Monster Hunter

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Action Fantasy;
Box Office $15.1 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $40.99 UHD BD;

Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of creature action and violence throughout.
Stars Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung, Ron Perlman.

Seeing how Monster Hunter is based on a video game and stars Milla Jovovich, it’s not hard to guess the director would likely be Paul W.S. Anderson. And like most of his films (Resident Evil, Alien vs. Predator), Monster Hunter is a slick-looking production light on story and heavy on action. Think of it as Stargate mixed with Tremors.

Jovovich (who is married to Anderson in real life) plays the captain of a United Nations unit searching for a lost patrol in the desert. They get hit by a sandstorm that sends them through a portal to another world where they encounter the missing patrol, wiped out. They soon discover this new world is populated by deadly giant monsters that start attacking them, but they find help in the form of a hunter (Tony Jaa) who knows how to fight the creatures. He survived an attack on his vessel, essentially a clipper ship that sails the sand dunes as if they were water, that left him not knowing if anyone else from his crew survived.

And the movie doesn’t get much more complicated than that. They fight a variety of monsters and come to the conclusion that the realm to Earth has to be protected lest any number of dragon-type monsters cross over.

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Anderson, a self-professed fan of the video game who has apparently been trying to make this movie for 10 years, says in the bonus materials that his primary goal was to include as many familiar elements from the game as possible. Most of the featurettes are geared toward how the production went about doing that, with the intent of making a movie that fans of the game franchise will enjoy.

The eight-minute “The Monster Hunters” showcases the film’s cast; the seven-minute “For the Players: Game to Screen,” provides a look at how closely the visual effects and design elements of the movie match the costumes, characters and creatures of the video games; and “Monstrous Arsenal” is a five-minute look at the weapons used in the film.

The Blu-ray also includes two deleted scenes running a total of three minutes. Both are one of the military officers trying to tell a bad joke.

The 4K disc includes all the same bonus materials as the regular Blu-ray disc contained in the combo pack.

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Drama ‘Cut Throat City’ Due on Digital Oct. 6, Disc Oct. 20

The drama Cut Throat City will come out on digital Oct. 6 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Oct. 20 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In the film, after Hurricane Katrina, four boyhood friends return to New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and find decimated homes, no jobs and no help from FEMA. They reluctantly turn to a local gangster who offers them one shot at turning their situations around — by pulling off a dangerous heist in the heart of the city. When the job goes bad, the friends find themselves on the run, hunted by two relentless detectives and a neighborhood warlord who thinks they stole the heist money.

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Directed by RZA (The Man with the Iron Fists) and written by P.G. Cuschieri (“The Undercovers”), Cut Throat City stars Shameik Moore (DopeSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Tip “T.I.” Harris (Ant-Man franchise), Demetrius Shipp Jr. (All American) and Kat Graham (“The Vampire Diaries”), along with Wesley Snipes (BladeNew Jack City), Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard (Best Actor, Hustle & Flow, 2005), Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver) and four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke (Best Supporting Actor: Training Day, 2001, Boyhood, 2014; Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay: Before Sunset, 2004, Before Midnight, 2013). Denzel Whitaker (Black Panther), Keean Johnson (Midway) and Isaiah Washington (“The 100”) also play supporting roles.

Bonus content includes behind-the-scenes footage and deleted scenes.

Ant-Man and The Wasp

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 10/16/18;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $216.42 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for for some sci-fi action violence.
Stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas.

The 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrived in a somewhat awkward position for the franchise. Coming off the dire circumstances of Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp offers more of the lighthearted, fun romp first served up in 2015’s Ant-Man. It’s certainly a shift in tone for dedicated Marvel watchers, but also serves as a satisfactory palate cleanser for the despair that “Avengers” movie dished out.

Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man wasn’t in Infinity War, and this movie delves into what he was up to as Thanos was preparing to battle the rest of the Avengers. Under house arrest as a result of the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Rudd) is once again recruited by the father-daughter science whiz team of Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne (Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly), who are now fugitives because Lang used their shrinking technology to help Captain America fight Iron Man.

Hank needs Scott’s help to locate his wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the quantum realm, where she vanished 30 years ago after going too microscopic to return. Hope, meanwhile, has become The Wasp, fulfilling the setup from the first film for her to don a shrinking suit of her own.

However, their efforts have attracted some unwanted attention in the form of a criminal (Walton Goggins) who wants to get his hands on their technology, and a girl (Hannah John-Kamen) who needs energy from the quantum realm to reverse the effects of an accident that is causing her to phase out of existence.

Scott, meanwhile, has to avoid getting caught by the authorities by making sure he’s back home before they stop by for an inspection, lest he be sent back to prison for 20 years.

Director Peyton Reed takes advantage of the size-shifting premise to present both some very funny gags and some inventive action sequences. Reed says in an introduction to the film and his feature-length commentary that one of his main goals on the sequel was to really take advantage of the different perspectives that shrinking and growing can offer, much more than he did in the first film.

The film also sets up how Rudd will make his way into the fourth “Avengers” film, leaving even more clues with which fans can speculate about how the whole Thanos saga will be resolved next year.

For the here and now, though, the Ant-Man and The Wasp Blu-ray includes more than 20 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes with some good insights about establishing the characters in this new story, plus how the production design team mixed practical and CG effects to create sets and sequences that immerse the viewer into a world where the scale of everyday items is often out of whack.

The Blu-ray also includes two deleted scenes running about a minute each, which are interesting on their own but weren’t essential to the overall story. Then there are about four minutes of gag reels, including a minute of Stan Lee’s outtakes trying different lines for his cameo.

The digital editions include an exclusive eight-minute retrospective on the concept artists of the now 10-year-old MCU, plus a minute-long commercial for a company at the center of one of the film’s key running gags. Vudu also offers a two-and-a-half-minute featurette about Reed.