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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

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We see a much more confident super hero in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which will be released on Blu-ray combo pack on Tuesday.
We see a much more confident super hero in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which will be released on Blu-ray combo pack on Tuesday.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" swings onto shelves tomorrow

When retail outlets open their doors tomorrow morning, Sony will unleash "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," and with it an incredible debate for one of the bestselling comic book characters of all time.

In one of the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray combo back, a young and broken Peter Parker meets his dad. Unlike the trilogy of films that stared Toby McGwire in the lead role … the Amazing series here is dealing with much more drama, more intense emotions than the first film ever touched. In the scene that didn’t make it in the theater, Andrew Garfield as Peter confronts his father played by Campbell Scott.

If the clip had made it into the film, it would have sent the story into a whole new and different direction. With it left out, it keeps the timeline of Peter open to figure out what his dad was truly involved in, and why his parents left him with his aunt and uncle many years ago.

Let the debate rage on which was a better way to go.

This second film picks up the pace from the first one, which was more of a story between Peter and Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone. This time around, the relationship between the two waffles as Peter is left to deal with the reality that as Spider-Man, anyone close to him becomes a potential target. In the fight sequences we do see a Spider-Man that is much more confident in his abilities, and much more cocky with the banter.

Jamie Foxx as Electro finally gets the attention his character deserves, and Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn’s transformation into the Goblin makes sense in an intense and organic way.

With the filmmaker commentaries and 13 deleted scenes on the Blu-ray, it builds upon the story, offering the viewer much more insight rather than being a throw-away item used to market the discs for more sales. I had the opportunity to screen the Blu-ray combo pack over the weekend. And, to be honest, this was the best home entertainment package I’ve reviewed this year.

If you are a fan of comic book stories, and better yet, a fa…

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Disney's "Bears" was released this last week on Blu-ray combo pack
Disney's "Bears" was released this last week on Blu-ray combo pack

Story at the heart of Disney's "Bears"

First and foremost in the world of film is the story.

Narrated by John C. Reilly, the story presented by Disneynature’s "Bears" will keep viewers of all ages entertained and engaged in the true life survival in the Alaskan wilderness.

Using the same formula that made "Earth" and "Chimpanzee" success at the box office and home entertainment sales, the producers spun together a tale using the best of their breath-taking photography.

The crew spent more than a year following the hibernating mother bear, Sky, and her two cubs, Scout and Amber, coming down from the mountain den and the trip to the meadow where they and the other bears in the area gather to find food. If they get by the daily obstacles, they go searching for the best places to hunt the salmon, making the run upriver to spawn.

Then it is a trip back to the den to sleep for another winter under a blanket of snow.

Emotion, intelligence and personality shine through the footage of the bears, and the presentation is a great introduction for children to know more about these great beasts.

The Blu-ray combo package was released this week and the ones sold before Tuesday will help raise funds for s great cause. A portion of the proceeds will go to the National Park Foundation through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. I had the opportunity to view the Blu-ray and DVD this week.

In the extras is where the photography and producing crew get to show off the process and work that went into the film. The "Welcome to Alaska" feature offers a look at the beach landing strip where the crew’s plane, and only way in and out of the national park, is the lifeline to the outside world. They had to cart in the base camp and photography supplies by raft and then by land. In "A Guide To Living With Bears," we meet the guides who know how to talk to the animals. With their posture and voice they show the bears that the camera crew is not a threat.

Overall, by watching the film and the extras, the viewers are give…

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Celine Dion and Miss Piggy perform in "Muppets Most Wanted," released on Blu-ray combo pack on Tuesday.
Celine Dion and Miss Piggy perform in "Muppets Most Wanted," released on Blu-ray combo pack on Tuesday.

Muppets film may be most wanted in the household

Guaranteed in every Muppets movie, television show or production ever made are three distinctive traits that multiple generations have come to love.

Gags, songs and guest cameos.

For its latest family production, Disney’s home entertainment release, "Muppets Most Wanted," doesn’t disappoint. Able to pick on itself and the genre, the writers and producers will admit that sequels are never as good as the first production. Admittedly, the crew does its level-headed best with this film that takes place as soon as "The Muppets" has ended.

I had the opportunity to review the Blu-ray as part of its national release this week.

The combo pack is impressive with the extras – and they pick on themselves again here – with the "Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets in History" and "The Unnecessarily Extended Cut" that offers an extra 12 minutes of film not shown in the theater. We’ll leave it up to you if the extended cut was worth the effort or not.

However, one cut worth the effort is the Statler and Waldorf’s version of the movie. The two older gents are used to heckling what the Muppets do, and they don’t let up here at all.

Brit comic Ricky Gervais plays Dominic Badguy, and Tina Fey of "30 Rock" and "Modern Family" dad Ty Burrell round out the human cast of characters. Kids will have no clue who most of the guest stars are, but my favorite has to be Christoph Waltz dancing the waltz. Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, Celine Dion and Stanley Tucci are good too.

None of the songs in the film will reach "Rainbow Connection" levels, but the sing-a-long "Frog-E-Oke" will be fun for the little ones of the household, and may offer a better family interaction than playing the movie over, and over and over again.

For those international crime caper-lovers on the go, add "The Muppets Most Wanted" to the Disney Movies Anywhere app that allows viewing on tablets, phones and other mobile devices connected to the cloud. 

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The stunts and street racing make "Need for Speed" a worthwhile addition to your DVD or blu-ray collection.
The stunts and street racing make "Need for Speed" a worthwhile addition to your DVD or blu-ray collection.

Stunts make "Need for Speed" worthwhile

There is a tradition of great car movies … ones made around great races and overlaying plot lines to necessitate the drivers to go way beyond the reasonable and fly at the greatest speeds possible.

The stunts in the films were done by real people, without the assist of special effects, animation and CGI.

In that vein, the spring film "Need For Speed" was produced and presented in such a way that it felt you were right there in the front seat with actors Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad") and Imogen Poots as they were running across the country to seek revenge against a former professional driver played by Dominic Cooper.

The Buena Vista Home Entertainment film based on the award-winning video game series is being released on DVD, on demand, digital HD and Blu-ray today. I had the opportunity to watch "Need For Speed" and the Blu-ray extras over the weekend.

I gained a greater appreciation for the film after watching "Ties that Bind" showing the long-time relationship that director Scott Waugh had with the family of stunt drivers on the film. The coordinators and Waugh himself were childhood friends as their dads did stunts together. They brought that trust and excitement to this film, brining perspectives and shots we haven’t seen before.

When OnMilwaukee.com’s Matt Mueller reviewed the film in March, he said that the plot has as many holes as the streets of Milwaukee do.

"So as a stunt reel, ‘Need for Speed’ is great. It's just too bad nothing else in the film received the same care and consideration," he wrote.

I can’t argue that the movie is something special that will be remembered for many years to come, however if you enjoy the B racing films of the past and like slick new cars, then this is a worth-while pick up that you’ll find yourself watching over and over again. Kind of like how I find myself watching "Gone in 60 Seconds" whenever it is on even though it’s not as cool at Steve McQueen’s "Bullet" or as good as the awesome car chases in "Ronin."…

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