Audiences Of All Ages Will “Dig” ‘Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs’

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Splash Entertainment

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Splash Entertainment

Lionsgate has officially released the latest installment in its long-running Alpha & Omega series, Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs.  The series’ sixth installment, it is another enjoyable addition to the family friendly animated franchise.  The movie’s writing is the most important of its elements.  This applies to the movie’s main story and to its underlying eco-friendly message.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as its writing.  Last but hardly last of note in this movie is its collective run time and pacing.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s presentation.  Altogether they make this movie another enjoyable installment in Lionsgate’s Alpha & Omega franchise and worth at least one watch.

The latest addition to Lionsgate’s Alpha & Omega franchise, Alpha & Omega Dino Digs is another enjoyable installment in the studio’s ongoing series of adventures from the wolfpack.  Its ranking from the series best to worst is up to each given viewer.  But it can be said in watching this forty-seven minute movie that it is worth at least one watch regardless of where viewers feel it fits into the franchise’s overall picture.  The main reason for this is the movie’s writing, courtesy of Tom Kane.  This applies both to the movie’s story and its underlying eco-friendly message.  Kate and Humphrey’s pups –Stinky, Claudette, and Runt—are once again at the fore of the franchise in this story. This time the trio discovers a prehistoric pal named Amy (voiced by Erin Fitzgerald – Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Sabrina: The Animated Series, Bleach) who has magically come to life when the site of her burial is dug up by an unscrupulous Native American and his henchman.  The group aims to turn sacred Native lands into a golf resort.  It’s up to the pups to get Amy back to the site of her burial so that her spirit can be returned to its rightful place.  It’s a pretty simplistic story.  Kane even goes so far at one point to poke fun at himself for its seemingly contrived nature, beating the critics to the punch instead of allowing them to throw their verbal and written punches.  It plays right into another element of the story’s writing that should be noted.  The element in question is the story’s underlying eco-friendly message.

The story at the heart of Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs is a very simple piece to follow.  It received quite a bit of criticism when the movie was accidentally streamed online in whole via Splash Entertainment’s website.  But the reality is that far more outrageous and unbelievable stories have been turned out by much bigger studios throughout Hollywood’s history.  To that extent, the story at the heart of this Alpha & Omega flick is actually worth at least one watch.  It is just one important part of what makes the movie’s writing so important to its presentation in whole.  The eco-friendly message that is embedded within the movie’s story is just as important to the movie’s presentation as the story itself.  The message in question is presented as the sacred land in which Kate and Humphrey plan to settle is being plundered by the previously noted (and unnamed) businessman.  His brother notes that what is happening should not be happening as nature will react in the same way that it is treated.  This sentiment is echoed at random points throughout the movie. But luckily it isn’t inserted so much as to be considered preachy.  Keeping that in mind, the eco-friendly message that essentially serves as the movie’s foundation proves to be just as important in the movie’s overall writing and presentation as its story.  As important as both elements are collectively to the movie, the writing in whole is not the only important part of the movie’s presentation.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its overall writing.

Tom Kane’s work behind Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs is unquestionably important to the movie’s presentation.  The plot might seem somewhat outrageous on the surface.  But in reality it is no more outrageous than the plot of so many other movies (both for kids and adults).  The eco-friendly message that serves as the movie’s foundation strengthens the writing even more.  That is because it doesn’t come across as being preachy (again unlike so many other movies).  As important as the movie’s writing proves to be to its presentation it is just one part of the movie’s presentation that should be noted.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as the movie’s writing.  Once again, Kate and Humphrey’s pups Stinky, Claudette, and Runt are at the center of the story as with so many of the franchise’s recent installments.  Those behind the pups are to b commended for their work, too.  They are Kate Higgins, Hunter Swan, and Lindsay Torrance.  Higgins is the voice of not only Stinky but also the pups’ mom Kate.  Hunter Swan handles voice duties for Runt. And Lindsay Torrance brings voice to Claudette.  The trio’s initial reaction in discovering Amy is one example of what makes their work notable.  They do a good job of capturing the pups’ innocence in their curiosity.  Their reaction to discovering Amy is just as fun for the whole family as is their initial reaction to the new “cave” home.  Between these moments and others throughout the movie, it can be said of the trio’s work that it stands out in this otherwise standard offering from Lionsgate and Splash Entertainment.  Chris Smith is notable in his own right as the voice of the pups’ godfathers Marcel and Paddy.  Viewers will be entertained by the snooty, comical personality that Smith gives the pair.  Even with Smith being a supporting actor he still adds his own touch to the movie as the pair’s voice.  His work and that of his cast mates, when set against the work of the movie’s cast, to show even more why this movie is another Alpha & Omega story that the whole family will *ahem* dig.  The cast’s work is still not the only element that makes this movie worth at least one watch.  The story’s pacing is just as important to its presentation as its writing and the work of its voice cast.

The work of both writer Tom Kane and the voice cast behind Lionsgate’s latest Alpha & Omega installment are clearly important in their own way to the movie’s overall presentation.  Collectively they are even more important to the movie’s presentation as they are alone.  As important as they are to the movie’s presentation they are not the movie’s only important elements.  The movie’s collective run time and pacing is just as important to note in its overall presentation as the work of its writers and cast.  The movie clocks in at only forty-seven minutes.  That is about average for each of this franchise’s installments.  Thanks to the work, again, of the movie’s writer that time passes right by before audiences even realize it has ended.  It never lags or moves too fast at any one point throughout the movie.  Thanks to Kane’s concerted efforts, it keeps the action moving just enough from the movie’s opening setup to the pups’ first meeting with Amy all the way up to their bittersweet final farewell to the friendly female dino.  Thanks to that balance of energy audiences will never feel left behind or lost to any extent. It is because of this that the story’s pacing is deserving of being noted as one of its positives.  When it is set alongside the work of the movie’s cast and its writer, the movie proves to be a work that that the whole family will “dig.”

Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs has been received to quite the mixed reception by audiences and critics ever since its release in stores earlier this month.  It is not a perfect production.  That is clear through its computer-based animation.  The problems posed by the animation in question are not enough to overpower the positives presented by the movie.  Its eco-friendly story is simple enough for audiences of any age to follow.  And in all honesty it is no more outrageous than the fare presented by the likes of Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks or Lionsgate’s other counterparts.  What’s more the eco-friendly message that serves as the story’s foundation avoids becoming preachy at any point.  The work of the movie’s cast adds its own interest to the movie.  The story’s pacing never wavers from beginning to end.  Each of its three acts maintains receives the same energy and attention.  The end result is a story that will certainly keep audiences entertained and engaged if for that reason alone.  The acting and writing add to that mix to make the movie a whole that audiences of all ages will “dig” with just on watch or more.  Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=dino%20digs.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

 

 

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‘Death Becomes Her’ Has Plenty Of Life And Laughs

Courtesy: Scream! Factory/Universal

Courtesy: Scream! Factory/Universal

Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep, and Goldie Hawn are about as far apart as three actors can get from one another in terms of their bodies of work.  Willis is largely known for his work on 20th Century Fox’s hugely popular Die Hard franchise.  Hawn largely made a name for herself in the 1980s and ‘90s in movies such as Overboard (1987), Private Benjamin (1980), and The First Wives Club (1996).  Streep on the other hand has remained one of Hollywood’s top draws to this day, exhibiting her broad range of talents in the likes of The Devil Wears Prada (2006), The River Wild (1994), and Julie and Julia (2009) just to name a few of her entries.  She also singlehandedly saved the otherwise lackluster biopic The Iron Lady in 2011 and spread her wings just as much (if not more) in the 2002 indie flick Adaptation.  So it goes without saying that when the trio teamed up in 1992 for Universal’s Death Becomes Her it was anybody’s guess how the movie would turn out.  The original reception to the movie was lukewarm at best.  And sadly it has remained a relatively forgotten and underappreciated title for all three actors.  Yet now thanks to Shout! Factory it has gotten a new lease on life in a new “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray re-issue.  It proves in its new re-issue to be well-deserving of a second chance.  That is especially the case considering how little Hollywood has to offer in theaters today.  In shorter wording, its story alone makes it well worth that second chance.  That will be discussed shortly.  The special effects that were utilized in the movie are just as important to note as the movie’s story.  Last but hardly least of note in this movie’s presentation is the work of its cast.  Willis, Streep, and Hawn are surprisingly entertaining together.  Their work rounds out the movie’s most important features.  Of course one can’t ignore the new “Making Of” featurette included in this presentation of the movie.  It is not what would be considered one of the movie’s main elements.  But it is an interesting bonus in its own right.  Keeping this in mind, each of the elements noted here is important in its own right to the movie’s new re-issue.  Altogether they give a whole new life to this undervalued offering from Universal.

Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of Death Becomes Her breathes new life into what has been an otherwise forgotten flick from Universal.  It proves in the long run to be a movie that was then and is now an undervalued offering from the studio.  This is exhibited in large part to the movie’s writing.  More specifically it is exhibited in large part through the story at the heart of the movie.  The story is centered on a rather familiar plot—a love triangle leading to murder.  It’s the basis of so many movies (especially Lifetime movies) and episodes of Dateline and 48 Hours.  Yet in the case of this movie the writing team of Martin Donovan and David Koepp has given that familiar plot quite the paranormal twist of sorts here.  Rather than just letting Madeline (Streep) stay dead, Donovan and Koepp prove that indeed sometimes they come back again.  Yes, that was in itself a bad pun, for any other movie buffs out there that get it.  Thanks to a magical potion Madeline comes back to life after supposedly being killed by Ernest (Willis).  This leads to a confrontation with Ernest’s ex-wife Helen (Hawn) and the revelation that Helen had also taken the potion, leaving both women immortal.  After a brief conflict the pair reconciles and agrees that they both now need Ernest in order to remain in pristine condition due to his talents as a mortician.  The result will leave anyone with a real sense of humor laughing right to the story’s final scene.  The story itself is dark.  But it is still funny in its own right.  It also is just the surface of what makes the movie’s story so entertaining.  As is discussed in the new “Making Of” featurette included in the movie’s re-issue, the real story at the heart of the story is the story of Hollywood’s shallow, self-centered nature.  This will be explained in more depth later.  Getting back on track, the twist that Koepp and Donovan put on an otherwise all-too familiar plot line makes the movie’s central story a breath of fresh air especially when compared to the stories currently being churned out by Hollywood’s Big Six studios.  The movie’s story is just one element that makes it worth the watch.  The special effects that are incorporated into the movie are just as important to note as the movie’s allegorical story.

The story at the center of Death Becomes Her is in itself both funny and thought provoking.  That makes the movie well worth the watch in its new re-issue.  It is just one of the elements that makes the movie so entertaining.  The special effects that are incorporated into the movie are just as notable as its dual-pronged story.  This is another topic tackled in the new “Making Of” featurette included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue.  The use of computer generated special effects was a relatively foreign concept at the time in which Death Becomes Her was filmed.  This is another topic tackled in the new “Making Of” featurette included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue.  It will be discussed later, too.  Staying on the subject at hand, the special effects that were used to bring Madeline and Helen back to life are collectively a wonderful touch to the movie.  That is not just because of their use but because of their look, too.  There is almost a certain cartoonish look to the special effects in question that audiences will love.  One moment in which this is exhibited comes as Helen hits Madeline over the head with a shovel.  Madeline’s head is pushed into her shoulders, making her look like a turtle.  It is in fact a bit that has been used by quite a few cartoons.  Madeline pulling her head out of her shoulders and straightening it is just as familiar and funny.  In another equally entertaining scene, Madeline throws a pole through the hole that had only minutes earlier been blown in Helen’s body when Madeline shot her.  The action itself, and Madeline’s reaction are both priceless.  It’s one more way in which the special effects prove so important to the movie’s overall presentation.  It isn’t the last, either.  Audiences will be interested to learn that as Ernest hangs precariously from a gutter pipe late in the movie, he is not as high up as it seems.  There was obviously some move magic going on there.  But thanks to the work of those behind the scenes, it actually looks believable.  It isn’t just one of those scenes where a subject is splashed up against a blue (or green) screen with a random background haphazardly thrown in.  It really does look like Willis is hanging high atop the building so close to his own demise.  And even as he falls from the building (not to give away too much) the corridor of sorts through which he falls is clearly computer generated.  Yet it still doesn’t look anywhere as bad as similar sequences used in other movies both before and since.  That is a real tribute to the work put in by those responsible for handling the movie’s special effects.  It is yet another way in which the movie’s special effects show themselves to be so important to the overall presentation of Death Becomes Her.  There are plenty of other moments that could be cited, too.  When those moments are set alongside the moments noted here, the whole of said moments gives the movie just as much “life” as its story.  Keeping this in mind, the story at the center of Death Becomes Her and the movie’s special effects make this movie quite the entertaining horror/comedy hybrid.  They are not the movie’s only notable elements.  The cast’s work in front of the cameras is yet another notable part of the movie’s whole.

The story at the center of Death Becomes Her and the special effects that are incorporated in to the movie are both key to the movie’s overall presentation in their own way.  The story takes an all too familiar plot and gives it a funny albeit dark, almost Tim Burton-esque twist.  The cartoonish special effects that are used add even more enjoyment to the movie.  That is because they show neither the cast nor crew took themselves or the movie too seriously.  They will leave any viewer laughing at their look.  Both elements in themselves are hugely important to the movie’s presentation.  Collectively they show why this movie deserved to have been resurrected (bad pun fully intended).  As important as they are they are not the movie’s only important element.  The cast’s work in front of the cameras should be noted, too.  It was previously noted that Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Goldie Hawn each come from a very different background.  That is in reference to the films in which they have starred.  Considering this one can only imagine the uncertainty in bring the trio together on camera.  Yet surprisingly all three actors worked quite well together.  Bruce Willis, at that time, was known largely for his action roles.  Yet he actually pulls off quite well the role of Ernest.  Ernest’s alcoholic, somewhat neurotic persona comes through expertly thanks to Willis’ take on the character.  Again, considering that this was something of a departure for Willis, he is to be commended for his work here.  One of his best moments comes as Madeline and Helen are fighting in the background.  The camera focuses on him and he says something to the extent of, “If anyone needs me I’ll be upstairs.”  Willis’ deadpan delivery of the line is a great contradiction to the chaos behind him.  And his reaction early on when he discovers that Madeline is alive when she should be dead is just as funny.  For those who are familiar with the classic horror comedy Arsenic and Old Lace Willis channels a little bit of Cary Grant in this moment.  It is just one more of so many great moments from Willis in the movie and just one more way in which the movie’s cast proves so entertaining.  Meryl Streep is wonderful to watch in her own right as Madeline Ashton.  One can’t help but wonder in watching her take on the self-centered, egotistical woman, if perhaps she channeled a little bit of her for her role in The Devil Wears Prada.  That is inferred from early on as she pushes her assistant aside in her dressing room.  Her constant verbal abuse of Ernest hints at her character as an influence for Miranda Priestly, too.  Goldie Hawn is just as entertaining as Helen.  This is especially true early on as Helen resides in a mental ward.  The deadpan manner in which she says, “Yes, I want to talk about…..Madeline Ashton” is perfect.  Her timing of the line is just as expert.  The reaction of the other actresses in the scene makes the moment all the funnier.  They obviously did not want to hear about Madeline Ashton again.  Her reactions to her body falling offer just as much entertainment as do so many other moments.  Between those comical moments and those presented by her cast mates, the overall work of the movie’s cast offers plenty of laughs from the movie’s opening scene to its end.  They show in whole that the cast’s work is indeed just as important as that of the movie’s writing team and those behind the lens.  All things considered Death Becomes Her proves in the end to be an undervalued and underappreciated movie and one that more than deserved its new life.

Death Becomes Her is an undervalued and underappreciated cinematic work.  Looking at everything that it has to offer it is clear that it more than deserved its new life.  This is exhibited through the work of the movie’s writing team, its crew, and its cast.  As important as these elements are to the movie one would be remiss to ignore the bonus “Making Of” featurette that is included in Shout! Factory’s new BD re-issue of the movie.  It offers new interviews with both writers and the cast that offer a whole new insight into the movie and what makes it so undervalued.  The movie’s original “Making Of” featurette is also included alongside the new feature.  The two features together paint quite an interesting picture not just of the movie but of the cast and crew then and now.  It shows that little has changed in terms of the opinions held by the cast and crew.  With any luck, audiences that perhaps have seen the movie before will take that into account along with the movie’s story, its special effects, and the cast’s work on camera, and have their own change of opinion to the positive should their opinions previously have been more negative.  With any luck said viewers (and those new to the movie) will see in its new re-issue just how undervalued and underappreciated it is and that it indeed deserved the new life that it has received thanks to Shout! Factory.

It should be clear by now that while not a major hit Death Becomes Her is an undervalued and underappreciated movie.  It is a work that more than deserved a new life.  It is evident in the movie’s writing.  It is just as evident in the movie’s special effects and the work of the movie’s cast.  The new bonus “Making Of” featurette and the companion original “Making Of” featurette partner to enrich the movie’s viewing experience even more.  All things considered, Death Becomes Her shows in the end to be a movie with plenty of life and that deserved new life.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-comedy/death-becomes-her-collector-s-edition.  More information on this and other titles from Scream! Factory—Shout! Factory’s horror division—is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/scream-factory

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/scream_factory

 

 

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The Wolf Pack Is Back In Another Alpha And Omega Adventure

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate has another installment in its Alpha & Omega franchise on the way.

Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, May 10th.  This time out Humphrey, Kate, and their pups have to find a new den.  In their search for a new home, the group uncovers a friendly female raptor named Amy who was magically brought back to life during a big dig.  The group shows Amy all of the great things about her new world.  Along the way though, it turns out the Amy is not the only dinosaur that was uncovered during that big dig.  There is also a giant T-Rex that could be brought back to life, too.  So it’s up to the wolf pack to keep that from happening.  Families can find out for themselves what happens when they purchase Alpha & Omega: Dino Digs exclusively on DVD + Digital combo pack in stores and online.  It will retail for MSRP of $14.98 and can be pre-ordered online now via Lionsgate’s online store at a discounted price of $11.98.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

 

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Arrow Video, MVD To Unleash The Killer Tomatoes Again This Summer

Courtesy:  Arrow Video/MVD Visual

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Visual

Arrow Video and MVD Visual have partnered to re-issue one of the best of the worst B-movies in Hollywood history this summer when they release Return of the Killer Tomatoes.

Arrow Video and MVD Visual will release Return of the Killer Tomatoes on Tuesday, June 28th.  The movie, originally released in 1988, is the sequel to the campy 1978 action horror Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  The movie picks up a decade after the Great Tomato War. The world still lives in fear of another attack from the killer tomatoes.  The evil madman Professor Gangreen (Jon Astin – The Addams Family, Recess, Taz-Mania) preys on that fear and creates an army of tomato militia men in yet another attempt to take over the country.  It just so happens that these “men” look quite a bit like real men.  The movie also stars a then very young George Clooney (O Brother, Where Art Thou!, Roseanne, ER) as Matt Stevens, Chad Finletter’s (Anthony Starke – Prison Break, The George Carlin Show, License To Kill) roommate.  Chad is the nephew of Wilbur Finletter (played once again by J. Stephen Peace – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Happy Hour, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes TV Series).

Return of the Killer Tomatoes will be released Tuesday, June 28th.  It will be available in stores and online exclusively on Blu-ray and can be ordered direct online via MVD Visual’s online store at http://mvdb2b.com/s/ReturnOfTheKillerTomatoes/AV057.  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

 

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Shout! Factory To Re-Issue Classic Adaptation Of The Merchant Of Venice

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

William Shakespeare is one of the greatest playwrights of all time if not the greatest.  His plays have been adapted more times than any one person can count both on stage and screen throughout the ages.  And next month Shout! Factory will re-issue just one of those many adaptations when it releases a made-for-TV take of Shakespeare’s comedy The Merchant of Venice.

Shout! Factory will release The Merchant of Venice on Friday, May 17th.  The 1973 take on the timeless play stars Sir Laurence Olivier (Spartacus, Rebecca, Clash of the Titans) opposite then wife Joan Plowright (101 Dalmatians, Dennis The Menace, Bringing Down The House) as Slylock.  Plowright plays the part of Portia, love interest to leading man Bassanio (Jeremy Brett – My Fair Lady, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles).  Bassanio is in love with Portia.  But in order to win her hand and her heart he needs money.  So he takes a loan from Shylock.  The problem is that it turns out Bassanio can’t pay back Shylock’s loan.  So it’s up to Portia to save Bassanio from a very bad fate.  Anthony Nicholls (Othello, A Man for All Seasons, The Omen) stars as Bassanio’s friend Antonio.  The movie is taken from the 1970 National Theatre stage production. Which also starred the same cast as is present here.

The Merchant of Venice will be released Tuesday, May 17th in stores and online.  It will be available exclusively on DVD and will retail for MSRP of $19.97.  It can be pre-ordered online now at a discounted price of $16.97 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-drama/the-merchant-of-venice.  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

 

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Shout! Factory To Re-Issue Classic Crime Thriller Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Shout! Factory is set to release another cinema classic this spring.

Shout! Factory will re-issue Universal Studio’s classic 1965 thriller I Saw What You Did May 17th.  The movie, which stars Joan Crawford in a rare supporting role, will be available in stores and online exclusively on Blu-ray.  It comes just as the countdown to summer vacation starts and the weather really starts to warm up, giving audiences one more way to beat the heat.  The movie’s script follows a pair of teenagers that get themselves in quite a bit of trouble when their habit of making prank phone calls backfires on them.  The pair—Libby Mannering (Andi Garrett – The Wild Wild West) and Kit Austin (Sara Lane – The Virginian¸The Trial of Billy Jack, Billy Jack Goes To Washington) likes to call people, telling them, “I saw what you did, and I know who you are.”  To the pair, it’s all fun and games.  But when they call Steve Marek (John Ireland – Red River, All The King’s Men, Spartacus) things turn very bad for the teens.  That is because it turns out that Marek had just killed his wife.  And he is not about to let it be known that he did.  What happens as a result will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.  William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, 13 Ghosts) helmed the project.

I Saw What You Did will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, May 17th.  It will retail for MSRP of $29.99 but can be pre-ordered now at a discounted price of $24.99 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/i-saw-what-you-did.  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

 

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The Peanuts Movie Dishonors Charles Schulz’s Legacy

Courtesy:  Blue Sky Studios

Courtesy: Blue Sky Studios

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang are among the most iconic and beloved figures in American pop culture history.  More than sixty-five years ago Charlie Brown and company were first introduced to America.  Since that time generations of audiences have been introduced to the Peanuts gang both in print and on screen.  Being that the Peanuts franchise has proven to be since its inception one can’t help but wonder why in 2011 the new feature Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown was released.  That new take on the Peanuts gang proved to be anything but a success.  One would think that considering the lackluster response to that abomination of a Peanuts special, there wouldn’t be another attempt to update the Peanuts gang anymore.  That assumption obviously proved wrong as Blue Sky Studios—the studio behind the apparently never-ending Ice Age franchise—teamed up with Schulz’s son Craig and grandson Bryan, and Cornelius Uliano to develop a “new” (the term “new” is used very loosely here) Peanuts feature in 2015.  The feature, simply titled The Peanuts Movie, tried to masquerade as something new and original but in reality was anything but.  The reality of this creation is that it was little more than a quick and largely forgettable cash grab for Blue Sky Studios.  This is exemplified largely through the movie’s piecemeal story.  That will be discussed shortly.  While the story presented within The Peanuts Movie is anything but laudable, the movie isn’t a complete loss.  To its credit (or to the credit of those behind its design, rather) there obviously were painstaking efforts to actually recreate the original look of the Peanuts universe.  To that extent that part of the movie must be lauded.  While the movie’s look does its part to at least try to save the movie’s presentation it sadly isn’t enough.  Along with the movie’s story, its young actors pale in comparison to those that originally brought the Peanuts gang to life so many years ago.  Yes, there were various groups that voiced the characters in those features.  Some were better in those cases than others, too.  This is one of those cases in which the cast was not as laudable.  Due to this and, again, the movie’s hardly thought out script the end result of this movie is a work that is one of the worst of the Peanuts presentations in recent memory.

Blue Sky Studios’ new Peanuts presentation is one of the franchise’s worst presentations in recent memory if not its worst to date. It is clear in watching the movie, which comes in at less than ninety minutes, that it is really little more than a cash grab for Blue Sky Studios.  That is most obvious in the movie’s script.  The script, which was crafted by the father-son duo of Craig and Bryan Schulz (Charles Schulz’s son and grandson), and co-writer Cornelius Uliano makes absolutely no effort to pay any true respect to the legacy of Charles Schulz’s characters or his own legacy for that matter.  Rather it just tosses together elements of said classics haphazardly with no regard for any real storytelling.  It’s obvious in what they did that they hoped that viewers’ nostalgia would kick in and overpower their common sense when watching the movie, thus leading them to love this mess of a movie–even though they know they shouldn’t.  Even at its base the movie’s story is anything but original.  It tells a story of how Charlie Brown first met the little red-haired girl.  Did the world really need this?  The answer is a simple “no.”  The whole story follows Charlie Brown as he attempts (yet again) to impress the little red-haired girl.  Along the way father and son, along with Uliano, add in the underlying story of Snoopy’s ongoing battle with the Red Baron.  Again, did the world need this update, too?  Once more the answer is “no.”  The only positive to the whole thing is that the Schulz’s and Uliano kept alive the tradition of not naming the little red-haired girl.  That’s good because there were actually two little red-haired girls—Heather and Peggy Jean—in the original franchise.  Heather was the original red-haired girl.  Her name was revealed in Happy New Year, Charlie Brown.  Peggy Jean was introduced in It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown.  Other than that, there is little to nothing redeeming about this movie’s script.  Because of this one can only wonder if the movie is worth even one watch.  It would be worth just one watch in order to see the disservice that it has done to the Peanuts legacy and that of Charles Schulz.  For all of the cons presented by The Peanuts Movie’s script the movie isn’t a total loss believe it not.  Those responsible for the movie’s look are to be applauded for their efforts.  That is because they obviously made a concerted effort to make The Peanuts Movie actually look, stylistically, like the original Peanuts TV features.  They didn’t just go the all-too-commonly used CG route in doing so either.  Rather its look boasts more of an odd, almost claymation look crossed with a hand drawn look.  Claymation likely wasn’t used in the special’s creation.  Odds are those behind the movie’s look did use CG.  But in using it to make the movie look so much like those aforementioned specials, they did an excellent job of attempting to actually pay tribute to that look.  It would have been so easy for them to just go the standard cookie cutter CG route.  But they opted not to go that route.  To that end they are to be applauded.  That is because the end result of that choice is a movie that is redeemed solely by that final look.  Sadly, it’s the movie’s only redeeming element.  For all of the positive that is offered by the movie’s look the work of the movie’s young cast counters it.

The people who were responsible for the look of The Peanuts Movie are to be commended for their work on the movie.  Sadly they are the only people involved in the movie’s creation to be commended.  The men behind the movie’s script did anything but pay tribute to the Peanuts legacy or that of Charles Schulz.  They are not the only ones involved in the movie that detracted from its enjoyment.  The movie’s voice cast put forth a valiant effort in their take on the classic characters.  Sadly they came up short in this case.  To their defense, though they are not the first group to tackle the Peanuts gang.  Those that are familiar with the classic Peanuts TV specials will recall that the voice cast did not remain entirely the same from one TV special to another.  And because of that some portrayals were better than others and vice versa.  This cast’s work is one of the lesser cases.  So many of the portrayals just felt forced here.  That is just this critic’s own interpretation of the cast’s work.  Again, the cast’s work wasn’t a total loss.  There have been far worse portrayals.  Marnette Patterson’s take on Lucy in It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992) is one of those lesser portrayals.  Todd Barbee and Melanie Kohn  were a little bit concerning in It’s A Mystery, Charlie Brown.  So again, while this movie’s cast wasn’t the best of any Peanuts feature it is hardly the worst cast.  To that end the cast’s work does take away from the movie’s experience.  But it doesn’t do so to the level of the movie’s writing team.  Keeping this in mind, The Peanuts Movie proves in the end to be a forgettable and unnecessary incarnation of Charles Schulz’s timeless characters.  And hopefully it will be the last installment for a very long time.

Blue Sky Studios’ “new” installment in the long-running Peanuts franchise is its most forgettable and unnecessary installment.  While it isn’t a total loss of a movie it still proves to be a work that never should have seen the light of day.  That’s the case even with the work of those responsible for the movie’s look.  That is because the script proves to be little more than a quick cash grab for Blue Sky Studios that pays little to not homage to the legacy of the Peanuts gang and that of its creator.  The cast, while not the worst to ever take on the voices of the Peanuts gang, is also hardly the best to ever tackle them.  All things considered The Peanuts Movie proves in the long run to again be the franchise’s most forgettable installment and its most unnecessary, too.  With any luck, it will be the franchise’s last installment for a very long time.  That is because the world doesn’t need “new” installments of Peanuts specials to appreciate Charles Schulz’s creations.  All it needs is the classics.

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