Top

Smurfs: The Lost Village (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”. Recommended for the entire family!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Smurfs: Lost Village

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Mild Action and Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2017


Based on the Characters by Peyo

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Written by Stacey Harman, Pamela Ribbon

Producer: Mary Ellen Bauder, Jordan Kerner

Co-Producer: Veronique Culliford, Mandy Tankenson

Executive Producer: Raja Gosnell, Ben Waisbren

Co-Executive Producer: Ben Haber

Music by Christopher Lennertz

Edited by Bret Marnell

Casting by Mary Hidalgo

Production Design by Noelle Triaureau

Art Direction by Dean Gordon, Marcel Vignali


Starring:

Demi Lovato as Smurfette

Rainn Wilson as Gargamel

Joe Manganiello as Hefty Smurf

Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf

Danny Pudi as Brainy Smurf

Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf

Dee Bradley Baker as Monty

Frank Welker as Azrael

Michelle Rodriguez as SmurfStorm

Ellie Kemper as SmurfBlossom

Julia Roberts as SmurfWillow

Ariel Winter as SmurfLily

Meghan Trainor as SmurfMelody

Bret Marnell as Snappy Bug

Brandon Jeffords as Cauldron

Kelly Asbury as Nosey Smurf

Jake Johnson as Grouchy Smurf

Gabrielle Iglesias as Jokey Smurf

Tituss Burgess as Vanity Smurf


In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a roller coaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of THE biggest secret in Smurf history!


Back in the late ’50s, Belgian cartoonist Peyo created the comic strips featuring small blue fictional characters known as the Smurfs. A big success in France, the Smurfs would receive various adaptations.

The first were in Belgium via TV animated shorts that were created in 1961-1967, a few of the shorts would be featured in the 1965 in the black-and-white animation “Les Adventures des Schtroumpfs” and then followed by a 1976 animation titled “La Flûte à six schtroumpfs” (The Smurfs and the Magic Flute) which would receive an English version that would inspire more full-length Smurf animated films.

But in America, where the Smurfs gained its popularity is through the 1981 animated TV series which was nominated many times for a Daytime Emmy Award and won the “Outstanding Children’s Entertainment Series” for 1982-1983. The animated series would broadcast on television through 1989.

In 1997, producer Jordan Kerner has been trying to get a “Smurfs” film created but it wasn’t until 2002 when Peyo’s heirs accepted Kerner’s offer and people were able to get their first look at the film via leaked footage on the Internet in 2008.

And in 2011, the first live-action/CG Smurf film of a planned trilogy was released in theaters in 2011. The film which was budgeted for $110 million received lackadaisical reviews from film critics but the film was popular among the younger viewers and earned over $559 million in the box office ensuring the film as a success for Columbia Pictures which would ensure a sequel.

In 2013, “Smurfs 2” would go on to earn over $374 million in the box office, making it another success.

But wanting to create a full 3D CG animated film, the film series was rebooted (now no longer featuring the live action portion), this film (unrelated to the previous two films) is directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”, “Gnomeo & Juliet”) and co-written by Stacey Harman (“The Goldbergs”) and Pamela Ribon (“Moana”, “Samantha Who?”, “Bears”) and the film would go on to make $194.7 million in the box office.

And now “Smurfs: The Lost Village” will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD in July 2017.  The version I am reviewing is the 4K Ultra HD version which comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet Digital Code.

In this latest film, we are introduced to the story of Smurfette, the only girl in the Smurf Village and how she was created by the wicked wizard Gargamel from a lump of clay.  Despite being created for the purpose of evil (as he in search of the Smurf village to steal all of their essences to become the most powerful wizard in the world), she was given a chance by Papa Smurf and became part of the village.

One day, Brainy Smurf is creating an invention that can determine one’s energy.  As Hefty Smurf was tested, the invention showed that his energy was strength and Brainy was able to extract that into a liquid.  But when tested on Smurfette, because she isn’t a true Smurf, she drew in energy and so the invention didn’t work on her.

As Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy Smurf go out for some playtime, while flying out with a leaf, a gust of wind carries her to the Forbidden Forest where she crashes.  Smurfette sees a smurf watching her and it runs off past the wall leading to the Forbidden Forest.

But when Smurfette tells the three of what she saw, she is grabbed by Gargamel’s vulture, Monty back to his lair.

This leads Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy to go on a rescue mission to save Smurfette and when they get her out to go to the village, they want to tell Papa Smurf about her discovery.  But when Papa Smurf forbids them and punishes them for going out there, the four sneak out to search if there is a “LostVillage”of Smurfs aside from theirs.


VIDEO:

“Smurfs: Lost Village” receives its first 4K Ultra HD release and this latest animation is fantastic.  Presented in 2160p (1:85:1 aspect ratio), it’s a different style compared to the previous two films which tries to add skin texturing but for the most part, the animation is done very well with great hair physics and for the most part, it’s an animation style that is respectful to Peyo’s original work and also for those who remember the animated series.   Meanwhile, environments are well-rendered with amazing detail.  The picture quality of this film is fantastic!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Audio quality is equally impressive. Presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), Finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Considering that this animated film has a good number of action sequences, the lossless audio utilizes the surround channels.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear, while action sequences sound magnificent through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Smurfs: The Lost village” on 4K Ultra HD comes with the following special features:

  • Emoji Sneak Peak – (2:04) A sneak peek for the upcoming “Emoji” film.
  • Filmmaker Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by director Kelly Asbury and Allan Hawkins (Animation Supervisor) and Brandon Jeffords (Head of Story).
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:35) Featuring four deleted scenes.
  • Kids at Heart! The Making of Smurfs: The Lost Village – (9:09) The making of “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and behind-the-scenes at Sony Pictures Animation.
  • The Lost Auditions – (4:07) Voice talents auditioning for other Smurf roles.
  • Demi Lovato Meets Smurfette – (:58) Smurfette interviews Demi Lovato.
  • Lost Village Dance Song  – (3:10) Featuring children dancing to the “Lost Village Dance Song”.
  • Smurfify Your Nails – (2:18) A featurette on how to smurfify nails.
  • Baker Smurf’s Mini Kitchen – (4:05)  A featurette featuring Baker Smurf narrating one preparing a baked dish.
  • Meghan Trainor “I’m a Lady Music Video”
  • Making the Song “You Will Always find Me In Your Heart” – (3:00) Christopher Lennertz discuss making the music for a certain scene.
  • The Sound of The Smurfs – (3:42) Kelly Asbury and Christopher Lennertz discuss the music for Smurfs: The Lost Village”.
  • Draw Your Favorite Smurfs – (7:40) How to draw various Smurf characters.
  • See More Smurfs! – (5:48) “Smurf” film trailers

EXTRAS:

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Having grown up with watching “Smurfs” on television and reading the comics, and since 2011, it was cool to watch the films alongside my young son who pretty much grew up not with the animated films but the two previous films.

And he were are now in 2017, we have an animated film which will no doubt entertain families but I feel it’s a film that is much easier for me, as an adult to watch, versus watching Smurf and human collaborations onscreen.

Part of the entertaining factor of the original series is the adventures that the Smurfs are involved in and the various characters to work with.  While “Smurfs: The Lost Village” features primarily Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf and Clumsy Smurf, the film does a great job of incorporating other Smurfs but most importantly answers a question of what if there is a village of other Smurfs out there?

What if Smurfette wasn’t the only female Smurf around?

And sure enough, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is quite fun to watch because we see another village but instead of all male, it’s all female.  And similar to Papa Smurf and his village of male smurfs, we see Mama Smurf and her village of female smurfs.  And needless to say, it makes for a fun, entertaining story.

As always, Gargamel is the primary antagonist.  Still trying to search for Smurfs to capture their essence in order to make him a powerful wizard.  Sure there is quite a bit of peril and rude humor (thanks to Gargamel) that raises the rating to PG but parents watching alongside their children need not worry at all.  It’s a great animated film that the entire family can enjoy!

As for the 4K Ultra HD presentation, animation is fantastic.  While much different compared to the previous two films, this time around, the animated film is much truer to Peyo’s work.  Especially for those who grew up watching the animated series.  Movements and hair physics to the way the characters move were well-animated and the detail of environments are full of detail.  In fact, this film looks absolutely vibrant in HD.

The lossless soundtrack is just as impressive.  Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music but also great use of the surround channels during the action sequences.  And last, there are a good number of special features included as well.

Overall, for those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”.  Recommended for the entire family!

 

The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this animated television series on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son, Kion and his friends must protect the Pride Lands. For children and the young at heart, “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power

DURATION: Six Episodes (137 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TY V

Release Date: September 20, 2016


Directed by Howy Parkins

Written by Ford Riley, John Loy, Elise Allen, Kevin Hopps, Jack Monaco

Produced by Ford Riley

Casting by Brian Mathias


Featuring the following voice talent:

Dee Bradley Baker as Hyenas/Tano

Max Charles as Kion

Joshua Rush as Bunga

Diamond Whit as Fuli 

Atticus Shaffer as Ono

Kevin Schon as Jungu

Vargus Mason as Cheezi

Phil LaMarr as Goigoi

Jonny Rees as Mzingo

Rob Lowe as Simba

Khary Payton as Rafiki

Jeff Bennett as Zazu

Dusan Brown as Beshte

Sarah Hyland as Tiifu

Gary Anthony Williams as Mufasa

Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa

Christian Slater as Ushari

Gabrielle Union as Nala

Andrew Kishino as Janja

Madison Pettis as Zuri

Eden Riegel as Kiara


Alone, every hero has his or her own special talent. But when champions work together, the results are “un-Bunga-lievable”! Defend the Pride Lands with Kion and his courageous team in Disney’s breathtaking adventure series based on the legacy of THE LION KING. You’ll run like the wind, move mountains and save the day with these five brave friends as they summon their inner powers and help protect the Circle of Life. Packed with action, music and over two hours of fun, THE LION GUARD: UNLEASH THE POWER proves that when heroes join forces, they’re truly a force to be reckoned with!


Disney has had many successes since Walt Disney created the popular animation studio back in 1923.

With the success of their live action films and their PIXAR 3D animated films, still to this day, “The Lion King”, the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics remains as the most successful animated film for the legendary company earning over $862 million in the box office (created with a budget of $45 million) and in terms of overall animation, it’s the fifth highest grossing animated film of all time and the #1 highest grossing film when it comes to hand-drawn animation.

The film earned two Academy awards plus a Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” and is the #4 animated film on the American Film Institute’s “10 Top 10” list.

With the “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-“, the television animated film (the pilot) which aired on Disney Junior back in November 22, 2015.  That was also the beginning of the TV series titled “The Lion Guard” (which airs on Disney Junior).

The story continues with Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala and the adventures with his Lion Guard.

Selected by Kion is Bunga (honey badger) the bravest, Beshte (hippopotamus) the strongest, Ono (egret) the keenest of sight and Fuli (cheetah) the fastest.   But this group must learn to work together as a team to take on various challenges.  Can Kion’s Lion Guard protect the Pride Lands?

The episodes featured on “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” are:

  • Episode 7 – Fuli’s New Family – Bunga finds out that he is immune to snake bites, but accidentally thinks that he is immune to everything.
  • Episode 3 – Bunga the Wise – When Bunga talks to Rafiki, a little miscommunication makes Bunga think he is the wisest animal in the Pride Lands.
  • Episode 5 – Eye of the Beholder – Janja hears that Ono has temporarily lost his vision and he and the vultures try to take advantage of the situation.
  • Episode 9 – Follow That Hippo! – A young elephant named Mtoto idolizes Beshte.  But what happens when both are attacked by hyenas.
  • Episode 8 – The Search for Utamu – Bunga, Kion, Ono and Beshte search for Utamu grubs and we learn how Bunga met Timon and Pumbaa.
  • Episode 1 – Never Judge a Hyena By Its Spots – What happens when Kion meets Jasiri, a friendly hyena?

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Each time I have watched a Disney animated classic, suffice to say, there are no disappointments. Each release has been spectacular when it comes to picture quality and while “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” may not be a film, but for the most part, animation is still colorful and background and environments are well-painted.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), there is no doubt that fans of the film and children who loved “The Lion King” films will enjoy this DVD.

The TV series is presented in English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital. Dialogue and music is clear and the action sequences sound very good via the surround channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” comes with a free power necklace with changeable discs, a slipcover and a Disney Movie Reward code.


As the animated pilot film “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” marks a sort of passing of the torch as Simba’s son Kion has demonstrated that he has the “Roar of the Elders” and will be the leader of The Lion Guard and protect the Pride Lands.

“The Lion Guard” animated TV series continues where the pilot has left off and Kion has chosen to be the Lion Guard and his fellow members of the team who will protect the Pride Land.

The characters are humorous and fun to watch. And with a total of six episodes included on “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power”, the series will no doubt entertain children and even the young at heart.

The series focuses on Kion (the second-born cub) and his guard which includes Bunga (honey badger) the bravest, Beshte (hippopotamus) the strongest, Ono (egret) the keenest of sight and Fuli (cheetah) the fastest.

Of course, while friends, they have to also work as a team and the animated series reflects the group trying their best to work together and as one of them tends to run off on their own, they eventually learn the importance of working as a team.

For the most part, it’s an animated series with a good dose of humor and action. And for those who enjoyed the pilot film, the original film and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this DVD release.

For parents who are curious if there are any dark situations that may scare young children, not really. Compared to the original “Lion King” film in which Scar and his team of lions or even the creepy hyenas, the hyenas featured in “The Lion Guard” are just as young as Kion. So, in a way, this film was created for a much younger demographic and is lighthearted and fun.  Especially the characters of the Lion Guard, especially the crazy, fun Bunga who tends to misunderstand things easily.

Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD, unfortunately there are no special features but as a plus is that the DVD does come with a free power necklace with changeable discs.

Overall, for those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this animated television series on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son, Kion and his friends must protect the Pride Lands.

For children and the young at heart, “The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” is recommended!

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Star Wars Rebels” Season Two is fantastic! The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching! In fact, I enjoyed this season season even more than the first. A lot of action, great use of returning characters from “The Clone Wars” and more! “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two

TV AIRING: 2015-2016

DURATION: (Episodes 1-22) 485 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TV Y7 FV

Release Date: August 30, 2016


Directed by Dave Filoni, Bosco Ng, Brad Rau, Saul Ruiz, Melchior Zwyer

Written by Simon Kinberg, Carrie Beck, Dave Filoni, George Lucas, Hank Gilroy, Kevin Hopps, Greg We, Steven Melching, Matt Michnovetz, Bill Wolkoff

Producer: Kiri Hart, Athena Yvette Portillo

Executive Producer: Davi Filoni, Simon Kinberg, Greg Weisman

Co-Executive Producer: Henry Gilroy

Associate Producer: Carrie Beck

Music by Kevin Kiner

Edited by Alex McDonnell, Joe E. Elwood

Casting by Aaron Drown

Art Direction by Kilian Plunkett


Starring:

Vanessa Marshall as Hera Syndulla

Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus

Steve Blum as Zeb Orrelios

Taylor Gray as Ezra Bridger

Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren

Dee Bradley Baker as Rex

Ashley Ekstein as Ahsoka Tano

Keone Young as Commander Sato

Jason Isaacs as The Inquisitor

Stephen Stanton as Grand Moff Tarkin

Liam O’Brien as Yogar Lyste

James Earl Jones as Darth Vader

Matt Lanter as Anakin Skylwalker


The epic battle to defeat the evil Empire continues in STAR WARS REBELS: COMPLETE SEASON TWO! As Ezra continues his journey to become a Jedi under Kanan’s guidance, the crew of the Ghost bands together with a secret rebel cell and ex soldiers from the Clone Wars to join a fledgling alliance to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. But the dark side looms large as Darth Vader dispatches new Inquisitors, setting the stage for a climactic showdown in which terrible truths will be revealed and the lives of our heroes will be changed forever.


Darth Vader has sent an order for the Empire to hunt down the Rebels and the Ghost crew members must decide if they want to join the Rebels or stay out of the fight.

Meanwhile, the Ghost crew meet up with Ahsoka Tano’s rebel cell and Darth Vader pursues them and finds out about Ahsoka’s existence.

What will happen to the Ghost crew as they assist the Rebels and why is Darth Vader so intent of capturing Ahsoka?

Find out in “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two”!

What is “Star Wars Rebellion”?

With the completion of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” comes a new American 3D CGI animated television series from Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm Animation titled “Star Wars Rebels”.

Set 14 years after “Revenge of the Sith” and five years before “New Hope”, “Star Wars Rebels” takes place during a time when nearly all jedi’s have been hunted and killed and the Galactic Empire rules the galaxy.

With a total of 13-episodes, the series features a visual style that is inspired by the original “Star Wars” trilogy concept art by Ralph McQuarrie.

“Star Wars Rebels” will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Disney.

“Star Wars Rebels” begins with an introduction to a young teenage thief named Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray) who lives in the Empire-controlled planet, Lothal.

One day, Ezra tries to steal a shipment from the Empire, but also after the shipment is the crew of The Ghost.

The crew consists of Ghost crew leader and Jedi survivor Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.); pilot and owner of the Ghost, the Twi’lek named Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall); weapons and explosives expert and Mandalorian graffiti artist Sabine Wren (voiced by Tiya Sircar); the tough Lasat honor guard Zeb Orrelios (voiced by Stephen Blum) and Hera’s droid C1-10P a.ka. “Chopper”.

After saving Ezra from doom, because of his skills of survival, the crew of the Ghost invite Ezra to join their crew. And because Ezra is able to sense things with the Force, Kanan accepts Ezra as his padawan and to help him control his newfound power.

As any word of rebels rebelling against the Empire can create the potential of insurgencies, Darth Vader sends his Inquisitors (an agency of the Dark Jedi in the Galactic Empire) to go after the crew of the Ghost and his former Padawan.


VIDEO:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). “Star Wars Rebels” features its own unique visual style and for the most part, it’s pretty cool to see how much detail is put into the space vehicles and the planets.

While closeups do show skin detail and the lips match the dialogue really well, the Stormtroopers and robots have lights of the interior of the vehicles bouncing of their uniforms and for the most part, the series features really good lighting effects.  The vehicles also are well-rendered.

Granted, the CG animation is subjective to the viewer if one likes the visuals of the CG animated series, but for me, I felt the series was well-animated and there was great attention in creating the various worlds, vehicle usage and also overall effects were well-done.

I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of each episode.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” is presented in English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.

I would say that I’m a bit surprised that the series on Blu-ray does not utilize a DTS-HD Master Audio track like the final three seasons of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” but in this case, they decided to go with an English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

While dialogue is crystal clear, especially the John Williams musical score and light saber sound effects and utilizing the surround channels for the action sequences, it would have been awesome to have a lossless soundtrack for the Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” comes with the following special features:

  • Rebels Recon – 22 featurettes from “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” that were featured on StarWars.com.
  • Connecting the Galaxy: Rebels Season 2 – (3:28) Easter eggs featured in season two of “Star Wars Rebels”.
  • From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs. Ahsoka – (6:00) Dave Filoni discusses the confrontation between Ahsoka and Vader.

EXTRAS:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” comes with a slipcover and a DisneyMovieRewards code.


For fans of “Star Wars Rebels”, one will love the second season for showcasing more Darth Vader and for “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” fans, the series featuring more of Jedi, Ahsoko Tano (Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan apprentice) and Clone Captain Rex (a.k.a. CT-7567).

And as the Ghost crew take part in more Rebel missions, one of them includes working under Princess Leia.

And with Darth Vader finding out that his former Padawan is still alive after the slaughter of Jedi’s after Order 66, he sends his Inquisitors (Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister) to hunt down after her and other surviving Jedi’s.  So, Kanan and Ezra are targets as well.

But this season also features a few individual and team building episodes.  From Ezra searching for his parents and finding out what happened to them, to Hera having to come across her father, the famous Twi’lek resistance fighter Cham Syndulla, Zed, Sabine and even Chopper have their own stories.

But for this season, I feel that many fans will enjoy the episodes featuring Ahsoka investigating Darth Vader, Kanan’s worries about Ezra’s temper and everything else that culminates in the surprising, final episode of the second season.

But I’m really enjoying the character dynamics of the Ghost Crew for this second season.

As there are rebel cells in the galaxy who fight the oppression of the Empire, “Star Wars Rebels” is fairly interesting as the Ghost Crew consists of a Jedi and a thief turned jedi-in-training plus a tough Lasat honor guard that young male audiences can enjoy, the show also takes a step in the right direction of including two strong female characters.

You have a Twi-lek owner and pilot of the Ghost and female teen graffiti artist in Mandalorian outfit and helmet and is a weapons expert. So, you have a good balance of characters that will no doubt entertaining both male and female audiences and it’s centered around the whole “Star Wars” universe, so you can definitely expect to see well-known “Star Wars” characters, and for season two, expect to see Darth Vader and Princess Leia.

And for fans of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, many will be happy to see the return of Jedi Ahsoka Tano (who was the Padawan apprentice of Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”), but this time as an adult and Rex, who is now much older.  Also, the pirate Hondo Ohnaka also makes a return in the second season of “Star Wars Rebels”.

I also enjoyed the storyline progression of Kanan and Ezra’s jedi training and the possible fears of Ezra’s behavior.  Which are fears that are most warranted considering what happened to Annakin Skywalker.

But the confrontation between Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader was something that many fans have been waiting for and so “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” delivered in this long awaited confrontation!

I felt that the overall writing and voice acting for the series is fantastic. Each episode is adventurous and also full of peril and each episode features something with a character(s) that has an effect in the next or later episodes. So, unlike animated series which tend to have its own isolated episode with no connection to each other, “Star Wars Rebels” episodes have a connection which I enjoyed.

As for the Blu-ray release, I absolutely enjoy the visual look of “Star Wars: Rebels”. Great character and mechanical designs that feature detailed CG that look vibrant on Blu-ray. I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues. As for the soundtrack, unfortunately it’s not a lossless soundtrack, but it’s still a strong 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack featuring clear dialogue, music and special effects.

As for special features, the series comes with plenty of special features including 19 Rebels Recon featurettes as featured on StarWars.com.

Overall, “Star Wars Rebels” Season Two is fantastic! The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching!  In fact, I enjoyed this season season even more than the first.  A lot of action, great use of returning characters from “The Clone Wars” and more!

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two” is highly recommended!

The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar – (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

lionguard

 For those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this short animated television film on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son and his friends must protect the Pride Lands from the hyenas. For children and the young at heart, this Disney animated film is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar –

DURATION: 44 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TY V

Release Date: February 23, 2016


Directed by Howy Parkins

Written by Ford Riley

Produced by Ford Riley

Casting by Brian Mathias


Featuring the following voice talent:

Dee Bradley Baker as Hyenas

Jeff Bennett as Zazu

Dusan Brown as Beshte

Max Charles as Kion

Sarah Hyland as Tiifu

James Earl Jones as Mufasa

Andrew Kishino as Janja

Rob Lowe as Simba

Vargus Maon as Cheezi

Khary Payton as Rafiki

Madison Pettis as Zuri

Jonny Rees as Mzingo

Eden Riegel as Kiara


Meet Kion, second-born cub of Simba and Nala, as he assumes the role of leader of “The Lion Guard,” an elite team of animals tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. Follow him as he assembles a group of unlikely heroes: Bunga the honey badger, Fuli the cheetah, Beshte the hippo and Ono the egret. Join them on a thrilling adventure as they use their unique abilities to defend the Pride Lands from predators and maintain balance within the Circle of Life. Bursting with humor, music, beloved characters and heart, The Lion Guard: Return Of The Roar is a must-own for the entire family!


Disney has had many successes since Walt Disney created the popular animation studio back in 1923.

With the success of their live action films and their PIXAR 3D animated films, still to this day, “The Lion King”, the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics remains as the most successful animated film for the legendary company earning over $862 million in the box office (created with a budget of $45 million) and in terms of overall animation, it’s the fifth highest grossing animated film of all time and the #1 highest grossing film when it comes to hand-drawn animation.

The film earned two Academy awards plus a Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” and is the #4 animated film on the American Film Institute’s “10 Top 10” list.

“The Lion King” made its debut on Blu-ray (2-disc) courtesy of a Diamond Edition on Oct. 4, 2011, as well as a 3D Blu-ray (4-Disc) and also an 8-disc “The Lion King” trilogy box set which included both direct-to-video films “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” and “The Lion King 1 1/2”.

And here we are in 2016 with the DVD release of “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-“, the television animated film which aired on Disney Junior back in November 22, 2015.

The story continues with Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala.

As Kion and his good friend Bunga love to have fun and play a game of Baobab Ball.  While Simba is teaching Kiara about the life as a monarch, both Kion and Bunga interrupt and are told to play elsewhere.

The two end up playing in the Pride Lands but when they lose their ball in the Outlands, Bunga jumps down to retrieve it, despite Kion’s warnings.

Bunga ends up getting caught by Janja, the leader of the hyenas and his minions Cheezi and Chungu.  But when Kion releases a mighty roar (and a mark shows up on his left shoulder), the hyenas drop Bunga and run to safety.

As Kion and Bunga head back to Pride Rock, they can’t help but discuss how powerful Kion’s roar was.

Nala, Rafiki and Simba overhear the discussion and both Nala and Rafiki come with the conclusion that Kion will be the new leader of the Lion Guard (a group of lions that protect the Pride Lands from danger) because he is bestowed with the “Roar of the Elders”. But Simba is hesitant but decides to tell Kion the story of what happened to the previous Lion guard and how Scar once lead the Guard at one time.

Simba asks Kion to assemble the team of who will be the Lion Guard (which Simba meant lions, but instead Kion selects his friends).

Selected by Kion is Bunga (honey badger) the bravest, Beshte (hippopotamus) the strongest, Ono (egret) the keenest of sight and Fuli (cheetah) the fastest.  But spying on them is Mzing, the vulture who is friends of Janja.

After Janja is told about the new Lion Guard, Janja and the hyenas plan to take down the Lion Guard.

Can Kion’s Lion Guard protect the Pride Lands?


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Each time I have watched a Disney animated classic, suffice to say, there are no disappointments. Each release has been spectacular when it comes to picture quality and while “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” was not released on Blu-ray, it still manages to retain the vibrant colors as the previous films.

And for a direct-to-video film, “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” looks very good in DVD.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), there is no doubt that fans of the film and children who loved “The Lion King” films will enjoy this DVD.

The animated film is presented in English 5.1 and French Dolby Digital.  Dialogue and music is clear and the action sequences sound very good via the surround channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” comes with a music video featuring Beau Black performing the single “Here Comes the Lion Guard”.

EXTRAS:

“The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” comes with a slipcover, Disney Movie Reward code and a special talking Kion backpack pull.


“The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar-” marks a sort of passing of the torch as Simba’s son Kion has demonstrated that he has the “Roar of the Elders” and will be the leader of The Lion Guard and protect the Pride Lands.

But instead of finding lions to form the group, Kion chooses his friends to protect the Pride Lands and now, a new group of hyenas led by Janja are determined to cause trouble and destroy The Lion Guard.

Featuring an odd grouping of animal characters which Kion has chosen to be the Lion Guard, the characters are humorous and fun to watch.   And at 44 minutes long, the animated film will no doubt entertain children and even the young at heart.

As the film, “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar” focuses on Kion (the second-born cub).

And while we get to see Simba, Nala and Rafiki once again, the film also shows a little of Kion’s older sister Kiara.  I have no doubt for some who followed the original film, I’m sure that fans of the older “The Lion King: Six New Adventures” books who will be shocked to find out that Kopa (who was Simba’s first son in the books) is not even mentioned or featured in “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar” (nor was he featured in “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride”).  So, with the release of these animated films, it looks like “Kopa” is an unofficial character that probably may never be featured in the animated series, so Kion will be recognized as Simba and Nala’s only son in the animated films.

With that being said, as “The Lion King 1 1/2” focused on Timon & Pumbaa and  “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” focused on Simba and Nala’s daughter Kiara, it’s good to see Kion getting his own story and also seeing The Lion Guard resurrected.

For the most part, it’s a short animated film with a good dose of humor and action.  And for those who enjoyed the original film and direct-to-video sequels and enjoyed the film when it debuted on Disney Junior, will no doubt enjoy this DVD release.

For parents who are curious if there are any dark situations that may scare young children, not really.  Compared to the original “Lion King” film in which Scar and his team of lions or even the creepy hyenas, the hyenas featured in “The Lion Guard – Return of the Roar -” are just as young as Kion.  So, in a way, this film was created for a much younger demographic.

Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD and as for special features, you get a music video.  A plus is that the DVD does come with a talking Kion backpack pull.

Overall, for those who enjoyed the “Lion King” and the direct-to-video sequels, will no doubt enjoy this short animated television film on DVD as Simba and Nala’s young son and his friends must protect the Pride Lands from the hyenas.

For children and the young at heart, this Disney animated film is recommended!

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

swrebels-a

“Star Wars Rebels” is fantastic! The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching! If you have been curious about “Star Wars Rebels”, I highly recommend checking out “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One”!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: (Episodes 1-13) 331 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TV Y7 FV

Release Date: September 1, 2015


Directed by Steward Lee, Dave Filoni, Steven G. Lee, Justin Ridge

Written by Simon Kinberg, Carrie Beck, Dave Filoni, George Lucas, Greg Weisman, Kevin Hopps, Henry Gilroy, Katie Lucas

Producer: Kiri Hart, Athena Yvette Portillo

Executive Producer:  Davi Filoni, Simon Kinberg, Greg Weisman

Associate Producer: Carrie Beck

Music by Kevin Kiner

Edited by Alex McDonnell, Joe E. Elwood

Casting by Aaron Drown

Art Direction by Kilian Plunkett


Starring:

Vanessa Marshall as Hera Syndulla

Freddie Prinze Jr. as Kanan Jarrus

Steve Blum as Zeb Orrelios

Taylor Gray as Ezra Bridger

Tiya Sircar as Sabine Wren

David Oyelowo as Agent Kallus

Jason Isaacs as The Inquisitor

Kath Soucie as Maketh Tua

Dee Bradley Baker as Admiral Kassius Konstantine

Ashley Eckstein as Fulcrum

David Shaughnessy as Taskmaster Grint

Brent Spiner as Gall Trayvis

Liam O’Brien as Yogar Lyste

Jonny Rees as Baron Valen Rudor

Keith Szarabajka as Cikatro Vizago

Stephen Stanton as Grand Moff Tarkin


A spark of rebellion ignites in Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One! Star Wars Rebels continues the epic tradition of the legendary Star Wars saga with exciting action-packed episodes. It is a dark time in the galaxy as the evil Galactic Empire rules with an iron fist. Imperial forces have occupied a remote planet, ruining the lives of its people. A ragtag band of rebels — Ezra, Hera, Kanan, Sabine, Zeb and Chopper — have taken a brave stand against the ruthless oppression of the Empire in a fight to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy.


swrebels-b

With the completion of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” comes a new American 3D CGI animated television series from Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm Animation titled “Star Wars Rebels”.

Set 14 years after “Revenge of the Sith” and five years before “New Hope”, “Star Wars Rebels” takes place during a time when nearly all jedi’s have been hunted and killed and the Galactic Empire rules the galaxy.

With a total of 13-episodes, the series features a visual style that is inspired by the original “Star Wars” trilogy concept art by Ralph McQuarrie.

“Star Wars Rebels” will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Disney.

“Star Wars Rebels” begins with an introduction to a young teenage thief named Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray) who lives in the Empire-controlled planet, Lothal.

One day, Ezra tries to steal a shipment from the Empire, but also after the shipment is the crew of The Ghost.

The crew consists of Ghost crew leader and jedi survivor Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.); pilot and owner of the Ghost, the Twi’lek named Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall); weapons and explosives expert and Mandalorian graffiti artist Sabine Wren (voiced by Tiya Sircar); the tough Lasat honor guard Zeb Orrelios (voiced by Stephen Blum) and Hera’s droid C1-10P a.ka. “Chopper”.

After saving Ezra from doom, because of his skills of survival, the crew of the Ghost invite Ezra to join their crew.  And because Ezra is able to sense things with the Force, Kanan accepts Ezra as his padawan and to help him control his newfound power.

As any word of rebels rebelling against the Empire can create the potential of insurgencies, Darth Vader sends their high-ranking agent of the Imperial Security Bureau named Agent Kallus (voiced by David Oyelwo) and an Inquisitor (an agency of the Dark Jedi in the Galactic Empire) to go after the crew of the Ghost.

Here is a spoiler-free synopsis of each episode in season 1:

  • Episode 1 – Droids in Distress – Ezra and the crew of the Ghost try to steal a shipment of disruptor weapons.
  • Episode 2 – Fighter Flight – Because they got off on a bad start, Hera sends Ezra and Zeb on a supply run together.
  • Episode 3 – Rise of the Old Masters – The rebels discover an underground transmission that Jedi Master Luminara Undul has survived Order 66 and is being held in a high-security Imperial prison on Stygeon rime.  The crew wants to free the Jedi Master.
  • Episode 4 – Breaking Ranks – Ezra goes undercover as an Imperial Academy cadet and befriends two cadets.
  • Episode 5 – Out of Darkness – Hera and Sabine go to an abandoned Republic asteroid base to retrieve supplies.
  • Episode 6 – Empire Day – A parade celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Empire’s creation.  Ezra finds out that his Rodian friend Tseebo is wanted by the Empire.
  • Episode 7 – Gathering Forces – Ezra finds out distressing news from Tseebo in regards to his parents.
  • Episode 8 – Path of the Jedi – Seeing Ezra’s anger during the fight against the Inquisitor, Kanan brings Ezra to a hidden Jedi Temple in Lothal for training.
  • Episode 9 – Idiot’s Array – Zeb has lost a bet with smuggler Lando Calrissian, and now the crew must assist Lando.
  • Episode 10 – Vision of Hope – Ezra has a vision of meeting Gall Trayvis, an exiled Imperial senator and rebel sympathizer.
  • Episode 11 – Call to Action – The rebels debate to broadcast their message to nearby star systems about their cause.
  • Episode 12 – Rebel Resolve – The crew of the Ghost try to find a way to rescue Kanan from the Empire.
  • Episode 13 – Fire Across the Galaxy – The search and rescue of Kanan continues in the season finale.

 


swrebels-c

VIDEO:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  “Star Wars Rebels” features its own unique visual style and for the most part, it’s pretty cool to see how much detail is put into the space vehicles and the planets.  While closeups do show skin detail and the lips match the dialogue really well, the Stormtroopers have lights of the interior of the vehicles bouncing of their uniforms and for the most part, the series features really good lighting effects.

Granted, the CG animation is subjective to the viewer if one likes the visuals of the CG animated series, but for me, I felt the series was well-animated and there was great attention in creating the various worlds, vehicle usage and also overall effects were well-done.

I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of each episode.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” is presented in English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.

I would say that I’m a bit surprised that the series on Blu-ray does not utilize a DTS-HD Master Audio track like the final three seasons of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” but in this case, they decided to go with a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

While dialogue is crystal clear, especially the John Williams musical score and light saber sound effects and utilizing the surround channels for the action sequences, it would have been awesome to have a lossless soundtrack for the Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Rebels Recon – (44:07) 14 featurettes from “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” that were featured on StarWars.com
  • Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration – (4:03) The Q&A for “Star Wars: Rebels” at Star Wars Celebration.
  • Rebels: The Ultimate Guide – (22:05) A special first season recap narrated by Kanan.
  • Season 2: A Look Ahead – (7:02) A featurette of things to look for in season 2 by Executive Producer Dave Filoni.

EXTRAS:

“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One” comes with a slipcover and a DisneyMovieRewards code.


swrebels-d

As the world highly anticipate the new “Star Wars” films, for those who have enjoyed any of the “Star Wars” animated series can easily enjoy the storyline of “Star Wars Rebels”.

As there are rebel cells in the galaxy who fight the oppression of the Empire, “Star Wars Rebels” is fairly interesting as the Ghost Crew consists of a Jedi and a thief turned jedi-in-training plus a tough Lasat honor guard that young male audiences can enjoy, the show also takes a step in the right direction of including two strong female characters.

You have a Twi-lek owner and pilot of the Ghost and female teen graffiti artist in Mandalorian outfit and helmet and is a weapons expert.  So, you have a good balance of characters that will no doubt entertaining both male and female audiences and it’s centered around the whole “Star Wars” universe, so you can definitely expect to see C-3PO and R2-D2, Lando Calrissian and yes, even baddies such as Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin.

And for fans of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, many will be happy to see the return of Jedi Ahsoka Tano (who was the Padawan apprentice of Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”), but this time as an adult.

While “Star Wars” fans also get to enjoy a few episodes written by George Lucas, the overall writing and voice acting for the series is fantastic.  Each episode is adventurous and also full of peril and each episode features something with a character(s) that has an effect in the next or later episodes.  So, unlike animated series which tend to have its own isolated episode with no connection to each other, “Star Wars Rebels” episodes have a connection which I enjoyed.

As for the Blu-ray release, I absolutely enjoy the visual look of “Star Wars: Rebels”.  Great character and mechanical designs that feature detailed CG that look vibrant on Blu-ray.  I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues.  As for the soundtrack, unfortunately it’s not a lossless soundtrack, but it’s still a strong 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack featuring clear dialogue, music and special effects.

As for special features, the series comes with plenty of special features including 14 featurettes as featured on StarWars.com, a short Star Wars Celebration featurette (exclusive on Blu-ray), a recap episode and a look ahead of what to expect in season 2.

Overall, “Star Wars Rebels” is fantastic!  The adventures, the action, the characters and great writing make the entire series, so worth watching!

If you have been curious about “Star Wars Rebels”, I highly recommend checking out “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One”!

Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

adventuretime-5

If you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’re getting your money’s worth with both Blu-ray releases of “Adventure Time”. But if you purchased the four seasons on Blu-ray or DVD, owning the fifth season is a no-brainer! It’s a must own for “Adventure Time” fans!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Cartoon Network. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2012-2014

DURATION: 52 EPISODES (572 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 Widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Warner Bros./Cartoon Network

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: July 14, 2015


Created by Pendleton Ward

Directed by Larry Leichliter

Written by Pendleton Ward, Patrick McHale, Kent Osborne, Mark Banker, Adam Muto, Merriwether Williams, Rebecca Sugar, Cole Sanchez, Timothy McKeon, Ako Castuera, Bert Youn, Tom Herpich, Thurop Van Orman, Somvilay Xayaphone, Steve Little, Jesse Moynihan, Sean Jiminez, Elizabeth Ito, Luther McLaurin, Armen Mirzaian, Niki Yang, Benton Connor, Dick Gruner

Executive Producer: Fred Seibert, Curtis Lelash, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Rob Sorcher, Rob Swartz, Derek Drymon

Producer: Kelley Crews

Co-Producer/Executive Producer: Pendleton Ward

Supervising Producer: Thurop Van Orman

Music by Timothy Kiefer, Casey James Basichis

Production Design by David O’Reilly

Art Direction by Nick Jennings


Starring:

Jeremy Shada as Finn

John DiMaggio as Jake

Tom Kenny as Ice King

Hynden Walch as Princess Bubblegum

Pendleton Ward As Lumpy Space Princess

Maria Bamford as Wildberry Princess

Niki Yang as Beemo

Olivia Olson as Marceline

Dee Bradley Baker as Cinnamon Bun

Steve Little as Peppermint Butler

Kent Osborne as Joshua

Jessica Di Cicco as Flame Princess


Are you a Jake fan? Great! Because Season 5 has a ridiculous amount of momentous Jake moments!! Like when he became Jake the Dad. That time he tracked down Jake Jr.’s kidnapper (sort of). Who can forget the masterpiece that is his Most Delicious Sandwich?! And he shares these moments with his best bro Finn and friends in a total of 52 episodes, all for you!


The adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the dog continue in the Land of Ooo as Finn and Jake chase after the Lich through a dimensional portal and come in contact with Prismo, a wish granter.  Also, what happens when Fin and Jake’s frisbee gets stuck inside a large tree?  Also, what happens when they find a bag of miniature versions of their friends?  And can Jake become a good father to his five puppies?   Also, Ice King, N.E.P.T.R., Tree Trunks, Shelby and Lemongrab get trapped in a dungeon and they must find a way to escape.

All this and more in the hilarious and crazy fifth season of Cartoon Network’s hit animated series, “Adventure Time: The Complete Fifth Season” now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

What is “Adventure Time”?

Pendleton Ward is known for writing for animated series such as “Random! Cartoons” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” and most recently “Bravest Warriors”, but in 2010, Ward would create a series that would become a popular animated series on the Cartoon Network titled “Adventure Time”.

Originally produced by Frederator’s Nicktoons Network animation incubator series “Random! Cartoons”, the short for “Adventure Time” would first become a viral hit on the Internet before being picked up by the Cartoon Network and featured on television in 2010.

Heavily inspired by “Dungeons and Dragons” and video games, “Adventure Time” is hand-drawn animation and is recorded as a group, than with voice talent recorded individually.

With a seventh season of “Adventure Time” to air in the fall of 2015, “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in July 2015.

The fifth season features the most episodes in a single season (with a total of 52-episodes) and its season premiere garnered 3.4 million viewers, an increase of almost a million viewers compared to the previous seasons of “Adventure Time” and while the season would last from 2012-2014, the show averaged 2-3 million viewers per episode.

The episode “Be More” was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Short-format animation at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2014 and art director, Nick Jennings would win an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation” for his work on the episode “Wizard Only, Fools”.

“Adventure Time” is a series that revolves around Finn the Human, a 14-year-old boy and his best friend, a talking yellow dog named Jake, who has magical powers to change shape, stretch and shrink.

The two live in a post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo where they interact with friends such as Princess Bubblegum, the Ice King, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Lady Rainicorn (wife of Jake the Dog) and more!

Season 5 features a total of 52 episodes which are 12 minutes long (all episodes are on two Blu-ray discs).


VIDEO:

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition (presented in 16×9). The animation is absolutely fantastic in HD! Colors are vibrant and sharp, color palette is colorful and while the character designs may lack incredible detail and shading of other animated series (note: background art is shaded), what makes “Adventure Time” work is its abundance of characters, creative backgrounds, locations and more.

During my viewing of the series, I did not see any artifacts, banding, even during scenes with a lot of red or orange. Line detail is very strong and for the most part, fans of the series should be happy with the overall presentation.

AUDIO:

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0. While I would have loved a 5.1 immersive soundtrack, the fact is that a lot of TVanimated series are presented in stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear and heard no problems with overall audio.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Adventure Time Forever – (15:34) The crew discusses their work on the series and how it evolved from the pilot to the series it is now.
  • Animated Clips – The animated clips (sketches) for all episodes.

EXTRAS:

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” comes with a slipcover. Also, included is an Ultraviolet code which allows you to watch and share on computers, iPhones, iPads, Android devices, game consoles and connected TV’s.


Finn and Jake’s adventures continue with season 5 of “Adventure Time”.

Featuring even more wilder, crazier and fun episodes, this latest season features special guests Andy Milonakis, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Marina Sirtis, Roddy Piper, Rainn Wilson, Lou Ferrigno and more.

From hilarious episodes such as the Flame King escaping from prison, Lumpy Space Princess reconnecting with an old classmate, Lemonhope getting upset of being reminded by Princess Bubblegum over and over again, Finn discovering Billy’s bucket list or Root Beer Guy telling everyone that Finn and Jake abducted Princess Bubblegum and more!

And with twice the number of episodes in season five, with 52 episodes, there are plenty of awesome episodes in “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season”. It’s important to note that anyone can jump in with season five without having previous knowledge of the series (as each episode are standalone).

The series is pretty much an episode of adventures featuring Finn, Jake or other characters and what happens when the come across a variety of characters or are in some kind of trouble.  Most of the episodes are crazy, goofy, dark and more!  So, thus you get the TV PG rating.

Part of the enjoyment I had while watching this series is the fact that it’s not banal. You can’t predict what will happen with each episode as it is not formulaic, crazy things happen and just to see how each character deals with a certain situation, you can’t help but laugh and be entertained.

As for the Blu-ray release of “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season”, the series looks incredible on Blu-ray. Colors are absolutely vibrant in HD. While it would have been nice to have a 5.1 lossless soundtrack instead of a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, it does happen with many TV animated series.  But lossless audio ala dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear!

As for special features, you get an “Adventure Time Forever” featurette” with the crew talking about how the series has evolved and reminiscing of their earlier years with the original pilot and how fans reacted to the show, animatic clips and a special snail hunt.

Overall, if you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’re getting your money’s worth with both Blu-ray releases of “Adventure Time”. But if you purchased the four seasons on Blu-ray or DVD, owning the fifth season is a no-brainer! It’s a must own for “Adventure Time” fans!

If you are looking for an animated series that is crazy, hilarious, addictive and so much fun, “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” is highly recommended!

The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 8, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

legendofkorra-4

“The Legend of Korra” ends on a positive note and the final season “Book Four: Balance” is a fitting end for the series.  If you have stayed with the animated series for this long, then “The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance

YEAR: 2014

DURATION: 13 Episodes (Episodes 40-52) Minutes (297 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 2.0 Stereo

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Viacom/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: March 10, 2015


Directed by Ian Graham, Colin Heck

Written by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Joshua Hamilton, Tim Hedrick

Produced by Tim Yoon

Music by Jeremy Zuckerman

Casting by Shannon Reed

Art Direction by Joaquim Dos Santos, Bryan Konietzko, Ki Hyun Ryu


Featuring the following voice talent:

Janet Varney as Korra

Dee Bradley Baker as Various Voices

David Faustino as Mako

P.J. Byrne as Bolin

J.K. Simmons as Tenzin

Jeff Bennett as Radio Braodcaster

Seychelle Gabriel as Asami Sato

Steve Blum as Amon

Darcy Rose Byrnes as Ikki

Mindy Sterling as Lin Beifong

Logan Wells as Meelo

Lance Henriksen as Lieutenant

Kiernan Shipka as Jinora

Richard Riehle as Bumi

Adrian LaTourelle as Unalaq

Lisa Edestein as Kya

Aubrey Plaza as Eska

Aaron Himelstein as Desna

Maria Bamford as Pema

John Michael Higgins as Varrick

Steve Blum as Amon

James Remar as Tonraq

Jonathan Adams as Vaatu

Zelda Williams as Kuvira


In Book Four, Avatar Korra is now broken and bruised and begins a journey of self-discovery and survival in a new world where the strong prey upon the weak. When an aggressive military force rises up led by the power-hungry Kuvira, the fate of the Earth Kingdom hangs in the balance and only the Avatar can set things right.


Three years have passed since the defeat of Zaheer.

Korra, who has renounced her identity as an Avatar, continues to live with the after effects of the liquid-metal poison placed in her body by the Red Lotus and losing her power, is in search of a way to rid the poison but get back her powers.  Having kept her distance away from her friends and family, a lot has happened in the world.

Prince Wu has been crowned as the Earth King and Mako has been assigned as his bodyguard.  Opal and Kai and other benders try to keep the peace against the bandits that are roaming the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Kuvira is trying to be the “Great Uniter” and heading an army which includes Bolin, Varrick and his assistant Zhu Li. But when Kuvira begins to threaten everyone who does not follow her as a leader, this pits the benders against the new Earth Empire.

Find out what happens in “The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” now available on Blu-ray and DVD!

What is “The Legend of Korra” about?

From Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of the popular Nickelodeon animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, comes the sequel to the series titled “The Legend of Korra”.

Originally planned as a 12-episode mini-series, “The Legend of Korra” was greenlit for a total of 52-episodes (four seasons) for a total of four books with 12-14 episodes each.

While the first two seasons aired on Nickelodeon, the third season “The Legend of Korra” featured eight episodes being aired on Nickelodeon, but stopped due to declining ratings and episodes 9-13 were made available online via Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and Hulu.

The first season known as “Book One: Air” features animation from Korea’s Studio Mir and the series would receive critical acclaim and also drawing an average of 4.3 million viewers, having the highest audience total for an animated series in the U.S. for 2012.

And now “The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in July 2013.

“The Legend of Korra” is set 70-years in the future after the events of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and how the world was brought into peace. The world which features the four nations which include the Water Tribes, the Air Nomads, the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation have people trained to “Bend” the element that they are associated with their nation (so, a person can bend water, earth, fire or air).

But for Korra of the Southern Water Tribe, at 4-years-old, she was able to bend fire and earth and thus was trained to become the Avatar to the Order of the White Lotus. Now at 17-years-old, she can “bend” water, earth and fire but yet is unable to “air-bend”.

She is to be trained to “air-bend” from Tenzin, the youngest child of Aang (the last airbender and the protagonist of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”) and Katara (the water bender from the Southern Water Tribe who was the first to discover Aang and free him from an iceberg – episode 1 of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”) but the problem is that Republic City has become unstable and Tenzin will not be able to stay in the Southern Water Tribe to train her and must leave.

Upset that Tenzin won’t train her , Korra who feels that because she can bend three elements, she’s powerful enough and wants to see the world and perhaps Tenzin may train her in Republic City. Master Katara (who is also Tenzin’s mother) accepts Korra’s reasoning and allows her to go to Republic City alone.

But immediately when Korra arrives in the Republic City, trying to save people from a bending gang, she is arrested by Republic City’s metalbending police force and immediately is not well-liked by the police chief Lin Beifong (daughter of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” character Toph Beifong), but to her aid comes Tenzin who takes her in. To ease tensions, it is revealed to the media that the Avatar, Korra is staying in the city and for Korra, she tells everyone that her goal is to protect the people of Republic City.

Meanwhile, something ominous is happening in the city as a mysterious masked man named Amon who leads the Equalists (non-benders) and their goal is to bring equality between the benders and the non-benders. But Amon has shown that he has some power to eliminate one’s bending abilities.

For “Book Two: Spirits”, the storyline is set six months after the events in the season final of “Book One: Air”.

Korra is now being trained by her uncle, Unalaq and has discovered that restless spirits have been terrorizing the south seas. And she needs to find the way to calm the dark spirits.

But as she and her father Tonraq goes to the area of the Water Tribes, she discovers something ominous and one who is trying to merge with the dark spirit known as Vaatu in order to become the Dark Avatar.

But will Korra have what it takes to calm the Dark Spirits and face the Dark Avatar?

For “Book Three: Change”, two weeks after the Harmonic Convergence, Korra was expelled from Republic City by President Raiko because spirit vines continued to cover the city and Korra was not able to remove them. But with various people suddenly developing airbending skills, this leads Tenzin, Korra and friends to search for airbenders in various areas and recruit them to join the Air Nomads.

But the evil and powerful criminal named Zaheer has escaped prison with a few others and with his tremendous airbending skill, does Korra and friends have a chance of stopping him?

For “Book Four: Balance”, the story takes place three years after the events that left Korra poisoned and without her power.  As a new Earth King is to be announced, bandits have created a hostile environment and the few benders are busy helping diffuse the crime.

This leads Kuvira, the master metalbender who was part of the Metal Clan in Zaofu to reunite the rest of the kingdom via her Earth Kingdom army and has earned her the title of “Great Uniter”.  She offers to protect the nation states from the bandits in exchange for their loyalty.

But as Prince Wu is to become the next Earth King, Kuvira denounces the authority of the Earth King and dissolves the Earth Kingdom to create the Earth Empire under her leadership.

And anyone who goes against her will face severe punishment.

With chaos now residing in the kingdom, pitting the benders vs. the Earth Empire, will Korra be able to find a way to regain her powers and fight against Kuvira and stop the madness?


The main characters of “The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” are:

  • Korra – A teenage girl who has mastered fire, earth and water but not wind-bending. She is the successor of Aang and thus was kept hidden in order to protect her. But because of her temper and rebellious side, she tends to do things on her own pace, even though it may get her into a lot of trouble. In Book Two: Spirits, despite having more control of her airbending abilities, she will be put to the test when she comes across a new enemy intent on destroying the world. In Book Three: Change, Korra does all she can in trying to recruit the new airbenders to join Air Nomads. In Book Four: Balance, Korra has lost all of her powers and is scarred by previous trauma.
  • Mako – A firebender and member of the Fire Ferrets bending team. He is a firebender that came from the streets, he is seen as a dark individual. He is dating Asami Sato, daughter of the wealthy industrialist Hiroshi Sato but also is attracted to Korra. He was Korra’s boyfriend and is currently a police officer.  In Book Four, he has been assigned to work for Prince Wu, the next Earth King.
  • Bolin – The younger brother of Mako who is an earth bender and is lighthearted, gullible and humorous. The opposite of his brother who goes to work with Kuvira.
  • Asami Sato – Mako’s ex-girlfriend and the daughter of Hiroshi Sato, the wealthy industrialist. She once loved Mako was once jealous of Korra but she has matured and is now responsible for keeping Future Industries afloat and restore the corporation’s reputation.
  • Master Tenzin – The youngest son of Aang and Katara. He tries to fulfill his father’s wishes and was assigned to train Korra in air bending and assisting her.
  • Republic City police chief Lin Beifong – A former girlfriend of Tenzin and the daughter of Toph Beiphong. She is very strict when it comes to honoring the laws of the land and it puts her in odds with Korra. She is brave and loyal.
  • Suyin Beifong – Dancer and the leader of Zaofu.  A powerful metalbender who has a strained relationship with her older half-sister, Lin Beifong.  Married to Baatar and has five children.
  • Toph Beifong – A blind earthbender who traveled with Aang and friends.  She is responsible founding the Republic City’s police force and taught the art of metalbending to her students, her daughters Lin and Suyin.
  • Kuvira – A master metalbender who was part of the Metal Clan in Zaofu.  She served as captain and the city’s guard as party of Suyin Beifong’s dance troup.  Abandoned by her parents, she was raised by Suyin Beifong like a daughter.  In Book Four, she has earned the title as the “Great Uniter”.
  • Baatar Jr. – Suyin Beifong and Baatar’s eldest son and an engineer.  He joins Kuvira and the Earth Empire to help reunite the nation.
  • Iknik Blackstone Varrick – The flamboyant billionaire who joins Kuvira to help reunite the Earth Kingdom.
  • Zhu Li Moon – Loyal to Varrick as his assistant, she is secretly in love with him, despite him treating her badly.
  • Pema – Tenzin’s caring wife and mother of Jinora, Ikki, Meelo and Rohan, who are young children training to become air benders.
  • Tonraq – The father of Korra and a waterbending master.

VIDEO:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” is presented in 1080p High Definition and my thoughts in watching the series is how impressive the character designs, the detail and shading of the characters and how breathtaking the background art is for the series, as well as the mechanical design. The series is vibrant and colorful, I didn’t see any artifacts or any problematic issues during my view of the 13-episodes. If anything, fans of the series will be thrilled of how beautiful “The Legend of Korra” looks in HD and Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot has done an amazing job for this second season!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 2.0 Stereo. The lossless soundtrack for “The Legend of Korra – Book Three: Change” sounds fantastic. Action scenes come alive and utilizes the surround channels very well, especially for environment ambiance. Dialogue and music are crystal clear!

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring nine audio commentaries with the creators, cast and crew. A Blu-ray exclusive!
  • Featurettes– Featuring short Nickelodeon featurettes such as Kuvira vs. Prince Wu, Republic City Hustle: Part 1-3.
  • Legend of Korra: 2014 Comic-Con Panel Featurette – (34:43) Featuring the NYCC panel.  A Blu-ray exclusive!
  • The Legend of Puppetbender Presents “The Making of a Legend: The Untold Story – Part II” – (7:47) The characters in puppet format discussing the latest episode and tensions on the set.  A Blu-ray exclusive!

EXTRAS:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” comes with a slipcover and poster.


The final season of “The Legend of Korra” is here with “Book Four: Balance”.

With the series being moved from Nickelodeon and streamed online with Book Three, pretty much seemed like the nail in the coffin but fortunately Nickelodeon gave the series creators and writers another season to end the series.

With the wonderful “Book Three: Change”, the series brought in a lot of characters and featured an exciting, thrilling fight against Red Lotus which left Korra poisoned and without her power.

With “Book Four: Balance”, the series felt different in that Korra was without her powers and for the most part, the majority of the series, she was getting beat up.

Without her powers, the final season utilized the supporting characters with efficacy.

We have Mako working with the vain Prince Wu, while Bolin would work with Kuvira but learning along the way that she is bent on power and has become a dictator and threatening anyone who goes against her. Bolin is more prominent in book four as more of a character to supply the comedy relief, while his brother Mako and friend, Asami show up every now and then.

Surprisingly, Southern Water Tribe industrialist, the flamboyant Varrick and his assistant Zhu Li also get more time on the series as they are also working for Kuvira as well.

While the final episode no doubt is thrilling and we do see tragedy, the ending of the series featuring what possibly may be the beginning of a romance of two primary characters, was no doubt trending on social media.  For those wanting more details of the ending and were unclear about it, one can easily listen to the audio commentary for the episode for more details.

But the final book and its conclusion is a fitting end to the series.  “The Legend of Korra” has been exciting since the first season and while it received a lot of flack due to its comparison to “Avatar: The Last Air Bender”, the series while connected, did its best to differentiate itself with each book and in many ways, earned the respect of fans of all ages thanks to its smart writing but also the writers not shying away from darker elements.

With that being said, as many fans were thrilled that “The Legend of Korra” appealed to adult viewers, there are those who wish the series were more child-friendly and would have liked the series to be geared towards children and whether or not that led to the series being taken off air due to declining ratings and being streamed on the Nickelodeon website, it may be have contributed to the series being taken off television.

But the truth is that since the beginning, the series has received flack from original fans “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra” kept facing an uphill battle, while fans, including myself, praised the series for its writing and character development.

With each book (season), “The Legend of Korra” got better and better and “Book Three” will no doubt be my favorite book of the entire series.  Book Four was exciting, entertaining and a lot of fun.  But it was a series that the writers had to come up with a story to complete the series.

What I enjoyed about season three was the balance of action, drama and romance, with Book Four, while action and political drama continued, with Korra going on a journey to get her powers back, we are left with relationships that seemed as if they were going nowhere.  From Bolin and Opal on opposing sides, the main romance involved Varrick and Zhu Li and what we were given in the last few minutes of the final episode.

If anything, the writers wanted to bring many of the characters, including the antagonists back for the final season, the series also brings back “Avatar: The Last Air Bender” albeit an older Toph Beifong for a number of episodes as well.  And I suppose, with the final season, it made sense to see this grand finale with many characters.

As for the Blu-ray release, the animation is absolutely gorgeous. Colorful and vibrant with breathtaking background art, this series has always captivated me visually. And it’s lossless soundtrack is very good as it also utilizes the surround channels, while crystal clear through the center and front channels. Special features include audio commentary for nine episodes and also short featurettes, a New York Comic-Con featurette and also the return of the puppetbenders!

Overall, “The Legend of Korra” ends on a positive note and the final season “Book Four: Balance” is a fitting end for the series.  If you have stayed with the animated series for this long, then “The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance” is highly recommended!

Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

November 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

phines-starwars

Enjoyable, and a lot of fun… “Phineas and Ferb: The Perry Files – Animal Agents” features 12 episodes of “Phineas and Ferb” plus a cool spy kit! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars

DURATION: 164 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: TV G

RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2014

Directed by Zac Moncrief, Dan Povenmire, Robert Hughes, Jay Lender, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh

Written by Dan Povenmire, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Martin Olson, John Colton Barry, Bobby Gaylor, Antoine Guilbaud, Aliki Theofilopoulos, Kim Roberson, Sherm Cohen, Chong Lee, Piero Piluso, May Chan, Kaz, Michael Diederich

Executive Producer: Dan Povenmire

Co-Executive Producer/Executive Producer: Jeff “Swampy Marsh

Line Producer: Natasha Kopp

Music by Danny Jacob

Edited by Ted Supa

Art Direction by Alan Bodner, Jill Daniels

Featuring the voices of:

Vincent Martella as Phineas

Thomas Sangster as Ferb

Ashley Tisdale as Candace/Stormtrooper Candace

Dan Povemire as Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz/Darthenshmirtz

Jeff “Swampy” Marsh as Major Monogram

Dee Bradley Baker as Perry the Platypus

Caroline Rhea as Mom

Alyson Stoner as Isabella

Mitchell Musso as Jeremy

Maulik Pancholy as Baljeet

Richard O’Brien as Dad

Bobby Gaylor as Buford

Tyler Alexander Mann as Karl

Kelly Hu as Stacy

Olivia Olson as Vanessa

A couple of summers ago in a galaxy far, far away, Phineas and Ferb are happily basking in the glow of Tatooine’s twin suns — until plans for the Death Star accidentally fall into their hands, thrusting them (and Agent P) into a galactic rebellion and an epic struggle of good versus evil in PHINEAS AND FERB: STAR WARS(TM). Will Phineas and Ferb be able to resist the Dark Side? Will Stormtrooper Candace finally bust a Rebel? Can Agent P stop Darthenshmirtz from using his Force-powered “Sith-Inator”? Featuring five additional episodes for over two hours of action-packed fun, this mind-blowing, intergalactic adventure is a blast for all ages. May the Ferb be with you… always.

We have seen special collaborations with the popular animated series “Phineas and Ferb”.  From the 2013 release of “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel” with Marvel Comics characters, for 2014, Disney is showcasing another collaboration with “Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars”.

Set during “Episode IVa: May the Ferb Be With You”, on the desert planet of Tattoine, Phineas and Ferb work as moisture farmers.  Meanwhile, up in space, the Galactic Empire has recently completed the construction of the ultimate weapon known as the Death Star.

But the rebels learned about the Death Star’s plans and they sent out a platypus agent to obtain them, in hopes of trying to find a weakness.  Agent P gives Princess Leia the plans, which are then given to R2D2.

As Stormtrooper Candace discovers the plot of the stolen plans, she and her fellow stormtroopers try to get back the Death Star plans.

Meanwhile, Phineas and Ferb are given a data disc by R2D2 but not knowing how to play the disc, the two head to Mos Eisley and learn about the Death Star.  Knowing that these plans can help the rebel alliance, Phineas and Ferb must do what they can to get the plans to the rebels, before Stormtrooper Candace and her group takes it back.

Will they succeed?  Find out in a special episode of “Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars”!

Also, included are five additional episodes: “For Your Ice Only/Happy New Year!”, “Steampunx/”It’s No Picnic”, “Terrifying Tri-State Trilogy of Terror (Parts 1 and 2)”, “Doof 101/Father’s Day” and “Tales from the Resistance (Parts 1 and 2)”.

What is “Phineas and Ferb”?

Since 2007, “Phineas and Ferb” has been an animated show that has been entertaining children (and also adults) on the Disney Channel with its running gags, interesting and hilarious characters.

With each episode, Phineas and Ferb are both working on a project and each time, their sister Candace is always scheming to finally bust them. Meanwhile, the evil scientist Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz is up to no good and Major Monogram and the secret agent Perry the Platypus (Agent P) are doing all they can to stop Doofenshmirtz.

The main characters of “Phineas and Ferb” are:

  • Phineas Flynn – One of the main protagonist of the show who joins his stepbrother Ferb in various projects.
  • Ferb Fletcher – The intelligent step-brother of Phineas who is from England and although quiet he happens to be an engineering genius. He also has a crush on Vanessa Doofenshmirtz.
  • Candace Flynn – A 15-year-old teen and the older sister of Phineas and step-sister to Ferb. She is always trying to bust her younger brothers. Meanwhile, she is dating Jeremy Johnson.
  • Perry the Platypus – The pet of the Flynn-Fletcher family and is thought of being useless. But the truth is that he is a special agent working for the O.W.C.A. (Organization Without a Cool Acronym) and is constantly battling his nemesis Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
  • Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz – A mad scientist and father of Vanessa Doofenshmirtz. his goal is to take control of the Tri-State area.
  • Isabella Garcia-Shapiro – A friend of Phineas and Ferb and has a crush on Phineas. Also, has skills to help the boys courtesy of her involvement with the Fireside Girls.
  • Major Monogram – The head of the O.W.C.A. and responsible for sending Perry out on missions.
  • Linda Flynn-Fletcher – The mother of Phineas and Candace and step-mother of Ferb.
  • Baljeet Rai – The Indian-American neighbor of Phineas and Ferb and is very smart but constantly bullied by Buford.
  • Buford Van Stomm – Because of his size, he is looked at as a bully but the truth is that he’s a nice kid who tries to act tough.
  • Lawrence Fletcher – Father of Ferb and step-father to Phineas and Candace.
  • Jeremy Johnson – The boyfriend of Candace.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” is presented in widescreen (1:78:1) – enhanced for 16×9 televisions and is presented in English 2.0 Dolby Digital.

Each of the episodes of “Phineas and Ferb” sport vibrant colors and for the most part, picture quality should be fine for the children. If anything, the series is known for its unique character design and for the most part, the animation is quite enjoyable to watch because it’s quite different with the characters and their geometric shaped heads.

Dialogue and music are clear and are heard clearly through the front and center channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” comes with five full length episodes.

EXTRAS:

“Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” comes with a slipcover case. Also, included is a Perry in Carbonite keychain.

In the past few years, thanks to my young son, my wife and I have been following the adventures of “Phineas and Ferb”.

With Marvel and the “Star Wars” franchise now becoming owned by Disney, it has been no surprise to see these special collaborations.  And in 2014, the collaboration with LucasFilm Ltd. has been a positive as we get a beautifully animated special feature featuring the “Phineas and Ferb” characters in the “Star Wars” universe.

While the story was a fascinating take on “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”, seeing the Star Wars universe animated for “Phineas and Ferb” was rather fascinating, especially to see Candace as a Stormtrooper, Darthenshmirtz and seeing Perry encased in carbon was very fun and the attention to detail on the “Star Wars” vehicles and giving their own spin to them was also pretty cool to see as well.

The “Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” episode is your standard 20-minute full-length episode, so in order to bulk up this DVD release, Disney added five full-length episodes.  Episodes that are perfect for the winter holiday but also episodes that will no doubt entertain the children during winter break.

Included are the season four episodes such as “For Your Ice Only” as Phineas and Ferb play hockey with the help of NHL legend Luc Robitaille, Phineas and Ferb planning their own New Year’s Eve ball drop for “Happy New Year!”,

In “Steampunx”, Phineas and Ferb go back in time for the 1903 Danville World’s Fair and for “It’s No Picnic”, Buford and Baljeet get into a food fight.

For “Terrifying Tri-State Trilogy of Terror”, the two part episode is a three part tale.  Candace turns her Ducky Momo plushie into a living and breathing doll that stalks her, Dr. Doofenshmirtz discovers a giant floating baby head that grants cursed wishes and Phineas and Ferb must stop the evil platypuses.

In “Doof 101”, Dr. Doofenshmirtz gets punished with community service for being evil.  In “Father’s Day”, Perry tries to help Doof retrieve his father’s old lawn gnome.

And in “Tales from the Resistance”, the two part tale features the aftermath of the “Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension” and a new threat emerges from the 2nd Dimension.

Overall, “Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” is a magnificent release that children and the young at heart will enjoy.  You get a fantastic “Star Wars” episode, five full length episodes and also a Perry-in-Carbonite keychain!  All for a great price and just in time for the winter holiday!

Recommended!


Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

clonewars-lostmission

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” ends its run on a positive note. Sure, “The Lost Missions” did not air on television but for loyal followers of the series, the final season featured 13 captivating and highly entertaining episodes that actually gives us more insight going into “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”. You get a mix of comedy, drama and plenty of action with this final sixth season and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” fans should be content with “The Lost Missions”. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions

TV AIRDATE: 2014

DURATION: 287 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: LucasFilm Ltd.

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: November 11, 2014

Directed by  Steward Lee, Kyle Dunlevy, Brian O’Connell, Danny Keller, Bosco Ng, Dave Filoni

Written by Daniel Arkin, George Lucas, Katie Lucas, Christian Taylor

Produced by Cary Silver

 Line Producer: Athena Yvette Portillo

Executive Producer: George Lucas

Music by Kevin Kiner

Edited by Jason Tucker

Casting by Jenn Berry

Featuring the voices of:

Tom Kane as the Narrator

Dee Bradley Baker as Clone Troopers

Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker

James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Corey Burton as Count Dooku

Matthew Wood as Battle Droids

Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano

Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson as Mace Windu

Catherine Taber as Padme Amidala

Ian Abercrombie as Chancellor Palpatine

Stephen Stanton as Mas Amedda

Phil LaMarr as Bail Organa

Brian George as Ki-Adi-Mundi

Robin Atkin Downes as Rush Clovis

Jaime King as Aurra Sing

Against a backdrop of ever-shifting loyalties, uneasy alliances and ancient hostilities, the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists ramps up, setting the stage for Darth Sidious’ ultimate act of treachery against the Jedi. In these uncertain times, some of the deepest mysteries of the light and dark sides of the Force are revealed as an intrepid clone trooper uncovers a shocking conspiracy, Anakin Skywalker’s closest relationship is tested to its limits, and Master Yoda makes a discovery that could forever change the balance of power in the galaxy. Complete your collection and experience all the wonder, intrigue, action and suspense of THE LOST MISSIONS in 13 must-own episodes — plus a Behind-The-Scenes Documentary

After the 2D 2003 animated TV series “Star Wars: Clone Wars”, the series would usher in a new 3D CGI animated television series with the same title and produced by Lucasfilm Animation and created by Lucasfilm Animation Singapore.

Originally planned for five seasons, from its first air date back in 2008 with season one and by 2013, the series would be canceled and any produced episodes would be “bonus content”.

But as “Star Wars: Clone Wars” still had a good number of episodes that have yet to be aired, the unaired final episodes as part of season six, which would be the final season, and would be streamed on Netflix in 2014.

And now, the unaired episodes of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions” will be released on Blu-ray in November 2014 courtesy of LucasFilm Ltd.

For those not familiar with “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, the episodes take place during the three-year interim between “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”.

In “Lost Missions”, the season is broken down into four arcs.

The first arc is written by Katie Lucas and revolves around Clone Trooper Tup suffering a neurological disorder and killing a Jedi Master.

Not knowing if Tup was reprogrammed by the Separatists, his condition begins to worsen and ARC Trooper Fives can’t figure out what has happened to Clone Trooper Tup and so, he along with his droid begin their investigation and finding out why Tup would try to kill a Jedi Master.

The second arc is written by Christian Taylor and revolves around Padme Amidala’s ex-boyfriend Rush Clovis asking for his help but also, him wanting to rekindle any romance with Padme.  But because Padme and Anakin’s marriage is still being kept as a secret, Anakin is having a difficult time trying to hide his jealous feelings, prompting Obi-Wan to wonder why his padiwan is reacting with anger.  And the more the jealousy builds, it begins to put more tension on he and Padme’s secret marriage.

The third arc is written by Jonathan W. Rinzler and revolves around Senate Representative Jar Jar Binks and Jedi Master Mace Windu investigating on the disappearance of spiritual leaders in the peaceful world of Bardotta.

The fourth and final arc centers around Yoda.  Yoda begins to hear the voice of his deceased friend, Qui-Gon Jinn and worries because it is not possible for a Jedi to speak to the living from beyond the grave.  He becomes forgetful and it starts to worry members of the Jedi Council.  But when Yoda is guided by the Force, what will he discover?

VIDEO:

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions” is presented in 1080p (2:35:1 aspect ratio).  One thing that is evident with each season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is how the series begins to gradually look better and better as better CGI technology is implemented and with the final sixth season, picture quality is crisp, detailed and vibrant.

There is a hint of banding and macroblocking but for the most part, picture quality is very good, lighting effects are also fantastic but it’s the overall detail of the characters that look very good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions” is presented in English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1.  While the series is not in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the dialogue is crystal clear and the sound effects and the battle sound effects are also crisp and clear and utilize the surround channels effectively, especially the rear surround channels.   The series also employs LFE during the more action-based sequences.  And like previous volumes, the series continues to be immersive.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions” comes with the following special features:

  • The Clone Wars Declassified – (16:02) A featurette about the creation of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” back in 2005 and the conclusion of the series in 2014.
  • Story Reel: Utapau Arc – (1:31:13) Featuring four story reels created for the production crew that had to be reviewed by George Lucas and Dave Filoni.  Note: The CG is not fully rendered but is animated.

EXTRAS:

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions” comes with a slipcover and a Disney Movie Rewards code.

With a new Star Wars animated series (“Star Wars Rebels”) airing on television, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” may not have had the proper send-off on air but the crew no doubt saved the best story for last with “Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions”.

Questions of how the Storm Troopers could easily become evil after fighting with the Jedi Masters begins with the sixth season of “The Lost Missions” and  we also get an interesting storyline in regards to Padme and Luke Skywalker’s secret marriage and slow building anger that begins grow within Anakin Skywalker.  And of course, the continuing story from season five in relation to Rush Clovis but to see Anakin and Padme’s marriage tested, was rather entertaining.

While I’m not a Jar Jar Binks fans, for those wondering when the character would return, have gotten their wish as we get a humorous but also action-packed arc with Jar Jar and Jedi Master Mace Windhu.

But possibly the most fascinating arc revolves around Yoda and the questions answered is something that would become part of Yoda for many more years to come.

But this sixth season is well-written, well-animated and is a wonderful goodbye to the series.  Granted, if given a longer season, it would have been interesting to see what else writers would have come up with.  But for these 13 episodes alone, I was quite content with the four arcs presented.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good and with each season of the series, the animators tend to up the notch of overall character and environment design.  The animation was beautiful for “The Lost Missions” and its Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was crystal clear and immersive.

As for special features, you get a featurette featuring the crew on saying goodbye to the animated series which was a big part of their lives for nearly a decade.  Also, included is a four-part never before broadcast story reel of the Utapau Arc.

For parents wondering if they should purchase this for their children, it’s important to note that the series is TV PG due to its violence.  There are a few creepy characters but for the most part, if your children has already watched the films or previous seasons, I doubt they would be scared of what they see in season six.  Otherwise, the series is TV PG because of the violence featured in each episode.

Overall, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” ends its run on a positive note.  Sure, “The Lost Missions” did not air on television but for loyal followers of the series, the final season featured 13 captivating and highly entertaining episodes that actually gives us more insight going into “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”.  You get a mix of comedy, drama and plenty of action with this final sixth season and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” fans should be content with “The Lost Missions”.

Recommended!

The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

legendofkorra-b2

“The Legend of Korra” is one of the best animated series on television and the writing and animation has gotten better for “The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits”. The series looks and sounds so much better in HD and the additional featurettes plus audio commentary on each episode featuring the creators and the crew makes this series worth owning on Blu-ray! “The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” is highly recommended. Five stars!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits

YEAR: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-14 Minutes (330 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 2.0 Stereo

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Viacom/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: July 1, 2014

Directed by Ian Graham, Colin Heck

Written by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Joshua Hamilton, Tim Hedrick

Produced by Tim Yoon

Music by Jeremy Zuckerman

Casting by Shannon Reed

Art Direction by Joaquim Dos Santos, Bryan Konietzko, Ki Hyun Ryu

Featuring the following voice talent:

Janet Varney as Korra

Dee Bradley Baker as Various Voices

David Faustino as Mako

P.J. Byrne as Bolin

J.K. Simmons as Tenzin

Jeff Bennett as Radio Braodcaster

Seychelle Gabriel as Asami Sato

Steve Blum as Amon

Darcy Rose Byrnes as Ikki

Mindy Sterling as Lin Beifong

Logan Wells as Meelo

Lance Henriksen as Lieutenant

Kiernan Shipka as Jinora

Richard Riehle as Bumi

Adrian LaTourelle as Unalaq

Lisa Edestein as Kya

Aubrey Plaza as Eska

Aaron Himelstein as Desna

Maria Bamford as Pema

John Michael Higgins as Varrick

Steve Blum as Amon

James Remar as Tonraq

Jonathan Adams as Vaatu

Korra and Team Avatar embark on a new journey deep into the mythology of the mystical Spirit World, encountering creatures like nothing they’ve seen before and discovering the truth about the very first Avatar!

With a battle for the fate of the world between the light and dark spirits Raava and Vaatu fast approaching, Korra delves deeper into the Avatar’s past and realizes what she must do in order to restore balance between the physical and spirit worlds.

Six months after the events of “Book One: Air”, Korra believes she is a master of airbending, Mako works as a police officer, Asami is trying to keep the fledgling and cash strapped Future Industries afloat.  But after certain events, Korra leaves her training with Uncle Tenzin and joins her uncle, tribal chief Unalaq, who will now be her main mentor.

But as the two travel to the South Pole for training, she learns more about her father Tonraq and his banishment from the Northern Water Tribe.  But as Korra steps into a new life where tensions between the Southern and Northern Water Tribe is at an all time high and wanting to ask the Fire Nation for support, life takes an unexpected turn as Korra faces personal challenges but also a new nemesis who is intent in destroying the world.

Will Korra rise to the occasion and defeat her most powerful enemy yet?

Find out in “The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” available now on Blu-ray and DVD!

What is “The Legend of Korra” about?

From Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of the popular Nickelodeon animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, comes the sequel to the series titled “The Legend of Korra”.

Originally planned as a 12-episode mini-series, “The Legend of Korra” was greenlit for a total of 52-episodes (four seasons) for a total of four books with 12-14 episodes each.

The first season known as “Book One: Air” features animation from Korea’s Studio Mir and the series would receive critical acclaim and also drawing an average of 4.3 million viewers, having the highest audience total for an animated series in the U.S. for 2012.

And now “The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in July 2013.

“The Legend of Korra” is set 70-years in the future after the events of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and how the world was brought into peace. The world which features the four nations which include the Water Tribes, the Air Nomads, the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation have people trained to “Bend” the element that they are associated with their nation (so, a person can bend water, earth, fire or air).

But for Korra of the Southern Water Tribe, at 4-years-old, she was able to bend fire and earth and thus was trained to become the Avatar to the Order of the White Lotus. Now at 17-years-old, she can “bend” water, earth and fire but yet is unable to “air-bend”.

She is to be trained to “air-bend” from Tenzin, the youngest child of Aang (the last airbender and the protagonist of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”) and Katara (the water bender from the Southern Water Tribe who was the first to discover Aang and free him from an iceberg – episode 1 of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”) but the problem is that Republic City has become unstable and Tenzin will not be able to stay in the Southern Water Tribe to train her and must leave.

Upset that Tenzin won’t train her , Korra who feels that because she can bend three elements, she’s powerful enough and wants to see the world and perhaps Tenzin may train her in Republic City. Master Katara (who is also Tenzin’s mother) accepts Korra’s reasoning and allows her to go to Republic City alone.

But immediately when Korra arrives in the Republic City, trying to save people from a bending gang, she is arrested by Republic City’s metalbending police force and immediately is not well-liked by the police chief Lin Beifong (daughter of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” character Toph Beifong), but to her aid comes Tenzin who takes her in. To ease tensions, it is revealed to the media that the Avatar, Korra is staying in the city and for Korra, she tells everyone that her goal is to protect the people of Republic City.

Meanwhile, something ominous is happening in the city as a mysterious masked man named Amon who leads the Equalists (non-benders) and their goal is to bring equality between the benders and the non-benders. But Amon has shown that he has some power to eliminate one’s bending abilities.

For “Book Two: Spirits”, the storyline is set six months after the events in the season final of “Book One: Air”.

Korra is now being trained by her uncle, Unalaq and has discovered that restless spirits have been terrorizing the south seas.  And she needs to find the way to calm the dark spirits.

But as she and her father Tonraq goes to the area of the Water Tribes, she discovers something ominous and one who is trying to merge with the dark spirit known as Vaatu in order to become the Dark Avater.

But will Korra have what it takes to calm the Dark Spirits and face the Dark Avatar?

The main characters of “The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” are:

  • Korra – A 17-year-old girl who has mastered fire, earth and water but not wind-bending. She is the successor of Aang and thus was kept hidden in order to protect her. But because of her temper and rebellious side, she tends to do things on her own pace, even though it may get her into a lot of trouble. In Book Two: Spirits, despite having more control of her airbending abilities, she will be put to the test when she comes across a new enemy intent on destroying the world.
  • Mako – A firebender and member of the Fire Ferrets bending team. He is a firebender that came from the streets, he is seen as a dark individual. He is dating Asami Sato, daughter of the wealthy industrialist Hiroshi Sato but also is attracted to Korra.   In Book Two: Spirits, he is Korra’s boyfriend and is a police officer.
  • Bolin – The younger brother of Mako who is an earth bender and is lighthearted, gullible and humorous. The opposite of his brother.
  • Asami Sato – Mako’s ex-girlfriend and the daughter of Hiroshi Sato, the wealthy industrialist. She loves Mako but is jealous of Korra, because of the attention he tends to give to her.  In Book Two: Spirits, she is now responsible for keeping Future Industries afloat and restore the corporation’s reputation.
  • Master Tenzin – The youngest son of Aang and Katara. He tries to fulfill his father’s wishes and was assigned to train Korra in air bending.
  • Republic City police chief Lin Beilong – A former girlfriend of Tenzin and the daughter of Toph Beiphong. She is very strict when it comes to honoring the laws of the land and it puts her in odds with Korra.  She is brave and loyal.
  • Pema – Tenzin’s caring wife and mother of Jinora, Ikki, Meelo and Rohan, who are young children training to become air benders.
  • Tonraq – The father of Korra and a waterbending master and older brother of Unalaq.  He had kept his past secret from Korra.
  • Unalaq – The uncle of Korra and waterbending master.  He was the chief of the Northern and Southern Water Tribe.  He is now responsible for training Korra.
  • Raava – The spirit of peace and light.
  • Vaatu – The spirit of chaos and darkness in thew orld.

VIDEO:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” is presented in 1080p High Definition and my thoughts in watching the series is how impressive the character designs, the detail and shading of the characters and how breathtaking the background art is for the series, as well as the mechanical design. The series is vibrant and colorful, I didn’t see any artifacts or any problematic issues during my view of the 14-episodes. If anything, fans of the series will be thrilled of how beautiful “The Legend of Korra” looks in HD and Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot has done an amazing job for this second season!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 2.0 Stereo. The lossless soundtrack for “The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” sounds fantastic. Action scenes come alive and utilizes the surround channels very well, especially for environment ambiance.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear!

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – All 14 episodes of “The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” features audio commentary by the creators and crew.  The majority of the commentary features creator and executive producers Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, co-executive producer Joaquin Dos Santos and the following crew participate in a few episodes of commentary: Writers Tim Hedrick, Josh Hamilton, Track Team Music sound designers Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn, supervising producers Laura Montgomery and Ki Hyun Ryu, Director Ian Graham and Colin Heck.
  • Scene Bending – Each episode has a 5+ minute comparison of storyboards and final cut animation comparisons.
  • Kindred Spirits: Tenzin Journey – (5:16) The pressure on the character of Tenzin and his focus on “Book Two: Spirits” as a father and his relationship with his siblings.
  • Inside the Book of Spirits – (9:09) The planning that went on about the spirits and the spirit world.
  • The re-telling of Korra’s Journey – (33:42) A special episode showcasing Korra’s journey (culmination of scenes from Book One: Air) and a primer for those who want to be kept up to speed before watching “Book Two: Spirits”.
  • Feuding Spirits: Korra’s Family – (5:07) Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko discuss Korra’s parents.  (NOTE: Do not watch before watching the series as this featurette contains many spoilers)

EXTRAS:

“The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” comes with a slipcover.

With the second season (book) of “The Legend of Korra”, we get to experience the family perspective of both Korra and Tenzin.

For Korra, the dysfunctional relationship she has with her father but also facing the difficult of making hard decisions because she is the Avatar.  While, Tenzin who has faced the difficulty of being the son of Aang and teaching Korra, now having to go back home and be a father to his young children and to be there for his siblings but always worrying about Korra and the path that she has chosen.

Also, with the second season, we see production at all new heights creatively, artistically and also the writing continuing to be top notch.

As a fan of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, for anyone who watched the series, you can’t help but to become excited for “The Legend of Korra” and to see how much of the world has changed since Aang and friends have literally changed the world. Also, to see how much the series will change in terms of characters, tone and also in terms of how the series would look compared to the original series.

I realize that for sequels, it’s not always easy for the creators to come up with another hit as many who grew up with the original, tend to be stuck with the original. But sometimes, you get something different and sometimes something even better.

And so far, from the fans perspective, both Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have proven that they can make smart, captivating animated series that can attract people of all ages.

With “The Legend of Korra”, is it better than “Avatar: The Last Airbender”? Well, for one, these two are two different series and features characters of different age groups.

Part of the allure of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is the naivety of young Aang, Katara, Sokka and friends. Innocent kids who tend to grow up quickly due to their surroundings. And there is always a sense of a cat and mouse storyline as they are in continually pursued by the Fire Nation.

For “The Legend of Korra”, Korra is somewhat the opposite of Aang. She has a hot-temper, she is rebellious and she is not as friendly and humorous as Aang. If anything, she’s a person that tends to do things impulsively, learns from her actions and as much as she wants to do things for the greater good, she tends to do things at her own pace.

Fortunately, she is joined by a supporting cast of people who also tend to get themselves into a bit of trouble but also are doing things for the greater good. With “Book Two: Spirits”, part of the excitement is seeing Korra in a new direction, getting to know her family but also facing the ultimate betrayal.  Making difficult decisions that will not always be popular and also having to watch the original Avatar, Wan in action.

The series had its fair share of exciting episodes but I have to say that the two episodes, “Beginnings, Part 1 & 2” featuring Wan, the first Avatar was amazing.  Yes, Japan has its share of animated dramas, but the United States, has more animated comedy for mature viewers and these two episodes alone, were creatively/artistically beautiful in illustration but also in story.  It’s like traditional art coming alive in animation, and I loved that.

Of course, every other episode featuring Korra and friends were just as exciting.  The way that “The Legend of Korra” is able to tack spiritualism, secularism, politics and creating a smart series but yet not too cerebral for viewers to understand and enjoy is incredible and not an easy feat.

Animation-wise, the character designs and the art backgrounds for this series is magnificent. I love the character designs for Korra and friends but also the antagonists. The art backgrounds compliment the entire series and the action elements are smooth and well-done.

On Blu-ray, the animation is absolutely vibrant while lossless audio for the series including its music is crystal clear.  And as for special features, every episode has audio commentary, you get scene bending featurettes for each episode (comparison of storyboards and final cut), featurettes and also “The Re-telling of Korra’s Journey”, for those who want to be up to speed of what happened in the series prior to watching “Book Two: Spirits”.  (Note: The Blu-ray has more special features than its DVD counterpart)

As “Avatar: The Last Airbender” did over a decade ago by becoming an animated series that had a storyline and animation as good as anime series are in Japan, “The Legend of Korra” continued the quality a decade later. There is not many series in America that have this level of production and “The Legend of Korra” is one of the better looking animated series currently airing on television.

Every episode featured is captivating, edgy and action-packed! I reviewed this series and watched it along with my ten-year-old son and we were both hooked. It’s a wonderful series and while I always enjoy “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, its characters and storyline, rather than compare the two, I prefer to see this series as something different. The series of course has the connection of bending and a connection between its characters and its descendants but times have changed and the world has changed in the last 70-years and the characters reflect that change.

Overall, “The Legend of Korra” is one of the best animated series on television and the writing and animation has gotten better for “The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits”. The series looks and sounds so much better in HD and the additional featurettes plus audio commentary on each episode featuring the creators and the crew makes this series worth owning on Blu-ray!

“The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits” is highly recommended. Five stars!

Next Page »

Bottom