Catwoman: Hunted

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Warner;
Animated;
$24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, bloody images and suggestive material.
Voices of Elizabeth Gilles, Stephanie Beatriz, Lauren Cohan, Kelly Hu, Jonathan Banks, Keith David, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Jonathan Frakes.

The anime-inspired Catwoman: Hunted puts its title character in the middle of a jazzy crime caper, manipulating her way through a cadre of DC Comics characters, none of which is Batman. It’s a fun, sexy ride despite its convoluted plot. And it remembers that there is more than one cat-themed character hanging around the DC universe.

The story involves Catwoman (Elizabeth Gilles) crashing a costume party of gangsters connected to the Leviathan crime syndicate in order to steal a valuable jewel. Though her attempt is eventually thwarted by Batwoman (Stephanie Beatriz), Catwoman is ensnared in a globe-trotting Interpol operation to take down Leviathan’s leadership.

The Blu-ray includes two featurettes. The 19-minute “When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted” is an interesting piece that briefly explores the popularity of Catwoman before diving into how the filmmakers crafted the movie around her. The 40-minute “Catwoman: The Femme Fatale” is a good mini-documentary, originally released online last year, about the history of the character in comics, video games, TV shows and movies, infused with archival interviews with many of the actresses who played her.

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Cruella

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Comedy;
Box Office $86.1 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some violence and thematic elements.
Stars Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Water Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mark Strong, John McCrea, Kayvan Novak.

The visually spectacular Cruella offers a fun, comedic take on the origins of one of Disney’s most enduring villains.

Emma Stone sinks her teeth into the title character, the younger version of Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians, though the film is more of a reboot than a direct prequel to any of the previously filmed versions of the story.

In the film, Cruella begins as Estella, a trouble-making young girl who gets kicked out of school, forcing her mother to seek financial help from a wealthy patron. When a serious of unfortunate events leaves her mother dead in an accident at the patron’s estate, Estella is left orphaned on the streets of London, where she meets young Jasper and Horace, her future henchmen. The trio turn to grifting to get by, aided by Estella’s innate flair for fashion design.

Hoping to help her realize her dreams, Jasper and Horace arrange for Estella to get a job at a local department store, where her talents get her recruited by the Baroness (Emma Thompson), a famed yet unpleasant fashion designer. When Estella realizes that the Baroness is the patron her mother was seeing, and was responsible for her death, she vows revenge by organizing the greatest con of all — taking over her fashion empire by becoming the trendy Cruella — an up-and-coming designer who performs outrageous stunts to promote herself and upstage the Baroness’ fashion shows.

Set against the backdrop of the 1970s punk rock scene, Cruella perfectly captures the rebellious vibe of the era, while also laying the groundwork for its own future version of the 101 Dalmatians story.

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The Blu-ray edition contains two relatively insubstantial deleted scenes that run about a minute each, plus a two-minute blooper reel and more than 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

The best one for Disney fans is the three-and-a-half-minute “Cruella 101,” which covers the history of the character and how Cruella references the animated film.

Other featurettes include the 10-minute “Cruella Couture,” about the films’ eccentric costumes; the six-minute “New Dogs … Old Tricks,” which deals with the animals in the film; the five-and-a-half-minute “The Sidekick Angle,” about Jasper and Horace; the 11-minute “The Two Emmas,” which focuses on the interplay between the two lead actresses; and the six-and-a-half-minute “The World of Cruella,” about the film’s locations.