Search

moviemavenspeaks

It's a dirty job but someone has to view 'em!

Month

December 2015

Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT Gives a Different Take on a Merry Christmas!

hate 1

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres Christmas day from writer/director Quentin Tarantino and The Weinstein Company comes a western with more twists than a candy cane with THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

In post-Civil War Wyoming, John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is on a mission, to get Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to hang for her crimes. Taking a private stage coach and running from a blizzard, they come across Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson),another bounty hunter who lost his horse. Ruth recognizes Warren and begrudgingly agrees to share the stage coach to Red Rock.

Getting back on their way, Ruth and Warren converse about their last meeting and about prisoner Daisy. That’s when driver O.B. (James Parks) alerts them to another man walking in the snow. Introducing himself as the soon-to-be Sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), he also needs a ride.

hate 4

The coach arrives at Minnie’s Haberdashery where they are met by Senior Bob (Demian Bichir) and inside the cabin is the hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the blizzard bears down on the haberdashery, it becomes clear that suspicions run high and each one has a story.

It is a puzzle that can only be told – western style!

Russell as Ruth is just plain frakken amazing. Of course I have been a fan since we were both kids and there isn’t a film he has done that I don’t like. In THE HATEFUL EIGHT he exudes the character of John Ruth, bounty hunter, from his speech, attitude, suspicious nature and attire and I loved every minute of it. Even in his softer moments I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ruth evolve and the way his mind works. Oh I’ll just say it – he rocks!

hate 5

Jackson as Major Warren once again gets the chance to play a badass in every way, shape and form that could be. He is suspicious of everyone along with Ruth. When the story is told it is easy to see why he has an itchy trigger finger and has no problem taking care of business. From beginning to end the character of Major Warren will not be silenced and doesn’t mince his words.

Goggins as Mannix is just one hot mess and again, loved every minute he is on screen. Mannix gives the illusion of being a smart man but there are moments I question that. He seems to side with who ever will keep him alive. Goggins is an actor who just continues to thrill with every character and performance he gives. His three most amazing performances has been as Boyd Crowder in the television series JUSTIFIED, his stellar performance as Venus Van Dam in the series SONS OF ANARCHY and now this role of Mannix in THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

hate 2

Bichir as Senior Bob brings humor along with his Christmas piano playing. Madsen as Joe Gage is the quiet type who seems to rub a few people the wrong way. Dern is the slightly off centered General who sits in his seat observing until he hears a story that is shocking. Parks as O.B. is hilarious and I don’t think I’ll ever look at a cabin door the same way again.

The huge standout here for me is Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy. This is a woman who speaks her mind and doesn’t mind an elbow in her face when she does spout off. There are moments of brilliance that I would speak about but I’m not into ruining some of the best acting I’ve seen from Leigh. If there aren’t nominations for her performance then something is really, really wrong with voters. An excellent performance that I will be watching again.

Other cast include: Zoe Bell as Six-Horse Judy, Dana Gournier as Minni, Lee Horsley as Ed, Craig Stark as Chester Smithers, Belinda Owino as Gemma and Channing Tatum as Jody.

hate 6

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE HATEFUL EIGHT four tubs of popcorn out of five. From the moment the Interlude appears on the screen I know this is going to be a film that will bring out every response from me possible. Tarantino has a way of doing that and I wouldn’t be disappointed as he takes on the vengeful nature of eight very unsavory characters who apparently didn’t get enough Mommy-time in childhood!

THE HATEFUL EIGHT is shocking, delightful, funny, gory, smart, and kept me along for the ride. The intermission half way through the film gave me a chance to soak up everything I experienced and catch my breath for the second half. Keeping the film in the cabin meant actually listening to every word spoken because, as my grandmother said, the devil is in the details – and there is a ton of details!

The cast is stellar and from beginning to end and the performances knocked me out. The drawn out camera shots of the stage coach in the snow, the choice of music, keeping the story within the cabin walls giving me a bit of claustrophobia, the amazing costumes and set added up to my thrill of the film. I can guarantee not everyone will agree with me on the like of the film but that doesn’t change how I feel about it one bit.

hate 3

I caught myself laughing out loud, had my breath taken away a few times, a couple of ‘oh hell no!’s in there, one or two jaw drops and a head smack! Does Tarantino push the limits? Absolutely. Do I mind? Not in the slightest. It became clear with INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and DJANGO UNCHAINED that I knew what I was in for. You could say I set myself up for every bit of this willingly – all 187 minutes.

Tarantino’s films have become so iconic with RESEVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, KILL BILL I & II, GRINDHOUSE, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (my personal favorite) and DJANGO UNCHAINED. Fans of the KILL BILL films are waiting for KILL BILL: Vol. 3!

In the end – spend the holidays with someone you hate!

HITMAN: AGENT 47 Strikes Back!

hitman

 

Jeri Jacquin

On DVD and Bluray in time for an action packed holiday break from director Aleksander Bach and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment comes a look at family with HITMAN: Agent 47.

Katia (Hannah Ware) is a woman with memories that don’t make sense to her. That is until one day when John Smith (Zachary Quinto) tells her that a hitman named Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) has been hired to kill her. When Agent 47 captures Katia, he explains that killing machines have been created. The last two digits of the barcode on the back of his neck is an identification that he is the 47th clone.

She learns that he is not only intelligent but is strong and has shocking fighting skills. He explains that she also has special skills if she only tapped into childhood memories. The only way to stop John Smith from carrying out his mission to kill them both, Katia must learn to use her special skills.

Agent 47 helps Katia find her father, Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds) to find even more answers as to why she was left behind and what happened to her mother. Uncovering the secrets that have been kept from them both, they stop at nothing to go against those who trained them to be killers.

Their DNA won’t allow them to stop!

hitman 1

Friend as the Hitman is a perfect choice to play this character. If you don’t believe me, see his character Peter Quinn in the massively successful HBO series HOMELAND. That is my first experience with this actor and he won me over instantly. I am a HOMELAND fan and can not wait for the next season. I wondered whether I could embrace this character and let me just say I had no problem embracing HITMAN. He is non-emotional, fast thinking, and isn’t about to let John Smith bring him down.

Ware as Katia is a quick study when it comes to realizing she has an ability that will serve her well. It’s hard for this character to trust either Smith or Hitman and that’s not surprising. Smith wants the information she has in her memory and Hitman also has an agenda that she can help with. It was interesting to watch this character come into her own.

hitman 2

Quinto as John Smith is as bad as he wants to be. He also was able to keep that Hitman control but there are moment that he loses it. Quinto has the remarkable ability to play both good and bad characters – and do it exceedingly well. I have to say I enjoy when this actor does the unexpected and in HITMAN: Agent 47 he gives unexpected a thrill.

Hinds as Litvenko is the total emotion of the film. Hitman and Katia are cool customers so Hinds brings a nice balance of thoughtfulness and even fatherly love. Remembering his wife, he shares that with Katia who doesn’t really know what to do with the memory. Hinds is another actor that always plays such unexpected characters which is probably why he is on my favsies list!

Other cast include: Jurgen Prochnow as Tobias, Rolf Kanies as Dr. Delriego, Sebastian Hulk as Garad, Jerry Hoffmann as Franco, Dan Bakkedahl as Sanders and Angelababy as Diana.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment continues to bring amazing film and television programming to everyone who loves extending their own home media library. Their portfolio includes entertainment content on DVD, Bluray, Digital HD and VOD. There is so much to offer that I suggest you visit http://www.foxconnect.com to see what is currently available and what is coming soon!

hitman 3

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give HITMAN: Agent 47 three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Based on a successful video game, HITMAN brings the action full screen. The Bluray is rich in detail and just gives the action sharpness that I love. To be honest, I’d love to see another film with both Katia and Hitman because they are pretty damn cool together.

The Bluray includes the special features of Deleted Scenes, The Hit Counter, Re-Imagining Hitman, Ultimate Action: Staging the Fights, Hitman: Agent 47 Comic, Making of the Comic Book, Promotional Featurettes, Gallery, Poster Gallery and Theatrical Trailers.

In the end – you won’t know what hit you!

THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED Ignites on Bluray

trans

 

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray in time for everyone’s Christmas stocking is producer Luc Besson, director Camille Delamarre and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment comes another ride with THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED.

Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is a driver who will take anything from point A to B with no questions asked and once a deal has been agreed upon there is no changing it. That’s what paying for the best driver can purchase. In his spare time Frank takes time with Dad Frank Sr. (Ray Stevenson).

That doesn’t stop Frank from accepting a job from Anna (Loan Chabanol) that quickly goes against all his rules. When his father is kidnapped by Anna’s friends Gina (Gabriella Wright), Maria (Tatiana Pajkovic) and Qiao (Wenxia Yu), the transporter has little choice but to help Anna finish her plot of revenge against Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic).

trans 3

Karasov has been running the prostitution trade since the 80’s and Anna wants him to pay in a way that will hurt him most, his bank account. It will take Frank’s skills to rescue his father and take down Karasov – a man he knows from the past!

Skrein as Frank Martin doesn’t suffer fools lightly. As a man who does his job well by sticking to the rules, it is a lovely lady who gets away with bending those same rules. Skrein has the stern look and calm exterior I would expect of a Transporter so it was easy to jump right into the film and be glad I wasn’t a passenger in those insane car chases.

Stevenson as Frank Sr. is charming, charismatic and still has a bit of the ladies man still in him. Watching the father and son duo take jabs at one another is endearing and very ‘guy like’. They did have me chuckling a few times. Stevenson’s character doesn’t seem to mind jumping in the game one more time, especially with his son at the helm.

trans 1

Chabanol as Anna is a focused character who wants revenge. Carrying around an anger since childhood, she brings in other women who want similar results – Karasov out of their lives forever. Chabanol is a strong leader of the women but still has a soft spot for the Transporter.

Other cast include: Noemie Lenoir as Maissa, Yuri Kolokolnikov as Yuri, Lenn Kudrjawizki as Leo Imasova, Anatole Taubman as Stanislas Turgin, and Samir Guesmi as Inspector Bectaoui.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment continues to bring amazing film and television programming to everyone who loves extending their own home media library. Their portfolio includes entertainment content on DVD, Bluray, Digital HD and VOD.

There is so much to offer that I suggest you visit http://www.foxconnect.com to see what is currently available and what is coming soon!

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. This is an unexpected tale of action, revenge, and a bit of family togetherness that plays out in such a cool film. I have to admit I love the car chase scenes (even if the Transporter runs more from the police than the bad guys) knowing that the character of Frank Martin isn’t even breaking a sweat. Instead skills ooze from his palm to the steering wheel making for loads of tire squealing and accelerator slamming. Yea, I really love it.

trans 2

Producer Luc Besson, the man responsible for the TAKEN franchise has once again brought us a man with great skills and even greater focus when it calls for it. The character of Frank Martin not only drives a slick car but can take on five guys and only scratch up his handsome face.

The Bluray comes fully loaded with special features including Frank Martin: The Reluctant Hero, The Coeur Brise: Les Femmes of Refueled and Rocketing from 0-60. If your looking for a last minute stocking stuffer for your favorite action adventure junkie then look no further because THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED will take everyone on the ride of their life!

In the end – this mission gets personal!

SAN DIEGAN MAEVE ROCHFORD WINS FOOD NETWORK HOLIDAY BAKING CHAMPIONSHIP!

holiday

 

Jeri Jacquin

Maeve Rochford is the owner of Sugar and Scribe Bakery in La Jolla, California and she has been busy in recent times. This San Diegan is the new sweet treats lady and everyone needs to know about her, especially as she is the recent winner of the Food Networks Holiday Baking Championship!

For the last seven weeks Maeve has been taking on challenge after challenge baking for the Holiday Baking Show hosted by Bobby Deen. Deen is a “Georgia Boy” and runs The Lady & Sons with brother Jamie in Savannah, Georgia.

Maeve has also been under the watchful eye of the 3 judges including Nancy Fuller who is the host of Farmhouse Rules, Lorraine Pascale who is an author and television host and, one of my favorites to watch, Duff Goldman who is the owner of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and Los Angeles.

Looking for the greatest holiday baker, eight bakers bring their skill and share family traditions each week and offer up their delectable’s for the judges to taste and critique. Each week one baker leaves piping the competition down to the final three.

Maeve pulled out all the stops in the final challenge risking everything, including her fingers, to a hot bag of isomalt making a beautiful candied sleigh for her masterpiece. The cake consisted of three tiered Sleigh Ride Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Marshmallow Filling with Cinnamon Nutmeg butter cream frosting.

sleigh cake

Sound awesome? Well, the judges thought so as well and awarded Maeve the $50,000 prize along with bragging rights. I had the opportunity to speak with Maeve after her win to discover where her ideas come from and what is next for the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Champion!

Good morning Maeve and a very big congratulations for winning the Food Network’s Holiday Baking competition!

Good morning Jeri and thank you so much.

I’m a huge fan of the show so having it coming to San Diego is a real treat.

We are hometown proud here as well. I love the city of La Jolla and how they have just taken us in.

Were you a big fan of the show before you becoming a contestant?

Absolutely, I love the Food Network and I have studied the Food Network competitions religiously.

What made you decide to jump into an oven of judges?

Nancy Fuller is a tough critic and Lorraine certainly knew what she wanted out of us as well.

What made you decide to compete though? It’s so much pressure!

Maeve1
Contestant Maeve Schulz preparing her dish, Orange Chocolate Cake with Semi Sweet Chocolate Hazelnut Filling and Orange Cardamom Buttercream, as seen on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, Season 2.

I’m a very competitive person. Since the seventh grade I’ve always been into extremely high levels of competition. My grade school and high school rowing team was number one in the country and I received an athletic scholarship going to a school that was both academic and sports challenging. The one thing that is most important is that I have had such tremendous support from my grandmother, my father, my aunt and uncle. I mean they are all just crazy supportive. My mother-in-law did dishes when I first opened, my first delivery was done by my dad and my husband helped so very much.

Knowing what you do know about what it takes to compete in baking, has it changed the way you do things?

No, I’ve always done the same exact thing. Some days when I first started we didn’t have that many items to sell because I would only sell that which was totally perfect. I stand by that decision and I think sticking with those high standards was important to me. The show hasn’t changed me in any way in regards to that. The only way it has changed me is that hopefully it will let more people know that we are here. That would be great because it means I can hire more people because I love helping people grow in this career that they want to be in.

Where does your inspiration come from and where do your flavor ideas come from? Is it trial and error or borrowing from family recipes?

I generally start with emotion and find flavors that relate to those emotions. When I did the coconut macaroon with fennel and crushed pepper I was feeling super sassy at that time. I wanted to do something really bright and bold and pepper is very bold and that’s how I came up with it. I think when your cooking or baking the flavors you choose have to emulate how you feel and that’s how I do it.

judges

Do you have any family recipes that you use?

Oh yes, absolutely! My carrot cake recipe, pie fillings, coffee cakes as well as banana bread came from family. Everything we sell has a connection in some way to somebody that I love.

How is the reaction with your employees having gone through the competition?

Great, my staff and I have always been really close. I tell them that when you put everything into this, there are big rewards. It’s very exciting to share this with them because we believe in giving everything you’ve got. I also think this has inspired them to become better in their own field. It’s all super exciting.

It is really interesting because most people wouldn’t think of coming up with the flavors combinations that you have. How do you get someone to try combinations that may not ever have before?

I say try small, go to your local store and buy five or ten different spices and different types of nuts. Try them individually in their natural form with just a little on your tongue or a little nibble of the nut and just really think about it. Is it buttery? Is it salty? Think about how it makes you feel. Like with cinnamon, you definitely think of home and of the holidays, hot apple cider, and pie. Every bit causes an emotion. Then slowly try the spices or nuts together. There are classes you can take on flavor profiling and I’m hoping to teach classes like that here where I can show how to use these flavors in baking and learn to step outside of the box and make something honest to your own self.

What is your biggest seller?

Definitely our Ginger Chews! We have so much for both the sweet and savory side. On our savory side I would say definitely our quiches and our Puff Pies having both Chick Puff Pie and BBQ Pork Pie. We also have Irish Specialties as well.

Maeve2 (1)
Contestant Maeve Schulz as seen on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, Season 2.

No wonder you can’t pick just one, they all sound heavenly.

I won’t put anything out there that I won’t stand behind.

What do you think will change for you, other than people knowing now where you are now?

I am hoping to expand and grow the brand with a Chef line and develop kits where I show you different ways to use the ingredients in the kits. All of this is to get people engaged in baking again. In this world we live in there is so much more out there with spices and ingredients that we’ve got to get everyone to try them all. Doing so allows us to create new stories. Like for me, some people say ‘what the heck is a chew?’ and once they try it they are amazed.

So basically what you are telling me is that if you didn’t have time before, you certainly have less now!

Yes, I certainly am going to have less now but I will still sweep the floor and wipe the tables. I’ll do anything that I can do to support my business and support my staff.

Your family has got to be going nuts.

Oh, they’re Irish so of course!

So of course you have Irish goods on your menu.

Absolutely, we have Irish Carrot Cake, Irish Soda Bread and on the savory side there is Guinness Braised Beef Stew and Shepherd’s Pie. I would say that over half of my menu is Irish. I’m staying true!

Finally Maeve, what are you thoughts about everything you’ve have experienced that you’d like to share with our readers.

I would say that if you are ever given an opportunity to challenge yourself that you should say ‘yes’, jump into it because I am positive you will grow wings before you land. I would say that the Food Network has made me a stronger chef and further inspired me to do better, try harder and reach for more. The last things is that I’m so honored that I got to meet the people that I did. If it wasn’t for the show I would have never met these amazing people.

Thank you so much for sharing with us Maeve, and again, congratulations on winning the Food Network Holiday Baking Championship.

You are so welcome!

food

The Food Network continues to bring amazing shows for foodies, like myself, that challenge us all to cook and bake creatively. From simple ideas to pushing the boundaries, Food Network brings amazing talent such as Ina Garten, Giada de Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray and Trisha Yearwood into our homes and hearths. For more of the Food Network please visit www.foodnetwork.com.

If you want to see the lip smacking menu created by Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship winner Maeve Rochford go to www.sugarandscribe.com. I am personally looking forward to trying the Rochford Shepherd’s Pie and perhaps a little dessert taste with the Red Raspberry pie or the Tiramisu Cake with Kahlua Buttercream – decisions, decisions!

So for the holidays, make your way over to Sugar and Scribe Bakery, 7660 Fay Avenue in La Jolla to add some very special treats to the table. Maeve also gives a 10% discount our military which makes the treats even sweeter.

I will meet you there and Happy Holidays!

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Brings the Best Christmas Gifts!

Have you been naughty or nice this year? Well, it might be time to have a little heart-to-heart with Santa and get on his good side!

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has a stellar collection of Bluray’s that belong in everyone’s home library. This is just a drooling sampling of what they have to offer making your wish list an even cooler one.
ahs

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: Freak Show – Nominated for 20 Emmy Awards how can you resist? This season had terrifyingly twisted and shocking twists. Jessica Lange is back and beautiful along with Kathy Bates, Angela Basset, Sarah Paulson and Michael Chiklis. The Bluray includes special features:
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: Freak Show Extra-Orindary Artists
Two Heads are Better than One
The Camp
Freaklore: The Spectre of Edward Mordrake
VikingsS3_BD_OSleeve_6-29

VIKINGS: Season Three is back on Bluray to rage war once again! Ragnar, Rollo, Lagertha and Bjorn are making their way to Paris and finding trouble along the way with alliances shattering. It isn’t easy being King! To go deeper inside VIKINGS the special features include:
The Guide to the Gods
Bluray Exclusive – Extended Versions of All Episodes
Athelstan’s Journal (Parts 1 and 2)
Heavy is the Head: The Politics of King Ragnar’s Rule
A City Under Siege: Creating and Attacking Paris
Audio Commentary on “Born Again” and “Breaking Point”
Deleted Scenes

VIKINGS Has an Axe to Grind in Season Three Bluray!

Jeri Jacquin

Television shows have been working hard for viewers these past few years. One of the shows that has fans on the edge of their seats is from MGM and Fox Home Entertainment with the saga on Bluray of season three of VIKINGS.

The story follows the very serious Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) who begins as a farmer but before long takes to claiming he is family to the Viking god Odin. It isn’t long before Ragnar has claimed the throne of Denmark along with his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick).

Brother Rollo (Clive Standen) has a love-hate relationship with brother Ragnar, but when it comes to fighting he is the first to swing a weapon. Wanting to make Ragnar even greater is Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) whose shipbuilding skills help Ragnar’s plans. During a raid, Ragnar takes the monk Athelstan (George Blagden) into his family.

Now Ragnar, Lagertha with son Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) and Rollo are in the middle of learning who is loyal and if blood truly is thicker than water. Ragnar has so many plans and only he knows them all moving from Essex to take on the city of Paris. But there are old scores than need settling.

Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), Ragnar’s new wife is keeping the home fires burning in Kattegat. But there is something else burning as the stranger Harbard (Kevin Durand) charms his way into the family. 

There are alliances to be made and broken, battles to be fought and won, and the city of Paris that gleams in the eyes of Ragnar Lothbrok!

Fimmel as Ragnar hits the screen from moment one with a blast that has fans crazy. If you have never been to San Diego Comic Con International let me tell you that the cheering for this cast was deafening! It must also be said that the women had no problem expressing to me their adoration for Fimmel and his, and I quote, “piercing eyes”. Actually, that is a good thing to say because when Fimmel is all dirtied up after a good battle, it’s those piercing eyes that let the audience know what Ragnar is feeling. This character is as bad as he wants to be, especially when he’s thinking! Fimmel just gives so much in his actions (or inaction) and I can not imagine anyone else playing this role. 

Fimmel has appeared in other shows including Tarzan, Rocky Point, The Big Valley and films such as PURE CUROUNT 2: The Gift, NEEDLE, and THE EXPERIMENT. His next project is the live action video game film WARCRAFT.

Winnick as Lagertha is the strongest female character in the VIKING series. A shield maiden of course but so much more than that. This character has no problem, I mean ZERO picking up a weapon and taking on anyone that stands in her way. She is also intelligent and realizes the games that leaders play. They don’t believe she has it in her to lead and Lagertha probes them wrong. It is a joy to watch Winnick perform every episode as her character is constantly full of surprises. When looking for a strong female character in a series, Winnick pulls out all the stops and gives an outstanding performance!

Standen as Rollo is clearly what we call a big strapping guy! Hot headed and quick to respond, he is a little to quick and hot headed. Wanting what his brother has, Rollo takes a season or two to screw his head on straight and stand with his brother, even if he doesn’t always agree with him. There are bits of rogue still left in Rollo so I’m interested in seeing where he takes the character, especially in Paris!

Ludwig as Bjorn has such a large role in the third season. Following his parents in what ever direction they take, he is joined by the love of his life. Believing that she can handle the fight, it takes a saddening turn. Ludwig truly does jump in to this character and as a fan of this young actor it’s great to see Bjorn get stronger.  

Skarsgard as Floki is a character you love to hate. He has such brilliant ideas but at the same time his ideas turn with the tide but with a madness. Blagden as Athelstan is such a lovely character filled with forgiveness but at the same time a self loathing that pushes him to decide who he truly is. Blagden is lovely, I don’t care how that sounds but he is and playing Athelstan is a joy to watch.

Sutherland as Queen Aslaug is another strong female character in the VIKING series. Taking care of the village and her family is a strong weight which she takes on well. That is until a stranger appears! Durand as Harbard is the mystery guest in the village. There are some who don’t trust him and others who trust him completely. It is a arc that gives audiences more questions than answers.

MGM has one of the world’s deepest libraries of film and television content. To view that library please visit http://www.mgm.com.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment also has an amazing selection of entertainment content with theater releases, DVD, Bluray, Digital HD and VOD. To find more of what they have to offer fans for their media library please visit http://www.fox.com.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give VIKINGS: The Complete Third Season five tubs of popcorn out of five. What can I say, I absolutely love this series. Michael Hirst is the creator and writer of the hit HISTORY channel series and he has given fans exactly what they’ve asked for. The story lines are complex and character driven in such a way that he sets us up for shocks and jaw drops.

The Bluray includes the special features: The Guide to the Gods – an interactive exploration of the various Gods in Nordic Mythology lore, which include: Odin, Thor, Loki, Frigg, Baldr, Hel, Freyja, Freyr and Njordr, Extended Versions of All Episodes, Althelstan’s Journal (Part 1 and 2) – Provides insight into the character of “Athelstan” as he seeks answers about his direction in life and seeking the honorable path, Heavy is the Head: The Politics of King Ragnar’s Rule, A City Under Siege: Creating and Attacking Paris, Audio Commentary on “Born Again” and “Breaking Point” featuring Michael Hirst and Linus Roache along with Deleted Scenes.

This Bluray for VIKINGS has so much that I suggest taking a weekend to go through everything. Every special feature has so much that adds to the excitement of watching VIKINGS and a little more knowledge for what’s coming in Season Four, which I personally am jazzed about.

In the end – they are on a journey to take the world!



SPY_BD_OCard_Front_01
SPY is locked and loaded on Bluray as director Paul Feig sets Melissa McCarthy loose to go undercover in one of the funniest films of the year! The Bluray comes with an Unrated Cut, the Theatrical Cut and more than two hours of outrageous bonus features that include:
Unrated Cut
3 Redacted Scenes
15 Classified Alternate Scenes
Top Secret Gag Reel
Extra Top Secret Behind-the-Scenes Gag Reel
Director of Intelligence Feig Makes the Cast Do His Bidding
Susan and Her Men
Super Villain Rayna Can’t Keep it Together
How Spy was Made – 8 Behind the Scenes Featurettes
… and so much more it would take a book to list!

SPY is Locked and Loaded on Bluray!

Jeri Jacquin

This week on Bluray and Digital HD from writer/director Paul Feig and 20th Century Fox is the comedy I’ve been waiting for with SPY.

This film tells the story of Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), working with the CIA as an analyst and the voice in the ear of Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Looking for bad girl Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), Cooper knows all has gone horribly wrong when Agent Fine is taken out.

Cooper’s boss Agent Crocker (Allison Janney) now must deal with a very angry Agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) whose swears vengeance on those who killed Fine. Pointing the finger at Boyanov and her accomplices Solsa Dudaev (Richard Brake) and Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale) they need a plan as all agents covers are blown.

Cooper decides to volunteer with the thinking that no one would suspect her. Against Crocker’s judgment and the irritation of Agent Ford, the plan is a go! They must find Boyanov before she sells a nuclear weapon to the highest bidder.

Hooking up with the new voice in the ear is Nancy B. Artingstall (Miranda Hart) who is giddy that Cooper is becoming a field agent. Arriving in Europe Cooper is surprised by Agent Ford presence and he makes plan hating the idea of her even having any part of the operation. 

A last minute decision by Cooper places her directly, literally, in the line of fire with Boyanov and she must use her training and wits to stop the sale and prove she is one hell of an agent.

Of course not everything is as it seems in the spy world!

McCarthy as Cooper begins as a shy voice in the ear of a super Agent but that doesn’t stay so for long. Once out in the field Cooper comes into her own and McCarthy is responsible for every frakken minute of the change. Delivering line after line with razor sharpness and action scene after action scene in heels I am beyond impressed. She has the mouth of a drunken sailor and the smarts needed to pull it all together and seriously I can’t imagine anyone else but McCarthy pulling this off. 

Byrne as Boyanov is the straight on bad girl of the film with a little bit of a Natasha feel as well. With hair the 50’s would be proud of and legs for days, she gets to wield a weapon and attempt to match wits with Cooper. As a matter of fact I don’t think I saw her crack a smile one time. It’s hard to be happy I suppose when you are selling out the world.

Law as Agent Fine gives the cool and suave appearance of a 00-something or other. His role is short and sweet. Cannavale as De Luca gets to be suave in his tuxedo and plays both sides of the bad guy field. Cannavale can play both dramatic and comedic roles, I just prefer comedic.

Hart as Nancy is just so endearing. Tired of being in the basement along with Cooper, she seizes the opportunity to get in the game as it were. Her meeting with 50 cent will have me laughing for a good while.

Statham as Ford absolutely nailed this role. Seriously, normally we see him as the straight forward handsome no-nonsense action hero and this, folks, is not that role. He is hilarious, overbearing, full of himself, and can tell a whale of a tale – continually. I couldn’t get enough of his stories or the characters antics. Stay for the very end of the film if you didn’t laugh hard enough during the film.

Janney as Agent Crocker has a small role here but completely and insanely funny. Trust me when I say the scene in the conference room is one for the books. I don’t think I will ever look at pink eye the same way again. This is an awesome role for her.

Also a shout out to Peter Serafinowicz as Aldo, not only for taking on this hilarious character but for giving a shout out to Downtown Abbey! He pulled it off beautifully and I never saw that coming.

Other cast include: Michael McDonald as Patrick, Julian Miller as Nicola, Nargis Fakhri as Lia, Morena Baccarin as Karen Walker, Will Yun Lee as Timothy Cress, Katie Dippold as Katherine, Jessica Chaffin as Sharon and Peter Serafinowicz as Aldo with a cameo by 50 Cent.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is responsible for creating the expansion of so many home libraries. From theaters to DVD, Bluray, VOD and Digital HD, they give fans of films what they want to see and own. To discover more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.foxmovies.com.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give SPY four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. I can’t remember when the last time it was that I laughed till I almost fell out of my chair and pretty sure my jaw dropped a few times as well, oh yes I can, when I saw SPY in the theater. Now on crispy and stunning Bluray I get to laugh out of my comfy recliner all over again and happy to do so.  

From the beginning to the very end this film is hilarious! There are going to be some seriously repeated lines from the film and I can’t wait to use them myself. Between McCarthy and Janney there are enough lines to go around. 

From action to fight scenes, Feig has taken comedy to another level. It is fantastic to have it as part of my home library so I can laugh as hard as I want and rewind if I must and not worry about missing anything. 

The Bluray comes with the Unrated Edition with over two hours of locked & loaded laughs. There are 3 Redacted Scenes, 15 Classified Alternate Scenes, 2 Top Secret Gag Reels, Cutting Room Floor Outtakes Including Susan and Her Men, The Great Rick Ford, For Your Eyes Only: Jokes-A-Plenty, How SPY Was Made: 8 Behind the Scenes Featurettes, a Commentary and so much more! 

Listen to me when I say that all of these extras are going to leave your sides hurting as they are equally as hilarious as the Bluray. I am tickled, literally, that all of the above is included making movie night even more hilarious.

In the end – the world has never met a spy quite like this one!
lost in

LOST IN SPACE: The Complete Series – Oh yea! Not only is this a great introduction to a series for the kids, it’s a great space journey down memory lane for those who remember DANGER WILL ROBINSON! Featuring over seven hours of bonus materials and All-New Featurettes, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings it all home in this 50th Anniversary set. The special features include:
New On-Camera Original Cast Interviews with Bill Mumy, Mark Goddard, Angela Cartwright, Marta Kristen, Guy Williams, Jr., and Tony Williams.
Original Cast Audio Commentary
“Lost in Space: The Epilogue” – Special Cast Reunion.
Archive Materials with the original Un-Aired Pilot
Screen Tests
Bob May’s Home Movies
Interviews
Never-Before-Released 20th Anniversary Interview with Irwin Allen
…and more, more, more!
LMOES1DVDBoxArt
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH: The Complete First Season – Nominated for four Primetime Emmy’s including Outstanding Lead Actor for Will Forte. It is 2020 and after a deadly virus has swept the planet there is only one man left on earth. In his RV he searches the country for other survivors – preferably a woman. This is a series that you will get addicted to along with Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Commentary on “The Elephant in the Room”
“The Last Man on Earth” Q&A Panel
Survival of the Funniest: Creating THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
Commentary on “Screw the Moon”
Gag Reel
EMP1_Special_Beautyshot_FM1

EMPIRE: Season One – Set within a world of music, glamour, danger and power, EMPIRE in a collectible package with uncut music performances but oh so much more! A few of the Special Features are:
Pilot Episode – Director’s Cut
Exclusive Soundtrack including never-before-released songs
Collectible packaging for the Ultimate EMPIRE Fan
Featurette: EMPIRE: It’s in the Music
Featurette: The EMPIRE of Style
Special Commentary for the Pilot

So make your own list and check it twice! See what the kids might be wanting and while you are at it, throw in a few for yourself – I mean it’s a season of giving so give to yourself. It’s beginning to look a lot like a 20th Century Fox Bluray Christmas! Visit them at http://www.foxconnect.com

MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials Takes Off on Bluray!

fhe_mazerunner_eblast_phys_01x

 

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray from director Wes Ball and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment comes life after the maze with James Dashner’s best selling book series MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) has escaped the maze along with Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden), and Winston (Alexander Flores). Taken in by Janson (Aidan Gillen) Thomas knows early that something isn’t right no matter how well they are being treated.

That’s when Aris (Jacob Lofland) enlists Thomas’ help to discover what Janson is up to. They learn that Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) is using the teens to find a cure for a rampant disease. Not wanting to stay around to see what will happen next, Thomas gathers the group and they make a break.

Now they are on the wasteland of the Scorch looking for the WCKD. Coming to a group of buildings they meet Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) who can lead them to Vince (Barry Pepper) and Mary (Lili Taylor). Thomas and his friends finally discover what has been hidden from them.

Who they can trust has become more crucial than ever!

Maze 1

O’Brien as Thomas brings his character up in the second installment of the series. Knowing there is more to his memory, he is trying to keep his group safe – but from what? This young actor has a lot of film weight on his young shoulders and he doesn’t disappoint. Now that we know the what and the why, all that’s left is who Thomas really is and how he fits into all this. I think O’Brien is definitely up for the challenge!

Lee as Minho is a strong character that believes in Thomas following him without hesitation, that’s a good friend. Sangster as Newt is a yin-yang type of character in that in one moment he believes in Thomas and then turns around filled with doubt questioning everything.

Along with Darden as Frypan and Flores as Winston, the group is well rounded out with young men who want answers. The interesting person in the group is Teresa who drops hints at Thomas without ever really saying what needs to be said.

maze 4

Gillen as Janson welcomes the group with open arms but, as Gillen tends to portray, there is a friendliness that just rubs Thomas the wrong way. Working with Clarkson as Paige, these two are focused on one thing – doing what ever it takes to find a cure – and they don’t care who they use in the process.

Salazar as Brenda stands out in the film. She keeps her eye on everyone and makes it her business to know how to escape a tight situation. When she is attacked by the infected, it doesn’t stop her from wanting to help Thomas. Esposito as Jorge wants to break away from his situation and joins the young group in looking for the WCKD.

Pepper as Vince is responsible for the group of young people and wants to get them to the safe zone. It is Taylor as Mary who has the medical knowledge that Paige wants to squash!

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment continues to expand its award winning portfolio with new entertainment with DVD, Bluray and Digital HD as well as VOD. With so much to offer take time to visit www.foxconnect.com to see everything available and what’s come in 2016.

,aze 2

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. The series continues with its twists and turns even as secrets are revealed. It is layer upon layer of story telling that is well done and brought to the screen with action and continued adventure.

The set design and costuming bring so much to the film. If you are going to have ‘Scorch’ in the title you better make sure the surroundings reflect that – and it certainly does.

Also, the cast brings the characters literally from book to screen. O’Brien has shown such strength in his character and no matter what is to come next, I know this young man will carry it through. I can’t wait to see Thomas lead his group to their next challenge of not only rescuing friends, but freeing those being held against their will.

This is the ultimate Bluray fan edition with two hours of extras and a 24-page collectible printed prequel comic book and all of it makes a fantastic holiday gift! The special features include Janson’s Report, Secrets of the Scorch with The Second Chapter Begins…, Creating a Scorched Earth, New Friends and Enemies, Surviving the Scorch, Creating the Cranks, On the Edge: Constructing the Skyscraper Sequence, Visual Effects Breakdowns, and Visual Effects Reel.

maze 3

But that’s not all! There are Deleted and Extended Scenes with Audio Commentary from Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin, Joe Hartwick Jr., and Dan Zimmerman with Food Fight, Storage Depot Walk – Meet Janson, Bunker Escape – Minho Knows the Way, Mall Walk – Escalators, Mall Attack – Goodbye Jack, Scorch Travel – Teresa on Bridge, Scorch Travel – Helping Winston, Newt & Thomas at Campfire, Extended Jorge Lair Walk, Crack Attack WCKD Soldiers, Extended Zipline, Jorge Lair – Brenda Fires Back, Extended Tunnel Walk, and Extended Crankland WCKD Arrives along with Gag Reel and Galleries.

This truly is an amazing Bluray to own and with Christmas right around the corner, MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials would be amazing to put in anyone’s stocking from Santa!

In the end – the maze was just the beginning!

STAR WARS: The Force Awakens

star 7

 

Jeri Jacquin

This is going to be a review filled with twists, turns and lots of evasion as director J.J. Abrams, LucasFilms and Walt Disney Studios brings us back to a galaxy far, far away with STAR WARS: The Force Awakens.

It has been thirty years since the destruction of the Death Star. The Empire may have crumbled but from the ruins the First Order has risen and the Resistance is once again looking to stop them.

First Order follower Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) storms a village on Jakku looking for something in the hands of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Attempting to keep safe, Poe tucks it with droid BB8 and tells him to run! What is being protected is a map to the whereabouts of a Jedi who has disappeared.

star 3

As Poe is captured, storm trooper Finn (John Boyeda) wants no part of what is happening all around him. Taking notice is Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) who orders the trooper back to the ship.

Living and struggling on her own in the Jakku desert is Rey (Daisy Ridley). Coming across BB8, she takes the droid under her protection from others who want it. That is where she meets Finn as the First Order is hot on the droids trail!

Escaping in an abandoned ship, Rey and Finn realize they must get the droid to the Resistance. That is when they meet Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew who both know exactly what to do.

star 2

Kylo Ren and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) are furious with the loss of Rey, Finn and the droid. Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) wants the missing Jedi’s location and orders anyone destroyed who stand in the way of that goal.

Han, Rey and Finn are joined by General Leia (Carrie Fisher) to plan an attack on the First Order. Especially since discovering a new weapon that gets its power directly from the sun. When Kylo Ren and Rey come face to face, a battle begins that will test them both.

But only one will find the missing Jedi!

star 4

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give STAR WARS: The Force Awakens four tubs of popcorn out of five. Now, let me explain why that is! Keep in mind I have no intention of spoiling anything for anyone so if you want answers from me, you’ll have to use the force!

Let us start with the good stuff – I love, and mean LOVE, that J.J. Abrams did not attempt to reinvent the Jedi-wheel. From the beginning up-scroll and intro music to characters that could easily have been seen in 1977 – this felt like a home coming for me.

The mixture of the original features with new characters, the story isn’t so very far apart.

star 1

That is the best for those like me who were there opening day in 1977. It is also pretty cool that I can now hold a conversation about STAR WARS with my grandkids without having to explain who the original characters are and how they fit in. J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt not only honored my heroes but gave them purpose once again.

Of course I was thrilled with the X-wing fighters, recognizable uniforms, storm troopers, crafts and lightsaber whose distinctive sound is still music to my ears. The costuming is still awesome and there isn’t anything that feels out of place or struggling to hard to make me believe in the “new” STAR WARS story.

Harrison Ford returning as Han Solo brings that memorable humor and friendship with Chewbacca. Jumping in to help Rey and Finn, it brings him back to Leia. When the two meet there is distance but when it comes to the Resistance they are all in. Ford slides into character as if he never left and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see his Solo smirk.

star 6

Carrie Fisher as Leia has no problem with her role as general, even if the word Princess escapes once or twice. She wants to stop the First Order before they find the missing Jedi. She and Solo have unfinished business and it was such a rush to see Leia again.

Boyega as Finn spends too much time out of breath in the first part of the film. The second half of the film he’s had too much coffee or energy drinks. He’s all over the place which I’m hoping he settles in the next film.

Ridley as Rey seems out of place and I’m also hoping that’s part of her characters story waiting to be told. There is so much happening with Rey that there doesn’t seem much time to really get to understand. That being said she certainly has no problem knocking people around when they need it or know her way around a ship!

Driver as Kylo Ren has every intention of being as bad as he wants to be. There is an evil look he has that is going to serve him well – especially if he plans to be the next helmet wearing heavy-breather of the galaxy.

star 5

Gleeson as General Hux has definite anger issues that match Kylo Ren (minus the sword saber). There is a clear rivalry for the attention of the Supreme Leader. After seeing Gleeson in so many ‘sweet’ characters, this was a serious ‘whoa!’ surprise.

Isaac as Poe is the bad boy pilot of the galaxy and has no problem showing it. Christie as Phasma has her own distinctive uniform and it clearly sets her apart.

Let us not forget the droids – BB8 is doing to be this generations R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). Sassy, devoted and stubborn, the only difference is height. C3PO (Anthony Daniels) is still serving Leia and annoying everyone but in a way that still has me rolling my eyes and laughing.

So, am I disappointed? Not in the slightest! There are cheesy moments, twists and turns, jaw drops, laughs, battles, reunions, surprises and the need to remind myself that there will be more to come.

star 8

What is going to happen in a few days will be nothing short of amazing. I remember the lines in 1977 – every weekend for an entire summer here in San Diego (in Mission Valley in fact). Shows selling out consistently and there was no advanced tickets or buying them online in those pre-tech days.

Every weekend brought more and more excitement as people began showing up in costumes – something I had never experienced before. Yet, we were all there to share in the same theatrical experience. When the lights went down and the scroll went up we all cheered because we shared something amazing. How were we to know that in 2015, it is about to happen all over again?

The original STAR WARS brought a sci-fi story steeped in hope, friendship, loyalty and adventure with a battle between good and evil. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens is no different! I expect to see lines for weeks to come because hope, friendship, loyalty and adventure with a battle between good and evil is back once again.

In the end – every generation has a story!

BURNT is Cooking with DVD and On Demand!

burnt

Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company are proud to announce the home entertainment release of the delectable BURNT starring Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper, Upcoming: Joy) Sienna Miller (American Sniper), Omar Sy (Jurassic World, The Intouchables), Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds, Rush), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina), Matthew Rhys ( TV’s “Brothers & Sisters”, TV’s “The Americans”), Lily James (Cinderella, TV’s “Downton Abbey”) with Uma Thurman (Kill BillPlaying for Keeps), and Emma Thompson (Men, Women and Children, Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually). 

Directed by John Wells (August: Osage County, The Company Men, TV’s Shameless, TV’s “ER”), with a story by Michael Kalesniko and screenplay by Steven Knight (TV’s “Peaky Blinders”, Dirty Pretty Things, Locke). BURNT will be available on Digital HD January 15, 2016 from Starz Digital before heading to Blu-ray™ and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment and On Demand January 26, 2016.

Chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) had it all – and lost it. The former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene had earned two Michelin stars and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. To land his own kitchen and that third elusive star though, Jones will need to leave his bad habits behind and get the best of the best on his side, including the beautiful Helene (Sienna Miller). BURNT is a remarkably funny and emotional story about the love of food, the love between two people, and the power of second chances.

BURNT is rated R and has a running time of 101 minutes. DVD and Blu-ray™ special features include Burnt: In the Kitchen with Bradley Cooper, five deleted scenes, Q&A highlights with the Director and cast and Feature Commentary with Director John Wells and Executive Chef Consultant Marcus Wareing.

ABOUT ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT

Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading independent home entertainment company celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015. Anchor Bay acquires and releases a wide array of filmed entertainment in the theatrical and home entertainment markets, including STARZ Original series, children’s entertainment, fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports and specialty films on Blu-ray™ and DVD formats. The company has long-term distribution agreements in place for select programming with The Weinstein Company, AMC Networks and RADiUS, among others. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a full service distributor in the North American market. Anchor Bay Entertainment is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business, www.starz.com.

ABOUT THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

The Weinstein Company (TWC) is a multimedia production and distribution company launched in October 2005 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films in 1979. TWC also encompasses Dimension Films, the genre label founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein. During Harvey and Bob’s tenure at Miramax and TWC, they have received 341 Oscar nominations and won 81 Academy Awards.

Since 2005, TWC and Dimension Films have released such films as VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA; THE READER; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS; SCRE4M; SPY KIDS: THE KING’S SPEECH; UNDEFEATED; THE ARTIST; THE MASTER; SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK; DJANGO UNCHAINED; SCARY MOVIE 5; LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER; PHILOMENA; THE IMITATION GAME; PADDINGTON; WOMAN IN GOLD SOUTHPAW, BURNT and CAROL. Upcoming release THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

MARCO POLO Astounds on Bluray!

marco 1

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this week to Bluray from creator John Fusco, The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment is the stellar telling of the history of MARCO POLO.

This series tells the story of Marco Polo (Lorenzo Richelmy) as a young man finally meeting his father adventurer and merchant Niccolo Polo (Pierfrancesco Favino). Tired of being left behind, Marco stows away on his father’s ship and travels the Silk Road to the throne of Kublai Khan, the Khagan of the Mongolian Empire (Benedict Wong).

Khan is upset with Niccolo for not bringing the items he had promised, and to make up for the insult the elder Polo leaves Marco. Shocked by his father’s offering, Marco finds himself manhandled by Khan’s servants and put into a prison cell.

Khan is in the middle of is own problems with finishing up his conquest of China. The only thing standing in his way is city of Song. As their emperor grows weak, the Chancellor Jia Sidao (Chin Han) is preparing to make his play for power. He sends his concubine sister Mei Lin (Olivia Cheng) into Khan’s palace ‘undercover’ holding her young daughter as incentive.

With problems outside the palace, it stands to reason Khan would have problems inside as well. He releases Marco immediately taking the boy under his care. A relationship begins to the point where Marco begins training with Hundred Eyes (Tom Wu), a monk with fighting skills.

marco 2

This doesn’t make Prince Jingim (Remy Hii) happy at all seeing the foreigner as untrustworthy. Joining in this belief is Minister of Finance Ahmad (Mahesh Jadu). Someone who does trust Marco is Byamba (Uli Latukefu), Khan’s son outside of his first marriage who is joined by Khutulun (Claudia Kim), the warrior daughter of Khan’s cousin Kaidu (Rick Yune).

This trust is even more tested when assassination attempts on Khan and his wife Empress Chabi (Joan Chen) take place. Marco suspects everyone around him, including Vice Regent Yusuf (Amr Waked) and becomes curious about the Blue Princess Kokachin (Zhu Zhu).

It all comes to a head as Khan attempts to take the city of Song the first time and is set up for failure putting Marco’s head on the chopping block. Once plots are set aside and plans are put forward, a second attempt on the city of Song will bring out heroes, fools, and the secret of who truly wishes to see Khan fall!

Let us begin with Lorenzo Richelmy as Marco, here is a young man who wants only the one thing denied him quickly – a father. Finding it once Niccolo Polo leaves is the surprise for him. Richelmy truly gives this role what makes it believable, a vulnerability mixed with a hunger to understand his ‘captors’. Once the flood gates of knowledge and acceptability come to him, there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for Khan, even if that acceptability is limited by some. As the series gets deeper, so does Richelmy’s growth in the character and it is so well done I can’t stand it!

marco 4

Wong as Khan is absolutely and unbelievably stunning! I realize the show’s title is MARCO POLO but Wong is the series stealer. Khan is strong, flawed, gluttonous, insecure, decisive and indecisive at the same time, trusting, egotistical and sees something in Marco that intrigues him. Wong doesn’t just sprinkle these characteristics on Khan – he covers each one onto Khan until the viewer feels the weight as well.

Chen as Empress Chabi is sophisticated, beautiful, very smart and equally as cunning when it comes keeping her husband in power. Well aware that every new person that comes into their midst is worthy of her skepticism, it becomes clear that she is willing to also use that knowledge as well. Chen’s poise and grace give the character of Empress Chabi much to rave about.

Hii as Prince Jingim wants to be the next Khan to the point of making himself crazy. Making matters more strenuous is his father’s fascination with Marco Polo. With Khan’s advisors constantly whispering in the Prince’s ear, it only serves to put a bigger strain between himself and Marco. Latukefu as Byamba is strong and secure about who he is (another factor that makes Hii upset) and follows his father’s lead on everything. A friendship develops between Byamba and Marco that I was hoping for! Latukefu has an endearing quality that surprised me in the midst of his sword wielding so keep your eye on this actor.

marco 3.jpg

Claudia Kim as Khutulun is a wrestling princess of the Chagatai Khanate who wants to please her father by finding a way into the throne room of Khan. What she doesn’t expect is to truly have feelings for Byamba. Kim gives this princess humor, strength and a fearless nature. Zhu Zhu as Kokachin is a woman with a secret while resenting being a part of the palace’s many women. Marco suspects there is something more to her!

Waked as Yusuf has the ear of the Khan and his advice, even if the leader doesn’t always take it. Waked portrays this character as the eyes of the throne saying little unless asked.     Jadu as Ahmad is another of Khan’s advisers having grown up in the palace who feels the Khan as well as the Empress and Prince are family.

Han as Jia Sidao is a chancellor who wasn’t born into royalty but instead as low as one could be born. With the help of sister Mei Lin, the climb cost him nothing and her everything. That being said, Han gives the character of Sidao a disturbing feel. Even his secret love of Jing Fei is a tad off but when it comes to ruling the city of Song – he knows how to push the limits but every mantis has its day.

marco 5

Wu as Hundred Eyes had me yelling ‘this guy is a total badass’ from beginning to the end of Season One. He is the most patient and smartest man in Khan’s kingdom and yet he keeps his cool and his inner-eye on Marco. Trying to teach the young man what he needs to survive in this new land proved to be a continual challenge for the monk.

Other cast include Corrado Invernizzi as Maffeo Polo, Tan Kheng Hua as the Empress Dowager of the Song Dynasty, Oon Shu as Jing Fei, Lawrence Makoare as Za Bing, Baljinnyamyn Amarsaikhan as Ariq Boke and Darwin Shaw as Sabbah.

The Weinstein Company (TWC) is a multimedia production and distribution company that has brought such films as INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, THE KING’S SPEECH, the Academy Award Winning film THE ARTIST, and DJANGO UNCHAINED. Coming to theatres this year is CAROL and the highly anticipated THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

Anchor Bay Entertainment is celebrating its 20th anniversary and continues to bring theatrical and home entertainment to fans. This includes STARZ Original series, children’s entertainment, and more on Bluray and DVD. For more of what Anchor Bay Entertainment has to offer those wanting to expand their home library please visit www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MARCO POLO give tubs of popcorn out of five. There are so many descriptors for this stunning series that include epic, gripping, complex, emotional, visual, with battle scenes and martial arts and costuming that bring this tale front and center. That being said, the cast is one of the best I have ever seen put together to bring it all together.

marco 6

The sets are elaborate and beautiful adding such dimension to the story telling. The elegant wood working and décor brought me into that world with ease. My absolutely favorite is the costuming – from exquisite dresses, to elegant jewelry, to finely detailed robes.  I am not in a hold pattern for Season Two and intend to be there to see it all – every brilliant second!

The Bluray comes with an hour of never-before-seen special features including The Marco Polo Documentary, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Fight Scene Rehearsals, The Visual Effects of Marco Polo, Making of the Opening Titles, Concept Art-to-Scene Comparison, Concept Art Gallery and Costume Gallery.

This complete 547 minute non-rated series has everything that attracts me to a series and MARCO POLO has just set the bar pretty frakken high!

In the end – worlds will collide!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑