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dvd / blu-ray Review

X-Men: Apocalypse (DVD): Review

Film

X-Men: Apocalypse, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as we join the heroes, the world’s first mutant has re-emerged, the aptly named world-destroyer Apocalypse. Now, with the fate of all humanity at stake, the X-Men must unite to defeat his plan for the extinction of mankind.

Beginning in ancient times, the film gives a brief prologue detailing Apocalypse’s drive and desires, and then moving to present day where we join the team of X-Men. Positioned after the events of First Class and Days of Future Past. While there are several references, and connections back to these films, X-Men: Apocalypse can stand on its own, should one not have seen the others.

The film is certainly energetic, spending less time on character development (as covered in the previous two, mentioned above) and more time on the story and action. And as far as action goes, the effects are rather awe inspiring. Coupled with good an engrossing plot (and a small dose of tongue-in-cheek humour) viewers are sure to be enthralled.

A not too complex plot means that one is not looking for huge twists in the tale. A sure fire hit for the whole family.

Disc

Bonus content on the disc is a bit more than one normally finds on a DVD these days, and great to have the added bonus of a commentary. While not a large amount of extras, these are good.

Technically, the disc is of a high quality.

X-Men: Apocalypse is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Colours are vibrant, with good detail in darker scenes. There is no colour bleed noticeable.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio on the disc is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. It is encoded at a high average bitrate.

Ample use is made of the surround channels, expanding the on-screen action, and further drawing the viewer in to the action, and aiding in positional awareness in large and chaotic scenes. Dialogue is clear via the centre channel.

Navigation

Navigation is simple and easy to use. For areas such as the gallery, detailed instructions are given, along with options to advance manually through images, or to have them play automatically as a slideshow.

Background on the menus is a static image, with music, saving space on the disc for more bonus features, and for not having to compress the main feature more than is necessary.

Bonus Features

Gag Reel: A short feature with a few of the laughs shared by cast and crew on-set, during filming. While short, there are a few genuinely funny moments.

Audio Commentary by Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg: An insight into the filmmaking process by writer / director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg. Informative insight into the creative process, delving into what it took to make such a film. This will delight fans and filmmakers alike.

Gallery: A categorized plethora of concept art, photos, stills from pre-production and filming. Each set in it’s own submenu. These are best viewed on a modern screen, so as not to lose any detail. Definitely one that fans will enjoy.

 

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dvd / blu-ray Film Review

Monster High (DVD): Review

Film

Based on the American fashion doll franchise, by Mattel, with characters inspired by monster movies, science fiction horror and some thriller fiction, the various characters appear in their very own origin movie, Welcome To Monster High.

Draculaura (Debi Derryberry) is a monster, living in a large abandoned house with her father, Dracula (Michael Sorich). She longs to connect with the ‘normal’ world When she has a chance encounter with Frankie Stein (Cassandra Morris), a fellow monster, her life turns in a new direction. Together the two friends have a dream of creating a place where monsters can live and learn, side-by-side. They create Monster High.

A school needs students, and Monster High is no different, so Draculaura and Frankie set about the task of finding other monsters, near and far. Recruitment is not without its trials and tribulations. While most monsters they encounter are friendly, and love the idea of Monster High, when the students encounter Moanica D’kay (Cristina Milizia), they soon learn not everyone has the same positive outlook, and desire to mingle with ‘normies’ or humans. Moanica has plans to take what she wants, and she has a zombie army to help do her bidding.

Monster High is a film for younger viewers. The simplistic animation, while detailed, with vibrant colours and lively characters, will ensure that the monsters portrayed are not frightening to the little ones. The story is straightforward, and easy to follow, with a lesson on friendship and working together. Interspersed with some funny, cute antics, and some musical numbers, the story and characters are sure to keep children enthralled. The film is also not too long in length, so that more easily distracted, or restless children should become bored sitting too long.

While not much of the story is aimed at adults, it is not excruciating to watch. Short in length, and not needing too much thought to follow the plot, this is a wholesome story, so older viewers will be saved when sitting at watching the film with the younger generation. The film does carry a PG rating, but a bit of context and supervision are always a good idea.

Monster High is a story with a good dose of entertainment, a light helping of music, and a lesson to boot. Sure to be loved by younger children, and those who have ever seen the show on TV.

Disc

Though lacking in any additional features of note, technically the disc is of decent quality.

Monster High is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on-screen. Colours are vibrant, and owing to the nature of the film animation, there are lots of bright pinks and greens throughout.

Viewers with the relevant hardware or software could scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with ample use of the surrounds. There are a few sections with musical numbers, pushing this through the front speakers. Dialogue is clear via the centre channel.

Navigation

Navigation is basic, with static menu screens. However, there are buttons on the main menu that are merely symbols, and technophobic or younger viewers will likely struggle with these. Simply put, the triangle is to play the main feature. The others allow you to choose, in order, between, chapters, bonus feature, audio selection and subtitle collection.

Bonus Features

Ever After High: Dragon Games – The Ever After High fashion dolls appear in this feature, based on characters from fairy and fantasy stories. The short is not the same computer animation as Monster High, but relies more on the old hand drawn look. Part of the greater Ever After High series, this special sees the return of dragons and the Evil Queen to Ever After High, and leading to the most epic competition and evil scheme yet, with Raven and Apple needing to let go of any conflict between them, in order to save their beloved school.

 

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Irrational Man (DVD): Review

Film

Abe (Joaquin Phoenix – Her), a tormented philosophy professor starts teaching at a new university. He has no zest for life, and begins a complicated relationship with one of his students, Jill (Emma Stone – Magic in the Moonlight). Soon a chance encounter propels Abe to commit an existential act, and the debate of right and wrong ensues, as he and Jill wrestle with their relationship, emotions and morals.

Written and directed by Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine), Irrational Man is saturated with enough layers of symbolism, and promotes a great amount of debate. It is a lesson in philosophical thinking, from the character debates and actions, to the construction so the scenes, the camera moves that languish on a character and reach in to their soul. The cinematography of a Woody Allen film is as much a character as the others in the film, providing a voyeuristic insight for the viewer.

Top notch acting, which is to be expected of such a cast. From Abe, who becomes tiresome with his eternal moping, and the eventual elevation of his inner-energy as he discovers his new purpose, to Jill with her free spirit and hint of hippie student. The two main characters have a connection that varies throughout the film, charting each individuals point in their life as they fight the inner turmoil that perturbs them.

Irrational Man is not a film to sit back and just watch. It promotes thought, it questions, and challenges the viewer to do the same. Woody Allen films are known for long dramatic discussions between characters, and this is no exception, putting the weight of story on character as apposed to effects, as many others do. There are no major plot twists, as there is little to try predict in the film. We are voyeurs watching the lives of others, in secret.

Sit back and enjoy with those you are close to, as Irrational Man is a journey, of questions, emotion and life, hinting at it’s great moments and tragedies, and a chance to enjoy some entertainment along the way, as a person strives towards their self actualisation. Good on all fronts of acting, directing and story.

Disc

Overall, the disc is very basic, with just the main feature and a few trailers. Technically, the disc is of good quality.

Irrational Man is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate. There is no bleed between colours. Blacks are deep in the darker scenes, maintaining their detail. There are no visible artefacts on screen.

Viewers with the relevant hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, with a 2.0 downmix. These are encoded a high average bitrate.

Given the genre of the film, there is not extensive use of the surround channels, however, some scenes do use these to great effect to expand the on-screen action and further draw the viewer in to the story.

Dialogue is clear via the centre channel.

Navigation

Navigation is a simple menu with options to play the main feature, for chapter selection (leading to sub-menus with motion thumbnails and chapter numbers, with no description), and an audio menu to select between 5.1 or 2.0 audio.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus features, apart from trailers for The Keeping Room, Truth, and Modder En Bloed at the beginning of the disc. These can be fast forwarded, but lack the facility to skip to the next trailer.

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dvd / blu-ray Review

Ratchet & Clank (DVD): Review

Film

The duo of Ratchet and Clank, from the PlayStation universe, now with their story committed to a film of its own. And as game to screen conversions go, this is one that made the transition in style.

The evil Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) is giving a bad guy speech to his followers, the Blarg, as they prepare to blow up an abandoned planet. Drek catches one of his goons texting, and he orders his robot henchman, Victor Von Ion (Sylvester Stallone) to deal with it. Victor responds by eating the goon’s phone. The villains then proceed to obliterate the planet.

Cue Ratchet, a young Lombax who idolises the Galactic Rangers. And as luck would have it, they are holding try-outs for a new member, right in his town. The Galactic Rangers are made up of personalities Cora (Bella Thorne), Brax (Vincent Tong), Elaris (Rosario Dawson), and their leader, the beloved Captain Quark (Jim Ward).

As part of Drek’s evil plans, and a manufacturing mistake, we get the very polite robot Clank (David Kaye) manufactured by mad scientist Dr. Nefarious (Armin Shimerman).

It is not long before this evil presents itself, and not just planets, but the whole galaxy is now at stake, and we are off on a fun filled adventure. An adventure that is both entertaining for young and old, engrossing in it’s simple yet satisfying storyline, and all round attention to detail, in both character and story.

Ratchet and Clank is a very entertaining story; fast paced, yet easy to follow whether you have seen the game or now. A lot of fun, with light hearted comedy, adventure and a whole lot of space-action to boot.

Disc

Ratchet & Clank is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Colour are vibrant, with no bleed. Blacks are deep, but maintain their detail.

Viewers with the necessary hardware or software could upscale to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate. The surround channels are used to great effect, and dialogue is clear via the centre channel. The soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

Navigation

Navigation is easy to follow, with background animation and clips from the film (without spoiling the story), and accompanied by music.

There are options for scene selections, leading to a submenu, and an option for setup, where you can pick your language and audio mix.

Bonus Features

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc.

Categories
dvd / blu-ray Review

Mother’s Day (DVD): Review

Film

Mother’s Day, that one day a year, when it’s all about moms. An ensemble of talent bringing to life several generations for the week leading up to Mother’s Day. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston – We’re The Millers), Henry (Timothy Olyphant), Miranda (Julia Roberts – Secret In Their Eyes), Jesse (Kate Hudson), Bradley (Jason Sudeikis – Angry Birds), Kimberly (Loni Love – Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2) all come together as their lives and quests for love intersect, as they stumble along on life’s journey.

With so many different issues to deal with in family life these days, from a spouse passing, so inter-racial marriage, gay couples and the acceptance of these variations by society at large, the film takes the opportunity to poke fun at the awkwardness and political correctness (or lack thereof) that people suffer each day, in a bid to hold on to their respective beliefs, or abide by societal norms.

Mother’s Day is a heartwarming story. While it does well on the subject of the need for love a bit at times, it drives its message home towards the end. A slow start, that eventually picks up, bringing a smile, and a few good laughs.

Not a laugh-a-minute comedy, with a few rather awkward situations, but viewers are sure to relate, if not in deed, then at least in empathy. The straight forward plot line leaves little room for twists and turns, but with so many characters, nuances, and chance encounters to keep track of, this is most likely a blessing in disguise.

A fun, lighthearted peek at a bunch of families, and how they try to overcome, stick together, and above all, share their love with one another. Mother’s Day is a film for those who enjoy a bit of the romantic side, as well as anyone looking for a bit of a laugh. Best of all, it’s a film to enjoy with the family, whatever their differences may be.

Disc

Mother’s Day is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.

A very basic disc, containing the main feature, and nothing else. The technical quality of the film is pretty decent.

Video

Video is encoded at a high bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Colours are vibrant, with no colour bleed. Blacks are deep, and retain their detail in darker scenes.

Viewers with the relevant hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they wish.

Audio

There is a choice of Dolby Surround (giving a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack) or Dolby Stereo (giving a downmix of 2.0 channels). These are accessed via the setup menu on the disc.

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate. Dialogue is clear (especially when selecting the 5.1 mix, and using the centre channel).

Navigation

Navigation is easy to understand, and use, with only a few options, namely to play the main feature, setup which soundtrack to use, or a scene selection submenu, which provides stills from scenes.

These are rather small, desaturated thumbnails, so would likely be a bit difficult to figure exactly what scene they would lead to, especially on smaller screens.

Bonus Features

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc.