‘The Flintstones’ Specials & Movies Set Is Enjoyable But Imperfect

Courtesy: Warner Brothers/Warner Home Video/WWE/Hanna-barbera

Hanna-Barbera’s animated series The Flintstones is a timeless franchise.  The show ran for a total of six seasons over the course of more than five years.  It also produced a handful of movies and TV specials, some of which proved more memorable than others of course.  The series has remained in syndication to at least some extent or another since its inception, and is readily available on separate standalone and full series sets, while its movies have been less available.  Early last month, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Home Video addressed that concern with a new collection of The Flintstones animated features.  Titled simply 2 Movies & 5 Specials, (which is problematic in itself), the collection is a mostly positive presentation, though is imperfect.  To the positive, the majority of the animated features are among the most well-known of the property’s most well-known and beloved.  There’s even one lesser-known but still enjoyable presentation featured as part of the collection.  For all that the inclusion of those features does for the set’s presentation, the inclusion of one other detracts notably in its own way, as does the complete lack of effort in titling the collection.  Keeping all of this in mind, the one other positive to this set is its average price point.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make the set a presentation that even with its negatives is still a collection that devotees of The Flintstones will welcome in their home video libraries.

The Flintstones 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a presentation that the most devoted fans of Hanna-Barbera’s beloved TV family will welcome into their home video libraries.  That is due in part to its featured specials and movies, the majority of which are well-known and beloved.  The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones is included in the collection, as are the equally well-known I Yabba-Dabba Do in which Pebbles and Bam-Bam finally get married, bringing together the Flintstones and the Rubbles at long last.  Even the 1993 special Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby is featured as part of the collection’s body.  It is in this prime-time special that Pebbles and Bam Bam become parents themselves, continuing their families’ collective lineage.  As if that is not enough, the lesser-known 1978 special Little Big League — which pits Fred and Barney against one another as opposing little league baseball coaches – and The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone – a Halloween-themed episode that finds Fred having to save Wilma from the clutches of Drac…er…Rockula —  are also part of the set.  This collection marks the first time ever that the noted classic specials have ever been released in one single box set.  The 2012 DVD collections from Hanna-Barbera were not official releases.  The specials were placed onto DVD-R discs in on-demand sets.  What’s more, those on-demand DVD-R sets were released separately, meaning audiences had to spend more money to own them in any fashion.  This plays into the set’s other major positive, its average price point, which will be discussed later.  Having all of these classics together in one official set for the first time is very much a selling point for the set.  Of course there is one other “movie” included in the collection that greatly detracts from that presentation.  That “movie” is the WWE-themed presentation Stone Age Smackdown.

Stone Age Smackdown was created through a partnership between Hanna-Barbera, Warner Home Video and WWE.  The “movie” is clearly little more than a cash grab for all involved.  It finds Fred trying to get his family’s vacation money back (after losing it himself) by creating a stone age wrestling mega event.  WWE superstars, such as John Cena, The Undertaker, and Mark Henry all provided their vocal talents to the direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray “movie.”  Its inclusion in place of another more well-known and beloved classic Flintstones special — A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994) – is bewildering.  Sure, A Flintstones Christmas Carol is just one more take on author Charles Dickens’ timeless novel, but there is still a certain heart to the holiday special because it takes a unique approach to the story.  It makes Fred a real Scrooge and Wilma the real star when everyone starring in Bedrock’s annual presentation of A Christmas Carol falls ill with “The Bedrock Bug.”  This use of a community putting on A Christmas Carol and making its lead into its own Scrooge is something that few if any adaptations of A Christmas Carol have done.   Stone Age Smackdown by comparison is clearly aimed at a very specific audience group.  Along with that, that it is aimed at a very specific audience base, it completely breaks up the sense of nostalgia and warm family messages featured in the other stories.  It really should have been omitted in favor of the noted holiday special (and maybe even its companion bonus holiday episode of The Flintstones).  Luckily, even with all of this noted, audiences do have the option to not watch that awful WWE-themed “movie” and the holiday specials are available on their own readily available standalone official DVD.  So the collection is not a total failure to that end.  It is not the set’s only con.  The fact that the set’s title is so lacking in any selling value detracts from its presentation, too.

The title of the new Flintstones specials and movies set is very simple:  2 Movies & 5 Specials.  The very use of the numbers hurts the title.  If it had stuck just with Movies & Specials, it would have worked, but that use of the numbers just does not work.  That is because the lines of what is defined a “special” and a “movie” are so blurred nowadays.  Case in point for comparison are the Peanuts primetime TV specials.  The only pure movie that has been produced from that property is The Peanuts specials.  The “Happiness Is…” DVDs and Blu-rays are just specials.  All of the classic holiday presentations are specials, not movies.  Taking that into account, the collection’s title does not ruin its presentation, but it cannot be ignored.  Together with the inclusion of that noted WWE-themed “movie,” this collection suffers plenty, but is not completely unwatchable.  They are just more examples of how the people at Warner Home Video continue to this day to come up short in their home releases.  The company has failed with its Hats Off To Doctor Seuss collection, its unnecessary recent re-issue of the Batman Beyond complete series set, some of its Tiny Toon Adventures DVD sets, the Scooby-Doo! and Scrappy-Doo: The Complete Season 1 set, and even its 2014 released Flintstones Kids collection.  Keeping that in mind, even with its failings, this set is not a complete failure.  It does have at least one other positive in the form of its average price range.

The average price range for The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is $14.87.  That price is obtained by averaging prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Walmart offer the least expensive listing at $9.96.  Target and Best Buy each list the set at $14.99, just above the noted average price point.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million have the set listed respectively at $19.31 and $19.98.  They are the retailers for audiences to avoid while the others still give audiences plenty of options.  Those four relatively affordable price options couple with the overall positive content to show why that financial aspect is so important to this set’s presentation.  Even with the one confusing addition to the set in the form of Stone Age Smackdown, that price is still a point that audiences will find appealing in its own right.  Hopefully one day, this collection will get its own re-issue with the Flintstones Christmas Carol in place of that awful WWE “movie.”  Until then though, this set is still a positive presentation for any true devotee of The Flintstones.

The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a positive but imperfect presentation from Warner Home Video, Hanna-Barbera and WWE.  It succeeds in large part because of the inclusion of so many classic Flintstones movies and TV specials.  They reach all the way back to 1966 and all the way up to 1993.  For all of the good that those specials do for the set’s presentation, its one modern “movie,” 2015’s Stone Age Smackdown detracts considerably.  Thankfully it does not make the set a failure, since audiences do not have to watch that forgettable presentation.  The set’s title detracts from its presentation, too, but not so much that it makes the set unwatchable, either.  Considering that there is more positive content featured in this collection than bad, the average price point of less than $15 proves itself a positive investment for families.  That item, considered with the overall content, makes The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials a welcome addition to the home DVD library of any devotee of The Flintstones.  More information on the DVD is available along with all of the latest Flintstones news at http://www.facebook.com/TheFlintstones.

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Arrow Video’s ‘Flash Gordon’ Re-Issue Is The Movie’s Best Presentation Yet

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group

Arrow Video’s recently released Blu-ray re-issue of Universal’s classic sci-fi flick Flash Gordon is the new gold standard for the movie’s home release.  Released Aug. 18 on Blu-ray and 4KUHD, this latest re-issue of the 1980 comic strip adaptation is the movie’s first domestic re-issue since 2012, when it was re-issued alongside The Last Starfighter, Dune, and the pilot for the original Battlestar Galactica series in a four-disc DVD set.  The movie’s audio and video form the foundation for its latest re-issue, and will be discussed shortly.  The extensive bonus content that accompanies the movie’s home release builds so much on the foundation formed by the movie’s production values.  It will be discussed a little later.  Flash Gordon’s story 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 movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the movie’s latest re-issue a presentation that is without question one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Arrow Video’s new Flash Gordon re-issue is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  From sci-fi fans to fans of comics to action movie aficionados to classic cinema connoisseurs, this movie’s appeal will find plenty of appreciative audiences.  That is proven in part through the production values presented in this re-issue.  The colors in the sets and the costumes are so rich, especially the reds (red was allegedly the favorite color of the movie’s famed Producer Dino De Laurentiis according to information provided in the movie’s bonus content) of Ming’s palace.  In comparison to footage from the movie in its original presentation (which is shown in the noted bonus content), it is clear that painstaking efforts were taken in order bring forth the true, rich color.  If De Laurentiis were alive today, he would be just as impressed by this aspect.  In the same vein, every laser blast and every note of rock band Queen’s feature-length soundtrack is expertly balanced, enhancing the viewing experience for audiences even more.  Even a minor touch, such as the ambient sounds of Planet Mongol and its moons get their own attention.  From that production aspect to the noted deep, rich colors and the balance in the music and sound effects, it is clear that painstaking efforts were made in order to offer viewers the best possible presentation once again.  It’s another way in which Arrow Video continues to prove itself one of the leading names in the home media world.  Those efforts also go a long way toward making this presentation so enjoyable for viewers.  It is just one of the most notable aspects of the movie’s new home re-issue, too.  Its bonus content adds even more enjoyment to its presentation.

The bonus content that is featured in Flash Gordon’s latest re-issue is extensive to say the absolute least.  Audiences get two separate feature length audio commentaries, — one from director Mike Hodges and the other from star Brian Blessed (who played Prince Vultan) – a series of interviews with the movie’s cast and crew, two episodes of the Flash Gordon cartoon series, and a vintage “making of” featurette as well as photo galleries from the movie’s creation.  The bonus content alone makes for literally hours of entertainment and engagement.  The vintage making of featurette reveals that creation of the set for Ming’s palace alone took four months.  That and the other sets were so extensive that production had to take place primarily in a six-million cubic foot aircraft hangar.  It was just one of the facilities that was used for the movie’s production.  As director Mike Hodges reveals (off the cuff) during his audio commentary, Elstree Studio was also used.  That is the same studio in which Star Wars was created by George Lucas.  This is especially important to note because it is also revealed in one of the bonus discussions, that George Lucas apparently wanted to make Flash Gordon before Star Wars, but could not afford the rights, so he ended up making Star Wars.  How is that for a little six-degrees of separation?

As if everything already noted here is not enough reason to check out the bonus content, viewers will learn that there apparently was quite a bit of tension behind the scenes during the movie’s creation.  Hodges points out during his commentary that De Laurentiis viewed the movie’s creation in a very serious fashion, even though Allin was extremely displeased with the final product.  The vintage making of featureette does point out that De Laurentiis was himself very much a Flash Gordon “fan boy” prior to producing the movie.  To that point, his “seriousness” was perhaps chalked up to that fandom, even though he might not have thought he was going to such extreme.  There is nothing wrong with his approach, either, since he wanted to pay proper tribute to the original, timeless Flash Gordon comic strip.

Allin, on the other hand, said during the new bonus featurette “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” that he and Roeg wanted to make a serious film in Flash Gordon complete with sociopolitical commentary, but that De Laurentiis wanted to stay true to the original Flash Gordon comic strip, which ran daily from 1934 to ’92.  Its Sunday edition continued until 2003.  The movie does just that with its special effects and its overall look (what with its costumes and sets).  The short and simple here is that Allin and Roeg’s story would have been a good fit among today’s comics based movies (since dark, brooding stories are about all that audiences get nowadays in comics-based movies).  De Laurentiis’ version has remained a cult favorite for four decades meanwhile maybe because of his dedication to its source material.  Regardless of which side viewers take, all of the noted discussions are sure to engage audiences thoroughly and generate plenty of discussion among audiences.  All things considered here (along with the bonus content not directly noted – again the bonus content here in fully immersive) the bonus content featured with Arrow Video’s recent Flash Gordon re-issue more than makes the movie worth owning.  When it is considered with the outstanding production values presented in this re-issue, the two elements together make for so much enjoyment for audiences.  They are still not all of the positives provided in the movie.  The movie’s central story adds even more to that enjoyment.

The story at the center of Flash Gordon is relatively easy to understand.  It starts with Flash and Dale Arden taking a flight somewhere (it’s never pointed out where the pair is going interestingly enough) and ending up crashing in the lab of the mad scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov.  Zarov basically kidnaps the duo and the trio ends up flying into space where they end up rocketing to another galaxy that is ruled by the evil emperor Ming The Merciless.  Along the way Flash unites the peoples of the worlds ruled by Ming, befriending them in the process.  The story has a happy ending, but also leaves the door open for a sequel (which going back to the bonus content, could have happened, but never did).  It has to be assumed in the movie’s story that as the clock reaches zero near the movie’s end, Ming does stop his attack on Earth before his alleged death, though that is never made 100 percent certain.  The only way audiences can assume the Earth is safe comes in the final scene in which Dale tells Flash that she is a New York girl and would rather go home than stay on the planet Mongol.  Next to that note, the only other odd note from the story is centered on all of star Sam J. Jones’ constant costume changes.  It just so happens that everything he wears is Flash Gordon-themed.  It is never fully explained where he gets all of his attire, but oh well.  That aside, the story’s simple approach is very much in line with the original Flash Gordon comic strip.  Yes, comics often do have deep philosophical language, but they are also meant to entertain the masses, and that is what this story does.  It entertains while also presenting at least some philosophy.  To that end, the story succeeds just as much as the movie’s bonus content and its production values.  When all three elements are considered together, they make the movie in whole the best presentation yet of this cult classic flick.

Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Flash Gordon is an applause-worthy presentation that will appeal to a wide ranger of viewers.  That is proven in part through the movie’s production, which fully brings out the deep, rich colors in the sets and costumes.  The same can be said of the movie’s sound, which is so well-balanced in terms of the soundtrack and special effects noises.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s new re-issue will immerse audiences even more in the movie.  From everything noted here to other items, such as the realization that Queen was not the first choice for the movie’s soundtrack, and the note that the movie never got the merchandising push that other movies have gotten over the years, the bonus content adds so much of its own appeal to the movie.  The movie’s simple story does its own part to appeal to audiences with its simple presentation.  All three items noted here are important in their own way to the whole of the movie’s latest re-issue.  All things considered, they make this presentation, the best yet for the movie.

More information on Arrow Video’s Flash Gordon re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/phispicks 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 Rolling Stones’ Latest Live Recording Is As Solid As Steel

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The true greatest rock band in the world returned this week with another new archived live recording.  The band in question is The Rolling Stones and the recording in question is one of its three December 1989 concerts in Atlantic City, NJ in support of its then new album Steel Wheels.  The performance was part of the band’s “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” tour, which was the band’s first American tour since 1981.  The recording is another presentation that will appeal to The Rolling Stones’ fans just as much as rock fans in general just as much as the multitude of previous live recordings.  That count is almost at 20 counting (not counting this recording) if not right at said figure.  The main reason that audiences will appreciate the recording so much is its extensive set list. The list, which runs approximately two-and-a-half hours in length, will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance thereof adds to the enjoyment in its own way.  This will be addressed a little later.  The recording’s production values round put the finishing touch to its presentation.  When it is considered along with the set list and the band’s performance, the elements collectively make the recording another welcome way to beat the live music blues this and any year.

The Rolling Stones’ latest live recording is another fully immersive, enjoyable presentation for the band’s most devoted fans and rock fans in general.  In an age when live music has been relegated to watching concerts online, this offering from the greatest rock band in the world is its own welcome offering and alternative to being glued to a computer or phone screen.  That is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list.  The 28-song set list spans a run time of approximately two-and-a-half hours.  It takes audiences all the way back to 1965 and the band’s fourth album Out Of Our Heads and all the way up to its then most recent album, 1989’s Steel Wheels.  Given, not every album in-between is represented in the set list, but in comparison to the set lists featured in the band’s past live recordings, audiences do get some songs not featured in those presentations.  The band’s five nods to Steel Wheels are themselves works that have rarely if ever been featured in the noted previous live presentations.  The band’s cover of Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’ and its performance of its own single ‘Undercover of the Night’ (from 1983) are in themselves live rarities.  So audiences have all of that to enjoy.  Along with the noted songs, audiences also get more familiar songs, such as ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ and ‘Tumblin’ Dice’ among others.  As if all of that is not enough, the band also pulls ‘2,000 Light Years From Home,’ ‘Happy,’ and ‘Salt of the Earth’ as some semi-rare works from its catalog.  Also making this set list so enjoyable are guest appearances from blues legend John Lee Hooker, who joins the band for a performance of his own hit song ‘Boogie Chillen’ and a guest appearance by fellow blues legend Eric Clapton on that song and ‘Little Red Rooster.’

The set list in itself does a lot to make Steel Wheels Live appealing to audiences.  The set list proves itself even more critical to the recording’s presentation in that it is the exact same in the recording’s DVD, CD, digital and vinyl platforms.  In other words, audiences get the same presentation from one platform to the next.  This is important to note because even today, there are some acts out there whose live recordings vary across platforms.  So to have the same thing from one platform to the next makes the set list that much more important to the recording.

Additionally, the set list’s sequencing plays its own part to the recording’s presentation.  From the show’s opening up until the band takes on ‘Terrifying,’ the show’s energy remains relatively high.  It is not until the noted point that the band pulls things back.  The noted relaxation lasts only momentarily.  After that song and ‘Salt of the Earth,’ which features a guest appearance by Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, the show’s energy picks back up.  Their performance alongside Mick Jagger and company will be addressed a little later.  ‘Honky Tonk Women’ slows things down again, but still manages to keep the concert’s energy flowing solidly thanks to its swagger.  The same can be said of ‘Midnight Rambler,’ too.  That song comes immediately after ‘Honky Tonk Women.’  From that point on, the show’s energy rises and falls in all of the right points and ways, showing without question the amount of time and thought that went into assembling the set list.  That effort paid off, too.  When this aspect is considered along with the set list’s presentation across the recording’s platforms and its breadth and depth, those elements collectively make the set list the most important aspect of this recording.  It builds a solid foundation for the recording’s presentation on which the band’s performance rests easily.

The Rolling Stones’ performance of Steel Wheels Live’s set list is important to note because it does its own part to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  Those audiences who are familiar with the band’s live show style already has an expected standard from the band.  Those audiences will be glad to know that the band lives up to that expectation here just as much as in the band’s past performances.  Front man Mick Jagger is just as confident as ever as he struts his way across the stage and sings.  That swagger is on full display just as much.  Guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood keep the energy moving along with drummer Charlie Watts, the trio’s work just as engaging as ever in its own right.  Wood and Richards’ prowess on their instruments makes one forget the woes of the world, especially as they make their way through the blues classic ‘Little Red Rooster’ alongside Eric Clapton.  The group’s performance is just as solid as it supports Rose and Stradlin in the collective’s performance of ‘Salt of the Earth.’  On a similar note, viewers will be pleased to see that Rose shares the stage with Jagger and company in that performance rather than trying to steal the spotlight.  It shows that he knows he and Stradlin are the guests here, not the stars.  Even when he gets the spotlight in ‘Cant’ Be Seen,’ Richards shows once again, his talent as a performer and not just a guitarist.  He and the band’s longtime backing vocalists make for so much enjoyment and engagement in their own way.  Between that aspect and the rest of the presentation in the concert, the band’s performance in whole makes for a wonderful experience.  It builds on the foundation formed by the show’s set list to make the recording even more enjoyable.  When the two elements are considered together, they give audiences even more reason to take in this concert.  They are still only a portion of what makes the recording so impressive.  Its production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

Just as with all of The Rolling Stones’ past live recordings released through Eagle Rock Entertainment, the production here gives home viewers the best seat in the house.  When the cameras go out beyond the sea of people, audiences get a full picture of just how many people attended the concert, and the sheer immensity of the band’s stage setup.  The on-stage footage immerses audiences into the performance even more as it takes viewers along for the ride up close with the band.  The transitions from shot to shot throughout and the sound enrich the experience even more.  From a more relaxed moment, such as in ‘Sympathy for the Devil to the more fiery cover of ‘Harlem Shuffle’ and everywhere else, the guitars and vocals are so well-balanced with Watts’ time keeping and the work of the band’s fellow musicians.  Each performer gets an equal share of time in the limelight.  Considering that and the smooth camera transitions, no doubt is left about the impact of the concert’s production.  When this is considered along with the band’s performance and the concert’s set list, the whole of these elements makes Steel Wheels Live a presentation that is another welcome addition to The Rolling Stones and Eagle Rock Entertainment’s ongoing series of live recordings from the band.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and The Rolling Stones’ latest live recording Steel Wheels Live is yet another welcome addition to the two sides’ ongoing series of live recordings.  That is proven in part through the recording’s expansive set list.  The set list runs 26 songs deep and spans a run time of two-and-a-half hours.  Given, it is not a career-spanning set even for its time, but does still present a relatively clear cross section of the band’s catalog up to that point.  The band’s performance of the featured set list is everything that audiences have come to expect from The Rolling Stones.  The swagger and the energy is there from beginning to end.  The concert’s production values play their own part to the recording’s presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this presentation.  All things considered, they make the recording as solid as steel.  Steel Wheels Live is available now.

More information on Steel Wheels Live is available along with all of its latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.rollingstones.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/therollingstones

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/RollingStones

 

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s latest news is available online at:

 

Websitehttp://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

To keep up with the latest 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.

‘Scoob!’ Will Leave Audiences Asking Where Is The Real Scooby-Doo

Courtesy: Warner Animation Group/Hanna-Barbera

Scooby-Doo has, for more than forty years, entertained generations of audiences.  From its earliest iteration in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? to the even more kid friendly A Pup Named Scooby-Doo to Be Cool, Scooby-Doo, to all of the Scooby-Doo movies, Hanna-Barbera’s beloved cartoon canine has remained a key part of America’s pop culture, offering so much entertainment.  Even the many straight-to-DVD movies have offered their own value.  Some have proven better than others along the way, of course.  Warner Animation Group’s latest offering Scoob! is among the least memorable and enjoyable of that mass of Scooby-Doo offerings.  Released through streaming in May due to COVID-19 and later to DVD and Blu-ray, this latest addition to the Scooby-Doo franchise offers little if anything to appreciate.  Its story is its most glaring concern and will be addressed shortly.  The general lack of any bonus content with the physical release is its own concern and will be discussed a little later.  The movie’s general animation style detracts from its presentation, too.  All three elements are their own negatives.  When they are combined, they make Scoob! easily one of the absolute worst entries in an otherwise beloved franchise.

Warner Animation Group’s latest addition to Hanna-Barbera’s beloved long-running Scooby-Doo franchise is a failure and a disservice to the legacy that the franchise has created for itself over the decades.  That is due in large part to the movie’s story.  The story at the center of this movie makes the movie come across as little more than a cash grab for Warner Animation Group and Hanna-Barbera.  The basis of the story is this:  Scooby-Doo learns that he is “the key” to infamous HB villain Dick Dastardly opening the gates to the underworld and getting a bunch of treasure.  Getting the treasure also means releasing Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of hell.  When Scooby-Doo learns of his place in history, it creates a strain on his friendship with Shaggy.  Of course, the pair parts ways at one point, but eventually reunite at the story’s finale, with the overlying message about the power of friendship tied into the whole.  That element is so schmaltzy that audiences can’t help but shake their head at that presentation.  Now along the way, WAG and HB use the story as a chance to throw in a bunch of references for other classic HB series, such as Hong Kong Phooey, Captain Caveman and even The Flintstones.  Not to give away too much, but the final skull for which the Mystery Inc. gang is searching is called the Slaghoople by Captain Caveman (voiced awfully here by Tracy Morgan — 30 Rock, the Box Trolls, Cop Out).  For those who don’t know, Wilma Flintstone’s maiden name in The Flintstones is Slaghoople.  Even the inclusion of The Blue Falcon (who as it turns out is not the original Blue Falcon here, but rather the more cowardly son of the original Blue Falcon) is in himself little more than another classic HB reference and foil for the bigger story.  The underlying story with this Blue Falcon is not connected at all to the 2013 movie Mask of the Blue Falcon movie, so really, it just comes across as the people at WAG and HB using this character as a way to play to the nostalgia of long-time Scooby-Doo fans.  Simply put, this movie’s story is really just one big contrived composition that is anything but memorable.

As if everything noted is not enough, this is at least the third time that audiences have been “treated” to an origin story showing how Shaggy, Scooby and the rest of the Mystery Inc. gang met has been told.  Audiences were presented with an origin story of sorts way back in 1989 in an episode of the beloved Scooby-Doo series A Pup Named Scooby Doo.  The story of how Mystery Inc. met was again told in 2009 in the TV movie Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins. According to the story in the noted episode of A Pup Named Scoobby-Doo, Shaggy and Scooby had been pals since they were both much younger (I.E. toddlers).  The pair was relatively young to begin with in the series, with Shaggy and company being middle schoolers.  The story presented in Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins presents a distinctly different story, with Shaggy and company being high school students, and the meeting of Shaggy and Scooby being a chance encounter.  In this situation, the group met as pre-teens, all by chance, too, but in a completely different fashion from that of the past stories.  In other words, it’s beyond tiring getting yet another origin story for Mystery Inc. and the friendship between Shaggy and Scooby.

Between the latest reboot on Mystery Inc.’s origin story, the clearly contrived story itself and the attempt by the movie’s writers to play off of older viewers’ nostalgia in an attempt to fool audiences, the story just fails.  It outright fails, and there is no saving it.  It is just one of the problems from which the movie suffers.  The general lack of any real bonus content detracts from the movie’s presentation, too.  The only actual bonus content featured with the movie’s physical release is a “lesson” so to speak on how to draw Scooby-Doo.  Yes, that is the only bonus content that comes with the movie’s physical release.  There is no audio commentary.  There are no bonus discussions on why the movie’s creative heads even decided to go to the lengths of creating the movie’s story.  Their explanations likely would fall short anyway.  Regardless, the very fact that this little “lesson” is the only extra is more proof of the importance of bonus content to movies and TV shows in their home physical releases.  Some bonus featured can make a bad movie or TV show at least slightly better.  Others, such as this one, do nothing at all.  To that end, it does even more to show why Scoob! should stay on the shelves or unwatched on Netflix and other streaming services.  Staying on the “lesson,” the movie’s animation style is its own detriment to its presentation.

The animation style that is used in Scoob! is full on CGI.  While it does look at least somewhat better than the style used for say Mystery Incorporated and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo (those shows’ animation styles were abhorrent), it still suffers from its own problems.  There is just something about the overall designs and the use of colors that makes the animation style problematic.  It is as if those responsible for the movie’s look tried too hard to make the clearly computer generated presentation look like hand drawn.  The end result is that the movie’s look just looks too spit shined.  Audiences know they are watching a presentation that was created on computers.  It decreases viewers’ ability to suspend their disbelief that much more.  When this is considered along with everything else noted here, they combine to leave zero doubt that Scoob! is unquestionably among the very worst Scooby-Doo properties ever created.

Warner Animation Group’s latest addition to Hanna-Barbera’s beloved Scooby-Doo franchise is a completely forgettable entry in that ongoing series of titles.  There is nothing redeeming about this movie.  Its story attempts (unsuccessfully) to play on older viewers’ nostalgia to cover up its completely contrived nature.  The lack of any real worthwhile bonus content with the movie’s home physical release detracts from its presentation in its own right.  The animation style used in this presentation is a display of animators who tries to hard to make the movie look more like a hand drawn cartoon than a CGI feature.  Each noted item is important in is own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they will leave longtime fans of this franchise agreeing that Scoob! is among the worst entries to date in the otherwise beloved Scooby-Doo franchise.  More information on all things Scooby-Doo is available online at http://www.facebook.com/scoobydoo

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May, Jones Praise The Lonely One’s ‘Flash Gordon Theme/The Hero’ Cover

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

The Lonely Ones’ cover of Queen’s Flash Gordon theme song/’The Hero’ is getting some high praise.

The song, which the band debuted in July has received praise from Queen guitarist Brian May and Flash Gordon himself, Sam J. Jones.  A comment from May on the song was released Wednesday, noting of The Lonely Ones’ cover, “What a fantastic cover! I didn’t realize they were going to go into The Hero and the whole reprise…magnificent!”

Jones also praised the band’s cover.

“This is one of the best covers I have ever heard and seen,” he said. “What a gifted group – The Lonely Ones are for everyone of us, from the 1980’s to right now!”

The band’s take on the song pays full tribute to Queen’s version of the classic work.  The Lonely Ones’ rendition is longer than that of Queen, with the original clocking in at just under three minutes and the cover coming in at five-and-a-half-minutes.  Even with that in mind, the band’s cover is still very much in line with Queen’s original work.

The band talked about its take on the song in a collective statement.

“We recorded Flash in 2019 – a pretty dark year for the four of us on all fronts,” the statement reads. Our original musical output reflected that darkness, so recording a cartoonishly triumphant, heroic cover song seemed like a good counter-balance. Fast forward to spring 2020 and the impending COVID-19 Stay at Home order. With limited time and help from some fans we got our friends together to film a music video while we were still able. It’s July now and, with the future more unclear than ever, it seems like the perfect time to release the most positive song we have.  I hope you enjoy it. “Flash/The Hero. A Queen Cover.”

The Lonely Ones’ cover of the Flash Gordon theme song/’The Hero’ is available to stream and download here.

 

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group

The debut of The Lonely Ones’ cover of the song came less than a month ahead of the Blu-ray and 4KUHD re-issue of the classic movie Flash Gordon.  Arrow Video re-issued the movie on the noted platforms last month.  The debuts are not connected, however.

The new re-issue features a companion booklet with new liner notes on the movie penned by a variety of film critics and historians; separate feature length audio commentaries by Mike Hodges and Brian Blessed; cast interviews; a behind-the-scenes making of featurette; archival interview with Mike Hodges, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and comic book artist Alex Ross as well as much more.

More information on The Lonely Ones’ cover of ‘Flash Gordon’/’The Hero’ is available along with all of the band’s latest news at The Lonely Ones’ official Facebook page.

More information on Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue of Flash Gordon is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

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Kurt Baker Debuts ‘Over You’ Video

Courtesy: Wicked Cool records

Independent singer-songwriter Kurt Baker debuted the video for his latest single this week.

Baker debuted the video for his single ‘Over You‘ Monday.  The video features Baker performing his new single on what is meant to look like a TV studio presentation of days long gone.  Meanwhile a woman talks to a man on a phone.

The phone conversation scenes were explained by Baker in a recent interview with American Songwriter about the video’s creation.

“The first single and video from my new album is the track ‘Over You’, and I’m really excited about how it came out,” he said. “I worked with a very talented director here in Madrid named Trash Diamond, who is well known for his great visual aesthetic, which in this case fits the song perfectly. It’s a vintage 1980’s telethon that reaches chaotic proportions when an anti-rock n’ roller wants to see it all go haywire. Big rock n roll riffs with lots of explosions! Woohoo!”

Baker debuted ‘Over You‘ by itself Sept. 3. The song is featured in Baker’s forthcoming album After Party, which is scheduled for release Oct. 23 through Wicked Cool Records.  Pre-saves/Pre-adds for After Party are open.

The song’s poppy musical arrangement features a distinct 80s rock influence that lends itself to comparisons to songs from the J. Geils Band and other similar acts.  That is evidenced through Baker’s vocal performance, the song’s guitar work and the use of the keyboards. The song’s lyrical theme centers on the oft-used topic of relationships.  That along with the song’s infectious musical arrangement makes the song accessible to a wide range of listeners.

More information on Kurt Baker’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.kurtbaker.me

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/KurtBakerMusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Kurtmiltonbaker

 

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Eagle Rock Entertainment’s New Ronnie Wood Documentary Makes Its Virtual Debut This Weekend

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new Ronnie Wood documentary debuts Friday.

Somebody Up There Likes Me is scheduled for digital release Sept. 18 and on Oct. 9 on DVD, Blu-ray and limited edition deluxe hardback book.  Pre-orders for the bio’s physical release are open now.

Tickets for the bio’s streaming premiere are $11. They are available here.  Audiences who purchase a ticket to the Sept. 18 streaming premiere will also get to take part in a question and answer session with Wood and the biography’s director, Mike Figgis.

Wood’s story — which was an official selection of the 2019 BFI London Film Festival and 2020 Tribeca Film Festival — is told in his new biography through interviews with himself, his band mates in The Rolling Stones — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts — as well as his Faces band mate, Rod Stewart, Wood’s wife Sally, singer Imelda May, and artist Damien Hirst.

Along with the interviews, the bio also features intimate performances by Wood, an video of Wood at work in his own home art studio.  The whole thing reaches its peak with a performance of ‘Breathe On Me’ by Wood from his 1975 solo album New Look.

The trailer for Wood’s new bio is streaming here.

More information on Somebody Up There Likes Me is available along with all of Ronnie Wood’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.ronniewood.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/officialronnie

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ronniewood

 

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Anti-Flag To Premiere Career Retrospective Documentary Next Month

Courtesy: Turnstyle Films

Veteran punk rock band Anti-Flag will release its new documentary next month.

The band is scheduled to debut documentary Beyond BarricadesThe Story of Anti-Flag Oct. 3 through Veeps.  The 90-minute documentary will be presented by Alternative Press magazine.

Tickets for the live streaming documentary presentation are available here.  the doc’s trailer is streaming here.

Front man Justin Sane discussed the documentary in a recent interview.

“It’s hard to sum up the life of a band in an hour and a half,” he said.  “We started Anti-Flag out of a passion for punk rock with the belief that punk music had the power to change people’s lives and have a positive impact on the world. With this documentary, we hope people will see that while life may not be as straight forward as that idealistic philosophy, it isn’t so far from the truth either. Regardless of what others take from this film, for us the experience of looking back on the history of Anti-Flag – sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes unbelievable – leaves us grateful to have had the opportunity to live a very rare and at times extraordinary life as part of this punk rock band.”

Directed by Jon Nix, the band’s new retrospective follows the now 25-year story of Anti-Flag.  Helping tell the group’s story are fellow famed musicians, such as Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave), Billy Bragg, Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Brian Baker (Bad Religion), Chris Creswell (The Flatliners, Hot Water Music), Tom May, and Greg Barnett (The Menzingers).

Beyond BarricadesThe Story of Anti-Flag was produced by Turnstyle Films and Executive Producer Matthew Chojnacki (ScreamQueen! My Nightmare on Elm Street30 Years of GarbageThe Garbage Pail Kids Story).

More information on Anti-Flag’s upcoming documentary premiere is available along with all of Anti-Flag’s latest news and more at:

 

Websitehttp://www.anti-flag.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ant.flag.official

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/anti_flag

 

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Joe Bonamassa Featured In New Episode Of ‘GibsonTV’; Bonamassa To Hold Live Stream Concert Sept. 20

Courtesy: Prime PR Group

Bluesman Joe Bonamassa is keeping himself in the headlines.

The famed blues singer/songwriter/guitarist appeared this week on GibsonTV’s series The Collection.  Bonamassa’s appearance featured him discussing his collection of vintage guitars.  This latest episode is streaming here.

Audiences can watch even more episodes of The Collection by subscribing to GibsonTV.

Said GibsonTV host Mark Agnesi of Bonamassa and his collection,

“Joe’s commitment to preserving the history of these instruments and sharing their stories is a testament to his love for everything about the guitar.  His passion is contagious, and he is an amazing ambassador for the instrument.”

Bonamassa’s appearance on GibsonTV is just one way in which he is keeping his name in the headlines.  He is scheduled to hold a live stream concert at 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 20 in support of his newly released album Royal Tea.  The ticketed event will stream live from the famed Ryman Auditorium.

Tickets are available here.  A portion of proceeds from ticket sales for the concert will benefit the Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation for Bonamassa’s Fueling Musicians Program.  The program helps assist musicians who were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information on Redemption is available online now along with all of Joe Bonamassa’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.jbonamassa.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/JoeBonamassa

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/BONAMASSA

 

 

 

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Craft Recordings Announces Release Date For ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Soundtrack Vinyl Re-Issue

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

The soundtrack to the timeless holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas is getting the re-issue treatment again.

Craft Recordings is scheduled to re-issue to soundtrack on vinyl on Sept. 25.  The re-issue — at least the seventh for the soundtrack since its original release in 1965 — is meant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the debut of Good Ol’ Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang.  Its first re-issue was in 1986 on CD and its most recent was in 2012, with other re-issues coming in 2010, 2009, 2006, and 1988.

The forthcoming vinyl re-issue of A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ soundtrack stands out from its predecessor primarily because it will feature a limited edition lenticular cover art. That means it looks like Charlie Brown and company look like they are dancing around the Christmas tree when the LP’s cover is moved.

The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas was certified 4X Platinum in 2016 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  It is one of the best-seeling jazz records of all time, second only to Miles Davis’ timeless album Kind of Blue.

Pre-orders for Craft Recordings’ forth coming re-issue of A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack are open.  The soundtrack’s track listing is noted below.

Track List:

 

Side A

  1. O Tannenbaum
  2. What Child Is This
  3. My Little Drum
  4. Linus & Lucy
  5. Christmas Time Is Here (instrumental)

 

Side B

  1. Christmas Time Is Here (vocal)
  2. Skating
  3. Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
  4. Christmas Is Coming
  5. Für Elise
  6. The Christmas Song
  7. Greensleeves

** Craft Recordings’ forthcoming vinyl re-issue of the soundtrack does not feature the bonus tracks ‘Great Pumpkin Waltz’ and ‘Thanksgiving Theme’ that were featured on the soundtrack’s 2012 CD re-issue.

 

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available at:

 

Website: http://CraftRecordings.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/craftrecordings

 

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.