The complete series set of “Dawson’s Creek” will be released on DVD and, for the first time, on Blu-ray Disc March 28 from Distribution Solutions.
Kevin Williamson (Scream, “The Vampire Diaries”) created the drama, which ran from 1993-2003 and chronicles a group of young friends’ passage from adolescence to young adulthood in the small coastal town of Capeside, Mass. Based on Williamson’s own experiences growing up, “Dawson’s Creek” focuses on teenagers Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes), who have been friends since they were five and are trying to cope with the way their friendship is changing now that their hormones are raging. Added to the mix are their friend Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and the new girl in town Jen (Michelle Williams).
The first-ever Blu-ray boxed set includes more than seven hours of new bonus features, including Entertainment Weekly’s “20th Anniversary Reunion Show”; new interviews and crew featurettes; audio commentaries on select episodes; a retrospective featurette; and alternate scenes and ending to the original pilot presentation.
Box Office $17.12 million;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray, $34.98 UHD BD; Rated ‘PG-13’ for some strong language, thematic elements, brief violence and drug use.
Stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Jeannie Berlin.
It can be argued that a surefire formula for a director making it into the Pantheon is a continued commitment to perpetual growth through experimentation, reenvisioning life as seen through a lens, and transforming even the most mundane studio assignment into a demanding journey to the heart of cinema. Rather than following in the footsteps of such prolific filmmakers as Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen, after a self-imposed 3-year hiatus Steven Spielberg returned to multiplexes with West Side Story, as unnecessary a remake as anything this side of Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. Next up, the second installment in the “I’ve Run Out of Things to Say” trilogy: the personal narrative, which, for many a green director, provides an ideal jumping off point. Once upon a time there was a colleague who assured me that no matter my level of dislike, there was at least one positive thing to be found in every picture. I promise you dear reader, that in the end, I will have found something praiseworthy to say of The Fabelmans.
George Lucas and Spielberg swapped intergalactic box office hits before teaming on Raiders of the Lost Ark, the structure of which had more climaxes than a James Deen compilation. It was Raiders that started me on the rocky path to Spielbergia. And so it went: the director, who has never revealed a pronounced allergy to fudging, couldn’t get E.T. to phone home, yet the little feller managed to pilot a full-grown boy, on a bicycle, past the moon for the film’s money shot. Then there’s the director as historian. Remember the 24-sheet ballyhooing Gone With the Wind on display in Empire of the Sun? Do you think Jean-Luc Godard or Martin Scorsese would have been careless enough to use 1968 reissue artwork in a film set in the 1940s? In Schindler’s List, or as a friend took to calling it, Oskar Schindler and the Temple of Doom, the only way Spielberg could get a character to stand out in a black-and-white film was through colorized attire. And given the film’s lumbering pace and “Hall of Presidents” anamorphic tableaus, if Abraham Lincoln was as dull as the biopic, could you really blame the South for seceding from the Union? The only Spielberg film I found myself returning to is 1941, and then more for A.D. Flowers’ special effects and cinematographer William Fraker’s sublime nightwork.
Meet The Fabelmans. Little Sammy Fabelman’s (Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord as a youth and Gabriel LaBelle in his teens) introduction to the movies arrives in the form of a cuddly meet-cute. The future Cecil B. De Mille stands trembling in line with mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and dad Burt (Paul Dano) to see the greatest showman on film’s Oscar-winning circus picture, The Greatest Show on Earth. Anticipatory anxiety rode high when Sammy confessed to being overcome with fear, terrified that sitting in a dark room filled with strangers could be too much for him. Brainiac Burt talks the tyke down by bringing him up to speed on the merits of visual perception and persistence of vision. Burt Fabelman is a decent man, an upright figure endowed with the kind of moral turpitude that would make Ward Cleaver look like Alex Murdaugh. Spielberg came up with the story decades ago but couldn’t bring himself to directing a film he feared might hurt his parents.
Spielberg used the first camera his folks bought him to trace De Mille’s spectacular trainwreck. This was soon followed by Escape to Nowhere, a 40-minute war film he directed at age 13 with a cast composed of high school cronies. He completed the film in 1959, three years before the release of How the West Was Won, yet a piece of Alfred Newman’s score is heard as background accompaniment. As a historian, Spielberg was a terrific popcorn salesman.
Burt is by all accounts a genial genius who adored his work almost as much as he did his family. In the mid-fifties, Burt becomes a valued member of General Electric’s computer department. The work called for considerable relocation; it was his job that gradually brings the Fabelmans to California. Mitzi is a concert pianist who grows cold living life in her husband’s shadow. Mitzi eventually takes up with Burt’s best friend Bennie Lowey (Seth Rogan). When the Fabelmans divorce in 1965, Sammy goes to live with his father. Mitzi and Bennie eventually wed, but one can’t help but think Sammy had a hand in the breakup going public. There’s something uber creepy about Sammy and Mitzi’s relationship. Spielberg told 60 Minutes that Leah Spielberg was like an older sister. Even though mom was the one caught cheating, Spielberg blamed his father for the break-up. “I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg continued. “And my dad was much more terrestrial, much more grounded, much more salt of the earth. And for some reason, it was easier for me to blame him than it was to someone who I had already exalted.”
While on a family camping trip, Mitzi, who has a few too many, dances seductively, her see-through negligee back-lit by a car’s headlights. Rather than aborting the shot, a turned-on Sammy keeps the camera rolling. This isn’t the only time his lens spied something it shouldn’t have. The next day, he surreptitiously captures footage of the cuckolders openly cavorting in deep focus behind his father and sisters. Acting as though nothing happened, it isn’t until the footage comes back from the lab that Sammy is overcome with shock. How could he not have noticed the kiss while filming? Hell, he panned up to it! It was Kurt Vonnegut who once said, “Nothing’s real to some people unless they’ve got photographs.” In Sammy’s case, truth comes to light only when projected. He ultimately blames himself for filming it in the first place.
Scenes of anti-semtism are as clumsily addressed as they are inevitable. The first confrontation takes place after a high school volleyball match. The dialogue and situations are such, one keeps waiting for Beaver Cleaver to enter and say, “Gee, Wally. Eddie Haskell called us ‘kikes.’” Once again, Sammy blames Burt; the family never might have crossed paths with anti-semites had his father not moved the family from Arizona. A subsequent relationship with Monica Sherwood (Chloe East), a sugary, hot-to-trot gentile classmate looking to make it with a handsome Jewish boy (just like Jesus) has nothing on Screech and Lisa Turtle.
Jeannie Berlin and Judd Hirsh pop up in a couple of memorable cameos, but the film’s biggest laugh arrives when Sammy’s sister asks when he’s going to make a film with girls. Judging by Spielberg’s track record, the answer is never. And as advertised, here’s the positive note I promised to close on. It can be summed up in five words: David Lynch as John Ford.
Bonus features include a trio of fawning behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Street Date 12/14/21; Sony Pictures; Action; Box Office $212.5 million; $30.99 DVD, $38.99, Blu-ray, $45.99 UH BD; Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references. Stars Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, Peggy Lu.
The follow-up to 2018’s Venom is even more bizarre than its predecessor.
The sequel finds journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) continuing to co-exist with Venom, the alien symbiote from Marvel Comics that has bonded with him and occasionally takes over his body. Brock is asked to interview death-row inmate Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who was introduced at the end of the last film, and with Venom’s help is able to uncover where Kasady hid the bodies of his murder victims.
During one meeting, Venom is provoked into attacking Kasady, who bites Brock’s hand and absorbs some of the symbiote, which evolves into a new being named Carnage.
During Kasady’s lethal injection, Carnage emerges and helps him escape from prison. Kasady then seeks out his long-lost love Frances (Naomie Harris), who was separated from him when they were kids because she can scream destructive sonic blasts, earning her the nickname Shriek.
Meanwhile, Venom and Brock have a fight because Venom needs to eat human brains and Eddie won’t let him chow down on bad guys, so Venom detaches from Eddie and starts exploring the world with other hosts, though they aren’t as compatible with him as Eddie was and burn out quickly.
As Brock helps the police track own Kasady, Carnage and Kasady vow to destroy Brock and Venom, setting up a brutal final showdown.
Let There Be Carnage doubles down on all the quirks of the first film, particularly Hardy’s offbeat performance.
Directing duties for the sequel were taken over by Andy Serkis, and the process of making the film is covered in the seven-minute “Let There Be … Action” featurette on both the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the movie.
The Blu-ray also includes several additional interesting featurettes, such as the 10-minute “Eddie & Venom: The Odd Couple,” the five-and-a-half-minute “Sick and Twisted Cletus Kasady,” and the four-and-a-half-minute “Concept to Carnage,” about designing the new villain. Also included is the five-minute “A Fine Romance: Cletus & Shriek,” and the four-and-a-half-minute “Tangled Web: Easter Eggs,” which tracks the films’ references to the comic book source material.
The Blu-ray also includes a three-minute blooper reel, eight-and-a-half-minutes of select scene pre-vis sequences, and six deleted scenes that run a total of nine-and-a-half minutes, mostly including alternate and extended versions of scenes, and an alternate ending.
Martin Scorsese’s atmospheric thriller Shutter Island will arrive for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 11 from Paramount Home Entertainment for its 10th anniversary.
The 4K Ultra HD release will be available in a limited collector’s edition steelbook.
Based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he navigates what appears to be a routine investigation that quickly turns sinister. The film also stars Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Syndow and Michelle Williams.
Special features include the previously released featurettes “Behind the Shutters” and “Into the Lighthouse” on the Blu-ray.
Tom Hardy brings the fan-favorite antihero Venom to life in this entertaining throwback to the wild sensibilities of the comic book movies of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Blu-ray is loaded with bonus materials that should satisfy fans of both the character’s history and his film adaptation.
Box Office $213.03 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.
Stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, Melora Walters, Woody Harrelson.
The character of Venom’s journey to the big screen shares a lot of parallels with Deadpool, in that both were introduced as a villain in another character’s poorly received movie before getting a second chance after years of development hell to get a movie of their own.
Venom was originally introduced in the 1980s as an alien entity that served as an antagonist for Spider-Man before his increasing popularity led writers to shift him into the role of an anti-hero (often dubbed the “lethal protector”). He’s essentially a living black goo known as a symbiote, which merges with a human host to create a hulking beast with super abilities and a voracious appetite.
The character’s big-screen debut came in 2007 via a much-maligned appearance in the awful Spider-Man 3, when he was shoehorned into the story allegedly at the behest of studio executives looking to make a spinoff. (Likewise, Deadpool first appeared in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which all of his fan-favorite traits were removed — a blunder subsequently lampooned in the mega-successful “Deadpool” solo movies that were only made after the popularity of leaked test footage pressured a reluctant Fox into greenlighting the project.)
When the “Spider-Man” franchise was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, plans emerged for Venom to be included in a Sony Spider-Man cinematic universe, only for the poor reception of 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to put a hold on that as well.
Then Sony made a deal with Marvel Studios to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and when that proved successful Sony felt confident in moving forward with Spider-Man-related side projects, including Venom and the animated Into the Spider-Verse.
But, with the live-action Spider-Man on loan to Marvel’s creative team, Sony had to develop Venom without using Spider-Man in his origin story, as the two characters are intricately connected in the comic books. Originally, the symbiote bonded with Peter Parker before moving on to a better-suited host, Peter’s journalistic rival Eddie Brock, to finally become Venom. This paved the way for the expansion of the symbiote concept and the introduction of characters such as Carnage and Riot who could serve as villains for Venom.
So, in the Venom movie, the symbiotes are discovered on a comet and brought to Earth by a space mission funded by megalomaniacal rich guy Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). But the ship crashes and some of the symbiotes get loose before Drake’s cronies can round up the rest for experimentation.
Drake realizes they need human hosts to survive on Earth, so he kidnaps homeless people to test out his theories. This arouses the suspicions of Web reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), whose attempts to investigate Drake’s lab cause him to come into contact with the Venom symbiote, which takes over his body.
The symbiote is able to communicate telepathically with its host, and we learn that symbiotes need to have a good match with their hosts for the pairing to work, and apparently Eddie is well matched for Venom.
Of course, with Venom/Eddie on the loose, Drake sends out a private army to kill him, leading to several action sequences around the streets of San Francisco. Drake wants to send another rocket to the comet to bring back more symbiotes, a plan that Eddie/Venom vows to stop, even if it means fighting other symbiotes who support Drake’s mission. (This being a comic book movie, a finale featuring the main character battling the evil version of himself is almost a foregone conclusion.)
The best aspect of the movie is the interaction Hardy has with, well, himself — the interplay between Brock and the Venom voice in his head that wants him to find food and that he has to convince to stop eating people.
Part action, part horror, part buddy comedy, the film shifts tone at will in its efforts to stay faithful to the character while maintaining the commercial appeal of a ‘PG-13’ movie. It feels a lot like a throwback to a 1990s or early 2000s comic book movie that would try anything to entertain its audience. The visual effects are appropriately over the top, awash in CGI flair as gooey symbiotes launch tendrils and ooze across the room in attacking whomever is nearby.
The Blu-ray comes with a “Venom Mode” that offers pop-up trivia about the character and production while the movie plays. The information is low-key and unobtrusive, but often relates facts that might not be as interesting as answering questions that might pop into a viewer’s head during a given scene.
Three deleted scenes offer some more insights about the Venom character — one features Eddie talking to himself in a cab, another shows Venom’s hilarious response to an annoying car alarm, and the third is an extended version of a post-credits scene that teases a potential villain for the sequel.
Also included are about an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes, highlighted by the 20-minute “From Symbiote to Screen,” a good primer on the history of the Venom character. The three-minute “Symbiote Secrets” unveils some of the hidden references in the film.
In addition, there’s a gallery of visual-effects progressions from storyboard to finished film.
The disc also offers a bonus scene from the recently released Spider-Man: Into the Universe, both tacked on to the end of the movie and included separately. This is in addition to the Spider-Verse trailer that plays when the disc loads.
Finally, the disc includes two music videos: one for Eminem’s Venom title track, and another for an Into the Spider-Verse song, “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee.