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Baywatch: Extended Cut (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

August 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Baywatch: Extended Cut” is a hilarious action comedy that pays homage to the hit TV series but also is a laugh-out loud, fun and crazy film.  Sure, it may not be for everyone, but as a guy who watched the original “Baywatch” series many times during my teenage years, I can’t help but enjoy Seth Gordon’s “Baywatch”!  An action comedy worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Baywatch: Extended Cut

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 126 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: Paramount

RATED: R (For Language Throughout, Crude Sexual Content and Graphic Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: August 29, 2017


Based on the series “Baywatch” by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory J. Bonann

Directed by Seth Gordon

Screenplay by Damian Shannon, Mark Swift

Story by Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant

Producer: Ari Arad, Michael Costigan, Steven PAul

Co-Producer: Holly Bario, Jane Nerlinger Evans, Maki Terashima-Furuta

Executive Producer: Tetsuya Fujimura, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Yoshinobu Noma, Jeffrey Silver

Music by Lorne Balfe, Clint Mansell

Cinematography by Jess Hall

Edited by Billy Rich, Neil Smith

Casting by Lucy Vevan, Liz Mullane, Miranda Rivers

Production Design by Jan Roelfs

Art Direction by Matt Austin, Simon Bright, Leri Greer, Miro Harre, Ben Hawker, Richard L. Johnson, Agata Maliauka, Andy McLaren, Erik Polczwartek, Brad Ricker, Ken Turner

Set Decoration by Greg Cokerill, Elli Griff, Craig Poll, Calvin Tsoi, Brana Rosenfeld, Kitt Van Der Kidd

Costume Design by Kurt and Bart


Starring:

Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon

Zac Efron as Matt Brody

Priyanka Chopra as Victoria Leeds

Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn

Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker

Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden

John Bass as Ronnie Greenbaum

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Sgt. Ellerbee

Hannibal Buress as Dave the Tech

David Hasshelhoff as The Mentor

Pamela Anderson as Casey Jean Parker

Rob Huebel as Captain Thorpe


When a dangerous crime wave hits the beach, legendary Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson, The Fate of the Furious) leads his elite squad of badass lifeguards on a mission to prove you don’t have to wear a badge to save the bay. Joined by a trio of hot-shot recruits including former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), they’ll ditch the surf and go deep undercover to take down a ruthless businesswoman (Priyanka Chopra, TV’s “Quantico”), whose devious plans threaten the future of the bay.


Back in 1989, “Baywatch” aired on television.  Unfortunately, the first series didn’t last that long but when it was revived for the first-run syndication market in 1991, the show was successful not just in the United States but internationally and would air for a decade, ending with it’s final series “Baywatch: Hawaii” in 2001.

The series would receive a film adaptation but instead of drama, the film was created as an action comedy.  Directed by Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”, “Identity Thief”) and a screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift.

The film stars Dwayne Johnson (“Fast & Furious”, “San Andreas”, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”), Zac Efron (“High School Musical”, “17 Again”, “That Awkward Moment”), Priyanka Chopra (“Quantico”, “Barf!!”), Alexandra Daddario (“San Andreas”, “Percy Jackson” films), Kelly Rohrbach (“Broad City”, “Cafe Society”), Ilfenesh Hadera (“Oldboy”, “Billions”), Jon Bass (“Loving”, “Big Time in Hollywood”, “All Nighter”) and “Yahya Abdul-Mateen II” (“The Get Down”, “Aquaman”).

The film which was budgeted at $69 million and would earn $177.4 million in the box office.

And now “Baywatch: Extended Cut” is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.

The film is set in Emerald Bay, Florida and Lt. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is doing his rounds at the beach, alongside his second-command Stephanie Holden (portrayed by Ifenesh Hadera) and fellow bodyguard C.J. Parker (portrayed by Kelly Rohrbach).  The three work on the beat for the Baywatch division and as the are planning to hire new bodyguards, Mitch is told by his superior, Captain Thorpe (portrayed by Rob Huebel) that due to a decrease in funding, for publicity, he will need to take in Olympian swimmer Matt Brody (portrayed by Zac Efron).

Unfortunately, Matt thinks he’s entitled, cocky and immediately rubs Mitch and crew the wrong way.

As for those trying out to be part of Baywatch, Ronnie Greenbaum (portrayed by Jon Bass) is a chubby (yet well-endowed) guy who has always liked CJ and each time she is nice to him, he feels that’s not good enough to be around her.  It doesn’t help that Ronnie can’t speak or does weird things when she’s around but will he make the cut for Baywatch?

As for Summer Quinn, she’s determined and blunt and often has words for Matt especially since he can’t stop looking at her boobs.

Meanwhile on the beach, Victoria Leeds (portrayed by Priyanka Chopra) is the new owner of a private bar, while sweet on the outside, she is actually a crime boss selling drugs on the beach.

When the new Baywatch team is selected, immediately they start noticing drugs on the beach and during a rescue attempt for a congressman and a few partying women, Mitch thinks the drugs and cases of homicides are related to Victoria Leeds.

And as much as he wants to bust them, Sgt. Ellerbee often reminds Mitch and team that they are not police and solving these crimes are his jurisdiction.  And Matt agrees with the Sgt., and bickers with the other Baywatch members because he doesn’t feel they should be investigating homicides but helping people who drown or people who get sunburned.

Will this new Baywatch team ever gel?  And will they find out who is responsible for the drugs and homicides that are occuring at Emerald Beach?


VIDEO:

“Baywatch: Extended Cut” receives its first 4K Ultra HD K Ultra HD release and is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition.

With the film shot outdoors, colors are absolutely vibrant and the film looks colorful and wonderful in 4K Ultra HD.  Closeups show amazing detail and for the most part, this film looks great in 4K!

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio quality is equally impressive. Featured in English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and with an English audio description.

The film has a blend of crystal clear dialogue, music and great use of sound effects during action sequences, which there are plenty.  “Baywatch” sounds amazing!

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Baywatch: Extended Cut” on 4K Ultra HD comes with the following special features:

  • Meet the Lifeguards – (21:36) A featurette with the cast talking about the fun they are having on the set and working with each other on set.
  • Continuing the Legacy – (9:28) A featurette about creating a film re-imagining the “Baywatch” TV series.
  • Stunts & Training – (9:10) A featurette about the training that the cast had to go through for the film and the stunts they took part in.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – (10:06) Featuring six deleted and extended scenes.

EXTRAS:

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


I’m going to be up front about this…growing up, I absolutely enjoyed “Baywatch”.  Sure, that teenager in me loved watching the film for the many women on the show, watching surfer Kelly Slater in his first major acting gig and for the most part, it was syndicated TV that was popular for its time.

I can easily remember that after football on Sundays, there was always “Baywatch” and it was a series that was hard to resists, and also a reminder of how I wished I was at the beach during the hot summer.

So, with the announcement of “Baywatch”, I must admit that hearing about a movie adaptation but instead of being dramatic, the film is more action comedy.  And the trailer was enough to peak my interest as it had done with other ’80s shows such as “21 Jump Street”, why not “Baywatch”?

And what a hilarious and fun film this turned out to be.  Sure, I know many people are going to pan this film as “Baywatch” embodies a series that was often T&A and many guys watching for the ladies, and there were ladies who watched it for the men.  And the film retains the T&A jokes but also some of the immature comedy that one often sees with an Apatow or Sandler film.  And a lot of those films tend to turn film critics off.

The thing about this film is you don’t take it seriously.  This is not a film that tries to capture the true life of bodyguards, it’s more of a comedy of a group of bodyguards who get involved in a major murder mystery (something out of their jurisdiction) but they just want their beaches safe.

Add in sexual tension and a cocky Matt Brody with plenty of improvisation and in the end, you get a film that is crazy, fun and if you are into immature jokes, something to make you laugh.

One scene has potential lifeguard, Ronnie Greenbaum choking on his food and CJ coming to give him the Heimlich maneuver, but with each thrust on him while in her red swimsuit gets Ronnie a stiffy and before CJ could see, he falls on a wooden chair on the beach.  But doesn’t realize that his long penis gets caught in the groove and he’s literally stuck.  Needless to say, everyone on the beach see it, record him on their smartphone and CJ and Mitch are brought into the mix.

It’s stupid jokes like these that you can’t help but laugh.  But it’s no doubt one of those moments in the film that stay with you because it’s so memorable (for some reason, a scene in “Porky’s” comes to mind, but not as sexually explicit).

And of course, this wouldn’t be a “Baywatch” film without the Hoff and Pamela Anderson making an appearance.  And even the cast joking about the slow-motion running and also poking fun of the popular TV show.

It’s important to note that because of the adult humor, this is not a film to watch with children in the room!

As for the 4K Ultra HD release, picture quality is absolutely fantastic.  Lossless audio is equally awesome and there are numerous special features included.

Overall, “Baywatch: Extended Cut” is a hilarious action comedy that pays homage to the hit TV series but also is a laugh-out loud, fun and crazy film.  Sure, it may not be for everyone, but as a guy who watched the original “Baywatch” series many times during my teenage years, I can’t help but enjoy Seth Gordon’s “Baywatch”!  An action comedy worth watching!

That Awkward Moment (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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“That Awkward Moment” is a romantic comedy that often falls flat, but manages to pick itself up towards the second half.  Sure, it is contrived and it has its number of moments of stupidity, but for those looking for a romantic comedy that is not too deep or emotional, especially a romantic comedy geared for guys, may find “That Awkward Moment” a film that will appeal to them. 

Image are courtesy of © 2013 AWOD Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: That Awkward Moment

YEAR OF FILM: 2014

DURATION: 94 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Sexual Content and Language Throughout)

RELEASE DATE: May 13, 2014

Written and Directed by Tom Gormican

Produced by Scott Aversano, Justin Nappi, Andrew O’Connor, Kevin Turren

Executive Producer: Jason Barrett, Lia Buman, Zac Efron, John Friedberg, Manu Gargi, Peter Schlessel, Michael Simkin

Associate Produced by Juliet Berman, Ryan Thurbon

Co-Produced by Andrew Fierberg

Music by David Torn

Cinematography by Brandon Trost

Edited by Shawn Paper, Greg Tillman

Edited by Shawn Paper, Greg Tillman

Production Design by Ethan Tobman

Set Decoration by Deirdre Brennan

Starring:

Zac Efron as Jason

Miles Teller as Daniel

Michael B. Jordan as Mikey

Imogen Poots as Ellie

Mackenzie Davis as Chelsea

Jessica Lucas as Vera

Addison Timlin as Alana

Josh Pais as Fred

Evelina Turen as Sophie

Every relationship has that “so” moment. For a guy like Jason (Zac Efron), that’s where things always end. He’s firmly committed to non-commitment. When the marriage of his friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) falls apart, Jason takes it as proof that the single life is for the better. To get Mikey back in the game, Jason enlists him and drinking buddy Daniel (Miles Teller) to take a shared vow: together, they’ll stay single as long as humanly possible. Then along comes Ellie (Imogen Poots), the unpredictable, unforgettable one-night hook-up who changes all the rules. Despite all his instincts, Jason just can’t let her go… and his status is about to get very complicated.

Not very often do you get to see a first-time writer/director make his writing/directorial debut for a feature film, but that is the case for Tom Gormican.

As writer/director for the 2014 film “That Awkward Moment”, a film that was originally part of the Black List (a survey which lists the top motion picture screenplays not produced) and would earn Zac Efron an MTV Movie Award for “Best Shirtless Performance”.

The film would star Zac Efron (“High School Musical”, “17 Again”, “The Lucky One”), Miles Teller (“21 & Over”, “The Spectacular Now”), Michael B Jordan (“Chronicle”, “Fruivale Station”), Imogen Poots (“28 Weeks Later”, “Need for Speed”, “V for Vendetta”), Mackenzie Davis (“Smashed”, “Breathe In”) and  Jessica Lucas (“Pompeii”, “Cloverfield”).

And now, “That Awkward Moment” will be released on Blu-ray & DVD in May 2014.

“That Awkward Moment” revolves around three best friends, Jason (portrayed by Zac Efron), Daniel (portrayed by Miles Teller) and Mikey (portrayed by Michael B. Jordan).

Jason is a man who loves having sexual contact with women with no feelings of commitment towards them.  He wants no relationship and loves to have fun.  While Daniel works with Jason at an advertising firm and is not great with women, but thanks to his female best friend Chelsea (portrayed by Mackenzie Davis), he is able to meet many women thanks to her.

As for Mikey, he is a nurse that is trying to move on after his wife Vera (portrayed by Jessica Lucas) files for divorce and admits that she has had sexual relationships with the divorce lawyer.

Wanting to cheer up Mikey, Jason comes up with an idea that all of them must stay single, no commitments and have fun!  And each of them make a promise to stay single.

But things change for each of these young men as privately, unbeknownst to each other, they are having their own personal fun.

Jason has a one night stand with Ellie (portrayed by Imogen Poots) and starts to realize that he has more feelings towards her than he ever felt for any other woman.

Daniel starts to find himself attracted to his friend Chelsea and both start having a sexual relationship.

While Daniel and his wife Vera seem to be getting back together and are having the greatest sex they have ever had.

As the guys break their promise towards each other, having found love, will they be ready for it?  And what happens when the guys find out that each of them have broken their promise of staying single?

 

VIDEO:

“That Awkward Moment” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  One of the positive feelings I have towards this Blu-ray release is the film’s cinematography.  I enjoyed how New York was featured and the style that accompanies a NY romantic comedy.  But the overall picture quality features vibrant colors, great detail and clarity.  Skin tones are natural and detail was great that one scene that feature Daniel and Chelsea, you can see the lint flying all over the room.  But for the most part, picture quality for this film is very good!

AUDIO/INTERTITLES:

“That Awkward Moment” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  The film is primarily dialogue and musically driven.  Front and center channels feature crystal clear dialogue and music throughout the film.  While there are some moments of surround sound use with scenes featuring crowds.  But overall, a lossless soundtrack that is adequate for this romantic comedy.

Subtitles are in English and English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“That Awkward Moment” comes with the following special features:

  • Moment of Truth: Behind the Scenes – (9:40) The cast discuss how they became good friends during production.  Also, working with the director/writer, Tom Gormican.
  • Threesome: More Awkward Moments- (9:07) Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller discuss the film and their “So” moments.
  • Character Profiles – (3:53) Featuring profiles of the various characters of the film.
  • Extended Gag Reel – (3:40) Bloopers from “That Awkward Moment”.

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When it comes to romantic comedies, there are those that are remembered for its memorable characters, lines, moments and films that you watch often, because they resonate strongly with you.  From the moment you first see it, to decades later.

“That Awkward Moment” is not one of those romantic comedies.  But it is a film that I will remember for its jokes falling flat or jokes that were just not funny at all.

And it was tough because there are things about the film that I enjoyed.  I love the fact that this film was set in New York, I enjoyed the chemistry between Zac Efron and Imogen Poots.  I enjoyed the cinematography, costume design and even the music.  As well as some of the improvised scenes that were hilarious and fun.

But part of the problem with the film is how it tries to be too funny with jokes that are literally not.  For one, this film is a bromance film that guys will no doubt enjoy because it’s about three good friends who talk about sex, their experiences and trying to live the life as a single guy.

And I have no problem with that as many of my guy friends including myself have those crazy discussions.  But when you have jokes of guys taking Viagra and then having difficulties going pee, or jokes of one guy wacking off to suntan lotion and getting an orange penis and another joke, with one wearing a costume with a penis as a tail (cock tail) for a social gathering, it just doesn’t work.

As I watched the film with my wife, she was the first to say, “this film is for guys”.  And as a romantic comedy about three guys, yeah…it’s more about the bro dynamic.  Guys supporting each other as they want to see each other succeed and get laid.

While you get the deep scenes with Zac Efron and Imogen Poots, it’s far too short and you want to see more of them rather than the other guys and their girls.  My wife just found the bromance scenes a little bit too much for her and she was done with the film, halfway.  While for me, despite the unfunny scenes, there are moments that as a guy, you just enjoy for its crazy moments.

But I did come to this film expecting the worse and for first-time filmmaker Tom Gormican, he manages to pull off a film that is OK, for the most part.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality was great.  Vibrant with great clarity and for the most part, loved how New York was showcased throughout the film.  Lossless audio was adequate with crystal clear dialogue and music.  With some scenes with crowd ambiance and using the surround channels.  But it’s not an immersive soundtrack, but adequate as many romantic comedies are.  You also get a few special features included an extended gag reel, character featurettes and more.

Overall, “That Awkward Moment” is a romantic comedy that often falls flat, but manages to pick itself up towards the second half.  Sure, it is contrived and it has its number of moments of stupidity, but for those looking for a romantic comedy that is not too deep or emotional, especially a romantic comedy geared for guys, may find “That Awkward Moment” a film that will appeal to them.

 

At Any Price (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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Ramin Bahrani’s “At Any Price” is an entertaining and fascinating film that provides insight to modern agriculture, its competitive nature but how far farmers will go to be the best in the business.    Featuring a wonderful performance from Dennis Quaid!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Farm Film LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: At Any Price

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (For Sexual Content, Including a Strong Graphic Image and for Language)

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Directed by Ramin Bahrani

Screenplay by Ramin Bahrani, Hallie Elizabeth Newton

Producer: Ramin Bahrani, Pamela Koffler, Justin Nappi, Teddy Schwarzman, Kevin Turen, Christine Vachon

Executive Producer: Mohammed Al Turki, Ron Curtis, Eric Nyari, Brian Young

Co-Producer: Declan Baldwin, Andrew Levitas

Line Producer: Gary Giudice

Associate Producer: Summer Shelton, Ben Stillman

Music by Dickon Hinchliffe

Cinematograpy by Michael Simmonds

Edited by Affonso Goncalves

Casting by Douglas Aibel

Production Design by Chad Keith

Art Direction by Jonathan Guggenheim

Set Decoration by Adam Willis

Costume Design by Tere Duncan

Starring:

Dennis Quaid as Henry Whipple

Kim Dickens as Irene Whipple

Aaron B. Oduber as Young Dean Whipple

Jacob R. Oduber as Young Grant Whipple

Zac Efron as Dean Whipple

Patrick W. Stevens as Grant Whipple

Guy Massey as Funeral Pastor

John Hoogenakker as Mr. Pritchard

Laura Atwood as Mrs. Pritchard

Dan Waller as Larry Brown

Maika Monroe as Cadence Farrow

In the competitive world of modern agriculture, ambitious HENRY WHIPPLE (Dennis Quaid) wants his rebellious son DEAN (Zac Efron) to help expand his family’s farming empire. However, Dean has his sights set on becoming a professional race car driver. When a high-stakes investigation into their business is exposed, father and son are pushed into an unexpected crisis that threatens the family’s entire livelihood.A farming family’s business is threatened by an unexpected crisis, further testing the relationship between a father and his rebellious son.

In America’s heartland, farmers are facing increasing competition and for many, the rule for survival is to expand.  But how far will farmers go to expand?

This is what filmmaker Ramin Bahrani (“Chop Shop”, “Plastic Bag”, “Goodbye Solo”) wanted to find out.

Going to Iowa and to stay and learn from farmers, talk about what is happening with today’s farms and learning that farmers are facing not only competition but facing pressure of selling their land because no siblings want to pursue the farming lifestyle but also the risks of not having enough to compete with the most powerful farmers.

And from this experience, Ramin came up with the idea to write and direct the film “At Any Price” which stars Dennis Quaid (“The Day After”, “Vantage Point”, “Frequency”), Zac Efron (“17 Again”, “High School Musical”, “The Lucky One”), Heather Graham (“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”, “Boogie Nights”, “The Hangover”), Kim Dickens (“The Blindside”, Hollow Man”, “House of Sand and Fog”) and Maika Monroe (“The Bling Ring”).

“At Any Price” revolves around the dysfunctional Whipple family.

Henry Whipple is the patriarch who runs the Whipple family farm that was created by his great grandfather and is expected to continue the business by his father.  As an enterprising farmer, the Whipple’s are in the business of genetically modified corn seed and is the top seed salesman in seven southern Iowa counties for a major agribusiness corporation.  And always striving to be the best in the competitive farming business, Henry knows that expansion is the key of being on top and he often attends funerals of farmers in order to give deals to families of buying out their land.

Seen by grieving families as “sharks”, Henry knows that chances are that siblings are not wanting to run the farm and rather sell, so he tries to teach the business to his youngest son Dean (portrayed by Zac Efron), a young man who rather race cars than run a farm.

As Henry’s wife Irene (portrayed by Kim Dickens) tries to make sure everything goes well in the home and both husband and wife follow the adventures of their oldest son Grant (portrayed by Patrick W. Stevens), a college football standout and one traveling the world instead of wanting to come home and run the family farm.  Eventually, Henry worries about who will continue the family business if he passes and if his sons will take it over.  With Grant going off on travels and not coming home, Henry begins to think that maybe Dean is the son that can run the family farm.  Problem is, he knows that Dean is wanting to pursue racing.

For Dean, he’s not close to his father. He sees his father focused more on the “family farming business” than his own kids and puts a lot of pressure on them to take over the family farm.  So, Dean tends to get into trouble, vandalizing stores in town and hanging out with his girlfriend Cadence Farrow (portrayed by Maika Monroe) and his friends, getting drunk and having fun.

But his dreams is to race pro, having won the local stock racing tournaments.

But for the Whipple’s, their rivals are the Johnson family.  Jim Johnson has further broken into Henry’s farming territory and taking one of his counties and setting himself to be the #1 seed seller in the region, while his son Brad (portrayed by Ben Marten) is Dean’s rival on the race track.  The competition between both families of being #1 is tough.

And in trying to be #1, that may include doing things that you’re not proud of.  And for Henry, his life starts to change when he is investigated for illegal seeding practices (selling used seeds) and now wondering who may have ratted him out.

So, the stress is high for Henry as he cheats on his wife with the younger Meredith (portrayed by Heather Graham), who also has her eyes on his son, Dean.  He also has to deal with a father who puts pressure on him for not damaging the reputation of the farming business that the Whipple family had created long ago.  But Henry may have to deal with a son, the future of the Whipple farming business, in ways that he never thought would ever happen.

VIDEO:

“At Any Price” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  There are many scenes that are shot outdoors and so, outdoor scenes are colorful and vibrant.  Closeup of characters faces provide quite a bit of detail, colors are warm and black levels during darker scenes are nice and deep, didn’t notice any crush, artifacts or banding.  If anything, picture quality for this film on Blu-ray is very good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“At Any Price” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  The film is primarily dialogue and music and is center/front channel-driven.  There are moments with surround use via ambiance with crowds or the sounds of overhead aircraft and stock car racing scenes.  But the lossless soundtrack is crystal clear and for a film such as “At Any Price”, is appropriate.

Subtitles are in English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“At Any Price” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ramin Bahrani and Dennis Quaid.
  • Toronto International Film Festival Q&A – (13:36) An audience Q&A with Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens and Maika Monroe.
  • Rehearsal Footage – (5:35) Prior to the film being made, Ramin Bahrani shot rehearsal footage with other actors on his digital camera. Featuring four scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:18) Theatrical trailer for “At Any Price”.

I have known many farmers in my lifetime.  Having been raised in an agricultural area, I learned a lot about the issues faces California farmers.  But “At Any Price” shown me a perspective of today’s modern agriculture that I was not familiar with.  The business of genetically modified seeds but also logical issues that pertain to farmers in relation to expansion but also an aging demographic of family farming businesses that are threatened primarily because no other family member wants to take on the farming business.

The story of “At Any Price” is rather interesting because filmmaker Ramin Bahrani had six months to stay and live with farmers and learn about the business.  While the film is not about any major corporation that specializes in seeds, Ramin presents an interesting storyline of how far farmers would go to continue to be on top.  May it be through expansion or by making sure the family stays dominant in their state through interesting farming practices.

In the case of the Whipple family, as featured in the film, the family patriarch is Henry Whipple, a man who thrives on being the #1 seed salesman in Iowa.  Having seven counties that he is responsible for, Henry is a man who puts on a forced smile in his face, attending funerals of deceased farmers and approaching to buy their farmland.

He is seen like a shark but the truth is that some of these deceased farmers have no one to watch or maintain the farm, children have moved out of the area to pursue other business and he knows that.  He does his research on the individuals and it’s a business that he may not be proud of but he knows that it ensures the Whipple family business to be the top in the state.

But like other farmers, he deals with children who are not so interested in the farming business.  For generation after generation, the family business has been pass down to the sons of the family but his oldest, a talented college football player, prefers to travel, while the youngest, prefers to race cars and go after his dream of becoming a professional race car driver.

While many films do have the banal tone of hardworking father never having time with the family and thus is seen like an outsider to the family, in today’s modern agriculture, its one of the sacrifices for business success and that is to focus on the business, take care of the land and do his father proud.  And depending on the wife to focus on the family.

“At Any Price” is a story with a juxtaposition, a father who would do anything for the business and then you have the youngest son, Dean, the future racer or the future owner of the Whipple family business.

Dean has a hot temper.  Not interested in the family business, all he cares about is winning races and being with his friends and girlfriend.   He hates his father interfering with his life and feels that his father put so much into business and now that they are older, he cares for them to take over the family business.  Suffice to say, there are significant father and son issues in this film but things head to a very dark path when all hell breaks loose.

But for the sake of the family business, how far would one go?

“At Any Price” at first resembles something that is a slice of life for Americans in the Plain States, Ramin Bahrani then knows how to take the film to a different place when something very bad takes place and the film’s tone changes drastically, in a good way.

Part of the film’s efficacy relies on the talented Dennis Quaid.  We have seen great work from Dennis Quaid in the past, but this is a role in which the actor is able to show that he still has it!  Playing a businessman who has been morally compromised and the typical American family not pure but flawed and suffice to say, things do get dark.

Zac Efron plays the hothead teenager, Dean, who gets himself in quite a bit of trouble but for the most part, the scenes with both father and son are the most explosive and emotional, and becomes the better performances of the film.

Actress Heather Graham also makes an appearance in the film but in this role of Meredith, she may as well be the town’s floozie, who has a sexual liaison with the married Henry and yet also wanting to hook up with his son Dean.

Possibly the most interesting supportive role goes to Maika Monroe who play’s Dean’s girlfriend Cadence.  Because Dean is not around, Henry decides to mentor Dean’s girlfriend, and she eventually is the important connection to the story of Henry’s illegal farming practice.  I don’t know too many girlfriends who would help their boyfriend’s father with farming but it was an interesting role, and how she is utilized by Bahrani.

A major plot that does happen in the film is surrounding the use of seeds.  This is where I was not too familiar with the practice of seeds, but in America, there are major corporations that specialize in production and selling these genetically modified seeds to farmers.  The reason why Henry is being investigated is because he allegedly purchases these seeds from a major seed company, washes them and replants them.  This is illegal because the seeds are patented intellectual property and farmers must pay for each time the seeds are used.   Because Henry buys the land from other farmers who are deceased and possibly buy them from a major company that they were contracted with, he takes the seeds, rewashes them and resells them.

But with the investigators now wanting to test his crop to see if his seeds are in fact his or came from the genetically modified seeds and if so, he can be fined as seeds are patented.

There are various court cases in regards to the farming industry and seeds but to see it in the film, it was an eye-opener to know that farmers have to pay for seeds every year and are not allowed to re-use the ones they have.  But also the issues that farmers face in America’s heartland.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is great.  Most of the scenes are outdoors, colors are vibrant and as for lossless audio, while a front-channel driven soundtrack, there are moments where you hear aircraft flying overhead or crowd ambiance.  And there is a good number of special features including an audio commentary and Q&A at a film festival.

Overall, Ramin Bahrani’s “At Any Price” is an entertaining and fascinating film that provides insight to modern agriculture, its competitive nature but how far farmers will go to be the best in the business.    Featuring a wonderful performance from Dennis Quaid!  Recommended!

Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens break up

December 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 20: Actors Vanessa Hudgens (L) and Zac Efron arrive at the premiere of Universal Pictures' 'Charlie St. Cloud' at the Village Theater on July 20, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

E! Online is reporting that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens have broken up.  The two have been in a relationship since they met each other on Disney’s “High School Musical” back in 2006.

A source tells E!, “They were together for so long. It just ran its course.”

Zac Efron at the Spanish Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures “High School Musical 3: Senior Year”

October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Zac Efron at the Spanish Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” on October 2nd at the Capitol Cinema in Madrid, Spain ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Held at the El Capital Theatre, the red carpet Madrid Premiere was attended by the film’s stars, including Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu, as well as director Kenny Ortega.

The film opens in U.S. theatres on Friday, October 24, 2008.

About the Movie:

Disney’s “High School Musical” phenomenon leaps onto the big screen in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: SENIOR YEAR, in which America’s favorite high school students (ZAC EFRON, VANESSA HUDGENS, ASHLEY TISDALE, LUCAS GRABEEL, CORBIN BLEU and MONIQUE COLEMAN) hit senior year.  Amidst a basketball championship, prom and a big spring musical featuring all of the Wildcats, Troy and Gabriella vow to make every moment last as their lifelong college dreams put the future of their relationship in question.  A crew of sophomore Wildcats (MATT PROKOP, JUSTIN MARTIN, JEMMA MCKENZIE-BROWN) joins in the fun as the film’s incredible new music and exciting dance numbers take maximum advantage of the big screen.  Directed by Kenny Ortega from a screenplay written by Peter Barsocchini, the film opens in theaters Oct. 24.

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