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Punching Henry (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Punching Henry” is no doubt a smart and hilarious comedy film that gives a glimpse of the life of a musical comedian.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Still Punching LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Punching Henry

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017


Directed by Gregori Viens

Written by Henry Phillips, Gregori Viens

Produced by Jim Hart, Arun Kumar, David Permut, Henry Phillips, Matt Ratner, Rick Rosenthal, Gregori Viens

Co-Producer: Ian Coyne, Nalit Patel

Executive Producer: Howard Barish, David P. Beitchman, Adam Brawer, Luca Costa, Luke Daniels, Robert J. Harley, Brandon K. Hogan, Bert Kern, Atif Malik, Chris Mangao, Sean McEwen, Nick Morton, Alan Pao, Deborah Ratner

Cinematography by Bryce Fortner

Edited by Michael R. Miller, Gregori Viens

Casting by Eyde Belasco

Production Design by Jodi Ginnever

Set Decoration by Laurie McDaniel

Costume Design by Sarah Trost


Starring:

Henry Phillips as Henry Phillips

Tig Notaro as Julian

J.K. Simmons as Jay Warren

Mark Cohen as Stupid Joe

Sarah Silverman as Sharon Levine

Ellen Ratner as Ellen Pinksy

Mike Judge as Ed

Jim Jefferies as Charlie

Stephanie Allynne as Zoe

Michaela Watkins as Mara

Ashley Johnson as Danielle


In this hyper-intelligent comedy, a journeyman comedian is lured to L.A. by a TV producer (J.K. Simmons, Whiplash) who wants to make him a reality star. As reality sets in, he must decide whether his legacy will be to tell jokes for a living or become the butt of them. With an all-star cast including Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, Jim Jefferies, Doug Stanhope, and more, PUNCHING HENRY is a hilarious and heartwarming glimpse behind the curtain at the weird world of comedy.


From musical comedian Henry Phillips and director/co-writer Gregori Viens comes “Punching Henry”, a comedy which premiered at South by Southwest in March 2016.

The film stars Henry Phillips as himself, actress Tig Notaro (“In a World”, “One Mississippi”) and wife Stephanie Allynne (“All Nighter”, “In a World”, “One Mississippi”), J.K. Simmons (“Spider-Man” films, “Whiplash”), Mark Cohen (“The Aristocrats”, “Funny People”), Sarah Silverman (“School of Rock”, “Wreck-it Ralph”, “There’s Something About Mary”), comedian Jim Jefferies, Michaela Watkins (“The Back-Up Plan”, “Enough Said”, “Wanderlust”).

The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

“Punching Henry” is a film that is based on the comedy of Henry Phillips standup routine which is playing a classic loser, hapless with women and unsuccessful in show business.

Henry Phillips is a music comedian trying to make a living traveling to various locations and trying to entertain audiences (some who get him, some who don’t).

His agent Ellen Pinsky (portrayed by Ellen Ratner) calls Henry to let him know that producer Jay Warren (produced by J.K. Simmons) wants to meet with him in Los Angeles.

For Henry, returning to Los Angeles is difficult ever since the media crucified him for being a white supremacist, which was a misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion.

And a lot of his adventures are often discussed in his friend Sharon Levine’s (portrayed by Sarah Silverman) radio show.  And his feelings of going to Los Angeles and not wanting people to take advantage of him.

As Henry goes to Los Angeles to stay with his friend Jillian (portrayed by Tig Notaro) and her wife Zoe (portrayed by Stephanie Allynne).  His first day doesn’t go all that well as his car has been stolen and he has to endure a heckler during his comedy performance which producer Jay Warren has come to observe.

As Henry goes to meet with Jay, he finds out that showrunner Mara (portrayed by Michaela Watkins) wants to create a television show based on his life as a loser.  Mara and other showrunners thinks that Henry’s experiences were part of his comedy routine but they are genuine experiences from his life.

But can Henry’s time in Los Angeles get any worse?  And how does Henry feel about a show being based on his life and how people perceive him due to social media?


VIDEO:

“Punching Henry” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film features wonderful detail during closeup scenes and outdoor scenes. I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Punching Henry” is presented in English  DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue and ambiance-driven. The surround channels do a good job of showcasing the crowds at venues but for the most part, the film is dialogue-driven and focused on the front and center channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Punching Henry” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring two deleted scenes.
  • Brendon Walsh suffers – (1:31) Behind-the-scenes on Brendon Walsh’s painful scene.
  • Stupid Joe – (1:45) Improvisation of Mark Cohen’s comedy character Stupid Joe.

For those who have watched Henry Phillips’ comedy routine on “Comedy Central” or watched his hilariously awkward “Henry’s Kitchen” cooking shows on YouTube or his various musical comedy routines, you know that Phillip’s tends to play a character who is often a loner or loser and nothing really goes well for him.

And what if Henry the comedian and his routines were wrapped all in one.  That’s the storyline for “Punching Henry”, a story of how comedy musician Henry Phillips is given the opportunity to have a television show based on his life.

And as everyone in the entertainment world thinks this is part of Phillips’ comedy routine, the fact is that bad luck accompanies him wherever he goes and nothing goes right for him.

Starring many fellow comedians and actress Tig Notaro and J.K. Simmons, for those who enjoy Henry Phillips’ comedy will enjoy this film because it’s literally a film extension of his comedy routine.

From Henry going to Los Angeles and his car stolen within minutes of arriving, getting heckled at a venue, to his lesbian friends asking him to impregnate one of them (so they can have children) and he somehow manages to mess that one up.

But for Henry, now having this opportunity of having his life as a TV series and execs thinking how good of an idea to create a series based on a loser’s loser, for Henry those are painful things in his life that occur frequently, how will he deal with the opportunity and newfound fame thanks to a mishap onstage which becomes popular on social media.

Featuring appearances by many comedians and a solid performance from Henry Phillips, “Punching Henry” is no doubt a smart and hilarious comedy film that gives a glimpse of the life of a musical comedian.

Patriots Day (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” is well-made, well-researched, well-acted and felt that the film was a wonderful tribute to the heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing and not being exploitative.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 CBS Films Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Patriots Day

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 133 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English DTS:X Audio, DTS Headphone:X Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late- Night Listening SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Spanish, French

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Violence, Realistically Graphic Injury Images, Language Throughout and Some Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2017


Directed by Peter Berg

Screenplay by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer

Story by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson

Producer: Dorothy Aufiero, Dylan Clark, Stephen Levinson, Hutch PArker, Michael Radutzky, Scott Stuber, Mark Wahlberg

Associate Producer: Lauren Downey, Daphne Lambrinou, Joseph J. Micucci, Bo Shen, stephen Stapinski, Shixing Zhou

Executive Producer: Louis G. Friedman, Eric Johnson, Nicholas David Nesbitt, John Logan Pierson, Paul Tamasy, Dan Wilson

Music by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler

Edited by Gabriel Fleming, Colby Parker Jr.

Casting by Sheila Jaffe, Angela Peri

Production Design by Tom Duffield

Art Direction by Steve Cooper

Set Decoration by Ronald R. Reiss

Costume Design by Virginia Johnson


Starring:

Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders

John Goodman as Commissioner Ed Davis

Kevin Bacon as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers

J.K. Simmons as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese

Christopher O’Shea as Patrick Downes

Rachel Brosnahan as Jessica Kensky

Michelle Monaghan as Carol Saunders

Jimmy O. Yang as Dun Meng

Melissa Benoist as Katherine Russell

Alex Wolff as Dzohkhar Tsarnaev

Themo Melikidze as Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Martine Assaf as Connie Pugliese

James Colby as Superintendent Billy Evans

Michael Beach as Governor Deval Patrick

Rhett Kidd as Harrold


Mark Wahlberg shines in this all-star action-thriller that chronicles the courage and power of the people of Boston during the real-life manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers.


From filmmaker Peter Berg (“Hancock”, “Friday Night Lights”, “The Kingdom”) comes the American drama-thriller film “Patriots Day” about the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and the terrorist manhunt that took place.

Featuring a screenplay co-written by Berg, Matt Cook (“The Duel”, “Triple 9”) and Joshua Zetumer (“RoboCop”), the film would receive positive film reviews from critics.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg (“Boogie Nights”, “The Fighter”, “Prisoners”), John Goodman (“The Artist”, “Roseane”, “The Big Lebowski”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”), Kevin Bacon (“Apollo 13”, “Footloose”, “X-Men: First Class”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”, “Spider-Man” films, “The Closer”), Michelle Monaghan (“Gone Baby Gone”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, “Due Date”), Themo Melikidze (“Beautiful Something”, “Transit 17”), Alex Wolff (“The Naked Brothers Band”, “Come Through the Rye”, “The Sitter”), Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”, “The Internship”), Melissa Benoist (“Supergirl”, “Whiplash”, “Glee”), Jake Picking (“Dirty Grandpa”, “Goat”), Christopher O’Shea (“Baby Daddy”, “Madam Secretary”), Rachel Brosnahan (“Beautiful Creatures”, “Manhattan”, “The Finest Hours”) and many more.


VIDEO:

“Patriots Day” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing clarity and day scenes are vibrant.  Many of the scenes are shot at night, but light is well done and for the most part, the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD!

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Patriots Day” is presented in English DTX-X Audio, DTS Headphones: X Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio.

While the film features crystal clear audio (dialogue) and music, surround channels are well-utilized for action sequences during explosions, gun exchanges and crowd ambiance.  Great use of the surround channels and LFE!

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Patriots Day” comes with the following special features:

  • Boston Strong – (21:34) Featuring interviews with Dr. Jeffrey Kalish, Dun Meng and Sgt. Jeff Pugliese.
  • The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale – (21:43) The cast and crew talk about filming in Boston and working with the community.
  • The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes’ Stories – (19:41) Filmmaker Peter Berg discusses the various heroes that he met and the real people that inspired the characters for the film.
  • The Cast Remembers – (5:52) The cast discuss how they found about the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts: A 2-Part Series – (10:08) Featuring John Goodman and Ed Davis and Jimmy O. Yang and Dun Meng.
  • Researching the Day – (11:22) Director Peter Berg and crew discuss the research of recreating the 2013 Boston Marathon and the bombing.

EXTRAS:

“Patriots Day” will come with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray and UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I remember the Boston Marathon bombings quite clearly.

Watching things unfurl on CNN, immediately I was glued to the TV set, angered that our country was once again being targeted by terrorist attacks and to find out that were many people, including children who were dead or injured.  Then to find out about the two accused of the bombings, finding out a university police officer was killed, followed by a kidnapping of a Chinese man who revealed the brothers are planning to bomb New York and just following the news for the hunt of the Tsarnaev brothers.

It was a story that captivated America where in 9/11, the terrorists killed themselves.  While in this case, these two terrorists were out in public and we wanted them caught and to answer for their crimes.

With Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day”, we get to see how things went for those harrowing days, the people involved in the manhunt for the two terrorists, those who were injured and those who lost their lives.

Peter Berg and fellow writers Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer no doubt made sure to pay their respects to those involved in the capture of one of the terrorists but to also pay respects to law enforcement and those who’s life was changed forever, but keeping the theme of “Boston Strong” central to the film and showing how the support for law enforcement and the victims will remain in the hearts of people who remember that fateful day and have managed to continue, to move on and show true determination but also providing inspiration for those watching the film.

Mark Wahlberg’s character of Tommy Saunders is a fictional character but his role captures the heart of Boston PD who were doing all they can to catch the terrorists.  Police officers who were on duty, with hardly any sleep, determined to keep Boston safe and to catch those who are responsible.

John Goodman also did a great job of portraying Commissioner Ed Davis and Kevin Bacon as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers of the FBI who worked tirelessly to control information in regards of who was responsible for the bombings but also coordinating their men for the manhunt.

J.K. Simmons as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese of the Watertown PD who was there to take on one of the terrorists during a shootout.  Jimmy O. Yang as Dun Meng, the man who was carjacked and held by gunpoint by the two terrorists for a long period of time until he made a major risk by bolting from his vehicle when one of the terrorists were preoccupied and managed to run and call police.

Peter Berg tries to show the loving side of both characters, Sgt. Pugliese with his wife and Dun Meng with a woman he met.

But “Patriots Day” also effectively pays tribute to those who lost their lives or those who were caught in the blast.

“Patriots Day” pays respect to MIT Officer Sean Collier (portrayed by Jake Picking) who was ambushed by the two terrorists and was killed.  While he never had a chance to fight back, they tried to steal his weapon unsuccessfully.  The film also tries to show the loving and friendly side of Collier, from going on a date with a student to him hanging out with his friends, singing a song and playing video games.

We also get to see victims such as couple, Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, father Steve Woolfenden taking his young boy on a stroller to watch the Boston Marathon, both were near the first bomb that exploded.  Berg shows the love between Patrick and Jessica and the father and son relationship with the Woolfenden’s.

Possibly a tough role were to play the terrorists and actors Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze no doubt had to pull off these individuals and show the audience of their mindset but also their cowardly, evil actions.  The same with Melissa Benoist who plays the bomber’s wife and showing viewers on what happened when she was interrogated by law enforcement.

The film’s efficacy also helps with the real archived video of the terrorists and video caught from banks and at stores they were at.  It helped remind audience that what people were watching, was the real deal.

I felt that filmmaker Peter Berg and his fellow writers did amazing job in crafting this drama-thriller by sticking to facts, despite the film focusing on a fictional character.

The 4K Ultra HD is wonderfully detailed during closeups and also features an impressive lossless soundtrack especially during the bombings, the gun battle exchanges, the explosions sounds quite amazing through the surround channels and the use of LFE.  And the numerous special features included are also fascinating to watch and thankfully they are of good duration and not too short.

Overall, Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” is well-made, well-researched, well-acted and felt that the film was a wonderful tribute to the heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing and not being exploitative.  Highly recommended!

The Meddler (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Susan Sarandon is magnificent in the role of a loving mother, but also as a widow trying to find herself in life after losing her husband. May you think Marnie as a meddlesome and constricting mother or you see her as a woman that hides her pain through optimism, Lorene Scafaria’s “The Meddler” is delightfully funny very entertaining.  And a film that I recommend!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Meddler

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 103 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English – Audio Description Track, French, Portuguese, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital,  Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG-13 (Brief Drug Content)

AVAILABLE ON: September 6, 2016


Directed by Lorene Scafaria

Written by Lorene Scafaria

Produced by Paul Green, Joy Gorman Wettels

Co-Producer: Fiona Walsh Heinz

Executive Produced by Steve Golin, Shea Kammer, Susan Sarandon

Associate Producer: Chadwick Prichard

Music by Jonathan Sadoff

Cinematography by Brett Pawlak

Edited by Kayla Emter

Casting by Nicole Abellera, Jeanne McCarthy, Jeff Olan

Production Design by Chris L. Spellman

Set Decoration by Karuna Karmarkar

Costume Design by Annie Bloom


Starring:

Susan Sarandon as Marnie

Rose Byrne as Lori

J.K. Simmons as Zipper

Jerrod Carmichael as Freddy/Fredo

Cecily Strong as Jillian

Lucy Punch as Emily

Michael McKean as Mark

Jason Ritter as Jacob

Sarah Baker as Elaine

Casey Wilson as Trish

Amy Landecker as Diane

Billy Magnussen as Ben

Megalyn Echikunwoke as Elise


With a new iPhone, an apartment near the Grove, and a comfortable bank account left to her by her beloved late husband, Marnie Minervini (Susan Sarandon) has happily relocated from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be near her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne), a successful but still single screenwriter, and smother her with motherly love. But when the dozens of texts, unexpected visits, and conversations dominated by unsolicited advice force Lori to draw strict personal boundaries, Marnie finds ways to channel her eternal optimism and forceful generosity to change the lives of others – as well as her own – and find a new purpose in life.


Filmmaker Lorene Scafaria (“Seeking a Friend For the End of the World”, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) returns with “The Meddler”, which she wrote and directed and is based on her experiences with her mother.

The film stars Susan Sarandon (“Thelma & Louise”, “Dead Man Walking”, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”), Rose Byrne (“Neighbors”, “X-Men: First Class”, “28 Weeks Later”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”, “Spider-Man”, “The Closer”), Jerrod Carmichael (“Neighbors”, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”, “The Carmichael Show”), Cecily Strong (“Saturday Night Live”, “The Boss”, “Ghostbusters”), Lucy Punch (“Bad Teacher”, “Into the Woods”, “Dinner for Schmucks”), Michael McKean (“Planes, Trains & Automobiles”, “This is Spinal Tap”, “Whatever Works”) and Jason Ritter (“Freddy vs. Jason”, “Joan of Arcadia”, “The Event”).

And now the film will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“The Meddler” revolves around a widow from New Jersey named Marnie Minervini (portrayed by Susan Sarandon) who has relocated to Los Angeles after the death of her husband.

Unfortunately, her daughter Lori (portrayed by Rose Byrne) has also moved to Los Angeles earlier to pursue her career but to keep distance away from her mother, because Marnie tends to like to interfere and get involved with Lori’s business.

Always texting her daughter, always wanting to know what Lori is doing and even going so far to meeting with Lori’s therapist to know what her daughter is up to and thinking.  Even going to Lori’s friend’s baby shower, when she wasn’t invited.

But when Lori has to go to New York for her job and to get fresh air away from her ex, Jacob (portrayed by Jason Ritter), Lori starts to get involved with other people’s lives, wanting to be helpful and give motherly advice.

From offering to pay and plan Lori’s friend Jillian’s (portrayed by Cecilia Strong) wedding to helping out Apple Store Genius employee Freddy (portrayed by Jerrod Carmichael) by listening to his problems and driving him home from work.  Or by visiting an elderly woman in the hospital and talking to her daily.

But for Marnie, keeping herself busy and active is due to her wanting to not think about her deceased husband.

But when Marnie meets ex-cop, Zipper (portrayed by J.K. Rowling), will Marnie finds herself in an unexpected romance?  Will she be able to build a stronger relationship with her daughter?  And will she be able to move on with life?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Meddler” is presented in 2:39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is also presented in English – Audio Description Track, French, Portuguese and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture quality for “The Meddler”, you will definitely want the Blu-ray version.  Otherwise, picture and audio quality is good as it can get on DVD.  Skin tones are natural, no major artifacts.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese (traditional), French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Meddler” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Lorene Scafaria and actress Susan Sarandon.
  • Gag Reel – (4:07) Gag reel for “The Meddler”.
  • The Real Marnie – (12:08) Filmmaker Lorene Scafaria and her mother Gail Scafaria and how Gail is the real Marnie and the differences from real life and the film.
  • The Making of “The Meddler” – (16:02)  Behind-the-scenes making of “The Meddler” and making a film based on the personal life of writer/director Lorene Scafaria and her mother Gail.  Interviews with the cast and crew.

When it comes to mother and daughter films, Susan Sarandon is an actress who is best known for films such as “Stepmother” and “Little Women”, but while those two films were more dramatic, this time around, Sarandon takes on the role of a widow, who has not fully grieved after the death of her husband and is now trying to focus on staying optimistic for her daughter and everyone else around her.

A delightful and charming film, “The Meddler” shows life of a widow named Marnie, doing what she can to be busy and trying to stay optimistic by becoming closer with her daughter, her daughter’s friends and an Apple Store Genius employee that she purchased an iPad from.

And as her daughter Lori finds her mom’s love to be a bit too constricting and meddlesome.

At first, one can feel that Marnie wanting to be part of Lori’s life a bit too much and over-the-top, the fact is that some parents are like that.  Texting too much, always wanting to spend time with their children.

But while Lori looks at her mom as meddlesome, when Marnie starts helping out other people, others look at Marnie as the ultimate mom.

But while the cover or promotional poster of the film may make you think the film is entirely about a mother and daughter film, “The Meddler” is a film about a mother and widow trying to find herself after the death of her husband.   And the conflict that Marnie feels, if she’s ready to be in another relationship or should she just continue to keep herself busy and focus all that energy on her daughter and others.

As for the DVD, I do recommend the Blu-ray version if you are concerned of picture and audio quality.  And there are a good number of special features included.

So, while “The Meddler” is seen as a mother and daughter film, I look at it as a more of a film about self-discovery.

Susan Sarandon is magnificent in the role of a loving mother, but also as a widow trying to find herself in life after losing her husband. Rose Byrne also did a wonderful job of portraying the role of Lori and playing a role that can go from anger to emotional to happiness very quickly.

May you think Marnie as a meddlesome and constricting mother or you see her as a woman that hides her pain through optimism, Lorene Scafaria’s “The Meddler” is delightfully funny very entertaining.  And a film that I recommend!

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

June 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

zootopia

“Zootopia” is an entertaining, charming film that will captivate children and adults.  It’s also a Disney first, when it comes to tackling sensitive issues that affect society all over the world. It’s not easy to create that type of balance, especially for Disney when there is high expectations for each animated film released.  But “Zootopia” manages to entertain and deliver important messages, to children and adults with efficacy. “Zootopia” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Zootopia

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 108 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:39:1 Original Aspect Ratio, Color, English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish / DVD Widescreen (2:39:1), English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital and English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish.

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG (For Some Thematic Elements, Rude Humor and Action)

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Story by Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Rich Moore, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee

Screenplay by Jared Bush, Phil Johnston

Story by Peter Sohn, Erik Benson, Meg LeFauve, Kelsey Mann, Bob Peterson

Produced by Denise Ream

Executive Producer: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich

Associate Producer: Mary Alice Drumm

Music by Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna

Casting by Natalie Lyon, Kevin Reher

Edited by Stephen Schaffer

Production Design by Harley Jessup


Featuring the voices of:

Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps

Jason Basteman as Nick Wilde

Idris Elba as Chief Bogo

Jenny Slate as Bellwether

Nate Torrence as Clawhauser

Bonnie Hunt as Bonnie Hopps

Don Lake as Stu hopps

Tommy Chong as Yax

J.K. Simmons as Mayor Lionheart

Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Otterton

Alan Tudyk as Duke Weaselton

Shakira as Gazelle

Raymond S. Persi as Flash

Della Saba as Young Hoops

Maurice LaMarche as Mr. Big

Phil Johnston as Gideon Grey


From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes a comedy-adventure set in the modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia. Determined to prove herself, Officer Judy Hopps, the first bunny on Zootopia s police force, jumps at the chance to crack her first case even if it means partnering with scam-artist fox Nick Wilde to solve the mystery. Bring home this hilarious adventure full of action, heart and tons of bonus extras that take you deeper into the world of Zootopia. It s big fun for all shapes and species! le of.


In 2016, “Zootopia”, the 55th Walt Disney Animated Classics film was released in theaters.

The $150 million film would earn over $1 billion dollars in the box office, becoming the second highest-grossing film of 2016 and the second highest-grossing Walt Disney Animation Studios film of all time (after “Frozen”), the second highest-grossing original film and the fourth highest-grossing animated film of all time.

The film would receive critical acclaim, and now “Zootopia” is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled”, “Bolt”), Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”, “The Simpsons”) and Jared Bush (“Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero”, “All of Us”), the animated film would feature a talented cast which includes Ginnifer Goodwin (“Once Upon a Time”, “Walk the Line”, “Something Borrowed”), Jason Bateman (“Horrible Bosses”, “Arrested Development”, “Up in the Air”), Idris Elba (“Pacific Rim”, “Prometheus”, “Thor”), Jenny Slater (“Obvious Child”, “The Lorax”), Nate Torrence (“She’s Out of My League”, “My Best Friend’s Girl”), Bonnie Hunt (“The Green Mile”, “The Bonnie Hunt Show”), Don Lake (“Life With Bonnie”, “The Bonnie Hunt Show”), Tommy Chong (“Up in Smoke”, “After Hours”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”, “Spider-Man”, “Juno”), Octavia Spencer (“The Help”, “Being John Malkovich”, “Fruitvale Station”), Alan Tudyk (“I, Robot”, “Frozen”, “Serenity”) and singer Shakira.

“Zootopia” is a film that follows a rabbit named Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) from the rural Bunnyburrow who dreamed of becoming a cop and fulfilled her dream of becoming the first rabbit officer in the Zootopia Police department.

While Judy graduated top of her class, because she is smaller than most of those in the police force, she is not sent on high-profile missing predator cases and is assigned by her boss, Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba) to be a parking duty officer.

While unhappy with the fact that she is using her skills as a parking duty officer, she wants to excel in her job and doing more than is expected from her.

While on the job, she sees a fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Justin Bateman) and a baby.  Seeing that they are in need, Judy buys them a huge popsicle but as she watches over them, she realizes that Nick and the baby (which is actually a small thief pretending to be a baby) were using Judy, in order to turn the big popsicle and making smaller popsicles and reselling them to others.

Feeling that she was duped, she goes after Nick who then tells her to stop being a cop and do a job that is more appropriate for a bunny.


VIDEO:

“Zootopia” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film looks absolutely gorgeous and vibrant in HD. Closeups of the characters are full of detail, clothing and environments are wonderfully rendered.  This is reference picture quality and no sign of banding or artifacts whatsoever.

Overall, “The Good Dinosaur” looks amazing on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Zootopia” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. As picture quality was fantastic, the lossless audio is also amazing. With the amount of action in this film, especially with city surroundings.  Not only is dialogue and ambiance crystal clear, the action sequences utilize the surround channels effectively and the soundtrack is an audiophile’s dream.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Zootopia” comes with the following special features:

  • Research: A True-Life Adventure – (9:58) The filmmakers take a trip in the animal kingdom to learn more of the animals for their film.
  • The Origin of An Animal Tale – (9:15) The filmmakers discuss the ideas and development of “Zootopia”.
  • Zoology: The Roundtables – Featuring three short featurettes (Characters – 5:47, Environments – 5:44 and Animation – 6:52) with actress Ginnifer Goodwin.
  • Scoretopia – (4:59) A featurette about the making of the musical score.
  • Z.P.D. Forensic Files – (3:23) Disney Easter Eggs shown throughout the film.
  • Music Video – (3:21) Music video for “Try Everything” by Shakira.
  • Deleted Characters – (3:16) Characters that did not make it to the final cut of the film.
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring seven deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore.

EXTRAS:

“Zootopia” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film plus a Disney Movie Rewards code for a digital HD copy of the film.


Typically, when you watch a Disney Animated Classic, you expect family fun and an animated film your children would love.  And for parents, we can see a clear message that the writers are trying to get across.  Leaving the more deeper stories for the Disney Pixar animated films, it’s more or less how things have been for many years.

Along comes “Zootopia” and not only do we get a family fun animated film, there is not one simple message that the film is trying to get across.  If anything, the film is strong on feminism, tackling racism and a film that tries to have its place in cinema with a few references that cineaste or older viewers will no doubt understand and have something to smile about.

So, not only will the children love it, the parents will enjoy it as well.

But does a multi-message film seem a bit too much?  Or was it something that people have long yearned for and now, we have a Disney Animated Classic that has surely evolved with the times when it comes to storyline and reaching out to an audience?

Suffice to say, I have always loved Disney’s forward-thinking and “Zootopia” has no doubt reflected that style and delivering a really entertaining film for today’s audiences.

The film focuses on a bunny named Judy Hopps, when she was young, wanting to make a difference in the world, she has had her sights set on becoming a cop.

But being the first bunny in the force, they don’t think she’ s up to the job, especially compared to her male counterparts.  She is given a job to write tickets as a parking duty officer.

Needless to say, things happen and Judy gets the opportunity to take on a duty that her Captain doesn’t think she has much of a chance in succeeding.

Meanwhile, Judy befriends a criminal fox named Nick Wilde and he happens to be a predator.  Predator’s are seen as animals that are troublesome and have been bred in violence.  And for some reason, several predators have reverted to their original nature and are causing violent attacks.  Animals have gone missing and everyone immediately blames the predators.  So, much that law abiding predators are unable to keep their jobs and all predators are feared to be violent.

As mentioned, this film takes on feminism in a positive note, it also takes on racism and unfortunately, bringing up real events of fear and hate mongering and the generalizing of one race as being violent.

This will no doubt make teenagers and adults praise the film for taking on these complex issues affecting the world, and for children, the shenanigans and adventures that Judy and Nick experience throughout the film, especially their interaction with sloths will make them chuckle.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is magnificent as detail is incredible.  Lossless audio is well-utilized, considering all the action featured throughout the film.  Also, there are a good number of special features included as well.

It’s important to note that there is also a 3D version of the film available on Blu-ray as well.

Overall, “Zootopia” is an entertaining, charming film that will captivate children and adults.  It’s also a Disney first, when it comes to tackling sensitive issues that affect society all over the world. It’s not easy to create that type of balance, especially for Disney when there is high expectations for each animated film released.  But “Zootopia” manages to entertain and deliver important messages, to children and adults with efficacy.

“Zootopia” is recommended!

Whiplash (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Whiplash” will be remembered for its wonderful performance by J.K. Simmons and the intensity of the drum playing scenes by Miles Teller, but no doubt, jumpstart the career for writer/director Damien Chazelle for creating this spectacular, captivating film.  “Whiplash” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Whiplash, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Whiplash

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 107 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:409:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English – Audio Description Track, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Picture Classics

RATED: R (Strong Language Including Some Sexual References)

RELEASE DATE: February 24, 2014


Directed by Damien Chazelle

Written by Damien Chazelle

Produced by Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak

Co-Produced by Nicholas Britell, Garrick Dion, Sarah Potts, Stephanie Wilcox

Executive Producer: Jeanette Brill, Jason Reitman, Couper Samuelson, Gary Michael Walters

Associate Producer: Phillip Dawe

Music by Justin Hurwitz

Cinematography by Sharone Meir

Edited by Tom Cross

Casting by Terri Taylor

Production Design by Melanie Jones

Art Direction by Hunter Brown

Set Decoration by Karuna Karmarkar

Costume Design by Lisa Norcia


Starring:

Miles Teller as Andrew

J.K. Simmons as Fletcher

Paul Reiser as Jim Neimann

Melissa Benoist as Nicole

Austin Stowell as Ryan

Nate Lang as Carl Tanner

Chris Mulkey as Uncle Frank


Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability—and his sanity.


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From director Damien Chazelle (“Grand Piano”, The Last Exorcism Part II”) comes “Whiplash”, a film which he wrote and had a 3 million dollar budget, the film would receive critical acclaim and would receive top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

“Whiplash” has been nominated for five awards at the 87th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.  And now one of the best films of 2014 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“Whiplash” stars Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”, “Divergent”, “21 & Over”), J.K. Simmons (“Spider-Man” films, “The Closer”, “Juno”), Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”, “My Two Dads”, “Aliens”) and Melissa Benoist (“Glee”, “Tennessee”).

Andrew Neiman (portrayed by Miles Teller) is a first-year jazz student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. He aspires to be one of the greats like Buddy Rich.  He has a relationship with Nicole (portrayed by Melissa Benoist) and has a supportive father, Jim (portrayed by Paul Reiser) in his music endeavor.

When conductor Terence Fletcher (portrayed by J.K. Simmons) visits the school, he accepts Andrew into his studio band as an alternate drummer.

But it is evident immediately that Terence is emotionally abusive towards his students, which is way to bring out their best in them but also instill fear that if they mess up or don’t meet his standards, they will be removed from the band.

When Andrew gets a chance to play the drums and rehearse Hank Levy’s piece “Whiplash”, Flecher is upset and hurls a chair at him for not keeping up his tempo and to prove a point, he mocks and insults him and slaps him repeatedly in front of the class, humiliating him.

The emotional abuse that Andrew starts to endure and his drive of wanting to be the best drummer, leads him to make difficult choices in his life.  But how far will Andrew go in order to achieve greatness?


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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Whiplash” is presented in 2:40:1 aspect ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen) in English, French, Spanish and English – Audio Description track in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

It’s important to note that if you want the best quality of “Whiplash”, 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. The film is well-lit and there are so many closeups in this film that, I can imagine the clarity on Blu-ray, but on DVD, there is still good detail.  The film is well-lit and looks good on DVD.

As for audio, the soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Once again, if you are an audiophile, you definitely will want to watch this film on Blu-ray but on DVD, soundtrack is crystal clear and well-utilized from the center, fronts and surround channels.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Whiplash” features the following special features:

  • Commentary with J.K. Simmons and Damien Chazelle – A fascinating audio commentary with actor J.K. Simmons and director Damien Chazelle.
  • An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival – (7:51) A short featurette with actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons with director Damien Chazelle.
  • Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Whiplash”.

EXTRAS:

“Whiplash” comes with an Ultraviolet code and watch the film on various devices.

 


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Once in a while you come upon a film that is made with a low budget that knocks your pants off.

Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” is one of those films!

While not an action film, the drumming for the film is heavy hitting, captivating and you are literally glued to the film.

Created by Damien Chazelle who was a drummer and wanted to share a few of his experiences but to create a story about music competitiveness and one’s drive to achieve greatness, “Whiplash” will no doubt be remembered.

A story about a drummer who wants to be the greatest and an abusive music teacher who wants to find a musical genius, both actors, Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons do an amazing job with their performances and making you believe these characters.

While Miles Teller knew how to play the drums, the intense training he learned for the character role was amazing as you see this young man play the drums with such intensity with sweat and including blood flying around everywhere.

J.K. Simmons is arrogant, pompous and your uber-a-hole of a music teacher but he drives people either to depression or to get them to achieve greatness through his emotionally abusive style of teaching.  Simmons plays the character with such efficacy.

But it’s the writing of Damien Chazelle and the cinematography by Sharone Meir that are gripping.  Chazelle’s writing building up the character of Andrew and how far this young man would go to achieve greatness and Sharone Meir capturing the various emotions, close-up.  But also capturing the wonderful drumming as everything culminates into this powerful scene towards the end of the film.

I enjoyed it so much that I have watched the film several times because I found it so captivating and the ending scene is just incredible.  I absolutely enjoyed the film and it was no doubt one of the best films of 2014 and is deserving of its wins and nominations.

As for the DVD release of “Whiplash”, while I strongly would cajole anyone to purchasing the Blu-ray release for its better picture quality and its lossless soundtrack, but also that the Blu-ray also contains more special features including the original “Whiplash” short film, for those who just want the DVD, should be pleased with it.  The film looks and sounds good on DVD, it’s just not in HD (which is my preference).

Overall, “Whiplash” will be remembered for its wonderful performance by J.K. Simmons and the intensity of the drum playing scenes by Miles Teller, but no doubt, jumpstart the career for writer/director Damien Chazelle for creating this spectacular, captivating film.

“Whiplash” is highly recommended!

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

July 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

TITLE: The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits

YEAR: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-14 Minutes (330 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Viacom/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: July 1, 2014

Directed by Ian Graham, Colin Heck

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

Produced by Tim Yoon

Music by Jeremy Zuckerman

Casting by Shannon Reed

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

Featuring the following voice talent:

Janet Varney as Korra

Dee Bradley Baker as Various Voices

David Faustino as Mako

P.J. Byrne as Bolin

J.K. Simmons as Tenzin

Jeff Bennett as Radio Braodcaster

Seychelle Gabriel as Asami Sato

Steve Blum as Amon

Darcy Rose Byrnes as Ikki

Mindy Sterling as Lin Beifong

Logan Wells as Meelo

Lance Henriksen as Lieutenant

Kiernan Shipka as Jinora

Richard Riehle as Bumi

Adrian LaTourelle as Unalaq

Lisa Edestein as Kya

Aubrey Plaza as Eska

Aaron Himelstein as Desna

Maria Bamford as Pema

John Michael Higgins as Varrick

Steve Blum as Amon

James Remar as Tonraq

Jonathan Adams as Vaatu

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is “The Legend of Korra” about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

70-years after the events which took place in “Avatar: The Last Airbender” comes “The Legend of Korra” and while the world has changed for the better, a new threat has arrived in Republic City but Korra and friends will do all they can to protect everyone from a man who is trying to eliminate “bending” forever.  “The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” features all 12 episodes from the first series, audio commentary for each episode and more!  “The Legend of Korra” is an edgy, exciting and action-packed series that looks magnificent on Blu-ray!  Highly recommended!

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

TITLE: The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air

YEAR: 2012

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 Minutes (289 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Viacom/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: July 9, 2013

Directed by Joaqim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu

Written by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko

Produced by Tim Yoon

Music by Jeremy Zuckerman

Casting by Shannon Reed

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

Featuring the following voice talent:

Janet Varney as Korra

Dee Bradley Baker as Various Voices

David Faustino as Mako

P.J. Byrne as Bolin

J.K. Simmons as Tenzin

Jeff Bennett as Radio Braodcaster

Seychelle Gabriel as Asami Sato

Steve Blum as Amon

Darcy Rose Byrnes as Ikki

Mindy Sterling as Lin Beifong

Logan Wells as Meelo

Lance Henriksen as Lieutenant

Kiernan Shipka as Jinora

Daniel Dae Kim as hiroshi Sato

Richard Epcar as Saikhan

Maria Bamford as Pema

From the creators of the Award-winning Avatar: The Last Airbender, comes a new TV series that continues the exciting adventures of element bending. When Avatar Aang passes, he is reincarnated as a girl named Korra, from the Southern Water Tribe. Against the wishes of her guardians, Korra leaves the safety of her home to travel to Republic City. Before long, Korra’s Avatar skills are put to the test when she encounters a group of Chi-blockers led by a masked man named Amon. With his Equalists followers, Amon plots to gain control over Republic City and ultimately rid the world of the “impurity” of bending. Korra and her friends will stop at nothing to capture him, leading to an Avatar adventure like nothing before in Legend of Korra: Book One: Air!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Korra stays with Tenzin, her interests turns to pro-bending teams, which Tenzin is against.  When Korra goes behind Tenzin’s back, she becomes friends with two of the pro-benders from the “Fire Ferrets”, Mako and Bolin (and also includes Asami, Mako’s girlfriend who is jealous that Mako pays too close of an attention to Korra).

But when the Equalists begin using terrorist attacks and when an attack on the pro-bending arena where Kora and the Fire Ferrets are at is attacked, Amon shows his power by eliminating the winning team’s bending abilities.  Meanwhile, a politician named Tarrlok does not like Korra and her friends in interfering with police work but when he authorizes those rallying against the government to be arrested as Equalist, Korra and friends stand up against the Tarliok, not knowing that he has a secret bending-ability.

Will Korra and friends find out the secrets of Republic City and what Tarrlok is really up to?  Find out in the first book of “The Legend of Korra”.

The main characters of “The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” are:

  • Korra – A 17-year-old girl who has mastered fire, earth and water but not wind-bending.  She is the successor of Aang and thus was kept hidden in order to protect her.  But because of her temper and rebellious side, she tends to do things on her own pace, even though it may get her into a lot of trouble.  And with her being in Republic City and causing trouble for trying to save the public from criminals, unfortunately the political leaders and law enforcement are not so thrilled that she is getting herself involved on cases.
  • Mako – A firebender and member of the Fire Ferrets bending team.  He is a firebender that came from the streets, he is seen as a dark individual.  He is dating Asami Sato, daughter of the wealthy industrialist Hiroshi Sato but also is attracted to Korra.
  • Bolin – The younger brother of Mako who is an earth bender and is lighthearted and humorous.  The opposite of his brother.
  • Asami Sato – Mako’s girlfriend and the daughter of Hiroshi Sato, the wealthy industrialist.  She loves Mako but is jealous of Korra, because of the attention he tends to give to her.
  • Master Tenzin  – The youngest son of Aang and Katara.  He tries to fulfill his father’s wishes and is assigned to train Korra in air bending.
  • Republic City police chief Lin Beilong  – A former girlfriend of Tenzin and the daughter of Toph Beiphong.  She is very strict when it comes to honoring the laws of the land and it puts her in odds with Korra.
  • Pema  – Tenzin’s caring wife and mother of Jinora, Ikki, Meelo and Rohan, who are young children training to become air benders.
  • Amon – A mysterious masked-individual who has the power to remove one’s bending ability.
  • Tarrlok – The ominous city councilman who carries a secret.

VIDEO:

“The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” is presented in 1080p High Definition and my thoughts in watching the series is how impressive the character designs, the detail and shading of the characters and how breathtaking the background art is for the series, as well as the mechanical design.  The series is vibrant and colorful, I didn’t see any artifacts or any problematic issues during my view of the 12-episodes.  If anything, fans of the series will be thrilled of how beautiful “The Legend of Korra” looks in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – All 12 episodes of “The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” features audio commentary by the creators, cast and crew.
  • The Legend of Puppetbender Presents “The Making of a Legend: The Untold Story – Part I” – (6:05) A short featurette featuring an interview with the characters (in puppet format).
  • Creators’ Favorite Scenes: Animatics – Featuring  various scenes comparing the sketches/animatics to the final product (screen by screen).

EXTRAS:

“The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” comes with a slipcover.

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

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

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

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

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

Fortunately, she is joined by a supporting cast of people who also tend to get themselves into a bit of trouble but also are doing things for the greater good.  The storyline is not much about being pursued but Korra and friends seeking out clues to find out who the mysterious Amon is and why he is trying to remove the bending abilities of individuals but also having to deal with the mysterious and ominous Tarlokk, a politician who tends to have some sort of vendetta against Korra.

And I’m hooked!  Creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko created something much different than “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, a series that is a little more dark, characters that are much more mature but also including some elements to connect both series together.  For example, while Aang is no longer among the living, Katara is.  And also, we get to see the descendants of these individuals now helping the new generation, which is pretty cool!

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

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

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

As for the Blu-ray release of “The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air”, picture quality is fantastic on Blu-ray as colors are vibrant and I saw no problems with artifacts.  Lossless audio is utilized very well and surround channels are used effectively during the action-scenes.  And as for special features, every episode has an audio commentary track and you also get a few other features such as a puppetbender featurette and animatics.

Overall, if you are a fan of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and have been curious about “The Legend of Korra” or you happen to be a big fan of the series already and wonder if the Blu-ray release is worth owning, the answer is “yes!”.  The series looks and sounds so much better in HD and the additional featurettes especially the audio commentary featuring the creators, cast and crew makes this series worth owning on Blu-ray!

“The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air” is highly recommended!

J!-ENT/TNT “The Closer” Contest Giveaway – CLOSED

November 11, 2010 by · 6 Comments 


J!-ENT is partnering with TNT for a contest giveaway for “The Closer”. We are giving away a copy of season 5 on DVD. View down below for contest details!

closer, Kyra Sedgwick, tntcloser, Kyra Sedgwick, tntcloser, Kyra Sedgwick, tnt

Fresh of the heels of Kyra Sedgwick’s 2010 Emmy win for Best Actress in a Leading Roll on The Closer, TNT will air 4 more brand new episodes of the show from 11/29 – 12/27!

The Closer, which is enjoying growth this year as it continues to rank as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, stars Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, head of the LAPD’s Major Crimes unit. In addition to Sedgwick’s newest Emmy, the show has also earned three SAG Award nominations for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series for Sedgwick, Corey Reynolds, G.W. Bailey, Tony Denison, Raymond Cruz, Michael Paul Chan and Phillip P. Keene, as well as Jon Tenney, J.K. Simmons and Robert Gossett.

As the new season of THE CLOSER opens, the squad is moving into its new high-tech digs. But it’s not long before they’re wishing they could be back in their old space, where a plain white board nailed to the wall was more practical than the troublesome sliding screens in their new murder room. But true to form, Brenda is determined to bend the space to her style.

With the LAPD on the hunt for a new chief of police, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope (Simmons) is among those in the running. Should he get the job, it could mean a promotion for Brenda. The political juggling around the office soon leads Brenda to do some career-minded soul-searching. It also has her colleague, Robbery-Homicide Commander Taylor (Gossett), smelling a possible promotion for himself, even though he can’t even seem to wrangle an office of his own in the new facility.

On the home front, Brenda’s husband, FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Tenney), has some career changes of his own in store. After turning down a promotion that would have sent him to Washington, D.C., he’s now in line for a job that could not only keep him in LA, but give him and Brenda the chance to spend a lot more time together.

This season, Brenda and her squad will tackle cases involving a sniper shooting in a posh neighborhood, a possible serial rapist who uses a stun gun to immobilize his victims and a drug-related custody battle that ends in two deaths. Meanwhile, Detective Sanchez (Cruz) will struggle to care for a young boy involved in a case the squad investigated last year. And Lt. Provenza (Bailey), Brenda’s second-in-command, will once again find himself in a professionally embarrassing situation when a one-night stand with a flight attendant leads to the discovery of a dead body in her bathtub.

Also this season, Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica) will reprise her role as Capt. Raydor, the by-the-book head of the Force Investigation Division, who has butted heads with Brenda on several occasions. This time, her presence could have major implications for Brenda’s future in the department.

closer, Kyra Sedgwick, tntcloser, Kyra Sedgwick, tntcloser, Kyra Sedgwick, tnt

How to Enter for the Contest:

Send us your name, e-mail and to enter for each show’s giveaway, just type up a paragraph or more about what you enjoy about the series and a winner will be selected randomly for each contest giveaway. (PLEASE: In the subject header of the e-mail, put the name CLOSER GIVEAWAY in the subject).

Make sure to e-mail us your entry to: j-entcontest@nt2099.com or you can leave a comment below.

NOTE: We do not share any private information with a third party, your information is strictly for this contest and to contact you if you had won.

CONTEST RULES:

  • There will be one winner for the giveaway
  • Deadline is on November 28th (12:00 a.m. midnight – Pacific Time). The winners will be contacted on November 30th for their address information of where the merchandise will be sent. Deadline to receive your address is by December 1st (midnight – 12:00 a.m. – Pacific Time).  If winner does not send us the address by that time, we will draw another name.

The following post is a contest giveaway. J!-ENT has no relation to TNT or the shows featured.

J!-ENT is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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