Enter to Win a Blu-ray of “From Dusk Till Dawn The Series: Season 3”

Media Mikes would like to give three of our fans a chance to win a “From Dusk Till Dawn The Series: Season 3” on Blu-ray. If you want to win this great prize, please leave a comment your favorite character from this series. This giveaway will remain open until February 10th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

If you can’t wait to own this, click here to purchase a Blu-ray!

Season three of “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” continues the Gecko brothers’ saga as they fight their way through the chilling world of culebras, the vampire-snake hybrids that control hidden empires in Texas and Mexico. Once the baddest outlaws in the land, Seth and Richie made a run for the Border two years ago to save their lives – and their fortune. After stumbling into a bar full of bloodsuckers and bandits, the Geckos encountered the vampire goddess Santánico, joining her cause to settle an old score. It won them a place in the culebra world. Now that world is on the verge of violent and destructive explosion as new enemies hell-bent on domination gather to take them down. In typical Gecko fashion, Seth and Richie assemble an unlikely crew (some new, some old) to take on the forces of hell.

Film Review “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavilll and Amy Adams
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 153 Minutes
Warner Bros. Pictures

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Over the past decade, Marvel has slowly built one of the most highly anticipated cinematic franchises, with each installment garnishing rave reviews and even more acclaim from fans. Through 12 movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has meticulously and carefully put all the pieces together, to where millions will turn out this summer and understand nearly every second of “Captain America: Civil War”. Marvel has taken a lot of time and patience to get that point. Warner Bros. and DC apparently don’t have time for that.

Set 18 months after the events of “Man of Steel”, “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” obviously introduces us to Bruce Wayne (Affleck). His backstory is ubiquitous, so we gloss over his tragic past in a quick sequence of shots and voice over narration on the opening credits. But the draw is when we watch the fight between Superman (Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) from the end of “Man of Steel”. While people flee from the chaos, Bruce runs into the clouds of debris and crumbling buildings, highlighting why he’s a superhero, even when he’s not the Dark Knight.

The scene is captivating and eerily reminiscent of 9/11, and that’s what it’s supposed to tell us about Batman’s mind set. It also seems to acknowledge many fan concerns from “Man of Steel” about the loss of life during the Superman/Zod beatdown. There’s a lot less careless disregard for civilians in “Batman V. Superman”, but that’s because much of the movie is spent building up to the fight between Batman and Superman. But that’s because it’s what people want to see, obviously. So does the build-up make sense? Kind of. Does it pay off? Sort of.

Since DC is playing catch-up, I believe it’s fair to compare “Batman V. Superman” to the “Avengers”. While Marvel clearly has room to breathe and enjoy what is has, DC appears breathless as it rushes through characters, plots, and ideas. While I did say that Batman’s origins are omnipresent, where Batman is at in his his life is a bit of a mystery. He’s in his 40’s and seemingly has a lot more downtime than previous incantations of Bruce Wayne. But rarely do we truly understand his distrust of Superman, more than we’re just supposed to go along with it. He also seems to have some skeletons in the closet we’re not being told about.

Then there’s the iconic Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). When he arrives on scene, it’s clear he’s a billionaire playboy, but there are implications that he may just be a sociopath that inherited his father’s money. It’s uncertain whether he’s a genius or someone who’s trying to make too many bizarre religious connections to Superman. His infatuation with Superman, and to some extent Batman, is also never really explained. It’s merely implied that he has some extreme personality disorders.

Because so much of the plot is rushed and skipped over, we’re left having to digest CGI spectacles, and badly worded metaphors uttered by Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s butler (Jeremy Irons) or Lois Lane, Superman’s squeeze (Adams). There’s too much information, but also too much time spent on inconsequential scenes, like Batman’s bizarre nightmare and Superman’s heart-to-heart on a random snowy mountain with his dead Earth father. “Batman V. Superman” doesn’t feel like a stand-alone movie, more than it just feels like a really long and unnecessary teaser for a “Justice League” movie.

If that’s the case, then the “Justice League” movie better be fantastic because we’ve really had to go through a lot of trouble to get one. That’s not to say “Batman V. Superman” isn’t a decent movie with some good ideas. The casting of Affleck, as well as his performance, is enough to forgive him for “Daredevil”. His portrayal of an aging Batman, focused on his legacy, could create some interesting plot points for later DC films, if they do it right. We also get more of Superman, carried over from “Man of Steel”, as a conflicted man dealing with his powers and who he should be for the people of Earth. While some people don’t like that Superman, I find that Superman more interesting and relatable.

Then of course, there’s Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), whose appearance was ruined by the theatrical trailers, which is really a shame because her appearance at the end isn’t a complete surprise. Despite that, the attending audience still went nuts as she hacked a few limbs off Doomsday; another character spoiled by the trailer. I do hope that Zack Snyder doesn’t use “Wonder Woman” much like he used the ladies of “Sucker Punch” or we’ll be in for more masturbatory nerd fan service with a really exciting character that’s more than just simple eye candy.

It’s hard to predict where “Batman V. Superman” will fall in the inevitable grand scheme of things. Looking in the crystal ball, there are some interesting directors and writers attached to future DC projects, such as Patty Jenkins, the director of “Monster” and James Wan director of “The Conjuring”. While Jenkins gets to handle the origins of Wonder Woman and Wan gets the handle the origins of Aquaman, it looks like Snyder will still be the man at the helm when it comes to the “Justice League” movie. If “Batman V. Superman” and “Man of Steel” are any sign, DC might want to find someone else, and fast.

Win Tickets to the Kansas City Premiere of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”

Hey Kansas City! Are you ready for a “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” advance screening giveaway? We have tickets to the Kansas City screening Tuesday, March 22 in IMAX at AMC Barrywoods. To enter for a chance to win, simply go to www.wbtickets.com and enter the code BvSMediaMikes. You have from now until Sunday, March 20 to enter. Five winners will be chosen via a random drawing Monday, March 21. Each winner will receive two tickets. ‪#‎WhoWillWin ‪#‎BvS
Good luck!
SCREENING INFORMATION
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
7:00 p.m.
AMC Barrywoods, Kansas City, Missouri

Concert Review: Breaking Benjamin “Dark Before Dawn Tour” Big Flats, NY

“Dark Before Dawn Tour”
Breaking Benjamin, Starset
Date: Tuesday, July 14th 2015
Venue: Tag’s Summer Stage, Big Flats, NY

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Breaking Benjamin kicked off their summer tour run in support of their most recent album “Dark Before Dawn” at Tag’s Summer Stage in Big Flats, NY on July 14th. Despite torrential down pours which prompted flash flood warnings mixed with heavy periods of thunder and lightning the show seemed to go off without a hitch.

Razor & Tie recording artist Starset would open the night hitting the stage performing their unique blend of techno infused rock. Clad in spacey lighted costume the members of the band laid a solid foundation for vocalist Dustin Bates who split his time behind the microphone and a giant touch screen control panel that seemed to be straight out of an “Iron Man” film. The group performed a variety of songs of their debut album “Transmission” including the hit single “My Demons” prior to the conclusion of the set. After a rather lengthy set change and still under foreboding skies the members of Breaking Benjamin would hit the stage to instant applause as they performed the song “So Cold”.

Throughout the bands 22 song set the band took time to show their appreciation for the crowds support throughout the numerous bouts of bad weather leading up to the bands performance. The nights set list was a combination of both new and old material with a handful of covers including Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” and Tool’s “Aenima” to name just a few. The addition of the covers made me questions the bands decision as with 5 albums worth of material to choose from why not give the fans a little more of your own material as opposed to someone else’s. Either way all the hits were still there including the group’s 2002 break out hit “Polyamorous” which certainly was one of the songs garnering the night’s biggest applause.

With this being the bands first night of the tour I was a bit skeptical as you never know what to expect as things are generally still being worked out 2 to 3 shows into a tour however the band sounded great and right out of the gate seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Breaking Benjamin did not let bad weather hinder their performance and the sizeable crowd was very gracious. The tour runs through August so if you haven’t gotten tickets yet for the show closest to your area what are you waiting for?

Breaking Benjamin Set List:
1.) So Cold
2.) Angels Fall
3.) Follow
4.) Break My Fall
5.) Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen Cover)
6.) Unknown Soldier
7.) Sooner or Later
8.) Blow Me Away
9.) Failure
10.) Breath
11.) AEnema (Tool Cover)
12.) Phase
13.) Away
14.) Give Me a Sign
15.) Shallow Bay
16.) Imperial March/ Schism/ Smells Like Teen Spirit/ Walk
17.) Polyamorous
18.) Evil Angel
19.) Until the End
20.) I Will Not Bow
21.) Lights Out
22.) Dance with the Devil
23.) Intro
24.) The Diary of Jane

Book Review “The Art of the Films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes”

Author: Matt Hurwitz
Hardcover: 173 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: July 8, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was released in 2011, I was very upset when it didn’t have an art of companion book. All the work, all the visual effects that went into that film to make it amazing as it was needed to be shared with the world. Well with the release of “Dawn of Planet of the Apes”, we are now getting an art of book for both of them. The book is a literally amazing from the hard cover to the last page including tons of great production photography and concept art for both films. I absolutely love both of these films and if you do as well, this is a must own.

So it is kind of obvious what the focus of this book would be and that is the creation of the apes. I recently went back and re-watched “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” after seeing Dawn of Planet of the Apes” and if you look at the apes in the first film compared to the second, there has been such an improvement. I thought they looked amazing in “Rise” but “Dawn” really delivered 10x the visual effects. So this book includes some fantastic concept art, production stills, VFX renders and finished frames from these movies showcasing those aspects. You also have to remember that these apes aren’t just CGI effects they included state of the art technology mixed with motion capture performances from some very talented actors.

Aside from the apes creation, there are also tons of great locations that was focused on. From “Rise”, there is the lab, Will’s home, primate shelter and, of course, the Bridge. In “Dawn”, there was a bit more since it takes place 10 years after “Rise” and shows pretty much the wipe out of the human race a very degraded world. I really enjoyed this section quite a bit for sure. Between the apes lair and the human’s hold up in a run down San Francisco, it just shows how much work went into this film. Kudos again to Titan Books for releasing yet another gem and my wife is cursing you for us needing a gigantic coffee table since each book is better than the next.

Film Review “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hrs 10 mins
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I’m currently co-authoring a book about the making of movie sequels. Among the earlier ones were the very successful “Planet of the Apes” films. Five in total, they took moviegoers to what they thought was a distant planet, underneath it, back to it and then finally watched the conquest of and the battle for it. Almost three decades after the last film, Tim Burton put his very puzzling stamp on a remake/reboot/reimagining of the original 1968 film. Another decade would pass before Hollywood went back to the well with the very well done “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which did away with the time travel plot and brought the apes to us. Now that we’re all caught up, let’s talk about “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

The time is now. While the genetically evolved apes from the first film, led by Caesar (Serkis, in what should be an award winning performance) occupy the woods mankind, overwhelmed by the ravages of disease now lives in camps that were one time major cities. We find such a group of survivors in what used to be San Francisco. While on an exploration mission outside the city, a group of humans come across two young apes. A standoff occurs, broken when one of the group panics and fires his gun. The ape is only wounded but the shot of the gun brings out a shrewdness of apes (yes, dear readers, if you want to impress your friends tell them that a group of apes is referred to as a “shrewdness), led by Caesar. Caesar still remembers the kindness he received from some humans and brokers a peace between the two factions. This does not sit well with Koba (Toby Kebbell), a fellow ape who longs to battle. He will soon get his wish.

Much darker than “Rise,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” rises and falls on the large shoulders of Andy Serkis. He gives Caesar a quiet dignity and, if possible, almost makes him human in his emotions. He does not want war, even when those around him insist on it. Serkis conveys more with his eyes than many actors do with their words. From the anger or betrayal to the joy of holding his newborn son, Caesar is the strongest and best drawn out character in the film. Serkis is joined by other actors who also bring out the emotions under their computer generated fur. Kebbell is angry and bitter as Koba while Karin Konoval, as the gentle orangutan Maurice (a nice nod to the late Maurice Evans, who appeared in the original 1968 film), is kind and caring. On the human side, Clarke and Keri Russell do well as the leaders of the observation group, as does Kodi Smit-McPhee, as a young man who spends his time sketching his new simian friends. Oldman is a little over the top in his distrust of the furry fellows. Perhaps someone told him that Hollywood is actually a town run by apes.

Visually the film is outstanding. The apes and their world are rendered well as is the inner workings of what is left of the city of San Francisco. As for the 3D…once again it brought nothing to the film but a lot of blurry images in the foreground. I honestly think the process needs to be saved for animated films, where it seems to work the best.

Dawn Well reflects on “Gilligan’s Island” and new film “Silent But Deadly”

Dawn Wells is best known for her role as Mary Ann Summers, the young girl from Winfield, Kansas that takes an ill fated three hour cruise and ends up stranded on “Gilligan’s Island.”

Born in Reno, Nevada, Ms. Wells represented the state in the 1960 Miss America Pageant. She studied theater at the University of Missouri. After graduation she headed to Hollywood. In 1964 she won the role she is most identified with, Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island.” Following the show’s cancellation in 1967, she continued to work in television, appearing on such popular shows as “The Invaders,” “The Wild, Wild West” and “Bonanza.” She also appeared in a pair of films directed by Charles B. Pierce: “Windtalker” and ”The Town That Dreaded Sundown.”

She has continued to work steadily and can now be seen in the new Jason Lockhart comedy, “Silent But Deadly.” To promote her appearance, Ms. Wells sat down recently with Media Mikes to talk about her new film, her love of theatre and what Mary Ann has planned for the 50th Anniversary of “Gilligan’s Island.”

Mike Smith: Hello from Kansas City, just 3 hours north of Winfield, Kansas!
Dawn Wells: And an hour and a half west of where I went to college in Columbia, Missouri.
MS: M-I-Z Z-O-U
DW: (laughing) that’s it!

MS: Can I ask what attracted you to the film?
DW: Well, I’ve never played a grandmother. I’ve never played an elder role on film at all so I thought it would be fun. And I love the idea of supporting new talent. I thought it was cleverly written, the cast was great and I really enjoyed liked the idea of working with Jason. I’m at that stage in my life where I’m not trying to build a career. I get to do what I enjoy. I enjoyed it when I read it so I took the shot. I loved it.

MS: A few of your co-stars in the film are, like yourself, well known television personalities. Were you able to spend some time on the set talking about your various experiences on the small screen?
DW: Surprisingly, when you’re shooting on set there really isn’t a lot of free time to chat. We did get to know each other during rehearsals, of course. And after we finished filming. I’ve stayed close to many of them. Of course, Lee Meriwether and I both share the Miss America pageant together. And many of them I had worked with in the past on television.

MS: You’ve done everything – film, television, theatre – do you have a preference?
DW: I do enjoy acting in movies but I’ve always loved theatre best. I love the rehearsal time. I love having a live audience and being able to read an audience. I’ve had the chance to play so many interesting roles on stage.

MS: As a follow up, as an actor is it preferable to do a character on stage, where with each performance you can continue to discover your character or film, where you’re often pressed for time so you have to go by your instincts?
DW: Good point. On film you are rushed for time and many times you’ll finish a scene, move on and then think to yourself that there was something else you could have given during that scene. One main difference is reaction. If you’re doing a film, let’s say during the scene someone tips a cup over. Not a problem, you just do it again. On stage, you have to improvise. Let’s say I have a scene where I’m supposed to walk across the stage, grab a vase and toss it out a window. So I make my entrance, cross the stage and discover the vase is not there. You’re in the middle of the performance (laughs)…what can you do? Do I find something else to pick up? Do I walk off stage, grab the vase and then come back in? All those things go through your mind. It’s like a football game. You’ve got the play and you’ve got the play clock in your head. Theatre definitely keeps you on your toes because nothing is perfect. There’s really no such thing as a perfect performance. I remember George C. Scott once said, “you’re doing 8 performances a week. If you get 3 of them in a row good, that’s a miracle.”

MS: 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of “Gilligan’s Island.” Are there any celebrations or gatherings currently planned that you might be taking part in?
DW: 50 years. Sadly I just returned from Russell Johnson’s funeral (NOTE: Johnson played “The Professor” on the popular show). I still catch the show on occasion. Simple and funny and in black and white. Alan Hale and Jim Backus. It was such a joy. It came out during some tough times in the 1960s, when the country was having some very tough times. And I think we helped people laugh.

MS: “Gilligan’s Island” and the Beatles. You both kept America going.
DW: (laughs)
DW: I’m not aware of any celebrations yet but I do have a book coming out in September. I’m just finishing up the last chapter. It’s kind of a “What Would Mary Ann Do?” Remember, when we were dropped off on the island there was no birth control (laughs). Mary Ann got the most fan mail. Everyone loved her. And I feel that she was the rudder. The book is funny…it has a lot of my advice. I’m not sure about the title yet. I don’t know if it will be “Mary Ann: Good Girl” or “What Would Mary Ann Do?” but I do know it will be fun.

MS: What else do you have coming up?
DW: Well, I’m finishing my book. I’m also going to be doing the play “Steel Magnolias” in North Carolina this March. I’m working on a documentary. This is going to be a very busy year for me.

DVD Review "Curandero: Dawn Of The Demon"

Actors: Sergio Acosta, Gizeht Galatea, Carlos Gallardo
Directors: Eduardo Rodriguez
Rated: R (Restricted
Studio: Lionsgate
DVD Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 92 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

A curandero is “a traditional Native American healer or shaman in Latin America, who is dedicated to curing physical or spiritual illnesses” (thanks Wikipedia).

“Curandero: Dawn Of The Demon” was made back in 2005 and I have no idea why it sat unreleased almost for almost 10 years. This supernatural horror pic is a quite impressive with no shortage of gore and some decent action as well. Be sure not to blink though as some of the “grisly images” are gone in a flash but they will stick around as nightmares. “Curandero” also comes presented by Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City”, “Machete”, “Planet Terror”), who wrote and co-produced this film. This is must watch for horror fans and fans of Robert Rodriquez.

Official Premise: “Curandero: Dawn of the Demon” is an action-packed horror flick that takes a couple on a horrifying journey through the deepest bowels of the Mexican underworld. When beautiful federal agent Magdalena calls upon the local curandero (Gallardo) for his services to purify a police station, the two of suddenly find themselves immersed in a satanic cult’s blood-thirsty battleground.

Fans of Robert Rodriquez’s “El Mariachi” will be glad to see Carlos Gallardo in the title role. He is a long time collaborator with Rodriguez also on “Desperado” and “Planet Terror”. I am proud to say that I picked him out right away. Eduardo Rodriguez, no relation to Robert, did a very nice job directing. He is also the director behind last years “Stash House” and this year’s upcoming “Fright Night 2”. So this guy knows his horror and is becoming a force to reckon with quickly.

Lionsgate is releasing this film only on DVD. There is an option of either English or Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks. I prefered the Spanish since the English dub is extremely laughable. This release also comes with an Ultraviolet Digital Copy and only comes with the Spanish version, which is good. But I was unable to redeem at time of review since the webpage stated on the coupon is not accessible. The only special feature here is a audio commentary track with director Eduardo Rodriquez and director of photography Jaime Reynoso. Decent and worth checking out but I would have loved to seen more including some featurettes or cast interviews.

Blu-ray Review “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn”

Actors: Tom Green, Daniel Cudmore, Irone Singleton, Anna Popplewell
Directors: Stewart Hendler
Studio: Microsoft Films / Anderson Merchandise
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t want a live-action movie for “Halo”? I think it is every fans dream. Though if you are looking for the action-packed FPS web series for “Halo”, you might be a little disappointed with “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn”. But it does tell a great story and sets the stage well for “Halo 4”. Remember it is a web series, not a $100 million feature. It is on a small scale but really makes the most of that scale and still aims to deliver the world of “Halo” quite well. Of course Halo’s Master Chief shows up and is played by Daniel Cudmore (Colossus, X2: X-Men United) and voiced by Steve Downes, of course. Anna Popplewell also has a nice role from “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. The series premiered on Halo Waypoint and Machinima.com this past October and was split into five-parts. If you enjoyed the series, then the Blu-ray is definitely worth the purchase just for HD presentation and, most importantly, the extras.

Official Premise: Set against the backdrop of a United Nations Space Command (UNSC) military academy, a group of cadets are training to be the next generation of leaders in the UNSC’s ongoing war with insurrectionists in the outer colonial planets. Among these cadets, Thomas Lasky struggles with his doubts about this war and with the burden of expectations he may not be able to carry. As Lasky comes to terms with his potential as a military leader, the terrifying alien alliance known as the Covenant arrives and threatens to destroy everything he knows. When Lasky is rescued by the Master Chief, he must decide what it means to be a hero. “Halo” fans who experience Lasky’s thrilling origin story in “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” will be rewarded with special insights into the story of “Halo 4” and the “Halo Infinity Multiplayer” experience.

The Blu-ray presentation is really great. Fans will be able to enjoy the entire film uninterrupted in all its 1080p glory. There is also a sharp DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track for the action. Watch out for those whizzing gun shots! The Blu-ray also comes with over an hour of special features, including exclusive behind-the-scenes featurettes. I really enjoyed both audio commentary tracks as well. The first is from the director Stewart Hendler and the second was by 343 Industries. Both are highly recommend, though the second I hold a bit higher. These are a must for any “Halo” fan. Also there are deleted scenes, storyboards and concept art included. All this will satisfy any fan of the series for sure! Lastly, keep an eye out for many Easter Eggs included throughout!

Blu-ray Review “Miramax Multi-Feature: From Dusk Till Dawn Series”

Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Scott Spiegel, P.J. Pesce
Starring: George Clooney, Marco Leonardi, Robert Patrick, Harvey Keitel, Michael Parks, Bruce Campbell
Distributed by: Echo Bridge Entertainment
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: Nov 29, 2011
Running Time: 290 minutes

From Dusk Till Dawn: 4 out of 5 stars
Full-Tilt Boogie: 2.5 out of 5 stars
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Blood Money: 3.5 out of 5 stars
From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“From Dusk Till Dawn” is such a great film and kick started the careers of Robert Rodriguez and George Clooney. It is such a unique and fun film. It’s two sequels, also included in this release, are good but don’t reach the same level of kick-ass. Don’t forgot the feature-length and well-respected documentary “Full-Tilt Boogie” which is also included here. These are conveniently included all on one release thanks to Echo Bridge. Now with that said, this isn’t the best presentation of the films ever but it is in high-def and for the low-price it is definitely worth the purchase. Horror fans should not miss this release!

“From Dusk Till Dawn” follows the Gecko brothers (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) as they head south to a seedy Mexican bar to hide out in safety. Of course it isn’t just your typical strip joint and has to fight for their lives to survive from the creatures it inhabits. “Full-Tilt Boogie” is a full length documentary which goes behind the scenes of on the production of the first “From Dusk Till Dawn”. “From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Blood Money” features a gang of misfits who head to Mexico for the perfect heist. But when they cross the wrong vampire, they get involved with a lot more than they can handle. “From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter” follows Johnny Madrid, who is on the run from the hangman along with the hangman’s daughter Esmeralda by his side. They embark on an adventure that leads them straight into the fight of their lives.

All four films are presented with 1080p transfers and they looks decent at the best but are still a step up from DVD. “Full-Tilt Boogie” is easily the worst quality of the three but it doesn’t bother me because I will watching the films more often than this doc. The audio is also decent with the first and third “From Dusk Till Dawn” pack a 5.1 surround track, but the second “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “Full-Tilt Boogie” are only Stereo 2.0 tracks. Also latestly there are no special features included, if you don’t count “Full-Tilt Boogie”.

Blu-ray Review “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I”

Directed by : Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: Summit
Run Time: 117 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” is the second to last film in the series.  Some people will be rejoiced to have it end and some will be mortified when it is over.  This film is honestly hard to get through, but luckily the last 15 minutes are very cool.  I have a feeling that “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” might be pretty bad ass, now that all the romance is done.  I think that they could have kept “Breaking Dawn” as one movie but I am sure it is mostly for the fans..and to make more money.  This Blu-ray release is going to be a hit for Valentine’s Day, since it is getting released perfectly in time for its fans to enjoy Bella & Edward’s wedding and honeymoon during the holiday.  Die-hard fans will obviously eat up the romance but the casual fans might want to wait till “Part 2” comes around.

If you follow “The Twilight Saga”, this is the movie that you are really waiting for the marriage of Bella and Edward and of course Bella possibly turning into a vampire.  Basically the whole film is just one long honeymoon scene followed by Bella’s pregnancy.  The birth of their child might not be as simple as it sounds as it will break the treaty with the werewolves. The Cullen’s with the help of Jacob will need to protect Bella from the werewolf pack.  But will Bella even survive this supernatural pregnancy? But of course if you read the book you know the answer to this. Also be sure to stick around through the credits to see a sneak peak in the Volturi’s role for “Part 2”.

The Blu-ray presentation is fantastic overall with its video which looks sharp especially during the battle scene at the end. The sound is honestly the best part though of the film boasting its superb 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, very impressive.  The bonus features are packed and will definitely satisfy the most hard core fans.  Firstly you are able to jump immediately to your favorite scenes.  There is the Bella and Edward’s Wedding Video, which is for major fans only.  There is a great audio commentary with director Bill Condon, he really seems to be an actor’s directory and really enjoys the filming experience.  There is a super in depth 6-part “Making Of” series which takes you individually into every aspect of the film from each character to the film’s production.  It is very interesting even for non-fans.

Film Review “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 1”

Starring:  Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner
Directed by:  Bill Condon
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hour 57 mins
Summit Entertainment

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

It would be easy to dismiss the “Twilight” film series as nothing more than a series of chick-flicks with a few monsters thrown in for the guys.  But that would do the films a great injustice.  Yes, they ARE a series of chick-flicks with a few monsters thrown in, but when you get past the romance you have a pretty interesting story.

As the opening credits end, we are met by Jacob (Lautner), angrily running off.  Seems the mailman has brought him an invite to the wedding of the season in rustic Forks, Washington.  Jacob’s best friend, Bella (Stewart) is to be wed to tan-deprived Edward (Pattinson) and he’s not very happy with the news.  Edward himself is reluctant.  Not that he doesn’t love Bella.  It’s just that, for them to have children, it would help if she, too, became a vampire.  Despite several bad omens telling her “no,” Bella and Edward walk down the aisle, then head off on the honeymoon of a lifetime.  (I guess you could say an “after” life time).  But love is not a guarantee of happiness.

The fourth film in the popular series (with a final film coming next year), “TBD-1” is smartly directed by Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters,” “Dreamgirls”) in a straight forward manner that keeps the film from bogging down in its last act.  Helping keep the film moving is the outstanding camera work of cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, who has shot some of Guillermo del Toro’s best work.  The story should be familiar to “Twilight” fans.  Not having read the books I don’t know if this last chapter could have been told in one film.  The final 30 mins are padded with constant shots of a weakened Bella, her swollen belly and intermittent glances from Edward and Jacob.

The cast have obviously become comfortable in their roles, yet are strong enough to not appear lazy.  With not a lot to do towards the end of the film but look worried, Pattinson and Lautner could have easily dialed their performances in.  That they didn’t is a testament to Condon’s direction.  Stewart gets the lion’s share of the dramatics here.  Carrying a demon child can’t be healthy for anyone, but it really takes its toll on Bella.  Highest marks to the make up people who turned the vibrant Stewart into a sickly, emaciated martyr-to-be.  Both male leads are also comfortable in their skins, though it would be nice if Lautner didn’t squint so much.  Speaking of skins, I’m not sure what the over/under was in Vegas but it takes approximately eight seconds into the film before Lautner takes his shirt off.  The supporting cast earns their pay.  It is their story that is the most interesting, especially the blood-sucking Cullen Family.  Perhaps after the next film the producers can focus attention on them and give them their own movie.  Peter Facinelli is strong as the patriarch of the family.  In a recent interview I did with him I commented on how much I always thought he resembled Tom Cruise.  Here, with his coloring and hair, he had me thinking of another vampire: Lestat from “Interview With the Vampire.” And I mean that comparison in a positive way.

The biggest disappointment to me were the visual effects used to create Jacob and his pack when they roam the woods as wolves.  They move very herky/jerky, not gracefully as they should.  It’s like the producers hired the guys that did the dogs on the top of the building in “Ghostbusters” to create the beasts.  If the comments from the fans around me are to be believed, the screenplay is very true to the book.  If you’ve read the books you are aware of the problems Bella deals with while with child.  Parents may want to think twice about bringing their younger Twi-hards or at least anticipate covering their eyes.  And please hang around during the end credits for a quick hint of “Breaking Dawn – Part 2.”

CD Review: Dreams Will Fade “Before The Dawn”

Dreams Will Fade
“Before The Dawn”
Turkey Vulture Records
Producer: Jason Z.
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Before The Dawn” is the debut album from the 5 member Wisconsin based band Dreams Will Fade. The album feature 10 original hard rock tracks produced by Jason Z. “Before The Dawn” is being released via Turkey Vulture records.

“Before The Dawn” was a fairly decent listen as the album had several high lights. I felt the band did a good job of blending melodic vocal lines with heavy riff driven instrumentation. Tracks such as “Before The Dawn”, “Watch You Fall” and “Whatever” were personal highlights and in my opinion and featured some great arrangements and performances. I would have liked the overall mix of the album to be a little more up front and in your face however each track still sounded good.

Dreams Will Fade’s “Before The Dawn” as a whole is a good album. I could have done with a little less screaming as I don’t think it’s the bands strong suit. If you are a fan of bands like Killswitch Engage, Breaking Benjamin and Pierce The Veil then you will definitely want to check out Dreams Will Fade’s debut album.

Track Listing:
• Against a Wall
• Before The Dawn
• Hard To See
• Last Time
• Losing It
• On The Edge
• Pressure
• Swallow
• Watch You Fall
• Whatever

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” Official Trailer


Bella and Edward, plus those they love, must deal with the chain of consequences brought on by a marriage, honeymoon, and the tumultuous birth of a child… which brings an unforeseen and shocking development for Jacob Black.

In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), plus those they love, must deal with the chain of consequences brought on by a marriage, honeymoon, and the tumultuous birth of a child… which brings an unforeseen and shocking development for Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).

With more of the romance, passion, intrigue and action that made Twilight, The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse worldwide blockbusters, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, based on Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling book series, begins the conclusion of the tale of vampire love, boundless friendship, acceptance, and finding your true self.

“Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1” hits theaters November 18th

Interview with Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein is best known for voicing the role of Ahsoka Tano in the TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”.  The show is hitting warp speed and it enters its fourth season this Fall.  Ashley is also the celebrity host, along with James Arnold Taylor, this year at Walt Disney World’s “Star Wars” Weekend.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” with Ashley as well as her hosting for “Star Wars” Weekend and even her own clothing line “Her Universe” which is also inspired by “Star Wars”.

Check back this weekend for an exclusive giveaway of an autographed shirt from Ashley’s ‘Her Universe’ clothing line

Mike Gencarelli: So lets start at the beginning, any idea you will be where you are today when you took the role of Ahsoka Tano in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”?
Ashley Eckstein: [laughs] No, actually I had no idea. I would have called myself more of a casual “Star Wars” fan before I got the “Clone Wars” job. I watched the movies when I was a little kid but it didn’t really go beyond that. I did understand the power of “Star Wars”. I thought knew just how iconic it was. But when I once I was cast on the show. I guess I didn’t quite comprehend JUST how powerful it was and how popular it was worldwide. So, obviously after working on the show and working with Dave Filoni you just become just a hardcore fan. We really have to understand “Star Wars” to be able to do the show. I think in order really to perform our roles to the best we can. Dave really helps us with that. Dave is such a huge “Star Wars” fan. He really knows it all and we get to learn from him. We have been working on the show now close to six year and have really become much more knowledgeable and passionate fans due to that. So I definitely never imagined the position I would be in today and how “Star Wars” has also affected my life and what it means to me. It really has changed my life.

MG: What do you like most about playing Ahsoka ?
AE: I think my favorite part of playing Ahsoka is how powerful of a character she is and a role model for young girls. That has really been a dream come true for me. I worked a lot of the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon before “Clone Wars”, mostly on-camera work. I really fell in love with children and family programming. First hand I saw the impact you can have on a child’s life by doing a children/family show. So, I really tried to gear my career in that direction. “The Clone Wars” came along and I wasn’t even trying for it. Literally, my agent got a call and I was asked to come in and read. So to get the role of Ahsoka who is such a strong and powerful character for young girls to look up to to and to even be a part of it is just such an honor for me. I am not one of these actresses that say I don’t want to be a role model or I never asked for this. I do feel that a child’s role model should be somebody that is in their life on a daily basis. But I also understand that by default as someone in the public eye you are going to be a role model whether you life it or not. So it is something I take very seriously. I want to be a positive influence and through Ahsoka I can do that. I am very honored to be given the opportunity to do that.

MG: Having this character really opened up the “Star Wars” franchise to a more female audience, can you reflect on that for us?
AE: When I was growing up, I was a bit of a tom-boy. The only girl on the baseball team. I didn’t want to wear a dress. Had my hat on backwards [laughs]. Having a character like Ahsoka, I wish I would have had Ahsoka to look up to. Not every girl wants to be a princess or wear a dress. Some girls want to carry a lightsaber and pretend to be a jedi. I think it is really cool to have her character. “The Clone Wars” has kind of become the watercooler show for kids on the playground. Whether you like “Star Wars” or not, it is the show that everyone talks about. Even the girls are starting to watch it just so they are in the know. Now when the kids play it on the playground, the girls have someone they can be. They do not have to pretend to be Anakin, Captain Rex or Obi-Wan. I have so many little girls coming up to be saying “Yeah I am Ahsoka and my brother is Anakin and we play “Clone Wars” all the time”. I think that is so cool that their is a character that the girls can be. Not even just Ahsoka, there is Asajj Ventress, Padmé Amidala, Sha’ak Ti and just so many powerful females in “The Clone Wars”.

MG: What has been your favorite part of hosting Star Wars Weekend in Walt Disney Resort this year?
AE: I think it is the ability to interact with the fans, especially the kids. “The Clone Wars” sort of introduced “Star Wars” to a new generation. It is funny because “Star Wars” is the “The Clone Wars” to many kids today. Many kids haven’t seen the other movies yet. They have only seen “The Clone Wars. To have that impact on a new generation of kids to me…I can’t even fantom it. To see some of the expressions from their faces and I get a chance to meet them. It has really been an honor [laughs], I really don’t have another word for it.

MG: Tell us about your show you are hosting “Behind the Force”?
AE: Of course, I think it is a fun show. “Behind the Force” takes you on a behind the scenes look at our job as voice over artists and recording the show. The first part of the show we have a special guest, in our upcoming last weekend we have Tom Kane, who is the voice of Yoda, the narrator of the show and many others from the show. So we introduce our audience to him and I ask him a couple of questions and then our audience get a chance to ask him some questions as well. Then we go into a live demonstration of us going into the studio recording an episode. Then we audition people from our audience to be an honorary cast member of “The Clone Wars”. The person that is chosen gets to come up on stage and do a scene live with us on stage. It is really exciting and puts the audience in the studio with us and get a chance to see what it is like.

MG: How many times have you rode the new “Star Tours” this month since its opening?
AE: That is a great question [laughing]. I think I have rode it eight or nine times…I think nine times by now. It is such an amazing ride. They did such a fantastic job on it and it is almost like a completely new ride. They revamped the entire thing. I also got to do a series of videos with Disney showing the behind the scenes look on the making of Star Tours. It just awesome. If you ride with me the chances are you will get Hoth [laughs], that is the one planet I keep getting over and over. I have only gotten Naboo twice and to me that is definitely my favorite. I even got picked as the secret spy one time, which was fun.

MG: Tell us about your “Star Wars” inspired clothing line, Her Universe?
AE: Thanks for asking about that. I created Her Universe and we launched about a year ago this June. It is the first “Star Wars” / sci-fi line JUST for women. We are only for the female fans. Close to half of all sci-fi and “Star Wars” fans are women. “Star Wars” is the story of hope and that transcends gender. I got the idea a little over three year ago. Actually when I first got cast for “Clone Wars”, I did a search for merchandise for women because I wanted to buy stuff. But I really came up empty handed. I was able to find one shirt and the rest was either on backorder or sold out. There was very little for women and NOTHING for little girls. It just didn’t make sense to me. I go to all the events and “Star Wars” weekends and there are women everywhere. I was thinking “Why are you giving us nothing to buy when 85% of the consumer market is women?” I have to give LucasFilm credit because they were the first company to give me a shot. They really want to recognize their female fans. They gave me the license and trusted me [laughs]. I have always been into fashion decision, so they trusted me to design clothes and accessories for the female fans. So I am really excited about that. Disney, again, I have to give them credit that they gave us the opportunity to sell it during “Star Wars” Weekends and we have been selling five different shirts in the merchandise tent, Jabba’s Hut. I have been doing signings there also every day. It has been great. One more thing, I have to thank SyFy because we just closed a deal with them and starting in July we are coming out with SyFy merchandise for the brand and also its properties. We are starting with “Battlestar Galactica” and “Warehouse 13”.

MG: What can we expect from season 4 in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” this Fall?
AE: Sure, I can definitely tell you it is actually called Season 4: Battle Lines. It is going to take you right into the heart of the battles of the Clone Wars. They have been going on for over two years now. The war is really taking its toll on its characters. There are going to be epic battles that are going to be bigger than anything we have seen to date on the series. There is also the return of some classic characters from the “Star Wars” movies including some bad guys but also some good guys. So also look for that trend to continue and look for some really epic battles. They are really raising the bar.