verbally and physically abuses Mark.  And to Mark’s surprise, John tells him that he will enlist Dave by any means necessary.

Eventually Dave decides to move his family to Pennsylvania to join Foxcatcher.  But Dave realizes that something has happened to Mark and he is training alone.  Mark starts to distance himself from John du Pont and even his brother.

But Dave becomes worried after he sees his brother getting worse by the minute.  What has happened to Mark and will both brothers success at Team Foxcatcher?


VIDEO:

“Foxcatcher” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  While the film looks quite soft, it does aid to the somber mood of the film.  The closeups are quite detailed, especially showing the spots on du Pont’s face.  There is a good amount of grain throughout the film.

For the most part, the picture quality of “Foxcatcher” is very good but it’s not a vibrant looking film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Foxcatcher” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  The film features crystal clear dialogue and music but where the film dos show its lossless soundtrack are during the wrestling competitions with crowds screaming and ambiance heard throughout the surround channels.  But it’s also a film that utilizes sound and lack of sound with efficacy.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Foxcatcher” comes with the following special features:

  • The Story of Foxcatcher – (16:21) Director Bennett Miller, the cast and crew discuss the making of “Foxcatcher”.
  • Deleted Scenes – (5:09) Featuring two deleted scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:20) The original theatrical trailer for “Foxcatcher”.

EXTRAS

“Foxcatcher” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code to instantly stream or download the film in Digital HD for TV, computers, tablet or smartphones.


The story of John du Pont and the murder of David Schultz was one of the biggest news stories in America back in 1996.

How could a man who literally had it all, murder an innocent man?  David Schultz was one of America’s greatest wrestlers, greatest coaches and no doubt would be destined to coach the American Olympic team.

But even to this day, no one knows why John du Pont did what he did.  But in retrospect, there was no doubt that du Pont was mentally ill and he was getting worse and despite the wrestlers seeing his erratic and odd behavior, including Mark and David Schultz, there are a lot of questions of “what if?” but there is no doubt that the tragedy of David Schultz and the story of “Foxcatcher” was rather moody but a wonderfully performed film by Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.

Carrel literally transformed himself to be John du Pont and there is no doubt that he pulled it off with efficacy and is worthy of all award nominations that he received.  The character of du Pont was no doubt a creepy character and while I’m not sure how close the real du Pont and Carell’s character was during that last year, I’m surprised many of the wrestler stayed.

To be fair, I know many wrestlers stayed because they were being paid a lot of money but I do know that in reality, when du Pont pointed a gun at Foxcatcher wrestler Dan Chaid, it was a red flag.  But unfortunately it was a time when people didn’t know how to react with one with a mental illness.

But I do have to give director Bennett Miller a high five for creating this film.

From receiving a packet of newspaper clippings from a stranger who suggested to him of making the film, Bennett was interested in making the film but first had to get the blessings of the Schultz family before creating the film.

Miller went as far as working with David Schultz’ wife Nancy and Mark Schultz for the smallest details that would be incorporated into the film, from how Mark held a coffee cup to even supplying Mark Ruffalo, David’s actual glasses.  Nancy also worked with actress Sienna Miller in terms of giving her details of what happened on the moment of the murder.

And despite the pain of the tragic death of her husband, in interviews, Nancy Schultz had said the film proved to be therapeutic for her.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Foxcatcher” is not a vibrant film, in fact it looks quite moody and depressing due to its softness… but the colors were no doubt intentional.  The lossless soundtrack was much better with its ambiance, especially during competitions.  As for special features, you get two deleted scenes and a 16-minute featurette, but would have been great if an audio commentary was included.

With that being said, “Foxcatcher” is a gripping film that felt real and you thank the director for his meticulous research but also the actors who pulled off their characters magnificently.  This is no doubt a personal film for filmmaker Bennett Miller but this is no doubt a tragic, sad and dark film that deserves every award nomination and wins that it received.

“Foxcatcher” is highly recommended!

 

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Another magnificent animated film in the Tinker Bell film series, “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” is a delightful and heartwarming story which I definitely recommend for the whole family!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast

DURATION: 76 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences)

Release Date: March 9, 2015


Directed by Steve Loter

Story by Steve Loter and Tom Rogers

Screenplay by Tom Rogers, Robert Schooley, Mark McCorkle, Kate Kondell

Produced by Makul Wigert

Executive Producer John Lasseter

Supervising Producer: Kristin Dornig

Music by Joe McNeely

Edited by Margaret Hou

Casting by Jason Henkel


Featuring the voices of:

Ginnifer Goodwin as Fawn

Mae Whitman as Tinker Bell

Rosario Dawson as Nyx

Lucy Liu as Silvermist

Pamela Adlon as Vidia

Raven-Symone as Iridessa

Megan Hilty as Rosetta

Danai Gurira as Fury

Chloe Bennet as Chase

Thomas Lennon as Scribble

Angelica Huston as Queen Clarion

Grey Griffin as Narrator

Kari Wahlgren as Robin


Return to Pixie Hollow for a heartwarming adventure, Disney’s TINKER BELL AND THE LEGEND OF THE NEVER BEAST. An ancient myth of a massive creature sparks the curiosity of Tinker Bell and her good friend Fawn, an animal fairy who’s not afraid to break the rules to help an animal in need. But this creature is not welcome in Pixie Hollow — and the scout fairies are determined to capture the mysterious beast, who they fear will destroy their home. Fawn must convince her fairy friends to risk everything to rescue the NeverBeast. This thrilling action-adventure roars to life with never-before-seen bonus extras on Disney Blu-ray and DVD.


Tinker Bell, a fictional character that was developed back in 1904 by J.M. Barrie and later on in 1911 in the novel “Peter and Wendy” is best known for her appearance in the 1953 Walt Disney film “Peter Pan”.

The character is quite iconic for Disney, as she is quite literally the unofficial mascot for the Walt Disney Company and can be seen in many of their commercials and in 2008, the character received her first animated film which was direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray.

After the success of the first “Tinker Bell” film in 2008, several films have been created in the series including “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” (2009), “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue” (2010), “Tinker Bell – Secret of the Wings” (2012), “The Pirate Fairy” (2014) and the latest, sixth film titled “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast”.

The film features the return of Mae Whitman, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symone, Megan Hilty, Pamela Adlon and Anjelica Huston reprising their roles, but also features the addition of Ginnifer Goodwin as the main character Fawn,Rosario Dawson as Nyx and Danai Gurira as the voice of Fury.

“Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” introduces us to the animal fairy Fawn.  Often doing things on her own of wanting to befriend and take care of animals, despite them being a danger to the land of Pixie Hollow.

Often when things go wrong, the elite Scout Fairies led by Nyx tend to save the day but Nyx is often at odds with Fawn, because they have a difference in opinion.  Nyx who wants to protect the fairies of Pixie Hollow and Nyx, who thinks with her heart for the animals.

After a troubled situation with Fawn trying to rescue a baby hawk with a broken wing (Hawks eat fairies), Queen Clarion discusses with Fawn that she follows with her heart and not her head.  Fawn promises the Queen that she will do so for now on.

But one day, she hears a roar coming from a cave.  When she goes to check out where the sound comes from, she sees a huge beast in pain due to a thorn stuck in its foot.  Feeling bad for the beast, she removes the thorn and the two become close in the next few days.

Fawn tries to help the beast build some tower, for what she has no idea what he is trying to build a rock tower for.  But she becomes close to him and she introduces him to her fellow fairies and names him Gruff.  And Fawn and the Pixies do all they can to protect and hide him.

Meanwhile, Nyx who has also heard the roar tries to lead her Elite Scouts to catch the beast, in fear that the beast is in the prophecy of the one that may destroy Pixie Hollow.


VIDEO:

“Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). And with each Tinker Bell film release, the animation and the detail continues to get better and better.

Every character and Pixie Hollow are vibrant with colors, sharp and everything is quite detailed including the skin of the characters. You actually see Tinker Bell’s cheeks having some color and also the skin pigments of other characters as well. Especially when the film focuses on Gruff and showcases the physics of its fur.  Also, there are plenty of visual effects that can be seen throughout the film.

And I can continue to list so many positives from the plants, the clothing, the accessories and the beautiful backgrounds, the lush green grass, the water effects, the trees and even the animals are well detailed with their hair effects. Also, the special effects via CG rom the lighting effects utilizing the pixie dust and then my favorite, the animated facial expressions, are just definitely great to look at. Although not a big budget theatrical film, “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast” looks absolutely beautiful.

So, for the most part, this High Definition transfer of the film is absolutely pristine and gorgeous to look at. Another solid Walt Disney release on Blu-ray!

AUDIO:

As for the lossless audio, the audio is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  Also, in French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and all sound effects come alive. Dialogue is clear and understandable through the front and center channel, as is the beautiful orchestral music. Good use of the surround channels as the flow of sounds from the action sequences can be heard all around. From the ambiance of Pixie Hollow, to the lightning and thunder heard through the surround channels.  Overall, a well-done lossless soundtrack.

As for subtitles, the film is presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” comes with the following special features:

  • 5 Essential Ingredients to Getting Gruff – (5:12) Director Steve Loter and crew discuss the creation of Gruff.
  • My Dad’s Movie: The True Story of the NeverBeast – (5:14) Steve Loter and daughter Calista discuss the beasts they see at the zoo.
  • Jeff Corwin’s Guide to Real-World NeverBeasts – (3:31) – Jeff Corwin discusses having a part in the film and the different real world NeverBeasts.
  • Deleted Scenes – (11:07) Five deleted scenes with optional intros by Director Steve Loter.
  • Tink’n About Animals – (1:52) A Short animated featurette about Fawn singing her love for animals.
  • Gruff Love – (1:33) A special look at “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” preview

EXTRAS:

“Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast” comes with a DVD and Digital HD code.


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“Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast” is once again a delightful and wonderfully animated film in the Tinker Bell film series.

Surprisingly, this latest film is less about Tinker Bell but new character, an animal fairy named Fawn.  Compassionate about all living animals but unfortunately tends to bring animals that are a threat to her fellow fairies to Pixie Hollow.  Often thinking with her heart, not with her head.

And it’s the theme of the film as Fawn befriends a huge behemoth which she names Gruff, but the Neverbeast is believed by Elite Scouts leader, Nyx, to be the threat that will destroy Pixie Hollow.

The NeverBeast, which Fawn has named Gruff, emerges every 1,000 years and is thought to bring a green cloud with lightning that will destroy Pixie Hollow according to a ripped diagram left by their ancestors.

But for Fawn, this is her new cuddly friend that she has befriended and eventually is befriended by Tinker Bell and other fairies.

So, it becomes a conflict as the Fawn and her friends want to hide Gruff, while Nyx and the Elite Scouts want the NeverBeast to be caught.

Once again, the film brings back many well known talents to do the voice of Tinker Bell and the fairies including Mae Whitman, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symone, Angelica Huston and many more.  But this time they bring Ginnifer Goodwin for the voice of Fawn and Rosario Dawson as the voice of Nyx and both women did a magnificent job for their performance.  Especially Ginnifer Goodwin who really hits a grand slam by showcasing the various emotions of Fawn.

The world of Pixie Hollow created by the animators was absolutely magnificent. Colors are vibrant, animation this time around features more detail than the previous film. And with each film series, the animation gets better and better!

The Blu-ray definitely continues Disney’s commitment for the best quality for their High Definition releases (again, picture and audio quality are both magnificent) and there’s really nothing to be disappointed with this release at all. Also, included is a DVD for the kids or for long commutes as well.   But also, the Disney HD Code which will add more points for DisneyMagicRewards members but also adds an HD copy to that site but also on Vudu.

Parents who are wondering if this film is scary at all, there really is no scary parts per se, unless the child finds Gruff’s transformation a bit menacing.  But I will say that there film does get emotional at the end.

Overall, if you are a looking for a Disney animated release for the family and you have enjoyed the Tinker Bell film series, “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” is highly recommended!

Kill la Kill Volume 4: Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Kill la Kill” is an exciting series and the series is preparing to ramp up for an exciting conclusion.  If you have stuck with the series for this long, then “Kill la Kill Volume 4: Limited Edition” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © TRIGGER, Kazuki Nakashima/Kill la Kill Partnership. 2014 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kill la Kill Volume 4: Limited Edition

DURATION: Episodes 15-19 (125 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 16 and Up

Release Date: February 24, 2015


Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Series Composition: Kazuki Nakashima

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Character Design: Sushio

Art by Saishi Ichiko

Art Director: Shigeto Koyama, Yuji Kaneko

Anime Production: Trigger


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ami Koshimizu/Erica Mendez as Ryuuko Matoi

Ryoka Yuzuki/Carrie Keranen as Satsuki Kiryuuin

Aya Suzaki/Christine Marie Cabanos as Mako Mankanshoku

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Steve Cannon as Hōka Inumuta

Katsuyuki Konishi as Tsumugu Kinagase

Mayumi Shintani/Sarah Williams as Nonon Jakuzure

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Grant George as Uzu Sanageyama

Romi Park as Ragyo Kiryuuin

Shinichiro Miki/Matthew Mercer as Aikurō Mikisugi

Tetsu Inada/Patrick Seitz as Ira Gamagōri

Toshihiko Seki as Senketsu

Yukari Tamura as Nui Harime


With both Kyoto and Kobe now under their control, the only region left for Satsuki to conquer is Osaka. Kaneo Takarada – the audacious student council president of Naniwa Kinman High School – is not about to surrender so easily, but can his money buy him victory against the Elite Four?!

Meanwhile, Ryuko rides in on her motorcycle to retrieve Senktesu’s final piece from Satsuki. Senketsu is finally back to one piece, but this was all just part of Satsuki’s plan! While Ryuko was occupied with her battle with Satsuki, Nonon Jakuzure attacks the Nudist Beach HQ below Osaka under Satsuki’s command. With her mission accomplished, Satsuki proceeds to the next phase of her plan to hold the Cultural & Sports Grand Festival with the academy director and Satsuki’s mother, Ragyo Kiryuin, as an honorable guest. Ryuko and the others infiltrate the arena to learn what Satsuki is plotting only to find out the shocking truth behind Satsuki’s grand scheme!


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Revelations of what Senketsu truly is and the truth about the Life Fibers.

Meanwhile Ryuko and her rival Satsuki team up to take on Ragyo, who drops a bombshell in which the lives of Ryuko and Satsuki will never be the same!

Find out what happens in “Kill la Kill” volume 4!

What is “Kill la Kill”?

“Kill la Kill” is set in Honnouji Academy, a school that is ruled by the iron-fisted student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin.

Dominated by the student council, each member wears a Goku uniform that give each member superhuman abilities and depending by the number of their uniform is indicative of how strong that individual is.

Meanwhile, Ryuko Matoi joins Honnouji Academy. She is brash and wields half of a scissor-shaped longsword in search of the person responsible for killing her father. And if she finds the person that owns the other scissor blade, she will exact her revenge.

Her first day at school, she meets the energetic Mako Mankanshoku and her younger brother Mataro. And as Ryuko and Mako go to school, Mako witnesses a student getting beaten by the student council.

When Ryuko goes to find out who is responsible for her father’s death, she is quickly beaten by the boxing club captain, Takaharu Fukuroda, who sports a two-star Goku uniform.

Having been beaten and feeling that she has disappointed her father, Ryuko falls inside a trap door and discovers a talking sailor uniform that attaches itself to her. She finds out that her uniform, a “Kamui” named Senketsu, has granted her abilities and now, Ryuko is ready to take on any rivals from Honnouji Academy.

And for student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin, she will give the answers that Ryuko has been wanting only if she can defeat the people that challenge her.

In volume 3 of “Kill la Kill”, the Kings of the Hill Battle continues and as the final stages are approaching, Ryuko confronts a fighter who claims to have killed Ryuko’s father. And now, Ryuko wants her revenge!

Which leads us to volume 4 as each episode features a major battle.

In episode 15, Satsuki takes on the boss of Osaka, Kaneo Takarada.    In episode 16, we are introduced to Ragyo and her latest mission that she has for Satsuki and her plans to use the Life Fiber.

Senketsu’s origin is revealed in episode 17, while in episode 18, the Elite Four take on Nui and Satsuki’s true agenda is revealed.

By episode 19, the Covers continue to capture citizens, while the Elite Four must do all they can to fight them.

Also, Ragyo drops a major bombshell for Ryuko and Satsuki!


The main characters of “Kill la Kill″ are:

  • Ryuko Matoi – The main protagonist. A 17-year-old who transferred into Honnouji Academy. She wields half of a Scissor Blade and is looking for the person responsible for killing her father. When a Kamui sailor uniform named Senketsu attaches itself to her, she gains special abilities.
  • Senketsu – A kamui and living sailor uniform that gives the user superhuman abilities in exchange for their blood.
  • Satsuki Kiryuin – The ruthless student council president who leads the student council with an iron fist.
  • Mako Mankanshoku – A bubbly, energetic teen that welcomes Ryuko to her family.
  • Mataro Mankanshoku – The younger brother of Mako.
  • Barazo Mankanshoku – Mako’s father who runs a back-alley clinic and a pervert.
  • Sukuyo Mankanshoku – Barazo’s wife and mother of Mako and Mataro. She loves cooking delicious dishes.
  • Ira Gamagoori – Satsuki’s loyal enforcer who lead the disciplinary committee at Honnouji Academy and sports a three-star Goku uniform.

VIDEO:

“Kill la Kill” is presented in 1080p High Definition. What I enjoy about this series is its animation style. Creative character designs but also picture quality that is reminiscent of classic animation. Backgrounds are detailed and beautifully painted, while characters are nicely shaded. Colors are vibrant and I didn’t notice any excessive banding or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kill la Kill” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. The soundtrack is primarily front-channel driven and while voice acting is well-done for both languages, there is no difference in terms of dynamic range.

Subtitles are in English Screen Text, English Dialog & Screen Text and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kill la Kill Volume 4: Limited Edition″ comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Ending
  • Web Version Previews

EXTRAS:

“Kill la Kill Volume 4: Limited Edition” comes with a making documentary DVD #2 (duration: 1:09:10).  The documentary shows the making of “Kill la Kill” featuring 500 days of coverage and what happens four months before the series went live and how busy the TRIGGER staff was in making the episodes.


“Kill la Kill” as of late has been dropping several revelations.  With volume 3, it was about Ryuko’s father being killed, but now with volume 4, we get to learn about the history of Senketsu and what it truly is.

And surprisingly, life becomes chaos as the Covers try to capture all human’s from the academy and use them as guinea pigs for the Light Fibers project, while the Elite Four try to do all they can to fight back, while Ryuko and Satsuki form an unlikely partnership to take on Ragyo.

But when you think things are over…Ragyo drops a major bombshell and suffice to say, things will never be the same for Ryuko and Satsuki ever again.

So, you get five awesome episodes with a lot of action and humor. Voice acting in Japanese and English is well-done and as with most Aniplex limited editions, you also get a box full of swag with the second making of DVD which goes into more detail of how the series was created and what transpired four months before the series was shown on television. But for those who have dreamed in working in the anime industry, can really get a sense of the challenges that the staff faced when working on this series.

The set also comes with a Bushiroad “Uber” Air-head Girl, Mako card, two collectable postcards and a dual-sided poster.

Overall, “Kill la Kill” is an exciting series and the series is preparing to ramp up for an exciting conclusion.  If you have stuck with the series for this long, then “Kill la Kill Volume 4: Limited Edition” is highly recommended!

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