Director Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi actioner Universal Soldier arrives June 21 on 4K Ultra HD plus Blu-ray plus digital Steelbook from Lionsgate.
The 1992 sci-fi classic stars Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD, Double Team, Double Impact, Kickboxer), Dolph Lundgren (Johnny Mnemonic, Masters of the Universe, Rocky IV), Ally Walker (Kazaam, While You Were Sleeping, TV’s “Profiler”), Ed O’Ross (Dick Tracy, Red Heat, Lethal Weapon) and Jerry Orbach (TV’s “Law & Order,” Broadway Bound, Beauty and the Beast).
In the film, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) and Sgt. Andrew Scott ( Lundgren) are two soldiers who kill each other in Vietnam and are brought back to life 25 years later for a secret government program. Known as “Unisols,” they are genetically enhanced, unstoppable killing machines without memory, feelings or free will. But when Deveraux’s memory starts to return and he escapes the program, a superhuman chase across the country begins.
Special features include audio commentary by Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Van Damme and Lundgren; audio commentary by Emmerich and Devlin; the “A Tale of Two Titans” featurette; the “Guns, Genes, and Fighting Machines” featurette; an alternate ending; behind-the-scenes footage; and the trailer.
Street 4/26/22; Lionsgate; Sci-Fi; Box Office $19.06 million; $29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, disaster action, strong language, and some drug use. Stars Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Michael Peña, Carolina Bartczak.
Roland Emmerich has made a career of turning absurd premises into a springboard for zany visual effects. But he’s a long way from the salad days of Stargate and Independence Day.
Emmerich’s latest formulaic sci-fi disaster movie, which he directed, co-wrote and produced, is called Moonfall, because it involves the moon literally falling out of the sky. But since that’s not a problem any off-the-rack action hero can easily solve, Emmerich and his writing team have to contrive a backstory for the moon that the heroes can exploit in order to save Earth from it. And this isn’t any ordinary plot device, it’s nature-of-existence-type stuff — an idea that would usually be the subject of multi-season space operas, condensed into a few minutes of exposition within a half-hour of the end of the movie.
Anyway, the story finds Earth on the brink of destruction as debris and gravity from the approaching moon cause widespread damage. But a pair of former astronauts (Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson), with the help of a conspiracy podcaster (John Bradley) figure out the nature of the moon’s sudden change in orbit, and devise a plan to fix it by hauling a space shuttle out of a museum and sending it back into space.
That makes this the second film in the last few months, Don’t Look Up being the other, that drags a space shuttle out of retirement to lead a mission to save Earth. It’s basically impossible given how much those ships have been disassembled for display purposes, but as far as Moonfall is concerned it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ridiculousness on display. It’s not as if scientific accuracy or the laws of physics are going to be limiting factors of an Emmerich script.
There’s a point in Moonfall where you just have to tip your cap to the filmmakers for not only embracing the absurdity of their premise, but one-upping the insanity at every turn while taking it completely seriously. And when one of those filmmakers is Emmerich, that’s saying something.
Pretty much every Emmerich movie uses a high-concept premise as an excuse for some splendid visual effects imagery contextually strung together by tropes and melodrama, and Moonfall is no exception. If anything, it’s just proof that Emmerich isn’t really making movies anymore, he’s making drinking games.
The rules are simple enough. Take a drink anytime a disaster-movie cliché pops up involving the down-on-their-luck heroes, their hacky family drama, or the outsider who is thrust into the spotlight. Even better, start chugging when you recognize a plot device from another film. A partial list for Moonfall will include:
Of course, it’s not as if Emmerich’s better-regarded earlier films are so much better in quality, at least as far as the writing is concerned. After all, even Stargate needed decade’s worth of TV shows produced by someone else to cover up the plot holes in that film.
The Moonfall Blu-ray includes Emmerich with co-writer/producer/composer Harald Kloser providing a feature-length commentary track, which doesn’t amount to much as the pair spend the bulk of it either describing what’s happening on screen or stating the obvious when it comes to story development. There’s a few good stories here and there about the cast and dealing with COVID quarantines during an efficient 61-day shoot, but not much more in the way of substance.
More insights into the making of the film can be found in “Against Impossible Odds: Making Moonfall,” a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about 59 minutes in total.
A bit better is the 26-minute “Exploring the Moon: Past, Present and Future,” which is more of a conventional documentary about the moon and its history and characteristics.
On the fun side is “KC Houseman Speaks the Truth!,” consisting of four videos of Bradley’s character explaining conspiracy theories about the moon, totaling about eight minutes.
In the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, the 4K and regular Blu-ray discs each have the same extras on them.
Action-adventure director Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall arrives on digital April 1 and on 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD, and on demand April 26 from Lionsgate.
Emmerich (Midway, “Independence Day” franchise) and writers Emmerich, Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen, the film stars Halle Berry (Monsters Ball, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Patrick Wilson (Midway, “The Conjuring” franchise), John Bradley (TV’s “Game of Thrones,” Marry Me), Michael Peña (TV’s “Narcos,” Fantasy Island), Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete, Spontaneous), Kelly Yu (TV’s “Lost Promise”), Eme Ikwuakor (TV’s “On My Block,” “Inhumans”), Carolina Bartczak (TV’s upcoming “Painkiller”), and Donald Sutherland (“The Hunger Games” franchise, TV’s “The Undoing”).
In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving the world, but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Wilson), and conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (Bradley) believe her. They mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space.
Special features include audio commentary by Emmerich and writer/producer/composer Harald Kloser; “Against Impossible Odds: Making Moonfall“; “Exploring the Moon: Past, Present, and Future,” which covers what we have learned about the moon through the ages; “K.C. Houseman Speaks the Truth!,” featuring recent viral videos from megastructurist K.C. Houseman; and “Sounds of the Moon,” which covers how the filmmakers utilized sound effects to bring the world inside of the moon to life.
The sci-fi film The Colony, the thriller Megan Is Missing, a Target-exclusive Steelbook of Rob Zombie’s 31 and the 1986 Patrick Swayze starrer Steel Dawn are among the titles on the October disc slate from Lionsgate.
Executive produced by Roland Emmerich, the sci-fi thriller film The Colony arrives on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Oct. 12. In the film, Earth has been decimated by climate change, pandemics and war. Years after the ruling elite escaped to another planet, a mission was launched to find out if a return to an uninhabitable Earth were possible. That mission was lost. Now, a lone astronaut in search of answers struggles to survive the hostile planet, and she must ultimately make a choice that will seal the fate of the wasteland’s remaining populace. Special features include audio commentary with writer-director Tim Fehlbaum and “Visions of the Future: Making The Colony.”
Director Rob Zombie’s 2016 horror film 31 will arrive Oct. 26 in a Blu-ray plus digital Steelbook exclusively at Target featuring new artwork from award-winning graphic artist Vance Kelly. Written, directed, and produced by Zombie, 31 is a Halloween horror-gore romp set in 1976, in which five happy-go-lucky carnies on a cross-country road trip are kidnapped and hunted by murderous clowns in an escape room-style hideaway in the middle of nowhere. The cast includes Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Richard Brake, Jane Carr and Malcolm McDowell. Special features include the featurette “In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn: The Making of 31,” a two-hour making-of documentary, and audio commentary with Zombie.
Also due Oct. 26 from the Vestron Video Collector’s Series is the 1986 Patrick Swayze starrer Steel Dawn — available for the first time on limited-edition Blu-ray (plus digital). Swayze stars as Nomad, a new breed of warrior in a post-nuclear era where laws are useless and water is more precious than blood. When his mentor is killed before he can take the job of peacemaker in the town of Meridian, Nomad lends the townspeople his fighting skills instead, gaining the trust of war widow Kasha and her son Jux. But after the evil Damnil learns of a secret water supply flowing under Kasha’s farm, his thirst turns truly murderous. Special features include audio commentary with director Lance Hool; an interview with screenwriter Doug Lefler; an interview with director of photography George Tirl; an interview with production designer Alex Tavoularis and costume designer Poppy Cannon-Reese; an archival featurette “Making of Steel Dawn“; a still gallery; and the theatrical trailer.
Megan Is Missing (2011) also arrives on Blu-ray Oct. 26. A cautionary tale from writer-director Michael Goi (Mary, “American Horror Story”) about the dangers of online communication, the film stars Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn and Dean Waite. The disappearance of 14-year-old Megan Stewart and her best friend Amy Herman is explored via video chats, webcam footage, home videos and news reports. Notorious on social media and banned in New Zealand, Megan Is Missing offers an unflinchingly candid look at the dangerous online world today’s teenagers face — a world that’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Special features include audio commentary with the cast and producers; audio commentary with the writer-director; a deleted scene; a blooper; Marc Klaasʼs statement about the film; “Rachel Quinn: A Look Back at Megan Is Missing“; the Amber Perkins/Nikki Christie original audition tape; the “Barrel Scene” audition; “A Tour of the Locations for Megan Is Missing“; a selection of stills from the production; the original one sheet; the shooting script; and the trailer.
Sci-Fi; $30.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense disaster sequences and some language.
Stars John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson.
There’s nothing like a Roland Emmerich disaster film to brighten your day during a pandemic, making our current situation look rosy by comparison.
The director (The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day) has given us many an epic about the end of the world, but none perhaps so gloriously catastrophic as 2012, in which we watch cities collapse and continents crumble as John Cusack mugs his way through the chaos famously predicted by the ancient Mayans. Basically, it’s something about planets aligning, solar flares, the center of the Earth heating up and the world ending in 2012 (Transpose the last two numbers and you get 2021. Hmmm…). But honestly Emmerich fans don’t really dwell too much on the whys and hows of it all. They’re too busy waiting for the next earthquake, volcano explosion and tsunami to wipe out America and the world. Iconic shots include Los Angeles sliding into the ocean, St. Peter’s Basilica rolling over worshippers, and the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier toppling onto the White House — all of which look disastrously wonderful in 4K with HDR.
Woody Harrelson offers some scene-chewing dark humor as a conspiracy theorist waiting at Yellowstone National Park for the explosion of the super volcano. The president (Danny Glover) and his daughter, a scientist who predicts it all, a Russian oligarch and his mistress, and a plane-flying stepdad all make appearances, but at the core of the film is Jackson Curtis (Cusack), a struggling writer and limo driver who is trying to save his ex-wife and children from pending doom. The actors add to the fun with performances that are, as always in an Emmerich film, bordering on the cartoonish, but just convincing enough to keep audiences relishing the action and going with the premise.
The 4K disc features Dolby Atmos sound and the Discovery Channel’s 2012 Apocalypse featurette, which speculates on the likelihood of the disastrous events in the film using footage from the movie. Actually, the featurette is interesting because it answers some of the scientific questions one might have about how probable this all is. (Basically, it’s not. Whew!)
Bonus features on the Blu-ray in the combo pack include an interactive Mayan calendar; five featurettes on bringing the epic to life; deleted scenes; an alternate ending; “Picture-in-Picture: Roland’s Vision”; feature commentary; and an Adam Lambert music video.
2012 is one of those 4K discs that enthusiasts are going to want pop into their player to show off their home theater.
The disaster film 2012 will come out on 4K Ultra HD Jan. 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
From Roland Emmerich, director of The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day, comes the action-adventure movie about the end of the world, starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson. As the world faces a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, cities collapse and continents crumble.
Bonus features on the 4K disc include Dolby Atmos sound and Discovery Channel’s 2012 Apocalypse featurette. Bonus features on Blu-ray include an interactive Mayan calendar; five featurettes on bringing the epic to life; deleted scenes; an alternate ending; “Picture-in-Picture: Roland’s Vision”; feature commentary; and an Adam Lambert music video.
Director-producer Roland Emmerich is known for epic science-fiction battles between humans, aliens and monsters, but it was the film of an actual battle in World War II that he waited two decades to make.
While collaborating with Emmerich on another project, screenwriter Wes Tooke asked the director, “What’s the one that got away?”
Emmerich told him it was the story of the battle of Midway, the 1942 clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy that marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater. He’d tried to make it while at Sony 20 years earlier, but the budget and subject weren’t right for the studio. Thus, with Tooke as screenwriter, Emmerich got together a production team to film Midway, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, telling the story of the leaders and sailors in the battle.
Midway is available on digital, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
“I wanted to make this movie for 20 years, and I’m glad I finally made it,” said Emmerich in the disc commentary.
“Roland insisted that we make every effort to make all aspects of the film as accurate as possible,” Tooke said. “Everything that happens onscreen, in terms of historical events, is factual and in chronological order. It begins in December 1941 with Pearl Harbor and ends in June with the Battle of Midway. It is the most dramatic six months in the history of warfare.”
The cast includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson.
Quaid plays Admiral William “Bull” Halsey.
“Midway is an amazing story, and it has never been told right,” he noted in the extras.
Harrelson is legendary Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who is given the position of Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, famously termed “the most difficult job in the world,” after the attack at Pearl Harbor.
“Everybody was very conscientious about trying to make it real, and I think they got it right,” said Harrelson in the extras.
One hard-to-believe fact about the Midway battle is the harrowing way the dive-bombers attacked the Japanese ships. It was one of the aspects of the battle that got Emmerich interested in telling the story. In the film, viewers travel along with the pilots as they plummet precipitously toward the target, drop the bomb and pull up at the last minute.
“I wanted to show how incredibly dangerous these dives were,” Emmerich said in the extras. “What these people did — they were pretty much missiles, what we do today with missiles. They were manned missiles, these planes. The later you deployed a bomb, the more chance you had to hit a target.”
The authenticity didn’t stop there. Filmmakers were scrupulous in recreating the era and the weapons of World War II, building replicas of both the torpedo- and bomb-dropping planes, as well as other equipment right down to the screws, nuts and bolts that aren’t used anymore. They were also able to shoot at historic locations.
“When you’re looking at a building that has bullet holes on the side of it from the attack in 1941, you know, ‘OK, we’re going to tell this story as truthfully as we can,”’ said Wilson, in the extras.
Wilson plays Edwin Layton, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer, just one of the actual participants in the battle who are memorialized in the film. Nick Jonas, who was offered many parts, chose to play radioman Bruno Gaido, known for heroically shooting down a Japanese plane before it hit his carrier. He was later lost in the battle. “I wanted to do justice to Bruno because he was a real American hero,” he said. Skrein is Dick Best, the unsung hero pilot of Midway who destroys Japanese ships, but never flies again due to injury.
Emmerich was also careful to acknowledge the bravery of the Japanese, casting several renowned Japanese actors.
“When you make a war movie and you show one side as the bad guys and the other side as the good guys, I think you don’t do war justice because I think you have to understand what was the Japanese side,” he said in the extras. “It enlightens people. It shows that they are also human. They’re also brave.”
The director hopes the film is able to stand as a testament to the Greatest Generation.
“I’m thrilled that we had the opportunity to tell this story because young people today don’t always know the stories about those who fought for their freedom,” Emmerich said. “I think that without the generation who fought in WWII, our world would be very different.”
4K ULTRA HD / BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
“Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” Featurette
“The Men of Midway” Featurette
“Roland Emmerich: Man on a Mission” Featurette
“Turning Point: The Legacy of Midway” Featurette
“Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code” Featurette
“We Met at Midway: Two Survivors Remember” Featurette
DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
“Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” Featurette
The disc and digital editions of the film will include an audio commentary by Emmerich, the film’s trailer, and the featurettes “Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” and “The Men of Midway.”
The Blu-ray versions will also include the featurettes “Roland Emmerich: Man on a Mission,” “Turning Point: The Legacy of Midway,” “Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code” and “We Met at Midway: Two Survivors Remember.”
The 4K Ultra HD disc will include Dolby Vision and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
The 1992 actioner Universal Soldier will come out on 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital) and digital 4K Nov. 5 from Lionsgate.
Directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, upcoming World War II epic Midway), Universal Soldier stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, alongside Ally Walker and Ed O’Ross. The film follows soldiers Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) and Sgt. Andrew Scott (Lundgren), who killed each other in Vietnam. But their demise proves to be just the beginning for the U.S. government, which brings both men back to life decades later for a secret anti-terrorism program.
Godzilla, the 1998 monster spectacle, debuts on 4K Ultra HD May 14 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
From Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the filmmaking team behind Independence Day, Godzilla stars Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Jean Reno (Léon: The Professional) as the unlikely heroes out to save New York City from the giant, fire-breathing monster and its babies hatching in Madison Square Garden. Following French atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific, an unknown creature is spotted passing through the Panama Canal. Scientist Niko Tatopolous is called in to investigate the matter, and he quickly arrives at the conclusion that a giant, irradiated lizard has been created by the explosions. Godzilla then makes its way north, landing in Manhattan to begin wreaking havoc in the big city.
Remastered in 4K from the original camera negative with High Dynamic Range, Godzilla also also includes Dolby Atmos sound. Bonus materials include a visual effects commentary, a behind-the-scenes segment with Charles Caiman, all-time best-of-Godzilla fight scenes, the “Heroes” music video by The Wallflowers, and three trailers.
Godzilla earned just over $136 million in U.S. theaters, considered a disappointment and prompting Sony Pictures to scrap plans for a sequel. It was the 23rd “Godzilla” movie, the first coming out in 1954 in Japan.