‘Ocean’s’ Trilogy Arrives on 4K Ultra HD April 30

Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” trilogy of crime heist films — Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen — will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and digitally for the first time April 30 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Inspired by and based on the 1960 heist film Ocean’s 11, the three films are directed by Academy Award winner Soderbergh and feature ensemble casts including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison and Shaobo Qin.

The 4K remasters of Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) were completed at Warner Bros. Discovery’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) with the participation of Soderbergh. The restored 5.1 digital audio mix was overseen by original re-recording sound mixer and sound editor Larry Blake.

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The “Ocean’s” trilogy Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and digital contains the following previously released special features:

Ocean’s Eleven

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh and Ted Griffin
  • Commentary by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia
  • “Are You In or Out? The Making of Ocean’s Eleven”
  • “Pros & Cons: Inside Ocean’s Outfit”
  • “The Style of Steal”
  • “The Look of the Con”
  • “Original Ocean’s, Original Cool”

 

Ocean’s Twelve

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh and George Nolfi
  • “Ready, Jet Set, Go: The Making of Ocean’s Twelve”
  • “HBO First Look: Twelve Is the New Eleven: The Making of Ocean’s Twelve”
  • deleted scenes

 

Ocean’s Thirteen

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh, Brian Koppelman and David Levien
  • “Third’s a Charm: The Making of Ocean’s Thirteen
  • “Ahab with a Piggyback: The Means & Machines of Ocean’s”
  • “Jerry Weintraub Walk and Talk”
  • “Masters of the Heist”
  • deleted scenes

The Expendables 4

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/21/23;
Lionsgate;
Action;
Box Office $16.71 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong/bloody violence throughout, language and sexual material.
Stars Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Randy Couture, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Andy Garcia.

The first “Expendables” film in 2010 offered the intriguing premise of assembling a team of action all-stars as a paramilitary mercenary squad tasked with carrying out dangerous international missions. Subsequent installments expanded the roster to an almost absurd level of action talent, even if some of the bigger stars were basically relegated to cameos. The box office underperformance of the third film in 2014, however left some doubt as to the sustainability of the franchise.

Thus, despite receiving a theatrical release and a comprehensive marketing campaign, The Expendables 4 (or Expend4bles in the parlance of Hollywood’s cutesy naming conventions) almost feels like one of those direct-to-video franchise extensions that used to be more prevalent in the heyday of DVD.

At least they dragged out a few of its geriatric regulars to try to justify its existence, though a majority of the cast ends up being sidelined for most of the movie, turning it for the most part into just another Jason Statham action vehicle.

The story involves Statham’s Lee Christmas character seeking revenge when a member of the Expendables is killed during a botched mission to stop terrorists from gaining access to nuclear weapons. When Christmas is benched by the Expendables’ new CIA handler (Andy Garcia) on the subsequent mission to stop the terrorists from using the stolen nukes to ignite World War III, he decides to go anyway, which comes in handy when the rest of the team is captured.

Statham does his best to carry the proceedings across the finish line, but he isn’t given much to work with. The screenplay is saddled with trite dialogue, stilted performances and plot twists that, while predictable, ultimately don’t make a lot of sense.

Though billed at 103 minutes, the story manages to resolve itself in just over an hour and a half, leaving a whopping 11 minutes of credits.

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Expend4bles might offer a few moments of enjoyment for the franchise’s most ardent fans, but this is clearly a franchise that is a shell of its former self.

The bulk of the action takes place in two extended set pieces — first a chemical weapons plant in Libya, then a barge transporting the nukes to be detonated off the coast of Russia. It’s amusing to see the producers in the bonus materials talk about wanting to film “real” action in order to live up to the reputation of the franchise, when the final product looks like it was passed through a CGI filter.

This may be a case where the need for a ultra-high-definition presentation didn’t do the film any favors, as the visual effects look so clean they might as well be from a video game, rather than have the kind of gritty look a film like this needs. Too many close-ups of the actual stars in the middle of stunts look like obvious process shots.

The director for this installment is Scott Waugh, whose previous works include 2012’s Act of Valor, an actioner that employs the gimmick of casting real Navy SEALs, and the recent Hidden Strike, the Jackie Chan-John Cena team-up filmed in 2018 that was shelved for five years before surfacing on Netflix.

The Blu-ray includes a solo commentary track from Waugh, as well as two behind-the-scenes featurettes: the 17-minute “Bigger, Bolder, Badder: The Expendables in Action” about the stunts, and the 19-minute “More Than a Team: New Blood Meets Old Blood” about the cast. Also included is the film’s theatrical trailer. The extras are included on both the 4K disc and the regular Blu-ray of the film.

A Steelbook collection of all four “Expendables” films on both Blu-ray and 4K disc is available at Walmart for $69.99.

Walmart exclusive “Expendables” collection Steelbook

Wrath of Man

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/13/21;
Warner/MGM;
Action;
Box Office $27.4 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references.
Stars Jason Statham, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Chris Reilly, DeObia Oparei, Rob Delaney, Eddie Marsan.

Jason Statham’s fourth film with director Guy Ritchie is a brutal revenge thriller that uses a time-shifting narrative to maintain the mystery of its characters’ motivations and true identities.

Statham plays the newest employee of an armored truck company that is frequently targeted by a highly armed squad of thieves. His co-workers don’t think much of his icy demeanor until he single-handedly takes out a gang of attackers, which earns him the respect of his colleagues.

Yet it soon becomes clear he has another agenda, which relates to avenging one of the victims of the heist that opens the film — fantastically depicted in a single take from inside the van.

Ritchie, who also co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, directs with his usual flair for kinetic and brutal action, resulting in several extended shootouts that will leave the audience wondering who to trust.

The Blu-ray has contains no extras.

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Guy Ritchie’s ‘Wrath of Man’ Due on Digital June 29, Disc July 13

The revenge heist film Wrath of Man is coming to digital June 29 and DVD and Blu-ray July 13 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Director Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Gentlemen) teams up with Jason Statham (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, the “Fast & Furious” franchise) for a story about a mysterious security guard out to settle a score. The film is Ritchie’s fourth directorial collaboration with Statham.

In the film, mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman’s ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.

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The actioner, based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, also stars Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Pacific Rim: Uprising), Andy Garcia (The Mule, Oceans Thirteen), Holt McCallany (Three Kings, Fight Club), Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, Sicario, TV’s “Burn Notice”), Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down), Laz Alonso (Avatar, “Fast & Furious”), Chris Reilly (TV’s “Game of Thrones”), Raul Castillo (television’s “Looking”), DeObia Oparei (television’s “Game of Thrones,” Moulin Rouge!) and Eddie Marsan (The Gentlemen, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows).

‘Redemption Day’ Coming to DVD Feb. 23 From Paramount

The action thriller Redemption Day will come out on DVD Feb. 23 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The film is available in select theaters, on digital and on demand.

Having just returned home, decorated U.S. Marine Captain Brad Paxton (Gary Dourdan) finds his wife Katie kidnapped by a terrorist group while working in Morocco. He is forced back into action for a daring and deadly operation to save the women he loves.

The film also stars Serinda Swan, Martin Donovan, Ernie Hudson, Sami Naceri and Andy Garcia.

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Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 12/8/20;
Paramount;
Drama;
$22.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for violence and language.
Stars Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Talia Shire, Sofia Coppola, George Hamilton, Diane Keaton, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, Richard Bright, Donal Donnelly, Raf Vallone.

For his latest trick, director Francis Ford Coppola has taken on the challenge of re-editing the oft-maligned The Godfather Part III into something a bit more palatable for fans of the first two “Godfather” films.

The legendary filmmaker has been busy lately quite literally reimagining his career. Last year saw new edits of Apocalypse Now and Cotton Club hit Blu-ray (in the form of Apocalypse Now: Final Cut and Cotton Club Encore, respectively). Those efforts may have given him the nerve to revisit the concluding film of the “Godfather” saga for its 30th anniversary.

Coppola has trimmed the film by 13 minutes (from 170 minutes to a tighter 157), rearranged a few scenes to improve the main story’s pacing, and reworked the film’s opening and closing scenes. He also reverted the title to what he preferred it to be when he was making it with original “Godfather” novelist and screenwriter Mario Puzo. In calling it a Coda with the subtitle “The Death of Michael Corleone,” Coppola sees the film more along the lines of his original intentions — as an epilogue to the story of the original films.

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In the third movie, set in 1979 and 1980, the aging Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) reflects on his decades in charge of one of America’s most notorious crime families, and continues to strive for the legitimacy he claimed to be pursuing in the first two films, which took place in the 1940s and 1950s. He embarks on a scheme to buy out a European conglomerate partly owned by the Vatican, but runs headlong into church corruption and rivals unwilling to give up the old ways.

The story quite cleverly plays into a few real-life events from the late 1970s and early 1980s, namely the death of Pope John Paul I after just a month after his ascendency, and a church banking scandal — though the script has to massage the actual timeline in order to fit the fictional Corleones into the proceedings.

Coppola’s new vision of the third “Godfather” comes complete with a sumptuous new digital restoration. The Blu-ray presentation of the new version comes devoid of extras save for a minute-and-a-half introduction from Coppola, who basically recounts his reasons for the new edit that were already quoted in Paramount’s press release announcing it.

In terms of the film’s new structure, however, some of the cosmetic changes and the shorter running time make the film a bit easier to handle as a standalone movie, but many of the problems that plagued the film upon its original release aren’t so easy to erase.

The first two “Godfather” films on their own tell an almost perfect circular narrative — the contrast in the rise of power between Vito Corleone and his son, Michael, 30 or so years apart. That they were made within two years of each other — 1972 and 1974 — only deepens the connection between the two films as broader, singular work.

It’s no coincidence, then, that supercuts of the first two films in chronological order were already being broadcast on TV by 1977.

Thus, when the third film, released 16 years after the second, by design focuses solely on Michael’s older years and his attempts to transition the family away from crime, it is only natural to compare it with the original, in which the older Vito also hinted at wanting to go legit after tiring of bloodshed. It is not a comparison that works favorably to Part III, despite its many positive traits.

That inevitable comparison may have been why Coppola was reluctant to make a third film to begin with, and when he finally agreed to do it (after reportedly encountering financial problems due to some of his films underperforming in the 1980s), his instincts told him to make it more of an epilogue to the saga rather than a continuation of it. It was the studio that saddled the film with the Part III moniker, and likely the pressure to make it an epic on the scale of the first two (both of which won Best Picture Oscars).

Interestingly, in recutting the film, Coppola discards the leisurely pacing of the original edit, and the entire ceremony of Michael being honored by the Vatican, by moving the scene of Vatican’s banking representative asking Michael for help to be the new opening scene. This new structure is similar enough to how the first film opens, with the mortician asking Don Vito for help, that the obvious intention is to further explore the parallels between the father and son crime lords. If there’s no way to rework the foundations of the film as a whole to get it to measure up, at least its ambitions as a character study give it weight.

It’s an interesting contrast. Vito’s eldest son, Sonny, is so eager to replace his father as a criminal mastermind that his shortsightedness gets him killed, putting Michael in line to take over the family business, a path Vito never intended. The only ambitions of Michael’s eldest son, Anthony, lead him to becoming an opera singer. With Michael’s daughter, Mary, the lynchpin of his attempts to legitimize, Michael has nowhere to turn but his nephew, Vincent, Sonny’s illegitimate son, to serve as the new Don.

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Coppola’s new ending seems to tread on the subtitle as more of a symbolic notion of the main character’s death, rather than the literal one that seemed tacked onto the original theatrical cut.

The further examination of Michael and his ill-fated attempts to scrub his sins are still the film’s greatest asset, even if Pacino’s portrayal seems more akin to his prototypical ’90s persona than his earlier performances as the character. The film’s most-glaring weakness, however, remains the casting of Sofia Coppola in the key role of Mary. The part had originally been intended for Julia Roberts, who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, and then Winona Ryder, who left just before production due to nervous exhaustion, leaving the director to cast his own daughter in the role.

On paper, Mary’s pivotal place in Michael’s final arc is clear: She’s the shining beacon who will salvage the family’s legacy, much in the same way Vito originally envisioned Michael, but those expectations are threatened when she literally flirts with the criminal underpinnings of the family business, in the form of her cousin, Vincent (Andy Garcia). A more talented performer would have imbued Mary with a life and vibrance that forces the audience to care about her in a way that elevates the film’s reliance on her character. As much as she evolved into a talented director and screenwriter in her own right, Sofia is just not an actress, and her flat performance serves mostly to distract from the strong inter-generational dynamics between Pacino and Garcia — a criticism leveled as much at the film in 1990 as it is today. Given Mary’s foundational position to the story’s emotional underpinnings, no amount of re-editing can minimize that impact.

However, at least Mary’s arc is there for viewers to interpret. A more fundamental problem for the film is the complete absence of Tom Hagen, Robert Duvall’s character from the first two films who was practically another son to Vito and served as the family’s lawyer. Duvall opted out of the project due to a pay dispute, so Hagen was said to have died offscreen and George Hamilton was brought in to play a new family lawyer in a perfunctory role. Without Duvall, the screenplay was forced to put more emphasis on Vincent and especially Mary.

There’s no telling how much an expanded role for Duvall, with Hagen at the heart of the Corleone moral quandaries, would have elevated the film’s potential to stand alongside its predecessors.

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ Dancing to Digital Oct. 9, Disc Oct. 23 From Universal

The Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Sing-Along Edition will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 9 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Oct. 23 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned more than $118 million in theaters.

Ten years after Mamma Mia! The Movie, the prequel/sequel set to the music of ABBA features returning stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried and Christine Baranski alongside new additions Lily James, Cher and Andy Garcia. The film follows two stories: present day as Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried) prepares for the grand reopening of her mother Donna’s (Streep) hotel and 1979 when young Donna (James) first arrives on the island. Sophie learns about her mother’s adventures with the young Dynamos, Tanya (Jessica Keenan-Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies), and how young Donna first met her three possible dads Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine).

Bonus features, some exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital, include deleted/extended songs and scenes with commentary by director/screenplay writer Ol Parker; enhanced sing-alongs; cast meets cast, in which those playing young and older versions of certain cast members discuss their parts; cast chats between those playing the three young Dynamos and the young dads; a featurette on the choreography; featurettes on the development of the story, the character of Sophie, on Cher’s joining the cast, the costumes and more; and feature commentaries with Parker and producer Judy Craymer.

The film will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-ray version, all in 4K.