Win “Life of Pi” On BD/DVD/Vudu Combo Pack

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Life of Pi is one of the biggest movies from 2012.  Now it has finally been released to multiple formats.  Thanks to 20th Century Fox and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, the Phil’s Picks blog has three copies of the movie to give away on Blu-ray/DVD/Vudu combo pack. 

Next Monday – Wednesday, I’ll be giving away one copy each day on the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.  But I’m not just going to do any drawing.  Those of you who have already “Liked” my FB page have to recruit more people to “Like” it in order to win.  It will start Monday, March 18th.   Here’s how it’ll go down.  The first person to get just five (5) people to “Like” my page each day will win that day’s copy of “Life of Pi” on Blu-ray/DVD/Vudu.  The people that you get to “Like” my page have to post to my timeline noting that you got them to “Like” my page.  That way I can count each person’s recruits under your name.  Make sense?  Let me know if it doesn’t and I’ll try to explain it in simpler terms.  I’ll announce the winner of each copy each afternoon at 4pm.  Again, that’s the first person Monday – Wednesday to get 5 people to “Like” my page.  And it doesn’t start until Monday.  So that means that you need to get out there and spread the word about the Phil’s Picks FB page if you really want to win!  I’m going to run the contest for these copies of “Hitchcock” the same way the following week

And if you’re not one of the people to enter, you can pick up your copy in store or online now.  It can be ordered online at http://www.foxconnect.com.

To keep up with all the latest sports and entertainment news and the latest giveaways, 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, as well as giveaways at the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Prep & Landing Double Feature Holiday Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Disney’s new Pre & Landing Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is a great holiday set for the whole family.  It includes not just the original adventure of Lanny and Wayne in Pre & Landing but also its half-hour follow-up, Pre & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice

Most audiences have likely already seen both of these enjoyable holiday shorts. But for those who have yet to see them, they’re both entertaining and heartwarming.  They both teach very valuable life lessons.  One even carries on Disney’s long-running tradition of emphasizing the importance of family.  In the original Prep & Landing, audiences first meet Lanny and Wayne when Wayne is teamed up with Lanny after being turned down for a long coveted promotion.  Wayne isn’t too jolly after finding out that he had lost his promotion to another elf.  So when he’s teamed up with the young, inexperienced Lanny, he’s anything but enthused.  But through a series of misadventures, Wayne learns a very valuable lesson about appreciating what one already has and where one is in life, regardless of which stage of life.  It’s a lesson that both parents and kids can learn together.

Equally valuable to the lesson taught in Prep & Landing is the lesson about valuing family taught in that feature’s sequel, Pre & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice. The follow-up to Prep & Landing re-introduces Wayne and Lanny to audiences.  This time the pair has to trace down a conduct calculator lost by another elf a year before at the house of a naughty child.  The child in question wants to use the calculator to break into the elves’ database of naughty kids so as to make a slight alteration.  In the process, audiences are also introduced to Wayne’s brother, Noel, as he joins Wayne and Lanny in their mission.  The long held issues between Wayne and his brother alone makes for a very important lesson about letting go of the past and forgiving.  Those same messages are taught when audiences discover who exactly the naughty child is that the elves have to face off against.  Audiences will have to discover for themselves the secret of the naughty child.  The revelation of the child makes the lesson of family that much more important, relatable, and heartwarming.

The main features presented in this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack make for a great viewing experience for the whole family.  They’re just part of what parents and kids will enjoy in this set.  Families also get a bonus short in the Emmy award winning short, “Operation: Secret Santa.”  The elves have to help Mrs. Clause get something special from Santa’s office for her.  Why?  Again, audiences will have to find out for themselves if they haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing it.  Even Tiny gets his own little short that will have the whole family laughing.  And the retro style newsreels that teach the elves all about their duties are just as entertaining as bonus features here.  They, along with the pair of bonus shorts included in this new set, are the icing on the cake that is the Prep & Landing double feature BD/DVD combo pack.  Families can pick up the set in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct via the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/prep-landing-naughty-vs-nice-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1323107/1000316/ or at the official Disney DVD website at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/home.html

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages.Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dick Van Dyke Show Blu-Ray Set A Welcome Re-Issue

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

The newly re-issued Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series is one of the most welcome box sets of 2012.  This fifteen disc box set brings together the show’s full five-season run from 1961 to 1966.  At a time when so much programming on television today is anything but family friendly, this re-issued set resurrects one of television’s greatest programs for a whole new generation of audiences.

This new Blu-ray release isn’t the first time that the Dick Van Dyke show has been released to the public.  But it’s a welcome return for one of television’s most revered names and sitcoms.  From funny episodes such as ‘All About Eavesdropping’ and ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ to the hilarious ‘Coast to Coast Bigmouth’, the show had more than its share of laughs throughout its run on CBS.  The show’s episodes have never looked better.  What’s makes it even more of a joy to watch is that it is a relic of a bygone era in television.  Add in a bevy of special features, and any true classic television buff will find this a welcome gift under the Christmas tree this year.

The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the most respected and revered sitcoms in television history first and foremost for its writing.  Unlike so much of today’s programming, this is a classic sitcom in which every episode was a stand-alone episode.  Viewers didn’t have to worry about missing an episode or another to be able to enjoy the show.  Every show was a different episode all in itself.  In comparison to so much of what is on television today, being able to enjoy each episode without having to know what happened in the previous episode is a breath of fresh air.  It’s something which today’s generation knows next to nothing about as so many network programmers have leaned more in favor of serials.  With any luck, the resurgence of shows such as this and The Carol Burnett Show among others will prove to those programmers the value and importance of this style programming.

That fans can enjoy The Dick Van Dyke Show without worrying about each episode’s storyline from one to the next is one of the most important values of this show.  It isn’t the show’s only value, though.  The show’s writing also goes into its general content, too.  Again, in comparison to so much of today’s programming, this show is one of those breaths of fresh air in that it’s something which the entire family can enjoy together.  It mixes great physical comedy with family friendly jokes that will get the entire family laughing from one episode to the next.  The proof is in the pudding.  The show’s episode, ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ earned the show a Primetime Emmy in the “Outstanding Comedy Series.”  That’s just one of its accolades.  For those who have never seen this classic episode, Rob and Laura go to a hotel for a romantic honeymoon.  But when Laura goes into the bathroom of the couple’s hotel room to try out the tub, she gets her toe stuck in the tub’s faucet.  The resulting jokes and comedy are proof of why the show won its Emmy for this episode.  Like so many other episodes from this classic sitcom, it’s a simple story with a simple and family friendly story that is still one of the show’s most beloved episodes to this very day.  And it’s just one tiny piece of evidence of what makes this show so timeless.  Thanks to Image Entertainment, families and fans can enjoy every episode and find their own favorite with every watch.

The show’s writing exhibits both intrinsically and extrinsically, the show’s value.  The writing makes all the difference in the show’s continued success nearly five decades after it ended.  Now on its new Blu-ray release, the writing continues to play a major role in the show’s continued success.  The show looked great on its original multi-disc DVD set.  Now on its new Blu-ray re-issue, the footage has never looked better.  It looks even sharper than ever.  It is crystal clear.  Given, the older grainy footage of the older DVD release is great for creating an extra sense of nostalgia.  But seeing it cleaned up so precisely without losing any quality from the original masters is incredible in its own right.  There are those who will and have had their own say about how the footage has been cleaned up.  But the very fact that there are those who want to preserve the show should make those critics change their minds.  Keeping in mind the outstanding quality of this show’s transfers to HD, its overall writing, and the equally interesting bonus features that have been carried over from the previous DVD release, The Dick Van Dyke Show on Blu-ray will be a great addition under the tree for any classic television buff this holiday season.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Patton BD Re-Issue A Must For Any Movie Lover

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Patton is one of the single greatest works in movie history.  This epic isn’t just a war movie.  It’s a movie about a man and his impact on those around him and the entire world.  It’s also about his own battle to come to terms with who he was.  The dichotomy of who Patton was in this story is really what makes the near three hour run time so watchable.  On one side, audiences see a man who is a trained killer.  Even his own adversary notes near the story’s end notes that life without war would kill him, not a bullet.  And even one fellow soldier notes to his face that he [Patton] does what he does not because he was trained to do it, but because he enjoyed it.  Those are two very bold statements about Patton the soldier.  The trained soldier is just one side of who Patton was.  On another side of the stone, audiences see a man who has one of the biggest hearts in the world.  He showed that as cold and calculated as he was on the battlefield, he still cared about the men who served under him.  His problem was his inability to balance the two.  It’s almost as if Patton felt the need to uphold a certain reputation.  But at the same time, he knew that he had to show at least some humanity.  One individual interviewed for the movie’s primary bonus feature, “History Through The Lens—A Rebel Revisited”, notes that what Patton is really about is the rise and fall of this almost mythical figure.  That rise and fall involved his inability to balance his humanistic side with the expertly trained soldier.General Patton’s inability to balance the soldier and the man is a big part of what has led to discussions among audiences in the four plus decades since this biopic first debuted.  That discussion is also raised in the film’s main bonus feature, which has also been brought over from the movie’s previous releases on DVD.  And as famed writer/director Francis Ford Coppola notes in the movie’s preface, he really tried hard to make sure people would see that the movie wasn’t meant to generate political discussions, but discussions about the complexity of who Patton was.  Speaking of Coppola, it’s interesting that he also notes to audiences of how he was originally fired from the film.  Go figure, he was brought back, and his work with fellow writer Edmund H. North went on to make a movie that could easily be used as the basis for any doctoral dissertation or for conversations among true movie lovers.

Coppola and North are to be highly commended for this outstanding story of a man’s struggle to balance his duty as a leader of men with being a man with a heart.  Their work is just one part of what makes this new Blu-ray re-issue a must for not just any film buff, but also for anyone who thirsts for movies with real substance.

The bonus features, which were carried over from the previous DVD releases, go into full depth showing how far the cast and crew went to making a movie that wasn’t just another movie “based on actual events.”  Audiences have gotten far too many of those movies, even since Hollywood’s golden era.  Yes, it’s been going on even that long.  The interviews culled for the bonus features show how the people behind the camera went into painstaking detail about Patton’s time as one of the Army’s most influential and controversial figures.  The main feature, “History Through The Lens: Patton – A Rebel Revisited” runs roughly ninety minutes.  It compares Patton as he’s seen on screen, and the real life figure, going so far as to admit at first Patton’s family didn’t take too well at the thought of a bio pic based on his life originally.  But when they saw the final product, his family appreciated the work that had been crafted.  It’s a perfect feature both for any film buff or even any history class.  While there are other features included on the newly re-issued set, this one alone more could have carried the movie and made it that much better.  That’s not to say that the other features weren’t necessary.  Quite the opposite.  They were just the icing on the cake, so to speak.  They just helped to put this already iconic movie over the top as not just one of the best movies of the twentieth century, but of all time.  The new Patton Blu-ray re-issue is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct via 20th Century Fox’s online store, http://www.foxconnect.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

D.O.A. Re-Make Another Product Of Its Time

Courtesy: Touchstone Pictures/Mill Creek Entertainment

Touchstone Pictures’ take on the 1950 crime thriller D.O.A. is a near total re-imagining of the original, right down to the movie’s end.  While there are some hints of the original such as the protagonist being poisoned after a night at a bar and going to the hospital, those similarities are fleeting at best, as even they have been altered, too.  Whereas the original 1950 rendition starring Edmond O’Brien focused on accountant Frank Bigelow, the 1988 remake focused on star Dennis Quaid, who played college English professor Dexter Cornell.  Almost the entire story has been changed in the near forty years between the two versions. 

Touchstone’s take on D.O.A. is a product of its time, much like the 1950 original.  Stories written in the era of D.O.A. were stories in every sense of the word.  The 1988 remake is also like movies of its era.  While it does have a story, its story is nothing like the original.  Like so many other crime/action/dramas of its time, it relies more on overt violence and sexuality to attract audiences than story.  That’s not to say that there isn’t a story.  But apparently, those behind the script for the story seemed to think that audiences wouldn’t watch the story without the amount of sex and violence that is existent there.  There is even a moment when one of the story’s main characters is shot in the head while driving a car in one of the movie’s many amped up action scenes.  Audiences see the woman shot in the head, and are even given more than one opportunity to see the rather large bullet hole left in her head from the gunshot as she drives off a road, gunman on the car’s hood the whole time.  Are the people behind this rendition of D.O.A. to blame for the level of violence in the movie?  Yes.  But again, this is just one more story that is a product of its time.  And movie makers from that era (and ever since) have seemed to think that using such methods is what sells tickets.

While the 1988 re-make of D.O.A. is a product of its time, what it really does is serve as a reminder of the larger picture of movie making, and how it has changed since the release of the original work.  The story behind the remake is a gripping one.  But it doesn’t necessarily need the amount of violence and sexuality that was added in.  In that same vein, perhaps the ultimate function of this remake will be to be one more reminder of movies made during Hollywood’s golden era.  It will remind movie makers and audiences alike of what made movies great.  The stories made them great, not the special effects and everything else.  Keeping all of this in mind, touchstone Pictures 1988 remake of D.O.A. isn’t D.O.A. itself.  But it will sadly never have the “life” of the 1950 original.     

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Slipknot “{sic}” As Ever On Download Blu-Ray Re-Issue

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Roadrunner Records

When the nine-man metal machine that is Slipknot released its self-titled debut album thirteen years ago, this musical monster instantly became one of metal’s biggest names.  In the years since that album’s release, Slipknot has maintained its spot as one of metal’s elite.  Its albums have gone multi-platinum.  And its last real concert DVD, “Disasterpieces” (2002) was a mega hit in its own right.  2006’s “Voliminal” was more a documentary than a concert DVD.  So it doesn’t count.  Now, Slipknot has a brand new live blu-ray re-issue of its 2010 DVD,” {sic}nesses:  Live at Download” due out next week.  This blu-ray is an excellent introduction to the legendary intensity that is a live Slipknot show for the uninitiated.  And for longtime members of the Maggot Corps who might not have been able to pick up the DVD a couple years ago, it’s a welcome new live release from the band.

“{sic}nesses:  Live at Download” is one more absolutely amazing live show from Slipknot.  It has all the intensity of the band’s show from “Disasterpieces.”  The only real difference is that unlike in “Disasterpieces”, fans don’t get to see the show from the POV of the band this time.  That’s not an entirely bad thing, though.  Having already done it once, would have meant wearing it out had they done that again.  However, the same energy felt in that show was felt this time, too.  It just came from the vantage point of the people behind the scenes, recording the show.  The people behind the scenes are to be commended, too.  They caught every bit of energy from both the stage and the audience of 80,000 concert goers and translated it expertly for people watching the show from home. 

The band’s Download set lasted roughly an hour and a half.  The band barely let up throughout that near ninety minute performance.  Even when it moved into the likes of ‘Dead Memories’, the energy was still there.  Every pit was in full motion the entire night.  And every person there was singing every word to every song.  Flags flew in the crowds representing no fewer than ten different nations.  It is simply a performance to behold.  As noted already, whether a new fan or a longtime member of the Maggot Corps, this brand new live release from one of metal’s top acts is top notch.  Perhaps the only down side to the entire thing would be the tour documentary included as a bonus feature.  Tour documentaries are really nothing new to any band’s live releases.  But it takes nothing away from the concert, which is why fans will pick up this release.  Viewer discretion should be exercised with this release as there is explicit language and nudity.

“{sic}nesses:  Live at Download” will be available next Tuesday, July 31st.  It will be available in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at http://www.eagle-rock.com/product/EVB334239/%28Sic%29nesses+Live+at+Download.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Blu-Ray Shows Hendrix In A Whole New Light

Courtesy: Sony Legacy

It goes without saying that Jimi Hendrix us one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century.  Countless guitarists have tried to emulate his style ever since he came to fame in the late 1960’s.  And they still try to do just that to this day.  The irony of his influence is that Jimi Hendrix apparently was not fond of having such a label placed on him.

The brand new documentary, “West Coast Seattle Boy:  Jimi Hendrix:  Voodoo Child” presents a man who was actually a rather reluctant star.  Audiences see through Jimi’s personal documents and an interview with Dick Cavett, a man who was more about being a great musician than being a rock star.  That modesty and love of music first is ironically what makes him so worthy of respect.

Learning of Jimi’s modesty is just one part of what makes this documentary so impressive.  While it’s called a documentary on the box, the reality is that this presentation is actually a ninety-minute video bio.  Audiences are taken on a journey through Hendrix’s life from his childhood to his untimely death in 1970.  Instead of being just another documentary loaded with sound bites from various celebrities, his story is told through his own documents and words.  The visual timeline used to illustrate each phase of his life is an excellent visual aid that any viewer will love.

Through the course of the timeline, viewers learn interesting facts of Jimi’s journey to fame.  They’ll be left in awe to learn that this legend came up through the ranks, playing with legends such as Little Richard and The Isley Brothers just to name a couple.  And that Paul McCartney was one of the first individuals to give Jimi a major break is just as incredible to learn.  It’s amazing to learn that these legends would be the catalysts to Jimi himself one day becoming a legend in his own right.

“West Coast Seattle Boy:  Jimi Hendrix:  Voodoo Child” offers so much more history that viewers will enjoy discovering.  To try and cover it all would be to prattle on endlessly.  And that would defeat the purpose of this review.  Suffice to say that this new video bio of Jimi Hendrix is now available on blu-ray both in stores and online.  It can be ordered online, along with all four formats of the companion concert piece, “Jimi Plays Berkeley” at http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/shop.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 blu-ray reissue is the best box set of the year

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is known as the worldwide leader in sports.  There’s a good reason for that.  The release of the network’s “ESPN Films Volume 1” box set last year is an excellent example of what makes ESPN truly the worldwide leader in sports.  Now with the recent release of the “30 for 30” Limited Edition Collector’s Set on blu-ray, ESPN has proven its reputation even more than ever.  This collection includes all thirty films from the original DVD and blu-ray sets released in 2011, and adds in a nice piece of memorabilia to sweeten the deal.  All together, they make up what is easily the best box set of the year.

ESPN’s “30 for 30” Limited Edition Collector’s set on blu-ray boasts all thirty films from the originally released sets.  Choosing just one film from the set as the best is impossible.  Each viewer will have his or her favorite film from the six disc set.  There are, however, at least a few films that that stand out to this individual as standing out as some of the set’s best.  One of those films jumps into the world of baseball, in “The House of Steinbrenner.”  “The House of Steinbrenner” follows the final days of the old Yankee stadium and the early days of the new stadium.  Along the ride, audiences are given a history on the man who brought the Yankees and their historic stadium to prominence.  The stories shared by players and fans alike of the old Yankee Stadium show a true love of the structure.  It was more a living, breathing museum than just a stadium.  It was a place where cultures crossed and everybody lived in harmony.  That’s because they were all one.  They were all Yankee proud.  The reactions to its final days make the mixed reactions to the new Yankee Stadium that much harder hitting.  The mixed views on Steinbrenner are just as interesting.  One former Yankee player worded it best in saying that in regards to Steinbrenner, “you loved him and hated him in the same breath.”  Interviews with players, fans, journalists, and even Steinbrenner himself give an unexpected view of “The Boss.”  The interviews shared in “The House of Steinbrenner” show a man who understood business and who also understood the fans.  They show that perhaps Steinbrenner’s only true flaw was that he cared too much about his team.

The George Steinbrenner presented in this film was a very shrewd business man.  He was also a devoted fan among fellow fans.  He wanted the team to win.  He wanted it for the fans and for himself.  That inability to ever fully balance business and fandom was ultimately why he was such a polarizing figure.  Despite his bad reputation among countless legions, just as many were and are still devoted to him today.  Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner has forged not only his legacy, but that of the Yankees, too.  He will never be forgotten for that.  That’s especially the case now, with this incredible film.

George Steinbrenner was polarizing, to say the least.  But he’s not the only figure of such stature featured in the new “30 for 30” blu-ray re-issue.  Another of the interesting figures featured in the set from an entirely different world.  His name is Tim Richmond.  In the film, “Tim Richmond:  To the Limit”, director Rory Karpf follows the life of NASCAR legend Tim Richmond. Richmondwas obviously polarizing.  He was polarizing in that he was the immediate antithesis of NASCAR’s old guard.  He was the rock star of the racing world at that time.  He had an innate ability to drive the wheels off of any race car, both in open wheel or stock car.  He proved that he could have been the future of NASCAR.  Sadly, after being diagnosed with AIDS, his meteoric rise was cut short.  Fans are reminded in this film of the stigma attached to AIDS because of the lack of knowledge surrounding it at that time.  It shows just how far the world has come since then.  Unluckily for him, the world didn’t have that knowledge that people have today.  As a result, viewers learn that he was forced to cover up the illness, in hopes that he’d be able to return to racing one day.  That obviously didn’t happen.

In the time since the passing of Tim Richmond, the reputations of both NASCAR and AIDS victims has greatly changed.  There is no denying that Tim Richmond played at least some role in that change.  And it’s thanks to this film that his role in both the AIDS and NASCAR community will always be remembered.

The films included in the new “30 for 30” blu-ray re-issue focus on many famous figures in sports.  But they also focus on who teams.  And just like George Steinbrenner and Tim Richmond were polarizing figures, so was the SMU football team a polarizing unit.  It was thanks to the Mustangs’ infamous 1987 “death penalty” that the NCAA established the reforms that govern college sports today.  In “Pony Express”, director Thaddeus D. Matula takes viewers into the scandal that rocked the sports world as a whole.  It killed not one, but two of the university’s football seasons in a row.  The film does note that the second dead season was self-imposed by the university.  And it all started thanks to one player.  One might think that by the film’s end, the story’s over.  That’s anything but the truth.  Video footage from ESPN, along with voice snippets, show that even today, universities have either not paid attention to the SMU scandal or have forgotten it.

It is interesting to note that one individual interviewed in this film states that the NCAA would likely never use the “death penalty” again on another team.  But considering that recent number of scandals that have rocked universities across the country, maybe the NCAA should reconsider using it.  After all, it was once said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. 

The documentaries featured in this blu-ray re-issue are just a drop in the bucket of what makes it a great set for any sports fan.  Combined with the remaining films in the set, and the bonus ESPN hat, this new “30 for 30” blu-ray re-issue has easily made itself the best box set of the year.  It can be ordered online now at http://ESPNshop.com.  

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

WWII in HD is a powerful, fitting tribute to the Greatest Generation

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E Home Video

Never forget.  Those two simple, tiny words have echoed throughout America’s people since the tragedy of September 11th, 2001.  That dark day was this generation’s Pearl Harbor.  It changed our country forever, just as Pearl Harbor did for the Greatest Generation.  Sadly, today roughly only ten percent of that generation still remains today to tell the story of what happened when the United States entered the war, which had already ravaged much of Europe for two years.  Now, thanks to History Channel and A&E Home Video, a new piece of the history from World War II has been brought to light in order to make sure that no generation will ever forget.  That piece of history is the recently released WWII in HD Collector’s Edition on blu-ray. The WWII in HD Collector’s Edition on blu-ray was released May 15th of this year.  The new collector’s edition is one of the more comprehensive sets released in recent memory.  The two primary discs that make up the set take audiences from the dark days when the Nazi occupation began spreading through Europe straight to the closing days of the war when the allied forces finally closed in and tightened the noose around the Nazi forces in the German capital of Berlin.  It also includes two bonus discs.  The first of the two bonus discs is a roughly forty-minute program that focuses on the battle to take the island of Iwo Jima.  It goes into full depth explaining how rather than taking ten days (as was predicted by one official), the battle to claim the island took more than a month.  The raising of the two flags atop Mount Suribachi was only one part of that horrific battle.  The second bonus disc focuses on the air war over the European Theater and its attempts to disable the production of Messerschmitts in Nazi occupied Germany.  The run time on this program is just under an hour and a half.  But it is truly worth that near ninety-minutes for anyone from military historians to students to the most casual of viewers.

The story presented in WWII in HD starts off in Germany, 1939.  Audiences are first introduced to Austrian Jew Jack Werner.  He is one of a dozen figures from whom audiences will learn what life in the war was like.  Werner came to America to escape the Nazis.  He also came with stars in his eyes, hoping to become a movie star.  When that didn’t happen, he ended up working in a flower shop before joining the American war effort.  The other eleven figures are:  Bert Stiles, Shelby Westbrook, Nolan Marbrey, Jack Yusan, Rockie Blunt, Archie Sweeney, Richard Tregaskis, Charles Scheffel, Jimmie Kanaya, June Wandry, and Robert Sherrod.  Each figure brings their own perspective to the men and women who served during one of the country’s most difficult times.  North Carolinians will appreciate the mention of Archie Sweeney, who was voiced by Mark Hefti throughout the program, was originally assigned to Fort Bragg before entering the war.

Among the more interesting pieces of history included in WWII in HD are that when America’s military first entered the war, it was hardly the largest or most well trained.  That lone puts the entire war into a wholly different perspective.  Audiences also learn of the reaction of Nurse June Wandry to providing candy to the captives in the concentration camps, and of the prisoners themselves to receiving said candy.  It’s one of those moments that will bring even the most emotionally strong individual to tears.  There is also note of how President Truman actually gave the Japanese the opportunity to surrender.  He offered them two chances, as a matter of fact.  It was because they refused both of those chances, according to the documentary, that both bombs were dropped.  Audiences will also learn other interesting facts such as the landing force used at Okinawa was larger than that used at Normandy on D-Day. 

WWII in HD shares so many stories that there is no way to tell each one of them.  And while there is no way to possibly tell each individual’s story shared in this mini-series, one thing is certain, though, of this presentation.  The complete story shared in the WWII in HD Collector’s Edition reminds viewers of the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform past and present.  It helps us to appreciate everything that they have gone through and go through today.  It serves not only as an educational tool or entertainment.  Rather, it serves as a tool to ensure our world will hopefully learn from its past, and never forget.  Audiences can purchase this box set in stores or online at http://shop.history.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Duran Duran better than ever three decades in

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

New Wave rockers Duran Duran have been making music for roughly three decades.  In that time, these Brit rockers have built audiences the world over, even after the band’s 1980′s heyday.  With the release of its 2011 album, “All You Need is Now”, though, the band showed that even with thirty years since the release of its 1981 delf-titled debut, it hasn’t lost its fire or its audience.  Now, the band has a brand new live release that will entertain its long time fans and evenbring in new fans.

“Duran Duran Live:  A Diamond in The Mind 2011″ documents just one stop on the band’s 2011 European tour in support of “All You Need is Now.”  Just as with the band’s new album, this concert proves that Duran Duran is still at the top of its game.  This show offers so much to viewers.  It boasts a largely high energy show throughout.  Though there are some slower moments, too.  The visuals incorporated into the live recording are another bonus to the show.  And the general cinematography mixed in with the visuals will hold viewers from the opening notes of the show to the last.  All combined, they make for an enjoyable show for fans of Duran Duran new and long-time.

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

The show recorded here starts off showing the band as it preps for the show backstage.  As subtle aqs it may be, there is a moment showing a woman recording one of the band members on an iPad.  It really is a sign of the times.  In the past, it would haev been a video camera or even DVD cam.  It shows where recording technology is at today.  From those opening preperatory moments, the band opens the show with the slow, moody, ‘Return to Now.’  As frontman Simon LeBon notes in the bonus interviews inclduded in the show, it is the perfect opener, especially considering everything that the band went through in 2011.  Fans will have to watch the bonus features to get the full story there.

From ‘Return to Now’, the band kicks things up.  And the camera crews recording the event do an expert job of capturing the energy throughout the packed house.  The energy and enthusiasm shared between the band and the audiences was obvious thanks to the camera crew’s work during the entire performance.  Home viewers will be spellbound as the cameras catch every moment of the audience’s positive reaction to the band’s performance.  It will make the entire show fly by, leaving those home viewers with the same sense of fulfillment that the audience must have felt after the concert ended.

The camera crews that captured this moment in time did an excellent job.  Their work combined with the special effects incorporated into the show makes for an even more amazing performance.  The effects in general are difficult to explain.  Audiences will simply have to see that for themselves.  However, as a hint, there are four large heads mounted above the stage that “sing” throughout the show.  This is just one small part of the special effects that home audiences will really appreciated.  It blends together to make for an experience that even the audiences who attended the show won’t get.  Needless to say, that in itself is a bonus, even though it’s not a “bonus feature.”

For all of the high energy songs and high tech special effects, there are some slower, more subdued moments such as in the classic, ‘Ordinary World.’  This song is slipped in late in the show as a means to give the audience a short break.  That break gives the audience just enough time to catch its breath before the band kickstarts things again.  From ‘Ordinary World’, the band gets the energy moving again with ‘Notorious.’  And of course, what Duran Duran show is complete without its signature breakthrough hit, ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’?  That one’s here, too.  So fear not Duran Duran fans.

The band members note in the bonus interview included in the show that considering everything that it faced in 2011, the band is better than ever now.  The band proved that to be true with this show.  And after watching it, both long time and new fans will agree with that sentiment.  “Duran Duran Live:  A Diamond in The Mind 2011″ hits stores tomorrow, July 10th.  It can be bought in stores or online at http://www.eagle-rock.com or at Duran Duran’s website, http://www.duranduran.com.  Fans can also keep up with all the latest from the band there or on its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/duranduran, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/duranduran, and on Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/duranduran.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.