Lionsgate’s Latest Family Friendly CG Centerpiece Will Entertain The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate’s latest CG animated feature Jungle Master is one of the year’s more welcome family features to come along so far in 2014.  Unlike so many of the movies released in recent years by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar, Jungle Master actually takes the road less travelled.  The movie’s animation is the most obvious way in which it takes that road less travelled.  Despite being a CG presentation, it doesn’t bare that cookie cutter appearance of the movies released by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar.  Another reason that it stands out is its run time.  The movie’s run time comes in at just under the ninety-minute mark.  That’s a very good thing and will be discussed later.  Last but not least of all that makes this movie stand out is its script.  The story lifts lightly from The Wizard of Oz believe it or not and adds in a touch of Avatar for good measure as well as other sci-fi flicks.  The end result is a story that the while it may never be as big as anything from Dreamworks or Disney/Pixar, is still enjoyable in its own right.  It proves to be a movie that the whole family should watch together and will enjoy together when they do watch it together.

Jungle Master is not one of the most well-known family flicks to be released by any of Hollywood’s major studios this year.  That aside, it still proves in the long run to be one of the year’s more welcome family friendly flicks.  One reason for that is the movie’s “animation.”  Lionsgate’s CG features are completely unlike those of Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar in the realm of animation.  It’s almost impossible to tell Dreamworks’ CG movies from Disney/Pixar’s because they all look alike.  The only way to really differentiate the two studios’ works is by the studio names.  That speaks volumes.  Lionsgate on the other hand has strived to keep itself separate from the mold used by those studios in terms of its animation.  The look of Lionsgate’s CG movies is rawer for lack of better wording.  But it isn’t raw to the point of looking like some pieces from perhaps independent studio Engine 15 Media Group and others.  There is actually some attention paid to detail with Lionsgate’s CG movies, including this one.  That attention to detail helps Jungle Master maintain its own identity separate from its bigger name counterparts from Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar.  It even helps the movie to maintain its own identity from Lionsgate’s previously released CG features.  That mostly original look is just one of a number of positives that surround Jungle Master and make it stand out among this year’s crop of CG movies.

The largely original look of Jungle Master plays a key role in the movie’s ability to keep audiences engaged through its entire eighty-two minute run time.  That run time is another reason that families will enjoy this movie.  It doesn’t even reach the ninety-minute mark.  That relatively short run time drastically increases the chances of keeping audiences engaged from start to finish.  This is especially the case with the movie’s target younger audiences.  Most of the CG movies released since 1995—which is when Pixar broke the mold and released Toy Story—have averaged about ninety minutes.  There have been a small number of movies that have come in just under that time.  But most either reach the ninety-minute mark or go well over it as was the case with Toy Story 3.  That movie came in at almost forty-five minutes.  Luckily its story worked well enough that it still succeeded and quite well at that.  Speaking of story Jungle Master’s story works wonderfully with its run time.  Its story combines elements of a number of other movies to make a story that somehow actually works.  It’s one more way in which Jungle Master works and makes itself one of this year’s more welcome family films.

Both the look of Jungle Master and its run time are important to the movie’s overall success.  They each play their own important role to the overall presentation as they both have an impact on whether or not audiences are kept engaged.  Luckily, both factors succeed by themselves and together.  As much as they succeeded, the look of Jungle Master and its run time are not all that made this direct-to-DVD feature work.  One would be remiss to ignore the movie’s script as an equally important part of the whole.  The movie’s script centers on a twelve year-old girl named Rainie (pronounced rainy) who runs away from home ater her mother forgot about her birthday.  It is assumed by the fact that Rainie was upset enough to run away that her mother (who remains nameless throughout the movie) has probably left Rainie alone more than once.  Her decision to run away ends up taking her to al alien planet  and a much biger adventure that is directly linked to the company for which her mother works.  It’s thanks to her adventure that Rainie realizes her mom hasn’t intentionally ignored her, obviously leading to an eventual reconciliation between mother and daughter.  The central story of the parent/child relationship is obviously anything but new.  It’s been done more times than a person can count on his or her own two hands.  However, the story’s execution is what makes this plot work.  Screen writer Steve Kramer lifted liberally from the likes of The Wizard of Oz and Avatar to make this story.  While he obviously lifted from the noted movies, Kramer didn’t try to just remake them and mix them together.  He used them more as influences for his story about family.  What’s more he balanced said elements quite well; well enough in fact that audiences will be moved to overlook the references to said movies and enjoy the presented story.

Kramer’s re-telling of original writer/director Xu Kerr’s story is one of the most important of this movie’s aspects in considering its level of success.  He obviously used at least a couple of rather well-known movies that have come before as both influences and elements of this movie.  But he also didn’t try to just rip off either work.  He balanced them together to make a largely original story that centers on family.  That creativity and homage still is not all that makes this movie work.  One should also take into account the movie’s cast and even its bonus shorts.  Victoria Justice (Victorious, Victoria Justice, iCarly), Jane Lynch (Glee, Hollywood Game Night, Wreck-It-Ralph), David Spade (Just Shoot Me, The Benchwarmers, Tommy Boy), Josh Peck (Drake & Josh, Ultimate Spiderman, Ice Age: Continental Drift), Christopher Lloyd (Cyberchase, Back to the Future 1 - 3), and John Lovitz (Saturday Night Live, The Critic, Gorwn-Ups 1 & 2) make up the movie’s cast.  Lovitz proves to be the real star of the story with his comical antics voicing Mulla.  The fact that so many well-known names overall would feel confident enough about such a movie makes it even more worth the watch.  And the bonus shorts included with the movie will entertain children for a little while after the movie ends.  These extra positives combined with the positivews already noted make Jungle Master a movie well worth at least one watch together by any family.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

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.

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

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

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.

Yankees Fans And Baseball Fans Alike Will Enjoy MLB Productions’ Latest Release

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/MLB Productions/A&E/A&E Home Video

Courtesy: Lionsgate/MLB Productions/A&E/A&E Home Video

The New York Yankees are in the waning days of the team’s 2014 season.  And along with the end of that season is the end of an era as Yankees great Derek Jeter is set to close out his Major League Baseball career, too.  While this season has not exactly proven to be everything that Yankees loyalists had hoped for MLB Productions has given Yankees nation reason to look back after this season’s end and still have plenty to smile about thanks to the recent release of Baseball’s Greatest Games: New York Yankees® Postseason Heroics.  This latest release continues a long-held tradition of excellence from Major League Baseball Productions as is evidenced throughout all four games contained in this set.  The inclusion of four full games is central to the enjoyment of the presentation.  That each game celebrates Jeter’s various accomplishments makes things even sweeter for fans.  As with previous MLB Productions releases, audiences are given the option to start at the top or bottom of any of the games’ innings.  They are not forced to sit through the whole game or even fast forward through to their key moments.  It adds even more enjoyment to the overall presentation.  And last but not least of all worth noting in this set is the collective video and audio mix in each episode.  MLB productions includes a disclaimer before the game, noting that there may be some discrepancies at given points.  But those discrepancies are few and far between.  If anything, seeing the games as they were originally broadcast adds to a certain sense of nostalgia among viewers, whether or not they be Yankees loyalists.  Each factor noted by itself is important to the whole in its own right.  All three together make Baseball’s Greatest Games: New York Yankees® Postseason Heroics another welcome addition to the library of any Yankees loyalist and any true-blooded MLB fan Yankees loyalist or not.

Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics is a welcome addition to the library of any Yankees loyalist and any true-blooded MLB fan Yankees loyalist or not.  It is especially welcome being that New York’s season hasn’t exactly lived up to the hopes and expectations of the team or its fans.  Luckily for fans, this four-disc set features four past Yankees games on which fans can look back and smile after the season’s end.  The first of the games is Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS in which the Yankees faced off against the Baltimore Orioles.  The second game takes fans forward four years to Game 4 of the 2000 World Series.  The Yankees faced off against the Mets that year.  The key moment of this game was Jeter’s leadoff home run against the Mets.  The third game takes audiences another year forward to Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS.  That year, the Yankees faced off against Oakland.  After taking down Oakland, the Yankees moved on in 2001 to the World Series, in which the team took on Arizona for the championship. MLB Productions features Game 4 of that year’s World Series as the set’s closing game.  As with the set’s other games, Jeter’s accomplishments are highlighted here, too.  Of course it doesn’t focus solely on his achievements.  Rather, the entire game is presented from the first pitch to the last.  The commercials have been cleanly cut, again displaying that commitment to quality from MLB Productions.  Simply put, with each game, audiences get the full game experience sans the commercial limitations.  They can pause the game at any point that they choose so as to use the bathroom, get a couple cold ones, or anything else.  All things considered here, it all proves just why the inclusion of the games and their inclusion in full at that is the central point of the set’s success.

The inclusion of four important recent Yankees games is central to the success of Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics is central to the success of the set.  Their inclusion in full and the fact that they are meant to highlight the accomplishments of the soon-to-be-retired Yankee great Derek Jeter makes it even more of a solid center to the set.  Adding to the set’s success is the fact that once again, audiences are able to choose the inning at which they start each game.  To be even more precise, audiences can choose whether they start at the top of an inning within a given game or at the top of said inning.  So rather than be forced to sit through the whole game or fast forward through so much baseball, audiences can pick precisely where the game starts.  So if viewers have to stop for any reason, they can just pop in the DVD, pick the inning (and its top or bottom) and go from there.  If fast forwarding is still necessary, it won’t have to be but so much as a result of this inclusion.  This is a standard that those at MLB Productions have maintained for years.  So it is wonderful to see this standard maintained even here.  It serves to make the set’s overall presentation even more enjoyable and a success.

MLB fans and Yankees fans alike will appreciate that those with MLB Productions took painstaking efforts to maintain the tradition of excellence established by the company with every one of its releases up to this point including this set.  The games included in this set are presented in full. Audiences can once again choose the point at which they start giving games, whether the top or bottom of said inning(s).  All of this taken into consideration, Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics proves to offer plenty of enjoyment for MLB fans regardless of their team loyalty.  There is still one more aspect of this set that makes it a joy for audiences.  That last aspect is the fact that the games in this set are presented exactly as they were seen in their original broadcast(s).  Game 1 of the team’s 1996 ALCS matchup against the Orioles was originally broadcast on NBC while the other three games were each broadcast on FOX.  MLB Productions’ people covered their bases, including a disclaimer noting the potential issues with the games’ video.  But the reality is the video looks just fine.  As a matter of fact, seeing the games as they looked in their original airings brings back a wonderful sense of nostalgia for fans. Considering that this season hasn’t lived to the hopes and expectations of the team and its fans, that sense of nostalgia is especially welcome for the members of the Yankees nation.  Together with the aforementioned aspects of the set, the presentation of each game from its original broadcast rounds out Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics and makes it complete.  It is one more reason that audiences, regardless of allegiance, will welcome this latest collection of games from MLB Productions and A&E Home Video.

MLB Productions and A&E Home Video have a long history together, releasing wonderful pieces of baseball’s history every year.  Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics is one more wonderful piece of that history.  The inclusion of four games in their entirety proves that right off the top.  That audiences can once more choose where they start viewing each game makes it even more of an enjoyable experience.  And the still quality video and audio mix of all four games rounds out the entire set.  All things considered, Baseball’s Greatest Games: Yankees® Postseason Heroics proves to be its own home run for any Yankees loyalist and any true-blooded baseball fan in general.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from The Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=31220&TitleParentId=9945.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate and A&E Home Video is available online at:

 

Lionsgate

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate
Twitter: http://twitter.com/linosgatemovies

A&E Home Video

Website: http://www.aetv.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AETV
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AEHomeEnt

MLB Productions

Website: http://mlbproductions.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mlbprod

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.

Anime Fans Will Enjoy Shout! Factory’s Second Monsuno Collection

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Anime, when it first came to American shores, was a cult favorite genre.  It was one of those genres of TV and film that was relegated to group viewings at comic book shops around the country.  That was thanks to the stigma attached to the genre and its fans.  That stigma is still there.  But it is far less today than it was when it first started gaining fame here in the U.S.  Now years later, it has gone from being a genre seemingly enjoyed by only certain types to being its own cultural phenomenon.  Famed anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazake’s films gained more popularity than ever.  And any number of anime series found new fame among American audiences.  Series such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Digimon became some of the biggest names in the genre, leading some American companies to try their own hand at making their own anime series.  One of the surprises from that batch of today’s American anime series is Monsuno.  The series has already produced two seasons.  And a third is supposedly on the way.  And thanks to Shout! Factory, the first half of the series’ first season is available along with the first half of its second season.  They are presented over the course of three DVDs that were released in 2013.  And as audiences will see in the second of those DVDs, Monsuno: Power, there are a number of reasons that this series has worked as long as it has.  The first of those reasons is that Shout! Factory has maintained the series’ chronology in its DVD presentations.  The second reason is that it stylistically mirrors its imported Asian counterparts almost identically.  This includes the writing and animation.  And last but not least of all, is the inclusion of a voice cast that is itself quite familiar with the world of anime.  Audiences will agree that in considering each of these factors, any anime fan will find Monsuno: Power worth at least one watch.

Monsuno is not the big name anime series that Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh have all proven to be in their runs.  However, it has managed to churn out two full seasons, and a third is allegedly on the way.  While audiences wait to see if that alleged third season develops, they have the second volume f episodes to tide them over.  Audiences, whether new to the series or not, will appreciate that just as in the series’ previous DVD, the episodes included on this disc are presented in chronological order.  Together with Monsuno: Destiny, the episodes featured here comprise the first ten episodes of Season One.  Interestingly enough Shout! Factory apparently has not released the final sixteen episodes from Season One.  Yet, the first half of Season Two has been released on DVD.  So at least audiences know that in having Monsuno: Power and Monsuno: Destiny, they have just over half of this series’ first season.  Regardless of whether those final sixteen episodes should see the light of day in the near future, at least audiences have that much to take in.

Audiences that are familiar with the more popular anime series out there and who enjoy said series will appreciate Monsuno: Power especially if it is their first introduction to the series not just because of the episodes included and their organization, but also for the fact that the episodes are collectively a near identical mirror image of Digimon, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and others of that ilk.  That is speaking stylistically (I.E. writing and overall look).  Just as with those series, the episodes included in Monsuno: Power present a series in which a group of young people has access to extraordinary creatures with equally extraordinary powers.  They are kept in their own little containers, which the young people holding them keep as they search for a specific goal.  That overall writing is much the same as in its bigger name counterparts.  And the overall look (animation) is just as much the same as other anime series.    That combination of writing and the show’s overall look keeps the series right on par with its bigger name counterparts.  That’s especially the case when it is put alongside the chronlogically coorect episode listing in this set.

The episodes included in Monsuno: Power are in proper chronological order in relation to the original broadcast of the episodes n television.  The look of the episodes in this collection is also a near identical match to the its bigger name counterparts.  Both of these aspects play their own part in the success of the DVD among fans of the anime genre.  There is one more aspect to this collection that audiences will appreciate, rounding out the whole presentation.  That last factor is the cast tapped to voice the series’ characters.  Few may know the names of the actors brought in for these episodes.  However, the series and movies in which they have starred are quite well known.  Cam Clarke, Karen Strassman, Christopher Corey Smith, Keith Silverstein, and Kirk Thornton voice the primary roles of Chase, Jinja, Bren, Dax, and Bayal respectively.  They also voice the roles of the show’s various villains and other good guys.  While most people might not know their names, audiences will recognize Cam Clarke as the voice of Leonardo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series from Fred Wolf Films.  He is also the voice of one of Clifford’s fellow dogs in the short lived PBS kids’ series Clifford.  Few may also realize that Clarke has previous experience in the anime realm.  He voiced the character of Kaneda in the anime import Akira.  Karen Strassman has her own previous experience in the world of anime, too.  She played a rather significant role in the American version of the anime series Bleach.  She voiced Soifon, Momo Hinamori, Cyan Sung-Sun and others throughout the series’ run from 2005 – 2012.  Before coming on board Monsuno, Christopher Corey Smith voiced Rojuro Otoribashi, Wonderweiss Margela, and Makoto Kibune during Bleach’s run on American television from 2007 – 2010.  He was joined on that series by fellow voice actor Keith Silverstein, who voiced Coyote Starrk, Tesra Lindocruz, and Mabashi.  Last but not least is Kirk Thornton.  Thornton’s anime resume is perhaps the most extensive of the Monsuno voice actors.  Thornton provided his talents to Bleach alongside Keith Silversten and Christopher Corey Smith.  He also worked on Digimon: Digital Monsters, Ninja Scroll, and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro among a number of other anime series and features.  It would have been easy for Monsuno’s show runners to get a bunch of no-name actors with not experience in anime.  Instead they brought in a group of actors whose collective talents are quite extensive to say the least.  That would perhaps explain the characters’ believability.  That believability alongside Monsuno’s overall style and its properly ordered episodes collectively make Monsuno: Power a good first introduction to this anime series for those not so familiar with the series.  It is just as welcome for those that are familiar with the series and that are fans of the series, too.

Monsuno: Power is not the first and obviously not the last of the collections to be released from Shout! Factory.  Regardless of how long fans of the series have to wait for its next release, fans will agree that thanks to the factors noted here, they have plenty to appreciate in this collection.  Monsuno: Power is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/216947.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  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 Quiet Ones Proves Low-Budget Horror Flicks Can Be As Scary As Their Big Budget Brothers

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Quiet Ones, the latest horror/thriller from Lionsgate Films, is one of the scariest movies that horror fans will see this year if not the single scariest.  The phrase edge-of-your-seat is tossed around far too often in various film genres.  However in the case of The Quiet Ones, that far too oft term is quite properly used to describe this story.  It will keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish even with the movie coming in at just over an hour and a half.  It all starts with the script.  The script is one that while based on actual events, has crafted a story that successfully creates its own story.  It will leave viewers questioning quite a bit right up to the story’s twist ending.  The script is but one part of what makes The Quiet Ones work.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast makes the story even scarier.  There is something about the cast’s acting that will pull viewers in and at times, even send chills up viewers’ spines, thus leading to the edge-of-your-seat term even more justified here.  Last but hardly least worth noting that makes this movie work now in its home release is the bonus “Making of” documentary.  Much like the far too oft used phrase noted already, “Making of” featurettes hardly ever live up to the expectation of being bonus material.  The “Making of” featurette here only serves to deepen the overall experience and in turn makes the movie even scarier.  These three factors are but the tip of the iceberg that can be noted in what makes The Quiet Ones one of 2014’s scariest movies.  Audiences will find plenty more for themselves when they purchase this movie for themselves.  And when they do, said audiences will themselves be making quite the noise (yes, bad pun intended) about The Quiet Ones.

So much can be said of the script behind The Quiet Ones.  This script isn’t just another one of those run-of-the-mill, over-the-top slasher flicks or even just another ghost story.  The movie’s script writers have crafted in this piece a story that combines an absolutely terrifying tale of the occult with an unexpected human drama, both of which combine to make a story that will leave even the hardest of unbelievers questioning what they believe right up to the story’s twist ending.  And the script itself is only part of what makes the story work as surprisingly well as it does.  The movie’s trailers made it come across as just another found footage film.  The reality of this movie is that it in fact is not just another one of those works.  Audiences will note that while there is an element of the found footage genre, it isn’t just another found footage flick.  That element is used more as part of the story rather than as the story itself, if that makes any sense.  It is used to help advance the story at various points rather than being used as the crux of the script, to hopefully make that clearer.  This is all discussed at length in the bonus “Making of” featurette that has been included in the movie’s new home release.  The discussions on those and so many other topics add even more depth to the movie.  The end result is a respect for the movie that some viewers might not have previously had should they have seen the movie while it was in theaters early this year.

The deep and deeply terrifying script crafted for The Quiet Ones is the center of the movie’s terrifying success.  It’s just one element of what makes the movie work.  Also worth taking into account is the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  The Quiet Ones is a low budget film.  Going back to the in-depth bonus “Making of” featurette, this is noted in that featurette.  The thing is that typically, when one thinks of low budget films (such as the ones churned out by Syfy), one thinks of everything wrong with the movie industry.  But in the case of The Quiet Ones both the script itself and the acting on the part of the cast made this movie a success.  Actress Olivia Cooke (The Signal, Bates Motel, Ouija) steals the spotlight as the troubled young Jane Harper.  Viewers can’t help but watch her as the movie progresses.  At no one point does she ever try to take things over the top.  There is just something on which a finger can’t be placed about her acting that makes it work.  Perhaps as (again) noted in the bonus “Making of” featurette, it is her ability to go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye.  Her cast mates—Jared Harris (Natural Born Killers, Lincoln, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Erin Richards (Open Grave, Breaking In, Gotham) feed off of that energy and serve to heighten the story’s tension and terror.  Audiences will see that in their gradual transition from believers in science to believers in something much darker and less capable of being explained away.  They expertly interpret the script and present a fear that audiences can almost feel as they watch the story unfold.  It proves to be a feeling of terror that audiences will find it hard to shake even after the movie ends.   That is one more sign of acting done right.  So, kudos are in order for the cast of The Quiet Ones for doing their part to make this movie a terror in the best possible way.

The acting and writing that went into bringing The Quiet Ones to life are both key to the movie’s success.  Despite the work of the scribes charged with bringing the movie to life and that of the movie’s cast, this underrated horror was largely lambasted by audiences and critics alike.  Now that it is being released to DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU, audiences will see it for its true value especially thanks to the movie’s bonus “Making of” featurette.  Far too often, moviemakers and studios try to throw in these additions to movies in hopes that they will make their movies more accepted.  The problem is that hardly often enough does that actually happen.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t always work.  The case with The Quiet Ones proves that it can and does at times make a movie more worthy of respect.  Audiences get an in-depth look at the movie’s script, the location shooting, acting, and so much more.  There are discussions on the inspiration behind the script, why the house in question was chosen and even on the choice of Olivia Cooke as the movie’s lead.  Audiences will learn why this story isn’t just another movie that is based on actual events.  They will learn about the terror factor in the house and Cooke’s ability to simply turn her emotions on and off for the cameras with ease.  There is so much to note that audiences would be best served to watch this featurette for themselves.  In doing so, both those that have and haven’t already seen The Quiet Ones will have a new respect for a movie that is one of the year’s scariest movies, hands down.

The Quiet Ones will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19th on DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack.  It can be ordered direct from the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=The%20Quiet%20Ones.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/linosgate, http://www.lionsgate.com, and http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Denver The Last Dinosaur Is Extinct No More

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Denver The Last Dinosaur is extinct no more!

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Cinedigm and VCI Entertainment will release Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series on Tuesday, September 16th. The series ran a total of fifty-two episodes from 1988 to 1990. It follows the adventures of Denver—a Corythosaurus—and his human friends who discovered him after he unexpectedly hatches from a fossilized egg. The series received a recommendation from the National Education Association for its engaging and nonviolent story lines. The series features the talents of some of today’s most well-known voice talents including: Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama, Hey Arnold!), Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Curious George, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), Kath Soucie (Dexter’s Lab, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures), June Foray (The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Garfield & Friends), Brian Cummings (Duck Tales, Garfield & Friends, Adventures of the Gummi Bears) and three of the voice talents from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, and Rob Paulsen among so many others.

The upcoming box set will contain not only the series’ complete fifty-two episode run but also a handful of bonus materials, too. Those bonus materials include interviews with the series’ Creative Director Jeremy Corray, image galleries, and even a glimpse at other classic cartoons including the likes of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. The six-disc set will retail for SRP of $59.99. More information on this and other releases from Cinedigm is available online at http://www.facebook.com/Cinedigm, http://twitter.com/cinedigm and

http://www.cinedigm.com. 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.

Cowabunga Classics Is A Must See For Any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fan

Courtesy:  Fred Wolf Films/Lionsgate

Courtesy: Fred Wolf Films/Lionsgate

Excitement is building around the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Those heroes in a half-shell will return to the big screen for the first time since 1993’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III this summer.  It will be under the watch of Transformers director Michael Bay. In anticipation of the upcoming big screen live action reboot, Lionsgate and Fred Wolf Films have announced the upcoming release of a new compilation of episodes from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics. The single-disc compilation will be released Tuesday, July 29th. This latest compilation is a must for any hardcore fan of the series that started it all for those heroes in a half shell. It is a must have first and foremost because of the episodes collected for the set. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this set is its bonus material. Last but not least that audiences will appreciate is the compilation’s relatively affordable price. All three factors together make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics a compilation that more than deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new releases in the Family & Children category.

The episodes culled for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics collectively make up the primary reason that audiences will appreciate this latest release from Lionsgate and Fred Wolf Films. While not every season of the show’s ten total seasons is represented in this set, audiences that are familiar with the show will appreciate that the series’ first seven seasons are represented. And even on this presentation, each of the episodes included looks just as bright as they did in their original broadcasts. It all starts with Season 5’s “Planet of the Turtleoids” in which the guys are taken to a planet of nothing but turtles to help save some of its inhabitants. One of the best parts of the episode in whole is the turtleoid’s ship. It is shaped like a very familiar building. And then in “Night of the Rogues,” audiences are treated to a scenario very similar to that of both Marvel and DC. Leo, Raph, Donnie, and Mikey have to face Shredder’s “Rogue’s Gallery” of villains in his attempt to defeat them once and for all (yet again). Tempestra, The Rat King, Leatherhead, Scumbug, Antrax, Chrome Dome, and Slash are assembled in the series’ own version of Marvel’s Sinister Six or DC’s Legion of Doom. It all winds down with Season 1’s “Shreddered and Splintered.” This episode sees Splinter going after a retromutagen gun that could turn him back into a human. There’s just one problem—Krang and his new body.   It’s up to the guys to take him down and defeat both Krang and Shredder. These are just a few of the episodes that were collected for Cowabunga Classics. There are seven other episodes that span the series’ first seven seasons from which audiences will be able to choose their favorite(s) when they buy this DVD for themselves on July 29th.

The episodes that were collected for this latest compilation are the centerpiece in the DVD’s success and overall enjoyment. Audiences should also take into account with this DVD the bonus material chosen for the presentation. The bonus material collected for this DVD includes interviews with the men that original voiced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in “The Turtles: A Ninjatastic Look Back.” It also includes discussions with three of the artists that worked on TMNT over the course of its run. And it closes out with a special bonus presentation that focuses on the fans. That presentation in question was produced in 2009 for the series’ 25th Anniversary. It wasn’t included on the 3-movie DVD set, either. This critic could be wrong, but it might not have been included in the Blu-ray set, either. So that makes it even more of a welcome addition to this compilation. Much like Saban’sPower Rangers franchise is a worldwide phenomenon, so does this feature prove just how popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are to audiences even today. One of the most interesting sentiments echoed through this feature AND through the interviews with the original voices is of the show’s impact on people of all ages. It obviously is important for more than just being a show. The show’s cultural importance shines through each feature. Audiences will be moved as the original voices of the turtles discuss how moved fans were and are to this day by the series. There are stories of how it helped someone whose parents had gotten divorced at the time and of how it uplifted a young child and said child’s parents as the child sat in the hospital among so much more. It all goes to show the importance of this series to not just television history but to America as a people. That understanding makes the enjoyment of this DVD even more. And along with the episodes, it makes the DVD even more a must see for any true TMNT fans.

The bonus material included on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics is collectively an important addition to this DVD. It is just as important as the episodes chosen for inclusion on the DVD. Considering the breadth of material presented in this compilation, its $14.99 SRP is a rather reasonable price. Just because that is the suggested retail price (SRP) doesn’t even mean that it will be that expensive when it hits store shelves later this month. Odds are though, that it won’t be any more expensive than that SRP. Because it could actually retail for less depending on the store, that relatively inexpensive starting point is the finishing touch to this compilation. Together with the bonus features and the episodes chosen to be featured, all three of these factors make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowbunga Classics a must see and even a must have for any true-blooded fan of what is one of the greatest children’s series of the late 20th Century.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics will be available Tuesday, July 29th. It can be ordered direct from Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=Cowabunga%20Classics. More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate and http://www.lionsgate.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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.