‘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  That is because it serves as a historical document of sorts showing everything that was done right and wrong with the series.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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Presenters, Attendees Announced For 2016 ESPYS Broadcast

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Next Wednesday night is the biggest night of the year for the sports world.  That is when ESPN hands out its annual sports awards, the ESPYS.  It was previously announced that WWE Superstar John Cena will serve as host of this year’s gala.  And now more information has finally been revealed about the big show.

Organizers with The ESPYS have finally made official the early list of presenters and attendees for this year’s ESPYS broadcast.  The presenters scheduled to appear at this year’s awards broadcast is (in alphabetical order): Chris Berman (ESPN Sportscaster), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors),Skylar Diggins (Dallas Wings), Lisa Leslie (retired WNBA player), David Oyelowo (Queen of Katwe), Usher Raymond IV (Hands of Stone) Lindsey Vonn (American World Skier), Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls), JJ Watt (Houston Texans) and Zendaya, among others.

The celebrities and athletes that are currently expected to appear at the ESPYS includes but is not limited to: Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Kobe Bryant (retired NBA player), Eric Hosmer (Kansas City Royals), Kerri Walsh Jennings (professional beach volleyball player), DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers), Sydney Leroux (FC Kansas City), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Peyton Manning(retired NFL player), Von Miller (Denver Broncos), Danica Patrick (NASCAR driver), JR Smith (Cleveland Cavaliers), Abby Wambach(retired professional soccer player).

Along with all of the regular awards and other happenings, there will also be a very special tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who just recently passed away.  NBA legend and NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Adbul-Jabar will be part of the tribute.  Crown and the M.O.B. will be the house band for the length of the broadcast.  There will also be a special performance by Andra Day.

The ESPYS will air next Wednesday night on ABC at 8pm ET.  It marks the second consecutive year that the annual awards gala has been held on ABC.  It will be televised live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  More information about this year’s ESPYS broadcast is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/espys/2016

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ESPYS

 

 

 

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John Cena Tapped To Host 2016 ESPY Awards

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The Champ. Is. HERE!  Or he will be.

WWE superstar and 15-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena has been announced as the host of the 2016 ESPY Awards.  The appointment marks the first time that Cena has ever served as emcee for the network’s annual awards program.  Cena was humble in discussing being named as this year’s emcee opting instead to discuss those who the program honors and its philanthropic roots.  “It is truly an honor to be named host of The 2016 ESPYS,” he said.  “Not only will the biggest names in sports and entertainment come together to recognize some of the most spectacular athletic performances of the year, but we’ll also raise funds for The V Foundation to further much-needed cancer research.”  ESPYS Executive Producer Maura Mandt noted Cena’s celebrity and the positive impact that he has in and out of the ring in discussing his appointment.  “John is not only a superstar athlete and entertainer, but also a motivational force who inspires fans across the globe,” she said.  “John approaches all of his endeavors with energy, enthusiasm and passion so we expect him to bring a new level of excitement to the night’s celebration.”

Along with being one of the top names in WWE today, Cena is also host and executive producer of FOX’s new reality competition series American Grit.  That is just one of his credits outside the ring.  He has also made appearances in the hit comedies Trainwreck and Sisters.  Along with all of that, Cena also works extensively with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  He is the foundation’s most requested wish granter and has more than lived up to expectations, having granted some 500 wishes.  He was recently recognized by the USO Metro as the recipient of the organization’s 2016 Legacy of Achievement Award.  As if all of this isn’t enough, Cena is also deeply involved in Susan G. Komen and its efforts to research and fight breast cancer.

The 2016 ESPN ESPY Awards will air live on ABC Wednesday, July 13th at 8pm ET from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.  It raises more than $1 million annual for The V Foundation, which was originally established by ESPN and Jim Valvano in order to promote cancer research.  Tickets for the ESPY Awards can be purchased online at AXS.com.  More information on The ESPY Awards is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/espys

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ESPYS

 

 

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Dark Sky Bringing The Sheik To DVD Next Month

Courtesy:  Dark Sky Films

Courtesy: Dark Sky Films

Professional wrestling is one of the biggest “spectator sports” in America today if not the world. This is even with people knowing that it is scripted. And even though it is scripted the people behind the characters in the ring are very much real. Any number of documentaries have been done on the men and women who take to the ring throughout the years. However many of said presentations have been more about the characters than those behind them. Next month Dark Sky Films will bring to audiences one of the few presentations about a figure behind the character when it releases the documentary presentation The Sheik.

Dark Sky Films will release The Sheik on Tuesday, March 1st. It will be available exclusively on DVD in stores and online. It focuses on the life and career of Khosrow Ali Vaziri, known for decades in the squared circle as The Iron Sheik. Vaziri, as audiences will learn in the documentary, was born n Iran in 1942. Before coming to the United States in the early 1970’s Vaziri had quite the career in his homeland. He was a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran, an amateur wrestler, and even an Olympian competing in the 1968 summer olympics. But it would be the death of close friend and fellow oympian Gholamreza Takhti, who himself had earned olympic gold, that would change Vaziri’s life forever. After Takhti’s controversial death, Vaziri left his homeland for the U.S. and begin his career as a professional wrestler. He took on the persona of The Iron Sheik in the then WWF and would go on to become one of the company’s most famed villains. His character helped launch the worldwide sensation that came to be known as Hulkamania. Outside of the ring though, things were not all bright and shining. Vaziri battled alcoholism after the murder of one of his daughters. But now in his 70s, Vaziri has garnered new fame as an over-the-top social media figure thanks to his familiar funny outbursts and wild antics.

Originally having premiered in Canada on April 26th, 2014 the hour and thirty-five minute-long documentary tells Vaziri’s story through interviews with his family and friends including his fellow wrestling superstars and pro wrestling historians. The Sheik will be available on DVD in stores and online on Tuesday, March 1st. Pricing information will be announced soon. More information on this and other titles from Dark Sky Films is available online now at:

Website: http://www.darkskyfilms.com

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

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.

Times Of Pride And Peril Is Another Welcome Return For Holy Grail

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Holy Grail. Has. Returned. Three years after it became one of the metal community’s biggest names with its sophomore album Ride The Void, the Los Angeles-based quintet has returned with an album in Times of Pride and Peril that builds even more on the fame and respect earned through its previous recording. The ten-track album does so by taking the old school, metal sound established on Ride The Void and expanded on it, including a more modern hard rock sound to its body. The combination of those two sounds here makes Times of Pride and Peril not just a solid follow-up to Holy Grail’s breakout sophomore album but also an album that is undeniably one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums. Times of Pride and Peril is currently slated to be released in stores and online on Friday, February 12th.

Holy Grail’s latest full-length studio recording is a solid follow-up to its 2013 breakout sophomore album Ride The Void. It is an album that audiences will agree in hearing its ten total tracks that it is unquestionably one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Crystal King.’ This song shows the band–James-Paul Luna (vocals), Eli Santana (lead guitar), Alex Lee (lead guitar), Tyler Meahl (drums), and Blake Mount (bass)–picking right back up where it left off with Ride The Void. The band opens the song with a short, building crescendo before launching full force into the song with Santana, Lee, Meahl, and Mount leading the way. The old school speed metal sound established by the band in this song once again harkens back to the heyday of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and others of that ilk with its dual guitar attack and equally expert time keeping by Meahl. When Luna joins in, his razor-sharp vocal delivery instantly conjures thoughts of legendary Judas Priest front man Rob Halford and Fozzy front man Chris Jericho. In other words Luna’s vocals make him one of metal’s next big true singers if not one of its current biggest. The song’s lyrical content sits against that powerhouse musical content to make clear why ‘Crystal King’ was the perfect choice to open Holy Grail’s new album and why it is also a prime example of just what audiences have to look forward to in this new record. Luna sings here, “It’s just another day out on the battlefield/Proclaiming victory/We conquer all/We’re on the top now/It’s time to strike/We must defend the crown/At any given price/Our dominion never ends/It keeps rolling on and on/And together we’ll ascend/To heights of grandeur/Majesty abound/The taste of glory/Is holier than thou/A heart of valor/Frees a mind of doubt/But if you always win the fight/Do you know wrong from right?” This plays right into the overlaying topic of the band’s new album. The topic in question is that of the rise and fall of an empire. That is not necessarily referencing one empire but different ones. That is especially clear as Luna sings, “The taste of glory/Is holier than thou/A heart of valor/Frees a mind of doubt/But if you always win the fight/Do you know wrong from right?” This comes across as Luna commenting on nations that patrol the world and play world police. Those nations that control everything around the world militarily tend to think that they are in the right. This happens even when there might be some shades of grey in the ethics or moral ground of their actions. This can be argued even more strongly as Luna sings in the song’s second verse, “We got it/We made it/We’ll overthrow/Once we’ve accepted/All the ones that died/We’ll repay the mercy when the enemy’s been crucified.” It is a very telling verse. It comes across as a commentary about brutality begetting brutality–accepting the death of others for the “greater good” and the violence aimed at others in the process. It furthers that discussion on the blind, perhaps clouded mindset of those that have been made to believe their actions are for the good of a whole people. It is a really thought-provoking concept and in turn quite the way to open the band’s new album. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via YouTube as the band has just premiered its lyric video online. It can be viewed online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVn4ENCIy1w.

‘Crystal King’ is a powerful first statement from Holy Grail in its return to the top of the mountain. It is not the only powerful, noteworthy statement from the band either. ‘No More Heroes,’ which is another of the album’s singles, is another powerful, hard-hitting addition to Times of Pride and Peril (TOPAP as it will henceforth be known here). Luna noted of this song in a recent interview that it “is about the evils of tyranny and self-will, where only strength in numbers can persevere.” To be more precise he noted that the concept behind that song is that it is a commentary about the events going on around the world today as a result of tyranny. “Conspiracy or not, heavy s*** is going down in the world, he said, “and we can’t survive battling it alone.” That discussion is illustrated through the song’s lyrical content in which Luna sings, “We’ve reached the point where domination is the law/We’re on the brink of global darkness/No life is worthy/But a pawn in our noble cause/Stomp out the feeble/And the worthless.” While these words sound familiar, it should. It was the view of the brainwashed men who fought for the Nazis in WWII and even now today of those that take innocent lives in the name of terrorism. Again, it illustrates exactly what Luna was saying in his discussion. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “A savage feast upon the weak at any cost/No sign of mercy for the masses/How about the dignity you had so long ago/Is blood upon your hands as gracious?” The message about the familiar, distressing state of the world in this song is in itself an important part of the song’s whole. That content, set against the song’s power metal musical content, makes the song in whole yet another impressive addition to the album and equally impressive example of what audiences have to look forward to in Holy Grail’s new album. Audiences can hear this song for themselves online now at http://noisey.vice.com/blog/holy-grail-heroes-premiere.

Both ‘Crystal King’ and ‘No More Heroes’ are both key examples of just how much Holy Grail has to offer audiences in its third full-length studio recording. That is thanks to the mix of the songs’ musical and lyrical content. Both songs continue to exhibit the NWOBHM influence on the band in terms of their musical content. In regards to their lyrical content, both equally powerful yet differing statements about what has and continues to happen to the world militarily and politically. While this all works collectively to make both songs important parts of the album’s whole, both songs are hardly the only examples of what audiences have to look forward to in this record. ‘Those Who Will Remain’ is yet another important example of what makes Holy Grail’s new album a welcome return from the band. What makes this song stand out among the album’s songs is that it boasts more of a modern rock sound than most of its counterparts. If one were listening to this song without knowing it was Holy Grail, one would almost think that one was listening to Fozzy. The similarities are that close between the two bands here. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. It shows that the band has branched out musically in this record. And it isn’t the only song that exhibits that either. That is a story for another time, however. Staying on this song, its musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out so strongly. Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical content. Luna seems to sing about self-determination here as he sings, “how do you choose between life and suicide/I’ll try this anyway/And I couldn’t cope…Ready to fight/I will accept my fate/I’ve suffered enough/It’s time to change/Dark in the night/In our eternal flame/The freedom is yours/All the same/To those who will remain.” He goe on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Take it or leave it/The enemy’s nearing/Hungry to feed on the weak and the weary/Marching in stride is the secret to survive/Rise to the top with a fist full of fury…Carry the torch/Just to keep yourself alive.” Everything taken int consideration here, the song in whole could be interpreted as Luna singing about not giving up in life, no matter the difficulties that one faces, be they physical or emotional. Saying that he would rather “walk the maze than die alone” and that “I’ve suffered enough/It’s time to change” support that argument. Of course that is just this critic’s own interpretation. It could, as always, be completely incorrect. So it should not be taken as the only interpretation of the song’s lyrical content. Right or wrong, it plays against the song’s equally powerful musical content and in turn makes the song in whole one more clear example of just what makes TOPAP such a welcome return for Holy Grail and also for the metal and hard rock community in whole. Together with ‘Crystal King,’ ‘No More Heroes’ and the rest of the songs not directly noted here, the whole of TOPAP shows in the end to be a record that is not just a welcome return for the band and its audiences but also a record that is easily one more of this year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Holy Grail’s latest full-length album is a welcome return both for the band and for its audiences. That is exhibited from the album’s opener ‘Crystal King’ right to its final number ‘Black Lotus.’ From beginning to end the mix of old school heavy metal and modern hard rock couples with lyrics that will get any listener thinking to make a record that will easily become a favorite of any true metal head. It will be available Friday, February 12th in stores and online. It can be pre-ordered online now via iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s official Bandcamp page. It is also available in a series of limited edition vinyl options. Those options include: Black, Limited-Edition Orange, and Limited-Edition Marble variants. Each vinyl copy of Times of Pride and Peril comes in a gatefold package that includes a color poster/lyric insert and download card. The band will hit the road next month in support of TOPAP beginning February 11th in San Antonio, TX. The forty-date-plus tour also includes a performance at The Milestone in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, February 23rd. The band’s current tour schedule is listed in whole below.

 

2/11 San Antonio, TX – Fitzgerald’s ^
2/12 Houston, TX – Scout Bar ^
2/13 Dallas, TX – Trees ^
2/14 Little Rock, AR – Juanita’s ^
2/16 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade ^
2/17 Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits ^
2/18 Orlando, FL – Backbooth ^
2/19 St. Petersburg, FL – The State Theatre ^
2/20 Ocala, FL – O’Malley’s Alley
2/22 Greenville, SC – Gottrocks
2/23 Charlotte, NC – Milestone #
2/24 Virginia Beach, VA – Shakas #
2/25 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie #
2/26 Boston, MA – Once Ballroom #
2/27 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus #
2/29 Burlington, VT – Nectars #
3/1 Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle #
3/2 Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques #
3/3 Toronto, ON – Hard Luck #
3/4 Detroit, MI – Berserker Fest #
3/5 Chicago, IL – Reggies #
3/6 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon #
3/7 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock #
3/8 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium #
3/9 Winnipeg, MB – The Windsor Hotel #
3/11 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina #
3/12 Edmonton, AB – Brixx #
3/13 Calgary, AB – Palomino #
3/14 Kamloops, BC – The Office #
3/16 Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore #
3/17 Seattle, WA – El Corazon #
3/18 Spokane, WA – The Pin #
3/19 Portland, OR – Panic Room #
3/20 Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre Pub #
3/22 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst #
3/23 San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside #
3/24 Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room #
3/25 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick #
3/26 Phoenix, AZ – Pub Rock #
3/28 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Bar #
3/29 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater #
3/30 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room #
4/1 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter #
4/2 Newport, KY – Southgate House #

^ with Marty Friedman
# with Black Tusk

More information on Holy Grail’s upcoming album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.holygrailofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/holygrailband

 

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.

MLB Productions’ Giants World Series Film Is A Giant Hit For Team’s Fans

Courtesy:  MLB Productions/Lionsgate

Courtesy: MLB Productions/Lionsgate

The countdown is on.  Spring training is winding down and opening day is now only days away.  In anticipation of Major League Baseball’s 2015 season, MLB Productions has just the thing to get fans–San Francisco Giants at least–into the mood for the upcoming season.  While it was released late last year, MLB Productions’ San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is just the thing to get at least Giants fans excited for the 2015 season.  The main reason that it will get fans excited is the story presented across the film’s near ninety-minute run time.  The story follows the Giants from the ups and downs of the team’s 2014 regular season ride to its incredible seven-game series against the underdog Kansas City Royals.  It spends most of its time focusing on the Giants’ 2014 World Series.  Though there is just enough focus on the regular season to enhance the importance of the team’s World Series appearance this year.  The editing that went into the film should also be noted in terms of what makes it so enjoyable for fans.  The editing includes the mix of the interviews and game footage throughout the film.  The work of the film’s editors helps keep the film’s pacing solid and in turn keeps audiences engaged from start to finish.  This is especially the case when taking into account actor Colin Hanks’ (King Kong, Dexter, Orange County) narration of the film.  Hanks’ almost deadpan deliery somehow makes the on-field action all the more gripping.  Perhaps it is because despite being a Giants’ loyalist, no favoritism is displayed in his delivery.  That coupled with the work of the film’s editors shows why the editing should be noted in its success just as much as the story itself.  Last but not least of all to note in examining what makes this film so enjoyable at least for Giants fans is the inclusion of the film’s bonus material.  The bonus features include the Giants’ full victory parade after the team’s surprising World Series win, a short feature on Giants star Michael Morse, and some of the most important moments of the 2014 World Series among a handful of others.  Whether for the noted bonus features or those not noted, the bonus material in full proves to be yet another reason that fans both of the Giants and baseball fans in general will enjoy this film.  All three elements together prove San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film to be yet another win for MLB Productions and a must have for any Giants fans as the days count down to the 2015 season’s opening day.

The story that was the Giants’ 2014 season is one of the league’s more interesting stories, even coming into the 2015 season.  As audiences will see in San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film, the Giant’s road to the World Series was anything but perfect.  The same can be said of the team’s seven-game series against the upstart Royals.  That story of the team’s up and down season and post-season is the central reason for the enjoyment of this recently released Blu-ray.  While it does highlight the ups and downs of the team’s regular season run, most of the story’s time is spent on the Giants’ post-season efforts.  Audiences will appreciate the efforts of those responsible for bringing the story to life as said individuals didn’t just sweep over the team’s regular season highlights or even focus too much on them.  The same can be said of the Giant’s post-season run up to the World Series, too.  Everything is relatively well-balanced, heightening the emotional impact of the team’s wins and losses alike.  The first-person commentary from the likes of Hunter Pence, Madison Bumgarner, Travis Ishikawa and others adds even more to that emotional depth.  And anyone that is familiar with WWE superstar Daniel Bryan will enjoy the story of how his “Yes” gimmick became a season-long rallying cry for the Giants and their fans.  These are just some examples of why the story behind San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film makes it a must have for at least any Giants fan and any baseball enthusiast in general.  There is much more that could be noted here.  But there is not enough space or time for that.  Audiences will find plenty more of the film’s story to appreciate when they purchase this film for themselves.  In the same vein, the film’s editing is just as important to its success.  If not for the editing, the story presented on the disc might not have otherwise been worth the watch.

MLB Productions has maintained a high standard of storytelling and of editing in its presentations for years.  From its “Essential Games” collections to its stand-alone presentations the stories presented by MLB Productions have been gripping and fully engaging.  The story presented in San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is no different.  The same can be said of said films’ editing.  The editing involved in this film is no exception to that rule, either.  Between the game footage, the sound bites from the Giants players and staff, and their personal insights each element compliments the other from beginning to end.  Just as with the story telling itself, the editing that works with the storytelling plays its own part in keeping audiences entertained and engaged.  From the natbursts of the team chanting “yes” along with its fans at AT&T Park to the slow motion shots of Bumgarner throwing his pitches to the scene transitions and more, the editing throughout the film will leave audiences in awe.  It is one more standard that has for years kept MLB Productions’ presentations among the best in sports films.  Together with that aforementioned solid storytelling, it shows even more clearly why San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is a welcome addition to any Giants’ fan’s home library.

The editing and storytelling that went into San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film collectively show plenty of reason for baseball fans (and especially Giants fans) to add this film to their home libraries.  While both elements show plenty of reason for fans to purchase this film, there is still one more element included in its presentation that pushes it over the top.  That final element is the film’s collective bonus material. Included with the film as bonus material is the Giants’ full victory parade, specific highlights from the team’s season and post season, and even a fun little look into one of the team’s long-running traditions to “welcome” new pitchers to the team among plenty of other extras. The tradition in question will have audiences laughing, especially when manager Bruce Bochy’s son opens his lunchbox. Yes, the tradition in question involves lunch boxes. And it is absolutely hilarious. That much will be said and no more for the benefit of those that have yet to see this tradition for themselves. It is original, needless to say. The victory parade shows the pure joy of the players, having overcome so much adversity including injuries that hurt the team’s post-season chances, low expectations early on in the season by the talking heads, and more. It is a truly powerful and moving moment even for those that might not be Giants loyalists. It’s just one of so many great moments that will leave viewers agreeing that the bonus material included with this disc is indeed deserving of the title “Bonus.” It is one more moment that shows why the presentation’s bonus material is just as important to the film as the editing or even the storytelling. And in seeing this, audiences will agree why together with the film’s editing and storytelling, all three elements make San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film a welcome addition to the home library of any Giants fan and any baseball enthusiast in general.

There is a lot to say to the positive in regards to San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film. The story presented within the film will keep viewers engaged from start to finish. The film’s equally impressive editing plays its own part in making the story so enthralling, too. The bonus features included with the film add even more depth and enjoyment to the story of the team’s 2014 season. Whether for the in-depth look at the team’s season, the more lighthearted moments or the more emotional moments, the bonus features live up to their title. And together with the story itself and the film’s editing, the presentation in whole again proves itself well worth the watch by any Giants fan and baseball fan in general. And it is just as worth the addition to any fan’s home library. San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is available online now and can be ordered direct via MLB Productions’ online store at http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=51967716&cp=1452365.2184768. More information on this and other titles from MLB Productions is available online at:

Website: http://mlbproductions.com

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

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.

One Way Mirror’s New Album Will Capture Any Rock Fan’s Attention

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Late last year this critic introduced audiences to a four-man band from Lyon, France called The Amsterdam Red Light District. The band’s new album Gone For A While proved to be an album that will keep the band around for quite a while. Now with the old year gone and a new year started, this critic has another band from France to introduce to the world. The band’s name is One-Way Mirror. The five-piece will release its second American release and fourth overall album next week in the form of Capture. The band’s latest LP is a solid record for anyone that might be new to the music of One-Way Mirror. That is thanks in large part to the approach taken by the band on this record. The twelve-track, fifty-one minute record utilizes a melodic hard rock sound that makes it a good fit for any mainstream American rock radio station considering the current climate of mainstream rock. One way that it proves this is through the electro-rock sound of ‘Warnings.’ The song starts with a keyboard line that conjures thoughts of Nine Inch Nails circa 2007. From there it builds into a full-on opus that is sure to have any listener singing along. The string arrangements and keyboards that are incorporated into the album’s closer ‘We Love To Complain’ make it stand out just as much in its own way. And the band’s rocked out take on ‘Lady Marmalade’ will entertain audiences just as much. One of the elements of this cover that makes it so intriguing is the similarity in sound to the likes of Saliva and Fozzy. Front man Guillaume Bideau even sounds like Fozzy front man Chris Jericho at points while the song’s overall musical side hints clearly at influence from both Fozzy and Saliva if not other bands. It’s just one more of the album’s dozen total tracks that makes the record in whole well worth the listen and worth the play by radio programmers across the country.

One-Way Mirror’s latest full-length studio release Capture is a rather aptly titled record. That is because thanks to the mix of musical stylings from one song to the next, the record is certain to (bad pun fully intended here) capture the attention of any rock devotee. There is a hint of rap-rock at random points throughout the record. There is also a throwback to the days of big hair and even bigger riffs at another. And as is evident in ‘Warnings,’ there is even a semi-industrial element thrown in for good measure. Speaking of ‘Warnings’ it is one of the strongest of the album’s songs. The song starts off with a keyboard line that sounds like it was lifted right from Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 album Year Zero. The vocal harmonies that are laid over the keyboard line are similar stylistically speaking to so many other acts being played on any mainstream radio station across America. Lyrically, if the song is to be properly interpreted, it comes across as being something of an introspective opus with Bideau singing, “Why in the hell did we turn into this/It’s not always easy to be yourself/Not easy to be yourself/Could we change/Could we change ourselves/Let’s close our eyes/When we’re frightened by ourselves/We’re frightened by ourselves/So many warnings…so many feelings I’ve hidden inside…” He goes on to ask “how much are ?” It almost comes across as a song questioning a person’s feelings toward himself or herself. That could be entirely wrong, of course. It is merely the interpretation of this critic. It would be interesting to find out the true meaning behind the song’s lyrics. That aside, the song’s musical side makes for enough reason to listen to the song. That it could create such discussion on its lyrics only serves to make it all the stronger of an anchor for Capture. It isn’t the only song that makes Capture worth the listen, either. The band’s rocked up take of ‘Lady Marmalade’ adds even more reason to listen to this record.

‘Warnings’ is one of the most notable moments offered by One-Way Mirror on its upcoming album Capture. The song’s seemingly Nine Inch Nails-influenced sound and deep, thoughtful lyrics together make the song a solid anchor for the album. It isn’t the album’s only solid moment, either. The album’s closer ‘We Love To Complain’ is another of the album’s high points. It starts off gently just as with ‘Warnings’ before launching into a sound similar to that of so many radio friendly bands from the 90s and from music’s current era. The string arrangements that are used to introduce the song expertly set the mood for the song thanks to the notes’ staccato approach and minor key. It is so easy to see this song becoming a favorite among fans both on record and in a live setting. Lyrically, the song comes across as a piece that takes on those people who never seem to be happy about life no matter the situation. The argument can be made as Bideau sings, “Cause we have all that we want/Cause we have all that we need/But it’s never enough and we’re wasting it all/We can be anything we want…but we can never get enough.” As the song progresses, it displays increasingly a Euro-metal sound akin to Lacuna Coil and others of its ilk complete with huge keyboard and string arrangements that soar alongside the band’s own lines. As with ‘Warnings’ the coupling of that musical and lyrical depth makes it just as solid and strong an anchor for the album.

Both ‘Warnings’ and ‘We Love To Complain’ prove to be solid points for Capture. While both songs prove important additions to the album’s body, they are hardly the album’s only songs that listeners will like. The band’s take on ‘Lady Maramlade’ is just as certain to entertain listeners. One wouldn’t think that amping up a classic pop song such as ‘Lady Marmalade’ and would work. But somehow One-Way Mirror made it work. And it did so quite impressively, too. Musically speaking, the song mixes elements of hard rock with classic arena rock from the days of big hair and even bigger riffs to make a song that will, again, capture any listener’s attention. At times Bideau himself sounds like Fozzy front man and superstar wrestler Chris Jericho. If audiences were listening to this song and didn’t know it was Fozzy, that factor alone would make them think that they were listening to Fozzy. At other times, there is a southern sludge-rock feel about the song. Once again, it sounds like an odd combination to have a song such as ‘Lady Marmalade’ handled in such fashion considering that this song is commonly sung by female artists. But it works here nonetheless. As a matter of fact it works so surprisingly well that it would be no surprise if this song also becomes a live favorite. If for no other reason than this cover, audiences will want to check out this album when it is released next week. Who knows, maybe after hearing this song, audiences will give a chance to the others noted here and to those not noted including the full throttle ‘F*** Your Autotune,’ the radio ready riffs in ‘Cliffs,’ and the aggro-rock sound of the album’s opener ‘Stinkin’ of Gold.’ Whether it be for any of those songs or the remaining six works not noted, audiences will find plenty of reason to take in One-Way Mirror’s new album and let it *ahem* capture them.
Capture is currently scheduled to be released next Tuesday, January 27th via Pavement Entertainment. The band currently has no tour dates scheduled. When the band announces its latest tour dates, audiences can find them and all of the latest updates from the band online at:

Website: http://www.one-waymirror.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Way-Mirror/26220377436

Twitter: http://twitter.com/owmirror

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/onewaymirrorband

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.