Dreamworks Animation’s Magical and Critically-acclaimed Adventure, "Rise of the Guardians, Debuts on Blu-ray™ and DVD



Perfect For Easter Baskets, Gift Pack Arrives March 12th With The Heartwarming Film AND Two Hopping Toy Eggs! 

HOLLYWOOD, CA (February 13, 2013) – Praised by critics and moviegoers of all ages, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: DWA) spectacular and heartfelt adventure RISE OF THE GUARDIANS soars onto  Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D™ and DVD on March 12, 2013.  Hailed as “brilliant” and “the best family film of the year” (Joel Amos, MovieFanatic.com) with “spellbinding power” (James Verniere,Boston Herald) and “dazzling animation” (Tom Long, Detroit News), RISE OF THE GUARDIANS received outstanding audience reactions and a coveted ‘A’ Cinemascore.  DreamWorks Animation’s newest animated adventure has captured the imagination of audiences worldwide with a fun-filled and magical story about the legendary guardians—Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Sandman—together for the first time!  When the evil Pitch threatens to take over the world, it’s up to our beloved heroes to protect the hopes and dreams of children everywhere.  Filled with non-stop action and laughs, it’s a dazzling family film that’s being hailed as “an instant classic” (Nancy Jay, Daybreak USA).

Just in time for Easter, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS will be available in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Pack with UltraViolet™ or single-disc DVD, each of which includes two delightful hopping toy eggs inspired by the ones seen in the film (while supplies last—quantities are limited).  The combo pack and single-disc DVD also include special features that take viewers behind-the-scenes to learn more about the magic used to bring the story to life.

Featuring an all-star cast of voice talent including Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS delivers humor, adventure and exceptional entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.  The film will also be available on March 12th in a three-disc Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Pack with UltraViolet and for digital download on February 26th.


DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Pack includes two hopping toy eggs, plus almost an hour of bonus features:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray):

Feature film in high definition


Blu-ray Exclusive Bonus Features:

  • Jack Frost Snowball Showdown!—Use your remote to duck and dodge snowballs!
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors with Sandy—See if you can beat the Sandman in this classic game.


Additional Bonus Features:

  • Behind the Magic—Explore the filmmakers’ journey to create Rise of the Guardians’ enthralling look, characters, effects and music:
    • Dreaming Up the Look
    • Naughty & Nice: Designing Memorable Characters
    • Enchanting Effects
    • Creating an Epic Score
  • The Man Behind the Guardians—Learn how DreamWorks Animation worked with author William Joyce to bring his novels to life.
  • Dreamers and Believers—A look at the cast and characters of Rise of the Guardians.
  • Sandy’s Dream Guide—The Sandman helps interpret your dreams in this interactive guide.
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary—With director Peter Ramsey and producers Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein.


Disc 2 (DVD):

Feature film in standard definition

Bonus features:

  • Dreamers and Believers
  • Sandy’s Dream Guide
  • More Magic (DVD-ROM)—Printable egg holders, coloring sheets and more—perfect for Easter fun!
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • Previews


DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians  Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack

The Rise of the Guardians Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Pack includes the following:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray 3D):

Feature film in high definition and 3D


Disc 2 (Blu-ray):

Same as Blu-ray contents listed above


Disc 3 (DVD):

Same as DVD contents listed above


DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians  DVD

The single-disc DVD includes two hopping toy eggs, plus the following:

Feature film in standard definition

Bonus features:

  • Dreamers and Believers
  • Sandy’s Dream Guide
  • More Magic (DVD-ROM)
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary
  • Previews

UltraViolet is a new way to collect, access and enjoy movies.  With UltraViolet, consumers can add movies to their digital collection in the cloud, and then stream or download them – reliably and securely – to a variety of devices.

About DreamWorks Animation SKG

DreamWorks Animation creates high-quality entertainment, including CG animated feature films, television specials and series and live entertainment properties, meant for audiences around the world. The Company has world-class creative talent, a strong and experienced management team and advanced filmmaking technology and techniques. DreamWorks Animation has been named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by FORTUNE® Magazine for five consecutive years. In 2013, DreamWorks Animation ranks #12 on the list.  All of DreamWorks Animation’s feature films are produced in 3D. The Company has theatrically released a total of 25 animated feature films, including the franchise properties of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Puss in Boots. The Company’s theatrical releases for 2013 are The Croods on March 22, Turbo on July 19 and Mr. Peabody & Sherman on November 1.

About Paramount Home Media Distribution

Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.  PPC is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands.  The PHMD division oversees PPC’s home entertainment, digital and television distribution activities worldwide. The division is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment content on behalf of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and CBS and for providing home entertainment fulfillment services for DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment.  PHMD additionally manages global licensing of studio content and distribution across worldwide digital and television distribution platforms including online, mobile and portable devices and emerging technologies.


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DVD Review “LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu – Rise of Green Ninja”

Actors: Vincent Tong, Kirby Morrow, Michael Adamthwaite, Brent Miller, Paul Dobson
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: December 11, 2012
Run Time: 154 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love LEGO’s? “LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” is the #1 rated show on Cartoon Network with boys ages 6-11. Well I know I am not in that age-range but this show still has incredible entertainment value, even for a 30 year old. This DVD includes the first seven action-packed episodes from season two of the show. The season consists of 13 episodes, which is actually quite short for an animated series. Since the show is so popular, there is a third season on the way but not until 2014. So if your kids love this show, this will be a good way to hold them over – besides TV repeats, of course. IF you like LEGO (who doesn’t) and ninja (who doesn’t again), this is a no-brainer both for young and old..er kids.

Official Synopsis: ONE NINJA MUST TRAIN TO SAVE THEIR WORLD. The great Devourer has been defeated, but Lord Garmadon is still at large and what’s worse – he now holds the four Golden Weapons of Spinjitzu, and soon he commands both the Serpentine and the Ninjas’ flying ship ‘The Bounty’. The four Ninja must train Lloyd for his confrontation with his father, but with limited powers and without a home, it proves more difficult than they could have imagined. And Lloyd is not exactly an A-student either. Garmadon is bent on preventing Lloyd meeting his full potential. He unleashes a series of devious plots including the ultimate Mega weapon, enemy pirates, dark replicas of the four ninjas and a dangerous race across Ninjago. The destiny of the Green Ninja has yet to be fulfilled.

The episodes included are: “Darkness Shall Rise”, “Pirates vs. Ninja”, “Double Trouble”, “Ninjaball Run”, “Child’s Play”, “Wrong Place, Wrong Time” and “The Stone Army”. “LEGO Ninjago” has quickly become not only the fastest growing but also the top-selling line in LEGO history. Keep an eye out since The complete second season and complete series of “LEGO: Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu” are scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-Ray in early 2013. But for the time being this release will make a really nice stocking stuffer. Hint-Hint parents! I will be there waiting for the new episodes and releases of this fun show.  Now if you excuse me I need to go put in some hours on my latest purchase from LEGO Ninjago toy line.

William Joyce talks about the film “Rise of the Guardians” and book series “The Guardians of Childhood”

William Joyce is the author of the “The Guardians of Childhood” series, which is being made into the film, “Rise of the Guardians”. William also served as executive producer on the film. William recently released the third novel in “The Guardians of the Childhood” series, called “Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies” and also a picture book “Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies”. Media Mikes had a chance to ask William a few questions about turning his series into a film and chatted about his new books.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your work on DreamWorks Animation’s “Rise of the Guardians”?
William Joyce: The upcoming DreamWorks Animation “Rise of the Guardians”, set for release on November 21, is based on my book series “The Guardians of Childhood.” It takes place 200 years after the team’s formation in the books; it tells the story of Jack’s recruitment to the team and centers around four of the guardians; Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny. The Guardians of Childhood book series tells a sweeping tale of the ongoing battle between Pitch, lord of nightmares, and the eponymous guardians, consisting of figures such as the Man in the Moon, Nicolas St. North, the Tooth Fairy, Bunnymund the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, Mother Goose, and Jack Frost. I also worked as the executive producer, so I collaborated on all aspects of the film. Design, story, and casting.

MG: What was the most challenging aspect of bringing “The Guardians of Childhood” to screen?
WJ: Narrowing the story down to a 90 minute film, then bringing that story to the screen. Animated feature films are titanic endeavors, and take years to realize.

MG: Tell us about the next novel in the series “Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies”?
WJ: Toothania, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies, is the third and the newest in The Guardian series. It delves into the secret world of the third Guardian, the mysterious Tooth Fairy. This third chapter book presents you to Her Royal Highness, Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairies. There’s a lot more to her than has been previously understood.

MG: How many other book do you have planned in this series?
WJ: The Guardians of Childhood Series and The Guardians series will consist in total of thirteen books; the seven picture books in The Guardians of Childhood series and six chapter books in the Guardians of Childhood series.

MG: How did the idea for picture book “The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie” come about?
WJ: I’ve been working on a unified mythology for the icons of childhood since my daughter asked me if Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy knew each other. As a parent, I felt that Santa Claus, the Man in the Moon, all of them had become a little diminished. They deserve to be thought of as grand. Heroic. Epic. If Spider-Man has an origins mythology, then why not the characters we actually believed in? Creating a voice for their stories became my mission.

MG: Tell us about the road to “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” winning the Best Animated Short in 2011 Oscars?
WJ: We started Moonbot Studios three years ago, in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s an unlikely place to have an animation studio. We are, I believe, the 104th largest city in the United States. But we love it. Shreveport is home. To do the short we had to mortgage our houses and hunt for every nickel we could rub together. It was a huge risk. But we believed in ourselves and the story. Most of our employees were fresh out of college. Working at Moonbot was their first job. When we won, the whole city, the entire state of Louisiana, went nuts. It was like a Frank Capra movie come to life. They gave us a ticker tape parade, a key to the city, and sang for he’s a jolly good fellow. Our lives became like the movies we’d been inspired by and loved. It was surreal, unspeakably happy and perfect. But now our employees are totally spoiled.

MG: What can you tell us about your next film “Epic”?
WJ: Epic is an upcoming 3D computer animated fantasy-adventure film based on my children’s book “The Leaf Men.” It’s an epic adventure that just happens to be in the secret world of a teenage girl’s backyard. A race o tiny beings threatened by an ancient evil. I like to think of it as an intimate epic. It’s being produced by Blue Sky Studios and directed by Chris Wedge, the director of Ice Age (2002) and Robots (2005). It stars the voices of Beyoncé Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Knoxville, Aziz Ansari, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, and Steven Tyler. The film is scheduled to be released on May 24, 2013.

Book Review “The Art of Rise of the Guardians”

Author: Ramin Zahed
Hardcover: 158 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: October 22, 2012

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

If you are aware of “The Guardians of Childhood” series, which “Rise of the Guardians” is based off of, then you will appreciate the artwork from the series. The world that was created for this movie are provided in very high-detail through this book.  The children’s series is written by William Joyce, who’s also the film’s executive producer and gives a very nice foreword on the book.

“The Art of Rise of the Guardians” includes wonderful concept art for the DreamWorks animated film. The basis of the book is focused on the six main characters: North, Bunny, Tooth, Sandy, Jack Frost and Pitch. There is character profiles, as well as 3D and classic animation for each. Like I mentioned about the detail, besides just the character profiles, there is landscapes and sketches of the environments that were developed.  In the book, you get to see the work of all these fantastic artists and craftspeople who have collaborated in order to create DreamWorks Animation’s most ambitious films to date.

In the film “Rise of the Guardians”, North (Alec Baldwin), Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman), Tooth (Isla Fisher), and Sandman try to recruit the mysterious Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to help them stop Pitch (Jude Law) from putting an end to childhood belief and sending the world into eternal darkness.

Ramin Zahed is the editor in chief of Animation Magazine.  The man knows animation and gives this film art book the right treatment.  Alec Baldwin who voices North, gives a wonderful foreword.  The book itself has this very simplistic feeling.  Some of the pages are very simple, while some are jam-packed and extremely colorful.  I feel that it is really a wonderful balance of the two. The pastel of colors used in the book and throughout the film really pop-out here in the art-of book.  I am looking forward to this film very much and now more so since reading this book.

DVD Review “High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era”

Directed by: Jason Paul Collum
Starring: Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer
Distributed by: Breaking Glass Pictures
Release Date: August 28, 2012
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 63 minutes

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

I am a total fan of B-horror movies & the Scream Queen era of 1980s thru early 90s. I grew up on these films and they are always going to be my favorites. Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer are definitely the original Scream Queen’s. Films like “Return of the Living Dead”, “The Slumber Party Massacre” and “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” were and still are some of my favorite 80’s horror films. They are timeless and only get better with age. This documentary gives some really great insight into birth of the VHS horror days and the original Scream Queens!

You can really tell that this is a real passion project for Jason Paul Collum. Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”), Brinke Stevens (“The Slumber Party Massacre”) and Michelle Bauer (“Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers”) really seem to have a great time telling their stories of how they became cult icons of the late 1980s. It also gives insight into what they are doing now as well, so it is a great revisit into their careers. If were were a horror fan and a teenage boy in the late 80’s, then you will know how much these film’s have impacted your life. “High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era” is fun, informative and a real treat for any fan of the genre.

The unrated DVD also comes with some great special features for hardcore horror fans. There are bonus interview footage with Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer, which is definitely worth checking out. There is also fun footage from the Flashback Weekend of Horror convention Q&A. If you caught this film on television on Chiller and censored BTW, you need to see this unrated cut with all the boobs included that made 80’s horror great. Fans of classic 80’s films are going to NEED to pick up this release, no question!

Rise to Remain’s Austin Dickinson talks about new album and tour

 Austin Dickinson is the vocalist for the heavy metal group Rise to Remain. The group is set to release a new full length album titled “City of Vultures” in June. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Austin recently about the new album and the bands plans for the rest of the year.

Adam Lawton: How would you describe your album “City of Vultures”?
Austin Dickinson: It’s the product of us knocking our heads together and trying to make what we wanted to hear from a new metal band like ourselves: Fast, heavy, emotive, technical, convicted and melodic. I think that we were very meticulous in writing the songs. We wanted the whole thing to flow from beginning to end. In terms of sound, we wanted it to quite simply sound huge! That’s where Colin came in.

AL: What was it like working with producer Colin Richardson?
AD: It was amazing! He’s a huge producer in our genre and one of the best in the world at mixing. It was a massive honor to have him manning the helm along with our co-producer Carl Bown. They were a fantastic team and we’re very proud of the results.

AL: Do you have plans to release any more videos for any of the songs on the album?
AD: Well, apart from the five we’ve done already, we’re constantly throwing the idea around but who knows! Maybe it’s time for some NEW music accompanied by a video? We will never say never that’s for sure.

AL: What do you think makes this album stand out from others in the same genre?
AD: I suppose just because it’s us, it sounds like us, it’s made by us, so in that way I think it sounds pretty signature. Is it better than everything else out there? You’d have to tell me that, because I don’t know. There are some amazing bands out there, and we’re honored to be in the same league as them. Metal has a very strong representation right now.

AL: What are the bands plans for the rest of the year?
AD: We’re about to do Rock Am Ring/Rock in Germany. We just finished Sonisphere in Spain, and then we do Download Festival and continue over to the United States to be part of the Vans Warped Tour! Everything after that is top secret.


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Concert Review: “End Game Tour 2012” Rise Against, A Day To Remember &Title Fight

“End Game Tour 2012”
Rise Against, A Day To Remember, Title Fight
Date: Tuesday, May 8th 2012
Venue: New York State Fairgrounds

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Rise Against played the Chevy Court at the New York State Fairgrounds on Tuesday, May 8th as part of the bands “End Game 2012 Tour” The tour is in support of the band’s latest album of the same name which was release earlier this year. The tour line-up also featured Title Fight and the always entertaining A Day To Remember. Even though the weather at times was not the best causing a number of giant mud pits each of the three bands put on a solid performance for the assembled crowd.

Title Fight from Kingston, PA kicked off the show and received a warm reception from the crowd which was a mixture of styles and ages. Crowd favorite A Day To Remember were up next and once the band hit the stage the energy level went through the roof. The bands set featured flying beach balls, toilet paper and a giant hamster ball which singer Jeremy McKinnon used to walk over the top of the crowd. The later part of the bands set featured some of the bands more popular songs such as “Better Off This Way” and “All I Want”. As the storm clouds began to move in and day shifted to night headliner Rise Against would take the stage. After a brief intro taken from the 1970 film “Catch-22” the band launched into a thought provoking, energy filled set. The band wasted no time and played song after song. Though the band sounded muffled at time their set was still very tight. The set featured a number of Rise Against staples as well as some new songs off of the “End game” album. Later in the set fans were treated to an acoustic performance of “Swing Life Away” and a few other acoustic numbers. The band closed out the night with an extended version of the hit song “Savior” which left the muddy masses tired but still had them begging for more.

A Day to Remember Set List:
1.) The Downfall Of Us All
2.) A Shot in the Dark
3.) I’m Made of Wax Larry, What Are You Made Of?
4.) My Life For Hire
5.) All Signs Point to Lauderdale
6.) 2nd Sucks
7.) You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic
8.) It’s Complicated
9.) Homesick
10.) Better Off This Way
11.) Have Faith In Me
12.) All I Want
13.) The Plot to Bomb The Panhandle
Rise Against Set List:
1.) Survivor Guilt
2.) Ready to Fall
3.) Collapse (Post-Amerika)
4.) The Good Left Undone
5.) Broken English
6.) Help Is on the Way
7.) Disparity by Design
8.) Drones
9.) Re-Education (Through Labor)
10.) Blood to Bleed
11.) Satellite
12.) Paper Wings
13.) Prayer of the Refugee
14.) Audience of One
15.) Swing Life Away
16.) Make It Stop
17.) Give It All
18.) Midnight Hands
19.) The Strength to Go On
20.) Savior

CD Review: Rise Against “EndGame”

Rise Against
Producer: Bill Stevenson, Jason Livermore
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Endgame” is the 7th studio album from the punk rock band Rise Against. The album is the follow up release to the bands successful “Appeal to Reason” album. Produced by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore and released via DGC/Interscope “Endgame” features 12 high energy songs chocked full of great instrumentation and lyrical references to recent events around the world.

The latest album by Rise Against features everything fans of the band have come to know and love. From Catchy sing-along choruses to thought provoking lyrics front man Tim McIIrath takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. “EndGame” seemed to have a much more polished approach compared to the bands previous release and even though it doesn’t seem to cover as much territory musically the group’s sheer intensity and in your face approach really grabs you. Songs such as “Help is on its Way” and “Disparity by Design” were instant favorites that I’m sure will garner some really great live performances. Crunchy guitars and catchy choruses consume almost all 12 tracks on the album making any one of the songs capable of becoming a hit.

Straight forward and thought provoking “EndGame” is everything you could want from a punk rock album and more! The band appears to be at the top of their game and is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon. If you haven’t done so already get to the store or your computer and add this album to your collection. Also be sure to check out the band on their current 2012 spring tour which will also feature special guests A Day to Remember.

Track Listing:
1.)    Architects
2.)    Help is on the Way
3.)    Make it Stop (September’s Children)
4.)    Disparity by Design
5.)    Satellite
6.)    Midnight Hands
7.)    Survivor Guilt
8.)    Broken Mirrors
9.)    Wait for Me
10.)  A Gentleman’s Coup
11.)  This is Letting Go
12.)  Endgame

DeeDee Bigelow Stars in Comic “Ginger Stein: Rise of the Undead”

Actress and Producer DEEDEE BIGELOW is honored to be a part of “Ginger Stein: Rise of the Undead,”
the new Horror Sci-Fi Comic Book by artist Dennis Willman, Jeff Hughes of Comic Book Divas and Iron
Dead Studios. “Ginger Stein” is the story of an ordinary woman called upon to become extraordinary as the
world falls victim to a zombie apocalypse. The concept of “Ginger Stein” is really a simple love letter to
everything that makes the horror and sci-fi genres great, in particular the 1980’s. The story is largely inspired
in spirit by Romero’s “Dead” movies, “The Evil Dead” Trilogy and the “Phantasm” series of films.
Miss Bigelow will portray “Diana Diablo”, a sly and cunning woman that does not hesitate to turn on her enemies…and friends. She is definitely a character not to be under-estimated! Attached is the promo photo
of DeeDee as “Diana Diablo”, along with a behind-the-scenes photo!
A scipt for the feature film is also currently in developement.
Additional information about “Ginger Stein: Rise of the Undead” and this new exciting new horror comic
“Ginger Stein” will premiere at the Rock and Shock Convention on Oct 14-16, 2011 in Worcester, MA.
While the premiere issue will be unveiled in MA, Miss Bigelow will be a Special Guest at the Memphis
Comic and Fantasy Convention on Oct 14-16, 2011 in Memphis, TN. She will have this amazing promo
photo for sale at the convention. Please see below for official show times!www.memphiscfc.com

Film Review #2 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When I first heard about this movie I was thinking why!  Then I thought about it and wondered what could have happened to cause the Apes in today’s times to take over and mankind to be slaves.  Well this movie does just that and does it very well, that it is very believable.

The film begins with of course the capturing of chimpanzee’s to bring back to the lab for experiments.  Dr. Will Rodman (James Franco) is on the verge of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and other ailments that attack the brain.  Not only would this cure it but make you smarter.  But with no side effects?  Of course things go wrong and that leads to the developing story line to the rise of the apes.

The special effects are absolutely amazing.  Watching Caesar grow and evolve in the movie is definitely worth it.  You can see him thinking and feeling very clearly, which you can also tell that he will eventually be up to no good….you would too if you went through what he did. The facial expressions of Caesar are very lifelike. This is due to the amazing work of WETA and performance capture from Andy Serkis. Also watching Caesar rally the troops and climb to the top is well done.  I do not want to say too much otherwise it would ruin the movie for you.  You will just have to go and see it.

The movie does start off slow but that is made up for the great storyline and character development.  There is not a lot of action but don’t let that stop you from seeing this movie.  I feel that this movie was very well done and the story line was great despite the lack of action.  Also when the movie is over don’t just get up and leave!


Film Review “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

CLICK HERE for our interview with the film’s writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa.

What can I say about the “Planet of the Apes” films? As a child of the late 60’s and early 70’s, nothing beat a film about talking monkeys! There were five original films in all (the last one, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” released when “Rise” director Rupert Wyatt is one year old). There followed an animated series as well as a weekly television show. And of course, back in the days before home video, there was that rare day each summer when the local theatre would hold an “APE-a-thon,” and my friends and I would spend most of a day in the darkness, watching each film. Tim Burton “re-imagined” “Planet of the Apes” in 2001, though he confused a lot of people with the ending (which was based on the ending in Pierre Boulle’s original novel). The two things I remember most about the Burton version is that Helena Bonham Carter really looked a lot like Michael Jackson and that, in what I thought was pretty ironic, NRA President (and original “Planet of the Apes” visitor) Charlton Heston was the only character that had a gun! With four decades of “Ape” enjoyment under my belt, I was a little skeptical when I learned of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Happily, I needn’t have worried.

Modern day San Francisco. In a large, foreboding research facility, an ape nicknamed “Bright Eyes” is working a puzzle. Her skills impress those watching her. Bright Eyes is part of an experimental drug program. The goal: develop a way to reverse and cure Alzheimer’s Disease in humans. The cause is very close to head researcher Will Rodman’s (Franco) heart…his father (John Lithgow) is suffering from the disease. When an apparent successful demonstration of the drug goes terribly wrong, Will’s research is put on hold. On his way out the door he takes a newborn chimp with him. Not one to take “no” for an answer, Will continues his work, using his dad as a guinea pig. As for the chimp…well there wouldn’t be a movie if not for him.

Full of some fine tips of the hat to the original series (a list of some of them follow this review), “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a smartly directed film that sits squarely on the shoulders of Andy Serkis. Serkis, whose performance as Golum in the “Lord of the Rings” films should have earned him an Oscar nomination or two (or three…he was ruled ineligible because the onscreen character was computer generated) is Caesar, the baby chimp all grown up. With a rapidly growing IQ but with the innocence of a child, Serkis gives Caesar, and the film, its soul. After spending many years living with Will, Caesar is discovered and sent to live in a primate house, overseen by a bureaucratic Brian Cox. There he is mistreated by both the handlers and the other apes, who do not easily accept a clothes-wearing ape. As Caesar battles with his kind Will must do the same, hoping to find a vaccine that will return his father back to him. The similarities between Will and his dad, and Caesar and Will, become more and more highlighted as the film progresses. Caesar considers Will his father and cannot understand the changes in his life. Ditto for Will and HIS dad.

Wyatt, who also directed 2008’s “The Escapist,” which also starred Brian Cox, stages the film well, most notably when the film centers itself on the Golden Gate Bridge. You may have heard of gorillas in the mist…try dealing with gorillas in the fog!

Click here to read another favorable review from our guest writer Angelo Casciorizzo Jr.


“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” recalls previous films.

SPOILER ALERT: As mentioned above, there are several references to the early series of “Ape” films. Here are a few that I noticed:


The first ape we meet is Bright Eyes. Bright Eyes was the name given to Colonel Taylor (Heston) in the first film by the ape scientists.

An orangutan in the film is named Maurice. Maurice Evans played Dr. Zaius, an orangutan, in the original film.

To control him, Caesar’s handlers use a fire hose. The same thing was done to Taylor.

In one scene the apes in the primate house become very noisy, causing one of the handlers to yell “It’s a Madhouse!” Taylor thought the same thing.

Early in the film Caesar plays with a model of the Statue of Liberty. The Statue plays an important role in the original film.

One of the characters is named Dr. Cornelia. One of the ape scientists in the first film was Dr. Cornelius, played by Roddy McDowall.

After an altercation one of the ape handlers utters the classic line, “take your paws off of me you damn, dirty ape!.” Once again, courtesy of Colonel Taylor in the original.

Interview with Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein is best known for voicing the role of Ahsoka Tano in the TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”.  The show is hitting warp speed and it enters its fourth season this Fall.  Ashley is also the celebrity host, along with James Arnold Taylor, this year at Walt Disney World’s “Star Wars” Weekend.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” with Ashley as well as her hosting for “Star Wars” Weekend and even her own clothing line “Her Universe” which is also inspired by “Star Wars”.

Check back this weekend for an exclusive giveaway of an autographed shirt from Ashley’s ‘Her Universe’ clothing line

Mike Gencarelli: So lets start at the beginning, any idea you will be where you are today when you took the role of Ahsoka Tano in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”?
Ashley Eckstein: [laughs] No, actually I had no idea. I would have called myself more of a casual “Star Wars” fan before I got the “Clone Wars” job. I watched the movies when I was a little kid but it didn’t really go beyond that. I did understand the power of “Star Wars”. I thought knew just how iconic it was. But when I once I was cast on the show. I guess I didn’t quite comprehend JUST how powerful it was and how popular it was worldwide. So, obviously after working on the show and working with Dave Filoni you just become just a hardcore fan. We really have to understand “Star Wars” to be able to do the show. I think in order really to perform our roles to the best we can. Dave really helps us with that. Dave is such a huge “Star Wars” fan. He really knows it all and we get to learn from him. We have been working on the show now close to six year and have really become much more knowledgeable and passionate fans due to that. So I definitely never imagined the position I would be in today and how “Star Wars” has also affected my life and what it means to me. It really has changed my life.

MG: What do you like most about playing Ahsoka ?
AE: I think my favorite part of playing Ahsoka is how powerful of a character she is and a role model for young girls. That has really been a dream come true for me. I worked a lot of the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon before “Clone Wars”, mostly on-camera work. I really fell in love with children and family programming. First hand I saw the impact you can have on a child’s life by doing a children/family show. So, I really tried to gear my career in that direction. “The Clone Wars” came along and I wasn’t even trying for it. Literally, my agent got a call and I was asked to come in and read. So to get the role of Ahsoka who is such a strong and powerful character for young girls to look up to to and to even be a part of it is just such an honor for me. I am not one of these actresses that say I don’t want to be a role model or I never asked for this. I do feel that a child’s role model should be somebody that is in their life on a daily basis. But I also understand that by default as someone in the public eye you are going to be a role model whether you life it or not. So it is something I take very seriously. I want to be a positive influence and through Ahsoka I can do that. I am very honored to be given the opportunity to do that.

MG: Having this character really opened up the “Star Wars” franchise to a more female audience, can you reflect on that for us?
AE: When I was growing up, I was a bit of a tom-boy. The only girl on the baseball team. I didn’t want to wear a dress. Had my hat on backwards [laughs]. Having a character like Ahsoka, I wish I would have had Ahsoka to look up to. Not every girl wants to be a princess or wear a dress. Some girls want to carry a lightsaber and pretend to be a jedi. I think it is really cool to have her character. “The Clone Wars” has kind of become the watercooler show for kids on the playground. Whether you like “Star Wars” or not, it is the show that everyone talks about. Even the girls are starting to watch it just so they are in the know. Now when the kids play it on the playground, the girls have someone they can be. They do not have to pretend to be Anakin, Captain Rex or Obi-Wan. I have so many little girls coming up to be saying “Yeah I am Ahsoka and my brother is Anakin and we play “Clone Wars” all the time”. I think that is so cool that their is a character that the girls can be. Not even just Ahsoka, there is Asajj Ventress, Padmé Amidala, Sha’ak Ti and just so many powerful females in “The Clone Wars”.

MG: What has been your favorite part of hosting Star Wars Weekend in Walt Disney Resort this year?
AE: I think it is the ability to interact with the fans, especially the kids. “The Clone Wars” sort of introduced “Star Wars” to a new generation. It is funny because “Star Wars” is the “The Clone Wars” to many kids today. Many kids haven’t seen the other movies yet. They have only seen “The Clone Wars. To have that impact on a new generation of kids to me…I can’t even fantom it. To see some of the expressions from their faces and I get a chance to meet them. It has really been an honor [laughs], I really don’t have another word for it.

MG: Tell us about your show you are hosting “Behind the Force”?
AE: Of course, I think it is a fun show. “Behind the Force” takes you on a behind the scenes look at our job as voice over artists and recording the show. The first part of the show we have a special guest, in our upcoming last weekend we have Tom Kane, who is the voice of Yoda, the narrator of the show and many others from the show. So we introduce our audience to him and I ask him a couple of questions and then our audience get a chance to ask him some questions as well. Then we go into a live demonstration of us going into the studio recording an episode. Then we audition people from our audience to be an honorary cast member of “The Clone Wars”. The person that is chosen gets to come up on stage and do a scene live with us on stage. It is really exciting and puts the audience in the studio with us and get a chance to see what it is like.

MG: How many times have you rode the new “Star Tours” this month since its opening?
AE: That is a great question [laughing]. I think I have rode it eight or nine times…I think nine times by now. It is such an amazing ride. They did such a fantastic job on it and it is almost like a completely new ride. They revamped the entire thing. I also got to do a series of videos with Disney showing the behind the scenes look on the making of Star Tours. It just awesome. If you ride with me the chances are you will get Hoth [laughs], that is the one planet I keep getting over and over. I have only gotten Naboo twice and to me that is definitely my favorite. I even got picked as the secret spy one time, which was fun.

MG: Tell us about your “Star Wars” inspired clothing line, Her Universe?
AE: Thanks for asking about that. I created Her Universe and we launched about a year ago this June. It is the first “Star Wars” / sci-fi line JUST for women. We are only for the female fans. Close to half of all sci-fi and “Star Wars” fans are women. “Star Wars” is the story of hope and that transcends gender. I got the idea a little over three year ago. Actually when I first got cast for “Clone Wars”, I did a search for merchandise for women because I wanted to buy stuff. But I really came up empty handed. I was able to find one shirt and the rest was either on backorder or sold out. There was very little for women and NOTHING for little girls. It just didn’t make sense to me. I go to all the events and “Star Wars” weekends and there are women everywhere. I was thinking “Why are you giving us nothing to buy when 85% of the consumer market is women?” I have to give LucasFilm credit because they were the first company to give me a shot. They really want to recognize their female fans. They gave me the license and trusted me [laughs]. I have always been into fashion decision, so they trusted me to design clothes and accessories for the female fans. So I am really excited about that. Disney, again, I have to give them credit that they gave us the opportunity to sell it during “Star Wars” Weekends and we have been selling five different shirts in the merchandise tent, Jabba’s Hut. I have been doing signings there also every day. It has been great. One more thing, I have to thank SyFy because we just closed a deal with them and starting in July we are coming out with SyFy merchandise for the brand and also its properties. We are starting with “Battlestar Galactica” and “Warehouse 13”.

MG: What can we expect from season 4 in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” this Fall?
AE: Sure, I can definitely tell you it is actually called Season 4: Battle Lines. It is going to take you right into the heart of the battles of the Clone Wars. They have been going on for over two years now. The war is really taking its toll on its characters. There are going to be epic battles that are going to be bigger than anything we have seen to date on the series. There is also the return of some classic characters from the “Star Wars” movies including some bad guys but also some good guys. So also look for that trend to continue and look for some really epic battles. They are really raising the bar.

Interview with Ahmed Ahmed

Ahmed Ahmed is a standup comedian who has also appeared in several films and television shows. His newest project is titled “Just Like Us” and documents Ahmed and several other comedians’ tour across the Middle East. Ahmed took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Movie Mikes about his new project.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your film “Just Like Us”
Ahmed Ahmed: “Just Like Us” is a documentary film that I came up with after doing comedy shows around the Middle East. Around 2007 I toured the Middle East with a group we put together called “The Axis of Evil Tour” which was filmed and shown on television over there. In 2008 we toured there again but not as a group and we didn’t film anything. In 2009 we had a tour that lined up with the International cast and that’s when we actually decided to shoot it.

AL: So the idea came about after touring over there a few different times?
AA: I had started a company with my business partner called Cross Cultural Entertainment and under that umbrella we created Cross Cultural Productions. This would be the portion that would physically produce and put on projects. After doing this my partner asked me what my next plan was. I told him I was going to go to the Middle East and he said I had to shoot it. The timing was great and the topic was relevant so that was part of it. A couple years prior I had done a comedy tour with Vince Vaughn called “The Wild West Comedy Show” which was also turned into a documentary film. From that I sort of had an idea of how to make a documentary. Another thing that kind of brought me to making this project was when I would come back from the Middle East a lot of my friends would ask what I was doing over there. I would tell them comedy shows and they would ask which military base. I would tell them we played theaters for Arabs in English and they get it. The film came out really great and I think people will enjoy it.

AL: What was it like touring and filming at the same time?
AA: I kind of bit off more than I could chew! At first I was going to just be the host for the shows however the promoters started asking me to bring comedians. I in a way started to become a talent booker as well as being relied on to do press. I didn’t have to set up the shows but I did a lot of the grass roots work in setting everything else up and promoting. When we started to shoot that’s where I started to turn into the producer/director (Laughs) It was literally 4 days prior to leaving for the tour that my partner said we should shoot it. I didn’t think we had enough time but he was very adamant about finding camera operators which we did. Once we got back to New York we started almost immediately in post production. We set up an office, purchased the editing equipment, hired two editors and began transcribing everything. We had about 200 hours of footage that we cut down to about 72 minutes. I didn’t really know what I was getting into at the beginning but the film has unfolded into this beautiful project that has taken on a life of its own.

AL: When is the film going to be released?
AA: We did a deal with Lion’s Gate Entertainment and the film is going to be available as a digital download through places like Netflix. My company is also going to release the film independently in select theaters. We hope to get the film into about 10 cities. If it catches wind in its sails we will add more cities. We want as many people as possible to see the film.

AL: Do you have any funny stories from working with Vince Vaughn?
AA: Everyday on that tour was a funny day. It went by so fast that we didn’t have a lot of time in each city but just being a part of that tour was really inspirational and eye opening. That tour really prodded me to make my own film. There were just so many funny things that happened. I can’t think of one that really sticks out.

AL: Had you known Vince previously?
AA: I have been friends with Vince for over 20 years. He had come to a lot of the comedy shows I was involved in which exposed him to the other comedians. He then just had this idea to take it on the road and film it. It was great to be a part of that and we are actually doing some follow up shows in June.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
AA: The film has opened up a lot of doors. I was actually invited to attend a dinner at the White House last year because of this film and that opened up some doors for us which took us to Palestine, Syria and a few other places to do some shows. During this time we accidentally shot a sequel and we will probably start going through that material in the fall. Releases for “Just Like Us” are going to be spaced out from city to city and that will probably take us through July. I travel quite regular and have had a lot of inquiries to go to a lot of different countries that have recently opened up.

Interview with Danielle Nicolet

Danielle Nicolet co-stars in Syfy’s latest film “Red Faction: Origins”, playing the character Tess DeLaVega.  She is also co-starring with Cuba Gooding Jr. in the upcoming film, “Ticking Clock”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Danielle about her roles in both her films recent films.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role in “Red Faction: Origins”, playing Tess DeLaVega.
Danielle Nicolet: Tess is a very special combination of Princess Lea and C-3P0 [laughs].  She is Jack Mason’s unintentional side-kick.  She believes herself to be the smartest person in the room all the time, better much because she is. Jake, our hero, kind of can’t save the day without Tess, but Tess goes along kicking and screaming at absolutely every moment.  She doesn’t do so good out of the office.

MG: Where you familiar with the video game franchise?
DN: I have to say I am a HUGE gamer.  I am a big first person shooter player.  I have even voiced a couple of characters in different video games.  So, I am pretty involved with video games.  I have not played “Red Faction”.  I have not played “Guerilla” until after we started shooting the movie, which was kind of good for me.  When I got the script, I read it and I didn’t have any preconceived notions.  Also Tess, my character, is the only one in the movie that doesn’t have any previous connection to the past games.  My character is though connected to “Armageddon”.  It was really confirming not to have all that in my head before I got the job.  Once I got it I went out and played the games.

MG: How was it working with Robert Patrick and Brian J. Smith?
DN: [laughs] Ok, number one: Brian Smith is the nicest person I have ever known in my life.  I love him.  Number two: Robert Patrick is the funniest person I have ever known in my life and I love him.  Robert is hysterical.  He is from two towns over from where I live in Ohio. We spent pretty much the entire time in Europe together fighting over who was better: the Steelers or the Browns.  He thinks I am terrible person because I am a Steelers fan and I think he is sad and sorely mistaken to care about the Browns [laughs].  Robert is just a blast.  We have breakfast together every morning.  He is just the most salt of the earth completely grounded superstar that you will ever known.  It is like he has no idea he is ridiculously famous.  With Brian, I can say he has no idea he is ridiculously cute and that every girl checks him out no matter where we go.  He is incredibly humble and just really loves being an actor.  It was incredible for me to work with him since we are in every scene together.  We were both so committed to our characters and to this job that we were able to be real supportive of each other.  He will forever be family.

MG: What was the most difficult part of working on the film?
DN: I am sure every single actor from this movie would have the same answer.  The most difficult part was shooting this shooting this movie in Eastern Europe in the dead of winter.  The physical conditions of this movie was the hardest I have ever been in my life.  They were also though the most necessary.  The movie takes place on Mars.  Mars is not a comfortable place to live in “Red Faction”.  It has been terraformed, so you can breath the air but just because it is breathable doesn’t mean it is warmer. We shot in a place that was like the temperature that Mars is.  Our day average about 3 degrees fahrenheit.  At nighttime, it was between 10-14 below.  So we did a lot of huddling up together to try and keep warm.  All of the exterior we did in the movie were not shot in front of a green screen.  We shot all of the exteriors in this incredible cave system just outside of the Romanian boarder.  It is totally remote and a 2 1/2 drive from the nearest hotel.  It literally looks like Mars.  It has red ground, rocky and exactly like the Martian landscape.  The cave system is totally protected from nature.  So when you watch the movie, the only thing that isn’t real is if we are ever outside the sky.  The digitally took out the ceiling of the cave and put in the Martian sky.  But that is why we were freezing the whole time because our director really wanted the exteriors to be real.  He didn’t want it to seem like an entirely CGI generated film.

MG: Tell us about working with Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the sci-fi thriller, “Ticking Clock”?
DN: Working with Cuba was a dream come true.  How many times in your life to you get to ask somebody where do they keep their Oscar [laughs]. “Ticking Clock” is like a psychological thriller but once you get 10 minutes into the film you see it is science fiction.  Cuba’s character is a writer and the murder mystery he is solving in his book starts coming to life.  I play his wife, who has a real problem with what is going on with him.  I believe that he is having the issues he is having because he is drinking too much.  He can’t quite tell the difference between his reality.  I won’t give away the ending but we will find out what is real and what isn’t.  It is a really fun movie and I love my science fiction.  So I was really excited to do that.

MG: You are both equally skilled with drama and comedy, do you have a preference?
DN: I don’t want to sound like a fence-walker but seriously the thing I love to do the most of all is like the character I played in “The Starter Wife” and “Red Faction”, which is a funny character that is in the middle of a serious situation.  That is the most fun for me.  I enjoy playing that character that brings a little of levity to a very serious scenario.  So playing Tess was like being a kid in a candy store for me as an actor.  I got to spend five weeks delivering fantastic one liners and screaming when guns come around [laughs].

MG: What other projects do you have upcoming?
DN: Right now, “Ticking Clock” is obviously coming up. “Marry Me”, the mini series I did with Lucy Lu comes out on DVD in a few weeks.  I know they are also going to air it again in it entirety really soon.  So I got that coming up.  Also just also keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more “Red Faction” movies.