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Take Me Home Tonight (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Take Me Home Tonight” will no doubt attract those interested in the ’80s through its music but the film’s overall plot is formulaic,  predictable and fails to generate any excitement.

Images courtesy of ©2011 American  Kids, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Take Me Home Tonight

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 97 minutes

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

RATED: R (Language, Sexual Content and Drug Use)

COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: July 19, 2011

Directed by Michael Dowse

Screenplay by Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo

Story by Topher Grace, Gordon Kaywin

Executive Produced by Sarah Bowen, Topher Grace, Gordon Kaywin, James Whitaker, Dany Wolf

Muisc by Trevor Horn

Cinematography by Terry Stacey

Edited by Lee Haxall

Casting by Joanna Colbert, Richard Mento

Production Design by Elliott Glick

Set Decoration by David Smith, Donna Stamps

Costume Design by Carol Oditz

Starring:

Topher Grace as Matt Franklin

Anna Faris as Wendy Franklin

Dan Fogler as Barry Nathan

Teresa Palmer as Tori Frederking

Chris Pratt as Kyle Masterson

Michael Biehn as Bill Franklin

Lucy Punch as Shelly

Michelle Trachtenberg as Ashley

Angie Everhart as Trish Anderson

Experience this generation’s most outrageous comedy when TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT comes home on Blu-ray and DVD July 19th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. With exciting special features including deleted scenes, music videos and more, re-live all the hilarious hijinks when the party movie of the summer arrives July 19th on Blu-ray and DVD.

TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT follows three friends on the verge of adulthood who attend an out-of-control party in celebration of their last night of unbridled youth. Starring Topher Grace (“That 70’s Show,” Predators), Anna Faris (The House Bunny), Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) and Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four), TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT is a raunchy, romantic, ridiculous and raucous ride set to an awesome soundtrack of timeless rock and hiphop hits.

Filmmaker Michael Dowse maybe known for his films based on movie and beer and his FUBAR films have a big following in Canada and when you get opportunities to try some big, you go for it!

Dowse went on to create the British film “It’s All Gone Pete Tong” and in the U.S., the filmmaker got his opportunity to direct his first feature film “Take Me Home Tonight”, a retro ’80s comedy film starring Topher Grace (“That ’70′s Show”, “Spider-Man 3″, “Predators”), Anna Faris (“Lost in Translation”, “House Bunny”, “Scary Movie” films), Dan Fogler (“Balls of Fury”, “Kung Fu Panda”, “Fanboys”), “Teresa Palmer” (“I Am Number Four”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) and Chris Pratt (“Jennifer’s Body”, “Bride Wars”, “Wanted”).  The film would also benefit by its screenplay by Jackie and Jeff Filgo, known for their writing on TV shows such as “That ’70s Show”, “Hank” and “New Adventures of Old Christine” and the film “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”.

Executive produced by Topher Grace, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll is nothing new to the actor who pretty much did just that for “That ’70s Show”, but this time around, “Take Me Home Tonight” takes place in 1988 and a film bundled with popular ’80s songs which include “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran, “Straight Outta Compton” by NWA, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung, “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

But the film has had its challenges.  While completed in 2007, the film was shelved by Universal Studios and it took four years for it to be released in theaters.  Topher Grace said that the delay was due to the studio not knowing how to handle and promote a youth comedy film with portrayal of cocaine use.

The film was eventually acquired by Relativity Media (subsidiary to Rogue) and released in theaters by Twentieth Century Fox in spring 2011.

“Take Me Home Tonight” takes place in 1988 and focuses on Matt Franklin (played by Topher Grace), a young man who excelled in school, excellent with numbers, graduated from MIT but is unsure what he wants to do with his life, he takes a job working at Suncoast Video with his twin sister Wendy (played by Anna Faris) and his best friend Barry Nathan (played by Dan Fogler).

One day, while working at the shop, he runs into an old schoolmate who has started his own business and shocks his schoolmate when he tells him that he didn’t work for a major company but is working at Suncoast Video.  When he sees his high school crush, Tori Fredreking (played by Teresa Palmer) come in to the store, Matt takes off his uniform and tries to pretend that he is shopping at the store.

Both talk and Tori talks about how she works for an investment company and when she asks him where he works, he lies and tells her that he works at Goldman Sachs.  Tori asks if he is going to Kyle Masterson’s (played by Chris Pratt) party and since his sister Wendy dates Kyle, Matt decides to go to the party (even though he doesn’t like Kyle).

Meanwhile, Matt’s friend Barry has lost his other job (Working at a car lot) and in his drunken stupor, wants to get back at his boss by by stealing one of the nicer cars on the lot.

As Matt and Barry drive to the party, they discover that the car has cocaine inside the glove compartment. Matt tries to prevent his friend from taking the drugs but since Barry is depressed, Barry takes the drugs along with him.

While at the party, Matt tries to get close to Teresa, continuing his lie that he works at Goldman Sachs.  Meanwhile, Barry is drunk and now under the influence of cocaine and behaving crazily at the party.  Meanwhile, for Wendy, who has big dreams of going to a great college, she is suddenly shocked when her boyfriend Kyle proposes to her in front of everyone.  Matt is disappointing because she has a lot going for herself and worries that if she stays with Kyle, she would be nothing but a housewife.

With Matt now trying to get close with Tori by lying, Barry trying to hide his depression by being drunk and on drugs and Wendy not knowing if she will pursue a life of marriage or education, this night will change the lives of these individuals from that day forward.

“Take Me Home Tonight” also stars Michael Biehn (“Terminator”, “Aliens”, “The Rock”), Michelle Trachtenberg (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Euro Trip”, “Gossip Girl”), Lucy Punch (“Bad Teacher”, “Dinner for Schmucks”, “Hot Fuzz”),  mode/actress Angie Everhart and reality TV star Audrina Patridge.

VIDEO:

“Take Me Home Tonight” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1).  Picture quality for the film is good but the majority of the film does take place during the night.  Skintones are natural and there is good detail as you can see the closeup of the ’80s style clothing, the sweat (and that white powdery substance) on Dan Fogler’s face.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding, black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, picture quality is good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Take Me Home Tonight” is a dialogue and music-driven film presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  While dialogue is crystal clear, the emphasis is the film’s use of ’80s music and in that sense, the music comes off quite clear via lossless.

While the film does have it share of crowd ambiance during the two party sequences and also various crashing sequences, the film is pretty much dominated by dialogue and music.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Take Me Home Tonight” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (11:00) Seven deleted scenes
  • Cast Get Together – (8:12) Topher Grace, Teresa Palmer, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Chris Pratt reunite to talk about their experience working on the film.
  • Music Boombox – Featuring factoids on the various bands that performed the popular ’80s music in the film.  You can select the scene of when the music is being played in the film.
  • Take Me Home Tonight Music Video – (3:57) No, this is not the Eddie Money music video but Atomic Punk’s cover of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and featuring the cast of “Take Me Home Tonight” spoofing ’80s films.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:28) The original theatrical trailer.
  • TV Spots  – (1:03) Two TV spots for the film.
EXTRAS:
“Take Me Home Tonight” comes with a digital copy of the film.

Sex…alcohol…drugs, there was something about ’80s films that made things feel right.

Where ’70s drive-in films were expected to be full of sexy, bad dialogue and excessive camp and violence, ’80s films began to drop the hardcore violence and focused more on horny teenagers, crazy antics and nudity.  Sure, the ’80s films had a sense of campiness but at least they were able to maintain that sense of underdog gets the hot girl banal storyline and-reuse it and still making it fresh and fun!

From “Porky’s”, “Private School”, “Better Off Dead”, “Animal House”, “Zapped”, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” to the “Revenge of the Nerds” films, there were so many of these films that were hilarious, fun and you couldn’t stop watching them over and over.

And then you had films that dealt with sex, alcohol and drugs…coming-of-age films with substance such as “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “Pretty in Pink” and “Say Anything” that featured crazy partying, drama, sex, etc. Films that were just right for the ’80s. Films that were exciting, fun but yet had music that were part of pop culture.

As a child of the ’70s and a teenager of the ’80s, I have had my opportunities to grow up and experience a lot of the ’80s teen party or coming-of-age type of films.

So, when I saw the commercials of “Take Me Home Tonight”, I was very excited because I saw how Topher Grace was on “That ’70s Show” and knowing that the writers behind the show were involved with this film, how can it fail?  Right?

And the fact that it stars two stars known for their crazy comedy – Anna Faris and Dan Fogler, you just don’t know what to expect.  Also, it was cool to know that Teresa Palmer, Michael Biehn, Lucy Punch and Michelle Trachtenberg were in the film.

But unfortunately, the screenplay by Jackie and Jeff Filgo just fell flat on its face.  And it’s a shame because the Filgo’s know how to do comedy, unfortunately the execution of the comedy and the ’80s storyline didn’t seem right.  The film felt forced and it tried to go for quick laughs using Dan Fogler to fill in the role that is reminiscent of Jack Black and Jonah Hill.  A wannabe Apatow-like film for the late ’80s.

And while I’m up for that kind of humor…I was a bit disappointed about how this film turned out and I’m not alone as film critics also panned the film.

For one thing, by the late ’80s, none of us growing up in high school were listening to early ’80s music.  Duran Duran, Dixie’s Midnight Runners, Human League, The Buggles were replaced by the Guns n Roses, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, R.E.M., Debbie Gibson, UB40, INXS, George Michael, Expose, The Jets, Ton Loc, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince,  Bobby Brown, New Kids on the Block and Whitney Houston.  The late 80′s was a different beast…   Viewers grew up with MTV for music videos, ’90s and people today grow up with MTV for reality TV.

So, people have to realize that in the ’80s, we were watching what was popular on MTV and in the late ’80s, especially 1988, we were not listening to Duran Duran, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Human League, The Buggles…  By 1988, we were partying to Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible”, UB40′s “Red Red Wine”, Beach Boys “Kokomo” or Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, INXS “Need You Tonight”, George Michael’s “Faith”, Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” and yes, even that song “Never Gonna Give You Up”, Rick Astley’s popular song now for rickrolling.

So, trying to emulate an ’80s film from 1988 and have the music wrong is just bad!

Second, to emulate an ’80s film.  You need to have the look.  While music used was early ’80s, I felt that the clothes were more early ’90s.  Some parts such as hairstyle seemed right but the look and the feel of the characters were out of the element.

And I know, younger people who did not grow up in the ’80s, let alone the ’90s, could care less about the music and everything is grouped together as part of the ’80s.

OK, so for now, I’ll let the music and fashion slide and focus on the overall plot.  Can this film be any formulaic?  Guy meets girl he loved in high school, guy goes to party with girl, guy gets closer to girl and it all seems peachy keen for Topher Grace’s character but I felt the story’s subplot, involving Matt’s sister, played by Anna Faris was thrown in to the story and the actress, was not well-utilized.   Dan Fogler was playing a similar role of the crazy and weird best friend but it seemed as if the writers were trying to come up with weird situations that were not funny at all.   And as much as I enjoy watching Teresa Palmer, I felt that I was watching this film for more Teresa Palmer and her beauty than her involvement in the film as an actress.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture and audio quality were very good and you do get a digital copy of the film and as for the special features, you do get deleted scenes, a reunion of the cast (remember that this film was completed back in 2007 and shelved for a few years until its release in 2011), the music boom box for those interested in the music of the film and more.

Overall, “Take Me Home Tonight” was OK.  The film’s humor and its story just falls flat and the screenplay was too formulaic, predictable and not funny.  If you want a cool film about the underdog going after the girl, kids drinking and having fun, partying and characters that were well-utilized plus a film with an awesome soundtrack…check out the 1989 film “Say Anything” which is an awesome ’80s film that gets it right!

Q&A Interview with Teresa Palmer of “I Am Number Four” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

May 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Images courtesy of ©2011 DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

With the upcoming release of “I Am Number Four” on Blu-ray and DVD on May 24th, 2011, J!-ENT will be featuring Q&A interviews with the cast and crew of the film.

We began with actor Alex Pettyfer, who plays the main protagonist, John Smith (or Number Four).Our second Q&A, we  featured Dianna Agron, who plays the character of Sarah in the film.  And now we feature Teresa Palmer, the actress who plays Number Six in “I Am Number Four”.

Born in Australia, Teresa Palmer has starred in films “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, “Bedtime Stories”, “Take Me Home Tonight” and “The Grudge 2″.

Here is the Q&A media interview with actress Teresa Palmer.

Q:  How much fun was it playing this  powerful and very sexy character?

A:  “It was wonderful.  It was very empowering to play such a strong character. I don’t think that we often see female warriors like this on screen and she really is a bit of a hero. She’s intimidating, but also I think she is alluring and charming and sassy. There’s definitely something mysterious about her, too. I think when we’re introduced to her, we don’t really know if she’s one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. And I like that about her. It was very refreshing.”

 

Q: Were   you inspired by any female warriors?

A:  “I actually referenced Angelina Jolie in this film, not so much her as a person but her performances in TOMB RAIDER and in WANTED. I think she’s the perfect female warrior.  There’s something about Angie that’s very intoxicating and intimidating all at the same time and  Number Six has similar qualities. I just think Angelina is so phenomenal, there is something very mysterious about her too, so she is a great role model for me.”

 

Q:  How do you see Number Six? What kind of person is she?

A:  “I think she’s a dark horse and she has complexities to her. She’s used to living an isolated lifestyle, so there’s a part of her that’s quite lonely on the inside and she has vulnerabilities like anyone else. She wants to be loved and she wants to fit in, but she has a very tough exterior; you would not want to cross her and you can tell that she means business.  I also think she’s very calculated, which is quite funny because all those things are very different from who I am. It meant that I had to make a real transformation from myself to portray Number Six.”

 

Q:  How are you different and what to you share with the character?

A:  “Well we do have a similar style in clothes.  I’m a rocker, my wardrobe’s all black (although today I’m dressed as girlie as possible so as to provide a contrast with my role in this movie). Number Six is a ‘bad-ass chick’ wearing tight black jeans and a big belt and a chain dangling down. She has a tattoo and a skeleton ring and she is definitely ‘out there’. In general I’m a bubbly, jovial sort of girl.  I am very open, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I don’t really have a tough exterior at all like Number Six.  I   just am who I am and that’s it.  I still don’t understand what they saw in me in the audition because I came in, I was super bubbly and I probably should have acted a little more tough, but I guess it ended up working because they cast me, which was great.”

Q:  How did you prepare for this role, there’s a lot of tough action?

A: “It was such a physical role so it meant that I was training for weeks and months. I learned martial arts, I worked with Peng Zhang, an amazing fight coordinator who specializes in martial arts.  I became a stuntwoman, I had to learn how to fall and fight and use a sword and shoot a gun. I wanted to actually become the character, not to fake it. And then, of course, I had learn to ride the Ducati motorbike that you see me riding in the movie. That took a few weeks. I started learning on a little dirt bike and then I gradually worked my way up and then finally got up to the Ducati. But it was really difficult actually because I was riding one particular style of the Ducati in Los Angeles, then when I traveled out to Pittsburgh to start shooting, I had to get on a different bike so it was like starting again. I realized that the gas tank was now in front which meant that it changed my stance completely, so I had to be almost lying down while I was riding it.   I had to learn how to balance in that position, which was very challenging.”

Q: What was it like working with D.J.Caruso?

A: “D.J.’s wonderful.  He’s very supportive and he also gives you the freedom to find your own character, he told me to do what I wanted with the character, while making  sure she’s  ‘Angelina Jolie-ish’ (laughs) but within that realm  he let me do what I wanted to do. It was nice because he put his trust in me and that’s very refreshing.”

Q: What was the atmosphere like on the set?  Was it fun?

A: “It was so much fun.  We were shooting nights a lot of the time and that is always fun, when everyone else in the city is asleep and there’s a little group of you who are awake.  I think the energy of that atmosphere means that you become connected to each other on the set and it becomes just like a family.  I loved that and we all hung out together when we were not working.”

Q:   You have a fantastic figure, does staying slim come naturally to you?

A:  “I love eating healthy food.  I haven’t always liked eating healthy though, only for  the last few years. (laughs) I used to be obsessed with Burger King and eating a lot of meat and fries and I still love sweet potato fries, they are my favorite. I also love desserts like cheesecake. A while ago I found that I was feeling quite sluggish and so I decided to eliminate  processed foods and all of a sudden I felt amazing.  I’ve been feeling great ever since I cut out all the bad stuff in my diet. Now I am lucky ‘touch wood’, for the time being at least, because I don’t really put on weight.”

Q:  Do you have an intense work out regime?

A:  “I worked out a lot for the film, seven days a week, because  I really wanted to become a stuntwoman and prove I could do all the action.  I didn’t want them to treat me as though I was a fragile actress who couldn’t do her own stunts.  I said:  ‘pretend you’ve hired me to be a stuntwoman to play this role’ and   I just went in there and I was black and blue and bruised, but it was well worth it. Also, because of that I got in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.”

Q:  You still look like you are in great shape.

A:  “Oh, well, I’ve lost it a little bit of muscle, I’m a little bit softer. But I work out with a great trainer, Jason Walsh  who also trains Jessica Biel. What happened was that I saw some pictures of Jessica on the beach in her little bikini and I thought ‘wow’, because she looked incredible. So I called her trainer and I’ve been working out with him for the last couple of years, twice a week.  I  do cardio twice a week and I do weight training  several times a week.”

Q:  You’ve worked with some fantastic directors and actors already.  What have been the highlights in your career so far?

A: “The film 2.37 was one of the best films that I’ve ever done, only because it was my very first film and it was all about getting my feet wet.  I was thrown in at the deep end on that movie.  I played a rape victim. That was definitely a highlight.   TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT   was great too. It is an ‘80s comedy with Topher Grace and Anna Faris and it’s exciting because we had so much fun shooting that film. It was fantastic to experience that  ‘80s era while making the movie. I was born in ’86 so I got to go back there and have the crazy hair and the  fun outfits and all the make-up and that was  a dream.”

Q:  Your career is going so well, do you think it is purely talent or does luck play a part in success for an actor?

A:  “I think it’s a mixture of both.  I think obviously luck comes into it, but I feel that destiny comes into the equation too. I  believe that you have to have some sort of talent otherwise you wouldn’t have longevity in your career.  You may get cast in one film but it would not continue on after that. Hard work plays a huge part in it all too.  When I first came out to LA, I was  focused on the goal of getting jobs and I would work incredibly hard at my auditions and run around to different meetings and do dialect training and acting training and I was just so motivated to succeed. Recently though, I’ve become more relaxed in those areas and I do believe that maybe my career and success was already predestined; that I was supposed to do this. But who knows?   You never know.”

Q:  What has it been like moving to Hollywood from Australia?

A:  “Initially the transition was tough, moving from Adelaide, South Australia to Los Angeles. LA is so different from little old Adelaide. When I first moved to California I didn’t know anyone and I wasn’t working, so I had a tough year.  That was  in 2007 and I  am proud that I stuck it out and I made some friends and then I finally became settled and now a few years later, I’m very happy living here.”

Q:  What motivated you originally, because you didn’t come from a show biz  background did you?

A:  “No, I came from very humble beginnings and I didn’t ever really pursue acting actively.  I never would have thought that I would be out in Los Angeles working in films right now. My mother still cannot believe it. She is a very religious woman and she always says that God answered her prayers (laughs), which is very endearing and sweet.”

Q: How did your film career get going?

A: “I had some meetings with some agents and I met my manager and he believed in me straight away, even though I had only done very small roles in Australia. He said to me, ‘ I think you’re going to have longevity and I want to be a part of your future and I want to help you’ and he really did.  He has been very nurturing. He actually brought me out here to LA  and I was lucky.  I came out here and I just started working.  I was auditioning and I ended up booking that first role in 2:37, that come out at the Cannes Film Festival  and since then my career  has  snowballed and I’m still here, so I feel very blessed.”

Q:  What are your ambitions—other than work and career?

A:  “I would love to have children before I’m 30,  at least  to start having children before I’m 30.  That has always been my dream and I really embrace that.  I  also want to start my own website dealing with parenting and healthy living.  I’ve got  so many  big dreams, I don’t just want to be an actress, I have interests in many different areas and I am excited about all of them.”

I AM NUMBER FOUR is Available on Blu-ray & DVD May 24th!

I Am Number Four: 3-Disc Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“I Am Number Four”may not be a stellar film, nor it may be a deep film but for a D.J. Caruso/Michael Bay film, it definitely delivers as a popcorn sci-fi action film.  The Blu-ray features very good PQ, even better lossless audio but tends to be weak on the special features end of things.  But if you enjoyed the film, you will no doubt enjoy “I Am Number Four”!

Images courtesy of ©2011 Dreamworks II Distribution Co, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: I Am Number Four

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 109 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Violence and Action and for Brief Language)

COMPANY: Touchstone Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2011

Directed by D.J. Caruso

Screenplay by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon

Novel by Jobie Hughes and James Frey

Producer: Michael Bay

Executive Producer: Chris Bender, J.C. Spink, David Valdes

Associate Producer: Emily Berger, James M. Freitag

Co-Executive Producer: Matthew Cohan

Music by Trevor Rabin

Cinematography by Guillermo Navarro

Edited by Vince Filippone, Jim Page

Casting by Deborah Aquila, Mary Tricia Wood

Production Design by Tom Southwell

Art Direction by Douglas Cumming, John B. Josselyn, Paul D. Kelly

Set Decoration by Maria Nay

Costume Design by Marie-Sylvie Deveau

Starring:

Alex Pettyfer as John

Timothy Olyphant as Henri

Teresa Palmer as Number 6

Dianna Agron as Sarah

Callan McAuliffe as Sam

Kevin Durand as Mogadorian Commander

Jake Abel as Mark

Jeff Hochendoner as Sheriff James

Patrick Sebes as Kevin

Greg Townley as Number 3

Reuben Langdon as Number 3′s Guardian

Emily Wickersham as Nicole

Three are dead. Who is Number Four? From director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), producer Michael Bay (Transformers) and the writers of TV’s Smallville, comes this gripping, action-packed thriller. John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an extraordinary teen masking his true identity to elude a deadly enemy sent to destroy him. Living with his guardian (Timothy Olyphant) in the small town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events — his first love (Dianna Agron, TV’s Glee), powerful new abilities and a secret connection to the others who share his incredible destiny. Complete with deleted scenes and more, I Am Number Four is an explosive, suspense-filled ride that will take you to the edge of your seat and beyond.

In 2010, “I Am Number Four”, a young adult science fiction novel by Pittcaus Lore (the pseudonym used by James Frey and Jobie Hughes) topped “The New York Times” Best Seller List.

Because of the popularity of teen sci-fi films such as “The Chronicles of Narnia” to even “Twilight”, DreamWorks Pictures looked ahead in purchasing the rights for the film and then releasing the film in Feb. 2011.

As the novel is the first of a planned six-book series, the film which was budgeted at $50 million, brought in $144 million in the box office.

The film considered as a popcorn sci-fi action film by critics was directed by D.J. Caruso (“Eagle Eye”, “Disturbia”, “Taking Lives”) and a screenplay written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Mad Men”).

“I Am Number Four” revolves around an alien named John Smith (played by Alex Pettyfer, “Beastly”, “Tormented”) from the planet Lorien.  He and his protector have been trying to evade an invading race known as the Mogadorians who want to take control of the galaxy and those who were responsible for destroying the planet Lorien.

Nine children and their protectors were sent to the planet Earth to evade the Mogadorians but #1 and #2 (including their protectors) were killed earlier on but now, the third has been killed as well.  Because they are killing in numerical order, John Smith a.k.a. “Number Four” is next.

When the dead of the Number Three began to cause adverse reactions to John, because people saw his power (and one posted it on the Internet), both he and his guardian, Henri (played by Timothy Olyphant, “Hitman”, “Live Free or Die Hard”, “The Girl Next Door”) move away quickly from Florida and end up in Paradise, Ohio.

Because John was quite involved in school and athletics at the last school, Henri has told him to not be popular and to stay invisible.  But on the first day of high school, he meets Sarah (played by Dianna Agron, “Glee”, “Burlesque”), an inspiring photographer who runs a popular blog about the students and teachers at her school (which she has gotten in trouble for).

John also meets Sam (played by Callan McAuliffe), a student who is treated badly at school because of his father who was abducted by aliens and thus, the students think he is a nut job and the jocks constantly bully him.

But John quickly learns that the two new friends have caused immediate friction at school because Sarah once dated the quarterback, Mark (played by Jake Abel, “The Lovely Boys”, “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief”), a jock who is constantly bullying Sam but also is unable to get past the breakup with Sarah.

One day, when a football player threw a football at Sam’s head, John threw the football and noticed his strength increase.  The next thing you know, during class, lights start shooting out of his hands and disturbed by what is going on, John hides in the janitor’s closet where he is found by Henri who tells him that his powers have awakened, powers that he and certain people are gifted with.  Powers that if united with the other surviving members of his planet, they together can defeat the Mogadorians.

But one day as Mark gets jealous of how John and Sarah are getting closer, while at the fair, John is attacked by Mark and his football buddies and immediately, his power comes to life and Sam witnesses everything.

Because people have seen John’s power, including Sam, Henri wants to move away.  But John who has fallen in love with Sarah, doesn’t want to.  And to make things worst, the Mogadorians are heading towards their city.  But also a mysterious woman (Number 6, played by Teresa Palmer, “Bedtime Stories”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) also seems to be looking for #4.

VIDEO:

“I Am Number Four” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).  You have ILM working on the special effects and you have a stylishly dark cinematography courtesy of Guillermo Navarro (“Pan’s Labrynth”, “Jackie Brown”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”) and with a collaboration with director D.J. Caruso and also producer Michael Bay, you have a pretty awesome looking film.  I personally didn’t see any artifacting, banding nor did I see any problems with the overall film.  I felt the special effects were nicely done and if anything, while the film is more on the darkish side, I felt the lighting choice was probably done on purpose.

It would have been great to have an audio commentary to have the director discuss the overall look and feel of the film but since it was not included, I take it for what it is and I was quite content with the overall PQ.  It’s not vibrant and colorful but for this film and it’s lurking darkness, I felt for this film, overall PQ looked great.

AUDIO:

“I Am Number Four” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  The lossless audio soundtrack was very well-done.  Although most of it is actually during the scenes featuring Number Six.  But with the number of explosions, monster battles, laser shots, etc., there is an active use of the surround channels and also, a heavy dependence on a musical soundtrack.  In fact, I was surprised to hear Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” while watching this film.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“I Am Number Four” comes with the following special features.

  • Deleted Scenes with Introduction by D.J. Caruso – (18:56) Featuring six deleted scenes with an introduction by D.J. Caruso of why those scenes were cut.
  • Becoming Number 6 – (11:44) A special feature showcasing the amount of training for Teresa Palmer’s role and the special effects used in the film for her character.
  • Bloopers – (3:15) Cast bloopers for “I Am Number Four”.

EXTRAS:

“I Am Number Four” comes with a foil embossed slip cover case.  Also, included is a DVD presented in widescreen 1:85:1 – enhanced for 16×9 televisions, audio in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish.  Also, included is a digital copy of the feature film which works with iTunes and Windows Media Player.

If you loved stories that remind you of the “X-Men”, “Spider-Man”, “Starman” or even other superheroes of one finding their own superhuman abilities, you can’t help but enjoy “I Am Number Four”.

While this may not be the deepest superhero or sci-fi action film, in these years of where people go crazy for the romantic element of “Twilight” or young heroes ala “The Chronicles of Narnia”, DreamWorks was definitely capitalizing on the popularity of these films.

And because of the fact that it’s not based on a comic book series but a more recent novel, the commercials made you want to watch.  It has a comic book-esque type of storyline of heroes sent to Planet Earth to live a normal life (ala “Superman” and “Dragon Ball”) and along the way they start to discover their powers as they grow older.  But these heroes, these younger individuals are the hunted. For me, when your protagonists are the ones to be hunted, it definitely changes the dynamics of the banal superhero-like storyline.

I did enjoy the camaraderie of “I Am Number Four” and its teenage storyline actually works well. But the problem is the actual plot as the film tries to get into character development and the actual battles with the Mongadorians while avoiding basic storyline elements of why are these aliens becoming hunted?  Why are they doing it in numeric order  What happened to #1?  And why does a certain person show up at the end of the film and tries to play nice?  There are quite a number of loose ends that really don’t make sense at all.   But because there is so much action, you forget the storyline’s problems and focus on the actual fight scenes of the film.

In a way, it’s almost deja vu  because D.J. Caruso was criticized for “Eagle Eye” being all glitz and action and not so much focus on the overall storyline.  And even producer Michael Bay gets flack for his films being less story-driven and more special effects glitz and all-out action with the “Transformer” films.

Now granted, I am a reviewer that is a bit more lenient to popcorn action films and the same applies to “I Am Number Four” and yes, even Bay’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”…

While I know that the film was targeting a teenage/young adult audience, in my mind, my mind was coming back to certain scenes of what if more people died in the film?  What if the Mogadarians were more like the Predators or Aliens who are cold, calculating and vicious?  But we that side of their lack of compassion towards humanity or any other race.

I then started to think… What about the other #’s?  What about the other Mogadarians?  How did Number Six find Number Four?  Were guardians really that weak? Would a high school teenager with no money like Sam really make the decision like he did at the end?  Now, I tend to be analytic towards popcorn action films, when in reality, you know that you shouldn’t.  You just take what you see and you either love it or hate it.

Personally, there are a lot of things that needed to be fleshed out in the storyline of “I Am Number Four”.   But instead, the viewer is taken on a ride of action after action and in many ways, it becomes too much of a popcorn action film.

A film that doesn’t require anyone to be logical, nor does it require anyone to think so much.  I just felt that there are moments that I felt the film took the easy route and no one really dies in the film.  And when you have these aliens like the Mogadarians, there should be death wherever these beasts are at.  Granted, the film was going for a PG-13 rating but the film could still have been deep or meaningful without having an ending that was too sugarcoated.  Especially with the scene with the character of Mark, I kept saying to myself, “shouldn’t he be dead”?

Oh well, “I Am Number Four” is what it is and you either enjoy it or you don’t.  But I will say that “I Am Number Four” is much more entertaining than a few comic book-inspired films that I have seen in the last decade and in the right hands, I feel that the sequel can definitely be better.

As for the Blu-ray release, there is a 3-Disc Combo Pack with a DVD and Digital Copy version of the film, a single Blu-ray version and a downloadable version.  For the 3-Disc Combo Pack that I am reviewing, while PQ is good and the lossless soundtrack is much better, I was hoping for much more special features than what was included on the Blu-ray release.  No audio commentary but you do get deleted scenes with intro by director DJ Caruso, one featurette on Number Six and bloopers.

Overall, “I Am Number Four: 3-Disc Combo Pack” is a bit weak on the special features side but if you do enjoy the film, you get a DVD and Digital Copy version which comes in handy as summer vacation is around the corner and you want something to watch on your iPad or laptop during a commute.  While not exactly a stellar release, I did enjoy the film and expect the sequel to be much better.

Wanting a fun sci-fi action film that requires no heavy thinking and mostly pure action and special effects?  Definitely give “I Am Number Four” a try!

Interview with Teresa Palmer of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – J!-ENT Interviews and Articles

November 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

With the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Nov. 30th, J!-ENT will be featuring interviews with cast members, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub.

We begin with actress Teresa Palmer who began her career with the 2005 horror film “Wolf Creek” and would go on to appear in films such as “The Grudge 2″, “December Boys” and “Bedtime Stories”.  In 2010, the young actress would star as Becky Barnes, the love interest for main character Dave (played by Jay Baruchel).  Teresa Palmer was interviewed in regards to her role in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

How would you describe your character in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice?

Becky Barnes is the love interest of Jay Baruchel’s character, Dave Stutler. Becky is a DJ and she’s a college student at NYU. She starts off the film as a very normal girl. She’s been a bit unlucky in love and then she meets Dave who is a bit of a geek and a nerd – and she is drawn to him. Dave and Becky went to the same school when they were seven years old and he has had a crush on her ever since. They reconnect in New York 15 years later and that’s when Becky gets thrust into this magical world of sorcery. It’s a very interesting ride for her.

Is Becky a damsel in distress?

I guess she’s a little like a damsel in distress at the beginning of the movie. However, it gets a lot cooler for Becky as the story unfolds. She soon kicks butt and she gets to be a Lara Croft-type character. She gets to take control as she tries to save the world.

How intimidating was it to walk onto the set of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for the first time?

I’ve done a lot of independent Australian films and other movies, but this was different because it was my biggest film role. I did my own hair and makeup on my first movie, and I even wrote half of my scenes. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was the polar opposite. It was a wonderful job.

How much of the movie is special effects?

I think we shot about 75% of the film on sound stages. That means they had to recreate a lot of the iconic settings in the movie, like the Chrysler building. That stage was amazing. They built four stories of the building with the big eagle inside and they printed out sheets of the city view, so they put twinkling lights all around the place to represent the lights of the city. It was really beautiful. You forget you’re actually on a stage when you’re filming on a set like that. All of a sudden, they turn on the lights and you’re brought back to reality. You think to yourself, ‘Oh, wow… This isn’t real. It’s wood.’ It was weird, but it was very cool.

How difficult is it to act in a CGI world?

It was certainly different. Someone will walk onto the stage with a special ball and wave it in front of you. They’ll explain that the ball is meant to be some sort of plasma bulb in your hand. Things like that are always a little bizarre. You have to start thinking in a different way, but it’s a great tool to learn.

When did you decide you wanted to be an actress?

I grew up in Adelaide, Australia, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life when I graduated high school. I think it’s really difficult for an 18-year-old to know what they want to do for the next 50 years. I had no idea, but I worked on the weekends to earn some money and that’s when I met a director who asked if I wanted to be in his movie. He gave me a script and it was about youth suicide, which is an issue that’s on the increase in Australia, but it’s brushed under the carpet. I ended up doing the movie and it became a pretty controversial film. It got the attention of the Cannes Film Festival and it ended up premiering there, which is where my career started. As I said earlier, I did my own hair and makeup on the set of that first film and I wore my own clothes – and now I’m part of a huge blockbuster with Nicolas Cage. It’s been such a whirlwind ride for me. I picked up an agent in Cannes and they brought me straight to America to start work. And here I am.

Who were your acting heroes when you were growing up?

I was a big fan of Audrey Hepburn when I was growing up, but I never thought of acting as a serious career option. There aren’t many opportunities to act in Adelaide and South Australia because there aren’t any big acting agencies there and we don’t have any acting schools. There aren’t many movies shot in Adelaide, so it was never a reality for me. I went to university and I started to teach – and then I was going to change careers to become a midwife because I’m obsessed with babies. But then the movie I worked on got picked up for Cannes and my life changed. It’s really weird how it all happened so quickly.

How much has your life changed since you moved to Hollywood?

My life has mainly changed because I live in Los Angeles now and I’m away from my family and my friends in Australia. However, I’m the same person underneath. My friends come over to Los Angeles from Adelaide and they get blown away by everything here, but it’s just a job to me.

Do you enjoy the Hollywood lifestyle with all its partying and red carpet events?

I’m not really a partygoer. I don’t drink alcohol at all. I don’t like the taste of it. A party for me involves board games in my pajamas on a Sunday night. We play Guesstures, Cranium and Twister – and that’s my idea of fun. I never go to events unless I need to go for work or to support a friend. To be honest, my life revolves around hanging out with my friends and going to the dog park. That’s about it, although I definitely get homesick from time to time.

What do you miss the most from home?

I miss so much about Australia. I definitely miss the lifestyle because it feels much more laid back in Australia. We take work seriously, but your job does not define who you are. In Australia, we do our job but our friends, our family and our social life is equally as important, if not more important, than our work. It’s a refreshing way of life. I miss that and I miss my dogs at home as well.

Do you still wash the dishes when you go home to Australia?

Of course I do! I love being back home because I stay with my mom. We cook together and I wear whatever I want as I walk my dogs down the street. Nobody looks at me twice in Adelaide. They don’t really care about the movie industry, so I get to be normal. I don’t have to worry about any of the other stuff that comes along with being an actor.

What have you discovered in Hollywood that you never experienced at home in Australia?

I’ve discovered exercise since living in Los Angeles. Back in Adelaide, I would eat burgers all the time and I wouldn’t exercise at all – but it’s a big part of the culture in Los Angeles. You go for lunch and then you head to the gym or go on a hike and then you go out for dinner again. I’ve really got into exercise now. In fact, the most Hollywood thing about me is the fact that I have a personal trainer. He’s the guy who works with Jessica Biel because I want to get her bottom.

Are you ambitious, Teresa?

Am I ambitious? Absolutely, but not in a detrimental way. I’m ambitious because I want to create good things and I want to be part of important and inspiring movies. However, I also want to do other things in my life. I want to have a family and I want to live a philanthropic life. I also want to start my own charity, as well as an animal shelter.

What makes you happy?

I’m generally a very happy and bubbly person. Whenever I get unhappy it’s usually because I’m lonely or because of something trivial. If I didn’t get an audition I wanted or if I lost some self esteem because I didn’t get a job then I will certainly be unhappy for a while, but it soon passes.

How do you cheer yourself up at times like that?

I find that writing my journal always helps me feel much better. It’s very therapeutic. I also find that being around my friends and my loved ones makes me very happy. The perfect day for me involves being near the beach in Adelaide with my friends and family. Everyone will be smiling and eating good food. We’ll chat, have fun and talk about fun times. That’s bliss to me. My work is bliss too, but it makes me smile to think of home.

**WALT DISNEY STUDIO HOME ENTERTAINMENT’S THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE ON DVD AND BLU-RAY NOVEMBER 30TH**

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Everything you come to expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer produced film and Blu-ray release…  Magnificent PQ, AQ and numerous special features.  But with that being said, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” film is not meant to be taken seriously.  It is purely an visual effects and action-driven popcorn flick that doesn’t aspire to be anything deep.  Just sit back, watch and enjoy!

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/240bit), English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested – For Fantasy, Action, Violence, Some Mild Rude Humor and Brief Language)

Release Date: November 30, 2010

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Screen Story by Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Matt Lopez

Screenplay by Matt Lopez, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard

Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer

Executive Producer: Nicolas Cage, Todd Garner, Norman Golightly, Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Barry H. Waldman

Production Executive: Ben Haber

Development Executive: Brigham Taylor

Music by Trevor Rabin

Cinematography by Bojan Bazzeli

Edited by William Goldenberg

Casting by Ronna Kress

Production Design by Naomi Shohan

Art Direction by David Lazan, David Swayze

Set Decoration by George DeTitta, Jr.

Costume Design by Michael Kaplan

Starring:

Nicolas Cage as Balthazar Blake

Jay Baruchel as Dave

Alfred Molina as Maxim Horvath

Teresa Palmer as Becky Barnes

Toby Kebbell as Drake Stone

Omar Benson Miller as Bennet

Monica Belluci as Veronica

Alice Krige as Morgana le Fay

Jake Cherry as Young Dave

James A. Stephens as Merlin

Gregory Woo as Sun-Lok

Peyton List as Young Becky

A fun, modern-day adventure follows Dave (JAY BARUCHEL), just an average college student, or so it appears, until the sorcerer Balthazar Blake (NICOLAS CAGE) recruits him as his reluctant protégé and gives him a crash course in the art and science of magic. As he prepares for a battle against the forces of darkness in modern-day Manhattan, Dave finds it is going to take all of the courage he can muster to survive his training, save the city and get the girl as he becomes THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE.


Sharpening the Magic

Car Chase

Becky Finds Out

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was originally a poem by Goeth known as “Der Zauberlehrling” written back in 1797 and was popularized in 1940 courtesy of Walt Disney via the animated film “Fantasia”.

Flashforward 60-years later and producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“National Treasure” films, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, “The Pirates of the Caribbean” films), executive producer/actor Nicolas Cage (“National Treasure” films, “Con Air”, “The Rock”) and director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure” films, “The Kid”, “While You Were Sleeping”) have taken on the project of remaking “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” for the modern age, with incredible visual effects and an action-paced storyline.

The film features a screenplay by Matt Lopez (“Race to Witch Mountain”, “Bedtime Stories”, “The Wild”), Doug Miro (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, “The Uninvited”) and Carlo Bernard (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, “The Uninvited”), cinematography by Bojan Bazelli (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, “The Ring”, “Burlesque”) and music composed by Trevor Rabin *”The Guardian”, “Get Smart”, “G-Force”, “Race to Witch Mountain”).  The film would be budgeted at $150 million and would earn $215 million in the box office and will now be released on Blu-ray (Blu-ray+DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy) and DVD.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” begins in 740 AD.  The sorcerer Merlin had three apprentices: Maxim Horvath (played by Alfred Molina, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Spider-Man 2″, “Chocolat”), Balthazar Blake (played by Nicolas Cage) and Veronica Gorloisen (played by Monica Belluci, “The Matrix” films, “Shoot ‘em Up”) to take on the evil sorceress Morgana le Fay (played by Alice Krige).   Morgana wants to destroy the world by resurrecting the dead under her power but as Merlin the Apprentices are about to stop her, one of their own, Horvath betrays Merlin by allowing Morgana to mortally wound Merlin.

As Balthazar battles his former friend, Veronica stops Morgan by absorbing her into her own body.  While Morgana tries to destroy Veronica from within, Balthazar quickly imprisons both women into a Grimhold (a nesting doll) which will keep Veronica alive but also prevent Morgana from causing any harm. He also imprisons Horvath as well.

Before Merlin dies, he tells Balthazar that the remaining apprentice (from his bloodline) will need to be found and that a Dragon ring will lead him to the next apprentice, the Prime Merlinian who will become his successor.  Only the Prime Merlinian can defeat Morgana.

So, for the next 1,000 years, Balthazar imprisons Morganians into the Grimhold while trying to search for his successor.

In 2000, a young 10-year-old named Dave Stutler (young version played by Jake Cherry, older version played by Jay Baruchel, “Knocked Up”, “Tropic Thunder”, “Million Dollar Baby”) a boy who has fallen in love for the young Becky (young version played by Peyton List, older version by Teresa Palmer, “Bedtime Stories”, “The Grudge 2″).  He gives her a note for her to mark if she would be his friend or boyfriend.  She marks the note but somehow the note starts flying around and as Dave tries to get the catch the note, it flies into a shop which is owned by Balthazar.

When Balthazar realizes the coincidence of the boy coming to his store, he tests the dragon ring which automatically responds to Dave.  Balthazar tells him that he has been looking for him for over a 1,000 years.  Of course, Dave doesn’t understand what’s going on.  But when Balthazar tells him to wait and not touch anything, Dave realizes that each time he moves his hand (with the ring) he causes damage in the store and accidentally releases Horvath from the nesting doll.  Now Horvath wants the Grimhold to release Morgana.

Balthazar and Horvath battle but in order to protect the young Dave, Balthazar ends up sealing himself and Horvath in a large vase.   Shocked by what has transpired, Dave takes the Grimhold, runs out of the store and throws it out into the street.  Meanwhile, his classmates see him scared and his pants are wet and assume Dave has peed in his pants. Unfortunately, for him…Becky, the girl he likes also sees this and for the next teen years of his life, Dave would be ridiculed, become an outcast, has to transfer to another school because of being picked on and even go through psychiatric evaluations because no one believes him of what he had seen inside the store.

Fastforward to 2010, Dave is now a student at NYU who studies physics and a science geek.  While collecting papers, he manages to run into Becky who he has not seen for many years.  Becky is also a student at NYU who is struggling in her class and is a DJ on campus.  Excited to see her again, Dave volunteers to tutor her in her studies.

Meanwhile, Balthazar and Horvath manage to escape from the vase and immediately Horvath goes to look for the Grimhold, while Balthazar looks for Dave.

To Dave’s shock, when he returns home, he sees Horvath and realizes that what he saw at the age of 10 was real and now this evil sorcerer is trying to kill him, but Balthazar ends up saving him.   Unfortunately, Horvath finds the Grimhold and now he plans to release Morgana and have her destroy the world.

Balthazar knows he can’t defeat Morgana and Horvath on his own and needs the help of Dave but he must be trained first.

Balthazar explains to Dave that he is a sorcerer and that with his ring, he can create magic and fight against the evils and defend himself from the Morganians, but in order to learn, he must be his apprentice and do what he says.  Dave realizes the truth of what Balthazar says, although he is not ready to dedicate all his time to learning sorcery because he has fallen for Becky, but yet, he will do what it takes to become the sorcerer’s apprentice.

VIDEO:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). As I expect audio to be wonderful from a Jerry Bruckheimer-related film, I also expect incredible visuals and in this case, the picture quality of this film is fantastic!  There is a lot of vibrant colors going around everywhere in this film.  These colors pop and not only are they dazzling and just wonderful to watch and see, I found no problems with the video whatsoever.  No artifactgs, no dust, scratches or anything negative.  Blacks were nice and deep, skin tones were natural, you can see the scraggly hair of Balthazar, the fur on Alfred Molina’s jacket, the detail of the set also come to life.  Just take a look at the scenes in China Town or Dave’s lab.  There is just detail and colors that just come alive on Blu-ray.

In fact, the film sports a lot of red and amber colors and typically, I would see some banding during those scenes, pause and watch it slowly frame-by-frame and saw none of that.  I saw no crush, I saw nothing that I perceive as negative for the entire film.  Visual effects by Method, One of Us, Double Negative and Asylum for this film were wonderful and the production design by Naomi Shohan (I loved what she did in “I Am Legend”) looks fantastic in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

But once again, similar to Bruckheimer’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” on Blu-ray, once again, another film on Blu-ray that achieves perfect marks for PQ.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.

And what would a Jerry Bruckheimer film be without upfront, stomach churning, room shaking lossless audio.  “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is fantastic.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear from the center and front channels but with so much action, the surround channels are constantly being used.  But most of all, for those who simply want more LFE in films, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” delivers!

From the battles between Balthzar and Dave versus Horvath and Morganians, fireballs, electricity, explosions, damage to surroundings, you’re going to hear it from all over, you’re going to hear the audio pan from left to right and right to left and you’re going to be moved by it (literally, moved by it courtesy of that LFE).  Audio for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is magnificent and audiophiles will love this aspect of the film.

As for subtitles, the film is presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” comes with the following special features presented in HD:

  • Magic In The City – (12:53)  Shooting in New York City, shooting in China Town and the challenges shooting around the city and the challenge of building the dragon and coordinating the green screen with the people running from it.  As well as incorporating the visual effects.
  • The Science Of Sorcery – (10:15)  The cast and crew talk about the science discussion used in the film.
  • Making Magic Real – (11:46)  Creating the effects in real time and not via visual effects.  So, the fire effects shown in the lab was real-time and not added in post-production.  As well, as another numerous scenes that were done real-time.
  • Fantasia: Reinventing a Classic – (10:13) Bruckheimer, Turteltaub and Cage talk about the animated classic “Fantastia” and reinventing it.
  • The Fashionable Drake Stone – (2:09) Bruckheimer and costume designer Michael Kaplan talk about creating the magician Drake Stone and the fashion around him.
  • The Grimhold: An Evil Work Of Art – (3:45) The cast talk about the Grimhold, the Russian nesting doll and the artwork painted on it.
  • The Encantus – (2:23) Director Jon Turteltaub and talent talk about “The Encantus” and the creation of making the actual compiled book and art design involved.
  • Wolves & Puppies – (3:07) Jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turteltaub and casts talk about working with wolves.
  • The World’s Coolest Car – (1:30) Director Jon Turteltaub talks about using Nicolas Cage’s 1935 Rolls Royce used for the film and the special care it took to make it and a replica made for it.
  • 5 Deleted Scenes – (7:46) Five deleted scenes cut from the film.
  • Outtakes – (3:14) Bloopers from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

EXTRAS:

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” comes with a slip-over case.

When it comes to action films, especially from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, there are things that you come to expect, heavy action and a film that utilizes incredible visual effects and very awesome set design.  But when it comes to storyline, you never expect anything too deep, in fact, you just sit back and enjoy.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is similar to Bruckheimer’s last big-budget produced film “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, both are visual effects heavy, plenty of action and very good talent behind-the-film but a storyline that could have been further explored and made deeper but instead, a film that tends to showcase the latest in visual effects and action.

Film critics will often not be supportive of these type of films but for audiences looking to be entertained and audiophiles and videophiles looking for reference titles to show off their system, Bruckheimer films typically score quite high for these audiences.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is definitely a film that looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray and the audio is also magnificent but coming into this film, I didn’t have high expectations.  I knew what to expect from a Bruckheimer film and its consistent with his other films in being audio and visual eye candy.  Would I have liked a more deeper film in which we see Dave learning how to become an apprentice and focus on the actual training and see him developing as a sorcerer-in-training.  Yes, that would be great but a Bruckheimer film is not so much about the character development, it’s about in your face action that keeps coming and coming and with the director Jon Turteltaub and the screenwriter to continue to top these action sequences as much as they can.  Visual eye candy…yes, this is how Bruckheimer action films are.  Anyone expecting more than that, shouldn’t.

Don’t expect the greatest acting, don’t expect deep character development, it’s literally a kitschy film that happens to be fun and visual effects heavy.

I grew up watching these type of films as a child and always been mesmerized by visual effects-driven type of films.  Personally, I don’t mind having eye-candy driven films once in awhile and in some way, I have a soft spot for enjoying films about nerds becoming heroes and I know many audiences share the same sentiment as well.

So, If you are looking for an action-driven film with plenty of awesome visual effects, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” well serve you well.  If you are a videophile or audiophile looking for awesome visuals and with that stomach churning, room shaking LFE, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” will definitely entertain you.

But in the end, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a fun, family popcorn action flick.  Don’t expect too much from this film.  Just watch and enjoy.

BEDTIME STORIES (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“A child-friendly Adam Sandler film! ‘Bedtime Stories’ is an enjoyable, adorable and fun  family film with a good dose of comedy, fantasy and action balancing both Walt Disney innocence and Happy Madison craziness.  Overall, a fun film that the whole family can enjoy!”

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Bedtime Stories

DURATION: 99 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/2:35:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD (48kHz/24-Bit) French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English SDH, French, Spanish.  Three Discs: Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy

RATED: PG

COMPANY: Walt Disney STudios Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2009

Directed by Adam Shankman

Screenplay by Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy

Story by Matt Lopez

Produced by Andrew Gunn, Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo

Executive Producers: Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot, Ann Marie Sanderlin, Garrett Grant

Director of Photography: Michael Barrett

Production Designer: Linda DeScenna

Edited by Tom Costain, Michael Tronick, A.C.E.

Costume Designer: Rita Ryack

Music Composed by: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Music Supervisors: Michael Dilbeck, Brooks Arthur

Cast:

Adam Sandler as Skeeter Bronson

Keri Russell as Jill

Guy Pearce as Kendall

Russell Brand as Mickey

Richard Griffiths as Barry Nottingham

Teresa Palmer as Violet Nottingham

Lucy Lawless as Aspen

Courteney Cox as Wendy

Jonathan Morgan Heit as Patrick

Laura Ann Kesling as Bobbi

Jonathan Pryce as Marty Bronson

Rob Schneider as Chief Running Mouth/Pickpocket

The most entertaining Bedtime Stories experience you can have is this Blu-ray ad DVD combo Pack.  On Disney Blu-ray, spectacular picture and sound make it more magical than ever.

Funnyman Adam Sandler stars in Walt Disney Pictures’ Bedtime Stories, the magical family comedy that’s packed with adventure and lots of heart.  When Skeeter Bronson (Sandler) babysits his sister’s (Courteney Cox) children, his imagination runs wild as he dreams up elaborate bedtime stories – always casting himself as the hero.  Entranced, the children add their own ideas to thse once-upon-a-time tales of heroics and chivalry.  Then…magic happens.  These nighttime fantasies become Skeeter’s daytime realities, leading him on a real-life adventure in search of his own happy ending.  Filled with colorful characters, humor and whimsy, this heartwarmingly comedy will enchant your entire family like never before in Blu-ray High Definition.

LAURA ANN KESLING, ADAM SANDLER, JONATHAN HEIT. BEDTIME STORIES is available on DVD April 7, 2009 and Blu-ray April 5, 2009. © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

A child-friendly Adam Sandler film!  An enjoyable family film with a good dose of fantasy and action balancing both Walt Disney innocence and Happy Madison craziness.

The film is directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”, “The Wedding Planner”, “Bringing Down the House” and a screenplay by Matt Lopez (“Race to Witch Mountain”) and Saturday Night Live writer Tim Herlihy (“The Wedding Singer”, “Happy Gilmore”, “Little Nicky” and “Big Daddy”)

“Bedtime Stories” is a film that kicks off a flashback from the past, taking place at a family run inn.  Father Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce) raising his two children (also employees of the Inn) trying to keep his business and family afloat.  Every night reading his children a bedtime story, Bronson tries to keep a happy face despite knowing his inn is not doing well financially.   Businessman and hotel mogul Barry Nottingham offers Marty plenty of money if he signs away the rights to the inn and Marty agrees to the deal if only he makes a promise that when his son Skeeter becomes older, he would run the inn.  The two make a deal.

Flash forward to the present, nearly twenty five years later and the inn has now become among one of Nottingham’s multi-million dollar hotel investments and is now a popular, classy and luxurious hotel in Southern California.  Meanwhile, Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler), a middle-aged man handyman/custodian is not exactly running the business as his father has hoped.

When Nottingham (Richard Griffiths) makes an announcement of a new hotel to open up in Southern California, Skeeter feels that perhaps this is his time.  Unfortunately, the job is given to the arrogant Kendall (Guy Pearce).  A man who is dating Nottingham hotel heiress Violet Nottingham (Teresa Palmer), a party hopping, Paris Hilton-esque socialite and behind-the-scenes, Kendall is having fun with the hotel concierge Aspen (Lucy Lawless).

Feeling that he’s down on his luck, Skeeter goes to visit his sister Wendy (Courteney Cox) and his niece Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling) and nephew Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit) who is celebrating a birthday.  But all is not good with the family.  Wendy’s husband has left the family and she lost her job as a principal of her school due to the school closing.  She has an interview for a job in another state but she needs someone to watch the kids for a few days.  So, she asks if Skeeter can watch the kids at night, while during the day, her friend and a teacher at the school, Jill (Keri Russell), who has the children during the day.  Unfortunately, Skeeter and Jill are at opposite ends of the spectrum and don’t get along.

But Skeeter, who is not really close to the kids (nor do they know each other very well) agrees to take care of them for a few days.  Also, joining them is their guinea pig (with its big eyes) named Bubsy.

Both Bobbia and Patrick have been raised by their mother to eat healthy, no television but Skeeter feels they need to have some fun.  So, he lets them watch television, eat burgers and reads them a bedtime story.  But Skeeter is not exactly in the happiest moods due to his job situation, so each time he tells a story, he ends it with a bad ending.  So, the first bedtime story features a peasant named Sir Fix-a-Lot (Sandler) who is a hardworking man who is bypassed from a job which goes to Sir Butkiss (Pearce), a story that mirrors Skeeter’s own life. But the children insist that a story must have a happy ending, so they start adding to the storyline of how things workout for Sir Fix-a-Lot such as his boss giving him a chance to prove that he’s worthy of taking over the business and gumballs start raining in on him.  Then after the kids finish the story, a sound of chimes appear.  When Skeeter asks what that sound was, the kids tell him that it’s their guinea pig ringing the chimes and wanting to go to sleep.

The day after, certain things that were told in the bedtime story comes true.  After bad decision making by Kendall, Mr. Nottingham decides that he will give Skeeter a chance of taking over the new hotel.  But it all comes down to who can come up with the best plan for the new hotel.  Skeeter or Kendall.  But for Skeeter, he feels something may be magical with the bedtime story when gumballs raining on top of him (actually a gumball truck was hit in an accident and thus the balls are falling off the interstate on to his car).

Feeling that the kids and even Bubsy may have something magical, he feels that perhaps he can help them come up with a great bedtime story that would benefit him in real life.  So, with the last remaining three days with the children before he returns him to his mother, Skeeter comes up with ideas for him to get a Ferrari, a kiss from a damsel in distress and more!  But of course, with the children’s imaginative minds, things don’t work out as smooth as Skeeter is hoping for things to be.

KERI RUSSELL, ADAM SANDLER. BEDTIME STORIES is available on DVD April 7, 2009 and Blu-ray April 5, 2009. © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has been on top of their Blu-ray game.  Becoming one of the few companies to release their Blu-rays with a bonus DVD and digital copy all in one, the Blu-ray releases are also known for its magnificent picture and audio quality.

So, with the release of “BEDTIME STORIES”, the film is featured via 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of 2:30:1.  Picture quality is vibrant and  looks absolutely beautiful.  One of the things that helps the film is much of it is filmed outdoors.  With beautiful shots by DP Michael Barrett, the film really captures colors with the gumballs to the red Ferrari (horse and car).  I didn’t see any artifacting during the dark scenes and picture quality is just magnificent via High Definition on Blu-ray.  Also, another plus is that the film utilizes a good blend of real time shooting and CG (during the sci-fi action scenes).

Another positive for the Blu-ray release is that the special features are featured in 1080p.

As for audio, audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD (48kHZ, 24-Bit) and again, one of the positive things about this film is that the bedtime story sequences are action-based.  And thus you get very good audio response from your front, center and rear channels.   Scenes such as “Gravity Wars” from the audience to the weapon usage to Skeeter’s truck backfiring, really sounds good courtesy of the DTS-HD.    I noticed certain scenes really come quite strong from the rear surround channels during the action sequences.  Dialogue overall is heard quite clearly from your front and center channels.

Also, included is a French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital track as well.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Special features included on the “Bedtime Stories” Blu-ray are:

  • Until Gravity Do Us Part – A four minute behind-the-scenes look at the film’s mindboggling special effects.  Interviews with John Adrew Berton Jr. (Visual Effects Supervisor) and Garrett Warren (Fight Choreographer) on how the segment was filmed.  Quite interesting how much was put into the making of this scene CG wise and also instead of green screen, using all blu-screen and how much went into the fight choreography and getting Sandler and Pearce ready for the role.
  • It’s Bugsy – A near four minute featurette featuring a close up of Bugsy the big-eyed guinea pig.  Behind-the-scenes of how many guinea pigs were used in the film and how they were utilized.  Interviews with the cast of working with the guinea pig and more.
  • To All The Little People - A near six minute featurette featuring interviews with Laura Ann Kesling (Bobbi) and Jonathan Morgan Heit (Patrick) and how they felt about working with Director Adam Shankman, Adam Sandler, Russell Brand, Keri Russell, Courteney Cox and others.  Also, how the talent felt with working with the children.
  • Laughter is Contagious Outtakes – A seven minute featurette featuring outtakes and interviews with the cast of working with each other.  How Adam Sandler made everyone laugh and how he was good with the children.  How Rob Schneider would make Adam Sandler laugh and much more.
  • Cutting Room Flor: Deleted Scenes – Ten minutes worth of 12 deleted and extended scenes.

The Blu-ray is also BD-Live enabled with movie chat, movie mail and Disney Movie Rewards Live.

The included DVD features a special feature not included on the Blu-ray disc:

  • Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray is Suite – “The Suite Life of Zach & Cody” talents star in a six minute special feature promoting Blu-ray technology.

TERESA PALMER, ADAM SANDLER. BEDTIME STORIES is available on DVD April 7, 2009 and Blu-ray April 5, 2009. © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I enjoyed “Bedtime Stories” for its combination of comedy, fantasy and adventure.  If anything,  it was a fun and enjoyable family film.

Sure, I know it is a Happy Madison film (in collaboration with Walt Disney) but parents do not have to worry because none of the adult humor that you would come to expect from a Happy Madison film is there.  If anything, this film is a very fun and safe family film.  And if there was anything that may be deemed as risky, it ended up on the cutting room floor (which scenes you can watch in the deleted scenes special feature).

If anything, I think fatherhood has brought out Adam Sandler’s gentler side and I think this film is probably one of the rare film to see the side of a lighthearted Adam Sandler with children (you’ll see it more evident on the special features as the children absolute adore him).  And for the primary two children of the film, both Laura Ann Kesling (Bobbi) and Jonathan Morgan Heit (Patrick) were just adorable and did a great job for their role in the film.

But as much as I enjoyed the film, there were a few more things that were hits but yet a few that were misses.  One of the hits is featuring British comic Russel Brand.  His interaction with Sandler was fun as the sleep panicky, crazy friend.  And of course, what would a Adam Sandler Happy Madison film be without Rob Schneider in some crazy role and in this case, as Chief Runningmouth and the pickpocket thief.

As for misses, it would have to be Lucy Lawless as Aspen.  As much as I enjoy watching the “Xena”/”Battlestar Galactica” actress, in the beginning, you get a feeling of the conspiring duo of Aspen and Kendall trying to gain power to run a hotel. So, you kind of get a feeling of a juicy conspiring role with her character and the protagonist Kendall but all of a sudden, she’s lost in the second half of the film. If anything, what could have been a strong villain with the Aspen and Kendall duo in the film, suddenly gets degraded and the focus becomes more on family helping each other and the chemistry between Sandler’s Skeeter and Russel’s Jill.

So, it was unfortunate that Lawless’s character as Aspen didn’t live up to its potential but at least she had a good appearance in the first half of the film, unlike Carmen Elektra who has only a non-speaking cameo as the girlfriend of a guy showing off his vehicle.

Also, for some people who want an explanation of how these mysterious bedtime stories end up coming real for Skeeter, this is not the film to be logical (then again are many Happy Gilmore films logical?).  If anything, “Bedtime Stories” is a straightforward family film that the children can watch and enjoy.  I watched the film with my six-year-old son and he absolutely enjoyed it.

With the release of the film on Blu-ray, the fact that this film had so many outdoor shots and a good balance of action and sci-fi scenes, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has been on the winning end in bringing films out to Blu-ray with great picture and audio quality and “Bedtime Stories” does not disappoint.  And the fact that you get the DVD and a digital copy on disc, that’s another positive reason to own this film in my book.

Overall, what I really enjoyed is how the film incorporated so many elements from sci-fi films, action films of old, and balancing it with comedy.  It was a fun film and definitely not a film to take seriously (and again, I feel like I repeat this each time with many Happy Gilmore related films that I review).   So, if you are looking for a fun family film that the children will definitely enjoy, “Bedtime Stories” is definitely recommended!

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