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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Jun. 5

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Jun 5th, 2018

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

June 5, 2018: A Wrinkle in Time, Peter Pan: Anniversary Edition, South Park: The Complete 21st Season, Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series.

A Wrinkle in Time

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SYNOPSIS: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and breakout star Storm Reid take viewers on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery, then behind the scenes through exciting extras! Just in time for summer break, Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” from acclaimed director Ava DuVernay, comes home. The stunning story of an ordinary girl’s extraordinary adventure through time and space offers exhilarating entertainment and positive messages for the whole family—encouraging self-confidence, inclusion and pushing imagination to the next level.

This mind-bending and wildly imaginative sci-fi family flick, based on the acclaimed novel, suffers from some clunky writing but also contains plenty of visually dazzling production design, thought-provoking themes, big concepts, and a stellar cast. It may have some narrative problems but A Wrinkle in Time ultimately provides an intelligent yet accessible – and earnest – adventure for children looking for more than princesses and superheroes.

Peter Pan: Anniversary Edition

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SYNOPSIS: In celebration of its 65th anniversary, Disney’s beloved flight of fantasy, “Peter Pan,” joins the highly celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection, landing in homes. With a little faith, trust and pixie dust, every member of the family will let their imagination soar on this epic adventure to Never Land, sparkling with legendary animation, extraordinary music and both all-new and classic bonus features.

A classic comes home again! Granted, the film was released in 1953 so some of the subject matter and references are a tad ‘dated’ but Peter Pan still represents the golden era of Disney animated films. Loaded with whimsy and charm, relive the unforgettable songs and magical adventure once more plus dive into some pretty cool bonus features.

South Park: The Complete 21st Season

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SYNOPSIS: All ten episodes from South Park’s incredible 21st season are packed into this exclusive 2-disc set. Join Cartman, Kenny, Stan, and Kyle as they take on the opioid epidemic, experiment with water bears, dig into the underbelly of social media and go to war with Canada. Add some Creator Commentary and never-before-seen deleted scenes, and you’ve got a box set you won’t be able to put down.

South Park may have lost some comedic steam and edge over the years but there are still some doozy episodes packed into this season. Always irreverent and perpetually timely, you have to give the guys credit for keeping up with the current news and issues as they lampoon and tackle a whole new set of wacky premises for their 21st outing.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series

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SYNOPSIS: Go back to the beginning to experience the epic saga of Avatar: The Last Airbender again with this complete collection! From the discovery of Avatar Aang in the frozen iceberg to the mastery of all four elements, from the battle at Ba Sing Se to the final showdown with the Fire Nation, your destiny awaits as you relive all the powerful bending that will blow you away once more!

Don’t miss your chance to own the ultimate collection of this groundbreaking animated series. The Blu-ray quality is pristine, the packaging makes for a worthy addition to anyone’s collection, and the bonus features are quite comprehensive. Check this one out if you’re looking for family fare that is a little less conventional.

12 things you need to know from Apple’s WWDC keynote announcement

Winston Sih | posted Monday, Jun 4th, 2018

Apple held their annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Jose, Calif. Monday, where a slew of software updates were announced. While there was no new hardware announced at their annual keynote address by CEO Tim Cook and team, developers were left with new features to sink their teeth into.  Here’s a brief recap:

iOS 12

Augmented Reality
The tech giant is doubling down on performance with the latest iteration of its mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. On iOS 12, the next generation of its augmented reality tool set, ARKit 2, was introduced, alongside a new ‘Measure’ app that enables users to get measurements of real-world items—all without a ruler or tape measure.
APPLE

APPLE

Screen Time/Down Time

Screen Time will offer users a way to see how actively they use their device. Through a central dashboard, insights like device use time, time spent in specific apps, and regular reports sent out means users can see how much time they really spend on Instagram. This will be something that appeals to parents. Down Time will introduce the ability for device managers (like mom and dad) to limit access to specific apps, category of apps, or the entire device from certain periods of the day, or once a set threshold is reached. Sorry, kids!
APPLE

APPLE

Animojis become more personal
Remember those animoji characters announced back in September? They are emojis brought to life using AR technology on iPhone X. The next step brings—ready for it?—Memoji to your repertoire. Users will design their own animated version of themselves—almost like a Bitmoji—and using iPhone’s front-facing camera, you’ll see the character come to life, mimicking your facial expressions, including tongue movements.
Group FaceTime
The video chatting service brings multiple parties together in a group video chat—up to 32 people to be specific. Active speakers’ tiles are made larger and smaller, while quiet participants are shelved. Chats can then utilize the Memoji effects, as well as a whole host of stickers and filters.
APPLE

APPLE

watchOS 5

Automatic workout detection
In the new operating system for Apple Watch, for those who use it to work out, technology including the built-in heart rate sensor will automatically detect when you start a work out. It will alert you, and once accepted will retroactively record the fitness data.  This is powerful for people like me who forget to activate a new workout more often than not.
Walkie-Talkie
Yes, it’s back—and it’s cool again. But it’s the 21st-century watch version. Once you accept the connection with your desired family and friends, you can tap to record a short audio message, and it is transmitted to their device. A fun way to tell your kids, “Dinner’s ready!”
APPLE

APPLE

No more “Hey Siri”
With the improved Siri Apple Watch face, users can now raise to activate Siri, without saying the words “Hey Siri.”
tvOS 12
Dolby Atmos surround sound support
Apple announced they are rolling out improvements to sound quality on Apple TV 4K, with integration of Dolby Atmos surround sound. Users with an enabled sound bar or speaker system will see an improvement, with upgraded media like movies to be pushed through iTunes automatically.

macOS 10.14 Mojave

Your privacy, first
The tech giant announced their new operating system, macOS 10.14 Mojave. The California road trip continues. Apple was quick to highlight privacy is at the forefront of user data, from mail to messages. Surprisingly, on Safari, updates will shut down Facebook tracking and ad targeting, forcing users to opt-in before they can use share/like buttons—the traditional source of ad tracking.
Dark Mode
The audience ooh’d and ahh’d for this one. Dark Mode is coming to macOS 10.14 Mojave. It is an adaptive mode that can dim your user experience to make being productive easier on the eyes at night. This is similar to the ’Night mode’ experience on the Twitter app.
Clean up your desktop with organization tools
New organization tools will help keep the clutter off your desktop. You can finally reclaim your wallpaper! Using ’stacks,’ macOS will sort and group materials by type. Photos, documents, videos, etc. For those who have a method to their madness, there will be a way to customize this function accordingly.
Rebuild of Mac App Store
In an attempt to better integrate Mac applications with its successful App Store ecosystem, Apple has rebuilt their App Store from the ground up, breaking app discovery down by ‘Create,’ ‘Work,’ ‘Play,’ and ‘Develop.’

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Annihilation

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Annihilation

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SYNOPSIS: Biologist and former soldier Lena (Academy Award® winner* Natalie Portman) is shocked when her missing husband (Oscar Isaac) comes home near death from a top-secret mission into The Shimmer, a mysterious quarantine zone no one has ever returned from. Now, Lena and her elite team must enter a beautiful, deadly world of mutated landscapes and creatures, to discover how to stop the growing phenomenon that threatens all life on Earth.  The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny.

Despite the underwhelming theatrical box office numbers, Annihilation represents one of the strongest and smartest science-fiction movies in the last several years. Adapting Jeff VanderMeer’s mind-bending novel was always going to be a difficult feat but Garland and co. pull it off in style. A strong ensemble cast, haunting visuals, and thematically deep writing help make this beautiful horror thriller a mesmerizing watch that remains both brilliant and beguiling. Kudos to Paramount for taking another gamble on a tricky property (especially after last year’s severely underrated Mother!) and here’s hoping major studios will continue to make risky ventures into intelligent filmmaking.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Blu-ray
-Part 1 – SOUTHERN REACH
-Refractions – See how director Alex Garland created the tone, textures and color palettes for the various film environments on set.
-For Those That Follow – Listen to the cast’s perspective on their roles and learn why they found the story so intriguing.
-Part 2 – AREA X
-Shimmer – See how filmmakers transformed real set locations to create the world of Annihilation.
-Vanished into Havoc – Check out all the action as cast and crew walk you through the mind-blowing stunts and special effects.
-Part 3 – TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
-Unfathomable Mind – Learn why the visual effects are integral to achieving director Alex Garland’s overall vision for Annihilation.
-The Last Phase – Listen to the cast and crew share their fondest memories from filming Annihilation.

 

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