Blu-ray Review “Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Series”

Starring: Steve Buscemi, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham
Number of discs: 20
Studio: HBO
Rated TV-MA
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Running Time: 3360 minutes

Series: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Boardwalk Empire” wasn’t a show that I originally was stopping all press to see. I know that Martin Scorsese was involved and directed the pilot but it never really excited me. Despite my interest this show had a very successful run with 56 episodes over five-seasons and was quite the award-winner during that time. “Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Series” is bringing this show to Blu-ray with all previously released extras and also an exclusive disc packed with additional never-before-seen content. In fact, this is the first time that seasons one, two or three have ever been released on Blu-ray. With today’s obsessions of bing watching, this show works well for a quick watch. Great performances, worth checking out if you haven’t checked this show out and if you have this is way to own the complete deal.

Official Premise: Throughout its five-season run, the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire stood “at the pinnacle of TV achievement” (Philadelphia Inquirer), garnering 18 Emmy Awards and critical accolades for its superb cast and its unfaltering attention to 1920s period detail. From Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Terence Winter and Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, the series chronicles the life and times of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Golden Globe winner Steve Buscemi) as he undergoes vicious power struggles and deals with opportunistic rivals — including Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano and Al Capone — at a time when Prohibition proved to be a major catalyst in the rise of organized crime in America.

Along with the Blu-ray discs, HBO is also including Digital HD copies of the series as well as either an iTunes or Google Play option as well. The 1080p transfer for each episode looks great presented in its 1080p transfer. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. They are near perfect and really add a lot of the charm of the show. In addition to the hour of new exclusive special features, there are all previously included extras including 28 audio commentaries, 13 episodes Picture-in-Picture tracks and over four hours of production documentaries and featurettes.

The new special features included are worth checking out. “Building The Boardwalk” features Executive Producer/Director Tim Van Patten and crew discussing bringing the show together. “Shooting The Series” features chats with Directors of Photography Jonathan Freeman and Bill Coleman. “Designing The Series” features Production Designer Bill Groom and Set Decorator Carol Silverman discuss the look for the show. “Visual Effects” discusses the show’s work with Visual Effects Supervisor Lesley Robson-Foster. “The Final Shot: A Farewell To Boardwalk Empire” features cast/crew discussing the show. “Anatomy Of A Hit” features Creator/Executive Producer/Writer Terence Winter, Executive Producer/Director Tim Van Patten and Executive Producer/Writer Howard Korder discuss the best kills in the film.

Queensrÿche Launch “Building the Empire”, a New Album – Pre-order via Pledgemusic

Band Offering Fans Various Unique Experiences In Conjunction With Pre-Order Including An Opportunity For Accredited Investors To Purchase A Stake In Queensrÿche Corporation

Eddie Jackson, Todd LaTorre, Parker Lundgren, Scott Rockenfield and Michael Wilton to Release New Album via Century Media in Spring 2015

(November 4th, 2014 – New York, NY) – A newly revitalized Queensrÿche have partnered with for a new album pre-order campaign entitled Building The Empire. Eddie Jackson, Todd LaTorre, Parker Lundgren, Scott Rockenfield and Michael Wilton will offer fans various unique experiences to bring them closer to the band than ever before. The band is offering everything from limited edition vinyl and merchandise to the actual instruments played on the upcoming album and a chance to hang with the band in their hometown of Seattle. The album pre-order as well as all of these other items and experiences can be found at

“For the first time in the history of Queensrÿche, we are doing something we have never done before,” states bassist Eddie Jackson. In conjunction with the pre-order, Queensrÿche has created an opportunity for accredited investors to purchase a stake in Queensrÿche Holdings, LLC. This stake will allow select investors that meet certain financial requirements to share in all of the profits the band makes moving forward. This opportunity is being offered on a limited basis; interested parties should go for more information and to begin the investor accreditation process.

Queensrÿche has recently begun writing music for their new album that is slated for release in Spring 2015. This release marks the band’s second album with Century Media as well as the second album with new vocalist Todd LaTorre. This release will be the follow up to their self-titled 2013 release which debuted on Billboard’s Top 200 chart landing at #23 and selling 13,659 copies its first week. That album received critical acclaim including Billboard magazine’s review stating: “From the moment Rockenfield’s drums and Wilton and Parker Lundgren’s guitars go on the attack in “Where Dreams Go to Die,” the traditional Queensrÿche sound is back. The hooks are arresting, and the rhythm section packs unmitigated fire power.” Sites such as Metal Underground proclaimed: “The band has brought back much of the direction that made it one of the most revered in progressive/power metal history,” and exclaims: “This self-titled slab of faith-restoring metal boasts the return of the almighty riff, twin guitar leads, and brazen in-your-face melodies.”

Queensrÿche first burst onto the music scene in 1982 with the release of their self-titled 4 song EP Queensrÿche. They very quickly gained international recognition and performed to sold out audiences around the world. With the follow up first full-length album “The Warning” in 1984, and the ground breaking 1986 release of “Rage For Order”, Queensrÿche continued to prove their worldwide dominance as one of the most respected and creative bands of the 80’s. In 1988 the band turned out yet another monumental album “Operation: Mindcrime”, which would go on to become one of the TOP 10 best selling concepts records of all time, and set the stage for continued sold out performances around the world. With the release of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful “Empire” in 1991, the band earned multiple Grammy Award nominations and won the MTV “viewer’s choice” award for the #1 chart topping hit “Silent Lucidity”. During the next ten years, the band continued to release albums and tour the world to sold-out audiences. Queensrÿche has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and have continued to break new ground and push their creative process.

Queensrÿche is Todd La Torre (vocals), Michael Wilton (guitars), Parker Lundgren (guitars), Eddie Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums).

Blu-ray Review “300: Rise of an Empire”

Actors: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro
Directors: Noam Murro
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Run Time: 102 minutes

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

When I heard about the plans for a sequel to “300”, I have to admit, I did roll my eyes a little. Honestly though, “300: Rise of the Empire” is a actually a really solid follow up to “300” and in same way even a better film than the first film. It is adapted from a screenplay by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, and based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel “Xerxes”. It has a great cast lead by the gorgeous Eva Green (“Dark Shadows”) along with Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”) and Rodrigo Santoro (“Love Actually”) who return to reprise their roles. After watching this I was left just saying “Wow, that was crazy”. Highly recommend.

Official Premise: “300: Rise of an Empire” takes the action to a fresh battlefield — the sea — as Greek general Themistokles (Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. Themistokles must face the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Santoro) and Artemisia (Green), vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Warner Bros is releasing the film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray, DVD and an Ultraviolet Digital Copy. This film was made to be seen in 3D and I am sure it is amazing in 3D but the film also worked very well in 2D. The 1080p transfer is easily one of the best that I have seen all year. It is flawless and really pops off the screen and that is not in 3D. I just love the style and this is just visually stunning. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is literally insane and such a powerhouse! It had my walls shaking and my wife screaming to lower it, so that means it was very effective!

In terms of special features, there are some decent extras here. The main powerhouse here is “The 300 Effect”, which consists of four featurettes focusing on the film including “Brutal Artistry”, “A New Breed of Hero”, “Taking the Battle to the Sea”, which focus on taking the fighting to the sea and 3 Days in Hell” looks into the how the battle scenes were created. “Real Leaders & Legends” and “Women Warriors” shows us some of history legends that changed history. “Savage Warships” gives us an inside look into their creation. Lastly “Becoming a Warrior” looks into the challenge that was required to get ready for shooting.

Own “300: Rise of an Empire” on Blu-ray 3D combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, 2-disc DVD special edition and Digital HD on 6/24

“Empire of the B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band” Book Giveaway [ENDED]

Media Mikes is teaming up with Full Moon to giveaway a copy of “Empire of the B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band” book. This is a must for any true horror fan. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Full Moon film. This giveaway will remain open until April 18th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

The ‘Pulse-pounding’ saga of the Charles Band Empire…

Charles Robert Band is one of the last great B-movie survivors–a genuine pioneer who, over four decades, forged such a unique path through the no man’s land of independent genre cinema that many thought him more than capable of seizing legendary producer Roger Corman’s long-held crown as ‘King of the B-movies’. The 1970s through to the late 1980s was the last great ‘golden age’ for the B-movie community, and with a non-stop series of grindhouse classics like Laserblast, Parasite, Re-Animator and Dolls for his own company Empire Pictures, it was the era that saw Charles Band take his rightful place in the indie hall of fame as Emperor of the ‘B’s.

FOREWORD by Stuart Gordon

Empire of the ‘B’s written by Dave Jay
377 pages

Click here to purchase of copy of “Empire of the B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band”

Film Review “300: Rise of an Empire”

Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green and Lena Headey
Directed By: Noam Murro
Rated: R
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Warner Brothers Pictures

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Prepare for another trip into the re-imagined green screen history of ancient Greece. Prepare for another thick dose of blood splatter to coat the screen. Prepare for another unnecessarily high body count that probably outweighs the actual population of ancient Athens. Prepare for pure testosterone driven men who’ve never heard of the word shirt. Prepare for…ah hell, you get the picture. It’s time for another heaping plateful of gore in Zack Snyder’s stylized look at war, between the Greek city states and Persian Empire.

If you haven’t seen “300”, then don’t bother seeing this; you’re going to be confused. “300: Rise of an Empire” takes place before, during and after the movie “300”. It wraps itself around its predecessor like a cocoon and heavily relies on the viewer having previous knowledge of it. That’s not to say there isn’t a story here. The movie starts off with the Battle of Marathon, detailing the heroics of Themistocles (Stapleton), as he repels the first invasion by Persia and slays Darius, the father of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). That segues into Xerxes’ path towards vengeance that will eventually lead to the second invasion of Greece nearly a decade later. He slowly deludes himself into believing he is a God among men. You can thank his right hand woman, Artemisia (Green), for polluting his mind with such a silly notion. Artemisia is Greek by blood, but wills the Persian army to avenge the wrongs made against her. We then see the duo’s carefully laid out land and sea invasions. Since we already the land invasion ends with King Leonidas and 300 Spartans biting the dust, we follow Artemisia as she commands a fleet into two sea battles. Themistocles and Artemisia lead their respective sides into battle, both seemingly invincible when participating in the melee.

I would probably be scolded for this sentiment, but I enjoyed this one more than the first. Where the first one took itself way too seriously and forcibly jammed the idea of freedom into it’s story, this one appears to realize how absurd it’s premise already is and just settles into violent popcorn entertainment. The extreme nationalistic pride is still there, but not persistently regurgitated in conversation. The movie instead propels the war forward as a personal vendetta by Xerxes and Artemisia. With that said, this movie would have crumbled without Eva Green playing a fantastic femme fatale. She owns the role of Artemisia in every way possible, clothing or not. I suspect Green has wanted to be the bad guy in movies for a while because she outshines the 10 foot tall Xerxes and is nothing short of malicious.

Zack Snyder seemed to tag along instead of sit in the director’s chair for this movie. He found Noam Murro to pilot this sequel and I’m not sure why he selected Murro. His only other directorial job was “Smart People”, where he had Dennis Quaid rediscover love and happiness with Sarah Jessica Parker. Maybe I’m wrong in my assumption. Maybe there’s a scene in “Smart People” that hinted at the director’s insatiable appetite to film disembowelment and decapitations of Persian underlings. Regardless, he seems to have filled Zack’s directorial shoes. If you had told me Zack directed this, I would have believed you.

Sure, I could go over the historical inaccuracies that tally higher than the corpse count, but that would be pointless. This movie’s purpose isn’t to be a glimpse into Greek history, but instead just a silly bloodbath. It’s more of the same, but it’s also a re-establishing of the brand Snyder put out way back in 2007. It’s simple minded violence that’s visually exciting and a true thrill to watch play out as it challenges itself to become more ludicrous with it’s psychotic clashes. “Rise of an Empire” manages to do what the Greeks did so famously with their own myths. It takes the history and culture and bloats it to make the heroes appear unbeatable and the enemies hopelessly evil. It then weaves it in an entertaining fashion.

Blu-ray Review “Empire State”

Starring: Emma Roberts, Liam Hemsworth, Dwayne Johnson, Nikki Reed, James Ransone, Michael Angarano
Director: Dito Montiel
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Lions Gate
DVD Release Date: September 3, 2013
Run Time: 94 minutes

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

With Dwayne Johnson popping up in practically about every film this year and Liam Hemsworth role with “The Hunger Games” behind him, I am surprised that this film didn’t make it into theaters. But I guess look what just happened to Hemsworth’s “Paranoia” in theaters and he has Indiana Jones co-starring with him. “Empire State” is definitely not what I expected but is pretty cool crime-thriller and it is also based around a true story. Like you would expect from Johnson, the action is here and he kicks some ass (like usual). Not my favorite film of the year but still worth a rent and would recommend this for fans of Dwayne Johnson.

Official Premise: After failing to get into the police academy, Chris Potamitis (Liam Hemsworth), settles for a security guard job with the “Empire State” Armored Truck Company. Chris makes the mistake of mentioning the company’s lax security to his best friend, Eddie (Michael Angarano), and is soon unwittingly drawn into an elaborate scheme to rob the abundant amounts of cash being stored there – resulting in the largest cash heist in U.S. History. As the stakes continue to rise, Chris and Eddie must outwit James Ransone (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), the veteran NYPD Detective that is hot on their trail, as well as the local crime bosses that want to know who pulled a job on their turf, or suffer the consequences.

Lions Gate is releasing this film as a Blu-ray + UltraViolet combo pack. The 1080p transfer works with the film’s action. The film has a pretty rocking DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track as well, which keeps the tension high throughout the film. The special features are decent and definitely worth checking out. There is commentary track from the director Dito Montiel. There is are behind-the-scenes interviews with cast/crew. The best extra is “Anatomy of a Heist: Interview with Chris Potamitis – The Mastermind Behind the Robbery”, which is featurette about the actual guy who the film is based on. Lastly, there a few deleted scenes included.

CD Review: Queensrÿche “Queensrÿche”

Century Media
Tracks: 11
Total Running Time:
Release Date:
June 25, 2013 (USA/Canada);
June 24, 2013 (Europe)

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“I don’t know. We don’t really have a plan right now. Honestly, this has been a really long tour and everybody’s just kind of burnt out… It’s probably just time to get home and chill and recharge the batteries. And then we’ll start talking in a couple of months about ‘Oh, do you wanna do something?’ and we’ll see what happens.”
~ Geoff Tate’s response to me on November 12, 2011 after being asked what the near future might hold for Queensrÿche (click here for full interview)

Of course, what did happen soon after my interview with the now-ousted lead singer has now become the stuff of tabloid fodder and rock and roll infamy. The sordid details – including Tate allegedly spitting on, punching, and perhaps even wielding a knife on his former band mates – will be hashed out in a courtroom sometime later this year when Tate and company battle to see who legally has the right to carry on using the band’s moniker. Until then, there are actually two Queensrÿches: in the red corner, there’s the one comprised of Geoff Tate and a seemingly ever-changing backing band comprised of hired heavy metal heavies and, in the blue corner, there’s the one that includes the rest of the Rÿche’s instrumentalists with new front man, Todd La Torre, formerly of Crimson Glory.

Tate’s camp has already released a hastily-produced album’s worth of new material, “Frequency Unknown” – or “F.U.”, for short (subtle, eh?) – that has been lambasted by fans and critics alike for doing nothing but tarnishing the already-damaged Queensrÿche name even further.

The Todd La Torre-led band’s album sets a markedly different tone from the onset. Rather than responding to Tate’s pugnaciously-titled “Frequency Unknown” by calling it “See Tate’s Fallacy Unfold” or some such, they’ve simply emblazoned the LP’s jacket with the band’s iconic “Tri-Ryche” logo and entitled it “Queensrÿche.” It’s a perfect choice because this eponymous release finds the group musically reconnecting with its roots, rebuilding its self-identity, and – ultimately – reclaiming a legacy.

“Queensrÿche” is an amazing return to form that (gasp!) actually sounds like a Queensrÿche album – and producer James “Jimbo” Barton, the man behind the mixing desk of the band’s biggest and best albums, “Operation: Mindcrime”, “Empire”, and “Promised Land”, undoubtedly has a lot to do with that. He knows how to blend all of the amazing musicianship at his disposal into an aural atmosphere that is unique and immediately identifiable as Queensrÿche.

The album opens with the foreboding instrumental “X2”, one that harkens back to the sonic collage that led off 1994’s “Promised Land” LP. From there, the band launches into a percussive and dual-guitar driven array of songs that firmly plant themselves in the sonic splendor of QR classics like “Screaming in Digital” and “Best I Can.” There’s no question that La Torre’s dynamic pipes are a major component behind why the songs work as well as they do. Vocally, his delivery is often similar to Tate’s, ranging from low baritone whispers to blistering highs, but he’s much more than just a sound-alike. He’s often more aggressive than Tate and that seems to have brought the best out of all of the other Tri-Rychers backing him – especially drummer Scott Rockenfield. He hasn’t sounded this pumped since the days of the glorious “Empire.” Indeed, it’s been a long time since we’ve heard the ‘Rÿche fire all thrusters and blast out satisfying crunchers like these.

My only minor complaint is that, after 35 minutes, the disc spins to a halt. Luckily, the album is so good that it’s worth listening to again – something that hasn’t been true of a Queensrÿche release for the better part of a decade. Does the new album have the power or majesty of their 1988 masterpiece “Operation: Mindcrime”? No – but that’s a lot to ask of a band that’s just undergone a major line-up change and is still in the midst of the biggest rock and roll drama since the Roger Waters / David Gilmour “which one’s Pink?” debacle. But it’s damn good and – perhaps more significantly – it’s now once again possible to imagine Queensrÿche making a record as good if not better than that seminal album because, like “Mindcrime’s” protagonist, Nikki, they seem to remember how it started and are no longer dedicated to chaos.


Track list:
1) X2 (1:09)
2) Where Dreams Go to Die (4:26)
3) Spore (3:25)
4) In This Light (3:24)
5) Redemption (4:16)
6) Vindication (3:26)
7) Midnight Lullaby (0:56)
8) A World Without (4:11)
9) Don’t Look Back (3:13)
10) Fallout (2:46)
11) Open Road (3:54)

Blu-ray Review “Atlantis: The Lost Empire / Atlantis: Milo’s Return”

Actors: Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Cree Summer, Don Novello, Claudia Christian
Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Run Time: 176 minutes

“Atlantis: The Lost Empire”: 3 out of 5 stars
“Atlantis: Milo’s Return”: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Last year Disney started flooding the market with their less than par animated films on Blu-ray in these 2 Movie Collection sets. A few of them that we got “The Rescuers”/”The Rescuers Down Under”, “Pocahontas”/Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World” and “Mulan”/”Mulan II”. This month we are getting a few more to add to our collections including “The Emperor’s New Groove”/”Kronk’s New Groove”, “Lilo & Stitch”/”Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch” and this release “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”/”Atlantis 2: Milo’s Return”. “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” is not the best thing that Disney has every made, it is watchable and put not one of my favorites.  The sequel is another story, it was original made as a TV show “Team Atlantis” but failed and ended up being pieced together as a film. It is quite the failure in terms of Disney. I would say this release is for the hardcore Disney fans only.

Official Premise: Set a course for adventure as Milo Thatch and his fearless crew dive into the mysteries of the sea.  The group’s underwater expedition brings them face-to-face with gigantic sea monsters, spectacular spirits and the mythical land of Atlantis while they discover the power of friendship and teamwork.  Loaded with thrills and stunning visual effects, this sensational 2-Movie Collection takes audiences on an unforgettable voyage they’ll want to experience over and over again!

The 2-Movie Collection release of “Atlantis: The Lost Empire / Atlantis: Milo’s Return” is a 3-disc set. Which includes both films on one Blu-ray with each film also included on their own DVD. In terms of Blu-ray presentation, the 1080p transfers are great for “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”, which really looks clear and the colors are beautiful. “Atlantis: Milo’s Return” is not the greatest, especially since it really has that made-for-TV feel to it. Just doesn’t work for me overall. Both films come stocked with a standard, yet impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio tracks, same thing applies here also as the video transfer. The first film sounds stunning and very epic, while the sequel does not reach that same level at all. Decent but no wow factor.

The best thing this Blu-ray has going for it that “The Emperor’s New Groove”/”Kronk’s New Groove” and “Lilo & Stitch”/”Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch” doesn’t is that it actually has special features on the Blu-ray disc. There is an audio commentary on the first film from producer Don Hahn and directors Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise.  I actually thought it was quite interesting and informational. “The Making of Atlantis” is a sweet hour long extensive ten-part documentary, which covers all aspects of the production. “The Lost Empire Deleted Scenes” includes four unused scenes. There is one deleted scene from “Milo’s Return” running thirty-two seconds long…really? Lastly there is “How to Speak Atlantean” as a faux news reel, “Atlantis: Fact or Fiction?”, which is fun for the kids and Theatrical Trailers included.

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DVD Review "LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out"

Directed by: Guy Vasilovich
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: March 26, 2013
Run Time: 22 minutes

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I love the idea of “LEGO Star Wars”. I have various pieces built together all over my home office. When they made the feature, “LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace”, I was head over heals. It was released in a beautiful Blu-ray/Combo pack with a limited edition Han Solo character. That brings be to wonder for this release, Why no Blu-ray? That is one thing that I am caught up for this release (would have been a 5/5 rating). Why release one in high def and not the other. If you can get over that than this is absolutely hysterical and a must own for any “Star Wars fan”. There is so much crammed in the short 22-minute feature that you are left wanting more but at the same time absolutely satisfied.

Official Premise: Your favorite characters are back to save the galaxy in LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out. The heroes of the Rebel Alliance including heroic Luke Skywalker, swaggering Han Solo and steadfast Princess Leia have no time to celebrate their victory over the Empire as a new Imperial threat arises. But as Jedi-in-training Luke embarks on this next mission, he discovers that his celebrity status as a “Death-Star-Blower-Upper” can be a double-edged lightsaber when he’s constantly mobbed by crazed fans. So much for secret missions! Meanwhile, Darth Vader and Darth Maul are locked in a hilarious “Sith-ling” rivalry as they compete for the Emperor’s approval. It’s an action-packed comic adventure that’s out of this world!

To be honest, I am shocked that they even got to release this film now that Disney owns Lucasfilm. They already canceled “The Clone Wars” and shelved “Detours”, so I am just happy that they didn’t shelf this as well. I do hope that Disney smartens up and that they are planning more of these “LEGO Star Wars” features because they are so much fun. “The Empire Strikes Out” packs some very funny yet witty slapstick humor. Fans can also expect your favorite LEGO Star Wars characters. Just because this title is related to “Empire Strikes Back”, we still get our favorites like Darth Maul, Ahsoka Tano and many more who pop in for a laugh or two.

Written by Emmy Award winner Michael Price (“The Simpsons”), the feature includes voices from series regulars including Anthony Daniels, Ahmed Best, Tom Kane and  Sam Witwer appear as the voices of C-3PO, Jar Jar Binks, Yoda and Darth Maul. Also a bunch of other veterans return including Kenneth Colley, Brian Blessed, Andrew Secombe and Julian Glover, whom reprise their roles of Admiral Piett, Boss Nass, Watto and General Veers, respectively. “The Empire Strikes Out” was dedicated in memory of Ralph McQuarrie, the designer of the original trilogy, who recently passed away. Lastly I haven’t forgotten  the DVD will include an exclusive collectible Darth Vader w/Metal LEGO minifigure. So that is easily worth the $10 price point alone.

William Forsythe talks about roles in "Happy in the Valley" and "Boardwalk Empire"

After several successful years appearing in various television (“Fame,” “Hill Street Blues”) and film (“King of the Mountain,” “The Lightship”) William Forsythe made an impact on filmgoers everywhere as escaped convict Evelle Snoats in the Coen Brothers comedy “Raising Arizona.” This led to featured roles in films like “Weeds,” “Dick Tracy,” “Out for Justice” and “American Me,” in which he gives one of my favorite performances – that of JD, a Caucasian gang member who acts Chicano. He continued to find success with roles in films like “The Waterdance,” “The Rock,” “Blue Streak” and “The Librarians,” which he also wrote. He also had a memorable turn as Al Capone in the television series “The Untouchables.” He recently completed a stint on the acclaimed HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” and will soon be seen as former boxer Jake LaMotta in the “Raging Bull” follow-up entitled “The Bronx Bull.” While promoting his current film, “Happy in the Valley,” Mr. Forsythe took some time to answer some questions. We traded blizzard stories (I was in the middle of one when we spoke and he had just dug himself out of one the week before) for a few moments before he talked about his new film, “Boardwalk Empire” and what could be next for him behind the camera.

Mike Smith: Introduce us to your character in “Happy in the Valley,” photographer Stewart Fox.
William Forsythe: What kind of introduction would you like? He’s pretty “balls to the wall!” What I think is amazing about Stewart as a character is that he’s a guy that has basically lived on the very bottom of the Hollywood scene. He worked his way up and rose to the top of his profession. He’s now fallen back down.

MS: What about the character drew you to the project?
WF: What drew me to the project is that this guy has seen it all in the course of his life and he’s been at the top of his game. And now, at this point of his life, he’s back at the very bottom. He’s become bitter. He has a drinking problem. He has a drug problem. And what really drew me to this picture is that you have this world that is really seedy and ugly as the backdrop. It’s really a story about his epiphany. One of the main things is that this guy, who has been everywhere, really learns that he needs to go back to the beginning…to where it all began. It’s such an uplifting story, especially for a film that’s set in the porn business.

MS: Stewart is described as “The World’s Greatest Erotic Photographer.” What exactly does that entail?
WF: I think it entails different things that occur during his life and career. In the beginning he was touted as one of the great photographers. He did very classy shoots…very classy and erotic shoots. But at this point in the game…as the porn world goes from film to digital….it’s like boxing is being replaced by crazy cage fighting…this world that he once knew has changed. In order to support himself he has to take himself to the bottom of the industry. He makes money but the amount of dignity he can take home with him is literally none.

MS: You’ve had such great success in both film and television projects. Do you have a preferred medium to work in?
WF: I love to make movies. Movies are my favorite. I love to take a story and tell the whole story from beginning to end. I enjoy television too but basically every week you get handed new pages and you don’t have a lot of control about where the story is going. And there are so many types of films. I’ve done my share of big studio pictures. But when you take on a beautiful independent film like “Happy in the Valley” you can see the magic happen…it’s the closest thing to the old feeling I used to get on stage. It reminded me of going off and doing summer stock.

MS: Speaking of getting pages and finding out you’re no longer on the show, do you miss the experience of working on “Boardwalk Empire?”
WF: I had a great time working on that show and I miss all of the people involved. The one thing about “Boardwalk Empire” – to the man and woman – is that people were dedicated to putting out something special. And that is not as common as it used to be. And that aspect of it I miss. But I knew….when I entered “Boardwalk Empire” everything was rolling along fine…but I knew the minute that I killed those two girls that I had a thunderbolt hanging over my head. And it’s true. You do find out on the day. They hand you your pages and you’re dead!

MS: You wrote the film “The Librarians” and you’ve produced several projects. Do you ever see yourself sitting in the director’s chair? WF: I do. I’ve had a couple offers and I certainly have a lot of scripts that I’ve written. So yes, I do.

MS: Any word on when “The Bronx Bull” will be released?
WF: I’m not sure on the exact date. The last time I spoke to the producers they were shooting for late spring. They’re hoping for an initial theatrical release of 20-25 cities but they haven’t set a release date yet.

MS: Thank you again for your time this morning.
WF: Thank you. And stay strong in that blizzard, buddy!

Dokken’s George Lynch talks about new album with T&N called "Slave to the Empire"

Guitar legend George Lynch is probably best known for his work with the popular eighties hard rock band Dokken. After the break-up of the band in 1989 George continued to be successful with his group’s Lynch Mob, Souls of We and T&N which along with George also features former Dokken members Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown. T&N has just released a new album titled “Slave to the Empire” and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with George about the release as well as some of his new signature guitar products.

Adam Lawton: What led to the decision of revisiting the T&N project and to also recording a new album?
George Lynch: The idea of me, Jeff, Mick and maybe even Don Dokken playing together again has always been there. The thing is with everyone being in different bands these days and being busy it’s kind of hard to all get together.  You almost have to have a reason or an avenue to make that happen. We had been trying to put the Dokken thing back together for a few years and it never really happened. Eventually Mick, Jeff and I decided to do this without Don. We did ask him to join us however he declined. When you play with the same group of guys for a number of decades those experiences never go away as its part of your life.

AL: Where there at any time reservations about the project and getting back together?
GL: No. Mick has really been coming back in a big way over the last few years. He has gone out on a couple Lynch Mob tours, he played on this album of course and he will most likely end up being the drummer when we take T&N on the road. Jeff and I have been constantly trying to find ways to work together. We live down the street from one another and really our relationship has never changed. We still inter-act the same as we did in the early Dokken days. We might be 30 years older but when we are sitting in a room playing music together it’s like that time never went by.

AL: What was it like writing new material together and also revisiting the old material?
GL: Those were two completely different animals. Re-doing the old stuff was relatively easy. It didn’t require a lot of brain power as we know the songs really well. That allowed us to have fun with them and change/add in some new parts. With the new material it was more as if we were in a laboratory. A little more thinking was required. Thinking is work for me these days. (Laughs) We did a lot of the writing by the seat of our pants. That’s what’s wonderful about writing with Jeff. I love the trust we have and we have a certain style of writing. There has never been an issue with Jeff and me productivity wise. There is sometimes an issue though when it comes to picking a direction. We may write a trippy acid song one time and a blues song the next. We have to sort of bring ourselves in when it comes to that type of thing.

AL: Has there been any discussion about touring in support of the release?
GL: We intended to go out last year during the fall. We had a really great slot at the Loud Park Festival and there were a few European shows and a few shows in the states booked however due to a number of business reasons things didn’t pan out. Things for this coming year are looking really good and our intention is to get out there.

AL: Being a huge horror fan I have to ask how Dokken got involved with the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise?
GL: We had a wonderful manager at the time by the name of Cliff Bernstein. At the time he was probably one of the biggest rock managers and still actually could be one of the biggest today. If I had to credit one person with the success of Dokken I would have to credit him. He brought that opportunity to us. Being involved with that film really propelled the band in to a lot of people’s consciousness. Jeff and I wrote “Dream Warriors” when we were living together in Arizona. For us it was a huge deal even though we didn’t really make any money at it. (Laughs) We were persuaded by our managers to take a buy out on the song. We received a small piece for the song and that was it. It worked for us though.

AL: Were you guy’s fans of the previous films?
GL: I personally was. When the first one came out I thought it was pretty mind blowing. I was in to horror films growing up and I like a lot of the classics. Prior to the movie though I had sort of evolved out of liking the genre but when we did the song for the film it renewed my interest in horror films.

AL: Do you have any new signature guitar gear coming out this year?
GL: I have two things that I can think of off of the top of my head. The first one is a pedal I have been working on with the Cusack Company. The idea is for the pedal to combine everything I think is crucial in a pedal board in to one unit. Over the years I have found running a number of pedals can cause impedance issues. This pedal is being designed so that everything matches up perfectly and all your signals are balanced. The other thing I have been working on is a signature acoustic guitar through ESP. They have come out extremely well and even better than I expected. We worked hard on the project to make a guitar that sounded good and was affordable. Everything on these guitars looks and sounds great!

AL: Do you have any other projects in the works that you would like to mention?
GL: I have a project that we just decided on a name for the other day. It’s titled KXM. The letters stand for Korn, Kings X and Lynch Mob. The lineup is Ray Luzier of Korn, Doug Pinnick of Kings X and me so that’s where the KXM comes from. We went in to the studio not knowing what we would sound like. Things could have gone a number of different ways but what it ended up being is a very dark sounding record with some funk elements. We actually just finished it up. I don’t think there is anything unexpected on the record but it is dark. We have some interesting ideas of how we are going to be releasing the material so people will want to be watching for that. I also have something that is still in the project stage called The Infidels. It features the rhythm section of the band WAR. We are doing some very ass shaking, groove type material that is just instrumental at this time as we are still deciding what we want to do with everything. Lastly is a documentary film titled “ShadowTrain”. On the surface the film appears to be about music and Native Americans but it is really an exploration of human nature. The film is philosophical, historical, musical and spiritual. This is something I have never done before but thankfully I have people working with me on this that know what they are doing. There is also a band involved with this as well that recorded a record. The record is the soundtrack to the film and is mostly improvisational. What we did was to go around to Native American reservations and play music that was completely improvisational. We had no idea what we were going to do. We just would start with a beat or a riff and see where it would take us. People interested in finding out more about the film can visit the official website at 


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DVD Review “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – Adventures in the Crystal Empire”

Actors: Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain
Directors: Jayson Thiessen
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Run Time: 120 minutes

Release: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When I showed this title to my wife, who grew up with the original 80’s series, the first thing she said is she hated the way the animation looks. I understand where she is coming from but I kind of like of the Japanese anime feel to this new rebooted series. Watching this show with my six month old daughter, she couldn’t take her eyes off the screen. It is like a color and noise explosion for the kids.

There are four episodes includes from “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” series, including “The Crystal Empire Part 1 & 2, Sonic Rainboom, Luna Eclipsed and “It’s About Time”. Though on the same day that this is being release “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic- Season One” is also being released, I would just recommend that one since you get 26 episodes of 5 for only double the price. At the time of writing this review they have aired 57 episodes and are into season three, so Shout Factory better get a move on releasing season two quickly!

Official Premise: In Adventures in the Crystal Empire, a magical empire has suddenly appeared in the arctic north of Equestria, and Princess Celestia needs Twilight Sparkle and her friends to find a way to protect it. While her friends try to keep the Crystal Ponies occupied at the Crystal Faire, Twilight Sparkle searches for the hidden Crystal Heart that is the key to keeping their empire safe from harm!

The show itself is extremely colorful and very eye-catching for kids. The DVD is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and with 2.0 Stereo audio track. If you are looking for more “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, the series is currently airing on The HUB TV Network. So check it out! The special features are a little light for a kids release but include a coloring sheet and sing-along.

CD Review: RiotGod “Invisible Empire”

“Invisible Empire”
Metalville Records
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Invisible Empire” is the 2nd studio album release by the Red Bank, NJ based band RiotGod. The bands line up consists of Garret Sweeney- guitar, Mark Sunshine- vocals and Monster Magnet members Bob Pantella- drums and Jim Baglino- bass. “Invisible Empire” is being released via Metalville Records and is the follow up release to the bands self titled album “RiotGod”

Being a fan of Monster Magnet back in my college days I was curious to hear what the rhythm section of the band had going on as of late. Though a touch different than what I was expecting “Invisible Empire” still was a fairly enjoyable listen. Vocalist Mark Sunshine has a Robert Plant type sound to his voice that gives these 12 tracks a modern Led Zeppelin sound. The track “Loosely Bound” was a personal favorite of mine as I really enjoyed the guitar playing and overall feel of the song. The 12 tracks contained on “Invisible Empire” may not have enough of the Monster Magnet sound for hardcore fans of the band however, those willing to explore something different will find a solid rock album.

Track Listing:
1.)    Breed
2.)    Fool
3.)    Crossfade
4.)    Slow Death
5.)    Firebrand
6.)    Gas Station Roses
7.)    Tomorrow’s Today
8.)    Saving It Up
9.)    Loosely Bound
10.)  Lost
11.)  Hallow Mirror
12.)  Rebirth