Fitz And The Tantrums Kick Off ESPN Networks’ US Open Coverage

Courtesy:  Elektra Records

Courtesy: Elektra Records

Fitz and the Tantrums will be live at the U.S. Open next Monday, August 25th.

The hit pop group will kick off the ESPN networks’ coverage of the U.S. Open Monday night with a special live performance as part of the annual tournament’s opening festivities. The group is scheduled to perform at 7:45pm ET on ESPN2. The group has posted a video to YouTube to tease its upcoming live performance. It can be viewed online now here.

More information on this and every upcoming live performances by Fitz and The Tantrums can be viewed along with all of the latest news from the group online now at http://www.facebook.com/fitzandthetantrums and http://fitzandthetantrums.com. More Than Just a Dream, the group’s latest full length release, is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes now at https://smarturl.it/fitzdream. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Spirit Of Satch Is Anything But Another Covers Album

Courtesy:  Concord Records

Courtesy: Concord Records

Covers albums, like greatest hits albums, are among the most overly used records in the music industry.  Regardless of genre, there are almost as many covers and hits albums in stores and online every year as there are albums of new music from artists across the genres.  The problem with these albums is that it’s obvious that they are nothing more than fillers used for the purpose of contractual obligations.  One listen through their track listings proves this. For all of the forgettable covers and hits albums that pollute store shelves and online outlets each year, there are thankfully those diamonds in the rough that actually stand out among the masses.  Those hidden gems show that for all of the space fillers that are out there, there are those artists that take covers albums, hits albums and tribute records with at least a certain amount of seriousness.  One of those hidden gems that has been revealed in 2014 comes from veteran performer Dr. John in the form of his Louis Armstrong covers/tribute album Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch.  This thirteen-track record is more than just a collection of covers from one of the greatest names in the industry.  The covers included on this record exhibit not only the spirit of Satchmo, but also the very creative spirit of music itself.  While the songs on this record are largely full-blown re-imaginings of Armstrong’s original works, the creativity used in each song will lead this record to grow on even the most hardline of Louis Armstrong fans.  And it all starts right off the top with Dr. John’s re-imagining of Armstrong’s greatest hit, ‘What A Wonderful World.’  Dr. John’s jazzy cover of ‘I’ve Got The World on a String’ will most certainly impress audiences as it’s one of the few songs on this record that stays close to the original work.  The addition of blues great Bonnie Raitt doesn’t hurt the song, either.  And his collaboration with the famed Dirty Dozen Brass Band on ‘When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You’ is the perfect closer for this record.  As impressive as these songs prove to be in the long run, they’re only part of what makes Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch such a rare release.  The album’s other ten tracks are worth their own listen, too.  And in hearing all thirteen tracks on this disc, any listener will agree that this record definitely stands out as one of this year’s truly rare covers/tribute albums worth hearing.

Dr. John’s new Louis Armstrong covers/tribute album Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch is one of 2014’s rare covers/tribute albums that is actually worth audiences’ attention.  And it isn’t just because it is from one of the most respected names in the music industry today.  That is proven right off the top with his cover of Armstrong’s most beloved of songs, ‘What A Wonderful World.’  Dr. John collaborated on this cover with gospel greats The Blind Boys of Alabama and fellow New Orleans native Nicholas Paton.  At first listen, the song will most certainly leave some audiences scratching their heads.  That is because it is a completely re-imagined take on the classic tune.  Rather than taking the safe route here, Dr. John and company give the song a decidedly upbeat almost gospel-style turn, making it into more of a celebratory song than the more reserved piece which audiences have come to know.  Of course that is thanks to the inclusion of The Blind Boys of Alabama on this take.  It may not grab some audiences at first.   But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  That’s because it will grow on said audiences that give the song more than one chance.  Those audiences will realize that the more celebratory tone, as different as it may be, actually works when one takes into consideration the song’s lyrics.  Armstrong once sang on this song of all of the things that make the world so, well, wonderful.   Audiences that take that into consideration will in turn appreciate this rendition for the surprisingly positive re-working that it proves to be in the long run.  And in doing so, it will lead audiences to give this album’s other songs just as much of a chance, too.

If the re-imagining of ‘What A Wonderful World’ doesn’t win over listeners, then perhaps his duet with fellow blues legend Bonnie Raitt on ‘I’ve Got The World on a String’ will.  This hybrid jazzy/bluesy cover comes as close to the original as possible without actual mirroring said song.  Raitt and John both pay proper tribute to Armstrong in this take.  Audiences that are familiar with both artists’ style will be pleasantly surprised by their ability to balance the song’s jazz roots with their own bluesy addition to the composition.  Audiences that have heard Tony Bennett and k.d. Lang’s Armstrong covers album won’t be able to ignore the comparison to their covers here.  That’s because both Raitt and John exhibit a true reverence for Armstrong’s work here more than anywhere else on the album.  That reverence will most certainly have purist Armstrong fans dancing arm in arm and *ahem* cheek to cheek (bad pun fully intended here).

Dr. John’s duet with Bonnie Raitt on his cover of ‘I’ve Got The World on a String’ is without a doubt this record’s peak moment.  Coming in a close second is the cover of ‘When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You).’  The song, which features Dr. John’s fellow New Orleans musicians in The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, closes out the album.  And such a song proves to be the perfect way to close out such an imaginative collection of covers.  The song’s run time comes in at just under three minutes.  To be exact, it clocks in at two minutes and forty-two seconds.  Dr. John takes a back seat throughout most of the song, letting the members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band have the spotlight instead.  For those audiences that are less familiar with the work of the band, this song is a wonderful first impression from its members.  Those that are more familiar with the band’s body of work will be just as impressed with the ability of the band members to mix its trademark Dixieland sound with a more Latin-tinged sound.  The end result is one more truly creative and original cover of one more of Armstrong’s most beloved works.

The collaboration with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band as the final number for Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch proves to be the perfect way to close this record.  That is because it once more exhibits Dr. John’s respect for Louis Armstrong’s legacy and Armstrong himself.  Just as with all of the songs that come before it, it pays homage to Armstrong’s legacy by balancing the song’s original sound with something of a more original arrangement.  In this case, it doesn’t stray too far from the original tune.  Because it doesn’t, it is sure to leave listeners with that warm, happy feeling of nostalgia.  And what better way to go out after such an intriguing musical ride than with that warm, happy feeling?  By the song’s end, audiences will agree that having heard it and the album’s other songs, Ske-Dat-De-Dat is anything but another run-of-the-mill covers album.  It is one of the most creative covers/tribute albums released by any artist to date.

Ske-Dat-De-Dat­: The Spirit of Satch is available now online and in stores everywhere.  Fans can order it online now direct from Dr. John’s official Facebook page and website at http://www.facebook.com/DrJohn and http://www.nitetripper.com.  Audiences can also purchase Dr. John’s new album at any of his upcoming live performances.  Fans can check out Dr. John’s tour itinerary now on both sites as well.  They can also keep up with all of the latest news and updates from the man himself on both sites.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anchor Bay’s The Midnight Game Is A Fright Filled, Fun Indie Horror Flick

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Anchor Bay Entertainment’s new horror flick The Midnight Game is a surprisingly entertaining work for an indie horror flick.  The central point of the movie’s success is its script.  One watch of this fright-filled story shows that it’s not just another teen slasher flick.  For that matter, there’s barely any blood shed throughout.  It will however leave audiences guessing right up to the end.  Another reason that horror fans will appreciate The Midnight Game is the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  The cast knows that this movie is an indie flick.  And while the cast doesn’t necessarily ham it up per se, each cast member’s acting does come across as lightly poking fun at the whole teen horror sub-genre of the horror realm.  Last but not least of all worth mentioning about The Midnight Game is the fact that while it obviously lifts from certain other horror flicks, it doesn’t go so far as to blatantly rip off said movies unlike far too many movies out there regardless of their genre.  These three factors each play their own role in the overall success of The Midnight Game.  Together, they make this indie horror romp one that any fan of the genre will want to watch at least once now that the movie is officially available in stores and online.

The central point of The Midnight Game’s success lies in the movie’s script.  At first glance, one might think that this movie is going to be just another run-of-the-mill gore fest loaded with lots of references to people taking part in satanic rituals.  The reality of the movie is that it is anything but.  Sure, it is essentially another teen horror flick.  But at least it isn’t just another one of the standard gore-filled slasher/evil spirit flicks that are all too common nowadays from the world of horror.  Yes, there is some blood shed at points in the movie.  And there is one very brief moment of nudity.  But both elements have been kept to a minimum.  For that reason alone, the movie’s writing staff is deserving of a certain amount of credit.  There’s no denying that there is at least some predictability at certain points in the story.  But the writing staff makes up for that by throwing in a rather interesting twist ending, which will not be revealed here for the sake of those that haven’t yet seen this frightfully fun teen horror flick.  It is a twist though, that will leave audiences wondering and talking.  And that it will have that lasting effect is a fitting final testament to the talents of those behind the movie’s script.

The talents of those responsible for crafting the script behind The Midnight Game are definitely worth noting in the overall enjoyment of the movie in whole.  The work of those charged with crafting the story’s script goes a long way toward making the movie work.  The same can be said of the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  The cast—Renee Olstead (The Secret Life of the American Teenager13 Going on 30Still Standing), Shelby Young (The Social NetworkDays of Our LivesEverybody Hates Chris), Guy Wilson (Little Black BookDays of Our LivesThe Open Door), Valentina de Angelis (As The World TurnsGossip GirlBereavement), and Spencer Daniels (Star TrekThe Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonThis Is 40)—doesn’t necessarily ham it up.  But it’s obvious that the cast members had fun with their roles throughout the movie’s filming.  They did take their roles with a certain level of seriousness.  But they didn’t take them so seriously that they went over the top.  Their acting could be argued to have even been a little bit of a spoof of the teens in every teen-centric horror flick ever released to a point.  That’s really what made this aspect work so well.  They were just that spot on in their depictions of the stereotypes used in all the other teen horror romps already out there.  Audiences will know in watching the cast at work that they are watching a movie.  Yet thanks to that acting, audiences will still want to watch what happens to each “teen” next, even going so far as to laugh at their characters at some points.  Again, herein lies one more reason that any horror aficionado will want to see this movie if only once.  There is still more worth mentioning even after considering both this aspect of the movie and its script.

The script and acting that went into The Midnight Game are both key to the movie’s overall enjoyment and success.  Anyone that is familiar with the world of horror will note in watching though, that this movie bears quite the similarity to a number of other horror flicks out there.  Those flicks include the likes of: Fear Dot ComThe Ring, Shadow People and others of that ilk.  Audiences that give The Midnight Game will see the comparison rather early on and even in the story’s final minutes.  The catch is that while the similarity is there, The Midnight Game doesn’t go so far as to directly rip off those works.  Despite being loosely related to said movies, it still maintains its own identity against them, thus helping to maintain at least a certain sense of originality.  That is the final touch to this movie that makes it one of this year’s more surprising entertaining indie flicks.  It’s a movie that any horror aficionado should watch at least once whether this Halloween or any other time of the year.

The Midnight Game is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered directly online via the official Anchor Bay Entertainment website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?ProjectId=8e063eb4-72ab-e311-b062-d4ae527c3b65.  More information on this and other titles available from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at http://www.anchorbayent.com, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

eOne’s Latest Geronimo Stilton DVD Is More Mousy Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Geronimo Stilton is back again.  Everyone’s favorite rodent reporter is back in a brand new DVD courtesy of eOne.  Geronimo Stilton: Going Down To Chinatown And Other Adventures is available now on DVD in stores and online.  There is just as much to enjoy about this new DVD as eOne’s previous Geronimo Stilton compilations.  The first factor worth noting is of course the writing that went into each of the four episodes included on this disc.  Also worth noting is the series’ animation.  The original style animation to which audiences have become accustomed on previous Geronimo Stilton DVDs is present here, too.  And rounding out the whole thing is the return of the series’ voice cast once more.  All three of these factors, when taken into consideration both by themselves and collectively, show why any family will want to watch Geronimo Stilton: Going Down To Chinatown And Other Adventures.

The central reason for the overall enjoyment of Geronimo Stilton’s latest DVD compilation is the writing that went into each of the episodes included on the disc.  Stilton is essentially Scholastic’s answer to Indiana Jones.  While he’s a mild mannered reporter by day, he is also quite the adventure seeker.  In the disc’s title episode, audiences see Geronimo and his friends go on an adventure that leads to quite the unexpected end after finding a mysterious old letter and map.  What makes this episode really enjoyable is that it actually incorporates a light history lesson along the way.  That lesson is taught so covertly that young audiences wouldn’t even know.  The series’ writers are to be commended for balancing that educational content so well with the show’s more entertaining side.  The surprising end result will leave a smile on any viewer’s face as it in itself teaches quite the valuable life lesson.  And it’s just one of the wonderful lessons shared throughout these episodes that make them such a joy.  It’s just one lesson taught in this collection of episodes.  The overlying lesson that runs through each episode is that it’s perfectly fine to have a love of knowledge.  That is key to the enjoyment of these episodes more so than any other lesson.  Being that this lessons isn’t shoved down audiences throats, the end result is even more enjoyment of each of the compilation’s episodes.

The writing used in each of this set’s episodes is of the utmost importance in considering what makes the collection work.  As important as the writing is to the overall presentation, it isn’t the only factor to be taken into consideration in the presentation’s overall enjoyment and success.  One would be remiss to omit any mention of the original animation style used in this collection of episodes.  The animation style used throughout the Geronimo Stilton animated series looks to have been actually hand drawn.  While it is possible that there might have been some computer usage, it isn’t clearly evident.  If anything, the animation used in this series is similar to that of the short-lived DC series Krypto The Superdog.  Whether or not there was some computer usage, the fact remains that in an age of cookie cutter CG-based children’s shows, animation such as this stands head and shoulders above the rest.  And together with the continued solid writing, that animation makes this box set stand out among this year’s current crop in its own right.

The animation and writing that went into each of the episodes in this set both play their own role in making Geronimo Stilton: Going Down To Chinatown And Other Adventures enjoyable for audiences of all ages.  Having examined both factors, there is still one factor left to examine that makes this DVD worth the watch.  That final factor is the voice cast.  Included among the talents that worked on the series were the likes of: Brian Drummond, Erin Matthews, Sarah Edmonson, Richard Ian Cox and many other. The significance of the series’ voice cast is that many of them have also worked together on the likes of the hit anime series Inuyasha and Dragonball Z among other TV shows and movies. So, that familiarity with one another helped in its own way here as it helped to create a certain chemistry among much of the cast. The end result of that chemistry is an easily suspended disbelief among audiences. The ability of the show’s cast to make suspension of disbelief easy for audiences couples with the series’ animation and writing to make even clearer why any family not yet familiar with Geronimo Stilton will want to check out this DVD.

Geronimo Stilton: Going Down To Chinatown And Other Adventures is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K2OBWTM/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1WPBH8WP2DTRA82510SA&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. More information on all of the latest Geronimo Stilton books and DVDs is available online at http://www.geronimostilton.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dragonforce’s New LP More Than Lives Up To Its Title

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Euro-metal band Dragonforce released its latest album to American audiences this week.  Maximum Overload, the band’s sixth full length studio effort, is an aptly titled record.  That is because the album pushes the envelope of power metal from start to finish on this album.  From the album’s pummeling opening number ‘The Game’ to the full throttle ‘Defenders’ to the album’s equally nonstop pounding instrumental closer ‘Galactic Astro Domination,’ the members of Dragonforce leave listeners breathless by the album’s end.’  Listeners will agree that by the time the album finally ends—it runs a total of fifteen tracks and just over an hour—they have on their hands some of the best work that the band has crafted to date.

Dragonforce wastes no time getting things moving on its new album.  The band opens the album at breakneck speed in ‘The Game.’  The song initially comes across as being rather nihilistic.  But the reality of the song is that it is in fact a song that presents hope through all of the negativity in the world.  New front man Marc Hudson starts out singing of life’s difficulties, “Messed up once again/Told me it’s okay/But this path that I’m taking/I’m lost in the deep end…I tried/So hard/To reach for the stars/But I failed you all/Tried to keep standing tall/Never had a real chance at all/But I’m still searching.  That final line in which Hudson states “But I’m still searching” is a hint at the ability of the song’s subject to keep pushing on somehow despite so many negative thoughts.  That mix of emotions and strained thoughts continues late in the song as Hudson sings, “Ten thousand ways to say sorry/But life writes its own tragic story/Time marches onwards and nothing can ever be the same/But we’ll pray for a brighter tomorrow/Break free from this lifetime of sorrow/Years pass us by/But we’re all just a part of the game.”  In its own way, the song is presenting an image of someone pushing on through everything despite what seems like a battle with his or her own personal emotional demons.  Said figure won’t let those negative emotions take over no matter how many years pass.  This is just one critic’s own take on this song.  So it could very well be wrong.  If it is in fact incorrect, then apologies go out to the members of Dragonforce for the misinterpretation.  But it certainly seems to present that message of determination through the toughest of emotional odds.  That seeming positive lyrical message set alongside the pummeling dual guitar attack from Herman Li and Sam Totman, and drummer Gee Anzalone’s machine gun-like drumming makes even clearer why this song was chosen to open Maximum Overload.  The band doesn’t stop here, either.  Rather, it keeps the energy flowing well into the red and beyond right into the album’s midpoint, ‘Defenders.’

The seeming positive lyrical message presented by Dragonforce in Maximum Overload’s opener is echoed even more clearly as the album reaches its midpoint, ‘Defenders.’  Hudson sings in this song that there are those in this world that will try to bring others down.  But one can’t let those people win.  He sings of those people, “Life’s uncertain/A rat race of pain/Endlessly searching for more/Hopeless and aimless/Held back by the chains/Until we can’t take anymore.”  For all of the obstacles in life—both physical and emotional—Hudson reminds listeners that they should not give in or give up.  He goes on to sing, “Hold on/Stay strong/Breaking out from a past life fading/No more/What for/All we got is to keep on praying/Wait for their downfall/Their lives in dismay/Witness the final decay/Suffering in silence/For years we were blind/But now we got something to say.”  It’s almost as if Hudson is saying to the band’s audiences to let life’s obstacles destroy themselves whether they be other people or some other obstacle.  As with the album’s opener, the band keeps the energy going full throttle in this song.  That energy serves to make the song even more hard hitting and even more of a valuable addition to the album in whole.

The members of Dragonforce show time and again throughout the course of Maximum Overload their high level of talent. That is clearly evident in the songs already noted here. The album’s closer, ‘Galactic Astro Domination,’ more than exhibits that talent, though. Anyone that is familiar with the work of Dragonforce’s American counterparts in Powerglove will agree that Dragonforce takes the similar sound crafted by that band and ups it by a factor of at least one hundred in this full-on instrumental attack. And considering the nonstop adrenaline rush experienced throughout the songs that precede this one, it makes for a fitting final statement from Dragonforce on its new album. Whether it be for this full throttle finale, the other pieces noted or those equally driving pieces not noted here, fans of Dragonforce will find plenty of positives throughout this latest release from start to finish. Those fans will likely also find this album playing in their CD players and MP3 players quite a bit as a result.

Maximum Overload is available in stores and online now. It can also be purchased at any of the concerts on the band’s upcoming European tour. That tour will kick off Wednesday, September 17th at the Liquid Room in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. It runs through February 1st, 2015 in Brussels, Belgium. The band’s current tour schedule, news, and latest updates are all available online now at http://www.metalblade.com/dragonforce, http://www.facebook.com/dragonforce, and http://twitter.com/dragonforcehq. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Power Rangers In Space Volume One Is Another Out Of This World Box Set For Every Power Rangers Fan

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands/FOX

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands/FOX

The final chapter in Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise is also one of the franchise’s best installments.  And thanks to the partnership between Saban and Shout! Factory, the first half of that final chapter is finally available on DVD in the form of Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One.  Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One is one of the best of Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise first and foremost because of its writing.  All of the elements that made the Power Rangers franchise so beloved early on in its run are still present.  Making things better is the expansion of the Rangers’ world so to speak.  For the first time ever, the Rangers’ adventures aren’t limited to just Angel Grove and Earth.  There’s even a crossover with Saban’s  short-lived live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in this volume to sweeten the deal.  The episodes’ presentation is just as important to the overall success of this box set as the writing of each episode.  That is also worth noting concerning this box set.  And last but not least is the set’s packaging.  As with Shout! Factory’s previous Power Rangers box sets, this set has also been packaged in a manner that saves space on audiences’ racks.  All things considered, Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One proves in the end to be one more welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan.

Power Rangers In SpaceVolume One is a welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan’s collection especially if said fan doesn’t already own Shout! Factory’s previously released twenty-one disc megaset containing the full original seven-season Power Rangers run.  The primary reason for this is the writing incorporated into this half of Season Six.  All of the elements that made the franchise’s first five seasons so enjoyable are still present in these episodes including both the life lessons incorporated into each episode and the comic relief on the part of Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy (Bulk and Skull). In “A Ranger Among Thieves,” Andros (and viewers) learn an important lesson about right and wrong and the consequences connected to doing wrong. The season’s two-part premiere incorporates the familiar lesson of teamwork into the story.  These are just a couple of the lessons included in this season.  There are plenty more included across the episodes spread throughout all three of the discs that make up Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One. And those lessons are not all that the show’s long-time fans will appreciate in this latest installment.  Just as welcome, is the inclusion once again of the comic relief from Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy as Bulk and Skull.  Having left behind their short-lived careers as junior police officers and then aids to Detective Bullock at his own private eye office, Bulk and Skull are now assisting a crazy professor in his search for alien life.  The duo’s Laurel & Hardy style comic routines are just as funny as ever this season, and help to lighten the mood anytime that the pair is on screen.  The comic relief provided by Narvy and Schrier does just as much as the lessons taught throughout each episode, leading the two factors collectively to show solidly just why the writing in this half of Season Six continues to be just as impressive as in past seasons of the Power Rangers franchise.

The writing that went into each of the episodes presented in Power Rangers in Space: Volume One is highly important to the success of this latest Power Rangers release.  Just as worth noting is that the episodes presented here are presented exactly as they were in their original broadcast on FOX’s weekday afternoon FOX Kids programming block.  Unlike so many other series that see changes and edits here and there, none of the seasons of Power Rangers released so far by Shout! Factory have seen those edits.  It’s one more reason that Shout! Factory has continued to remain at the forefront of home releases for so long.  Audiences will see for themselves when they purchase this three-disc box set for themselves.

The writing and general presentation of the episodes contained in Power Rangers in Space: Volume One are both of high importance to the set’s success and enjoyment.  The last factor to examine in the success and enjoyment of this set is its packaging.  Just as Shout! Factory has made a tradition of presenting the Power Rangers’ episodes in their entirety, so has Shout! Factory also made a tradition of proper and respectful packaging.  While there are only three discs in this set, each one is placed on its own spindle inside the standard single-disc DVD case.  Two of the discs are placed on either side of a single insert while the third rests on its own spindle on the back of the case.  As with every previous Power Rangers release, this protects the discs from one another, thus preserving them and allowing for enjoyment for quite some time.  It is the final piece of the whole that makes Power Rangers in Space: Volume One a welcome addition overall for any true fan of this landmark franchise.

Power Rangers in Space: Volume One is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/power-rangers-space-vol-1.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial and http://www.shoutfactory.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Quiet Ones Proves Low-Budget Horror Flicks Can Be As Scary As Their Big Budget Brothers

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Quiet Ones, the latest horror/thriller from Lionsgate Films, is one of the scariest movies that horror fans will see this year if not the single scariest.  The phrase edge-of-your-seat is tossed around far too often in various film genres.  However in the case of The Quiet Ones, that far too oft term is quite properly used to describe this story.  It will keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish even with the movie coming in at just over an hour and a half.  It all starts with the script.  The script is one that while based on actual events, has crafted a story that successfully creates its own story.  It will leave viewers questioning quite a bit right up to the story’s twist ending.  The script is but one part of what makes The Quiet Ones work.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast makes the story even scarier.  There is something about the cast’s acting that will pull viewers in and at times, even send chills up viewers’ spines, thus leading to the edge-of-your-seat term even more justified here.  Last but hardly least worth noting that makes this movie work now in its home release is the bonus “Making of” documentary.  Much like the far too oft used phrase noted already, “Making of” featurettes hardly ever live up to the expectation of being bonus material.  The “Making of” featurette here only serves to deepen the overall experience and in turn makes the movie even scarier.  These three factors are but the tip of the iceberg that can be noted in what makes The Quiet Ones one of 2014’s scariest movies.  Audiences will find plenty more for themselves when they purchase this movie for themselves.  And when they do, said audiences will themselves be making quite the noise (yes, bad pun intended) about The Quiet Ones.

So much can be said of the script behind The Quiet Ones.  This script isn’t just another one of those run-of-the-mill, over-the-top slasher flicks or even just another ghost story.  The movie’s script writers have crafted in this piece a story that combines an absolutely terrifying tale of the occult with an unexpected human drama, both of which combine to make a story that will leave even the hardest of unbelievers questioning what they believe right up to the story’s twist ending.  And the script itself is only part of what makes the story work as surprisingly well as it does.  The movie’s trailers made it come across as just another found footage film.  The reality of this movie is that it in fact is not just another one of those works.  Audiences will note that while there is an element of the found footage genre, it isn’t just another found footage flick.  That element is used more as part of the story rather than as the story itself, if that makes any sense.  It is used to help advance the story at various points rather than being used as the crux of the script, to hopefully make that clearer.  This is all discussed at length in the bonus “Making of” featurette that has been included in the movie’s new home release.  The discussions on those and so many other topics add even more depth to the movie.  The end result is a respect for the movie that some viewers might not have previously had should they have seen the movie while it was in theaters early this year.

The deep and deeply terrifying script crafted for The Quiet Ones is the center of the movie’s terrifying success.  It’s just one element of what makes the movie work.  Also worth taking into account is the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  The Quiet Ones is a low budget film.  Going back to the in-depth bonus “Making of” featurette, this is noted in that featurette.  The thing is that typically, when one thinks of low budget films (such as the ones churned out by Syfy), one thinks of everything wrong with the movie industry.  But in the case of The Quiet Ones both the script itself and the acting on the part of the cast made this movie a success.  Actress Olivia Cooke (The Signal, Bates Motel, Ouija) steals the spotlight as the troubled young Jane Harper.  Viewers can’t help but watch her as the movie progresses.  At no one point does she ever try to take things over the top.  There is just something on which a finger can’t be placed about her acting that makes it work.  Perhaps as (again) noted in the bonus “Making of” featurette, it is her ability to go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye.  Her cast mates—Jared Harris (Natural Born Killers, Lincoln, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Erin Richards (Open Grave, Breaking In, Gotham) feed off of that energy and serve to heighten the story’s tension and terror.  Audiences will see that in their gradual transition from believers in science to believers in something much darker and less capable of being explained away.  They expertly interpret the script and present a fear that audiences can almost feel as they watch the story unfold.  It proves to be a feeling of terror that audiences will find it hard to shake even after the movie ends.   That is one more sign of acting done right.  So, kudos are in order for the cast of The Quiet Ones for doing their part to make this movie a terror in the best possible way.

The acting and writing that went into bringing The Quiet Ones to life are both key to the movie’s success.  Despite the work of the scribes charged with bringing the movie to life and that of the movie’s cast, this underrated horror was largely lambasted by audiences and critics alike.  Now that it is being released to DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU, audiences will see it for its true value especially thanks to the movie’s bonus “Making of” featurette.  Far too often, moviemakers and studios try to throw in these additions to movies in hopes that they will make their movies more accepted.  The problem is that hardly often enough does that actually happen.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t always work.  The case with The Quiet Ones proves that it can and does at times make a movie more worthy of respect.  Audiences get an in-depth look at the movie’s script, the location shooting, acting, and so much more.  There are discussions on the inspiration behind the script, why the house in question was chosen and even on the choice of Olivia Cooke as the movie’s lead.  Audiences will learn why this story isn’t just another movie that is based on actual events.  They will learn about the terror factor in the house and Cooke’s ability to simply turn her emotions on and off for the cameras with ease.  There is so much to note that audiences would be best served to watch this featurette for themselves.  In doing so, both those that have and haven’t already seen The Quiet Ones will have a new respect for a movie that is one of the year’s scariest movies, hands down.

The Quiet Ones will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19th on DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack.  It can be ordered direct from the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=The%20Quiet%20Ones.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/linosgate, http://www.lionsgate.com, and http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.