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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Oct. 1

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Oct 1st, 2019

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

October 1, 2019: Spider-Man: Far From Home, Chernobyl, True Detective: The Complete Third Season, The Addams Family/Addams Family Values 2-Movie Collection, Avatar & Legend of Korra Complete Series Collection.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

SYNOPSIS: Tom Holland returns as everyone’s favorite web-slinger in SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, the next chapter after Spider-Man: Homecoming. Our friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plans to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks! Spider-Man and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) join forces to fight the havoc unleashed across the continent, but all is not as it seems.

While this Spidey adventure doesn’t quite soar as high as Homecoming, it still contains plenty of dazzling eye candy, plot twists, witty banter, crazy CG action, cool gadgets, and one rather outstanding performance from Gyllenhaal. Holland once again proves he’s the perfect actor for this role, which is ironic given the shaky cinematic future of the character thanks to the complicated Sony and Marvel rights issue (though we are getting at least one more Holland adventure in 2021). For those looking for a wealth of insightful information into the production and a bevvy of behind-the scenes tidbits, the bonus features do not disappoint.

Bonus Features:
•World Wide Web-Slinger: An in-depth look at Spider-Man’s web-slinging adventure around the world featuring new interviews and behind-the-scene with the cast and crew.
•New Original Short, Peter’s To – Do – List: Peter has a few errands to run before he can leave on his class trip.
•Teachers’ Travel Tips: Mr. Harrington & Mr. Dell present a few tips on how to traverse the European continent.
•Stepping Up: Explore how Spider-Man was introduced in the MCU, the ways Tom Holland transformed the character of Peter Parker, and what the future holds for Spider-Man.
•Suit Up: The suit doesn’t make the hero – but it does play a big role in who they are and who they can become. This piece examines all of Peter’s different suits in the movie, and with behind the scenes footage, we see why some suits are better than others.
•Far, FAR, Far from Home: The film’s illustrious locations serve story points and establish tone, but they’re also amazing to travel to! Hear from the cast on their experiences filming on-location.
•It Takes Two: A special look at the chemistry between Jon Watts and Tom Holland.
•Fury & Hill: MCU stalwarts Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson are back as Agent Maria Hill & Nick Fury!
•The Ginter-Riva Effect: A look at the villain sub-plot and how William Ginter-Riva ties Spider-Man: Far From Home all the way back to the beginning of the MCU.
•Thank You, Mrs. Parker: A look at Marisa Tomei’s reimagining of Aunt May, from Homecoming to Far From Home.
•The Brother’s Trust: A quick look into some of the amazing work Tom Holland and his brothers have done through their charity, The Brothers Trust.
•The Jump Off: Interviews with the cast & crew take us through all of the amazing stunts of Far From Home.
•Now You See Me: We examine the evolution of Mysterio and why Jake Gyllenhaal was the perfect fit for the role.
•Stealthy Easter Eggs: Allow E.D.I.T.H. to reveal some of the hidden Easter Eggs you may have missed!
•Select Scene Pre – Vis: A side by side comparison of the Pre-Vis with the film
•Gag Reel & Outakes
•Never-Before-Seen Alternate & Extended Scenes
•Catch a first look at the all-new series “Alex Rider” coming soon! When Alex leaves his ordinary teenage life to go on a dangerous mission to work as an undercover agent at the Point Blanc academy, he must call upon skills he didn’t even know he had as he investigates the sinister truth behind the school. Alex Rider is based on the series of best-selling novels by Anthony Horowitz.

Chernobyl

SYNOPSIS: On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Soviet Union suffered a massive explosion resulting in one of the worst human-made catastrophes in history. CHERNOBYL tells the story of the brave men and women who made incredible sacrifices to save Europe from unimaginable disaster, all the while battling a culture of disinformation. Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist. As part of the response team, he was one of the first to grasp the scope of the unparalleled disaster that occurred. Stellan Skarsgård plays Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission on Chernobyl in the hours immediately following the accident. Emily Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist committed to solving the mystery of what led to the Chernobyl disaster.

Essential viewing when it comes to TV drama; Chernobyl is masterfully crafted in every aspect and makes for one of the most engrossing, terrifying, and thought-provoking series in recent years. Equal parts harrowing and heartbreaking, the precision writing mixed with top-notch performances – and stunning production design – make this one brilliant, albeit disturbing must-see show.

True Detective: The Complete Third Season

SYNOPSIS: 1980: Will and Julie Purcell, the children of feuding parents Tom and Lucy Purcell, go missing a week after Halloween in West Finger, Ark. 2015: Retired detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali), who originally investigated the crime, is asked to look back on the twists of the unsolved case with a true-crime documentary producer.

True Detective‘s third season starts as a slow burn, which gradually beautifully builds into an extremely compelling mystery. An incredible cast – highlighted by Mahershala Ali, Stephen Dorff, Carmen Ejogo, Scoot McNairy, and Mamie Gummer – help give the writing a pristine quality as the season unspools and the viewer is pulled more into the unfolding crime drama. Taking a page more from the moody and introspective first season (and dispensing with the somewhat ham-fisted approach the second season brought) this season is a riveting character-driven saga well worth your time.

The Addams Family/Addams Family Values 2-Movie Collection

SYNOPSIS: THE ADDAMS FAMILY When long-lost Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) reappears after twenty-five years in the Bermuda Triangle, Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) plan a celebration to wake the dead. But Wednesday (Christina Ricci) barely has time to warm up her electric chair before Thing points out Fester’s uncommonly ‘normal’ behavior. Could this Fester be a fake, part of an evil scheme to raid the Addams fortune? Based on Charles Addams’ beloved cartoons and following the success of the hit TV series, The Addams Family is a visual funhouse, packed with plenty of treats, tricks and turns by director Barry Sonnenfeld. ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES It’s love at first fright when Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) welcome a new addition to the Addams household – Pubert, their soft, cuddly, mustachioed baby boy. As Fester (Christopher Lloyd) falls hard for voluptuous nanny Debbie Jilinsky (Joan Cusack), Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) discover she’s a black-widow murderess who plans to add Fester to her collection of dead husbands. The family’s future grows even bleaker when the no-good nanny marries Fester and has the kids shipped off to summer camp. But Wednesday still has a Thing or two up her sleeve.

As a ’90s kid I totally remember seeing BOTH of these frightfully funny flicks on the big screen. They’re together for the first time on Blu-ray so it’s a good time to add them to your home collection. Relish the past glory of the late, great Raul Julia, appreciate the inventive special effects, and marvel at how young Christina Ricci was! The Addams Family has been and will continue to be rebooted in many forms down the road but these movies have earned their endearing place in the genre.

Avatar & Legend of Korra Complete Series Collection

SYNOPSIS: For the first time together on Blu-ray & DVD, experience the complete Avatar saga with Aang and Korra. From the discovery of Avatar Aang in the frozen iceberg in Avatar: The Last Airbender to Korra’s heroic journey to set things right in Republic City through The Legend of Korra, relive all the epic air, earth, water and firebending in this ultimate Avatar collection.

A must-have for fans of both shows as they come in one epic package and are loaded with insightful bonus features that help illustrate the lasting impact of both shows’ legacies. Rarely do animated series attain such a level of quality storytelling, mature themes, and breathtaking visuals.

Bonus Features:
The Making of Avatar Featurettes
Original Uncut Animatic “The Avatar State”
Behind the Scenes with the Avatar Cast & Crew
The Women of “Avatar: The Last Airbender (The Legend of Aang)”
Audio Commentaries with the Cast & Crew of The Legend of Korra
Scene Bending Animatics
“The Making of a Legend: The Untold Story” – Parts I & II
Plus Featurettes, Animatics, Shorts, and More!

Mike Yawney reviews the Nintendo Switch

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Sep 25th, 2019

Two years after introducing the ground-breaking Switch, Nintendo has released an updated version of the popular console. The Nintendo Switch Lite cuts back on some of the features, but in return eases the burden on your wallet. We’ve had a chance to use the new system over the past week. Read our review to decide if the Lite version is right for you and your family.
Smaller and Lighter
Nintendo has created a more compact version of the Switch, making it ever so smaller, and lighter. The Switch Lite comes in at roughly 120 grams lighter than the original. On paper, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s noticeable. Size-wise, imaging removing one of the Joy-Cons from the original Nintendo Switch. This gives roughly you the footprint of the new version.
It’s surprising to see how the subtle changes in size and weight make such a big difference on how it feels in your hands. Switch Lite feels much more like a portable console compared to the original Switch. Part of the reason is it’s more stable. Since the Joy-Con controllers can’t be removed you don’t get the slight wiggle that you did on the original Switch.
D-Pad Makes a Comeback
Dual analog sticks have become the norm of modern-day consoles. While they work great for shooters and adventure games, the accurate control needed to play older 8-bit, even 16-bit just Isn’t there. Thankfully Nintendo has reintroduced the classic D-pad into the design of the Switch Lite.
If you tried playing some of the classic NES and SNES games on the Nintendo Switch you may have noticed the controls feel slightly off. The D-pad makes playing those classic titles much more enjoyable, Even newer versions of classic games like Tetris 99 just play better with the D-pad.
The Screen
Sure, smaller footprint means a slightly smaller screen. The screen size has dropped from 6.2 inches down to 5.5 inches. Will you notice it? Probably not. The resolution remains the same. It still looks beautiful
Battery
Just how good the battery life on the Nintendo Switch Lite is compared to the Switch really depends on which model of Switch you own. The original Switch, released back in 2017 held 2.5 to 6.5 hours worth of charge. Recently Nintendo launched a newer version which has a better battery life of 4.5 to 9 hours. The Switch Lite will get you anywhere between 3 and 7 hours. A slight upgrader if you owned the original
Games 
Strange to say this but if you are thinking about buying the Switch Lite you need to know that not all games are playable on the system. There are a few games that simply don’t support handheld mode which is the ONLY mode supported by the Switch Lite.
Games like 1-2 Switch, Just Dance and Nintendo Labo/Labo VR all require either HD Rumble or motion control. This is not an option on the Switch Lite. The Joy-Cons are non-detachable. The number of games that you cannot play is few, however, they do include favorites like Super Mario Party.
Game Sharing
This could be an issue for families with more than one Nintendo Switch. Nintendo forces you to dedicate one Switch in your home as a primary Switch. Any other Switches in the household will be considered secondary Switches. While you can transfer digital games, even saves from the primary Switch to a secondary Switch, the secondary Switch MUST be connected to the internet to play these titles. If you cannot connect at least once every three hours, you will not be allowed to play the game. You can also ONLY play games through the account that originally purchased them, which could be problematic if parents are buying games for kids from their account.
Some users (including myself) have found that dedicating your Switch Lite as the primary console alleviates this problem as it won’t have to go online for authorization…but if someone back home wants to play they would have to play through the owner’s account, not their own. This could cause problems for cloud saves if they did log into the game owner’s account.
Another workaround is to buy physical game cartridges instead of digital files. The only downside here is you have to carry those little things around with you wherever you go…and hope no one loses or misplaces one.
No Docking Allowed
This may be a deal-breaker for some. The Original Switch was called Switch for a reason, You could place the portable console in a docking station and use it like a traditional console along with your television, This latest version can’t be connected to a TV. It’s portable only. For some, it may not be a big deal. Personally I use my Nintendo Switch on the go and have maybe only docked it one or two times in the past two years.
The Bottom Line
Nintendo’s new Switch Lite feels much more like a portable console than the original Switch ever did. It’s more compact, more stable and has quickly become my go-to for gaming on the go. If you want to play your favorite Nintendo games on the go then this is the console for you! It feels like the perfect portable gaming machine. It just becomes problematic in households with multiple Switch consoles and multiple gamers. You’ll need to come to an agreement on who plays what games and where so you don’t have to buy multiple copies of digital titles.

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Aug. 27

Thor Diakow | posted Wednesday, Aug 28th, 2019

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

August 27, 2019: Rocketman, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The Secret Life of Pets 2

Rocketman

SYNOPSIS: ROCKETMAN is a one-of-a-kind musical celebration set to Elton John’s most beloved songs. Discover how a shy, small-town boy becomes one of the most iconic figures in rock & roll. Featuring an all-star cast, this truly spectacular and utterly electrifying ride is filled with show-stopping musical performances.

Rousing, mesmerizing, and just bit unconventional, Rocketman boasts one tremendous performance from Taron Egerton – proving he is indeed the real deal – and breathes new life into the standard musical biopic formula. Mixing dreamlike sequences and fantasy-driven musical numbers, this crowd-pleaser takes an eclectic look at one of the world’s most iconic performers in a dazzling cinematic way, befitting of the real life superstar.

BONUS FEATURES:

•Extended Musical Numbers:
•Introduction by Dexter Fletcher
•The Bitch Is Back
•Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
•Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache
•Honky Cat
•Deleted and Extended Scenes
•It’s Going to Be a Wild Ride: Creative Vision
•Becoming Elton John: Taron’s Transformation
•Larger Than Life: Production Design & Costuming
•Full Tilt: Staging the Musical Numbers
•Music Reimagined: The Studio Sessions – Behind the scenes in the recording studio with Taron & Elton
•ROCKETMAN Lyric Companion: Sing-Along with Select
•ROCKETMAN Jukebox: Jump Straight to the Music

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

SYNOPSIS: The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

While the creature carnage is EPIC, the dialogue is rather tedious; but really, who watches a Godzilla movie for the talking? King of the Monsters certainly gives more behemoth bang for your buck than the Gareth Edwards 2014 predecessor and welcomes some classic foes that should satisfy franchise fans. A star-studded cast does its best with the needlessly padded plot but the final battles are certainly worth the wait.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

•Commentary by Director
•Godzilla: Nature’s Fearsome Guardian
•Mothra: Queen of the Monsters
•King Ghidorah: The Living Extinction Machine
•Rodan: Airborne God of Fire
•Godzilla 2.0
•Making Morthra
•Creating Ghidorah
•Reimagining Rodan
•The Yunnan Temple
•Castle Bravo
•The Antarctic Base
•The Isla de Mara Volcano
•The Undersea Lair
•Millie Bobby Brown: Force of Nature
•Monster Tech: Monarch Joins the Fight
•Monsters Are Real
•Welcome to the Monsterverse
•Deleted Scenes

The Secret Life of Pets 2

SYNOPSIS: The Secret Life of Pets 2 explores the emotional lives of our pets, the deep bond between them, the families that love them and answers the question: What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home? Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) is coping with major life changes after Katie’s marriage and the arrival of a toddler, Liam. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment with a little help from her feline friend, Chloe (Lake Bell), who has discovered the joys of catnip. And Snowball (Kevin Hart) believes, despite the other pets’ teasing, that he’s a superhero after his owner starts dressing him in superhero pajamas. But when Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), a fearless Shih Tzu, shows up to ask for Snowball’s help on a dangerous mission, he’ll have to summon the courage to become the hero he’s been pretending to be.

This family-friendly sequel brings back lovable characters from the first one plus adds some quirky and even poignant new additions. Full credit to Brian Lynch’s story, which takes the plot in several new directions while maintaining the charms of the original. Pet owners and kids alike should relish this timely tale, which is full of great gags and vibrant animation, that effectively examines the bond between us and our furry families.

BONUS FEATURES:

•Mini Movies
-Minion Scouts – When Margo, Agnes and Edith return from Badger Scout camp, three of the Minions are entranced by the girls’ merit badges. Their own attempt at scout camp results in attracting a bear, eating poison berries and eventually blowing up a dam, creating a massive flood. But, when they arrive back home, the girls share their badges, encouraging the rest of the Minions to try their hand at scouting.
*DVD format includes over 75 minutes of bonus content
•Super Gidget – When Max is kidnapped by an army of squirrels, Super Gidget is the only one who can save him. It turns out that Max’s captor is a flea with the power of mind control. Gidget must use her pluckiness, strength and smarts to save her one true love…until it turns out it was all just a dream.
•The Making of the Mini Movies – Every Illumination film is accompanied by mini movies that are a production all their own.  Each film’s directing partners will explore how the mini movies were made.
•Deleted Scenes
•A Tapestry of a Tail: The Making Of – The plot of The Secret Life of Pets 2 involves multiple storylines ultimately coming together to create a larger than life tale. We talk with the filmmakers, editor and cast about the delicate dance of juggling multiple narratives in one movie.
•How to Draw – Hosted by Head of Story, Eric Favela, follow the step-by-step tutorial to learn to draw Max, Snowball and Chloe
•Frame by Frame: How to Make a Flip Book – In this DIY-style vignette, Head of Story Eric Favela will teach viewers about the essence of animation and how they can create their very own flip book animations at home.
•Character Pods – Get a closer look at your favorite characters of The Secret Life of Pets 2 with these delightful character pods that might just give away a few more pet secrets.
•A Party Fit for a Pet – Using stop motion animation, this step-by-step guide teaches you everything you need to know to throw the very best party for your pet!
•Pops’ Puppy Training School with Kevin Hart – Join Kevin Hart as he shows off his dog training skills.
•Pets Yule Log – Sit back and relax in front of this exclusive The Secret Life of Pets 2 themed animated ‘Yule Log.’
•Lyric Videos
-‘Panda’ Lyric Video
-‘It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day (The Secret Life of Pets 2)’ Lyric Video

EXCLUSIVE TO 4K ULTrA HD & BLU-RAY™
•The Further Adventures of Captain Snowball (Interactive) – This animated ‘Motion Comic’ expands the world of our furry hero, Captain Snowball. Using a ‘superhero’ comic book style and custom animation, we discover more about the secret world of our caped crusader with a little help from our viewers. At key moments in the story, the viewer is presented with a choice: left, or right? Fight or flight? Their choice determines our hero’s next move!

EXCLUSIVE TO 4K ULTrA HD & BLU-RAY™ & DIGITAL
•My Buddy and Me – We interview the Illumination cast and crew talking about The Secret Life of Pets 2 while holding (or trying to hold) their pets.
•Pets with Jobs: A Documentary – We find and profile animals with special jobs – a service dog that detects when its epileptic owner is about to have a seizure; ponies that provide comfort to children with cancer; police dogs that go the extra mile to catch the bad guys. Meet some of the many animals who make the world a better place every day!
•Relax the Cat: The Secret Life of Pets Massage – A professional pet masseuse shows the cast how to read signs of tension in their pet and use massage techniques to keep their furry babies relaxed and happy!
•Production Pets – It takes hundreds of people to make an animated movie and a lot of those people have pets that can’t wait for them to come home. This piece is dedicated to all those faithful companions.

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