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.

Book Review “World of Reading – Disney Junior Boxed Set: Pre-Level 1”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: World of Reading (Book 1)
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: August 5, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When I get books for the past two years, I have been sticking to board and hardcover books that are toddler friendly. Watching my two year old daughter growing up I see that she needed more of a challenge with her reading. I decided it was time to turn it over to Disney’s World of Reading series. This collection is absolutely perfect for those early readers, who can’t read yet need more challenge than just pictures and colors.

To make it even better, this is a box set of six Disney Junior Pre-Level 1 books. They should appeal to any preschooler or in my case an exceptional two year old. If you love Disney Junior, all of your favorites are here from Sofia The First, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Plus if all that isn’t enough, Disney is also giving you a bonus e-book, which features actually a 7th reader. I highly recommend this set and hope that Disney continues to release get box sets like this one, so my daughter can enjoy as she grows up (too quickly).

 

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Win a DVD of Hallmark’s “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove: Season 1” [ENDED]

To celebrate the DVD release of Hallmark’s “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove: Season 1”, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the DVD 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 recent Hallmark Original film. This giveaway will remain open until July 25th 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.

Andie MacDowell stars as Judge Olivia Lockhart who is considered the community s guiding light in the picturesque, coastal town of Cedar Cove, Washington. But like everyone else, Olivia fights the uphill battle of balancing career with family and finding love, all while doing her best to care for the township she calls home. Based on the best-selling author Debbie Macomber s beloved book series.

 

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Enter to Win Lars Von Trier’s “Nymphomanic: Volumes 1 & 2” on Blu-ray [ENDED]

To celebrate the Blu-ray release of “Nymphomanic: Volumes 1 & 2”, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the Blu-ray to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Lars Von Trier film. This giveaway will remain open until July 18th 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.

Epic Two-Part Film Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, And Shia LaBeouf Arrives July 8 On Blu-ray™ and DVD From Magnolia Home Entertainment

NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME I AND VOLUME II mark Lars von Trier’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed film, Melancholia. The story about Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, and as widely reported, the films contain graphic depictions of sexuality to a degree unprecedented in a mainstream feature film.

Last Day to Get 1 Week Free of Full Moon Streaming!

This week is the premiere of Episode 4 of Trophy Heads exclusively on FullMoonStreaming, which means anyone can watch episode 1, 2, 3, 4 with our limited free trial. And this episode is one of the best! With cameos by classic alumni Stuart Gordon, Robin Sydney, Jessica Morris, Amy Paffrath, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, and starring Denice Duff and Jacqueline Lovell playing themselves!

Comic Book Review “Disney Kingdoms: Figment #1”

Published: June 11, 2014
Rating: All Ages
Writer: Jim Zub
Cover Artist: John Tyler Christopher

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When I was a kid visiting Walt Disney World’s Epcot, I would run as fast as I could to “Journey into Imagination” starring the lovable purple dragon Figment. The character has also inspired me and hopefully many others to use and embrace their own imaginations. Since Marvel and Disney joined forces the superhero movies that we all know and love weren’t the only great thing to come out of the merger. The Disney Kingdoms line comics that Marvel is putting out is really expanding the world such great characters and Disney properties.

“Figment” is actually the second title in the new Disney Kingdoms line following the equally amazing “Seekers of the Weird”, which is based off an idea that Walt Disney had that never came to be about a collection of “unique” items that were protected by a family. A few months ago when I heard about “Figment”, I just knew that this was going to be a real knock out of the park hit. I just knew it. Well, it is not only a great read but it is beautifully drawn with a great style that allows Disney to show a new side to these characters.

In the first issue we get introduced to the character we all know and love, Dreamfinder, under the name of Blarion Mercurial. We met him when he is a young inventor at a very prestigious scientific London institution but is rather scrutinized for his irrational inventions. Of course due to these inventions we find out how the dragon Figment came to be. This is really a neat story, one that has never been told before by Disney. So it is new ground for these characters and if you love them like I do, I couldn’t recommend checking out this new series.

There are also a tons of little Easter eggs too for those hardcore Disney fans, so keep an eye out when reading. Honestly, as good as this issue was, I see such potential in the series and I have a feeling that Disney is really going to have a lot of room to expand this story and really give fans a great look into the work of the Dreamfinder and his friend Figment. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for issue 2 and also what other properties are they going to develop next after this one becomes a big success. I would like to suggest “The Haunted Mansion”!

Blu-ray Review “Attack on Titan: Limited Edition – Part 1”

Actors: Mike McFarland, Matthew Mercer
Directors: Tetsuro Araki
Number of discs: 4
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Funimation
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Run Time: 325 minutes

Series: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Starting off as a manga back in “Attack on Titan”, has quickly taking over the anime world. If you watch the first episode, there is literally no way you can’t get hooked. It is currently one of my favorite anime series out right now. This Part 1 release includes the first 13 episodes of the 25 episode series. I literally burned through the first 13 episodes in one day wanted more immediately. Funimation already set a release date of September 23rd for Part 2 for this series. I really hope they include the 2 OVA episodes as well. The series is also being re-adapted into two animated theatrical films set to be released Winter 2014 and 2015. The word is that there is also a live-action movie that will begin filming in summer 2014 for a planned summer 2015 release. So stay tuned “Titan” fans, there is still a lot of come!

Official Premise: When the man-eating giants called Titans first appeared, humans retreated behind massive walls. After a hundred years of safety, a colossal-sized Titan smashes through the defenses, unleashing a flood of giants and carnage in the streets. Eren Jaeger watches helplessly as one of the creatures devours his mother. He vows to kill every Titan walking the earth. Eren and his surviving friends enlist to fight against the insatiable monsters. The future looks bleak, but there’s more to Eren than meets the eye: he may be humanity’s last hope against extinction. The Titans have come to feast. Anything can happen. No one is safe.

Funimation is really delivering to its fan for this Limited Edition release. There is such a fanbase for this and they probably would have been happy with just the episodes on Blu-ray but Funimation went a step further and included tons of great goodies for this release. It comes with a 4-pin collection consisting of the Military Police Regiment, Scout Regiment, Garrison Regiment, and Cadet Corps. There is a replica of Eren Jaeger’s key necklace and also a sword necklace featuring the Titan flesh paring blades. There is a 3-D lenticular Art Card included. Lastly “Notes From Beyond the Wall: Part 1” is a 24 page digibook that is a great addition.

The 1080p transfer of these episodes look outstanding. I really love the style of this show. The announcement of the English dub cast was a big deal for this show and I was very happy with it myself. Bryce Papenbrook voices Eren Jaeger, know best for Rin Okumura from “Blue Exorcist” and Kirito from “Sword Art Online”. He does a great job. Also get voice actors include Mike McFarland and Matthew Mercer. The Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1 really delivered for sure. Of course also included is the original audio Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 surround tracks.

If the episodes and goodies wasn’t enough for you, there are over 100 minutes extras included on this release. First off we have “The Making of Attack on Titan”, which is a great behind-the-scenes look in this amazing anime. “Monster Character Theater – Fly! Trainee Corps” is a funny series of Flash animated shorts featuring the characters in Chibi form based on designs by Yuupon. There are two audio commentaries included on episodes 3 and 13. Lastly there is a photo gallery, textless songs and trailers included. I can’t wait to see what they drum up for Part 2!

Blu-ray Review “I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1”

Starring: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley, Vivian Vance
Number of discs: 6
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: May 6, 2014
Run Time: 907 minutes

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

“I Love Lucy”, who doesn’t? This 1950’s classic television show is coming to Blu-ray thanks to CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment in this 6-disc Blu-ray release of “Ultimate Season 1”. This season includes the first 35 episodes of the show, which starred the legendary Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley and Vivian Vance. This season includes some of the most beloved episodes includes “The Ballet”, “Pioneer Women” and “The Freezer”. These episodes are still hysterical today and that just proves how amazing this show was going strong still over 60 years later. I am looking forward to the rest of the seasons hopefully season two will come later this year, hint hint!

Official Synopsis: You’ve loved and laughed at Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel for years, but you’ve never seen I Love Lucy like this on glorious high-definition. Coming to Blu-ray in a highly collectible set with special gloss packaging that includes every episode from the first season, each one beautifully restored in high definition, in original night-of-broadcast form with original sponsor openings and closings. The set also includes a number of as yet undetailed special features, many never before released on home video.

These episodes are presented in their original aspect ratio: 1.33:1 and have never looked better. The pilot episode has also been remastered from a newly discovered original 35mm negative. The episodes look extremely crisp and have very sharp black color (since the show is black and white only). The audio comes with a PCM 2.0 mono track that has been cleaned up a bunch and really delivers the comedy aspects very well for this show. Paramount really has been great with restoring older shows to Blu-ray ala “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

Here are a full listing of the episodes includes for season 1. “Pilot”; “The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub”; “Be a Pal”; “The Diet”; “Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying to Murder Her”; “The Quiz Show”; “The Audition”; “The Séance”; “Men Are Messy”; “The Fur Coat”; “Lucy Is Jealous of a Girl Singer”; “Drafted”; “The Adagio”; “The Benefit”; “The Amateur Hour”; “Lucy Plays Cupid”; “Lucy Fakes Illness”; “Lucy Writes a Play”; “Breaking the Lease”; “The Ballet”; “The Young Fans”; “New Neighbors”, “Fred and Ethel Fight”; “The Moustache; “The Gossip”; “Pioneer Women”; “The Marriage License”; “The Kleptomaniac”; “Cuban Pals”; “The Freezer”; “Lucy Does a TV Commercial”; “The Publicity Agent”; “Lucy Gets Ricky on the Radio”; “Lucy’s Schedule”, “Ricky Thinks He’s Getting Bald” and “Ricky Asks for a Raise”

The special features are equally impressive as the season itself. First we have “I Love Lucy: The Very First Show CBS special”, which is a great. There are audio commentary on select episodes by Lucille Ball, Desi Arnes, Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Davis, Bob Carroll, Jr. and others. There are 13 episodes includes with alternate elements, which is a real nice bonus. There are on-set color “home movies” from the season. There are also selected episodes of Lucille Ball’s “My Favorite Husband” radio series. Lastly there are bloopers, guest cast bios, production notes and photo galleries included.

Blu-ray Reviews “Gamera: Ultimate Collection – Volume 1 & 2”

Created by: Yonejiro Saito
Portrayed by: Teruo Aragaki, Umenosuke Izumi
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
DVD Release Date: April 29, 2014
Run Time: 345 / 343 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Besides me, who simply cannot get enough of giant monsters battling giant monsters. Originally conceived as a rival to Toho’s “Godzilla” franchise, “Gamera” has become a cult classic series. With its tagline “Guardian of the Universe. Friend of all children!”, the giant turtle has protected the people of Japan and kicked some monster ass for many years starting back in 1965. These two new volume Blu-ray sets are available for the first time ever, thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment.

Each of these volumes include four of Daiei Studios’ monster series in the Showa series including “Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965)”; “Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)” , “Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)” and “Gamera vs. Viras (1968)”  in volume 1. Volume 2 includes the following “Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)”; “Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)” ; “Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)” (one of my favorites) and “Gamera: Super Monster (1980)”. These films have been restored to their original Japanese cuts and have never looked better and a price point of under $15 dollars that makes this a no-brainer purchase.

Mill Creek Entertainment has really been behind the franchise for years. Back in 2011, they also released the three Heisei trilogy films on Blu-ray with glorious transfer. The same is the case with these films. They really did a phenomenal job hooked this eight films up with a solid high definition 1080p transfer. The color reproduction is very impressive and even though there is some age here and there it is quickly overlooked due to a vibrant print. The only part that stuck me by surprise is no English dub track here. There is only a Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital track with English subtitles. included for all eight films. It works but still could have used at least an HD audio track.

Volume 1 includes the following “Gamera” films:
“Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965)” Official Premise: The first entry of this Sci-Fi epic takes place midst the peak of the Cold War, as conflict between the East and West transforms into a nuclear disaster! This atomic explosion releases more than massive radiation, it awakens an ancient and long-forgotten legend of Gamera!

“Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)” Official Premise: Once the fear of Tokyo, Gamera returns to Earth to save it from the malevolent monster Barugon who is able to freeze anything its path. This unholy battle between fire and ice challenges the survival of mankind while bringing them an incredible slam-bang, knock-down monster slug-fest!

“Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)” Official Premise: The third entry of this classic monster series continues when a volcanic eruption awakens Gyaos, a gigantic vampire-like bat who has a ravenous hunger for blood. Gyaos is Gamera s most popular foe, returning in four more films (not counting the stock footage in SUPER MONSTER). Can the fire-spitting terrapin Garmera defeat this nocturnal beast?

“Gamera vs. Viras (1968)” Official Premise: The reign of terror continues when aliens take two boy scouts hostage to blackmail Gamera into aiding their invasion of Earth. When that plan fails the giant alien leader Viras battles the flying turtle in a duel to the death.

Volume 2 includes the following “Gamera” films:
“Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)” Official Premise: Gamera, the giant flying turtle, spins into action when two young boys board a spaceship and are hijacked to a strange planet on the other side of the sun. While the boys evade the clutches of two brain-hungry alien beauties, Gamera must deal with a knife-nosed monster named Guiron.

“Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)” Official Premise: The fire-breathing action continues as Gamera battles one of his greatest foes, Jiger, a horned monster reminiscent of the Triceratops. Drawn to the World Expo in Osaka by an ancient statue, the evil reptile injects Gamera with its parasitic offspring to eliminate the super turtle.

“Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)” Official Premise: The shark-like alien Zigra attacks Earth to enslave the human race as food. Aided by spacewoman X-1, Zigra s wicked plan goes swimmingly until the invaders are challenged by Gamera and confounded by two troublemaking kids.

“Gamera: Super Monster (1980)” Official Premise: The final entry of the Showa Gamera series plays as a highlight reel reviving all of the previous evil monsters. When the alien Zanon tries to conquer Earth with an army of monsters, three superwomen enlist the help of Gamera to foil the invader’s plans.

Besides the films, there are no special features at all includes on these Blu-ray, which is a little bit of a letdown but I am sure it was due to licensing not laziness. So now that these films are available on Blu-ray, it actually completed the entire franchise of “Gamera” presented in high-definition. The only film not released by Mill Creek Entertainment on Blu-ray is the 2006 film “Gamera the Brave”, which is in the Millennium series. So if you want to complete your set, this is also available now from Tokyo Blasters.

Magazine Review “Full Moon Presents: Delirium” Issue #1

“Full Moon Presents: Delirium”
Issue: #1
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Charles Band
Pages: 50

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Charles Band…this guy is a legend. He has not only been making the movies that he wants to make for the last 30 years but now he is also being a magazine publisher. You really got to give it to this guy for non-stop work in order to deliver to the large appetite of this fans. Flashback to early 1990-1991, I remember I used to walk up and down the horror section in the local mom and pop video store, Royal Video in Long Island, NY, looking for killer horror titles. I found myself in front of “Re-Animator” and my life was changed. Fast forward many years, I have a copy of issue #1 of Charles Band’s hororr magazine, “Full Moon Presents: Delirium”, in my hands and I am transported back to that aisle in the video store. Thanks Charles! You the man! All I have to ask is when is issue #2 coming out?

Inside this beautiful magazine is filled with everything Full Moon and horror from Blu-ray advertisements to convention promotions. There are some great featured interviews including a nice focus on one of my favorites “Re-Animator”. There is a Q&A with Stuart Gordon about his beloved horror cult classic. The gorgeous Barbara Crampton chimes in about her titilating role in “Re-Animator”. Of course the man that ties it all together, composer Richard Band talks about the music for “Re-Animator”. There are also interviews on newer projects including Douglas Aarniokoski talking about directing “Nurse 3D” and his start at Full Moon and also Olivia Alexander talking about her role in Full Moon’s “Killer Eye 2”. Lastly there is a great feature “Red, White and Blue Underground” which has Full Moon taking a look at the company’s amazing titles.

Besides features, there are some other great columns included. The issue kicks off with “Delirious Words” which is love letter to Band’s Full Moon from the editor. “Full Moon Rising” takes a look into the ganja versions of classic films “Trophy Heads” and “Head of the Family”. “Bring me the Head of Stuart Gordon” has the director talking about his adventures in filmmaking. “Wizard Studios” is an amazing piece on the newly revival of the microbudget imprint within Fill Moon and their first three films. “Grindhouse Flix” has legendar actress Celeste Yarnall reflecting on her role in “The Velvet Vampire”. “The Vault” takes a look back into the cult classic “Tourist Trap”. Wrapping this up is “Bandwidth”, which is a closing words from publisher Charles Band.

I think this magazine has great potential for us horror fans. Currently my favorite horror magazine has to be Horrorhound and this reminds me a lot about it. Fangoria gives away too many spoilers. Rue Morgue is too wordy and not very fun to read. My only comments again Delirium would be for them to figure out a common font size and style for each article and stick to it since there is a lot of jumping around and it is distracting. The only other thing would be the price point $45 dollars for a subscription, which is not terrible since I think Horrorhound is $35 but my issue is that shipping is not included. But either way, if you love horror and Full Moon’s contribution to it, I would recommend checking this out. It is not available in stores either so head over to FullMoonStreaming.com and subscribe you. Tell them MediaMikes.com send you!

 

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DVD Review “Dragons: Defenders of Berk – Part 1”

Actors: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, T.J. Miller, Zack Pearlman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
Run Time: 242 minutes

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

If you are a fan of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon”, they you need to check out this follow-up animated TV series “Dragons” if you haven’t already. The first season of this show was subtitled “Riders of Berk” and included 20 episodes. The second season which just finished airing this month was subtitled “Defenders of Berk” and also included 20 episodes. This DVD is Part 1 of the second season consisting of first 10 episodes. The last time Fox released both part 1 and 2 at the same time for the first season but this time only we are only getting part 1 for now. This show is getting better and better with each new season. We have plenty more of this great franchise to come with season three subtitled “Dragon Masters” and of course this summer’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” in theaters this June. Keep them coming!

Official Premise: Based on the DreamWorks Animation Academy Award nominated movie How to Train Your Dragon, “Dragons: Defenders of Berk – Part 1″ follows Hiccup and his fellow dragon trainers as they battle to protect their island home. The young Vikings must put their dragon training skills to the test to defeat dangerous and surprising new enemies! The series features original voice talent from the film including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse and will include, Zack Pearlman and more.

Here are the listings of the first 10 episodes from season 2″Live and Let Fly”, “The Iron Gronckle”, “The Night and the Fury”, “Tunnel Vision”, “Race to Fireworm Island”, “Fright of Passage”, “Worst in Show”, “Appetite for Destruction”, “Zippleback Down” and “A View to a Skrill Part 1”.

Like the first season, this DVD is also jam-packed with special features that dive deeper into the exciting world of “Dragons”.  First up is “Dragon Tracker Part 3” which is a continuation from the first season DVDs giving an in-depth look at the shows dragons. This one includes the Screaming Death, Fireworm Queen, Flightmare and Skrill dragons. “Evolution of Screaming Death” is a featurette with visual effects supervisor David Jones talking about its history. Lastly there is also a “SuperFly” Dragon Mash-up music video.

I feel like a game show host…but “Wait there is still more…” Along with the purchase of the DVD you will also get a Digital HD UltraViolet code, which is a nice bonus personally to be able to watch these episodes on the go. There is also an offer for exclusive battle gear and one month’s free subscription to School of Dragons, the online game from JumpStart based on DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon franchise. This game rules and is a must play for any fan of the franchise. Visit http://www.schoolofdragons.com for more details.

 

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Blu-ray Review “Ranma ½ Set 1”

Number of discs: 3
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Viz Media
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
Run Time: 530 minutes

Series: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Ranma ½ started off as an manga series back in 1987 in Japan, which was turned into a TV series shortly after in 1989. This is way before Japanese anime hit the US. The series got big here probably around the early 90’s and this and “Dragon Ball Z” were two of my favorite anime series growing up. Ranma ½ ius definitely unique and is an interesting blend of romance, comedy, action and marital arts. Thanks Viz Media this series is getting presented in high definition for the first time ever. Set 1 includes the first 23 episodes of the show, so since there are over 140 episodes total I would expect at least an additional six releases over the next year. If you are a fan of this series, then this is a new brainer.

Official Synopsis: From the legendary oeuvre of master creator Rumiko Takahashi, the mixed-up, madcap, martial arts romantic comedy Ranma ½ returns! After taking a surprise dip in a cursed spring while on a training journey in China, martial artist Ranma Saotome and his father, Genma, aren’t quite themselves anymore. Now Ranma turns into a girl whenever he’s splashed with cold water, and Genma turns into a panda. Their new forms cause nothing but confusion at the Tendo dojo, where Soun Tendo is waiting to introduce one of his three daughters to Ranma… as his fiancée. Turns out Genma and Soun arranged the match long ago, but the girl, Akane, and the boy, Ranma, aren’t exactly crazy about the idea, or each other! Or are they? Watch the gender switching, jealous rages, and martial arts battles unfold all over again!

Having watching this show on bootleg VHS tapes growing up, these 1080p transfers are stunning with high quality encodes created using the original Japanese Blu-ray masters. Fans are able to enjoy each episode with an  uncropped, 4:3 aspect ratio. Another first time for this release is that all episodes are arranged in the original Japanese episode order. There are both lossless tracks available for the original Japanese (with English subtitles) and the English dub, and a secondary subtitle track is available for signs and songs. The box presentation also for this set is amazing coming in a premium chipboard box with gold foil stamping with art illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. Inside it also includes a 64-page booklet with a full color episode guide and a manga re-master sampler.

If you were satisfied with all that, wait there is still more in this Limited Edition box set. There are some decent extras including an exclusive “We Love Ranma: Part 1” Manga Re-Mastering Interview with VIZ Media editor Hope Donovan, which talks about the processes behind the latest manga release. There is two great extras taken from 2013 New York Comic Con this past year with “Ranma ½ Panel Footage” and “VIZ Media Events Highlight Reel”. Lastly there are upcoming episode previews and trailers included here. Can’t wait for Set 2! Keep them coming Viz!

Blu-ray Review “Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham – Season 1, Part 1”

Voices of: Anthony Ruivivar, J.B. Blanc, Sumalee Montano, Kurtwood Smith
Rated TV-PG
Studio: Warner Archive Collection
DVD Release Date: February 18, 2014
Run Time: 286 minutes

Season: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

After “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” although a fun show, but with the success of “The Dark Knight” series, fans were looking for something with a darker tone. Enter, “Beware the Batman”. The show has a more serious tone and a really snazzy look and feel to it. The animation style is great and Batman is quite badass. Unfortunately Cartoon Network did not give this show much love, they pulled it from their schedule back in October after 11 episodes and left two unaired. They claimed it would be back on in January but as we approach March there is still no word. Either way I really dug this show and I would recommend it to any Batman fan out there. “Batman: The Animated Series” still holds the reigns but it is quite an impressive entry for the Caped Crusader.

Batman swings into an exhilarating new age, teaming with a powerful allies old and new for a thrilling new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise in Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham, Season 1 Part 1. The new action-packed detective thriller incorporates Batman’s core characters with a rogue’s gallery of criminals as the Caped Crusader faces some of Gotham City’s most despicable villains. Through the show’s first 13 animated adventures of this two-disc collection, ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana join Batman to takes on an array of evildoers including the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. This thrilling series redefines what we have come to know as the “Batman show” and is sure to excite fans with cutting-edge CGI visuals.

This Blu-ray contains all 11 episodes that official aired and the additional 2 that are still unaired. Included are “Hunted”, “Secrets”, Tests”, “Safe”, “Broken”, “Toxic”, “Family”, “Allies”, “Control”, “Sacrifice”, “Instinct”, “Attraction” and “Fall”. There are some solid villains as well in these episodes including Professor Pyg and Mister Toad, Cypher, Magpie, Anarky and Lady Shiva to name a few. I think it was a brave move to include some new and not so well-known villains. Other shows have done in the past having Joker be the lead villains and who doesn’t love the Joker but you have to give it to “Beware the Batman” for being ballsy here. I am sure if this show continued on we would see the funny man pop up surely but we did not rely on it from the beginning.

This Blu-ray comes from Warner Bros’ made-on-demand (MOD) service, Warner Archive, which produced their releases as they are ordered. I feel that this series deserves more than that but at least it is seeing the light of day. The 1080p transfer works well with the tone of the show and the killer CGI visuals. There are no special features included on this release unless you count the two unaired episodes. I hope that Warner Bros and Cartoon Network continue this series this Spring otherwise, this “Season 1 Part 1” Blu-ray will not have a “Part 2” release to complete it.

Blu-ray Review “Puppet Master: The Blu-ray Collection – Volume 1”

Directors: David Schmoeller, David W. Allen, David DeCoteau
Number of discs: 3
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Full Moon Features
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Run Time: 264 minutes

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

“Puppet Master: The Blu-ray Collection – Volume 1” includes the following films “Puppet Master”, “Puppet Master II” and “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge”. When you think of Full Moon Features, you thing of “Puppet Master”. They are the face for this company and in fact, they are the most successful independent direct-to-video horror franchise of all time! There has been a dozen films in this series and they may not all be perfect but they are certainly fun. This series has also seen some great talent come through including Paul Le Mat (“American Graffiti”, William Hickey (“The Nightmare Before Christmas), Irene Miracle (“Midnight Express” and Jimmie F. Skaggs (“Lethal Weapon”. A must own for any Full Moon fan. I just have one question since this came out in late 2012…where is Volume 2?

Series Official Premise: The secret of life has been discovered by master puppeteer Andre Toulon. But we quickly discover Toulon’s secret of death in the form of five killer puppets-each one uniquely qualified for murder and mayhem. Tunneler has a nasty habit of boring holes in people with his drill bit head. Ms. Leech regurgitates killer leeches that suck her victims dry. Pinhead strangles his enemies with his powerful vice-like hands. Blade has a gleaming hook for one hand and a razor-sharp knife for the other. And Jester, the ruthless brains of the bunch, is absolutely merciless. Together, they’re an army of skilled assassins, diabolically programmed to guard the deadly secrets of the Puppet Master throughout the decades.

The first 3 films, “Puppet Master”, “Puppet Master II” and “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge”, have been fully remastered in HD and presented in 16:9. Each of them come stock with a 5.1 Surround Sound track as well. “Puppet Master” was surprisingly the worst of the bunch. But when you watch the comparison video below you realize how much work they actually did. Concerning “Puppet Master II” and “Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge”, they were both a vast improvement and looked pretty darn sharp in their high-def transfers. Full Moon actually went to work and deliver it’s fans some decent special features as well for these films. There are brand new introductions by Puppet Master creator Charles Band. There are also never-before-heard audio commentaries by Charles Band, writer C. Courtney Joyner (“Puppet Master III”), and director David DeCoteau (“Puppet Master III”). There are a few behind-the-scenes VideoZones episodes. There is a montage of “Puppet Master” kills. Lastly there is a rare “Puppet Master” promo and various Full Moon trailers included.

Check out below to see how the film was restored and a nice comparison:

Book Review “Birth School Metallica Death: The Biography Vol. 1”

“Birth School Metallica Death: The Biography Vol. 1”
Author: Paul Brannigan, Ian Winwood
Hardcover: 378 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Birth School Metallica Death: The Biography Vol. 1” written by former Kerrang! Editor Paul Brannigan and British rock journalist Ian Winwood is an in-depth look at arguable one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time. The first in a two part series Vol.1 documents from the bands inception in 1981 up through 1991 and the release of the groups ground breaking “Black” album. “Birth School Metallica Death: The Biography Vol. 1” is being released via Da Capo Press and features 378 pages along with 8 pages of photos.

From the time I first saw Metallica’s video for “One” I was hooked. Anything and everything related to the band I had to check out (good or bad) and even though they had released 3 albums prior to “And Justice for All” the album spawning the single “One” and I was late getting to the party it didn’t hinder my quest for all things Metallica. Prior to reading this book my expectations were not very high as I had thought that I pretty much read everything about the band that was available. Upon delving in to the 378 pages you instantly realize that you are going to be in for a treat as the authors take you places normally off limits to the public. Weather they are talking with members of the band at their practice space known as “HQ”, Telling stories of speaking with Lars on a phone booth at 3am or covering the listening party for the “Black Album” “Birth School Metallica Death: The Biography Vol. 1” has a bit of everything. Even if you have heard some of these accounts before I found it quite interesting to hear different take. Along with some great writing are 8 pages packed with rare photos going back to when Dave Mustaine was in the band. I only wished that there had been a few more of these photo pages placed throughout the book to correspond with the subsequent chapters.

Fans of Metallica and or heavy metal music in general will surely enjoy “Birth School Metallica Death: The Biography Vol. 1”. Not only does it contain some really cool interviews and accounts but it’s a fairly straight forward and easy read. So even if you are terminally shaken from years of head banging and moshing I encourage you to put down your devil horns and stagger over to your nearest book store and pick up a copy of this book.