Moonwatcher Films’ Indie Flick, ‘5-25-77’ Is A Surprisingly Enjoyable Based On Actual Events Presentation

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

With 2022 officially in its waning days, it is safe to say that Hollywood’s major studios have struggled to release very much in the way of substantive content. This year has largely been just another filled with prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on books and actual events. However, it looks like with the year finally winding down, maybe just maybe something positive might be finally here thanks to the premiere of Amblin Entertainment’s new drama, The Fablemans. Directed by none other than Steve Spielberg, the movie is a love letter to classic cinema and its role in a person’s own development. Whether it lives up to the hype is yet to be seen since it only premiered today. It is hardly the only movie of its sort. As a matter of fact, independent studio Moonwatcher Films’ brand new movie, 5-25-77 is its own unique story of the role of cinema in a young man’s personal growth. Released to DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, the movie is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining presentation that will move audiences to plenty of laughs and tears. That is due in large part to its story, which will be discussed shortly. The bonus feature-length audio commentary that accompanies the movie adds to the movie’s appeal. It will be examined a little later. The work of the movie’s cast rounds out the most important of the movie’s positives and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation. All things considered they make this movie a refreshing alternative to everything churned out by Hollywood’s major studios so far this year and one more of the year’s top new independent movies.

5-25-77, the newest independent movie from independent studio Moonwatcher Films, is a surprisingly enjoyable addition to this year’s field of new independent movies. What’s more it is also a welcome alternative to all of the content being churned out by Hollywood’s major movie studios, what with all of the prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on books and movies that they have continued to churn on this year. The movie’s appeal comes in large part through its story. The story here is simple: It is a coming-of-age story of sorts that follows the personal growth and development of writer/director/actor Patrick Read Johnson, during his teenage years. The story starts in 1968, when Patrick, as a young boy, is taken to the theater by his parents to see the timeless science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is clear in that opening scene that is where his love of cinema started. From there, he decides to start making his own movies with his own models and friends as the casts. As the story progresses over the course of the movie’s two hour, 13 minute run time, viewers see Patrick grow from a clumsy, goofy young man with stars in his eyes to a more thoughtful, mature young adult. What is really interesting in the overall story is that there is actually so much more depth than audiences realize at first. This is revealed late in the story as one of Patrick’s friends psychoanalyzes him as they and Bill wait outside the hospital for another of the friends, Robin. Patrick’s friend gets him to finally reveal the real reason for his drive to make movies. That revelation will be left for audiences to discover for themselves, but suffice it to say that the revelation in question will lead many viewers to want to go back and watch the movie again. When they do, they will catch something very important that they likely overlooked to begin with early on in the story. The subtlety of that element’s incorporation into the story gives the story so much more depth in the bigger picture.

Another aspect of Patrick’s growth comes through the story of Patrick’s relationship with Linda. The puppy love that he exhibits with Linda is a situation to which so many audiences can relate even today. That is because everyone has felt that infatuation (which is what he was really feeling) at one point or more in their young lives. Patrick’s eventual revelation of the situation involving Linda and Tony is just as pivotal to the story of his development. That is because it is really the final breaking point of sorts for him. The revelation that he makes is the catalyst to him finally making the most important decision of his life at that point. The way in which Johnson weaved this story in with the story of the impact of his childhood on his young adult life makes the overall story so rich and engaging. At times, audiences will be drawn to so much laughter. At others, they will be led to some tears as they watch Johnson’s growth. As a result of the engagement and entertainment that the story generates, audiences will agree that it forms a strong foundation for the movie’s presentation.

The story gains even more traction as audiences go back and watch the movie with its bonus feature-length commentary. The commentary is provided by Johnson and fellow well-known cinema figure, Seth Gaven, founder of the A.V. Squad and editor of the 1990 family friendly sci-fi flick, Spaced Invaders. The background that the duo provides is what adds to that depth. For instance, audiences learn through the commentary that unlike so many movies that are based on actual events, most of what is portrayed in this movie actually happened, including Robin putting her own fist in her mouth and getting it stuck. Yes, audiences will most definitely be left to learn more about that one on their own. On another level, Johnson reveals that the cost of one portion of the movie was roughly $100,000. In other words, the overall cost to make the movie was likely very low. This is important to note because even being a low budget movie, the overall presentation proves to be so engaging and entertaining. There are no special effects or any big budget items anywhere in the movie. As a matter of fact, Johnson and Gaven go into a discussion on that simplicity and tie that into a discussion on the overuse of special effects in the current era of movie making. As if all of this is not enough, Johnson, who appears in the movie as his father, also goes into a brief discussion about his relationship with his father, which again does play its own subtle but pivotal part in the bigger story. His discussion on this topic makes for even more appreciation for the overall story and is just one more of so many interesting anecdotes that Johnson and Gaven share throughout the movie’s commentary. When all of the noted discussions are considered along with the rest of the commentary included in the audio track, the whole makes the whole of the commentary truly a bonus in every sense of the word and even more reason to take in this movie.

The commentary that accompanies the movie is not the last of the items that make 5-25-77 worth watching. The work of the movie’s cast rounds out the most important of its elements. Backing up a little bit, the cast’s work is also discussed in the audio commentary. Johnson reveals in the commentary that the real life Bill and Robin both play small parts in the movie. Bill takes on the role of the theater manager while the real life Robin only gets a brief appearance at a nurse at the hospital. John Francis Daley (Spiderman: Homecoming, Bones, Vacation) takes on the role of Johnson, and does such an entertaining job in his performance. The goofy smile that he gives any time a girl even looks at him is so laugh-inspiring. His dedication to bringing his own movies to life and the awe that he exhibits as young Patrick is introduced to a young Steven Spielberg and just as young George Lucas (as he creates Star Wars) is certain to move audiences. That is because viewers can fully appreciate the stars that are in Patrick’s eyes and the impact that the experience had on him. It is a performance that is fully believable.

Just as impressive is Steve Coulter’s performance of Bill. Coulter (Coasting, Fate Twisted Simply, Please Wait To Be Seated) is a wonderful foil to Daley. He does so well trying to keep Patrick as grounded as possible throughout the story, even as Patrick just keeps letting everything get to him. For lack of better wording he is the straight man to Daley’s more energetic lead who is so deserving of his own praise because of just how he portrays Bill’s more level-headed and realistic approach to everything. His dedication to his friend even as Patrick changes so dramatically is admirable to say the least and it makes for its own share of applause.

One more noteworthy performance come from Collen Camp (Clue, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Sliver) who plays the part of Patrick’s mother. Those moments throughout the movie when she comes into Patrick’s room, calling his name out of frustration are so hilarious. Every viewer will relate to those moments, as everyone has had that happen on one end or the other. At the same time, that moment when she realizes that Patrick has given up his dream of becoming a movie maker just so that he could make Linda happy, the compassion that comes into her eyes is so moving even in its simplicity and subtlety. Her determination to help Patrick get to Hollywood, and the little song and dance moment that follows is such a wonderfully moving and lighthearted scene. It will inspire tears and laughter all at once, as will her reaction in the story’s finale when Patrick finally makes that final decision to take a big step. Again that moment will not be revealed here for the sake of those who have yet to see the movie. That aside, Camp’s performance is engaging and entertaining in its own right. She brings so much emotional depth to the movie in the moments when she is on screen in all of the best ways. When her performance is considered along with the other performances noted here and with the rest of the cast’s work, the whole makes clear, the overall importance of the cast’s work to the movie’s presentation. When the impact of the cast’s work is considered alongside the depth of the movie’s story and the depth that the audio commentary adds to the story, the whole makes 5-25-77 a movie based on actual events that is surprisingly worth watching.

5-25-77, the newest cinematic offering from independent movie studio Moonwatcher Films, is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation. That is due in part to the story at the center of the movie. The movie’s story is a coming of age story that while yes, it is based on actual events, proves to be anything but the overblown, overly embellished movies that are its counterparts from Hollywood’s major studio counterparts. The feature-length audio commentary that accompanies the movie in its new home release adds even more appreciation for the story. That is because it reveals at least in part just how much of the story actually did happen. It also presents a number of other intriguing anecdotes that will keep audiences engaged. The cast’s work throughout the movie makes for its own interest, too. That is because each cast member’s performance is that believable. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of 5-25-77‘s presentation. All things considered they make this movie one more of the year’s top new independent movies.

5-25-77 is available now on DVD and Blu-ray through MVD Entertainment Group. More information on this and other titles from The Film Detective is available at:




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Formidable Vegetable Announces New EP Release Date; Premieres Video For EP’s Lead Single

Courtesy: 8 Pound Gorilla Records/Sugar Mountain PR

Ecologically-minded family music entertainment act Formidable Vegetable will release its new EP Garbage Guts this spring.

The six-song record is scheduled for release April 16 through 8 Pound Gorilla Records. In anticipation of the record’s release, the band premiered the video for the EP’s lead single, ‘Get A Goat‘ last month.

The psychedelic, animated video features a variety of images, such as a goat eating grass in an open field, a robed mountain goat at a pair of turntables, and even none other than Yoda. Yes, Yoda. There is even a subtle homage to Warner Brothers’ 1984 fantasy flick, The Never Ending Story for added measure.

The musical arrangement featured in the song is a simple, catchy hip-hop style composition. The lyrical content that accompanies the musical arrangement is simple in its own right. It consists of people repeating the line, “Get a goat” and simply saying, “goat.” That overall simplicity makes the song accessible to any listener, especially children.

In related news, the group is scheduled to hold a special record release celebration April 16, at Fremantle, WA. Tickets are available here.

More information on Formidable Vegetable’s new EP, single, and video is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:



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Vis Mystica Takes On ‘Star Wars’ Story In New Single, Album

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent metal band Vis Mystica is giving audiences their first preview of its new album.

The duo — Devin Dewer and Connor McCray — debuted the lead single from its forthcoming album Celestial Wisdom on June 8 in the form of ‘Lux Et Veritas.’ the album is scheduled for release in 2021. The song is one part of a concept album crafted by the duo that follows the Darkhorse Comics “Dawn of the Jedi” Star Wars story line.

According to information provided, the song’s lyrical content focuses on the prisoner Daegen Lok, “who was exiled for prophesying the coming war between the Rakatans and the people of Tython.”

The musical arrangement featured in Vis Mystica’s new song is a power metal style composition that will appeal to fans of bands, such as Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, and Twilight Force. The opus features guest vocals from David Micheal Moote (Operus).

Dewer and McCray discussed the song’s creation in a prepared statement.

“We were much more confident with this release, due to the refinement of our sound and the astounding vocal talents of David Moote in the pre-chorus and chorus,” the statement said. “Definitely, a song that will be very popular live.”

‘Lux Et Veritas’ is available to stream and download through YouTube, Spotify, Bandcamp, and Amazon.

The full track listing for Celestial Wisdom is noted below.

Track Listing:
1. Whispering Winds of Fate (feat. Jonas Heidgert)
2. Legacy of the Builders (feat. David Michael Moote)
3. The Plains of Silence (feat. Jesse Isadore)
4. Lux Et Veritas (feat. David Michael Moote)
5. Beyond the Gates of Fury
6. On The Loose (Saga Cover) – (CD Bonus Track)

More information on Vis Mystical’s new single and album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:



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Visual Effects, Pacing Save Disney/Lucasfilm’s Finale To The ‘Star Wars’ Skywalker Saga

Courtesy: Lucasfilm/Disney

So this is how it ends.  Not with a bang, but with a whimper.  Such is the case of Lucasfilm and Disney’s finale to the Star Wars universe’s Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker.  Originally released in theaters Dec. 20 and to DVD/BD on March 31, this finale to the Skywalker saga is one of those presentations that is no better in its home release than its theatrical premiere.  It is not a total loss, though.  As has already been noted by various critics and audiences, the movie’s writing makes it near unwatchable, so it won’t be rehashed here.  What does deserve to be noted is the bonus content featured with the movie’s home release.  It does its own share of damage to the presentation as the movie’s script, and will be addressed a little later.  For all of the damage that the bonus content does, it doesn’t render the presentation completely unwatchable.  The movie’s visual effects make it worth at least one watch.  They will be discussed shortly.  For all of the problems that the movie poses with its bonus content and writing, one other positive that can be noted is the story’s pacing.  Together with the visual effects, the two elements collectively make Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a movie that despite being hardly the best entry in the franchise, still worth at least an occasional watch.

Disney and Lucasfilm’s final entry in the decades-spanning Star Wars Skywalker franchise is a difficult end to the saga.  It is not a complete loss, though.  Despite the problems posed by its plot hole-filled script, it does have at least a couple of positives, one of which is its visual effects.  The visual effects (special effects) incorporated into the Rise of Skywalker are to be applauded.  Given, a lot of CG content was used, just as much real sets were tied into that digital content.  One key instance in which the two elements were so well-balanced was in the final battle scene on Exegol.  A large physical set was actually constructed for that scene, and dozens of extras were used along with the main cast for that moment.  The precision in the look of that set, when placed along with its digital counterpart actually is surprisingly seamless.  The same applies with a situation, such as the Death Star battle scenes.  Again, there was a significant amount of digital presentation in this expansive scene, but it was also well balanced in its own right with the physical Death Star set that was created specifically for that crucial moment in the story.  Audiences will be just as pleasantly surprised by other physical sets created for the movie, such as Palpatine’s throne room, the miniatures of the sand people’s vehicle, D-O’s ship and the sand planet scene involving the massive “dance” number, complete with all of its various costumes.  The only downside to that scene is the speeder chase scene.  It looks like something right out of one of the Mad Max movies, just with a more “upped” sci-fi flare.  Of course all the CG content is not to be ignored.  Between the laser blasts, the massive fleet of star destroyers and the other minor details, they add their own touch to the movie’s presentation, too.  All things considered, audiences will be impressed by the dedication by those behind the lens to minimize the use of digital effects and make the movie look as real as possible throughout its nearly two-and-a-half-hour run time.  That balance of real and digital elements is surprisingly positive and does its share to make the presentation worth experiencing at least once.  Of course for all of the good that the visual effects do to make the movie worth watching, its bonus content counters that positive impact.

The bonus content featured with the home release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker detracts from the movie’s presentation because it is so targeted in its own presentation.  Given, the main feature, “The Skywalker Legacy” does give audiences a background in how the visual effects were created for this final chapter in the Shywalker saga.  The problem is that that’s all it does.  The feature’s title is “The Skywalker Legacy” but does next to nothing to actually discuss the legacy of Luke Skywalker and his sister Princess/General Leia Organa.  That name in itself brings about its own problems.  If she’s Luke’s sister (and Han Solo’s wife), why is her last name Organa?  That’s yet another writing matter that this critic will leave for others to discuss.  The fact that the feature, which runs well over an hour in time, is titled “The Skywalker Legacy” but focuses solely on the special/visual effects instead of the very story that led to this point is self-defeating.  Making matters worse is the fact that the featurette tries to justify itself (and the movie) by linking its own special effects to the special effects used in the original Star Wars trilogy.  It is a blithe approach for this presentation all the way around.  By comparison, MVD Entertainment Group’s surprisingly entertaining documentary Elstree 1976 does far more to honor the legacy of the original Star Wars trilogy, including its special effects.  Had “The Skywalker Legacy” had a different title that was more in line with its content, the outcome might have been different, but that wasn’t the case.  Making matters worse is that all of the movie’s other bonus features focus solely on its special effects, too.  Ironically, there is one mention by stars Jon Boyega and Naomi Ackie that they were the first African-American stars to lead a cavalry in such an epic final scene near the movie’s end.  That actually could have been used as a starting point for a much deeper discussion on diversity in the cinematic realm, but Disney and Lucasfilm officials completely missed the mark on this matter.  It’s just one more way in which the movie’s bonus content proves itself a detriment to the home release of The Rise of Skywalker.  Sure, the bonus content will appeal to those who have a love of and interest in movie production, but those viewers make up the only audience that will deeply appreciate its presentation.  To that end, the bonus content does little to help the movie, proving once more that while sometimes bonus features can make a bad movie better, other times, said content does little to nothing for a movie.  Luckily, for all of the impact that the movie’s bonus content has (and doesn’t have) on the movie’s overall presentation, it still does offer at least a tiny bit of appeal, if any.

While the impact of the bonus content featured in the home release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is minimal at best, one other item, the movie’s pacing can be said to be a definite positive.  Considering that the movie’s run time is just shy of two-and-a-half-hours (which seems to be the norm nowadays with major blockbusters), it actually moves at a surprisingly quick pace.  From the opening scenes to Ray continuing her training to the buildup to the final battle to that big moment, the movie’s scrip wastes little time on unnecessary items.  That’s not to say that the script doesn’t find some slow moments.  That desert planet scene does drag on a bit more than maybe it should have.  Also, the wait for re-enforcements in that final battle takes its time.  There is also the moment in which the Ray and company have to travel to one of the star destroyers to save Chewbacca, which is of note.  This sequence slows things down a bit in its own right, as doe the scene in which the rebels have to find a certain character who can help dive into C3PO’s data memory to get the location of one of the devices that will lead to another key moment.  This whole segment not only slows things down, but it also brings about the discussion on another of the plot holes, the very fact that C3PO’s memory could be wiped, but then later conveniently recovered by his longtime bot buddy R2-D2.  Luckily for viewers, such moments are rare and don’t do too much damage to the pacing.  To that end, the pacing actually is just enough to keep viewers watching from beginning to end, even with all of the plot holes and other problems that pose issues for the movie.  Keeping those issues in mind along with everything else mentioned here, the noted elements collectively make Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a work that while hardly a winning finale for this franchise, is not a complete loss.

Disney and Lucasfilm’s finale to Star Wars’ Skywalker franchise is an intriguing closer for the franchise that started out with such a bang more than four decades ago.  It is a work that is clearly hindered greatly by its writing, but is also saved at least somewhat by its visual effects.  The bonus content that is featured with the movie’s home release will appeal to a very targeted audience.  The primary bonus feature, “The Skywalker Legacy” is a completely improperly titled presentation, considering its content, detracting from its appeal even more.  There is also a missed opportunity in the opening for a discussion on the role of race in cinema, as has already been noted here.  The story’s pacing works with its visual effects to make up at least a little bit for the problems created by the story’s script and bonus content.  All things considered, this finale to the Star Wars Skywalker saga is a disappointing finish to the current leg of the franchise, but is not a complete loss.  It is worth at least one watch.  More information on the movie and all things Lucasfilm is available at:










More information on the home release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available at:










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The Story Changes Debuts ‘Golden Age’ Video

Courtesy: Earshot Media/Magnaphone Records

Emo-punk outfit The Story Changes debuted the video for its latest single last week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Golden Age‘ March 25. The video pays tribute to George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy while also presenting the song, which is featured on the band’s 2018 album To Hell With This Delicate Equation.

Front man Marc McMillon talked about the video in a recent interview.

“We grew up enamored with a galaxy far, far away, and had a great time working with our friend Chris from Punchline to put together this animated parody video,” he said.  “Hopefully this can provide some laughs right now when I’m sure everyone could use a little distraction while staying at home.”

The Story Changes features members of Hawthorne Heights and The stereo in its lineup.

More information on The Story Changes’ new video, its latest album and more is available online at:




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Disney Announces Home Release Dates For ‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’

Courtesy: Lucasfilm/Disney

The final chapter in Star Wars‘ “Skywalker Saga” ended last year, and now has a home release date.

Star WarsThe Rise of Skywalker is scheduled for release March 17 on digital and March 31 on Blu-ray and 4KUHD.  Earning more than $1 billion worldwide during its theatrical run, the finale of the “Skywalker Saga”  brings to a climax, the battle between the Resistance and the New Order.  Kylo Ren and Rey also face off one more time to bring the battle between the light and dark side to its supposed end.

The forthcoming home release of Star WarsThe Phantom Menace will feature a variety of extras, such as a profile of legendary composer John Williams’ work on the movie’s soundtrack (which is exclusive to the movie’s digital-only release), a making-of featurette, the creation of the Pasaana desert scenes and a profile of the creatures in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The full list of the movie’s bonus content is noted below.

Bonus features include*:
  • The Skywalker Legacy – The story lives forever in this feature-length documentary that charts the making of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase – Dive into the making of the movie’s epic landspeeder chase and discover how this spectacular sequence was brought to the screen.
  • Aliens in the Desert – See what it took to create the Pasaana desert scenes, from the sheer scale and complexity of the shoot to its colorful details.
  • D-O: Key to the Past – Explore the ship that connects Rey to the mystery of her missing parents and get to know the galaxy’s newest, irresistible droid.
  • Warwick & Son – Warwick Davis, who played Wicket in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, dons the Ewok costume once more; this time joined by his son Harrison.
  • Cast of Creatures – The team behind the film’s memorable creatures reveal the puppetry, makeup, prosthetics and digital magic that bring them to life!
Digital Exclusive:
  • The Maestro’s Finale – Composer John Williams reflects on his body of work for the Star Wars saga and shares insights on scoring Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
* Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer.

More information on the home release of Star WarsThe Rise of Skywalker is available online at:






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Galactic Empire Debuts ‘The Rise of Shredi’ Video

Galactic Empire is celebrating the alleged final chapter in the Star Wars Skywalker saga.

The band debuted the video for its Star Wars music compilation ‘The Rise of Shredi‘ Thursday.  The mashup features music taken from both of the theatrical group’s albums  Galactic Empire and its follow-up Episode II.

Courtesy: Rise Records

The completely tongue-in-cheek video for ‘The Rise of Shredi’ opens with one of the band members dressed as everyone’s favorite hated Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks walking up to the center screen, playing his guitar, before being utterly destroyed by Emperor Palpatine and a slew of other characters from the franchise.  At one point, a pair of stormtroopers tries to calm Palpatine down before he decides to run back and continue his wrath against Binks.

From there, audiences are presented with various shots of the band in full costume performing numbers, such as ‘Kylo Ren Arrives at The Battle,’ ‘The Emperor’s Theme and ‘Rey’s Theme.’  It is during ‘Rey’s Theme’ that audiences get one of the video’s biggest laughs, as a muscle-bound Kylo Ren, clad in only his helmet, tights and gloves, challenges Rey to a “shred-off” before the pair goes toe to toe in front of Palpatine.  The victor will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  There is even a spoof of NBC’s karaoke contest The Voice incorporated into that scene.

The whole thing ends with a look back at the result of the attack on Binks, with Palpatine attempting (and failing) to play guitar next to Darth Vader as Binks lays lifeless on the ground.

More information on Galactic Empire’s new video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:



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Shout! Factory Adding Rom-Com Classic To Its Shout! Select Series

Courtesy: Castle Rock Entertainment/Shout! Factory

Castle Rock Entertainment’s classic 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally is getting the Blu-ray re-issue treatment.

Shout! Factory will re-issue the modern classic as part of its ongoing Shout! Select series on Jan. 8. in a special 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition release with 4K scan and bonus material. Those bonuses include a new interview with Director Rob Reiner (MiseryStand By Me) and lead star Billy Crystal (Monsters Inc., Monsters UniversityCity Slickers) as well as two separate feature-length audio commentaries, deleted scenes, “making of” documentary and more.

The full listing of the movie’s bonus material is noted below.

Special Features:
  • NEW transfer restored from a 4K scan of the original camera negative
  • NEW Scenes from a Friendship – interview with Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal
  • Audio Commentary with Rob Reiner, Nora Ephron, And Billy Crystal
  • Audio Commentary with Rob Reiner
  • How Harry Met Sally Documentary
  • Vintage Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Music Video by Harry Connick Jr.

When Harry Met Sally centers on the love story between Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan — Sleepless in SeattleYou’ve Got MailCity of Angels) as the pair’s paths cross time and again following their graduation from The University of Chicago. Eventually, the pair reunites and is forced to come to terms with their situation and determine if a man and woman can just be friends, or if there is more to their friendship than they are admitting to themselves and one another.

When Harry Met Sally also co-stars the late, great Carrie Fisher (Star WarsA New HopeStar WarsThe Empire Strikes BackStar WarsReturn of the Jedi) and Bruno Kirby (City ClickersGood Morning, VietnamSleepers). Pre-orders are open now.

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory are available online now at:






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‘Rogue One’ Shows Star Wars Fans Should Be Concerned About Franchise’s Direction Under Disney

Courtesy: Disney/Lucasfilm

Disney and Lucasfilm’s latest dive into the Star Wars universe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not the worst of the franchise’s efforts to be released to date.  At the same time, it is hardly the franchise’s best effort, too.  That is because the movie, which had been so highly anticipated by audiences and critics alike, has proven to have more problems than positives.  The problems in question begin with story at the center of the movie.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the movie’s story poses some problems that cannot be ignored, the movie is not a total loss.  The movie’s stylistic approach is deserving of at least some applause.  Next to the movie’s soundtrack, led by legendary composer John Williams, it is the movie’s only other saving grace.  Keeping this in mind, one more key critical point must be addressed here in the form of the movie’s pacing.  This will be discussed later.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s overall presentation.  All things considered, they make Rogue One: A Star Wars Story reason for any true Star Wars devotee to be concerned about Disney’s direction with this franchise.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was touted by many as the franchise’s best entry to date.  Sadly though, a thorough investigation of the movie’s overall presentation reveals it in fact has just as many problems as positives.  The most obvious of the problems presented within this movie is its story.  More specifically speaking, the story’s setup is its real problem.  The story’s setup focuses on a young female with a checkered past leading a group of rebels to find the plans to the Death Star.  Along the way, an Imperial pilot turned…well…rogue (enhancing the movie’s title even more) helps Jyn and company in their efforts.  If that sounds familiar at all to anyone, it should.  A very similar plot was used for Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ story.  Given the female lead’s circumstances are different in the two stories as are the overall stories.  That does serve to save this movie’s story albeit only slightly.  However, there is no getting around the blatant similarities in the movies’ setups.  Taking that into consideration one can’t help but see there is clearly a lack of effort in regards to the story’s setup; a lack of effort that so many audiences apparently refuse to see.

The setup that is used in Rogue One’s story is an item that cannot be ignored in examining this movie’s overall presentation.  That is especially the case since the movies’ writing teams were separate from one another.  While the story’s setup is clearly a problematic issue, the movie is not a total loss.  The movie’s stylistic approach is deserving of its own share of applause.  That is because it exhibits an obvious (and applause worthy) attempt to throw back to the stylistic approach of the franchise’s original trilogy. From the costumes to the scene transitions, it is clear that those behind the lens wanted to pay tribute to the original trilogy and those who grew up with those movies.  That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that makes the movie’s stylistic approach so impressive.  The final climactic battle scenes throw back to the franchise’s originally movies in their own right, too.  That is exhibited as the X-Wings fly around the imperial attach vehicles and take them out and as the rebels on the ground fight imperial troops on foot.  Of course some of the scene’s bigger, over-the-top moments throw back to similar scenes from so many WWII-era flicks.  This takes away from the moment’s seriousness to a certain point.  That, however, is a minor issue at most.  Overall, the stylistic approach taken to this Star Wars story must be applauded. It shows an effort to bring back the look and feel of the franchise’s original installments while also pointing toward the franchise’s future.  Hopefully that balance (which was visibly missing from The Force Awakens) will be more visible in the franchise’s next effort.

The stylistic approach of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the movie’s one saving grace.  It shows a valid attempt to pay homage to the Star Wars franchise’s past and fans while also pointing to the franchise’s future.  It does so in a balanced fashion, too.  Sadly though, it is the only element that makes sitting through this 2-hour, 5-minute movie worth the effort.  Speaking of the movie’s run time, that run time feels far longer than it actually is.  That is due to the pacing established in the movie’s story.  As noted, the movie runs just over two hours.  The majority of that time—about 1 hour, 20-minutes—is spent building up to the eventual attack on the imperial facility containing the death star plans.  On the positive side, it doesn’t waste too much of that time setting up Jyn’s story.  It just spends most of that time sending her here, there and everywhere as she tries to find out her father’s message and then convince the rebels to go after the plans.  Things move just as slowly as ever in the story’s final act after Jyn convinces Cassian and company to join the cause.  Jyn and Cassian’s attempt to reach the plans, and the outcome thereof, seems to drag on almost endlessly especially as the battle outside the facility rages.  Even after Jyn and Cassian finally get the plans (the climax), things don’t pick up much, leaving observant audiences scratching their heads, wondering when and if the story will finally end.  It was as if the movie’s writing team couldn’t just leave well-enough alone.  That continued slow boil right up to the movie’s way-over-the-top and overly cheesy final scene makes one wonder how one kept from fast forwarding through the movie well before then. When these pacing issues are taken into consideration with the obviously problematic setup to the movie’s story, they take greatly detract from the movie’s overall presentation.  They take away so much from this movie that the movie’s stylistic approach becomes the only reason to give it a chance.  All things considered, there is so much negative to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that true Star Wars devotees should be very concerned about the direction that Disney is potentially forcing Lucasfilm to take with their favorite franchise.

True Star Wars devotees should be genuinely concerned about the direction that their favorite franchise could potentially be taking after watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  Though its stylistic approach throws back to the franchise’s original trilogy, its pacing and the undeniably unoriginal setup to the movie’s story do plenty to take away from the movie’s overall viewing experience.  The story’s pacing makes its run time, which barely tops two hours feel far longer.  The story’s setup is a near mirror image to the setup used in The Force Awakens.  Keeping all of this in mind, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story proves to be a story worth one watch, but honestly not much more.  More information on this and other entries in the Star Wars universe is available online now at:










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Musical Cosplay Collective’s Debut Record Is A Successful Effort

Courtesy: Rise Records

Courtesy: Rise Records

Star Wars is one of the biggest film franchises in Hollywood’s modern history.  Ever since the franchise’s first movie debuted way back in 1977, it has proven to be anything but a niche property.  It has generated no fewer than eight movies, multiple TV series, video games and more.  Next month, another tribute to the Star Wars will be released in the form of the self-titled debut record from cosplay cover band Galactic Empire.  The 11-song collection will impress Star Wars fans and fans of Powerglove, Trans Siberian Orchestra and other acts of that ilk.  That is due in no small part to the songs chosen for the record.  That will be discussed shortly.  The songs’ arrangements are just as important to note in examining this record as the songs themselves.  That will be discussed later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own important part in the record’s presentation.  All things considered, Galactic Empire proves in the end to be an enjoyable covers collection and a fun first effort from the band from a galaxy far, far away.

Galactic Empire’s self-titled debut album is not a collection of original compositions.  That aside, it is still an enjoyable experience that Star Wars fans will appreciate just as much as fans of Powerglove, Trans Siberian Orchestra, and others of that ilk.  That is due in part to the songs chosen for the record.  The 11 songs that make up the body of the record come from not just one of the franchise’s films but a number of them.  ‘Main Theme’ and ‘Imperial March’ come from the franchise’s original trilogy.  ‘The Force Theme’ has been incorporated into most of the franchise’s entries including The Force Awakens. The band even reaches back to the series’ “prequels” with ‘Duel of the Fates’ from Episode I: The Phantom Menace.  Fittingly, the whole thing ends with the famed “Throne Room” theme from the end of Return of the Jedi.  Between that and the rest of the songs featured here, it becomes clear why the songs collected for this record are so important to its presentation.  They show the band wanted to reach as many of the franchise’s fans as possible, not just one specific audience.  To that end, the band is to be commended.  It is just one reason the band (and album) should be commended, too.  The arrangements that are presented within the songs are just as important to note as the songs themselves.

The songs that make up the body of Galactic Empire’s debut album are in themselves key to its presentation.  That is because they show the band aimed at as many of the franchise’s fans as possible.  They are, collectively speaking, just one of the record’s key elements.  The songs’ arrangements are just as important to note in examining the record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  Listeners will note that while the arrangements are presented in a rock format, they stay largely true to the original compositions.  Listeners will especially appreciate the way the band handled the beloved ‘Force Theme.’  It maintains that solemn vibe presented in the original composition, even despite being handed on guitar.  On another note (no pun intended) one could argue the band’s take on ‘The Asteroid Field’ (from Star Wars Episode V) is even more exciting than the original symphonic composition with its guitar-driven sound.  That is not to say that the original composition is bad by any means.  In fact it is very enjoyable.  Keeping that in mind and considering the record’s other arrangements, it is clear in listening to each arrangement why the arrangements in whole are so important to this record’s presentation.  They are, again, just as important to note as the songs themselves, and are still not the only important pieces of the record’s whole.  The record’s sequencing is just as important to note as its songs and their arrangements.

The songs presented in this record and their arrangements are both clearly important alone and collectively to the record’s presentation.  As important as they are to the record’s presentation they are not its only key elements.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  It is clear in listening to the record from start to finish that a lot of thought was given to its sequencing.  It begins with a bang with the franchise’s original theme.  It ends with just as much of a bang with the song used at the end of the original trilogy’s final movie.  In between, the energy rises and falls at all of the right points, thus keeping listeners fully engaged throughout.  The record’s first three songs keep the energy high before things pull back a little in track 4, ‘The Force Theme.’  Things pick right back up with the record’s next two songs, ‘The Asteroid Field’ and ‘Battle of the Heroes’ before turning a little more light-hearted with the band’s cover of the famed song from the famed cantina scene in which Luke originally meets Han Solo.  The energy and emotion rises and falls just as much in the record’s final songs.  The end result is an experience that will keep listeners engaged and entertained just as much in that final group of songs just as much as any of the record’s other compositions.  All things considered, the ups and downs are expertly balanced from beginning to end, guaranteeing an experience that listeners will enjoy and appreciate.  Being that they will enjoy and appreciate that well-thought-out sequencing just as much as the record’s featured songs and their arrangements, listeners will agree that when all three elements are joined together, they make the record in whole a collection that Star Wars fans will appreciate just as much as fans of Trans Siberian Orchestra and Powerglove.  They join together to make the record a fun first effort from Galactic Empire.

Galactic Empire’s self-titled debut record is a work that Star Wars fans will appreciate just as much as fans of Powerglove, Trans Siberian Orchestra and others of their ilk.  As has been noted here, that is due in part to the songs that make up the body of the record.  They pull from the franchise’s original trilogy and its prequels.  Being that ‘The Force Theme’ is included in The Force Awakens, one could even argue to a point that even that movie is represented to a point.  That shows that this musical cosplay collective wanted to reach as many Star Wars fans as possible with this collection.  The songs’ arrangements stay largely true to the source material, even having been re-worked in a rock setting.  Truly devoted Star Wars fans will appreciate that aspect of the songs.  The sequencing rounds out the record’s most important elements.  It is clear in listening to this record that a lot of thought was put into its sequencing.  Each element is obviously important in its own right to the record’s presentation.  All things considered, Galactic Empire proves, once more, to be a fun first effort from its namesake; a record that will take listeners easily to that galaxy far, far away with every listen.  It will be available in stores and online on March 10 via Rise Records.  More information on Galactic Empire is available online with all of the band’s latest news and more at:









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