Injustice

4K ULTRA HD REVIEW:

Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for bloody violence.
Voices of Justin Hartley, Anson Mount, Laura Bailey, Zach Callison, Brian T. Delaney, Brandon Micheal Hall, Edwin Hodge, Oliver Hudson, Gillian Jacobs, Yuri Lowenthal, Derek Phillips, Kevin Pollak, Anika Noni Rose, Reid Scott, Faran Tahir, Fred Tatasciore, Janet Varney. 

While comic book superheroes have been likened to a modern form of mythology, stories about the characters tend to be constrained by a desire for them to inhabit a reality that for the most part mirrors our own.

This needs stems mostly from the nature of a recurring medium that allows the storytelling to remain topical to the times. Rather than exploring how the heroes could use their powers to impact problems on a global scale, most stories tend toward the heroes fighting evil counterparts of themselves, the supervillains, whose defeat allows humanity to continue along its own course while giving the heroes something to do.

Occasionally, though, the writers of these stories do explore how such characters could change the world if they were real, usually in the form of one-off adventures outside of ongoing continuity.

Marvel famously did this on a regular basis with the “What If…?” comics that were adapted into the Disney+ animated series. DC Comics did something similar with its “Elseworlds” branding, which had been preceded decades earlier by the “imaginary story” that put its characters in situations that didn’t have to return to the status quo for the next month.

Along those lines, Injustice asks what if the superpowered heroes of DC Comics decided to impose their own sense of justice upon the world.

The animated movie is based on the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us and its comic book tie-ins, the plot serving essentially as an excuse for a versus game that allowed various DC heroes to fight each other “Mortal Kombat” style.

The hero at the center of the story of Injustice is Superman, who learns Lois is pregnant with his child. Before he can celebrate, however, the Joker unleashes a scheme that involves tricking Superman into killing Lois and setting of a nuclear bomb that destroys Metropolis.

Consumed by the grief of losing his true love, Superman (voiced by Justin Hartley) and declares his intentions to impose order on the world so that such acts of evil can never happen again. Giving into his anger, Superman begins a killing spree against the Justice League’s enemies, anointing himself the world’s judge, jury and executioner and setting him down the path of tyranny. His change in philosophy fractures this Justice League, with some joining him on his new mission, while others, led by Batman (Anson Mount) vow to stop him.

The ensuing conflict is brutal, as the film earns its ‘R’ rating with bloody fight sequences that yield a high body count of heroes that normally couldn’t be killed off so casually.

Fans of the Injustice games and comics have voiced misgivings over the way the movie omitted many storylines and changed others while cramming as much as it could into a 78-minute running time. Those who are able to engage the film on its own merits, however, might find it to be an engaging superhero allegory that speaks to the heated political times in which we live.

The story plays into an underlying debate over security vs. freedom that has some obvious real-world parallels. At various points in the story, Superman decides to implement covert surveillance on all of humanity, while demanding an extreme version of gun control.

While the film isn’t afraid to go dark, it’s not without its lighter side and the occasional moment of levity. One highlight is the pairing of Harley Quinn (Gillian Jacobs) with Green Arrow (Reid Scott) in an oddly effecting partnership.

The Blu-ray includes one featurette, the half-hour “Adventures in Storytelling: Injustice — Crisis and Conflict,” a roundtable discussion of some of the films’ creators talking about the source material and the different themes explored by the story.

Also included is the two-part “Injustice for All” two-part episode of the “Justice League” animated series that originally aired in 2002.

CBS All Access Orders ‘Star Trek’ Spinoff Focused on Capt. Pike’s Enterprise

The CBS All Access streaming service May 15 announced it has ordered “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” a new series focused on Capt. Pike’s tenure as commander of the starship Enterprise 10 years before Capt. Kirk.

The series will star Anson Mount as Pike, Rebecca Romijn as first officer Number One, and Ethan Peck as science officer Lt. Spock. The trio first played the characters in the second season of CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery” and reprised the roles in a number of “Short Treks” episodes.

Though fan reaction to “Discovery” has been mixed, the performances of Mount, Romijn and Peck as the legacy characters has been widely praised, leading to calls for them to receive their own show.

“When we said we heard the fans’ outpouring of love for Pike, Number One and Spock when they boarded ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ last season, we meant it,” executive producer Alex Kurtzman said in a statement. “These iconic characters have a deep history in Star Trek canon, yet so much of their stories have yet to be told.”

The characters themselves date back to the original “Star Trek” pilot episode, “The Cage,” that was produced in 1964. Series creator Gene Roddenberry’s first attempt to sell the science-fiction series was famously rejected by NBC executives, though they were impressed enough by the concept to ask for a second pilot, which revamped the formula by replacing almost the entire cast, keeping only the alien Spock character, played by Leonard Nimoy, and introducing Capt. Kirk as played by William Shatner. Footage from the original pilot was eventually recycled for a two-part episode of the original “Star Trek” series that introduced Pike as Spock’s former captain.

“Strange New Worlds” could thus be seen in some regards as the “Star Trek” series that Roddenberry had originally envisioned in the mid-1960s. The title comes from the famous mission creed of the U.S.S. Enterprise to “explore strange new worlds” and “seek out new life and new civilizations,” with the show’s creators promising a series that returns “Star Trek” to its roots of a starship exploring a vast unknown galaxy.

“Fans fell in love with Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck’s portrayals of these iconic characters when they were first introduced on ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ last season,” Julie McNamara, EVP and head of programming at CBS All Access, said in a statement. “This new series will be a perfect complement to the franchise, bringing a whole new perspective and series of adventures to ‘Star Trek.’”

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The series premiere was written by Akiva Goldsman with a story by Goldsman, Kurtzman, and Jenny Lumet. Goldsman, Kurtzman, and Lumet will serve as executive producers in addition to Henry Alonso Myers, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth.

“With Akiva and Henry at the helm, the Enterprise, its crew, and its fans are in for an extraordinary journey to new frontiers in the Star Trek universe,” Kurtzman said.

Pike was previously played by Jeffrey Hunter in “The Cage,” with actor Sean Kenney in heavy makeup doubling for Hunter in new sequences shot for the pilot footage’s use in the original series. Bruce Greenwood played Pike in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot movie and its 2013 sequel (both co-written by Kurtzman). Number One was previously played by “Trek” mainstay (and later Gene Roddenberry’s wife) Majel Barrett in “The Cage.”

In addition to “Star Trek: Discovery,” which is expected to premiere its third season later this year, CBS All Access is also home to “Star Trek: Picard,” a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” sequel that presented its first season earlier this year, and “Short Treks,” a series of 15- to 20-minute short films based on elements from the franchise. CBS All Access will also present the animated series “Star Trek: Lower Decks.”

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“Strange New Worlds” will be the eighth live-action “Star Trek” series in the history of the franchise. The series will be produced by CBS Television Studios, Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment. Aaron Baiers, Akela Cooper, and Davy Perez will serve as co-executive producers. Goldsman will remain an executive producer and a member of the creative team on “Star Trek: Picard” as well.

A premiere date for “Strange New Worlds” was not announced.

‘Star Trek: Short Treks’ Collection on Blu-ray June 2

CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment will release Star Trek: Short Treks on Blu-ray Disc and DVD June 2.

Created for and originally presented on the CBS All Access streaming service, “Short Treks” are a spinoff of “Star Trek: Discovery” that present 10- to 15-minute stories set in the “Star Trek” universe.

The Blu-ray and DVD collection gathers nine “Short Treks.” The first season, produced between “Discovery” season one and season two, includes “Runaway,” in which Tilly bonds with a stowaway on Discovery; “Calypso,” set in the far future when a drifter encounters an abandoned Discovery; “The Brightest Star,” which delves into the backstory of Saru; and “The Escape Artist,” a standalone adventure featuring con-artist Harry Mudd.

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The second batch of shorts includes three tales about Capt. Pike and the U.S.S. Enterprise — “Q&A,” “The Trouble With Edward” and “Ask Not” — and two animated shorts, “Ephraim & Dot” and “The Girl Who Made the Stars.”

The cast includes Anson Mount as Pike, Ethan Peck as Spock, Rebecca Romijn as Number One, Rainn Wilson as Mudd, Mary Wiseman as Tilly, Doug Jones as Saru, and Aldis Hodge as Craft.

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The set includes more than 50 minutes of bonus material, including a featurette about the making of “Short Treks”; audio commentaries for “Runaway” and “Ask Not”; “Coming of Age,” a behind-the-scenes look at “Runaway”; “Shall We Dance,” a look at “Calypso”; “First Contact: Kaminar,” a look at “The Brightest Star”; “Covered in Mudd,” about “The Escape Artist”; “Engisn Spock’s First Day,” a look at “Q&A”; “Here Comes Tribble,” a deep dive “The Trouble With Edward”; “Score!,” a behind-the-curtain discussion with composer Michael Giacchino about “Ephraim and Dot”; and “Bedtime Stories,” about the animated “The Girl Who Made the Stars.”

 

Season 2 of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Beams to DVD and Blu-ray Nov. 12

Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS Home Entertainment will release Star Trek: Discovery — Season Two on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 12.

The four-disc set will include all 14 episodes of the second season of the CBS All Access original series, plus more than two hours of bonus material.

The season finds the U.S.S. Discovery joining forces with Capt. Pike (Anson Mount) of the U.S.S. Enterprise on a mission to investigate seven mysterious signals across the galaxy apparently created by the mysterious Red Angel, a being associated with the disappearance of Spock (Ethan Peck), the adopted brother of Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). The cast also includes Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Shazad Latif, Wilson Cruz, Mary Chieffo, Tig Notaro, Rebecca Romijn and Michelle Yeoh. 

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The Blu-ray and DVD will also include two “Short Treks” episodes related to the season: “Runaway” and “The Brightest Star.”

Other extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel and commentaries on the episodes “Brother,” “New Eden,” “Through the Valley of Shadows” and “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” 

Featurettes offered on the discs include:

  • “Enter the Enterprise” — a look at re-created the iconic “Star Trek” starship;
  • “Putting it Together” — about the creation of the season finale;
  • “The Red Angel” — a behind-the-scenes look at one of the the season’s major plot elements;
  • “Designing Discovery: Season Two” — a look at the locations and spaces created for the second season;
  • “Prop Me Up: Season Two” — propmaster Mario Moreira shows off the show’s props.
  • “Dress for Success: Season Two” — a look at the costume design;
  • “Creature Comforts: Season Two” — producers, craftsmen and actors discuss the design process, the implementation and the performance required to bring characters to life. Includes a discussion with makeup artist James McKinnon;
  • “Creating Space” — showing off the visual effects process;
  • “Star Trek: Discovery — The Voyage of Season Two” — a recap of the season.

 

Internationally, the Blu-ray and DVD sets will be released Nov. 18 in the U.K., Nov. 19 in Italy, Nov. 21 in Germany, Nov. 22 in Spain, Nov. 25 in the Nordics, Nov. 27 in Benelux, Nov. 28 in Denmark and Dec. 4 in France. Japan and Australia release dates are pending.