‘Marksman,’ ‘Justice Society’ Headline May 11 Blu-ray and DVD New-Release Slate

May 11 sees Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releasing its new animated superhero movie Justice Society: World War II on Blu-ray, while The Marksman leads a slew of new DVD and Blu-ray titles from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Marksman is an action-thriller starring Liam Neeson as an ex-Marine and hardened Arizona rancher whose desire to be left alone is upended when he witnesses an 11-year-old migrant and his mother fleeing from a band of assassins sent by a ruthless drug cartel. After being caught in a shoot-out, the boy’s mother begs him to take her son to the safety of their family in Chicago, so the pair hit the road and forge an unlikely friendship, while the cartel’s relentless assassins blaze a bloody trail after them. The film is available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD after earning $15.6 million at the domestic box office.

Justice Society: World War II

Warner’s direct-to-video Justice Society: World War II, based on the DC Comics characters, arrives on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 11, following an April 27 digital release. The 42nd entry in the DC Universe line of animated movies finds The Flash (voiced by Matt Bomer), prior to the formation of the Justice League, speeding back in time to find the Golden Age’s top superhero team, the Justice Society of America, locked in an epic battle against the Nazis. The disc release also includes the new DC Showcase animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Read a review here.

STX Films’ The Mauritanian arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD from Universal Pictures following a premium VOD run. Directed by Kevin Macdonald, The Mauritanian is based on the book Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. It’s the true story of Slahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years. Alone and afraid, Slahi (Tahar Rahim) finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) who battle the U.S. Government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), uncovers shocking truths.

The drama Land, starring and directed by Robin Wright, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD May 11 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, following an April 27 digital release. From acclaimed actress Wright (Wonder Woman, “House of Cards”) comes her feature film directorial debut, the story of one woman’s search for meaning in the vast and harsh American wilderness. Edee (Wright), in the aftermath of an unfathomable event, finds herself unable to stay connected to the world she once knew, and in the face of that uncertainty, retreats to the magnificent, but unforgiving, wilds of the Rockies. After a local hunter (Demian Bichir, The Hateful Eight, “Weeds”) brings her back from the brink of death, she must find a way to live again.

The Saban Films feature Pixie comes out on DVD May 11 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film is already available on digital and on demand. Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) and Alec Baldwin (The Departed) star in this crime story set in Ireland. On a path to avenge her mother’s death, Pixie Hardy (Cooke) attempts a heist that will give her the means to leave her small-town life behind.  When the plan goes horribly wrong, she’s forced to team up with a pair of misfits who are clearly in over their heads. On the run from an organized gang — criminal priests and nuns, led by Father McGrath (Baldwin) — the trio will scheme and swindle anyone they come across in this hilarious and thrilling adventure.

The Paraguayan horror film Morgue will comes out on digital, Blu-ray and DVD May 11 from Well Go USA Entertainment. In the supernatural thriller, after a harrowing accident, a down-on-his-luck security guard accepts a promising new gig at the local morgue. He gets locked in and eerie occurrences (and a not-quite-lifeless body) leave him to wonder: how much otherworldly rage does it take to wake the dead? A huge breakout hit in its home country, the film is — according to first-time writer/director Hugo Cardozo — based on real events.

The documentary Her Name Is Chef arrives on DVD May 11 from Virgil Films. It was released for digital sale April 27. The feature documentary explores the changing of gender roles in restaurant kitchens built around the tragic story of “Top Chef” fan favorite Fatima Ali. Her Name is Chef showcases the stories of six talented, inspiring, females of the kitchen. Each shares their triumphs in cutting through the clichés of the restaurant industry and explores how they broke down the doors to earn the title of chef. Host Leia Gaccione sits down with Elizabeth Falkner, Fatima Ali, Hillary Sterling, Esther Choi, Juliet Masters and Caroline Schiff.

Screen Media May 11 releases the romantic comedy Senior Moment, which stars William Shatner as a retired NASA test pilot often seen speeding around Palm Springs in his vintage Porsche convertible with his best friend Sal (Christopher Lloyd) in tow. His life changes when his license is revoked for drag racing and his car impounded. Forced to take public transportation for the first time, he meets his polar opposite Caroline (Jean Smart) and learns to navigate love and life again as he goes up against the state’s new DA to get back his license and car.

Available for digital purchase starting May 11 is the comedic drama French Exit, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD June 15 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Pfeiffer plays a penniless Manhattan socialite who cashes in the last of her possessions and resolves to live out her twilight days anonymously in a borrowed apartment in Paris.

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Among catalog releases, the first-ever Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature, Shrek, celebrates its 20th anniversary with its debut in a 4K Ultra HD combo pack (including Blu-ray and digital) May 11 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The film will also be available separately on Blu-ray and DVD.

Indie distributor Shout! Factory’s horror imprint, Scream Factory, is releasing a collector’s edition of the 1976 King Kong remake for the first time in North America May 11. The updated ’70s version from producer Dino De Laurentiis and director John Guillermin features scheming oil company executive Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin) raiding an exotic island to harvest its resources despite the warnings of Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges), a scientist who sneaks aboard their ship. The expedition also encounters an aspiring actress named Dwan (Jessica Lange in her first film role), who escaped from a wrecked yacht. Upon reaching the island, they discover the giant ape Kong, and use his infatuating with Dwan to capture him with the intent of bringing him to America and cash in by putting him on display. When Kong escapes and rampages throughout New York City, Jack and Dwan devise a plan for the beauty to subdue the beast at the top of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Scream Factory’s two-disc Blu-ray set will include both the 134-minute theatrical cut with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio and a newly restored DTS-HD 2.0 theatrical stereo track; and the extended 182-minute TV broadcast version with a new 2K scan of the additional TV footage from the internegative. Among several new extras, the theatrical cut disc will include a new audio commentary with film historian Ray Morton, author of King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon.

The Criterion Collection May 11 releases a new collector’s edition of 1982 comedy classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. The new edition features a 4K digital restoration supervised by director Amy Heckerling, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. The restoration includes the inclusion of full frontal male nudity that had to be trimmed from the original theatrical release for the film to avoid an ‘X’ rating. The disc also includes a new interview with Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe, plus the TV cut of the film, in addition to several legacy extras.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Justice Society: World War II

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/11/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and some bloody images.
Voices of Stana Katic, Matt Bomer, Omid Abtahi, Geoffrey Arend, Chris Diamantopoulos, Matthew Mercer, Liam McIntyre, Elysia Rotaru, Armen Taylor, Darren Criss.

The plot mechanics that presumably served as the jumping off point for Justice Society: World War II ultimately cause the latest DC Universe animated movie to struggle to become a satisfying standalone adventure.

The film starts off in modern times, with Barry Allen (Matt Bomer) interrupting a picnic with his girlfriend to become the Flash and help Superman hold off an attempt by Brainiac to invade Metropolis. The battle ends up opening a rift that sends the Flash to World War II, where he encounters the Justice Society of America, the team of the greatest superheroes of that era (known in comic book lingo as the Golden Age).

They are led by the ageless Wonder Woman (Stana Katic, effectively laying on her best Gal Gadot accent). But the team also includes the Golden Age version of the Flash, Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor), allowing the iconic speedsters of two eras to meet each other.

As Barry works to figure out how to get home, he agrees to help the JSA on their mission, which involves stopping Hitler from collecting mystical artifacts (a nice nod to Indiana Jones), and leads them to uncover a Nazi plot involving the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, ruled by Aquaman (Liam McIntyre).

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The film is loaded with some great animated action sequences, nice character dynamics and some intriguing plot twists. But what could have been a good period piece about Golden Age comic book characters during WWII gets sidetracked by the question of why the future Flash had to be involved for the story to work.

Turns out there are a couple of reasons for it, and it has more to do with franchise building and comic book history than servicing the story (or, at the very least, the story that they appear to be telling).

Based on a half-hour roundtable with the filmmakers included on the Blu-ray, the genesis for the film seems to be adapting the classic 1961 comic book story called “Flash of Two Worlds,” which is generally credited with establishing the idea of a comic book multiverse. That story, by Flash creator Gardner Fox, was a fun, meta examination of the nature of comic book storytelling. A number of characters from the Golden Age (roughly the 1940s through the mid 1950s) had been either retired or redesigned heading into the Silver Age (mid-1950s through the 1960s). The Flash was one of the ones redesigned for a new audience, switching from the maskless, helmeted Jay Garrick to the red-suited Barry Allen we still know today. “Flash of Two Worlds” saw Barry Allen’s Flash cross into the dimension where Garrick had been the Flash 20 years earlier, putting the two on an adventure together. The multiverse was significant in that it freed writers from adhering to established continuity when it no longer made sense due to the passage of time (e.g., Superman and Batman supposedly being the same age in the 1960s as they were when they were created in the 1930s), while allowing them to honor the legacies of characters from the eras in which they were introduced.

So, building a version of “Flash of Two Worlds” into a movie then begins with the concept of sending Barry Allen into Jay Garrick’s time. Which then requires the filmmakers to develop Garrick and his era.

The other factor that seems to have influenced this movie is that it’s apparently set in the same continuity as 2020’s Superman: Man of Tomorrow. The animation styles are similar and Darren Criss voices Superman in both movies. So, that makes the two films an early attempt to establish a new DC shared animated universe, and uses the story of Barry Allen meeting the JSA to inspire him to help build the team of modern heroes that will be known as the Justice League for future movies.

Otherwise, the Golden Age trappings are just a great excuse to either revisit characters that don’t get as much screentime anymore, or look at familiar characters through a different lens.

This just leads back to the idea of the JSA fighting Nazis being a strong enough premise on its own without the Flash framing device pulling focus from it. Of course, time will tell if future movies pay off some of the story threads introduced here in a way that reframes how this particular movie ends up being perceived.

The filmmaker roundtable is a fun watch and a nice departure from the usual talking-heads featurettes usually included with the DC animation Blu-rays. The format provides for a fun conversation about exploring different superheroes and bringing their stories to life through animation in a way that both satisfies the curiosities of the writer and entertains the audience.

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The Blu-ray also includes the two-part “Legends” episode of the “Justice League” animated series which tells the same basic story — the Flash and some other Justice League team members are sent to an alternate dimension where they encounter another superhero team that is eerily similar to yet slightly different from their own.

The other notable inclusion on the Blu-ray is the 18-minute animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. This is a fun adventure set in an apocalyptic future that begins with some clever nods to Planet of the Apes. Kamandi is a teenager trying to survive in a world in which humans are gone and animals have evolved into walking, talking tribes. A clan of apes captures Kamandi and some of this friends and subjects them to a series of tests, hoping to find the reincarnation of the great warrior who shaped the world after the fall of society. Kamandi’s backstory (created by the legendary Jack Kirby) and the world of humanoid animals give the short the feeling of a classic 1980s Saturday morning cartoon.

Rounding out the extras are previews for other DC animated movies, including the upcoming Batman: The Long Halloween.

Animated DC Universe Movie ‘Justice Society: World War II’ Arriving Digitally April 27, on Disc May 11

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the DC Comics-based animated superhero movie Justice Society: World War II for digital sellthrough April 27, and on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 11.

The 42nd entry in the DC Universe line of animated movies finds The Flash (voiced by Matt Bomer), prior to the formation of the Justice League, speeding back in time to find the Golden Age’s top superhero team, the Justice Society of America, locked in an epic battle against the Nazis.

Led by Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), the group includes Hourman (Matthew Mercer), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru), Hawkman (Omid Abtahi), Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos) and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor).

The voice cast also includes Geoffrey Arend as Charles Halstead/Advisor, Liam McIntyre as Aquaman, Keith Ferguson as Dr. Fate, Ashleigh LaThrop as Iris West, and Darin De Paul as Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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The home video release also includes the new DC Showcase animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! The character created by the legendary Jack Kirby comes to life as Kamandi, the last civilized teenage boy on a post-apocalyptic Earth ruled by talking animals, and his friends Prince Tuftan of the Tiger Kingdom and humanoid mutant Ben Boxer are kidnapped by a gorilla cult dedicated to finding the reincarnation of their god. Golgan, the cult’s leader, puts Kamandi’s team through a series of deadly tests to find if any of them know the secret of The Mighty One.

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Other bonus materials include the featurette “Adventures in Storytelling: Justice Society: World War II,” in which the film’s creative minds chat about making the film; bonus episodes of the “Justice League” animated series, “Legends, Part One” and “Legends, Part Two”; a sneak peek at the next DC Universe movie, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One; and previously released preview featurettes about the earlier DC movies Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.