CD Review: Alestorm “No Grave But the Sea”

“No Grave But The Sea”
Alestorm
Napalm Records
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Ahoy, mateys! Gather ‘round for Alestorm’s 5th full-length album: “No Grave But The Sea”! An adventure filled to the brim with awesome pirate tales and party tunes from this trusted metal band. The album’s 10 new tracks contain a lot of what we know and love from Alestorm, but with some new added flair. There are plenty of great metal jams throughout, with just as many anthems and catchy choruses. The album embraces more use of harsh vocals on some tracks, blending them together with frontman Captain Chris Bowes’ great piratey vocals he’s known for.

Alestorm stays fun with jams like “Mexico”, which has a hilarious video, “Pegleg Potion”, and as to be expected their rager “Alestorm,” which is also a great blend of old and new in the band’s sound. Anthems are also present on songs like the title track and one of my new favorite Alestorm songs: “Treasure Island.” The whole albums leads you to an almost 8 minute long epic pirate metal masterpiece that has to be blowing out your speakers this summer.

Fans will love these songs paired with the rest of the band’s back catalog, adding more tales to the metal pirate journey. At some points the pirate tales begin to sound the same, but the band does a great job at really emphasizing on the newer additions. “No Grave But The Sea” is a ton of fun and definitely worth checking out. You can also catch Alestorm on Vans Warped Tour this summer!

Track Listing:
1.) No Grave But The Sea
2.) Mexico
3.) To the End of the World
4.) Alestorm
5.) Bar und Imbiss
6.) Fucked with an Anchor
7.) Pegleg Potion
8.) Man the Pumps
9.) Rage of the Pentahook
10.) Treasure Island

Blu-ray Review “Manchester By The Sea”

Actors: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges
Directors: Kenneth Lonergan
Rated: R
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Run Time: 137 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Manchester By The Sea” is a very rare film that I was unable to finish. I made it halfway through this film twice but I cannot finish it. I couldn’t stand it from the moment it started. This doesn’t mean that the acting isn’t good. Casey Affleck definitely did a great job. Was he better than Denzel Washington in “Fences”? No way! People have loved this movie I am sure but I am not one of them and its not the first time I heard someone else say that they couldn’t finish it either. Congrats to Amazon Studios but I will take a pass on this.

Official Premise: Casey Affleck heads a powerhouse cast in this acclaimed and deeply moving film from award-winning writer-director Kenneth Lonergan. After a solitary Boston janitor (Affleck) unexpectedly becomes the sole guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, he must come to terms with a past that separated him from his wife (Michelle Williams) and his hometown, as uncle and nephew unite for an unforgettable journey of love, community, sacrifice, and hope.

The Blu-ray presentation are solid but at the same time nothing special. The 1080p transfer doesn’t have any visual aspect that wowed me very much at all. It looks good though. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sounds good with the music and score but again nothing groundbreaking. The special features are rather weak as well. There is a “A Conversation with Director / Writer Kenneth Lonergan”, which is more like an audio commentary but I didn’t listen much there. There is also an EPK “Emotional Lives: Making Manchester by the Sea” and some deleted scenes included.

Kansas City Film Critics Name “Manchester by the Sea” the Best Film of 2016 During Presentation of 51st Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards

Manchester by the Sea was chosen as the Best Film of 2016 by the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the second oldest critics group in the country. MediaMikes film critics Michael Smith and Jeremy Werner are members of the group. Smith also serves as the groups secretary and is a member of the governing board. The film was also recognized with the Robert Altman Award for Direction and the film’s star, Casey Affleck, was chosen as the year’s Best Actor. The winners were announced today during a ceremony for the 51st Annual James Loutzenhiser Awards at the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet Theatre in Kansas City.

Manchester by the Sea led all films with three wins, while Arrival, Hell or High Water and Moonlight each received two awards. Natalie Portman was named Best Actress for her portrayal of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie while Jeff Bridges was awarded Best Supporting Actor for his work as a grizzled Texas Ranger in Hell or High Water. For the 13th time at least one category resulted in a tie when Viola Davis (Fences) and Naomie Harris (Moonlight) tied in the Best Supporting Actress category. Zootopia was named the year’s Best Animated Feature.

This year the group also awarded the inaugural Tom Poe Award for Best LGBT Film. A beloved associate professor of film and media arts in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Poe, who passed away in November at the age of 70, was a long-time member of the Critics Circle. His reviews were inevitably astute and well-informed yet just as naturally considered and kind, in keeping with his sympathies for both filmmaker and audience. It was Poe’s belief that “great film reviews give rise to thinking about films.” As such, he supported many members of KCFCC through encouragement and dialogue. Tom Poe was our colleague and friend, and it is our intention that this annual award honor his legacy as an advocate for LGBT rights and promote his desire for justice by way of accurate and beneficial representation. The inaugural recipient is Moonlight.

The full list of winners is below:

BEST FILM

Manchester by the Sea

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

BEST ACTOR

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

BEST ACTRESS

Natalie Portman – Jackie

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Viola Davis – Fences and Naomie Harris – Moonlight

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Eric Heisserer – Arrival

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Handmaiden – South Korea

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

OJ: Made in America

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Zootopia

VINCE KOEHLER AWARD FOR BEST SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY or HORROR FILM

Arrival

TOM POE AWARD FOR BEST LGBT FILM

Moonlight

Film Review “In the Heart of the Sea”

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker and Cillian Murphy
Directed By: Ron Howard
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 121 minutes
Warner Bros. Pictures

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

I’m sure like most American children who enter the public education system, there came a point in your schooling that you had to read or were told you need to read “Moby Dick”. It’s a tale of revenge, obsession, and camaraderie, but one I barely remember. I’m actually not certain if I’ve read it or if I’ve ever watched the myriad of movies that have been created in its wake. I guess you could say that’s a same since it’s considered an American literary classic. After watching Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea” I can easily say it’s a shame it’s not going to be a classic.

What immediately separates “In the Heart of the Sea” from other “Moby Dick” tales is that Howard’s film is about the events that inspired Herman Melville’s novel. So say goodbye to the insane Captain Ahab, the curious Ishmael and the stoic Queequeg, and welcome your new narrator, Thomas Nickerson. The story is framed by the aged and rustic Nickerson, played by Brendan Gleeson (and Tom Holland in the past). Nickerson recounts the tale of the whaling ship, Essex, to the aspiring author, Melville (Ben Whishaw).

Despite being from the viewpoint of the young cabin boy, we recount much of the past through the life of Owen Chase (Hemsworth). He’s a young, but experienced whaler who’s attempting to establish the Chase name and put the failed farming past of his father behind him. He’s the first officer of the Essex, but may as well be the leader. Chase scowls behind Captain George Pollard Jr. (Walker), but Pollard scowls back, fearing that Chase’s presence is a threat to his young career as Captain.

The crew of the Essex sails off to warmer seas to find whale oil riches, but come up dry. While recharging and metaphorically refueling in a small South American village on the west coast of the continent, they hear rumors of a treasure trove of whales. There are two problems with this hearsay. The aquatic gold mine is thousands of miles away from land, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The other problem is a disturbing tale about a massive whale with a thirst for man’s blood and an axe to grind.

“In the Heart of the Sea” is one part historical events, one part embellished action sequences, and one part that can only be described as the Donner Party meets the Uruguayan Rugby team. Each part, in its own regard, is very interesting pieces to the cinematic puzzle, but Howard can seem to put them together. It’s a three act tale that handles different themes and tones, but the transitions between them feel unnatural and glaringly bad.

“In the Heart of the Sea” finds entertainment when it relies on the strength of its actors and captures the feeling of isolation amongst the crisp, calm sea. Our character’s plight is diminished by Nickerson’s interjections and Meville’s follow-up questions to the story at hand. As for the monstrous whale that always becomes the focal point of these movies, it’s well handled. It’s a classic man vs. nature, without nature running amok and becoming too unbelievable. In a sea of movies hoping to become Oscar contenders, Howard’s latest movie can only compete at the JV level.

Book Review “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Sailing the Never Sea”

Author: Marcy Kelman
Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Board book: 12 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: July 1, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”, our family can never get enough! AHOY!!! Thankfully Disney is keeping up with our appetite with great new releases. “Sailing the Never Sea” is the latest book, which is such fun for kids and adults and I also love the way it is shaped. It may be something so simple as a design that just makes a book so much more enjoyable and this a must have for all families.

Official Premise: It’s anchors away when that sneaky snook Captain Hook nabs Bucky’s brand new golden anchor. Jake and the crew will need some help from some finned friends to get the anchor back in a quest that takes them across the high seas.

Disney has really scored with this series and with each new book, there is just endless possibilities for this show to go. This book has become a must read for my two year old and has traveling from our car to her bedroom for nightly reading. We have actually even gotten to the point that our daughter is reading the words as we are saying it, that’s right two years old. I have to give credit to Disney for their constant supply of excellent books. Can’t wait to see what is next in the cards for this series!

Blu-ray Review “Young Detective Dee: Rise of The Sea Dragon”

Actors: Mark Chao, William Feng, Angelababy, Carina Lau, Lin Gengxin
Directors: Tsui Hark
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Run Time: 134 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

When I see a film from Tsui Hark, I don’t care what it is I just immediately add it to my list. I did that with his 2011 film, “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame” and was so glad that I did since it was amazing. “Young Detective Dee: Rise of The Sea Dragon” is a prequel to that film and really amps up the ante. In fact, the prequel improves not only the story but also the visual effects. I felt like huge-budget epic summer film. Epic is the word that comes to my mind. What I also liked most is that this film is well-balanced and is exciting in the beginning, the middle and ridiculously awesome in the third act. Highly recommend to watch this film (but if possible in 3D, see below)

Official Premise: From legendary action director Tsui Hark and the creators of international smash hit “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame” comes the captivating tale of Dee Renjie s beginnings in the Imperial police force. His very first case, investigating reports of a sea monster terrorizing the town, reveals a sinister conspiracy of treachery and betrayal, leading to the highest reaches of the Imperial family.

I am really upset with not being able view this film in its intended 3D format. The film really sets up a lot of its visual effects with the added dimension and I felt like I missing a lot here. This is not the first time that Well-Go has done this either. They released terrible films like “Dino King 3D”, “Sadako 3D” and “Tormented 3D” all with 3D Blu-ray releases, so I have no idea why they have cheaped out on titles like this one, which would have been AMAZING in 3D. Bad move! To top it off there are no special features either. Great movie, terrible Blu-ray. I would try and import this release and get the 7.1 Dolby HD track with 3D Blu-ray.

Blu-ray Review “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”

Actors: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Nathan Fillion, Douglas Smith
Directors: Thor Freudenthal
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Run Time: 106 minutes

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

“Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” arrived as the next “Harry Potter” but never really gathered much interest. When I heard that they were come with a sequel, I didn’t understand since the first film was not well-received. “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” promised to be much better than the first and it did deliver a more entertaining film for sure. The action is amped up and the visual effects are much better than the first film, plus it co-stars Nathan Fillion which is always great. Still has it problems and feel like a “Harry Potter wanna-be but overall, this film is worth checking out and a vast improvement from “The Lightning Thief”.

Official Premise: The magical, mythical adventures of teenager Percy Jackson — son of the Greek god Poseidon — continue in this heroic, action-packed thrill ride! Out to prove he’s not just a “one-quest wonder,” Percy and his demigod friends embark on an epic, cross-country journey into the treacherous Sea of Monsters, where they battle terrifying creatures, an army of zombies, and the ultimate evil. With time running out, Percy must find and bring home the fabled Golden Fleece, which has the power to save his world…and save us all

Fox delivered “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” as a combo pack release including Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD digital copy. The 1080p transfer is pretty much flawless and really takes advantage of the CGI effects and amazing visuals. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is also perfect and really captures the action so well. If you get nothing else from this film and this Blu-ray, you will be blown away with the audio/video presentation. If possible though, this film is much more enjoyable in 3D, so if you have that option but sure to take that route since the visual effects really shines there.

In terms of special features, “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” delivers some decent extras but nothing outstanding. To start we get a motion comic for the character Tyson, who is Percy’s cyclops half-brother. There are three featurettes included, the first is called “Back to Camp Half-Blood”, which features cast taking about coming back for the sequel. “It’s All in the Eye” and “Deconstructing a Demigod” focus on the visual effects in the film. I was really hoping for more depth on these extras since the film is so visual but these are still worth checking out if you enjoyed the film.

Good afternoon Mr. & Mrs. Michael McDonald and all the ships at sea – it’s The Mike O’Meara Show!

It would be difficult for me to put into words how elated I was when I first discovered the Mike O’Meara Show podcast a few years ago. I had just recently started my career as a CPA and was now a desk-jockey from 9-5, Monday through Friday. I had been a listener of The Don and Mike Show, the predecessor to the Mike O’Meara Show, back when I lived in New York and it was broadcast on WNEW. That show got me through many-a-night of boring high school homework. Now, years later, Mike and crew were suddenly back to save me from utter boredom once again.

Frustrated with the evolution of terrestrial radio and tired of being subject to the constant control of corporate broadcasting companies, Mike O’Meara has changed with the times by ditching the standard format and creating the Mike O’Meara Show podcast. Alongside Mike is Robb Spewak, a former cohort from The Don and Mike Show, and Oscar Santana, whom Mike and Robb met while broadcasting at WJFK in Washington, DC. In Fact, it was Oscar that inspired the move to the podcast format. Together, the experienced trio delivers quality that terrestrial shows could only dream of replicating.

Mike, Robb and Oscar entertain listeners with real-life personal stories, pop-culture, current news and a whole lot of ball-busting (Funnnnnn!). Recorded in the living room studios of the O’Meara Estate in Manassas, Virginia, these three likeable man-asses have a level of chemistry that’ll make you feel like you’re sitting in a room with a group of close friends. As time goes by, you feel like you know the cast and their friends and family personally. You’ll hear Carla, Mike’s wife, as they phone her at work so he can apologize for freaking out about a pot that sat in the kitchen sink too long. You’ll hear Robb talk about his obsession with Elvis and the many Elvis-themed iPhone cases he’s made using Vista Print. You’ll hear Oscar talk about his girlfriend, Shannon, and how she burned his new hardwood floors with a curling iron. But most of all, you’ll come to hear how talented, intelligent, and good-hearted these three slobs are.

From time to time Mike will read a letter on the show in which a listener talks about their personal life and how the show has impacted them in a positive way. I can relate to all of them, as each day I get to escape my near-comatose state in my cubicle to tune in for just over an hour of conversation with my friends. The podcast airs every weekday at 10:30(ish) EDT, and you can stream live (with video) at www.MikeOMearaShow.com. You can also download the shows directly from the website, from iTunes, or using the show’s app on your smartphone. Heck, there’s even a YouTube page! The show is free, but once you’re hooked there are uncensored bonus shows available for a pittance. And guys, if you can only afford the free show – at least throw them a bone and check out their advertisers – they don’t suck.

Saturday, December 7, 2013 marks the four year anniversary of the Mike O’Meara Show podcast. If you’re just now learning this for the first time, you no longer have an excuse for not listening. Come Monday, you’d better get your ass to www.MikeOMearaShow.com and tune in. You’ve already wasted four years. But don’t worry; all the archives since day one are available on the site – so get started playing catch-up!

Blu-ray Review “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”

Starring: Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Peter Lore, and Frankie Avalon
Directed by: Irwin Allen
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: October 8, 2013
Run Time: 106 minutes

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

When it comes to science-fiction films from the 50/60’s, I have a certain weak spot. “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” (1961) is a production from Irwin Allen, who wrote and directed the film. It packs a super great cast including Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Peter Lore, and Frankie Avalon. Frankie also sings the theme song as well aptly titled “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”. The film used miniature models for the submarine shots as well as 10 and 18 foot subs for other shots. The film is fun and although doesn’t hold up as much as I am sure it did, it is still given a glorious Blu-ray presentation and is worth checking out.

Office Premise: A routine scientific expedition to the North Pole turns into a race to save all mankind when a radiation belt in space causes a fiery inferno on Earth. Admiral Nelson (Walter Pidgeon) and the crew of the atomic submarine Seaview battle saboteurs, giant sea-creatures and attacks by enemy submarines as they race to prevent global catastrophe. Renowned disaster film producer, Irwin Allen, produces and directs an all-star cast including Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Peter Lore, and Frankie Avalon. The stunning visual effects and breathtaking underwater photography make this one of the most respected sci-fi adventure classics of all time.

Fox delivered an impressive Blu-ray presented for a film over 50 years old, you could have fooled me. The colors are crisp and the 1080p presentation makes this film look brand new. The audio track included is a DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 track, which is a little unusual but nonetheless sounds amazing. In terms of special features, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” delivers. There is a interesting commentary track by Author Tim Colliver. There is a documentary called “Science Fiction: Fantasy to Reality”. There is an awesome interview with with Barbara Eden. I love the film’s score, so I am pleased to announce an Isolated Score Track. Lastly there is the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Film Review “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”

Starring: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario
Directed By: Thor Fredenthal
Rated: PG
Running Time: 106 minutes
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

*deep breath*

The demigod Percy Jackson (Lerman), the son of Poseidon, is back once again. He continues his training at Camp Half-Blood with his friends, Grover Underwood (Jackson), a satyr, and Annabeth Chase (Daddario), the daughter of Athena. The problem this time arises from the boundary around the camp that protects them. The magic boundary that sprung years ago from the deceased body of Thalia Grace (Paloma Kwiatkowski), the daughter of Zeus, has been poisoned. Now the only chance to restore the boundary and keep Thalia’s spirit alive is the Golden Fleece. But Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), the son of Hermes, also wants the Fleece for his own motivations. He hopes to resurrect an ancient evil and once again attempt to bring destruction to Mount Olympus. Things are even more complicated when Percy discovers he has a half brother, Tyson (Douglas Smith), who is part cyclops and tags along for their journey into the Sea of Monsters.

*exhales*

If you’re a little confused, you may need to watch the first movie or take some Cliff notes with you. However, the Cliff notes are probably a lot more entertaining than this movie. I myself had never seen the first “Percy Jackson” until literally hours before the screening of “Sea of Monsters”. This movie is an improvement upon the first, but that might be because the movie is shorter. We’re once again treated to a barrage of computer animated creatures and uninteresting action sequences. We’re not invested enough to be concerned about a character’s well being. It doesn’t help that there isn’t even the slightest sense of peril. Even when our heroes are fighting from being swallowed whole by a whirlpool sized creature in the middle of the ocean, I found myself fighting a yawn.

It’s been six years since the last “Harry Potter” book and just two since the last movie, but Percy Jackson is still creeping in its shadow. The movie has plenty of similar ideas, but that’s not the problem. Everyone borrows from everyone. I get that. The problem arises when the movie uses quirks as a crutch instead of building up this fantastic new world around its inhabitants. The characters aren’t given room to breathe with an ADHD script and smothering CGI. Instead of character driven scenes and diving into the why’s and how’s of the story, the actors are expected to just “ooh” and “ahh” at the newest monster or helpful item given to them by the Gods. I don’t fault any of the actors. They’ve managed to work well with the hollow script they were handed. I fault the studio for selecting Thor Freudenthal, who directed the forgettable “Hotel for Dogs”, to helm this flick. I fault the studio for thinking Marc Guggenheim, the man who helped pen the disaster-piece “Green Lantern”, would be able to bring life into this series. This shows a huge lack of trust in the books original content and the hope that people will be filling the theater for eye candy and tongue-in-cheek one liners. From what a book fan told me at the screening, the movies even changed major plot points.

Greek mythology and literature in its own respect has lived for thousands of years and still captivates people like any good soap opera. “Sea of Monsters” is automatically forgettable and another abusive adaptation of a beloved book series. However, younger audiences who probably haven’t read the books will eat up this newest adventure. Someone in Hollywood needs to go on a search. Find a screenwriter that truly loves these novels and characters. Someone who can’t wait to get their hands on a copy of the latest “Percy Jackson” book. It wouldn’t even hurt to have a huge input by the book’s author, Rick Riordan. With millions of copies sold and a rabid fan base that’s willing to put up with another poorly adapted movie, I think he knows what he’s doing. Not to sound like the end to a PBS show, but I think it’s time for me to learn more by going to my local library.

Blu-ray Review “Deadly Sea Creatures: 2-Headed Shark Attack / 2010: Moby Dick / Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus”

Starring: Jaleel White, Carmen Electra, Charlie O’Connell, Barry Bostwick
Distributed by: Asylum Home Entertainment
Running Time 264 min
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Release Date: Feb 19, 2013

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Here is the thing about these films…they are very bad but so bad they are good. Yes these are all fun films. “2-Headed Shark Attack”, well has a two headed shark and that is cool enough for me. Please it has Carmen Electra, Charlie O’Connell and Brooke Hogan in the lead. “2010: Moby Dick” is a riot and Barry Bostwick is a riot in the film. Lastly we have Jaleel White in “Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus”. The film is a follow up to the amazing “Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus”. I mean where else can you see a giant croc eat Shamu at SeaWorld? There is tons of fun to be had here with this 3-Pack if you are up for it.

“2-Headed Shark Attack” Official Premise: A Semester at Sea ship is sunk by a two-headed shark, and the survivors escape to a deserted atoll. When it starts flooding, the coeds are no longer safe from the jaws of the monster. “2010: Moby Dick” Official Premise: A modern adaptation of the classic novel of the captain of a high tech submarine and his obsessive quest to destroy the enormous prehistoric whale that maimed him. “Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus” Official Premise: The massive prehistoric shark has survived the last battle, and the world is again threatened when a new, more dangerous foe is discovered in the jungles of Africa.

This 3-Pack marks the first time that “2010: Moby Dick” and “Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus” are being released on Blu-ray. I have to admit, I am glad to get a chance to own them but I would have preferred to have individual releases especially for “Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus”. The main issue with this release is that all three films are all compressed onto one 25GB Blu-ray. The bitrates are a low for a Blu-ray quality and they do not look the greatest with their 1080p transfers. The audio tracks are also only Dolby Digital 5.1, which to me is not even Blu-ray standard.

So why am I still recommending this release? Since if you know Asylum Home Entertainment, if you’ve seen their past release then you should know that they are not always quality. But still they are fun films are since this is currently the only way to own two of the three films, I am down for this sub-par release.  I will keep my hopes up that they will produce individual releases in the near future.

DVD Review "Back to the Sea"

Directors: Thom Lu
Starring: Christian Slater, Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Tom Kenny
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013 (Walmart Exclusive: December 31, 2012)
Distributed by: Viva Pictures
Running Time: 96 minutes

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

When it comes to animated films taking place under the sea, I can’t help but compare to “Finding Nemo”.  “Back to the Sea” is a low-budget (very low) animated film that steals a lot from that said film but packs a nice voice cast to boot.  I am sure this film has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time.  Viva Pictures seems to be purchasing and releasing a bunch of older shelved animated features.  Next up is “Top Cat: The Movie” and “Foodfight!” (which was made back in 2003).  Nonetheless, kids might enjoy the film due to its relation to “Nemo” and parents can get a nap or two in for sure.

Official Premise: “Back to the Sea” tells the touching story of a heroic fish’s journey home. When little fish Kevin (Slater) is swept up in a net and taken from his home in the vast oceans to the small glass fish tank of a New York restaurant, he must find a way to escape and make his way back home to his family and to the sea he loves. Together with his new found friends and with the help of his trusted human companion, the restaurant owner’s son, Kevin embarks on the journey of his life. Filled with laughs, action and heart, Back to the Sea is a great film for the whole family.

The voice cast is decent for this film.  Christian Slater (“Heathers”), Mark Hamill (“Star Wars”), Tom Kenny (“The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”) and Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) all lend their voices to this film.  I had a hard time find out which character was Tim Curry personally.  Christian Slater really sounded like a hyper kid in the film. Mark Hamill wasn’t in it enough to be cool. I would have loved to know when they recorded these voices.  The film is currently available on DVD, only at Walmart nationwide as of December 31st, 2012.  There are no special features included on this DVD.

DVD Review “Sea Level”

Directors: Aun Hoe Goh
Starring: Diong Chae Lian, Gavin Yap, Kennie Dowle, Christina Orow, Jay Sheldon
MPAA Rating: PG
Distributed by: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Running Time: 92 minutes

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

“Sea Level” could be a cute movie but just feels a little two dimensional.  The characters are cute as well but the voices are horrendous.  All the great voice talent at there and we get a shark that sounds like Yogi Bear? Really?  The animation is very cool looking though.  I like the shading on the characters and the underwater environment is well rendered.  Lastly the baddies are also pretty bad-ass looking, maybe too bad for some little kids.  Nonetheless though the film deals with some very adult issues like poachers and as sweet as the film is it has a bit of a darker edge. For a kid though, it is colorful, funny and action-packed. So they will be entertained but then probably screaming to watch “Finding Nemo” or something better.

Official Synopsis: Pup, a bamboo shark, discovers egg sacs while playing around the ocean with his friends. When he sees human poachers stealing the eggs from his reef, Pup makes it his mission to save them. As he leaves the sea and enters the beautiful, yet dangerous, world of humans he’ll prove he isn’t too small to save his family.

Lionsgate only delivered this film on DVD but I have a feeling it would have looked ever better on Blu-ray or even 3D Blu-ray, since there were a few scenes calling for it.  The audio track sounds nice on DVD with its 5.1 Dolby Digital track.  The special features are also decent overall.  There is an interesting, yet short, Behind-the-Scenes featurette.  There is a feature on the Sculpture Design and also the Concept Art.  It really shows how much work went into this film.  Lastly there is a trailer gallery included.

DVD Review “The Yellow Sea”

Directed by: Hong-Jin Na
Starring: Jung-woo Ha, Yun-seok Kim, Seong-Ha Cho
Distributed by: Fox World Cinema
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 137 min

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

“The Yellow Sea” written and directed by Hong-Jin Na is the story of a desperate Chinese cab driver who is asked to carry out an assassination in South Korea. Shortly after arriving the cab driver realizes he has become entangled in a dangerous conspiracy. If you are looking for a medium paced foreign film that will keep you guessing at every turn then pick up a copy of Fox World Cinema’s “The Yellow Sea”.

Being a big fan of Asian cinema I was quite interested in checking this film out. Director/Writer Hong-Jin Na did not disappoint. From the overall look and feel of the film to its actual content “The Yellow Sea” was a rollercoaster ride of deception.  Jung-woo Ha did a great job in the lead role and was very convincing playing a man who had nothing to lose. Seong-Ha Cho played a great villain who as the film progressive we start to see that his character is a little more than Jung-woo or us as the viewers bargained for. There were a few points in the film where you really had to pay attention as the number of characters involved and their intersecting story lines did cause a bit of confusion. This observation aside the film still had relatively good flow and progression.

The special features portion of the disc I felt left something to be desired. Here you could find the trailer as well as a sneak peak of the film along with a few other Fox World Cinema Trailers. I am not a fan of when film companies do this and list them as “extras” or “special features”. Personally if I have already chosen this movie to watch I am probably not going to spend my time watching the trailer or sneak peak’s of the film when I already have the full version of the film to watch. I understand some people do want to have these types of so called “special features” but maybe they could have at least included an interview or two with cast/crew to help beef up this section.

Philip Klein talks about his book “Lost at Sea: The Hunt for Patrick McDermott”

To most of us, our idea of a private investigator is based on watching such television shows as “The Rockford Files” and “Magnum P.I.” Smooth guys who were able to blend in even though they were the best looking guys in the room. And, in Magnum’s case, they were wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt! Philip Kline has managed to “blend in” for almost three decades. And that’s saying a lot about a man who stands 6’5” tall!

Internationally renowned for his investigative skills, as well as providing protection for some of the country’s biggest celebrities and politicians, Kline and his team undertook a project brought to them by “Dateline: NBC.” The network was curious about the mysterious disappearance of Patrick Kim McDermott, whose claim to fame was being the boyfriend of singer Olivia Newton John. Declared dead by the Coast Guard, as well as investigators hired by Newton John, something in the case file raised a red flag in Mr. Klein.

Klein has authored and just released the book “LOST AT SEA: The Hunt for Patrick McDermott.” In it he recounts the many hours, days and even years it took him to find a man who didn’t want to be found. Mr. Klein recently took the time to speak with MediaMikes about the case.

Mike Smith: How did this case compare to others you’ve had in the past?
Philip Klein: Well you know I do a lot of investigative work and body guard work for some of the most influential people in the United States. I’ve got to tell you, when NBC approached me about this I was kind of skeptical at first. But it turned out to be a real “who done it.” Actually more of a “why did they do it.” It wasn’t really “who” did it because we know…it was the man who was missing. But it was “why” he did it. Most investigators will tell you that the motive is the most important thing of the case. And when we found the motive of this case everything pretty much fell into place pretty quickly.

MS: Since the book has been published have you been contacted by McDermott or any representative? (NOTE: In the book Mr. Klein tracks McDermott to Mexico, where he later negotiates with a representative of Mr. McDermotts )
PK: No we haven’t. And the reason why is that we made a promise that if he provided a DNA sample…what we refer to as “proof of life,” we wouldn’t bother him anymore. His position, through his legal counsel, is that he just wants to be left alone. He has not committed any crimes, there are no warrants for his arrest and there are no, what we call in the business BOLOs, be on the lookout for in his name. So what we did was take a step back and decided that we needed to end the case. We asked his rep to send us a proof of life and we got just that.

MS: I remember in the book that you had agreed to not bother him once the proof of life was provided. I was just curious if maybe you had gotten a phone call or email saying “you were right…that’s exactly what happened!”
PK: (laughs) No, it doesn’t work like that. As much as I’d like it to work like that. I think what happens in the real world is that he is expecting an onslaught of press because the book has been released. And because he’s expecting an onslaught of press he’s probably gone back under. He’s very good. He’s learned the system down in Mexico. He knows how to disappear. He knows how to blend in. That’s what he’s probably done at this point. If I was consulting with him I would tell him that’s what he needs to do at this point.

MS: There almost seemed, not on your part but on your team, to talk directly with Olivia Newton John. Was that an outlet you really wanted to investigate but just didn’t feel it was right?
PK: Well, not necessarily. Well, you may be right in some ways. In every case there is a victim and in this case we considered Olivia Newton John one of the victims. Do we believe that Olivia Newton John knew anything about his disappearance? No. We believe that Patrick McDermott…we know that Patrick McDermott…went to her two weeks before he disappeared. He gave her some flowers and a funny card and said goodbye. They were going to break up. Olivia’s idea of the break up was…she felt that it was going to be a temporary break up. He’d done this before. In the police reports she called it a small “time out.” We believe that McDermott made the decision that that was it. He was going down to Mexico so he said his goodbyes. It’s very unusual that when someone takes off like that they say goodbye to the things they love or that they know that are common to them. And I think in Patrick’s case that he did have fond feelings for Olivia. You don’t date somebody for that long and not have some kind of feelings for them. But in the end I don’t think he wanted to hurt her. He just wanted to go on with his life. Of course Hollywood is a very, very tough place to survive. And I believe he decided he just couldn’t do it anymore. Especially in the fast lane with an “A” list star. He was always the nice looking man on Olivia Newton John’s arm. And so I think he said goodbye to her in the way he knew how to say goodbye. He bought a gun. He emptied his bank accounts down to zero. He got as much money as he could off his credit cards and he took off.

MS: Has the popularity, and the easy access of, the Internet made your job easier or harder? There is so much information out there that often you don’t know what’s true and what’s not.
PK: We have a big sign in our office for all of our investigators to read. It says “Don’t Believe What You Read on the Internet!” The Internet is a great tool, especially for investigators like us. That is one of the things we were able to do, use the Internet. We created what they call a “spider” web site…a trap site…where we could watch the IP addresses come in. One of the things you learn very quickly is that when people are running or trying to hide they’re always looking over their shoulder. So we used that concept and created the website “Find Patrick McDermott.com” We set that up as a “spider” site and we were able to trap IP addresses. We released the web site only to relatives and close friends of McDermott, including the Olivia Newton John camp. Then we sat back and watched. We blocked it from Google. We blocked it from Yahoo. And we just watched it for two weeks. And, sure enough, we started getting hits from Mexico. There’s nobody in Mexico that knew we were doing anything. So we figured at that point that he was down in Mexico. And we also knew the bigger piece of the puzzle…somebody was communicating with him down in Mexico.

MS: Do you know the status of McDermott’s life insurance policy?
PK: The insurance policy was not honored because of our report. We do know that Ms. Nipar (NOTE: Yvette Nipar was Patrick McDermott’s former wife. Despite her claims otherwise she has tried to undermine Mr. Klein’s investigation almost from the beginning. She has even gone so far to write Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, a letter asking him not to sell Mr. Klein’s book) was paying the insurance policy and keeping it active. It was a $100,000 life insurance policy. Of course the insurance company has a policy of not releasing any pertinent information except to family members. However when we did send them a formal 1702 notice, a notice saying we wanted to know who was paying the insurance policy and if the policy was active, they did copy Yvette Nipar. I think that was their way of saying, “no, we’re not going to tell you who’s paying on the policy but we’re going to copy our letter to whoever is paying on the policy.” That’s where we got that connection.

MS: I know from your emails with Ms. Nipar regarding your request to test your DNA sample with a sample of her son she refused and told you that the Coast Guard had samples of Mr. McDermott’s DNA. Did they?
PK: We did. And the U.S. Coast Guard advised us that they did not have any DNA. They didn’t understand where she was getting that information from. There was a hat found on the boat. There was also some other items found…fishing tackle, a wallet which was empty…what was missing were his two passports. So we asked them directly “what about this green hat that was supposedly left behind, was there any DNA on it or did you find any DNA in his apartment when you did the search?” There answer was “no, we did not keep any DNA. There was no reason for us to keep any DNA.” That’s always been a confusing thing for us…that the Coast Guard did not keep any DNA. The Los Angeles Police Department had immediately dropped the case. They felt, number one, that there was no foul play. Number two, it wasn’t there jurisdiction. And number three, they felt that he was probably running due to his issues with Ms. Nipar and the amount of money he owed the state of California for child support.

MS: I just pulled up the book’s web site and I see the letter she wrote Jeff Bezos asking him to pull the book.
PK: We were surprised. If you go through that letter you will see that Ms. Nipar results to name calling…she resorts to intimidation. And if you read the book you will notice that this is the same behavior she showed when we were trying to investigate. You’ll also see that she tried to use the Los Angeles Police Department to shut the investigation down. This is atypical of someone that really wants to know what happened to their loved one. It’s totally the opposite of what we’re used to as investigators. Usually when we come in and investigate the family bends over backwards. They give interviews…they say, “look, this is what we know…this is what we have.” They want to share. She has done completely the opposite. In fact, she has attempted to block the investigation at every turn. And once again, when we start talking about the case in the form of a book she begins to start trying to block it again. So all of the investigators in this office raise our eyebrows, as do some of my friends over at the Los Angeles Police Department. They raise their eyebrows and say she’s acting quite abnormal.

MS: One thing that really struck me in the book was when you relate that your father told you the three important things in life: Truth, Honesty and Faith. You then add that there is a difference between truth and honesty. What is that difference?
PK: Well, if I’m putting my investigator hat on, truth and honesty are two different things. You can say the sky is blue, and that’s the truth. But, honestly, if you’re looking at the sky and the sky has clouds in it, you don’t want to just say the sky is blue. Honesty means the sky is blue with some clouds. And I think that sometimes people, when they are scared or trying to give only the half-truth, they’ll stand up and just say the sky is blue. When they perfectly know that it’s blue and white. It’s blue with white clouds. They hold things back. And I saw a lot of that on this case. I’d get the typical Hollywood “yeah, I knew Pat…this is the way he was.” But they’d hold stuff back. And I think people in Hollywood are so shell shocked by the media…so shell shocked by the press and how hungry the press is to get a story…that they sometimes hold things back. Or, if they have something to hide, they hold things back. I think that’s what I was talking about when I mentioned that with my father. There is a huge difference between truth and honesty. The honesty is that the sky is blue with beautiful white clouds. It’s not just blue.

MS: Now that he’s 19 years old, if Chance (Mr. McDermott’s son)were to come to you and say, “Phil, can you show me what you’ve got,” would you share it with him?
PK: You know, that’s a great question! Not only with this case, which is a missing persons case. I do about 100 missing person cases a year. And I can tell you this. For each of the families I always keep what we call “the Box.” It’s the case box. Sometimes there are five or six boxes and sometimes only one box. And I keep them for the family members. Especially the young people so they can go through them when they turn 18 years old. And if Chance McDermott wants to come to our office and if he wants to sit down and dig through all of the evidence…read everything that we did, all the way back to day one when we started with NBC to when we closed with NBC to the writings of the attorneys down in Mexico City…he is perfectly welcome with open arms. And you’d be surprised. Young people come to us often and say, “you know, our parents didn’t really tell us everything Mr. Klein…would you please sit down with me and tell me what this is and show me the documents?” And we show them. We have seen it as a very emotional event…as a very spiritual event. And a very relieving event for these folks. With this case…and I’m NOT calling Ms. Nipar a liar…I’m simply saying that Ms. Nipar is holding stuff back from her son. There’s a reason and a motive for that. Maybe someday she can look him in the eye and tell him that motive.