Fast X

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/8/23;
Universal;
Action;
Box Office $145.96 million;
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray, $34.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some suggestive material.
Stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Scott Eastwood, Daniela Melchior, Alan Ritchson, Helen Mirren, Brie Larson, Rita Moreno, Leo Abelo Perry, Jason Statham, Jason Momoa, Charlize Theron.

As over the top as Fast X may be, at least they don’t go into space this time. New franchise director Louis Leterrier brings the action back down to Earth a bit while finding new ways to push the audiences’ suspension of disbelief to its limits.

As shown in the bonus material, Leterrier seems excited for the chance to put his stamp on a franchise that has had a tenuous relationship with verisimilitude for a number of films, if only for the excuse to bring to life action concepts ruminating in his head since he was a child.

The story stems from the events of Fast 5, which set the stage for the series’ outlandish change of course with its ridiculous heist climax featuring two muscle cars dragging a multi-ton vault through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The villain of Fast 5 was killed during that final chase, and 10 years later his son, Dante (Jason Momoa), wants revenge.

Setting out with the flamboyancy of a 1960s Batman villain, Dante must first level-up his resources in order to go toe-to-toe with Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family, who since that film have morphed from simple street racing hustlers to global secret agents. To demonstrate how dangerous he is, the film has him take over the high-tech operations of Charlize Theron’s Cipher, the villain of the last couple of “Fast” films, and arranges to split Team Toretto apart on different missions. From there Dom and his family are subjected to an elaborate series of death traps around the world designed to make them suffer until he can maneuver them into one final improbable battle.

Almost lost among the spectacle is that the massive cast has managed to bring together two actors who have played Aquaman — in addition to Momoa, there’s Alan Ritchson, who portrayed the master of the sea on “Smallville,” on hand here as an Agency supercop whose skepticism of Team Toretto’s loyalties provides another wrinkle to the plot.

This film was touted is the beginning of the end for the franchise, as the first part of a grand finale for the characters, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the film ends with a series of cliffhangers and teases for more movies to come.

Still, as exhausting as Fast X can be at times, it can at least be admired for the sheer audacity of the stunts we are expected to believe are happening within the realm of a real physical world. The mayhem looks great in 4K, though the vivid explosions and the exploits of Dom’s seemingly indestructible super-car tend to verge on the cartoonish side.

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In addition to a solo commentary from an enthusiastic Leterrier, the Blu-ray also includes a five-minute gag reel, two forgettable music videos, and nearly 75 minutes of informative (but repetitive) behind-the-scenes featurettes.

The general making of the film is covered in the 35-minute “This Is Family.” Additional featurettes include the 13-minute “Xtreme Rides of Fast X” that profiles the vehicles in the film (which are actually described as the superhero suits to the films’ characters); the seven-minute “Belles of the Brawl” that looks at how the women of the film prepared for their action scenes; the five-minute “Tuned Into Rio” looks at the film’s connections to Fast 5; The two-minute “Jason Momoa: Conquering Rome” focuses on the actor’s role in the franchise, his stunts and a key sequence set in Rome; the three-minute “Little B Takes the Wheel” takes a look at Leo Abelo Perry joining the franchise as Dom’s son; and the minute-and-a-half “A Friend in the End” looks at the film’s post-credits sequence.

Finally, there’s a nearly eight-minute segment of Leterrier breaking down specific action scenes.

Wrath of Man

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/13/21;
Warner/MGM;
Action;
Box Office $27.4 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references.
Stars Jason Statham, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, Laz Alonso, Chris Reilly, DeObia Oparei, Rob Delaney, Eddie Marsan.

Jason Statham’s fourth film with director Guy Ritchie is a brutal revenge thriller that uses a time-shifting narrative to maintain the mystery of its characters’ motivations and true identities.

Statham plays the newest employee of an armored truck company that is frequently targeted by a highly armed squad of thieves. His co-workers don’t think much of his icy demeanor until he single-handedly takes out a gang of attackers, which earns him the respect of his colleagues.

Yet it soon becomes clear he has another agenda, which relates to avenging one of the victims of the heist that opens the film — fantastically depicted in a single take from inside the van.

Ritchie, who also co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, directs with his usual flair for kinetic and brutal action, resulting in several extended shootouts that will leave the audience wondering who to trust.

The Blu-ray has contains no extras.

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Guy Ritchie’s ‘Wrath of Man’ Due on Digital June 29, Disc July 13

The revenge heist film Wrath of Man is coming to digital June 29 and DVD and Blu-ray July 13 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Director Guy Ritchie (RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Gentlemen) teams up with Jason Statham (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, the “Fast & Furious” franchise) for a story about a mysterious security guard out to settle a score. The film is Ritchie’s fourth directorial collaboration with Statham.

In the film, mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman’s ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.

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The actioner, based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, also stars Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Pacific Rim: Uprising), Andy Garcia (The Mule, Oceans Thirteen), Holt McCallany (Three Kings, Fight Club), Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch, Sicario, TV’s “Burn Notice”), Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down), Laz Alonso (Avatar, “Fast & Furious”), Chris Reilly (TV’s “Game of Thrones”), Raul Castillo (television’s “Looking”), DeObia Oparei (television’s “Game of Thrones,” Moulin Rouge!) and Eddie Marsan (The Gentlemen, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows).

Pacific Rim Uprising

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 6/19/18;
Universal;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $59.19 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $37.98 3D BD, $37.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.
Stars John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Max Zhang, Charlie Day.

The original Pacific Rim in 2013 was never going to be hailed as an artistic masterpiece. But under the guidance of director Guillermo del Toro, it proved to be a fun, entertaining sci-fi adventure with just the sort of goofy premise that could be exploited for franchise potential in a market dominated by “Transformers,” “Power Rangers” and “Voltron.”

The film’s story was a simple-enough starting point, positing a future in which the world was besieged by giant monsters called kaiju that emerged from undersea interdimensional rifts. To stop them from rampaging through major cities, mankind built giant robots called jaegers to fight them.

Pacific Rim Uprising picks up 10 years later, with the breaches closed but the militaries of the world strategizing about the best defense should the kaiju return.

Veteran TV producer Steven S DeKnight takes over directing duties from del Toro (who produced) and delivers about as much as could be expected for a sequel. The film offers a mix of new and returning characters to provide an enjoyable yet unsophisticated follow-up that delivers on the promise of more monsters and machines beating each other up while everything around them gets trashed.

It’s to the screenplay’s credit that it finds a few interesting plot twists to put a different spin on the basic premise while still delivering the kind of action the set-up would warrant. The story expands upon some of the key plot points of the original to set up future sequels (though, given the film’s underwhelming box office, future story continuations may end up being through alternate mediums such as animation or graphic novels).

The Blu-ray includes a slew of behind-the-scenes material, highlighted by a feature-length DeKnight commentary that really delves into his goals for the film, the challenges he faced, and other insights, such how how much inspiration he drew from the works of Steven Spielberg.

In addition, the Blu-ray includes 10 featurettes that runa bout 40 minutes in total and delve into various aspects of the film, with an emphasis on casting, visual effects and stuntwork. One of them “Hall of Heroes,” amusingly presents star John Boyega spending more than three minutes showing off all the new jaegers introduced in the film, describing all their amenities and weaponry in minute detail as if he were some sort of jaeger salesman.

There are also seven minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary that provide a few good character moments but otherwise aren’t glaring omissions from the film.

‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ Arrives in Homes in June

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in June will send to homes the action sequel Pacific Rim Uprising, which earned just under $58 million in U.S. theaters.

The film will become available on digital and through the Movies Anywhere app on June 5, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and On Demand on June 19. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc combo pack includes copies of the film on both 4K Ultra HD and regular Blu-ray, as well as a digital copy.

Pacific Rim Uprising is set 10 years after the events of the first film, which earned a domestic gross of nearly $102 million. In the sequel, the Kaiju return with a new deadly threat that reignites the conflict between these otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the Jaegers, the human-piloted super-machines that were built to vanquish them.

Pacific Rim Uprising features a next-generation battleground complete with upgraded Jaegers and new Kaiju.

The film stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the Kaiju. The cast also includes Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi and Burn Gorman.

The disc releases include more than 40 minutes of bonus content, including the following:

  • Deleted scenes with commentary by director Steven S. DeKnight
  • Feature commentary with DeKnight
  • “Hall of Heroes” – Boyega takes viewers on a tour of the weaponry and enhancements of the latest generation of Jaegers featured in the film.
  • “Bridge to Uprising” – The cast and crew discuss how the world of Pacific Rim has changed in the 10 years since the events of the original film.
  • “The Underworld of Uprising” – Humanity won the Kaiju War, but every war has casualties. Boyega and DeKnight give viewers a tour of the coastal “Relief Zones.”
  • “Becoming Cadets” – Viewers learn the grueling physical and mental preparation required of the young actors who portrayed the Pan Pacific Defense Corp cadets.
  • “Unexpected Villain” – Viewers discover the secret reason that turned one of the most beloved heroes of the original film into a villain obsessed with humanity’s destruction.
  • “Next Level Jaegers” – The cast and crew discuss the technological advances of the Jaeger program in the years since the events of the original film.
  • “I Am Scrapper” – Actress Cailee Spaeny shares the backstory of Scrapper, Amara’s incredible self-built Jaeger and its many unique abilities.
  • “Going Mega” – Filmmakers take viewers through the technical and creative challenges of creating the most deadly threat the Pan Pacific Defense Corp has ever faced: the Mega Kaiju!
  • “Secrets of Shao” – Actress Tian Jing shares her insights on the enigmatic tech tycoon Liwen Shao, the woman behind Shao Industries.
  • “Mako Returns” – Actress Rinko Kikuchi and director DeKnight explain the significance of Mako Mori’s return and her importance to the events of Pacific Rim Uprising.