Blu-ray Review “21 Jump Street”

Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Running Time: 109 minutes

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

In the mass flood of remakes, this action/comedy easily stands out as one of the best. The duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are a great team and really nail their roles in this film.  The film is packed with laugh-out-loud comedy, but also contains some great action as well.  A truly great blend of the genres.  Fans of the original series, will also rejoice to see great cameos from “21 Jump Street” originals Johnny Depp and Peter Deluise. I also really appreciate that first time live-action directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller really went head-in with this film and didn’t deliver a lame PG-13 film, it is balls-to-the-wall raunchy and that is why this film is so bad-ass! So the only question left is…when is “21 Jump Street 2” coming out??

The Blu-ray presentation is good for Sony’s standards.  The 1080p resolution with aspect ratio of 2.39:1, looks good but doesn’t break any records for Blu-ray.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track is great though and really delivers the action well.  This release also comes stocked with an Ultraviolet digital streaming copy, which I will be revisting quite a bit.

The special features are jam-packed with this Blu-ray release. There is an busy-yet hysterical audio commentary including Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.   There are about 30 minutes of deleted scenes included, some of them are fantastic and I would have loved to see an extended cut with some of them possibly included.  There is a decent length gag reel included as well.  This looked like a really fun production.  Next up is “Cube-O-Rama”, which is a short montage of Ice Cube’s scenes, not really my favorite aspect of the film.  “Back to School” and “Brothers in Arms” are two featurettes looking into the production with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.  “Johnny Depp on Set” is a short piece on Depp’s cameo. “The Rob Riggle Show” is a laugh-riot with some great behind-the-scenes footage.  Lastly “Peter Pan on the Freeway” focuses on the film’s big action sequence.

Film Review “21 Jump Street”

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube
Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 1 hour 49 mins
Columbia

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

2005. High school seniors Schmidt (Hill) and Janko (Tatum) are on opposite ends of the popularity meter. Schmidt is quiet and smart and has a horrible time talking to girls. Janko is the classic big man on campus. For very different reasons, neither attends their senior prom.

2012. Reunited at the police academy, the two develop a friendship. But their first crack at big time crooks will have to wait. They’re on bicycle duty. But when an “old and recycled” program is reinstated they find themselves assigned under cover as high school students hoping to uncover a new drug and its manufacturer. And the fun begins!

Hilarious from beginning to end, and featuring a surprisingly funny performance by Channing Tatum (who knew this guy could be funny…he’s always brooding every time I see him), “21 Jump Street” is the funniest film of the year so far. Both cops find out that high school isn’t the same the second time around. While Janko was the epitome of cool in 2005, he finds that the shift of power now favors the more studious kids. Which works out fine for Schmidt, whose high school highlight was forming the Juggling Society (one man, three balls). It’s kind of like “The Breakfast Club” only now Anthony Michael Hall is cooler then Judd Nelson.

Both leads do a great job conveying they’re new stations in life. Ice Cube is the, in his words, stereotypical angry black police captain, and he has fun with the role. Supporting characters, including Chris Parnell, Rob Riggle and Dave Franco (James’ little brother and an upcoming talent to watch) keep the film moving along briskly.

Interview with Gary Daniels

When you think of actions movies, you should be thinking about Gary Daniels.  He recently co-starred along side Sylvester Stallone in “The Expendables” and Wesley Snipes in “Game of Death”.  Gary took a few minutes to chat with Movie Mikes about working on his films and what he has planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how it working with Sylvester Stallone both acting and directing in “The Expendables”?
Gary Daniels: As you can imagine I was kinda excited at the prospect of working with the writer/creator of “Rocky” and the star of “Rambo” and I have to say working with Stallone didn’t disappoint . The man has an incredible energy, whether working out in the gym with him or working on set…the man is full of energy. He is constantly in motion but is very focused.  He knows what he wants, has a clear vision and knows how to get it. As an actor it instills confidence in you when your director is clear about what h e wants and how to go about achieving that result. He is a very intense director but I found him to be very open minded when I had any kind of suggestions about the blocking or the character. I found him to be very inspirational.

MG: What was the most difficult task of working on “The Expendables”?
GD: There wasn’t too much that was difficult about working on “The Expendables”, I have done quite a few action movies now. For me, as someone that has done leads and is used to having a lot of say in the choreography and direction of my fights, I would say the most difficult thing was not having any input in those areas.

MG: Tell us about working on the film “Game of Death”, does Wesley Snipes still have game?
GD: I was hired on “Game of Death” kinda last minute and the script was being re-written as we were shooting…which presented its own challenges. I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to work with Wesley Snipes, but I didn’t get to play the character of Zander the way I would have liked to.  But part of being an actor is being mailable and being able to accept direction, so I always give 100% regardless. It’s always fun playing the bad guy, especially one as ruthless as Zander. Plus its always educational when you have a chance to work with such experienced actors as Robert Davi and Wesley Snipes. Wesley was obviously going through turmoil in his life at the time we were shooting, so whether he bought his A game to the film or not I will let the viewers judge for themselves. He is obviously a talented individual or he wouldn’t have reached such heights in his career.

MG: You reunited with “Expendables” cast Eric Roberts and Steve Austin, in “Hunt to Kill”, tell us about working working on that film and with them again?
GD: Most of my scenes in “The Expendables” were with Steve and Eric, so we spent a lot of time together.  They are both very down to earth and funny guys, so we had a blast together. It was Steve that called me and asked me to work on “Hunt to Kill”, so it was an easy choice to say “Yes”. I didn’t have any scenes with Eric in “Hunt to Kill” but was with Steve most of the time. For a bloke that looks so big and intimidating he is one of the nicest guys you can hope to work with on and off the set. On this film I got to choreograph and shoot a fight between us. It is always a challenge to choreograph for the different kinds of athletes, actors, martial artists that you work with in films and this was no different trying to highlight both of our strengths as we are obviously from very different backgrounds.

MG: How was it working with Steven Seagal in “Submerged”, any cool set stories?
GD: ‘Submerged’ was not one of my favourite experiences, my character was originally very pivotal , but Mr Seagal had other ideas and in the end.  They might as well of hired a stuntman to play the role as all the dialogue and relationship between his and my character was cut. Well every actor has their own vision for their films and being the star of the film you will usually get your way so for me I just get on with it and do the best I can under the given circumstances. Actually most of the cast and crew were from England,  so we all had a blast on and off the set. Nuff said!

MG: Tell us about playing Kenshirô in “Fist of the North Star” and working with Tony Randel?
GD: I was a fan of the anime before I was asked to do the film. So I knew it was gonna be very difficult to translate the anime to live action, especially back in 94 before CGI had been so developed. But I loved the character that I wasn’t about to turn it down. The first challenge for me was the physical one, Kenshiro (like most anime characters) has an awsome, huge physique. So I began a regime of training lifting heavier weights than I had worked with before and went from 180 to 192 lbs. Trouble is we were working such long hours during the summer in a sweltering sound stage with no air conditioning, that as the shoot progressed I slowly lost all that weight as I couldnt get in the gym to maintain. I think Tony had a good vision for the film but he certainly wasn’t into martial arts and didn’t like to shoot the fights. He felt the heart of the story was the love triangle between Kenshiro, Shin and Julia and that by focusing on that it would elevate the film above being a mere ‘martial arts’ film. Personally I think the fans wanted to see Kenshiro kicking ass. Again different visions, but overall I like the film and the way it turned out. The trouble when making an adaptation of an anime or video game is that you have to try to make a film that appeases the hardcore fans but also makes sense to viewers that have no idea about the original source material…not easy.

MG: What has been the most difficult film that you have work on to date?
GD: Every film presents its own challenges. Coming from a martial arts background my hardest challenge is trying to convince producers/directors to take me seriously as an actor so sometimes I end up trying too hard. Then when I choreograph action its tough getting the powers that be to let me control how it is shot and edited. When I do the lead in smaller films, I  wish I could work on bigger films that get more exposure. When you get on bigger films but playing smaller roles,  I miss being involved in the film making process.  The grass is always greener on the other side. Some films you get along with everybody but some there is a clash with other cast members, as I say every film presents their own challenges.

MG: Tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
GD: I just spent three months in Thailand working on the 1st two parts of a trilogy , “The Mark – Light 777” and “The Mark – Bangkok Rising” with Craig Scheffer and Eric Roberts…yes Eric again. The 3rd part will be shot in Europe this summer. Next up will be the lead in a MMA project called “Forced to Fight”. I am also waiting to hear on a bigger project that goes this summer but its not locked so I don’t wanna say too much right now. I am training hard and reading scripts ,so as always in this business the future is never easy to plan.