Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Adventure;
$47.99 Blu-ray, $90.99 UHD BD, 5-disc set.
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Sean Connery, Julian Glover, Alison Doody, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Cate Blanchett.

 This latest collection of the “Indiana Jones” films contains some of the greatest action-adventure films ever made, and also Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Timed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Indy adventure, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, the set for the first time offers the four films of the franchise on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Raiders, as well as 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, have been remastered from the original negatives and are presented here in stunning 4K resolution, with upgraded color timing and sound mixing as well. The films, particular the earlier ones, have never looked this vibrant on home video before.

Raiders is undoubtedly on the short list for any discussion of the greatest action movies of all time. A throwback to classic adventure serials, the film was conceived of as an homage to classic pulp storytelling by creator George Lucas, who then brought on pal Steven Spielberg to direct.

The first follow up, Temple of Doom, was much more grim in tone, no doubt a subconscious manifestation of the personal troubles the lead filmmakers were dealing with at the time of its production.

Last Crusade follows more in the Raiders mold, bringing on Sean Connery as Indy’s father as a subtle nod to Spielberg’s desire to make a James Bond film. The film is perhaps a bit of an overcompensation for criticisms of how dark the second movie was, indulging more in humor than the previous movies.

Crystal Skull pays homage to classic sci-fi ‘B’ movies that tries to recapture the magic of the original trilogy 19 years later, but ends up feeling more like one of those reunion movies TV shows used to do, checking in on what the characters are up to years later.

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While the new remasters would be reason enough for fans to pick up this set (if they can find a copy — supplies were rather scarce its first few days of release), there are a few drawbacks to the set. The cardboard used in the packaging is rather flimsy and subject to crimping from overhandling, though it does come with a nice folded insert with a map of Indy’s adventures on one side and a collage of the four films’ theatrical posters on the other.

Also, the Ultra HD set contains only 4K discs for each of the films, no regular Blu-rays, though redemption codes for digital copies of each film are included. There is a separate Blu-ray collection available, but this appears to be little more than a re-issue of the 2012 Blu-ray collection, now with digital copies. The Blu-ray versions appear to be the same as from 2012, and not the remastered versions.

Each film’s 4K disc also includes a few trailers, but nothing else in the way of extras. As with 2012, the 4K set includes a bonus disc, which is a regular Blu-ray compiling a number of featurettes for each film. This is the exact same disc as the 2012 set, so the new collection really is basically just a 4K upgrade of the 2012 set with worse packaging. Given the number of extras from earlier DVD releases and the standalone Crystal Skull Blu-ray that weren’t included on that bonus disc, it’s a shame they were also weren’t included on this set.

However, with production on a fifth Indy film, there’s always a chance that a future five-film Indy set will be more of the true archive edition that fans would embrace.

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Blu-ray Disc, DVD Releases Spur Viewership of ‘Birds of Prey’, ‘Call of the Wild’, ‘Fantasy Island’

Home viewership for Warner Bros.’ Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, 20th Century Fox’s The Call of the Wild, and Sony Pictures’ Fantasy Island soared after the three films were released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on May 12.

Birds of Prey, a superhero sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad, shot to No. 1 on the “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended May 16, up from No. 8 the prior week.

The Call of the Wild, an adventure film starring Harrison Ford and based on the classic Jack London novel, soared to No. 4 from No. 13 on the chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

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And Fantasy Island, a Blumhouse Productions horror film starring Michael Peña and scream queen Lucy Hale, debuted at No. 6 in the wake of its May 12 release on disc.

Also new to the weekly chart is Universal Pictures’ The Invisible Man, which debuted at No. 14 after it became available for digital purchase through retailers such as Redbox on Demand, FandangoNow, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.

The film, about a woman stalked by her “invisible,” and supposedly dead, boyfriend, had initially been released to home audiences in mid-March, when movie theaters went dark due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, at a premium VOD price of $19.99. Consumers can now buy it for $14.99.

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Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot, a superhero film based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name, slipped to No. 2 on the “Watched at Home” chart from No. 1 the prior week.

Another Sony Pictures film, Bad Boys for Life, dropped a notch to No. 3 from No. 2, with Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog rounding out the top five after finishing at No. 3 the prior week.

  1. Birds of Prey (Warner)
  2. Bloodshot (Sony)
  3. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  4. The Call of the Wild (Fox, 2020)
  5. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  6. Fantasy Island (Sony)
  7. I Still Believe (Lionsgate)
  8. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  9. The Gentlemen (STX/Universal, 2019)
  10. 1917 (Universal)
  11. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
  12. Dolittle (Universal)
  13. Little Women (Sony, 2019)
  14. The Invisible Man (Universal, 2020)
  15. Knives Out (Lionsgate)
  16. Rick and Morty Season 4 (Warner)
  17. Gretel & Hansel (Warner)
  18. Underwater (Fox)
  19. Ford v Ferrari (Fox)
  20. Yellowstone Season 2 (Paramount)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended May 16

 

Fox Releasing ‘Call of the Wild’ on Disc May 12

The wilderness adventure film The Call of the Wild will arrive on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 12 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. It is available now for digital purchase.

Adapted from the novel by Jack London, the film tells the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog (created using CGI animation) whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Canadian Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team — and later its leader — Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master.

The film stars Harrison Ford, Omar Sy, Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford, Cara Gee, Michael Horse, Jean Louisa Kelly, Colin Woodell, Adam Fergus and Abraham Benrubi.

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The Blu-ray and digital editions will include the featurettes “Origins,” “The On-Set Experience,” “State of the Art” and “The World of the Wild.” The featurette “A Man and His Dog” is offered as a digital exclusive.

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‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Coming to Digital Aug. 13, Disc Aug. 27 From Universal

The family film The Secret Life of Pets 2 will debut on digital Aug. 13 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 27 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

From the studio Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, Sing), the animated sequel features the pets and their growing families in a new chapter that explores the deep bond between them and the humans that love them. Again, the film answers the question: What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home? Terrier Max (voice of Patton Oswalt) is coping with major life changes after Katie’s marriage and the arrival of a toddler, Liam. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment with a little help from her feline friend Chloe (Lake Bell), who has discovered the joys of catnip. And Snowball (Kevin Hart) believes, despite the other pets’ teasing, that he’s a superhero after his owner starts dressing him in superhero pajamas. But when Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), a fearless Shih Tzu, shows up to ask for Snowball’s help on a dangerous mission, he has to summon the courage to become the hero he’s been pretending to be.

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Other voice talent includes Eric Stonestreet, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford in his first ever role in an animated film as new farm dog, Rooster.

Bonus features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital include two mini-movies — Super Gidget, featuring the film’s Pomeranian Gidget and her best friend Max, and Minion Scouts, starring the Minions. Also included are deleted scenes, making-of featurettes and drawing tutorials. An interactive Captain Snowball motion comic allowing viewers to direct the bunny hero on his next move is exclusive to the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray versions.

‘Air Force One’ Coming on 4K UHD Nov. 6 From Sony

Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford at the President of the United States, debuts on 4K Ultra HD and on digital in 4K Nov. 6 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the 1997 film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, the president (Ford) fights to save his family and the hostages aboard Air Force One when communist radicals led by Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) hijack the plane.

Fully restored in 4K from the original camera negative, the 4K Ultra HD disc features high dynamic range with Dolby Atmos audio. Bonus features include audio commentary with Petersen.

Paramount Releasing ‘Jack Ryan Collection’ on 4K Blu-ray Aug. 21

Paramount Home Media Distribution is re-releasing the cinematic adventures of author Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst Jack Ryan with the new Jack Ryan Collection 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray boxed set Aug. 21.

The collection includes a UHD Blu-ray disc, a regular Blu-ray disc and a digital copy for each of the five films in the franchise: 1990’s The Hunt For Red October, with Alec Baldwin as Ryan; Harrison Ford in the role in 1992’s Patriot Games and 1994’s Clear and Present Danger; 2002’s The Sum of All Fears starring Ben Affleck; and 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine.

The new boxed set is timed for the Aug. 31 release of the new Amazon TV series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” starring John Krasinski as the character.

Mark Hamill Honored With Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

“Star Wars” icon Mark Hamill was honored with the 2,630th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a ceremony March 8 in front of the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles with special guests Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Billie Lourd, Kelly Marie Tran and R2-D2. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment releases Star Wars: The Last Jedi digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD and via Movies Anywhere March 13, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 27.

Blade Runner 2049

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 1/16/18;
Warner;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $91.95 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language.
Stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto.

What’s remarkable about director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is how seamlessly it returns us to the dystopian future established in the original 1982 film. Set 30 years later, 2049 manages to both tell an engaging story in its own right while providing deeper context and reframing the narrative of the first film — no easy feat considering the landmark cult status it has achieved.

Harrison Ford returns as Deckard, the police officer in the first film tasked with hunting down rogue replicants — specially engineered not-quite-humans designed for labor in off-world colonies. While the character doesn’t appear until well into the running time and his role is relatively limited, his presence does provide a nice sense of continuity. And the lingering question of the ages about whether Deckard himself was a replicant is dealt with here in a way that makes sense for the story this film is trying to tell.

Another source of stability between the two films is co-writer Hampton Fancher, who also co-wrote the original film and clearly had more to say about this world, which was originally adapted from Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The sequel follows a new cop, Ryan Gosling as K, a replicant Blade Runner tasked with hunting down his own kind. K stumbles upon a 30-year-old mystery that suggests replicants can reproduce biologically, a fact that would have enormous repercussions on society. His discovery triggers a race to find the child, between a police chief (Robin Wright) who wants to eliminate any hint of the replicants’ humanity for fear it may lead to a revolution, and the replicants’ billionaire breeder (Jared Leto), who sees natural biology as the key to growing a replicant population big enough to enable mankind to achieve its true potential.

At the heart of the story is the question of identity and individuality, and whether true personhood can be achieved artificially. Can K truly find meaning in his life, or is he only programmed to think that he can? Contrasting K’s flesh-and-blood interactions is a companion hologram named Joi (Ana de Armas), who always comes across as the perfect girlfriend with just the right words of encouragement to push K forward. Is her sentience real, thus providing some legitimacy for K’s affection for her? Or is she merely a function of very sophisticated algorithms? Does it even matter?

While the film is set in 2049, it is not necessarily a vision of the future based on how things are now, but more of an extrapolation of the vision of the future of the original film from 1982 (where newspapers were still a thing in 2019!), with maybe a few real-world influences from the intervening time period.

Every character has a role to play in this parable, and everything they do has some connection to the film’s larger themes, even if they seem superfluous at the time. Villeneuve with Arrival established that he is a master of visual landscapes, and the settings here really allow him to indulge those instincts, embellishing the style that Ridley Scott established 35 years ago.

If there’s a major drawback to the film, it’s that Villeneuve is quite deliberate in his pacing, and his long establishing shots of the bleak future world are a primary contributor to the 163-minute run time, about 45 minutes longer than its predecessor. But there is splendor in the visual effects, and fans of the original will no doubt appreciate how the follow-up takes the time to breathe. It is certainly a unique feature of the home video formats that viewers who don’t find themselves enthralled by longer films can chart their own course through it.

The Blu-ray includes three short films (originally released online in the lead-up to the new film) that serve as prequels to 2049, filling in parts of the 30-year gap in the timeline. For those who picked up the disc for their first viewing of 2049, I’d recommend a rewatch of the “Final Cut” of the original first, followed by these shorts in chronological order.

The 2022 short is an anime that delves into a massive blackout that will have a profound impact on the events of 2049. This picks up with the 2036 short, which features Leto’s character waxing about why he wants to create a new breed of replicant. Finally, the 2048 short features Dave Bautista as a replicant defending a family from thugs, and leads into the opening scene of 2049.

The rest of the bonus materials offer about 50 minutes of short featurettes about the making of the film and the advancement of the concepts introduced in the original movie.