Punk Rock Factory’s New Covers Set Is The New “Master” Of This Year’s Field Of New Covers Compilations

Art Courtesy: @whoisrebeccaj

This year has seen so many covers collections released.  From rock to pop to jazz, it seems every genre has seen any number of covers records, to the point that it has made the whole field somewhat trite.  Yes, there are some covers sets that standout, but for the most part, the field has really become one big mass once again.  Enter Punk Rock Factory’s forthcoming record, Masters of the Uniwurst.  The 22-song record is the most standout of this year’s new covers records.  That is due in large part to its featured songs.  They will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performances of the featured songs also plays into the record’s presentation and will be addressed a little later.  Staying on that note, the songs’ sequencing plays its own important part to the collection’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this 34-minute record.  All things considered, they make the record the best of this year’s new covers records so far.

Punk Rock Factory’s forthcoming record, Masters of the Uniwurst is unquestionably the best of this year’s covers sets so far.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs.  The songs in question are punk rock takes of classic kids’ TV shows from the 80s and 90s.  Given, it is hardly the first time that any act has taken on such songs, but it’s also an approach that is not overly taken for covers records.  Powerglove is well-known for doing such.  There are also compilations of theme songs from kids’ shows covered out there, but again, they are compilations.  Keeping that in mind, that the band would take this avenue is worthy of applause in itself.

Adding to the reason for applause is the mix of theme songs that the band opted to take on in this collection.  The band did not just take the easy route and cover theme songs that others have taken on.  Yes, the band took on the theme songs from the likes of The Flintstones and Pokemon and even Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, but it also took on theme songs from other shows, such as Goof Troop, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and even M.A.S.K., as well as Animaniacs, Denver The Last Dinosaur, and Round The Twist.  Simply put, the band chose a relatively solid mix of familiar shows and theme songs, and some equally well-known shows whose theme songs have been less covered.  That balance continues to show the importance of the record’s featured songs.  It shows that the band put a lot of thought into the record’s body.  It shows the band members wanted to make sure if from only this element, audiences became engaged and entertained.  Keeping all of this in mind, the record’s songs are just a portion of what makes this record stand out.  The band’s performances add their own layer of enjoyment to the record.

The band’s performance of each song is important to the record’s presentation because of the updated touch it gives to each classic theme song.  Case in point is the band’s take on the theme song from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.  The band stays true to the source material here, yet somehow, with its punk influence here, the song actually proves even better than the original.  Whether that is because of the guitars, the vocals, the drums, or everything together, the fact of the matter is that this song, which even boasts some classic metal influence, really gives the song a welcome update.  Longtime devotees of the series (and the TMNT franchise) will easily find this a welcome take on the song.  On yet another note, the band’s take on the Arthur theme song (yes, the band even takes on the theme song from Arthur, which was originally updated by a well-known member of the Marley family)shows the importance of the band’s performance in its own way.  Yes, it is another punk rock opus, but the band still stays true to the original, even including the slightest hint of reggae along with the collective chorus to make this such a unique and surprisingly enjoyable take on another classic theme song.  And then there is the band’s take of the Saved By The Bell theme song.  The original song had a little bit of a rockabilly vibe about it.  In the case of this performance, the band’s punk take amps up that take while, again, staying true to the source material.  It is another unique approach to a theme song that has rarely if ever been covered by other acts well-known and otherwise and considering the stylistic approach and the energy that results from the performance, shows even more why the band’s performances are so important to the record’s presentation.  Taking this into consideration along with the band’s performance of the other songs examined here and those in the rest of the record, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the band’s performances.  Even with its importance, it is still not the last of the record’s notable elements.  The record’s sequencing rounds out the most important of the collection’s elements.

The sequencing is so important to the record’s presentation in part because it ensures the theme songs and shows do not get redundant.  Put in more layman’s terms, the sequencing ensures that throughout the album’s run, the songs (and shows) do not just stick to one era or another.  Thundercats, an anime show takes audiences back to the 80s.  From there, the band moves forward to the 80s with the theme song from the still very popular Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series.  The band sticks to the 90s from there as it takes on the theme song from Arthur.  The show itself is completely different from the other two songs, and so is the theme song in terms of its original stylistic approach and sound.  The diversity in shows and theme song styles and sounds continues fluidly from there, from the easy, lighter Goof Troop theme song to the more energetic Animaniacs theme.  Again, this is in reference to the original songs.  The band’s take on them does well to honor those original takes, again.  From that point on to the record’s end, the changes continue throughout, doing their own part to keep the record engaging and entertaining. 

The ordering of the content at the surface is just part of the importance of the record’s sequencing.  The sequencing also ensures the record’s energy remains high even as the song styles change.  At no point does that energy pull back.  It stays high from beginning to end, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  Taking this into consideration along with the role of the sequencing in regards to the content’s general ordering, the two items pair to show wholly why the sequencing is just as important to this record as the content and the band’s performance thereof.  All things considered, they make this record the best of the year’s new covers compilations so far.

Punk Rock Factory’s forthcoming covers set, Masters of the Uniwurst, may not be its only covers collection (it took on a number of Disney songs in its most recent record), but it is still a welcome new collection of covers from the punk outfit.  That is due in large part to its featured songs.  The songs are a collection of songs, some of which are more often covered than others and some of which are lesser handled from shows that are themselves a balance of well- and lesser-known kids shows.  That balance of content is itself reason enough to audiences to take in this record.  The band’s performances of the record’s featured songs adds its own touch to the presentation.  That is because the performances in question amp up songs that were already catchy to begin with while staying true to the source material.  The record’s sequencing rounds out the most important of its elements.  That is because it ensures the collection’s aesthetics add their own important touch to the whole.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make Masters of the Uniwurst the master of this year’s field of new covers compilations.  Masters of the Uniwurst is scheduled for release Friday.

More information on Punk Rock Factory’s new compilation record is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.punkrockfactory.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/punkrockfactory

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/punkrockfactory

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‘TMNT,’ ‘Steven Universe’ Artists Partner For New Webcomic

Courtesy: Tapas Media

Independent comics company Studio Tapas is launching a new children’s webcomic that features work from two well-known artists.

Rest Area 51 is scheduled to launch Feb. 24. The new series brings together Caleb Goellner (contributor to IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonic The Hedgehog) and Coleman Engle (one of the lead artists for Kaboom! Studios’ Steven Unniverse comic line) for the new offering.

Goellner discussed taking part in the new series in a prepared statement.

“Tapas has an enormous, excited, and engaged global readership that the current physical market hasn’t reached and may not have thought about serving yet,” said Goellner.  “I’ve watched some of my solo comics blow up on the platform after years of traditional convention tabling, and overall Tapas is simply a potent place to be as a creator.”

Engle added his own thoughts to the discussion.

“Tapas offers an incredible opportunity for an immediate global audience!,”  he said.  “Working with Tapas has also helped me streamline my own production, taking traditional aspects and incorporating more digital steps in the creative process.”

Rest Area 51 centers around Grayce Green, a tween who moves to her late grandmother’s Area 51-themed rest stop. Green thinks at first that the experience will be dull. However, she learns that the rest stop is not for humans, but for beings from other worlds. Green is joined by her uber smart space engineer best friend Starla and the half-cactus turtle in an alien half-shell Torctus for all of the adventures. Making things even more interesting is that the group has to deal with government agent goon Agent Schwarz throughout its adventures.

Rest Area 51 will have 24 episodes, with the first three episodes debuting Feb. 24. The series will update twice weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays. The whole of Season One will run free through Studios Tapas’ website.

More information on Rest Area 51 is available along with all of Tapas Media’s latest news at:

Website: https://tapas.io

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tapas.io

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tapas_app

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘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:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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Shout! Factory To Release Classic TMNT Series Next Month

TMNT The Next Mutation Box Art

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

There’s a lot of talk right now about Nickelodeon Movies’ latest installment in its updated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.  The new trailer for the franchise’s latest installment Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.  While there’s plenty of hype over this latest Michael Bay-helmed project, it isn’t the only installment in the TMNT franchise about which audiences should be excited.  Shout! Factory has announced that it will release one of the franchise’s least known installments next month in the form of Ninja Turtles: The Next MutationThe Complete Series.

Shout! Factory will release Ninja Turtles: The Next MutationThe Complete Series on Tuesday, May 10th.  It will be available exclusively on DVD at Wal-Mart.  Its twenty-six total episodes will be spread across four discs.   It is the only incarnation of the hugely popular franchise to be presented in a live action format.  Leo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Splinter once again face off against the evil Shredder in this series.  But he isn’t the only opponent that they have to face.  This time out they have a new bad guy added to the mix in the form of Dragon Lord.  And helping out along the way is a new addition to the team, the female turtle named Venus De Milo!

Ninja Turtles: The Next MutationThe Complete Series will be available in Wal-Mart stores nationwide on Tuesday, May 10th.  It will be available exclusively on DVD and will retail for MSRP of $19.93.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

Webite: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory To Release Another Pound Of Pound Puppies Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios

Shout! Factory Kids and Hasbro Studios will release yet another new collection of episodes from the hit children’s series Pound Puppies next month.

Shout! Factory Kids and Hasbro Studios will release Pound Puppies: Pick of the Litter on Tuesday, July 14th. The single-disc collection will feature five more episodes from the family friendly series. This collection sees voice actor Grey DeLisle (Secret Agent Oso, Curious George, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy) make an appearance as a puppy named Buttercup in “Cuddle Up Buttercup.” Buttercup looks so much like the toy sensation Cuddle Up Buttercup in this episode. Because Buttercup looks so much like the toy dog, she is in high demand. So it’s up to the Pound Puppies to connect her with her perfect person before she is adopted by some random child. There is also a story that puts a twist on the classic story the Prince and the Pauper in “I’m Ready For My Close Pup” as famed TV dog Pooches is sick of the limelight and wants a break. So she trades places with Cupcake, who ends up letting fame go to her head. All the while the Pound Puppies are searching for Pooches’ perfect person, who turns out ironically to be her on-screen enemy Amy. Amy might be Pooches’ enemy in front of the camera. But off camera, she loves Pooches very much. Lauren Tom (Futurama, King of the Hill, Codename: Kids Next Door) guest stars in this episode. There’s even an international flare in this collection in “The Pups Who Loved Me” as Lucky and British Pound Puppy agent Bondo have to chase down the Super Secret Pup Club when the young pups play in Bondo’s flying car and accidentally set off the car’s controls. Rob Paulsen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain) guest stars in this episode alongside Jeff Bennett (James Bond, Jr., Curious George, Codename: Kids Next Door). These are just a few of the episodes presented in Pound Puppies: Pick of the Litter. There are two more episodes that audiences will enjoy together, too in the form of “Dog on a Wire” and “Pound Preemies.” Pound Puppies: Pick of the Litter will be available on DVD in stores and online on Tuesday, July 14th. It will retail for MSRP of $12.99 but can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store for a discounted price of $11.99 at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/pound-puppies-pick-of-the-litter. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Shout! Factory Kids is available online now at

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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

Courtesy:  Paramount Pictures

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Anchor Bay, Starz Announce Home Release Date For Black Sails Season 1

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz

Starz hit high seas series Black Sails will sail into stores this winter.

Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz will release the first season of its hit high seas adventure series Black Sails on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015.  The series’ first season will be released both on DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack.  Season One will be presented in a three-disc set both on DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack. The DVD box set will retail for MSRP of $49.98 and the BD/VUDU combo pack for MSRP of $59.99.  Along with the episodes that make up its first season, Black Sails: Season One will also include a handful of bonus features.  Among those bonus features are pieces on the cast’s attire, pirate folklore versus fact, and more.  the complete listing of the set’s bonus features is included below:

New Bonus Features:           

  • BLACK SAILS: A Look Inside
  • Dress To Kill
  • Pirate Camp
  • Folklore Is Finished: Pirate Politics
  • A Place In History
  • Building The Behemoth

 

Black Sails is executive produced by Michael Bay (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers 14, the Purge, The Island) and his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Purge).  The Emmy Award-winning series centers on the adventure of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens—Die Another Day, Space Cowboys, Robin Hood, Masterpiece Mystery! Inspector Lewis) and the newest addition to his crew, John Silver (Luke Arnold).  The pair fights to protect New Providence Island, the most infamous home of pirates and criminals in its day.  The series is also Executive produced by Jonathan Steinberg, creator of CBS’ cult hit series Jericho and Robert Levine (Touch).

Black Sails: Season 1 will be released just in time for audiences to catch up on the series before the premiere of its second season on January 24th, 2015 exclusively on Starz.  More information and all of the latest updates on Black Sails is available online at:

Website: http://www.starz.com/originals/blacksails

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blacksails.starz

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blksails_starz

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Anime Fans Will Enjoy Shout! Factory’s Second Monsuno Collection

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Anime, when it first came to American shores, was a cult favorite genre.  It was one of those genres of TV and film that was relegated to group viewings at comic book shops around the country.  That was thanks to the stigma attached to the genre and its fans.  That stigma is still there.  But it is far less today than it was when it first started gaining fame here in the U.S.  Now years later, it has gone from being a genre seemingly enjoyed by only certain types to being its own cultural phenomenon.  Famed anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazake’s films gained more popularity than ever.  And any number of anime series found new fame among American audiences.  Series such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Digimon became some of the biggest names in the genre, leading some American companies to try their own hand at making their own anime series.  One of the surprises from that batch of today’s American anime series is Monsuno.  The series has already produced two seasons.  And a third is supposedly on the way.  And thanks to Shout! Factory, the first half of the series’ first season is available along with the first half of its second season.  They are presented over the course of three DVDs that were released in 2013.  And as audiences will see in the second of those DVDs, Monsuno: Power, there are a number of reasons that this series has worked as long as it has.  The first of those reasons is that Shout! Factory has maintained the series’ chronology in its DVD presentations.  The second reason is that it stylistically mirrors its imported Asian counterparts almost identically.  This includes the writing and animation.  And last but not least of all, is the inclusion of a voice cast that is itself quite familiar with the world of anime.  Audiences will agree that in considering each of these factors, any anime fan will find Monsuno: Power worth at least one watch.

Monsuno is not the big name anime series that Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh have all proven to be in their runs.  However, it has managed to churn out two full seasons, and a third is allegedly on the way.  While audiences wait to see if that alleged third season develops, they have the second volume f episodes to tide them over.  Audiences, whether new to the series or not, will appreciate that just as in the series’ previous DVD, the episodes included on this disc are presented in chronological order.  Together with Monsuno: Destiny, the episodes featured here comprise the first ten episodes of Season One.  Interestingly enough Shout! Factory apparently has not released the final sixteen episodes from Season One.  Yet, the first half of Season Two has been released on DVD.  So at least audiences know that in having Monsuno: Power and Monsuno: Destiny, they have just over half of this series’ first season.  Regardless of whether those final sixteen episodes should see the light of day in the near future, at least audiences have that much to take in.

Audiences that are familiar with the more popular anime series out there and who enjoy said series will appreciate Monsuno: Power especially if it is their first introduction to the series not just because of the episodes included and their organization, but also for the fact that the episodes are collectively a near identical mirror image of Digimon, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and others of that ilk.  That is speaking stylistically (I.E. writing and overall look).  Just as with those series, the episodes included in Monsuno: Power present a series in which a group of young people has access to extraordinary creatures with equally extraordinary powers.  They are kept in their own little containers, which the young people holding them keep as they search for a specific goal.  That overall writing is much the same as in its bigger name counterparts.  And the overall look (animation) is just as much the same as other anime series.    That combination of writing and the show’s overall look keeps the series right on par with its bigger name counterparts.  That’s especially the case when it is put alongside the chronlogically coorect episode listing in this set.

The episodes included in Monsuno: Power are in proper chronological order in relation to the original broadcast of the episodes n television.  The look of the episodes in this collection is also a near identical match to the its bigger name counterparts.  Both of these aspects play their own part in the success of the DVD among fans of the anime genre.  There is one more aspect to this collection that audiences will appreciate, rounding out the whole presentation.  That last factor is the cast tapped to voice the series’ characters.  Few may know the names of the actors brought in for these episodes.  However, the series and movies in which they have starred are quite well known.  Cam Clarke, Karen Strassman, Christopher Corey Smith, Keith Silverstein, and Kirk Thornton voice the primary roles of Chase, Jinja, Bren, Dax, and Bayal respectively.  They also voice the roles of the show’s various villains and other good guys.  While most people might not know their names, audiences will recognize Cam Clarke as the voice of Leonardo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series from Fred Wolf Films.  He is also the voice of one of Clifford’s fellow dogs in the short lived PBS kids’ series Clifford.  Few may also realize that Clarke has previous experience in the anime realm.  He voiced the character of Kaneda in the anime import Akira.  Karen Strassman has her own previous experience in the world of anime, too.  She played a rather significant role in the American version of the anime series Bleach.  She voiced Soifon, Momo Hinamori, Cyan Sung-Sun and others throughout the series’ run from 2005 – 2012.  Before coming on board Monsuno, Christopher Corey Smith voiced Rojuro Otoribashi, Wonderweiss Margela, and Makoto Kibune during Bleach’s run on American television from 2007 – 2010.  He was joined on that series by fellow voice actor Keith Silverstein, who voiced Coyote Starrk, Tesra Lindocruz, and Mabashi.  Last but not least is Kirk Thornton.  Thornton’s anime resume is perhaps the most extensive of the Monsuno voice actors.  Thornton provided his talents to Bleach alongside Keith Silversten and Christopher Corey Smith.  He also worked on Digimon: Digital Monsters, Ninja Scroll, and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro among a number of other anime series and features.  It would have been easy for Monsuno’s show runners to get a bunch of no-name actors with not experience in anime.  Instead they brought in a group of actors whose collective talents are quite extensive to say the least.  That would perhaps explain the characters’ believability.  That believability alongside Monsuno’s overall style and its properly ordered episodes collectively make Monsuno: Power a good first introduction to this anime series for those not so familiar with the series.  It is just as welcome for those that are familiar with the series and that are fans of the series, too.

Monsuno: Power is not the first and obviously not the last of the collections to be released from Shout! Factory.  Regardless of how long fans of the series have to wait for its next release, fans will agree that thanks to the factors noted here, they have plenty to appreciate in this collection.  Monsuno: Power is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/216947.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Denver The Last Dinosaur Is Extinct No More

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Denver The Last Dinosaur is extinct no more!

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Cinedigm and VCI Entertainment will release Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series on Tuesday, September 16th. The series ran a total of fifty-two episodes from 1988 to 1990. It follows the adventures of Denver—a Corythosaurus—and his human friends who discovered him after he unexpectedly hatches from a fossilized egg. The series received a recommendation from the National Education Association for its engaging and nonviolent story lines. The series features the talents of some of today’s most well-known voice talents including: Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama, Hey Arnold!), Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Curious George, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), Kath Soucie (Dexter’s Lab, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures), June Foray (The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Garfield & Friends), Brian Cummings (Duck Tales, Garfield & Friends, Adventures of the Gummi Bears) and three of the voice talents from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, and Rob Paulsen among so many others.

The upcoming box set will contain not only the series’ complete fifty-two episode run but also a handful of bonus materials, too. Those bonus materials include interviews with the series’ Creative Director Jeremy Corray, image galleries, and even a glimpse at other classic cartoons including the likes of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. The six-disc set will retail for SRP of $59.99. More information on this and other releases from Cinedigm is available online at http://www.facebook.com/Cinedigm, http://twitter.com/cinedigm and

http://www.cinedigm.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Cowabunga Classics Is A Must See For Any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fan

Courtesy:  Fred Wolf Films/Lionsgate

Courtesy: Fred Wolf Films/Lionsgate

Excitement is building around the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Those heroes in a half-shell will return to the big screen for the first time since 1993’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III this summer.  It will be under the watch of Transformers director Michael Bay. In anticipation of the upcoming big screen live action reboot, Lionsgate and Fred Wolf Films have announced the upcoming release of a new compilation of episodes from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics. The single-disc compilation will be released Tuesday, July 29th. This latest compilation is a must for any hardcore fan of the series that started it all for those heroes in a half shell. It is a must have first and foremost because of the episodes collected for the set. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this set is its bonus material. Last but not least that audiences will appreciate is the compilation’s relatively affordable price. All three factors together make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics a compilation that more than deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new releases in the Family & Children category.

The episodes culled for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics collectively make up the primary reason that audiences will appreciate this latest release from Lionsgate and Fred Wolf Films. While not every season of the show’s ten total seasons is represented in this set, audiences that are familiar with the show will appreciate that the series’ first seven seasons are represented. And even on this presentation, each of the episodes included looks just as bright as they did in their original broadcasts. It all starts with Season 5’s “Planet of the Turtleoids” in which the guys are taken to a planet of nothing but turtles to help save some of its inhabitants. One of the best parts of the episode in whole is the turtleoid’s ship. It is shaped like a very familiar building. And then in “Night of the Rogues,” audiences are treated to a scenario very similar to that of both Marvel and DC. Leo, Raph, Donnie, and Mikey have to face Shredder’s “Rogue’s Gallery” of villains in his attempt to defeat them once and for all (yet again). Tempestra, The Rat King, Leatherhead, Scumbug, Antrax, Chrome Dome, and Slash are assembled in the series’ own version of Marvel’s Sinister Six or DC’s Legion of Doom. It all winds down with Season 1’s “Shreddered and Splintered.” This episode sees Splinter going after a retromutagen gun that could turn him back into a human. There’s just one problem—Krang and his new body.   It’s up to the guys to take him down and defeat both Krang and Shredder. These are just a few of the episodes that were collected for Cowabunga Classics. There are seven other episodes that span the series’ first seven seasons from which audiences will be able to choose their favorite(s) when they buy this DVD for themselves on July 29th.

The episodes that were collected for this latest compilation are the centerpiece in the DVD’s success and overall enjoyment. Audiences should also take into account with this DVD the bonus material chosen for the presentation. The bonus material collected for this DVD includes interviews with the men that original voiced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in “The Turtles: A Ninjatastic Look Back.” It also includes discussions with three of the artists that worked on TMNT over the course of its run. And it closes out with a special bonus presentation that focuses on the fans. That presentation in question was produced in 2009 for the series’ 25th Anniversary. It wasn’t included on the 3-movie DVD set, either. This critic could be wrong, but it might not have been included in the Blu-ray set, either. So that makes it even more of a welcome addition to this compilation. Much like Saban’sPower Rangers franchise is a worldwide phenomenon, so does this feature prove just how popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are to audiences even today. One of the most interesting sentiments echoed through this feature AND through the interviews with the original voices is of the show’s impact on people of all ages. It obviously is important for more than just being a show. The show’s cultural importance shines through each feature. Audiences will be moved as the original voices of the turtles discuss how moved fans were and are to this day by the series. There are stories of how it helped someone whose parents had gotten divorced at the time and of how it uplifted a young child and said child’s parents as the child sat in the hospital among so much more. It all goes to show the importance of this series to not just television history but to America as a people. That understanding makes the enjoyment of this DVD even more. And along with the episodes, it makes the DVD even more a must see for any true TMNT fans.

The bonus material included on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics is collectively an important addition to this DVD. It is just as important as the episodes chosen for inclusion on the DVD. Considering the breadth of material presented in this compilation, its $14.99 SRP is a rather reasonable price. Just because that is the suggested retail price (SRP) doesn’t even mean that it will be that expensive when it hits store shelves later this month. Odds are though, that it won’t be any more expensive than that SRP. Because it could actually retail for less depending on the store, that relatively inexpensive starting point is the finishing touch to this compilation. Together with the bonus features and the episodes chosen to be featured, all three of these factors make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowbunga Classics a must see and even a must have for any true-blooded fan of what is one of the greatest children’s series of the late 20th Century.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics will be available Tuesday, July 29th. It can be ordered direct from Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=Cowabunga%20Classics. More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate and http://www.lionsgate.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.