Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Royals Season 2

The RoyalsS2The Royals is a great TV show, and I reviewed season 1 last year, I believe. In general, the series is great. Elizabeth Hurley is the big star of the show and really brings a lot to the storyline. The entertaining aspect about the storyline is the fact that it is not real.

The overall story is completely dramatized and over the top.  The Royals has everything to make it a great series with mystery, murder, scandal, and love. You just enjoy it and not take it seriously. Set back watch the royal family and all their fictitious tittle-tattles.

The first season I didn’t notice the soundtrack, but season 2 the soundtrack is rather entertaining. The artists are new and worth looking into like Midnight (Giorgio Moroder Remix) – Coldplay, Sirocco – Terry Blankenship, and Ragamuffin – Silversun Pickups. The music is pretty much Techno and Remixes.

Season 2 has cast changes, which might cause some fans to frown with Sophie Colquhoun and Hatty Preston gone from the show. Still, the Liam and Ophelia relationship spins still back and forth – will they ever get together.

Alas, there are only 10 episodes, so milk it for all it’s worth because it is so much fun to watch.

Racing Extinction

racing extinctionDirected by talented Louie Psihoyos, who also directed The Cove, Racing Extinction focuses on Psihoyos as he reveals all the dark secrets of the illegal black market trade of animal parts. The footage is captivating with vast underwater splendor at one end of the story and vast human corruption of ocean life on the other end of the story. He also brings a message to the populace of the grandeur and beauty of animals.

The movie follows Psihoyos as he treks to small villages where we see local fishermen hunting and killing manta ray gills for soup. With the help of his crew and other activists, they educate the locals on how their fishing is influencing the entire ecosystems. Another topic taken on is the hunt for sharks. Their fins are a delicacy for shark fin soup. The hunting has caused dwindling numbers in sharks. Clearly and right so, the movie seizes the moment to stand against the destruction that humanity has headed toward for many environments.

Elon Musk, the founder of the Tesla car, joins the crusade and attaches a projector to the Tesla car Psihoyos drives around town, so he can project beautiful animals on various buildings. The citizens see the images on the buildings and are amazed by the beautiful animals, instilling the importance of saving them from extinction.

The grand visual highpoint is when New York architectural representations of ocean life stop crowds walking through the city. They are even recording beautiful images on their devices while we see children’s faces mesmerized. Psihoyos clearly states in the movie, a vital message for everyone, when people truly view the life of the sea, we can choose to “Do one thing” protect species balance.

I recommend this movie for everyone to see, and teachers play it in your classrooms because it is truly an education.

Sicario & Ender’s Game in 4K UHD Blu-Ray

Sicario 4K Ultra-Blu-raySomething new has arrived for home theater connoisseurs. The newest format in watching movies called 4K UHD Blu-rays. The public introduction is calling it “ultra-high definition”.

Because I am interested in this new phase of viewing movies at home, I was sent both Sicario and Ender’s Game in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.  Before I commence with my opinion of the new format, the two different genres are the best way to review this system.  Movies like Ender’s Game prove more enjoyable with the screening quality while Sicario special effects were minimal.

The new format is totally about the technical enhancements that make the viewing of the movies far better. Is it important enough to purchase the 4K TV screen, player, and movie?

For some, I am sure it is a status thing while others thrive on a better viewing pleasure.  “Hey, come on over to my house. I have the new 4K player and TV Screen. Ender’s Game looks awesome on the new format!”

With that, here is my take on the new format. Sicario‘s HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p transfer in 2.40:1 clearly shows upgrades in detail, contrast and particularly when it comes to color gradation levels.  Like I said earlier, Sicario does not have eye-popping grandeur like Ender’s Game, there are some really vivid differences, though, in the 4K version.

I noticed at the beginning of the movie where facial features in the first SWAT scene are far better in texture. Surprisingly so, after Kate, played by Emily Blunt, is almost shot. Her face is bathed in red, but the fine detail comes through. I could almost feel the textures on each element such as curtains in Kate’s apartment. Before, I wouldn’t even have thought of noticing her curtains, but is that an important part of the movie?

The difference really shines with the dark scenes. The long scene with Kate in the bar where the contrast and tones are so much more improved. Everything looks so much more vibrant and alive.  However, I had to mention this but it has come up with other sources. The 4K has recurring rapid shaking in some of the scenes. I noticed it particularly with the pan shots. It is quite noticeable in the tracking across the landscape as the SWAT team drops in on the cartel house.

ender's game 4KFor Ender’s Game, the new format shows more splendor and richness of the colors. Literally, each color stands out. Particularly, the different shades of blues of spaceship and uniforms. They pop out at you from the screen.  The spherical zero-gravity battle room scenes are more fun to watch now with the ultra-high-definition.

I sound like I am repeating myself, but it is true. The new format is all about the colors. Looking at the plants in the background is extraordinary with deep light blues, greens, and browns. Every element is so detailed with textures that I didn’t even notice in the other formats. I have to mention the tattoos on Ben Kingsley’s face. They are so rich and alive, like 3D.

I didn’t notice any shaking on the pan shots compared to Sicario, which is interesting. The panning shots of the rocky terrain are gorgeous.  I could go on and on, but you need to see and experience 4K for yourself.  All in all, the 4K UHD Blu-ray is an exciting presentation.  You just have to spend more money in order to experience.

History Bible Collection

history BibleI have always been impressed with the documentaries produced by HISTORY. The Bible Collection is a fine example of a well-done production. The program covers everything you can image about the Bible and even more so. The quality of reenactments and speculations bring more life to such a devoted subject.

The 16-disc set of over 38 hours of programming examines both Judaism and Christianity.  The series explores the mysteries and hidden facts about the history of the Bible. Three discs offer some of the most famous biblical stories from both the Old and New Testament. Also featured are 12 programs about the most famous biblical figures, and the screen format is both widescreen and full screen.

Includes the following DVDs:

  • Bible Stories from The Old Testament – DVD#1
  • Bible Stories from The Old Testament – DVD#2
  • Bible Stories from The Old Testament – DVD#3
  • Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years – DVD#1
  • Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years – DVD#2
  • Banned from The Bible – DVD
  • Banned from The Bible II – DVD
  • History Classics: Mysteries of The Bible: The Bible’s Greatest Heroes – DVD1/2
  • History Classics: Mysteries of The Bible: The Bible’s Greatest Heroes – DVD3/4
  • History Classics: Mysteries of The Bible: The Bible’s Greatest Heroes – DVD5
  • Bible Secrets Revealed – DVD1
  • Bible Secrets Revealed – DVD2
  • Mysteries of The Bible FKA Collector’s Choice: Mysteries of The Bible – DVD1/2
  • Mary of Nazareth – DVD/Jesus His Life
  • The Execution of Jesus – DVD
  • God Vs. Satan – DVD

I doubt anyone could watch all the programs in one sitting.  I am sure most Sunday Schools would love this set, and play the DVDs that are appropriate for children.  Some adults might want to watch each video as it sparks their interest in a certain aspect of the Bible, like Mary of Nazareth or where the Bible has been banned. No matter how the programs are viewed, I am sure each person will appreciate the value of the production and become better educated about such an ancient book.

Shaun the Sheep: Season 2

shaurnsheep2I was going to post this review in the Kids section of Movie Roar since it really is safe for kids to watch and is really silly.  I changed my mind when I realized it really is funnier from an adult’s point of view.

Shaun the Sheep: Season 2 is hilarious. The short episodes are not too long nor too short – about 7 minutes. They are just right for any rainy afternoon or boring evening with nothing to do. My favorite one is about the bagpipe. The sheep and dog think it is a goose. I have never laughed so hard in such a short amount of time.

The package comes with two DVDs. If you have a free moment or two, just pop in the DVD and peruse the menu for an episode that catches your eye. The set has a total of 40 episodes. There are plenty of choices.

Let’s face it. These cute little sheep and the dog are hilarious. Each episode has no dialogue, just music and some grunts here and there. It is produced so well that I didn’t even think about the fact there was no dialogue.

Another funny aspect about the storyline is the dog and sheep try to steer clear of the farmer, who is as blind as anyone with a pair of opaque eyeglasses.  I just laugh thinking about it.

I recommend the DVD set for the whole family. Any age will enjoy these short stories. Just thinking about the sheep, the dog, and the farmer puts a smile on my face.

Extraction

extractionDirected by Chris C. Miller, Extraction opens with CIA field operative Leonard Turner played by Bruce Willis. The scene is an important part of the story because his wife is killed by the bad guys, and he prevents his son from being killed as well.

Next, we see his son Harry, played by Kellan Lutz, and it is ten years later. He followed his father’s footsteps and is a CIA agent.  He is training under the keen guidance of Leonard’s best friend Ken played by D.B. Sweeney. Harry wants to be a field agent like his father but keeps getting turned down. He is assigned to a project involving a top secret piece of electronic equipment called CONDOR. It is pretty powerful and can control anything electric.

Leonard is sent on a mission to purchase CONDOR and gets captured. Harry finds out and wants to save his father, but is told to stand down. Harry figures out who captured his father, but the CIA says he isn’t strong enough to help save his father and send him home with an armed escort. Harry breaks away and sets his sights on saving his father.

Victoria Phipps, played by Gina Carano, is assigned to the case. She is one of the best field agents, and to make the story more interesting, a former lover of Harry. She lets him join her and help track down CONDOR, find his father, and take down the bad guys. Time is the key to pulling this all off, and they have to work fasts. The story has some twists and turns and confusion occurs on trying to figure out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys.

Seems like a pretty good action movie, but in all honest it isn’t that great. Technical glitches with the overall sound and vocals are disconcerting. The odd edit cuts and jumps prevent the flow of the story. On top of that, I enjoy watching Carano do her action stuff, which I have seen in her other movies. She’s great, but in this movie, she doesn’t do all that much. I mean, she is a former MMA fighter. Let her show her stuff.

All in all, I really wanted to like this movie, but it started off great and went downhill from there.

Manhattan: Season 2

WGN’s Manhattan is clearly a great period drama since Madmen. In season 2, three new cast members are introduced. William Petersen plays Col. Emmett Darrow, who is not a nice guy. Mamie Gummer plays Nora, who is also very dark, and then Neve Campbell, who plays Kitty Oppenheimer.

If you watched season 1, then you might be bothered by the fact that Frank Winter, played by John Benjamin Hickey, doesn’t have as much screen time in season 2 as in season 1 because the story follows the other main characters more this time around.

The opening episode is a little confusing because it opens 45 minutes before the season finale and then flashes back to a year before the night they test the bomb. I had a hard time following the time frame, but it does smooth out, hopefully.

More backstory is given to each character, which makes the season 2 more interesting, and the acting is still strong and impressive.  The history during this time is really interesting with the music and some authenticity to the clothes.  If you are sharp, you might notice some production flaws with modern pops here and there or modern electric wires not fully erased out of the film.

All in all, Manhattan has a hard message as a social commentary. The Cold War existed, and these people were a large part of it.

Mi-5

MI5Kit Harington plays a former MI5 agent, Will Crombie, who investigates the disappearance of Harry Pearce played by Peter Firth when he is blamed for the escape of a ruthless terrorist. Harington is known for starring in Pompeii, and I happy to see him in a different role.

Directed by Bharat Nalluri, Mi-5 is a very compelling spy-thriller and conspiracy movie. I am amazed by all twists and turns the storyline follows. Even the end has a twist I wasn’t expecting at all. The movie kept me on my toes trying to figure out who is who and who is now who. Just one betrayer after another carries the story. The characters in the movie are very real in the sense they conflict with the spy work they do. Is it morally justified or for the great good? Nice touch on ethical choices, which is refreshing. “You are responsible for your actions.”

I did notice the budget constraints of producing this movie, but still the action scenes were skillfully done but not over the top. Just enough to hold my attention and believe the scenes were real. Some movies go way overboard on the action sequences, then I no longer believe in what is happing because it is just to unreal.

I heard that this movie is based on a British TV show called Spooks, and when the show was distributed to the States, the title was changed to MI-5.  With that, if you are familiar with the TV show, you will notice the same characters in the movie and be able to follow the storyline much better than someone who hasn’t seen the television show.

The Last Witch Hunter

the last witch huntVin Diesel movies make money and entertain in a simple but direct way. The Last Witch Hunter is a little different and not such a simple movie. Directed decently by USC alumni Breck Eisner, the movie is both largescale and commendable. Eisner crafts a distinct urban fantasy-horror universe, which looks different from other movies of the same genre.

The story begins in the past with a group of silver-haired warriors on an important journey to slay the evil Witch Queen, played by Julie Engelbrecht, responsible for placing a curse on whole the countryside. The warriors fight bravely with suspense and terror as if they are fighting a monster, not a witch. All in all, this part of the movie is very good.

The story moves forward to the present, we meet Kaulder, played by Diesel, who is an immortal hero with a very complex or angst personality. If you are familiar with Diesel’s characters, you know he is still sarcastic and badass as ever, making his dedicated fans over-the-top, hand slapping happy.  He teams up with Axe and Cross, a group of priests. Dolan played brilliantly by Michael Caine, works closely with Kaulder, but retires and unexpectedly dies. Kaulder suspects his death is caused by “dark magic beyond evil,” meaning the Witch Queen.

Eisner adds a lot of action scenes with some awesome scary scenes, a strong supporting cast, and plenty of really useful computer effects with vibrant monsters and crazy spells. However, the story has no surprises only clichés, yet it’s a Diesel movie, so no complaints either.

Elijah Wood is excellent as Kaulder’s sidekick, a geeky priest in New York City. He adds a lot to the story and production. I like seeing him with Diesel because they are so different in real life.

All in all, it is a pretty good movie and worth seeing if you are a Diesel fan.

Mountain Men, Season 4

mountainmenMountain Men is a decent reality TV show, and they are DVDs are worth getting, so I believed, until Season 4. Season 4 DVD has only 8 episodes, and the other half of the season is not available yet. The earlier seasons are all in one DVD package. When I bought Season 1, 2, 3, I got the whole season in each DVD package, so the change in packaging is confusing. It appears to be a bait and switch.

The promotion isn’t clear on what I am actually buying because it appears to be the whole season since there are on two discs. How can 8 episodes fill two discs?

Don’t get me wrong. It is a great program, but it is so disappointing to only have half the season in the DVD package. I looked at Amazon and most of the reviews state the same thing. They are disappointed because they only received half the season.

Despite the change in packing, Mountain Men is a great show. My favorite episode is when Marty finishes his cabin in time for his family to arrive.  Rich, in Montana, has dogs that are in danger after pursuing a bobcat too far. Then, Tom gets the once over after receiving a risky commission. In the beautiful North Carolina, a mishap brings Eustace’s lumber operation to a sudden halt.

As an afterthought, some of you might be happier viewing the streaming episodes on Amazon or History.  If you do the math, you might find it a better deal.