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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

September 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For fans of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and have the equipment to play 4K Ultra HD films, then definitely upgrade to this 4K Ultra HD 35th Anniversary release.  The film looks and sounds better than ever and I highly recommend Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on 4K Ultra HD.

Images courtesy of © 1982 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1982

DURATION: 1 Hr. and 55 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition, English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

COMPANY: Universal

RATED: PG

RELEASE DATE: September 12, 2017


Directed by Steven Spielberg

Screenplay by Melissa Mathison

Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

Associate Producer:  Melissa Mathison

Music by John Williams

Cinematography by Allen Daviau

Edited by Carol Littleton

Casting by Jane Feinberg, Mike Fenton, Marci Liroff

Production Design by James D. Bissell

Set Decoration by Jackie Carr

Costume Design by Kurt and Bart


Starring:

Dee Wallace as Mary

Henry Thomas as Elliott

Peter Coyote as Keys

Robert MacNaughton as Michael

Drew Barrymore as Gertie

K.C. Martel as Greg

Sean Frye as Steve

C. Thomas Howell as Tyler

Erika Eleniak as Pretty Girl


Relive the adventure and magic in one of the most beloved motion pictures of all-time, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, from Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg. Captivating audiences of all ages, this timeless story follows the unforgettable journey of a lost alien and the 10-year-old boy he befriends. Join Elliot (Henry Thomas), Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and Michael (Robert MacNaughton) as they come together to help E.T. find his way back home, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is “one of the great American films” (Leonard Maltin) that forever belongs in the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere.


As the film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” celebrates its 35th anniversary this year and 2017 features the film’s debut on 4K Ultra HD.

There is no denying how beloved this film is.  A personal film created and directed by Steven Spielberg, the concept came from his imaginary friend that he had after his parents divorce in 1960.  He and writer Melissa Mathison would eventually develop the film and with a budget of $10.5 million, the film would become the highest-grossing film of all time for eleven years until Spielberg topped it in 1993 with his film “Jurassic Park”.

But “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is well-known for everyone going out to watch the film, critics praised the film and for “Star Wars” fans, remembering that “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” would overthrow the film as the highest-grossing film but yet paying a homage to the film by featuring the toys in the film.

The film would launch Steven Spielberg’s career, it would also launch the careers of young Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore, but also would featuring up-and-coming talent with C. Thomas Howell and Erika Eleniak. While talents Dee Wallace and Peter Coyote had established careers, their careers would no doubt receive a boost from “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”.  And for producer Kathleen Kennedy, it was a beginning of what would become a string of consecutive high-grossing films in her producing oeuvre.

Considered by many as the greatest film ever made, in 1994, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The film was re-released in 1985, would have a 20th Anniversary release in 2002 which featured a new premiere and a reunion of the cast and it’s first release on DVD.  And here we are in 2017 as the film will be celebrating it’s 35th Anniversary and the film makes its debut on 4K Ultra HD.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” begins with alien botanists landing in a forest in California.  As they are obtaining plant samples, government agents arrive on scene and as the aliens flee in their spaceship, one is left behind.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to a ten-year-old boy named Elliott (portrayed by Henry Thomas) who is trying to fit in with his brother Michael (portrayed by Robert MacNaughton) and his friends, but also living with his recently-separated mother Mary (portrayed by Dee Wallace) and his younger sister Gertie (portrayed by Drew Barrymore).

As Elliott goes outside to meet with the pizza delivery person and get pizza for his brother’s party, he hears a noise inside the shed.  As he throws a baseball towards the shed, someone throws the ball back at him.

Freaking out, he runs inside telling everyone something is in the shed.  And when Michael and his friends go to check, they see footprints and suspect a coyote.

As Elliott doesn’t believe it’s a coyote and thinks it may be a goblin, he is made fun of by Michael and his friends.

This leads Elliott to do a test by placing Reese’s Pieces candy to see if he can lure whatever it maybe to his home and sure enough, he is able to lure an alien to his home.

Elliott eventually introduces Michael and also Gertie to the alien and they decide to keep it hidden from their mother.

The alien which they name E.T. is an intelligent life form that learns from the humans and tries to show them where he lives by levitating balls and also he revives a dead chrysanthemum.

It’s not long after, Elliott and E.T. begin to share a psychic connection.  Meanwhile, government agents start to do research around the forest and find Reese’s Pieces and are thinking that the alien was lured to a nearby neighborhood.  And start to use listening devices to hear any conversations that may be going on the neighborhood to see if someone had lured the alien to their home.

Meanwhile, the longer E.T. stays in Earth, Michael starts to notice that E.T. is getting sick and after seeing a comic strip featuring Buck Rogers, E.T. sees how humans are able to have devices to call home and E.T. tries to find ways to make a device to communicate with his fellow aliens to come back and retrieve him on Earth.

But as E.T. is getting sicker and the government agents are nearby, what will happen to both E.T.and Elliott, who is showing signs of being sick like E.T. as they both share a psychic connection.


VIDEO:

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” receives its first 4K Ultra HD K Ultra HD release and is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition. The film is presented in 2160p UD HDR 10 Widescreen 1:85:1.

Having watched this film on DVD upon its first release and then on Blu-ray, I can easily say that the 4K Ultra HD is fantastic.  For the most part, the film doesn’t even seem ’80s because the resolution is so great.  But during the scenes with visual effects (such as Elliot and E.T. bike scene on air), the technology of its time does show its age in that moment.  Bu for the most part, this is the best version of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” that I have seen to date!

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 (Category 2) Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio quality is equally impressive. Featured in English DTS-X Immersive Audio, Brazilian, Portuguese, French European, Japanese, L.A. Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1 and English, Japanese DTS Digital Surround 2.0.

The film has a blend of crystal clear dialogue and the musical score by John Williams is spectacular!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Brazilian, Portuguese, Complex Mandarin, French Canadian, Japanese and L.A. Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” comes with the following special features (on the Blu-ray Disc):

  • Deleted Scenes – (3:37) Deleted scenes from the film.
  • Steen Spielberg & E.T. – (12:31) Steven Spielberg discusses how he created E.T. and how he came up with the concept of the film.
  • The E.T. Journals – (53:37) A two-part documentary on the making of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” back in 1981.
  • A Look Back – (37:43) A look back during the film of “E.T.” with behind-the-scenes footage and also interviews with cast and crew.
  • The Evolution and Creation of E.T. – (50:13) A featurette on the making of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”
  • The E.T. Reunion – (17:55) The 20th Anniversary Reunion with Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, K.C. Martel, Peter Coyote, Steven Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy.
  • The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams – (10:03) A featurette with John Williams on creating the music for “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”.
  • The 20th Anniversary Premiere – (17:49) A featurette of planning the 20th Anniversary Premiere with a live orchestra conducted by John Williams and setting up the stage at the Shrine Auditorium.
  • Designs, Photographs and Marketing – Featuring E.T. designs by production illustrator Ed Verreaux, E.T. Designs by Carla Rambaldi, Spaceship Designs by Ralph McQuarrie, Designs by Production Illustrator Ed Verreaux, Production Photographs and Marketing E.T.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Special Olympics TV Spot

EXTRAS:

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I grew up during the time “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” was released in theaters.  I can easily remember going to my uncle’s wedding in Reno, Nevada and hearing the news on the radio of how the film became the highest-grossing film of all time.

But the “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” madness didn’t end there, I purchased an Atari game which was supposed to be based on the film that frustrated me to no end and I also had a life-size E.T. toy chest, which my brother and I would use to scare my little sister when she was misbehaving.

I have to admit that I was indifferent towards the film, a little bit bitter as the film would kick “Star Wars” out of the top spot of highest-grossing films of all time.  But yet, each time I watched the film, I could see it’s charm, I could see why it attracted people to want to watch it many times.

And as I got older, I watched the film and appreciated it even more.  Especially when I first introduced the film to my child and he got to watch it and enjoy it.

And having watched this film many times, here I am reviewing it for the 35th anniversary release on 4K Ultra HD.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is a film that captivates you.  A young boy who meets his first true friend and having to lose that friend.  A sci-fi film which government agents want to capture the alien and learn from it.  An action film as the children do whatever they can to protect their sick friend.  And the fact that the child actors believed E.T. to not be a puppet but like a living being, is what sold the film to audiences.

And even back for the film’s 20th Anniversary, the cast talked honestly about how they never thought about E.T. as a puppet but as an actual thing that was truly alive and that was quite fascinating.

It’s a film that moved audiences, a film that moved President Reagan and his wife, a film that moved Princess Diana and it was a film that was no doubt a masterpiece by Steven Spielberg who would go on to make many more wonderful films in his long oeuvre.

And it’s a film that will no doubt stand the test of time with a new generation of moviegoers.

Now there are a few things I must discuss, for those who owned the 20th Anniversary version which had both the theatrical and the 20th Anniversary Extended Version of the film.  The 2002 version digitally removed the guns used by government agents with walkie talkies (towards the end of the film).

In 2011, Steven Spielberg made it clear that there will be no more digital enhancements and perhaps he learned by fan backlash of the George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” trilogy and also backlash from critics and also ridiculed in a “South Park” episode, no doubt Spielberg learned a lesson.  He has made it clear that he wants people to watch the original 1982 version and sure enough, with the 4K Ultra HD release, you are getting the 1982 film and yes, the agents have their guns.  And no, the 2002 version is not included.  So, if you like that version, keep (or find) that 2002 20th Anniversary DVD release.

As far as the 4K Ultra HD version is concerned, this is the best version I have seen of this film to date.  While created in 1982, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on 4K Ultra HD doesn’t even look its age.  It looks almost recent, aside from when the bike flying scene is shown, that is the only time where old technology and 4K Ultra HD tends to show the aging visual effects of its time.  But other than that, everything else about this film looks great in 4K!  The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue especially crystal clear music from John Williams.  And last, all the 20th Anniversary special features from the DVD are included in this release and more.

Overall, for fans of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and have the equipment to play 4K Ultra HD films, then definitely upgrade to this 4K Ultra HD 35th Anniversary release.  The film looks and sounds better than ever and I highly recommend Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on 4K Ultra HD.

Charlie’s Angels (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The 2000 film “Charlie’s Angels” was a box office success and also brought the fun, sexy and kitschy elements of the TV series to the big screen.  If you were a big fan of the film, then you will probably enjoy the vibrant colors displayed on HD and also how much better the film sounds via lossless.

Images courtesy of © 2000 Global Entertainment Productions GmbH & Co. Movie KG. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Charlie’s Angels

DURATION: 98 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures

RATED: PG-13 (For Action, Violence, Innuendo and Some Sensual/Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: August 3, 2010

Based on the TV series by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts

Directed by McG

Written by Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon, John August

Executive Producer: Joseph M. Caracciolo, Aaron Spelling, Betty Thomas, Jenno Topping

Producer: Drew Barrymore, Leonard Goldberg, Nancy Juvoven

Music by Ed Shearmur

Cinematography by Russell Carpenter

Edited by Peter Teschner, Wayne Wahrman

Casting by Justine Baddeley, Kim Davis

Production Design by J. Michael Riva

Art Direction by David F. Klassen, Richard F. Mays

Set Decoration by Lauri Gaffin

Costume Design by Joseph G. Aulisi

Starring:

Cameron Diaz as Natalie Cook

Drew Barrymore as Dylan Sanders

Lucy Liu as Alex Munday

Bill Murray as John Bosley

Sam Rockwell as Eric Knox

Kelly Lynch as Vivian Wood

Tim Curry as Roger Corwin

Crispin Glover as Thin Man

Matt LeBlanc as Jason Gibbons

LL Cool J as Mr. Jones

Tom Green as Chad

Luke Wilson as Pete Komisky

Sean Whalen as Pasqual

Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu star as the captivating crime-fighting trio who are masters of disguise, espionage and martial arts. When a devious mastermind embroils them in a plot to destroy individual privacy, the Angels, aided by their loyal sidekick Bosley (Bill Murray), set out to bring down the bad guys. But when a terrible secret is revealed, it makes the Angels targets for assassination.

Trailer

Long before director McG directed films such as “Terminator Salvation” and “We are Marshall” and before he would be executive producer for TV Shows such as “The O.C.”, “The Mountain” and “Fastlane”, McG was known for directing music videos for bands like Sublime and Korn.

But every director has their first start and for McG, his first theatrical debut was the 2000 film “Charlie’s Angels” based on the Aaron Spelling produced  ’70’s television show showcasing sexy women taking on various disguises in order to defeat crime while following their mystery boss Charlie.  Known for boosting the careers of Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, Cheryl Ladd and many more women who took part in the show from 1976-1981.

Featuring actresses Cameron Diaz as Natalie Cook, Drew Barrymore as Dylan Sanders and Lucy Liu as Alex Munday, the three take on crime alongside Charlie’s assistant Bosley (played by Bill Murray), the three take on their latest mission to find the software genius Eric Knox (played by Sam Rockwell) who may have been kidnapped by Redstar owner Roger Corwin (played by Tim Curry).

While Bosley tries to get information from Corwin in regards to the whereabouts of Knox, the women follow the lead of going after a man who was was seen on surveillance videos ford kidnapping Knox, a man known as Thin Man (played by Crispin Glover).

Featuring action, sexiness, a variety of disguises and hair tossing, “Charlie’s Angels”, the film version continues the tradition of the popular TV shown for modern viewers and was a box office success earning over $264 million worldwide.

VIDEO:

“Charlie’s Angels” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  For anyone who remembers this film, because there were so many mini-segments, there were many times the film would emphasize reds, blues, blacks and for the most part, the HD presentation shows off the vibrant colors on Blu-ray.  Contrast levels are well-done, colors really pop, blacks are nice and deep and there is a good amount of grain.

The film definitely delivered when it came to set design, costume design and it helps that McG worked with a talented cinematographer, Russell Carpenter, who worked on films such as “Titanic” and “The Negotiator”.  This is a film that required various styles of footage and it helps to have an experienced cinematographer behind the camera.

If anything, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has proven to us within these past two years that they can take these past films and really make them shine on Blu-ray visually (and also via lossless audio).  Definitely a major improvement compared to its original DVD counterpart.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Charlie’s Angels” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.   The film definitely shines via lossless from the opening scene with the jet flying and the engines coming from the surround channels and also hearing it via LFE to the battle with Thin Man and hearing the fight sequences, steel against steel, windows crashing and hearing them quite nicely through the surround channels.  Dialogue is clear through the center channel and the film does sport a lot of contemporary music and may it be from Destiny’s Child to Blink-182, good amount of music as well.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Charlie’s Angels” comes with the following special features (in standard definition, English Stereo and subtitles in Spanish and Portuguese):

  • Blu-ray exclusive movieIQ®+sync
  • Commentary with Director McG and Cinematographer Russell Carpenter – An interesting commentary to listen to McG about his first major film and how it helped to work with an experienced cinematographer.
  • Deleted Scenes – (4:42) Featuring three deleted scenes: Marco Polo!, The Men’s Room Extended, Extra Shake & Bake
  • Outtakes & Bloopers – (2:39) Outtakes from “Charlie’s Angels” that were seen at the ending credits.
  • Getting G’d Up – (6:32) An in-depth profile of Director McG and McG behind-the-scenes.  Film staff and talent talk about how they love working with McG and how energetic he is.
  • The Master and the Angels – (7:25) A look behind the martial arts and stunts in the movie and working with world renown Cheung-yan Yuen and how much training the main talents had to go through to prepare for the film.
  • Welcome to Angel World – (4:48) A behind-the-scenes look at the film’s set design with production designer J. Michael Riva.
  • Angelic Attire: Dressing Cameron, Drew and Lucy – (3:25) Costume Designer Joseph G. Aulisi discusses the costumes for the film and how he styled each angel.
  • Angelic Effects – (6:45) A discussion of the exciting special effects used throughout the film’s production.
  • Wired Angels – (2:35) A scene deconstruction of the Chinese Alley scene and the wiring work used during filming
  • Music Videos – Featuring  “Independent Women Part 1” by Destiny’s Child and  “Charlie’s Angels 2000” by Apollo Four Forty.

“Charlie’s Angels” is one of those films that you don’t take seriously and like the television series, you know it’s going to be a bit kitschy but with three sexy women kicking ass, you just sit back and enjoy no matter how crazy the film may get and hopefully, you find something fun or entertaining about it.

If anything, “Charlie’s Angels” is one of those films which is a straight-up action popcorn flick.   A film that you just don’t come in and watch it with any high expectations and if there were any expectations, probably from those who watched the original TV series and wonder how the Angels and their sexiness would be displayed on the big screen.

Yes, you’re going to see Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu in tight outfits, outfits that showcase cleavage and quite a bit of hair tossing but of course, you’re going to get a lot of action and in this case, with the film utilizing world renown Cheung-yan Yuen (who was involved in major martial arts films with Jackie Chan and also the “Matrix” films) for the fighting sequences and putting these women through difficult training prior to the making of the film, the fight sequences were done very well.

Also, you can’t help but be amazed by costume and set design for the film.  With every individual sequence created for each of the women, various costumes and disguises they had to wear, director McG and staff really went all out in making “Charlie’s Angels” a fun, visual film.

With that being said, if one owns the DVD, is “Charlie’s Angels” on Blu-ray worth it?  If you enjoyed the film, then the improved visuals and the lossless audio would make things worth it.  The special features are the same standard definition features that were included on the original DVD and although I have read that there were two Easter Eggs (which were part of the original DVD) included, I’ve tried many ways to figure where it would be in the Blu-ray version to no avail.

But what it comes down to is one’s enjoyment of “Charlie’s Angels”.  Watching it again, I have to admit that I wasn’t really getting into this time around and the watching it again, I admit I was even questioning myself of why I even enjoyed this film back then.  Yes, the plot was ludicrous and the dialogue and storyline was kitschy.  Even the talent in the film also found the dialogue kitschy, Bill Murray even found himself at odds with Lucy Liu verbally because he found the script to be ludicrous.  Even comedian Tom Green who has a short stint in the film thought the script was terrible but only participated because of his ex-wife (Drew Barrymore) asked him to.

But I’m not going to be invidious towards this film.  Because the TV show was also cheesy to begin with and having grew up around watching the TV series as a kid, I was not expecting anything deep from the film but I did expect the film to deliver in special effects and also with Cheung-yan Yuen’s involvement, I was expecting to see a good amount of wirework and awesome fight choreography and the film did deliver in that respect.

There has been a lot of talk about a third film and I’m sure McG’s style of filmmaking has gotten much better since the making of this film and hopefully with what he accomplished with “Terminator Salvation”, if he was involved with the third film, maybe a series that could still incorporate the fun elements of the film but possibly less cheesiness.  Who knows?  I guess we’ll find out if the third film does receive the green light.

Overall, “Charlie’s Angels” on Blu-ray definitely looks much better and sounds much better than its previous DVD counterpart and if you were a big fan of the film or any of the talent, then this Blu-ray is definitely for you!

Everybody’s Fine (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Featuring an all-star cast and a top-notch performance by Robert De Niro who is absolutely magnificent in this film.  Definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © BVHE. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Everybody’s Fine

DURATION: 100 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (2:40:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, French Language Track, French and Spanish Subtitles, English SDH

COMPANY: Miramax Films

RATED: PG-13 (For Thematic Elements and Brief Strong Language)

RELEASE DATE: February 23, 2010

Written and Directed by Kirk Jones

Screenplay by Massimo De Rita, Tonino Guerra, Giuseppe Tornatore

Executive Producer: Craig J. Flores, Callum Greene

Co-Executive Producer: Vitaliy Versace

Producer: Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Ted Field, Glynis Murray, Gianni Nunnari

Co-Producer: Nathalie Peter-Contesse

Music by Dario Marianelli

Cinematography by Henry Braham

Edited by Andrew Mondshein

Casting by Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

Production Design by Andrew Jackness

Art Direction by Drew Boughton

Set Decoration by Chryss Hionis

Costume Design by Aude Bronson-Howard

Starring:

Robert De Niro as Frank Goode

Drew Barrymore as Rosie

Kate Beckinsale as Amy

Sam Rockwell as Robert

Lucian Maisel as Jack

Damian Young as Jeff

James Frain as Tom

Melissa Leo as Colleen

Katherine Moennig as Jilly

Robert De Niro leads an acclaimed all-star cast- Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Sam Rockwell- In Everybody’s Fine, the heartwarming film that will move you to laugter and tears. When Frank Goode’s (De Niro) grown children cancel a family reunion, the recent widower sets off on a cross-country journey to reconnect with each of them. Expecting to share in the joys of their happy, successful lives, his surprise visits reveal a picture that is far from perfect. A family separated by physical and emotional distance finds a way to come together in a story that will touch your heart.

In 2009, British director Kirk Jones (“Everybody’s Fine”, “Nanny McPhee”, “Waking Ned”) wrote and directed a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore’s award-winning 1990 film “Stanno Tutti Bene”. The film features cinematography by Henry Braham (“The Golden Compass”, “Nanny McPhee”, “Crush”) and music composed by Dario Marianelli (“The Soloist”, “Atonement”, “The Brave One”).

Where the original film had an operatic tie-in, Jones’ film “Everybody’s Fine” focuses more on a heartwarming family tale about family secrets and moving on after tragedy.

The film revolves around Frank Goode (played by Robert De Niro, “The Godfather”, “Taxi Driver”, “The Deer Hunter”, “Raging Bull”), the father of four who has kept himself busy taking care of the home after the death of his wife.  His routine is taking care of the garden and taking his heart medication but with the annual family reunion coming up, Frank wants to continue the tradition of what his wife had done for years.

But when he calls his children, the majority of them are unable to come this year and tell him that they are all busy.  So, Frank decides that why not take a road trip and visit each of them and see how they are doing. For Frank, he has been busy all his life working (working on the tubing that are on the telephone wires across America) and thus, his wife took care of the family and he never developed a strong relationship with them.  But hopes he can do it now.

While Frank goes to visit his oldest daughter Amy (played by Kate Beckinsale, “Serendipity”, “Underworld” films”, “Pearl Harbor”), his son Robert (played by Sam Rockwell, “Moon”, “Frost/Nixon”, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) and his daughter Rosie (played by Drew Barrymore, “E.T.”, “Charlie’s Angels” films”, “Donnie Darko”), all he hopes for his children is happiness.

But somehow during his visit, he realizes that things may not have been going so well and that they have not been truthful with him about their lives.  Also, he is unable to get in touch with his older son David and only the sibling know the reason why.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Everybody’s Fine” is presented in Widescreen (2:40:1).  The cinematography by Henry Braham is beautiful.  From capturing the beautiful scenery to capturing the emotions of the top notch cast.  The film through its cinematography captures family’s at their best and their worst.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.  Also, included is a French Language track.  The film is primarily dialogue driven and is front and center channel driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and in Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Everbody’s Fine” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Paul McCartney’s “(I Want To) Come Home” – (9:47) The making of “(I Want To) Come Home” and interview with Paul McCartney and how he became part of the film.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – A total of seven deleted scenes: Book of Directions, An Artist (Extended Scene), Every Day Is a Storm (Extended Scene), Red River Valley, You Like Hot Dogs?, Airport, I’m Sorry (Extended Scene).

A heartwarming and tragic tale about a man who gets to know his family and realizes he didn’t know much about them as he thought.

Robert De Niro absolutely shines in this role, that begs of him to not be a tough man but a father who is realizing his loss but also how his wife kept his family strong but also not sharing with him the difficulties about their children and now he is learning first hand for himself how the little children that he once remembers are now adults and each are not living this perfect life as he had hoped.

“Everybody’s Fine” features an all-star cast with Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell but where the original film focused on the family life and as mentioned operatic in that the Italian film featured children named after opera characters and the children’s lives being close to those characters, “Everybody’s Fine” is focused more on the father.  The siblings project this facade of a happy life but Frank (De Niro) is not dumb, he knows something is wrong and it all culminates up to the point where he finds out the truth of his son David, the son that he put the most pressure on when he was younger.

But most of all, realizing that his dead wife wanted to maintain order and out of love, she made Frank feel that everybody’s fine (thus the title of the film).

“Everybody’s Fine” is probably the most vulnerable we have ever seen of De Niro and just shows you the depth of his talent as an actor.  Although the film had a limited three week run before the Christmas holiday, I enjoyed this film a lot.

Having grown up watching films about parents and their children through director Yasujiro Ozu who showed the pain and happiness of parenthood and the bond between the parents and their children, “Everybody’s Fine” is a sentimental film that touched my heart because I know many parents in which one significant other would tell the other who is the breadwinner that life is good but behind those words lies a facade and sure enough, things are not always that good as it may seem.  Although, we are given a limited time to see Frank’s interaction with his children, it’s that journey and realization and discovery that touches you.  De Niro brings Frank Goode to life.

Overall, “Everbody’s Fine” features a strong, magnificent performance from De Niro unlike anything he has done before.  The film is sentimental, heartwarming and tragic but in the end, is a film that I adored.

Definitely recommended!

Whip It (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Entertaining, fun and an enjoyable coming-of-age film.  A solid directorial debut by Drew Barrymore and another wonderful performance by Ellen Page and also from the film’s all-star supporting cast.

© 2009 Babe Ruthless Production, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Whip It

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen 2:40:1, AVC@36MBPS English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: PG-13 (Sexual Content including Crude Dialogue, Language and Drug Material)

COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: January 26, 2010

Based on the book “Derby Girl” by Shauna Cross

Directed by Drew Barrymore

Screenplay by Drew Barrymore

Executive Producer: Drew Barrymore, Peter Douglas, Joseph Drake, Nancy Juvonen, Nathan Kahane, Kirsten Smith

Producer: Barry Mendel

Co-Producer: Nicole Brown, Kelli Konop, Jason Lust, Karyn McCarthy

Associate Producer: Chris Miller

Music by The Section Quartet

Cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman

Edited by Dylan Tichenor

Casting by Justine Baddeley, Kim Davis

Production Design by Kevin Kavanaugh

Set Decoration by Meg Everist

Costume Design by Catherine Marie Thomas

Starring:

Sarah Habel as Corbi

Ellen Page as Bliss Cavendar

Alia Shawkat as Pash

Shannon Eagen as Amber

Marcia Gay Harden as Brooke Cavendar

Daniel Stern as Earl Cavendar

Jimmy Fallon as “Hot Tub” Johnny Rocket

Kristen Wiig as Maggie Mayhem

Zoe Bell as Bloody Holly

Eve as Rosa Parks

Drew Barrymore as Smashley Simpson

Andrew Wilson as Razor

Juliette Lewis as Iron Maven

Rusty Mewha as Holy Rollers

Ari Graynor as Eva Destruction

Landon Pigg as Oliver

Carlo Alban as Birdman

The memorable heroine of Juno is back and scores huge laughs as Bliss Cavendar, a blue-haired misfit stuck in a tiny Texas town in Whip It, a coming-of-age comedy skating onto Blu-ray Disc with Digital Copy and DVD January 26 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Tired of following in her family’s footsteps, Bliss discovers a way to put her life on the fast track when she lands a spot on a rough-and-tumble roller derby team. Her journey comes full-circle as she reconnects with her family and finds her own path in the world.

Roller Derby.  I can easily remember turning on the television and watching the Los Angeles T-Birds. Personally, I didn’t know if this was a true sport or if it was like wrestling and it was just sports entertainment.  But I was hooked.  Not sure if it was the blonde women with poofy hair throwing other women out of the rink or that one person who didn’t look should be on the rink, actually kicking butt.  Needless to say, that roller derby has had its following for decades and now here we are with a film based on a character who takes part in roller derby competitions.

“Whip It” marks the directorial debut by actress Drew Barrymore (“E.T.”, “50 First Dates”, “The Wedding Singer”, “Charlie’s Angels” films) and is an adaptation of the novel “Derby Girl” by Shauna Cross, a fictionalized book of skating with the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls.

The independent film was released in theaters during the fall of 2009 and now makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut.  The Blu-ray edition comes with a second disc which contains a digital copy of the film.

The film revolves around Bliss Cavendar (played by Ellen Page, “X3”, “Juno”, “Smart People”), a quiet and shy girl who lives in the small town of Bodeen, Texas and works at a fast food restaurant.   She aspires to nothing and is constantly pushed by her pageant mother Brooke (played by Marcia Gay Harden, “The Maiden Heist”, “Damages”, “Mystic River”) to compete in a variety of beauty pageants.  Her little sister Shania is more of the person who enjoys the pageants but for Bliss, it’s not her thing.  In fact, she doesn’t even know what kind of person she is and just thinks that she is not cut out for the pageants.

But fortunately, she has a friend named Pash (played by Alia Shawkat, “Arrested Development”, “Bart Got a Room”) who is a good friend and her emotional support. Both dream of leaving the small town, while Pash dreams of going to an Ivy League School, Bliss doesn’t know what to do with her life.

One day while shopping with her mother, she discovers a group of women promoting a roller derby event in Austin.  Immediately, she is mesmerized by it and she and Pash go to Austin and pretend they are going to a football game when in fact, she goes to watch the roller derby event in which she suddenly becomes inspired by the team “The Hurl Scouts” who are the worst roller derby team in Texas.

When she goes to meet with them and tell them how they are her new heroes, Maggie Mayhem (played by Kristen Wiig, “Saturday Night Live”, “Extract”) and Smashley Simpson (played by Drew Barrymore) asks her to put on some skates and attend the tryouts and become her own hero.  Of course, Bliss lies and tells them that she’s 22 when she’s actually a teenager.  But Bliss who has become inspired by these women, takes her Barbie skates and starts practicing to skate and enters tryouts.

While at tryouts, she immediately, she is bossed around by Iron Maven (played by Juliette Lewis, “Cape Fear”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”) but the Hurl Scouts coach, Razor (played by Andrew Wilson, “Fever Pitch, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Rushmore”) sees her speed as major potential and gives her a spot on The Hurl Scouts and quickly becomes good friends with the other ladies on the team which include Bloody Holly (played by Zoe Bell), Rosa Sparks (played by Eve) and more.

Part of the perks of being a Hurl Scout is attending parties hosted by roller derby host “Hot Tub” Johnny Rocket (played by Jimmy Fallon) and both Bliss and Pash start to have some fun.  That is where she meets Oliver (played by Landon Pigg), a musician from the band playing at the party and eventually a guy that she starts to fall in love with.

Immediately, Bliss becomes a sensation on the team as the quick “Babe Ruthless” and suddenly the last placed Hurl Scouts become the hot team in roller derby and her presence has inspired her teammates to want to win their matches.  For the first time, Bliss feels that she is making a difference with her life and things are starting to happen and she’s happy. But yet she is still living a lie.  She’s underage and shouldn’t be competing, she’s lying to her family and telling them that she’s with her friend studying for her SAT’s.  How long can she keep this up?

With her mother expecting Bliss to compete at major beauty pageant competitions, having a new guy in her life, maintaining her friendship with Pash and trying to fake her injuries that she receives at roller derby competitions, let alone lying about her age…what happens when the truth about Bliss comes out?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Whip It” is presented in 1080 High Definition (Widescreen 2:40:1), AVC @ 36 MBPS.  The film sports vibrant colors with the Hurl Scouts green outfits, while amber lights shine on the roller derby rink.  You can see details in the surroundings, especially injuries ala bloody noses to bruises.  Even the tattoos on Kristen Wiig are seen much clearly on HD.  Skin tones are natural and blacks are nice and deep.  Everything is visible from the freckles of Pash, to the sweat and tears of Bliss and the other girls during competition or the more emotional scenes of the film.  I will say that at first, I thought this was a period film shot in the ’80s but you realize that the film focuses on Bliss living in a very small town.

There is a fine amount of grain in the film and I didn’t notice any compression artifacts, banding or any sign of DNR.  A solid Blu-ray release in terms of PQ from Fox.

As for the audio, “Whip It” is featured in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish, French 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The film is front and center channel driven.  Dialogue and music are both crystal clear but there is minimal use of surrounds.  You can hear crowd ambiance and the women racing on the rink and hitting the side rails and hearing the skates but its not immersive as I would have hoped but still, the film is not all about the roller derby and there are plenty of dialogue scenes and music-driven scenes that are very clear, with some songs having a nice kick of bass.  A pretty interesting soundtrack as well from ’80s 38 Special’s “Caught Up in You” to music from the Ramones and the Breeders.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Whip It” comes with a digital copy of the film and comes with a few special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (16:14) Included is an alternate opening and eight deleted scenes.
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents Writer’s Draft: Shauna Cross of “Whip It” – (3:04) A short featurette with an interview with novel and screenwriter Shauna Cross about “Whip It”.
  • Whip It Soundtrack Spot – (:32) A promotional for the “Whip It” soundtrack.

“Whip It” may seem like a film about roller derby and the antics that go behind-the-scenes of the sport but truthfully, the film has many layers.  From a coming-of-age film, a relationship movie and a girl power film, there are a good number of things going on in this film that there is far much more to enjoy than expected.

I have to admit that Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut definitely shows promise.  The actress has starred in so many films since she was a child and has worked with a good number of quality director’s, I had no doubt that she would do a pretty solid job.

Part of the challenge of “Whip It” is bringing together this wild bunch of characters that the character Bliss associates with and then bringing this other side of her life as a teenager from a small town, having an overbearing pageant mother and working at a fast food restaurant while trying to maintain her friendship with her high school friends and then finding love.  Definitely not an easy task for Barrymore but one thing she does have is the original author Shauna Cross involved with the screenplay and she has a talented actress in Ellen Page in the main role.

At first glance, I didn’t know if Page can pull of such a role but as she did with “Juno” she manages to pull of Bliss very well for “Whip It”.

As for the other supporting characters, personally I don’t if roller derby lifestyles are similar to what is depicted in the movie.  As much as I do enjoy Barrymore’s directorial debut, her role as Smashley Simpson is a bit too much while I do feel Kristen Wiig manages to pull off another solid supporting role like she has done in “Extract” and Juliette Lewis still does a great job in portraying the bad girl.  Marcia Gay Harden and Daniel Stern (who plays Bliss’s father) also do a good job as the parents of Bliss.

As for the Blu-ray, the picture quality for the film was very good and the lossless audio was satisfactory but it would have been great to have it a bit more immersive via use of the surround channels.   And it would have been great to have audio commentary by Barrymore and Shauna Cross or even a featurette on how the talent prepared for the film or even  Behind-the-scenes footage.  I felt the special features were a bit short for this Blu-ray release.  But as for the film, “Whip It” is an entertaining, humorous and a solid coming-of-age, feel-good style of film.  And again, although roller derby does play a big part in this film, “Whip It” is not an all out sports movie.  The film has many layers to it and fortunately, the solid performances definitely made this film enjoyable.

Overall, “Whip It” is a solid directorial debut from Drew Barrymore and fine performances by Ellen Page and its supporting cast makes this film better than expected.

Drew Barrymore at the Los Angeles premiere of “Whip It”

September 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Actress/director Drew Barrymore arrives at the premiere of Fox Searchlight’s ‘Whip It’ on September 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images).  Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.

Premiere Of Fox Searchlight's "Whip It" - Arrivals

Drew Barrymore promotes “Whip It”

September 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Drew Barrymore and The Detroit Derby Girls promote ‘Whip It’ with a free skating event at Bonaventure Skating Center on September 11, 2009 in Farmington Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)
Content © 2009 Getty Images . All rights reserved.

Drew Barrymore Hosts A Skating Event To Promote Whip It

Charlie’s Angels (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 27, 2003 by · Leave a Comment 

Netflix, Inc.

BUY THIS DVD

MOVIE COMPANY: Columbia Tristar
CAST: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Sam Rockwell, Crispin Glover, Tim Curry and more.
DIRECTED BY: Joseph McGinty Nichol
WRITTEN BY: Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts III
RATING: PG-13
INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE URL: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0160127
TYPE OF MOVIE: Action, comedy
DURATION: 98 minutes


King and Jack are experts in finding lovers of first love for their clients. One day, a young guy, a man of concealed identity, and Taiwan’s richest business tycoon ask King and Jack to look for their first lovers. To King and Jack’s astonishment, the women all look like the same ……

DVD EXTRAS:

• Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
PLEASE NOTE: Warner and Columbia have recently added a Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE) to Region 1 titles like the The Patriot and The Perfect Storm. Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called “region-free” DVD players. For more information on RCE, click here.
• Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• Director and Cinematographer Commentary
• Featurettes:
• Fashion Featurette
• Set Design Featurette
• Martial Arts and Stunts Featurette
• Special Effects Featurette
• Director McG Featurette
• Wired Angels – Special Effects Deconstruction
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Outtakes and Bloopers
• Music Videos by Destiny’s Child and Apollo Four Forty
• Widescreen anamorphic format

KNOWN DVD SECRET(S): Three Easter Eggs

Hidden scenes:
Select the “Special Features” option at the main menu. Highlight the “Getting G’d Up” option and press Right. A box will appear on Cameron Diaz’s waist. Press Enter to view the scene.

Select the “Special Features” option at the main menu. Highlight the “Wired Angels” option and press Left. A box will appear on Bill Murray’s jacket. Press Enter to view the scene

Select the “Special Features” option at the main menu. Advance to the last screen in the special features section. Highlight the back arrow and press Right. A square will appear over Sam Rockwell’s eyes. Press Enter to view the scene.

DVD REVIEW:

A fun movie to watch and a fun movie to watch if you grew up in the 70’s during the Charlie’s Angel phenomenon.

One of the problems with this movie when it debuted was that some people loved it and some people hated it.  Those who hated it, didn’t like the MTV look of the film and how the film wasn’t serious.  Some may say it’s more eye candy for the male fans.

Perhaps.  But you maybe asking why buy this DVD?  Well, it’s kind of hard to convince you if you hate this movie but if you enjoyed it, then the reasons why to buy this DVD is because it’s jam packed.  Note: If you have a multi-region player, this DVD may not play.

The video quality is very cool.  Since they experimented with different ways to film the movie, colors are brilliant but at times I felt that the colors were over saturated (note: Beach scene, look at the reds).  The audio was nice but for some reason I felt that I got more from my digital 5.1 from the trailers. (Yes, the trailers are in 5.1 except Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

As for DVD special features, a small featurette for the director, the action-stunt coordinator, fashion/clothing, for the movie, extended scenes, deleted scenes, outtakes (the ending of the film without the credits), director’s commentary, two music videos and trailers that are in digital 5.1 (including a sneak peak of the highly anticipated CGI film, “Final Fantasy”).

So, if you enjoyed the movie, you will be in for a treat with the special edition DVD.

THE MOVIE: B-
THE DVD EXTRAS: A-
THE DVD OVERALL: B+

Titan A.E. (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 27, 2003 by · Leave a Comment 

Netflix, Inc.

BUY THIS DVD

MOVIE COMPANY: FOX STUDIOS

CAST: Starring the voices of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, Drew Barrymore and more.
DIRECTED BY: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
PRODUCED BY:
RATING: Rated PG
INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE URL: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0120913
TYPE OF MOVIE: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Adventure
DURATION:


One thousand years from now, aliens destroy Earth in fear of the Titan project. Some humans escape, becoming a downtrodden Diaspora, living in impoverished settlements. The mysterious Titan spacecraft also escapes, and its inventor has hidden it before dying. A spacecraft captain and its pilot, Korso and Akima, two humans, seek out Cale, the youthful son of the dead scientist and explain that he must help them find the Titan, which holds a mechanism to unite and save humanity. Cale refuses, but the arrival of the killer aliens persuades him to join Korso. Can he avoid his pursuers, know friend from foe, find the Titan, and embrace his humanity, a nature he has despised until now?

DVD REVIEW:

I’m a big anime fan and when I heard that an animation will be coming out in the US that’s not kid-oriented or Disney-like was going to be released, I was happy.  I’ve been hearing how cool the special effects for this movie was and how much time and effort was spent spent on this film.  Also, how much the film costs (75 million-ouch!)  Unfortunately, that time & effort wasn’t enough because the movie didn’t do that well in the box office and FOX had the animation studio closed down.  What a shame!

This was a good start in bringing non-Disney like animation movies to the US and now the only thing we can hope for is the “Final Fantasy” computer generated movie to do well when it’s released in 2001.

The movie is very good, the acting is very good and one can only hope that people check the DVD out for this film.  The audio is impressive and what can I say…DTS!

The movie includes several lengthy deleted scenes and a music video.

Check this DVD out!

THE MOVIE:  A-
THE DVD EXTRAS:  A-
THE DVD OVERALL:  A–

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