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The Fate and the Furious (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

 “The Fate and the Furious” no doubt went bigger in terms of action and destruction but is it the best film in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise?  That’s all subjective.  But if you love the films and have grown up watching the crew all this time, you are definitely going to go on one hell of a ride with this film.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Fate and the Furious

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 2 Hrs. and 16 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English DTS-X Immersive Audio, DTS Headphone 2.0, English DVS, Espanol DTS Digital Surround 5.1,  Subtitles: English SDH, Espanol, Francais

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2017


Based on Characters by Gary Scott Thompson

Directed by F. Gary Gray

Written by Chris Morgan

Produced by Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell, Chris Morgan, Neal H. Moritz

Executive Producer: Amanda Lewis, Samantha Vincent

Co-Producer: Cliff Lanning

Associate Producer: Sharon Lopez

Music by Brian Tyler

Cinematography by Stephen F. Windon

Edited by Paul Rubell, Christian Wagner

Production Design by Bill Brzeski

Art Direction: Andrew Max Cahn, Jonathan Carlos, Desma Murphy, Jay Pelissier, Aramis Balebona Reco, Brian Stultz

Set Decoration: Danielle Berman

Costume Design: Sanja Milkovic Hays, Marlene Stewart


Starring:

Vin Diesel as Dom

Jason Statham as Deckard

Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs

Michelle Rodriguez as Letty

Tyrese Gibson as Roman

Ludacris as Tej Parker

Charlize Theron as Cipher

Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody

Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey

Luke Evans as Owen

Elsa Pataky as Elena

Kristofer Hivju as Rhodes

Scott Eastwood as Little Nobody


Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez lead an all-star cast as the global blockbuster franchise delivers its most action-packed, high octane adrenaline rush yet in The Fate of the Furious. Now that Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Rodriguez) are married and Brian and Mia have retired from the game—and the rest of the crew has been exonerated—the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman (Oscar winner, Charlize Theron) seduces Dom into the world of crime he can’t seem to escape and a betrayal of those closest to him, they will face trials that will test them as never before. From the shores of Cuba and the streets of New York City to the icy plains off the arctic Barents Sea, our elite force will crisscross the globe to stop an anarchist from unleashing chaos on the world’s stage… and to bring home the man who made them a family.


If there is one thing that is constant about the “Fast and the Furious” film franchise, they are huge moneymakers.

And for the eighth film titled “The Fate and the Furious”, the film which cost $250 million to make, would go on to earn over $1.2 billion in the box office.  Making it the second highest-grossing film of 2017 and the eleventh highest-grossing film of all time.  The film would be the 30th film to gross over a billion and the second in the franchise after “Furious 7”.

The film was directed by F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”, “The Italian Job”, “Law Abiding Citizen”) and was written by Chris Morgan (“Fast & Furious 6”, “Furious 7”, “47 Ronin”, “Wanted”).

Returning for the eighth film are Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky, Kurt Russell and making their debut to the franchise are Charlize Theron (“Mad Max”, “Monster”, “Prometheus”) and Scott Eastwood (“Gran Torino”, “Fury”, “The Longest Ride”).

And now the film will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The film begins with Dominic “Dom” Toretto (portrayed by Vin Diesel) and his wife Letty Ortiz (portrayed by Michelle Rodriguez) are celebrating their honeymoon in Havana.

But before they could really enjoy things, his cousin Fernando gets into a little trouble and Dom ends up racing local racer, Raldo.  As Dom wins the thrilling race, the following day while seeing a woman having problem with her car, Dom approaches her.

To his surprise, the woman knows all about him and literally planned on meeting with Dom in Cuba and reveals herself as cyberterrorist Cipher.  And she is recruiting Dom to work for her.  Dom tells her he doesn’t work for anyone but when she shows him something on her cellphone, he is coerced into working for her.

Meanwhile, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent Luke Hobbs (portrayed by Dwayne Johnson) is recruited to break into a military outpost in Berlin to retrieve an EMP device.  Because he is on his own, he is told to select a team and immediately, Luke gets Dom, Letty, Roman Pearce (portrayed by Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (portrayed by Ludacris) and Ramsey (portrayed by Nathalie Emmanuel) involved.

Thoroughly planned, everything goes to plan and they are able to retrieve the EMP, until Dom crashes his car into Luke and steals the EMP.  He is chased by police but manages to get inside an airplane which belongs to Cipher.  Luke tells everyone what happened and that Dom has gone rogue.

As for Dom, we learn the real reason why he is working with Cipher and that is because she has kidnapped Elena (portrayed by Elsa Pataky) and his son and is threatening to kill them.

Back at home, Luke is sent to prison but is approached by Mr. Nobody (portrayed by Kurt Russell) and his trainee Little Nobody (portrayed by Scott Eastwood) and he is told to confess his crimes and his crimes will be wiped.  But Luke is not willing to confess and he is placed in prison right across from villain Deckard Shaw (portrayed by Jason Statham) and the two immediately start swiping insults towards each other and how they want to beat each other up.

But all of a sudden, Luke’s prison door opens and immediately Deckard uses the distraction to escape from his cell and he tries to make an escape with other convicts as the prison guards try to stop them.  Luke goes after him and once they are about to escape, it is learned that this was the plan of Mr. Nobody.

Mr. Nobody recruits Luke, Deckard, Letty, Roman, Tej and Ramsey to stop Cipher but first, they must stop Dominic.  But can they?


VIDEO:

“The Fate and the Furious ” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Featuring close-ups with very good detail, the film looks fantastic and vibrant may it be in Havana, New York and even Iceland, as many of the scenes were shot outdoors. The film looks absolutely fantastic in HD!

I didn’t notice any major artifacts, banding or issues with picture quality during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Fate and the Furious ” is presented in English DTS-X Immersive Audio, DTS Headphone 2.0, English DVS, Espanol DTS Digital Surround 5.1.

Definitely one of the most immersive films in the film’s franchise, with the high level of actions with weaponry, cars, explosions, chaos and more, this is a film that will no doubt please audiophiles and definitely a reference film for audio enthusiasts.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Espanol, Francais

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Fate and the Furious ” comes with the following special feature:

  • The Cuban Spirit – (8:04) A featurette about the crew exploring Cuba.
  • In the Family – Featuring four featurettes: Betraying the Family: Cipher and Dom (6:35) – A featurette about casting Charlize Theron as a villain; Leaderless: A Family Lost (5:00) – A featurette about the cast discussing Dom going rogue; Shaw Family Values (3:56) – A featurette about Decker Shaw and his family; and Meet the Nobodys (5:44) – A featurette about Mr. Nobody and his protege.  Interview with Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood.
  • Car Culture – Featuring the following featurettes: The Hero Cars of Fast (10:23) – A featurette of the many vehicles in the film; Zombie Cars (5:33) – A featurette about the computerized cars and how the scene was created; The Ripsaw (5:15) – A featurette about the military tank provided by the US Department of Defense for the film.
  • All About the Stunts – Featuring the following three featurettes: Malecon Street Race (6:13) Behind the scenes of how the race in Havana was pulled off; Iceland Stunt Diaries (6:47) – How the big action scenes were shot in Iceland and The Streets of New York (5:25) How the big action scenes were shot in New York.
  • Extended fight Scenes – (5:03) Featuring the extended prison fight and the plane fight scenes.
  • Audio Commentary – Feature commentary with director F. Gary Gray

EXTRAS:

“The Fate and the Furious” comes with the Blu-ray, DVD and a digital code for the Theatrical and Director’s Cut version of the film.  Plus, you get a free film from Universal’s UPHE Rewards.


“The Fate and the Furious”, the eighth installment of in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise is no doubt bigger, more action-packed and more exciting than the previous films in terms of risk and chaotic moments, but has the franchise at a point of exhaustion for fans?

The answer is “no”, if the box office earnings surpassing $1 billion is used as a litmus test.

There is no doubt that the franchise is a cash cow and for the most part, the films are exciting and fun popcorn action films but there is no doubt the producers wanted to find ways to do better than “Furious 7” which was a big box office hit and financially the succeed, but the problem is now they are going into a direction that feels like a cross between “The Expendables”, James Bond films meet “Fast and the Furious”.

Earlier in the series, you felt the films felt right as they dealt with major heists and with each film, the stakes got higher and higher.

Bringing back the crew to take on a cyberterrorist named Cipher who has an easy time breaking in to a secured top-secret government facility to steal the “Eye of God” and manages to orchestrate chaos in New York City that would make Michael Bay smile and have eyes wide open and evading Russians and a huge submarine in the frozen tundra seems a bit too much.

If producers wanted high stakes, bigger and more explosive than its previous film, I could understand that.

But the question is…where does the franchise go from there?  Back to basics?  Or are we going to see “Avengers”/Marvel Studios type of action where we see Dom and team take on space aliens, become the next A-Team and that’s where I’ll be checking out because I feel the franchise has strayed far from the type of stories that made me interested in the franchise to begin with.

One thing remains constant in the film…”Family” and that is the potential that writers can definitely work with.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if we see tragedy visits the family once again, possibly in a larger scale.

With that being said, I give “Straight Outta Compton” director F. Gary Gray major props in taking on this exciting over-the-top action film.  It’s orchestrated very well, the high level of action scenes and chaos orchestrated in one film pitting Dom and his crew against each other is no doubt and seeing Dom turn rogue was very well-played.

Actress Charlize Theron who plays the mad cyberterrorist Cipher is no doubt one of the most vilest villains to appear in the films.

And of course, to have Decker Shaw (Statham) return but this time, teaming up with the crew, and playing off Dwayne Johnson worked very well.

On Blu-ray, the film looks fantastic.  Outdoor scenes are vibrant, closeups show amazing detail and the lossless audio is quite immersive with the many action sequences throughout the film, explosions, car crashes, destruction galore, both video and audiophiles should be happy with this HD release!  And for special features, at first it didn’t seem like much, but there are multiple special features within each listing, so that should keep fans busy.

And last, you also get an UltraViolet code for the theatrical and Director’s Cut of the film, plus an extra code for a free film via UPHE Rewards.

Overall, “The Fate and the Furious” no doubt went bigger in terms of action and destruction but is it the best film in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise?  That’s all subjective.  But if you love the films and have grown up watching the crew all this time, you are definitely going to go on one hell of a ride with this film.  Recommended!

 

Smurfs: The Lost Village (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”. Recommended for the entire family!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Smurfs: Lost Village

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Mild Action and Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2017


Based on the Characters by Peyo

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Written by Stacey Harman, Pamela Ribbon

Producer: Mary Ellen Bauder, Jordan Kerner

Co-Producer: Veronique Culliford, Mandy Tankenson

Executive Producer: Raja Gosnell, Ben Waisbren

Co-Executive Producer: Ben Haber

Music by Christopher Lennertz

Edited by Bret Marnell

Casting by Mary Hidalgo

Production Design by Noelle Triaureau

Art Direction by Dean Gordon, Marcel Vignali


Starring:

Demi Lovato as Smurfette

Rainn Wilson as Gargamel

Joe Manganiello as Hefty Smurf

Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf

Danny Pudi as Brainy Smurf

Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf

Dee Bradley Baker as Monty

Frank Welker as Azrael

Michelle Rodriguez as SmurfStorm

Ellie Kemper as SmurfBlossom

Julia Roberts as SmurfWillow

Ariel Winter as SmurfLily

Meghan Trainor as SmurfMelody

Bret Marnell as Snappy Bug

Brandon Jeffords as Cauldron

Kelly Asbury as Nosey Smurf

Jake Johnson as Grouchy Smurf

Gabrielle Iglesias as Jokey Smurf

Tituss Burgess as Vanity Smurf


In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a roller coaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of THE biggest secret in Smurf history!


Back in the late ’50s, Belgian cartoonist Peyo created the comic strips featuring small blue fictional characters known as the Smurfs. A big success in France, the Smurfs would receive various adaptations.

The first were in Belgium via TV animated shorts that were created in 1961-1967, a few of the shorts would be featured in the 1965 in the black-and-white animation “Les Adventures des Schtroumpfs” and then followed by a 1976 animation titled “La Flûte à six schtroumpfs” (The Smurfs and the Magic Flute) which would receive an English version that would inspire more full-length Smurf animated films.

But in America, where the Smurfs gained its popularity is through the 1981 animated TV series which was nominated many times for a Daytime Emmy Award and won the “Outstanding Children’s Entertainment Series” for 1982-1983. The animated series would broadcast on television through 1989.

In 1997, producer Jordan Kerner has been trying to get a “Smurfs” film created but it wasn’t until 2002 when Peyo’s heirs accepted Kerner’s offer and people were able to get their first look at the film via leaked footage on the Internet in 2008.

And in 2011, the first live-action/CG Smurf film of a planned trilogy was released in theaters in 2011. The film which was budgeted for $110 million received lackadaisical reviews from film critics but the film was popular among the younger viewers and earned over $559 million in the box office ensuring the film as a success for Columbia Pictures which would ensure a sequel.

In 2013, “Smurfs 2” would go on to earn over $374 million in the box office, making it another success.

But wanting to create a full 3D CG animated film, the film series was rebooted (now no longer featuring the live action portion), this film (unrelated to the previous two films) is directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”, “Gnomeo & Juliet”) and co-written by Stacey Harman (“The Goldbergs”) and Pamela Ribon (“Moana”, “Samantha Who?”, “Bears”) and the film would go on to make $194.7 million in the box office.

And now “Smurfs: The Lost Village” will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD in July 2017.  The version I am reviewing is the 4K Ultra HD version which comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet Digital Code.

In this latest film, we are introduced to the story of Smurfette, the only girl in the Smurf Village and how she was created by the wicked wizard Gargamel from a lump of clay.  Despite being created for the purpose of evil (as he in search of the Smurf village to steal all of their essences to become the most powerful wizard in the world), she was given a chance by Papa Smurf and became part of the village.

One day, Brainy Smurf is creating an invention that can determine one’s energy.  As Hefty Smurf was tested, the invention showed that his energy was strength and Brainy was able to extract that into a liquid.  But when tested on Smurfette, because she isn’t a true Smurf, she drew in energy and so the invention didn’t work on her.

As Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy Smurf go out for some playtime, while flying out with a leaf, a gust of wind carries her to the Forbidden Forest where she crashes.  Smurfette sees a smurf watching her and it runs off past the wall leading to the Forbidden Forest.

But when Smurfette tells the three of what she saw, she is grabbed by Gargamel’s vulture, Monty back to his lair.

This leads Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy to go on a rescue mission to save Smurfette and when they get her out to go to the village, they want to tell Papa Smurf about her discovery.  But when Papa Smurf forbids them and punishes them for going out there, the four sneak out to search if there is a “LostVillage”of Smurfs aside from theirs.


VIDEO:

“Smurfs: Lost Village” receives its first 4K Ultra HD release and this latest animation is fantastic.  Presented in 2160p (1:85:1 aspect ratio), it’s a different style compared to the previous two films which tries to add skin texturing but for the most part, the animation is done very well with great hair physics and for the most part, it’s an animation style that is respectful to Peyo’s original work and also for those who remember the animated series.   Meanwhile, environments are well-rendered with amazing detail.  The picture quality of this film is fantastic!

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Audio quality is equally impressive. Presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), Finnish, French, German, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Considering that this animated film has a good number of action sequences, the lossless audio utilizes the surround channels.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear, while action sequences sound magnificent through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Smurfs: The Lost village” on 4K Ultra HD comes with the following special features:

  • Emoji Sneak Peak – (2:04) A sneak peek for the upcoming “Emoji” film.
  • Filmmaker Commentary– Featuring audio commentary by director Kelly Asbury and Allan Hawkins (Animation Supervisor) and Brandon Jeffords (Head of Story).
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:35) Featuring four deleted scenes.
  • Kids at Heart! The Making of Smurfs: The Lost Village – (9:09) The making of “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and behind-the-scenes at Sony Pictures Animation.
  • The Lost Auditions – (4:07) Voice talents auditioning for other Smurf roles.
  • Demi Lovato Meets Smurfette – (:58) Smurfette interviews Demi Lovato.
  • Lost Village Dance Song  – (3:10) Featuring children dancing to the “Lost Village Dance Song”.
  • Smurfify Your Nails – (2:18) A featurette on how to smurfify nails.
  • Baker Smurf’s Mini Kitchen – (4:05)  A featurette featuring Baker Smurf narrating one preparing a baked dish.
  • Meghan Trainor “I’m a Lady Music Video”
  • Making the Song “You Will Always find Me In Your Heart” – (3:00) Christopher Lennertz discuss making the music for a certain scene.
  • The Sound of The Smurfs – (3:42) Kelly Asbury and Christopher Lennertz discuss the music for Smurfs: The Lost Village”.
  • Draw Your Favorite Smurfs – (7:40) How to draw various Smurf characters.
  • See More Smurfs! – (5:48) “Smurf” film trailers

EXTRAS:

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Having grown up with watching “Smurfs” on television and reading the comics, and since 2011, it was cool to watch the films alongside my young son who pretty much grew up not with the animated films but the two previous films.

And he were are now in 2017, we have an animated film which will no doubt entertain families but I feel it’s a film that is much easier for me, as an adult to watch, versus watching Smurf and human collaborations onscreen.

Part of the entertaining factor of the original series is the adventures that the Smurfs are involved in and the various characters to work with.  While “Smurfs: The Lost Village” features primarily Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf and Clumsy Smurf, the film does a great job of incorporating other Smurfs but most importantly answers a question of what if there is a village of other Smurfs out there?

What if Smurfette wasn’t the only female Smurf around?

And sure enough, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is quite fun to watch because we see another village but instead of all male, it’s all female.  And similar to Papa Smurf and his village of male smurfs, we see Mama Smurf and her village of female smurfs.  And needless to say, it makes for a fun, entertaining story.

As always, Gargamel is the primary antagonist.  Still trying to search for Smurfs to capture their essence in order to make him a powerful wizard.  Sure there is quite a bit of peril and rude humor (thanks to Gargamel) that raises the rating to PG but parents watching alongside their children need not worry at all.  It’s a great animated film that the entire family can enjoy!

As for the 4K Ultra HD presentation, animation is fantastic.  While much different compared to the previous two films, this time around, the animated film is much truer to Peyo’s work.  Especially for those who grew up watching the animated series.  Movements and hair physics to the way the characters move were well-animated and the detail of environments are full of detail.  In fact, this film looks absolutely vibrant in HD.

The lossless soundtrack is just as impressive.  Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music but also great use of the surround channels during the action sequences.  And last, there are a good number of special features included as well.

Overall, for those who enjoy the Smurfs and videophile/audiophile parents looking for an animated film that looks great in 4K Ultra HD, who also want to entertain their children or the entire family, you can’t go wrong with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”.  Recommended for the entire family!

 

Resident Evil: Retribution (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Review)

December 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Resident Evil: Retribution” is an exciting popcorn action film that delivers in special effects and continuous action.  The film may not be known for a deep or involving plot and its similarities to the video games are non-existent aside from character names or titles, but this fifth film was quite fun because of its wild action and the return of many past characters from the “Resident Evil” films.  And as for the Blu-ray release, awesome picture quality, fantastic lossless audio and many special features makes this film worth owning in HD if you are fan of the film series!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Constantin Film International GmbH and Davis Films/Impact Pictures (RE5) Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Resident Evil: Retribution

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 96 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Sequences of Strong Violence Throughout)

Release Date: December 21, 2012

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Written by Paul W.S. Anderson

Produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody

Co-Producer: Alexander Dostal

Line Producer: Hartley Gorenstein

Executive Producer: Martin Moszkowicz

Music by tomandandy

Cinematography by Glen MacPherson

Edited by Niven Howie

Casting by Deirdre Bowen

Production Design by Kevin Phipps

Art Direction by Dennis Davenport, Dan Yarhi

Set Decoration by Steve Shewchuk

Costume Design by Wendy Partridge

Starring:

Milla Jovovich as Alice

Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine

Michelle Rodriguez as Rain

Aryana Engineer as Becky

Bingbing Li as Ada Wong

Boris Kodjoe as Luther West

Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy

Robin Kasyanov as Sergei

Kevin Durand as Barry Burton

Ofilio Portillo as Tony

Oded Fehr as Todd/Carlos

Colin Salmon as James “One” Shade

Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker

Mika Nakashima as J-Pop Girl

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus is spreading across the globe, transforming ordinary people into legions of undead. Headed for extinction, the human race has just one hope: Alice (Milla Jovovich). She’s on a mission, fighting her way through cities and across continents, all inside Umbrella’s prime research facility. Old friends become new enemies as she battles to escape and discovers that everything that she believes may not even be true.

More action, more visual effects and it’s humanity’s last stand in the fifth “Resident Evil” film, “Resident Evil: Retribution”.

Directed and written by Paul W.S. Anderson (“Mortal Kombat”, “Death Race”, “The Three Musketeers”, “Resident Evil”), the fifth film would take a different approach from previous films by tying loose ends with past characters but also focusing on creating a film primarily for 3D.  And like the previous “Resident Evil” films, the “Retribution” would go on to make over $221 million in the box office.

Not surprising since the “Biohazard”/”Resident Evil” video games have been quite popular since 1996 and there seems to be no stopping this juggernaut franchise to end anytime soon.  That goes the same with its live action film series which is loosely-based on the video games.

And no matter how film critics respond, the audience still turn out for the films and with “Resident Evil: Retribution” which was shown in theaters in 3D, once again the film continues to show that fans and audiences still love the action-driven series.   And to make sure there is a connection between the films, producer/writer Paul W.S. Anderson (“Death Race” films, AVP: Alien vs. Predator”) returns as director.  Glen MacPherson (“Rambo”, The Final Destination”, “Romeo Must Die”) is director of photography and music is by tomandandy (“Natural Born Killers”, “The Mothman Prophecies”, “The Rules of Attraction”).

To sum up the story of the live action films, the first “Resident Evil” film revolved around an Umbrella Corporation security officer named Alice (played by Mila Jovovich).  The corporation which operates deep beneath the town of Raccoon City had an accident when a thief drops a blue vial in the lab and immediately, the facility’s AI known as “The Red Queen” detects a possible infection and seals the facility and attempts to kill everyone inside.  In the first film we learn that anyone who comes in contact with the “T-Virus” begins to mutate into a zombie and if they bite into anyone, that person will be infected.

In the first film, Alice and other security officers try to survive the facility while finding out who stole the vials of the T-Virus and hoping to find an antidote.    By the end of the film, Alice wakes up in a medical room obviously been operated or experimented on and when she comes out of the facility, she sees Raccoon City literally in disarray and sees a newspaper article that the virus has made it to the public.

In the second film titled “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, the film continues with Alice leaving the facility and seeing Raccoon City in bad shape.  She has learned that she has been infected with the T-Virus but unlike those who mutate to zombies, she has apparently been given special abilities that enhancer her fighting and intuition as well as healing.

Many people are trying to escape the city but when the T-Virus starts to rapidly infect more and more people, the Umbrella Corporation seals entry out of the city and plans to kill everyone (no matter if they are not infected) in order to prevent the T-Virus from getting out of the city.

Alice joins Jill Valentine, Carlos Olivera and L.J. are trying to find their way out of Raccoon City which has been locked down and is planning to be nuked in order to kill those who have been turned into zombies by the T-virus.  By the end of the film, Alice and friends managed to escape but crash into the mountains.  Alice is taken and once again experimented on by Dr. Isaacs who wants to learn why Alice’s blood has bonded with the T-Virus and she has not mutated like others.  She manages to escape and Dr. Isaacs allows her to escape because they now have found a way to turn her on and off but also using computers to track her and see what she is seeing.

This leads to the third film titled “Resident Evil: Extinction”.  The virus has now rapidly taken over many parts of the world as nearly everyone has become infected.  Only a few continue to survive and Carlos and L.J. are part of a group led by Claire Redfield (played by Ali Larter) who travel with other survivors and are constantly on the move trying to find more survivors and visit areas to stock on supplies and gas.

The world has changed and everything has been barren and US cities have literally become a desert.

As for Alice, she has been traveling alone and has separated herself from Carlos and L.J. because she knows Umbrella is tracking her and doesn’t want to expose her friends.

But when Claire’s group becomes attacked by crows (who have been feeding on the flesh of infected humans and have become infected themselves), out of nowhere, Alice comes to save them and apparently has developed supernatural abilities to control fire and other elements.  Alice reunites with Carlos and L.J. and she tells them about frequencies that are telling people to go to Alaska where there the infection has not made it up there and there is plenty of food and supplies.  The group now knows they must go to Alaska but in order to do that, they need to get gas because all of their vehicles are low in gas.

But hidden right below the desert is another Umbrella Corporation headquarters where Dr. Isaacs has been experimenting on the zombies and seeing if he can make them conscious about humans and to have them follow instructions, so an unknown entity can create a massive army of those infected by the virus. We also learn that Dr. Isaacs has created many clones of Alice but each of them have not had the same special abilities as her and thus near the headquarters is a pit of dead Alice clones.

By the end of the film, with many lives lost, Alice manages to give Claire and a few others a helicopter to escape to the safe haven known as “Arcadia” in Alaska while she goes underground to kill Dr. Isaacs (who has mutated himself to become a killing machine).  And at the end, we see Alice releasing all of her clones in order to fight the Umbrella Corporation.

“Resident Evil: Afterlife”, the fourth film continues with Alice and her clones now trying to take down the Umbrella Headquarters in Japan and to kill the chairman of the Umbrella Corporation, Albert Wesker (played by Shawn Roberts).  Similar to Alice, he possesses superhuman abilities and during their fight, he injects a serum that neutralizes Alice’s T-virus and will once again make her human and eliminating her superhuman abilities.  But right before Wesker is about to kill Alice, the two get into an accident and Alice manages to escape.

Six months later, Alice has been eager to find “Arcadia” in Alaska and find Claire and other survivors to find this safe haven.  But she discovers, there is no “Arcadia”.  But she hears noise rustling in the background and she finds Claire who is no longer the same Claire that she had known.  Alice manages to beat her but also finds that there is some metallic spider-like device on her.  She removes it and Claire turns to normal but has lost her memory.

Alice and Claire then take off to Los Angeles in hopes to find other survivors but they find legions of zombies trying to get into a prison facility and they manage to spot some survivors which include Luther West (played by Boris Kodjoe), a former professional basketball player; Bennett (played by Kim Coates), a producer that everyone dislikes; Crystal (played by Kacey Barnfield), an aspiring actress; Kim Yong (played by Norman Yeung), an intern for Bennet and Angel Ortiz (played by Sergio Peris-Mencheta) as a former military operations officer and a few other survivors. The survivors are hoping that they can get to Arcadia and when Alice tells him that there is no survivors in Alaska, Luther tells her that the Arcadia they are looking for is not in Alaska, it’s a boat that is in the ocean.

Also inside the prison is a man locked up in a special holding cell named Chris Redfield (played by Wentworth Miller), no one knows if he is a safe individual but he tells Alice that he knows the way out of the prison.  Chris also happens to be the brother of Claire, but with her memory gone, she doesn’t recognize or trust him.

Meanwhile, as Alice and the others try to plan their escape, a hulking tall man with a huge axe and wearing bag over his face known as the Executioner (same character from the “Resident Evil 5″ video game) is trying to break through the gates of the prison and also, zombies have also been trying to dig underground to get inside the facility.

With thousands and thousands of zombies trying to bust into the prison facility, Alice and her new friends must find a way to escape and make it to Arcadia.

This leads us to “Resident Evil: Retribution”.  WithAlice and the group receiving an attack from a brainwashed Jill Valentine (portrayed by Sienna Guillory) and the Umbrella Corp.  She is thrown over a freighter during an explosion and is knocked towards the ocean.

We are then taken to a storyline in which Alice is married to Todd (portrayed by Oded Fehr) and is a housewife who takes care of her deaf daughter Becky (portrayed by Aryana Engineer).  But this happy homelife is disrupted when zombies start attacking their home and neighborhood.  Todd is killed and Alice escapes with her daughter.  But as Alice is able to hide Becky from harm, Alice is attacked by Todd who is now a zombie.

We then see Alice waking up at an Umbrella base and is being interrogated by Jill.  But due to a power failure, everything in Umbrella is shut off and reset and for some reason, Alice is given back her uniform and is shown an escape route.

When Alice escapes from her holding cell, she runs and finds herself in a simulation of Tokyo.  She relives a simulation when the J-Pop girl (portrayed by Mika Nakashima, “Nana” films, “Resident Evil: Afterlife”) becomes the first zombie to infect the country and all zombified individuals start chasing down Alice.  Alice manages to escape and finds a weapons depot but also in the room is Ada Wong (portrayed by Li Bingbing, “The Forbidden Kingdom”, “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame”, “The Message), a former Umbrella operative now working for Albert Wesker.

Ada explains to Alice that she and Wesker no longer work for Umbrella and that the Red Queen is in total control of the Umbrella Corporation.  Albert Wesker who has hacked the Umbrella computers then proceeds to explain to Alice that he needs her and that is why he is trying to help her escape from the underwater secret base which was used as a testing ground for experiments.  To aid her escape, he has sent Leon S. Kennedy (portrayed by Johann Urb, Barry Burton (portrayed by Kevin Durand) and her friend Luther West (portrayed by Boris Kodjoe), who she thought was dead.

So, as Alice and Ada Wong develop a temporary partnership and work together to escape the base, the two end up in the simulated Raccoon City town which was ravaged by zombies.  When she enters a home, she sees a dead version of herself which was revealed to be a clone that was created by Umbrella as a virus simulation).  But while checking out the rooms in the house, she sees Becky who thinks that the real Alice is her mother.

But as the two are about to leave the home, they are attacked by Alice’s former teammates (from the first “Resident Evil” film and also Carlos from the third film).  Ada gives Alice and Becky a chance to escape while she prepares her attack against Jill and her soldiers.  And while running away, they run into Rain Ocampo (portrayed by Michelle Rodriguez), the suburban clone version and the three try to find  a way to survive and escape the area.  Alice meets up with Leon and friends and together, they must find a way to escape from the Umbrella Corp., while Jill and the Umbrella soldiers will do anything to have them dead.

Will Alice, Becky, Leon and his partners find a way to escape the Umbrella Corp. base?

VIDEO:

“Resident Evil: Retribution” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  The film features awesome contrast, amazing detail with natural skin tones, black levels are nice and deep.  The film is vibrant and looks very impressive on Blu-ray.  From Milla Jovovich’s blue eyes to the detail of the zombies and monsters is fantastic!

By watching this fourth film, it appears that Paul W.S. Anderson may have wanted to include a lot of the video game elements, especially the horrific characters to this film.  In fact, the Umbrella Japanese soldiers looked as if they were inspired by the anime series “Jin-Roh”.  Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the overall look of the film especially how they improved the look of the horrific characters and the detail they put into those characters.  From the things coming out of the zombie’s mouth or the various zombie monsters that are featured throughout the film, everything looked great for this film, the visual effects were amazing and looked great on Blu-ray!

It’s important to note that there is a Blu-ray 3D version of “Resident Evil: Retribution” available.  If you have a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player and TV, you may want to check out the 3D Blu-ray release of “Resident Evil: Retribution”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

When it comes to the “Resident Evil” film series, I felt that “Resident Evil: Retribution” is the film that sounds the best and has a lossless soundtrack that is immersive. Presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital  and comes with an English – Audio Description Track, the lossless soundtrack for “Retribution” is fantastic!

LFE is used for explosions, surround channels are well utilized for the many action scenes in the film but how it uses ambiance and also directional sounds on the surround channels.

All I can say is that if you enjoyed the action-paced style of “”Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, you’re going to enjoy “Retribution” as this film is full of action-sequences that just keeps going and going and literally, this is a lossless soundtrack that really does take advantage of all channels in your home theater.  I was impressed!

You can expect bullets whizzing, hitting and flying everywhere through your surround channels, explosions and booms, sword cutting and a nice touch of LFE and it’s continuous.  There is so much action in this film that it’s literally designed for the audiophile in mind.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Resident Evil: Retribution” comes with the following special feature:

  • Project Alice – This feature allows you to know more about the various characters featured in “Retribution” as well as the monsters and more!
  • Audio Commentary 1 – Featuring audio commentary with writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, Milla Jovovich and Boris Kodjoe.
  • Audio Commentary 2 – Featuring audio commentary with writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – (12:35) Featuring five extended/deleted scenes.
  • Outtakes – (4:36) Outtakes from “Resident Evil: Retribution”.
  • Resident Evil: Faces of the Fans – (3:17) A fan who won the zombie contest and got a role in “Resident Evil: Retribution” as a zombie.
  • Capcom Game Trailers – Video game trailers for “Resident Evil 6”, “Devil May Cry” and “Dragon’s Dogma”.
  • Mastermind of Evil: Directing Resident Evil: Retribution – (8:06) Director Paul W.S. Anderson and producers discuss the making of the fifth film.
  • Evolving Alice – (6:50) Milla Jovovich and crew talking about how Alice has evolved in the last decade.
  • Resident Evil: Reunion – (9:42) A featurette about the return of past characters from previous “Resident Evil” films.
  • “Design & Build – The World of Resident Evil: Retribution – (9:11)  A featurette on the visual effects and production design of the film.
  • Drop (Un) Dead: The Creatures of Retribution – (6:58) A feauturette on the visual effects and make-up effects for the film.
  • Resident Stuntment – (6:17) Nick Powell, stunt coordinator discusses how this film features different stunts because it was filmed in 3D and because its in 3D, the real actors had to do their fight scenes.
  • Code: Mika – (5:34) Japanese pop star Mika Nakashima talks about working with Milla Jovovich and filming her scene.

EXTRAS:

“Resident Evil: Retribution” comes with an UltraViolet code which allows you to download the movie to your computer and select Apple and Android devices and stream to computers, tables or smartphones.

When it comes to “Resident Evil”, I’m a hardcore fan of the video game series.  Owning nearly ever game that has been released since 1996 but when it came to the first film, I admit that at first, I wasn’t digging it at all. I disliked how much of a departure the film was to the video games.  Granted, things always have to change between video game and movie adaptations but the problem was its screenplay. It was too different from what I was accustomed to.

But then came “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and I really enjoyed the film and how it had elements of “Resident Evil 2″ (video game) incorporated to the film.  But for some reason, “Resident Evil: Extinction” felt like it was a step back.  And with the fourth film,  “Resident Evil: Afterlife” was a mixed bag.

My main criticism was that although the visual effects were great, the action was focused on too much that the film really didn’t have much of a storyline.

Here we are now with the fifth film “Resident Evil: Retribution” and I figured that for filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson, if the films were popcorn action films, people keep coming back.  Why deviate from that?

And sure enough, this fifth film was all visual effects, showcasing fight choreography that looked amazing and action that was non-stop.  Sure, there were breaks to fit in a storyline but as the film was kicking off, for the first 20 or so minutes, I was wondering if there was going to be much dialogue.

But for what it’s worth, “Resident Evil: Retribution” delivers in surprises and twists.  Not only do the past cast members from a films return but also the introduction of “Resident Evil” favorites, Leon S. Kennedy (which Johann Urb fit the look of Leon quite well) and Chinese actress Li Bingbing as the sexy Ada Wong.

But while we saw the return of Jill Valentine (which fans have been waiting for) and even the return of Rain, Luther and Albert Wesker, the film forgot about Clair Redfield (portrayed by Ali Larter), K-Mart (portrayed by Spencer Locke) and Chris Redfield (portrayed by Wentworth Miller).  It felt weird because all four were seen on the same freighter at the end of “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and while a clip from the last film was shown, no sign of any of them in this film. So, maybe they will show up in the next “Resident Evil” film.

And while I’m not a big fan of popcorn action films that focus on too much action and not enough story, I did enjoy “Resident Evil: Retribution because of the inclusion of the new characters.  Although, I’m not sure about how I feel of this clone storyline (since it was never part of the original video games), Paul W.S. Anderson leaves viewers with an intriguing teaser at the end of the film that makes me look forward to sixth films.  To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if there is any finale to “Resident Evil”,  like its video game counterpart, as long as the series continues to make money, you can expect more RE films in the near future.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Resident Evil: Retribution” looks fantastic in HD!  The detail is amazing but there are a lot of use of green screen and visual effects in order to make this film more exciting in 3D.  The lossless audio for this film is also immersive and sounds fantastic in HD and there are plenty of special features included on the Blu-ray release as well.  I was surprised to learn how things have changed when it comes to stuntwork when it comes to filming in 3D.  Because in order to make things look realistic, actors will need to actually hit and not miss during their fighting scenes.

Actress Milla Jovovich explained how much training she had for many action films that she had starred in and how she was trained to miss during a fight scene, but this is the first time where she had to hit the people she was fighting because it had to look good in 3D and it was difficult for her.  Also, there is a scene with a car running through a truck and catching on fire.  I thought that would be done by CG but Anderson wanted to shoot an actual vehicle catching on fire during an actual jump through a truckbed.

So, director Paul W.S. Anderson and the producers really went all out in making this fifth film and its action scenes bigger and better and while the film looks a bit to CG for me, since a lot of it does take place inside an Umbrella base, there was part of me that was still longing for the good balance of storyline and action as seen in the second and third films.  But once again, as long as people are still coming out for this film, even if it’s now more for its popcorn action and 3D effects, I guess for what its all worth, if that was the goal, they succeeded.

Again, just a reminder that this film is also being released on Blu-ray 3D, so if you have the hardware to showcase 3D, definitely go for it!  Otherwise, this Blu-ray release is solid and fans of the film series who love action, zombies, monsters and the action scenes that “Resident Evil” films are known for will enjoy this film.

Overall, “Resident Evil: Retribution” is an exciting popcorn action film that delivers in special effects and continuous action.  The film may not be known for a deep or involving plot and its similarities to the video games are non-existent aside from character names or titles, but this fifth film was quite fun because of its wild action and the return of many past characters from the “Resident Evil” films.  And as for the Blu-ray release, awesome picture quality, fantastic lossless audio and many special features makes this film worth owning in HD if you are fan of the film series!

 

Battle: Los Angeles – Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Battle: Los Angeles” has jumped on my list as one of the best audio-driven films on Blu-ray for 2011.  The film makes you feel you’re right there and feeling every rumbling, hearing all shots and explosions all around you, close-up, from a distance… The audio is that awesome!  Granted, the film is not a deep, serious action film… in fact, it’s your straight-up popcorn action film! If you are craving for an alien invasion/war film that’s all about the action, then “Battle: Los Angeles” is for you!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Beverly Blvd LLC. All Rights Reserved

TITLE: Battle: Los Angeles – Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 116 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1), English and French5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English – Audio Description Track Dolby Surround

RATED: PG-13 (Sustained and Intense Sequences of War Violence and Destruction and for Language)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: June 14, 2011

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Written by Christopher Bertolini

Produced by Jeffrey Chernov, Ori Marmur, Neal H. Moritz

Executive Producer: David Greenblat

Associate Producer: Lisa Rodgers

Production Executive: Samuel Dickerman

Music by Brian Tyler

Cinematography by Lukas Ettlin

Edited by Christian Wagner

Casting by Debra Zane

Production design by Peter Wenham

Art Direction by Andrew Neskoromny, Chris L. Spellman, Thomas Valentine

Set Decoration by Bob Kensinger

Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hays

Starring:

Aaron Eckhart as Sgt. Michael Nantz

Ramon Rodriguez as 2nd Lt. William Martinez

Will Rothhaar as Cpl. Lee Imlay

Cory Hardrict as Cpl. Jason Lockett

Jim Parrack as Lcpl. Peter Kerns

Gino Athnoy Pesi as Cpl. Nick Stavrou

Ne-Yo as Cpl. Kevin Harris

Michelle Rodriguez as Tsgt. Elena Santos

James Hiroyuki Liao as Lcpl. Steven Mottola

Noel Fisher as Pfc. Shaun Lenihan

Bridget Moynahan as Michele

Adetokumboh M’Cormack as Corpsman Jibril Adukwu

Bryce Cass as Hector Rincon

Michael Pena as Joe Rincon

Joey King as Kirsten

Neil Brown Jr. as Lcpl. Richard Guerrero

Taylor Handley as Lcpl. Corey Simmons

Lucas Till as Cpl. Scott Grayston

Kenneth Brown Jr. Cpl. Richard Oswald

Jadin gould as Amy

Joe Chrest as 1st Sgt. John Roy

E. Roger Mitchell as Company Captain

Rus Blackwell as Lt. Col. K.N. Ritchie

Susie Abromeit as Amanda

Witness the end of civilization unfold as hostile alien invaders attack the planet. As people everywhere watch the world’s great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected. Now it’s up to a Marine staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) and his platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they’ve ever encountered in this epic sci-fi action film.

A film with much more realistic “in your face” battles compared to “Independence Day”, more thrilling than “War of the Worlds” and yes, its another alien invasion film being released but “Battle: Los Angeles” was definitely one hell of a Blu-ray to watch!

In 2011, director Jonathan Liebesman (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Darkness Falls”) and writer Christopher Bertolini (“The General’s Daughter”, “Madso’s War”) were responsible for the military/alien invasion sci-fi film starring Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight Returns”, “Thank You For Smoking”, “Rabbit Hole”), Michelle Rodriguez (“Avatar”, “Resident Evil”, “Fast & Furious”), Ne-Yo (“Stomp the Yard”, “Precious”) and Bridget Moynahan (“I, Robot”, “Lord of War”, “Serendepity”).

Although known for his horror films, Liebesman wanted to make a realistic depiction of an alien invasion ala war film and drew inspiration from the marines fighting in Fallujah in creating the film.  But also inspired by the actual “Battle of Los Angeles” false alarm that took place in Los Angeles back in 1942 when there was fear that the Japanese were going to attack the city and anti-aircraft artillery was shot over the city causing damage and even a few casualties.

So, taking these inspirations and wanting that documentary-like feel, despite many films being released in 3D, this movie was not as Liebesman wanted a documentary style of filmmaking and thus the use of handheld cameras.  He wanted authenticity and thus the actors went through three weeks of boot camp to learn how to operate as a military platoon, while lead actor trained with the Marines for months in weapons training and drills.

The film revolves around SSgt. Michael Nantz (played by Aaron Eckhart), who is a 20-year veteran that is harboring the emotions of a loss of his squad in Iraq and is retiring.  Meanwhile, members of the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines are living their daily routine.

But on that day, news reports of meteorites hitting various areas of the planet are being shown on television.

Because of this, the military are being gathered and are asked to evacuate civilians who are trying to escape the coastline from a possible tsunami generated from the meteor.  Nantz’ retirement is postponed and he is asked to replace a platoon sergeant from “E” Company, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines.  But Nantz arrival is not good news as one of the marines had a brother who died under Nantz command in Iraq and because Nantz was the only one who lived, the others think that perhaps Nantz deserted his platoon.

Upon arriving, Nantz is told that he would report under 2nd Lt. William Martinez (played by Ramon Rodriguez), who is fresh from The Basic School and the platoon would be attending a briefing at Santa Monica Airport which has now been converted to a Forward Operating Base.

Quickly, the soldiers learn that the meteors that have landed are not meteors but are aliens who are now threatening to colonize the planet and are after the water in the planet.

While many soldiers are sent to fight against the invading aliens, Martinez’ platoon are sent to rescue civilians inside an LAPD station and get them out before the USAF commences saturation bombing of Santa Monica.

As the platoon advance towards the LAPD station, they are ambushed by the aliens and a few soldiers are killed or injured.   Nantz realizes that Martinez may not be ready to lead but the best he can do is to get Martinez thinking straight in order to issue out orders.

While advancing to the LAPD station, they team up with surviving members of the U.S  Army National Guard (40th Infantry Division) and Air Force Intelligence Technical Sergeant Elena Santos (played by Michelle Rodriguez) and together they advance to the LAPD station to help rescue the civilians.

Can the platoon rescue these civilians and escape before the bombardment of Santa Monica?  And with the alien ambush, will they survive?

VIDEO:

“Battle: Los Angeles” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  Director Jonathan Liebesman wanted the film to have a documentary-style and did not want to use the best digital cameras as he wanted a certain look for his film.  Cinematographer Lukas Ettlin made sure to deliver with the handheld camera and its shakiness.  And yes Liebesman wants to make people feel that and possibly even feel dizzy with motion sickness but for those who are able to keep up, the film is not like that throughout.

Also, the film tries to capture a feel that you are in a destroyed area of Los Angeles where smoke and destruction litter the area.  Vibrancy can be seen in the colors of explosions but the overall colors are muted, smoky and a bit drab.  That was the intent and for me, it worked.  There is plenty of detail as you can see the grime and scarring on the faces of the soldiers, wounds, rocky debris, you name it…detail is a high point with this film.  Black levels are nice and deep and I detected no blemishes, artifacting, edge enhancement.  This is a pretty solid PQ for “Battle: Los Angeles”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

And this is where “Battle: Los Angeles” shines!  This has got to be one of the best lossless soundtracks I have heard all year and possibly one of the best in capturing the action and destruction of war.  This is a film that showcases immersive sound, your soundscape is filled with guns shooting, lasers blastic, mecha devices bursting, blowing up things, grenades exploding, explosions and gun fire galore, this is what you expect from a war film and the way the surround channels are utilized, you can’t help but feel excited of what was accomplished by the sound editors because this movie sound awesome!

There is no doubt that audiophiles are going to love the lossless soundtrack to “Battle: Los Angeles”, it’s one of the most immersive soundtracks I have heard and this is not just a few scenes, there are plenty of scenes with artillery fire, explosions, ambiance and more.  May it be up-close or from the distance, “Battle: Los Angeles” as of right now, is on top of our list for best AQ for a film in 2011.

Subtitles for “Battle: Los Angeles” is in English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Battle: Los Angeles” comes with the following special features:

  • Command Control – While watching “Battle: Los Angeles”, you can watch this film with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, the making of the film and more.   Note: Fortunately, for the featurettes titles Battle Points, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has allowed for these special features to be watched separately.  Mini featurettes in HD include: (22:23) Staff Sergeant Nantz, Marine Behind the Scenes, Aliens Ambush the Marines, Battling Unknown Forces, Technical Sergeant Santos, Alien Autopsy, Gas Station Explosion, Visual FX on the Freeway, Do You Believe in Aliens? and Alien Command & Control.
  • Behind the Battle – (6:44) The cast and crew talk about the movie and how the film would focus on Jonathan Liebesman’s vision to shoot in documentary style.
  • Aliens in L.A. – (4:39) Presented in HD, in this featurette, we get to see the making of the aliens and their design.
  • Preparing for Battle – (5:15) Presented in HD, learn how the talent prepared for their role.
  • Boot Camp – (5:15) This featurette in HD show us how the talent had to undergo three weeks of military boot camp training to prepare for the film.
  • Creating L.A. in L.A. – (5:45) While “Battle: Los Angeles” was filmed in Louisiana, this featurette which was presented in HD, shows us how the filmmakers captured the look and feel of Los Angeles.
  • Directing the Battle – (6:33) A featurette presented in HD of how Director Jonathan Liebesman’s presentations won him the job to direct “Battle: Los Angeles”.
  • The Freeway Battle – (5:18) The cast and crew of “Battle: Los Angeles” give us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the freeway battle scene.

EXTRAS:

“Battle: Los Angeles – Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack” comes with a Blu-ray slip cover case and also a DVD version of the film.  Also, a PS3 theme is included as well.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is your straight-up popcorn action film but in my opinion, it was the better one.  Forget about any deep storyline, the goal of this movie was not trying to accomplish anything deep like Oliver Stone’s “Platoon”, Stanley Kubrik’s “Fullmetal Jacket” or Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan”.  Nor was it trying to be artistic or dark like Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”.

This film is like a mashup of “Black Hawk Down” and “War of the Worlds” with a little “Independence Day” smacked in there.  Pretty much a war film about a platoon that has to save civilians but literally on a suicide mission where aliens are just awaiting for them to slaughter.

You know already that a lot of these men are not going to survive, even before the film starts.  You know that in this day and age, you’re going to have a lot of special effects and on Blu-ray, you’re going to expect an action film such as “Battle: Los Angeles” to deliver when it comes to picture and audio quality.

And for the most part, this film is literally about soldiers just trying to stay alive.  There is no defining conclusion (which can lead to a possible sequel since this film made so much money) and the storyline is quite simple, soldiers must save civilians and all have to get away as far as they can from the blast radius before the Air Force drops annihilates Santa Monica.

Of course, there is much more to this story but it’s the constant action that keeps you on your seat, it’s an adrenaline-pumping sci-fi film.  Fortunately, the one actor that definitely keeps the film going along is Aaron Eckhart as Ssgt. Michael Nantz, a soldier that literally wants to get out of the military because his conscious of losing his own platoon and being the only man alive has haunted him.  He knows that others think low of him for being the only man that survived and thinking that he let his crew die and thus, no one feels good around him.

As a viewer, you expect some John Wayne bravado on his part but granted, this character is not the talkative type.  He’s a man of action and he goes by the mission and accomplishing those goals.

The film also stars other talent such as Ne-Yo, Bridget Moynahan and Michelle Rodriguez.  Rodriguez, you sort of expect her in this kind of role as she has played in “Avatar”, “Lost” and “Resident Evil”, those roles of a no-nonsense woman that you know can kick some serious ass!  Bridget Moynahan wasn’t really explored, she is just a civilian, a vet who tries to watch over the children.  And as for Ne-Yo, like all the other soldiers, he’s there to play the part of a soldier, fight or die fighting.

Now, the weakness of “Battle: Los Angeles” is the fact that the storyline doesn’t strive to have a deep storyline, nor is there a conclusion.  If anything, it’s a straighout-action war film and there are those who will live and those who will die and you just keep going.  Director Jonathan Liebesman was inspired by marine films on YouTube, this is a film showcasing marines and their bravado of fighting and defending America, nothing more and nothing less.

For me, I was just happy that there were no scenes that made me bored.  Each scene, there was something happening and the action kept building and building and that was fine for me.  I accepted acting that was so-so, I accepted the fact that there were a lot of chaotic scenery.  I never expected anything deep and if anything, I took this film primarily as a action popcorn film and it’s what I was expecting and it’s what I got.

And for me, probably which enhanced my viewing of this Blu-ray release was how awesome this film sounds!  Granted, there are many films that are bad with awesome AQ but in the case of “Battle: Los Angeles”, the sound was a big part of making you feel that you were part of the war, you were right there and you can hear all those gunshots, those explosions and everything else close up or in a distance through your center, front and surround channels, including the LFE from your subwoofer.

Also, there is a good number of special features on the Blu-ray that will show you how much the filmmakers wanted to capture the feeling of war by having its talent undergo boot camp.  Granted, I’m not a Marine but the fact that they consulted with the military to make the film’s soldiers seem authentic, that was pretty cool!

Overall, “Battle: Los Angeles” is your adrenaline pumping, popcorn action film.  If you are into those type of films, then you’ll love this Blu-ray release!  Otherwise, if you are looking for something deep and a storyline that is in-depth, then this movie is not going to excite you one bit.

As for the Blu-ray release, I will say that for the first half of 2011 so far, this has to be one of the best audio-driven films I have seen this year.  If you are an audiophile and have the setup to essentially enjoy immersive lossless soundtracks, then definitely check “Battle: Los Angeles” out on Blu-ray!

Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hands down!  This is our top pick for “2010 Blu-ray release of the Year”! “Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition” is magnificent and literally scores top marks in picture quality, audio quality and special features.  It is a must-own release and it receives our highest recommendation!

Image © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition

DURATION: Original Theatrical Version: 162 Minutes, Special Edition Re-Release: 170 minutes, Collector’s Extended Cut – 178 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Description Audio, Family Audio Track (All Objectionable Language Removed for Original and Special Edition Re-Release), Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese

COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: PG-13 (Intense Battle Sequences and Warfare, Sensuality Language and Some Smoking)

RELEASE DATE: November 15, 2010

Written and Directed by James Cameron

Executive Produced by Laeta Kalogridis, Colin Wilson

Produced by James Cameron, Jon Landau

Co-Producer: Brooke Breton, Josh McLaglen

Associate Producer: Janace Tashjian

Line Producer: Peter M. Tobyansen

Music by James Horner

Cinematography by Mauro Fiore

Edited by James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin

Casting by Margery Simkin

Production Design by Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg

Set Decoration by Kim Sinclair

Costume Design by John Harding, Mayes C. Rubeo, Deborah Lyn Scott

Starring:

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully

Zoe Saldana as Neytiri

Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine

Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch

Joel Moore as Norm Spellman

Giovanni Ribisi as Parker Selfridge

Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacon

Laz Alonso as Tsu’tey

Wes Studi as Eyutkan

CCH Pounder as Moat

Dileep Rao as Dr Max Patel

Matt Gerald as Corporal Lyle Wainfleet

Sean Anthony Moran as Private Fike

The three-disc  AVATAR Extended Collector’s Edition Blu-ray and Extended Collector’s Edition DVD will both feature the original theatrical release, a special edition re-release, family audio track with all objectionable language removed and new collector’s extended cut with sixteen more minutes including an exclusive alternate opening Earth scene. Viewers will journey to the depths of Pandora with filmmakers during “Capturing Avatar“ an in-depth feature length documentary covering the 16 year filmmaker journey including all new interviews with James Cameron, Jon Landau and cast and crew exploring James Cameron’s unique vision for the film seen by more than 310 million people worldwide. The Oscar and Golden Globe winning epic is the highest grossing film of all time, taking in over $2.7 billion in worldwide box office. It is also the top-selling Blu-ray disc of all time.


“Avatar”, the largest-grossing movie of all time and has cemented James Cameron’s status as a writer and director who has been able to surpass his original box office record with his 1997 film “Titanic”.

Created with an outstanding budget of $237 million, needless to say that James Cameron has laid it all on the line with this film. It would become a financial disaster or a goldmine. And sure enough, “Avatar” has become the latter. The film has grossed over $2.7 billion and earlier this year, we received a special feature-less Blu-ray and DVD release, during the first two days of its sale, it had sold over $5 million copies.

The first Blu-ray release was raved as the best Blu-ray release ever released in terms of picture and audio quality.  But we knew earlier in the year, the “Avatar” Blu-ray release was just to satisfy those who have wanting a Blu-ray and DVD release after the success of the film but knew that a new release would be in-store later in the year.

And here we are now in November 2010 with “Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition” featuring three Blu-ray discs which is packed with special features but also includes three versions of the film.  You get the original theatrical version, a special-edition re-release (featuring 8 more minutes) and a Collector’s extended cut with 16 more minutes.  Also, for families to enjoy this film, included is a family audio track for the original theatrical edition and special edition re-release which removes all objectionable language.

“Avatar” is easily James Cameron’s ultimate masterpiece thus far. Avoiding anything that resembles sci-fi kitsch with the use of its CG and becoming just eye candy, “Avatar” is a fantastic film that deserves to be seen and this is coming from a reviewer who was more than caustic towards this film before reviewing this Blu-ray release.

“Avatar” takes place in 2154 on the planet of Pandora. The RDA Corporation has their eyes set on a mineral called unobtanium. The corporation’s administrator Parker Selfridge (played by Giovanni Ribisi) wants that unobtanium and has hired the private security force known as Sec-Ops. As the humans have observed and have done their research on the planet, especially the inhabitants known as Na’vi, a tribe that is 10 feet tall, blue, similar to humans and are in tuned to the nature surrounding them. The problem for the RDA Corporation is that the unobtanium lies in the area where the Na’vi are living and want to relocate them.

Dr. Grace Augustine (played by Sigourney Weaver) is the head of the Avatar program and Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington), a paraplegic former Marine is asked to join the program after his brother, a scientist who trained as an Avatar operator was killed. Augustine and crew have been able to grow Na’vi hybrid bodies called avatars and can be controlled via mental link by humans. She, Sully and anthropologist Norm Spellman (played by Joel David Moore) use the avatars to learn more about Pandora and the Na’vi, the head of Sec-Ops, Colonel Miles Quaritch (played by Stephen Lang) has different thoughts.

Quaritch promises Jake that he will receive new legs if he gives him the intelligence he has collected from Pandora and the Na’vi that would become useful to Spec-Ops in forcing the Na’vi to co-operate and relocate.

While Jake Sully is on a mission in Pandora, he is separated away from his partners and through having to survive in Pandora alone, is rescued by Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana), a female Na’vi. Neytiri is able to speak English but she also shows anger over Jake’s gung-ho nature in the forest. But when she sees the Eywa surrounding Jake, she realizes that he must be special. She takes him to her clan, the Omaticaya and introduces him to the clan and if he is a “warrior dreamwalker”, he may be special. So, her mother Mo’at (played by C.C.H. Pounder) makes her daughter Neytri show him the way of the Na’vi and also the ways of the planet.

Through training and seeing the surroundings, Jake is conflicted because he is starting to fall in love for Neytri and feeling a sense of purpose with his avatar in accomplishing things he is unable to do in reality but knowing he is betraying them by feeding the Spec-Ops with intel on the Omaticaya.

And unfortunately, all the inside information Jake has fed to Spec-Ops, has given Colonel Quaritch all he needs in giving the RDA Corporation a chance to now take the area of the Omaticaya by force.

Can Jake, Dr. Augustine and crew save the Na’vi from the RDA Corporation? What will happen when the Omaticaya find out that Jake and Dr. Augustine are not real beings but are Avatars working for the humans and giving them the information to destroy their home?

VIDEO:

“Avatar” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:78:1) and is the true definition of reference quality video. Detail and colors are just amazing. The close up of the CG work looks so realistic and are so remarkably detailed that it looks as if Cameron and crew have achieved CG perfection. You see skin pores, the application of the pain on the skin, the sweat glistening on the characters. How do they do that? There is amazing detail in land of Pandora as each step and each touch produces this light around a plant or surrounding and the colors just glow and look fantastic in HD.

And it just doesn’t stop there. There is detail everywhere. From the mecha vehicles that Spec-Ops command, the large vehicle units, the creatures on Pandora are shown with a large assortment of colors.

Clearly, even with this Extended Collector’s Edition, “Avatar” is simply the best looking film on Blu-ray that has come since the first release of Blu-ray discs. I know this is a statement that is hard to believe especially with so many fantastic reference quality releases on BD but “Avatar” has set the bar up high of how gorgeous a film can look on Blu-ray. And my position in November 2010 is still unphased, this film looks incredible!  Even the additional opening Earth scene looks incredible.  Everything you expect from a Blu-ray release, vibrant colors, deep blacks, no combing during action sequences, no artifacts, no video blemishes at all.  “Avatar” literally achieves perfection in the PQ department.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Avatar” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Dolby Surround, English Decruption Audio, Spanish, French and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital. And you think that “Avatar” has raised the bar for picture quality, the audio for “Avatar” is equally fantastic!

Immersive. This is the word I describe this film as the DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio track takes control of your soundscape and sound is coming from the front and center channels, surround channels are active throughout the film. May it be the forest ambiance, creatures rustling in the leaves, large animals heard flying above and of course, the pulse-pound action as the LFE is fully engaged. Expect your subwoofer (and literally all channels) to go on over-drive as the film, especially during the second half of “Avatar” makes those scenes come alive. The vehicles flying and the rotors blowing the trees, missiles firing and causing destruction and trees falling everywhere and the scream of the Omaticaya’s as they are losing their home.

Again… Incredible!  And similar to my position with the video, my stance on the audio has not wavered.  I still believe that “Avatar” continues to be the #1 audiophile Blu-ray reference title as of November 2010.  Watching it again (extended version) and just hearing everything come from all around you and just feeling those booms via LFE is fantastic.

As mentioned earlier, “Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition” comes with a family audio track with all objectionable language removed for the original theatrical release and special-edition release.

As for subtitles, “Avatar” is presented in English SDH, Spanish and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition” comes with special features on two Blu-ray discs:

DISC 2:

  • Deleted Scenes: Never Before Seen – (1:07:51) A total of 27 deleted scenes presented in 1080p HD and are presented in various levels of complete with no visual effects. Some scenes show the context of how the film looked before final rendering. Some scene are presented before rendering, some scenes are not in the film and more.  Deleted scenes  include:

– Scene 19 – “Stingbat Attack”
– Scene 20 – “Pandora Rules”
– Scene 21 – “Jake Meets Norm”
– Scene 26 – “Jake Sees Decanted Avatars”
– Scene 30 – “Norm is a Living God”
– Scene 35A – “Breakfast with the Scientists”
– Scenes 36A-37 – “You’re in My World Now”
– Scene 64 – “Grandma’s Teylu”
– Scene 79 – “Pied Piper”
– Scenes 81B-D – “Going to the Mountains”
– Scene 81K – “Interspecies Booty Call”
– Scene 91 – “Norm’s Attitude Improves
– Scene 93A-98 – “Learning Montage Section” (Early Cut)
– Scene C120A – “We’re Buying Time”
– Scenes 122-123 – “Hunt Festival”
– Scene 131 – “Driving Range”
– Scenes 131A-148 – “The Dreamhunt”
– Scenes 164-172 – “The Challenge
– Scenes 174-178 – “The Drums of War” (Full Version)
– Scenes 209-211 – “Escape”
– Scene 224A – “The Eye of Eywa”
– Scene 232 – “You’re a Long Way from Earth”
– Scenes 235-236 – “Battle Camp”
– Scene 248 – “Kick Some Blue Ass”
– Scene 277 – “Wainfleet Kills Norm”
-Scene 287 – “Neytiri Kills Wainfleet” (Alternate Wainfleet Death)
– Scenes 288-327 – “The Avatars Attack”
– Scenes 350-351 – “New Life”

  • Capturing Avatar – (1:38:26) The making of “Avatar”.  A documentary directed by Laurent Bouzereau which shows how Cameron and team went beyond what other films have done in motion capture, CG and more.  A fantastic documentary to see how the filmmaker came up with the idea of “Avatar” and bringing his idea to fruition. Jon Landau talks about how he and Cameron discussed “Avatar” even before “Titanic”.  An in-depth commentary that explores every facet of the film.
  • A Message from Pandora – (20:09) James Cameron talks about the insults to the environment which he saw back in the ’70s helped shape “Avatar” and how he visited the Amazon, how he researched of what was taking place at the Amazon, how he became an activist and helping out a South American tribe to prevent the building of a dam on their land and more.
  • Production Materials – (1:24:25) Featuring plenty of production material special features which include:

The 2006 Art Reel – (17:19) Featuring the conceptual art for “Avatar”.
Brother Termite Test – (1:57) Lightstorm Entertainment’s termite test combining CG and real-time.
– The ILM Prototype – (:42) Featuring Yunjim Kim (“LOST”) and another actor testing motion capturefor ILM’s prototype of “Avatar”.
– Screen Test – Sam Worthington (Raw Footage) – (6:17) Screen test with actor Sam Worthington (Jake Sully).
– Screen Test – Zoe Saldana (Raw Footage) – (4:10) Screen test with actress Zoe Saldana (Neytiri).
– Zoe’s Life Cast (Raw Footage) – (2:20) Zoe Saldana (Neytiri) getting prepared for Neytiri’s makeup and paint on her for the first time and creating several casts.
– James Cameron Speech: Beginning of Live Action Filming (Raw Footage) – (5:25) James Cameron giving a speech to the unit to the crew for the first time of shooting.
– ILM VFX Progression – (2:36) ILM visual effects progression before and after tests.
– Framestore VFX Progression – (3:16) Framestore visual effects progression before and after tests.
– [Hy.Drau’lx] VFX Progression – (2:04) Hy.Drau’lx visual effects progression before and after tests.
– Hybride VFX Progression – (1:53) Hybride visual effects progression before and after tests.
– Prime Focus VFX Progression– (2:53) Prime Focus visual effects progression before and after tests.
– Look Effects, Inc. VFX Progression– (0:51) Look Effects, Inc. visual effects progression before and after tests.
– Crew Film: The Volume – (31:41) A short film on the motion capturing crew of “Avatar”.

DISC 3:

  • Scene Deconstruction – (1:05:21) With the red, green and yellow color buttons of your Blu-ray remote, you can watch 17 scenes and see (red) final with picture-in-picture reference as it shows the main scene and the motion capture talent via PIP, (green) template features the unrendered CG, (yellow) capture features the motion capture only.
  • Featurettes – 17 more featurettes for “Avatar” which include:

Sculpting Avatar – (3:46) A featurette on the crew who created the sculptures for “Avatar” including interviews with Jordu Schelle (lead character sculptor).
Creating the Banshee – (9:51) A featurette with the lead creature designer Neville Page who talks about creating the Banshee and what went on behind-the-scenes in making the Banshee.  James Cameron talks about what he wanted to accomplish and trying to figure out “what is the metaphor?”.
Creating the Thanator–  (3:20) James Cameron talks about the creature Thanator and Yuri Bartoli (Supervising Virtual Art Director) talks about the creation of Thanator and its mannerisms during attacks.
The Amp Suit – (4:31) James Cameron and Tyruben Ellingson (vehicle designer) talk about creating the Amp Suit and its functionality.
Flying Vehicles – (5:13) James Cameron talks about the vehicles and creating familiarity.  Tyruben Ellingson (vehicle designer) talks about the creation of the Samson and developing other vehicles for the film and how James Cameron knew what he wanted in terms of rotor spinning and many other details beforehand.
Na’vi Costumes – (4:14) Deborah L. Scott (Costume Designer) talks about her role in the film.  James Cameron talks about how Scott fabricated everything for the virtual characters and more.
Speaking Na’vi – (6:37) James Cameron talks about the Na’vi and working the language and how he worked on it before meeting with a linguist.
Pandora Flora – (5:40) Dr. Jodie S. Holt (Botany Consultant) talks about incorporating plants to the planet of Pandora and creating the biology.
Stunts – (5:14) Garrett Warren (Stunt Coordinator U.S.) talks about creating the stunts for the film and preparing it for James Cameron and Jon Landau and more.
Performance Capture – (6:32) James Cameron talks about the power of the performance and although the film incorporates CG, “Avatar” is not an animated film.  We get to see a clip of the finalized film and the motion capture performance.
The 3D Fusion Camera – (3:43)  Using technology which shows 3D of the performances filmed in realtime. Glenn Derry (Virtual Production Supervisor) talks about the 3D Fusion camera technology.
The Simul-Cam – (2:18) James Cameron and Glenn Derry (Virtual Production Supervisor) talk about using the 3D Fusion camera (3D) and virtual camera together and how Simul-cam integrates the two cameras together.
Editing Avatar – (6:59)  James Cameron talks about the challenges of editing the film and needed to bring in help with editors Stephen Rivkin and John Refoua and essentially how the film had to be edited twice for performance capture and how James Cameron utilized reference cameras.
Scoring Avatar – (6:06) James Cameron and Jon Landau talk about working with James Horner for scoring the film early in advance.  We get to see a behind-the-scenes footage of the actual scoring.
Sound Design – (8:50) James Cameron talks about sound design and working with Christopher Boyes (Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designer) for sound design and developing a large library of sounds for the films and using them during editing.
The Haka: The Spirit of New Zealand – (5:17) James Cameron talks about working in New Zealand and how the stunt team presented James Cameron a presented him with a “Haka” and thanking him for bringing the film to NZ.

  • Avatar Archives – Featuring trailers and scripts, screenplay, Pandorapedia and more.

– Theatrical Trailer – (3:32) The original theatrical trailer for “Avatar”.
– Teaser Trailer
–  (2:06)  The teaser trailer for “Avatar”.
– Avatar: The Original Scriptment –
(text) The original 1995 script treatment of “Avatar”.
– Avatar: Screenplay by James Cameron –
(text) The actual screenplay for “Avatar”.
– Pandorapedia –
(text) Featuring 449 pages of encyclopedia on Pandora.
– Avatar: The Songs
– (text) Featuring the songs from “Avatar” with English lyrics by James Cameron and Na’vi translation by Paul Frommer.

  • BD-LIVE – The following special features are available on BD-Live (for those who have a Blu-ray 2.0 player that is connected to the Internet) and are presented in 720p.  The following can be downloaded or streamed:

Screen Test – Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana (14:13)  More screen test footage with Sam Worthington (Jake Sully) and Zoe Saldana (Neytiri).
Screen Test – Stephen Lang (4:34) Screen test with Stephen Lang (Colonel Miles Squaritch).
Screen Test – Giovanni Ribisi (3:12) Screen test with Giovanni Ribisi (Parker Selfridge).
Screen Test – Joel David Moore (4:12) Screen test with Joel David Moore (Norm Spellman).
Screen Test – CCH Pounder (4:49) Screen test with CCH Pounder (Moat).
Screen Test – Laz Alonso (6:51) Screen test of Laz Alonso (Tsu’tey).
Speaking Na’vi Rehearsal Footage (6:41) A featurette with Zoe Saldana learning Na’vi.
Weta Workshop: Walk & Talk Presentation (11:09) A featurette on the Weta (the coffin like device to go in the virtual world).
Crew Short: The Night Before Avatar – (4:44) A short animated feature about Jon Landau trying to find his favorite shirt.
Theatrical Trailer – (3:26) Theatrical trailer of “Avatar” for BD-Live.

EXTRAS:

“Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition” comes with a slip-over case, a slipcase which houses another digipack style of interior case in which the discs are held in sleeve that comes out like a drawer.  I know some people have a problem with discs not in a usual case and placed in sleeves.  Fortunately, Blu-rays are not like DVD’s and the surface do not scratch up like DVD’s.  So, I’m sure there are people who don’t like discs presented this way but considering it’s a Blu-ray release, it should not get scratched up like DVD’s in a sleeve.

When “Avatar” was released in theaters, I admit that I took a caustic approach to the film.

It’s not that dislike James Cameron films because I have enjoyed many of his films but it deals with my feelings of technology and films infused by CG that the more I see a sci-fi film utilizing it to the nth degree, I look at these films as becoming kitsch. Granted, I’m not expecting the return of thousands of talents and epic filmmaking along the reigns of D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance” but when I saw the trailer for “Avatar”, I was sensing CG eye candy ala “Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen”.

With so many films being released on 3-D (which I have been told that “Avatar” must be seen in 3-D), in some ways, I just want to watch my movies straight. It’s not the 3-D that makes me excited, it’s the good ol’ fashioned form of cinema. But with today’s technology, for a sci-fi film, I’m expecting a beautiful scenery in this new world, unique characters, good acting, well-paced and a well-written storyline and most of all, because it’s James Cameron who has raised the bar with “Titanic”, I expect the best and not sci-fi kitsch.

Of course, “Avatar” has gone on to breaking records and fan anticipation of the Blu-ray and DVD release are high (despite the first release being barebones) and upon receiving my review copy, I admit that I was curious about the film. What will James Cameron bring to the big screen in terms of character development, storyline and what message does he have for the viewer. Without it becoming an all eye candy film.

Well, let’s just say that after I watched “Avatar”, I was blown away. Yes, “Avatar” is eye candy but it’s pleasing eye candy that has a strong storyline behind it. Films such as the “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings” films have been able to take the viewer and let them believe they are away from reality and you know these worlds. That is why so many decades later, people still know the settings, the surroundings of these films and the same can be said about “Avatar”.

Like those films that will forever be etched in the minds of movie fans, “Avatar” will do the same as people will remember the lush world of Pandora, it’s creatures but most of all the Na’vi. Technology is to the point where creatures or other life forms do not need to don a rubber suit or wear excessive make-up to make one think that being is from another planet. Somehow the wizards were able to take the likeness if Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoey Saldana and make the characters of Jake Sully and his avatar, Neytiri and Dr. Grace Augustine come alive.

The chemistry between the characters of Jake Sully and Neytiri is natural but works extremely well. And for fans of James Cameron films, to see Sigourney Weaver in “Avatar” is a nostalgic blessing. She may not be as forceful as her character of Ripley in the “Alien” films but her role as Dr. Grace Augustine was well-done.

In fact, I felt the movie and it’s pacing for a longer film was well-done, the viewer is immersed in the world but also gets to see political corruption and greed come to play and how Cameron is able to work this film and make it exciting and believable underneath all the CG is quite amazing. What the “Star Wars” films were to me back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, “Avatar” was a film that captivated my attention throughout its 162 minutes and made me appreciate what sci-fi films today can accomplish (granted, not many films will ever get the budget that Cameron was able to achieve with this film).

But as this film has received mostly positive reviews, I was surprised to read “Salon” critic Stephanie Zacharek’s opening paragraph of her review. Zacherek writes, “The problem with taking 15 years to bring audiences the future of filmmaking is that someone else is bound to get to the future before you do. And while there are certain technical effects in James Cameron’s “Avatar” that aren’t quite like anything we’ve ever seen before, the movie is hardly a historical event, or even a grand achievement. It is a very expensive-looking, very flashy entertainment, albeit one that groans under the weight of clumsy storytelling in the second half and features some of the most godawful dialogue this side of ‘Attack of the Clones’.”

I disagree with Zacharek’s comment of the movie is a grand achievement. The film has broken box office records worldwide and now has its place in the record books as the #1 earning film in the world. Granted, for critics…many probably didn’t think early on that James Cameron could repeat his box office success that he did with “Titanic”, let alone beat that record with a sci-fi film. But he did and if that is not an grand achievement, I don’t know what Zacharek was expecting. Even if you remove yourself from the earnings, the CG work is amazing. The cinematography is amazing and just the amount of detail on the characters at this time is phenomenal. And when you think about its competition during the Oscar year, “Avatar” was deserving in winning “Best Achievement in Art Direction”, “Best Achievement in Cinematography” and “Best Achievement in Visual Effects”.

She goes on to say that the film was under the weight of clumsy storytelling in the second half and like many sci-fi films, there must be action. You know early on that there is a war coming between the humans and the Na’vi. It’s expected, it’s going to happen and yes, you are going to lose some of that emotional connect through those sequences. And the “godawful dialogue”, I did mention this earlier on in my review that I felt that the character of Jake Skully was getting near Channing Tatum’s Duke but for “Avatar”, it works. Skully is introduced in the beginning as someone completely opposite of his intellectual brother and it shows.

But similar to Zacharek, I was surprised that “Village Voice” critic J. Hoberman would feel the same about the second half as well. Hoberman writes, “For the first 45 minutes, I’m thinking: Metropolis!—and wondering how to amend ballots already cast in polls of the year’s best movies. Then the 3-D wears off, and the long second act kicks in.”

I found the comment to be quite interesting and for the most part, I can see where Hoberman is coming from in comparisons of both films. Where the Fritz Lang epic featured a man from the upper-level associating with and underground woman in which the underground has been subjective to corporate corruption to its highest level, I see the connection but at the same time, comparing “Metropolis” and “Avatar” is comparing apples to oranges. Where both films feature a revolt, “Metropolis” denizens have lived their monotonous life the same every day and are not warriors. In “Avatar”, the Na’vi are losing their homeland, their planet is being destroyed and they have either the choice to give up and move to another area or fight. And what kind of film would “Avatar” be if we watched these warriors being displaced?

The second half needed that battle and like “Metropolis”, where Freder joins Maria in the grand fight, Sully joining the Na’vi was just right! That battle needed to be epic and for an audience who have sat that long at the theater for something grand to happen, this was their pay off. Yes, the film is pragmatic but for a sci-fi film, it works and definitely not kitsch.

The detail of this film is amazing. On Blu-ray, it’s fantastic! The detail and vibrant colors come alive in full effect. The characters on both the human and Na’vi side are believable and the acting is not forced. I admit that very early on the film, I thought about the character of Jake Sully (and no offense to Sam Worthington) but we were going to get something similar to Channing Tatum’s Duke (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) and deal with a character that was concerned about his own virility and place as a soldier on Pandora but that is not the case. Worthington’s Sully is a man is a disabled man who has found new life using his Avatar, the ability to take part in lifestyle of the Omaticaya, embrace it and find love with Neytiri, the planet and its inhabitants.

And with this latest release of the “Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition”, there are just hours of special features included on the two Blu-ray discs and also special features also on BD-Live that really gives you hours and hours of “Avatar” viewing pleasure, especially for those who want to know the technical side of “Avatar”, the roles that people played in the making of the film and also to learn how James Cameron had a lot of the story of “Avatar” in his head way before “Titanic” was even made.  The problem back then was the technology to create “Avatar” was not available and although Cameron and producer Jon Landau discussed the possibilities of the film, it was just too difficult to even conceive at that time.

So, this is a really solid release PQ, AQ and special-feature wise.  It is quite simply a magnificent release that achieves perfection in every level that video and audiophiles should be extremely happy with the release of this extended collector’s edition.  Pretty much, it all comes down to whether or not you enjoyed the film.  Months after its release, I have met people who have loved and those who disliked the film (more people who enjoyed it than disliked it).  And if you are one of those people who did love it, “Avatar: Extended Collector’ Edition” is a must-buy, must-own Blu-ray release.

Although the year is not yet over, I am quite confident that “Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition” will be my top pick for “2010 Blu-ray Release of the Year”.   Highly recommended!

Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The final season of “Lost” may have started out a bit confusing with the flash-sideways episodes but the more you stuck with it, by the time the series ended, you can’t help but feel happy of how wonderful the series ended.  One of the greatest series of all time on television has come to an end and this Blu-ray release of the final sixth season is not only a fitting goodbye to the series but a final way to tie-up a few loose ends for fans of the series.  If you are a fan of “Lost”, this Blu-ray release is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © ABC Studios. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season

COMPANY: abc studios

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/16-bit), French and Spanish 5.1 DTS. Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles

DURATION: 802 minutes

RATING: TV 14 DSLV

RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2010

Created by J.J. Abrams

Directed by Jack Bender, Stephen Williams, PaulA. Edwards, Tucker Gates, Eric Laneuville, Greg Yaitanes, Rod Holcomb, Bobby Roth

Written by J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Brian K. Vaughan, Drew Goddard

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Jack Bender, Carlton Cuse

Co-Executive Producer Jean Higgins, Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Stephen Williams

Produced by Ra’uf Glasgow, Patricia Churchill, Stephen Williams

Music by Michael Giacchino

Cinematography by John S. Bartley, Cort Fey

Edited by Stephen Semel, Mark Goldman, Mary Jo Markey

Casting by April Webster, Veronica Collins

Production Design by Zack Grobler and Jonathan A. Carlson

Art Direction by Tim Beach, Luke Freeborn, Scott Meehan

Set Decoration by Carole Bayne Kelley, Julieann Getman

Costume Design by Roland Sanchez

Starring:

Matthew Fox as Jack Shephard

Naveen Andrews as Sayid Jarrah

Jorge Garcia as Hugo “Hurley” Reyes

Josh Holloway as James “Sawyer” Ford

Daniel Dae Kim as Jin Kwon

Yunjin Kim as Sun Kwon

Evangeline Lilly as Kate Austen

Terry O’Quinn as John Locke

Emilie de Ravin as Claire Littleton

Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet Burke

Michael Emerson as Ben Linus

Henry Ian Cusick as Desmond Hume

Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday

Ken Leung as Miles Straume

Rebecca Mader as Charlotte Lewis

Malcolm David Kelley as Walt Lloyd

L. Scott Caldwell as Rose Henderson

Sam Anderson as Bernard Nadler

Michelle Rodriguez as Ana-Lucia Cortez

Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert

Maggie Grace as Shannon Rutherford

Ian Somerhalder as Boone Carlisle

Michelle Rodriguez as Ana Lucia Cortez

Cynthia Watros as Libby Smith

Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday

Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert

Malcolm David Kelley as Walt Lloyd

Rebecca Mader as Charlotte Lewis

John Terry as Christian Shephard

Alan Dale as Charles Widmore

Francois Chau as Dr. Pierre Chang

Sonya Walger as Penelope Widmore

Mark Pelligrino as Jacob

Titus Welliver as the Samuel/Man in Black

With the release of Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final Season, audiences can relive every episode in the landmark final season, as the fate of each character and answers to long-pondered mysteries from the previous seasons, are revealed. In addition, the Blu-ray and DVD releases contain hours of never-before-seen bonus footage including deleted scenes; bloopers; an often emotional featurette where cast, crew, writers, producers and other Hollywood notables discuss ending the acclaimed series; a much-anticipated new chapter of the island’s story from Executive Producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse; and much more. An epic box set for the ultimate LOST fan, Lost: The Complete Collection is a fantastic icon-clad, secretladen,

Blu-ray and DVD box set containing every episode, from all six seasons. Additionally, the elaborate release includes over 30 hours of bonus material (from every season), plus one full disc of bonus exclusive to the collection, containing a fascinating array of all-new behind-the-scenes featurettes; documentaries; and a series of unique tours of Oahu with many of the cast as they reflect anecdotes, experiences and emotions of working on the series and living on the island; and more.

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Since 2005, the hit ABC drama “LOST” has captured our attention. As we watched the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 brave through harsh conditions in a once thought uninhabited island, dealing with a monster black cloud which no one knows about, finding out there is a group known as “The Others” trying to kidnap people in their group let alone dealing with traitor(s) within the group and dealing with a computer that has a button that must pushed within a certain time period or else disaster.

When it was announced that the creators of “LOST” wanted a resolution to the drama series and end it while they are still on top (planned for 2010), many fans and even the cast were happy about it. There’s only so much story of these survivors staying in the island that people can take and suffice to say, viewers have been waiting for answers to their questions since the first season. And here we are now approaching 2010, awaiting the final season of “LOST” only a few months away and here comes a 5-disc Blu-ray release that not only surpasses previous releases, it definitely sets the bar higher than any television series released thus far.

To know “LOST”, let’s go back to 2005, when the series was developed by J.J. Abrams who was known for his TV series “Felicity” and “Alias” and joined by a talented team which includes executive producer and writer Damon Lindelof (“Crossing Jordan”), executive producer and writer Carlton Cuse (“Nash Bridges”, “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”) , writer Jeffrey Lieber, producer Ra’uf Glasgow (“The Big Easy” and “Profiler”), Jack Bender (“Eight is Enough” and “Beverly Hills 90210”), Bryan Burke (“Alias”) and Jean Higgins (“CSI: Miami”) .

The series won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Drama Series” and series creator J.J. Abrams was award an Emmy in September 2005. The series also won the Writers Guild of America Awards for “Outstanding Achievement in Writing for a Dramatic Television Series”, 2005 Producer Guild Awards for “Best Production” and the 2005 Director’s Guild Award for “Best Direction of a Dramatic Television Program” and the “Screen Actors Guild Awards 2005” for Best Ensemble Cast. The series also done well overseas where it won a British Academy of Film and Television Award for “Best American Import” in 2005. Also, Terry O’Quinn won a Saturn Award for “Best Supporting Actor. in 2006, both Jorge Garcia and Michelle Rodriguez won an ALMA Award for “Best Supporting Actor” and “Best Supporting Actress” in a television series. Garcia winning the award once again in 2008. Michael Emerson has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy for “Outstanding Supporting Director” from 2007-2009 and winning the award in 2009. And this is just a few of the awards won for the crew, talent of the series.

So, what is “LOST”? “LOST” is a drama series revolved around the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 who are marooned on an island. While flying over the island, their airplane broke apart into three sections on an island. Of the 324 passengers of Oceanic Flight 815, there were a total of 71 survivors and a dog. The survivors learned quickly that there is something mysterious about the island. For some, those who have been sick or even handicapped have suddenly become healed. And for others, the island has been nothing but full of unknown things which include science labs in the middle of nowhere, monsters that take the shape of a black cloud and it all started with the discovery of a hatch. And as mentioned before, discovering that the island was once inhabited by a group called the Dharma Initiative and that there are people who are not too thrilled that the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are on their island…these people that have been called “The Others”.

Of course, the goal for these survivors since crashing on the island was to get off. Attempt after attempt, it was until last season when six people dubbed “The Oceanic 6” (Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, baby Aaron – the son of Claire Littleton, Sun Kwon, Sayid Jarrah and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes) who were part of the Oceanic Flight 815 were able to escape the island and in order to protect them and to prevent any suspicion, the six have decided to protect the remaining survivors by telling the media that no one survived the crash but them.

But all is not right in the island as Benjamin who knew the island’s secrets could have been exposed, did something to the island in order to hide it. Not knowing the repercussions of the act, Ben was able to escape the island.

In season four, we learned that life has not been exactly to kind to “The Oceanic 6”. Jack for some reason has become a suicidal drug addict; Kate has raised Claire’s baby Aaron as her own but her relationship with Jack has soured; Sun has nothing but revenge on her mind and is willing to work with Charles Widmore to find the island and get back and Ben; Sayid Jarrah loses someone precious and ends up working for Ben and Hurley starts seeing his dead friends and thinks he is going insane and thus is held in a mental institution.

In season five, we saw the Oceanic 6 deal with their present situation at home and due to situations that were affecting them in their personal life and things not going so right, they know they need to return back to the island to make things right.  Because of the changes in the island, the island starts to shift back and forth in time (thus episodes dealing with flash forward and time travel) and seeing the losties that were left on the island suddenly going back in time to 1977 when the Dharma Initiative is just beginning their research on the island.

In 2007, we are introduced to a new group of Losties via the Ajira Airways Flight 316 that has recently crashed into the island.  We start to learn that these losties are quite familiar with what is going on in the island.   And we are introduced to the man named Jacob who has been pulling the strings of many people.  Who is this man?

In season six, the series focuses on the aftermath of Juliet detonating the nuclear bomb and we start to see each of the Losties in their current present timeline on the island and their flash-sideways timeline where their lives have played out differently.   Also, we start to learn more about the mysterious Jacob and also the true identity of who is behind the smoke monster.  The camps are divided, who will follow the Others and who will follow the mysterious Man in Black. Who is right and who is wrong?  Who will live and who will die?  “Lost” concludes with these final 18 episodes for season 6.

“LOST” focuses on the following characters which include:

Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) – A doctor who has had a tough relationship with his father. He has become the leader of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. He is one of the people who escapes the island and has been affected with guilt and has major problems in the present time. He feels that he and the others who have escaped the island must go back.

Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly) – A wanted felon for murdering her father. One of the people who escapes from the island and has raised Claire’s baby Aaron as her own. Unknown to viewers but seen at the end of Season 3 and parts of Season 4, her relationship with Jack has soured for some reason.

James “Sawyer” Ford (Josh Holloway) – A conman who is the rebel on the island. He and Kate have had romantic times together on the island which puts him at odds with Jack. Was about to leave the island with the six but due to the lack of gas, he opted to stay behind in order for Kate to return back home.

Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews) – A former member of the Iraqui Republican Guard. One of the people who escaped from the island and has had nothing but trouble since his return back. He now works for Ben.

John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) – Mysterious and a man who was once crippled but somehow the island has healed him. He believes they are on the island for a reason and embraces the island, to the chagrin of Jack which puts the two at odds with each other.

Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin) – A single mother of a baby named Aaron. She gave Aaron to Kate to take care of him and bring him to safety back in the US.

Jin Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim) – Jin is married to Sun and loves her unconditionally, but sacrificed his life to save his wife and unborn baby. Did he survive after the events of the finale of season 4?

Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim) – Daughter of a ruthless businessman, she married Jin. She is now pregnant and has given birth to her son in the US. But wants revenge for her husband’s death and will do what it takes to get back at Ben Linus.

Hugo “Hurley” Reyes (Jorge Garcia) – Hurley is a millionaire who used numbers that keep popping to win the lottery. But for Hurley, these numbers have only brought him bad luck and has sent him several times to the mental ward. He is one of the main people who have escaped the island in season 4.

Rose Henderson (L. Scott Caldwell) and Bernard Nadler (Sam Anderson) – Rose is a woman who has terminal cancer but it seems the island has healed her and similar to Locke, she has embraced the island. She and her husband Bernard try to make life as positive as they can in the island, Bernard who at first wanted to leave the island but seeing his wife alive and healthy prompts him to want to stay in the island.

Other Characters:

Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) – A fertility scientist who joined the Others to find out why pregnant mothers were not giving birth on the island. Was only supposed to stay for a short time but coerced by Benjamin Linus to stay. Every woman pregnant and their baby have died but somehow Claire was able to give birth and Sun is also pregnant. She has had a romantic fling with Jack in the past but now is left behind with Sawyer, the other survivors and the science crew.

Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) – The man responsible for killing many of the people of the Dharma Initiative. Believes he was sent by a powerful being to protect the island but is now confused because the island is starting to favor John Locke. A mysterious man who has an unknown agenda and a master at lying and manipulating people. He wants revenge against Charles Widmore for the death of his daughter Danielle (who the Others kidnapped from Rousseau).

Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusack) – Was stuck on the island for three years maintaining the reset for the island computer. He dreamed of reuniting with his girlfriend Penny Widmore and unaware that she has been searching for him for years. Has had a case of deja vu of remembering the island and experiences (that haven’t happened yet).

The Search Team:

Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) – A scientist and physicist who understands what is going on with the island. Part of the original team that were sent to find Benjamin Linus but also to dismantle the nuclear bomb on the island. Has a romantic fling with Charlotte.

Miles Straume (Ken Leung) – A medium who is sarcastic and finds himself at odds with the Oceanic survivors at times. His father ran the Dharma Initiative and was hired by Charles Widmore to find Benjamin Linus.

Charlotte Lewis (Rebecca Mader) – A cultural anthropologist who has a tie to the island but not remember why. Has a romantic fling with Daniel.

The sixth season of “LOST” aired on February 2010 with a total of 18 episodes aired. The two-part finale aired on on May 2010 and all 18 episodes are presented on five Blu-ray discs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode from the final season 6:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 104-105: LAX – A two part episode and the aftermath of Juliet detonating the nuclear bomb.  We are introduced to the flash-sideways storyline (2004) for each character in which the bomb may have successfully changed the future (2007).
  • EPISODE 106: What Kate Does – In the flash-sideways storyline, Kate helps a pregnant Claire.  Meanwhile, in the original timeline, The Others try to save Sayid who may be infected.
  • EPISODE 107: The Substitute – In the flash-sideways storyline, the story focuses on the life of John Locke.  Meanwhile, in the original timeline, we learn that John Locke may not appear to be the real John Locke and maybe someone else.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 108: Lighthouse – In the flash-sideways storyline, we see the life of Jack who is married and has a son named David.  Meanwhile, in the original timeline, Jack and Hurley go on a mission to the lighthouse.
  • EPISODE 109: Sundown – In the flash-sideways storyline, we see how Sayid is happily married and tries to stay away from any violence.  In the original timeline, the man in black gives an ultimatum to those staying in the temple.
  • EPISODE 110: Dr. Linus – In the flash-sideways storyline, we learn about Dr. Benjamin Linus and his job as teacher.  Meanwhile, in the original timeline, the Man in Black tries to recruit Ben.
  • EPISODE 111: Recon – In the flash-sideways storyline, James “Sawyer” Ford and Miles Straume work for the LAPD.  In the original timeline, the Man in Black sends Sawyer to spy on the survivors of Ajira Airways Flight 316.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 112: Ab Aeterno – In the flash-sideways storyline, we learn about Richard Alpert and his life in 1867 and how he got to the island.  In the original timeline, Llana explains to the survivors what the job of the candidate is for and who has been selected.
  • EPISODE 113: The Package – In the flash-sideways storyline, we see how Jin and Sun meet each other in this timeline.  In the original timeline, the Man in Black and Charles Widmore confront each other.
  • EPISODE 114: Happily Ever After – In the flash-sideways storyline, Desmond’s flash-sideways life in that timeline somehow correlates with Desmond in the original timeline.
  • EPISODE 115: Everybody Loves Hugo – In the flash-sideways storyline, Hugo goes on a blind date with a woman named Libby.  In the original timeline, Michael reappears and sends Hurley on a mission.

DISC 4:

  • EPISODE 116: The Last Recruit – In the flash-sideways timeline, Desmond sets his mission into action and meets with each character in that timeline.  In the original timeline, The Man in Black sends Sayid to kill Desmond.
  • EPISODE 117: The Candidate – In the flash-sideways timeline, Jack offers his help to perform surgery on Locke.  In the original timeline, Jack and friends try to escape via submarine.
  • EPISODE 118: Across the Sea – The history of Jacob, his brother and his mother Claudia and the role they have in the island.
  • EPISODE 119: What They Died For – In the flash-sideways timeline, Desmond continues his mission by trying to get everyone together and Ben begins to have a flashback from the original timeline.  In the original timeline, Jack and Kate seek revenge from the Man in Black after the death of their friends.

DISC 5:

  • EPISODE 120-121: THE END – A two part episode, as Jack and Kate go after the Man in Black, meanwhile Desmond continues his mission to make things right with the two timelines. The final episode.

Similar to the previous “LOST” Blu-ray releases, the Blu-ray’s allow for “SeasonPlay” which allows people to watch as they go and can stop, restart where they last left off. “SeasonPlay” is optional and people can select it before watching an episode.

VIDEO:

“Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season” is a series that looks incredible on High Definition. Featured in 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio of 1:78:1), the detail of the island is captured quite vibrantly. The green lush plants that surround the island, the blue skies, the blue ocean. Personally, most of the video footage shot in Hawaii tend to be vibrant in colors and “LOST” is no exception. This final season’s offering continues its wonderful presentation on Blu-ray. You can see the skin pores much more closely, even the stubble or sweat on the faces of the characters, the mucky water, detail of the plants in the dense jungle, the rocky earthtones, the brownish/reds inside the Dharma buildings and just regular objects, the stained blood on the skin of the characters, you can actually see that the blood is actually dry and much, much more.

There is a lot of detail that you just don’t see on television and when you see it on Blu-ray, especially for “Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season”, you can’t help but be amazed. The colors are just fantastic as blue oceans and blue skies are surrounded by beautiful lush greenery. Blacks are nice and dark and skin tones are natural.

Another wonderful presentation of “Lost” on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “LOST” is featured in DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1. The dialogue is quite clear but one thing that caught my attention is how magnificent the audio is in terms of capturing the ambiance of the island when each person is moving through the jungle. This season tends to have used more panning and audio directional to certain speaker channels much more evident than the first season. Also, sounds of the smoke monster and the growls to the ambiance of the island, explosions, earthquakes, the chanting  of the voices of the island and if anything, they really went all out in destruction and chaos with this latest season.

Audio comes quite clear through the various surround channels. Also, good use of surrounds and LFE. Dialogue is crisp, clear and understandable and the music also comes out alive during certain scenes.

I love how the music for the series sounds and how it really brought an overall mood to certain scenes. The music by Michael Giacchino and the way the orchestra creates that tension for the scenes was awesome. So, music plays a big part in the series and the music soundtrack is just wonderful!  So, once again, “Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season” delivers in lossless audio.  Fantastic!

Subtitles are featured in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The Blu-ray edition of “Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season” is featured in 1080p High Definition and 480i Standard Definition.  Audio is in English 2.0 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish. Included are:

DISC 1:

  • Lost Starter Kit – (8:26) Get up to speed on what has happened in “LOST” from the last five seasons.
  • Audio Commentary for “LAX” by Executive Producers and Co-Creator/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof and Executive Producer Carlton Cuse.

DISC 2:

  • Audio Commentary for “Dr. Linus” with commentary from Executive Producers and Writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz along with actor Michael Emerson.

DISC 3:

  • Audio Commentary for “Ab Aeterno” with commentary from writers Melinda Hsu Taylor, Greggory Nations and actor Nestor Carbonell.

DISC 4:

  • Audio Commentary for “Across the Sea” by Executive Producers and Co-Creator/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof and Executive Producer Carlton Cuse.

DISC 5:

  • Lost University: Master’s Program – For those who have Blu-ray 2.0 profile players and are hooked up to the Internet can be part of Lost University. An excerpt from the explanation of “Lost University”: Viewers will be able to join LOST executive producers Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, the cast of “LOST,” and a panel of esteemed experts for a vast array of courses at LOST University, delving into the themes and storylines regularly explored on the groundbreaking television series. The main campus of “LOST University” will live on the “LOST: The Complete Fifth Season” Blu-ray disc and will be powered by BDLive. Upon launching the innovative interface, students immediately get access to their personalized lesson plans, compelling HD Audio-Visual presentations and communication from the LOST University faculty and staff. Like any real university, campus life at LOST University is not solely focused on higher learning, pop quizzes and homework. Through an extended web experience, students will be able to pay visits to the campus bookstore to purchase LOST U merchandise, or discuss their school experience and “LOST” theories through study-groups on the LOST University message boards. Potential students will even have the opportunity to prep for the LOST U experience in advance on www.lostuniversity.org with story and character refresher courses and advanced reading suggestions.

With that being said, I did try out a few classes, watched a few professors (actual college professors) give their lectures on several subjects such as literature and then I took two exams on the first day.  I actually like the concept of how the Lost University is implemented on the Blu-ray releases and probably one of the best uses of BD-Live thus far.  The video streaming was fine and I didn’t have any problems with this feature at all.

  • The New Man in Charge – (11:55) The epilogue which has been hyped in many publications in which executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have been teasing us with.  Answers to a few questions that people have had.  This epilogue features Dr. Ben Linus, Dr. Chang, Hurley and Walt.  The questions regarding the polar bears and also with Walt is revealed and let’s just say that I had a smile on my face after watching this.  Presented in HD.
  • Crafting a Final Season – (38:33) Featuring the cast, executive producers, writers and crew working on the final season of “LOST”.  Everyone reflects on working on the last episode.  Presented in HD.
  • See You in Another Life, Brotha – (8:38) A featurette about the flash sideways and the return of previous cast members.  Presented in HD.
  • A Hero’s Journey – (8:52) A featurette about the hero’s of “LOST” and to see how certain characters have evolved through the series.  The cast discuss the concept of hero’s in the show.  Presented in HD.
  • Lost on Location: (28:40) Featuring “LOST” shot in different locations in Hawaii and how certain episodes were created.  Scenes featured in this featurette are: LAX, The Substitute, Recon, Ab Aeterno, Happily Ever After and The Candidate.  From the stunts and cliff shots, the Other’s temple, the Sawyer police scenes, the Alpert past history scenes, Desmond’s car accident scene, the flooded submarine scene and more.  Presented in HD.
  • Deleted Scenes: (9:39) A total of nine deleted scenes presented in standard definition.  Featuring the deleted scenes: On Guard, Bearing Fruit, Maternal Instincts, Parched, A Helping Hand, Fatalities, The Lab & the Well, Epiphany and Desmond’s Task.
  • Lost Bloopers – (4:09) “Lost” season six outtakes.

EASTER EGGS:

  • On Disc 5, hit left on “Season Play” and the dot will go to Jacob’s head.  You will access the following easter egg: (:53) Yunjin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim and Josh Holloway goofing off behind-the-scenes in the submerged sub.

“Lost” was an amazing experience since the beginning.  Meeting new friends and debating topics that I have never done with a TV series before, it was just a fantastic ride with its ups and downs and each episode just capturing my attention and for the most part, just embracing everything that had come out.  From the audio books, the web episodes, the videogame,  the podcasts, the magazine, you name it…I was loving every minute of “Lost” and what the writers had to provide for us.

And then it came to this final season and I admit that the flash-sideways episodes were a bit confusing.  In fact, I was wondering where this was all heading and right after each episode, I would head to the Fuselage to see how everyone else was interpreting these flash-sideways storylines.  Was I missing something?  Was I not enjoying these flash-sideways as much and I was more into the original timeline?

But the more we got into the series and to see how Desmond had this connection between the two timelines, I just started to have this silly grin on my face while watching this series because we had a sense that Desmond had to play an important part in this series and then things slowly started to unravel.

But then the original timeline also started to unravel and we didn’t know who would turn evil, we don’t know what would happen with Sayid and what will happen between Jack, Kate and Sawyer.  And for me, I was so happy to see Jin and Sun back together but then to find myself devastated and sad after watching “The Candidate” where favorite characters we have followed for years, were killed off.  We knew something was going to happen, we just didn’t know who.  And I admit, I was so bummed out, it affected me the day after.

And then it was time for the final episode and I just felt it was the most fantastic ending for a series on television that I have seen.  Granted, the final episode had a lot to do with faith and if anything, your appreciation for the series as a whole.  I found myself going online and having to explain the finale to so many people.  But it was quite interesting to read of how the finale affected people.  Many, like myself, who absolutely loved it and then those who were upset with the finale and a lot of loose ends not being tied up.

And here we are with the Blu-ray release of “Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season”.  Hyped by many publications and even brought up on the night after the finale on the Jimmy Kimmel “Lost” special about how Executive Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof will tie up those loose ends on the Blu-ray and DVD release.  So, needless to say, many fans of the series have been awaiting this release.  And with all said and done, the 12-minute epilogue was satisfying.  It may not answer all questions but it does answer the question that relates to Walt (and also the polar bears).

Like every previous release of “Lost” we are treated with a good amount of special features.  I wish there were more audio commentary featured (especially for the final episode) and I wish the web episodes or even the Jimmy Kimmel special was included on this Blu-ray but overall, you do get many special features like the previous season box sets and you also get the latest version of “Lost University” (note: you must have a Blu-ray 2.0 player to play this.  So, if your Blu-ray is connected to the Internet, you can view this feature).

As for the Blu-ray release of “Lost – The Complete Sixth Season – The Final Season”, the picture quality is again, amazing.   The detail can be easily seen on Blu-ray and  things that never caught my attention when watching the episodes on television, have now caught my attention this time around. From the skin pores and even the hair on one’s arm, to the lush plants and the coarse rocks, the blood, the sweat… the amount of detail that pops is simply amazing.  Audio quality is also used very well through all channels and because we see the smoke monster quite a bit and also quite a bit of explosions and destruction in this final season, lossless audio was well utilized and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray.

Overall, this series was a fitting conclusion to this fantastic series.  Many months since the conclusion of the series, people continue to debate the series finale and I’m sure with the epilogue, there are people who will continue to debate the series throughout the rest of the year.

But in the end, the series did touch millions of people worldwide.  May they be content or upset of how the series unfolded throughout the six seasons, it’s all subjective.  But overall, for me, I was quite content with how the series played out from beginning to end.  Do I still have questions in regards to the series?  I sure do (especially when it comes to the characters of Eloise and Jacob).  But on the grand scale of how the writers resolved many of the important questions of the series, I was content with how the final season played out and I admit to feeling a bit saddened that this series, which had become a favorite of mine for six years, is now over.

“Lost” is definitely the most compelling, entertaining and enthralling drama series to air on television and the cast and crew made sure to end the series on a positive note.   If you have purchased all seasons on Blu-ray, this is a no-brainer and easily a must-buy.  Highly recommended!

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