‘Star Trek Picard: Season 2’ Struggles To Survive

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS DVD

Hardcore fans of the seemingly ever-expanding Star Trek universe got some good news this year when it was announced that Star Trek Picard, which focuses on legendary Federation Captain turned Admiral Jean Luc Picard, would get a third season run.  The wait for the series’ third and final season will not be too long for said audiences, either, as it is currently planned to stream on Paramount+ from Feb. 16 to April 20, 2023 over 10 episodes.  While audiences wait for the series’ final season, they can take in the series’ second season on DVD and Blu-ray now in a new three-disc set released through CBS DVD.  Of course, this latest installment in the series sadly has little to applaud, save for a couple of high points.  The most notable of the high points is the fact that it relies far less on the foul language and blood and gore of the first season.  This will be discussed shortly.  On the other hand, though, there is a lot to dislike about the season’s story and the packaging for the season’s home release.  This will be examined a little later. The only other positive to this season is the surprise season finale, which will be discussed but not given away here.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered they make the second season of Picard an intriguing presentation that is worth watching at least once regardless of audiences’ devotion to the Star Trek universe.

Star Trek Picard: Season 2 is an intriguing continuation of the series, which focuses on the one and only Jean Luc Picard.  That is because of its overall mixed presentation.  One of the few positives to this season is that it relies so much less on the violence and foul language that was incorporated into the series’ debut season.  The writers relied far too much on that content in Season One, almost as if they knew that otherwise Season One would not work.  Yes, there are some moments of foul language peppered throughout the season, but its presence is so much less in this case than in Season One.  The worst of the bloodshed comes late in the season’s run this time as Seven is run through by the Queen Borg/Agnes (not to give away too much for those who have yet to see this season).  Rios gets injured by one of the borg drones that Dr. Soong uses, but even in that case, the writers kept the bloodshed to a minimum.  It is a nice change of stylistic approach that while still could have been minimalized even more, was still a welcome change in comparison to the level of violence in Season 1.

While the clearly decreased level of violence and foul language incorporated into the second season of Picard makes it more worth watching, this season still fails in so many ways, not the least of which is its story.  The story in question finds Q (John De Lancie) sending Jean Luc and his friends back in time to the 21st century, apparently out of his own bizarre sense of something.  He admits in the end that he just wanted Jean Luc to learn a lesson about forgiving himself (once again, not to give away too much), but he does this at the risk of history being changed forever.  Yes, there is even an alternate timeline bit tied into the season.  What’s more, there is even an indirect reference to none other than Quantum Leap as part of the story.  That really is what audiences get here.  Picard and company go back in time and have to ensure history’s safety, this time all because Q has some quirky fascination with Jean Luc even as he (Q) is dying. 

Complicating matters even more is that Picard and his rogue’s gallery of friends have to ensure that the borg queen, who essentially possesses Agnes, does not manage to take over 21st century Earth and turn it into a borg planet.  Adding even more to the complication is Dr. Soong and his role in everything.  He lets his selfish desire for fame and immortality (literal and figurative) blind him and makes things even more difficult for Jean Luc and company.  Considering that Jean Luc already had to battle the Borg in Star Trek First Contact in order to preserve history, this whole story arc becomes all the less original.  The only difference is that instead of making sure that first contact is made, he has to ensure that his ancestor precedes that moment and joins the flight to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

As if all of this was not problematic enough, the writers incorporate a completely cheesy and unnecessary romance subplot between Rios and a young, single mother who runs her own clinic in Los Angeles.  Obviously, Rios’ own future is set early on and audiences know what will happen here.

The fact that the writers drag out this season’s story as much as they do over 10 episodes, ensuring that Jean Luc keeps getting into so many tough spots, using so much exposition as he recalls his childhood that led him to become the stoic person her became known as during his life, makes for even more problem.  It makes the season feel so much longer than it really is.  To that end, if Season One failed to live up to expectations, then all of this together makes this season fail to live up to expectations even more so because of its overall

The writing is just one of the very problematic issues that Season Two faces.  The season’s packaging proves problematic in its own way.  The three discs over which the season’s 10 episodes are spread are poorly packaged for starters.  Disc One sits on its own spot inside the Blu-ray case while Disc two sits atop Disc three with nothing to protect Disc two from getting marred by Disc 3.  This greatly decreases the potential longevity of at least one of the discs if not both, depending on which one ends up sitting atop the other from one point to another.

Adding to the problems of the packaging is the fact that there is no hint of an episode guide anywhere in the packaging.  The episode titles are printed on the discs, but that is the extent of what audiences get here.  The result is that audiences who have not yet seen Season Two will just have to sit and wait to find out what happens from one episode to the next.  What’s more, even those who are familiar with the series might forget each episode specifically, so even they might end up having to go through just to remember which episode has what aspect of the story.  This greatly diminishes the general effect of Season Two along with the massive writing problems that plague this season.

Keeping all of this in mind, there is at least one aspect of the story that does work.  That aspect is the season’s surprising finale, which actually ties (at least indirectly) back to the story element from Season One involving the Borg.  Audiences who have seen Season One will recall that Jean Luc made the revelation that the Borg were more victims than the monsters that they were made out to be for so much time.  That realization likely led to Picard to ultimately make the decision to give talks with the Borg the chance to talk in the first place in the season premiere (and finale).  The revelation that is made at season’s end is sure to play into the coming third and final season.  It makes all of the slow boil buildup to that point at least somewhat bearable.  Keeping that in mind, this final aspect of the season works with the lessened violence and foul language to make the season worth watching at least once.

The second season of Star Trek Picard is hardly the presentation that it clearly could have been.  It could have done so much right, but sadly did so much else.  That is not to say that it is a total failure.  It succeeds in that it uses far less foul language and overt violence (including bloodshed) than was used in Season One.  The surprise finale to Season Two makes for its own interest, too.  It is certain to shock plenty of longtime Star Trek fans.  These two elements make up at least somewhat for all of the failures that are so prevalent throughout Season Two’s writing and packaging, which are so problematic in themselves and collectively.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the second season of Picard.  All things considered they make Star Trek Picard: Season 2 come up even shorter than the series’ first season.

Star Trek Picard: Season 2 is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on Star TrekPicard is available along with all of CBS All Access’ latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.cbs.com/allaccess

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CBSAllAccess

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MPI Media Group Announces Release Date For New Munsters Collection

Courtesy: mpi Media Group

Rocker/director Rob Zombie’s “prequel” origin story of The Munsters is scheduled for release this week on digital and Blu-ray, but for those looking for something more along the lines of the original show, mpi Media Group has something on the way next month.

mpi Media Group announced Monday, it is scheduled to release Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Show Cast & More Lost Treasures Oct. 4. The classic presentation is scheduled for release exclusively on DVD. The forthcoming special marks the first time ever that the 1965 TV special will have seen the light of day on DVD.

Along with the title special, the collection also includes a 1966 full-color The Munsters themed “episode” featuring star Fred Gwynne in costume and character as the beloved bumbling head of the Munster household, Herman on The Danny Kaye Show. There are also some rare and vintage segments from other talk shows and a new featurette titled “Munster Memories.” The special presentation features Butch Patrick (who played Eddie Munster in the original series).

In addition, guest appearances by Edie Adams and Joey Bishop, as well as music from New Christy Minstrels.

Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Show Cast & More Lost Treasures will retail for MSRP of $19.98. Its run time is listed as two hours.

More information on this and other titles from mpi Media Group is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

Website: https://mpihomevideo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mpimediagrp

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘The Bad Guys’ Is One Of The Most Welcome Surprises Of 2022’s Field Of New Movies

Courtesy: Universal Pictures/Scholastic Entertainment/Dreamworks Animation

Everyone loves a great heist movie, right?  Okay maybe not everyone, but lots of people do, though.  Thanks to Universal Pictures, Dreamworks Animation and Scholastic Entertainment, audiences of all ages got a great new heist movie this year in the form of the cinematic adaptation of author Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys books in the aptly titled movie, The Bad Guys.  This almost two-hour movie is one of the biggest cinematic surprises of 2022.  Having made its theatrical debut April 22, the movie did not last long in theaters, coming home less than two months later to digital and physical platforms June 21.  Why it made the transition so quickly is anyone’s guess.  Its gross ticket sales of more than $96 million managed to finish the movie’s theatrical run in the black.  Regardless of why it was pulled so quickly, that is not necessarily a bad thing.  That is because it meant home audiences who did not want to have to go to the theater would not have to wait that long to finally get to enjoy it in the comfort of their homes.  There is plenty to appreciate about the movie, beginning with its story, which will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is also important to note in terms of the movie’s engagement and entertainment and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home release rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted does its own share to keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout this movie.  All things considered they make The Bad Guys a very good movie for the whole family.

Universal Pictures, Scholastic Entertainment, and Dreamworks Animation’s cinematic adaptation of author Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys book series is one of the most unsuspecting successes of this year’s theatrical releases.  Its success is due in part to its featured story.  The story stays largely true to its source material, combining elements of the stories in Blabey’s beloved children’s books for an overall story about Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Ms. Tarantula turning from bad to good, but still at least being a little bad in the end.  The group’s transformation happens after being arrested early on for a heist that it commits.  Professor Marmalade (played by Richard Ayoade – The IT Crowd, The Watch, The Double) comes in after striking a deal with Diane Foxington (voiced by Zazie Beets – Deadpool 2, Joker, Atlanta) to help reform the criminals.  In the process of their reformation, Mr. Wolf (voiced by Sam Rockwell – Moon, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) actually does start going good, which leads to its own share of conflict within the group as the story progresses.  Of course being a family friendly movie, the story ends up with a surprise happy ending that will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  Coming in at just under two hours (one hour, 40 minutes to be exact), the story’s pacing helps things along, too.  Even the romance subplot (yes, sadly even here there is a romance story) does not overpower the bigger story of the Bad Guys turning good, but rather is blended well into the overall story, letting itself take a backseat to the bigger tale.  The overall story also has plenty of jokes that are just edgy enough to have adults laughing but not questioning their content.  So even here is an aspect of the story that further shows the story’s importance and impact.  Overall, the story featured here in The Bad Guys offers so much for audiences to appreciate more than once.

As much as the story featured in The Bad Guys does to make it enjoyable, it is just one part of what makes the movie so engaging and entertaining.  The cast’s work throughout does its own share to make the movie enjoyable.  From Alex Borstein (Family Guy, Bad Santa, Catwoman) taking on the comedic role of Police Chief Misty, who is hellbent on catching Mr. Wolf and company, to Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine, This Is The End, Pineapple Express) adding so much comedic timing as Mr. Shark, to Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, In The Heights, Hamilton) bringing something of a Joe Pesci type personality to Mr. Piranha, and more, the whole cast brings so much enjoyment to the movie.  Staying for a moment on Ramos’ performance, he does such a great job giving Mr. Piranha that Napoleon complex of sorts for which Pesci’s characters have come to have over the years.  He really has a great gangster persona yet he does it in such a fun fashion that the whole family will enjoy his work.  Robinson brings his own talent to Mr. Shark, making Mr. Shark an equally great comic relief among the group.  He succeeds in creating that contrast between the personalities of his cast mates and deserves his own share of applause.  Borstein, who is largely known for her work on Family Guy is just as entertaining as Officer Misty, giving Officer Misty an almost Ahab-esque personality in her quest to catch The Bad Guys once and for all.  The moments when the group escapes her clutches, her reaction makes for so many laughs.  Between these cast members and the others, every cast member here brings so much to the table and makes for that much more engagement and entertainment for the whole family.  When the cast’s work pairs with the movie’s story, that collective makes for all the more enjoyment here.

The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home release rounds out the presentation’s most important elements.  There is a lot of bonus content but not a lot at the same time.  There is an expansive amount of content in the way of learning how to make push pops (which is directly related to a certain element of the movie’s story).  Families can learn how to make healthy and tasty fruit push pops and how to dress each one up as a character from the movie, which takes up a lot of time.  It also means it will take a lot of time for parents to write everything down if they actually make the frozen treats. 

Another bonus that stands out is the standard making of featurette.  Audiences learn through this featurette that the animation style used in this movie was intentionally meant to be different from all of the cookie cutter animation presented by Disney and so many other Dreamworks movies.  It is pointed out that the movie’s animation is an intentional blend of anime and French animation style.  It gives the animation its own welcome unique touch that is just as endearing as the movie’s story and the cast’s work. 

In yet another of the bonuses, audiences get to hear from the movie’s main cast, as the group talks about taking on its respective roles.  The interviews are brief, but still enlightening and entertaining.  That is because of the insight that each cast member offers in terms of taking on the roles of characters that most audiences might not know.  It shows a certain level of respect that each cast member has for the characters, the movie, and for one another.  Between this bonus, the others discussed here and the few others included in the movie’s home release, the overall bonus content is not necessarily ground breaking, but it does add at least a little bit of extra engagement and entertainment to the presentation.  When the enjoyment raised by the bonus content is considered along with the movie’s story and the cast’s work therein, the whole makes the movie overall such a joy to take in any time with the whole family.

Dreamworks Animation, Universal Pictures, and Scholastic Entertainment’s recently released cinematic adaptation of The Bad Guys is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation that the whole family will enjoy together time and again.  That is proven in part through a movie that does so well in bringing together elements of author Aaron Blabey’s books for its central story.  The work of the cast interpreting the scripts adds even more enjoyment to the mix because of the personality that each actor brings to his and her respective character.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home release adds its own subtle touch to the presentation, too.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered they make Bad Guys one of the biggest surprises of this year’s field of new theatrical and home movie releases.

Bad Guys is available now on digital and physical platforms.  More information on The Bad Guys is available at:

Website: https://uni.pictures/TheBadGuys

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBadGuysMovie

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‘Lightyear’ Is A Surprisingly Entertaining Addition to Disney, Pixar’s ‘Toy Story’ Universe

Courtesy: Disney/Pixar

More than 25 years ago when Disney and Pixar debuted Toy Story in theaters nationwide, the companies forever changed the face of animation.  In the nearly 30 years since that movie’s debut, the Toy Story franchise has also gone on to become a favorite among audiences of all ages through its movies and shorts alike.  Given, the franchise’s third movie should have been the finale, but that is a discussion for another time.  Fast forward to this year and the debut of the franchise’s new spinoff, Lightyear.  The movie made its digital home debut Wednesday and will make its physical home debut Sept. 13.  The movie was met with mixed reviews when it made its theatrical debut and has since struggled since then, with critics giving the movie a score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and audiences giving it an only slightly higher score, at 84%.  With the movie out now on digital platforms and soon on physical platforms, it will be interesting to see what happens with those scores. One thing that is certain about the movie at this point is that it does deserve to be seen at least once.  That is due in part to its very approach, which will be discussed shortly.  The story within the movie also plays into the overall presentation and will be examined a little later.  The cast’s work rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered they make Lightyear a movie that audiences will find worth watching at least once.

Lightyear, the latest addition to Disney and Pixar’s already extensive Toy Story franchise, is another interesting addition to that universe.  It is a presentation that is worth watching at least once.  That is due in part to the movie’s general presentation.  What is interesting about the presentation is that it is a movie within a movie.  Right as the movie opens, audiences are presented with the message that the movie is the same movie that Andy (from the original Toy Story movies) watched and that got him interested in Buzz Lightyear in the first place.  So the fact that audiences are treated to a movie that is composed of a movie is a unique approach.  On a related note, IMDB lists as one of Lightyear’s goofs as being that Andy never had interest in Buzz Lightyear in the first place in the original Toy Story movie until his mom surprised him with the Buzz Lightyear toy.  It adds that in the second movie, Buzz as a toy wasn’t even based on a movie.  How does the person who wrote about Andy having no interest in Buzz Lightyear prior to getting the toy know for a fact that this is the case?  As excited as Andy was to get his Buzz Lightyear toy, one would imagine Andy had to have had some knowledge of the movie.  Even today in the real world, toy companies market toys based on movies to children all the time and children get excited.  Taking that into account, even if Andy hadn’t seen a Buzz Lightyear movie, he still could have been excited about the toy.  To that end, that goof posted to IMDB holds no water.  Getting back to the matter of the alleged goof in Toy Story 2, who is to say that was not just one of the characters saying Buzz wasn’t based on a movie just to make Buzz angry?  Now keeping everything noted in mind there, the very presentation of the Buzz Lightyear movie as a movie for audiences essentially makes this movie its own presentation.  Yes, it is essentially a spinoff from the Toy Story franchise, but it is still its own standalone presentation that is a valid presentation.

Going a little bit deeper, the story that is presented within the movie makes for its own interest.  The story is an all too familiar tale of personal growth.  Buzz’s growth comes as he has to learn about accepting help and the consequences of letting one’s self be consumed by one’s own personal drive and desire. From causing his ship to crash on the planet in the first place because he had to put everything on himself to being so obsessed with reaching hyperspeed in his attempt to find a way off of the planet, Buzz thought he had to do it all.  He did not want anyone’s help, and that caused him to lose his first partner and almost lose others along the way including that first partner’s granddaughter and her friends.

On a secondary note, audiences learn about the battle between Buzz and Emperor Zurg.  Out of respect for those who have yet to watch this movie, this critic will be careful in discussing the pair’s conflict.  However, audiences who are familiar with the story of how Buck Rogers came to be in the 25th century will find a clear influence there (whether intentional or not).  The conflict between the pair plays into the whole matter of the fabric of space and time and certain paradoxes (again not to give away too much).  Now this conflict between Buzz and Zurg also goes into another so-called good that IMDB has posted about the movie.  It is known that in Toy Story 2, Zurg said that he was Buzz’s father, and that negated the situation in Lightyear.  That little statement was meant wholly as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Star Wars.  It was not meant to be serious, so again, whatever IMDB employee pointed out this continuity “issue” took that moment far too seriously.  To that end, audiences need to go into this movie’s story completely discounting the so-called goofs that IMDB has listed if they intend to have any appreciation for the story.  As long as they keep that in mind, audiences will find themselves surprisingly able to enjoy the story just as much as the movie’s very unique presentation style.

As much as the movie’s presentation style and story do to make the movie engaging and entertaining, they are just part of what makes the movie worth watching.  The cast’s work is also of note.  Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, etc.) leads the way, bringing Buzz to life on screen this time out.  He is clearly well-versed in the role of the hero, considering his time working with Marvel Studios.  His performance is entertaining but does not necessarily break a lot of ground for a character such as Buzz.  If anyone really stands out in terms of the cast, it is Peter Sohn (Ratatouille, Monsters University, The Good Dinosaur) as he voices Sox, the robot cat.  The subtle way in which he brings Sox to life is a prime example of less is more.  That deadpan delivery that he gives is just so entertaining throughout and really makes him the unsuspecting star of the cast.  Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Jojo Rabbit) and Dale Soules (Orange is the New Black, The Messenger, Prism) bring their own comic touch to the movie as they bring life to Mo and Darcy.  Marcy’s initial declaration about not wanting to hold a gun because it would be a violation of her parole makes for such a great comedic moment putting Soules’ talents on display.  At the same time, that the writers would keep bringing up her criminal past makes the joke get old quick.  Thankfully Soules makes the best of it doing the best she can to try to keep the joke funny.  Waititi’s delivery as Mo makes Mo such an endearing character because he is so innocent.  He can’t help that he is such a clutz, and that constant uncertainty that Mo displays is another great part of how Waititi brings him to life.  They really do so much, as does Sohn and even Evans all things considered.  To that end, the work put in by the cast does its own share to make Lightyear engaging and entertaining, too.  When their work is considered along with the story and even the movie’s general presentation, the whole makes Lightyear a surprisingly engaging and entertaining new offering from Disney and Pixar.  It is not the companies’ best work ever.  That honor still belongs (at least to this critic) to Up.  That aside, it is still a movie that even being a spinoff from the initial Toy Story universe, is still worth watching.

Lightyear, Disney and Pixar’s new Toy Story spinoff, is an interesting addition to that universe.  The movie proves itself so intriguing in part because of its general presentation.  The general presentation is a double presentation of sorts.  It is a movie within a movie that is its own presentation within the bigger Toy Story universe.  That is a unique approach.  The movie’s story is relatively accessible, as it presents Buzz as a central character on a journey of personal growth.  That familiarity is certain to engage and entertain audiences throughout the movie.  The work of the movie’s cast rounds out its most important elements.  From familiar style acting from Evans to more comedic and heartfelt performances from his cast mates, the cast’s work does its own share to engage and entertain audiences.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the presentation that is Lightyear.  All things considered, they make Lightyear a surprisingly welcome addition to Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story universe that is actually worth watching at least once.

Lightyear is available on all digital platforms now.  It is scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-ray 13 through Disney and Pixar.  More information on this and other titles from Disney and Pixar is available at:

Websitehttps://www.pixar.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Pixar

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/pixar

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Season 2 of ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Sees Noted Improvement From The Series’ Debut Season

Courtesy: Paramount/Paramount+/CBSDVD

Paramount+’s animated Star Trek series, Lower Decks is set to make its streaming debut Aug. 25.  That means that fans of the series will not have to wait but so long to find out what happened to Capt. Freeman after her arrest by the Federation.  While audiences wait, they can take in the series’ second season now on DVD and Blu-ray, after it was released July 12 on both platforms.  The show’s second season is an improvement on its debut season in terms of its writing.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies Season 2 in its home release is engaging in its own way and will be examined a little later.  The packaging for the standalone presentation rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered they make the second season of Star Trek: Lower Decks an overall success.

The second season of Paramount+’s Star Trek: Lower Decks is an impressive new addition to the animated series.  The season’s success comes in large part through its writing.  That is because the writing seems to have more heart in each of its 10 total episodes.  Right from the season premiere, “Strange Energies,” the writing improves on what was offered in Season 1.  The episode finds a…well…strange energy impacting everyone on board the Cerritos after Mariner “cleans off” a structure on a planet that the Cerritos visits.  Commander Ransom becomes an all-powerful interstellar being, leading Capt. Freeman to have to learn to be much nicer to her second-in-command.  Along the way, the bridge crew and the lower decks crew alike learn some valuable lessons about friendship and respect for others.  Whether that secondary theme was put there intentionally is anyone’s guess, but it is there, and it adds even more to the story.

On another note, the ship’s crew overall learns a valuable lesson about understanding and respecting what the other does in ‘I Excretus.’  A Starfleet trainer is sent to the Cerritos to make the crew take part in some holodeck style training to determine if the ship and its crew should even be in commission.  Boimler is the only member of the crew who succeeds in the training, and his neurotic desire for perfection along the way ends up being the saving grace for the ship and its crew, unexpectedly.  It is another surprisingly enjoyable story and further exhibits what makes this season’s writing so enjoyable.

‘First First Contact,’ Season 2’s finale, is yet another example of the strength of this season’s writing.  That is because it has all of the heart and action of a classic TSO and even TNG episode.  This as the Cerritos is forced to save another ship after an asteroid is destroyed by a solar flare.  The ship’s crew has to remove all of the Cerritos’ outer hull in order to navigate through the debris field left by the destruction, and to save its fellow Federation ship.  What happens following the brave rescue makes for an even bigger surprise.  Viewers will find out what happens as a result of the surprise when Season 3 debuts later in August.  Between this episode’s story, the stories in the other episodes examined here, and those in the rest of the season’s offerings, the whole makes clear why the writing this season proves so strong this time out.  It is just one part of what makes Season 2 so engaging and entertaining.  The bonus content that accompanies this season’s home release adds to that engagement.

The bonus content that accompanies Season 2’s home release is notable because of the background that it offers.  The “Lower Decktionary” special feature for instance is an in-depth near episode-by-episode examination of this season.  The show’s creative heads talk about many of the season’s episodes, explaining the time and thought that went into making each episode warmer and more accessible to audiences.  Some of the cast also talk about recording their lines for certain episodes remotely because of the pandemic.  In listening to them talk about each story, it is clear that much more time and thought went into bringing this season to life than the stories in the series’ debut season.  The discussion on the attempt to tell the stories of the bridge crew just as much as the lower decks crew while also paying homage to fans of Star Trek: TOS and Star Trek: TNG (as well as even those of Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise) with certain elements shows that the show’s creative heads better understood the need to connect with as many viewers as possible.

The secondary bonus feature, “A Sound Foundation” is interesting in its own way, too.  In this equally in-depth presentation, audiences are presented discussions on the work that went into all of the sound throughout the series’ second season.  This seems something minor on the surface, but when audiences listen to the discussion, it is clear that just as much time and work went into making the series’ sounds just as connecting to other Star Trek series as the stories.  Taking that into account along with the background offered through this season’s “Lower Decktionary” featurette and even with some of the episode-length audio commentaries, the overall bonus content adds plenty of appeal for the season and enhances the viewing experience even more.  That overall bonus content is just one more part of what makes the season’s presentation appealing.  Its packaging rounds out its most important content.

This season’s packaging is important to address for a pair of reasons.  First and foremost, it ergonomic.  The two discs on which the season’s 10 episodes are contained are each placed on their own plate inside the case.  This protects the discs from one another, thus increasing their longevity.  At the same time, the case itself is the size of a case holding a single disc, so it will save space on any viewer’s DVD/BD rack. 

On another note, the episode listing is printed inside the case.  Some of the brief but concise episode summaries are a little difficult to read because of their placement, but otherwise are not too problematic.  Those brief but concise introductions make it easier for audiences to decide which episode(s) they want to watch.  The result is even more positive general effect for the viewing experience since audience do not have to otherwise search through the episodes one by one on the discs.  That positive impact of the episode summaries being listed in the case and the season’s space-saving presentation makes fully clear, the positive impact of the packaging overall.  When this is considered along with the impact of the season’s writing and its bonus content, the whole makes this season of Star Trek: Lower Decks quite the improvement from the series’ debut season and gives hope for the show’s third season.

The second season of Paramount+’s Star Trek: Lower Decks is a step up from the series’ debut season.  That is proven in large part through the writing in its episodes.  The writing gives each episode so much more heart and depth than that of the episodes in the series’ debut season.  The bonus content that accompanies that writing makes for even more engagement.  That is because it allows the series’ creative heads to talk about the work and thought that went into the writing (and the sound engineering and editing).  The season’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and puts the finishing touch to the set’s presentation.  That is because of the space-saving nature of the packaging and the presentation of the brief but concise episode summaries presented inside the case.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this season’s set.  All things considered they make the presentation a welcome improvement overall from the debut season of Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on this and other titles from CBS DVD and Paramount+ is available at:

Website: https://paramountplus.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ParamountPlus

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paramountplus

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Anthrax XL’ Is A Welcome Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Live Recordings

Courtesy: Megaforce Records

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit America over the past couple of years or so, everyone knows what the impact was on the live music business.  Even as recent as last year, it caused so much live music to be paused and even cancelled.  Thankfully, many acts out there found a workaround in the form of livestream concerts, including Anthrax, which recorded a livestream concert almost a year ago to the day on July 15 and 16, 2021.  The concert was held as part of the band’s 40th Anniversary tour, which was sidelined as a result of the pandemic.  Now on Friday, that livestream concert will be available on Blu-ray in the form of Anthrax XL through Megaforce Records, which ironically was the very first label to sign the band four decades ago.  It is only fitting that the new recording will come through that label as part of the celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary.  Part of what audiences will appreciate about the semi-live show is its set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance of that set list adds its own level of enjoyment to the recording and will be examined a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the recording’s main feature puts the finishing touch to the whole, completing the presentation.  It will also be examined later.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of Anthrax XL.  All things considered they make the recording one more of the year’s top new live Blu-rays and DVDs.

Anthrax XL, the new live recording from veteran hard rock band Anthrax, is a strong new offering from the band.  It is a presentation that will find wipe appeal among the band’s fans.  That is due in part to its featured set list.  The 22-song set (though the track listing lists 21 tracks, the opening number is a medley of two songs, so the total is in fact 22) pulls from half of the band’s 12 albums, and even reaches into the band’s 1991 compilation record, Attack of the Killer Bs.  It reaches all the way back to the band’s sophomore album, Spreading The Disease (1985) and all the way up to its most recent album, 2016’s For All Kings.  Given, the set list completely omits any songs from The Sound of White Noise (1993) all the way up to We’ve Come For You All (2013), which makes for quite a bit of interest and certainly discussion.  That’s because all of those albums were released, one after the other, so why would the band ignore those albums in its concert?  Only the band knows.  That aside, the set list pulls from a relatively healthy section of the band’s catalog, which is certain to appeal to plenty of audiences.

The band’s performance of the set list is just as notable as the set list itself.  From beginning to end, the band keeps the energy flowing in every song.  Front man Joey Belladonna presents so much energy as guitarist and founding member Scott Ian works through each driving riff.  Drummer Charlie Benante and bassist Frank Bello add their own energy to the concert.  Even being a livestream concert with no audience in front of the band, the group in whole still gives its all from one song to the next, knowing audiences were still watching albeit online.  To that end, the band’s performance of each song is just as engaging and entertaining as if the band was performing in a full live setting.  Keeping that in mind, the band’s performance of the set list makes for just as much for audiences to appreciate as the set list itself.

While the set list and the band’s performance thereof do plenty to keep audiences engaged and entertained, they are just a part of what makes the recording worth hearing.  The bonus content that accompanies the recording adds another layer of enjoyment to the presentation.  The first half of the bonus content comes in the form of a handful of extra performances, including that of ‘Aftershock,‘ yet another song featured in the band’s 1985 album, Spreading The Disease.  In all, audiences get nearly 15 minutes of bonus performance from the band, making for so much more enjoyment in its own right.  The second half of the bonus content features the band’s rehearsals for its livestream show as well as a tour of the places that have been key in Anthrax’s history, including Megaforce Records, Times Square, Electric Ladyland Studios, and even a pizzeria (of all places).  The tour is guided by Ian and features him talking about the importance of each location to the band’s history.    Audiences will be interested to learn from Ian at one point, about his love for the comic book, Judge Dredd.  That is certain to connect even more audiences with the band.  Between the extra live content, the tour and rehearsals, audiences get so much to appreciate in the bonus content, each part of the bonus content lives up to that title as it puts the finishing touch to the recording’s presentation.  When it is collectively considered along with the rest of the recording’s content and the band’s performance thereof, the whole makes Anthrax XL a welcome presentation for any Anthrax fan.

Anthrax XL, the new live recording from Anthrax, is a welcome new offering from the veteran hard rock band.  It is a fitting celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary, even being in a semi-live setting.  The recording’s success comes in large part through its featured set list.  The 22-song set list pulls from half of the band’s records.  The band’s performance of said set list makes for its own enjoyment, as every band member brings his own energy to the whole.  The bonus content that accompanies the main presentation adds even more performances to the set, making for yet more enjoyment.  Guitarist Scott Ian’s tour of spots that have helped make Anthrax the band that it is today makes for its own unique addition to the bonus content that takes audiences even deeper into the band’s history.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered they make Anthrax XL another welcome addition to this year’s field of top new live recordings.

Anthrax XL is scheduled for release Friday through Megaforce Records. More information on the recording is available along with all of Anthrax’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://anthrax.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/anthrax

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/anthrax

In other news, Anthrax, Black Label Society and Hatebreed will hit the road together this summer.

The bands will launch a five-week tour July 26 in Phoenix, AZ. The tour is scheduled to run through Aug. 28 in Philadelphia, PA and will feature performances in cities nationwide, such as Charlotte, NC; Cincinnati, OH and Toronto, ON.

Anthrax’s upcoming tour is part of its ongoing 40th Anniversary celebration. For Hatebreed, the tour is a continued celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of the band’s album, Perseverance. The band is in the midst of a tour with Parkway Drive, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Stick To Your Guns in support of the album’s release anniversary. The tour is scheduled to wrap June 5 in San Francisco, CA.

Black Label Society’s upcoming run with Anthrax and Hatebreed is in support of its latest album, Doom Crew, Inc., which was released last year through eOne. Front man Zakk Wylde spoke warmly of Anthrax and Hatebreed as he talked about the upcoming tour.

“ANTHRAX is one of The BESTEST LEGENDARY METAL/THRASH BANDS of ALL TIME – I have been buds with SCOTTY, CHARLIE, FRANKIE & JOEY for over 3O years & they are some of the BESTEST people you will meet,” he said. “JON is The BESTEST new addition ANTHRAX could ask for – HATEBREED are The BESTEST HARDCORE/EXTREME METAL band & BESTEST friends w/ANTHRAX & BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. The ANTHRAX + BLACK LABEL SOCIETY & HATEBREED TOUR is going to be one of the BESTEST TOURS EVER!!”

Hatebreed front man Jamey Jasta was also upbeat as he talked about the bands’ upcoming live run.

“Listen up! It’s gonna be a hot summer!” said Jasta.  “Anthrax, BLS & Hatebreed will be on your case, in your face & ready to kick you and your father back in place!  See you in the pit.”

Public ticket sale for the upcoming tour opens at 10 a.m. local time Friday. The tour’s schedule is noted below along with the full schedule for the various ticket sales open times.

Dates for the tour are as follows:

JULY

26  The Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ

28  Brooklyn Bowl, Las Vegas, NV

29  The Palladium, Los Angeles, CA

30  Heart Health Park, Sacramento, CA

AUGUST

  1  Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, CO

  2  Midland Theater, Kansas City, MO

  4  Hard Rock Live Northern Indiana, Gary, IN

  5  Oshkosh Arena, Oshkosh, WI

  6  The Fillmore, Minneapolis, MN

  8  Southside Ballroom, Dallas, TX**

  9  Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater, Austin, TX

11  The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

12  House of Blues, Orlando, FL

13  The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC

15  The Andrew J Brady Music Center, Cincinnati, OH

16  Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN

18  The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD

19  Main Street Armory, Rochester, NY

20  The Fillmore, Detroit, MI**

22  StageAE Outside, Pittsburgh, PA

23  History, Toronto, ON  CANADA

24  Amphitheatre Cogeco, Trois Riviere/Montreal, QC

26  Coney Island Amphitheater, Brooklyn, NY

28  The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA**

** Hatebreed will not appear on these dates.

TICKET PRESALE DETAILS:

Citi Presale: Monday, April 18, 2022, 12:00 PM Eastern Time 

Live Nation Presale: Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 10:00 AM Local Time 

Spotify Presale: Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 2:00 PM EST 

Ticketmaster Presale: Wednesday, April 20, 10:00 AM Eastern Time 

Blabbermouth Presale: Wednesday, April 20, 10:00 AM Eastern Time 

Knotfest Presale: Wednesday, April 20, 10:00 AM Eastern Time 

Nederlander Presale:  Thursday, April 21, 2022, 10:00 AM Pacific Time

Venue Presales: Thursday, April 21, 2022, 10:00 AM Local Time

All Presale end: Thursday, April 21, 2022, 10:00 PM Local Time 

More information on Black Label Society’s upcoming run with Anthrax and Hatebreed is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://blacklabelsociety.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety

More information on Hatebreed’s run with Anthrax and Black Label Society is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.hatebreed.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/hatebreed

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/hatebreed

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mercury Studios’ New Thin Lizzy Hybrid Documentary/Concert Recording Is A Mostly Successful Presentation

Courtesy: Mercury Studios

Late last month, Mercury Studios presented audiences with a unique new presentation for fans of the iconic rock band Thin Lizzy.  The hybrid documentary/concert recording, Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878 (yes, that is a mouthful for a recording’s title), was released June 24.  One part documentary and one part concert recording, it is a presentation that is certain to engage and entertain most of the band’s audiences.  That is due in part to that dual presentation, which will be discussed shortly.  Digging a little deeper into the presentation, it sadly is not perfect.  Unlike so many recordings released through Mercury Studios, there are no liner notes to offer background on the concert.  This shortfall is not enough to doom the recording, but certainly would have enhanced the concert experience.  It will be discussed a little later.  The dual presentation of the concert and the note in the packaging about the footage works with the general presentation to round out the presentation’s most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered they make Mercury Studios’ new Thin Lizzy hybrid release such that most of the band’s audiences will find something to appreciate.

Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878, the new hybrid live recording from Mercury Studios, is a unique presentation that the band’s established audiences are sure to appreciate.  That is due in no small part to its general presentation.  On one side, the recording is a documentary about the band and its still iconic front man Philip Lynott. On the other side is a double-disc presentation of the band’s October 1978 Sydney, Australia concert.  The documentary will engage and entertain audiences in large part because it is not just another one of those self-serving pieces narrated by some unseen third party with random interviews, footage, and pictures.  Rather, the story in the documentary is told by the former members of Thin Lizzy and by Lynott’s own wife and daughters.  The group recalls the band’s history and Lynott’s influence as a performer and songwriter throughout the expansive presentation.  Along the way, the documentary’s chapters are separated through presentations of the songs that Lynott wrote and footage of the band performing the songs.  The stories behind the songs and the band’s history are so engrossing even for the most casual Thin Lizzy fan. Audiences will be surprised to learn how shy Lynott apparently was off stage despite being such a charismatic front man on stage.  This seems to be a recurring theme with front men.  Kurt Cobain was always said to be much the same way, as was Jimi Hendrix (who Lynott idolized according to the stories told in the documentary).  So many other front men (and women) are and were just as shy.  To that end, this revelation is sure to be a starting point for so many discussions on what makes so many vocalists so dramatically different on and off stage.

Getting back on topic, the concert that accompanies the documentary provides its own share of engagement and entertainment.  The concert is interesting in part because of its set list.  The set list in question is a 13-song presentation that spans 1974-1979, covering half of the band’s 12 albums and two of its live recordings. One of those recordings, Still Dangerous, is an exception, having been released in 2009 years after the band’s breakup.  The albums represented in the set list reach back to 1974’s Nightlife and run through 1979’s Black Rose: A Rock Legend.  The other of the live recordings represented here is the band’s debut 1978 live recording, Live and Dangerous.  So given, it is very specific in the records represented here were really Thin Lizzy at its peak.  Following the release of Black Rose: A Rock Legend, the band’s final three albums – Chinatown, Renegade, and Thunder and Lightning – were commercial disappointments.  To that end, the albums represented here and the performance overall, showed the band at its best and a great representation of the band’s body of work.  What’s more, the set list’s sequencing adds to the presentation.  That is because it keeps the concert’s energy flowing in relatively stable fashion, only really slowing in the performance of ‘Still In Love With You.’  To that end, the set list’s sequencing proves itself just as important to its presentation as its songs.

While the set list and its sequencing play directly into the concert’s engagement and entertainment the lack of any background ntoes on the concert detracts somewhat from the overall presentation.  This is rare for live recordings from Mercury Studios (formerly Eagle Rock Entertainment).  In doing research, it is revealed that the concert presented herein is in fact a re-issue of a previously released concert from another label years ago. What’s more, the concert that was held was a free performance that the band held in front of 100,000 fans in Sydney. In addition, the concert marked guitarist Gary Moore’s first time live with the band in Australia as a permanent member.  His stint with the band between 1978 and 1979 would be his third and last with the band.  To that end, the concert is as much about Moore’s performance with the band as it is about the band in whole.  A note about the quality of the concert footage is included in the packaging, which adds to the understanding and appreciation of the audiovisual presentation, ensuring that much more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is plenty of interesting background that could have been written about the band’s 1978 Sydney Harbor concert, which is also briefly shown as part of the recording’s documentary, but sadly that background is nonexistent here.  It is not enough to doom the recording, but it certainly would have been beneficial to the presentation to have that addition.

Getting back to the positive side of things, audiences will be happy to know that the concert is presented in full both on DVD and CD as part of the presentation.  That means that audiences can enjoy the concert herein in their vehicles and at home any time they want.  That is a positive in its own right and is a definite positive to the whole.  The concert order is slightly different between the DVD and CD presentations, but each song is still present in each platform.  That means no matter what, audiences get the entire concert experience here.  When this is considered along with the general overall presentation of the recording, the two items collectively give Thin Lizzy’s established audiences plenty to appreciate.

Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878, Mercury Studios’ new retrospective on Thin Lizzy and its equally famed front man Phil Lynott, is a work that will appeal widely among the band’s audiences.  That is due in part to its general presentation.  The general presentation gives audiences the best of both worlds in one setting with the documentary about the band in the same package as the concert.  It would have been easy for Mercury Studios to split the two up and make audiences pay double, but instead the company took the high ground and offered it all in one package.  That is commendable to say the least.  While the general package is positive, the lack of any background on the concert half of the presentation is disappointing.  It would have been nice to have had the important background about the band’s 1978 Sydney Harbor show included in some form, but sadly it was not there.  That is not enough to doom the recording, but it certainly would have added to the recording’s impact.  The dual presentation of the concert as part of the whole rounds out the recording’s most important elements.  It allows audiences to enjoy the 1978 Sydney Harbor show anytime and anywhere they want.  It puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  When it and the other items examined here are considered together they make the recording in whole a piece that most of the band’s audiences will appreciate.

Phil Lynott Songs For While I’m Away + Thin Lizzy The Boys Are Back In Town Live at the Sydney Opera House October 19878 is available now through Mercury Records.  More information on the recording is available along with all of Thin Lizzy’s latest news at:

Website: https://thinlizzyband.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinLizzyOfficial

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thinlizzy_

More information on this and other titles from Mercury Records is available at:

Websitehttps://mercurystudios.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MercuryStudiosCo

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/mercurystudios

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

“Dr. Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” Is An Imperfect But Still Enjoyable Addition To The Marvel Cinematic Universe

A little more than two months after making its domestic theatrical debut, Marvel Studios/Disney’s Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set for home release of 4K UHD and Blu-ray July 26.  The movie is director Sam Raimi’s first time heading a Marvel movie since helming Spiderman 3 in 2007 and while it is not perfect, it is still an entertaining new addition to the Marvel cinematic universe (MCU).  The movie’s success comes in part through its story, which while imperfect in itself still makes the movie worth watching occasionally.  This item will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast plays its own part into the movie’s success and will be addressed a little later.  The movie’s general effect rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered this latest addition to the MCU is a worthwhile story that any true Marvel fan will appreciate.

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the latest entry in the ever-expanding MCU (and second in the Dr. Strange world), is a mostly successful presentation.  The success that it enjoys comes in large part through its story that although imperfect is at least not too long at just over two hours in time.  The story is relatively simple: Dr. Strange meets a powerful young woman named America Chavez who has the ability to transcend Marvel’s various universes and has to protect her from Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch.  He has to protect America from Wanda because Wanda wants to take America’s powers and use them to venture into the multiverse and find the one in which “her children” reside.  Quotation marks are used because Wanda created her children, so they are not her biological children.  This is tied back into Marvel’s small screen world, sadly forcing audiences to know about the story from Disney+’s Vision and the Scarlet Witch series.  This tie into the bigger MCU is nothing new but is still disappointing because it leaves audiences who have not seen that limited series in the dark so to speak.  On a side note, there is also mention of Marvel and Sony’s Spiderman No Way Home in the story albeit brief, therefore once again forcing audiences to have some knowledge of that movie before coming into this presentation.  All of this aside, the story does manage to stand as its own tale that is not tied too closely to the rest of the MCU, so it has that much going for it.

Getting back to the matter of Wanda’s quest to capture America, it really comes across as being cliché to a point.  It all just seems so formulaic considering that the misguided villain story has been done so many times in other superhero stories in various ways but is still the same sort of tale.  Yes, a mother’s love is powerful, and there are women who have been proven so crazy to have children that they would kidnap others’ children in the real world, but this is not the real world.  It is the world of comics on film, and again, Wanda’s story of a misguided villain is anything but new in that realm.  It all just seems too formulaic, and it does detract from the movie’s presentation to a point.  It is not enough to completely doom the movie, though for audiences who can overlook this issue.

Moving on from that aspect, in the process of trying to protect America from Wanda, America and Dr. Strange end up in one of the endless universes out there in the MCU.  In their attempt to get home, he and America find out that a magical book that they need to defeat Wanda is conveniently located in that universe.  The book is not the only point of interest in the universe in which Dr. Strange and America find themselves. Characters from many other Marvel comic books, including Black Bolt, Reed Richards, and the seemingly most powerful mutant in the world, Professor Charles Xavier, are also there.  This is clearly a way for Marvel and Disney to further expand the MCU and really just feels more like fan service than anything really relevant to the story.  Even more problematic is that as the story progresses, the attention tends to turn more toward Dr. Strange than his young charge.  Thankfully the focus does not turn too much and does make a clear attempt to balance the focus even as there is so much going on not only in that universe but in the many other universes, including what one has to assume is “Earth Prime”.  Considering everything that is going on in the two universes that become the center of the story, the movie’s writing team is to be commended for trying to transition fluidly back and forth between the worlds even with the clear contrivance and other issues in the story.  That writing thankfully keeps the movie’s pacing relatively stable throughout its two-hour run time, which is itself appealing, considering the number of movies out there today that seem ton consciously try to exceed the two-and-a-half-hour mark.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story featured in Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is far from perfect, but it is clear that those behind the story’s creation did make an attempt to pull every viewer into the tale.  Those efforts make the story a relatively stable starting point for the movie’s presentation.

Building on the relative stability of the movie’s story is the cast’s work interpreting the story’s script.  Benedict Cumberbatch leads the way as the movie’s titular character.  From beginning to end, Cumberbatch’s personality on screen is so much like that of fellow Marvel star Robert Downey Jr., who for such a long time, portrayed Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.  That is evidence in the borderline cockiness that Cumberbatch brings out of Steven Strange throughout the movie.  At the same time, he does show a subtle vulnerability in Dr. Strange.  That balance of confidence (maybe overconfidence at times?) and vulnerability makes him a great new potential leader for the Marvel universe or at least a strong character of focus as the MCU enters its next phase.  It just makes him that much more endearing to audiences.

On another note, Elizabeth Olsen’s latest take as Wanda is just as notable in this movie.  There is a certain over the top nature in her subtle fury but also something engaging about her portrayal, too.  From early on, the casual way in which she talks about what happened to Vision in Vision and the Scarlet Witch shows that she has already left reality so to speak.  There is a certain sociopathic nature already peeking through.  As the story progresses, Olsen takes on more of a familiar crazed super villain role.  That familiarity will keep audiences engaged even as comfortable as such a portrayal has become in the comic book to film world.  That is not a slap at Olsen and her work.  It is just that her portrayal is so commonplace that it does not really break any new ground but is still engaging and entertaining in its own right.

On a completely different note, that America is supposed to be the center of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, star Xochitl Gomez, who portrays America, makes the most of her moments on screen.  The vulnerability and lack of self-assurance that she gives America is something to which so many younger teen audiences will relate.  This even though American is technically a being that is centuries old (as Wanda points out at one moment in the story).  The vulnerability shows through as she sees a vision of her childhood in her home world while the lack of self-assurance shows through in her attempt to control her powers.  It is just too bad that she did not get as much screen time as she likely should have, considering the overall story.  Either way, she makes the most of her time on screen, too.  When her performance is considered alongside those of Cumberbatch and Olsen, the main cast’s work on screen adds to the movie’s appeal in its own right.

The main cast’s work on screen is just one more item of note in examining the movie’s presentation.  The general effect in the presentation is also worth examining.  Right from the movie’s introduction in which Steven is dreaming about being in another universe, fighting a monster as he is trying to get to a book, the look of the movie really has that same look that audiences came to know from Raimi’s work helming the original Spiderman trilogy.  The different worlds, the monsters, everything, they all have that trademark Sam Raimi touch.  That touch in question is that of more comic book than the gritty stuff that so many movies have come to use.  It really is a nice return to form so to speak and will certainly appeal to so many audiences.  The whole thing just has that really more comic book realm on screen feel and is so welcome.  When it is considered along with the work of the movie’s cast and the relatively engaging story, the whole makes the movie overall a mostly successful new addition to the MCU universe.

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a mostly positive new addition to Marvel Studios and Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It is hardly perfect but is also not a failure.  Its success comes in part through its featured story.  The story centers on Dr. Strange’s attempt to keep a powerful mutule-versal being from being kidnapped and essentially killed by The Scarlet Witch, who wants the being’s powers in order to venture into the multiverse and be with her children from one of those universes.  The whole thing is somewhat contrived when viewed in the overall picture, but is still worth taking in.  The main cast’s work on screen adds to the interest especially in the case of Benedict Cumberbatch’s work.  He showed he could potentially take the lead as the next Avengers head if he so wanted.  Elizabeth Olsen’s latest turn as Wanda Maximoff was engaging in its own right, too.  The general effect of the movie rounds out the movie’s most important element in that it really brings back the look of the Spiderman movies helmed by Sam Raimi.  That look is that true comic book to screen look.  It is somewhat cheesy but in an endearing way.  It really does leave audiences feel like they are looking at what they might see in the comic books and is just such a welcome accent to the whole.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the movie and when considered together, make the movie overall a movie that while imperfect is still entertaining.

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is scheduled for release on 4K UHD and BD July 28.  More information on this and other titles from Marvel Studios is available at:

Website: https://www.marvel.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marvelstudios

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marvel

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

Anthrax Premieres ‘The Devil You Know’ Live Clip

Courtesy: Megaforce Records

As the release date for Anthrax’s new live recording, Anthrax XL, nears, the band is giving audiences another preview of the recording with a new live clip.

The band premiered the clip of its performance of ‘The Devil You Know‘ Friday. The recording is schedule for release July 15 through Megaforce Records. The video features the band performing the song on stage and adds in pictures of the band alongside some very well-known friends. Among the well-known friends featured in the pictures are the likes of Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, and Vinnie Paul. Also among those friends featured in the pictures are the likes of Peter Criss, Slash, and James Hetfield.

The audio in the clip is exceptionally clear. The video is just as impressive.

‘The Devil You Know’ is the second live clip that Anthrax has released ahead of Anthrax XL‘s release. The band premiered a live clip of ‘Aftershock‘ early this month.

The track listing for Anthrax’s Anthrax XL Blu-Ray / CD / Digital is as follows:

Time/Fight Em ’Til You Can’t

Madhouse

Caught In A Mosh

Metal Thrashing Mad

Got The Time

I Am The Law

Keep It In The Family

Lone Justice

The Devil You Know

Be All End All

Now It’s Dark

Antisocial

In The End

Medusa

Evil Twin

Indians

Skeletons In The Closet

Blood Eagle Wings

Bring The Noise

A.I.R.

Among The Living

In other news, Anthrax, Black Label Society and Hatebreed will hit the road together this summer.

The bands will launch a five-week tour July 26 in Phoenix, AZ. The tour is scheduled to run through Aug. 28 in Philadelphia, PA and will feature performances in cities nationwide, such as Charlotte, NC; Cincinnati, OH and Toronto, ON.

Anthrax’s upcoming tour is part of its ongoing 40th Anniversary celebration. For Hatebreed, the tour is a continued celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of the band’s album, Perseverance. The band is in the midst of a tour with Parkway Drive, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Stick To Your Guns in support of the album’s release anniversary. The tour is scheduled to wrap June 5 in San Francisco, CA.

Black Label Society’s upcoming run with Anthrax and Hatebreed is in support of its latest album, Doom Crew, Inc., which was released last year through eOne. Front man Zakk Wylde spoke warmly of Anthrax and Hatebreed as he talked about the upcoming tour.

“ANTHRAX is one of The BESTEST LEGENDARY METAL/THRASH BANDS of ALL TIME – I have been buds with SCOTTY, CHARLIE, FRANKIE & JOEY for over 3O years & they are some of the BESTEST people you will meet,” he said. “JON is The BESTEST new addition ANTHRAX could ask for – HATEBREED are The BESTEST HARDCORE/EXTREME METAL band & BESTEST friends w/ANTHRAX & BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. The ANTHRAX + BLACK LABEL SOCIETY & HATEBREED TOUR is going to be one of the BESTEST TOURS EVER!!”

Hatebreed front man Jamey Jasta was also upbeat as he talked about the bands’ upcoming live run.

“Listen up! It’s gonna be a hot summer!” said Jasta.  “Anthrax, BLS & Hatebreed will be on your case, in your face & ready to kick you and your father back in place!  See you in the pit.”

Public ticket sale for the upcoming tour opens at 10 a.m. local time Friday. The tour’s schedule is noted below along with the full schedule for the various ticket sales open times.

Dates for the tour are as follows:

JULY

26  The Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ

28  Brooklyn Bowl, Las Vegas, NV

29  The Palladium, Los Angeles, CA

30  Heart Health Park, Sacramento, CA

AUGUST

  1  Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, CO

  2  Midland Theater, Kansas City, MO

  4  Hard Rock Live Northern Indiana, Gary, IN

  5  Oshkosh Arena, Oshkosh, WI

  6  The Fillmore, Minneapolis, MN

  8  Southside Ballroom, Dallas, TX**

  9  Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater, Austin, TX

11  The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

12  House of Blues, Orlando, FL

13  The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC

15  The Andrew J Brady Music Center, Cincinnati, OH

16  Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN

18  The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD

19  Main Street Armory, Rochester, NY

20  The Fillmore, Detroit, MI**

22  StageAE Outside, Pittsburgh, PA

23  History, Toronto, ON  CANADA

24  Amphitheatre Cogeco, Trois Riviere/Montreal, QC

26  Coney Island Amphitheater, Brooklyn, NY

28  The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA**

** Hatebreed will not appear on these dates.

TICKET PRESALE DETAILS:

Citi Presale: Monday, April 18, 2022, 12:00 PM Eastern Time 

Live Nation Presale: Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 10:00 AM Local Time 

Spotify Presale: Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 2:00 PM EST 

Ticketmaster Presale: Wednesday, April 20, 10:00 AM Eastern Time 

Blabbermouth Presale: Wednesday, April 20, 10:00 AM Eastern Time 

Knotfest Presale: Wednesday, April 20, 10:00 AM Eastern Time 

Nederlander Presale:  Thursday, April 21, 2022, 10:00 AM Pacific Time

Venue Presales: Thursday, April 21, 2022, 10:00 AM Local Time

All Presale end: Thursday, April 21, 2022, 10:00 PM Local Time 

More information on the upcoming tour is available along with all of Anthrax’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://anthrax.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/anthrax

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/anthrax

More information on Black Label Society’s upcoming run with Anthrax and Hatebreed is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://blacklabelsociety.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety

More information on Hatebreed’s run with Anthrax and Black Label Society is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.hatebreed.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/hatebreed

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/hatebreed

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘The Beatles And India’ Is A Mostly Successful New Look At A Pivotal Point In The Beatles’ History

Courtesy: Silva Screen Productions/Renoir Pictures

It goes without saying that The Beatles is considering by many critics and audiences alike to be one of the most important bands in the history of modern music.  The band’s music has and continues to transcend generations since its original release from one album to the next.  Memorabilia surrounding the band still commands high prices among audiences to this day, and to this day, movies and documentaries are still being made about the band.  The most recent of the documentaries to center on The Beatles is the 2021 feature, The Beatles and India.  Having made its theatrical debut in 2021, it is scheduled for home release June 21 on Blu-ray and DVD.  No surprise to anyone, this documentary will appeal primarily to established fans of The Beatles, though more casual audiences will find it worth watching at least once.  The doc’s appeal comes primarily through its main feature, which will be discussed shortly.  While the main feature is a positive to the documentary’s presentation, the whole is not perfect.  There is something of an issue with the audio mix, though it is not enough to doom the documentary.  This will be examined a little later.  The concern with the audio is a bridge of sorts between the documentary’s main feature and bonus content.  Speaking of the bonus content, it is also an item that audiences will find a positive, so it will also be examined later.  When it is considered along with the documentary’s main feature, the two items collectively make the overall presentation a mostly successful offering for any fan of The Beatles.

The Beatles and India, the new documentary centered on the one and only Beatles, is a unique new look at what many considered to be a pivotal part of the band’s history, its journey to Rishikesh, India in 1968.  The story of that journey is interesting in that it is revealed here that it was really because of the band’s then guitarist George Harrison, that The Beatles even went to India in the first place.  As is pointed out, Harrison made the pilgrimage to India because he was more interested in Indian music and culture than his band mates. He apparently convinced his then band mates to make the journey to India, too.  The story from there gets even more interesting.  It gets more interesting as it is revealed that as much as has ever been said and written about the band’s time in India, apparently three quarters of the band did not stay very long.  Ringo and his wife left only a couple of weeks after making the trip.  Paul and his wife stayed less than six weeks.  Even after everything, it was George who largely remained.

Just as interesting to learn in watching this documentary is that apparently the band became pawns of a sort to a number of parties during and after their trip to India, including the very man who had become their spiritual leader of sorts during their time in India.  The story of how that relationship started and ended is surprising to say the very least.  It sounds in the bigger picture, like something that came right out of a movie.  Along with that, the band also became pawns of a sort to another individual back in the United States when they returned from India.  That story pairs with the story of the band’s relationship with the Maharishi to make quite the interesting overall tale.  When the examination of the band’s relationships with others and even each other during and after their trip to India is considered along with the overarching story of Harrison’s role in the whole thing, the overall presentation makes for a story that will keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout the documentary’s 96-minute run time.

While the overall main feature gives audiences reason to watch the documentary, its audio causes some concern.  The concern comes from the realization that the main feature runs surprisingly low.  Audiences will have to turn up the volume on their TVs quite a bit in order to be able to fully hear everything.  This is important to note because by comparison, the audio in the documentary’s bonus content was recorded at quite a high volume.  So in going straight from the main feature to the bonus content, audiences will have to immediately turn down the volume before starting the bonus content.  Otherwise, audiences will find the unpleasant surprise of having extremely loud audio in the bonus content.  Why and how this stark difference in audio levels is anyone’s guess.  It is not enough to doom the documentary, but it certainly negatively impacts the presentation’s aesthetics.

Speaking of the documentary’s bonus content, it will give the noted targeted audiences more reason to watch.  The extensive interview with author Ajoy Bose, whose book Across The Universe – The Beatles In India is the basis for the documentary, is the most notable of the bonuses.  Bose talks about a variety of topics during his interview, including finding the people who were interviewed for the documentary, the long-term influence of India’s culture and music on the band in regards to not just its music but its members, and the research that he did for his book and for the documentary.  His insights in regards to each item will again appeal to plenty of audiences, especially the most devoted fans of The Beatles.  The secondary bonus examining the compound where John, Paul, George, and Ringo stayed during their time in India offers its own interest.  Many will likely take issue with this, but in listening to the narration while observing the map, the whole compound looks and sounds like something that would be used by a cult.  That is sure to generate plenty of its own discussion among audiences and in turn shows why this item is important in its own way to the whole of the bonus content.  When it and the extensive discussions from Bose are considered together, they make clear why the documentary’s bonus content is just as important to the overall presentation as its main feature.  When that secondary and primary content are considered together, they make the documentary in whole a mostly successful presentation.

The Beatles and India, the latest documentary centered in The Beatles, is a presentation that most audiences will find intriguing.  Its interest comes in large part through its main feature.  The main feature focuses on the band’s much talked about journey to India in 1968.  Audiences will find interesting here that despite all the legend that has been made about that trip, it apparently did not go quite as smoothly as many have made it to be.  While the main feature gives audiences reason to watch, the seeming issues with the audio between the main feature and bonus content detracts from the enjoyment to a point.  The main feature was apparently recorded at a low volume while the bonus content was recorded at a much higher volume.  That difference in volume will require audiences to adjust the volume between the two items.  It is not enough to doom the documentary, but certainly does detract from the overall enjoyment.  Speaking of the bonus content, it proves itself worth watching, too.  That is because of the background that is offered on the documentary’s creation and on the band’s time in India through the two main features here.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary’s home presentation.  All things considered, they make the documentary a mostly successful presentation that most audiences will agree is worth watching at least once.

The documentary’s soundtrack was released in March through Silva Screen Records. The doc’s DVD presentation is expected to retail for MSRP of $19.95 and its Blu-ray presentation for MSRP of $24.95. Each can be ordered here.

More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online at:

Websitehttp://mvdentertainment.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/MVDEntertainmentGroup

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.