F9: The Fast Saga

Universal;
Action;
Box Office $173.01 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of violence and action, and language.
Stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Michael Rooker, Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron.

By continuing the trend of its predecessors, the latest entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise is a contender for one of the most absurd movies of all time. In addition to the franchise’s repeated assaults on the laws of physics, F9 adds long-lost family members and yet another character’s return from the dead.

Marking the 20th anniversary of The Fast and the Furious, F9 is the 10th film in the franchise, but the ninth in the main storyline, with 2019’s Hobbs & Shaw being a spinoff. It also features the return to the director’s chair of Justin Lin, who previously directed the third through sixth entries. Lin had previously directed the 2002 crime drama Better Luck Tomorrow, which could be considered the unofficial 11th film in the franchise as it introduced the character of Han (Sung Kang), who went on to appear in all of Lin’s “FF” movies and makes his return here, bringing the franchise’s main arc full circle as it prepares for its finale.

The story finds Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) living in seclusion with his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and son, but he’s called back into action when it turns out his brother, Jakob (John Cena) is the leader of a clandestine group trying to steal a device that can hack into every computer on the planet. So the usual “FF” gang reunites for another round of car chases, explosions and quips from Tyrese.

The screenplay injects some pathos into the mix by exploring the sibling relationship between Dom and Jakob, in the form of flashbacks to when they were teenagers and their father was killed in a race, for which Dom blames Jakob. The flashbacks account for the “saga” aspect of the title as the film tries to connect nearly every character and plot thread from all the earlier films.

Once upon a time, these were movies about thieves in a street racing gang before it became about international missions to save the world. Now the characters are basically acknowledging they’re in a movie, joking about how they always survive against impossible odds, and pointing out the structure of the plot as a reason to switch sides for a third-act swerve.

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The film’s home video editions include a director’s cut that runs about six minutes more and improves the movie with important character moments, as well as another scene in Cardi B’s cameo.

Lin provides a good commentary track in which he discusses his return to the franchise, his desire to provide some weight to whatever drama exists in the franchise’s margins, and hints at future revelations.

The Blu-ray also includes a three-and-a-half-minute gag reel and more than 70 minutes of comprehensive behind-the-scenes featurettes.

There’s also a three-and-a-half minute featurette on the “Justice for Han” movement that influenced the film, and the fun four-and-a-half-minute “John Cena: Supercar Superfan,” in which the wrestler-turned-actor shows off several high-performance cars, including some used in the film.

The 4K disc contains the same bonus content as the regular Blu-ray.

 

 

‘F9: The Fast Saga’ Racing to Digital Sept. 7, Disc Sept. 21

F9: The Fast Saga, the latest installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, will come out with a new director’s cut on digital Sept. 7 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 21 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film has generated more than $600 million worldwide.

The release features the original theatrical version, the director’s cut and more than an hour of exclusive bonus content, including a behind-the-scenes look at the stunts and cars and a gag reel.

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In the film, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) thought he’d left his outlaw life in the rear-view mirror, but not even he can outrun the past. When his forsaken brother Jakob (John Cena, Bumblebee) unexpectedly resurfaces as an elite assassin, the crew comes back together to help Dom confront the sins of his own past and stop a world-shattering plot.

Franchise veteran Justin Lin, who helmed the third, fourth, fifth and sixth installments of the series, returns to the director’s seat for F9.

F9 also stars returning franchise cast members Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster and Sung Kang, with Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron.

Warner Releasing ‘The Good Liar’ Digitally Jan. 21, on Disc Feb. 4

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the thriller The Good Liar through digital retailers Jan. 21, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 4.

Directed by Bill Condon, the film features acclaimed actors Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen on screen together for the first time.

McKellen plays a con man who sets his sights on a recently widowed woman (Mirren) worth millions of dollars.

The cast also includes Russell Tovey and Jim Carter.

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The film earned $16.8 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray and DVD will include more than 12 minutes of deleted scenes. The Blu-ray will also include the featurette “A Perfect Match: Inside The Good Liar.”

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WarnerMedia, Comcast’s Sky Extend Content Distribution Deal

HBO Max may be the future, but distribution across existing and competing platforms overseas is just as important.

WarnerMedia has extended a distribution agreement with Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky in Europe.

First established in 2010, the new agreement includes distribution through HBO of Warner Bros. movies, Cartoon Network and Boomerang episodic programming.

Content has included “Watchmen,” “Succession” and “Big Little Lies,” in addition to Sky originals such as “Patrick Melrose,” “Babylon Berlin” and “Gomorrah.”

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“Our partnership with HBO, and now Warner Media, has never been stronger as Sky continues to thrive as Europe’s leading direct-to-consumer media and entertainment business,” Gary Davey, CEO of Sky Studios, said in a statement. “Customers love our Sky original productions and together, Sky Studios and HBO Max will bring them more unique stories that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Sky and WarnerMedia also extended co-production deals with Sky Studios and HBO Max working together on original content.

Co-production Chernobyl garnered 10 Primetime Emmys, and latest co-production “Catherine the Great,” with Helen Mirren, received critical acclaim following its U.K. broadcast debut this month.

“We are thrilled to find new ways to deepen our longstanding relationship with Sky, and bring a fresh dimension to the great content we continue to bring to consumers,” said Jeffrey Schlesinger, president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution, in a statement.

NBC Universal Assumes Sky Vision Production/Distribution Unit

Sky Vision, the U.K. satellite distributor’s production and distribution unit, is now operating under the NBC Universal corporate umbrella.

The move was disclosed by Sky Vision in a social media post: “On October 1, Sky Vision Content Sales transitions to NBCUniversal Distribution. Join us each weekday during September to celebrate The Best of Sky Vision.”

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NBC Universal parent Comcast acquired Sky last September for $31 billion.

Sky Vision original TV productions include “Riviera,” HBO’s “Patrick Melrose” and the upcoming HBO original series,”Catherine The Great,” staring Helen Mirren.

Disney’s ‘Nutcracker’ Comes Home Jan. 29

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release The Nutcracker and the Four Realms on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital Jan. 29.

Inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and the ballet The Nutcracker, the film tells the story of 14-year-old Clara (Mackenzie Foy), who travels along a golden thread, presented at Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual party, eagerly searching for a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a music box that holds a priceless gift. When she enters a mysterious parallel world, Clara encounters a Nutcracker soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and three Realm regents, including the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley). Ultimately, she must brave the Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve the key and return harmony to the unstable world.

Blu-ray extras include: “On Pointe: A Conversation with Misty Copeland,” in which the actress discusses playing The Ballerina Princess; “Unwrapping The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” a look at the production design, sets and costumes; five deleted scenes; and music videos for “Fall on Me” by Andrea Bocelli featuring Matteo Bocelli, and Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” performed by Lang Lang.

Another featurette “Unwrapped: The Visual Effects of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” will be available exclusively with the digital edition.

Digital bonus materials may vary by retailer.

‘Gosford Park,’ ‘Gas Food Lodging’ Among November Blu-ray Releases on Tap From Arrow and MVD

Gosford Park and Gas Food Lodging are among four Blu-ray releases coming in November from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

From Arrow Academy Nov. 13 comes Gas Food Lodging. Based on a novel by Richard Peck and directed by Allison Anders, this story of a young single mother desperately trying to find love was a hit at the 1992 Berlin International Film Festival. This newly restored release comes director approved and contains a number of special features, including “The Road to Laramie: A Look Back at Gas Food Lodging,” a new interview with Allison Anders and Josh Olson; Cinefile: Reel Women, a 1995 documentary by Chris Rodley looking at the challenges women face in the film industry and featuring interviews with Anders, Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion and Penny Marshall; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film.

Due Nov. 27 from Arrow Academy is director Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, starring Alan Bates, Kristin Scott Thomas, Bob Balaban, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren and Clive Owen. The murder-mystery features a new 2K restoration from a 4K scan approved by director of photography Andrew Dunn. Special features include audio commentary by Altman, production designer Stephen Altman and producer David Levy; audio commentary by writer-producer Julian Fellowes; new audio commentary by critics Geoff Andrew and David Thompson (author of Altman on Altman); an Introduction by Andrew; new cast and crew interviews recorded exclusively for this release; the “The Making of Gosford Park” archive featurette; the “Keeping Gosford Park Authentic” archive featurette; a Q&A Session with Altman and the cast; 15 deleted scenes with optional Altman commentary; a trailer; reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Sheila O’Malley and an archive interview with Altman.

Nov. 13 comes The Wizard of Gore from Herschell Gordon Lewis. In the film, Montag the Magnificent wows audiences with his macabre magic act, but before long his volunteers start to wind up dead. Is Montag a modern day wizard or just your everyday serial killer? Special features include the 1968 bonus feature How to Make a Doll; feature-length audio commentary with Lewis and Mike Vraney; “Montag Speaks,” an interview with Wizard of Gore actor Ray Sager; Stephen Thrower on The Wizard of Gore; “The Gore the Merrier,” an interview with Jeremy Kasten, director of the 2007 Wizard of Gore remake; “The Incredibly Strange Film Show,” an episode of the cult documentary series focusing on the films of Lewis; the original theatrical trailer; and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil.

Due Nov. 20 is Teruo Ishii’s anthology Orgies of Edo, featuring three stories with a corrupt moral center. Politically incorrect, each tale is that of tragic heroines caught up in unspeakable violence. Special features include “The Orgies of Ishii,” an exclusive, newly filmed interview with author Patrick Maccias; the theatrical trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Tom Mes.

‘Community,’ ‘Rescue Me,’ ‘Benji’ on September Disc Slate From Mill Creek

Complete Blu-ray series sets of “Community” and “Rescue Me,” two double features and films about animal friends are among the titles on Mill Creek Entertainment’s September disc slate.

Due Sept. 18 is Community: The Complete Series, featuring all 110 episodes from the TV series, on both Blu-ray ($99.98) and DVD ($69.98). The comedy ensemble series, starring Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Borwn and Jim Rash, centers on a tight-knit group of friends who all meet at Greendale Community College and their hijinks.

All seven seasons are included in Rescue Me: The Complete Series coming out Sept. 11 on Blu-ray ($149.98). Whether pulling survivors from a fiery high-rise or the twisted steel of a subway collision, Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) takes pride in leading the heroic but overwhelmed firefighters of the NYFD. Meanwhile, he’s also drifting between sorrow and anger over a separation from his wife and three kids, and the haunting memories of his fallen comrades.

The lovable mutt Benji returns Sept. 11 in the Benji: Off the Leash Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital) at $19.98. The story, told from the pooch’s point of view, tracks his early days as a pup to his current life in showbiz. Bonus features include a feature-length commentary with director Joe Camp, editor Dava Whisenant, composer Anthony Di Lorenzo and producer Margaret Loesch; a behind-the-scenes featurette; and “Benji Movie Memories,” which covers memorable scenes from five Benji movies starring three different Benjis.

Streeting Sept. 18 are two double features on Blu-ray at $14.98 each. The comedy double feature includes Age of Consent, starring James Mason and Helen Mirren, and Cactus Flower, starring Goldie Hawn, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Matthau. This is the first time either film has been available in high definition.

Also in HD for the first time are Nightwing and Shadow of the Hawk, paired in a double feature of fright. Nightwing follows the investigation of a wave of mysterious deaths on a Native American reservation in New Mexico that turn out to be caused by killer bats. Shadow of the Hawk stars Jan-Michael Vincent in a tale of an old Native American shaman who trains his skeptical grandson as a medicine man to battle enemies and black magic.

Born Free: The Complete Collection comes out on DVD Sept. 11 at $19.98. The franchise collection is based on the 1960 book about raising an orphaned lion cub Elsa and then releasing her back into the wild. The book changed the world’s perception of wild animals. The DVD collection includes the 1966 original film, the 1972 sequel, the 1974 TV series and the 1996 TV movie.

Due Sept. 11 is the Western Buffalo Girls on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98. The film, starring Anjelica Huston, Melanie Griffith and Sam Elliott, celebrates the escapades of tough-talking Calamity Jane Canary. It co-stars Gabriel Byrne, Reba McEntire and Peter Coyote.

The miniseries Family Pictures comes out Sept. 11 on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98. The drama, starring Anjelica Huston, Sam Neill and Kyra Sedgwick, is based on Sue Miller’s best-selling novel. It follows a daughter who comes home to her divorced parents and tells the story of her family, including her younger autistic brother.

Coming Sept. 11 on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98 is Hollywood’s Best and Brightest, featuring more than 12 hours of Hollywood star biographies. Featured legends are Warren Beatty, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Wagner, Michael York, Julie Andrews, Kim Basinger, Candice Bergen, Catherine Deneuve, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Goldie Hawn, Lauren Hutton, Angela Lansbury, Shirley MacLaine, Ann-Margret, Barbra Streisand, Kathleen Turner and Raquel Welch.