Wrath of Man

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/13/21;
Warner/MGM;
Action;
Box Office $27.4 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references.
Stars Jason Statham, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Chris Reilly, DeObia Oparei, Rob Delaney, Eddie Marsan.

Jason Statham’s fourth film with director Guy Ritchie is a brutal revenge thriller that uses a time-shifting narrative to maintain the mystery of its characters’ motivations and true identities.

Statham plays the newest employee of an armored truck company that is frequently targeted by a highly armed squad of thieves. His co-workers don’t think much of his icy demeanor until he single-handedly takes out a gang of attackers, which earns him the respect of his colleagues.

Yet it soon becomes clear he has another agenda, which relates to avenging one of the victims of the heist that opens the film — fantastically depicted in a single take from inside the van.

Ritchie, who also co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, directs with his usual flair for kinetic and brutal action, resulting in several extended shootouts that will leave the audience wondering who to trust.

The Blu-ray has contains no extras.

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Tom & Jerry

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner/HBO Max;
Family Comedy;
Box Office $45.6 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray.
Rated ‘PG’
for cartoon violence, rude humor and brief language.
Stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, Rob Delaney, Ken Jeong, Pallavi Sharda, Jordan Bolger, Patsy Ferran.

The new movie version of the classic “Tom & Jerry” cartoons is a departure of sorts for live-action adaptations of iconic animated animal franchises.

Instead of trying to render a CGI version of the characters that is more or less supposed to represent how they would look in the “real world,” often with awkward and unsatisfactory results, Tom & Jerry borrows from the Who Framed Roger Rabbit school and puts the characters in their traditional 2D animated glory interacting with a live-action environment.

The end result is a bit goofy but a lot of lighthearted fun, as the famed cat and mouse bring their violent rivalry to a fancy Manhattan hotel looking to host a high-profile wedding.

Caught in the middle is Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young drifter whose job delivering laundry is hampered when the duo crash into her fighting in Central Park while performing for loose change. Tom (the cat) wants to be a concert pianist, while Jerry (the mouse) just wants to find a place to live.

They all stumble upon the hotel, where Kayla smooth talks them into hiring her for the temp staff brought on to help with the fancy wedding of a couple of social influencers (Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda). With management not wanting Jerry’s mayhem to give people the impression the hotel is infested with mice, Kayla volunteers to catch him, and brings in Tom to help, much to the chagrin of her stern supervisor (Michael Peña).

Of course, chaos ensues in the form of some typical Tom and Jerry battles.

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To ease in the consistency of its worldbuilding, the film presents every animal as a 2D animated character, from pigeons flying through central park, to other cats harassing Tom, to Spike the bulldog (voiced by Bobby Cannavale), and even a pair of elephants brought in for the wedding.

About the only drawback is that Tom and Jerry are almost side characters in their own movie, serving more as plot devices to the story of Kayla trying to stay out of trouble and pulling off the wedding as her supervisor schemes to undermine her. Still, the film should keep younger family members entertained while remaining just whimsical enough for the older crowd to stay with it.

The Blu-ray and digital sellthrough versions of the film offer a lot of fun bonus materials relating to the making of the film. Among them are a 14-minute making-of featurette that serves as the primary glimpse behind the scenes. Supplementing this are a four-minute “Tome & Jerry’s World” featurette that presents the making of the film from their point of view, and a four-minute “The Feud” featurette that asks members of the cast and production team which of the duo they root for. Delving into the world of the film are a five minute “Inside the Wedding of Ben and Preeta” that is presenting like a reality show covering the extravagant wedding; a four-minute “Jerry’s ‘A House for a Mouse'” video that shows off how Jerry has adapted human objects to construct his home (salt shaker for a shower, cell phone for a TV, slipper for a bed, etc.), also presented like a reality show; and the five-minute “Guide to New York City Wildlife,” which profiles the various cartoon animals in the film.

There are also two “Scene Comes to Life” featurettes, with a five-minute look at the making of the wedding, and four minutes about when Tom and Jerry are locked up at the animal control facility.

Rounding out the package are a three-minute gag reel, and 13-minutes of deleted sequences with an introduction by director Tim Story. Most of the deleted material offers more background information on the characters, including an unused opening sequence of Tom and Jerry’s history together. The DVD version includes just the gag reel.

Originally published as a streaming review Feb. 28, 2021.

Deadpool 2

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Fox;
Action Comedy;
Box Office $318.37 million;
$29.99 DVD; $34.99 Blu-ray; $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material.
Stars Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Karan Soni, Brianna Hildebrand, Shioli Kutsuna, Eddie Marsan, Rob Delaney.

In the age of the superhero movie, you can always count on Deadpool to take the utter piss out of the genre — and in doing so, provide a bit of the counter-balance to how seriously some of the films take themselves.

Sure, movies like “Ant-Man” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” might lighten the mood a bit with some jokes and irreverent characters, but Deadpool takes it to that next level, where there is no reference that can’t be made, and no gag that is out of bounds.

And what makes it work is that, just like the comic books that inspire it, the “Deadpool” movies are also the very thing they are making fun of — intense action, complicated plots, larger-than-life characters. It’s just a healthy dose of meta-humor can go a long way in setting it apart.

In this second film, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself trying to protect a mutant teenager (Julian Dennison) from a mutant from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin) who wants to kill him before the kid fully unleashes his powers and becomes one of the world’s greatest villains.

To do that, and with the X-Men not available (thanks to one of several hilarious cameos), Deadpool forms X-Force, a team of marginal superheroes to help him rescue the kid and change the future.

With David Leitch taking over directing duties, the action is much more intense than the first film, and without the structural limitations of needing to tell Deadpool’s origin story, the script this time out doesn’t feel the need to follow any rules. (For example, with Brolin also playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, you can bet Deadpool 2 isn’t going to let that one slide without a comment).

Part of what makes the humor so effective is the commitment the filmmakers make to the material, putting absurd characters in the middle of a serious situation. The highlight is a pitch-perfect parody of a James Bond opening title sequence, complete with a haunting ballad sung to the hilt by Celine Dion.

The Blu-ray includes a 15-minute longer “Super Duper $@%!#& Cut” that, based on what some of the filmmakers say during the bonus materials, seems like it could have been the original version of the movie before it was trimmed for time and softened up a bit to hit the ‘R’ rating. This version has more violence, more guns, alternate jokes and some different music in parts. It’s an intriguing version but not a fundamentally different film.

The Super Duper cut is included on its own disc with no extras, as all the bonus materials are included with the disc containing the theatrical cut. And, as with the first film, the extras are a trove of Deadpool material from a hilarious marketing campaign.

This section includes several promotional spots and all the trailers, plus some international pieces such as Deadpool offering free tattoos to attendees of a Brazilian comic book convention. There are also a few music videos, including for Dion’s title-sequence tune, and a stills gallery.

The disc also offers a three-minute gag reel and a couple of deleted scenes, including the oft-mentioned scene in which Deadpool embarks on a quest to kill Baby Hitler (also included in the Super Duper cut).

The theatrical cut comes with a great audio commentary with Reynolds, Leitch, and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Warnick, who collectively discuss structuring the story and why they chose to include the gags that they did.

Finally, the Blu-ray includes about 75 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

“Deadpool Family Values: Cast of Characters” is a 15-minute profile of the characters; “David Leitch Not Lynch: Directing DP2” is a 12-minute look at the new director’s influence on the film and cast; “Deadpool’s Lips Are Sealed: Secrets and Easter Eggs” is a 13-minute look at how the film maintained secrecy while including a ton of surprises for fans; “Until Your Face Hurts: Alt Takes” is nine minutes mixing some of the alternate line readings with interviews about what makes a “Deadpool” film such a lively set; “Roll With the Punches: Action and Stunts” is a seven-minute look at the film’s action scenes; “The Deadpool Prison Experiment” is an 11-and-a-half examination of the film’s scenes set at a prison for mutants; “The Most Important X-Force Member” is a two-minute profile of Deadpool’s new pal Peter; “Chess With Omega Red” is a minute-long revelation of one of the other prisoners; “Swole and Sexy” is a two-minute profile of some of the film’s other characters; and “3 Minute Monologue” offers two minutes of Brolin’s ruminations as he gets into his Cable makeup.