Blu-ray Review "Ripper Street: Series 1"

Actors: Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, Amanda Hale, MyAnna Buring
Directors: Andy Wilson
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 480 minutes

Series: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When I saw the trailer for “Ripper Street” on BBC America, I was immediately hooked.  A crime drama based around the killings of Jack the Ripper…where do I sign up?  This new series includes eight episodes which are each more incredibly gripping than the last. The show also boasts a very sharp cast including Matthew Macfadyen (“Anna Karenina”), Jerome Flynn (“Game of Thrones”), Adam Rothenberg (“Alcatraz”) and MyAnna Buring (“Downton Abbey”, “The Twilight Saga”).  The series is very character driven. This works perfectly since from the very first episode, you really find yourself loving this cast. I wish the series was longer, but at least we have something to look forward to since the series was already renewed. BBC American is bringing this show back in early 2014 with another eight episode series. Count me in! Until then be sure to pick this up and play catch-up with this.

Official Premise: BBC America’s compelling crime drama Ripper Street set in the seething backstreets of Victorian London comes to Blu-ray! Haunted by the failure to catch London’s most evil killer Jack the Ripper Inspector Edmund Reid now heads up the notorious H Division – the toughest police district in the East End. Charged with keeping order in the blood-stained streets of Whitechapel Reid and his men find themselves fighting to uphold justice and the rule of law; but always in the background lurks the fear of the Ripper is he back for another reign of terror? Rich episodic storylines meld with the intrigue of a criminal underworld festering on the hard streets of Victorian London following the battle of the men whose job it is to bring the law to the lawless

The Blu-ray presentation is decent but nothing special.  The episodes are presented in 1080i, which still looks sharp but could have been given the little extra effort that was required to make it a full HD Blu-ray. Same goes for the audio, which is an DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 surround track.  This works well with the show, since it is very dialogue driven.  Also the score is blended nicely here as well. I just would have like to seen them go the extra step to upgrade to the 5.1 track. The special features are decent as well for this release, though no commentary tracks.  There are three “Inside Looks” from the cast and production team. “London Calling: Whitechapel” is a tour of the Dublin, Ireland transformed into London’s East End during 1889. “Jack the Ripper: Prime Suspect” is a look into modern forensic science and its part in solving the case of Jack the Ripper.  Lastly there are some character profiles included.

DVD Review "Street Sharks – The Complete 40 Episode Series"

Actors: Lee Tockar, Matt Hill, Andrew Rannells, D. Kevin Williams, Tony Wike, Terry Berner, J. Michael Lee, Pam Carter, Jim Hogget
Created by: David Siegel and Joe Galliani
Number of discs: 4
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
DVD Release Date: February 19, 2013
Run Time: 887 minutes

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

DIC Entertainment was responsible for much of my TV “babysitting” time when I was growing up with shows like “The Real Ghostbusters”, “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” and “G.I. Joe”. “Street Sharks” always interested me since I have been a lifelong fans of anything related to sharks.  Of course they show is very silly and far-fetched…but aren’t all cartoons.  This show turns four regular guys turned into sharks due to “gene-slamming” from..you guessed it…any evil scientist. Ripster was always my favorite being a great white shark.  Jab was a hammerhead. Streex was a tiger shark. Last but not least was Big Slammu, who was a whale shark. Do you really need more that that to draw you in…nope! The show is simple, very colorful and just brute action-packed fun.  This wasn’t the best thing to come out the 90’s but still worth checking out on DVD, especially for the cheap price of under $10 bucks for all 40 episodes! No brainer!

Official Synopsis: Shark N’ Roll with all 40 episodes of your favorite fresh water sharks! When an evil genetic-engineer, Dr. Paradigm illegally experiments with an untested DNA genetic formula, four brothers are accidentally transformed into monstrous half shark – half humans! Delighted with his success, the diabolical madman seeks to alter nature and tailor all humanity into sea creatures of his own design and control! The Bolton brothers – John, Bobby, Coop and Clint – team up to stop Dr. Paradigm and his deadly Seaviates from transforming the citizens of Fission City into mutants with no free will. So hold onto your fins as the heroic Street Sharks kick some serious fin as well as satisfy their voracious appetites in ALL 40 Jawsome Episodes!

Mill Creek Entertainment did a nice job with the casing and delivery of the release.  The episodes haven’t gone under a 4K restoration or anything but they look and sound good enough for me, especially on DVD. Honestly, I am just glad to be able to own this complete series for the first time on DVD. The only special features on this DVD release is a bonus episode include for the short lived 1988 series “C.O.P.S.” aka (Central Organization of Police Specialists). The episode included is called “The The Case of the Boy Who Cried Sea Monster” and aired originally all the way back in October of 1988 (which I actually remember…feeling old).  If you were a fan of “Street Sharks” in their original run, then you would recognize this show more as “CyberCOPS” when it re-aired back in 1993. Not really relevant as an extra, I would have thought that “Extreme Dinosaurs” would have been a better fit but still cool to see this show again after all these years.

Concert Review: 3 Doors Down and Daughtry – Main Street Armory, Rochester, NY

“3 Doors Down and Daughtry”
Aranda, 3 Doors Down, Daughtry
Date: Saturday, February 9th 2013
Venue: Main Street Armory, Rochester, NY

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

The second leg of the 3 Doors Down & Daughtry tour made its way to the Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY on Saturday despite cancelling the previous night’s show due to extreme weather conditions. Though some of that weather was still lingering it didn’t stop any of the bands from putting on a solid show for the near capacity crowd.

The hard rock band Aranda would open up the night and though their set was brief the band definitely seemed to give it their all. At one point during the 30 minute set guitarist Dameon Aranda began playing slide guitar with his boot. An interesting touch if I do say so myself. 3 Doors Down would be up next and from the first notes of “Time of My Life” to the closing sounds of “When I’m Gone” singer Brad Arnold and the boys commanded the stage. Though the setlist was virtually unchanged from the first leg of the tour the band sounded just as good if not better. To take things up another notch Chris Daughtry would make a guest appearance on the bands most notable hit “Kryptonite” sharing vocal duties.

Daughtry and company would close out the night performing a somewhat hodge podge of songs from the American Idol alums 3 albums. The beginning of the set started off a little rough as it was plagued with sound issues causing the fans in the first few rows closest to the stage to begin voicing their displeasures. As the set progressed the sound seemed to get better however the crowd began to noticeably thin out only after a few of Daughtry’s song. This really made me question the lineup for the evening. Those things aside probably the most exciting part of Daughtry’s set was the cover of Phil Collins classic song “In the Air Tonight” which featured Brad Arnold returning the favor as a guest vocalist.

If you didn’t have a chance to catch this lineup on the first leg of the tour and are a fan of either artist you surely won’t want to miss your second chance. All three acts put on a solid show belting out hit after hit which makes for a great night of music that the whole family can enjoy.

3 Doors Down Set List:
1.) Time of My Life
2.) It’s Not my Time
3.) Duck and Run
4.) The Road I’m On
5.) Away From the Sun
6.) Let Me Go
7.) Goodbye
8.) Loser
9.) There’s a Life
10.) Landing in London
11.) One Light
12.) Here Without You
13.) Citizen/Soldier
14.) Symphony of Destruction (Megadeth Cover)
15.) The Better Life
16.) Kryptonite (w/ Chris Daughtry)
17.) When I’m Gone

Daughtry Set List:
1.) Break the Spell
2.) Feels Like Tonight
3.) Outta My Head
4.) Crawling Back to You
5.) What I Want
6.) Renegade
7.) Start of Something
8.) Gone Too Soon
9.) Tennessee Line
10.) Over You
11.) No Surprise
12.) In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins Cover)(w/ Brad Arnold)
13.) Every Time You Turn Around
14.) We’re Not Gonna Fall
15.) Home
16.) September
17.) It’s Not Over

Blu-ray Review "House at the End of the Street"

Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, Will Bowes, Jonathan Higgins
Directors: Mark Tonderai
Rated: PG-13 / Unrated
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Run Time: 101 / 109 minutes

Film: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

When this film came and flew threw theaters, I was shocked due to the popularity of Jennifer Lawrence from “The Hunger Games”. I am personally a fan of neither. I am also not a terribly big fan of PG-13 teen horror films but I was hoping that this would have surprised me. Well, I was completely wrong and this film fitted right into the cheesy waste-of-time lack of suspense teen wanna-be horror genre. The Blu-ray release for this film includes the theatrical cut and also a new 8-minute longer unrated cut, which adds a “shocking twist” you wasn’t shown in theaters but doesn’t help the rest of the film from sucking. I would recommend skipping both versions of this film and saving your money.

OFficial Premise: Academy Award® Nominees Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) and Elisabeth Shue star in this edge-of-your-seat horror hit packed with heart-pounding thrills and gripping suspense. Newly divorced Sarah (Shue) and her teenage daughter Elissa (Lawrence) have just moved to the suburbs for a fresh start. But their hopes quickly shatter as they learn that, years earlier, a grisly murder took place next door when a deranged girl killed her parents and disappeared. The girl’s older brother Ryan (Max Thieriot) still occupies the house, and when he befriends Elissa, his secretive past could become her worst nightmare!

“House at the End of the Street” comes as a combo pack with Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy included. The 1080p transfer looks crisp with no major issues even in the dark scenes. There is a decent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track included as well, even though it doesn’t add any suspense. The issue I have with this release is that the film is pitched with the unrated cut but the DVD and digital copy included only come with the theatrical cut (even despite the DVD artwork showing the words “Unrated”). The special features are completely missing as well with only one extra included, “Journey Into Terror: Inside the House at the End of the Street”. I would skip this unless you absolutely loved this film.

Book Review “Sesame Street Brand New Readers Box Set”

Author: Sesame Workshop
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Paperback
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: September 11, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I am not the biggest fan of “Sesame Street”, I prefer Disney but they cats know how to teach kids.  I mean I turned out pretty decent from my Sesame Street learnings.  This book is called “Brand New Readers” and could not be any more engaging for little kids who are learning to read.  It comes in a very nice hard case with individual books included inside.  There are ten short full-color books featuring Big Bird, Grover, Elmo, Abby, Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, and more.

If that is not enough there is also a fold-out poster with full-color stickers, which is used for tracking which books are read.  It is topped off with a “Brand New Readers” certificate of achievement, which will assist in building children’s confidence when the series is completed. There is also a make-your-own Brand New Reader book, which will work to encourage our brand-new writers.  This book will allow act as a great teaching for a parent to make reading not only easy but also fun. This is a must for all kids, who are looking to take the next step in their life.

Blu-ray Review “21 Jump Street”

Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Running Time: 109 minutes

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

In the mass flood of remakes, this action/comedy easily stands out as one of the best. The duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are a great team and really nail their roles in this film.  The film is packed with laugh-out-loud comedy, but also contains some great action as well.  A truly great blend of the genres.  Fans of the original series, will also rejoice to see great cameos from “21 Jump Street” originals Johnny Depp and Peter Deluise. I also really appreciate that first time live-action directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller really went head-in with this film and didn’t deliver a lame PG-13 film, it is balls-to-the-wall raunchy and that is why this film is so bad-ass! So the only question left is…when is “21 Jump Street 2” coming out??

The Blu-ray presentation is good for Sony’s standards.  The 1080p resolution with aspect ratio of 2.39:1, looks good but doesn’t break any records for Blu-ray.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track is great though and really delivers the action well.  This release also comes stocked with an Ultraviolet digital streaming copy, which I will be revisting quite a bit.

The special features are jam-packed with this Blu-ray release. There is an busy-yet hysterical audio commentary including Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.   There are about 30 minutes of deleted scenes included, some of them are fantastic and I would have loved to see an extended cut with some of them possibly included.  There is a decent length gag reel included as well.  This looked like a really fun production.  Next up is “Cube-O-Rama”, which is a short montage of Ice Cube’s scenes, not really my favorite aspect of the film.  “Back to School” and “Brothers in Arms” are two featurettes looking into the production with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.  “Johnny Depp on Set” is a short piece on Depp’s cameo. “The Rob Riggle Show” is a laugh-riot with some great behind-the-scenes footage.  Lastly “Peter Pan on the Freeway” focuses on the film’s big action sequence.

Blu-ray Review “42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition”

Directed by: Joe D’amato, Charles B. Pierce, Paul Maslansky, Abel Ferrara
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Christina Lindberg, David Hess, Robert Quarry, Linda Blair
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Distributed by: Synapse Films
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Running Time: 225 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I just love the Blu-ray format. The “42nd Street Forever” series has been released before but over various different volumes on DVD. So what is “42nd Street Forever”? Well if you are a fan of grindhouse and exploitation films, then it is your new favorite Blu-ray! This is a best of collection that includes an amazing collection of vintage theatrical trailers. It combines the first two volumes of the series and even adds in with some all-new selections.

No matter what you are looking for sex, violence or monsters, this includes all that and a whole lot more. Being a born New Yorker, I remember walking the streets of the city and being intrigued with the infamous 42nd Street many years ago. Though, I wasn’t around from the late-’50s through the 1970s but thanks to Synapse Films we are able to experience a little piece through these trailers. What is even cooler about this release is that there is over three and a half hours of trailers from all over the world. So sit down get, get your popcorn and get ready to get your blown away with the charm of 42nd street.

Just to give you an idea of some of the trailers included are: The Flesh And Blood Show, The .44 Specialist, Ginger, The Grim Reaper, The Guy From Harlem, Hard Candy, Helga, Hells Angels On Wheels, Honky, I, A Woman, I Disremember Mama/Blood Spattered Bride, Invitation To Ruin, The Italian Stallion, Maid In Sweden, Mark Of The Witch, Ms. 45, Panorama Blue, The Pink Angels, The Pom Pom Girls, The Raiders Of Atlantis, Savage!, Savage Sisters, Secret Africa, Shocking Asia, Shogun Assassin, Spy In Your Eye, Street Girls, Sugar Hill, Super Fuzz, Supermanchu, Taboos Of The World, The Tale Of The Dean’s Wife, The Teacher, They Call Her One Eye, They Came From Beyond Space, The 3 Dimensions Of Greta, The Undertaker Ana His Pals, Welcome Home, Brother Charles, Werewolves On Wheels, When Women Had Tails, Wicked Wicked and Many More!

This release looks absolutely stunning in its remastered 1080p high definition transfer. Of course, some of the trailers are not the best quality but that is just expected especially with exploitation films. Just be warned, keep the kiddies (and maybe even wife’s) away because this is not afraid to offend you at all. If all that isn’t enough, there is also I hope that Synapse will release the future volumes on Blu-ray as well or at least continue to release the films from these trailers on Blu-ray. Keep it up Synapse you guys have never disappointed yet.

Film Review “21 Jump Street”

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube
Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 1 hour 49 mins
Columbia

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

2005. High school seniors Schmidt (Hill) and Janko (Tatum) are on opposite ends of the popularity meter. Schmidt is quiet and smart and has a horrible time talking to girls. Janko is the classic big man on campus. For very different reasons, neither attends their senior prom.

2012. Reunited at the police academy, the two develop a friendship. But their first crack at big time crooks will have to wait. They’re on bicycle duty. But when an “old and recycled” program is reinstated they find themselves assigned under cover as high school students hoping to uncover a new drug and its manufacturer. And the fun begins!

Hilarious from beginning to end, and featuring a surprisingly funny performance by Channing Tatum (who knew this guy could be funny…he’s always brooding every time I see him), “21 Jump Street” is the funniest film of the year so far. Both cops find out that high school isn’t the same the second time around. While Janko was the epitome of cool in 2005, he finds that the shift of power now favors the more studious kids. Which works out fine for Schmidt, whose high school highlight was forming the Juggling Society (one man, three balls). It’s kind of like “The Breakfast Club” only now Anthony Michael Hall is cooler then Judd Nelson.

Both leads do a great job conveying they’re new stations in life. Ice Cube is the, in his words, stereotypical angry black police captain, and he has fun with the role. Supporting characters, including Chris Parnell, Rob Riggle and Dave Franco (James’ little brother and an upcoming talent to watch) keep the film moving along briskly.