Blu-ray Review “La La Land”

Actors: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie Dewitt, Finn Wittrock
Directors: Damien Chazelle
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Run Time: 128 minutes

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

I was highly anticipating “La La Land”. I told myself I wasn’t going to hear a note of the music before seeing the film. Funnily enough after my first viewing, I felt really let down. Afterwards, I spent time listening to the soundtrack and since have fallen absolutely in love with the music and the film itself becoming one of my favorites from 2016. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are/and also sound amazing. I love them singing and I love them together. A must see for sure!

Official Premise: Winner of 6 Academy Awards® including Best Director for writer/director Damien Chazelle, and winner of a record-breaking 7 Golden Globe® Awards, LA LA LAND is more than the most acclaimed movie of the year – it’s a cinematic treasure for the ages that you’ll fall in love with again and again. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star as Mia and Sebastian, an actress and a jazz musician pursuing their Hollywood dreams – and finding each other – in a vibrant celebration of hope, dreams, and love.

The 1080p transfer is gorgeous. I love the look and the way that this film was shot. I feel like it speaks true to Hollywood today. Since this is an musical, you would assume that the sound of this Blu-ray is very important. Well Lionsgate films does not disappoint. They have delivered us with an epic Dolby Atmos track as well as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1. So two great options way to enjoy this beautiful film and its beautiful songs!

The special features are solid. There are about over 10 featurettes focusing on all aspects of the production bringing nearly 80 minutes of content. There is an informative audio commentary with Writer/Director Damien Chazelle and Composer Justin Hurwitz. I love these two together on this track. “Damien and Justin Sing: The Demos” is a look at two demos for the track “What a Waste of a Lovely Night” and “City of Stars”. Lastly there is a gallery and trailers.

DVD Review “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Battle for the Book!”

Starring: Sean Ryan Fox, Madison Pettis, Jadon Sand, David Arquette, Corey Burton
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: January 6, 2015
Run Time: 141 minutes

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

Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” continues to impress time after time. The show is great and then a few years ago, they introduced Peter Pan into the mix, which made it cooler. Now they have mixed in classic characters like Wendy, Michael and John to complete circle in the all-new special “Battle for the Book!”. This is literally the best episode of the series since it has aired. It is funny, sharp and very entertaining. I am not sure how they are going to top this next time but I can’t wait to see what they have planned next for this show…oh and BTW my two year old loved it also 😉

Official Premise: When Wendy’s special Storybook is stolen by Captain Hook, Jake and his mates go to London to help Peter Pan’s friend (from the classic movie Peter Pan). The longer the book is out of Wendy’s hands, the more she and her brothers (John and Michael) forget about their past adventures on Never Land. The battle for the book continues in Never Land, where Hook plans to destroy the book and its stories in the legendary Ring of Blue Fire. It’s up to our young heroes to save Wendy’s Storybook and the Story of Peter Pan!

“Jake and the Never Land Pirates” includes the following voice cast: Sean Ryan Fox (“Life Tracker”, “East of Kensington”) as Jake, Madison Pettis (“Cory in the House”, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and 3”, “The Game Plan”) as Izzy, Jadon Sand (“Frozen”, “Wreck it Ralph”) as Cubby, David Arquette (“Scream” movies) as Skully, Jeff Bennett (“Tinker Bell” film series) as Mr. Smee, Bonesand Corey Burton (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars”) as Captain Hook.

If the hour-long season three finale of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” is not enough for you there is still much more packed into this DVD. In terms of special features we get ten “Jake’s Never Land Pirate School” shorts. The shorts are “Flying”, “Tick Tock Croc”, “B-B-Big Bugs!”, “Go Bucky!”, “Saving Captain Hook!”, “Mama knows Best!”, “Dancing with the Pirates”, “I’ve Got My Sword!”, “Hop-Hop-Hop!”, and “Look Out!”. These are great watchings for the for kiddies to enjoy. Also includes inside every DVD is an exclusive checker board bandanna with gold coins, which is not available anywhere else but this DVD release. So if you love “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”, this is a must own!

Book Review “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Winter Never Land”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Board book: 12 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Like their last board book, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Sailing the Never Sea”, this latest book from the hit Disney Junior series, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Winter Never Land” is shaped like a Christmas tree and is a great way to get into the holiday mood. Even though this book is coming out in September, I welcome the holiday season with open arms. The story is fun and this sums up another great addition in the “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” series.

Official Premise: This holiday board book is sure to get every pirate into the Christmas spirit! Never Land has become a Winter Wonderland! The night before Winter Treasure Day, Peter Pan leaves gifts and the Forever Green Tree on the beach for his favorite pirate crew. But before Jake, Izzy, and Cubby can celebrate together, Captain Hook steals the holiday treasures-even the tree! In their quest to reclaim their treasure, Jake and the crew realize that friendship is more valuable than any gift.


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Film Review “Land Ho!”

Starring: Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn
Directed by: Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 35 mins
Sony Pictures Classics

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Even with Iceland as the setting for this story, the new film “Land Ho!” is full of warmth. I really, really liked this movie. It harbors the true spirit of independent filmmaking, looking as if the directors just grabbed a camera, a sound person, flew to Iceland and had two extremely sweet and personable guys interact with each other. The actors and the landscape do all the work here, because when you examine the film you’ll find that there is almost no story whatsoever. And I was okay with that.

Colin (Eenhoorn) and Mitch (Nelson) are two former brothers-in-law, having once been married to a couple of sisters. Colin is an Australian while Mitch is an American hailing from Louisiana. Both are recently retired, and Colin is again recently divorced. On a whim, and as an escape for Colin, Mitch books them tickets to go to Iceland and travel around. And that’s all there is to it.

Mitch, a garrulous and big bear-of-a-man, was once a physician. The more reserved and shy Colin had, in another life, been a talented French horn player turned bank branch manager. Although their backstories have definitely molded them into the men they are today, their history doesn’t play too much into their present. The film is really a road movie at heart. We watch as Mitch and Colin travel to various tourist spots in Iceland and interact with other travelers, natives and, most importantly, each other. The two men seem to enjoy one another’s company, yet come across as complete opposites. It’s almost an Icelandic version of Neil Simon’s “Odd Couple,” though here both men are well-dressed and clean. It’s just Mitch’s vernacular that tends to be a bit dirty.

There are hints of the old versus the new in this story; but that theme doesn’t seem to be of too much importance. Mitch and Colin are of a different generation, but they discuss Facebook and aren’t neophytes when it comes to technology and change. “Land Ho!” is nothing more than a series of scenes or vignettes. There is no overall story. It’s just two men sharing an adventure together, letting loose and feeling free for what could possibly be the first time in a while.

Having never seen either of the two main actors in anything before I can’t tell you how their performances were in comparison to anything else. But I can tell you that they are very naturalistic. Very rarely did anything either one of them say come off as scripted or pre-planned. It all seemed spontaneous and real. Earl Lynn Nelson is likeable from the start. He knows who he is, and he owns any room he walks into; but not in a self-important way. Eenhoorn is a bit more relaxed and laidback, but still a tad shy. You don’t warm to him as fast as you do to Mitch, but within fifteen minutes you love both of these men and enjoy watching them wander around.

The Icelandic scenery is splendid to watch. If you filmed this movie in any other place, I honestly feel it would have lost its appeal. If this story was about two men driving around America and stopping off at the Grand Canyon, I don’t think I’d write such a glowing review. I just love the look of Iceland. The directing is minimal, and I mean that in a good way. The directors new that the landscapes of Iceland and the warmth of the characters would carry the story to where it needed to go. For what I presume was a relatively low-budget production I think it was beautifully shot; although there are a few shots that were straight out of film school and they come across as almost too artsy for this film.

Book Review “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Sailing the Never Sea”

Author: Marcy Kelman
Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Board book: 12 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: July 1, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”, our family can never get enough! AHOY!!! Thankfully Disney is keeping up with our appetite with great new releases. “Sailing the Never Sea” is the latest book, which is such fun for kids and adults and I also love the way it is shaped. It may be something so simple as a design that just makes a book so much more enjoyable and this a must have for all families.

Official Premise: It’s anchors away when that sneaky snook Captain Hook nabs Bucky’s brand new golden anchor. Jake and the crew will need some help from some finned friends to get the anchor back in a quest that takes them across the high seas.

Disney has really scored with this series and with each new book, there is just endless possibilities for this show to go. This book has become a must read for my two year old and has traveling from our car to her bedroom for nightly reading. We have actually even gotten to the point that our daughter is reading the words as we are saying it, that’s right two years old. I have to give credit to Disney for their constant supply of excellent books. Can’t wait to see what is next in the cards for this series!


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Book Review “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Cubby’s Mixed-Up Map”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: May 20, 2014

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Climb aboard, Me Hearties, and be a pirate true…Yo ho lets go!” I do not think there is a day that goes by that myself, my wife or my daughter sings the theme song to “”Jake and the Never Land Pirates”. This show and it’s music are tons of fun. This latest book “Cubby’s Mixed-Up Map” is another cute story for fans of the show.

Here is official premise for the book: Cubby and his mateys are on a hunt for the Golden Dinghy, but Captain Hook steals the map to reach the treasure first! With only his memory and a crayon, can map master Cubby re-draw the treasure map and beat Captain Hook to the Golden Dinghy?

This swashbuckling storybook following the adventures of Jake and his crew also includes two sheets of stickers for even more pirate fun. Right away after finishing this book, daddy had about five stickers all over his shirt, so this was a nice bonus for sure.


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Book Review “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Mama Hook Knows Best”

Author: Sharon Osbourne
Illustrator: Disney Storybook Art Team
Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: September 17, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

If you have young kids then you know about the marvel of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”. This show can stop my daughter dead in her tracks (and she is fast). “Mama Hook Knows Best” features the character of Captain’s Hook mother voiced by Sharon Osbourne, who also in fact wrote this book. It is not Shakespeare for Osbourne but fans of the show will enjoy the expansion of this character. Mama Hook has been in two episodes already and even has her own spin-off short series, so expect much more from this character in this series!

Official Premise: Mama Hook reminisces about her great experiences sailing the Never Sea and the stories she told young James Hook when he was growing up. Written by Sharon Osbourne, the stories are reminiscent of familiar fables like “The Tortoise and the Hare,” set in Jake and the Never Land Pirates’ world of fun pirate playfulness and daring adventures.

From the minute, I gave this book to my 18 month old daughter she ran around the house screaming “Hook!”. In fact she not only loved the book but she also loved the audio CD version of the book, which is a nice bonus to include here. I have a feeling that we are going to be revisiting this book quite a bit over the next few months. The very talent Disney Storybook Art Team delivered this book full of great illustrations showing Mama Hook’s memories of when she sailed the Never Sea. Since the book is subtitled “A Pirate Parent’s Favorite Fables”, the stories included are exciting and also educational as well.  Overall, a must have a great gift for the upcoming holiday season!

DVD Review “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Never Land Rescue”

Starring: Cameron Boyce, Madison Pettis, Jonathan Morgan Heit, David Arquette, Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: November 19, 2013
MPAA Rating: TV-Y
Run Time: 148 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When my 17 month old daughter hears that theme song to “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” she runs to the TV and stops whatever else she is doing. The show is so fun and also delivers some great messages for kids. “Jake’s Never Land Rescue” is such an epic feature length special episode. When I saw the trailer, I was blown away. Of course, anything with Peter Pan showing up in the show is always fun as well. Disney Junior has a gold mine here and I (and my daughter) can’t wait to see what they have planned next for this great series.

Official Premise: The fate of Never Land hangs in the balance as magical treasures are mysteriously vanishing: Jake’s sword, Izzy’s pixie dust – even the directions on Cubby’s map! To save the day, Jake goes on the “Forever Quest” to restore power to the source of Never Land’s magic, the legendary Forever Tree. Join him on a thrilling expedition inside an enchanted cave, under the sea, and all the way to the top of Mount Destiny! But Jake needs help from his trusty crew – and YOU – to succeed against all odds and outsmart Captain Hook. Awash with exciting surprises, unforgettable music, and eight more swashbuckling adventures, “Jake’s Never Land Rescue” will make you believe in the everlasting magic of true friendship.

This DVD contains four great bonus episodes from the Disney Junior series. “It’s a Pirate Picnic / The Key to Skull Rock” features when Hook digs up the crew’s picnic spot and the crew gets a key to a treasure. “The Golden Twilight Treasure / Rock The Croc!” follows the crew must rescue a firefly from Hook and a treasure map lands in Croc’s mouth. “Jake and Sneaky Le Beak / Cubby the Brave” follows a sneaky pirate that steals from Hook and the group finds a pair of boots makes Cubby brave. Lastly “Jake’s Special Delivery / Seahorse Saddle-Up!” follows a mysterious package that washes ashore and the crew participates in a seahorse race.

If the bonus episodes are not enough to complete this DVD also included there is a exclusive Destiny Sword and also some really cool Glow-in-the-Dark stickers. There are also eight additional “Playing with Skully” Cartoon Shorts. They are really fun and I am excited that they are available on DVD. This series is currently in its second season and Disney has recently ordered a third season, which is set to premiere on February 17, 2014. So there will be much more coming for this show in the near future!! Yo Ho Let’s go!

Blu-ray Review “Peter Pan: Return to Never Land”

Actors: Blayne Weaver, Corey Burton, Kath Soucie, Harriet Owen, Jeff Bennett
Directors: Robin Rudd
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Run Time: 72 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Like the recently released “Planes”, “Return to Never Land” is a direct-to-video movie that was released in theaters back in 2002. I remember seeing it in theaters back then and actually quite enjoying it. The film is a direct sequel to 1953’s “Peter Pan” arriving nearly 50 years later. “Peter Pan” is easily one of my favorite Disney films ever, so this film has big shoes to fill. “Return to Never Land” does deliver though. It is not perfect but it is fun, packed some good jokes and has that same charm that we all loved from “Peter Pan”. It just makes you feel like a kid again while watching it. With the success of Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”, this would be great for today’s kids that weren’t born yet when this came out.

Official Premise: Let your imagination soar as your favorite characters from Peter Pan, Disney’s classic adventure, return to Never Land. Now, for the first time through the magic of Blu-ray, experience all the thrilling action with digitally restored picture and spine-tingling high-definition sound. Wendy’s very practical and no-nonsense daughter, Jane, begins the adventure of a lifetime when the infamous Captain Hook whisks her away to the enchanted island of Never Land. It’s up to Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys to help Jane believe in faith, trust and pixie dust. With the first-ever Lost Girl at his side, will Peter Pan finally defeat Hook and his swashbuckling band of pirates? Share the power of believing with your family in Return To Never Land—now more spectacular than ever on Disney Blu-ray.

Disney is releasing this film as a Special Edition combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. I love that Disney has switched from just iTunes digital copies to streaming digital copies from Vudu and Amazon.  The 1080p transfer looks really amazing with this film.  Even though it has that certain direct-to-video look, Disney did a great job of giving this film a nice polish job. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.  It works well the dialogue, the soaring through the sky, as well the action including the sword fights and all other aspects of swashbuckling.

Unlike the film, the special features are not very impressive. There are give deleted scenes included presented in various stages of the production but mostly in storyboards. Thought it might not excite many people, I watch Disney Junior quite a bit with our 15 month old daughter and she goes absolutely crazy for the “Pixie Previews” with the crew from the Tinker Bell movies.  So even though it is not directly related to “Return to Neverland”, I am pretty excited to see the five animated shorts including “Hide and Tink,” “Dust Up,” “Shooting Stars,” “Volley Bug” and “Just Desserts”. Lastly, there is a music video for the song “I’ll Try” performed by Jonatha Brooke and some trailers included.

Not Even Dry Land Is Safe When “Sharknado” Hits Syfy July 11th

NEW YORK – June 20, 2013 – Up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s a…shark! A supersized storm sucks sharks from the ocean and hurls them onto land in the new Syfy Original Movie Sharknado, premiering Thursday, July 11 at 9PM (ET/PT).

In the movie, regulars of a beachside bar including owner Fin (Ian Ziering/Beverly Hills 90210), bartender Nova (Casie Scerbo/Make It Or Break It) and local drunk George (John Heard/Home Alone) team up with Fin’s ex-wife April (Tara Reid/Scrubs) to investigate the ecological nightmare that has sharks swimming through the streets of Los Angeles and falling from the skies. Sharknado is a production of The Asylum.

Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) and Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror Picture Show) star in the Original Movie Blast Vegas, premiering Thursday, July 18 at 9PM. A group of wild frat bros and their nerdy tag-along Nelson (Muniz) head to Las Vegas for the spring break of a lifetime. When one of them steals an Egyptian relic from a casino, an ancient curse is unleashed on the fabled strip. Blast Vegas is a production of Brainstorm Media.

Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (, and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 98 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast Corporation.(Syfy. Imagine greater.)

Loren Hoskins & Kevin Hendrickson talks about making music for Disney Junior’s "Jake and the Never Land Pirates"

Loren Hoskins & Kevin Hendrickson are the musical duo responsible for the fun pirate rock on Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”. Besides the music, the duo are also characters in the show, Sharkey and Bones, Captain Hook’s henchmen. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the Loren and Kevin about their work on the show.

Mike Gencarelli: You guys are no stranger to pirate-rock. How do you feel you have changed from Captain Bogg and Salty to The Never Land Pirate Band?
Loren Hoskins: We inherited a universe. It was one we knew fairly well with it being Never Land. We got to play all these iconic characters in a number of different situations. On top of that we got to really test the fabric of pirate rock. We were able to write song for a number of different shows. I feel like this has broadened our outlook a little bit and given us more toys to play with.
Kevin Hendrickson: I think it has also given us a lot more songs to write. We used to write about 10 songs a year but now I think we write about 10 times that amount. This is more of a full time job now.

MG: With music being a very integral part of the show do you ever feel any pressure related to writing the music?
LH: I don’t know about pressure but I suppose I do now that you brought it up [laughs]. What blew our minds when we got started with this is that we were just offered an opportunity to try and write a theme song. To have it snowball in to working on the underscore and a bunch of other little songs which then led to us being both animated and live action characters has been a real gift. I am probably more excited about things than anxious.
KH: I have a little bit different take as I do feel a certain amount of pressure but it’s exciting. The scripts and writers are really great so from the beginning I felt a lot of pressure to really up the game and write great songs. In a way it’s been a positive thing to be surrounded by such a great team.
LH: I agree with that. We were stepping in a new world as we had never done an underscore before. We had to learn a whole new vocabulary. We had to learn a new way to tell a story and we wanted to reward everyone’s faith in us.

MG: What would you say is your favorite song to perform with the group?
LH: We did a performance run at Walt Disney World that was 30 shows in 10 days. It was incredible. There were 700 people or more showing up to see us perform for each of the 3 shows. We closed each set with the song “Never Land Pirate Band”. The kids know that song very well. So to perform that live and see kids at their first rock concert jumping around and singing along is a great feeling.

MG: Loren, you voice Sharky as well as Sandy the Starfish; how do you feel about going from singing to voicing characters on the show?
LH: When I was a kid I didn’t want to be pirate when I grew up. I wanted to be Mel Blanc and be able to do all those amazing voices. So to do voices on the show is a total blessing for me. It is something I really love.

MG: What can we expect to see during season 3 of the show?
KH: There are going to be some fun spring themed episodes as well as one titled “Tiki Tree Luau”.
LH: That is going to be a great episode. These episodes are just so great as the characters are doing some really funny stuff. In one episode titled, “Captain Who?”, Captain Hook forgets who he is, which is just a great story line.

MG: Does it blow your mind how popular your character have become, even including puppet versions in “Disney Junior Live” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
KH: Absolutely! Everyday is just stunning and it has yet to wear off. To hear our music in the parks and see it on television and then knowing that’s it’s going out all over the world is thrilling.
LH: When we got the chance to meet the puppeteers at Disney we were both equally excited to meet each other. It was really cool to be behind the scenes of a big Disney show.

MG: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job and entertaining children?
KH: Every time we get the opportunity to perform live in front of an audience and share our music is something that has really struck me. It’s a great privileged to be able to do that.

MG: Are there any plans to do more live shows in the parks?
LH: We haven’t heard anything yet. We never know as there is always some grand adventure being planned. Right now we are really focusing on season 3. We have been recording lots of songs for the new end sequences and focusing on a new round of pirate rock.

MG: Speaking of new music, will we be seeing a new album in the near future?
LH: I sure hope so! (Laughs) They have a beautiful way of rolling things out that runs tandem with the new episodes. We have heard of lots of cool things that will be happening in the near future. We don’t know when but there should be a new album soon.


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Scoot McNairy chats about roles in "Argo", "Killing Them Softly" & "Promised Land"

2012 has been a busy year Scoot McNairy co-starring in three major films including “Argo”, “Killing Them Softly” and “Promised Land”. Scoot broke out last in 2010 with his role in Gareth Edwards’ “Monsters” (brilliant film BTW). Media Mikes took out some time to chat with Scoot to chat about 2012 and what he has planned for 2013.

Mike Gencarelli: You got to work with Brad Pitt in “Killing Them Softly” and Ben Affleck in “Argo” and Matt Damon in “Promised Land”, how was it going up against these actors?
Scoot McNairy: Not sure what it means to go up against these actors. I feel more like its an opportunity to work WITH these actors. I have watched ALOT of films over the last 20 years and some I watch over and over again. Most of these films in the past that I really loved have had Matt or Ben or Brad in them. So I was just really excited to be working with these guys based on the films that I had seen them in over the years. It was a great experience on all three of the films. I’m just really looking forward to working with them all again in the future.

MG: Your role in “Argo” as Joe Stafford was quite intenseand emotional; tell us about working on this film?
SMN: “Argo” was such a great experience. Working with everyone on that film down to the crew and the cast because you really felt like everyone really wanted to be there and were very happy to be on that job. Ben is an incredible filmmaker not just with “Argo” but his other two films as well. As far as the emotional aspects or the intensity, I think it was an emotional and intense time so we were all just trying to capture that and i think Ben did a great job at doing that.

MG: Out of the three roles, what was your most challenging and how did you prepare?
SMN: Well “Promised Land” was a role that felt very close to home for me being that I spent a lot of my childhood on a farm in Paris Texas. So that was really drawing from what I knew.
“Killing them Softly” was most challenging just based on I felt as though I had a lot riding on that film. I was a big fan of Andrew’s (Dominik) last two films, so I just wanted to focus on the work and be on point for Andrew. It was a lot of preparation during that film that I have blocked out of my head. As well we filmed that almost two and a half years ago now.

MG: After a high-profile 2012 year, what do you have planned for 2013?
SMN: I really looking forward to seeing Steve McQueen’s film “Twelve Years a Slave”. I had a wonderful time working with him. I’m also got a few others shooting this year called called “The Rover” and another film called “Frank”. They should be out end of 2013 or beginning of 2014.

Film Review "Promised Land"

Starring: Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 46 mins
Focus Features

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Small-town America isn’t what it used to be. With farms shutting down and the big stores coming in the thing most people end up with is the land under their feet. But what if someone told you they would like to pay you thousands of dollars for the chance to find natural gas? Would you be willing to let others foot the cost if something went wrong?

Co-written by stars Damon and Krasinski, “Promised Land” takes us to a small Pennsylvania town that has attracted the interest of the Global Corporation. How small? The sign on the local convenience store offers GUNS – GROCERIES – GUITARS – GAS. In that order. Two company representatives, Steve (Damon) and Sue (McDormand) are assigned the job of visiting the local land owners and negotiating deals to allow Global to “frack” their land – dig miles down into the shale and extract the plentiful natural gas. Opposing this operation is a local teacher (the still amazing at 87 Hal Holbrook, treading into Oscar territory again) and a new face in town, Dustin (Krasinski), an environmentalist who’s not all he claims to be. The opponents are given three weeks to sell their story before the town votes. In that time, stories will be told and secrets will be revealed.

Though a little heavy handed at times (Dustin, out to save the town, is given the last name “Noble”), Damon and Krasinski have crafted a very well thought out tale, one that comes across as “Local Hero” meets “Erin Brockovich.” As the company hot-shot Damon is solid, giving a small town sensibility to his character. Krasinski also does a fine job, but there is something about his character that makes you think he’s not as genuine as he seems. Rosemarie DeWitt does well as a local teacher both men are trying to “recruit.” The townsfolk are portrayed as genuine people…not rubes who jump at the sight of a shiny quarter. They are all put through their paces by director Van Sant, who continues to prove that, when he concentrates on characters, he is a fine storyteller. The onscreen story is aided by the almost subtle score of Danny Elfman.


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Blu-ray Review “Stallone Three-Film Collector’s Set (Rambo: First Blood / Cop Land / Lock Up)”

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Peter Berg, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro
Number of discs: 3
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Release Date: August 14, 2012
Running Time: 327 minutes

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

With Stallone being a hot topic with “The Expendables 2” in theaters, Lionsgate Home Entertainment is bundling together three films from the iconic action star’s career, including: “Rambo: First Blood (1982)”, “Lock Up (1989)” and “Cop Land: The Director’s Cut (1997)”.  As much as I love Rambo, I would really have another great 80’s Stallone film like “Over the Top” in its place here.  Also as great of a film, “Cop Land” is I also would have like to see them include only 80’s Stallone.  Nonetheless at least the Director’s Cut of the film is included.  If you are looking for a dose of Stallone to get you psyched for “The Expendables 2”, you should definitely check out this release…especially for it’s low cost.  Now Lionsgate…one question, where is volume two?

“Cop Land” shows Sylvester Stallone in a different light in this edgy crime thriller sharing the screen with all-star cast – including Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta. Stallone plays Freddy Heflin, the sheriff of a small and seemingly peaceful town until he uncovers a massive, deadly conspiracy among these local residents and is forced to make a dangerous choice between protecting his friends and upholding the law.  We all know that one of Stallone’s best roles is John Rambo. In “First Blood”, he stars as the ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam. When Rambo becomes the target of a massive manhunt, he must use all his combat skills and weapons training to stay alive and outwit his pursuers.  “Lock Up” stars Stallone as Frank Leone as he enters Gateway Prison, a nightmare jail where every minute is hard time. Leone goes head-to-head with the warden, who will stop at nothing to get him, in order to survive.

The three-disc package presents each title in its original aspect ratio – 2.39:1 for “First Blood” and 1.85:1 for “Lock Up” and “Cop Land”. Each title also comes packed with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX tracks.  Believe it or not I feel that “First Blood” and “Lock Up” are a tie for the film that looks the best.  Funny how they are also older than 1997’s “Cop Land”.  Nonetheless the presentations are impressive all around.  “Cop Land” steals the best audio track of the pack, followed by “First Blood” in a close second and “Lock Up” in third.

The special features are jam packed with goodies.  “First Blood” features two audio commentary tracks from Stallone and novelist David Morrell.  There is a featurette called “Drawing First Blood”, is an impressive making-of documentary running just over 20 minutes. There are about 5 minutes  of deleted scenes including the controversial alternate ending.  Lastly there is a trivia track including.  With “Lock Up” there is a brief but decent making-of featurett. “Sylvester Stallone Profile” features interviews with Stallone in addition to behind the scenes footage of the cast and crew.  There is a behind-the-scenes featurette with interviews with the cast within a collection of raw clips.  Lastly there is a theatrical trailer included.  Lastly “Cop Land”  includes a great commentary track with writer/director James Mangold, producer Cathy Konrad, and actors Sylvester Stallone & Robert Patrick.  There are two short deleted scenes with optional commentary by Mangold, Stallone and Konrad.  “Cop Land: The Making of an Urban Western” is a basic behind-the-scenes featurette, topping off at almost 15 minutes.  Lastly there is a short “Storyboard Comparison” piece, running under 2 minutes.

Blu-ray Review “In the Land of Blood and Honey”

Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Zana Marjanovic, Goran Kostic, Rade Serbedzija, Dzana Pinjo, Nikola Djuricko
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Running Time: 127 minutes

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

When you hear that Angelina Jolie is writing/directing a film, the first thing that pops into my head isn’t a foreign film. Well she did a really great job with “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, it is directed with a sharp eye and written very smartly. The content of the film is very intense consisting of rape and violence but she is still able to intertwine her romance into the story. I felt the film drags a little in the second half and gets a little confusing but overall I would say I enjoyed it.

The film is set in the in the 1990s during the Bosnian War. It locks conflicted romance of Danijel and Ajla, two people from different ethnic backgrounds. Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, and Ajla, a Bosnian held captive in his camp. Shortly before the war though the two knew each other and were one their way to possibly falling in love. As the war develops the their relationship gets more complicated as war drives them apart.

This combo back includes the Blu-ray and also a DVD of the film. The authentic language version is available on the BD with English subtitles, and the newer before released English language version is available on the DVD. If I had the option to watch it I would highly recommended the foreign language version. The Blu-ray presentation is superb. It looks great with its 1080p transfer, very sharp and very realistic. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also very impressive and works well with the war scenes and the film’s beautiful score.

The extras are decent but lacking commentary from Angelina Jolie. “The Making of In the Land of Blood and Honey” Featurette takes you behind-the-scenes through filming in two languages and the local cast reflections on the actual the war. There are a few deleted scenes also included. Lastly exclusively available on the Blu-ray version is a Q&A with Jolie and Actress Vanesa Glodjo. Definitely worth checking out to get more insight into the film.