Lionsgate’s “Wings” Sequel Holds Its Own Against Disney’s “Planes” Sequel

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release the latest installment in its family friendly Wings franchise next Tuesday, July 8thWings: Sky Force Heroes is the follow-up to Lionsgate’s 2012 CG-film Wings.  Ace and Colonel are both back in this latest installment.  But unlike the franchise’s first flick, neither is a fighter jet.  Colonel (voiced once again by Tom Skerritt) is a high performance biplane while Ace (voiced again by Josh Duhamel) is just as high tech as a double prop plane this time out.  The return of the entire voice cast from the first film in the series is only one of the positives to this high flying, family friendly flick.  Anyone that is familiar with Disney’s Planes franchise will appreciate that as with the previous Wings this latest installment bears its own story despite its close similarities to Disney’s franchise.  That is the primary plus to this story.  And last worth noting in this movie is its CG-based “animation” style.  While the story is similar to that of Disney’s new Planes sequel, its look is more closely akin to Fox Searchlight’s 2005 movie Robots than any more recent CG-based movies.  This includes Disney’s properties.  All three of these factors together make Wings: Sky Force Heroes a good family friendly flick that’s worth at least one watch.

There’s no denying that Wings: Sky Force Heroes bears a distinct similarity in its script to that of Disney’s recently premiered Planes sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue.  Despite the similarity in question, Wings: Sky Force Heroes does manage to establish its own identity separate from that of the previously noted movie.  Rather than trying to make this movie into a sequel, the movie’s writing team—Harry Glennon, Mychal Simka, and Jordan Winsen—made it its own movie, complete with its own world.  It just so happens that in this story’s case the two leads go by the same name as the leads in the first of the Wings franchise.  Accepting that, it makes suspension of disbelief much easier in a case such as this.  The ability of viewers to suspend their disbelief makes taking in the story much easier and more enjoyable.

The ability of the writers behind Wings: Sky Force Heroes to craft a story similar to yet dissimilar to Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue is central to the overall enjoyment of the story.  Just as worth noting in the presentation’s success is the return of the entire lead voice cast from the original installment in the Wings franchise.  This is one area in which Lionsgate has truly scored.  Lionsgate has scored in this aspect in that Disney’s animated sequels (and sequels in general) rarely re-unite the cast from their predecessors.  This means potentially entirely new casts must get to know one another.  And that can hinder said sequels greatly.   The chemistry developed between Duhamel (Transformers 1 3), Skerritt (Alien, Ted, Top Gun) and the rest of the Wings cast obviously carried over into this latest high-flying family friendly flick from Lionsgate. And because it did, the cast had no trouble interpreting the story’s script and working together.  The end result was a movie loaded with plenty of family friendly content worth at least one watch.

The return of the complete voice cast from Wings and the ability of the writers behind Wings: Sky Force Heroes to craft a story that established the movie’s own identity both play integral parts in the success of this latest movie from Lionsgate’s Wings franchise. Last but not least of all worth noting about this direct-to-DVD feature is its animation. The movie’s animation sets it apart from anything that Disney, 20th Century Fox, and any other studio has churned out in recent years. It’s tough to tell one studio from another nowadays because it is all so cookie cutter. The closest comparison that can be noted with Wings: Sky Force Heroes is perhaps to Fox Searchlight’s Robots. As forgettable as Robots proved to be, few other studios if any have attempted a movie with a similar look since then. That serves to make the look of this piece stand out even more. That mostly original look to the movie combined with its cast and script come together to make Wings: Sky Force Heroes a truly fun, high-flying, family friendly film worth at least one watch. One thing is for sure, one watch will have spirits soaring just as high as the planes in the movie, given that chance.

Wings: Sky Force Heroes will be available exclusively in Wal-Mart stores and online on DVD/VUDU combo pack next Tuesday, July 8th. More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate, 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.

Scott’s Directorial Debut An Underrated Work Of Film Art

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Ridley Scott is one of the most revered directors in the movie business today.  To his credit, Scott has directed numerous hits including Bladerunner, Alien, Gladiator and many others.  While the aforementioned flicks have done more than their share in making him one of Hollywood’s head names, it was this far lesser known movie that gave Scott his real start behind the camera on the big screen.  It goes without saying that The Duellists is very much a niche film.  As much as it’s a niche film though, it’s a movie that could so easily generate quite a bit of discussion.  What makes it so worthy of discussion is its story.

The crux of The Duellists’ story centers on two men who let a single misunderstanding become the fuel for an ongoing feud that gets rather violent to say the least.  And it’s set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic era France.  On the surface, that’s all that this story is.  But on a deeper level, one could argue that it serves as an allegory of sorts about pride and human emotion.  A simple misunderstanding between D’Hubert (Keith Carradine) and Feraud (Harvey Keitel) lead to the pair’s ongoing feud.  While the story does start off a little bit slow, once it gets going, it has no trouble keeping its audiences’ attention.  What audiences get once they’re pulled in is two men who are increasingly wrapped up in the anger directed at the other.  The real reward to the near two-hour story is its surprise twist ending.  The ending won’t be given away here.  But it should be noted that the ending is a fitting closer to the story, offering total closure and an important moral to add to the discussions raised by the story.

It goes without saying that The Duellists is not a movie that will hit home with just one watch.  That’s not an entirely bad thing, though.  It’s really one of those stories that will grow on audiences more with each viewing.  It’s sort of like the old adage says, once you’re at the top, there’s nowhere to go but down.  In the case of The Duellists, there’s nowhere to go but up.  That’s thanks in large part to the story.  What helps to really make that the case isn’t so much just the story, but one of the bonus features included in the brand new Blu-ray re-issue of this must see movie and its companion commentary.  The new Blu-ray re-issue includes a bonus feature titled, “Duelling Directors: Ridley Scott and Kevin Reynolds Featurette” that is just as informative as the bonus audio commentary by Ridley Scott included with the movie.  Both the commentary and this bonus feature go a long way toward helping audiences understand everything that went into bringing this story to life.  Audiences will in turn have more appreciation for the movie with each viewing.  The new Blu-ray re-issue will be available Tuesday, January 29th in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/215688.

Prometheus Puts A New Fire In The Sci-Fi World

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox’s new Alien prequel, Prometheus is one of the biggest and most underrated movies of the 2012 Summer blockbuster season.  What director Ridley Scott and writers Damon Lindelof and John Spaits have crafted in this movie is a story that works not only as a standalone alien based action flick, but also a movie that connects the early Alien movies to the more recent Alien vs. Predator movies.  Add in spectacular special effects and audiences have a movie that is not just one of the Summer’s top movies, but also one of the year’s best.Prometheus has largely been received to mixed reviews.  But one has to wonder if those who had their doubts about the movie had any experience with the previously mentioned movies.  Those who have any knowledge about the original franchise and the comic books will recall that the aliens were created by the predators.  Thus the movies in the AVP franchise.  Now it’s obvious that the engineers in Prometheus look nothing like the predators from the early movies.  But Scott and his team of writers do make it clear that the aliens were created by something.  So that being noted, they at least made the attempt to keep some form of continuity in the alien universe.  Fans of both franchises should be impressed by this.

While the “engineers” in Prometheus likely have no connection to the predators, it is noted that they were created.  The difference here is that in the case of this story, Scott and his writers put in a classic story of aliens intending to invade Earth.  Essentially, the “engineers” created the aliens in question to destroy humans.  So it leaves the question wide open, did the “engineers” really create humans?  Or did they only create the alien species just for the sake of taking over Earth.  Late in the movie, Elizabeth (played by Noomi Rapace) mentions to David that she still believes the “engineers” created humans.  And that she deserves to know why they changed their minds and decided to kill them.  But David’s retort was does it matter why she wants to know why they changed their minds and decided to kill the human race?  This generates the whole theological versus scientific discussion concerning where man came from.  Even in the twenty-first century, there are those who believe that man was created not by God, but by other beings from other worlds.  It’s an interesting topic.  The way in which Scott and the writers approached the topic for this story, made the movie that much more interesting.

Adding to the interest of the general story is the bonus deleted and extended scenes feature on the new Blu-ray and DVD release of Prometheus.  At one point, audiences are offered an extended version of the aforementioned discussion between Elizabeth and David.  It goes into more depth about the whole back story of the alien origins and the belief of whether or not the “engineers” really created man or if it was God.  The deleted and extended scenes feature (especially with the additional commentary) are proof positive of how much bonus features can do for a movie.  Seeing all of the noted scenes adds an extra level of depth to the overall viewing experience.  Perhaps those who criticized the movie while it was in theaters will have a different view and appreciation for Prometheus after watching it again at home along with the bonus features.

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