Justice League: Warworld

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/25/23;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for some bloody violence.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Darren Criss, Stana Katic, Ike Amadi, Troy Baker, Matt Bomer, Roger R. Cross, Brett Dalton, John DiMaggio, Robin Atkin Downes, Frank Grillo, Rachel Kimsey, Damian O’Hare, Teddy Sears.

The latest DC animated movie strays a bit from the typical superhero formula but should please fans of the classic trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

The film begins with a bit of an Elseworlds vibe, thrusting audiences into a Wild West adventure with Wonder Woman as a mysterious stranger riding into town to take on the unscrupulous Jonah Hex (which at first blush raises the question of if the filmmakers were doing “Warworld” or “Westworld”). Then, we are presented with Batman transformed into a Conan the Barbarian-type of character in the middle of a power struggle in a swords-and-sorcery setting. From there, the story shifts to a black-and-white 1950s-style ‘B’ movie about an alien invasion, with Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Diana cast as government agents sent to stop it.

The movie seems more invested in these vignettes than whatever story might be suggested by the film’s title. In the comics, War World is an intergalactic gladiatorial arena, a concept that has become something of a cliché in superhero movies by now. The film reimagines War World to suit its needs, but it still takes about an hour before letting the audience in on what might be going on with regards to why these heroes are in the situation they’re in. At nearly 90 minutes, Warworld is still one of the longest standalone movies in the DC animated canon, and it puts that extended time to good use with an action-packed climactic battle. On the other hand, as fun as it is to see many of the characters put into the situations they are in, the film ultimately feels more like a mashup of various ideas the filmmakers were interested in seeing on screen that weren’t a good fit anywhere else, strung together with a plot developed just enough to justify its existence before setting up the next movie with an abrupt cliffhanger ending that literally flies in out of nowhere.

The Blu-ray includes two featurettes that run just under eight minutes each. “Illusions on Warworld” explores the alternate reality scenarios presented in the film, while “The Heroic, the Horrible and the Hideous” focuses on the characters involved.

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Redbox Entertainment Nabs Rights to ‘King of Killers’ From ‘Underworld’ Mastermind Kevin Grevioux

Redbox Entertainment and Red Sea Media Inc. (RSM) Feb. 16 announced they have signed worldwide rights for the action-adventure film King of Killers. The film was written by and will be directed by actor, screenwriter, and comic book writer Kevin Grevioux, who was behind the successful “Underworld” franchise for Sony Pictures.

Based on Grevioux’s graphic novel of the same name, King of Killers tells the story of a group of international assassins who are contracted to take out the most dangerous killer in the world. The film will be shot in Winnipeg, Canada later this month. Redbox Entertainment will release the film domestically later this year in theaters and, on the same day, through its Redbox On Demand digital video store as well as on disc at its Redbox kiosks.

King of Killers stars Frank Grillo, best known for his appearances in the “Captain America” and “Purge” films.  It will be produced by Shane Walker and Angel Gracia of Creative Tank, Michael Wright and Christopher Rush Harrington of Dovetail Media, Juliette Hagopian of JuliJette Inc., Channel 56 Films, and Todd Slater of Slater Brothers Entertainment. Redbox CEO Galen Smith and Marc Danon of Redbox Entertainment will serve as executive producers, along with Grant Slater of Slater Brothers Entertainment, Matthew Helderman, Luke Taylor and Tyler Gould from BondIt Media Capital and Roman Kopelevich and Roman Viaris of RSM.

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The deal was brokered by Roman Kopelevich, CEO of RSM, and Todd Slater, partner at Slater Brothers Entertainment on behalf of the producers, and by Danon for Redbox Entertainment. BondIt Media Capital is providing direct financing for the film.

Grillo is represented by Management 360, Creative Artists Agency, Paul Hastings and 42West. Grillo recently wrapped on the biopic Lamborghini, based on the life story of Ferruccio Lamborghini, founder of the iconic Italian sports car company.

Grevioux said: “I am thrilled that Redbox Entertainment and Red Sea Media are on board as our partners. Similarly to Underworld, I created the graphic novel to be a franchise in a series of action films. Now with our incredible cast, we have a property that audiences around the world will have a lot of fun experiencing.”

“After reading the script and seeing Kevin’s amazing track record with Underworld, we know this will be an action-packed film that will thrill audiences,” said Redbox’s Smith. “We’re looking forward to releasing King of Killers later this year.”

Action Thriller ‘Copshop’ Due on Digital Nov. 23, DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 7

The action thriller Copshop will be available for digital purchase Nov. 23, and on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 7 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, screaming through the Nevada desert in a bullet-ridden Crown Vic, wily con artist Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo, The Grey, The Purge: Anarchy) hatches a desperate plan to hide out from lethal hitman Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler, Greenland, Angel Has Fallen). He sucker-punches rookie officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder, The Tomorrow War, Harriet) to get himself arrested and locked up in a small-town police station.

But jail can’t protect Murretto for long. Viddick schemes his own way into detention, biding his time in a nearby cell until he can complete his mission. When the arrival of a competing assassin (Toby Huss, “Halt and Catch Fire,” Rescue Dawn) ignites all-out mayhem, mounting threats force Viddick to get creative if he wants to finish the job. 

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The Gateway

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Lionsgate;
Thriller;
19.98 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, pervasive language, drug use, some sexual content and nudity.
Stars Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Taryn Manning, Mark Boone Junior, Taegen Burns, Frank Grillo, Bruce Dern.

The crime drama The Gateway offers a strong cast and the seeds of tackling a relevant social issue, but ends up muddling its focus by swerving into the realm of the action thriller.

The always welcome Shea Whigham — the go-to character actor for gruff, hard-edged personalities — stars as Parker, a heavy-drinking, drug-addicted social worker trying to maintain his sanity at work while keeping an eye on kids whose parents have crossed the law one too many times.

He takes a special interest in Ashley (Taegen Burns), whose father is in prison and whose mother (Olivia Munn) works at a local casino trying to make ends meet, often neglecting to remember to take her daughter to school.

Soon enough, though, Daddy’s out on parole, beating up his baby momma and involved in a drug ring led by a crime boss played by Frank Grillo. Parker is resolved to protect Ashley no matter the cost, even as he’s ordered to leave the family alone.

The movie tries to shed some light on the grim realities of the foster care system, with Parker trying atone for his own troubled upbringing and shady past by trying to find a kid to do right by who isn’t a hopeless cause. But the drug gang subplot that ends up taking over the movie is mostly generic crime thriller stuff.

Still, Whigham makes for a compelling screen presence, and Munn turns in some good work as the put-upon mother whose loyalties are twisted by circumstance.

The Blu-ray contains the film’s trailer and a single four-minute featurette called “Living Legends: The Cast of The Gateway” in which the filmmakers and cast discuss making the film.

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The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/17/21;
Lionsgate;
Action Comedy;
Box Office $37.74 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content.
Stars
Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman.

The sequel to 2017’s The HItman’s Bodyguard, like its predecessor, is an affable actioner that coasts on irreverent humor and a solid cast that appears to be having fun with the proceedings.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard looks in on disgraced personal bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is having nightmares about Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), the notorious hitman from the first film he was tasked with protecting against agents of a European despot he was set to testify against.

As a result of those events, Bryce has been refused recertification by the bodyguard licensing agency, and is instructed by a therapist to take a long vacation to put thoughts of violence behind him. His sabbatical to a tropical beach is short-lived, however, when he is recruited by Darius’ wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek, who gets to expand her small role from the first movie) to help rescue her husband from an international cartel.

Extracting him embroils the trio in a larger plot involving a Greek shipping magnate and criminal mastermind (Antonio Banderas) who seeks revenge against the European Union for imposing economic sanctions on Greece.

As pressure on them mounts from the Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) overseeing the operation, Bryce turns to his stepfather (Morgan Freeman) for help, which only gets them into more trouble.

Another subplot involves Sonia and Darius trying to have a baby, but her loyalty is called into question when it turns out she and the tycoon used to be an item.

What the film lacks in subtlety it makes up for with inventive mayhem and bloody action juxtaposed by the odd couple relationship between the Kincaids, who seem to enjoy unleashing casual violence on their enemies, and Bryce, who insists on tackling the mission without killing anyone or even using a gun.

As with the first movie, the breezy attitude of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard makes it a fun diversion, but it’s unlikely to have much staying power after the credits roll.

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The Blu-ray includes a five-minute gag reel and several good bonus featurettes, including the nine-minute “Ryan, Sam, Salma: One F’d Up Family,” the seven-minute “Gone Soft: The New Michael Bryce,” the eight-minute “#stuntlife” and the four-minute “On the Set of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The 4K disc has the same extra content as the regular Blu-ray disc.

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Batman: The Long Halloween — Part Two

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/10/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some violence and bloody images.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke, Katee Sackhoff, Titus Welliver, David Dastmalchian, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, Julie Nathanson, Fred Tatasciore, Alastair Duncan.

The second half of The Long Halloween delivers a satisfying conclusion to the animated adaptation of the famed 1990s Batman comic book story.

In Part Two, Gotham’s mob bosses struggle to maintain control of their traditional criminal enterprises as Gotham City continues to be overrun by costumed supervillains in the wake of Batman’s rise as the city’s protector. Picking up from the post-credits scene of Part One, Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) has enthralled Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) into signing over his assets to mafia kingpin Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver), but the scheme is thwarted by Catwoman (Naya Rivera). Meanwhile, the serial killer known as Holiday continues to wage war on Gotham’s crime families, leading to rampant speculation over the murderer’s true identity.

When suspicion falls upon district attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel), a surprise attack leaves him physically scarred, transforming him into the villainous Two-Face, and sealing the fate of Gotham’s future once and for all.

Part Two is darker and bloodier than the first half, with graphic animated violence throughout.

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Neither of the Blu-rays for parts one or two includes a featurette about the source material, which is pretty common for the DC Universe animated movies, so perhaps one is being saved for the upcoming 4K Blu-ray that combines both halves into a single longer film, which is slated for next year.

The Part Two Blu-ray does include featurettes about several earlier DC movies, plus a 10-minute preview of the upcoming Injustice animated movie based on the video game about DC heroes fighting each other.

The Blu-ray also includes the excellent two-part “Two-Face” episode depicting the villains origin on “Batman: The Animated Series.”

Also included is the 15-minute DC Showcase animated short Blue Beetle, which is a hilarious homage to the style of superhero cartoons from the 1960s and ’70s, even down to the goofy theme song. The story involves Blue Beetle (Matt Lanter) investigating a villain who uses soda to brainwash people into becoming his henchmen.

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Bruce Willis Film ‘Cosmic Sin’ Coming to DVD May 18 From Paramount

The Bruce Willis starrer Cosmic Sin will come out on DVD May 18 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The film is already available in select theaters, on digital and on demand.

Willis and Frank Grillo star in the sci-fi adventure set in the year 2524, four hundred years after humans started colonizing the outer planets. Retired military general James Ford (Willis) is called back into service after soldiers on a remote planet are attacked by a hostile alien fleet. The threat against the human race escalates into an inevitable interstellar war. Gen. Ford teams up with Gen. Eron Ryle (Grillo) and a team of elite soldiers in a race to stop the imminent attack before it is too late.

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The film also stars Brandon Thomas Lee, Corey Large, Perrey Reeves, C.J. Perry, Lochlyn Munro and Costas Mandylor.

‘Hell on the Border’ Arriving on Home Video Feb. 11 From Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release the Western Hell on the Border on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and through digital retailers Feb. 11. It is currently available on demand.

Based on a true story, the film follows Bass Reeves (David Gyasi), aided by his trusted journeyman (Ron Perlman), on his quest to bring a deadly outlaw (Frank Grillo) to justice and become the first black U.S. Marshal in the Wild West.

Reeves is often cited as one of the real-life inspirations for the Lone Ranger. The legend of Reeves also plays a role in HBO’s recent “Watchmen” TV series.

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The Hell on the Border cast also includes Chris Mullinax, Jacqueline Fleming, Gianni Capaldi and Zach McClarnon.

The disc includes a commentary with writer-director Wes Miller and camera operator Ronald Bourdeau.

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Action Movie ‘Reprisal’ Arrives on Disc and Digital Oct. 16

Lionsgate will release the action film Reprisal on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally Oct. 16.

The film stars Frank Grillo as a bank manager who, after his co-worker is killed in a heist, teams with an ex-cop neighbor (Bruce Willis) to track down the thief and avenge the assault, all while trying to keep his family safe.

The Reprisal Blu-ray, DVD and digital release includes a making-of featurette and interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

The film is currently available on demand.