‘Ocean’s’ Trilogy Arrives on 4K Ultra HD April 30

Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” trilogy of crime heist films — Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen — will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and digitally for the first time April 30 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

Inspired by and based on the 1960 heist film Ocean’s 11, the three films are directed by Academy Award winner Soderbergh and feature ensemble casts including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison and Shaobo Qin.

The 4K remasters of Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) were completed at Warner Bros. Discovery’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) with the participation of Soderbergh. The restored 5.1 digital audio mix was overseen by original re-recording sound mixer and sound editor Larry Blake.

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The “Ocean’s” trilogy Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and digital contains the following previously released special features:

Ocean’s Eleven

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh and Ted Griffin
  • Commentary by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia
  • “Are You In or Out? The Making of Ocean’s Eleven”
  • “Pros & Cons: Inside Ocean’s Outfit”
  • “The Style of Steal”
  • “The Look of the Con”
  • “Original Ocean’s, Original Cool”

 

Ocean’s Twelve

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh and George Nolfi
  • “Ready, Jet Set, Go: The Making of Ocean’s Twelve”
  • “HBO First Look: Twelve Is the New Eleven: The Making of Ocean’s Twelve”
  • deleted scenes

 

Ocean’s Thirteen

  • Commentary by Steven Soderbergh, Brian Koppelman and David Levien
  • “Third’s a Charm: The Making of Ocean’s Thirteen
  • “Ahab with a Piggyback: The Means & Machines of Ocean’s”
  • “Jerry Weintraub Walk and Talk”
  • “Masters of the Heist”
  • deleted scenes

Oppenheimer

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Drama;
Box Office $325.37 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for some sexuality, nudity and language.
Stars Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Benny Safdie, Jason Clarke, Dylan Arnold, Tom Conti, James D’Arcy, David Dastmalchian, Dane DeHaan, Alden Ehrenreich, Tony Goldwyn, Jefferson Hall, David Krumholtz, Matthew Modine, Scott Grimes, Jack Quaid, Christopher Denham, Olivia Thirlby, Gary Oldman.

Director Christopher Nolan’s meticulously crafted Oppenheimer is a bit of a throwback to the kinds of epics stocked with all-star casts Hollywood used to pump out in the 1950s and ’60s.

Yet this biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, labeled by history as the “father of the atomic bomb,” is also distinctly Nolan, marked by his penchant for nonlinear storytelling and pushing the boundaries of traditional filmmaking. It’s a testament to Nolan’s skill as a director that he’s able to craft a riveting character drama from what is essentially three hours of people just talking to each other.

Based on the book American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, Oppenheimer frames the story of its title subject through the proceedings of two political hearings. One, set in 1954, finds Oppenheimer (longtime Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy) attempting to restore his security clearance in the face of efforts to silence him from influencing nuclear policy. The other, set in 1959, focuses on the Senate confirmation hearing of Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.), a former member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission who sheds light on Oppenheimer’s ouster.

Nolan uses similar points of discussion from the testimony given at both events to explore Oppenheimer’s life through flashbacks depicting the young scientist’s study of physics in Europe and his efforts to expand the field of quantum mechanics research in the United States.

Oppenheimer is poised to pioneer the study of black holes when World War II breaks out, and he is recruited by Gen. Leslie Groves (Matt Damon) to head the Manhattan Project to create an atomic bomb before Nazi Germany.

Scenes stemming from Strauss’ point of view are presented in black and white and meant to convey a more objective reality, while scenes in color represent Oppenheimer’s perspective and a more subjective interpretation of events.

The highlight of the three-hour film is obviously the middle section depicting the creation of the atomic bomb, with Oppenheimer and Groves bringing many of America’s top minds to a makeshift town in the New Mexico desert in order to turn theory into reality, culminating in the Trinity test.

Oppenheimer, however, is constantly dogged by earlier associations with left-wing causes, and friendships with a number of Communist Party members and Soviet sympathizers, that will ultimately be used as a sledgehammer against him.

Nolan in the Blu-ray bonus features describes the film’s structure as moving from the beginning of the hero’s journey, to a heist movie (the recruiting of a team for a caper of sorts), to a courtroom drama.

Through Murphy’s transformative performance, Oppenheimer comes to life as a man constantly struggling to balance the accolades of his historic achievements with the moral weight of their implications.

The last hour of the film depicts this sort of tug-of-war between America’s efforts to maintain nuclear superiority in the face of Russia developing the technology, and Oppenheimer’s desire to pursue international policies to contain the genie he helped escape from the bottle.

Nolan famously shot the film using large-format Imax cameras, and the results are evident in a pristine 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation. The 4K and Blu-ray disc versions of the film take advantage of this with a variable aspect ratio that shifts between a letterboxed 2.20:1 image and an immersive 1.78:1 that occupies the entirety of a big-screen TV. The DVD and digital presentations are locked at a consistent 2.20:1 ratio.

Sound is booming but dialogue is easy to understand despite most scenes taking place in a conversational tone.

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The 4K and Blu-ray combo packs include a bonus disc containing nearly three-and-a-half hours of supplemental material, led by the seven-part “The Story of Our Time: The Making of Oppenheimer” behind-the-scenes documentary.

Clocking in at more than 72 minutes, the program offers a comprehensive look at the making of the film and the exquisite level of detail employed by Nolan in re-creating the period settings, for the most part. Of note, the set of Oppenheimer’s office includes the actual clock he had in his real office, and scenes taking place at the Oppenheimers’ home were filmed at their actual house in Los Alamos. Nolan was also keen on using practical in-camera effects as opposed to CGI, which lends to the film’s air of authenticity.

The seven featurettes are also available with digital copies of the film. The remaining extras are exclusive to the Blu-ray.

The eight-minute “Innovations in Film” focuses on the use of 65mm to shoot the picture, delving into the cinematography and editing challenges presented. Of note, the production had to invent black-and-white 65mm film stock to achieve the film’s visual style. There’s also a segment on how the film was prepared for digital projection and home video, with the digital version of the film being carefully rendered to match the look and feel of the 70mm Imax presentation.

For some comparisons of the different presentation styles of the film, there’s a full package of the film’s trailers, including an Imax trailer that displays footage from the film in the square Imax ratio, plus the five-minute promo video that played during the early summer. The footage in these trailers isn’t as refined as the film presentation, which demonstrates how much care went into making the film look the best it can be.

A 35-minute “Meet the Press” episode features a Q&A from July 15, 2023, featuring Nolan, author Bird, physicist and Nolan science advisor Dr. Kip Thorne, current Los Alamos director Dr. Thom Mason, and physicist Dr. Carlo Rovelli. It’s an interesting discussion about the relationship between science and policy, and includes some tidbits about how Nolan the screenwriter went a bit deeper than the book in depicting the Strauss confirmation hearing by digging up the actual transcripts.

Rounding out the extras is the hour-and-a-half To End All War: Oppenheimer & the Atomic Bomb, a great biographical documentary about the real Oppenheimer that gives a better context to the events depicted in the film. Seeing the copious footage of the soft-spoken Oppenheimer — he comes across as a bit of a professorial Mr. Rogers — really crystalizes how much Murphy was able to embody him in his performance. This is the kind of bonus feature more movies about real events should include on home video but just don’t anymore.

Ben Affleck’s ‘Air’ to Stream on Prime Video Starting May 12

Director Ben Affleck’s Air, from Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures — and the first project from Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity — will be available to stream on Prime Video beginning May 12 in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.

Air has earned $79.2 million at the global box office.
 
Air reveals the game-changing partnership between a then-rookie Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division, which revolutionized the world of sports and contemporary culture with the Air Jordan brand. The story follows the career-defining gamble of an unconventional team with everything on the line, the uncompromising vision of a mother who knows the worth of her son’s immense talent, and the basketball phenom who would become the greatest of all time.
 
Damon plays maverick Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro and Affleck plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight, with Jason Bateman as Rob Strasser, Chris Messina as David Falk, Matthew Maher as Peter Moore, Marlon Wayans as George Raveling, Chris Tucker as Howard White, Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan and Gustaf Skarsgård as Horst Dassler. 

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This marks the first time Affleck has directed a feature film starring Damon.
 
The film features a soundtrack of ‘80s hits from Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, REO Speedwagon, The Clash, Night Ranger, Dire Straits, The Alan Parsons Project, Squeeze, and many more.
 
Starting May 5, Fire TV customers will get an exclusive look at the making of Air with the full cast.

‘The Mario Bros. Movie’ Eyeing ‘Super’ Easter Weekend Box Office Debut Following $53 Million Preview Screening Tally

Universal Pictures/Illumination’s video game inspired The Super Mario Bros. Movie appears on course to become the year’s first theatrical blockbuster through the April 9 Easter weekend, after generating $53 million over special Wednesday (April 5) and Thursday (April 6) screenings.

Wednesday’s $31.7 million haul wasn’t far behind the $38.5 million three-day debut generated last weekend by box office leader Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Paramount Pictures). By comparison, Disney’s 1993 Super Mario Bros. theatrical effort tallied just $21 million over its entire box office run.

Indeed, the latest Mario Bros. movie is on track to generate from $125 million to $150 million opening weekend according to industry estimates. Universal is projecting around $110 million, according to Box Office Pro, with the industry tracker suggesting the movie could not only set an Easter weekend record, but also become the biggest animation opener post-pandemic.

Dungeons & Dragons is projected to add $13.6 million in its sophomore weekend, followed closely behind by Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4 with $13.4 million.

Amazon Studios’ new release Air, the story behind the famous 1984 branding partnership between Michael Jordan and Nike, a relationship that has paid the former all-time NBA great a reported $1.3 billion in endorsement money, is on track to generate a modest $16 million in its debut. The movie co-stars, among others, Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck, who also directs. The movie was heavily marketed during the recent March Madness college basketball tournament. The movie hit theatrical screens Wednesday with an opening day gross of $3.2 million (including $925,000 from early access screenings) at 3,507 locations in North America. Thursday came in at $2.4 million, which puts the two-day total gross at $5.7 million, according to Amazon.

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Merchandising: Get a ‘Bourne’ Collection 4K Steelbook at Best Buy

The big retailers didn’t do much to promote the scant new releases of June 7, but Best Buy had a new 4K Steelbook boxed set of the “Bourne” action franchise starring Matt Damon.

The 4K Steelbook edition of Universal Pictures The Bourne Complete Collection could be had for $64.99. Best Buy’s website indicated copies were still available in stores as of Wednesday evening.

The six-disc set includes 2002’s The Bourne Identity, 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, 2012’s The Bourne Legacy (a spinoff without Matt Damon, focused on a new character played by Jeremy Renner), 2016’s Jason Bourne (with Damon returning), and a bonus disc.

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Stillwater

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Drama;
Box Office $14.47 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language.
Stars Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camile Cottin, Lilou Siauvaud, Deanna Dunagan.

Matt Damon plays somewhat against type in this tale of a father trying to free his daughter from incarceration overseas.

The film was reportedly loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox, who is alluded to but not mentioned by name in the film’s bonus materials. Stillwater was directed by and co-written by Tom McCarthy, who is no stranger to investigative plotlines after having won Oscars for Spotlight.

Rather that being set in Italy as Knox’s case was, the film centers its events on Marseille, France. Damon plays Bill Baker, a rough-around-the-edges Oklahoma oil worker whose daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin) was convicted of murdering her roommate while studying abroad. When Bill goes to visit her in prison, she asks him to pass along a note to her lawyer, who has basically abandoned any attempts to overturn the conviction. The letter speaks of rumors of another man claiming to be the killer, prompting Bill to search for new evidence.

This leads to him staying in France for several months pursuing dead-end leads, getting Allison’s hopes up as he lies to her about the chances of reopening the case.

Though its performances are compelling enough to sustain interest, the film’s exhausting 139-minute running time leads it to meander a bit, particularly during the second act as Bill takes up with a local woman named Virginie (Camile Cottin) and her daughter, and the film shifts its focus to show him becoming enmeshed in their lives as well.

The Blu-ray includes three short featurettes that offer a few good insights into the making of the film. The five-minute “An Alchemy of Viewpoints” covers the production in general; the three-minute “An American in Marseilles: The Locations of Stillwater” delves into why McCarthy chose to set the movie in France; and “With Curiosity & Compassion: Director Tom McCarthy” offers some interviews with McCarthy’s collaborators about why they enjoyed working with him.

‘Stillwater’ Available for Digital Purchase Oct. 12, on Disc Oct. 26

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release the drama Stillwater for digital purchase Oct. 12, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 26.

Directed by Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), the film stars Matt Damon as Bill Baker, an American oil-rig roughneck from Oklahoma who travels to Marseilles to visit his estranged daughter (Abigail Breslin), who is in prison for a murder she claims she did not commit. Confronted with language barriers, cultural differences and a complicated legal system, Bill builds a new life for himself in France as he makes it his personal mission to exonerate his daughter.

The film earned $14.5 million at the domestic box office.

Bonus materials include the featurettes “An Alchemy of Viewpoints,” about the portrayal of the characters; “An American in Marseilles: The Locations of Stillwater”; and “With Curiosity & Compassion: Director Tom McCarthy.”

Elysium

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/9/21;
Sony Pictures;

Sci-Fi;
$30.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence and language.
Stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner.

This 2013 dystopian science-fiction film — written, directed, and co-produced by Neill Blomkamp (District 9) — crafts a world that seems a bit more ominous in our current circumstances.

The film is set in the year 2154, when there are two classes of people living in different worlds: the ultra-wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The rich have access to all the luxuries money can buy, including top-notch healthcare delivered by a pod that can detect and cure illness in minutes.

Max (Matt Damon) — after a childhood yearning to reach Elysium — is now resigned to his fate as a lowly factory worker on Earth after serving a prison sentence for stealing cars. A twist of fate forces him to revisit his mission to go to the idyllic world in the sky, and he enlists the help of criminal friends to get there. Along the way, he reencounters a childhood friend whose daughter has cancer, and she, too, wishes to go to Elysium.

Out to thwart Max’s efforts and keep all undesirables out is Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster in an icily evil turn). A conservative and ruthless defense leader at the space station, she enlists the help of a psychopathic mercenary (Sharlto Copley, who gleefully portrays his character’s relish for violence and delivers snappy, menacing one liners) to keep Max and others from breaching the sky fortress.

The haves and the have nots, exclusive access to healthcare for the wealthy, a coup attempt, environmental degradation — all of this seems to be a bit more conceivable future in 2021 than when this film first came out, giving it a new relevance.

The film is chockfull of action, from gun fights to explosions to blood splattering gore — all of which look (sometimes ickily) realistic in 4K.

“I’m interested in dudes exploding,” Blomkamp says in one of the extras.

Yep, anyone who watches Elysium can attest to that.

The director is enthusiastic about in-camera, on-set effects without the use of computers, making the extras more interesting that usual. It’s always more intriguing to watch special effects teams create actual explosions and blood splatters, and miniatures are more visually interesting than a world created on a computer screen.

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Extras on the 4K Ultra HD disc include “Exoskeletons, Explosions and the Action Choreography of Elysium,” about the special effects; “The Hero, The Psychopath and the Characters of Elysium,” about the storyline and characters; “The Art of the Elysium Miniatures,” about a crucial crash scene; “Bugatti 2154,” about how a spaceship version of the luxury car brand made it into the film; and theatrical trailers.

For those interested in delving deeper, the standard Blu-ray Disc in the combo pack includes more hours of bonus content, including an extended scene and several additional featurettes: “Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium”; “Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky”; “Visions of 2154 — An Interactive Exploration of the Art and Design of Elysium”; “In Support of the Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium”; “The Technology of 2154”; and the three-part documentary “The Journey to Elysium.”

‘Elysium,’ with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, to Make 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Debut on Feb. 9

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the Feb. 9, 2021 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Elysium, a 2013 dystopian science-fiction film written, directed, and co-produced by Neill Blomkamp.

The film stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. It was released in both conventional and Imax digital theaters. Set in the year 2154, the film explores the lives of two classes of people: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and standard Blu-ray Disc combo package includes hours of bonus content, including an extended scene and the following featurettes: “Collaboration: Crafting the Performances in Elysium”; “Engineering Utopia: Creating a Society in the Sky”; “Visions of 2154 — An Interactive Exploration of the Art and Design of Elysium”; “In Support of the Story: The Visual Effects of Elysium”; “The Technology of 2154”; and the three-part documentary “The Journey to Elysium.”

A 4K Ultra HD bonus disc includes more extras, including “Exoskeletons, Explosions and the Action Choreography of Elysium”; “The Hero, The Psychopath and the Characters of Elysium”; “The Art of the Elysium Miniatures”; “Bugatti 2154”; and theatrical trailers.

Ford v Ferrari

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/11/20;
Fox;
Drama;
Box Office $116.38 million;
$29.99 DVD, $37.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language and peril.
Stars Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Ray McKinnon.

Director James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari provides an immensely entertaining look at an international corporate rivalry that changed the face of auto racing in the 1960s.

Matt Damon stars as automotive designer Carroll Shelby, a former race car driver enlisted by the Ford Motor Company to design a car that can break the dominance of Ferrari in France’s prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Shelby in turn recruits Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to drive the car, a move that rubs certain Ford bigwigs the wrong way, most notably Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), the executive in charge of the racing division.

Bales, whose turn as the hotheaded mechanic and driver Miles is essentially a co-lead with Damon, dominates every scene he’s in with an energetic performance that commands attention. In fact, some of his best scenes involve Miles alone on the road in the racecar, commenting to himself about how much he enjoys the ride or doesn’t appreciate the actions of the drivers around him.

The film delivers both in the corporate versus maverick politics of the company’s attempts to constrain Shelby’s efforts, as well as being a thrilling racing movie. Mangold’s racing footage puts viewers on the track and in the cars, and viewers can practically feel the crashes through their high-definition home theaters.

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The scenes involving the design and testing of the new racecars are equally compelling, as Shelby’s team takes on the engineering challenge with the focus and intensity of a NASA mission to the moon.

Though Damon and Bale get the headlines with one of the great screen partnerships of recent years, the supporting cast delivers some noteworthy work as well, particularly Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe as Miles’ wife and son, and Ray McKinnon as one of Shelby’s top mechanics.

And the film gets to have its cake and eat it too with the “Batman v Bourne” of it all, when Shelby and Miles have a bit of a spat over how much of Ford’s corporate meddling they’re willing to take.

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The intricacy of detail the filmmakers took in re-creating the racing culture of the 1960s is on display in the hour-long making-of documentary “Bringing the Rivalry to Life” that is included with the Blu-ray and digital copies of the film. The eight-part program offers ample interviews about how much the cast enjoyed making the movie, and how the filmmakers went about making replica cars to use for the racing scenes.

Digital versions include the exclusive “The 24-Hour Le Mans: Re-creating the Course,” a 22-minute featurette that delves into how the filmmakers re-created the Le Mans course, using a mix of replica cars and visual effects to enhance the backgrounds. In some cases, the sons of the original drivers were bought in to play their fathers in the climactic race.

The digital edition also offers a 26-minute highlight reel of pre-vis animation of the race scenes.

Vudu has an additional three-minute featurette edited from clips culled from the other bonus materials.