Disney, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox Announce The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection

/ PR Newswire / — As anticipation builds for the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first new film in the Star Wars Saga in a decade, The Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., and 20th Century Fox today announced the upcoming release of The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection. For the first time ever, all six epic films in the Saga, from The Phantom Menaceto Return of the Jedi, will be available on Digital HD throughout the galaxy – or at least here on Earth – globally beginning Friday, April 10.

“Since the debut of the first film nearly 40 years ago, Star Wars has become a worldwide phenomenon with legions of fans from every generation,” said Alan Bergman, President, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s only fitting that audiences enjoy this legendary Saga and its many fascinating behind-the-scenes stories on a wide variety of platforms, and we’re very excited to finally bring all six films to Digital HD for the first time.”

“We’re thrilled that fans will be able to enjoy the Star Wars Saga on their digital devices wherever they go,” commented Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “These films broke new ground in technology, design, sound, and visual effects, and we’ve created some very special bonus material which delves into the Saga’s rich history, including new and never-before-released conversations between legendary Star Wars artists – the masters who helped George bring his iconic universe to life.”

With Star Wars: Episodes I-VI available for purchase as a complete digital movie collection and individually, viewers will have the Rebel forces at their beck and call across their favorite devices anywhere – sunbathing at the beach, relaxing in their living room with friends, or waiting to board a flight to Endor (or elsewhere).

Enhancing the movie collection are a host of never-before-seen special features including Star Wars: Discoveries from Inside and insightful Conversations between key contributors from across this celebrated film franchise, plus a curated collection of classic Star Warsextras from each film. These are the droids you’re looking for:

BONUS
*Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer
STAR WARS EPISODE I: The Phantom Menace

  • Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back
  • Discoveries From Inside: Models & Miniatures
  • Legacy content includes “The Beginning”; The Podrace: Theatrical Edit; plus eight deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE II: Attack of the Clones

  • Conversations: Sounds In Space
  • Discoveries From Inside: Costumes Revealed
  • Legacy content includes “From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II”; State Of The Art: The Previsualization Of Episode II; and “Films Are Not Released, They Escape”; plus Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage and six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE III: Revenge of the Sith

  • Conversations: The Star WarsThat Almost Was
  • Discoveries From Inside: Hologram & Bloopers
  • Legacy content includes documentaries “Within A Minute: The Making Of Episode III”; The Journey Part 1; and The Journey Part 2; plus six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A New Hope (20th Century Fox)

  • Conversations: Creating A Universe
  • Discoveries From Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber
  • Legacy content includes “Anatomy Of A Dewback”; Star WarsLaunch Trailer; plus eight deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE V: The Empire Strikes Back

  • Conversations: The Lost Interviews
  • Discoveries From Inside: Matte Paintings Unveiled
  • Legacy content includes “A Conversation With The Masters” (2010); “Dennis Muren: How Walkers Walk”; “George Lucas On Editing The Empire Strikes Back 1979”; and “George Lucas On The Force: 2010”; plus six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE VI: Return of the Jedi

  • Conversations: The Effects
  • Discoveries From Inside: The Sounds Of Ben Burtt
  • Legacy content includes “Classic Creatures: Return Of The Jedi”; “Revenge Of The Jedi Teaser Trailer”; Return Of The Jedi Launch Trailer; “It Began TV Spot”; “Climactic Chapter TV Spot”; plus five deleted scenes.

About The Walt Disney Studios
For over 90 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world.

Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; Disney|Lucasfilm; and Touchstone Pictures, the banner under which live-action films from DreamWorks Studios are distributed. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!

About Lucasfilm Ltd.
Lucasfilm Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production. In addition to its motion-picture and television production, the company’s activities include visual effects and audio post-production, cutting-edge digital animation, interactive entertainment software, and the management of the global merchandising activities for its entertainment properties including the legendary STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES franchises. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in northern California.

Lucasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. STAR WARS © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

About 20th Century Fox
One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, 20th Century Fox Film produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of 20th Century Fox Film: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

Blu-ray Review “Musicals 4-Movie Collection”

Starring: Howard Keel, Cyd Charisse, Douglas Fowley, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller
Directors: Stanley Donen, Vincente Minnelli, George Sidney, David Butler, Gene Kelly
Number of discs: 4
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: March 3, 2015

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

There is something about old time musicals. 1952 and 1953 were big years for musicals. This latest 4-Movie Collection includes “Calamity Jane” (1953) / “The Band Wagon” (1953) / “Kiss Me Kate” (1953) / “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952). Other than “Singin’ in the Rain”, the rest of these three films are making their Blu-ray debut in this collection. Personally, the real draw here is the fact that “Kiss Me Kate” is being released in 3D. That’s right, 3D as the film was original made to be seen. Along with these movies, this also includes collectible art cards. If you love musicals, this a must own.

“The Band Wagon” Official Premise: Tony Hunter, a fading film star decides to return to his former glory, the Broadway stage. His playwright-songwriter friends hook him up with Broadway’s hottest director, Jeffrey Cordova, who proves that the “new” theater traditions can be an awkward fit with the old.

“Calamity Jane” Official Premise: When she isn’t tearing up the town, Jane spends her time cussing out Wild Bill Hickok. The plot gets under way when Jane promises the citizens of Deadwood that she can persuade classy Chicago stage star Adelaide Adams to perform at the local opry house. Through a case of mistaken identity, Jane brings Adelaide’s maid Katie back to town. Katie proves to be a success all the same, and out of gratitude promises to make a lady out of Jane, who is sweet on handsome Lt. Gilmartin.

“Kiss Me Kate” Official Premise: At his New York apartment, actor Fred Graham and composer Cole Porter discuss plans to recruit Fred’s ex-wife, actress Lili Vanessi, to star in their new show, Kiss Me Kate , a musical version of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Lili arrives, and after singing the love duet with Fred, agrees to consider taking the role of Katherine. They are interrupted by the arrival of flashy dancer Lois Lane, who has used her wiles on Fred to secure the role of Bianca. Jealous words fly between the two women, and Lili prepares to leave, after informing Fred that she is going to be married soon.

“Singin’ in the Rain” Official Premise: Silent movies are giving way to talking pictures – and a hoofer-turned-matinee idol (Gene Kelly) is caught in that bumpy transition, as are his buddy (Donald O’Connor), prospective ladylove (Debbie Reynolds) and shrewish costar (Jean Hagen). Rediscover the musical masterwork, “Singin’ In The Rain”, with a downpour of celebratory special features that salute not just this all-time favorite but also the musical legacy of its producer, songwriter Arthur Freed.

The 1080p transfer for look great for each of the films. I really enjoyed the 3D transfer for “Kiss Me Kate”. This is cool to see since it has never before seen in this format since its theatrical release. So this is real treat. “The Band Wagon”, “Kiss Me Kate 3D” and “Singin’ in the Rain” have equal DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. They are all equally impressive. The music really works well and sounds very impressive. “Calamity Jane” only carries a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track. It is still solid but lacks the pop of its fellow films.

Blu-ray Review “Time Bandits: The Criterion Collection”

Starring: Michael Palin, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm
Director: Terry Gilliam
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance)
Studio: Criterion Collection
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Run Time: 116 minutes

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

Terry Gilliam is easily one of the most creative minds ever in film. His have never really been understood and really given the time of day with a mainstream audience but they seem to all become cult classics. “Time Bandits” is one of the best things to come out of 1981, minus myself 😉 This film is one that gets better and better with each viewing and never loses it charm. This latest Blu-ray release is for its addition into the Criterion Collection, which gives us a new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Terry Gilliam. This is the best that I have EVER seen this film. It is a perfect release.

Official Premise: In this fantastic voyage through time and space from Terry Gilliam, a boy named Kevin (Craig Warnock) escapes his gadget-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarves. Armed with a map stolen from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), they plunder treasure from Napoleon (Ian Holm) and Agamemnon (Sean Connery)—but Evil (David Warner) is watching their every move. Featuring a darkly playful script by Gilliam and Monty Python’s Michael Palin (who also appears in the film), Time Bandits is at once a giddy fairy tale, a revisionist history lesson, and a satire on technology gone awry.

Arrow Video recently released a Blu-ray transfer for this film but this is even newer than that edition. Here is the text that is included on leaflet provided with this release: “Supervised by director Terry Gilliam, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original camera negative. The restoration was overseen by Arrow Video and performed by Deluxe Digital Cinema in London. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS. The original soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm magnetic track.”

Like I said above, this is a flawless transfer. Criterion has been very kind and supportive of Gilliam’s work. I still treasure my 3-disc DVD set of “Brazil” from 1999. This track also comes with a equally flawless LPCM 2.0 surround track. It is definitely much better than the previous 5.1 track that was released in the past. The clarity is easily noticed and the score sounds amazing. The 2K restoration really delivered for both audio and video for “Time Bandits”. This is going to rank as one of the best releases of 2014, no question.

The special features are equally outstanding at the 2K restoration. There is vintage audio commentary track featuring Gilliam, cowriter/actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock, which was first taken from the DVD release of “Time Bandits” and recorded exclusively for Criterion in 1997.  There is a new piece narrated by film writer David Morgan and featuring production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson “Creating the Worlds of Time Bandits” focuses on creating the film’s numerous historical periods and fantasy worlds.

There is a conversation between Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh which was taken from the Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival dating back to 1998. There is an excerpt from a 1981 appearance by actor Shelley Duvall on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show on NBC, which also features the actress discussing her role in “The Shining” as well. Lastly there is an original trailer and stills gallery included and an illustrated leaflet featuring an essay by critic David Sterritt. Even though there is only one new extra on this Blu-ray, I am in love!

CD Review “The Only Folk Collection You’ll Ever Need” Various Artists

“The Only Folk Collection You’ll Ever Need”
Various Artists
Shout Factory
2 Discs
Tracks: 30

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Only Folk Collection You’ll Ever Need” is the latest collection release from the good people at Shout Factory. 30 ground breaking tracks spread over two discs which lives up to the releases name. The album draws from the Folk music genre’s rich history including performance from acts such as The Carter Family and Peter, Paul and Mary to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. The compilation really gives folkies a perfect mixture of music that defined a generation. The thing I found most enjoyable about this release was that it the actual artist performances of each track. A lot of times on these larger compilations there will be reinterpretations of the songs. This was definitely not the case here as each artist’s original performance is showcased. Included within the album linear notes is a brief synopsis from journalist Bill Bush on the Folk genre and the included compilation. With genre as rich as the Folk genre you certainly couldn’t include every great song that has been produced over the years however a good portion of them are contained on “The Only Folk Collection You’ll Ever Need” making this a nice addition to any music lovers collection.

Disc 1 Track Listing:
1.) Can the Circle Be Unbroken (Bye and Bye)
2.) Rock Island Line
3.) This Land is Your Land
4.) I’m a Man of Constant Sorrow
5.) Goodnight, Irene
6.) John Henry
7.) Tom Dooley
8.) Silver Threads and Golden Needles
9.) He Was a Friend of Mine
10.) Blowin’ In the Wind
11.) Four Strong Winds
12.) The Last Thing On My Mind
13.) The Times They Are A-Changing
14.) Roving Gambler
15.) Sitting On Top of the World

Disc 2 Track Listing:
1.) I Ain’t Marching Anymore
2.) Mr. Tambourine Man
3.) If I Had a Hammer (Live)
4.) Little Bit of Rain
5.) Catch the Wind
6.) There But For Fortune
7.) Early Mornin’ Rain
8.) I Shall Not Be Moved
9.) Thirsty Boots
10.) If I Were a Carpenter
11.) No Regrets
12.) Turn, Turn, Turn!/To Everything There is a Season
13.) Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
14.) Angel From Montgomery
15.) Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down

CD Reviews “Walt Disney Records: The Legacy Collection”

Just when you think you have a complete collection of Disney soundtracks…think again! “Walt Disney Records: The Legacy Collection” includes the latest releases of your favorite film soundtracks. The first three that have been released in this collection are “Sleeping Beauty” (55th anniversary), “Mary Poppins” (50th anniversary) and “The Lion King” (20th anniversary)  featuring new and remastered content. These CDs aren’t just a collection of songs, they are an immersive experience. A must for any Disney nut and music collector.

“Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Sleeping Beauty” is a 2 disc set, which features the classic songs and score from the film as well as studio recordings of Princess Aurora’s songs performed by Mary Costa, and never before released demos and tracks. Also included is beautiful new original artwork inspired by the original properties illustrated by Lorelay Bove, a visual development artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios (“Tangled”, “Wreck-It Ralph”).

“The Lion King” was the first of these to be released. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, This sound includes all the classic songs from this film. There is also about 30 minutes of previously unreleased score included. This is a real treat for any fan of the film. It is crazy to this that this has never been released before. There are also liner notes by Don Hahn (producer) and Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer, which gives great insight in the content included.

Last up for now is “Mary Poppins”, which actually gets a 3 disc set and trumps the others. I love that these Legacy Collection releases come in a book format and not just a crappy jewel case. Along with the wonderful and timeless music from the film, this also includes Mary Poppins Lost chords and excerpts from the P.L. Travers Story Meetings with Don DaGradi and The Sherman Brothers. I had no idea that there was so much extra music for this film but if you are a fan of “Mary Poppins”, this is definitely the ultimate collection. collector should own and enjoy.

“Walt Disney Records: The Legacy Collection” is going to be expanding over the next few years. Personally, I purchase all my music digitally these days but Disney has just given us a reason to purchase physical CDs again. Next up “The Little Mermaid”, which is being released November 24th. I am very excited for this release and to hear the demo and bonus content.  Beyond that there are plenty of upcoming anniversaries to celebrate including “Pinocchio” (75th), “Fantasia” (75th), “Cinderella” (65th), “Lady and the Tramp” (60th) and “Toy Story” (20th).

Book Review “Disney Christmas Storybook Collection”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Storybook Collection
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: September 9, 2014

If you are a fan of the “Storybook Collection”, this is a third edition of this series. The holidays are just around the corner and what better way to spend it then with your favorite Disney and Pixar characters. This updated edition includes brand new Christmas-themed stories including new films like “Frozen”, “Wreck-It Ralph”, and “Tangled”. These films just so happen to be three of my daughters favorites. Also included is Cars, Monsters Inc and a Mickey Mouse story.

“Disney Christmas Storybook Collection” features 18 stories focusing on the magic of Christmas. The book is just so colorful and really well done. It is over 300 pages and a nice sturdy hardcover. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are a lot of fun. I noticed a repeat with the “Frozen” stories from previous releases but my daughter doesn’t realized and still loves all of them. This has become a must read in our household and will continue through the holiday season.

 

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Blu-ray Review “Leprechaun: The Complete Movie Collection”

Starring: Warwick Davis, Dylan Postl, Jennifer Aniston, Ice-T, Guy Siner, John Gatins
Directors: Brian Trenchard-Smith, Mark Jones (I), Rodman Flender, Zach Lipovsky
Number of discs: 4
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Lions Gate
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Running Time: 640 minutes

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

What horror fan doesn’t love the “Leprechaun” series? Warwick Davis built a career around this role. They are far from perfect films but they are certainly a ton of fun. I may get a role of the eyes but I especially love “Leprechaun 4: In Space” because it is just a blast. Plus who doesn’t love Las Vegas mixed that with “Leprechaun 3” and you have a winner. This Complete Movie Collection includes all seven films from the series including “Leprechaun” / “Leprechaun 2” / “Leprechaun 3” / “Leprechaun 4: In Space” / “Leprechaun: In the Hood” / “Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood” / “Leprechaun: Origins”, the 2014 reboot (and also the weakest title in the series). If you are a horror fan, this release is a MUST BUY!!

The real draw for me besides each of the seven films, is that this Blu-ray collection comes with a Digital HD UltraViolet copy of each of the films. Right there, this is worth the purchase of the release alone. These films don’t really scream high quality but the 1080p transfers are solid and good enough for what I expect from this series. The first six films come with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks. “Leprechaun: Origins” comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. I still absolutely hated this film and almost wish it wasn’t included in this set. In fact it almost ruins this set.

The first Blu-ray disc includes “Leprechaun” and “Leprechaun 2”. There is an audio commentary on track on “Leprechaun” by director Mark Jones and there is an audio commentary on “Leprechaun 2” by director Rodman Flender. Both tracks are good, not outstanding but worth checking out for some decent insight/stories about the films. There is also a making of featurette on both “Leprechaun” and “Leprechaun 2” with never before seen behind the scenes footage and photos. This is a must watch for fans.

The second Blu-ray includes “Leprechaun 3” and “Leprechaun 4: In Space” aka my favorites in the series. So this is my favorite disc for sure. The special features include an audio commentary on “Leprechaun 3 and 4” by director Brian Trenchard Smith. These are fun and light, which is good because both of the films are just plain fun. Again there is another making of featurette for both “Leprechaun 3 and 4” including never before seen behind the scenes footage and photos. I am very impressed with these extras so far, no question.

The third Blu-ray brings us to the hood or when the series jumped the shark..even not as bad as when he went to space. We get “Leprechaun In the Hood” and “Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood”. The first of the two is decent and co-stars Ice-T, so that is cool but the second one is just plain bad. The special features includes an audio commentary on “Leprechaun In the Hood” by director Rob Spera and an audio commentary on “Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood” by director Steven Ayromlooi. Again, there was a making of featurette on “Leprechaun In the Hood” and “Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood” with never before seen behind the scenes footage and photos.

The fourth Blu-ray includes just “Leprechaun: Origins”, which in case I didn’t say yet is terrible. There are two featurettes includes on this disc. “Leprechaun: An Icon Reborn”, which talks about rebooting this franchise. “Leprechaun: Behind the Blood” takes you briefly behind-the-scenes. So despite this film, I absolutely love the series as a whole and I just love how Lionsgate really delivered to their fans here. These movies look great, they come with digital copies and they have some great extras.

New Girl Scouts Collection from Wicked Cool Toys to Feature Girl Scout Cookie Oven

New License Honors Classic Brand by Designing a Full Line of Fun and Creative Role Play, Crafts and Activity Toys For Girls 

Bristol, PA – October 3, 2014Wicked Cool Toys has entered into a licensing relationship with Girl Scouts of the USA to introduce a delicious baking experience with a new Girl Scout Cookie™ Oven, as well as a comprehensive line of role play, craft and activity products inspired by the preeminent girls’ leadership organization in the U.S.

Wicked Cool Toys’ Girl Scout Cookie™ Oven will feature mixes inspired by some of the most popular Girl Scout Cookies® such as Thin Mints®, Trefoils®, peanut butter, and caramel coconut varieties, as well as traditional classics like chocolate chip, oatmeal and even cakes, brownies and more! Wicked Cool is also developing a line of unique craft and activity kits for ages 6 and up called D.I.Y. girl, inspired by the fun projects Girl Scouts engage in, including such diverse offerings as a string art kit, jewelry making kit, collage silhouette kit, garland making kit and more, giving girls the chance to experience some of the fun Girl Scouts have every day. Wicked Cool Toys expects its line to hit mass market retailers throughout the US beginning in Fall 2015.

“We are honored to be embarking on a licensing relationship with Girl Scouts of the USA, one of the most treasured brands in America,” says Michael Rinzler, Co-President and Founding Partner, Wicked Cool Toys. “We hope the line will encourage girls to express their creativity, learn new skills and offer a fun, positive and truly hands-on experience that will have broad appeal. On a personal note, the idea of the Girl Scout Cookie Oven was the subject of my Field Application Project as an MBA student at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. It truly is a dream come true for me, all these years later.”

“We’re pleased to work with Wicked Cool Toys,” said Barry Horowitz, chief merchandise executive, Girls Scouts of the USA. “Their creative approach to toys will help us share the fun and excitement of Girl Scouts with even more girls—both current members and future ones.”

 

About Girl Scouts of the USA

Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls’ healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer or reconnect with, or donate to Girl Scouts, visit www.girlscouts.org

 

About Wicked Cool Toys

WickedCool, LLC is a Pennsylvania-based toymaker with offices in Pennsylvania, California and Hong Kong. Founded in the Summer of 2012, Wicked Cool has a diverse portfolio of playthings for all ages. The Wicked Cool Toys management team is led by co-Presidents in the US Michael Rinzler and Jeremy Padawer, and in Hong Kong, Thomas Poon. The Company develops and brings to market proprietary lines and licensed product, including, Wild Kratts, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles®, Garfield, The Wiggles, Crashlings, My Girl’s Dollhouse, Vrüm, WWE®, Disney Princess®, Minnie Mouse®, Marvel®, Batman®, Superman®, Iron Man®, Sponge Bob®, Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer®, and Monster Jam®. Visit www.wickedcooltoys.com and follow the Company on both Facebook and Twitter.  www.facebook.com/wickedcooltoys    @wickedcooltoys

 

Blu-ray Review “Halloween: The Complete Collection (Limited Deluxe Edition)”

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Danielle Harris, Nancy Loomis, Nancy Stephens, Malcolm McDowell
Directors: Rob Zombie, Rick Rosenthal, John Carpenter, Steve Miner, Joe Chappelle, Tommy Lee Wallace
Number of discs: 15
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Anchor Bay
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Run Time: 1287 minutes

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

Halloween is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with the The Complete Collection of the “Halloween” film franchise. This collection includes all ten films from the series. I love Michael Myers, he is one of the rare horror icons that still creeps me out. I love Freddy and Jason but Myers still steals the show for me. Even though all of the films aren’t gems, as a whole they are a great franchise. This is the first time that these films have ever been released together in one massive box set. I personally would have hoped for a little more in terms of “wow factor” especially from the Limited Deluxe Edition luckily, I get my “wow” from the extras. What we get is a simple slipbox (with great cover art BTW) which holds the ten (black) cases, along with a thin 42-page booklet. There is nothing special or flashy about this release. Still though, I am fairly happy with this release and should make hardcore horror fans happy as well.

Official Premise: Halloween night – Haddonfield, IL. A young boy butchers his older sister with a kitchen knife. 15 years later, he escapes from a mental institution only to return home and terrorize the town, including babysitter Laurie Strode. Now pursued by Dr. Loomis, the doctor who tried to treat him until he realized that “what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil”. His name is Michael Myers. And so began one of the most iconic horror franchises in history – what producers Moustapha Akkad and Debra Hill, writer/director John Carpenter and stars Jamie Lee Curtis & Donald Pleasence started has spawned 10 feature films and lasted over 35 years. Now, for the first time ever, experience the terror of every Halloween film available together in 1 set! This limited edition deluxe set includes 15 discs jammed with content Halloween fans will love.

Here is a breakdown of what films/cuts we get within the 15 discs: The first two discs are decided to the original classic “John Carpenter’s Halloween” (1978), the second disc being a Deluxe Edition Exclusive. Disc three contains the theatrical cut of “Halloween II” (1981), while disc four, which is a standard DVD, contains, the infamous television cut, also a Deluxe Edition Exclusive. Disc 5 is “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (1982), plain and simple, as is Discs 6 & 7 housing “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” (1988) and “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” (1989), respectively. Disc 8 includes the theatrical cut of “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” (1995″, while disc 9 is going to be a big draw for fans with the highly sought upon Producer’s Cut, another Deluxe Edition Exclusive.

Disc 10 includes “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” (1998) and Disc 11 houses “Halloween: Resurrection” (2002) closing out the original series. Then disc 12 brings us the remake/reboot “Rob Zombie’s Halloween” (2007), while disc 13 is a bonus disc from that film as well as a Deluxe Edition Exclusive. Disc 14 is “Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2” and wrapped up the release is disc 15 with Additional Bonus Features, which is again a Deluxe Edition Exclusive and includes a massive amount of extras including the 101-minute extended cut of “John Carpenter’s Halloween” (1978) in full 1080p HD! This is worth the purchase alone just for this disc. But what I should note that is very strange is that this 15th bonus disc is housed in the case for “Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2”, which honestly doesn’t make any sense most likely because of lack of space in the box. Not a huge deal, just very odd decision to be honest.

The next part is where the deal gets a little sour for this release. There is no consistency with the audio/video presentations. All of these films have been released before on Blu-ray and besides the first film and the Rob Zombie films, the presentations have been a bit rocky. Unfortunately, this box set does not include new transfer of these films they are merely exact copies of the previous rather disappointing releases. I would have loved Anchor Bay to dive in and fix the poor releases of “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” (1995), “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” (1998) and “Halloween Resurrection (2002)”, thanks to Echo Bridge Entertainment. They are not horrendous but definitely disappointing for hardcore fans.

Of course, not surprisingly the winner is the original “John Carpenter’s Halloween”. It comes with a solid Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Surround track as well as the Original 1978 Audio in a Dolby TrueHD Mono track. “Halloween II” (1981) (which includes the Original “Moustapha Akkad Presents” Opening Credit) and “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (1982) include the same presentations as their Scream Factory releases. The second film comes with a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround track, while “Season of the Witch” settles for a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. Same goes for “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” and “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” are the same quality from the 2012 Anchor Bay releases. Both films have a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround track but the 5th film certainly sounds better.

“Rob Zombie’s Halloween” (2007) and “Halloween II” (2009) are identical to their past Blu-ray as well. Since these are the most recent, they are also some of the best. Surprisingly though, the real underdog of the release “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – Producer’s Cut” is one of the best presentations in the set with a solid video presentation and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround track. It even trumps the Theatrical Cut, which is kinda sad but expect since it is a copy from the Echo Bridge release. I feel like this is going to be a main draw for most horror fans for sure.

Now if you are on the fence for the audio/video presentations. The main draw (behind the additional cuts) are some brand new, never before seen bonus features including new interviews with cast and crew, commentaries, behind the scenes documentaries, and much more. “John Carpenter’s Halloween” stars off with a brand new Audio Commentary with Director of photography Dean Cundey, editor/production designer Tommy Lee Wallace and “The Shape,” Nick Castle. Excellent track. There is also a fantastic Audio Commentary, which is a fan boys dream with Co-writer/director John Carpenter and actress Jamie Lee Curtis. “The Night She Came Home” is an hour extras with Jamie Lee Curtis discussing her one and only convention appearance. “On Location: 25 Years Later” takes us to the shooting locations from the first film. Lastly there are TV spots, radio spots, a theatrical trailer and a collection of scenes from the film’s television cut.

The second disc for “John Carpenter’s Halloween” brings us another Audio Commentary track with Writer/director John Carpenter, producer Debra Hill and actress Jamie Lee Curtis, which is an older track but still decent. “Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest” is a nearly 90 minutes retrospective with interviews from cast/crew. Lastly there is a fact track, TV spots, Radio spots and a trailer included. The Theatrical Cut of “Halloween II” features two commentary tracks, the first with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi, and the second with actor/stunt coordinator Dick Warlock. Both quite decent. “The Nightmare Isn’t Over!: The Making of Halloween II” is a retrospective documentary on the sequel. “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II” takes on to the shooting locations from the film. Lastly there are Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary from Rosenthal, an Alternate Ending, some trailers and spots and a stills gallery.

“Halloween III: Season of the Witch” includes an Audio Commentary track from: Director Tommy Lee Wallace, Rob G. from “Icons of Fright,” and Horror’s Hallowed Grounds’ Sean Clark. Definitely made by fans for the fans. There is also an Audio Commentary with Actor Tom Atkins and BD/DVD Producer Michael Felsher, this is a must listen or Atkins fans. “Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III: Season of the Witch” goes behind-the-scenes with Director Tommy Lee Wallace, Actors Tom Atkins and Stacey Nelkin, Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock, Cinematographer Dean Cundey, Costume Designer Jane Ruhm, and others. There is an “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds”, this one called “Revisiting the Original Shooting Locales” hitting the filming locations. Lastly there is a Still Gallery, TV Spots and a Theatrical Trailer included.

“Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” includes a decent Audio Commentary from Actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris as well as a track from Director Dwight H. Little and author Justin Beahm, which is a bit more entertaining. There is also the Theatrical Trailer included. “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” includes two Audio Commentary tracks as well. The first from Actor Don Shanks and author Justin Beahm and the second from Director Dominique Othenin-Girad and actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman. Both decent and insightful tracks. “On the Set” contains some raw behind-the-scenes footage with cast interviews. Lastly there is a original promo from the film as well as a Theatrical Trailer. This is not a ton compared to other films but if you remember the 2012 Anchor Bay Blu-ray, there were bare-bones. Luckily there is more extras from 4 & 5 on disc 15.

“Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – Theatrical Cut” comes only with a Still Gallery, TV Spots and
Theatrical Trailers but no fear since The Producer’s Cut saves the day again. It includes a great Audio Commentary with Writer Daniel Farrands and composer Alan Howarth. A real winner. “Acting Scared: A Look at the Film’s Cast” features Actresses Mariah O’Brien and J.C. Brandy looking back at the film. “The Shape of Things” goes into the films issues and special make-up effects creator John Carl Buechler. “Haddonfield’s Horrors” goes behind-the-scenes with director of photography Billy Dickson and production designer Bryan Ryman. “A Cursed Curse” is an interview with Trancas International president and Curse associate producer Malek Akkad and producer Paul Freeman. “Full Circle” is a chat with Composer Alan Howarth. There is a collection of extended scenes, alternate footage and extra scenes of graphic violence cut from the film. There is also Archival Interviews and Behind-the-Scenes Footage including an interview with the late Donald Pleasance. Lastly there is another Cast & Crew Tribute to Donald Pleasance and a teaser trailer.

“Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” stars off with a great Audio Commentary moderated by Sean Clark along with director Steve Miner and actress Jamie Lee Curtis. “Blood is Thicker than Water: The Making of Halloween H20” is an hour restrospective with tons of cast/crew interviews. There are six scenes from the film presented with composer John Ottman’s original score via an isolated music DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. There are Vintage Interviews and Behind-the-Scenes Footage adding up to over 45 minutes with some great interviews. Lastly there are a Still Gallery, a TV spot and a Theatrical Trailer. Again this is another film that never had special features on Blu-ray, so this is welcomed for any fan.

“Halloween Resurrection” includes an alright Audio Commentary: Director Rick Rosenthal and editor Robert A. Ferretti. There is a collection of six deleted scenes and three alternate endings with optional director’s commentary. There are over 40 minutes are Web Cam videos edited together again with optional director’s commentary. There are tons of Vintage Interviews and Behind-the-Scenes Footage. There is also Head Cam footage, Storyboard Analysis, a Set Tour, an interview with Curtis, Still Gallery and some trailers. Most of these extras are ports from the Echo Bridge Blu-ray.

“Rob Zombie’s Halloween” comes with tons of special features. There is an outstanding must liste Audio Commentary track with Director Rob Zombie. There is over 30 minutes of Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending & Bloopers. “The Many Faces of Michael Myers” is a featurette with cast/crew. “Re-Imagining Halloween” is a three-part extras looking at the filmmaking process. “Meet the Cast” is a chat with the actors. There are Casting Sessions, a Screen Test and Theatrical Trailer included. On the bonus disc there is still more with a ridiculous over four hour documentary “Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween”, which leaves no stone un-turned. Love or hate, the remake/re-imaging, this is a something special.

“Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2” wraps up the extras for the film. There is another solid Audio Commentary from Zombie that really dives into the film. There is tons of Audition Footage, Deleted and Alternate Scenes, Blooper Reel and Make-Up Tests. “Uncle Seymour Coffins’ Stand-Up Routines” is a three-part collection of full-length routines from the character. There are six music video from Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures, included “Zombie A Go Go”, “Honky Tonk Halloween”, “Redneck Vixen From Outer Space”, “Dr. Demon & The Robot Girl”, “Transylvania Terror Train” and Macon County Morgue”.

So have you had enough with the special features yet, there is still a bunch more…and I mean a bunch all assorted from the film. We start off with the mentioned above extended cut of “John Carpenter’s Halloween”. “Halloween Unmasked 2000” is more interviews coming into the films for about 30 minutes. There is a super brief interview with producer Moustapha Akkad. Lastly for the first film there is another Still Gallery. There is an interview with “Season of the Witch” make-up effects artist Tom Burman and some radio spots. “The Making of Halloween 4: Final Cut” dives into the production of the film and if that isn’t enough there also is “The Making of Halloween 4” which runs almost 50 minutes and goes much deeper into the film, produced by Scream Factory. Lastly there is a another Still Gallery for the fourth film.

“Inside Halloween 5” is a vintage behind-the-scenes DVD feature that is over shadowed again by Scream Factory’s “The Making of Halloween 5”. There is also another “Halloween 5” Still Gallery and a “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” for the four, fifth and sixth film, as well as the HHG pilot episode, which focuses on John Carpenter’s original film and the HHG Fan Edition: Bus Tour. AND finally we end this release with a collection of TV spots for “Halloween 4”, “Halloween 5”, and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” (2007) and “Halloween II” (2009). Whew, I need a nap ladies and gentlemen. This review took a week for me to produce and is easily one of the most intensive box sets I have ever tackled. Enjoy and if you are a “Halloween” fan and got a little extras spending money, I would recommend the splurge.

Blu-ray Reviews “The Toho Godzilla Collection, Vol. 2”

Director: Okihiro Yoneda, Kunio Miyoshi, Shûsuke Kaneko, Masaaki Tezuka, Takao Okawara
Rated: Not rated / PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Run Time: 306 / 193 / 107 minutes

Rebirth of Mothra I-III: 3 out of stars
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack: 4 out of stars
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla: 3.5 out of stars
Godzilla 2000: 4 out of stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

With the new reboot of “Godzilla” streeting on Blu-ray this month, we are getting a second bunch of Blu-ray in the “The Toho Godzilla Collection”. This next set including “Rebirth of Mothra”, “Rebirth of Mothra II”, “Rebirth of Mothra III”, “Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack”, “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” and “Godzilla 2000”. Being a hardcore Godzilla fan, I couldn’t be happier to be receiving this latest bunch. I remember rushing out to the theater opening day first show to catch “Godzilla 2000”.

There are 28 films in “”The Toho Godzilla Collection”, even though The Mothra films really aren’t included in that number. After this patch of films that leaves us with only nine films that haven’t been released on Blu-ray including “Godzilla Raids Again”, “Mothra vs. Godzilla”, “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster”, “Invasion of Astro-Monster”, “Son of Godzilla”, “All Monsters Attack”, “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla”, “Terror of Mechagodzilla” and “Godzilla 1985”. Here’s hoping that Sony or anyone else has the rights to release these…it would be great to see the complete collection available to fans.

“Rebirth of Mothra I-III” make up the first Blu-ray. I know the Mothra films are super cheesy but they are just plain fun. But Mothra can still kick some major ass for sure. “Rebirth of Mothra II” has a bit of an environmental agenda but still a decent film. It definitely has a certain kid-version of “Indiana Jones” going on as well here, or at least I always thought it did. Same goes for “Rebirth of Mothra III”, which continues its focus towards kids. It is definitely still a decent film and packs a serious battle as well in the trilogy.

“Rebirth of Mothra” Official Premise: Mothra, one of Godzilla’s longtime allies (and sometimes foe) gets her very own movie series in this, the first of a trilogy. When the three-headed Death Ghidorah, an even fiercer cousin of King Ghidorah, begins to destroy the forests of Japan, Mothra leaves her island paradise to help save them. “Rebirth of Mothra II” Official Premise: Two young kids inadvertently unleash a giant sea creature which is somehow strengthened from the abundance of modern-day pollution. Mothra’s keepers, the tiny twins Moll and Lora, quickly rouse the gentle giant in order to combat this latest threat to peace. “Rebirth of Mothra III” Official Premise: In the final film in the new ‘Mothra’ trilogy, King Ghidorah, the most destructive of all the monsters, returns to destroy the Earth. In the end, Mothra is indeed triumphant and takes her place among the greatest of all monsters.

Each of these films actually delivered pretty unexpectedly great 1080p transfers. I was not expecting to see such a clean and impressive transfers. There are two DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround tracks for each film, the original Japanese and an English dub. I am going to stick with the Japanese track each of these films since they generally end up feeling much more natural and an overall a slightly better track, no question. The only special features includes for each film are three teasers (“Rebirth of Mothra III” only has two teasers) and a theatrical trailer included.

Next up is “Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack”, which easily wins the longest title in Godzilla history and “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla”. “Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah” was made to basically reboot the series since it only pays attention to the original 1954 film and the (terrible) 1998 remake. The film packs a big budget compared to past installments. It is far from perfect but is a fun entry for sure. “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” is a bit cheesy but still fun and has some solid battle scenes.  Plus I am a big sucker for anything Mechagodzilla.

“Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” Official Premise: Fifty years ago, the Japanese Defense Forces killed Godzilla or so they thought. When a series of terrifying natural disasters begin to plague Japan, including the inexplicable offshore sinking of a U.S. submarine, a mystic old man warns his nation that Godzilla has come back to destroy Japan as revenge for all the souls lost in the Pacific War. When mere military might cannot squash the monster, the mystic man awakens the Holy Beasts of Yamato — King Ghidorah, Mothra and Baragon, sleeping giants that protected Japan in ancient times. These untamed mammoth beasts take on Godzilla with frightening supernatural brute power that has been 2,000 years in the making. Tradition and technology collide in this chilling high-tech, cutting-edge fable.

“Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” Official Premise: After four years of scrupulous preparation under the prime minister, a new invincible robot, Mechagodzilla, has now reached completion, armed with various weapons, including the most powerful gun in history that can destroy anything in the world. Akane Yashiro is transferred to join the Mechagodzilla team as an operator who controls the mechanical monster. As soon as Mechagodzilla starts on its test run, the huge shadow of Godzilla begins to rise from the depths of the ocean…The battle of the century is going to take place between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla.

“Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” delivers yet another solid presentation on Blu-ray.  The 1080p is sharp with its colors and very clean of any grain. Same again goes for “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla”, which is slightly less impressive but still quite solid. The same does not go for the audio track though, “Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” includes the original Japanese track and an English dub. They are both actually good entries and just depends on your preference. “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” has the same specs but the English dub is not listenable since it is so poorly acted. The Japanese cut is the only way to go here. Both films only contain their film’s Original Trailers as a bonus feature.

Lastly but not least is “Godzilla 2000”, one of my favorites. It is a not a perfect film like many of the “Godzilla” films but is a blast to watch. This Blu-ray also  contains two versions of the film. The 107 minute Japanese cut has never been released in the US before this, so fans should be going crazy over this one. The shorter 99 minutes English dub cut is also included as well. So even though you are not getting a real double feature here like the others or triple in terms of “Mothra”, but we are getting 1.5 movies for the price of one here.

“Godzilla 2000” Official Premise: Get ready to crumble! The king of all monsters is back and bigger than ever! The action heats up when a UFO reveals itself as a massive alien monster with awesome destructive powers. The alien monster heads straight for the behemoth GODZILLA(r) who’s just crushed the entire city for the battle of the millennium. But Godzilla’s furious heat beam may not be enough to destroy the death-dealing alien, and the future of humankind is in jeopardy. Now, it’s a bang-up, threeway, no-holds-barred brawl as Godzilla, the alien monster and the courageous citizens of Japan fight an unprecedented battle for survival in this earth-shattering new sci-fi action adventure that will blow you away.

“Godzilla 2000” Blu-ray presentation is surprising the least impressive out of this new batch of releases. It is not horrible but doesn’t have that clarity that the “Mothra” films pack. The film does have really great DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. both original Japanese and English dub. This Blu-ray actually has some special features included unlike the rest. There is an audio commentary with Writer/Producer Michael Schlesinger, Editor Mike Mahoney, and Supervising Sound Editor Darren Paskal on the English version only. There is a very short “Behind the Scenes” featurette and of course, lastly there is an Original Trailer included.

Even though the special features on these three releases aren’t great. They do all include an Ultraviolet HD digital copy code, which is a worth the purchase of the disc alone. These films maybe not be perfect and some cheesy but Sony defintely still delivered good Blu-rays here. Like I said, I hope to see more of these in next year for sure. We have nine more films in the series and I hope that we can complete out the collection! Keep them coming Sony!

Book Review “Disney Junior Storybook Collection”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Storybook Collection
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: August 5, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been purchasing Disney’s Storybook Collection for many many years now. Now with a child of my own, I enjoy introducing her to these great stories but I always wished they had something aimed at the Disney Junior brand. My daughter loves the classic Disney movies but she literally watches Disney Junior EVERY single day, so she loves these characters right now much more. It is just the way it is. So we asked and Disney answered with “Disney Junior Storybook Collection”. This is THE BOOK to get if you have a kid that is answer from a Preschool to Kindergarten. A must have for any parent. This will save your life.

Official Premise: Sail the Never Sea with Jake and the crew, diagnose toys with Doc in her backyard clinic, experience royal fun with Sofia, practice your best roar with Henry Hugglemonster, visit Minnie’s Bow-tique, and join the Clubhouse’s gang all in one book! This beautifully illustrated storybook collection includes gilded pages, over 250 full-color illustrations, and 18 stories featuring your favorite Disney Junior characters and shows: Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Minnie’s Bow-Toons, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

This is a real nice book and a great coffee table book as well for the kids. It is hardcover with some beautiful images throughout. It is not a cheap book either, it feels like it has some weight to it and I like that. There are 18 stores from all of your kids favorite Disney Junior shows. Here is hoping that this is only volume one for Disney Junior because with all the new shows that the station is cranking out. There are tons are great content just waiting to get adapted here.  Keep them coming Disney!

 

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Blu-ray Review “Scanners (Criterion Collection)”

Starring: Michael Ironside, Jennifer O’Neill, Patrick McGoohan, Stephen Lack, Lawrence Dane
Director: David Cronenberg
Number of discs: 3
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Run Time: 103 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

David Cronenberg has really affected up my taste in films over the years. I remembered the first time that I watched “Scanners”, I didn’t know anything about the director but I instantly fell in love.  That is one thing that I have always loved about Croneberg’s films is that they are rather timeless. “Scanners”,”Videodrome”, “The Fly”, “Naked Lunch”, eXistenz”. These are all films that are just as good as the very first time that I saw them.  They are extremely unique and cannot be duplicated. This film has never been released on high-def Blu-ray in the States (though we do already have “Scanners 2 & 3” on Blu-ray, thanks to Shout! Factory). Leave it to Criterion for giving an amazing film like this an even better release. This comes with a brand new, restored 2K digital film transfer, which was supervised by director David Cronenberg and includes an uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Official Premise: With Scanners, David Cronenberg plunges us into one of his most terrifying and thrilling sci-fi worlds. After a man with extraordinary—and frighteningly destructive—telepathic abilities is nabbed by agents from a mysterious rogue corporation, he discovers he is far from the only possessor of such strange powers, and that some of the other “scanners” have their minds set on world domination, while others are trying to stop them. A trademark Cronenberg combination of the visceral and the cerebral, this phenomenally gruesome and provocative film about the expanses and limits of the human brain was the Canadian director’s breakout hit in the United States.

Instead of telling you all the details, I will let the linear notes tell you the techy details: “Supervised by director David Cronenberg, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from a 35mm interpositive at Vision Globale in Montreal; the color grading was done at Deluxe Toronto. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise management. The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm Dialogue/Music/Effects magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 3.

So if you understand what all that technical specs mean, this film looks just amazing. If you disagree, you might catch me starring at you very intently…wait a second…and…BOOM! Unlike the Australian Blu-ray, which has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, this Blu-ray includes an LPCM 1.0 surround track, which is much more impressive. The score is just so outstanding, I would have loved to seen an isolated audio track. This director approved dual-format Blu-ray and DVD, also comes with an amazing illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Kim Newman. I look forward to Criterion releases so much because they really put a lot of effort into these releases and don’t settle for less than perfect. Plus take a look at this cover art, isn’t it just amazing and there is different version inside the case as well!!

Like always Criterion has delivered a jam-packed Blu-ray with amazing extras. “The Scanners Way” is a brand new documentary film and includes interviews with director of photography Mark Irwin, special makeup artists Stephan Dupuis and Chris Walas, special effects supervisor Gary Zeller, and visual effects specialist Rick Baker talking about the production. This was was produced exclusively for Criterion in 2014 by Michael Lennick, a Toronto-based documentarian and visual effects designer and supervisor (Videodrome). “Mental Saboteur” is a brand new video interview, actor Michael Ironside, who plays Darryl Revok, reflecting on his role. This was able produced by Criterion this year.

“The Ephemerol Diaries” is a video interview from 2012 with actor Stephen Lack, who plays Cameron Vale, discussing his work on the film. We get excerpts from the “The Bob McLean Show” from the March 10, 1981 episode with David Cronenberg. A real treat definitely has to be David Cronenberg first completed feature, “Stereo”, is included, which he did in 1969. It stars Ronald Mlodzik, Jack Messinger, and Iain Ewing and runs just over an hour. Lastly there is a trailer and three original radio spots included. If Criterion is reading this PLEASE give Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ”, the Blu-ray treatment next. It has only been given a rather poor Echo Bridge Blu-ray and needs some love.

Graphic Novel Review “The Technopriests: Supreme Collection”

Author: Alexandro Jodorowsky
Illustrators: Zoran Janjetov, Fred Beltran
Hardcover: 408 pages
Publisher: Humanoids, Inc.
Release Date: December 11, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Over the last few months, I have been exposed to new world that consists of comics of Alexandro Jodorowsky. This includes his epic titles like “The Metabarons” and “The Incal”. This latest one, “The Technopriests” is yet another epic ride. This “Supreme Collection” consists of an eight-issue comic book limited series. It available in its entirety and in its original format. Humanoids has been releasing these not only cool but actually amazing hardcover collections of his work over the last few years and I simply cannot get enough of it.

Originally released from 1998 to 2006, this series follows five really interesting and strong characters. We have Albino, who is the main focus of the story and the future Supreme Technopriest. There is Tinigrifi, who is Albino’s lifelong friend. Panepha is the former priestess and mother of Albino and also his older brother Almagro and younger sister Onyx.  There are three different stories intertwined together in “The Technopriests”. The first follows Albino leading 500,000 other young technopriests as they try and find the promised galaxy.  The second plot follows his rise to become the Supreme Technopriest and the third follows his family during that same time period.

Like I said before that “The Technopriests: Supreme Collection” consists of the originally released in 8 issues, which are “The Technopriests #1: Techno Pre-School”; “The Technopriests #2: Nohope Penitentiary School”, ‘The Technopriests #3: Planeta Games”; “The Technopriests #4: Halkattraz”; “The Technopriests #5: The Sect of the Techno-Bishops”; “The Technopriests #6: The Secrets of the Techno-Vatican”; “The Technopriests #7: The Perfect Game” and “The Technopriests #8: The Promised Galaxy”. I have never read any of these comics before, so once I got started I dove deep and didn’t come up for air until I have completed the entire collection. This sci-fi epic tale is a little different than Jodorowsky’s past work but equally mind-blowing.

I loved the look and style of this comic. It was illustrated by Zoran Janjetov, who also worked with  Jodorowsky on “Before Incal” as well. Speaking of “Before Incal”, that was just re-released by Humanoids as well along with “The Final Incal” as well. If you have never read an Jodorowsky comic, then you are really in for a real treat. When you experience a  Jodorowsky comic, you mind is expanded and you are not able to go back to just reading regular comic book.  What I realized with reading Jodorowsky in the last few months is that his work really requires you to engage yourself in these comics and not just flip and look at the pretty pictures. I love that about this work. I can’t wait to see what Humanoids has planned next.

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Book Review “Minnie Minnie’s Bow-tastic Sticker Collection”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: June 17, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Besides “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” one of the best things that Disney Junior has ever done is create the show “Mickey’s Bowtique”. My two year old daughter absolutely loves these shorts (and so does daddy, to be honest). What does a two year love more than watching the show on TV….playing with STICKERS!!

“Minnie Minnie’s Bow-tastic Sticker Collection” comes jam-packed with 48 pages of activities and get ready for this parents…over 1000 stickers. But this isn’t just 1,000 use once and two away stickers. These are reusable stickers! That is the real draw here for this book. A must have for an any Minnie fan. You know what they say “There is no business like bow business”.

 

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Blu-ray Review “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection)”

Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Director: Richard Lester
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Criterion Collection
DVD Release Date: June 24, 2014
Run Time: 87 minutes

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

The Beatles is one of the best bands EVER. They have changed pop culture forever. Their music is eternal and will never be forgotten. I can sum this Blu-ray up in one word…SPECTACULAR. If you are a Beatles fan, you NEED this release. If you don’t have a Blu-ray player, go out and buy one! “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night” was released on Blu-ray back in 2009 to a pretty poor release. If you felt burned that one all you need to know is that this is being released under the Criterion Collection and that means perfection. The music in this film is just so amazing. Tell you that you don’t belt out these classic Beatles tracks like “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Tell Me Why”, “If I Fell”, “And I Love Her”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and “I Should Have Known Better” while watching or even thinking about this film.

Official Premise: In 1964, the Beatles had just recently exploded onto the American scene with their debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The group’s first feature, the Academy Award-nominated “A Hard Day’s Night,” offered fans their first peek into a day in the life of the Beatles and served to establish the Fab Four on the silver screen, as well as to inspire the music video format.

Criterion is releasing this as a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack. The film itself has been recently given a spectacular 4K restoration from the original camera negative for this Blu-ray. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, I cannot stress how stunning this transfer looks. 5/5 stars is simply not high enough. Also this release is also director approved, so you can not just take my word but also Richard Lester’s word. The black and white is so sharp looking and you couldn’t tell that this was shot nearly 50 years ago.

Since The Beatles are obviously known for their music, the audio tracks on this release are very important. There are a few different tracks on this Blu-ray. My favorite has to be the LPCM mono track. It is extremely clear and the songs are very well balanced. When I cranked up a few of the songs, they just sounded absolutely perfect. Same goes for the dialogue in the film, it sounded great as well. There is also a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which was made by Apple Records. Personally, this track works best with the songs, of course. Both very impressive and two different experiences, to be honest.

The special features are jam-packed and quite outstanding for this release. “Anatomy of a Style” feature story editor and screenwriter Bobbie O’Steen and music editor Suzana Peric discussing the film’s music sequences including “A Hard Day’s Night”, “I Should Have Known Better”, “Cant Buy Me Love”, “And I love Her” and “She Loves You”. “In Their Own Voices” includes behind-the-scenes stills and footage from the making of “A Hard Day’s Night” as well as clips from audio interviews a few of the Beatles. “You Can’t Do That: The Making of A Hard Day’s Night” is the 1994 documentary, produced by Walter Shenson (producer of “A Hard Day’s Night”) and narrated by Phil Collins featuring cast/crew from the film and runs just over an hour.

“Things They Said Today” is a  documentary from 2002 that focuses on long term success of “A Hard Day’s Night”. “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” is a short film that was shot by Richard Lester in 1959 and features Richard Lester, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Graham Stark, and Bruce Lacey. “Picturewise” is a  new video essay focuses on the production history of “A Hard Days Night” and Richard Lester’s directing style. This was written and produced by critic and filmmaker David Cairns exclusively for Criterion. “The Beatles: The Road to A Hard Day’s Night” is a new video interview with Mark Lewisohn, author of “The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1 — Tune In”, which was also conducted exclusively for Criterion in 2014.

But wait, there is still more…there is an audio commentary track from 2002 created from material produced by Martin Lewis and features actors John Junkin, David Janson, and Jeremy Lloyd; cinematographer Gilbert Taylor; associate producer Denis O’Dell; second assistant director Barrie Melrose; assistant editors Pamela Tomling and Roy Benson; and others. There are two trailers including the 2000 re-release and the 2014 re-release.  Lastly there is an fantastic illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Howard Hampton.

 

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