Lego DC: Shazam! — Magic and Monsters

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Animated;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Voices of Sean Astin, Troy Baker, Nolan North, Grey Griffin, Christina Milizia, James Arnold Taylor, Imari Williams, Fred Tatasciore, Ralph Garman, Zach Callison, Dee Bradley Baker, Jennifer Hale, Tom Kenny, Johnny Rees, Erica Lindbeck, Josh Keaton.

The “Lego DC” movies are like a throwback to the days of superheroes being light and fun, like the old “Super Friends” cartoon.

The latest installment focuses on Shazam, the red-suited mystically powered hero who has gotten a bit higher profile of late thanks to his own live-action motion picture last year.

In this new adventure done in the Lego style, Shazam is a rookie superhero on the verge of joining the Justice League. But he doesn’t believe the team will accept him if they discover that his secret identity of Billy Batson is just a kid who only takes on adult form when he gains powers by shouting “Shazam!”

His fears become secondary, however, when his archenemesis Mr. Mind and Dr. Savana discover a way to turn the Justice League members into children so that they may more easily brainwash them into doing evil.

That leaves is up to Shazam, and the kid version of Batman who escapes, to save the day.

The movie has a lot of fun playing with the Shazam mythology, particularly all the gods from whom Shazam derives his powers. There’s also a fantastic final fight that might fulfill a lot of fanboy crossover fantasies.

The Blu-ray includes a Lego Shazam minifigure and three bonus cartoons: an episode of “Teen Titans Go!” and two episodes of “Unikitty!”

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HBO Max Greenlights DC Series Based on World of Upcoming ‘The Batman’ Feature

HBO Max has given a series commitment to an original DC drama set in the Gotham City police department from The Batman filmmaker Matt Reeves, “Boardwalk Empire” creator Terence Winter, The Batman producer Dylan Clark, and Warner Bros. Television.

The series, to be written by Winter, is set in the world Reeves is creating for The Batman feature film and will build upon the motion picture’s examination of the anatomy of corruption in Gotham City, ultimately launching a new Batman universe across multiple platforms.

“The series provides an unprecedented opportunity to extend the world established in the movie, and further explore the myriad of compelling and complex characters of Gotham,” according to a press release.

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This marks the first television project for Reeves under his recently announced overall deal with the Warner Bros. Television Group.

“This is an amazing opportunity, not only to expand the vision of the world I am creating in the film, but to explore it in the kind of depth and detail that only a longform format can afford — and getting to work with the incredibly talented Terence Winter, who has written so insightfully and powerfully about worlds of crime and corruption, is an absolute dream,”  Reeves said in a statement.

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“We are so fortunate to have such great partners in Matt, Dylan, and Terry and unprecedented access to a wealth of IP from our partners at Warner Bros. and DC,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement.

“Our collaboration with Warner Bros. and DC allows us to elaborate and grow fan connections across these powerful brands for years to come,” Kevin Reilly, chief content officer for HBO Max, and president of TNT, TBS and TruTV, said in a statement. “This is Batman as most audiences have never seen before and we know fans will want to spend more time in this new world inspired by the film.”

In addition to helming Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Batman, which will be released in October 2021, Reeves previously co-wrote and directed War for the Planet of the Apes, directed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, wrote and directed Let Me In, and directed Cloverfield, among other films.

First Season of DC’s ‘Stargirl’ on Disc Sept. 29

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Stargirl: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 29.

The discs will include all 13 episodes from the first season of the superhero series. The Blu-ray will also include a digital copy of the season. Episodes will also be available for purchase through digital retailers.

Based on the DC Comics character created by Geoff Johns, “Stargirl” follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), who tries to re-form the long-lost superhero group the Justice Society of America to battle a team of supervillains. She seeks guidance in her quest from her stepfather, Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson), the former sidekick to original JSA member Starman, whose cosmic staff gives Courtney her power.

The cast also includes Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Trae Romano, Jake Austin Walker, Hunter Sansone, Meg DeLacy, Neil Jackson, Christopher James Baker and Amy Smart.

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The series is currently midway through airing its first season, with the season finale slated for August. Episodes debut Mondays on the DC Universe streaming service and are presented the next day on the CW network.

Animated Movie Based on DC Comics’ ‘Deathstroke’ Coming in August

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons through digital retailers Aug. 4, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 18.

The film offers a new take on the DC Comics character Deathstroke, a mercenary and master assassin named Slade Wilson. The film finds him living two lives, one as a relentless killer, the other as a dedicated family man. When his worlds are forced together by the terror group known as H.I.V.E., the killer in Slade must fight to save his loved ones.

The voice cast includes Michael Chiklis as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Sasha Alexander as Wilson’s wife, Chris Jai Alex as The Jackal, Faye Mata as Jade/H.I.V.E Queen, Griffin Puatu as Joseph/Jericho, Imari Williams as President Nichols, Asher Bishop as Young Joseph, Colin Salmon as William Wintergreen, Delbert Hunt as Bronze Tiger, Panta Mosleh as Lady Shiva, Noshir Dalal as Kapoor, Castulo Guerra as General Suarez, and Minae Noji as the Secretary of State.

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The latest entry in the DC Animated Movies line was produced by Warner Bros. Animation, DC and Blue Ribbon Content, Warner’s specialty arm for digital platform programming. Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons was originally presented as a series of animated shorts that appeared on CW Seed. The movie version includes 50 minutes of never-before-seen footage, including the climax.

The Blu-ray combo pack will include a digital copy and the featurette “Deathstroke: One-Man Death Machine.” Bonus material is also offered with the digital edition through select retailers.

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Warner Archive Releasing ‘Legion of Super Heroes’ Animated Series on Blu-ray

Warner Archive Collection on July 14 will release Legion of Super Heroes: The Complete Series on Blu-ray Disc.

In season one, Legionnaires Bouncing Boy (Michael Cornacchia), Brainiac 5 (Adam Wylie), Saturn Girl (Kari Wahlgren) and Lightning Lad (Andy Milder) travel back in time to convince an awkward teen named Clark Kent (Yuri Lowenthal) to join the Legion and battle their archnemeses, the Fatal Five. Season two presents Superman and the Legion with an even greater challenge: Kell-El, the Superman of the 41st century.

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The Blu-ray will include all 26 episodes from the 2006-08 animated series, plus the featurette “We Are Legion” and an exclusive audio commentary on the series’ two-part finale, “Dark Victory,” with producer James Tucker, director Brandon Vietti and Wahlgren.

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The first season was previously released in three DVD volumes. Warner Archive will also be releasing a DVD of the second season.

HBO Max, DC Partner For Digital Comic Book Series Promotion

Upstart SVOD service HBO Max is partnering with sister company DC Comics for three new original digital comic book series promotions titled “To the Max.” The series features animated stories about ordinary people achieving their maximum potential when they transform into extraordinary superheroes with the help of another new character, Max the dog.

The free comics launched June 15, cross-promote the recent launch of Max and are full of Easter Eggs and nods to much of the 10,000 hours of content currently available on the streaming platform, including “Friends,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Sex and the City” and “Scooby-Doo,” among others.

The initial launch of the digital comic includes three eight-page chapters featuring “Hector,” “Brian” and “Olivia” (HBO), who meet Max the dog, gain access to different superpowers and become able to teleport, shape shift, fly and save lives around the world.

“These fun, original stories depict a diverse range of ordinary individuals who are symbolic of the depth and breadth of programming that is available on the platform, driving home the message that HBO Max has something for everyone,” Robert Greenblatt, chairman, Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer, said in a statement.

DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee said the superhero are also a pop culture scavenger hunt for media savvy readers.

To the Max: Hector features a schoolteacher finding a mysterious device that sends him flying into an incredible outer-space rescue mission. The issue is written by Ivan Cohen, with cover art by Jim Lee and pencils by Scot Eaton.

To the Max: Brian is about a scuba instructor who is transformed into a superhero who must save innocent people from a deadly storm in Singapore. The issue is written by Ivan Cohen, with cover art by Jorge Jimenez and pencils by Hendry Prasetya.

To the Max: Olivia presents a down-on-her-luck stand-up comic who is all that stands between her audience and gun-toting criminals who plan to rob a Las Vegas casino. The issue is written by Ivan Cohen, with cover art by Amanda Conner and pencils by Laura Braga.

“To the Max” comics are available on DC Universe, DCComics.com, Apple iBookstore, Google Play Store, Kindle, Nook, Hoopla, Overdrive, and in the DC Comics app, ComiXology app and Madefire app for iOS and Android.

‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Season 5 on Disc Sept. 22

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 22. All 15 episodes from the season will also be available through digital retailers.

The season finale airs on the CW June 2.

Based on DC Comics characters, “Legends of Tomorrow” follows a group of misfit heroes as they fight, talk, and sing their way through protecting history from aberrations, anomalies, and anything else that threatens to mess up the timeline. In the fifth season, evil figures from history are returning from hell to cause havoc, leading the Legends to round up the reanimated souls and uncovering a supernatural plot in which the fate of the world and the free will of mankind is at stake.

The cast includes Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Tala Ashe, Jes Macallan, Courtney Ford, Olivia Swann, Nick Zano and Dominic Purcell, plus Matt Ryan reprising his role as John Constantine.

Extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel and a “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 Post Production Theater” featurette.

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The season began with the concluding chapter of the five-part “Crisis on Infinite Earth” crossover with other CW superhero series, completing the story from “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl” and “Batwoman.”

The Blu-ray edition will include a limited-edition bonus disc with all five “Crisis” episodes and six tie-in featurettes (the disc is also available with the concurrent Blu-ray seasons of the other shows involved in the crossover).

HBO Max to Release Zack Synder’s Director’s Cut of ‘Justice League’ in 2021

In a move to energize fans of DC Comics and the pending May 27 launch of HBO Max, WarnerMedia May 20 revealed it would stream director Zack Synder’s highly coveted director’s cut of Justice League in 2021.

Snyder disclosed the news this morning during a live online commentary of his pending movie, Man of Steel with Henry Cavill. #ReleaseTheSnyderCut first became a social media cause among fans in 2017 and has not let up among cinephiles and comic book fans.

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“I want to thank HBO Max and Warner Brothers for this brave gesture of supporting artists and allowing their true visions to be realized. Also a special thank you to all of those involved in the SnyderCut movement for making this a reality,” Snyder said in a statement. “Since I got here 14 months ago, the chant to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut has been a daily drumbeat in our offices and inboxes.”

Originally released in 2017, Justice League features a team of well-known superheroes (Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash) inspired by Superman and his ally, Diana Prince, to fight a new global threat. The movie generated $657 million at the global box office.

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Kevin Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max, and president of TNT, TBS and truTV, said Synder’s cut of the Justice League wouldn’t have happened without the combined efforts of the teams at HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures.

“When Zack and Debbie shared the extraordinary vision of where Zack wanted to take Justice League, my team and our counterparts at Warner Bros. took it as a mission to solve the many issues that stood in the way,” Reilly said in a statement. “Thanks to the partnership at Warner Bros. and the relentless pursuit of the entire WarnerMax team we are able to deliver this incredibly exciting moment for Zack, the fans and HBO Max.”

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/12/20;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $84.16 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.
Stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ewan McGregor.

The most significant aspect of the 2016 Suicide Squad movie was undoubtedly the popularity boost it gave to the character of Harley Quinn, as played by Margot Robbie. While she had always been a fan favorite, the film made her a pop culture sensation, as Harley Quinn cosplay dominated the comic book convention circuit more than ever before, and there was little doubt the character would be popping up in her own movie soon enough.

Those plans hit a bit of a snag, however, as the creative direction of the DC Comics shared movie universe began to unravel a bit following the disappointment of 2017’s Justice League. Subsequent projects would put more focus on the individual films while de-emphasizing the potential for interconnected stories.

And with that, Harley Quinn would end up fronting a loose adaptation of the “Birds of Prey” comic book that shined a spotlight on some of the female heroes of Gotham City. Being the girlfriend of the Joker, Harley was usually cast as an antagonist, but her popularity spurt resulted in her being positioned as more of an anti-hero.

As such, the film finds Harley (Robbie) having just broken up with the Joker, a change in relationship status that makes her an open target for every criminal in Gotham City with a bone to pick with her. In her efforts to establish herself as an underworld authority in her own right, and find a quiet moment to enjoy an egg sandwich, Harley finds herself protecting a teenage pickpocket (Ella Jay Basco) who stole a jewel encoded with the account numbers of a vast mafia fortune, attracting the attention of a mob boss nicknamed Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

Along the way, and with nary a mention of Batman, Harley tussles with a hotshot cop (Rosie Perez) who treats her job like an ’80s action movie; the Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a lounge singer with sonic powers; and Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a crossbow-wielding vigilante who seeks vengeance on the crime lords who killed her family.

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Described by one of the visual effects supervisors in the bonus materials as Pulp Fiction meets Clockwork Orange, the film seems trying to set itself up as something of a girl power version of Deadpool, intersplicing some decent action scenes with broad comedy in service of several story threads connected by narration from Harley that jumps back and forth through time. Also like Deadpool, the film tries to play in the ‘R’-rated playground, but the attempt seems more like an excuse for excess rather than anything intrinsically necessary for the characters, story or humor.

Unfortunately, in an effort to be quirky, the film was saddled with the mouthful of a title Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, which when shortened to the obvious Birds of Prey doesn’t speak much to Harley’s involvement in it. So, after the film’s initial disappointment at the box office (also not helped by limiting the audience with its ‘R’ rating), the studio tried to re-christen it Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey for marketing purposes (a move further made understandable by the fact that they couldn’t get the full name right in their own press release for the home video). They probably just should have called it Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey to begin with.

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With the coronavirus pandemic cutting the film’s box office run short, it made an early debut through digital retailers, which offered a variety of bonus features that also made their way to the Blu-ray edition.

The primary extra is the Birds Eye View Mode, a viewing option that plays the film with a mix of filmmaker commentary, pop-up trivia and picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes footage.

More behind-the-scenes details are offered in six featurettes that run a total of 42 minutes, with some repetition of material between them and with the viewing mode. Most of the emphasis is on the physical look of the film, such as the production design and the costumes. There’s also a significant amount of time devoted to the style of the characters and finding the right actors to play them. One of the more unintentionally funny clips involves Winstead heaping praise upon the talents of McGregor — who reportedly left his wife for her while they were co-starring on the “Fargo” TV show just before signing on for this movie.

Finally, there’s a two-minute gag reel that, while amusing, is hard pressed to make an impact given all the silliness that ended up in the movie.

‘Lucifer’ Fourth Season on DVD in May

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Lucifer: The Complete Fourth Season through digital retailers May 11, and on DVD May 12. Warner Archive will release the season on Blu-ray.

The disc includes all 10 episodes plus deleted scenes.

Based on the character from DC Comics’ “The Sandman” series, the show revolves around Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the Devil, who abandons Hell for Los Angeles where he runs his own nightclub and becomes a consultant to the LAPD.

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The fourth season finds Lucifer returning following the resolution of the third-season cliffhanger to reunite with his love-interest and crime-fighting partner, LAPD detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), who must come to terms with seeing the devil face of his true nature for the first time. However, Lucifer’s old flame Eve (Inbar Lavi) arrives for payback from getting expelled from the Garden of Eden.

The cast also includes Kevin Alejandro, DB Woodside, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Aimee Garcia, Scarlett Estevez and Rachael Harris.

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The fourth season of “Lucifer” was originally presented in 2019 on Netflix, after the first three seasons aired on Fox. The #SaveLucifer fan campaign after Fox canceled the series led to its renewal by Netflix, which has also ordered a final season of 16 episodes, to be presented in two batches.