Gal Gadot Back Atop Netflix Most-Popular Streamed Content With ‘Heart of Stone’ Actioner

Gal Gadot made a triumphant return to the weekly Netflix Top 10. Two years after she starred in the streamer’s  Most Popular Film of all time, Red Notice, her new action-thriller Heart of Stone debuted at the top of the English-language movie chart with 33.1 million views worldwide and No. 1 among all content for the week ended Aug. 13.

The new documentary Untold: Johnny Football generated 7.7 million views to take No. 3 overall and on the English-language movie chart. The doc also tied with former chart topper Hidden Strike (7.7 million views in its third week of release). Maintaining their three-week runs on the chart were Miraculous: Ladybug & Cat Noir, The Movie at No. 5 with 5.6 million views, and Happiness for Beginners at No. 6 with 5 million views.

Jennifer Lopez’s action-thriller The Mother moved up to No. 7 on the most popular chart with 136.4 million views 91 days after its premiere.  

The new limited series “Painkiller,” starring Matthew Broderick and “Orange is the New Black’s” Uzo Aduba, generated 7.2 million views to top the English-language TV chart. The remainder of the chart included returnees such as “The Lincoln Lawyer” season two with 5.2 million views, while season one added 2.2 million views at the No. 8 spot. Elsewhere on the chart was “Gabby’s Dollhouse” season eight at No. 3 (4.1 million views), season two of “Heartstopper” at No. 4 (4 million views), “Fatal Seduction” at No. 5 (2.8 million views), season three of “The Witcher” at No. 6 (2.8 million views) and season three of “Sweet Magnolias” at No. 9 (1.9 million views).

The German dystopian-thriller Paradise remained atop the non-English-language movie chart for the third week in a row, with 7.6 million views. Returning to the chart were the Japanese black comedy Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead in second place with 6.2 million views, the Polish actioner Soulcatcher in third (4.8 million views), the Saudi-Arabian comedy Head to Head at No. 6 with 1.6 million views, and the Korean sports comedy Dream at No. 10 with 1.2 million views. New charters included the Japanese anime The Seven Deadly Sins: Grudge of Edinburgh Part 2 at No. 4 with 3.1 million views, the Nigerian drama Jagun Jagun at No. 5 (2.1 million views), and the Taiwanese action-comedy Marry My Dead Body at No. 7 (1.6 million views). 

Finally, the Spanish romantic comedy limited series “A Perfect Story” held onto the top spot on the non-English language TV chart with 4.7 million views. Korea added four titles to the chart, including the romantic comedy “King of the Land” at No. 2 with 3.2 million views; the horror-comedy unscripted “Zombieverse,” which made its debut at No. 5 (1.9 million views); season two of the fantasy “The Uncanny Counter 2,” which took No. 6 (1.7 million views); and season two of the drama “D.P.” at No. 10 (1.1 million views).

The Turkish drama “The Tailor” made two appearances on the chart for the second week in a row, with season two coming in at No. 4 (2.1 million views) and season one following in ninth place (1.2 million views). Japan took two spots with the anime series “My Happy Marriage” at No. 3  with 2.3 million views and “Baki Hanma” season two at No. 7 (1.5 million views). The Spanish true-crime limited series “The Last Hours of Mario Biondo” finished at No. 8 with 1.5 million views.

Netflix Showcases 120 Programs in Second ‘Tudum’ Global Marketing Event

Netflix’s second big “Tudum” global marketing event showcased more than 120 new and returning original programming, including series and movies.

Tudum: A Netflix Global Fan Event 2022 was held Sept. 23-25. Co-hosts Jamie Foxx and Millie Bobby Brown walked U.S. and European viewers through numerous trailers, news, never-before-seen footage, and first looks, as well as interviews with the stars and creators.

Brown ended the show by throwing to her “Stranger Things” castmates Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Priah Ferguson, Gaten Matarazzo, Joe Keery, Joseph Quinn and David Harbour for a round of trivia questions and season four bloopers.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan and Alia Bhatt introduced a behind-the-scenes look at Heart of Stone, with star and producer Gadot telling fans, “Rachel Stone lives off the adrenaline, she’s addicted to it.”

Luke Newton (“Colin Bridgerton”) and Claudia Jessie (“Eloise Bridgerton”) answered questions about their “Bridgerton” characters, with a surprise visit from Nicola Coughlan (“Penelope Featherington”) with the script for season three’s first episode, “Out of the Shadows.”

Adjoa Andoh (“Lady Danbury”) and Golda Rosheuvel (“Queen Charlotte”) introduced India Amarteifio as “Young Queen Charlotte” and revealed a never-before-seen still of her in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. Producer and writer Shonda Rhimes presented a clip from Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story featuring Amarteifio and Corey Mylchreest as “Young King George” in their first encounter.

Patrick Gibson (“Nikolai Lantsov”), Jack Wolfe (“Wylan Hendricks”), Anna Leong Brophy (“Tamar Kir-Bataar”), Lewis Tan (“Tolya Yul-Bataar”) along with Ben Barnes (“General Kirigan/The Darkling”) and Jessie Mei Li (“Alina Starkov”) presented a look at “Shadow and Bone” season two.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan from “Never Have I Ever” found the “Emily in Paris” cast in Paris — Lily Collins (“Emily”), Ashley Park (“Mindy”), Camille Razat (“Camille”), Lucas Bravo (“Gabriel”) Lucien Laviscount (“Alfie”) Bruno Gouery (“Luc”) Samuel Arnold (“Julien”) and Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu (“Sylvie”) ready for all of Emily’s adventures in season three. 

Jenna Ortega (“Wednesday Addams”) debuted a scene from the upcoming “Wednesday.”

Melissa Roxburgh (“Michaela Stone”) and Josh Dallas (“Ben Stone”) gave the all-clear for “Manifest’s” final descent for season four on its new home at Netflix.

Jason Momoa’s (“Flip”) skated through everyone’s sleep in a sassy Slumberland clip. 

“The Umbrella Academy” stars Aidan Gallagher (“Five”), Emmy Raver-Lampman (“Allison”), David Castañeda (“Diego”), Justin H. Min (“Ben”), Tom Hopper (“Luther”) and Genesis Rodriguez (“Sloane”) gave a glimpse of their backstage fun with a new blooper reel.

Guillermo del Toro gave a behind-the-scenes tour of his stop-motion production Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.

LeBron James introduced a new Olympic basketball documentary, The Redeem Team, featuring Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.

Jennifer Lopez is ready for action as The Mother launches in spring 2023 in this new teaser. 

“You” introduced new characters with its new location in England as Penn Badgley led fans through the changes that await Joe in season four in a brief vignette. 

Chris Hemsworth (“Tyler Rake”) presented a behind-the-scenes look at landing a helicopter on a train during the production of Extraction 2 with director Sam Hargrave.  

Emily Beecham, Aneurin Barnard, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Miguel Bernardeau, Andreas Pietschmann, Maciej Musial and more announced the premiere date for the chilling new series “1899.”

Omar Sy is back in a teaser for Lupin Part 3.

And of course, “Squid Game” cast members Oh Young-soo (“Oh Il-nam”), Lee Jung-jae (“Seong Gi-hun”), Park Hae-soo (“Cho Sang-woo”), Anupam Tripathi (“Abdul Ali”) and writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk presented an unreleased clip from season one as a teaser for the future season two of Netflix’s most-watched content ever. 

Foxx introduced the latest in Netflix mobile games, including a new edition of the worldwide sensation OXENFREE: Netflix Edition, now available in over 30 languages — without ads or in-app purchases. Also coming soon, Desta: The Memories Between, SpongeBob Squarepants Get Cooking!, Compass Point: West, Stranger Things: Puzzle Games, Nailed It Baking Bash, Narcos: Cartel Wars Unlimited, Kentucky Route Zero and Triviaverse

James Marsden (“Steve Woods/Ben Woods”) shared a sneak peek of the final season of “Dead to Me.”

Director Rian Johnson presented the new teaser for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Finally, Kerry Washington (“Professor Dovey”) and Charlize Theron (“Lady Lesso”) welcomed new students Sophia Anne Caruso (“Sophie”) and Sofia Wylie (“Agatha”) to their school in this extended clip from The School for Good and Evil.

Samba TV: Hollywood ‘A’-Listers, Action Storylines Drive Streaming Viewership

Netflix’s actioner The Gray Man marks the streamer’s latest original movie to dominate viewing on the platform after its debut, and marks a trend among streaming  platforms signing big-name Hollywood stars for original movies.

New data from Samba TV found that 3.5 million U.S. households, 684,000 British homes, 210,000 German homes, and 37,000 Australian households streamed The Gray Man — starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans — during the Live+3D window since its July 22 release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Netflix’s recent original movie successes featuring well-known Hollywood stars include Extraction (2020), with Chris Hemsworth, and Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds in 2021’s Red Notice. Sandra Bullock has two movies on the streamer’s all-time top 10 list: The Unforgivable (2021) and Bird Box (2018), while Kurt Russell and partner Goldie Hawn had success with the “Christmas Chronicles” franchise.

“Hollywood household names plus big action-oriented features are proving to be a winning strategy not just for the big screen in the theater but also the biggest screen in the home,” Cole Strain, VP of measurement products at Samba TV, said in a statement.

Strain said Gray Man marked Netflix’s top-performing movie premiere of the 2022 summer — a prerequisite if the platform hopes to recoup its $200 million investment.

“Netflix has a battle between the Ryans on its hands for the year’s number one premiere weekend, with Ryan Reynolds’ The Adam Project besting The Gray Man by less than 5,000 households,” Strain said.

Reelgood: ‘Death on the Nile’ Top-Streamed Content of the Week Through April 6

First-week access of 20th Century Studios’ Death on the Nile on HBO Max and Hulu in the U.S., and on Disney+ in the U.K., helped the Agatha Christie-based movie rank No. 1 among all content streamed for the week ended April 6, according to new data from Reelgood, which uses first-party data from five million users in the U.S.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh with an ensemble cast led by Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile topped Disney+ series “Moon Knight” and Apple TV+ original movie and Oscar winner CODA.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Top 10 shows and movies of the week:

1. Death on the Nile (HBO Max/Hulu)
2. “Moon Knight” (Disney+)
3. CODA (Apple TV+)
4. “Halo” (Paramount+)
5. “Severance” (Apple TV+)
6. “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
7. The Adam Project (Netflix)
8. The Bubble (Netflix)
9. “Slow Horses” (Apple TV+)
10. “Julia” (HBO Max)

Death on the Nile (2022)

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/5/22;
20th Century;
Mystery;
Box Office $45.43 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, some bloody images, and sexual material.
Stars Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright.

The end of the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express featured famed fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) summoned to Egypt to handle another murder case, seemingly teasing Christie’s Death on the Nile as a potential sequel.

Well, Branagh does return as Poirot and as director for Death on the Nile, but it ends up not following up on that tease. Instead, it’s three years later, 1937 (the year Christie released Nile, incidentally), and Poirot is mentioned as having solved that case in Egypt, which ends up being unrelated to the new storyline.

After beginning with a flashback to World War I that depicts an origin story for Poirot’s famous mustache, the film finds the detective returning to Egypt for a bit of a vacation, where he ends up as a guest to the wedding party of Linnet and Simon (Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer). The couple have invited some friends on a swanky cruise down the Nile, and enlist the aid of Poirot in keeping an eye on Jackie (Emma Mackey), Simon’s former fiancée who has taken to stalking the couple out of jealous rage for being spurned for the wealthier Linnet.

When a string of murders do take place onboard the ship, Poirot is hard-pressed to stop them, though he is keen on solving them, which does beg the question of why the killers insist on continuing with their plans even knowing that a world-class sleuth is accompanying them and he always solves the case. Maybe they’re just masochistic for the challenge of stumping him.

Anyway, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green have tweaked the source material a bit to give the story a more modern feel despite its period setting, swapping the race and gender of a few characters, such as making the romance novelist character from the book into a touring jazz singer and budding love interest for Poirot.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Beautifully shot and visually exquisite on HD and Ultra HD displays, Branagh imbues the film with an impeccable sense of style, staying true to the spirit of the original novel while peaking behind the mustache at what makes Poirot tick.

The Blu-ray includes nearly 40 minutes of behind-the scenes featurettes that offer some good insights into the making of the film. The 15-and-a-half-minute “Death on the Nile: Novel to Film” examines the collaboration between the filmmakers and Christie’s estate to bring the latest adaptation of her book to life, while the six-minute “Agatha Christie: Travel Can Be Murder” takes a look at some of Christie’s inspirations for setting the book in Egypt. “Design on the Nile” is an 11-minute featurette about the creation of the costumes and sets for the film, highlighted by a tour of the river yacht at the center of the story. The five-and-a-half-minute “Branagh/Poirot” focuses on Branagh’s talents as a director while also starring in the film.

Rounding out the extras are eight deleted scenes that are pretty interesting and run about 10 minutes in total.

‘Red Notice’ Is Netflix’s Top-Streamed Movie Ever

The Netflix movie Red Notice has become the streamer’s most-viewed original movie in its history with nearly 278 million hours across its global subscriber footprint. That tops Netflix’s previous record holder Bird Box, the 2018 dystopian drama starring Sandra Bullock.

Red Notice, which stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, had received middling reviews (35%) on social media platform Rotten Tomatoes. But that didn’t stop subs from streaming 129.1 million hours during the first seven days since the film’s Nov. 12 debut.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“In just 11 days you’ve officially made RED NOTICE the BIGGEST @Netflix FILM EVER. Shattering all records across the board!!!” Johnson posted on his social media blog.

Red Notice

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Action;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and action, some sexual references, and strong language.
Stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya, Chris Diamantopoulos.

Netflix’s Red Notice is a glitzy heist movie that mixes action and comedy well enough, but mostly coasts on the charisma of its stars.

Ryan Reynolds plays Booth, who wants to earn the reputation as the world’s greatest thief. Gal Gadot is his rival, The Bishop. Dwayne Johnson plays FBI agent Hartley, who is on the hunt for them and tracks Booth to a scheme to steal a bejeweled egg from thousands of years ago.

The egg is one of a set of three presented to Cleopatra by Mark Antony. An Egyptian billionaire has offered $300 million to anyone who can deliver all three, but only two have been uncovered in modern times; the whereabouts of the third remain a mystery.

Hartley manages to capture Booth and recover the egg, but is himself framed when it is stolen again and sent to prison. Hoping to clear his name, Hartley decides to recover the remaining eggs by teaming with Booth, who may have the only clue as to the location of the missing third one.

But, alas, The Bishop is also after the eggs, and always appears to be one step ahead of them.

The team of Booth and Hartley plays like a buddy comedy mixed with Ocean’s Eleven and the treasure hunting sensibilities of Indiana Jones. The film isn’t exactly trying to hide its inspirations, either. Reynolds even whistles the Indiana Jones theme at one point as the trail leads the plot into an expedition deep in the South American jungle.

The film intermingles plot twists with over-the-top action to create an entertaining if overblown spectacle, though its clear the cast had a lot of fun making it.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for violence and some language.

Stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, Diane Lane, Harry Lennix, Billy Crudup, Willem Dafoe, Joe Morton, Kiersey Clemons, Jared Leto, Jesse Eisenberg, Joe Manganiello, Peter Guinness, Ray Porter, Ciaran Hinds.

The 2017 theatrical version of Justice League foisted upon audiences was undoubtedly a compromised film, the result of a now infamous clash between creative vision and studio sensibilities.

Warner Bros., having been lapped in the superhero shared universe race several times over by rival Marvel, was looking to catch up quickly with its own DC Comics-based franchise. But the studio lost faith in director Zack Snyder, whose efforts in building the universe from the ground up — 2013’s Man of Steel and 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — were met with mixed reaction at best. The studio brought in Avengers director Joss Whedon to help “guide” Snyder in completing the third installment of his trilogy, Justice League, which would see Batman and Wonder Woman recruit additional superheroes to help fight an alien invasion.

Snyder, wary of the studio’s attempts to rein him in, ultimately left the film following the death of his daughter — to whom the new longer cut is dedicated.

Whedon, under a mandate to deliver a taut, two-hour action film, re-wrote Chris Terrio’s screenplay and oversaw extensive reshoots that it is clear now were intended to bridge story points between the action scenes that Snyder had shot. Whedon, known for infusing his projects with witty banter and offbeat humor, also added levity to Justice League to the point where it was much lighter in tone compared with the world established in Snyder’s earlier films. Whedon’s version ultimately did the job of telling the story it needed to, but didn’t satisfy many viewers who had bigger expectations based on what had come before.

And thus, the “Release the Snyder Cut” movement was born, fueled by rumors that the studio was sitting on a longer version of the film turned in by Snyder before he left. While Snyder had created a rough cut of the film before most of the visual effects were completed, the so-called “Snyder Cut” of Justice League was hardly in a state to be seen by the public, and thus its release was little more than a pipe dream without a studio willing to dedicate the resources to finish an alternate cut of a film it had already wrote off.

Then came the deep pockets of HBO Max, the new streaming service from Warner’s parent company, which had not only the deep pockets to finish the Snyder Cut, but also the desire to cash in on the hype surrounding it. The cost to complete Snyder’s version was reportedly north of $70 million (the 2017 theatrical release earned $657.9 million globally against a budget that ballooned to $300 million).

The obvious parallel here is with the Richard Donner cut of Superman II, but the Snyder Cut make that project seem like a lark.

Snyder’s four-hour director’s cut of Justice League plays like a completely different film, treating the story like the epic the theatrical version showed little interest in being.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Now, admittedly, it’s unlikely that this version of the film, absent studio meddling, would have seen the inside of theaters back in the day either. For starters, a four-hour superhero movie based on Snyder’s take on the characters would have been a big ask of the audience, and he surely would have trimmed it to something in the range of two-and-a-half to three hours, just like he did with BvS (with the longer, better cut available on home video). Certainly, there are several scenes in Snyder’s Justice League that will give it a reputation for indulgence but could easily be cut for a theatrical release, but play better in a streaming format where binging serialized TV shows for six, seven, eight hours at a time (with breaks here and there) is commonplace.

Indeed, the original plan for Snyder’s Justice League was to present it as several episodes, like a TV show, but vagaries in Hollywood contract law supposedly led to the decision to deliver it as a single movie, albeit segmented into six succinctly labeled chapters and an epilogue.

Regardless, the film flows just fine even at four hours, and there is no confusion about what is happening or why the characters are motivated to do what they do. Snyder’s vision is to present the superheroes of today as the modern extension of the legends of old, drawing a direct line between classic mythology and their comic book counterparts.

The big beneficiary of all this is Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, who is given a fully fleshed out backstory that is barely touched upon in the theatrical cut, as well as a full character arc as he learns to accept and understand his powers.

Of course, if Warner had been patient enough to follow Marvel’s formula, Cyborg likely would have gotten his own origin movie before this, negating the need to devote so much screen time to it here. But that’s neither here nor there at this point.

The Snyder Cut is revelatory when compared with the Whedon Cut, which replaced a number of scenes with reshot versions that were similar but not as good, probably to add more of that Whedonesque humor. Fantastic scenes of endearing character interactions that would have added depth and meaning were removed entirely. Instead, Whedon added scenes showing a family imperiled by Steppenwolf’s plan who had to be saved by the League in the final battle. There’s no distracting family in the Snyder Cut, which instead takes the opportunity to foreshadow storylines that were intended for future sequels.

Another change Snyder made was reverting to the musical score by Tom Holkenborg, who continues the musical style established in Snyder’s previous entries. Whedon had replaced it with a more conventional but still serviceable score by Danny Elfman, who reused a number of more iconic themes for the characters from earlier franchises that played on audience nostalgia for the characters as a way to shortcut any development of them as specific to the Snyderverse.

Also, since he’s using his original footage and ignoring the reshoots, Snyder didn’t have to use digital effects to remove the mustache Henry Cavill couldn’t shave off while filming Mission: Impossible — Fallout, famously leading to his awkward-looking mouth in the 2017 version.

Another advantage Snyder’s cut has is that we’ve gotten to explore the DC universe a bit more since 2017, most notably with the 2018 Aquaman movie that really fleshed out Jason Momoa’s character and backstory, and gels nicely with his development here.

Snyder also took the opportunity to fix his presentation of the films’ villains. The CGI for the primary antagonist, Steppenwolf, has been reworked to be much more menacing and looks a lot better. Snyder also gives the audience a chance to see Darkseid, the legendary DC comics warlord who serves as Steppenwolf’s master and was reduced to just one mention of his name in Whedon’s cut.

Steppenwolf’s plan, as in the theatrical cut, is to collect the three “Mother Boxes” on Earth that when united will allow him to re-create Darkseid’s homeworld of Apokolips on Earth. The Mother Boxes were left behind when Darkseid’s first invasion of Earth was repelled thousands of years earlier, and thought lost until Superman’s death at the end of BvS caused them to reactivate, drawing Steppenwolf to them.

We also get an expansion of the nightmare future hinted at in BvS, in which Batman leads a rebellion against a Superman who has become a tyrant ruling over the wasteland Earth has become as a result of Darkseid’s invasion. This particularly impacts the scene of Superman’s resurrection, which plays very differently now that we have the expanded context behind it. Rather than Superman’s revival serving as another plot device in the battle against Steppenwolf, here it is re-framed as a complex ethical question about whether bringing Superman back to life in order to win the battle of today will ultimately lead to the very dystopia his resurrection is meant to prevent — and whether Batman’s desire to atone for his guilt over Superman’s death in BvS is blinding him to this potential outcome.

Follow us on Instagram!

Snyder presents his version in the 4:3 format most viewers will associate with the standard square ratio of classic non-widescreen TVs. That means vertical black bars to the right and left of the movie. While this might look odd to viewers accustomed to widescreen, Snyder’s framing actually presents more of the image as originally filmed. The square frame was chosen with Imax exhibitions in mind, since true Imax screens are higher than a typical theater. A standard “widescreen” print of the film is then made by cropping from the top and bottom of the picture. By eschewing this process, Snyder is instead offering us everything in the frame he shot.

Time will tell if we get any follow-ups to plot points developed in Snyder’s Cut that otherwise fell by the wayside in Warner’s DC universe. But even if we don’t the complete Snyder Cut on its own is a triumph of a filmmaker’s singular vision, and the story surrounding it a fascinating glimpse into the process of the Hollywood machine and the often-conflicting instincts of those in charge of it.

The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc versions offer the film spread over two discs. The first disc of both the 4K and regular Blu-ray versions contains the set’s lone extra: a 24-minute featurette of Snyder reflecting on his experience making his trilogy of superhero movies, and the fan effort to bring it to fruition with his vision of Justice League.

Also, the discs do not include a code for a digital copy of the film, so the digital version remains exclusive to HBO Max. The disc does include an insert with an ad touting HBO Max and the black-and-white version of the movie, Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice Is Gray.

Originally published as a streaming review March 18, 2021.

Wonder Woman 1984

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $46.1 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
$35.99 3D BD Warner Archive;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal.

The 2017 Wonder Woman movie is pretty commonly regarded as the best of the otherwise mediocre DC Comics shared movie universe. The sequel might have some fans wondering if the first one was a fluke.

Probably not. But while Wonder Woman 1984 unmistakably shares the DNA of the original, it certainly isn’t a retread.

Taking place in a stereotypical movie version of 1984, 65 years after the World War I setting of the first one, the film finds the ageless Diana (Gal Gadot) now working in the antiquities wing of the Smithsonian while going out as Wonder Woman on a lark to stop local crimes. One, a jewelry heist, uncovers a black market smuggling ring that brings Diana into contact with an ancient stone inscribed with the power to grant wishes by an ancient trickster god of lies (one who isn’t Loki, since he plays for the other team).

Diana’s wish is for the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and sure enough he pops up in a way that raises some questions the movie isn’t interested in answering.

However, the stone attracts the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con man selling shares in a phony oil company. He wants the power to wish himself into greatness, but as we are told in a flashback prologue set during Diana’s time as a young girl participating in the Amazonian sports of Themiscyra, “greatness is not what you think.”

Diana’s attempts to stop him put her at odds with a co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a wallflower whose wish to be more like Diana inadvertently imbues her with superpowers she’s now unwilling to give up on her path to becoming the supervillain Cheetah. However, tying such a seminal Wonder Woman villain’s origins to this story almost seems like a waste.

On the flip side, Diana discovers the price of her wish is the gradual decline of her own abilities, and as the wishing power spreads, plunging the world into chaos, she is forced to make the difficult decision most movie superheroes have to make at some point: love or duty.

Follow us on Instagram!

The film is visually dazzling and offers some moments that will make any superhero movie fan smile, and Wonder Woman fans in particular. For example, the film finds a neat way to work in the invisible jet that isn’t just a transparent plastic model with a doll in it.

But the film runs a bit long at two-and-a-half hours, and the over-reliance on wishes as the central plot device gets rather tedious after a while.

Even in a universe where magic is already established — Diana is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, after all — the presentation of the wishes being granted just seems a step beyond the plausible since the movie only pays the slightest lip-service to how they are supposed to work. In a screenplay underlined by progressive misunderstandings of Reagan-era politics, the wishes serve whatever basic story points the writers require, and stand up to little scrutiny beyond that.

Which is all a means of saying the individual elements of the story as assembled don’t quite result in a completely satisfying whole. The two-villain team up is practically a superhero sequel tradition at this point, even when their pairing doesn’t seem to make sense. Tonally this type of plot wouldn’t seem too out of place in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show (which, fittingly, is teased in the Blu-ray bonus materials).

The 1980s setting would seem to suggest the story is intended as a screed against the kind of selfishness and greed that are often attributed to the ’80s but are pretty universally present in any time period. But, really, the film’s message of honest work over shortcuts to achievement, and not expecting everything you want to just be handed to you, is an easy one to embrace.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Since we’ve seen present-day Diana in Batman v Superman and Justice League, a sequel set before those films could have been a story about what brought her back to dabble in superheroism before retreating from humanity’s problems again before BvS. As it stands, WW84 doesn’t necessarily knock against the established DC movie timeline per se, but the two “Wonder Woman” movies definitely stand on their own apart from the greater franchise.

It’s especially hard to reconcile the plot of WW84 with the 2017 Justice League team-up movie, particularly the theatrical cut. It fits in a bit more with Zack Snyder’s Justice League director’s cut, but not by much. (One can only imagine what a teenage Bruce Wayne would have wished for.)

While some of its logical issues are hard to ignore, Wonder Woman 1984 does play better on multiple viewings, mostly because it’s easy enough with Blu-ray and digital copies to just go to the few good scenes. And really, whatever problems the movie has are almost an afterthought to the pure joy of a mid-credits cameo that should serve as the basis of a third film.

Wonder Woman 1984 played in theaters and streamed on HBO Max through Jan. 24, after which it was available exclusively in theaters until hitting PVOD a month before its traditional home video run.

The Blu-ray edition of Warner’s latest “Wonder Woman” adventure includes more than 90 minutes of bonus materials, consisting of a number of detailed behind-the-scenes featurettes and a few fun extras for the fans.

The best is the aforementioned 1970s tie-in, presenting footage from WW84 in the style of the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV series, complete with the original theme song and animated transitions — and it’s also the first time we get to see Gadot do the classic “Wonder Woman spin.”

Among the other amusing extras are a six-and-a-half-minute gag reel and the raw minute-and-a-half footage from Max Lord’s in-movie “Black Gold” infomercial.

A couple more focus on the teaming of Gadot and Wiig: There’s a five-minute video about them starring together, which leads to a minute-long clip of the pair goofing around on set in the form of a “Saturday Night Live”-style video sketch (no doubt Wiig’s comedy background contributed to this one).

The primary making-of documentary runs 36 minutes and gives a good overview of the production. Tying into this are two “Scene Study” featurettes: a five-minute video focused on the opening mall rescue scene and six-minutes exploring the Middle East truck chase. The most notable aspect to these videos is how dedicated the crew was to re-creating the 1980s — building out several levels of a vintage mall with fully stocked stores, and using old-school practical stunt-work with a minimal reliance on CGI.

The rest of the footage deals with the making of the scenes at the amazonian island. There’s a 21-minute “Meet the Amazons” virtual panel from DC Fandome featuring discussions with director Patty Jenkins and a number of the women and stunt performers who played Amazonian warriors participating in the elaborate games sequences that open the film. Rounding out the presentation is an 11-minute profile of actress Lilly Aspell, who reprises her role as the pre-teen Diana from the 2017 film. The featurette includes some cute audition footage of the enthusiastic Aspell from 2015, showing off how well she makes for a younger version of Gadot.

Originally published as a streaming review Dec. 28, 2020.

‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ ‘Promising Young Woman’ Top Slate of New Digital, Disc Releases Available March 16

Wonder Woman 1984, Promising Young Woman, Songbird and Don’t Tell a Soul top the slate of new releases available for home viewing March 16.

Wonder Woman 1984, which was supposed to be one of last summer’s big theatrical tentpoles, instead became the poster child for the multi-platform release strategy triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The superhero film, starring Gal Gadot, was famously released to theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service on Christmas Day, followed by a  48-hour premium VOD rental window last month.

Now, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing the film through normal digital retail channels on March 16, two weeks ahead of its debut on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Promising Young Woman becomes available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and on demand March 16, after an initial release for digital purchase. The Universal Pictures film, nominated for four Golden Globe Awards and five Oscars, stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, whose promising future was derailed by a mysterious event. Wickedly smart and tantalizingly cunning, she’s now living a secret double life by night — and is eager to avenge the wrongs of the past.

Also making its Blu-ray Disc and DVD debut on March 16 is another Universal Pictures film, Songbird, a sci-fi thriller directed by Adam Mason (Into the Dark) and starring K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser and Demi Moore.

In the film, a devastating pandemic ravages the world and the United States is in its fourth year of lockdown. Infected Americans are ripped from their homes and forced into quarantine camps known as Q-Zones from which there is no escape, as a few brave souls fight back against the forces of oppression. Amid this dystopian landscape, a fearless courier, Nico (Apa), who’s immune to the deadly pathogen, finds hope and love with Sara (Carson), though her lockdown prohibits them from physical contact. When Sara is believed to have become infected, Nico races desperately across the barren streets of Los Angeles in search of the only thing that can save her from imprisonment or worse.

Don’t Tell a Soul, from Lionsgate, arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 16. Already available on demand and through digital retailers, the dramatic thriller stars Rainn Wilson, Fionn Whitehead, Jack Dylan and Mena Suvari. While stealing money to help their sick mother (Suvari), teen brothers Matt and Joey (Whitehead and Grazer) are surprised by Hamby (Wilson), a security officer who gives chase and is then trapped in a well. Over the next few days, Joey and Hamby forge an uneasy relationship. Hamby tells Joey he’ll keep quiet if Joey sets him free. But Hamby holds another secret, one that will threaten Joey and his family in this twist-filled, cat-and-mouse thriller.

Other new March releases of note include the werewolf horror film I Am Lisa, from Mill Creek, available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and VOD; Shout! Factory Steelbook Blu-ray editions of Japanese anime classics Whisper of the Heart (1995) and The Cat Returns (2002); and Warner Archive Blu-ray Discs of Damn Yankees; Driving Miss Daisy; What’s Up, Doc; and Crossfire.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.