New Box Set A Fitting Final Release For The Angry Beavers

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have had a very successful partnership in recent years, releasing a handful of classic Nicktoons.  The two companies have partnered to release multiple seasons and complete seasons of The Wild Thornberrys, Aaahhh!!! Real Monsters, and Danny Phantom just to name a few.  Now the companies’ partnership has resulted in the release of another complete series in what is one of Nickelodeon’s key cartoons in The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series.

Next to Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series, The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series is only the second complete series released by Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory among the Nicktoons releases put out to date.  For those that are perhaps new to this series, its run from 1997 – 2001 was a very pivotal point for the network.  That is because when this cartoon debuted, it was unlike any of the other Nicktoons still on the air at that point.  Whereas other shows such as Rocket Power, Rugrats, and Hey Arnold! bore a certain heart, The Angry Beavers was more akin to the likes of Cartoon Network’s What A Cartoon show.  That’s because of the all-out, zany story lines of each episode.  From Dagget becoming a forest ranger in Season One to dealing with their sisters and dad in Seasons Two, Three, and Four, the show’s stories are just good turn-off-your-brain entertainment.  This is just as true with every one of the show’s other episodes, too.  Each season’s episodes collectively marked the beginning of a new age of Nicktoons for Nickelodeon.  Of course, the stories were only part of the formula that made the Angry Beavers stand out among the Nicktoons of that time.

The zany storylines of this cartoon obviously garnered the show a solid audience in its run.  That’s evident as its four-season run was right on par with its predecessors and those that were on the air at the same time.  It’s not all that set the show apart from other Nicktoons, though.  The show’s animation also set it apart from other Nicktoons.  As with the story lines, its animation was also more akin to those cartoons that audiences would have seen on Cartoon Network’s What a Cartoon Show.  That factor partnered with the completely off the wall story lines leaves little doubt as to why the show was as successful as it was.  Now that the complete series has been released to DVD box set, there is at least one last factor that helps to make this show a favorite among its fans once more.  That factor is something that has set Shout! Factory apart from other companies from early on.  It is the set’s packaging.

Now that The Angry Beavers: The Complete Series has been released, fans of this standout Nicktoon can finally re-live another part of their childhoods in proper fashion.  That’s because all four seasons of the show have been collected in a single, properly packaged box.  All sixty-two episodes have been culled on ten discs and presented exactly as they were presented in their original stand-alone boxes.  The set’s first and final discs both have their own spaces on the inside front and rear of the box.  All of the set’s other discs each have their own spot on the plastic inserts that have helped conserve space on other releases from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  Those same inserts have also served to protect the discs from being scratched.  This, in turn, allows each episode to be enjoyed for far longer than had they been packaged in older, less ergonomic packaging that other companies use.  So it is one more feather in the cap of both Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  The complete series set will be available Tuesday, July 30th in store and online.  Fans can order the set online direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217521.  Fans that order the box set through this site will also have a chance to receive a free 12” x 18” Angry Beavers lithograph.  Only 200 lithographs were printed.  So they are in extremely limited quantity.  It’s first come first serve.

To keep up with all of the latest releases from Shout! Factory, fans can “Like” the official Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial or check in daily at the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com.  Fans that want to see other Nicktoons such as Rugrats and Doug get a proper release can go to the Shout! Factory Facebook page and bombard the company with messages in favor of getting those most classic of Nicktoons released properly, too.  After doing that, fans can go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks, and “Like” it to keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news.  Fans can also keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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Inescapable A Nice Escape For Action Movie Fans

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group

There is nothing more powerful in the world than the love of a parent for his or her child.  This common theme has been used time and again throughout the history of motion pictures.  A quick glance through the annals of movie history will show no fewer than at least a dozen films whose plots are based on this theme.  One of the most recent films to use this theme comes from mpi media group.  The movie in question is the action/thriller Inescapable.  While it isn’t the first movie of its kind, it does have quite a bit going for it.  The story itself offers viewers a different take on the classic theme that sets it aside from the likes of Liam Neeson’s Taken franchise.  It also has going for it an all-star cast led by Alexander Siddig (Da Vinci’s Demons, Primeval, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).  Most people are more apt to know the names of Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.  And most of all, it has some very interesting commentary courtesy of writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier.  These three factors offer so much more than can even be discussed within these confines; so much so that one would be best served to watch the movie by one’s self or with friends to really take in everything that the movie has to offer.  Regardless of alone or with friends, it is a work that is worth at least one watch.

 
Inescapable offers viewers first and foremost a take unlike that of other movies within this vein.  Something interesting to learn (as viewers will learn in watching this movie with additional commentary) is that writer/director Ruba Nadda in fact wrote this movie in 2005, three years before Taken premiered.  This makes the comparisons to that franchise in question understandable.  Sadly, this type of thing happens far more often than audiences realize both within the confines of the movie industry and the music industry.  Understanding that this movie came years before the Taken franchise took off, it makes it easier to take in its differences from the franchise in question.  This story does have its share of action.  But the character development (again as noted in the commentary) of Siddig’s Adib is a big part of what makes the story progress.  The story becomes just as much about learning about Adib’s past as it is about his journey to find his daughter.
 
Adib’s quest to find his daughter is the most obvious comparison that critics and audiences have made in discussing the story of Inescapable.  His search for his daughter is entirely unlike that of Taken.  The latter of the two films centered on human traffickers kidnapping a man’s daughter. Inescapable, on the other hand, centers on a group of figures that kidnapped a man’s daughter to use her as a political pawn of sorts.  Why they kidnap her is typical movie fare.  But the revelation of why they kidnapped her is revealed.  And it is just enough of a twist to leave viewers guessing and cheering for Adib especially in the eventual happy ending.  Yes, it does have a happy ending.  That much will be revealed.  Though, that is the extent of what will be revealed. 
The script behind Inescapable should visibly unlike that of either of the movies in the Taken franchise by now.  So from here, it would serve viewers best to move on and focus on the movie’s cast.  Veteran actress Maris Tomei (Parental Guidance, Crazy Stupid Love, The Wrestler) and actor Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek, Fringe) are billed as major stars of the story.  But the reality of the story is that much as in the case of Johnny Depp in Chocolat for example, Jackson and Tomei are really just lures to get viewers’ eyes.  They are in fact just supporting cast.  Alexander Siddig is the real star of this movie.  And considering his personal background, he could not have been a better choice.  For those that don’t know, Siddig was born in the Sudan in North Africa.  Keeping that in mind, and adding in his professional resume, his was a natural choice.  He looks and sounds every part the role of a Middle Eastern man.  His experience with some of the U.K.’s most well-known acting schools and on the large and small screen made him even more the natural choice for the movie’s lead role.  He had a real ability to take his character and bring such depth out of him.  It makes Adid that much more of a believable character for viewers.  That, along with the understanding of the story helps to make the movie even more worth the watch.
 
Audiences should see by now that despite early preconceptions about it, Inescapable has far more to offer viewers than they might have thought without seeing the movie.  If what has been noted already is not enough, then perhaps the additional commentary by writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier will change viewers’ minds.  Their discussions range from politics of the Middle East and their effect on shooting, to shooting on location in Damascus, to so many other topics.  It adds so much more depth to the story in a second watch.  That second watch will hopefully prove to viewers that have yet to see this action/thriller just how underrated it is.  Hopefully it will serve as one more example of the fact that indie flicks can be just as enjoyable and interesting as the big screen pieces to which they are so quickly and close-mindedly compared far too often.  Inescapable is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from mpi media group and IFC Films. 
 
Indie flick audiences and fans can keep up with all of the latest from IFC Films and mpi media group online at http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial, http://www.IFCFilms.com and http://www.mpimedia.com. 
 
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. 
 

Crazy, Stupid, Love is crazy, but not stupid

Boy meets girl, loses her, and gets her back in the end.  Name that movie.  Pretty tough call, right?  That’s because it’s the most common theme for nearly every romantic comedy ever made.  The plot has been done so many times–in so many different manners–that it’s amazing the genre is even still considered viable.  Thankfully though, every now and then a diamond in the rough comes to light, and renews hope in the rom-com genre.  In 2011, that diamond in the rough was the ensemble piece, Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is a quirky and original rom-com led by the one and only Steve Carell.  It’s not the first rom-com with an ensemble cast.  Who out there remembers Valentines Day?  I should be ashamed for even knowing about that movie.  It was an awful movie, by the way.  But I digress.  Unlike so many other movies that pollute the rom-com genre, it’s a movie that actually has heart, and an original story.  The problem with the story is that as original and heartwarming as it is, it has too much going on.  There are too many interweaving plotlines.  The general story tries so hard to cover all of its bases that it leads to a pacing problem.  The issue with the story’s pacing is so noticeable that it can lead some audiences to want to hit the fast forward button on their remotes.

The primary storyline in the movie is between Cal Weaver (Carell) and his wife, Emily.  Cal is trying to rediscover himself after Emily tells him during a night out, that she wants a divorce.  She proceeds to admit to Cal on their drive home, that she had been cheating on him.  This is where things begin to get complicated.  So pull out your scorecards.  Ready?  In attempting to rediscover himself, Cal meets playboy Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), who teaches Cal how to woo women.  During the process, Cal meets his son’s teacher, Kate (Marisa Tomei), and Jacob meets Hannah, whom he later falls for.  This results in Jacob changing his ways, and a surprise twist thrown in for good measure.  The tie in with Kate is directly related to Cal’s son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) cursing in class one day because his affections toward an older girl were spurned.  The girl in question is named Jessica (Analeigh Tipton).  Jessica has a schoolgirl crush on Cal.  And that leads to some interesting events.  So, is everyone following along?  The whole game of six degrees continues on even more, to the point that a person would need a program to follow it all.  It simply bogs the story down too much. 

No one can be blamed for wanting to skip through portions of the movie, due to its pacing problem.  No one can even be blamed for actually doing it.  However, those who don’t will be rewarded with a happy ending that’ll leave them with some sense of fullfilment, and a smile on their faces in the end.  Said audiences’ minds might be reeling from all the storylines after it’s all said and done.  Those who manage to keep up with it all will definitely find Crazy, Stupid, Love to be crazy, yes.  But they’ll also find it to be anything but stupid.