‘American Hustle’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD Steelbook May 21

The 2013 Oscar-lauded feature American Hustle will be released in a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook combo pack on May 21 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, in time for its 10th anniversary.

The combo pack includes the film on 4K Ultra Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc and digital.

The crime drama earned a global gross of $251 million on a budget of $40 million and picked up 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

In the film from director David O. Russell, scam artists and lovers Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are entrapped by ambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and coerced into participating in a major sting operation that hinges on snaring crooked politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and his associates. Complicating matters is Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who could bring the whole operation crashing down around them all. 

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The film is presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, featuring English Dolby Atmos + 5.1 audio, with HDR and Atmos approved by director David O. Russell. Special features on the 4K disc include 15 minutes of never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes and the theatrical trailer. Special features on the included Blu-ray Disc are 11 deleted and extended scenes and “The Making of American Hustle.”

Amsterdam

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

20th Century;
Mystery;
Box Office $14.95 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for brief violence and bloody images.
Stars Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro, Zoe Saldaña, Anya Taylor-Joy, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift.

Director David O. Russell’s Amsterdam may have been slammed by critics and flopped at the box office, but can any movie that features Taylor Swift being run over by a car really be all that bad?

Amsterdam tells the story of three friends from World War I who reconnect in 1933 when they are embroiled in a murder mystery. Christian Bale plays Dr. Burt Berendsen, who spends his time crafting cosmetic prosthetics for war veterans and experimenting with developing more-potent painkillers. He’s contacted by a war buddy named Harold (John David Washington) who now serves as a lawyer, regarding the death of their former commanding officer.

Swift plays the general’s daughter, who suspects foul play and enlists Berendsen to conduct an autopsy despite the authorities ruling he died from natural causes. After being warned to drop the inquiry, she’s pushed into the street by a hitman (Timothy Olyphant), who immediately pins the blame on Harold and Burt when she’s immediately mangled by a passing vehicle.

As the police investigate the pair, they reveal that the general was indeed poisoned, and set forth to clear their names. The clues lead them to their old friend Valerie (Margot Robbie), who they haven’t seen since the war, when she was their nurse helping them recover from war wounds in Amsterdam.

With her help, they learn about a plot to overthrow the U.S. government and install a famous general (Robert De Niro) as dictator.

The story is based on a real conspiracy from the 1930s called the Business Plot, though the names of the real-life particulars have been changed for the purposes of this fictionalized recount.

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The film offers some engaging performances and glitzy visual style, but the meatiness of the fascinating source inspiration for Russell’s screenplay is lost a bit in the breezy way it tells the story, touching on themes of racism and corporate politics for good measure.

What ends up on screen is more of a muddled conflagration of eccentric characters and a hyperkinetic obsession with the trappings of the period, coming across like the underwhelming love child of Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers.

The lone extra on the Blu-ray is the 15-and-a-half-minute “Welcome to Amsterdam” featurette, a typical assemblage of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and filmmakers praising each other for their skill and craftsmanship. It’s not unearned, but there’s too much unrealized potential given the level of talent involved.

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.

Western Remake ‘3:10 to Yuma’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD Steelbook Sept. 6

Director James Mangold’s 2007 remake of classic Western 3:10 to Yuma will arrive Sept. 6 on 4K Ultra HD plus Blu-ray plus digital Steelbook from Lionsgate.

Produced by Cathy Konrad, 3:10 to Yuma stars Russell Crowe (Les Misérables, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) and Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, American Psycho).

In the film, infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Bale) volunteers to deliver him alive to the “3:10 to Yuma,” a train that will take the killer to trial. But with Wade’s outfit on their trail — and dangers at every turn — the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man’s destiny.

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Special features include audio commentary with Mangold; the “3:10 to Score” featurette; the “Sea to Shining Sea” documentary; the “A Conversation With Elmore Leonard” featurette; the “The Guns of Yuma” featurette; a historical timeline of the West (Blu-ray only); “Inside Yuma: An Exclusive Blu-ray Disc Interactive Experience”; the “Destination Yuma” making-of documentary; the “An Epic Explored” featurette; the “Outlaws, Gangs, and Posses” documentary; and deleted scenes.

Ford v Ferrari

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/11/20;
Fox;
Drama;
Box Office $116.38 million;
$29.99 DVD, $37.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language and peril.
Stars Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Ray McKinnon.

Director James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari provides an immensely entertaining look at an international corporate rivalry that changed the face of auto racing in the 1960s.

Matt Damon stars as automotive designer Carroll Shelby, a former race car driver enlisted by the Ford Motor Company to design a car that can break the dominance of Ferrari in France’s prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Shelby in turn recruits Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to drive the car, a move that rubs certain Ford bigwigs the wrong way, most notably Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), the executive in charge of the racing division.

Bales, whose turn as the hotheaded mechanic and driver Miles is essentially a co-lead with Damon, dominates every scene he’s in with an energetic performance that commands attention. In fact, some of his best scenes involve Miles alone on the road in the racecar, commenting to himself about how much he enjoys the ride or doesn’t appreciate the actions of the drivers around him.

The film delivers both in the corporate versus maverick politics of the company’s attempts to constrain Shelby’s efforts, as well as being a thrilling racing movie. Mangold’s racing footage puts viewers on the track and in the cars, and viewers can practically feel the crashes through their high-definition home theaters.

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The scenes involving the design and testing of the new racecars are equally compelling, as Shelby’s team takes on the engineering challenge with the focus and intensity of a NASA mission to the moon.

Though Damon and Bale get the headlines with one of the great screen partnerships of recent years, the supporting cast delivers some noteworthy work as well, particularly Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe as Miles’ wife and son, and Ray McKinnon as one of Shelby’s top mechanics.

And the film gets to have its cake and eat it too with the “Batman v Bourne” of it all, when Shelby and Miles have a bit of a spat over how much of Ford’s corporate meddling they’re willing to take.

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The intricacy of detail the filmmakers took in re-creating the racing culture of the 1960s is on display in the hour-long making-of documentary “Bringing the Rivalry to Life” that is included with the Blu-ray and digital copies of the film. The eight-part program offers ample interviews about how much the cast enjoyed making the movie, and how the filmmakers went about making replica cars to use for the racing scenes.

Digital versions include the exclusive “The 24-Hour Le Mans: Re-creating the Course,” a 22-minute featurette that delves into how the filmmakers re-created the Le Mans course, using a mix of replica cars and visual effects to enhance the backgrounds. In some cases, the sons of the original drivers were bought in to play their fathers in the climactic race.

The digital edition also offers a 26-minute highlight reel of pre-vis animation of the race scenes.

Vudu has an additional three-minute featurette edited from clips culled from the other bonus materials.

 

‘Ford v Ferrari’ Driving to Home Video

The racing drama Ford v Ferrari will be released through digital retailers Jan. 28, and on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 11 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Based on the true story about Ford Motor Company’s attempt to create the world’s fastest car, the film stars Matt Damon as American car designer Carroll Shelby, and Christian Bale as the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles, who joined forces to battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car and take on Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

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Directed by James Mangold, the film earned $110.1 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray and digital editions will include the eight-part, 60-minute behind-the-scenes documentary “Bringing the Rivalry to Life.”

Digital bonus materials include the featurette “The 24 Hour Le Mans: Recreating the Course,” and animated pre-visualizations of the Daytona and Le Mans racing sequences.

A “Matt and Christian: The Conversation” featurette with reflections on the film from Damon and Bale will be available exclusively through iTunes.

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Warner Bros. Re-Releasing Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ Movies on Imax Screens

In honor of the 80th anniversary of the first published appearance of the Batman comic in May 1939, Warner Bros. March 13 began selling tickets to special Imax screenings for all three movies from director Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy featuring Christian Bale as the masked crusader.

Moviegoers who acquire tickets for all three films receive a lanyard and special “Dark Knight” Trilogy collectible.

Christopher Nolan directs Christian Bale and Tom Hardy in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’

On March 30, the films — 2005’s Batman Begins, 2008’s The Dark Knight and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises— will screen back-to-back at the Universal Cinema AMC in Los Angeles. During an interlude between the second and third films, Nolan will join the audience for a moderated Q&A discussion on the movies.

On April 13, the three films will screen at AMC Lincoln Square in New York and AMC Metreon in San Francisco, followed by Cinesphere Ontario Place, Toronto, and Imax Theatre at the Indiana State Museum, Ind., on April 20, each accompanied by the footage of Nolan’s Los Angeles appearance.

In all five cities, all three movies will be seen in the director’s preferred 70mm format, providing an all-encompassing moviegoing experience.

Nolan with The Dark Knight (with Heath Ledger as The Joker) was the first director to shoot action sequences of a major feature film with Imax cameras, revolutionizing the integration of Imax and standard formats. He utilized Imax cameras more extensively in The Dark Knight Rises.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight.’

“Christopher Nolan broke new ground with the ‘Dark Knight’ Trilogy, and this is a rare chance for today’s audiences to experience these extraordinary films as they were meant to be seen,” Jeff Goldstein, president, domestic distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, said in a statement. “To have the added privilege of hearing Chris’s insights firsthand makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Eight-Time Oscar Nominated ‘Vice’ Coming to Digital March 12, Disc April 2 From Fox

Vice, which has been nominated in eight Academy Award categories, including Best Picture, will be available on digital (including Movies Anywhere) March 12 and on Blu-ray and DVD April 2 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The dark comedy, which chronicles the life of Vice President Dick Cheney, stars Christian Bale in an Oscar-nominated role as Cheney and co-stars Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell. It is directed by Adam McKay.

The film has earned $46.2 million in theaters.

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Bonus features include deleted scenes; the featurette “Gaming the System: The Making of Vice”; “The Music of Power”; and a photo gallery.