Special Offer From ‘MPN’ and Lionsgate: Digital Code Giveaway to Titles Including ‘Bombshell’ for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, Lionsgate and Media Play News are offering the first five readers who comment on this story ON INSTAGRAM and follow MPN on Instagram free digital codes for one of five movies: Bombshell, Judy, A Simple Favor, The Hunger Games and The Spy Who Dumped Me.

You can follow us on Instagram and see the story post here.

Title choice will be based on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Margot Robbie (left) and Kate McKinnon in Bombshell

Bombshell was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Actress (Charlize Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie), and won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker). Theron, Nicole Kidman, Robbie and John Lithgow (as Roger Ailes) star in the film based on the real story of three ambitious, strong women who anchored one of America’s most powerful news networks, Fox News, becoming headlines themselves when they risked everything to stand up to the man who made them famous. The film also stars Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Allison Janney. Bonus features include a seven-part, making-of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew.

Judy

The Judy Garland biopic Judy stars Oscar winner Renee Zellweger as Garland, 30 years after rising to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, arriving in London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. While preparing for the shows, Garland battles with management, reminisces with friends and adoring fans, and embarks on a whirlwind romance with soon-to-be fifth husband Mickey Deans — all while struggling to overcome anxiety and physical decline. Shedding light on Garland’s final years, the film features perfomances of some of her best-known songs, such as “Over the Rainbow,” “For Once In My Life” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” The cast also includes Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon. Extras include the theatrical trailer, an image gallery and the featurette “From the Heart: The Making of Judy.

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A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor stars Anna Kendrick (Pitch PerfectTrolls) and Blake Lively (The ShallowsThe Age of Adaline, TV’s “Gossip Girl”) in a thriller from director Paul Feig (BridesmaidsGhostbusters, TV’s “Freaks and Geek,” TV’s “The Office”) based on the novel by Darcey Bell. The film also stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), Andrew Rannells (TV’s “Girls,” TV’s “The Knick”), Linda Cardellini (TV’s “Freaks and Geeks,” Hunter Killer) and Rupert Friend (TV’s “Homeland”). The story follows Stephanie (Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Golding). Special features  include three audio commentaries with the cast and crew, eight making-of featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes, and an alternate ending.

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon in The Spy Who Dumped Me.

The comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, follows Audrey (Kunis) and Morgan (McKinnon), two 30-year-old best friends in Los Angeles who are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Also starring in the film are Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train, TV’s “The Leftovers”), Hasan Minhaj (TV’s “The Daily Show”) and Sam Heughan (TV’s “Outlander”). Special features include deleted scenes, outtakes and four making-of featurettes.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence in a dystopian story based on the book series. In the film, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the 12 Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

Netflix Lands New Jennifer Lawrence Movie

Jennifer Lawrence is back in the movies. Netflix has acquired the rights to writer-director Adam McKay’s comedy Don’t Look Up, with Lawrence set to star. The movie tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching asteroid that will destroy planet Earth.

McKay, who has written the script, will direct and produce under his Hyperobject Industries banner. McKay’s most recent feature, Vice, went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations. In 2016, McKay won the Oscar, BAFTA and WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay with his co-writer Charles Randolph for The Big Short.

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Lawrence won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. She has been nominated for three additional Oscars for Joy, American Hustle and Winter’s Bone.

She recently wrapped production on director Lila Neugebauer’s untitled film for A24 and Scott Rudin Productions, in which she stars and produced alongside Justine Polsky under their production banner, Excellent Cadaver.

Following Don’t Look Up, she will star in and produce Mob Girl to be directed by Paolo Sorrentino for Universal Pictures through Excellent Cadaver’s first-look film deal and partnership with Makeready.

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“I’m so thrilled to make this movie with Jen Lawrence,” McKay said in a statement. “She’s what folks in the 17th century used to call ‘a dynamite act.’ And the fact that Netflix sees this movie as a worldwide comedy sets the bar high for me and my team in an exciting and motivating way.”

Scott Stuber, head of Netflix films, said McKay has always had great timing when it comes to making smart, relevant and irreverent films that depict current culture.

“Even if he somehow ends up predicting planet Earth’s imminent demise, we’re excited to add this to our slate before it all comes to an end,” Stuber joked.

Principal photography will commence on Don’t Look Up in April. Netflix will release the film later this year.

 

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Fox;
Action;
Box Office $65.85 million;
$29.99 DVD, $37.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language.
Stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jessica Chastain.

With Dark Phoenix, the Fox era of “X-Men” movies comes to an end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Of course, looking back at the franchise, while it has left its mark on the landscape of superhero cinema, the films have never really been the most consistent in terms of quality. And a lot of that might owe to the filmmakers’ dubious relationship with not just the source material, but the other films in the franchise as well.

Some have been standouts — X2, Days of Future Past, Deadpool and Logan being the biggest highlights on most lists — and some, such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, were forgettable enough that even the film that used time travel to reset the timeline ignored it.

Going in, the 12th “X-Men” movie, Dark Phoenix, had a few factors to overcome. It would be following up the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse with a first-time director, Simon Kinberg, albeit someone who was at least familiar with the franchise having written several of the previous films. And it would be coming out amid Disney’s takeover of the Fox studio, meaning that future “X-Men” movies would likely come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and feature a whole new cast and creative team and have nothing to do with the Fox movies. That lack of a narrative future combined with the release date for Dark Phoenix getting pushed back further and further left an impression that it was more of a remnant of a bygone era than an entry audiences could really care about.

In that regard, at least it made it to theaters. Fox also left over a New Mutants film that still needs a final polish if it is to ever see the light of day.

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Even so, the signs are evident within Dark Phoenix of a franchise on its last legs even without the intrigue of inter-studio transition (much of this carrying over from Apocalypse).

For his part, Kinberg wanted a second chance to take on the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” one of the most famous “X-Men” storylines from the comics, and one that was adapted somewhat in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, which Kinberg co-wrote. But where it was just one of several storylines serving that muddied third “X-Men” movie, the reboot that came with Days of Future Past would allow Kinberg to spend an entire movie on it.

Dark Phoenix also picks up the tradition begun in 2011’s First Class of setting subsequent “X-Men” movies in a new decade. So the action picks up in 1992, nine years after the events of Apocalypse. Now seen by the world as heroes, the X-Men conduct a mission to rescue a space shuttle crew from a mysterious space cloud, which ends up being absorbed by Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).

The power contained within the cloud ends up unlocking hidden secrets involving Jean, which puts her at odds with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the rest of the X-Men. As she sets out on her own, she is pursued by an alien leader (Jessica Chastain) who wants the power for herself.

So in that description lies the elements for a big, sprawling epic — space adventure, mysterious superpowers, alien invasions. And yet, instead of going big, Kinberg chooses to go small, trimming the potential for more world-building in favor of focusing on Jean’s personal struggles to deal with her new abilities and what that means to Charles. And the aliens are treated as little more than another nuisance for the mutants to handle, rather than the film realizing that this is the first time these films have had to deal with cosmic matters.

This could have been the Avengers: Endgame of Fox’s “X-Men” franchise, but its scope is so limited it ends up feeling more like a direct-to-video sequel.

According to Kinberg in both the feature-length commentary and several behind-the-scenes featurettes, this was by design, as the constraints of a psychological drama more more appealing to the kind of director he wanted to be. So while it’s very much the film he wanted to make, and any director would still have had his script as a starting point, the question of whether his directorial sensibilities were the right fit will always loom over the final product. (And, to be fair, the question of who else they could have gotten to direct also is fair, especially considering how much of a Hollywood pariah franchise stalwart Bryan Singer turned out to be.)

A couple of other factors contribute to the film’s sense of disconnect from the rest of the franchise. First, despite the time jump from the previous film, there is very little sense of character development in the interim. The team is the same as it was at the end of the previous movie, and any new characters are reduced to little more than fan service cameos (a complaint that could be lodged against a number of the previous movies too). Kinberg in one of the featurettes mentions thinking of this film as more of a reboot with the same cast, rather than a continuation of previously established plot threads. This isn’t the first time this kind of approach seems to have been applied to the “X” movies, as numerous potential story points and character relationships are hinted at only to be ignored later, it does seem more in force with Dark Phoenix, which is a shame.

And while musical consistency has never been a strength of this franchise, the previous “X” movies at least demonstrated a musical progression through the themes that composer John Ottman originally introduced in X2. All of that is abandoned here though in favor of the generic synth tones of Hans Zimmer and his musical score factory. It serves Kinberg’s low-key approach but does nothing for sparking the sense of nostalgia this film could have used to send this particular iteration of the franchise out on a higher note.

Of course, getting pushed to a summer release date didn’t do Dark Phoenix any favors, as it simply invited comparisons to Endgame, which traded heavily on its sense of nostalgia for the characters, especially in how it presented the music for them.

The important lesson here is that in adapting a particular comic book storyline into a long-running series (films or TV), is that the ongoing storylines should be serviced by, not sacrificed to the adaptation. The movie, show or franchise still needs to stand on its own, and the best adaptations are able to appease both longtime fans of the material and new viewers unfamiliar with it, often by adhering to the spirit of the work if not a literal re-creation of it.

That doesn’t mean Dark Phoenix is unwatchable. Just the notion of revisiting the “Dark Phoenix Saga” makes the film a curio, if only to compare it to The Last Stand. And make no mistake, there are quite a few echoes of that previous film here.

In addition, there are plenty of dazzling visual effects when the film bothers with them, and the film looks great, particularly during the shuttle rescue sequence.

And it’s still good to see the cast return, even if the story isn’t quite sure how best to utilize them. Ultimately, the film does provide enough of a sense of closure to the Fox era, particularly the four films of the “First Class” continuity.

The Blu-ray is also fascinating in how the bonus materials demonstrate the clear disconnect between how the film unfolds in the filmmakers’ minds, and what it ended up being.

In addition to Kinberg’s commentary (shared with producer Hutch Parker), the Blu-ray also includes three-and-a-half minutes of deleted scenes that mostly offer redundant information to what’s established in the film, but also provide an alternate ending of sorts.

The centerpiece of the extras is the five-part documentary “Rise of the Phoenix: The Making of Dark Phoenix,” which runs about 81 minutes in total and offers a comprehensive view of the production. Supplementing it is a 13-minute scene-breakdown of the creation of a battle on New York’s 5th Avenue (re-created on a stage in Montreal).

Rounding out the package is a lighthearted two-minute video of Beast (Nicholas Hoult) teaching viewers how to fly the X-Jet.

 

 

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”
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