Mallrats (Limited Edition)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Comedy;
$39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong language, including sexual dialogue, and for some scenes of sexuality and drug content.
Stars Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Michael Rooker, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Renee Humphrey, Ehtan Suplee, Priscilla Barnes, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee.

A box office bomb upon its release, director Kevin Smith’s second feature, 1995’s Mallrats, has since developed a huge cult following for an embrace of a nerd culture that was well ahead of its time.

Smith had already introduced his pop culture proclivities with the previous year’s indie darling Clerks, but Mallrats was his first big-studio effort, though aimed at the same basic target audience. (In fact, Smith recounts in one of the new interviews included with this Blu-ray that he pitched it as “Clerks at a mall”).

Though one of the film’s producers considered it ahead of its time, the financial and critical drubbing endured by Mallrats led Smith back into the realm of indie production, where he’s pretty much spent his entire feature directorial career since (the exceptions being 2010’s Cop Out for Warner, his only film he didn’t also write, and directing for television, mostly episodes of Warner’s Arrowverse here and there).

With Mallrats, Smith began to lay the foundation for his own cinematic universe, long before Marvel Studios came along. In addition to the return of Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith), there are references to other characters and events mentioned in Clerks. And Smith would continue to mine the Mallrats cast for his future projects, reteaming with the core trio of Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams two years later for Chasing Amy, his heartfelt return to the indie fold.

What Mallrats is perhaps best known for, however, is the lengthy cameo by comic book icon Stan Lee. While the former Marvel Comics publisher had made a handful of movie and TV appearances beforehand, his role in Smith’s film is generally considered the genesis of a cinematic tradition that saw him appear in nearly every Marvel movie since — so much so that in one of his final cameos, for the ’90s set MCU prequel Captain Marvel, Lee is seen rehearsing his lines for Mallrats.

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The new Arrow Video edition of the film is a big step up from the previous Blu-ray released by Universal in 2014, which was basically just a re-creation of the 10th anniversary DVD set from 2005.

Arrow has restored both the 95-minute theatrical cut and the half-hour longer extended edition that first appeared on that earlier DVD. The new Blu-ray also adds a third version: the 85-minute TV-suitable cut featuring some amusing overdubbing of Jay’s dialogue with a noticeably different voice since Mewes didn’t show up to re-record his dialogue.

The always loquacious Smith provides new introductions for the theatrical and TV cuts, while he and producer Scott Mosier’s introduction for the extended cut comes from the old DVD (and Blu-ray).

Other new extras include an informative half-hour reflection from Smith about the making of the film; a 13-minute remembrance by Smith of producer Jim Jacks, who was the one who predicted the film’s audience would eventually grow to find it; a 10-minute retrospective from Mewes, who expected to be fired from the role he originated in Clerks due to his acting inexperience (Smith recounts the studio wanting Seth Green or Breckin Meyer to play Jay); a six-minute interview with cinematographer and frequent Smith collaborator Dave Klein; and Hollywood of the North, a 10-minute animated documentary about the local crew that worked on the film when it was shot in Minnesota.

The two-disc set also includes nearly two hours of footage from the film’s dailies, plus an extensive photo gallery.

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Carryovers from the previous releases include an hour of deleted scenes, eight minutes of outtakes, nine minutes of on-set cast interviews, a 22-minute archive making-of, a 10th anniversary Q&A with Smith running nine minutes, a “Build Me Up Buttercup” music video, and a featurette about the soundtrack.

The disc also comes with an essay booklet and a reversible slipcover containing both new box art and the classic poster art.

Not everything carried over, however. Among the missing extras from previous releases are a 10th anniversary cast reunion Q&A, a 10-year retrospective featurette, and a collection of vignettes offered as Easter eggs. So, collectors may want to hold onto that 2014 Blu-ray, but between that and the new version, Arrow’s edition is the one to get.

 

‘Mallrats,’ ‘The Last Starfighter’ Among Releases Coming to Blu-ray in October From Arrow and MVD

Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, The Last Starfighter and the horror film The Deeper You Dig are among the titles coming to Blu-ray Disc in October from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Oct. 6 comes The Deeper You Dig (2019), which follows a mother, daughter and stranger as they deal with the aftermath of a roadside accident. The film is a family affair written and directed by husband and wife tandem John Adams and Toby Poser, who also start alongside daughter Zelda. The limited-edition release also comes with The Hatred, a previously made feature film by the Adams family. Bonus features include a reversible sleeve featuring two exclusive choices of artwork; a double-sided fold-out poster; a limited edition illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Neil Mitchell; audio commentary by writers/directors/stars Toby Poser and John Adams; “At Home with the Adams Family,” an exclusive, in-depth interview with the trio of filmmakers responsible for The Deeper You Dig; “It’s in the Blood: The Family in the Horror Genre,” an exclusive visual essay by critic Anton Bitel exploring the theme of family in The Deeper You Dig and the Adams family’s broader filmography; a special effects breakdown with commentary by Trey Lindsay; a FrightFest TV interview with the Adams family; Hellbender music videos; the theatrical trailer; and an image gallery.

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Due Oct. 13 is Kevin Smith’s cult classic Mallrats (1995), a comedy about a pair of recently dumped best friends seeking refuge at their local mall. The new release includes new restorations for both the theatrical and extended cuts approved by Smith and cinematographer David Klein. Bonus features include a newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity with an intro by Smith; a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Philip Kemp; a fold out poster featuring replica blueprints for “Operation Drive-by” and “Operation Dark Knight”; audio commentary with Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira, and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck and Jason Mewes; a new introduction to the film by Smith; “My Mallrat Memories,” an all-new interview with Smith; a newly filmed tribute to producer Jim Jacks by Smith; a new interview with Mewes; a new interview with cinematographer Klein; “Hollywood of the North,” a newly produced animated making-of documentary featuring Minnesota crew members who worked on the film; Smith and Vincent Pereira discussing deleted scenes and sequences originally cut from the film; outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage; cast interviews from the original set; “Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats,” an archival retrospective with cast and crew looking at the making of and release of the film; a 10th anniversary archival Q&A with Smith; “Build Me Up Buttercup” music video; stills galleries; the theatrical trailer; a stills gallery of the comic books featured in the film’s opening sequence; and Easter eggs.

Also coming Oct. 13 is Kôji Shima’s 1956 classic Warning From Space. The first Japanese science-fiction film to be shot in color, it’s the story of giant starfish-like aliens that land in Tokyo. It’s the film’s first-ever HD release in America and includes a newly restored English dub. Extras include a new commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!; theatrical trailers; image galleries; a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin; and, for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an essay on artist Taro Okamoto by Japanese art historian Nick West and an essay on the production of the American edit of the film by David Cairns.

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Coming Oct. 27 is the serial killer film Cold Light of Day (1989), a fictionalized story about one of Britain’s most brutal serial killers, Dennis Nilsen. The limited-edition release includes a new 2K restoration approved by the film’s director Fhiona-Louise. Bonus features include a new audio commentary with writer/director Fhiona-Louise; a new audio commentary with film historians/writers Dean Brandum and Andrew Nette; a newly-filmed interview with actor Martin Byrne-Quinn; a newly filmed interview with actor Steve Munroe; an original Cold Light of Day promo film made to raise financing for the feature; the re-release trailer; two short films starring director Fhiona-Louise and photographed by Star Wars DP David Tattershall, newly restored in HD, Metropolis Apocalypse (1988) and Sleepwalker (1993); a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; a limited-edition, die-cut O-card; and a limited-edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jo Botting and a look at how the press reported Dennis Nilsen’s real-life crimes by Jeff Billington.

Finally, also on Oct. 27, comes Nick Castle’s The Last StarfighterReleased in 1984, The Last Starfighter follows gamer Alex Rogan who thinks he’s just playing another game until he finds himself transported to another planet where he learns the game was actually a recruitment effort. The Last Starfighter lands with a new 4K scan. Bonus features include a new audio commentary with Mike White of “The Last Projection Booth” podcast; an archival audio commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb; the “Heroes of the Screen” archival featurette; the “Crossing the Frontier: The Making of The Last Starfighter” archival four-part documentary; image galleries; theatrical and teaser trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Ferguson; a limited edition reversible poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork; and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes and sci-fi author Greg Bear’s never-before-published Omni magazine article on Digital Productions, the company responsible for the CGI in The Last Starfighter.

Hollywoodland

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 8/25/20;
Kino Lorber;
Drama;
$24.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language, some violence and sexual content.
Stars Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Kathleen Robertson, Lois Smith, Caroline Dhavernas, Molly Parker, Zach Mills, Jeffrey DeMunn, Joe Spano.

Given how much the current entertainment landscape is dominated by superhero movies and TV shows, it’s easy to forget the genre only came into prominence in the last 20 years or so. Even when Hollywoodland first hit theaters in 2006, the era of the superhero movie was just in its infancy, and still two years away from the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So, looking at Hollywoodland now, it’s hard not to see the film as a fascinating time capsule of a time when comic book fare was considered kids’ stuff, and actors decried being too closely associated with a single character.

Hollywoodland delves into the story of George Reeves, the actor best known for playing Superman on TV in the 1950s who died under mysterious circumstances from a gunshot wound to the head in 1959. Officials ruled it a suicide, but there were enough shenanigans surrounding his life that the specifics of his death have sparked numerous conspiracy theories that linger on to this day.

Rather than adopt a strict biopic or docudrama approach, Hollywoodland frames Reeves’ story as a case taken on by a hotheaded (and completely fictional) private investigator named Louis Simo, played with smarmy aplomb by Adrien Brody. Simo is hired on by Reeves’ mother (Lois Smith), who doesn’t buy the official reports. So Simo dips his toes into the waters of 1950s Hollywood to uncover the seedier aspects of show business, with Reeves’ story told in flashback.

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Reeves (Ben Affleck) dreaded the prospect of playing Superman on a show for kids, but he needed the money. Like most actors, he dreamed of a career in pursuit of serious art, but after a bit role in Gone With the Wind he mostly struggled to get noticed on the big screen. Superman made him a star, and he seemed to hate every minute of it, particularly during a disastrous screening of From Here to Eternity in which the audience can’t help but yell Superman catch-phrases at the screen every time Reeves appears.

To top it off, Reeves finds himself wilting as the kept boy-toy of Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), wife of notorious MGM honcho Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins). He doesn’t seem to mind her tryst, however, seeing as how he accompanies them on a double-date with his own mistress. But Toni also doesn’t use her connections to help Reeves advance his career, furthering some resentment.

So the questions arise over how Reeves was shot. Did Eddie order it, to protect his wife? Was in an accident during an argument between Reeves and his fiancée (Robin Tunney)? Or did Reeves, in pain from years of nagging injuries and emotionally drained from the stress of his career, simply put a gun to his head?

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The screenplay bounced around in the early 2000s until landing at Focus Features (indie arm of Universal). During production, it was known as Truth, Justice, and the American Way, a phrase so connected to Superman that it’s hardly surprising Warner Bros., which controls the film rights to the DC characters, would make Focus change it to something more generic, which likely dampened the film’s box office fortunes. Further, with Warner releasing Superman Returns in 2006, Hollywoodland was forbidden from even using the Superman logo in marketing the film — leading to the shot in the trailer (also included on the Blu-ray) of Affleck looking at himself in costume in the mirror with a chest noticeably missing the iconic ‘S.’ Superman imagery was allowed in the final film however, though the filmmakers had to re-create the famous opening sequence to the TV show as Warner wouldn’t license it to them.

Another scene depicts the likely apocryphal story of a child approaching an in-costume Reeves at a promotional event and asking if he can shoot him with a gun to watch the bullets bounce off. Played as a tense moment in the film, the screenplay ingeniously manages to connect it to the larger plot. But the scene is also memorable for its sense of whimsy in how it adopts the anything-goes imagination mashup that was classic Hollywood — Reeves is performing for kids as Superman at a Wild West stunt show, stopping a pair of bank robbers of the type he would never find himself fighting in the comics.

The use of the film noir structure, another homage to classic Hollywood, sets Simo up as a mirror to Reeves, reflecting on his own career as he untangles the fate of his case subject. As noted in a newly recorded commentary track by entertainment journalist Bryan Reesman, What emerges is the parallel story of two men striving to become more than what anyone around them is willing for them to be, and struggling to take stock of the things in their lives actually worth living for.

Reesman also finds a lot of interesting contrasts between Reeves and Affleck, who unlike the man he’s playing had no problem stepping into the realm of comic book heroics. Affleck had played the title character in Daredevil in 2003, but the film was too poorly received to blossom into the franchise that perhaps the actor expected it too when he signed on.

But Hollywoodland also came at the tail end of the first phase of Affleck’s career, with audiences tuning out as he appeared in a string of brainless actioners and tepid comedies (including the infamous Gigli). Hollywoodland represented something of the first step of a reinvention, as he wanted to demonstrate he could handle more serious fare, and, indeed, he earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor, in addition to wins at the Saturn Awards and Venice Film Festival, among a slew of accolades.

The next year, Affleck would make his feature directorial debut with 2007’s acclaimed Gone Baby Gone, following up with 2010’s The Town and 2012’s Best Picture Oscar winner Argo (for which Affleck was snubbed for an Academy directing nomination after winning the DGA trophy). The career boost would culminate in his casting as Batman for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and a couple subsequent DC films. Given his scenes as Reeves making and promoting the “Adventures of Superman” TV series, Affleck would probably be the only person to wear both the Superman and Batman costumes on the big screen. He’d also reunite with Diane Lane in BvS, where she would play, of all people, Superman’s mother.

While Hollywoodland wasn’t much of a financial performer upon its release, it’s still fondly remembered for its cast and subject matter, particularly among fans of superhero movies.

In addition to the interesting Reesman voiceover, the Blu-ray also carries over all the extras from Universal’s old DVD release of the film, including an informative commentary by director Allen Coulter, three featurettes and a handful of mostly unremarkable deleted scenes.

‘The Way Back’ on Disc May 19

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Way Back on Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 19.

Directed by Gavin O’Connor, The Way Back stars Ben Affleck as a former basketball phenom who gets his life back in order by coaching the high school hoops team of his alma mater.

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The film also stars Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins, Janina Gavankar, Glynn Turman, Brandon Wilson, Will Ropp, Charles Lott Jr. and Melvin Gregg.

The Blu-ray and DVD will include the featurette “Every Loss Is Another Fight: The Road to Redemption.” The Blu-ray will also include the featurette “The Way Back: This Sporting Life.”

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As a result of theaters being closed during the coronavirus pandemic, the film was released through digital retailers March 24 just two weeks after its March 6 debut in theaters, where it earned $13.6 million domestically.

Warner Making ‘The Way Back’ Available Early Via Digital Sellthrough

Warner Bros. will make current theatrical release The Way Back available via electronic sellthrough in the United States and Canada March 24, with international markets to follow, as part of the effort to bring recent releases to viewers sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Way Back will be available to own in high-definition and standard-definition from select digital retailers, including Prime Video (U.S. only), Apple TV, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, DirecTV, FandangoNow, PlayStation, Vudu, Microsoft Store on Xbox and Windows, and others for the suggested retail price of $19.99.

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March 24 is the same digital release date as another current Warner theatrical title, Birds of Prey.

Directed by Gavin O’Connor, The Way Back stars Ben Affleck as a former basketball phenom who gets his life back in order by coaching the high school hoops team of his alma mater.

The film had earned $13.6 million at the domestic box office since its March 6 theatrical release.

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Growing Up With Jay and Silent Bob

It’s been more than 25 years since audiences first met Jay and Silent Bob in Kevin Smith’s Clerks, and they’ve remained the same carefree stoners despite their adventures in a slew of the director’s View Askewniverse films, including Chasing Amy, Mallrats and Dogma.

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Extras Include:
• Cast Interviews
• Kevin & Jay Interview Cast & Crew
• Bloopers
• Hair Reel

In Jay & Silent Bob Reboot — available on Blu-ray (plus digital), DVD, digital and on demand from Lionsgate — the duo confronts their past, as does the film’s director.

“Jay and Silent Bob have given me so much — 25 years of earning off the backs of Jay and Silent Bob in one way or another,” says Smith in the disc extras.

“I get to make a movie where Jay gets to grow up,” he says.

In Reboot, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) confront old friends and foes as they discover that Hollywood is rebooting Bluntman and Chronic, a movie based on them. Thus, they embark on another cross-country mission to stop the madness. The journey includes all-star cameos and appearances from Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Hemsworth, Rosario Dawson, Melissa Benoist, Joe Manganiello, Molly Shannon, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Lee, Justin Long and more.

“We follow up on the story of Clerks and see where Dante is in his life,” Smith says in the extras. “We follow up on Mallrats and see where Brody is in his life. We follow up on Chasing Amy and see where Holden and Alissa are in their lives.”

“My character is the same character that I played in Chasing Amy many, many, many years ago,” Ben Affleck (Holden McNeil) says in the extras.

“This is like my little franchise, my Kevin Smith franchise. It’s just like being in another kind of franchise, except they don’t pay you any money,” he joked.

Matt Damon, who played Loki in Dogma, says in the extras the duo of Jay and Silent Bob “just struck a chord.”

“They’re funny,” he says. “You buy into their relationship. They’re two guys you want to go on an adventure with.”

(L-R): Co-stars Treshelle Edmond, Harley Quinn Smith, Alice Wen and Aparna Brielle

For Smith, it’s now a family affair, with his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, playing a central part in Reboot, and other family members making appearances.

“It just became more than I thought it was going to be, and now it’s just this weird statement film,” Smith said. “It turned into this testimony of my life, both personally and professionally. It’s filled with the people I’ve spent my life making pretend beside. It’s filled with my family. At one point, I’m behind my mother and she’s dressed like Silent Bob.”

 

 

JAY AND SILENT BOB IN THE VIEW ASKEWNIVERSE

(Titles available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate)

 

Clerks (1994)

The laid-back stoners make their film debut as supporting characters in this story of a day in the life of convenience store employees Dante and Randal.

Chasing Amy (1997)

The supporting player stoners offer inspiration to comic book artist Holden, who falls for fellow comic artist Alyssa, a lesbian.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

The comic Bluntman and Chronic is based on Jay and Silent Bob, so when they get no profit from the film adaptation they try to wreck it.

Jay & Silent Bob Reboot

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 1/21/20;
Lionsgate;
Comedy;
Box Office $3.41 million;
$19.98 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some nudity.
Stars Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Harley Quinn Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Lee, Fred Armisen.

The latest addition to Kevin Smith’s View-Askewniverse is an unexpected treat for longtime fans of the filmmaker’s work. That it even exists is somewhat of a miracle.

Smith had been trying to make Clerks 3, but when one of the key actors dropped out, he shelved the project. With progress on a Mallrats sequel also stalled, Smith instead wrote another “Jay & Silent Bob” movie, with the urging of his long-time friend and co-star Jason Mewes, who plays the stoner Jay in the films alongside Smith’s Silent Bob. But before production began, Smith suffered a heart attack in early 2018, though he eventually recovered.

As a result, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot might be Smith’s most personal film since 1997’s Chasing Amy, though in a completely different way. Where that film, his third, was an introspective rumination on the fleeting nature of young love, his latest romp is a comedic reflection of his entire career, and more often than not a parody of it, while also taking aim at Hollywood’s penchant for remakes, reboots and an endless string of comic book movies.

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Chasing Amy also happens to be an apropos starting point for dissecting Reboot, since that’s the film that gave birth to the idea of the Jay and Silent Bob drug dealer characters being the inspiration for the fictional “Bluntman and Chronic” comic book featured at the heart of that film’s story.

Reboot unabashedly tells the same story, albeit updated, as 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, in which the duo, fearing damage to their reputations, trekked from New Jersey to Hollywood in an attempt to stop a film version of “Bluntman and Chronic” from being made.

Jay and Silent Bob end up profiting from that film (see Clerks II), but after 18 years the studio wants to reboot it, and through some legal maneuvers manage gain copyright control over the duo’s actual identities, preventing them from using their own names. As a result, they scheme to return to Hollywood to disrupt production of the reboot, too. The twist now is that the reboot’s director is Kevin Smith, playing a fictional version of himself.

Along the way, Jay and Silent Bob join forces with a rebellious teen (played by Smith’s real-life daughter, Harley Quinn Smith) and her friends, as they make their way to “Chronic-Con,” a blatant spoof of Comic-Con. Smith manages to work references to nearly all his previous movies into the adventure, including updating the audience on what happened to a few of the main characters from the shared universe (and even answering a 25-year-old question that lingered back to his original film, 1994’s Clerks).

This is all catnip for Smith’s fans, who can easily forgive the juvenile humor and crude behavior surrounding the central antagonists, even as the story veers off the rails in its final act. Such are the trademark selling points of Smith’s works, not drawbacks, in a way only someone such as Smith could get away with. These are at their core stoner comedies, after all.

Sophistication isn’t the goal here, just the boundless energy and sense of fun of a pop-culture-obsessed filmmaker embracing what he loves. Smith even manages to sneak in a few heartfelt moments of character, paying off decades of the audience’s investment in their stories.

And, seemingly as a result of the goodwill generated by the film’s roadshow tour, the departed Clerks III cast member decided to sign up after all, and it looks like that film is now a go, too.

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The film’s home video editions offer a few interesting, if somewhat unstructured, behind the scenes material. Primary among them is nearly an hour of cast interviews that have been cobbled together as some sort of ersatz making-of documentary. Presenting their thoughts without the framework of an interviewer, they mostly talk about their characters and the wackiness of the story.

Then, there’s a separate half hour of Smith and Mewes interviewing their co-stars.

Rounding out the extras are a 10-minute blooper reel and two minutes of Smith and Mewes fixing their Jay and Silent Bob hair.

 

Paramount Releasing ‘Jack Ryan Collection’ on 4K Blu-ray Aug. 21

Paramount Home Media Distribution is re-releasing the cinematic adventures of author Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst Jack Ryan with the new Jack Ryan Collection 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray boxed set Aug. 21.

The collection includes a UHD Blu-ray disc, a regular Blu-ray disc and a digital copy for each of the five films in the franchise: 1990’s The Hunt For Red October, with Alec Baldwin as Ryan; Harrison Ford in the role in 1992’s Patriot Games and 1994’s Clear and Present Danger; 2002’s The Sum of All Fears starring Ben Affleck; and 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine.

The new boxed set is timed for the Aug. 31 release of the new Amazon TV series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” starring John Krasinski as the character.