Disney’s ‘Dumbo’ Reboot Will Appeal To The Movie’s Most Devoted Audiences

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios is bringing its reboot of its animated classic Dumbo to DVD and Blu-ray later this month.  The movie is scheduled for release June 25, just under three months after the movie made its theatrical debut.  The movie was met with lackluster reactions from viewers and critics alike during its theatrical run, according to figures from Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office Mojo.  The lackluster reaction is justified, considering the reboot’s story.  This will be addressed a little bit later.  The bonus content that is featured with the movie’s home release does make up at least a little bit for the problems posed through the movie’s story.  It will be discussed shortly.  The movie’s average price point in its home release is another notable element to consider in examining its whole.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of the upcoming home release of Dumbo.  All things considered, the movie’s home release is a presentation that the most devoted Dumbo fans will appreciate.

Walt Disney Studios’ forthcoming home release of its reboot of Dumbo is a presentation that will appeal mostly to the most devoted fans of the classic movie.  That is due in part to the bonus content that is featured with the movie.  Among the most notable of the featured extras that make up the movie’s bonus content are featurettes that examine the movie’s costumes, set design and story.  Audiences learn through the bonus content, the train used in the update was in fact a real, scale model of the train featured in the animated 1941 movie.  There is even footage showing the train in front of a green screen to prove the train is real, and not just another CG item.  Viewers also learn through the noted features, the amount of work that went into making the movie look as close to the period as possible in which it was set.  That includes the costumes and the look of the train and sets.  That adds a certain level of appreciation to the movie, if only a little.  Another interesting addition to the movie’s bonus content list is a group of interviews with the movie’s cast and director Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Batman, Batman Returns).  Burton reveals in his interview segments that he had not in fact worked with Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns, Spiderman: Homecoming) and Danniy DeVito (Matilda, Batman, Batman Returns) since the trio last worked on Batman Returns (1992).  That is a long span of time apart.  DeVito and Keaton do share their own entertaining anecdotes about the comparison of that movie to Dumbo, joking about how the roles have changed and how Keaton loves elephants in reality, and its role in his acting.  Fellow Dumbo co-star Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful, Kingdom of Heaven) reveals an equally intriguing note of her own fears and how they were connected to her inexperience in acrobatics in her own interview.  That is just one more item that makes the bonus content so interesting here.  All of the items noted here will certainly engage and entertain audiences when Dumbo makes its home debut later this month.  They are just some of the interesting commentaries featured in the movie’s bonus content.  The note of Burton’s attention to detail with the sets and costumes adds its own interst, as the discussions lead to thoughts of another of Burton’s works – Big Fish.  The movie is not mentioned directly, but the latent effect is the noted thoughts and comparisons of Big Fish.  Stylistically, one cannot help but make a comparison between the movies.  To that end, audiences – even those who might not like this latest take on Dumbo – will appreciate the look of Dumbo.  Keeping that and everything else noted here in mind, the bonus content featured in the upcoming home release of Dumbo proves to be the movie’s saving grace, and more proof of the importance of a movie’s bonus content.  Staying on this train of thought, Disney’s updated take of Dumbo leaves a lot to be liked in terms of its story, the movie’s most prominent negative aspect.

The story at the center of Disney’s new Dumbo reboot is a near complete re-imagining of the 1941 movie.  In place of the original story in which Dumbo has to learn to believe in himself rather than luck, is a story that finds Dumbo basically being used by two businessmen for their own selfish purposes.  Given, DeVito’s Max Medici does ultimately prove to have a good heart, but he has to go through his own personal lesson to get there.  To that end, Max and V.A. Vandevere are both really just money-grubbers.  Max is just the lesser of two evils.  Add in the unnecessary romance subplot between Holt (Farrell) and Colette (Green) and things get even worse.  Things get worse not just because of the unnecessary romance subplot, but the very fact that said plot was so predictable.  It did not take a genius to know from early on that Colette’s character turn would happen.  As if this is not enough, the very fact that Dumbo knew just which knobs to turn and levers to pull (and could even do the noted tasks) to shut down Dreamland is just not believable.  The overly preachy animal rights message at the story’s end, and the overly preachy female empowerment messages also tied into the story do little to help the story.  That is not to say that female empowerment is a bad thing.  In fact it is a very good thing.  However, the way in which that message was delivered here was a bit more preachy than powerful, if that makes any sense.  When all of this is taken into consideration, the reality sets in that the story at the center of Disney’s new Dumbo reboot does a lot to detract from its presentation.  Keeping that in mind, it makes the movie’s average price point quite important to consider.

The average price point for the upcoming home release of Dumbo is $26.88.  That price is obtained using prices at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  At the time of this review’s posting, the movie was not listed at Disney’s official store.  The movie’s listing at movies.disney.com links to Best Buy, Target and Walmart.  While the average price point is almost $30, the movie’s pricing is right on par with every other movie that Disney has released in recent memory.  Its most inexpensive listing is through Amazon and Walmart at $24.96 while Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s price of $31.32 is the most expensive.  The continuity (of sorts) of the movie’s price in comparison to Disney’s other movies is something that viewers will applaud, especially considering the problems posed by the movie’s primary content versus the positives of its bonus content.  Keeping that in mind, while the primary content featured in Disney’s reboot of Dumbo is problematic, the movie’s most devoted fans will find it worth at least one watch.  Its bonus content does at least a little bit to make up for the story’s problems.  The pricing, for those noted devotees, is right in the same price range as Disney’s other home releases.  To that end, the movie in whole proves to be a release that will certainly appeal to a certain targeted audience

The forthcoming home release of Disney’s Dumbo reboot is an intriguing new offering from Disney.  Its bonus content is certain to keep audiences in general engaged and entertained.  Its story, on the other hand, will appeal to a much more specific viewer base.  Keeping all of this in mind, the average price range for the movie’s home release – which is in keeping with the range of Disney’s other home releases – proves to be its own positive for the movie.  Keeping all of this in mind, Dumbo’s upcoming home release will certainly appeal to a very distinct group of the movie’s audiences.  It is scheduled for release June 25.  More information on Dumbo is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://movies.disney.com/dumbo-2019

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Dumbo

 

 

 

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‘The Railway Children’ “Steams Ahead” Of The Competition In Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Family DVDs/BDs List

Courtesy: Film Movement

This critic, for those who might not know, is a parent and is married.  It makes finding time to go through everything needed difficult at times.  It also means trying to find ways to keep a child entertained quite often.  Keeping a child entertained includes finding DVDs and Blu-rays that will entertain and educate at the same time.

Thankfully, that part of doing this job is not too difficult, as companies, such as Public Media Distribution, Film Movement and Shout! Factory Kids have offered again this year, plenty of options.  Those options include, and are not limited to two new (and seemingly the last) Transformers Rescue Bots DVDs, two more fun-filled collections of episodes from Nature Cat and more new material from Wild Kratts and Dinosaur Train.

Of course that new material is just some of the fun new fare offered for families this year.  Film Movement’s release of The Railway Children live is a welcome new take on a stage presentation that also honors its literary source material, and Nickelodeon’s long-awaited Hey ArnoldThe Jungle Movie is a bit of a disappointment, but still worth at least one watch thanks to some major writing problems.

The top spot in this year’s Top 10 new Family DVDs/BDs list goes to the noted stage adaptation of The Railway Children.  This adaptation honors its source material while also presenting a one-of-its kind stage presentation that is unlike almost anything that American audiences have ever seen from stage plays.

The number two and three spots on this year’s list go to Public Media Distribution’s two new Nature Cat DVDs, Onward & Pondward and Winter Dance Party.  Each DVD’s episodes follow a specific theme while also teaching lessons that are directly linked with the themes.

Also included in this year’s list, as noted already are the new Wild Kratts  DVDs and those from Transformers Rescue Bots along with the new Hey Arnold! movie, just to name a handful of titles.  As always, the top 10 pics are the best while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Family DVDs & BDs list.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVDs & BLU-RAYs

  1. The Railway Children
  2. Nature CatOnward & Pondward
  3. Nature CatWinter Dance Party
  4. Transformers Rescue BotsOutdoor Adventures
  5. Transformers Rescue BotsTeam Rescue Bots
  6. Dinosaur TrainMaking New Friends
  7. Wild KrattsAdventures on the African Savannah
  8. Wild KrattsMdagascar Madness
  9. Littlest Pet ShopBest Pet Friends
  10. Ready Jet Go!Jet’s First Halloween
  11. Super WhyThe Adventures of Little Bo Peep & Her Sheep
  12. Arthur: D.Wand the Beastly Birthday
  13. Hotel Transylvania 3
  14. Disney Pixar Short FilmsVolume 3
  15. Hey Arnold!The Jungle Movie

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Listeners Of All Ages Will Enjoy “Diving Into” ‘Splash And Bubbles” Season 1 Soundtrack

Courtesy: Varese Sarabande/Music Film Recordings/The Jim Henson Company/PBS/PBS Kids/Herschend Studios

Fourteen years ago, one of the worst moves that could have ever happened to the film and television worlds became a reality when the family of Jim Henson sold the rights to the Muppets and so many other related properties to Disney.  The result of that sale has proven to be anything but successful with a handful of Muppet movies that have flopped as well as an equally unsuccessful TV series on ABC.  The irony here is that allegedly Jim Henson wanted to sell to Disney way back in 1990, even farther back in time.  Even Disney’s recent attempt to reboot Muppet Babies has proven to be anything but enjoyable.  One can’t help but wonder how Henson would feel today if he were around and had sold to Disney all those years ago.  For all the damage that Disney has done to Jim Henson’s legacy and that of his creations, it luckily didn’t get full control of everything that The Jim Henson Company does.  That is evidenced in the form of the PBS Kids series Dinosaur Train, Sid The Science Kid and its newest creation, Splash and Bubbles.  The latter of that group debuted on PBS Kids only two years ago and has already gone on to become one of the network’s top 5 most popular series, even finally seeing its first DVD release last week.  The relatively young series even received its own soundtrack accompaniment as the month of June opened thanks to Music Film Recordings, Varese Sarabande, The Jim Henson Company and Herschend Studios.  The 22-song record is the first of its kind for any PBS Kids series.  Keeping that in mind, it shows that the network’s other shows could easily compete with Disney’s TV show soundtracks.  This is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The record’s lyrical themes also support that statement and will be discussed later.  The record’s sequencing supports that statement just as much as the lyrical themes and musical arrangements.  Each element is pivotal in its own right in proving the viability of soundtracks from PBS Kids’ shows.  All things considered, they make Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the ReefSongs From Season One a strong first ever effort in what could be a bright musical future for PBS and PBS Kids.

Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the ReefSongs From Season One is an intriguing new offering for fans of the family favorite PBS Kids series.  That is especially the case considering that its release early this month marked the first time that any PBS Kids series has seen a soundtrack accompaniment to the show released.  Considering that this is the first time that such a recording has been released, it is a strong first effort that will entertain the whole family.  That is due in part to the musical arrangements within each of its 22 songs.  The arrangements, from start to end, are fun, old school r&b and doo-wop style works.  That is evident right from the compilation’s opener, the series’ title song.  The fund definitely doesn’t end there.  Case in point ‘I Never Knew About You,’ with its bass-driven arrangement.  It conjures thoughts of some of the great songs included in the Blues Brothers movies, especially considering the inclusion of the keyboards and horns.  To that end, this song’s arrangement is just as certain as any other to entertain listeners of all ages.  ‘Hangin’ With Friends’ meanwhile conjures thoughts of Jackson 5, K.C. and the Sunshine Band among others.  As if that isn’t enough, ‘Living It Up’ instantly conjures thoughts of Tina Turner while ‘One Small Ripple’ leads to thoughts of Diana Ross and the Supremes with its gentle, flowing arrangement and harmonies.  One could even reach even farther back with ‘Only in the Ocean’ and compare its arrangement to the likes of The Trammps’ ‘Disco Inferno’ and Rose Royce’s ‘Car Wash.’  That’s the case even despite the fact that this song is only one-minute, 41-seconds long.  Stylistically speaking, there’s no denying the comparisons.  Between these comparisons, the others noted here and so many others that could be made throughout the record – including comparisons to works from Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic and so many others – the clear old school r&b style sounds exhibited throughout this record are sure to entertain adults just as much as their younger counterparts, if not more so.  To that end, one must admit that the record’s collective arrangements are critical in their own right to its presentation.  While they obviously play a key part in the album’s whole, they are not – again, collectively – its only important element.  The album’s lyrical themes are just as important to note here as the record’s arrangements.

The lyrical themes expressed throughout Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the Reef Songs From Season One present their own share of variance, just as with the record’s arrangements.  ‘My Best Friend Ever’ and ‘Hangin’ With Friends’ obviously present the theme of friendship.  ‘I Never Knew About You’ promotes diversity and taking the time to learn about others (I.E. tolerance).  In a time when it seems that xenophobia and racism have so overtly returned to the fore of society, such a theme is not just welcome, but needed as a reminder for children and adults alike.  On a much lighter note, ‘I Don’t Know What I’m Doing,’ – in its own way – seems to promote taking life as it comes and not being so serious about every little thing.  It’s not saying to be carefree about everything, but to not be so serious about everything because being a little bit looser makes life better.  While there are plenty of life lessons presented in the featured songs, there is also an emphasis on caring for the environment in the form of ‘Reeftown Rangers’ and ‘Keep It Clean.’  There are even biology lessons of sorts in the forms of ‘So Many Kinds of Fish,’ ‘Catch a Current,’ ‘The Changing Tide’ and ‘Seasonal Pond.’  Simply put, the lyrical themes featured throughout the record offer just as much to appreciate as the album’s musical arrangements thanks to their own variance.  This makes the album even more welcome in both the home and the classroom.  The compilation’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation, proving once more what makes this first-time effort a welcome recording from the involved parties.

Considering that Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the ReefSongs From Season One spans 22 songs and 27 minutes, plenty of thought had to have been put into its sequencing.  This is the case even despite the fact that the songs are not very long.  The longest of the featured songs – the southern gospel-tinged ‘Dark in the Deep’ – clocks in at only one minute, 42 seconds and the shortest – ‘Only in the Ocean’ – at 33 seconds.  By and large, the record keeps the energy flowing from one song to the next, slowing things down only three times – early in its run in ‘One Small Ripple,’ later in ‘And So We Celebrate (Coral Day)’ and in the album’s closer ‘Seasonal Pond.’  Other than those three moments, the record keeps things moving fluidly from one song to the next with plenty of mid-tempo and up-tempo arrangements.  It also works hard to keep the lyrical topics varied, so as to ensure even more, listeners’ engagement.  Keeping this in mind, the stability offered through the record’s arrangements does just as much to make this record a welcome companion to its TV series as its arrangements themselves and the album’s lyrical themes.  When all three elements are jointly considered, they make this compilation a fun, welcome accompaniment to its broadcast companion.

Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the ReefSongs From Season One is an enjoyable accompaniment to its broadcast counterpart that is just as certain to entertain grown-ups as it is children.  That is proven in part through musical arrangements that are deeply rooted in the old Motown sounds of the 60s and 70s.  Its lyrical themes present just enough variance – from friendship to environmental concern to general biology – to keep young listeners engaged and entertained.  The sequencing of those themes and arrangements shows that plenty of time and thought was put into keeping listeners engaged and entertained in this aspect, too.  When that thought is taken into consideration along with the thought put into the arrangements and lyrical themes, the whole of these elements makes the album in whole an enjoyable companion to the Splash and Bubbles series.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Splash and Bubbles is available online along with plenty of games, activities, printables and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/splashandbubbles

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

 

 

 

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‘Incredibles II’ Is More Proof That The Sequel Is Rarely, If Ever, As Good As The Original

Courtesy: Disney/Pixar

Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Incredibles II is one of the studios’ most anticipated movies since the studio released its debut animated movie Toy Story way back in 1995.  Fourteen years in the making, this sequel has been demanded by fans every year since the The Incredibles premiered, and hyped up quite a bit in the past year or so by Disney/Pixar in response to that demand.  That being the case, expectations were quite high for this latest offering from what is one of Hollywood’s leading studios in Pixar.  While this highly anticipated sequel largely lives up to those expectations – thanks to its story — it is not without at least one con – its pacing.  That will be covered later along with another of the movie’s positives, the work of the movie’s voice cast.  Keeping its pros and con in consideration, Incredibles II definitely lives up to the hype and is worth the watch, but is also more proof that the sequel is rarely if ever, as good as the original.

Incredibles II is an interesting new offering from Disney/Pixar.  While maybe not Disney/Pixar’s best effort, it is also not the studios’ worst offering either as is evidenced partly through its story.  The story at the center of Incredibles II picks up right where its predecessor left off, with the Parr family facing off against The Underminer.  The outcome of that instance sets up the remainder of the story, which sees the roles established in The Incredibles reversed.  This time, Bob stays at home and has to tend to the Violet and Dash while Helen goes out and gets to live the dream that she talked about all those years ago.  That continuity is, in itself a strong piece of the story.  The deeper evaluation of the family dynamic here, seeing Bob struggle (and eventually settle into a rhythm) as he tries to be “super” dad while Helen gets to live her dream this time is interestingly enough something to which so many couples can relate.  That’s because every husband and wife/mom and dad has gone through Bob and Helen’s situation at one point or another in life children aside.  From Bob trying to make sense of the “new math” with Dash to him chasing around little Jack Jack to Helen feeling like she has to run home at the drop of a hat, despite living her dream, every couple with kids has been there, trying to balance their lives.  This is just one part of what makes the story work as well as it does.  Writer/Director Brad Bird is to be commended for his use of a red herring to mislead audiences.  This is despite the fact that there is still a certain predictability to the story in regards to the villain’s true identity.  One has to appreciate how Bird managed to make even grown up viewers second guess themselves even just to a point in this aspect.  The only downside to the whole story is the revelation of how the villain’s plan was executed.  That revelation won’t be revealed here, but when audiences see for themselves, they will agree it is anything but original.  Rather it’s something that’s been done so many times.  Of course, in Bird’s defense, this movie is a super hero movie, so there are of course going to be some limitations in how the evil plot is executed as well as other elements.  Keeping all of this in mind, even with its pros and cons in itself, the story at the center of Incredibles II proves to form a relatively solid foundation for the movie’s overall presentation.  In turn, it alone makes for enough reason to watch this movie at least once.  While the story clearly does plenty to make Incredibles II at least somewhat watchable, it does suffer from one major problem.  That problem is its pacing.

The pacing of the movie’s story doesn’t make it unwatchable, but there is no denying that it does detract from the overall viewing experience at the same time.  The pacing really becomes most prominent as an issue around the final act of the roughly 2-hour story.  The final act takes place onboard Devtech’s ship, but is set up just beforehand.  That entire act could have been shortened without the story losing any of its depth.  It was as if Bird was trying too hard to appeal to hardcore viewers who had waited with baited breath for so many years for this story, and the end result was so much material going into the story that honestly could have been left out.  It leaves one wondering how many scenes, if any, ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor before it was all said and done.  Truth be told, the amount of material thrown into the final act (and even somewhat into the second act) makes the movie’s 1-hour, 58-minute run time feel every bit that long.  While it feels every bit that long, at least the pacing doesn’t make the movie feel any longer than that set time limit.  To that end, while the movie’s pacing is problematic in the grand scheme of things, it is not enough to leave the movie unwatchable.  It just means that when the movie eventually is released on DVD, BD and digital outlets, people will definitely find themselves thankful to be able to watch it at their speed.  Luckily for the movie’s sake, this is its only major con. Given, there’s also the issue of trying to figure out why no one saw Jack Jack’s powers in action at the end of The Incredibles in examining that pacing.  Were Bob and Helen not looking up when Jack Jack was fighting Syndrome?  Honestly, that is something else that deserves note.  That’s because of how much of the story is taken up by Bob dealing with Jack Jack’s growing powers.  They had to have seen what he was doing before Bob launched Helen up to catch Jack Jack after Syndrome’s plane was destroyed.  To that end, it makes the movie’s story and related pacing even more problematic.  Adding that issue to the overall presentation that is Incredibles II, it detracts from the movie’s presentation even more, and honestly does make one question the movie overall that much more.  Of course maybe Bob and Helen didn’t see Jack Jack or maybe they forgot.  It is conceivable.  Keeping that in mind, it still keeps the movie off of life support. To that end, the movie does have at least one more positive.  That positive is the work of the movie’s voice cast.

Audiences will note that save for maybe one character – Dash – the original voice cast from The Incredibles returned for this installment of the Parr family’s adventures.  This is important to note because it meant a certain level of familiarity and friendship among the cast.  That familiarity made for performances that were just as believable as those in The Incredibles.  Huck Milner is the only new addition to the cast this time out, as he took over from Spencer Fox as the voice of Dash, and even being the “new kid on the block,” Milner still held his own as the voice of the precocious young lad.  In fact, he makes Dash just as believable here as the rest of his family.  Audiences will laugh with joy as he tries to steal back Bob’s car (and eventually does, but for a good reason, not to give away too much) because of his enthusiasm and naivety.  In the same breath, Sarah Vowell’s presentation of the adolescent now teenager Violet is such that her character is just as believable.  Craig T. Nelson is spot on once again as the voice of Bob, who this time has found himself the stay at home dad, trying to control the kids.  His take on Bob as Bob struggles to settle into his new matrimonial role of sorts will have men and women alike laughing.  One of his best moments comes as Bob is falling asleep reading a story to Jack Jack, and Jack Jack ends up trying to wake up daddy.  Every dad out there knows that struggle.  The same applies as he is trying to make sense of the “new math” in order to help Dash with his homework.  When those performances are considered along with that of Holly Hunter (and even Brad Bird once again as Edna Mode), the collective performances of the voice cast gives audiences plenty in themselves to appreciate here, too.  Considering this along with the bigger story of the movie, which really could have used some more work (sadly) before being released, Incredibles II proves to be a movie that after 14 years of waiting maybe should have waited another year as it comes up short, at least in this critic’s view.

Disney/Pixar’s new animated feature Incredibles II took 14 years to finally see the light of day.  It was a movie that for so many, had been 14 years too long in the making.  The reality though, is that because of an issue with pacing and one major plot hole that could so easily negate most of this story, Incredibles II probably should have waited at least one more year, if not more.  Simply put, it’s a work that proves once again that the sequel is rarely if ever, as good as the original.

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Sherman’s Studio’ “Concert” Is A Performance Of A Lifetime

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

This year was another strong one for live recordings.  Between recordings released in bundles and those released either as standalone CDs or DVDs/BDs, the recordings that serve audiences who might have otherwise not been able to take in a live show, proved on both fronts to be largely solid offerings.  Given, there were some disappointments including Jane’s Addiction’s latest live recording Alive at Twenty-Five and the archived Les Paul tribute concert Live From Universal Studios Hollywood.  For the most part though, this year’s field of new live recordings — both on CD and DVD/BD — has proven to be quite impressive as has already been noted in the previous live recordings lists.  Keeping that in mind, it is only fair, having noted the best live CDs and best new live DVDs and Blu-rays to present one list of the year’s best new overall live recordings.

This year’s best overall live recordings pull from both audio and audio-visual fields, proving that recordings can be enjoyable in both arenas.  Topping this year’s list of best live overall recordings is PBS’ in studio “concert” from Richard Sherman, one half of the famed Sherman Brothers creative team, Songs of A Lifetime.  Slipknot’s new live recording Day of the Gusano is on this list, too thanks to the combined impact of its CD and Blu-ray presentation.  Of course while Alter Bridge, Jon Cleary and Experience Hendrix, LLC all released new recordings that were CD only, they deserve their own spot on the overall list.  Eagles of Death Metal’s new live recording Live at the Olympia Paris also deserves to be on that list along with The Rolling Stones’ new From The Vault offering Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015 — again because of the overall impact of its audio and audio/visual sides.  It’s just one more on that list.

As with every previous list, this entry offers this critic’s 10 best new titles in the category along with five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Enough rambling.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Live Recordings.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW LIVE RECORDINGS

  1. Richard ShermanSongs of a Lifetime
  2. Slipknot — Day of the Gusano
  3. Mumford & Sons — Live in South Africa
  4. Between The Buried & Me — Coma Ecliptic Live
  5. Jon Cleary — Live at Chickie Wah Wah
  6. Curtis Knight presents Jimi Hendrix — Live at George’s Club 1965 & 1966
  7. Eagles of Death Metal — Live at Olympia Paris
  8. The Rolling Stones — From The VaultSticky Fingers Live at The Fonda Theatre 2015
  9. Foghat — Live at the Belly Up
  10. Black Sabbath — The End
  11. Jeff Beck — Live at the Hollywood Bowl
  12. The Who — Live at the Isle of Wight 2014
  13. The Winery Dogs — Dog Years — Live at Santiago & Beyond 2013 – 2016
  14. The Who — Tommy Live at Royal Albert Hall
  15. The Dead Daisies — Live & Louder

That’s it finally for the live recordings categories.  Up next will be the year’s top new albums overall.  It’s going to be an interesting list, needless to say as it may well change before it even gets posted up in the next day or so, so stay tuned!  Also on the way is a handful of lists for the year’s new DVD and Blu-ray titles including box sets for families and for grown-ups as well as family DVDs and Blu-rays.  Stay tuned!

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PBS’ Richard Sherman Studio “Concert” Hits All The Right Notes For Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Live DVDs/BDs List

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Experiencing a live performance by one’s favorite acts is a special experience.  The sights and sounds — from the performance itself to the enjoyment and excitement experienced alongside other fans — come together to make the live experience something almost as magical as it is memorable.  Of course it’s not always that easy to have that experience because of work, family or maybe other items.  Enter the live DVD and Blu-ray.  These recordings are pivotal for audiences the world over because people don’t always get to see their favorite acts.  They also often prove to give audiences an experience that is at least slightly different from that offered in their CD counterparts.  Keeping that in mind, it is fully justifiable for critics to present lists of the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays as well as live CDs.  That is exactly what this critic is doing here.

This year, as with so many years past, Eagle Rock Entertainment has proven to have the majority of the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays, once again proving why it is the leader in live recordings.  Of course it is not the only label represented in this critic’s list this year.  Live recordings from The Winery Dogs, The Dead Daisies, and even famed songwriter Richard Sherman (one half of the famed Sherman Brothers creative team) are all on the list, too alongside new material from Between The Buried and Me and Michael Schenker.  Those noted recordings are all from other labels.  In other words, this year saw a healthy range of new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  With that in mind, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Live DVDs and Blu-rays.  As always, the list includes this critic’s Top 10 choices as well as five additional honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 titles.  Let’s go!

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW LIVE DVDS/BDs

  1. Richard ShermanSongs of a Lifetime
  2. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Live From The Fox Oakland
  3. Slipknot — Day of the Gusano
  4. Mumford & Sons — Live From South Africa
  5. Between The Buried and Me — Coma Ecliptic
  6. Black Sabbath — The End
  7. Jeff Beck — Live at the Hollywood Bowl
  8. The Rolling Stones — Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015
  9. The Who — Tommy Live at the Royal Albert Hall
  10. The Winery Dogs — Dog YearsLive in Santiago and Beyond 2013 – 2016
  11. Eagles of Death Metal — I Love You All The Time — Live at the Olympia Paris
  12. Sting — Live at the Olympia Paris
  13. Spock’s Beard — Snow Live
  14. The Dead Daisies — Live & Louder
  15. Michael Schenker — Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo International Forum Hall

That’s all for this list and still not all for the live recordings.  Still to consider is the whole of the combo packs and the standalone recordings.  In other words, there is still a list of the year’s top new live recordings overall to consider.  Also still on the way are the year’s top new albums as well as a handful of DVD and Blu-ray lists.  As many as possible will be covered before the year lets out, so stay tuned for all of that.

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.

Something Old, Something New Makes ‘Power Rangers Jungle Fury’ A Hit for Power Rangers Devotees

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The Power Rangers will go full throttle again this coming March when Shout! Factory releases the 16th season of the hit franchise, Power Rangers RPM: The Complete Series. The four-disc collection is currently set to be released March 27 in stores and online. That is still quite a long wait. Luckily though, Power Rangers fans do have another recently released installment to enjoy while they wait for its release — Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series. Released just last week on DVD, the series is another interesting addition to the long-running Power Rangers franchise. One of its most important elements is its plot. The elements that are tied into the plot are just as important to note as the plot itself. They will be discussed later. Last but most definitely not least of note to examine here are the lessons tied into each of the episodes’ stories. Each noted element is key in its own right to the whole of Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series. All things considered, they make this addition to the Power Rangers universe another installment that will give fans plenty to appreciate and enjoy.

Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series is a welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan’s collection. That is due in part to the series’ plot, and by relation its setup. In the case of this series, the conflict is set off by an arrogant, power-hungry student of the Pai Zhua named Jarrod. When Jarrod kills his master, he inadvertently sets free an ancient, evil spirit. This season is not the first time that the Power Rangers franchise has ever used an ancient evil spirit’s release as the basis for its plot. That goes all the way back to the days of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The manner in which the spirit, Dai Shi, was released is what makes the plot original here. What is really interesting to note here is that Dai Shi was released as a result of Jarrod’s arrogance and anger. It’s a sort of Star Wars sort of vibe. Given, it might not have necessarily been an intentional link to the long-running sci-fi franchise, but Jarrod being angry and arrogant, leading him to the proverbial dark side while the Rangers try to stop him makes arguing Star Wars’ influence on this series easy. Who ever would have thought there could be a link between Star Wars and the Power Rangers?

The plot at the center of Power Rangers Jungle Fury is in itself a critical aspect of the series’ presentation, as has been pointed out. Of course as important as the series’ plot proves to be to its presentation, one would be remiss to ignore the importance of the elements tied into the plot, as they play their own important part in the series’ presentation, too. One of the most important plot elements to note is how the Rangers gradually gain their new powers and tools. Over the course of the series, the Rangers learn new skills and, in turn, gain new tools and powers in the fight against Dai Shi and its minions. In seasons past, the Rangers gained their new powers and weapons when they were at their lowest. That sort of “earn as you learn” approach used here is a new approach for the franchise, strengthening the series’ plot that much more It is not the only one of the series’ most notable plot devices. Having the Rangers use a pizza place for their cover and their leader a man in his 20s are also key plot elements. In so many series past, the Rangers’ leader has been an older, wise figure. Having a young, carefree yet equally experienced figure as the Rangers’ leader adds a new touch to the franchise, breathing new life into the series. As if that is not enough, both the Rangers and even the bad guys get their own “teachers” throughout, essentially keeping the series fresh from start to finish, rather than just relying on one sort of conflict throughout. Audiences will agree that even with at least one somewhat familiar plot element, its new approach and the other new approaches taken this time out (including a number of other items not noted here) make the series’ plot and its setup pivotal to the series’ presentation. Those items, both noted and not, combine to make the series’ overall plot and setup clearly their own collectively important part of the series’ whole. They are not its only key elements. The series’ stories are just as important to the series as its plot.

The stories that make up the body of this series, and their lessons, are so important to the series because of how much they add to the series’ presentation. One of the most engaging and entertaining of the series’ stories comes as R.J. fights to keep his wolf spirit from getting out of control due to his battle with Dai Shi. It is in itself an original way for any Power Rangers season to introduce an extra Ranger. What’s more, keeping RJ from becoming that all-too-familiar reluctant hero that has been used far too many times before makes that story even more interesting. The Rangers’ own separate training stories that are added to the series are interesting in their own right, too. That is because they present the lessons of determination and perseverance while also serving as plot devices to help advance the series’ overall story. Other stories presented throughout the series feature lessons of friendship, teamwork and other familiar values while also not just rehashing stories from the franchise’s previous installments. The very fact that the series’ writers couple those fresh new stories with the familiar lessons instead of just rehashing previous stories and scenarios proves why those and so many of the series’ other stories and lessons are so important to the series’ presentation. They give audiences something new and something more familiar all in one package. When this is set alongside the series’ overall plot and its related plot elements, the whole of these elements does plenty to make this season of Saban’s Power Rangers another powerful installment of the franchise. That’s not even mentioning the work of the series’ cast in front of the cameras, the special effects and other items. All things considered, this collection is another that any Power Rangers fan will enjoy and appreciate whether waiting for the franchise’s next installment or just to have.

Power Rangers Jungle Fury: The Complete Series is a collection that any truly devout Power Rangers fan will appreciate and enjoy. That is due in part to a plot that while slightly familiar, is still original by and large. The elements used to advance the series’ overall plot add a second touch to the series. The stories and their lessons join with the cast’s work to make the series even more enjoyable. Each element is important in its own way to the series’ whole. All things considered, they make this latest addition to the Power Rangers universe yet another welcome release. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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.