DVD Review “The Ancient Egypt Anthology”

Channel: The History Channel
Number of discs: 6
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: A&E Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 9, 2012
Run Time: 540 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to learning about our past, I immediately think about The History Channel.  They always deliver impressive programming and nice DVD releases.  Though this release is not that impressive. Basically out of the 6 discs included, there are only two discs of new programs.  “Planet Egypt” was produced in 2012 and contains four 45 minutes episodes.  This four-part miniseries explores Egypt’s technology, culture, religion, wars and peace over 3,000 years. This is the star of the release and puts the others to shame.  Luckily this release is very cheap running for under $17 dollars on Amazon and it is worth it just for these two discs.  The rest of the extras are still informative and I will hold them as a bonus feature.

Next up on disc 3 and 4 is dated back from 2001, “Egypt: Beyond the Pyramids”.  This four-part series takes the viewers inside Egypt for (then) first-ever-filmed look into sites such as Tomb of Ramses II, the Abydos Boat Graves, and the skeletons at Mendes. Overall this series is decent but feels aged.  Disc 5 includes “Egypt: Engineering an Empire” from 2006, which runs 90 minute. Decent and includes some good information. The sixth disc is basically the dumping ground from the rest of the old specials. “Ancient Egypt: Modern Medicine” is the worst quality of the three but has this certain vintage charm.  “Egypt’s Great Queen” delivers some interesting information about Hatshepsut. “The Great Pyramids of Giza and Other Pyramids” is the oldest dating back to 1997. Lastly, we have the aging special “Ramses’ Egyptian Empire”.

Official Premise: From its unification in approximately 3100 B.C. to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., ancient Egypt was the preeminent civilization in the Mediterranean world. This special 6-disc collectible set headlined by HISTORY’s best-selling programs; including the acclaimed Egypt-focused episode of the Emmy®-winning series ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE, and the highly-rated mini-series PLANET EGYPT, THE ANCIENT EGYPT ANTHOLOGY pays homage to this rich and complex culture and explores it from its very beginnings as a land of disparate peoples, through its dynastic zenith and to its ultimate decline.


Blu-ray Review “The Terminator Anthology”

Directors: James Cameron, McG, Jonathan Mostow
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Eddie Furlong, Nick Stahl, Christian Bale and Sam Worthington
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating: R / PG-13 / Not Rated
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Running Time: 472 minutes

The Terminator: 3.5 of 5 stars
Terminator 2: Judgment Day: 4.5 of 5 stars
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: 3 out of 5 stars
Terminator Salvation: 3 of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s amazing when you look back on the “The Terminator” franchise and see that it has been kicking ass since 1984 through 2009, and I am sure we haven’t seen the end. This anthology box set release is a Best Buy Exclusive and is the first time that these four films from the “Terminator” franchise have been released together including “The Terminator (1984)”, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)”, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)” and “Terminator Salvation (2009)”. The five-disc release offers seven cuts, the theatrical editions of each film, plus the THX extended and special editions cuts of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” edits and the R-rated director’s cut of “Terminator Salvation”. This is truly the definitive collection of all four films on Blu-ray…if you don’t own these films already.  If you own this already then this will not be for you since it is basically just a repackage.

If you are looking for any new remasters of this these films, keep waiting for the future foreign releases. ll the films are presented in 1080p transfer, all the same as their previous releases.  “The Terminator” still looks good but not perfect within its 1.85:1 transfer, though it sounds amazing with its uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track.  “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” still looksstunning and holds up with its 1080p transfer and aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The film also blows up surround sound with its DTS-HD MA 6.1 audio track.   “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” disc still has its problem though it does come with a 1080p transfer, it is still sporting its  Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Lastly since “Terminator Salvation” is the newest it looks amazing on Blu-ray with its 1080p transfer and 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 is also easily the best in the franchise behind “T2”.

The following special features included on this release are very impressive. “The Terminator” includes “A Restrospective” documentary, seven deleted scenes and “Creating The Terminator: Visual Effects & Music” featurette”.  T”Terminator 2: Judgment Day” includes over 8 hours of interactive special features including behind-the-scenes video and multimedia galleries, storyboard-script mode, quizzes and games. There are also two commentary tracks including James Cameron and writer William Wisher and 26 cast & crew members. “Terminator: Rise of the Machines” includes an intro from Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as three audio commentaries with the stars and director. There is the HBO First Look, two featurettes; “Dressed to Kill” and “Toys in Action” and also a gag reel. Lastly there is the Making of the Video Game.  “Terminator Salvation” packs a punch within its WB Maximum Mode with Storyboard Comparisons and an Terminator Mythology Timeline.  There is also a documentary called “Re-Forging the Future: Reinventing the Franchise” and lastly a featurette called “The Moto-Terminator: The Relationship Between the Filmmakers and Ducati”.

Buy The Terminator Anthology exclusively at Best Buy on 8/28!
Like us on Facebook – http://on.fb.me/WBEntFB
Follow us on Twitter – http://bit.ly/WBHETW

Available Only at Best Buy: http://bit.ly/TerminatorAnthology


CD Review: The Jeff Healey Band “Full Circle: The Live Anthology”

The Jeff Healey Band
“Full Circle: The Live Anthology” (4-disc box set)
Studio: Eagle Records
Number of discs: 4 (3 CDs + 1 DVD)
DVD Run Time: 64 minutes

Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Jeff Healey Band’s “Full Circle: The Live Anthology” box set is a most-welcome breath of fresh air from the holiday-spawned scheme in which record companies drudge up every goody that an artist has ever recorded and repackages it in hopes that completists will then part with their cash and repurchase a mass of material, most of which they already own.

The folks at Eagle Records skip the usual array of greatest hits, previously unreleased studio cuts, dusted-off-from-the-vaults demos and special remixes that are typical of this type of scam and, instead, serve up three CDs worth of live concert performances: one from 1989’s Montreal Jazz Festival, another from the Switzerland-based St. Gallen Open Air Festival in 1991, as well a Toronto show from 1995. A DVD of the 1991 show rounds out the package. It’s a ballsy maneuver and winds up turning what could have been a posthumous insult to into a tribute that truly befits Healey and is so richly deserved.

The set lists from each of the three shows documented by “Full Circle” often include the same songs and, as such, provide anchor points by which the listener can specifically hear Healey and his band grow from a raw three-piece outfit that, while still immensely talented, could be somewhat ragged and repetitive in its instrumentation into a finely-tuned machine that was a force to be reckoned with. The performances showcase the band ripping through their own material (including the sentimental mega-hit “Angel Eyes”) as well as an assortment of revved-up covers that includes the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”, the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You”. At the core of each and every song is Healey’s virtuoso blues guitar work and a bare-bones rhythm section that augments him perfectly. Envision ZZ Top or Neil Young’s Crazy Horse being fronted by Stevie Ray Vaughn and you’re pretty much there – save for one thing.

Only the DVD of the 1991 show allows the viewer/listener to discover the fact that Healey was entirely blind. Although often seated with his double-necked guitar positioned pedal-steel style in his lap and fretting in a way that more resembles piano playing, the video also captures him playing his axe behind his head, with his teeth and even with his feet. These flashy displays would seem indulgent and cliché if the musician presented throughout the 4 discs seemed arrogant and out to impress in a sideshow circus performer kind of way, but that’s far from the case. Healey’s frequent down-to-earth stage banter and ever-present true love of the blues consistently allows the music to outshine the man himself.

The only item that has been overlooked by the creators of the box set is the inclusion of any sort of write-up that explains why these three particular shows were chosen or any sort of biographical information about Healey. Liner notes from any of his contemporaries sharing their insights as to what made him such a consummate and gifted artist would almost seem to be a mandatory component as well. However, the only item included is a 4-page booklet that’s solely comprised of the track lists from each of the discs and restoration credits for the video footage contained on the DVD. Given that this text is already printed on the back of the standard-issue DVD case insert, it’s redundant and unnecessary – and a massive lost opportunity.

Regardless of this oversight, “Full Circle” is a well-envisioned package that, instead of being superfluous, becomes a necessary historical document. Fine musicianship rarely shines as bright as Healey’s and this set allows us to see a light that was extinguished far too early.