Tenet

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $57.9 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language.
Stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, Clémence Poésy, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh.

Christopher Nolan’s films often employ time-shifting narrative techniques that challenge the viewer to pay attention in order to be rewarded with a compelling entertainment experience.

With Tenet, is it possible that Nolan has crafted such a bizarre premise that even his smartest fans will have trouble wrapping their heads around it?

If there were a movie or TV show in which the characters were watching a “Christopher Nolan-style” movie, and then the makers of that program had to create a fake film to both represent and satirize a Nolan movie, something like Tenet is probably what they would come up with.

The story involves a CIA agent (John David Washington) who finds himself caught up with a super-secret organization on a mission to stop World War III from being started by enemies from the future who are able to invert the entropy of objects so that the travel backwards in time. The main enemy in the present is a Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh) who wants to assemble a device that will wipe out time itself, causing a paradox.

A common trait to Nolan’s films is how much they seem to be meta-commentaries on the art of filmmaking, and Tenet is no exception. In addition to the editing techniques that alter the flow of time much like the way a viewer can jump around a movie using a home video player, Washington’s character is referred to only as “The Protagonist,” a word that literally the word that means the main character of a story.

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At its simplest level, the film could be described as a time travel spy thriller, but that does little to convey just what a viewer is in for. Characters fight other characters who move backwards through the scene, then discover inversion machines that allow them to revisit earlier scenes, forcing characters in two different time frames to interact with each other, culminating in one of the most cinematically engaging, if utterly nonsensical, battles one is likely to witness.

Unlike Nolan’s earlier movies, such as Memento, Inception or Interstellar, where the time-shifting techniques have a certain logic to them, the exposition in Tenet would seem to defy all sense of rationality, yet they still work within the confines of the story as long as one doesn’t think about it too hard.

When a scientist character in the film trying to explain inverted time tells the hero, “Don’t try to understand it … just feel it,” she’s basically giving instructions to the audience, too.

And that’s pretty much the only way a viewer can make sense of what’s going on — by not trying to. Just enjoy the film in the moment, accept the notion that the characters have a handle on it, and take it in as an expression of pure cinema.

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There have been some grumblings about the sound mix favoring background noise and music to the point of making the dialogue hard to hear, and requiring subtitles, but I was able to make out what the characters were saying just fine. Perhaps it’s just a factor of getting used to it after multiple viewings.

The Blu-ray includes a comprehensive, multi-part behind-the-scenes documentary that runs about an hour and 15 minutes and covers the production from Nolan’s conception of it, to casting it, to crafting the action scenes, to post-production, editing and music. Viewers who’ve just watched the film and are still trying to make sense of it can take some satisfaction in seeing the stunt coordinator breaking his brain trying to conceive of how to depict a fight between two characters moving in opposite directions through time, and know they aren’t alone.

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.

Peter Rabbit

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Family Comedy;
Box Office $114.6 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some rude humor and action.
Stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Sam Neill; Voices of James Corden, Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Moody, Sia.

The beloved illustrated books by Beatrix Potter are brought to life in a delightful adaptation that modernizes the adventures of Peter Rabbit and his friends and family with the seamless hybrid of cute CG animals and live-action.

Orphaned after the deaths of his mother and father, Peter (James Corden) and his sisters — Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cottontail (Daisy Ridley) — and cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody) scrape by on the vegetables they manage to swipe from the garden of Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill), and the kindness of his neighbor, the animal-loving Bea (Rose Byrne). But troublemaker Peter is all too willing to throw caution to the wind in tempting fate, and gets caught by the old farmer, only to be saved when McGregor drops dead of a heart attack.

Peter invites all the animals of the glade to invade McGregor’s house, only to be put out again by McGregor’s nephew, Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson), a Londoner who hopes to flip his inheritance for a profit and return to the city. He sets more traps to deter the rabbits, but falls in love with Bea when she comes over to ask him to let the animals into the garden.

Peter becomes jealous of Bea’s affections for Thomas, setting off a feud between the rabbit and the newcomer that leads to an escalating series of cartoonish pranks and gags.

The film isn’t afraid to poke fun at the conventions of similar talking-animal family films as it pushes the boundaries of the battles between Peter and Thomas. The visuals will draw in younger viewers while the rapid pace of the humor should keep adults entertained as well. The film also finds some clever ways to pay homage to Potter and the drawings of the original books.

The Blu-ray includes a three-minute short film called Flopsy Turvy, which focuses on the three sisters.

There’s also a seven-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and a dance-along “I Promise You” music video.

Movies Anywhere offers a two-minute digital featurette that celebrates the legacy of Beatrix Potter.

‘Peter Rabbit’ Hopping to Home Video

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release Peter Rabbit digitally April 20 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 1. The physical versions also include digital copies of the film.

The film, based on the stories by Beatrix Potter, sees Peter feuding with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) for the affections of the animal lover (Rose Byrne) who lives next door.

The voice cast includes James Corden as Peter, Margot Robbie as Flopsy, Elizabeth Debicki as Mopsy, and Daisy Ridley as Cotton-tail. Peter Rabbit has earned $112 million at the domestic box office

Exclusive to the Blu-ray and digital releases of Peter Rabbit will be the short Flopsy Turvy, a new adventure featuring Peter’s sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail, narrated by Robbie.

The DVD, Blu-ray and digital versions will include the behind-the-scenes featurette “Mischief in the Making” and a “Shake Your Cotton-tail” dance-along to the film’s theme song — “I Promise You” sung by Corden.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray includes the film presented in high dynamic range with Dolby Atmos sound.