Blu-ray Review “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar”

Actors: Morgan Freeman, Patricia Wright
Directors: David Douglas
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Run Time: 39 minutes

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

Who doesn’t love nature documentaries, especially ones shot with IMAX 3D cameras? “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” is the latest of the IMAX nature films. Did I also mention that Morgan Freeman narrates this film? Bonus! This film is an interesting journey through world of Madagascar. I am a little weary though of these IMAX films because they are very short running barely 40 minutes. Disneynature is putting out a new film every Earth Day that is a feature length. How can people expect to pay full price to see half a film. Just sayin’, this style was cool when 3D was new and rare but it is everywhere now and these films would be much wider received if they went feature length.

Official Premise: “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” highlights the tireless efforts of trailblazing scientist Dr. Patricia C. Wright and her lifelong mission to help these strange and adorable creatures survive in the modern world. Joining David Douglas once again behind the scenes are editor Beth Spiegel, co-producer Diane Roberts, and composer Mark Mothersbaugh. Songs are by Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo & Tarika. The film reunites Freeman with Drew Fellman, who also wrote and produced the 2011 IMAX 3D documentary “Born to Be Wild 3D,” and director David Douglas, who served as director of photography on that film.

Warner Bros is releasing this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD. They are also including a bonus 3D version of the film. I have to admit, the 3D version was not as good as I expected. There wasn’t any outstanding 3D effects like we have come to expect from the IMAX 3D shot films. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track sounds good and Mark Mothersbaugh’s score is well represented throughout.

There are a few short extras included. First is “Making of The Island of Lemurs”, which is looks briefly behind-the-scenes. There is another “Behind the Scenes” promo, not sure why these two weren’t combined. “The Story of Lemurs” features the filmmakers and Primatologist Patricia Wright discussing the film. “Meet Patricia Wright” is a feature on the Primatologist. Other extras include, “A Baby Indri” featuring Fellmantalking about working with the scientists. “The Cutest Lemur” introduces us to the lovable creature. “Go-Kart Racers” focuses around the carts used for filming. Lastly “Five Things About Indri” features fun facts for kids.

Own ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR on Blu-ray combo pack and Digital HD on March 31

Eddie Bakshi talks about producing “Last Days of Coney Island” and this year’s Kansas City Film Fest

If you’re a fan of classic animation you surely are a fan of Ralph Bakshi. In his five decade career he has created such seminal animated features as “Fritz the Cat,” “Heavy Traffic,” “Wizards,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Cool World” and many more. This week at the Kansas City Film Fest a retrospect of his work will be shown, featuring screenings of “Heavy Traffic,” “Coonskin” and “Wizards,” culminating in a Q&A Skype session with the director after Saturday’s screening of “Coonskin.”

Introducing the films this week will be another filmmaking member of the Bakshi family, Ralph’s son, Eddie. Eddie caught the filmmaking bug at a young age and is finishing up his animated producer’s debut, “Last Days of Coney Island.” While waiting for the Fest to begin, Eddie Bakshi spoke with Media Mikes.:

Mike Smith: Can you give the readers a little inside introduction to the upcoming retrospect of your father’s films at the Kansas City Film Fest?
Eddie Bakshi: The festival is presenting screenings of three of his films: “Heavy Traffic,” “Coonskin” and “Wizards.” There will also be samples of the original art – the original animation cells used to make the film. They will be on display and some will also be available to purchase. In addition, he will be Skyping in to the festival after the Saturday evening screening of “Coonskin” for an audience Q & A. The audience will have a chance to ask him a question about any of his films, be it “Coonskin” or his latest film, “Last Days of Coney Island.” He’s currently editing that film right now and will actually be Skyping in on the same computer he’s editing on.

MS: Can you talk a little about “Last Days of Coney Island?”
EB: “Last Days of Coney Island” is a project that we’re both working on. He’s directing and I’m producing. We’re currently in the middle of editing it. It’s an eighteen-minute featurette. When we announced it on Kickstarter we had said it would be a five to seven-minute short but now it’s a bit longer. Actually, we may continue the project and turn it into a full length feature film. If we can get the funding we would like to tell the entire “Coney Island” story, which takes place in the 1960s and involves cops and a whole lot of seedy characters…the inhabitants of Coney Island. It will be a classic Bakshi film in the vein of “Heavy Traffic.” It has a lot of strange characters and they’re all interlinked. He’s very happy with what he has done now but he would love to turn it into a feature. He’s very happy with the story and how it’s going. He’s been very involved the past several months lengthening the story to eighteen-minutes. The art style is very interesting.

MS: You will be offering some of his original art and cells to the public?
EB: Yes. It’s a great way for his fans to own a piece of his work.

MS: Is this retrospect a way to introduce his work to new fans as well as letting old fans know about his newest project?
EB: It’s a new way to promote Bakshi Productions. It’s really the first real chance people will have to ask him about the project directly. There has been a real spike in the increase of interest in his work since the advent of outlets like Twitter and Instagram. Many new fans are being exposed to his work. An outlets like Facebook these fans are finally getting to see the images from his films and it generated a lot of interest in the new film. We’ve been getting offers from all over the country to attend film festivals to not only talk about “Last Days of Coney Island” but to show his older films as well. It’s kind of like a bundle package. Once “Coney Island “ is ready we can take that to festivals, or show a trailer for it with some of the older films.

The Kansas City Film Fest runs through April 13. For more information go to www.kcfilmfest.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blu-ray Review “Muppet Treasure Island & The Great Muppet Caper: Of Pirates & Pigs Collection”

Starring: Steve Whitmire, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Tim Curry, Jim Henson
Directors: Brian Henson, Jim Henson
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
Run Time: 147 minutes

Muppet Treasure Island: 3 out of 5 stars
The Great Muppet Caper: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Since Disney took over “The Muppets”, they have been doing great things for this group of puppets. “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981) and “Muppet Treasure Island” (1996) are making their Blu-ray debut this holiday season on a 2-Movie BD/DVD Collection. “The Great Muppet Caper” is the second Muppet film and one of my favorites growing up. Still fun to watch after all these years. Muppet Treasure Island” is a fun musical version of the classic tale from Robert Louis Stevenson. It isn’t perfect but who doesn’t love Tim Curry singing? So this collection is a must for any Muppet fan. In fact, these two were the last Muppet films not released on Blu-ray, so I am wondering if Disney will be reissuing “The Muppets Take Manhattan” and “Muppets from Space” next under the their label both of which were releasing on Blu-ray by Sony back in 2011. Either way fans have plenty more to come with the eighth film, “Muppets Most Wanted”, which will be released on March 21, 2014.

Official Synopsis: A treasure trove of hearty laughs is yours when two of the funniest, most action-packed Muppet movies of all time make their Disney Blu-ray debut in this heartwarming 2-Movie Collection. From the special star-studded lunacy in Muppet Treasure Island to the jewel-heist hilarity of The Great Muppet Caper, these two classic comedy-adventures are packed with music, mirth, mayhem and, of course, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, Fozzie, Gonzo and all your Muppet favorites. Loaded with unforgettable music and sparkling special effects, this restored and remastered collection is a 2-movie treasure you won’t want to miss.

Disney has done a wonderful job of delivering this film to Blu-ray with stellar 1080p transfers. Even though “The Great Muppet Caper” is over 30 years it still looks quite amazing. Same goes wiht the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks, which work very well with the music in the films. In terms of special features, this release include a few decent features. There are three “Frog-e-oke Sign-Alongs” for the songs “Cabin Fever” from “Muppet Treasure Island” and from “The Great Muppet Caper” their is “Steppin’ Out With A Star” and “Happiness Hotel”. “The Tale of The Story Beyond the Tail” is a fun behind the scenes look with the Muppets on the making of “Muppet Treasure Island”. There is a fun music video “Let the Good Shine Out”. Lastly there is a super funny and very interesting audio commentary track with Gonzo, Rizzo and Brian Henson.

Concert Review: Jon Secada @ The Club at Treasure Island, May 4th, 2013

Jon Secada
The Club at Treasure Island
May 4, 2013
Treasure Island, FL

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

May 4th, 2013. It was a beautiful night in Tampa, Florida. There was no humidity, no wind, and the sun was setting over calm waters as my wife and I walked into The Club at Treasure Island. But for this particular fan, it could have been cold, windy and raining locusts and I wouldn’t have cared one bit. I was about to see Jon Secada live in person.

This was an exciting night for me, as we had meet-and-greet passes for after the show. It has been twenty years since Jon released his very first album, and I remember it like it were yesterday. I was ten years old, and I saved my allowance for almost two months before I was able to go buy it at The Wall (that’s a blast from the past for some of you mall-goers…it’s now known as F.Y.E.). It was the second CD I had ever bought. And on this night, after all these years of enjoying his music, I would meet Jon personally. I couldn’t wait to shake his hand and say “thank you.”

For many of us music fans seeing one of your favorite artists live in concert is as good as it gets. In my personal experience, unfortunately, I think that some artists disappoint. For a variety of reasons, the live experience just may not live up to the clean, crisp sound of the album. However, despite the intimate setting of a yacht club ballroom temporarily turned concert hall, Jon’s show was exactly the opposite. Jon and his band sounded fantastic that evening. So great, in fact, that I’d say that a professional studio recording doesn’t do him and his band members justice.

Jon sang several of his hits that he’s well known for such as “Just Another Day,” but he also played a handful of other songs such as “What a Wonderful World,” originally performed by Louis Armstrong and “My Way,” originally written by Paul Anka and performed by ‘Ol Blue Eyes himself. Between songs, Jon told stories from throughout his career – like how he was asked by Frank Sinatra to sing a duet with him for his aptly-named album, and about his time performing on Broadway in Greese and Cabaret. He even performed a part of his role from Cabaret.

The show was absolutely incredible. The setlist was well chosen, Jon sounded great, and the band behind him couldn’t have been better. It was everything a fan could have hoped for – and more. The only bad part to the show was the end – because the audience was left wanting more

 

Matthew Modine talks about joining Ralph Bakshi's "Last Days of Coney Island"

Matthew Modine is probably known best for playing Pvt. Joker in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” and Louden Swain in “Vision Quest”. He also recently appeared as Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley in “The Dark Knight Rises”. Matthew has a production company with partner Adam Rackoff called Cinco Dedos Peliculas and also has a deep love for animation. He recently signed on to produce and voice act in Ralph Bakshi’s latest film “Last Days of Coney Island”, which is currently trying to become funded via Kickstarter.

At the time of posting, there has been over 900 backers since it was launched and just over $140,000 dollars pledged of the $165,000 dollars goal. We are almost there but we need your help. Be sure to rush over to Kickstarter and help Matthew and Ralph on this project. Click here to join the fight and see “Last Days of Coney Island” get made and be sure to mention Media Mikes sent ya! The campaign ends on Sunday March 3rd around 12pm EST, so don’t miss out! Spread the word!

Check out our interview with writer/director Ralph Bakshi about the film as well, click here. Also be sure to check back next week to see the second half of our interview with Matthew about reflecting on his work on “Full Metal Jacket”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, his iPad app and also his upcoming role on the Steve Job’s biopic “jOBS”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved with Ralph Bakshi’s “Last Days of Coney Island”?
Matthew Modine: First of all you should know that my dad was a drive-in theater manager and I became hip to Ralph Bakshi when I was too young [laughs]. At an inappropriate age, I feel in love with “Fritz the Cat”. So that is how I found the work of Bakshi. So also this last year, I have been working with the animator Bill Plympton. We met at Tribeca Film Festival and became fast friends. He asked me if I would be interested in voicing the narrator, this sort-of Walter Winchell character, in an animated film he was making called “Santa, The Fascist Years”. It is a very funny short film. I also worked with him on a film he was restoring called “The Flying House”. My partner, Adam Rackoff and I have a production company called Cinco Dedos Peliculas, which means Five Finger Films. The reason we called it that is we thought it would be appropriate to have a production company that offered a hand to other filmmakers. We used Cinco Dedos to help Plympton get his money for restoring Winsor McCay’s film. So, it was through Bill Plympton that he told us about Ralph Bakshi. So I asked my producing partner what he thought about Ralph’s project “The Last Days of Coney Island” and he wanted to be an animator when he was a kid and just loves Ralph Bakshi’s work. We told him we wanted to help out with his Kickstarter program. I also told him that I would do a voice if it would be helpful to do the raise. He was very grateful and was excited about me voicing a character for the film.

MG: Tell us about the character you are going to play?
MM: It is really an awesome character named Shorty. He is described as a mafia guy who thinks he’s Elvis Presley and sings like Chet Baker. So it just sounds awesome to me. So I am very excited to be first helping him but ecstatic that he is giving me this opportunity to also voice one of his characters. It is just going to be a lot of  fun.

MG: Like you said you are no stranger to indie animation, what is it about the genre that draws you?
MM: I think it is from my childhood. I really go back to the original “Popeye” cartoons, the early ones, where they were beautifully drawn. As a boy, I also wanted to be an animator and was discouraged by the way that Hanna-Barbera did their animation, with shows like “The Flintstones” and “Scooby Doo”. It wasn’t that creative and felt like cheap animation. I didn’t want to be bothered with it at all, until I saw Bill Plympton’s animation in the 80’s when he was doing the MTV TV spots. Since then also the work that Pixar has done has brought a whole new life to animation in a way that is unimaginable. So I think that this is an exciting time for animation. The work that Ralph Bakshi does because it is so irreverent, original and beautifully hand-drawn. What he is planning first with “Coney Island” is only a chapter in a larger film of mixed media of video art and animation. I think it is going to be something that is extraordinary and very Bakshi.

MG: What is your favorite film that Ralph has directed?
MM: I think it would have to be the first one that I was exposed to, “Fritz the Cat”. I was also so excited when “The Lord of the Rings” came out and it is still an extraordinary film. The world that he created for people that really love the book – it exceeds the reality of even Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings”. “Wizards” is also amazing!

Blu-ray Review “The Magic of Belle Island”

Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Virginia Madsen, Madeline Carroll, Emma Fuhrmann, Nicolette Pierini, Kenan Thompson
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 109 minutes

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

“The Magic of Belle Island” is one of those rare gems that gets quietly released each year that no one has seen but everyone should.  It is easily one of my favorite films of 2012. It is also one of the best directorial efforts from Rob Reiner, who reunited with Morgan Freeman again after “The Bucket List”. The film just has this “Rob Reiner” feel to it, which is just so recognizable.  Freeman is so amazing in this film and really nails this role. He is funny yet very deep. Besides Freeman, Emma Fuhrmann really steals the show for me personally.  She is going to be big and real fast, mark by words. We had the chance to interview her earlier this year about this role, read her interview here.  I highly recommend this film to everyone in the family.

Synopsis: Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a famous Western novelist whose struggle with alcoholism has sapped his passion for writing. He takes a lakeside cabin for the summer inpicturesque Belle Isle, and befriends the family next door – an attractive single mom (Madsen) and her young daughters – who help him find inspiration again.

The Blu-ray presentation is very respectable and impressive.  The 1080p transfer looks clean and sharp but overall not really given much of a challenge since the film is a very simple straight forward dramedy.  Same goes for the audio track, it works perfectly with the notable “Reiner” music and score and delivers clean dialogue.  The special features are great as well as the film.  There is an amazing audio commentary track with both Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman.  I highly recommend this fun track.  There are a few deleted scenes, nothing that would have made the film better but worth visiting.  There is a the typical EPK-style behind-the-scenes  feature “HDNet: A Look at”.  Lastly there is the theatrical trailer included.

Blu-ray Review “Treasure Island: The Complete Series”

Directed by: Steve Barron
Starring: Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood, Donald Sutherland, Toby Regbo, Rupert Penry- Jones
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Distributed by: Vivendi Entertainment
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Running Time: 183 minutes

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

Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island” seems to be something that gets “re-imagined” at least once a year. The real draw here is Eddie Izzard playing Long John Silver. He really nails the role and is a lot of fun but that is about it. Elijah Wood is a nut in the film but doesn’t really show up till the second half. This mini-series aired earlier this year on Syfy in two-parts. After the first part, I was not incredibly thrilled but the second half definitely carried the weight of the film but it really wasn’t enough to really make this worth the wait. If you are a fan of other Syfy mini-series though like “Tin Men” and “Alice”, then definitely give this a look and expect the same quality in “Treasure Island”.

The story follows young Jim Hawkins, who is the only one who can successfully get a schooner to a legendary Island looking for buried treasure. Aboard the ship is a mysterious cook named John Silver (Izzard), who has other plans for the trip and causes Jim to loose trust in the crew. After that you known the rest of the story for “Treasure Island”, expect a bit of pirate action adventure, buried treasures and high sea sailing.

The Blu-ray presentation is quite impressive. The 1080p transfer looks sharp and worked well with the location shooting. It is also presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The audio track, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, also works well especially with the film’s action sequences.

The special features are slightly disappointing overall. There is a commentary track with by Director Steve Barron and Actor Eddie Izzard, few good laughs overall. There is a brief featurette “The Making of Treasure Island” with interviews with Steve Barron, Elijah Wood, David Harewood, Eddie Izzard but is just too short. There are more cast interviews including Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood, Toby Regbo and Philip Glenister and Ruper Penry-Jones together. These are worth checking out but also short. “A Tour of the Hispaniola” is a feature with Dan Malone, Marine Coordinator on the film, taking us on the guided tour of the tall ship. “Anatomy of a Stunt” is a short feature on one of the stunts taking place on the ship. Lastly there is a trailer included as well.

Blu-ray Review “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”

Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzman
MPAA Rating: PG
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Running Time: 94 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars (4 stars if it was in 3D)
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When you approach “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” if you have to just let go and enjoy yourself. It is cheesy and over-the-top but that is where it gets its charm. The film is funny and really improves over the its predecessor. I mean Dwayne Johnson really steals this franchise and runs with it. I can’t wait for the next installment of this franchise! Now unfortunately, I was not able to review this Blu-ray in 3D but I have previously seen the film in theaters in 3D and let say that I prefer it that way. This film uses the 3D to the fullest extent with amazing visuals and in-your-face effects. Though still decent to watch in 2D, I would recommend if you have a preference to check out this film in the third dimension.

While the first film, took us on the Jules Verne adventure the story of “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. The film was also cheesy and over-the-top thanks to Brendan Fraser. This film focuses on the story of “The Mysterious Island”. Josh Hutcherson returns playing Sean who receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island from his missing grandfather. Sean immediately leaves to attempt to find this island along with his new stepfather (Dwayne Johnson). Together with a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), they set out to find the island in order to rescue Sean’s grandfather.

The Blu-ray tracks looks great on Blu-ray, really sharp and colorful, even though it is not in 3D. The audio is out of this world with its amazing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The releases comes with a combo pack including a Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet digital streaming copy. The special features though are not as amazing as the film, though decent. “Are You Strong Enough to Survive Mysterious Island?” is a fun interactive map that takes us on a journey through the Mysterious Island. There are five deleted scenes, unfinished and nothing really special. Lastly there is a funny-as-hell gag reel included.

Own it on Blu-ray Combo Pack or Digital Download 6/5! http://bit.ly/J2WBSHOP
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Emma Fuhrmann talks about working with Morgan Freeman & Rob Reiner in “The Magic of Belle Island”

Emma Fuhrmann stars opposite Morgan Freeman in the upcoming Rob Reiner film “The Magic of Belle Island”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Emma recently about her role in the film.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the film “The Magic of Belle Island”?
Emma Fuhrmann: The film is about Morgan Freeman’s character Monty who moves in next door to where my family lives. My character becomes very intrigued by Monty and seeks his help with a few things. In the end our lives are changed by happens over the course of the summer. It’s about our journey together.

AL: Can you tell us a little more about your role?
EF: My character’s name is Finnegan O’Neil. She is the middle daughter in a family with three girls. She is sort of the tom boy type and likes to be outside.

AL: What was it that interested you in the role?
EF: My agent had sent me the script and after reading it I thought the character would be cool to play. I live in Texas so I ended up doing a video audition. Around 2 or 3 weeks later I got a call from my agent saying that Rob wanted to see me. I flew to New York and a couple hours after the audition while waiting in the airport I found out I was offered the role.

AL: What was your first response when you found out you had gotten the role?
EF: I wanted to scream but I couldn’t scream because I was in the airport. I just started crying.

AL: What was it like working with Morgan and Rob?
EF: It was such an amazing experience. Everyone was so nice. I remember one day Rob and Morgan were singing all these songs together and it was really funny. They were actually really good singers.

AL: Was there anything difficult about the role?
EF: I had to yell at Morgan in one of the scene and it seemed kind of weird that I was yelling at Morgan Freeman. The rest of the scenes were pretty easy as I am a little like my character.

AL: What do you think you learned from working on this film?
EF: I learned a lot from watching Morgan. He would stay in character all of the time even when we weren’t shooting. He played his character so well. I learned that it’s important to always stay in character. It’s help a lot. It was really fun watching those guys work.

XBOX 360 Game Review “Dead Island”

Developer: Techland
Distributor: Square Enix
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: Xbox 360
Mode: Single-player, Multiplayer
Rating: ESRB: M

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

First, and above all foremost, this is NOT your “Mom’s” Zombie game. This game is bloody, gory, creepy, and fun as all hell. I wanted to play it the first time I saw the official announcement trailer, watch below. This game has the “scare” feeling you get from BioShock, coupled with good music and sound effects. The scare factor is what I loved the most. If you want to really get into the game, play at night, in the dark, using a Ear Force X41 headset, which I absolutely love. You can hear all of the little details in the background, not just the ones close to you. My roommates had a particularly joyful time sneaking up on me. The game is set in an absolutely spectacular island setting, with blue skies filled with puffy white clouds, and crystal blue waters. The fact that a zombie apocalypse begins here of all places is ironic.

Now before you just punch the heck out of the start button to jump in to the game, make sure you watch that intro. For one thing the song “Who Do You Voodoo, Bitch?” is addictive, but mainly because it sets up the story for you. For example, it explains why you start out by waking up on the floor in a hotel room. You also want to pay close attention to your mini map and the “bread crumb trail” in the beginning or you will find yourself dying several times before you get off the floor of your hotel room.

Game play is smooth and easy to catch on to changing weapons and setting skill points. Just make sure you are in a safe place when you set those skill points because live mode is still live when you go into your inventory, map and skills section. The tutorial is short, and sweet, getting you into the fray pretty quickly. There are loads of places and things to loot, from the numerous luggage left all over the island, to refrigerators, cupboards, phones and even computer towers give you items to sell, modify your weapons; even the zombies sometimes give out health packs!

Health is regenerated from eating fruit, energy bars, and drinking energy drinks, or using med kits which are given like an injections. Several friends and I have joked that the med kits are more akin to taking an insulin shot after the number of energy drinks and energy bars one consumes to stay alive. Dying doesn’t kill you in the XP section like most games, or the loot, but it will make a nice dent in your wallet. Sadly returning to the site of your demise doesn’t replenish that wad of cash either, you just want to make sure you loot when you can, especially zombies and safe’s as they give really good handfuls.

You have an option of playing in either Co-Op Mode or Multiplayer Mode and in either mode you play through the story line. The difference is with Multiplayer Mode you can join random other peoples games or they can jump into your game depending on the settings you have changed. I particularly enjoyed the Multiplayer mode because anyone could just jump in your game at any time and help you out. You also learn a lot of tips and tricks from them. Then again if they just annoy you you do have the option to boot them out of your game.

With all games there are of course some issues. For instance trying to take a shortcut over a large hill rather than going around it will sometimes find you stuck, or that gap between the fence and stairs will send you suddenly to your death. I find the game play was so much fun that the little things that annoyed me were very pale in comparison. There are some other little glitches, some of them so easy you can’t help but wonder if the programmers did it on purpose. For instance, with an especially expensive or all around awesome weapon equipped, holding down your left trigger, then holding down Y and then holding down right trigger (so they are all held down at once at the end) you drop your weapon, and a duplicate of it. This is a particularly nice “glitch” when you need more money (duplicate, sell, repeat) or when you want to save on the costly price of repairing your weapons (duplicate and save weapon that is at 100%).

All in all I absolutely LOVED this game. The story line is terrific, even including a rather unique reason how the whole zombie thing began. But I suggest you play yourself and try it out. This is definitely a game I recommend to anyone over 18 (there IS a lot of blood and gore!)

Lionsgate Brings “Dead Island” to Life on the Big Screen

LIONSGATE BRINGS DEAD ISLAND TO LIFE ON THE BIG SCREEN

Feature Film Adaptation Of Deep Silver’s Zombie Sensation In Development At The Studio

Santa Monica, CA, September 27, 2011– LIONSGATE® (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, today announced that it has optioned film rights from Deep Silver to develop a feature inspired by Dead Island, which became a viral media sensation when its haunting, artful trailer launched in February 2011.  The announcement was made by Lionsgate’s co-COO and Motion Picture Group President Joe Drake.

Dead Island is a global brand first introduced through a teaser trailer that told the story of a family on vacation at a tropical resort who is besieged by zombies.  Told in a stark, non-linear fashion, the wrenching trailer captured worldwide fan attention and unanimous critical praise upon its debut, receiving over one million hits in its first 24 hours online, and nearly 10 million views by two days after its debut.  Wired Magazine, College Humor and G4TV all called it the best video game trailer of all time, with G4TV adding “The Dead Island trailer is the best trailer I have ever seen in my life.  The best video game trailer.  The best movie trailer. The best anything trailer.”  The trailer went on to win the Golden Lion in Cannes at the International Festival of Creativity, the advertising industry’s highest honor, and it was featured by Adweek on their annual list of the World’s Best Commercials.

The video game Dead Island was published by Deep Silver for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.  It was released in the United States on September 6th, 2011 and was the number one selling game both in the U.S. and the U.K. upon its local releases.  The game has sold over two million units to date.

The game centers on vacationers whose island paradise becomes a living hell when a zombie outbreak quickly spreads.  Cut off from the rest of the world, the survivors have only the available materials and the island’s natural “weapons” to protect themselves from the vicious and growing legions of the undead.  In addition to the award-winning trailer and video game, the Dead Island intellectual property will be simultaneously developed by Deep Silver into forthcoming graphic novels, novels and other extensions.

Like the trailer that will serve as its primary creative inspiration, the film DEAD ISLAND will be an innovation of the zombie genre because of its focus on human emotion, family ties and non-linear storytelling.  Said Drake of the property’s acquisition, “Like the hundreds of journalists and millions of fans who were so passionate and vocal about the Dead Island trailer, we too were awestruck.”  He continued, “This is exactly the type of property we’re looking to adapt at Lionsgate – it’s sophisticated, edgy, and a true elevation of a genre that we know and love.  It also has built in brand recognition around the world, and franchise potential.”

The film DEAD ISLAND is currently in the early development stage with producers attached.  Sean Daniel (THE MUMMY, TOMBSTONE, DAZED AND CONFUSED) will spearhead production through his Sean Daniel Company.  A veteran producer with global franchises under his belt, Daniel is to be joined in producing by Stefan Sonnenfeld, who has been a pioneer in the post production field, using the process as a platform to create a unique visual brand with directors including J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay and Gore Verbinski.  Jason Brown of The Sean Daniel Company and Missy Papageorge for Sonnenfeld’s Sunny Field Productions are executive producing, with Sarah Perlman of Sunny Field Productions serving as co-producer.

Alli Shearmur, Lionsgate’s President of Motion Picture Production and Development is overseeing the project at the studio, with Jim Miller, SVP of Production and Development.  Rob McEntegart, Senior EVP of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group, negotiated the deal with Deep Silver’s U.S. attorney Ed Labowitz.

About Lionsgate 

Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution and new channel platforms.  The Company has built a strong television presence in production of prime time cable and broadcast network series, distribution and syndication of programming through Debmar-Mercury and an array of channel assets. Lionsgate currently has 15 shows on more than 10 networks spanning its prime time production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as “Mad Men”, “Weeds” and “Nurse Jackie” along with  the comedy “Blue Mountain State, ” the upcoming drama “Boss” and the syndication successes “Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne”, its spinoff “Meet The Browns”,  the upcoming “For Better or Worse,” “The Wendy Williams Show” and “Are We There Yet?”.

Its feature film business has generated more than half a billion dollars at the North American box office in the past year, fueled by such successes as THE LINCOLN LAWYER, TYLER PERRY’S MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY, THE EXPENDABLES, which was #1 at the North American box office for two weeks, THE LAST EXORCISM, TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO?, KICK ASS and the critically-acclaimed PRECIOUS, which won two Academy Awards®. The Company’s home entertainment business has grown to more than 8% market share and is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 13,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate brand remains synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.

For more information visit www.lionsgate.com

About The Game “Dead Island”

Dead Island™, the gruesome zombie action game with RPG elements by renowned developer Techland, combines first-person action with a heavy focus on melee combat, character development and customization of a vast array of weapons.  All of these gameplay features are presented in a dark story inspired by classic zombie movies with a gritty and engrossing campaign that can be played with up to four players in co-op mode.

Set in an open world tropical island, hordes of different festering zombies await players around every corner while they embark on a variety of thrilling missions through the holiday resort.  With firearms and ammunition being scarce the player must rely on discovering and utilizing items as weapons for self-defense and fighting off zombie hordes in intense melee combat.  A diverse range of items can be collected and will later serve to transform the player’s ordinary makeshift weapons into serious instruments of destruction.

Dead Island was released worldwide for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC.

Official website: www.deadisland.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/deadislandgame

Twitter: http://twitter.com/deadislandgame

About Deep Silver

Deep Silver, a division of Koch Media GmbH, develops and distributes interactive games for all platforms.  The Deep Silver label means to captivate all gamers who have a passion for thrilling gameplay in exciting game worlds.  Deep Silver works with its partners to achieve a maximum of success while maintaining the highest possible quality, always focusing on what the customer desires.  Deep Silver products are designed to equally appeal to pros and beginners, children and adults.

Deep Silver has published more than 100 games since 2003, including own brands like the action role-playing game Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, successful adventures such as the Secret Files series and Lost Horizon, the role-playing game Risen and well-known licenses like the Chernobyl shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky and Prison Break: The Conspiracy, the action adventure based on the popular TV series. Deep Silver has announced more upcoming highlights such as Risen 2, the sequel to the hit RPG, and Sacred 3. For more information please visit www.deepsilver.com

Koch Media is a leading producer and distributor of digital entertainment products (software, games and films). The company’s own publishing activities, marketing and distribution extend throughout Europe and the USA. The Koch Media group has more than 15 years of experience in the digital media distribution business, and has risen to become the number one distributor in Europe.  It has also formed strategic alliances with numerous games and software publishers: Capcom, Codemasters, Kaspersky Labs, Paradox Entertainment, Square Enix, Tecmo-Koei, and System 3 etc. in various European countries. With Headquarters in Planegg near Munich/Germany, Koch Media owns branches in Germany, England, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Nordic regions, Benelux and the USA. www.kochmedia.com

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