ESPN To Debut New ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Trailer During ‘Monday Night Football’

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is giving audiences extra reason to tune in to Monday Night Football.

The network will debut the first full trailer for the forthcoming Stars Wars movie The Last Jedi during its Oct. 9 broadcast, which will see the Bears and Vikings face off under the lights.  According to a news release from the network, the trailer will debut during halftime.  Game coverage is currently scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. EDT.

Details have been scant about the movie’s plot ever since the announcement that the movie was being made.  What is known is that it picks up where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) locating Luke Skywalker.  The trailer that has currently been made available hints that despite Luke’s reluctance, she convinces him to train her while also learning some deeply held secrets about the force and the Jedi.

Mark Hamill returns to reprise his role as Luke Skywalker alongside the now late Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benecio Del Toro.

Rian Johnson wrote and directed the movie.  Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman produced while J.J. Abrams, Tom Karnowski and Jason McGatlin each served as executive producers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will debut in theaters nationwide Dec. 15.  More information on Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.starwars.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/starwars

 

 

 

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‘Soul on a String’ Survives By More Than A Thread

Courtesy: Film Movement

Late last month, independent movie company Film Movement brought the Chinese epic Soul on a String to audiences when it released the movie domestically on DVD.  The movie, which originally debuted in its home nation June 15, 2016 and domestically Oct. 22, 2016 at the Chicago International Film Festival, is a an interesting cinematic experience.  It crosses elements of east and west for a story that makes the movie worth at least one watch.  The story will be discussed shortly.  While the story itself makes the movie worth at least one watch, its pacing sadly detracts quite a bit from the movie’s overall presentation.  It will be discussed later.  While it takes away quite a bit from the movie’s presentation, the movie’s stunning cinematography makes up for that pacing and makes it at least somewhat bearable.  It will be discussed later, too.  Each element is key to the overall presentation of Soul on a String.  All things considered, the movie survives by more than a thread.

China’s imported epic journey of self-discovery Soul on a String is one of 2017’s most intriguing independent home releases.  Released domestically by Film Movement, the movie follows one man’s journey of redemption as he tries to return a sacred stone to its rightful place.  If this sounds oddly familiar, it should.  Disney’s hit animated movie Moana presents a very similar story, just with some minor changes.  In the case of the latter movie, the protagonist is a young woman on a coming-of-age journey as she travels to return a sacred stone to its rightful place.  Considering that Soul on a String came along first (Moana debuted Nov. 23, 2016 domestically, roughly five months after Soul on a String debuted in China), one can’t help but wonder about the connection between the two.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the story at the center of Soul on a String is in itself reason enough to give this movie at least one watch.  Audiences will be moved by Tabei’s personal growth over the course of his journey.  He starts out a very reluctant figure, wanting nothing to do with the journey or his two unlikely companions who join him along the way.  However, as his journey progresses, Tabei becomes more welcoming of them and grows personally, accepting even more his journey and fate.  That growth over time makes the problematic pacing of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie almost bearable.  Speaking of that pacing, it is the movie’s one major negative.  It is a major issue for the movie’s presentation, too.

The pacing of Soul on a String’s story is the movie’s only real notable negative.  That may not seem like much on the surface, but in the grand scheme of the movie’s two hour, twenty-two minute run time, it is extremely problematic.  Obviously the story’s intent is to follow Tabei on his long journey.  However, the story’s pacing plods along at points nearly at a snail’s pace, making one quite encouraged to fast forward through those many points.  In defense of the movie’s writing team of Zhaxidawa and writer/director Yang Zhang, the movie’s oftentimes dragging pace could have been fully intentional as a means to illustrate the length of Tabei’s journey.  If that is the case, then it definitely leaves viewers feeling like they are right there on that expansive journey.  Regardless of whether or not that was the intent, the pacing’s problematic nature cannot be ignored.  That is especially the case when there is so little actual action to the story.  Luckily, as problematic as the story’s pacing is, it is not enough of a problem that it makes the movie unwatchable.  The movie’s cinematography makes that plodding pace at least somewhat bearable.

Soul on a String won the “Best Cinematography” award at the Shanghai International Film Festival last year at the film’s Chinese debut.  That win was fully justified, too.  From start to finish, those behind the cameras and those charged with putting those shots together did an exceptional job of setting each of the movie’s scenes.  The vast expanses with their rich colors (both on land and in sky) are visually stunning throughout the movie.  The same can be said of the tight canyons through which Chung and Pu are forced to travel late in the story.  Each scene harkens back to the American Westerns which the movie strives (and succeeds) to emulate.  As a matter of fact, it could easily be argued that the scenes established in this movie actually outdo those in their American counterparts.  Audiences will revel in the juxtaposition of the lake to the mountains in the story’s final act and the natural beauty of the countryside throughout Tabei’s journey.  All things considered, the visual aspect of Soul on a String is truly the movie’s cornerstone.  It makes this Chinese import worth watching even more than the epic journey of self-discovery at its heart.  Of course when both elements are set alongside one another, they make the movie’s pacing throughout an issue that while clearly problematic, is also at least somewhat bearable.  Keeping all of this in mind, Soul on a String proves to be an independent offering worth at least one watch and that survives by more than a thread.

Soul on a String is a work that while definitely not perfect, thanks to its pacing, is one that is worth at least one watch.  That is thanks to its story and cinematography, which collectively ensure viewers’ engagement at least through most of its nearly two-and-a-half-hour run time.  If not for the positives that both elements prove, the movie’s plodding pacing would have ultimately doomed it.  That–again-was not the case, though.  Since it wasn’t the case, the movie ultimately survives by more than a thread.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available online now at:

 

Website: http://filmmovement.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/FilmMovement

  Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Film_Movement

 

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‘Rogue One’ Shows Star Wars Fans Should Be Concerned About Franchise’s Direction Under Disney

Courtesy: Disney/Lucasfilm

Disney and Lucasfilm’s latest dive into the Star Wars universe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not the worst of the franchise’s efforts to be released to date.  At the same time, it is hardly the franchise’s best effort, too.  That is because the movie, which had been so highly anticipated by audiences and critics alike, has proven to have more problems than positives.  The problems in question begin with story at the center of the movie.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the movie’s story poses some problems that cannot be ignored, the movie is not a total loss.  The movie’s stylistic approach is deserving of at least some applause.  Next to the movie’s soundtrack, led by legendary composer John Williams, it is the movie’s only other saving grace.  Keeping this in mind, one more key critical point must be addressed here in the form of the movie’s pacing.  This will be discussed later.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s overall presentation.  All things considered, they make Rogue One: A Star Wars Story reason for any true Star Wars devotee to be concerned about Disney’s direction with this franchise.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was touted by many as the franchise’s best entry to date.  Sadly though, a thorough investigation of the movie’s overall presentation reveals it in fact has just as many problems as positives.  The most obvious of the problems presented within this movie is its story.  More specifically speaking, the story’s setup is its real problem.  The story’s setup focuses on a young female with a checkered past leading a group of rebels to find the plans to the Death Star.  Along the way, an Imperial pilot turned…well…rogue (enhancing the movie’s title even more) helps Jyn and company in their efforts.  If that sounds familiar at all to anyone, it should.  A very similar plot was used for Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ story.  Given the female lead’s circumstances are different in the two stories as are the overall stories.  That does serve to save this movie’s story albeit only slightly.  However, there is no getting around the blatant similarities in the movies’ setups.  Taking that into consideration one can’t help but see there is clearly a lack of effort in regards to the story’s setup; a lack of effort that so many audiences apparently refuse to see.

The setup that is used in Rogue One’s story is an item that cannot be ignored in examining this movie’s overall presentation.  That is especially the case since the movies’ writing teams were separate from one another.  While the story’s setup is clearly a problematic issue, the movie is not a total loss.  The movie’s stylistic approach is deserving of its own share of applause.  That is because it exhibits an obvious (and applause worthy) attempt to throw back to the stylistic approach of the franchise’s original trilogy. From the costumes to the scene transitions, it is clear that those behind the lens wanted to pay tribute to the original trilogy and those who grew up with those movies.  That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that makes the movie’s stylistic approach so impressive.  The final climactic battle scenes throw back to the franchise’s originally movies in their own right, too.  That is exhibited as the X-Wings fly around the imperial attach vehicles and take them out and as the rebels on the ground fight imperial troops on foot.  Of course some of the scene’s bigger, over-the-top moments throw back to similar scenes from so many WWII-era flicks.  This takes away from the moment’s seriousness to a certain point.  That, however, is a minor issue at most.  Overall, the stylistic approach taken to this Star Wars story must be applauded. It shows an effort to bring back the look and feel of the franchise’s original installments while also pointing toward the franchise’s future.  Hopefully that balance (which was visibly missing from The Force Awakens) will be more visible in the franchise’s next effort.

The stylistic approach of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the movie’s one saving grace.  It shows a valid attempt to pay homage to the Star Wars franchise’s past and fans while also pointing to the franchise’s future.  It does so in a balanced fashion, too.  Sadly though, it is the only element that makes sitting through this 2-hour, 5-minute movie worth the effort.  Speaking of the movie’s run time, that run time feels far longer than it actually is.  That is due to the pacing established in the movie’s story.  As noted, the movie runs just over two hours.  The majority of that time—about 1 hour, 20-minutes—is spent building up to the eventual attack on the imperial facility containing the death star plans.  On the positive side, it doesn’t waste too much of that time setting up Jyn’s story.  It just spends most of that time sending her here, there and everywhere as she tries to find out her father’s message and then convince the rebels to go after the plans.  Things move just as slowly as ever in the story’s final act after Jyn convinces Cassian and company to join the cause.  Jyn and Cassian’s attempt to reach the plans, and the outcome thereof, seems to drag on almost endlessly especially as the battle outside the facility rages.  Even after Jyn and Cassian finally get the plans (the climax), things don’t pick up much, leaving observant audiences scratching their heads, wondering when and if the story will finally end.  It was as if the movie’s writing team couldn’t just leave well-enough alone.  That continued slow boil right up to the movie’s way-over-the-top and overly cheesy final scene makes one wonder how one kept from fast forwarding through the movie well before then. When these pacing issues are taken into consideration with the obviously problematic setup to the movie’s story, they take greatly detract from the movie’s overall presentation.  They take away so much from this movie that the movie’s stylistic approach becomes the only reason to give it a chance.  All things considered, there is so much negative to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that true Star Wars devotees should be very concerned about the direction that Disney is potentially forcing Lucasfilm to take with their favorite franchise.

True Star Wars devotees should be genuinely concerned about the direction that their favorite franchise could potentially be taking after watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  Though its stylistic approach throws back to the franchise’s original trilogy, its pacing and the undeniably unoriginal setup to the movie’s story do plenty to take away from the movie’s overall viewing experience.  The story’s pacing makes its run time, which barely tops two hours feel far longer.  The story’s setup is a near mirror image to the setup used in The Force Awakens.  Keeping all of this in mind, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story proves to be a story worth one watch, but honestly not much more.  More information on this and other entries in the Star Wars universe is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.starwars.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/starwars

 

 

 

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CMG’s ‘Lured’ Re-Issue Leads Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues List

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

It’s hard to believe but there are now only two weeks left in the year.  There’s still so much ground to cover before the year ends, too in terms of year-ender lists. This morning we move on again, staying still in the DVD and BD category, though.  On tap today we have the list of the year’s top new DVD/BD Re-Issues.

Included in this list are box sets and standalone DVDs/BDs.  So it’s a mix.  But it’s a solid mix.  Topping this year’s list of top new re-issues is Cohen Media Group’s re-issue of the 1947 thriller Lured.  The movie was one of star Lucille Ball’s very rare non-comedic roles, and she shines brightly in this movie.  The bonus commentary included in the movie adds even more to its viewing experience.

Speaking of bonus material, this critic took into account the re-issues’ bonus material as well as their packaging in assembling this list. It wasn’t easy.  But it is what this critic feels is a solid list nonetheless.  As a reminder, the list includes not only the Top 10 New DVD/BD re-issues but five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  That being said, here for you is Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES

 

  1. Lured

 

  1. Sudden Fear

 

  1. Return of the Killer Tomatoes

 

  1. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars

 

  1. A Boy Named Charlie Brown

 

  1. Peanuts: Snoopy Come Home

 

  1. A Scandal in Paris

 

  1. The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series

 

  1. Transformers: The Movie

 

  1. Bump in the Night

 

  1. Kingdom of Zydeco

 

  1. Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series

 

  1. The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series

 

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

 

  1. Beauty and the Beast

 

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LPS: Making Friends Is A “Little” Collection That Boasts Big Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios/Discovery Family

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios/Discovery Family

The Littlest Pet Shop is officially open for business once again.  That is because Shout! Factory Kids has released yet another new compilation of episodes from the family favorite animated series.  Littlest Pet Shop: Making Friends was released in stores and online earlier this month.  And there is plenty for parents and children alike to appreciate about this latest collection beginning with its episodes.  They are collectively just one of the collection’s important elements.  The writing behind each episode is just as important as the episodes.  Last but not least of note within these episodes are the musical numbers presented throughout.  Each element proves important in its own right to the whole of Littlest Pet Shop: Making Friends.  Altogether they make this latest collection of episodes another little collection that once again boasts lots of big fun for the whole family.

Shout! Factory Kids’ new Littlest Pet Shop DVD Littlest Pet Shop: Making Friends is another little collection that once again boasts lots of big fun for the whole family.  This is due at least in part to the episodes that make up the body of the collection. This new DVD, the series’ tenth, features five more (technically four since one of the episodes is a two-part episode) episodes loaded with fun for the whole family.  What especially makes the episodes themselves so important to the collection is that each one follows the same underlying theme of making friends.  That theme is presented in different ways from one episode to the next and will be discussed shortly.  That is tied into the episodes’ writing.  The continuous theme presented throughout these episodes is just one part of what makes the episodes important to note in this collection.  Audiences will be just as happy to note in this collection that all five (or four, whichever side of that argument one chooses) episodes come from the same season—Season 3.  Adding to that all they are presented in chronologic order for all intents and purposes.  Obviously not every episode from Season 3 is here.  But in examining the order of the episodes presented on the disc, they are presented in the same order as they appeared in their original broadcast.  All that was missing was the episodes in between.  Though, many of those other episodes have already been presented in previous LPS collections.  One can only hope that eventually after the series’ full four seasons have been presented in its standalone sets, the whole of Season 3 (and the series’ other three seasons) will see a proper complete release for true fans of the series.  That is a discussion for another time.  Getting back on track, the episodes presented in LPS: Making Friends prove in the end to be hugely important to the set’s presentation.  They are collectively not the set’s only important element.  The actual writing within the episodes is just as important to note as the episodes themselves.

The episodes that are presented in Shout! Factory Kids’ new LPS collection are in their own right hugely important to the set’s presentation.  One reason for that is that all of the set’s featured episodes follow one continuous theme.  The theme in question is indeed that of making friends.  Adding to that is the fact that the episodes each come from the same season.  As if that isn’t enough, the episodes are also presented in an order that is at least partially chronological.  Given, it’s not entirely chronological since the episodes that separate them aren’t there.  But in general, they are presented in the same order in which they appeared in their original broadcast.  All things considered here, the episodes prove hugely important to this latest LPS collection. Of course the episodes would be nothing without their writing.  The writing is what connects the friendship theme from one episode to the next.  At the same time, the stories presented from one episode to the next stand on their own merits.  In the set’s opener “Sleeper,” Blythe’s furry friends meet a new raccoon friend named Mr. Von Fuzzlebutt.  Yes, that’s really his name.  Everybody really likes him, especially one specific member of the group.  The thing is that this new friend is nocturnal.  So he spends much of his time at LPS sleeping.  This leaves Sunil and Vinnie to have to make it appear that MR. Von Fuzzlebutt is awake when he’s not.  The result is a story that has been done so many times before in so many different TV shows and movies.  One of the most notable of those others is the famed 80s buddy comedy Weekend at Bernie’s.  Keeping that in mind, the story at the center of this episode is one that will definitely entertain today’s parents (many of whom grew up in the 80s) just as much as their children.  The story behind this episode is just one example of what makes the writing within LPS: Making Friends so important to the set’s presentation.  The story behind “Why Can’t We Be Friends” is another example of the importance of the episodes’ writing.

“Sleeper” is a key example of what makes the writing behind this set’s episodes so important.  It is just one key example of what makes the writing so important, too.  The work behind “Why Can’t We Be Friends” is another example of what makes the writing so important.  Yet again here is that theme of friendship.  At the same time, the story stands on its own merits.  In the case of this episode the LPS pets meet a friendly spider named Webber.  Only not everybody is a fan of Webber at first.  Sunil, as it turns out, is deathly scared of Webber because of his own fear of spiders.  This is funny in itself considering that Sunil is a mongoose, who is much bigger than Webber.  It’s like the stereotype of an elephant being afraid of a mouse.  Of course over time Sunil learns those all-too-important lessons about stereotypes and pre-judging others.  Thanks to that lesson Sunil and Webber become friends in the end.  That story and lesson make this episode stand out clearly from the set’s other episodes even as it carries the set’s underlying, connective theme.  It is hardly the last episode that can be cited in proving the importance of the episodes’ writing, too.  The set’s two-part closer “It’s The Pet Fest!” is one more prime example of what makes the writing in these episodes so important to its presentation.

The writing within “Sleeper” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends” clearly shows why the writing in this set’s episodes is so important.  The stories stand out from one another but the underlying theme of friendship is clear and present.  It is just presented in different fashion within each episode.  That is a great thing, too.  They are not the only episodes to show the importance of the set’s writing.  The set’s two-part closer “It’s The Pet Fest” shows that importance just as much as “Sleeper” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”  This episode sees Blythe organizing a fundraising concert for a good animal cause.  There’s just one problem.  She didn’t file for the necessary permits in time.  As a result she has to make friends with her mortal enemies, the Biskit Twins for help.  It is yet another familiar plot element that has been used in so many movies and television shows before as is the case of a young person arranging a benefit concert.  Even though they are not exactly new plot elements, the show’s writers still manage to successfully keep both lot elements fresh and entertaining in this episode.  They do so by not only having Blythe bring in a band that is world-famous in the LPS universe, but also by having the LPS pets put on their own concert, too.  In the end Blythe and the Biskit twins do end up working and existing together.  And the benefit proves to be a huge success.  Blythe even gets a big new honor as a result while the Biskit twins are left literally high and dry to wrap up the episode on a high note.  Again, the episode presents that underlying, recurring theme of friendship yet still holds its own against its counterparts here.  That being the case, the episode’s story and its theme come together to show just as much here the importance of the episodes’ writing as “Sleeper” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”  “Room Enough” shows that importance, too.  Together with the set’s other noted episodes it shows even more the importance of the writing within these episodes.  All in all, the writing within every one of these episodes shows with full clarity the importance of the writing within the episodes.  They show why the writing is just as important to the set’s presentation as the episodes themselves.  The episodes and their writing are together not the set’s only important elements.  The musical numbers that have been incorporated into the episodes are important to the set’s presentation, too believe it or not.

The episodes that are featured in Shout! Factory Kids’ new LPS collection are undeniably important to the set’s presentation.  The same can be said of the writing within each of the featured episodes.  As important as both elements prove to be to the set’s overall presentation they are not its only important elements.  The musical numbers that are incorporated into these episodes are—believe it or not—just as important to the set as the writing and the episodes themselves.  The musical numbers are so important because of how rare they are in the grand scheme of the series’ four-season run.  It is obvious in the case of the numbers featured here that they musical numbers were intentionally incorporated into the episodes.  They were actually intentional parts of the story rather than just random mini-numbers thrown in for the sake of it.  They actually added to each story.  There’s a full-on pop punk piece in the set’s closer, and a more “poppy” number in “Room Enough” that will have viewers tapping their toes just as much.  For the rockers out there, the writers even incorporated a solid rock tune into “Sleeper’s” story.  In a weird way, it sort of conjures thoughts of certain musical numbers presented in Disney’s Phineas and Ferb.  Coincidence or not the similarity is there.  And it is fun regardless.  It is just as fun as those numbers and the others presented in this set, too.  Keeping that in mind, it should be clear just why the musical numbers incorporated in this set’s featured episodes are just as important to note as the episodes’ stories and the episodes themselves.  Each element is important in its own right.  That is obvious.  All things considered though, they make this DVD in whole yet another little collection that boasts once again lots of big fun for the whole family.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store.  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

 

 

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‘Elstree 1976’ Broadens The ‘Star Wars’ Universe More Than Ever Before

Courtesy: MVD Visual/FilmRise/British Film Company/Verax Films/Canal Cat Films/The Works

Courtesy: MVD Visual/FilmRise/British Film Company/Verax Films/Canal Cat Films/The Works

Forty years ago a little-known director named George Lucas started work on a movie by the name of Star Wars.  A year after he started work on the movie it made its U.S. debut and has since gone on to be one of the biggest sci-fi movies of all time.  It has also gone on to be one of the biggest movies in Hollywood’s modern history, making superstars of its lead cast, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher.  The immediate supporting cast of Sir Alec Guiness, Peter Mahew, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and David Prowse gained their own notoriety as a result of the movie.  Though, Mahew and company sadly never really became as famous as Hamill, Ford, Fisher, Guiness, or Mahew.  The same obviously applies to the hundreds of extras brought on board to help flesh out the movie’s universe.  Now thanks to MVD Visual, Prowse and a handful of those others finally get to tell their stories in a new documentary titled Elstree 1976.  This documentary feature is a powerful presentation that every Star Wars fan should see.  That is due in part to its overall story.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of those behind the program is just as important to note as the stories that make up the documentary’s presentation.  Last of note is the documentary’s bonus material.  Each element plays its own part in the documentary’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Elstree 1976 a Star Wars documentary unlike any other to date.  They make it one that every Star Wars fan should see.

Elstree 1976 is a Star Wars documentary unlike any other released to date.  It is a presentation that every Star Wars fan should see.  That is due in part to its overall story.  The story in question is one of the now legendary movie’s lesser-known cast members.  It is a story of actors who regardless of their roles, have never really gotten the credit that they deserve.  It is powerful in its own right.  That is because of the stark contrast of their lives to that of the movie’s famed lead cast.  It will move viewers to laughter at some points, and emotional pain at others, believe it or not.  The emotional pain is the result of the revelation of the stark contrast in the lives of the featured cast members to that of Hamill, Ford, and Fisher.  One of the program’s most intriguing revelations is that of the hierarchy even among its supporting cast and extras.  As audiences learn through the various stories, there is actually a divide among the movie’s supporting cast and extras involving who deserves to be at the Star Wars conventions and who doesn’t.  It all depends on the place of said cast members in that hierarchy.  The frustration felt between those cast members as a result of the noted hierarchy is interesting to say the very least.  One would never have suspected its existence.  But it is there.  In an even bigger picture, the contrast of the lives of those behind some of the movie’s most iconic characters to those of Hamill, Ford, and Fisher is just as eye-opening.  David Prowse is a prime example of the shocking nature of that contrast.  Prowse was the man behind Darth Vader, not James Earl Jones.  All that Jones did was read the lines originally assigned to Prowse in the movie’s production.  According to Prowse’s own words, he didn’t even know until after the fact that his lines–that he had recited–were replaced by Jones in post production.  He goes so far as to note that he thought his voice would still be the one behind the mask and was surprised by what had been done.  And now decades later, Prowse is not even invited to a number of annual Star Wars conventions.  He even notes that he doesn’t know why.  So he has had to live life largely anonymously.  His isn’t the only intriguing story.  Paul Blake’s story is another interesting part of the documentary’s overall story.  He is the man behind Greedo, the green alien shot by Han Solo in the cantina.  Yet even as iconic as the scene has become, Blake’s name is hardly known in connection to Greedo.  It is only thanks to the conventions that he has managed to build his fan base.  Again, his story is a prime example of the contrast of the cast’s notoriety and lives.  There are plenty of other stories shared throughout the program that serve to illustrate the stark contrast in the lives and fame of the movie’s cast.  Altogether those stories make the documentary’s overall story one that will both surprise and move Star Wars fans of any age.  It is a story that will put the movie into a whole new light for those fans and hopefully give fans a whole new respect for the movie’s lesser-known cast members.  It is just one of the documentary’s most important elements.  The work of those charged with bringing Elstree 1976 to life is just as important to note in its presentation as those interviewed to make up its story.

The stories that make up the overall body of Elstree 19976 are in their own right hugely important to the documentary’s presentation.  That is because of the new light that they shed on the movie’s legacy.  It also sheds a whole new light on the movie’s cast.  That new light is certain to create a whole new respect among audiences for the movie’s lesser-known cast.  It is just one part of what makes Elstree 1976 such an interesting program for Star Wars fans.  The work that went into bringing the documentary to life is just as important to note as the program’s stories.  That is because it is their work that audiences are really experiencing, not just the cast’s stories.  The program starts a little bit slow, at first providing some background bio information on each of the featured actors.  It seems unnecessary at first.  But as the program progresses, audiences begin to see in hindsight the importance of all of the background information that is provided.  Viewers are eventually taken behind the scenes of the movie’s production before eventually into the lives of those actors post Star Wars.  The program’s editing plays its own role in the story, too.  As each actor introduces his or her character, the editors present key footage from the movie that aligns with the actors’ main appearances.  It serves to help viewers make a connection, especially if viewers are visual learners.  Even the footage of the conventions is well placed within the related discussions by the actors in question.  The whole thing comes full circle in the end with the return of the actors’ action figures with the actors discussing the legacy that they helped to create right along with that footage.  It is a great way to complete the program and remind viewers that while these actors may not have the notoriety of Star Wars lead cast, they are still just as important to the movie as Hamill, Ford, and Fisher.  There are plenty of other pieces that could be cited in explaining the importance of the documentary’s actual production.  These are just some of the examples that can be cited in explaining its production.  All in all, every element of the program’s production shows why it (the production) is as important to its presentation as its stories.  Even as important as both elements are to this documentary’s presentation they are not its only important elements.  The documentary also comes with bonus material in its special Blu-ray director’s cut.  It rounds out the documentary’s presentation.

Both the stories that make up the body of Elstree 1976 and its production are important in their own right to the documentary’s presentation.  The stories give a whole new angle to the bigger story of the movie’s creation and a new respect for the movie’s lesser-known cast.  The production ensures just as much viewers’ engagement.  As important as both elements prove to be in the bigger picture of the program they are not its only important elements.  The program’s special Director’s Cut edition is available only on Blu-ray.  It comes with a number of bonus features that are not available in the program’s DVD presentation.  Why this is the case is anyone’s guess.  It honestly would have been nice to see all of the bonuses included in the Blu-ray presentation also included in its DVD presentation.  But that’s a moot point by now.  The bonus material in question includes feature-length commentary from filmmaker John Spira, extended interviews with the cast members, and best of all a tour of Elstree Studios (thus the program’s title) where Star Wars was filmed.  Each extra is fully deserving of being called a bonus in its own right.  Altogether they give an even deeper look at the Star Wars legacy.  They couple with the program’s stories and overall production to make the program in whole one that, again, every Star Wars fan should see at least once.  It may not take fans to a galaxy far, far away.  But it will definitely broaden the horizons of the Star Wars galaxy.

Elstree 1976 is hardly the first Star Wars documentary to ever be released.  It is however a documentary unlike any ever released about the legendary sci-fi flick.  That is because as its stories make clear, it is focused not on the movie’s celebrity cast but those that brought some of the movie’s most beloved characters to life, yet were hardly as acclaimed as Hamill, Ford, or Fisher.  The stories presented in this documentary will leave fans seeing the movie and its cast in a whole new light.  They will keep viewers engaged, entertained, and enlightened.  The program’s production ensures viewers’ engagement just as much as its stories.  This includes its pacing, editing and even writing.  The bonus material included in the program’s limited edition Director’s Cut Blu-ray presentation brings everything full circle.  It would have been nice to have that material included in the program’s DVD presentation, too.  But that just wasn’t to be.  So that aside, the bonus commentary, Elstree Studios tour, and extended interviews prove to be just as engaging for fans as the program’s main material.  It comes together to bring the program in whole and complete its presentation.  Each element is important in its own right.  There is no denying this.  Collectively though, they make Elstree 1976 a presentation that will definitely broaden the horizons of the Star Wars galaxy.  It will be available Tuesday, June 28th and can be ordered online direct via MVD Visual’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from MVD Visual is available online now at:

 

 

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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.

Fitz And The Tantrums Performs Live On ABC’s GMA

Fitz and the Tantrums performed live this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America.  The performance is part of the band’s live schedule in support of its new self-titled record, which was released earlier this month via Elektra Records.  Those that were not near a TV during the band’s performance can see it now here.

 

Courtesy:  ABC/Disney/BBGun Press

Courtesy: ABC/Disney/BBGun Press

 

The band is currently touring in support of its new album and will be in Clifton, Park, NY this Thursday, June 23rd.  The group’s current tour schedule also includes a performance in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 9th at The Fillmore.  Tickets for that and each of the group’s performances can be purchased online here.  More information on the group’s tour is available online now along with the group’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://fitzandthetantrums

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fitzandthetantrums

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/phispicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.