MLB Productions Releasing New Babe Ruth Documentary This Spring

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/A&E Networks/A&E Home Video/MLB Productions

Courtesy: Lionsgate/A&E Networks/A&E Home Video/MLB Productions

This spring, MLB Productions will examine the life and career of one of baseball’s greatest figures when it releases American Hercules: Babe Ruth.

American Hercules: Babe Ruth will be released on DVD on Tuesday, May 19th. It will be released in partnership with Lionsgate and A&E Networks. The film, narrated by veteran actor Martin Sheen, examines Ruth’s life and career from his early days as a youth in Baltimore to his time as a member of both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Along the way, it examines why Ruth remains such a revered figure among both baseball players and fans alike to this day. It does all of this through the use of new psychological and historical perspectives on Ruth the man and Ruth the legend.

American Hercules: Babe Ruth will retail for MSRP of $19.98. It can be ordered online via MLB Production’s online store at http://shop.mlb.com. More information on this and other titles from MLB Productions is available online now at:

Website: http://mlbproductions.com

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

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.

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.

Dying Of The Light Is One Of Nicholas Cage’s Rare Hits

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Nicholas Cage has never been known as one of Hollywood’s top names over the course of his career. Cage has some hits under his belt including the likes of the National Treasure franchise, Amos & Andy, and Face/Off just to name a handful. He has also had his share of misses throughout this career. Some of his lesser films include the likes of Bringing out the Dead, Family Man, and Marvel’s Ghost Rider franchise among so many others. Left Behind one of his most recent works was soundly panned by both members of the press and audiences. That movie was released just last year alongside his rather intriguing anti-action/thriller of sorts Dying of the Light. Dying of the Light, released via Lionsgate, is the polar opposite of so many thrillers currently in the market today. One could argue in watching Dying of the Light that it is in fact less an action/thriller and more an allegory of man’s own fight against his own mortality. That argument could be made through just one watch. Writer/director Paul Schrader just happened to use a typical action/thriller backdrop as a means to tell his allegory. Schrader balanced both elements relatively well in his script, proving why the script is the central reason audiences should watch Dying of the Light at least once. Adding to the reasons to check out Dying of the Light is the companion material included as bonuses. The interviews with Schrader, Cage, and his cast mates are the most important of the movie’s bonuses as they shed extra light on the movie and everyone’s reasoning for taking on the project. The deleted scenes are just as important to the whole, as audiences will see. They add their own interest to the story, too. Both of these elements strengthen the argument that a movie, which might not have done so well in theaters, could prove to be better than thought in its home release. Last but not least worth noting of the movie is its pacing. There are some that seem to feel the pacing was choppy at best. But that isn’t the case. The story’s pacing is at a rate that will leave no one feeling (pardon the pun) left behind. Being that no viewer will feel lost, audiences will in turn have an easier time following Schrader’s story and hopefully see for themselves that regardless of fondness for cage or his works, that Dying of the Light is still a movie worth at least one watch.

Dying of the Light is easily one of the most intriguing works in which Nicholas Cage has ever starred. That is saying quite a bit considering his decades-long body of work. Depending on who one asks, this could be good, bad, or a little bit of both. The very fact that responses are so varied proves that Dying of the Light is a movie worth at least one watch, regardless of one’s opinion of Nicholas Cage and his body of work. The central reason that opinions have proven to be so mixed is the movie’s script. A single glance at the story’s synopsis leads one to think that Dying of the Light is an action/thriller. But the reality of the movie is that it is in fact more a deeply introspective drama and an allegory about man’s fight against his own mortality. The script sees Cage’s Evan Lake in an Ahab-esque situation, hunting down a terrorist who years before had held him captive and tortured him all while Lake was fighting his own deteriorating mental state. More specifically, Lake is falling victim to dementia. On the other side, the terrorist, Muhammad Banir (Aleander Karim), is revealed to be fighting his own end as his health is also worsening. Because both men are suffering from their own debilitating conditions, it leads to a showdown that no one would have expected. That first encounter isn’t the pair’s last either, not to give away too much. Banir’s assertion as to why he had been so hard to find surprisingly makes one actually feel a certain amount of sympathy for him just as much as for Lake as he battles his own ailment. While it is central to the success of the movie’s script, it is only one part of what makes the script so important to the presentation in whole. There are other subtle elements of the script that should be noted, too such as the story’s overall low level of violence and its equally subtle filling of what could have been one major plot hole. Both of these elements should be noted, too in the whole of the movie’s script.

The story of Lake and Banir fighting their own internal battles all while facing off against one another is central to the success of Dying of the Light. While it is key to the script’s success, there are more subtle elements to the whole that makes the script work as well as it does. Schrader’s avoids in his script, the violence that is all too common to most action flicks. That isn’t to say that there is no violence in the script. But the nonstop shoot-em-up scenes and explosions that are standard in those movies are nearly nonexistent here. There is only one major gunfight scene. And then there is the movie’s final minutes, which again won’t be given away here. Even there, the script could have called for much more violence and bloodshed. But Schrader avoided that. To that end, it makes the movie that much more worth the watch. On a related note, there is a scene in which Evan and his protégé Milton Schulz (Anton Yelchin) are discussing how lake would get close enough to Banir. Lake points out that he knows he would be frisked so he can’t just go up into Banir’s place and shoot it up. In only a matter of lines, Schrader has managed to fill what would have otherwise been a major plot hole with the utmost ease. Schader’s handling of both elements combines with his handling of the script’s central story to prove unquestionably why the script is key to the success of Dying of the Light and in turn why the script makes the movie worth at least one watch.

The work that went into bringing to life Dying of the Light’s script proved worth it in the end. That is because the script behind this movie makes it well worth at least one watch. It is just one part of what makes the movie worth the watch, though. Now that it has come home on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo, it can be said that the bonus material included with the movie makes the movie even more worth the watch. The bonus deleted scenes and interviews with Schrader, Cage, and his cast mates are most worth noting. More often than not, deleted scenes included with movies in their home releases are more or less obligatory additions to said releases. In the case of Dying of the Light the movie’s deleted scenes actually make the movie all the more worth the watch. Those that watch the movie and then its deleted scenes will see a number of scenes that were justifiably cut from the final film and those that really should have been kept it. It’s rare to say such a thing about any movie’s deleted scenes. But it is true in this case. The bonus interviews give even more insight not just into the movie but what drew each individual involved in the film to said work. Also discussed are the thoughts of the cast members regarding one another. Given the remarks in question seem rehearsed at points. But at others, they actually seem genuine. So either way one looks at it, the bonus features included with Dying of the Light still prove in the long run to be collectively just as important to the movie’s success as its script. And as important as both elements prove to be to the movie in whole, there is still one more piece of the puzzle to analyze here. That last piece is the movie’s pacing.

The pacing of the story behind Dying of the Light has been noted by some viewers to be choppy. That is rather interesting considering that in this critic’s view, that is hardly the case. As a matter of fact, the story’s pacing is such that no viewer will be felt *ahem* left behind. As a mater of fact, the story moves at what feels like a rather standard pace, especially in comparison to other more well-known action/thrillers and dramas. The story’s clear scene transitions help with that, too. Because the scene transitions are so clear and the story’s pacing is in fact so stable it rounds back to the movie’s script again, making the movie overall more accessible for audiences. That accessibility makes easier the appreciation of the script for all of its minutia, from the minor details of the writing to the scene transitions themselves and more. The end result of that appreciation is the realization once again that Dying of the Light is indeed a movie well worth at least one watch.

Whether for its script, the bonus material included in its recent home release, or for its pacing, Dying of the Light proves in the end to be one of Nicholas Cage’s more surprisingly intriguing movies. It could be argued with a thorough watch to be one of his few hits albeit a subdued hit. That aside, it still proves to be not just one of his more intriguing starring vehicles, but also a movie surprisingly worth at least one watch. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Lionsgate’s online store both on DVD and Blu-ray/Digital combo pack at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=dying%20of%20the%20light. More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.

Mostly Original Script And Short Run Time Make Speak No Evil Worth At Least One Watch

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Forty-five years ago writer/director George A. Romero and co-writer John A. Russo brought to the world a little horror flick titled Night of the Living Dead. At the time that Romero ad Russo’s movie debuted few if any studios at any level were putting out horror movies of its ilk. In the decades since its debut, it has gone on to become the model for almost every horror writer and director out there. It has also gone on to be the seed for what has become one of the most popular sub-genres of the horror realm if not the most popular. Countless zombie knockoffs have been churned out in theaters ever since. And AMC’s comic book based zombie serial The Walking Dead has become one of the biggest shows on television today. With so many different zombie-centric movies and TV shows out there, it leaves one wondering how the industry can keep the success of the zombie sub-genre going without letting it get stale. Lionsgate presented one potential answer late in 2014 when it released the indie-horror flick Speak No Evil. It is quite obvious in watching Speak No Evil that it is an independent flick. But it is still a piece that is worth at least one watch by anyone that has any interest in or love of zombie flicks. The main reason for it being worth at least one watch is its story. Rather than turning adults into flesh-eating zombies, it’s the kids’ turn to take on that mantle. Adding to the interest is the fact that it is all the result of a biblical-era demon awakening from its slumber. It actually puts an interesting little twist on the far too oft used plotlines for previous zombie flicks and TV shows. And while the story itself makes the movie worth the watch, it isn’t without its flaws. The major issue with the writing comes in its continuity. The story has a tendency to jump from point to point throughout its roughly seventy-four minute run time. This proves to be somewhat problematic as it does bear the possibility of losing audiences along the way. Luckily it isn’t so problematic that it ruins the movie. That’s at least the case for those that can overlook this issue and try to keep track of everything going on. The story’s pacing is another issue that weighs down the movie. While it does keep audiences engaged, it also proves to be its own con, too. That’s because as fast as the story moves, coupled with the continuity issues, it is possible to leave audiences feeling just as lost as the continuity issues alone. And then there is the issue of the movie’s cinematography. It is just as jumpy at times as the scene transitions. All three issues together show that Speak No Evil is anything but perfect. It isn’t the worst horror flick ever released. But it also could have been better. Of course for all of the negatives found in Speak No Evil, it isn’t without its positives. One more positive that can be noted of this indie horror flick is its run time. The movie’s run time is roughly seventy-four minutes. That’s counting credits. Not counting its end credits, it clocks in at barely more than an hour. Being that its run time is so short relatively speaking, the issues that do arise throughout the movie are minimized enough to make the movie bearable and worth at least one watch. The end result in considering this is a movie that while anything but perfect deserves at least some credit for trying.

Speak No Evil is an interesting addition to the zombie world. The reason being that it isn’t necessarily the standard flick about flesh-eating zombies that audiences have seen again and again from so many other scripts. Rather than just being another one of those cookie cutter flicks, single-named writer/director Roze has crafted a story in this movie’s script that turns the attention to a younger group of individuals. He turns said younger individuals into the zombies instead of their older, adult counterparts in the case of this movie. Even more interesting is that in assembling his script, Roze has created an original way in which the children are turned into zombies. Rather than it just be some virus spread by victims being bitten, Roze’s script sees the children being turned into evil, blood-thirsty zombies by an equally evil, biblical-era demon. The demon in question wants nothing more than to cause the adults to kill the children by their own hands. Of course that does happen to a certain extent as audiences will see. It’s disturbing to say the least. But Roze is to be commended for going this route. The reason that he should be commended is the message that lies beneath it all. No parent ever wants to see harm come to their child. Yet great harm has in fact come to them. And it has led the adults in the movie’s small southwest town to do the absolutely unthinkable in order to save the town’s population. It makes for a rather interesting discussion starting point in watching this movie. If for no reason other than for Roze having taken such an original route in crafting his story, it makes Speak No Evil worth at least one watch.

The story behind Speak No Evil is in itself plenty of reason for audiences to watch this indie horror at least once. As interesting as the story makes the movie’s overall presentation, there are some obvious issues with the movie in whole that cannot be ignored. One of those issues is the movie’s continuity. Single-named writer/director Roze has crafted a script for this movie that has a severe tendency to jump around at points without any clear and concise transitions. This leaves a great possibility of losing audiences along the way. As prevalent as it is, throughout the movie’s roughly seventy-four minute run time, it is not so much of an issue that it would kill the movie altogether. That’s at least the case for anyone that can overlook this issue. So whatever script Roze works next, he should most definitely take this into consideration. In the same vein, the movie’s pacing proves to be just as much a con as a pro. The story’s pacing keeps the movie running and in turn helps to keep audiences from being too badly distracted by the script’s continuity issues. At the same time though, the pacing is just as problematic as it is positive. That is because coupled with the story’s continuity problems, it can in fact leave viewers feeling lost. It all depends on the viewer. Viewers that can manage to look past the issues of continuity and pacing are still faced with the issue of cinematography in this movie. The movie’s cinematography is just as much a problem as the pacing and continuity. That is because it works in tandem with those issues at a near breakneck speed. It’s enough to sometimes leave audiences feeling not just lost but dizzy, too. Sadly all three of these cons together take a lot away from the movie. Thankfully though, the movie’s run time makes up for that. Just like its largely original plot, the movie’s run time works to its benefit, making for at least one more reason for audiences to watch it at least once.

There is a lot to say in regards to the issues that weigh down Speak No Evil. That is obvious in the discussion noted above. For all of the issues that rise in watching this indie horror flick, they aren’t enough to make the movie completely unwatchable. That is thanks primarily to the movie’s mostly original plot. The movie’s run time is just as much to thank for its ability to keep audiences watching even despite its problems. The movie’s total run time comes in at roughly seventy-four minutes. That is counting its end credits. Sans credits, it comes in at barely more than an hour. It comes in at about an hour and maybe five minutes. So it really isn’t that long of a movie. Because it isn’t that long, the problems that do come up don’t occur so much so that they do major damage to the movie’s enjoyment. Coupled with the positive side of the movie’s pacing and its largely original plot, that run time makes the movie that much more bearable even with just a single watch. The end result of that mostly original plot and the movie’s relatively short run time is a presentation that despite its blatant issues that is worth at least one watch by any lover of both the horror realm and its zombie sub-genre.

Speak No Evil is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Lionsgate’s online store at https://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=Speak%20No%20Evil. More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: https://www.lionsgate.com

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.

Sci-Fi Fans and ET Enthusiasts Alike Will Enjoy In Search Of Aliens Season 1

Courtesy:  A&E Home Video/Lionsgate/History/H2

Courtesy: A&E Home Video/Lionsgate/History/H2

History Channel and H2’s hit sci-fi/history hybrid series Ancient Aliens has proven to be quite the hit among audiences ever since it debuted in 2009. Since that time, it has gone on to run seven seasons and is currently in the midst of its eighth full season on H2. The success of that series led to the premiere of a spinoff in the form of Searching For Aliens last summer. Since not everybody has access to H2, History Channel and A&E Home Video made available to audiences the full first season of In Search of Aliens on DVD last month. The three disc season set is a good addition to the library of any sci-fi fan and even any true believer. The central reason that it is a welcome addition to said audiences’ libraries is its episodes. The episodes that make up the series’ first season both throw back to the topics covered in Ancient Aliens and introduce new topics. And while some of host Girogio Tsoukalos’ theories seem somewhat far-fetched, others make at least a certain amount of sense. To that extent, the theories and arguments raised in each episode aren’t just the standard “oh it’s got to be aliens” argument. Though, Tsoukalos does always find a way to argue that every mystery is answered by alien intervention. And last of note in this box set is are the graphic illustrations used to help explain each of Tsoukalos’ theories. While they don’t necessarily do anything to convince skeptics, they do help to illustrate Tsoukalos’ theories. And that makes each of this season’s episodes all the more watchable. All three factors together show exactly why In Search of Aliens Season One is a welcome addition to the collection of any sci-fi fan and alien enthusiast.

At first glance, one might assume that History and H2’s new extraterrestrial series In Search of Aliens is just a rehashing of Ancient Aliens. But any viewer that gives it a chance will note that In Search of Aliens is in fact not that. There are episodes that seem familiar since their subject mater was already discussed in previous episodes of Ancient Aliens. But there are also episodes that feature subject matter that was not handled in the aforementioned series, too. That is the central aspect of In Search of Aliens Season One that audiences will appreciate. The series re-visits the mystery of the Nazca lines, the alleged alien influence on America’s founding, and the Nazis’ attempt at time travel in its first season. It also goes into more depth, examining the potential link between alien life and some of the world’s most legendary creatures in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. There is also an examination into what is known as “The Roswell Rock.” The rock in question is a magnetized stone that was allegedly left behind by the military at the site of the infamous Roswell UFO crash site. This episode especially is certain to create discussion as it is shown just how easily the raised symbol on the rock could have been man-made. The examination of what makes the rock a natural magnet is even more interesting. On one side, it could easily argued that it just happened to be a natural phenomenon that someone found and used to carve the formation that appears on it. There are naturally occurring items such as “The Roswell Rock” out there. So it is sure to keep create its own share of discussion alongside the other episodes included in this season’s set. Whether it be for that single episode, any of the others or all of them together, the fact that these episodes balance familiar theories with less familiar theories is reason enough for any sci-fi fan and UFO enthusiast to check out In Search of Aliens Season One.

The mix of old and new theories that make up the whole of In Search Of Aliens Season One is within itself plenty of reason for ay sci-fi fan and UFO enthusiast to check out this box set. The arguments expounded by host Giorgio Tsoukalos make for another reason for audiences to check out this collection of episodes. Given, some of his theories seem far-fetched. But others do leave some room for thought. Many of his arguments are made through interviews with “experts” in specific fields related to each topic. In the case of the legendary Nazca lines, his interview with a construction expert reveals how the iconic “mountaintop landing strip” would have entailed countless blast operations, paving and much more over the course of two to three decades at least. Considering that and what looks obviously like a modern set of airport runways, one can’t deny that the possibility of something other than humans was responsible for its construction. On the other hand, the episode centered on “The Roswell Rock” leaves plenty of room for doubt. It is shown just how easy it would have been re-create the symbol on the rock. What’s more, if the man who owned the rock came out as having it, wouldn’t the government have come in and taken it at some point? Even more worth noting is that naturally occurring items such as the magnetic rock have been found around the world. So for Tsoukalos to just say, “oh it’s alien, I don’t care what anyone says!” is a bit close-minded. The theories and arguments raised in Season One’s other episodes are sure to generate their own share of discussion. The discussion in question coupled with Tsoukalos’ theories and arguments show even more why any sci-fi fan and UFO enthusiast will appreciate the first season of In Search of Aliens.

The episodes that make up the first season of In Search of Aliens and the theories and arguments therein make for plenty of reason for sci-fi fans and UFO enthusiasts alike to check out this recently released box set. While the theories and arguments raised in each episode help move the episodes along, the video and graphic illustrations used to ground each theory and argument play theory own part in the episodes’ enjoyment. In the case of the episode centering on the Nazi time travel experiment, audiences are presented the sight of the experiments. There is also footage showing Tsoukalos with a group of scientists who test the bell-shaped craft allegedly created by the Nazis for their time travel experiments. that is set alongside footage of the spacecraft used by NASA over the years. It makes a good case for the possibility of some influence from somewhere. And in presenting the case of the Nazca lines, audiences are presented a graphic illustration as part of the argument for its link to extraterrestrials that will definitely have some audiences talking. A CG graphic is shown, illustrating the efforts that would had to have been taken in terms of blasting, etc. to make the mountaintop “landing strip” become a reality. Seeing first hand what was being explained makes the amount of work really mind boggling especially considering how long ago the landing strip and figures around it were crafted. The illustrations incorporated into this season’s episodes make them just as interesting in their own right, too. The end result of the collective illustrations, the arguments and theories themselves is a group of episodes that is a solid extension of Ancient Aliens and a series that has the potential to stand on its own two feet in the long run. It is a group of episodes that any sci-fi fan and UFO enthusiast will happily welcome into their own home DVD library.

Whether it be for the theories familiar and new to audiences, the arguments tied in to the theories or the video and graphics used to illustrate said arguments and theories, all three elements noted make In Search of Aliens a collection of episodes that any sci-fi fan and UFO enthusiast will want to see at least once. The episodes included in this season re-introduce the topics covered through the current eight season-run of Ancient Aliens. The theories and arguments within each episode are sure to create their own share of discussion among skeptics and true believers alike. And the combination of graphics and video used to illustrate each theory and argument helps to advance each episode even more, thus keeping audiences engaged. The combination of all of the noted elements makes this collection a welcome addition to the library of any sci-fi fan and UFO enthusiast regardless of whether or not it gets picked up for a second season. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online at http://shop.history.com. More information on this and other series from History and H2 is available online at:

Website: http://www.history.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HISTORY

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.

Dinosaur 13 Is 2015’s First Great Documentary

Courtesy:  CNN Films/Lionsgate

Courtesy: CNN Films/Lionsgate

CNN Films and Lionsgate released their new documentary Dinosaur 13 last week.  The documentary, which focuses on the real life fight between a group of paleontologists, an unscrupulous land owner, and the federal government, is the first great documentary of 2015.  The story presented here is a real life story.  Yet it is so gripping that it could just as easily have come right from a Hollywood script.  It is the central reason for the documentary’s success and enjoyment.  The legal information that makes up so much of the case is another reason for its success.  Audiences aren’t left scratching their heads trying to make sense of why Sue’s bones and those of so many other dinosaurs were taken from the Black Hills Institute.  The end result is a powerful, eye-opening look at government over reach and greed.  Rounding out the reasons for the documentary’s success is its bonus featurette “The Continuing Story of Sue.”  This featurette takes audiences behind the scenes of the preparations taken by those at Chicago’s Field Museum.  It is good to see that despite the events of Dinosaur 13, those at The Field Museum took care of Sue in preparation for her debut.  It’s bittersweet to think that Pete Larson was not invited to Sue’s debut.  But it is good to see in this featurette the level of care taken to give her the proper debut as perhaps Larson would have wanted.  The combination of this bonus featurette, the legal explanations throughout the documentary and the documentary’s story itself collectively show why Dinosaur 13 is a documentary that everybody should see at least once.

Dinosaur 13 is the first great documentary of 2015.  The documentary’s story is a real life story.  But there is no denying that its David versus Goliath style story plays out like one of Hollywood’s classic David versus Goliath style works.  It follows the battle between the Black Hills Institute, a conniving landowner named Maurice Williams, and the federal government for the institute’s dinosaur remains.  At the heart of it all is the battle for Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Sue is known to be the most complete T. Rex skeleton ever discovered.  When Pete Larson and his co-workers at the Black Hills Institute thought that they had legally bought Sue from Williams, they dug up her remains—which proved to be roughly eighty percent complete—and took them back to the institute.  From there things take a bleak turn very fast as the federal government swoops in with a large force of FBI agents and soldiers.  The agents and soldiers take away Sue and many other remains kept at the institute claiming that they were all recovered illegally yet never fully proving its case.  The story that follows is told clearly and concisely right to its bittersweet ending which ultimately sees Pete Larson—who headed up the expedition for Sue—and the institute win out, unearthing no fewer than nine more T.Rex skeletons after Sue.  The story in whole is gripping both for its content and its emotional impact.  It will have audiences fully engaged from start to finish and rooting for the underdog Black Hills staff even through its trials and tribulations.  It’s just one way that Dinosaur 13 proves to be such an impressive work.

The story presented in Dinosaur 13 is itself more than enough reason that it succeeds so well.  The story is told in a clear, concise, and timely fashion.  It makes the story easy to follow and in turn gripping both in itself and emotionally.  Helping to make the story even more impressive is the fact that much of the legal jargon used in the court cases is explained in layman’s terms.  Audiences get simplified explanations of why the feds thought that Pete Larson and the rest of the Black Hills staff illegally unearthed not only Sue but other remains that were stored at the institute.  The discussion on public land versus private land and land held in trust helps audiences understand the government’s view of things as well as that of the institute in regards to where they dug.  The catch is that as much as these concepts are clarified, it goes to show the greed and overreach of the government at least in the case of Sue.  It definitely doesn’t support the government’s argument claiming that Sue was essentially “real estate.”  If anything those explanations alone show the ambiguity of the government’s definitions and how it abuses that ambiguity to this day to take people’s land at its own whim.  The circular explanation of how the court came to its sentencing of Larson and his fellow staffers makes even more of a case in support of the institute.  It shows even more how ludicrous the charges against Larson and company were then and still are to this day.  It’s one more way that the legal explanations offered throughout Dinosaur 13 add to its enjoyment and prove yet again why it is the first great documentary of 2015.

The clear and concise story presented in Dinosaur 13 and the legal explanations offered throughout go a long way toward proving why it is the first great documentary of 2015.  The bonus featurette “The Continuing Story of Sue” is the presentation’s anchor. It rounds out the presentation proving once and for all why everyone should see this documentary at least once regardless of their interest in dinosaurs or lack thereof. “The Continuing Story of Sue” presents to audiences the painstaking efforts to get Sue ready for her debut at The Field Museum in Chicago. It is something of a fitting finale for the story as it shows the delicacy and seriousness with which those at The Field Museum took their task. At one point in the main program, Peter Larson made note that he was glad to see Sue go to The Field Museum so that she could be seen and cared for by those at the museum. Larson would be proud to see the care taken by those at the museum to prepare her for her debut. In a sense, it sort of indirectly pays tribute to Larson and his group as it shows that those at the museum carried on what he started. It’s just too bad that Larson was not invited to Sue’s debut. That aside, that final statement makes, again, for a fitting postscript to a documentary that is destined to be on any critic’s list of the year’s best new documentaries by year’s end.

Dinosaur 13 is on the surface a documentary about the fight for a dinosaur. But beneath that, it is so much more. It is a story about one small group’s fight against a seemingly immovable object that is the federal government. It is a story about one man’s dream realized and denied all in one thanks to that immovable object. Thanks to clear, concise storytelling, clarifications of all of the case’s legal terminology, and the postscript that is “The Continuing Story of Sue,” Dinosaur 13 proves to be one of the most gripping and in-depth documentaries and human dramas to come along in some time. It is without a doubt, one of the best new documentaries of 2015 and a must see by everyone regardless of their interest in dinosaurs. It is available in stores now on DVD/Digital combo pack and Blu-ray/Digital HD combo pack. The Blu-ray/Digital combo pack can be ordered online direct from Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=Dinosaur%2013. 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.

Make A Bet, Enter For A Chance To Win “A Bet’s A Bet” From Phil’s Picks

Courtesy:  Cinedigm

Courtesy: Cinedigm

Independent movie and television studio Cinedigm will release its new rom-com A Bet’s A Bet next Tuesday, January 20th. And one lucky person will win a copy of the movie on DVD for free courtesy of Phil’s Picks this Friday, January 16th. Anyone that wants to enter for a chance at a free copy of the movie just needs to go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks, “Like” it, and then write on the page that they want to be entered for a chance to win the movie.   It’s that easy. A review of the movie is available online now via the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-opposite-sex-is-an-edgy-entertaining-rom-com/.

A Bet’s A Bet, which also goes by the title The Opposite Sex, is an independent release. But it boasts a superstar cast. Daytime Emmy© Award winner Jennifer Finnigan (The Bold and the Beautiful, Tyrant) co-directed and co-starred with Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Close to Home). Kristin Chenoweth (Rio 2, Stranger Than Fiction, Glee) makes an appearance early on in the movie. Also on board are Josh Hopkins (G.I. Jane, Cougar Town, The Perfect Storm) opposite lead star Geoff Stults (She’s Out Of My League, Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up). Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan & Kel, All That) appears in a supporting role along with Dana Ashbrook (Twin Peaks, Dawson’s Creek, Crash) and Josh Cooke (I Love You, Man, Hart of Dixie, Manhattan). Debra Jo Rupp (That 70s Show, She’s Out of My League, Big) makes an appearance as Vince’s (Geoff Stults) secretary. And Eric Roberts (The Expendables, The Dark Knight, The Cable Guy), brother of actress Julia Roberts, stars as Vince’s boss Mr. Campbell. Even former N’Sync member Joey Fatone makes a cameo as a delivery man. Actress Mena Suvari (Chicago Fire, American Beauty, Six Feet Under) rounds out the cast as Vince’s love interest. It is her relationship with Vince that serves as the basis for the movie’s script.

The script behind A Bet’s A Bet centers on high-powered divorce attorney Vince (Stults) and his budding relationship with equally strong-willed divorcee Jane (Suvari). Vince is a self-proclaimed bachelor for life who is more focused on sleeping with every woman that he can get. On the other side of things, Jane is going through a nasty divorce. When the pair is introduced through a couple of mutual friends who just happened to be married, a series of hilarious bets plays out. The end result is a budding relationship that neither expected as both Vince and Jane are such headstrong characters. Jane’s own divorce case plays a role in the pair’s growing relationship, too. It offers its own share of laughs as audiences will see in watching the movie.

A Bet’s A Bet (The Opposite Sex) will be available on DVD next Tuesday, January 20th. It will retail for $14.93. It runs ninety-seven minutes counting end credits. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, and giveaways from Phil’s Picks, 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, and giveaways in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.