Blu-ray Review “At the Gate of the Ghost”

Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 16, 2013
Run Time: 107 minutes

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

If you are a fan of Japanese films that you will know about “Rashomon”. This adapation of that the film really delivers a visual treat. It is also packs a great cast including Ananda Everingham (“Legend of the Tsunami Warrior”), Mario Maurer (“The Love of Siam”), Chermarn Bonnyasak (“The Love of Siam”), Mum Jokmok (“Ong Bak” Franchise, “The Protector”) and Dom Hetrakul (“Bangkok Dangerous”). The story is well paced and the action is mouth dropping. I would highly recommend checking out this film if you are a fan of the genre.

Official Premise: In this adaptation of the Japanese film Rashomon, a young monk leaves town to seek his father’s counsel after being disturbed by the murder trial testimony of the bandit Singh Khan, the wife of the deceased warlord, and a shaman who conjures up the warlord’s spirit. Along the way, he encounters a poor man who testified at the trial, and the two take refuge in an abandoned burial tunnel during a storm. They are met by an old beggar who joins in their lively conversation about the trial. In vivid detail, each story is witnessed on screen as it’s told from the bandit’s, the wife’s and the warlord’s perspectives, all riddled with bias and personal agenda. In the end, the young monk is left to determine what meaning is of true consequence not only in this murder trial, but in choosing to continue on his monastic path.

The Blu-ray presentation is great. The 1080p transfer is very impressive. The colors really pop out and looks very sharp. The action in the film is so well choreographed. The audio option included a Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which really works with the charm of the film and compliments the action sequels very well. The special features are ok but nothing amazing. They include a brief “The Making of a Legendary Story”, “Behind the Scenes” featurette and an International trailer as well.

3D Blu-ray Review “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D”

Directed by: Brian Taylor, Mark Neveldine
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Running Time: 95 minutes

Blu-ray Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Film Score: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Unlike most people, I was a big fan of the first “Ghost Rider” film. I am also a huge fan of Nicolas Cage and he is at his most zaniest in this film. After seeing the crazy trailer for “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, I was psyched that they were really bringing back Ghost Rider as more dark and violent and even in 3D. But unfortunately, they disappointed by taming this film to yet another safe PG-13 release. Ghost Rider is a dark character from Hell yet they have been afraid to really take the plunge on this franchise. On the bright side of this release though, the Blu-ray is impressive and the 3D is great even though it is converted.

Nicolas Cage returns to the role of Johnny Blaze in this sequel. He is still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter. While hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe, he is recruited by a secret group from the church in order to save a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from the devil (Ciaran Hinds), who is looking for a new body. Blaze decided to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider once more in order to protect the boy and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.

Even though the film is a bit disappointing, the Blu-ray release is not. “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” packs a sweet 1080p 3D transfer and looks better on Blu-ray than it did on the big screen. Though if you are not a fan of 3D, there is also a 2D presentation of the film as well included. Also included is a sweet Ultraviolet streaming digital copy. This Blu-ray also packs a super awesome quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track, which blew up my surround sound.

There special features are impressive overall.  Unlike most 3D releases, this one actually packs a 3D extra called “Riding Into Another Dimension”.  It is a little short but focuses on cast/crew discussing 3D filmmaking and issues with converting the 2D to 3D in post-production. There is an awesome director’s expanded video commentary with picture-in-picture.  It is being described by Sony as “an all access behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film”.   There are just over 10 minutes of deleted scenes included.  Lastly there is a super intense six-part documentary, ” The Path to Vengeance: Making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, which encompasses focusing on the behind-the-scenes making the film. Highly recommended.

Blu-ray Review “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Alpha”

Directed by: Herve de Crecy, Francois Alaux
Starring: Radek Bruna and Mark Ivanir
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Distributed by: New Video
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Running Time: 25 minutes

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

A live-action “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” film…where do I sign up. This film is a sharp and fantastic attempt to showcase the charm of this series. The only bad thing about short film is that it is a ‘short film’, I would have loved to seen this go feature length. This film will be put out to time with the release of Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier” video game for Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. The film is produced by Little Minx aka Ridley Scott, so you know that you are not getting some cheesy low-budget action. This film contains some great action and impressive CGI. New Video also released last year the brilliant “Assassin’s Creed: Lineage”, live-action prequel as well. What’s next guys? We want more!!??

If you are aware of the “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” franchise, you will know that the ghosts are the world’s most highly trained and lethal soldiers. This film is a specifically a prequel to the new video game “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier”. It focuses on what happens when the Ghosts are dropped behind behind lines in hopes to eliminate one of the world’s biggest terrorists. This film also boasts the amazing cinematography from Trent Opaloch, known best for his work on “District 9”.

This release not only comes with a Blu-ray disc but also a DVD disc as well. The video looks great in its high-def 1080p transfer. The audio is also very impressive and packed with a fantastic score. There are only two special features but they are very impressive and worth the purchase of this film alone. There is 30 minute making-of featurette, which is longer than the film itself and really dives into all aspects including the special effects, the production and even the score. Lastly there is the 2010 Comic-Con teaser included. If you are fan of the series, this is a must purchase.

Film Review “Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol”

Starring: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner
Directed by: Brad Bird
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Paramount

Our Score: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Things are not going well on the other side of the world. In Budapest, a loyal American agent is shot dead during what was supposed to be a routine mission. At the same time, in Moscow, an elaborate prison break is being executed. The subject of the mission: one Ethan Hunt (Cruise). As he reaches the end of his escape route he yells to one of his rescuers, “Light the fuse!” Cue the music.

It’s been five years since the last “Mission.” Since then, Ethan’s team has been re-staffed and they are wary of working with him. Many rumors circulated after the death of Hunt’s wife, among them that he went rogue and killed the people responsible for her death. But now he and his skills are needed. A shadowy figure calling himself COBALT is looking to launch a nuclear weapon. He has managed to obtain the equipment necessary and now just needs the launch codes. He has also managed to frame Hunt and company for bombing the Russian Kremlin. Of course, like the instructions say, the members of the IMF have been disavowed. They are on their own as they try to prevent what will surely become World War III.

Many film fans balked when director Brad Bird was chosen to direct “M:I 4.” They needn’t have worried. With such classic animated films behind him like “The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles,” Bird has only shifted his skills to now include real live people on screen. He fills the screen with wall to wall action, making sure there isn’t a dull moment to slow down the story. Shot all over the world, cinematographer Robert Elswit, who is the DP of choice for Paul Thomas Anderson and won an Oscar for his work on “There Will Be Blood” takes advantage of the different locales with almost breathtaking beauty. The production managed to secure the approval to film in and, most importantly, outside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is the tallest building in the world. Setting their cameras at the very ledge of a 130th floor window, Bird and Elswit gives us a view we would never be able to achieve in our lives.

The cast is just as committed as the director. Cruise is obviously comfortable in Hunt’s shoes and gives a strong performance. He is joined by a trio of actors that make up his new team. Patton, best known for romantic comedies, kicks serious ass as Jane. Simon Pegg, also known for comedies, plays Benji. He’s the gadget guy who can’t wait to go on a mission that requires him to wear a mask. But the surprise here is Renner. After back to back Oscar nominations (for “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town,” you may have him pegged as a serious bad ass. And he is. But he also shows a flair for comedy and completes the team. Good work is also turned in by Tom Wilkinson and Anil Kapoor (the game show host in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The visual effects are spectacular, including a sand storm that begins in the desert and slowly envelops Dubai. I saw the film in IMAX and this is the perfect film for the format. This is Cruise and company’s greatest mission so far.

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is now playing exclusively in IMAX theatres. It opens wide December 21st.”

CD Review: 3 “The Ghost You Gave Me”

3
“The Ghost You Gave Me”
Metal Blade Records
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 2 out of 5

“The Ghost You Gave Me” will be the 6th studio release for the Woodstock, NY band 3. “The Ghost You Gave Me” is a rock infused blend of melodic vocals and stylistic guitar lines that captivate the listener from the very start. 3 formed in 1994 and quickly made their way up the progressive music ranks and in 2008 the band was part of the progressive rock package tour “Progressive Nation” which also featured Opeth, Between the Buried and Me and Dream Theater. “The Ghost You Gave Me” is the bands follow up release to their 2009 album titled “Revisions”.

“The Ghost You Gave Me” I found to be an interesting listen. The album was vocally very melodic and well performed even though I would have prefered a little heavier less dated approach. At times the music seemed weak and the instrumentation was not on the level of some other progressive bands however each member did have specific moments throughout the album where they could shine. A couple highlights off the album consisted of the title track “The Ghost You Gave Me” as well as “Pretty” which featured a catchy sing along type chorus that was enjoyable to listen to.

3’s “The Ghost You Gave Me” didn’t do much to impress me. In looking at the progressive music genre as a whole I think there really needs to be something new to come along and in a sense one up what bands like Dream Theater did starting in the mid 80’s. If bands such as 3 keep putting out dated interpretations instead of new and fresh material the genre progressive will surely slip further into the obscure.

Track Listing:
1.)    Sirenum Scopuli
2.)    React
3.)    Sparrow
4.)    High Times
5.)    Numbers
6.)    On With the Sun
7.)    The Ghost You Gave Me
8.)    Pretty
9.)    Afterglow
10.)  It’s Alive
11.)  Only Child
12.)  The Barrier

 

 

 

New Poster For “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”

New Poster Now Available For “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”.  In theaters: December 21st, 2011.

Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Josh Holloway, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Lea Seydoux, Anil Kapoor

Synopsis

This is not just another mission. The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot. Ghost Protocol is initiated and Ethan Hunt and his rogue new team must go undercover to clear their organization’s name. No help, no contact, off the grid. You have never seen a mission grittier and more intense than this.

 

 

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CD Review: Warm Ghost “Narrows”

Warm Ghost
“Narrows”
Partisan Records
Producer: Abe Seiferth
Tracks: 9

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Warm Ghost are a two piece Brooklyn, NY group made up of Oliver Chapoy and Paul Duncan. Together the two fuse the sounds of Experimental Pop and something they call Psychedelic John Hughes. “Narrows” is the duo first release which is being released via Partisan Records on September 27th.

“Narrows” is an interesting blend of stylistic synth blends and slow droning vocals which are then combined together making up the 9 tracks found on Warm Ghost’s debut release. At times the group has somewhat of a Modest Mouse sound however it is a little less accesable to the casual listener. The band describes their sound as Psychedelic John Hughes and rightfully so. Tracks like “I Will Return” and “Inside Out” almost sound as though they came right out of one of Hughes movies however with a few updated touches. I was a fan of the track “Myths on Rotting Ships”. With such an interesting I was instantly drawn to it. The song is full of some really cool and interesting sound layers which makes it enjoyable to listen to.

Warm Ghost’s debut release “Narrows” may not be something you can listen to all the time or if you are a casual experimental music listen as it might be a little too much. However for those seasoned listeners and fans of the genre you may enjoy this release.

Track Listing:
1.) G.T.W.S.
2.) I Will Return
3.) Once One
4.) Myths on Rotting Ships
5.) Ply7
6.) Inside and Out
7.) Mariana
8.) Splay of Road
9.) An Absolute Light