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

Courtesy: ESPN

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Website: http://www.starwars.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/starwars

 

 

 

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.

Advertisements

Transformers Rescue Bots’ Latest DVD Is A Hit For The Whole “Family”

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids

Shout! Factory Kids teamed up late last month with Hasbro Studios for yet another collection of Transformers Rescue Bots episodes in the form of Transformers Rescue Bots: Rescue Family.  The single-disc compilation culls five more episodes from the animated Discovery Family series that the whole family will enjoy.  That is due in part to the episodes themselves.  This will be discussed shortly.  The stories within the episodes are collectively important to the collection, too and will be discussed later.  It is not the last of the collection’s key elements either.  The disc’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.  When it is considered along with the collection’s episodes and their stories, the whole of the collection proves to be yet another of this year’s top new children’s DVDs.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Rescue Family is one of this year’s top new children’s DVDs.  It is a collection that children will enjoy just as much as grown-ups.  That is due in part to the episodes culled for the collection.  Five episodes from the hit animated Discovery Family series were collected for this collection, which has remained the standard for every one of the series’ previously released collections.  The episodes – ‘Road Trip,’ ‘Prescott’s Bots!,’ Odd Bot Out,’ ‘Chief Woodrow’ and ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ – were pulled from the series’ second and third seasons.  The first three episodes were pulled from the series’ second season, and the last two from its third season.  This collection is not the first of the series’ DVDs to feature episodes from multiple seasons.  However, that its episodes were pulled specifically from those two seasons rather than randomly across the board presents a clear focus in the episode choices.

The episodes featured in Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios’ latest Transformers Rescue Bots DVD Rescue Family are clearly important to the disc’s overall presentation.  That is proven through the focus placed on the seasons from which they were lifted.  While the episodes are clearly important, they are not the collection’s only important collective element.  The stories within the episodes are just as important to the collection’s presentation as the episodes themselves.  That is important to note because while they do bring back in some familiar secondary characters, the stories themselves do not repeat any of the episodes that came before or after.

“Chief Woodrow” is a key example of this statement.  Chief Burns’ brother Woodrow returns once again in this episode, except this time the trouble happens not beneath the island but on the island as Chief Burns is away at a Police Conference.  Woodrow (who is once again voiced by Mark Hamill – Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series) ends up being named acting police chief after he saves the mayor, leading to even more trouble.

Lead episode “Road Trip” exemplifies that statement just as much as “Chief Woodrow.”  This episode’s story is yet another that is centered on trouble caused by Doc Greene’s inventions.  This time out, Doc Greene has developed a transporter a la Star Trek (rather fitting since Levar Burton made his fame on Star Trek: The Next Generation).  The problem is that the transporter turns out to be a one-way transporter, rather than a two-ray device.  This leads to its own share of problems for Cody and the Rescue Bots.  Meanwhile Kade has to be rescued by a paramedic named Taylor after the pair crash-land in the forest while Taylor is hang gliding.  Both of these story lines are original to the series’ history, showing again the importance of the stories presented in each episode.

The story line presented in “Odd Bot Out” is yet another example of that importance.  Blades’ infatuation with Bumblebee comes to the fore yet again in this story.  But instead of the pair working together to save Griffin Rock, Bumblebee works with Dani on a top-secret mission, leaving Blades the proverbial fifth wheel of sorts.  The reason they end up partnering is that Dani’s pilot’s license expired and she has to get it renewed.  Meanwhile sinkholes start appearing all around the island, threatening to sink the island thanks to Madeline Pynch activating an ancient technology below the waves just off of the island’s coast.  Given, it’s not the first time that the writers have had Griffin Rock’s residents threatened by a potential sinking of the island.  But the way in which the writers handled this matter did keep the story from just re-hashing its predecessor’s story.  Keeping that in mind, this story line is still another example of why the stories presented in this collection’s episodes are just as important to the disc’s overall presentation as the episodes themselves.

The stories at the center of Transformers Rescue Bots: Rescue Family are clearly integral to the collection’s overall presentation.  That is evidenced through the stories discussed above.  Keeping that mind, the stories are not the last of the set’s most important elements.  The disc’s average price point is just as important to its presentation as its episodes and their relative stories.  The disc’s average price point between major retailers Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Shout! Factory’s own online store, comes to approximately $10.35.  Considering that the disc’s five episodes present a total run time of 110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes), a roughly $10 (plus tax likely) price tag is not that bad.  That is especially considering other discs with just as many episodes from other series and companies are nearly twice as expensive.  Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear why the average price point for this collection of episodes is important to the collection’s presentation as its episodes and their stories.  When it is joined with those elements, the whole of the elements makes this disc a grouping that is both enjoyable and cost efficient.  In turn, it becomes a collection that is deserving of plenty of applause and of being placed on any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s DVDs.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Rescue Family is one of this year’s top new children’s DVDs.  It is a work that children and adults alike will enjoy thanks to its episodes and their stories.  Parents will especially appreciate the disc’s relatively affordable average price point.  Each is important in its own right as noted previously.  Keeping this in mind, this collection of episodes deserves its own share of applause and of being placed on any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s DVDs.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Website: http://www.mvdb2b.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

 

 

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.

Transformers Fans Of All Ages Will Enjoy Shout! Factory Kids’ Latest Rescue Bots DVD

Courtesy:  Shout! Kids/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Kids/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory Kids will release the latest addition to its kid friendly Transformers series Transformers Rescue Bots this Tuesday, February 10th. Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure is the sixth of the series’ collections released by Shout! Factory Kids and Hasbro Studios. Five previous collections having already been released, it is common sense that this DVD is just as worth the watch as the series’ previously released compilations. The central reason that it proves to be just as worth the watch as its predecessors is the collection of episodes chosen for the single-disc presentation. Six more episodes have been culled for the set starting with the series premiere “Family of Heroes.” The set also pulls in a second episode from Season One in the form of “Return of the Dinobot” that presents a Dinobot unlike anything most audiences know of from the Transformers’ previous incarnations. There is also a two-part episode from Season 2 and a pair of stand-alone episodes also from Season 2 to complement. All six episodes together make for plenty of enjoyment for Transformers fans of all ages. The same can be said of the writing behind each episode. Whether in the series premiere, the included two-part episode from Season 2, or for the remaining pair of episode, the writing in these episodes is to thank for their enjoyment. And last but hardly least worth noting of these episodes is work of the series’ all-star cast. Veteran actors LeVar Burton (Star Trek The Next Generation, Reading Rainbow, Captain Planet and the Planeteers), Jason Marsden (The Fairly Oddparents, The Garfield Show, Batman: The Brave and the Bold), and Mauriche LeMarche (The Simpsons, Futurama, Animaniacs) are joined by the likes of Parvesh Cheena (Outsourced, Sean Saves the World, A To Z), Steve Blum (Digimon: Digital Monsters, The Boxtrolls, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie), and Elan Garfias (Handy Manny, Chowder, Ni Hao Kai-Lam) among other names. And the interpretation of the episodes’ scripts rounds out the reasons that these episodes are so enjoyable. Regardless of the cast members’ level of experience, nothing but professionalism was shown in each episode, making easier suspension of disbelief and in turn the overall enjoyment of the episodes. By itself, the work of the cast in each of these episodes makes for its own level of enjoyment among audiences. Together with the work of the series’ writers and those charged with assembling the episodes, all three elements make Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure a great adventure for Transformers fans of all ages.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure is not the first collection of episodes that Shout! Factory Kids has released from Discovery Family’s family friendly update on Hasbro’s classic franchise following everyone’s favorite robots in disguise. It is however a fully enjoyable collection of episodes. It is a fully enjoyable collection both for those that are and those that are not so familiar with the series. The central reason for that enjoyment is the collection of episodes pulled for the DVD. Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the series, every one of the series’ fans finally gets to see how the series started thanks to the inclusion of its premiere episode to open the whole thing. Audiences also get to see the writers’ vision of at least one of the legendary Dinobots as well as other early adventures of the Rescue Bots. The collection in whole offer loads of action and laughs for Transformers fans of all ages. The episodes by themselves offer loads of action and laughs for the whole family. That is thanks to the adventures that make up each episode. Keeping in that vein, the writing behind each of the episodes is to thank for making each episode so enjoyable.

The writing that went into each of the episodes on this DVD is just as noteworthy as the episodes themselves in considering what makes it so enjoyable. One way in which the writing proves so important is in the series’ premiere episode “Family of Heroes.” Audiences will note in this episode that at least one of the Rescue Bots—Heatwave—is not instantly fond of being on Earth. As a matter of fact, he would much rather take a mission on another planet than deal with humans who want to control them. Obviously they aren’t really trying to control the Rescue Bots. And eventually, Heatwave overcomes his mistrust as Cody and his family prove that they can be trusted. Yes, it’s a tried and true story element used in so many other series and movies. But especially in the case of this series, it’s interesting to see that things don’t start out with a full-on “happy-happy-joy-joy” vibe for the Rescue Bots or for the humans in terms of their relationship. It is just one example of why the writing in these episodes makes them so enjoyable. The writing in the two-part episode “What Lies Below”/”What Rises Above” is another good example of why the writing behind the episodes makes them so enjoyable. It could even be argued to be the best example of the disc’s episodes in terms of its writing. That is because of the amount of material that went into the episode in whole. Chief Burns and his brother Woodrow (voiced here by Mark Hamill—Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series, Codename: Kids Next Door) have to come to terms with the tensions built between them ever since their childhood. At the same time, Heatwave exhibits his own personal growth as the leader of the Rescue Bots as he and Optimus Prime work to get back to the others and get out of the volcano. At the same time, the writers pay tribute to Jules Verne in this episode as a hidden prehistoric world is discovered along the way. Through the whole story, none of the noted elements overpowers the other. The end result is a story that easily keeps viewers fully engaged, wondering what will happen next. The writers’ tackling of myths in “In Search of the Griffin’s Nest” and the classic theme of AI becoming sentient (and dangerously so at that) in “Movers and Shakers” is as enjoyable as any sci-fi story. Whether for the solid work on the DVD’s included two-part episode, the series’ premiere, or even that in “In Search of the Griffin’s Nest,” the writing behind the episodes included on Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure shows time and again why it is so pivotal to the overall enjoyment of the DVD. Together with the episodes selected for the compilation, both elements strengthen even more the argument in favor of this latest addition to the series’ already-released compilations.

The episodes tapped for inclusion on Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure and the writing behind each episode make a strong argument in favor of this new DVD. The work of the series’ voice cast is just as worth mentioning in the overall enjoyment of these episodes. From the series premiere to the episodes that followed, the chemistry and professionalism between the cast is obvious. Considering the cast’s collective years of experience, that should come as no surprise. That’s especially the case with lead stars Jason Marsden and Mauriche LeMarche. Marsden, who voices lead character Kade Burns, and LeMarche, who voices Kade’s father Chief Charlie Burns, breeze through their roles. The same can be said of fellow veteran LeVar Burton as he voices supporting character Doc Greene. Even young Elan Garfias (Cody Burns) impresses in his own right. While Garfias might not have the years of experience as Burton, LaMarche, and Marsden, he still shines as the voice of Cody. He handles his role in every episode with the ease and professionalism of a seasoned veteran. And together with his older, more experienced co-stars–including those not noted here–the group as a whole proves to be the perfect choice for each role. The choices paid off in spades, too with each cast member alone and together keeping viewers just as fully engaged with its work as the stories behind each episode. It is the last part of the DVD’s whole that makes it so enjoyable for Transformers fans of all ages. Together with the work of the show’s writers and those tapped to select the DVD’s episodes, all three elements together show in full why Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure is yet another great collection of episodes from what is one of the greatest incarnations of the Transformers.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Jurassic Adventure will be available tomorrow, February 10th in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory Kids’ online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/transformers-rescue-bots-jurassic-adventure. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Shout! Factory Kids is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

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.

The Rescue Bots Are Back On The Job With Another Fun DVD For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Kids

The latest compilation of episodes from Hasbro Studios’ Transformers Rescue Bots is another great collection for any fan of this kid friendly series.  The compilation, which was released last Tuesday, September 2nd, is especially well-timed considering the proximity of its release to Halloween.  That is primarily because of the five episodes featured in the disc.  The episodes presented on this disc offer their own not so scary stories that are still a good fit for any child’s Halloween party.  For those that might be new to this series (like this critic), said audiences will also appreciate the series’ animation.  Being another product of Hasbro studios, it should come as no surprise that the series’ animation plays a role in its enjoyment, too.  And last but not least of all worth noting in the overall presentation is the series’ list of voice talents.  The actors charged with putting a voice to the series’ characters are largely well-known figures.  They are figures that have quite the resume when it comes to animated programs, children’s programs, and sci-fi shows, too.  Some have experience in all three realms, making their acting all the more believable and in turn enjoyable.  The combination of those experienced voice talents and the series’ animation and writing makes Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue just as enjoyable for those that are new to this series as those that are more familiar with the show.

Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue is the fifth compilation of episodes from the Hub network’s hit children’s series.  The compilation was released just last week in stores.  Its timing could not have been better taking into account its episodes and the fact that Halloween is a little more than a month away.  The episodes collected for this compilation each present their own not so scary but still entertaining story for kids at their Halloween parties this year.  The DVD opens with a mystery that sees everyone in Griffin Rock suddenly disappearing after a horde of robotic bugs infests the town.  It’s up to Cody, his friends, and the Rescue Bots to solve the mystery.  The second episode sees some “ghosts” suddenly appearing.  It turns out though, that things aren’t always what they appear to be when Cody and the Rescue Bots investigate the “hauntings.”  There’s even a little twist that parents and kids alike will like, regardless of whether or not they are believers.  “Spellbound” is the third episode chosen for the DVD.  One could argue that this episode lifts lightly from Stephen King’s novel Cell as cell phones are being used to take over the minds of the Griffin Rock’s citizens.  This is an especially enjoyable episode not only for this reason, but for its emphasis on caring for the environment.  “Blame The Gremlins” is another great addition that parents and children will appreciate as it offers its own frightful fun.  When Cody’s big brother Kade (voiced by Jason Marsden) starts having nightmares about gremlins, those nightmares become reality and invade Griffin Rock.  Parents that are familiar with Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone series will appreciate the subtle homage to the episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” in this episode.  One could even argue that there’s a subtle reference to a certain gremlin from Warner Brothers’ beloved Looney Tunes franchise.  “Feed The Beast” closes out the DVD with a little tale of Griffin Rock’s own version of the legendary Sasquatch.  As with the discs other episodes, it offers its own frightful fun for younger viewers.  All of the episodes together will keep young viewers fully engaged from start to finish.

Of the stories included on this disc are not enough enjoyment by themselves, audiences that might be new to Transformers Rescue Bots will appreciate the fact that the episodes are kid friendly.  They don’t have the level of violence and deep, thought provoking material that makes up the original Transformers franchise or any of its offshoots over the years.  It makes for a fun and safe way to ease younger viewers into the Transformers universe.  It could be argued that to that extent, it actually takes a page from the likes of Tiny Toon Adventures, The Flintstone Kids, Taz-Mania and others that came from that era.  That’s because while many critics came down hard on the series, the reality was that they were in fact a way to slowly and gently bring younger viewers into the likes of Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, ScoobyDoo and other classic franchises.  To that extent, the very concept of this franchise makes the writing all the more valuable and enjoyable to the overall presentation that is this latest compilation.

The writing that went into the episodes on this DVD makes them (and the franchise in whole) a joy for both children and adults.  Its mix of family friendly stories and its more grown-up pop culture references will make watching them as a family a fun time.  And especially today, families need as much time as possible together.  It’s not all that makes this collection enjoyable, either.  The series’ animation also makes the episodes presented here fun, too.  Audiences that are familiar with Hasbro Studios’ properties will find it no surprise that this series’ animation bears a somewhat similar animation style to that of both Pound Puppies and Littlest Pet Shop.  It is safe to suffice that the same individuals charged with crafting the artwork for those series were also behind Transformers Rescue Bots, too simply by watching these episodes.  Even with its similarities to those series, it does bear its own identity apart from them.  The differences lie mainly in little things like the contours of the characters and the backgrounds and even the coloring. Other than that, this series’ animation lies in the same category as those others from Hasbro Studios already noted. Even as similar as its animation is to those series, it still is nice to see animation today that can look so much like it was hand drawn instead of all of the cookie cutter CGI shows out there for younger audiences today. It’s just one more part of what makes this new DVD so welcome in any family’s DVD library.

The animation in Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue and the writing in its episodes together make this latest collection of episodes welcome in any family’s DVD library. The last factor to note that makes it such a welcome addition to any family’s library is the series’ list of voice actors. Those behind the characters in this series are no strangers to voicing animated characters. The cast includes Jason Marsden, Kath Soucie, Levar Burton, Mauriche LaMarche, Tim Curry, Diamond White and so many others. While their episodes are not included in this DVD, Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman The Animated Series) and Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) even offer their talents in a couple of episodes, too. Having such a who’s who of actors lending their talents to this series is a tribute to its popularity and the popularity of the Transformers franchise in whole. Jason Marsden is known for his work on Nickelodeon’s The Fairly Odd Parents and as the voice of Nermal in Cartoon Network’s The Garfield Show. He has worked on a number of other series and movies, too. These are just a couple examples of his body of work. Kath Soucie and Levar Burton both worked together on Captain Planet and the Planeteers early in the 1990s. Soucie is also known as the voice of Phil and Lil DeVille in Nickelodeon’s beloved Nicktoon Rugrats. Not to omit Mauriche LeMarche or Tim Curry, the resume of these two actors could fill pages and pages. Needless to say they are quite the well trained and well-respected actors. And having them on this series’ cast is quite the statement. Newcomer Diamond White has already started building up her own resume with voice acting credits including work on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, and Sophia the First. She also plays the role of Sophie in Nickelodeon’s teen-centric series The Haunted Hathaways. Needless to say, the cast that was tapped for the roles in Transformers Rescue Bots more than did its job with this latest collection of episodes. Their years of training and experience helped them to interpret each episode’s script and in turn make it each story all the more enjoyable. The end result is a collection of episodes that the whole family will enjoy again and again while they wait for the next collection of episodes from this surprisingly entertaining show.

The A-list voice cast tapped to voice the characters in this latest collection of episodes from Hub’s Transformers Rescue Bots goes a long way toward validating it and the series in whole. Parents will note the celebrities’ names and want to check out the actors’ work for themselves. They will also appreciate some of the subtle pop culture references thrown in for good measure in some of the episodes included on the DVD. Kids will enjoy the animation and stories in general. All things considered, there is a lot that makes Transformers Rescue Bots: Mystery Rescue a hit for the whole family. So much in fact that it could potentially end up on this critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s website at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/transformers-rescue-bots-mystery-rescue. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online now at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. 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.