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Spider-Man: Homecoming (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Disc Review)

October 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” may not be featuring the Spider-Man that I grew up reading but I will say that “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was entertaining to the point that I watched it multiple times already because I really enjoyed watching the film.  The way I see it, if the “Spider-Man” trilogy or the next two films didn’t win you over, this movie may.  Wonderful story, loved the characters and this film was just a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Spider-Man: Homecoming

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 133 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition, 2:39:1 aspect ratio, English Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,  French, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Arabic, Cantonese,  Chinese, Dutch, French, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Spanish and Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2017


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

Directed by Jon Watts

Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers

Producer: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal

Executive Producer: Victoria Alonso, Avi Arad, Louis D’Esposito, Jeremy Latcham, Stan Lee, Matt Tolmach, Patricia Whitcher

Co-Producer:  Mitchell Bell, Eric Hauserman Carroll, Rachel O’Connor

Music by Michael Giacchino

Cinematography by Salvatore Totino

Edited by Debbie Berman, Dan Lebental

Casting by Sarah Finn

Production Design by Oliver Scholl

Set Decoration by Lauri Gaffin

Costume Design by Louise Frogley


Starring:

Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man

Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man

Marisa Tomei as May Parker

Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts

Zendaya as Michelle

Donald Glover as Aaron Davis

Jacob Batalon as Ned

Laura Harrier as Liz

Tony Revolori as Flash

Bokeem Woodbine as Herman Schultz/Shocker

Tyne Daly as Anne Marie Hoag

Garcelle Beauvais as Doris Toomes


A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.


It is well-known that there is friction between Marvel Studios (which is currently owned by Disney) and their Marvel’s deal with FOX which gave them ownership to the X-Men films (and formerly the “Fantastic Four” films) which prevents the interaction of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to co-exist.  But one big question that many have wondered is if one of the most iconic characters, Spider-Man, which the films are with Sony Pictures, would ever appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

And when it was announced that Sony Pictures, Marvel Studios and Disney would collaborate and allowed Spider-Man to be featured in a MCU film, not only was it unprecedented, fans applauded the studios of working together.

Spider-Man would be featured in “Captain America: Civil War” and now we have a new Spider-Man film which allows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and even Captain America to be featured in a Sony Pictures film, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.

The film begins not long after the Battle of New York (as featured in the first “Avengers” film).  Adrian Toomes (portrayed by Michael Keaton) owns a salvage company and is contracted to clean up the city of the destroyed alien Chitauri technology that have littered the streets of New York.

As Adrian sees the financial possibilities of obtaining this technology, the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.) and a partnership with Stark Industries and the U.S. government have come in to take over, upsetting Adrian because he hired a lot of helped and spent his own money for the operation.

Having lost the job, his men reveal that they still have some of the alien technology.

Fastforward eight years later (following the events that took place in “Captain America: Civil War”), Peter Parker went to help Tony Stark/Iron Man and when taken home, is told that if they need him, they will call. Meanwhile, Happy Hogan (portrayed by Jon Favreau) would be watching over him.

And while Peter lives a double life as an intelligent studying at the Midtown School of Science and Technology, he takes on thugs or helps people with issues around the city, growing bored and wanting to do something huge.  He lives with his Aunty May (portrayed by Marisa Tomei) and hangs out with his best friend Ned (portrayed by Jacob Batalon) and has a crush on Liz (portrayed by Laura Harrier).

Meanwhile, we see that Adrian Toomes and his men have utilized the technology to pull of major theft of alien technology and selling it to the highest bidder and becoming wealthy because of it.

One device made is a shocking device and the person utilizing the technology would be known as The Shocker, while Toomes has a vulture like apparatus that allows him to fly and use the machinery as a weapon.

One day, as Spider-Man is out patrolling, he discovers a group of thieves dressed up with Avengers masks trying to rob a bank near his home.  Spider-Man goes to stop them but is shocked that they have alien technology that can literally destroy buildings quickly and another that makes him utilizing magnetic technology.

When he goes back home and sneaks in, Peter is unaware that his friend Ned is in his room and now Ned knows his secret that Peter is Spider-Man.

And as Peter tries to keep his double life in check, he is wanting to know more about the people using the alien technology despite the warning he receives from Tony Stark that he must stay on the ground.  Will Peter’s pursuit of who is using the Chitauri put him in true danger, especially of the people who are close to him?


VIDEO:

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition ala 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio).

The film looks absolutely magnificent in 4K Ultra HD and Spider-Man’s outfit is vibrant, colors and visual effects look magnificent and with each passing year, I can’t help but be in awe of how these MCU films look better and better.

Videophiles will no doubt be happy with this release.

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 is equally impressive. Presented in English Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description.

The lossless audio is no doubt immersive considering the amount of action featured in this film.   Each shockblast, each web shot by Spider-Man, hearing the Vulture’s steel wings in action to the many numerous situations that involve explosions and weaponry, these sound effects for this film is truly marvelous.  Similar to the picture quality, for audio, lossless audio for this film is magnificent!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, French, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Spanish and Thai

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

  • The Spide Study Guide – Watch the film with informative pop-ups and hidden references.
  • Gag Reel – (2:17) Bloopers from “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – (16:17) Featuring ten deleted and extended scenes.
  • A Tangled Web – (6:12) Stan Lee and filmmakers discusses Spider-Man becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Searching for Spider-Man – (8:05) A featurette about Tom Holland and having him as Spider-Man.
  • Spidey Stunts – (5:48) A featurette about the stunts on “Spider-Man” and how when Tom Holland auditioned for the film, he was doing stunts and using his gymnastic/dance background in the film.
  • Aftermath – (4:48) A featurette about the expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe and incorporating storyline elements (featured in the “Avengers” film) to Spider-Man.
  • The Vulture Takes Flight – (6:02) A featurette about creating the antagonist, the Vulture on film.
  • Jon Watts: Head of the Class – (5:30) A featurette about hiring Jon Watts as the director of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and how he takes the character somewhere that has never been done for character on film.
  • Pros and Cons of Spider-Man – (3:28) Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon discussing the pros and cons of Spider-Man.
  • Rappin with Cap – (2:26) Featuring all four Captain America school films.
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

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


Growing up as a fan of “Spider-Man”, it has been interesting cinematic experiences.  From the Sam Raimi trilogy featuring actor Tobe Maguire in the 2000’s and the Marc Webb films starring Andrew Garfield in 2012 and 2014.  I was entertained by those films.

But with the Marvel Cinematic Universe establishing a well-oiled machine showcasing Marvel’s well-known characters interacting in each other’s films, one of the troubling situations was knowing that various superhero teams or superheroes featured from one studio, may not appear in the Disney/Marvel Studios films.

And when it was announced that Sony agreed to a collaboration for Spider-Man to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first with “Captain America: Civil War” and now with “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and I see this as a win-win, for the studios but also the fans who have seen the MCU and how these characters and films tie together as a major plus.

But with numerous Spider-Man films, how would “Spider-Man: Homecoming” do compared to the other films?

For one, there is no rehash of how Spider-Man became a hero, no Uncle Ben, no jocks vs. geeks storyline.  No Mary Jane Watson.  No Gwen Stacy.  In fact, no one knew what to expect from filmmaker Jon Watts (known for indie films, “Cop Car” and “Creative Control”), especially as the film had numerous writers such as Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Watts along with Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers.

And probably the unknown is what made this film so enjoyable for me.  We saw how Spider-Man was recruited by Tony Stark in “Captain America: Civil War”, but what happened after that film is what many wondered how “Spider-Man: Homecoming” would end up.

The film would kick off by creating a tie-in to the first “Avengers” film with showing how Adrian Toomes owning a salvage company, taking alien high-technology from the ravaged streets of New York and then being kicked to the curb by the government and Stark Industries.  But Toomes and company managed to keep some of that alien technology and eight years later, he and his crew would be able to create superpowered weaponry with the salvaged Chitauri technology and become an arms trafficker.

Meanwhile, Peter Parker who served with Iron Man and other Avengers would now be returned back home and would need to report to Happy Hogan, the former head of security of Stark Industries.  While wanting to be in major skirmishes like the Avengers, Peter Parker for now will be the neighborhood crime-fighting hero, even if it means walking elderly across the street or vandalism.

But meanwhile Peter is trying to balance school and uses his superhero front working with Stark Industries as a “student internship” and trying to enjoy his teenage life with his buddy Ned while enjoying the presence of his high school crush, Liz from afar.

But life changes for Peter when he discovers Toome and their crew trying to use Chitauri technology for crime and because of their deadly weapons, he was nearly killed until Tony Stark utilized one of his costumes to save Peter.  But Peter wanting to prove himself to Tony Stark pursues the criminals not realizing the full extent of the danger that awaits him but also how with great power comes great responsibility.

The major difference between this Peter Parker than other incarnations of Peter Parker is that this is a modern film.  The costume that Peter Parker wears utilizes technology from Stark Industries giving him a wide range of selections for combat and even has an assistant built in to the costume.  And part of the entertainment factor is seeing Parker learn what his costume is capable of.

Meanwhile, as for Peter, another key difference is that while he is often bullied by Flash, unlike the first trilogy and the comic books, Flash is not an athlete but a part of Peter’s decathlon team.  Modernized for today’s generation, I liked how the film portrayed Peter, Ned, Liz, Flash as smart, intelligent teens and showcasing geeks as “cool” unlike the past where the geeks were always tormented by the jocks.

The film mirrors today’s world society and one of the things that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done was to show diversity.  The film showcases a white teen who has a crush on an African American teen, her mother is married to a Caucasian man, the film features Peter Parker’s best friend Ned who happens to be a Filipino.

It may not mean a lot to some people but for those who have been wanting to see diversity, wanting to see situations that mirror real life and have wanted Hollywood to showcase diversity will definitely get that with “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.

The film looks absolutely fantastic on 4K Ultra HD and the lossless soundtrack is immersive and quite active thanks to the plethora of action sequences.  And you also get a numerous special features included as well.

Overall, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” may not be featuring the Spider-Man that I grew up reading but I will say that “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was entertaining to the point that I watched it multiple times already because I really enjoyed watching the film.  The way I see it, if the “Spider-Man” trilogy or the next two films didn’t win you over, this movie may.  Wonderful story, loved the characters and this film was just a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!

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

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

spotlight-a

“Spotlight” is a well-directed, well-written and wonderfully performed film that is deserving of every nomination and awards it has won. No doubt one of the best films of 2015! “Spotlight” on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of (C) 2015 Spotlight Film LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Spotlight

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 2 Hrs., 9 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Francais

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Some Language, Including Sexual References)

Release Date: February 2, 2016


Directed by Tom McCarthy

Written by Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy

Executive Producers: Michael Bederman, Bard Dorros, Jonathan King, Peter Lawson, Xavier Marchand, Pierre Omidyar, Tom Ortenberg, Josh Singer, Jeff Skoll

Co-producer: Kate Churchill, Youtchi von Lintel

Produced by Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar

Music by Howard Shore

Cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi

Edited by Tom McArdle

Casting by Kerry Barden, John Buchan, Jason Knight, Paul Schnee

Production Design by Stephen H. Carter

Art Direction by Michaela Cheyne

Set Decoration by Vanessa Knoll, Shane Vieau

Costume Design by Wendy Chuck


Starring:

Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes

Michael Keaton as Walter “Robby” Robinson

Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer

Liev Schreiver as Marty Baron

John Slattery as Ben Bradlee, Jr.

Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll

Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian

Elena Wohl as Barbara

Gene Amoroso as Steve Kurkjian

Doug Murray as Peter Canellos

Sharon McFarlane as Helen Donovan

Jamey Sheridan as Jim Sullivan


Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams lead a critically acclaimed cast in this gripping true story about the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that uncovered a scandal that rocked one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. Delving into allegations of child abuse within the local Catholic Archdiocese, a tenacious team of Boston Globe reporters exposes a decades-long cover-up that reaches the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment. “Brilliantly acted and flawlessly directed” (New York Post ) Spotlight is a powerful and riveting drama the critics are calling “the All the President’s Men of our time” (Los Angeles Times ).


It was the news scandal that rocked the world.

When The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team investigated cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in Boston by numerous Roman Catholic priests, the article which was unveiled in 2002, encouraged other victims to come forward with their allegations of abuse and would show a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-up of large dioceses across the United States.

As a good number Catholic bishops kept their crimes secret and were assigned to other parishes and continued to prey upon youth during unsupervised contact.

And the Boston Globe’s investigation was made into an expose for the film “Spotlight” directed by Tom Mitchell (“The Visitor”, “The Cobbler”, “Win Win”) and co-written by Mitchell and Josh Singer (“The Fifth Estate”, “Fringe”, “The West Wing”).

The film stars Mark Ruffalo (“The Avengers”, “Shutter Island”, “Now You See Me”), Michael Keaton (“Batman”, “Birdman”, “Batman Returns”), Rachel McAdams (“Midnight in Paris”, “Sherlock Holmes”, “Mean Girls”), Liev Schreiber (“Salt”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), John Slattery (“Mad Men”, “Iron Man”, “Flag of Our Fathers”), Brian d’Arcy James (“Game Change”, “Ghost Town”), Stanley Tucci (“The Hunger Games”, “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, “The Devil Wears Prada”), Elena Wohl (“The Invention of Lying”, “K2”), Gene Amoroso (“The Inventions of Lying”, “Mystic Pizza”) and Doug Murray (“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, “Man of the Year”).

The film received positive reviews and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Universal Home Entertainment.

“Spotlight” begins in 2001 with hiring of the new editor for the Boston Globe, Marty Barron (portrayed by Liev Schreiber).  During a meeting with the award winning Spotlight team led by Spotlight editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (portrayed by Michael Keaton), he and his team which includes Michael Rezendes (portrayed by Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (portrayed by Rachel McAdams) and several others.

The Spotlight team is known for writing investigative articles which takes months to research before publishing.  And instantly, Marty wants the team to look into a Globe article about lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (portrayed by Stanley Tucci), who says that Cardinal Law (the Archbishop of Boston) knew about priest John Geoghan sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him.

At first, many are hesitant to take on the story because of the power the Catholic Church has on the city of Boston.  But as the team starts to investigate John Geoghan, once they interview one of the victims, they start to learn that there was a pattern of sexual abuse of children by multiple Catholic priests in Massachusetts and how the abuse was covered-up by the Boston Archdiocese.

And from the research by the Spotlight team on one priest, leads to 13 and from that number up to 90 priests.  But what secrets will they uncover during their research?


VIDEO:

“Spotlight” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  Featuring wonderful detail close-up, vibrant visuals during outdoor scenes and great saturation, “Spotlight” looks great in HD.  No sign of banding or artifact issues at all.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Spotlight” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with English  SDH, Espanol and Francais subtitles.

Dialogue and musical scores are crystal clear and while a dialogue and musically driven soundtrack, the surround channels utilize the ambiance of Boston and outdoor sequences very well.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Spotlight” comes with the following special features:

  • Uncover the Truth: A Spotlight Team Roundtable – (6:33) The real Boston Globe “Spotlight” staff discuss the film and their story.
  • Spotlight: A Look Inside – (2:30) A short spotlight of the film with brief interviews.
  • The State of Journalism – (3:14) A short featurette about the evolution of journalism.

EXTRAS:

“Spotlight” comes with a DVD version of the film and an UltraViolet code.


The child abuse sex scandal involving a number of Boston priests was no doubt a shocking scandal.  It sickening for one priest to be involved but multiple dozen, up to 90 and possibly even more, the news was deeply sickening.  But the cover-up was so troublesome and unfortunate, that even I started to question Roman Catholicism and the only religion that I knew.

And it was probably one of the most blistering journalistic tasks to take on considering the magnitude of the scandal and I praise the Boston Globe Spotlight team for their diligence and perseverance of making sure they had as much information, interviewed so many people and really doing a thorough job for their research for their articles.  But most importantly, hopefully gaining some closure for the victims who have been silent for so long.

Fast forward to 2015 and here we are with a biopic on the Spotlight news crew from the Boston Globe and how these individuals took on the case, things endure during their investigation and also during the time of 9/11 but leading up to the publishing of the first article.

The storyline was gripping, each scene with meaning and every performance in sync.  Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci and others did a magnificent job.

But the film also unveiled surprises, from how the news crew learned of multiple offenders, discovering that even their own writers knew of the story earlier on but buried it, but also the difficult and challenges that these editors and their writers had to face.  Once again, the magnitude of this story sent shockwaves not just nationwide but globally.

And to have this film out, and even having the support of those in the Catholic Church, and it’s a much different tone compared to nearly 15-years-ago.  But with so many years that have gone by, even Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston commented how the film showed how newspaper reports prompted the church “to deal what was shameful and hidden”.

For the most part, Josh Singer did a magnificent job directing this film and along with Tom McCarthy, writing a screenplay that is captivating especially when viewers know that what people are seeing, are actual true accounts of what happened.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is magnificent.  Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and music driven but audio/musical score are crystal clear, while surround channels are used subtly for ambiance.

Overall, “Spotlight” is a well-directed, well-written and wonderfully performed film that is deserving of every nomination and awards it has won. No doubt one of the best films of 2015!

“Spotlight” on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

minions Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD+ Digital HD (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

minions

“minions” is a hilarious CG animated family film featuring the hilarious, cute and naive yellow creatures in their craziest adventure yet. The film will surely entertain fans of the “Despicable Me” films! Recommended.

Image courtesy of © 2014 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


FILM: minions Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD+ Digital HD

MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: 1 hr., 31 minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 DVS, Espanol, Francais Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Espanol and French

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Action and Rude Humor)

Release Date: December 8, 2015


Directed by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin

Written by Brian Lynch

Music by Heitor Pereira

Produced by Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri

Executive Producer: Chris Renaud

Associate Producer: Bret Hoffman, Robert Taylor

Edited by Claire Dodgson

Art Director: Olivier Adam


Voiced by:

Sandra Bullock as Scarlet Overkill

Jon Hamm as Herb Overkill

Michael Keaton as Walter Nelson

Allison Janney as Madge Nelson

Steve Coogan as Professor Flux/Tower Guard

Jennifer Saunders as The Queen

Geoffrey Rush as Narrator

Steve Carell as Young Gru

Pierre Coffin as The Minions

Katy Mixon as Tina

Michael Beattie as VNC Announcer/Walter Jr.

Hiroyuki Sanada as Sumo Villain

Dave Rosenbaum as Fabrice


The story of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions begins at the dawn of time. Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters—from T. rex to Napoleon—the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a deep depression. But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he—alongside teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob—ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. The trio embark upon a thrilling journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Academy Award®-winner Sandra Bullock), the world’s first-ever female super-villain. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in ‘mod’ London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation.


With the huge success of Illumination Entertainment’s “Despicable Me” CG animated film series, it was no surprise that a third film would be announced for release in 2017.

But  for 2015, Illumination Entertainment wanted to create a story of how the minions came to to work for the super-villain named Gru and so the prequel to “Despicable Me” titled “minions” was released and it shattered box office records.

The $74 million dollar film would go on to earn $1.157 billion worldwide making “minions” the 10th highest-grossing film of all time, the 2nd highest-grossing animated film of all time (behind Disney’s “Frozen” which earned $1.27 billion worldwide) and the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of all time.

And now, “minions” will be released on Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD+ Digital HD in Dec. 2015.

The film begins with introducing how the minions, yellow creatures have served history’s villains throughout time.  From the beasts of the sea, a T-Rex, a caveman, an Egyptian pharaoh, Dracula and Napoleon, somehow…the minions have accidentally killed their masters due to their own incompetence.

Without anyone to serve, all the minions came to start a new life in Antarctica, but in 1968, the minions slowly started becoming depressed about their situation and desperately want to serve someone evil.

So, a minion named Kevin plans to find a new evil master that everyone can serve.  So, he asks for two volunteers to join him on the search for a new evil master and chooses the guitar-obsessed Stuart and the over-enthusiastic Bob, who he chose because no one else volunteered.

As the group ends up in New York and watch television, they see a commercial for Villain-Con and how it will be held in Orlando.  So, the three minions take off to Orlando for Villain-Con in order to find a person they can serve.


VIDEO:

“minions” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  First let’s discuss the 2D version of the film, the film is absolutely colorful, the CG animation features absolutely wonderful detail.  While the minions, feature a rubber like surface, their denim is amazingly detailed and looks real. The clothing and even each room and accessory features wonderful detail, while wood and rock feature great detail and everything features amazing textures.  I’m quite impressed by how beautiful this film looks in 2D.  I didn’t notice any artifacts, banding issues at all.  The film looks magnificent in HD!

And as for the 3D version, “minions” features wonderful depth.  Moreso, when the trio arrive in New York City, the attempt to capture crown, or when the trio become popular and they run around the mansion.  But the depth is well-utilized throughout the film and for fans of 3D, will no doubt enjoy this version of “minions”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“minions” is presented in English Atmos Dolby TrueHD (7.1) and Dolby Digital 2.0 DVS, Espanol, Francais Dolby Digital 5.1.  “minions” is a film that features interesting use of audio as the surround channels feature the minions chanting and singing, while there are a few action sequences involving the minions trying to obtain the queen’s crown, and these action-driven moments utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH/Espanol/Francais.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“minions” comes with the following special features:

  • CroMinion – (4:25) A CG animated short featuring the minions taking care of a prehistoric baby.
  • Competition – (3:47) A CG animated short featuring a competition amongst the minions.
  • Blinky Nelson Unpacified – A CG animated short featuring Binky, who must retrieve his missing pacifier.
  • Deleted Scene – (:29) Featuring the deleted scene “Me, Myself and Stuart”.
  • Around the World Interactive Map – An interactive map which shows video and still images.
  • Behind the Goggles – The Illumination Story of the Minions – An interactive “headquarters” featuring the following featurettes: Writers (3:38) featuring writer Brian Lynch discussing the history of the minions; The Boss’ Office (4:48) Illumination Entertainment founder and producer Chris Meledandri; Art Dept. (3:32) Character designer Eric Guillon, Art Director Oliver Adam and writer Brian Lynch discuss the evolution of the minions.; Recording Studio (2:46) Composer Heitor Pereira, Producer Janet Healy, Illumination Entertainment founder and producer Chris Meledandri and directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin discuss the music for the movie.; The Break Room features a bulletin board.
  • Jingle Bells Minions Style – (1:52) The minions perform their favorite Christmas song.
  • The Secret Life of Pets – (2:33) A preview for “The Secret Life of Pets”.

EXTRAS:

“minions” comes with a lenticular slipcover and a digital HD code.  The Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD version of the film is also included.


As fans wait for the third “Despicable Me” film, there is no doubt that the prequel, “minions” is what many people wanted.

I have personally seen friends and co-workers because hardcore fans of “minions” with the toys or some sort “minion” related merchandise on their desks.  And while I won’t go so far to say that the franchise has reached “Hello Kitty” popularity of people wanting to collect and display their love for the creatures, the fact is that these minions are popular and audiences have responded as the box office has shattered box office records and earning more than both “Despicable Me” films.

And who can not love these colorful, yellow creatures who speak with a mix of different languages and you can’t help but laugh at their cuteness or their naivety.

But as far as the film’s concerned, it’s a fun tale of how three minions try to find a new master they can support and at first, they feel that Scarlet Overkill is the boss they are looking for.  And her first mission for them is to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Queen Elizabeth II of England.

Part of the film’s enjoyment is the humor and cuteness involving each of the three Minions, especially the teddy bear carrying Bob.  But of course, because of their naivety, these three minions get themselves in deep trouble.

While “Despicable Me” fans will enjoy the films for its plot, “minions” is more about crazy hijinks and often throughout the film, they are doing the chasing or others are chasing them.    It’s purely a family film that will entertain children by its number of slapstick gags and showing that a CG film can attract people without saying much of anything or whichever language the minions speak.

Kids love it!  And people, including adults who are buying into the popularity of minions and were out buying the Happy Meals for the toys or buying anything minions-related and repeatedly going to the “Despicable me Minion Mayhem” attraction at Universal Studios, dig the crazy antics, action and overall comedy that this animated film brings.

As for the Blu-ray release, this Blu-ray gives families a way to keep their children entertained.  If you have a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player and television, the kids can have fun watching the film.  If you don’t, then you have the Blu-ray release to entertain the family, a DVD that they can watch in the car or on a laptop and you also get an HD code which they can watch on Vudu, so they can view the film on a cell phone or tablet.

In addition, there are a few special features that will entertain the children and minion fans, including three short animated films.

And the picture quality of the film is colorful, full of detail in HD and really good use of lossless audio that utilizes the surround channels during the more action-intensive scenes.  So, parents and children will no doubt enjoy what “minions” on Blu-ray will bring.

There is no doubt that this film serves as a film to boost the popularity of the minions and many will see it as a big-budget marketing ploy, while others will find “minions” as a animated film that fans of the “Despicable Me” films have wanted and that is more minions!

“minions” is a hilarious CG animated family film featuring the hilarious, cute and naive yellow creatures in their craziest adventure yet.   The film will surely entertain fans of the “Despicable Me” films!

Recommended.

Need For Speed (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

needforspeed

“Need For Speed” is a film that doesn’t break any new ground. It’s a simple plot of revenge and the elements of the video game of coming in first, beating your rival and avoiding police are a big part of the film. But with that being said, the film probably does a disservice by making viewers think that high speed racing is so cool but there are repercussions for those who take part in this dangerous hobby that can actually hurt and kill someone. But while you have one side who will detest this film because of that, there are those who simply love fast cars, love the video games and love racing and this is who this film was made for. So, if you are the latter and want to experience a race film that looks and sounds incredible on Blu-ray, then “Need For Speed” is recommended for you!

Image courtesy of © 2014 Dreamworks Distribution. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Need For Speed

YEAR OF FILM: 2014

DURATION: 131 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:39:1 aspect ratio, English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: DreamWorks Pictures/Touchstone Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2014

Directed by Scott Waugh

Screenplay by George Gatins

Story by George Gatins and John Gatins

Produced by John Gatins, Patrick O’Brien, Mark Sourian

Executive Producer: Stuart M. Besser, Frank Gibeau, Tim Moore, Scott Waugh

Music by Nathan Furst

Cinematography by Shane Hurlbut

Edited by Paul Rubell, Scott Waugh

Casting by Ronna Kress

Production Design by Jon hutman

Art Direction by Christopher R. DeMuri

Costume Design by Ellen Mirojnick

Starring:

Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall

Dominic Cooper as Dino Brewster

Imogen Poots as Julia Maddon

Scott Mescudi as Benny

Rami Malek as Finn

Ramon Rodriguez as Joe Peck

Harrison Gilbertson as Little Pete

Dakota Johnson as Anita

Stevie Ray Dallimore as Bill Ingram

Michael Keaton as Monarch

Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, DreamWorks Pictures’ Need for Speed captures the thrills of the game in a real-world setting. An exciting return to the great car-culture films of the 1960s and ‘70s, when authenticity brought a new level of intensity to the action, Need for Speed taps into what makes the American myth of the open road so enticing.

The story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country race against time — one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption. In a last attempt to save his struggling garage, blue-collar mechanic Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) — who with his team skillfully builds and races muscle cars on the side — reluctantly partners with wealthy, arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Just as a major sale to a car broker Julia Bonet (Imogen Poot) looks like it will save the business, a disastrous, unsanctioned race results in Dino framing Tobey for manslaughter.

Two years later and fresh out of prison, Tobey is set on revenge with plans to take down Dino in the high-stakes De Leon race — the Super Bowl of underground racing. To get there in time, Tobey must run a high-octane, action-packed gauntlet, dodging cops coast-to-coast and dealing with fallout from a dangerous bounty Dino put on his car. With his loyal crew and the surprisingly resourceful Julia as allies, Tobey defies odds at every turn and proves that even in the flashy world of exotic supercars, the underdog can still finish first.

From the filmmaker responsible for the war film “Acts of Valor” comes “Need for Speed”, a film that is based on the popular EA video game racing series.

For anyone who has played the video games, the games are all about racing and taking first place but also having to deal with the police who are often chasing after you.  And those elements are included in the film which did fantastic in the box office.

The film would star Aaron Paul (“Mission: Impossible III”, “Breaking Bad”, “The Last House on the Left”), Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger”, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”), Imogen Poots (“That Awkward Moment”, “V for Vendetta”, “28 Weeks”), music star Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Ramon Rodriguez (“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, “The Taking of Pelham 123”, “Battle Los Angeles”), Dakota Johnson (“The Social Network”, “21 Jump Street”), Rami Malek, Harrison Gilbertson and Michael Keaton (“Batman”, “Beetlejuice”, “Night Shift”, “Jackie Brown”).

The $66 million film would go on to make over $203 million worldwide and now “Need For Speed” will be released on Blu-ray.

“Need For Speed” revolves around Tobey Marshall (portrayed by Aaron Paul), a former race car driver who now operates an auto garage and tuning performance cars with his friends.  The group which include Tobey, their pilot Benny “Maverick” (portrayed by Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi), mechanics Joe Peck (portrayed by Ramon Rodriguez) and Finn (portrayed by Rami Malek) and Little Pete Coleman (portrayed by Harrison Gilbertson).

While the group likes to race at night and love testing out their vehicles, right before a race, his ex-girlfriend and Pete’s older sister  Anita (portrayed by Dakota Johnson) is visiting town with her boyfriend, Dino Brewster (portrayed by Dominic Cooper), an entrepreneur and former racer, but also Tobey’s longtime rival.

After Tobey wins the race, Tobey is offered a business deal from Dino that if he can restore a rare Ford Shelby Mustang, he will get 25% of the car’s estimated selling price of $2 million.

Despite his crew warning him to do business with his enemy, knowing that the garage is hurting for money, Tobey agrees.

The car eventually sells for $2.7 million after Tobey shows the car can go over 230 mph.  The car is sold to exotic car dealer Julia Maddon (portrayed by Imogen Poots) and after the sale, after Pete brags to Dino about how Tobey can easily beat him in the race, Dino proposes a bet.  Using one of his uncle’s three Koenigsegg Agera R’s and racing over Interstate 684, if Dino loses, he will win the entire Mustang deal.  If Tobey loses, he will give up his 25%.

Tobey agrees and the three race.  As Tobey is about to win the race, Dino clips Pete’s car and Pete’s car flips over the overpass.  Distraught, Tobey stops the car to check on his friend and runs towards the wreckage, while Dino doesn’t stop and continues the race and wins the bet.

Tobey is arrested by police and Dino claims that his uncle’s two Koenigsegg Agera R’s were stolen.  Tobey tries to tell the authorities that he and Pete were racing Dino but with no witness to a third car and no proof there was a third Koenigsegg Agera R, Tobey goes to prison for two years for involuntary manslaughter and loses his garage.

Fastforward two years later and Tobey assembles his group of friends and wants revenge on Dino Brewster by racing him in the dangerous race known as the De Leon organized by DJ Monarch (portrayed by Michael Keaton).

Desperate for a car, as the group needs to reach San Francisco in two days, he calls up Julia Maddon to borrow the Ford Shelby Mustang, the crew plan their trip to San Francisco.  But unaware that Dino has put a bounty on Tobey and will do anything to prevent him from racing in the De Leon.

Will Tobey get to the race in time?  And will he get his revenge on his rival Dino Brewster?

VIDEO:

“Need for Speed” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio).  Picture quality for the film is absolutely fantastic as colors are vibrant, reds pop, black levels are nice and deep, skin tones are natural with closeups featuring excellent detail, the cars look so fantastic in HD and I saw no problems with artifacts, banding or any negative issues.

“Need For Speed” looks absolutely fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Need For Speed” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HDMA and English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks.

The film sounds absolutely awesome thanks to the immersive soundtrack.  If there was one thing that director Scott Waugh wanted is that people feel that they were in the car, so sound engineers utilized the 7.1 lossless soundtrack to make you hear the car engine, tires screeching, cars hitting each other and literally hearing and feeling the cars around you.

Because the amount of car action featured in the film, the lossless soundtrack is active with all channels being utilized and also fantastic LFE.  Definitely one of the best lossless soundracks on Blu-ray that I have listened to in 2014!

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Need for Speed” comes with the following special features:

  • Capturing Speed: Making an Authentic Car Movie – (9:45) A featurette about making an authentic racing film and the cars utilized for the film.
  • Ties That Bind – (11:56) A featurette about the Mickey Gilbert and the Gilbert family who worked as stuntmen in the business1 and working on “Need For Speed”.
  • The Circus is in Town – (10:49) Working with the crew how it’s like a traveling circus and moving around the United States to film “Need For Speed”.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Scott Waugh and actor Aaron Paul.
  • Monarch and Maverick Outtakes – (1:35) Outtakes from the ad libs used by Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi and Michael Keaton.
  • Deleted Scenes – (5:06) Featuring four deleted scenes with intro by director Scott Waugh.
  • The Sound of Need for Speed (9:22) A featurette on capturing the sounds of the cars and making the audience feel that they are driving in the car, using 7.1 soundscape and also creating the music for the film.
  • Need for Speed Rivals Trailer – (1:25) Trailer for the “Need for Speed Rivals” video game.

EXTRAS:

“Need for Speed” comes with a slipcover and a Digital HD Digital Copy code.

For anyone who has played the “Need For Speed” video games or those who have an interest in street racing, will find Scott Waugh’s live action film to be exciting thanks to the decision to forego CG and use real cars, but also to utilize sound in which the viewer is immersed in the surroundings of the actual vehicle and race and making you feel you are right there.

It was a goal of Scott Waugh and crew to have people feel like you were in the vehicle but also to make sure the racing felt real and natural and watching this film, you can’t help but marvel at the cars featured but how much that went into the actual racing aspect of the film.

Yes, it’s based on the video game which was all about beating your rivals in a race and avoiding the police but the film was able to taking things up a notch by cool characters and the whole racing storyline bent on revenge but also the unexpected situations that are featured in the film.

The plot may not break new ground but what breaks new ground is how vehicles were utilized, the filming of the vehicles in the race and capturing the sounds from the vehicles.  It’s not easy to explain if you are not a car enthusiast but the sounds of the engine and the actual race are part of why I enjoyed the film.  And the fact that Scott Waugh and crew wanted to try something different in terms of how cars are utilized in a film is a major plus

Aaron Paul did a good job of playing the calm and collected protagonist, while Dominic Cooper did a good job of playing the jerk antagonist.  I also enjoyed Imogen Poots as the luxury car specialist who joins Paul’s character in the cross country drive to California.

But the film is far from perfect.  While filmmakers pushed to do something different and new with the vehicles, there are scenes that just don’t work well.  For example, Kid Cudi’s character, Maverick asking his guard to borrow an iPad while he’s locked up?  Like that is ever going to happen.   Maverick using a military helicopter to transport the Mustang also is farfetched.

But as I have enjoyed the video game series that the film is based on, there is no way I will promote or advocate street racing.  If you want to race, you can take your vehicle on the track, no need to endanger other lives by high speed racing.

I know that there are young people who may be inspired to emulate what they see on the big screen and I hope that people realize that there are repercussions for irresponsible driving, especially if someone is killed.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic, the 7.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is immersive and magnificent and you also get a good number of special features included.

Overall, “Need For Speed” is a film that doesn’t break any new ground.  It’s a simple plot of revenge and the elements of the video game of coming in first, beating your rival and avoiding police are a big part of the film.

But with that being said, the film probably does a disservice by making viewers think that high speed racing is so cool but there are repercussions for those who take part in this dangerous hobby that can actually hurt and kill someone.

But while you have one side who will detest this film because of that, there are those who simply love fast cars, love the video games and love racing and this is who this film was made for.  So, if you are the latter and want to experience a race film that looks and sounds incredible on Blu-ray, then “Need For Speed” is recommended for you!

Much Ado About Nothing (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Much Ado About Nothing” is a delightful, fun and entertaining comedy based on the William Shakepeare play.  Featuring an all-star cast and a magnificent performance by Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson!  If you are a fan of this film, it’s definitely worth upgrading to Blu-ray.

Images courtesy of © 1993 Renaissance Films, PLC and the Samuel Goldwyn Company. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Much Ado About Nothing

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1993

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen (1:85:1), English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

COMPANY: MGM/Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: PG-13 (Momentary Sensuality)

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Play by William Shakespeare

Screenplay by Kenneth Branagh

Produced by Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Evans, David Parfitt

Music by Patrick Doyle

Cinematography by Roger Lanser

Edited by Andrew Marcus

Casting by Pam Dixon

Production Design by Tim Harvey

Art Direction by Martin Childs

Costume Design by Phylis Dalton

Starring:

Richard Briers as Leonato

Kate Beckinsale as Hero

Imelda Staunton as Margaret

Jimmy Yuill as Friar Francis

Brian Blessed as Antonio

Andy Hockley as George Seacole

Chris Barnes as Francis Seacole

Conrad Nelson as Hugh Oatcake

Phillida Law as Ursula

Emma Thompson as Beatrice

Alex Lowe as Messenger

Denzel Washington as Don Pedro

Keanu Reeves as Don John

Richard Clifford as Conrade

Gerard Horan as Borachio

Robert Sean Leonard as Claudio

Kenneth Branagh as Benedick

Patrick Doyle as Balthazar

Michael Keaton as Verges

“Young lovers Hero and Claudio, soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick and Beatrice to wed as well.

William Shakespeare’s comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” has entertained many generations since its first earliest recorded performance back in 1612-1613.

In 1993, actor and director Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”, “Henry V”, “Hamlet”) took the story and created a film adaptation featuring an all star cast which includes Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton, Kate Beckinsale and many more.  The film made about $36 million worldwide and was one of the most financially successful Shakespeare films released.

The film was nominated for a “Palme d’Or” at the Cannes Film Festival and also “Best Motion Picture” for a Golden Globe.

“Much Ado About Nothing” takes place in Messina, Italy and Don Pedro of Aragon (played by Denzel Washington) and his nobleman have stopped an uprising and are planning to stop by in Messina.  Leonato (played by Richard Briers), the governor of Messina are thrilled with what the men have accomplished and have given the welcome to stay in Messina for a month.

Leonato’s niece Beatrice (played by Emma Thompson) is a sharp-tongue misandrist has history with Benedick (played by Kenneth Branagh) and both are literally oil and water.  An arrogant man, Benedick also has a sharp-tongue towards Beatrice and are constantly at each other’s throats.

Meanwhile, the young Claudio (played by Robert Sean Leonard) is in love with Hero (played by Kate Beckinsale), the only daughter of Governor Leonato.  And for Claudio, he is happy to be back in Messina, so both can finally marry.  Benedick tries to dissuade him from marriage, while Don Pedro supports it.

Eventually, Claudio and Hero, as well as Benedick and Beatrice grow closer in love and for Don John, the man (played by Keanu Reeves), the bastardly, illegitimate brother of Don Pedro who is dissatisfied with life can not take the happiness of others and secretly hates his brother Don Pedro.

So Don John will do all he can to destroy the happiness in town and that means, destroying the potential of any marriage between Claudio and Hero.

Together with Borachio and Conrade, the two come up with a plan to make Claudio think that Hero is not the woman he thinks she is.  The night before the wedding, they plan to have one of the men be with another woman and while Claudio and Don Pedro are nearby, the men who is with another woman will pretend it is Hero and call out her name.

Needless to say, Don John successfully makes Claudio believe that Hero is unfaithful, so on the day of the wedding, Claudio condemns Hero and because of her unfaithfulness, the penalty in the village is death. Hero tries to plead that she was with no man, but both Claudio including Don Pedro insist they saw her with a man with their own eyes and she deserves punishment.

So, as Hero is condemned to death, and for this…Beatrice wants to kill Claudio but Benedick will not allow it.  Beatrice asks of him, if they are truly in love, that he will fight Claudio in Hero’s good name.

And according to the villages rules, apparently Hero has been punished and killed.  But what will happen when the truth comes out that Hero was innocent and someone known to them is the true mastermind of this unhappiness?

VIDEO:

“Much Ado About Nothing” is presented in 1080p (widescreen 1:85:1).  Similar to recent catalog releases from MGM/Twentieth Century Fox, I do believe that this Blu-ray release is based on a HD master which was created for DVD.  There are times where this film looks of its age and some areas where it looks very good (where you can see the detail on the clothing and surroundings) and at times where it looks like an old film with a lot of noise.

The film also has its share of dust and speckles and for the most part, while “Much Ado About Nothing” is a step up from its original DVD counterpart, the picture quality is a little better but this is one release where PQ is not so consistent and it’s a shame because the film utilizes beautiful set and costume design and felt the PQ could have looked much better. Especially since there are so many outdoor sequences and closeups, you would hope to expect much more in HD.  But for fans of the film, it is a step up from DVD, it’s just not a huge step.  It’s average.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Much Ado About Nothing” is presented in English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround and French Dolby Surround.  As one would expect from a Shakespearean film in prose, you want the dialogue to be clear and understandable and fortunately because of the lossless soundtrack, every spoken word is crystal clear. I didn’t notice any ambiance, considering there were many outdoor shots but for the most part, for a Shakespeare film, the soundtrack was appropriate.

As dialogue is important, so is music and music does play a  big part in this film especially the talent who sing in this film which include Patrick Doyle singing “Sigh No More Ladies” and “Pardon, Goddess of the Night”.  The music is beautiful and comes out quite clearly through the front-channels as well.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Much Ado About Nothing” comes with the following special features:

  • Making Ado About Nothing(6:05) The making of Much Ado About Nothing featured in standard definition.  Director Kenneth Branagh and the cast talk about their character and being a part of a film based on a Shakespearean play.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:25) Featuring the original theatrical trailer to “Much Ado About Nothing”.

When it comes to films that are adaptations of William Shakespeare’s work, needless to say, there are people who will watch them and enjoy them, while Shakespeare may not be too accessible for a lot of people and they stay away from it.

When “Much Ado About Nothing” was released in theaters, while it did make $36 million in box offices worldwide and it was considered a positive for box office returns for a Shakespeare film adaptation, there are those who loved it and those who were not really into it.  In fact, the casting of Keanu Reeves of Don John and Michael Keaton as Dogberry was not well-received.

For me, I enjoyed “Much Ado About Nothing” for the sake that the film was able to capture the story and the characters quite well.  Including the emotional moments and the humor.  But I do agree, there were some actors that I did feel were miscast and while it didn’t ruin my appreciation for the film, it helps when you have talent such as Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson doing a wonderful job.  They never miss a beat with their characters and their continuous dialogue was well-performed.

While I do have “Much Ado About Nothing” sitting on my bookshelf, I have not read a lot of my Shakespeare books in full (I played Hamlet in High School and read three plays but that’s about it), so I can’t discuss how much was left out.  So, I felt the pacing was missing something, when it came to the villainous Don John.  His plan succeeded but then he disappears until the final moment in the film?  Was that how it was supposed to be?

Granted, the film does focus on the anguish of Claudio but it made me wonder how Don Pedro had felt by condemning an innocent young woman.  Denzel Washington is a fine actor but I often felt that the moments of regret, weren’t felt with his character at all. And I do agree, that Keanu Reeves was miscast for the role.  Bare in mind, this is before Reeves was in the “Matrix” films and “Much Ado About Nothing” came out two years after his film “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey”.

But I did feel that “Much Ado About Nothing” was a delightful and enjoyable film.  The set design including the costume design was magnificent and for the most part, as much as this film does have an all-star cast, the film builds upon the performance of Branagh and Thompson and both did a remarkable job.

As for the Blu-ray release, unfortunately, it’s an average release.  Nothing new added in terms of special features and the picture quality, while a step-up from DVD has its share of problems as it does have quite a bit of dust and speckles throughout the film and possibly the original film’s elements were not in the best shape for some scenes as the film looks as if it had aged a bit.  But I do know that there are some scenes that do look magnificent and for the most part, I am confident that fans of the film will probably be happy with the film now being released in HD and much it being much better than its DVD counterpart.

Overall, “Much Ado About Nothing” is a William Shakespeare comedy that has entertained generation after generation for over 400-years.  There are those who will watch this and enjoy it and there are those who probably will read the name “Shakespeare” and plan to stay clear of it.

But if you are open to Shakespeare film adaptations, I do feel that the film was tastefully done but it does have its problems and even miscast for a few talent.  But in the end, I found “Much Ado About Nothing” to be quite fun and delightful and worth checking out.

The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hilarious!  When you have writer/director Adam McKay and Will Ferrell collaborating with each other, you know you’re in for a good time.  “The Other Guys” kept me laughing from beginning to end and now I’m hoping for a sequel!  If you enjoyed “Anchorman” or “Taladega Nights”, you’ll love “The Other Guys”!

Images courtesy of © 2010 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010

DURATION: 107 Minutes (Theatrical Edition), 116 Minutes (Unrated Edition)

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

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: RATED PG-13 (For Crude and Sexual Content Language, Violence and Some Drug Material)

Release Date: December 14, 2010

Directed by Adam McKay

Written by Adam McKay and Chris Henchy

Produced by Patrick Crowley, Jimmy Miller

Executive Producer: Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, David B. Householter, Adam McKay, Rizelle Mendoza, Kevin J. Messick

Co-Producer: Joshua Church, Jessica Elbaum

Music by Jon Brion

Cinematography by Oliver Wood

Edited by Brent White

Casting by Jennifer Euston, Allison Jones

Production Design by Clayton Hartley

Art Direction by Jim Gloster

Set Decoration by George DeTitta Jr.

Costume Design by Carol Ramsey

Starring:

Will Ferrell as Allen Gamble

Mark Wahlberg as Terry Hoitz

Michael Keaton as Captain Gene Mauch

Derek Jeter as himself

Samuel L. Jackson as P.K. Highsmith

Dwayne Johnson as Christopher Danson

Eva Mendes as Dr. Sheila Gamble

Damon Wayans Jr. as Fosse

Rob Riggle as Martin

Steve Coogan as David Ershon

Misfit NYPD detectives Gamble and Hoitz (Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) are sentenced to life behind the desk. They hate each other and the monotony of their meaningless jobs, as they’re forced to live in the shadow of the two biggest and most badass cops on the force (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson). But when those guys go down for the count, opportunity knocks for Gamble and Hoitz. Stumbling onto what could be one of the biggest crimes in years, can The Other Guys step up their game to solve the case without killing each other and destroying NYC in the process? From the director of Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.


Crash and Burn! – Splat and Die

Crash and Burn! – The Gauntlet

Momentary Clip

Wasn’t That??? – An Odd Couple

Wasn’t That??? – Dr. Sheila Gamble

Trailer – Coming Soon

Hilarious, ridiculous but when it comes to Adam McKay and Will Ferrell films, you know what to expect….and that’s to laugh and see how ridiculous they will go!

In 2010, Will Ferrell and director/writer Adam McKay have teamed up again, after comedy hits such as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, “Taladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (and both having worked at “Saturday Night Live”) are back with a comedy titled “The Other Guys”.  The film is co-written with Chris Henchy (“Land of the Lost”, “Spin City”), featuring cinematographer Oliver Wood (“The Bourne Identity” films, “Face/Off”, “Fantastic Four”) and music by Jon Brion (“Step Brothers”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “Magnolia”).

The summer film took the #1 spot from “Inception” in the box office and brought in over $168 million and it helps that the film received nearly 80% of positive reviews from film critics.  If anything, if you want to spoof the buddy-cop film genre, “The Other Guys”delivers in insanity, gags and all out entertainment.  Now, “The Other Guys” receives its Blu-ray and DVD release on December 14th.  The Blu-ray release “The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition” features the original theatrical release and an unrated version with nine additional minutes.

“The Other Guys” revolves around two police officers, Detective Allen Gamble (played by Will Ferrell) and Detective Terry Hoitz (played by Mark Wahlberg).  For Allen, he is quite fine sitting behind his desk working on the precinct’s forensic accounting, while Terry just wants a chance to take on a big case and because of a botched job in which he accidentally shot New York Yankees baseball player Derek Jeter in game 7 of the World Series and eventually ending the Yankees world series hopes.  Since then, he has become a hated man in New York known as “The Yankee Clipper” and is relegated to doing office work.  To make things worse…he dislikes his partner Allen more than anything.

Allen is a guy who loves to play it safe.  Never has done any major police work but only forensic accounting and it sickens Terry who wants to be a cop and dealing with action like Danson and Highsmith, the most well-known police duo in New York City.

Detectives Christopher Danson (played by Dwayne Johnson) and Detective PK Highsmith (played by Samuel L. Jackson) are the hottest police duo in New York City.  Taking down criminals and despite the amount of destruction they cause in the city, they are well loved.

Most of the police officers would love the attention that Danson and Highsmith gets as the two men are so popular that the officers do their paperwork and for the sake of the precinct, they have to partake in handling all the women that they can.

But on one fatal day, as Detectives Danson and Highsmith were pursuing robbers.  For some reason, the two thought they could jump off a building and land on their feet and catch the criminals but instead, they killed themselves.

So, now “the other guys” in the precinct see this as an opportunity to be the next big thing in New York City.  And for Terry, he feels this is his chance for him and Allen to get away from their desk jobs and show they can take on major cases.

Meanwhile, multi-billionaire David Ershon (played by Steve Coogan) has lost $32 billion for a client, Lendl Global and now, to cover the losses, he has come up with a scheme to bulk someone of their money and funnel it back to those he owes money to.  But to make sure he does find a way to recoup the money, the corporation has put three of their highly trained agents to accompany Ershon wherever he goes.

Back at the precinct, Detectives Evan Martin (played by Ron Riggle) and Detective Fosse (played by Damon Wayans, Jr.) have now geared up to become the replacements of Danson and Highsmith and both constantly tease Allen and Terry.  So, bad that Martin and Fosse convince Allen that its a ritual to shoot your gun in the office (in which Allen does).  Because of the mistake, Captain Gene Mauch (played by Michael Keaton) has taken Allen’s gun away and gives him a wooden gun.

When the radio shows signs of trouble in New York, both detective groups try to get to the scene first.  Unfortunately, Terry’s anger gets the best of Allen and they arrive to the crime scene with Allen accidentally running over the deceased bodies.  Once again, both are relegated back to their desk doing office work which infuriates Terry.

Terry tries to find a way out of the office and convinces Allen that they need to go out and bust a man who hasn’t paid his scaffolding permit.  Sure enough, the man happens to be the multi-billionaire David Ershon who tells the two detectives to keep them away from the three people chasing after them.

Unfortunately, both Allen and Terry don’t get far as the three people get Ershon back but also taking their weapons, their shoes and Allen’s vehicle.  The two know that this will look bad to the Captain.  And sure enough, when they get back to the office, news of their blunder has hit the Internet and media and the two become the laughing stock of precinct.

As for Ershon, they find out that the leader of the three individuals who took their weapons, shoes and vehicle is there and that they are agents hired to work with Ershon and the police have to keep out of their work.  The Captain reinforces it to both Allen and Terry to not pursue Ershon any further.

But both Allen and Terry remember that Ershon told them to keep them away from him and believe that there is some major trouble going on and they need to uncover it.  And if they do, they will no longer be the laughing stock of the precinct and get the respect that they deserve.

So, these two very different individuals must work together, despite their differences.

It’s interesting to note that ICE-T is the narrator of the film, Eva Mendes plays the role of Dr. Sheila Ramos Gamble, the hot wife of Detective Allen Gamble who Allen calls plain, while Terry can’t understand how Allen attracts the hottest women.  Also, having cameos in the film are Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, Tracy Morgan and Anne Heche.

VIDEO:

“The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  As usual, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment gives us a wonderful picture quality featuring plenty of detail, dark blacks and wonderful colors.  First, let’s talk about the detail…impressive.  You’ll see the skin pores on Will Ferrell’s face, you will see how New York City’s detail is captured remarkably well in HD.  Even the dents, bullet holes and broken windshield…  Images are sharp, colors are vibrant and I detected no banding, artifacts or edge enhancement.  PQ for “The Other Guys” is awesome!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Also included is an English audio description track in Dolby Surround.

“The Other Guys” sounds absolutely awesome via lossless.  The film has its fair share of action sequences, car chases, explosions and plenty of cars crashing, gun shots, glass crashing and the sound effects sound great as it comes from the surround channels.  Action sequences, although numerous, the film tends to take its break from the action scenes while focusing on the comedic dialogue. Dialogue and music is clear through the center and front channels.  As for LFE, there is a good amount of bass bumping courtesy of the hip hop music soundtrack throughout the film.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition” comes with the following special features in High Definition in English Stereo with subtitles in English, Portuguese and Spanish:

  • “Pimps Don’t Cry” music video – (3:50) A Funny or Die music video with Eva Mendes with Cee-Lo Green.
  • Extreme Close Up – (5:17) Interviews on the set with the cast and director of “The Other Guys”extremely close up (literally).
  • Everyone Hates The DVD Guy – (4:47) The cast and crew showing their distaste towards  the DVD Guy (who is videotaping the crew during their off-time moments).
  • Lendl Global Commercial – (:36) A commercial for Lendl Global.
  • Bed Bath and Way Beyond – (4:06) Adam McKay talks about working with Michael Keaton.  Michael talks about the Bed, Bath and Beyond scene.
  • Play with Added Footage Marker – Featuring a marker that shows up to notify a user when there is an extended scene.
  • movieIQ – While watching the film, if your Blu-ray is connected to the Internet, you can pull up information on the film via movieIQ.
  • The “Mom”-mentary- Unrated Version – Featuring audio commentary for the unrated version by Sarah McKay (mother of director Adam McKay), Kay Ferrell (mother of Will Ferrell) and Pat Hench (mother of co-writer Chris Hench). The three talk about what they enjoyed about the film, what the talents remind them of and more.
  • The “Mom”-mentary – Featuring audio commentary for the original theatrical version by Sarah McKay (mother of director Adam McKay), Kay Ferrell (mother of Will Ferrell) and Pat Hench (mother of co-writer Chris Hench). The three talk about what they enjoyed about the film, what the talents remind them of and more.
  • Line-O-Rama – (8:56) Featuring the various improvisational scenes not used in the final cut of the film.
  • Gag Reel – (6:17) Featuring bloopers/outtakes from the film.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – (30:24) Featuring 18 deleted and extended scenes plus an alternated ending.
  • Flashforwards – (1:44) An extended scene of an older couple, Donald Trump, Paris Hilton and others various characters who’s lives were affected by the detectives (on the film).
  • Alternate Action – (2:41) Alternative action scenes feat. Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Wasn’t That??? – (15:00) Adam McKay talks about working with the cast, working with Derek Jeter and more.
  • Crash and Burn! – (10:06) The cast talk about working on an action comedy film.
  • Why Are There Brits In This Movie? – (6:41) Adam McKay talks about the casting of Steve Coogan and respecting the British actor who may not understand how to work in the U.S..  Steve Coogan talks about working with Director Adam McKay and McKay’s fascination with porn.
  • Rob Riggle Likes To Party – (2:32) Rob Riggle talks about his way of partying and the validity of verbal contracts.
  • We Shouldn’t Kiss Chicken – (1:16) Chris Hench talks about the rules of kissing chicken (attempted kissing) and who buckles first.
  • Mark Wahlberg’s Eating Contest Entourage – (3:33) Mark Wahlberg talks about working with “Nacho Libre”, the extreme eater and how they knew each other when they were kids.

EXTRAS:

“The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition” comes with a slip cover case and comes with a DVD/digital copy of the film.

If there is one thing I have learned with films with Will Ferrell, especially when he’s working with Adam McKay, if you love comedy, especially moronic comedy…just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I know there are some people who detest Ferrell films, as well as other SNL alumni-related films and they are not for everybody.  And as many of Will Ferrell’s films have had its up and downs in the box office, “The Other Guys” is one of those films that you can’t help but laugh, enjoy and just see how far these guys go with their insane story and improvisation.

There are so many buddy cop films out there, especially comedy and action-based films that have have made us laugh but “The Other Guys” is unlike any of those films.  It’s unique comedy style is driven by how different this film is.  For example, the main protagonists, Allan and Terry… these guys don’t get along.  Allen, who is somewhat of an uber-nerd and unlikely cop has only dated hot women and his wife (played by Eva Mendes) is hot!  And the two talk about their sexual nature as if it was no problem.  But yet Allan keeps saying how his wife is so plain.  And just seeing his partner Terry having his eyes fixated on Mendes’ breasts and when he goes to give her a kiss goodbye on the cheek, he tries to kiss her on the neck and that was so hilariously wrong, but it shows you the instability of Allan and Terry’s working relationship.

The fact that these two individuals are so different is what makes this comedy work.  Yes, films like “Bad Boys” have two protagonist who are different but yet they back each other up and hang out despite their differences.  With Allan and Terry, these guys are just so different and are literally oil and water, so seeing these two work together is just hilarious and fun.  Especially when you get to know their backstory.  The very quiet Allan, a former pimp?  The very angry Terry once learned ballet and art?  Unusual it may be, it works.

As for the Blu-ray release, “The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition” is a pretty solid Blu-ray release. Awesome PQ, very good AQ and over a 100 minutes of special features.

But it all comes down to your acceptance of these type of comedy films.  Will Ferrell excels at self-deprecating humor while Mark Wahlberg was probably the actor people aren’t used to seeing in comedy films.  Both are very different in the types of films they have done, but yet it works because in the film, they are different and despite their differences, they manage to work as a team. Personally, I want to see more of Detective Allen Gamble and Detective Terry Hoitz… As long as Director Adam McKay and Will Ferrell collaborate again, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel.

Overall, if you have enjoyed Adam McKay/Will Ferrell films like”Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and “Taladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”, you’ll love “The Other Guys: The Unrated Other Edition.

Toy Story 3: 4-Disc Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Magnificent!  “Toy Story 3” is everything you can ask for in a Blu-ray release… Perfection in every category…picture quality, audio quality and loaded with special features.  A five-star release!

Images courtesy of © Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Toy Story 3: Special Edition

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 DTS Master Audio, French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, English 2.0 DVS, Subtitles: English SDH, French & Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Pixar/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences)

RELEASE DATE: November 3, 2010

Directed by Lee Unkrich

Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Standton, Lee Unkrich

Screenplay by Michael Arndt

Executive Produced by John Lasseter

Produced by Darla K. Anderson

Music by Randy Newman

Casting by Natalie Lyon, Kevin Reher

Featuring the Voices of:

Tom Hanks as Woody

Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear

Joan Cusack as Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl

Ned Beatty as Lotso

Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head

Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head

Blake Clark as Slinky Dog

Wallace Shawn as Rex the Green Dinosaur

John Ratzenberger as Hamm the Piggy Bank

Annie Potts as Bo Peep

John Morris as Andy

Michael Keaton as Ken

Jodi Benson as Barbie

Emily Hahn as Bonnie

Laurie Metcalf as Andy’s Mom

Bud Luckey as Chuckles

Beatrice Miller as Molly

Javier Fernandez Pena as Spanish Buzz

Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants

Lori Alan as Bonnie’s Mom

Charlie Bright as Young Andy

Kristen Schaal as Trixie

Jeff Garlin as Buttercup

Bonnie Hunt as Dolly

Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch

Toy Story 3 marks Pixar veteran Lee Unkrich’s feature directorial debut and the return of Pixar’s favorite composer Randy Newman, with the addition of Academy Award®-winner Michael Arndt’s (Little Miss Sunshine) compelling original screenplay. Tom Hanks (Angels & Demons), Tim Allen (The Santa Clause), Joan Cusack (Confessions of a Shopaholic), John Ratzenberger (Up) and Don Rickles (Toy Story 2) reprise their roles as the voices of the iconic characters Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Hamm and Mr. Potato Head, respectively, and are joined by new characters voiced by Michael Keaton (Herbie Fully Loaded) as Barbie’s romantic foil Ken, Timothy Dalton (Hot Fuzz) as the thespian hedgehog Mr. Pricklepants, and Ned Beatty (Rudy) as the cuddly Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, among many others, as the toys face a new adventure as Andy prepares to go off to college.


“Toy Story”, the film that would earn animation company Pixar Animation Studios the reputation of being the finest animation studio in the world and would literally bring Walt Disney Studios to enter new generation of animated films created entirely in CGI but also would earn the love and praise not only from the critics but the fans who wanted more and more.

Released in 1995 and budgeted at $30 million, the first film would go on to make $351 million worldwide (and still making money with the recent Blu-ray release).

In November 1999, the sequel “Toy Story 2” was released in theaters and the $90 million dollar film like its predecessor did extremely well in the domestic and worldwide box office making over $485 million.

But it has been more than a decade since the release of a “Toy Story” film and 15 years since the first film, fans have been clamoring for a new “Toy Story” film and sure enough, Disney/Pixar released the third and final film of the trilogy, “Toy Story 3” in June 2010 and not only did it surpass the box office returns of the first two films combined, earning over 1 billion dollars, the second Disney film to earn over a billion after “Alice in Wonderland” (also released in 2010).

“Toy Story 3” literally shattered box office records and became the 5th highest grossing film of all time worldwide and the 9th highest grossing film in the US (and obviously the highest grossing film of 2010) and is an ultimate success for Disney/Pixar.

“Toy Story 3” begins with a young Andy playing with his toys in one of the adventures with Woody, Buzz, Jesse and friends.  And his mother shoots him on video and we see how Andy has grown up and used to play with his toys all the time.

But that was then.

Now, Andy is a 17-year-old preparing to leave college.  He has since outgrown his toys and keeps them in his toy trunk.  Woody and friends come up with one final plan for Andy to play with them before he goes to college but the plan doesn’t work.  Woody tries to keep everyone optimistic that perhaps when they travel with Woody to college and when he gets married, his own children will play with the toys.  If anything, Buzz mostly cares that everyone stays together no matter what.

But as he plans to leave for college and his sister will be moving to his bedroom, he needs to separate what is going with him to college, what is going to the attic, what toys will be donated to Sunnyside Daycare and what is going in the trash.  Of course, Woody tries to keep them optimistic that Andy would never throw them away but when he grabs all the toys and puts them in the trash bag and Woody is the only one to be put in the box for college, the toys start to worry that they will be separated.

But as Woody watches Andy, he learns that Andy plans to put them in the attic but as he goes to help his sister carry her toys that she will be sending to Sunnyside Daycare, he leaves the trash bag with his toys on the ground and his mother mistakes it for toys that Andy wants to trash.

Andy’s mother puts his toys to the curb to be trashed and Woody immediately goes to rescue them but with quick thinking, Buzz and friends manage to escape just fine and hop into the box that Andy’s sister was donating and are headed to Sunnyside Day care.  As Woody tries to explain to them that it was a mistake, it is too late and Buzz, Jesse and friends are on their way to the daycare and feel that they rather go to a place where they will be played with instead of being stuck in an attic.

And immediately, the group are excited about their new home as they see many toys all around.  Could this be a toyland where toys can live and be happy?  Meanwhile, Barbie finds herself attracted to Ken (and vice versa) and the group learns that the toy that is responsible for making the decisions at the day care is Lots-O-Huggin’ Bear (aka “Lotso”), who tells them of how great a place Sunnyside Daycare is.  As Woody finds his way to the Daycare and tries to have all his friends come home with him, unfortunately, they feel that their place is at the Daycare where they know they will be played with.

As Buzz and the group are excited about their new home, they anxiously await to be played with by the children.  But they soon learn that the room they are staying at is a daycare class for the very young children who don’t care about the toys and do whatever with them (including destroy them).  As for Woody,  seeing that no one wanted to leave with him, now he must find a way back home from the Daycare and it’s not going to be easy.  But fortunately he is found by a young girl from the daycare named Bonnie who takes him home.

At the daycare, Buzz and the group realized that Sunnyside Daycare is not what they expected and at this rate, they will be abused, tortured or destroyed.  So, the group decides that they want to be transferred to a new room with older kids and as Buzz goes to to talk to Lotso about transferring them, they are caught by the toys of Sunnyside and brought to Lotso.

As Lotso hears Buzz out, he agrees to accept Buzz as part of his team but not the others.  Buzz refuses to leave the others behind and seeing how dark and cold Lotso is, he tries to escape but in the end, he is captured and his memory is reset and now, Buzz is back to his original space ranger mode.

Woody learns from the other toys (who were rescued by Bonnie at the daycare) that Sunnyside is actually a toy prison that is run by Lotso who is ruthless and has no sympathy towards the other toys because his original owner had lost and replaced him.  And thus, he has run Sunnyside Daycare with an iron fist.  And now, Woody knows he must rescue his friends.

As for his friends, they try to escape from the Daycare but are caught by Lotto’s henchman including the newly reset Buzz Lightyear and are imprisoned.

Will Buzz be able to get back into Sunnyside Daycare and rescue his friends and return back to Andy’s home?

VIDEO:

When I watched “Toy Story 1” and “Toy Story 2”, I easily noticed how CGI had improved between 1995 and 1999, especially with how fabric started to show more detail and we started to see more of a surface to Mr. Potato Head and T-Rex.

But “Toy Story 3”, eleven years later, you would expect CGI to take a dramatic leap forward and needless to say, “Toy Story 3” is visually impressive.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), the first thing you notice with “Toy Story 3” are the vibrant colors and then overall detail.  Everything shows detail and as we learn from this Blu-ray release, the animators wanted to make sure that the characters themselves do not look like toys, that they wanted to make sure the characters and toys are distinguished and the animators succeeded in every way possible.

Mr. Potato Head, you literally see the surface like the actual toy, down to its seams.  Look at the hardwood floors in Andy’s room, so much detail on the floor that it looks realistic, even some outdoor scenes look photorealistic (especially the animation and CG shown during Lotso’s past, wow!).  And the fabric of the clothing, you can see the threading, the weaves and how much detail went into the clothing. One scene with the monkey, it looks like a stuffed monkey with its detail, the detail of it’s clothing and scary eyes, these models look fantastic!  Also, see the dirt and grime on the animals, that was awesome how they captured that in the film.

The hair even was well-done, the wear and tear that the toys go through at Sunnyside Daycare is evident through the nicks and scratches and also looking at Andy’s trunk and seeing the little chips on the trunk to the paint and we can see the brush strokes on the walls, “Toy Story 3” just looks magnificent on Blu-ray and I don’t see how any videophile can say anything negative about how this film looks on Blu-ray.

And facial expressions of the human characters such as Andy, his sister, his mother to Bonnie, these were well-animated and rendered.

I did notice some banding but times I did see it were short.  For example, when Woody is back at Sunnyside, he is holding the red phone receiver and the banding is evident in that one scene but again, the scenes you do see it are seconds long and does not distract you from how fantastic this film looks.

This is the best looking Disney/Pixar film to date!  Vibrant, detailed and everything about the picture quality is going to make videophiles swoon!  It’s that impressive and easily a reference quality Blu-ray release for picture quality!

As for the accompanying DVD, the DVD is presented in Widescreen (1:78:1).

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Toy Story 3 ” is presented in English 7.1 DTS Master Audio and English 5.1 DTS Master Audio.  Also, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital EX is included as well as English 2.0 DVS.

All I can say is that “Toy Story 3” sounds magnificent.  The first action scenes that startoff the film will show you how awesome this film sounds in lossless.  From Mrs. Potato Head’s voice coming from the surround channels, sounds coming from the rear surround channels, LFE being utilized for the evil Dr. Porkchop’s laser beam or when Mr. Potato Head has Slinky Dog turn on its force field and Jesse calling on T-Rex, this is just impressive to hear the sound coming from all channels.

Dialogue is crystal clear and music is just as clear!  And you then hear how the sound is utilized during the children’s rush to get the toys as they slam them all over the place, the garbage dump as everything is being compacted and you can hear flames pattering, the garbage truck coming from the distance, tiny footstep sounds throughout the room… really, there are so many sounds that are well-utilized throughout this film, it’s very impressive!  Sure, the film is not 100% action-based but action and non-action scenes, the film sounds fantastic on Blu-ray and I didn’t even notice a lot of these sounds at the theater when I watched this film this past summer.

So, you really experience a  great, immersive soundscape with “Toy Story 3” from all channels, especially via LFE. Not only is picture quality hitting the high marks for reference quality, the lossless audio is just as magnificent and audiophiles should be happy with this Blu-ray release as well!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.  For the special features, some extras have other subtitles included.

As for the accompanying DVD, the DVD is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX and 2.0 DVS.  Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Toy Story 3” includes the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Day and Night Theatrical Short – (5:58) The Day and Night short animated film that was shown before “Toy Story 3” in theaters.
  • Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure – (4:25) Buzz teaches Hamm and T-Rex about space and people working in space to benefit science on Earth.
  • Toys! – (6:38) The crew guess of how many toys are in this film.  And also an introduction of the new toy characters in “Toy Story 3”.

DISC 2:

  • The Gang’s All Here – (10:46)  The voice talent and crew of “Toy Story 3” reflect on the past and present and working on “Toy Story 3” and reuniting with everyone and also bringing in new voice talent/characters.
  • Goodbye Andy – (8:02) A featurette about John Morris reprising his role as Andy and information on the animation and storyboarding of those Andy scenes.
  • Accidental Toymakers – (3:56) A story of how most toy manufacturers never wanted to take on “Toy Story” in the past and how the toys became a mega hit for a small toy company (Thinkway Toys) and the plans for making the toys for “Toy Story 3”.
  • A Toy’s Eye View: Creating a Whole New Land – (5:14) A featurette on bringing the “Toy Story” characters to the Disney theme parks and creating a new “Toy Story” land for the Disney theme park in Paris.
  • Epilogue – (4:23) The final epilogue from the film.
  • Cinexplore – (1:42:30) While watching the film, you get a picture-in-picture screen featuring the storyboard sketches, concept art and CG models with commentary by director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson.
  • Beyond the Toybox – (1:42:30) An alternative commentary track the Supervising Animators, Supervising Technical Director, Production Designer and Stor Supervisor of “Toy Story 3”.  Featuring leads from story, tech, art and animation.
  • Roundin’ Up a Western Opening – (5:42) A featurette about how the western opening was developed and what the original conception was for the film and how it changed in the final cut.  Also, how to reintroduce the characters and making the introduction action-packed.
  • Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story’s Roundtable – (6:26) A roundtable with director Lee Unkrich and crew in a roundtable and creating the Bonnie scene and the challenges they faced and the goals they wanted to accomplish.
  • Beginnings: Setting a Story In Motion – (8:13) An animated featurette on creating a script from scratch by “Toy Story 3” screenwriter Michael Arndt and doing it the Pixar way.
  • Life of a Shot – (6:57) Producer Darla K. Anderson talks about modeling and how hundreds of people worked in this film and showcases various staff talking about colors, sets, painting, styling, animating, effects, shot lighting, music and more for “Toy Story 3”.
  • Making of Day & Night – (2:00) The creation of the “Day and Night” short animated film (which was screened right before “Toy Story 3” in theaters).
  • Paths of Pixar – Editorial – (4:38) Featuring the editing staff at Pixar and what their jobs were in “Toy Story 3”.  From the story, cutting, adding and the various work done in the editing department and the various jobs by the editor and the control in filmmaking that they have and communicating with the director.  Also, learning how the staff began in their job and more.
  • Studio Stories: Where’s Gordon – (2:16) A story by a man named Gordon talking about working at Pixar and discovering a secret room (in which one must crawl through a vent to get through) and how that room became a party room at Pixar.
  • Studio Stories: Cereal Bar – (1:36) Life at Pixar and having a cereal bar at work and why cereal is important at Pixar.
  • Studio Stories: Clean Start -(3:05)  The crazy things that staff did near the final stages of “Toy Story 3”.
  • Toy Story Trivia Dash – A trivia based game featuring questions from  “Toy Story 3” or “Toy Story 1-3”.  You only have a certain amount of time to answer and you use your number pad on your Blu-ray remote (or PC) to choose the correct answer.
  • Grab Bag – (4:00) Various publicity clips of the “Toy Story 3” characters in how would “Toy Story 3″ would be in 3D?”.
  • Ken’s Dating Tips – (1:30) Short publicity clips for “Toy Story 3” featuring Ken giving dating clips.
  • Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear Commercial 1 – (:30) A “Toy Story 3” viral ad l featuring Lotso in a ’80s style toy commercial.
  • Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear Commercial 2 – (:30) A Japanese ’80s style toy commercial (viral ad) featuring Lotso.
  • Making of the Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear Commercials – (1:28) The making of the 1983 Lotso commercials and challenges they had in making the commercial.
  • Internet Chat – (1:00) A “Toy Story 3” commercial featuring Buzz and friends using Internet chat.
  • Security Cam – (1:12) A “Toy Story 3” commercial ala security camera.
  • Gadgets – (:58) A “Toy Story 3” car commercial featuring the previous and new characters.
  • “Dancing with the Stars” at Pixar – (2:21)  A featurette on how the crew at “Toy Story 3” worked with “Dancing with the Stars” dancers Cheryl Burke and Tony Dovolani for the dancing scenes.
  • TS3 Silence Trailer – (:40) A commercial promoting silence when watching “Toy Story 3”.
  • TS3 Antipiracy Trailer – (1:04) An anti-piracy trailer.
  • TS3 Teaser Trailer – (1:44)  The “Toy Story 3” teaster trailer.
  • TS3 Trailer 2 – (2:21) “Toy Story 3” theatrical trailer #2
  • TS3 Trailer 3 – (2:30) “Toy story 3” theatrical trailer #3
  • TS3 Japan Teaser Trailer 1 – (1:02) Japanese teaser trailer (with English subtitles)
  • TS3 Japan Trailer 2 – (2:44) Japanese theatrical trailer (with English subtitles)
  • Character Intros – (2:00) Featuring several commercials promoting the new characters of “Toy Story 3”.
  • Poster Gallery – Using your remote, you can cycle through the various posters of “Toy Story 3”.

EXTRA:

Included in the “Toy Story 3: 4-Disc Combo Pack” is a DVD version of the film and a digital copy of the film.  The digital copy of the feature film works with iTunes and Windows Media Player.  Also, a slip over cover comes with this Blu-ray release.

I’m sure that “Toy Story 3” hit people a lot harder emotionally than some viewers.  Some look at it as the next level of wonderful CGI graphics for Disney/Pixar animated films, others look at the film as another successful film for the studio but I’m going to go even farther and say that this film caught my attention, not because I grew up with the previous two films but the fact is that like the character of Andy, during my late teens, it was time to say goodbye to all the toys that I once owned.

Memories of having friends overnight to play with these toys, memories of opening the old department store catalogs and hoping my grandparents would get me the latest toy that I picked out and then to open it in Christmas morning.  Suffice to say, when it came to my toys… I was very fortunate to have such a memorable time playing with them and having caring family to help support that habit.  But unlike Andy, I did not have the moment to say goodbye, it was more like, turn 16 and my parents made the conscious decision to throw out all my toys and force me to sell all my comic books and prepare for graduation and SAT tests and so forth.

Needless to say, it was not necessarily a traumatic moment but it was a defining moment…OK, who am I kidding, it was one of the saddest moments in my life.

So, “Toy Story 3” for me, was just a magnificent film that took me back to those old days of playing in my room and like Andy, having these wild adventures that I could conjure in my head and sooner or later, we grow older, become interested in different things and sooner or later, we say goodbye and prepare for our next stage in our lives as young adults.

I watched this film knowing that it was going to be successful and along with my wife, my son and my nephew, watched it in 3D the first day it came to theater.  But watching it on Blu-ray, without the usual audience distractions, my experience this time around was heightened.  Watching “Toy Story 3” in 1080p, I was amazed by how vibrant the film looked, how much detail was showcased.  From the little tears in Andy’s toy chest, the clothing of the characters, the dirt and grime on the toys, the wonderful lossless audio and then for me to watch the special features in three days because there are a good number of them included, I can’t help but feel that this is truly a perfect release.

Yes, I am sure the videophiles will say there was banding on the picture quality but those banding moments were few and were short.  Really, everything you love about the film, you get that and more in the “Toy Story 3: 4-Disc Combo Pack”. It’s important for people to know that if you don’t need the accompanying DVD or the digital copy, you can also purchase the Blu-ray two-disc version as well.

Personally, I can’t find one significant flaw with this Blu-ray release.  There is something for everyone in this release, may you be a fan of the film, a person wanting to learn about the animation business and learn from the awesome team at Pixar, there is just so much to love about this release that it’s definitely one of the top 10 Blu-ray releases of 2010 and that is pretty tough as this year alone had many significant releases, especially coming from Disney.  If anything, Walt Disney continues to raise the bar for its Blu-ray releases and I suppose since this is finale farewell for the “Toy Story” series (which I would imagine is not set in stone because “Toy Story” made an insane amount of money for Disney and “Toy Story 3” made over a billion dollars worldwide, I just can’t see this being a 100% final farewell), they had to go out with a bang for this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Toy Story 3” is a film in which Pixar continues to their reign of innovation, their mark on quality of beautifully animated films and a well-written storyline that just pulls you in.  The Blu-ray release is not just for those who love “Toy Story 3” but for those who loved the “Toy Story” trilogy.  If you loved the first two films, then this is a no-brainer, this is a must-buy release.

“Toy Story 3: 4-Disc Combo Pack” is magnificent and is a true 5-star release!  Highly recommended!

HIGHLIGHTS OF ABC NEWS’ “GOOD MORNING AMERICA” FOR JUNE 14-18, 2010

June 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The following report highlights the programming of ABC’s “Good Morning America” during the week of June 14-18, 2010. “Good Morning America” is a two-hour, live program anchored by Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. Juju Chang is the news anchor and Sam Champion is the weather anchor. The morning news program airs MONDAY-FRIDAY (7:00-9:00 a.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

Highlights of the week include:
MONDAY, JUNE 14 – Robin Roberts anchors from Nelson Mandela Square in South Africa, where she is reporting on the highly anticipated 2010 World Cup and progress being made in that country; actress Betty White; the famed Soweto Gospel Choir performs live from South Africa
TUESDAY, JUNE 15 – Actors Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz (“Knight and Day”); Carson Kressley with must-have fashion tips (“True Beauty”); authors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger on the romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (“Furious Love”); Grace Potter performs

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15 – Actors Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz perform a stunt from their new movie, “Knight and Day,” live on the broadcast; Dr. Zev Rosenwaks and Dr. Mark Goldstein, authors of “A Baby at Last,” a couple’s guide to getting pregnant; technology contributor Becky Worley with Father’s Day gift ideas

THURSDAY, JUNE 17 – Actor Michael Keaton (“Toy Story 3”); author Brad Meltzer (“Heroes for My Son”); “GMA’s” final “Living the Dream” winner cheers with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

FRIDAY, JUNE 18 – Miley Cyrus performs live in New York City’s Central Park as part of “GMA’s” Summer Concert Series; a preview of “20/20’s” interview with Alexa Ray, daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley; chef Emeril Lagasse cooks

Jim Murphy is the senior executive producer and Tom Cibrowski is the executive producer of ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”

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