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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Sep. 25

Thor Diakow | posted Wednesday, Sep 26th, 2018

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

September 25, 2018: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Fahrenheit 451.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

SYNOPSIS: Lucasfilm’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” directed by Academy Award–winning filmmaker Ron Howard—the creator of unforgettable films, such as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Apollo 13,” “Parenthood” and “Splash”—took moviegoers on this summer’s wildest ride with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich). The action-packed journey explores Han’s first encounters with future friend and copilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and notorious gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), as well as his adventure-filled past alongside fellow street thief Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and career criminal Beckett (Woody Harrelson).

DIGITAL AND BLU-RAY BONUS MATERIAL:
• Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable
Sit down with director Ron Howard and the stars for an intimate and entertaining discussion of the film’s making.
• Team Chewie
See what it takes to bring your favorite Wookiee to life in this lighthearted look behind the scenes.
• Kasdan on Kasdan
Iconic Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and son Jonathan share what it was like to write the movie’s script together.
• Remaking the Millennium Falcon
Track the transformation of the most famous ship in the galaxy, from Lando’s swank and impeccable pride and joy to Han’s stripped-down hot-rod freighter with “special modifications.”
• Escape from Corellia
Get behind the wheel for the making of this high-octane chase through the streets of Corellia.
• The Train Heist
Explore the challenges and thrills of creating this action-packed sequence, including its remote location and spectacular effects.
• Becoming a Droid: L3-37
Meet the newest droid—and the talented actor who helps bring her to life.
• Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso
Take an in-depth tour of the rough-and-tumble bar where strangers mix and gamblers risk all in the legendary card game, Sabaac.
• Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run
Join Han and Chewie at the controls of the Millennium Falcon to see how this legendary moment in Star Wars history unfolds.

• Deleted Scenes
o Proxima’s Den
o Corellian Foot Chase
o Han Solo: Imperial Cadet
o The Battle of Mimban: Extended
o Han Versus Chewie: Extended
o Snowball Fight!
o Meet Dryden: Extended
o Coaxium Double-Cross

The Millenium Falcon: From Page to Park – An exclusive look at the history of the most famous ship in the galaxy, its origin and development, and how it will translate in one of the most anticipated expansions in Disneyland’s history.

For all the unfortunate press this movie became mired in, it turned out to be a rather fun ride and a refreshing break from the lengthy drama of other recent Star Wars outings. Solo plays out effectively as a good old fashioned Western heist movie, just one set in another galaxy! It does contain a little too much fan service but the flick also features solid action, dazzling visual effects, and some commanding performances. The Blu-ray bonus material is also extremely thorough and well worth checking out.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

SYNOPSIS: In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) and executive-produced by Jurassic titans Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow, Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Howard) return to Isla Nublar three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park to rescue any remaining dinosaurs on the island from a catastrophic volcano that threatens to leave dinosaurs extinct once again. Owen is driven to save his lead raptor, Blue, while Claire makes it her mission to preserve the creatures that she has grown to deeply respect. When the lava begins to rain down, they soon discover terrifying new breeds of ferocious dinosaurs along with a conspiracy that could threaten the entire world. Joined by co-stars James Cromwell (Babe, The Green Mile) as wealthy entrepreneur Benjamin Lockwood, Dr. John Hammond’s partner in creating Jurassic Park, as well as Justice Smith (The Get Down) and Daniella Pineda (The Detour) as Franklin Webb and Zia Rodriguez, members of Claire’s Dinosaur Protection Group; this brilliant cast brings an extraordinary story to life as chaos erupts when Owen, Claire, and their team discover a most deadly endgame that could bring the planet back to prehistoric times.

BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY & DIGITAL:

•The KINGDOM Evolves – Filmmakers discuss how the second chapter in the Jurassic World trilogy pushes the franchise in a new direction.
•Return to Hawaii – Cast and crew discuss shooting the film in Hawaii.
•Island Action – A behind-the-scenes look at the bunker scene and runaway gyrosphere sequence.
•Aboard the Arcadia – Cast and crew discuss working with the animatronic dinosaurs.
•Start the Bidding! – A behind-the-scenes look at the auction scene.

BONUS FEATURES ON DVD, 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY & DIGITAL:

•On Set with Chris & Bryce – Go behind the scenes with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.
•Birth of the Indoraptor – An inside look at the genetically designed monstrosity known as the Indoraptor.
•Death by Dino – Go behind the scenes as the Indoraptor faces off with a key character.
•Monster in a Mansion – Director J.A. Bayona discusses how Jurassic Park and Dracula (1979) influenced his approach to directing the monster in a mansion scene.
•Rooftop Showdown – A look at the terrifying showdown on the rooftop of the Lockwood Mansion.
•Malcolm’s Return – Behind the scenes with the one & only Jeff Goldblum.
•VFX Evolved – The team at ILM discuss their cutting-edge approach to creating dinosaurs.
•FALLEN KINGDOM: The Conversation – Filmmakers and cast sit down for a candid and casual conversation about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
•A Song for the KINGDOM – Justice Smith sings for the cast and crew of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
•Chris Pratt’s Jurassic Journals
•JURASSIC Then and Now – Key moments from the Jurassic saga that tie into Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

While Fallen Kingdom contains its fair share of dino carnage and superb visual and special effects, it’s still a ridiculous B-movie with paper-thin characters that doesn’t further the franchise at all. The once lofty series has now been reduced to parody; do yourself a favour and just watch the classic original again.

Fahrenheit 451

SYNOPSIS: Imagine a society where books are outlawed and “firemen” have been tasked to burn and destroy any remaining literature, erasing history right before our eyes. Based on Ray Bradbury’s classic sci-fi novel of the same name, the thought-provoking parable depicts a frighteningly plausible future where media is an opiate, history is purged and dissent is outlawed. The dystopian thriller centers on Montag (Jordan), a young fireman who forsakes his world and struggles to regain his humanity as he battles his mentor, fire captain Beatty (Shannon). Directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes), Fahrenheit 451 also stars Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Lily Singh (Bad Moms), Laura Harrier (Spider-Man Homecoming), Martin Donovan (Ant-Man), and more. Also executive produced by Sarah Green, Ramin Bahrani, Michael B. Jordan, Alan Gasmer, and Peter Jaysen.

BONUS FEATURES:

-Behind the Fire: Take a deeper look into Fahrenheit 451 as Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella, and director Ramin Bahrani discuss Guy Montag’s character evolution and relationships.

The Ray Bradbury dystopian sci-fi classic gets another film adaptation. Although this new treatment boasts slick production design and some big name talent, it still results in a clunky and plodding misfire. The original themes are vaguely present but poorly handled due to heavy-handed writing. Despite some decent moments and a strong visual aesthetic, this new version may have been better served stretched out over a series.

Apple Watch Series 4 review: ‘Guardian on your wrist’ packs a punch

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Sep 19th, 2018

At Apple’s annual Sep. event in Cupertino, Calif., the tech giant announced a new Apple Watch that brings hardware and software improvements that doubles down on its commitment to health. With Series 1 only launched three years ago, in just under a week with my review unit of Series 4, you can tell that this is what Series 1 should have been all along.

From a hardware standpoint, Apple Watch Series 4 packs a punch in still a small form factor. It retains its iconic design with some minor updates, featuring 40 and 44mm size options, enabling an over 30 per cent larger display through rounded corners.

watchOS 5 takes advantage of this through enhanced complications on the watch faces, apps have more real estate, and button inputs are easier. This is the first thing you’ll notice when you power it up. While I’m traditionally a silver kind of a guy, I’m a huge fan of the new gold finish, too, aligning with the new iPhone XS offering.

Your bands are still good!

You’ll be relieved to know the bands you’ve spent so much money on are still compatible with Series 4—phew! This was a worry from some tech analysts—that this is a way to force consumers to purchase new bands to be compatible with the new model.

As far as other improvements to the body of Apple Watch itself, a new Digital Crown now has built in haptic feedback. When you scroll through different menu options, subtle vibrations will help guide you through the user interface—a very nice detail.

If you listen to music or interact with Siri on Apple Watch, the speaker is 50 per cent louder—enough to fill a small room with ample feedback. The microphone has been moved to the opposite side of the device to facilitate clearer phone calls.

The ‘guardian on your wrist’

Health is where you see the most improvement, and Apple is very proud of that. Series 3 brought a high heart rhythm alert that became quite popular in notifying users of irregular patterns. Now, Series 4 will do the same with low heart rhythms. 

At launch in the United States, Apple Watch will come with a first-of-its-kind over-the-counter electrocardiogram—or ECG—application, through a new heart sensor built into the back and Digital Crown. This will allow a new way to record information for medical professionals to analyze. However, no word on when this will come to Canada.

Last on the health developments, something that can be great for our aging population (and even clumsy people like me): fall detection. It utilizes the internal gyroscope and accelerometer to detect irregular movements like falls.

In these instances, users will receive a notification to decide whether they want to notify emergency services, and if there’s no response within 60 seconds, Emergency SOS will be activated automatically.  Apple likened these new features as the ‘guardian on your wrist.’

Added cellular support in Canada

New this year is expanded cellular support for Apple Watch in Canada. Rogers has joined the other major wireless carriers to carry the device, meaning active runners can leave their iPhones at home and still be connected to music, podcasts, and loved ones wirelessly.

eSIM technology shares data from your phone plan, while connecting Apple Watch independently to the cellular network. This, combined with the faster dual-core S4 processor and W3 wireless chip brings the future onto your wrist.

How much will this cost, and do I need all this power on my wrist?

Apple Watch Series 4 will start at $519 CAD, with the cellular model starting at $649 CAD. Series 3 will also be available for those who are happy with last year’s model—it is still a great watch. Cellular is good for you if you like to run and be mobile without a phone, however for many (including myself), the standard model suffices. I’m happy to see all three major Canadian carriers—including Rogers—on board with support.

Apple Watch Series 4 is really designed for iPhone users. So if you’re an Android user, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  If you use iPhone and are in the market for a new smart watch, this is a great upgrade. This is the first Apple Watch where I felt it could keep up with my fast fingers.

Rogers Communications is the parent company of Citytv and this website.

Review: iPhone XS features under-the-hood refinements, but it won’t come cheap

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Sep 18th, 2018

Like clockwork, Apple unveiled the latest iteration of their flagship smartphone, iPhone, on Sep. 12 in front of a packed audience at Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif. Unlike previous years, however, the tech giant came out with not one, not two, but three smartphones—iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Tech enthusiasts applauded as CEO Tim Cook and team revealed the tech; but, is it worth the investment?

This review will focus on iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max—the devices Citytv had a chance to review ahead of the Sep. 21 launch in Canada, alongside Apple Watch Series 4. iPhone XR will go on sale later this year.

Hardware

On the exterior, iPhone X and iPhone XS are almost identical. The immersive screen remains at 5.8-inch, no home button, the same top notch you either love or hate, and IP68 water resistance up to two metres for 30 minutes—which Apple is quite proud of boasting through promotional videos. They also come in a new gold finish (in addition to space grey and silver), which I’m quite a fan of. Storage will be available in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB configurations.

In all three models, you’ll notice Apple has done away with the iconic home button, foreshadowing a slow death of the physical switch. As with iPhone X, there is a slight learning curve, but from personal experience, you get used to the shift in habit.

As for the larger iPhone, it seems the company has nixed the ‘Plus’ naming convention, opting for ‘Max.’ iPhone XS Max comes with a 6.5-inch screen—and it’s gigantic. Both XS and XS Max are great for media consumption, but XS Max is immersive but large for pockets—think watching YouTube videos with the new wide stereo speakers. Or my latest obsession—Ignite TV PVR downloads on the airplane.

Do you need the larger screen? No.  Is it nice to have? Yes.  Can it be a pain to carry in your pocket? Certainly, but having the option is great.

Bionic chip for bionic speeds

When migrating my data from my iPhone X, I could notice speed and power from the get-go. This iPhone houses an A12 Bionic and Neural Engine—what Apple calls ’the smartest and most powerful chip in a smartphone.’ The power is best noticed in resource-intensive applications like video editing, augmented reality, and gaming.

Coupled with iOS 12, it’ll unlock new consumer-friendly functionality, like Memoji and every selfie-taker’s new favourite feature: Smart HDR. Using the two 12-megapixel wide and telephoto lenses, Smart HDR means you can, using a slider, control F-stop or depth-of-field appearance in Portrait mode photos. This puts the power of pro photography in a consumer-grade smartphone—perfect for the ‘gram.

Battery life

In comparison to iPhone X, Apple claims iPhone XS will get you 30 minutes longer than iPhone X. iPhone XS Max will beat iPhone X by 90 minutes, according to Phil Schiller.

In real-life, I got a 12-hour day of consistent use out of iPhone XS Max.

Dual SIM support

New to any iPhone is support for two SIM cards through eSIM technology. It’s reliant on carrier adoption—however, it’s the same technology used for cellular connectivity in Apple Watch Series 4—now on all major carriers in Canada.  Traditional SIM cards will still work, but there is only one slot. The variant to be sold in China which will have two SIM trays.

This means that eventually consumers can still have two phone numbers (say, one for personal use and one for work) and receive calls and texts on one iPhone.

Pricing

In terms of pricing, iPhone XS won’t come cheap. At $1,379 CAD for iPhone XS and $1,519 CAD for the iPhone XS Max variant, these phones aren’t cheap. Carriers will subsidize—for example, Rogers is launching an Ultra tier, where for $10 a month, customers can get up to $250 off the upfront cost of ‘iconic’ devices on a term.

Additionally, later this year, Apple is launching iPhone XR, the third device announced at the Cupertino event. It features a ‘Liquid Retina’ LCD display, 12-megapixel camera, and a wide-array of colours, reminiscent of the iPhone 5C. iPhone XR rings in at just over $1,000.

Bottom line

So why would you want this device? You’re likely using an older iPhone—perhaps a 7—and it’s time for an upgrade. As a former iPhone 7 Plus user, iPhone XS Max is a nice option—albeit the hefty price tag.

If you’re an iPhone X user, there’s plenty to love about it still. iPhone XS brings a lot of new under the hood, but might not be worth $1,379.

Lastly, there’s a lot to be intrigued about iPhone XR, from the colour options to battery life. For the average consumer, it may be worth considering it when it comes out later this year. Let the games begin.

Rogers Communications is the parent company of Citytv and this website.

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