A Beautiful Planet

A Beautiful Planet presents not only a portrait of the planet Earth using the breathtaking photography typical of Imax large-format cameras, but is also a terrific glimpse at life aboard the International Space Station, which is not necessarily as glamorous as the simplified depictions of science-fiction.

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Mill Creek;
Documentary;
Box Office $15.38 million;
$34.99 UHD/BD combo;
Not rated.
Narrated by Jennifer Lawrence.

The breathtaking 2016 Imax documentary A Beautiful Planet was filmed over the course of 15 months by several crews on the International Space Station.

In 45 minutes, the movie presents a pretty good idea of what it’s like to move around the space station and gaze upon the ever-changing landscapes of the Earth as it passes below.

While the title speaks to the amazing photography of the Earth that’s on display, a significant portion of the movie is devoted to glimpses at life on the space station.

In contrast to the typical science-fiction vision of clean, roomy decks, labs and hallways, the International Space Station is a crammed maze of modules Frankensteined out of the technologies of the various participating nations for the past two decade. The corridors are so cluttered that equipment that isn’t stored in its assigned place could disappear for weeks.

The movie depicts the arrival of new crews and the departure of the crews they replace, plus the adjustment to the daily routines of life on board. This includes giving each other haircuts, hours of daily exercise to prevent muscle atrophy in microgravity, and celebrating Christmas by leaving milk and cookies for Santa in the airlock.

The crews feature astronauts from the United States, Russia, Italy, Japan and more, coming together in the spirit of international cooperation and forming a tight bond almost as if they’re away at summer camp.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence most of the general happenings with her narration, but much of the description of station life comes from voiceovers from the astronauts themselves.

One of the common themes is how remarkably different Earth can look depending on the ecosystem, weather and time of day, but all the views are generally stunning. The film covers drought conditions in California, the flashes of lightning in heavily clouded storms, and the glow of city lights at night, which the astronauts remark is often the only visual evidence of civilization when observing the planet from orbit.

The fidelity of the Imax large-format framing is well preserved in the crisp rendering of ultra high-definition, which really pops with the snow-covered whites of the arctic and the vibrant blues of the tropics.

The 4K Blu-ray combo pack includes three bonus featurettes covering the production of the film.

The two-and-a-half-minute “An Extraordinary Vision” is a general behind-the-scenes view with filmmaker interviews. “Imax: Meet the Filmmakers” is a three-minute clip that focuses on training the astronauts to use the special Imax cameras. And “ADP Computing” is a two-and-a-half-minute profile of the visual effects team that enhanced some of the transition shots by creating a VR layout of the universe using actual data of the locations of stars and other stellar phenomena.

A Beautiful Planet

 

Imax’s ‘A Beautiful Planet’ and ‘Journey to the South Pacific’ in 4K and Complete ‘The Shield’ Series on Blu-ray Coming Dec. 11 from Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release two Imax-film 4K Combo Packs and the complete series of “The Shield” on Blu-ray Dec. 11.

Narrated by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence and coming in a 4K Combo Pack, A Beautiful Planet is an Imax portrait of Earth from space, providing a unique perspective and increased understanding of our planet and galaxy as never seen before. Made in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the film features stunning footage of the blue planet — and the effects humanity has had on it over time — captured by the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Narrated by Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett and also coming in a 4K Combo Pack, Journey to the South Pacific takes moviegoers on an Imax adventure to the lush tropical islands of remote West Papua, where life flourishes above and below the sea. Viewers join Jawi, a young island boy as he takes us on a journey of discovery, encountering whale sharks, sea turtles, manta rays and other iconic creatures of the sea. Home to more than 2,000 species of sea life, this exotic locale features the most diverse marine ecosystem on Earth.

Newly remastered in 4K and available for the first time on Blu-ray comes the complete series of the controversial and critically acclaimed “The Shield.” The series reinvented the police genre and featured an iconic television antihero, Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), a corrupt cop who runs his elite Strike Team under his own set of rules. New special features include a 2018 cast reunion with creator Shawn Ryan; a writers panel from the ATX Festival featuring Ryan, Kurt Sutter, Glen Mazzara, Scott Rosenbaum and Charles Eglee; and the “Beyond the Badge” retrospective. The set also includes previously released extras, including more than 10 hours of behind-the-scenes featurettes; cast and crew commentary on select episodes; and deleted scenes.

Red Sparrow

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Fox;
Thriller;
Box Office $46.83 million;
$29.99 DVD, 34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.
Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Joely Richardson, Ciarán Hinds, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons.

Based on the same-titled 2013 novel by Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow is a complex psychological thriller about the divided loyalties of a young woman caught amid the international intrigue of spycraft in Eastern Europe.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Dominika, whose career as a ballerina is cut short by a leg injury. She is quickly recruited by her uncle, a Russian spy chief, to train as an elite covert operative, lest she be executed for her knowledge of an assassination.

Her mission is to root out a mole in the Russian government by seducing his U.S. contact, Nash (Joel Edgerton). What follows are a series of plot twists and turns as Dominika maneuvers through a complicated game of espionage while her true allegiances remain a mystery.

The film is more or less a slow burn that really benefits from multiple viewings. Director Francis Lawrence even helps out with an audio commentary that dissects the storylines and delves into the motivations of the characters, if they aren’t already apparent from the performances.

The subplot of a secret spy school in the heart of Russia brings to mind the backstory for Marvel’s Black Widow, and in the absence of a long-anticipated solo movie for that character, Red Sparrow plays like a bit like an ersatz stand-in, minus the dozens of obligatory references to other comic book movies.

The Red Sparrow Blu-ray includes 12 minutes of interesting deleted scenes that can be viewed with option commentary from the director.

The disc also comes with more than 70 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes organized in standard fashion by the various aspects of the production. The 13-minute “A New Cold War: Origination and Adaptation” deals with the development of the film from the source material; “Agents Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast” is a 15-minute round-up of the actors; “Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity” covers the look of the film in 13-and-a-half minutes; “Heart of the Tempest: Locations” is an 11-minute piece about the film’s settings; the 12-minute “Welcome to Sparrow School: Ballets and Stunts” focuses on the action sequences, limited as they may be; and the 14-minute “A Puzzle of Need: Post-Production” deals with things like editing and music.

‘Red Sparrow’ Coming Out on Disc May 22

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has set a May 22 release date for Red Sparrow, a suspense-driven spy drama starring Jennifer Lawrence.

The film will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD.

As of April 15, Red Sparrow has earned $46.5 million in U.S. theaters.

Lawrence portrays Dominika, a former ballerina forced to enter Sparrow School, a secret government program that thrusts her into a treacherous espionage game between Russia and the CIA. She emerges trained as a lethal agent, but is trapped in a world she desperately wants to escape.

The film was directed by Francis Lawrence (Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2) and features a supporting cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts, Mary-Louise Parker, Charlotte Rampling and Joely Richardson. Bonus material takes viewers inside the making of the film, exploring source material with the author, cast and director commentary, deleted scenes and more.

All three disc releases comes with director commentary and deleted scenes (with optional commentary by director Lawrence). The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc also include the following:

  • “A New Cold War: Origination and Adaptation”
  • “Agents Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast”
  • “Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity”
  • “Heart of the Tempest: On Location”
  • “Welcome to Sparrow School: Ballet and Stunts”
  • “A Puzzle of Need: Post-Production”
  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code