Film Review “American Rescue Squad”

Starring: Tony D. Czech, Douglas Sidney, and KariAnn Christense
Directed By: Elliot Diviney
Rated: R
Running Time: 94 minutes
Music Video Distributors

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

Imagine a Troma movie without any of the fun gratuitous nudity and violence. That’s “American Rescue Squad” in a nutshell. The creators behind this low budget flick have the know-how to realize what kind of movie they’re making. I just hate to think that a movie missing two components, as simple as naked people and gore, is what brings down this movie, but it does.

“American Rescue Squad” is a politically incorrect “Avengers”. Two superheroes, by the names of Personal Responsibility and Common Sense, have been away from the scene, but come out of retirement after a group of villains kidnap the Taxpayer. These villains are made up of the Freeloader, the Bible Thumper, and they’re all led by Congressman Dick Pansy. And just like any knowledgeable comedy movie that touches upon politics, it’s an equal opportunity offender.

There’s nothing too outlandishly offensive that should cause you to turn off the movie. There are jokes for both blue and red states, but luckily it never really grandstands and preaches a solid message. You can take what you want, but in an unbiased comedy like this, you would be wasting your time trying to read between the lines because there is nothing. None of the jokes are particularly clever, but silly for the sake of being silly. If you don’t have a rod up your butt, you should be able to chuckle every once and a while.

While it’s not about to join the ranks of “Airplane!” or “The Toxic Avenger”, it’s decent for what it is. It reminds me a bit of “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead” because of how it adds nonsensical musical numbers for our stereotypes to sing. And as you could surmise, the songs are equally crude and vulgar. “American Rescue Squad” has a charm that only comes from shoestring budget movies with passable acting.

But I just can’t quite enjoy it because as I stated earlier, no blood or naked people. I know when it comes to excessive nudity and violence, I’m generally condemning other movies for doing that, but when it comes to Troma, that’s what makes them so enjoyable. It’s supposed to be silly and over-the-top, but “American Rescue Squad” doesn’t have that and when you don’t have squirting red syrup and bare breasted women or male genitalia to keep your dirty mind occupied, you start to really think about the flaws of a movie that’s created in the same vein. I don’t know if what’s more terrifying. That that’s how my own moral compass is guided in some pop culture or that that’s my big slam against a movie that could have been better.

Blu-ray Review “Planes: Fire & Rescue”

Starring: Dane Cook, Julie Bowen, Ed Harris, Curtis Armstrong, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook
Director: Roberts Gannaway
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes

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

When I saw “Disney’s Planes”, I enjoyed the film but it was hardy very memorable and not a favorite for sure. I really wasn’t running into the very quickly released sequel with any high expectations at all. I was surprised though that the sequel is quite better than the first film. It is action packed and very funny. If you enjoy the world of “Cars”, I mean what little boy doesn’t this should certainly keep them entertained and glued to the screen and parents can get a few laughs and enjoy as well. This film is another one that Disney has neglected to release on 3D Blu-ray after it’s 3D successful theatrical release. This would really look much cooler at home with that added dimension.

Official Premise: Bring home the thrill of a lifetime with Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue”. This heart-pumping comedy-adventure features a dynamic crew of elite aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfires. When world-famous air racer Dusty learns that he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with a team of veteran firefighters; together, they battle a massive fire, and Dusty learns what it takes to be a true hero.

This sequel includes a solid voice cast including Dane Cook (“Planes”) as Dusty, Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”) as Dipper, Ed Harris (“Gravity”) as Blade Ranger, Captain Dale Dye (“Saving Private Ryan”) as Cabbie, Cedric the Entertainer (“Ice Age”) as Leadbottom, Erik Estrada (“CHiPs”) as Nick “Loopin” Lopez, Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) as Chug, Teri Hatcher (“Desperate Housewives”) as Dottie, John Michael Higgins (“Pitch Perfect”) as Cad, Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”) as Mayday, Stacy Keach (“Planes”) as Skipper, Regina King (“Ray”) as Dynamite, Anne Meara (“Night at the Museum) as Winnie, Jerry Stiller (“The King of Queens”) as Harvey and Wes Studi (“Avatar”) as Windlifter…whew…deep breath!

Disney is releasing this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD including Disney Movies Anywhere. I have been enjoying the Disney Movies Anywhere site but they need to get their asses in gear and get on board with Android systems. The 1080p transfer is very impressive. The colors are amazing and the animation is very crisp and sharp. Like I said, this would have been a lot better in 3D but we got to work with what we got. The The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 also sores high and really works great with the film and the films solid animated action throughout.

The special features are also a score for this release. There is a new exclusive animated short “Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular”. as well as other shorts “Dipper” and “Smokejumpers”. There is a fun mockumentary called “Welcome to Piston Peak!” looking at the Piston Peak National Park and its aerial firefighting team. There is a funny “CHoPs” TV Promo. “Air Attack: Firefighters From The Sky” is a fun and entertaining behind-the-scene look at the real life inspiration for the film with Director Roberts Gannaway and Producer Ferrell Barron talking about the making of. There is a music video for Spencer Lee’s “Still I Fly”. Lastly, there are two deleted scenes included with filmmaker introductions.

Book Review “Planes: Fire & Rescue – Dusty’s Big Job”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Planes
Board book: 24 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: June 3, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Today I have completed three reviews on various new releases all focusing around “Cars” and “Planes”. I know that I love this franchise because I could easily do ten more! “Planes: Fire & Rescue – Dusty’s Big Job” is a dive into the new film in the series, which comes out this July in theaters. This hardcover book is only 24 pages but it is still a great read for kids, who love the series.

The pages have that hard stock, so it is great for little flyers as well without worries of ripping the pages. This book follows the thrilling adventures of Dusty Crophopper and all his pals. Also includes with this release is the “Planes” Storybook Deluxe app for iPhone and iPad! I love how Disney includes these bonus app because they are really nice addition and make the book only more worth wild to pick up.

Book Review “Planes: Fire & Rescue (Read-Along Storybook & CD​)”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Read-Along Storybook and CD
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: June 3, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I remember Read-Along Storybook releases but they were not on CD. I had a few when I was a very little kid on Vinyl and then after that cassette tape. I remember having “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and “The Little Mermaid”. Now with a daughter of my own, who is starting to start reading, I am able help her read and at the same time have fun. “Planes: Fire & Rescue (Read-Along Storybook & CD​)” follows the thrilling adventures of Dusty Crophopper and all his pals. It is action packed with with music, sound effects, and character voices. Now only did my daughter love this but it was a real treat for daddy as well.

My daughter has watched the first “Planes” many times already now and she has a Dusty plane toy as well, so she is quite familiar with the characters. This was not only my first experience with Read-Along Storybook & CD since I was a kid but also my daughters. She really enjoyed listening to the book and being able to follow along. The character voices also help out a lot because she kept calling out “Dusty” when listening and following along. This was such a great experience and I am sure we will be revisiting this quite often over the next few month before we see the new film “Planes: Fire & Rescue” in theaters this Summer!

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!

Dolph Lundgren talks about new film "The Package", TV series "Rescue 3" and "The Expendables 3"

Dolph Lundgren has always been one of my favorite action stars. Whether he is kicking ass as Drago in “Rocky IV”, Andrew Scott in “Universal Soldier” series or most recently as Gunner Jensen in “The Expendables” series – where he goes the action follows.  His latest film is called “The Package”, which puts him head-to-head with wrestling legend Steve Austin.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with him about this film as well as his upcoming TV series “Rescue 3” and plans for “The Expendables 3”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about about how you got involved with “The Package”?
Dolph Lundgren: As usual you read the script and then talk with the director. I liked the script because the character they thought about for me was interesting. He was a little more colorful, kind of crazy and unpredictable.

MG: What is your technique for getting into a character like The German?
DL: A lot of it if you good script is usually done for you. They have explained in the script already that what he looks like, in this case, the fact that he is dying from a disease and is becoming desperate but at the same time he is becoming educated and has a way with words. So you just work with the material and put that into the different scenes. By working on the scenes then you come up with ideas like make-up and clothing ideas. When you are on the set also a lot of it comes from working with the other actors and the director while shooting. The more colorful the character is the better described he would be in the script and that would make it easier for an actor to fall into that role.

MG: How was it going head-to-head with Steve Austin?
DL: It is always fun to work with other actors who can fight. I have done it a few times now with Jean-Claude Van Damme, (Slyvester) Stallone and Randy Couture. So with Steve Austin it is the same. He is a guy that doesn’t need a stunt double. You get to do more on the film with the actual performer, so it is fun and also it looks better in the film.

MG: What do you enjoy most about being an action hero and how has that role evolved for you over the years?
DL: I think it stayed the same for quite a long time. “Rocky IV” was my first big movie. I didn’t really plan to be an action hero, I just wanted to learn about acting. I was doing some modeling also at the time and before that I was an athlete and studying engineering. So this kind of came out of left field. So after “Rocky IV”, I think it stayed the same for like 20 years. I also lived in Spain for about 10 years to bring up my kids away from Hollywood. I got divorced a few years back, so when I came back here in 2009, I got right back into the role and did “The Expendables” and then “The Expendables 2”. Now I am trying to find roles that are a little more interesting and fun to show different sides of myself. Let’s see how that goes. I am doing a action series now for television. It is more about rescuing people than killing then [laughs], so that would be new for me.

MG: What can you tell us about that show?
DL:  Sure, It is called “Rescue 3”. It is based on this elite multi-agency task force in California which saves people. I play get to play the leader of this unit. What is interesting is that you’ve got 20 episodes to develop the character instead of 90 minutes. It is going to be fun to see what kind of things I can pull out of that and how the audience will react to it. Also one of the producers is from “Baywatch”. I am not sure how much running on the beach I will do…but we will see…hopefully not too much [laughs].

MG: Playing such iconic character like Drago in “Rocky IV”, Andrew Scott in “Universal Soldier” series and now Gunner Jensen in “The Expendables”, what has been your most memorable role in your career?
DL: I always remember “Rocky IV” since it was my first film. It has a lot of memories attached to it. The same with “The Expendables” since it has such a great cast, its special. I am back with Stallone again. I think those are the two that really jump out and have been a big milestone in my career. Then I have done some small roles recently like “The Package” have been a lot of fun.

MG: Also last year you did a film called “One in the Chamber” that I enjoyed as well.
DL: Yeah, thank you! That is another one that I kind of took out the turns a little bit. I did another project that is a similar smaller part last year called “Rush” with Randy Couture. Now that I have this TV series coming up, I am trying to play more roles that are I would say are a little more “normal” and close to myself. Since that is what I am doing in the series, so I am trying to get used to that a little more.

MG: Speaking of playing different roles, I loved your character recently also in “Small Apartments”. You got to do more comedy because you were a riot.
DL: Thanks man! I actually have this reality series coming out this June called “Race to the Scene”. The show is based on actual movie locations and memorable movie scenes. It is going to air on Reelz. It is very comedic for me and is like one big skit. So we will see how that works out also.

MG: Any update on your next directorial effort “Skin Trade”?
DL: Yes, I am still working on that. It is something I wrote a few years back with a friend of mine. I am trying to work it into the schedule. This year is very busy with the series and then possibly another “The Expendables”. I am trying to find the right co-star. I wanted to direct it, so I wrote it to play the co-lead. But the lead, the main character I want to cast somebody. So that is the guy that I am looking for. I am sure it will work itself out soon and we will find somebody.

MG: You mentioned “The Expendables 3”, can you shed any light on it?
DL: Nobody has approached me but I have just heard little things like they were working on a script and aiming to shoot in the Fall. But I do not know any particulars right now. I think within two months or so it should be all settled since they have to prep by June the latest if they are looking to start shooting in September.

Book Review "Bizzy Bear: Fire Rescue! & Pirate Adventure"

Author: Nosy Crow
Illustrator: Benji Davie
Board book: 8 pages
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Release Date: February 12, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Nosy Crow, I do not even think twice before picking it up.  I have grown to love these books.  I am new to the “Bizzy Bear” series but I think I have found a new favorite.  This book is also extremely interactive for kids.  My eight month old daughter had a blast not only listening to me reading it but also playing with it.  The book is jam-packed with interactive aspects like pulling and sliding.  It really takes the act of reading a book to a whole new level.  I highly recommend this.

Fire Rescue!: With chunky sliders to push and pull, this robust little board book is perfect for activetoddlers. Rich in visual detail and with touches of humor, it is sure to become a classic in the family library. Bizzy Bear is lending a hand at the fire station when he receives an emergency call summoning the team’s help. Join the fire fighters as they race to the rescue in this action-packed story for the very young!

Pirate Adventure: With chunky sliders to push and pull, this robust little board book is perfect for active toddlers. Rich in visual detail and with touches of humor, it is sure to become a classic in the family library. Today, Bizzy Bear is packing his ship, hoisting the Jolly Roger and setting sail on an exciting pirate adventure! Little readers will love helping Bizzy steer his ship, dig for treasure, and open the treasure chest.

Benji Davies has a wonderful vision and has provided some really fantastic illustrations. They are very colorful and easy-catching. He has worked on other volumes from the “Bizzy Bear” series. The only thing I wish is that it was longer than eight pages. Still though in those eight pages, it is very entertaining enough for maybe repeat readings. I also look forward to further installments in this series and also future books from Nosy Crow. Count me in!

3D Blu-ray Review “IMAX: Rescue 3D”

Directors: Stephen Low
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
DVD Release Date: November 6, 2012
Run Time: 46 minutes

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

There is something about the 3D in the film’s made for IMAX theatres. They really pop much more than the really theatrical 3D films. The only issue with this film is that it is only 46 minutes like all IMAX features. Nonetheless, this still packs a thrilling 46 mins and is really entertaining. If you are looking for some fantastic 3D mixed with an inspiring story and some great action, then this film is definitely a no-brainer purchase.  Since this was originally created for exhibition in IMAX theaters, you know the scale is just so amazing and perfect for 3D Blu-ray.

Official Synopsis: “Rescue 3D” plunges audiences into the grueling, highly technical work of saving lives in the face of a natural disaster and introduces a few of the heroes who step up to make it happen. The film follows first responders as they train at sea, in the air and on the ground preparing for the worst that can happen. And then it does… When a magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes the Caribbean nation of Haiti, emergency teams jump into action. Within days, a massive effort is launched that brings military and civilian responders and hardware from around the world, and then the real work begins.  “Rescue 3D” is an odyssey of real-world disaster and emergency response captured (in 3D) with unprecedented scale and impact.

Image Entertainment delivers this film beautifully on 3D Blu-ray, its 1080p transfer is flawless and really delivers the goods.  There is also a standard definition Blu-ray as well for those who don’t have 3D TV’s but I would highly recommend this experience in 3D if possible. The specia features included are not huge but good for what is included.  There are interviews with the Rescuers from the film.  We get a chance to hear their tales of inspiration and courage.  Lastly there are a few trailers included as well.

DVD Review “12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue”

Directed by: Kieth Merrill
Actors: Danielle Chuchran, D.B. Sweeney, Sean Patrick Flanery
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 9, 2012
Run Time: 102 minutes

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

I saw the first “12 Dogs of Christmas” on TV a few years ago. I wouldn’t really call it a holiday classic but it was cute. I was assuming the same would happen with this sequel. This really has that ABC Family/Lifetime TV movie quality. It is cute but really doesn’t feel like much of a Christmas film until the end, which is a little too late for me. I wish they would have focused more time around the musical event and less on basketball games etc. This is also said to be “song-filled”, that isn’t really the case. To be honest this is best served a rental or just watch on cable TV.

Synopsis: The dogs of Doverville are in trouble again…but Emma O’Connor (Danielle Churchran) is back to save them in a song-filled, seasonal extravaganza. Mean-spirited mogul Finneas James (Sean Patrick Flaner) plots to shut down the local puppy orphanage, unless Emma can come up with the money to save it. With the help of some friends, she races against time to put together a musical holiday event that might just save the day.

The special features are not bad for a glorified TV movie. They include five featurettes which go behind-the-scenes and up close with the puppies. The first is ““What’s Your Favorite Dog?” with the cast and crew discuss their personal favorite. ““Behind 12 Dogs of Christmas” looks into the production. ““Working With Writer//Director Kieth Merrill” features the cast chatting about their experience on the film. “The Basketball Game Sequence” and ““The Christmas Finale” go in-depth into how those scenes were done.