Free Guy

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/12/21;
Disney/20th Century;

Comedy;
Box Office $119.68 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for strong fantasy violence throughout, language and crude/suggestive references.
Stars Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar.

The initial marketing campaigns for Free Guy suggested it would be another film attempting to present the story from the point of view of characters otherwise not considered alive. In this case, a non-player character (NPC) in a video game, making the film essentially a live-action spin on Wreck-It Ralph.

However, what appears at first to be another derivative story about video games is instead a smartly written, sharply funny sci-fi action comedy.

That isn’t to say the film is wholly original, but it blends recognizable elements from a number of sources in a way that works to give the film its own flavor.

Ryan Reynolds plays Guy, an NPC in a video game called Free City, which is also the name of the city that serves as the game’s primary location where players engage in all sorts of action-adventure missions such as car chases and bank heists. Guy works as a bank teller at the city’s bank that is always being robbed, but he dreams of a life of more than just needless repetition, and notes that the people having all the fun are wearing sunglasses.

So, one day, he confronts a bank robber and steals their glasses, and when he puts them on he discovers a whole new world that exists on top of his own, as he can now access the heads up display of the gamer, allowing him to engage them on their terms.

So, off the bat we get elements of The Lego Movie, with the conformist character’s desire to expand his horizons; The Matrix, with the simulated world where outsiders can manipulate time and space; and They Live, with the sunglasses unveiling the true nature of the world.

Guy then meets Molotovgirl (Jodie Comer), who fits all the parameters of Guy’s ideal woman, so he instantly falls in love with her. She’s a player who seems to be on a different mission than everyone else, and at first believes Guy is a another player like herself, so she gives him tips on how to level-up in the game in order to be able to help her.

In the real world she’s actually a programmer named Millie who once helped design an open-source gaming code that was purchased by a larger company but then scrapped, though she believes it was used as the base code for Free City, so she’s trying to infiltrate the game to find proof (shades of Tron).

She and other gamers soon come to realize that Guy is in fact an NPC, which astonishes them, while alarming the owner (Taika Waititi) of the company that makes Free City, who is trying to stop Millie from uncovering the truth about the game.

It turns out there’s an actual story reason why Guy seems to be an NPC come to life, which not only plays into the larger narrative of what Millie is seeking, but also makes the film a legitimate piece of sci-fi with a message about pushing past the constraints that sometimes seem built into existence. But the film also pokes fun at gaming culture, including live-streaming game play.

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The 4K Ultra HD combo pack includes the film on a 4K disc with no extras, and a regular Blu-ray with the film and all the extras, consisting of several behind-the-scenes featurettes, a five-minute gag reel and some deleted scenes.

The featurettes, which run about 45 minutes total, are pretty extensive and showcase how director Shawn Levy and his talented cast crafted them film using some unique visual effects techniques. There’s a 15-minute general making-of, a seven-minute piece on Comer, an eight-minute piece on Waititi, and a 15-minute examination of a key action sequence with Reynolds. There’s also a two-minute video about the visual effects contraption used to record some of the actors’ faces.

There are two minor deleted scenes — one runs about a minute and features Guy musing about the nature of the world, the other is a 30-second action gag — and a four-minute extended sequence.

The disc also includes three of the film’s trailers.

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Unfortunately, the disc doesn’t include any kind of commentary track, which could have been a fun one given the cast involved, especially if Reynolds and Waititi did one in character as their Marvel characters Deadpool and Korg, like they did for a YouTube reaction video to one of the trailers.

Disney’s ‘Free Guy’ Coming to Digital Sept. 28, Disc Oct. 12

Disney/20th Century Studios’ box office hit Free Guy is hitting retail channels next month, including digital sellthrough Sept. 28, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Oct. 12. The action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds has generated almost $59 million at the domestic box office, and $112 million worldwide.

Unlike Jungle Cruise and Black Widow, Disney gave Free Guy an exclusive 45-day theatrical window, beginning Aug. 13.

Reynolds plays a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game decides to become the hero of his own story — one he rewrites himself. Now, in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way, before it’s too late.

Bonus features include deleted and extended scenes: “Guy and Buddy Hit the Beach,” “Hot Nuts Gets Blown,” and “NPC Rally”; a gag reel, and the following featurettes:

  • “Dude vs. Guy” — Reynolds, director Shawn Levy and the creative and stunt teams reveal the innovative process of creating the ultimate showdown between Guy and the wildly amped-up, spray-tanned, frosted-tipped version of himself known as Dude.
  • “Creating Molotovgirl” — Jodie Comer transforms from a brilliant programmer to her fierce movie avatar. Watch as the award-winning action star and filmmakers deconstruct the conceptualization, evolution and execution of bringing Molotovgirl to life.
  • “It’s Taika’s World”Actor Taika Waititi makes the real world just as crazy with the over-the-top character Antwan. See him at work in this entertaining showcase of a genuinely talented and hilarious performer.
  • “Welcome to Free City”Delve into the reality-skewing universe that is Free City, as revealed by director Shawn Levy, the cast, and its inventive creative teams. Find out how they transformed a real metropolis into a virtual playground where anything is possible.

‘Free Guy’ Reigns Supreme Again at Weekend Box Office

Disney/20th Century Studio’s action comedy Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, held off cute animated puppies and Hugh Jackman at the domestic box office, generating an estimated $18.8 million in revenue across more than 4,000 North American screens through Aug. 22. The tally is about 34% less than the movie’s previous weekend opening of $28.4 million. To date, the movie has generated more than $63 million in the U.S., and $112 million worldwide.

The resilient showing masked a weak overall box office that saw less than $60 million in ticket sales — the lowest weekend tally since June 20.

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In the second spot, with almost $13 million in revenue across 3,100 screens ($34.5 million globally), was Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie, an impressive debut considering the target audience is under the age of 12. The animated feature crushed Warner Bros. Pictures’ Reminiscence, starring Hugh Jackman, with just $2 million in reported revenue across 3,200 screens. The movie, along with Warner’s entire 2021 theatrical slate, is streaming for free to HBO Max subscribers for the first 31 days of release.

How bad did it get for Warner? Reminiscence revenue finished behind a pack of repeat showings, including Disney’s Jungle Cruise with $6.2 million ($92.5 million worldwide); Sony Pictures’ Don’t Breathe 2 with $5 million ($19.6 million); MGM’s Respect ($3.8 million, $15.1 million); The Suicide Squad ($3.4 million, $49.2 million); Lionsgate new release The Protege ($2.9 million) and Searchlight Pictures’ opening weekend bow of The Night House at $2.8 million.

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/17/21;
Lionsgate;
Action Comedy;
Box Office $37.74 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content.
Stars
Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman.

The sequel to 2017’s The HItman’s Bodyguard, like its predecessor, is an affable actioner that coasts on irreverent humor and a solid cast that appears to be having fun with the proceedings.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard looks in on disgraced personal bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is having nightmares about Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), the notorious hitman from the first film he was tasked with protecting against agents of a European despot he was set to testify against.

As a result of those events, Bryce has been refused recertification by the bodyguard licensing agency, and is instructed by a therapist to take a long vacation to put thoughts of violence behind him. His sabbatical to a tropical beach is short-lived, however, when he is recruited by Darius’ wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek, who gets to expand her small role from the first movie) to help rescue her husband from an international cartel.

Extracting him embroils the trio in a larger plot involving a Greek shipping magnate and criminal mastermind (Antonio Banderas) who seeks revenge against the European Union for imposing economic sanctions on Greece.

As pressure on them mounts from the Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) overseeing the operation, Bryce turns to his stepfather (Morgan Freeman) for help, which only gets them into more trouble.

Another subplot involves Sonia and Darius trying to have a baby, but her loyalty is called into question when it turns out she and the tycoon used to be an item.

What the film lacks in subtlety it makes up for with inventive mayhem and bloody action juxtaposed by the odd couple relationship between the Kincaids, who seem to enjoy unleashing casual violence on their enemies, and Bryce, who insists on tackling the mission without killing anyone or even using a gun.

As with the first movie, the breezy attitude of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard makes it a fun diversion, but it’s unlikely to have much staying power after the credits roll.

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The Blu-ray includes a five-minute gag reel and several good bonus featurettes, including the nine-minute “Ryan, Sam, Salma: One F’d Up Family,” the seven-minute “Gone Soft: The New Michael Bryce,” the eight-minute “#stuntlife” and the four-minute “On the Set of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The 4K disc has the same extra content as the regular Blu-ray disc.

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Batman: The Long Halloween — Part Two

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/10/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some violence and bloody images.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke, Katee Sackhoff, Titus Welliver, David Dastmalchian, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, Julie Nathanson, Fred Tatasciore, Alastair Duncan.

The second half of The Long Halloween delivers a satisfying conclusion to the animated adaptation of the famed 1990s Batman comic book story.

In Part Two, Gotham’s mob bosses struggle to maintain control of their traditional criminal enterprises as Gotham City continues to be overrun by costumed supervillains in the wake of Batman’s rise as the city’s protector. Picking up from the post-credits scene of Part One, Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) has enthralled Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) into signing over his assets to mafia kingpin Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver), but the scheme is thwarted by Catwoman (Naya Rivera). Meanwhile, the serial killer known as Holiday continues to wage war on Gotham’s crime families, leading to rampant speculation over the murderer’s true identity.

When suspicion falls upon district attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel), a surprise attack leaves him physically scarred, transforming him into the villainous Two-Face, and sealing the fate of Gotham’s future once and for all.

Part Two is darker and bloodier than the first half, with graphic animated violence throughout.

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Neither of the Blu-rays for parts one or two includes a featurette about the source material, which is pretty common for the DC Universe animated movies, so perhaps one is being saved for the upcoming 4K Blu-ray that combines both halves into a single longer film, which is slated for next year.

The Part Two Blu-ray does include featurettes about several earlier DC movies, plus a 10-minute preview of the upcoming Injustice animated movie based on the video game about DC heroes fighting each other.

The Blu-ray also includes the excellent two-part “Two-Face” episode depicting the villains origin on “Batman: The Animated Series.”

Also included is the 15-minute DC Showcase animated short Blue Beetle, which is a hilarious homage to the style of superhero cartoons from the 1960s and ’70s, even down to the goofy theme song. The story involves Blue Beetle (Matt Lanter) investigating a villain who uses soda to brainwash people into becoming his henchmen.

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‘Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ Shooting to Digital July 23, Disc Aug. 17

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, the sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard, arrives on digital July 23 and on 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD and on demand Aug. 17 from Lionsgate.

The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas and Morgan Freeman.

It earned $38 million at the domestic box office.

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The world’s most lethal odd couple — bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) and hit man Darius Kincaid (Jackson) — are back. Still unlicensed, Bryce is forced into action by Darius’s wife, the infamous international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Hayek). As Bryce is driven over the edge by the volatile spouses, the trio get in over their heads in a global plot and soon find that they are all that stand between Europe and a vengeful and powerful madman (Banderas).

Special features include featurettes, a gag reel and theatrical trailers.

‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ a ‘Hit’ at Weekend Box Office

Lionsgate’s action comedy The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard overcame poor reviews, topping the domestic weekend box office through June 20 with a projected $11.7 million in ticket sales across 3,331 screens. The pandemic-delayed sequel to the 2017 original, featuring the return of Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayak, plus newcomer Antonio Banderas, has generated $17 million since sneak peek showings on June 15.

The movie edged out Paramount Pictures’ enduring A Quiet Place Part II, which generated an estimated $9.4 million, down slightly from the previous weekend when it upset Warner Bros. Pictures’ In the Heights in box office revenue. A Quiet Place Part II has now topped $125 million, making it the top-grossing movie domestically in the pandemic era.

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Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway rounded out the podium with an estimated $6.1 million, bringing the sequel’s total to more than $20 million.

Warner’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It continues to have legs, generating $5.1 million and $53.6 million since its debut three weeks ago. Disney’s Cruella also took in $5.1 million to being its gross above $64.7 million — a notable tally considering the movie is available as a $29.99 Disney+ add-on.

Finally, Heights saw its box office decline to $4.2 million, bringing its total to just shy of $20 million after two weekends. The movie is also streaming on HBO Max.

Weekend Box Office Preview: Can ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ Find His ‘Quiet Place’?

NEWS ANALYSIS — From the trailers, previews and press images, Mexican actress Salma Hayek makes a lot of noise in Lionsgate action comedy sequel The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which generated $3.9 million in early domestic screenings entering the Father’s Day weekend.

Wife’s Bodyguard, which brings back the first movie’s stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, is the lone new entry to U.S. theaters through June 20, and is projected to generate from $8 million to $11 million in revenue across 3,321 screens — underscoring the reality that while movie theaters have largely returned to full capacity, moviegoers remain cautious.

Will it be enough to unseat Paramount Pictures’ post-apocalyptic sequel A Quiet Place: Part II — the John Krasinski-directed follow up to his 2018 sleeper hit co-starring his wife Emily Blunt? A Quiet Place Part II, which is projected to sell more than $9 million in ticket sales this weekend, last week rebounded in its third week of release to upset Warner Bros. newbie In the Heights with $12 million in ticket sales compared to $11.5 million for Heights.

Based on Lin-Manuel Maranda’s Broadway musical, Heights is concurrently streaming on HBO Max.

Indeed, Disney/Pixar Animation Studios’ new movie release Luca is bypassing theaters and debuting exclusively on streaming platform Disney+.

Shawn Robbins with Box Office Pro expects the impact to be minimal based on historical comparisons of streaming debuts in tandem with major theatrical releases as many have often co-existed.

“It will be intriguing to see if that impacts [Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway] and other family holdovers by any significant amount,” Robbins wrote in a blog post.

The relative weekend box office lull — estimated to decline nearly 19% from June 13 — portends the anticipated theatrical rush for Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga on June 25. The ninth installment of the venerable fast car franchise has already generated $270 million at the global box office.

This weekend holdovers include Warner’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It; Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway; In the Heights (Warner); Walt Disney Pictures’ Cruella; Universal Pictures’ Spirit Untamed, and MGM/United Artists’ Wrath of Man, among others.

Disney Bowing ‘Free Guy’ and ‘Shang-Chi’ in Theaters Exclusively for 45-Day Window

Disney Studios is returning to the movie theater in the late summer with exclusive (and curtailed) 45-day windows for 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy and Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Free Guy launches Aug. 13 and Shang-Chi Sept. 3.

In Free Guy, Ryan Reynolds stars as Guy, a bank teller and NPC (non-playable character) who discovers he’s living in a video game.

Shang-Chi is based on the Marvel Comics.

The films mark Disney’s first exclusive theatrical releases since the Aug. 28 release of The New Mutants.

Meanwhile, theatrical titles Cruella (June 18), Black Widow (July 9) and Jungle Cruise (July 30) will debut in cineplexes and on $29.99 Premier Access through Disney+ simultaneously.

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Netflix Releasing 53 New Shows, Movies in December

Netflix is ending 2019 with a flurry (53) of new-release series and feature-length movies, including two highly anticipated titles not named The Irishman.

The three-and-a-half-hour mobster film from Martin Scorsese and starring Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro, launched in November, part of 73 new shows (“The Crown”, “The End of the F***ing World”, etc.) and movies Netflix bowed last month.

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This month the SVOD pioneer launches new seasons of “Fuller House,” “Lost in Space,” Magic for Humans” and “You,” in addition to a Kevin Hart documentary.

On Dec. 13 Netflix launches international action film 6 Underground, starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Michael Bay. On Dec. 20 the streamer bows “The Witcher,” a series based on fantasy novels of the same name.

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December 1
A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl
Austin Powers in Goldmember
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Cut Bank
Dead Kids (Netflix Film)
Eastsiders: Season 4
Malcolm X
Searching for Sugar Man
Sweet Virginia
The Tribes of Palos Verdes

December 2
Nightflyers: Season 1
Team Kaylie: Part 2 (Netflix Family)
December 3
Especial de Natal Porta dos Fundos: A Primeira Tentação de Cristo (Netflix Film)
Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah (Netflix Original Special)
War on Everyone

December 4
The Last O.G.: Season 2
Let’s Dance (Netflix Film)
Los Briceño (Netflix Original Series)
Magic for Humans: Season 2 (Netflix Original Series)

December 5
Apache: La vida de Carlos Tevez (Netflix Original Series)
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (Netflix Film)
Greenleaf: Season 4
Home for Christmas (Netflix Original Series)
V Wars (Netflix Original Series)

December 6
Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show (Netflix Original Series)
The Chosen One: Season 2 (Netflix Original Series)
The Confession Killer (Netflix Documentary)
Fuller House: Season 5 (Netflix Original Series)
Glow Up (Netflix Original Series)
Marriage Story (Netflix Film)
Spirit Riding Free: The Spirit of Christmas (Netflix Family)
Teasing Master Takagi-san: Season 2 (Netflix Anime)
Three Days of Christmas (Netflix Original Series)
Triad Princess (Netflix Original Series)
Virgin River (Netflix Original Series)

December 8
From Paris with Love

December 9
A Family Reunion Christmas (Netflix Family)
It Comes at Night

December 10
Michelle Wolf: Joke Show (Netflix Original Special)
Outlander: Season 3

December 11
The Sky Is Pink

December 12
Especial de Natal Porta dos Fundos (Netflix Film)
Jack Whitehall: Christmas with My Father (Netflix Original Special)

December 13
6 Underground (Netflix Film)

December 15
A Family Man
Dil Dhadakne Do
Karthik Calling Karthik

December 16
Burlesque
The Danish Girl
The Magicians: Season 4

December 17
Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America! (Netflix Original Special)

December 18
Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (Netflix Documentary)
Soundtrack (Netflix Original Series)

December 19
After The Raid (Netflix Documentary)
Ultraviolet: Season 2 (Netflix Original Series)
Twice Upon a Time (Netflix Original Series)

December 20
The Two Popes (Netflix Film)
The Witcher (Netflix Original Series)

December 22
Private Practice: Season 1-6

December 23
Transformers Rescue Bots Academy: Season 1

December 24
Carole & Tuesday: Part 2 (Netflix Anime)
Como caído del cielo (Netflix Film)
Crash Landing on You (Netflix Original Series)
John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch (Netflix Original Special)
Lost in Space: Season 2 (Netflix Original Series)
Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020: Part 2 (Netflix Original Series)

December 25
Sweetheart

December 26
The App (Netflix Film)
Le Bazar de la Charité (Netflix Original Series)
Fast & Furious Spy Racers (Netflix Family)
You: Season 2 (Netflix Original Series)

December 27
The Gift (Netflix Original Series)
Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up (Netflix Documentary)
The Secret Life of Pets 2

December 28
Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy (Netflix Film)
December 29
Lawless

December 30
Alexa & Katie: Season 3 (Netflix Family)
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Reawakened (Netflix Anime)

December 31
The Degenerates: Season 2 (Netflix Original Series)
Die Another Day
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Red Dawn
Tomorrow Never Dies
The World Is Not Enough
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