‘Silent Night’ Available on Blu-ray, 4K Disc Jan. 30

Lionsgate will release the Christmas-themed actioner Silent Night on Blu-ray Disc (with DVD and digital) Jan. 30. A 4K Ultra HD with Blu-ray combo pack in Steelbook packaging will be available as a Walmart exclusive.

Joel Kinnaman stars as a tormented father who witnesses his young son die when caught in a gang’s crossfire on Christmas Eve. While recovering from a wound that costs him his voice, he makes vengeance his life’s mission and embarks on a punishing training regimen in order to avenge his son’s death.

The cast also includes Scott Mescudi, Harold Torres and Catalina Sandino Moreno. Directed by John Woo, the film earned $8 million at the domestic box office.

Extras include a “Louder Than Words” featurette and the film’s theatrical trailer.

 

For All Mankind: Season 4

STREAMING REVIEW:

Apple TV+;
Sci-Fi;
Not rated.
Stars Joel Kinnaman, Krys Marshall, Coral Peña, Cynthy Wu, Edi Gathegi, Toby Kebbell, Tyner Rushing, Daniel Stern, Svetlana Efremova, Wrenn Schmidt.

One fascinating aspect of the alternate history series “For All Mankind” is tracking how much more the show delves into its science-fiction elements as the stories move further away from the fictional timeline’s divergence from our own reality.

The original “what if” premise of the series was to explore what would have happened with the American space program had the Soviet Union somehow won the race to land on the moon. The first season, taking place primarily in the early 1970s, pushed forward an answer that we simply would have raised the stakes of the Space Race, to not just land on the moon, but establish permanent bases there. The result was a sort of “Mad Men” in space that featured a mixture of fictional characters and real historical figures, while providing subtle social commentary by using the speculated changes in world events and political attitudes to shine a light back upon our own reality. The depiction of technology wasn’t too far astray from what actually existed at the time.

Season two, set in the early 1980s, and season three, set in the mid 1990s, continued to put this formula to excellent dramatic effect. Season two transferred escalating Cold War tensions to each side expanding their presence on the lunar surface, leading into season three’s race to be the first to land on Mars. In the show’s timeline, advancements in space sped up technological innovation by years if not decades, while ship and space station designs reflected ideas that in our reality never made it past the drawing board due to funding cuts.

But with its space hotels and Martian landers, the “For All Mankind” reality began to resemble what sci-fi movies and TV shows from 50 years ago such as 2001: A Space Odyssey had imagined the future would look like.

Season four thus gives the show a chance to pay off not only three seasons’ worth of story and character development, but 30 years of in-universe historical advancement. Set in 2003, the season finds the various spacefaring nations of the world and the mega-corporation Helios involved in a cooperative effort to manage Happy Valley, the first human settlement on Mars. The discovery of a mineral-rich asteroid passing through the solar system spawns an objective to attempt to capture it, but the intricacies of planning the mission expose years of dormant tensions between numerous factions on both planets.

Culture on Mars has developed a social hierarchy separating the administrators and the labor force, giving the season something of a Metropolis vibe.

The strength of the show’s writing is how it presents a situation, and then throws its established characters into the room to bounce off each other to see how the plot finds a resolution. It makes for compelling drama that pays off in a number of unexpected ways.

The season finale, which becomes available Jan. 12, provides not only a satisfying capper to the first four seasons of the show, but sets up exciting possibilities for the series should it continue into season five and beyond.

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The Suicide Squad

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/26/21;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $55.8 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity.
Stars Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Alice Braga, Peter Capaldi, Taika Waititi, Jai Courtney, Nathan Fillion, Flula Borg, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, Jennifer Holland, Sylvester Stallone, Dee Bradley Baker.

Writer-director James Gunn’s subversive follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad resets the franchise by embracing the absurdity inherent in comic book movies.

Like its predecessor, The Suicide Squad is based on the DC Comics series about a team of supervillains who are blackmailed into conducting black ops for the American government through the threat of an explosive chip in their head. The 2016 edition, while a financial success, was panned by critics and audiences after it was infamously re-edited by a trailer company into essentially a series of vignettes set to popular music, trying to capture some of the magic that made Guardians of the Galaxy work so well.

So, for the sequel, DC just brought in Gunn, writer-director of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. The hire came shortly after Gunn was fired by Marvel over some questionable tweets in his past, only to be re-hired for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which he’s working on now.

The Suicide Squad is just another example of why he’s such a good fit for these kinds of movies: a keen understanding of the source material, and a willingness to poke fun at it without undermining the credibility of the story. Here, Gunn assembles a team of some of the silliest comic book concepts ever created, gives their characters emotional depth, and makes it all work.

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This is one of the bloodiest comic book movies ever made, but also one of the funniest, with Gunn expertly finding the balance between the two extremes, beginning with an absolutely insane opening sequence that will leave audiences without a clue of what to expect from this movie.

The story involves the team heading to a tropical island to dispose of a top secret project before the new military dictatorship can expose U.S. involvement in its development. Idris Elba grounds the mission as Bloodsport, a weapons expert. He has a bit of a rivalry with the team’s other weapons expert, Peacemaker (John Cena), as they try to outdo each other running up the movie’s body count. With his earnest penchant for killing anything that stands in his way to achieve “peace,” Peacemaker would seem to be Gunn’s metaphor for American foreign policy (though Gunn found the character appealing enough to write an eight-episode TV spinoff about him, set to debut on HBO Max in 2022).

Other standouts on the team include King Shark, literally a walking, talking man-eating shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone; Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior), who uses her deceased father’s technology to control the minds of rats; Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), who was experimented on by his mother with an interdimensional virus that gives him the power to expel dots of deadly energy; and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), one of the few holdovers from the first movie, along with team commander Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the government agent who will detonate their heads if they disobey her.

Like the first movie, the sequel has plenty of songs, but thanks to Gunn, they are well integrated into the structure of the film, rather than seemingly played at random.

The Suicide Squad is fun, vibrant and visually distinctive like a graphic novel come to life, though its hard-‘R’ sensibilities may not appeal to everybody.

The Blu-ray edition of The Suicide Squad comes loaded with hours of insightful bonus material about the making of the film, including a good solo commentary with Gunn.

There are also about 17 minutes of deleted scenes that don’t amount to much, so it’s easy to see why they were cut.

Also included are three fun retro trailers done in the style of 1960s war movies, 1970s horror movies and 1980s buddy cop movies.

The regular Blu-ray Disc of the film contains all the extras. The 4K disc includes just the commentary and one featurette, a seven-minute breakdown of Harley Quinn’s violent escape sequence.

Originally published as a streaming review Aug. 9, 2021.