Uncharted

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Adventure;
Box Office $146.64 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence/action and language.
Stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Antonio Banderas.

While not a perfect adaptation of the popular video game franchise of the same name, Uncharted delivers an entertaining adventure film pastiche anchored by its likable leads.

The casting of Tom Holland to play the game’s protagonist, treasure hunter Nathan Drake, was almost certainly an attempt by Sony to repurpose the most bankable star on their roster as the anchor for a new franchise following his mega-successful “Spider-Man” movies. However, as Holland is a bit young to play the seasoned Drake portrayed in the games, the film’s plot takes on the flavor of a prequel, telling the story of Nate’s first big adventure.

In taking this direction, the film draws inspiration mostly from the third and fourth games, which featured flashbacks to the younger Nate’s time spent as a wayward youth in and out of orphanages with his brother, Sam.

Mark Wahlberg plays Sully, who in the games is Nate’s mentor and pilot, but is presented in the film as more of a rival and reluctant ally as the pair learn to trust each other to set up the relationship seen in the games. Wahlberg had actually been tapped to play Nate when attempts to make an Uncharted movie first started swirling a decade ago.

In the film, Sully recruits Nate to help him find the lost treasure of Ferdinand Magellan. Sully explains that he had been working with Sam, who disappeared, and he needs Nate’s help to decipher the clues to the whereabouts of Magellan’s ships. Nate agrees, hoping to find his long-lost brother.

Standing in their way is Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), whose family originally funded Magellan’s expedition. He wants to find the gold collected by Magellan’s crews in order to restore his family’s name.

From there, the film is pretty straightforward in sticking to the tropes of treasure quests — from Indiana Jones to National Treasure to The Goonies — with the characters navigating their way through clever clues and death traps to discover the prize. Director Ruben Fleischer provides a commentary track on the Blu-ray in which he lays out many of his inspirations for the film, as well as his attempts to stay true to the spirit of the games while also laying the groundwork for future movies.

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Holland and Wahlberg for the most part seem like their typical film personas than the characters from the game they’re supposed to be playing, but they work well together, and their breezy charisma brings a lighter touch to the proceedings. And, at times, the action does evoke some of the feeling of playing the games.

Aside from some clunky CGI used to enhance certain action scenes, the film looks great, hopping around the globe from one exotic locale to another.

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The Blu-ray includes several behind-the-scenes featurettes that tally close to a half-hour in total. The four-minute “Becoming Nathan Drake” looks at Holland’s take on the character, while the four-minute “The Buddy System” looks at the pairing of Holland and Wahlberg. The four-minute “Villains, Backstabbers, & Accomplices” examines many of the films’ supporting characters, and the four-and-a-half-minute “Charting the Course: On Set With Ruben Fleischer” delves into the director’s vision for the film. The six-minute “Never a Dull Moment: Stunts & Action” is pretty self-explanatory, and is supplemented by a five-minute breakdown of a big action scene set on a cargo plane.

Among the promotional materials are a three-minute music video for “No Mind” by Milkblood, and four-minutes of Web ads.

Rounding out the extras are more than 10 minutes of deleted scenes that offer some fun additional tidbits and character interactions.

‘Uncharted’ Headed to Digital April 26, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD May 10

The action adventure Uncharted is headed to digital April 26 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 10 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting race to reach the prize before the ruthless Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs.

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Special features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital include deleted and extended scenes; behind-the-scenes featurettes; and commentary with director Ruben Fleischer. The DVD includes one behind-the-scenes featurette.

 

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/17/21;
Lionsgate;
Action Comedy;
Box Office $37.74 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content.
Stars
Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman.

The sequel to 2017’s The HItman’s Bodyguard, like its predecessor, is an affable actioner that coasts on irreverent humor and a solid cast that appears to be having fun with the proceedings.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard looks in on disgraced personal bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is having nightmares about Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), the notorious hitman from the first film he was tasked with protecting against agents of a European despot he was set to testify against.

As a result of those events, Bryce has been refused recertification by the bodyguard licensing agency, and is instructed by a therapist to take a long vacation to put thoughts of violence behind him. His sabbatical to a tropical beach is short-lived, however, when he is recruited by Darius’ wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek, who gets to expand her small role from the first movie) to help rescue her husband from an international cartel.

Extracting him embroils the trio in a larger plot involving a Greek shipping magnate and criminal mastermind (Antonio Banderas) who seeks revenge against the European Union for imposing economic sanctions on Greece.

As pressure on them mounts from the Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) overseeing the operation, Bryce turns to his stepfather (Morgan Freeman) for help, which only gets them into more trouble.

Another subplot involves Sonia and Darius trying to have a baby, but her loyalty is called into question when it turns out she and the tycoon used to be an item.

What the film lacks in subtlety it makes up for with inventive mayhem and bloody action juxtaposed by the odd couple relationship between the Kincaids, who seem to enjoy unleashing casual violence on their enemies, and Bryce, who insists on tackling the mission without killing anyone or even using a gun.

As with the first movie, the breezy attitude of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard makes it a fun diversion, but it’s unlikely to have much staying power after the credits roll.

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The Blu-ray includes a five-minute gag reel and several good bonus featurettes, including the nine-minute “Ryan, Sam, Salma: One F’d Up Family,” the seven-minute “Gone Soft: The New Michael Bryce,” the eight-minute “#stuntlife” and the four-minute “On the Set of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The 4K disc has the same extra content as the regular Blu-ray disc.

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Batman: The Long Halloween — Part Two

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/10/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some violence and bloody images.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke, Katee Sackhoff, Titus Welliver, David Dastmalchian, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, Julie Nathanson, Fred Tatasciore, Alastair Duncan.

The second half of The Long Halloween delivers a satisfying conclusion to the animated adaptation of the famed 1990s Batman comic book story.

In Part Two, Gotham’s mob bosses struggle to maintain control of their traditional criminal enterprises as Gotham City continues to be overrun by costumed supervillains in the wake of Batman’s rise as the city’s protector. Picking up from the post-credits scene of Part One, Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) has enthralled Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) into signing over his assets to mafia kingpin Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver), but the scheme is thwarted by Catwoman (Naya Rivera). Meanwhile, the serial killer known as Holiday continues to wage war on Gotham’s crime families, leading to rampant speculation over the murderer’s true identity.

When suspicion falls upon district attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel), a surprise attack leaves him physically scarred, transforming him into the villainous Two-Face, and sealing the fate of Gotham’s future once and for all.

Part Two is darker and bloodier than the first half, with graphic animated violence throughout.

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Neither of the Blu-rays for parts one or two includes a featurette about the source material, which is pretty common for the DC Universe animated movies, so perhaps one is being saved for the upcoming 4K Blu-ray that combines both halves into a single longer film, which is slated for next year.

The Part Two Blu-ray does include featurettes about several earlier DC movies, plus a 10-minute preview of the upcoming Injustice animated movie based on the video game about DC heroes fighting each other.

The Blu-ray also includes the excellent two-part “Two-Face” episode depicting the villains origin on “Batman: The Animated Series.”

Also included is the 15-minute DC Showcase animated short Blue Beetle, which is a hilarious homage to the style of superhero cartoons from the 1960s and ’70s, even down to the goofy theme song. The story involves Blue Beetle (Matt Lanter) investigating a villain who uses soda to brainwash people into becoming his henchmen.

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‘Dolittle’ Coming to Digital March 24, Disc — Including 4K — April 7

Dolittle will arrive on digital March 24 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand April 7 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Robert Downey Jr. plays Dr. Dolittle, a man who can talk to animals. The cast also includes the voice talents of Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Selena Gomez, John Cena and Tom Holland, among others.

After losing his wife, Dolittle he locks himself away behind the high wall of his manor but is forced to set sail on an epic adventure when the queen falls gravely ill. Helping Dolittle in search of a rare cure are his animal friends — including Chee-Chee (Malek), an anxious, self-conscious gorilla; Dab-Dab (Octavia Spencer), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck; the bickering duo of cynical, neurotic ostrich Plimpton (Kumail Nanjiani) and the polar bear Yoshi (Cena); and a headstrong parrot named Polynesia (Thompson).

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The film earned $161.7 million at the global box office.

The 4K disc includes HDR+.

Bonus features include:

  • “Talk to the Animals,” a peek at the fun the cast had giving each of the animals their unique voice;
  • “Robert Downey Jr. & Harry: Mentor and Mentee,” about the unique bond the two actors formed on-set, and how Downey took the film’s young co-star under his wing;
  • “Becoming the Good Doctor,” about how Downey transformed into the iconic Dolittle;
  • “Antonio Banderas: Pirate King,” in which Banderas discusses what attracted him to the project, his experiences working with Downey and what he brought to the role of King Rassouli;
  • “The Wicked Dr. Mudfly,” about the nefarious villain Dr. Blair Müdfly with Michael Sheen diving into his character’s motivations for being Dolittle’s foil; and
  • “A Most Unusual House,” about the unique rooms and modifications that allow Dolittle to house anyone or anything, big or small.

 

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Almodóvar’s ‘Pain and Glory’ Due Digitally Jan. 14, on Disc Jan. 21

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release director Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory through digital retailers Jan. 14, and on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 21.

Pain and Glory explores the difficulties of separating creation from one’s own life and about the passions that give it meaning and hope. It tells of a series of re-encounters experienced by Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a film director in his physical decline. Some of them in the flesh, others remembered: his childhood in the ’60s, when he emigrated with his parents to a village in Valencia in search of prosperity, his first adult love in the Madrid of the ’80s, the pain of the breakup of that love while it was still alive and intense, writing as the only therapy to forget the unforgettable, the early discovery of cinema, and the infinite void that creates the incapacity to keep on making films.

The cast includes Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano and Penélope Cruz.

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The film made $3.9 million at the domestic box office. Pain and Glory is nominated for Golden Globes for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Actor in a Drama for Banderas.

Extras include a Q&A with Almodóvar and Banderas, along with composer Alberto Iglesias and producer Agustín Almodóvar; plus the featurette “Pedro Almodóvar: In His Own Words.”

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