‘The Illusionist’ Maintains Its Cinematic Magic In Its New Latest Re-Issue

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/MVD Entertainment Group/MVD Visual

MVD Entertainment Group has added 20th Century Fox’s period drama The Illusionist to its MVD Marquee collection.  The company is scheduled to re-issue the movie, which stars Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man, 12 Years A Slave), Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk, American History X, Birdman) and Jessica Biel (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, 7th Heaven, I’ll Be Home For Christmas) in its lead roles, on June 25.  The movie itself is one of the most underappreciated movies of the 1990s, and the upcoming re-issue serves to remind audiences of exactly that.  That is due in part to the movie’s story, which will be addressed shortly.  Its bonus content,  which will be addressed a little later, adds even more interest to the re-issue’s presentation.  The collective work of the movie’s cast and crew also adds to the story and will be addressed later.  When it is coupled with the movie’s story, all of the elements together show why this latest presentation of The Illusionist is more cinematic magic.

MVD Entertainment Group’s forthcoming re-issue of 20th Century Fox’s period drama The Illusionist is a positive offering for most audiences.  That is due in part to the movie’s story.  The story — based on a short story crafted by author Steven Millhauser — is a fully-engaging and entertaining presentation that is full of magic, murder, mystery and romance.  Those elements are all expertly balanced throughout the course of the story, too.  It is set in 19th Century Vienna, Austria (but was actually filmed in The Czech Republic – this will be discussed later) and features Norton and Giamatti as Eisenheim and Inspector Uhl respectively.  Eisenheim, who was friends with the Duchess Sophie van Techen (Biel) when the pair was much younger, wants to reconnect with the Duchess.  The problem for Eisenheim is that Uhl, who is working for Crown Prince Leopold (Refus Sewell – A Knight’s Tale, Dark City, Tristan + Isolde), stands in his way.  Eisenheim and Uhl eventually develop a certain almost friendship as the story progresses while tensions between Eisenheim and Leopold increase right up to the story’s climactic conclusion.  The story’s run time is listed at 109 minutes (1 hour, 49 minutes), but because of the pacing, feels longer than that noted time.  What’s truly interesting is that usually when pacing makes a move feel longer than it is, that is a bad thing.  In the case of this story though, it is the exact opposite.  Somehow, writer/director Neil Burger, who adapted Millhauser’s short story to the screen, managed to make the story work even despite that feel.  That is a tribute to his work.  Even with the pacing seeming slow at times, the story is still able to keep viewers engaged and entertained with ease.  The movie’s twist ending gives viewers a finale that is completely fulfilling.  That fulfillment finale, and the ability of the movie’s story to keep viewers engaged and entertained creates a strong foundation for The Illusionist and gives viewers more than enough reason to watch this movie.  As much as the movie’s story does for its presentation, its bonus content adds even more to the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured in MVD Entertainment Group’s forthcoming re-issue of The Illusionist is carried directly over from the movie’s most recent release, its 2007 release.  That includes not just the brief making of featurette and equally brief conversation with Biel, but also the feature-length audio commentary from writer/director Neil Burger.  The commentary is listed, in this re-issue, as an audio option instead of a bonus extra, unlike the 2007 home release, as an added note, but it is still the most important of the movie’s extras.  Burger  presents a lot of information in his commentary, such as the revelation that most of the movie was recorded on site in Prague, Czech Republic and that his adaptation of the original short story The Illusionist is quite different from its literary source material.  Considering the number of differences that he addresses, it makes one want to find said story and see just how different the two stories are.  That is just some of the content revealed through Burger’s commentary. He also reveals that Norton and Biel were not the first choices for their respective roles.  Those discussions are themselves certain to generate plenty of discussion, and in turn are more proof of why Burger’s commentary should have been featured in The Illusionist’s latest re-issue.  They are certainly just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is his commentary.  As the movie progresses, he shares far more that audiences can discover for themselves.  Keeping that in mind, Burger’s bonus commentary builds on the foundation formed by the movie’s story and strengthens it that much more.  It is still not the last of the movie’s positives.  The collective work of the movie’s cast and crew couples with the story and commentary to give audiences even more to appreciate.

The work of all four of the movie’s lead cast members is worthy of applause in its own way throughout the movie.  Burger notes in the movie’s audio commentary (along with so much more already noted) that he made Eisenheim more of a sympathetic character by using Inspector Uhl more than he was in the movie’s source material.  The thing is that Norton’s abilities as an actor did not even call for more inclusion of Uhl.  Given, Norton and Giamatii were just enjoyable on-screen together as they were on their own, but Norton’s own abilities were more than enough to make his work engaging and entertaining in its own right.  His emoting during his time on stage in front of Eisenheim’s audiences is just one example of that talent.  His tears were just as believable as he reaches out for Sophie’s hand in the final act when he is on stage.  The pain that he displays translates so well, even if it is all part of his act to trick everyone.  Much the same can be said of Giamatti that is said of Norton.  When Giamatti is set alongside Sewell, he [Giamatti] shines even more while Sewell, as more of a supporting character, makes it just as easy for audiences to dislike Leopold.  Burger discusses this, too, in the commentary. Viewers will agree with his comments here, too.  What’s more, viewers will also appreciate the discussions by Burger on the amount of research that was done to make The Illusionist look just like 19th Century Vienna in terms of costumes and even buildings.  That research clearly paid off, as the resultant work of the movie’s costume and set designers created an environment that was just as believable as the work of the movie’s cast, getting back on track.  It is even noted by Burger, that Eddie Marsan (who played Eisenheim’s manager) was in his 30s when the movie was crafted, yet he looked like he was in his 50s.  That is another tribute to the work of the movie’s crew.  If one did not know what Burger revealed in the commentary, one would in fact think Marsan was in his 50s.  Getting back on the matter of the cast and crew’s work, it couples with Burger’s work on the movie’s script and his commentary, to make the movie appealing for everyone.

MVD Entertainment Group’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of 20th Century Fox’s The Illusionist is a work that will entertain any true movie buff.  That is due, as noted, in part to the movie’s story.  The story expertly balances elements of magic, murder, mystery and romance to make a whole that will keep viewers engaged from beginning to end.  That is due in part to the movie’s story, adapted by writer/director Neil Burger to the screen and to the commentary provided throughout the movie as a bonus commentary.  The work of the movie’s cast and crew adds to its enjoyment, too.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of The Illusionist.  All things considered, they show why The Illusionist is its own magical cinematic diamond in the rough.  More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://mvdvisual.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

 

 

 

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MVD Entertainment Group Re-Issuing ‘The Andromeda Strain’

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group/Universal Pictures

MVD Entertainment Group is bringing Universal Pictures’ adaptation of the late Michael Crichton’s novel The Andromeda Strain back to home video.

The movie is scheduled for re-issue Tuesday on Blu-ray.  Originally having made its theatrical debut on March 12, 1971, the movie’s story follows a group of scientists who are working to stop an alien virus from wiping out mankind after a satellite carrying the virus crash lands on Earth.

The movie was nominated for two Oscars and a Golden Globe Award, and lauded by the revered film critic Roger Ebert.  Ebert said of the movie, that it is “splendid entertainment.”

The movie’s upcoming re-issue will feature a variety of extras, such as a feature-length audio commentary from critic Bryan Reesman, The featurette, “A New Strain of Science Fiction: A newly-filmed appreciation by critic Kim Newman” and original 2001 featurette, “A Portrait of Michael Crichton,” which features an interview with the late, great author.  The full list of the movie’s extras is noted below.

Bonus Materials

  • New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original camera negative
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-Ray presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio, newly remastered for this release
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by critic Bryan Reesman
  • A New Strain of Science Fiction, a newly-filmed appreciation by critic Kim Newman
  • The Andromeda Strain: Making The Film, an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent Bouzereau and featuring interviews with director Robert Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding
  • A Portrait of Michael Crichton, an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent Bouzereau and featuring an interview with author Michael Crichton
  • Cinescript Gallery, highlights from the annotated and illustrated shooting script by Nelson Gidding
  • Theatrical trailer, TV spots and radio spots
  • Image gallery
  • BD-ROM: PDF of the 192-page “cinescript” with diagrams and production designs
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Tonguette and archive publicity materials

The Andromeda Strain can be ordered online via MVD Entertainment Group’s official online store.  More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.mvdvisual.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

 

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‘Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes’ Re-Issue Proves Again The Importance Of Re-Issues In the Movie Industry

Courtesy: Four Square Productions/MVD Entertainment/MVD Visual

“The worst movie of all time.” That is the wording that has often been used to describe Four Square Productions’ 1978 camp cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Yes, the movie is bad, but the fact of the matter is that it is meant to be that bad. It’s too bad that so many people have missed that point over the years. Early this week, MVD Entertainment Group’s movie branch MVD Visual re-issued the so bad it’s great flick on a new DVD/Blu-ray combo pack with brand new bonuses, giving those who still hate the movie another chance to change their minds and see the light while also giving true fans (such as this critic), a brand new opportunity to finally add the movie to their home libraries. There is so much to like about this movie beginning with its story. This will be discussed shortly. While there is a lot to like about this brand new re-issue, there is one minor qualm that must addressed — the sound mixing between the movie’s main menu and the rest of the presentation. It’s minor, but cannot be ignored, and thus, will be discussed later. While the problems with the sound mixing cannot be ignored, they are luckily the movie’s only negative in its brand new re-issue. The bonus material included in this re-issue rounds out its most important elements. Each element is, in itself an important part of this reissue’s overall presentation. All things considered, this cult classic still proves once more why re-issues can be — and often are — just as important annually as the new theatrical releases that fill theaters.

MVD Entertainment/Visual’s brand new re-issue of Four Square Productions’ 1978 camp cult classic (say that five times fast) Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is one of the best movie re-issues that will be released this year. That statement is supported easily in no small part through the movie’s story. The story, in a nutshell, follows the events of an attack by a bunch of…well…killer tomatoes on an unidentified town and the attempts by a rag-tag group of people to stop the fruity (remember, tomatoes are fruits, not vegetables) attack. The only explanation of how the tomatoes came to be was an opening scene showing an experimental garden. Audiences are left to assume that it’s a government establishment. Even as little as it is, it’s still funny, considering that they decided to change the tomatoes’ origin in the movie’s sequel. If that isn’t enough proof of how wonderfully silly this movie’s story is, then the random musical numbers, tickers at the bottom of various scenes with nonsensical phrasing and completely outrageous, over the top acting definitely show why this movie is just a fun, turn-off-your brain ride. Ironically enough, as random and outrageous as this story is, one can say to its benefit even more that the story actually manages somehow to stay on track through it all. It never allows itself to get so sidetracked with its zany material that it gets bogged down. Those behind the story’s creation are to be commended for that, especially as much as is thrown into the mix. Keeping all of this in mind, it should be clear why the movie’s story is so important to its presentation. It’s just a dumb, fun movie that is a laugh riot because it is so dumb. Hopefully those who missed that in the movie’s previous release (and those who have never seen the movie) will see it this time around now that the story is seeing the light of day again. While it is obviously important, it is only one of the reissue’s key elements. One cannot ignore the one glaring issue presented in the movie, its sound mixing.

The sound mixing involved in the movie’s new home re-issue is problematic to say the very least, for the movie’s presentation. As soon as the movie’s main menu comes up, audiences are presented with a decidedly ear-piercing whistle that opens the movie’s main theme. The whole thing is so loud that it forces audiences to push down the volume on their televisions. From there, audiences are then forced to turn the volume back up once the movie starts in order to be able to hear. the same discrepancy happens when going back and forth between the main menu and the bonus material included in the new re-issue. The bonus material is presented at a very low volume while that main menu music was obviously recorded at a very high level. The only option that this critic has found to work is to keep the movie and bonus material at one level and then mute the TV while choosing either so as to not have to endure that overpowering sound of the music on the main menu. It should be noted that this critic has nothing against the movie’s theme. The problem here is the seeming lack of attention that was paid to the audio balance between the movie, menu music and bonus content. If more attention had been paid to balancing each piece’s audio, this new presentation of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes would be perfect. If the movie should ever get another re-issue, hopefully this will serve as a reminder to those re-issuing it next. Now, having discussed this one issue, it should be noted that it is the movie’s only negative. The bonus material is its other positive.

The bonus material included in the movie’s re-issue adds so much to its overall presentation. Audiences are treated to the original 8 mm take of the movie that would serve as the basis for the big screen feature that has gone on to become a cult favorite. They are also treated to the very first movie made by those behind this movie, called Gone With The Babusuland, which is supposed to be a spy movie, and is almost as outrageous as the original take of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. There’s even mention in the included commentary that it could be seen in watching this “movie” how the latter movie could be made. That speaks volumes about each movie’s entertainment value. The audio commentary included in the main feature adds its own depth to the movie’s presentation, too. Right off the top, audiences learn through the commentary that the tomatoes splat so well on the opening credits because they were boiled ahead of time. There’s even note of the meeting scene with the military officials being stolen from a Marx Brothers film. If that doesn’t add some appreciation to this movie, nothing will. Viewers also learn as Mason Dixon is first introduced that the cast did its own stunts and that for some of the shoots, the crew didn’t even get permits, but shot guerilla style. That was brave, and clearly paid off. This is all within the movie’s first 20 minutes or so. The insight and entertainment continue nonstop throughout the movie. As if all of the entertainment and insight offered through the already noted bonuses wasn’t enough, audiences are also treated in the bonus es to a faux doc following where the movie’s cast went after the movie was made including a hilarious short pseudo-conspiracy piece, a sing-a-long feature, in which audiences discover from Director John DeBello that it even gained fame on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Between this and all of the other bonus material included in the movie’s re-issue audiences get so much extra enjoyment, and the movie gets so much more depth to its presentation. It really is the finishing touch to the movie’s presentation in this case. When it is joined with the simply outrageous story at the center of the movie, the whole of those elements makes this presentation more than worth the watch and easily one of the year’s best DVD/BD re-issues. That is the case even despite the issue of the sound editing and mixing here.

MVD Entertainment/Visual’s brand new re-issue of Four Square Productions’ 1978 cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues hands down. Between its laugh riot story and its expansive list of bonuses, the entertainment factor is high here. There is also plenty of insight offered through the commentaries included with the movie and its bonuses. Even with the problems clearly raised through the movie’s lack of audio balance, those noted elements are more than enough to make the movie’s new re-issue worth the watch. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online now at:

Website: http://mvdentertainment.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

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‘Alive At 25’ Is Enjoyable For Its Visual, Not Audio, Experience

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

This past August, veteran rock act Jane’s Addiction marked a major milestone with the 25th anniversary of the release of its seminal 1990 studio recording Ritual de lo Habitual.  Originally released Aug. 21, 1990, the album has gone on to become one of its most important albums if not its most important album.  In celebration of its release, the band released Alive at 25 Aug. 4 of this year.  The recording captures the band performing Ritual de lo Habitual in its entirety at Irvine, CA during its 2016 Silver Spoon Anniversary Tour.  There is plenty to say good about this recording.  As much as there is to say to the positive about the recording, it is not without at least one major flaw.  That flaw – the recording’s audio – will be discussed later.  Getting back to the positives, the very fact that the band is performing one of its most important albums in whole in one set is obviously the most important of the recording’s elements.  This will be discussed shortly.  The recording’s other positive is, interestingly enough, its collective cinematography and video editing.  Each of the elements noted here is important in its own right to the recording’s whole.  All things considered, they make Alive at 25 a concert that is okay, but sadly could have been better.

Jane’s Addiction’s latest live recording Alive at 25 is an enjoyable recording, but only to a point.  The recording’s audio is a factor that cannot be ignored.  It would of course, be unfair to focus only on that negative in examining the recording in whole.  Keeping that in mind, the recording does have its positives as well as its negatives, not the least of which being the fact that the concert presents the band performing Ritual de lo Habitual in whole in one set.  From start to finish, audiences get the band’s landmark album in whole plus some of the band’s more recent works to boot.  What’s really interesting to note in the concert is that front man Perry Farrell makes more than one mention of the band playing at Irvine “one last time.”  Considering that the band is still touring, such statement leaves one wondering what that statement might have meant since there is currently no word on any new music from the band on the way.  Regardless of whether or not that means anything for the future, the very fact that the band has presented here one of its most important albums in whole is still undeniably critical to the recording’s whole.

What’s more, audiences will enjoy the stage presence of guitarist Dave Navarro, bassist Chris Chaney and drummer Stephen Perkins throughout the show.  The trio puts on quite a performance, thankfully making up for Farrell’s seemingly blasé demeanor as he sways around the stage almost listlessly throughout the show.  Their collective work, coupled with the recording’s set list, cinematography and editing serves to give the concert what energy it does have and in turn giving reason to watch the recording at least once.  Of course even with the noted positives, the recording does suffer from the previously noted negative of its audio.

From start to finish, it is clear that this recording was recorded at an extremely low level.  Audiences are forced to nearly max out the volume on their televisions in order to be able to hear the concert.  This is the case even with the pre-show interviews with the band members and applies regardless of the sound setting on viewers’ televisions and whether or not they have home surround sound systems.  Audiences should not be forced to nearly blow out their televisions’ speakers in order to enjoy a concert and then push that volume all the way back down before switching the television back to regular settings.  This may not seem overly important on the surface.  But when examining the recording’s overall presentation, it is just as important to note as the recording’s cinematography and editing, which proves far more impressive.  It is part of the recording’s overall production values, and should have been addressed far more seriously than it apparently was here.  Keeping that in mind, it is the one element that could potentially keep this recording from being named among the year’s top new live recordings by critics next month.  Despite this, the recording is still not a total loss. The aforementioned cinematography and video editing make up for the problems caused by the recording’s audio issues.

The cinematography and video editing exhibited throughout the course of Alive at 25 serves as one of the recording’s cornerstones.  Thanks to the work of those behind the cameras, audiences are presented with a concert experience that visually is not just another run-of-the-mill recording.  Certain fades and visual effects are used throughout the concert to keep audiences engaged and entertained — effects such as black and white shots, slow fades and dissolves, and even the use of slower shutter speeds.  The editing mixes those elements and shots, which are largely presented around the stage, to make the concert here not just a concert, but a standout visual cinematic concert experience. When that is considered along with the previously discussed stage presence of Farrell’s band mates, the two elements together make even more important the concert’s visual elements.  It is that overall visual experience that, when coupled with the show’s set list, makes this recording worth at least one watch.  If the audio had been better, it would have been worth far more.  Ultimately though, that one negative keeps the concert from being worth more than that much.  Keeping all of this in mind, Alive at 25 likely won’t be alive in audiences’ minds far beyond that one watch.

Jane’s Addiction’s latest live recording Alive at 25 is a valiant effort from one of the rock community’s most pivotal bands.  It offers a set list that presents one of the band’s most important albums in whole in one setting, and a performance of that album by most of the band, that is certain to entertain audiences.  The concert’s video work is just as certain to entertain audiences.  Even with all of this in mind, it still is almost not enough to make up for the problems raised by the recording’s audio issues.  If audiences have to nearly max out the audio on their televisions in order to hear the concert, there is not a lot of point to even take in the show. At the same time, audiences should not have to push the volume on their televisions way back down after the concert ends in that continued effort to not blow out their televisions’ speakers.  Keeping all of this in mind, Alive at 25 sadly likely won’t be alive in audiences minds after just one watch.  That is painful to say considering the quality of the band’s past live recordings.  Hopefully the band will take all of this as a learning experience for its next live recording, when and if there will be another live recording from the band.  Alive at 25 is available now in stores and online.  More information on Alive at 25 is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.janesaddiction.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/janesaddiction

 

 

 

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Lionsgate’s Von Trapp Biopic Makes Beautiful Music On Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Independent Movies List

‘Star Paws’ Is A Stellar Miss For Ruthless Studios, MVD Visual

Courtesy: MVD Visual/Ruthless Studios

Courtesy: MVD Visual/Ruthless Studios

MVD Visual has a real knack for releasing impressive documentaries.  This year’s crop of new documentaries is proof of that.  It includes the likes of: Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale of Two Cities and Back in Time just to name a few titles.  That’s just a few titles from this year.  It has released a number of enjoyable documentary titles in past years, too.  While MVD Visual has succeeded quite well in the documentary realm, its cinematic releases are another story.  Those releases have been hit and miss with its foreign import Men and Chicken being one of its rare hits most recently.  Later this month, MVD Visual will release a new children’s flick from indie studio Ruthless Studios called Star Paws that sadly is one of the company’s misses.  This CG/Live Action hybrid is a disappointment not just in the world of children’s movies but in general, too.  There is not a lot to say to the positive about this largely forgettable flick other than it is a good way to get young viewers interested in dinosaurs and paleontology.  Other than that, there is not much that can be said positive about this movie.

Star Paws, the new family flick from Ruthless Studios and MVD Visual is a real miss for MVD Visual in its lengthy list of cinematic features.  There is not a lot that can be said positive about this largely forgettable work.  While it does have at best one positive, that one positive isn’t enough to make up for its negatives, which begin with the very issues of its production values.  The movie’s production values (or lack thereof) make this work look like something that was crafted by a middle school student.  That is evident in an item such as the “time machine,” which is clearly just a box covered in tin foil.  This is only the tip of the massive iceberg that is the movie’s poor quality production values.  Even more troubling is the total imbalance in the movie’s CG elements and live action elements.  The dogs and chickens (yes, chickens) are the only actual animals that are used in the movie.  The dinosaurs and cats are all CG as are the space battle scenes and most of the backgrounds.  Sometimes, the backgrounds are little more than blue screens placed behind the dogs, which gives the movie an even cheaper, low-budget look.  That hurts the movie even more.  At other times, the movie’s crew just used random footage for scene shots.  It only gets worse from here, but that will be discussed later.  For all of the movie’s many negatives, it does have at least one positive.  That positive is the educational content centered on the dinosaurs.

Star Paws is marred by problems from the beginning to the end of its 78-minute run time.  From completely low-budget, amateurish production values to a total historical inaccuracy in its mention of the Civil War (audiences will have to see the movie to understand this) to the abhorrent voice acting, there is little to nothing that can be said to the positive about this movie.  Its one noticeable positive is its educational content centered on dinosaurs.  The movie is to be commended for teaching a very elementary level lesson about dinosaurs that will entertain 4 and 5-year-olds.  While those audiences likely won’t be able to properly pronounce the names of the dinosaurs presented, the information provided about them makes for a good starting point in lessons for teachers and parents about dinosaurs. Other than that one positive, there is nothing else that can be said about this movie, other than the fact that it at least doesn’t even come close to the 90-minute mark.

The educational dinosaur content that is presented in Star Paws is a good starting point both for teachers and parents in developing lessons about said creatures for 4 and 5-year-old audiences.  Other than that one element, there is honestly no other positive to this disappointing extremely low-budget family flick.  It has already been noted that the movie suffers greatly from its production values in so many ways.  The issues that it faces with its embarrassing production values are not the only issues from which it suffers.  It also suffers from poor writing; more specifically a poor story.  The story centers on the race between an evil cat called Adventure Cat and a group of dogs to get a magical prehistoric bone.  The bone in question gives its owner untold power.  Both parties have to travel back to prehistoric times to get the bone, all while dodging dinosaurs (CG dinosaurs for that matter who look like they came from a late 90s video game).  The story ties in the concept of a time loop as a means for Adventure Cat and the dogs to return to their own time.  Even that element’s use can be brought into question in the movie’s overall story.  So much more could be said here.  But the fact of the matter is that there is just not enough time or space to point out all of the problems with this movie’s story.  It is that problematic.  The same can be said of the voice cast’s work, which throughout feels so forced and cheesy to say the very least.  Between these issues, the issues associated with its cheap production values, and other issues, it can be determined that there is no saving Star Paws.  This is even with the one positive in its educational content.  It is a disappointing cinematic offering from MVD Visual and Ruthless Studios.

MVD Visual and Ruthless Studios’ new family flick Star Paws is a disappointing offering from the two independent organizations.  There is sadly little to nothing positive that can be said about this extremely low-budget, live action/CG hybrid story.  It suffers greatly from issues in its writing, its acting and its production values.  Between its writing, voice acting and production values, this movie feels like it is all over the place from start to finish.  Even the one positive—its educational dinosaur content—is not enough to save it, considering its overpowering negatives.  All things considered, Star Paws proves to be a disappointing offering from MVD Visual and Ruthless Studios.  It is more proof, considering MVD Visual’s record with cinematic release, that maybe it should stick with documentary films rather than cinematic works.  More information on this and other titles from Ruthless Studios is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.RuthlessStudios.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RuthlessMovies

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from MVD Visual is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.MVDvisual.com

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

 

 

 

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.

MVD Visual’s New ‘Back To The Future’ Doc Is Worth Seeing “Time” And Again

Courtesy: MVD Visual/MVD Entertainment Group

Courtesy: MVD Visual/MVD Entertainment Group

Thirty-one years ago this year, Universal Pictures released a movie that since its release has gone on to become a cultural phenomenon.  That movie goes by the titled of Back to the Future.  It is a movie that has led countless masses to dress up like their favorite time traveling characters at conventions around the country.  It has led to an animated series and any number of documentaries, too.  The latest of those documentaries, OUTATIME: Saving The DeLorean Time Machine was released this past July.  This coming Tuesday, Sept. 13, another documentary centered on the now “timeless” (bad pun completely intended there) will be released MVD Visual that branches out on the movie’s significance even more in the form of the simply titled Back in Time.  The ninety-five minute documentary, while another independent release, is another piece that cinephiles and Back to the Future fans alike will appreciate.  That is due in part to the documentary’s story.  That will be discussed shortly.  The manner in which the story is told is just as important to note in the program’s presentation.  Last of note in the doc’s presentation is its pacing.  Each element is important in its own right to the documentary’s presentation.  Altogether they make Back in Time another Back to the Future feature that, again, cinephiles and Back to the Future fans alike will want to see “time” and again.

MVD Visual’s new Back to the Future retrospective Back in Time is hardly the first documentary centered on Universal Pictures’ “timeless” movie.  Regardless it still proves over the course of its ninety-five minute run time that it is another presentation that both cinephiles and Back to the Future fans alike will appreciate.  That is due in no small part to the program’s story.  The story presents the role that Back to The Future has had, and continues to have, now thirty-plus years after it made its big screen debut.  It tells that story through interviews with the movie’s cast and crew—including Lea Thompson, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Donald Fullilove, Claudia Wells, Steven Spielberg, and even Robert Zemeckis—and interviews with a small handful of the movie’s fans among others.  Viewers learn through the interviews some very interesting facts and stories connected to the movie.  One of the most interesting revelations made in the interviews comes from Bob Gale.  Gale, who was one of the creative forces behind Back to the Future reveals that the movie was shopped around to every one of Hollywood’s major studios but none would take it.  He said it was even shopped to Disney because that had been recommended by those other studios.  Gale reveals in his interview that when the movie was presented to them, executives with the studio refused to touch it because they thought the topic of Marty’s mom falling for him in the past hinted at incest.  This is funny to note because Gale said no other studios had even begun to take that angle in reviewing the movie’s script.

Another interesting revelation comes from an interview with Michael J. Fox.  Fox recollects in said interview that none other than Princess Diana actually sat next to him at the movie’s premiere.  He reveals in his interview that he didn’t know she would be sitting next to him and because of certain protocol about being around her, he couldn’t even use the bathroom, so when he started feeling nature call, he couldn’t even respond to its call.  Throughout that anecdote, audiences can’t help but laugh along with Fox as he recalls that silly story.  In the same moment, Fox also recalls Princess Diana’s reaction to one scene in particular in comparison to her reaction to other moments.  That is worth its own share of laughs, too.  It is just one more of the interesting tidbits that make the documentary’s story so interesting.

There is also an outright statement from Robert Zemeckis himself at one point that he has zero intention of making a fourth Back to The Future movie.  Considering the way that most of Hollywood’s “Big Six” studios are taking right now, one can only hope that he will hold true to that even today and that no one else will ever try to make another movie.  Keeping in mind all of the revelations noted here and all of the other interesting and intriguing information shared throughout the program, it becomes clear why the story at the center of Back in Time is so important to its presentation.  Even with its clear importance to the doc’s presentation the story is just one of the program’s key elements.  The manner in which the story is told is just as important to note as the story itself.

The story at the center of Back in Time is clearly an important element in the program’s presentation if not the program’s most important element.  That means that even potentially being the program’s most important element, it is not the program’s only important element.  As important as the story is, the manner in which the story is told is just as important to note as the story itself.  The story is told through two clearly separated segments, which span the course of the doc’s ninety-five minutes.  The first segment focuses on the movie and its significance through the eyes of the cast and crew.  It should be noted specifically here the focus is strictly on Back to The Future, not the two sequels that followed or even the short-lived animated series that it spun off in the early 90s on CBS.  Though there is an indirect connection to the work done by the restoration team in OUTATIME: Saving The DeLorean Time Machine in this segment.  Two members of the build team are interviewed about the work put in to restore the trilogy’s “A” car with footage from that do directly incorporated into this segment.  The program’s second segment examines the significance of Back to The Future through the eyes of some of the movie’s devotees.  The fans in question are not just your average fans either.  One of the fans in question owns the actual VW bus that was used in Back to The Future as well as the truck that Marty won in the movie, as well as other memorabilia.  Another fan has one of the DeLorean replicas incorporated into his own nine-hole mini-golf course at his home.  He uses the car, and the golf course, to raise money for good causes every year.  In another case, viewers are introduced to a young pair of fans who ended up getting married at a Back to The Future convention.  It just so happened that Christopher Lloyd was in attendance as the young man popped the question to his bride to be.  He wasn’t the only one who was there, either.  Harry Waters, Jr., who played Chuck Berry’s cousin Berry (from the movie’s high school dance segment), was also there and sang to the couple after the young lady said yes.  It is a moment that will put a smile on any viewer’s face.  Through it all, the documentary does a laudable job of balancing each segment with the other.  The end result is a story that, thanks to that solid division, will keep viewers completely engaged and entertained.  Of course the segments’ division and the story together are not the only factors that will keep audiences engaged in this presentation.  The program’s pacing is important in its own right, too.

The story at the center of Back in Time and the general manner in which the story is told are both key to the doc’s presentation.  That is because both elements work together expertly to keep viewers completely engaged and entertained from the story’s beginning to its end.  While both elements are clearly important both in themselves and jointly, they are not the program’s only important elements.  The program’s pacing is just as important to note as the story and how it is told.  The program’s pacing is so important because without proper pacing there would be no reason to sit through either of the program’s two segments.  Thankfully the program’s pacing is relatively solid from beginning to end.  The topics that are discussed within each segment are many.  But they do not move so fast that audiences will feel left behind nor do those behind the lens allow the program to lag at any point within any discussion either.  That being the case, the documentary’s pacing joins with its story and its segmentation to make the program in whole one that will keep audiences completely engaged and entertained.  In turn audiences will come out of the program agreeing that while it is not the only Back to the Future to ever be released, it is one that cinephiles and Back to The Future fans alike will enjoy watching “time” and again.

Back in Time is not the only Back to the Future documentary to ever be released.  But in considering all that went into assembling the program it is safe to say that it is another enjoyable piece centered on the landmark movie.  Its story explains not just the significance of the DeLorean (as in OUTATIME: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine) but the cultural significance of the movie in whole.  That is examined through interviews with both fans and with the movie’s cast and crew.  The division of the story into two distinct segments adds to the enjoyment of the program’s presentation.  The pacing of each segment rounds out the doc’s most important elements.  It should be clear in reading this analysis why each element is so important to the program’s presentation.  All things considered, it is clear that the documentary is, in whole, another retrospective centered on Universal’s iconic movie that cinephiles and Back to The Future fans alike will appreciate.  Back in Time will be available in stores and online this coming Tuesday, Sept. 12.  It can be ordered online direct via MVD Entertainment Group’s online store at http://mvdb2b.com/s/BackInTime/MVD8722D.  More information on Back in Time and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group/MVD Visual is available online now at:

 

 

 

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