“POTC 5” Is A Welcome Return to Form For Disney’s “Pirates Of The Caribbean” Franchise

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

More than 14 years ago, Disney brought to audiences what was one of the company’s biggest and best movies of its rich, decades-long history when it released Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. That nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie, based on a ride at one of the company’s theme parks, proved to be its own enjoyable and successful action packed cinematic ride. In the years since its July 9, 2003 theatrical debut, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has become less enjoyable with each entry. It fell so far from the glory of that first movie that when it was originally announced that Disney would make the franchise’s fifth film, Dead Men Tell No Tales, much speculation was raised along with plenty of eyebrows. Every bit of that speculation was justified considering the problems with the franchise’s second through fourth installments. The reality of the franchise’s latest (and hopefully last) installment is that it proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable addition to the series. that is due in part to its story, which will be discussed shortly. The movie’s stylistic approach is just as important to note in examining this movie as the story itself. It will be discussed later. The work of the movie’s cast puts the finishing touch on its presentation. Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s overall presentation. All things considered, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales proves itself a treasure in its own right even with its problems.

Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Men Tell No Tales is a treasure of a movie, looking at the overall picture of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. That is because in comparison to the franchise’s second through fourth installments, its story brings the franchise full circle while also wrapping up the loose ends created over the course of the series’ previous entries. That includes its very first offering. This time out, Jack Sparrow has to evade yet another high seas villain who he wronged years ago all while trying to locate yet another powerful treasure. All the while, young Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites — Maleficent, Oculus, Gods of Egypt) is trying to lift the curse on his dad, Will Turner, much as Will tried in previous movies to lift his dad’s curse. Henry ends up meeting his own love interest Carina (Kaya Scoldelario — Moon, The Maze Runner 1 – 2) very much in the same fashion in which Will and Elizabeth met in the franchise’s first movie). The twist that the writers put on Carina’s back story is a positive because it doesn’t just outright repeat Will and Elizabeth’s love story, but gives it new life so to speak. Henry trying since his childhood to lift his father’s curse is just one of the loose ends that this movie’s writers wrap up this time out. It is directly connected to the reunion of Will and Elizabeth, which is also addressed in this story, in turn bringing the entire franchise full circle. What is truly interesting to note in those attempts to tie the franchise together, the writers even acknowledge, albeit briefly, the events of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. That very brief mention of that movie is actually a good thing considering how…well…strange it was.Considering all of this, the story at the center of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales forms a relatively solid foundation for the movie’s presentation.

Relatively is emphasized because there are some issues with the story that cannot be ignored. First and foremost is the fact that in the original trilogy, it was hinted that anyone who controlled Davy Jones controlled the seas. Yet in this story, anyone who wields Poseidon’s trident also controls the seas. It’s kind of misleading to have two separate ways to control the seas. Also of note is the number of scenes that likely could have been cut without harming the movie’s overall story. There was a handful of scenes throughout the two-hour, nine-minute movie that could have been cut, not only cutting down the movie’s run time, but also keeping the movie’s pacing from slowing at those points, too. The dual presentations of Salazar’s back story not once but twice is a prime example of material that could have been cut back. It would have made more sense to tell how Jack lured Salazar into the Devil’s Triangle when he was initially introduced rather than introducing him initially and then later telling his back story. Some of the early interactions between Carina and Henry could have been trimmed back, too. Given, two hours and nine minutes is not a bad run time for this installment of the POTC series, but the material that could have been axed made the movie feel almost two and a half hours, which became the series’ standard run time. Cutting the noted material would have easily cut the movie back to about two hours flat, but considering as quickly as the story already manages to progress, it would have progressed that much faster without losing anything along the way. Keeping that in mind, the movie’s story is not perfect, obviously, but it also is quite an improvement over the stories at the center of the series’ previous entries. To that end, this story forms, again, a relatively solid foundation for its presentation. It is not the movie’s only key element. The movie’s stylistic approach is just as important to note as its story.

The stylistic approach taken in this movie is so critical to note because it takes audiences back to the very first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The action is there throughout along with the comedic timing, prat falls and more that made Pirates of the Caribbean so surprisingly enjoyable in its first outing. The over-the-top drama of the franchise’s second and third films were largely absent this time out, too, making this stylistic return to form quite welcome. Jack’s unlikely re-introduction and the early island fight sequence between Jack, his crew and the British soldiers are prime examples of what makes the movie’s return to form so welcome. The big high seas battle scenes between Salazar’s ship and crew and those of Sparrow also show how this movie stylistically returned to the franchise’s roots. There are also the liens traded between Jack and Henry as well as other dialogue that returns to form just as much. Between the lines and scenes noted here and so many others not noted directly, viewers will find that the movie’s creative forces went to great lengths to stylistically take viewers back to POTC‘s roots in a new setting and story. Those efforts paid off greatly here, strengthening even more the movie’s overall presentation. When those efforts are coupled with the work of the movie’s cast, the movie’s presentation proves even more why it is worth the watch.

Johnny Depp and company entertain audiences throughout the course of POTC 5 with their performances. That includes funny moments such as Jack and Henry’s first meeting and even Barbosa’s men as they discuss Salazar’s escape from the Devil’s Triangle with Barbosa as well as so many other moments. What audiences will note in these interactions is that even these moments are themselves another stylistic return to form for the movie. The same can be said of the more emotional moments between Henry and Carina. Audiences familiar with the series’ history will agree very similar chops were shown between Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in the original trilogy. Thwaites and Scodalerio are just as impressive as the pair’s characters slowly fall for each other. Rather than just go over the top, the growth is gradual, keeping audiences fully engaged. That subtlety in the pair’s acting shows experience beyond its years, and shows the promise for each actor’s future. Even Geoffrey Rush deserves his own applause as he has to keep himself from being run through by Salazar. He shows a side of Barbosa that rarely had to be seen in any of the franchise’s previous entries, and did so professionally, too. It made those moments just as interesting as any other from himself and his fellow cast mates. Those moments in question, when joined with the moments noted here, make even clearer why the cast’s work in front of the cameras just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story and its stylistic approach. Speaking of those elements, when they are joined with the cast’s work, the whole of the noted elements keeps Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales afloat much more easily than its predecessors, and makes it honestly the series’ best entry since Curse of the Black Pearl. keeping that in mind, Dead Men Tell No Tales sees Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise sail off in style, putting a positive final note to an otherwise doomed franchise.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a positive final statement for Disney’s otherwise sunken high-seas series. It takes audiences back to the glory of the franchise’s first film both in terms of the cast’s acting and the movie’s stylistic approach. While the movie’s story does have at least one plot hole — which is more powerful, controlling Davy Jones or Poseidon’s trident? — and suffers from some minor pacing issues related to unnecessary scenes, it still is a fun story that easily allows audiences to suspend their disbelief. Each item noted here plays its own part into the movie’s overall presentation. Good and bad considered side by side, this movie sees thankfully, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise sail off in style, putting a much-needed positive final note to the otherwise maligned franchise. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Walt Disney Studios is available online now at:

Website: http://www.waltdisneystudios.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DisneyStudios

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Mortdecai Shows That Action Flicks Can Still Be Fun Without Being Dark, Gritty, Moody, Or Violent

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Twelve years ago, veteran actor Johnny Depp single-handedly resurrected his career and became one of the movie industry’s hottest commodities when he starred in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Sadly though, his career has been in something of a free fall since then. Few if any of the movies in which he has starred since have gone on to the same level of success as that surprise sleeper hit. That includes the now trio of sequels that followed it and his latest movie Mortdecai, which debuted in theaters earlier this year. As with those previously noted movies, Mortdecai was released to a rather tepid response by critics and fans alike. So why exactly did Depp’s latest effort fall so flat? It’s just this critic’s own take but more than likely the reason that it failed is simple. It failed in theaters for exact same reason that it has proven so enjoyable for this critic–its stylistic approach. More simply put, it’s an action comedy in a world overly populated with dark, gritty action flicks. While that doesn’t seem like very much it is an important element to note. It’s just one of the factors that makes the movie work, too. The work of writer Eric Aronson in his adaptation of author Kyril Bonfiglioli’s original book is just as important to the presentation in whole. Last but hardly least important of all to mention is the work of the movie’s cast. This includes not only lead star Johnny Depp but his co-stars, too. Depp’s own acting throws back (intentionally or not) to the work of Peter Sellers and even at one point to Dudley Moore. The work of his cast mates is entertaining in its own right, too. The cast’s acting coupled with Eric Aronson’s adaptation of author Kyril Bonfiglioli and the very concept of the movie being a shining beacon among a sea of overly dark, gritty, violent action flicks, all three elements prove without a doubt that all of this movie’s naysayers are completely wrong in their reviews. As a matter of fact, it proves in the end to be one of this year’s most unsuspecting hits.

Despite what so many audiences and critics had to say about it, Lionsgate’s new action comedy Mortdecai is one of the most unsuspecting hits of 2015. This surprisingly entertaining release is a shining beacon in a sea polluted with overly dark, violent, action flicks. That is the main reason that this movie is such an unsuspecting hit. It may not seem like much. But it is in fact an important factor to consider. In an age when Marvel, DC and others are competing to make the darkest, grittiest, moodiest, and most violent action flick possible without garnering an “R” rating, Lionsgate has taken the road less traveled with this movie. It has opted to take the elements that have made Marvel and DC’s movies so popular and traded them in for a much more lighthearted yet equally action-filled story that will also leave open-minded audiences laughing nonstop from beginning to end. Taking that into account Aronson and Director David Koepp showed through their combined work on this movie that an action movie doesn’t necessarily have to be the next Dark Kight Returns, X-Men, or even James Bond to be entertaining. They showed with this rather rarely used approach that a movie can be action packed and entertaining without being dark, violent, and brooding. Keeping that in mind, the approach used for Mortdecai proves in the long run Mortdecai gives hope that maybe one day audiences and studios alike will finally lean back to those stand-alone movies rather than rely on the ever decreasingly original and creative franchise flicks that are out there. Both of those aspects of the movie’s stylistic approach are equally important to the whole of that element. Together, they show why Mortdecai simply not following other studios’ action flick formula makes this movie well worth the watch.

The fact that Mortdecai doesn’t follow the standard formula used by other major action flicks past and present is within itself more than enough reason for those tired of all the dark, gritty, violent action flicks to watch it. Eric Aronson’s adaptation of author Kyril Bonfiglioli’s book Don’t Point That Thing At Me is another reason for audiences to check out this movie. Aronson’s script offers up just enough plot twists and comedic moments from beginning to end to keep audiences completely engaged and entertained. The twists coupled with the story’s pacing and its transitions are handled so expertly that at no point will audiences ever feel like they need a program to know what’s going on. What’s more, there is at no point any brooding or other material that would make it comparable to all the other action flicks out there. And the jokes that Aronson throws in are obviously not for younger viewers. But in comparison to some of the material churned out by writers of bigger-named movies, they are actually far less crass than the jokes churned out by so many writers out there today. To that extent, Aronson is to be highly commended. All of this considered, the writing behind Mortdecai proves once to even more length why it is such an unsuspecting hit. It still is not the last reason that it proves itself worth the chance. The work of the cast rounds out the reasons for audiences to give Mortdecai a second chance now that it is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Being that Mortdecai is not just another unnecessarily dark, gritty, brainless, explosion-filled action flick is in itself plenty of reason for those looking for something different to give it a chance. Writer Eric Aronson’s adaptation of Kyril Bonafiglioli’s original book Don’t Point That Thing At Me makes it even more worth the watch as it is loaded with laughs’ laughs that in their own way throw back to the days of the Pink Panther franchise. Speaking of that franchise, the work of Johnny Depp and his cast mates throws back to those movies just as much ironically enough. Intentional or not, Depp’s work as the movie’s title character instantly conjures thoughts of Peter Sellers what with Mortdecai’s overall personality and his bumbling ways. One could even argue that Mortdecai’s drunken presentation in his return from Moscow is a throwback to Dudley Moore. Again this is the case even if it wasn’t intentional. Given neither Depp’s portrayals aren’t precisely the same as those of Moore or Sellers. But the similarities are there. On the other side of the coin, Ewan McGregor does an excellent job of making Inspector Martland a completely despicable character. This is the case even though Martland is one of the good guys, interestingly enough. The thing is that he doesn’t necessarily make audiences hate Martland per se. Rather he makes Martland a great foil to Mortdecai at which audiences enjoy laughing in his failures. Moving on, Paul Bettany is just as entertaining as Mortdecai’s servant Jock. Considering the way that Mortdecai treats Jock, one can’t help but laugh at the pair’s relationship. At the same time, one can’t help but feel at least a little sorry for Jock considering that relationship. It makes for quite the surprise that Jock was in fact not the suspect in the end, not to reveal too much about the movie. Female audiences will be just as enamoured with Gwyneth Paltrow’s portrayal of Johanna. Johanna is the total antithesis of the stereotypical action flick female lead. She is a strong, confident figure. Yet she doesn’t come out and scream it. Rather she shows it in more of a reserved, demure fashion that will have audiences laughing just as riotously as the work of her cast mates. Audiences will love watching her handle Charlie without even lifting a finger. That subtle yet strong portrayal is one of the best of the cast. When partnered with the work of said cast mates, the collective body of work from Paltrow and her cast mates proves once more why Mortdecai is worth far more credit than it received in its run in theaters earlier this year. When set along with the previously noted factors, it serves to help prove once and for all why Mortdecai is not only deserving of far more credit than it received but why it is in fact one of the best new theatrical releases of 2015.

Mortedcai was panned by critics and audiences alike when it was released in theaters earlier this year. The only reason that this critic can come up with for its lack of success is that audiences have been so conditioned by the endless mass of unnecessarily dark, gritty, violent action flicks churned out in recent years that they have lost sight of what’s really important and enjoyable in an action movie. Not to mention the fact that Mortdecai was far less familiar with audiences than anything offered up by DC and Marvel in recent years. These factors taken into consideration audiences and critics that panned Mortdecai were sadly missing the enjoyment that it really offers. The fact that Mortdecai stands wholly apart from that noted mass of movies actually makes it far more entertaining than said features in this critic’s own view. Eric Aronson’s work in adapting Kyril Bonafiglioli’s original book couple with the work of the movie’s lead cast show even more why it is so surprisingly entertaining. It’s just too bad others didn’t see that. But hopefully now that it is available on DVD and Blu-ray those same audiences that panned it, and those that have yet to see it, will give it a chance and see everything that this critic has seen. If not, it is their own loss as they are missing out, again, on what is one of this year’s best new theatrical releases.

Mortdecai is available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray. It can be ordered direct from Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=Mortdecai. More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

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.

Lionsgate Announces Home Release Date For Mortdecai

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The annual summer movie season is almost upon us. And everyone knows what that means. It means another summer full of prequels, sequels, and remakes. Thankfully for those looking for an alternative to that mass of movies, Lionsgate has just the thing.

Lionsgate announced Monday that its new action/comedy Mortdecai, released in theaters earlier this year, will make its way onto store shelves right at the start of the summer movie season. The movie, which stars Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean 1 – 4, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Alice in Wonderland) Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man 1 – 3, The Avengers, Shakespeare in Love), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode I – III, Trainspotting, Big Fish), Olivia Munn (Miles From Tomorrowland, The Newsroom, Attack of the Show!), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Independence Day) and Paul Bettany (Iron Man 1 – 3, The Avengers, A Beautiful Mind). The story follows Depp’s Mortdecai after he is enlisted to track down a priceless, painting that has been stolen. It just so happens that Mortdecai is enlisted by his former rival Inspector Martland (McGregor) for the investigation. While Mortdecai isn’t entirely trusting of the Inspector’s intentions, he needs to the money both for himself and to keep his wife Johanna (Paltrow) happy. With the help of his servant Jock (Bettany), Mortdecai travels the globe, facing terrorists, angry Russians and much more as he hunts down the stolen painting.

David Koepp directs the film, which is based on the novel Don’t Point That Thing at Me from The Mortdecai Trilogy. It will be released via Digital HD and On Demand on Tuesday, May 5th, and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack on May 12 alongside a DVD + Digital combo pack. The Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack and DVD + Digital combo pack will include a pair of bonuses. The included bonuses are:

  • Stolen Moments: On The Set Of Mortdecai


  • The Art of Noise: Making Music for Mortdecai

Audiences can check out a trailer for Mortdecai online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_01JbPZD3g&feature=youtu.be and via the movie’s official website at http://www.mortdecaimovie.com. Both the Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack and DVD + Digital combo pack can be purchased via the movie’s official website, too. Audiences can also get more information on the movie’s upcoming home release via its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MortdecaiTheFilm. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks 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.

Inescapable A Nice Escape For Action Movie Fans

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group

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

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

Lincoln A Solid Biopic From Start To Finish

Courtesy:  Dreamworks Studios/20th Century Fox

Courtesy: Dreamworks Studios/20th Century Fox

Much has been written of Abraham Lincoln.  Books upon books upon books have been published that center on the man and the myths surrounding his life.  Just as much has been crafted for televised documentaries.  And even more has been penned about the era in which our nation’s sixteenth President led his country.  Now courtesy of author Doris Kearns Goodwin, director Steven Spielberg and screen writer Tony Kushner, audiences have been presented with what is one of the most gripping portrayals of President Lincoln and his time in office in the simply titled, Lincoln.

Lincoln was largely met with applause from critics and audiences alike.  Though there were those that had their qualms with the near three hour long semi-biopic.  Many of the arguments against the story were centered on the fact that the movie in fact focuses on Lincoln and the battles in the halls of the nation’s government.  In the story’s defense, audiences should remind themselves that this movie is not about the war on the battlefield.  It is about the battles in Congress over the abolition of slavery and bringing a final end to the Civil War.  It is a beautifully shot and well acted story.  However, those who have mentioned its sometimes long winded nature can be agreed upon.  Sometimes, it does get rather wordy.  And the story’s slower pacing might turn off some viewers considering that the movie comes in at nearly three hours long.  But those that are true history buffs and/or civil war buffs will easily be able to overlook these issues and enjoy it for its positives, which outweigh the negatives.

For the negatives that weigh down Lincoln, its positives outweigh those negatives.  The first of the positives in Lincoln is that it doesn’t get lost in itself throughout the course of its run time.  The story is meant to focus on President Lincoln and what was the most pivotal moment in his time in office; his waning days in office before his assassination.  The new four-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack home release of the movie includes the bonus feature, “The Journey to Lincoln” on both formats.  This feature is a welcome addition as Spielberg, author Doris Kearns Goodwin—whose book was the inspiration behind this movie—and screen writer Tony Kushner all point out in this feature that the aim was meant to be on what went on in Congress during the final days of the Civil War, rather than on the frontlines.  Having this hammered home so gently by all three individuals makes the story more watchable in comparison to the likes of Public Enemies which was also based on a historical non-fiction.  That movie was a mere shadow of the far better book.  It really was a movie that never should have happened.   This movie at least attempts to stay closer to the book on which it is based.  It presents less the mythical Lincoln and more the actual man, and what he faced in what would be his final days in office.

The story and its primary associated bonus feature make up just one of the positives to the new home release of Lincoln.  The acting on the part of the star-studded cast is another positive to Lincoln.  Even though there are some portions of the movie that are more drawn out than they perhaps should have been, veterans Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Tommy Lee Jones (Men In Black 1-3), and Sally Field (Mrs. Doubtfire, Smoky and the Bandit), all contribute expertly, making their parts fully believable.  Making their performances even more believable are costumes that are spot on.  While the movie may not have taken the Oscar for this category, there is no denying how impressive the end result of that work was.  Speaking of which, audiences that pick up the new four-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Lincoln get another bonus in the addition of a feature titled, “Crafting The Past” in the set’s bonus Blu-ray disc.  This feature examines not just the costumes, but also the production work and other more fine details of the movie.

The costumes and production of Lincoln are just as important as any other part of the movie that makes it successful.  There is at least one more factor to the movie that makes this the impressive work that it is.  That factor is the movie’s cinematography.  The shooting style us especially powerful in the movie’s closing scenes as the President surveys the result of a battle.  And the movie’s final scene (which will not be revealed here for the sake of those who have yet to see the movie), is a prime example of expert cinematography.  The transition into that scene and the final pullout are such powerful statements in themselves, and will leave any true history and civil war buff feeling completely satisfied after having made it through the rest of the movie’s emotional journey.  After having made that journey and having viewed the extensive bonus features included in the new four-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, those same individuals will agree that Lincoln is in fact one of the best biopics crafted in recent history, albeit only a semi-biopic.  It is available now in stores and online.

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.

Peter Pan Diamond Edition Another Welcome Re-Issue From The Disney Vaults

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Peter Pan is one of the greatest of Walt Disney’s original classic animated features.  This animated take on Sir James M. Barrie’s classic literary work may not stay entirely true to the original.  But what movie ever adapted from a book ever does or has?  Considering that, one is left wondering what exactly it is that makes this adaptation of Barrie’s classic story so timeless on screen.  The very first aspect of the movie’s success is a simple one that is echoed in the 2004 movie, Finding Neverland.  Johnny Depp plays Barrie in the movie.  At one point in the movie, he notes that once a person loses their childhood, their innocence, it’s gone.  Peter Pan really shows that Walt Disney was perhaps himself just a big kid in an adult’s body.  Thus audiences got the final product of fourteen years’ work that so many still love today.  Wendy’s father states before she goes off to Neverland that everybody has to grow up.  Sure, everybody has to grow up.  But that doesn’t mean that in growing up, everybody has to lose at least some sense of their childhood.  It’s that element of childhood after all, that helps establish the suspension of disbelief that makes this story timeless.

Peter Pan is the embodiment of the belief that while we all have to grow up, we should never completely lose our childhood.  That is the most important aspect of Peter Pan’s success.  It’s an excellent reminder both for kids and their parents across generations.  That aspect is but one part of what makes it timeless.  Another aspect that makes this adaptation such a success is its animation.  As is the case with Disney’s other early animated features, this feature stands out because of its entirely original hand drawn animation.  The colors used throughout the feature are so rich and vibrant.  They make the story feel “alive.”  By comparison, so many of today’s “animated” features are crafted through computers.  In turn, they all feel sterile and look alike.  Animation through this venue takes away any identity from said features.  But true hand drawn animation gives classics such as this one its own identity and life.  It’s a stamp of originality so to speak.  And it’s something that once again is examined in the bonus features included in the brand new triple disc Diamond Edition of Peter Pan.

The new triple-disc Diamond Edition of Peter Pan offers a whole new generation the same joy that was offered to their parents and grandparents.  The inclusion of the bonus features will also offer a whole new appreciation to parents who originally watched it as kids themselves.  It discusses the importance of the hand drawn animation through the new feature, “Growing Up With Nine Old Men.”  This feature is a culmination of sorts from bonus features on previous Disney re-issues.  It offers a glimpse at the lives of Disney’s famed “Nine Old Men” from the vantage point of those who were closest to them; their own children.  Their children discuss the hard work and long hours put into making Disney’s classic films, Peter Pan included.  Audiences will appreciate learning that one of the “Nine Old Men” was not just an illustrator, but a true artist.  He was a painter outside of his job.  His daughter explains his attention to detail in his paintings just as he did with his art for Disney’s films.  It’s just one of the bonus features that audiences will appreciate with this latest re-issue.

If the discussion on Disney’s “Nine Old Men” wasn’t enough to earn new appreciation for Peter Pan, perhaps the short feature on Tinkerbell, “Tinkerbell: A Fairy’s Tale” will do the trick.  Audiences get a glimpse into the woman who was the original inspiration for Tinkerbell as well as Tinkerbell herself being an example of a progressive woman.  As is noted, she represented a very independent, strong and strong willed woman who would eventually become the basis for so many of Disney’s modern princesses.  As short as this feature is, had a person not watched it before, then watching it now with the movie’s new re-issue will show just how far ahead of everything this movie is simply through this factor.  And hopefully it will develop a new appreciation among audiences who had otherwise never considered Tinkerbell’s overall importance before.  It’s just one more of so many features included in the new re-issue that exemplify why Peter Pan always has been and always will be a timeless family film both in the world of Disney and in the movie industry as a whole.

The brand new triple-disc diamond edition of Peter Pan will be available next Tuesday, February 5th.  It will be available in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com

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