Book Review “Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale”

Authors: Nick Nunziata, Mark Cotta Vaz
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 18, 2016

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

This seems to be the year of “Pan’s Labyrinth” getting a resurgence. The film is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary (can’t believe that it has been that long already). This film has been one of my favorites and one of the best from Guillermo Del Toro. When it comes to a visual eye, he is the man to deliver and this film is overloading with beauty and style. “Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale” gives us an exclusive look into the making of this wonderful modern marvel and does not disappoint. It also is stocked tight with a foreword by Guillermo Del Toro himself. I love his passion and it shows how much work and effort in each one of his films. This is a must owe book for any fan of “Pan’s Labyrinth”.

Official Premise: To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this acclaimed fantasy, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinthprovides the definitive account of the film’s creation. Written in close collaboration with the director, this volume covers everything from del Toro’s initial musings, through to the film’s haunting creature designs, the hugely challenging shoot, and the overwhelming critical and fan reaction upon the its release.

The book dives deep into the production of this amazing movie with some beautiful concept art and rare set photos. If you are looking for the ultimate behind-the-scenes look into Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth then look no further than this book! It is not just pretty photos though this book also has interviews with the film stars Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdu, and Doug Jones and also key players like producers Alfonso Cuarón and Bertha Navarro; and director of photography Guillermo Navarro. This film is a classic and this book represents it perfectly!

 

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Fallen Preview: A Tale of a Century-Old Love

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The intersection between movie motifs and the supernatural is one that audiences are often invited to travel across by script writers and directors.

From straight-up thrillers involving antisocial beings from the beyond to heart-warming tales of those on earth finding comfort in those from the spirit world, the use of spirits and all things ethereal has proved hugely popular with movie makers over the years.

Naturally, as we slip further into 2016, that trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down thanks to the pending release of Fallen. Not to be confused with the 1998 movie of the same name featuring Denzel Washington as homicide detective John Hobbes, the 2016 version of Fallen is a British, Australian and American hybrid production based on Lauren Kate’s Fallen novels.

The Guidance of Angels

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Known for her young adult novels, Kate’s Fallen was originally published in 2009 and focuses on the love story between accused murder Lucinda Price and her school mate, Daniel, who it transpires is an angel. Wanting to enliven this idea with some sights and sounds, Nichole Millard turned the story into a screenplay and Scott Hicks (famous for the movie Shine) took charge of the directorial side of things.

Despite being slated for release in 2015, the movie has had its setbacks, but Kate herself has stated that it will hit movie theatres in September 2016. At its core, the movie focuses on the relationship between Price and Daniel who has “loved her for a thousand years”. However, beyond the budding love between the two characters, the movie is also an exploration of how a belief in something beyond the physical world can help change someone’s life.

Among faith healers and psychics, the role of angels in our life is well known. According to popular wisdom, angels are constantly watching over us and if we’re able to channel their power we can fix certain issues in our life. To that end, many people now use angle therapy as a way to communicate with guardian angels such as Archangel Chamuel (peaceful relationships), Archangel Michael (the truth teller) and Archangel Gabriel (overseer of the creative).

A Supernatural Love Triangle

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This appears to be the concept Kate, and latterly Hicks, has taken to a new level in Fallen. Instead of sitting down and tapping into the spirit world with the help of a therapist, Price has a direct line to her guardian angel. However, as with all tales of love and reform, the path to salvation is never easy and, despite a chance encounter with Daniel, Price also falls for another schoolmate in the form of Cam (also an angel).

This love triangle then becomes a battle between heaven and hell with Price stuck in the middle of two supernatural beings who have loved her for centuries. The overall premise of Fallen is far from unique, but if the production is slick and the acting is on point then it should do well. Indeed, the spirit world motif is one that often does well with audiences when it’s combined with a love story.

Will be a blockbuster? Probably not, but if the spirits are watching over the movie then it should do well enough to satisfy the production company and Fallen’s original author, Lauren Kate.

Blu-ray Review “Dolphin Tale 2”

Starring: Harry Connick, Jr., Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Running Time: 107 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Living in Florida, I knew that I had to watch “Dolphin Tale”. It was a good film and after watching it I even took my daughter to go see Winter at the Clearwater Aquarium, which was cool. Honestly, this wasn’t really a film that was screaming for a sequel. The story is cute but it doesn’t stand up to the first film, to be honest. Same cast returned, which is always nice but it doesn’t help either. At least they dropped the terrible 3D gimmack from the first film, which was an incredible waste of time in my opinion. Some kids might enjoy this but it is quite slow moving and at times sad, so be wary there for sure.

Official Premise: The inspiring true story of Winter isn’t over. Several years after receiving a prosthetic tail, Winter loses her surrogate mother, leaving her alone, grieving and unwilling to engage with anyone, even her best human friend, Sawyer (Gamble). Worse, she may have to be moved from her home at the aquarium due to regulations requiring dolphins to be paired. When Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick Jr.) and his dedicated team can’t find her a companion, it looks like they may lose their beloved Winter… until an unexpected turn of events brings them Hope.

Warner Home Video is releasing this as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet digital HD code. The 1080p transfer is good looking but nothing special. The audio though delivers a surprise DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, which is good but not really fully taken advantage of either. The special features are ok  but all quite short. “Underwater Magic” features Writer/director Charles Martin Smith, producer Broderick Johnson, cinematographer Daryn Okada, and actors Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff discussing shooting in water.

“Look Who’s Running the Show” features Smith, Gamble and Zuehlsdorff talking about the sequel. “Bethany Hamilton Meets Winter” focuses on the cameo from Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton. “The Mission” is a featurette about Clearwater Marine Academy. “True Story” looks into the events that inspired the film. Lastly there is a music video for Zuehlsdorff’s “Brave Souls” and Gavin DeGraw’s “You Got Me” and a blooper reel included.

Dolphin Tale 2 arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on December 9 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Film Review “Dolphin Tale 2”

Starring: Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 47 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When we last left Winter the dolphin, she was swimming happily (thanks to her prosthetic tail) and had become an inspiration to handicapped people the world over. But that wasn’t the end of her story.

It’s been three years since Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) and Winter became national celebrities. The pair spend their days entertaining the many visitors to the Clearwater Marine Hospital (which has now become a mini-aquarium). As the film begins Winter is visited by Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost her arm to a shark a few years ago (and has her own film, “Soul Surfer”). Things seem to be going well. But they’re not. Winter is getting moody. When her tank mate, a much older dolphin named Panama, passes away, the gang at the aquarium face a predicament. Find a new pal to keep Winter company or lose her to a Texas theme park.

The first “Dolphin Tale” film seemingly came out of nowhere and swam its way into the hearts of filmgoers, earning in excess of $70 million during its run. It was a well written story with an important message that families took to heart. And while the new film has its moments, it has some plot holes that keep it from really reaching the same heights as its predecessor, most of them centered on the film’s young cast. But before I go into them, let me clear up a few things. Like the first film, “Dolphin Tale 2” is based on some true events, most of them dealing with the dolphins featured. For fans of the first film, I should point out that there really IS no Sawyer Nelson. Winter was not rescued by a lonely 11-year old boy after washing up on a beach. She was saved after being caught in a fisherman’s net. And while it’s nice to have Sawyer (and Hazel, the 14 year old daughter of the hospital director) hanging out with the dolphins, they are just TOO smart and given way too much responsibility to be believable. If I was a trained marine biologist and my day had to begin by being lectured by a 14 year old on how to do my job I’d find another one in a minute! Just because we see a giant microscope and two thesauruses on Sawyer’s bookcase doesn’t make him Matt Hooper (inside “Jaws” reference). In one scene Hazel picks up Winter’s medical charts and begins diagnosing her blood work. And I’m sorry, but for two kids that work outside IN FLORIDA year round, neither of them can seem to get a tan. Casper the ghost isn’t as white as Hazel.

On the positive side, the film features some fun scenes featuring a nosy pelican and a giant sea turtle, as well as introducing us to a cute baby dolphin named Hope. Director Smith, who also wrote the script, does a good job in moving the film along. Younger children will enjoy the antics of the various animals involved and, like the first film, the end credits, showing handicapped children visiting and interacting with Winter, will bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat.

Ashleigh Ball talks about film “A Brony Tale” and her role in “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”

Ashleigh Ball is known best for voicing both Applejack and Rainbow Dash in the TV series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. She is also narrating and starring in the similar themed documentary “A Brony Tale”, which focuses on the male fan-base surrounding the TV series “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ashleigh about the documentary and the new season of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”

Mike Gencarelli: Being the voice of both voice Applejack and Rainbow Dash; give us your reaction on this enormous fandom surrounding “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”?
Ashleigh Ball: It is something that I would have never anticipated. There is no way to prepare yourself for something like this. It is very cool to get recognition for doing voice work. It is also very cool that it is a totally unexpected group of people. So it is all weird and wonderful and I love it.

MG: How did you meet up with Brent Hodge to narrate and star in “A Brony Tale”?
AB: Brent and I have known each other for a while now going back to 2008/2009. We met through music. He used to work at CBC Radio 3 and did some interviews with my band Hey Ocean! and we got to know each other that way. We became close and he was always willing to help out with the band. So we were out to dinner one day and we had this discussion about Bronies. I told him he should come to BronyCon with me and start filming this because it would make a really cool documentary. So he agreed and followed me around and got a taste of the Brony life.

MG: Was BronyCon your first interactions with Bronies?
AB: My first interaction was actually caught on film. You can find it on YouTube. Brent also put the clip of me in the film as well. It was at a concert that I played in Vancouver. I was playing a show with my band and afterwards a group of guys came to the merchandise booth and asked me to sign their ponies. They were Bronies and they came all the way from Seattle. So that was the first time I met a Brony in person…and definitely not the last time!

MG: Do you think that this film will have an impact for these fans?
AB: Yeah. I think it is a great introduction into the world of Bronies. It explains who they are and what they stand for. It is way more of a community than the actual series. It is a good for someone who is not familiar with Bronies and think it is weird or perverted. It definitely clears up the whole Brony mystique.

MG: How did the film get support from Morgan Spurlock?
AB: Yeah, it was pretty crazy. Brent worked for a company in San Francisco and was at a Super Bowl party and Morgan was there. They told them about he was doing a documentary about Bronies. Morgan loved the idea, watched the film and called the next day and wanted to be involved. He is really excited about the film and the subject matter. I got to meet him in NY and he is a very cool guy.

MG: Season four of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” just ended but I am sure that fans are looking forward to season five already; any news from that?
AB: Yeah, we are in the process right now of recording season five. It is great. I can’t tell much about the episodes, but it is going to be very great. Lots of cool music and plot twist. Yeah, it is going to be great. It has such great writing and it is a wonderful show to be a part of.

Chazz Palmenteri talks about his one-man play of “A Bronx Tale”

Chazz Palmenteri is known best for his roles in films like “The Usual Suspects”, “A Bronx Tale”, “Bullets Over Broadway”, in which he received an Oscar nomination. Chazz brought his one-man play “A Bronx Tale” back to Broadway in 2007 and since then he has been continuing to tour each year with this show. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with him about the show and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: “A Bronx Tale” hit Broadway in 2007 and hasn’t stopped since; tell us about your journey you are taking with this one-man show?
Chazz Palmenteri: I originally did this back in 1989 and I brought it back to Broadway in 2007 since there was a whole generation of people that didn’t get to see it. It was just going to be Broadway for six months and that’s it. It was such a huge success, they wanted to do a National Tour and I thought I would finish in Vegas. So I did it again in Las Vegas in 2009 after the tour and then it became show of the year and they just keep calling me back. Now I do the like two or three dates a month traveling it around. I want to keep doing it. I can’t stop because people keep wanting to see it.

MG: The show is a real physical workout; how do you prepare for it each night?
CP: I just stay in really good shape. I work out a lot. I am on the treadmill a lot. I watch my weight. I just take care of myself and that is the only way that you can prepare for this. You really just have to be in really great physical condition.

MG: How long do you see yourself touring with this show?
CP: I still am doing plenty of film and TV but I am going this in between gigs. I love doing it. I don’t know, I will continue to do it until I can’t physically or people don’t want to see it.

MG: Ever considered filming it and releasing it on Blu-ray/DVD?
CP: I have thought about that but I haven’t decided what I wanted to do with the show yet. But we will see.

MG: What else you got in the cards next?
CP: I do have a big film that I wanted to talk about. I will be in London this month shooting, “The Kray Brothers” with Tom Hardy. I am really looking forward to that.

Here are the rest of the upcoming show dates for the tour of “A Bronx Tale”:

July 12th – Atlantic City – The Golden Nugget
Oct 4th – Buffalo NY – Kleinhans Music Hall
Oct 10th & 11th – Huntington LI – The Paramount Theater
Oct 17th – Morristown NJ – Mayo Performing Arts Center

Blu-ray Review “Winter’s Tale”

Starring: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Run Time: 120 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to fairy tales and supernatural tales, I am a big of a sucker despite the film being perfect or not. “Winter’s Tale” is one of those. It is far from perfect but I found something magical about it that drew me in and kept me entertained. Even though I was not a fan of “Saving Mr. Banks”, Colin Farrell was quite amazing in it. After “Les Miserables”, I am gung ho for Russell Crowe and he continues to nail it, even in this film. Jessica Rose Brown-Findlay is best known for playing Lady Sybil Crawley in “Downton Abbey”. What I want to know is how the hell did Will Smith end up in this film. That’s right Will Smith in a rather small but nice role. Even though this film was smashed by critics and failed at the box office, if you are looking to escape for two hours, I would still recommend it.

Official Premise: New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake (Farrell), orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn (Findlay), a young girl, who is dying.

Warner Bros is releasing this film as a combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD and Ultraviolet Digital Copy. One thing about this film that I did like very much was the way that it was shot and its use of colors. The 1080p transfer really looks phenomenal. I loved looking at this probably more than I did watching it as a whole.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track also has a certain magical feel to it, probably thanks to Hans Zimmer’s score. In the special features department, there is some but not much included. There is a look into the production, which was based on the 1983 novel in “Winter’s Tale: A Timeless Love”. There is a profile on the “Characters of Good & Evil” with cast. Lastly there are a few additional scenes included.

Own “WINTER’S TALE” on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on June 24th


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Film Review “Winter’s Tale”

Starring: Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe
Directed by: Akiva Goldsman
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 58 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 1/2 out of 5 stars

“What the hell did I just see?”

That was my first comment to the studio representative after I screened “Winter’s Tale.” Allow me to save you two hours of your life: In 1895 a young man, with his wife and new baby, are attempting to enter the United States. Sadly, because of an illness, they are ordered back to Ireland. They beg to stay or at least leave their baby behind, thinking he would have a better life in the new world. Rebuffed, the father steals a model of a sailing ship and, when no one is looking they lower it, with the baby attached, into the harbor, apparently with the hope that the wooden toy model will carry the baby to Brooklyn. We jump ahead 21 years later to find Peter Lake (Farrell) the baby, now grown up, running from Pearly Soames (Crowe) and his gang. Cornered, Peter makes the acquaintance of a snow-white horse, one that bows and beckons Peter aboard. Once he’s on its back, he heads toward Pearly and his goons, eventually JUMPING OVER the 12 foot gate and flying away. No, seriously.

So begins what I can only imagine a film that read much better on paper. Director Goldsman, making his feature film directorial debut, is an Academy Award winning writer (“A Beautiful Mind”) that ought to know better. This film deals with immortality, chance, Satan and so many incredulous plot devices that wouldn’t pass for muster anywhere, much less New York City! When, in present day New York, Peter is asked to provide two forms of ID and can’t you have to wonder, as I did, how in the hell is he living in a nice apartment with no ID or obvious source of income? I mean this makes surviving a trip in a toy boat in New York Harbor almost believable! Almost.

Sadly the biggest waste here is a very fine performance by Colin Farrell. Equally good, in what amounts to an extended cameo, is Jennifer Connelly. Crowe appears to still be channeling Inspector Javert from “Les Miz,” only with a nasty scar added to his chubby cheeks. By the time of the “big reveal”, and if you’re still reading this you must be somehow intrigued, you’ve hopefully figured out the story. If not, like Peter Lake, you’re on your own!

Blu-ray Review “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale”

Actors: Elle Deets, Yuri Lowenthal
Directors: Richard Rich
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes

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

“The Swan Princess” started back as a 1994 animated fantasy musical film based on the ballet “Swan Lake”. Fast forward to 2014 and we get “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale”, which is the fifth film in the series and which also celebrates the 20th anniversary. The film is cute but the animation is low-grade and it couldn’t keep our attention for the short 80 minutes.

Richard Rich has been behind this series from the beginning and has directed and produced each and everyone of these sequels. He is also behind the sequels in the “Alpha and Omega” series. You have to give him props for keeping it going for five films now but I think it might be time to call it quits on this series. These stories are all stand-alone, so I am sure he can keep it going for twelve movies like “The Land Before Time” but this will probably be the last one I watch.

Official Premise: Shortly after the Royal Family adopts a young girl named Alise, she is taken away into the forest. Princess Odette, Prince Derek and their woodland friends, Jean-Bob the Frog and Speed the Turtle, must work together to find a way to bring her home to the castle.

Sony delivers this film in a two disc combo back with a Blu-ray + DVD and HD Digital Ultraviolet Copy. In terms of special features, there are two bonus Sing-A-Long videos for ““We Wanna Hear From You”” and ““Right Where I Belong””. Also included is a free, sparkly tiara for those little young princesses and a free Shutterfly Photo Book ($29.99 value) for the parents. Honestly, this is worth the purchase alone just for the photo book.

 

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3D Blu-ray Review “A Turtle’s Tale 2: Sammy’s Escape from Paradise”

Voices: Carlos McCullers, Pat Carroll, Cinda Adams, Chris Andrew Ciulla, Dino Andrade, Isabelle Fuhrman and Wesley Johnny
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Vivendi Entertainment
DVD Release Date: July 9, 2013
Run Time: 92 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

“A Turtle’s Tale 2: Sammy’s Escape from Paradise” is the sequel to the very cute animated “Sammy’s Adventures: The Secret Passage” (aka “A Turtle’s Tale: The Adventures of Sammy”).  The film is not perfect but it was fun.  Same applies for the sequel.  At least Vivendi Entertainment is releasing this combo pack including a DVD, Blu-Ray and (hooray) 3D Blu-Ray. The first film was not released on 3D Blu-ray.  The 3D really adds a nice topping to this film and kids should definitely enjoy it. A lot of great in-your-face moments and family fun to be had here.

When Sammy and Ray find themselves trapped in The Tank, an underwater restaurant/aquarium, they must hatch a plan to escape and reunite with their grandkids Ricky and Ella. But they’ll have to get past Big D and his dopey thugs first. With the help of some unlikely friends, Sammy and Ray find that when you work together anything is possible!

The 1080p transfer is really clear and sharp. The colors are really vibrant and definitely stand out.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds great, especially with the music. Daris Rucker delivers the tunes and they are some fun songs.  There are no additional special features included with this release.  But to be completely honest, I would rather trade a few measly special features to have the 3D Blu-ray option. It is really worth the price of the Blu-ray, no question.

Blu-ray Review “Dolphin Tale”

Starring: Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 53 mins
Warner Brothers

Overall Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Dolphin Tale” is definitely a fun for the whole family. If you are able to catch this film though, the best way to do it would be in its filmed 3D presentation. The story of rescue of the dolphin, Winter, is nothing out of the ordinary and the story has been done before but this one stands out as something special. This film is just packed with a big heart and some really great acting including great performances from Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. The film looks decent is 2D, even though it would shines much more in its 3D presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is fantastic and really shines during the water scenes. Overall this is a heartwarming film that does it job very well in entertaining families this holiday season.

The special features includes are decent. The first one is called “The Hutash Rainbow Bridge” is a sort of CGI short, which is definitely fun and a definite for kids. “At Home with Winter” is 15-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film with the cast and crew, nothing great but not bad either. “Spotlight on a Scene” features director Charles Martin Smith and producer Andrew Kosove as they discuss the ffilm’s opening sequence and the 3D dimension. The longest special feature on the disc is “Winter’s Inspiration”, about 20 minutes, which focuses on the true story of Winter. Not sure how it is really related to “Dolphin Tale” but there is an animated short called “Ormie and the Cookie Jar about a pig trying to reach a cookie jar on top of a refrigerator. It’s cute but doesn’t fit. There is one deleted (and forgettable) scene called “Winter Meets Panama”. Lastly there is a fun gag reel.  This combo pack includes the Blu-ray and DVD, also included is a Ultraviolet Digital Copy to watch anywhere from your computer or digital devices.  I really enjoy this feature.

Synopsis: In an inspiring story of the bond between animals and humans, a boy named Sawyer discovers an injured dolphin, who is brought to a marine hospital and named Winter. Unfortunately, her injuries cost Winter her tail, without which she may not survive. But with Sawyer’s devotion, a marine biologist’s (Harry Connick Jr.) and the brilliance of a prosthetist (Morgan Freeman) charged with creating a new tail, Winter may receive a second chance at life.

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DVD Review “A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures”

Directed by: Ben Stassen
Starring: Yuri Lowenthal, Melanie Griffith, Tim Curry, Anthony Anderson and Stacy Keach
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 88 Minutes
Studio: Vivendi Entertainment

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Since 2003, whenever there is any movie about talking animals it gets compared to just another “Finding Nemo”. Well, this film is not a total rip-off and is kind of enjoyable. First off the CG effects in the film are decent and really colorful. This originally came from Belgium and was recently released in the UK on 3D Blu-ray. I have seen that edition and honestly prefer it, especially when you watch certain scenes made specifically to shine in 3D.

The story is entertaining for kids but also sets out to deliver a message about the global warming.
Sammy, the sea turtle, takes an incredibly 50 years journey traveling the world. Along his journey he meets many friends, including love interest Shelly and also deals with some serious issues though, which was a bit of downer for me. Luckily, Sammy is really cute when he is younger and the film definitely takes shines more during that time.

The voice cast is notable and includes Melanie Griffith, Tim Curry, Anthony Anderson and Stacy Keach. If your kids notice the voice of Sammy, that because Yuri Lowenthal is also the voice of Ben 10 and Sasuke from “Naruto”. The soundtrack is fun and notable. Overall If you are a fan of this film, I would suggest catching it in 3D if possible. Also if you are looking for a sequel, “Sammy 2: Escape From Paradise” is being released August 2012…but only in France.

 

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Blu-ray Review “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale”

Directed by: Jalmari Helander
Starring: Tommi Korpela, Per Christian Ellefsen, Jorma Tommila, Jonathan Hutchings, Onni Tommila, Risto Salmi, Peeter Jakobi, Rauno Juvonen, Ilmari Järvenpää
Distributed by: Oscilloscope
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 84 min.

Overall Score: 4 out of 5 stars

There is definitely something about this film that makes it stick. I have had numerous viewings of this film and it definitely gets better with each viewing. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I love holiday films but this is not your snuggley feel good film. Since it is considered a horror film though, it is almost virtually bloodless. I would have like to see more carnage but overall I was left relatively satisfied. I have a feeling that it is going to be ranked up there as a cult classic. along with “Black Christmas” and “Gremlins”. The film has a very large scale feel to it though doesn’t try to go overboard. The Blu-ray presentation is fantastic and really clear and the sound is also very impressive.

The story follows a young boy who believe that the Santa Claus is coming to town…literally, but he is not the happy giving St. Nick we know and love.  During an American-lead dig on Korvatunturi mountain, which sits right outside the village, the secret of Santa Claus might have been discovered.  With Christmas right around the corner it is up the boy to save the children of the village from being put on the naughty list.

The film is packed with great bonus features.  The original two short films “Rare Exports Inc.” (2003) and “Rare Exports – The Official Safety Instructions” (2005) are included, which inspired this movie.  “The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is definitely worth since the behind the scenes is very interesting. “Blood in the snow” is a  look at the concept art from the film.  My favorite feature is definitely the comparison for the animatics & computer effects since the film does have quite a bit of visual effects.  Also included is a photo gallery featuing behind the scenes production shots. Lastly there is the original theatrical trailer from Finland, which made me want to see this film to begin with and is far better than the American trailer.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland, and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn’t the one you want coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa’s elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare – a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality.

RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing.

 

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“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is Coming to Town October 25th

The dark comic gem RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE will be released on DVD and Blu Ray on October 25th. Based on the award winning shorts from director Jalmari Helander that have already acquired a cult reputation on the internet, this re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies features a Santa that you won’t want coming to town. This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus. Own the film that is soon to be required perennial holiday viewing just in time for Halloween.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland , and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn’t the one you want coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa’s elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare – a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality.

RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
– The two original short films in which the Christmas tale was born, Rare Exports Inc. (2003) and Rare Exports – The Official Safety Instructions (2005)
– The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
– “Blood in the snow” – a look at the concept art
– Animatics & computer effects video comparison
– Behind the scenes production stills photo gallery
– Original theatrical trailer from Finland

Official Site: http://www.oscilloscope.net/films/film/41/Rare-Exports-A-Christmas-Tale
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RareExportsMovie

Film Review “Dolphin Tale”

Starring: Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 53 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Hollywood is full of films with stories that inspire us. “Rudy.” “Rocky.” “The Shawshank Redemption.” These are movies that, when you leave the theatre, stick in your memory long after the lights have come up. A new film opens this week that joins this short list: Dolphin Tale.

Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is a young boy living with his mother in Clearwater, Florida. His father having long deserted the family, he looks up to his older cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell). A champion swimmer Kyle seemingly has the world at his fingertips. But rather than accept the many scholarship offers he’s received, Kyle joins the Army. Feeling he’s being abandoned again, Sawyer is not happy with the decision. Kyle assures the boy he’ll be back and gives him a gift inscribed “Family is Forever.” With school out Sawyer happens down to the beach. While there he comes across a dolphin caught up in some netting. Soon the dolphin is rescued and taken to a nearby marine aquarium. Sawyer follows and soon begins an adventure that will change the lives of everyone, and everything, around him.

Based on a true story, “Dolphin Tale” is a smart, funny film that packs a solid message. The cast is strong across the board, with youngsters Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who plays Hazel, the daughter of the aquarium director (Connick, Jr.), giving credible performances. On the adult side, Connick, Jr. excels as a father figure for Sawyer. Kris Kristofferson offers sage advice as the elder of the family. Freeman, who really should be declared a national treasure, brightens the film every moment he’s on screen. But the real star here is the real star: Winter the Dolphin. Playing herself, Winter is a natural performer. The bond she develops with Sawyer and the others feels real.

Because of her run in with the netting, Winter loses her tail. Freeman’s character embarks on a mission to create a prosthetic one for her. As Winter’s plight and circumstances become public the aquarium begins to attract visitors from all over the country, with a majority of them being families where one of the members has a handicap. It is these small moments, when a child in a wheel chair sees Winter overcome her hardship, that the film is at its most inspirational. Director Smith, probably best known to film fans for his roles in “American Graffiti” and “The Untouchables,” frames the film handsomely against the natural Florida beauty. If I have any quibble it’s that the 3D is practically non-existent and doesn’t really add anything to the story.

Read our interview with “Dolphin Tale” director Charles Martin Smith HERE