Film Review: “Jungle Cruise”

  • JUNGLE CRUISE
  • Starring:  Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Paul Giamatti
  • Directed by:  Jaume Collet-Serra
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 7 mins
  • Disney

The tale is told of the Conquistadors that sailed down the vast and dangerous river in search of the petals of a certain plant.  The petals, called “The Tears of the Moon” were said to cure any ailment and reverse any curse.  But of course, it’s just an old tale.  Right?

Full of fun, with another winning performance by Dwayne Johnson – I think if he met me he and I would be best pals immediately – “Jungle Cruise” is the latest Disney attraction to become a feature film and, I must say, it’s pretty darn entertaining.

We are introduced to the Houghton siblings – brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) is every bit the prim and proper Brit he seems to be while his sister, Lily (Blunt) is the adventurer in the family, having spent a good portion of her adult life searching for the mystical petals.  While looking for a boat to take them down river they meet Frank (Johnson) who is currently doing his best to avoid Nilo (Giamatti), the local bad guy.  If you’ve seen “Roadhouse” think of him as the jungle version of Brad Wesley.  A deal is made and the threesome head into the great unknown.

On the plus side, “Jungle Cruise” makes great use of CGI, creating a jungle, and all of its inhabitants, with amazing realism.  Tigers. Spiders. Monkeys.  You name it, they’re there and they look amazingly real.  The cast is in great form, with Johnson happily spouting puns (we call them “dad jokes” today) whenever he gets the chance.  Also well cast is Jesse Plemons, whose character, a former German army officer, is as obsessed with the petals as Lily is.  He’s a little over the top, but in a good way. 

My only major problem with the film is that it seemed about 30 minutes too long.  You can only battle zombie pirates so long before it gets boring.  If I wanted a three hour tour I’d wait for “Gilligan’s Island – the Movie,” which I’m sure will be in theatres soon!

4K/UltraHD Review: “Super 8”

  • SUPER 8
  • Starring: Kyle Chandler and Elle Fanning
  • Directed by: J,J. Abrams
  • Rated: PG 13
  • Running time: 1 hr 52 mins
  • Paramount

JJ Abrams directs a love letter to Steven Spielberg about kids and a mysterious alien in 2011’s “Super 8.” . It’s “The Goonies” meets “Close Encounters” meets “E.T.” and very entertaining. It’s also an homage to the cinematic 80s tropes and is a heartwarming tale coping with loss and grief.

“Super 8” is celebrating its 10th anniversary and what better way to celebrate than to indulge in the brand new 4K UHD Blu Ray collection. Since the film is only 10 years old, it benefits from the high definition tremendously, as this is the best the film has ever looked on video. It has been encoded in TrueDolby HD sound, giving it a demo-worthy soundtrack that also incorporates some excellent LFE subwoofer activity that’ll drive your neighbors crazy! 

The story is about a small group of teen misfits encountering a misunderstood extra-terrestrial. There’s much to absorb here though. We have a father and son who must live on without mom. We have an alcoholic father raising a daughter. We have a scientist involved in a government cover up. However the camaraderie of the kids seems to make all of these problems a bit lighter. The fact the kids are all budding filmmakers adds even more comedic flavor to the story. Throw in some of the best special effects of the time (Industrial Light & Magic) and you truly have a unique viewing experience. This film reeks of nostalgia and intentionally has a Spielbergian feel to it as well and that’s okay. It is obviously intended as it is a love letter to Steven Spielberg (the kids are perhaps the biggest indication).

“Super 8” is truly super great and highly recommended in the 4K format. .

EXTRAS

  •  Audio Commentary 
  •  The Dream Behind Super 8
  •  The Search for New Faces 
  •  Meet Joel Courtney 
  •  Rediscovering Steel Town 
  •  The Visitor Lives 
  •  The 8mm Revolution 
  •  Scoring Super 8 
  •  Do You Believe in Magic?
  •  Deconstructing the Train Crash 
  •  Deleted Scenes 

Concert Review: Anthrax “40th Anniversary Global Streaming Event”

“40th Anniversary Global Streaming Event”

Anthrax

The Den at 20ft Bear Studios, Los Angeles, CA

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Our score 4 out of 5 stars

Twenty-twenty-one marks Anthrax’s 40th anniversary as a thrash metal band, during this time the band has released 11 studio albums, been awarded multiple Gold and Platinum certifications, garnered six Grammy nominations, and racked up a host of other accolades from the media, music industry, and fans. To commemorate this achievement on July 16th the band along with Danny Wimmer Presents hosted a streaming event titled the “40th Anniversary Global Streaming Event”. The performance was shot recently in Los Angeles, CA at the Den located within 20ft Bear Studios and featured songs from all eras of the bands career along with a few surprises.   

Despite the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still causing logistical nightmares for many touring bands it does not stop the need for recognition and celebration. No truer words have been spoken than when it comes to the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest bands in thrash metal, Anthrax. From the group’s early beginnings in Queens, NY to playing some of the biggest stages in the word as part of the “Big 4” tour and along the way releasing eleven studio albums this is a career that needs to be recognized! To celebrate the occasion Anthrax and Danny Wimmer Presents put together a brand-new show which they dubbed the “40th Anniversary Global Streaming Event”. Clocking in at over 2hrs the band dove deep into their impressive catalog ensuring that all periods of their career were represented. Making it into the set alongside staples like “Caught In a Mosh”, “Madhouse” and “I Am the Law” were lesser performed songs such as a cover of the Discharge song “Protest and Survive” which had not been performed live since 1997 along with “Keep it in the Family” and “Bring the Noise” which both had not been heard live since 2015. “Bring the Noise” was a double bonus as it featured a special guest spot by Public Enemy front-man Chuck D. D’s appearance instantly took me back to my younger years and to the days when MTV actually played music. Man, those were the days! Throughout the evenings stream amidst the top-notch sound and lighting production were brief interviews provided by various musicians and media personalities where they shared their own personal thoughts or experiences with the band. I found this part of the show to be great as it helped showcase the bands reach and impact across a variety of performance genres.

If the initial concert was not enough the main portion of the stream was followed by an additional stream which was made up of rehearsal footage, interviews with the band, a tour of NYC with Scott Ian and three bonus performances. The additional footage clocked in at just over forty-five minutes bringing the entire runtime for this special to nearly 3 hours! One thing I did find to be lacking was the band only performed in its current line up consisting of Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, Scott Ian, Jon Donais. Yes, I know things can get tricky when trying to bring in past members and such however given the nature of the bands retrospective YouTube series which led up to this event recounting the bands history through new interviews with past and current members, I would have thought there could have been room to make this happen for the fans. Maybe this is something we can wish for during the 50th anniversary celebration. If you missed the streams initial debut it is available at until July 25th at anthraxlive.com. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You will not be disappointed.  

Set List:

1.) Fight’Em ‘Til You Can’t

2.) Madhouse

3.) Caught in a Mosh

4.) Metal Thrashing Mad

5.) Got the Time

6.) I Am the Law

7.) Keep It in the Family

8.) Lone Justice

9.) The Devil You Know

10.) Be All, End All

11.) Now It’s Dark

12.) Antisocial

13.) In the End

14.) Medusa

15.) Evil Twin

16.) Indians

17.) A Skeleton in the Closet

18.) Aftershock

19.) Blood Eagle Wings

20.) Bring the Noise

21.) A.I.R.

22.) Among the Living

Encore: (featured in “Behind the Scenes” stream)

23.) Breathing Lightning

24.) Protest and Survive

25.) Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)

CD Review: Motorhead “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” 40th Anniversary Edition

“No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” 40th Anniversary Edition

Motorhead

BMG

4 Discs

Our score 4 out of 5 stars

Continuing on from 2020’s year-long celebration of Motorheads iconic “Ace Of Spades” album comes the undisputed definitive live record of all time: “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith”. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of this number one album, it is being presented in a brand new deluxe four CD box set featuring a new remaster of the original album, bonus tracks and the previously unreleased – in its entirety – concert from Newcastle City Hall, March 30, 1981. If that was not enough the set also include the story of the album, previously unseen photos, reproduction poster, ticket, backstage pass and more.

If you are a Motorhead fan, then you undoubtably have crossed paths with “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” at some point during your fandom. From the iconic cover photo featuring the band on stage with a lighted airplane looming overhead to the bombastic nature of tracks like “Ace of Spades”, “Overkill” and, “Motorhead”. It is only fitting that this album was next to get the special “Anniversary” treatment. Packed in a heavy duty black and gold box are the sets four audio discs which include the newly remastered “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” (which sounds great!) the complete Newcastle City Hall (available for first time in its entirety) and a number of unreleased live versions of songs like “Stay Clean”, “Iron Horse” and “Limb From Limb”. A 28-page book complete with a bunch of unseen photos and stories detailing the events leading up to the recording accompanies the discs as well. Now some collections would stop there but not this one as like previous anniversary releases the Motorhead camp take things one louder including a reproduction all access pass, Europe 81’pin, Double sided poster, guitar pick and a Newcastle City Hall ticket which could almost pass for an original. No detail was spared as this is truly a collector’s piece and one fans of live performances will want to add to their collections.

The “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” 40th Anniversary Edition follows in the footsteps of both the “Motorhead 79” and “Ace of Spades” collections as not only does it provide fans with an enjoyable listening experience the added packaging and period correct collectibles provide an added level of immersion which only helps add to the music over all appeal. Though it would have been nice to also have included some video footage from this period the added unreleased audio tracks certainly made up for this small, short coming. Even if you already own a copy of the original do your self a favor and check out the anniversary edition as there will certainly be something in there warranting the purchase of another copy.  

The No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith CD box set contains:

  • The No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith album, remastered from the original master tapes, featuring extra bonus tracks and newly unearthed, previously unreleased sound check recordings.
  • The three full recordings of the concerts that made up No Sleep, never before released in their entirety.
  • The story of No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith told through previously unpublished and new interviews with the people that were on the road at the time.
  • Never before seen photos and rare memorabilia.
  • Double sided, A3 concert posters from 1981.
  • Reproduction USA ’81 tour pass.
  • MOTÖRHEAD ‘England’ plectrum.
  • 1981 European tour badge.
  • Reproduction Newcastle City Hall ticket.
  • Port Vale gig flyer post card.

Track Listing:

Disc 1

1.) Ace of Spades

2.) Stay Clean

3.) Metropolis

4.) The Hammer

5.) Iron Horse

6.) No Class

7.) Overkill

8.) (We Are) The Road Crew

9.) Capricorn

10.) Bomber

11.) Motorhead

12.) Over The Top

13.) Train Kept A-Rollin’

Soundcheck: Newcastle 30th March 1981

14.) Stay Clean

15.) Limb From Limb

16.) Iron Horse

Disc 2: Live at Newcastle City Hall, 30th March 1981

1.) Ace of Spades

2.) Stay Clean

3.) Over The Top

4.) Metropolis

5.) Shoot You In The Back

6.) The Hammer

7.) Jailbait

8.) Leaving Here

9.) Iron Horse

10.) Fire Fire

11.) Capricorn

12.) Too Late Too Late

13.) No Class

14.) (We Are) The Road Crew

15.) Bite The Bullet

16.) The Chase Is Better Than The Catch

17.) Overkill

18.) Bomber

19.) Motorhead

Disc 3: Live at Newcastle City Hall, 29th March 1981

1.) Ace of Spades

2.) Stay Clean

3.) Over The Top

4.) Metropolis

5.) Shoot You In The Back

6.) The Hammer

7.) Jailbait

8.) Leaving Here

9.) Fire Fire

10.) Capricorn

11.) Too Late Too Late

12.) No Class

13.) (We Are) The Road Crew

14.) Bite The Bullet

15.) The Chase Is Better Than The Catch

16.) Overkill

17.) Bomber

18.) Motorhead

Disc 4: Live at Leeds Queens, Hall, 28th March 1981

1.) Ace of Spades

2.) Stay Clean

3.) Over The Top

4.) Metropolis

5.) Shoot You In The Back

6.) The Hammer

7.) Jailbait

8.) Leaving Here

9.) Fire Fire

10.) Capricorn

11.) Too Late Too Late

12.) No Class

13.) (We Are) The Road Crew

14.) Bite The Bullet

15.) The Chase Is Better Than The Catch

16.) Overkill

17.) Bomber

18.) Motorhead

Film Review: “Black Widow” SPOILER FREE!

  • BLACK WIDOW
  • Starring:  Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz
  • Directed by:  Cate Shortland
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 13 mins
  • Disney

The expression is “timing is everything.”  I say this because, while I found “Black Widow” enjoyable, it doesn’t feel as timely to me as other films in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe for those of you who don’t understand fan-speak).

Ohio.  1995.  It’s another sunny day in the local park and Melina (Weisz) is enjoying the time watching her young daughters play.  When they get home mom prepares dinner and they all wait for dad (David Harbour) to get home.  However, the mood changes when dad announces “it’s time.”  On the move again!

Full of non-stop action and some self-depreciating humor, “Black Widow” is an origin story that attempts to inform viewers where Natasha (Johansson) came from and why she defected to the Avengers. 

The majority of the film takes place in 2016, after Theodore Ross (William Hurt) helped the United Nations enforce the Sokovia Accords, which basically made the Avengers outlaws, unable to do their stuff unless requested.  It also requires all “enhanced” people in the United States to not only identify themselves but disclose what their enhancement is.   Currently Ross is on the look for Black Widow and Captain America.  And the hunt is on.

I’m doing my best to make this a SPOILER FREE review, so I won’t be going into too many details.  Suffice it to say that the characters travel literally all over the world, a lot of stuff gets damaged and a lot of people got hurt.  The action scenes are well designed and the script fun.  But still…..

While it’s not the best film in the MCU, it certainly isn’t the worse.  And that’s a good thing.   

Concert Review: Bad Religion “Decades Season 2 2010’s

“Decades Season 2- 2010s”

Bad Religion

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

The Roxy, Hollywood, California/NoCapshows.com

Our score 4.5 out of 5 stars

Bad Religion wrapped up Season 2 of their “Decades” streaming series on June 26th from the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood. Broadcast exclusively via NoCapshows.com the final episode of season 2 followed the same format as the previous three shows which featured sets containing deep cuts and rarely performed songs from each decade of the bands career. Songs from the bands three 2010’s era releases (“The Dissent of Man”, “True North”, “Age of Unreason”) would be the focus of this evenings performance.

Veteran punk purveyors Bad Religion brought a close Season 2 of their “Decades” streaming series on June 26th with an impressive and upbeat 14 song set of 2010’s era BR material. The evenings performance featured the live debut of six different songs along with a handful of other songs some of which have not appeared live since 2010. Kicking of the night was the fast paced, guitar fueled “Past is Dead” from the album “Truth North”. The song set the evenings pace and instantly while show casing the tight knit guitar tandem of Brian Baker and Mike Dimkich. The nights first live debut would follow as the band performed the title track off their most recent studio release “Age of Unreason”. With a song this powerful I cannot believe it never made its way on to the set during the bands last outing pre-covid. Other debuts from the night’s performance included “Hello Cruel World”, “Big Black Dog”, “In Their Heart Is Right”, “Downfall” and “What Tomorrow Brings”. Despite all of these songs being newer to the BR catalog the band really showed their music prowess as each number came off as very well-rehearsed almost as if these songs have been being played day in and day out for years. Closing out the night was the song “Cyanide” from the 2010’s “The Dissent of Man”. Despite the songs ominous title, the performance was very enjoyable as it offered an added level of instrumentation courtesy of Senses Fail’s Gavin Caswell who sat in on pedal steel guitar for this song giving the closing moments of “Decades Season 2” an almost Eagles like sound and feel.

Bad Religion once again delivers with a unique and safe concert experience that fans can enjoy from the safety of their homes. The 60-minute runtime felt like just the right amount time to give viewers a quick break from their normal day and return them feeling good and recharged. No matter if you tuned in just for this show or have caught all the previous performances you really get your money’s worth as the band delivered across every performance. If you missed any of the shows I believe they will be still available to stream through the end of June at Nocapshows.com If you are waiting to see the band live an in-person have no fear as on 6/24 the band announced their rescheduled 40th Anniversary co-headlining tour with Alkaline Trio and special guests War on Women will kick off on October 15th in Riverside California. Very Cool! For more information on the tour head over to badreligion.com

Set List:

1.) Past is Dead

2.) Age of Unreason

3.) Nothing to Dismay

4.) Hello Cruel World

5.) Big Black Dog

6.) In Their Hearts Is Right

7.) The Profane Rights of Man

8.) Won’t Somebody

9.) Downfall

10.) Meeting of the Minds

11.) The Devil in Stitches

12.) Dept. of False Hope

13.) What Tomorrow Brings

14.) Cyanide

Film Review “F9: The Fast Saga”

Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Michael Rooker, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: June 25, 2021
Running time: 145 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The Fast & Furious franchise titled The Fast Saga has not run out of gas just yet. “F9” is completely over-the-top, action packed and one hell of a blast to watch. Who knew that this franchise would be going here nine films strong. Listen we all know that these things could never happen in real life but they are fun to watch on the big screen. I recently re-watched this franchise from the beginning and it was really fun to see how this series has evolved from street racing to international spy heists…and it has been so much fun to watch. This latest film gives this franchise a kick right into outer space…literally! Where can this franchise possible go next?

Official Premise: “Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he’s going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob (John Cena, the upcoming The Suicide Squad).”

I am personally a big John Cena fan from the WWE and it was awesome getting to see him play the baddie. I felt that the film also gave an extra nod to the ladies of the Fast Saga. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a female only spinoff happen down the line. The visual effects are beyond amazing. There is nothing that looks “too CGI” or anything like that. The Fast Saga is well known for blending actual practical effects with digital effects.

Like I mentioned above, I have no clue where this franchise could go in the future, so the next two films are going to be a big mystery. But from a franchise that started 20 years ago, this week in fact (Happy anniversary), on the streets to literally flying outer space in this film, and while still keeping things fun and existing, I don’t see this franchise having any issues in the future. This movie needs to be seen on a big screen with popcorn and concessions!

Theater Review: “Godspell” – Kansas City

  • GODSPELL
  • Starlight Theater
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • June 22, 2021

45 years ago tonight, the musical “Godspell” opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theater.  It had been performed in workshops and on the road since 1971 so this year actually marks the show’s 50th Anniversary.  What a great show to celebrate the return of live musical theater to Kansas City.

Most people know the show thanks to the song “Day by Day,” which was a hit on the radio in the summer of 1972, but may have never seen the show.  The story basically tells the story of Jesus, from beginning to end, in song and with a surprising amount of humor.  Obviously the show has been “punched up” since 1971, and jokes revolving around COVID, Netflix and the Kardashians hit their mark.  There’s even a brief mention of one of the “other” biblical musicals, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” which, along with “Jesus Christ Superstar,” completed the Biblical Musical Trifecta!,

With a musical score by Stephen Schwartz, who also created “Pippin” and “Wicked,” the show is an ensemble extravaganza, with each cast member creating their own identity.  What made the show special was that every actor on stage had Kansas City roots.  The entire cast was brilliant but I’d like to give special mention to Eric Geil (Jesus), Patrick Lewallen (Judas) and Shon Ruffin (Shon), whose amazing voice reminded me of the great Nell Carter. 

As usual, Starlight was most accommodating to the audience, with a beautiful night to go along with a beautiful presentation.  “Godspell” continues its run in Kansas City through Sunday, June 28.  You can buy tickets HERE.

Quite simply, “Godspell” is a blessed return to musical theater!

Royal Panda Casino NZ Review

Introduction

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Royal Panda casino has up to 3000 games in its library. It is competing with other big casinos that have been existing even before it was created. This is one of the characteristics that single it out for excellence. Most of its games have slot titles, and it offers a range of table games and a great live dealer section.

Royal Panda offers games from the best software providers, such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech.

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Royal Panda offers over 1300 video slots, 140 classic video slots, and 13 progressive jackpots. In addition, it has different collections of slots in its library for players to play and win big.

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Royal Panda casino is suitable for most mobile devices. Most players prefer to play casino games on their phones, which is made possible via mobile apps or online betting sites.

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By

Concert Review: Bad Religion “Decades Season 2 1980’s”

“Decades Season 2- 1980s”

Bad Religion

Saturday, June 5th, 2021

The Roxy, Hollywood, California/NoCapshows.com

Our score 4.5 out of 5 stars

Bad Religion kicked off Season 2 of their “Decades” series on June 5th from the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood. Broadcast exclusively via NoCapshows.com its the first of four episodes which will feature deep cuts and rarely performed songs. Like season 1 each episode of season 2 will focus on a specific era of the bands 40+ year career. Up first was the 1980’s which pulled songs from four different releases (“How Could Hell Be Any Worse?”, “Into the Unknown”, “Suffer” and “No Control”) some of which have not been performed live in over 30 years.

Capitalizing on the success of the first four “Decades” live streams veteran punk purveyors Bad Religion are back with a brand-new set of shows which take fans deeper down the BR rabbit hole. Though the format and look of “Decades Season 2” is very similar to that of season 1 the setlists could not be any more different. Over the course of 60 minutes Vocalist Greg Graffin and company took viewers deep into the group’s massive song archives to revisit some of the bands lesser performed tracks from the groups first four studio releases. Prior to the show starting I was skeptical as to how the set was going to go as it was being touted as having completely different songs with no repeats from the subsequent performances. How were we going to watch a Bad Religion show and not hear songs like “Infected”, “Sorrow” and “21st Century Digital Boy”? Could the rarities fill in for these long-time staples which have had fans coming out on droves since their release? Well, right off the bat any fears I had about the set not living up to the standard Bad Religion always puts forth were quickly put to bed as the band ripped through tracks like “Voice of God is Government”, “Doing Time” and, “Damned to Be Free” all of which have been absent from live performances since 2008. The band even dipped in to “Against the Grain” (yes, it was technically released in 1990) to perform the Brett Gurewitz penned track “Walk Away” for its first time ever! Pretty cool from a fan’s perspective for sure. Easily my favorite performances of the night were two songs pulled from the widely panned 1983 release “Into the Unknown”. The somber “…You Give Up” set the stage nicely for the keyboard fueled “It’s Only Over When..” which came complete with a key slide that would bring Rick Wakeman to his knees and one that had me cracking up for the next few seconds. This combined with some comedic interview Segway’s really made for a good watch.

Clocking in at around 60 minutes Bad Religion’s “Decades” gives you what you want as a fan and then lets you get back to your day. With lives shows slowly starting to happen across the country and around the world there is undoubtably still some skepticism around if things will be safe. The latest virtual offering from Bad Religion alleviates those worries and offers a fun, enjoyable concert performance which you can watch any time and, from wherever you are comfortable. With three more shows coming in season 2 and the option to be able to go back and re-watch season 1 Greg, Mike, Brian, Jamie and Jay have you covered until you are ready to get back out there and see them face to face.

Set List:

1.) Voice of God is Government

2.) Politics

3.) Yesterday

4.) Delirium of Disorder

5.) Billy

6.) Sometimes It Feels Like…

7.) …You Give Up

8.) It’s Only Over When

9.) What Can You Do?

10.) Part II (The Numbers Game)

11.) Part III

12.) Part IV (The Index Fossil)

13.) Land of Competition

14.) Doing Time

15.) Damned to Be Free

16.) I Want Something More

17.) Turn on the Light

18.) When?

19.) Walk Away

20.) Sanity

21.) Faith in God

22.) Pessimistic Lines

23.) Progress

To watch Season 1 and 2 of Bad Religion “Decades” visit Nocapshows.com here

Toy Review: Playmobil “Back to the Future” Marty’s Truck & Hoverboard Chase Set

“Back to the Future”

Marty’s Pick-up Truck/Back to the Future II Hoverboard Chase

Playmobil

Our Score 4 out of 5 stars

Playmobil expand on their “Back to the Future” line with the addition of two brand new pieces. “Marty’s Pick-up Truck” and the “Hoverboard Chase” playset are the latest elements from the film franchise to receive the Playmobil treatment allowing both toy and film fans to further recreate classic scenes from the iconic movie franchise right in their very own home.

First up is “Marty’s Pick-up Truck”. If you remember this was the truck featured briefly at the end of Part I that Marty receives from his parents after returned to 1985 thanks to the help of Doc and the lighting strike which struck the Hill Valley Clock in 1955. Included with the all black pick-up truck which features four rubber, oversized tires, light bar and tow hitch are three new figures which coincide with the film scene. You get Marty, Jennifer Parker outfitted as they are in the final scene of the first film along with Biff Tannen who is dressed in a green track suite and comes complete with window spray and a buffing towel. This figure really made us laugh and was certainly a favorite. Just like the previously released DeLorean and Clocktower Advent Calendar pieces no details were spared as Marty’s truck features its own “McFly85” vanity plates and all three figures feature detailed, screen accurate costuming which from a collector standpoint is really nice to see.

Next up we checked out the first entry from the futuristic “Back to the Future Part II”. The “Hoverboard Chase” playset features one of the films most popular scenes as we see Marty get a custom to what skateboarding is like in 2015 when he is chased by Griff Tannen through a futuristic Hill Valley. Included in the set are four screen accurate figures (Marty, Griff, Dr. Brown and Police Officer) along with two hover boards and a police motorcycle which transforms to a hover cycle. Also included is the pond/town square area where this epic scene takes place. Again, no detail was missed as the pond and walk area feature multicolored flowers, signage featuring Mayor Goldie Wilson and the comedic “Jaws 19” movie sign. Playmobil doesn’t stop there! For those who purchased the previously DeLorean you get a couple upgrades in the way of the Mr. Fusion attachment and a replacement cover for the hook holder. My son really enjoyed these additions as not only did it put a fresh spin on an older toy, but it now looked just like the one in the film and, best of all he didn’t have to worry about how he was going his next batch of plutonium.

Playmobil continues to make great products that are enjoyable for children and adults of all ages and these two additions to the “Back to the Future” line is no exception. Both products offer tons of features and details which translate into hours of imagination and play. Though the updated Marty and Doc figures are great, we have already seen a couple versions of these characters be released. I think it would have been better to have provided the updated wardrobe to use on characters you may already own allowing for the inclusion of other figures from the film like Marty’s parents, Mayor Goldie or Principal Strickland however that aside we still had lots of fun with these toys and we can’t wait to see what Playmobil has lined up for “Back to the Future III”.

Film Review: “A Quiet Place Part II”

  • A QUIET PLACE PART II
  • Starring: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds
  • Directed by: John Krasinski
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 1 hr 37 mins
  • Paramount Pictures 

Three years ago, “A Quiet Place” became THE breakout film of the year as it grossed over $188 million domestically and landed in many top ten lists. Its long-awaited sequel, “A Quiet Place Part II” picks up right where its predecessor left off and it does not disappoint. From the get-go, we are put on the edge of our seats as this fast-paced, sci-fi/horror flick keeps our hearts racing a million miles per hour. A smart script and superb direction by John Krasinski help make this film the first true “must-see” of the year. 

(If you have somehow not seen the original film yet, then do not read this any further.) When we last saw the Abbott family, the father, Lee (Krasinski) had sacrificed himself so that his family would have a chance to live. Thanks to the subsequent resourcefulness of his deaf daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and the tenacity of his wife, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), not only were they able to survive, but they also found a way to kill the sound sensitive aliens by utilizing Regan’s cochlear implant. 

“Part II” takes us back to Day 1 when a normal afternoon of little league baseball turns into an extinction-level event for humanity. After this brief flashback, we are flung forward to day #474 of the invasion. Evelyn and her three children – Regan, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and her infant son – gather up what possessions they need and make a silent, perilous walk into town. 

As they reach the deserted town’s railroad depot, they accidentally make enough noise to attract an alien. It is at this point they stumble upon Emmett (Cillian Murphy, “Inception”), an old friend of theirs who has lost everyone and everything. He is initially adamant they leave, warning Evelyn there is not anyone left worth saving. However, Regan figures out a way for a much broader application of her cochlear implant and it sets into motion events which put everyone’s lives in serious jeopardy. 

“A Quiet Place Part II’ is a superb work of cinema as it excels in all three major phases – writing, acting, and directing. Good luck in finding a flaw with the script. In fact, you will have a better chance at finding a needle in a haystack first. Blunt delivers a perfect blend of strength and vulnerability as does Simmonds, who again demonstrates with a wonderful range that she is a star in the making. Lastly, Krasinski successfully duplicates the pacing, tension, and thrills of the first film, which earned an Oscar nod for Best Sound Editing. 

Overall, “A Quiet Place Part II” already has a good shot at being on a lot of top ten lists again when 2021 is over.

Film Review: “Cruella”

  • CRUELLA
  • Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson
  • Directed by: Craig Gillespie
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 2 hrs 14 mins
  • Walt Disney 

There is nothing cruel about watching the new Walt Disney prequel “Cruella,” starring former Academy Award winner Emma Stone in a role she absolutely nails. Unlike 1996’s “101 Dalmatians,” in which Glenn Close played Cruella with over-the-top, maniacal behavior, Stone infuses Cruella with emotional complexities that draw us into a character who becomes much more than a punchline. Ultimately, there is an almost Joaquin Phoenix-as-Joker vibe to Stone’s performance, just not nearly as dark. However, do not be worried, “Cruella” is not all doom-and-gloom as there are enough light-hearted and even tender moments to keep it from falling too far down the rabbit hole. 

As a little girl, Cruella goes by Estella (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland, “Krypton”). Raised by her loving mother, Catherine (Emily Beecham, “Daphne”), Estella manages to get into a private boarding school. Her mother warns her, though, to not be rebellious and cruel, but the fashion curious Estella cannot prevent herself from getting into continuous trouble. Eventually, Estella wears out her welcome and is expelled. 

Estella’s expulsion does not turn her world upside down. In fact, she views it as a new adventure complete with a new puppy she finds. However, reality of how cruel the world can be takes place when Catherine dies and Estella becomes homeless in London’s city streets when she encounters two young boys who are always up to no good. 

Flash forward ten years later when the trio of Estella, Jasper (Joel Fry, “Game of Thrones”) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser, “Richard Jewell”) are busy stealing from anyone they can. Yet Estella still has her eyes set on the world of fashion and a series of lucky events puts her into the employment of the most powerful fashion designer in London – The Baroness (Emma Thompson). At the pinnacle of her happiness, Estella learns a dark secret and Cruella begins to take over. 

Stone has all the appearances of being born to play this role in what is an overall terrific origin story. Her portrayal never becomes too unhinged, and she even manages to do the previously unthinkable – make Cruella De Vil a sympathetic character. Of course, she was guided with the steady direction of Craig Gillespie (“I, Tonya”), had a fresh and inventive script to work with, and shared the screen with the equally fantastic Thompson who makes The Baroness about as unsympathetic and diabolical as they come. What should also be mentioned are the film’s fantastic costume designs which will hopefully not be forgotten about when Oscar season rolls again, not that more than 10 or 12 people will be watching it anyway. 

Overall, “Cruella” is probably not for small children. Let them watch the 1961 animated version instead. Otherwise, “Cruella” is a wonderful, two-plus hour escape.

Blu-ray Review: “The Marksman”

  • THE MARKSMAN
  • Starring: Liam Neeson, and Teresa Ruiz
  • Directed by: Robert Lorenz
  • Rated: PG 13
  • Running time: 1 hr 48 mins
  • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Jim (Liam Neeson) s a former Marine who lives a solitary life as a rancher along the Arizona-Mexico border. But his peaceful existence soon comes crashing down when he tries to protect a boy on the run from members of a vicious cartel. And that’s pretty much the story here. Though Neeson gives a solid performance, the story may be a bit too formulaic. 

Jim basically has had some rough times. He lost his wife to cancer, and his property is being foreclosed. All of this happens in the beginning of the film, so it’s hardly a spoiler. Jim spends his days sport hunting with his canine companion, Jackson. He’s excellent with a rifle, which earned him a medal in the Marine Corps. Jim reports anything suspicious to his step-daughter, a border patrol agent, whilst hunting on the grounds. A woman and her son are on the run from the Mexican drug cartel and Jim gets involved. What I do appreciate about this film is that it’s a road film. Like Rainman,” most of the film takes place on freeways, highways and small town bi-ways. And with the cartel in hot pursuit, you can rest assured that it’s going to be a helluva commute.

 Now Jim’s life has taken a turn. He’s on the run with a kid (Miguel) who is stunned into silence due to his mother being shot by the cartel. Jim makes a promise to the kid’s mother to take him to her sister in Chicago. Unbeknownst to Jim, the cartel can track his whereabouts every time he uses his debit card with a sophisticated computer system. And so what follows is a series of close calls with the cartel and the bonding of Jim and Miguel.

Much of the film is uninspired as we have seen it before and as I previously mentioned, a bit formulaic. Screenplay is weak but the more interesting scenes are when Jim and Miguel are bonding. As I also mentioned, I personally love  road films and “The Marksman” is a road film indeed. Here Neeson does put on a good performance with what little he’s been given. It’s just Liam fighting the baddies. They are now calling his films “Your yearly Neesoning”. Overall it’s worth a rental but it comes up short in comparison to “Honest Thief” and “The Commuter.”

SPECIAL FEATURES

Making of “The Marksman” featurette.

4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Review: “Elysium”

  • ELYSIUM
  • Starring: Matt Damon and Jodie Foster
  • Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
  • Rated: R
  • Running time: 1 hr 49 mins
  • Tri Star Pictures

Neil Blomkamp’s futuristic action popcorn ride is very impressive with visual effects. One thing’s for sure, subtlety has never been an inspiration in Blomkamp’s body of work. “Elysium” addresses a sociopolitical concern, very similar to Blomkamp’s earlier gem, “Districkt 9.:” the policing of a state where the socially unequal, i.e. the poor, suffer grave depravities. “Elysium” takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles where the state has separated it’s citizens, with the majority remaining in Los Angeles while the wealthy 1% live free of the world’s anxieties in a halo-like space habitat orbiting Earth called Elysium.


Matt Damon stars as Max, a parolee dying of radiation poisoning who is fighting to be smuggled to Elysium in order to take advantage of the advanced Healthcare system that exists there. He still works at the industrial plant where he got the radiation poisoning and is told that it will kill him in 5 days. The society is partially policed by robots, which Max consistently has unfavorable encounters with. Max realizes he has little time left to live but Elysium has machines that can cure him which motivates him to get to the orbiting station. Max teams up with a rebel group to steal information from a company that can free the citizens of Los Angeles and make everyone a citizen of Elysium. But in order for this to happen, Max has to be tagged with bionic parts to his arms and back while a computer chip needs to be implanted in his brain. This allows him to be more agile in fighting and the chip to his brain will give him access to the company, He also has to get through Defense Secretary Delacourt, played by Jodie Foster, who will stop at nothing to keep the citizens of Los Angeles out of Elysium. The results pits the rebels against the state in a battle that is full of great visuals and action.

 
I watched the film on a UHD 4K Blu Ray, and the picture and sound are astounding. A notable upgrade from the previous Blu Ray release where contrast and brightness are improved delivering a sharper image with vivid whites and deeper blacks. Sound is amazing with plenty of activity in the surround fields and lots of LFE activity for the subwoofer. The sub-woofer sound is smooth as the low level sounds will not overextend your speaker. The 2160p picture, which is double that of a Blu Ray picture produces breathtaking imagery, showcasing the visual effects with remarkable clarity. The Elysium station has to been seen to be believed! The orbiting station is a wonderful work of digital effects. And seeing it on 4K Blu Ray will astound you. It took me back to Star Trek Beyond (which I also have on 4K Blu Ray) where the docking station is a mixture of ship technology and citizenry. I had a great time with “Elysium.” It’s films like this that make me glad that I invested in a 4K Blu Ray player.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Exoskeletons, Explosions, and the Action Choreography of Elysium 
  • The Hero, The Psychopath, and the Characters of Elysium
  • The Art of the Elysium Miniatures 
  • Bugatti 2154 
  • Theatrical Trailer 1 
  • Theatrical Trailer 2 
  • International Trailer
  • Visions of 2154 Interactive Gallery 
  • Extended Scene: Kruger Wakes Up 
  • The Journey to Elysium: Part 1 – Envisioning Elysium ()
  • The Journey to Elysium: Part 2 – Capturing Elysium 
  • The Journey to Elysium: Part 3 – Enhancing Elysium 
  • Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium 
  • The Technology of 2154 
  • In Support of Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium 
  • Engineering Utopia: A Society in the Sky