CD/DVD Review: Devin Townsend “Retinal Circus”

Devin Townsend
“Retinal Circus”
Inside Out
Tracks: 29

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The always entertaining and energetic Devin Townsend is back with a brand new live performance DVD titled “Retinal Circus”. The one night performance was record in 2012 at London’s historic Roundhouse Theater and features 29 songs spanning Townsend’s impressive solo career as well as few songs from Devin’s previous project Strapping Young Lad. The concert is being released on DVD and Blu-Ray as well as double audio CD’s. For those wanting a little bit more the concert is also being released in a number of special edition formats some of which contain everything from guitar picks and art work to Townsend masks and an LP sized pop up “Retinal Circus” stage.

You just never know what will creep out of the mind of the man who brought us albums such as “Ziltoid the Omniscient” and “Epicloud” however, “Retinal Circus” delves further than we could have ever imagined as the performance is a non-stop assault on your senses. The concert features over 3 hours of music that is accompanied by an impressive visual show narrated by none other than fellow guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. The set list does an ok job of covering Devin’s catalog however fan favorites such as “Deadhead” and “Seventh Wave” did not make the cut. Thankfully Devin made up for this by performing two Strapping Young Lad songs. Both “Detox” and “Love?” are a part of the release and also feature a guest appearance by Strapping Young Lad co-guitarist Jed Simon. Fans will surely want to pick this release up for those two songs alone as it was great to hear some SYL material performed live again.

Jam packed with impressive visuals and sound “Retinal Circus” delivers on all levels. Fans wanting to enhance their experience will definitely want to pick up the Blu-Ray format of the concert and for the real diehard Devi fans getting your hands on one of the limited/Deluxe editions is a must!

Track Listing Disc 1:
• Intro
• Effervescent/True North
• Lucky Animals
• Planet of the Apes
• Truth
• War
• Soul Driven
• Planet Smasher
• Baby Song
• Vampolka
• Vampira
• Addicted
• Colour Your World
• The Grey’s

Track Listing Disc 2:
• Intro
• Hyperdrive
• Ih-Ah
• Where We Belong
• Detox
• Bend it Like Bender
• Life
• Kingdom
• Juular
• Love?
• Colonial Boy
• Grace
• Little Pig
• Credits
• Behind the Masks

Travis Pastrana talks about film “Nitro Circus 3D: The Movie”

Travis Pastrana is probably best known for his multiple X-Games Gold medals in motocross and as the face of “Nitro Circus”. Together with his fearless crew of daredevils they released their first full length feature titled “Nitro Circus 3D”. The film documents the crew’s adventure and antics as they make their way cross country to perform in the first ever “Nitro Circus Live” event. The film was recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD and Travis took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Media Mikes about the making of the film.

Adam Lawton: How did you first get involved with Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle?
Travis Pastrana: Gregg has been a motocross guy for a long time. He was actually working as a key grip on “Touched by an Angel” and in his off time he would work on motocross stuff. The first time I met Gregg was at a event in Las Vegas when I was 11. A few years later I met him again and he asked if I could choose to do any type of what would it be. I told him that I wanted to jump the Grand Canyon with a parachute on my back while doing a back flip on a dirt bike. The day before my eighteenth birthday I got a call out of the blue from Gregg asking if I wanted to still do that. He offered to pay for my sky diving lessons and to bring me out there. We shot that for “Global Addiction” and the following year we started “Nitro Circus”. He gave me a camera and we just started shooting and editing things. Gregg left being a true Hollywood guy and we traveled all over making motocross films. Jeremy Rawle came in two years later as we needed someone who knew about music rights and all that kind of stuff.  Gregg had gotten in to a bit of trouble for using some music he didn’t have the rights so that’s how Jeremy got involved. We had known him as he was a skier and motocross guy. We are kind of a hodgepodge crew but its fun.

AL: Whose idea was it to do a full feature length film?
TP: We had all wanted to do something like this for a long time. MTV came to us and asked initially if we wanted to do 20 episodes of the “Nitro Circus” television show. All of us with the exception of Street Bike Tommy who is still hanging sheet rock have just so much going on we didn’t have the time. A few of the Nitro guys worked on the “Jack Ass 3D” film and they came back and said that the 3D cameras were there and we had the chance to do something that had never been done before. The television stuff lost some of the bigness when it was transferred down so Gregg was like “Let’s do it”. He then went out to try and secure funding. No one wanted to take on the liability or pay the additional 5 million dollars in insurance. We ended up making the film on our own which allowed us to do whatever we wanted to do. If we thought something would work we tried. A lot of things didn’t work while a lot of stuff did. We just had so much fun traveling the world.

AL: How long did the open sequence of the film take to put together?
TP: The two things that cost the most and took the most time were the opening and closing scenes. They ended up changing what was originally supposed to be the closing scene to the opening scene. We learned quite a bit from making this film and we pretty much know what we are doing now. (Laughs) We had originally planned out the entire film however I ended up getting hurt before we shot the big finale. Everything had been geared towards this one stunt and in the bonus features you will get to see all this footage and things will make more sense. We had to change the whole movie around due to my shattered ankle but I think it actually works better. We were able to have all the guys from the “Nitro Circus Live” tour be in the film and that helped fill out the story.

AL: What was the most difficult part of making the film?
TP: To be honest the film was nothing but fun to make. We were able to come up with the funding by a lot of us putting up our own money to get this made. We were all ok with doing that. The distribution part of things I think was the hardest. The only people who seemed really excited about the project were those with kids. There was just no precedence and “Nitro Circus” isn’t like “Jack Ass”. We told them that we are not like “Jack Ass” as we are not hurting ourselves for amusement. We are a group of athletes that are doing some stupid stuff but it is different. We put in 6 million dollars to get the film made and then another 6 million to advertise the film. 3 million of that was just for the 3D cameras. The film essential cost 4 times what it should just because that’s how things work. Are goal was to make a really good film and I think we have done that.

AL: What do you think was the scariest part of shooting?
TP: There were quite a few. Most of them involved Aaron
“Wheels” Fotheringham. That guy is such an inspiration. He came to me at one point as he was pretty bummed that a lot of crashes and stuff didn’t make it in to the final cut of the film. I hate to break it down this way but Jolene crashed a lot and we couldn’t use all of them because she’s a pretty girl and it’s not funny to see a pretty girl crashing all the time. It’s also not funny when a guy in a wheelchair crashes. It makes you sad. During one stunt Wheels was partially knocked out and he started singing “My Little Butter Cup”. It was hilarious but we just couldn’t put it in. Those were some tough calls to make but it is what it is.

AL: What other things do you and the rest of the Nitro crew have in the works?
TP: Well Tommy is still hanging sheet rock. Jim had a real bad crash that has taken him out of active sports. He has a real good job and everything but he probably won’t be able to perform BMX anymore. Jolene has been doing stunts on movie after movie. She was one of the stunt drivers in the latest “Batman” film. She is doing a great job in that industry. Erik Roner has been skiing and picked up where he left off with that and his base jumping. For me NASCAR has been really big as well as Rally-Cross.

3D Blu-ray Review “Nitro Circus 3D: The Movie”

Actors: Travis Pastrana, Tommy Passemante, Jolene Van Vugt, Jeremy Rawle, Jim DeChamp
Directors: Gregg Godfrey, Jeremy Rawle
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Arc Entertainment
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Based on the MTV reality stunt series, “Nitro Circus: The Movie” takes the death-defying exploits of a gang of outrageous daredevils onto a bigger scale and also into the third-dimension. The 3D in the film is insane and this film really took advantage of the format. The film has heart as well as death-defying stunts. Travis Pastrana is today’s Evel Knievel and it is surprised he is still alive. The show is channeling its inner-Jackass but it takes it to a whole new level. In “Jackass”, the show is set to fail for laughs. These stunts need to succeed otherwise the people will most likely me killed. This film comes with warning and it should cause I literally was cringing throughout. Don’t try this at home kids…but be sure not to miss this either.

Official Premise: Travis Pastrana and his tightly knit, highly skilled, adrenaline-addicted friends bring their insane and hysterical adventures to the big screen, Dreaming up the most dangerous stunts in the world of action sports – whether back-flipping a bike between two 60-story buildings or going air-born to destroy their friends in a life size, high-speed game of Freedom Flyers — Pastrana and his gang are always at it. High Risk. High Octane. No Safety Nets Allowed.

This release from Arc Entertainment is a super three-disc combo pack including a 3D Blu-ray, a standard Blu-ray and a DVD of this film. So you watch it wherever you are and under any circumstance. I highly recommend viewing this in 3D, it is really the way to go for sure. I hope that Arc Entertainment is planning on releasing more 3D Blu-rays since this one is a big thumbs up. The 1080p transfer looks quite good for a stunt-based film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works perfectly with the broken bones and stunt effects, as well as the music.

The special features are decent overall. The back of the box cover though doesn’t list properly all the extras. There is an interview with Steve-O from “Jackass”. There are two behind-the-scenes featurettes focusing on “Gregg’s Car Roll” and “Roner’s Pond Skim”.  Both are highly recommend for an more detailed look into those skits. There are about seven minutes of deleted scenes, which equals to just more crazy stunts. There is also a sponsors spot for “All Season Long” and a trailer included.

DVD Review “Battle Circus”

Director:   Richard Brooks
Cast:   Humphrey Bogart, June Allyson, Keenan Wynn, Robert Keith
Distributed by: Warner Archive
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 90 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Humphrey Bogart carries such a presence and always delivers such a great performance.  He is one of the Hollywood legends and this film is no different.  Humphrey Bogart and June Allyson together in the film just work so well. This really represents the classic 50’s MGM productions.  Thanks to Warner Archive, this film is released on DVD for the first time and is also newly remastered.

The film is presented in 4 X 3 full frame and its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The audio included is a mono track like most released from Warner Archive. The B&W film looks awesome for a film that was released in 1953 that has has never been on DVD. The only extra that comes on this release though is a trailer.  But nonetheless, all fans of Bogart’s classic films will definitely want to check out this release.

Synopsis: Long before M*A*S*H, there was Battle Circus. Made during the Korean War, this tribute to the indomitable human spirit takes an authentic, almost documentary-like look at the nurses and doctors who operated in the battlefront Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals. Major Jed Webbe (Humphrey Bogart) is a brilliant, hard-bitten Army surgeon with a weakness for women and strong liquor. Fresh from the states arrives Lt. Ruth McCara (June Allyson), a naïve young nurse ready to save the world. The story of their love and heroism, told against the grimly realistic background of pounding artillery and deadly ambushes, forms the core of the film. The title Battle Circus comes from the way the mobile field units can strike their tents, move to a new battle area, then set them up again like circus roustabouts in nothing flat. And, like circus daredevils, these heroes risk life and death on a daily basis.

Blu-ray Review “Holy Flying Circus”

Directed by: Owen Harris
Starring: Darren Boyd, Charles Edwards, Steve Punt, Rufus Jones, Tom Fisher,
Phil Nichol
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Acorn Media
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Running Time: 90 minutes

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

When it comes to anything Monty Python, I am in like flint. This docudrama focuses on a few subjects that Python has been known best for censorship And scandals. I was curious to see how this film would work without any actualy members of the group but it didn’t disappoint at all. It was funny and completely zany in perfect Python traditions. It showcases animation sequences, cross dressing, fantasy sequences and just everything else that made Python work at Python. It is a fantastic tribute to the Monty Python troop. Any true fan of Monty Python should not miss out on this release for sure

If you are wondering what this film is, it is not a new Monty Python film. It is a “Pythonesque” docudrama which reimagines the controversy surrounding Monty Python’s 1979 film, “Life of Brian”, as it was met with widespread outcry and accusations of blasphemy. Michael Palin (played by Charles Edwards) and John Cleese (played by Darren Boyd) plan to appear in a BBC talk show about “Life of Brian” with a Church of England bishop and a staunchly Catholic broadcaster. The debate which ended up putting the Pythons in their most absurd role yet: the voice of reason.

“Holy Flying Circus” comes in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. It’s video transfer is only presented in 1080i, though it looks decent. The audio track included is also a little tame with its 2.0 stereo PCM track but work with what is given in the film. The special features on the release are nothing special. There is a brief but interesting “Making of the Holy Flying Circus” phonotrope. There are a three deleted scenes and an outtake reel, worth checking out if you enjoyed the film for sure. Lastly there are production stills included.

Blu-ray Review “The Last Circus”

Directed by: Alex de la Iglesiasia
Starring: Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre, Carolina Bang
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 107 minutes
Distributed by: Magnet Releasing

Film: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Honestly, how can you go wrong with a story about a clown that goes nuts and goes on a rampage. Well, in this case the film tries to go a lot deeper than it needs to. The film starts off decent and gives some interesting back story to show that this isn’t just a slash ’em up horror film. It very quickly though gets lost though in it uninteresting story and forgets to bring the “wow” factor. Towards the last 15 minutes of the film, I was even considering just turning it off…it is just very long and drawn out. I would have just been happy if the film focused just on troubled clown who took one day of shit too much and lost it.

This busy story starts in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, where a man in a clown suit massacres an entire platoon with a machete (good stuff like I said starting off). The man gets put in jail for life and his young son, Javier is left alone. Fast forward to 1973, Javier is trying follows in his father’s footsteps but falls for his bosses beautiful acrobat wife, Natalia. The three end up in a love triangle that leads to the boring…(I mean thrilling) events in the third act.

The extras on the disc are not great and nothing is in HD. The first feature is “Making of The Last Circus” is just your typical featurette with behind the scenes etc. There is a 7 minute montage of behind the scenes footage, not very exciting at all. The most interesting feature is about the film’s visual effects, which talks about the post-production contains over 600 effects shots. Then all that is left is a U.S. and an International Trailer and Teaser. Underwhelming extras for an underwhelming movie.

“The Last Circus” Hits DVD and Blu-ray on October 18


The 2010 Venice Film Festival Winner For Best Director And Best Screenplay
Makes Its DVD and Blu-ray™ Debut October 18 From
Magnolia Home Entertainment Under The Magnet Label

– Ain’t It Cool News
“If the idea of an unholy collaboration between Guillermo del Toro, Federico Fellini and William Castle appeals to you, put near- masterpiece The Last Circus on your must-see list right now.”
– Salon

“Cult status is assured.”
– Variety

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – Called “brilliant, bizarre, dazzling and utterly demented” (New York Times), the shocking tale of two murderous clowns in a twisted tale of love and vengeance, The Last Circus steps right up to Blu-ray and DVD October 18 from Magnolia Home Entertainment under the Magnet label. From cult director Álex de la Iglesia (The Oxford Murders, The Day of the Beast) and starring Antonio de la Torre (Volver, Che: Part Two), the “insane,” (Chud) “sinister and grotesquely funny” (Village Voice) film follows two clowns – one sad and one happy – as they enter into a peculiar and unforgettable love triangle.
The film follows Javier, a second generation clown who dreams to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Happy Clown but has seen too much tragedy and suffering in his life to be anything but its counterpart. He finds work in a circus where he befriends an outlandish cast of characters, but as the Sad Clown, he must take the abuse of the brutish Happy Clown, Sergio, who humiliates Javier daily in the name of entertainment. Included in the ménage is Natalia, a gorgeous acrobat and the abused wife of Sergio. Javier quickly falls deeply in love with her and attempts to rescue her from her tyrannical Happy Clown husband, however, Natalia is torn between her affection for Javier and her violent lust for Sergio.
Set in both the brutal Spanish Civil War and the tail end of the Franco regime, The Last Circus is a “a searing, intimate work riffing on Hitchcock, DePalma, Fellini, the Universal Monster films and German Expressionism” (Ain’t It Cool News). The DVD and Blu-ray contain bonus features including deleted scenes and the international trailer, and will be available for the suggested retail prices of $26.98 and $29.98 respectively.

Javier, a Sad Clown, finds work in a circus where he befriends an outlandish cast of characters, including the brutish Happy Clown, Sergio, who humiliates Javier daily in the name of entertainment. It is here that he meets Natalia, a gorgeous acrobat and abused wife of Sergio. Javier falls deeply in love with Natalia and tries to rescue her from her cruel and violent husband, unleashing Sergio’s jealousy. With neither man willing to back down, this twisted love triangle evolves into a ferocious battle between Sad Clown and Happy Clown, escalating to unbelievable heights in this shocking, irreverent and unforgettable film.

Bonus Features
Making of The Last Circus
Behind the Scenes Segments
Visual Effects
U.S. Trailer
International Teaser
International Trailer


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