Anchor Bay’s Born To Race Franchise Revs Up Again This Summer

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Born To Race: Fast Track, the latest movie in Anchor Bay Entertainment’s Born To Race franchise, will be released this summer. The movie stars Brett Davern and Beau Mirchoff, both of MTV’s Awkward. The pair star as small-town racing rivals Danny and Jake. The pair ends up being partnered together after summer scholarship to a top tier racing school. Danny also finds himself in a relationship with love interest played by Tiffany DuPont (Greek). Veteran actor Corben Bernsen (Psych, L.A. Law, Major League) co-stars along with Diogo Morgado (The Messenger, The Bible, Son of God), Grant Show (Devious Maids, Melrose Place, Private Practice, Big Love), and Sharon Lawrence (Rizzoli & Isles).

Director Alex Ranarivelo returns to helm this latest installment of the Born To Race franchise. He also directed the franchise’s previous film. He is joined by screenwriter Steve Sarno, who also crafted the script for the franchise’s previous film, and producer Ali Afshar. Afshar also produced the previous Born to Race film. He is also a professional race car driver.

Born To Race: Fast Track will be available for digital download via iTunes August 29th. It will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and OnDemand Tuesday, September 9th. The DVD will retail for SRP of $22.98 while the Blu-ray will retail for SRP of $26.99. More information on Born to Race: Fast Track is available online via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/BornToRaceMovie and http://twitter.com/borntoracemovie. More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://www.anchorbayent.com and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. 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.

Fleischer’s Superman Flies Higher Than Ever In New Blu-Ray Re-Issue

Courtesy: Gaiam

Superman is flying again.  And this time it’s thanks not to DC, but to a little company called Gaiam.  Thanks to Gaiam, Max Fleischer’s classic Superman cartoons have been restored and made available once again to the public.  These classic cartoons are an example of everything that was once right with animation.  And now not only can the generation that grew up with these classics enjoy them once more, but so can a whole new generation.  At a time when DC and Marvel are increasingly going toe to toe with one another, churning out feature after feature (both on the big and small screen), this double disc collection is a welcome breath of fresh air for comic book fans the world over.

While there may have been only a grand total of seventeen episodes of Superman created by Max Fleischer between 1941 and 1942, those seventeen episodes are some of the finest animation to ever grace any television screen.  As with so many early pieces of animation, Fleischer and his team of nearly six hundred (yes, nearly six hundred) animators gave Superman its own identity through their work.  This is something that has so sadly been lost in today’s “animated” features.  Being that so many “cartoons” are created via computer, they all look alike.  They’re sterile.  They have no real identity, compared to the likes of Superman.  Sure, older cartoons such as these took massive amounts of time, money, and staff.  But the end result is well worth it.  That is evidenced here.

One might ask how it’s known that Fleischer used nearly six hundred animators and large amounts of money to create Superman.  The answer to that is simple.  The commemorative booklet included in this double disc set gives a full in-depth history lesson on how Fleischer came to ring one of the greatest superheroes of all time to the small screen.  Dr. Thomas R. Reich, Ph.D. explains in the culled information that the shorts collected in this set were the result of discussions between Paramount and Fleischer Studios over a Superman movie.  Because of the costs that the movie would have incurred, the two sides agreed that instead of a Superman movie, Fleischer would break up its movie proposal into what is now one of the earliest of the Superman TV series.  Dr. Reich explains with excruciating detail how the series eventually came to life, and just as soon came to its end.  There are also discussions on Fleischer Studios’ early days creating the likes of Gulliver’s Travels, Betty Boop, and even Popeye.  The bonus booklet even includes a full episode listing with equally in-depth synopsis for each episode.

The bonus booklet included in this new Superman Set offers loads and loads of trivia for audiences.  The story of how these seventeen shorts came to be is enlightening to say the least.  Just as enlightening is the revelation that it’s Fleischer and company who are to be credited with the now famous lines, “Faster than a speeding bullet” and “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”  This is just one more example of the value of this set to audiences.  Valuable information such as this, along with the equally impressive animation and storylines make this Blu-ray re-issue of Max Fleischer’s one of the best kids’ releases of the year.  It also makes it one of the year’s best in the category of general DVD’s and Blu-rays.  It will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, October 30th.

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NCircle Entertainment brings back another piece of television nostalgia

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

The 1990’s was one of the greatest eras of television.  That’s especially the case for children’s programming.  However, it wasn’t the only great era of broadcasting for kids.  Kids had a lot from which to choose during the 1980’s, too.  One of the greatest of the cartoons from the 1980’s was the one and only Super Mario Brothers Super Show.  Who doesn’t remember watching this after school animated classic on the original Family Channel way back before it became Fox Family and then ABC Family?  Now, fans that grew up watching Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool take on King Koopa can enjoy a whole volume of episodes all over again, thanks to Super Mario Brothers Super Show Volume One.

Originally, both volumes of this classic cartoon’s episodes were released by Shout! Factory in 2006.  Now, NCircle Entertainment has re-released the show in a trimmed down format.  This collection offers all of the classic Super Mario Brothers Super Show cartoons sans the live action segments that bookended them in the show’s original airings.  As enjoyable as those segments were, the cartoons themselves were just as enjoyable.  And Volume One has more than its share of enjoyable episodes.  Volume One sees Mario, Luigi and Toad having to care for Princess Toadstool after she’s turned into a baby.  Also, Mario and company tackle the classic tale of Jack and The Beanstalk in their own way.  And in a Halloween themed episode, the gang faces King Koopa and his evil minions in their own take on Brams Stoker’s horror classic, Dracula.

One of the key episodes in this most recent release of Super Mario Brothers Super Show is “Two Plumbers and a Baby.”  It could be argued that the title is a spoof of the classic 80’s movie franchise, “3 Men and a Baby.”  In this episode, Mario Luigi, Toad, and Princess Toadstool are in the kingdom of youth.  They have to face down King GooGoo GaGa Koopa.  Of course, it’s really King Koopa in disguise.  They are hunting Koopa down because he’s using the kingdom’s fountain of youth for his own evil purposes.  Surprisingly, the fountain works.  Only it works too well.  When Princess Toadstool accidentally falls into the fountain, she gets turned into a baby.  So Mario, Luigi, and Toad are left to protect her from King Koopa.  She causes all kinds of trouble for the guys along the way, including being carried away on a raft.  Things reach a head when the princess follows some fireflies to Koopa’s castle. During the conflict, Mario and Luigi swing King Koopa into the fountain, turning him into a baby, too.  Once he’s out of the way, the guys turn the water’s flow and turn everyone back into an adult.

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed more than popular culture during its run on television.  It also spoofed classical literature.  One of the best of those spoofs is in the episode, “Mario and The Beanstalk.”  This episode is a loose take-off of the classic tale, with a few minor changes thrown in.  Mario and Luigi have to get 100 Gold Coins to save the Mushroom Kingdom orphange.  So the princess tells them to sell the royal cow to get the coins.  They end up selling the cow for a handful of Garbanzo beans.  When they bring the beans back, the princess is anything but happy.  She tells them that she’s allergic to Garbanzo beans, and tosses them out.  While everyone is sleeping later that night, a giant beanstalk grows.  The group discovers the beanstalk in the morning, and climbs it to see how high it goes.  It leads them to a castle in the sky.  Instead of a giant, they encounter a giant King Koopa.  In their attempt to outrun Koopa, they stumble on his treasure room, and the fabled “Golden Goose.”  Instead of laying eggs, the goose lays Gold Coins.  When they help the goose escape being held captive by Koopa, the goose helps Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad get away from the castel.  They all get out together and climb back down the beanstalk where Mario cuts it down.  When the beanstalk falls, it brings Koopa’s castle with it.  The castle falls into a pond, causing Koopa to shring down to their size. 

Jack and The Beanstalk is just one piece of classical literature that The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed during its run.  In “Count Koopula”, Mario and the gang are lured into the castle of Count Koopula, who is, of course, really King Koopa.  This time, he takes on the mantle of the infamous Count Dracula.  As they try to escape Count Koopula’s castle, the group has to face wereturtles, zombie Goombas and Koopa’s lead henchman, Mouser.  When the princess is captured, the guys take some spare garlic that they have, and eat it.  They use their powerful garlic breath and natural light to defeat Koopa.  Koopa turns into a bat and flies out the castle, leaving it to crumble after being defeated.  The group gets out of the castle safe and sound before it crumbles.

Super Mario Brothers Super Show has so many great episodes.  There are far more in this new volume of episodes than there is room and time to discuss.  That in mind, this is one more great piece of nostalgia for anyone who gew up in what is arguably one of the greatest eras of animation.  After having released so many single disc collections, it’s great to see NCircle Entertainment release this newest double disc set.  And with any luck, whenever the next volume is released, it will include  not just the rest of the show’s original episodes, but the Mario Bros. plumbing live action segments that originally came with the show, too.  Until then, this first volume is still a great chance for many viewers to go back to their own childhoods once again.

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