CD Review: Brendon Small’s “Galaktikon II: Become The Storm”

“Galaktikon II: Become The Storm”
Brendon Small
Megaforce Records
Producer: Brendon Small/Ulrich Wild
Tracks: 11

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Dethklok mastermind Brendon Small returns with part two of his interstellar space saga titled “Galaktikon II: Become the Storm”. Continuing on with the space-age themes of 2012’s original “Galaktikon” album, “Become the Storm” is a heavier, darker and more brutal sound. In addition to Brendon Small and Grammy-nominated producer/engineer Ulrich Wild “Galaktikon II: Become The Storm” features the distinct rhythmic powers of drum legend Gene Hoglan and bassist extraordinaire Bryan Beller. With uncapped time and creativity on their side, the aforementioned artists have created a heavy metal opus that Dethklok fanatics will covet and newcomers will add to the top of their playlists.

After a five year wait fans of Dethklok creator Brendon Small have something new to fill their ear holes. “Galaktikon II: Become the Storm” instantly pickups up where the albums predecessor left off. From the thunderous attack of the opening track “Some Days Are For Dying” to the hauntingly eerie “The Ocean Galaktik” which features Small’s departure from his signature gritty growls to an almost crooning like style which certainly adds to the tracks uniqueness. Closing out the album were probably my two favourite tracks from the release. “Could This Be The End” is a blending of heavy metal styles which almost sums up the creators musical range in one singular track and the instrumental “Rebuilding A Planet” which is very much in the progressive style of Steve Vai or Joe Satriani but with Small’s own unique approach making for a really enjoyable listen.

“Galaktikon II: Become the Storm” is a fitting follow-up to its predecessor. The album contains ample amounts of signature Small and his assembled crew of musicians as they traverse deeper into the “Galaktikon” universe. You never know where the next track will take you as it twists and turns over the fictional universe which makes for an exciting listen defiantly worth checking out.

Track Listing:
1.) Some Days Are For Dying
2.) Icarus Six Sixty Six
3.) The Agenda
4.) The Ocean Galaktik
5.) My Name Is Murder
6.) Become The Storm
7.) Nightmare
8.) Could This Be The End
9.) To Kill A God
10.) Exitus
11.) Rebuilding A Planet

CD Review: Doyle II “As We Die”

II“As We Die”
Doyle
Monsterman Records
Tracks: 13

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

Former Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein is back with a brand new full-length solo album titled II”As We Die”. The album which was initially recorded during the “Abominator” sessions will be the second release from Doyle via his Monsterman Records and once again features Cancerslug’s Alex “Wolfman” Story handling vocal duties over the course of the albums 13 macabre tracks.

Over the course of the last few years Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein or Doyle for short has been on a relentless pace of record, tour and repeat. Throw in a handful of Misfit reunion shows as well and it makes you wonder when the band has had time to sleep let alone put together another full length release. II “As We Die” is the second portion of what was intended to be a double album. Originally recorded during the sessions for “Abominator”, II “As We Die” is the result of those sessions amassing an impressive amount of quality material that the band felt warranted two separate releases. I couldn’t have agreed more with the decision as where “Abominator” sets the stage, II “As We Die” solidifies the band’s sound with darker subject matter and even heavier instrumentation than its predecessor. Tracks such as “Beast Like Me” and “King of the Undead” blast out of the gate kicking and screaming with a bombastic amount of force and energy while tracks like “Darkside” and “Virgin Sacrifice” are reminiscent of Michael Graves era Misfits giving the album an eerie since of familiarity while remaining new and fresh. Though I found the guitar hooks to be less prominent this time around Doyle’s latest offering is still everything you would expect from the annihilator wielding beast.

Track Listing:
1.) Kiss Me As We Die
2.) Beast Like Me
3.) God of Flies
4.) Run For Your Life
5.) Darkside
6.) Witchcraft
7.) King of the Undead
8.) Virgin Sacrifice
9.) We Belong Dead
10.) Show No Mercy
11.) Dark Gods Arise
12.) Blood on the Axes
13.) Night of Sin

CD Review: Zakk Wylde “Book of Shadows II”

“Book of Shadows II”

Zakk Wylde
eOne Music
Tracks: 14

Our Score: 4 out 5 stars

Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde is back with the second installment of his acoustic fueled fret board wizardry “Book of Shadows II”. Stripped down and incredibly raw the new album not only picks up where the previous 1996 album “Book of Shadows” left off but the former Ozzy Osbourne axe man shows immense growth as an artist while forging new ground with his signature blend of doom crew infused melodic shred.

Don’t let the fact that “Book of Shadows II” showcases the softer side of the berserker as each of the 14 tracks that make up this release are signature Zakk Wylde through and through. Yes missing are the signature laser like pinch harmonics and the thunderous dirge Wylde is most closely associated with however, what the album lacks in ferocity it makes up for it by creating its own unique power through impressive vocal and instrumental performances. Tracks like “Tears In December” and “Darkest Hour” strike deep as they overflow with emotion while tracks like “Lost Prayer” and ”Sleeping Dogs” feature upbeat rythms and bluesy instrumentation giving the album a solid balance.

For long time fans of Zakk dating back to the old “Pride and Glory” days this is a no brainer to pick up as it will be right at home with Wylde’s subsequent releases. For newer fans it’s just as equally worth checking out but be sure to also check out Zakk’s electric work before hand as it will only make you appreciate the range and musicianship found on “Book of Shadows II” that much more.

Track Listing:
1.) Autumn Changes
2.) Tears of December
3.) Lay Me Down
4.) Lost Prayer
5.) Darkest Hour
6.) The Levee
7.) Eyes of Burden
8.) Forgotten Memory
9.) Yesterday’s Tears
10.) Harbors of Pity
11.) Sorrowed Regrets
12.) Useless Apologies
13.) Sleeping Dogs
14.) The King

Concert Review: Bermuda’s “Marcho Man Tour Part II”

“The Marcho Man Tour Part II”
Bermuda, Demolisher, Aminals
Date: March 7, 2016
Venue: The Warehouse, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

The metal band Bermuda made a stop in Syracuse, NY on March 7th as part of their “Marcho Man Tour”. Also on the bill for the evening were Demolisher from Chicago and the Boston thrash band Aminals. Despite it being a rather cold night in Syracuse the bands and a handful of dedicated fans filled the small multi use venue for a night of metal musings.

After brief sets from a handful of local bands Aminals would take the stage where the proceeded to absolutely crush their set! The band demanded the attention of the crowd and made sure everyone was aware of their absolutely jaw-dropping showmanship. You would have never guessed that this was their drummer’s first show with the group as the bands set progressed without incident and leaving the crowd wanting more. Next up was Demolisher, bringing almost a completely different style of metal and hardcore than the previous act. The band seemed right at home and embracing their surroundings which included skateboard ramps and a few unused motorcycles and a car. Yes a car. Demolisher turned the dusty DIY venue into an all-out brawl as clouds of dust arose from buildings industrialized floor

Tour Headliners Bermuda would close out the night and much like the acts before them took to setting up on the floor as opposed to the small confining stage. From the first snare hit, the crushing weight of this band’s brutal riff-age leveled the small crowd. The bands furious sound fueled an intense mosh pit that quickly overtook the area in-front of the band. The bands front man smoldered with steam as the mixture of sweat and cold air provided an eerie effect that fit the night’s mood perfectly. Definitely be on the lookout for when these guys come to town as you won’t want to miss it.

Aminals Setlist:
1.) Bitchcraft
2.) War Widows
3.) Ew, She Smells Like Brooklyn
4.) If You Hear Them Sing in a Hospital
5.) Population Controls
6.) Dirty Habits
7.) Rope
8.) Something Secular

Bermuda Setlist:
1.) Kuma
2.) Vertebroken
3.) Crown Crusher
4.) Grave Dancers
5.) The Wandering
6.) The Human Herd
7.) Parasitic
8.) The Recluse
9.) Intuitions
10.) Process of Drowning
11.) The Cancer Speaks

Wicked Cool Toys Teams with Alchemy II For Global Relaunch of the Teddy Ruxpin Brand and Franchise

Bristol, PA – February 1, 2016, Wicked Cool Toys has teamed up with Alchemy II, Inc. to relaunch the Teddy Ruxpin brand and franchise globally with toys, content and comprehensive licensed merchandising program. Returning in Fall 2017, Teddy Ruxpin remains one of history’s most successful, trusted and cherished children’s entertainment properties!

Teddy Ruxpin launched in 1985 with enormous success as the world’s first fully animated talking toy. Named as one of the 100 Greatest Toys of All-Time by Time Magazine, the new Teddy Ruxpin will engage with a whole new generation of kids whose parents and grandparents adored Teddy for his wholesome fun, exciting interactive adventures and cutting edge technology, making Teddy Ruxpin more relevant to today’s kids than ever.

“Teddy Ruxpin’s play-pattern and infusion of technology was way ahead of his time back in the 80’s, and with continued massive parental awareness it’s the right time to bring back this coveted brand,” said Michael Rinzler, Co-President & Founding Partner, Wicked Cool Toys.

Jeremy Padawer, Co-President & Partner, Wicked Cool Toys, adds, “We are embracing the past and making Teddy Ruxpin as adorable and engaging as ever, while innovating Teddy with features that will amaze parents and their tech savvy children.”

Padawer and Rinzler will be meeting with potential partners at Kidscreen Summit in Miami, New York International Toy Fair, and more in the months to come.

Created in 1985 by Ken Forsse, former Disney Imagineer, Teddy Ruxpin was the very first of his kind, creating a new industry category in talking toys. Teddy Ruxpin became an overnight sensation as parents and children embraced the lovable, gentle storytelling bear and the 65-episode television series. Teddy Ruxpin sold more than 8 million units in a few short years!

“Teddy Ruxpin is more than just a toy,” said Jan Forsse, President of Alchemy II. “He’s about friendship, magical fun, storytelling and literacy, and we believe the team at Wicked Cool Toys has just the right experience to bring this friend-for-life franchise back to life for a whole new generation of kids.”

“Alchemy is thrilled to work with Wicked Cool Toys, to maximize Teddy’s creativity with new innovations, and meet with potential content and licensing partners,” said Mary Becker, Vice President of Alchemy II.

About Teddy Ruxpin

The first interactive children’s toy took the form of a talking teddy bear; Teddy Ruxpin’s mouth and eyes were programmed and synchronized with his voice as he told stories that played on a cassette deck in his back. At the peak of his popularity, Teddy Ruxpin became the best-selling toy of 1985 and 1986. An animated Teddy Ruxpin series, “The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin,” debuted in 1987.

About Alchemy II

Alchemy II, Inc., owner of the Teddy Ruxpin brand, was founded by Ken Forsse in 1982. Following the success of its technology and toy, Alchemy produced a 65 episode animated series called, “The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin” as well as more than 60 books and audio tapes featuring original stories, art and songs. The Teddy Ruxpin brand expanded to include interactive games, plush, poseables, clothing and more. Over 8 million Teddy Ruxpin animated toys were sold worldwide in 13 languages. The combined worldwide gross earnings from the Teddy Ruxpin talking toy products, books, audio tapes, television series, merchandising, licensing, and other ancillary products and royalties were an estimated 6 billion dollars over a three year period from 1985 to 1987.

Alchemy II also developed the Talking Mother Goose, and in collaboration with Disney, Charles Schultz and Henson respectively, Mickey Mouse and Goofy, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, and Baby Boppers all became Talking Toys from Alchemy II.

About Wicked Cool Toys

Founded in 2012, Wicked Cool Toys (Wicked Cool Toys LLC/WCT) is an emerging leader in play that creates, designs, manufactures and markets a diverse, innovative and fun portfolio of toys for all ages.  Wicked Cool Toys’ portfolio includes Cabbage Patch Kids®, GSUSA® (Girl Scouts), Teddy Ruxpin, MasterChef Junior, WWE®, Wild Kratts, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles®, Blaze, Shimmer and Shine, Xtreme Cycle, Cat Paw, My Girl’s Dollhouse and Vrüm.  WCT’s Girl Scouts Cookie Oven was a 2016 Girl Toy of the Year (TOTY) nominee and top pick on every major retailers’ 2015 holiday list, including, Walmart, Toys “R” Us, Amazon and Target.  WCT was also selected by industry peers as a Kidscreen Hot50 Company in the Licensing category for 2015! Visit www.wickedcooltoys.com and follow the Company on both Facebook and Twitter.  www.facebook.com/wickedcooltoys    @wickedcooltoys

Blu-ray Review “Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings”

Starring: Andrew Robinson, Ami Dolenz, Soleil Moon Frye, J. Trevor Edmond, Hill Harper, Alexander Polinsky
Director: Jeff Burr
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Run Time: 86 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

With what the legendary Stan Winston created with “Pumpkinhead”, that gold is continued with “Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings”. This film is a great follow up to the original. It also has a great cast including Amy Dolenz (“Witchboard 2”, “Ticks”), Andrew Robinson (“Hellraiser”), Soleil Moon Frye (‘Punky Brewster”), Hill Harper (“CSI: NY”), J. Trevor Edmond (“Lord of Illusions”), Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”) and Kane Hodder (“Hatchet”). Scream Factory also released the first “Pumpkinhead” on Blu-ray a few months ago. Let’s hope they stop at this sequel and leave the next two sequels in obvilion where they belong. This film has non-stop gore and great practical effects. A most for any horror fan.

Official Premise: When five teenagers unwittingly resurrect a demon, nobody is safe from the hideous creature’s gruesome rampage. But this monster is different – inside it dwells the soul of a boy murdered years ago. Can the evil beast be destroyed…without killing the innocent boy trapped within?

Scream Factory delivered “Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings” with a solid 1080p transfer. The film looks great and shines with the films creature effects. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 also delivers with the action and epic score. The special features are good but nothing amazing. There is featurette called “Re-Creating The Beast”, which features new interviews with special effects artists Greg Nicotero, Gino Crognale and actor Mark McCraken (Pumpkinhead). There is also “Making Movies”, which is an interview with director Jeff Burr. The special features were all suppose to include a new audio Commentary with director Jeff Burr and some Behind-the-scenes footage but that is nowhere to be found.

Win a Blu-ray for “Mortal Kombat: Legacy II” [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy II”:, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on Blu-ray to our readers. 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 Mortal Kombat character. This giveaway will remain open until October 24th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all of our Media Mikes readers 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.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy II, produced by Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, is the hit live action web series based on the legendary Mortal Kombat video game franchise, co-created by Ed Boon, developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Originally debuting exclusively on Machinima in September 2013, the web series became an instant favorite with more than 19 million views.

The second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy uncovers the rivalries and histories of fierce warriors as Raiden and his recruits clash against the dark forces of Outworld. Chronicling the tournament and the interweaving storylines of the most beloved Kombatants, the series also explores the complex relationship between Liu Kang and Kung Lao and revisits the complicated family dynamic of Kitana and Mileena. Directed by Kevin Tancharoen (Mortal Kombat: Rebirth) and starring Casper Van Dien, Brian Tee, Ian Anthony Dale, and Cary Tagawa, the series also won over critics, receiving a 2014 Streamy Award for Best Choreography (Garrett Warren and Larnell Stovall).

“The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II” Coming to Kansas City

Talk about how times have changed! In 1972, thanks in part to several members of a pro Italian-American group, Francis Ford Coppola’s film “The Godfather” spent opening day playing to an empty theatre in Kansas City. According to Thomas Gialde, vice president of the Italian-American Unification Council of Greater Kansas City at the time, his group “strongly oppose a kind of prejudice the picture can cause.” He made these comments to reporters in the lobby of the Empire theatre.

Four decades later, the film, as well as it’s Oscar winning sequel, return to the scene of the crime. These days the Empire is better known as the Kansas City Alamo Drafthouse and this Sunday, September 7, the Alamo is presenting a double-feature performance of both films, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are just $15.00

Nominated for a combined (22) Academy Awards and winner of (9) Oscars, including (2) for Best Picture, “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II” are still considered, forty-years after their release, to among the greatest American films ever made. If you haven’t seen them on the big screen here is your chance!

For more information visit:

http://drafthouse.com/movies/the_godfather_double_feature/kansas_city

www.Facebook.com/AlamoKansasCity

Twitter: @AlamoKC

Blu-ray Review “Psycho II: Collector’s Edition”

Actors: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly,Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz
Directors: Richard Franklin
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Run Time: 113 minutes

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

How do you follow up an amazing classic film like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”? Well for first bring back Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Second bring in hot newbie writer Tom Holland (Fright Night) to set a killer (no pun intended…well maybe some) script. While this film does not reach the reaches of the first “Psycho” but it is a damn awesome sequel. The film is set 22 years after the events of the first “Psycho” and packs a great cast, besdies Perkins, including Vera Miles, Robert Loggia, Meg Tilly and Dennis Franz.  The film always struck me as being very clever and still holds up today. A must have for any horrorhound.

Official Premise: Psycho II is the terrifying sequel to one of the most suspenseful films of all time, Alfred Hitchock’s Psycho. Anthony Perkins makes a horrific homecoming in his role as the infamous Norman Bates, who, after years of treatment at a mental institution for the criminally insane, still can’t quite elude the demands of “Mother.” Vera Miles also returns a the inquisitive woman who is haunted by her sister’s brutal murder and the ominous motel where it all occurred.

Scream Factory really gave a lot of love to “Psycho II” as it has never looked better.  The Blu-ray’s 1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.84:1 is very sharp and quite impressive. There is a little bit of grain showing but overall, it is a great high-definition transfer. In terms of audio tracks “Psycho II” contains both DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 aiming to showcase the film’s original sound design and a supped up DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. I have to admit, I enjoyed both but the 5.1 track really worked the best for me with Jerry Goldsmith’s score.

The special features are worthy of this collector’s edition as well.  There are vintage cast and crew interviews, which runs just over 30 minutes. There is a option to play the film with cast and crew interviews (audio only), which are different from the ones above. This is a pretty cool feature for hardcore fans. There is a brand new audio commentary track with Tom Holland and is hosted by Rob Galluzzo (writer-producer-director of “The Psycho Legacy”). Great addition to this release and a must listen for any fan of the film. Holland really kicks some ass here. Lastly there are some trailers, TV spots and a still gallery included.

Blu-ray Review: “Scanners II: The New Order / Scanners III: The Takeover – Double Feature”

Starring: Liliana Komorowska, David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Valérie Valois, Yvan Ponton, Steve Parrish
Director: Christian Duguay
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Run Time: 199 minutes

Scanners II: 3 out of 5 stars
Scanners III: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1/2 out of 5 stars

“Scanners” is one of my favorite horror flicks and one of the best films from David Cronenberg. The film was so unique, still holds up today and has spawned two sequels. “Scanners II” is a standalone from the 1981 film and has a different cast but still similar story. It has a hard act to follow-up but is a pretty decent film. The same can’t be said for “Scanners III”, which is not the greatest film but it still fun to watch (or at least it was when I was kid). Sort of reminds me a “Jaws 3-D”, terrible yet I still always watch it. This double feature is brought to us by Scream Factory, who is really coming to the aid of horror fans in need of obscure horror titles this year.

“Scanners II” Official Premise: Sequel to David Cronenberg’s 1981 feature, about a fringe group of humans who have developed telepathic powers. When a corrupt police commander (Yvan Ponton) decides to use the scanners to help take over the city, he convinces evil scientist Dr Morse (Tom Butler) to help him. Morse has plans to use a new mind-controlling drug on the telepaths, but has not reckoned with a rogue scanner who is determined to stop them.

“Scanners III” Official Premise: Second sequel to David Cronenberg’s 1981 horror, about a group of telepathic people, known as ‘scanners’, operating on the fringes of human society. Young Helena Monet (Liliana Komorowska) has exceptional telepathic abilities, but when she tries an experimental drug developed by her father she turns into a deranged killer, using her abilities to cut a murderous swathe to the top of her father’s pharmaceutical company. On her quest to dominate the world, Helena takes over a television station, and the only man who can stop her is her scanner brother Alex, recently returned from honing his skills in a Thai monastery.

Scream Factory delivered this double feature in a combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD of both films. “Scanners II & III” each located on one Blu-ray disc and one DVD. The transfers of these films are good but not out of this world. These films were never shot were not given a new touched up transfer for this release, so they both show their age a bit. Nonetheless, they both deliver what they need to in order to make the presentations worth checking out. They each come with a DTS-HD Master Audio track, which also work for what each film delivers. In terms of special features though there is no much hear except for Theatrical Trailers. But I am sure that some of you will just take “Scanners II” and consider “Scanners III” an optional bonus feature.

Blu-ray Review “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (Director’s Cut)”

Actors: Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly, Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz
Director: Troy Duffy
Rated: R (Restricted) / Unrated
Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD Release Date: July 16, 2013
Run Time: 117 / 144 minutes

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

I remember I rented the first “The Boondock Saints” on VHS when it was a ‘Blockbuster Exclusive’ rental. This was almost 15 years ago and before it was this cult phenomenon. When there was word that “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” was being made 10 years after the first, I think it made every fan jump up and down (including myself). Well it’s been 4 years since this sequel was released and we can get excited again since Writer/Director Troy Duffy’s is releasing a new Director’s Cut which features 27 Minutes of Never-Before-Seen Extended Footage. There is a longer opening sequence, a lengthened fantasy sequence and an extended elevator sequence leading up to the Prudential shoot-out. So with the director’s cut the running time gets bumped up to 144 minutes and it is AMAZING!

“The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” is a a rare feat where it actually tops the original. This sequel to back the original cast, Including Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and Billy Connolly along with new additions including Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz, Peter Fonda and Judd Nelson. I do not remember a more explosive theatrical experience then when I saw this film in theaters. I know fans have been bugging writer/director Troy Duffy to do a third film and I really hope that happens one day. I am not sure why this release is coming now, if not to capitalize on Norman Reedus’ insane fandom from “The Walking Dead”, but either way I am excited and it is a must for any fan of this series!

Official Premise: From Troy Duffy, writer and director of The Boondock Saints, comes the much anticipated sequel to the tough, stylized cutting edge saga of the MacManus brothers (Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery). The two have been in deep hiding with their father, Il Duce (Billy Connolly), in the quiet valleys of Ireland, far removed from their former vigilante lives. When word comes that a beloved priest has been killed by sinister forces from deep within the mob, the brothers return to Boston to mount a violent and bloody crusade to bring justice to those responsible. With a new partner in crime (Clifton Collins Jr., Star Trek) and a sexy FBI operative (Julie Benz, TV’s Dexter) hot on their trail…the Saints are back!

The 1080p transfer still looks great like the past releases, especially with the new footage. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is killer as well with the non-stop action. The line “Ding Ding Motherfucka! Ding Dong!” is presented perfectly. The real catch for this release is that it comes as a two-Disc Blu-ray combo pack with both the Theatrical and Director’s Cut versions. This release is currently set as a Best Buy exclusive release, so fans need to be sure to pick this up for sure.

The special features are in-line with the past Blu-ray releases. We get a pair of audio commentary tracks from cast and crew. There are two short deleted scenes. Then there are seven featurettes including “Unprecedented Access: Behind the Scenes”, “Billy Connolly and Troy Duffy: Unedited”, “The Cast Confesses: Secrets From the Set”, “Inside the Vault: The Weapons”, “‘The Boondock Saints’ Hit Comic-Con”, “Saints Off Script” and “Back to Boondock”. All these special features are must see for any fan of the series but they are not anything new for this release. But don’t forget that this new release contains the pretty sweet director’s cut of the film, so that is enough for me!

Blu-ray Review “The Last Exorcism Part II”

Actors: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, David Jensen, Tarra Riggs
Directors: Ed Gass-Donnelly
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Man did I really want to love this movie.  I thought the first “The Last Exorcism” (that just sounds wrong BTW) was pretty kick ass, not perfect but definitely cool flick.  This unnecessary sequel (hello, “Last Exorcism”) steps away from the found-footage angle but doesn’t add any scares.  In fact there are little to no good scares in this film.  The film runs 88 minutes and yet I didn’t feel that anything useful happens until just past the one hour marks and then they rush and realize this film needs to actual be about an “exorcism”.  Ashley Bell repeats her good performances from the first film but doesn’t add anything new here.  I would skip this film and keep you good or at least decent memories of the first film.

Official Premise: Continuing where the first film left off, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found terrified and alone in rural Louisiana. Back in the relative safety of New Orleans, Nell realizes that she can’t remember entire portions of the previous months only that she is the last surviving member of her family. Just as Nell begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean her last exorcism was just the beginning.

Sony released thisd Blu-ray as an “Unrated Edition” but they forgot to actually also include the PG-13 theatrical version as well (not that I would have watched it anyway). Along with the Blu-ray, there is also an Ultraviolet digital copy included. The 1080p transfer and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track are good enough for a low budget film. I wish they would have taken advantage more of New Orleans and used it as a character that it can be. The special features are not great either.  There are three featurettes including “Shooting in New Orleans”, “Hair Salon Scare – The Last Exorcism Part II goes Viral” and Nell’s Story. Lastly there is a audio commentary track with Ed Gass-Donnelly and Eli Roth.

Book Review "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles II: Creatures and Characters"

Author: Daniel Falconer
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: April 9, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Last year when I reviewed Harper’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles – Art & Design”, I was blown away.  It was easily one of the best film companion book I had the privilege checking out last year. Click here to see our review. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles II: Creatures and Characters” is another amazing book from WETA Workshop designer Daniel Falconer. My wife’s response was “Another one?” but from the moment I picked up the book, I was unable to put it down. There is so much amazing content in here that I can spend hours and hours looking it over. If you are a fan of “The Hobbit” or “The Lord of the Rings” series, this book is really a dream come true.

The first “Chronicles” focused broadly on the “Art & Design” from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” with over 1,000 images of every aspect of the production from concept artwork to photographs and development paintings.  “Chronicles II” hones in a little bit and focuses specifically on the aspects of the “Creatures and Characters”.  Easily there is no stretching of content here there is enough to fill two books on these topics.  Here we get an additional 500+ previously unpublished photographs, behind-the-scenes photographs, digital renders and film stills, which are absolutely breathtaking. We get a chance to go through “The Hobbit” species by species and character by character. If you like the Hobbit’s then you will enjoy the sections on everything from their accents to their feet to their ears were created.  Literally, every aspect is covered in this book. We don’t get stop as the Hobbit’s though, we get chapters on the Wizards, Dwarves, Trolls, Elves, Stone Giants, Goblins, Orcs, Beasts and of course we can’t forget Gollum.  Along with that we have exclusive interviews with the designers, cast and crew to accompany and describe these beautiful photos. 

I should also point out that “Chronicles II”, comes with a great send off from Andy Serkis.  He is so extremely talented and his work on this series, should be awarded. By the time you get to the end of the book and you think you are done…there is still more goodies including a special fold-out Character Size Chart. This chart takes a look at all the major creatures and characters of the film ranging from Radagast’s hedgehog friend to the towering Stone Giants! Like in the first “Chronicles”, Weta Workshop designer Daniel Falconer has access to these wonderful collection of images and really leave you just starring at the pages. You really get an inside look at how much work and hard labor really went into this film. It makes you have a new appreciation for the talented people involved. Harper really delivered these images in the highest possible quality as well as complete book presentation. I hope that they are planning the same thing for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”, because I will be first in line.

Blu-ray Review "Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike"

Actors: Samantha Mathis, D.B. Sweeney, Michael Gross, Ray Wise, Jason Beghe, Esai Morales, Patrick Fabian, Kim Rhodes
Directors: John Putch
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Run Time: 111 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

First let me start that I have never read Ayn Rand novel for “Atlas Shrugged”. Before I recently saw “Atlas Shrugged: Part One”, I heard a lot of negative aspects about the film. I actually liked it, sort of. The film feels like a corporate soap opera. The story is a little light and the acting is a little campy and over-the-top. It also leaves us with a real WTF moment, which leads right into this next film. This film picks up right after the first and continues the story. The sequel though has a bigger budget and a better cast including D.B. Sweeney, Michael Gross, Ray Wise and Patrick Fabian. The film still has its problems but I enjoyed it as much as I did the first. Don’t worry if you liked this film “Atlas Shrugged: Part III” comes out July 4, 2014.

Official Premise: Part two of Ayn Rand’s groundbreaking novel comes to the screen in this thrilling and powerful drama. The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Brilliant creators, from artists to industrialists, continue to mysteriously disappear. Dagny Taggart, Vice President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental, has discovered what may very well be the answer to a mounting energy crisis – a revolutionary motor that could seemingly power the World. But, the motor is dead… there is no one left to decipher its secret… and, someone is watching. It’s a race against the clock to find the inventor before the motor of the World is stopped for good.

Fox delivered a decent Blu-ray here with a very sharp 1080p transfer for the film that was shot digitally and presented with an 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track included also works well with the score and the dialogue.  The special features are not the greatest but worth checking out if you enjoyed the film.  First up, “Behind The Scenes of Atlas Shrugged Part II” gives a nice look into the production and the action sequences. It runs just under 10 minutes, which is a little short but worth checking out.  “Sean Hannity Extended Segment” takes a longer look into the Fox News anchor working with the actors and is presented in standard definition. Lastly there are fifteen deleted scenes, which run about 15 minutes together or can be viewed individually.

Blu-ray Review “Cinderella II: Dreams Come True / Cinderella III: A Twist in Time”

Starring: Jennifer Hale, Tress MacNeille, Rob Paulsen, Corey Burton, Holland Taylor, Susanne Blakeslee
Directors: Frank Nissen, John Kafka
Number of discs: 3
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Running Time: 73 / 70 minutes

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

How can you follow up to wonderful and timeless story of “Cinderella”. “Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” is a poor excuse for a sequel to one of the best fairy tale stories ever. The animation really is poor and really shows it’s direct-to-video roots. To be honest, I wouldn’t purchase this if it wasn’t in a combo pack. “Cinderella III: A Twist in Time” is a much better follow-up.  It delivers a really nice twist on the classic story and also packs some really fun songs. This film does make this release worth the purchase and I would just take “Cinderella II”, as a bonus feature.  In terms of delivery, “Cinderella II & III” are presented on one Blu-ray disc, while each film is also available on their own individual DVD. Overall, I would recommend this for probably only hardcore Disney fans!

“Cinderella II: Dreams Come True”: As a newly crowned princess, Cinderella quickly learns that life at the Palace – and her royal responsibilities – are more challenging than she had imagined. In three heartwarming tales, Cinderella calls on her animal friends and her Fairy Godmother to help as she brings her own grace and charm to her regal role and discovers that being true to yourself is the best way to make your dreams come true.

“Cinderella III: A Twist In Time”: Princess Cinderella is living a charmingly perfect life until her stepmother gets her hands on Fairy Godmother’s magic wand. With a wicked spell that turns back the clock, she erases the Prince’s memories of the girl he met at the ball and shatters Cinderella’s happily ever after! Jaq and Gus scurry to save the day before time runs out. But was it all really just a dream in Cinderella’s heart, or will true love triumph over all?

Despite being pretty bad, “Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” still looks the best it ever has on Blu-ray with its 1080p transfer and its 1.66:1 aspect ratio. “Cinderella III: A Twist In Time” also looks fantastic with its 1080p transfer and its 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Both films also sport a nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The special features do not add much to this release. There is a feature called “Becoming a Princess” which is included in a two-part feature. The 1st Edition is with “Cinderella II” and 2nd Edition is with “Cinderella III” and both are new features for this release. They takes you through princess school and the process of being transformed into a Disney Princess. “Musical Magic” looks into the songs in the “Cinderella 2”. Lastly, there is a music video for the song “Put It Together”.