Win “Life of Pi” On BD/DVD/Vudu Combo Pack

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Life of Pi is one of the biggest movies from 2012.  Now it has finally been released to multiple formats.  Thanks to 20th Century Fox and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, the Phil’s Picks blog has three copies of the movie to give away on Blu-ray/DVD/Vudu combo pack. 

Next Monday – Wednesday, I’ll be giving away one copy each day on the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at  But I’m not just going to do any drawing.  Those of you who have already “Liked” my FB page have to recruit more people to “Like” it in order to win.  It will start Monday, March 18th.   Here’s how it’ll go down.  The first person to get just five (5) people to “Like” my page each day will win that day’s copy of “Life of Pi” on Blu-ray/DVD/Vudu.  The people that you get to “Like” my page have to post to my timeline noting that you got them to “Like” my page.  That way I can count each person’s recruits under your name.  Make sense?  Let me know if it doesn’t and I’ll try to explain it in simpler terms.  I’ll announce the winner of each copy each afternoon at 4pm.  Again, that’s the first person Monday – Wednesday to get 5 people to “Like” my page.  And it doesn’t start until Monday.  So that means that you need to get out there and spread the word about the Phil’s Picks FB page if you really want to win!  I’m going to run the contest for these copies of “Hitchcock” the same way the following week

And if you’re not one of the people to enter, you can pick up your copy in store or online now.  It can be ordered online at

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Prep & Landing Double Feature Holiday Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Disney’s new Pre & Landing Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is a great holiday set for the whole family.  It includes not just the original adventure of Lanny and Wayne in Pre & Landing but also its half-hour follow-up, Pre & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice

Most audiences have likely already seen both of these enjoyable holiday shorts. But for those who have yet to see them, they’re both entertaining and heartwarming.  They both teach very valuable life lessons.  One even carries on Disney’s long-running tradition of emphasizing the importance of family.  In the original Prep & Landing, audiences first meet Lanny and Wayne when Wayne is teamed up with Lanny after being turned down for a long coveted promotion.  Wayne isn’t too jolly after finding out that he had lost his promotion to another elf.  So when he’s teamed up with the young, inexperienced Lanny, he’s anything but enthused.  But through a series of misadventures, Wayne learns a very valuable lesson about appreciating what one already has and where one is in life, regardless of which stage of life.  It’s a lesson that both parents and kids can learn together.

Equally valuable to the lesson taught in Prep & Landing is the lesson about valuing family taught in that feature’s sequel, Pre & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice. The follow-up to Prep & Landing re-introduces Wayne and Lanny to audiences.  This time the pair has to trace down a conduct calculator lost by another elf a year before at the house of a naughty child.  The child in question wants to use the calculator to break into the elves’ database of naughty kids so as to make a slight alteration.  In the process, audiences are also introduced to Wayne’s brother, Noel, as he joins Wayne and Lanny in their mission.  The long held issues between Wayne and his brother alone makes for a very important lesson about letting go of the past and forgiving.  Those same messages are taught when audiences discover who exactly the naughty child is that the elves have to face off against.  Audiences will have to discover for themselves the secret of the naughty child.  The revelation of the child makes the lesson of family that much more important, relatable, and heartwarming.

The main features presented in this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack make for a great viewing experience for the whole family.  They’re just part of what parents and kids will enjoy in this set.  Families also get a bonus short in the Emmy award winning short, “Operation: Secret Santa.”  The elves have to help Mrs. Clause get something special from Santa’s office for her.  Why?  Again, audiences will have to find out for themselves if they haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing it.  Even Tiny gets his own little short that will have the whole family laughing.  And the retro style newsreels that teach the elves all about their duties are just as entertaining as bonus features here.  They, along with the pair of bonus shorts included in this new set, are the icing on the cake that is the Prep & Landing double feature BD/DVD combo pack.  Families can pick up the set in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct via the Disney store at or at the official Disney DVD website at

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Dick Van Dyke Show Blu-Ray Set A Welcome Re-Issue

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

The newly re-issued Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series is one of the most welcome box sets of 2012.  This fifteen disc box set brings together the show’s full five-season run from 1961 to 1966.  At a time when so much programming on television today is anything but family friendly, this re-issued set resurrects one of television’s greatest programs for a whole new generation of audiences.

This new Blu-ray release isn’t the first time that the Dick Van Dyke show has been released to the public.  But it’s a welcome return for one of television’s most revered names and sitcoms.  From funny episodes such as ‘All About Eavesdropping’ and ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ to the hilarious ‘Coast to Coast Bigmouth’, the show had more than its share of laughs throughout its run on CBS.  The show’s episodes have never looked better.  What’s makes it even more of a joy to watch is that it is a relic of a bygone era in television.  Add in a bevy of special features, and any true classic television buff will find this a welcome gift under the Christmas tree this year.

The Dick Van Dyke Show is one of the most respected and revered sitcoms in television history first and foremost for its writing.  Unlike so much of today’s programming, this is a classic sitcom in which every episode was a stand-alone episode.  Viewers didn’t have to worry about missing an episode or another to be able to enjoy the show.  Every show was a different episode all in itself.  In comparison to so much of what is on television today, being able to enjoy each episode without having to know what happened in the previous episode is a breath of fresh air.  It’s something which today’s generation knows next to nothing about as so many network programmers have leaned more in favor of serials.  With any luck, the resurgence of shows such as this and The Carol Burnett Show among others will prove to those programmers the value and importance of this style programming.

That fans can enjoy The Dick Van Dyke Show without worrying about each episode’s storyline from one to the next is one of the most important values of this show.  It isn’t the show’s only value, though.  The show’s writing also goes into its general content, too.  Again, in comparison to so much of today’s programming, this show is one of those breaths of fresh air in that it’s something which the entire family can enjoy together.  It mixes great physical comedy with family friendly jokes that will get the entire family laughing from one episode to the next.  The proof is in the pudding.  The show’s episode, ‘Never Bathe on Saturday’ earned the show a Primetime Emmy in the “Outstanding Comedy Series.”  That’s just one of its accolades.  For those who have never seen this classic episode, Rob and Laura go to a hotel for a romantic honeymoon.  But when Laura goes into the bathroom of the couple’s hotel room to try out the tub, she gets her toe stuck in the tub’s faucet.  The resulting jokes and comedy are proof of why the show won its Emmy for this episode.  Like so many other episodes from this classic sitcom, it’s a simple story with a simple and family friendly story that is still one of the show’s most beloved episodes to this very day.  And it’s just one tiny piece of evidence of what makes this show so timeless.  Thanks to Image Entertainment, families and fans can enjoy every episode and find their own favorite with every watch.

The show’s writing exhibits both intrinsically and extrinsically, the show’s value.  The writing makes all the difference in the show’s continued success nearly five decades after it ended.  Now on its new Blu-ray release, the writing continues to play a major role in the show’s continued success.  The show looked great on its original multi-disc DVD set.  Now on its new Blu-ray re-issue, the footage has never looked better.  It looks even sharper than ever.  It is crystal clear.  Given, the older grainy footage of the older DVD release is great for creating an extra sense of nostalgia.  But seeing it cleaned up so precisely without losing any quality from the original masters is incredible in its own right.  There are those who will and have had their own say about how the footage has been cleaned up.  But the very fact that there are those who want to preserve the show should make those critics change their minds.  Keeping in mind the outstanding quality of this show’s transfers to HD, its overall writing, and the equally interesting bonus features that have been carried over from the previous DVD release, The Dick Van Dyke Show on Blu-ray will be a great addition under the tree for any classic television buff this holiday season.

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Patton BD Re-Issue A Must For Any Movie Lover

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Patton is one of the single greatest works in movie history.  This epic isn’t just a war movie.  It’s a movie about a man and his impact on those around him and the entire world.  It’s also about his own battle to come to terms with who he was.  The dichotomy of who Patton was in this story is really what makes the near three hour run time so watchable.  On one side, audiences see a man who is a trained killer.  Even his own adversary notes near the story’s end notes that life without war would kill him, not a bullet.  And even one fellow soldier notes to his face that he [Patton] does what he does not because he was trained to do it, but because he enjoyed it.  Those are two very bold statements about Patton the soldier.  The trained soldier is just one side of who Patton was.  On another side of the stone, audiences see a man who has one of the biggest hearts in the world.  He showed that as cold and calculated as he was on the battlefield, he still cared about the men who served under him.  His problem was his inability to balance the two.  It’s almost as if Patton felt the need to uphold a certain reputation.  But at the same time, he knew that he had to show at least some humanity.  One individual interviewed for the movie’s primary bonus feature, “History Through The Lens—A Rebel Revisited”, notes that what Patton is really about is the rise and fall of this almost mythical figure.  That rise and fall involved his inability to balance his humanistic side with the expertly trained soldier.General Patton’s inability to balance the soldier and the man is a big part of what has led to discussions among audiences in the four plus decades since this biopic first debuted.  That discussion is also raised in the film’s main bonus feature, which has also been brought over from the movie’s previous releases on DVD.  And as famed writer/director Francis Ford Coppola notes in the movie’s preface, he really tried hard to make sure people would see that the movie wasn’t meant to generate political discussions, but discussions about the complexity of who Patton was.  Speaking of Coppola, it’s interesting that he also notes to audiences of how he was originally fired from the film.  Go figure, he was brought back, and his work with fellow writer Edmund H. North went on to make a movie that could easily be used as the basis for any doctoral dissertation or for conversations among true movie lovers.

Coppola and North are to be highly commended for this outstanding story of a man’s struggle to balance his duty as a leader of men with being a man with a heart.  Their work is just one part of what makes this new Blu-ray re-issue a must for not just any film buff, but also for anyone who thirsts for movies with real substance.

The bonus features, which were carried over from the previous DVD releases, go into full depth showing how far the cast and crew went to making a movie that wasn’t just another movie “based on actual events.”  Audiences have gotten far too many of those movies, even since Hollywood’s golden era.  Yes, it’s been going on even that long.  The interviews culled for the bonus features show how the people behind the camera went into painstaking detail about Patton’s time as one of the Army’s most influential and controversial figures.  The main feature, “History Through The Lens: Patton – A Rebel Revisited” runs roughly ninety minutes.  It compares Patton as he’s seen on screen, and the real life figure, going so far as to admit at first Patton’s family didn’t take too well at the thought of a bio pic based on his life originally.  But when they saw the final product, his family appreciated the work that had been crafted.  It’s a perfect feature both for any film buff or even any history class.  While there are other features included on the newly re-issued set, this one alone more could have carried the movie and made it that much better.  That’s not to say that the other features weren’t necessary.  Quite the opposite.  They were just the icing on the cake, so to speak.  They just helped to put this already iconic movie over the top as not just one of the best movies of the twentieth century, but of all time.  The new Patton Blu-ray re-issue is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct via 20th Century Fox’s online store,

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D.O.A. Re-Make Another Product Of Its Time

Courtesy: Touchstone Pictures/Mill Creek Entertainment

Touchstone Pictures’ take on the 1950 crime thriller D.O.A. is a near total re-imagining of the original, right down to the movie’s end.  While there are some hints of the original such as the protagonist being poisoned after a night at a bar and going to the hospital, those similarities are fleeting at best, as even they have been altered, too.  Whereas the original 1950 rendition starring Edmond O’Brien focused on accountant Frank Bigelow, the 1988 remake focused on star Dennis Quaid, who played college English professor Dexter Cornell.  Almost the entire story has been changed in the near forty years between the two versions. 

Touchstone’s take on D.O.A. is a product of its time, much like the 1950 original.  Stories written in the era of D.O.A. were stories in every sense of the word.  The 1988 remake is also like movies of its era.  While it does have a story, its story is nothing like the original.  Like so many other crime/action/dramas of its time, it relies more on overt violence and sexuality to attract audiences than story.  That’s not to say that there isn’t a story.  But apparently, those behind the script for the story seemed to think that audiences wouldn’t watch the story without the amount of sex and violence that is existent there.  There is even a moment when one of the story’s main characters is shot in the head while driving a car in one of the movie’s many amped up action scenes.  Audiences see the woman shot in the head, and are even given more than one opportunity to see the rather large bullet hole left in her head from the gunshot as she drives off a road, gunman on the car’s hood the whole time.  Are the people behind this rendition of D.O.A. to blame for the level of violence in the movie?  Yes.  But again, this is just one more story that is a product of its time.  And movie makers from that era (and ever since) have seemed to think that using such methods is what sells tickets.

While the 1988 re-make of D.O.A. is a product of its time, what it really does is serve as a reminder of the larger picture of movie making, and how it has changed since the release of the original work.  The story behind the remake is a gripping one.  But it doesn’t necessarily need the amount of violence and sexuality that was added in.  In that same vein, perhaps the ultimate function of this remake will be to be one more reminder of movies made during Hollywood’s golden era.  It will remind movie makers and audiences alike of what made movies great.  The stories made them great, not the special effects and everything else.  Keeping all of this in mind, touchstone Pictures 1988 remake of D.O.A. isn’t D.O.A. itself.  But it will sadly never have the “life” of the 1950 original.     

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Slipknot “{sic}” As Ever On Download Blu-Ray Re-Issue

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Roadrunner Records

When the nine-man metal machine that is Slipknot released its self-titled debut album thirteen years ago, this musical monster instantly became one of metal’s biggest names.  In the years since that album’s release, Slipknot has maintained its spot as one of metal’s elite.  Its albums have gone multi-platinum.  And its last real concert DVD, “Disasterpieces” (2002) was a mega hit in its own right.  2006’s “Voliminal” was more a documentary than a concert DVD.  So it doesn’t count.  Now, Slipknot has a brand new live blu-ray re-issue of its 2010 DVD,” {sic}nesses:  Live at Download” due out next week.  This blu-ray is an excellent introduction to the legendary intensity that is a live Slipknot show for the uninitiated.  And for longtime members of the Maggot Corps who might not have been able to pick up the DVD a couple years ago, it’s a welcome new live release from the band.

“{sic}nesses:  Live at Download” is one more absolutely amazing live show from Slipknot.  It has all the intensity of the band’s show from “Disasterpieces.”  The only real difference is that unlike in “Disasterpieces”, fans don’t get to see the show from the POV of the band this time.  That’s not an entirely bad thing, though.  Having already done it once, would have meant wearing it out had they done that again.  However, the same energy felt in that show was felt this time, too.  It just came from the vantage point of the people behind the scenes, recording the show.  The people behind the scenes are to be commended, too.  They caught every bit of energy from both the stage and the audience of 80,000 concert goers and translated it expertly for people watching the show from home. 

The band’s Download set lasted roughly an hour and a half.  The band barely let up throughout that near ninety minute performance.  Even when it moved into the likes of ‘Dead Memories’, the energy was still there.  Every pit was in full motion the entire night.  And every person there was singing every word to every song.  Flags flew in the crowds representing no fewer than ten different nations.  It is simply a performance to behold.  As noted already, whether a new fan or a longtime member of the Maggot Corps, this brand new live release from one of metal’s top acts is top notch.  Perhaps the only down side to the entire thing would be the tour documentary included as a bonus feature.  Tour documentaries are really nothing new to any band’s live releases.  But it takes nothing away from the concert, which is why fans will pick up this release.  Viewer discretion should be exercised with this release as there is explicit language and nudity.

“{sic}nesses:  Live at Download” will be available next Tuesday, July 31st.  It will be available in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at

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New Blu-Ray Shows Hendrix In A Whole New Light

Courtesy: Sony Legacy

It goes without saying that Jimi Hendrix us one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century.  Countless guitarists have tried to emulate his style ever since he came to fame in the late 1960’s.  And they still try to do just that to this day.  The irony of his influence is that Jimi Hendrix apparently was not fond of having such a label placed on him.

The brand new documentary, “West Coast Seattle Boy:  Jimi Hendrix:  Voodoo Child” presents a man who was actually a rather reluctant star.  Audiences see through Jimi’s personal documents and an interview with Dick Cavett, a man who was more about being a great musician than being a rock star.  That modesty and love of music first is ironically what makes him so worthy of respect.

Learning of Jimi’s modesty is just one part of what makes this documentary so impressive.  While it’s called a documentary on the box, the reality is that this presentation is actually a ninety-minute video bio.  Audiences are taken on a journey through Hendrix’s life from his childhood to his untimely death in 1970.  Instead of being just another documentary loaded with sound bites from various celebrities, his story is told through his own documents and words.  The visual timeline used to illustrate each phase of his life is an excellent visual aid that any viewer will love.

Through the course of the timeline, viewers learn interesting facts of Jimi’s journey to fame.  They’ll be left in awe to learn that this legend came up through the ranks, playing with legends such as Little Richard and The Isley Brothers just to name a couple.  And that Paul McCartney was one of the first individuals to give Jimi a major break is just as incredible to learn.  It’s amazing to learn that these legends would be the catalysts to Jimi himself one day becoming a legend in his own right.

“West Coast Seattle Boy:  Jimi Hendrix:  Voodoo Child” offers so much more history that viewers will enjoy discovering.  To try and cover it all would be to prattle on endlessly.  And that would defeat the purpose of this review.  Suffice to say that this new video bio of Jimi Hendrix is now available on blu-ray both in stores and online.  It can be ordered online, along with all four formats of the companion concert piece, “Jimi Plays Berkeley” at

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