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SUMMER’S NO. 1 MUSIC SERIES “BEAT SHAZAM” RENEWED FOR SECOND SEASON ON FOX

July 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Jamie Foxx Returns as Host and Executive Producer.
An All-New Episode, Featuring Guest Star Mariah Carey, Airs Tomorrow

Interactive music game show BEAT SHAZAM, hosted and executive-produced by Jamie Foxx, has been renewed for a second season, it was announced today by Rob Wade, President, Alternative Entertainment and Specials, Fox Broadcasting Company. Foxx will return as host and executive producer for Season Two, along with executive producers Mark Burnett and Jeff Apploff.

“Jamie is the ultimate host and entertainer,” said Wade. “He’s a larger-than-life personality, with a passion for music that’s infectious, and we can’t wait to have him return for another great round of BEAT SHAZAM in Season Two.”

On this week’s all-new episode of BEAT SHAZAM airing tomorrow, Thursday, July 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), Mariah Carey stops by to surprise the contestants during the “Divas” round, and another team attempts to BEAT SHAZAM for the one million dollar grand prize.

Delivering an average multi-platform audience of 4.4 million viewers, BEAT SHAZAM is summer’s No. 1 music series. BEAT SHAZAM is summer’s most social new TV series and has garnered 23 million total social engagements on all social channels combined.

The interactive music game show pits teams of two against the clock and each other as they attempt to identify the biggest hit songs of all time. In the end, the team with the most money banked will outlast the competition and go against Shazam, the world’s most popular song identification app, for the chance to win one million dollars. In addition to Carey, the series has featured a number of celebrity guest stars, including Snoop Dogg, Terrence Howard and Odell Beckham, Jr.

Shazam is one of the world’s most popular apps, used by hundreds of millions of people globally to connect to the world around them. Building on its pioneering leadership in music identification, Shazam now helps people discover, interact with, and share video, audio, or printed content on TV, radio, movie screens, magazines, newspapers, packaged goods, and retail stores – and now Shazam lets music fans follow their favorite artists to see their Shazams and share in the thrill of discovery. The app has been downloaded more than 1 billion times, and has exceeded 30 billion total Shazams since its launch, while users Shazam more than 20 million times each day.

BEAT SHAZAM was created by Jeff Apploff and Wes Kauble and is produced by Apploff Entertainment and MGM Television in association with Shazam. Jeff Apploff, Mark Burnett, Jamie Foxx, Barry Poznick, Rich Riley and Lauren Zalaznick serve as executive producers. “Like” BEAT SHAZAM on Facebook at facebook.com/BeatShazamFOX. Follow the series on Twitter @BeatShazamFOX and join the discussion using #BeatShazam.

All episodes of BEAT SHAZAM are available on FOX NOW, Hulu and On Demand. To watch episodes on FOX NOW, visit http://fox.tv/WatchBeatShazam.

Annie (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Annie” is a fun, upbeat family film and if you were never familiar with the original Broadway play or the 1982 film, then you may enjoy this film even more.

Images courtesy of © 2014 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Annie

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 118 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, English StereoSubtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2015


Based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray

Directed by Will Gluck

Written by Will Gluck, Aline Brosh McKenna

Executive Producer: Celia D. Costas, Alicia Emmrich

Produced by Jay Brown, Will Gluck, James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Caleeb Pinkett, Tyran Smith, Will Smith, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter

Co-Producer: Jeffrey Wetzel

Music by Greg Kurstin

Cinematography by Michael Grady

Edited by Tia Nolan

Casting by Kathleen Chopin

Production Design by Marcia Hinds

Art Direction by Patricia Woodbridge

Set Decoration by Romano C. Pugliese, David Schlesinger

Costume Design by Renee Ehrlich Kaifus


Starring:

Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks

Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie

Rose Byrne as Grace

Bobby Cannavale as Guy

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Nash

David Zayas as Lou

Cameron Diaz as Hannigan

Zoe Margaret Colletti as Tessi

Nicolette Pierini as Mia

Eden Duncan-Smith as Isabella

Amanda Troya as Pepper

Peter Van Wagner as Harold Gray

Micahel J. Fox as himself


Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as Annie, a young, happy foster kid who’s also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, it’s been a hard knock life ever since with Annie in the care of her mean foster mother Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). But everything’s about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) – advised by his brilliant VP, Grace (Rose Byrne) and his shrewd and scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) – makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in. Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.


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It began with an 1885 poem by James Whitcomb Riley and led to a 1924 comic strip by Harold Gray, “Little Orphan Annie” was a series that may have focused on a young orphan girl, but the storyline was geared for adults as it was political.

But by 1930, when the storyline was made into a radio show and in 1977 when it was made into a Broadway musical, suffice to say, Annie became part of America’s pop culture and known for songs such as “Tomorrow”, “Maybe” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life”.

As “Annie” would receive a film adaptation in 1982, “Annie” would continue on stage and once again in a film in 2014 directed by Will Gluck (“Easy A”, “Friends With Benefits”, “The Michael J. Fox Show”, “The McCarthys”).  The film was produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Z and a few others.

The film would star Jamie Foxx (“Collateral”, “Ray”, “Django Unchained”), Quvenzhane Wallis (“12 Years a Slave”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Rose Byrne (“X-Men: First Class”, “Neighbors”, “Insidious”), Bobby Cannavale (“Win Win”, “Chef”, “The Bone Collector”), Adewale Akinnuouye-Agbaje (“G.I. Joe”, “Lost”, “The Bourne Identity”, “Thor: The Dark World”), David Zayas (“Dexter”, “Oz”, “The Expendables”) and Cameron Diaz (“There’s Something About Mary”, “Gangs of New York”, “Being John Malkovich”).

And now “Annie” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2015.

A contemporary remake of the original 1977 Broadway musical with a change of setting and characters.

The film is set in Harlem, 10-year-old Annie Bennett (portrayed by Quvenzhane Wallis) is a young girl who dreams of her parents coming back.  She often waits at a local restaurant expecting them to come back to her, but she holds on to hope.

Annie lives at a foster home parented by the mean and often drunk Colleen Hannigan (portrayed by Cameron Diaz), who wanted Annie for the free paycheck.  One day, as Hannigan is visited by a social worker, she accidentally drops a document of her records and Annie finds records that may point her to the direction of where her parents may be.

Meanwhile, Will Stacks (portrayed by Jamie Foxx) is a cell phone mogul running for mayor.  He’s a germaphobe and while exceptional in the communications industry, he’s not a good communicator and relies on his assistant Grace (portrayed by Rose Byrne), his driver Nash (portrayed by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and his campaign manager Guy (portrayed by Bobby Cannavale).

One day, as Annie is trying to save a dog from bullies, she is nearly hit by a car but rescued by Will Stacks.  Someone shot the video and posted in social media and immediately, his numbers in the polls rise.

Seeing how people reacted to him saving Annie’s life, Will’s people advise him to bring Annie to his place for her to live temporarily in order to bring up his points.  Annie agrees to it and she goes to live with Will Stacks and also adopts the female dog she saved, named Sandy.

And as the two live with each other, they realize they make each other happy but how long can Annie put away her true emotions of wanting to be part of Will’s life, like a family member in order to help him raise his popularity among the voters?


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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Annie” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen, audio in English, French, Spanish and English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Stereo.

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, I highly recommend purchasing the Blu-ray release of “Annie”.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Annie” comes with the following special features:

  • Director’s Commentary – Audio commentary by Will Gluck.
  • The Making of Annie – (14:35) A featurette with director Will Gluck, the crew and cast of “Annie”.
  • You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile – Music Video – (3:25)

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Back in the early ’80s, “Annie” was one of the first films I watched on cable.   At the time, “Annie” was a big part of American culture thanks to the Broadway play and the music.

While “Annie” may not be as well-known for younger audiences of today or even young adults of today, “Annie” was one of those feel-good, rags-to-riches story featuring memorable music and the film also featured wonderful performances by the film’s many talents.

While my original perception was “do we really need a remake of ‘Annie’?” and frowned upon a contemporary remake, like all films, you never know what to expect unless you give it a try.

While the original 1982 film is much better in how it was able to recreate an old-time setting, create drama and comedy thanks to the performances in the film, the 2014 film is no doubt lively, contemporary and fun but when compared to the 1982 film, the contemporary version tends to seem weak in storyline and doesn’t captivate you in the same way.

One positive aspect of the 2014 film is that young actress Quevenzhane Wallis as Annie can sing!  Her character is vibrant but helps make the film more enjoyable.  And while I enjoyed watching Jamie Foxx and Rose Byrne, the modern take of this film has been drastically changed too much for its own good.

The original featured Annie and her friends as orphans and a tyrant of an owner making life difficult for each of the orphans.  While in the 2014 remake, Cameron Diaz’ Hannigan doesn’t stay as an antagonist too long.  We have social media being too much of a part of this film and many shameless plugs for Instagram galore, I founded myself enjoying the musical acts featuring Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx or Rose Byrne more than the film itself.

Not to say that the remake of “Annie” was bad, because it wasn’t.  It was a fun, upbeat film but it’s just that for us older viewers who remember “Annie”, this was not the “Annie” we grew up.  And that’s fine.   I see the film as Annie for a new generation of children and while families and people of all ages can enjoy it, those who are not familiar with the original story or its music may find this 2014 “Annie” to be much more easier to accept.

As for the DVD release, as mentioned, if you want the best picture and audio quality, then the Blu-ray release is the way to go.  The DVD features a music video, making of and audio commentary, bu the Blu-ray release features sing-along tracks and more content.

Overall, “Annie” is a fun, upbeat family film and if you were never familiar with the original Broadway play or the 1982 film, then you may enjoy this film even more.  The problem is that the original 1982 film was better in terms of movie setting, writing, performances by its talent and it retained that magic from the original “Little Orphan Annie”.  The contemporary remake was too different, the writing was weaker when compared to the original, but I did enjoy the musical performances by young actress Quvenzhane Wallis, who can definitely sing!  But in the end, because of its modern interpretation, the younger generation may enjoy this remake much more.

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

August 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

YEAR OF FILM: 2014

DURATION: 141 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2014

Directed by Marc Webb

Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner

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

Based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Produced by Avi Adrad, Matthew Tolmach

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

Associate Producer: Beatriz Sequeira

Music by Johnny Marr, Pharrell Williams, Hans Zimmer

Cinematography by Daniel Mindel

Edited by Pietro Scalia

Casting by Kathleen Chopin

Production Design by Mark Friedberg

Art Direction by Kim Jennings, Richard L. Johnson

Set Decoration by Susan Bode

Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott

Starring:

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy

Jamie Foxx as Electro/Max Dillon

Dane DeHaan as Green Goblin/Harry Osborn

Colm Feore as Donald Menken

Felicity Jones as Felicia

Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich

Sally Field as Aunt May

Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker

Campbell Scott as Richard Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White House Down (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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“White House Down” is an exciting, popcorn action film.  Roland Emmerich is great at creating huge action films and this one is no exception.  Featuring a strong cast and an entertaining storyline, despite for its storyline shortcomings, fans of Emmerich’s previous action films will no doubt be entertained by “White House Down”.  

Images courtesy of © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: White House Down

DURATION: 132 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Simplified and Mandarin Traditional), French, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some Material May be Inappropriate to Children Under 13)

RELEASE DATE: November 5, 2013

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Written by James Vanderbilt

Produced by Roland Emmerich, Brad Fischer, Larry J. Franco, Laeta Kalogridis, Harald Kloser, James Vanderbilt

Co-Producer: Volker Engel, Marc Weigert

Executive Producer: Reid Carolin, ute Emmerich, Channing Tatum

Music by Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker

Cinematography by Anna Foerster

Edited by Adam Wolfe

Casting by John Pasidera

Production Design by Kirk M. Petrucelli

Set Decoration by Marie-Soleil Denomme, Paul Hotte, David Laramy

Costume Design by Lisa Christl

Starring:

Channing Tatum as Cale

Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty

Jason Clarke as Stenz

Richard Jenkins as Raphelson

Joey King as Emily

James Woods as Walker

James Woods as Walker

Nicolas Wright as the Donnie the Guide

Jimmi Simpson as Tyler

Michael Murphy as Vice President Hammond

Rachelle Lefevre as Melanie

Lance Reddick as General Caulfield

Matt Craven as Agent Kellerman

Jake Weber as Agent Hope

Peter Jacobson as Wallace

Barbara Williams as Muriel Walker

Kevin Rankin as Killick

Garcell Beauvais as Alison Sawyer

Falk Hentschel as Motts

Romano Orzari as Mulcahy

Jackie Geary as Jenna

Andrew Simms as Roger Skinner

Vincent Leclerc as Agent Todd

Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, during which the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. Co-starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins and James Woods.

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From Roland Emmerich, the director of “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Independence Day”, “Godzilla” and “2012” comes his latest action thriller “White House Down”.

Written by James Vanderbilt (“The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Zodiac”, “The Rundown”), the film would star Channing Tatum (“21 Jump Street”, “White House Down”, “Magic Mike”), Jamie Foxx (“Django Unchained”, “Law Abiding Citizen”, “Collateral”, “Ray”), Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Dark Knight”, “Donnie Darko”, “Secretary”), Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”, “Lawless”, “Public Enemies”, “Gatsby”), Richard Jenkins (“Jack Reacher”, “The Cabin in the Woods”, “Step Brothers”), Joey King (“Oz the Great and Powerful”, “The Dark Knight Rises”) and James Woods (“Videodrome”, “Casino”, “The Virgin Suicides”).

The film would earn over $200 million in the in box office and in Nov. 2013, “White House Down” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“White House Down” revolves around John Cale (portrayed by Channing Tatum), a man working as a Capitol Hill police officer for Raphelson (portrayed by Richard Jenkins) and his security detail.  A former serviceman and also a divorced husband, it’s his week to take care of his daughter Emily (portrayed by Joey King).

Cale is often not in his daughter’s life because of his previous stint in the military and now with his new job but for the day, he wants to surprise her to a trip to the White House, the same day he is to apply for a job in Secret Service for the President of the United States.

He knows that Emily is a big fan of the President of the United States and is obsessed with details of the President and the White House and runs a YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to President Sawyer (portrayed by Jamie Foxx), who is trying to get his peace plan pushed and work with the Middle East.

As Cale applies for the job, he finds out that the person interviewing him is an old high school flame, Finnerty (portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal) and because of his lack of education, she doesn’t feel that Cale is suitable for the job.

We are introduced to Walker (portrayed by James Woods), the head of the secret service detail for the President and a man who is retiring.  He tells Finnerty to go home and rest, while he enjoys his final day at the White House.

While Cale and Emily are on a White House tour, Emily goes to the bathroom.   Meanwhile, a group of terrorists are seen as a group working on the White House. They set off a bomb which destroys part of the White House and kills many people in the process.  In the confusion, while some of the high ranking cabinet members escape, including the Vice President.

As Emily is about to leave the bathroom, she sees the terrorists unmasked and begins taking video with her camera and hides behind a curtain.

As Walker escorts the President to his bunker, Walker reveals himself as a traitor and begins to shoot everyone inside the bunker.  As for Cale, the terrorist try to enter the area where the tour group is located and Cale manages to escape.  As he tries to find his daughter, he manages to take out one of the terrorist and takes his weapon.  In the process, he saw Walker escorting the President to the bunker and manages to rescue the President Sawyer from Walker.

As the two hide outside an elevator shaft, they both find out that the head of the terrorist group, Stenz (portrayed by Jason Clarke) is working with Walker and that both men are wanting revenge against the President.  He has given the orders to find the President and keep him alive.  But when Stenz finds out that Cale took out of his best men, he makes it a mission to find Cale and kill him.

So, the terrorist try to look for both President Sawyer and Cale, but can Cale keep the President protected and find his daughter before they find her?

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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“White House Down” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen. It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray version is the way to go.

While the DVD version looks good, the audio is quite active thanks to its English, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.  Great use of the surround channels as you can hear bullets zipping, explosions galore and also crowd ambiance as well.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Simplified and Mandarin Traditional), French, Korean, Malay, Portuguese and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“White House Down” comes with the following special features:

  • A Dynamic Duo – (4:10) How Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx got along perfectly well on the set and had great working chemistry, and how they were able to do some improvisation and play off each other.
  • Men Of Action – (3:44) A featurette of the stunt coordination of the film.
  • – (5:09) The cast and crew discuss working with Roland Emmerich.
  • Meet The Insiders – (5:14) Writer James Vanderbilt talks about the cast and also featuring the cast talking about their character role.

EXTRAS:

“White House Down” comes with an UltraViolet code for one to access a Digital Copy for their table or cell phone.

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It’s interesting to see two films in 2013 that deals with the White House being attacked by terrorists.

The first was “Olympus Has Fallen” and now, the release of “White House Down”. Both having their own similarities but with the former being much more violent and dealing with a foreign terrorist, an American traitor while trying to save a child, the latter having a bit more humor, dealing with American terrorists, an American traitor and also trying to save a child.

Both films have received mixed reviews, both were expensive to make and made more than what the film was budgeted for, which is good.

Taking a look at “White House Down”, one of the biggest appeals to the film is you have two popular stars such as Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and when you have a filmmaker such as Roland Emmerich involved, suffice to say, you’re going to have a lot of CG of destruction and a lot of action.

And I felt that “White House Down” delivers!

The film establishes the character of John Cale as a Capitol Hill officer, former veteran, a single father who is divorced and wanting to spend time with a daughter he never had much time to be with.  There relationship is somewhat strained and his daughter Emily tends to make an emphasis each time she calls him “John” but also having President Wallace as her hero, not her father.

Suffice to say that Channing Tatum has come a long way as an action hero.  From “G.I. Joe” to “21 Jump Street” and now “White House Down”, we have seen how far this young actor has come and for the most part, for an action film, his role as John Cale is his best action role yet.  In fact, as what Bruce Willis has done for John McClane, I can see future possibilities for John Cale.  Because if Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer can save the White House in “24” and go on to take part in many other heroic campaigns, with Tatum’s popularity and potential popularity of his character, it can happen.

But then again, Roland Emmerich films have not yet received any sequels (but his future work “ID Forever” which is currently in pre-production, will).

As for Jamie Foxx, one may see his role as a President a bit of a surprise.  Mainly because so many are used to watching the comedian and singer in other type of roles but yet, Foxx has shown amazing potential as a serious actor since the 2004 film “Ray”.  And the fact that Foxx has begun playing roles that people tend to not picture him in, may it be as President of the United States or next year’s film as Electro in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.

As President Sawyer, Foxx does a very good job of dialing the humor in, fighting when he has too but also being a courageous character wanting to protect the country.  But in Jamie Foxx fashion, also expecting an “F-bomb” once in awhile.  Emmerich allowed moments of improvisation between Tatum and Foxx and because both men were able to click with each other as actors and the chemistry worked between both, it helped make the film a bit more entertaining to watch.

The film also has a strong supporting cast with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty, a woman who communicates with Cale during the entire film but also an intelligent woman who senses there is more to the situation, than the traitor being Secret Service head, Walker, a character which James Wood manages to play with efficacy.

But aside from Tatum and Foxx, the next actor who gets plenty of screen time is young actress Joey King as John Cale’s daughter, Emily.

Where in “Olympus Has Fallen”, the child is a young son of the President and his fear is justified, the character of Emily is a White House erudite.  She knows about the tunnels, many facts about the White House that even her father is surprised.  But while Emily also shows fear to what she has seen, it’s one of the few times where you see a child also so brave as she uses her cell phone to capture video of the terrorist and upload it to YouTube.

But when confronted by terrorists she is a child that is not afraid to tell the terrorists how she feels.  The young actress definitely has a character role that is not only sassy but also heroic.

While I did enjoy “White House Down”, there were several things that made me roll my eyes.  For one, a terrorist attack would not allow military or police to have civilians crowding in front of the White House.  I can see the streets blocked for a mile away to prevent civilians from getting close to the White House.

Another issue and a personal peeve are the driving moments between Cale and Emily and the usual, I’m not watching the road, I keep looking at the person in the passenger seat for a little too long in traffic.

And the ending had a bit too much bravado with situations that are a bit farfetched.

But this is a Roland Emmerich film, you are used to seeing the impossible happen and the craziest things happen in his popcorn action films.  So, I guess it’s best to say that we are used to it by now.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, for those wanting the best PQ and AQ, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  But the DVD does look good, its audio is its best point as the many action scenes utilize the surround channels quite well.  Although, I did feel the special features were too short.

Overall, “White House Down” is an exciting, popcorn action film.  Roland Emmerich is great at creating huge action films and this one is no exception.  Featuring a strong cast and an entertaining storyline, despite for its storyline shortcomings, fans of Emmerich’s previous action films will no doubt be entertained by “White House Down”.

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

July 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Rio” is a highly enjoyable animated film for the entire family!   While “Rio” features fantastic PQ, AQ and many special features, fans of “Angry Birds Rio” will definitely want to pick up this Blu-ray release for the special extra levels code as well.  Fans of both “Rio” and “Angry Birds Rio” will no doubt love this Blu-ray release!  Definitely recommended!

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Images courtesy of ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Rio (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 96 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

RATED: G

COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2011

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Story by Carlos Saldanha, Earl Richey Jones and Todd Jones

Screenplay by Don Rhymer, Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Sam Harper

Produced by Bruce Anderson, John C. Donkin

Music by John Powell

Cinematography by Renato Falcao

Edited by Harry Hitner, Randy Trager

Casting by Christian Kaplan

Set Decoration by Melanie Martini

Starring:

Jesse Eisenberg as Blu

Lesllie Mann as Linda

Wanda Sykes as Chloe

Jane Lynch as Alice

Rodrigo Santoro as Tulio

Jamie Foxx as Nico

Will.i.am as Pedro

Anne Hathaway as Jewel

George Lopez as Rafael

Captured as a young bird from the wild, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network) is a domesticated Spix Macaw living thousands of miles away from his homeland, Brazil. When his human owner Linda (Leslie Mann, 17 Again) discovers that he is the last male of his kind, they head south to Rio de Janeiro to meet the only other female. But it’s far from love at first sight between the socially-awkward, flight-challenged Blu and the fiercely independent, high-flying female, Jewel (Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries). Shortly after Blu’s arrival, the two rare birds are captured by greedy animal smugglers and find themselves lost in the Brazilian rainforest. Unexpectedly thrown together, they embark on a hilarious and clumsy adventure where they learn about friendship, love, courage and spreading one’s wings to fly.

Filmmaker/animator Carlos Saldanha has brought success for Twentieth Century Fox with the various “Ice Age” films and while the films have been popular for FOX, many companies are quite competitive when it comes to theatrical films and when it comes to marketing, especially for a big budgeted animated film, you need all the push you can get.

And Saldanha’s “Rio” (budgeted at $90 million) will definitely need that heavy marketing push.

With probably one of the most ingenuous collaborations in recent memory Twentieth Century Fox’s tie-in with video game company Rovio, the creator of the immensely popular mobile game “Angry Birds”.

Prior to the film, millions of people all over the world got their chance to play “Angry Birds Rio”, a mobile video  game which has been downloaded over 10 million times.

With a successful tie-in with the game and bringing buzz to the animated film, “Rio” went on to make $476 million dollars in the box office.  A successful hit and Twentieth Century Fox and Rovio are back again, teaming up for a Blu-ray and DVD release (set for Aug. 2nd) which not only comes with the film on Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy but also has 15 bonus levels for “Angry Birds Rio”.

“Rio” begins with a blue macaw which was smuggled from Rio de Janeiro to Minnesota  and by accident, a crate containing the bird falls in front of the home of a young girl named Linda.

Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann, “Knocked Up”, “17 Again”, “The Cable Guy”) would eventually grow up along with her blue macaw named Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”, “Zombieland”, “Adventureland”).

Linda has always protected Blu but one day, while working at a book store, a Brazilian ornithologist Tulio Monteiro (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro, “300”, “Che”) comes and tells Linda that he needs her help and explains that Blu must be taken back to Rio because it appears his species is nearly extinct and needs Blu to mate with another Macaw in order to preserve the species.

At first Linda is against it but she knows that for the better good of Blu’s species, going to Rio may be a good thing.  And sure enough, Linda and Blu along with Tulio pack their bags and go to Rio.

While visiting the aviary, Rio makes friends with a cardinal named Pedro (voiced by Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am) and a yellow canary named Nico (voiced by Jamie Foxx, “Collateral”, “Ray”, “Dreamgirls”).  He also meets the macaw that he is to mate with, a light blue macaw named Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway).

At first Blu, thinks that he is to mate with Jewel but Jewel needs Blu to help them escape from the aviary and go back to the wilderness.    But the two end up fighting, while Linda and Tulio think the birds are actually planning to mate.

But what they don’t know is that here is a boy named Fernando (voiced by Jake T. Austin, “Wizards of Waverly Place”, “Hotel for Dogs”) and his Cockatoo named Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement) are working for a group of smugglers led by Marcel (voiced by Carlos Ponce), a once popular performer on TV who has vowed to capture and smuggle exotic birds because he was replaced by a parakeet on the program.

But fortunately, both Blu and Jewel are able to flee from the smugglers and end up in a jungle where they meet a toucan named Rafael (voiced by George Lopez, “George Lopez”, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”).

Meanwhile, Fernando, the boy who stole Blu and Jewel, after being cheated of the profits he was expecting to get from Marcel, he regrets what he has done and goes to Tulio and Linda and wants to help them find the birds.

As Blu and Jewel spend time with Rafael, Rafael teaches Blu how to fly and also how to survive in the jungle, meanwhile Marcel sends out Nigel, the evil cockatoo to do what it takes to capture the macaws and so Nigel has hired mamoset thieves to capture Blu and Jewel.

Will Blu and Jewel be safe in the jungle and will Linda and Tulio find Blu and Jewel in time before Marcel and crew get their hands on them?

VIDEO:

“Rio” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is presented in widescreen (2:40:1).  As one would expect from a film that takes place in the jungle and many colorful birds being featured throughout the film, “Rio” looks absolutely vibrant on Blu-ray.  Colors galore!  Wonderful detail on the feathers and beaks of the birds, backgrounds and details of rocks to the buildings and even the interiors of the homes look great.

If there is one word to describe the picture quality of the film, that word would be “colorful”.  Expect to see many colors pop throughout the film and for the most part, be content with its awesome picture quality!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rio” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English descriptive audio 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and French 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The film contains a lot of ambient noises that sound fantastic coming through the surround channels.  It’s one thing to have samba musical sequences that sound crystal clear and lively coming from your home theater as there is good use of instruments from surround channels.  Front and center channels showcasing the dialogue and music is also crystal clear.

But the film does showcasing excellent ambiance and overall “Rio” has a pretty solid lossless soundtrack!

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rio” comes with the following special features:

  • Angry Birds Rio Trailer – (1:25) Trailer for “Angry Birds Rio”.
  • Angry Birds Rio: Nigel Mashup – (2:17) A video featuring Nigel holding the Angry Birds captive.
  • Angry Birds: Exclusive Clue Video – (:29) Featuring a video on how people can obtain things online via a code.
  • Deleted Scene – Fruit Stand – (1:30) A deleted scene (via sketches) with the voice acting.
  • Explore the World of Rio – An interactive tour of Rio (featuring sights and sounds).
  • Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time – (24:49) A featurette on the voice acting fr the film, featuring interviews with the cast and behind-the-scenes look at them recording those scenes.
  • The Real Rio – (9:31) A featurette on how the filmmakers toured Rio as research for the film and the things they got from visiting Rio.
  • The Making of Hot Wings – (8:02) A featurette on Will.i.am and Jamie Foxx recording their scenes for “Rio”.
  • Boom Boom Tish Tish: The Sound of Brazil – (13:30) Featuring interviews with Diretor Carlos Saldanha, film crew and also with Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown.
  • Carnival Dance-o-Rama – Dance lessons courtesy of the characters from Rio.
  • Welcome to Rio Music Video – (1:37) A music video welcoming people to “Rio”.
  • Rio de JAM-eiro Jukebox – (8:34) Featuring easy access to the musical sequences from “Rio”.
  • Taio Cruz – Telling the World Music Video – (1:55) A short music video featuring Taio Cruz.
  • Postcards from Rio – Create your own custom Rio postcard.
  • Theatrical trailer – (2:26) Featuring the theatrical trailer for “Rio”.

EXTRAS:

“Rio” comes with a slipcover case but also flyers to access the Rio “Coloring with Blu” app and a secret clue for one to unlock 15 new Rio levels on “Angry Birds Rio” via iPhone, iPad or Android.  “Rio” on Blu-ray also comes with a DVD and Digital Copy edition of the film.

There was no doubt in my mind when news broke out that Twentieth Century Fox would be collaborating with Rovio for “Rio” that the film would be successful.

It hasn’t really been done before but its a true testament how the games “Angry Birds” on iPhones, Android cell phones and iPads have captured so many people’s attention.  My family is absolutely addicted to the game and even to this day, they continue to play “Angry Birds”, “Angry Birds Seasons” and “Angry Birds Rio”.

And for my son and my nephew, because of the tie-in with Angry Birds, before “Rio” was shown in theaters, it’s all they talked about.  They had to see “Rio” and they had to play “Angry Birds Rio”.

So, the collaboration between Twentieth Century Fox and Rovio was fantastic and it’s one thing to say that because the film is from the creators of “Ice Age” that the film would be a success but lately, animated films are becoming much more competitive and even the big studios have had significant misses as of late for films that they would have expected to be a blockbuster hit.

The thing is that with today’s economy and the many animated films that are available, the animated films need some major marketing push beyond fast food “Kids Meals” and the fact that “Angry Birds Rio” is still at this time a continuing game that introduces new gameplay and levels every few months, “Angry Birds Rio” is here to stay for now.

So, it was no surprise that “Rio” did succeed in the box office, it was an incredible collaboration.

And sure enough, Twentieth Fox and Rovio has done it once again for this Blu-ray release.  Not only do you get the Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy, there is also “Angry Birds” content and also a code to get 15 new levels for “Angry Birds Rio”.  In fact, prior to my reviewing this Blu-ray release, once the title came up and Angry Birds was shown on the menu, my son and nephew went crazy and wanted to see all the “Angry Birds” content first.

So, once again, good timing on both companies parts of collaborating once again to grab that “Angry Birds” demographic.

With that being said, the animated film was definitely fun!  Jesse Eisenberg did a great job at providing the voice of the awkward Blu and Anne Hathaway is just a wonderful actress period and she does a great job voicing the role of Jewel.  And you also get quite a bit of talent participating in this film such as George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Will.i.am, Wanda Sykes, Jane Lynch, Leslie Mann, Jake T. Austin, etc.

The story is fun and enjoyable, colorful and vibrant on Blu-ray.  Also, the audio is wonderful with the music and the use of the ambiance of the environment of the jungle and Rio.

And as for special features, there is a good number of them on Blu-ray but while they are not necessarily long, the addition of the “Angry Birds Rio” extra levels is a significant plus for the millions of hardcore fans of the game.  So, it gives people an extra incentive to purchase this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Rio” is a highly enjoyable, family fun animated film!  The Blu-ray release is absolutely jam-packed and “Angry Birds Rio” fans are definitely going to want to pick up “Rio” on Blu-ray.

Definitely recommended!

 

 

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YOLANDA ADAMS, CHRISTINA AGUILERA, JENNIFER HUDSON, MARTINA MCBRIDE AND FLORENCE WELCH WILL JOIN TOGETHER IN A ROUSING CELEBRATION OF THE QUEEN OF SOUL, ARETHA FRANKLIN, ON “THE 53RD ANNUAL GRAMMY(R) AWARDS”

February 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ESPERANZA SPALDING JOINS STUDENTS FROM THE GRAMMY® JAZZ ENSEMBLES AND GRAMMY® CAMP FOR A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE

Marc Anthony, Jamie Foxx, Jewel, John Mayer, Pauley Perrette and Donnie Wahlberg Added to the Star-Studded Lineup as Presenters

As a “Valentine” and “get-well card” to Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and GRAMMY® Legend Award recipient Aretha Franklin, four-time GRAMMY winner Yolanda Adams, four-time GRAMMY winner and Latin GRAMMY® winner Christina Aguilera, GRAMMY winner Jennifer Hudson, country superstar Martina McBride and current nominee Florence Welch will perform together on THE 53rd ANNUAL GRAMMY® AWARDS live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011 (8:00-11:30 PM, ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network.  The special segment will feature individual and collective performances of some of the Queen of Soul’s classic hits in celebration of the 18-time GRAMMY winner and current nominee’s ongoing music legacy.  Current nominee Esperanza Spalding also will perform in a special number with members of the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles and GRAMMY Camp.

Two-time GRAMMY and three-time Latin GRAMMY winner Marc Anthony, GRAMMY and Academy Award® winner Jamie Foxx, seven-time GRAMMY winner and current nominee John Mayer, actor Pauley Perrette and actor/singer Donnie Wahlberg have been added as presenters to the music industry’s premier event.  They join a star-studded lineup that includes current three-time GRAMMY nominee Dierks Bentley, pop singer/actor Miley Cyrus, singer/actor Selena Gomez, two-time Emmy® winner Neil Patrick Harris, nine-time GRAMMY winner and current nominee Norah Jones, three-time GRAMMY winner Kris Kristofferson (who will introduce Barbara Streisand’s performance), six-time GRAMMY winner and current nominee John Legend, two-time GRAMMY winner and actor LL COOL J, current nominee Nicki Minaj, nominee Paramore, actor Seth Rogen and current nominee Blake Shelton.

Adams, Aguilera, Hudson, McBride, Spalding and Welch join previously announced performers and nominees Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, Muse, Katy Perry and Barbra Streisand (who will appear in a rare performance); nominees Justin Bieber and Usher, with Jaden Smith; nominees B.o.B, Bruno Mars and Janelle Monáe; nominees Drake and Rihanna; nominee Cee Lo Green, with Gwyneth Paltrow and the Jim Henson Company Puppets; and Mick Jagger with Raphael Saadiq.

First-time nominees Spalding and Welch each have one nomination: both are up for Best New Artist.

Arcade Fire, Bieber, B.o.B, Jagger, Lambert, Mars, Monáe, Muse, Paltrow and Smith will be performing on the GRAMMY telecast for the first time, and all five Album of the Year nominees are set to perform on Music’s Biggest Night®: Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Perry.

Additionally, the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast Ceremony will take place from 1:00-4:00 PM, PT, at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will be streamed live internationally on www.grammy.com/live and on www.youtube.com/thegrammys beginning at 1:00 PM, PT.  Current GRAMMY nominees Bobby McFerrin and Esperanza Spalding will co-host the star-studded ceremony, which will feature performances by current nominees including Afro-Colombian hip-hop trio and Latin GRAMMY winner ChocQuibTown; blues musician and five-time GRAMMY winner Buddy Guy; singer/songwriter and GRAMMY winner Cyndi Lauper; American roots musician Maria Muldaur; contemporary blues artist Kenny Wayne Shepherd; trombone and trumpet player Trombone Shorty; legendary gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples; jazz musician Kirk Whalum; and R&B singer/songwriter and GRAMMY winner Betty Wright.

Presenting the first GRAMMY Awards of the night in approximately 98 categories will be current nominees: performance artist Laurie Anderson, pop singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, electronic/dance music artist and remixer BT, actor/comedian Kathy Griffin and Latin Jazz musician Wayne Wallace.  The live stream of the Pre-Telecast will remain on GRAMMY.com as video on demand for 30 days following the event.

THE 53rd ANNUAL GRAMMY® AWARDS are produced by John Cossette Productions and AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy.  Ken Ehrlich and John Cossette are executive producers, Louis J. Horvitz is director, and David Wild and Ken Ehrlich are the writers.

About The Recording Academy

Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers.  Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards – the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music – The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs.  The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture.  For more information about The Academy, please visit http://www.grammy.com/.  For breaking news and exclusive content, join the organization’s social networks as a Twitter follower at www.twitter.com/thegrammys, a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/thegrammys, and a YouTube channel subscriber at www.youtube.com/thegrammys.

Official CBS Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CBSTweet

“UNTITLED JAMIE FOXX/AFFION CROCKETT PROJECT”: (working title) SNEAK PREVIEW TO AIR FOLLOWING “AMERICAN IDOL” THURSDAY, MARCH 31, ON FOX

January 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Sketch Comedy Series Executive-Produced by Academy Award Winner Jamie Foxx

Premieres Thursday, June 9, on FOX

Actor-Comedian Affion Crockett Stars and Serves as Producer

The UNTITLED JAMIE FOXX/AFFION CROCKETT PROJECT (working title), a fast-paced, half-hour sketch-comedy series executive-produced by Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and starring rising comedic talent Affion Crockett (“The Boondocks,” “Dance Flick”), will air a sneak preview Thursday, March 31 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) following AMERICAN IDOL on FOX. The series will then premiere in its regular time period Thursday, June 9 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).

In the vein of FOX’s groundbreaking and network-defining “In Living Color,” the UNTITLED JAMIE FOXX/AFFION CROCKETT PROJECT (working title) will offer a fresh take on pop culture, including spoofs of movie trailers, commercials, TV shows, music videos and celebrities, with a diverse cast made up of the very best new young comedians on the scene today. Additionally, some of the biggest names in Hollywood will be stopping by for a visit. Crockett, whose incisive web shorts have drawn a cult following, will also serve as a producer and writer.

The UNTITLED JAMIE FOXX/AFFION CROCKETT PROJECT (working title) is a production of Fox Television Studios, Foxx/King Entertainment and Tantamount Studios. The series is executive-produced by Foxx, Todd Yasui (“The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”), Marcus King (“Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” “The Jamie Foxx Show”), Jaime Rucker King (“Ray,” “From G’s to Gents”), Eric Tannenbaum (“Two and a Half Men”), Kim Tannenbaum (“Two and a Half Men”) and Mitch Hurwitz (“Arrested Development”). Carl Jones (“The Boondocks”) serves as co-executive producer, while Crockett serves as a producer.

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

July 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magnificent performance by Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx.  A moving and  powerful film which is based on a true story that is truly an eye opener to the homeless problem in America.”

Images courtesy of ©Paramount Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Soloist

DURATION: 116 minutes

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

COMPANY:  Paramount Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Thematic Elements, Some Drug Use and Language)

Release Date: August 4, 2009

Directed by Joe Wright

Based on a book by Steve Lopez

Screenplay by Susannah Grant

Executive Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jeff Skoll, Patricia Witcher

Produced by Gary Foster, Russ Krasnoff

Co-Produced by Rikki Lea Bestall, Leeann Stonebreaker

Music by Dario Marianelli

Director of Photography: Seamus McGarvey

Edited by Paul Tothill

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Sarah Greenwood

Art Direction by Greg Berry, Suzan Wexler

Set Decoration by Julie Smith, Katie Spencer

Costume Design by Jacqueline Durran

Starring:

Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers

Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez

CAtherine Keener as Mary Weston

Lisa Gay Hamilton as Jennifer

Nelsan Ellis as David

Academy Award nominee Robert Downey Jr. and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx star in an extraordinary and inspiring true story of how a chance meeting can change a life.  The Soloist tells the poignant and ultimately soaring tale of a Los Angeles newspaper reporter who discovers a brilliant street musician, with unsinkable passion, and the unique friendship and bon that transforms both their lives.  The remarkable performances make for an unforgetting experience in what is hailed as “a courageous and uncompromising film” (Gene Shalit, TODAY).

In 2005, Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez captured the hearts of thousands of readers with his columns about a former Juilliard musician named Nathaniel Ayers who is living on the streets.  After several columns, Lopez and Ayers would be featured on 60 Minutes and capture the attention of how two people who are absolute different, become good friends.

In 2008, Steve Lopez would write a book based on his experience with Nathanial Ayers but also give attention to the homeless in LA’s Skid row.  That book would then become a film.

The film version of “THE SOLOIST” is directed by Joe Wright (“Atonement” and “Pride & Prejudice”) and would feature a screenplay by Susannah Grant (“28 Days”, “Erin Brockovich” and “Charlotte’s Web”), music by Dario Marianelli (“Atonement”, “The Brave One” and “My World”) and cinematography by Seamus McGarvey (“Atonement”, “World Trade Center” and “Sahara”).

The film features a talented cast with Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man”, “Tropic Thunder”, “Charlie Bartlett”, etc.),  Jamie Foxx (“The Kingdom”, “Jarhead”, “Ray”), Catherine Keener (“Capote”, “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Solstice”) and Nelsan Ellis (“True Blood”, “The Inside” and “The Express).

The film is about a divorced L.A. Times news reporter named Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) who is looking for news to write about and one day, while out and about in L.A.’s Pershing Square, he hears a homeless man named Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) playing a two string violin.  Despite the two strings, he’s playing it extremely well.  But what catches his attention is that Ayers has told him he was a student at the prestigious performing arts school, Juilliard.  As a writer, this peaks Lopez’s interest in how can a homeless man who attended Juilliard be out in the streets.  What is his story?

While doing his research to find out if what Ayers has told him is true, Lopez learns that he was a talented student at Juilliard in the 70’s for two years but for some unexpected reason, he had dropped out. In fact, through his research, he realized that Nathaniel was exceptionally talented and those who taught or had the opportunity to work with him, saw his wonderful talent.

Lopez manages to contact his sister Jenny (Lisa Gay Hamilton) who explains a little bit about Nathaniel.  Lopez learns through his research that Nathaniel’s main instrument is a cello and during his time in Juilliard, he suddenly became sick (we see images of how Nathaniel starts hearing voices in his head that would not stop.  Symptoms of schizophrenia.)

But for Nathaniel, there seemed to be a peace for him living on the streets and playing his music.

After the first column was published in the L.A. Times, many people felt passionate about the story that one woman who played the cello was unable to do so, due to her severe arthritis.  She requested for Lopez to give it to Ayers in which he did.  By then, Lopez used the cello as a way to get some help for Nathaniel and to play at Lamp Community which treats the mentally ill (but as a way for him to receive some treatment himself).

But its the discovery of what Steve Lopez sees while developing this friendship with Nathaniel (and more columns to follow), which is the homeless on skid row.  People living on the streets, where people just sleep anywhere they can, occasional fighting, deaths.  These are people like Nathaniel who have a story of their previous life before becoming homeless and these people, Lopez would meet and get to know their story and become part of his columns.

But as the film would cover this growing relationship between Lopez and Ayers (especially Lopez doing what he can to help Ayers), we see Lopez as a man who not showed the same compassion towards his own family and thus it becomes a film about self-discovery.  As Lopez will learn a difficult lesson about himself but also a film that shows how bad the problem of homelessness is in Los Angeles (the #1 city with homeless in the country and over 900,00 people are homeless in the city).

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Soloist” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  For the most part, the picture quality is absolutely vibrant and colorful.  During the day scenes, we are exposed to the grit and grime of where Nathaniel is living and also, during the night where we see Skid Row in its most unpleasantness.

There is plenty of detail from the dirt and grime on the faces of people, the detail of trash and whatever the homeless can find that would benefit them.  For Nathaniel, from the things that he wears on his body, to the paint on his face revealing the cracks and unevenness of the paint, the detail is there.  From well-defined edges and revealing textures.  During daylight scenes, picture quality is vibrant.  During the night time scenes, black levels are quite good. Overall, a solid transfer.

As for the audio, audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (also, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital).  Dialogue remains crisp and clear but the music is what comes alive in this film.  Your front channel speakers definitely makes the soundscape much more immersive.  There is a fair amount of ambience as well from the surrounds.  For a film that doesn’t have special effects but depends on its dialogue and music, “The Soloist” is well done for a film of this nature.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Special features included on this Blu-ray are:

  • Audio Commentary by Joe Wright – A very passionate commentary with Joe talking about certain scenes of the film, working with the talent but also his goal of what he wanted to accomplish by experiencing Skid Row for himself and how the film became a mission to show how bad things are.
  • An Unlikely Friendship: Making the Soloist – (19:35) Presented in High Definition, this featurette is about how the Producers came to a decision to make Steve Lopez’s book into a film.  Filming in Skid Row, filming of the L.A. Philharmonic and actual situations that happened in the film and talking to the real people that the film is based on.  Also, interviews with the talent in the film.
  • Kindness, Courtesy and Respect – Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez – (4:48) Both Nathaniel Ayers and Steve Lopez talk about their respect for each other and what it has meant for each of them to have this special friendship with one another.
  • One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing homelessness in Los Angeles – (9:45) Interview with Director Joe Wright, Producer Russ Krasnoff, Orlando Ward (Director of Recovery Services at Midnight Mission), Casey Horan (Executive Director of LAMP) and screenwriter Susannah Grant and those involved with helping the homeless but also showing us how bad things are in Los Angeles but what they are doing to help the homeless through programs and services.
  • Juilliard: The Education of Nathaniel Ayers – (4:06) Producer Gary Foster talks about Juilliard, the significance of a young black man in the 1970’s who received a scholarship to learn at the prestigious school and also a day when Yo Yo Ma met Nathaniel Ayers.
  • Beth’s Story – (2:00) A short animated film about a girl named Beth on how she came from a great family, upon an accident which claimed her parents, her life as a child, an adult and how she became homeless.  How each person on the street has a story, not all were born homeless.
  • Deleted Scenes – (9:47) Six deleted scenes which include: Blood, Hospital Questions, Audition, I’m no Good, Some Life, I want the Concert to Go On
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:32) The original theatrical trailer

“The Soloist” is a powerful film and an eye-opener of how compassion and friendship can go along way in helping people in need.

For the most part, “The Soloist” puts Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx in a film that features another major performance of both their careers.  The two do a stellar job but for the film as a whole, it is a powerful and moving film but where a film would start to pick up steam as it nears the end, “The Soloist” stays consistent with a little drop off.  And I suppose the fact is that the story of Nathaniel Ayers is still ongoing.  Both Lopez and Ayers are friends and it was very important for the film to not have a false happy ending because like in real life, this story is ongoing.

And that is where the problem of the film and what people may have with it.   If anything, a film that deals with schizophrenia will easily be compared to the Academy Award winning film “A Beautiful Mind” and “Shine”.  The films which both definitely had a memorable final hour and really showed us the state of mind of one with the mental illness.  These films were dramatic and surprising.   But for “The Soloist”, the film was about friendship between a writer who has his life changed by meeting this talented performer with schizophrenia and is homeless.

If you have read any of the columns by Steve Lopez, we are moved and inspired by his compassion.  As we are in the film.  But for a film, many people expect a storyline that ends with a happy or bad ending.  An ending that will make us laugh, make us cry or make us grinning on our way out to the car.  I felt none of that.

As a viewer, first and foremost, I will say that I was entertained and enjoyed the film.  With that being said, it was a film that I was just content with the message but as a film, I was feeling more of “is this it?”

But for the Blu-ray release, there is an important message through this film and the Blu-ray and that is the problem of the homeless in Los Angeles.  How compassion has helped one man, how much it could help many people for those who donate their time.  A doctor, a dentist or someone with provides a service and willing to donate their time in helping the homeless.  And that compassionate side of me, enjoys “The Soloist” because of that message and what is featured on the special features is definitely is an eye-opener.

Needless to say, “The Soloist” is a moving and powerful film but it’s a film that falls short of greatness.   As a Blu-ray release, its no doubt a release that is going to entertain and open ones eyes to a major problem that exists nationwide but for a film with two stellar performances, the story of “The Soloist” is for the most part, average at best.

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