Monday, March 30, 2009

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Seasons 2-4 (DVD)











We all know that there’s no dog cooler than Scooby-Doo. But what was he like as a pup? And what about the Gang? Well, all these questions can be answered on the show A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Warner Home Video released Season One on DVD not too long ago. This month, Seasons 2–4 are finally out all on one set. So what can you expect on this DVD set? Well there are 17 episodes from the entire 3 seasons on 2-discs that are lots of fun to watch. See Scooby as a puppy and kid versions of Fred, Daphne, Shaggy, and Velma as they try and solve mysteries involving characters such as Chickenstein, Zombo, and the Doo Family Were-Doo. You can’t beat having 3 Seasons all on one set, especially when the previous DVD release of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo only had one. Overall, this is one release that has more than enough episodes to please any fan of Scooby and the Gang.

Check it out!

The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season (DVD)











In case you’re wondering, this Zeta has nothing to do with Catherine ZETA Jones. No, this Zeta is a robot that can morph into any human figure he wants. Try and do that, Terminator! But Zeta goes beyond just being able to morph. Originally created to destroy, he actually evolves to develop human emotions and a conscience. When the government thinks he’s been reprogrammed by a foreign power, Zeta becomes a fugitive. On the run, he meets a girl named Ro who is also wanted by the law. Together they go on an adventurous run to find Ro’s parents and Zeta’s creator. This show is a spin-off from the animated series Batman Beyond. I was never into Batman Beyond, so I’m not that familiar with the connection between the two shows. But recently acquiring The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season has made me a fan of this show. The multi-disc DVD set of Season One is complete with twelve episodes and a running time of about 260 minutes. Perfect for current and soon-to-be fans, this DVD set is a great collection of a show that’s packed with an awesome story and lots of action.

Check it out!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Joker (Hardcover)











The Joker gets his own book!

The most famous out of all of Batman's villains finally gets to be the star of his own book. Joker, written by Brian Azzarello is a dark story about Joker’s release from Arkham Asylum, and his vengeance upon those who double-crossed him. Azzarello has crafted a very intriguing, psychological, and violent story about the maniac that is the Joker. He takes you through the crime underworld of Gotham as Joker confronts The Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, and Killer Croc. Nothing is funny for these thugs as they are about to feel his wrath for stealing from him while he was in Arkham. For fans of the Batman series, and especially the film The Dark Knight, this is one hell of a graphic novel. It’s definitely one of DC Comics’ better releases of 2008.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Primal Fear: Hard Evidence Edition (DVD)











Ed Norton has become one of Hollywood's top actors thanks to the way he can pull off some really complex characters. If it wasn't for his breakthrough role in Primal Fear, he might not have gotten as big as he is today. His performance of Aaron Stampler, the 19-year-old accused of murdering a Catholic archbishop is one that really sticks with you long after the ending credits. Primal Fear is one of the smartest legal thrillers I’ve ever scene. It’s got a great cast and one of the most brilliant and shocking endings recorded on film. This month, Paramount Home Entertainment has released Primal Fear: Hard Evidence Edition on DVD. If you’ve already seen the film, a benefit of checking out this DVD is the special features. There’s a brand new interview with Ed Norton that sheds light on how he got the role of Aaron. It’s interesting to note from the commentary by the filmmakers that the role was originally was for Leo DiCaprio, but he wound up turning it down. Good thing he did! The DVD packaging for Primal Fear: Hard Evidence Edition comes in a Ziploc bag that makes it look like evidence straight from a crime scene. Overall, this re-release of Primal Fear is a great collectible for any fan of this classic thriller.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy-Go-Lucky (DVD)





Here's a review of Happy-Go-Lucky by my associate, Amica Paige...




For one to still manage to cheerily chant “Ding-dong, dilly-dilly, da-da, hu-hu” as a chiropractor rearranges your bones is positively ever so slightly happier than the rest of us sordid creatures going about our seemingly mundane lives. Or you’re just a silly grown-up. But for this 30-year-old elementary school teacher, her days are as easy as flapping her arms with a bunch of bird masks donning children, raucously squawking like birds, and pretending to fly. And this lady “trampolines”.

“Happy-Go-Lucky” is a curious and surprisingly engaging ride with a perpetually happy lady who consciously takes on her days with a bowl of cherries. Seriously, the lady wears little yellow bird earrings in some scenes. At first, you might doubt Poppy’s integrity and take her for a naïve nutcase who giggles incessantly through her jolly whims and over her own remarks. Unlike most of who she encounters, she finds her jokes and most things in life funny and doesn’t hesitate to show her gaiety in any situation.

The opening scene immediately paints Poppy’s character, superbly played by Sally Hawkins. You see her easygoing face ride her bike through town, browse through a book store, and attempt a repartee with a morose man behind the register whose facial expression clearly says that he can’t be bothered unless you’re purchasing something. After repeatedly failing to stir any type of response from him at all, she finally heads for the exit door chuckling and muttering still to the man what he clearly doesn’t care for, to be happy. Yet, she shows neither the slightest sign of humiliation nor irritation of the man’s blatant rudeness. Next, she finds her bicycle stolen. But the most reaction she musters, while open-jawed with surprise, is a slight grief over not having had a chance to say goodbye to her beloved two-cycle. As you follow her around, you almost want to shake, smack, or strangle her relentlessly blithe and bubbly persona for her light, almost feeble, approach on things, unless you have had a drink or two with her and her more normal, flat-mate, Zoe, coolly played by Alexis Zegerman.

Then, something bizarre happens. In an indeterminate turn of events and as if the earliest scenes have all been a pretense to mislead you entirely, Poppy suddenly grows on you. You’re baited, hooked, and reeled in, though oddly. The more time you spend with this chirpy chic, the more disconcertingly endearing she becomes as you get to know her. Actually, you can blame this uneasy change of heart on the bicycle thief, whoever he was. Better yet, blame it on the director’s cunning for laying the plot right were he did.

Now that Poppy’s without her bicycle, she decides to take driving lessons. This is where the conflict starts and where the story really begins. Without this particular incident, the film would be nothing more than just a bland sequence of the tedium of life even for the most optimistic person, which certainly wouldn’t appeal very much to us, voyeurs, though Poppy’s outfits and shoes are cool enough to feast on.

Scott, the relentlessly glum and grumpy driving instructor, is a walking, breathing epitome of anger and intolerance trapped in a middle-aged man’s body dressed in an 80’s garb and all repressed in continuously ticking time bomb of massive hatred that could blow any moment at the slightest provocation. And it does one sunny day, when Scott gets aroused by rage over Poppy’s new beau. Prior this finale, he takes the ever so jovial teacher through her driving sessions a few Saturdays, during which Poppy definitely gets more than just driving lessons, but also an earful or two of Scott’s long list of grievances and lifelong neuroses about people, the world, Poppy’s boots, and ultimately, her character as he deems it.

Though Poppy’s unswerving cheerfulness could be quite irksome and seem unbearably shallow and surreal to a more cynical, critical, expectant, and impatient audience, serious moments become more discernable, poignant, and revealing against the kind of inexhaustible optimism like Poppy’s. Apparently, the more she smiles her way through life, the bleaker the opposing characters around her seem to be. It’s the classic light and dark juxtaposition. And yet, you see her deeper aspects. Her depth, resilience, and sincere compassion for people lying just underneath her smiley skin only get clearer.

Simultaneously subtle and sublime, this is one of the best films I’ve seen thus far. It is witty, well paced, down-to-earth, authentic, and an enormously effective experiment on the highest forms of human emotions—love, compassion, anger, and hatred—that move us and affect the way we interact with each other, and on whether or not we learn from our experiences, good or bad. As Zoe simply put, “Well, you make your own luck in life, don’t you?” Surely, it’s the choices we make that make us who we are. But Mike Leigh isn’t preachy about life matters, although one of the main characters in the film most certainly is. Instead, Leigh shows us by presenting these personalities, their situations, and surrounding elements in a light and natural way, though the effect is ironically forceful, and leaves us to our own conclusions. He offers us twisted ironies. But then, we are left contemplating if our perspectives are the ones twisted. Don’t get fooled by Poppy’s and the others’ seemingly one-dimensional, stereotypical characters, because there’s more angles to them than what Leigh would have you perceive initially.

Though this film might not stop you from cursing and spitting at the most obnoxious person next to you, it might make you want to take a breather before you lash out like Scott under provocation. Eddie Marsan’s powerful portrayal of the immensely disturbed and demented man Scott, reminds us about the ugly wretchedness that anger and intolerance can turn a person into. The added bonus of watching this film is that it can make for a very inexpensive therapy, if you’re willing to face the threatening truth about life, which is frequently ridden with thorns. Poppy chooses to see and smell the roses, without ignoring her wounds. Eventually, she encounters love without desperately seeking it. And that is something beautiful and inspiring. If we could only all get to a mindset like Poppy’s and drift through life with her optimism and not “miss the boat completely...”

If you’re looking for a formulated Hollywood box-office movie full of bang served in a huge bubble of empty laughter, loud action, exaggerated drama, and excessive sex that pervades today’s movies and TV shows, this is definitely the wrong flick for your DVD collection. Otherwise, your movie collection just wouldn’t be right without this smart film. And for additional enlightenment by the director, Mike Leigh, and the main casts, Sally Hawkins (Poppy), Alexis Zegerman (Zoe), and Eddie Marsan (Scott), feast on Happy-Go-Lucky’s Bonus Features.

Hilarity highlights:
The Flamenco Teacher’s outburst: “Your boyfriend…betrays you with a 22 yr. old bitch. You want to kill him. You want to cut off his balls. He’s such a bastard. I hate him!”
Scott’s “En-ra-ha” chant
Scott’s first outburst: “Poppy! Let’s go! We’re on a bend! Now, let’s go!”
Scott’s 2nd outburst: “En-ra-ha!!!”

PINOCCHIO: 70TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (DVD)











Pinocchio is 70 years old. I know he doesn’t look like it, but he is. To celebrate, a 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD set was released by Disney. I remember seeing this film quite a bit as a kid and having a love/hate relationship with it. I liked it for the classic animation and soundtrack, but hated the way it made me feel like a bad kid. Whenever the part came where he turned into a donkey, I thought that’s what would happen to me if I wasn’t a “good boy”!!! It’s pretty funny looking back to that time. But seriously, this is one of the most legendary Disney films ever. For its anniversary, Disney gave it some royal treatment with this DVD set. The special 2-disc Blu-ray version also includes a standard DVD disc and some great special features. The one feature that stood out to me is Pinocchio’s Matter of Facts, where random facts about the film and other subjects will pop on the screen while you watch the movie. It could get annoying for some people the way it blocks part of the screen, but I didn't mind it at all. This new DVD also marks the first time the film’s been released in High Definition. The good news out of all this is that viewers now have the chance to see Pinocchio like never before. The bad news is that it’s only available for a limited time. So I recommend checking it out before they pull it from the shelves!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ESCAPE & RETURN TO WITCH MOUNTAIN (DVD)











Here’s where I show my ignorance.

I never knew the new film titled Race To Witch Mountain was based on an older set of Disney films. In the 70’s there were two “Witch Mountain” films. The first was Escape to Witch Mountain and then followed by the sequel Return From Witch Mountain. Disney has re-released these two magical films on a special DVD set. After seeing all the Harry Potter, Eragon, and every other “kid with special powers” type films, it’s hard for me to get impressed with much anymore. So I had to put myself in the mindset of how it must have been to watch these in the 1970’s. Minus the fact that they didn’t have the advantage of modern day special affects, these were definitely ahead of their time!

Tony and Tia are orphaned siblings with paranormal powers. In Escape to Witch Mountain, the siblings discover the origin of their powers while trying to get away from an evil millionaire who wants to use them for his own benefit. This is the first of the two films and it’s here where we see the twins exciting journey back to their home, Witch Mountain.

In Return From Witch Mountain, a much younger Christopher Lee (Count Dooku from Star Wars) and Bette Davis play a pair of criminal masterminds! This time, Tony and Tia are up against these criminals in this 1978 sequel to the original.

If you haven’t had the chance to see these, do check them out before watching the new one in theaters. Included on the DVD’s are lots of fun bonus features such as commentaries from the filmmakers and the original cast. Overall, these DVD’s are a great new addition to Disney’s large collection of home videos.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Season 1, Volume 1 (DVD)











With almost every classic cartoon being brought back for modern times, it was inevitable that Jonny Quest would eventually be done. The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest is a remake of the original series, and I recently had the pleasure of checking out Season 1, Volume 1 on DVD. The first thing I noticed about this show is that even though it’s a newer version, they still managed to keep that classic look in the animation. I appreciated that since sometimes trying to make a show look too modern can ruin it. Another thing about this show is that it’s not mind-numbing entertainment. The main character Jonny and the Indian boy Hadji both use their smarts throughout their adventures where they try and solve various mysteries. And these are no small adventures either. For example, in one episode they almost freeze to death underwater while investigating a mysterious ghost ship! The Season 1, Volume 1 DVD collection has the first 13 exciting episodes of this science-fiction/adventure animated series, and it is definitely worth checking out. While some attempts at remaking classic shows fail miserably, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest is one that actually works in bringing back to life a great cartoon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season (DVD)











All the raunchy comedy that filled each episode of South Park’s Season Twelve is out now on DVD. The set contains 3-discs that include all fourteen uncensored episodes of the show’s twelfth season. So what can be expected this time? Well for starters there are appearances by Britney Spears, Magic Johnson, Canadians that go on strike, President Barack Obama, and other stuff that will probably offend a lot of people that take the show too seriously. You can always count on South Park to unapologetically mock some of the silliest things in our society. And man, it hasn’t slowed down even in its twelfth season. The box art for the set has a pretty cool looking design with the boys riding through space. But even if the box art sucked, it's the content on the discs that make a DVD good or not. And well, this set is filled with all the shocking and hilarious material you'd expect from South Park.

The Smurfs, Vol. 1: True Blue Friends











The little blue guys are back! In the latest Smurfs DVD to be released, The Smurfs, Vol. 1: True Blue Friends brings us over 90 minutes worth of some Smurftastic episodes. With Volumes 1 and 2 of Season 1 already out, this marks the third DVD release. Unlike the other two, True Blue Friends isn’t connected to any particular season. There are 5 episodes on the disc and some funny special features that include character profiles for Papa Smurf, Grouchy, and Tracker. Being a childhood fan of the show, I enjoyed watching this latest DVD a lot. I wish there were more included on the disc, but these 5 classic episodes were just enough to hold me over until Warner Home Video releases another Smurfs DVD.

Check it out!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wonder Woman the Animated Movie (DVD)











As soon as I hit play on my DVD player for the Wonder Woman Movie, I felt like I was drawn into a female version of 300! It was great! Swords were clashing, heads got cut off, and enemies and beasts were being destroyed. This is not the Lynda Carter version of Wonder Woman that I was used to as a kid! No, this animated film (which gained a PG-13 rating) shows a much fiercer warrior. This awesome film is filled with some cool Greek mythology references and TONS of action. It takes you to the beginning of Wonder Woman’s legendary story from the island of Themyscira then to the United States for an ultimate battle with Ares, the God Of War. When I was a kid, Wonder Woman could never come close to the other DC Comics superheroes. It must be a guy thing. But after seeing this modern take on the “World’s Greatest Super Heroine” my opinion of her quickly changed! For an animated film, this one (just like all the other DC Comics animated films) is exciting to watch. With a PG-13 rating, it’s obviously not a kiddie film. There is a lot of blood spilled and some really intense fighting scenes throughout. To sum it up, it’s an awesome superhero/action movie! Warner Bros. has set the standards high with their line of DC Comics movies. And Wonder Woman is the latest in this exciting collection of films.

Check it out!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beverly Hills Chihuahua (DVD)











I have a confession. I love dogs, but hate Chihuahuas. They look like oversized rats. And even after watching Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua (or should I say chee-WOW-wa), I still don’t like them. But I have another confession. I really enjoyed this movie. What a surprise! I remember seeing the previews for this and thinking it was going to be a mediocre family film. Well, it actually wound up being an entertaining comedy! Disney got together just the right cast to provide the voices for the pooches. Drew Barrymore, Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, and (my favorite) George Lopez all fit their “doggie” roles well. The film did a good job at poking fun at the spoiled brat lifestyle that exists among the "elite". I liked the whole “riches to rags, then back to riches” theme where the main dog Chloe learned some important lessons. Overall, this was a fun film that both kids and adults can enjoy, even if you don’t like Chihuahuas. And on the DVD, be sure to check out the special animated short called Legend of the Chihuahua!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Underworld/Underworld: Evolution Double Feature DVD











Being the huge Underworld fan that I am, there’s no way that I could pass up the Underworld/Underworld: Evolution Double Feature DVD set. So what’s so special about this “Double Feature”? Well, there’s the sneak peek of Rise of the Lycans, an Unrated Extended Edition of Underworld and the Special Edition of Underworld: Evolution all in one set. Sure, they already released the individual discs of the films. But for a fan like me, this is one set I had to add to my collection. The Underworld series is one that will go down as one of the most original vampire/werewolf legends ever on film. And this DVD set is one that fans of the series can really “sink their teeth into”.

Vampire Hunter D Vol. 2











I think if it came down to a fight between Blade and “D” from the Vampire Hunter D series, "D" would come out the winner. He makes it seem so easy in the way he can take down his enemies. In Vol. 2 of Digital Manga Publishing’s Vampire Hunter D books, we get to follow "D" on another adventure as he is faced with a different kind of enemy. This time, he’s called in to investigate a breed of vampire that can hunt during the daytime. With this new threat, the challenge is now greater than before with these daytime killers. After reading Vol. 1, I wasn’t sure if the following books in the series could keep up. Well, as much as Vol. 2 is different from the first one, it doesn’t disappoint at all. I thought the story was intriguing, especially as the story unfolded at the end. The illustration in this book is phenomenal too. I was very impressed with the way that this book really made me feel like I was watching a film. Yes, the art here is that good. However, there were some action scenes where the drawings were so chaotic that I couldn’t figure out what was going on. But those moments where rare and didn’t take away from the story at all. Overall, Vol. 2 is an awesome story that continues the great line of Vampire Hunter D stories. Now I can’t wait to get into Vol. 3.

Monday, March 09, 2009

SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob vs. The Big One (DVD)











SpongeBob and Johnny Depp???

Yep, that’s right! In the latest SpongeBob DVD titled SpongeBob vs. The Big One, Johnny Depp makes a guest appearance as the voice of “Jack Kahuna Laguna”. This new DVD contains 7 episodes of the animated series that's one of the funniest in TV history. I can’t get enough of the humor in SpongeBob, and this DVD is an awesome new addition to the ongoing SpongeBob collection. If you love the yellow dude that “lives in a pineapple under the sea”, be sure to check this one out!

Episodes included on the DVD:

- SpongeBob SquarePants vs. The Big One
- A Life in a Day
- Sun Bleached
- Giant Squidward
- No Nose Knows
- Patty Caper
- Plankton’s Regular

Indiana Jones Soundtracks












When it comes to movie soundtracks, the music from the Indiana Jones films will never die. These soundtracks created by musical genius John Williams will always have an important place in cinematic history. As legendary as the Indy films are, I can’t imagine them having the same impact they did on moviegoers if not for these songs. Last year Concord Records released the box set Indiana Jones: The Soundtracks Collection. This year they decided to release the individual soundtracks from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. These digitally remastered soundtracks were previously available only as part of last year’s box set. I wasn’t able to check out the box set, but these will do just fine. They really are an awesome collection to own for any fan of the movies. For me, the Indy films will always go down as some of the best ever made. And like I said, I don’t think they would’ve been the same without these soundtracks to back them up.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Marvel Chronicle











70 years! Who would have imagined that Marvel Comics would be around that long? Well, if you are interested in learning about the history of Marvel, DK Publishing has released an amazing book called Marvel Chronicle. This book takes you to Marvel’s early years and walks you through the decades highlighting the company’s important events. Learn the origins of heroes such as Captain America, Fantastic Four, and so on. Not only does it chronicle the major events within Marvel’s history, but there are sidebars on the pages that show real world events that were happening at the time. I thought it was cool that the book provided a mini history lesson to go along with the comics’ timeline! Overall, DK did an awesome job making this unique book that people will probably be looking to for all kinds of Marvel facts for years to come.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Body of Lies (DVD)











See Leonardo look like a Middle Easterner.

See Leonardo chase terrorists.

See Leonardo in one hell of a spy thriller.


The disturbing situation in the Middle East has inspired some thought provoking movies within the last couple of years. The latest, and possibly the best of these kinds of films is Body of Lies. The film stars Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, but it is Leo that steals the show. His performance shows again that he’s come a looooong way from “Jack” in Titanic. Here he plays a CIA agent who goes from Iraq to Jordan trying to hunt down a terrorist named Al Saleem. He is the eyes and ears as to what’s going on in the streets. Meanwhile, he is monitored back in the States by his fellow power-hungry CIA coworker (played so annoyingly convincing by Crowe). They both have the same goal of bringing down the bad guys, but with completely different methods. DiCaprio wants to work with the local people and earn their trust. Crowe, filled with a little too much arrogance, wants to do things HIS way. They both clash a lot, which leads to some missions really getting screwed. Meanwhile, the terrorists are blowing stuff up in other parts of the world and time is running short. The film gets really good after the explosion in Amsterdam, when DiCaprio and team try and think of a way to bring Al Saleem into their hands. But, like the film’s tag says, “Trust No One. Deceive Everyone.” Things take a MAJOR turn towards the end when their entire plan doesn’t turn out the way they expected. With Leo's life on the line, will the bad guys win? Or will the terrorists plans backfire? Overall, Body of Lies is a damn good spy film. It’s packed with lots of action and a story that’s just as brilliant as it is disturbing. And the ending? Well, lets just say it was good enough to have me still thinking about it the day after watching it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Green Lantern: First Flight











On July 28th, the Green Lantern gets the chance to star in his own animated movie titled Green Lantern: First Flight. This will be the fifth entry in the DC Universe animated original PG-13 movies on DVD. It will be available as a special edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def.

More details to come soon!

Protégé (DVD)











Genius Products adds another gripping film to the Dragon Dynasty Label. Get ready for Protégé, a thriller that takes you to the underbelly of the drug trafficking world. In Protégé, a young cop gets tested in ways he never imagined when he goes undercover to bring down a secret drug ring. The deeper he gets, the more he’s torn inside as he sees the world of both sellers and junkies. He becomes close to the top hustlers and develops a relationship a neighbor that’s a single mom, and a junkie. Apart from being an action/thriller, some parts of it felt like a classroom lesson in how the drug lords move their products. I think they could have cut down a bit on the scenes where they explained in lengthy detail how they run their operations. But for the most part, Protégé was very effective in the way it showed the dark and dangerous drug world. The acting was convincing and the story didn’t drag on too long. It’s not the best one out of the Dragon Dynasty Label, but it was an intense film that I found to be very entertaining.