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

October 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” is a riveting action film that captures the thrill of MMA fighting, the thrill of competition and the heart of a fighter.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Lions Gate Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Warrior

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 140 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition. 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night Listening, English 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (on Blu-ray), SUBTITLES: English, English SDH,  Spanish

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2017


Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Screenplay by Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman

Story by Gavin O’Connor, Cliff Dorfman

Producer: Gavin O’Connor, Greg O’Connor

Executive Producer: Lisa Ellzey, John J. Kelly, David Mimran, Michael Paseornek, Jordan Schur

Co-Producer:  Josh Fagin, Jamie Marshall, Anthony Tambakis

Music by Mark Isham

Cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi

Edited by Sean Albertson, Matt Chesse, John Gilroy, Aaron Marshall

Casting by Randi Hiller

Production Design by Dan Leigh

Art Direction: James Donahue

Set Decoration by Ron von Blomberg

Costume Design by Abigail Murray


Starring:

Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon

Tom Hardy as Tommy Conlon

Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon

Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon

Frank Grillo as Frank Campana

Kevin Dunn as Principal Zito

Maximiliano Hernandez as Colt Boyd

Bryan Callen as Bryan Callen


An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovering alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path toward the title prize, his brother Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense winner-take-all battle of their lives.


From filmmaker Gavin O’Connor (“Tumbleweeds”, “Pride and Glory”, “The Accountant”) came his 2011 film “Warrior”.  And was written by O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman.

The film earned Nick Nolte (“Thin Red Line”, “48 Hrs.”, “Cape Fear”) an Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” and would jettison the acting career of Tom Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Revenant”) as a major presence in the movie industry.

“Warrior” stars Nolte and Hardy but also stars Joel Edgerton (“Black Mass”, “The Gift”, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”), Jennifer Morrison (“Once Upon a Time”, “House”, “Star Trek”), Frank Grillo (“The Grey”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “The Purge: Anarchy”), Kevin Dunn (“Transformers”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and many more.

The film begins with U.S. Marine Tommy Riordan (portrayed by Tom Hardy) visiting his father, Paddy Conlon (portrayed by Nick Nolte).  When Tommy sees his father, he offers him a bottle of alcohol and talks rudely to his father.  We learn that Paddy is a recovering alcoholic and as an alcoholic, he was quite abusive.  But now, he has returned to his Catholic faith and has been sober for quite awhile now.

But for Tommy, he has only contempt towards his father because he had to runaway with his mother, who was dying and was there through the hard and difficult times of having to clean and watch his mother die.  And he has not forgiven his father for the way he treated them.

Paddy tries to tell him that he’s a changed man, but Tommy has a hard time accepting it.

The day after, Tommy goes to a local gym where a professional MMA fighter named Pete “Mad Dog” Grimes (portrayed by Erik Apple) is giving a spar to a few of the gym trainees.  But Tommy signs a release that he wants a real fight against “Mad Dog” and if he gets hurt, letting the gym and Mad Dog that they are not liable for any damage he receives.  And when the match starts, in less than a minute, Tommy knocks out Mad Dog and those filming the fight have posted on YouTube, making Tommy a superstar on social media as the video has gone viral.

When he finds out that there is a MMA tournament called Sparta in which the winner will receive $500,000, he feels that he wants to do it, to help support the family of his friend who was killed in battle.  As the video goes viral, a soldier sees it and recognizes that Tommy was a person who saved his life and not only does Tommy become a social media sensation but he is branded a hero, despite there is nothing about him that can be found online.

While Tommy does not want a relationship with his father, he asks Paddy to be his trainer (as his father trained him to become a champion wrestler when he was younger).  Paddy looks at this as an opportunity to get close to his son, but Tommy wants nothing from him.  Just to keep the relationship as trainer/pupil.

The film then shifts to another person, Brendan Conlon (portrayed by Joel Edgerton).  Brendan is a high school physics teacher and a former UFC fighter.  He is married to Tess (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison) and have two daughters.  But because one of his daughter had open heart surgery, the medical bills have hurt the family that Brendan is having difficulties paying the mortgage.  And now he is months away from foreclosure, so he needs the money badly.

When he goes to make money in a MMA parking lot match, he wins but because his face is bruised and rumors are running through the school about his fight, the supervisor of the school district punishes Brendan by suspending him.

With no money to pay the bills, Brendan makes the decision, to get back into MMA full time and he goes to his buddy Frank Campana, who owns a gym and trains up-and-coming MMA fighters.  While Frank feels that Brendan is a bit older and its time for the younger fighters to shine, when Frank’s top prospect is injured during a run, Brendan asks Frank if he can take his place and fight in the Sparta tournament.  This would also be a way to make the money needed to pay for their mortgage.

But his wife Tess is scared of him fighting, especially that one of the top MMA fighters in the world, Russia’s Koba (portrayed by Kurt Angle) will be fighting in Sparta.  She thought Brendan would be fighting parking lot fights, not a major fight that could hurt him tremendously.

As Brendan is heading back home, he is met by Paddy and it is revealed that Paddy is his father and similar to Tommy, Brendan wants nothing to do with his father, because he was an abusive alcoholic.  Also, the fact that Paddy favored Tommy even more (because of his success in wrestling) and as Paddy tries to apologize, tells them he is sober and wants to see the kids, Brendan doesn’t want his father around.

And now both brothers will be entering the Sparta tournament.  Will any of them be victorious despite being the unknown underdogs?


VIDEO:

“Warrior” receives its first 4K Ultra HD release and is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition. The film is presented in 2160p (2:40:1 aspect ratio)

Picture quality is fantastic.  From capturing skin detail on closeups, capturing the scars, cuts and bruises of a competitor and for the most part, skin tones look natural, black levels are nice and deep and 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 (Category 2) Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio quality for “Warrior” is equally impressive. Featured in English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night English Listening and an English 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.   Featuring crystal clear dialogue, great use of surround channels for audience and large crowds in the audience of the Sparta arena and crystal clear music.  For the most part, a wonderful lossless soundtrack.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Warrior” comes with the following special features (on the Blu-ray Disc):

  • Full Contact: Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode – While watching the film, you can get access to special features of the filmmakers and the making of the film..
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with filmmakers and actor Joel Edgerton
  • Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life Documentary – (31:57) A documentary on the cast and crew in making “Warrior”.
  • The Diner: Deleted Scene (with optional commentary) – (3:02) A deleted scene with optional commentary with the filmmakers.
  • Cheap Shots: Gag Reel – (3:58) The gag reel for “Warrior”.
  • Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of the Fight – (11:49) How Director Gavin O’Connor used traditional storyboards as well as live action pre-visualization shots in preparation in creating the fight segments for the film.
  • Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy – (21:01) World-renowned MMA trainer Greg Jackson reunited with friend and actor Frank Grillo to discuss Mixed Martial Arts and their experiences on the film “Warrior”.
  • Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr. – (13:58) A featurette dedicated to Tapout co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. who was an asset to director Gavin O’Connor.  Mask passed away before the film was released in theaters.

EXTRAS:

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


When I first watched “Warrior” back in 2011, one can’t help but be inspired by the storyline of underdogs making it into the MMA industry and beating the top challengers to make it into the finals.

The film manages to capture the thrill of MMA but also capture the heart of competition but most of all having a storyline so riveting that you are instantly captivated by the two stories of a fractured family, two estranged brothers who have lived different lives, both with MMA talent and knowing that both are on a collision course of what if these two were to make it into the Sparta final.

Of course, there is nothing to spoil as the poster of “Warrior” already gives that away but what is interesting is to see one brother, Tommy, who has grown up under abuse, trying to raise his terminally ill mother and seeing her die.  Then going into the military to see his fellow brothers all die and he being the only one to live.

He is a man full of pent-up frustration, rage, hate and so much anger that his only solace in life is to help a family of his friend who was killed in battle.  As an MMA fighter, he is a man of pure brutality.  A man who hurts people with his hits.  A former wrestling champion, he is a man that is pure offense.

Meanwhile, his older brother Brendan is the opposite.  While he grew up in a home of abuse, unlike Tommy who ran away with his mother to escape abuse and take care of her, Brendan fell in love with a woman named Tess and stayed with her.  He fell in love, fought in the UFC, while also going to college to become a physics teacher.

But as an MMA fighter he is pure defense.  Using timing, using strategy and doing what he can to expose a fighter by using various locking moves to put them in pain.  He can punch and kick but it’s being smart and looking for any holes in the opponent’s strategy and waiting for the opportunity to strike.

As both actors Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are magnificent, a lot has to be said about Nick Nolte’s performance as Paddy Conlon, the father of both men who was an abusive alcoholic.  Hated by his children but yet reunited, as Paddy has found God and also has become sober.

For Tommy, seeing his father now clean and sober frustrates him for all the pain he put him and his mother through.  For Brendan, the same situation but unlike Tommy, lived with his girlfriend and not aware of the pain that Tommy went through.  Not aware of how his mother died and because he chose his girlfriend, Tommy held an anger towards his older brother for abandoning him and his mother.

The family is no doubt dysfunctional but it’s these relationships that add dimension to Warrior’s wonderful story.  Add in the action and the thrill of MMA and watching these brothers overcome major odds is no doubt thrilling.

Gavin O’Connor has no doubt crafted one of his finest films yet and the cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi was also on point and he managed to capture the thrill of the fight!

The film makes its debut in 4K Ultra HD and the film looks wonderful with closeups showing much more detail.  You can see the split in Brendan’s cut’s underneath his eyes or bruises around his face with clarity, that’s how much detail you get in watching a film in 4K.  The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music but the surround channels also do a great job of capturing the thrill of a fight with the audience screaming.  The soundtrack is quite immersive and alive during those moments.

The special features are located on the Blu-ray disc and features numerous featurettes that showcase the making of the film, those who contributed to the film and more!

Overall, Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” is a riveting action film that captures the thrill of MMA fighting, the thrill of competition and the heart of a fighter.  Recommended!

Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

ouat5th

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series currently on television, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-produced, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly. It’s that good! “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 ABC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season

TV SEASON AIR DATE: 2015-2016

DURATION: Episodes 89-111 (989 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: abc studios

RATED: TV PG LV

Release Date: August 16, 2016


Directed by Dean White, Ralph Hemecker, Ron Underwood, Romeo Tirone, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Eagle Egilsson, Billy Gierhart, Alrick Riley, Steve Pearlman, Jon Amiel

Written by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Jane Espenson, David H. Goodman, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Robert Hull, Kalinda Vazquez

Produced by Brian Wankum, Samantha Thomas, Kathy Gilroy, Christine Boyland, Robert Hull, Kalinda Vazquez

Co-Producer: Brian Wankum, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Daniel T. Thomsen, Felix hernandez, Jerome Schwartz

Executive Producer: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Steve Pearlman, Andrew Chambliss, David H. Goodman, Helga Ungurait

Co-Executive Producer: David H. Goodman, Liz Tigelaar, Jane Espenson, Kalinda Vazquez, Scott Nimerfro

Associate Producer: Stephen Judge

Supervising Producer: Lauren Gussis

Music by Mark Isham

Cinematography by Stephen Jackson

Edited by Geofrey Hildrew, Mark Goldman, Scot J. Kelly, Richad Glazerman, Joe Talbot Hall, Paul M. Mendoza, Kathryn Panian

Casting by Veronica Collins Rooney, Christina Conover

Production Design by Michael Joy, Steven Wolff

Art Direction by Cheryl Marion, Greg Venturi

Set Decoration by Mark Lane, Mike Warren

Costume Design by Eduardo Castro


Starring:

Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret Blanchard

Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan

Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills

Josh Dallas as David Nolan

Jared Gilmore as Henry Mills

Raphael Sbarge as Archie Hopper

Emilie de Ravin as Belle

Lee Arenberg as Grumpy

Robert Carlyle as Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltski

Meghan Ory as Ruby

Eion Bailey as August W. Booth

Beverly Elliott as Granny/Widow Lucas

Giancarlo Esposito as Sidney Glass

Anastasia Griffith as Kathryn Nolan

Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy

Colin O’Donoghue as Hook

Sean Maguire as Robin Hood

Lee Arenberg as Leroy

Rebecca Mader as Zelena

David-Paul Grove as Doc

Mike Coleman as Happy

Jeffrey Kaiser as Dopey

Barbara Hershey as Cora

Gabe Kouth as Sneezy

Michael Raymond-James as Neal Cassady

Jamie Chung as Mulan

Sarah Bolger as Princes Aurora

Greg Mendell as Ethan Embry

Liam Garrigan as King Arthur

Greg Germann as Hades

Amy Manson as Merida

Barbara Hershey as Cora

Olivia Steele Falconer as Violet


Darkness and Light. One conceals, the other reveals, but each is infinitely seductive. Prepare for the ultimate battle between these epic opposing forces in ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON. When the Savior becomes the “Dark Swan,” the lines between good and evil blur as Emma begins to relish the intoxicating taste of absolute power. Terrified she’ll succumb, Emma and Hook visit Camelot to find the one person who may be able to aid them: Merlin. Unfortunately, King Arthur proves treacherous, and when he joins forces with a vengeful Zelena, Emma and Hook’s hopes are shattered. Now Emma and her entire Storybrooke family must embark on a chilling descent to the Underworld of Hades, where they’ll try to rescue Hook from a fate worse than death… with “help” from Rumplestiltskin. But will any of them survive the journey? Treat yourself to all 23 riveting episodes of Season 5. Plus, indulge your senses with never-before-seen bonus features as you share the romance, relive the magic and unlock the secrets of ONCE UPON A TIME.


As Emma used her light magic to expel the darkness in order to protect the people she loves, including Regina, Emma sacrificed herself to tether her soul to the darkness, leaving a dagger which says “Emma Swan” behind.

In the fifth season of “Once Upon a Time”, Emma has been taken by the Darkness and her friends need to save her.  Meanwhile, Emma is slowly being consumed by the darkness, courtesy of a dark apparition of Rumplestiltskin.

But as Emma’s family and friends try to save her, they realize that they need one with true evil to save her and that is going to Zelena to make it happen.

Meanwhile, in Camelot, Arthur is determined to look for the other piece of Excalibur but how far will Arthur go to get it?

Meanwhile, more antagonists appear in season five as Cruella De Vil, Hades and Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde make their appearance, leading friends and former enemies to team up to take on the new threat.

All this and more in “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season”!

What is “Once Upon a Time” about?

From the creators of “Lost” and “Tron: Legacy” writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz comes a new fantasy-drama television series known as “Once Upon a Time”.

Originally conceived before Kitsis and Horowitz were involved with “Lost”, both men wanted to write a fairtytale and the exploration of other worlds. But with their work on “Lost”, the writers had the opportunity to learn from the process, and while having some allusions to “Lost”, the series also has allusions to well-known Disney films. But the goal for both writers was to take these characters that people are familiar with and to explore the character and get to learn more about them. But most importantly, not retelling the exact same story as what people may be familiar with from the original fairy tale.

With the 22-episode series debuting in October 2011 and a season finale in May of 2012, “Once Upon a Time” was the highest-rated TV drama for Adults 18-49 and was ABC’s biggest debut in five years. As well as being the highest rated non-sports program to air on Sunday nights.

The series has since become one of ABC’s strongest prime time drama series and with a sixth season set to air on ABC later this fall, “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” will be released on Blu-ray in August 2016.

The Original First Season….

“Once Upon a Time” is a series that takes place in the past via the fairy tale timeline and the present timeline.

In the present timeline, we are introduced to Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, “House M.D., “Star Trek”), a tough woman who works in bail bonds and is often busy that she lives alone. Her life changes when a young boy named Henry (portrayed by Jared Gilmore, “Mad Men”, “The Back-Up Plan”) arrives at her home and tells him that he is her son, that she put up for adoption ten years ago.

Emma is shocked because the adoption was supposed to be private and the boy would not be able to find her location, but Emma goes to bring Henry back home in a town known as Storybrooke.

Meanwhile, in the fairy tale time line, Prince Charming arrives to find Snow White dead. When he goes to kiss her on the lips, she is revived and the two are now engaged to be married.

During the day of their wedding, a pregnant Snow White (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin, “Walk the Line”, “A Single Man”) and Prince Charming (portrayed by Josh Dallas, “Thor”, “The Descent, Part 2”) celebrate the wonderful occasion with their friends. But to put a damper on the wedding, Snow White’s evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen (portrayed by Lana Parrilla, “Spiders”, “Boomtown”) wants to make sure that her daughter never has a happy ending and warns everyone that she has placed a curse on everyone and their lives will change forever as there will never be a happy ending.

Worried about their impending doom, there is one man who knows about magic that can give them information to defeat the curse… the imprisoned and vile man, Rumplestiltskin (portrayed by Robert Carlyle, “Trainspotting”, “The Full Monty”).

A man who can grant anything through magic, but to use his magic, the person must pay the price of something they cherish the most. Rumplestiltskin tells Snow White and Prince Charming that the person who can break the curse is their child.

As the curse that the Wicked Queen has cast, has now come to hit the kingdom, with magic, a portal was created for one person to escape and hopefully destroy the curse. Snow White gives birth to a baby named Emma and Prince Charming manages to take the baby to the portal before he is killed by the Evil Queen’s dark army.

In the present time, Henry tells Emma that everyone in Storybrooke is an actual character of the fairy tale and the fairy tale are true stories. Of course, Emma doesn’t believe any of it but tries to play along with what she thinks is Henry’ active imagination. But Henry insists that she has the power to eliminate the curse and the people of Storybrooke will finally remember their true identity.

She wonders why none of these people can leave town but is told that anyone who tries to leave is met with an accident.

When Emma returns Henry back to his home, we learn that his adoptive mother is the mayor of Storybrooke, Regina Mills, who happens to be The Evil Queen.

And Regina does all she can to keep Emma away from her son, but each time Emma wants to leave, Henry escapes from his home to be with Emma. And requests for her to stay at least for one week in Storybrooke and she will see how she can make things change.

In Season Five, so much has changed in Storyville.

Emma Swan is now in a romantic relationship with Captain Killin “Hook” Jones and together they try to take on the challenges that come their way.  Especially now that the two must deal with the threat of the Darkness.

Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin is causing more troubles for everyone, while his love Belle French is not sure she can stay with a man like him.

Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White) and husband David Nolan (Prince Charming) continue to assist their daughter Emma through her troubles but also keep a close eye on their grandson Henry.

Henry is a teenager, in love but also wondering about the concept of magic, especially his own powers.

As for the former antagonist, Regina Mills, she has found love with Robin Hood and with her love for her son and new flame, she has now become good and the evil queen in her is no more.  But her sister, the Wicked Witch of Oz, Zelena is still causing trouble.

But this time around, Emma Swan becomes the “Black Swan” and the threat of Emma being consumed by darkness has become a reality.  Can the group help her return back to normal?  And what events caused her to become evil?

Meanwhile, the evil Hades, the God of Death wants to be closer with Zelena, while Cruella De Vil and Dr. Jeckyll try to find ways to go in the world where the others are living.


VIDEO:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The picture quality for this series is fantastic. With its high production value, one expects a lot for this series and for an ABC drama series, one of the few that has been given a Blu-ray release.

Closeups are very good, showing excellent detail from skin pores to the grime on people’s faces. The location shots are breathtaking, especially during the fairytale sequences and costume design also showcase excellent detail. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and I didn’t see any problems with banding, especially during the scenes which featured a lot of orange or red.

Overall, picture quality for “Once Upon a Time” is fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. The series is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and music. While the series is center and front-channel driven, I did like how surround channels were used at times during the action sequences but primarily you hear the musical score through the surround channels. I wished it was bit more immersive when it comes to its lossless soundtrack but the dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Black Swan” with co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actress Jennifer Morrison.

DISC 2:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Birth” by executive producer/writer David H. Goodman, producer/writer Jerome Schwartz and actor Colin O’Donoghue.

DISC 5:

  • Tales from the Underworld: A Knight with Cruella – (4:19)  A short story featuring Cruell Deville.
  • Merida in Storybrooke – (8:00) Actress Amy Manson discusses playing the character of Merida.
  • The Fairest Bloopers of Them All – (5:55) Outtakes from the fifth season of “Once Upon a Time”.
  • Deleted Scenes – (23:53) Featuring a total of 18 deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Only You” with executive producers/writers David H. Goodman and Andrew Chambliss.
  • Once Celebrates One Hundred – (1:45) The crew celebrates their 100th episode.

EXTRAS:

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” comes with a slipcover and a special postcard.


Unique, captivating and wonderful… ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” continues to be a groundbreaking drama series on primetime television.

High production value, featuring talented writers that come from hit shows such as “LOST” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and utilizing fairy tale characters, the potential is pretty much unlimited of how far the writers can go.

And what adds to the efficacy of season two of “Once Upon a Time” is its talented ensemble cast, cinematography, set and costume design and overall direction.

With so many fairytale stories that have been created, the characters and the potential of new lands are quite endless.

Season five definitely has a theme which focuses on relationships.

Each and everyone has an background story of their past to show what made these characters what they are.

From Emma’s past before she worked in bail bonds, Regina and Zelena’s relationship when they were younger and how their Relationship became strained.  Captain Killian “Hook” also has a story about him and his brother.

The latest character to make an impact in season two on the side of good is the introduction of Merida, the female warrior who wants to take King Arthur down.  And you have the magical Merlin who tries to prevent anyone from obtaining Excalibur.

But we see these family, friends and former enemies working together for the greater good, considering there are new antagonists this time around.

And you also have a few returning characters, both good and bad for season five!

For the first half of the series, we see King Arthur, so corrupted by power in his quest for Excalibur that he doesn’t care of what it will take to get that power.

Then you have Emma who has become the Black Swan, and a darker side of the Emma we have never really seen before.

In the second half of season five, you have a new powerful threat named Hades, you have the return of Cruella De Vil, the cold Mr. Hyde and of course, the always bad (but sometimes good), Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin.

Another big plus is the about this series is its cinematography and location shots. From the beautiful location of shooting in the forest for action sequences to shooting in Vancouver for Storybrooke, you get a combination of beautiful location shots along with small town America. The fairytale storyline is what is most appealing because of its high production value, action sequences and costume design.

And last but not least, the writing of this show is phenomenal. I’m a big fan of Jane Espenson’s work but to also have a few of the writers, especially series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz of “LOST”, another series that I enjoyed immensely is a major plus. Both men had this vision prior to “Lost” and it’s great to see how this series has evolved overtime.  And also, surprising to see actors such as Jared Gilmore, who played the young Henry Mills, now a full-grown teenager and having a love interest.

The writing is captivating, amazingly well-done and definitely a lot of potential for exploration of other characters which can be utilized whenever. But with how season five ends, suffice to say, the antagonists will no doubt have an edge in season six.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is amazing while lossless soundtrack was crystal clear when it came to dialogue and music, I was hoping for it to be a bit more immersive in utilizing the surround channels and LFE a bit more during the more action-driven scenes. As for special features, you do get several audio commentary and a few featurettes.

Overall, “Once Upon a Time” is a fantastic sci-fi drama series. From quality production, costume design, the story, the characters and the performances by the actors, the series is always enjoyable to watch and the writers keep coming up with something fresh and cool, so the series doesn’t go through a lull of banal writing.

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series currently on television, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-produced, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly. It’s that good!

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fifth Season” is highly recommended!

Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

onceuponatime-s2-a

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series on television at this time, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly.   It’s that good! “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 ABC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season

TV SEASON AIR DATE: 2012-2013

DURATION: 946 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: abc studios

RATED: TV PG LSV

Release Date: August 13, 2013

Directed by Dean White, Ralph Hemecker, David Barrett, David Solomon, Milan Cheylov, Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Written by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Jane Espenson, David H. Goodman, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Robert Hull, Christine Boylan, Daniel T. Thomsen, Kalinda Vazquez

Produced by Samantha Thomas, Kathy Gilroy, Christine Boyland, Robert Hull, Kalinda Vazquez

Co-Producer: Brian Wankum, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Daniel T. Thomsen

Executive Producer: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Steve Pearlman

Co-Executive Producer: David H. Goodman, Liz Tigelaar

Associate Producer: Stephen Judge

Supervising Producer: Lauren Gussis

Music by Mark Isham

Cinematography by Stephen Jackson

Edited by Geofrey Hildrew, Mark Goldman, Scot J. Kelly, Richad Glazerman, Joe Talbot Hall

Casting by Veronica Collins

Production Design by Michael Joy

Art Direction by Cheryl Marion, Greg Venturi

Set Decoration by Mark Lane

Costume Design by Eduardo Castro

Starring:

Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret Blanchard

Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan

Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills

Josh Dallas as David Nolan

Jared Gilmore as Henry Mills

Raphael Sbarge as Archie Hopper

Emilie de Ravin as Belle

Lee Arenberg as Grumpy

Robert Carlyle as Mr. Gold

Meghan Ory as Ruby

Eion Bailey as August W. Booth

Beverly Elliott as Granny

Giancarlo Esposito as Sidney Glass

Anastasia Griffith as Kathryn Nolan

Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy

Colin O’Donoghue as Hook

David-Paul Grove as Doc

Mike Coleman as Happy

Jeffrey Kaiser as Dopey

Barbara Hershey as Cora

Gabe Kouth as Sneezy

Michael Raymond-James as Neal Cassady

Jamie Chung as Mulan

Sarah Bolger as Princes Aurora

Greg Mendell as Ethan Embry

Sonequa Martin-Green as Tamara

Relive every thrilling moment of the fairy tale-inspired series when “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” casts its tantalizing spell onto Blu-ray/DVD. The curse is broken, magic has arrived, and there’s no telling what – or who – will be unleashed! Now the exiled fairy tale characters must grapple with a flood of awakened memories as they come to grips with their new “reality.” Old loyalties will be tested, new heroes will emerge, and vengeful villains will wreak havoc. Amidst the backdrop of previously unexplored lands and a newly magical Storybrooke, love and sacrifice will set the stage for the ultimate battle between good and evil.

From Storybrooke to Fairy Tale Land and beyond, experience all the mystery, romance, action and adventure of the second season of “Once Upon a Time.” Featuring all 22 remarkable episodes and exclusive bonus features, this must-own, five-disc boxed set is pure enchantment on an epic scale.

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“Once Upon a Time” season one left viewers on the edge of their seats with a season finale which gave everyone of Storybrooke memories of their past.  Season two kicks off where the last season left off, as many are angered that Regina (the wicked witch), has made their lives quite horrible.

But as Regina was the key antagonist of the first season to protagonists Emma Swan, Snow and Prince Charming, new antagonists join season two.  And if you thought Regina was bad, wait until you see someone much more evil than her, her mother…Cora.

Watch as Emma and Snow with the help of Mulan and Princess Aurora try to escape the Enchanted Forest as they are being pursued by Cora and Hook, what happens when Mr. Gold cashes in on the deal he made with Emma and new antagonist are in store, and they want nothing more than to destroy Storybrooke.

All this in “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season”, now available on Blu-ray!

What is “Once Upon a Time” about?

From the creators of “Lost” and “Tron: Legacy” writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz comes a new fantasy-drama television series known as “Once Upon a Time”.

Originally conceived before Kitsis and Horowitz were involved with “Lost”, both men wanted to write a fairtytale and the exploration of other worlds. But with their work on “Lost”, the writers had the opportunity to learn from the process, and while having some allusions to “Lost”, the series also has allusions to well-known Disney films. But the goal for both writers was to take these characters that people are familiar with and to explore the character and get to learn more about them. But most importantly, not retelling the exact same story as what people may be familiar with from the original fairy tale.

With the 22-episode series debuting in October 2011 and a season finale in May of 2012, “Once Upon a Time” was the highest-rated TV drama for Adults 18-49 and was ABC’s biggest debut in five years. As well as being the highest rated non-sports program to air on Sunday nights.

With a third season set to air on ABC later this fall, “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” will be released on Blu-ray in August 2013.

“Once Upon a Time” is a series that takes place in the past via the fairy tale timeline and the present timeline.

In the present timeline, we are introduced to Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, “House M.D., “Star Trek”), a tough woman who works in bail bonds and is often busy that she lives alone. Her life changes when a young boy named Henry (portrayed by Jared Gilmore, “Mad Men”, “The Back-Up Plan”) arrives at her home and tells him that he is her son, that she put up for adoption ten years ago.

Emma is shocked because the adoption was supposed to be private and the boy would not be able to find her location, but Emma goes to bring Henry back home in a town known as Storybrooke.

Meanwhile, in the fairy tale time line, Prince Charming arrives to find Snow White dead. When he goes to kiss her on the lips, she is revived and the two are now engaged to be married.

During the day of their wedding, a pregnant Snow White (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin, “Walk the Line”, “A Single Man”) and Prince Charming (portrayed by Josh Dallas, “Thor”, “The Descent, Part 2”) celebrate the wonderful occasion with their friends. But to put a damper on the wedding, Snow White’s evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen (portrayed by Lana Parrilla, “Spiders”, “Boomtown”) wants to make sure that her daughter never has a happy ending and warns everyone that she has placed a curse on everyone and their lives will change forever as there will never be a happy ending.

Worried about their impending doom, there is one man who knows about magic that can give them information to defeat the curse… the imprisoned and vile man, Rumplestiltskin (portrayed by Robert Carlyle, “Trainspotting”, “The Full Monty”).

A man who can grant anything through magic, but to use his magic, the person must pay the price of something they cherish the most. Rumplestiltskin tells Snow White and Prince Charming that the person who can break the curse is their child.

As the curse that the Wicked Queen has cast, has now come to hit the kingdom, with magic, a portal was created for one person to escape and hopefully destroy the curse. Snow White gives birth to a baby named Emma and Prince Charming manages to take the baby to the portal before he is killed by the Evil Queen’s dark army.

In the present time, Henry tells Emma that everyone in Storybrooke is an actual character of the fairy tale and the fairy tale are true stories. Of course, Emma doesn’t believe any of it but tries to play along with what she thinks is Henry’ active imagination. But Henry insists that she has the power to eliminate the curse and the people of Storybrooke will finally remember their true identity.

She wonders why none of these people can leave town but is told that anyone who tries to leave is met with an accident.

When Emma returns Henry back to his home, we learn that his adoptive mother is the mayor of Storybrooke, Regina Mills, who happens to be The Evil Queen.

And Regina does all she can to keep Emma away from her son, but each time Emma wants to leave, Henry escapes from his home to be with Emma. And requests for her to stay at least for one week in Storybrooke and she will see how she can make things change.

And in the town of Storybrooke, Emma meets Henry’s school teacher (and the person who gave him the fairy tale book), Mary Margaret Blanchard (a.k.a. Snow White). Mary occasionally volunteers at the hospital where she reads to a man named David Nolan (a.k.a. Prince Charming), who is in a coma.

Henry is being treated by a psychologist named Archibald “Archie” Hopper (portrayed by Raphael Sbarge, a.k.a. Jiminy Cricket), the Sheriff in town is Sheriff Graham (portrayed by Jamie Dornan, a.k.a. The Huntsman) and meets more of Storybrooke’s residents including Mr. Gold (a.k.a. Rumplestiltskin), the only person in Storybrooke who is aware of what is real and has not lost his memory.

So, Emma making a promise to Henry decides to temporarily stay in Storybrooke for his sake. But Regina, will do all it takes to get Emma to leave and get her away from Henry.

In season two, with the memories of the people of Storybrooke having returned, Mary Margaret (Snow) and Charming are reunited and find out that Emma is their daughter and Henry is their grandson.  But for Emma, it’s not a happy reunion as she doesn’t understand why her mother would abandon her.

But both Emma and Mary Margaret will have a lot of mother and daughter time as they are stuck in the Enchanted Forest thanks to Regina and must find a portal back home.  But also stuck in the Enchanted Forest is Cora, the evil mother of Regina who has the power to destroy but mimic anyone she wants via magic.  Both Emma and Mary Margaret with the help of Mulan and Princess Aurora must find a new portal, not knowing that Cora is pursuing them, with the help of the infamous pirate, Hook.

Meanwhile, Henry wants to see the good of his mother, Regina, can she really change and show that she really loves him or will she remain an evil person?  Also, the people of Storybrooke learn that if they leave the city, indicated by a red line near their home, they will lose all memories.  But what happens when Mr. Gold needs to search for his son…in Manhattan?

And as the people of Storybrooke must deal with the threat of Cora and Dr. Hook, new antagonists threaten the people of Storybrooke.

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VIDEO:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The picture quality for this series is fantastic. With its high production value, one expects a lot for this series and for an ABC drama series, one of the few that has been given a Blu-ray release.

Closeups are very good, showing excellent detail from skin pores to the grime on people’s faces. The location shots are breathtaking, especially during the fairytale sequences and costume design also showcase excellent detail. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and I didn’t see any problems with banding, especially during the scenes which featured a lot of orange or red.

Overall, picture quality for “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Season” was fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. The series is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and music. While the series is center and front-channel driven, I did like how surround channels were used at times during the action sequences but primarily you hear the musical score through the surround channels. I wished it was bit more immersive when it comes to its lossless soundtrack but the dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Broken” by  actress Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas.

DISC 2:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Queen of Hearts” by co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actress Lana Parrilla.

DISC 3:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Manhattan” by co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actor Robert Carlyle.

DISC 4:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Miller’s Daughter” with writer Jane Espenson.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Welcome to Storybrooke” with writers Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss.

DISC 5:

  • Good Morning Storybrooke – (12:10) Featuring a comedy, faux news show about Storybrooke.
  • A Fractured Family Tree – (7:08) Narrated by Sarah Hyland of ABC’s “Modern Family”, the cast are interviewed about their character’s family tree.
  • Sincerely, Hook – (5:24) Actor Colin O’Donoghue talks about playing the character of Hook.
  • Girl Power – (13:05) Creating independent, strong female characters and interview with the female cast.
  • Fairest Bloopers of Them All – (3:13) Outtakes from “Once Upon a Time” season two.
  • Deleted Scenes – (10:33) A total of eight deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “And Straight On Til morning” with co-executive producer David H, Goodman and actor Colin O’Donoghue.

EXTRAS:

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” comes with a lenticular slipcover case.

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Unique, captivating and wonderful… ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” continues to be a groundbreaking drama series on primetime television.

High production value, featuring talented writers that come from hit shows such as “LOST” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and utilizing fairy tale characters, the potential is pretty much unlimited of how far the writers can go.

And what adds to the efficacy of season two of “Once Upon a Time” is its talented ensemble cast, cinematography, set and costume design and overall direction.

With so many fairytale stories that have been created, the characters and the potential of new lands are quite endless.

And for season two, the series begins with the Enchanted Forest and introduces characters such as Prince Phillip, Princess Aurora and Mulan.  An interesting love triangle between the two until they are confronted by a wraith which consumes Prince Phillip’s soul.  As Mulan promised to protect Princess Aurora, in the modern world, both Emma and her mother Mary Margaret (Snow White) are sent to the Enchanted Forest thanks to Regina who used the Mad Hatter’s Hat.

The first few episodes are quite intriguing as they introduce Cora, the evil mother of Regina and how her mother will do whatever it takes to leave the Enchanted Forest.  Meanwhile, we learn of how Snow and Charming were married and how Snow White was cursed.

The first half features the adventures of Emma and Mary Margaret going through various adventures in trying to find a portal in going back home, while Cora tries to find a magical compass in order to find a way to reunited with her daughter Regina.  And she teams up with the mischievous Captain Hook, with a goal to kill Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin).

As for the wicked witch, Regina, she is torn because she never wanted to be evil like her mother but we see through her flashback how she was driven to her current life.  But with her adopted son Henry wanting to see how she has changed and see the good within her, does Regina have any positive in her heart?  But what happens when she comes face-to-face with her mother?

Meanwhile, Mr. Gold cashes in on his deal with Emma and that is to find his son Baelfire who is living in New York.  Unfortunately, for most fairytale characters of Storybrooke, stepping outside of city limits will lead them to losing their memory.  But hopefully Mr. Gold has found a way to prevent that from happening.  But what happens when Emma finds out that Baelfire, is a person that she knows quite well.

And the final episodes feature two new antagonists that intend to cause problems for Storybrooke and destroy the town.

So, the second season never wanes in quality.  Production and set design, especially costume design are fantastic.  The writing for the characters continues to be magnificent and while “Once Upon a Time” has been compared to “LOST” because of its two timelines, “LOST” had its limitations as everyone was stuck on an island and writers could go only go so far with its ensemble cast. With “Once Upon a Time”, you’re dealing with the small town of Storybrooke, many characters that can be introduced with each episode, characters that can have an impact on another character’s modern and fairytale storyline.

As a viewer, you root for the underdogs, which are Emma, the main protagonist and young Henry. You are captivated by these two characters because Emma is strong, intelligent but she is also alone. And to have her son that she gave up for adoption wanting her, needing her and accompanying her, it’s rather touching. But then you have this sci-fi side to the story through the multiple adventures featuring Emma and family/friends.

The acting is magnificent. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas as Snow White and Prince Charming have wonderful chemistry and their scenes are quite demanding as they require a lot of action sequences, having them in many costumes and fighting evil anywhere in the forest or via green screen (or not) near rocky cliffs. The series also brings a new dynamic to these characters beyond what many of us have read or seen in a Disney film. Snow White is more authoritative, a go-getter not this character that loves to sing and play with birds. Her depiction in “Once Upon a Time” is fantastic, while Prince Charming is your banal swashbuckling hero.

But Ginnefer shows her emotional side as a woman who is reunited with her daughter and also having to deal with a daughter who is distant because she feel that she was abandoned.  But also how her birthday is a difficult day for her.  We also see the more emotional side for actress Jennifer Morrison.  Emma is still in action/adventure mode but there are more emotional scenes for season two.

Then you have Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills/Evil Queen. The actress is able to play the evil character wonderfully, with this scheming look on her face and evil grin. Casting was on the mark for this character and instead of being an older woman queen, the Evil Queen is given sex appeal and becomes one of the more interesting characters in the series.  But if you thought that Regina was bad, wait until you see Barbara Hershey as her mother, Cora.  Definitely a much more evil woman and fascinating antagonist for season two.

And Robert Carlyle, a man who is evil but also a mystery if he can be good or just a person that marches in the beat of his own drum and you don’t know whether or not you can trust him. His character of Rumpelstiltskin may seem a bit weak towards the beginning of the series but you begin to realize that this grimy imp is far from being weak, in fact, he may be the most powerful antagonist of the series but also an antagonist that can either aid the side of good and evil. Or neither, but himself. A character that you just don’t know what he will do and constantly surprises the viewer by his actions. Carlyle does an amazing job in playing this character, may it be the psychotic Rumpelstiltskin or the cool and calm Mr. Gold.

The latest character to make an impact in season two is Colin O’Donoghue as Hook.  A man who also goes by the beat of his own drum….antagonist/protagonist, suffice to say, he does cause significant problems for Emma and others.

And last, the supporting talent are well-done as well!

Another big plus is the cinematography and location shots. From the beautiful location of shooting in the forest for action sequences to shooting in Vancouver for Storybrooke, you get a combination of beautiful location shots along with small town America. The fairytale storyline is what is most appealing because of its high production value, action sequences and costume design.

And last but not least, the writing of this show is phenomenal. I’m a big fan of Jane Espenson’s work but to also have a few of the writers, especially series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz of “LOST”, another series that I enjoyed immensely is a major plus. Both men had this vision prior to “Lost” and it’s great to see this type of series on ABC.

The writing is captivating, amazingly well-done and definitely a lot of potential for exploration of other characters which can be utilized whenever. But with the way that season 1 has ended, it will be interesting to see how things go for season 2.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is amazing while lossless soundtrack was crystal clear when it came to dialogue and music, I was hoping for it to be a bit more immersive in utilizing the surround channels and LFE a bit more during the more action-driven scenes. As for special features, you do get several audio commentary included with season two.

Overall, “Once Upon a Time” has turned out to be a fantastic sci-fi drama series. So many positives can be said of the show and I can’t really think of any negatives. I loved season two as much as I loved season one and I’m looking forward to another thrilling season three.

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series on television at this time, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly.   It’s that good!

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” is highly recommended!

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

August 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series on television at this time, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over with its initial pilot episode to its thrilling season final.  It’s that good!  “Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 ABC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season

TV SEASON AIR DATE: 2011-2012

DURATION: 946 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: abc studios

RATED: TV PG LSV

Release Date: August 28, 2012

Directed by Dean White, Ralph Hemecker, Paul A. Edwards, David Solomon, Milan Cheylov

Written by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Jane Espenson, David H. Goodman, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Liz Tigelaar

Produced by Samantha Thomas, Kathy Gilroy

Co-Producer: Brian Wankum, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg

Executive Producer: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Steve Pearlman

Co-Executive Producer: David H. Goodman, Liz Tigelaar

Associate Producer: Stephen Judge

Consulting Producer: Jane Espenson

Music by Mark ISham

Cinematography by Stephen Jackson

Edited by Geofrey Hildrew, Mark Goldman, Scot J. Kelly

Casting by Veronica Collins

Production Design by Michael Joy

Art Direction by Kendelle Elliott, Cheryl Marion, Nigel Evans, Michael N. Wong

Set Decoration by Mark Lane

Costume Design by Eduardo Castro

Starring:

Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret Blanchard

Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan

Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills

Josh Dallas as David Nolan

Jared Gilmore as Henry Mills

Raphael Sbarge as Archie Hopper

Robert Carlyle as Mr. Gold

Meghan Ory as Ruby

Eion Bailey as August W. Booth

Beverly Elliott as Granny

Gabe Khouth as Mr. Clark

Jamie Dornan as Sheriff Graham

Lee Arenberg as Grump

Giancarlo Esposito as Sidney Glass

David-Paul Grove as Doc

Anastasia Griffith as Kathryn Nolan

Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy

Mike Coleman as Happy

Faustino Di Bauda as Sleepy

“Once Upon A Time” the Evil Queen cast an evil spell on an enchanted forest filled with fairytale characters. The curse trapped these characters in a place where all their happy endings were stolen – our world. Now the Evil Queen is acting as town mayor, and all of the inhabitants of the fairytale world of Storybrooke can’t seem to remember any details of their past lives. As the truth starts to unfold, the battle between good and evil begins.

From the creators of “Lost” and “Tron: Legacy” writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz comes a new fantasy-drama television series known as “Once Upon a Time”.

Originally conceived before Kitsis and Horowitz were involved with “Lost”, both men wanted to write a fairtytale and the exploration of other worlds. But with their work on “Lost”, the writers had the opportunity to learn from the process, and while having some allusions to “Lost”, the series also has allusions to well-known Disney films. But the goal for both writers was to take these characters that people are familiar with and to explore the character and get to learn more about them.  But most importantly, not retelling the exact same story as what people may be familiar with from the original fairy tale.

With the 22-episode series debuting in October 2011 and a season finale in May of 2012, “Once Upon a Time” was the highest-rated TV drama for Adults 18-49 and was ABC’s biggest debut in five years.  As well as being the highest rated non-sports program to air on Sunday nights.

With a second season set to air on ABC in September 2012, “Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season” will be released on Blu-ray in August 2012.

“Once Upon a Time” is a series that takes place in the past via the fairy tale timeline and the present timeline.

In the present timeline, we are introduced to Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, “House M.D., “Star Trek”), a tough woman who works in bail bonds and is often busy that she  lives alone.  Her life changes when a young boy named Henry (portrayed by Jared Gilmore, “Mad Men”, “The Back-Up Plan”) arrives at her home and tells him that he is her son, that she put up for adoption ten years ago.

Emma is shocked because the adoption was supposed to be private and the boy would not be able to find her location, but Emma goes to bring Henry back home in a town known as Storybrooke.

Meanwhile, in the fairy tale time line, Prince Charming arrives to find Snow White dead. When he goes to kiss her on the lips, she is revived and the two are now engaged to be married.

During the day of their wedding, a pregnant Snow White (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin, “Walk the Line”, “A Single Man”) and Prince Charming (portrayed by Josh Dallas, “Thor”, “The Descent, Part 2”)  celebrate the wonderful occasion with their friends.  But to put a damper on the wedding, Snow White’s evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen (portrayed by Lana Parrilla, “Spiders”, “Boomtown”) wants to make sure that her daughter never has a happy ending and warns everyone that she has placed a curse on everyone and their lives will change forever as there will never be a happy ending.

Worried about their impending doom, there is one man who knows about magic that can give them information to defeat the curse… the imprisoned and vile man, Rumplestiltskin (portrayed by Robert Carlyle, “Trainspotting”, “The Full Monty”).

A man who can grant anything through magic, but to use his magic, the person must pay the price of something they cherish the most.  Rumplestiltskin tells Snow White and Prince Charming that the person who can break the curse is their child.

As the curse that the Wicked Queen has cast, has now come to hit the kingdom, with magic, a portal was created for one person to escape and hopefully destroy the curse.  Snow White gives birth to a baby named Emma and Prince Charming manages to take the baby to the portal before he is killed by the Evil Queen’s dark army.

In the present time, Henry tells Emma that everyone in Storybrooke is an actual character of the fairy tale and the fairy tale are true stories.  Of course, Emma doesn’t believe any of it but tries to play along with what she thinks is Henry’ active imagination.  But Henry insists that she has the power to eliminate the curse and the people of Storybrooke will finally remember their true identity.

She wonders why none of these people can leave town but is told that anyone who tries to leave is met with an accident.

When Emma returns Henry back to his home, we learn that his adoptive mother is the mayor of Storybrooke, Regina Mills, who happens to be The Evil Queen.

And Regina does all she can to keep Emma away from her son, but each time Emma wants to leave, Henry escapes from his home to be with Emma.  And requests for her to stay at least for one week in Storybrooke and she will see how she can make things change.

And in the town of Storybrooke, Emma meets Henry’s school teacher (and the person who gave him the fairy tale book), Mary Margaret Blanchard (a.k.a. Snow White).  Mary occasionally volunteers at the hospital where she reads to a man named David Nolan (a.k.a. Prince Charming), who is in a coma.

Henry is being treated by a psychologist named Archibald “Archie” Hopper (portrayed by Raphael Sbarge, a.k.a. Jiminy Cricket), the Sheriff in town is Sheriff Graham (portrayed by Jamie Dornan, a.k.a. The Huntsman) and meets more of Storybrooke’s residents including Mr. Gold (a.k.a. Rumplestiltskin), the only person in Storybrooke who is aware of what is real and has not lost his memory.

So, Emma making a promise to Henry decides to temporarily stay in Storybrooke for his sake.  But Regina, will do all it takes to get Emma to leave and get her away from Henry.

Will Emma be able to believe in Henry and break the curse that surrounds Storybrooke?

VIDEO:

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  The picture quality for this series is fantastic.  With its high production value, one expects a lot for this series and for an ABC drama series, one of the few that has been given a Blu-ray release.

Closeups are very good, showing excellent detail from skin pores to the grime on people’s faces.  The location shots are breathtaking, especially during the fairytale sequences and costume design also showcase excellent detail.  Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and I didn’t see any problems with banding, especially during the scenes which featured a lot of orange or red.

Overall, picture quality for “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Season” was fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital.  The series is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and music.  While the series is center and front-channel driven, I did like how surround channels were used at times during the action sequences but primarily you hear the musical score through the surround channels.  I wished it was bit more immersive when it comes to its lossless soundtrack but the dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Piot” by co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
  • Once Upon a Time Orchestral Suite – (4:05) listen to the music of “Once Upon a Time”.

DISC 2:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “7:15 a.m.” with Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas.

DISC 3:

  • Audio Commentary  – Featuring audio commentary for “Skin Deep” with actor Robert Carlyle and writer Jane Espenson.

DISC 4:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Stable Boy” with co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz with actress Lana Parilla.

DISC 5:

  • Once Upon a Time: Origins – Josh Dallas narrates the exploration of the origins of fairy tales “Snow White”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “The Little Mermaid” and “Rumplestiltskin”.
  • Fairy Tales in the Modern World – (20:27) Learn of what inspired the drama series “Once Upon a Time” and what fairy tales the cast and crew remember the most.
  • Building Character – (7:20) Creation of new fairy tales and a look at the character of Emily.
  • Welcome to Storybrooke – (6:46) A visit to Stevestown near Vancouver, the location of Storybrooke.
  • The Story I Remember…Snow White – (4:29) How the cast remember “Snow White” and their interpretation and ideas of the fairy tale character.
  • Fairest Bloopers of Them All – (2:20) Outtakes from “Once Upon a Time”.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “A Land Without Magic” with co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actress Jennifer Morrison.
  • Deleted Scenes – (12:53) A total of nine deleted scenes.

EASTER EGGS:

  • Swordfight Scene – (1:47) Press Down on Episodes on Disc 5 and you will see the making of the swordfight scene from “Pilot”.
  • Cars of “Once Upon a Time” – (1:06) The vehicles featured in “Once Upon a Time.  Access by pressing up on “Episodes” on Disc 5.
  • Procession of Background Talent – (1:38) Press Down on Season Play on Disc 5 to see the background talents come into the set.

EXTRAS:

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season” comes with a slipcover case.

Unique, captivating and wonderful… ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” is a groundbreaking drama series on primetime television.

High production value, writers that come from hit shows such as “LOST” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and utilizing fairy tale characters, the potential is pretty much unlimited of how far the writers can go.

And what adds to the efficacy of the series is its talented ensemble cast, cinematography and overall direction.

Let’s begin with the storyline.  While “Once Upon a Time” has been compared to “LOST” because of its two timelines, “LOST” had its limitations as everyone was stuck on an island and writers could go only go so far with its ensemble cast.  With “Once Upon a Time”, you’re dealing with the small town of Storybrooke, many characters that can be introduced with each episode, characters that can have an impact on another character’s modern and fairytale storyline.

As a viewer, you root for the underdogs, which are Emma, the main protagonist and young Henry.  You are captivated by these two characters because Emma is strong, intelligent but she is also alone.  And to have her son that she gave up for adoption wanting her, needing her and accompanying her, it’s rather touching.  But then you have this sci-fi side to the story of Henry trying to convince his mother that everyone in Storybrooke is under a curse and are unable to remember their previous life.

And while the modern storyline focuses on Emma and Henry, getting a glimpse of the fairy tale storyline that surround Prince Charming, Snow White, Cinderella, Jiminy Cricket, the Huntsman, to name a few, we start to see a juxtaposition of the lives they lived and how things are going for them in today’s modern time.

The acting is magnificent.  Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas as Snow White and Prince Charming have wonderful chemistry and their scenes are quite demanding as they require a lot of action sequences, having them in many costumes and fighting evil anywhere in the forest or via greens creen (or not) near rocky cliffs.  The series also brings a new dynamic to these characters beyond what many of us have read or seen in a Disney film.  Snow White is more authoritative, a go-getter not this character that loves to sing and play with birds.  Her depiction in “Once Upon a Time” is fantastic, while Prince Charming is your banal swashbuckling hero but instead of being the driven-man, there is a storyline that revolves twins and one being killed, a moral dilemma which revolves around bloodline and commitment towards marriage and with so much story that goes into their fairytale and modern characters, Goodwin and Dallas have to deliver and they do!

Then you have Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills/Evil Queen.  The actress is able to play the evil character wonderfully, with this scheming look on her face and evil grin.  Casting was on the mark for this character and instead of being an older woman queen, the Evil Queen is given sex appeal and becomes one of the more interesting characters in the series.

And Robert Carlyle, a man who is evil but also a mystery if he can be good or just a person that marches in the beat of his own drum and you don’t know whether or not you can trust him.  His character of Rumpelstiltskin may seem a bit weak towards the beginning of the series but you begin to realize that this grimy imp is far from being weak, in fact, he may be the most powerful antagonist of the series but also an antagonist that can either aid the side of good and evil.  Or neither, but himself.  A character that you just don’t know what he will do and constantly surprises the viewer by his actions.  Carlyle does an amazing job in playing this character, may it be the psychotic Rumpelstiltskin or the cool and calm Mr. Gold.

Then we have Jennifer Morrison, your protagonist with a no-nonsense, strong Sarah Connor-type of attitude but deep inside, you see her character becoming more emotional as she starts to show her love for the son that she gave up.  I enjoy the character of Emma a lot and for the most part, it’s going to be interesting to see how things continue in season 2 with how things were left in the season finale.

The character performances in the series, especially with the supporting talent are well-done as well!

Another big plus is the cinematography and location shots.  From the beautiful location of shooting in the forest for action sequences to shooting in Vancouver for Storybrooke, you get a combination of beautiful location shots along with small town America.  The fairytale storyline is what is most appealing because of its high production value, action sequences and costume design.

And last but not least, the writing of this show is phenomenal.  I’m a big fan of Jane Espenson’s work but to also have a few of the writers, especially series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz of “LOST”, another series that I enjoyed immensely is a major plus.   Both men had this vision prior to “Lost” and it’s great to see this type of series on ABC.

The writing is captivating, amazingly well-done and definitely a lot of potential for exploration of other characters which can be utilized whenever. But with the way that season 1 has ended, it will be interesting to see how things go for season 2.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is amazing while lossless soundtrack was crystal clear when it came to dialogue and music, I was hoping for it to be a bit more immersive in utilizing the surround channels and LFE a bit more during the more action-driven scenes.   As for special features, you do get several audio commentary, featurettes including Easter eggs.

Overall, “Once Upon a Time” has turned out to be a fantastic sci-fi drama series.  So many positives can be said of the show and at this point of time, there are no negative things I have to say about it.   Granted, this is the first season and hopefully things get better for season 2.

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series on television at this time, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over with its initial pilot episode to its thrilling season final.  It’s that good!

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season” is highly recommended!

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