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Supergirl: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Supergirl: The Complete First Season” is a delightfully, entertaining superhero action drama series that definitely does a great job of paying homage to the comic book series, but also showcasing episodes that are entertaining, well-written and features a good balance between humor, action and drama. Whether or not you enjoyed the comic books, this is a superhero series definitely worth watching!  “Supergirl: The Complete First Season” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Supergirl: The Complete First Season

TV SEASON AIR DATE: 2015-2016

DURATION: Episodes 1-20 (877 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Warner Bros.

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: August 9, 2016


Directed by Glen Winter, Dermott Downs, Larry Teng, thor Freudenthal, Karen Gaviola, Kevin Tancharoen, Kesse Warn, Lexi Alexander, Jamie Babbit, Chris Fisher, Nick Gomez, Adam Kane, Steve Shill, John F. Showalter

Written by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, Caitlin Parrish, Derek Simon, Yahlin Chang, Michael Grassi, Rachel Shukert, Ted Sullivan, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, James DeWille, Anna Musky-Goldwyn, Jessica Queller, Robert L. Rovner

Produced by Michael Grassi, Ted Sullivan

Co-Producer: Sheridan Thayer, Jennifer Lence, Carl Ogawa, Joanie L. Woehler

Executive Producer: Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Sarah Schechter

Consulting Producer: Robert L. Rovner, Roberto Aguirre-Sarcasa

Music by Blake Neely

Cinematography by Jeffrey C. Mygatt, Michael Barrett, David Stockton

Edited by Andi Armaganian, Barbara Gerard, Harry Jierjian

Casting by David Rapaport, Lyndsey Baldasare

Production Design by Seth Reed, Cabot McMullen, Tyler Bishop Harron

Art Direction by John B. Josselyn, Giao-Chau Ly, Jim Wallis, David Meyer

Set Decoration by Andrea Mae Fenton

Costume Design by Kiersten Ronning


Starring:

Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers

Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen

Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers

Jeremy Jordan as Winn Schott

David Harewood as Hank Henshaw

Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant

Peter Facinelli as Maxwell Lord

Jenna Dewan Tatum as Lucy Lane

Briana Venskus as Agent Vasquez

Laura Benanti as Alura Zor-El

Chris Vance as Non

Italia Ricci as Siobhan Smythe

Helen Slater as Eliza Danvers

Glenn Morshower as General Sam Lane

Dean Cain as Jeremiah Danvers


Born on the doomed planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped at the same time as her cousin, Superman, but didn’t arrive on Earth until years later after being lost. Raised by her adopted family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to hide the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin. Years later, at age 24, living in National City and working as an assistant for Catco Worldwide Media mogul Cat Grant, Kara has spent so many years trying to fit in that she forgot to ever stand out. All that changes when she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and become the hero she was always destined to be. With the help of Daily Planet photographer James Olsen, her bioengineer sister Alex, and the research of the super-secret, off-the-grid Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), who are tasked with keeping the Earth safe from aliens, Kara takes to the skies to protect her world.


From Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg (the creators of the “Arrow” and “The Flash” TV series) comes the action-adventure drama TV series “Supergirl”.

The series stars Melissa Benoist (“Whiplash”, “The Longest Ride”, “Glee”), Mehcad Brooks (“The Valley of Elah”, “Glory Road”, “Necessary Roughness”), Chyler Leigh (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Not Another Teen Movie”, “Brake”), Jeremy Jordan (“The Last Five Years”, “Joyful Noise”, “Smash”), David Harewood (“Blood Diamond”, “Homeland”, “The Brothers Grimsby”), Calista Flockhart (“Ally McBeal”, “Brothers & Sisters”, “The Birdcage”), Peter Facinelli (“Twilight” films, “The Scorpion King”), Jenna Dewan Tatum (“Step Up”, “Tamara”, “10 Years”), Briana Venskus (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Nashville”, “Grace and Frankie”) and Laura Benanti (“Nashville”, “The Good Wife”, “Nurse Jackie”).

With the first season airing on CBS (and the second season moving to the CW and set to premiere in October 2016), “Supergirl” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in August 2016.

“Supergirl” revolves around Kara Zor-El, the young daughter of Zor-El (portrayed by Robert Grant) and Alura (portrayed by Laura Benanti).

When she was 12-years-old, she was placed in an escape vehicle before the Planet Krypton exploded.  Her mother gave her instructions to protect her infant cousin, Kal-El (who would be known as Clark Kent/Superman) and similar to her cousin, she would have special powers once she arrives in Earth, due to the sun.

But as Kal-El made it to Earth, Kara’s spacecraft was caught in the shockwave of Krypton’s explosion and was stuck in the Phantom Zone where time has stopped and 24-years has passed but yet Kara has not aged.

Kal-El, who was Superman found Kara’s spacecraft and saved her.  And he places her in the company of her new adoptive parents, the Danvers family and her sister Alex Danvers.  And was taught to hide her powers and not use them.

The series takes place a decade later and Kara Danvers (portrayed by Melissa Benoist) is employed as an assistant at the CatCo Worldwide Media.

She works for the arrogant and snobbish boss, Cat Grant (portrayed by Calista Flockhart) who is jealous by her former mentor, Perry White of the Daily Planet thanks to their coverage of Superman and trying to find ways to boost attention to her company.

Kara is closed to her IT friend Winn Scott (portrayed by Jeremy Jordan) and former Daily Planet photographer, James Olsen (portrayed by Mehcad Brooks).

One day, Kara’s stepsister Alex Danvers (portrayed by Chyler Leigh) was riding in a plane that was sabotage to explode.

Fearing for her sister’s life, Kara uses her superpowers and eventually, saving her and many people from death.  But as others took photos of her, Cat Grant immediately has her paper reporting on the mysterious woman, dubbing her “Supergirl”.

But Kara learns that her sister Alex is a doctor and scientist that works for Hank Henshaw (portrayed by David Harewood) at the DEO. The DEO’s role is to study extraterrestrial activity and are very familiar with Kara’s powers but also are aware that when Kara’s ship was caught of the shock wave explosion, it pulled a Krypton prison known as Fort Rozz along with her to Earth.

And now, Krypton’s top criminals are running around Earth and are gathering together, many who want she and also Superman dead.

As Kara now wants to use her powers for good but also to learn more about herself and her true powers, with the help of her friends and the DEO, she has taken the identity of Supergirl and has become the latest sensation in National City.


VIDEO:

“Supergirl” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The picture quality for this series is very good. With its high production value and many outdoor scenes, overall picture quality shows very good detail, especially with closeups.

I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Supergirl” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The series is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and action sequences.  From the various battles that Supergirl takes part in, to the sounds of her flying through air, there is good use of the surround channels.  Overall, lossless audio is very good for this action/drama TV series.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Supergirl: The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring deleted scenes from the episode “Red Faced”.

DISC 2:

  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring deleted scenes from the episodes: “Hostile Takeover”, “Blood Bonds”, “Strange Visitor from Another Planet” and “For the Girl Who Has Everything”.

DISC 3:

  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring deleted scenes for “Solitude”, “Falling”, “Manhunter” and “Worlds Finest”.
  • Supergirl: 2015 Comic-Con Panel – (14:50) A featurette from San Diego Comic Con for the “Supergirl” panel (excerpt).
  • The Man From Mars – (9:36) A featurette about J’onn J’onzz (Martian Manhunter) and his alias, Hank Henshaw.
  • A World Left Behind: Krypton – (10:41) A short documentary about the history of Krypton and its role and depiction in “Supergirl”.
  • Gag Reel – (4:05) Outtakes from the first season of “Supergirl”.

EXTRAS:

“Supergirl: The Complete First Season” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code.


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As a person who grew up purchasing and reading a lot of DC Comics titles, I have always been a big fan of the Superman-related titles.  May it be “Superman”, “Superman: The Man of Steel”, “Action Comics”, “Justice League of America”, “Superboy”, “World’s Finest” and also “Supergirl”.

“Supergirl” was always an interesting title because she has been depicted in so many different ways through the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and the present-time.

As Kara Danvers was a girl growing up and discovering her powers and showing a different lifestyle compared to her cousin, her storyline has been given more substance in recent stories to make her more relevant in the DC Universe and with today’s TV series giving new life to DC characters such as “The Flash”, Green Arrow in the series “Arrow” and now with “Supergirl”.

While the series manages to capture the “Supergirl” style of the comic books of Kara’s self-discovery, trying to fit in today’s society and businessworld, the series also goes further in exploring Supergirl’s relationships, with her stepsister Alex, her co-worker James Olsen and Winn Scott and more.

For DC Comics fans, they will no doubt love the series for its fascinating storylines but also the inclusion of J’onn J’onz (Martian Manhunter), Red Tornado and also a series collaboration with “The Flash” (and yes, the multiverse is discussed).  Also, for those who loved Helen Slater in the older “Supergirl” films, they will love the fact that she plays the role of Kara’s stepmother Eliza.  And also, the fact that her stepfather Jeremiah is portrayed by Dean Cain, who played Clark Kent/Superman in the TV series “Lois & Clark”.

Let’s first talk about what I loved about the series.  I loved how the series established it’s connection with Kal-El/Superman and creating this new story of how Kara’s spacecraft brought down the Kryptonian prison to Earth.  So, it really lends to storylines in regards to Supergirl taking on other Kryptonians and alien superbeings.

I loved the fact that not every episode relates to Kryptonian villains and there are other interactions with DC superheroes and characters.  But most importantly, humanizing Kara Danvers by featuring her relationship with her sister Alex.  And the two working together but also having their own differences at times.

I also enjoyed the use of comedy in this drama series.  Similar to “The Flash”, I really dig the balance of humor and drama.

What I didn’t like?  It’s not more of not liking, it’s more of how similar the DEO is to Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., I’m not sure if I want to see the DEO on every episode but it is what is and Kara is doing work for the organization to trust her as Supergirl and it gives her access and opportunities.  But the problem I find with this, is how James Olsen and her friend Winn Scott are involved with Supergirl’s life, including her actions with the DEO.

This is something that Superman/Clark Kent would ever allow a civilian that he is close and have a friendly relationship with and letting them be so close.  Superman/Clark Kent never gave James Olsen much access to his superhero life because he was always in fear of putting his friends and family in jeopardy.

But for “Supergirl”, with her two friends now going with her to the DEO location, this leaves her friends open to being targeted and I can see these them as liabilities.  So, this is something that I can only hope to see writers explore as part of Kara’s learning experience of being a hero.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good as close-ups show very good detail.  Picture quality is primarily outdoors and is vibrant, while I saw no signs of banding or artifacts.  Lossless audio is very good with crystal clear dialogue and good use of the surround channels for action sequences.

As for special features, you get several deleted scenes and also a few featurettes.  Unfortunately, no audio commentary are included.

Overall, “Supergirl: The Complete First Season” is a delightfully, entertaining superhero action drama series that definitely does a great job of paying homage to the comic book series, but also showcasing episodes that are entertaining, well-written and features a good balance between humor, action and drama.  Whether or not you enjoyed the comic books, this is a superhero series definitely worth watching!

“Supergirl: The Complete First Season” is recommended!

 

ABC Family Original Series – The Lying Game

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

 “The Lying Game,” a new one-hour scripted drama, follows Emma, a kind-hearted foster kid who learns she has an identical twin sister, Sutton. Sutton, unlike Emma, was adopted by wealthy parents and is seemingly living an ideal life. After their initial meeting, Sutton talks Emma into stepping into her life for a few days while she pursues a lead on the mysterious identity of their birth mother.

After Sutton inexplicably fails to return to the girls’ designated meeting place, Emma must decide whether to come clean about her identity and risk her own safety in the hope of uncovering her twin sister’s whereabouts, along with the truth about why they were separated in the first place.

“The Lying Game” stars Alexandra Chando (“As The World Turns”) as Emma/Sutton; Andy Buckley (“The Office”) as Ted; Helen Slater (“Supergirl”) as Kristin; Blair Redford (“90210”) as Garrett; Sharon Pierre-Louis (“Lincoln Heights”) as Nisha; Kirsten Prout (“Kyle XY”) as Char; Alice Greczyn (“Lincoln Heights”) as Mads; and Allie Gonino (“10 Things I Hate About You”) as Laurel.

Charles Pratt, Jr. (“Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives,” “All My Children,” “Melrose Place”) serves as executive producer and writer; Leslie Morgenstein (“Pretty Little Liars,” “The Nine Lives of Chloe King,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Vampire Diaries”) and Gina Girolamo will serve as executive producers. Produced by Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television, the series is based on the novel by author Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars).

NO WAY BACK (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“A production bringing together Australia’s Russell Crowe and Japan’s Etsushi Toyokawa for an American film.  Overall, an entertaining film!”

Images courtesy of © 1994 Overseas FilmGroup, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: NO WAY BACK

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1),  English,  Dolby TrueHD 5.1Subtitles: English, English SDH

RATED: R (For Violence, Strong Language and a Scene of Sexuality)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2009

Directed by Frank A. Cappello

Screenplay by Frank A. Cappello

Executive Producer: W.K. Border, Takashige Ichise

Produced by Aki Komine, Joel Soisson

Associate Producer: Don Phillips

Music by David C. Williams

Director of Photography: Richard Clabaugh

Editing by Sonny Baskin

Casting by Lisa Bankert

Production Design by Clark Hunter

Set Decoration by Traci Kirshbaum

Costume Design by Cathryn Wagner

Starring:

Russell Crowe as  FBI Agent Zack Grant

Helen Slater as Mary

Etsushi Toyokawa as Yuji Kobayashi

Michael Lerner as Frank Serlano

Kyusaku Shimada as Tetsuro

Kristopher Logan as Mr. Contingency; Serlano Henchman

Kelly Hu as Seiko Kobayashi

Andrew J. Ferchland as Eric Grant

Ian Ziering as Victor Serlano

Monty Bane as Goatee

Christian Keiber as FBI Agent Carl Dundreff

Patti Davis Suarez as FBI Agent Numeyer

Francois Chau as FBI Agent Gim Takakura

Russell Crowe, Helen Slater and Michael Lerner star in this white-knuckle action thriller about oneman’s revenge and another man’s redemption. Special Agent Zack Grant’s career is on the line and he’s given one last chance to prove himself. When the sting operation he’s in charge of goes disastrously awry, Grant finds himself with a mob vendetta on his hands. Mafia kingpin Frank Serlano has brutal revenge in mind and his target is Yuji, the Japanese Yakuza he holds responsible for his son’s murder. Serlano kidnaps Grant’s young son in exchange for the delivery of Yuji. Agent Grant and Yuji’scross-country rendezvous with Serlano is further complicated when the duo are joined by a flighty flight attendant. With the mobster’s ferocious skinhead assassins, the Yakuza and the FBI all in hot pursuit, the trio must risk everything – and now, there’s NO WAY BACK.

In 1996, the film “NO WAY BACK” would bring together Australian Russell Crowe (“L.A. Confidential”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Cinderella Man” and “Gladiator”), popular Japanese film and television star Etsushi Toyokawa (“Aishitteru to itte Kure”, “Love Letter”, “Aoi Tori”) and actress Helen Slater (“Supergirl”) together in a joint American and Japanese film production which was written and directed by Frank A. Capello (“Constantine”and “Suburban Commando”).

Although the film was before Russell Crowe’s blockbuster films, the film was heavily promoted in Japan due to the immense popularity of Etsushi Toyokawa  and his first foray outside of Japan as an actor.

The film revolves around FBI Agent Zack Grant (Russell Crowe) who has had his problems at work and thus is given a chance to command a sting operation on Victor Serlano (Ian Zeiring), the skinhead son of mob boss Frank Serlano (Michael Lerner).

When FBI Agent Seiko Kobayashi (Kelly Hu) is sent in disguised as a prostitute, all that was needed was for the agent to alert her comrades to come in and arrest Serlano.  But instead, Seiko ends up gunning down Serlano and his henchman.

Immediately, Zack runs to check on Seiko and realizes that she had went off and killed the people they had on surveillance and now wonder if she had snapped.  Before Zack can get to her, she kills herself by falling many stories high off the building and detonating a grenade on the FBI surveillance van.

Needless to say, due to the deaths from that mission, Zack is held responsible for the botched mission.  The FBI thinks that Seiko was under the employ of yakuza boss Yuji Kobayashi (Etsushi Toyokawa) and now wants Zack and FBI Agent Gim Takakura (Francois Chau) to retrieve him.

Due to the death of Serlano’s son, Frank Serlano also wants Yuji and blames him for the death of his son.    And in order to get his hand on him, he kidnaps Zack’s young son Eric and wants Zack to bring Yuji to him or else, his son will die.

The film revolves around Zack’s attempt to bring Yuji back to Serlano but along the way, Yuji becomes a thorn in his side (proclaiming his innocence) as he tries to escape many times.   And to make matters worse for Zack, the annoying, chirpy and talkative flight attendant Mary (Helen Slater) somehow gets herself dragged into the whole mess and essentially ends up having to accompany Jack and Yuji.

Will Zack find out why Seiko killed herself?  Will he be able to get his son back?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

I’ve owned “NO WAY BACK” since it’s Japanese and American VHS release and although not owning the original DVD release, the picture quality of “NO WAY BACK” with its 1080p High Definition transfer (and 1:85:1 aspect ratio) is much better than its previous release.

The 13-year-old film definitely has its moments of vibrancy during the daylight.  May it be in the desert and the earth hues and blue skies are nice and vibrant.  Darker, low-light scenes showcases a bit of grain and the good news is that I didn’t notice any DNR (digital noise reduction) softening throughout the film and thus, you can see details with the dirt on the car and the rough skin pores of Russell Crowe’s face.

But for a film with its smaller budget, the amount of action and explosions were quite satisfactory.

The audio on the other hand is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and there are scenes where sound is well-utilized such as the helicopter scene but for its action scenes, I was expecting a bit more punch and LFE usage.  But the film was more center and front channel driven.  I don’t think I recall hearing a lot of usage through my rear speakers or rear surrounds.

Subtitles are featured in English and English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features but trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases.  The Blu-ray disc is BD-Live Enabled.

“NO WAY BACK” is probably not going to win a lot of viewers.  This film was released back in 1996 before Russell Crowe became a popular name worldwide especially here in the United States.

And as mentioned, my familiarity with the movie was through it’s massive hype in Japan and I was a big fan of Etsushi Toyokawa’s film and TV drama work.

Having Etsushi Toyokawa in the same film with Australia’s Russell Crowe, “Supergirl” actress Helen Slater, “Beverly Hills 90210” actor Ian Zeiring and the lovely Kelly Hu was a major collaboration in the eyes of Japan and for those of us who watched Japanese cinema and entertainment, that owning “NO WAY BACK” on VHS and seeing a major Japanese star in an American film was quite significant.

With that being said, the film served as a good popcorn action flick.  Russell Crowe showed a lot of promise, Helen Slater was fun to watch as her character bouned from annoying to charming.  And the banter between Zack and Mary in regards to which Captain of “Star Trek” is better, definitely was one of the film’s shining moment.

As for Etsushi Toyokawa, as much as I enjoy his work, his English was not exactly easy to comprehend and one thing I didn’t have at the time was options for English subtitles.  So, this time around, I was able to rewind the film and eventually find out what he was saying on certain scenes.  And for those who were wondering about Ian Zeiring and Kelly Hu’s performance, both only receive a few minutes in the film and that is all.

In a way, “NO WAY BACK” is one of those films that you probably have caught late at night as you were channel surfing on cable.  It’s one of those films that you enjoy for its humor and action despite knowing it’s not that great of a movie, you watch anyway.  And by no means is “NO WAY BACK” terrible, despite the darker undertones of this action/drama, there is also quite a bit of humor between the main three characters.

As for it’s Blu-ray release, it’s literally barebones with no special features whatsoever.  But for those who did enjoy this film and wondering if it is worth the double dip, this High Definition release is probably the best we will ever see of this movie.

Overall, “NO WAY BACK” is an entertaining popcorn flick!

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