June 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Actor Wilson Cruz to Pay Tribute to Family Member Lost in Orlando Shooting during Annual Event Recognizing LGBT Pioneers

Laverne Cox, Judith Light, Matthew Broderick, Troye Sivan, and more to be Featured in Largest Televised LGBT Pride Special

New York, NY, June 21, 2016 – Logo today announced that Academy Award-nominated actress Emma Stone will honor LGBT humanitarian and sports icon Billie Jean King at the annual “Trailblazer Honors,” airing on Logo and VH1, on Saturday, June 25 at 8pm ET/PT. From the 1969 Stonewall Riots to the passage of marriage equality nationwide just last year, the “Trailblazers Honors” spotlight the pioneers who bravely fought for equality. This year, the event will be dedicated to the people of Orlando and feature special tributes from those impacted by the tragic attack including actor and advocate Wilson Cruz (ABC’s “Mistresses”), whose family member Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was among the innocent lives lost.

During the special, Emma Stone will salute Billlie Jean King for her heroic work for LGBT visibility and equality. Stone will portray Billie Jean King in the upcoming film “Battle of the Sexes,” a movie based on the historic 1973 tennis match in which Billie Jean King famously defeated former Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs, who will be played by Steve Carell.

Billie Jean King is not only one of the the first prominent professional athletes to be openly lesbian, but is renowned in the tennis world for being one of the greatest to ever play the game. King won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles and her work to open doors for women and LGBT people made and changed history. In 1972, she became the first woman to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2014, President Obama selected Billie Jean King to be a part of the official US Delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics and she used the platform to speak out against anti-LGBT laws in Russia and around the world. She has been a staunch supporter of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and LPAC, an organization dedicated to increasing the political power of lesbian and queer women. She also founded the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative to inspire a new generation of leaders on issues including diversity and inclusion. In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be given to a civilian in the United States, for her work to advocate for equality for women and LGBT people.

The third annual “Trailblazer Honors” is part of Logo’s full themed day of ‘We Are Orlando’ programming on Saturday, June 25. The ‘We Are Orlando’ day of remembrance will include LGBT-themed films, documentaries and inspiring spots featuring ways to support Orlando. The “Trailblazer Honors” will then feature performances dedicated to the lives lost as well as messages from celebrities and dignitaries speaking out about how LGBT visibility and Pride are more important than ever.

Previously announced honorees for the 2016 “Trailblazer Honors” include:
· Stage and screen legend Harvey Fierstein, who changed the game for LGBT storylines and actors in Hollywood and on Broadway with his iconic works including “Torch Song Trilogy” and “La Cage aux Folles.” Fierstein is also a ubiquitous LGBT advocate whose leadership in calling for an end to HIV and AIDS has spanned decades.
· Gay Syrian refugee Subhi Nahas made history by becoming the first person ever to present eyewitness testimony to the United Nations regarding ISIS persecution of LGBT people. After being marked for an honor killing, Nahas fled Syria and now helps LGBT people in the Middle East earn refugee status. He will also serve as Grand Marshal of this year’s NYC Pride March.
· Seminal LGBT news outlet The Advocate, which is preparing to celebrate its 50th year, has been an unwavering platform of LGBT visibility – helping George Michael, Chaz Bono and Melissa Etheridge come out, while giving allies like President Obama a forum to speak out. Well before every LGBT equality victory was fought in the mainstream, it was featured – in depth – within the trailblazing pages of The Advocate.

During the event, Laverne Cox, Judith Light, Matthew Broderick, Bernadette Peters, Troye Sivan, Billy Porter, Cheyenne Jackson, Edie Falco, Joel Grey, Matthew Morrison, Tegan & Sara, and Jason Collins, among others, will appear in video tributes to this year’s honorees. Previous “Trailblazer” honorees include The Obama Administration, Edie Windsor, Laverne Cox and the cast of “Orange is the New Black.”

Additional honorees, performers and presenters will be announced at a later date.

Logo “Trailblazer Honors” is executive produced by Chris McCarthy, Amy Doyle, Ryan Kroft, and Chris Williams for Logo. Matt Flanders is co-executive producer. Joe Buoye and Leah Lane serve as Executives in Charge of Production for Logo. Wendy Plaut, Gina Esposito and Marcia Lansdown are Executives in Charge of Talent and Music for Logo.

About Logo
Logo is a leading entertainment brand inspired by the LGBT community and reflects the creative class across television, digital and social platforms. Logo features one-of-a-kind personalities, shows, specials, and unique stories. Logo is part of Viacom’s Music & Entertainment Group including VH1, MTV, MTV2, Comedy Central and Spike.

Magic in the Moonlight (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” is still entertaining and has a lot of charm, but considering the film uses the word “magic” in its title, it is a film that is missing that special magic that we have seen on other captivating Woody Allen films.

Images courtesy of © 2014 Gravier Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Magic in the Moonlight


DURATION: 97 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, English , French and English -Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Picture Classics

RATED: PG-13 (For a Brief Suggestive Comment and Smoking Throughout)

RELEASE DATE: December 16, 2014

Directed by Woody Allen

Written by Woody Allen

Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson

Co-Produced by Raphael Benoliel, Helen Robin

Executive Producer: Ron Chez

Co-Executive Producer: Jack Rollins

Cinematography by Darius Khondji

Edited by Alisa Lepselter

Production Design by Anne Seibel

Set Decoration by Jille Azis

Costume Design by Sonia Grande


Colin Firth as Stanley

Emma Stone as Sophie

Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Baker

Jacki Weaver as Grace Catledge

Hamish Linklaster as Brice Catledge

Simon McBurney as Howard Burkan

Eileen Atkins as Aunt Vanessa

Acclaimed magician Stanley Crawford (Academy Award Winner® Colin Firth*) dazzles his audiences with feats of supernatural amazement. But when it comes to the inexplicable, Stanley is a dedicated skeptic. Enter Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), psychic, soothsayer, and stunning seductress. As Stanley and Sophie embark on misadventures up and down the French Riviera, will they discover proof of a world beyond the laws of physics or have they fallen under the sway of a more earthly chemistry? Woody Allen pulls the strings with precision in this enchanting romantic comedy that explores the realm between what’s understood in our minds and what’s known in our hearts. *Colin Firth, Academy Award® Winner, The King’s Speech, Best Actor, 2010


Since 1977, director Woody Allen has had a film released in the U.S. and with each release, cinema fans are often debating if the director’s later films are still just as sharp and brilliant as his past films or the director’s work has waned considerably late in his career.

But for those who enjoy Woody Allen films, each movie has been fresh, different from any past films that has done and for the most part, have entertained fans for nearly 40-straight years which is remarkable.

Not many filmmakers have had this longevity nor had they had a film released each year of their working life but Allen, continues to show movie fans that he is able to make films that will entertain audiences and the same could be said for his 2014 film “Magic in the Moonlight”.

The film would star Colin Firth (“The Kings Speech”, “A Single Man”, “Love Actually”), Emma Stone (“The Help”, “Easy A”, “The Amazing Spider-Man” films), Marcia Gay Harden (“Into the Wild”, “Mystic river”, “The Mist”), Simon McBurney (“The Duchess”, “Body of Lies”, “The Last King of Scotland”), Hamish Linklater (“Fantastic Four”, “42”, “Battleship”) and Jacki Weaver (“Stoker”, “Animal Kingdom”, “Silver Linings Playbook”).

The film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in Dec. 2014.

“Magic in the Moonlight” is set in 1928 and introduces us to the famous illusionist, Wei Ling Soo, who happens to be a British man named Stanley (portrayed by Colin Firth).  After his performance, he is visited by a fellow (and not-as-popular) illusionist named Howard Burkan (portrayed by Simon McBurney), who tells him to accompany him to Cote d’Azure where a wealthy American family, the Catledges, have been taken in by a clairvoyant and mystic woman named Sophie (portrayed by Emma Stone).

The son, Brice (portrayed by Hamish Linklater) is smitten by Sophie and wants to marry her, while his sister Caroline (portrayed by Erica Leerhsen) and brother-in-law George (portrayed by Jeremy Shamos) are concerned of Brice proposing a marriage to her and want Stanley to find out if Sophie is a true clairvoyant or a fraud.

Howard believes that Sophie has uncovered secrets that no one else would know and that she may have supernatural powers, but Stanley, who is known to have debunked many charlatan mystics, will do what he can to prove that she is a fraud.  Even going so far as going by another name and a man who is a businessman.

The two end up spending time together and while visiting his aunt Vanessa (portrayed by Eileen Atkins), Sophie goes into various trances and is able to pull up personal details about his life and also Vanessa’s past, including her great love affair.

Shocked by this, Stanley feels that Sophie’s powers now have changed the way he looks at the world and immediately becomes smitten by her, despite being engaged to a woman named Olivia.

But as Stanley spends more time with Sophie, will he find a woman that is true to herself or will he determine that she is actually a fraud?



“Magic in the Moonlight” is presented in 2:39:1 aspect ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen) in English, French and English – Audio Description track in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

It’s important to note that if you want the best quality of “Magic in the Moonlight”, you will want to check out the film on Blu-ray as it will offer the best picture and audio quality.

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good as one can expect on DVD and there is a hint of the film grain during your viewing of the film.  Skin tones do look natural but I can imagine detail and clarity would become much more evident on Blu-ray.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues while watching this DVD.

As for audio, the soundtrack employs a lot of Woody Allen’s passion for 1920’s jazz music, dialogue is clear and for this film, is strictly a center/front channel-driven soundtrack.

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


“Magic in the Moonlight” features the following special features:

  • Behind the Magic – (11:21) The cast discuss the film, working on a Woody Allen film and more.
  • On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere – (2:46) The cast promote their film at the LA film premiere.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:08) Theatrical trailer for “Magic in the Moonlight”.


“Magic in the Moonlight” comes with an UltraViolet code, so one can watch this film via online streaming.


I’m not the type of reviewer who tends to be critical of Woody Allen films to the point that they would stop watching them because they felt he has lost the magic of filmmaking.

It is surely not the case as we have seen him create wonderful films in the past five years which include “Blue Jasmine” and “Midnight in Paris” but when you look deep into his 40-year oeuvre, there are films that will no doubt captivate you, films that entertain you but you just want to see it just once and films that you feel, it’s best that he shouldn’t have made it.

“Magic in the Moonlight” is a film that interests me because knowing that Woody Allen loves the music of the 1920’s-1930’s, let alone having performed that style of music for his own band, I know he has enjoyed films from the Golden Years of Hollywood.

With his latest cinematic offering for 2014, I feel it’s another romantic comedy placed in the 1920’s that lie on the performance of its main characters played by Colin Firth and Emma Stone.

Colin Firth does a great job playing an arrogant illusionist named Stanley whose beliefs are set and anything to disrupt those beliefs are wrong and he one thing that he is skeptical about is clairvoyant mystics.

And he will do whatever he can to debunk them.

Enter Sophie played by Emma Stone.  Sophie, a younger clairvoyant mystic who is able to go in a trance and provide information that shocks Stanley because of her ability to know detail about his life, let alone his aunt’s life and thus challenging his thought on life and his set of beliefs.

While the character of Stanley is your typical “know-it-all”, Firth does a good job of playing the stick-in-the-mud who goes to the South of France in order to debunk an American young woman named Sophie.  Is she there to marry Brice and become wealthy?  Or is she a genuine clairvoyant mystic?

While the film is more of a life-changing experience for Stanley who can’t explain how Sophie knows these deep, personal moments about his life and his aunt’s life, it gives him a new lease on life.

While entertaining, the film is rather predictable.  And while the performance by Firth is very good, you can’t help but feel that his casting was a miscast as the chemistry with Emma Stone did not feel genuine onscreen.  It doesn’t help that Colin Firth could probably play Emma Stone’s father in a film.

Also, the film misses the intellectual dialogue that we often get from a Woody Allen film.  And its ending and overall scenarios seemed a bit rushed for my tastes.

While it’s hard to dislike this film because it is entertaining, the film seems like a step back when compared to “Blue Jasmine” and “Midnight in Paris”. While location and costume design, especially the music selection works well for the film, the Woody Allen magic we are used to seeing in his films are missing in “Magic in the Moonlight”.

But still, even Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” is still entertaining and has a lot of charm, but considering the film uses the word “magic” in its title, it is a film that is missing that special magic that we have seen on other captivating Woody Allen films.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is an action-packed popcorn film.  Where it stumbles on character development and potentially a much deeper plot, the film does deliver in action and visual effects.   The film does look and sound magnificent in HD and definitely one of the better looking and sounding Blu-ray releases of 2014! If you are a big fan of the “Spider-Man” films, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and LSC Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Marvel, Spider-Man and all related character names and their distinctive likenesses: ™ & © 2014 Marvel Entertainment, LLC and its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man 2


DURATION: 141 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:401 Aspect Ratio, English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish and English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2014

Directed by Marc Webb

Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner

Screenstory by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, James Vanderbilt

Based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Produced by Avi Adrad, Matthew Tolmach

Executive Producer: Alex Kurtzman, Stan Lee, Roberto Orci, E. Bennett Walsh

Associate Producer: Beatriz Sequeira

Music by Johnny Marr, Pharrell Williams, Hans Zimmer

Cinematography by Daniel Mindel

Edited by Pietro Scalia

Casting by Kathleen Chopin

Production Design by Mark Friedberg

Art Direction by Kim Jennings, Richard L. Johnson

Set Decoration by Susan Bode

Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott


Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy

Jamie Foxx as Electro/Max Dillon

Dane DeHaan as Green Goblin/Harry Osborn

Colm Feore as Donald Menken

Felicity Jones as Felicia

Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich

Sally Field as Aunt May

Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker

Campbell Scott as Richard Parker

It’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than himself. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.

With the first film in the Spider-Man reboot, “Amazing Spider-Man” and it’s dominating the box office with over $757 million earned, there was no doubt that a second film would be made.

Featuring the return of filmmaker Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”) and the return of Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”), Emma Stone (“The Help”, “Easy A”, “Zombieland”) and Sally Field (“Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Lincoln”, “Forrest Gump”), the sequel would continue the casting of star talent.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” would star Jamie Foxx (“Django Unchained”, “Ray”, “Collateral”), Dane DeHaan (“Chronicle”, “Lincoln”), Colm Feore (“Thor”, “Face/Off”), Felicity Jones (“Like Crazy”, “The Tempest”, “The Invisible Woman”) and Paul Giamatti (“Sideways”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Illusionist”).

And similar to the first film, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” would earn over $708 million in the box office, thus ensuring a third film and also an expected success when released on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD in August 2014.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” continues the storyline of Peter Parker, who is also the masked hero known as Spider-Man.  The second film does incorporate Peter’s search for his parents as seen from the first film:

“The Amazing Spider-Man” begins with a four-year old Peter Parker, looking for his dad in his office.  But suddenly his father and mother are seen gathering their belongs, and his father, a scientist, gathering his work and taking young Peter to stay with his uncle Ben (portrayed by Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (portrayed by Sally Fields).

His parents leave with no explanation of where they are going.

Fast forward over a decade later and Peter Parker is a talented photographer and a smart student who excels in science.  But he’s not an athlete and is constantly bullied by jock, Flash Thompson (portrayed by Chris Zylka) and not popular with the girls at school either.

But one student recognizes his intelligence and compassion, Gwen Stacy (portrayed by Emma Stone), a girl that Peter Parker likes.

While living with his uncle and aunt, Peter accidentally finds a hidden bag in the house containing information left behind by his father, including a photo of his father with another scientist. Dr. Curt Connors.  But unfortunately, not much is known of why Richard and Mary Parker left.  But being the curious teen who wants to know what really happened to his parents, Parker’s investigation leads him to Oscorp Industries. where Dr. Curt Connors works and interesting enough, where Gwen Stacy works as an assistant.

He amazes Dr. Connors on his knowledge but is unable to talk to him and we learn that Dr. Connors is being pressured by Dr. Ratha to complete a serum that will cure a terminally ill Norman Osborn, the head of Oscorp Industries. But for Dr. Connors, he is more interested in regenerating his right arm, which he lost long ago.

As for Peter, Peter goes into a lab, where genetically modified spiders are kept. One of the spiders ends up escaping and crawling on Peter Parker and bites him on the neck.  Not feeling well, Peter Parker starts to learn that he has the ability to stick to things, has superhuman speed, strength and a heightened sense of danger.

With “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, the film begins with Richard and Mary Parker abandoning Peter at a young age and leaving him with his Aunt May.  Richard Parker explains to his wife that their lives are over and to protect their son, they will need to be on the run.  Richard manages to record one final recording before both leave on flight.  But as Richard is uploading data, a gunman comes and a fight ensues on the plane in which Mary Parker is shot, while the data is uploaded.

Fastforward and we see a confident Peter Parker as Spider-Man tracking down a group of criminals who stole chemicals from OsCorp Industries and late for his graduation. While tracking these criminals, he still sees the face of Gwen’s deceased father, who gives Peter a look (reminding Peter of the promise they made that Peter would not allow Gwen to get into any danger and he would stay away from her).

As both Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy celebrate their graduation, the burden of having seen Gwen’s deceased father everywhere he goes, is starting to take his toll on Peter who wants to keep his father’s promise and both Peter and Gwen break up.

At OsCorp, Peter Parker’s childhood friend Harry Osborn (portrayed by Dane DeHaan) finds out that his father Norman is dying of a disease which he tried experimenting with different chemicals to keep himself alive to no avail.  With Harry having the same type of disease, Harry learns that he is going to die and hopes he can find a way to keep himself alive as the inheritor of OsCorp.

As Peter meets with Harry to discuss the past, Harry tells Peter that he needs his help to find Spider-Man (as Peter is known for getting photos of the web crawler) and needs his blood to experiment and see if it can save him.

Meanwhile, Max Dillon (portrayed by Jamie Foxx) is an electrical engineer who works for OsCorp and gets no respect.  An obsessed fan of Spider-Man, Max is forced to fix a problem in which he falls into a tube of electrical eels which have their way with Max.

Thought as dead, Max manages to escape from OsCorp (who are trying to do studies on him) and learns firsthand that he has inherited great electrical power and can absorb and use that power to be someone important.  But when Max’s paranoia kicks in and thinks Spider-Man is trying to ruin him, and becomes a threat to anyone who goes against him.

As Peter follows Gwen, he starts to learn that he loves her so much, that he can’t stop himself from being away from her.  But will being with her, put her in the path of danger?


“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  The sequel is mastered in 4K and the picture quality for this film is amazing.  Closeups are full of detail, Spider-Man’s costume is fully detailed and colors are vibrant, skin tones look natural and black levels are nice and deep.  If anything, one will notice how detailed this film looks on HD, this is reference quality and Blu-ray videophiles will no doubt feel that this is one of the better looking action films on Blu-ray of the year!


As for audio, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and sounds fantastic.    The soundtrack is immersive as the film is full of action from beginning to end, but also music plays a big part in directional sound as well as the ambiance of New York City.

There is no doubt that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is one of the best sounding action films on Blu-ray for 2014 and audiophiles will no doubt be proud of how fantastic the lossless soundtrack is with its use of crystal clear dialogue, music and sound effects.


“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring  an audio commentary with writer Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Pinkner along with producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad.
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes – (23:01) Featuring 13 deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary with Director Marc Webb.
  • The Wages of Heroism: Making the Amazing Spider-Man 2 – (1:43:42) featuring almost two hours of special features that goes into the making of the film, the development, direction, shooting in New York, the villains introduced, costume design, visual effects, music and more.
  • The Music of Amazing Spider-Man 2 with Director Marc Webb – (8:09) Marc Webb discusses how he wanted music to be utilized for the film and Hans Zimmer discusses working on the film and series.
  • Music Video – (3:49) Featuring “It’s On Again” by Alicia Keys.


“The Amazing Spider-Man” comes with a slipcover, Blu-ray and DVD version of the film plus an UltraViolet code to watch your films on your PC, laptop, tablet or cell phone.


As a long time fan of Spider-Man, let alone a collector of the comic books, there is no doubt a difference between the first trilogy of films and “The Amazing Spider-Man” films.

The good news is that the humor of Peter Parker is kept in-tact, the wisecracks are there, the boy scout Peter Parker that he has towards the children or unfortunate is seen in this film.  But of course, the biggest difference is the better use of action, special effects and integration of the villains for this series.

And as most comic book fans should know by now, what you read in the comics, are always going to change in the movie adaptations.

And this is where “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” tends to stray far from the comic books is that the whole history of Electro and the character itself has changed significantly in the movies.  Aside from the fact that the original character was Caucasian, I feel that the character of Max was more of a man with a mental issue and having been shunned for years, he has became a powerful villain and wanting more energy and power.

I felt the character looked too much like an alien species and devoid of anything cool that the comics had him to be.  Sure, the special effects were fantastic but the character could have been developed more, instead of focusing on how music could be integrated with the character of Electro.

The other caveat with this sequel is too much storyline being forced into the film.  There was no doubt the goal was to make “The Amazing Spider-Man” into an action film, but there is so much action that the plot suffers as the characters suffer from the overall plot.

After Peter Parker is seen with Gwen Stacy at graduation, hours later, he is an emotional wreck.  After tragedy, once again, there is too much story in trying to incorporate into the film and parts of the film’s plot felt rushed.

With that being said, despite its rushed storyline and underdeveloped characters, both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone do shine as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.  If anything, Emma Stone does a fantastic job playing the girlfriend who is in love with Peter and would do anything for him.  And if it wasn’t for their storyline, she brought a more humanistic feel to the film as the relationship bond between the two is there, but not so much when it comes to the film’s villains.

As for the Blu-ray release, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a reference quality Blu-ray disc as picture quality and lossless audio are both phenomenal.  There is also a good amount of special features included, especially features on the making of the film that are fascinating to watch.

It’s important to note that if you want the 3D version of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, you will need to purchase that version of the film on Blu-ray.  The normal version on Blu-ray includes a DVD.

Overall, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is an action-packed popcorn film.  Where it stumbles on character development and potentially a much deeper plot, the film does deliver in action and visual effects.   The film does look and sound magnificent in HD and definitely one of the better looking and sounding Blu-ray releases of 2014!

If you are a big fan of the “Spider-Man” films, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is recommended!

The Amazing Spider-Man (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Amazing Spider-Man” may not be the most faithful film when it comes to film adaptation from the original comic books, but then again, not many superhero films are.  Overall, the film turned out to be much more exciting, much more deeper than I was expecting.  And every ounce of skepticism that I once had, was no longer there.  I absolutely enjoyed “The Amazing Spider-Man” and I loved this Blu-ray release for its wonderful PQ, AQ and the special features galore!  There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best “Spider-Man” film yet! “The Amazing Spider-Man” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. | Marvel, and the names and distinctive likenesses of Spider-Man and all other Marvel characters: ™ and © 2012 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man


DURATION: 86 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Chinese, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Chinese (Mandarin Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), English (US), French (Canadian), French (Parisian), Indonesian / Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am), Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Sequences of Action and Violence)

Release Date: November 9, 2012

Directed by Marc Webb

Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves

Story by James Vanderbilt

Based on the Comic Book Series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Producer: Avi Arad, Matthew Tomach, Laura Ziskin

Executive Producer: Kevin Feige, Michael Grillo, Kyla Kraman, Stan Lee

Associate Producer: Beatriz Sequeira

Music by James Horner

Cinematography by John Schwarzman

Edited by Alan Edward Bell, Michael McCusker, Pietro Scalia

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by J. Michael Riva

Art Direction by Page Buckner, Michael E. Goldman, David F. Klassen, Suzan Wexler

Set Decoration by Leslie A. Pope

Costume Design by Kym Barrett


Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy

Rhys Ifans as The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors

Denis Leary as Captain Stacy

Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben

Sally Field as Aunt May

Irrfan Khan as Rajit Ratha

Campbel Scott as Richard Parker

Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker

Chris Zylka as Flash Thompson

Max Charles as Peter Parker (Age 4)

Jake Keiffer as Jack

Kari Coleman as Helen Stacy

Teenage social outcast Peter (Andrew Garfield) spends his days trying to unravel the mystery of his own past and win the heart of his high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). A mysterious briefcase belonging to his father, who abandoned him when he was a child, leads Peter to his dad’s former partner, Dr. Connors. The discovery of his father’s secret will ultimately shape his destiny of becoming “Spider-Man” and bring him face to face with Connors’ villainous alter ego, the Lizard.

For generations, many children, teens and adults have grown-up reading “The Amazing Spider-Man”.  The Marvel Comics series was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko back in 1963 and in December 2012, will end it’s run (the series will be temporarily replaced with a new series titled “Superior Spider-Man” as part of the Marvel NOW! line).

But many people have grown up with Spider-Man, may it be the comic books, video games, animated series, live action series and in the last decade, treated with three live -action films directed by Sam Raimi.

But one thing that Marvel Comics have done for new generation of readers was to create an Ultimate Line featuring a story that has little similarity to the original history of a character or group, but revised for a modern audience, with a modern storyline.

And while the three Sam Raimi films were blockbuster films that made a lot of money, it would end as a trilogy as the success of the films would set a pretty high price tag to retain filmmaker Sam Raimi and its main cast. also, the price tag for the original cast to continue in the films was quite high.  And the budget for the films were also quite high.

So, how to get away from that high price tag?  Reboot the film series and making it different from the original storyline using modern elements.

And so, we have “The Amazing Spider-Man”, a film directed by Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer) and a screenplay by James Vanderbilt (“Zodiac”, “The Losers”, “The Rundown”), Alvin Sargent (writer for “Spider-Man 2”, “Spider-Man 3”, “Unfaithful”) and Steve Kloves (“Harry Potter” films, “The Fabulous Baker Boys”).

The film would star Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”), Emma Stone (“The Help”, “Easy A”, “Zombieland”), Rhys Ifans (“Notting Hill”, “Anonymous”, “Little Nicky”), Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”, “Ice Age”), Martin Sheen (“The West Wing”, “Apocalypse now”, “The Departed”) and Sally Field (“Forest Gump”, “Brothers and Sisters”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”).

“The Amazing Spider-Man” begins with a four-year old Peter Parker, looking for his dad in his office.  But suddenly his father and mother are seen gathering their belongs, and his father, a scientist, gathering his work and taking young Peter to stay with his uncle Ben (portrayed by Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (portrayed by Sally Fields).

His parents leave with no explanation of where they are going.

Fast forward over a decade later and Peter Parker is a talented photographer and a smart student who excels in science.  But he’s not an athlete and is constantly bullied by jock, Flash Thompson (portrayed by Chris Zylka) and not popular with the girls at school either.

But one student recognizes his intelligence and compassion, Gwen Stacy (portrayed by Emma Stone), a girl that Peter Parker likes.

While living with his uncle and aunt, Peter accidentally finds a hidden bag in the house containing information left behind by his father, including a photo of his father with another scientist. Dr. Curt Connors.  But unfortunately, not much is known of why Richard and Mary Parker left.  But being the curious teen who wants to know what really happened to his parents, Parker’s investigation leads him to Oscorp Industries. where Dr. Curt Connors works and interesting enough, where Gwen Stacy works as an assistant.

He amazes Dr. Connors on his knowledge but is unable to talk to him and we learn that Dr. Connors is being pressured by Dr. Ratha to complete a serum that will cure a terminally ill Norman Osborn, the head of Oscorp Industries. But for Dr. Connors, he is more interested in regenerating his right arm, which he lost long ago.

As for Peter, Peter goes into a lab, where genetically modified spiders are kept. One of the spiders ends up escaping and crawling on Peter Parker and bites him on the neck.  Not feeling well, Peter Parker starts to learn that he has the ability to stick to things, has superhuman speed, strength and a heightened sense of danger.

When Peter tracks down Dr. Connors, he reveals himself to be the son of Richard Parker and Dr. Connors explains that the two were working on a project to combine genetics but Richard Parker left without the missing key.  But since Peter has found his father’s hidden work, he gives Dr. Connors the key.  And he begins to spend time helping Dr. Connors, unfortunately while disobeying his uncle and not following up on his responsibilities.

And during a night where he was supposed to pick up his Aunty May, he ends up working late with Dr. Connors, which upsets his Uncle Ben and leads to a heated argument.   His Uncle Ben explains how his father would talk about how his father would talk about the importance of responsibility.  But this infuriates Peter even more as his father didn’t live up to his responsibility of being a father.  The argument leads Peter to run out, while his Uncle Ben goes out to look for him.

While at a convenience store, Peter tries to buy some milk but is two cents short.  The convenience store owner denies in giving Peter a break and before Peter leaves the store, he sees the customer that was standing behind him, stealing money from the cash register.  As the thief runs away, he trips and his gun slides on the pavement.

Ben, who is looking for Peter, spots the gun and fights with the thief and during the altercation, the thief shoots and kills Ben.

Because of this incident, Peter uses his new skills to become Spider-Man and search for the criminal responsible for killing his uncle.

Meanwhile, Dr. Connors is under the gun to help develop the serum for Norman Osborn but has been focusing on regenerating his arm.  And because he refuses to help develop the serum, he is fired from his job.  But not long after, the regeneration of his arm seems to have worked as Dr. Connors has found a way to use a lizard to regrow his arm.

But unbeknown to Dr. Connors, by doing what he has done, his whole body has turned into a lizard.  And now, the Lizard is terrorizing the streets.

As for Peter Parker, he tries to learn about to know about his responsibilities with his new power, but also how he can use this power for good, not just for revenge in searching for the murderer of his uncle.

While Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy starts to grow, her father (portrayed by Denis Leary), a police captain is deadset in trying to capture Spider-Man who he regards as a vigilante and not helping the police.  And as the Lizard continues the rampage, Captain Stacy puts the blame on Spider-Man.


“The Amazing Spider-Man” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  And as one can expect, this film looks absolutely magnificent on Blu-ray.  Everything from the detail of Spider-Man’s costume, detail on the strands of webbing to the beautiful skyline and of course, character close-ups, the film looks absolutely gorgeous.  Even the shots from high above the city looking down towards Spider-Man and just the overall look and environment looks believable and breathtaking.  Black levels are inky and deep, skin tones are natural and if anything, videophiles will no doubt love how “The Amazing Spider-Man” looks on Blu-ray!

It is important to note that there is a 3D release of the film on Blu-ray (not included with the Blu-ray+DVD+UltraViolet version).


“The Amazing Spider-Man” is presented in English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Chinese, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.  And as one can expect from this film, filled with many action-packed scenes, the lossless soundtrack sounds magnificent and is truly immersive.

The use of surround is done remarkably well.  From Spider-Man shooting out his web, swinging through the city to Peter Parker being thrown around by the Lizard to getting into a fight with Flash, the dialogue and special effects are crystal clear and good use of surround sound usage and LFE.

But also equally impressive is James Horner’s music for the film.  There are tracks that just captivate you, such as the wonderful “The Ganali Device” which showcases James Horner’s piano playing.  But you will also have the action-driven sequence  upbeat tracks such as “The Bridge”, “Lizard at School!”, “Saving New York” (which was an effective style of James Horner to use the piano in such a way).

For the most part, James Horner is a master in creating beautiful music, emotional music.  From his orchestral direction, his use of piano, voice utilization, the music for “The Amazing Spider-Man is original and manages to be different than Elfman’s “Spider-Man” compositions.

Similar to the film, the soundtrack for “The Amazing Spider-Man” is emotional and he builds upon each track that it begins to grow on you and you find yourself enjoying the soundtrack even more.

But I have to say that this is one of the most original soundtracks when it comes to how the piano is utilized.   But at the same time, aiming for beauty, aiming for emotion, there is not a score that  found that sticks out, a track that I found memorable.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Chinese (Mandarin Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), English (US), French (Canadian), French (Parisian), Indonesian / Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am) and Thai.


“The Amazing Spider-Man” comes with the following special features:

  • Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen App – On disc supporting content – You can watch the film at the same time on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Commentary with Marc Webb, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach – Insightful audio commentary by director Marc Webb, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach.  Very informative!
  • The Oscorp Archives – Production Art Gallery – Featuring production art of Spider-Man, The Lizard and the Environments.  You can view each artwork via using your remote (or keyboard if viewing on a computer).
  • Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider Man Reborn The Drawing Board: Development and Direction  – (1:49:49) An excellent seven part documentary which focuses on: Friends and Enemies: Casting, Second Skins: Spidey Suit and the Lizard, Spidey Goes West: Production – Los Angeles, Safe Haven: Production – Sony Studios, Bright Tights, Big City: Production – New York, The Greatest Responsibility – Post Production and Release and Iconic Poses and Digital Environments.  You can watch each as one featurette or individually.
  • Deleted Scenes – (16:21) Featuring eleven deleted scenes.
  • Pre-Visualization – (39:08) Featuring the storyboards and animated sequences for the following sequences: Revised Opening Sequence, Spider Room, The Subway, Birth of Spider-Man, Handstand, Roof Top POV, Overpass, Bridge, Love Swing, Lizard Sewer, High School, Lizard Ambush, Standoff, Crane, Oscorp Lab, Oscorp Finale.
  • Image Progression – Featuring various digital scenes and how they progress over time.   Featuring a total of five image progression reels with optional commentary by Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor Jerome Chen, Animation Supervisor David Schaub and Digital Effects Supervisor David Smith.
  • Stunt Rehearsals  – (12:01) Featuring eight stun rehearsal clips which can be viewed as one featurette or separately: Live Subway, Dave’s script, Spidey Luis Sequence, Escape Under Bridge, Sewer Fight, Big Liz Vs Spidey, Lizard Attacks SWAT, SWAT Attack – V3
  • Developing The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game – (3:30) A look at the development for “The Amazing Spider-Man” video game.


“The Amazing Spider-Man” comes with a cardboard cover case.  A DVD of the film is included with this release plus an UltraViolet code which allows people to stream or download the film to their Smart Phone or tablet.

As a child who grew up reading and enjoying Spider-Man fan, from being introduced to the comic books at a young age and having collected (and recently sold) decades of Spider-Man comic books and toys that I collected over the years, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical of a new Spider-Man film, especially a film not so long after the third film of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy.

Being familiar with what Marvel Comics have done to modernize the character(s) for their films, especially to bring in a new generation of fans not so familiar with the comic books, let alone the ever changing storylines of the character, I look at this reboot as a way of meeting older and newer fans half-way with the classic Spider-Man and the new Ultimate version of Spider-Man, but with newer technology of today, bringing Peter Parker and Spider-Man to the modern age.

And while I know hardcore fans can easily get dismayed with how Hollywood tends to give their own version of super heroes and their origin, personally, I don’t think anyone should be too shocked by now, considering how different other superhero films have been compared to the comic books.   You’re just just not going to get a 100% faithful film adaptation.  And it’s best to come into watching a film based on popular superhero and just accepting that things will be different, while some things will be similar but most importantly, how effective the story will be be, especially the superhero itself.

“The Avengers” and even the recent Dark Knight (Batman) films have shown how these films could be exciting, well-written and enjoyable.  So, can “The Amazing Spider-Man” right?

For “Spider-Man” fans who are trying to forget the third Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” film, fortunately, “The Amazing Spider-Man” manages to incorporate a good balance between the old and the new.

First, let’s talk about the storyline.  The evergoing battle between Spider-Man and the Lizard has been ongoing for so long in the comic books. A good choice for antagonist but it’s also a good way to show a connection Oscorp Industries because of this Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy storyline.

But one thing that was never introduced in the original comic books was Peter Parker’s parents.  It became more of a bigger topic in the ’90s when Marvel introduced this nonsense of clones, but for the film, I actually enjoyed how they brought in the parents, made things a mystery and unlike the comic books, trying not to have this Weapon X connection.  While it’s too early to see how this plays out, I’m glad the subject was introduced into this film.

As a “Spider-Man” fan, while the Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson storyline (and their happiness as a couple to a married couple) will always be important in the life of Peter Parker, what is also important is the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.

Before Peter Parker and Mary Jane, the story of Gwen Stacy has always been important in the Spider-Man universe because Peter Parker will truly learn about the great responsibility he has of being a super-hero.  While a lot of us who have read the comic book series, pretty much knows what will happen to Gwen Stacy, I felt that the writers did a good service for fans by making Gwen the counterpart to Peter Parker.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a film that tries to make compromises with both classic and modern versions.  While Peter Parker is seen as a non-popular guy in “The Amazing Spider-Man”, gone is the science nerd with glasses.  Also, modern technology plays a big part of the film.

I’ve always wondered how a high school student would effectively create powerful webs with the technology used back in the ’60s but at least with “The Amazing Spider-Man”, Peter Parker utilizing technology from Oscorp Industries, makes sense.

I actually like the costume design for “The Amazing Spider-Man” this time around and with the always change in technology, the special effects for “The Amazing Spider-Man” looks absolutely fantastic.  When you see Spider-Man swinging from building to building, you can feel the height and was quite pleased with how technology has improved since the release of the past “Spider-Man” trilogy.

But it’s the characters that really brought a lot heart and soul to the film.  Andrew Garfield may not look super nerdy but he played the part of Peter Parker quite effectively.  Different from Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Spider-Man, I felt that Garfield brought a positive, cool vibe to the character that fans can sympathize for.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was fantastic!  Just the final scene alone with Peter Parker, just the look in her eyes and the smile she gives, is more than enough to make me feel that the right person was cast for the role!

And while Sally Field may not look like the elderly Aunt May that was portrayed in the comic books, to have Sally Field and Martin Sheen play Uncle Ben and Aunt May was another positive when it comes to casting.  Both also did a wonderful job.

And last, Denis Leary did a wonderful job of playing Captain Stacy.  You need a man with attitude to play the role and he nailed it!

As for the primary antagonist, while Rhys Ifans did a great job with Dr. Curt Connors, I was a little iffy when it came to the Lizard’s design.  I wanted to see more the protruding snout that was seen of the character in the comic books with the razor sharp fangs and hissing long tongue.  He looked more like an alien from out of space or swamp creature than the Lizard that I was hoping to see.

But I felt the writers did a wonderful job of separating this reboot from the Sam Raimi trilogy.    And because Gwen Stacy is the love of Peter Parker in this film, one can only wonder how things will playout in the second film.

But overall, I felt that Marc Webb was able to craft a different kind of Spider-Man film that although not 100% faithful to the comic book series, does a magnificent job in capturing those important elements and is able to take the plot and entertain audiences of today!

And with newer technology for CG and special effects, the film looks very fluid during the more action-intense sequences and it played to this film’s overall efficacy.

Speaking of technology, for the Blu-ray release, it’s important to note that there are two versions out on Blu-ray.  One includes the 3D version of the film, while this Blu-ray release features the film via Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet.

The Blu-ray is bundled with many special features and the picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic!  Video and audiophiles should be pleased with this Blu-ray release.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” was a risky film to reboot, not long after the original “Spider-Man” trilogy had ended.  But with over 60-years of comic book history, there is a lot of Spider-Man stories to be told.  And one of those most significant storylines involve Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

While Spider-Man fans know how much of an impact Gwen Stacy had on Peter Parker’s life through the comic books, what better than to bring these two characters and put them in the forefront of this Marvel reboot.  Where the Sam Raimi films did a lot of experimentation of Spider-Man, the superhero, especially his relationship with Mary Jane Watson.

Also, “The Amazing Spider-Man” manages to take the character to a more modern setting and for the most part, the technology behind Peter Parker’s web shooters to the modern technology utilized in his suit, now makes sense.  But it was important to make that distinction of how Peter Parker, a science whiz, was able to incorporate this technology for Spider-Man.  You have to have that connection and that connection is with Oscorp Industries and if you have Oscorp, comic fans know what hopefully, the future of this film series will lead to.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” may not be the most faithful film when it comes to film adaptation from the original comic books, but then again, not many superhero films are.

Overall, the film turned out to be much more exciting, much more deeper than I was expecting.  And every ounce of skepticism that I once had, was no longer there.  Sure, I enjoyed “The Avengers” much, much more than “The Amazing Spider-Man”, but I have to admit that I enjoyed this film much more than any of the three Sam Raimi films.  I felt the way the characters were handled, was much more effective.

Especially the handling of the Peter’s parents but also this new, fresh and cool vibe with its characters utilizing modern technology and setting.  Everything seemed right!  The technology seemed right!  And with the solid performances by its characters with a much more entertaining storyline, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best “Spider-Man” film yet!

I absolutely enjoyed “The Amazing Spider-Man” and I loved this Blu-ray release for its wonderful PQ, AQ and the special features galore!

Highly recommended!

Emma Stone to Make First Oscar® Show Appearance Oscar Sunday, February 26

February 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Beverly Hills, CA – Emma Stone will present at the 84th Academy Awards® ceremony, telecast producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced today. It will be her first time presenting on the show.

Stone appears in the Best Picture nominee “The Help.” Her other film credits include “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” “Friends with Benefits,” “Easy A” and “Superbad.” She will be seen next in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Gangster Squad.”

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

# # #

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners—the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.


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

November 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A powerful film with a magnificent performance by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. “The Help” is a moving drama that opens your eyes to the difficulties and challenges of Black maids during that era in time.   Heartbreaking and a story of inspirational hope, “The Help” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Dreamworks II Distribution Co. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Help


DURATION: 146 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: DreamWorks Pictures

RATED: PG-13 (For Thematic Material)

Release Date: November 29, 2011

Directed by Tate Taylor

Screenplay by Tate Taylor

Novel by Kathryn Stockett

Produced by Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Brunson Green

Co-Producer: Sonya Lunsford

Executive Producer: Mohamed Khalaf Al-MAzrouei, L. Dean Jones Jr., John Norris, Mark Radcliffe, Jeff Skoll, Tate Taylor

Music by Thomas Newman

Cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt

Edited by Hughes Winborne

Casting by Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

Production Design by Mark Ricker

Art Direction by Curt Beech

Set Decoration by Rena DeAngelo

Costume Design by Sharen Davis


Emma Stone as Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan

Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark

Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook

Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson

Jessica Chastain Celia Foote

Ahna O’Reilly as Elizabeth Leefolt

Allison Janney as Charlotte Phelan

Anna Camp as Jolene French

The Help stars Emma Stone as the courageous Eugenia “Skeeter‟ Phelan, who goes against the beliefs of her family and friends to find her own voice. The critically praised, emotional performance of Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark, a woman who secretly dreams of one day having more than she has been given, offers a deep emotional storyline. The breakthrough performance of Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson, whose sass and tough exterior disguise the pain and fear she faces every day, brings both drama and humor to the film. Bryce Dallas Howard breathes life into the catty Jackson socialite Hilly Holbrook and Jessica Chastain brings charm and humor as Celia Foote, a kind housewife living outside of town who longs to fit in. Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney and Ahna O’Reilly also provide vivacious performances that round out this all-star female ensemble. 

In 2009, Kathryn Stockett’s novel “The Help” was released and praised by book critics of major publications.

For a book that was rejected by dozens of literary agents, the book would eventually become a major hit in 2011 as five million copies of the books have been sold and it spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Kathryn’s childhood friend, Tate Taylor (director of the film “Pretty Ugly People), who grew up with Stockett in Jackson, Mississippi, gave Taylor the film rights and in 2011, the film adaptation of “The Help” was released and the film would receive rave review from film critics and the film which was budgeted at $25 million, would go on to earn over $196 million in the box office.

The period film would feature a talented cast which would include Emma Stone (“Easy A”, “Zombieland”, “Superbad”), Viola Davis (“Doubt”, “Solaris”, “Far From Heaven”), Bryce Dallas Howard (“Spider-Man”, “Terminator Salvation”, “The Village”), Octavia Spencer (“Spider-Man”, “Seven Pounds”), Jessica Chastain (“The Tree of Life”, “The Debt”, “Take Shelter”), Allison Janney (“The West Wing”, “Juno”), Cicely Tyson (“Sounder”, “Roots”, “A Lesson Before Dying”) and Sissy Spacek (“Carrie”, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”).

“The Help” takes place during the early 1960’s and we are introduced to a Black maid named Aibileen Clark (played by Viola Davis) who works for the Leefolt family and often leaving her own family to do her maid duties which include taking care of Elizabeth Leefolt’s young daughter.

We then are shown a moment in time where a journalist begins asking questions to Aibilieen about her life as a maid.

The film then goes back in time and focuses on Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (played by Emma Stone), a recent graduate who has applied for a major publication in New York but was rejected because she needed more journalism experience.  So, Skeeter returns back home to Mississippi to work at the Jackson newspaper.

While returning home, she reunites with her friends which include Hilly Holbrook (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) who leads a group of other fellow socialite, upperclass mothers from the area as part of the Junior League.  Hilly doesn’t care for the Black people that much and she tries to convince the other mothers to have their husbands build a bathroom so they do not have to share a toilet with the Black maids because in her words “black people carry different diseases” than white people. In fact Hilly has been working with the Governor of Mississippi in order to pass the “Home Help Sanitation Initiative” bill to prevent Black help from using the same toilets in their home.

We learn that Aibileen is often busy with taking care of the Leefolt’s children and that her daughter spends more time around the maid than the mother and that Elizabeth Leefolt can’t even take care of her young child.

Meanwhile, at Hilly Holbrook’s home, she often treats her maid Minny Jackson (played by Octavia Spencer) quite terribly and looks at the Black maids as lowly people. And she sets the tone for the other mothers who tend to follow her.

But Skeeter, she is the opposite because when she was younger, she was raised by a Black maid named Constantine Jefferson (played by Cicely Tyson) who literally raised her (similar to how Aibilieen is raising Elizabeth’s Leefolt’s daughter).

But while Hilly and friends are more interested in Skeeter finding a man and getting married, so she can start a family, Skeeter is more interested in pursuing her career as a journalist.  In fact, after seeing how her friends treat their maids, Skeeter gets an idea to write a book about “The Help” which she is submitting drafts to Miss Stein, the publisher in New York and hopes this will be the experience that she needs in getting a career for a major publication.

But the problem is that Skeeter needs to get the time to interview the maids but since discrimination is quite large in Mississippi, it is against the law for the whites and Blacks to be together and its even more problematic for Skeeter because her friends are the maid’s bosses and they rather not have their friend associating with the Black people.

Meanwhile, when Skeeter comes home, she keeps asking her cancer-stricken mother Charlotte (played by Allison Janney) of what happened to their longtime maid Constantine.  But for some reason, her mother and father will not tell her the truth.

So, Skeeter devotes her time by secretly meeting with Aibileen at her home to conduct the interviews.  And Aibileen, who was reluctant at first to tell her story to a White woman decides that perhaps telling her story to the public would be good.

Meanwhile, Minny is fired by Hilly for using her toilet and when Hilly tries to make it hard for Minny to get a job, she takes a job with Celia Foot, a kind woman but since she started dating Hilly’s former long-time boyfriend, she is branded as a whore by Hilly and since the other women follow’s Hilly’s lead, they tend to look down on her.  And not long after, Milly joins Aibilene in sharing their story with Skeeter.   But Miss Stein requires Skeeter to find at least 12 more people to document their story as “the Help”.

And as Skeeter gets deep into her story, she starts to learn how her friends are towards the Black maids and how they are mistreated.  And with the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of African American civil rights activist Medgar Evers, the Black maids know that their voices need to be heard and hope that Skeeter can document their experience.


“The Help” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).  The film looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray.  The film manages to capture the details of the South quite effectively, especially certain details that are much clearer such as the freckles on Emma Stone’s face,  the cut on Minny’s forehead or even cold sore on Hilly’s mouth.  If anything, the clarity and detail of this film is much more evident, especially during the closeup of the characters and the details of scenery, including the homes such as Aibilene’s home as we can see the paint gone from the old home.

Also, felt that part of the efficacy of this film was location and costume design.  Cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt (“Closer”, “Batman Forever”, “Lethal Weapon”) did a great job in capturing the look and feel of the 1960’s and it really helps to find a location such as Greenwood, Mississippi retain the look that the city of Jackson had a long time ago.  But costume/makeup and hair design was well-done and really made this film come alive! And it all looks great on Blu-ray!

I didn’t see any banding, edge enhancement, artifacts or any problems on this Blu-ray.  If anything, “The Help” looks fantastic on Blu-ray!


“The Help” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHZ/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  For this type of film, there is not much of action.  In fact, the film is primarily dialogue and music-driven.  While surround channels are mostly used for the ambiance of a crowded room or church area, I wasn’t expecting “The Help” to have an immersive soundtrack.  But for the most part, dialogue is clear and the music compositions by Thomas Newman (“WALL-E”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “American Beauty”) sounds fantastic on HD!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.


“The Help” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of “The Help” From Friendship To Film – (23:29) Featuring interviews with director Tate Taylor, writer Kathryn Stockett, producer Chris Columbus and Brunson Green and the cast of “The Help”.  From the challenges of making this film and working among friends.
  • In Their Own Words: A Tribute To The Maids Of Mississippi – (11:51) Featuring a interview done by Tate Taylor and Octavia Spencer with Tate’s maid and also other maids (and their daughters) in regards to their memories of working during the turbulent ’60s.
  • Deleted Scenes – Five deleted scenes with introductions by Director Tate Taylor.
  • “The Living Proof” music video by Mary J. Blige – (5:08)
“The Help” comes with a slipcover case and a DVD.  The DVD is presented in 1:85:1, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital and subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

A powerful film with a magnificent performance by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, “The Help” is a moving drama that opens your eyes to the difficulties of Black maids during that era in time.

There is no doubt in my mind that in order for “The Help” to be as effective for its film adaptation, you’re going to need talent that can make viewers feel the raw emotion that these characters go through onscreen.  But also people who have experienced having a Black maid and also were passionate in giving a voice to those maids.

You have to give credit to author Kathryn Stockett and screenplay writer and director Tate Taylor for sticking to their guns for the making of this film because without this friendship, I’m not sure if the film would have been as successful as it was.

For one, these two grew up together.  Both came from broken homes and both were raised by their Black maids.  For Stockett, the novel was therapeutic to write about her past but also making her think about her maid Dimitri and how she was part of her family for over 30 years.  And while her book was being shopped with no success, as best friends with Taylor, she had always wanted Tate to direct the film, whether or not it was low-budget or high-budget.

And what is most remarkable is the dynamic among these best friends but also their close friends around them.  Actress Octavia Spencer worked with Tate Taylor as production assistants on the 1996 film “A Time to Kill” and both moved from the south to Los Angeles earlier in their career.  Octavia played a role in Stockett’s novel, giving her input (even her disdain at first but as a friend of Tate, she read it).  Also, a close friend was actress Allison Janney who was part of Tate’s circle of friends and producer Brunson Green and both worked with Tate in his smaller films.

But they faced major opposition because Tate was not a well-known director and when Hollywood told Stockett that she can use her friend to direct the film, she wasn’t going to budget.  And it goes to show you how close these best friends are.  And fortunately because Tate was friends with producer/director Chris Columbus (“Night at the Museum” films, “Fantastic Four” films, “Harry Potter” films) and his wife loved the Stockett’s novel and Chris knows Steven Spielberg (who co-founded Dreamworks), Spielberg gave the thumbs up to the project and Kathryn Stockett’s best friend Tate Taylor would eventually get this opportunity to direct this film.

And this is what I found to be magical about “The Help”.  It’s a film that features a close circle of friends who believed in the project but also a story that is so personal for both Kathryn Stockett and Tate Taylor and their love for the maids that raised them, that “The Help” was made possible.  And for the most part, the critics and viewers enjoyed this film.

Not only is it a powerful, honest and entertaining period film, “The Help” is an important film because it does give a voice for to those women who worked during those turbulent times.  Is the story perfect?  Probably not.  While the best-selling novel was loved by film critics and readers, it was also criticized by the Association of Black Women Historians for distorting and ignoring the experiences of Black domestic workers.  I know there are many stories of challenges and dangers that many other maids out there but at least “The Help” does give people the opportunity to talk about the past.  For surviving Black maids, their daughters to talk about stories from the past and if anything, giving America and people around the world a portrait of how things were at that time.

While the film focuses on the lives of Black maids, it was important for the film adaptation to put the mental image of how wrong these women were treated.  While the novel is much more darker than the film and even more heartbreaking, I do credit Tate Taylor for giving viewers some hope with this film, than giving the exact ending of what took place in the book.

But if there is one thing that brings Kathryn Stockett’s novel-to-life, its the performances.  Both Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have done a magnificent job in this film and I can only hope these two women are nominated for various film awards because their performance was outstanding!

You can sense the fear in Davis’ character of Aibelene as she doesn’t know if she can trust a white woman with her story.  You can see the frustration of Octavia Spencer’s character of Minny as she tries her best to keep quiet when her boss is often criticizing her and making her out as if she is nothing. It’s all in the eyes and the facial expressions and both women are able to effectively show those raw emotions onscreen.

As for Emma Stone, it was quite interesting to see her in a more serious role than the last films I have seen her in, especially actress Allison Janney as Skeeter’s mother Charlotte Phelan.   But as far as the antagonist goes, it was great to see actress Bryce Dallas Howard doing a good job playing such an appalling role of Hilly Holbrook.   In fact, my wife (who has watched this film several times) was often saying expletives each time Hilly showed up on screen and just loved the scenes that dealt with Minny’s pie.

And it was great to see Cicely Tyson in the film as well and see how her role as Constantine made a big impact in the life of Skeeter.  But also Sissy Spacek who plays Missus Walters and her jabs at her uptight daughter Hilly were effective in breaking down the seriousness of the movie with humor.

As for the Blu-ray release, it was great to have the “Making of the Help: From Friendship to Film” which goes into more detail of the friendship between Stockett and Taylor and their circle of friends that took part in this film, also to include “In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi” included with the Blu-ray release but also deleted scenes which feature two additional scenes such as Hilly confronting Skeeter on the commode situation but also a deleted scene showing what happened to Minny after the book was released.  I do agree for pacing purposes, these deleted scenes were best left out.

I would have loved to hear a director’s commentary or even cast commentary included but still, are a few special features included with this Blu-ray & DVD combo release that were quite entertaining to watch.    Picture quality was very good, the lossless audio soundtrack was appropriate.

Overall, “The Help” is a fantastic film that takes a look back at the racism endured by Black maids back in the 1960’s.  Although there is more to the story of what other types of harassment or difficulties Black maids have had in the job, nor does the film focus on the lives that these women have when they do return back home after work, there are many scenes throughout the film that are heartbreaking but also inspirational.

“The Help” is highly recommended!


Friends with Benefits (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Friends with Benefits” is a charming, sexy and fun romantic comedy featuring a wonderful performance by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and a romantic comedy capturing both the beauty of love in New York City and Los Angeles by keeping things real!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Screen Gems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Friends with Benefits


DURATION: 109 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Sexual Content and Language)

Release Date: December 2, 2011

Directed by Will Gluck

Screenplay by Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck

Story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman, David A. Newman

Produced by Janet Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Liz Glotzer, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer

Co-Producer: Alicia Emmrich, Nicolas Stern

Executive Producer: Glenn S. Gainor

Cinematography by Michael Grady

Edited by Tia Nolan

Casting by Lisa Miller Katz

Production Design by Marcia Hinds

Art Direction by Bo Johnson

Set Decoration by Cindy Coburn, Alyssa Winter

Costume Design by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus


Justin Timberlake as Dylan

Mila Kunis as Jamie

Patricia Clarkson as Lorna

Jenna Elfman as Annie

Bryan Greenberg as Parker

Richard Jenkins as Mr. Harper

Woody Harrelson as Tommy

Nolan Gould as Sam

Andy Samberg as Quincy

Shaun White as himself

Masi Oka as Darin Arturo Morena

Emma Stone as Kayla

Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is done with relationships. Jamie (Mila Kunis) decides to stop buying into the Hollywood clichés of true love. When the two become friends they decide to try something new and take advantage of their mutual attraction – but without any emotional attachment. Physical pleasure without the entanglements. Sounds easy enough for two logical adults, right? Not so much. They soon realize romantic comedy stereotypes might exist for a reason.

Filmmaker Will Gluck (“Easy A”, “The Loop”) is back with a romantic comedy titled “Friends With Benefits”.

Featuring a story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, the film would feature an all-star ensemble cast starring Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”, “That ’70s Show”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), Justin Timberlake (“In Time”, “Bad Teacher”, “The Social Network”), Bryan Greenberg (“Bride Wars”, “The Perfect Score”), Jenna Elfman (“Dharma & Greg”, “Keeping the Faith”, “Edtv”), Woody Harrelson (“Cheers”, “Zombieland”, “Natural Born Killers”), Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”, “Step Brothers”, “Burn After Reading”) and Patricia Clarkson (“The Green Mile”, “Shutter Island”).

The film was well-received by film critics and the $35 million film would go on to make $149 million in the box office.

“Friends with Benefits” begins with Dylan (played by Justin Timberlake) meeting with his girlfriend Kayla (played by Emma Stone) in Los Angeles and Jamie (played by Mila Kunis) meeting her boyfriend Quincy (played by Andy Samberg) in New York.

The night takes a bad turn for both Dylan and Jamie as they are dumped.

And now it’s a new beginning.  Jamie, an Executive Recruiter of a job agency in New York City has been trying to land Dylan, an art director for an Internet company with GQ Magazine.  So, she recruits Dylan and tries to win him over with making the move from Los Angeles to New York City.

At first, Dylan is not too sure if he wants to move but when Jamie shows him around and he sees a flash mob of people dancing right before his eyes, he is sold and takes the job at GQ.

At GQ, he meets gay sports writer Tommy (played by Woody Harrelson), who keeps asking Dylan if he’s gay (expecting him to be gay because he is an art director) and as for Jamie, when she goes to meet with Dylan and have him sign a contract (that he is committed of staying at GQ for a minimum of one year and to also ensure she gets her commission for recruiting him), he asks her out for lunch, not a date but as friends.

And as the two develop a friendship and hang out with each other, after watching a love story on television, the two start discussing about sex and relationships and how their last relationships have ended badly.  Out of the blue, Dylan and Jamie start talking about what if they have sex together but no emotional attachment…  Friends with benefits.

And immediately both begin to have fun having wild sex with each other.

But over time, the two discuss about what if they start dating again.  And as she watches Dylan hit on a beautiful woman (who happens to be married), he watches as Jamie hits on a guy named Parker (played by Bryan Greenberg) and they both hit off and have a date.

While Dylan hooks up with a wild woman (that is a bit too wild for his taste), her dates go well with Dylan but she tells him she doesn’t have sex until she goes on five dates with the guy.  And sure enough, she spends more time with Parker and Dylan is left often thinks about her.  When she goes on her fifth date with Parker, the two have sex but the following morning, he tells her that he wasn’t looking for a relationship and Jamie is upset and feels used.

While Jamie tries to talk about her love life with her mother Lorna (played by Patricia Clarkson), Dylan feels bad about what happened to Jamie and invites her to come with him to California, so she can meet his father (played by Richard Jenkins), his sister Annie (played by Jenna Elfman) and her son.  But also to see how his father is doing as he is slowly losing his memories because of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As the two spend time in Los Angeles, both start to realize that they have an emotional connection…but will either admit it or will they still want to be friends with benefits without the emotional attachment?


“Friends with Benefits” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  The picture quality of the film is very good.  Shot digitally, it is obvious that the goal of cinematographer Michael Grady (“Easy A”, “Notorious”, “Faster”)  was to capture the beauty of New York City and Los Angeles.  These scenes are absolutely beautiful and really capture the life of the city through the details of the city and the vibrant colors.

Skin tones are natural, black levels are deep and I detected no banding, artifacts or any problems.  “Friends with Benefits” looks fantastic in HD!


“Friends with Benefits” is presented in English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The film is primarily dialogue and musically driven as one would expect from a romantic comedy.  There are moments such as the airport scene giving more ambiance to the film but for a romantic comedy, this film sports crystal clear dialogue and bass thumping music ala Kriss Kross’ “Jump” and Foster the Parents “Pumped Up Kids”.

But for the most part, the lossless soundtrack works for this romantic comedy and the dialogue and music are crystal clear!


“Friends with Benefits” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Will Gluck, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis – A fun and hilarious audio commentary with the two main stars and director Will Gluck.  Both have fun telling jokes, cussing and just having fun discussing the film.
  • Bonus Benefits: A Pop-Up Trivia Track – A Blu-ray exclusive.  While watching the film, you can have various trivia showing onscreen while watching the film.
  • Deleted Scenes – (8:49)  Featuring ten deleted scenes (Superheroes on Hollywood Blvd, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Creative Meeting, GQ Party, Let’s Stay Friends, Shower Cap, Hollywood Tour, Princess and the Pony, Dylan Tries to Call Jamie, and Twin Pythons) with optional writer and director commentary.
  • Outtakes – (6:40) Featuring outtakes from “Friends with Benefits”.
  • On Set With FWB – (5:39) A Blu-ray exclusive featurette featuring an interview with the cast and crew about working on the set of “Friends with Benefits”, shooting in New York City and Los Angeles.
  • In A Flash: Choreographing A Mob – (5:48) A Blu-ray exclusive featurette on how the flash mob scenes were created.

When it comes to romantic comedies, especially sex comedies…sometimes the storyline features bad breakups, rebound relationships but for the most part, comedies that you can sense how things will end right from the beginning.

And while the ending for this film fit the banality of other romantic comedies, its how the two protagonists get to that final point.  And for a film title such as “Friends with Benefits”, you expect a film to showcase quite a bit of sex.  For the most part, you get a lot of good scenes with both Timberlake and Kunis in bed (note: Justin Timberlake does do his first rear nude scene while Kunis used a body double) and experimenting with each other and having fun!  But fortunately, this is not the dominating factor of the film.

The film focuses on their emotional attachment to each other, knowing that they have feelings for each other but they are so scared about how their relationships have ended in the past, that being “friends with benefits” would alleviate them from having any emotional attachment.  And instead of rushing into those emotions that the two have with each other, we see the journey as the two try to have flings with other people and then of course, when Jamie (Kunis) goes to Los Angeles to meet with his family, things happen that separates the two.

And the chemistry between both Timberlake and Kunis was very well done!  In fact, I found the two much more believable onscreen than Timberlake had with Cameron Diaz on “Bad Teacher”.  The two looked right for each other and I was quite pleased to see how Timberlake has evolved as an actor and the same for actress Mila Kunis.  Both did a wonderful job!

And the supporting cast were also just as good, especially Patricia Clarkson as Lorna, the mother of Jamie but also a woman who has had a problematic sexual past.  Woody Harrelson as the gay co-worker named Tommy who is constantly asking Dylan if he is really gay, Richard Jenkins as Dylan’s father who has alzheimer’s and has a habit of pulling down his trousers and Jenna Elfman as Dylan’s sister Annie.  Even the short appearances by Jason Segel and Rashida Jones (who star on a cheesy Hollywood romance story), as well as Andy Samberg and Emma Stone were fun to watch!

But one thing I love about romantic films is when they can capture the city the characters talk so much about.  If you talk about New York City, I want to see New York City as much as they can show on the film.  The same with Los Angeles and the film manages to showcase both cities quite well. I also liked how the film’s storyline took a jab at the usual Hollywood romantic comedy and showing that although Hollywood romantic comedies tend to have the fairytale story, not all are realistic and “Friends with Benefits” is a film that tries to keep things real!  I dig that!

As for the Blu-ray release, there are two available on release date.  One with a DVD and Ultraviolet copy and the regular Blu-ray release with no DVD and UV copy.  The special features were entertaining especially the audio commentary which was hilarious as well as the included outtakes.  Also, it was interesting to learn about the challenges of shooting in NYC and Los Angeles and also choreographing the flash mob scenes.  The picture quality was vibrant and the on-location scenery shots of NYC and LA were awesome and audio quality was appropriate for this film.

Overall, “Friends with Benefits” is a charming, sexy and fun romantic comedy featuring a wonderful performance by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and a romantic comedy capturing both the beauty of love in New York City and Los Angeles by keeping things real!

“Friends with Benefits” is recommended!


October 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW YORK – October 8, 2010 – SNL returns with two back-to-back live shows starting on October 23rd with actress Emma Stone and musical guest Kings of Leon.

Most recently seen in the feature film comedy, “Easy A,” Emma Stone is currently filming “The Help.” Stone can next be seen opposite Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” due out April 2011.

Kings of Leon will make their second musical guest appearance debuting new songs from their fifth studio album, “Come Around Sundown.” The album is a follow-up to their 2008 album “Only By The Night,” which won the group four Grammy’s including Record of the Year.

Jon Hamm will serve as host for his third time on October 30. Hamm is the star of the multiple Emmy award-winning series “Mad Men,” and currently can be seen alongside Ben Affleck, Blake Lively and Rebecca Hall in “The Town.”

Grammy award-winner Rihanna will make her second musical guest appearance with performances from her soon to be released fifth studio album, “Loud.” Rihanna’s singles continue to top the Billboard charts, including her latest single, “Only Girl (In the World).”

“Saturday Night Live” is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.