Shout! Factory, Paramount’s ‘Explorers’ Blu-ray Re-Issue Is Fully Deserving Of Being Called A “Shout! Select” Presentation

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Paramount Pictures

When Paramount Pictures’ kid-centered science fiction flick, Explorers made its theatrical debut in 1985, the movie almost immediately bombed.  It was panned by multiple media outlets, with positive reviews few and far between. However as time went on and technology advanced, the creation of home video technology helped give the movie new life and appreciation among fans of the genre.  It has maintained that status quite well in the decades since, too.  This past May, the movie became one of the latest entries in Shout! Factory’s ongoing “Shout! Select” series, and re-issued on Blu-ray.  The re-issue, complete with an expansive amount of new bonus content, is certain to help build the movie’s status even more.  That appreciation will come in part thanks to the movie’s story, which will be discussed shortly.  The noted bonus content that accompanies the movie’s recent re-issue does its own share to build the movie’s appreciation even more. It will be discussed a little later.  The movie’s general presentation in its new re-issue also plays into its appeal and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the re-issue’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this presentation unquestionably one of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

Shout! Factory and Paramount’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Paramount’s Explorers is a presentation that is well-deserving of its spot in Shout! Factory’s ongoing “Shout! Select” series.  It is just as deserving of a spot in any science fiction fan’s library.  Its story is just one way in which this is proven.  The story follows three young boys – Ben (Ethan Hawke – Training Day, Dead Poets Society, Before Midnight), Daren (Jason Pressen – Gremlins 2, Lady in White, The Stone Boy) and Wolfgang (River Phoenix – Stand By Me, My Own Private Idaho, The Mosquito Coast) – who travel into space and meet a pair of aliens who like themselves, are adolescents.  They also happen to be brother and sister.  The journey happens as a result of messages that the aliens sending messages to Ben in his sleep that instruct Ben on how to build the spacecraft that takes the boys to meet the aliens, Wak and Neek. Getting off topic a bit here, but audiences who watch History Channel’s Ancient Aliens will find this interesting since at least one episode has made the allegation tht aliens have been in telepathic connection with certain humans for centuries. It makes this aspect of the story, in hindsight, more interesting. Getting back on topic, Wak is played by Robert Picardo (Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek Voyager, Innerspace) while Need is played by Leslie Rickert.  The story is relatively simple.  There is no earth-shaking revelation, just a first contact between two species and of course the revelation as to why Ben and his friends were chosen and why Wak, his sister, and other alien beings stay hidden from humans.  That revelation comes as audiences find out that Wak and Neek know what they know as a result of watching human TV shows and movies.  This is really where things actually get interesting.  This statement is powerful because just like humans got a certain vision of aliens from movies, it was those same movies (and TV shows) that led Wak and Neek to believe humans were a certain way.  On a side note, Neek tells the boys that what they have seen of humans on TV and in movies is why they and other alien species have remained hidden from humans.  That in itself is a telling statement and rings so true today.  Sure, as Ben points out, those are just movies and TV shows, but looking at human society today, it would be no wonder that any beings from other worlds would continue to hide from humans.  Humans really are, largely, not ready to be introduced to beings from other worlds. So as simple as the whole story is, there is still some depth to the story.  The whole thing is really just a family friendly celebration of childhood innocence and wonderment about the world beyond Earth that will connect with grown-ups just as much as children even today.  The story’s finale is bittersweet but still happy and fulfilling, and considering how long the original finale was going to be, the featured finale makes for a fitting end to the movie.  This critic will avoid spoilers for those who have yet to watch the movie, but when those audiences watch, they will agree the ending works quite well even though Ben and company do not learn the secrets of the universe.  That finale is addressed in the new bonus content featured in the movie’s new re-issue.

The bonus content featured in the new re-issue of Explorers reveals that the movie’s original end was far different and longer than that presented in the final cut.  It involved the boys going to another planet and getting stranded there, according to the movie’s writer, Eric Luke in the feature, “A Science Fiction Fairy Tale: The Story of Explorers.”  It is a good thing that the noted third act did not happen, considering this.  That is because by Luke’s description, it would have ruined the movie.  On the same note, the deleted final ending cut that is presented in the deleted scenes just makes no sense.  Again, it makes the presented final cut’s ending far more fitting.  On a related note, one of the movie’s executive producers reveals that as the movie progressed, it apparently went over on time.  He never comes out and says it, but the figure in question seems to hint that the movie also went over on budget.  Those two items combined would explain why the movie presented in the final cut was what it was.  Again thankfully though, it is good that audiences got what they did even though allegedly the final cut was “unfinished.”  There are other, lighter notes in “The Story of Explorers” that add their own interest, such as the revelation that Luke’s father (no puns, please) actually worked at NASA when he was a boy, which clearly led to his love of all things science fiction.  It would also explain why this movie, even with its story, also really seems like a love letter to classic sci-fi cinema.  There are references, after all to great classics, such as War of the Worlds, It Came From Outer Space, This Island Earth, and even Forbidden Planet throughout the movie.  Additionally, Luke reveals that the use of the trash can on the Thunder Road came from something in his personal life. Audiences will be left to discover that story for themselves.  It is an anecdote that makes for plenty of smiles and laughs.  Additionally, he reveals that a letter that he wrote to none other than Bruce Springsteen resulted in the use of the name Thunder Road for the boys’ spaceship.  On yet another note, Director Joe Dante reveals through his own comments that this movie was Hawke’s acting debut, and that prior to being offered the role of Ben, Hawke had no acting experience, yet he was so much better to Dante than any of the “fake” (Dante’s own word) other child actors out there at the time.  Hawke’s own discussion on playing Ben and his reaction to the movie’s initial failure shows so much humility from himself.  It is just one more of so many items in “The Story of Explorers” that makes this bonus feature so enjoyable.  The new “Deleted Scenes” feature is also of note in examining the bonus content’s role in the movie.

As already noted, one of the deleted scenes featured in the movie’s new bonus “Deleted Scenes” feature is a long, drawn out finale that clearly while entertaining, was not needed.  It involved Ben and company taking on the bullies from the movie’s opening scene as well as some other items.  Ultimately, audiences will agree that the sequence in question simply was not needed and that the final presentation was a fitting end to the story.  Another deleted scene that really proved unnecessary was the brief family meal scene with Ben, his parents, and his brother.  It is through this scene that Dante reveals Ben’s brother is the same boy who is seen at the drive-in movie with his girlfriend, watching the cheesy “Starkiller” movie.  Though Dante alleges that he felt the scene was needed, this critic’s own view is that the scene was really unnecessary, especially since Ben’s unnamed brother did not even really notice that the Thunder Road was not part of the movie that he and his girlfriend were watching.  Also proving ultimately unnecessary was the birthday party scene and even the extended scene in which the police officers search the forest after the fair ride that became the Thunder Road went barreling past them down the road.  That is a scene that while it would have worked in the final cut, being so brief, was just as easily removed.  Keeping all of these scenes in mind, and Dante’s revelation that they were only some of many more scenes that did not make the final cut, the final presentation really gains even more traction and appreciation.  When everything presented in the “Deleted Scenes” feature and the expansive “The Story of Explorers” feature is considered together, that whole makes the movie’s new bonus content just as engaging and entertaining as the movie itself.  It makes the final cut all the more enjoyable, and is collectively just one more part of what makes this presentation so wonderful.  The movie’s general presentation works with everything noted to make for even more enjoyment and appreciation for the movie.

The general presentation of Explorers presents the movie in its home release and its original theatrical release.  The difference between the two cuts is subtle at best.  It is a difference of roughly three minutes give or take a few seconds here and there.  The two cuts are really separated only through Picardo’s improve “set” when Wak and Need first meet Ben and his friends.  As Dante reveals in “The Story of Explorers,” Picardo’s performance here was fully improve.  He adds that Picardo went on for a bit (as is now know, approximately three minutes or a little more), and that a good portion of that improv set had to be cut along with so many of the movie’s deleted scenes after studio execs pushed up the movie’s release date as a means to cut costs and production time.  This is such a subtle difference between the two cuts, but audiences who watch the “extended” cut will have that much more to enjoy from Picardo as well as the rest of the cast. That Shout! Factory and Paramount would include both versions of the movie here so as to allow audiences to compare the two versions adds that much more appeal to the presentation.  When this is considered along with the impact of the story and bonus content, the whole makes Explorers all the more enjoyable in its new presentation.

Shout! Factory and Paramount’s new Blu-ray re-issue of Explorers is a welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s “Shout! Select” series and to any true science fiction fan’s library.  That is proven in part through its story.  The story is simple and family friendly.  One part story of excitement about space travel and the unknown from a childhood vantage point and one part love letter to classic sci-fi, the whole makes for a relatively quick (but not too quick) take of space travel and friendship.  The new bonus content that accompanies the movie’s recent re-issue makes for its own appeal.  That is because of the background that it provides with the story.  It helps audiences realize what the story might have been and in some cases thankful it was not what it might have been.  The movie’s general presentation, showing the movie in its home video presentation and its original theatrical cut, puts things into even more perspective for audiences, even though the difference between the two cuts is so subtle.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s re-issue.  All things considered, they make the movie fully deserving of its place in Shout! Factory’s “Shout! Select” series and in any sci-fi fan’s library.

Shout! Factory and Paramount’s Blu-ray re-issue of Explorers is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available at:




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‘The Major & The Minor’ BD Re-Issue Survives Because Of Its Bonus Content

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group/Paramount Pictures

December 24, 2019 marks 77 years since famed director Billy Wilder’s domestic directorial debut made its own theatrical debut.  The movie, The Major and the Minor, starred Ray Milland (The Uninvited, Dial M For Murder, The Lost Weekend) and Ginger Rogers (Kitty Foyle, Tom, Dick and Harry, Monkey Business) in a story that places Rogers’ character Susan Applegate into a rather precarious situation when she meets Miland’s Major Philip Kirby.  In the decades since its debut, the classic romantic comedy has garnered praise from critics and audiences alike, even receiving a perfect 100% tomato meter rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  For all of its success, the movie has only received a handful of home releases.  Now it has gotten new life on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group on Blu-ray.  This new re-issue is the first time since 2008 that the movie has received an official release and the first time ever that it has seen release on Blu-ray.  It gives audiences quite a bit of reason to applaud beginning with its bonus content. It is rare that this critic will point out a new release’s bonus content as its most important element, but this release is one of those rare cases in which its bonus content is just that.  It will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content makes the movie’s story more engaging and entertaining than it would have been sans said content.  To that end, the movie’s story is its own important part of the Blu-ray.  When it is considered along with the Blu-ray’s bonus content, they make the Blu-ray’s average price point relatively affordable.  This will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the Blu-ray.  All things considered, this latest release of The Major & The Minor one more of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and The Minor is a positive new presentation for the classic Paramount Pictures romantic comedy.  It is a good way for the companies to celebrate the movie’s upcoming 77th anniversary.  That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with the movie’s new re-issue.  Featured in the re-issue as extras are: a feature-length audio commentary from film scholar Adrian Martin, a half-hour retrospective on the movie’s history courtesy of film critic Neil Sinyard, and a full-hour-long radio presentation of the movie that features famed filimmaker Cecil B. DeMille. The audio commentary and retrospective are the most important of the bonus items as they provide, collectively, an in-depth history of the movie and its story.  Martin and Sinyard both point out the symbolism of Pamela and Susan as point and counterpoint in the discussions on whether the U.S. should get involved in World War II.  Each man also makes note of the issue of Major Kirby’s conflicted feelings toward Susan and the risqué nature of those conflicted feelings.  That in itself adds a lot to the story.  Also of note that each man discusses, is Wilder’s use of disguise and deception among characters in the story, and how it would go on to become a trademark of his directorial style.  On a related note, Martin also takes time to talk about items, such as character placement and lighting within given scenes.  As if all of this is not enough, Sinyard also discusses how the movie satirizes the military and the timing of the movie’s creation and release in connection to America’s entry into World War II.  Since Martin’s commentary is featured as part of the movie itself, Sinyard’s retrospective is recommended for viewing ahead of watching the movie.  It gives the movie’s story a completely different identity than it would have had sans all of that background.  Martin’s background adds even more after having watched the movie.

The background that Martin and Sinyard provide for The Major and the Minor are clear examples of the importance of bonus content to DVDs and Blu-rays.  They show how bonus content can easily make or break a DVD/BD’s presentation.  For all that they do for the movie’s presentation here, the bonus radio version of The Major and the Minor is notable in its own right.  That is because of its nostalgic value.  The broadcast features Rogers and Milland, as well as appearances by famed director Cecil B. DeMille.  DeMille provides introductions to each of the play’s acts.  The transfer from the original tapes to this presentation featured no loss at all, so there is no need to adjust the volume at any point throughout the program.  What’s more, the static from that original broadcast is there, too.  Simply put, this is another example of how possible it is to transfer vintage to modern technology without any loss.  This could lead to discussions on whether there really is a place for vinyl today, despite the view of so many hipsters.  It is possible to transfer vinyls to CDs without loss, too.  Getting back to the subject at hand, that clean transfer from the original tapes to Blu-ray creates its own wonderful experience.  What’s more, there are some minor changes between the screenplay and the radio play, but those changes were clearly necessary because certain elements obviously did not translate well from the screen to the radio.  Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus radio performance of The Major and the Minor proves just as enjoyable as the big screen version.  In turn, it makes the bonus radio presentation just as worthwhile as the bonus commentaries from Martin and Sinyard.  Collectively, those commentaries and the bonus radio play create a strong foundation for the Blu-ray that cinephiles across the board will appreciate.

The bonus content featured with the recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and the Minor is key to the re-issue’s presentation, because of the strong foundation that they form for said showing.  If not for that content, the movie would be anything but interesting.  Keeping the bonus commentaries from Sinyard and Martin in mind while watching the movie, they make the movie’s story quite an interesting work and actually believable.    Maj. Kirby’s bad eye helps with suspension of disbelief in terms of how he fell for Susan’s act.  On another level, the understanding of Susan and Pamela more as symbols of a deep topic makes them even more valuable to the story, and not just the standard romantic rivals that are so overly common in every rom-com.  What’s more, the issue of how Susan was treated by the men throughout the movie will appeal to female viewers – again in understanding Sinyard and Martin’s commentary.  It makes Susan that much more of a sympathetic character, even without the note of her as a symbol for the noted political discussions.  The bonus commentaries also help to explain why Pamela’s sister was the only person who didn’t fall for Susan’s ploy.  It helps to make believable the blindness of the cadets and the adults who fell for her deception.  The end result of those understandings makes the story something truly in-depth and entertaining all in one.  Keeping that in mind, the story becomes far more watchable than it would have been without the commentaries, again showing the importance of the movie’s bonus content.

The entertainment and engagement offered through The Major and The Minor’s story – thanks to the Blu-ray’s bonus content – goes a long way toward making this re-issue a worthwhile watch for cinephiles everywhere.  Being that the bonus content and story work so well together, they make the movie’s average price point just as appealing to audiences in its own way.  The movie’s average price point is $31.25.  That price is reached by averaging prices at MVD Entertainment Group’s store, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  The least expensive listing for the Blu-ray is at Amazon, Walmart and Target, at $27.49.  The most expensive listing is at MVD’s store and at Books-A-Million’s store, at $39.95.  Best Buy lists the Blu-ray at $27.99, only slightly more expensive than the price listed at Amazon, Walmart and Target.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers lists the Blu-ray at $28.39.  Paying almost $40 is a little bit overpriced for this Blu-ray even keeping in mind the importance of the expansive, in-depth bonus content and its role in the enjoyment of the movie’s story.  On the other hand, $27.49 is actually relatively affordable, considering that Arrow Video’s releases are imports.  Arrow Video is based in the United Kingdom.  If the release were from a U.S. company, that might be a bit overpriced, but considering it is an import, it is about average, price-wise and worth the least expensive listing.  No matter which retailer consumers choose, the reality is that Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group will still receive a portion of those sales, so they are not going to lose out if consumers opt to buy the Blu-ray from Amazon, Walmart or Target.  Keeping that in mind the average price listing for this Blu-ray is largely a positive, and together with its content, makes the Blu-ray a presentation that cinephiles and classic movie buffs alike will appreciate.

MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of The Major and the Minor is a positive presentation from the companies that proves widely appealing.  That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with the re-issue.  That content makes the movie’s otherwise run-of-the-mill rom-com story far more interesting than it would have been without said content.  The bonus content and story make the import’s average price point relatively affordable and worth paying in the end.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make The Major and the Minor appealing for classic movie buffs and cinephiles alike.  The Major and the Minor is available now.  More information this and other titles from Arrow Video is available online at:










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










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Paramount’s New ‘Star Trek: TNG’ Movie Collection Is A Welcome Set For The Most Devoted ‘Star Trek’ Fans

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment/Viacom/CBS DVD

Make it so!  Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment is beaming down a new Star Trek box set for fans of the franchise’s Next Generation era Tuesday.  Star Trek: Picard Movie & TV Collection is scheduled for release Tuesday on Blu-ray.  The six-disc collection is oddly titled, considering that it is more the Next Generation era movies than TV episodes.  This, the set’s presentation, will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured with the ser is a positive in its own way, in examining the set in whole.  It will be addressed a little later.  Keeping in mind the set’s primary and secondary content, its average price point becomes a key discussion topic in its own right.  It will be discussed a little later, too.  Keeping in mind the importance of all of these elements, this latest collection of Star Trek movies and television episodes is one that will appeal largely to the most diehard Star Trek fans.

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Star Trek box set is a collection that is certain to divide fans of the long-running franchise’s Next Generation era.  It is a set that will appeal mostly to the most devoted fans of the franchise and the era thereof.  That is due in part to the set’s overall presentation.  The box set is titled Picard Movies & TV Collection.  The catch is that the set only features two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation along with all four of the movies.  The two episodes featured in the collection are the famed two-part episode “The Best of Both Worlds,” which finds Captain Picard being captured by the Borg and turned into one of them.  The other episode, “Chain of Command” also finds Picard being captured, this time as a prisoner of war, so to speak.  One can’t help but wonder why those two episodes were chosen, considering that each was already previously released on DVD and Blu-ray.  There are other, equally entertaining episodes that could have been presented here, which were previously released only on the series’ full season and series box sets.  One of those episodes is the timeless “Darmok.”  The episode, featured in the series’ fifth season.  It was yet another episode that found Picard being captured and stuck on alien turf, having to get out of a tough situation.  What makes it stand out is that no conflict ever happened because Capt. Picard and his counterpart see past their differences and learn to communicate instead.  It is one of the series’ most beloved stories among fans and audiences in general.  “The Inner Light” is another powerful episode that focuses mainly on Capt. Picard in a completely different fashion.  It finds the beloved leader in a “what if” scenario that shows him what his life could have been like.  “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is yet another powerful episode of the series.  It finds Picard and the crew of the Enterprise D working with the crew of the Enterprise C to make sure history runs the way that it was meant to run in what was one of a handful of time travel episodes from the series.  Keeping all of this in mind, one can’t help but wonder why the two episodes featured here were chosen considering they’ve already seen the light of day.

The episodes chosen for this set are just part of what will divide audiences.  The set also features all four of the movies from the Next Generation era.  This is where things get even dicier.  On the surface, it would seem that having all four movies in one, slim package is a good thing.  It definitely is for the most devoted fans of that era from the Star Trek universe (no pun intended).  On the bigger scale though, only one of those movies ever proved truly successful in the long run – First ContactInsurrection, which premiered in 1998, was the second of the four movies.  According to information from Rotten Tomatoes, it was soundly panned by critics and viewers in general, receiving a 54% tomato meter score and 44% audience score.  It was panned by both parties as being little more than an extension of the series.  As a matter of fact, considering the story line, it is a story that had been done prior very early in the series’ run when a hidden federation outpost is accidentally revealed to a group of Romulans.  The Romulans in question end up thinking Capt. Picard is God.  Going back to the featured episodes in this set, that is yet another key episode featuring Picard.

Nemesis, the last of the Next Generation era movies, fared even worse,  receiving a tomato meter score of only 39% and an audience score of 49%.  Written by Brent Spiner, this movie is essentially a double evil twin story, with Data meeting his twin and Picard meeting his “twin,” who turns out to be quite the bad guy with a giant ship. In the end, the bad guy with the bigger ship (big gun) loses to the David character in Picard, of course.

Generations, while the first of the Next Generation movies, comes across as another very familiar story.  The crew of the Enterprise-D already encountered the crew of the Enterprise-C during the course of the series.  Now, here is some of the crew from the first Enterprise bridging the gap with the latest Enterprise crew.  Given, there is an intriguing story about us having to come to terms with our mortalities with the villain wanting to get to the Nexus, but the plot elements written into Picard and Kirk’s own experiences inside the Nexus echo previous episodes of The Next Generation, too.  There are lots of good special effects, but other than that, this movie felt more like a cash grab by Paramount to get fans of both Star Trek eras to open their wallets.  Is that bad?  No.  It makes sense.  At the same time though, the effort did not ultimately feel genuine. It felt more like those involved just wanted to make something that they knew said audiences would buy into even though there is nothing to buy into here.

First Contact is the best of the franchise’s big screen features.  That is because it finally answers the long-unanswered question of who and what was at the heart of the Borg collective.  Never once throughout the course of the series was this question ever answered, even though audiences knew there had to be a starting point, and finally that is what they got here.  Given, the movie’s story is familiar with its time traveling plot line and the attempt to keep history from being altered.  Even with that in mind, the story’s writing staff manages to do something here that makes the story stand out from the time travel stories that were featured in the series.  The set and costume design is also stepped up, adding to the movie’s draw.  To that end, it truly shows itself as something special.

The movies that were spawned during Star Trek’s Next Generation era have themselves become extremely divisive among audiences and fans, as has been noted.  Even with that in mind, there are those fans who are still truly devoted to the series and its cinematic counterparts.  For those audiences, the featuring of all of these movies will certainly be appealing.  In the same breath, the fact that each of the movies featured in the set also themselves feature the same bonus content as was featured in their previous releases will appeal to those noted audiences as well as other audiences.  Simply put, regardless of viewers’ devotion to the Star Trek franchise, everyone will be on the same level, including regardless of whether audiences have seen all four or none of the set’s featured movies.  To that end, love the movies or hate them, at least everyone will get to take in all of the same bonuses thanks to this set.

The carrying over of the bonus content in each movie from this set is a key positive for this set.  The inclusion of all four TNG movies is a boon for the most devoted fans of the franchise, while for those who might be more particular might find it not as interesting a draw.  Keeping that in mind, the set’s average price range of $31.72 is actually not a bad thing.  That price was obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Book Sellers and Books-A-Million. It was not listed at Target at the time of this review’s posting. Considering the prices of the stand-alone episodes’ Blu-ray releases and the prices of the movies’ releases, that price for this set is actually affordable.  Consumers would have to spend more than $100 for each of the titles by themselves, so paying a little more than $30 for all of them together is its own positive, again, regardless of that noted devotion to the franchise.  Having all of the movies, and at least two episodes (which were clearly chosen subjectively) gives audiences of all devotion something to look forward to here.  To that end, it is money well spent both for the most devoted fans and for even the most casual Star Trek fans who want to still be able to check out all of the TNG movies in one collection, rather than having to hunt them down one by one.  When this is considered along with the featured content – both primary and secondary – the whole of the et proves a positive  for Star Trek fans even despite the division that it will certainly create.

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Star Trek: The Next Generation set is an interesting new presentation for audiences.  The most devoted audiences will certainly appreciate having all of the TNG movies in one set complete with all of their original bonus content, and at an affordable price.  The franchise’s more casual fans will appreciate the fans, but might find themselves better off with the movies that they enjoy the most.  What’s  more, those same audiences will find the set’s featured television episodes, which have already seen release in their own standalone Blu-rays, questionable as so many other episodes could have been featured.  To that end, those audiences might not find the set’s average price point enough to encourage them to purchase the set.  Keeping all of this in mind, this latest TNG set is an interesting journey, but not one that every Star Trek fan will want to take.  The set is scheduled for release Tuesday on Blu-ray.  More information on this and other titles from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment is available online now at:










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Paramount’s Ninja Turtles Reboot Proves To Be One Of 2014’s Worst New Movies

Courtesy:  Paramount Pictures

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures’ updated take on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the worst new movies of 2014. There is no way to sugarcoat it. Simply put, it is one more example of why Hollywood’s (and audiences’) seemingly insatiable appetite for prequels, sequels, and remakes can only mean a bleak future for the industry’s “Power Five” studios. The central reason for the failure of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is its writing. While the movie’s writers and the studio did back down on the original idea for the Turtles’ origin story, the story incorporated into the story proves to be just as bad. There is also the issue of the plot. While it can be said that the movie’s plot is not necessarily as cheesy as some of the plot lines from the animated series, there is still something about this movie’s plot that makes it unbearable. And dangling the proverbial carrot in front of old school audiences in the form of references to the original animated series (and movie) hurts the movie even more in terms of the movie’s writing. It’s one more example of why having multiple people working on a single script serves only to hurt said script. This has been proven time and again in a number of works before this one. TMNT is just the latest. Just as noteworthy is the acting. Credit should e given where credit is due. The actors behind the turtles are deserving of their due respect. However, the acting on the part of lead Meghan Fox and the movie’s supporting cast falls flat. Even actor Will Arnett comes up short as April’s photog Vernon Fenwick. He had the look. And he did make a valiant effort at his portrayal. But it still came up short in the end. Those issues with the cast’s acting coupled with the issues raised in the movie’s script hurt TMNT in a major way. They still are not all that hurt the movie. Last but hardly least of all that goes against the movie is its collective look and production values. Michael Bay wasn’t at the helm of TMNT. But in watching the movie, one may as well say that he was. That is because the movie’s look and its production values are quite similar to the much maligned Transformers franchise that he previously helmed. It is the final nail in the movie’s coffin, sealing the movie’s fate and proving once more why this movie is one of the worst of 2014.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was and is one of the best movies to leap from the pages of comic books. That is the original live action movie that debuted in 1990. This year’s new update on that modern classic is the polar opposite of that incarnation. It’s painfully obvious from start to finish, too beginning with the movie’s overall writing. The movie’s plot by itself does plenty to hurt the movie. And it all begins with the Turtles’ much mailgned origin story. Those that followed this movie from the days even before its pre-production started will recall that the origin story was going to have Leo, Raph, Don, and Mikey come in as aliens from another planet. Thankfully that didn’t happen. However, the origin story that took its place is just as problematic. That story won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that have yet to watch the movie. But it directly involves April O’Neil. And to a point, it takes a page from Sony’s latest incarnation of Spiderman. April’s revelation at her link to the Turtles’ origin story is cheesy enough. But the acting on the part of actress Megan Fox, who plays April, only serves to make that revelation even more unbelievable. The acting on the part of the cast will be discussed in more depth at a later point. For now, the focus will remain on the movie’s writing.

The origin story crafted for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is but one part of the writing that hurts this big screen reboot bust. The movie’s very plot plays its own role in the movie’s failure. The movie’s plot sees Shredder and the Foot Clan–which is made more into a pseudo militia group here instead of the old school, evil ninja group from the original movie and animated series–trying to spread a virus through New York City. In turn, they and Eric Sacks (William Fitchner) can use the mutagen that created the Turtles for their own financial gain. Yes, it’s true. In defense of this plot, those that are familiar with the original animated series, there was an episode in which Shreddder sent up a satellite-like device the changed the weather around the world as a means for him and Krang to take over the world. So keeeping that in consideration it isn’t too cheesy of a plot. There’s still something about it in the script’s writing though, that makes it not entirely believable. Speaking of the comparison between this incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the original animated series (and the franchise’s original movie), that is yet another issue in the writing that hurts this movie.

The issues raised through the origin story and plot incorporated into Paramount’s new take on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles both make the movie’s writing rather problematic in their own way. One can’t ignore the fact that Applebaum, Nemec and Daugherty did try to please the fans of the franchise’s original animated series and 1990 movie with constant throwback references to both. They even made sure to include the skateboards used in both properties. The issue at hand with making such references is that through the script’s previously noted problems, adding in those references essentially becomes a slap in the face to the fans that grew up with those originals. It’s the same as dangling the carrot in front of a donkey (or rabbit) only to have it pulled away for lack of better wording. Simply put, it is disrespectful to said audiences.

The writing behind the script for Paramount’s new incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a big part of what has made this movie one of the worst of this year’s new releases. While the writing proves to be quite problematic, it is only the beginning of the movie’s problems. The work of the movie’s cast is just as problematic. Actress Megan Fox plays April O’Neil in this version of TMNT. Her reaction at discovering her role in the origin of the Turtles is awful. It is so over the top and hammy that one can only shake one’s hand. While Will Arnett deserves at least some credit for trying to properly portray Vernon Fenwick, even he comes up short. He is hit and miss at best. To the cast’s credit, the men behind the mean green machine–Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grampa, Men in Black 2, Jackass), Pete Ploszek (Parks & Rec, Shameless), Jeremy Howard (Men in Black 2, Galaxy Quest, How The Grinch Stole Christmas), Noel Fisher (Final Destination 2, Red, Battle Los Angeles), and Alan Ritchson (Fired Up, Blue Mountain State, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) are to be commended for their work. They did quite the job of establishing the attitude and comic element for which the Turtles have been known for decades in their protrayals. Sadly the same can’t be said for the duo of Tony Shahoub (Monk, Wings, Men in Black 1 – 3) and Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror, Employee of the Month, Death to Smoochy). The duo partnered to bring Splinter to life. Whether it is their own work (or lack thereof) or because of how Splinter was written into the story, their portrayals did little to make Splinter really stand out at any one point in the story. So simply put, the only positives that can be pointed out in terms of the acting in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the acting of the men that brought Leo, Don, Raph and Mikey to life. other than that, not much positive can be said of the rest of the cast’s work. It’s yet another example of why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes up far short of its potential and proves in the end to be one of this year’s worst new releases.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes up short in so many ways. its writing is the biggest offender when examining why the movie falls short. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is another issue. Last but hardly least of note that damaged TMNT is the collective look and production values incorporated into the movie. Michael Bay did not helm this reboot of the classic franchise. But even as a producer, his influence is blatantly obvious throughout the movie. The fast-paced shots, the giant explosions, and of course Shredder’s Transformers-esque look show just how much influence he obviously had in this movie. The only positive to it all is April’s look. The use of a yellow jacket in place of a cheesy full body jumpsuit is the only fully acceptable update to the whole thing. Other than that one positive, one might as well just say that this was another Michael Bay film despite the fact that he was only a producer instead of director. And that considered along with all of the movie’s other negatives is the final nail in the movie’s coffin. One can only hope that whenever the already-in-the-works sequel debuts, it will make up for everything that this movie got wrong. Regardless, this reboot will remain among the worst new major motion pictures of 2014.

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G.I. Joe Sequel Another Of 2013’s Worst Movies

Courtesy:  Paramount Studios

Courtesy: Paramount Studios

2013 has been a rough year for the movie industry.  It has been either feast or famine for the big studios.  That is thanks in large part to the glut of sequels churned out by the industry’s major studios.  From the upper echelons all the way down to the general movie-goer, those same studios have been lambasted for their increasing reliance on sequels.  The latest movie in the G.I. Joe franchise justifies those darts even more.  Sure it has lots of flash-bang-boom action sequences and its share of special effects, and an easy to understand storyline, it doesn’t have much else.  Some might consider this a good thing for an action movie.  But the reality is because of this, it turns out to be one more movie that won’t take long to end up in the discount bins at retail outlets now that it is officially out on DVD and Blu-ray.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn’t the worst of the year’s movies.  It isn’t the worst of the record thirty-seven sequels that will have hit theaters by the year’s end.  But it isn’t one of the year’s best movies, either.  The question remains then, what is it about this movie that has left it in movie limbo so to speak?  To answer that isn’t easy.  But it isn’t impossible, either.  The best place to begin with the movie is its writing.  The story’s writing is for the most part, relatively simplistic.  It is also very predictable.  Right from the story’s opening minutes, audiences learn that at the end of the franchise’s first flick, Cobra Commander and Destro had both been captured and placed in special suspended animation tanks of sorts.  It is pretty obvious from this point where the story would progress.  It doesn’t get much better.  From here, audiences are introduced to the story’s secondary plot, the evil twin plot headed by the evil Zartan.  Simple math, right?  Yes.  Two plus two equals four.  Yet another world domination plot on the part of Cobra, which at least goes along with the old cartoon series from the 80s and early 90s.

The predictability of the story in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is just one microscopic part of the problem with its writing.  Just when one thinks the writing couldn’t get any worse, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick make the story even more convoluted by adding in a third storyline involving Snake Eyes’ (one of the few remaining Joes after Cobra’s attack on the Joes) hunt for his arch nemesis, Stormshadow.  Snake Eyes has to nab Stormshadow and bring him back to answer for the murder of his sensei, of which he was accused of committing as a child.  This additional storyline really wasn’t necessary to the overall outcome of the movie.  Wernick and Reese must have known this as they tried to justify it by making sure that only Stormshadow would know the full extent of Cobra’s evil plans this time out.  They could have still had him be a key player without the extra drama.  Had all of this extra fluff been cut, it would have saved a lot of time and maybe even made all of the movie’s over-the-top fight scenes and explosions justified.  But no, they couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Instead, they left it in.  And to make matters even worse, they made the story drag on even more by adding in unnecessary elements of melodrama both on the part of Stormshadow and the remaining Joes.  There is the whole aspect of Stormshadow having to come to terms with Zartan being the real killer and tricking him when he was a child.  And then there is Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) coming to terms with taking over the Joes after Duke’s (Channing Tatum) death early on.  Let us also not forget Lady Jaye’s own drama involving her father issues, too.  It’s all extra fat that could have been trimmed from the whole thing to make it at least more bearable.

Had the unnecessary elements noted above been removed from the movie’s final script, that removal would have made G.I. Joe: Retaliation more bearable.  Sadly, that didn’t happen.  Even the choice of the movie’s title is problematic.  The very inclusion of the word “retaliation” in the title hurts the movie even more.  It’s an ambiguous subtitle.  That’s because in reality, both Cobra and the remaining Joes are retaliating against one another for everything that had happened in the course of the franchise’s first film.  More than likely, the intent was for the subtitle to be aimed more at the retaliation of G.I. Joe against Cobra for its actions against its forces.  But again, the ambiguity is there; too much of it in fact to make such a subtitle work.  And along with the already poor writing, it reduces the movie’s credibility even more.

There is so much that went wrong with G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  However, it would be unfair to ignore the only shining rays of hope that this largely forgettable Summer action flick does have.  Those rays of hope lie in the movie’s really cool gadgets and its action sequences.  Again, had the gadgets and action sequences been left with the predictable writing, the movie would not have been half as bad as it turned out to be.  But because that didn’t happen, the action sequences come across as little more than an excuse to try and distract viewers from the poor writing.  This is most clearly evident in the ironic fact that the most exciting of the action sequences was one that itself might not have even been necessary.  It involves Snake Eyes and his protégé, Jinx, facing a horde of ninjas along a sheer cliff face after having recovered Stormshadow in the aforementioned equally unnecessary extra story line.  As impressive as this sequence was, the only way that it (and its companion story line) could be justified is the fact that so many of the cast members from the previous film didn’t return this time out for whatever given reason.  So something was needed (in the minds of the writers) to advance the storyline.  Thus this sequence and its associated story line were inserted.  Had both elements been removed in the end, G.I. Joe: Retaliation still could have survived.  Sure it probably would have still ended up being forgotten in the grand scheme of things.  But it still would have survived and even taken more seriously.  As enchanted as studio heads continue to be with franchises, it would be no surprise if audiences eventually see another sequel or even a franchise reboot already.  When either of these scenarios plays out, one can only hope that whoever writes its script will learn from all of this and will make a movie that will return honor to the name and legacy that is G.I. Joe.

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