The Super Mario Bros. Movie

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Animated;
Box Office $572.97 million;
$34.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $49.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for action and mild violence.
Voices of Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Keegan-Michael Key, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen, Sebastian Maniscalco, Kevin Michael Richardson, Khary Payton, Charles Martinet.

Most movies based on video games tend to be unsatisfying because the process of Hollywood writers digesting the essence of the game for mainstream audiences usually makes the final product unrecognizable to the games’ fans.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie bucks that trend by essentially just putting a video game on the big screen. The film takes iconic elements straight from several video games connected to the “Super Mario Bros.” franchise and condenses them into a single narrative. And in doing so, the film isn’t trying to be anything more than what it is — an adaptation of a series of video games about a pair of plumbers fighting a fire-breathing turtle king in a land of magic mushrooms.

It gets away with such a distillation because the animation lends itself to the bright flashy visual splendor of the games and doesn’t create an expectation of realism, which is the trap most game adaptations fall into. The 1993 live-action version of Super Mario Bros., for instance, was an unmitigated disaster because it reinterpreted the concept into an action sci-fi movie.

The animated version features brothers Mario and Luigi (voiced by Chris Pratt and Charlie Day) struggling to establish their own plumbing business when by happenstance they find themselves sucked through a pipe into a fantasy realm of strange creatures where the laws of physics no longer apply. When Luigi is captured by Bowser (Jack Black), Mario teams with Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen) to rescue him and prevent the king of the Koopas from dominating the magical realms.

Everything in the fantasy kingdoms works just like it does in the video games, with power-ups that give characters boosts in strength and speed that come from floating bricks with question marks on them. The film doesn’t dwell on why everything looks like it does from the video games because it’s easy enough to accept that the Mario Bros. have simply been sucked into Nintendo World.

From there, the film features a ton of references to various “Mario” properties over the years, from his 1981 debut in Donkey Kong to Mario Kart, more than enough to satisfy most fans of the games. For older fans, there’s a reference to the rap intro of the 1989 “Super Mario Bros. Super Show” starring Capt. Lou Albano, so what’s not to love? The score is even design to incorporate beloved musical themes from the “Super Mario” games, which only adds to the nostalgia factor.

And since the Mario Bros. have had a ubiquitous presence in pop culture for the past 40 years, being a hardcore fan of the games isn’t a requirement to enjoy what turns out to be an entertaining movie in general.

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The “Power Up Edition” Blu-ray includes a number of fun featurettes about the making of the film.

The 18-minute “Getting to Know the Cast” offers several vignettes profiling the voice actors and the roles they play. The 27-minute “Leveling Up: Making The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a six-part look at the production, which was overseen by Nintendo to make sure it didn’t stray too far from its video game roots; included is a look at various Easter Eggs in the film, particularly to some of the non-“Mario” Nintendo games referenced.

The seven-minute “The Super Mario Bros. Movie Field Guide” features various cast members explaining elements from the game depicted in the film, while the three-minute “Leadership Lessons” has Anya Taylor-Joy describing five lessons that make Peach an effective princess for her people.

Rounding out the package is a sing-along music video of Jack Black singing Bowser’s song “Peaches.”

In the 4K combo pack, the full extras are included on both the 4K disc and the regular Blu-ray.

Charlie Day Comedy ‘Fool’s Paradise’ Headed to Blu-ray July 18

The comedy Fool’s Paradise arrives on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD July 18 from Lionsgate.

Written, starring and directed by Charlie Day (TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Fist Fight, Horrible Bosses), it’s a tale of mistaken identities and outlandish schemes, as a motley crew of eccentric characters stumbles their way through a paradise where the line between fools and geniuses becomes blurred. The film also stars Jason Bateman (Primetime Emmy: TV’s “Ozark,” “Arrested Development”) and Jason Sudeikis (Primetime Emmy: TV’s “Ted Lasso,” Colossal, We’re the Millers). 

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The comedy follows an ordinary guy (Day) who happens to be a dead ringer for a hot-headed movie star. When he replaces the movie star in a major film, he becomes an accidental celebrity thrown into a fever dream of Hollywood fame brought to life by a stellar cast, including Ken Jeong, Kate Beckinsale, Adrien Brody, Sudeikis, Edie Falco, Bateman, Common and Ray Liotta.

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.”

Pacific Rim Uprising

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 6/19/18;
Universal;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $59.19 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $37.98 3D BD, $37.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.
Stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Max Zhang, Charlie Day.

The original Pacific Rim in 2013 was never going to be hailed as an artistic masterpiece. But under the guidance of director Guillermo del Toro, it proved to be a fun, entertaining sci-fi adventure with just the sort of goofy premise that could be exploited for franchise potential in a market dominated by “Transformers,” “Power Rangers” and “Voltron.”

The film’s story was a simple-enough starting point, positing a future in which the world was besieged by giant monsters called kaiju that emerged from undersea interdimensional rifts. To stop them from rampaging through major cities, mankind built giant robots called jaegers to fight them.

Pacific Rim Uprising picks up 10 years later, with the breaches closed but the militaries of the world strategizing about the best defense should the kaiju return.

Veteran TV producer Steven S DeKnight takes over directing duties from del Toro (who produced) and delivers about as much as could be expected for a sequel. The film offers a mix of new and returning characters to provide an enjoyable yet unsophisticated follow-up that delivers on the promise of more monsters and machines beating each other up while everything around them gets trashed.

It’s to the screenplay’s credit that it finds a few interesting plot twists to put a different spin on the basic premise while still delivering the kind of action the set-up would warrant. The story expands upon some of the key plot points of the original to set up future sequels (though, given the film’s underwhelming box office, future story continuations may end up being through alternate mediums such as animation or graphic novels).

The Blu-ray includes a slew of behind-the-scenes material, highlighted by a feature-length DeKnight commentary that really delves into his goals for the film, the challenges he faced, and other insights, such how how much inspiration he drew from the works of Steven Spielberg.

In addition, the Blu-ray includes 10 featurettes that runa bout 40 minutes in total and delve into various aspects of the film, with an emphasis on casting, visual effects and stuntwork. One of them “Hall of Heroes,” amusingly presents star John Boyega spending more than three minutes showing off all the new jaegers introduced in the film, describing all their amenities and weaponry in minute detail as if he were some sort of jaeger salesman.

There are also seven minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary that provide a few good character moments but otherwise aren’t glaring omissions from the film.

‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ Arrives in Homes in June

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in June will send to homes the action sequel Pacific Rim Uprising, which earned just under $58 million in U.S. theaters.

The film will become available on digital and through the Movies Anywhere app on June 5, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and On Demand on June 19. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc combo pack includes copies of the film on both 4K Ultra HD and regular Blu-ray, as well as a digital copy.

Pacific Rim Uprising is set 10 years after the events of the first film, which earned a domestic gross of nearly $102 million. In the sequel, the Kaiju return with a new deadly threat that reignites the conflict between these otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the Jaegers, the human-piloted super-machines that were built to vanquish them.

Pacific Rim Uprising features a next-generation battleground complete with upgraded Jaegers and new Kaiju.

The film stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the Kaiju. The cast also includes Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi and Burn Gorman.

The disc releases include more than 40 minutes of bonus content, including the following:

  • Deleted scenes with commentary by director Steven S. DeKnight
  • Feature commentary with DeKnight
  • “Hall of Heroes” – Boyega takes viewers on a tour of the weaponry and enhancements of the latest generation of Jaegers featured in the film.
  • “Bridge to Uprising” – The cast and crew discuss how the world of Pacific Rim has changed in the 10 years since the events of the original film.
  • “The Underworld of Uprising” – Humanity won the Kaiju War, but every war has casualties. Boyega and DeKnight give viewers a tour of the coastal “Relief Zones.”
  • “Becoming Cadets” – Viewers learn the grueling physical and mental preparation required of the young actors who portrayed the Pan Pacific Defense Corp cadets.
  • “Unexpected Villain” – Viewers discover the secret reason that turned one of the most beloved heroes of the original film into a villain obsessed with humanity’s destruction.
  • “Next Level Jaegers” – The cast and crew discuss the technological advances of the Jaeger program in the years since the events of the original film.
  • “I Am Scrapper” – Actress Cailee Spaeny shares the backstory of Scrapper, Amara’s incredible self-built Jaeger and its many unique abilities.
  • “Going Mega” – Filmmakers take viewers through the technical and creative challenges of creating the most deadly threat the Pan Pacific Defense Corp has ever faced: the Mega Kaiju!
  • “Secrets of Shao” – Actress Tian Jing shares her insights on the enigmatic tech tycoon Liwen Shao, the woman behind Shao Industries.
  • “Mako Returns” – Actress Rinko Kikuchi and director DeKnight explain the significance of Mako Mori’s return and her importance to the events of Pacific Rim Uprising.