The Crown Remnant Guitarist Will Ash Discusses “The Wicked King: Part II”

Will Ash is the lead guitarist for the Los Angeles based metal band The Crown Remnant. The five piece band which also includes vocalist Geordy Shallan, guitarist Jorge Lopez, bass guitarist Josue Lara and drummer Art Ramirez is set to release a brand new album on January 18th titled “The Wicked King: Part II”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Will recently about the albums concept, its creation and what the band has planned for the New Year.

Adam Lawton: Give us a little background on the band if you could?

Will Ash: Los Angeles is kind of a funny place. Everyone has their own things going on so you tend to explore a lot of different avenues when you are trying to be creative out here. I think we are lucky in this band as we have a bunch of guys who are all adventurous enough to want to try a number of different things such as theater, comedy, stunt work and pod-casting. Being that we all come from these different areas of entertainment we are able to use those different experiences to help us create this music. The band sort of started when our singer Geordy came into where I teach guitar lessons. We started talking and had some of the same ideas. He and I coming together kind of solidified the start of The Crown Remnant. The name was already in place and everything so from there we started to audition people. We reached out via Facebook and a bunch of other avenues to get the lineup that we have now.

AL: The new album is titled “The Wicked King: Part II”. Can you tell us about that and how you built on the concept established from the first record?

WA: This was a good creative experience. I like music that is thematic and records that keep a theme throughout the individual tracks. We actually wrote part 1 and part 2 in tandem with one another. We started with a very wide perspective. We knew we wanted an album that was cohesive from the first track all the way to the last track. From there we chose to do a split release. Part 2 is the answer to the call sounded by part 1. The first record has a brighter more idealistic approach and this new album is the antithesis of that. It’s a little crazier, a bit darker and somewhat bigger.

AL: With both records being written at the same time how did you decide what songs went where?

WA: That was a question that went through all of our brains for quite some time. Initially we were very starry eyed and wanted a full 13 track release. The more we thought about it the more saw the benefits two releases could bring. We wanted to keep things consumable so the decision to do two releases was really the first decision we made. From there it was just a question of what songs were going to make it into the records. We looked at the concepts and ideas of each song to see where they would best fit. Geordy and I do a lot of writing together and each of our writings comes out in a certain way. I think that was a big help also when it came time to split things up.

AL: You also score music for video games. How did the writing of this record compare or contrast to that of your game work?

WA: I love video games! It does end up being a little different. I get very excited when I have the chance to mix in more orchestral pieces with the type of music we play in this band. I am very much in to symphonic music so to be able combine these styles is very enjoyable. When I sit down and work on game pieces I am looking a whole different set up instrumentation. Fundamentally things are the same when it comes to writing however beyond the basics there tends to be much more going on within the game pieces. It becomes a different task in that the playing style is more emotive. With the band I have to balance things to be able to include a vocalist and different percussive elements so you have to look at how you approach things to ensure you achieve the feel you are looking for.

AL: What are the bands plans to tour going into 2019?

WA: We are certainly going to be out there! We are very excited to get out there on our first tour. We have not been around very long as a band so it’s a nice feet to be able to string together a multi-state tour. The tour kicks off January 23rd and I believe runs through Mid-February. The record releases on January 18th so it’s going to be a great time to be out there supporting the record. I am looking forward to being out there on the road with my buddies playing music and eating junk food. Hopefully we will be able to get the band’s name out there more help generate some excitement around this new record.

AL: Do you have any other projects outside of the band we can also be watching for?

WA: I try to stay busy as much as I can. Being a young guy I try to juggle quite a few things at one time. I am at the point now where I am very driven so there is not just one project that I am working on right now that I can announce. I do have one project I am heading which falls more on the composing side coming out soon. More details on that should be coming out after we get done with this first run of shows.

For more info on The Crown Remnant you can check out their official website at www.crownremnant.com

Disney’s Smash Hits Moana and Beauty and the Beast Redefine Heroism as Part of Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream

Moana, Maui and Friends from Disney’s Moana Take the Ice for the First Time; Tickets On Sale Now for the 2017 Dates

Disney’s Moana voyages onto the ice for the first time as Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream, produced by Feld Entertainment Inc., brings courage and adventure to hometowns across North America. Hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse bring audiences on an expedition across raging seas and snow covered mountains in this action-packed extravaganza featuring Disney’s Beauty and the BeastFrozen, Tangled and Cinderella with other beloved Disney characters to help tell these extraordinary tales. Tickets are on sale today for the 2017 tour dates.

Dare To Dream takes families on a high-sea adventure as Moana sets sail on a life-changing quest to save her island with help from the demigod Maui. With the ice floor transformed into the vast oceanic scape, Disney On Ice allows Moana’s strength and determination to take center stage. This engaging atmosphere lets audiences deepen their existing connection to their favorite wayfinder and discover one’s true identity is never out of reach.

“As parents, we strive to find role models who embolden our children to choose kindness and exhibit the values we aim to impart, and this production of Disney On Ice truly embodies this goal,” said Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment and Producer of Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream, Nicole Feld. “With Dare To Dream, I want to inspire the youngest members of our families with the heroic stories of their favorite Disney characters and allow them to discover the hero within themselves.”

Beautiful production numbers invite audiences into the world of Beauty and the Beast, as Belle shows what it means to be fearless. Along with her new friends in the enchanted castle, Belle is encouraged to step outside the ordinary and find joy in the bleakest situation. As she looks beyond the harsh exterior of the Beast to reach his gentle heart, fans learn there are teachable moments in everyday life.

Through the athleticism and grace of Anna and Elsa, Rapunzel and Flynn, and Cinderella, brave heroes from FrozenTangled and Cinderella ignite passions to believe. Showgoers will witness each characters’ unique qualities and talents inspiring children around the world to discover their inner hero.

“One of the most magical things about Disney On Ice is the performers’ ability to authentically showcase the best qualities of Disney characters,” said Director Patty Vincent. “At our shows, moms and dads are able to experience the magic through the eyes of their children, allowing them to reconnect with their favorite characters and once again experience the childlike wonder and hope that inspires us all.”

Visit DisneyOnIce.com for the shows and dates coming to your hometown. Stay current on the latest developments through social media, including instructions on how to access presale codes for future Disney On Ice productions:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIce
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce #DareToDream @NicoleFeld (Show Producer)
YouTube: www.youtube.com/DisneyOnIce
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

About Feld Entertainment

Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that uplift the human spirit and bring people together. With millions of people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On IceDisney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.

Concert Review: Bermuda’s “Marcho Man Tour Part II”

“The Marcho Man Tour Part II”
Bermuda, Demolisher, Aminals
Date: March 7, 2016
Venue: The Warehouse, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

The metal band Bermuda made a stop in Syracuse, NY on March 7th as part of their “Marcho Man Tour”. Also on the bill for the evening were Demolisher from Chicago and the Boston thrash band Aminals. Despite it being a rather cold night in Syracuse the bands and a handful of dedicated fans filled the small multi use venue for a night of metal musings.

After brief sets from a handful of local bands Aminals would take the stage where the proceeded to absolutely crush their set! The band demanded the attention of the crowd and made sure everyone was aware of their absolutely jaw-dropping showmanship. You would have never guessed that this was their drummer’s first show with the group as the bands set progressed without incident and leaving the crowd wanting more. Next up was Demolisher, bringing almost a completely different style of metal and hardcore than the previous act. The band seemed right at home and embracing their surroundings which included skateboard ramps and a few unused motorcycles and a car. Yes a car. Demolisher turned the dusty DIY venue into an all-out brawl as clouds of dust arose from buildings industrialized floor

Tour Headliners Bermuda would close out the night and much like the acts before them took to setting up on the floor as opposed to the small confining stage. From the first snare hit, the crushing weight of this band’s brutal riff-age leveled the small crowd. The bands furious sound fueled an intense mosh pit that quickly overtook the area in-front of the band. The bands front man smoldered with steam as the mixture of sweat and cold air provided an eerie effect that fit the night’s mood perfectly. Definitely be on the lookout for when these guys come to town as you won’t want to miss it.

Aminals Setlist:
1.) Bitchcraft
2.) War Widows
3.) Ew, She Smells Like Brooklyn
4.) If You Hear Them Sing in a Hospital
5.) Population Controls
6.) Dirty Habits
7.) Rope
8.) Something Secular

Bermuda Setlist:
1.) Kuma
2.) Vertebroken
3.) Crown Crusher
4.) Grave Dancers
5.) The Wandering
6.) The Human Herd
7.) Parasitic
8.) The Recluse
9.) Intuitions
10.) Process of Drowning
11.) The Cancer Speaks

Film Review “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 137 minutes
Lionsgate

Our Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

It’s a sad day for diehard fans of the “Hunger Games” series, while people like me will remember it for its long drawn-out speeches about war and the long clarifying conversations about the plot after heroine wakes up after getting knocked out. The conclusion to the much beloved series doesn’t go out with a whimper, but it doesn’t go out on a high note either. The “Hunger Games” movies will end as they started, just alright; nothing spectacular.

“Mockingjay – Part 2” picks up right after the ending events of “Mockingjay – Part 1”. Peeta (Hutcherson) has been brainwashed by the Capitol and Katniss (Lawrence) is in shock that man she once began to develop feelings for expresses hate and displeasure to the mere sight of her. Meanwhile the resistance, made of all the Districts, is planning their final assault on the Capitol. They’re led by the suspicious President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

Coin plans to keep Katniss safe and out of harm’s way, mainly wielding Katniss as a propaganda piece, much like Katniss was in the first “Mockingjay” movie. That doesn’t sit well with Katniss who stows away, joining soldiers on the front line as they prepare for an invasion. Her ultimate goal for this final chapter is to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland) with her own bow and arrow.

The real fun, a block by block journey through the heart of the Capitol while alluding deadly booby traps and fighting creatures, doesn’t come until we trudge through long bits of tediously familiar dialogue. The middle of “Mockingjay” should have come sooner, or at least began the movie. Teasing the inevitable action for half an hour is disingenuous for fans and viewers of the movies, adding to the complaint that the “Mockingjay” sequel is too long. While parts of “Mockingjay” work on a superbly entertaining level, too much of it feels like unnecessary filler.

The excessive length takes away from the main theme of the movie, which is fairly basic: war is hell. For being a somewhat anti-war movie, it seems to solve a lot of its problems through violent conflict and murder. The hell aspect of that statement gives viewers some of the series best emotional scenes. The mature content of how painful and heartbreaking war can be, isn’t explored enough. Its message about how difficult the civilian toll during war can be, on either side of the battle, is sandwiched between expositions, taking away from the gut punch it should be. For a series that prides itself off its adult themes, it seems to misjudge how to present its most interesting topic in its final movie.

Overall, I’m not disappointed that I watched these movies. At times I quite enjoyed them, and I think that the series has multiple, bold adult messages directed at an audience with a young, developing mind. Like the others, I have to praise the acting throughout. It’s the best of any young adult franchise, save for the “Harry Potter” series. At the end of the day though, “Harry Potter” handled the split of its final book into two movies, incredibly well, while “Hunger Games” overcompensated for how much content they had to stretch into four hours. “Hunger Games” is another instance where the story would have been much better off as one impactful final movie than two alright flicks.

Blu-ray Review “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1”

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore
Director: Francis Lawrence
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: March 6, 2015
Run Time: 122 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Unlike the rest of the world “The Hunger Games” franchise, hasn’t delivered for me at all. The first one was just one. I thought that “Catching Fire” was awful and “Mockingjay Part 1” is another long drawn out lead in for the final film. Personally, I love Jennifer Lawrence much more than I did after the first Hunger Games and her character is more likable but the film is not. I will definitely watch the second part of this film to finish the series but expectations are low. I think the whole “Part 1” and “Part 2” business of these epic films are really getting old.

Official Premise: The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage.

Lionsgate is delivering this release as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy included. Even though, I am not crazy about the film, the Blu-ray merits are very impressive. The 1080p transfer is gorgeous. The CGI in the film is well-blended. I was most impressed with the audio tracks. First we get a Dolby TrueHD Atmos, which basically translates to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those units that are not compatible. It is an amazing track that delivers the epic feel that the film aims for. There is also an interesting track, which is a 2.0 Dolby Digital Optimized for Late-Night Listening, not very epic but still a neat option.

The special features are also quite impressive. “The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of Mockingjay – Part 1”: is an eight-part feature-length documentary. If you love these films, this is a must watch. There are two featurettes included. The first is “Straight From the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman” and the second is “Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack”. There is also a music video for “Yellow Flicker Beat” from Lorde. Lastly there is an Audio Commentary from Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson and some deleted scenes.

Film Review “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Julianne Moore
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 123 minutes
Lionsgate

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The final piece of a series is no longer a bloated epic detailing the final time we’ll see our heroes, but now cut in half, with the first part generally being the weaker of the two. That makes it easier to scrutiny because of how much of an obvious cash grab it is by the Hollywood executives hoping to squeeze out those last remaining pennies before finding their next franchise to milk. “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part – 1” isn’t about to break that stereotype, but it comes pretty close.

For a movie that seems to be advertised as an explosive and heart pounding action flick, it’s surprisingly thoughtful. “Mockingjay – Part 1” picks up moments after the events of “Catching Fire”. Katniss (Lawrence) is still nursing some mental scars and having to come to terms with the fact that District 12 no longer exists. It’s nothing but rubble and piles of charred bodies. The visuals of blackened skeletons is enough to paint a horrific picture and further imply the brutal extent the Capitol will go to strengthen it’s iron fist grip over the districts.

Katniss is taking refuge underground in District 13, long believed to have suffered the same fate that has recently befallen District 12. There she meets a military society headed by President Alma Coin (Moore). This is the first introduction of President Alma in the series and while it’s easy to trust the person supplying food and supplies, there’s something ominous about a character who never seems to view Katniss more than a puppet for political manipulation. On the other end, Peeta (Hutcherson) is being used to discredit the defiance that grows in the districts.

Katniss and Peeta are clearly being used as propaganda. While Katniss is used to inspire hope to those fighting, through her fiery eyes of anger and bitter words of revenge, it appears that Peeta is nervously regurgitating lines, but we never see or fully know what purpose the Capital is using him for. “Mockingjay” focuses more on President Alma’s use of Katniss to beat the drums of rebellion in the hopes of getting ubiquitous support for their uprising against the Capital. Luckily this disinformation chess match is interrupted by scenes of retaliation around Panem and a third act covert mission to rescue Peeta.

The theme doesn’t say anything new, but it’s refreshing to see a movie, that’s been coined as “young adult”, use such a mature idea in a very presentable and easy to understand fashion. It’s not difficult to see the positive and ill effects of spin that two warring factions can create. Personally, I was expecting CGI explosions and Jennifer Lawrence whipping her hair all about while firing off multiple arrows like Hawkeye in “The Avengers”, but for what we’re given, it is proficient with it’s message and it simply wets our appetites for an explosive finale come next year.

The big problem with the first part of this oversized first course of Mockingjay is that it feels too much like a prologue to something a lot more monumental. There’s a lot of moving pieces, but a lot of downtime that involves staring, sitting and inconsequential dialogue. The obvious payoff for our two hours of time won’t happen until Part 2, but it’d be nice to have some kind of reward for our investment into the lives of these characters. It doesn’t help that Jennifer Lawrence, who’s shown such a wide range of emotions throughout this series, is a bit limited to angry reactions and fear.

Regardless, if it wasn’t for Lawrence’s commanding presence, this movie wouldn’t have the drive and Katniss wouldn’t radiate bravery. All the regulars are back for this movie, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and the stupendously talented Philip Seymour Hoffman. Without this cast, this movie would have fizzled out like “Percy Jackson” or “The Mortal Instruments”. It’ll be easier to reflect on “Part 1” once the series completes next year. We’ll know if it’s a good enough primer for the grand ending we’re all expecting. For now though, it’s simply an appetizer to keep us content until the main course arrives.

Blu-ray Review “Sailor Moon: Season 1 Part 1”

Starring: Kotono Mitsuishi, Tōru Furuya, Aya Hisakawa, Michie Tomizawa, Emi Shinohara, Rica Fukami
Number of discs: 6
Rated: TV-PG
Studio: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Run Time: 530 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Sailor Moon: Season 1 Part 1” is first volume of the classic 1992-97 anime. This set includes episodes 1-23 as well as an 88-page full-color premium booklet. This is only the beginning of this series as there should be at least nine additional sets until the complete 200-episode series has been released. This show was one of my wife’s favorite, so she was excited to have it on Blu-ray…unfortunately the transfers are a quite a bit of a mess and it is during going to upset many fans.

Synopsis: Usagi Tsukino is a cheerful 14-year-old schoolgirl who often finds herself in unwanted trouble. One day, she saves a talking cat named Luna from some mean kids, and her life is changed forever. Luna gives Usagi a magic brooch that transforms her into Sailor Moon, defender of love and justice! Now Usagi must work with Luna to find the other Sailor Guardians and the Moon Princess, whose Legendary Silver Crystal is Earth’s only hope against the dark forces of the evil Queen Beryl.

According to Viz, in order create the Sailor Moon Blu-rays they used the masters that used to create the 2009 Japanese DVD sets. They are said to be original, uncropped 4:3 aspect ratio, uncut remastered episodes, which is all good but really wasn’t impressed at all. Hopefully they have better plans for the rest of the episodes otherwise after this fans are not going to buy this. There is ghosting throughout. The item is over-sharpened and there is a lot of lost detail, which is a shame.

There are several audio options, including a complete English dub with a new voice cast, as well as the Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio tracks with English subtitles. The special features aren’t anything special either besides the Behind the Scenes: Dub Recording featurette. Other than that there is the Announcement Panel & Fan Reactions, Official Announcement Trailer, Art Galleries and a Clean Opening and Ending included here.

 

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  • Blu-ray Review “Beware the Batman: Season 1, Part 2 – Dark Justice”

    Starring: Anthony Ruivivar, JB Blanc, Kurtwood Smith, Sumalee Montano
    Director: Sam Liu
    Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    Studio: Warner Archive Collection
    DVD Release Date: September 30, 2014
    Run Time: 286 minutes

    Season: 4 out of 5 stars
    Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
    Extras: N/A

    “Beware the Batman” is a great but short-lived show that was a unique take on the world of Batman because it didn’t feature classic villains like The Joker, Penguin, Riddler, etc. This series focuses on new villains and went bigger with the villains. It is quite risky but I really dug it.I loved the CGI animated approach. The design was cool and the tone of the show really intrigued. “Beware the Batman: Dark Justice – Season 1, Part 2″ includes the remaining 13 episodes in the series and if love a different take on Batman, check it out!

    Official Premise: Another night falls in Gotham City and the ever-vigilant Dark Knight watches over his city and its citizens. With the help of his ex-secret agent butler, Alfred, and sword-wielding assassin Katana, the Batman wages a tireless war against Gotham’s twisted criminal underworld. Ride along as Batman battles the evil machinations of Professor Pyg, Magpie, Mister Toad and criminal mastermind Anarky. It’s a crime-fighting collection of hidden clues, cool tech and detective thrills as Batman prowls in the shadows, ready to deliver action-packed excitement and justice.

    Episodes included are” 14. “Darkness”; 15. “Reckoning”; 16. “Nexus”; 17. “Monsters”; 18. “Games”; 19. “Animal”; 20. “Doppelganger”; 21. “Unique”; 22. “Hero”; 23. “Choices”; 24. “Epitaph”; 25. “Twist” and
    26. “Alone”. This brings this series to an end because it never made it past the first season, which is sad because it was a great and quite dark adaptation of “Batman” in animated format.

    Thanks to Warner Archive Collection, this series is making it’s way on Blu-ray and completing the series for the fans that did follow this show. The 1080p transfers work perfect with the animated style. The colors are sharp and makes this slick show look great. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround tracks work great as well with the action and score. There are no additional special features included on this release.

    Blu-ray Review “Attack on Titan: Limited Edition – Part 2”

    Starring: Yûki Kaji, Yui Ishikawa, Marina Inoue, Kishô Taniyama, Yu Shimamura, Yû Kobayashi
    Director: Tetsurô Araki
    Number of discs: 4
    Studio: Funimation
    Release Date: September 23, 2014
    Run Time: 300 minutes

    Series: 5 out of 5 stars
    Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
    Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

    “Attack on Titan” has really resurrected my love for Japanese anime. The show is fantastic and as a whole is easily one of the best series that I have watched in a while. I just wish the series was longer than 26 episodes, since the manga is quite long as well. This Limited Edition Part 2 comes with a 3-D Lenticular Art Card and Notes From Beyond The Wall: Part 2 (a 24 page digibook containing 4 panel comics, artwork, interviews and more!). The series is also being re-adapted into two animated theatrical films set to be released Winter 2014 and 2015. The word is that there is also a live-action movie that will begin filming in summer 2014 for a planned summer 2015 release. So stay tuned “Titan” fans, there is still a lot of come!

    Official Premise: Eren Jaeger vowed to rid mankind of the bloodthirsty giants who devoured his mother and destroyed his city. Now, after discovering that he has the ability to turn into a Titan, the world Eren promised to protect looks at him like he is the monster. Narrowly avoiding execution, Eren’s fate is entrusted to the Scout Regiment where he must prove capable of following orders. But on an expedition outside the wall, a unique female Titan appears and cuts through the Scouts, leaving a trail of carnage and splintered bones behind her and making it difficult for Eren to control his rage. As it becomes obvious that a traitor is sabotaging the Regiment from within, Eren must ask himself who humanity’s true enemy really is.

    Like Part 1 of “Attack on Titan”, it is delivered by FUNimation Entertainment with a solid Blu-ray presentation. The episodes look fantastic in their 1080p transfers in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The style of animation looks so amazing and the detail is incredible. Same goes for the audio options. We get the original Japanese language track in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and an English dub in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Both are excellent but I have to admit like Part 1 as well, the 5.1 track wins. There is over an hour of special features included, a little less than Part 1 but still decent. There is a commentary track for episodes 14 & 25, Attack on Titan at Anime Expo, ”Chibi Theatre: Fly, Cadets, Fly!”, Eyecatch Gallery, Textless Songs, and trailers included.

    “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II” Coming to Kansas City

    Talk about how times have changed! In 1972, thanks in part to several members of a pro Italian-American group, Francis Ford Coppola’s film “The Godfather” spent opening day playing to an empty theatre in Kansas City. According to Thomas Gialde, vice president of the Italian-American Unification Council of Greater Kansas City at the time, his group “strongly oppose a kind of prejudice the picture can cause.” He made these comments to reporters in the lobby of the Empire theatre.

    Four decades later, the film, as well as it’s Oscar winning sequel, return to the scene of the crime. These days the Empire is better known as the Kansas City Alamo Drafthouse and this Sunday, September 7, the Alamo is presenting a double-feature performance of both films, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are just $15.00

    Nominated for a combined (22) Academy Awards and winner of (9) Oscars, including (2) for Best Picture, “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II” are still considered, forty-years after their release, to among the greatest American films ever made. If you haven’t seen them on the big screen here is your chance!

    For more information visit:

    http://drafthouse.com/movies/the_godfather_double_feature/kansas_city

    www.Facebook.com/AlamoKansasCity

    Twitter: @AlamoKC

    Blu-ray Review “Attack on Titan: Limited Edition – Part 1”

    Actors: Mike McFarland, Matthew Mercer
    Directors: Tetsuro Araki
    Number of discs: 4
    Rated: Unrated
    Studio: Funimation
    Release Date: June 3, 2014
    Run Time: 325 minutes

    Series: 5 out of 5 stars
    Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    Starting off as a manga back in “Attack on Titan”, has quickly taking over the anime world. If you watch the first episode, there is literally no way you can’t get hooked. It is currently one of my favorite anime series out right now. This Part 1 release includes the first 13 episodes of the 25 episode series. I literally burned through the first 13 episodes in one day wanted more immediately. Funimation already set a release date of September 23rd for Part 2 for this series. I really hope they include the 2 OVA episodes as well. The series is also being re-adapted into two animated theatrical films set to be released Winter 2014 and 2015. The word is that there is also a live-action movie that will begin filming in summer 2014 for a planned summer 2015 release. So stay tuned “Titan” fans, there is still a lot of come!

    Official Premise: When the man-eating giants called Titans first appeared, humans retreated behind massive walls. After a hundred years of safety, a colossal-sized Titan smashes through the defenses, unleashing a flood of giants and carnage in the streets. Eren Jaeger watches helplessly as one of the creatures devours his mother. He vows to kill every Titan walking the earth. Eren and his surviving friends enlist to fight against the insatiable monsters. The future looks bleak, but there’s more to Eren than meets the eye: he may be humanity’s last hope against extinction. The Titans have come to feast. Anything can happen. No one is safe.

    Funimation is really delivering to its fan for this Limited Edition release. There is such a fanbase for this and they probably would have been happy with just the episodes on Blu-ray but Funimation went a step further and included tons of great goodies for this release. It comes with a 4-pin collection consisting of the Military Police Regiment, Scout Regiment, Garrison Regiment, and Cadet Corps. There is a replica of Eren Jaeger’s key necklace and also a sword necklace featuring the Titan flesh paring blades. There is a 3-D lenticular Art Card included. Lastly “Notes From Beyond the Wall: Part 1” is a 24 page digibook that is a great addition.

    The 1080p transfer of these episodes look outstanding. I really love the style of this show. The announcement of the English dub cast was a big deal for this show and I was very happy with it myself. Bryce Papenbrook voices Eren Jaeger, know best for Rin Okumura from “Blue Exorcist” and Kirito from “Sword Art Online”. He does a great job. Also get voice actors include Mike McFarland and Matthew Mercer. The Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1 really delivered for sure. Of course also included is the original audio Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 surround tracks.

    If the episodes and goodies wasn’t enough for you, there are over 100 minutes extras included on this release. First off we have “The Making of Attack on Titan”, which is a great behind-the-scenes look in this amazing anime. “Monster Character Theater – Fly! Trainee Corps” is a funny series of Flash animated shorts featuring the characters in Chibi form based on designs by Yuupon. There are two audio commentaries included on episodes 3 and 13. Lastly there is a photo gallery, textless songs and trailers included. I can’t wait to see what they drum up for Part 2!

    DVD Review “Dragons: Defenders of Berk – Part 2″

    Actors: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, T.J. Miller, Zack Pearlman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
    Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    DVD Release Date: May 27, 2014
    Run Time: 220 minutes

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

    “Dragons: Defenders of Berk – Part 2″ wraps up the second season of this epic TV series based on Dreamworks Animation hit film “How to Train Your Dragon. These 10 episodes feature all-new adventures and dragons. I feel that as this show has progressed it has gotten a little darker, which I really like. In fact, these 10 episodes were easily the best in the series to date. If you are a fan of the first film, then I highly recommend you getting into this series if you haven’t already. If it does nothing else it will hold you off until “How to Train Your Dragon 2” hits theaters June 13th!

    Official Premise: Based on the DreamWorks Animation Academy Award® nominated movie How to Train Your Dragon, there’s action at every turn and excitement on every ride in DREAMWORKS DRAGONS: DEFENDERS OF BERK PART 2 as Hiccup and his fearless friends embark on new adventures and battle to protect their island home. The young Vikings must put their dragon training skills to the test to defeat dangerous and surprising new enemies! The series features original voice talent from the film including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse and will include Zack Pearlman and more.

    Rounding out the second season are the following episodes: “A View to a Skrill Part 2; “The Flight Stuff (Ask Heirheads)”, “Free Scauldy”; “Frozen”; “A Tale of Two Dragons”; “The Eel Effect”; “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”; “Bing! Bam! Boom!”; “Cast Out, Part 1” and “Cast Out, Part 2”. Like other recent Dreamworks Animation shows based on films “Turbo FAST” airs on Netflix. Season three of “Dragons” aka “Dragon Masters” is going to take that route as well the series moves to the streaming site in Spring 2015.

    There is also a few great special features that dive deeper into the amazing world of “Dragons”. There is “Dragon Tracker Part 4”, which is an an-depth look at Skrill, Baby Thunderdrums and Speed Stinger dragons, along with a special sneak peek of Snaptrapper from “How to Train Your Dragon 2” “Evolution of Skrill” is a featurette with the visual effects supervisor David Jones explaining the history behind the dragon. Lastly “Here Comes the Fire” is a funny Dragon Mash-up music video.

    If you still want more, you got it…if you that purchase the DVD will also get a Digital HD UltraViolet code for the title and Movie Money ($7.50 value) to redeem for tickets to “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. Also you can enter for a chance to win a free dragon racing saddle or a mystery box code for exclusive battle gear and powers to “School of Dragons”. This is an online game from JumpStart based on DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon franchise”. It is a real blast an highly recommended for any fan of the series. For more information, visit http://www.schoolofdragons.com.

    DVD Review “Dragons: Defenders of Berk – Part 1”

    Actors: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, T.J. Miller, Zack Pearlman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
    Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
    Run Time: 242 minutes

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

    If you are a fan of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon”, they you need to check out this follow-up animated TV series “Dragons” if you haven’t already. The first season of this show was subtitled “Riders of Berk” and included 20 episodes. The second season which just finished airing this month was subtitled “Defenders of Berk” and also included 20 episodes. This DVD is Part 1 of the second season consisting of first 10 episodes. The last time Fox released both part 1 and 2 at the same time for the first season but this time only we are only getting part 1 for now. This show is getting better and better with each new season. We have plenty more of this great franchise to come with season three subtitled “Dragon Masters” and of course this summer’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” in theaters this June. Keep them coming!

    Official Premise: Based on the DreamWorks Animation Academy Award nominated movie How to Train Your Dragon, “Dragons: Defenders of Berk – Part 1″ follows Hiccup and his fellow dragon trainers as they battle to protect their island home. The young Vikings must put their dragon training skills to the test to defeat dangerous and surprising new enemies! The series features original voice talent from the film including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse and will include, Zack Pearlman and more.

    Here are the listings of the first 10 episodes from season 2″Live and Let Fly”, “The Iron Gronckle”, “The Night and the Fury”, “Tunnel Vision”, “Race to Fireworm Island”, “Fright of Passage”, “Worst in Show”, “Appetite for Destruction”, “Zippleback Down” and “A View to a Skrill Part 1”.

    Like the first season, this DVD is also jam-packed with special features that dive deeper into the exciting world of “Dragons”.  First up is “Dragon Tracker Part 3” which is a continuation from the first season DVDs giving an in-depth look at the shows dragons. This one includes the Screaming Death, Fireworm Queen, Flightmare and Skrill dragons. “Evolution of Screaming Death” is a featurette with visual effects supervisor David Jones talking about its history. Lastly there is also a “SuperFly” Dragon Mash-up music video.

    I feel like a game show host…but “Wait there is still more…” Along with the purchase of the DVD you will also get a Digital HD UltraViolet code, which is a nice bonus personally to be able to watch these episodes on the go. There is also an offer for exclusive battle gear and one month’s free subscription to School of Dragons, the online game from JumpStart based on DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon franchise. This game rules and is a must play for any fan of the franchise. Visit http://www.schoolofdragons.com for more details.

     

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    Blu-ray Review “Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham – Season 1, Part 1”

    Voices of: Anthony Ruivivar, J.B. Blanc, Sumalee Montano, Kurtwood Smith
    Rated TV-PG
    Studio: Warner Archive Collection
    DVD Release Date: February 18, 2014
    Run Time: 286 minutes

    Season: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Extras: N/A

    After “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” although a fun show, but with the success of “The Dark Knight” series, fans were looking for something with a darker tone. Enter, “Beware the Batman”. The show has a more serious tone and a really snazzy look and feel to it. The animation style is great and Batman is quite badass. Unfortunately Cartoon Network did not give this show much love, they pulled it from their schedule back in October after 11 episodes and left two unaired. They claimed it would be back on in January but as we approach March there is still no word. Either way I really dug this show and I would recommend it to any Batman fan out there. “Batman: The Animated Series” still holds the reigns but it is quite an impressive entry for the Caped Crusader.

    Batman swings into an exhilarating new age, teaming with a powerful allies old and new for a thrilling new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise in Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham, Season 1 Part 1. The new action-packed detective thriller incorporates Batman’s core characters with a rogue’s gallery of criminals as the Caped Crusader faces some of Gotham City’s most despicable villains. Through the show’s first 13 animated adventures of this two-disc collection, ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana join Batman to takes on an array of evildoers including the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. This thrilling series redefines what we have come to know as the “Batman show” and is sure to excite fans with cutting-edge CGI visuals.

    This Blu-ray contains all 11 episodes that official aired and the additional 2 that are still unaired. Included are “Hunted”, “Secrets”, Tests”, “Safe”, “Broken”, “Toxic”, “Family”, “Allies”, “Control”, “Sacrifice”, “Instinct”, “Attraction” and “Fall”. There are some solid villains as well in these episodes including Professor Pyg and Mister Toad, Cypher, Magpie, Anarky and Lady Shiva to name a few. I think it was a brave move to include some new and not so well-known villains. Other shows have done in the past having Joker be the lead villains and who doesn’t love the Joker but you have to give it to “Beware the Batman” for being ballsy here. I am sure if this show continued on we would see the funny man pop up surely but we did not rely on it from the beginning.

    This Blu-ray comes from Warner Bros’ made-on-demand (MOD) service, Warner Archive, which produced their releases as they are ordered. I feel that this series deserves more than that but at least it is seeing the light of day. The 1080p transfer works well with the tone of the show and the killer CGI visuals. There are no special features included on this release unless you count the two unaired episodes. I hope that Warner Bros and Cartoon Network continue this series this Spring otherwise, this “Season 1 Part 1” Blu-ray will not have a “Part 2” release to complete it.

    Blu-ray Review “The Hangover Part III”

    Actors: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong
    Directors: Todd Phillips
    Rated: R (Restricted)
    Studio: Warner Home Video
    Release Date: October 8, 2013
    Run Time: 100 minutes

    Film: 3 out of 5 stars
    Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

    When I saw “The Hangover”, I thought it was one of the funniest, craziest comedies I have ever seen.  I never thought to myself though, “Man I really want a sequel!” Well money speaks for itself since the first film brought in a boat load of it.  The sequel was a carbon copy of the first film and was quite terrible. I know they say if something works the first time don’t change it but it was no fun.  So when I saw they were making a third film to “complete the trilogy”, I steered very clear. I have to admit though they actually did it up right this time (sort of). I think if they would have made this film the first sequel people wouldn’t have abandoned this franchise.

    Official Premise: It’s been two years. Phil, Stu and Doug (Cooper, Helms and Bartha) are happily living uneventful lives at home. The only member of the Wolfpack who’s not content is Alan (Galifianakis). Still lacking a sense of purpose, the group’s black sheep has ditched his meds and given in to his natural impulses in a big way-which, for Alan, means no boundaries, no filters and no judgment… until a personal crisis forces him to finally seek the help he needs. What could possibly go wrong? When the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.

    The film feels very epic and large. I have to admit, I wasn’t on the floor laughing but overall I enjoyed the film. They attempt to tie everything up from the first two films, which feels a little forced including bringing back characters like Jeffrey Tambor, Heather Graha and Justin Bartha (who I don’t think speak one word). Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong are the highlight of the film. I have never been a fan of Ed Helms and who doesn’t just love Bradley Cooper. I would have liked to see more of Melissa McCarthy. She was funny but not over-the-top and could have added a lot more.

    Warner’s delivered an impressive release with this Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet combo pack. The 1080p transfer is sharp and very impressive. Normally for a comedy, I would say that it doesn’t really push the standards of Blu-ray but this film does and it looks great. It also showcases really well all the various different locations from the desert to Mexico and (of course) Las Vegas. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 score is absolutely amazing and really feels like a huge action film and not like a comedy.

    The special features are a bit of a let down though to be honest. “Replacing Zach: The Secret Auditions” is a short collection of secret auditions with director Todd Phillips. “The Wolfpack’s Wildest Stunts” show the cast/crew working through the films stunts and action sequences. “Zach Galifianakis in His Own Words” talks briefly about his role. “Pushing the Limits” talks about shooting with animals and children. “Inside Focus: The Real Chow” is Ken Joeng being Ken Joeng. There is a one minute “Action Mash-Up” montagte. Lastly there are three short extended scenes and tons of funny outtakes.

    The Hangover Part III is available on Blu-Ray Combo Pack 10/8/13 at http://bit.ly/GetHungover

     

    Film Review “The Hangover III”