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  • Home Video Highlights: DuckTales: Woo-oo! (2017) & Tangled: The Series - Queen for a Day (2017) Reviews

                          

    DuckTales: Woo-oo! (2017): 30 years later, Disney XD revives one of the original Disney Afternoon’s cherished properties with DuckTales.  Based on Carl Banks’ iconic comic strips, DuckTales: Woo-oo! finds clumsy Donald Duck leaving his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie with his Uncle Scrooge while attending a job interview.  Unimpressed with their elderly family member, the triplets are introduced to the young Webby Vanderquack who reveals the many adventures conquered and relics secured by McDuck.  After accidentally unleashing and daringly recapturing evil spirits within the mansion, Scrooge’s sense of adventure is awakened and rounds up his young spectators to recover the Lost Jewel of Atlantis.  Confronted with his nemesis Flintheart Glomgold who is also after the jewel and aided by a clueless Donald, hilarity and excitement ensue in this phenomenal pilot installment to its equally strong first season.  Led by spot-on vocal work by David Tennant (Doctor Who, Jessica Jones) as Scrooge McDuck, exceptional animation and a newly recorded cover of the memorable 80s theme song, DuckTales: Woo-oo!, accompanied by 6 “Welcome to Duckburg” bonus shorts and Sneak Peeks at Disney Movie Rewards, DisneyNOW and Disneynature’s Dolphins, is a splashing good time for fans of all ages.

    Available now on DVD from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, DuckTales: Woo-oo! can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    RATING: 4.5/5      

    Tangled: The Series - Queen for a Day (2017): In this epic hour-long episode, Tangled: The Series - Queen for a Day finds Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) looking over the kingdom while her parents take a royal getaway.  Overwhelmed with her role as acting queen and each decision for the kingdom backfiring, Rapunzel is faced with a dire winter storm that pits her parents in mortal danger while young Varian’s pleas to aid his father who is being encased by the recent uprising of mysterious spiky rock formations fall on deaf ears, making Rapunzel’s test run at leading the kingdom her hardest challenge to date.  Perhaps the most dramatic installment of the series to date with its enchanting, brushstroke-like animation continuing to be a feast for the eyes plus, four “Inside the Journal” Shorts as well as the same recycled Sneak Peeks as its fellow animated DisneyXD release, Tangled: The Series - Queen for a Day is a magical highpoint for the longhaired fairy tale saga.

    Available now on DVD from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Tangled: The Series - Queen for a Day can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

    RATING: 4/5

       

  • Slasher: Season One Blu-ray Review

    Slasher: Season One 

    Director: Craig David Wallace

    Starring: Katie McGrath, Brandon Jay McLaren, Steve Byers, Dean McDermott & Wendy Crewson

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    30 years after her parents were brutally slain, Slasher finds Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath, Jurassic World) and her husband Dylan (Brandon Jay McLaren, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil) returning to her hometown of Waterbury when a series of copycat murders begin occurring.  With each victim’s death centered around one of the seven deadly sins, the identity of The Executioner comes into question as the original killer remains behind bars.  With the sleepy community’s body count rising, dark secrets of those closest to Sarah are brought to light making everyone a potential suspect.

    Descending from the northern region that bred such classics as My Bloody Valentine and Prom Night, Slasher rewards fans of body count pictures with a contemporary model that adheres to the beloved tropes of its influences while taking advantage of its episodic narrative to concoct a mysteriously geared plot and multi-layered characters.  Headlined by rising newcomer Katie McGrath whose Irish accent sneaks its way into many a episodes, Sarah Bennett’s return to her hometown of Waterbury is met with promise before slowly unraveling when a new series of murders takes place modeled after the seven deadly sins.  Racially and sexually diverse, Sarah’s friends and fellow townspeople including gay couple Justin (Mark Ghanimé, Helix) and Robin (Christopher Jacot, Rogue), her husband’s boss and publisher of the Waterbury Bulletin Alison Sutherland (Mayko Nguyen, Cracked) and the incarcerated Tom Winston (Patrick Garrow, Poltergeist) responsible for the murder of Sarah’s parents all become targets of the blade-wielding Executioner.  Shortly after surviving her own brush with the masked murderer, Sarah’s investigation into her past reveals unsavory secrets and deeply buried skeletons in the closet that paint a disturbing picture of the parents she never knew.  Determined to learn the truth regarding her parents and insight into who may be responsible for the new killings, Sarah relies on visits with Tom Winston to pave the way to answers.  Meanwhile, Sarah’s husband Dylan, serving as editor-in-chief of the local paper is conflicted when his own journalistic drive for a career making story unveils a series of lies pertaining to his relationship with his wife.  

    Notably influenced by John Carpenter’s Halloween and modern cult favorite It Follows, Slasher boasts a sometimes overabundant cast of characters, each with their own dark secrets that luckily all pay off with unexpected plot twists, intensely graphic demises or both.  Starring a cast of predominant Canucks, Dean McDermott (Power Play), impressively bouncing back from reality television hogwash, appears as Waterbury’s corrupt police chief and delivers the standout performance of the series showcasing the Toronto native’s diverse chops.  Creatively overseen by Creator/Writer Aaron Martin (The Best Years) and Director Craig David Wallace (Todd and the Book of Pure Evil), Slasher’s quality standards are evident in its plotting and suspense-driven jolts that never shy from cutting limbs off victims or showcasing a particularly unsettling drug overdose to make their violent points yet, gore never remains the primary focus for this tightly crafted whodunit.  Marking the Chiller Network’s first original program, Slasher may be horror’s closest answer to HBO’s True Detective with its small-town murder spree revived decades later where characters, many of whom corrupted by various factors, are hardly what they appear to be.  A fine melding of mystery, scandal and murder, Slasher may have minor setbacks namely its killer’s motivations but, its pros strongly outweigh its cons.

    Scream Factory presents Slasher with 1080p transfers, sporting 1.78:1 aspect ratios.  Presenting its eight episode debut season across two discs, black levels appear soundly inky with detail sharply evident in The Executioner’s leather hood while, skin tones look lush and natural.  Meanwhile, colors found in wardrobe choices and the show’s many blood splattering moments pop exceptionally well allowing for a respectably solid high-definition presentation for a modern series of its ilk.  Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes, dialogue never suffers and is consummately projected with the series’ more climactic areas involving stalking sequences, frightened screams, gunshots and police sirens making effective statements.  In addition, optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes are also provided on each episode.  Although brief, the sole Behind the Scenes (14:59) featurette provides a decent general overview of the series’ making with the majority of the headlining cast on hand for interviews plus, Creator Aaron Martin and Series Director Craig David Wallace discuss the show’s influences ranging from John Carpenter and Brian De Palma to Dario Argento.

    Hitting a home run with their first slice of original content, Chiller Network’s Slasher takes obvious cues from its 70s and 80s influences while spearheading a modern mystery brought to life by a diverse pool of onscreen talent and ripe with some of television’s most grisly gore.  Basking in an era of top-quality, small screen frights, Slasher may be the new killer on the block but cuts to the point with its terrifying and scandalous turns leaving viewers glued.  In only their second television series acquisition to date, Scream Factory has made a razor-sharp call adding this acclaimed newcomer to their ever-growing catalog, one that horror hounds will surely find much to chomp into.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available July 12th from Scream Factory, Slasher: Season One can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean 25th Anniversary Collection DVD Review

    Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean

    Director(s): Various

    Starring: Rowan Atkinson

    Released by: Shout! Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Celebrating 25 years since its original debut, Mr. Bean returns with all 14 episodes, fully remastered and bursting with bonus content, courtesy of Fabulous Films.  In this landmark British series, comedic genius Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English) stars as the dim-witted Mr. Bean who finds himself in the perils of everyday situations gone hilariously wrong.  Child-like and loaded with physical humor, Mr. Bean would become an instant hit in the United Kingdom before reaching worldwide success and award recognition for its awkwardly lovable protagonist.

    Mum on dialogue and basked in slapstick comedy akin to Chaplin or Keaton, Mr. Bean captures audiences with its innocent approach of a buffoonish character caught in one embarrassing situation after another.  Rowan Atkinson commands the role of the jacket and tie wearing mute with perfect comedic timing that breaks the chains of language barriers and delivers one of comedies most hysterical creations.  Whether Mr. Bean is struggling to take an exam, swimming in the local pool or simply eating a sandwich in the park, issues arise that only Atkinson’s awkward delivery can weed Mr. Bean out of.  Its simple set ups and reoccurring gags including, a knee-slapping feud with a blue Regal Supervan that normally meets a crushing fate courtesy of Mr. Bean, is one of the many pleasures that keeps viewers overwhelmed with laughter.  As a man with the personality of a child, Mr. Bean finds friendship in his appropriately named teddy bear, Teddy, and taps into the relatable and downright comical scenarios of falling asleep during Mass and trying to remain calm during a particularly scary film.  Coasting along in most episodes in his miniaturized vehicle, Mr. Bean rarely needs words to convey his frustrations and enthusiasm with goofball mannerisms and excellent straight men allowing Atkinson’s comedic force to burst off the screen with even greater impact.

    Airing for what seems like a shockingly short episode count, Mr. Bean ran for an impressive five years on the UK’s ITV network before, catapulting to worldwide success that would net the comedic gem countless, well deserved awards including, the Rose d’Or.  A short-lived animated series and two feature films would follow to much financial and critical success cementing Mr. Bean’s status as an icon of comedy.  While, Atkinson has flirted with the notion of retiring his beloved character in recent years, Mr. Bean remains the performer’s greatest success with his moronic innocence and delightful physical abilities that continue to keep audiences in stitches.  A quarter century old, Mr. Bean is a timeless gem of nonstop laughs that perfectly encapsulates the unwavering charm of slapstick shenanigans, wonderfully realized by Atkinson’s unstoppable talent.

    Fabulous Films presents all 14 episodes of Mr. Bean digitally remastered and sporting a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.  A suitable boost in quality from their original broadcast, Mr. Bean still shows signs of its inherent video source but, hardly disappoints with a clean picture, adequate colors and no signs of wear and tear to speak of.  Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, Mr. Bean, although scant on dialogue, still offers audible levels leaving nothing in the dust while, its prominent laugh track comes across strong with viewers’ own laughter most assuredly drowning it out.  Graciously celebrating its 25th anniversary, special features run aplenty with Missing Scenes including “Turkey Weight” (1:29), “Armchair Sale” (2:57), “Marching” (0:42) and “Playing with Matches” (0:37).  In addition, The Story of Mr. Bean  Documentary (39:57) finds Rowan Atkinson and other key talent discuss the genesis of the character and the success of the popular series.  Plus, Never Before Seen-On-TV Sketches for “Bus Stop” (5:45) and “Library” (9:30) are included along with, The Best Bits of Mr. Bean (71:47), a Mr. Bean: The Animated Series Trailer (0:49) and a 7-page episode guide with accompanying stills rounding out the supplemental offerings.

    Influenced by the silent film stars of yesteryear, Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean is a modern day response that is equally timeless and hilarious as those before him.  The clumsy actions and physical hijinks that ensue in their aftermath have established Mr. Bean as a bonafide gem of comedy that continues to tickle the funny bones of audiences everywhere since its debut in 1990.  Fabulous Films' digitally remastered collection of all things Bean greatly improves from the original broadcasts, preserving the iconic show for another 25 years of ripe discovery and endless revisiting.  Released in conjunction with pop culture enthusiasts, Shout! Factory, and packed with terrific bonus content, the strength and sheer memorability of Atkinson’s vastly uncoordinated character earns Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean the highest of recommendations!

    RATING: 5/5

    Available March 24th from Shout! Factory, Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.