Concert Review: Wizards of Winter “The Magic of Winter” – Syracuse, NY

“The Magic of Winter”
Wizards of Winter
Date: Sunday, December 27th 2015
Venue: The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater
Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The Tri-State area based Wizard of Winter brought their own unique brand of holiday cheer to the Syracuse, NY area on December 27th as part of the group’s 2015 “Magic of Winter” tour. The night proved to be a great extension of the Christmas holiday as the night’s performance took you on a magical music adventure which made for a very enjoyable concert experience.

With this being the groups first time in Syracuse anticipation was certainly high as concert goers filled in the seats at the multi tiered Crouse Hinds Theater. The show began promptly at 8pm as the band kicked off their impressive 26 song performance with a song from their debut album “The Magic of Winter” titled “Flight of the Snow Angels”, a fitting opening number which set the stage perfectly for the rest of the night’s performance. Former Trans-Siberian Orchestra narrator Tony Gaynor would take the stage several times painting a vivid picture of the upcoming number which helped those in attendance sink deeper into the spirit of the night’s performance though, I personally found these moments (which also included a 15 minute intermission) to sort of halt the night’s momentum as it seemed like the band would no sooner start to get in a groove only to have it broken up by brief pieces of commentary. All of the members of the group put on stellar performances including several standout moments by former Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Guy LeMonnier, Violin/Vocalist Natalia Niarezka and lead guitarist Fred Gorhau who blazed his way through intricate solo after solo without missing a beat. Songs such as “Ebeneezer” Savatage’s “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”, “Season’s Lament” and the upbeat “Gales of December” sounded really great as they made their way into every nook and cranny of the theater prolonging the Christmas holiday just a touch longer.

As the night’s performance came to a close the Syracuse crowd seemed pleased with the show they had just witnessed. As the band left the stage the crowd thanked the performers with a heavy blanket of applause which the performers seemed very appreciative of. With such a good response from the groups Syracuse debut my hope is they continue to make stops in Orangeman country for many more holiday season to come.

Set List:
1.) Flight of the Snow Angels
2.) Magic of Winter
3.) Arctic Flyer
4.) Special Feeling
5.) First Snow (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
6.) A Night of Reflection
7.) Sing Alleluia/ 3 Ships
8.) Once Long Ago
9.) 3 Kings
10.) Nutrocker (Electric Light Orchestra cover)
11.) Ebeneezer
12.) Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Savatage cover)
13.) March of the Metal Soldiers
14.) Season’s Lament
15.) Just Believe
16.) Gales of December
17.) Whoville
18.) Waken to the Sound
19.) Toys will be Toys
20.) The Journey
21.) Queen of the Winter Night (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
22.) Electric Blue (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
23.) Little Help (Joe Cocker cover)
24.) Spirit of Christmas
25.) Requiem (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
26.) With One Voice

Wizards of Winter’s Fred Gorhau talks about album “The Magic of Winter”

Fred Gorhau is the guitarist for the NY, NJ, and PA metro area band The Wizards of Winter. The group which formed in 2010 has strong classical and progressive rock influences features several former Trans Siberian Orchestra members. The group recently released their second full length album titled “The Magic of Winter” which is a continuation of the groups 2014 self titled release. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Frank recently about the new album, the group’s ties to the Trans Siberian Orchestra and the bands upcoming holiday tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the group’s initial formation?
Frank Gorhau: We all come from different backgrounds. Me personally I come from a rock and heavy metal background. The group was put together by our keyboardist Scott Kelly, his wife Sharon and Steve Ratchen the bass player. The whole concept behind the group was there was a food pantry in the area that needed help. Scott and company wanted to do something so they decided to put a band together. The first year they were performing they did strictly Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) music. I joined the group in the second year when things really started picking up. People were asking where they could get our music and there really wasn’t a place. We decided we better do a CD so we did and now we are just releasing our second album. We have some former members of TSO appearing on the album and have had the chance to tour with 5 former members thus far. It’s great to be able to get together and do something that has grown exponentially. The group has gone from being a TSO tribute act to performing 20 of our own original songs with just a couple TSO classics thrown in for the member of that group who our now playing with us. We are doing a holiday rock concert of our own so it’s fitting to throw in some of those great TSO pieces.

AL: You recently started working with Jonny Z and Chuck Billy how did that partnership come about?
FG: I think Jon had seen some things from us and he reached out to me while we were on the road last year. He asked me for my info which I jumped at right away because Jon’s pedigree speaks for himself. We spoke and he asked if we had any video of a full show. Sadly I did not have any pro-shot material at the time. He really wanted to see our full show and as luck would have it he happened to be in Philadelphia when we were playing in nearby Easton, PA. The show was sold out and from there one thing just led to another. He started Breaking Bands with Chuck Billy and Maria Ferrero and they have been making things happen for us quite a bit this year. We are super excited and can’t wait to get out there.

AL: What can you tell us about the new album which came out earlier this month?
FG: I think “The Magic of Winter” is sort of a continuation of our first album. I am really happy with my playing on this record and our producer Eric Rachel did a fantastic job on things. It’s a really great sounding record. Tony Gaynor who was the original announcer for TSO does a great job not only announcing the song but tying the story in with everything. The story acts as this metaphorical train which takes the listeners from one place to another as it looks into various people lives during the holiday season. At first I wasn’t too sure of the story line and how it would all work but after seeing how it affects our fans and having some of those fans come up to me crying after the show really meant a lot. The album was a lot of fun and with it being the holiday season people can get emotionally involved with this release. We try to address all aspects of the holidays both happy and sad with our songs. We know that sometimes the holidays can be difficult for people and we do try to address that. I think people appreciate at that as it shows that they might not be the only ones with those feelings at this time of year.

AL: Were you more involved with the creation of the new album as compared to the previous when you were still relatively new to the group?
FG: I did play on the whole first album but only really had my hands in a couple of the songs. Most of the stuff was already there and I just put my spin on things. With “The Magic of Winter” I was intimately involved with the writing and arranging. We started putting all this stuff together in March or April so to have it all done for a November release is pretty good. There was a lot of good feedback that happened during the creation of this project and I am just super happy and proud of what we came up with in such a short time.

AL: How does the writing process work for the group being that there are quite a few members in the group?
FG: If there is one person more than any that brings in material I would have to say it is Scott. He comes up with a lot of ideas just sort playing around. Scott and I work well together whether we are retooling a traditional Christmas song or working on a new piece of material. Everyone brings something to the table. All twelve of us don’t normally get together to write but there is a core four or five that do work together and throw ideas back and forth. From there we bring the more solid ideas to the rest of the group and share with them what we think would benefit the track. It’s just been a really great experience.

AL: Having a history that is really entrenched with pieces of the Trans Siberian Orchestra be it through starting as a TSO tribute band to recruiting former TSO members, how do you go about differentiating those similarities from your own material?
FG: We are definitely similar and that’s not something I am going to pretend we are not. We started as a TSO tribute, our name comes from a TSO song. I wear that on my sleeve as sort of a badge of honor. I am a fan and to get to know these guys as friends now is something very special to me. We do have some differences in that we don’t take as much of the traditional Christmas music and rework it with a modern spin. TSO has done quite of bit of that. I think a larger portion of our material has vocals too it where TSO is mostly instrumental. We try to have about a 60/40 split between songs with vocals and straight instrumentals. We try to keep things interesting for the listener without going too far outside of the normal song structure.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands current holiday tour run?
FG: We are bringing out a few new effects with us this tour to help enhance the stage show. We have changed up the storyline a little bit as we don’t want to keep doing the same thing year after year. We won’t be doing all of the new record but we will be doing somewhere between 5 and 6 songs from that. The idea of the show is that it all takes place within a snow globe and as the globe is shaken the scenes change. The new material is sounding really great live and I think people are going to really enjoy what we have in store for everyone this year.

CD Review: Motorhead “Black Magic”

“Black Magic”
Motorhead
UDR
Producer: Cameron Webb
Tracks: 13

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Motorhead the band that goes one louder brings you their latest studio offering “Bad Magic”. The album which was produced by Cameron Webb and released via UDR is the bands 22nd studio album and features 12 brand new tracks from the Lemmy Kilmister fronted group along with a unique cover of the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil”.

For me personally Motorhead ranks right up there as one of the most killer hard rock/heavy metal bands. Not only has the band been rattling speakers since the mid 70’s but they are one of the few solid acts from that era still putting out new music on a regular basis that still holds true to the bands original sound and style. “Bad Magic” is the latest offering from the band and sadly I just couldn’t get into the album. From a production standpoint the album is very tinny with little to no low end. At first I had thought something was wrong with my speakers but after about the 5th track I realized it was what it was. Though there were some notable performances such as the aggressive “Evil Eye” which features some great drumming by Mikkey Dee and the ballad like “Till the End” which contains an impressive solo from Mr. Phil Campbell other mentionable high points were few and far between.

Ultimate Motorhead fans will certainly want this for their collections because where else are you going to find Lemmy performing a Rolling Stones track? However if you’re a more casual listener or looking for a starting point in Motorhead’s impressive recording career I highly suggest starting at the beginning and working your way forward.

Track Listing:
1.) Victory or Die
2.) Thunder & Lightning
3.) Fire Storm Hotel
4.) Shoot Out All of Your Lights
5.) The Devil
6.) Electricity
7.) Evil Eye
8.) Teach Them How to Bleed
9.) Till the End
10.) Tell Me Who to Kill
11.) Choking on Your Screams
12.) When the Sky Comes Looking for You
13.) Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones Cover)

Enter to Win Tickets to “Disney On Ice – 100 Years of Magic” at Amway Center in Orlando, FL

To celebrate the arrival of Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt coming to the Amway Center in Orlando from September 4-6, 2015, Media Mikes would like to give our fans a chance to win a family four pack of tickets to this monumental ice skating spectacular. Please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Disney character. This giveaway will remain open until August 21st at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Audiences will be a part of the magic of Disney as Mouse-ter of Ceremonies Mickey Mouse leads a parade of more than 50 beloved characters starring Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and featuring an ensemble of Disney Princesses including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Ariel, Snow White and Tiana. The wintry wonderland of Disney’s Frozen also comes to life with Anna, Elsa, and the hilarious Olaf, as they discover that true love is the greatest magic of all. Exciting moments from Disney•Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Disney’s Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast will leave the whole family with memories to last a lifetime.

The legacy of Disney is displayed through 14 classic and modern stories in this epic production that features an international team of award-winning figure skaters, high-energy choreography and a breathtaking set. With over 30 melodious masterpieces such as “Let It Go!,” “You’ve Got A Friend in Me” and “Hakuna Matata,” Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic is the ultimate Disney fan experience.

Where: Amway Center, 400 West Church Street – Suite 200, Orlando, Florida 32801
Dates and Times of Performances:
Friday, September 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 5 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 6 at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices and Purchase:
Tickets start at $25. Also available at $30, $40, $60, $75 (VIP) and $100 (Rink side). (Ticketmaster service charges and facility fees not included.) All seats are reserved, and tickets are now on sale to the public. Tickets are available at www.DisneyOnIce.com or www.ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone for information only: 407-440-7900). For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.

Save $5 off per ticket with code MOM5. Not valid on VIP or Rink Side seating. Hurry for the best available seats! Code expires September 3, 2015.

For a complete list of tour dates, visit the Disney On Ice website (http://www.disneyonice.com) and stay current on the latest developments through social media:

Facebook (www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIce)
Twitter (@DisneyOnIce/@NicoleFeld (show’s producer twitter feed))
YouTube (www.youtube.com/DisneyOnIce)

ABOUT FELD ENTERTAINMENT
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz®, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt, Disney Live!

Blu-ray Review “Magic in the Moonlight”

Starring: Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Emma Stone, Jacki Weaver, Eileen Atkins, Erica Leerhsen
Director: Woody Allen
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Run Time: 97 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Every since “Midnight in Paris”, Woody Allen has been on fire. “Magic in the Moonlight” is the latest winner. The film is set in the south of France in the 1920s smack during the peak of the Jazz Age. The film starts Colin Firth anad Emma Stone, who are amazing in the film together. The film certainly lives up to the first word in its title and is quite enchanting. The music and shooting locations are just beautiful. This is easily another hit for Allen! Can’t wait to see what he has planned for 2015!

Official Premise: Acclaimed magician Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) dazzles his audiences with feats of supernatural amazement. But when it comes to the inexplicable, Stanley is a dedicated skeptic. Enter Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), psychic, soothsayer, and stunning seductress. As Stanley and Sophie embark on misadventures up and down the French Riviera, will they discover proof of a world beyond the laws of physics or have they fallen under the sway of a more earthly chemistry? Woody Allen pulls the strings with precision in this enchanting romantic comedy that explores the realm between what’s understood in our minds and what’s known in our hearts.

Sony Pictures Classics is releasing this as a combo pack with a Blu-ray and Digital HD copy. The 1080p transfer is solid for this Blu-ray. It really captures the look and feel of the 1920’s from the costumes to the settings. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works great with the film’s music, which I loved. The special features are a little light on the magic. There is a making-of featurette called “Behind the Magic”. The only other extras is “On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere”.

Vinyl LP Review “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – Princess Celestia”

“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – Princess Celestia”
Princess Celestia Variant Edition
Vinyl LP
Limited Edition
Tracks: 14
Label: Spacelab9

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This Hot Topic Exclusive Vinyl LP is a “best of” collection by composer Daniel Ingram including fan favorite tracks from the hit series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” such as “The Gala Song,” “Love Is In Bloom” and “Becoming Popular.” This specific LP is an exclusive Princess Celestia picture disc and includes two bonus tracks. There is also a Princess Luna Variant Edition available as wel. This is a Limited edition release, so if you are a die-hard “”My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” fan you should make you way to the closest Hot Topic ASAP!

My daughter absolutely loved seeing this picture disc, she kept flipping it over and looking double sided images. I was a little disappointed that the fun and catchy theme song was not on this record. “May the Best Pet Win” is definitely a fun track though. “Apples to the Core” and “Babs Seed” are the two included exclusive bonus tracks. The songs sound great and are well represented here. Lastly, this only comes in a plastic see through sleeve, like most Hot Topic exclusives. I would have loved to see then get a nice cover jacket. Still a great buy!

Side A
Twilight’s Failure Song
Love is in Bloom
The Flim Flam Cider Song
Becoming Popular
May the Best Pet Win
Art of the Dress
Ballad of the Crystal Ponies

Side B
Find a Way
Raise this Barn
The Laughter Song
At the Gala
Make a Wish
Apples to the Core*
Babs Seed*

DVD Review “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Season 4”

Actors: Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Cathy Weseluck
Directors: Jayson Thiessen
Number of discs: 4
Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Release Date: December 2, 2014
Run Time: 600 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Having a two year old daughter, I have to admit that I watch quite a bit of “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic”. She is completely obsessed with the show and its characters. As a “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) fan it was great to see cameos by John DeLancy (aka Q from “Star Trek: TNG”). The show is very colorful and features some really fun songs. This season was totally about 20% cooler than season 3. A fifth season is currently into the works for 2015.

Official Premise: Twilight Sparkle may be a princess now, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have fun! Join Twilight and her very best friends (Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Spike) as they continue to have the absolute best adventures in all of Equestria!

This four-disc DVD set features all 26 episodes from the fourth season of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. I still waitch that this show was released on Blu-ray like the “Equestrian Girls” movies. There are also some decent bonus features included. There is a recording of the 2014 San Diego Comic Con Pony Panel, which is not really for the kiddies but definitely for the old Pony fans. There are also some Sing-Alongs from the season’s songs.

3D Blu-ray Review “Thunder and The House of Magic”

Starring: Cinda Adams, Edward Asner, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen
Directors: Ben Stassen, Jeremie Degruson
Distributed: Shout! Factory
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Running Time: 85 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“Thunder and The House of Magic” is the latest family movie from the directors Ben Stassen and Jeremie Degruson, who are behind other international films like “A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventure” and “Fly Me to the Moon”. This film has a fantastic original music by composer Ramin Djawadi (“Game of Thrones”) and also from pop-star Selena Gomez. The film is clever and the visuals are definitely easy on the eyes, though the story does deliver much magic. Kids would definitely dig it and parents should be able to stomach it.

Official Premise: Thunder, an abandoned young cat seeking shelter from a storm, stumbles into the strangest house imaginable, owned by an old magician and inhabited by a dazzling array of automatons and gizmos. Thunder must learn how to get along with the other animals living there. When the magician gets into a car accident, however, the pets must join forces against an evil nephew who tries to sell his house.

Shout! Factory delivered this film with a two-disc Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack (including a Blu-ray 3D and 2D, DVD and digital copy). The digital copy though is outdated since it is not through Ultraviolet. The 3D in the film is great and executed very well with otherwise impressive depth. The DTS-HD Master Audio track also works well with the film’s music.

This release is currently only available exclusively at Walmart stores everywhere. There are some special features included but nothing special. “Origins” is a look into the how the film was born. “Character Animation” looks into the style used to create these fluffy stars. “The Making of the Soundtrack” dives into the tunes for the film. Lastly there is a teaser and trailer included.

Product Review “Disney Pop-Up Magic Frozen Game”

Since “Frozen” was released last November in theaters, it has flown out of the theaters and take over ever market in the world. “Disney Pop-Up Magic Frozen Game” is the latest game featuring the hit film from Hasbro Gaming. There is nothing special about the game but it is quite fun. It is also very easy for young kids. I have a two year old daughter and she is easily about to play. You have a got a spinner, you move spaces on a board and there is a side game of memory as a bonus. The game board is very “pretty” (in the words of my daughter) with with a pop-up ice palace right in the center.

You can play as Anna, Elsa or Olaf. The little pieces are cute as well. They are fairly detailed and I have a feeling might end up being played it outside of the game as well. Plus with this game you can expand the fun! You can connect the game board to other Pop-Up Magic games (sold separately) to create a longer path to follow. It is actually really cool because you can merge your favorite character with your other favorite Disney characters to create some exciting adventures. So this is a really great feature for a game that is already very reasonable priced. This is a going to be a weekly must play for our family!

DVD Review “Ella the Elephant Season 1 Volume 1: The Magic of Friendship”

Voices of: Addison Holley, Annick Obonsawin, Avery Kadish, Devan Cohen, Helen Taylor
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Run Time: 188 Minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Ella the Elegant Elephant” premiered on Disney Junior this past February, which is based on the book series written by Carmela D’Amico and illustrated by Steven D’Amico. I would like to say that I absolutely love this series but my daughter never really latched on to the show. It is cute following Ella the Elephant and her magical red hat through stories about fun, friendship, love and laughs but the show just didn’t stand a chance about others like “Sofia the First”, “Doc McStuffins” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”. It is still hard to say no to that cute face and who knows maybe this DVD will allow us to become bigger fans of this show.

Official Premise: Journey to an island of adventures where the magic of friendship has never been so much fun! Join Ella and her kindhearted friends in this all-new animated series featuring eight charming episodes. Elephant Island is home to many curiosities but Ella and her friends’ appetite for fun lands them in some tricky, often hilarious situations. It’s up to Ella’s imagination and her magic red hat to save the day! It’s a must-own collection of delightful stories centered on highlighting teamwork, lessons and adventure for the whole family to enjoy.

“Ella the Elephant Season 1 Volume 1: The Magic of Friendship” contains eight episodes from the seires including: “Ella’s Got Talent/Safety First”; “Trunk Trooper/Ella in Charge”; “Girls’ Club/Soapbox Squabble”; “Treasure Hunters/Ella Borrows Trouble”; “Ella Bakes a Cake/Camp Ella”; “Ella on the Ball/Up, Up and Away”; “Tea Party Trouble/Home Again” and “Ella’s Carnival/Monkey Business”. There are no other special features included on the DVD other than the episodes. With 26 episodes created for the first season, we can surely expect another two volumes of this show to complete the season.

“My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: The Keys Of Friendship” DVD Giveaway [ENDED]

To celebrate the DVD release of “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: The Keys Of Friendship”, Mikes is excited to giveaway FIVE (5) copies 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 Pony. This giveaway will remain open until August 15th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Ponies make the best friends! With that in mind, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: The Keys Of Friendship is coming to DVD on July 29 in the U.S. and Canada from Shout! Factory Kids in collaboration with Hasbro Studios. The 5 episodes include “Rarity Takes Manhattan,” “Pinkie Apple Pie,” “It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies,” “Twilight’s Kingdom, Part 1,” and “Twilight’s Kingdom, Part 2.” A fun sing-along is included as a bonus feature.

Since her arrival in Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle has learned the true meaning and value of friendship. With her very best friends — Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Fluttershy and, of course, Spike — Twilight goes on the greatest of adventures and comes back with even more lessons. All of this has earned Twilight her wings and the crown of a Princess and now you can learn what Princess Twilight Sparkle has learned and take with you The Keys Of Friendship.

Ashleigh Ball talks about film “A Brony Tale” and her role in “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”

Ashleigh Ball is known best for voicing both Applejack and Rainbow Dash in the TV series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. She is also narrating and starring in the similar themed documentary “A Brony Tale”, which focuses on the male fan-base surrounding the TV series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashleigh about the documentary and the new season of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”

Mike Gencarelli: Being the voice of both voice Applejack and Rainbow Dash; give us your reaction on this enormous fandom surrounding “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”?
Ashleigh Ball: It is something that I would have never anticipated. There is no way to prepare yourself for something like this. It is very cool to get recognition for doing voice work. It is also very cool that it is a totally unexpected group of people. So it is all weird and wonderful and I love it.

MG: How did you meet up with Brent Hodge to narrate and star in “A Brony Tale”?
AB: Brent and I have known each other for a while now going back to 2008/2009. We met through music. He used to work at CBC Radio 3 and did some interviews with my band Hey Ocean! and we got to know each other that way. We became close and he was always willing to help out with the band. So we were out to dinner one day and we had this discussion about Bronies. I told him he should come to BronyCon with me and start filming this because it would make a really cool documentary. So he agreed and followed me around and got a taste of the Brony life.

MG: Was BronyCon your first interactions with Bronies?
AB: My first interaction was actually caught on film. You can find it on YouTube. Brent also put the clip of me in the film as well. It was at a concert that I played in Vancouver. I was playing a show with my band and afterwards a group of guys came to the merchandise booth and asked me to sign their ponies. They were Bronies and they came all the way from Seattle. So that was the first time I met a Brony in person…and definitely not the last time!

MG: Do you think that this film will have an impact for these fans?
AB: Yeah. I think it is a great introduction into the world of Bronies. It explains who they are and what they stand for. It is way more of a community than the actual series. It is a good for someone who is not familiar with Bronies and think it is weird or perverted. It definitely clears up the whole Brony mystique.

MG: How did the film get support from Morgan Spurlock?
AB: Yeah, it was pretty crazy. Brent worked for a company in San Francisco and was at a Super Bowl party and Morgan was there. They told them about he was doing a documentary about Bronies. Morgan loved the idea, watched the film and called the next day and wanted to be involved. He is really excited about the film and the subject matter. I got to meet him in NY and he is a very cool guy.

MG: Season four of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” just ended but I am sure that fans are looking forward to season five already; any news from that?
AB: Yeah, we are in the process right now of recording season five. It is great. I can’t tell much about the episodes, but it is going to be very great. Lots of cool music and plot twist. Yeah, it is going to be great. It has such great writing and it is a wonderful show to be a part of.

DVD Review “Magic Magic”

Actors: Michael Cera, Juno Temple, Emily Browning
Directors: Sebastián Silva
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Run Time: 97 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

“Magic Magic” has seemed to completely slipped through my radar this year. It packs an impressive young cast including Juno Temple (“The Dark Knight”), Emily Browning (“Sucker Punch”) and Michael Cera (“Superbad”) in his most interesting role to date. Cera delivers the creeps and does a damn good job doing it. This psychological thriller really keeps you on your toes and hits when you don’t expect it. You definitely get this uncomfortable feeling through the whole film, which I did enjoy. I would recommend this for sure as a rainy weekend renter.

Official Premise: Award-Winning Chilean director, Sebastián Silva, invites you on this thrilling journey to the deepest reaches of your darkest fears. In a foreign country, far from home, Alicia (Juno Temple) arrives in South America to vacation with her cousin, Sarah (Emily Browning). When Sarah is suddenly called away, Alicia is stuck on a remote island off Chile with three of Sarah’s friends, including Barbara (Catalina Sandino Moreno) and Brink (Michael Cera), an American exchange student with a sadistic streak. Bewildered, frightened, and unable to sleep, Alicia’s reality becomes a nightmare from which there is no waking. Ancient indigenous rites, disturbing animal behavior, and captivating hypnotic trances come together in an intense exploration into the darkest corners… when the games go too far, reality unravels with astonishing and deadly consequences.

I wasn’t aware of the work of director, Sebastián Silva prior to this film but I will be keeping an eye out for him more now. In fact, I am actually shocked that this film was never released in theaters after its critically successful debut at Sundance this past January. Sony also only chose to release this film on DVD and skipped a Blu-ray release, not sure why. But I feel this could have benefited from a high-def surround track with its eerie score. In terms of special features, there is an exclusive to the DVD featurette included, “The “Making Magic Magic””, which gives a look into the production.

DVD Review “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Season Two”

Actors: Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain
Directors: Jayson Thiessen
Number of discs: 4
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Run Time: 570 minutes

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

Season two is a very important season for “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. If you are not aware but this show is a cultural phenomenon. After the first season of this show, it developed quite the following and it wasn’t just little girls. Bronies formed, which are male fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. There has been conventions like BronyCon and this show has really exploded and became very popular. It is also the last season that was under Lauren Faust as the creative director and executive producer for the show.  I see why people enjoy this show and I am sure that my daughter will love this show as she grows up.

Official Premise: The studious Twilight Sparkle may have learned the true meaning and value of friendship through the amazing bonds she’s formed with every pony in Ponyville, but the lessons keep on coming! Join Twilight Sparkle and her friends – Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and little Spike – as they embark on one crazy adventure after another, leading to the greatest wedding Equestria’s ever seen. And you’re invited!

Shout! Factory has been behind this series since day one and has delivered great releases. I would have love to see this show get a nice Blu-ray release though since it is very colorful and is already shot for HD. The special features included on this season are decent but nothing amazing. There is a live stage reading for “Hearth’s Warming Eve”. There is the cast panel from San Diego Comic-Con 2012. Lastly there are sing-alongs for the kids and downloadable coloring sheets included. I would have loved to seen more focus on the fan base and on the production side but hardcore fans should still enjoy what is here.

Blu-ray Review “Magic Journey to Africa”

Actors: Eva Gerretsen, Raymond Mvula
Directors: Jordi Llompart
Rated: Unrated
Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
DVD Release Date: April 23, 2013
Run Time: 49 minutes

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

Every year when Earth Day comes around, I always find myself in the mood to watch documentary films like “Magic Journey to Africa”. I never had the privilege of seeing this film in theaters, where it was made for giant-screen format theaters and presented in 3D. Unfortunately, The Blu-ray does not included the 3D transfer of the film. You can tell that this film was shot with that added depth and feels like it is lacking that magic on this Blu-ray release. Nonetheless, it is still fun for the whole family to enjoy, it runs less than an hour so you might want to consider that as well.

Official Premise: A magical and extraordinary world opens before your eyes in this dazzling giant-screen spectacle. On the wings of imagination, an adventure-loving young girl finds herself exploring the mysteries and amazing wildlife of untamed Africa! Spectacular aerial photography captures lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras and a multitude of strange and magnificent animals. The breathtaking landscape pulses with life – the lush rainforests, untouched coastline, ancient red sand dunes and even the culture of a remote native village. A fantastic journey awaits your whole family in a place like no other, a place where dreams and magic come alive.

Image delivered the Blu-ray release in 2D only but it still packs a very sharp 1080p transfer   I sure that this would have looked amazing on the big screen since it was film in that format but still very impressive for a Blu-ray. The audio included is a very nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.  When it comes to these nature documentaries, the score is always very important to drive the story and it succeeds here.  In terms of special features, there are three  making of documentaries with bonus behind-the-scenes footage and trailers included. It may not be a lot but it is still quite impressive in terms of quality.