Blu-ray Review "Schindler's List: 20th Anniversary Edition"

Actors: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle
Directors: Steven Spielberg
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Run Time: 196 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“Schindler’s List” is one spectacular film. You can sum up this film that it is – an experience.  It is easily one of Spielberg’s best films. The film was beautifully shot in black-and-white with some amazing cinematography and fantastic performances.  This film was also not afraid to show the horrors of the Holocaust.  This year marks the film’s 20th Anniversary and the first time ever released on high-def Blu-ray.  This limited edition release went through an extensive high-definition restoration from the 35mm film original negative under the supervision of Spielberg himself. Overall, this release is a must for any Spielberg fan and I guarantee you will be left marveling at the wonderful Blu-ray release, just don’t check the special features.

Official Premise: Adapted from the novel by Thomas Keneally, Steven Spielberg’s masterful film tells the incredible true story of the courageous Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson). Initially a member of the Nazi party, the Catholic Schindler risks his career and life, and ultimately goes bankrupt, to employ 1,100 Jews in his crockery factory during the Holocaust. Schindler’s Jewish accountant (Ben Kingsley) serves as his conscience, as Schindler conducts business with an obstinate and cruel Nazi commander (Ralph Fiennes), who viciously kills Jewish prisoners from the balcony of his villa overlooking a prison camp. Filmed entirely in black-and-white on location in Poland, “Schindler’s List” does not downplay the faults of its magnanimous and unlikely hero, but relates a story of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of horrific devastation and tragedy.

Universal really went all in with this 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release.  It comes in a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet digital copy.  The package comes within a high quality DigiPack slipcase. With the supervision of Speilberg, they did such a wonderful job restoring this film and delivering it on Blu-ray with a flawless 1080p transfer within its 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The black-and-white really pops on off the screen and looks all around amazing. Besides the video restoration, Spielberg also supervised the film’s audio elements and let me tell you the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track really sounds quite amazing. John Williams beautiful, yet haunting score also benefits from this great track.

The next part where things get a little disappointing. For the first time on Blu-ray and the film’s 20th anniversary, I was hoping for some real stunning extras. Well that is not the case since there is only extra decent included.  There is no new commentary tracks, interviews or retrospectives.  “Voices From the List” is presented only in standard definition and runs just over 75 minutes long.  It is an in-depth look at the production. It is still a wonderful documentary but does not make-up for the major lack of content.  Next up is a brief look at the non-profit organzition with Steve Spielberg in “USC Shoah Foundation Story”. Lastly, there is a promo on the online application for “IWitness”.  I still say buy the Blu-ray for the wonderfully restored film, just be prepared for a major let down in the extras department.

Blu-ray Review “The Muppet Christmas Carol: It’s Not Easy Being Scrooge Special Edition (20th Anniversary)”

Starring: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, David Rudman
Director: Brian Henson
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Run Time: 85 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
EXtras: 4 out of 5 stars

There is no film that I think about Christmas more with that “The Muppet Christmas Carol”.  It is one of my all-time favorites.  The music, the Muppets, the Christmas cheer…couldn’t ask for anything more.  This film has also never looked better on Blu-ray.  Disney really gave this film a really nice 20th anniversary edition release with this “It’s Not Easy Being Scrooge Special Edition”.  Although, this release only included the theatrical version and does not include the extended cut with the song “When Love is Gone”. I am sure this is going to upset many folks but it is what it is.  This does though include a very sharp digitally remastered 1080p transfer with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  I really though this was a nice upgrade for such a wonderful film.  If you are looking to get into the holiday mood, then cuddle up with some hot chocolate and get ready to sing-along with the Muppets.

I am going to turn this review over to Gonzo to give the official premise: “Greetings, holiday movie fans and culture lovers, I am the Great Gonzo.or as I am better known to fans of this classic motion picture-literary legend Charles Dickens. Ready to laugh, cry, sing, frolic, cavort, and enjoy yourself beyond belief!? Well, you’re in luck, because this Great Gonzo’s “From Chickens to Dickens” 20th anniversary edition of The Muppet Christmas Carol is guaranteed to put you in a holiday spirit that will stay with you forever – or at least until your Aunt Edna starts complaining that nobody is eating the fruitcake she brought.again! Available for the first time ever on Blu-ray with high-definition sound and picture, so you can enjoy even more of my blue-ness, not to mention the incredible spectacle of Kermit the Frog as Bob Crachit, Miss Piggy as Emily Crachit, Academy Award-winner Michael Caine as Scrooge, wonderful songs by Academy Award-winner Paul Williams, and, of course, my pal Rizzo the Rat as.well, Rizzo the Rat. A heartwarming and hilarious holiday classic, told as never before by yours truly! Yule love it! Happy Holidays!”

I am a big fan of this special featurets included on this Blu-ray. One of my favorite extras on this Blu-ray is the “Disney Intermission”. This is a brand new bonus feature, which activates when the film is paused and leads into five classic holiday-themed songs performed by the Muppets Chickens and chums. There is an all-new audio commentary with Muppets including Kermit, Rizzo, Gonzo and many more.  Highly recommended. “Frogs, Pigs and Humbug: Unwrapping a New Holiday Classic. A Behind the Scenes Look” is a vintage featurette hosted by director Brian Henson, Gonzo and Rizzo and gives a nice behind-the-scenes into the making of film. There is a funny blooper reel included form the the set.  “Pepe Profiles Gonzo: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Weirdo” is a funny featurette on Pepe the King Prawn. Lastly, Gonzo and Rizzo take the lead in showing us how the holiday is celebrated in “Christmas Around the World” feature.

Blu-ray Review “A League of Their Own: 20th Anniversary”

Starring: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Jon Lovitz
Director: Penny Marshall
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Run Time: 128 minutes

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

First, let me admit that I am not a big fan of sports films at all.  But there is something about “A League of Their Own” that stands out among the rest. The cast is so phenomenal and their performances are some emotional…and funny as well.  This film has a great blend of comedy and drama. This year “A League of Their Own” is celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary and Sony is given this film a nice treatment on Blu-ray. They also timed it just right releasing– just one week before the 2012 World Series of Baseball.  If you are looking for a chance to revisit this film in HD, just a reminder though “There is no crying in baseball”.

Synopsis: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna star in this major league comedy from the team that brought you Big and City Slickers. Hanks stars as Jimmy Dugan, a washed-up ballplayer whose big league days are over. Hired to coach in the All-American Girls Baseball League of 1943 – while the male pros are at war – Dugan finds himself drawn back into the game by the hearts and heroics of his all-girl team. Teammates Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell round out this all-star roster, with Jon Lovitz adding a scene-stealing cameo

Sony delivered a home run with its Blu-ray presentation.  The video looks sharp and very clear with its 1080p transfer and in its 2.39:1 original aspect ratio.  The film doesn’t look 20 years old as well,  still hard to believe it has been that long.  The DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds amazing as well with the sports scenes and dialogue.  The special features included are impressive as well.  There is a fun commentary with Penny Marshall, Lori Petty, Megan Cavanagh, and Tracy Reiner.  There are fifteen deleted scenes with optional video introductions with Director Penny Marshall. There is an exclusive documentary “called “Nine Memorable Innings”, which  features interviews with the cast and filmmakers. Lastly, there is the music video for Madonna’’s “This Used to Be My Playground” (still have the single cassette).


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Trapt gets “Reborn” on November 20th

First Single “Bring It” Slated To Impact Radio October 1st And Double Single Available On iTunes

US Tour Kicks Off On October 24th In Las Vegas

(New York, NY – October 4, 2012) – California rockers Trapt are returning to reclaim their place on the charts with the release of their latest album, Reborn. The latest offering is slated for release on November 20th via Epochal Artist Records and distributed via EMI Label Services. The album will be released in a standard version as well as a deluxe edition which will feature five acoustic songs from Reborn as well as the never before released fan-favorite “Avelyn.” Reborn was produced by Trapt vocalist Chris Taylor Brown and Matt Thorne known for his work with The Eels, The Donnas & Bonnie McKee.

“This record is really a new sound for Trapt,” states vocalist/songwriter Brown. “With Reborn we really wanted to use new sounds and textures as well as experiment with delays, reverbs, synths and many other techniques we have learned over the years or have heard in our influences. Lyrically, this album is as deep and thoughtful as any album that Trapt has done in the past.”

From the opening note of the first single “Bring It” to the album closer “You’re No Angel,” it is clear Trapt is back to pick up where previous hits such as “Headstrong,” “Echo” and “Who’s Going Home With You Tonight?” left off. “Bring It” impacts radio the week of October 1st and was also just released to iTunes in double single format bundled alongside “Love Hate Relationship” and can be purchased at A video for the first single was recently shot in Las Vegas and will be released in the next few weeks.

Trapt will also be heading out on tour in support of Reborn. The tour kicks off October 24th in Las Vegas and runs through November 29th wrapping up in Chico, California. The tour will make stops in Colorado Springs, CO, Fargo, ND, Detroit, MI and West Hollywood, CA to name a few along the way.

The track listing for Reborn is:
1. Bring It
2. Love Hate Relationship
3. Experience
4. Eye Of The Storm
5. Livewire
6. Going Under
7. Too Close
8. Strength In Numbers
9. Get Out Of Your Own Way
10. When It Rains
11. You’re No Angel

Trapt is Chris Taylor Brown on vocals, Robb Torres on guitar, Pete Charell on bass and Dylan Thomas Howard on drums.

2012 Tour Dates
Oct. 24 Las Vegas, NV Vinyl
Oct. 26 Riverton, WY The Armory
Oct. 27 Wheat Ridge, CO Copperfields
Oct. 29 Colorado Springs, CO The Black Sheep
Oct. 31 Fargo, ND House Of Rock @ The Hub
Nov. 1 Rochester, MN The Wicked Moose
Nov. 3 Flint, MI The Machine Shop
Nov. 4 Detroit, MI Sound Board @ Motor City Casino
Nov. 7 Joliet, IL Mojoes
Nov. 8 Libertyville, IL Austin’s Saloon
Nov. 9 Fort Wayne, IN Piere’s
Nov. 10 Columbus, OH AlRosa Villa
Nov. 20 West Hollywood, CA Roxy Theatre
Nov. 21 Scottsdale, AZ Pub Rock Live
Nov. 23 San Jose, CA Musik Ink
Nov. 24 Sacramento, CA Ace Of Spades
Nov. 27 Santa Rosa, CA Last Day Saloon
Nov. 28 Modesto, CA Fat Cat
Nov. 29 Chico, CA Senator Theatre
Nov. 30 Reno, NV Knitting Factory

Blu-ray Review “Newsies: 20th Anniversary Edition”

Directed by: Kenny Ortega
Starring: Christian Bale, David Moscow, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall, Max Casella
MPAA Rating: PG
Distributed by: Walt Disney Video
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Running Time: 121 minutes

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

It is hard to believe that it is already the 20th anniversary of the classic family musical. “Newsies” was a film that I grew up watching, as did my wife (one of her favorites) and it is hard to believe that so much time has passed. The film still holds up and still entertains just like it did 20 years ago. “Newsies” is currently also spreading the news on Broadway nightly and that is one thing I always thought this film would work great on the stage. The dance sequences are absolutely incredible and brilliantly choreographed by Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical”) and features music from the Hollywood legend Alan Menken (“Beauty And The Beast”). It is also crazy to see The Dark Knight and Academy Award winner Christian Bale, so young and not only dancing up-a-storm but also singing. “Santa Fe” is one of my favorites musical tracks ever. Fans of this film need to pick this release up immediately and get ready sing-along!

For a film that shot over 20 years ago before high definition, the 1080p video resolution looks clear and impressive. There is a little grain here and there but overall, I think it is a nice transfer and should satisfy most fans of the film with Disney’s state-of-the-art digital restoration. The audio in this film is key since it is a musical and it sounds great with its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The music is blended well with the dialogue and is not overpowered. It is even able to come through nicely with your wife belting every line in your ear during each song.

The special features here include nothing new for its 20th anniversary release but still are decent. There is a 2002 commentary track with Director and Co-Choreographer Kenny Ortega, Producer Michael Finnell, Writers Bob Tzudiker and Noni White and Co-Choreographer Peggy Holmes, overall fun and interesting. “Newsies, Newsies, See All About It” is a featurette hosted by Max Cassella, Aaron Lohr and Arvie Lowe Jr. featuring interviews, rehearsal and on-set footage. “Newsies: The Inside Story” is another featurette continuing where the last left off with interviews on production design, costume, cinematography. “The Strike! The True Story” looks at historical context and background from the events that inspired the film. “Storyboard-to-Screen Comparison” is a nice feature with side-by-side view available with optional Commentary by Production Designer William Sandell. Lastly there are two trailers available as well and a sing-along feature in the subtitle menu as well.

Blu-ray Review “Unforgiven: 20th Anniversary Edition”

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
Run Time: 131 minutes

2012 Release: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Unforgiven” celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a newly restored Blu-ray, releases in the Digibook format, which is one of my favorites. I feel that the Blu-ray Book, not only looks cooler than a boring case but also includes some really great information. The commemorative book contains 54 pages of great behind the scene images, script and rare photos. I recently reviewed Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” and I made a comment that I am not the biggest fan of his work, though this film an exception. It is a must purchase for fans of this movie, especially if you don’t own it.

Clint Eastwood delivers a great performance. He won an Oscar for his amazing job directing this Western, it is his best effort to date easily. I also really enjoy Gene Hackman’s role as he is one kick-ass baddie, he also won an Oscar for his role. Morgan Freeman always did a fantastic job as the loyal Ned. The Blu-ray video was definitely an improvement over 2006’s release with a cleaner 2.39:1 original transfer. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio surround track was also impressive especially during the shoot-out scenes.

The special features includes on the release are decent but nothing new from 2006’s Blu-ray release. There is a commentary track from Eastwood’s biographer Richard Schickel, disappointing that Eastwood himself is not on this track though. There are four behind the scenes documentaries covering the making of the film. The first is called “All on Accounta Pullin’ a Trigger”, which features 2002 interviews with Eastwood, Freeman and Hackman. The second is called “Eastwood & Co.: Making Unforgiven”. “Eastwood…A Star” is the next feature is focuses on the film’s actor turned director, my least feature by far. Lastly and also my favorite is “Eastwood on Eastwood” a 108-minute documentary produced and directed by Schickel. Next up where is a classic episode “Duel at Sundown” of the Western show “Maverick” (not HD) and also a trailer is included. Decent features if you don’t own this movie already but nothing special to make you run out to buy if not.

“Unforgiven’ comes to Blu-ray for the first time on February 21!  Celebrate the 20th Anniversary with this new release.  Buy it on Blu-ray™ Book or Download to Own
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20th Century Fox to produce a fifth “Die Hard”

Keep Valentines day 2013 open all you “Die Hard” fans. John McClain is back…and he’s bringing his son with him.

Today during a call in to the Jim Rome Radio Show, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment Tom Rothman announced that production will begin this January on “A Good Day to Die Hard,”the fifth film in the popular series. Plot details were scarce but Rothman did say that the film will find Bruce Willis’ character travelling to Russia to bring back his trouble prone son, unaware of the young mans true reasons to be in the country. No one has been cast yet in the role of John McClain, Jr.

“A Good Day to Die Hard” is scheduled to open on February 14, 2013. Yippee Ki Yay!