Extant (Season 1 DVD Boxset): Review

The Series

Extant, a story about family, and what it means. A story about how the human race is developing, and technology improving, and a story about what might happen when we encounter other life as well as approach the singularity (where machines will become sentient).

Halle Berry plays an astronaut returning home after a solo stay on a space station, for an extended period of time. Back on Earth, she has to adjust to life with her family, her husband (played by Goran Visnjic) and their robotic son (the talented Pierce Gagnon). Molly (Berry) works for the ISEA (International Space Exploration Agency), a private space company, with some hidden motives. She has returned from her 13 month solo trip pregnant. And is is from here that all sorts of intrigue and deceit ensue as others attempt to take possession of her unborn child. This all culminates in some deeds of great sacrifice, and risk, as each in turn tries to do what is right and gain all these new discoveries for themselves.

Extant is a show that requires some thinking. It moves along at its own pace, and is not a science fiction story where a view is treated to all sorts of aliens, monsters and action in a never ending flood. These sci-fi treats are dealt out only when deserved, meaning you need to watch and understand each episode, and only then do you gain that little more insight.

The show is not one for every audience member. Some of the philosophical themes it explores are likely not going to appeal to some, yet it delivers a thought provoking message. How far will we go for family, and how far will we go in order to save ourselves?

The effects in Extant are impressive, without being intrusive. The characters are well cast, and for the message it is trying to deliver, the story well told. There are differences apparent with the many different directors, and adding their own subtle visions.

Discs And Bonus Features

Each of the 4 discs is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning you can scale this up via hardware or software to a larger screen, if needed. Sound is in 5.1 surround, expanding the viewers experience, and drawing them further into this future world.

There are a plethora of bonus features includes on these discs, with The Story Of Extant and come promotional clips on disc 1 (without spoilers) and the rest of the bonus features on the final (fourth) disc, which could contain spoilers and are best watched after you have seen the series.

  • The Story Of Extant
    Interviews with cast and crew, talking about what attracted them to the project, and the process involved in coming up with the concept of Extant. This is sure to provide encouragement for budding screenwriters.
  • Extant: Filming Season One
    The viewer is treated to a great deal of information about the filmmaking process, the sets, stunts and computer generated effects.
  • Extant: The Cast
    A collection of interviews with the cast, both on and off the set, their processes used to prepare for their roles, and a look at some of the talent involved.
  • The Mythology Of Extant
    A featurette on the world, and predictions of Extant, adding yet more to the other features when talking about developing the show.
  • The Offspring
    A brief overview of The Offspring, the childlike alien brought to planet Earth. This doesn’t add too much to our understanding of the child, but a little insight into how the creators of the show envisioned him.
  • The Future World Of Extant
    The cast and crew share some of their thoughts on creating the future world, set around 40 years from now, for the show. This is sure to be of interest to filmmakers and actors alike, as it provides some helpful insights.
  • The Visual Effects Of Extant
    Best viewed in conjunction with the previews featurette, this provides further insight into how the effects, and future world of Extant were created. Another clip that is sure to be of interest to budding filmmakers.
  • Deleted Scenes On Selected Episodes
    Some scenes that were cut, for various reasons, from certain episodes. These are presented on each disc with the relevant episode.
  • Gag Reel
    Some of the bloopers from the course of filming the show
  • Promotional Clips

 

Extant is available to purchase now in South Africa.

The Remaining: Review

A group of friends are enjoying a wedding reception. Two of them have finally taken the plunge to get married. But soon strange things start to happen, and an apparent apocalyptic event has taken place. These events force them to examine their lives, and their faith, as they make choices in an attempt to survive.

The Remaining is at it’s core, a Christian message, wrapped up as a horror movie. It’s the story of The Rapture, which quick thinking audiences should realise close to the start, before the characters begin discussing the same possibility.

The ‘monsters’ or demons, that are attacking those left on Earth, after the faithful have been taken, are seldom seen, but their unseen menace is not a very strong one. Most of the settings visited by the group of friends are dark, and smoke filled, so there is little revealed.

For those looking to see Alexa PenaVega on screen, she unfortunately spends a lot of her time unconscious and not very communicative, as the other friends argue values, faith and what to do next in order to survive.

The Remaining is mediocre at best, and sadly, could have done a lot more to either thrill or scare audiences, or to try get it’s message across.

For those curious enough, The Remaining opens 27 February 2015 in South Africa.

The Theory Of Everything: Review

Telling the story of world famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, The Theory Of Everything gives us insight into the immense struggle Hawking had to overcome, when at an early age he was diagnosed with ALS and given only two years to live.

Although some aspects of Hawking’s personal life have not made it on to film, the movie does delve into many areas that are likely not known to the general public, coving his time with wife Jane, and her incredible love and support. The film looks at how their marriage had to cope with Hawking’s increasing disability, how he refused to give up, and how each partner eventually looked to someone else to fill the gap left, in their lives, by the disease.

The Theory Of Everything is a charming tale. While it does waver at times, one does not need an understanding of science to follow the story. Technical discussions are kept brief, and merely given an overall view of what Hawking was working on.

The Theory Of Everything opens 27 February 2015 in South Africa.

Doctor Who – Deep Breath (DVD): Review

Main Feature

The first episode of season 8 of this long running, and very popular television series. The timelord, Doctor Who. Introducing Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, guided by his companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). The newly regenerated Doctor finds himself in Victorian London, where there is a dinosaur on the loose and a spate of mysterious d disappearances.

This episode is slightly more comedic in places than some others, as The Doctor becomes accustomed to his new incarnation. Yet, in other areas, it is darker than some of the stories, as we encounter the Half-Face Man, using people as spare parts, in order to extend his own life.

This is a fine way to ease oneself back into another season with The Doctor, a bit of mystery before the pace quickens for the rest of the seasons episodes.

Doctor Who – Deep Breath is sure to excite fans, and entice new ones alike, keeping things Earthbound as The Doctor finds his feet, and allowing us to meet familiar characters again, like Strax and Madam Vastra, yet planting the seed for key part of the story that will run the entire course of this season.

A gentle beginning to an exciting season.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc, as most commercially produced discs, is encoded at a high bitrate, can be scaled up to a larger screen should you desire. Sound is encoded in 5.1 surround, and adds to the immersive feel when viewing, and making good use of the surround speakers.

Bonus features include an intro to Deep Breath, an interesting behind the scenes feature that is sure to appeal to fans and filmmakers alike, and Doctor Who Live showing the live announcement of the next Doctor. Although most fans are sure to know who this is already, one can not help but feel a slight bit of tension as the show goes on.

Doctor Who – Deep Breath is available now, for purchase on disc in South Africa.

American Sniper: Review

The story of Chris Kyle, a U.S. Navy SEAL, and sniper. His personal mission, to protect his brothers-in-arms. As an American Sniper, his pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield, and fuels countless stories of his courageous exploits.

Kyle’s reputation is growing behind enemy lines too, and it is not long before there is a price on his head, and he becomes a prime target for insurgents.

American Sniper is the ‘almost’ true story of these events. Some things have been changed for dramatic effect. Sadly this does not save the film from being self-centred, and the usual hype about America saving the world.

The battle scenes are boring, and do not draw the viewer in. The cinematography is all over the place, and it feels more like an amateur film by college students than a big budget movie with the likes of Clint Eastwood.

One does not find any sort of emotional engagement with the characters. Bradly Cooper and Sienna Miller bring acceptable performances, and these perhaps save the film, but there is no sense of urgency in battle, no sense of the post traumatic stress Kyle must have felt, and most relationships and emotions in the film are somewhat superficial.

There was a ton of hype leading up to the release of the film, and it does not live up to this. Action junkies are likely to enjoy it, as will any warm-blooded, patriotic American. For the rest of us, it’s somewhat hit and miss.

American Sniper opens 20 February 2015, in South Africa.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles On Disc

The “super fun” (Topher Gauk-Roger, CNN), visually-stunning and riotously entertaining blockbuster TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES bursts onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, DVD and VOD December 16, 2014 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. The film arrives three weeks early on Digital HD November 25.

In this eye-popping reimagining of the legendary heroes in a half shell, New York is under attack by the sinister Shredder, but fearless leader Leonardo, brilliant and brainy Donatello, rough and rebellious Raphael and wild and crazy Michelangelo take to the streets to defend their home with the help of intrepid reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and their brilliant sensei, Splinter. Packed with jaw-dropping action and special effects and loaded with the franchise’s signature humor, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is “fun for the whole family” (Joel Amos, Movie Fanatic). The film also stars Will Arnett, Whoopi Goldberg, and William Fichtner and features Johnny Knoxville as the voice of Leonardo and Tony Shalhoub as the voice of Splinter.

The TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray Combo Packs with Digital HD include explorations of the Turtles’ latest incarnations and their sensational appearance in 3D, an extended ending, a look at the making of the hit theme song
“Shell Shocked,” along with the music video and much more. In addition, specially marked Blu-ray Combo Packs include two reversible masks featuring all four signature colors of the beloved crime-fighters. Masks are available only while supplies last and quantities are limited. Select retail outlets will also offer exclusive versions of the Blu-ray with collectible packaging, premiums and more.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Blu-ray Combo Pack

The TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The DVD in the combo pack is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film as well as the following:

Blu-ray

  • Feature film in high definition
  • Digital Reality
  • In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D
  • It Ain’t Easy Being Green
  • Evolutionary Mash-Up
  • Turtle Rock
  • Extended Ending
  • “Shell Shocked” Music Video
  • Making of “Shell Shocked”

DVD

  • Feature film in standard definition

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack

The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack includes all of the above, as well as a Blu-ray 3D presented in 1080p high definition with English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack available for purchase include a Digital Version of the film that can be accessed through UltraViolet™, a way to collect, access and enjoy movies. With UltraViolet, consumers can add movies to their digital collection in the cloud, and then stream or download them—reliably and securely—to a variety of devices.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Single-Disc DVD

The single-disc DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The disc includes the feature film in standard definition.

Freshlyground Join The Project Room Agency

Freshlyground formed in early 2002, and is made up of seven talented and diverse musicians from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Fronted by the diminutive but dynamic Zolani Mahola, the band exudes a live performance energy that has been the bedrock of their success. The experienced rhythm section of Peter Cohen (drums) & Josh Hawks (bass) is complemented by guitarist Julio Sigauque, keyboardist Seredeal Scheepers, Simon Attwell (flute, mbira, sax and harmonica) and violinist Kyla Rose Smith. Although hailing from diverse backgrounds, between them the band’s members weave a musical magic that is highly infectious and undeniably groovy.

In 2003 Freshlyground launched their debut album, Jika Jika under their own Freeground Records label, the immediate success of which firmly cemented the band as one of South Africa’s most successful young acts. Freshlyground released their second studio album Nomvula in July 2004. The album sold 300 000 units in South Africa alone – earning it multi-platinum status. The first single ‘Doo Be Doo’ was the most played song in South Africa in 2005. The success and broad appeal of the band was celebrated in November 2006 when Freshlyground won the MTV Europe Award in the category Best African Act. The award placed the band firmly on the international music map and earned them further recognition on home soil as significant South African cultural exports.

The success of Nomvula was followed by that of Ma Cheri – Freshlyground’s third studio album, released in September 2007. The album’s release was followed by a major South African tour attended by over 25 000 people across four cities. Ma Cheri sold multi platinum in South Africa and the single Pot Belly became another major crossover success. In 2009 Freshlyground did four sold out tours in Europe. They also toured for the first time in China, the United States of America and Canada, making the band one of a handful of South African acts to have a successful and sustainable career both internationally and at home.

In 2010 Freshlyground released the gold selling album ‘Radio Africa.’ The band’s forth studio album broadcast their unique sound, a sound that has turned the seven-piece into one of South Africa’s most treasured acts, to the rest of the continent and the world. While putting the finishing touches to ‘Radio Africa’ in New York in February of 2010 the band was selected to co-perform in the Official Song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Entitled ‘ Waka Waka- This Time For Africa” the song was featured on “Listen Up: The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Album™,”. To date ‘Waka Waka’ has sold well over 3 million singles and reached number #1 on several charts worldwide. The song is the most successful anthem in the history of the FIFA World Cup and has introduced Freshlyground and their music to a host of new fans across the globe.

In 2013 the band released Take me To The Dance in the United States on the Word of Mouth label, this was followed by a US tour which included a show at the prestigious New York venue, The Apollo. The release of the album was immediately followed by a rave review on the popular NPR show, All Things Considered and topped the US ITunes World Music chart. On a recent visit to South Africa in June 2013 during a speech at the University of Cape Town, President Barack Obama cited Freshlyground as an example of what South Africa has given the world.

Yet More Top Presenters For The 87th Oscars

Ben Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Kevin Hart, Shirley MacLaine, Chris Pine, Miles Teller and Naomi Watts will be presenters at this year’s Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

Affleck, a two-time Academy Award® winner, received an Original Screenplay Oscar® for “Good Will Hunting” (1997) and a Best Picture Oscar for “Argo” (2012), on which he served as a producer, director and star. His most recent role was opposite Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl” (2014). He will play Batman in the upcoming feature “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “The Accountant.”

Chastain has received two Oscar nominations, one for Actress in a Leading Role for “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012) and one for Actress in a Supporting Role for “The Help” (2011). Her most recent films include 2014’s “Interstellar,” “A Most Violent Year” and “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.” She will next be seen in “Crimson Peak” and “The Martian.”

Davis has been nominated for two Oscars, one for her supporting role in the 2008 film “Doubt” and one for her leading role in 2011’s “The Help.” She currently stars in the ABC primetime hit “How to Get Away with Murder.” Davis’s film credits include “Get on Up,” “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them,” “Ender’s Game” and “Prisoners.” She will next been seen in “Lila and Eve,” due out this year.

Hart, who currently stars in the feature comedy “The Wedding Ringer,” appeared in last year’s “Ride Along,” “About Last Night,” “Think Like a Man Too” and “Top Five.” His previous credits include “Think Like a Man” (2012) and “The Five-Year Engagement” (2012). He will star opposite Will Ferrell in “Get Hard” later this year.

MacLaine won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for 1983’s “Terms of Endearment.” She also received nominations for her leading roles in “The Turning Point” (1983), “Irma La Douce” (1963) “The Apartment” (1960) and “Some Came Running” (1958), as well for the documentary feature “The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir” (1975), which she produced. Her next role is in “Wild Oats.”

Pine most recently appeared as Cinderella’s Prince in “Into the Woods” (2014). He also has starred in such features as “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (2014), “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013), “People
Like Us” (2012), “Unstoppable” (2010), “Star Trek” (2009) and “Bottle Shock” (2008). His upcoming films include “Z for Zachariah” and “The Finest Hours.”

Teller stars in the current Best Picture nominee “Whiplash.” Later this year, he will appear in the feature “Bleed for This,” as well as “The Fantastic Four.” Teller also appeared in the 2013 film “The Spectacular Now.”

Watts has twice been nominated for Actress in a Leading Role, for “The Impossible” (2012) and “21 Grams” (2003). Her feature credits also include “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2014), “St. Vincent” (2014), “Eastern Promises” (2007), “King Kong” (2005) and “Mulholland Drive” (2001). She will next be seen in the “Divergent” sequel “Insurgent,” While We’re Young,” The Sea of Trees,” and “Demolition.”

The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars, produced by Zadan and Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Lady Gaga To Perform At The 87th Oscars

Six-time Grammy®-winning singer and songwriter Lady Gaga will make a special tribute performance at the 87th Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

“Lady Gaga is a once in a lifetime artist who’s musical evolution keeps growing. We are proud to have her perform on the Oscars for the very first time,” says Zadan and Meron.

Since breaking in 2008, Lady Gaga has sold over 27 million albums, 130 million singles, and over 4 million tickets globally to her award-winning live performances. Lady Gaga has won a total of 6 Grammy Awards – her most recent this week for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Cheek To Cheek, her 2014 collaboration with Tony Bennett which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars, produced by Zadan and Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

An Impressive List Of Presenters For The 87th Oscars

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Evans, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Lopez, Chloë Grace Moretz, Eddie Murphy and Margot Robbie will be presenters at this year’s Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

Ejiofor received his first Oscar® nomination last year for his lead performance in “12 Years a Slave.” He previously appeared in such features as “Salt” (2010), “American Gangster” (2007), “Children of Men” (2006) and “Dirty Pretty Things” (2003). His upcoming films include “Z for Zachariah” and “Triple Nine.”

Evans made his directorial debut in Toronto this year with “Before We Go.” He starred in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” reprising the role of the patriotic superhero he played in “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) and “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012). His other film credits include “Snowpiercer” (2014), “Puncture” (2011), “Sunshine” (2007) and “Fantastic Four” (2005). He will appear next in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Johnson will star in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which opens this month. She’s appeared in such hits as “The Five-Year Engagement,” “21 Jump Street” and “The Social Network.” Johnson will next be seen in the upcoming films “A Bigger Splash” and “Black Mass.”

Lopez can currently be seen in the thriller “The Boy Next Door.” Her other feature credits include “An Unfinished Life” (2005), “Monster in Law” (2005), “The Wedding Planner” (2001) and “Out of Sight” (1998). She stars opposite Viola Davis in “Lila & Eve,” which premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival and she will voice ‘Lucy’ in the upcoming animated film “Home.”

Moretz most recently starred in “Dark Shadows” (2012), “The Equalizer” (2014) and “If I Stay” (2014). She previously appeared in such features as “Carrie” (2013), “Hugo” (2011), “Kick-Ass” (2010) and “Let Me In” (2010). She will next appear in “The Fifth Wave.”

Murphy received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in the 2006 film “Dreamgirls.” He has starred in such features as “Bowfinger” (1999), “The Nutty Professor” (1996), “Coming to America” (1988), “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984) and “48 Hrs.” (1982), and has lent his voice talents to all four of the “Shrek” animated features to date. He will next be seen in the independent drama “Cook.”

Robbie is best known for her breakout role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013) and can next be seen starring in Warner Bros’ “Focus.” She is currently in production on Paramount’s “Untitled Tina Fey Project.” Her upcoming films include “Z for Zachariah,” “Tarzan” and “Suicide Squad.”

The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars, produced by Zadan and Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.