Men in Black: International

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

 Street Date 9/3/19;
Sony Pictures;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office: $79.66 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson.

The fourth film in the “Men in Black” franchise was supposed to freshen up the franchise with a new cast and creative team. But old habits are hard to break, and Men in Black: International ends up coming across as a bland rehash of the formula established by the original film.

It’s not the fault of the cast, who are doing their best to milk laughs out of the material. And the film looks great, with all the weird aliens, slick gadgets and kooky visual effects one would expect from a “Men in Black” movie.

The issue is that the “MIB” movies don’t seem concerned with the kind of worldbuilding needed to create a viable sci-fi mythology, like establishing a set of rules for how things work. Instead they rely on familiar gags and situations that hint at a bigger picture but ultimately don’t yield many consequences for the characters or the fictional organization they work for that is tasked with secretly defending the Earth from intergalactic threats.

The fourth film kicks off with not one but two flashbacks. In one, a young girl witnesses her parents’ memories erased by MIB agents, causing her to become obsessed with learning the secrets of the organization, which she finally stumbles upon decades later and earns a chance to prove herself as an agent. Played as an adult by Tessa Thompson, she’s dubbed agent M and assigned to the London branch, where MIB boss O (Emma Thompson) thinks something’s not quite right with the operation.

The London branch is run by High T (Liam Neeson), who a few years earlier (in the other flashback) joined agent H (Chris Hemsworth) in fighting off an alien invader named The Hive, and once you hear why they’re called that it pretty much telegraphs every potential plot twist in the movie.

Anyway, back in the present, M and H work together to investigate a potential new threat from the Hive, involving a pair of alien assassins who are looking for a superweapon on Earth, taking them on an adventure through exotic locales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth work well together, as we’ve seen in the “Thor” and “Avengers” movies. But their pairing here seems more an attempt to coast off that buzz than come up with fresh ideas.

The shift to London, the globetrotting story and addition of Hemsworth as a suave secret agent are undoubtedly meant to give the film a “James Bond meets Men in Black” vibe, which might have been better served if the film embraced the tone such a mashup would imply, rather than lazily resorting to the familiar buddy cop vs. aliens boilerplate we’ve seen before.

The bonus materials on the Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions mostly reinforce the notion that this is merely the next iteration of a familiar franchise, with a half-hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes about the cast, stunts, production design and gadgets showing how “MIB” is being taken to the next level. But nostalgia isn’t left behind, as there’s a three-minute video recapping the earlier movies.

There’s also a bizarre three-minute NBA crossover video in which M and H discover a number of top NBA superstars are actually aliens. While these were produced as promos for the NBA playoffs around the time of the film’s theatrical run, without that context they play more as a prequel for a “Space Jam”-type movie.

The home video editions also come with a two-minute gag reel.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray are 11-and-a-half minutes of deleted scenes, some of which shed new light on elements in the movie. There’s also a pair of amusing faux commercials for “MIB”-style products, one for a consumer-approved memory-wiping neuralyzer, and another for a parody ancestry website for people to discover their alien heritage. However, the Alien-cestry.com URL just leads back to the Sony Pictures home page.

‘The Upside’ Again Tops Redbox Charts

Universal’s The Upside again climbed to the top of both the Redbox disc rental and digital charts for the week ended June 2.

The comedy, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, took the No. 1 spot on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, as well as the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals. The film follows an out-of-work ex-con and a wealthy quadriplegic who unexpectedly come together and help each other. It made $108.3 million at the box office.

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Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Warner’s Isn’t It Romantic, also repeated at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on the disc chart. Meanwhile, Romantic repeated at No. 2 and Dragon fell one spot to No. 4 on the digital chart for the week.

Lionsgate’s actioner Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson as a snow plow driver who seeks revenge against the drug lords who killed his son, stayed in the fourth spot on the disc chart and climbed one spot to No. 3 on the digital chart.

Two new releases debuted on the disc chart for the week. Lionsgate/Quiver’s Drunk Parents, starring Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek, landed at No. 5, and Universal’s horror thriller Greta, starring Isabelle Huppert and Chloe Grace Moretz, came in at No. 8. It earned $10.5 million in theaters. Greta also landed at No. 10 on the digital chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended June 2:

  1. The Upside — Universal
  2. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — Universal
  3. Isn’t It Romantic — Warner
  4. Cold Pursuit— Lionsgate
  5. Drunk Parents — Lionsgate/Quiver
  6. Fighting With My Family— Universal
  7. What Men Want— Paramount
  8. Greta — Universal
  9. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part — Warner
  10. Aquaman — Warner

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended June 2:

  1. The Upside — STX
  2. Isn’t It Romantic — Warner
  3. Cold Pursuit — Lionsgate
  4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World— Universal
  5. What Men Want — Paramount
  6. Glass — Universal
  7. Aquaman — Warner
  8. The Mule — Warner
  9. John Wick — Lionsgate
  10. Greta — Universal

‘The Upside’ Climbs to Top of FandangoNow Chart

The comedy The Upside was the top film purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 19.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

The Universal film stars Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston as an out-of-work ex-con and a wealthy quadriplegic who unexpectedly come together and help each other bring back their zest for life. It earned $108.2 million in theaters.

Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson, jumped up two spots to No. 2. In the film, which earned $32 million at the box office, Neeson plays a grieving snowplow driver who seeks revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son.

Taking the third spot was Universal’s Fighting With My Family, a comedy about World Wrestling Entertainment star Paige featuring Dwayne Johnson. It made $23 million in theaters.

Another Universal title, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the series about a boy and his dragon, dropped two spots to No. 4. It made $160 million at the box office.

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Boosted by the May 17 theatrical debut of the third installment in the Lionsgate series, the double feature of John Wick and John Wick 2, starring Keanu Reeves as a hitman out for revenge, jumped five spots to No. 5 on the week’s chart.

Entering the chart at No. 10 was Universal’s horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U. The follow-up to 2017’s Happy Death Day earned $28 million at the box office.

The top 10 films purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 19 were:

  1. The Upside (Universal)
  2. Cold Pursuit * (Lionsgate)
  3. Fighting With My Family (Universal)
  4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World * (Universal)
  5. John Wickand John Wick: Chapter 2 (Double Feature) * (Lionsgate)
  6. What Men Want* (Paramount)
  7. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part* (Warner)
  8. Glass* (Universal)
  9. Aquaman * (Warner)
  10. Happy Death Day 2U* (Universal)

*Available in 4K

‘Cold Pursuit’ Unleashed Atop Disc Sales Chart

Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, the week ended May 18.

The film, which stars Liam Neeson as a snow plow driver who seeks revenge against the drug lords who killed his son, earned $32.1 million at the domestic box office.

No. 1 on the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart for the second consecutive week was Warner’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which dropped to No. 2 on the overall sales chart.

Cold Pursuit was the No. 2 Blu-ray.

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No. 3 on both charts was MGM’s Fighting With My Family, distributed by Universal Pictures. The film, which earned $23 million in U.S. theaters, focuses on WWE superstar Paige and her rise through the ranks of professional wrestling.

No. 4 on the overall sales chart was Paramount’s What Men Want, which had been in the second spot a week earlier. The comedy was No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart.

Another newcomer, Universal’s horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U, debuted at No. 5 on both charts. The follow-up to 2017’s Happy Death Day earned $28 million at the domestic box office, about half its predecessor’s total.

Bowing at No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart (No. 7 on the overall chart) was Universal’s Apollo 11, a documentary about the first landing on the moon in 1969.

Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 47% of Cold Pursuit‘s first-week sales, compared with 59% for Fighting With My Family, 56% for Happy Death Day 2U and 79% for Apollo 11. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format comprised 8% of Cold Pursuit‘s total tally.

The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended May 19 also had Cold Pursuit debut at No. 1, with Fighting With My Family bowing at No. 2.

What Men Want and Lego Movie 2 each slipped a spot, to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

Happy Death Day 2U landed at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 5-18-19
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 5-19-19
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 5-18-19
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 5-18-19
Sales Report for Week Ended 5-18-19
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 5-20-19

Lionsgate’s ‘Cold Pursuit’ Hot on Redbox Charts

Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit traveled to the top spot on both the Redbox disc rental and digital charts for the week ended May 19.

The actioner, starring Liam Neeson as a grieving snowplow driver who seeks revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son, debuted in the No. 1 spot on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, as well as the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals. The film earned $32 million at the box office.

Another new release, Universal’s Fighting With My Family, a story about a wrestling family featuring Dwayne Johnson, debuted on both charts at No. 2. The film earned $23 million in theaters.

The only other new release in the top 10 was Universal’s horror film Happy Death Day 2U, which landed at No. 5 on the disc chart and No. 7 on the digital chart. The sequel earned $28 million at the box office.

The previous week’s top title, the Paramount comedy What Men Want, fell two spots to No. 3 on both charts, while the previous week’s No. 2, Warner’s The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, fell to No. 4 on the disc and No. 5 on the digital chart.

Lionsgate’s Keanu Reeves actioner John Wick made an appearance at No. 4 on the digital chart as the latest installment in the series, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, hit theaters.

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Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended May 19:

  1. Cold Pursuit(New) — Lionsgate
  2. Fighting With My Family (New) — Universal
  3. What Men Want — Paramount
  4. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part — Warner
  5. Happy Death Day 2U (New) — Universal
  6. Glass— Universal
  7. Serenity (2019) —Universal
  8. The Mule — Warner
  9. Miss Bala (2019)— Sony
  10. A Dog’s Way Home— Sony

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended May 19:

  1. Cold Pursuit — Lionsgate
  2. Fighting With My Family — MGM
  3. What Men Want — Paramount
  4. John Wick — Lionsgate
  5. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part — Warner
  6. Glass — Universal
  7. Happy Death Day 2U — Universal
  8. The Mule — Warner
  9. Aquaman — Warner
  10. Serenity(2019) — Universal

Comedy ‘What Men Want’ Tops FandangoNow Chart

The comedy What Men Want was the top film purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 12.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

The Paramount film, starring Taraji P. Henson and Tracy Morgan, earned $54.6 million in theaters.

Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the series about a boy and his dragon, dropped one spot to No. 2. It made $160 million at the box office. Meanwhile, the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy flew up one spot to No. 8, showing continued strong interest in the franchise for the week.

Warner’s animated sequel The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which earned $105.8 million in theaters, debuted in the third spot on the chart.

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Jumping up one spot from No. 5 in the previous week to No. 4 was Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson as a grieving snowplow driver who seeks revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son. The film earned $32 million at the box office.

Warner’s DC superhero flick Aquaman floated up from No. 9 to No. 5.

Boosted by the impending May 17 theatrical debut of the third installment in the Lionsgate series, the double feature of John Wick and John Wick 2, starring Keanu Reeves as a hitman out for revenge, landed at No. 10 on the week’s chart.

The top 10 films purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 12 were:

  1. What Men Want*
  2. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World*
  3. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part *
  4. Cold Pursuit*
  5. Aquaman *
  6. Glass*
  7. Isn’t It Romantic*
  8. “How to Train Your Dragon” Trilogy*
  9. The Mule*
  10. John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 (Double Feature) *

*Available in 4K

‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Flies to Top of FandangoNow Chart

The animated How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was the top film purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 5.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

The Universal film, the third in the series about a boy and his dragon, made $160 million at the box office. The “How to Train Your Dragon Trilogy” came in at No. 9, showing there was strong interest in the franchise for the week.

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Landing at No. 2 was the Warner romantic comedy sendup Isn’t It Romantic, starring Rebel Wilson. Wilson and Anne Hathaway star in the current theatrical release The Hustle, which perhaps boosted interest in the Wilson title.

Universal’s Glass, from filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, came in third on the FandangoNow chart, while Universal’s Fighting With My Family, a wrestling story starring Dwayne Johnson, landed at No. 4.

In the No. 5 spot was Lionsgate’s Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson as a grieving snowplow driver who seeks revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son. The film earned $32 million at the box office.

The top 10 films purchased and/or rented on FandangoNow for the week ended May 5 were:

  1. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World *
  2. Isn’t It Romantic *
  3. Glass *
  4. Fighting With My Family
  5. Cold Pursuit *
  6. Aquaman *
  7. Serenity
  8. The Mule *
  9. How to Train Your Dragon Trilogy *
  10. Arctic *

 

*Available in 4K

‘Cold Pursuit’ Due on Home Video in May

Lionsgate will release the action thriller Cold Pursuit digitally May 3 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 14.

The film stars Liam Neeson as a snowplow driver who hunts down the drug lord responsible for the death of his son. The cast also includes Laura Dern, Tom Bateman and Emmy Rossum.

The Blu-ray and DVD includes the featurette “Welcome to Kehoe: Behind the Scenes on Cold Pursuit.” The Blu-ray will also include deleted scenes and interviews with Neeson and director Hans Petter Moland.

Fox Releasing ‘Widows’ on Disc Feb. 5

The heist-thriller Widows arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 5 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), and co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), the film focuses on four women with nothing in common but the debt their dead husbands left to a crime boss after a botched job got them killed.

The widows — Viola Davis (Fences), Michelle Rodriguez (“Fast & Furious” Franchise), Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale) — come together to attempt a heist to pay off the debt.

The cast also includes Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson.

The film earned $42 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray includes a photo gallery and nearly 60 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes, including “Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story,” “Plotting the Heist: The Story,” “Assembling the Crew: Production” and “The Scene of the Crime: Locations.”

The digital download of Widows is expected Jan. 22, according to Apple’s iTunes.

The Commuter

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 4/17/18;
Lionsgate;
Action Thriller;
Box Office $36.34 million;
$29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some intense action/violence, and language.
Stars Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill.

The success of Taken paved the way for something of a cottage industry: The Liam Neeson action movie. The formula typically involves Neeson being an unassuming badass as he works his way out of a series of tense situations, often while being taunted over the phone by the bad guys.

From that it seems has sprung a distinct sub-genre: the Jaume Collet-Serra /Liam Neeson action thriller. The Commuter is the fourth film pairing Neeson with the director, following Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night.

That Neeson compares Collet-Serra to Steven Spielberg is but one of several hyperboles thrown around in the bonus materials, but does provide some insights as to why they enjoy working together so often. For his troubles, Neeson is likened by a producer to being a modern John Wayne-type hero, so I guess it all evens out.

In addition to those boasts, in the same one of the Blu-ray’s two short making-of featurettes, which run about 14 minutes in total, the film’s screenwriters have no trouble describing their effort as “Hitchcockian,” so it’s pretty clear no one involved is lacking in confidence or phased by higher expectations.

Commuter seems to takes a lot of its cues from Non-Stop, in that both films deal with a group of people confined on a mode of transportation, and evildoers threatening to destroy the vehicle and kill everyone on it unless Neeson does what they want.

In this case, Neeson plays an insurance salesman and former cop who takes a commuter train in New York everyday. He’s approached by a woman (Vera Farmiga) who proposes a hypothetical situation to him — asking if he would point out a random passenger for $100,000 and then move on with his life without knowing what happened to that person, but with the reasonable assumption they’d be hurt or killed. It quickly turns out her little game is all too real when he discovers the cash stashed in the bathroom.

He also finds he can’t simply walk away, as the bad guys are threatening his family and the rest of the train unless he points out a passenger who seemingly doesn’t belong. Neeson plays along, following the clues to the whereabouts of the mysterious passenger as he tries to work out how to protect that person while also thwarting the plans of a conspiracy that seems to be prepared for each of his counter-moves (one would think a conspiracy as well organized as this one wouldn’t need his help identifying the passenger, but then there wouldn’t be a movie).

He also turns to help from an old cop buddy played by Patrick Wilson, whose character is named Alex Murphy. Viewers can decide for themselves if his sharing a name with the guy who became Robocop constitutes an homage or is simply a distraction.

Anyway, fans of the Neeson formula shouldn’t be too disappointed as it marks off all the boxes on his checklist to produce a quaint, entertaining little thriller.