Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Supernatural - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)

Written by Pirata Hermosa

When we last left our heroes Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) in Season Four, Sam had just slain the demon Lilith, inadvertently breaking the final seal which released Lucifer and started the Apocalypse. In season five, the brothers try to find a way to save the world by either killing the Devil or sending him back to Hell.

But finding a way to vanquish Lucifer isn’t an easy task, and compounding things even more is that the angels whom you would expect to fight on their side are actually looking forward to the Apocalypse and settling things once and for all. This puts Sam and Dean in the middle of the fight between good and evil.
While there are some direct confrontations with Lucifer, the only thing that keeps the duo alive is the fact that Sam is destined to be Lucifer’s vessel on Earth and Dean is destined to be the vessel for the Archangel Michael. And even as powerful as the two beings are, they cannot possess a vessel without that vessel's permission.

With the help of the angel Castiel (Misha Collins) who turns his back on his brethren to help the two brothers, the three find themselves on a journey to find God, defeat each of the four horsemen, and risk their very souls.

There are still several self-contained episodes during season five like “Changing Channels”, where Sam and Dean find themselves trapped inside a television world by the Trickster and must find a way to escape. It’s one of the better episodes, even though we’ve seen this similar idea in films and other television shows. But it’s the main arc of the show that has become more significant.

Every episode is linked somehow to the Apocalypse. Whether it’s an episode focusing on the loss of hope as God is nowhere to be found, walking into a Supernatural convention based on their story, or running into gods of other religions, it all comes together.

The most satisfying stories deal with the four horsemen. Each of the horsemen has its own storyline and is blended into the story to fit a modern-day representation instead of a straight biblical reference.

The video is in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ration of 1.78:1 and is paired with 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. The video can be equated to movie quality in its sharpness and clarity. But as with most television shows it does not use the full capability regarding its audio.There are four Blu-ray discs included in the set containing all 22 episodes. The fourth disc holds all of the Special features.

“Gag Reel” is a little better than most gag reels as it’s not all about somebody flubbing a line or just not being able to control their laughter. There’s a number of prop issues, adlibs, and general silliness that makes it better than average.

“Ghostfacers” contains 10 episodes of the web series based on characters that Sam and Dean ran into during an episode. It’s a spoof on those TV shows like Ghost Hunters where a team goes into supposed haunted building to see if they can actually find a real ghost. Entertaining, but with each webisode only being a few minutes each it doesn’t even add up to one Supernatural episode.

Supernatural: Apocalypse Survival Guide” is an interactive walk through Bobby’s house. You can look at books and videotapes, with each item linking you to a specific feature. The videotapes are basic VHS tapes and actually look like you are watching an old tape. The features are interesting as several of them deal with historical bible references and the overall theology of the show, while others give you a behind-the-scenes look.

A lot of work and research has gone into the making of the show. For all of its dark themes and biblical references, it’s very entertaining filled with just the right amounts of suspense, action, and comic relief that make it one of the best horror shows on television.

Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam - Extended Edition (Blu-ray)

Written by Pirata Hermosa

It’s only been a year since Mitchie (Demi Lovato) went to Camp Rock for the first time. Her first year was spent pretending to be someone she wasn’t. But it wasn’t until the final performance after Final Jam that she came out of her shell and let everyone see just how truly talented she was.

But now it’s a new camp season and everything is going to be great. That is until Camp Star opens across the lake and threatens to run Camp Rock out of business by stealing away all the counselors. So instead of the fun summer with her long-distance boyfriend, Shane (Joe Jonas), she ends up having to organize a group of experienced campers to become the new counselors and then come up with a musical number that will blow away Camp Rock during the Final Jam competition.

While Mitchie and Shane’s relationship flounders and leaves him puzzled wondering if he made the right decision to come off tour, the romantic aspect of the film focuses more on one of his band mates, Nate (Nick Jonas), and his wooing of Dana (Chloe Bridges), who just happens to be the daughter of the opposing camp’s owner.

It’s not a terribly complex or unique plotline, and since it’s a musical, the most important aspect is how good are the musical numbers. The biggest difference between the first film and the newest one is that it’s focusing a lot more on the singing of Mitchie, Shane, and his band. In the original one it was a camp of kids all coming up with different songs and performances in the normal course of a camp atmosphere. In other words, they actually worked on their singing and dancing. In the latest film you have a lot more of Mitchie just suddenly breaking into a song that nobody has heard yet they all seem to know the song and all the dance moves.

Even so, the songs are really good and go along perfectly with the story, the best two being “Can’t Back Down, and “It’s on.” They are both filled with lots of energy and attitude that really show off Lovato’s vocals. Another exceptional song is “Introducing Me,” which is a quirky song performed by Nate to show Dana what he is really like and what his feelings are. The songs performed by Camp Star are the weaker songs on the soundtrack. Instead of focusing on the music it’s more about image and gimmicks such as lasers and fireballs, which works well within the context of the film.

The Blu-ray combo pack contains three discs, the Blu-ray, the DVD version and a digital copy for your computer. The Blu-ray is in 1080p High Definition (1.78:1) with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The images are crisp and clear, so much so that you can see the dust on the hardwood floors and see the scratches left behind after some of the dance routines. The audio is just as good where you can actually pick out the individual singers during the group numbers and draws you in by making you feel like you are right in the middle of the action.

There are three special features on the disc: “Rock-Along” when this mode is activated words appear on the screen during the musical numbers much like a karaoke machine. “Getting to Know Camp Star’s Newest Stars” is a sit-down interview with Chloe Bridges and Matthew “Mdot” Finley that is moderated by Alyson Stoner. “Music Videos by Camp Rockers From Around the World” contains five different videos by foreign artists singing various songs from the film interspersed with clips from the movie. The oddest of the videos being the one from Germany where a gruff-looking projectionist sings the Joe Jonas part to the song “Wouldn’t Change A Thing” while he watches clips of Demi Lovato singing the other part in the film.

Along with the special features, the set also includes two new scenes, which are basically just two new musical numbers.“Different Summers” is a nice song by Lovato, but it was better left out of the original film. The entire premise is about the two camps having a showdown at Final Jam, but if this scene was left in then the two camps would have already competed and takes away from the suspense of the story. “Walking in My Shoes” is another number that fortunately was left out of the original as well because it does nothing to advance the story and is just another generic soulless performance by the Camp Star kids.

While the film isn’t going to win an Oscar, it’s family friendly and has that familiar Disney feel to it. The songs are well written and produced, and with Demi Lovato’s amazing voice on most of them it’s hard to not be drawn in. If you like Demi or the Jonas Brothers, then you’ll really going to enjoy this film. Even if you’re not a fan of any of them, the characters are so likeable that you just might find yourself becoming one.