‘The Upside’ to Bow on Digital May 14, Disc May 21 From Universal

The buddy comedy The Upside, starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, will come out on digital May 14 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and on demand May 21 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film follows a discouraged out-of-work ex-con (Hart) and a wealthy quadriplegic (Cranston) who unexpectedly come together and help each other bring back their zest for life. The supporting cast includes Nicole Kidman, Golshifteh Farahani, Julianna Margulies, Aja Naomi King and Tate Donovan.

The film earned $106.2 million in theaters.

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Bonus features include deleted scenes; a gag reel; “Onscreen Chemistry: Kevin and Bryan,” in which Hart and Cranston talk about their unique characters and working together; “Creating a Story of Possibility ,” in which Hart and Cranston share insight on how their characters come together; “Bridging Divisions,” in which director Neil Burger and Hart talk about how two very different people find common ground through compassion for each other; “Embracing Positivity,” in which Hart and Cranston open up about positive messages in the film and the power of hope, love, and friendship; “Presenting a Different Side of Kevin Hart,” in which Burger, Hart and Cranston discuss Hart’s role; and the theatrical trailer.

Aquaman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/26/19;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $334.52 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.
Stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ludi Lin, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison.

It’s a bit amazing to think that the Justice League member so often derided as “the one who talks to fish and is useless on land” is now the subject of the highest-grossing movie based on a DC Comics character at the worldwide box office.

Already a regular target of parody shows such as “Robot Chicken,” the Aquaman character was famously used as the centerpiece of a storyline on HBO’s “Entourage” involving a blockbuster movie version directed by James Cameron — poking fun at both Cameron’s penchant for water movies and the idea that anyone would ever make an Aquaman movie.

Well, the real film, directed by James Wan, certainly dispels any notion that Aquaman isn’t suited for the big screen. Coincidentally, with this film and Furious 7, Wan became the only director other than Cameron (with Avatar and Titanic) to guide two films from separate franchises into the global box office’s billion-dollar club.

Jason Momoa takes on the title role, his third film appearing as the character, after a cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and an expanded presence in Justice League. His larger-than-life persona and carefree attitude serve the film well by helping the audience accept the bizarreness of the worlds being created without the need to take it too seriously.

Arthur Curry (Momoa) is the product of the unexpected love of a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) and the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) who ends up at his shore when she escapes an arranged marriage. Arthur’s unique heritage gives him superhuman abilities, such as strength, invulnerability, the ability to swim fast and a telepathic bond with sea creatures.

With his reputation as a hero established in Justice League, Arthur is sought out by the princess Mera (Amber Heard) to claim the throne of Atlantis from his half-brother (Patrick Wilson), who wants to destroy the surface world.

To do that, he and Mera must embark on a quest to locate a mythical weapon that will allow him to assert his claim as the rightful king of Atlantis.

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The story will draw a lot of comparisons with Black Panther in that both deal with heroes introduced in earlier films, with their own films focused on tying their origins into storylines involving taking control of their hidden kingdoms away from maniacal family members who want to conquer the outside world. Tonally, the film is more like Thor: Ragnarok, which also deals with a battle for the throne of a powerful kingdom. These recent superhero movies have certainly embraced that Shakespearean power dynamics motif lately (which may just speak to how most comic books can be reduced to a few fundamental tropes before all the personality and detail that makes them popular are added).

Aquaman

Between the “Game of Thrones”-esque political intrigue and “Indiana Jones”-style adventure subplot, much of the film’s success owes to its sense of fun and its willingness to depict absolutely anything on screen despite how absurd it is while treating it as epic. Wan fills almost every frame with fantastic imagery awash in vibrant color that really shines through in its high-definition Blu-ray presentation. Many of the scenes look as if Wan pulled them directly from a comic book, and even makes Aquaman’s traditional orange and green costume look cool, which should no doubt please fans of the character.

The Blu-ray includes more than an hour-and-a-half of featurettes detailing all the aspects of the production, from Momoa’s casting, to the stunt work, to the development of the depictions of the undersea kingdoms that comprise the Atlantean realms.

One of the more interesting videos in this regard is the “Kingdoms of the Seven Seas,” a profile of underwater politics hosted by Dolph Lundgren, who plays the ruler of one of them. Between this and his recent turn in a “Rocky” retrospective on the Creed II Blu-ray, Lundgren has been pretty busy on the Warner lot hosting bonus videos.

Another interesting tidbit comes during an analysis of the film’s memorable sequence involving the devolved creatures of the Trench, which plays to Wan’s horror roots. At one point, an excited Wan suggests the Trench should be the basis of its own movie. Unsurprisingly, a Trench spinoff has already been announced.

Finally, the disc includes a three-minute scene from the upcoming Shazam! movie.

Nicole Kidman Crime Drama ‘Destroyer’ Due on Digital April 9, Disc April 23

Destroyer, starring Nicole Kidman in a Golden Globe-nominated performance, will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) April 9 and Blu-ray and DVD April 23 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

In the crime drama, Kidman stars as L.A.P.D. detective Erin Bell who, in the years since she engaged in an undercover drug ring assignment that ended tragically, has stumbled along a path of self-destruction. When the ring’s boss resurfaces, Bell is drawn back into action to try to stop a violent new crime wave.

Disc bonus features include commentary with director Karyn Kusama; commentary with writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi; “Breakdown of an Anti-Hero: The Making of Destroyer”; and a photo gallery.

Amazon Partners with Warner Bros. for Early ‘Aquaman’ Theatrical Access

In a first, Amazon is affording Prime members early theatrical access to Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC Comics underwater super heroes movie, Aquaman — beginning Dec. 15.

Directed by James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious), Aquaman stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Nicole Kidman, among others.

The movie, which reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime — one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be … a king, will be released in theaters nationwide Dec. 21 in 3D and 2D and Imax.

Prime members can purchase up to 10 tickets (via Atom Tickets) and screen the movie at one of more than 1,000 theaters, including AMC, Regal, National Amusement Theaters and ArcLight Cinemas.

“Coming together with Amazon to reach their footprint of Prime members in the U.S. is the ideal way for us to bring Aquaman to moviegoers and their families as they kick off their holidays,” Blair Rich, president, worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, said in a statement.

Unlike Netflix, which has (until recently) shunned theatrical exposure for its feature-length movies, Amazon continues to embrace the traditional theatrical window ahead of retail and streaming via Amazon Instant Video and Prime Video, respectively.

“Prime offers the best of shopping and entertainment and these early showings of Aquaman are yet another pleasant surprise for members, and one that I’m personally also looking forward to,” said Cem Sibay, VP of Amazon Prime.

‘How to Talk to Girls at Parties’ Coming to Disc Aug. 14 From Lionsgate

How to Talk to Girls at Parties, starring Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp and Nicole Kidman, arrives on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Aug. 14 from Lionsgate.

Neil Gaiman’s 2006 short story adapted by screenwriters Philippa Goslett and John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) follows Enn (Sharp), a shy suburban teenager who sneaks out to after-hours punk parties in 1977 London. One night, Enn and his friends meet some teens who seem like they’re from another planet; in fact, they are from another planet, visiting Earth to complete a rite of passage. Enn falls for alien Zan (Fanning).

The Blu-ray ($21.99) and DVD ($19.98) include deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and audio commentary with director Mitchell, Fanning, and Sharp.

MVD Adds Six Titles to its ‘Rewind’ Retro Collection

Independent home entertainment supplier MVD Entertainment Group has announced the spring and summer release schedule for its camp/cult/retro MVD Rewind Collection, launched in December 2017 with the Blu-ray Disc release of D.O.A.

Six titles are in the pipeline, including The Return of Swamp Thing, a superhero film based on the DC Comics character. Due May 8 in a Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo pack at a suggested list price of $39.95, the movie revolves around Dr. Alec Holland, a noble scientist who in a powerful explosion is coated him with a bio-restorative formula that sets him ablaze. Jumping into a nearby swamp for relief from the flames, Holland is transformed into the muck-encrusted, half-human/half plant Swamp Thing.

In the 1989 sequel, Dick Durock reprises his role as Swamp Thing as he falls in love with Abigail Arcane (Heather Locklear), step-daughter of a mad scientist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Arcane owns a plant store and is more comfortable talking to her plants than to men in the local singles bar. When she meets Swamp Thing she falls in love as well. Swamp Things winds up rescuing her from the the evil Dr. Arcane, his security forces, and his army of mutant creatures.

Also due May 8 is Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God … Be Back by Five (Blu-ray Disc only, $29.95), 1998 indie that was co-written, produced and stars 1980s icon John Cryer. The film is about a pair of friends looking for a third childhood friend whom they fear may be homeless and mentally ill, and is loosely based on a true story involving Cryer and a former classmate.

Due May 22 is director Pierre De Moro’s Savannah Smiles (Blu-ray Disc/DVD, $34.95), a family comedy from 1982 in which the young daughter of a politician runs away in an effort to get some attention from her parents. She ends up hiding in a car that belongs to a pair of two-bit criminals, and the result is a unique and unlikely bonding experience.

Two more films are coming on June 12, 2006’s Abominable and 1990’s Lionheart, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, both in Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo packs at suggested list prices of $34.95 and $39.95, respectively.

The final summer MVD Rewind Collection release is 1986’s Windrider, starring a 19-year-old Nicole Kidman 1986, The romantic comedy, which costars Tom Burlinson as an enthusiastic surfer attempting to develop a new, high tech surfboard, has never before been released on a home video format in North America. It will be out July 24 in a Blu-ray Disc special edition priced at $29.95.