Shout! Factory’s ‘Legally Blonde Collection’ Will Get A Positive Verdict From The Franchise’s Most Devoted Fans

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Almost two decades ago, actress Reese Witherspoon made her mark on the movie industry when she starred in MGM’s female-fronted comedy Legally Blonde.  Two years later, it was followed by the sequel Legally Blonde: Red, White & Blonde.  Now early next year, the franchise is allegedly set to see another installment.  As audiences wait and see if that movie actually happens, Shout! Factory has a collection available now featuring the first two Legally Blonde movies on Blu-ray.  This latest collection is a work that the franchise’s most devoted fans will appreciate.  That is due in part to the set’s bonus content, which will be addressed shortly.  The set’s packaging plays its own part in the collection’s presentation.  Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this presentation.  All things considered, they make Shout! Factory’s Legally Blonde Collection appealing for the most devoted fans of this franchise and of Reese Witherspoon.

Shout! Factory’s recently released Legally Blonde Collection, released Feb. 26 on Blu-ray, is a presentation that the most devoted fans of this franchise and of Reese Witherspoon will appreciate.  That is due in part to the collection’s bonus content.  Much of the content featured in the collection was carried over from previous releases of the movies, including the audio commentaries  The feature-length commentary in the franchise’s first flick offers some of the most engaging and entertaining content.  Viewers learn through this commentary, items, such as its director, Robert Luketic was actually a lawyer and member of the New York State Bar before making a career change.  That might account for his interest in the movie, even though he was not one of the movie’s writing staff members.  Staying on that note, it is also revealed that the movie’s writing team of Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith were on set throughout much of the movie’s principal photography to make sure every joke and every line worked.  It shows, too in watching the movie sans commentary.  That revelation comes late in the movie’s run along with the revelation that the jail scenes were shot in a real jail and that said facility was allegedly haunted and was where the infamous “Manson Girls” were detained.  Witherspoon herself even takes time to discuss how she developed her persona for Elle at various points in the commentary.  She talks about developing Elle’s walk, her body language and even the inflection in her voice.  That is interesting to learn.  This is just some of the information revealed in this one of two feature-length commentaries featured in this collection.  There are also mentions of the homage to the classic 1967 Dustin Hoffman movie The Graduate and the casting director’s tie to another female-fronted flick in Bring It On.

The audio commentary featured in Legally Blonde 2 offers its own share of interest for viewers thanks to cast members  Coolidge, Jessica Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach.  The trio reveals throughout the movie, items, such as Witherspoon was actually pregnant in reality during the filming of the movie.  The very first scene, the trio reveals, was intentionally set up to reveal her growing baby bump.  At another point, the group points out Elle’s endless kindness toward others despite their lack of kindness toward her.  That in itself makes for an interesting starting point for discussions about that personality trait in the real world.  The rest of the movie is a bit of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type presentation from the women more than anything informational.  Of course considering that the movie’s story is essentially a rehashing of the first movie’s story, just in a different setting, it would be understandable that there is not much informational to offer.  That aside, it still offers its own entertainment by and large.

The bonus commentaries featured with the Legally Blonde Collection are just a portion of what makes the two-disc set appealing for the franchise’s most devoted audience base.  The set’s packaging plays its own part to its whole.  As noted, this set is a two-disc set.  Each disc is placed in its own spot inside the case, allowing the case to be a standard-size Blu-ray case.  This in turn, allows for space-saving on viewers’ DVD and/or BD racks.  It also protects the discs from each other in terms of scratching.  To that end, the packaging for the set was done right, another positive to the set.  It still is not the last of the most important elements to discuss in examining the set.  Its average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The average price point of the Legally Blonde Collection is $16.73.  That price is obtained by averaging prices at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million and Shout! Factory’s own store.  Best Buy was the only major retailer not listing the collection at the time of this review’s posting.  While Shout! Factory’s listing of $15.99 is not the least expensive of the set’s listings, it also is not the most expensive.  It is also below that average line.  The most expensive of the set’s listing is $19.99 (at Books-a-Million and Barnes & Noble Booksellers).  The least expensive of the set’s listing is $14.12 (at Amazon and Walmart).  For lack of better wording, whether consumers choose Shout! Factory’s store or those of Walmart and Amazon – or even Target, which lists the set at $16.19 – they can by and large purchase the set at less than $20.  Considering that the average price of so many Blu-rays today can be anywhere from $20-$25 (or more in some cases) that shows that this collection is affordable for the noted devotees of the Legally Blonde franchise and of Witherspoon.  That positive mark joins with the positives in the set’s full-length audio commentaries and the other bonuses, and the set’s basic packaging, to make the set in whole a welcome addition to the libraries of any of the noted viewers.

Shout! Factory’s recently released Legally Blonde Collection is a positive addition to the home libraries of the most devoted fans of the noted cinema franchise and of Reese Witherspoon.  That is proven in large part through the bonus content that is featured with the collection.  There are some new bonuses and some carry-overs that collectively offer the noted viewers plenty of engagement and entertainment.  The set’s basic packaging saves space and protects the set’s two discs from being scratched.  The average price point of less than $20 makes the set appealing for the noted viewers in its own way.  Each item does its own part to make this collection appealing for audiences.  All things considered, they make the set a presentation that will receive a positive verdict from the franchise’s most devoted fans.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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Panton’s New LP Is “A Cheerful Little Earful” For Listeners Of All Ages

Courtesy: Little Things

Diana Panton will release her latest album next month.  The album – A Cheerful Little Earful – is scheduled for release Oct. 18 through Little Things Records.  The 15-song, 53-minute album is Panton’s second family music album — coming four years after her debut family album 2015’s I Believe in Little Things — and her 12th overall album.  This latest offering from Panton is fittingly titled.  That is because it will leave listeners of all ages feeling cheerful after they get an earful of the record.  The album’s featured songs plays directly into that effect.  They will be addressed shortly.  The musical aspect of the album also plays into that positive impact, and will be addressed a little later.  The same can be said of the album’s sequencing by connection.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make A Cheerful Little Earful a work that will leave every listener feeling cheerful.

Diana Panton’s latest full-length studio recording is a presentation that fits its title quite well.  That is because it does in fact prove itself A Cheerful Little Earful of music.  The record’s featured songs play their own part in that impact.  The record opens with Panton’s own take on the classic Rogers & Hammerstein song ‘Happy Talk,’ which is featured in the duo’s beloved musical ‘South Pacific.’  It is followed up by the song ‘It’s A Most Unusual Day,’ which was written and arranged by Harold Adamson and Jimmy McHughes, and made famous by Jane Powell in the 1948 MGM movie A Date With Judy.  Harry Woods’ 1926 hit song ‘Red, Red Robin’ – made famous by actress Lilian Roth – is also featured in the album, along with works from Perry Como (‘A, You’re Adorable’), Jimmy Van Huesen and Sammy Cahn (‘Pocket Full Of Miracles’ – taken from the 1961 movie of the same name), Sammy Fain, Bob Hilliard and Fr. Louis Sauvat (‘All In The Golden Afternoon’ – From Walt Disney’s 1951 classic animated movie Alice in Wonderland) just to name some more songs.  As if that isn’t enough, Panton once again offers at least one work for children in the form of the timeless Sesame Street tune ‘I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon.’  Of course likely just as many grown-ups know that song as do children, so to that end, that song will appeal to lots of adults as well as children.  Along with all of this, there is a Cole Porter work featured in the album in the form of ‘Experiment’ and even a cover of the Michael Jackson hit ‘Music and Me.’  That song was written by Michael Cannon, Don Fenceton, Mel Larson and Jerry Marcellino.  Simply put, Panton once again runs the proverbial gamut with this album’s featured songs.  That is just as evident in the other songs not noted here.  What is truly interesting here is that while the variety of songs is plentiful, they defy the standard definition of “Family Music.”  Most of the music here is jazz, and jazz is music for everyone, like with bluegrass (E.g. The Okee Dokee Brothers).  So it is a family music album, but also an album of music for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.  To that end, the songs featured in this album gives it a strong foundation.

That foundation is strengthened even more thanks to the songs’ arrangements.  The arrangements will appeal just as much to Panton’s longtime fans as they will to those who might be less familiar with her work.  From the light, easygoing piano-driven arrangement at the center of the album’s opener, ‘Happy Talk,’ to the more gentle, reserved arrangement at the center of ‘I Don’t Want To Live on The Moon’ (which is also centered around Don Thompson’s gentle, flowing piano line), to the equally reserved, guitar-centered arrangement of ‘If You Feel Like Singing, Sing’ to the more light hearted (and also guitar-centered) ‘Aren’t You Glad You’re You’ – which was used in the soundtrack to the 1945 Bing Crosby classic The Bells of St. Mary’s – and beyond, the arrangements featured throughout the album are really what make the featured works so easy on the ears.  Thompson’s work on the vibes from  point to point conjures thoughts of the one and only Lionel Hampton while Panton’s own vocal delivery once again is comparable to that of Diana Krall.  The arrangements are easy on the ears not just because of the instrumentation, but also because of their simplicity.  There are no over-the-top performances and solos at any point.  Rather, each song is simple and straight forward from beginning to end.  That adds even more appeal to each composition.  All things considered here, the arrangements presented in each song do just as much to make this record appealing as the songs themselves.  They still are not the last of the album’s most important element.  When the arrangements and songs are considered along with the record’s sequencing, all three elements work together to make the record that much more enjoyable and entertaining.

The sequencing of Cheerful Little Earful is important to note because it ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment by keeping the record’s energy stable throughout its run.  As already notes, the album opens on a high, light hearted note in ‘Happy Talk.’  From there, the album’s energy gradually changes with the tempos gradually slowing until it reaches that famed Sesame Street classic tune.  Things pick back up a little after that in the album’s title track before pulling back again in ‘If You Feel Like Singing, Sing’ and ‘Music and Me.’  The change in the energies are subtle though the next few songs before picking up again more noticeably in ‘Aren’t You Glad You’re You.’  The album ends with two more gentle arrangements that take listeners out on a soft note.  Again, the album’s sequencing keeps the album’s energy just right from beginning to end, not changing too much from one song to the next.  That stability in the songs’ energies means listeners are more apt to remain engaged throughout as the variety in the arrangements and the songs.  When all of those elements are noted together, the end result is a record that truly is a cheerful little earful for listeners of all ages.

Diana Panton’s forthcoming album Cheerful Little Earful is a fittingly titled-album, especially for jazz and cinema fans.  That is because so many of the songs featured in this album are classic jazz tunes that are featured in some great classic major motion pictures.  They are not the album’s only songs, though.  As noted, there is at least one song taken from PBS’ long-running series Sesame Street and even a Michael Jackson cover.  That variety of songs and associated backgrounds means a wide ranging appeal in itself.  The songs’ arrangements add even more appeal to the record.  The album’s sequencing ensures the energies in those arrangements remains stable from the album’s opening to its end.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Cheerful Little Earful an earful that will leave every listener cheerful.  More information on the album is available online now along with all of Diana Panton’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.dianapanton.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pantonda5

 

 

 

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Arrow Video, MVD Entertainment Group Partnering To Re-Issue Billy Wilder’s Directorial Debut

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group/Paramount Pictures

Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group will re-issue one of director Billy Wilder’s beloved classic movies later this month.

The Major and the Minor is scheduled for release Sept. 24 on Blu-ray.  The movie, which originally debuted Dec. 24, 1942 through Paramount Pictures (and was Wilder’s American debut), stars Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland in its lead roles. Its story, co-written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, finds Rogers portraying a financially struggling woman named Susan Applegate, who pretends to be 11 years-old in order to buy a half-price train ticket.

When she is found out, Susan runs from her accusers, only to end up running into the train compartment of one Major Philip Kirby, a military instructor who at first believes the woman is indeed a girl.  He takes Susan under his wing, but when his fiance — played by Rita Johnson — meets her, she becomes very suspicious of Susan.

While the story itself is a rom-com, it actually boasts a deeper concept — that of exploring themes of identity and deception.

The movie’s upcoming re-issue will feature a handful of bonuses, such as an archived interview with Ray Milland, a rare hour-long radio adaptation of the movie, which debuted in 1943, and collector’s booklet with essay by Ronald Reagan.  The booklet will only come in the movie’s first pressing.

More information on this and other titles from Arrow Films is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.arrowfilms.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

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

 

Website: http://mvdentertainment.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

 

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‘Penguin Highway’ Will Get A Lot Of Mileage In Anime, Sci-Fi Fans’ Blu-ray, DVD Players

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Eleven Arts Studios

Shout! Factory has been busy this year, releasing a handful of anime titles for fans of the noted genre.  The latest of those titles, Penguin Highway was released early last month on DVD and Blu-ray.  Based on a book crafted by author Tomihiko Morimi, this debut outing for director Hiroyasu Ishida is a work that will appeal to anime fans and even some science fiction fans.  That is due to the movie’s story, which will be addressed shortly.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s recent domestic release adds to its appeal for the noted audiences, and will be addressed a little later.  The primary and secondary content considered, they collectively make the movie’s average price point money well spent for the movie’s noted viewers.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, they make Penguin Highway an offering that anime and science fiction fans alike will appreciate.

Shout! Factory’s recent domestic release of Eleven Arts’ presentation Penguin Highway is a presentation that will appeal widely to anime fans and to some science fiction fans.  That is due in part to the movie’s central story.  The story follows a 9 year-old boy named Aoyama who is a lot smarter than any children his age. An easy comparison would be to a young Sheldon Cooper, just without the social ineptness.  Aoyama is a very smart young man, but also has a lot of learning to do in general about life.  He learns a lot about life in this coming-of-age story, too.  He learns about friendship, life and love as he meets a peculiar woman who works at one of his town’s dentist offices.  As Aoyama’s friendship with the woman grows, so does the mystery of a giant orb that his friends discover in a forest near the town and the woman’s connection to the orb.  As it turns out, the two are connected, as are the penguins that keep appearing around town.  This leads to the movie’s secondary story which will appeal to the noted sci-fan fans.  The concepts that Aoyama brings up about time and space being twisted by the orb and the woman’s connection to the penguins (and monsters) delves into not just the sci-fi realm, but the fantasy realm to a certain extent, too.  Through it all, audiences familiar with the movie’s source material will be glad to know the story follows its literary source material quite closely.  This will be addressed shortly in the discussion on the movie’s bonus content.  Getting back on the subject at hand, The story at the center of Penguin Highway is a unique presentation.  It takes some very familiar plot elements and crosses them in a way that is rarely ever used, if ever at all.  That in itself makes the story worth taking in at least once if not occasionally.  It is just one of the elements that makes the movie a worthwhile watch for its target audiences.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s home release adds more interest to its presentation.

The bonus content featured with the home release of Penguin Highway includes interviews with Morimi and Ishida as well as a promo video for the movie.  The promo video is nothing memorable, but the interview segments add a certain degree of engagement and entertainment to the movie’s presentation.  Ishida, during his interview, discusses items, such as the deeper meaning of the movie, his favorite scenes, casting the movie and the movie’s creation.  Ishida reveals in his interview that Penguin Highway was his debut as the director of a full-length feature, adding how nervous he was about helming the project.  That is because, as he reveals, all of his previous work was on independent shorts.  In discussing some of the movie’s scenes, he reveals that the sequences in question were a reflection of his own intentions to make the story progress in a certain fashion.  That is an interesting discussion that audiences will be left to take in for themselves.  Ishida also takes a moment to discuss the freedom of creating independent releases versus the controls of making a full-length feature.

Morimi’s interview finds him discussing items, such as his real target audience with his book, the connection between his book and its cinematic adaptation and how he developed the title for his book.  His discussions are just as natural as those of Ishida, as he takes on each item.  In talking about the creation of the book’s title, Morimi admits he does not fully recall how or when he developed the book’s title, saying only that it happened when he was in college.  He also admits that when he wrote Penguin Highway, he did not write it with children in mind as his target audience.  That would make sense, considering some of the content featured early on in the movie.  He also admits that knowing Ishida was an untested director made him uneasy about his book being adapted cinematically by Ishida, but adds he was pleased with the outcome.  This is just a sampling of the items that Morishi addresses as well as Ishida.  Between the noted discussions and lots more not noted here, the bonus interviews featured with Penguin Highway add their own share of engagement and entertainment for the movie’s target audience.  When this is considered along with the engagement and entertainment generated through the movie’s primary content, the two elements together make the movie’s average price such that those audiences will not mind paying.

The average price point for Penguin Highway’s Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is $19.98.  that price is obtained by averaging prices from Shout! Factory, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  The movie’s price point for its standalone DVD packaging is $18.56.  Almost all of the same retailers’ prices were used for that price.  The only outlet that did not list the price for the movie’s  DVD packaging was Best Buy.  Amazon and Walmart have the least expensive price listing for the BD/DVD combo pack at $17.96 while Target and Best Buy listed the BD/DVD pack’s price just above that at $17.99.  Books-A-Million’s price listing of $26.99 is its most expensive listing.  To that end, the price of $17.96 is money well spent on for those noted viewers who are fans of anime and/or science fiction.  That is especially considering the movie’s script and bonus content.  The same applies to the movie’s listing of $12.39, again at Amazon and Walmart.  Regardless of which retailer consumers choose for either platform, Amazon and Walmart offer the most competitive pricing.  What’s more, that pricing is such that the noted fans will find it worth spending considering everything noted here already.  Keeping that in mind, all three elements discussed here come together to make Penguin Highway a presentation that anime fans across the board will find appealing.

Shout! Factory and Eleven Arts’ recent domestic release of the anime flick Penguin Highway is a work that is certain to get plenty of mileage among the most devoted anime and science fiction fans.  That is proven in part through the movie’s dual story lines that interweave together so well.  The bonus interviews with the movie’s director and the author of the book that spawned the movie collectively add more engagement and entertainment to the presentation.  They collectively make the movie’s relatively low average price of less than $20 a welcome pricing, again, for those noted target viewers.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of Penguin Highway.  All things considered, they make the movie a presentation that will certainly get plenty of mileage in the noted viewers’ DVD and Blu-ray players.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Eleven Arts is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://elevenarts.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ELEVEN_ARTS

 

 

 

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Sons Of Apollo Offers Audiences A Strong Live Debut In ‘Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music/Century Media

The wait is finally over for Sons of Apollo’s new live recording.  The band officially released its new recording, Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony Friday.  The 24-song, two-and-a-half-hour concert was recorded at the famed Plovdiv Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.  If that sounds familiar to some audiences, it should.  That is because that is the same venue where the Devin Townsend Project recorded its most recent live recording, Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv.  That’s another concert, though.  This concert in question is a presentation that is certain to appeal to every Sons of Apollo fan.  That is due in part to the concert’s extensive set list, which will be addressed shortly.  The band’s performance of said set list is important to note in its own right and will be discussed a little later.  The concert’s production values round out its most important elements.  Each item noted is key in its own right to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Live With The Plvdiv Psychotic Symphony a good first live outing for this prog-rock super group.

Sons of Apollo’s debut live recording Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony is a good first live offering from the prog-rock super group.  It succeeds all the way around, beginning with its extensive set list.  The 24-song, two-and-a-half-hour set list features the band’s debut album Psychotic Symphony in whole as well as covers of some of the band members’ own favorite songs from other acts and even some work from the band members’ own catalogs.  While Psychotic Symphony is presented in whole here, it is not in the same sequence as on the record, which is not necessarily bad.  It is instead scattered throughout the record with the other noted songs, including three classic Dream Theater songs ‘Just Let Me Breath,’  ‘Lines in The Sand’ and ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’  All three songs were lifted from Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity, which was really the record that set Derek Sherinian’s identity as the band’s keyboardist at the time.  The covers featured in the set list are quite varied in their own right.  Rainbow gets a nod with ‘Gates of Babylon.’  The band also takes on Ozzy Osbourne with ‘Diary of a Madman.’  The band members even cover works from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the one and only Henry Mancini (yes, Henry Mancini) in this set list.  That’s quite a range of music.  From hard rock to prog rock to jazz and even the mainstream rock of Van Halen (the band also covers Van Halen’s ‘And The Cradle Will Rock,’ in this set), the band shows a wide range of influences and talent with the covers and the originals.  All things considered, the band’s set list ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment from the beginning to the end of the show.  That is heightened even more through the sequencing of the set list.  A close watch/listen shows a lot of thought went into the sequencing, as the show’s energy rises and falls at all of the right moments, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement.

The engagement and entertainment ensured through this recording’s set list is but one part of what makes it so appealing for audiences.  The band’s performance of that set list ensures, even more that maintained engagement and entertainment.  Those who actively watch and/or listen to the recording will note that the band wastes little to no time moving from one song to the next over the course of the concert.  Case in point is the transition from ‘Alive to Henry Mancini’s timeless ‘Pink Panther Theme,’ and from that song into ‘Opus Maximus.’  The transition is seamless from one song to the next.  The band members hit all the right notes and cues to make each transition work.  It is just one of the prime examples of how the band makes the most of its time.  Earlier on in the set, the band transitions just as seamlessly from ‘Signs of the Time’ into ‘Divine Addiction.’  That fluidity makes for so much enjoyment for audiences.  Even in the rare moments in which the band does take a moment to interact with the audience, little time is wasted, such as when drummer Mike Portnoy introduces his longtime friend and band mate Billy Sheehan for Sheehan’s solo.  That solo, by the way, would make fans of Cliff Burton and Lemmy Kilmister proud.  Getting back on topic, Portnoy’s introduction is short and to the point, giving Sheehan more time to perform.  Even when front man Jeff Scott Soto gets his moment in the spotlight for his solo performances, he is gracious and humble in addressing the audience, and brief in the process.  Simply put, from the concert’s opening to its finale, the band’s presence and performance of the show’s set list displays the band as a fine tuned machine and as a group of true professional musicians that wants to give audiences the absolute biggest bang for its buck.  When that is considered alongside the set list itself, the whole of those two elements gives audiences more than enough to appreciate in this case.  Even with all of this in mind, the set list and the band’s performance thereof is still only a portion of what makes the concert so enjoyable for audiences.  The recording’s production values put the finishing touch to its presentation.

The production values in this recording are so important in that they add so much more to the general effect of the concert.  The camera angles, the transitions from camera to camera (including the speed of the transitions) help to expertly capture and translate the energy of the show for audiences who were not lucky enough to be in attendance at what was the band’s first-ever concert at the Roman Theatre.  At the same time, they also give home audiences the absolute best seat in the house, taking viewers right up close wit hthe band on stage and from high above at some points.  The sound editing and mixing is just as worthy of praise, as it keeps all of the music and vocals just as expertly balanced throughout.  Case in point is the balance of Soto’s vocal delivery against the instrumental elements in ‘Kashmir.’  Portnoy and company are clearly audible, but never once overpower the orchestral backing provided for the performance.  At the same time Soto’s vocals are never overpowered by his band mates and guest orchestral musicians as he takes on Robert Plant’s part from the original song.  When the expert production and mixing is considered alongside the band’s performance and the set list, the whole of the concert becomes an experience that definitely presents a very wide appeal.  Overall, the noted elements make this recording in whole one more of this year’s top new live Blu-ray/DVD recordings.

Sons of Apollo’s debut live recording Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony is a powerful first live offering from the prog-rock super group.  It is an offering whose appeal reaches easily beyond just fans of the band, but the bands with whom each of its musicians have performed and more.  That is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list.  The set list not only presents the band’s debut album Psychotic Symphony in whole, but also lots of covers and originals that will appeal to lots of audiences.  The band’s performance of that set list does just as much to make the recording enjoyable.  The recording’s production and mixing put the last touch to its presentation, ensuring even more its positive impact.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony not just a strong live debut for Sons of Apollo, but also one more of this year’s top new live Blu-ray/DVD recordings.  More information on the recording is available online now along with all of Sons of Apollo’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://SonsofApollo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SonsofApollo1

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SonsofApollo1

 

 

 

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Disney’s Latest ‘Aladdin’ Re-Issue Offers More Magical Fun For The Whole Family

Walt Disney Studios’ modern classic movie Aladdin is coming back to Blu-ray and DVD again.  The animated feature, originally released in 1992, is set to be re-issued Sept. 10 alongside the home release of Disney’s live action/CG reboot of that movie.  The upcoming Signature Collection re0issue of Aladdin is an interesting new presentation of the movie in large part because of its bonus content, which will be addressed shortly.  The story at the center of the movie strengthens the re-issue’s presentation even more.  The movie’s average price point rounds out the most notable of the movie’s elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Aladdin.  All things considered, they make this latest re-issue of Aladdin a piece that is while not perfect, still a positive new re-issue of what is one of Disney’s most timeless movies.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s upcoming Blu-ray/DVD re-issue of Aladdin (1992) is a mostly positive new presentation of the movie.  That is due in part to the bonus content featured with the movie.  The bonus content is being addressed first in that the movie’s story itself is obviously not changed from its original 1992 presentation.  The bonus content featured in this latest re-issue (which comes approximately three years after the release of the movie’s Diamond Edition re-issue) give viewers a little something old and something new.  The old content carried over to this re-issue are the features about Aladdin’s life on stage, the brief segment featuring Robin Williams’ genie outtakes and the Disney Channel special “Unboxing Aladdin.”  The new extras introduced in this re-issue, the singalong version of the movie, star Scott weinger’s retrospective on the movie and the introduction of two alternate endings that never made the final cut.  For those who have never seen the bonus features from the previous Diamond Edition re-issue of Aladdin, the focus on Aladdin’s stage life is interesting considering its worldwide success.  As is revealed in this feature, the musical almost didn’t happen because of the growing pains that it (and its cast) endured.  Viewers learn that that play didn’t start on Broadway, but went from Seattle and on to Toronto before finally making its way to Broadway.  Seattle and Toronto were used as test markets for all intents and purposes for the play.  The extensive discussions with the lead cast and the musical’s creative heads give a lot of insight into the growing pains that were endured on stage and behind the curtains, such as the evolution of the flying carpet aspect and how to address the comparison between James Iglehart’s Genie and that of Robin Williams.  Viewers will be interested to learn that Alan Menken and his creative partner Howard Ashman originally had plans to make a character for Genie more in the vein of a Cab Calloway/Fats Waller hybrid for him instead of the portrayal that Williams brought to the character.  That approach is what was used for the stage Genie, and ended up proving successful.

The Genie Outtakes segment is brief, but still entertaining, especially for older viewers who will get the references.  Viewers see firsthand here, the many impersonations that Williams did during the movie, but ended up on the cutting room floor.  There are impersonations of Richard Nixon, John Wayne, Elmer Fudd, Wolfman Jack and Michael Jackson just to name a handful of famous figures spoofed throughout the movie, which ended up being removed or replaced.  It serves to show even more, Williams wide range of talent in terms of comedic impersonation.

In terms of the movie’s new bonus content, one of the most notable new features is Scott Weinger’s retrospective “Aladdin on Aladdin.”  Weinger, who was the speaking voice of the movie’s titular character, talks with his fellow cast mates from the movie, as well as his mom and the movie’s creative heads (including Alan Menkin) about the movie’s creation, everyone’s roles and their favorite memories of making the movie.  Viewers will be interested to learn through this bonus that Weinger audition for Aladdin’s speaking voice and his singing voice, but failed the singing audition.  Jonathan Freeman, the voice of Jafar jokes about having wanted to voice a villain for many years before taking on the role of Jafar while Gilbert Gottfriend talks with Weinger via phone and jokes about taking on the role of Iago.  By connection, Ron Clements, one of the movie’s co-writers reveals that Gottfriend was not the first choice for the role.  He reveals Iago was originally going to be British, but after Gottfried auditioned, that all changed.  As if all of that is not enough, Weinger’s discussion with Menken reveals the song which Weinger auditioned and failed.  That song was Howard Ashman’s “Proud of Your Boy,” Which was cut from the final movie, but is featured to this day in Aladdin’s stage presentation.  This is where the bonus content turns somewhat downward.

There is so much discussion in the bonus features about the song in question – “Proud of Your Boy – but the song itself is not featured in whole as a bonus this time.  It is presented however, in the movie’s 2015 Diamond Edition re-issue along with a group of other songs cut from the final presentation.  With all the talk of that song and its impact on the movie’s cast and crew, it would have made so much sense to have included that as one of the carry-overs from the 2015 re-issue.  To that end, it makes no sense why it and the other deleted songs were not included in this re-issues bonuses list.  Hopefully they will be brought over with the next re-issue whenever it is released.

As much as Weinger’s retrospective does to make this latest re-issue interesting for viewers, it is just one of the re-issue’s most notable extras.  The two brief alternate endings included as extras are important in their own right.  That is because they actually serve to make the initial opening for Disney’s 2019 Aladdin reboot make sense.  What’s more, they are certain to lead viewers to discuss whether they would have added anything to the 1992 movie had one or the other been included.  On the one hand, they might not have, but on the other hand, either one could have put even more of a period to the story.  To that end, it is nice to have those alternate endings.  Between this brief extra and the more in-depth retrospective from Weinger and company, these two new bonuses and the inclusion of the previous bonuses collectively make a strong foundation for this latest re-issue of Aladdin.  Sure, they leave viewers thinking they will probably have to keep the Diamond Edition (if they already own it) if only for the deleted songs feature, but that aside, they still make this a positive new collection of bonuses that audiences will enjoy.

The engagement and entertainment offered through the bonus content featured in Aladdin’s latest re-issue is just one part of what makes this presentation so appealing to the movie’s key viewers.  Its story adds to that engagement and enjoyment.  The story, presents plenty of comedy, action and romance for viewers of all ages.  It’s a buddy comedy thanks to Aladdin’s friendship with Genie.  It is also a coming of age story for Aladdin, and also a story about letting go of tradition that even promotes female independence and self-confidence.  This aspect of Aladdin is a big part of the story’s success in its own right.  That is because while it was presented in subtle fashion, that subtle approach of giving Princess jasmine such confidence and inner strength makes it that much more powerful.  It is what Guy Ritchie’s re-write got wrong.  Where Jasmine in the ’92 version was already a great role model for women (especially young women) everywhere, the Jasmine presented in the 2019 version was a way over-the-top, hear me roar, preachy Jasmine who was clearly a response to the MeToo movement.  There is nothing wrong with female empowerment.  Female empowerment is wonderful.  However, the extent to which that empowerment went in Guy Ritchie’s version was far too extreme.  It made her seem more like an uber feminist than just a straight out, strong, confident woman that viewers saw in the 1992 version of Jasmine.  It makes this aspect of the ’92 version’s story that much more integral to its success.  Even as Jafar reveals the true identity of Prince Ali and casts him to the ends of the earth, that is a big moment, but it is not so dark that it might be unsettling, so it is nice to keep that in mind, too.  Simply put, every element of this movie’s story and how each plot element interweaves with one another makes this story unforgettable and honestly timeless.  When this is considered with the importance of the re-issue’s bonus content, that primary and secondary content collectively makes for plenty for the movie’s target audience to appreciate.  It also makes the movie’s average price point such that the noted viewers will find no problem paying that price.

The average price point of Aladdin is $27.99.  That price was obtained by averaging prices at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon and Books-A-Million.  A the time of this review’s posting, the movie was not listed at Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ online store.  The price listed at Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Amazon is $24.99 while Books-A-Million’s price is  the most expensive at $39.99.  In other words, save for that one listing, viewers will find the re-issue’s price the same at each of the other noted outlets.  Those prices are all below the movie’s average price and on par with so many of Disney’s other home releases in recent years.  To that end, the movie’s price is money well spent by its most devoted audiences, considering that price comparison and the collective primary and secondary content featured in the movie’s new re-issue.  When this is all considered together, the whole of Aladdin in its new Signature Edition re-issue proves to offer its own enjoyable magical spell for the whole family even despite the lack of one key bonus feature.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s upcoming re-issue of Aladdin (1992) is a positive new presentation of the modern classic musical movie.  That is due in part to the collection of new and old bonus content featured in the movie’s new re-issue.  There is one bonus not carried over that really should have been carried over from the movie’s 2015 Diamond Edition re-issue, but it does not kill the presentation.  It cannot however, be ignored in its absence.  The movie’s story is far more enjoyable than that of the movie’s new 2019 live action/CG reboot, and simply cannot be improved upon (or duplicated.  Yes, that Robin Williams reference was intentional).  The whole of the movie’s primary and secondary content makes the movie’s average price point, which is on par with Disney’s other home releases, money well spent by the most devoted fans of Aladdin.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of this re-issue’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the movie a presentation that casts its own wonderful magic for the whole family.  It will be available Sept. 10 on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  More information on the movie is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://Movies.Disney.com/Aladdin

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DisneyAladdin

 

 

 

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‘Aladdin’ Reboot Home Release Is A Wish Fulfilled For Disney’s, Movie’s Most Devoted Fans

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Fans of Disney’s Aladdin will get their wishes granted very soon with the home release of the movie in two formats.  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release the live action reboot of the classic 1992 movie on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack on Sept. 10 alongside a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue of the noted modern animated classic.  The live action/CG reboot was originally planned for an Aug. 27 release, but that date was later pushed back to Sept. 10 to coincide with the re-issue of the animated feature instead of separating the pair into two separate release dates.  The upcoming home release of the reboot is a presentation that will appeal to the most devoted fans of the original offering.  That is due in part to its story, which will be addressed shortly.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s home release also plays into that appeal and will be addressed a little later.  The movie’s average price point, considering the story and bonus content plays its own part in the whole of the movie’s home release and will be addressed later, too.  When it is considered along with the noted content, the whole of said content and pricing makes the new live action/CG reboot of Aladdin a presentation  that while maybe not totally magical, still a wish fulfillment for the most devoted fans of the movie.

Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming home release of its live action/CG Aladdin reboot is a presentation that is not as magical as its source material.  It is however, a wish fulfillment for the most devoted fans of that property.  That is due in part to the story at the center of the movie.  The story does keep some of the elements of the 1992 animated feature from Disney, but it also features a number of changes from that source material.  Whereas the ’92 version offers plenty of back story and development early on in its 90-minute run, this story ignores all of that background, opting instead to open in the market scene in which Aladdin and Jasmine first meet.  On one hand, it detracts from the story significantly in that it gives the story a decidedly abrupt feeling.  At the same time, Director Guy Ritchie and co-writer John August – the pair wrote the movie’s screenplay — somehow manage to make the situation work despite the abrupt feeling.  Another notable change to the story finds Aladdin going to the cave of wonders with Jafar out of costume.  Unlike the case in the 1992 movie, Jafar does not try to hide his identity in this story.  He instead opts to try to seduce Aladdin with promises of power if he helps him.  Why Ritchie and August chose this route is anyone’s guess.  There is no discussion on this choice in the movie’s bonus content, which does not even feature any bonus commentary.  Oddly enough, despite being so clearly different, the change does still manage somehow to work in its own right.  These are just a couple of the changes that are evident throughout the course of this reboot.  There are lots of others that viewers will find themselves.  For all of the changes that fill the story, there are some moments that remain mostly the same.  The moment when Aladdin reveals to the sultan that Jafar has been controlling his mind is still there, albeit in a slightly different way the famed cave of wonders sequence finds some slight variances, but is still largely the same, as is the market scene.  To that end, the story does present a variety of changes, but for all the changes, they are balanced out with elements from the ’92 Aladdin’s story, making the movie worth at least the occasional watch.  The balance of the original story elements and the altered elements is just one element that will appeal to the most devoted fans of Aladdin.  The bonus content that is featured with the movie’s forthcoming home release plays into the movie’s presentation just as much as the story.

The bonus content featured with the movie’s upcoming home release are the standard behind-the-scenes making of featurette, a discussion with Ritchie about the movie’s genesis and creation, a discussion with Will Smith about taking on the iconic role of the genie, a collection of bloopers and deleted scenes, and a song that was cut from the movie.  The making-of featurette gives the relatively commonplace element — that is included in almost every movie ever released – a new twist by presenting it through the use of a smart phone.  That approach doesn’t really do much to add to the feature’s appeal, but the revelations of how each of the movie’s key sequences were made will interest viewers.  Case in point is the carpet ride sequence.  Viewers learn how it was made using a hydraulic rig, blue screen and video screens so that stars Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott would be able to coordinate the song’s verses and choruses with the different scenes within the sequences.  Audiences also learn about Massoud’s Jordanian heritage as the post-Cave of Wonders scene is shot in the Wadi Rum valley in Jordan.  Massoud openly talks about the emotional impact that shooting in the valley had on him.  It is an interesting aspect that is certain to engage viewers.  There is also a light hearted discussion in this featurette about the making of the Prince Ali introduction sequence that features comments from Scott and Massoud’s co-star Will Smith.

Ritchie’s discussion about the movie’s genesis and creation is even more certain to engage and entertain viewers than the “making of” featurette because it offers comment from Ritchie himself about his role in the movie.  He states in his interview that he decided to join on the movie because he is a family man, saying, “I live within a world of children. I want to make films my family can see.  So I was driven to remake this movie.  Creatively most engaging is that it is a musical within this fantastical world.”  Smith adds his own comments, noting, “Once I heard how he [Ritchie] was going to shoot some of these sequences, I said ‘Yes, ok, I’m in.”  The movie’s musical creative heads add their own comments to the segment, as do Scott and Massoud.  All things considered here, the whole of this segment proves to be one of the movie’s most notable bonuses.

Another of the most notable bonuses is the discussion on Smith’s role as the genie.  One of the movie’s most important roles, Smith talks here about his trepidation about taking on a role that – as he said himself – Robin Williams made so iconic.  It shows that Smith knew it would be difficult to live up to Williams’ legacy as the beloved character, but still tried to do just that while also honoring the work that Williams did in the role.  Given, Smith does not live up to that legacy, but knowing that he wanted to pay tribute to Williams and his work while also doing his own thing does create a new respect for Smith in this aspect.

The collective bonus gag reel and deleted scenes are interesting additions to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  The gag reel is brief, but will put a smile on viewers’ faces.  The deleted scenes are important because audiences see for themselves that some scenes were wisely cut while others, such as Aladdin and genie’s talk immediately after Prince Ali’s introduction should have been included in the movie.  It is a great, light hearted moment that while brief, would have added more enjoyment to the movie. Keeping this in mind along with everything else noted, it becomes clear that the bonus content featured in Aladdin’s home release plays its own key part in the movie’s overall presentation.  When it is considered along with the balance of the movie’s new and old story elements, the two together make the movie worth the cost for the movie’s most devoted fans and the most devoted Disney fans.

The average price point of Aladdin is $27.05.  That price is obtained by averaging prices at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  Amazon had the movie listed at the time of this review’s posting, but the listing did not feature prices for any of the movie’s platforms.  Disney’s shop links back to Walmart, Target and Best Buy.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ price of $30.32 is well above the average, while Best Buy is, in this case, the best buy with a price listing of $24.99 along with Target, which lists the same price.  Books-A-Million’s price listing of $22.99 is just below that of Barnes & Noble, but is still well above the average.  Walmart lists the movie at $24.96, so is it below the average, just like Target and Best Buy.  Keeping in mind so many of Disney’s movies tend to list in store in the area of $24.95 – and very close to that number – the noted prices are right on par with those other noted Disney flicks.  To that end, consumers won’t feel that they are getting ripped off when they purchase this movie, especially considering the balance of the story’s old and new content and the bonus content.  All things considered, those elements and the pricing make this presentation of Aladdin one that the most devoted Disney and Aladdin fans will appreciate.

The upcoming home of Disney’s new Aladdin reboot is an interesting work.  It is certainly a work that will appeal to a very target audience.  It is not for everybody.  That is due in part to a story, which presents a variety of changes to the story presented in the movie’s 1992 presentation.  That alone has made it a very divisive presentation.  That being the case, it will appeal largely to those most devoted fans of the movie and of Disney.  Those same viewers will appreciate the bonus content featured in the movie.  The movie’s average price point and separate price listings are in range with those of other previous releases from Disney.  Keeping all of this in mind, the movie’s upcoming home release gives the most devoted Disney and Aladdin fans something in this presentation to enjoy at least occasionally.  More information on Aladdin is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://Movies.Disney.com/Aladdin-2019

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DisneyAladdin

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.