The Batman

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/24/22;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $369.3 million;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for strong violent and disturbing content, drug content, strong language, and some suggestive material.
Stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Jayme Lawson, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell.

Director Matt Reeves’ The Batman brings an indie sensibility to the realm of the big-budget superhero. The film feels more like a 1970s crime saga than the slick, CGI-heavy spectacles most blockbuster comic book movies have become lately.

Unlike with many of the earlier adaptations, The Batman emphasizes the character’s skills as a detective rather than as a gadget-happy vigilante — though there is plenty of that to go around as well. The story finds Batman (Robert Pattinson) teaming with Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to investigate the murder of Gotham City’s mayor by the Riddler (Paul Dano), who leaves a series of clues that threaten to unravel Gotham’s criminal underworld and bring chaos to the city.

Drawing inspiration from the grittier Batman comic storylines of the late 1980s and 1990s, the film presents the caped crusader as raw and unpolished, so obsessed with his vigilante pursuit of justice that he neglects his life as Bruce Wayne, much to the chagrin of his butler and caretaker, Alfred (Andy Serkis). Along the way, Batman finds an unlikely ally in proto-Catwoman Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), who has her own motivations for taking down the city’s mob bosses, including Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and the Penguin (Colin Farrell, unrecognizable in heavy makeup).

Taking place a couple of years into Batman’s war on crime in Gotham City, The Batman almost feels like it could take place after Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, sharing that film’s interest in grounding Batman more in realism than his more fantastical comic book roots. The film’s darker mood is helped immensely by a relentless, haunting musical score by Michael Giacchino.

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The Batman clocks in at a lengthy three hours and feels it, taking its time to establish the grungy hopelessness of Gotham City and not rushing through the particulars of the case at hand. Just as the film seems to reach an emotional catharsis through the resolution of one central mystery, it still has 50 minutes or so to contend with the Riddler’s grand plot, a pivot that feels more akin to a streaming miniseries. Ironically, after two hours of aping film noir, the film’s third act is the one that starts to feel most like a traditional Batman movie.

The film’s production design gives Gotham an appropriately worn out look, with a color palette awash in oranges and browns, grays and blacks, toning down any potential splashes of real color. The Batsuit and Batmobile feel homemade — Pattinson’s Batman a crusader with dirt under his fingernails as he tours the city on a motorcycle with his costume in a backpack, ready to jump into action.

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The Blu-ray includes a couple of deleted scenes. The most notable, running nearly six minutes, features Batman visiting a familiar Arkham Asylum prisoner to gain insights into the Riddler case, a la Silence of the Lambs. While interesting on its own, the scene spoils the character’s more-effective cameo that’s in the final film, and overall just doesn’t seem to mesh well with the proceedings. The other scene, running about two minutes, provides some interesting character dynamics as Selina is propositioned by the Penguin as she’s trying to infiltrate his nightclub to gain clues for Batman. Both scenes contain optional director’s commentary by Reeves.

A comprehensive and insightful commentary for the entire film is offered by Reeves as an iTunes exclusive — available to those who purchase the film directly from Apple or use Apple TV to view a digital copy redeemed through Movies Anywhere.

Also included with the home video extras are about two hours of behind-the-scenes material featuring interviews with the key filmmakers, including Reeves sporting a bushy mustache that makes him look like a Commissioner Gordon stand-in himself.

The headliner, running nearly 54 minutes, is “Vengeance in the Making,” which provides a comprehensive look at the entire production. 

The eight-minute “Vengeance Meets Justice” looks at some of the parallels between Batman and Riddler; the six-minute “The Batman: Genesis” offers Pattinson and Reeves exploring their approach to Batman; the eight-and-a-half-minute “Becoming Catwoman” and the eight-minute “A Transformation: The Penguin” look at Kravitz’s and Farrell’s takes on their iconic characters; the 11-minute “The Batmobile” unveils the creation of this film’s iteration of Batman’s famous car; the five-minute “Looking for Vengeance” focuses on making the fight sequences; while the six minute “Anatomy of the Car Chase” and six-and-a-half-minute “Anatomy of the Wingsuit Jump” break down two key action scenes. The six-minute “Unpacking the Icons,” which is the only one of the featurettes offered on the DVD version, looks at the film’s tone and costume design.

Movies Anywhere offers an additional minute-long featurette called “Discover: Batmobile, Batsuit & Gadgets.”

HBO Max Orders DC Limited Series ‘The Penguin’ Starring Colin Farrell

HBO Max has given a straight-to-series order for “The Penguin” (working title), a limited series starring Colin Farrell in the title role.

The DC drama expands upon the world filmmaker Matt Reeves created for Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Batman and centers on the character played by Farrell in the film.

The series is executive produced by Matt Reeves, Dylan Clark, Farrell and Lauren LeFranc, who writes and serves as showrunner. Based on characters created for DC by Bob Kane with Bill Finger, “The Penguin” is produced by Reeves’ 6th & Idaho Productions and Dylan Clark Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, where Reeves and 6th & Idaho are under an overall deal. 6th & Idaho’s Daniel Pipski and Adam Kassan also serve as executive producers, and Rafi Crohn is co-executive producer.
 
“We are thrilled to bring audiences a new version of this iconic DC character that they have never seen before,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, said in a statement. “It is incredible to be working with Matt, Dylan and Lauren on continuing this story and to see Colin take his already exceptional performance in The Batman to the next level.”
 
“Colin exploded off the screen as the Penguin in The Batman, and having the chance to thoroughly explore the inner life of that character on HBO Max is an absolute thrill,” Reeves said in a statement. “Dylan and I are so excited to work with Lauren in continuing Oz’s story as he grabs violently for power in Gotham.” 

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“I have long been a fan of the world of The Batman, and Matt’s film is such a powerful and bold entry into the canon,” LeFranc said in a statement. “I am excited and humbled to continue telling stories in the grimy world of Gotham City — and what better excuse to channel my inner villain than to tell the story of Oswald Cobblepot? I am thrilled to work with Colin, Matt, Dylan, 6th & Idaho, Warners, and HBO Max as we work to bring this story to the screen.”

“The world that Matt Reeves created for The Batman is one that warrants a deeper gaze through the eyes of Oswald Cobblepot,” Farrell said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited about continuing this exploration of Oz as he rises through the darkened ranks to become The Penguin. Will be good to get him back on the streets of Gotham for a little madness and a little mayhem.”
 
Released in theaters in North America on March 4, 2022, and internationally beginning March 2, 2022, The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, grossed $134 million at the North American box office and $124 million internationally in its first weekend for a $258 million global launch. 

Science-Fiction Thriller ‘Voyagers’ Coming to Digital June 8, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD June 15

The science-fiction thriller Voyagers will arrive on digital and digital 4K Ultra HD June 8, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and VOD June 15 from Lionsgate.

Written and directed by Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist), the film stars Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan (X-Men franchise), Lily-Rose Depp (The King), Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), Chanté Adams (Roxanne Roxanne), Isaac Hempstead Wright (“Game of Thrones”), Viveik Kalra (Blinded by the Light), Archie Madekwe (Midsommar), Quintessa Swindell (“Trinkets”) and Madison Hu (“Bizaardvark”).

In the film, with the future of the human race at stake, a group of young men and women, bred for intelligence and obedience, embark on an expedition to colonize a distant planet. But when they uncover disturbing secrets about the mission, they defy their training and begin to explore their most primitive natures. As life on the ship descends into chaos, they’re consumed by fear, lust and the insatiable hunger for power.

Special features include: 

  • “Born for This: The Cast of Voyagers” featurette;
  • “Against Type: Unlearning Human Nature” featurette;
  • “Survival of the Fittest: The Physicality of Voyagers” featurette;
  • “On the Surface: The Visual Style of Voyagers” featurette; and
  • “Hidden Chambers: Tour the Humanitas” featurette.

TV Time: Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ Most Anticipated Movie in April

Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat was the most anticipated movie in April on the TV Time chart.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film follows Shaolin Monk Liu Kang, from Earth, who gets invited as a competitor in a mysterious, intergalactic tournament of ancient martial arts. It premieres April 23 in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service.

A Whip Media company, TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by nearly 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, premiering on Amazon Prime April 30, took the second spot on the chart. The action thriller is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy and is a spin-off of the Jack Ryan film series.

Coming in at No. 3 was Netflix’s Thunder Force, premiering April 9 on the streaming service. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spenser and Jason Bateman, the film follows two childhood best friends who reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people superpowers.

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Also from Netflix, Stowaway, premiering April 22, took the fourth spot on the chart. In the film starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette, a three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.

Another space story, Lionsgate’s Voyagers, landed at No. 5. Starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp and Fionn Whitehead, the film follows a crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission who descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not. It hits theaters April 9.

Rounding out the chart at No. 6 was Concrete Cowboy, which began streaming on Netflix April 2. Starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), it follows a rebellious teen, sent to live with his estranged father for the summer, who finds kinship in a tight-knit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys.

 Most Anticipated April Movies

  1. Mortal Kombat – April 23 (Warner Bros., theaters and HBO Max)
  2. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – April 30 (Amazon Prime)
  3. Thunder Force – April 9 (Netflix)
  4. Stowaway – April 22 (Netflix)
  5. Voyagers – April 9 (Lionsgate, theaters)
  6. Concrete Cowboy – April 2 (Netflix)

 

TV Time features a global community of 16 million users who have reported more than 18 billion views of TV and movie content across 230,000 titles.

Dumbo (2019)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 6/25/19;
Disney;
Family;
Box Office $114.03 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language.
Stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins.

With a running time of just 64 minutes, Disney’s original 1941 animated classic Dumbo is a bit thin on the source material required for a full-bore live-action remake.

To pad out the details, Disney turned to screenwriter Ehren Kruger, veteran of several “Transformers” movies, and director Tim Burton, who previously directed 2010’s Alice in Wonderland for the studio.

The end result is a remake that is equal parts reimagining of and sequel to the original classic.

The core of the story still focuses on the baby circus elephant named Dumbo who learns to use his oversized ears to fly. After his mother is locked up for aggressively defending him from the crowds picking on him for his large ears, he yearns to reunite with her.

However, whereas the bulk of the original film dealt with Dumbo learning how to fly and building his confidence, in the new version he figures out how to fly relatively quickly. Instead of a mouse to handle him, he is looked after by returning World War I veteran Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his two young children, and soon becomes a star for the small traveling circus run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito).

Dumbo’s exploits gain the attention of entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who offers to buy out Medici in order to make Dumbo the headliner of his circus-themed amusement park, Dreamland. Meanwhile, the children hope to use Dumbo’s earnings to find his mother and bring her back to him.

The Vandevere storyline gives the film the air of self-parody, as his theme park is clearly an analog for Disneyland. What’s more, the plot turns on a corporate merger in which the smaller company is to be swallowed up and the bulk of its staffers laid off — a detail rife with parallels to the Disney-Fox merger that was completed shortly before this film hit theaters.

Keaton playing the slimy businessman is also a bit of a switch from his pairing with DeVito in another Burton film, 1992’s Batman Returns, in which DeVito was the one playing the bad guy.

These are clever details for what is ultimately a kids movie, and while Burton’s visual flair and penchant for oddity may amuse adults in the audience for a time, the film mostly settles in as a piece of inconsequential family fare that should keep younger viewers entertained.

Hardcore Disney fans can also take it to the next level in searching for the many subtle references to Disney history, particularly the 1941 film, layered throughout. To this end, the Blu-ray includes a four-minute “Easter Eggs on Parade” featurette.

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Other featurettes include the eight-minute “Circus Spectaculars,” featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers; “The Elephant in the Room,” a six-minute recount of the process of updating the story of the animated film; and “Built to Amaze,” an eight-minute look at the film’s production and costume design.

The Blu-ray also includes nine deleted scenes running eight minutes in total; a two-minute “Clowning Around” gag reel; and a “Baby Mine” music video featuring Arcade Fire’s update of the Oscar-nominated song from the original film.

The digital copy of the film available through Movies Anywhere and select digital retailers also includes a breakdown of the creation of the Dreamland parade sequence.

Live-Action ‘Dumbo’ Flies to Home Video June 25

Disney will release director Tim Burton’s live-action remake of Dumbo on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digitally June 25.

Inspired by the 1941 animated classic, Dumbo features struggling circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlisting former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive but sinister entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, spectacular, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. The cast also includes Eva Green.

The film earned $112.8 million at the domestic box office.

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Blu-ray and digital extras include deleted scenes; a “Baby Mine” music video by Arcade Fire; a “Clowning Around” blooper reel; an “Easter Eggs on Parade” featurette; a “Circus Spectaculars” featurette focused on the cast’s memories of making the film; the featurette “The Elephant in the Room,” about bringing the animated tale to live action; and a “Built to Amaze” featurette about the film’s production and costume design.

The digital versions, available through various retailers and the Movies Anywhere digital service, will include an exclusive “Dreamland — Anatomy of a Scene: From Final Script to Final Scene” featurette about bringing the Dreamland parade to life.

Bonus material will vary by digital retailer.

Fox Releasing ‘Widows’ on Disc Feb. 5

The heist-thriller Widows arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 5 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), and co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), the film focuses on four women with nothing in common but the debt their dead husbands left to a crime boss after a botched job got them killed.

The widows — Viola Davis (Fences), Michelle Rodriguez (“Fast & Furious” Franchise), Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale) — come together to attempt a heist to pay off the debt.

The cast also includes Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson.

The film earned $42 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray includes a photo gallery and nearly 60 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes, including “Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story,” “Plotting the Heist: The Story,” “Assembling the Crew: Production” and “The Scene of the Crime: Locations.”

The digital download of Widows is expected Jan. 22, according to Apple’s iTunes.