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dvd / blu-ray Review

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.

Categories
Film Review

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.

Categories
Film Review

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.

Categories
dvd / blu-ray

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.

Categories
Film Review

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.