Blu-ray Review “Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV”

Director: Takeshi Nozue
Starring: Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, Sean Bean, Jon Campling, Adrian Bouchet, Will Bowden
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 4, 2016
Run Time: 115 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of “Final Fantasy” and its last film “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children”. It is a visual marvel that still blows me away each time I watch it.  With “Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV”, I found myself just struggling to stay awake while watching. It is slow moving, all over the place and very hard to follow. The story feels like a tangled web and the characters are so similar that I literally had a hard time tracking who was who. I might not be the target audience of this film since I am not really anticipating the new upcoming game “Final Fantasy XV”.  When it comes to  the films technical aspects it is quite impressive. It looks great and when the action kicks in it is epic but it doesn’t kick in enough to make it worth wild.

Official Premise: The magical kingdom of Lucis is home to the sacred Crystal, and the menacing empire of Niflheim is determined to steal it. King Regis of Lucis (Sean Bean) commands an elite force of soldiers called the Kingsglaive. Wielding their king’s magic, Nyx (Aaron Paul) and his fellow soldiers fight to protect Lucis. As the overwhelming military might of the empire bears down, King Regis is faced with an impossible ultimatum – to marry his son, Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (Lena Headey), captive of Niflheim, and surrender his lands to the empire’s rule. Although the king concedes, it becomes clear that the empire will stop at nothing to achieve their devious goals, with only the Kingsglaive standing between them and world domination.

Easily best part of this film is its technical merits. The 1080p transfer looks outstanding. The fully digital animated feature just looks beautiful. The fight scenes when they are present are breathtaking. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is also a high note delivering its action to an epic level, unfortunately it doesn’t last long. The special features are lacking like the film. There are four short featurettes included. “A Way with Words: Epic and Intimate Vocals” has the voice cast discussing the film and their character. “To Capture the Kingsglaive: The Process”  looks into the motion capture technology used here. “Fit for the Kingsglaive: Building the World” focuses on the design and environment (in Japanese with English subtitles). The last is a piece of the films score “Emotive Music: Scoring The Kingsglaive” by John R. Graham.

DVD Review “The League: Final Fantasy”

Cast: Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas
Format: DVD
Rating: Not Rated
Number of Discs: 2
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: TV Series

Season: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Let’s start with the fact that I am not a fan of football, fantasy football or sports in general, so right off the bat this show didn’t really call out to me. What I can appreciate though is a great cast including Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, who are some of my favorite comedy actors, as well as Katie Aselton and Jason Mantzoukas. There is a whole lot of talent here that makes this show worth checking out for sure. Unfortunately this is the last season but the show has a great run on FX with seven seasons. Whether you are just finding out about this show or a hardcore fan, it’s worth checking out.

If you aren’t familiar with the show here is a series premise: A partially scripted comedy which follows the lives of six men who belong to a fantasy football league. The men take their contest extremely seriously and often will do anything to gain an advantage or win at any cost. Their obsession with fantasy football bleeds into other activities of their daily lives, affecting their jobs and families. A variety of colorful characters from the local community, from local business owners to a homeless man, get caught up in this zany world of fantasy sports.

Here is a season premise: Huddle up for the final outrageously funny season of the fantasy football comedy that’s always out of bounds. This year, the scheming smack-talkers find themselves embroiled in a string of scandals, kicking off when Pete discovers that his ex-wife Meegan is sleeping with a fellow league member. Next up, Taco flies into the drone zone, Kevin and Pete play chicken with their private parts, Jenny gets slot-shamed and Rafi hooks up with a watermelon. From blind-spot shenanigans to fake-book deflategate, Season Seven hits a highpoint by sinking to new lows.

The first disc includes the following episodes season 7: “Other Draft, The”; “Draft of Innocence, The”; “Blind Spot, The”; “Deflategate”; “Bully, The”; “Beer Mile, The”; and “Trophy Kevin”. There are also some Deleted Scenes included on here as well. Disc 2 includes the following episdoes “Last Temptation of Andre, The”; “Yank Banker, The”; “Block, The”; “Adios y Bienvenidos”; “13 Stages of Grief, The”; and “Great Night of Shiva, The”. Lastly there are also more Deleted Scenes on this disc as well as a Gag Reel, Alt Nation and Taco Tones for fans of the series.

Concert Review “Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY”

Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY
Mahaffey Theater
Saint Petersburg, FL

I feel that Arnie Roth outdid himself with this show. I’ve seen another show that he produced and I liked this one even better. Every show is a little different. As they have over 300 songs to choose from over the Final Fantasy series, there is always a different selection. Some staples are at every show, though, with things such as the Prelude. You just can’t start a Final Fantasy show without that one.

This is a combination show. There is a live orchestra with a live chorus. The music is performed in time with a pre-recorded video showing clips of various Final Fantasy games. For example, if you’re listening to Final Fantasy VII music, you will see clips from the games as well as from the Advent Children movie. So, there isn’t much else to say about this show, because you just have to go yourself. I wanted them to keep right on playing when it was over. I can’t wait until the show is in town again. Go get your tickets. GO!

Nintendo 3DS Review “Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy – Curtain Call”

Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Rated: Teen
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

If you consider yourself a “Final Fantasy”, then you should be very familiar with the music from the franchise. “Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy – Curtain Call” is the sequel to the Theatrythm: Final Fantasy” released in 2012. This game builds a lot from the first game. There are new gameplay modes, over 200 songs and 60 playable characters. If you are unfamiliar with the game, it is a tap along rhythm with stylized characters battles and quests. This game is a vast improvement over the first game and is jam-packed with so much content for all “Final Fantasy” fans.

If you enjoy “Final Fantasy” included here are songs and characters from many new releases including “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII” and “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” and classic fan favorites such as “Final Fantasy Tactics and “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children”. Ever since I played “Final Fantasy” on the original Nintendo NES, I knew that I was in love with this music. Over the years, that love has only grown. Personally, I was growing old with the rhythm tapping games, but this really revamped my interest as this blends the aspects of an RPG so well, making this a blast to play.

The all-new modes include a Versus Mode, where you can go head-to-head along with Quest Mode, where players customize a party of their favorite characters to take across fields and into dungeons for music-based battles against series bosses and Classic Battle Mode from the first game. You can also unlock “Final Fantasy: Gather Rhythmia” to uncover new characters, songs, and collectible cards, which can be used in the all new Collecta Crystarium to power up your characters’ stats.

Thanks to Square Enix for sending us this game since it is was a real blast to check out. I have a feeling that I will be enjoying this game for months to come. The 3D aspect for me was always turned on since it brought a lot of the game itself and made the look great. The only issue I had was the lack of support to us left handed people since it definitely would come much easier to all right handed players. I would like to see where they can take this franchise yet since hopefully this is only the beginning for them.

Arnie Roth discusses upcoming concert tour “A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy”

Arnie Roth is a classically trained violinist and composer. He is known well in the video game community for his work as the musical director and conductor on concert tours like “Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy” and many others from the “Final Fantasy” series. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Arnie about the upcoming new concert tour “A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy” and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us what we can expect from “A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy” concert?
Arnie Roth: This concert will have almost entirely different music titles from the Distant Worlds concert repertoire. The scores have been drawn from throughout the 25 years of Final Fantasy releases, with the decision made in consultation between myself, Nobuo Uematsu, SQEX, and our AWR Music Productions team. We especially tried to feature many of the most popular scores that we have not performed in the Distant Worlds concerts. Most importantly, this is a chamber music performance, meant to be enjoyed in an intimate setting and a superb acoustically designed space, such as LSO St Lukes. We are fortunate to have superb performers with us for this premiere, including the highly regarded Navarra String Quartet, the wonderful pianist known for his work with the music of Uematsu and Final Fantasy, Benyamin Nuss, and we will also feature Nobuo Uematsu and myself in a live performance of Final Fantasy VI: Dark World.

MG: How it will differ from the “Distant Worlds” tour?
AR: I have mentioned some of the differences above. The most obvious difference is certainly the scale of the event, as Distant Worlds features over 100 musicians on stage with video screens, performed in much larger venues. A New World: intimate music from Final Fantasy is an intimate chamber music concert, without video content, featuring exciting new arrangements and repertoire from throughout the Final Fantasy catalogue, presented in a much smaller venue, with 13 musicians.

MG: Do you have any plans to expand the “A New World” concert, perhaps a tour, after London?
AR: We hope to be able to make announcements about this subject very soon.

MG: Any chances you will make it back to Florida in 2014? May I suggest Orlando?
AR: We are in discussions for Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy performances in several locations in Florida. Your suggestion is duly noted!

Book Review “Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook: Models, Artwork and Memories from 65 Years of Filmmaking”

Author(s): Ray Harryhausen, Tony Dalton
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Aurum Press
Release Date: May 1, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Ray Harryhausen is such a legend and the creator of so many film special effects that were pre-CGI. Some of the classic films he is known for are “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”, “Clash of the Titans”, “Jason and the Argonauts” and “One Million Years BC”. This book is a must for Harryhausen fans. More importantly this book is authored by Harryhausen himself, so you know that it is the most accurate and up close and personal information available. It is co-authored by Tony Dalton, who has known Ray for more than 30 years. He worked on the publicity for such iconic films such as “The Omen”, “Star Wars”, and “The Towering Inferno”. To sum up, if you are looking for a rare look into Harryhausen work, then look no further than this book.

Showcased in this book are some really amazing never-before-seen film artifacts, which were recently discovered in a garage in Los Angeles. The aspect of this books that I enjoyed the most are various outtake prints from his films, early concept drawings and storyboards.  There is also a lot of personal artifacts such as written letters, production budgets, and even a diary which describes Ray’s first meeting with his mentor Willis O’Brien.  I am fan of production art and there is some really cool publicity posters and rare brochures included also.  A lot of the images included are kind-of raw and provide a unique look into this amazing era of filmmaking. It also covers all of the films that he worked on and even from some projects which where never made like Harryhausen’s version of “War of the Worlds”. I could imagined that film would have been awesome.

Since this is formed in nature of a scrapbook, it really creates an amazing visual journey. The book is setup so beautifully that it is hard to turn the page. Each page feels like a work of art and a lot of love has gone into each one. The images are also extremely vibrant and colorful. If you are a fan of these films you will really jump at the chance to get an inside look into some of these productions whether it is rare pages from the scripts and productions. Also to top off this amazing book is an amazing foreword from writer/director John Landis.  Kudos to Aurum Press on releasing another impressive book covering the work of Harryhausen.