March 25, 2015

IMAX Island of Lemurs: Madagascar Blu-ray Review


Captured with IMAX 3D cameras, “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” takes audiences on a spectacular journey to the remote and wondrous world of Madagascar, where lemurs arrived millions of years ago as castaways. They’ve since evolved into hundreds of diverse species, but are now highly endangered.

“Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” highlights the tireless efforts of trailblazing scientist Dr. Patricia C. Wright and her lifelong mission to help these strange and adorable creatures survive in the modern world. Joining David Douglas once again behind the scenes are editor Beth Spiegel, co-producer Diane Roberts, and composer Mark Mothersbaugh. Songs are by Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo & Tarika.


The Lemurs (Lemuriformes) of Madagascar have lived on this Earth since the age of the Dinosaur and have grown on this beautiful island for millions of years. With humans destroying more of the planet's natural resources these adorable and peculiar creatures existence is now being threatened. Dr. Patricia Wright is at the forefront in studying and trying to protect the Lemurs of Madagascar.

Running at a a fast 41 minutes this IMAX film stays to the tried and true formula of educating while showing the cuteness of some of the world's most amazing creatures. The Lemurs are entertaining, especially the way they jump and dance. Morgan Freeman's narration draws the viewer in. Young children to adults should find this film to be enjoyable though in my opinion some of the more educational bits are simplified for a younger audience. 8/10


IMAX Island of Lemurs: Madagascar arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 - Colors are vibrant and pop with lush greens, crisp whites, and shades of brown, white and grey in the Lemurs fur. Black levels were deep. The overall image is striking in it's clarity and overhead shots of the island are breathtaking. Fine detail in the creatures fur is clearly defined. No issues to speak of. 9/10


Audio is provided by a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. - Starting with narration from Morgan Freeman the dialogue was consistently crisp and clear with nice heft in the center channel for Freeman's distinct voice. The overall sense of environment was good and there are moments you could close your eyes and feel like you were there on the island. The music is spread through all channels and perfectly balanced in the mix. No anomalies were heard 8.5/10


* Making of Island of Lemurs (HD, 4min49sec)

* Behind the Scenes (HD, 2min20sec)

* The Story of Lemurs (HD, 5min43sec)

* Meet Patricia Wright (HD, 3min38sec)

* A Baby Indri (HD, 2min12sec)

* Five Things About Indri (HD, 2min15sec)

* The Cutest Lemur (HD, 1min42sec)

* Go-Kart Racers (HD, 2min2sec)

March 15, 2015

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Blu-ray Review


If it’s laughter you’re after, get ready for the most hilarious night ever! Ben Stiller leads an all-star comedy cast, including Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Rebel Wilson and Ricky Gervais, for one final, fun-filled Night at the Museum. This time, Larry Daley (Stiller) and his heroic friends embark on their greatest adventure yet as they travel to London in order to save the magic that brings the museum exhibits to life!


Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 - Color reproduction is excellent with lush reds, striking gold, natural earth tones and crisp silver. Flesh tones appear natural. Blacks were solid and deep. Fine detail in historical characters costuming and armor looks breathtaking. Every little rivet, etching and texture of fabric is on display. No signs of tinkering or artifacts to be speak of.9/10


Audio is provided by a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. - A dynamic performer. Deep bass was felt throughout, with the hulking giants of the natural history and London museums destroying everything in their path .Dialogue was crystal clear and was easily heard even over the loudest moments. The musical score from Alan Silvestri is beautifully represented in the mix and fills the listening area. Surround activity was impressive and created a good sense of immersion. 9/10


* Audio Commentary by Director Shawn Levy

* Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 14min)

* The Theory of Relativity (HD, 12min9sec) - A solid featurette that looks at the work that went into achieving the M.C Escher sequence.

* Becoming Laaa (HD, 7min24sec) - A fun look at the hilarious caveman version of Stiller's character.

* A Day in the Afterlife (HD, 16min26sec) - Looking at the inclusion of new characters.

* The Home of History: Behind the Scenes of The British Museum (HD, 21min24sec) - A really nice and informative look at the on location filming of the magnificent British Museum.

* Fight at the Museum (HD, 6min22sec) - A look at one of the more interesting duels.

* Creating Visual Effects (HD, 3min10sec) - A quick look at the films impressive visual effects.

* Improv, Absurdity and Cracking Up - The Comedy of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (HD, 8min)

* Two Galleries (HD, 2min) - A collection that includes Pre-Vis and Photos.

March 14, 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Blu-ray Review


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings to an epic conclusion the adventure of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the Company of Dwarves. The Dwarves of Erebor have reclaimed the vast wealth of their homeland, but now must face the consequences of having unleashed the terrifying Dragon, Smaug, upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.

As he succumbs to dragon-sickness, the King Under the Mountain, Thorin Oakenshield, sacrifices friendship and honor in search for the legendary Arkenstone. Unable to help Thorin see reason, Bilbo is driven to make a desperate and dangerous choice, not knowing that even greater perils lie ahead. An ancient enemy has returned to Middle-earth. Sauron, the Dark Lord, has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.

As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends as five great armies go to war.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies arrives on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, 2-Disc DVD Special Edition and Digital HD on March 24th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment


The Battle of the Five Armies is a thrilling finish to the Hobbit trilogy of films. Peter Jackson and the folks at Weta deliver an all out assault of the senses for at least half of the films run time of 2 &1/2 hours. We begin right where The Desolation of Smaug left off with Smaug destroying Lake Town and the brave Bard taking action. There is a bout a half hour slowdown after that shows the dragon sickness for gold and treasure that has overtaken the heart and mind of Thorin. Friends and enemies arrive to claim Erebor and the ensuing battle between Orcs, Men, Dwarves, Elves and one very brave Hobbit is a stunner that hardly lets up for well over an hour. The only downtime is the struggle that is going on within Thorin's mind and once he breaks free and rekindles bond with his kin it is non stop action with the consequences being an end to the epic battle and the loss of some important characters. The cgi on display is fluid and breathtaking.

The best sequence in the entire film and save for the Gollum scene in The Unexpected Journey the best in the trilogy is a 4 minute scene that takes place in Dol Guldur. Gandalf is saved by Galadriel, Lord Elrond and Saruman. They are confronted by the ghosts of the 9 who become the Ringwraiths in the LOTR. The battle between good and evil is brilliant and then we get a glimpse of the Dark Lord Sauron who threatens the East will fall and Angmar will rise again. Galadriel thankfully is able to banish them for the time being but we all know decades later that Sauron's powere will build and rise again, this time in Mordor. It is an effective and haunting scene of what is to come in Middle-earth.

The cast is perfect in their roles and I really can't imagine anyone else as Gandalf other than Ian McKellen. Martin Freeman was the standout of the trilogy for me, he is at the start a homebody who would rather stare at his books then venture outdoors but once he begins his journey as a "burgular" for the company of Thorin he becomes a much braver Hobbit who in comparison to Frodo is much less whiney and more ready to take the initiative. The films ends with Bilbo on his 111th birthday going over maps when a very dear friend knocks on the door. 9/10


The Battle of the Five Armies arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1 - The look of the final chapter completes the darker tone of the second film but don't let that fool you. Colors range from cold whites and grays to brilliant gold tones and fiery deep oranges and reds from the hell that the dragon Smaug unleashes. The final minutes of the film pops off the screen with lush greens of the Shire, earth tones in dresses and velvet coats and almost every color in the rainbow during the auction of Bilbo's possessions. Black levels were inky deep with excellent shadow delineation in the halls of Erebor. The fine craftsmanship and fine details in armor and weaponry is stunning to look at. The image is basically flawless in it's clarity and depth. No signs of edge enhancement or noise. This is a treasure for fans. 10/10


Audio is provided by a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. - Just as perfect as the video presentation the audio is one big moment after another of demo worthy material. Dialogue was consistently clear and intelligible , even during battle voices are clearly defined. Surrounds provide a sense of immersion that is realistic and help the viewer feel like they are on the battlefield. LFE performance is epic. Precise and deep , low bass will rattle you to the core when the foul creatures of Gundabad are unleashed. Buildings and rock walls crumble and crash down with a furious presence. Driving all the action on screen is the beautiful score by Howard Shore. The music breathes through all 7 channels and is never drowned out of the mix by some of the more intense sound effects. I can't find a fault in this presentation and give it a perfect score of 10/10.


The special features included are informative enough and includes some nice behind-the-scenes- moments with cast and crew on location. While a commentary would have been welcome we all know that the Extended Edition available later this year is the on that will be filled to the brim with several hours of features and commentaries.


* New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth, Part 3 (HD, 6min7sec) - From Lake Pukaki to Mt. Crawford, the cast and crew introduce the epic film locations of New Zealand, transformed by the filmmakers into Middle-earth.


* Recruiting the Five Armies (HD, 11min39sec) - Experience what it was like to be recruited to play Dwarves, Elves, Men and Orcs on set for The Battle of the Five Armies epic battle sequences.

* Completing Middle-earth - (HD, Play All option 19min59sec)

- A Six-Part Saga (HD, 9min54sec) - A look at the narrative threads and connections the filmmakers wove into The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies to make them one complete, cohesive story.

- A Seventeen-Year Journey (HD, 8min59sec) - This companion piece to A Six-Part Saga follows the 17-year journey the filmmakers undertook to bring Middle-earth to the screen-not just once, but twice.

* The Last Goodbye: Behind the Scenes (HD, 11min18sec) - A look at the writing and recording of the final end credit song for the Middle-earth films, performed by LOTR alum Billy Boyd.

* The Last Goodbye Music Video (HD, 4min21sec)

* Credits (HD, 1min31sec)

* Theatrical Trailer #2 (HD, 2min33sec)

* The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Extended Edition Trailer (HD, 1min34sec)

March 13, 2015

Sesame Street: The Best of Elmo 3 DVD Review


Elmo fans will love this new DVD where everyone’s favorite furry and red friend is reminded of all the fun, friends and music he’s made on Sesame Street. Join Elmo as he does “The Elmo Slide,” finds out about “The Power of Yet" with Janelle Monae, and sings about the number 5 with the band Train. Elmo learns about counting, vocabulary and even how manage his emotions in the hit song, “Belly Breathe” with Colbie Caillat and Common. This special collection is filled with Elmo moments fans will treasure. As an added extra, this release features a special bonus title which will provide over two hours of Elmo!

This trip down memory lane will teach Elmo fans both young and old about the importance of friendship and helping others. Elmo sings and dances his way through numbers, letters, vocabulary, and emotions with his Sesame Street pals and a few famous friends like Melissa McCarthy, Taye Diggs, Drew Brees, Romeo Santos, and many more!


This latest collection of Elmo clips will hold the attention of the young and young at heart. The musical numbers are fun and Elmo is just as adorable as ever , the same can be said for rest of his fellow furry friends. The celebrity participants are varied and more than a few of them look super excited to be a part of the beloved series and hang out with Elmo. 8.5/10


The Best of Elmo 3 arrives on DVD with a 480 transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 - Colors are bright and cheerful. The red fur on Elmo looks great. Black levels were solid. The textures of fur and clothing on Sesame Street characters and there human friends were detailed and sharply defined. 8/10


Audio is provided by a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. - Elmo has a bit of a squeaky young child voice and it is presented with good clarity here. The musical numbers exhibit nice stereo separation. 7.5/10


* "The Little Furry Red Monster Parade" story

* "Elmo and Abby's Birthday Fun" full length feature