“Under the Wizard Moon” – A Great Book for Children of All Ages!

Under the Wizard Moon
Author:  Aunt Raini – some illustrations by Nikki D. Caravella
Publisher:  Art Bookbindery
Hardcover – 36 pages
A weaver of dreams.  A talking toad.  And kittens that roam at night.
These are just a few of the magical characters you’ll meet in the new book for children of all ages, “Under the Wizard Moon.”
Full of smartly written poems, and brilliantly illustrated by both the author and PhoenixIllustrations’ Nikki D. Caravella, the stories are fun to read while the brightly colored accompanying illustrations will help describe the story even more.  And while some things may naturally frighten small children, the wordplay used will soon make them friendly and acceptable, an important lesson for children.  Of all ages.
To order a copy of “Under the Wizard Moon,” you can contact her on her Facebook page HERE
Beware the Kitties at Night!

Great online games to avoid the holiday blues!

During this holiday season, many people get what’s called the holiday blues. If you don’t get to share your holidays with a family or love ones, they can get a little down. I usually like to loose myself online and just browse around and play games. There are tons are great online games to pass the time and even in cases make you some of that holiday money back.

Whether you are a MMORPG video game players or someone that likes to hit the slots virtually. Here is one of the must visit sites, 888 casino bonus, which features everything from online casinos to roulette to automatic games. There are more than 200 games to choose from with HUGE jackpots and instant bonuses, in addition.

If you prefer MMORPG games, then you can check out another must play, Legend of Heroes, which is an online MMORPG and MMO game. This game has been out for a few years now and still drawing in a huge audience. So whether it be online gaming or guilding these are a few good ones to battle to holiday blues!

Jag 13 of Eat The Turnbuckle discusses the bands latest EP “The Great American Bash Your Head In”

Eat The Turnbuckle is a heavy metal band hailing from Philadelphia, PA. Despite being from “The City of Brotherly Love” the groups sound and stage show which features elements of extreme wrestling couldn’t be further from the cities well know moniker. The band recently released a new EP titled “The Great American Head Bash In” and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with the bands vocalist Jag 13 to discuss the new EP, the group’s intense stage shows and their plans for the remainder of 2016.

Adam Lawton: Is Eat the Turnbuckle a band who wrestles or, wrestler that play in a band?

Jag 13: It’s kind of both honestly. Some of the older guys in the band used to wrestle and Shlak one of our guitarists wrestles now for CZW. For me personally I have always been into both wrestling and music. Philadelphia has always been a great town for wrestling and when I was younger I remember the WWF coming through a lot. I got to see the whole ECW thing come into play as well. With music I think that’s something almost everyone gets in to at a young age so I have been in to both for as long as I can remember.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands most recent EP?

Jag 13: We did “The Great American Bash Your Head In” for our most recent tour. We try and have new material out each time we go on the road. If we know we are going to be heading out at a certain time we start writing and putting things together. This EP has 5 new songs which have been going over really well so far. We only did one show here in the states on this run with the rest of the dates being over in Europe. We did about 22 shows over there and wrapped things up with our performance at this year’s Gwar B-Q inn Virginia. We were actually supposed to do one other show however we had to cancel due to our drummer having a broken ankle. He actually broke it the second day of tour and finally went to the hospital on the fourth day of the tour. He had a cast on but didn’t miss one show. Like a dummy he took the cast off when we got back home and things got messed up even worse.(Laughs)

AL: Speaking of the Gwar B-Q. This was the second time you guys have been asked to play. How did this year’s event differ from the previous year you performed?

Jag 13: The first time we played they had us going on pretty early. Something happened with the doors and we ended up playing to a small group as a lot of people were stuck at the gates. I think the reception from those who saw was really good and the fact that a lot of people who wanted to see us couldn’t helped with us getting asked back this year. This year was off the hook! We played the Slutman Pavilion which was a lot of fun. I think I would prefer playing that stage over one of the bigger stages. We have sort of gotten used to playing on smaller stages but even if we were on the bigger stage things would have definitely spilled over. (Laughs) A bigger stage means we have to do bigger gimmicks!

AL: With your show incorporating extreme/hardcore wrestling elements and references what was the European reception like being that type of wrestling isn’t as common there?

Jag 13: I think those things were why we have caught on so well over there. They don’t have the hardcore and extreme matches in their wrestling shows so this is something new for them. We had people coming up to us after the shows who weren’t fans of the music but they came out to check out the wrestling. We played a lot of smaller countries over there and those people just ate it up. They loved watching the shows. We did a festival in the Czech Republic where they actually got a wring for us. Shlak ended up wrestling the Champ from the league there in a death match. It was in front of about five thousand people and it was just crazy. Both the guys needed to get stitched up afterwards.

AL: What type of planning goes into one of your shows being that not only are you performing musically but you are also including wrestling elements as well?

Jag 13: We argue a lot. (Laughs) Right before the show we sort of get the lay of the land and plan out what we are going to do. At the same time we have work with the venue to make sure we know what we can and can’t do. Like when we did the Gwar B-Q you can’t have any glass. Every show is a little different so we have to just go with the flow. People have been really accommodating. We have all been in bands that have crazy stage shows. That’s how we all came together. Philadelphia has a history of violent shows so we sort of just fit in to that. When things started to get a little more PC within the scene myself and Shlak started gathering guys who still wanted something crazy.

AL: Do you ever feel that the graphic nature of your shows limits your audience?

Jag 13: We have had shows cancelled due to people finding out about our shows and in turn not wanting anything to do with it. At this point I have become so used to that type of thing that it doesn’t bother me. If they don’t want us, they don’t want us. We have a pretty good booking agent who lets all the places know what type of show we put on. Some of the show we have done in the past we just showed up and started going at it. (Laughs) That tended not to work out real well for any one.

AL: With your drumming being laid up with an injury does that end the year for you or do you still have things plans?

Jag 13: We don’t have anything planned until October then after that we don’t anything planned until spring time of next year. We have some bids in on tours that we think will work well for us here in the states so we have our fingers crossed.

For more info on Eat The Turnbuckle be sure to check out the bands official website at www.facebook.com/eattheturnbuckle

CD Review: Revocation “Great Is Our Sin”

“Great Is Our Sin”
Metal Blade Records
Producer: Zeuss

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“Great Is Our Sin” is the 6th studio album released by the Boston, MA metal band Revocation. This is the bands second release via Metal Blade records and it features 10 new tracks which were produced by the one and only Zuess. “Great Is Our Sin” is also the first album from the band to feature 3 Inches of Blood drummer Ash Pearson who joined the band in 2015.

If you thought you loved Revocation before, you know nothing until you hear this album. The band is on top of their A game in every sense. Standout tracks include, “Arbiters of the Apocalypse”, “Monolithic Ignorance”, “Communion”, and the more melodic “Cleaving Giants of Ice.” As if there wasn’t enough mind-blowing guitar work, the album even features legendary guitarist Marty Friedman guest shredding on “The Exaltation.” The album also brings back producer Zeuss who previously worked with the band on the “Teratogenesis” EP and their last release, 2014’s “Deathless”.

Long time fans won’t be too surprised by the album’s content, but improvements in songwriting and production can still be heard. Newcomers should absolutely check out this album as it has everything. From thick riffs and blistering guitar solos to lightning fast precise drumming which is topped off by front man Dave Davidson’s signature growls. If you had any concerns about original drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne being replaced, do not fret (pun intended), Ash Pearson is a perfect fit for the band as his style further extenuates what Revocation is presenting with this new album. Revocation never disappoint as they seems to only get more fine-tuned (pun also intended) with each release. “Great Is Our Sin” is a staple in Revocation’s catalog and a must listen for any metal head.

Track Listing:
1) Arbiters of the Apocalypse
2) Theatre of Horror
3) Monolithic Ignorance
4) Crumbling Imperium
5) Communion
6) The Exaltation
7) Profanum Vulgus
8) Copernican Heresy
9) Only the Spineless Survive
10) Cleaving Giants of Ice

Be sure to also checkout our exclusive interview with Vocalist/Guitarist Dave Davidson in the interview section of the site.

Revocation’s Dave Davidson talks about “Great Is Our Sin”

Dave Davidson is the guitarist/vocalist for the Boston based death metal band Revocation. The group just released their 6th studio album titled “Great Is Our Sin” via Metal Blade Records and is currently out on the road in support of that release with the Summer Slaughter tour. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Dave recently about the new album, the bands new drummer and the group’s plans for the rest of 2016.

RA: The new album “Great Is Our Sin” is absolutely mind-blowing. How was the writing process different on this album versus previous ones?

DD: To be honest, it wasn’t really that different from what we have done on previous albums. It’s usually the same process every time. We just get better at refining and honing our ideas. For me it always starts with the riffs. I will come up with a series of riffs while we’re in a period of writing. The writing period between albums could start the very next day we’re done recording the whole record. I don’t wait around a month before we’re supposed to go in the studio to start writing things. When the inspiration hits me I record it. That way I have a stockpile of material to pull from when I’m organizing my ideas for the next record. Once I have a bunch of riffs set up from there I’ll go through them and start organizing different sections in my head. That’s the way it’s always been. It starts with this germ of an idea, and then it spreads and multiplies from there. We’ve never been afraid to experiment and I think that experimenting over the years has helped us realize what we want our sound to be.

RA: Do you do any writing while you’re touring?

DD: Sometimes. The verse riff for “Communion” came to me while we were in sound check in Hungary and Ash was filling in for us on that tour. I just started playing something and Ash played a thrash beat along with it. Later on that day we recorded it. Inspiration can hit me whenever.

RA: What has the transition been like for the band now having Ash Pearson on drums?

DD: We have known Ash for awhile and have toured with him in the past so we knew going in what he was capable of. I think that has made things a bit easier for us. The thing that was most different is he lives in Vancouver so we when we get together to practice and work on material we have to make sure to make the most out of that time together. What was happening was Ash would fly out when we were doing weekend warrior touring in Boston and New York so we would work on the set and some new material to get a head start. We would be going back and forth with a number of ideas and Ash would record all of that stuff. He travels with a Go-Pro so he’d set that up and film me playing riffs or him playing along to me playing. Then we could go back and refine things from there. Even though we didn’t have the luxury of getting together multiple times a week, I think it made us more focused because we really had to buckle down to make sure we got everything. We would also do Skype sessions back and forth. He would be in Vancouver, I’d be in Boston and I would play him a riff over the computer and he’d have his practice pad out and we’d talk about riffs that way. Luckily he’s such a great drummer who really understands the ins and outs of rhythm so I could give him feedback. He was able to pick up on all the little cues and the feeling of the music which I thought was kind of cool.

RA: How was it working Marty Friedman again?

DD: It was great. It was my second time working with him, having worked on his previous record Inferno. I definitely knew then that I wanted to have him on our record. It really blew me away. It’s weird having one of your idols that you grew up listening to be on one of your records.

RA: What type of gear setup did you use this time around for recording?

DD: I’m using my Jackson signature series guitar which has my DiMarzio signature pickups in it. I feel like it really has my sound. Zeus does a great job with the mixing and mastering and he knows the sounds that we’re looking for. The guitar tone on this album I think is my favorite tone we’ve had so far. It sounds really organic, but also razor sharp and super clean.

RA: What’s the band’s upcoming tour plans for the album?

DD: We’re out on Summer Slaughter with Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Suffocation, and some other great death metal bands right now. After that we have a little downtime before our next tour in Europe with Obscura. I think we’re all sharing a bunk together, so it’ll be like the music nerd bandwagon rolling into town every city. I can’t talk about it too much, but after that we’re planning on doing a headliner or co-headliner when we get back to the states.

RA: You guys have recorded a few covers songs in the past. Has there been any talks of possibly doing and entire EP of cover material?

DD: We actually have talked about that before. We have about six cover songs that we’ve done for records. At this point it would be cool to have each member pick a different cover we could do. It’s just a matter of timing and scheduling. We also have to see what the demand for that kind of thing is. We would also have to have two different labels work together to make that happen as some of cover songs were on Relapse and some released on Metal Blade. There are no concrete plans right now, but it would be cool.

Be sure to checkout our album review of “Great Is Our Sin” in the review section of the site.

Guitarist Paul Gilbert talks about Great Guitar Escape 3.0

Paul Gilbert is probably best known as the guitarist/co-founder of the rock group Mr. Big a band who dominated the airwaves in 1991 with their acoustic ballad “To Be With You”. After the group broke up in 1996 Gilbert embarked on a solo career while also performing in numerous other side projects and groups. Paul recently announced the 3rd installment of his “Great Guitar Escape” which is set for late July. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Paul recently about the upcoming event and what those who attend can expect.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the recently announced Great Guitar Escape 3.0?

Paul Gilbert: It’s the most fantastic, inspirational and unforgettable guitar event of all time! There will be concerts every night, Seminars every day and lots of opportunities to jam. It’s just going to be great mix of good food, the California coast, and great times with people who love the guitar.

AL: With this being the camps 3rd yr are there things you have planned which weren’t possible during the camps previous 2 sessions?

PG: The first two Great Guitar Escapes were both really great, so I don’t want to make any drastic changes. The biggest difference would be the location. The Cambria Pines Lodge is about halfway between L.A. and San Francisco, so it’s an easy drive for people who live in California. But for the last two camps, I had people fly in from South America and Russia, so I know that nothing will hold back guitar players who really want to rock.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit about this year’s guest counselors and how you went

PG: Andy Timmons and Bruce Bouillet are both incredible guitarists that I’ve spent a lot of time with. Bruce and I played together in the band, Racer X, and Bruce toured in my band when I did Joe Satriani’s G3 tour. He’s a monster player, and a great teacher. Andy is an Ibanez endorser like me, so we’ve played together at a lot of Ibanez events, and of course, Andy was at my last Great Guitar Escape camp. He’s one of my favorite guys in the world to jam with. He’s somehow intimidating and generous at the same time. I’ve met Kiko Loureiro several times over the years, and he’s always been super cool. He can play a lot of different styles, but I’m happy that he’s getting a taste of big gigs with Megadeth. Dave Ellefson, who plays bass with Megadeth, is from my generation of musicians, so he’ll have a head start on the songs that I’ll be playing in the jams. And Bumblefoot has a reputation for being creative and surprising… and still rocking hard, so I’m excited to finally get to jam with him.

AL: Is this camp designed for all level of players or is it geared more towards advanced players?

PG: The GGE is good for anyone who wants to get motivated. You can sit back and enjoy the concerts and seminars, or you can plug in and join the jams. We’re all there, in person, so I like to be flexible enough to work with anything that people are interested in. Also, my idea of “advanced” has really changed over the years. To me, an advanced musician is not necessarily somebody who can play fast or complicated, but just a person who can sound really good. I could talk about this sort of thing for the next 10 hours, so I’d better save it for the camp!

AL: As we start to see more and more interactive camps taking place how do you go about keeping things fresh and making your camp stand out above others?

PG: There are some musicians who are best known for what they do visually. They’ve got the best leather jacket, the most explosions in their stage production, or just an astounding number of consecutive good-hair days. I’ve got legendary musicians at my camp, but they are legendary for the way that they play. And they’re good people. No bodyguards or attitudes. Just a great time being immersed in music, and the guitar.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on outside of Guitar Escape 3.0?

PG: I’ve got a new solo album coming out soon called, “I Can Destroy.” Kevin Shirley produced it, and it turned out great. The opening track is called, “Everybody Use Your Goddamn Turn Signal,” and I think I might actually save a few lives, if people heed the message of this song. I’m also nearing my fourth year with my online rock guitar school for Artistworks. I’ve recorded nearly 4000 Video Exchange lessons, and I’m still having a great time, so I’m going to keep going. And later this year, I’ll be going on tour with my solo band to play my new songs, and my favorite songs from my previous albums. Life continues to rock!

For more info on Paul’s Great Guitar Escape 3.0 you can visit http://greatguitarescape.com

The Rods’ Dave “Rock” Feinstein and Carl Canedy talks about new song “Great Big Fake Ones”

Media Mikes had the great pleasure recently to speak to not one but two legendary heavy metal musicians. Dave “Rock” Feinstein and Carl Canedy make up 2/3rds of the band The Rods a band which has been carrying the flag for heavy metal and hard rock since the late 1970’s. Both members have new solo albums out along with a newly released Rods single titled “Great Big Fake Ones” and we spoke with the guys recently about these new releases and their plans for the coming year.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the decision to re-issue “Heavier Than Thou” and
Dave “Rock” Feinstein: “Heavier than Thou”, and the “Hollywood” albums have been albums that wanted by the fans for a long time.  We felt that now was a good time to re-issue them.  They are both slightly different than a traditional RODS album, so I think that’s what makes them so interesting to the fans.
Carl Canedy: We’ve been in the process of re-issuing a lot of our back catalog that we own the rights to. These two CD’s in particular were something the fans had not had a chance own in a re-issued, re-mastered format. Fans have been emailing us for years asking when they’d be available. So like Dave said it simply was time.

AL:  What can you tell us about the newly recorded Rods track “Great Big Fake Ones”?
DF: There are many words that have been used to describe the song, but when Carl brought the song in, the three of us just felt that it was so funny, and just different enough to make the fans want to hear it.  You have to take it for what it is.  It’s not a traditional RODS song, but it is a very catchy tune that should make you laugh.
CC: The guys have been really cool about doing a song this since I initially brought it to them. It’s clearly a “one-off” type of song. The fans who’ve heard love it. I think as long as you realize it’s “tongue-in-cheek” you can enjoy it for what it is. Personally I love it and think it’s quite amusing. I gave it to the guys and when it came time to record it was done quickly. Rock and Garry really nailed the vocals.

AL: You both recently released new solo albums. Can you tell us about those and some of the guests who appear on the albums?
DF:  “Clash of Armor” is my forth solo release now and was done mostly by myself and Nate Horton. On my previous releases I have had quite a few guest performers. In the past guys like John West, Michael Butler, Jeff Howell and Matt Barnes have all come in to help me on various tracks as has Nate. On the song “Bitten By the Beast” from my 3rd solo release I had Carl and Garry come in. I played guitar and Ronnie James Dio did the vocals.
CC: On my CD, I have John Hahn, a Leviathan artist who is a Mike Varney discovery. I’ve known John for quite a few years as I played on his first solo CD in the “90’s. Mark Tornillo has 3 vocals, Joe Comeau has 2 vocals and David Porter has 2 vocals. Chris Caffery came in and did some soloing on 2 tracks as well as several other artists who graciously brought their talent to this project.

AL: With a career spanning multiple decades what do you find these days to be the most rewarding part of being a musician?
DF: It’s rewarding to still be able to create new music.  Of course playing live is the ultimate rush, and to know that there are still fans around the world checking out our music and wanting more.

AL: Are there any plans to perform this new material live and what type of
plans do The Rods have in place for 2015?
DF: I think I can speak for the three of us that we love to perform live, and if a song of ours merits being performed live, then we will do so.  Right now for us we take every request to perform seriously, and try to do as much as we can to make these live appearances happen, For us and for the fans as well.
CC: We do have a few dates in the works that are not yet confirmed and we have confirmed the Defenders of Old Festival in March with Exciter. We’re excited about this show as it’s the first time in years we’ve been to the NY area. Also, I love the band and the guys in Exciter so I’m looking forward to the reunion.

Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth talks about debut album “The Great and Secret Show” with Devilment

Dani Filth is best known as the founder and lead vocalist of the metal band Cradle of Filth. Filth’s newest musical endeavor goes by the name Devilment whose debut album title “The Great and Secret Show” will be released on October, 31st via Nuclear Blast Records. Media Mikes spoke recently with Dani about the new release, working with Bam Margera and the group’s upcoming tour with Motionless in White.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the formation of “Devilment”?
Dani Filth: A couple of years ago I met up with Daniel Finch and he asked me if I would be interested in working on a project with him. Over the course of those years the project has sort of grown and grown and flourished into a full blown band. All the members of the band live in pretty close proximity of one another and we are now set to release our first album. Scott Atkins who worked on the last Cradle of Filth album jumped on board helping with the recording process and we have been picked up by Nuclear Blast Records. Paul Ryan who was the original guitarist for Cradle of Filth is our manager/booking agent. He also is booking for Cradle of Filth now as well. We are keeping a lot of things in house with this project.

AL: What is it that you want to accomplish with this new album/band?
DF: It’s vastly different than Cradle of Filth. It’s a totally different entity in that’s its completely original. Each of the band members has their own unique perspective on metal and music in general. Our keyboardist Lauren doesn’t come from a metal background at all though she has come to appreciate it. Six of us have come together to create this unique thing. It is more riff driven and somewhat in the vein of Rammstein or White Zombie. The songs have more of a heavy groove to them. Lauren has brought this John Carpenter type vibe to the whole thing which is really great. The music is definitely in the realm of horror.

AL: With the music being different from your work with Cradle of Filth did you take a different creative path during the writing/recording process?
DF: Not overly. Cradle does a lot of stuff via the internet and then we all get together when needed for touring and such. With Devilment everyone lives locally unlike Cradle where members are literally spread across the world. Having everyone so close has made the experience different, as has writing in a lower key. Though I still write the same way as I always have I do approach the Devilment material a bit differently. I am a little more contemporary with the choruses and such. I don’t like to say it but the material has almost a pop sensibility.

AL: For the digi-pack release of the album you recorded a cover of Midnight Oil’s “Beds are Burning” can you tell us about that and, how Bam Margera ended up also on the track?
DF: That song comes wasn’t meant to be included on the 10 track version of the album. This song will be included on the special version along with two other songs. It sounds a little odd just because of the nature of the song. The original is a fucking awesome song and just very catchy. We have made it a bit heavier and added some keys to it as well. It has this “Exorcist”/”Tubular Bells” vibe to it. I chose Bam to sing on it because he actually owed me a favor. I sang at his wedding in Iceland last year so I thought I would return the favor. He went in to the studio with a producer in Philadelphia and his parts sound really great. The song has these kind of call and response portions to it. Bam sounds a lot like Pete Steele. It’s a very interesting and powerful track.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming video for the song “Even Your Blood Group Rejects Me”?
DF: The video is black and white with a splash of red every now and then. We worked with a photographer/video director named Scott Hunter. The video has a very cool fashion shoot vibe to it. It looks very contemporary and fresh. There is a lot of performance based elements that look really great. The way everything came together makes it one of those videos you have to watch a couple times just to be able to see everything.

AL: What type of tour plans do you have in place thus far?
DF: Cradle of Filth is heading out on the road prior to heading in to the studio in December. We will be in Russia for about a month then I have a few days off before hitting the road with Devilment. We will be out supporting Motionless in White and Lacuna Coil. That’s going to be a fresh experience for me being that we are not the headlining act. It’s going to be a big tour. This is Motionless in Whites first time in Europe.

AL: You just did a track with Motionless in White for their new album correct?
DF: Yes. That was actually unrelated and happened prior to the tour being announced. I suppose it garnered some favor. The song is called “Puppets 3” and it’s quite brutal. I was quite surprised because I knew of Motionless however I hadn’t really heard them. When I heard the track I thought it was a cross between early Cradle and At the Gates.

AL: Do you find it hard balancing your two groups due to them being quite different from one another?
DF: At the moment yes. The time factor has made things a bit tricky as we will be heading to Russia with Cradle, then I go out with Devilment and then come back to work with Cradle in the studio. There’s a lot of hard work ahead. Nuclear Blast has done a great job keeping me busy with press for Devilment it’s really great. It’s a bit hectic but it’s better than sitting around being bored.

Blu-ray Review “Great Expectations (2012)”

Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane
Directors: Mike Newell
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: April 15, 2014
Run Time: 128 minutes

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

I feel like it is every year or two we get a new adaption of the Charles Dickens’ classic novel, “Great Expectations”. This latest one is from the director of “Four Weddings And A Funeral”, Mike Newell and packs a lot cast including Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter in roles they were born to play. They seem almost effortless for them yet so well executed. I also quite enjoyed the 2011 BBC miniseries starring Gillian Anderson and Ray Winstone. This film adaption managed to still do the job and in much less time. I have no idea what took this film over a year to get released finally but glad it did. Dickens’ fans should give it a look for sure.

Official Premise: Young orphan Pip finds his life changed forever soon after encountering and lending assistance to escaped convict Magwitch (Fiennes) on the marshlands near his home. Later, after being summoned to attend the stately home of Miss Havisham (Carter) and finding himself mesmerised by the old lady’s beautiful but cold-hearted niece, Estella (Helena Barlow/Holliday Grainger), Pip learns that he has been granted an inheritance by a mysterious benefactor. After moving to London to be educated as a gentleman under the guardianship of lawyer Mr. Jaggers (Coltrane), a now adult Pip (Irvine), believing he now has the necessary social standing, sets about convincing Estella that he is worthy of her love.

20th Century Fox delivers us this film with a combo pack including a Blu-ray and Ultraviolet Digital Copy. The costumes in this film are outstanding and the sets are equally amazing. Everything really pops off the screen and is quite colorful making this look very stunning within its 1080p transfer. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also works very well with the film’s haunting score. In terms of special features though, there is not much content here. There is an extra taken from the film’s premiere and a trailer included. Would have loved to see a commentary track here from the talent or at least the director.

Blu-ray Review “Muppet Treasure Island & The Great Muppet Caper: Of Pirates & Pigs Collection”

Starring: Steve Whitmire, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Tim Curry, Jim Henson
Directors: Brian Henson, Jim Henson
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
Run Time: 147 minutes

Muppet Treasure Island: 3 out of 5 stars
The Great Muppet Caper: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Since Disney took over “The Muppets”, they have been doing great things for this group of puppets. “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981) and “Muppet Treasure Island” (1996) are making their Blu-ray debut this holiday season on a 2-Movie BD/DVD Collection. “The Great Muppet Caper” is the second Muppet film and one of my favorites growing up. Still fun to watch after all these years. Muppet Treasure Island” is a fun musical version of the classic tale from Robert Louis Stevenson. It isn’t perfect but who doesn’t love Tim Curry singing? So this collection is a must for any Muppet fan. In fact, these two were the last Muppet films not released on Blu-ray, so I am wondering if Disney will be reissuing “The Muppets Take Manhattan” and “Muppets from Space” next under the their label both of which were releasing on Blu-ray by Sony back in 2011. Either way fans have plenty more to come with the eighth film, “Muppets Most Wanted”, which will be released on March 21, 2014.

Official Synopsis: A treasure trove of hearty laughs is yours when two of the funniest, most action-packed Muppet movies of all time make their Disney Blu-ray debut in this heartwarming 2-Movie Collection. From the special star-studded lunacy in Muppet Treasure Island to the jewel-heist hilarity of The Great Muppet Caper, these two classic comedy-adventures are packed with music, mirth, mayhem and, of course, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, Fozzie, Gonzo and all your Muppet favorites. Loaded with unforgettable music and sparkling special effects, this restored and remastered collection is a 2-movie treasure you won’t want to miss.

Disney has done a wonderful job of delivering this film to Blu-ray with stellar 1080p transfers. Even though “The Great Muppet Caper” is over 30 years it still looks quite amazing. Same goes wiht the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks, which work very well with the music in the films. In terms of special features, this release include a few decent features. There are three “Frog-e-oke Sign-Alongs” for the songs “Cabin Fever” from “Muppet Treasure Island” and from “The Great Muppet Caper” their is “Steppin’ Out With A Star” and “Happiness Hotel”. “The Tale of The Story Beyond the Tail” is a fun behind the scenes look with the Muppets on the making of “Muppet Treasure Island”. There is a fun music video “Let the Good Shine Out”. Lastly there is a super funny and very interesting audio commentary track with Gonzo, Rizzo and Brian Henson.

David McCallum talks about the 50th Anniversary of “The Great Escape”

Today actor David McCallum is probably best known for his role as Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the long running television series “NCIS.”  If you’re my age you probably remember him best as the smooth secret agent Illya Kuryakin from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  As someone who had, in the 3rd grade, been scolded often by teachers for continually saying “Open Channel D” into his ink pen, it was a great day when I had the chance to speak with Mr. McCallum about the 50th Anniversary of one of the most popular movies of the 1960s, “The Great Escape.”

To help celebrate this event, Mr. McCallum will be appearing at a benefit screening of the film this coming weekend, November 9, in Omaha, Nebraska as part of Bruce Crawford’s on-going classic film salute.  For information on the event head over to http://www.omahafilmevent.com/upcoming.htm

Recently Mr. McCallum took some time to talk to me about “The Great Escape,” why he enjoys voicing video-games and another upcoming 50th Anniversary he looks forward to celebrating.

Mike Smith:  First off, a belated “Happy Birthday!” (Mr. McCallum turned an incredible 80 years old this past September 19).
David McCallum:  (laughs) Thank you.

MS:  How did you get involved with “The Great Escape?”
DM:  Way back then I had an agent in England by the name of Derrick Marr.  I hadn’t been with him long.  I had been doing an awful lot of television…live television, and working in the theater.  He called me and said that I’d gotten a request to meet with the casting director of the film.

MS:  At the time it was probably the biggest film production you’d been involved with.  As a young actor what were your thoughts when you realized you would be working with such international stars as Steve McQueen and James Garner?  Was it overwhelming?
DM:  Well, thankfully, life has never been able to overwhelm me.  I tend to enjoy and take great pleasure in all of the work that I do.  And back then it was no different.  When you’ve decided that your whole life is going to be as an actor, when you get opportunities to do a wonderful thing, like “The Great Escape,” it’s just a colossal pleasure that you look forward to with great anticipation.  And then you start preparing, of course.  You have to learn all about the character…all of the things necessary.  It’s not about just turning up and saying the words.  And the whole thing was such a beautiful experience.  I knew Donald Pleasence.  We had been very good friends for some time.  And you can imagine how it was for the young actors.  Being able to work with all of those people.  I’m not usually star-struck.  I’m fascinated by the number of people I’ve met working in this profession over the years.  That film was a great beginning.

MS:  Both of your parents were very well known and classically trained musicians (his father, David Sr, was the first violinist for the London Philharmonic – his mother, Dorothy, was a cellist).  Were you ever encouraged to make music your profession?
DM:  My father was a professional musician, my mother, who was a cellist, gave it up early to take care of my father.  I played the Oboe from about the age of eight or nine.  I went to the Royal Academy of Music for a short while but then I gave the whole thing up to go on the stage.

MS:  You’ve done a lot of voice work in video games.  Does that take a different kind of preparation as an actor?
DM:  The best thing about that kind of media is that you get to over-act outrageously.  To me that’s the greatest pleasure.

MS:  “NCIS” isn’t your first hit television show.  What, in your opinion, is the biggest difference in working in television between “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and now?
DM:  I think the ability to record sound and the size of the camera and the fact that it’s now digital and not film.  Other than that nothing’s changed.

MS:  Final question, and I understand if you can’t answer it:  next year marks the 50th Anniversary of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  Do you have any involvement in the upcoming “U.N.C.L.E.” film?
DM:  No, right now I have nothing to do with that.  It’s a whole new venture.  But now that you tell me it’s the 50th Anniversary next year I’ll have to set aside a nice bottle of wine and open it.  Maybe I’ll save it until the movie comes out.


Mr. Ritchie:

I hope by the time you read this you will have contacted both Mr. McCallum and Robert Vaughn and found a place for them in your film.  Both men are in great health and acting today.  I don’t care if you have them walk past Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in the hallway, you must recognize them.  It is their chemistry that made “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  the show it was.  As Leo G. Carroll has passed away more than 40 years ago I will not lobby for his appearance!

Blu-ray Review “The Great Gatsby”

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher
Directors: Baz Luhrmann
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Run Time: 142 minutes

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

When I read that Baz Luhrmann was making an adaption of “The Great Gatsby” I had to do a double take. This is the same guy who made the strikenly visual and over-the-top films like “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!”.  I couldn’t wait to see what he will do with his retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel.  I have to admit, I was very impressed.  The film does scream Baz Luhrmann, which for me is a good thing. Everyone on this film including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton look like they are having such a blast with this film and deliver a great ensemble. “The Great Gatsby” is a fun, visual trip with great music and equally impressive performances from the film’s cast.

Official Premise: The Great Gatsby follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin Daisy and her philandering, blue-blooded husband Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

Warner Bros delivered this release as combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD and Ultraviolet digital copy. The film’s 1080p transfer really works well with the films from very dazzling visual effects and Baz’s vision for this period.  The colors stand out and the details are very sharp. The film was originally released in 3D and I have heard that that presentation is the preferred way to view this but the 2D version is still fun, though you can see very clearly where the extra dimension would have stood out.  Since music is a big part of this film, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers as well. Craig Armstrong’s score is amazing and blends well with the film’s different yet very effective hip hop soundtrack.

The special features are good like the film but I would have loved to see a commentary track, especially with all this great talent included. “The Greatness of Gatsby” features director Baz Luhrmann and cast discussing bringing Fitzgerald novel to the big screen during pre-production. “Within and Without” features Tobey Maguire with his take on the production. Gatsby Revealed” goes in-depth of five key scenes from the film including “Gatsby’s Party,” “Disconcerting Ride,” “Daisy and Gatsby Meet,” “The Plaza” and “Pool Scene”.

“The Swinging Sounds of Gatsby” is a great extra featuring Jay-Z, Beyonce, Fergie, will.i.am, Lana del Rey, Bryan Ferry, Florence + the Machine, Andre 3000, The XX, Sia, Gotye and others talking about the soundtrack. “The Jazz Age” touches on the other side of the music in the film with the Jazz angle from the ’20s. “Razzle Dazzle” looks into the costume design. “Fitzgerald’s Visual Poetry” talk about the visual aspect of the film. There are three deleted scenes and an alternate ending with Luhrmann intros. Lastly there is a vintage “1926 Trailer – The Great Gatsby”, silent film trailer.

The Great Gatsby is available on Blu-Ray 8/27/2013 at the WB Shop http://bit.ly/GatsbyWB

Blu-ray Review “Great White Shark – A Living Legend”

Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Run Time: 50 minutes

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

Anything related to shark, count me in.  With Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” right around the corner, “Great White Shark – A Living Legend” arrives at the perfect time. This episode was originally filmed for “Natural World” on BBC. If you can’t get that from the cover art we get to go up close and personal one of our most feared predators in our oceans. I mean who doesn’t love shark.  I am absolutely fascinated and eat up anything I can get on these amazing creatures. My main concern is that this only runs 50-minutes but it is entertaining and there is a bit of knowledge shared here but nothing out of this world.  If would recommend this for hardcore shark fan. Come on in the water!

Official Premise: Get up close and personal with one of the most vicious predators of our oceans, the Great White Shark! We think of great whites as fearsome aquatic killers, but do we know them as well as we think? In this presentation from BBC’s acclaimed Natural History Unit, Mike Rutzen, the world’s foremost great white shark diver, follows great whites as they feed, at proximity never before achieved. Mike’s unique ability to communicate with them using his body language allows him to swim amongst them unscathed. Mike explores why occasionally attack people. He also challenges the view that their feeding is unstructured and frenzied, to prove instead that they obey the subtle rules of a complex form of social hierarchy.

Even though it is short, BBC still delivered a very nice Blu-ray presentation for “Great White Shark: A Living Legend”. The episode looks amazing with its 1080p high definition in 1.78.1 widescreen.  The colors are sharp and the detail is very impressive. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also quite great. Since there is no action in this film, the score and music still delivers  a great surround experience and takes advantage of this track. In the special features department, there is only one extras included, called “Smart Sharks: Swimming With Roboshark”. This 50-minute documentary is narrated by David Attenborough and looks into the life sized mechanical shark designed by Andrew Sneath. This as a good companion to “Great White Shark – A Living Legend”.

World Champion Magician, Lance Burton talks about his work on “Oz The Great and Powerful”

Lance Burton is one of the greatest stage Magicians of the past century. He has starred in numerous TV specials including “Lance Burton Magic Magician: The Legend Begins”, which aired in 1996 on NBC. His show “Lance Burton Master Magician” opened at the brand new Monte Carlo Hotel in the Lance Burton Theatre also in ’96. He has also performed over 15,000 shows throughout his 30-year career in Las Vegas. Today Lance Burton is happily retired and is currently working on a number of documentary and narrative film projects. Lance was also Magic Advisor on Disney’s “Oz The Great and Powerful” and taught magic to James Franco on the film. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Lance about his role on the film.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how did you get involved with the production “Oz the Great and Powerful”?
Lance Burton: I got a call from Grant Curtis, one of the producers on “Oz”, a few years ago and he explained that they were doing. He told me about this character, which was a stage magician and they were looking for someone to help with the magic. So I asked for the script to see what they were talking about. I read it and I just fell in love with the project. I thought it was just fantastic. I flew out to Michigan where they had the operation setup and I met with Grant and Sam Raimi. Sam explain his concept of the film to me and introduced me to all the people involved with the film. From there we just went to work.

MG: How was it working with James Franco and teaching him some tricks?
LB: I met with James for a day or so and worked with him on a couple of slide of hand tricks, a couple of months out and I gave him some homework to do. Then we all moved out to Michigan. The good thing was that we had about two weeks before filming started to practice every day. So we had a regular rehearsal schedule to work on the magic that was going to be throughout the film. So since we had a couple of weeks before filming started, that became very valuable time. James didn’t have any prior education with magic but he is a fantastic actor and that is about 90% of the battle. Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic, has said that his classic definition of a magician is “an actor playing the part of a magician”. Sam wanted the magic to be authentic and he wanted James to play the role as a magician. Sam wanted to me to work with him on the way that he carries himself, as well as the magic. The flare of a magician, both on-stage and off-stage. So I worked with him on little flourishes that he can incorporate into different scenes. When I was on-set, I was able to chime in and throw out ideas during shoot, which was great.

MG: For you being the one always having performed the magic; how was it being on the other side of it?
LB: It is a completely different type of satisfaction. When you go out and do a show, whether it is live or a TV show, you do a good job and you feel good. In this case, I wasn’t the one performing it. But again when I saw the finished product, I felt very proud. I felt lucky to be able to contribute to this sure-to-be instant classic, “Oz The Great and Powerful”. It is almost like a pride that a parent feels about a child.

MG: How long would you say you worked on the film?
LB: We had a fun time. It was two weeks in preparation and then I was on the set for about a month during filming. I was there for the scenes in Kansas and then a little bit of when they get to Oz.

MG: What was your most memorable experience from your work on the film?
LB: I will tell you one thing to look for in the film, which was one of my most proudest moments. I had been teaching James how to twirl a cane between his fingers like a baton. I was thinking that this would be something usable that we can work into the film. The first time that he goes into Emerald City, goes into the throne room and sits on the throne, he picks up this scepter. In the script, it says Evanora is sitting there and is enraged. I thought “Ah, what if he twirled that scepter between his fingers?” I thought it would be very disrespectful and could help help get her enraged. So I went to the prop department to see the scepter. I asked them if there was anyway to make it a little longer and they said “Sure”. I talked it over with James and Sam and everyone seemed to like the idea. I wasn’t on the set when they filmed that scene but when I saw the film in theaters. I was very excited to see that twirl in the film.

MG: After this experience, do you see yourself taking on this role again?
LB: It was a very satisfying experience and it was very interesting work. “Oz” was such a huge hit. My prediction is that there is going to be a whole franchise.  So who knows what the future holds.

Blu-ray Review “Oz The Great and Powerful”

Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Abigail Spencer, Joey King
Director: Sam Raimi
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Run Time: 130 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

After the success of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”, we knew that more films like this weren’t far behind. When I heard Sam Raimi was directing this I also was a little hesitant since I wasn’t thrilled at all with what he did with the “Spider-Man” franchise, especially with all that money. But once I saw the first posters and trailers, I was really drawn in. I felt like they might have actually gotten it right. Well let’s say that I enjoyed the film…wasn’t in love with it but there were parts that I liked. The film is a visual thing of beauty but really falls into the category of looking too fake. When you watch “Avatar” you believe that they are really there but this felt like a giant green screen shoot. You are still able to enjoy the film and it’s many references back to the original “The Wizard of Oz” story, but it just didn’t pack any magic to my viewing. I am on board for the inevitable sequel just hope they make some needed changes.

One of the main things, I had a problem with was the believability of these actors in there respective roles. James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz have all either won or been nominated for Oscars and numerous other awards. Sorry Mila Kunis, “Family Guy” is only a TV show. So I found it a little hard to watch these “great” actors in these less than great roles. Also speaking of Mila Kunis, she doesn’t really have a good angry voice. So when she screamed it just felt like Meg from “Family Guy” screaming at Peter, not very effective. So I was never able to really get behind their roles, I thought it was quite miscast for sure.

Official Premise: Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great And Powerful, from the director of the Spider-Man trilogy, follows Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot — until he meets three witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams), who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity — and even some wizardry — Oscar transforms himself into the great wizard and a better man as well.

Obviously, this film was meant to be seen in 3D, read out review of the 3D Blu-ray here. Disney decided to split this film releases and decided not to include a 3D Blu-ray in this combo pack.  I have to say the film still works (sort of) without being in 3D but missing that pop for me that drew me into the world that they created. The 1080p transfer still is quite impressive and like on the 3D Blu-ray, the colors are extremely vibrant, especially with the switch from black and white to color after the opening 20 minutes. I enjoyed this much more in the 3D version of the film since it packed that extra depth. Disney delivered a very sharp DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and the sound is quite amazing from the twister swinging through Kansas to the flying monkeys flying past your head. I have to also give props to Danny Elfman’s amazing score as well!

This Blu-ray release includes a two-disc set with a Blu-ray and a DVD disc.  There is also a digital copy that you can now redeem with Disney Movie Rewards and will be able to view the film online via your tablets, smartphones, TV etc. This release is also the only way to get special features for this film.  They start off with “The Magic of Oz the Great and Powerful: Second Screen Experience”, which is a great way to get immersived in the world of Oz by using the app on your iPads. “The Enchanting Characters and Creatures of Oz” showcases everyone from Munchkins to flying baboons. “The Sounds of Magical Oz” looks into the film’s sound design. “Sleight of Hand: Zach Braff Puppet Theater” looks into Zach Braff voice over work. There is also a music video from Mariah Carey’s “Almost Home”.

“China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief” looks into the life behind China Girl and how went from paper to the screen. “Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz” takes a stroll into the visual effects world with Production designer Robert Stromberg. “Mila’s Metamorphosis” looks into how the actress was transformed into her green self with lead makeup artist Howard Berger. “Walt Disney and the Road to Oz” looks into Walt Disney fascination with the Land of Oz and the classic Baum books. “Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions” is an interview with composer Danny Elfman. “My Journey in Oz by James Franco” is a feature with Franco discussing this role and his inside story. Lastly there are Bloopers included.