Book Review “The Avengers Storybook Collection”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Storybook Collection
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Marvel Press
Release Date: March 31, 2015

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I wish I had a book like this when I was a kid. “The Avengers Storybook Collection” is a must have for any parent with young boys or even young fan girls for that matter! There is nothing like getting ready a story filled with heroism, adventure and action just before going to slip. These stories are fun, exciting and feature some of our favorite Marvel superheroes. Even though, my daughter is a little young for this one, she still loves it and already came name every character on the cover!

Official Premise: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Falcon are Earth’s Mightiest Marvels-the Avengers! Join them as they work together to battle against sinister Super Villains such as Ultron, Thanos, the Masters of Evil,and more, to keep the Earth safe. Featuring 20 explosive stories of good vs. evil. Avengers assemble!

Let’s hope that this Storybook Collection is the first of many. There are literally an infinite collection of characters that they can include in future collections. This one has 20 stories included with all of the favorites like Iron Man and Captain America but I would love to be able to introduce my daughter to some of the lesser known characters as well. They could even do a female superhero only book OOHHHH OOHHHH or even better a villains only book. Who wouldn’t want to read a new story featuring everyone’s favorite Avenger villain, Loki! Fingers crossed!

Film Review “Earth to Echo”

Starring: Teo Halm, Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley and Reese C. Hartwig
Directed By: Dave Green
Rated: PG
Running Time: 89 minutes
Relativity Media

Our Score: 2 out of 5 Stars

While “Earth to Echo” looks like a live action “WALL-E” mixed with the nostalgia of “E.T.”, it’s actually more like a “Goonies” for today’s youth. Regardless of what child’s science fiction movie or Steven Spielberg classic I throw at you in an attempt to convey what this movie should be, instead I come bearing bad news. “Earth to Echo” may have good intentions, but instead it fries its circuits on a misguided narrative and a plot trimmed down to the bare bones.

I may not have had high expectations before sitting down in the theater, but within the first five minutes, I really wanted to like this movie. “Earth to Echo” introduces us to a trio of best friends, with no backstory as to why they’re best friends. There’s Alex (Halm), the minimalist with an underlying layer of sincerity to everything he says. There’s also the social media junkie Tuck (Bradley), who’s hungry for an adventure he can record for his handful of Youtube viewers. Then there’s the most likable character of the youthful trinity, Munch (Hartwig). He plays the unpopular nerd that carries some of the movies more comical and heartfelt moments.

These three are getting ready to part ways because their neighborhood is about to be torn down by an evil construction project. A conflict so undeveloped, that when it shows up, you don’t have to be an engineer to see the design flaw in demolishing an entire neighborhood to build this silly looking monstrosity. Instead of selling their home and moving to another area in suburban Nevada, their parents are moving to nearly opposite ends of the country, which will surely crumble the foundation of their friendship. Surely…

But before the big move, their cellphones start receiving bizarre images, or as they put it, their phone is “barfing”. A quick Internet search leads them to plan out a night bike ride to the middle of the desert in the hopes of finding…something; anything really. In the desolate Nevada land they find a robotic alien that they name Echo. Through a series of “Yes” or “No” beeps, it tells them it was shot down, and that the evil construction company was the one that pulled the trigger and is now searching for it. What follows is a series of obstacles lacking tension and on the whole, an unfocused story.

If it wasn’t for the fine acting by the child actors, this movie would have tripped at the start line and barely survived off the fumes of other inventive movies before it. The advertising for this movie seems to be heavily focused on the pint sized electronic alien, while the movie itself seems more focused on our three human heroes. If anything, Echo is simply a metaphor for the movie’s plot instead of an actual character. This implies to me that the studio and creators definitely had different paths they wanted to take this movie on.

The movie writers (Henry Gayden and Andrew Panay) weren’t clever enough to evolve Echo more symbolically in the narrative. Instead of evoking more thoughtful “coming of age” and “friendship never dies” feelings, Echo seems to be misplaced as the cute, squeaky robot your kids will fall in love with. There are inklings of a greater idea at work towards the end when it’s finally time for Echo to head home, but that awe filled moment is short lived in a journey of similar and predictable misadventures. I can’t fault a movie too much considering it’s a safe bet for families and an enjoyable romp for kids, but you’ll definitely be thinking about better movies you could have watched instead.

Enter to Win an “Earth to Echo” Official Prize Pack [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Earth to Echo”, opening in theaters nationwide on July 2, 2014, Media Mikes is excited an amazing prize pack for the film (see below for details). If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite family/sci-fi film. This giveaway will remain open until July 11th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada 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

The prize pack will include the following items:
Schwinn BluTunes bicycle speakers
Frisbee (branded)
Mini Fan (branded)
Tank Top (branded)
Beach Ball (branded)
Sticker Set (branded)
Beach Towel (branded)
Bicycle Clip (branded)
Invisible Ink Pen (branded)
Projector Pen (branded)
Mini EARTH TO ECHO Poster
$25 Fandango Gift Card

Synopsis: In Relativity’s PG summer family adventure movie, Tuck, Munch and Alex are a trio of inseparable friends whose lives are about to change. Their neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project that is forcing their families to move away. But just two days before they must part ways, the boys begin receiving a strange series of signals on their phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they team up with another school friend, Emma, and set out to look for the source of their phone signals. What they discover is something beyond their wildest imaginations: a small alien who has become stranded on Earth. In need of their help, the four friends come together to protect the alien and help him find his way home. This journey, full of wonder and adventure, is their story, and their secret.

Blu-ray Review “After Earth”

Actors: Jaden Smith, David Denman, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoë Kravitz
Directors: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Run Time: 100 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Poor M. Night Shyamalan. This guy really has targets on his head in Hollywood…though it is actually not 100% unwarranted. The guys has had a few great films with “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs”. But his recent films like “Lady in the Water” and “The Last Airbender” were downright terrible. When his name is attached to a project people are at a point where they don’t even give it a chance. I remember when I saw a trailer for “Devil”, which he produced and they showed his name after a pretty promising trailer and a few different people in the audience screaming “NOOO”. That is how I felt when I saw the trailer for “After Earth” for the first time.

“After Earth” is a very interesting film, at least from the trailer. It packs a great father and son duo, Will and Jaden Smith. It packs some impressive visuals but overall in terms of story it is not very focused and loses your attention pretty quickly. Even though I haven’t been a fan of Shyamalan’s films, I came into this one with a relatively open mind and just focuses on the Smith’s and I enjoyed the film but I know that it is what I call a “one-timer” and will not be running around recommended this. Sci-Fi junkies will enjoy but other than that will not reach others.

Official Premise: A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help, facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash. Father and son must learn to work together and trust one another, if they want any chance of returning home.

In terms of Blu-ray delivery and despite how great the film is, Sony really delivered an AMAZING Blu-ray presentation. It is being released as a two disc combo pack with a Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy. For this release “After Earth” has been mastered in 4K with “Maximum Picture and Expanded Color” and the 1080p transfer looks stunning. I was surprised that along with the 4K video that they didn’t opt for a 7.1 track but the included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track really nails the action well and sounds pretty awesome as well.

In terms of special features, I have to admit I felt a bit let down as well. I would have loved to have had a commentary track included. “A Father’s Legacy” talks about the father/son relationship between Will and Jaden in and out of the film. “Building a World” is a short look into creating the setting for this film’s future. There are a bunch of scenes with omputer animation pre-visualizations in “Pre-Visualizing the Future”. “The Animatics of After Earth” focuses on the animatics used in the film. “1000 Years in 300 Seconds” is a super fast behind-the-scene look into the production. “The Nature of the Future” is a location based feature looking at Costa Rica, California, and Utah where the film was shot. Lastly “XPrize After Earth Challenge” is a short chat on how to save the planet.

Film Review “After Earth”

Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith and Sophie Okenedo
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 40 mins
Columbia

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

For some reason Hollywood has been enamored of light about films dealing with the end of life on Earth as we know it. Earlier this year we had “Oblivion.” Later this summer we’ll get “Elysium.” And this week we get Big Willie and his little boy in “After Earth.”

As the story begins we learn that the earth was invaded by an alien life form called Ursas. Unable to see the creatures hunted people down by smelling the pheromones they secreted when they became scared. Things were getting bad when a man named Cypher Raige (Will Smith) showed up. Showing no fear whatsoever he battled the creatures, killing them by the score. A term was coined for what he did – “ghosting.” With no pheromones to detect he was able to move among the Ursas and kill them at will. The Earth was left to its own defenses as the remaining members of the human race moved to a new home, called Nova Prime. It is hear that Raige’s son, Kitai (Jaden Smith) is training hard to be a cadet, to one day follow his father. Kitai also has a secret that haunts him. When he was younger and home with his older sister (Zoe Kravitz, Lenny’s daughter) an Ursa attacked. As Kitai stayed safe in a protective dome that blocked his pheromones from being detected, sis ventured out, believing that, like her father, she could “ghost.” She couldn’t. Hoping to reconnect with his family, Cypher informs them that he is set to retire. After one more mission.

Visually impressive but sadly incredulous, “After Earth” is only redeemed by the performances of the Smith family. Jaden, who made a strong screen debut opposite his pop in “The Pursuit of Happyness” and starred in the successful remake of “The Karate Kid” has grown not only as a young man but as an actor. The plot involves the two to basically act alone – Cypher is injured in a crash and must remain in the damaged ship while Kitai is given the task of traveling on foot to retrieve a rescue beacon. Smith senior gives a very emotional performance, made even stronger by the fact that he’s basically sitting in a chair for the majority of the film. On the other side of the spectrum, Jaden runs, jumps and battles everything from a rogue pack of primates to a pride of lions to a giant bird. The visual effects are strong, especially during interactions with the various animals.

M. Night Shyamalan has always been a competent filmmaker, despite his penchant to put “twist” endings on many of his films. No such thing here which is somewhat of a relief. However, there are still other hints of Shyamalan in the film, beginning with the confusing state of Cypher’s rank. He’s referred to as anything from General to Prime Leader to Colonel (apparently making a movie with your son can get you busted down in rank). The film is also full of some intense lines, like “Danger is Real…Fear is a choice!” At night the temperature on Earth falls to glacier epics, freezing everything in its path. However, the next day everything is green again. And even though the Ursa is highly deadly, it is guarded on board ship by the Keystone Cops, the kind who all huddle with the monster, surely must wonder how the cloth shower curtains at the entrance of its compartment are keeping them safe from being eaten. Or not.

Again, if you like the Smith’s and want to see a couple of good performances, then take an hour and a half to check out “After Earth.” If not…”Star Trek: Into Darkness” is probably playing next door.

Book Review “After Earth: United Ranger Corps Survival Manual”

Author: Robert Greenberger
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: May 21, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to M. Night Shyamalan, I think we all have had our share of his twist-filled films.  “After Earth” looks original and pretty interesting. It also starts Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith kicking alien ass.  So I am curious to see it.  When I saw that Insight Edition was releasing “United Ranger Corps Survival Manual” as the companion the film, I was very interested since they did a fantastic job with “The Dark Knight Manual” by Brandon T. Snider last year. This book tries to copy the success of that book but comes up a little short. Still though it is a great companion and definitely has peaked my interest more in seeing this film.  I even have a feeling that after seeing this film, I am going to enjoy this film quite a bit more.

Official Premise: Go beyond After Earth with this unique, in-universe journey into the world of the United Ranger Corps. From the history of the Rangers, to humanity’s exodus from Earth, and the ongoing battle against the Skrel, a fearsome alien race, the United Ranger Corps Survival Manual immerses you in the After Earth universe. Study the secrets of ghosting—the art of singlehandedly slaying the vicious Ursa—and complete your mastery of the cutlass, a Ranger’s greatest weapon, as you discover what it takes to be one of Nova Prime’s elite. Filled with interactive elements, including a schematic of the Ranger base, a complete guide to the highly evolved animals of Earth, and even a handwritten journal entry from Cypher Raige, the United Ranger Corps Survival Manual is the essential companion to the After Earth film.

The manual covers doesn’t just cover the film, they cover the world surrounding the film.  Some of the chapter topics range from “A History of Earth’s Last Days, “Ranger Cadet Training”, “Ranger Uniform and Equipment”, including “Mastering the Cutlass”.  The color tone of the manual is a little drab yet the images are sharp and high quality. Like “The Dark Knight Manual”,  this manual has a few pull out and neat little tricks taking this to a different level than most companion books. I feel that they should have consulted Brandon T. Snider for some tips on how to make it perfect like he did with “The Dark Knight” but it still works. The author of the book is Robert Greenberger, who has worked with DC Comics, Marvel, Starlog and knows his sci-fi, especially from his work with the “Star Trek” franchise. I look forward to further books from him and again another hit from Insight Editions.

3D Blu-ray Review “Escape from Planet Earth”

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson
Director: Cal Brunker
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
3D: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Escape from Planet Earth” is a movie that came out of nowhere and surprisingly did pretty well.  I couldn’t help but relate it back to past alien CGI animated film “Planet 51″. I wasn’t really drawn in by the trailer but I have to admit, I am a sucker for anything science fiction, animated or not. The film really does have an impressive voice cast including Brendan Fraser, Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, William Shatner, Rob Corddry, George Lopez, Craig Robinson, Sofía Vergara and Jane Lynch. I mean there is a really nice wide array of talent here. But when it comes down to it, this is really a kids film and doesn’t really speak to their parents as much as other kids films try to do.  But kids should enjoy it as it is fun, well animated and did I mention it’s in 3D!

Synopsis: The 3D animated family comedy catapults moviegoers to planet Baab where admired astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy, by-the-rules brother, Gary (Rob Corddry), head of mission control at BASA. When BASA’s no-nonsense chief Lena (Jessica Alba) informs the brothers of an SOS from a notoriously dangerous planet, Scorch rejects Gary’s warnings and bounds off for yet another exciting mission. But when Scorch finds himself caught in a fiendish trap set by the evil Shanker (William Shatner) it’s up to scrawny, risk-adverse Gary to do the real rescuing. As the interplanetary stakes rise to new heights, Gary is left to save his brother, his planet, his beloved wife Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker) and their adventure hungry son Kip.

This combo pack release is very impressive.  It includes both 2D and 3D presentations of the film, as well as a DVD and UltraViolet digital copy. The 3D on the film is a lot of fun.  There is some great in your face moments and gags that kids will enjoy. The 1080p transfer looks amazing and the colors is very crisp and sharp. The DTS-HD Master Audio  5.1 track really works with the action and the original music by composer Aaron Zigman. The special features are good and work checking out if you enjoyed the film.  There is an audio commentary with Director Cal Brunker, which might not keep the attention of kids but parent could enjoy. “The Making of Escape From Planet Earth” is a nice behind-the-scenes look at the film. There is a few Alternate Takes and Deleted Scenes included.  Lastly there are several Music Featurettes for musicians Delta Rae, Owl City and Cody Simpson.

Heaven & Earth Signed CDs & Vinyl Giveaway for New Album “Dig” [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

To celebrate the release of Heave & Earth’s latest album “Dig”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway TWO SIGNED CDS and a VINYL of the album. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating what is your favorite Heaven & Earth song? This giveaway will remain open until May 3rd at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all fans of Media Mikes, worldwide!! 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.

Heaven & Earth have just released their official video for the single “No Money, No Love”. The video features performance footage of the band, along with an old Hotel packed with a motley crew of midgets, magicians, and scantily clad temptresses. The video was directed by acclaimed photographer Glen Wexler, who has worked with Van Halen, Black Sabbath, and Michael Jackson.

“No Money, No Love” is featured on the band’s forthcoming studio album ‘Dig’, which is available April 23rd on Quarto Valley Records. The album was produced by Dave Jenkins, who’s worked with everyone from Metallica to Tower of Power – and features special guests Howard Leese (Heart, Paul Rodgers), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), and David Paich (Toto).

The track listing for ‘Dig’ is as follows:
1. Victorious
2. No Money, No Love
3. I Don’t Know What Love Is
4. Man & Machine
5. House of Blues
6. Back in Anger
7. Waiting for the End of The World
8. Sexual Insanity
9. Rock & Roll Does
10. A Day Like Today
11. Good Times
12. Live as One

To stay current on all things Heaven & Earth be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Official Site: www.heavenandearthband.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/officialheavenandearth
Twitter: www.twitter.com/heavenearthband

Blu-ray Review “BBC Earth: Great Barrier Reef”

Directors: James Brickwell & Richard Fitzpatrick
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 9, 2013
Running Time: 185 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

With Earth Day right around the corner, this is the time of the year when I can’t get enough nature documentaries. BBC Earth always puts out the best of the bunch. “Great Barrier Reef” is no different. Also who doesn’t love exploring the ocean. This is something that I have always been fascinated with this topic. What I also love about this film is the length of it. I say when it comes to nature documentaries the longer the better. This one runs over three hours, which is amazing!! The longer the better! Looking for a way to celebrate and support Earth Day? Get ready to into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and look no further?

Official Premise: Stretching a full 2000 kilometers in length and made up of 3000 individual reef systems and hundreds of islands, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is breathtakingly beautiful. Selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981, it is one of the wonders of the natural world. These programs offer a definitive guide to the secrets of the reef — how it was created, how it works, the intricate relationships between its inhabitants and how climate change and other factors might shape its future. Using the latest specialist filming and visual techniques, the series captures the magic of the reef as it has never been seen before.

BBC Home Entertainment delivers a very impressive Blu-ray here but I am surprised that it is Blu-ray only, unlike the other recent release “One Life”. I would have like this to come in a combo pack with a DVD and Ultraviolet digital copy as well. The 1080p/16:9 transfer looks stunning, like I knew it would. You literally are transported into the reef and get to experience this wonders first hand. The audio track, DTS HD Stereo, is good but not overly impressive. It doesn’t disappoint either, so don’t worry. Also unlike “One Life”, this release does not come with any special features. But don’t forget it is also double the length of “One Life”, so you have to weight that factor as well. I would have loved to see a commentary track or some great behind-the-scenes though to be honest.

Blu-ray Review “BBC Earth: One Life”

Narrator: Daniel Craig
Directors: Michael Gunton, Martha Holmes
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Running Time: 85 minutes

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

Before I even start…do you see this cover art? Can you honestly say no to it?  I think not. “One Life” is the latest in nature documentaries from BBC Earth.  It is also one of my recent favorites among the genre.  It was filmed over 3000 days across every continent and in ever habitat.  The film comes narrated by James Bond himself Daniel Craig.  I loved “One Life” because it really tells many different stories and each one is connected with the element of survival. It is very powerful and also dramatic.  I am a big fan of these films and I feel like I have seen them do everything with these nature docs and I will still left saying “How the hell did they film that?” Beautifully shot and very entertaining for the whole family. Nature buffs and fans looking to celebrate Earth Day, this is a great day to do it.

Official Premise: Over the course of five billion years, life on Earth has evolved into the incredible richness and variety we see today. One Life is a celebration of the most brilliant and imaginative stories of survival from the natural world. Cutting-edge cinematic techniques capture unprecedented and astonishingly beautiful chronicles of animal ingenuity. One Life takes us from birth through to the creation of the next generation – then takes us one step further – revealing that, whether we have wings or flippers, eight legs or two, the triumph of life connects us all.

BBC Home Entertainment really delivers an impressive release.  This combo pack comes in a very impressive not only with a Blu-ray of the film but also a DVD and an Ultraviolet digital copy.  The 1080p/16:9 transfer looks actually stunning on Blu-ray.  You see every little detail and the transfer shows all the hard work that was put into filming these stunning situations.  The DTS-HD 5.1 track works perfectly with the documentary and assist in driving the film well and giving Craig’s voice some good weight.  The special features are also quite impressive including a commentary track from the directors Michael Gunton and Martha Holmes. I loved hearing there additional insight and makes for a great repeat viewing.  There is a Behind-the Scenes look and also a Making-of featurette included with some great additional footage.  There are interviews discussing the film and what it took to put together.  Lastly there is a Blu-ray exclusive “Mike Gunton on ‘One Life'”, which has the director chatting about his inspiration and all the work that went into the film.

Disneynature’s Breathtaking Feature “Wings of Life” Lands on Blu-ray® Combo Pack, Digital and on Demand April 16, 2013, in Time for Earth Day

LIFE BLOOMS THIS SPRING WITH DISNEYNATURE

DISNEYNATURE’S BREATHTAKING FEATURE “WINGS OF LIFE” LANDS ON BLU-RAY® COMBO PACK, DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND APRIL 16, 2013, IN TIME FOR EARTH DAY

 BURBANK, Calif. (March 8, 2013) — Spring is in the air—literally—as Disneynature prepares to unveil “Wings of Life,” a spectacular, closer-than-close, high-definition look at the intricate world of butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and bats, and their life-sustaining collaboration with flowers. Directed by Louie Schwartzberg (“America’s Heart & Soul”) and narrated by Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep, “Wings of Life” will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital and On Demand on April 16, 2013—just in time for Earth Day.

“In the chaos and craziness of our day-to-day lives, few of us stop to consider what’s happening behind the scenes in nature that makes our lives possible,” said Streep. “This film is a stunning adventure that literally takes flight alongside all kinds of winged creatures—butterflies, bees and bats—each working hard to pollinate our planet.”

Said Schwartzberg, “For me, the joy of doing this film is to be able to explore worlds that humans can’t easily experience—bats sipping nectar in the middle of the desert at night, orchid bees expertly manipulated by a bucket orchid, exotic hummingbirds flying like airborne dancers, and a clustering monarch colony with millions of butterflies. I hope to share the spectacle of nature and to spark in others the sense of wonder I have about the natural world.”

Employing multiple cameras, both time-lapse and high-speed cinematography and extraordinary patience (while nature took its time unfolding), filmmakers shot on location in more than a dozen areas, ranging from the El Rosario Preserve in Michoacán, Mexico, to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Park in Arizona. “Wings of Life” features extraordinary imagery shot with digital cameras—one capable of frame rates of up to 1500 frames per second, and the use of a pinhole lens, which allowed the cameraman to get within millimeters of an insect subject while retaining a clear view of the background. The resulting imagery—intimate and breathtaking—is brought to life for audiences through spectacular high-definition picture and sound quality.

To celebrate the debut of “Wings of Life,” Disneynature has made a contribution to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) to protect pollinators worldwide. The DWCF has already supported more than 20 projects across North America focused on protecting pollinators and their habitats. Grants have helped conservationists save endangered butterflies, expand habitat for honeybees and educate children about the importance of pollinators and how they can help protect them.

The “Wings of Life” Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a sneak peek at Disneynature’s 2014 big-screen adventure “Bears.” In an epic story of breathtaking scale set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, the film, which is currently in production, follows two mother grizzly bears as they impart life lessons to their impressionable young cubs.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzee, comes Wings of Life — a stunning adventure full of intrigue, drama and mesmerizing beauty. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this intimate and unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers is a celebration of life, as a third of the world’s food supply depends on these incredible — and increasingly threatened — creatures.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg, Wings of Life utilizes riveting high-speed, time lapse and macro filmmaking to showcase in spectacular detail these unsung heroes of our planet.

Blu-ray Review "BBC Earth: Africa – Eye to Eye with the Unknown"

Narrator: David Attenborough
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Run Time: 360 minutes

Series: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Ever since “Planet Earth”, I have been a nature documentary series junkie.  I can’t help it.  BBC releases some of the highest quality programming and consistently as well.  I love “Life” and “Frozen Planet”.  I can never seem to get enough. “Africa” is yet another breathtaking series that not only educates, it also leaves you stunned. The series is Executive Produced once again by “Mike Gunton” and he should be giving numerous awards for this work on these shows. This 6-part series will really takes you through Africa in a way that no documentary series has every shown you. The cinematography is beyond gorgeous and it is blended well and made entertaining as well with their fantastic stories of survival in place on our planet that has the most diverse animal life anywhere on our planet. Be sure not to miss this series!

Official Synopsis: 553 cameras. 100 days on horseback. 6,526 anti-malarial tablets. Just under 50 tons of kit carried. Executive producer and Primetime Emmy-nominee Michael Gunton and his team of dedicated filmmakers utilized all of this and more to bring you Africa. Four years in the making across 27 countries, Africa is the latest landmark Discovery Channel/BBC co-production to combine groundbreaking technology and dedicated filmmaking to produce a view into this mystifying continent as you’ve never seen it before. Narrated by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough, this extraordinary series takes you to epic, never-before-seen locations and captures the incredible new behaviors of the creatures that struggle to survive in a ever-changing continent.

“Africa” is perfectly narrated by the amazing Sir David Attenborough. When this aired on the Discovery Channel they ended up using Forest Whitaker and that is the main reason why I chose not to watch it.  If you are a fan of these series then you should know who Sir David Attenborough is, I wish they kept it the same as the international UK broadcast.  Nonetheless, this Blu-Ray contains the correct narrator like I said and also the original uncut broadcast taking us through Kalahari, Savannah, Congo, Cape, Sahara, and The Future.  Again the Discovery Channel cut out various scenes for commercials, so sad.  When I was a kid, I would have never believe you if you would have told me that I I would enjoy and also learn a lot from a series like this.  But again, they didn’t have amazing product like this when I was a kid.

Let’s get to the high definition 1080p transfer for these episodes. I know I should say more but I really feel that “WOW” really sums it up. Is that enough? Well I can’t say enough great things. The colors are so pristine and the landscapes are perfectly presented and looks crystal clear. Even if you watched this show in HD on the television it is usually only 720p at the most, so this is a real step up and it’s worth the purchase of the Blu-ray alone. BBC Home Entertainment not only delivered perfect video but also perfect audio. This releases comes with a killer DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track. I know mostly it is used for David Attenborough’s narration, which sounds amazing, but if you really listen you can hear the grass bend and the beautiful songs of the river, deserts and of course the animals. Ace job here!

So you think that the amazing episodes are enough to keep you satisfied with this release? Well that’s great if you are because the rest is all topping then.  There are some really great special features included for this release.  There are over 30 minutes of extra exclusive Interviews with Sir David Attenborough, Executive producer Mike Gunton, series producer James Honeyborne and cameramen Martin Colbeck and Richard Matthews. You want behind-the-scenes featurettes? Good, because there is over an hour included as a bonus feature. Each episode has one and they are a fantastic look into this fantastic production. There are a few additional scenes including exclusive unseen footage from the Harenna Forest in Ethiopia also with commentary by director Matthew Wright and director Nick Easton respectively. Lastly there are about five minutes of Outtakes with the BBC Natural History Unit crew.

XBOX 360 Game Review “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth”

Platform: Xbox 360
Studio: Ubisoft
Rated: Teen
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Marvel’s The Avengers”, they are the hottest ticket in not only film this year but also anything having to do with media in general.  So the release of “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth” is not a shock.  The game is a head-to-head fighting game where you can put iconic Marvel superheroes and villains against each other. You can choose from 20 classic Marvel characters, each one that is equipped with four unique superpowers. But this isn’t your typical fighting game you have to use motion to fight and trigger attacks using the Kinect.  But it is met with mostly mixed results.

Like most fighting games there is a wide variety of game modes including Co-op, Campaign, Arcade, Challenges, Versus, and Tournament. Concerning the fighting system, it is decent and definitely not the worst I have ever come across, there is your typical use of Super Attacks, Velocity Boost, Breaker, or Frenzy to battle your  opponents. On the plus side that didn’t make it a total bust for me, there is tons of extras to unlock as you go through the battles like unlocking unique outfits and collector cards.

The character line-up avaialble for “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth” is Black Widow, Captain America, Doctor Doom, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Iceman, Iron Man, Loki, Magneto, Phoenix, Queen Veranke, Scarlet Witch, Spider Man, Storm, Super Skrull, The Hulk, Thor, Venom and Wolverine.

I did enjoy getting a chance to control both the heroes and villains of the Marvel universe using my movements but it did get a little tiring.  The capturing of my movement was also quite accurate. The graphics are also quite impressive with some sharp shading. I mean it is not super high-def but I feel that that was the angle that they were going for, more of a comic book look and not so polished.  In the end, this will surely be loved by energetic kids under the age of 12.   Adults might enjoy playing but will most likely loose interest after a short while.

Product Description: “Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth” is the ultimate superhero brawler. It features 20 different characters, including Avengers such as Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor, as well as other fan-favorite Super Heroes and Super Villains from the Marvel Universe. Players will use motion gameplay to execute explosive super attacks, unleash devastating special moves and play with friends or against the AI in a wide variety of game modes.

Full Character Lineup Revealed for “Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth”

Ubisoft revealed the full lineup of Super Heroes and Super Villains for Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth and key art created by Marvel Comics artist Stefano Caselli.  Fans will get to play as 20 different Marvel characters including:


1. Black Widow
2. Captain America
3. Doctor Doom
4. Dr. Strange
5. Hawkeye
6. Human Torch
7. Iceman
8. Iron Man
9. Loki
10. Magneto
11. Phoenix
12. Queen Veranke
13. Scarlet Witch
14. Spider Man
15. Storm
16. Super Skrull
17. The Hulk
18. Thor
19. Venom
20. Wolverine

About Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth:
Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth is the ultimate super hero brawler set in authentic comic book-style art environments based on the iconic Secret Invasion storyline. Battle for Earth provides endless entertainment through a variety of gameplay modes including co-op, campaign, arcade, challenges, versus and tournament. Fans will enjoy embodying their favorite Marvel super heroes or villains within the game including Avengers Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Loki.

Developed by Ubisoft Quebec, Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth will be released in North America on Kinect for Xbox 360 on October 30th and Nintendo’s Wii U system this Holiday.

For more information on Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth, please visit: http://AvengersBattleforEarth.com

Blu-ray Review “Nazis at the Center of the Earth”

Directed by: Joseph Lawson
Starring: Dominique Swain, Jake Busey, Josh Allen, Christopher Karl Johnson
Distributed by: The Asylum Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 24, 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 90 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

With a title like “Nazis at the Center of the Earth”, how can you obviously not be attracted to this film. Throw in zombie Nazis and a robot Hitler and you are in for a real treat. The Asylum is known for these low-budget gems. This film is made with a smirky grin and is one hell of a great time. The special effects are not bad for a film made for under $500K and do I need to repeat there is a robot Hitler in this film. If that doesn’t make you laugh and drawn to this film then this is not for you obviously.

The film follows a group of researchers in Antarctica who fall through the center of the earth and are abducted by a platoon of gas-masked Nazi soldiers. They find that in this hidden continent in the center of the Earth, they discover that Josef Mengele and group of surviving Nazi soldiers are plotting the return of Hitler using advance technology.  They are also planning the invasion of Earth in a UFO spaceship in order to create a Fourth Reich. Sounds fun right?

The Blu-ray looks and sounds great for this low-budget film. The 1080p transfer looks sharp, clear and works well with the film’s visual effects and action scenes. The audio works well with its Dolby Digital 5.1 track and rocks it with the action scenes. I commend Asylum for continuously releasing their films on Blu-ray and really embracing the format even though the film’s are low-budget.

The special features are also decent like the film. There is an audio commentary from Joseph Lawson. It is very entertaining and a real treat. Must listen for fans of the film. There is a brief featurette about the film’s Pre-Production featuring cast and crew interviews. There is a another feature called “Cast & Locations” which focuses on the shooting locations. There is a featurette on the film’s Production looking into the special effects used in the film. Lastly there is a funny Gag Reel and additional trailers for titles from The Asylum.