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Disney In Depth: In Memoriam 2015: The Walt Disney Company
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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Disney In Depth Banner In Memoriam

In Memoriam 2015: The Walt Disney Company…

Reflecting on the past year in the world of Disney entertainment, we remember the premieres of new films and attractions, as well as the moments that helped make 2015 to be one of Disney’s finest in recent decades. But the passing of countless company contributors (artists, actors, and more) always stings. This special edition of Disney In Depth remembers many of the men and women who, in one way or another, shaped how The Walt Disney Company is today.

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Sir Christopher Lee – Remembering a Legend
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Dr. Zaius   |  @   |  
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Christopher Lee

This is not an obituary or a career retrospective. This is simply one fan discussing his memories of an amazing man and tremendous actor — Sir Christopher Lee, who passed away earlier this week. There’s a popular meme making the rounds on Facebook detailing the accolades of Christopher Lee, ending with the line, “Now let’s see Chuck Norris top that.” I won’t discuss Lee’s absolutely badass life in great detail, but suffice to say he served in the military every year of WWII, was a highly ranked British officer, hunted Nazi war criminals, and was knighted for his contributions to the arts. This is about Christopher Lee the performer, a man born 93 years ago who had 281 IMDb credited roles and was probably the greatest screen villain in history.

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Legendary Actor Sir Christopher Lee Has Died
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Empress Eve   |  @   |  
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Christopher Lee as Saruman The Hobbit

Legendary actor Sir Christopher Lee, best known to modern audiences for his role as Saruman in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings film trilogies, died on Sunday in a London hospital after suffering from respiratory problems and heart failure, according to The Guardian. He was 93. Danish former model Birgit Kroencke Lee, his wife of over 50 years, reportedly delayed releasing the news until today so that family could be notified first.

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Last Minute Movie Review: The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies
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Bombardier Jedi   |  @   |  
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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Movie Review

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Directed by Peter Jackson
Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom
Warner Brothers
Release Date: December 17, 2014

In what I like to call a “see it while you still can” style of reviewing movies before they leave theaters, I finally got around to catching Peter Jackson’s final film in the The Hobbit trilogy: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

And honestly, I can say that if you loved the Lord of the Rings movies of Jackson’s, then you might indeed wanna catch this before it leaves theaters. And you need not worry if you skipped the second movie in the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, or even the first movie, An Unexpected Journey, at this point. But I would never recommend a fan of the original book to ever see this particular film. The first two…sure…but this one, not so much. It’s complicated. Let me explain.

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Blu-ray Review: The Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King: Extended Edition
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BAADASSSSS!   |  
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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King: Extended Edition
Blu-ray
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, and Sean Astin
New Line Home Video
Release Date: August 28, 2012

You can read Dr. Geek, Ph.D’s review of The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition from July 2011 here.

“The battle of Helm’s Deep is over; the battle for Middle-Earth is about to begin.”

In Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film Pierrot le Fou the late filmmaking giant Samuel Fuller, a legendary purveyor of uncompromising dramas and adventures that were not afraid of journeying into the darkest realms of the human soul, said, “Film is like a battleground. Love. Hate. Action. Violence. In one word…emotion.” Though he was making a cameo in a movie instead of granting an interview that brief speech perfectly summed up Fuller’s philosophy of cinema, a philosophy that is alive and well in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the third and final installment in one of the most thrilling epic trilogies in motion picture history.

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Blu-ray Review: The Lord Of The Rings – The Two Towers: Extended Edition
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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Lord Of The Rings – The Two Towers: Extended Edition
Blu-ray
Directed by Peter Jackson
Written by Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Fran Walsh; based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, and Sean Astin
New Line Home Video
Release Date: August 28, 2012

You can read Dr. Geek, Ph.D’s review of The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition from July 2011 here.

When you take a look back at some of the greatest second chapters in motion picture trilogies of all time like The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II, and (my personal favorite) Evil Dead II it is easy to understand why so many turn out vastly superior to their originals. Since most trilogies use their first story to act as set-up for almost everything that happens next the second is where things really start to take off. In successful film franchises it is also in the second installment where events begin to take darker turns, characters are forced to traverse a metaphorical – and sometimes literal – Hell to reach their personal Heaven, and the endings are very rarely happy or even conclusive.

Because the creators of the series – from the screenwriters to the studio executives with control over the green light to the bravura director and producer(s) who must assemble a crack team of actors and technicians to bring their mutual vision roaring to life – believe that the audiences who made the first movie a smashing success are invested in the ongoing narrative to the point where they will follow it wherever the filmmakers desire. Thus they are granted license to put their beloved characters through a series of traumatizing physical and psychological journeys where the only optimistic outcome is to survive to fight another day, nothing more.

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Blu-ray Review: The Lord Of The Rings – The Fellowship Of The Ring: Extended Edition
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition
Blu-ray
Directed by Peter Jackson
Written by Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, and Fran Walsh; based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, and Sean Astin
New Line Home Video
Release Date: August 28, 2012

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring accomplished a feat that few films have ever been able to do: it made a believer out of me. When the movie was first released in December 2001 it proved that epic fantasy features that were not set in a galaxy far, far away could still break box office records. I didn’t see the movie during its blockbuster theatrical run because….I really thought it was going to be terrible. There, I confess. It took me until Fellowship‘s first DVD release in August 2002 to realize that my harsh pre-judging of the movie, mostly based on the simmering anger I felt towards the past few years of bloated Hollywood FX spectacles that offered fantastic visuals but little in the way of memorable stories and characters, was in haste and a huge mistake.

I remember the sweltering summer evening when I rented a copy of Fellowship from my local now-defunct Hollywood Video on the way home from work. Knowing in advance that it was a three-hour flick my initial plan was to watch the first half at the least before hitting the sack so I could get up the next morning for an early shift at the Tower Records I had been working at back then for more than three years. Twenty minutes following the start of my first viewing of Fellowship of the Ring and I was hooked; there would be no “To Be Continued” that night. Even though I risked getting barely enough sleep to pass for a member of the living the next day I watched the movie until its very end, and by the time Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee walked off into the sunset to more adventures I was a full-fledged Rings fan.

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Christopher Lee Brings Heavy Metal To Christmas With “Jingle Hell”
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Ryan Midnight   |  
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Christopher Lee Heavy Metal Christmas Too

Christopher Lee is back with another Yule tide release, A Heavy Metal Christmas Too, which takes the classic “Jingle Bells” and gives it a heavy metal face lift with some excellent choppy riffs and all new lyrics, giving it the new moniker “Jingle Hell.” It is, as with basically anything that Lee puts effort into, amazing.

The single also includes a heavy metal rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which is equally brilliant. Lee, at 91, is making a very good case that there is none more metal than him with this second release that hopefully will become a tradition for years to come. You can hear Lee discuss “Jingle Hell” below, as well as some samples from both songs.

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Blu-ray Review: Dracula: Prince Of Darkness
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Dracula Prince of Darkness Blu-ray

Dracula: Prince of Darkness
Blu-ray (Hammer Collector’s Edition)
Director: Terence Fisher
Screenwriter: Jimmy Sangster
Cast: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir, Francis Matthews
Millennium Entertainment
Not Rated | 90 Minutes
Release Date: September 17, 2013

Directed by Terence Fisher, Dracula: Prince of Darkness takes place in 1895, a decade after the events of Horror of Dracula, Hammer Film Productions’ 1958 film starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

The film begins with the final scenes from Horror of Dracula, showing Dracula’s death at the hands of Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). Using a makeshift crucifix, Van Helsing forces Count Dracula into the destructive rays of the sun. Dracula (Christopher Lee) is destroyed and crumbles to dust in the sunlight.

10 years later, Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) is traveling the English countryside. He happens across a mob of villagers who are going to stake a woman through the heart – for fear that she is a vampire. Sander prevents the staking and chastises the presiding priest for perpetuating the fear of vampirism.

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Horror Cult Classics ‘Nightbreed’ and ‘The Wicker Man’ Getting Restored Blu-ray Releases
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Nightbreed

This past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con unleashed the usual torrential downpour of geek-pleasuring news stories such as this and obviously this. But as far as I’m concerned the biggest news coming out of the Con was the announcement that Shout! Factory was planning on releasing several beloved action and horror movies on DVD and Blu-ray later this year and early in 2014 through their Scream Factory label.

Among their slate of upcoming titles are John Carpenter’s inner city siege story Assault on Precinct 13, the 1982 remake of Cat People directed by Taxi Driver/Rolling Thunder writer Paul Schrader, and Sam Raimi’s outrageous pre-Spider Man superhero adventure Darkman featuring Liam Neeson kicking major butt almost two decades before he played that guy whose daughter was…you know…Taken.

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