‘Changing Lanes’ Gets 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Release March 19

Kino Lorber will release the 2002 drama Changing Lanes March 19 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Directed by Roger Michell, the film follows a successful young Wall Street lawyer (Ben Affleck) who gets into an accident with an older, recovering alcoholic insurance salesman (Samuel L. Jackson).  After the lawyer leaves the scene, their mutual road rage escalates into a feud that forever changes each man’s life.

Changing Lanes was released theatrically in April 2002 by Paramount Pictures and went on to earn nearly $95 million against a $45 million budget. 

Written by Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin, the film also stars Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), Sydney Pollack (Eyes Wide Shut), Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers), Amanda Peet (Identity) and William Hurt (Gorky Park).

The Kino Lorber release includes the film on both a triple-layered UHD100 disc and a dual-layered BD50 disc. The 4K release comes from a new HDR/Dolby Vision master from a 4K scan of the 35mm original camera negative; the Blu-ray Disc, from a new HD master, also from a 4K scan of the 35mm original camera negative.

Both discs include an audio commentary by Michell. The Blu-ray Disc also includes two featurettes, “The Making of Changing Lanes” and “The Writer’s Perspective,” as well as deleted and extended scenes and the original theatrical trailer.

The Marvels

4K ULTRA HD REVIEW:

Street Date 2/13/24;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $84.5 million;
$29.99 DVD, $36.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for action/violence and brief language.
Stars Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Seo-Jun Park, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Samuel L. Jackson.

There’s no disputing it anymore. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has lost its way.

The Marvels, the 33rd film in the MCU, is just the latest stumbling block for a franchise trying to rediscover its creative focus following the immense success of the “Infinity Saga” that concluded with Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Almost all the films of the three phases that constituted the Infinity Saga were notable for being able to not only introduce new characters and ideas to the audience, but also tell compelling stories that were also clearly building into a larger narrative in a way that excited viewers and fueled anticipation for the next installment. With that first big story arc having concluded, the attempts to follow it up have been muddled at best, lacking in a discernable direction or stakes to sufficiently fuel the fans’ enthusiasm. Further diluting the brand with a string of television projects that vary widely in quality hasn’t helped. In fact the best MCU content the past few years has been either largely unconnected to the wider franchise or wrapping up loose ends from the Infinity Saga.

Primarily a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, The Marvels is the 10th MCU movie since the beginning of “Phase Four,” otherwise known as the “Multiverse Saga.” But it’s also a sequel to several of the MCU’s Disney+ limited series, including 2021’s WandaVision, 2022’s Ms. Marvel, and last year’s awful Secret Invasion, which might as well not exist given how much its storylines are ignored by The Marvels. Even so, that’s a lot of background material for casual viewers to keep track of.

The main thrust of The Marvels is to team Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), aka Captain Marvel, with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), seen as a kid in Captain Marvel but imbued with photonic powers in WandaVision, and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), the title hero from Ms. Marvel who is empowered by a magical bracelet of mysterious origins.

They meet due to the entanglement of their powers causing them to switch places following some manipulation of an interstellar travel network by the Kree villain Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), who wants to restore her homeworld, which was devastated by a civil war caused by Captain Marvel in the 1990s-set aftermath of her solo movie. Her plan is essentially the plot of Spaceballs — steal the air and resources from other planets to rebuild her own.

With some coordination by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the three marvels are able to team up to confront Dar-Benn and put a halt to her campaign of collateral damage.

The movie eventually gets to where the MCU needs it to go in terms of setting up future storylines, but it’s not a smooth ride to get there. Dar-Benn ends up being one of the most forgettable antagonists in the canon, the tonal shifts of the story are jarring, and too many of the key setpieces are just plain goofy. First, there’s a planet where the population communicates through musical numbers, which just seems like the writers being too clever for their own good. Then, later in the film comes a comedic subplot involving alien cats that doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose other than keep Nick Fury, Kamala’s family and the rest of the supporting cast busy.

The most memorable aspect of The Marvels is the chemistry between the three heroes as they reluctantly learn to act as a team, the highlight being the endearing energy exuded by Vellani as Kamala, a die-hard fan of Carol who just seems happy to be involved. Ultimately, the film’s best assets are a pair of epilogue scenes that tease an expansion of the MCU that fans have been anticipating, including a cute callback to Iron Man that begins to address the slew of younger heroes being gradually introduced the past few years. Hopefully with some time to reassess Marvel can coalesce these threads into the higher tiers of entertainment quality the studio has proved capable of in the past.

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The Blu-ray of The Marvels includes a smattering of extras that give viewers the gist of the making of the film. The 11-minute “Entangled” is the primary behind-the-scenes featurette, supplemented by five minutes of production diaries focused on amusing stories from the set.

Director and co-writer Nia DaCosta joins VFX supervisor Tara DeMarco for a feature-length commentary track punctuated mostly by comic book fan DaCosta’s excitement for the project.

There are also four decent deleted scenes that run a total of about six minutes, and a two-minute gag reel.

In the 4K combo pack, the commentary is included on both the 4K disc and the regular Blu-ray, while the rest of the extras are contained on just the Blu-ray.

Interestingly, the Disney+ streaming service includes an hour-long making-of The Marvels documentary as part of its “Marvel Studios: Assembled” series that, while using some common footage, offers a lot more detail than the featurettes included on the disc.

Shout! Sets Nov. 3 Digital Release Date for ‘The Kill Room,’ With Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson

Shout! Studios, in collaboration with Yale Entertainment, will release The Kill Room on Nov. 3 for digital purchase and rental.

The new comedy-thriller marks the first time stars Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman have teamed up since 1994’s Pulp Fiction.

Directed by Nicol Paone and written by Jonathan Jacobson, The Kill Room follows an art dealer (Thurman) who teams with a hitman (Joe Manganiello) and his boss (Jackson) for a money-laundering scheme that winds up turning the hitman into an overnight avant-garde sensation, forcing the dealer to play the art world against the underworld. The cast also includes Debi Mazar, Dree Hemingway, Amy Keum, Candy Buckley, Larry Pine, Jennifer Kim, Matthew Maher, Tom Pecinka, and Alexander Sokovikov.

Samuel Jackson, John David Washington to Star in ‘The Piano Lesson’ for Netflix

Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington will star in a feature film adaptation of August Wilson’s play The Piano Lesson for Netflix.

Set in 1936 Pittsburgh during the aftermath of the Great Depression, The Piano Lesson follows the lives of the Charles family in the Doaker Charles household and an heirloom, the family piano, which documents the family history through carvings made by their enslaved ancestor. 

The Broadway revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson starring Jackson and Washington recently concluded its run at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, having played 27 previews and 124 regular performances. The production is the highest-grossing revival of a play on Broadway and the highest-grossing Wilson production on Broadway ever. 

The Netflix adaptation will be directed by Malcolm Washington with a screenplay by Virgil Williams and Malcolm Washington. It is produced by Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington and Academy Award Nominee Todd Black.

In addition to Oscar winner Jackson (Honorary Award — 2021) and Washington, the film also stars Ray Fisher (Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Rebel Moon), Danielle Deadwyler (Till, The Harder They Fall), Michael Potts (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Rustin) and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, The Tragedy of Macbeth).

The Piano Lesson is part of Wilson’s 10-play “American Century Cycle” and includes Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was released globally on Netflix in 2021. The film received five Academy Award nominations (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Costume Design) and two Academy Award wins (Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design). Directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the film stars Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige, Dusan Brown, Jeremy Shamos and Jonny Coyne.

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In 2010 Denzel Washington and Viola Davis starred in the revival of August Wilson’s Fences on Broadway. They both won Tony Awards for their roles. In 2016 Washington directed and starred alongside Viola Davis in the film adaptation of Fences which received three Academy Awards nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, and an Academy Award win for Viola Davis.

Samuel L. Jackson to Headline New Apple TV+ Original Limited Series

Apple TV+ Jan. 12 revealed a first look at “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,” the limited series executive produced by and starring Oscar-nominated Samuel L. Jackson, and based on the novel by author Walter Mosley, who adapts the story for the screen and serves as executive producer.

The six-episode series about family, memory and legacy will debut globally March 11 on Apple TV+, with the first two episodes, followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday.

Samuel L. Jackson in new Apple TV+ series “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey”

Created by Apple Studios, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” stars Jackson as Ptolemy Grey, an ailing man forgotten by his family, by his friends, and by even himself. Suddenly left without his trusted caretaker and on the brink of sinking even deeper into a lonely dementia, Ptolemy is assigned to the care of orphaned teenager Robyn, played by BAFTA Award nominee Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah). When they learn about a treatment that can restore Ptolemy’s memories, it begins a journey toward shocking truths about the past, present and future.

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In addition to Jackson and Fishback, the Apple Original series features Cynthia Kaye McWilliams (“Coyote,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood”), Damon Gupton (“Black Lightning,” “Bates Motel”), Marsha Stephanie Blake (“I Am Your Woman,” “When They See Us”), Walton Goggins (“Justified,” “The Unicorn”), and Omar Miller (“The Unicorn,” “Ballers”).

Alongside Mosley and Jackson, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” is executive produced by Mosley’s producing partner Diane Houslin, Ramin Bahrani, Eli Selden and David Levine for Anonymous Content and LaTanya Richardson.

What If…?

STREAMING REVIEW:

Disney+;
Animated;
Not rated.
Voices of Jeffrey Wright, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hayley Atwell, Lake Bell, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Hemsworth, Kurt Russell, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson.

This Disney+ animated series explores what could have happened to the Marvel Cinematic Universe had certain moments gone differently.

The nine episodes are narrated by Jeffrey Wright as The Watcher, an omniscient being of immense power who observes the various worlds of the multiverse (which was supposedly created by the events of “Loki”).

Most episodes offer the creators a chance to indulge themselves with references to the comics they couldn’t make before, or just have fun with character confrontations that haven’t been seen before (such as an epic battle between Thor and Captain Marvel when the Asgardian wants to turn Earth into a 24-hour party planet).

The first episode offers a fun twist on Captain America: The First Avenger, as Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) ends up as the super soldier, while still-skinny Steve Rogers gets a massive Iron Man-type suit of armor.

Another episode is a dark tale about a man’s inability to let go, as it shows how dangerous Doctor Strange can be if he turns his powers toward selfish interests.

Other episodes feature alternate versions of The Avengers, and of course there’s an episode (based on a popular comic book storyline) that basically turns all the heroes into zombies.

Among the most bittersweet episodes are those that feature Chadwick Boseman in his final performances as T’Challa, recorded prior to his death from cancer. One speech in particular hits hard as he discusses the afterlife as a new beginning.

The animation style is crisp and colorful, though not always the best in capturing the appearance of the actors who play them in live-action.

Overall, the show is mostly a love letter to longtime MCU fans, who should appreciate the mostly fun but often dark chance to see the franchise in a different light.

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‘The Protégé’ Due on Digital Sept. 21, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 19

The action thriller The Protégé will come out on digital Sept. 21 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and on demand Oct. 19 from Lionsgate.

The story of a deadly assassin out for vengeance stars Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Patrick.

In the film, rescued as a child and raised by legendary assassin Moody (Jackson), Anna (Maggie Q) was trained to become the world’s most skilled contract killer. When Anna learns that Moody has been brutally killed, she vows revenge. On the murderer’s trail, Anna is entangled with an enigmatic hit man (Keaton) and, as their confrontation turns deadly, the loose ends of a life spent killing weave themselves ever tighter in this action-thriller from the director of Casino Royale.

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The Protégé home entertainment release also includes two behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary from director Martin Campbell, and a previously unreleased deleted scene. Hosted by Campbell, “Scars of the Past: Making The Protégé” offers an inside look at the making of the film. “Anna vs. Rembrandt” focuses on the chemistry between Maggie Q’s and Keaton’s characters.

‘Ragtime’ Coming to Paramount Presents Blu-ray Line Nov. 16

Director Milos Forman’s epic Ragtime arrives for its 40th anniversary in a limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Presents line on Nov. 16 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel, Ragtime tells the story of disparate characters in New York City in the early 1900s. From the emerging New York suburb of New Rochelle to the flashy spectacle of Atlantic City, a family faces racial tensions, scandals and violence that will test everything they believe in. With music by Randy Newman, the film stars James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Kenneth McMillan, Pat O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, James Olson, Mandy Patinkin, Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Mary Steenburgen, Debbie Allen, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, Samuel L. Jackson, Norman Mailer and John Ratzenberger.

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The film has been remastered from a 4K film transfer and is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. The two-disc Blu-ray includes a newly discovered director’s cut workprint version of the film (along with the theatrical version), deleted and extended scenes, a look back at Ragtime with Larry Karaszewski and screenwriter Michael Weller, access to a digital copy of the theatrical version, and commentary by Forman and executive producer Michael Hausman.

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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