TMG Scores Big With The Debut Release Of The Saint: The Complete Series

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group/itv

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/itv

Late this past May, Timeless Media Group, which is now officially part of the Shout! Factory corporate family, released the classic television series The Saint on DVD. The series’ release is significant because it marked the first time ever that the series had ever been released in its entirety in one complete set. It is safe to say of the recently released complete series set that with its release TMG has yet again lived up to its name and ever-growing reputation. Whether seeing the series and its new box set for the first time or seeing the series for the first time again, audiences will agree in purchasing it that it is a successful first time-release and potentially one of this year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. The center point of the set’s success and enjoyment is the series’ writing. This includes both the stories penned for each of the series’ one hundred eighteen episodes and the deeper elements of the stories (E.g. the minimal amount of violence and overt sexual content). The packaging of this first-time release is also of note in regards to its success and enjoyment. On the surface the packaging seems bulky. But considering the fact that TMG was able to fit all one hundred-eighteen of the series’ episodes on thirty-three discs actually minimizes the set’s packaging to a point. That will be discussed later. Last but not least worth noting of the series in its recent re-issue is its overall look and sound (its production values). Both the series’ black-and-white episodes and its colorized episodes look and sound just as good as in their original broadcasts and their previous DVD releases. They sound just as good, too. Such positive production values make every single episode fully worth the watch. Being so worth the watch, audiences will in turn see for themselves the positives of the episodes’ writing and that of the set’s packaging. In appreciating all noted elements, viewers that pick up the set will agree that it is in fact a candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.

The Saint: The Complete Series is an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. This is especially telling considering the fact that its release this past May marked the first time that the series had ever been released in its entirety in one complete box. The main way in which it proves itself such an enjoyable set is the writing behind each of the series’ one hundred eighteen episodes. The writing behind The Saint is so impressive in that it is completely unlike that of its fellow UK-based action/drama Danger Man or even the likes of I Spy, which would come to American audiences only three years after the debut of The Saint. One of the best examples of what makes this series’ writing so entertaining comes in the form of the Season Two episode “The Benevolent Burglary.” Originally airing on December 26th, 1963, this episode sees Simon Templar having to defend his reputation and at the same time, stop the burglary of a museum. Simon makes a bet with an old acquaintance that the museum would be burglarized within forty-eight hours but that it wouldn’t be himself that burglarizes the museum. He has the police on his heels every step of the way because they don’t believe he has changed. Those that have any knowledge of film history will especially appreciate the writing in this episode because it actually throws back to Cary Grant’s 1955 hit big screen thriller To Catch A Thief. It’s a fitting inclusion to the series considering that star Roger Moore would go on to star in equally similar adventures in the role of the famed spy James Bond after this series’ end. Later in the series’ run the writers set Simon in some more serious scenarios such as having to handle human traffickers in Season Six’s “The People Importers.” For those wanting something more familiar, there is a classic style story in Season Five’s “The Escape Route.” It is in that episode that Simon gets himself arrested so as to infiltrate a group of inmates and find out who is heading up a series of recent escapes from Princetown Prison. Very similar plots have been developed for other TV series both before and after. It has even been used as a plot element in a number of action and drama flicks on the big screen. It’s just one more example of why the writing behind The Saint is so important to its enjoyment and success here in its full series set. Simply put, the writing behind The Saint is so pivotal to its enjoyment and success because it didn’t stick to one style of story. It presented both fun, action packed stories as well as more serious story lines, too. That the writers would present such a variety of stories from the series premiere to its finale will keep audiences watching nonstop.

Thanks to the work of the writers behind The Saint, audiences are presented in the series’ first-ever full series set nonstop action and adventure from one episode to the next. The series’ writers show from one episode to the next that they never stick to just one style of story. There are timeless, classic storylines and more serious ones, too. The combination of so many different story styles will keep audiences watching from the series’ premiere to its finale. As important as the writing proves to be to the set’s enjoyment and success, it is just one element of the set that makes it so enjoyable. Examining the set on another level, its packaging should be noted, too. On the surface, the packaging of The Saint: The Complete Series looks rather bulky. However one must consider that the series ran for a total of six seasons and one hundred eighteen episodes. Considering this, TMG has taken it fully into account and given audiences the best possible packaging. Rather than just tossing in a bunch of standalone season sets, TMG has made the set as ergonomic as possible, combining together the series’ first and second seasons into one box, its third and fourth into another, and then its fifth and sixth season into their own standalone sets. Here is where things get just a little dicey. It is understandable that TMG’s people wanted to minimize the amount of space taken up within each set. But because of the set’s packaging, no fewer than seven spindles are left empty over three of the set’s boxes. One of those empty spindles is in the Season 3/4 box. Two more are in Season 5’s standalone set and four more are in Season Six’s box. Considering this, it would have seemed more logical to either eliminate those empty spindles or utilize them by combining part of Season Five into the Season 3/4 set and part of Season Six into the Season Five set. That would have ultimately reduced the size of Season Six’s box and cut down at least a little bit more. But as is, there is empty, unused space in three of the series’ four boxes. That aside, TMG’s people are still to be commended for having made the efforts that they did to maximize the use of the set’s space so as to minimize its space taken up on consumers’ DVD racks.

TMG and its employees are to be commended by and large for the packaging of The Saint: The Complete Series. Even though it looks bulky on the surface, it is actually a relatively wise manner of packaging. It actually saves a certain amount of space on consumers’ DVD racks. On another note, the work of the series’ writers makes this collection enjoyable in its own right. The writers behind this series crafted over its six seasons one hundred eighteen episodes that ran the gamut from classic action fare to more serious episodes throughout. As enjoyable as every episode proves to be, they would not be worth mentioning if not for the work of those charged with restoring the series’ footage for its presentation here. Thanks to the efforts of those individuals every episode looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original broadcast. Each episode maintains its original look complete with that grainy feel. Yet it is obvious that the footage has been meticulously handled so that the grainy feel in question didn’t become overpowering at the same time. On a related note, the sound is just as impressive, too. The audio in each episode has been tweaked just enough to the point that any volume adjustments made from episode to episode and from scene to scene are minimal at best. Yet again, those charged with restoring the footage even in this arena are to be commended for their efforts. The end result of their efforts is one hundred eighteen episodes that look and sound just as wonderful as they did in their original broadcast. because they look and sound so good, audiences will in turn be able to appreciate the work of the series’ writers throughout. Both of these elements set alongside the series’ smart packaging prove together once and for all clearly why The Saint: The Complete Series is yet another hit from Timeless Media Group and why it is also a clear candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.

The Saint: The Complete Series is yet another hit from Timeless Media Group. The recently released box set presents solid, entertaining writing from the series’ premiere to its finale. The packaging minimizes the amount of space used up on consumers’ DVD racks to the best of its ability. Those charged with handling its packaging are to be commended for their efforts here especially considering the fact that the series ran for six seasons and one hundred eighteen episodes. The work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here are to be just as highly commended. It is thanks to their efforts that every one of those one hundred eighteen episodes looks and sounds just as good as they did in their original broadcasts, if not better. All things considered, The Saint: The Complete Series proves in the end to be yet another hit for Timeless Media Group and one more candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-action-adventure/the-saint-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Timeless Media Group is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364

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Coogan And Brydon’s Second Outing Is Another Entertaining And Delectable Trip

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi Media Group

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi Media Group

IFC Films’ latest outing from actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan is one of 2014’s best new independent releases. The “sequel” to the duo’s 2011 feature simply (and aptly) titled The Trip, The Trip To Italy stands out unlike any other production released in 2014. It stands out primarily in its approach. It isn’t necessarily a movie in the most traditional sense. Though there is a sense of a buddy road trip to the story. That buddy comedy element is crossed with something that could almost be considered a reality TV sort of approach. The end result is a presentation that one can’t help but watch if only for that reason. The approach taken by those behind the cameras in presenting The Trip To Italy is just part of the whole that makes this rather intriguing and entertaining work so well worth the watch. Brydon and Coogan’s (sounds like a law firm doesn’t it?) jokes and impersonations throughout the trip make for their own share of entertainment. Nothing is off limits to the pair. No doubt the duo’s comic bits and discussions will have any open-minded viewer laughing uproariously. The last element of The Trip To Italy that makes it such a joy is its backdrops. There is no green screen here. There is no movie magic. Everything that audiences see is really the Italian countryside. In its own way, it could be argued that it is a throwback to the golden era of moviemaking. Together with the movie’s comic element and its overall presentation, all three elements make The Trip To Italy a movie that while not a movie in the traditional sense, a production that still stands firm on its own laurels and is one of the best new independent releases of 2014.

The Trip To Italy is one of the best new independent film releases of 2014. The movie, which ironically enough is itself a sequel, proves to be far better than any of the mass of sequels churned out by Hollywood’s Power Five studios last year. The central reason that it outperforms those movies is the manner in which it is presented. The “movie” isn’t necessarily a movie in the traditional sense. Yet the classic buddy comedy/road trip aspect is there. To be more precise, it blends that element with something along the lines of a reality TV show to make for a production that completely stands out from that mass of major name equels. What’s more, being that Coogan and Brydon spend most of their time either eating and driving, one could even compare it to the likes of PBS’ Rick Steves Europe. Go figure, Coogan and Brydon go after so many pop culture figures, movies, and more. But they don’t poke fun at Rick Steves even being in a setting that only encourages such jabs. That will be discussed later. Getting back to the subject at hand, the duo’s travels through Europe was compltely unscripted. It was just them touring Italy, checking out some of the country’s finest cuisine and taking in the sights all while making jokes and trying out their best impersonations. There’s no scripting. So while yes it is a movie, it also shows to be one third documentary and one third reality TV. That The Trip To Italy comes across as such an intriguing hybrid is plenty of reason within itself for audiences to check out this latest release from IFC Films. It’s just one reason to watch it, too. The jokes and impersonations shared throughout the its near two-hour run time make The Trip To Italy even more worth the watch.

The hybrid presentation of The Trip To Italy offers audiences plenty of reason within itself for audiences to watch the “movie” at least once. The jokes and impersonations that are thrown around throughout the course of its near two-hour run time add even more reason for audiences to check it out. Nothing is off limits to Coogan and Brydon, either. From Alanis Morissette to Sean Connery and Roger Moore to Al Pacino and more, Coogan and Brydon go after everyone that they can think of. There’s even a joke aimed at famed Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor. Speaking of public broadcasting, it is interesting that there was no mention of PBS’ travel series Rick Steves Europe anywhere in this production since the duo spent the length of the movie travelling the Italian countryside. Perhaps that was just too easy and too expected. It’s anyone’s guess. Regardles, the jokes and impersonations that are included throughout the “movie”–including a lighthearted jab at Americans’ tendency to use overblown names for themselves and their posessions–make for plenty of laughs and in turn, just as much entertainment. It’s yet another way in which The Trip To Italy proves itself worth the watch. It still isn’t all that makes the production worth the watch, either. The backdrops throughout the presentation round out the reasons to watch The Trip To Italy.

The comic element of The Trip To Italy and its original hybrid presentation are both key to its enjoyment. Both aspects play their own important role in the production’s enjoyment. While both are equally important, they still are not all that make the presentation worth the watch. The “movie’s” backdrops round out the whole thing and make it all the more enjoyable. As noted previously, it would have been so easy for audiences to make a comparison between The Trip To Italy and PBS’ Rick Steves Europe in watching this work since Coogan and Brydon were travelling the Italian countryside. It would have been just as easy for Coogan and Brydon to make jokes at that show’s expense. Of course that didn’t happen. Perhaps that’s because it would have been too expected and easy. Regardless, the backdrop of the Italian countryside is a major positive to the whole of The Trip To Italy. As subtle as it is and as little as some might think about it, seeing that countryside is just like watching Rick Steves Europe. It’s like watching a video postcard. There is no green screen. There are no special effects. It is really the duo travelling the countryside. It is more proof of the duo’s (and of IFC Films’) dedication to making the experience 100 real and believable for audiences. It is that reality of the “movie” alongside its original hybrid presentation, and its laugh riot jokes and impersonations that makes The Trip To Italy a trip that audiences will want to take more than once.

The Trip To Italy is available online now in stores and online now. It can be downloaded via iTunes now at https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-trip-to-italy/id900191598. More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online at:

Website: http://www.ifcfilms.com

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

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.

Shout At The Devil Is Well Deserving Of Its Recent DVD/BD Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group/MGM/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/MGM/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory re-issued this Spring a movie that is perhaps one of the lesser known wartime period pieces to have been released during the 20th Century. The movie in question is the World War I period piece Shout at the Devil. This 1976 film, starring Roger Moore (For Your Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker) and Lee Marvin (M Squad, The Dirty Dozen, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), is a movie that deserves a second chance and rightfully has gotten one thanks to the people at Shout! Factory. The story’s script is the central reason for it to get that look that it otherwise might not have gotten in its original release. The script’s premise is pretty simple to follow, which leaves plenty of time for action throughout its length. Also worth noting is the acting on the part of both Marvin and Moore. The duo’s on screen presence makes suspension of disbelief quite easy, thus making the movie that much more enjoyable whether one is seeing it for the first time or the first time in a long time. And last but not least is the movie’s special effects department. While the movie is at its heart an action flick, the over-the-top explosions and other special effects that are overly used in today’s movies are nowhere to be found here. It seems like a minor detail. But reality is that it is quite important in the overall scheme of things. Each of the factors noted here are important at their own level. Altogether, they show just why Shout at the Devil is one of the 20th Century’s more underrated action flicks and war-time period pieces.

When asked to name some of the greatest war-time movies ever crafted during the 20th Century, most audiences will likely rattle off movie titles such as The Great Escape, Schindler’s List, Patton, and other big name movies. The likely reason for this is that movies centered on World War I are so few and far between. Next to Shout at the Devil perhaps the only other movie centered on that World War I that most audiences will come up with when asked to name any is All Quiet on the Western Front. Odds are few people will name Shout at the Devil as a matter of fact. Given the chance to watch this movie, word might finally spread now that it has been re-issued in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. And one reason that word might spread is the movie’s script. The script behind this movie is pretty simple. It sees Marvin and Moore as Colonel Flynn O’Flynn and Sebastian Oldsmith respectively. The pair goes toe to toe with German officer Herman Fleischer (Reinhard Kolldehoff) in a game of cat and mouse across Africa. After Fleishcer and his men set fire to the village where O’Flynn and Oldsmith are staying with Oldsmiths’ wife and child things get very personal. That’s because Oldsmith’s newborn is killed in the process. The pair is then given reason to join forces with the British Navy to hunt down Fleischer’s battleship and sink it. It’s as simple as that. So it leaves one wondering why some viewers didn’t like this movie. Perhaps those are the viewers that should give this movie another watch now that it has been re-issued on Blu-ray/DVD box set courtesy of Shout! Factory. Perhaps a second watch will allow those audiences to see it more clearly and in turn appreciate it for that script, if nothing else.

The script penned for Shout at the Devil is central to the overall enjoyment of this period piece. Working in direct connection with the script is the acting on the part of its lead cast. There is obvious chemistry between Moore and Marvin throughout the movie. Their interactions show that. From their first scene to their fight when O’Flynn’s daughter announces that she and Oldsmith are going to get married, to Oldsmith’s reaction to being volunteered for the mission to find Fleischer’s battleship, their interactions with one another pull viewers effortlessly into the movie. Audiences will find themselves laughing quite a bit at the contradiction of personalities between the duo at so many points throughout the story. And even in the story’s few more emotional moments, they both pull off their parts expertly. That ability to interpret each scene and properly emote will easily keep audiences engaged and entertained. In turn, they make the movie’s roughly two-and-a-half hour run time fly by thus proving once more why this little-known movie so rightly deserved its re-issue from Shout! Factory.

The acting on the part of Lee Marvin and Roger Moore in Shout at the Devil and the movie’s script are both important parts of the movie’s enjoyment. There is one more factor to examine in the movie’s overall presentation that makes it a movie worth watching. That final factor is the movie’s special effects. Those that give this movie a chance will note that it is both a drama and an action flick. No action flick is complete without a certain amount of special effects. The problem with Hollywood today is that it relies far too much on special effects to make up for what is an otherwise boring film that lacks any real substance. The case with Shout at the Devil is the exact opposite as today’s movies. Given, studios didn’t have access to the resources in 1976 to which they have access today. Regardless, those behind the movie’s special effects used the resources at their disposal at a minimum. The flight scenes were obviously filmed in front of a blue screen as was the scene early on in which Fleischer’s battleship rams the tiny boat carrying O’Flynn and Oldsmith. But in comparison to other movies released in the late 70s, these special effects were actually respectable. They didn’t look so deliberate that one would end up simply shaking their heads at said scenes. And even the final scene, which will not be revealed here, kept the explosions to a minimum. They weren’t the over-the-top flash-bang-boom trips on which filmmakers such as Michael Bay and James Cameron go in their movies. Simply put, the special effects used in Shout at the Devil were used as part of the story rather than to make up for lack of story. And that balance with the writing and acting serves as part of the whole that once more makes Shout at the Devil a movie that any movie buff and military movie buff should see. This is regardless of whether said individuals will see the movie for the first time or for the first time in a long time.

Shout at the Devil is available now in stores and online in a double-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo pack courtesy of Shout! Factory. It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/shout-devil. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Timeless Media is available online at http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial, http://www.shoutfactory.com, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364, and http://www.timelessvideo.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it at 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.

Geronimo Stilton Sniffs Out More Family Fun In New DVD

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Geronimo Stilton: Intrigue on the Rodent Express and Other Adventures, the latest home release from the short-lived Canadian TV series, is another fun collection of episodes for the whole family. The new DVD contains four more episodes from the series’ twenty-six total episodes. Whether or not one is familiar with the Geronimo Stilton literary series or the TV series spawned from the books, viewers will all agree that there is plenty to say of this new home release. The first aspect worth noting in this group of episodes is its writing. The TV series is an import. But it will translates well enough for audiences of any age to enjoy it. The next factor to be taken into consideration in this compilation’s success is its animation style. One part hand-drawn and seemingly one part flash/CG, it still manages to maintain its own identity among the masses of full-on CG series that pollute the television spectrum today. Last but definitely not least worth noting is the show’s voice cast. Most viewers likely don’t know the cast’s names. But they will definitely recognize the cast’s voices. That who’s who of voice actors, the animation, and the writing all come together to make this DVD another from Entertainment One that is worth at least one watch regardless of how familiar one is with the series or the books on which it is based.

The first aspect of the new compilation from Geronimo Stilton that viewers will appreciate is its writing. The series is an import from Canada. Few may realize it, but there is a difference in the writing (and overall structure) of Canadian-based series and American television series in general. The case with this series is different, though. American audiences will enjoy the episodes on this disc just as much as their Canadian counterparts. It translates so well primarily because of all the action and comic relief tied into each of the four episodes. Geronimo’s globe hopping adventures echo hints of both Indiana Jones and James Bond in one. And parents will appreciate the pop culture references tied into each script.  Those pop culture references include spoofs of Agatha Christie and so many classic kung-fu flicks of the 1960s just to name a couple.  The Agatha Christie spoof comes in the DVD’s opening episode, “Intrigue on the Rodent Express.  It’s a reference to the famed story, Murder on the Orient Express.  The original story was written by Agatha Christie and is not only one of the most famous detective novels of all time, but was also adapted into an equally famous big screen feature.  The spoof of all the classic kung-fu flicks comes in “The Mask of the Rat-Jitsu.”  This one sees Geronimo getting caught up in a web of intrigue centered around a group of ninjas led by an evil mastermind bent on stealing a priceless mask.  Younger audiences won’t get the references.  But their parents (and potentially even grandparents) will appreciate the attempts by the show’s writers to reach them as well as their children and grandchildren.  It’s all a collective example of what makes the writing in this group of episodes central to the success of this DVD.

The writers that worked on all four episodes included in Geronimo Stilton: Intrigue on the Rodent Express and Other Adventures are to be commended for crafting stories that will entertain audiences of all ages.  The series’ animators are just as deserving of applause with these episodes.  They are deserving of applause in that they have largely crafted the cartoon through hand-drawn animation.  There were some potentially computer generated elements to each episode.  But by and large, it looks as if this cartoon was in fact crafted by hand.  There are still hand-drawn cartoons out there today.  But as many studios over utilize computers for their “animated” series, this series incorporating more hand-drawn animation than computer generated gives its episodes more of their own identity, which in turn makes them stand out even more among the masses.  The closest comparison that can be made in terms of the animation in these episodes is perhaps to DC’s short-lived series, Krypto The Superdog.  That it can only be loosely compared to one other series solidifies the originality of these episodes’ animation.  It’s one more reason that this new DVD is worth at least one watch.

The writing and animation that make up this latest compilation of episodes from the Geronimo Stilton animated series are both key to the overall enjoyment of this new DVD release.  There is one more factor that older audiences will appreciate in this latest collection of episodes from the Canadian import.  That factor is the series’ voice cast.  Most audiences might not know the names of the people that make up the series’ voice cast.  But they will recognize the various series on which the cast members work/have worked.  Patricia Drake is one example of this.  Most people don’t know her name.  She voiced the scheming Sally Rasmaussen (pronounced Ras-mousen) in Geronimo Stilton.  She has also worked on the cult favorite anime series Dragonball Z.  She also starred alongside Mandy Moore and Macauly Culkin in Saved as well as voicing characters in recent Barbie CG based features just to name a handful.  And fellow cast member Lee Tockar, who voiced a number of characters through each of the four episodes also has voiced characters in Johnny Test, Slugtera, and Max Steel and a number of others.  Having such experienced cast is important to the episodes on this DVD.  It is important in that it means the ability to properly interpret scripts and present the best possible performance.  That top notch performance means more enjoyment for audiences in the long run, which is exactly the case with these episodes.

Geronimo Stilton: Intrigue on the Rodent Express and Other Adventures is available now ins ores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FWQAOUS/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0N4SB5TCEE2XTG37PZRG&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846.  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.

Skyfall One Of 2013’s Top Home Releases

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

There’s an old adage that states something to the effect of the third time is the charm.  That adage has never been truer than in the case of Daniel Craig’s take on the revered Bond franchise.  When Casino Royale first debuted, it was met with mixed reviews.  That is because it came across more as a movie that was struggling to deal with the expectations placed on it by critics and the public.  In trying so hard, it lost its identity, and became more of a melodrama than a classic Bond flick.  Then came Quantum of Solace.  The second of Craig’s Bond films wasn’t bad.  It was just misunderstood.  Its problem was that it was more a sequel to Casino Royale than its own standalone movie.  Enter Skyfall.  This is the Bond flick that fans have wanted from the very beginning.  That’s even more the case now that this modern classic has been released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital.

Skyfall is the movie that long-time Bond fans have waited for since the release of Casino Royale.  This movie is a throwback to the glory days of James Bond in every sense of the word.  Right from the beginning of the movie, audiences are taken back in time with a classic Bond style opening credit sequence complete with musical number.  This time the opening musical number is provided courtesy of pop star Adele who recently won a Golden Globe for her performance of the movie’s theme song.  And go figure, she sings in the song’s chorus, “This is the end.”  For those who haven’t seen Skyfall yet, this single line is far more prophetic than anyone could realize until the story’s surprise ending.  In between the classic opening and the surprise ending, the rest of the movie is entirely classic style Bond, complete with a wild opening chase scene, and nonstop action throughout the story’s first two acts.  The story’s final act is the only downside to the entire presentation.  The buildup to the final confrontation between Bond and Silva drags on more than it really should have.  But the story’s surprise epilogue makes that slow boil forgivable.

The meat and potatoes of Skyfall is classic James Bond in every sense of the phrase. The action is much the same as old school Bond flicks.  And fans will thrill at the inclusion of a certain classic Bond car complete with ejector seat and guns in the headlights.  Yes, that car.  And then of course there is the classic Bond attitude on the part of Daniel Craig.  Rather than being the finely trained killer/agent with emotional baggage that audiences came to know from the franchise’s previous efforts, what audiences get here is a mix of Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery and his own attitude, too complete with the occasional semi-cheesy one-liners.  Combined with the story’s non-stop action and the constant references to the Golden Days of Bond, Skyfall quickly becomes the first true definitive Bond film for this generation.  All of these factors are discussed at length in the bonus features included in the movie’s brand new Blu-ray/DVD/Vudu combo pack.  Everything from the action scenes to the new Bond girl to the gadgets and more are discussed in the combo pack’s bonus features.  Those dicussions are made even more interesting with the inclusion of not one, but two separate audio commentaries that audiences can enjoy.  Both commentaries add their own extra insight into everything that went into making the movie.  For example, audiences will be surprised to discover that Craig himself took part in the movie’s initial train scene as it went through a tunnel.  That wasn’t a stunt double.  That was really Daniel Craig.  How many stars today are so willing to do their own stunts next to one Jackie Chan.  The commentaries offer so much more that audiences will enjoy as they watch this new home release themselves.  Keeping all of this in mind, it goes without saying that just as this was one of the best movies of 2012 in theaters, it is now one of the best movies of 2013 in its home release.  It is available in stores and online now and can be ordered online direct via the Fox online store at http://www.foxconnect.com/skyfall-14987.html.

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

Skyfall Is Bond Done Right

Courtesy: MGM/Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures

There’s an old adage that states something to the effect of the third time is the charm.  That adage has never been truer than in the case of Daniel Craig’s take on the revered Bond franchise.  When Casino Royale first debuted, it was met with mixed reviews.  That is because it came across more as a movie that was struggling to deal with the expectations placed on it by critics and the public.  In trying so hard, it lost its identity, and became more of a melodrama than a classic Bond flick.  Then came Quantum of Solace.  The second of Craig’s Bond films wasn’t bad.  It was just misunderstood.  Its problem was that it was more a sequel to Casino Royale than its own standalone movie.  Enter Skyfall.  This is the Bond flick that fans have wanted from the very beginning.

Skyfall is the movie that long-time Bond fans have waited for since the release of Casino Royale.  This movie is a throwback to the glory days of James Bond in every sense of the word.  Right from the beginning of the movie, audiences are taken back in time with a classic Bond style opening credit sequence complete with musical number.  This time the opening musical number is provided courtesy of pop star Adele.  And go figure, she sings in the song’s chorus, “This is the end.”  For those who haven’t seen Skyfall yet, this single line is far more prophetic than anyone could realize until the story’s surprise ending.  In between the classic opening and the surprise ending, the rest of the movie is entirely classic style Bond, complete with a wild opening chase scene, and nonstop action throughout the story’s first two acts.  The story’s final act is the only downside to the entire presentation.  The buildup to the final confrontation between Bond and Silva drags on more than it really should have.  But the story’s surprise epilogue makes that slow boil forgivable.

The meat and potatoes of Skyfall is classic James Bond in every sense of the phrase. The action is much the same as old school Bond flicks.  And fans will thrill at the inclusion of a certain classic Bond car complete with ejector seat and guns in the headlights.  Yes, that car.  And then of course there is the classic Bond attitude on the part of Daniel Craig.  Rather than being the finely trained killer/agent with emotional baggage that audiences came to know from the franchise’s previous efforts, what audiences get here is a mix of Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery and his own attitude, too complete with the occasional semi-cheesy one-liners.  Combined with the story’s non-stop action and the constant references to the Golden Days of Bond, Skyfall quickly becomes the first true definitive Bond film for this generation.  Keeping that in mind, it also has made its argument for consideration to be one of the year’s top movies.  With any luck, now that the people behind Skyfall have crafted a movie for ALL Bond fans, those same people will realize that “the end” is just the beginning for this Bond.

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Disney’s New Fairy Tale A Welcome Addition To Disney Fairies Franchise

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios announced before the release of its 2010 movie, Tangled, that the movie in question would be the last of its princess movies for the foreseeable future.  It noted that it wanted to focus more on male audiences.  This announcement sent waves through the entertainment world.  While Tangled may have been the last of Disney’s princess movies for the foreseeable future, young female audiences did still have movies aimed at them in the form of the new Tinkerbell adventures.  These movies have seen their own level of success.  Now another new movie has been released featuring Peter Pan’s fairy sidekick.  It’s called Secret of the Wings

The Secret of the Wings is another good addition to the Disney Fairies franchise.  The first thing that stands out about this new release is that it carries on the long held Disney tradition of emphasizing the importance of family.  The continued tradition is directly linked to the secret that Tink discovers when she sneaks across the border into the Winter Mountains.  She meets “The Keeper”, and another fairy who as it turns out, will change everything that she ever knew about her life.  The secret that she learns the first time she goes to meet “The Keeper” is only one secret.  As a result of this first revelation, Tinkerbell also makes an even bigger revelation at the story’s end.  That revelation is tied into another familiar element that makes this a good movie for its audiences.

As already noted, Secret of the Wings will impress viewers as it maintains the theme of family importance that the company’s older works have held.  There is another long held element that makes this movie just as good as its previous princess movies.  Whether it was princess Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel, or any of the others, Disney has always made its princesses relatively headstrong.  That headstrong nature has helped lead to change in their kingdoms.  Tinkerbell is much the same way in Secret of the Wings.  It’s because of her determination to overcome the old ways that change eventually comes both to Pixie Hollow and the Winter Mountains.  Of course, that headstrong nature is also the catalyst for the conflict that would eventually lead to the change, too.

The conflict caused by Tinkerbell’s determination leads to another positive factor for the feature’s audiences.  It teaches audiences about the values of not only teamwork, but also of friendship and the importance of family.  The value of teamwork and friendship is something that both male and female audiences can appreciate.  And in terms of the value of family, young female audiences will especially appreciate this message as it’s directly tied to the secret that Tinkerbell learns in this story.

The central themes of Secret of the Wings are important elements in this feature’s success.  They go a long way toward making a story worth watching again and again.  The computer generated world created here will especially keep audiences watching.  The lush colors of Pixie Hollow and the contrast of the Winter Mountains are expertly designed.  They come together to stand out quite well against Disney’s other CG based features that have previously been released.  The people behind this world’s creation are to be commended for that, as it’s nice to see a CG based movie that doesn’t serve as a mirror image to so many others in its genre. 

So much work went into bringing Secret of the Wings to life.  Both the writing and the time spent creating the computer generated world had to have been intensive.  There is one more element that helped to make Secret of the Wings a success.  That element was the voice acting.  The voice cast for this movie reads like a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers.  Veteran actor Timothy Dalton (James Bond, The Rocketeer) joins Anjelica Huston (50/50, The Darjeeling Limited, Martian Child) who returns again as the voice of Queen Clarion.  Dalton lends his talents as the voice of Queen Clarion’s love interest, Lord Milori.  They aren’t the only well known names on board for this ride.  Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kung Fu Panda, Kill Bill Vol. 1), Raven-Symone (The Cosby Show, That’s So Raven) and pop star Jesse McCartney are all on board this time around.  The chemistry between the cast adds another element of enjoyment for audiences of all ages.    That chemistry mixes with all of the aforementioned elements to make a feature that audiences will enjoy both the first and hundred and first time they have seen it.

Secret of the Wings is available now on DVD, DVD/Blu-ray combo pack and a four disc set including the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, a 3-D Blu-ray, and a digital copy of the movie.  It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com

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