Film Movement’s ‘I Am A Dancer’ Re-issue Will Appeal To The Most Devoted Ballet Fans

Courtesy: Film Movement

Independent film studio Film Movement resurrected the vintage documentary I Am A Dancer this year.  Re-issued on Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 22, the 92 minute (on hour, 32-minute) documentary is an interesting but imperfect presentation.  Its profile of legendary ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev serves as an appealing introduction to the fame figure.  At the same time, the approach to the profile in question is such that audiences will find it problematic.  This will be addressed a little later.  The documentary’s average price point makes for its own appeal.  When it is considered with the documentary’s primary presentation, the two elements join to make the presentation such that ballet aficionados will find the vintage documentary worth watching at least occasionally.

I Am A Dancer is a work that will appeal primarily to the most devoted ballet aficionados.  That is because the vintage documentary, re-issued in September by Film Movement, give those audiences a glimpse into the man who is among the most elite figures in the ballet world.  It offers this glimpse through footage of Nureyev at work in the dance studio.  Audiences get to see Nureyev’s dedication to his art and his versatility, working on classical and modern dance styles.  Along the way, audiences are also treated to some insight from those who were close to Nureyev as to who he was.  One dancer noted in her audio commentary, that Nureyev allegedly was known for having mood swings, but even with that, was still a respected figure because he was still mostly happy.  Audiences also learn from the narration about the circumstances of Nureyev’s birth and his familiarity with traveling and working.  There are also insights into the featured performance segments in the narration, which will help keep the noted audiences engaged and entertained.  Audiences even get to see Nureyev in the dressing room as he prepares to perform.  It continues to show the man at work in all of his focus.  Between everything noted here and more, it becomes clear that the primary presentation of I Am A Dancer is certain to engage and entertain the noted audiences.

For all that the primary presentation does to help this vintage documentary’s presentation, the execution thereof is something that the noted audiences will agree is somewhat problematic.  That is because what audiences get here is, as noted, more a glimpse than a full profile of the legendary dancer.  Yes, audiences are treated to some in-depth clips  of Nureyev at work on stage and screen, and in the rehearsal room, but the problem is that it is mostly that.  Yes, the insight about his birth is there, but even the bonus content that is featured with this re-issue does not necessarily add much to the whole.  So again, what audiences get is just something brief, in the bigger picture.  It’s not a full profile outlining the roots of Nureyev’s career.  At the most, viewers get fleeting mentions of those roots.  Whether one is a ballet aficionado or just an observer, one cannot deny that this detracts from the presentation.  Without that extra content, this whole really just come across as a simple look at the legend at work more than a full profile of a legend.

Keeping in mind the primary content featured in this vintage documentary and the presentation thereof, the documentary’s average price point makes it at least somewhat more appealing for viewers.  Using listings featured at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers – it was not listed through Target and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting – the presentation’s average price point comes to $23.97 on Blu-ray and $17.30 on DVD.  In other words, the prior comes in at less than $25 while the latter totals less than $20.  Amazon provided the least expensive listing for each platform at $14.00 (Blu-ray) and $14.95 (DVD) while Walmart claims the most expensive listing for each platform at $29.95 (BD) and $19.95 (DVD).  Simply put, at its least expensive, the set barely touches the $15 mark and at its most expensive comes in at $30.  That the noted audiences can get the documentary at that noted low price makes for its own appeal, especially considering everything else addressed here.  All things considered, I Am A Dancer proves to be a work that is worth watching at least once at the lowest price.

Film Movement’s recently re-issued presentation of the vintage documentary I Am A Dancer is an intriguing presentation.  It gives a good glimpse into the man who was the legendary dancer Rudolph Nureyev.  While it serves as a good starting point on a look into his legacy, the way in which it was presented proves somewhat problematic.  It detracts, to a point, from the overall presentation.  Keeping all of that in mind, the documentary’s average price point makes for at least some more appeal.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this documentary’s re-issue.  All things considered, it proves itself worth at least the occasional watch. 

More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available at:

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‘Star Trek: Picard’ Falls Short Of Expectations In Its Debut Season

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS/CBS All Access/CBS DVD

CBS All Access’ latest entry in the ever-expanding Star Trek universe, Picard is another disappointment in the “new generation” of Star Trek series, next to Discovery.  The 10-episode debut season of Picard gives audiences little reason to remain engaged or even entertained in its writing and acting.  That is not to say that this season is a complete failure.  It is saved at least in part by its special effects and the packaging of its home release.  Other than those aesthetic elements, there is really no other reason for viewers to even try out this attempt to resurrect the TNG era of Star Trek.

The debut season of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Picard is a rough first outing for the show.  It is not a complete failure, though.  It does have at least a couple of positives, one of which is its special effects.  Technology has come a long way in terms of the use of special effects, and they were used quite well throughout the course of Picard’s debut season.  Audiences will marvel at the upgrades made to the Borg cube that was so badly damaged in an epic battle with the Enterprise back in the days of TNG.  In a similar vein, the effects that were used to create the home world of the “synths” and the Federation headquarters is just as impressive.  The space battles that took place were just as  enjoyable to watch, even though they looked more like something out of Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5.  The effects that were used to create the early destruction of the Mars shipyards is worth acknowledging, too.  Those sequences are pretty brutal, even though again, one can’t help but think of BSG in this case, too.  Simply put, the special effects that were presented throughout the course of Picard’s debut (and hopefully only) season give viewers at least something to appreciate here.  Going back again to the mention of the BSG comparison, that item is just one of many that brings about the season’s one major detractor, its writing.

The writing that is featured in the first season of Picard is problematic to say the very least.  The whole thing starts off as essentially a “sequel” of sorts to Star Trek: Nemesis, the finale to The Next Generation’s cinematic universe.  That 2002 movie was the lowest point for the TNG franchise at the time, but Jean Luc’s desire to find Data’s consciousness here is just cheesy to say the very least.  The real Jean Luc-Picard did mourn for Data in Nemesis, but he ultimately would have accepted Data’s passing.  So to have this story open like this makes suspension of disbelief difficult to say the least.  From there, audiences are presented with the all too familiar topic of whether artificial intelligence can become fully sentient.  It is a topic that became central to TNG, but was addressed far before Star Trek was a thing, thus the reference to Isaac Asimov throughout this season.  It has been used and used again so many times throughout the sci-fi world that it has become little more than a trope.  The over-the-top preachiness that ensues in regards to the Romulans’ blind hatred of synths is yet another echo of something that has been addressed so many times in other movies and television shows that preceeded Picard.  To that end, it makes the topic that much more unengaging. 

Of course for all of the negative in the show’s writing, it does have some positives.  One positive element of the writing comes in Jean Luc’s revelation about the Borg being “victims, not monsters” as he visits the Borg cube in which he himself became a Borg in TNG.  He realizes that the Borg were in fact real, living beings who were transformed by the sentience.  That is a direct connection to the bigger discussion on the synths’ place in the universe, but is still far less preachy than the other noted talk.  Considering that the story line in Star Trek Discovery states the Federation essentially made the Borg when it created “Control,” Picard’s statement holds even more water so to speak.

Staying on the topic of Jean Luc’s revelations, his comment early on that the Federation does not decide which society survives is powerful in itself.  It echoes back to Luke Skywalker’s disillusionment with the Jedi order in the Star Wars universe.  The Federation’s Prime Directive was to not get involved directly in any society, so for his fellow Admiral to declare the Federation does hold that power makes Jean Luc a more sympathetic character.  It shows that there is at least a little bit of positive to the writing.  Sadly though, other than these revelations, most of the writing still poses its share of problems.  There is so much exposition and waxing philosophical throughout the season that the show’s pacing starts to suffer many times.  It isn’t the lighter but direct writing that audiences enjoyed in the “old days” of Star Trek.  Audiences are even made to endure an extensive discussion on mortality in the season finale (not to give away too much) that is way heavy. 

As if everything noted was not enough, the blatant foul language and often gory content written into the scripts detracts from the writing even more.  TOS, TNG, DSN, Voyager, and Enterprise did not need violence and foul language in order to work.  To that end, why did the show’s creative heads think these elements were so necessary in this case?  It leaves one shaking one’s head in disbelief that much more.

Simply put, the writing detracts from the presentation of Picard: Season One noticeably.  That is even with its rare positives.  While the writing does considerable damage to this season’s presentation, there is at least one more positive for audiences.  It is the packaging of the season’s home release.

Audiences will note that Season One’s packaging actually is its own positive.  The set’s three discs sit on their own “plate” inside the box.  This protects them from being damaged in any form.  Brief but concise episode summaries are also printed on the inside of the set’s cover art.  This is where things get a little bit problematic.  Due to being printed on the inside of the case’s art, some of the summaries are partially covered by the package’s “bones.”  This leads to the need to shift the box so that they can be better read.  Even doing that is problematic because even in doing that, there is still some difficulty in reading said summaries.  Thankfully it doesn’t happen with all of the summaries.  To that end, the inclusion of the summaries is still mostly positive in its own fashion.  When all of this noted packaging presentation is considered along with the show’s special effects, the show’s presentation proves to have at least something to appreciate

The debut season of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Picard is a rough start for this series.  It does not give audiences much to appreciate.  Rather, it comes across more as a cash grab attempt by someone to get fans of The Next Generation to welcome the “new age” of Star Trek.  That is evidenced in large part through the season’s central story and writing.  The writing comes across as some kind of attempt by the  show’s creative heads to see if they could make up for the failure that was Nemesis while also rehashing the far too familiar topic of artificial intelligence and the potential results of said intelligence becoming sentient.  It all feels so forced.  To the show’s defense, there are at least a couple of positives to the writing, but they are just not enough to make this season memorable.  The only real positives to this season are its special effects and the packaging of its home release.  Even as much as they do to help the season’s presentation, they just are not enough to save Season One.  Ultimately, one can only hope that considering all of the problems posed throughout the season, the now confirmed second season will be anything but the failure that is Season One.

More information on Star Trek: Picard is available along with all of CBS All Access’ latest news at:

Website: http://www.cbs.com/allaccess

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/cbs

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CMG Announces Release Date, Specs For Fourth Buster Keaton Collection

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Cohen Media Group will release its fourth collection of Buster Keaton films next month.

The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 4 is scheduled for release Dec. 8 on Blu-ray and DVD. Its release will come more than a year after the release of the ongoing series’ first three volumes. This two-movie collection will feature Keaton’s 1925 movie Go West and its 1927 follow-up, the timeless movie College.

Keaton plays the role of “Friendless” in Go West. Feeling the desire to explore the country, Friendless heads west to find his destiny. The comedy finds Friendless having a hard time adjusting to the life of the cowboy/ranch hand, but he ends up becoming a hero when a bunch of steer is accidentally unleashed on Los Angeles.

College finds Keaton playing the part of Ronald. Ronald follows his romantic interest Mary to a university whose student body is made up largely of athletes, who Mary prefers more than bookworm types, such as Ronald. The story reaches a dramatic moment, leading Ronald to become a hero in another way while also winning Mary’s heart.

The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume Four will retail for MSRP of $29.95 (Blu-ray) and $19.95 (DVD).

More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:

Websitehttp://www.cohenmedia.net

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Audiences Will Find ‘The Trip To Greece’ A Cinematic Journey Worth Taking At Least Once

Courtesy: IFC Films

IFC Films’ final entry in Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip To franchise – The Trip to Greece — is an intriguing end to the cinematic “series.”  It is a presentation that, like its predecessors, audiences will either like or not.  Viewers who are not already fans of British drama and comedy will not find themselves coming into the fold through this movie.  The opposite applies for those who are fans of said brand of entertainment.  Regardless of which side one takes on this franchise, its stars, and British movies and television, everyone will agree that this last entry to the noted franchise is worth watching at least once.  That is thanks in part to the movie’s story.  This will be addressed shortly.  While the story proves itself a point of interest, it does create one notable concern, that being the issue of pacing.  This will be addressed a little later.  For all of the concern that the story’s pacing causes, the cinematography that is featured throughout keeps the story at least somewhat engaging.  This will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Trip To Greece a slightly enjoyable new cinematic trip.

The Trip to Greece is an interesting finale for Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s globe hopping docu-dramedy “The Trip To…” franchise.  While not a perfect ending to the franchise, it is worth watching at least once.  That is due in part to its unique story.  The story that is presented here is actually a two-part work that is one part drama and one part comedy.  On one side, audiences follow Coogan and Brydon doing comic impersonations of their fellow actors (famed names, such as Sean Connery, Michael Kane, and Dustin Hoffman just to name a few) as they follow the journey of the legendary mythical warrior Odysseus.  Just as a little back story, Odysseus’ story is that of his journey from a far-off land in an effort to return to his family.  It is a very dramatic epic story.  Throughout the course of Coogan and Brydon’s retracing of Odysseus’ journey, they meet “sirens” and deal with other figures along the way.

The comic factor of the duo’s story is just one aspect that is important to note.  Along the way, audiences also see a more personal story for each, what with Brydon dealing with his wife’s illness while being away from her and his family and Coogan getting updates on the health of his own father from his son.  This is where the interest really sets in.  The emotion that Brydon and Coogan feel as they face those personal matters is a mirror of sorts to Odysseus’ journey and his desire to be home with his family in his story.  That duality forms a firm foundation for the movie, and reason enough to give the movie a chance.  Of course for all that the story does to make the movie interesting, the pacing thereof proves problematic.

The Trip to Greece clocks in at one hour, 43-minutes.  However, even coming in at just under two hours, the story’s pacing makes it feel like it is nearly two-and-a-half-hours.  Maybe it is because of all of the small-talk.  Maybe it is the travel scenes.  Maybe it is something else or everything combined.  Either way, audiences will find themselves wanting to fast forward this flick multiple times throughout its run.  Some might even give in to that urge.  It just moves that slowly.  The thing is that in fast forwarding, audiences might miss some important moments in the story that make the noted juxtaposition of the ancient and not so aged so important.  To that end, even as much as audiences are going to want to fast forward, they will have to hold steady and not give in if they want to really capture the nuances of the story.  It’s a sad trade-off, but one that is necessary.  Luckily, as much as this story’s pacing detracts from the movie’s presentation, its cinematography makes the slow, plodding take at least somewhat bearable.

The cinematography that is featured throughout The Trip to Greece is outstanding.  Whether it be the aerial shots of the bays or the seaside footage s Coogan and Brydon have their discussions, or even something as simple as the duo driving from point to point, the cinematography offers so much to appreciate.  The way in which the footage was captured presents such a rich, lush landscape throughout the Mediterranean region.  The colors are so well-balanced throughout the feature, even with so many standard style shots.  It’s like watching a video postcard of sorts.  It’s no Rick Steves show, considering how spit shined it is, but is still engaging in its own right.  When this aspect is considered along with the movie’s central story, the two aspects make up for the problems posed by the movie’s pacing enough to make the movie an interesting presentation, just not perfect.

The Trip to Greece, the finale in IFC’s “The Trip To…” franchise is an intriguing end to the “series.”  It proves itself worth watching in part because of its story.  The story is a mirror of sorts to the journey which Odysseus faces in his mythical journey.  Brydon and Coogan face the desire to be with family just as much as Odysseus.  Each is re-united with family, but in different ways.  That desire to be with family comes as the duo makes its way along the path that Odysseus took on his journey all while spoofing the work of some of their well-known contemporaries.  As interesting as the story proves what with its duality and irony, the pacing thereof cannot be ignored.  It does cause its own share of problems for the movie.  Even as much as it detracts from the movie’s presentation, the movie’s cinematography makes up for that issue at least to a point.  When it is considered alongside the movie’s central story, the two elements together make the movie a cinematic journey that audiences will find worth taking at least once.  The Trip to Greece is available now.  More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available at:

Website: http://ifcfilms.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifcfilms

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‘Attraction 2’ Is A Movie That Action, Sci-Fi Fans Are Better Off Not Seeing, Knowing About

“There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!”  Those were the words of “Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) in the 1997 blockbuster sci-fi flick Men in Black.  While Kay’s words were in the context of his conversation with Jay (Will Smith), it is a line that applies in the bigger picture of the science fiction film realm, including mpi/Sony/Columbia Pictures recently released flick Attraction 2: Invasion.  This movie is sadly one of those works that people would be better off not knowing about.  Released domestically July 21 on Blu-ray, the movie offers little for audiences to enjoy other than its special effects and maybe its story.  Those two elements are its only saving graces.  Its pacing meanwhile poses the biggest problem for its presentation.  It will be addressed here, too.  Each item noted here plays its own important part to the whole of this movie.  All things considered, they make Attraction 2: Invasion a movie that audiences really would be better off not seeing.

mpi/Sony/Columbia Pictures’ recently released sci-fi import Attraction 2: Invasion is a largely forgettable work that even sci-fi fans will find difficult to take in.  That is not to say it is a complete loss.  It does have at least one semi-positive in its story.  The story is relatively easy to follow as long as one pays full attention.  Yulya (Irina Starshenbaum) is caught in the middle of a conflict between her nation’s military and an aritificial intelligence from another world.  The military just wants to use her for her superhuman abilities, which she gained in the movie’s predecessor, while the AI wants her dead.  Though, it’s never fully explained why it wants her dead.  Caught up in the conflict is her alien boyfriend Artyom (Alexander Petrov).  His addition to the story is where things start to get a bit contrived.  The couple’s relationship, set against the conflict, lends itself to comparisons to the Twilight movie franchise, thus causing some problems in its own right.  As the story progresses, it is revealed that in order to beat the alien AI, the humans have to make do with analog and ditch their digital technology.  That is because that technology is what led to all the problems in the first place, as audiences will find out if they even take the time to watch this movie.  If that sounds familiar, it should.  It is a direct rip-off of the same story element from Independence Day.  This causes even more problems for the story.  Add in the confusion that is caused in the story’s conclusion and what audiences get is a story that on the surface is easy to understand, but is still rife with problems.  While the story that is featured in Attraction 2: Invasion something of a mixed bag presentation, the story’s pacing is nothing but problematic.

The pacing of Attraction 2: Invasion’s story is problematic in that it moves so slowly.  The first roughly hour-and-a-half of this story is just buildup that is accompanied by an ongoing chase scene and commentary about the dangers of digital media.  Considering everything we as Americans know about Russia’s clear interference in the 2016 election, it is somewhat ironic that this Russian import is sending such a message.  It is not until the third and final act that this two-hour, 13-minute movie finally picks up.  Even when it does, it still manages to drag on and build up to its conclusion.  Simply put, this movie, which clocks in at just over two hours, finds every opportunity to drag.  As a result, this concern and those raised by the story couple to make the movie that much less worth watching.  Of course, for all of the problems that this story poses, it does have at least one positive – its special effects.

The special effects that are featured in Attraction 2: Invasion are outstanding.  From the giant alien ship to Artyom’s “space cycle” vehicle thing, to the use of the cinematography in the chase scenes and so much more, the special effects rival anything featured in any of Hollywood’s biggest summer blockbusters.  The explosions are just as big and the use of something like giant video screens on buildings just as spectacular.  The final scene in which the giant AI ship starts sucking the water up and flooding the city’s center is just as immense and intense as any similar scene from so many Hollywood sci-fi flicks.  Simply put, this movie shines thanks to its special effects.  They are everything that action and sci-fi fans have come to expect from any blockbuster.  Sadly though, they are about all that this movie has to fully boast.  Sure, its story is simple to follow, but it is problematic in its own right, as is the story’s pacing.  All things considered, the movie really does prove agent Kay’s statement from Men in Black:  The only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!” 

Mpi/Sony/Columbia Pictures’ Russian sci-fi import Attraction 2: Invasion is a movie that action and sci-fi fans are better off not watching.  It does offer a story that is easy to follow.  The problem is that the story comes across at least in part as some kind of Twilight rip-off, considering the unnecessary romance subplot that puts our heroine and her love interest in the middle of a conflict between the two opposing sides.  What’s more, the plot element involving using analog tech in place of digital as a means to defeat the AI is itself a rip-off of a key element from another well-known sci-fi alien invasion blockbuster.  The story’s pacing causes watching this movie painful, even though it runs just over two hours.  The movie feels like it runs two-and-a-half hours instead of just over two hours because of the pacing.  The only real saving grace to this movie is its special effects, which rival those of any Hollywood blockbuster.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this movie.  All things considered, the movie is a presentation that audiences will find better off unknown and unwatched.

More information on this and other titles from mpi media group is available online now at:

Websitehttp://www.mpimedia.com

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Craft Recordings Continues Its 70th Anniversary Of ‘Peanuts’ With New Video

Craft Recordings continued its celebration of the 70th Anniversary of Peanuts‘ debut in newspapers worldwide.

The company is celebrating the anniversary with the debut of a new animated video for the beloved song ‘The Great Pumpkin Waltz. The song is featured in the timeless Peanuts primetime TV special It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

The video opens with Linus’ classic letter to The Great Pumpkin, asking for lots of toys. From there, the curtain lifts to show Linus in the pumpkin patch in which he waited all that fateful night with Sally for The Great Pumpkin. As the video progresses, a series of pumpkins and presents wrapped in orange with green ribbons fill the screen against a constantly changing backdrop, all the while the song playing over the video.

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

‘The Great Pumpkin Waltz’ was last featured on the 2012 CD re-issue of A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ soundtrack as one of two bonus tracks. The other bonus track was one of the songs from the Peanuts primetime Thanksgiving TV special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Neither song is featured in Craft Recordings’ recently released vinyl re-issue of the soundtrack, which is at least the seventh of the soundtrack’s re-issues.

In related news, Craft Recordings has curated a playlist of music from the Peanuts specials as an added way to celebrate the beloved comic strip’s anniversary. The playlist is available here. It features songs from Peanuts movies and specials, such as A Boy Named Charlie Brown — the first of the Peanuts animated features — There’s No Time For Love, Charlie Brown, and You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown, as well as It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available at:

Websitehttp://CraftRecordings.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/craftrecordingsofficial

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Arrow Video Announces Release Date, Specs For ‘The last Starfighter’ Re-issue

Courtesy: Arrow Video/Lorimar Films Entertainment/Universal

The Last Starfighter will fly again next month.

Lorimar Film Entertainment/Universal’s 1984 sci-fi flick is scheduled for re-issue Oct. 27 through Arrow Video in a new 4K scan on Blu-ray.  The movie follows its central character Alex Rogan, a high school student who ends up being recruited to fight an evil empire after playing a video game that turns out to in fact be a training program to find pilots for the war.

Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue comes with lots of bonus content, such as an archived audio commentary from Nick Castle, the movie’s director, and Rob Cobb, the flick’s production designer; new feature-length audio commentary from Mike White, host of The Last projection Booth Podcast, and the archived four-part documentary “Crossing The Frontier: The Making of The Last Starfighter.

More bonus content will be announced soon.  Pre-orders are open for Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue of The Last Starfighter.

More information on Arrow Video’s The Last Starfighter re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

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Arrow Video Announces ‘Warning From Space’ Re-Issue Date, Specs

Courtesy: Arrow Video/Toho Company/Daiei Sttudios

Arrow Video will resurrect the 1956 Japanese science fiction flick Warning From Space next month.

The company is scheduled to re-issue the movie Oct. 13 on Blu-ray.  The story centers on a race of beings from another world that has come to Earth to warn the planet’s people about an impending meteor impact.  The problem is that the beings look like starfish.  Knowing that they will only terrify the planet’s inhabitants, one of the beings takes on the form of a human female so as to spread the warning.

Originally distributed through Toho Company and Daiei Studios, the movie was the first Japanese science fiction movie to be presented in color.  its forthcoming release marks its first-ever high definition release in the United States and a newly restored English dub.

As an added bonus, the movie will also feature a feature-length audio commentary by author Stuart Galbraith IV.  Galbraith wrote the book Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!

Pre-orders for Warning From Space are open.

More information on Arrow Video’s Warning From Space re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

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‘The Flintstones’ Specials & Movies Set Is Enjoyable But Imperfect

Courtesy: Warner Brothers/Warner Home Video/WWE/Hanna-barbera

Hanna-Barbera’s animated series The Flintstones is a timeless franchise.  The show ran for a total of six seasons over the course of more than five years.  It also produced a handful of movies and TV specials, some of which proved more memorable than others of course.  The series has remained in syndication to at least some extent or another since its inception, and is readily available on separate standalone and full series sets, while its movies have been less available.  Early last month, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Home Video addressed that concern with a new collection of The Flintstones animated features.  Titled simply 2 Movies & 5 Specials, (which is problematic in itself), the collection is a mostly positive presentation, though is imperfect.  To the positive, the majority of the animated features are among the most well-known of the property’s most well-known and beloved.  There’s even one lesser-known but still enjoyable presentation featured as part of the collection.  For all that the inclusion of those features does for the set’s presentation, the inclusion of one other detracts notably in its own way, as does the complete lack of effort in titling the collection.  Keeping all of this in mind, the one other positive to this set is its average price point.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make the set a presentation that even with its negatives is still a collection that devotees of The Flintstones will welcome in their home video libraries.

The Flintstones 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a presentation that the most devoted fans of Hanna-Barbera’s beloved TV family will welcome into their home video libraries.  That is due in part to its featured specials and movies, the majority of which are well-known and beloved.  The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones is included in the collection, as are the equally well-known I Yabba-Dabba Do in which Pebbles and Bam-Bam finally get married, bringing together the Flintstones and the Rubbles at long last.  Even the 1993 special Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby is featured as part of the collection’s body.  It is in this prime-time special that Pebbles and Bam Bam become parents themselves, continuing their families’ collective lineage.  As if that is not enough, the lesser-known 1978 special Little Big League — which pits Fred and Barney against one another as opposing little league baseball coaches – and The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone – a Halloween-themed episode that finds Fred having to save Wilma from the clutches of Drac…er…Rockula —  are also part of the set.  This collection marks the first time ever that the noted classic specials have ever been released in one single box set.  The 2012 DVD collections from Hanna-Barbera were not official releases.  The specials were placed onto DVD-R discs in on-demand sets.  What’s more, those on-demand DVD-R sets were released separately, meaning audiences had to spend more money to own them in any fashion.  This plays into the set’s other major positive, its average price point, which will be discussed later.  Having all of these classics together in one official set for the first time is very much a selling point for the set.  Of course there is one other “movie” included in the collection that greatly detracts from that presentation.  That “movie” is the WWE-themed presentation Stone Age Smackdown.

Stone Age Smackdown was created through a partnership between Hanna-Barbera, Warner Home Video and WWE.  The “movie” is clearly little more than a cash grab for all involved.  It finds Fred trying to get his family’s vacation money back (after losing it himself) by creating a stone age wrestling mega event.  WWE superstars, such as John Cena, The Undertaker, and Mark Henry all provided their vocal talents to the direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray “movie.”  Its inclusion in place of another more well-known and beloved classic Flintstones special — A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994) – is bewildering.  Sure, A Flintstones Christmas Carol is just one more take on author Charles Dickens’ timeless novel, but there is still a certain heart to the holiday special because it takes a unique approach to the story.  It makes Fred a real Scrooge and Wilma the real star when everyone starring in Bedrock’s annual presentation of A Christmas Carol falls ill with “The Bedrock Bug.”  This use of a community putting on A Christmas Carol and making its lead into its own Scrooge is something that few if any adaptations of A Christmas Carol have done.   Stone Age Smackdown by comparison is clearly aimed at a very specific audience group.  Along with that, that it is aimed at a very specific audience base, it completely breaks up the sense of nostalgia and warm family messages featured in the other stories.  It really should have been omitted in favor of the noted holiday special (and maybe even its companion bonus holiday episode of The Flintstones).  Luckily, even with all of this noted, audiences do have the option to not watch that awful WWE-themed “movie” and the holiday specials are available on their own readily available standalone official DVD.  So the collection is not a total failure to that end.  It is not the set’s only con.  The fact that the set’s title is so lacking in any selling value detracts from its presentation, too.

The title of the new Flintstones specials and movies set is very simple:  2 Movies & 5 Specials.  The very use of the numbers hurts the title.  If it had stuck just with Movies & Specials, it would have worked, but that use of the numbers just does not work.  That is because the lines of what is defined a “special” and a “movie” are so blurred nowadays.  Case in point for comparison are the Peanuts primetime TV specials.  The only pure movie that has been produced from that property is The Peanuts specials.  The “Happiness Is…” DVDs and Blu-rays are just specials.  All of the classic holiday presentations are specials, not movies.  Taking that into account, the collection’s title does not ruin its presentation, but it cannot be ignored.  Together with the inclusion of that noted WWE-themed “movie,” this collection suffers plenty, but is not completely unwatchable.  They are just more examples of how the people at Warner Home Video continue to this day to come up short in their home releases.  The company has failed with its Hats Off To Doctor Seuss collection, its unnecessary recent re-issue of the Batman Beyond complete series set, some of its Tiny Toon Adventures DVD sets, the Scooby-Doo! and Scrappy-Doo: The Complete Season 1 set, and even its 2014 released Flintstones Kids collection.  Keeping that in mind, even with its failings, this set is not a complete failure.  It does have at least one other positive in the form of its average price range.

The average price range for The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is $14.87.  That price is obtained by averaging prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Walmart offer the least expensive listing at $9.96.  Target and Best Buy each list the set at $14.99, just above the noted average price point.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million have the set listed respectively at $19.31 and $19.98.  They are the retailers for audiences to avoid while the others still give audiences plenty of options.  Those four relatively affordable price options couple with the overall positive content to show why that financial aspect is so important to this set’s presentation.  Even with the one confusing addition to the set in the form of Stone Age Smackdown, that price is still a point that audiences will find appealing in its own right.  Hopefully one day, this collection will get its own re-issue with the Flintstones Christmas Carol in place of that awful WWE “movie.”  Until then though, this set is still a positive presentation for any true devotee of The Flintstones.

The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a positive but imperfect presentation from Warner Home Video, Hanna-Barbera and WWE.  It succeeds in large part because of the inclusion of so many classic Flintstones movies and TV specials.  They reach all the way back to 1966 and all the way up to 1993.  For all of the good that those specials do for the set’s presentation, its one modern “movie,” 2015’s Stone Age Smackdown detracts considerably.  Thankfully it does not make the set a failure, since audiences do not have to watch that forgettable presentation.  The set’s title detracts from its presentation, too, but not so much that it makes the set unwatchable, either.  Considering that there is more positive content featured in this collection than bad, the average price point of less than $15 proves itself a positive investment for families.  That item, considered with the overall content, makes The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials a welcome addition to the home DVD library of any devotee of The Flintstones.  More information on the DVD is available along with all of the latest Flintstones news at http://www.facebook.com/TheFlintstones.

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Arrow Video’s ‘Flash Gordon’ Re-Issue Is The Movie’s Best Presentation Yet

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group

Arrow Video’s recently released Blu-ray re-issue of Universal’s classic sci-fi flick Flash Gordon is the new gold standard for the movie’s home release.  Released Aug. 18 on Blu-ray and 4KUHD, this latest re-issue of the 1980 comic strip adaptation is the movie’s first domestic re-issue since 2012, when it was re-issued alongside The Last Starfighter, Dune, and the pilot for the original Battlestar Galactica series in a four-disc DVD set.  The movie’s audio and video form the foundation for its latest re-issue, and will be discussed shortly.  The extensive bonus content that accompanies the movie’s home release builds so much on the foundation formed by the movie’s production values.  It will be discussed a little later.  Flash Gordon’s story rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the movie’s latest re-issue a presentation that is without question one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Arrow Video’s new Flash Gordon re-issue is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  From sci-fi fans to fans of comics to action movie aficionados to classic cinema connoisseurs, this movie’s appeal will find plenty of appreciative audiences.  That is proven in part through the production values presented in this re-issue.  The colors in the sets and the costumes are so rich, especially the reds (red was allegedly the favorite color of the movie’s famed Producer Dino De Laurentiis according to information provided in the movie’s bonus content) of Ming’s palace.  In comparison to footage from the movie in its original presentation (which is shown in the noted bonus content), it is clear that painstaking efforts were taken in order bring forth the true, rich color.  If De Laurentiis were alive today, he would be just as impressed by this aspect.  In the same vein, every laser blast and every note of rock band Queen’s feature-length soundtrack is expertly balanced, enhancing the viewing experience for audiences even more.  Even a minor touch, such as the ambient sounds of Planet Mongol and its moons get their own attention.  From that production aspect to the noted deep, rich colors and the balance in the music and sound effects, it is clear that painstaking efforts were made in order to offer viewers the best possible presentation once again.  It’s another way in which Arrow Video continues to prove itself one of the leading names in the home media world.  Those efforts also go a long way toward making this presentation so enjoyable for viewers.  It is just one of the most notable aspects of the movie’s new home re-issue, too.  Its bonus content adds even more enjoyment to its presentation.

The bonus content that is featured in Flash Gordon’s latest re-issue is extensive to say the absolute least.  Audiences get two separate feature length audio commentaries, — one from director Mike Hodges and the other from star Brian Blessed (who played Prince Vultan) – a series of interviews with the movie’s cast and crew, two episodes of the Flash Gordon cartoon series, and a vintage “making of” featurette as well as photo galleries from the movie’s creation.  The bonus content alone makes for literally hours of entertainment and engagement.  The vintage making of featurette reveals that creation of the set for Ming’s palace alone took four months.  That and the other sets were so extensive that production had to take place primarily in a six-million cubic foot aircraft hangar.  It was just one of the facilities that was used for the movie’s production.  As director Mike Hodges reveals (off the cuff) during his audio commentary, Elstree Studio was also used.  That is the same studio in which Star Wars was created by George Lucas.  This is especially important to note because it is also revealed in one of the bonus discussions, that George Lucas apparently wanted to make Flash Gordon before Star Wars, but could not afford the rights, so he ended up making Star Wars.  How is that for a little six-degrees of separation?

As if everything already noted here is not enough reason to check out the bonus content, viewers will learn that there apparently was quite a bit of tension behind the scenes during the movie’s creation.  Hodges points out during his commentary that De Laurentiis viewed the movie’s creation in a very serious fashion, even though Allin was extremely displeased with the final product.  The vintage making of featureette does point out that De Laurentiis was himself very much a Flash Gordon “fan boy” prior to producing the movie.  To that point, his “seriousness” was perhaps chalked up to that fandom, even though he might not have thought he was going to such extreme.  There is nothing wrong with his approach, either, since he wanted to pay proper tribute to the original, timeless Flash Gordon comic strip.

Allin, on the other hand, said during the new bonus featurette “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” that he and Roeg wanted to make a serious film in Flash Gordon complete with sociopolitical commentary, but that De Laurentiis wanted to stay true to the original Flash Gordon comic strip, which ran daily from 1934 to ’92.  Its Sunday edition continued until 2003.  The movie does just that with its special effects and its overall look (what with its costumes and sets).  The short and simple here is that Allin and Roeg’s story would have been a good fit among today’s comics based movies (since dark, brooding stories are about all that audiences get nowadays in comics-based movies).  De Laurentiis’ version has remained a cult favorite for four decades meanwhile maybe because of his dedication to its source material.  Regardless of which side viewers take, all of the noted discussions are sure to engage audiences thoroughly and generate plenty of discussion among audiences.  All things considered here (along with the bonus content not directly noted – again the bonus content here in fully immersive) the bonus content featured with Arrow Video’s recent Flash Gordon re-issue more than makes the movie worth owning.  When it is considered with the outstanding production values presented in this re-issue, the two elements together make for so much enjoyment for audiences.  They are still not all of the positives provided in the movie.  The movie’s central story adds even more to that enjoyment.

The story at the center of Flash Gordon is relatively easy to understand.  It starts with Flash and Dale Arden taking a flight somewhere (it’s never pointed out where the pair is going interestingly enough) and ending up crashing in the lab of the mad scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov.  Zarov basically kidnaps the duo and the trio ends up flying into space where they end up rocketing to another galaxy that is ruled by the evil emperor Ming The Merciless.  Along the way Flash unites the peoples of the worlds ruled by Ming, befriending them in the process.  The story has a happy ending, but also leaves the door open for a sequel (which going back to the bonus content, could have happened, but never did).  It has to be assumed in the movie’s story that as the clock reaches zero near the movie’s end, Ming does stop his attack on Earth before his alleged death, though that is never made 100 percent certain.  The only way audiences can assume the Earth is safe comes in the final scene in which Dale tells Flash that she is a New York girl and would rather go home than stay on the planet Mongol.  Next to that note, the only other odd note from the story is centered on all of star Sam J. Jones’ constant costume changes.  It just so happens that everything he wears is Flash Gordon-themed.  It is never fully explained where he gets all of his attire, but oh well.  That aside, the story’s simple approach is very much in line with the original Flash Gordon comic strip.  Yes, comics often do have deep philosophical language, but they are also meant to entertain the masses, and that is what this story does.  It entertains while also presenting at least some philosophy.  To that end, the story succeeds just as much as the movie’s bonus content and its production values.  When all three elements are considered together, they make the movie in whole the best presentation yet of this cult classic flick.

Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Flash Gordon is an applause-worthy presentation that will appeal to a wide ranger of viewers.  That is proven in part through the movie’s production, which fully brings out the deep, rich colors in the sets and costumes.  The same can be said of the movie’s sound, which is so well-balanced in terms of the soundtrack and special effects noises.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s new re-issue will immerse audiences even more in the movie.  From everything noted here to other items, such as the realization that Queen was not the first choice for the movie’s soundtrack, and the note that the movie never got the merchandising push that other movies have gotten over the years, the bonus content adds so much of its own appeal to the movie.  The movie’s simple story does its own part to appeal to audiences with its simple presentation.  All three items noted here are important in their own way to the whole of the movie’s latest re-issue.  All things considered, they make this presentation, the best yet for the movie.

More information on Arrow Video’s Flash Gordon re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

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