Netflix: ‘Extraction 2’ Topped All Weekly Streaming Through July 2 With 17.5 Million Views

The Chris Hemsworth-starring hit sequel Extraction 2 again topped all streaming content on Netflix for the third consecutive week, with 17.5 million views for the seven-day period ended July 2.

The movie, which also held the top spot on the English-language movie chart, to date has 102.5 million global views after three weeks. The original Extraction also held strong on the chart for the third week with 6 million views.

Jennifer Lopez-starrer The Mother entered Netflix’s revised “most popular” chart at No. 10 (now based on 91 days of views) with 128.7 million views since its May 12 premiere. 

Romantic comedy The Perfect Find, based on the novel by Tia Williams and starring Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers, climbed to No. 2 with 11 million views. New to the movie chart: Psychological thriller Run Rabbit Run starring Sarah Snook, with 8.4 million views, and the critically acclaimed animated feature Nimona (3.2 million views), based on ND Stevenson’s webcomic and graphic novel. Returning movies on the chart included documentary Take Care of Maya (4.6 million views), and Sony Pictures’ Roald Dahl’s Matilda: The Musical with 2.4 million views. 

The new third season (Vol. 1) debut of “The Witcher” entered the top 10 the way season two ended: No. 1 on the English-language TV chart with 15.2 million views (73 million hours viewed divided by 4.82 runtime hours). The series return prompted renewed streaming interest in season one with 2.2 million views.

Previous chart topper “Black Mirror” season six dropped to No. 2 with 5.4 million views, followed by “Catching Killers” season three at No. 3 with 4.1 million views, “Glamorous” at No. 4 (3.5 million views), “Our Planet II” at No. 5 (2.9 million views), and “Never Have I Ever” season four at No. 6 (2.9 million views). Documentary series Muscles and Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators debuted at No. 8 with 2.8 million views. 

On the non-English-language movie chart, Spain’s sequel Through My Window: Across the Sea remained No. 1 with 10.4 million views, as the original, Through My Window, returned for its 15th week on the chart with 2.6 million views. Turkish romantic comedy Make Me Believe held at No. 2 with 9.6 million views, followed by South African heist drama iNumber Number: Jozi Gold at No. 3 with 5 million views. New charters included India’s Lust Stories 2 (4.2 million views) and Korea’s King of Clones (2 million views). Returning to the chart were Danish drama A Beautiful Life (1.6 million views), Japanese anime Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King (1.2 million), and Turkish drama You Do You with 1.1 million views. 

Returning favorites dominated the non-English-language TV chart, with Korean drama “King the Land” No. 1 with 4 million views, German crime thriller “Sleeping Dog” (3.8 million views),  Mexican drama “The Surrogacy” (3.1 million), Korea’s “Bloodhounds” (2.6 million), “See You in My 19th Life” (1.9 million), and Colombia’s “Fake Profile” with 2.1 million views. New charters included Thailand’s “Delete” with 2 million views and Korea’s “Celebrity” with 1.9 million views.

Netflix: Chris Hemworth’s ‘Extraction’ Movies Dominate Weekly Streaming (Again) Through June 25

For the second week in a row, Chris Hemsworth’s actioners Extraction (2019) and 2023 sequel Extraction 2 dominated the top two spots on Netflix’s English-language movie chart.

The follow-up again featuring Hemsworth as an embittered commando who embarks on a dangerous mission to save a ruthless gangster’s imprisoned family, remained the most-popular Netflix content streamed with 42.2 million views across 93 countries the week ended June 25. The movie now has more than 85 million views in the first 10 days since it premiered.

Meanwhile, the first Extraction finished No. 2 on the chart with 13.8 million views. The franchise has generated 108.4 million views since June 12, marking the first film franchise to hold the top two spots for two weeks.

Documentary film Take Care of Maya was No. 3 with 9.2 million views, while romantic comedy The Perfect Find, based on the novel by Tia Williams and starring Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers, with 7 million views. 

As expected, the sixth season of “Black Mirror” claimed the No. 1 spot on the English-language TV chart with 11.6 million views. Season one of the sci-fi drama re-entered the chart at No. 9 with 2.3 million views. Season four of “Never Have I Ever” was No. 2 with 5 million views, and 32 million views to date since launch. Returning to the chart was natural history documentary series “Our Planet II” (4 million views) along with the double dose of Arnold Schwarzenegger: docuseries “Arnold” (2.5 million views) and action-comedy “FUBAR” (2.1 million views). 

On the non-English-language movie chart, Spanish sequel Through My Window: Across the Sea debuted at No. 1 with 14.5 million views, as the original Through My Window returned for its 14th week on the chart with 2.6 million views.

New charters included Turkish romantic comedy Make Me Believe with 6.6 million views, and South African heist drama iNumber Number: Jozi Gold with 2.1 million views. Chart Returnees included Japanese anime Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King with 4.1 million views, Turkish drama You Do You (2.7 million views), Danish drama A Beautiful Life (1.9 million), Dutch comedy The Wonder Weeks (1.6 million), Spanish horror Tin & Tina (1.6 million), and Japanese drama The Village with also with 1.6 million hours viewed. 

On the non-English-language TV chart, Mexican drama “The Surrogacy” finished No. 1 with 5.3 million views, followed by Korean dramas “King the Land” (4.7 million views) and “Bloodhounds” (4.6M views). New to the chart were German crime thriller “Sleeping Dog” with 4.4 million views, and “See You in My 19th Life” (1.9 million views), a live adaptation of a popular Korean webtoon. Returning charters included Colombia’s “Fake Profile,” with 3.3 million views, the third season of Spanish drama “Valeria” (1 million hours), and “Love is Blind: Brazil” with 1 million hours

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Netflix: Subs Like Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Extraction’ Action Franchise

The debut of the new actioner Extraction 2, again headlined by Chris Hemsworth, proved popular with Netflix subscribers, who also streamed the original for the week ended June 18. The films took the top two spots on the English-language movie chart.

The sequel, which is based on the graphic novel Ciudad, finds Hemsworth again playing a black-market mercenary with nothing to lose, who is hired to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord.

The movie debuted to nearly 43 million views (88.38 million hours viewed divided by 2.07 runtime hours), with the original re-entering the top 10 chart with more than 9 million views. Hemsworth announced this weekend at “Tudum: A Global Fan Event” in Brazil that a third film is in the works

Six weeks after its premiere, the Jennifer Lopez action-thriller The Mother continued to show staying power, adding 2.8 million views to up its total views to more than 123 million.

Season four of “Never Have I Ever,” starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (who was also a Tudum emcee), jumped into the No. 1 spot on the English-language TV chart with 11.5 million views. Seasons one (2.6 million views) and three (2.3 million views) made return appearances on the chart.

The long-awaited dystopian sci-fi series “Black Mirror” season six debuted at No. 2 with 11.3 million views. Other new series on the chart included “Our Planet II” (3.5 million views), “Tex Mex Motors” (2.8 million views) and “Amy Schumer: Emergency Contact” (2.4 million views).

Arnold Schwarzenegger continued to hold two spots on the chart with docuseries “Arnold” (5.2 million views) and action-comedy “FUBAR” (3.4 million views). Arnold also surprised the crowd in Brazil by announcing “FUBAR’s” season two renewal. Landing in the seventh spot was season four of “Manifest” with 2.8 million views.

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In its second week, the Korean drama “Bloodhounds” jumped to the top spot on the non-English-language TV chart with 8.1 million views. Other Korean dramas on the list included “The Good Bad Mother” (1.2 million views) and “King of the Land” (1.6 million). New to the list was the Mexican drama “The Surrogacy” (3.8 million views), season three of reality dating competition series “Love Is Blind: Brazil” (1.6 million views), the Spanish documentary “The Playing Card” (1.3 million views) and Netflix’s latest sports docuseries “Tour de France: Unchained” (1.5 million views), which takes a look inside one of the world’s most grueling bike races. Colombia’s “Fake Profile” (5.6 million views), Japan’s “The Days” (1.7 million) and season three of the Spanish drama “Valeria” (1.6 million views) all returned to the chart. 

On the non-English-language movie chart, the Turkish drama You Do You moved into the No. 1 spot with 8.6 million views. The Danish drama A Beautiful Life (4 million views), the Spanish horror film Tin & Tina (2.3 million), the German drama Blood & Gold (1.6 million) and the Dutch psychological thriller Faithfully Yours (1.1 million) all made return appearances. New entrants on the chart included the Japanese anime Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King with 6.4 million views, the Dutch comedy The Wonder Weeks (4.1 million) and the Japanese drama The Village with 1 million views.  

Thor: Love and Thunder

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/27/22;
Disney/Marvel;
Sci-Fi Fantasy Action;
Box Office $ 343.15 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some suggestive material and partial nudity.
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe.

Imagine a story that tackles subjects such as cancer, religious fundamentalism and child endangerment, tied together by a tongue-in-cheek intergalactic Viking adventure, and you’ll get some sense of the wacky roller coaster ride that is Thor: Love and Thunder.

Taika Waititi returns to the director’s chair after injecting his signature irreverence into 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, and tries to make Love and Thunder a similarly breezy, lighthearted romp. However, the darker themes this time around end up clashing with an abundance of jokes and situational humor, leading to some jarring tonal shifts as the film progresses through its various plot points. Then again, the guy who won an Oscar for writing a movie about a German boy who has Hitler as an imaginary friend probably thought he could pull it off. Or maybe he just felt like making a two-hour video tribute to his favorite band, Guns N’ Roses.

To be fair, the degree the film works at all can be attributed to Waititi’s skills as a storyteller and his ability to keep such disparate elements from spinning out of control. It certainly has its moments and the cast seems to have had a good time making it. However, the biggest strength of the film is not its story but its visual splendor. Thor: Love and Thunder looks spectacular, from colorful costumes to and exotic locales, to a surrealist black-and-white realm of shadows and monsters (which were designed by the children of the filmmakers, according to Waititi).

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Picking up from where we last saw him in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but finds himself consumed with self-doubt.

He gets a chance to snap back into action when he learns that deities throughout the universe are being slaughtered by Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who declares his next target will be the Asgardian refugees now living on Earth.

Upon his return, Thor learns that his former love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), has now gained her own Thor powers thanks to a newfound ability to wield his old hammer. Her transformation into “Mighty Thor” temporarily protects her from stage four cancer, but also negates any treatments her mortal self is receiving, so the illness becomes more aggressive each time she transforms back.

When he can’t defeat the combined forces of the two Thors, Gorr ends up kidnapping the children of Asgard. So Thor, Jane, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Waititi) embark on a mission to enlist the help of Zeus (Russell Crowe), free the children and defeat Gorr once and for all.

It’s definitely the kind of plot that makes more sense to those who have been enmeshed in the MCU for a while. The screenplay adapts a few different story arcs from the “Thor” comics, so reaction to the film may tend to vary based on the viewers’ familiarity with the source material — those who just follow the MCU versions of the characters might enjoy it more, as hardcore fans of the comics usually get more annoyed by changes made in translating a story from page to screen.

Of course, even from the perspective of the continuing adventures of Thor and his supporting cast in the movies, things feel a bit off. It’s nice to see an attempt at resolving the Thor/Jane relationship after she was absent in Ragnarok, and the New Asgard scenes have some fun references in them. But the ending feels like it was constructed in order to fulfill a number of contractual obligations to most of the main actors.

Love and Thunder is a bit of a milestone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Thor becomes the first character to score a fourth solo movie. But as the 29th MCU film, it continues the franchise’s general malaise since Endgame, meandering through an undefined bigger picture while the most-lasting impact of recent entries has been the introduction of numerous children and young adult heroes to seemingly serve as the next-generation of the Avengers when the storylines eventually come to a head again.

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The Love and Thunder Blu-ray includes a standard set of bonus materials (The 4K disc has no extras on its own — they are contained on the regular Blu-ray in the combo pack).

The highlight is a commentary track from Waititi, who reveals all sorts of fun information about the film and kicks up the hijinks when he’s joined by his two young daughters.

Behind-the-scenes information is also presented in three short featurettes: the eight-minute “Another Classic Taika Adventure,” about Waititi’s return to the franchise; the six-minute “Shaping a Villain,” about Bale’s performance; and the five-and-a-half-minute “Hammer-Worthy: Thor and Mighty Thor,” about Portman’s return, and her and Hemsworth’s preparations for the physicality of their roles.

In addition, there are four deleted scenes that run just under eight minutes in total that provide some additional if superfluous context for scenes that are in the final film.

Rounding out the extras is a three-minute gag reel.

What If…?

STREAMING REVIEW:

Disney+;
Animated;
Not rated.
Voices of Jeffrey Wright, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hayley Atwell, Lake Bell, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Hemsworth, Kurt Russell, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson.

This Disney+ animated series explores what could have happened to the Marvel Cinematic Universe had certain moments gone differently.

The nine episodes are narrated by Jeffrey Wright as The Watcher, an omniscient being of immense power who observes the various worlds of the multiverse (which was supposedly created by the events of “Loki”).

Most episodes offer the creators a chance to indulge themselves with references to the comics they couldn’t make before, or just have fun with character confrontations that haven’t been seen before (such as an epic battle between Thor and Captain Marvel when the Asgardian wants to turn Earth into a 24-hour party planet).

The first episode offers a fun twist on Captain America: The First Avenger, as Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) ends up as the super soldier, while still-skinny Steve Rogers gets a massive Iron Man-type suit of armor.

Another episode is a dark tale about a man’s inability to let go, as it shows how dangerous Doctor Strange can be if he turns his powers toward selfish interests.

Other episodes feature alternate versions of The Avengers, and of course there’s an episode (based on a popular comic book storyline) that basically turns all the heroes into zombies.

Among the most bittersweet episodes are those that feature Chadwick Boseman in his final performances as T’Challa, recorded prior to his death from cancer. One speech in particular hits hard as he discusses the afterlife as a new beginning.

The animation style is crisp and colorful, though not always the best in capturing the appearance of the actors who play them in live-action.

Overall, the show is mostly a love letter to longtime MCU fans, who should appreciate the mostly fun but often dark chance to see the franchise in a different light.

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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 III, 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 to 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.

 

Men in Black: International

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

 Street Date 9/3/19;
Sony Pictures;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office: $79.66 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson.

The fourth film in the “Men in Black” franchise was supposed to freshen up the franchise with a new cast and creative team. But old habits are hard to break, and Men in Black: International ends up coming across as a bland rehash of the formula established by the original film.

It’s not the fault of the cast, who are doing their best to milk laughs out of the material. And the film looks great, with all the weird aliens, slick gadgets and kooky visual effects one would expect from a “Men in Black” movie.

The issue is that the “MIB” movies don’t seem concerned with the kind of worldbuilding needed to create a viable sci-fi mythology, like establishing a set of rules for how things work. Instead they rely on familiar gags and situations that hint at a bigger picture but ultimately don’t yield many consequences for the characters or the fictional organization they work for that is tasked with secretly defending the Earth from intergalactic threats.

The fourth film kicks off with not one but two flashbacks. In one, a young girl witnesses her parents’ memories erased by MIB agents, causing her to become obsessed with learning the secrets of the organization, which she finally stumbles upon decades later and earns a chance to prove herself as an agent. Played as an adult by Tessa Thompson, she’s dubbed agent M and assigned to the London branch, where MIB boss O (Emma Thompson) thinks something’s not quite right with the operation.

The London branch is run by High T (Liam Neeson), who a few years earlier (in the other flashback) joined agent H (Chris Hemsworth) in fighting off an alien invader named The Hive, and once you hear why they’re called that it pretty much telegraphs every potential plot twist in the movie.

Anyway, back in the present, M and H work together to investigate a potential new threat from the Hive, involving a pair of alien assassins who are looking for a superweapon on Earth, taking them on an adventure through exotic locales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth work well together, as we’ve seen in the “Thor” and “Avengers” movies. But their pairing here seems more an attempt to coast off that buzz than come up with fresh ideas.

The shift to London, the globetrotting story and addition of Hemsworth as a suave secret agent are undoubtedly meant to give the film a “James Bond meets Men in Black” vibe, which might have been better served if the film embraced the tone such a mashup would imply, rather than lazily resorting to the familiar buddy cop vs. aliens boilerplate we’ve seen before.

The bonus materials on the Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions mostly reinforce the notion that this is merely the next iteration of a familiar franchise, with a half-hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes about the cast, stunts, production design and gadgets showing how “MIB” is being taken to the next level. But nostalgia isn’t left behind, as there’s a three-minute video recapping the earlier movies.

There’s also a bizarre three-minute NBA crossover video in which M and H discover a number of top NBA superstars are actually aliens. While these were produced as promos for the NBA playoffs around the time of the film’s theatrical run, without that context they play more as a prequel for a “Space Jam”-type movie.

The home video editions also come with a two-minute gag reel.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray are 11-and-a-half minutes of deleted scenes, some of which shed new light on elements in the movie. There’s also a pair of amusing faux commercials for “MIB”-style products, one for a consumer-approved memory-wiping neuralyzer, and another for a parody ancestry website for people to discover their alien heritage. However, the Alien-cestry.com URL just leads back to the Sony Pictures home page.

Avengers: Endgame

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 8/13/19;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $857 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.
Stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rene Russo, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglass, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Josh Brolin.

A satisfying ending is a beautiful thing.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe began as one of the boldest gambits in movie history: a comic book company financing its own movies, based on relatively unknown characters, with the hope of someday uniting them in a crossover.

While no one could have predicted that 2008’s Iron Man would be as big a hit as it was, the other early films of the MCU were much more modestly received, and it wasn’t until the first Avengers film in 2012, the sixth in the MCU canon, that the true potential of what they were trying to pull off came into focus.

With Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film in the MCU, that effort has resulted in the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. Say what you will about the corporate structure of Hollywood and the surging dominance of all things Disney, which owns Marvel, but the industry-shattering creative forces of producer Kevin Feige and his team simply have to be admired for their shear audicity.

Avengers: Endgame brings together just about every notable character to play a role in the previous 21 MCU films to close out a number of storylines that have been weaving through the films for 11 years.

Foremost among them was the aftermath of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which ended with one of the biggest cliffhangers in the history of cinema, as the villainous Thanos (Josh Brolin) assembled all six Infinity Stones and caused half of all life in the universe to disappear with a snap of his fingers.

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Like the best series finales, Endgame manages to capture the essential elements of what fans love most about these films, providing both a feeling of nostalgia and a sense of how far things progressed from the beginning to now, all while giving the characters a sense of closure that honors who they are and what they’ve fought for.

And yet, Endgame is not the end of the MCU. The currently in theaters Spider-Man: Far From Home provides a nice little epilogue to it, and Feige at Comic-Con showed off a roadmap of the MCU’s next phase. However, Endgame is certainly a well-earned conclusion for several chapters of it.

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Avengers: Endgame is a testament to narrative efficiency despite its three-hour running length.

The Marvel movies have hit upon a winning formula of consistency, and Endgame is really no different. There are certain things the audience expects of it, but that’s not to say it approaches these goals in expected ways. The screenplay manages to defy expectations in its plot twists but remains true to the characters and provides a number of emotional payoffs that will particularly hit home for fans who have managed to follow the story arcs through all the films. This is simply a level of catharsis that stems from a 20-film journey that simply cannot be matched by most other cinematic achievements.

Endgame perfectly balances its sense of seriousness and tension with appropriate levels of humor and fun, resulting in a brisk pace that keeps the viewer eager to see what comes next. The film also warrants multiple viewings just to absorb the level of detail layered into the film.

The story is something of a love letter to the fans in the way it ingeniously re-visits some of the previous MCU films from a new perspective, deepening those films in small ways retroactively. Yet it wouldn’t be an “Avengers” film if it didn’t also culminate in what has to be the ultimate big-screen superhero battle.

The Russos have become masters of visual storytelling, which is a rather important quality to have when the goal is to adapt a comic book. Endgame is perhaps the biggest comic book movie ever made in terms of its scope, and the Russos are especially adept at framing their shots for maximum impact. It comes as no surprise that the film looks great on Blu-ray, with bright colors and sharp visual effects.

Another challenge brushed off with aplomb is balancing the sheer number of characters involved in a story of this magnitude, especially given the assemblage of performers of the magnitude the MCU has the clout to get. The closing credits of Endgame include the names of at least eight Oscar winners, and five of them appeared together in one of the film’s key scenes. Needless to say, the performances all around do not disappoint.

The film’s effectiveness is also given a huge boost by a phenomenal musical score by Alan Silvestri, who is perhaps the greatest living film composer who has yet to win an Oscar. Unlike Infinity War, in which the primary musical identities were Thanos and the Avengers as a group, Endgame revisits several character themes from the previous films, resulting in a deeply satisfying musical narrative. This approach only heightens the emotional connection between the audience and the characters, particularly when it comes to Captain America (unsurprising, since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger was Silvestri’s first MCU effort).

These are details that, when combined, make it easy to overlook those parts of the film (and the MCU) in general that probably shouldn’t be thought about too much, and instead appreciate what the film has managed to accomplish.

The Blu-ray provides a great feature-length commentary from the Russos and the screenwriters as they reflect on their long MCU careers, analyze the various moving parts of the franchise, and provide some great insights on the making of the film and the challenges of cleanly telling a story that is complicated by its nature. The Russos also offer a short introduction to the film.

There are also 36 minutes of featurettes, many of which shine a light more on the history of the MCU and how things evolved into this particular film. There are spotlights on the story arcs of Captain America, Black Widow, Thor and Iron Man (the latter also including Robert Downey Jr.’s screen test for the role). The Russos and their impact on the MCU is the subject of another featurette.

There’s a vignette that celebrates the many female heroes of the MCU. Also, the disc includes a seven-minute tribute to Stan Lee and a look back at his many cameos in the MCU movies.

Other extras on the Blu-ray include a funny two-minute gag reel and six deleted scenes, which offer a mix of fun and poignancy, especially the ones that make light of perceived plot holes from earlier movies. The excised footage features unfinished visual effects and runs about five minutes.

Digital versions available at Movies Anywhere and many digital retailers, such as Vudu, offer these extras as well as a six-minute featurette about the relationship between Captain America and his true love, Peggy Carter.

‘Men In Black: International’ Due Digitally Aug. 20, on Disc Sept. 3

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the sci-fi comedy Men in Black: International through digital retailers Aug. 20, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Sept. 3.

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson star in the fourth “Men in Black” film as the newest agents to take on an apocalyptic alien threat to Earth.

Directed by F. Gary Gray, the cast also includes Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson.

The film earned $78.6 million at the domestic box office.

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The Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions will include a gag reel and several featurettes: “In Case You’ve Been Neuralyzed: MIB Recap,” a look back at the previous films; “New Recruits, Classic Suits,” a profile of the new cast; “Let’s Do This! Inside the Action & Stunts”; “Look Right Here: Gadgets, Weapons & Rides”; “Expanding the Universe of MIB”; “Frank & Pawny’s Peanut Gallery,” in which two supporting characters share their thoughts on key scenes; “Les Twins Leave It on the Floor,” about how dance sensations Les Twins devised their alien moves; and “The MIB Meet the NBA.”

Exclusive extras with the Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray combo pack include deleted scenes; an “Alien-cestry.com” game to let viewers trace their alien ancestry; and a neuralyzer infomercial called “Neuralyzer: Like It Never Even Happened.”