Broadchurch Outshines Almost All Other Crime Dramas In Its First Season

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Crime dramas are all the rage on American television. Each one of the “Big 4” has more than its fair share of gritty crime dramas. Even the cable networks are becoming overloaded with their own crime dramas. Even PBS has its own crime drama series in the forms of Endeavour and the newly resurrected series Inspector Lewis. Considering all of this, it goes without saying that fans of the crime drama genre have more than their share of shows from which to choose. The problem is that save for perhaps PBS’ Inspector Lewis and Endeavour, the majority of the crime dramas that fill the broadcast spectrum today are relatively formulaic. Now thankfully, eOne has offered American audiences a series unlike any other crime drama out there today, including those on PBS. And that is saying something. The series in question is Broadchurch. The series’ first season is available now on DVD. And this debut season of the British import is nothing short of spectacular. Yes, it is a serial. But the show’s writing more than makes up for that. That’s just the beginning of what makes this first season a hit. The use of original music at the right moments will keep viewers’ just as much on the edge of their seats from episode to episode. The same can be said of the acting on the part of the cast. This includes not just lead actors David Tennant (Dr. Who) and Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady, Hot Fuzz, Locke), but to the cast in whole. Their acting, along with the wisely used music and even smarter writing together make Broadchurch: The Complete First Season a truly surprising first impression from this British import. And it gives quite a bit of hope for the series in its second season. Audiences that give this season a chance will largely agree with that sentiment when they purchase or order the box set for themselves.

Broadchurch is not the first imported drama or even crime drama to make its way to America’s shores. The series, as a matter of fact, has been adapted for broadcast on the Fox network this fall. Before audiences even begin to watch that Americanized ripoff, they would do well to check out Season One of Broadchurch if only for the show’s writing. That is the most important factor to the success of this season. Any viewer that is the parent of a small child will agree that this season’s story hits hard because of its reality. It’s a sad reality that children die in this country (and other nations) every single day at the hands of rather sick individuals. That reality gives so much depth and believability to this season’s story. Fair warning, it’s difficult to watch and will make any parent want to hold their child even closer by the season’s final minutes. Even more so, any viewer that is left dry-eyed after watching this season’s story simply isn’t human. Even this critic will admit to tearing up quite a bit by that time.

The emotional depth and believability of the writing is just the starting point of what makes the first season of Broadchurch such a surprise of a series. Audiences will appreciate just as much the twists and turns that are included over the course of this season. They are just enough that they will keep viewers watching on the proverbial edge of their seats right to the season’s end. The twists don’t just include the characters, either. There are minute details on which the camera focuses at random points that keep viewers thrown off the track right up to the shocking season finale. The finale won’t be given away for the sake of those that have yet to see Season One. But it is most definitely unexpected, though sadly very much a reflection of life. To that extent, it makes this season’s story all the more gripping and worth the watch.

On an even deeper level, the writers responsible for bringing Broadchurch to life are to be applauded for the manner in which the series’ first season was constructed. Rather than have eight separate episodes, the writers used the model from Fox’s 24 in establishing each episode. Whereas each episode of 24 is one hour, each episode of Broadchurch’s first season is a continuation of the previous episode. So, all eight episodes of this season comprise just one storyline. And each episode has been written so well (unlike 24), that audiences won’t be left feeling like they need a program to figure out what’s going on. It’s the final touch to the series’ writing that makes the writing the cornerstone of this first season.

The writers behind Broadchurch are to be highly commended for the painstaking efforts put into making this series’ first season the gripping first impression that it proves to be in the end. Just as worthy of applause in Season One are those responsible for the show’s music. Yes, the music in this series plays just as important a role in its success as the writing. This is hardly common in most American television series. Audiences will note in the series’ first season that unlike so many other shows out there, it doesn’t rely on popular songs or music put in just to be there. The music incorporated in Broadchurch: Season One plays directly in to the series’ writing. The smart use of dynamics and overall placement from scene to scene within each episode heightens each episode’s emotional depth. Whether it be the season’s more pained moments as when Danny’s mother saw him lying dead on the beach, or even the more tense moments of the search for the killer, those charged with music placement went above and beyond the call of duty. It’s one more factor that makes the debut season of this gripping British crime drama worlds better than its countless American counterparts.

The music and the writing behind the first season of Broadchurch are by themselves integral parts of the season’s overall success. Together they make Broadchurch a fully gripping and engrossing series in only its first season. There is still one more aspect of this first season that proves Broadchurch to be the standard by which so many other dramas should model themselves. That final factor is the acting on the part of the cast. That applies not just to lead actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman but to the entire cast. Each member of the show’s cast expertly interprets the show’s script, making it even more difficult to figure out who is the killer until said person is revealed in the season finale. On the other hand that expert acting also pulls in viewers on a deeply emotional level, too. That expert acting on both sides of the coin adds one more level of depth, thus making this season of Broadchurch even more gripping. That final factor, set alongside the season’s writing and music, makes the presentation whole and wholly of the best first impressions from any new series in recent history. It makes the first season of Broadchurch one that any fan of dramas must see at least once this year.

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season is available now on DVD in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Broadchurch-Season-1-David-Tennant/dp/B00HGE90Z4/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1403311459&sr=1-1&keywords=broadchurch+the+complete+first+season. More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at entertainmentone.com/home. 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.

Little Ones Will Love eOne’s Latest Wheels On The Bus DVD

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

The latest collection of episodes from eOne’s series The Wheels on the Bus is another fun time for children, parents, and teachers. It’s a good fit for toddlers and pre-school age children. That’s thanks to the mix of music and lessons shared throughout the three episodes contained on the disc. That’s just part of what makes the DVD another piece worth watching. The total run time of the DVD is roughly thirty-six minutes. That makes the run time of each of the episodes about twelve minutes total. That’s just about right for the attention span of the program’s intended viewers. That aspect along with the combination of songs and lessons in each episode makes this DVD all the more fun for young viewers and their families.

The main factor that makes The Wheels on the Bus: A Day at the Farm another fun DVD from eOne and One Happy Child is the combination of more musical numbers and lessons spread across the DVD’s three episodes. The songs included in each episode include even more new verses to the beloved children’s song. The new verses written for each episode don’t necessarily apply directly to the episodes themselves. That doesn’t take away anything from the verses. They’ll actually have younger viewers singing and dancing along just as much as the song’s original verses. And the songs written specifically for each episode’s given story will have younger viewers singing and dancing along just as much. This applies even in the end credits sequence for each episode. Each episode has its own outtakes during its end credits. And along with the outtakes is another original song that makes the viewing experience even more enjoyable.

The musical numbers included within the context of each episode are just part of what makes the DVD in whole enjoyable for younger viewers. The lessons shared throughout the episodes add to each episode’s enjoyment. There is a lesson about the importance of healthy eating in one episode. Another teaches about service dogs. It teaches how they are trained from their puppy years up through their adult years. The DVD’s opening episode teaches a lesson about the different animals on the farm. This short lesson is a good starting point for both parents and teachers in discussing the different kinds of animals that live on a farm. It could potentially lead to a field trip of sorts to a farm. The lesson about healthy eating is a great starting point in a discussion for teachers and parents alike to discuss healthy eating habits. This is especially the case considering the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. It’s one more positive to the DVD’s overall viewing experience.

The lessons and the music contained in the episodes on The Wheels on the Bus: A Day at the Farm make up a big part of what makes the DVD in whole enjoyable for children and adults. There is still one more factor to consider in the overall enjoyment of this DVD. That factor is the total run time of the three episodes together. The total run time of this DVD is roughly thirty-six minutes. That puts the total run time of each of the DVD’s three episodes at around twelve minutes tops. Considering that the target audience age of the series is kids ages 1 – 5, a twelve minute run time is just right. Given, the attention span of most viewers in that age range is not that long. But the use of the catchy tunes and lessons taught at the level of said viewers will keep the attention of those viewers just long enough. Keeping this in mind, the DVD in whole becomes all the more enjoyable whether used in the classroom or the living room. It becomes a piece that parents, teachers, and students should give at least one watch.

The Wheels on the Bus: A Day at the Farm is available now on DVD in stores and online. It was released this past Tuesday, June 3rd. It can be ordered online from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Wheels-Bus-Day-at-Farm/dp/B00J5BCV5M/ref=sr_1_8?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1402243779&sr=1-8&keywords=The+Wheels+on+the+Bus. More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at http://entertainmentone.com/home. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

eOne’s WWI Mini-Series Is A Must See For History Buffs Of All Kinds

Courtesy:  Entertainment One/American Heroes Channel

Courtesy: Entertainment One/American Heroes Channel

World War II, Korea, and Vietnam are the most talked about conflicts in military history.  The trio has been fodder for more movies and television specials than can be counted on two hands alone.  They aren’t the only conflicts that have shaped the history of world, though.  As many stories have come from these conflicts, there is one conflict in particular that has never fully received the attention that it deserves.  The conflict in question is the First World War.  Much like World War II, WWI started in Europe.  But it started for a much different reason than did World War II as audiences will learn in watching this in depth-reissue of the Military Channel mini-series.  The information shared throughout the program’s eight-plus hours is just a single part of what makes this re-issued mini-series well worth the watch.  The accompanying vintage footage of pre-wartime Europe and Europe during the war is another positive to the presentation as a whole.  Last but most definitely not least, the entire program is singularly narrated.  The people behind the documentary didn’t rely on celebrity “experts” to help move the program along. That final factor makes this three-disc set one more that both history buffs and military history buffs will appreciate.

The First World War is an important presentation both for history buffs in general and more specifically for any military history buff. That is because of the amount and depth of information shared throughout the course of its eight-plus hours. It doesn’t just breeze over the war’s history with a few handfuls of highlights. Rather it traces the history of the war going beyond the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria that is said to have started the war. It goes all the way back to racial and political tensions between the various groups of the area that would eventually lead to said assassination. Audiences learn how the British actually used the Japanese to take over certain regions of China and so many other facts that aren’t taught in public schools or even in college level courses. That explains why the entire mini-series runs just over eight hours across three-discs. And it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that makes this set worth the watch.

The in-depth content that makes up The First World War is a solid foundation to the mini-series in whole. It presents to audiences far more information than could be presented over the course of an academic year in public schools.   It presents even more than could be presented over the course of a semester in a college level course, too. Audiences will also appreciate the use of the vintage pictures and footage incorporated into the mini-series, too. Footage from the days of World War II is far more plentiful (or so it would seem) than from the days of World War I. It makes the footage presented here all the more valuable and important in understanding what was going on in the world in the days and months leading up to the start of World War I and even during the war itself. And along with the diary readings offered throughout the program, It makes the presentation as a whole even more interesting for any history buff in general and military history buff. That leads to one more point of equal importance in this mini-series. The point in question is the lack of “expert” and celebrity guests to discuss the events of the war.

Most specials, series, and mini-series centered on the world’s various important historical events that air on television are accompanied by “expert” and celebrity guests. The “expert” guests all have their share of valuable information. But the inclusion of celebrity guests to narrate, do readings and otherwise just make appearances is little more than a marketing ploy used to get eyeballs. And being that this mini-series originally aired on the American Heroes Channel (formerly Military Channel), it’s rather interesting to note that those behind this program didn’t employ such a marketing ploy. It’s interesting because programs run on other Discovery Communications networks do in fact use that angle. It’s nice to sit back and watch this program without some celebrity or alleged “expert” adding his or her own two cents every few minutes or so. It’s just one narrator, vintage footage, and a straight, pure history of a war that deserves far more coverage than it has ever received from any network or filmmaker. It collectively makes The First World War a must see for anyone that has any interest at all in history in general and in military history.

The First World War is available now. It can be ordered now online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/First-World-War-Woodrow-Wilson/dp/B00IS6WPT2/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1401566849&sr=1-1&keywords=The+First+World+War. More information on this and other programs from American Heroes Channel is available at http://www.ahctv.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Announces Release Date For Masterpiece Mystery!: The Escape Artist

Courtesy:  PBS/BBC

Courtesy: PBS/BBC

Officials with PBS announced this week that the network will release the latest installment of its series Masterpiece Mystery! this summer.

Masterpiece Mystery!: The Escape Artist will be released Tuesday, June 17th on DVD and Blu-ray. The legal thriller was written by David Wolstencroft (MI-5) and stars David Tennant (Dr. Who, Broadchurch) as successful defense lawyer Will Burton. Burton’s life is perfect. His career is on the right path. He has a beautiful wife and child. His talent for getting his clients out from behind bars has even earned him the nickname “The Escape Artist.” Burton has only one true rival. Her name is Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo—Hotel Rwanda). Gardner is second only to Burton. The pair’s rivalry is purely professional. Both lawyers take more pleasure in manipulating he lives of their clients than each others’ lives. But things change dramatically when Burton receives a case file on the eve of his vacation that could change the very course of his career and his life.

The case file focuses on accused killer Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbel—Wrath of the Titans). Foyle has been accused and charged with the torture killing of a young medical student. Burton goes over Foyle’s case file during his vacation, trying to find any possible break in the file that could be used against the reclusive bird-lover. The legal battle that ensues upon Burton’s return from his vacation brings turn after turn that will keep viewers on the edges of their collective seats.

Masterpiece Mystery!: The Escape Artist will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, June 17th. The DVD will be available for SRP of $24.99 and the Blu-ray will be available for SRP of $29.99. It can be pre-ordered now via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35446806&cp=&sr=1&kw=masterpiece+mystery+the+escape+artist&origkw=Masterpiece+Mystery+The+Escape+Artist&parentPage=search. More information on this and other installments of Masterpiece Mystery! is available online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/mystery/index.html, http://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs, and http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs. 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.

EOne’s New Horror Comedy Is Full Of Frights And Fun

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

One part stoner flick, one part buddy comedy, and one part horror spoof, Entertainment One’s new horror comedy Knights of Badassdom (yes, that’s really its title) is an outrageously over-the-top  story that any of today’scollege frat boy audiences will enjoy watching at least once.  It’s obvious right from the story’s outset that it was not meant to be taken with a single grain of seriousness.  It centers on a group of twenty-something friends that have to face off against a succubus from Hell after their obsession with live action role playing (LARPing)—yes, that is a real thing, not just something cooked up for this movie—goes a little bit too far.  The completely outrageous script behind this story is central to its intended audiences being able to enjoy it.  Equally important to the story’s enjoyment is the acting on the part of the cast.  And of course, what home release is complete without its special features?  There are actually some interesting tidbits shared through the movie’s bonus features that make the movie more interesting.  Those tidbits, the cast’s acting and the outrageous, over-the-top story make this indie horror spoof a movie well worth watching at least once.

Co-writers Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wallhave crafted a story in Knights of Badassdom.  Dreyfuss and Wall have done so much with so little that it is difficult to know where exactly to begin in examining their script.  On the surface, Knights of Badassdom works because of its silly factor.  It is just a good, fun, and slightly gruesome turn-off-your-brain flick.  It’s one part stoner flick, one part buddy comedy, and one part horror spoof that has absolutely no intention of taking itself the least bit seriously.  On a deeper level, one could argue that there’s a story of a group of men forced to grow up if only a little because they got what they’d always wished for and then some during their make believe games.  That’s thanks to them having accidentally unleashMatted a succubus from Hell during one of their imaginary ceremonies.  At first the five friends think that they’re just taking part in a weekend of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing)—yes it is in fact real and not something conjured up for this story.  But when people start turning up dead, they start to realize that there is an evil force among them.  The friends—Hung (Peter Dinklage), Gwen (Summer Glau), Eric (Steve Zahn), Joe (Ryan Kwanten), and Ronnie Kwok (Jimmi Simpson)—end up having to face that evil force and stop it once and for all, essentially allowing them to finally live out their make believe fantasies for real.  Any viewer that can take this movie for the all-out nonsensical work that it is will appreciate all of the inanity (and insanity).  Those viewers will agree in watching the story that it is funny enough that it is worth at least one watch.

The story behind Knights of Badassdom has so many different facets about it that even as intentionally nonsensical as it was, it was still entertaining.  Helping the story’s entertainment was the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  Led by actor Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), the cast’s interaction with one another throughout the story made for more than a few laughs.  And their portrayals of the stereotypical people in the role playing culture are just as entertaining.  One can’t help but laugh watching Steve Zahn as the wanna-be wizard, casting his “spells.” And Jimmi Simpson’s portrayal of the controlling, somewhat egotistical “game master” Ronnie Kwok is a complete laugh riot. Both Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage add their own charm, to the mix, too. The whole cast together will have viewers laughing nonstop right to the final scenes.

The movie’s cast and its interpretation of the movie’s script work together to make it a surprisingly entertaining work. It’s the cast’s interpretation of the script that makes all of the total absurdity believable and entertaining all at once. There is still one remaining factor in this new release from Entertainment One that makes it the surprisingly enjoyable work that it is. That last factor is the movie’s bonus material. The interview with director Joe Lynch is the best of the bonus features. Lynch discusses in his interview his love of the classic 1980s horror flicks and how that influenced his direction on this movie. Even more interesting is his mention of special effects company Spectral Motion making the monster and handling all of the special effects for this movie. He discusses how he wanted to have an actual monster and real special effects versus the far too overused CG effects employed by Hollywood’s biggest studios. That devotion to using the physical versus the digital made a big difference in the movie. Sure the monster looked cheesy. But as Lynch notes in his interview, it was supposed to look cheesy.   It was part of that homage to the 80s monster movies that Lynch grew up watching. Audiences will be amazed even more to learn that Spectral Motion is the company behind the creatures seen in Hellboy and Hellboy II. That such a well-known and equally respected company would offer its services for an indie horror flick—an indie horror spoof even—speaks volumes. And it paid off in a big way. Audiences will appreciate Lynch’s interview when they see it in its entirety. They will also appreciate the acting on the part of the movie’s cast and the script, penned by co-writers Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall. Audiences will appreciate all of these factors and more that they will find for themselves when they order the movie on DVD and Blu-ray. It can be ordered online now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Knights-Badassdom-Blu-ray-Peter-Dinklage/dp/B00HOGRJQG/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1398801394&sr=1-2&keywords=knights+of+badassdom.

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.

Wicked Blood As Solid As Any Big Name Action Flick

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

EOne’s new thriller Wicked Blood is worth a watch for anyone that is a fan of AMC’s fan favorite series Breaking Bad. The movie, which runs just over an hour and a half is an action packed thriller that despite being an indie flick, will definitely keep audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish. The movie, which stars Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Haunter, Little Miss Sunshine), centers on Breslin’s character of Hannah Lee Baker. Hannah and her sister Amber (Alexa Pena Vega) are living alone after having lost both of their parents at a young age. Their uncle Donny (Lew Temple) is the only member of their family that they can trust, despite being running his own drug business. In her attempt to support herself, she ends up getting caught up in the seedy underworld of drug dealing. It all leads up to a finale that no one would have seen coming. Writer/Director Mark Young has crafted a script for this movie that is the first of the factors that makes it worth at least one watch for any fan of the action/thriller genre. The story’s pacing plays directly into the script. Being that the movie comes in below the standard two-hour mark that most major features reach, the story’s pacing is quite impressive. And the acting on the part of the entire cast makes the story all the richer. All three factors noted here work together to make Wicked Blood an underrated action movie worth at least one watch.

Writer/director Mark Young’s script for Wicked Blood is the central point of the success for this independent action flick. On the surface, the concept of an innocent lead character being wrapped up in the seedy world of drug dealing is not exactly anything new. However, Young breaks from the norm with his script. Instead of following the standard formula for such movies, Young adds in an element that could be argued to be a coming-of-age story of sorts for Hannah. Audiences see Hannah go from this fragile, frustrated young woman in a decidedly broken family structure to a more self-confident and determined woman as the story progresses. This is especially noticeable in her reaction to her sister Amber being beaten and left for dead by an assailant who will not be named here. He shows growth in Hannah, too when she enacts a certain plan early on that becomes the crux of the story. It shows growth in that her plan is quite brilliant and just as brave. Young makes this part of the story even more interesting because he actually leaves viewers to believe one thing about what Hannah is doing, only to reveal surprisingly that the opposite was the reality. It is just one of the secrets that makes Young’s script all the better. For that matter, it’s just one of the many aspects of the script that makes the story work.

The various elements used throughout the course of Young’s script are key to the enjoyment of Wicked Blood. In direct connection, the story’s pacing serves to make the movie better. The movie’s run time just does top the ninety-minute mark. That’s actually just below the standard for most major motion pictures. Though there are some rare majors that somehow manage to beat the two-hour mark. Their problem though, is that in doing so, they tend to cram too much into too short a time. This story is the exact opposite. It actually manages to balance everything together at a solid pace in that span of time. In simple terms, audiences won’t be left feeling mentally or visually winded. Young spends just enough time within each scene to keep the story from feeling rushed. That ultimately helps audiences to keep up with everything going on. In the same vein, the scene transitions help with the story’s pacing, too. Audiences aren’t presented with open transitions from one scene to the next. The story actually begins and ends each scene solidly enough that when one scene transitions to the next, audiences aren’t left questioning what had just happened or what is going to happen in the scene to come. This story element makes watching Wicked Blood even easier for viewers and more enjoyable.

The pacing and scene transitions utilized throughout Wicked Blood are both important parts of the whole that makes this movie work. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as important as the aforementioned aspects to its success. The cast is made up of some relatively well-known figures. So it’s no wonder that each member of the cast is so believable in his or her respective role. Breslin leads the cast as Hannah. Her presentation of Hannah’s personal growth is both powerful and eye opening, especially in seeing what she is willing to do to Bobby. There is a certain fire in Hannah’s eyes and in her voice at that particular moment that really makes her somewhat frightening. It shows that while she may be growing as a person, it shows the depths to which she is willing to sink, too. On the opposite side of the coin, so to speak, audiences have Hannah’s uncle Donny, played by Lew Temple. Temple’s depiction of Donny makes him such a sympathetic character. Here is a man that is a drug user and knows it. Yet he doesn’t want his nieces to get embroiled in what he has been doing for so many years. He shows that he genuinely cares about both of them despite being a drug addict. He’s an imperfect character with a heart of gold. That contradiction of personalities and Temple’s depiction of Donny makes a person believe that there is some good in him. It makes audiences really want to root for Donny. Co-stars James Purefoy and Sean Bean hold their own throughout the story, too. But it is really Breslin and Temple that lead the cast. It is their acting that is the *ahem* glue–audiences that have seen the movie will get that bad pun—that holds everything else together. It is the finishing touch on a movie that proves once more that indie flicks can be just as enjoyable as their major motion picture counterparts regardless of genre. It is the final piece that proves this underrated indie action flick is worth at least one watch.

Wicked Blood is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HI9QDKM/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=04QPHQ5JBMNES46GMXYX&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at http://us.eonefilms.com/home. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

EOne’s New Bella Sara DVD A Good Fit For Any Young Female Viewer

Courtesy:  Entertainment One/Foxfield Entertainment/The Bella Sara Company

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Foxfield Entertainment/The Bella Sara Company

Entertainment One released the latest adventure of Bella Sara last week. Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings is one more enjoyable watch for the young female audiences at whom it is aimed. That is the case first and foremost because unlike previous Bella Sara DVDs, this presentation is actually a full feature length presentation. Another reason that its intended audiences will appreciate this latest release in the Bella Sara series is its general writing. And lastly, the general content puts the final touch on this release. All these factors together make Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings a presentation that any young female viewer will enjoy.

The first aspect of Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings that its intended audiences will appreciate this presentation is a full-length piece. Previous releases in the Bella Sara series were presented in shorter form. So this presentation is the first in the ongoing series of releases that could consider itself a full length feature. While it is an independent release, it could easily compete with the likes of the full length straight to DVD Barbie features that are currently out there. That being the case, that factor alone would make it a good fit for any young female viewer’s slumber party, birthday party or other social event.

That Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings is presented as a full length feature is a good thing for this release in comparison to previous releases in the series. Just as important to the overall enjoyment for the feature’s viewers is its combined general writing and content. The story is simple enough for any viewer to follow. Presented here is what is essentially a coming-of-age story of sorts. Young teen Emma finds herself and literally her voice after discovering a secret that had been long-held by her mother through most of Emma’s youth. It is made obvious that Emma’s mother had died at the start of the story. It isn’t noted how she died. And that is in all honesty beside the point. Her mother being out of the picture actually helps to serve as a catalyst to the story’s progression. So in the long run, it is actually a good thing that the cause of her mother’s death wasn’t explained. Along her journey into the world that is North of North, Emma has to take on the evil Ivenna and her henchman who want to take over the land by taking away all of the “horse magic.” It’s through her own personal journey of self-discovery and realization that Emma is able to defeat Ivenna and save North of North. The general progression of the story is just as simple as the story itself. So that should help to keep young viewers fully engaged in the feature from start to finish.

The simple storyline contained in this new release from Entertainment One will definitely keep the feature’s intended audiences engaged throughout the course of tis roughly hour and fifteen-minute run time. In the same vein, one would be remiss to not mention the feature’s general content. The story is obviously fantasy based. And it centers on horses. This is a double whammy for all involved. The Bella Sara Company, Foxfield Entertainment and Entertainment One have collectively taken two items about which so many younger female viewers crazy and combined them into one. Add in the short musical numbers to the mix (and the overall writing) and viewers get a near complete package. All of this material packaged into what is a relatively full length presentation makes everything complete. It all combines to make Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings a feature that any young female viewer will enjoy whether by herself, with friends or even with her mother.

Bella Sara: Emma’s Wings is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HNTOYF8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1V0JEAXF18XKCR96GP00&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Allman Brothers Band To Release New Live DVD

MSO PR

MSO PR

The Allman Brothers Band will release a special live DVD this Spring.

The band’s new live DVD 40 will be released Tuesday, April 30th via EOne Entertainment. The concert was recorded March 26th, 2009. That day was the fortieth anniversary of the first performance of the band’s original lineup. It was on March 26th, 1969 that the band’s original lineup—Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe Oakley, and Berry Oakley—performed together in Macon, Georgia.

In related news, the current lineup of The Allman Brothers Band will be back on stage, performing live this weekend. The band will perform live in Live Oak, Florida this Saturday, April 11th at the 10th annual Wanee Festival. The band’s previous four performances at the Beacon Theatre had to be postponed as singer Gregg Allman had recently been suffering from bronchitis. Allman spoke to reporters concerning the progress of his recovery, stating that he felt he was almost back to full strength and was optimistic about the band’s upcoming live performances. “I feel almost 100% following my bout with Bronchitis,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the Allman Brothers Band fans at the Wanee Festival April 10-12, as well as I cannot wait for my first trip to Australia with my solo band to meet my down under fans.”

The band’s most current live schedule is listed below.

DATE

CITY VENUE
Fri 4/11 Live Oak, FL Wanee Music Festival
Sat 4/12 Live Oak, FL Wanee Music Festival
Thu-Sun 6/5-6/8 Hunter Mountain, NY Mountain Jam
Thu-Sun 8/14-8/17 Scranton, PA Peach Music Festival
Thu-Sun 9/4-9/7 Arrington, VA Lockn’ Music Festival

 

More information on The Allman Brothers Band, its upcoming live DVD, performances and more is available online at http://allmanbrothersband.com, http://www.hittinthenote.com, http://www.waneefestival.com, and http://www.facebook.com/allmanbrothersband. 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.

Messina’s New LP Was Well Worth The Wait

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Veteran country music artist Jo Dee Messina released her self-titled debut album nearly twenty years ago in 1996.  From there, she released her next two albums within two years of each other.  Her fourth album Delicious Surprise took four years to be released from the date of her third album.  Until now, that was the longest span of time that she had spent between new album.  Nine years after the release of Delicious Surprise, Messina will finally release her fifth full length studio effort next Tuesday, March 18th.  That album, simply titled Me, shows that even after nine years away, Messina still has plenty of fire underneath her.  And she makes that statement in bold fashion with her album’s opener, ‘Not Dead Yet.’

‘Not Dead Yet’ can be summed up in one simple word.  That word is anthemic.  On the surface, this adrenaline fueled fist pumper could be argued to be a song steeped in the common theme of relationship issues.  That argument could be made thanks to the song’s first verse, in which she sings, “You’re the one who stopped believin’/While I’m still in the chase/You’ve shattered my feelings/But you won’t shatter my faith.”  But with the knowledge of her finally being released from a long-term contract in 2013, this song takes on a whole new meaning.  It becomes more clear as she sings in the song’s chorus, “You can put me down/You can count me out/I’m not listening to you/I’ve paid my dues/Gotten bent and bruised/Walked a thousand miles in these shoes/I’m here/And I’m well/Felt the fire/I’ve been through hell/I’m a little out of breath/But baby/I’m not dead yet.” That sense of optimism and self-confidence is carried throughout the remainder of the song. And it is certain to have every fan singing along, pumping their fists in the air whether in their home, their car, or even at one of Messina’s concerts.  The end result is a song that serves not just as entertainment, but a song that can reach so many listeners.  It’s one of those motivating pieces that tells people it’s possible to get through even the most difficult times and to not give up.  Considering how tough so many people have it right now, this song is a welcome motivator and equally perfect opener for Messina’s return.

‘Not Dead Yet’ is a perfect way to open Me.  That’s thanks to the power in both its music and lyrics.  Just as anthemic is ‘A Woman’s Rant.’  This “girl power” piece is one to which every one of Messina’s female fans will be able to relate.  It’s the story of one woman’s day from start to finish, from the stresses of taking care of her family first thing in the morning all the way to balancing the everyday stresses of balancing being a wife and mom.  It’s one part musical stand-up comedy act thanks to the wit and sarcasm in her writing, and one part social statement. The boldest of the social statements made in the song comes with Messina singing, “There’s so many things I can’t begin to understand/The differences there between a woman and a man/You see/Women they do twice the work/And get half the pay/Menthey climb the ladder while the women pave the way/They say that we’re the weaker sex/I have to disagree/I’d walk a mile in his shoes if he’d walk half a mile in these.”  Even in her social statement about inequalities in employment, that wit shoes its face as she makes a joke about the combined pain of walking in heels and of being treated nowhere near the equal of men.  It’s one of so many statements made over the course of the song’s three and a half minutes that makes this another of the best additions to Me.

Messina shows plenty of self-confidence and self-assuredness throughout both ‘Not Dead Yet’ and ‘A Woman’s Rant’ as should be clear by now.  There is at least one more song on this record that displays that same positivity.  That song is ‘Take It.’ As with the previously noted songs, Messina doesn’t mince any words here.  She makes it clear right from the song’s opening verse that this is another song of self-empowerment, as she sings, “Look at me/I’m swinging from the chandelier, baby/I’m a woman with no fear/I’m breakin’ free/From these chains/From these chains that bind me/Anything that ties me down/I have no explanation/For the loss of hesitation/Lack of reservation.”  The song’s solid country rock musical backing adds to the song’s power and makes it even more of another solid addition to the album.

The songs that were included on Me were chosen by Jo Dee Messina’s fans since the album as a whole was fan-funded via Kick Starter.  As the songs noted in this review show, Messina’s fans made at least three very good choices.  When audiences hear the album in its entirety, they will agree that her fans made far more good choices than could potentially be noted in just one sitting. The songs of self-empowerment and pride are just part of what fans will appreciate about Me.  There are more emotional moments throughout the album, too.  Between those more reserved moments and the high-adrenaline songs noted here, Me proves to be quite the impressive return for Jo Dee Messina.  Audiences will be able to hear her perform those songs and plenty more when she hits the road beginning May 23rd in Biloxi, MS.  Fans can find out where else she’ll be performing live online at http://www.facebook.com/jodeemessina and http://www.jodeemessina.com.  Fans can also pre-order Me and keep up with all of the latest from Jo Dee Messina now via Messina’s official website.  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.

Peppa Pig’s Latest Compilation Fun For Audiences New And Old

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Peppa Pig’s latest collection of episodes will hit stores next Tuesday, March 18th courtesy of Entertainment One.  Peppa Pig: My Birthday Party offers young viewers fourteen more fun-filled shorts from Nick, Jr.’s hit series.  Whether or not audiences are familiar with Peppa Pig, everyone will agree that there is much about this show that makes it perfect for pre-school age viewers.  One of the many aspects of the show that makes it so enjoyable for young viewers is that its shorts are no more than roughly five minutes. Viewers that are less familiar with the series will see this firsthand when they purchase or order this new DVD.  Another positive aspect of the series displayed in the shorts on this DVD is the ability of the writers to balance entertainment and important life lessons within such a small span of time.  That in itself is a feat worth noting.  And one would be remiss to omit any mention of the series’ animation style.  Because it is made to look like it was drawn by a child, it becomes all the more accessible for young viewers.  These are just a few examples of what makes the episodes in this latest DVD from Peppa Pig enjoyable for young viewers.  Every family will find their own positives when they purchase or order the DVD for themselves.  Regardless of which aspects each family finds that makes the episodes on this disc so enjoyable, every family will agree that everything noted here makes it a DVD worth having for their pre-schooler.

Peppa Pig: My Birthday Party is not the first home release of shorts from the aforementioned series.  Despite this, there may still be some families that have yet to experience what makes this Nick Jr. series so popular with both its viewers and their parents.  The first notable positive of the episodes collected for this compilation is the run time of each short.  Each short included on this disc barely tops the five minute mark.  This far outperforms the shorts of most other children’s programs.  The shorts of said shows can run anywhere from fifteen minutes to a full half hour.  That makes keeping young eyes engaged without breaking their attention difficult.  So by comparison, the heads behind Peppa Pig have done quite a bit right with the timing on these shorts.

The short run time of the episodes in this compilation is the foundation of what makes them a perfect collective group of episodes for pre-school age viewers.  Just as important to note in these episodes is the work of the series’ writers.  The series’ writers only had five minutes with which to work and entertain and engage audiences.  The writers utilized every second of that short time span, making the shorts both entertaining and in some cases educational so to speak. They did so without letting the shorts feel like they’ve been jammed with content, either.  For this reason, the series’ writers deserve a standing ovation.  It shows just how well they have been trained in their craft.  Audiences will find themselves applauding the writers for this reason, too in watching this DVD.

A couple examples of episodes containing important lessons in this set are “Dens” and “Grandpa Pig’s Boat.”   In “Dens,” Peppa and her friends learn a very important lesson about not excluding others.  In, “Grandpa Pig’s Boat,” Peppa’s grandfather learns his own important lesson about bragging to others and the potential consequences.  There are more lessons and fun included throughout each of the DVD’s fourteen total shorts than there is time and space to mention everything.  As with the short run-time, that balance of entertainment and education makes this DVD all the more worth purchasing and/or ordering for any family with young children.

The writing and run time of the shorts included in Peppa Pig: My Birthday Party are both integral to the overall enjoyment of the episodes collected for this DVD.  There is one more aspect worth noting that makes these episodes especially enjoyable for those that perhaps are less familiar with Peppa Pig.  That aspect is the series’ animation.  Audiences will note in the episodes on the latest DVD that the shorts look like they were drawn by a child.  This was no accident.  That they look like they were drawn by a child makes them more relatable to young audiences.  That ability to relate to the show’s target audience serves even more to keep viewers fully engaged.  Given, it isn’t the only series to use such animation style.  PBS Kids’ Peg + Cat uses a similar animation style.  But it is the only other example of a series that uses such animation style that comes to mind.  CG graphics dominate most of today’s children’s programming.  So even if the animation of these episodes was created via computer, it doesn’t show.  That is a true testament to the series and these episodes on s smaller scale.  It makes the episodes all the more examples of what makes these episodes (and the series as a whole) so original and so enjoyable for young eyes and minds.  Peppa Pig; My Birthday Party can be ordered now online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FWVXRLG/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=15X655GDEJKNC4G1306Z&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846.

More information on this and other Peppa Pig DVDs and all things Peppa Pig is available online at http://www.peppapig.com, http://www.facebook.com/OfficialPeppaPig, and http://twitter.com/PeppaPigCartoon.  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.