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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

September 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For fans of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and have the equipment to play 4K Ultra HD films, then definitely upgrade to this 4K Ultra HD 35th Anniversary release.  The film looks and sounds better than ever and I highly recommend Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on 4K Ultra HD.

Images courtesy of © 1982 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1982

DURATION: 1 Hr. and 55 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition, English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

COMPANY: Universal

RATED: PG

RELEASE DATE: September 12, 2017


Directed by Steven Spielberg

Screenplay by Melissa Mathison

Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

Associate Producer:  Melissa Mathison

Music by John Williams

Cinematography by Allen Daviau

Edited by Carol Littleton

Casting by Jane Feinberg, Mike Fenton, Marci Liroff

Production Design by James D. Bissell

Set Decoration by Jackie Carr

Costume Design by Kurt and Bart


Starring:

Dee Wallace as Mary

Henry Thomas as Elliott

Peter Coyote as Keys

Robert MacNaughton as Michael

Drew Barrymore as Gertie

K.C. Martel as Greg

Sean Frye as Steve

C. Thomas Howell as Tyler

Erika Eleniak as Pretty Girl


Relive the adventure and magic in one of the most beloved motion pictures of all-time, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, from Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg. Captivating audiences of all ages, this timeless story follows the unforgettable journey of a lost alien and the 10-year-old boy he befriends. Join Elliot (Henry Thomas), Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and Michael (Robert MacNaughton) as they come together to help E.T. find his way back home, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is “one of the great American films” (Leonard Maltin) that forever belongs in the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere.


As the film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” celebrates its 35th anniversary this year and 2017 features the film’s debut on 4K Ultra HD.

There is no denying how beloved this film is.  A personal film created and directed by Steven Spielberg, the concept came from his imaginary friend that he had after his parents divorce in 1960.  He and writer Melissa Mathison would eventually develop the film and with a budget of $10.5 million, the film would become the highest-grossing film of all time for eleven years until Spielberg topped it in 1993 with his film “Jurassic Park”.

But “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is well-known for everyone going out to watch the film, critics praised the film and for “Star Wars” fans, remembering that “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” would overthrow the film as the highest-grossing film but yet paying a homage to the film by featuring the toys in the film.

The film would launch Steven Spielberg’s career, it would also launch the careers of young Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore, but also would featuring up-and-coming talent with C. Thomas Howell and Erika Eleniak. While talents Dee Wallace and Peter Coyote had established careers, their careers would no doubt receive a boost from “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”.  And for producer Kathleen Kennedy, it was a beginning of what would become a string of consecutive high-grossing films in her producing oeuvre.

Considered by many as the greatest film ever made, in 1994, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The film was re-released in 1985, would have a 20th Anniversary release in 2002 which featured a new premiere and a reunion of the cast and it’s first release on DVD.  And here we are in 2017 as the film will be celebrating it’s 35th Anniversary and the film makes its debut on 4K Ultra HD.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” begins with alien botanists landing in a forest in California.  As they are obtaining plant samples, government agents arrive on scene and as the aliens flee in their spaceship, one is left behind.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to a ten-year-old boy named Elliott (portrayed by Henry Thomas) who is trying to fit in with his brother Michael (portrayed by Robert MacNaughton) and his friends, but also living with his recently-separated mother Mary (portrayed by Dee Wallace) and his younger sister Gertie (portrayed by Drew Barrymore).

As Elliott goes outside to meet with the pizza delivery person and get pizza for his brother’s party, he hears a noise inside the shed.  As he throws a baseball towards the shed, someone throws the ball back at him.

Freaking out, he runs inside telling everyone something is in the shed.  And when Michael and his friends go to check, they see footprints and suspect a coyote.

As Elliott doesn’t believe it’s a coyote and thinks it may be a goblin, he is made fun of by Michael and his friends.

This leads Elliott to do a test by placing Reese’s Pieces candy to see if he can lure whatever it maybe to his home and sure enough, he is able to lure an alien to his home.

Elliott eventually introduces Michael and also Gertie to the alien and they decide to keep it hidden from their mother.

The alien which they name E.T. is an intelligent life form that learns from the humans and tries to show them where he lives by levitating balls and also he revives a dead chrysanthemum.

It’s not long after, Elliott and E.T. begin to share a psychic connection.  Meanwhile, government agents start to do research around the forest and find Reese’s Pieces and are thinking that the alien was lured to a nearby neighborhood.  And start to use listening devices to hear any conversations that may be going on the neighborhood to see if someone had lured the alien to their home.

Meanwhile, the longer E.T. stays in Earth, Michael starts to notice that E.T. is getting sick and after seeing a comic strip featuring Buck Rogers, E.T. sees how humans are able to have devices to call home and E.T. tries to find ways to make a device to communicate with his fellow aliens to come back and retrieve him on Earth.

But as E.T. is getting sicker and the government agents are nearby, what will happen to both E.T.and Elliott, who is showing signs of being sick like E.T. as they both share a psychic connection.


VIDEO:

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” receives its first 4K Ultra HD K Ultra HD release and is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition. The film is presented in 2160p UD HDR 10 Widescreen 1:85:1.

Having watched this film on DVD upon its first release and then on Blu-ray, I can easily say that the 4K Ultra HD is fantastic.  For the most part, the film doesn’t even seem ’80s because the resolution is so great.  But during the scenes with visual effects (such as Elliot and E.T. bike scene on air), the technology of its time does show its age in that moment.  Bu for the most part, this is the best version of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” that I have seen to date!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI (Category 2) Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio quality is equally impressive. Featured in English DTS-X Immersive Audio, Brazilian, Portuguese, French European, Japanese, L.A. Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1 and English, Japanese DTS Digital Surround 2.0.

The film has a blend of crystal clear dialogue and the musical score by John Williams is spectacular!

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” comes with the following special features (on the Blu-ray Disc):

  • Deleted Scenes – (3:37) Deleted scenes from the film.
  • Steen Spielberg & E.T. – (12:31) Steven Spielberg discusses how he created E.T. and how he came up with the concept of the film.
  • The E.T. Journals – (53:37) A two-part documentary on the making of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” back in 1981.
  • A Look Back – (37:43) A look back during the film of “E.T.” with behind-the-scenes footage and also interviews with cast and crew.
  • The Evolution and Creation of E.T. – (50:13) A featurette on the making of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”
  • The E.T. Reunion – (17:55) The 20th Anniversary Reunion with Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, K.C. Martel, Peter Coyote, Steven Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy.
  • The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams – (10:03) A featurette with John Williams on creating the music for “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”.
  • The 20th Anniversary Premiere – (17:49) A featurette of planning the 20th Anniversary Premiere with a live orchestra conducted by John Williams and setting up the stage at the Shrine Auditorium.
  • Designs, Photographs and Marketing – Featuring E.T. designs by production illustrator Ed Verreaux, E.T. Designs by Carla Rambaldi, Spaceship Designs by Ralph McQuarrie, Designs by Production Illustrator Ed Verreaux, Production Photographs and Marketing E.T.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Special Olympics TV Spot

EXTRAS:

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


I grew up during the time “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” was released in theaters.  I can easily remember going to my uncle’s wedding in Reno, Nevada and hearing the news on the radio of how the film became the highest-grossing film of all time.

But the “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” madness didn’t end there, I purchased an Atari game which was supposed to be based on the film that frustrated me to no end and I also had a life-size E.T. toy chest, which my brother and I would use to scare my little sister when she was misbehaving.

I have to admit that I was indifferent towards the film, a little bit bitter as the film would kick “Star Wars” out of the top spot of highest-grossing films of all time.  But yet, each time I watched the film, I could see it’s charm, I could see why it attracted people to want to watch it many times.

And as I got older, I watched the film and appreciated it even more.  Especially when I first introduced the film to my child and he got to watch it and enjoy it.

And having watched this film many times, here I am reviewing it for the 35th anniversary release on 4K Ultra HD.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is a film that captivates you.  A young boy who meets his first true friend and having to lose that friend.  A sci-fi film which government agents want to capture the alien and learn from it.  An action film as the children do whatever they can to protect their sick friend.  And the fact that the child actors believed E.T. to not be a puppet but like a living being, is what sold the film to audiences.

And even back for the film’s 20th Anniversary, the cast talked honestly about how they never thought about E.T. as a puppet but as an actual thing that was truly alive and that was quite fascinating.

It’s a film that moved audiences, a film that moved President Reagan and his wife, a film that moved Princess Diana and it was a film that was no doubt a masterpiece by Steven Spielberg who would go on to make many more wonderful films in his long oeuvre.

And it’s a film that will no doubt stand the test of time with a new generation of moviegoers.

Now there are a few things I must discuss, for those who owned the 20th Anniversary version which had both the theatrical and the 20th Anniversary Extended Version of the film.  The 2002 version digitally removed the guns used by government agents with walkie talkies (towards the end of the film).

In 2011, Steven Spielberg made it clear that there will be no more digital enhancements and perhaps he learned by fan backlash of the George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” trilogy and also backlash from critics and also ridiculed in a “South Park” episode, no doubt Spielberg learned a lesson.  He has made it clear that he wants people to watch the original 1982 version and sure enough, with the 4K Ultra HD release, you are getting the 1982 film and yes, the agents have their guns.  And no, the 2002 version is not included.  So, if you like that version, keep (or find) that 2002 20th Anniversary DVD release.

As far as the 4K Ultra HD version is concerned, this is the best version I have seen of this film to date.  While created in 1982, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on 4K Ultra HD doesn’t even look its age.  It looks almost recent, aside from when the bike flying scene is shown, that is the only time where old technology and 4K Ultra HD tends to show the aging visual effects of its time.  But other than that, everything else about this film looks great in 4K!  The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue especially crystal clear music from John Williams.  And last, all the 20th Anniversary special features from the DVD are included in this release and more.

Overall, for fans of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and have the equipment to play 4K Ultra HD films, then definitely upgrade to this 4K Ultra HD 35th Anniversary release.  The film looks and sounds better than ever and I highly recommend Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on 4K Ultra HD.

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

November 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For Dahl fans, “The BFG” is a magical, entertaining and delightful film. It’s also a wonderful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, brought to life by filmmaker Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison that will entertain families for generations to come. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The BFG

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 118 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (2:39:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Description Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG (For Action, Peril, Some Scary Moments and Brief Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: November 29, 2016


Directed by Steven Spielberg

Based on the Book by Roald Dahl

Screenplay by Melissa Mathison

Produced by Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer, Steven Spielberg

Co-Producer: Adam Somner

Associate Producer: Melissa Mathison

Executive Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, Kristie Macosko Krieger, John Madden, Michael Siegel

Music by John Williams

Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski

Edited by Michael Kahn

Production Design by Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg

Art Direction by Chris Beach, Margot Ready, Todd Cherniawsky, Grant Van Der Slagt, Rebecca Milton

Set Decoration by Michael A. Billings, Elizabeth Wilcox

Costume Design by Joanna Johnston


Starring:

Mark Rylance as BFG

Ruby Barnhill as Sophie

Penelope Wilton as The Queen

Jemaine Clement as Fleshlumpeater

Rebecca Hall as Mary

Rafe Spall as Mr. Tibbs

Bill Hader as Bloodbottler


When a mysterious 10-year-old boy, Pete, turns up, claiming to live in the woods with a giant green dragon, it’s up to a forest ranger, Grace, and young Natalie to learn where the boy came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this magical dragon.


Back in 1982, British novelist Roald Dahl (“James and the Giant Peach”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, to name a few) would write “The BFG”.

And in 2016, filmmaker Steven Spielberg (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Schindler’s List”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”) and screenwriter Melissa Mathison (“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”, “Kundun”, “Twilight Zone: The Movie”) would go on to create a live-film adaptation of Dahl’s popular novel for Disney, which would be Spielberg’s first directorial film for Walt Disney Pictures.

The film would be the final film which Melissa Mathison had written before her death.  And the movie is dedicated to her.

The film would star Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”, “The Other Boleyn Girl”, “Intimacy”), Penelope Wilton (“Match Point”, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “Shaun of the Dead”), Jermaine Clement (“Men in Black 3”, “Rio” films), Rebecca Hall (“The Prestige”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, “Iron Man 3”), Rafe Spall (“Prometheus”, “Life of Pi”, “Shaun of the Dead”) and Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live”, “Superbad”).

And now “The BFG” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Disney.

The film revolves around 10-year-old orphan, Sophie (portrayed by Ruby Barnhill) and lives in a London orphanage and can’t sleep at nights due to insomnia.

One night at 3:00 a.m., she looked outside the window and sees an elderly giant.  The giant (portrayed by Mark Rylance) who tried to keep hidden realizes he has been seen and so he grabs onto Sophie and takers her to Giant Country.

Known as “BFG” (Big Friendly Giant), he explains to Sophie that she must stay with him for the rest of her life, because he is not allowed to reveal the existence of giants.  She also finds out that BFG can captures and controls dreams, but since she has insomnia, she doesn’t believe that he can control them.

The BFG manages to read her to sleep but gives her a nightmare of trying to escape but being eaten by another giant.

When she awakes, the leader of the man-eating giants, Fleshlumpeater (portrayed by Jermaine Clement), has entered BFG’s home and smells a human (which they call “bean”).  While hungry, the BFG manages to distract Fleshlumpeater from finding and eating Sophie.

As Sophie and the BFG talk about going to the Dream Country, so they can catch dreams together, while traveling, he accidentally wakes up the Bloodbottler (portrayed by Bill Hader) who wakes up the other giants and together, the giants (who are much more taller than the BFG) bully and torment him.

When the storm comes, the BFG and Sophie manages to escape but in the process, she leaves a blanket and when Fleshlumpeater, the Bloodbottler and the other man-eating giants catch the scent of a human, they are now determined in trying to eat Sophie and search for the BFG.

Can the BFG protect Sophie from the man-eating giants?


VIDEO:

“The BFG” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film looks absolutely fantastic as closeups show great detail, especially when Sophie and the BFG first come in contact with the other man-eating giants and you can see the pores and hair on the arms of the giants clearly. Outdoor scenes look lush and the CG was done very well.  Once again, another Disney film that looks simply amazing on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The BFG” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks. The lossless soundtrack is fantastic as the film features quite a bit of action and these scenes manage utilize the surround channels and the LFE very well.  And also, capturing the ambiance of the land (storms) to even the more magical moments of the film. Dialogue and music are crystal clear and for the most part, the lossless soundtrack is fantastic.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The BFG” comes with the following special features:

  • Bringing “The BFG” to Life – (27:09) Actress Ruby Barnhill takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the making of “The BFG”.
  • The Big Friendly Giant and Me – (1:47) An animated story about The Big Friendly Giant and the little “bean”.
  • Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of the BFG – (3:09) A tutorial on the language of the BFG.
  • Giants 101 – (4:57) A featurette about the actors who portray the nine giants in the film.
  • Melissa Mathison: A Tribute – (5:53) A tribute to screenwriter Melissa Mathison and how Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall approached Melissa on writing “The BFG” and Spielberg’s working relationship with Melissa.  And how a few of the crew of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” reunited together for “The BFG”.

EXTRAS:

“The BFG” comes with a slipcover and a Disney Movie Rewards code. Also, included is a DVD version of the film.


For those who have read a book or have watched a film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s work, probably have come to realize by now that his stories are well-written and for the most part, have entertained generations.

From “James and the Giant Peach”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Matilda”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” to name a few, the latest film adaptation is “The BFG” directed by Steven Spielberg and a screenplay by Melissa Mathison is well-done, entertaining and me and my son had a lot of fun watching the film.

But while Roald Dahl is known by many who grew up watching his films, for today’s younger generation who are familiar with today’s writers and superhero films, perhaps images of a young girl and an older, elderly giant was not enough to entice them to watch the film, and the lack of familiarity of Dahl’s work may have prevented “The BFG” from being a major box office success.

Which is a sad because Dahl’s stories have entertained generations for decades.  And while the film fortunately earned more than the film’s entire budget, the same situation that “The BFG” experienced happened with the animated adaptation of Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox”.  Critically acclaimed, beloved by Dahl fans and those familiar with Dahl’s work.

But one can hope that similar to “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “The BFG” is able to attract viewers now that the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.    Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison did a fantastic job for the adaptation and the storyline is fun, adventurous and one can’t help but laughing and be entertained by the film.  Snozzcumbers anyone?

Young Ruby Barnhill did an amazing job portraying Sophie and as child actors go, she managed to do very well with her lines and showing good emotion towards the BFG and that is one thing that helps when you have filmmaker Steven Spielberg behind-the-helm.  CG is wonderfully done and for the most part, the film is entertaining and enjoyable.

And as Spielberg is a fantastic director, many of us will miss Melissa Mathison’s work as a screenwriter, as this film was her last before her death back in 2015.  So, in a way, this is a reunion of a few of the crew from “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”.

On Blu-ray, the closeups are fantastic as detail can really be seen and videophiles will more than likely be pleased.  Also, lossless audio is fantastic thanks to the abundant live action sequences, John Williams’ wonderful score and overall, magical ambiance that is showcased throughout the film.  And the Blu-ray also includes a good number of special features.

Overall, for Dahl fans, “The BFG” is a magical, entertaining and delightful film.  It’s also a wonderful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, brought to life by filmmaker Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison that will entertain families for generations to come.  Recommended!

Disney’s The BFG on Digital HD, Blu-ray and Disney Movies Anywhere Dec. 6.

September 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

STEVEN SPIELBERG’S IMAGINATION AND DISNEY MAGIC COME TOGETHER
TO BRING ROALD DAHL’S BELOVED CLASSIC TO LIFE

“The BFG” comes to Digital HD, Blu-ray™ and Disney Movies Anywhere Dec. 6

This magical tale of an extraordinary friendship loaded with exciting extras
will brighten the holidays for the whole family!

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BURBANK, Calif., Sept. 23, 2016 — This month, the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl, beloved children’s author of family favorites like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Matilda” and Dahl’s personal favorite, “The BFG,” as well as World Dream Day, an annual event honoring “the dreamer, visionary and innovator in all of us.” It seems a fitting time to announce the in-home release of “The BFG,” Disney’s fantasy adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, on Dec. 6 on Digital HD, Blu-ray™, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand.

As dreamers around the globe gear up for Sunday’s World Dream Day, an annual holiday honoring “the dreamer, visionary and innovator in all of us,” it seems a fitting time to announce the in-home release of “The BFG,” Disney’s fantasy adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring a dream-collecting Big Friendly Giant. This heartwarming tale for the whole family arrives home for the holidays on Dec. 6 on Digital HD, Blu-ray™, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand.

“The BFG” unites the talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers – Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg – to bring to life the classic tale of a courageous little girl named Sophie (newcomer Ruby Barnhill) and a gentle and charming Big Friendly Giant (Oscar®-winner Mark Rylance) who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. Spielberg employs a new, hybrid style of filmmaking blending live-action and performance-capture techniques, resulting in genuine, heartfelt performances and super-photorealistic animation.

Families and fans will be swept away by this spectacular adventure and delight in extensive bonus features, including a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The BFG” hosted by Ruby Barnhill and featuring Steven Spielberg; a charming, all-new short; a fun and whimsical tutorial on the Big Friendly Giant’s unique language of Gobblefunk; a touching tribute to screenwriter Melissa Mathison (“E.T. the Extraterrestrial,” “The Black Stallion”); and more.

Spielberg’s directorial debut with The Walt Disney Studios was a labor of love, as he’s been a fan of Dahl’s for years. In fact, he read “The BFG” to his own children when they were younger. According to Spielberg, “It’s a story about friendship; it’s a story about loyalty and protecting your friends; and it’s a story that shows that even a little girl can help a big giant solve his biggest problems.” “The BFG” is a Golden Phizzwizard* come true for Spielberg, Dahl fans and audiences around the world.

Bonus features include**:

BLU-RAY & DIGITAL HD:
Bringing “The BFG” to Life – Ruby Barnhill (Sophie) hosts a phizz-whizzing journey through the making of “The BFG.” This behind-the-scenes documentary details the film’s progression through interviews with Roald Dahl’s daughter Lucy Dahl, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, executive producers Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Kristie Macosko Krieger, and numerous members of the talented cast and crew.
The Big Friendly Giant and Me – Sophie wasn’t the first “bean” in Giant Country—many illustrations were created as if drawn by a little boy who was there long before Sophie. This charming, in-world short will bring the drawings to life with animation and narration, recounting the friendship and the dreams shared between the boy and the Big Friendly Giant.
Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of The BFG – A whoopsey-splunkers tutorial on the meaning of the gloriumptious gobblefunk in “The BFG.”
Giants 101 – Jemaine Clement (Fleshlumpeater) and Bill Hader (Bloodbottler) introduce us to the loathsome giants in “The BFG,” along with movement choreographer/motion capture performer Terry Notary, who collaborated with the actors and Director Steven Spielberg prior to filming to develop their movements and character traits.
Melissa Mathison: A Tribute – An homage to Melissa Mathison, the extraordinary, Oscar®-nominated screenwriter of “The BFG” and “E.T.,” whose talent and heart were as immense as the giants in “The BFG.”
DIGITAL/VOD:
John Williams: Scoring A Dream – A journey through the film’s concept art and memorable moments, interwoven with the sights and sounds of legendary composer John William’s scoring session.
DVD:
Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of The BFG and Melissa Mathison: A Tribute

Disney and Amblin Entertainment, in association with Walden Media, present the fantasy adventure film “The BFG,” the first-ever motion picture adaptation of Roald Dahl’s resonant tale of childhood, the magic of dreams and the extraordinary friendship between a young girl and a big friendly giant. Directed by three-time Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, the film reunites the director with his Oscar®-nominated collaborator on “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” Melissa Mathison, who adapted the children’s author’s timeless adventure for the big screen. “The BFG” is produced by Spielberg, p.g.a., Frank Marshall, p.g.a., and Sam Mercer, p.g.a., with Kathleen Kennedy, John Madden, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Michael Siegel serving as executive producers.

The film stars three-time Tony Award®, two-time Olivier Award and Oscar® winner Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant; newcomer Ruby Barnhill as Sophie, the orphan who befriends him and is swept into a world of rampaging giants; Penelope Wilton as The Queen; Jemaine Clement as Fleshlumpeater, the most fearsome giant from Giant Country; Rebecca Hall as Mary, The Queen’s handmaid; Rafe Spall as Mr. Tibbs, The Queen’s butler; and Bill Hader as Bloodbottler, another unruly giant from Giant Country.

The creative team is comprised of some of Spielberg’s longtime collaborators, including: two-time Oscar®-winning director of photography Janusz Kaminski; two-time Oscar-winning production designer Rick Carter; three time Oscar-winning editor Michael Kahn, A.C.E.; and Oscar-nominated costume designer Joanna Johnston, with legendary five-time Oscar winner John Williams composing his 24th score for a Spielberg-directed film.

Joining them is two-time Oscar® winner Robert Stromberg as production designer and four-time Oscar winner Joe Letteri from Weta Digital, the visual effects company founded by Peter Jackson, as senior visual effects supervisor.

DISC SPECIFICATIONS:
Product SKUs: Digital HD/SD, Blu-ray Superset (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy),
Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and Video On-Demand SD/HD
Feature Run Time: Approximately 117 minutes
Rating: PG in U.S., PG in CE, and G in CF
Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray Feature Film = 1080p High Definition / Widescreen 2.39:1
DVD Feature Film = Widescreen 2.39:1
Audio: Blu-ray = English 7.1 DTS-HDMA & 2.0 Descriptive Audio,
Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks
DVD = English, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks,
English 2.0 Descriptive Audio
Languages/Subtitles: Blu-ray = English SDH, Spanish and French
DVD = English SDH, Spanish and French

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Facebook: Facebook.com/TheBFGmovie
Website: Movies.Disney.com/The-BFG
Twitter: Twitter.com/BFGmovie
Website: Instagram.com/BFGmovie

ABOUT DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE (DMA):
Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) is an engaging and family-friendly cloud-based digital movie service that makes it easy to buy Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars movies once and watch them anywhere. Viewers can enjoy their digital movies from the comfort of their living room and across multiple mobile platforms by simply adding the free DMA app or channel to their devices, such as iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android mobile phones and tablets, Android TV, Amazon’s Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Roku, and Xbox 360, and connecting to their DMA account with participating providers including iTunes, Amazon Video, VUDU, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and Fios by Verizon. DMA users can explore Disney’s library of over 450 digital movies, discover hours of new and exclusive short-form content, redeem Digital Movie codes found in eligible Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars product, and earn Disney Movie Rewards points with every digital purchase.

ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS:
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*A wonderful dream in the BFG’s language of Gobblefunk
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Lincoln: 4-Disc Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Lincoln” is a fascinating, compelling film featuring fantastic cinematography, production and costume design but also magnificent performances by Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and many others.  A Blu-ray release featuring great picture quality and lossless audio, “Lincoln: 4-Disc Combo Pack” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 DreamWorks II Distribution Co. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lincoln: 4-Disc Combo Pack

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 150 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Dreamworks Pictures/Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For an Intense Scene of War violence, Some Images of Carnage and Brief Strong Language)

Release Date: March 26, 2013

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Screenplay by Tony Kushner

Based on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

Executive Producer: Jonathan King, Daniel Lupi, Jeff Skoll

Co-Producer: Kristie Macosko, Adam Somner

Music by John Williams

Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski

Edited by Michael Kahn

Casting by Avy Kaufman

Production Design by Rick Carter

Art Direction by Curt Beech, David Crank, Leslie McDonald

Set Decoration by Jim Erickson, Charles Maloy, Peter T. Frank

Costume Design by Joanna Johnston

Starring:

Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln

Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln

David Strathairn as William Seward

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Lincoln

James Spader as W.N. Bilbo

Hal Holbrook as Preston Blair

Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens

John Hawkes as Robert Latham

Jackie Earle Haley as Alexander Stephens

Bruce McGill as Edwin Stanton

Tim Blake Nelson as Richard Schell

Joseph Cross as John Hay

Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant

Gulliver McGrath as Tad Lincoln

Inspired by the true-life events confronting Abraham Lincoln and his monumental moral and political challenge to amend the United States Constitution to permanently abolish slavery, “LINCOLN” is a rich and compelling historical and human drama that has been hailed as one of the best film of the year. In-depth bonus features on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack takes viewers behind-the-scenes of director Spielberg’s life-long fascination with Lincoln and the 12 years it took to bring the story of one of history’s and mankind’s greatest triumphs to the screen.

As a young child, Steven Spielberg was captivated when he saw the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Decades later, the filmmaker would direct and produce the historical drama film “Lincoln” that is based on Doris Kearn Goodwin’s biography “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” focusing on the final four months of Abram Lincoln’s life and focusing on his efforts to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives. in January 1865.

Filmed in the Fall of 2011 and released theatrically int the Fall of 2012, “Lincoln” has received critical acclaim worldwide, earning seven Golden Globe nominations, twelve Academy Award nominations and grossing over $263 million at the box office, making “Lincoln” a financial success.

The film would feature an all-star cast including Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”, “Gangs of New York”, “The Last of the Mohicans”), Sally Field (“Forrest Gump”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Brothers & Sisters”), David Strathairn (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “L.A. Confidential”, “Good Night” and “Good Luck”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception”, “Looper”, “(500) Days of Summer”), James Spader (“Boston Legal”, “Stargate”, “Secretary”), Hal Holbrook (“Wall Street”, Men of Honor”, “Into the Wild”), Tommy Lee Jones (“No Country for Old Men”, “Men in Black” films, “The Fugitive”), John Hawkes (“American Gangster, “Identity”, “The Sessions”) and many more.

And now “Lincoln” was released on Blu-ray and DVD, including a 4-Disc Combo Pack which includes the Blu-ray (2), DVD and Digital Copy in March 2013.

“Lincoln” is set during the time of the Civial War in 1865.  The 1863 Emancipation Proclamation which guaranteed slaves  in ten states that were in rebellion, enslaved by the Confederate to be free.  The worry was that with the Civil War coming to an end, the Proclamation would be discarded by the courts and slavery would continue.

So, President Abraham Lincoln (portrayed by Daniel-Day Lewis) felt it was imperative to pass the 13th Amendment by the end of January in order to ensure that all freed slaves, would not be re-enslaved.  Throughout all states, slavery will be abolished.

As the first Republican Party President, the problem that Abraham Lincoln faced was that the Radical Republicans feared the amendment will be defeated.  Republicans near the border states wanted to end the war and that was their priority and with more than a dozen votes needed for the 13th Amendment to pass, Lincoln and other fellow Republicans need to have the support of their own party but also Democrats.

But with time becoming a major challenge, Lincoln’s fellow Republicans try to urge the President that he wait until Congress is heavily represented by Republicans but Lincoln felt that with the war ending, the 13th Amendment must be voted now and that slavery is settled and the southern states are readmitted into the Union.

So, with the help and backing of Republican Party founder Preston Blair (portrayed by Hal Holbrook), who has the influence to win over the Republican conservatives in the western and border states, men are sent to help win them over.  Meanwhile, Lincoln and his Secretary of State William Seward (portrayed by David Strathaim) work on securing the Democratic votes but also to win over Radical Republicans such as Thaddeus Stevens (portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones), leader of the Radical Republican faction.

Meanwhile, Lincoln must deal with a wife Mary Todd (portrayed by Sally Field) who has rampant headaches, unstable and is haunted by the death of their sons Eddie (tuberculosis) and Willie (typhoid fever).  Mary also worried for their surviving sons Robert (portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Tad (portrayed for Gulliver McGrath), specifically their oldest Robert, who is tired of his parents putting him through law school (under Mary Todd’s direction as she wanted her son to be safe) as he desperately wants to serve in the military.

VIDEO:

“Lincoln” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  With one of the most well-known cinematographers such as Janusz Kaminski (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Schindler’s List”, “Minority Report”, “Catch Me If You Can”) working on the film, one can expect nothing but the best in terms of cinematography, capturing the characters in fantastic lighting situations.    And once again, Kaminski’s cinematography is fantastic!  Featuring incredible detail and like era, using natural color to enhance the overall feeling of the film, skin tones are natural, the film features great contrast with outdoor scenes featuring a variety of colors, from a normal day to a cool, cold night where Abraham Lincoln and soldiers ride their horses through dead bodies during the war.  Black levels are nice and deep, Joanna Johnston’s costume design and Rick Carter’s production design of capturing authenticity is also captured amazingly on camera courtesy of Kaminski.

“Lincoln” looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “Lincoln” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Envlish DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  I was very impressed with the lossless soundtrack.  It’s one thing to expect crystal clear dialogue with wonderful music from legendary composer John Williams (“Star Wars” films, “Harry Potter” films, “Indiana Jones” films) but the amount of ambiance captured through the surrounds is wonderful.  With the constant chattering during the political debates, there is also use of LFE during certain scenes.  But even sounds of storms, sounds of wood upon wood, may it be a closure of a room, wheel making contact on the floor, good use of rear surround channels.  But it’s the dialogue and the ambiance along with Williams’ music that sounds incredible.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Lincoln” comes with the following special features:

  • The Journey to Lincoln – (9:24) Featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy and the cast about being part of the film and the creation of it.
  • A Historic Tapestry: Richmond, Virginia – (4:00) Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and crew talk about being able to film at historic structures to recreate the feel of Washington, D.C. and Virginia during the Civil War era in Richmond, Virginia.
  • In the Company of Character – (10:23) A featurette about the casting of the talent to play various characters and working with Daniel Day-Lewis.  Each cast member talks about their involvement in the film and meeting the other talents and how they immersed themselves and prepared for this film.
  • Crafting the Past – (10:43) A special feature about costume and production design.  Production designer Rick Carter talks and costume designer Joanna Johnston about capturing the detail of the era and trying to make everything in the film look authentic.
  • Living with Lincoln – (27:04) A special feature about a period biopic and the contribution to make this film feel like it was taking place in the past.  Capturing the look and feel but also through the performances.
  • In Lincoln’s Footsteps – (16:35) A featurette about the editing of the film and how it was important to have the long periods instead of constant cuts.  Discussing the visual perspective of the film and the audio.

EXTRAS:

“Lincoln” comes with two Blu-rays (one for the feature film and the other for special features), a DVD and Digital Copy version of the film.  Also, a slipcover case is included.

When I was younger, my grandfather, an immigrant from the Philippines would always use Abraham Lincoln as an example for us and why people are fortunate today to be able to have a good education, strive for a good education because of what Lincoln was give people of color a chance of freedom in the United States.

He would always talk about the Emancipation Proclamation and I as I grew older, like every child taught in school about what Lincoln did to free the slaves, it was an important order from Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Only until I became an adult, would you realize that there was much more to the story than the simple “Lincoln freed the slaves!” that we have been taught.  Along with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, it wasn’t until the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 which abolished slavery, that the amendment was monumental.

But it wasn’t easy.  With so much focus of Lincoln on his assassination by John Wilkes Booth, I really didn’t know too much about Abraham Lincoln’s life until I saw the biographical silent film “Abraham Lincoln” (1930) directed by D.W. Griffith.  While this film focused on Lincoln’s earlier life as a storekeeper and rail-splitter and his earlier romance with Ann Rutledge and later being engaged to Mary Todd and the Lincoln-Douglas debates about the extension of slavery, there really hasn’t been anything showcasing the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment.

I can understand why.  It’s not an easy subject for one to craft and make it entertaining for general audiences,   People know how the amendment was historic, but would one want to watch it as a film?

That’s where filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes in and the fact that he is directing the film, the answer is yes.  If Spielberg can make this film entertaining, it’s definitely worth giving a try.

Joining him are top people in the industry, from composer John Williams, director of photography Janusz Kaminski, production designer Rick Carter and costume design by Joanna Johnston, and many others involved with the film, you know you have a great team.

And what Spielberg is quite effective was building a storyline with showcasing how difficult of a time it was for President Lincoln.  While the Emancipation Proclamation helped give slaves a chance for freedom during the Civil War, if the war was to end, they would not be free any longer, and not too many were in favor of abolishing slavery, except President Lincoln and a few members of the US House of Representatives.  With wonderful production and costume design to keep the authenticity of the film and the amazing performances by actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathaim, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon Levitt to name a few, you can’t help but be amazed with how wonderful this film looks, but also how powerful the film is thanks to its outstanding talent.

Daniel Day-Lewis captures the look of Abraham Lincoln, Sally Field who gained weight for the role was also able to play the unstable Mary Todd and of course other performers throughout the film, made the film feel authentic and real.

The film is smart, compelling but also a message about freedom and equality. Also, it’s a subject that not many people are familiar with and you learn that freedom did not come easy but also how President Lincoln took a risk that could have had him impeached.  But he was dedicated, persistent and also made others around him persistent, but most importantly have them put their faith in him to make it happen.  A lot was at stake for some people who voted for the amendment, some who were threatened but yet knowing what was right and debating within, whether or not to be loyal to their political party or to side with Abraham Lincoln in giving freedom to the slaves.

As for the 4-Disc Combo Pack of “Lincoln”, you get the Blu-ray release (two featuring the feature film, the other with special features), a DVD version of the film and a Digital Copy.  Picture quality along with lossless audio is magnificent, special features are good but I wished they were slightly longer.  It would have been nice to have an audio commentary or even other special features on Abraham Lincoln. But that is me being picky!  For the most part, “Lincoln” is a wonderful Blu-ray release and a film that is powerful and another cinematic masterpiece for Steven Spielberg.

Overall, “Lincoln” is a fascinating, compelling film featuring fantastic cinematography, production and costume design but also  a magnificent performances by Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and many others.  Highly recommended!

 

War Horse: 4-Disc Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A beautiful, moving and wonderful film capturing a horse and its ability to bring out the human spirit with the many people it comes across.   “War Horse” is magnificent!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Dreamworks II Distribution Co. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: War Horse

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 146 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), French 7.1 DTS-HD HR, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Dreamworks Pictures/Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequence of War Violence)

Release Date: April 3, 2012

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis

Executive Producer: Revel Guest, Frank Marshall

Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

Co-Producer: Tracey Seaward, Adam Somner

Music by John Williams

Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski

Edited by Michael Kahn

Casting by Jina Jay

Production Design by Rick Carter

Set Decoration by Lee Sandales

Costume Design by Joanna Johnston

Starring:

Jeremy Irvine as Albert Narracott

Peter Mullan as Ted Narracott

Emily Watson as Rose Narracott

Niels Arestrup as Grandfather

David Thewlis as Lyons

Tom Hiddleston as Captain Nicholls

Benedict Cumerbatch as Major Jamie Stewart

Celine Buckens as Emilie

Toby Kebbell as Geordie Soldier

Patrick Kennedy as Lt. Charlier Waverly

Leonard Crow as Michael

David Kross as Gunther

Matt Milne as Andrew Easton

Robert Emms as David Luons

Eddie Marsan as Sgt. Fry

Nicolas Bro as Friedrich

Rainer Bock as Brandt

“War Horse,” the Academy Award®-nominated Best Picture, is a story of incredible friendship, loyalty, courage, hope and tenacity. Based on the Tony Award®-winning play, and set against the sweeping canvas of World War I, this deeply heartfelt tale begins with the remarkable friendship between a feisty colt named Joey and his young trainer Albert (Jeremy Irvine). When they’re forced apart by war, the film follows Joey’s extraordinary journey as he changes and inspires the lives of everyone he meets. No matter where they go or what they experience both boy and horse keep forging ahead, driven by devotion and the hope of returning home. Filled with spectacularly rich visuals, “War Horse” is one of the most powerful and moving stories of friendship and love ever filmed.

In 1982, Michael Morpurgo wrote the children’s fiction novel “War Horse”, a story set during the outbreak of World War I.

The book received its film adaptation courtesy of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and screenwriters Lee Hall and Richard Curtis and was released in theaters on Christmas day of 2011 and would earn over $173 million in the box office and in April 2012, the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.

“War Horse” would reunite Steven Spielberg with the top talents in the film industry such as cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Schindler’s List”, “Minority Report”), editor Michael Kahn (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Schindler’s List”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”), sound designer Gary Rydstrom (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Minority Report”, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”) and also reunited Spielberg with legendary composer John Williams (known for creating the soundtracks for the “Star Wars” films and “Harry Potter” films).

The film marks a new beginning for Steven Spielberg.  One, this is the first film in which Spielberg directed a film about a horse as the main character and portraying him at various stages of the horse’s life.  The film also marks Spielberg’s first time cutting the film digitally.

“War Horse” would go on to earn six Academy Award nominations including “Best Picture” and would win the American Film Institute Award for “Film of the Year 2011”.

“War Horse” is story about a thoroughbred named Joey, the horse was purchased by young Albert’s father Peter (played by Ted Narracott) during a drunken stupor and raised and trained by Albert (played by Jeremy Irvine), Joey would show amazing talents and the bond between Albert and his horse Joey was strong.

But with World War I, the cavalry was in desperate need of horses and because Albert’s family has always been struggling financially, his father sold Joey to the Calvary and shipped to France which would be in the care of Captain Nicholls (played by Tom Hiddleston).  Nicholls makes a promise to Albert that he will take care of his horse.

The film would then show how the horse journey through World War I and having been in the possession of many owners, including both opposing sides of the war.

Meanwhile, throughout the years, as young Albert has now grown up to become a young man that enlists in the British Army and will one day be reunited with his horse Joey.

VIDEO:

“War Horse” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1).  When Steven Spielberg brought in cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, you get one of the best in the business.   A man who knows how to capture the shot and in this case, to capture the beauty of Dartmoor but also to capture the essence of peace and serenity via pre-war but also the darkness and fear during the war.  There are wonderful, breathtaking shots that are seen throughout the film with vibrant colors to lush greenery of the area.

There is also wonderful detail when it comes to the closeups of the horses and black levels were nice and deep.  I didn’t catch any banding, artifacts or any problems with the overall video.  If anything, picture quality for “War Horse” is outstanding!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“War Horse” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHZ/24-bit), French 7.1 DTS-HD HR and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  Dialogue is crystal clear and there is amazing use of the surround channels.  From the beginning as Joey is plowing the field to the use of music courtesy of John Williams.  But the film shows how wonderful it could sound via lossless once we get to the war.

As one would expect from a film with war scenes, the film is absolutely immersive as you hear machine guns, tanks, cavalries and their horses marching and stomping to bomb blasts via LFE.  There is good use of the rear surround channels and panning through the surround channels and I was quite impressed by how the overall mix was.  “War Horse” has an amazing lossless soundtrack!

Also, the musical soundtrack is wonderful.  The music is inspired by the serenity of the British landscapes and manages to capture that feel of adventure but also the horse as it goes through its adventures.  John Williams approach was to utilize brass instruments.

The brass is the key to the music of “War Horse”, creating emotion and feeling of the horse trough the ages.  Steven Spielberg said in the booklet notes of William’s composition, “I feel that John has made a special gift to me of this music, which was inspired not only by my film but also by my many of the picturesque settings of the poet William Wordsworth, whose vivid descriptions of the British landscape inspired much of what you’re going to hear.  I’m not sure what I can give John in return, other than a promise of more films to come…for as many more years as we both can imagine!”.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“War Horse” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • War Horse: The Journey Home – (19:35) Featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg and the cast and a second roundtable interview with the creative team and crew.
  • An Extra’s Point of View – (3:06) A featurette about extra Martin D. Dew and his involvement in the film.

DISC 2:

  • A Filmmaking Journal – (1:04:13) A more in-depth featurette on the screen adaptation of “War Horse”, the casting and shooting on location.
  • Editing & Scoring – (8:53) Editor Michael Kahn and composer John Williams discuss their involvement with “War Horse” and their longtime collaboration with Steven Spielberg.
  • The Sounds of War Horse – (7:13) Gary Rydstrom talks about the sounds of “War Horse” and his goal to make the film sound authentic.
  • Through the Producer’s Lens – (4:04) Producer Kathleen Kennedy talks about the photos she took on location during the filming of “War Horse”.

EXTRAS:

“War Horse” comes with a slipcover case, two Blu-rays (one for the film and the other for the special features), the DVD version of the film and a digital copy of the feature film.

“War Horse” is a film that captures the human spirit but most of all, Steven Spielberg ability to capture the relationship and emotions may it be an animal to an extra-terrestrial, it’s one thing that Spielberg has been wonderful in doing.

We have seen Spielberg create a heartfelt film with “E.T.”, we have seen him recently capture human and animal relationships through adventures with “The Adventures of Tin Tin”, but “War Horse” is a challenge that the filmmaker was ready to take on.

How would you be able to create a film based on a horse?  It’s one thing to get the actors to be emotional and caring towards a horse but you have to capture the horse being interested as the actions must seem natural to the viewer.  And sure enough, with amazing trainers, the reactions by Joey the horse as it goes through a lot during its adventures is nothing short of amazing.

“War Horse” is no doubt a collaborative film.  In order to make this film work, you would need a wonderful location, wonderful cinematography, costume and set design, music, sound design and talent and many extras in order to create this sense of dire during World War I.  Characters who come across the horse Joey and eventually are touched by it.  And of course, the trainers responsible in making the horse meet its mark (there are possibly over a hundred of horses used in this film, especially during the war scenes).

For one, “War Horse” is a gorgeous film.  Spielberg brought in his top guns for this film, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and editor Michael Kahn.  They have had a long working relationship with Spielberg and part of the believability of this film is its look.  From the peaceful pre-war landscapes to the muddy trenches during World War I.  You have the cinematography and editing there, you have the look courtesy of Lee Sandales on set decoration and Joanna Johnston via costume design.  Every soldier on opposing sides have a uniform and you eventually get the sense of how grand this film is.

And of course, when it comes to emotion, to help tie the characters to Joey, you have the wonderful music of John Williams.  And also the sound courtesy of sound designer Gary Rydstrom is absolute amazing.  If you are an audiophile, you will literally hear how immersive this lossless soundtrack truly is on Blu-ray.  It’s one of the best lossless soundtracks that I have heard on Blu!

For the most part, everything came together for this film and I was quite impressed.

As for the Blu-ray release, the video and audio is absolutely magnificent.  There are many special features as well on two Blu-ray discs and you also get the DVD and digital copy version of the film with the 4-disc combo pack.

Overall, “War Horse” is a beautiful, moving and wonderful film capturing a horse and its ability to bring out the human spirit with the many people it comes across.    While it may not be as emotional as Robert Bresson’s 1966 film “Au hasard Balthazar” nor do we see the cruelty the horse must go through from owner to owner, the film is not about the cruelty of man towards horse.  Nor is “War Horse” a war film.  It’s about a horse that brings out the human spirit no matter who the owner is or whatever side the horse is being utilized.  The hope of one young man being reunited with his horse and that hope and even a bit of luck exists, even during dire circumstances.

Steven Spielberg and his crew once again has done a wonderful job and for those contemplating on this Blu-ray release, it really is magnificent.  Not just the film itself but its presentation, its picture quality and its fantastic lossless soundtrack.

“War Horse” is highly recommended!

Real Steel (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“Real Steel” features all-out robot action with a compelling and exciting storyline and a film that looks and sounds awesome on Blu-ray!  Definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Dreamworks II Distrbution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Real Steel

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 127 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DVS Dolby Digital, French 7.1 DTS-HD HR, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  Subtitles: English, English SDH and French

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Some Violence, Intense Action and Brief Language)

Release Date: January 24, 2012

Directed by Shawn Levy

Screenplay by John Gatins

Story by Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven

Based on the Short Story “Steel” by Richard Matheson

Produced by Shawn Levy, Susan Montford, Don Murphy, Robert Zemeckis

Executive Producer: Josh McLaglen, Mary McLaglen, Jack Rapke, Steven Spielberg, Steve Starkey

Co-Produced by Rick Benattar, Eric Hedayat

Associate Producer: Ron Ames

Music by Danny Elfman

Cinematography by Mauro Fiore

Edited by Dean Zimmerman

Casting by Richard Hicks, David Rubin

Production Design by Tom Meyer

Art Direction by Seth Reed, Tino Schaedler, Jason Baldwin Stewart, Jeff Wisniewski

Set Decoration by Victor J. Zolfo

Costume Design by Marlene Stewart

Starring:

Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton

Dakota Goyo as Max Kenton

Evangeline Lilly as Bailey Tallet

Anthony Mackie as Finn

Kevin Durand as Ricky

Hope Davis as Aunt Debra

James Rebhorn as Marvin

Marco Ruggeri as Cliff

Karl Yune as Tak Mashido

Olga Fonda as Farra Lemkova

Balancing gritty action and emotional heart, “Real Steel” is an inspiring and visually stunning film that takes audiences on an action-packed journey. Washed-up boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) scrapes by as a small-time robot-fight promoter as he tries to make a comeback. Against all odds he eventually succeeds—at least in the eyes of his son Max (Dakota Goyo). “Real Steel” is spectacular family entertainment that will have everyone cheering again and again.

In the distant future, men will compete in robot fighting competitions.

Not too farfetched as many people have grown up on stories of humans controlling robots, may it be through animation or video games and with today’s technology of visual effects, why not a live action film?

And so producer Steven Spielberg brings us a sci-fi film with that concept in mind with the 2011 film “Real Steel” directed by Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum” films, “Date Night”, “The Pink Panther”) and a screenplay by John Gatins (“Coach Carter”, “Hard Ball”) and based on the 1956 short story “Steel” by Richard Matheson”.

The film would star Hugh Jackman (“X-Men” films, “Australia”, “Van Helsing”), Dakota Goyo (“Thor”, “Defendor”), Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”, “The Hurt Locker”), Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”, “Million Dollar Baby”) and Kevin Durand (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “Lost”, “I Am Number Four”).

The film would achieve success in the box office making over $292 million and a sequel is slated for release for 2014.

“Real Steel” is set in 2020, where robot boxing is the big sport around the world.

Charlie Kenton (played by Hugh Jackman) is a former boxer who’s life is now down in the dumps and he is in severe debt.  He owns the robot “Ambush” and competes in unsanctioned matches and exhibitions and one day, he gets caught up in a deal with promoter Ricky (played by Kevin Durand) that his robot can beat Ricky’s bull in a match.   And once again, Charlie bets $20,000 that he will win.

While Charlie was leading in the match, excited about his performance, he begins staring at women in the stands and takes his eyes off the bull. The bull gores Ambush and literally tears the robot apart.  Now in big trouble and without any money to pay Ricky, Charlie plans to drives off and leave.  But while leaving, he is told by two men that his his ex-girlfriend has died and that he must go to a court hearing to decide the fate of his son Max (played by Dakota goyo).

So, Charlie leaves without paying Ricky and escapes to the gym that is owned by Bailey Tallet (played by Evangeline Lilly) and a gym where Charlie trained to be a boxer under her father.

Bailey has had an up and down relationship with Charlie because she is struggling to keep the gym alive because Charlie has not payed her.  To make matters worse, Charlie has not been able to make much money in the robot boxing matches and she is afraid that she may need to sell the gym.

Desperately needing a new robot, Charlie is told about a deal to buy the former fighting robot from Japan – “Noisy Boy” but it would cost him $50,000.  Desperately in need of money, Charlie needs to find a way to get the money quickly.

While Charlie attends the court hearing, Debra, the sister of Max’s mother wants full custody.  She also happens to be married to Marvin (played by James Rebhorn), a wealthy man and immediately Charlie may have found a way to get the money he needs to purchase a new robot.  Because Marvin and Debra were planning a vacation to Europe.  So, both Charlie and Marvin work on a deal so Marvin can take his wife to Europe for their second honeymoon and that is for Marvin to pay Charlie $100,000 to watch over Max for three months.  Marvin agrees and pays him $50,000 upfront and will pay him $50,000 when they return.

Because Charlie has only met Max only once long ago, there is not much of a relationship between father and son and when Max finds out that his father literally sold his son for $50,000…suffice to say, Max isn’t happy.  But Charlie tries to explain that he needed the money to purchase “Noisy Boy” and immediately, Max is excited as he shows his passion for watching robot boxing and his familiarity with the robots.

As Charlie and Max head out to a competition in order to make some money, both head to an illegal fighting circuit which is run by Charlie’s friend Finn (played by Anthony Mackie).  Charlie is offered to fight in a survival fight but Charlie wants Noisy Boy to fight the illegal circuit champion, Midas.  Max is a bit upset with his father because he just got the robot and is not familiar with his fighting moves and already he is fighting with it.

And sure enough, during the fight with Midas, Charlie’s inexperience with the robot and his overconfidence gets the best of him and Charlie loses control of Noisy Boy who is literally decapitated by Midas.

Now losing another robot and broke, Charlie is once again desperate.  He brings his son Max to the junkyard where they break in and try to steal robot parts.  But in the process, Max falls through a cliff and is nearly killed but is fortunately rescued barely by his clothes being snagged on the fingers of a robot that is was buried in the dirt.  His father comes to rescue him and Charlie feeling grateful to this robot that is buried, wants to bring it home.

And sure enough, Charlie brings back an old, obsolete Generation-2 sparring robot build back in 2014 named Atom, a robot that was build to sustain major damage.  And while the robot is able to shadow the movements of its user, Max takes the broken parts from Noisy Boy and Ambush and upgrades Atom in order to take vocal commands and also have a spin frame.  And Max wants his father to get him a match.

Unfortunately, Charlie is not interested but because he needs money, he is able to give his son that chance but also to learn the agony of being defeated in robot boxing.  So, Charlie takes Max and his robot Atom to an unsanctioned outdoor match to take on a robot known as Metro.   If Max could beat Metro and last for one round, if he beats Metro, he can win three thousand dollars.

At first, the match isn’t going well for Charlie but because Charlie knows boxing, he begins to coach Max on commands and sure enough, with father and son working together, they defeat Metro and earn extra money.  Through the process of attending these events, Max gets his first glance of the World Robot Boxing (WRB) champion, Zeus which is controlled by Tak Mashido and is represented by Farra Lemcova (played by Olga Fonda).

The two continue to use Atom in several matches and they continue to win each time.  And because of Atom being an older robot that has been defeating various robots in lower circuits, he has caught the attention of a World Robot Boxing league promoter and is given a chance to fight in a real professional fight against a robot named Twin Cities.

The two are requested to meet with Zeus crew and Farra tells Charlie and Max that they would like to purchase Atom for $100,000.  Excited about money, Charlie wants to sell him but since it belongs to Max, Max has no intention to sell Atom and rejects the offer.

As the match between Atom and Twin Cities begins, despite early challenges…the duo once again emerge victorious and as the crowd is excited about this underdog older robot beating a WRB robot, during the post-interview in the boxing ring, Max challenges WRB champion Zeus in a match. Requesting for them to give a nobody a single chance to take on the champ.  And immediately, the crowd goes crazy and would love to see a match take place.

And sure enough, Tak Mashido and Farra Lemcova accept!

And as things continue to look good between father and son, unfortunately Ricky has come back for his money and payback for Charlie running away and not paying.  And he is beaten by Ricky and his men and Max was nearly injured. Also, because Debra is planning to get Max back as they will be arriving from their vacation, Charlie does not want his son growing up with a failure of a father and get him caught in anymore predicaments.  So, Charlie has made the decision to leave Max and have him live with his aunt Debra, especially since he signed away custody papers to Debra.

How will Charlie break the bad news to Max and will the match between Atom vs. Zeus ever place?

VIDEO:

“Real Steel” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1) and is a film that looks great on Blu-ray!  I loved the fact that Spielberg suggested Director Shawn Levy to have robots created for this film which allows a bit more believability for its actors because they have something visual to act with.  But there is a tremendous amount of detail especially with the robots from Atom having layers of mud on him, the sheen and the lights that emit from the Japanese robot Noisy Boy, detail also on the visual effects for the computerized controller or monitors and the action sequences of seeing pieces of metal flying when the robots are hit.

And the amount of detail also can be seen with the talent as the grime on Max can be seen with clarity during the Metal Valley scene, the outdoor sequences are vibrant with colors and even during the nighttime sequences, black levels are nice and deep, didn’t see any crush.  I didn’t notice any visual defects, artifacts or any problems with video.

“Real Steel” looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Real Steel” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DVS Dolby Digital, French 7.1 DTS-HD HR, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  The lossless audio track definitely plays a significant role in this film.  First, the ambient noise can be heard in scenes such as outdoors with the noise of the city and cars being heard around you but once you get into those scenes that involve robot boxing, the soundtrack becomes immersive!  From the audience being heard all around you, to the sounds of music and other audio effects that relate to the robots coming from the surround channels but also plenty of LFE, including it’s musical soundtrack with hip hop tracks with solid bass.

From the scene showcasing Noisy Boy for the first time to the various fights that involve Atom, especially versus Zeus, the lossless soundtrack becomes immersive. Dialogue is crystal clear, surround channels, LFE…this film really delivers in audio and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Real Steel” comes with the following special features:

  • Real Steel: Second Screen  – Ringside with Director Shawn Levy – This feature allows you to watch while the film is showing and watch on an iPad or computer.
  • Countdown to the Fight – The Charlie Kenton Story – (13:51) An extended storyline leading up to the fight against Zeus as Charlie Kenton and those who know him are interviewed about this story of being a middleweight boxer and how he and his son with Atom are about to take on the WRB champ, Zeus.
  • Making of Metal Valley – (14:14) Director Shawn Levy and his crew discuss the challenges of filming the “Metal Valley” scene.
  • Building the Bots – (5:38) Legacy Effects talks about continuing Stan Winston’s work of creating robots for this film and how Steven Spielberg gave Director Shawn Levy advice to have robots created for the film.
  • Sugar Ray Leonard: Cornerman’s Champ – (6:18) Sugar Ray Leonard talks about training Hugh Grant for the boxing sequences and behind-the-scenes look at the training.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – (17:40) Featuring an extended: Meet Ambush Scene and the deleted storyline titled “Butterfly” which is the emotional storyline about Max and his father discussing his mother which was removed from the final cut of the film.
  • Bloopers – (2:38) Featuring outtakes from “Real Steel”.

“Real Steel” was a film that people loved or disliked.  Some felt it was the modern-day “Over the Top” (the 1987 film starring Sylvester Stallone) and others who were fascinated by the underdog storyline and visual effects featuring big robots.

For me, I absolutely enjoyed this film.  When I was younger, I would compete with other children in wind-up robot toys that would fight in makeshift boxing rings made with wood, nails and rubber bands, to reading comic books and collecting toys featuring “Shogun Warriors” and “Transformers” as well as watching the cartoons.  And my passion of robot fighting had never ceased as even as an adult as I continued playing the Japanese “Super Robot Taisen”, “Virtual On” and various Gundam and Macross robot fight video games and there is no doubt that these games have continued to become popular to a fanbase who enjoy robot (mecha) battles.

So, “Real Steel” was a film that I watched with my nine-year-old and both of us enjoyed it.

For one, “Real Steel” is visually cool to look at with its many robots (one thing that Steven Spielberg emphasized was for actual real robots to be created and thus Legacy Effects was responsible about two dozen of them) and of course, with the film taking place in 2020, you have the cool crystal display futuristic monitors and the control devices for these robots.  While visual effects and set design were absolutely wonderful when it comes to creating Metal Valley, it also helps to have a solid storyline to back it up.

Sure, there is a similar style between father and son like the 1987 film “Over the Top” but for “Real Steel”, but not much was focused on father trying to get closer to the son.  The film focused on the action, and father and son getting closer through their experience of traveling on the robot circuit.  Included in this Blu-ray release is actually a scene cut from the film that would have introduced the emotional connection between father and son, which I did enjoy but understand within the context and the tone of the film of why it was removed for the final cut.

Yes, the son teaches father a lesson storyline is intact and yes, it is rather cliche but the film has a compelling story, but when it comes to these films, it’s not a deep storyline that many people are expecting… it’s the action that people come to watch a robot boxing film.  And “Real Steel” manages to have a pretty enjoyable storyline and wonderful robot action scenes.

Steven Spielberg who learned a lot from his producing work for “Transformers” learned that people love these films for the action but also gave director Shawn Levy some solid advice and also let the director and the crew become creative for this film.   This is where “Real Steel” delivers strongly is its action and visual effects and because real robots were created instead of doing everything on the green screen, it gave Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly a robot to work from visually for their performance. Director Shawn Levy managed to bridge the gap between his actors and its mecha environment.  And as for the robot boxing matchups, these robot boxing matches were simply a joy to watch.

For parents wondering why the film is PG-13 and if it’s worth showing to their children, there is one scene that probably drove this film to a PG-13 rating is when the character of Charlie Kenton is caught by one of the men he owes money too and knowing that his son would be his weakness, one of the men holds his son (who is struggling to get out of the hold) while Charlie is being beaten and kicked.  It’s not a long scene but still, I can understand how censors would make this film a PG-13 because a child was involved in that sequence. So parental guidance is definitely suggested for that scene but other than that, there was no other scene that parents have to worry about.  My son absolutely loved the film but the only part that he didn’t care for is the short romantic scene featuring Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly’s characters kissing, which my son asked me if I could fast forward past that scene.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Real Steel” delivers in picture quality and also fantastic audio and there is also a good amount of special features that are included with this release.

Overall, I can easily recommend “Real Steel”, for its storyline, its visual effects, awesome action and of course, the cool looking robots.  But this is definitely an action film that also looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and a film worth recommending!

Monster House in 3D (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“Monster House in 3D”  features an upgraded release of the previous 2006 Blu-ray, includes both the original 2D version and a 3D version of the film.  3D does showcase good separation between the characters, objects and backgrounds.  How 3D is utilized is subjective to the viewer but I felt it was good and it worked with this 2006 film but at the same time, the 3D was nothing revolutionary.  But for those who enjoyed the film and have not owned the Blu-ray previously, “Monster House in 3D” is worth the purchase and if you have a 3D enabled TV and player, then you also have that extra bonus of having a 3D version of the movie.

Images courtesy of © 2006 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and GH One LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Monster House in 3D

YEAR OF FILM RELEASE: 2006

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) 2D and 3D MVC Encoded 3D, Full Resolution L/R Eye, English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (For scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language)

RELEASE DATE: September 14, 2010

Directed by Gil Kenan

Screenplay by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Pamela Pettier

Story by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab

Executive Producer: Jason Clark, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis

Producer: Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey

Associate Producer: Heather Kelton, Bennett Schneir

Line Producer: Peter M. Tobyansen

Music by Douglas Pipes

Cinematography by Paul C. Babin, Xavier Perez Grobet

Edited by Fabienne Rawley, Adam P. Scott

Casting by Scot Boland, Victoria Burrows

Production Design by Ed Verreaux

Art Direction by Norman Newberry, Greg Papalia

Set Decoration by Kate J. Sullivan

Costume Design by Ruth Myers

Starring:

Steve Buscemi as Nebbercracker

Mitchel Musso as DJ

Catherine O’Hara as Mom

Fred Willard as Dad

Sam Lerner as Chowder

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Zee

Jason Lee as Bones

Spencer Locke as Jenny

Kevin James as Officer Landers

Nick Cannon as Officer Lister

Jon Heder as Reginald “Skull” Skulinski

Kathleen Turner as Constance

Even for a 12-year old, D.J. Walters has a particularly overactive imagination. He is convinced that his haggard and crabby neighbor Horace Nebbercracker, who terrorizes all the neighborhood kids, is responsible for Mrs. Nebbercracker’s mysterious disappearance. Any toy that touches Nebbercracker’s property, promptly disappears, swallowed up by the cavernous house in which Horace lives. D.J. has seen it with his own eyes! But no one believes him, not even his best friend, Chowder. What everyone does not know is D.J. is not imagining things. Everything he’s seen is absolutely true and it’s about to get much worse than anything D.J could have imagined.

For many fans of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis and the work they did with the “Back to the Future” films, the news that the two would collaborate on another project made fans highly anticipating their next film.

The collaboration would bethe 1996 CG animated film “Monster House” as the two filmmakers would serve as executive producers and utilizing performance capturing that was used in Zemeckis’ film “The Polar Express”.  Directing the film would be Gil Kenan (“City of Ember”) and feature a screenplay by Dan Harmon (“Community”, “The Sarah Silverman Program”, “Channel 101”), Rob Schrab (“The Sarah Silverman Program”, “Channel 101”) and Pamela Pettler (“Corpse Bride”, “9”).

The film would feature the voices of Steve Buscemi (“Armageddon”, “The Big Lebowski”, “28 Days”), Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Dark Knight”, “Donnie Darko”, “Mona Lisa Smile”), Mitchel Musso (“Hannah Montana”, “Phineas and Ferb”), Sam Lerner (“The Secret Saturdays”) and Spencer Locke (“Cougar Town”, “Big Time Rush”, “Twentysixmiles”).  As well, as other talents such as Kathleen Turner, Jon Heder, Nick Cannon, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara.

“Monster House” was created with a $75 million budget and grossed over $140 million in the box office.  The film was released on DVD and also one of the first animated films to be released on Blu-ray (2006) and will now be released on Blu-ray in 3D on Sept. 14th.  It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release also features a new upgraded version of “Monster House” in HD as well.

The film revolves around DJ Walters (voiced by Mitchel Musso), a boy who spies on Mr. Nebbercracker (voiced by Steve Buscemi), a cranky, creepy older man who doesn’t like people walking on his yard.  If anyone loses a ball or bike, he will confiscate it and not return it.   DJ happens to watch a young girl lose her tricycle on Nebbercracker’s yard and has been keeping tabs on the things Nebbercracker had confiscated.

With Halloween coming up, DJ’s parents are leaving for the weekend and leave him in the care of his babysitter Elizabeth “Zee” (voiced by Maggie Gyllenhaal), a hard rock girl who actually is a nice girl in front of his parents but looks at the opportunity of babysitting as a way to be alone with her boyfriend Bones (voiced by Jason Lee).

One day when DJ and his friend Chowder (voiced by Sam Lerner) are playing ball, the ball lands on Nebbercracker’s lawn and as DJ tries to pick it up, Nebbercracker comes out and starts screaming at DJ and tries to grab him.  But in the process, Nebbercracker collapses and DJ and Chowder think Nebbercracker is dead.  When the paramedics come, DJ finds a gold key that Nebbercracker had dropped.  Meanwhile, that night, someone tries to call DJ and when he does a star 69, he hears the call going to the Nebbercracker’s house.  Someone in the house is trying to call him.

DJ sneaks out of the house at night and he and Chowder talk that someone is there even though Nebbercracker is gone (they think he is dead).  When Chowder tries to ding-dong-ditch the house, the house reacts and tries to eat him.  Chowder escapes and both run back to the house feeling the house is alive (and evil).

Meanwhile, the following day, Jennifer “Jenny” Bennett (voiced by Spencer Locke) is trying to sell Halloween chocolates and as she goes door to door, DJ and Chowder see her going towards Nebbercracker’s house.  As they run to stop her, Jenny is then attacked by the house but the three manage to escape.

They try to call the cops, but police officers Landers and Lester (voiced by Kevin James and Nick Cannon) do not believe them.

The kids then try to get advice from Reginald “Skull” Skulinski about the house and he tells them that a human soul had merged with the house.  The kids come to the conclusion is that Nebbercracker has fused with the house and the only way to kill the house is to destroy its heart.

Meanwhile, the house has eaten Zee’s ex-boyfriend Bones and police officers Landers and Lester.  So, now DJ, Chowder and Jenny go on a mission to get inside the house to destroy it.

VIDEO:

“Monster House in 3D” has two versions of the film, 2D and 3D.  The 2D version is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) and the 3D version is presented in MVC Encoded 3D – Full Resolution L/R Eye.

“Monster House” is a film that utilizes performance capture technology.  Black levels are nice and deep, there is a faux fine layer of grain, there is a good amount of detail on the clothing, especially how you can see the threading in DJ’s sweater and for a film created in 2006, the film still holds up today.   It may not have the super detail of today’s CG animated films but the film still holds up quite well but of course, it will look a bit dated since 3D technology is improving at a quick rate.

But the biggest difference between this release is that the film is presented in AVC not MPEG-2.  Also, the previous release was utilizing the older BD-25 (which many films on Blu-ray were released on).

But the real purpose for people wanting this release is the 3D.  With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s awesome release of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3D” earlier this year, this is the second 3D offering from the company.

It’s important to note that to play this 3D, you will need a TV that is 3D enabled and comes with its own 3D glasses (or purchase them separately in pack) and also a Blu-ray player that is 3D-enabled as well.

With that being said, I do have personal opinions on 3D.  Films that were created and made for 3D such as “Avatar” (which was exceptionally done) and then there are films in 3D such as “Toy Story 3” in which the animation was great but the 3D was good especially of how the backgrounds were utilized.  And these two films have something in common, they are newer films.

With “Monster House” and possibly more older films in the near future, we are going to see these older films being given the 3D treatment.   So, here are my impressions on “Monster House in 3D”.  Backgrounds are well utilized as we can see the characters pop from the original backgrounds.   We can see how the trees that are lined up on the side of Nebbercracker’s home really do stick out in 3D.   Another good example of 3D usage is something as basic as the steps of Nebbercracker’s home looking very good, especially the blades of grass which looks very good in 3D.   The more action driven scenes especially as the kids try to destroy the house is well done but once again, it’s mostly how objects stand out.  It’s well done but for me, it’s not the 3D I prefer.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Monster House in 3D” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and also Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The previous release was presented in LPCM 5.1 (and English, French and Korean Dolby Digital 5.1).  “Monster House in 3D” features an impressive soundtrack as you can hear the creaks and cracks when the monster house begins to expand and swallow things around it.  You can hear the leaves and fire and ambiance through the surround channels, while hearing LFE during the more action-driven scenes.

Dialogue is crisp and clear as well as the music from composer Douglas Pipes.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Monster House in 3D” comes with the following special features:

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D Sneak Peek – For those with a 3D enabled TV and the 3D glasses that came with the television and a 3D enabled Blu-ray player can watch a sneak peek of the 3D version of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D” (which is currently available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).
  • Open House 3D Sneak Peek – For those with a 3D enabled TV and the 3D glasses that came with the television and a 3D enabled Blu-ray player can watch a sneak peek of the 3D version of “Open House 3D” (which is currently available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).
  • Filmmakers Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Gil Kenan and a few others who worked on the film.  Unfortunately, aside from the director, the other people don’t identify themselves in the beginning of the commentary.  But overall, a very informative commentary which goes into detail on the characters, the scenes in the film and more.
  • Inside Monster House – (24:40) Featuring the following featurettes (in standard definition): Imaginary Heroes, Beginners Luck, The Best of Friends, Lots of Dots, Black Box Theater, Making It Real and Did You Hear That?
  • Evolution of a Scene: Eliza vs. Nebbercracker – (20:00) Featuring the following opening scene of little Eliza and Nebbercracker and how this scene went through various formats before its finalization.  Director Gil Kenan and artists discuss what they were trying to achieve.  Featuring the featurette, story reel animatic, performance capture, layout stage, animation, final film and composite.  Presented in standard definition.
  • The Art of Monster House – Using your remote, you can view conceptual art, character designs with the people of the animated film, places and things and more.

I absolutely love “Monster House” and love the characters, especially how the creators were able to work in the facial expressions for DJ, Chowder, Jenny and Zee.  Loved the more darker, scarier storyline.  It’s a bit macabre when you think of who is possessing the house and how it happened, especially how Nebbercracker was created.    The voice acting also made the film much more enjoyable as there is a considerable amount of talent who worked on this film.

Although the film has children as the main leads, this is a PG film and I can tell you right now that I’ve tried to show this too my child (seven year old) and he was scared and refused to watch more than 15 minutes of it, suffice to say, Nebbercracker freaked him out.  So, I wouldn’t be surprised if other parents experienced the same situation with their children.

But what many people will want to know about “Monster House in 3D” is how the overall 3D experience is and as mentioned earlier, I have my opinions when it comes to how 3D is being utilized with today’s films.

In my opinion, for me, there are two types of films in 3D and it depends on what kind of the 3D you like.  As mentioned, “Avatar” or even “Captain EO” which I watched in Disneyland many times which features creatures and things flying up to you.  That is the 3D I love.  But with 3D in which characters and objects look in 3D and things stand out (like “Toy Story 3”), I’m not as impressed.  If anything, what I do like about this release is that you are getting both films in 3D and 2D and giving viewers that extra incentive.  Especially giving them that extra incentive to watch the movie again and making them wanting to buy the film.

“Monster House in 3D” is a film that I really enjoy watching and even watching it once again, I still haven’t grown tired of it.  I did enjoy seeing how things look in 3D but once again, it’s not the type of 3D that I was hoping for but it does work.  Also, it is important to remind people that “Monster House” is an older animated film (2006) and not like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” which was released this year.  The way 3D was used for that film especially how many things are falling everywhere, was well done.

“Monster House” unfortunately, was not originally created with 3D in mind but yet, the 3D does work.  Not magnificently, but it’s good enough to watch and see how 3D was implemented throughout the film.  But I’m more of the type who wants to see things moving around and I feel like I can put my hand up and feel like about to touch it.

I also feel that 3D is best appreciated for those who have bigger viewing areas.  At a movie theater, you have a much larger screen to work with and I feel that 3D works much better in theater setting but once again, that is my opinion.

But I do feel that “Monster House in 3D” is a fantastic release.  For one, it’s a very good upgrade from the older original release (in fact, I feel that any Blu-ray disc released in 2006-2007 will probably need to be re-released as the format was not exactly properly well-utilized in the beginning) and two, you get the original 2D and 3D versions of the film.  Special features are still the same and I still have a beef with the audio commentary as we don’t know who the heck is talking as the people commenting, didn’t even announce themselves at the beginning of the audio commentary (with the exception of director Gil Kenan).

Overall, I feel that “Monster House in 3D” was an enjoyable release and for those who purchased the original Blu-ray will definitely want this version for the upgrade (and for those who didn’t purchase the Blu-ray earlier and have enjoyed the movie) and by then, you can always go back to it as 3D TV’s and 3D enabled Blu-ray players will become a standard.  If you enjoyed the film for the first time and still don’t own it, then this Blu-ray release is definitely worth considering.

War of the Worlds on Blu-ray 6/1/10

March 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

TOM CRUISE STARS IN A THRILLING RENDITION OF THE CLASSIC H.G. WELLS TALE DIRECTED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG,
ARRIVING ON BLU-RAY FOR THE FIRST TIME

WAR OF THE WORLDS

Visually-Stunning and Action-Packed Sci-Fi Thriller Debuts on Blu-ray June 1, 2010 Featuring Over Two Hours of Special Features

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. – When the Earth is suddenly invaded by menacing aliens in giant fighting machines, one family struggles for survival in the
eye-popping adventure WAR OF THE WORLDS, directed by Steven Spielberg and landing on Blu-ray for the first time ever June 1, 2010 from Paramount Home Entertainment. A DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures co-production,
WAR OF THE WORLDS stars Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, a father who is desperately trying to protect his teenage son (Justin Chatwin) and 10-year-old daughter
(Dakota Fanning) from the relentless alien onslaught that is destroying everything in its path. Fueled by the desire to reunite the children with their mother, Ray battles to shepherd his family from New Jersey to Boston, all the while fending off the mysterious and deadly aliens.

Filled with stunning visual effects and non-stop action, the
WAR OF THE WORLDS Blu-ray features the finest picture and sound quality to further enhance this sci-fi classic. The Blu-ray also features over two hours of bonus material including in-depth production diaries following the crew from the east coast to the west coast, featurettes on H. G. Wells’ legacy, scoring the film, the characters and previsualization, multiple photo galleries and more.

WAR OF THE WORLDS Blu-ray

The WAR OF THE WORLDS Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital along with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. Special features are presented in standard definition except where noted HD:
· Revisiting the Invasion
· The H.G. Wells Legacy
· Steven Spielberg and the Original War of the Worlds
· Characters: The Family Unit
· Previsualization
· Production Diaries
o East Coast—Beginning
o East Coast—Exile
o West Coast—Destruction
o West Coast—War
· Designing the Enemy: Tripods and Aliens
· Scoring War Of The Worlds
· We Are Not Alone
· Galleries
o Sketches by Costume Designer Joanna Johnston
o Production Stills
o Behind the Scenes
o Production Sketches
· Theatrical Teaser Trailer (HD)

WAR OF THE WORLDS Blu-ray
Street date: June 1, 2010
Pricing: $39.99 U.S.
Runtime: 117 minutes
U.S. Rating: PG-13 for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images
Canadian Rating: 14A

Minority Report – On Blu-ray 4/20/10

January 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. – Director Steven Spielberg brings the dark future of Philip K. Dick’s prescient short story to life in the action-packed sci-fi film MINORITY REPORT, debuting on Blu-ray April 20, 2010 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Starring Tom Cruise as John Anderton, a Washington D.C. detective in the year 2054, MINORITY REPORT deals with themes of mind control and concealed identity against a backdrop of a stunningly realized future complete with technological gadgets and advancements devised by a team of futurists assembled by the director. Anderton works for Precrime, a special unit of the police department that arrests murderers before they’ve committed the act by relying on the visions of three psychic “precogs.” But when Anderton is accused, he becomes a fugitive and begins to suspect a cover-up that could have far-reaching implications for the Precrime department.
The MINORITY REPORT Blu-ray features over an hour of all-new bonus material including an extensive look at the future according to Steven Spielberg, an exploration of the world of Precrime, previz sequences, featurettes on Philip K. Dick, the film’s futuristic props and the making of key scenes, commercials of the future and more. The disc also includes previously released special features on the breathtaking stunts, the work of ILM, the film’s journey from story to screen and much, much more.

MINORITY REPORT Blu-ray:

The MINORITY REPORT Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The following new bonus features are all presented in high definition:

The Future According to Steven Spielberg (HD)
Inside the World of Precrime (HD)
Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg and Minority Report (HD)
Minority Report: Future Realized (HD)
Minority Report: Props of the Future (HD)
Highlights from Minority Report: From the Set
The Hoverpack Sequence (HD)
The Car Factory Sequence (HD)
Minority Report: Commercials of the Future (HD)
Previz Sequences
The Hoverpack Sequence Previz (HD)
Maglev Chase Previz (HD)

Previously released bonus material is presented in standard definition, except as noted:
From Story to Screen
Deconstructing Minority Report
The Stunts of Minority Report
ILM and Minority Report
Final Report
Production Concepts
Storyboard Sequences
Trailers (HD)

The Mask of Zorro (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Fun, sexy, exciting and highly entertaining! Definitely the best “Zorro” film ever made thus far!  Fans of the film will love the picture quality and lossless audio soundtrack on Blu-ray.  A solid release!

Images courtesy of © 1998 Global Entertainment Productions GmbH & Co. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Mask of Zorro

DURATION: 137 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/2:40:1, English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

RATED: PG-13 (For Some Intense Action and Violence)

COMPANY: Tri Star/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2009

Based on the character “Zorro” by Johnston McCulley

Directed by Martin Campbell

Screenplay by John Eskow, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

Story by Tedd Elliott, Terry Rossio, Randal Jahnson

Executive Producers: Steven Spielberg, Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald

Produced by Doug Claybourne, David Foster

Co-Producer: John Gertz

Music by James Horner

Cinematography by Phil Meheux

Editing by Thom Noble

Casting by Pam Dixon

Production Design by Cecilia Montiel

Art Direction by Michael Atwell

Set Decoration by Denise Carnargo

Costume Design by Graciela Mazon

Starring:

Anthony Hopkins as Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro

Atonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Elena Montero/Elena Murrieta

Stuart Wilson as Don Rafael Montero

Matt Letscher as Capt. Harrison Love

Tony Amendola as Don Luiz

Pedro Armendariz Jr. as Don Pedro

William Marquez as Fray Felipe

Jose Perez as Cpl. Armando Garcia

Victor Rivers as Joaquin Murrieta

L.Q. Jones as Three-Fingered Jack

Julieta Rosen as Esperanza de la Vega

Luisa Huertas as Nanny

When a power-crazed despot schemes to buy California from Mexico, it takes two Zorros – the legendary Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) and his chosen successor Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), a dashing bandit-turned-hero-to defeat the tyrant’s unscrupulous plans.  But can even their combined skills, bravado and derring-do be enough to achieve de la Vega’s ultimate goal: revenge against the man who killed his wife, kidnapped his daughter and held him prisoner for twenty years?

For 90 years, many fans of “Zorro” have seen quite a few adaptation of the swashbuckling hero who dons a black mask, cape, clothing and his sword.

From the original books from 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley to the silent films by Douglas Fairbanks and one of my favorites, the 1958-1960 Disney television series starring Guy Williams.  But there has been a sort of lull when it came to “Zorro” films and before the 1998 film “The Mask of Zorro”, we were left with the George Hamilton comedy “Zorro, the Gay Blade” in 1981.

But in 1998, producer Steven Spielberg (“Indiana Jones” films, “Schindler’s List”, “E.T.”, “Jurassic Park” films) along with director Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”, “Vertical Limit”, “GoldenEye”) began working on a new action film based on the hero for a new generation of moviegoers.  Featuring a screenplay by John Eskow (“Air America”, “Pink Cadillac”), Ted Elliott (“National Treasure”and “Pirates of the Carribean” films) and Terry Rossio (“Pirates of the Carribean” films), music by James Horner (“The Spiderwicke Chronicles”, “Troy”, “Enemy at the Gates”) and cinematographer Phil Meheux (“Casino Royale”, “Around the World in 80 Days”, “GoldenEye”).

The film was released in theaters during the Summer of ’98 and with a budget of $95 million, the film went on to make over $250 million worldwide and was received positively by critics.

For those not familiar with the “Zorro” storyline, the films and TV series have focused on the Don Diego de la Vega, a man who comes from a political family from Spain and is known for being an intellectual man in high society but a man who does not like seeing the corrupted military officials mistreating the locals.  So, in order to help them, Don Diego dons the black mask and cape and uses the disguise of Zorro to fight the oppression and help the unfortunate in California and takes on the Spanish military leaders and their soldiers.  Whenever people are mistreated, Zorro comes to the rescue.

In “The Mask of Zorro”, Don Diego de la Vega (played by Anthony Hopkins, “Howards End”, “Silence of the Lambs”, “Hannibal” “Red Dragon”) is now an older man in his 40’s.  He is married to Esperanza and together, they have a new baby named Elena.  While the Spanish rule in California is winding down, the antagonist Don Rafael Montero (played by Stuart Wilson, “Enemy of the State”, “Grindhouse”, “Hot Fuzz”) knows his power is slipping and wants to show his power towards the Mexican people one more time by having a few more executions.

But Don de la Vega puts on the mask of Zorro one last time to save the people and in the process, saving two kids named Alejandro Murrieta and his older brother Joaquin and giving Joaquin his silver medallion.

Coming home injured, Don knows that he is getting to old to be the hero, he promises Esperanza that it was his last time he will be Zorro but unknown to both people, Montero and his men were listening.  As they try to apprehend Don, his wife is accidentally shot by one of Montero’s soldier.  Because Montero has looked at de la Vega as his rival for Esperanza, he wants to take away everything from him.  Burning his home, locking him up in prison for 20 years and in the process, taking his daughter and raising her as his own.

Flash forward twenty years later, the two kids that Zorro saved: Alejandro (played by Antonio Banderas, “Spy Kids” films, “Desperado”) and Joaquin Murrieta are now adults and are thieves.  After a robbery, the Murrieta brothers who plan to make a getaway, are stopped by Capt. Harrison Love (Matt Letscher, “Eli Stone”, “Brothers and Sisters”) and instead of leniency, Love savagely kills Joaquin and shoots down their other friend, leaving Alejandro by himself.

Meanwhile, Montero returns to California and returns to the prison which Don de la Vega had been held for 20 years.  This opportunity gives de la Vega a chance to escape and exact his revenge on Montero.  But realizing that his own daughter Elena (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Traffic”, “Entrapment”, “Chicago”) has been raised thinking that Montero is her true father.

Through circumstances, Don Diego de la Vega and Alejandro Murrieta’s path comes together once again and both are bent on getting revenge.  But before they go any further, Don Diego trains the Alejandro to become the new Zorro and to become a gentleman in society.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Mask of Zorro” is presented in 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio 2:40:1).  I was quite pleased with the picture quality of the film as there was pretty good detail on the texture of the Mexican and Spanish clothing, detail of the interiors of Don’s cave hideout and the dirt and grime on the Murrieta boys.  A good number of shots were outdoors, so there was a good amount of lighting.  Skin tones were natural and you can see Anthony Hopkins blue eyes quite clearly.  I tend to get a bit unnerved with some films shot during the 80’s and 90’s because they look a bit waxy but “The Mask of Zorro” looks very good for a 1998 film.

As for audio, the film is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA (and Spanish 5.1).  The soundtrack for the film is actually fantastic.  For an older film, I was expecting a front and center channel driven soundtrack but “The Mask of Zorro” really takes advantage of the surround and rear surround channels and also some LFE.  You hear the crowds clapping all around you during a scene when Montero arrives back to California.  Horses galloping and thunder is also well heard.  Fighting sequences, gun shots, explosions are really utilized quite well and for the most part, similar to “Air Force One” which is a 90’s film that was given great audio by Sony, the same can be said for “The Mask of Zorro”.  The lossless soundtrack is clear, understandable and quite immersive during the action sequences.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Mask of Zorro” comes with the following special features presented in standard definition, English stereo and optional Portuguese or Spanish subtitles:

  • movieIQ – With BD-Live, you can obtain information about the film online while watching the film (optional).
  • Director’s Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Marc Campbell.  Campbell provides insight on each scene and very thorough in his explanation of the talent, the set and more.
  • Exclusive Documentary: Unmasking Zorro – (45:05) The making of “The Mask of Zorro” featuring director Martin Campbell, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Antonio Banderas and more talking about the film, the history of Zorro, the production and costume design of the film, the music and more.
  • Deleted Scenes – (4:50) Featuring two deleted scenes: The Wallet and The Resolution.
  • “The Legend of Zorro” Behind-the-Scenes Peek – (5:02) A behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The Legend of Zorro” and interviews with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Antonio Banderas and director Martin Campbell who talk about reuniting seven years later for the sequel of “The Mask of Zorro”.
  • Music Video by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena -(4:51) Music video for “I Spent My Whole Life Loving You” by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena.
  • Exclusive Scene from “The Legend of Zorro” – (1:43) A short sneak peek of the 2005 film “Legend of Zorro”.

It actually has been a Zorro month for me during Fall/Winter 2009.  Having watched the complete “Zorro” TV series from 1958-1960, I was enchanted by the humor, drama and the action.  So, watching “The Mask of Zorro”, I felt that it was perfect timing on my part because the film was almost like a continuation of previous films and even the TV series because you forward to the future in which the hero Don de la Vega is now an older man, married and knowing that he’s getting too old to be doing jumps and escaping harm.

I was a bit skeptical at first seeing Anthony Hopkins taking on the role of Don Diego.  Mainly because I’ve gotten so used to seeing Guy Williams playing the role of “Zorro” but because this role calls for an older Don Diego, Hopkins is such a talented actor, that he makes you feel comfortable towards his character.

You easily accept him and sympathize for him as Don Diego goes through the worst, imaginable things that the hero has ever experienced.  But enter Antonio Banderas.  One thing that Guy Williams captured in the classic TV series is a character with class, charisma and is able to deliver in the action.  Banderas starts off as a bit of a ruffian but through the course of the film, we see the thief become the hero and much more refined.

And as for Catherine Zeta-Jones, she looks absolutely beautiful in this film and together, she and Banderas played their characters of Alejandro and Elena quite well.  They both have that chemical/sexual attraction towards each other but also, aside from the dramatics, the two also have a good repertoire for utilizing their characters to earn some laughs from the audience.

One thing that the original TV series had was high production value in which Walt Disney himself made sure “Zorro” utilized.  So, when Steven Spielberg was the name behind the producing of this film, you knew that there would be significant action scenes and most of all, a film that would receive good financing to pull off these fight scenes that Zorro is known for.  May it be him battling with a sword, climbing on rooftops or chandeliers,  being chased on horseback to Zorro taking on dozens of men, fight choreography was done well and cinematography was also solid and for the most part, those scenes were highly enjoyable.

“The Mask of Zorro” was definitely a hallmark for Zorro films.  After that periodic lull of having nothing satisfying since the late 1950’s and early 60’s, it was great to see the character of Zorro done well for this film. A screenplay that is not only action-driven but also character driven and you get all the humor and sexual attraction in this film as well.

Having seen the TV series and a few of the Zorro films in the past, I’m confident to say that “The Mask of Zorro” is the best Zorro film ever made thus far. For those of us who grew up watching the adventures of Don Diego de la Vega, this film is simply the passing of the title to a new character for a new generation of viewers.  Fortunately, the film was handled quite well and I really enjoyed seeing this film again and I’m sure you will too.  Definitely recommended!

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