Disney+ Renews ‘World According to Jeff Goldblum’ for Season 2

Disney+ is renewing “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” for a second season on the streaming service.

Produced by Nutopia, “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” is the service’s first original series from National Geographic and will conclude its freshman season Jan. 24.

“Jeff has captured the imagination and curiosity of our audience with his distinct perspective and illuminating adventures,” said Ricky Strauss, president, content and marketing, Disney+. “We can’t wait to see where Jeff and our partners at National Geographic take us in season two.”

After premiering on Nov. 12, subscribers have followed host and executive producer Goldblum across the country as he unravels the fascinating truths behind familiar objects we all know and love. The first season explored a spectrum of topics from ice cream and sneakers to denim and RVs. In the 10-episode second season, Jeff will bring viewers on an entertaining and insightful ride around the world as he unearths a new batch of everyday objects.

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Courteney Monroe, president, National Geographic Global Television Networks, shared the season pick-up as part of National Geographic’s Television Critics Association presentation.

“Jeff’s genuine curiosity in the world make him a natural fit for the National Geographic brand. There is something special and intangible about Jeff and his fascination with the world is infectious,” said Monroe. “We’re thrilled to be able to share his humor and sensibilities to a broader audience on Disney+.”

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Disney+ First Impressions

The Nov. 12 launch of the new Disney+ streaming service has made quite an impact its first day, lighting up social media with several trending topics.

The chatter began almost as soon as the app became available in the U.S. around midnight, with users prancing around the site eager to discover all the goodies Disney was bringing us, in terms of both highly anticipated originals and a few new surprises.

My own experience began with pulling up the app on my PlayStation 4. The login required an email authentication but the process was only hampered a bit by Disney’s push to unify all its online services under a unified account, requiring me to change my password from what I had set up when I preordered Disney+.

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At first blush, the well-designed site offers a relatively easy user interface that isn’t too unlike Netflix’s, with lots of recommendations and genre groupings to stumble onto, but not as in your face about it (though the clustering of some of the videos does present a few oddities here and there). The platform’s five main categories — Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic — are put up top for easy access.

As far as I was concerned, I came for the “Star Wars” but was quite amused by some of the other offerings. Not unlike the collector navigating all the youngsters at the Disney Store just to pick through exclusive Marvel and Star Wars merchandise. Make no mistake, though, this is a family-friendly platform and should please many a parent looking to keep their kids distracted.

In the early goings, the platform wasn’t without the occasional technical glitches, unsurprising given what had to be a healthy early volume of first watchers. A had a few instances of the app dropping service that was widely reported online. A few times the video would stall as the audio continued, then would reset to a few seconds back as the buffer adjusted. All-in-all, relatively minor hiccups in an otherwise smooth viewing experience.

To browse the content, there’s an account menu (off to the left on the PS4 app, up top on the website) for searches, or to just look through all the original content, movies or TV shows the site offers.

Another surprise: DVD-style bonus material. While most of these extras, when offered, are simply trailers for the given movie or TV show, some have a lot more, such as audio commentary, featurettes and deleted scenes.

Of note, Avengers: Endgame has deleted scenes that weren’t released with the Blu-ray or digital download versions, including Tony Stark meeting his future daughter (the selection seems to change depending which device is playing the app — the phone app has the scene while the PS4 version just has the scene with director’s commentary).

The original content is quaint so far. “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” is just as quirky as the premise would imply, with the actor delving into the history of sneakers in the first episode. Fans of the company’s storied legacy will enjoy a new documentary series about the Imagineers who built Disneyland and subsequent theme parks. The live-action Lady and the Tramp remake seems cute for what it is (and, for those curious, the Siamese cat song has been replaced with something less likely to be seen as racially insensitive).

The Siamese cat song is still in the original animated Lady and the Tramp, which is offered unaltered alongside other animated classics such as Dumbo and Peter Pan that contain content now deemed “problematic,” though with a disclaimer that they contain “outdated cultural depictions.”

For all the obscure titles Disney pulled from its vault to stock the site, fans like me of the studio’s history might find it amusing what isn’t here. And I’m not talking about Song of the South, which at this point may never see the light of day with an official re-release again.

There are still a lot of old TV shows and movies that Disney could mine. For example, Conderman isn’t here, or the studio classic So Dear to My Heart, both of which are subjects of exclusive disc releases from the Disney Movie Club. The 1961 The Parent Trap is here, but not its three 1980s TV movie sequels. The five “Herbie: The Love Bug” theatrical movies are prominent fixtures, but not the 1997 TV remake of The Love Bug, or the five episodes from the 1982 spinoff TV series.

My guess would be what’s on the site is a factor of availability in high-definition, as some of the older movies that have been released on DVD only, as opposed to Blu-ray, or that have never been released on home video at all are the most notable absences. The HD factor is probably why the site is only offering the widescreen versions of the early seasons of “The Simpsons,” even though the show was produced in 4:3 and cropping for widescreen cuts out many sight gags.

As a record of Disney history, the site also offers a few curiosities. Under the search function, there’s a “Disney Through the Decades” category, which offers selections of Disney movies and cartoon shorts grouped by the decade of their release. What’s a bit dubious here is how Miracle on 34th Street is listed in the 1940s section. Likewise, The Sound of Music is under 1960s and Home Alone is listed in 1990s. These were not made by Disney, but acquired by the studio when it purchased Fox. Similarly, the original Star Wars is listed under the 1970s Disney category, and The Empire Strikes Back with the 1980s. Perhaps Disney is simply retroactively declaring some of the family friendly Fox films to be Disney films in spirit? (It brings to mind in the 1980s when Roger Ebert famously opined that the “Star Wars” movies were the types of films Disney should be making. He also predicted after Revenge of the Sith that “Star Wars” was profitable enough that someone would start making new movies without George Lucas).

Speaking of “Star Wars,” Disney has added the Fox fanfare back to the original six films where it had removed them for their digital download release a few years ago (except for the original film, Episode IV, which always had the fanfare because Fox controlled its distribution in perpetuity). This is a nice nod to the history of the franchise, although I wish they had added the fanfare to the Disney-produced movies such as The Force Awakens, just for kicks and a little consistency (assigning distribution to its now subsidiary Fox studio, as it were). But alas.

The first six movies are offered in 4K with Dolby Vision for the first time, as they haven’t been released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray yet. With this, the notorious “Greedo vs. Han” scene from Episode IV has been tweaked yet again, which has caused quite a stir online (The alteration seems to have come from George Lucas’ efforts to remaster the films for 3D and 4K just before Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012). Famous as the most derided change in the 1997 special-edition re-release that allowed bounty hunter Greedo to get a shot off at Han before being blasted by the rogue pilot, the latest version cuts to a close-up of Greedo saying something that sounds like “Maclunkey” in untranslated Huttese before getting blasted. The alien phrase has appeared in canon before, loosely translating to “This will be the end of you.”

However, the buzz about the new scene naturally started the #Maclunkey trend on Twitter and gave rise to what is probably the first Disney+ meme.

Not to be outdone, the new “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” debuted its first episode, with its second episode bowing on Friday, which will be the day new episodes drop going forward. (See review here).

The show comes with slick a new “Star Wars” brand logo, as well as a gritty tone that harkens back to the rustic qualities of the early “Star Wars” films. There are even references to The Star Wars Holiday Special (another ‘movie’ notably absent from the Disney+ menu, by the way).

Scream Factory Releasing ‘The Fly’ Blu-ray Collection

Scream Factory, the horror imprint of indie distributor Shout! Factory, will release The Fly Collection on Blu-ray Dec. 10. The five-disc set includes the trilogy based on the 1958 original The Fly, plus the 1986 remake and its sequel.

The original film stars Vincent Price as the brother of a scientist whose experiments in creating a matter transporter accidentally swap his head with that of a fly. In 1959’s Return of the Fly (1959), the son of the first scientist continues his father’s work. In 1965’s The Curse of the Fly, a woman marrys into the family of scientists and learns about the horrible side effects of their experiments.

The 1986 remake directed by David Cronenberg stars Jeff Goldblum as Seth Brundle, the scientist whose experiments in teleportation merge his DNA with that of a fly, causing him to transform into a human-fly hybrid to the horror of the journalist (Geena Davis) chronicling his work. Its 1989 sequel, The Fly II, stars Eric Stoltz as Seth’s son, who continues his father’s efforts.

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With the exception of the 1986 version, this set represents of the first Blu-ray release of the films in North America.

The complete list of bonus features includes a bevy of new interviews and audio commentaries with cast and crew on each film, plus legacy bonus material.

Extras on the 1958 version of The Fly include:

  • A new audio commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr;
  • Audio commentary with actor David Hedison and film historian David Del Valle;
  • “Biography: Vincent Price”;
  • “Fly Trap: Catching a Classic”;
  • Fox Movietone News;
  • Theatrical trailer.

 

Return of the Fly extras:

  • New audio commentary with actor David Frankham;
  • New audio commentary with author/film historian Tom Weaver;
  • New audio commentary with actor Brett Halsey and film historian David Del Valle;
  • Theatrical Trailer;
  • TV spot;
  • Still gallery.

 

The Curse of the Fly extras:

  • New audio commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr;
  • New interview with actress Mary Manson;
  • New interview with continuity checker Renee Glynee;
  • Theatrical Trailer;
  • TV spot;
  • Still gallery.

 

Extras on the 1986 version include:

  • New audio commentary with author/film historian William Beard;
  • “The Meshuggener Scientist” — a new interview with executive producer Mel Brooks;
  • “Beauty and the Beast” — a new interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld;
  • “A Tragic Opera” — a new interview with composer Howard Shore;
  • “David’s Eyes” — a new interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin;
  • New interview with casting director Deirdre Bowen;
  • Audio commentary with director David Cronenberg
  • “Fear of the Flesh: The Making of The Fly” — covering all three stages of the production — Larva, Pupa and Metamorphosis;
  • “The Brundle Museum of Natural History” with Chris Walas and Bob Burns;
  • Deleted scenes with storyboard and script versions;
  • Extended scenes;
  • An alternate ending;
  • Test footage (main titles, lighting and makeup effects);
  • Vintage featurette/profile on David Cronenberg;
  • Still galleries (publicity, behind-the-scenes, concept art and visual effects);
  • Theatrical trailers;
  • TV spots;
  • George Langelaan’s short story;
  • Charles Edward Pouge’s original screenplay;
  • David Cronenberg’s screenplay rewrite;
  • Magazine articles with photos and video;
  • A trivia track;
  • Two Easter eggs.

 

The Fly II extras:

  • “Fly in the Ointment” — a new interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld;
  • “Original Visions” — a new interview with screenwriter Mick Garris;
  • “Version 2.0” — a new interview with screenwriter Ken Wheat;
  • “Big and Gothic” — a new interview with composer Christopher Young;
  • “Pretty Fly for A Fly Guy” — a new interview with special effects artist Tom Sullivan;
  • New interview with cinematographer Robin Vidgeon;
  • Interview with director Chris Walas;
  • Interview with producer Steven-Charles Jaffe;
  • Audio commentary with director Chris Walas and film historian Bob Burns;
  • “Transformations: Looking Back at The Fly II”;
  • “The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect”;
  • Video Production Journal — a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects;
  • Composer’s Master Class: Christopher Young;
  • Storyboard-to-film comparisons with optional commentary by director Chris Walas;
  • Vintage featurette;
  • Extended press kit Interviews with Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga and Chris Walas;
  • An alternate ending;
  • A deleted scene;
  • Teaser trailer;
  • Theatrical trailer;
  • Still gallery;
  • Storyboard gallery.

 

Disney+ D23 Expo Presentation Showcases App Features, Unveils Content Slate Including New ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi,’ Marvel, ‘Lizzie McGuire’ Series

Disney+ unveiled six series in development, a slate of original series and films, and details about the service during a showcase presentation at Disney’s D23 Expo Aug. 23 in Anaheim, Calif.

The Disney+ app made its debut on the show floor, with features and functionality confirmed for the global launch dates in November. Disney+ ($6.99 per month; $69.99 annually in the U.S.) offers viewers:

• Unlimited Downloads: Subscribers have access to unlimited downloads of shows and movies on the Disney+ app to watch offline later on up to 10 mobile or tablet devices, with no constraints on the number of times a title can be downloaded per year. Once downloaded, subscribers can watch on the go and without an internet connection. The number of titles stored at one time on a device is dependent upon the available storage space on a subscriber’s device.

• High-Quality Viewing: Subscribers can get ultra-high-definition viewing with up to 4K Ultra HD video playback in Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Dolby Atmos immersive audio on supported devices for available programming.

• Commercial-free Viewing: Subscribers can access unlimited viewing of Disney+ content without having to watch commercials.

Profile Customizations: Subscribers can set up to seven different profiles and choose an avatar tailored to their favorite Disney, Pixar, Marvel or “Star Wars” characters, with more than 200 avatars available.

Concurrent Streaming: Disney+ allows subscribers to concurrently stream video content on up to four registered devices with no up-charges.

• Multiple Languages: At launch, Disney+ will offer support for English, Spanish, French and Dutch languages, including both user interface as well as audio support and/or subtitles for library content, with additional languages available for Disney+ originals.

• Accessibility: The app offers support for closed captioning, descriptive audio and navigation assistance for subscribers with disabilities.

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Actress Yvette Nicole Brown, who stars in the Disney+ original film Lady and the Tramp, hosted the content presentation, welcoming Kevin Mayer, chairman, direct-to-consumer and international.

“With less than three months until launch, Disney+ will soon entertain and inspire audiences of all ages for generations to come, and we’re excited to preview some of the amazing original content being created for the service exclusively from our world-class brands today at the D23 Expo,” said Mayer. “Storytelling is the cornerstone of The Walt Disney Company and we’re thrilled to unveil a new slate of original shows from the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes, along with popular television franchises set to return with all-new series streaming only on Disney+.”

Executives behind the Disney+ content slate also appeared, including Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production; Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios; Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm; and Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channel Worldwide.

The executives discussed the status of previously announced content as well as introduced additions to the slate:

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in 2005’s ‘Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith’

Ewan McGregor was on hand to confirm his return as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a new series from Lucasfilm, presumably set between the events of the “Star Wars” prequel and original trilogies, when the character was exiled on Tatooine watching over young Luke Skywalker. Alec Guinness played the role in the original “Star Wars” in 1977, as well as 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi. McGregor played the younger version of the character in the prequels from 1999 to 2005. Reports about the series had been swirling in the week leading up to the D23 Expo, following years of speculation that McGregor would return to the role in a spinoff movie;

Feige announced that Marvel Studios is developing three new live-action series, “Ms. Marvel,” “Moon Knight” and “She-Hulk,” all derived from Marvel comics;

Hilary Duff surprised the audience with an appearance to announce she will reprise the role she made famous in an all-new Lizzie McGuire series from Terri Minsky; and

Forty years after leaving the swamp in his big screen debut in The Muppet Movie, Kermit the Frog along with the Muppets gang will appear in their first-ever unscripted short-form series, “Muppets Now.”

Disney+ also showcased original movies and shows set to stream when the service launches on Nov. 12.

“The Mandalorian”

For Lucasfilm’s “The Mandalorian,” executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni joined series stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito, along with Taika Waititi, who brings the droid IG-11 to life, to premiere the teaser trailer for the first Star Wars live-action series. Earlier in the day at the Disney Legends Awards Ceremony, Robert A. Iger,chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Co., announced that new Disney Legend Ming-Na Wen will join the cast of the series. Set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order, “The Mandalorian” follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

 

The cast of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” participated in a live performance of the multi-platinum hit song, “We’re All In This Together.” Following the presentation, cast members Joshua Bassett, Olivia Rodrigo, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Julia Lester, Larry Saperstein, Dara Reneé, Frankie A. Rodriguez, Kate Reinders, Mark St. Cyr, and Showrunner Tim Federle invited 3,600 fans to watch the first episode in the D23 Expo Arena and revealed the series’ teaser trailer. The 10-episode scripted series, set at the real-life East High, where the original movie was filmed, follows a group of students as they countdown to opening night of their school’s first-ever production of “High School Musical.”

 

Host Brown joined fellow Lady and the Tramp cast members Rose (“Lady”) and Monty (“Tramp”) — the canine stars of the film — to premiere the first trailer of the live-action remake of the 1955 animated classic, In the film, a pampered house dog and a tough but lovable stray embark on an unexpected adventure and, despite their differences, grow closer and come to understand the value of home.

 

Noelle stars Anna Kendrick and Billy Eichner joined Sean Bailey to announce their film will premiere on Disney+ Nov. 12 before sharing a new trailer. In the holiday comedy, Kris Kringle’s daughter is full of Christmas spirit and holiday fun, but wishes she could do something important like her beloved brother Nick, who will take over from their father this Christmas. When Nick is about to crumble from all the pressure, Noelle suggests he take a break and get away. When he doesn’t return, Noelle must find her brother and bring him back in time to save Christmas.

 

Jeff Goldblum, who stars in and hosts 12-episode “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” from National Geographic, gave fans a peek inside the series including a new trailer for the show.

 

Executive producer Kristen Bell shared a first-look trailer and a taste of what’s to come in the unscripted series “Encore!” that brings together former castmates of high school musicals, tasking them with re-creating their original performance years after they last performed it.

 

Tony Hale, who reprises role as Forky from Toy Story 4 in the new collection of Pixar animated shorts “Forky Asks a Question,” premiered the first short (“What is Money?”). In the 10 shorts, Forky explores important questions about how the world works, such as: What is love? What is time? 

Forky

Disney+ also detailed titles set to premiere after the service launches:

The audience was treated to a scene from the Disney+ original film Togo, an untold true story set in the winter of 1925 in the Alaskan tundra. The film, which will launch on the service in December, stars four-time Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe and is directed by Ericson Core. It also stars Julianne Nicholson, Christopher Heyerdahl, Richard Dormer, Michael Greyeyes, Michael McElhatton and Michael Gaston.

Director Kari Skogland introduced Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, the stars of Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, which finds Falcon and the Winter Soldier teaming up after Avengers: Endgame. Emily VanCamp came on stage and Feige revealed that she will reprise her role as Sharon Carter. Then, he introduced the crowd to Wyatt Russell who will play John Walker — a character from the comics coming to the screen for the first time. Head writer Malcom Spellman was also on hand to greet the crowd. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will launch on Disney+ in 2020.

Stars Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen were on hand for their new series, Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision.” Bettany returns as Vision and Olsen as Wanda Maximoff — two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives who begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems. Feige surprised the audience by bringing to the stage Kat Dennings and Randall Park who will reprise their roles from Thor and Ant-Man and The Wasp, and then he introduced Kathryn Hahn who has been cast as a new character in the series. Director Matt Shakman and head writer Jac Schaeffer joined everyone on stage to reveal that the streaming series will blend the style of classic sitcoms with Marvel Cinematic Universe. “WandaVision” premieres on Disney+ in 2021.

Feige welcomed the director, Kate Herron, and head writer, Michael Waldron, of “Loki” to the stage. In Marvel Studios’ series “Loki,” Tom Hiddleston returns as the mercurial Loki, the god of mischief, in stories that take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. “Loki” debuts on Disney+ in 2021.

For Marvel Studios’ “What If …?” Hayley Atwell was on hand to greet the audience. Atwell will voice Peggy Carter in Marvel Studios’ first animated series that focuses on different heroes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and imagines what would happen if the events in the films worked out differently. Feige also introduced director Bryan Andrews and head writer Ashley Bradley to the crowd.  “What If…?” premieres on Disney+ in 2021.

Kennedy announced that the new season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” will stream on Disney+ in February 2020. The Emmy award-winning animated series will be returning with 12 new episodes and will mark the return of classic characters Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex.

Stars Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk joined Kennedy to introduce the audience to the second Lucasfilm live-action series for Disney+, which is now in development. Both actors are reprising their roles from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the stories follow Cassian Andor’s adventures as a rebel spy during the formative years of the Rebellion, before the events of A New Hope.

Executive producer and recurring guest star Gina Rodriguez joined “Diary of a Female President” lead Tess Romero to announce the series will premiere on Disney+ in January. Told using the narration from her diary, the half-hour single camera comedy follows 12-year-old Cuban-American girl Elena’s journey through the trials of middle school, which set her on the path to ultimately become president of the United States.

Bailey shared a first look at the original film Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made based on the best-selling book series by Stephan Pastis and launching on the service in early 2020. The film follows the exploits of a quirky, deadpan hero, Timmy Failure, who, along with his 1,500-pound polar bear partner Total, operates Total Failure Inc., a Portland detective agency.

The stars of Stargirl, Grace VanderWaal and Graham Verchere, helped introduce the coming-of-age film based on the New York Times best-selling young adult novel. The film also stars Karan Brar, Maximiliano Hernandez, Darby Stanchfield and Giancarlo Esposito. It will launch on Disney+ in early 2020.

“Monsters at Work” stars Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler unveiled the latest design of their characters Tylor and Millie. Inspired by Disney and Pixar’s Academy Award-winning feature film Monsters, Inc., the new series from Disney Television Animation returns to Monstropolis and follows a new cast of monsters with special appearances from Mike and Sulley (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman).

 

Between the Lines

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 6/18/19;
Cohen;
Comedy;
$29.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R.’
Stars John Heard, Lindsay Crouse, Jeff Goldblum, Gwen Welles.

As an easygoing, era-specific comedy that both lauded and poked mild fun at the disillusioned hip, Joan Micklin Silver’s Between the Lines (with a knowing script by Fred Barron) also had at least a couple of elements that made it ahead of its time and thus an attention-getting view when seen today. One was general and the other specific — the first dealing with male attitudes toward their co-workers and girlfriends in and around the Boston newsroom of an alternative weekly. The guys aren’t exactly blatantly crude; in this milieu, you’re going to see centerfolds on the walls. But often they’re unmistakably patronizing toward women — especially when it’s women who seem to work more and procrastinate less.

The other element was real crystal ball stuff in terms of what is still happening to newspapers: There’s a potential new publisher working the wings — the type who talks a good game but will likely, if the deal does materialize, purge what he can from a publication whose sales are already slipping so it can more easily fit it into his cookie-cutter chain. The 1977 movie didn’t know it at the time, but the feel-good Reagan era was just three years away, and alternate papers aren’t designed to make readers feel all that great. The makers also couldn’t have known that the actor playing the potential publisher (Lane Smith) would end up playing Richard Nixon in the TV movie of The Final Days (and to considerable acclaim). It’s the kind of kicker that can make a movie get better with the years without even trying.

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Otherwise, low-budget Lines is modest enough to pass as a more politically savvy feature version of “Friends” — though, so as not to go overboard on the comparison, one that’s far more up-front about the sex and where the quality of apartments is about 20,000 leagues down the food chain (as is the quality of the food in the refrigerators). At the time I first saw this picture — which was when I showed it in the AFI upstairs screening room to the key DC entertainment journalists to rollicking enthusiasm — I didn’t know a lot of the key actors, who were not yet widely known. It marked the first time, for instance, I’d ever seen John Heard and only the second time I’d seen Jeff Goldblum after he’d blown a hole in the screen with a couple amazing scenes in Paul Mazurksy’s grand Next Stop, Greenwich Village. Lindsay Crouse, though, had recently made a strong impression with her memorably down-to-earth turn in Slap Shot, the Paul Newman/George Roy Hill hockey romp that had opened just two months earlier.

So in terms of engaging performances coming out of left field, the movie was something of a surprise. Heard is the paper’s borderline funk-affected reporting ace with an on-and-off thing for photographer Crouse. Colleague Stephen Collins, an object of envy because he’s just gotten a book advance, is in a stormy relationship with his dancer wife (Gwen Welles, previously the unforgettable “Sueleen Gay” from Robert Altman’s Nashville). Goldblum plays the rock critic/wannabe pickup artist— how could he not in this kind of movie? —  perpetually stoned on life.

Jill Eikenberry is the office typist plus seemingly the staff’s least assuming member, but then we see her come through in the clutch at the end. Bruno Kirby is the rookie reporter — so green that he makes even Goldblum look polished, and bean counter Lewis J. Stadlen outfits himself in manner fully consistent with his litany of social gaucheries, which include pawing Eikenberry (with whom he is smitten). Michael J. Pollard wanders in and out of the story’s edges hawking the paper on the street — and as usual with the actor, we immediately think, “Not a single brain cell is left.” There’s a lot of camaraderie here, a lot of musical beds, a lot of dust-ups and a lot of drinking — the last after work in a more intimate saloon setting or when Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes are appearing at a booze-soaked event (it was a nice touch having them appear here).

Silver was coming off Hester Street, which turned out to be a surprise indie hit after few had given it much commercial encouragement (the reviews were good, too), followed by the very well received TV movie Bernice Bobs Her Hair. You can see from Between the Lines that she didn’t do very much with the camera, but she had a rapport with actors, and it was no puny feat getting this level of ensemble work out of a large and largely untested cast. In Lines’ case, she had even worked a short while at the Village Voice, though it was likely Barron’s experiences at the Boston Phoenix and The Real Paper that shaped the narrative (his screenplay already existed before Silver became involved). There’s about a 15-minute bonus interview with Silver on this Blu-ray that isn’t too revealing, but she does come off as one to whom actors would respond. Favorably.

I realize that some of the characters here are full of themselves and when, like everyone else, they’re looking out for old No. 1 while trying to convince themselves they’re not. This puts off certain viewers, but these were the times, and maybe they still are, as young turks juggle for position in a cutthroat position profession — one that, in this case, pays Goldblum $75 a week (plus all the review-copy vinyls that he can unload at the local used record store).

Of all the actors at the time, I was probably most taken with Heard because Goldblum, who’s just as good here, was at least a slightly known quantity (the hot temper he displayed in his Greenwich Village characterization is gone here, but the tics and neuroses remain intact). Heard would soon parlay this movie into Silver’s follow-up Chilly Scenes of Winter and his great Cutter’s Way performance — an over-the-top achievement that totally pulls off its flamboyance when it could have been a haunch of ham. Both are cult movies that rated Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time, and (with Lines) formed a very promising triumvirate for the actor. Later, when I had to pick lint off my socks watching Heard in Home Alone, my popcorn congealed.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Between the Lines’ and ‘Warlock’

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 9/18/18;
Universal;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $415.98 million;
$29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $44.98 3D BD, $44.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
Stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom really cements the notion that the “Jurassic Park” films are perfect metaphors for the creative approach to the franchise as a whole. In particular, an overriding premise of the “Jurassic World” movies is that the more people see the dinosaurs at the center of them, the less awe-inspiring they become. So, the powers that be make up new dinosaurs to entice the audience, and when the theme park idea runs its course, it all gets blown up in order to change the setting.

The formula is so ingrained in the DNA of the franchise that the Fallen Kingdom Blu-ray even offers a featurette detailing all the tropes it borrowed from the other movies.

In this fifth “Jurassic” movie and the second of the “World” brand, the island that housed the dinosaur-themed amusement park in the previous film (and the 1993 original) is experiencing a catastrophic volcanic eruption that will wipe out all the genetically engineered dinosaurs that have been roaming free there the past three years.

As the U.S. government debates whether or not to rescue the animals (and decides not to, thanks to some prodding from fan-favorite character Dr. Ian Malcolm, played again by Jeff Goldblum in little more than a cameo), a private dinosaur fanatic recruits the two main survivors of the previous film, Owen and Claire (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard), to help rescue some of the creatures and move them to a sanctuary island.

Little do they know that the mission is a ruse to capture a selection of the dinosaurs and sell them for nefarious purposes at auction at a massive Northern California estate. The centerpiece of the auction is the Indoraptor, which was designed with military applications in mind.

And, of course, one thing leads to another and the dinosaurs get loose and start killing everyone.

Just as Jurassic World revisited some of the core premise of the original film set at the theme park, Fallen Kingdom takes a few cues from the 1997 sequel, The Lost World, in that the first half takes place on the island, only to have greedy entrepreneurs send mercenary teams to capture the dinosaurs to bring them back to America to make money.

The movie also seeks to evolve the film’s ethical questions about cloning and genetic engineering by advancing the storyline off the island, something hinted at by the end of 2001’s Jurassic Park III but never followed up on until now. The filmmakers have called this the middle chapter of a trilogy so there are a few plot threads left to explore in the third installment.

The visual effects are of course top notch, and the film looks great in the first half as it shows off more of the island (now with volcanic ash and lava). By this point in the franchise, there are even recurring dinosaur characters, in the form of Blue the velociraptor (introduced in the last movie) and Rexy the T-Rex (the big beast from the original film).

The island sequences culminate in one of the most spectacular and emotionally charged shots of the franchise.

The second half of the film is much darker by design, as deadly dinos stalk their prey within the confines of a mansion as the human heroes try to keep them from escaping.

The Blu-ray includes a dozen or so short featurettes totaling about 75 minutes in behind-the-scenes material.

Among the most notable of these are a roundtable discussion with Pratt, Howard, Goldblum, director J.A. Bayona and executive producer Colin Trevorrow. This is the only part of the disc, the movie included, where you’ll get to see the film’s stars interact with Goldblum.

Another section offers 12 minutes of Chris Pratt’s production diaries, as he introduces us to various members of the production crew.

While most of the bonus material is on both the DVD and Blu-ray, about 22 minutes is exclusive to the Blu-ray. These include the featurettes “The Kingdom Evolves,” a discussion of the story; “Return to Hawaii,” about the state’s history with the franchise; “Island Action,” which looks at two specific action scenes from the island; “Aboard the Arcadia,” about working with animatronic dinosaurs; and “Start the Bidding!,” a look at the auction scene.

The remaining featurettes are similarly focused mostly on visual effects and stunts. One of the most interesting aspects of all of this is seeing how much the visual effects to depict the dinosaurs has advanced in 25 years while still remaining faithful to some of the tried and true methods of the past.

‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Coming to Home Video in September

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the latest installment in the celebrated “Jurassic Park” franchise, will be released for home audiences as a digital purchase (and through the digital movie app Movies Anywhere) Sept. 4 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Two weeks later, on Sept. 18, the film — with a domestic gross of just under $385 million, the fourth-biggest theatrical hit of the year — will be issued on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and on demand.

All home versions of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom come with more than an hour of bonus content, including Chris Pratt’s behind-the-scenes “Jurassic Journals; an inside look at the genetically designed Indoraptor; and a behind-the-scenes featurette with Jeff Goldblum, an original cast member from the first Jurassic Park movie, which was released theatrically in 1993. He also appeared in the 1997 sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and this year reprised his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

The “Jurassic Park” franchise is now one of the top grossing franchises of all-time, with a worldwide box office gross of more than $4.7 billion.

Aside from Pratt and Goldblum, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also stars Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong (also a Jurassic Park original).

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) and executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow. The film follows Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) returning to Isla Nublar three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park to rescue any remaining dinosaurs on the island from a catastrophic volcano that threatens to leave dinosaurs extinct once again.

Grady is driven to save his lead raptor, Blue, while Dearing makes it her mission to preserve the creatures she has grown to respect. When the lava begins to rain down, they soon discover terrifying new breeds of ferocious dinosaurs along with a conspiracy that could threaten the entire world.

All five “Jurassic” films also will be available in a five-movie collection on Sept. 18 on DVD, Blu-Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

The Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital purchase come with several exclusive bonus featurettes, including “The Kingdom Evolves,” in which filmmakers discuss how the second chapter in the “Jurassic World” trilogy pushes the franchise in a new direction; “Return to Hawaii,” in which cast and crew discuss shooting the film in Hawaii; “Island Action,” a behind-the-scenes look at the bunker scene and runaway gyrosphere sequence; “Aboard the Arcadia,” in which cast and crew talk about working with the animatronic dinosaurs; and “Start the Bidding,” a behind-the-scenes look at the auction scene.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes an 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, a Blu-ray Disc and a digital copy.

View an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the new bonus feature “On Set with Chris and Bryce” here:

‘Isle of Dogs’ Due June 26 on Digital, July 17 on Disc

Director Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs will be available for digital ownership (including Movies Anywhere) June 26 and on Blu-ray and DVD July 17 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The film tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to vast Trash Island, Atari sets off in search of his bodyguard dog Spots. With the assistance of his newfound mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

The cast voicing the dog and human characters includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson and Frances McDormand.

The film earned $31.4 million at the domestic box office.

Special features on Blu-ray and digital include six featurettes, “Animators,” “Isle of Dogs Cast Interviews,” “Puppets,” “An Ode to Dogs,” “Magasaki City and Trash Island” and “Weather and Elements”; and image gallery; and the theatrical trailer.

Thor: Ragnarok

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 3/6/18;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $314.97 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch.

As with any movie franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become adept and finding formulas that work and sticking to them.

As a case in point, the first two standalone “Thor” movies are generally regarded as among the weaker of the Marvel films. It’s not that they’re bad per se, it’s just that they really didn’t establish themselves much beyond a general space-fantasy epic that connected to elements of the larger Marvel films. As a character, Thor worked better in the “Avengers” films, when he had other heroes to play off of and the films could take advantage of his other-worldly nature for moments of levity and comic relief.

Over the course of 10 years, the MCU as a whole has tended to take itself less seriously, embracing the sense of fun that a comic book movie franchise should have without sacrificing the emotional connection the audience needs to have with its characters.

One of the major contributors to this change in attitude since the second “Thor” movie landed in 2013 was the arrival of two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, which are not only the most comedy-driven of the Marvel films, but they also tread in the cosmic setting that should have been Thor’s bread and butter. Ant-Man and Spider-Man: Homecoming further demonstrated that the MCU could embrace a lighter tone while still remaining true to the source material and the overarching storylines being established for the crossover films.

So, it should really come as no surprise to see Thor: Ragnarok really deconstruct the elements of the MCU’s success, what has worked for Thor in the past, and let director Taika Waititi throw them into a blender to whip up his own unique cocktail for a hilarious big screen comic book thrill ride.

The secret ingredient, as far as Waititi is concerned, it seems, is a healthy pinch of 1970s and 1980s nostalgia, as Thor is essentially re-imagined as a Saturday morning cartoon hero akin to “He-Man” accompanied by a rockin’ techno-synth soundtrack, (from Mark Mothersbaugh, whose name popping up in the credits as the composer certainly elicits a “yeah, that makes sense” reaction).

Waititi does a masterful job of re-focusing the efforts of the “Thor” films while both wrapping up previous storylines (without much fuss) and positioning the characters for the next big crossover, Avengers: Infinity War, which arrives April 27.

Thor himself is now much more irreverent, with the script playing to Chris Hemsworth’s natural comedic talents. As for finding others for Thor to play with, this film offers a brief encounter with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, but really hits a home run by pairing Thor with Hulk, taking advantage of a long-running rivalry between the two characters. A battle between Thor and Hulk in the gladiator pit of an alien world (inspired by the popular “Planet Hulk” comic book storyline) perfectly positions this film as a counterpoint to Captain America: Civil War, in which neither character appeared (as they were off conducting adventures in space, it would appear).

Thor’s only fighting Hulk, though, in order to escape from confinement and recruit a team to take back Asgard from his sister, Hela, the goddess of death. Hela (Cate Blanchett in a juicy performance that borders between menacing and sexy) had been imprisoned by Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for being too cruel, but manages to escape to claim her father’s throne.

The setting of the gladiator planet lets the filmmakers indulge themselves in the colorful renderings of legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby’s designs, and also provide an excuse to just insert Jeff Goldblum into the film (as the Grandmaster of the games) and allow him to just be his zany self, much to the delight of the audience.

The film is a visual spectacle, reminiscent of cult favorites such as Flash Gordon or Heavy Metal, and would be a spectacular showcase for home theater 3D effects were the format not being phased out (at least in the United States. All-region 3D Blu-rays are available from overseas markets such as Europe and Australia).

The home video offers extensive bonus materials, with some exclusive to the digital versions.

The highlight of the presentation on all platforms is probably the six-minute “Team Darryl” short film, the third installment in a spoof series about Thor’s roommate on Earth. This time, with Thor off the planet, Darryl’s new roommate is the Grandmaster, and any excuse for more Goldblum in any setting is a good one.

Also included are about 40 minutes of behind the scenes featurettes, with a three-minute video about the Thor-Hulk relationship presented as a digital exclusive. Other featurettes profile the new female characters, and look at many of the new elements this film brings to the franchise. There’s also a five-minute appreciation of the 10th anniversary of the MCU.

Offering digital exclusives is fine in this case, since the disc comes with access to the digital copies, but the extras are structured differently depending on where you try to watch them, particularly where the deleted scenes are concerned.

On disc, the deleted scenes are pretty straightforward, offered one at a time. Many of them are extended sequences from an earlier conception of the film before story elements were streamlined. So the glimpse of that alternate version is fascinating on its own. The deleted scenes run about 15 minutes, compared with less than six minutes on the disc.

Note that Vudu presents the deleted scenes as a single featurette with them strung together, ending with the fun Easter Egg reference to another Marvel movie that has created some online buzz.

Lastly, there’s an introduction and solo commentary by Waititi, in which he offers a few insights about the making of the film, but mostly maintains the jokey nature he often displays in public. He describes many scenes with tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, hypes up his own skills as both a director and actor, and spends considerable time allowing his young daughter onto the microphone and reacting to her rather than what’s on the screen. No doubt fans of Waititi’s brand of performance art will eat this up, but for general MCU fans, it seems like a missed opportunity to offer a good, in depth discussion about the film.