‘The Major & The Minor’ BD Re-Issue Survives Because Of Its Bonus Content

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group/Paramount Pictures

December 24, 2019 marks 77 years since famed director Billy Wilder’s domestic directorial debut made its own theatrical debut.  The movie, The Major and the Minor, starred Ray Milland (The Uninvited, Dial M For Murder, The Lost Weekend) and Ginger Rogers (Kitty Foyle, Tom, Dick and Harry, Monkey Business) in a story that places Rogers’ character Susan Applegate into a rather precarious situation when she meets Miland’s Major Philip Kirby.  In the decades since its debut, the classic romantic comedy has garnered praise from critics and audiences alike, even receiving a perfect 100% tomato meter rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  For all of its success, the movie has only received a handful of home releases.  Now it has gotten new life on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group on Blu-ray.  This new re-issue is the first time since 2008 that the movie has received an official release and the first time ever that it has seen release on Blu-ray.  It gives audiences quite a bit of reason to applaud beginning with its bonus content. It is rare that this critic will point out a new release’s bonus content as its most important element, but this release is one of those rare cases in which its bonus content is just that.  It will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content makes the movie’s story more engaging and entertaining than it would have been sans said content.  To that end, the movie’s story is its own important part of the Blu-ray.  When it is considered along with the Blu-ray’s bonus content, they make the Blu-ray’s average price point relatively affordable.  This will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the Blu-ray.  All things considered, this latest release of The Major & The Minor one more of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and The Minor is a positive new presentation for the classic Paramount Pictures romantic comedy.  It is a good way for the companies to celebrate the movie’s upcoming 77th anniversary.  That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with the movie’s new re-issue.  Featured in the re-issue as extras are: a feature-length audio commentary from film scholar Adrian Martin, a half-hour retrospective on the movie’s history courtesy of film critic Neil Sinyard, and a full-hour-long radio presentation of the movie that features famed filimmaker Cecil B. DeMille. The audio commentary and retrospective are the most important of the bonus items as they provide, collectively, an in-depth history of the movie and its story.  Martin and Sinyard both point out the symbolism of Pamela and Susan as point and counterpoint in the discussions on whether the U.S. should get involved in World War II.  Each man also makes note of the issue of Major Kirby’s conflicted feelings toward Susan and the risqué nature of those conflicted feelings.  That in itself adds a lot to the story.  Also of note that each man discusses, is Wilder’s use of disguise and deception among characters in the story, and how it would go on to become a trademark of his directorial style.  On a related note, Martin also takes time to talk about items, such as character placement and lighting within given scenes.  As if all of this is not enough, Sinyard also discusses how the movie satirizes the military and the timing of the movie’s creation and release in connection to America’s entry into World War II.  Since Martin’s commentary is featured as part of the movie itself, Sinyard’s retrospective is recommended for viewing ahead of watching the movie.  It gives the movie’s story a completely different identity than it would have had sans all of that background.  Martin’s background adds even more after having watched the movie.

The background that Martin and Sinyard provide for The Major and the Minor are clear examples of the importance of bonus content to DVDs and Blu-rays.  They show how bonus content can easily make or break a DVD/BD’s presentation.  For all that they do for the movie’s presentation here, the bonus radio version of The Major and the Minor is notable in its own right.  That is because of its nostalgic value.  The broadcast features Rogers and Milland, as well as appearances by famed director Cecil B. DeMille.  DeMille provides introductions to each of the play’s acts.  The transfer from the original tapes to this presentation featured no loss at all, so there is no need to adjust the volume at any point throughout the program.  What’s more, the static from that original broadcast is there, too.  Simply put, this is another example of how possible it is to transfer vintage to modern technology without any loss.  This could lead to discussions on whether there really is a place for vinyl today, despite the view of so many hipsters.  It is possible to transfer vinyls to CDs without loss, too.  Getting back to the subject at hand, that clean transfer from the original tapes to Blu-ray creates its own wonderful experience.  What’s more, there are some minor changes between the screenplay and the radio play, but those changes were clearly necessary because certain elements obviously did not translate well from the screen to the radio.  Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus radio performance of The Major and the Minor proves just as enjoyable as the big screen version.  In turn, it makes the bonus radio presentation just as worthwhile as the bonus commentaries from Martin and Sinyard.  Collectively, those commentaries and the bonus radio play create a strong foundation for the Blu-ray that cinephiles across the board will appreciate.

The bonus content featured with the recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and the Minor is key to the re-issue’s presentation, because of the strong foundation that they form for said showing.  If not for that content, the movie would be anything but interesting.  Keeping the bonus commentaries from Sinyard and Martin in mind while watching the movie, they make the movie’s story quite an interesting work and actually believable.    Maj. Kirby’s bad eye helps with suspension of disbelief in terms of how he fell for Susan’s act.  On another level, the understanding of Susan and Pamela more as symbols of a deep topic makes them even more valuable to the story, and not just the standard romantic rivals that are so overly common in every rom-com.  What’s more, the issue of how Susan was treated by the men throughout the movie will appeal to female viewers – again in understanding Sinyard and Martin’s commentary.  It makes Susan that much more of a sympathetic character, even without the note of her as a symbol for the noted political discussions.  The bonus commentaries also help to explain why Pamela’s sister was the only person who didn’t fall for Susan’s ploy.  It helps to make believable the blindness of the cadets and the adults who fell for her deception.  The end result of those understandings makes the story something truly in-depth and entertaining all in one.  Keeping that in mind, the story becomes far more watchable than it would have been without the commentaries, again showing the importance of the movie’s bonus content.

The entertainment and engagement offered through The Major and The Minor’s story – thanks to the Blu-ray’s bonus content – goes a long way toward making this re-issue a worthwhile watch for cinephiles everywhere.  Being that the bonus content and story work so well together, they make the movie’s average price point just as appealing to audiences in its own way.  The movie’s average price point is $31.25.  That price is reached by averaging prices at MVD Entertainment Group’s store, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  The least expensive listing for the Blu-ray is at Amazon, Walmart and Target, at $27.49.  The most expensive listing is at MVD’s store and at Books-A-Million’s store, at $39.95.  Best Buy lists the Blu-ray at $27.99, only slightly more expensive than the price listed at Amazon, Walmart and Target.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers lists the Blu-ray at $28.39.  Paying almost $40 is a little bit overpriced for this Blu-ray even keeping in mind the importance of the expansive, in-depth bonus content and its role in the enjoyment of the movie’s story.  On the other hand, $27.49 is actually relatively affordable, considering that Arrow Video’s releases are imports.  Arrow Video is based in the United Kingdom.  If the release were from a U.S. company, that might be a bit overpriced, but considering it is an import, it is about average, price-wise and worth the least expensive listing.  No matter which retailer consumers choose, the reality is that Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group will still receive a portion of those sales, so they are not going to lose out if consumers opt to buy the Blu-ray from Amazon, Walmart or Target.  Keeping that in mind the average price listing for this Blu-ray is largely a positive, and together with its content, makes the Blu-ray a presentation that cinephiles and classic movie buffs alike will appreciate.

MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and the Minor is a positive presentation from the companies that proves widely appealing.  That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with the re-issue.  That content makes the movie’s otherwise run-of-the-mill rom-com story far more interesting than it would have been without said content.  The bonus content and story make the import’s average price point relatively affordable and worth paying in the end.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make The Major and the Minor appealing for classic movie buffs and cinephiles alike.  The Major and the Minor is available now.  More information this and other titles from Arrow Video is available online 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 at:

 

 

 

Website: http://mvdentertainment.com

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The Appeal For ‘The Andromeda Strain’ BD Re-Issue Will Spread Like A Virus Among Audiences

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group/Universal Pictures

Michael Crichton was one of the greatest literary minds of his time during his life.  He was, for all intents and purposes, the second coming of Jules Verne.  That is because his novels, like those of Verne, told stories that were so far ahead of their time.  Jurassic Park, for instance was not so much about a bunch of dinosaurs living on an island, but rather the issue of cloning before it become a major topic for scientists and news agencies to talk about daily.  Now it is everywhere.  Next focused on genetics and government control thereof before the news ever picked up on the issues, such as drug companies using people’s blood types to control the drug industry and people being able to pick the gender of their babies with their doctors.  In The Andromeda Strain, one of his earliest works, Crichton addressed the issue of germ warfare and the issue of what constitutes “intelligent” life from other worlds other than our own.  That book was adapted to the silver screen in 1971, and subsequently released (and re-issued multiple times) to home viewers.  Early last month, Arrow Video re-issued the movie again, this time on Blu-ray, resurrecting the chilling plague outbreak story for a whole new generation of sci-fi and horror fans.  The noted audiences are certain to appreciate the noted story, which forms the foundation of the movie.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s latest re-issue adds even more to its presentation.  The companion booklet that is also featured with the movie’s re-issue is yet another positive touch to its overall presentation.  Each item noted here plays its own key part in the whole of The Andromeda Strain.  They certainly are not the only key elements that one can examine.  One could also examine additional items, such as the movie’s cinematography, its casting and even the work of the movie’s cast by relation.  All things considered, they make The Andromeda Strain an welcome addition to the home library of any science fiction (and more specifically Michael Crichton) fan.

Plague outbreak stories seem to be a favorite go-to for Hollywood’s major studios.  From the likes of The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Masque of the Red Death (1989) and Outbreak (1995) to the likes of And The Band Played On (1993), 12 Monkeys (1995) and The Andromeda Strain (1971) and so many others, Hollywood’s major studios seem to love stories about plagues.  To that end, it makes sense that early last month, the latter of the noted group of movies – The Andromeda Strain – would re-issue that movie.  Released June 4, it was re-issued this time on Blu-ray.  Fans of the outbreak genre, fans of Michael Crichton’s works and sci-fi fans in general have plenty to appreciate in this latest re-issue, starting with the movie’s story. The story at the center of The Andromeda Strain follows a group of scientists that is working to contain a space-borne virus brought back to Earth on a satellite that mysteriously crashed to Earth in a quiet town in the American Southwest.  As the story progresses, it is eventually discovered — not to give away too much — that the virus being aboard the satellite might not have been quite as coincidental as originally thought.  The antidote (of sorts) is eventually discovered, thanks to two lone survivors from the town – an old man and a baby.  The story in whole harkens back to the sci-fi flicks of the 1950s and 60s turned out by Universal Pictures, whose stories centered on the military’s atomic testing leading to all kinds of problems for mankind.  Again, not to give away too much, but there is a very close similarity between those stories and this work.  It is also addressed in the bonus features included in The Andromeda Strain’s bonus material.  That will be addressed a little later.  Keeping that in mind, this story will appeal to a wide range of viewers, even despite its pacing issues.

It becomes clear through everything  noted so far, that the story at the center of The Andromeda Strain builds a strong foundation for Arrow Video’s recent re-issue of the movie.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s recent re-issue strengthens that foundation even more.  That is because this re-issue features some previously presented bonus content and some new material in one setting.  Among the most notable of the new bonus content is the discussion by critic Kim Newman.  Newman discusses in his commentary, The Andromeda Strain’s place in the bigger picture of the plague/virus outbreak genre, citing the movies already cited in this review, and others.  Newman’s discussion might not seem like much  on the surface, but in the bigger picture, the roughly 10-minute presentation brings new light to the fact that said genre is in fact so expansive.  The previously presented “making off” featurette, which was featured in the movie’s 2001 re-issue, is another notable addition to this re-issue.  That is because some viewers have not previously seen this featurette while others perhaps have not seen it in a long time and forgotten what was discussed in the mini-doc.  Audiences get discussions here on topics, such as the then groundbreaking special effects used in the movie, the deliberate choice of cast members who were not at the time, well-known  and the faux bibliography featured in The Andromeda Strain and its connection to it cinematic adaptation.  That discussion, with the movie’s script writer Nelson Gidding, makes for its own share of insight and entertainment.  There are also vintage interview segments with Crichton himself featured within the “making of” documentary in which he talks about his connection between his medical education and the book.  Those discussions are expanded even more in yet another of the movie’s key features, “A Portrait of Michael Crichton.”  The late, great author talks in this presentation, about his decision to author his original novels under a fake name and why he decided on going to medical school first among other topics.  As if everything in this and the other noted featurettes is not enough, the new feature-length audio commentary will entertain and engage viewers just as much if not even more than those featurettes.  All things considered here, the bonus content – new and old alike – does just as much to keep viewers engaged and entertained as the story at the center of The Andromeda Strain.  The two elements together are just part of what makes this latest re-issue of the classic sci-fi flick such a welcome addition to audiences’ home movie libraries.  The companion booklet that is featured as yet another extra with this re-issue is notable in its own right to the movie’s whole.

The companion booklet that comes with  the latest re-issue of The Andromeda Strain adds its own touch to the movie’s presentation, as its liner notes – penned by author Peter Tonguette – discuss not only the movie’s place in the grand scheme of the cinematic universe, but also that of its director, Robert Wise.  Tonguette states in his notes, that Wise and the movie both deserve far more credit than they have been given.  He notes Wise’s work on so many b-flicks prior to helming The Andromeda Strain as a big part of the reason that Wise has never gotten the credit that he believes the director has deserved.  Additionally, Tonguette discusses Wise’s approach to the Andromeda, crediting that approach for items, such as the dialogue and effect of the cinematography.  Along with Tonguette’s brief, but concise discussion on Wise’s work on The Andromeda Strain, the companion booklet also offers a starting point for discussions on the movie within the context of a film appreciation class, clearly outlining a set series of discussion topics; topics such as the nature of the deaths in Piedmont, the President’s decision whether to drop an atomic bomb on Piedmont, and the impact of the virus’ mutation.  There are also focuses on items, such as recent real life scientific breakthroughs in comparison to the topics discussed in the movie, whether The Andromeda Strain is in fact science fiction or science fact, and Werner Von Braun’s statement decades prior about the very topic on which Crichton centered his book.  Even more interesting is that all of these discussion topics were featured in a 1971 educational guide sent to schools nationwide to help promote the movie.  That guide is still just as relevant today as it was in 1971.  To that end, it is another key addition to the companion booklet included with this latest re-issue of The Andromeda Strain.  Keeping this in mind, the vast expanse of content (and the depth thereof) within the booklet proves to be just as important to the re-issue’s presentation as the bonus content and the story itself.  When all three elements are considered together, they make The Andromeda Strain a movie that, again, sci-fi fans will appreciate just as much as fans of Michael Crichton and those of the plague/virus outbreak genre.

Arrow Video’s re-issue of Universal Pictures’ The Andromeda Strain is a strong new offering for fans of Hollywood’s plague/virus outbreak genre just as much as for fans of Michael Crichton and of science fiction in general.  That is due in part to the movie’s central story.  While maybe not the first movie of its kind when it was originally released in 1971, its story is one that still rings true for audiences to this day.  It is far more believable than most other movies within its realm.  The bonus content that is featured with the movie’s recent re-issue adds even more engagement and entertainment to the re-issue’s presentation.  That is because the content balances new and old for viewers of all ages.  The companion booklet that also come with the re-issue adds even more interest to the re-issue.  Each item noted in this review is important in its own way to the whole of The Andromeda Strain.  All things considered, they make this re-issue a work that is one more of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.arrowfilms.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

 

 

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Arrow Academy Hits Another Bullseye With Its Re-Issue Of ‘The Apartment’

Courtesy: Arrow Academy/Arrow Films/Arrow Video

Romantic comedies, dramas and dramedies nowadays are not exactly the cream of the crop. From one to the next, they center on the boy meets girl-loses her-gets her back in the end storyline with far too many similarities from one to the next. Even the execution of the stories far too often mirror one another, even while some movies are more light-hearted than others and vice versa. Keeping that in mind, having an original entry in that field come along is always welcome. Enter United Artists’ 1960 dramedy The Apartment. Starring a laundry list of now famed actors including Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston and others, this heartfelt romantic dramedy is a true classic that every classic film buff should own, especially in its new re-issue from Arrow Academy. The movie’s limited edition re-issue is a must have in part because it is a brand new opportunity to experience a story that is just as relevant today as it was more than 50 years ago when it originally premiered. This will be discussed shortly. Lead star Jack Lemmon’s work on camera also makes the movie so entertaining. It will be discussed later. The bonus material included in this new re-issue rounds out the most important of its elements. Each item is important in its own way to the movie’s presentation, as will be explained through this review. All things considered, they make Arrow Academy’s recent re-issue of The Apartment more proof that re-issues are just as valuable for movie lovers as the prequels, sequels, reboots and over-the-top biopics that flood theaters today.

Arrow Academy’s recently released re-issue of United Artists’ 1960 Jack Lemmon romantic dramedy The Apartment is a must have for any true classic movie buff. It is one more example of why re-issues are just as important as viewing options as the prequels, sequels, reboots and over-the-top biopics that flood theaters today. That is proven in part through the story at the center of the movie. The story centers on Lemmon’s character, C.C. Baxter as he tries to work his way up the corporate ladder by letting his superiors use his apartment for their illicit romantic trysts. As he proceeds, he eventually grows as a person and finally grows a spine, standing up to them (specifically to J.D. Sheldrake–played by Fred MacMurray (The Absent Minded Professor, Son of Flubber) ) and making his own way. To that end, it is a classic underdog story. Here is a man who just wants to make it, but has had to sacrifice his own dignity in order to do so. When he finally stands up to Sheldrake, He finally comes out on top, just in an unexpected fashion. That unexpected ending is another part of what makes the story so interesting. It won’t be revealed here, for the sake of those who haven’t yet seen the movie.

While it is, at its heart, a warm, entertaining underdog story, it is also a statement about corporate America; a statement that the culture that has for so long been accepted within that world, must change. As is noted in the bonus commentary (which will be discussed later), this is critical because this movie came along during the age of McCarthyism, yet still didn’t land director and co-writer Billy Wilder on Hollywood’s black list. Considering the ongoing discussions about the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements going on right now, this element of the story becomes that much more critical to its whole. It makes even more so, the story overall just as relevant today as it was in its 1960 premiere (nearly 60 years ago). That is a very telling statement. When this element is coupled with the story’s more heartfelt, fun underdog story, the whole of those elements make the overall story a tale that insures audiences’ entertainment and engagement from beginning to end. Of course, the story is only one key part of what makes this movie so entertaining so many decades after its original premiere. Lead star Jack Lemmon’s work on camera plays its own critical part here, too.

Lemmon’s work is so important to note in examining this movie because it is so entertaining in its own right. This movie, as audiences learn in the bonus content, was only the second time that Lemmon and Wilder had worked together. The first time was only a year prior in 1959’s Some Like It Hot. Audiences see a lot of similarity in his portrayal of Baxter to that of Jerry (from the prior flick). In the same breath, one can also argue that Lemmon’s take on Baxter here also could be where he got the inspiration for Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, which interestingly would not come along for another eight years after The Apartment. A close side-by-side comparison of those portrayals would seem to hint at that considering Baxter’s at times semi neurotic behavior. The general sympathetic, underdog persona adds to the strength of that comparison. Of course, as audiences learn in the bonus material (again, this will be discussed later), this was nothing new for Lemmon by this time. To that end, maybe Felix’s character wasn’t influenced by Baxter, but it’s interesting to consider the similarities regardless. Either way, Lemmon’s take on Baxter is so entertaining that audiences will agree it is just as much of a strong point in this movie’s presentation as the story itself. It is of course still not the last of the movie’s most important elements. The bonus material that is included with the movie’s new re-issue rounds out the most important of its elements.

The bonus material included in the movie’s re-issue is extensive to say the very least. There is an archived one-on-one interview with Wilder from the Film Writers Guild in which Wilder talks film theory and how it related to how he helmed The Apartment. It comes complete with an audio introduction from Lemmon. Also included in the bonus material is an interview with Hope Holiday, who played Margie McDougall in which she shares her story of how she actually ended up in the movie almost by chance. The tears of joy that Holiday sheds as she shares her story make the story all the more engaging. That is because they are clearly not crocodile tears. She really is so thankful to have been able to have been in the movie. As if all of this isn’t enough, the bonus feature-length commentary reveals its own share of interesting information. For example, audiences learn through that commentary that Fred MacMurray was not the original actor who portrayed Sheldrake. As a matter of fact, it turns out that he was under contract to Disney when he was called to replace the original actor who played Sheldrake, and was not exactly in favor of playing a character such as Sheldrake because of the characters he was playing for Disney. Obviously he ended up being convinced to play Sheldrake, and the rest (as the adage states) is history. The commentary also reveals that the scene in which Baxter had a cold was very real. He in fact had a cold when the scene in question was filmed. There is also discussion on the anti-capitalist themes presented in the movie and how Wilder and co-writer I.A.L. Diamond surprisingly got away with putting them into the movie without being black listed. This adds its own insight into the movie. Between all of this, the commentary about Wilder’s distaste for television (and the contradiction thereof since he hired a bunch of television actors for his leads), and so much more, it becomes wholly clear why the bonus material included in The Apartment‘s new re-issue is so critical to its overall presentation. It adds just as much — if not more — to the re-issue’s presentation as the movie’s story and Lemmon’s acting. When all three of those elements are considered together, they make this movie a work that should be in any true classic movie buff’s movie library, and a work that shows once more that re-issues are just as important for audiences as all of the prequels, sequels, reboots and biopics out there today.

Arrow Academy’s recent re-issue of The Apartment is a presentation that belongs in the home library of any true classic movie buff. That is because it is a re-issue done right. From the movie’s look and sound to its very story alongside Lemmon’s acting to the bonus material included this time, there is so much done right here. All things considered, this re-issue shows that re-issues are just as important as viewing options for audiences as the new theatrical offerings out there today. It is available now and can be ordered online direct via Arrow Academy’s online store. More information on The Apartment and other titles from Arrow Academy is available online now at:

Website: http://arrowfilms.com

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Arrow Films Hits Another Bulls Eye With ‘Killer Tomatoes’ Sequel Re-Issue

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Visual

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Visual

It is hard to believe but nearly thirty years have passed since the indie spoof flick Return of the Killer Tomatoes was originally released by KT Entertainment and New World Pictures.  More specifically 28 years have passed since its original release.  And at last check roughly eight years have passed since the cult classic was released on DVD.  That release was via independent studio Anchor Bay Entertainment.  Now thanks to another independent studio—Arrow Films—it has received its first Blu-ray treatment.  Released on June 28th, the movie’s new Special Edition Blu-ray presentation is another must have for any true movie buff.  That is due in part to the movie’s writing, which includes not just its story but its smaller items, too.  This will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its writing.  The bonus material included in the movie’s new Special Edition Blu-ray platform rounds out the movie’s most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the movie’s presentation.  Together, they make this new re-issue one of the year’s only truly welcome sequel even being a previously released movie.  It is again, one more absolute must have for any true movie buff.

Arrow Films’ new re-issue of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is an absolute must have for any true movie buff.  It is also one of 2016’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is due in part to the movie’s writing.  This includes both the movie’s story and the script’s smaller details (E.g. dialogue, story-telling, etc.).  In an age when sequels are churned out just for the sake of being churned out, very few of said offerings offer anything substantial for audiences.  This sequel however is the exact opposite.  It is a full-on nonsensical story that takes every opportunity to entertain audiences.  It sees the evil Professor Gangreen (John Astin—The Addams Family, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Recess)  crafting a new way to use tomatoes to take over the world.  This time he has found a way to turn tomatoes into humans and vice versa using toxic waste, music, and a special chamber.  When Tara, (Karen M. Waldron—Space Cowboys, The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Coach) one of Professor Gangreen’s tomato/human hybrids runs away from his mansion with her furry tomato friend “FT” the story is eventually set in motion.  She tries to hide her true identity from boyfriend Chad Finletter (Anthony Starke—Prison Break, The Magnificent Seven, The George Carlin Show) things begun to unravel, leading to lots of trouble.  Of course the story does have a happy ending.  Even greater about the whole story is that despite its title there are never any killer tomatoes in the movie.  The whole movie centers on Professor Gangreen’s attempt to turn tomatoes into humans and Chad’s eventual plan to stop Gangreen’s plan.  It makes the movie’s title that much funnier in hindsight.  The story and title are just a portion of what makes the movie’s writing so important to note here.  The smaller details of the movie’s script are just as important to note as its story in examining the importance of the movie’s writing.

The story at the center of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is undeniably important to note in examining the movie’s writing.  It is just as important to the movie’s overall presentation as to just the writing.  It is only one part of the movie’s writing that should be considered, though.  The scripts smaller details are just as important to note in examining its importance as its story.  One of the most notable of those details is the story’s constant, deliberate breaking down of the fourth wall.  Sometimes it is overly blatant, which makes for plenty of laughs.  At other times it is a little bit more subtle but still just as deliberate.  This still makes for its own share of laughs, too.  One of the funniest of those overtly deliberate moments comes late in the movie as the “director” stops the filming and claims that there is no more money to film the movie.  This leads lead star George Clooney (yes, that George Clooney) tells everyone that they should consider using product placement, since, after all, it is the 80s.  His delivery in this moment is one of the examples of what makes the cast’s work so entertaining.  It will be discussed later.  The very fact that the movie’s writing team would so openly make a joke about product placement in movies, and then proceed to use said practice as its own joke within the story is absolutely hilarious.  It is just one example of the importance of the script’s smaller elements in its overall presentation.  Igor’s (Steve Lundquist—Earth Girls Are Easy, Killer Tomatoes Eat France, Killer Tomatoes Strike Back) aspiration to be a newsman is another example of the importance of the script’s smaller details.

That the movie consistently lets audiences know that they are watching a movie by breaking that fourth wall is an important piece of the movie script.  It is a smaller detail within the movie’s writing.  But it does so much to entertain audiences and advance the story.  That is because neither the writers nor the cast take themselves the least bit seriously at any moment in which this happens.  Igor’s drive to become a newsman all while being Gangreen’s oafish henchman is another of those small yet so entertaining elements of the script.  He is so set on being a newsman that (as is revealed later in the movie) his room in Gangreen’s mansion is a virtual shrine to some of the most well-known news broadcasters of the time.  There is even a picture of one of those figures surrounded by candles, as if it was an altar to her.  As if that isn’t enough, he even drives around in a garbage truck with the sign of a news station that he has made up himself.  Speaking of the news, the writers also poke fun at the news media in the bigger picture of the story.  This is yet another of the script’s smaller yet still so entertaining elements.

The blatant breaking of the fourth wall throughout Return of the Killer Tomatoes and the character depiction of Igor are two smaller yet still entertaining elements of the movie’s script.  They are just as important in examining the importance of the movie’s writing as the movie’s story.  They are hardly the only important details to note in examining the importance of the movie’s writing.  The writers’ poke at the news media is just as notable as the previously noted elements.  Time and again, the writers poke fun at the broadcast news media showing its willingness to do whatever it takes to get people to watch.  The sad reality is that this depiction is actually quite accurate even today.  Sure there’s a certain amount of embellishment in at least one scene.  But in the bigger picture of that depiction, it is pretty spot on even now nearly thirty years after this movie originally premiered.  Considering this it makes this element even funnier, and shows once again why the script’s smaller elements are just as important to the movie’s overall writing as the movie’s story.  There are so many other elements and moments that could be cited in exhibiting what makes the script’s smaller elements so important.  Audiences will have to discover them for themselves.  Moving on, the work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s overall presentation as its writing.

The writing at the center of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is hugely important to note in considering what makes this movie such a fun flick.  From its full-on nonsensical story to its smaller yet equally nonsensical elements the writing forms a solid foundation for the movie.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as solid of an addition to that foundation beginning with that of John Astin.  Astin is just as *ahem* kooky (just not spooky) here as he was as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family.  The distant look in his eyes as he delivers his lines makes his bizarre delusional personality entirely believable and so hilarious at the same time.  George Clooney is just as entertaining as Chad’s friend Matt Stevens.  It is interesting to note Matt’s womanizing ways and the kind of characters that he has played since.  Given, Clooney was already in television before joining the movie’s cast.  However, one can’t help but wonder if this role played any part in the roles that he would take on in the years to come.  Case in point his character on Roseanne.  He was very similar in his suave, confident womanizing personality.  J. Stephen Peace cannot be ignored in examining the work of the movie’s cast either.  He is wonderful as the Tomato War hero Wilbur Finletter.  He is so impressive in his portrayal as it is so much along the lines of the stereotypical war veteran presented in other comedies.  That is evident in his one-track mindset and his firm beliefs as a result of his experiences.  It is just one more way in which the cast’s work proves to be so important to the movie’s presentation and hardly the last.  Anthony Starke is just as hilarious as Wilbur’s nephew.  Even Waldron shines as Tara in her own right.  Whether through her performance, that of Starke, or any of the movie’s other cast members, the fact remains that the work of the cast in whole is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its writing.  It is also not the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is just as important to note as its writing and the work of its cast.

The writing behind Return of the Killer Tomatoes and the work of the movie’s cast are both integral in the movie’s overall presentation.  Each element makes the movie hugely entertaining in its own right.  Collectively they reveal the movie to be just as underappreciated as it is entertaining.  That says plenty.  The combination of those two elements only does so much for the movie, though.  The movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue also includes a feature-length commentary from writer/director John De Bello and Michael Felsher, from Red Shirt Films that is just as entertaining in its own right as the movie’s writing and the cast’s work on camera.  Audiences learn in hearing the commentary that this movie in particular only happened because there was actually demand for the movie on the part of audiences who had watched the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  De Bello jokes here about it when comparing that demand to Hollywood’s current practice of announcing sequels for movies before said movies’ progenitors have even hit the big screen.  He hit the nail right on the head there.  That didn’t use to be Hollywood’s practice.  But now it’s become the norm for Hollywood, a way of life for the industry almost.  De Bello also reveals that New World Pictures didn’t want the movie to look too good because it was, after all, a spoof.  This is all within the first ten minutes of the movie or so.  There is also a discussion later on the casting of Anthony Starke and George Clooney that leads to a separate yet insightful discussion on the transition of TV stars to the big screen at the time.  It is interesting to learn that, at the time, it was basically a death sentence for an actor’s career when a TV actor tried to make the jump to movies.  All of this is just a glance into the commentary provided within the movie.  There is so much more entertainment and information provided throughout the course of the movie’s hour and thirty-nine minute run time.  Audiences will find their own favorite information and entertainment from the commentary when they watch this new Blu-ray re-issue for themselves.  That overall entertainment and information joins with the movie’s writing and the cast’s work to make the movie’s overall presentation lots of fruity (tomatoes are NOT vegetables.  See what I did there?) and funny entertainment for any true movie buff.

Return of the Killer Tomatoes is one of 2016’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  It is an absolute must have for any true movie buff.  That is proven clearly in the movie’s script.  Both the story at the center of the movie and its smaller elements are so nonsensically funny that one can’t help but laugh.  That is exactly what the cast and crew wanted after all.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as enjoyable as that of the movie’s writing team.  The cast’s interpretation of the script and characters will keep audiences laughing just as loudly as the story and its smaller items.  The bonus, feature-length commentary adds even more enjoyment to the movie.  That is because of the jokes and information that are shared throughout.  By now it should be clear just how important each element is to the overall presentation of Return of the Killer Tomatoes in its new Blu-ray re-issue.  All things considered this new re-issue reminds audiences just why it is such an undervalued movie.  They show why the movie, now in its new Blu-ray re-issue is an absolutely must have for any true movie buff and one of the year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via Arrow Films’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Films is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArrowFilms

 

 

 

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Arrow Films’ New Harryhausen Doc Is A Must See For Any True Cinephile

Courtesy:  Arrow Films

Courtesy: Arrow Films

Ray Harryhausen is one of the greatest and most influential figures in Hollywood’s history.  It is thanks to his vision and his work that audiences today can enjoy classic movies such as 20 Million Miles To Earth, It Came From Beneath The Sea, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and so many other greats.  He and his movies have been the influence for countless filmmakers and special effects experts over the years with his sequences and movies being rebooted in various ways.  So it is no surprise that considering the massive footprint left by the cinematic “titan” that so many documentaries and books have been released over the years centered on him and his work.  The problem with those documentaries and books there is very little variance in the material presented in each one from one to the next.  Enter Arrow Films’ new Ray Harryhausen retrospective Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan.  This presentation is the best Harryhausen documentary to be released to date.  That is due in part to it being such a deeply comprehensive presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program is just as important to the documentary if not more so.  It will be discussed later.  The bonus material that is included in the documentary’s Special Edition Blu-ray rounds out the documentary’s most important elements.  It joins with the program’s story and information to make the presentation in whole one that is a must see for any true cinephile.

Arrow Films’ new Ray Haryhausen retrospective Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is a must see for any true cinephile.  It is the best Harryhausen documentary to be released to date.  That is due in part to its story.  It is the most comprehensive look at Harryhausen’s life and impact that has yet been produced.  Unlike so many other previously released Harryhausen docs, it focuses on more than just his major movies.  Rather it follows Harryhausen’s life from his youth to his earliest work making stop motion fairy tale films all the way up to the height of his popularity and eventual retirement.  Audiences (even those that are largely familiar with his work) might find themselves in awe at the “giant” (bad pun fully intended) footprint left by the film legend even today in taking in this program.  That is due to the discussions on the standards that he created and his adaptation to the changing course of movies and its impact on his success as well as discussions on the reach of his influence on filmmakers across the film world and so much more.  The discussions include some very candid one-on-one interviews with Harryhausen himself before his passing in 2013 as well as some of the most well-known filmmakers and special effects experts in the business today.  Between those discussions and the focus on each of his feature films, the comprehensive nature of this doc proves it to be unquestionably the best presentation on the film legend to be released yet.  Its comprehensive nature is just part of what makes it such a standout documentary.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program is just as important to its presentation as its overall story.

The story at the center of Arrow Films’ new Ray Harryhausen documentary is in itself an important part of the program’s presentation.  That is because it is the most comprehensive look at the film legend’s life and career that has been released to date.  It is not the program’s only important element, though.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program is just as important to its presentation as its story if not more so.  The information and material that is presented throughout the program is just as awe-inspiring as the story itself.  One of the most interesting of the program’s revelations is that it is thanks to Harryhausens creature features—specifically The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms—that the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park move the way that they do.  It is openly stated by many of the interviewees that before that movie was created no one knew how dinosaurs moved.  And ever since then every dinosaur-centric movie that has been made has used Harryhausen’s work as a model for its own creations.  On a related note, there is a subtle yet powerful statement made by Harryhausen himself that he never made “monsters.”  Rather he made “creatures.”  It is a statement that said he didn’t want to make scary, horror style movies.  Rather he wanted to make movies with creations that the whole family could enjoy without fear of anyone having nightmares.  It is a statement that cannot be ignored.  On another related note, audiences will be just as intrigued to learn that Mr. Harryhausen was the one responsible for the term “dynamation.”  He used that term as Hollywood was transitioning from black and white movies to color films.  He reveals in his interview that many people were beginning to use the term “animation/animated” to describe his movies.  He notes that this gave an incorrect perception of his movies, so he came up with the term “dynamation” in order to maintain the perception that his movies weren’t just children’s movies.  He wanted them to be taken more seriously.  This is just some of the program’s key information.  There are also some very interesting revelations about the influence of not only his movies but the sequences that were used in his movies, too.

The information that is revealed in the program’s interviews is enlightening to say the very least.  It is just some of the program’s most important information and material.  As the program progresses audiences will be just as interested to learn of the influence of the very sequences used in Harryhausen’s movies on so many more modern movies.  It is One of the most notable of the presented sequences is that of the creature in The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms eating its victims.  The motions are directly mirrored in a similar scene from Jurassic Park in which the T-Rex knocks over a bathroom and eats the man inside.  On another note, audiences will be just as interested to see the influence of the sword fight scene between Sinbad and Kali in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and that of Obi Wan Kenobi and one of the key light saber battles in Star Wars: Episode II.  Here are two totally different movies from two wholly different eras yet even with such a span of time and genres Harryhausen’s influence is felt just as strongly even there.  It is just one more of so many examples of the far-reaching influence of Harryhausen’s sequences presented throughout the program.  There are so many other examples presented over the course of the program.  They collectively show why the material that is presented within the program’s story is just as important to the story’s presentation as its information.  Both elements join with the program’s story to make the documentary in whole an even more interesting program.  Even as interesting as the story and its content make this program, they are not its only key elements.  The bonus material that is included in the documentary’s special edition Blu-ray is just as important to its presentation as its story and related content.

The story at the center of Arrow Films’ new Ray Harryhausen documentary and its content are both important pieces of the program’s presentation.  The story itself is the most far-reaching retrospective on the film legend that has been released to date.  The information and material that makes up the body of the program adds even more interest and enjoyment to the program.  That is because the collective mass includes some very insightful one-on-one interviews with Harryhausen as well as some equally insightful interviews with those who he influenced to work in the movie industry.  As much as the story and its content do for this documentary they are not its only key elements.  The bonus material included in its new home release is just as important to its presentation as those noted elements.  There is a feature-length audio commentary from those behind the program’s lens that offers even more insight for viewers as well as a number of outtakes that didn’t make the film’s final cut, and a pair of Q&A session with some of the interviewees just to name a few items.  One of the most notable mentions made in the bonus commentary is that of the reason for the program’s opening sequence.  It is noted that in opening with recent movie titles, younger audiences will hopefully see that those movies were influenced directly by Harryhausen’s movies.  It is a way to connect those younger viewers to the foundations of their favorite flicks.  The outtakes are each preceded with their own slates explaining in no uncertain terms why each was cut from the final product.  This in turn leaves no question as to the intentions of each outtake.  It also creates its own share of discussion among viewers as to whether or not they personally feel that the outtakes should have been outtakes.  It is another wonderful way to keep viewers entertained and engaged in the program’s overall presentation.  The live Q&A sessions with the interviewees are just as entertaining because of their light-hearted nature.  There are plenty of laughs to be shared even through the conversations and questions.  The questions and conversations include which of Harryhausen’s creations is his favorite, how did the filmmakers get the footage for the documentary (which is in itself rather eye-opening) and Harryhausen’s own thoughts on his legacy among so much more.  Between the two sessions audiences will find themselves just as engrossed in them as those that were there in attendance.  This is just scraping the top of the proverbial iceberg.  The “Treasure Trove” feature is simple.  But it is one of the most powerful of the bonuses included with the program.  It follows curators of the Harryhausen exhibit in London as they un-crate the models that the legendary filmmaker used in creating his movies.  Those models include the UFOs from Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, the Pegasus from Clash of the Titans, the Brontosaurus from Evolution, and so many others.  The reverence shown for the models as they are removed from their crates is so moving.  It shows the understanding and respect that those removing them have for what Harryhausen created.  It shows an understanding and respect for the amount of time spent making them, too.  In essence that respect and understanding shows that there is still a very real respect for Harryhuasen’s work in general and the influence that he still has today.  It is just one more of the in-depth bonuses included in the program that makes the program’s presentation so enjoyable.  Together with those other noted bonuses, the program’s story and its content, all three elements come together to make it a must see for any true cinephile.

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is a must see for any true cinephile.  That is because it is the most in-depth and comprehensive presentation to be released to date about the film legend’s life and career.  That depth is exhibited directly through the program’s story and its content.  It follows Harryhausen’s  life from his childhood all the way to the height of his career and eventual retirement, touching on parts of his career that few if any previous Harryhausen documentary has touched on.  The content presented throughout the program adds to that depth as it shows the reach of his influence even to this day.  The bonus material included in the program rounds out the ways in which the program exhibits its depth.  It adds even more interest and insight through the bonus audio commentary, Q&A sessions, interview outtakes, and much more.  Each element plays its own important part in showing what makes this documentary such an impressive presentation.  All things considered they join together to make it, again, a must see for any true cinephile.  It is available now in stores and online, and can be ordered online direct via Arrow Films’ online store at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/?s=Ray+Harryhausen&x=0&y=0.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Films is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArrowFilms

 

 

 

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New Smurfs re-issue is a “Smurftastic” time for all

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films/Arrow Films

Nearly thirty-one years ago, the world was introduced to what is perhaps one of the most iconic cartoons ever to grace television.  That cartoon was none other than The Smurfs.  That cartoon ran until about 1990.  Until recent years, the Smurfs had all but disappeared until the first couple of seasons made their way to DVD.  And then last year, audiences were re-introduced to the Smurfs with a big screen adaptation that was anything but a hit.  Now, thanks to Shout! Factory, Fabulous Films, and Arrow Films, the honor of the Smurfs has been restored with the upcoming release of the classic movie, “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute.”

“The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” is a wonderful walk down memory lane for true fans of these animation legends.  The most noticeable thing that audiences will love about this classic movie is its animation.  In an era when so many cg-based movies and TV shows are considered “animated”, it’s nice to see yet another classic hand drawn piece of nostalgia.  Animation may seem minor on the surface.  But one watch of this movie, next to any other true animated feature will note that the animation style is a big part of said features’ identities.  Whereas cg-based “animation” is cookie cutter by nature, hand drawn animation is different from one work to the next.  And this feature’s animation definitely gives it its very own identity.

The animation of “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” gives this feature its own identity.  It’s one part of what makes this classic cartoon such a joy to watch.  Another factor that makes “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” so fun is that while it does lift lightly from the classic Pied Piper story, it still manages to create its very own story.  The story centers on a magic flute discovered by William that makes everyone who hears it dance.  This is where the Pied Piper similarity comes in.  However, it’s also where that similarity ends, and the Smurfs’ own story comes in to play.  When William goes out and talks about the flute, the evil McCreep steals it and uses it to steal people’s money.  So what do the Smurfs have to do with it all?  It just so happens that the wood used to carve the magic flute comes from their magical world.  How this is discovered will remain a secret for those who haven’t yet seen this retro classic.  But it comes in to play in the story’s ultimate outcome, which audiences will love.

The animation and the story of “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” together make for an excellent re-issue for fans.  There’s at least one more factor that makes this such a welcome re-issue.  That factor is the bonus features included in the single disc presentation.  Among the best of those features is the “Glossary of Smurf Terms.”  Parents who grew up with the Smurfs can share lots of Smurf terms and teach their own kids about them.  There’s even a Smurfs Story in the bonus features that will teach new audiences all about the Smurfs. 

From the bonus features to the story to the animation, “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” is another wonderful walk down memory lane for audiences who grew up watching the original cartoon series in its near decade long run.  Now that those same audiences are grown up, not only can they re-live some great childhood moments, but they can also share those same moments with a new generation.  That will keep not only family memories alive, but also keep The Smurfs alive for a whole new generation.  “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” is available on DVD beginning August 14th via Shout! Factory, Fabulous Films and Arrow Films.  It will be available in stores or to order online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

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