Animated ‘Batman: Hush’ Due July 20 Digitally, Aug. 13 on Disc

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Batman: Hush, the next installment of the DC Universe line of animated movies, digitally July 20 and on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and the DC Universe streaming service Aug. 13.

An adaptation of a popular comic book storyline from 2002 and 2003, the film centers on a shadowy new villain in Gotham City known as Hush who uses Batman’s rogues gallery to attempt to destroy his crime-fighting career, as well as Bruce Wayne’s personal life, which has become complicated by a relationship with Selina Kyle, the alter ego of Catwoman.

Batman: Hush is the 35th film in the DC Universe animated movie brand and the 14th film in the DC Animated Movie Universe, a shared continuity started by Son of Batman and Justice League: War.

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The voice cast includes Jason O’Mara as Batman, Jennifer Morrison as Catwoman, Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane, Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor, Vanessa Williams as Amanda Waller, Jason Spisak as Joker, Peyton List as Poison Ivy (reprising her role from the “Gotham” TV show), Peyton R. List as Batgirl, Geoffrey Arend as the Riddler, Sean Maher as Nightwing, Maury Sterling as Thomas Elliot, Bruce Thomas as Jim Gordon, Adam Gifford as Bane, Sachie Alessio as Lady Shiva, Stuart Allan as Robin, James Garrett as Alfred, Hynden Walch as Harley Quinn, Chris Cox as Scarecrow, and Tara as a reporter.

The home video release will include the “DC Showcase” animated short Sgt. Rock, based on DC Comics’ gritty World War II hero.

Other extras include the featurette “Batman: Love in Time of War,” about the relationship between Batman and Catwoman; audio commentary executive producer James Tucker, director Justin Copeland and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker; a preview of the upcoming animated movie Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, starring Rosario Dawson; and the episodes “The Underworld Underground Caper” and “Partners in Peril” from the 1968 animated series “The Batman/Superman Hour.”

Warner Releasing ‘Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters’ Aug. 6

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally Aug. 6.

The film is a follow up to previous direct-to-video movies based on the Lego DC Super Heroes video games, and not the theatrically released The Lego Batman Movie.

The story involves Batman, Batgirl, Robin and other superheroes facing off against Red Hood, who is obsessed with destroying the Bat-family and all of Gotham City.

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The cast includes Troy Baker as Batman, Alyson Stoner as Batgirl, Scott Menville as Robin, Jason Spisak as Red Hood, Steve Blum as Scarecrow, Zach Callison as Billy Batson, Cam Clarke as Brother Eye and the Bat Computer, Will Friedle as Nightwing, Ralph Garman as Wizard, Jake Green as Fred, Josh Keaton as Board Member, Tom Kenny as Comissioner Gordon and Penguin, Christian Lanz as Two-Face, Nolan North as Alfred and Killer Croc, Andre Sogliuzza as Riddler, Tara Strong as Batwoman, and Fred Tatasciore as Solomon Grundy.

The Blu-ray and DVD releases will include an 84-piece Lego mini Ultimate Batmobile while supplies last.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

 BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/7/19;
Warner;
Animated;
Box Office $105.73 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some rude humor.
Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman.

Picking up directly where 2014’s The Lego Movie left off, the sequel finds the Lego characters under siege by the Duplo invaders for five years, eventually forming a post-apocalyptic settlement a la “Mad Max.”

When Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and a handful of other characters are whisked away in the latest invasion to a far-off planet in the “Systar System,” it’s up to Emmet (Chris Pratt) to try to rescue them, with the help of an adventurer named Rex he meets along the way.

Lego Movie 2 follows the same conceit as the first film that the adventures of the Lego characters are the manifestations of the imaginations of the children playing with them, with more puns about how real-world situations can threaten their existence (this time they fear ending up in the “Bin of Storage”). The film once again hints at the toys being alive, and idea it can only take so far before it starts to delve into “Toy Story” territory.

The war with the invaders stems from a sibling rivalry, as the little sister of the kid from the first film wants to play with her brother, only to be rebuffed. So, there’s a nice little message about sibling cooperation at the heart of the story for good measure.

The animation is as stylish and colorful as the first film, the story works in a few more catchy songs (many by YouTube star Jon Lajoie, who played Taco on “The League”), and the franchise continues to make smart and funny observations about its nature as essentially a Lego toy commercial. But after following up the first movie with “Batman” and “Ninjago” Lego spinoffs, the concept is a bit played out.

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The Blu-ray features the movie in an “Everything Is Awesome” sing-along mode that showcases facts about the movie, on-screen lyrics, trivia games and more.

There’s also a full-length commentary from director Mike Mitchell, writers/producers Phil Lord and Chritopher Miller, and animation director Trisha Gum.

Additional behind-the-scenes material includes the 9-minute “They Came in Pieces: Assembling The Lego Movie 2,” featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

The Blu-ray also offers 12 minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes, including some interesting footage showing parts of the story from the point of view of the kids playing it out.

Just as a reminder that these are toys you can buy at your local store, there’s a two-minute “Lego Sets in Action” video of animations of the new products featured in the movie, and a three-and-a-half-minute featurette that interviews Lego toy designers about the toys created for use in the movie.

The disc also includes four additional minutes of promotional material, including the actors talking about their characters’ minifigs.

On the musical side, there’s a music video for the “Super Cool” song by Beck, featuring Robyn and comedy team The Lonely Island.

Finally, there’s a three-minute Christmas-themed short film called “Emmet’s Holiday Party.”

‘Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure’ on Disc June 11

Lionsgate will release Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure on Blu-ray, DVD, digital and on demand June 11.

The Dove Foundation-approved second sequel to the 2016 animated adventure Norm of the North features polar bear king Norm and his lemming friends embark on a journey across the world to help recover a stolen Chinese artifact.

The first sequel, Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom, was released Feb. 12.

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Justice League vs. The Fatal Five

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/16/19;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence, some bloody images, language and partial nudity.
Voices of Elyes Gabel, Diane Guerrero, Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, George Newbern, Daniela Bobadilla, Kevin Michael Richardson, Rom Kenny, Sumalee Montano, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez.

At first glance, Justice League vs. The Fatal Five would seem to be a return to the world of the “Justice League Unlimited” animated series, with the voice casting of Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg and George Newbern as Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman respectively.

The film’s aesthetic is based on the series and even the music returns to some of the iconic themes from the show.

The movie’s place in canon is the subject of a discussion in the commentary track, which acknowledges that some continuity issues with the series would have to be dealt with, but that enough time has passed since the final episode to allow for some adjustments if viewers want to make that connection. The decision to use the “JLU” style mostly came down to budgetary constraints, as they didn’t have time to create a new style to differentiate the film from DC Universe animated movie series that share their own continuity, of which this is not a part. Sharp-eyed viewers may notice the movie borrows design elements from other previous DC animated works, such as the “Green Lantern” animated series.

Whatever the case, the movie isn’t written to depend on a connection with a previous work, and is certainly entertaining enough to stand on its own. The movie offers some nice action and a few unexpected surprises, both in terms of references to comic book lore and some genuine laughs stemming from the characters and dialogue. It is a bit harder edge than the “JLU” series as well.

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The story involves the 31st century super team The Legion of Super-Heroes battling three members of the villainous Fatal Five, who want to steal a time machine to go to the 21st century to free the other two members of their team from a prison.

The villains end up making it past the Legion’s defenses, but not before Star Boy (Elyes Gabel) hitches a ride back with them in an effort to stop them.

The wrinkle to Star Boy’s plan is that he requires medicine to maintain his mental stability, and without it he comes across as unhinged to the authorities, who put him in Arkham Asylum.

However, the Justice League uncovers his true identity and recruits him in their effort to stop the Five, whose plan is to kidnap a Green Lantern so they can access the prison to free the two trapped members of their team.

The Green Lantern in this case is Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerrero), who is dealing with anxiety over the stress of being a superhero.

The common bond of mental disorder unites Cruz and Star Boy, as they must learn to overcome their illnesses to become the heroes they need to be.

An eight-minute “Battling the Invisible Menace” featurette further explores the topic of mental illness and its role in the story.

Another featurette, the 15-minute “Unity of a Hero,” focuses on the diversity of characters depicted in the film.

The disc also includes a couple of episodes from previous DC animated series with similar storylines, and a nine-minute preview of the next DC Universe animated movie, Hush, an adaptation of a Batman comic book storyline.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 3/19/19;
Sony Pictures;
Animated;
Box Office $189.87 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.
Voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine.

One of the Holy Grails of adapting a comic book to film is the idea of evoking the feeling of reading a comic while watching the story play out. Filmmakers have tried different techniques over the years to achieve this, such as brighter colors or hyper-stylized action, to varying effect, with the best results often focusing on just telling the story in a way that brings the spirit of the work into a different medium.

Animation would seem to be closer to the artistic foundations of comic books, but often present challenges of their own.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is probably the closest a movie has come to finding that sweet spot between telling a comic book story while immersing the viewer in the fantastic art that is often unique to the panel-to-panel format.

Its innovative animation style, layering hand-drawn animation over CGI, combined with a thrilling story of self-discovery are just a few of the reasons Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.

The film is a deft blending of self-parody with an ambitious attempt by Sony Pictures to explore new aspects of the Spider-Man concept while the live-action version of the character is on loan to Marvel Studios.

In particular, the film is an adaptation of the Miles Morales version of the character, a mixed-race teenager who gains the powers of Spider-Man in an alternate reality in which Peter Parker is killed.

In the film, Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore), stumbles upon a plot by the villainous gangster Kingpin (Live Schreiber) to open a portal into alternate dimensions in search of replacement versions of his recently deceased wife and son. The plan goes awry when versions of Spider-Man from a variety of realities began to appear, and they team up to help Miles learn how to control his new powers and figure out how to return home before Kingpin’s machine damages the multiverse.

The alternate versions of Spider-Man really let the creative team shine with the parody aspects of the film by introducing characters in a variety of styles. There’s a late-30s Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) who has become depressed after years of being a hero has left his personal life in shambles; there’s Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenage girl version of Spidey; there’s Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), a black-and-white private detective from the 1930s; there’s an anime version involving a little girl and her pet robot from the future; and there’s Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), essentially Porky Pig in a Spider-Man costume.

The combination of the various versions offers not only some of the best laughs ever to be had with a superhero movie, but make for a terrific tribute to what has made Spider-Man such an iconic character over the years. There’s also a post-credits sequence that really takes it up a notch in that regard.

It’s enough to thrill longtime fans of the character, particularly the Miles Morales version, while providing enough nods to the aspects of the mythology that most average viewers would already be familiar with so as not to need to be an avid comics reader to follow along.

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The Blu-ray is loaded with a ton of bonus material, including the new animated short “Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham,” which serves as a prequel to the film in showing us a Spider-Ham adventure that was interrupted when he gets pulled into Miles’ reality.

In addition, there’s an “Alternate Universe Mode” for the movie in which some scenes are replaced with storyboards of earlier concepts, as a way for the filmmakers to ponder how the film could have turned out. It runs about 26 minutes longer than the theatrical cut (which comes in at 117 minutes) and even starts with the Spider-Ham short.

The regular version of the film includes a commentary with the filmmakers, which is a nice guide to how the various creative decisions evolved to get to the final movie, including casting decisions and the re-imagining of certain well-known characters.

Many of the topics are covered in specific featurettes as well.

The eight-minute “We Are Spider-Man” examines the key messages of the film, while the five-minute “Spider-Verse: A New Dimension” deals with the animation style and techniques for adapting the comics.

The 15-minute “The Ultimate Comics Cast” showcases the actors involved in the film and what makes them such a good fit for their characters. The two-part “Designing Cinematic Comics Characters” offers an eight-minute look at the design of the heroes, and five-minutes devoted to the creation of the villains.

“The Spider-Verse Super-Fan Easter Egg Challenge” is a five-minute video that points out some of the references hidden throughout the film, while inviting viewers to look for more.

There’s also the eight-and-a-half-minute “A Tribute to Stan Lee & Steve Ditko,” the co-creators of Spider-Man who both passed away in 2018. Stan Lee recorded one of his famous cameos for the film.

Finally, the disc includes music lyric videos for two songs, “Sunflower” and “Familia.”

There are also some digital-exclusive bonus featurettes. The three-minute “Another, Another Times Square” provides a primer on the concept of alternate realities, the minute-and-a-half “Meanwhile, in a Gassy Universe” is a juvenile montage of various clips from the film with dialogue replaced by fart sounds (no doubt the work of Spider-Ham).

Vudu has a minute-long “An All-Star Cast” promotional video, while Movies Anywhere provides videos for how to draw Miles and Gwen, about three minutes for each character.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Animated Film Oscar Nominee ‘Mirai’ Coming to Disc and Digital April 9 From Universal

The Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Film, Mirai, is coming out on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, digital (including Movies Anywhere) and on demand April 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Japanese film follows a young boy who embarks on a fantastical journey when his new baby sister is born and learns the importance of family. The voice cast includes John Cho, (Star Trek, Searching), Rebecca Hall (The TownChristine), and Daniel Dae Kim (“LOST,” “Hawaii Five-0”).

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Mirai is the first animated feature from Japan to garner a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature and is the 2019 Annie Award winner for Best Animated Feature — Independent.

Bonus features on Blu-ray and digital include Japanese cast interviews, in which the cast of the original language version of Mirai is interviewed by host Hiroyuki Amano; “Mirai at Cannes Film Festival,” in which director Mamoru Hosoda and Moka Kamishiraishi (voice of Kun) attend the Cannes Film Festival for the world premiere of Mirai; “The New World of Mamoru Hosoda,” a behind-the-scenes look at Studio Chizu with Hosoda as he builds a new world for Mirai; “Mirai in Japan,” in which the  the director and cast of Mirai greet audiences across Japan following the release of the film; “Mamoru Hosoda Visits Toyoma Prefecture,” in which Gen Hoshino (voice of Father) gets a special tour of Studio Chizu guided by the director; and a message from the director and Japanese cast of Mirai to their future selves.

Bonus features on Blu-ray, digital and DVD include an interview with the director; “Visiting Studio Chizu,” in which Gen Hoshino (voice of Father) gets a special tour of the studio guided by the director; trailers and TV spots.

Oscar-Nominated ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Swinging to Digital Feb. 26, Disc March 19 From Sony

Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Feature Film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings to digital Feb. 26 and 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD March 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film, which has grossed more $350 million in theaters worldwide, introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the iconic mask. The voice cast includes Shameik Moore as Morales alongside Jake Johnson (“New Girl”) as Peter B. Parker, Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee) as Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen, Mahershala Ali (Green Book) as Miles’ Uncle Aaron, Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”) as Jefferson Davis, Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”) as Aunt May, Luna Lauren Velez (“How To Get Away with Murder”) as Rio Morales, Zoë Kravitz (“Big Little Lies”) as Mary Jane, John Mulaney (“Big Mouth”) as Spider-Ham, with Nicholas Cage (The Croods) as Spider-Man Noir, Kathryn Hahn (Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation) as Doc Ock and Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) as the villain Kingpin.

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More than 90 minutes of bonus content includes the original short,  “Spider-Ham: Caught In a Ham,” in which Spider-Ham gets sucked into another dimension; “Alternate Universe Mode,” in which fans can view the film in a new way to discover alternate scenes, plotlines, characters and more with the filmmakers as their guide; “The Spider-Verse Super-Fan Easter Egg Challenge,” where viewers are challenged to find every single Easter Egg hidden within the Spider-Verse; “We Are Spider-Man,” which takes a deep dive into the diversity of the characters; “Spider-Verse: A New Dimension,” featuring the artists and filmmakers who pushed the boundaries of the comic artform; “The Ultimate Comics Cast,” about the characters and cast; “A Tribute to Stan Lee & Steve Ditko,” honoring the creators of Spider-Man; “Designing Cinematic Comics Characters,” a breakdown of the character design, including costume, movement in animation and distinct powers for each character; “Heroes & Hams,” about the Spider-people of the Spider-Verse; “Scorpions and Scoundrels,” about the villains; and two lyric videos, “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee and “Familia”  by Nicki Minaj & Anuel AA (feat. Bantu).

‘Justice League vs. The Fatal Five’ Given Release Dates by Warner

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated Justice League vs. The Fatal Five digitally March 30, and on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray April 16.

The latest entry in the DC Universe movie series is a throwback to the style of the “Justice League Unlimited” animated series, and features the return of Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg and George Newbern as the voices of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, respectively.

The story involves the Justice League combatting a threat from the future in the form of the Fatal Five. They’ll need the help of budding Green Lantern Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerrero) and the peculiar Star Boy (Elyes Gabel), an ally from another time.

The voice cast also includes Peter Jessop, Matthew Yang King, Sumalee Montano, Philip Anthony Rodriguez, Daniela Bobadilla, Kevin Michael Richardson, Noel Fisher, Tara Strong and Tom Kenny.

Extras include an audio commentary with the filmmakers; the featurette “Battling the Invisible Menace,” about how dealing with anxiety and depression can mark the difference between being a hero and a villain; the featurette “Justice League vs. Fatal Five: Unity of Hero,” about the diversity of the pantheon of DC heroes; a sneak peek at the upcoming animated movie Batman: Hush; the “Justice League Unlimited” episode “Far From Home”; and the “Legion of Superheroes” episode “Man of Tomorrow.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Justice League vs. The Fatal Five will feature Dolby Vision HDR and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Disney’s ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Comes Home in February

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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release the animated film Ralph Breaks the Internet digitally Feb. 12, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 26.

The sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph features the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson and Alan Tudyk.

The story involves video game characters Ralph (Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman) traveling from the arcade to the Internet on a quest for a part to save Vanellope’s Sugar Rush game. The film features several pop culture cameos, including a scene featuring all of the Disney Princesses.

The film has earned more than $190 million at the domestic box office and $435 million worldwide.

The DVD, Blu-ray and digital editions will include the music videos for “Zero” by Imagine Dragons and “In This Place” by Julia Michaels.

The Blu-ray and digital versions will also include deleted scenes, the behind-the-scenes featurette “How We Broke the Internet,” a “Surfing for Easter Eaggs” featurette about hidden references in the movie, the featurette “The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet” and a “BuzzzTube Cats” compilation.

The digital edition, which can also be accessed through the redemption code included with the film’s Blu-ray combo packs, will come with the exclusive featurette “Baby Drivers: Slaughter Racing School,” a look at the film’s artists learning how to drive race cars.

Digital bonus materials will vary by retailer.