Live At The Rainbow ’74 Is A Must For Any Queen Fan

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Eagle Rock Entertainment released the latest addition to its ongoing series of archived live Queen concerts last month.  Queen: Live at the Rainbow celebrates the 40th anniversary of the band’s 1974 performances at the famed Rainbow Theatre at London’s Finsbury Park.  The concert contained on the newly-released recording documents the band’s November 1974 performance at the theater.    There is a lot to like about this new recording beginning with the concert’s set list.  Unlike Eagle Rock’s previously released Queen concert recordings, this concert focuses on the band’s earlier days.  Another reason that this concert is so enjoyable is the quality of the recording from its original masters.  And last but most definitely not least of all worth mentioning is the band’s stage presence.  Even so early on, the band proved why it was a fan favorite.  That applies especially to legendary front man Freddie Mercury.  Each of the factors noted here are equally important to the overall enjoyment of Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74.  Together, they make the concert yet another must for any classic rock fan and any fan of what is one of the greatest bands in rock and roll.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recently released archived Queen concert recording Live at the Rainbow ’74 is a must for any fan of the band and of classic rock in general.  It isn’t the first of the recordings from the band’s career that Eagle Rock has released.  However, most of the band’s recordings that Eagle Rock has released in recent years have focused largely on the band’s later years as is evident through the concerts’ set lists.  Live at the Rainbow ’74 presents the band in its earlier days.  The band had only released its first two albums prior to this concert.  That means that obviously it didn’t have a lot of hits yet.  The most well-known songs included in the band’s set here are the likes of: ‘Stone Cold Crazy,’ ‘Killer Queen,’ and ‘Seven Seas of Rhye.’  There are plenty of audiences out there that probably are familiar with the other songs included in this recording.  But for just as many, it could very well be the first introduction to the band’s older and lesser-known material.  That alone especially makes this recording a must.  Simply put it is a music history lesson in itself.  It is even more so a history lesson than previously released archived Queen concerts.  Being such a rarity of a history lesson, it becomes even more of a must have for fans of Queen and of classic rock in general.

The focus on Queen’s earlier days in Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 is key to the enjoyment and overall importance of this recording.  Many of the band’s current archived concert recordings focus on its later years.  So this latest release is a welcome new addition to the band’s history.  Thanks to the painstaking efforts of those behind this release, the concert looks and sounds just as good as it did when the band first performed at the Rainbow Theatre four decades ago.  Anyone that knows anything about Queen knows that Freddie Mercury is one of the most respected vocalists in the music industry even though he is no longer with us.  That is because of his vocal prowess.  And it balanced expertly with the talents of his band mates in this show.  The end result is a recording in which not one member overpowers the other at any point from start to finish in its near hour and a half run time.  The concert’s video quality is just as impressive as its audio quality.  Especially considering how far video recording technology has come since 1974, the quality of the original recording itself from the angles to the concert’s overall look makes for even more enjoyment.  Thanks to the efforts of those charged with restoring said footage, audiences can once again (or for the first time) see just how talented the concert’s original camera crew was.  It is one more reason that this latest recording will impress any Queen aficionado and any lover of classic rock in general.

The overall audio and video quality in Queen’s latest archived concert together with its set list makes it a must have for any fan of Queen and of classic rock in general.  It is one more example, too of why Eagle Rock Entertainment to this day retains the title of the leader in live recordings.  One more important factor worth noting in this concert’s enjoyment is the band’s stage presence.  It has already been noted that Freddie Mercury is to this day one of the greatest vocalists in rock history.  He is also one of the industry’s most prolific front men period.  As audiences will see and hear in this concert recording, that wasn’t something that happened over time.  It is something that was the case from early on.  He was just as charismatic here in the band’s early days as he was in his waning days with the band.  Brian May kept the audience just as happy with his solid guitar playing.  This includes his driving solos.  Much the same can be said of Taylor’s drumming and John Deacon’s bass work.  The four musicians together exhibit so much energy and enjoyment throughout the course of the concert.  The band’s audience feeds off of that energy and gives it back just as much.  It translates so well on screen that it leaves home viewers feeling just as excited watching the concert as those that were in attendance for the original performance.  The reason that that positive energy translates so well is the work of those charged with restoring the concert from its original masters.  Add in a set list full of largely lesser-known songs, and audiences get in Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 a concert that is just as enjoyable today as it was forty-years ago.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

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Set It Off’s “Duality” Is A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off releases its brand new full-length studio effort Duality today.  The album, the band’s second full-length release and fifth overall release is an impressive new work. That is because it does so much to continue establishing the band’s identity, separating it even more from other bands to whom it had been compared early on in its existence.  While the band exhibits quite a bit of growth on this album, it also hasn’t lost the sound that made it so popular early on among its fan base.  That makes Dualityeven more of a solid new recording from Set It Off.  The combination of the band’s musical growth is evident in the album’s lead single ‘Why Worry.’  The band’s harder edged sound is present in this song.  But there is also a poppier sound mixed into the whole.  That balance of sounds alongside the song’s thought provoking lyrics makes clear why this song was chosen as the album’s lead.  Staying on a similar page, audiences will also enjoy ‘Tomorrow.’  Its Jimmy Eat World style sound crosses with its equally optimistic lyrics to make this song just as much of a surefire hit with listeners.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ is sure to ignite just as much of a fire in listeners because of its intensity both musically and lyrically.  These songs are just a few that exhibit what makes Dualitya solid second full-length release from Set It Off.  The album’s other eight tracks are sure to become favorites to listeners in their own right, too.  Collectively, all eleven tracks on Duality prove just why audiences will want to check out this latest release from Set It Off regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.

Duality is a record that every lover of rock should hear regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.  ‘Why Worry,’ the album’s lead single, takes the sound that made the band a fan favorite early on and mixes it with a somewhat more poppy, Fall Out Boy style sound in its chorus to make a song that proves to be quite catchy musically speaking.  The song’s positive lyrics make this piece even more enjoyable.  Front man Cody Carson sings in the song’s opening verse, “This sinking feeling sets/It feels just like a hole inside your chest/I know you’re thinking No, no, no, no it is easier said than done/But please let me attest/I know it’s hard/You’re feeling like you’re trapped/But that’s how you react/When you cannot see the light/But try and see the light/I’m telling you no, no, no, no you’re the only one/Standing in your way/Just take a breath/Relax/And tell me….Why/Please tell me why do we worry.”  The song comes across as addressing those individuals that think to themselves “Oh woe is me.” Carson says to those people in an attempt to motivate them, “You’re the only one/Standing in your way.”  The song’s second verse in which Carson sings about handling each day’s difficulties as they come rather than trying to cross bridges that don’t yet exist.  It proves to be quite the enlightening work and uplifting at the same time.  The addition of the song’s catchy hooks and choruses make it even more enjoyable and clearer why it was chosen as the album’s lead single.  Thanks to a partnership with Fuse TV, audiences can check out the song’s brand new companion video online at http://www.fuse.tv/videos/2014/10/set-it-off-why-worry-premiere. 

‘Why Worry’ was an excellent first choice to represent what Duality has to offer audiences.  Its combination of catchy hooks and choruses alongside its positive lyrics will both move listeners and get them moving.  Much in the same vein, ‘Tomorrow’ offers its own enjoyment and positivity.  Intended or not, this song exhibits something of a Jimmy Eat World style sound in its musical side.  Lyrically, it is just as uplifting as ‘Why Worry.’  Carson sings in this song, “They’re gonna try to clip your wings/Lock you up and make you sing/But they’ll never cage your dreams/So fly away/Cause we’ve got tomorrow/We’re the pages in the wind/We’ve got tomorrow/We’re the tale that lies within/There’s always another day/Another night/A bittersweet blessing in disguise/Tomorrow/We’re the authors of our lives tomorrow.”  Carson’s note that there’s always another “bittersweet blessing in disguise” is such a short statement.  But it speaks volumes.  He is saying that even things that seem bad could be blessings in disguise. And those hidden blessings are what make tomorrow better than today.  It is truly a positive message.  It is a message from which audiences of all ages can take some heart and hope.  That positive message set against the song’s catchy musical side makes it another of the best of this record’s moments.

The positive messages and catchy music that make up ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Why Worry’ make these songs two of the brightest moments on Duality.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ is certain to get any listener’s adrenaline flowing.  The song’s title and its lyrics leave zero doubt as to what the song’s topic.  It is a full-on lyrical assault on those that would attempt to lie and deceive others.  Those people include those people that call themselves friends but are so fast to stab people in the back among others.  Cody makes this painfully clear as he sings right off the top of the song, “Beware, beware be skeptical/Of their smiles/Their smiles of plated gold/Deceit so natural/But a wolf in sheep’s clothing is more than a warning.”  He goes on to sarcastically use nursery rhymes to illustrate his point.  That use of children’s nursery rhymes as a juxtaposition of children’s mentality to that of older individuals adds even more punch to the song.  And Carson’s diatribe that builds into the song possesses enough vitriol to make Eminem proud.  Though in his defense, who wouldn’t want to scream “Burn in Hell!” to those that have deceived us for one reason or another?  It is a powerful finishing touch to what is one more of Duality’s best moments.    Together with the likes of ‘Why Worry’ and ‘Tomorrow,’ Set It Off has proven once again why it is one of the best in the next generation of its genre.

‘Why Worry,’ ‘Tomorrow,’ and ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ are each excellent examples of what makes Duality a solid sophomore effort from Set It Off.  They aren’t the only positives to this album in whole, though.  The album’s gentle closer ‘Miss Mysterious’ is the polar opposite of the album’s opener ‘The Haunting.’  ‘Bleak December’ also offers its own value to the whole as does ‘N.M.E.’  All things considered, Duality is proof that Set It Off has just started and the future looks bright for this u-and-coming band.  The band will hit the road in support of Duality beginning tomorrow, October 15th in Orlando, Florida on the “Black Mass 2014” tour presented by Hot Topic.  Also along for the ride will be Black Veil Brides, Falling in Reverse, and Drama Club.  The tour brings all four bands to North Carolina next month.  It will make a stop at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 5th.  Tickets for the concert can be ordered online via Ticketmaster.  Set It Off’s complete tour schedule is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.setitoffband.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/setitoffband

Twitter: http://twitter.com/setitoff

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/setitoff

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.

Kruger, Wahlberg Give New Life To Paramount’s Transformers Franchise

Courtesy:  Paramount Studios

Courtesy: Paramount Studios

Paramount’s big screen Transformers franchise has been the center of a lot of discussion ever since the series kicked off seven years ago.  Ever since the series’ first installment was released in 2007, the reactions from fans and critics alike have been either hate or great.  There has been no gray area at all from audiences.  The reason for that clear division is that unlike other action flicks past and present, the Michael Bay-led series has ignored up to this point any real story and substance in favor of an overload of the action genre’s other standard elements.  Where those works fell, Transformers: Age of Extinction actually makes up for its predecessors if only slightly.  The reason that it works is the same reason that those movies didn’t work.  It doesn’t sacrifice story for standard action fare.  And perhaps the biggest reason of all for that is that writer Ehren Kruger had sole control of the movie’s script.  Kruger actually included some interesting elements to the story to balance out the standard action sequences and elements.   On the other hand, while Kruger’s writing actually made Transformers: Age of Extinction work better than the previous movies in the Transformers franchise, it also did just as much damage to the end product, too.  Making up for that is the surprisingly enjoyable acting on the part of lead actors Mark Wahlberg and Jack Reynor.  The duo’s back and forth makes for its own share of laughs as an occasional break from the more brainless elements of this flick.  If not for those more lighthearted moments Transformers: Age of Extinction might not have actually turned out to be as bearable as it did.  Thankfully though, that wasn’t the case.  It’s one more way in which Transformers: Age of Extinction outperforms its predecessors and proves to be worth at least one watch.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is an interesting work.  In comparison to both its own predecessors and all of the other prequels, sequels, and remakes that have been churned out this year, it surprises.  It actually proves to be a movie worth at least one watch.  The central reason for this is its writing.  Perhaps the biggest reason of all that the movie’s writing actually succeeds (even remotely) is the fact that only one person handled the movie’s script.  All three of the movies that came before this one in Paramount’s rather divisive franchise were developed by teams of writers, rather than one single person.  This time, Ehren Kruger, who also played a role in the franchise’s third film, was the sole individual handling the movie’s script.  The end result is a movie that has all of the trappings of the series’ previous installments, but also adds actual substance.  The story’s substance comes in the form of both Optimus’ and Cade’s own inner struggles.  Cade is struggling with having to let his daughter grow up and move on with life all while trying to keep from losing his family’s farm.  One the other side, Optimus must come to terms with his own feelings toward humans as a result of the events post Chicago (taken from the series’ third film).  While Yeager’s own personal struggles have no direct link to the movie’s central story, it serves as a nice diversion from all of the constant standard action flick elements.  The same can be said of Prime’s own struggles.  The only difference is that Prime’s personal struggles are directly linked to the story and do quite a bit to help him and the story evolve.

The addition of the inner struggles on the part of Cade and Optimus is one part of Kruger’s writing that makes this story work.  Another reason that the movie works as well as it does is that audiences aren’t made to feel like they have to have invested themselves in the series’ previous films.  Yes, it makes mention of the series’ third installment.  It also makes light reference to the events of the series’ first two films.  But thanks to Kruger’s writing, the movie actually standsjust as well on its own two proverbial feet as it does as part of the whole series.  This is something that every viewer will appreciate in this movie.  It also goes to show how right things can go when only one person has his or her hands in the pot.

Kruger did a lot right with the script for this latest installment in Paramount’s Transformers franchise.  For all of the positives to the movie’s script, there were also some blaring negatives, too.  the most obvious of the script’s negatives is the overt use of the standard action fare.  The nonstop chase scenes, fight scenes, and explosions are all there.  So is the standard damsel in distress figure.  This is the 21st Century.  America has come a long way since the days of women’s liberation.  So audiences should be offended (especially female viewers) that a female lead is once again shown as being helpless, cowering in fear, and in need of being saved while the men go out and save her and the universe.  Such writing does only a disservice to a story that otherwise is actually relatively enjoyable.  Hopefully if Micheal Bay and Paramount come to terms on another installment in the Transformers franchise, this is something that will be taken into account for said story.  If not, it would be no surprise if audiences take notice and start speaking up even more.

Paramount Studios and director Michael Bay giving full creative control of Transformers; Age of Extinction’s script was the best thing that could have happened for this movie and the franchise in whole.  Sure, the standard elements that weighed down the series’ previous movies are still present here.  But Kruger actually injects some real substance into this movie with the personal stories centering on Cade and Optimus.  Those stories add at least some depth to the movie.  Adding even more enjoyment to the movie’s enjoyment is the constant back and forth bickering between Cade and his daughter’s boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor).  It adds a little bit of a buddy comedy element to the story to help lighten the story’s otherwise rather tense mood.  Those that have seen Wahlberg’s work alongside Will Ferrell in The Other Guys will see a little bit of that same chemistry with Reynor here.  Taking into consideration Wahlberg’s other overly serious roles, this rare comedic take is a welcome breath of fresh air from Wahlberg.  Even in the movie’s big fight scenes, the pair still find time to bicker between one another.  Those moments make for some rather interesting moments that believe it or not are entertaining in their own right.  Their acting along with Ehren Kruger’s writing more than make up for this movie’s biggest downfalls.  The end result is a movie that will leave audiences agreeing that should Paramount not take another chance on the Transformers, Age of Extinction makes up for the series’ previous films and is a good way for the franchise to go out.  If Paramount should take another chance on the franchise one can only hope that Paramount and Michael Bay will bring back Kruger and Wahlberg once more as the pair has given hope that there is still life left in this franchise.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is available now in stores and online.  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.

Overkill Doesn’t Need New Tricks, Sounds To Impress On Its Latest LP

Courtesy:  eOne Music

Courtesy: eOne Music

Veteran thrash metal band Overkill has been making its own brand of rock for nearly forty years. Ever since the band released its debut album way back in 1984, the New Jersey-based band has built its fan base by sticking to what it knows best. Typically, producing the same kind of record with every release is a formula for a band’s demise. But somehow, Overkill has managed to disprove that formula with every release. That includes its latest full length studio effort White Devil Armory. This album, the band’s seventeenth (yes, seventeenth) presents a band with just as much drive and fire within its members as when it first started out all those years ago. Every one of the songs included in the recently released deluxe edition of White Devil Armory exemplifies just how much this band seems to still have in its tank. Collectively, they show that this band still has plenty of fuel left in its tank. It is definitely a candidate for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

A close examination of White Devil Armory reveals that this band still has plenty left to offer the metal community in whole. The thrash sound that audiences have come to know on the band’s previous releases is just as prevalent here as in those records. One of the best examples of why that sound makes this record works comes in the form of ‘Pig.’ This full throttle rocker will make any true metalhead proud. The full-on assault of guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer is the heart of this song. It displays what once made metal great. It is just solid shredding. Period. There is no down-tuned, crunchy sound here (or anywhere throughout the album). It’s like taking a musical trip back to a better era of music. And vocalist/found member Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s vocals are just as strong as he sings, “Listen to the horn blow/Up against the night glow/Someone left the bodies in the garden of the war show/Dig a grave or foxhole/Pile up the dead souls/Someone saw the bodies/Call damage control/Better get to know my name.” That first section of the song’s opening verse comes across as a not so lightly veiled commentary about the war in the Middle East. That could very well be wrong of course. It is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation. The second half of the verse strengthens that argument, though. Ellsworth sings in the verse’s second half, “The big celebration is getting me high/Feel the sensation of just getting by/Don’t know the answer/But I know the game/Treat them well/Give them hell/Buy and sell/Welcome to the rodeo-Pig.” It almost comes across as making commentary about politicians orchestrating everything as he sings, “Treat them well/Give them hell/Buy and sell.” That line alone makes one think about the backhanded politics and politicians that lead the wars into which American forces are thrown. The ferocity of the song in its own way adds even more fuel to that fire. Again this is just one critic’s own interpretation of this song. It would definitely be interesting to learn whether or not that was what the band was trying to get across to audiences. Regardless, it is without a doubt one of the best moments on this album because of that ability to create such discussion regarding its lyrical content and its balls-to-the-walls sound.

‘Pig’ is one of Overkill’s moments on White Devil Armory. That is thanks to its combination of thought provoking lyrics and no nonsense music. The band presents even more of that no nonsense, full throttle sound in what is another of the album’s high points in ‘Where There’s Smoke.’ This song is another that harkens back to the golden era of speed and thrash metal. It conjures thoughts of classic Anthrax and Metallica with its musical side. On its lyrical side, the song Ellsworth and company create just as much discussion as Ellsworth sings, “Did a lot of damage in a little bit of time/I was running out of smiles/With two feet inside the crime/Finger pointing at me in the name of good and right/When I’m standing in the darkness/Turn on the f&%#!&% light.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I was solid locked and loaded/Ready for the brawl/Standing in the killing field/Just outside the wall/Caught the scent of devil/Burning in the night/So I’m waiting in the shadows/Turn out that f&%#!&% light.” There is almost a sense of introspection about Ellsworth’s past here. The lines “Left the trouble back there in Jersey/Left the rubber just below the chrome” makes the song feel as if Ellsworth is saying his past is his past and he’s only looking straight forward. It’s almost like he’s saying, “Yes, these are things I did. But that’s the past.” This could again be a completely incorrect interpretation. It is just this critic’s own interpretation. Right or wrong, it proves in the long run to be one more excellent example of what makes White Devil Armory just as solid as any of Overkill’s previous records.

‘Pig’ and ‘Where There’s Smoke’ are both key examples of why White Devil Armory deserves to at least be considered for a spot on this and every critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums. One more song that easily qualifies this album for said list is the album’s lead single and semi-title track ‘Armorist.’ It’s no wonder that this song was chosen as the album’s opener and its lead single, too.   Ron Lipnicki’s machine gun-fast drumming and the solid shredding on the part of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer make this song an instant hit. On a random note, any Doctor Who fans out there will laugh at the fact taht Bobby Ellsworth sounds a lot like one of the Daleks here. The band produced this album itself and was joined by Greg Reely for mixing and mastering. Regardless of who was responsible for this aspect, that effect is a nice touch in this song. Audiences can check out the song’s official video online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_c3GBrWsao. It is a solid opener for the band on this its latest album. And for those that might be new to the music of Overkill, it is just as solid a first impression from what is one of the most legendary bands in the metal community.

‘The Armorist,’ ‘Where There’s Smoke,’ and ‘Pig’ are each great additions to White Devil Armory. Each song proves in its own way why Overkill is still one of the most revered bands in the metal community. They are only a small collective handful of examples of why Overkill is still so popular. The deluxe edition of White Devil Armory includes a total of thirteen tracks. That leaves ten more songs from which audiences can choose as their favorite(s). Regardless of which track(s) audiences choose as their favorite(s), the one thing on which every listener will be able to agree in listening to this album is that it definitely deserves to be included on any critic’s year-end list of the best new hard rock and metal albums. The band is currently wrapping up the North American leg of its tour in support of its new album. It will wrap up the U.S. leg of its tour with a pair of dates at the Palladium in Worcester, MA next Thursday and Friday, October 16th and 17th before taking some time off to recharge in preparation for the European leg of its tour. That leg begins Thursday, October 30th in Barcelona, Spain. Audiences can get a full listing of the band’s tour dates as well as the latest updates from the band online at:

Website:   http://www.wreckingcrew.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OverkillWreckingCrew

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.

When Santa Fell To Earth Is A Holiday Tale Unlike Almost Every Other

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment’s new Christmas-themed movie When Santa Fell To Earth is one of the best holiday-themed movies to come along in a very long time. The movie, which is based on author Cornelia Funke’s 1994 book by the same name, is actually surprisingly entertaining. This is the even with the movie being just another adaptation of a book. The main reason for the movie’s success is that despite being adapted from a book, its story actually stands out quite a bit from all of the other cookie cutter Christmas-themed movies. It follows the formula used by so many major studios lightly at best. Another reason for the movie’s success is its minimal use of special effects. And while it was originally done in German or another European language, the work of those responsible for dubbing the film made that dubbing nearly invisible. It may seem like a minor factor. But in the grand scheme of things, dubbing foreign films whether foreign to English or vice versa is very important. Good dubbing results in a movie such as this. Bad dubbing can make a movie into a third rate product not worth even finishing let alone watching. Luckily for this movie, that poor dubbing didn’t work. The end result is a movie that along with its somewhat original script and its minimal use of special effects proves to be as enjoyable as any other holiday-themed movie released each year.

The central reason for the success of When Santa Fell To Earth is its writing. More specifically, the script is to thank for its success. Given, it is based on a two-decades old book. But that book in question is not one that most would consider well-known. What’s more, while there are some alterations in the transfer from the printed page to small screen, they aren’t nearly as much as some adaptations of other more well-known literary works. The story itself also stands out from other holiday movies out there. Most Christmas-themed movies see an average person saving Christmas by filling in for Santa or getting others to realize the “true meaning of Christmas” through a series of events. Those are the most common plot lines in most Christmas-themed movies. This movie takes a road not just less taken but a road no one else saw, period. According to this story, there are actually multiple Santas. But they’ve all been frozen by an evil figure that wants to rule Christmas and turn it into a fully corporate holiday. Enter Nikklas Julebukk (pronounced YULE-uh-buck). Nikklas is the last Santa standing between the evil Gerald Geronimus Goblynch. It’s up to Nikklas to stop Gerald and his henchman, and save Christmas. Nikklas crashes to Earth in his flight from Gerald and his henchman, leading to his meeting Ben and Charlotte, who help him to stop Gerald. There are no big red sleighs. The only reindeer in the movie is one that audiences definitely won’t recognize. Its name is Twinklestar. And instead of the North Pole, Nikklas is trying to keep the story’s villain from taking over Yuleland. Some names and places have been changed in the transition from the printed page to the small screen. But by and large, the story has been kept the same. That and the fact that this story is unlike nearly any other out there within the Christmas-themed genre is more than enough reason to see this movie at least once.

The overall originality of this movie’s script even in its transition from the printed page to the small screen is the most important factor in the movie’s success. Another reason that audiences will enjoy this movie is its minimalist use of special effects. The only special effects come courtesy of some CG work to create a pair of “Christmas elves” and a pair of tiny angels who serve as Nikklas’ companions. The elves are entirely CG. The angels (yes, they actually incorporate angels alongside Santa—a very young Santa at that) are live actors. But their wings and flying effects were obviously created via CG and green screen. Even Gerald’s evil giant nutcracker “soldiers” looked like they had been crafted by hand. Other than that, everything else within this movie looks to be live action. Again, one can’t help but make a comparison to other holiday movies out there today. Set against most American holiday movies its balance of live action elements and special effects gives it a rare feel that audiences of all ages will appreciate. It’s one more way in which When Santa Fell To Earth stands out among the already overcrowded market of Christmas-themed movies currently on the market. And together with the its largely original adaptation from its literary companion, this foreign import becomes even more enjoyable.

The balance of live action elements and CG-based special effects in When Santa Fell To Earth and the largely original story adapted from the book of the same name are both important to the overall success of this straight-to-DVD feature. Rounding out the entire presentation is the movie’s dubbing. It would seem that the movie’s original presentation was German simply by observing the movie’s credits and its setting. That would make sense considering that the author of the book on which this movie is based is herself German.   Those charged with dubbing the movie into English are to be commended for taking such painstaking efforts to present a clean product. There are movies dubbed into English that don’t exactly translate very well. The end result is something that looks like the old school kung-fu flicks and Godzilla movies imported from Japan and China. That’s not a good thing. Luckily in this case that poor translation didn’t happen. Audiences almost can’t tell that what they are hearing is in fact American voices speaking over European actors. There are points here and there where audiences will be able to catch the dubbing. But it’s nowhere near as obvious as in those noted old school Asian imports. The end result is a movie well worth watching at least once this holiday season when taken into consideration along with the movie’s story and its balance of live action and CG elements.

The story presented in When Santa Fell To Earth is one of the most original holiday stories presented to audiences in a long time. Given, it is based on a book that was originally published two decades ago. But in comparison to all of the other holiday movies out there it still stands out. And for the most part, it actually stays largely true to its literary link. Only a few minor items were changed in the story’s small screen adaptation. The minimalist use of special effects makes the story even more worth the watch. In an age when even holiday movies seem to rely increasingly on special effects and CG elements, this movie’s balance of live action to special effects makes it all the more worth the watch. Rounding out the presentation is the dubbing process. It’s assumed that the movie, in its original 2011 release, was presented in German. Those charged with dubbing the movie into English for its release this year carried out their duties expertly. The end result of these factors together is a movie that every family should see at least once this holiday season. It will be available on DVD Tuesday, October 14th. It can be ordered direct online now via Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=bd0b8d9a-21f7-e311-a502-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other titles from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay

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20 Million Miles To Earth Is A Must See For Any Lover Of Classic Cinema And Sci-Fi

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The annual countdown to Halloween is on once again. With Halloween only a few more weeks away at the time of this review, everyone’s busy looking for a way to bring some frights and fun to their yearly celebrations. Mill Creek has given audiences two more wonderful options for their Halloween parties thanks to its release of the Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature. This new double dose of classic monster movies includes two of Ray Harryhausen’s great sci-fi/horror classics in the form of 20 Million Miles to Earth and It Came From Beneath The Sea. The second of the features will be discussed at a later date. For now, the focus will be solely on the first in the pair. 20 Million Miles To Earth is a wonderful watch not only for those Halloween parties this year, but for anyone that is a lover of classic cinema in general. The main aspect of this classic sci-fi flick that makes it work is its script. Yes, there’s at least one minor issue with the writing. That will be noted later. But by and large, the script for this movie is a big part of why audiences will love it. Just as important to the whole are the movie’s special effects. Compared to nearly every one of today’s way-over-the-top special effects blockbusters, the effects used in this piece are outstanding. And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the movie’s cast. The movie’s lead actors were no strangers to their crafts. They were quite versed as a matter of fact. The importance of this aspect will also be noted later. Suffice it to say that all three of these factors together make 20 Million Miles to Earth a must see whether at this year’s Halloween get together or any other time of the year by any lover of classic cinema. And together with its companion piece It Came From Beneath The Sea, it makes Mill Creek’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature an absolute must see.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s recently released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature is an absolute must see by any lover of classic cinema. While not the first time that the movies in this set have seen the light of day, they are very difficult to find on DVD or Blu-ray. So taking that into consideration, anyone with any love for the golden age of cinema will appreciate this double movie presentation. Looking specifically for now at the first of the features, 20 Million Miles to Earth, this movie works so well here for a number of reasons. One reason that it works so well is its writing. The story behind this movie was nothing new for the film industry when it debuted in June 1957. It sees an ever-growing lizard creature from Venus terrorizing the Sicilian countryside after having been released by a young boy named Pepe. The end result is the hunt and eventual killing of the unnamed creature. Legendary B-movie director Roger Corman had already churned out ten sci-fi classics when this movie debuted. And It Came From Beneath The Sea, the other film featured in this collection, had already debuted two years previous. Adding in to the believability of the story, the birth of the “space race” was only months away as Russia went on in October of that year to release Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. So it goes without saying that the fascination with worlds and beings other than our own was at an all-time high when this movie made its premiere. That makes the movie’s very plot so fun.

The plot behind 20 Million Miles to Earth, when set against the other B-movies of its era, is just as enjoyable as those churned out by fellow sci-fi legend Roger Corman and by Harryhausen himself. The plot is just one minute part of what makes this script work, too. The manner in which the movie’s writing team executed the story adds to the overall enjoyment. If not for young Pepe’s greed (he even tries to extort money from the American military officers when they come to investigate the crash), none of what happened might have happened. In turn there might not have been a story. One could argue that if not a child, then an adult might have done the same thing as Pepe. That’s true, too. So taking this aspect of the movie’s writing into consideration, one can’t help but wonder if the writers were trying to make a statement about the cost and danger of human nature a la 1951’s The Day The Earth Stood Still.   In the same vein, Col. Calder (played wonderfully here by William Hopper) makes a statement regarding the creature being docile unless provoked right before provoking the creature so as to capture it. That is so subtle but so powerful a statement about human nature, too. If Calder knew the creature was docile, why not try a peaceful means to corral it? Some might argue this to be a major plot hole. A more thoughtful analysis though, reveals that it could have been another lightly veiled commentary about the contradictory nature of humans in terms of their behaviors and thought processes. It’s really something to think about. It is that writing and commentary (intended or not) that along with the script makes 20 Million Miles to Earth such a wonderful watch.

The seemingly lightly veiled commentary aside, another reason that the script’s writing works so well is that the movie’s writing team even made certain to explain how the unnamed lizard creature managed to grow so fast. As was explained by one character, the Earth’s atmospheric make up was to blame for the creature’s growth. As long as it was breathing the air on Earth, it would keep growing every day. That most important of all of the story’s aspect is answered so quickly and easily. It’s one more way in which the movie’s writing team made sure to cover all of its bases when crafting the story. It’s the final part of the movie’s writing that makes the script (and the movie in whole) so enjoyable so many years after its premiere.

The writing that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth is a big reason for the movie’s success nearly sixty years after it debuted. That should be obvious by now. Another reason that the movie continues to be so beloved to this day is its special effects. Special effects have evolved so much throughout the history of the movie industry. While the special effects used in movies such as this might be considered simplistic by some, it is that simplicity that makes them so wonderful. The special effects of today’s major name blockbusters have completely jumped the shark for lack of better wording. They are almost entirely created via computer. Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion special effects in this movie (and others that he worked on) were done entirely by hand. Sure there was some movie magic incorporated along the way to help. But again in comparison to so many of today’s special effects extravaganzas, those effects are a product of their time. They are used as a part of the overall story rather than as the star of the film. Today’s action blockbusters are the polar opposite. That factor alone makes 20 Million Miles to Earth worth the watch. Together with its outstanding writing, the movie’s special effects make this movie even more of a must see for any lover of classic cinema and sci-fi.

The writing and the special effects that went into 20 Million Miles to Earth both play their own important role in the movie’s overall enjoyment and success. As important as both factors are to the whole presentation, there is still one more aspect worth noting in examining the movie. That final aspect is the movie’s lead cast. Anyone with any love of classic movies and television will appreciate the history lesson presented through just the movie’s cast. William Hopper leads the movie’s cast as Col. Robert Calder. Hopper is best known for his role of Private Detective Paul Drake in the classic courtroom drama Perry Mason. Drake was a major character in that series as he helped Mason solve a number of cases throughout the show’s run. Perry Mason, by the way, can still be seen today on Me-TV. He also starred opposite film legend James Dean in the 1955 hit drama Rebel Without A Cause. He starred alongside a then young Natalie Wood as the father to her Judy. On a side note, Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, Gilligan’s Island) also starred in that movie. Adding to Hopper’s resume, 20 Million Miles to Earth wasn’t Hopper’s first creature feature. He starred in another well-known creature feature that premiered only months before this one. That movie, released by Universal Pictures, is called The Deadly Mantis. For those that haven’t seen that movie, imagine Godzilla with a giant, radioactive praying mantis in place of the giant, radioactive lizard. Yeah. And instead of taking place in Japan, the giant mantis thaws out in the North Pole and comes to America to cause all kinds of havoc. It’s still a great watch, regardless. These are just some of the pieces in which Hopper starred. It goes without saying that Hopper’s experience in both action and drama roles proved him to be a good choice for his role. His wasn’t the only good choice, either. Hopper’s co-stars Joan Taylor, Thomas Browne Henry, and John Zaremba starred together in another of Ray Harryhausen’s hits Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers in 1956. So they were both just as natural for their roles in this film, too. It was probably Zaremba’s work on these sci-fi favorites that led to his casting in the cult hit sci-fi series Time Tunnel. That series ran for only one year from 1966 – 1967. It is still a fan favorite to this day, though. The movie’s other cast members each starred in some of the movie industry’s biggest names, too. Arthur Space played the supporting role of Dr. Sharman in 20 Million Miles to Earth. Only months before, he starred alongside famed actor James Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis as Donald Hall, the chief engineer of Ray Airlines. There are plenty of other actors whose resumes add plenty of credit to 20 Million Miles to Earth. But it would take far too long to note each one and their resume. Needless to say, one should have quite the clear picture by now of just how important the cast of 20 Million Miles to Earth was to the movie’s success. The cast’s collective experience shines through from start to finish here making it entirely clear once more just why this movie is still one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films in modern film history and why this movie was a wise addition to Mill Creek’s newly released Ray Harryhausen Creature Double Feature.

20 Million Miles to Earth is one of the greatest sci-fi flicks in modern movie history. So much went into the movie in such a small span of time. Its writing was simple yet so in-depth. The special effects headed up by screen legend Ray Harryhausen are so much better than those presented in today’s major blockbusters. Harryhausen’s special effects are part of the story rather than the star. They do so much to help advance the story. And last but not least of all is the movie’s cast. The cast—both the lead and supporting cast—came into the movie with quite the collective resume. That vast amount of experience shared between the movie’s cast shines through here from start to finish. It is the last touch in a movie that any lover of classic cinema and of sci-fi in whole must see at least once. Now that Halloween’s on its way again, that’s one more reason to pick up this new release from Mill Creek Entertainment. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Mill Creek Entertainment at http://www.millcreekent.com/20-million-miles-to-earth-it-came-from-beneath-the-sea-ray-harryhausen-double-feature.html. More information on this and other titles from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.millcreekent.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/millcreekent

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Lionsgate’s Latest Addition To Its Alpha And Omega Series Is A Fun, Family Friendly Halloween Flick

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate’s latest installment in its popular Alpha & Omega franchise was released to DVD/Digital HD combo pack late last month.  The family friendly flick, Alpha & Omega:The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave comes just in time for Halloween.  It was released exclusively via Wal-Mart stores nationwide.  It follows the release earlier this year of Alpha & Omega 3The Great Wolf Games and last year’s Alpha & Omega 2A Howl-iday Adventure, the franchise’s other holiday-themed story.  This latest adventure from the people at Lionsgate is a good addition to any family’s Halloween/Fall party this year.  The primary reason for this is the movie’s script.  It interweaves two different story lines for one whole that audiences of all ages will enjoy.  Another reason that this new direct-to-DVD feature works is its relatively short run time.  And rounding out the whole presentation is the movie’s animation style.  Each factor by itself plays its own important role to the overall presentation.  Altogether, the factors noted here make Alpha & OmegaThe Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave a movie that any family will enjoy not only at their Halloween party but at any time of the year.

The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave is not the first holiday feature that has been spawned from Lionsgate’s popular Alpha & Omega franchise.  It is the first from the franchise centered on Halloween albeit indirectly.  That’s one small part of what makes the movie’s script work as well as it does and will be discussed at a later point.  The script behind The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave is the central point of the movie’s enjoyment and success.  The script actually presents not one but two separate stories.  The first of the pair—the central story—centers on the legend of a cave that is thought to be haunted.  Young Runt (voiced for the second time by voice actor Dee Dee Greene) decides to find out for himself whether or not that legend is true.  The truth behind the legend reveals a surprising story within itself.  That story will be left for those that have yet to see this movie so as to not ruin it for said audiences.  Getting to the movie’s secondary story line, this story line focuses on Runt’s own attempt to establish his place in his pack as he tries to solve the legend of the saw tooth cave.  It’s a story to which any viewer can relate really.  He wants to prove that he’s not just a little kid.  Every young child eventually reaches that point in his or her life at which he or she starts to exhibit that desire not so much for independence but to establish himself or herself and find his or her own place in the world.  That is sort of what’s going on here in this story line.  Kane managed to weave together both story lines seamlessly.  The end result is a story that audiences of all ages will enjoy whether during their Halloween parties or any other time of year.

Tom Kane’s well-written script is central to the enjoyment and success of Alpha & OmegaThe Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave.  The movie’s relatively short run-time is just as important as the script.  The movie’s run time is listed at forty-five minutes.  But the end credits roll just past the forty-one minute mark.  So the reality of the movie is that it really is not that long.  That’s especially the case when it is compared to most family films out there today.  Most children’s films today run anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.  That even applies to most holiday-themed family movies whether from major name studios or lesser-known studios.  Even when aimed at older children, such run times push the envelope in terms of keeping said audiences’ attention.  It makes this movie’s run time that much more important to the overall presentation.  Add in those two expertly crafted story lines, and audiences get in this movie a movie that is even more enjoyable in the long run.

The writing that went into Alpha & Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave and its run time are of equal importance to the movie’s enjoyment.  When taking into consideration just these two factors, this latest installment in Lionsgate’s Alpha & Omega franchise proves to be a movie that holds its own.  It holds its own both in comparison to other family holiday-themed movies and in comparison to the other films within this franchise.  While both factors prove to be of equal importance in the movie’s enjoyment, there is one more factor to consider that makes the movie work.  That last remaining factor is the movie’s “animation.”  In an era when so many “animated” movies look like one another thanks to cookie cutter computer graphics, this movie can only really be compared to the likes of Dreamworks’ Over The Hedge franchise.  The comparisons are slight at best.  Though, those familiar with those movies will be able to catch the similarities even as minimal as they prove to be.  That means that this movie, much like the others in the Alpha & Omega series maintains its identity from other computer generated flicks.  And it does so with ease.  It is the final touch on a movie that while it may not be as well-known as other family friendly holiday films is still enjoyable enough in its own right.

Alpha & Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave may not be as well-known as other family friendly holiday films.  Despite this, it still is enjoyable in its own right.  Writer Tom Kane has crafted a script that weaves multiple story lines together with ease.  Neither storyline steps on the other at any point throughout the story, thus preventing the story from bogging itself down.  The movie’s run time—and by connection its pacing—make the story even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.  The movie’s relatively original animation style rounds out the whole presentation, making it a movie well worth adding to any family’s Halloween party this year and any year.  It is available now exclusively in Wal-Mart stores nationwide.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

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