The Batman

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/24/22;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $369.3 million;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for strong violent and disturbing content, drug content, strong language, and some suggestive material.
Stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Jayme Lawson, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell.

Director Matt Reeves’ The Batman brings an indie sensibility to the realm of the big-budget superhero. The film feels more like a 1970s crime saga than the slick, CGI-heavy spectacles most blockbuster comic book movies have become lately.

Unlike with many of the earlier adaptations, The Batman emphasizes the character’s skills as a detective rarther than as a gadget-happy vigilante — though there is plenty of that to go around as well. The story finds Batman (Robert Pattinson) teaming with Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to investigate the murder of Gotham City’s mayor by the Riddler (Paul Dano), who leaves a series of clues that threaten to unravel Gotham’s criminal underworld and bring chaos to the city.

Drawing inspiration from the grittier Batman comic storylines of the late 1980s and 1990s, the film presents the caped crusader as raw and unpolished, so obsessed with his vigilante pursuit of justice that he neglects his life as Bruce Wayne, much to the chagrin of his butler and caretaker, Alfred (Andy Serkis). Along the way, Batman finds an unlikely ally in proto-Catwoman Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), who has her own motivations for taking down the city’s mob bosses, including Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and the Penguin (Colin Farrell, unrecognizable in heavy makeup).

Taking place a couple of years into Batman’s war on crime in Gotham City, The Batman almost feels like it could take place after Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, sharing that film’s interest in grounding Batman more in realism than his more fantastical comic book roots. The film’s darker mood is helped immensely by a relentless, haunting musical score by Michael Giacchino.

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The Batman clocks in at a lengthy three hours and feels it, taking its time to establish the grungy hopelessness of Gotham City and not rushing through the particulars of the case at hand. Just as the film seems to reach an emotional catharsis through the resolution of one central mystery, it still has 50 minutes or so to contend with the Riddler’s grand plot, a pivot that feels more akin to a streaming miniseries. Ironically, after two hours of aping film noir, the film’s third act is the one that starts to feel most like a traditional Batman movie.

The film’s production design gives Gotham an appropriately worn out look, with a color palette awash in oranges and browns, grays and blacks, toning down any potential splashes of real color. The Batsuit and Batmobile feel homemade — Pattinson’s Batman a crusader with dirt under his fingernails as he tours the city on a motorcycle with his costume in a backpack, ready to jump into action.

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The Blu-ray includes a couple of deleted scenes. The most notable, running nearly six minutes, features Batman visiting a familiar Arkham Asylum prisoner to gain insights into the Riddler case, a la Silence of the Lambs. While interesting on its own, the scene spoils the character’s more-effective cameo that’s in the final film, and overall just doesn’t seem to mesh well with the proceedings. The other scene, running about two minutes, provides some interesting character dynamics as Selina is propositioned by the Penguin as she’s trying to infiltrate his nightclub to gain clues for Batman. Both scenes contain optional director’s commentary by Reeves.

Also included with the home video extras are about two hours of behind-the-scenes material featuring interviews with the key filmmakers, including Reeves sporting a bushy mustache that makes him look like a Commissioner Gordon stand-in himself.

The headliner, running nearly 54 minutes, is “Vengeance in the Making,” which provides a comprehensive look at the entire production. 

The eight-minute “Vengeance Meets Justice” looks at some of the parallels between Batman and Riddler; the six-minute “The Batman: Genesis” offers Pattinson and Reeves exploring their approach to Batman; the eight-and-a-half-minute “Becoming Catwoman” and the eight-minute “A Transformation: The Penguin” look at Kravitz’s and Farrell’s takes on their iconic characters; the 11-minute “The Batmobile” unveils the creation of this film’s iteration of Batman’s famous car; the five-minute “Looking for Vengeance” focuses on making the fight sequences; while the six minute “Anatomy of the Car Chase” and six-and-a-half-minute “Anatomy of the Wingsuit Jump” break down two key action scenes. The six-minute “Unpacking the Icons,” which is the only one of the featurettes offered on the DVD version, looks at the film’s tone and costume design.

Movies Anywhere offers an additional minute-long featurette called “Discover: Batmobile, Batsuit & Gadgets.”

‘The Batman’ Flies to Disc May 24, After Going on Sale Digitally April 18 at a Premium Price

The DC Comics-based film The Batman will arrive on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 24, following its debut for premium digital ownership and on HBO Max April 18, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film is directed by Matt Reeves from a screenplay by Reeves and Peter Craig, based on characters created by DC, and stars Robert Pattinson (Tenet, The Lighthouse).

In the film, more than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman (Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies — Alfred, Lt. James Gordon —amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens. When a killer targets Gotham City’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the masked crusader on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle, the Penguin, Carmine Falcone and the Riddler. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, the Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.

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The film also stars Zoë Kravitz (TV’s “Big Little Lies,” Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Selina Kyle; Paul Dano (Love & Mercy, 12 Years a Slave) as Edward Nashton, aka The Riddler; Jeffrey Wright (No Time to Die, “Westworld”) as Gordon; John Turturro (the “Transformers” films, “The Plot Against America”) as Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, “Interrogation”) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (“Farewell Amor”) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” films, Black Panther) as Alfred; and Colin Farrell (The Gentlemen, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Oz, aka The Penguin.

Special features on 4K Ultra HD disc and Blu-ray include:

  • “Vengeance in the Making”
  • “Vengeance Meets Justice”
  • “The Batman: Genesis”
  • “Becoming Catwoman”
  • “Looking for Vengeance”
  • “Anatomy of the Car Chase”
  • “Anatomy of the Wingsuit”
  • “A Transformation: The Penguin”
  • “The Batmobile”
  • “Unpacking the Icons”
  • deleted scenes with director’s commentary

 

Extras for premium digital ownership include all of the above except for “Unpacking the Icons.” The DVD includes only “Unpacking the Icons.”

Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘The Batman’ Eyeing $100+ Million Box Office Debut

DC Comics veteran superhero Batman returns to the big screen in Warner Bros. Pictures’ delayed theatrical release The Batman debuting March 4 worldwide, except in Russia. The action-drama starring Robert Pattinson as the caped crusader, and directed by Matt Reeves, is set to bow in China on March 18.

Industry scuttlebutt suggest the movie could generate more than $100 million in ticket sales in North America, thanks to a 4,300-screen debut, early pre-screenings at Imax and AMC Theatres, the traditional Thursday screenings, and no concurrent access on the HBO Max streaming platform. The film reportedly took in $21.6 million in Thursday previews. 

The Batman is Warner’s first exclusive theatrical release since Tenet in late 2020 from former “Batman” director Christopher Nolan. Notably, Nolan’s last Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Warner’s controversial 2021 pandemic-era decision releasing all theatrical titles concurrently on Max was seen as both a boon to streaming video and blow to the recovering box office. The studio’s parent WarnerMedia effectively ended the strategy in 2022.

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Regardless, The Batman appears on track to become only the second movie since Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home to top triple-digit revenue in its debut. “No Way Home” is expected to sell another $3.6 million worth of tickets to bring its North American tally above $785 million.

Sony’s current box office hit, Uncharted, co-starring Peter Parker/Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, is projected to generate $10 million across 3,800 screens, bringing its domestic total to $100 million. MGM/United Artists Releasing’s Dog, starring Channing Tatum, is projected to sell $7.5 million worth of tickets, bringing its total box office above $41 million.

Jason Kilar: ‘The Batman’ Movie Streaming on HBO Max April 19, 2022

The Batman, Warner Bros. Pictures’ reboot of the venerable superhero franchise featuring Robert Pattinson as the newest caped crusader, is set to begin streaming on HBO Max on April 19, 2022. The Matt Reeves-directed movie hits theaters on March 4.

The release dates were reiterated by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar in a recent Vox’s Recode podcast — the executive’s second Q&A session in 2021.

With WarnerMedia’s controversial 2021 day-and-date theatrical/Max distribution strategy in its final days, the media company is looking to implement an industry-standard 45-day exclusive theatrical window for its box office slate in 2022. That includes pending DC’s Black Adam, The Flash, and separately, Elvis, among others.

“I feel really, really good knowing that [those movies], and a whole host of other movies, are literally going to be showing up on day 46 on Max in a variety of territories all over the world,” Kilar said. “That is a very, very big change that I don’t think people appreciate, and I feel really good about it.”

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Indeed, HBO traditionally does not have access to theatrical titles for at least eight months after their box office runs.

Kilar, who is likely to exit his position at WarnerMedia after its sale to Discovery passes regulatory approval sometime next year, said the concurrent release strategy has helped drive Max subscriptions — while at times undermining a non-blockbuster film’s box office potential. Warner’s last weekend box office winner was Godzilla vs. Kong on March 31.

“Think about when movies [used to show] up on HBO,” Kilar said. “That is a huge change from where things were in 2018, 2017, 2016.”

Tenet

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $57.9 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language.
Stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, Clémence Poésy, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh.

Christopher Nolan’s films often employ time-shifting narrative techniques that challenge the viewer to pay attention in order to be rewarded with a compelling entertainment experience.

With Tenet, is it possible that Nolan has crafted such a bizarre premise that even his smartest fans will have trouble wrapping their heads around it?

If there were a movie or TV show in which the characters were watching a “Christopher Nolan-style” movie, and then the makers of that program had to create a fake film to both represent and satirize a Nolan movie, something like Tenet is probably what they would come up with.

The story involves a CIA agent (John David Washington) who finds himself caught up with a super-secret organization on a mission to stop World War III from being started by enemies from the future who are able to invert the entropy of objects so that the travel backwards in time. The main enemy in the present is a Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh) who wants to assemble a device that will wipe out time itself, causing a paradox.

A common trait to Nolan’s films is how much they seem to be meta-commentaries on the art of filmmaking, and Tenet is no exception. In addition to the editing techniques that alter the flow of time much like the way a viewer can jump around a movie using a home video player, Washington’s character is referred to only as “The Protagonist,” a word that literally the word that means the main character of a story.

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At its simplest level, the film could be described as a time travel spy thriller, but that does little to convey just what a viewer is in for. Characters fight other characters who move backwards through the scene, then discover inversion machines that allow them to revisit earlier scenes, forcing characters in two different time frames to interact with each other, culminating in one of the most cinematically engaging, if utterly nonsensical, battles one is likely to witness.

Unlike Nolan’s earlier movies, such as Memento, Inception or Interstellar, where the time-shifting techniques have a certain logic to them, the exposition in Tenet would seem to defy all sense of rationality, yet they still work within the confines of the story as long as one doesn’t think about it too hard.

When a scientist character in the film trying to explain inverted time tells the hero, “Don’t try to understand it … just feel it,” she’s basically giving instructions to the audience, too.

And that’s pretty much the only way a viewer can make sense of what’s going on — by not trying to. Just enjoy the film in the moment, accept the notion that the characters have a handle on it, and take it in as an expression of pure cinema.

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There have been some grumblings about the sound mix favoring background noise and music to the point of making the dialogue hard to hear, and requiring subtitles, but I was able to make out what the characters were saying just fine. Perhaps it’s just a factor of getting used to it after multiple viewings.

The Blu-ray includes a comprehensive, multi-part behind-the-scenes documentary that runs about an hour and 15 minutes and covers the production from Nolan’s conception of it, to casting it, to crafting the action scenes, to post-production, editing and music. Viewers who’ve just watched the film and are still trying to make sense of it can take some satisfaction in seeing the stunt coordinator breaking his brain trying to conceive of how to depict a fight between two characters moving in opposite directions through time, and know they aren’t alone.

‘Tenet’ Arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD; Other New Home Releases Include ‘War With Grandpa,’ ‘Echo Boomers,’ ‘Infidel’

Warner Bros.’ Tenet, the closest thing to a theatrical blockbuster  since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, becomes available on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 15.

Despite the raging virus, the film was released theatrically over the Labor Day weekend and wound up generating around $50 million in domestic ticket sales, a far cry from what had been expected for the high-profile  espionage thriller from The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan.

Also newly available for home viewing is the Universal Pictures comedy The War With Grandpa, starring Robert De Niro, which becomes available Dec. 15 through digital retailers such as FandangoNow, Redbox On Demand, Google Play and Microsoft a week ahead of its Dec. 22 disc debut.

Tenet stars John David Washington as a secret agent, known as “the Protagonist,” who manipulates the flow of time to stop a third World War. The film’s international ensemble cast also includes Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, and Martin Donovan, with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh.

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The War With Grandpa stars De Niro as a grandfather who tangles with his grandson over rights to the young boy’s room after he moves in with his family. The film also was released theatrically amid widespread closures and restrictions and pulled in around $18 million in the United States and Canada.

The week’s slate of new home releases also includes Warner’s The Wolf of Snow Hollow, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (with digital code); Paramount’s Echo Boomers (DVD + digital); and Universal Pictures’ Infidel (DVD and Blu-ray Disc).

Written and directed by, and starring, Jim Cummings, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a reimagining of the werewolf legend about a small-town sheriff who, while struggling with family problems and a lackluster department, is tasked with solving a series of brutal murders that are occurring on the full moon. The cast also includes Riki Lindhome, Jimmy Tatro, Marshall Allman, Chloe East, Annie Hamilton and the late Robert Forster in one of his final roles. The Blu-ray and DVD include the featurette “The Story and the Genre.” The Blu-ray also has the featurettes “The Impetus,” “Working With Jim Cummings” and “The Design of the Werewolf.”

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Echo Boomers is a crime thriller about a recent college graduate (Patrick Schwarzenegger) who leaves school in debt and is pulled into a criminal underground operation with a group of modern-day Robin Hoods who steal from the rich and give to themselves.

Infidel is a thriller about an American journalist (Doug Rawlins) who is kidnapped while attending a religious conference in the Middle East and held hostage by the Iranian regime, which accuses him of espionage. His wife (Claudia Karvan) takes matters into her own hands and tries to find her husband and bring him back home.

‘Tenet’ to Debut on Digital and Disc — Including 4K — Dec. 15

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet will arrive on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and digital Dec. 15 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Written, directed and produced by Nolan (Inception, Dunkirk), Tenet opened globally in August 2020 and has grossed $350 million to date, with anticipated theatrical openings in the major markets of New York and Los Angeles still to come. Tenet will be available to preorder from digital and physical retailers beginning Nov. 10.

In the film, armed with only one word — Tenet — and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (John David Washington) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time — not time travel, inversion.

Tenet features an international ensemble cast led by Washington (BlacKkKlansman, TV’s “Ballers”). The film also stars Robert Pattinson (the “Twilight” films, The Lighthouse, upcoming The Batman), Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Great Gatsby), Dimple Kapadia (Angrezi Medium), Martin Donovan (Ant-Man, Fahrenheit 451), Fiona Dourif (Cult of Chucky), Yuri Kolokolnikov (The Hitman’s Bodyguard), Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Clémence Poésy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (The Avengers: Age of Ultron), with Michael Caine (Inception, The Cider House Rules, The Dark Knight) and Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk, Murder on the Orient Express).

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Extras include“Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of Tenet,” an hour-long exploration of the development and production of the film as told by the cast and crew.

‘The Lighthouse’ Comes Ashore on Digital Dec. 20, Disc Jan. 7

The Lighthouse arrives on digital Dec. 20  and on demand, Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Jan. 7 from Lionsgate.

Directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch), The Lighthouse stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in a hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s. As an approaching storm threatens to sweep them from the rock and strange apparitions emerge from the fog, each man begins to suspect that the other has become dangerously unmoored.

The film made $10.2 million in domestic theaters.

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Special features include an audio commentary with the co-writer and director Eggers, a making-of featurette, and deleted scenes.

High Life

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/9/19;
Lionsgate;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $1.23 million;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for disturbing sexual and violent content including sexual assault, graphic nudity, and for language.
Stars Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth. 

With a title more evocative of a stoner comedy than a ponderous science-fiction film, the unconventional High Life explores the existential crisis of a spaceship crew on a seemingly hopeless voyage.

Robert Pattinson gives a restrained yet effecting performance as Monte, a man raising a baby alone on a ship in deep space. The rest of the crew has already died during the long voyage.

Through flashbacks, we learn of the ship’s mission. With Earth in the midst of an energy crisis, it recruits a crew of prisoners to journey to a distant black hole in an experiment to harness its power. But with the ship traveling at near the speed of light, hundreds of years will pass on Earth during the mission, meaning the crew will never see their families again.

To ensure obedience, the ship’s computer is programmed to shut down life support every day unless it receives a report detailing a set of required tasks and maintenance has been completed.

The ship’s doctor, Dibs (Juliette Binoche) is obsessed with using artificial insemination to impregnate one of the female crewmembers, but background radiation prevents the fetuses from developing.

With the crew forbidden from engaging in sexual contact with other crewmembers, their primary means of combating ennui is a sex room with an elaborate machine to satiate their desires.

Monte, however, refuses to partake in any sexual activities, a decision that likely explains how he ends up the last crewmember alive.

Over time, we learn how the crew’s numbers dwindle as a result of their desperation and criminal natures, and how Monte ends up with a daughter to give him a modicum of purpose to carry on a seemingly pointless daily routine.

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Director Claire Denis has crafted a film that is visually striking but viscerally unnerving, thanks to a constant sense of dread and discomfort as it explores the baser nature of humanity. The film is practically an ode to bodily fluids of all kinds.

The visual effects seem to stem from a practicality that helps serve the premise. The ship is stark and utilitarian, essentially a giant box in space, a starkly efficient design for what is essentially a prison barge.

In the void of space, High Life finds not the profundity of 2001: A Space Odyssey or the optimism of Interstellar, but a sense of resignation to the inevitable. And in doing so, it redirects its basic questions about the nature of existence back upon the audience.

The Blu-ray includes two decent featurettes that run about a half-hour in total.

The 19-minute “Audacious, Passionate, and Dangerous: Making High Life” is a general behind-the-scenes piece about the production, featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers discussing the project and their interpretations of it.

The 11-minute “Visualizing the Abyss: The Look of High Life” deals more with the design of the spaceship and the sets, and depicting the science of flying at lightspeed toward a black hole.

‘Twilight’ Coming on 4K Ultra HD From Lionsgate

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Twilight’s theatrical debut, Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment will  release the film on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and digital) and all five of “The Twilight Saga” films on Blu-ray Combo Pack (two Blu-rays, one DVD, plus digital) and digital 4K Ultra HD on Oct. 23.

Fathom Events will also celebrate the anniversary with a two-day movie event on Oct. 21 and 23 on approximately 450 screens nationwide. Fathom will give away mini-posters (while supplies last) to fans and will treat them to an introduction from director Catherine Hardwicke and an exclusive sneak peek of a brand-new special feature.

Based on the book series by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as the star-crossed lovers Edward and Bella alongside Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone and Kellan Lutz.  Bella Swan (Stewart) doesn’t expect much when she moves to the small town of Forks, until she meets the mysterious and handsome Edward Cullen (Pattinson) — a boy who’s hiding a dark secret: he’s a vampire.

The Twilight 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack ($22.99) includes hours of special features and a new, never-before-seen featurette, “Twilight Tour…10 Years Later,” which follows director Hardwick and actor Rathbone through memorable sets from the film.

The 4K releases include Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.

All five of the Blu-ray Combo Packs ($14.99 each) feature new box art designs from renowned illustrator Justin Erikson. The combo packs include special features such as deleted scenes, character featurettes, cast interviews, and music videos. TwilightNew MoonEclipse, and Breaking Dawn – Part 1 also include both the theatrical and the extended versions of the film.