True ‘Transformers’ Fans Will Appreciate ‘The Transformers: The Movie’ 30th Anniversary Edition

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Hasbro Studios

It’s hard to believe but thirty years ago this year The Transformers: The Movie made its big screen debut.  The movie, which was essentially just a way for Hasbro to eliminate its original Transformers toy line and pave the way for a new line of bots, didn’t do too well in its original run.  However, it is gone on to become a cult favorite among the franchise’s fans in the decades since.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios Transformers fans can own the movie for themselves in its new 30th Anniversary edition.  There is a lot for fans to appreciate about the movie’s new release, beginning with its story.  That will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s new 30th anniversary edition presentation is another of the positives to note in its presentation. The various platforms on which the movie is available is just as notable but hardly least of note.  One could also make note of the cast’s acting, the movie’s artwork, and much more in considering its overall presentation.  All things considered, the new 30th Anniversary edition of The Transformers: The Movie is a welcome addition to any true Transformers fan’s movie library.

Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios re-issued the classic animated movie The Transformers: The Movie this week in a brand new 30th Anniversary Edition. The new re-issue is a presentation that will be welcome in any true Transformers fan’s movie library.  That is especially the case for fans that perhaps don’t already own the movie in its previous releases.  Its story is one of the reasons that audiences will enjoy it.  The story centers on the battle for control of Cybertron between the Autobots and Decepticons. As is discussed in the movie’s bonus features, the purpose of the story was essentially a way to eliminate Hasbro’s original Transformers toy line and introduce a new line of toys.  Even with that in mind, and the fact that the movie bears little to no connection to the Transformers TV series, the story is still interesting.  It eventually sees both the Decepticons and Autobots having to face the ultimate evil in Unicron, the planet devouring Transformer.  If that sounds familiar, it should.  Marvel Productions played a role in the movie’s creation. Marvel Productions was the film branch of Marvel Entertainment Group, the parent group to Marvel Comics.  Fantastic Four is one of Marvel Comics’ titles.  For those who might not know, the Fantastic Four faced a similar villain in its original comics storyline named Galactus.  Galactus had a herald called The Silver Surfer who would hunt out new worlds for him to devour. In the case of The Transformers Movie Galactus and The Silver Surfer were replaced with Unicron and Galvatron (Megatron reborn, so to speak).  What all of this means to say is that the story isn’t exactly original per se when one really analyzes all of the facts.  But it is still a fun story nonetheless, especially since it created new worlds within the Transformers universe as well as new characters.  To that end, the story is still an important part of the movie’s overall presentation.  It is just one of the movie’s key elements to note.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s 30th Anniversary Edition is just as important to note in examining its presentation as the movie’s central story.

The story at the center of The Transformers: The Movie is clearly an important piece of the movie’s presentation.  Considering all of the facts, it is not exactly an original story, as has been noted already.  But it is original within the Transformers universe.  To that end, it is just one of the movie’s key elements.  The bonus material that has been included in the movie’s new 30th Anniversary Edition presentation is just as important to note as its story.  The movie’s new 30th Anniversary Edition comes with some bonus material that despite originally having been recorded for the movie’s 20th anniversary in 2006, is still interesting for those who might have not seen it before.  That is clear both in the discussions themselves and in posters sitting behind star Susan Blu, who voiced Arcee for the movie. Audiences get to hear from Blu as well as cast mates Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), and others.  Audiences learn some interesting tidbits through the discussions provided through the bonus interviews including the revelation that when Orson Wells recorded his lines for Unicron, no one was allowed to be in the booth with him.  It is revealed here that Wells demanded to be alone when he recorded his lines.  That is just one of the more interesting revelations that are made through the bonus interviews.  The cast and crew also reveal that the movie got less than a warm welcome by fans when it killed off Optimus Prime.

One of the cast members reveals in the discussion on this topic that one young viewer was so devoted to the Transformers franchise that after Optimus was killed off in the movie, that unnamed viewer allegedly locked himself in his room for two weeks straight, mourning for the loss.  That viewer’s reaction wasn’t the only negative reaction.  The reaction was so negative in fact, that the creative forces behind the G.I. Joe Movie, which was released not too long after The Transformers: The Movie, made sure that Duke survived just to avoid the same negative reaction from audiences.  As if that isn’t enough for viewers, it is also revealed that the foul language included in the movie’s original presentation is also included here, thus providing the movie’s “PG” rating.  One of the instances in which that language is presented comes as Spike and Bumblebee are trying to escape the Autobots’ moon base 2.  Spike drops an “S”-bomb in that moment.  There is also a moment later in which another character drops the “D” bomb.  They are the only times throughout the movie in which any foul language is used.  But those instances combine with the movie’s themes of death and its violent content to clearly show why the movie received a “PG” rating in its original presentation.  The revelation about the use of that language and its inclusion here is just one more of so many examples of what makes the movie’s bonus material so enjoyable in its new re-issue, even if said material isn’t original.  Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus material that is included with the new 30th Anniversary edition of The Transformers: The Movie proves in the end to be. Again, just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story.  It is still hardly the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The various platforms on which it is available are just as important to note as its bonus material and its story.

The story at the center of The Transformers: The Movie and its bonus material are both key elements in the movie’s new 30th Anniversary Edition.  The story, while not exactly original, stands apart from the series and the bonus material is enlightening and entertaining for audiences that might not have seen it before.  It provides quite a bit of extra insight into the movie, and in turn appreciation for the movie, too.  For all of the value that each element brings to the movie’s presentation, there are still plenty of other elements to note including the various platforms on which the movie has been made available in its new re-issue.  It has been made available on DVD, Blu-ray, and special edition steelbook.  For the sake of this review, movie’s Blu-ray re-issue will receive the attention.  The Blu-ray re-issue presents the movie in both letterbox and full screen.  It also includes a code for a digital download of the movie so that audiences can take the movie with them everywhere that they go.  The movie’s availability on Blu-ray for this presentation also marks the first time that the movie has ever been available on said format.  It is also the first time that it has been made available on a digital platform, too.  To that end, Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios have covered al of their bases in presenting the movie in its expansive Blu-ray presentation as well as its DVD and steelbook presentation.  It allows audiences across the board to be able to enjoy the movie regardless of whether they have a Blu-ray player or a DVD player.  When this positive is set against the movie’s central story and its new bonus material, all three elements join together to show clearly why The Transformers: The Movie is welcome in the home library of any Transformers fan’s home library in its new 30th Anniversary re-issues.

Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios’ new 30th Anniversary re-issue of The Transformers: The Movie is a welcome addition to the home library of any of the franchise’s true hardcore fans.  That is evident in the movie’s story, which holds its own against the franchise’s TV installments.  It may not exactly be an original story, considering Marvel Productions’ role in its creation.  But it is still a story that holds its own. The bonus material that is included in the movie’s new re-issue adds even more entertainment and appreciation to the movie’s presentation.  The various platforms on which it is available in its new re-issue are—collectively speaking—just as important to its presentation here as its story and its bonus material.  These elements, as important as they are to the movie’s presentation, are hardly the movie’s only key elements.  The movie’s artwork, its soundtrack, and so many other elements can be noted just as easily as the elements discussed here.  All things considered, the new 30th Anniversary Edition of The Transformers: The Movie is a welcome addition to the library of any true hardcore Transformers fan’s movie library. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘Maude: The Complete Fifth Season’ Is Yet Anoher Example Of Comedy Done Right

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Television today is a pale shadow of what it once was so many decades ago.  It used to be that even with only a few channels audiences had so many options.  That is because writers in television’s bygone eras were allowed to get away with so much more without fear of repercussions.  They weren’t afraid to take on touchy subjects.  And that is because people weren’t so driven by political correctness.  It’s too bad there are so few TV shows like that out there today.  Thankfully Shout! Factory has been offering audiences options in the past year or so with the release of the classic dramedy Maude both in a full series set and in its own separate standalone season sets.  This past June, Shout! Factory released the series’ penultimate season.  It goes without saying that the series is just as entertaining in its fifth season as in its first seasons if not perhaps more so.  That is due in large part to the work of the series’ writers.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note in the series’ fifth season as that of the show’s writers.  This will be discussed later.  Last and hardly least of note in the fifth season of Maude is the series’ general presentation (its audio and video).  It plays its own important role in the overall presentation of Maude: The Complete Fifth Season.  Together with the work of the show’s writers and its cast, all three elements come together to show why Maude was, and still is today, one of the greatest series of one of television’s greatest eras.

Late this past June, Shout! Factory released the fifth complete season of the classic dramedy Maude.  The series’ penultimate season, it is more proof of why the series was, and still is today, one of the greatest series from one of television’s greatest eras.  This is thanks in no small part to the continued work of the show’s writers.  Audiences will note in watching Season Five’s twenty-four episodes that it boasts just as much heart and humor as it did throughout all four of its previous seasons.  What’s more many of the topics that are covered in each story—gender roles, homosexuality, fidelity (and infidelity) and even bromances (of all things)—are just as relevant today as they were in Season Five’s original run on CBS.  From Walter and Arthur learning to be comfortable in with simply hugging each other to Maude trying to be there for Walter when he faces one of his darkest moments to Maude having to face the very real issue of immigration and beyond, the writers expertly balance the series’ heart and humor from one episode to the next right up to its season finale in which Maude has to find a new housekeeper.  What is truly amazing to think about in considering the series’ writing in its fifth season is the fact that the writers managed once again to craft a whole season’s worth of new, original episodes all while taking on many of the issues that had been tackled time and again in the series’ first four seasons.  If for no reason other than that, the writing deserves its share of credit.  That and the ability of the writers to balance the series’ heart and humor throughout solidifies the importance of the series’ writing in its fifth season.  The work of the series’ writers is just one of the most notable of Season Five’s elements of course.  The work of the show’s cast in interpreting each episode’s script is just as important to note here as the work of the shows writers.

The work put in by Maude’s writers in the series’ fifth season is undeniably important to the series’ presentation.  That is because of the expert way in which they balanced the show’s heart and humor once again all while crafting twenty-four new episodes with topics that had already been tackled more than once in the series’ first four seasons.  While their work is clearly important in its own right to the presentation of the series’ fifth season, it is only one of the most important of the season’s elements.  The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note as that of its writers beginning with lead star Bea Arthur.  Arthur is spot on once again throughout Season Five.  Her comic timing both by herself and with her cast mates.  There are moments here and there in which she breaks down that fourth wall, and does so with such subtlety.  That subtlety makes for its own share of laughs because of how subtle she is in doing so.  In other moments such as when Maude finds Walter fighting for life in the three-part story arc “Walter’s Crisis” she is just as incredible to watch because of her ability to emote without becoming hammy.  In the case of Walter’s dream about Arthur she is just as entertaining thanks to her comic timing with co-star Bill Macy (The Jerk, The Holiday, Analyze This).  Macy is just as entertaining in his own right, too.  There is no denying that.  His reaction when Maude’s friends turn out to be swingers is classic in its own right.  When he and co-star Conrad Bain take on the topic of men being comfortable with something as simple as hugging one another (even when they’re straight) that comic timing is just as evident.  Macy’s portrayal of Walter’s emotional pain in “Walter’s Crisis” is just as incredible to take in.  Just as with [Bea] Arthur, it would have been so easy for him to chew the scenery so to speak in that story arc.  But he didn’t.  He hit the nail right on the head with his portrayal.  It is just one more example of the importance of the cast’s work in Maude’s fifth season and hardly the last.  One could note the work of both Rue McClanahan and Conrad Bain just as much here, too.  But that would take far more time and space than is available here.  Keeping that in mind, it should be clear why the work of the cast in Maude’s fifth season is just as important to its presentation as the work put in by the show’s writers.  It still is not the last notable element to examine in the presentation of Season Five.

The work put in both by Maude’s writers and the show’s cast is important to the presentation of its fifth season.  It works hand in hand to make quite clear why this season is just as enjoyable as the series’ first four seasons.  The work of said parties is collectively only part of what makes Maude’s fifth season so enjoyable.  The work put in by those charged with restoring the footage for Season Five’s home release is just as important to note as that of the show’s writers and cast.  Audiences that were not lucky enough to get their hands on the series’ full six-season box set will be glad to know that the production values presented in Season Five are just as impressive as those presented in the series’ first four seasons, too.  It is clear in watching Season Five that just as much time and effort went in to restoring the show’s footage (including its audio) as was put in to restore Seasons 1 – 4.  The footage is grainy, as it should be.  But it is also clear that it has been cleaned up to look just as it did in its original run.  This is important to note because sadly there are some companies out there who don’t even make that effort.  Rather, they just let the footage look terribly grainy and almost unwatchable.  That isn’t the case here.  In the same vein, the audio is perfectly in sync and sounds just as good.  The combination of both factors shows clearly why the production values presented in Maude’s fifth season is just as important to its presentation on DVD as is the season’s writing and the work of the show’s cast.  All things considered, audiences will agree that regardless of their familiarity with this classic standout series this season is yet another wonderful installment of a show that is one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century.

Maude is one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century, hands down.  Shout! Factory has proven that time and again thanks to the release of the series’ full six-season set some time ago and with the release of its first four seasons.  Now with the release of the show’s fifth season late this past June Shout! Factory has done just the same once again.  The series’ writing is once again a breath of fresh air in comparison to the writing presented in so many of today’s sitcoms.  Its stories are just as relevant today as they were in their original broadcasts.  The same can be said of the topics that each episode takes on.  Throughout it all, the writers once again balanced the heart and humor that made the series so enjoyable in its first four seasons, too.  The work of the cast in interpreting the scripts for Season Five does just as much to exhibit how entertaining Maude remained in its fifth season.  The work put in to restoring the show’s footage for Season Five’s home release is the final touch on this set.  Each element is important to note in its own right in examining the overall presentation of Maude: The Complete Fifth Season.  All things considered, this penultimate season of Maude is yet another clear example of why Maude was and still is today one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century.  Maude: The Complete Fifth Season is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/maude-season-five.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘Humpback Whales’ Is Another Successful Entry In Shout! Factory’s IMAX Series

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Humpback whales are among the most beautiful, stunning creatures on the face of the Earth.  One would be hard pressed to find someone who would disagree with that sentiment.  One need only look at the number of documentaries and movies made about humpback whales to see just the level of reverence that people have for them.  Earlier this month, yet another entry was added to the field in the form of the new IMAX offering, simply titled Humpback Whales.  This latest entry in Shout! Factory’s ongoing series of IMAX documentaries doesn’t necessarily teach anything new about the whales in question.  That has to be noted right up front.  Rather, it is more of an activist film than documentary.  That is beside the point.  The program’s most important feature is its cinematography. It is a stunning visual treat for the eyes.  The bonus material that is included in the program is just as important to note in examining the program’s presentation as its cinematography.  The program’s central story rounds out the most important of its elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the program.  When they are combined into one presentation, they make Humpback Whales another enjoyable offering in Shout! Factory’s IMAX series.

Shout! Factory’s latest IMAX offering Humpback Whales is another enjoyable offering from the company’s IMAX series.  Most notable of the program’s presentation is its cinematography.  Recorded entirely in IMAX and in 3D audiences are taken on an incredible visual trip throughout the course of the program’s 40-minut run time thanks to the work of its cinematographers.  The footage of the whales surfacing so as to feed is incredible to experience even in standard 2D hi-def.  Even in standard 2D such a moment still pulls audiences into the program. The footage presenting the whales breaching is just as powerful in its own right.  The aerial views of this action and the closer, sea level views are just as incredible to experience as is the footage of the mother whale with her young calf.  Of course there is also some more stirring footage, too that some might be unsuitable for younger viewers as the program addresses how certain nations still skirt international whaling laws and get away with killing the whales.  That should be mentioned right now.  That aside, the program’s overall cinematography stands out as its key element in examining its overall presentation.  If for no other reason, audiences should see this program—whether in 3D or 2D—for its cinematography.  The cinematography is in itself just one reason that the program is worth the watch.  Its bonus material actually compliments its cinematography.

The cinematography that is presented throughout the course of Humpback Whales is in itself an important part of the program’s presentation.  It is not the program’s only important element, though.  The bonus material that is included in the program’ home release is just as important as the program’s cinematography.  That is because the bonus material takes audiences behind the lens.  It presents to audiences just how much time and effort went in to bringing the cinematography in question to life.  The filming crew had to weather storms in order to catch all of the right shots.  It had to figure out where the whales would be feeding to get just the right shots of them in action for other footage.  And in another case, they had to work with members of a whale rescue group as it tailed a whale in distress to capture the group trying to save the whale from a bunch of netting.  These are just some of the examples of what audiences get to see in terms of the program’s creative process thanks to the program’s bonus material.  There is much more presented in the program’s bonus material that will keep audiences just as engaged as that which is noted here.   All in all, the bonus material included in Humpback Whales’ home release proves just as important to the program as its stunning cinematography.  That is because it creates an appreciation for the amount of time and work that went into capturing the footage for the program and assembling it for its presentation.  It still is not the last remaining element to consider in examining the program’s presentation.  The story that is presented at the heart of the program rounds out its presentation.

The cinematography that is presented throughout Humpback Whales and the bonus material that is included in the program are both key to the program’s presentation.  That is because of how closely the two elements work together.  While both elements are undeniably important to the program’s presentation they are not its only important elements.  The story at the heart of the program is just as important to note as those elements.  It doesn’t try to pass itself off as a documentary a la those presented by PBS or even like its predecessors—Rocky Mountain Express, Journey To Space, Flight of the Butterflies.  Rather it makes clear that it is an activist story aimed at raising awareness about the dangers that still face humpback whales today.  Most of those dangers are, as it points out, man-made.  Some are intentional while others are not.  In whole, though those dangers are there and people should be aware of said dangers.  It doesn’t allow itself to become as preachy as some other activist presentations either.  That makes the story stand on its own merits, too.  It makes the program in whole that much more worth at least one watch.  When this element is set against the program’s cinematography and its bonus material all three elements present Humpback Whales as a program that animal rights activists and filmmakers alike will appreciate.

Humpback Whales, the latest of Shout! Factory’s new IMAX releases, is a presentation that animal rights activists and filmmakers alike will appreciate.  That is due in part to the program’s cinematography.  The footage that is presented throughout the forty-minute program is stunning in its angles, its lighting and so many other aspects.  The bonus material included in the program’s home release is just as important to the program because it shows how much time and effort went in to bringing the footage to the screen.  It will create a whole new appreciation for even those that are not deeply involved in the world of filmmaking.  The story at the heart of the program is an activist story.  There is no getting around that.  That aside, it is nowhere near as preachy as some other activist programs out there.  Keeping that in mind it makes the program even more worth at least one watch.  When it is set alongside the program’s cinematography and its bonus material, all three elements combine to make this program ultimately, another successful entry in Shout! Factory’s IMAX series.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/documentary/humpback-whales.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Every Horror Movie Purist Should “See” ‘I Saw What You Did’

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Hollywood’s horror genre has come a long way from what it once was and not for the better either.  It seems like every other horror flick churned out by Hollywood today is either an overly dark and violent movie centered on demons and the like or it is an equally violent (and gory) slasher flick.  That wasn’t so much the case in Hollywood’s golden age.  It was wholly possible for studios in that age to make horror flicks—regardless of their specific subgenre—without being so dark, bloody, and violent.  Alfred Hitchcock’s classic slasher flick Psycho is proof of this as is the 1963 nightmare-inducing ghost story The Haunting and Allied Artists’ 1959 fright fest House on Haunted Hill.  All three of these movies are examples of what once made horror such a great genre.  They are also examples, when set against their newer counterparts, of just how far the genre has fallen from its pedestal.  The comparison is stark to say the very least.  Earlier this year Scream Factory, Shout! Factory’s horror division released another example of what once made Hollywood’s horror realm so great when it released the classic slasher flick I Saw What You Did on Blu-ray.  This 1965 flick from William Castle Productions (which was also behind House on Haunted Hill) and Universal Pictures is a must have for any horror fan looking to escape the glut of cookie cutter slasher flicks and ghost stories currently being churned out by Hollywood’s Big Six studios.  That is due in no small part to the movie’s story.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in its presentation as its story.  Last but hardly least of note in the movie’s presentation is its general lack of blood, gore, and violence.  This element rounds out the movie’s most important elements and is no less important than the movie’s story or the work of the movie’s cast.  Keeping that in mind, each element does its own part to make this movie an entertaining work of horror.  Altogether they make this movie another must see for any horror purist.

Universal Pictures’ 1965 slasher flick I Saw What You Did is a must see for any horror movie purist.  That is because like so many horror flicks of its age it is the antithesis of everything that Hollywood’s horror genre has become.  That is clear in examining the story at the center of the movie.  The story centers on the antics of teenagers Libby Mannering (Andi Garrett—The Wild Wild West, Black Sheep Squadron) and Kit Austin (Sarah Lane—The Virginian, The Trial of Billy Jack, Billy Jack Goes To Washington) and the eventual terror that comes as a result of what they think are harmless phone pranks.  The pair’s prank calls end up having a rather far-reaching effect, causing (indirectly) the murder of Judith  Marek (Joyce Meadows—The Brain From Planet Arous, Two Faces West, The Girl in Lovers Lane) by her husband Steve (John Ireland—Spartacus, All The King’s Men, Red River).  Libby calls Steve’s number, pretending to be another woman, which leads Judith to confront Steve while he’s showering.  What’s interesting is that when Judith goes to confront Steve, she notices that their bathroom is a shambles.  It is clear that Steve’s intent was to murder Judith regardless and make it look like someone else did it.  But her confrontation leads Steve to murder her in the shower and then get rid of the body.  When Libby calls back later, she tells Steve, “I saw what you did and I know who you are,” he thinks that she is serious, which leads to even more tension.  What’s really interesting in all of that tension is that in adapting author Ursula Curtiss’ novel Out of the Dark to cinematic form, writer William P. McGivern unknowingly included a story element that is wholly relevant today.  The element in question involves the young, naïve Libby actually going to meet Steve because she thinks he actually wants to meet her, not knowing that he is a murderer.  This is an issue that the world faces even more today than ever before due to the advent of online messaging services, chat rooms, etc.  Who would have thought a story crafted more than fifty years ago would have such a relevant element within its script?  This revelation makes the movie’s story all the more believable, and in turn engaging.  Of course the movie becomes somewhat cheesy in its final act.  That aside, the rest of the story will still keep audiences on the edge of their seats.  That being the case, the story in whole shows just how important it is to the movie’s overall presentation.  It is just one of the elements that make the movie such an entertaining work of horror.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as its story in examining what makes the movie a must see for horror purists.

William P. McGivern’s cinematic adaptation of Ursula Curtiss’ novel Out of the Dark is an important part of the presentation of I Saw What You Did.  That is because it is by and large, a thriller that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.  It manages to do so even without the use of any overt violence and bloodshed.  That is not to say that there is no violence or bloodshed.  It is there.  Don’t mistake that.  But it is kept to an extreme minimum since censors at the time didn’t allow but so much of said elements.  It shows that horror can be enjoyable even without blood, gore, or overt violence.  Of course the movie’s story is just one of the most important elements to examine in McGivern’s adaptation of Curtiss’ novel.  The work of the movie’s cast in interpreting McGivern’s script is just as important to examine here as his story.  Garrett and Lane are completely entertaining as lead stars Libby and Kit.  The pair makes audiences shake their heads in disbelief at Libby and Kit.  That is because the actresses fully embrace the girls’ lack of forethought in their actions.  While teens today might not make prank calls for their own fun that lack of foresight, teens today still act just as thoughtlessly even if in different ways.  And it gets them into their own share of trouble, too.  On the other end of the spectrum John Ireland is just as entertaining to watch as the villainous Steve Marak.  Steve’s actions might not seem all that believable on the surface.  But anyone that has ever watched an episode of 48 Hours or Dateline knows that what he did is in fact rather commonplace in real life crimes.  He does such an impressive job in presenting Steve’s paranoia about having been seen.  That is especially considering that only two people saw what he was doing over the course of the movie.  Each of the movie’s other cast members do their own part in adding to the movie’s enjoyment.  But it is really the trio noted here that most shines through.  Their work in interpreting their parts (and McGivern’s script) is just as important to the movie’s presentation as McGivern’s own work.  It still is not the last remaining element to note in examining what makes this classic slasher flick so surprisingly entertaining.  The general lack of overt violence and bloodshed, as slightly mentioned earlier, plays a part in the movie’s presentation that is just as important to note as the movie’s story and the work of the movie’s cast.

The story at the center of I Saw What You Did and the work of the movie’s cast are both important in examining what makes this classic slasher flick so entertaining.  Each element plays its own part in making it a movie that any horror purist should see as has already been noted.  They are not the only elements that make the movie so surprisingly enjoyable either.  The movie’s general lack of blood, gore, and overt violence is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as its story and the work of its cast.  There is some blood and violence incorporated into the movie.  But most of it comes when Steve Marak murders his wife and his mistress.  Even when he does this, the bloodshed is virtually nothing when compared to most of the slasher flicks that are available to audiences today.  Rather it is more comparable to the bloodshed used in the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).  Given that is the result of standards set by censors and the MPAA at that time.  But it is a good thing.  That is because it forced McGivern (as with every other writer at the time) to actually rely on story more so than on the violence factor (I.E. quality versus quantity).  It is a standard to which this critic personally wishes horror movies would return.  McGivern did an admirable job in focusing on the movie’s quality.  He showed that a story can stand on its own literary merits even in a horror setting without having to rely on blood, gore, and violence.  It really serves as a model for today’s horror screen writers.  It shows that a horror movie can be fun without being overly violent, bloody, gory or even nightmare-inducing.  Keeping this in mind, it rounds out the movie’s most important elements.  Together with McGivern’s work and that of the movie’s cast all three elements join together to make the movie in whole a surprisingly fun ride for any horror movie purist.

Scream Factory’s recent re-issue of I Saw What You Did is a surprisingly fun ride for any true horror movie purist.  That is because it shows that it is possible for horror flicks to be fun without being overly violent and sexualized.  That is evident most prominently in the movie’s story, written by William P. McGivern.  The story relies more on its literary elements than its actual visual content to keep audiences entertained and engaged.  The movie’s cast is just as notable in its work in front of the camera.  Garrett, Lane, and Ireland are completely believable in their respective roles and in turn envelope audiences in the story.  The story’s general lack of blood, gore, violence, and sexual content is Just as important to note here as the story itself and the work of the movie’s cast.  It brings everything full circle and shows together with the previously noted elements that it is possible for a horror flick to be entertaining without being questionable in its content.  All things considered the recent re-issue of this classic horror flick proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable ride for any true horror movie purist.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/i-saw-what-you-did.  More information on this and other titles from Scream Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation’ Is An Interesting Piece Of ‘TMNT’ History

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban

Thirty two years ago Mirage Studios first introduced American audiences to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The “heroes on the half shell” were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.  In the years since their creation, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo (and their rodent sensei Splinter) have gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon with various incarnations on both the silver screen and the small screen.  Some have been hugely popular such as the original 1987 animated series (perhaps the franchise’s most successful incarnation) and the 1990 big screen adaptation of the comic book.  That incarnation even spawned three sequels.  Other incarnations have not been so successful, such as the 2014 big screen reboot and its new sequel Out of the Shadows.  They are not the franchise’s only lesser installments.  In 1997 Saban tried its hand at its own take on the everyone’s favorite reptile heroes in the form of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  That incarnation ultimately proved to be a bust for the company.  It only lasted one season and a total of twenty-eight episodes.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory fans of this short-lived series can own it for themselves on DVD.  That is because Shout! Factory released the series in its entirety early this past May.  While the series was obviously one of the least successful of the TMNT franchise it still is a good addition to any hardcore TMNT fan’s collection.  That is because it serves as a historical document of sorts showing everything that was done right and wrong with the series.  In examining those pros and cons in whole audiences will agree that while it might not be the best of the TMNT franchise’s installments it also is not its worst.  That (dis)honor still goes to Paramount and Nickelodeon’s 2014 big screen take on the turtles.  Keeping that in mind, this installment proves once more to be a worthwhile addition to any TMNT fan’s collection if only for historical purposes.

Saban’s 1997 live-action take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is by no means the franchise’s best incarnation.  In all fairness it is also not the franchise’s worst incarnation either.  Keeping that in mind, it is a welcome (and important) addition to any TMNT fan’s collection.  That is because it shows through its twenty-eight total episodes that Saban, with all of its successes, was not invincible at the time of the series’ run.  That is not entirely the fault of the people at Saban, though.  In examining for instance the timing of the series’ debut it had a lot working against it.  The series was meant to follow the events of the franchise’s original cinematic trilogy.  The problem is that that trilogy wrapped in 1993 with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.  Saban’s live action series didn’t start until four years later in 1997, which was also only a year after the original animated series came to its own end.  When the story lines presented in each are taken into consideration and the timing of their beginnings and endings, they worked wholly against Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  Had Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation come earlier—perhaps during the animated series’ run as an alternate universe series of sorts—then it might have had more of a fighting chance.  But because of the timing of its debut and its plot line it is clear why it failed in the long run.  That is just one important part of the show that should be noted in examining what the series in whole.  the series’ writing, in the bigger picture of its presentation, played its own integral part in the series’ failure.  The same can be said of the look and the feel of the series.

The timing of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation’s debut is a big part of what might have made the series’ run so short.  The timing of its release, when considered alongside the events of the franchises cinematic trilogy and its animated series, put a rather large nail in the series’ proverbial coffin.  The series’ writing is just as problematic as the timing of its release.  The series’ writers opened this series by introducing its key villain—Dragon Lord–early on.  The problem is that he wasn’t the series’ only villain starting out.  The writers incorporated Shredder into the story, too.  However, they wasted very little time taking him out of the story, too.  The way in which they wrote him out was rather anticlimactic to say the very least, too.  It almost leaves one asking why he was even used in the overall story considering how little impact his elimination had on the series’ overall story.  It could be argued that in so randomly eliminating Shredder, the writers were just throwing something out there just to see if it would work and make the series in whole anywhere near feasible.  While the overall story did work, it still ended up being relatively lackluster at best.  The same thing happened when the writers behind the TMNT animated series tried to keep that series going after the turtles eliminated Shredder.  They introduced a new villain—an alien from another world—but it just didn’t work, which ultimately led to the series’ end in Season Ten.  The same sort of mindset led to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III’s failure, too.  With Shredder out of the way at the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II it was as if the writers were asking where to go from there.  One can only assume that someone just said, “hey, let’s send them back in time on a quest and see how audiences react.”  While the end result was entertaining in its own right, it is still obvious that the movie’s writers struggled to come up with something to keep the movie (and the franchise) going.  This, again, goes back to the obvious practice of the writers behind Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.  It is as if, again, the writers went into the series blindly and just threw in what they could as the series advanced.

The timing of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation and its writing are both key elements that worked against the series in its short run on FOX Kids from 1997 – 1998.  They are not the only elements that should be considered in examining what the series got right and what it got wrong.  The look and the feel of the series are just as important to note as the timing of its run and its writing.  The look of the series will be examined first.  The costumes and the sets that were used in Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation are a stark contrast to those used by Saban’s Power Rangers franchise at the time.  That series had come a long way in terms of its look from the days of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  Some of the camp was still there in terms of its look.  But that look had also clearly evolved to a point since those days, too.  By comparison Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation took audiences back to the days of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers thanks to the campy look of its sets and costumes.  No effort was made by the people at Saban to make this series look anything like the franchise’s original cinematic trilogy, which again this series was supposed to be linked. Even the look of Shredder’s outfit barely made him look menacing.  He looked more like one of the then WWF’s costumed bad guys than any truly menacing villain.  That is thanks to the design of his outfit.  Even the look of the turtles was a complete change of pace from their look on the big screen and its previous small screen incarnation.  This is again even with the series’ alleged connection to the franchise’s cinematic trilogy.  The only part of the series that really bore any similarity (and that term is used very loosely here) to that trilogy is that of the turtles’ subway lair.  It is obvious that whoever designed their lair for this series did in fact make a concerted effort to connect the two universes.  Sadly it is about the only thing that actually connects the two universes in terms of the series’ look.  The rest of the sets and costumes are more akin to the MMPR series than anything seen on the big screen or any other TMNT incarnations.  By relation, the feel of the series is linked just as directly to MMPR as its look.

The look of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is an undeniably important part of the series’ life span.  That is because of how starkly it stands out from that of the rest of the offerings in the TMNT universes and even from that of Saban’s Power Rangers universes at the time.  The series’ feel is just as important to note as its look.  That is because its feel stands out just as starkly as its look.  The feel includes the series’ cinematography and the acting.  The cinematography throws back to the days of MMPR just as much as the costumes and sets that were used throughout this series.  That is evident in the scene transitions, the angles used within given scenes, and even the speed of the shot changes within the scenes, too.  The transitions from the general scenes to those of the dragons’ lair are key examples of that throwback look.  MMPR used very similar transitions when its scenes transitioned from Angel Grove to Rita (and later Zedd’s) moon base.  That is something that was gradually phased out as the Power Rangers franchise evolved over time.  The acting on the part of both Shredder and Dragon Lord plays its own part in the series’ feel.  The same can be said of those that brought Leo, Raph, Donnie, Mikey, and even Venus to life.  The camp in their collective work gives the series a fun, cheesy feel that interestingly enough will keep audiences entertained because of that cheese factor.  Again it is all a noticeable throwback to the days of MMPR.  Again in comparing this to the feel presented in the likes of Power Rangers in Space, the current installment of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise at the time, it is a completely different feel.  Good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.  In all fairness it likely played its own part in the series’ downfall since few programs if any had that same campy feel at the time.  So that probably hurt the series even more.  Between that and the show’s equally campy look, it becomes even more evident why the series’ combined look and feel might have hurt the series more than it helped.  That is especially considering the time at which the series was on television.  Speaking of the time at which the series debuted, it plays its own part in the series’ problems.  The writing behind the series plays its own part in the series, too.  Each element plays its own part in the series’ short run.  That goes without saying.  All things considered it becomes wholly clear why Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is one of the least successful entries in the TMNT universe.  But when it is compared to those other entries in it still is not the franchise’s worst installment.  Keeping that in mind, it is still a welcome and important addition to any TMNT fan’s home collection if only for its historical value.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is hardly the best offering in the TMNT universe.  It is not the franchise’s worst offering, either.  That (dis) honor belongs, to this day, to Paramount and Nickelodeon Studios’ 2016 big screen reboot of the original cinematic franchise.  Given, this series had (and has) a lot working against it.  But still in comparison to other offerings from the TMNT universe it could have been a lot worse.  Considering all of this it is still a welcome addition to any true TMNT fan’s collection whether for entertainment or for historical value.  It is available exclusively via Wal-Mart and can be ordered online via Wal-Mart at http://www.walmart.com/ip/Ninja-Turtles-The-Next-Mutation-The-Complete-Series/51301759.   More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘Endgame’ Makes Plenty Of Smart Moves

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The underdog story is one of the most overly story types in the movie industry today.  From Rudy to Rocky to Remember The Titans and beyond Hollywood loves visiting the underdog arena.  In all honesty, it is the view of this critic that Hollywood loves the underdog arena way too much.  That is because of the genre’s overall lack of creativity and originality. It seems that nine out of every ten underdog stories offered to audiences today present roughly the same story just in a different setting.  While that is a somewhat disheartening number to consider, it does at least mean that every now and then there is one underdog story that makes up for the other nine that are otherwise forgettable.  Earlier this month Shout! Factory released one of those standout offerings in the form of the indie underdog story Endgame.  The movie, originally released nationwide on September 25th, 2015, was released earlier this month on DVD and Blu-ray by Shout! Factory.  While it might not be the most memorable movie of its kind to ever be released it is still a worthwhile alternative to all of the other run-of-the-mill stories within that arena.  That is especially true in considering the movie’s story, which is just one of its key elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note here.  That will be discussed later.  The bonus material that is included with the movie’s new home release rounds out the most important of its elements.  It completes the movie’s presentation in its new home release and shows once more why this indie underdog story is just as inspirational and moving as its more well-known counterparts and in turn, is worth at least one watch.

Endgame is hardly the first underdog story to ever be presented to audiences in cinematic history.  It is however, an underdog story that is just as inspirational as its more well-known counterparts.  In turn it is an underdog story that is worth at least one watch as is evidenced in the movie’s central story.  The story follows a young Latino boy named Jose (Rico Rodriguez—Modern Family, The Muppets, Epic Movie) who happens to be quite the talented chess player.  Growing up in the poor community of Brownsville, Texas, chess is the only thing that brings him any joy in life other than his grandmother (Ivonne Coll—Jane The Virgin, Lean on Me, The Godfather: Part II).  That is because he is living in the shadow of his older brother Miguel (Xavier Gonzalez—Between Us, Walk Away, Stories of the Paranormal).  Miguel is a rising soccer star and everybody knows and loves him.  They expect Jose to be just like Miguel.  But when Miguel is killed in a late night car crash, life changes for everyone, including Jose and his divorcee mother.  Chess becomes even more Jose’s escape and his source of strength.  The story eventually sees Jose and his team mates in his school’s chess team inspire each other and their entire community as they make their way to the state chess championships.  Even Jose’s mother and grandmother are inspired and moved in their own way.  What is most interesting of the whole story is that while the story does end at least somewhat as expected there is a surprise of sorts in the end, too.  That unexpected ending element is actually a pleasant surprise.  It won’t be revealed here for the sake of those who haven’t yet seen the movie.  But it is nice to see that writer/director Carmen Marron didn’t let the story remain formulaic even in its end.  Staying on that train of thought, Marron’s approach to her adaptation of the real life events on which this movie are based is to be just as commendable as the story itself.

The story at the center of Endgame is in itself worth at least one watch.  That is because it isn’t just another underdog story centered on a boxer, football player (or team), or sports team in whole.  Rather it focuses on one community’s banding together behind an unsuspecting middle school chess team in one of Americas most underprivileged school districts.  While the story’s “nothing to something” story line is ultimately not that original the story is still original in its own right since few if any underdog stories have ever centered on such subjects.  That is just part of what makes the story stand out.  Writer/director Carmen Marron’s approach to the story is just as important to note in considering the story as the story itself.  That is because unlike other screenwriters, Marron didn’t try to make Endgame into yet another run-of-the-mill, over-the-top epic underdog stories of which audiences are all too familiar.  Rather she made sure that the story maintained a certain sense of humility throughout instead of letting it become one of those almost pompous presentations that are so common among its more well-known counterparts.  At the same time, being a Dove Foundation approved movie it also didn’t have that overly cheesy vibe of so many other movies given the okay by the Christian-based film rating organization.  Rather it has more the feel of a general independent movie than one of its over-the-top big brothers or one of its cheesier indie counterparts.  In other words, it boasts its own approach, and in turn identity thanks to Marron’s approach.  When this is taken into consideration along with the story itself the two elements combine to show why Endgame’s story makes its worth at least one watch.

The story at the center of Endgame and the approach taken in creating the movie are both important pieces of the movie’s presentation.  Both by themselves and together, they make the movie worth at least one watch.  They are not the only important elements to note in examining the movie’s presentation.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as that of Marron in developing the story.  Rodriguez, Coll, and Justina Machado are among the most notable of the cast members in considering the cast’s work.  Whether alone or together, each actor puts forth an admirable performance throughout the movie.  Thanks to Rodriguez’s performance, so many younger audiences will be able to relate to Jose regardless of nationality.  Even older audiences may find themselves being able to relate to Jose.  That is because so many people have faced the same sibling issues that Jose faced and the related frustrations.  It makes Jose’s frustrations completely understandable.  Rodriguez’s handling of those emotions is just as relatable to many viewers.  Given, probably not every has broken a sibling’s trophy out of anger, but they have likely broken something belonging to a sibling out of anger towards said figure.  In the same breath, likely fewer people have ever had to deal with the death of a sibling (or even a child) at such a young age.  But there sadly are those few that have dealt with it.  Being that there are those who have, they will appreciate the pure emotion exhibited by all three actors.  It would have been so easy for each to go over the top in their portrayal of their respective characters’ sadness of Miguel’s death.  In a much bigger budgeted film, that might have even happened.  That’s especially the case since this has in fact happened in said movies.  But none of the trio went to that length.  It makes each individual’s performance all the more believable and engaging.  On a different note, the relationship between Jose and his grandmother is just as enjoyable to see.  Coll and Rodriguez have such wonderful chemistry when they are on screen together.  It is clear in watching them that thy really enjoyed working together.  Because they had so much fun together audiences will enjoy their performances just as much.  There are so many other performances that could be cited here in explaining why the cast’s work is just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story.  They include that of Rodriguez’s cast mate Alina Herrera (Marrying God, The Little Samaritan, Caribe Road) as Jose’s frien Dani, Efran Ramirez’s (Crank, Napoleon Dynamite, Eastbound & Down) take on Jose’s teacher Mr. Alvarado, and Jon Gries’ (Napoleon Dynamite, Taken, Men in Black) take on Principal Thomas.  Each actor puts forth his (or her) impressive performance throughout the movie.  Their performances couple with those of Rodriguez, Coll, and Machado to show even more clearly why the work of the movie’s cast is just as important to its presentation as that of Marron in crafting the story.  They are not the movie’s only important elements, though.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s home release is just as important to note as its story and the work of its cast.

Writer/director Carmen Marron’s work in developing Endgame’s story and the work of the movie’s cast in interpreting Marron’s scripts are both important in their own right to the movie’s presentation.  Each element makes the movie worth at least one watch.  They are not the movie’s only important elements, though.  The bonus material that is included with the movie in its new home release is just as important to the movie’s presentation as its writing and acting.  The most notable of those bonus materials is the movie’s bonus behind-the-scenes featurette.  This is important to note because it is rare for a behind-the-scenes featurette to add any real value to a movie’s presentation.  More often than not they are little more than space fillers regardless of the studio.  But in the case of this movie it actually adds quite a bit to the movie’s presentation.  Audiences learn in watching this featurette that lead star Rico Rodriguez actually came into the movie with at least some knowledge of chess.  He openly admitted that he was hardly a professional.  But he did have at least a certain amount of knowledge and understanding of the game.  So being involved in the movie, he states in his interviews that has in fact served to strengthen his interest in the centuries-old board game.  That is quite the statement.  On a related note, audiences will be just as interested to learn in this feature that the movie was recorded in just 19 days, many of which couldn’t even be full, eight-hour days.  That is due to labor laws preventing minors from working eight hours in a single day.  Most of the 19 days in question turned out to be about 6 hour days because of those labor laws.  All of this is so notable because of how the movie turned out in the long run.  Again, it boasts its very own identity both within the underdog arena and within the Dove-nominated field.  It stands out in both fields both in terms of its look and its feel.  This is the case even with the movie having been recorded in just 19 days.  That is truly extraordinary especially for an independent movie.  Just as interesting to note is the fact that the movie was filmed completely on-site in Brownsville, Texas.  That adds even more to the movie’s believability.  By direct connection the revelation of the community’s welcoming nature towards the movie’s cast and crew is just as interesting to learn.  It echoes the togetherness exhibited by the community in the movie.  This shows once more the importance of the movies bonus material in regards to the movie’s overall presentation.  Even Marron’s own audio commentary throughout the movie adds its own interest to the movie.  When that engaging bonus material is set alongside the movie’s story and the work of the movie’s cast, the presentation in whole proves why it is, again, worth at least one watch.

Endgame is not the first underdog story to ever be presented to audiences either independently or on a major scale.  It is however, just as inspiring and moving as its more well-known counterparts past and present.  That is due to its largely original story and the approach taken in presenting the story.  The work of the movie’s cast plays its own part in making the movie worth seeing.  The same can be said of the bonus material included in the movie’s recent home release.  Each element plays its own important part in the movie’s overall presentation.  All things considered they make the movie more than just another underdog story.  They make it an underdog story that is worth at least one watch.  It is available in stores and online now and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-drama/endgame. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘Flight Of The Butterflies’ Is A “Soaring” Success

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The butterfly is one of nature’s most incredible creatures.  From one species to the next there the butterfly inspires so much awe.  That is because of the process that it goes through to become the winged being that people of all ages love.  It is also because of the beautiful rainbow of colors displayed by each species post metamorphosis.  There is also the contrast of their fragility and endurance to consider among so many other topics in considering what makes them such wonderfully interesting creatures.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and SK Films audiences are getting a very special look at what makes just one species of butterfly so incredible in the new IMAX presentation Flight of the Butterflies.  This roughly forty-five minute documentary follows what is perhaps the most well-known of the butterfly species in the form of the Monarch Butterfly.  It reveals in its re-enactment/documentary hybrid style presentation the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly including its epic (for lack of better wording) migratory pattern.  That story and presentation style makes up the central focus of the documentary’s presentation.  The program’s cinematography is just as important to note as the story and its format.  The bonus material included in the program’s home release rounds out its most important elements.  One can’t ignore the program’s audio here either.  That is especially when comparing it to the audio of the company’s previously released IMAX presentations.  It is just as important as the programs story, its cinematography, and bonus material.  All things considered, they make Flight of the Butterflies the best of Shout! Factory’s new IMAX presentations so far this year.

Flight of the Butterflies is Shout! Factory’s best new IMAX offering so far this year. That statement is supported through a number of elements that make up the program’s presentation beginning with its story.  This includes the format in which the story is presented, too.  Unlike its predecessors—Journey to Space and Rocky Mountain Express—this story turns the focus from technology to nature.  More specifically it focuses on the Monarch Butterfly, perhaps the most well-known and revered of the thousands of butterfly species.  The story takes audiences through the life cycle of the butterfly from a tiny egg all the way to its final stop in the mountains of Mexico and even back to Canada.  Along the way, the story notes subtly the impact that humans are having on the Monarch Butterfly population through urban sprawl, the elimination of resources such as milkweed, and other related actions.  That the filmmakers kept the program’s more preachy material to a minimum is deserving of its own applause.  It makes the overall story even more engaging for audiences of all ages.  The manner in which the story is presented plays its own important part in the program’s presentation, too.  It is presented more in the style of Hollywood’s major bio pics than the docs that have come before.  What is important to note here is that even being presented in such fashion, it doesn’t go full on in the way that those movies have and do go.  Rather it maintains a certain sense of simplicity and humility in that presentation style.  On the other side of that proverbial coin it doesn’t try to copy the re-enactment style presentations used by History Channel or PBS either.  What this means is that it presents the story in its own fashion even being a familiar style format.  It is just one way in which Fight of the Butterflies shows itself to be the best of Shout! Factory’s IMAX programs so far this year.  The cinematography that is used throughout the program is just as important to note as the story and its format in examining what makes it work.

The story at the center of Flight of the Butterflies and its format are both key pieces of the program’s presentation.  The story goes in a direction that is entirely opposite that of Journey to Space and Rocky Mountain Express. The format used to present the story stands out just as much as the story itself.  That is because neither of those programs used the format that is used here.  It even stands out from the format used in documentaries from PBS and History Channel.  This is even with the familiarity of the format.  Keeping all of this in mind, the program’s story and its format are just part of what makes the program stand out among its counterparts.  Its cinematography is just as important to note in its presentation as its story and format.  One of the most stunning pieces of footage presented in the program comes as the camera crew pans across an abandoned farm.  The farm, as the narrator notes, is shelter for the Monarch Butterflies.  It stands out both because of the shooting style and because of the contrast of colors in the footage.  The grass around the abandoned barn is a deep green.  The paint on the barn had obviously long ago worn away, leaving a bleak white/grey tint to its boards.  Meanwhile the sky off in the distance indicates trouble (I.E. a storm).  So much discussion can rise from this contrast.  That includes a statement about the safety and life offered by the barn even in its bleakness because of the deep green around the barn and.  The barn stands tall against the dark clouds in the distance, strengthening that statement about it serving as a safe haven for the butterflies.  The zoom effect used to show a butterfly’s path to a backyard haven, full of flowers, is another key example of what makes the program’s cinematography stand out.  It makes audiences feel as if they are the butterflies, making their way into the garden.  The way in which this shot was captured is explained in the program’s bonus material.  That will be discussed later.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the footage in this scene is stunning to say the very least.  One cannot ignore the absolutely incredible footage of the Monarch Butterflies in the mountains of Mexico, the final point of their migration.  There is something about the footage that is so beautiful.  This includes those moments in which the butterflies go about their lives alone an as they surround Doctor Urquhart and his wife.  It is just like something out of a major motion picture and must simply be seen to be fully appreciated.  It is just one more way in which the progam’s cinematography shines as part of the program’s overall presentation.  There is much more footage that could be cited here in explaining the importance of the program’s cinematography.  When audiences see it all for themselves they will agree that the program’s cinematography is indeed just as important to its presentation as its story. It still is not the last of the program’s most important elements.  The bonus material that is included in the doc’s home release is just as important to its presentation as its story and cinematography.

The story at the center of Flight of The Butterflies and the manner in which it is presented form a solid foundation for the program.  The cinematography that is used to help tell that story is just as important to the program’s presentation as its story.  They are not its only important elements, though.  The bonus material that is included in the documentary’s home release is just as important as its story and cinematography.  The most important of the included bonus material is its behind-the-scenes featurette.  More often than not the behind-the-scenes material included in most movies and documentaries amount to nothing and are typically useless to said presentations.  However in the case of this documentary it adds so much the program’s presentation.   Audiences will be surprised to learn in this feature that Gordon Pinsent (Babar and the Adventures of Badou, Babar, Away From Her) came into the role of Dr. Urquhart knowing little to nothing about Monarch butterflies or even lepidopterology (the study of butterflies).  He admits this himself. He also openly states how much his view on both changed as a result of his work on the documentary.  On another level audiences will be just as surprised to learn the lengths to which the filming crew went to capture the butterflies in their winter home.  What’s more the revelation that filming took an entire year is just as interesting to learn.   That is because it reveals the dedication on the part of the movie’s crew to fully capturing the life and migration of the butterflies.  On a related note, the respect that the crew showed the butterflies as it captured them on camera is just as enlightening and moving.   This is directly discussed and shown in this feature, too.  The discussion on the program’s cinematography is just as interesting as the feature’s other discussions.  One of the most interesting aspects of this discussion involves the butterflies’ discovery of a backyard haven that was developed specifically for butterflies.  Audiences learn that the crew used both a camera mounted on a helicopter and a boom arm camera to capture this moment, and that the two elements were melded together in order to present the sequence shown in the program.  The revelation about the regulations that led to this shooting style add even more interest to the discussion.  It would be understandable that the crew wouldn’t be able to get but so close to the residential sanctuary with a massive aircraft.  The combination of the chopper-mounted footage and the boom-mounted footage makes this sequence alone so memorable in its own right.  It is just one more way in which the bonus material shines in the documentary’s new home release.  There are plenty of other discussions that will interest viewers in the feature.  Altogether the discussions presented in the program’s behind-the-scenes footage make this bonus just as important to the documentary’s overall presentation as its story and its cinematography.  All things considered this latest IMAX entry from Shout! Factory proves to be the best of its IMAX offerings so far this year.

Flight of the Butterflies is the best of Shout! Factory’s current offerings in its new IMAX series.  That is due in large part to the story at the heart of its presentation.  The cinematography that is used to help tell the story stands out just as much in the program’s presentation.  The bonus behind-the-scenes featurette that is included in the program’s home release rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way.  Altogether they make Flight of the Butterflies the best of Shout! Factory’s IMAX offerings so far this year.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/documentary/flight-of-the-butterflies.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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