Eternals

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/15/22;
Disney/Marvel;
Sci-Fi Action;
Box Office $164.87 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for fantasy violence and action, some language and brief sexuality.
Stars Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Harish Patel, Bill Skarsgård.

For 25 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gradually adapted disparate concepts from various comic books that wouldn’t seem to mesh in a live-action setting and somehow made it seem to it together cohesively.

But the 26th film, Eternals, pushes the boundaries of the franchise’s formula so far that it almost seems too bizarre even for the MCU. Following the massive “Infinity Saga,” Eternals is something of a restart for the MCU, telling a story that challenges what audiences already knew about it.

Based on characters from Jack Kirby, who had a knack for outlandish cosmic adventures, Eternals tells the story of 10 alien heroes sent to Earth thousands of years ago to protect humanity from predators called Deviants. They were sent on this mission by Arishem, a god-like being called a Celestial who tells them that allowing life to flourish on Earth is the key to the creation of a new Celestial who will in turn go on to create new stars and planets.

These concepts aren’t presented metaphorically. The Celestials are shown as literally creating new stars and solar systems and constructing the cosmos as if it were a Lego playset.

Having aided in the development of human civilizations since the dawn of written history, the Eternals survive into modern times awaiting news that they can return home, despite seemingly defeating the Deviants hundreds of years prior and having gone their separate ways to integrate into humanity. However, when the return of the Deviants seems to portend apocalyptic news for Earth, the Eternals must reunite to stop them once again.

The Eternals themselves each have unique powers reflective of archetypal superhero abilities: flight, super speed, super strength, energy blasts, etc.

Director Chloé Zhao, coming off an Oscar win for Nomadland, has crafted a beautiful-looking comic book movie that honors Kirby’s legacy. The story, on the other hand, is often ponderous on the verge of being dull, as if the MCU suddenly decided to get so pretentious about its own success that it’s trying to win a dare about its ability to put anything on screen.

A big problem is that in trying to be its own thing and setting up a bold new direction for the MCU, Eternals raises a lot more questions than it answers about how it fits in with the previously established storylines. Why the Eternals didn’t intervene in the battle against Thanos, for example, gives rise to a tepid explanation at best. A bigger issue fans might have is, when the Earth is seemingly endangered, why the Eternals alone must deal with it without a single one of the remaining Avengers turning up to investigate what is going on.

And it’s not as if audiences don’t know those other heroes are still hanging around out there, since the MCU has already presented other movies and TV shows about what some of the established characters have been doing following Avengers: Endgame. These projects, owing to dealing with the more familiar aspects of the MCU, have been better received by fans, with the massive success of the 27th MCU film, Spider-Man: No Way Home being the epitome of that. One can only imagine Eternals being better received over time as its revelations about the history of the MCU begin to bear fruit.

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The Blu-ray and digital editions include a smattering of extras, starting with four deleted scenes that total about six minutes but don’t really add much to the story.

The making of the film is covered in the eleven-minute “Immortalized” featurette, supplemented by a commentary with director Chloé Zhao and visual effects supervisors Stephan Ceretti and Mårtin Larsson that provides an insightful look at the technical craft employed in making the film.

Less useful is the five-minute “Walks of Life” featurette in which the filmmakers and cast pat themselves on the back over the diversity of the cast, gushing over having a superhero team that reflects the demographics of the modern world despite the characters being aliens who are thousands of years old.

Rounding out the package is a two-and-a-half-minute gag reel.

Disney Announces ‘Eternals’ Streaming Date

Disney’s latest Marvel Studios feature Eternals will be available exclusively on the studio’s Disney+ streaming service starting Jan. 12.

Eternals joins 13 other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies now streaming in Imax Enhanced on Disney+ (content availability varies by region).

Eternals follows a group of heroes from beyond the stars who have been protecting the Earth since the dawn of man. When monstrous creatures called the Deviants, long thought lost to history, mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again.

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The ensemble cast includes Gemma Chan as humankind-loving Sersi, Richard Madden as the all-powerful Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as cosmic-powered Kingo, Lia McHugh as the eternally young old-soul Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry as the intelligent inventor Phastos, Lauren Ridloff as the super-fast Makkari, Barry Keoghan as aloof loner Druig, Don Lee as the powerful Gilgamesh, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, Salma Hayek as the wise and spiritual leader Ajak, and Angelina Jolie as the fierce warrior Thena.

Thriller ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ Available for Premium Digital Ownership and Rental July 2, on Disc Aug. 3

The Angelina Jolie thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead arrives for early premium digital ownership and rental July 2 and on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 3 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film is directed by Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan and stars Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Maleficent) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class).

Jolie stars as Hannah, a smoke jumper reeling from the loss of three young lives she failed to save from a fire. When she comes across a bloodied and traumatized 12-year-old boy, the two set out together to cross miles of thick forest. Braving deadly lightning storms that challenge even Hannah’s well-honed survival skills, they’re unaware of the true dangers they face as they’re hunted by two killers while a massive fiery blaze heads straight for them.

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The Blu-ray includes a making-of featurette and the DVD “Those Who Wish Me Dead First Look.”

Angelina Jolie’s ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ Among Lowest-Streamed Warner Movies

Angelina Jolie’s action-drama Those Who Wish Me Dead tracked 1.2 million HBO Max households during its opening weekend release in theaters and on subscription streaming video, according to new data from Samba TV. The movie, which features Jolie as a wildland firefighter who helps a young boy on a run from killers, generated the lowest SVOD viewership since Warner’s Tom & Jerry in February.

Samba tracks viewer recommend program data — called “automatic content recognition” — from more than 13.5 million smart TVs in the U.S.

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Dead generated $2.8 million at the domestic box office, $7.2 million worldwide. Warner’s 2021 theatrical slate streams concurrently on Max for 31 days following its box office debut.

Samba found that Dead viewership peaked on May 15, with the audience skewing younger (54-years-old and below) and non-white (black +21%, Hispanic +13% and Asian +5%). Of the top 25 designated market areas, Sacramento over-indexed the most, with streaming households up 64%.

Warner’s first hybrid theatrical/SVOD release, Wonder Woman 1984, remains the No. 1 in streaming viewership, generating 4.3 million households in its opening weekend over Christmas. Mortal Kombat started strong with 3.6 million households since its April 23 launch. Detective drama The Little Things had slightly more than 3 million households. Other Warner releases Zach Snyder’s Justice League and The Little Things generated 1.8 million and 1.4 million opening weekend Max household viewership, respectively.

Remastered 20th Anniversary ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ Blu-ray Coming June 1

Paramount Home Entertainment is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie with a newly remastered Blu-ray Disc edition of the film June 1.

Originally released on June 15, 2001, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider stars Angelina Jolie as the video game adventurer, whose exploits send her on a quest for a mysterious and powerful artifact.  The movie also stars Jon Voight, Daniel Craig, Noah Taylor and Iain Glen.

The 20th anniversary Blu-ray will include a digital copy of the film and about 90 minutes of previously released bonus content:

  • Commentary with director Simon West;
  • “Digging into Tomb Raider” featurette;
  • “Crafting Lara Croft” featurette;
  • “The Visual Effects of Tomb Raider” featurette;
  • “The Stunts of Tomb Raider” featurette;
  • “Are You Game? ” featurette;
  • Deleted scenes;
  • U2 “Elevation” music video;
  • Alternate main title;
  • Trailers.

 

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Also due June 1 will be a two-movie collection pairing Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with its 2003 sequel, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — The Cradle of Life, released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The set includes a digital copy for both films.

The sequel, also starring Jolie, finds Lara Croft on a quest to recover Pandora’s Box before it’s found by a maniacal scientist (Ciarán Hinds) who plans to use it for mass annihilation.

 

‘Serendipity,’ About Breast Cancer Battle, Due on Blu-ray, DVD on Feb. 4

Cohen Media Group has announced a Feb. 4 release date for Serendipity, an adaption of the book by French-born and New York-based artist Prune Nourry detailing her battle with breast cancer — a battle she ultimately won.

The film will be available on both Blu-ray Disc and DVD, at suggested retail prices of $30.99 and $25.99, respectively.

Angelina Jolie and Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) serve as executive producers, while Alastair Siddons (Tomb Raider) produced and wrote the film.

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The documentary follows Nourry who, after her breast cancer diagnosis, chronicles her treatment and its effect on her body, work, mind, and soul. The experience turns her medical odyssey into serendipity, an intimate artistic undertaking that leads her to find new meaning in her work and its serendipitous relationship to her own survival.

Bonus material includes the featurette Conversations at The Quad, with director Nourry.

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Disney Releasing ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ Digitally Dec. 31, on Disc Jan. 14

Disney will release the fantasy sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil through digital retailers Dec. 31, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Jan. 14.

The sequel to 2014’s Maleficent, a live-action reimagining of the classic Sleeping Beauty, stars Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and Elle Fanning as her goddaughter, Princess Aurora.

Directed by Joachim Rønning, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil finds the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora challenged by a new alliance forged on the eve of the Aurora’s wedding to Prince Philip.

The cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville and Michelle Pfeiffer.

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The film earned $111.6 million at the domestic box office and $480.6 million worldwide.

Blu-ray and digital bonus materials include two extended scenes; outtakes; the Bebe Rexha music video of “You Can’t Stop the Girl”; a Maleficent: Mistress of Evil VFX reel; and the featurettes “Origins of the Fey,” in which Jolie discusses Maleficent’s lore, her newly discovered origins and the diversity of the cast who portray the Fey; “Aurora’s Wedding,” in which Fanning gushes over Aurora’s fairytale wedding, and special guests give their best to the bride and groom; “If You Had Wings,” a glimpse of the elaborate visual effects that allow the Fey to take to the skies.

The digital version at select retailers will include an exclusive “Lickspittle” featurette, in which fantasy-film veteran Warwick Davis considers how every aspect of the film’s design inspired his tragic character.

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