Captain Marvel

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 6/11/19;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $425.98 million;
$39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language.
Stars Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Clark Gregg.

The 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel, is the most entertaining backstory for a pager you’re likely to see.

First and foremost, the film answers the question of who Nick Fury was contacting in the post-credits sequence of Avengers: Infinity War as half of all life in the universe was turning to dust as a result of Thanos’ snap. And in doing so, it provides the introduction of a key hero who would otherwise be considered little more than a deus ex machina in Avengers: Endgame.

The film serves as a prequel for the rest of the MCU (aside from the World War II setting of Captain America: The First Avenger), and its 1995 setting is a big indicator of what direction the humor and soundtrack are going to go.

It starts off as something of a space opera, shades of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” focused an alien task force that includes the warrior Vers (Brie Larson). The team is helping the Kree Empire (the blue aliens seen in other MCU movies and the TV series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) fight a war against the shape-shifting Skrulls.

When a mission goes awry and Vers finds herself captured by the Skrulls, she escapes to Earth, where the Skrulls are searching for a mysterious power source.

After encountering S.H.I.E.L.D., she learns she is really Carol Danvers, a human test pilot believed killed several years before in a crash that in actuality was an attack that left her with superpowers and no memory of her previous self.

Carol’s abilities in the film have been frequently compared with a hero from” rival DC Comics: Superman, which is interesting considering that Danvers” is also the last name of Supergirl’s human alter ego. She also wouldn’t even be the first Captain Marvel to be compared with Superman — that would be the Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel from the 1940s that was eventually acquired by DC Comics and renamed Shazam to avoid confusion with the Marvel Comics version of the character. (That the Shazam! movie would finally hit screens just a month after Captain Marvel is one of cinema’s great coincidences.)

Captain Marvel attempts to fiddle with the tropes of the superhero origin story by using a flashback mystery structure, which is a nice exercise in technique even if Vers’ true identity will only be a mystery to anyone who hasn’t seen the film’s trailers beforehand or has any passing familiarity with her comic book history (or has already seen the movie, of course). There are other surprises to be had and some subversion of expectations, which balances it all out.

It’s a perfectly entertaining adventure that doesn’t rise beyond more than mid-level Marvel at best (which in the greater scheme of things is still pretty good). It has fun filling in some pieces of the larger Marvel franchise, though it could use a lesson in subtlety.

The film is at its strongest when it involves Carol on her mission, be it as part of the Kree Starforce, or paired with the younger version of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, effectively de-aged by the magic of computers) in a kind of buddy cop movie.

The film is ultimately a piece of bright, cheery fun that will light up HD TV screens with warm colors and the kind of razzle-dazzle we’ve come to expect from Marvel’s cosmic adventures.

This was also the first MCU movie released after the death of Marvel legend Stan Lee, and contains one of his best cameos in the franchise, calling back to what he was actually up to in 1995. That’s in addition to the touching opening tribute that presents the Marvel Studios logo with video from his various cameos over the years.

These are the only tributes to Stan Lee on the Blu-ray, though, as there isn’t a separate bonus feature devoted to it, aside from a mention in the commentary track from co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

Otherwise, the commentary is a fairly typical back-and-forth in which they discuss various behind-the-scenes challenges, story points and their enjoyment of working with certain actors.

The movie also comes with an optional two-minute introduction by the directors.

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The Blu-ray includes a two-minute gag reel, nine minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, and six behind-the-scenes featurettes that total about 24 minutes of viewing time.

The seven-minute “Becoming a Super Hero” and three-and-a-half-minute “Big Hero Moment” deal with Larson taking on the role and the significance of having a superhero movie fronted by a female lead, while “The Dream Team” is a three-minute video about the directors.

“The Skrulls and the Kree” offers a three-and-a-half-minute primer on the primary conflict of the film.

The three-and-a-half-minute “The Origin of Nick Fury” gets MCU stars from other movies to discuss his character’s appearance over the years.

Finally, there’s “Hiss-sterical Cat-titude,” a tongue-in-cheek three-and-a-half-minute propaganda video about the cat named Goose that serves a central role in the story.

The digital copy of the film includes a seven-minute visual effects featurette, and a five-minute exploration about crafting an action scene for a Marvel movie. There are also galleries of set photos and concept art.

Vudu has an additional digital exclusive, a three-minute vignette called “Her Story,” which seems like a promotional piece cobbled together from video used in the other featurettes.

‘The Illusionist,’ ‘Winter Passing’ and ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ Among Star-Studded Films Joining MVD Marquee Collection

The MVD Marquee Collection is adding five films from Yari Film Group to its lineup on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Due June 25 are Resurrecting the Champ, Winter Passing and The Illusionist.

Resurrecting the Champ, directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender), stars Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett with Alan Alda, Kathryn Morris, Teri Hatcher, David Paymer and Peter Coyote. In the film, sportswriter Erik Kernan (Hartnett) wants nothing more than to discover a story great enough to make headlines. When he meets Champ (Jackson), a former boxing champion living on the streets, he knows he has a shot to save them both. Recording his newfound friend’s tale of triumph and defeat, Kernan gets his story and his fame. But as Champ’s tale falls under more scrutinizing eyes, Kernan learns what truly makes a story great is the quality of the man behind it. Bonus material includes a feature audio commentary from Lurie, a behind-the-scenes featurette, interviews with the cast and crew, and the original theatrical trailer.

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Winter Passing is an offbeat film about homecoming and reconciliation that features Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Dallas Roberts, Michael Chernus, Anthony Rapp, Sam Bottoms and Rachel Dratch. When a book editor (Madigan) offers to buy the love letters of Reese Holden’s (Deschanel) parents, she returns home to recover them, only to find her widowed dad (Harris) golfing upstairs, sleeping outside and living with roommates — a pretty grad student (Amelia Warner) and a quirky wannabe musician (Ferrell). Bonus material includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

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The Illusionist stars Paul Giamatti and Edward Norton along with Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. In the film, acclaimed illusionist Eisenheim (Norton) has not only captured the imaginations of all of Vienna, but also the interest of the ambitious Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). But when Leopold’s new fiancée (Biel) rekindles a childhood fascination with Eisenheim, the Prince’s interest evolves into obsession and the city’s chief inspector (Giamatti) finds himself investigating a shocking crime. As the Inspector engages him in a dramatic challenge of wills, Eisenheim prepares for his most impressive illusion yet. Bonus material includes a feature audio commentary from writer/director Neil Burger, “The Making of the Illusionist” featurette, the “Jessica Biel on the Illusionist” featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

Taking 18 years from the start of production to theatrical release, Shortcut to Happiness finally makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD July 16. Originally titled The Devil and Daniel Webster, the film was to be the directorial debut of Alec Baldwin. With the film plagued by investor problems and rumored creative differences, Baldwin had his director credit removed from the film and replaced with the pseudonym Harry Kirkpatrick. Producer Bob Yari rescued the film from bankruptcy court and finished it without Baldwin’s participation. It received limited theatrical screenings in 2007. Years later, it aired on Showtime and Starz channels. Set in New York’s literary world, Shortcut to Happiness is a contemporary re-telling of the classic short story ”The Devil and Daniel Webster,” starring Baldwin, Dan Aykroyd, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kim Cattrall, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Poehler and Darrell Hammond. It follows Jabez Stone (Baldwin), a down on his luck writer who sells his soul to the devil (Love-Hewitt) in exchange for fame and fortune. When things don’t turn out as planned, Stone ultimately decides that he wants his old life again and enlists the help of Daniel Webster (Hopkins) in order to win his soul.

Finally, Sept. 17 comes Find Me Guilty from director Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon). Vin Diesel stars with Peter Dinklage, Annabella Sciorra, Alex Rocco, Ron Silver and Linus Roache in this true story. When police arrest 20 members of the Lucchese crime family, the authorities offer Jackie Dee DiNorscio (Diesel) a bargain: a shortened prison term if he’ll testify against his own. But the wisecracking DiNorscio has other ideas. Refusing to cooperate, he decides to defend himself at his own trial and proceeds to turn the courtroom upside-down, culminating in one of the most shocking verdicts in judicial history. Bonus material includes the “A Conversation with Director Sidney Lumet” featurette, the original theatrical trailer and three TV spots.

‘Captain Marvel’ Soaring to Digital May 28, Disc June 11 From Disney

Captain Marvel will fly to digital in HD and 4K Ultra HD (including Movies Anywhere) May 28, and land on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray June 11 from Disney, Direct to Consumer and International.

The home release dates were revealed during the May 8 espnW Summit NYC, at which Marvel Studios hosted a Captain Marvel panel.

The film, which has surpassed $1 billion at the box office worldwide, chronicles the origin story of the female superhero.

The release includes featurettes that highlight the transformative journey of Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and her character’s impact on audiences around the globe; the influence of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) on significant events within the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the pairing of directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck; the ongoing conflict between the Skrulls and the Kree; and the talent behind the feline named Goose. Viewers also gain access to six deleted scenes, director commentary, a gag reel, and never-before-seen concept art and production photography.

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The digital release includes two exclusive features, including a behind-the-scenes visit with the visual effects team and an inside look at the team effort that goes into an action sequence in a Marvel Studios film.

At the panel, Marvel also unveiled a new trailer.

Glass

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/16/19;
Universal;
Thriller;
Box Office $111.04 million;
$28.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $44.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence including some bloody images, thematic elements, and language.
Stars James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard.

After a career of gimmicky storytelling and a reputation for surprise plot twists, M. Night Shyamalan presents a class in subverting expectations with Glass.

However, the approach employed in connecting two of his most memorable films has left a lot of fans scratching their heads over whether it was worth the wait.

Fans of Shyamalan’s 2000 superhero movie deconstruction Unbreakable had been clamoring for a sequel since it was released, but hopes for one diminished as the years ticked away, particularly as the quality of the writer-director’s output declined in the eyes of critics and audiences alike.

In the midst of a bit of a career renaissance, however, Shyamalan dropped a cameo into 2016’s Split that brought the prospects of that long-awaited sequel back to the forefront.

In particular, with respect to spoiler concerns, an appearance by Bruce Willis in Split as his Unbreakable character teased an eventual confrontation between his strongman hero and the multiple personalities of James McAvoy’s Split psychopath.

And while they do face off in Glass, the bulk of the film involves them being captured and committed to an insane asylum for treatment alongside Unbreakable villain Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). Their doctor (Sarah Paulson) hopes to convince them that their abilities are not superhuman at all, but the result of self-delusion and some freaky but explainable physical tricks.

While it’s fun to see the lead trio and some of the supporting cast return to their roles, watching them end up in a group therapy session is not exactly where audiences were expecting this to go. Though with Mr. Glass involved, viewers can rest assured that whatever return to normalcy the doctor has in mind is probably not going to be in the cards, especially with a potential showdown over the fate of a highrise looming.

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McAvoy’s character from Split, it turns out, was originally from a draft of Unbreakable, but removed due to plot complications his presence was causing in the screenplay. As a result, the characters from the two films mesh well together and pave the way for a few more surprises Shyamalan has up his sleeve to round out what has come to be known as the “East-Rail 177 Trilogy,” after the train derailment that kicks off the first film.

According to Shyamalan in the Blu-ray bonus materials, the first cut of the film was 3 hours and 20 minutes, meaning that more than an hour was sliced out to achieve the final 2-hour-9-minute run time. About 14 minutes of this material is offered as deleted scenes on the disc, with optional introductions for each by Shyamalan. There’s also an alternate opening sequence that runs a couple of minutes as well.

The bulk of the extras are about 40 minutes of various behind-the-scenes featurettes, covering both the making of this film and the elements that were established in the two previous entries.

“The Collection of Main Characters” runs 8:43 and profiles both the three lead characters and the actors who play them.

“A Conversation With James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan” is a 5:10 segment of the pair interviewing each other.

The 2:54 “Bringing the Team Back Together” looks at the various members of the cast and crew who previously worked with Shyamalan.

The 2:16 “Raven Hill Memorial” chronicles filming at an old asylum, and the 1:56 “Night Vision” delves into bringing the film’s storyboards to life.

Rounding out the list are “David Dunn vs. The Beast” (2:11) “Glass Decoded” (2:52), “Breaking Glass: The Stunts” (1:28), “Connecting the Glass Universe” (2:54), “M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens” (2:46), “The Sound of Glass” (1:50) and “Enhancing the Spectacle” (2:53).

‘Glass’ Breaks Out on Digital April 2, Disc April 16 From Universal

Glass, from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth SenseSigns), is coming to digital (including Movies Anywhere) April 2 and to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand April 16 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $107.9 million in theaters.

Glass completes Shyamalan’s grounded-in-reality, comic-book thriller trilogy, started with Unbreakable and Split. It stars James McAvoy (SplitAtonement)Samuel L. Jackson (Hitman’s Bodyguard, “Avengers” Franchise, Unbreakable), Bruce Willis (Unbreakable, Die Hard), Sarah Paulson (Ocean’s Eight, “American Horror Story”) and Anya-Taylor Joy (SplitThe Witch). The story offers s closer look at the world of the Elijah Price, also known as Mr. Glass (Jackson), David Dunn (Willis) and Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy) as they experience a series of escalating encounters in an escape from an asylum and embark on a battle of good versus evil.

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More than 60 minutes of special features on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and digital include:

  • “The Collection of Main Characters,”a look at all the main players and how they fit in the universe created by Shyamalan;
  • “Bringing the Team Back Together,” in which the cast and crew share personal stories of why Shyamalan’s productions feel like seeing family again;
  • “David Dunn vs. The Beast,” an in-depth look at the animalistic face-off between David Dunn and the Beast;
  • Glass Decoded,” in which Shyamalan unveils some secrets of continuity and style from across the trilogy;
  • “Breaking Glass: The Stunts,” about the stunts that show the superhuman strength of the Beast;
  • “Connecting the Glass Universe,” exploring Shyamalan’s stylistic approach to the trilogy and the concept of a comic book movie grounded in reality;
  • “M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens,” in which the cast and crew discuss Shyamalan’s meticulous approach to storytelling;
  • “The Sound of Glass,” in which composer West Dylan Thordson elaborates on his use of string instruments to create tension, and explains why recording the score on-location enhanced the tone of the movie;
  • “Enhancing the Spectacle,” in which the VFX team provides details on the task of using CGI to intensify the narrative;
  • “Raven Hill Memorial,” about the Raven Hill Memorial Hospital location;
  • “Night Vision,” a look at the the storyboards and their similarity to the final shots in the film;
  • an alternate opening with an introduction by Shyamalan;
  • deleted scenes with introductions by director Shyamalan;
  • and “A Conversation with James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan.”

 

DVD special features include the alternate opening, deleted scenes and “A Conversation with James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan.”

Incredibles 2

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 11/6/18;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $608.14 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for action sequences and some brief mild language.
Voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huckleberry Milner, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird, Jonathan Banks.

Judging from the various anecdotes related in the Blu-ray bonus materials, one of the biggest challenges to crafting the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles was simply figuring out how to begin the film.

In fact, a significant chunk of the 40 minutes of deleted scenes included on the bonus disc are devoted to this challenge, with scene after scene of discarded ideas that just seem to be expanding on various story points established in the first film (such as a funeral for all the heroes killed by Syndrome) without contributing much to making the story of the second film a cohesive piece on its own.

So, after a 14-year-gap between the films, director Brad Bird and the filmmakers at Pixar finally decided to just pick up where the first film left off, with the Parr family preparing to battle the Underminer’s invasion of the city.

And that really was the best way to go, as it sets up a great action sequence right away while providing a clean entry into the story of the second film, which involves the efforts of a wealthy industrialist (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) to make superheroes legal again. Not to mention it pays off the tease of the Underminer’s attack, which I always wanted to see.

The sequel then settles into a formula similar to the first film, only this time it’s Helen (Holly Hunter) who takes up the task of superheroism, leaving Bob (Craig T. Nelson) to watch the kids. A new wrinkle is how Jack Jack develops his newly discovered powers, much to the surprise of the rest of the family. One of the highlights is bare-knuckle brawl between the baby and a raccoon that wanders into the backyard (a sequence originally created for the first film and based on an experience Bird witnessed between a raccoon and his dog).

And of course there’s a new villain who hates superheroes and wants to stop them all and the family has to unite to stop the evil scheme and yada yada. It’s a worthy sequel to the original that tries to freshen up the concept a bit with a story that when combined with the first film really ends up feeling like the second half of a whole.

The animation is an advancement from the first film, maintaining the same basic style but with improved detail as a result of more sophisticated techniques in CGI. And some of the character designs have been updated a bit as well.

The centerpiece of the extras is the fun new five-minute short film Auntie Edna, which details the events hinted at in the film in which superhero costumer and supplier Edna Mode babysits Jack Jack and creates a super-suit that can handle his powers. This makes it somewhat of a parallel piece with the Jack Jack Attack short created with the first film that details another babysitter dealing with the baby’s powers while the family is off the adventure from that movie.

Incredibles 2 can also be played with an optional audio commentary with the animators, so its focus is more on the visual designs and the experience of working on the film in general.

There are also more than 70 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes spread across the two Blu-ray discs. (Depending on the combo pack, the DVD or 4K UHD disc represent a third disc in the package). And a number of the 10 aforementioned deleted scenes do expand on sequences that did make it into the final cut. And there are other goodies such as character theme song videos and toy commercials that are good for a moment of amusement.

The disc also comes with the poignant short film Bao, which accompanied Incredibles 2 in theaters, and a behind-the-scenes featurette about the short.

There are also two digital exclusives that can be accessed by redeeming the digital copy code at Movies Anywhere. The first involves extensive breakdowns of two key sequences in the film (the raccoon fight and some action scenes with Helen) that run 21 minutes total. More interesting is “The Coolest Guy in the Room,” a three-minute biography of Samuel L. Jackson, who discusses what drew him to comic books.

Vudu offers an additional featurette (that seems culled from footage found in other included videos) as well as the Jack Jack Attack short, which was previously available separately at the site and not part of the digital extras of the first Incredibles.

‘Incredibles 2’ Home Video to Include ‘Auntie Edna’ Mini Movie

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release Pixar’s Incredibles 2 digitally Oct. 23 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Nov. 6.

The sequel, which picks up directly after the events of the 2004 original film, finds Helen (voiced by Holly Hunter) recruited to be the face of a public relations effort to restore the legal status of superheroes, leaving Bob (Craig T. Nelson) to deal with keeping track of their super-powered children, including the emerging powers of baby Jack-Jack.

In his Twitter feed Sept. 5, director Brad Bird announced the in-home release of the hit animated superhero film will include the short film Auntie Edna, detailing the events of the night Edna Mode babysat Jack-Jack.

“Many of you have suggested we show what transpired the night E babysat Jack-Jack. Well, we were WAAAY ahead of you!” Bird tweeted.

The new short, which will be available with the Blu-ray and digital versions of the film, would parallel a mini-movie called Jack-Jack Attack that was included with the DVD of the first Incredibles in 2005, which chronicled the baby’s night with a babysitter during the events of that film.

Incredibles 2 has earned more than $602 million at the domestic box office and $1.17 billion worldwide.

The Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions of the film will include audio commentary and the short film Bao.

In addition to the Auntie Edna short, the Blu-ray and digital releases will also include 10 deleted scenes with introductions outtakes; a collection of mini-documentaries about the film’s heroes and villains; the featurette “Super Stuff,” about the design of the “Incredibles” world; a profile of production designer Ralph Eggleston; the featurette Strong Coffee: A Lesson in Animation With Brad Bird,” a profile of the director and his history with Pixar;”Paths to Pixar: Everyday Heroes,” a featurette that focuses on the parents who worked on the film and their personal connections to it; “SuperBaby,” a hybrid of documentary and music video that looks at how Jack-Jack came to life onscreen; a “SuperBaby” music video; character theme songs; vintage toy commercial TV spots; a toolkit montage; global Incredibles 2 trailers; and a behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of Bao.

Digital bonus materials may vary depending on the retailer.

Digital versions of the film will include two exclusive extras: “The Coolest Guy in Show Business,” a partially illustrated documentary about Samuel L. Jackson’s love of comic books; and two “SuperScene Breakdowns,” an in-depth examination of the making of two scenes in the film.