News of the World

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Western;
Box Office $12.6 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, disturbing images, thematic material and some language.
Stars Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Ray McKinnon, Mare Winningham, Bill Camp, Thomas Francis Murphy, Fred Hechinger.

British director Paul Greengrass takes a step back from his political thriller comfort zone with a foray into an iconic American genre, the Western, with News of the World, adapted from the 2016 novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles.

In his Blu-ray commentary, Greengrass, who co-wrote the screenplay in addition to directing, reveals he was attracted to the project because he wanted to make something with a happier outcome than his usual fare.

The result is a relatively quiet, contemplative journey through an uncertain period of American history.

Tom Hanks delivers his usual solid performance as Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a former Confederate soldier in the Civil War who, in the film’s setting of 1870, makes a meager living traveling from town to town throughout Texas to inform the residents of world events by reading from the latest newspapers. Kidd injects the readings with a dash of showmanship to hold the attention of the rapt audiences, though occasionally encounters some hostility when he broaches topics the locals aren’t too keen to hear about (not unlike modern cable news).

On one journey through the back roads, he encounters the remnants of an attack on a wagon that has left as the lone survivor a young blond girl named Johanna (newcomer Helena Zengel), whom he learns was the child of German settlers who had been seized years earlier by Kiowa Indians and raised as one of their own, but had been recently re-captured and was being returned to her family. A local Army officer washes his hands of the matter, suggesting Kidd either wait three months to turn her over to a liaison officer, or accompany her himself — a perilous journey back toward Kidd’s hometown of San Antonia through dangerous terrain that has vastly changed since Kidd last made his way through there.

Compounding Kidd’s task is that Johanna knows nothing of white man’s customs and seems prone to run away any chance she gets.

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The premise plays a bit like an inverse of “The Searchers,” in which John Wayne’s objective was to track down the white girl raised by Indians. As Kidd tries to teach Johanna about her true heritage, she helps him confront some of the demons of his past that led him to a life on the road, and in their bonding they begin to rediscover their purpose. It’s a bit like the Old West version of “Punky Brewster” (the original 1980s version, not the sappy revival).

News of the World is beautifully shot, the Oscar-nominated cinematography showcasing sprawling landscapes of gorgeous but gritty Texas wilderness. This isn’t the romanticized glamorous Wild West of yore, and the hardships of those trying to tame the land come blaring through the screen.

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The News of the World 4K Ultra HD combo pack includes the film on both a 4K and a regular Blu-ray disc, with the same extras on each; the 4K disc offers them in UHD resolution.

In addition to a solo Greengrass commentary that is a good mix of recap and analysis, the disc includes seven deleted scenes running a total of 11 minutes. These offer some interesting character moments, including some backstory about Kidd’s horses.

Also included are four behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about a half-hour in total. The seven-minute “Partners: Tom Hanks & Helena Zengel” focuses on the two main characters, while the seven-and-a-half-minute “Western Action” deals with the challenges of shooting the genre on location. The 11-minute “Paul Greengrass Makes News of the World” is a more generalized look a the making of the movie, covering some of the same ground Greengrass discusses in his commentary. Finally, there’s the four-minute “The Kiowa” featurette that details how modern members of the Kiowa tribe served as consultants on the film to aid the authenticity of the portrayal of the time period and their ancestors.

 

‘News of the World’ Coming to Digital March 9, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 23

The Tom Hanks Western News of the World will be available for purchase on digital March 9 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD March 23 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film was previously released as a premium VOD rental.

Set in the 1870s, the film stars Hanks as former Army captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news from the far reaches of the globe. In the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) taken in by the Kiowa people and raised as one of their own. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces.

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The film is based on the best-selling novel and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The release will feature exclusive bonus content, including deleted scenes, feature commentary with co-writer/director Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips, “Bourne” Franchise), and an inside look into the relationship between movie veteran Hanks and newcomer Golden Globe-nominee Helena Zengel.

‘Greenland,’ ‘News of the World’ Top Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

The dystopian disaster film Greenland led the Vudu chart while the Tom Hanks starrer News of the World again led the FandangoNow for the week ended Jan. 31.

Both are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.

Greenland, which became available for digital purchase after a stint as a PVOD rental, is an action thriller that follows a family fighting for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary. The film came in at No. 2 on the FandangoNow chart.

News of the World is a Western set in the 1870s starring Hanks as an ex-captain from the Civil War who is paid to transport a 10-year-old girl who was kidnapped by Native Americans back home to her family. The title, which took the fourth spot on the Vudu chart, is available as a premium VOD rental.

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Taking the silver on the Vudu chart (No. 5 on FandangoNow) was the Blumhouse horror comedy Freaky, starring Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton in a body switching story with a twist.

Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age, which became available for premium rental at the services Dec. 17, fell to No. 3 from No. 2 on both charts. In the animated sequel, in search of a new home, the Croods encounter the more sophisticated Betterman family. A new threat forces the two families to set aside their differences to avoid extinction.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 31, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Greenland
  2. Freaky
  3. The Croods: A New Age
  4. News of the World
  5. Let Him Go
  6. Apocalypto
  7. Come Play
  8. American Skin
  9. Songbird
  10. Promising Young Woman

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 31, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. News of the World
  2. Greenland
  3. The Croods: A New Age
  4. Promising Young Woman 
  5. Freaky
  6. Our Friend
  7. Fatale
  8. Let Him Go
  9. American Skin
  10. Tenet

‘News of the World’ Again No. 1 on Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

The Tom Hanks starrer News of the World  again led the FandangoNow and Vudu charts for the week ended Jan. 24.

Both are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.

The Western set in the 1870s stars Hanks as an ex-captain from the Civil War who is paid to transport a 10-year-old girl who was kidnapped by Native Americans back home to her family. The title is available as a premium VOD rental.

Universal Pictures’ The Croods: A New Age, which became available for premium rental at the services Dec. 17, repeated at No. 2 on both charts. In the animated sequel, in search of a new home, the Croods encounter the more sophisticated Betterman family. A new threat forces the two families to set aside their differences to avoid extinction.

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Coming in at No. 3 on the Vudu chart (and No. 5 on the FandangoNow chart) was Universal’s Let Him Go, which became available for digital purchase Jan. 19. Based on the novel of the same name by Larry Watson, the film stars Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as a husband and wife who, following the death of their son, leave their Montana ranch to trek through North Dakota to rescue their young grandson from the clutches of a ruthless family.

Taking the bronze on the FandangoNow chart (and No. 6 on the Vudu chart) was Promising Young Woman, available for premium VOD rental. The revenge dark comedy follows Cassie (Carry Mulligan), a young woman living a secret double life by night.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 24, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. News of the World
  2. The Croods: A New Age
  3. Let Him Go
  4. American Skin
  5. Tenet
  6. Promising Young Woman
  7. Greenland
  8. The War With Grandpa
  9. Love and Monsters
  10. Shadow in the Cloud

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 24, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. News of the World
  2. The Croods: A New Age
  3. Promising Young Woman 
  4. Fatale
  5. Let Him Go
  6. Our Friend
  7. American Skin
  8. Greenland
  9. Tenet
  10. The War With Grandpa

‘News of the World’ Tops Vudu, FandangoNow Charts

The Tom Hanks starrer News of the World topped the FandangoNow and Vudu charts for the week ended Jan. 17.

Both are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.

The Western set in the 1870s stars Hanks as an ex-captain from the Civil War who is paid to transport a 10-year-old girl who was kidnapped by Native Americans back home to her family. The title is available as a premium VOD rental, as are all the top three titles on both charts.

Universal’s animated Croods sequel, which became available for premium rental at the services Dec. 17, fell to No. 2 on both charts after a weeks’ long stint at No. 1. In the film, in search of a new home, the Croods encounter the more sophisticated Betterman family. A new threat forces the two families to set aside their differences to avoid extinction.

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Coming in at No. 3 on the Vudu chart was Greenland, available for premium rental starting Dec. 18. The action thriller follows a family who fights for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary.

Taking the bronze on the FandangoNow chart was Promising Young Women, just made available for premium VOD rental. The film follows Cassie (Carry Mulligan), a young woman living a secret double life by night. An unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right wrongs from the past.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 17, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. News of the World
  2. The Croods: A New Age
  3. Greenland
  4. Fatale
  5. Promising Young Woman
  6. Tenet
  7. Shadow in the Cloud
  8. Songbird
  9. The War With Grandpa
  10. Batman: Soul of the Dragon

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended Jan. 17, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. News of the World
  2. The Croods: A New Age
  3. Promising Young Woman 
  4. Fatale
  5. Greenland
  6. Tenet
  7. American Skin
  8. Synchronic
  9. The War With Grandpa
  10. Shadow in the Cloud

Tom Hanks WW2 Flick ‘Greyhound’ Streams July 10 on Apple TV+

The Tom Hanks World War II movie Greyhound will premiere July 10 exclusively on Apple TV+, the tech giant’s subscription streaming service. The Sony Pictures release had been slated to hit theaters on Father’s Day — a strategy scuttled by theater closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple last month acquired distribution rights to the movie about a first-time Navy captain tasked with guiding 37 Allied ships across the Atlantic while targeted by German U-boats. Hanks wrote the script based on the novel The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester. Apple is reportedly investing heavily in original and third-party catalog content to buttress a SVOD platform criticized for lack thereof compared to competitors Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

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Hanks is also working with Apple on the wartime series “Masters of Air.” Apple TV+ launched last Nov. 1 for $4.99 monthly. The service is included free (for one year) with any Apple hardware purchase. Ampere Analysis claims Apple TV+ has 33 million subscribers, which includes free members.

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Apple TV+ Gets Tom Hanks WW2 Movie ‘Greyhound’

Apple TV+ has reportedly secured streaming rights to Tom Hanks’ new World War II naval movie, Greyhound, originally slated to hit theaters on May 8 and then delayed to June 19 from Sony Pictures.

With the exhibition industry shuttered due to the coronavirus, Sony shopped the $50 million budget movie to alternative channels, with Apple reportedly winning the bidding war. The media/tech giant is eager to upgrade a content portfolio that features about 30 original series and scant catalog fare. Apple hasn’t announced a release date for the movie.

Sony retains theatrical distribution rights for Greyhound in China, according to CNBC.

Hanks stars as a U.S. Navy commander assigned to his first war-time mission defending a merchant ship convoy under attack by German submarines in the Atlantic.

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It marks the first Hanks movie to debut in the over-the-top video distribution channel. The Oscar winner, who wrote the screenplay, co-stars with Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan and Elisabeth Shue, among others.

Hanks is no stranger to war movies, including 1998 Oscar winner Saving Private Ryan, and 2001 HBO series “Band of Brothers,” which Hanks helped produce, direct and write.

Warner Bros. Issues Statement on Tom Hanks’ Coronavirus Diagnosis

Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, March 11 publicly announced they had been diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the flu-like disease that has stricken more than 125,000 worldwide and killed 5,000.

Hanks and Wilson are in Australia where the actor is in pre-production on a Warner Bros.’ Elvis Presley biopic from director Baz Luhrmann. Hanks plays Presley’s manager, Tom Parker.

In a statement, Warner said it was aware that a “company member” from the Elvis feature film had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We are working closely with the appropriate Australian health agencies to identify and contact anyone who may have come in direct contact with the individual,” the studio said in a statement. “The health and safety of our company members is always our top priority, and we are taking precautions to protect everyone who works on our productions around the world.”

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Warner said the “individual” who tested positive for COVID-19 is currently receiving treatment.

Indeed, Hanks, on his social media platform said he and Rita are following prescribed medical protocols.

“We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires,” he wrote. “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated.”

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‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Coming to Digital Feb. 4, Disc — Including 4K — Feb. 18

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as the venerable Fred Rogers, will debut on digital Feb. 4, and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Hanks, who picked up an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the role, portrays children’s television icon Mister Rogers of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in this film based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love and forgiveness from America’s most beloved neighbor.

The film also stars Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood made $60.9 million at the global box office, all but about $300,000 of it in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

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Bonus features on the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD include more than 15 minutes of additional scenes, a blooper reel, an all-new featurette starring Daniel Tiger, filmmaker commentary and a behind-the-scenes look at the film.

Toy Story 4

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 10/8/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $433.06 million;
$39.99 Blu-ray/DVD, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘G.’
Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Jeff Garlin.

While the prospect of a fourth “Toy Story” movie was exciting news for fans of the franchise, there were some questions about whether the adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang might have run their course. After all, the third movie from 2010 was an emotional rollercoaster that seemed to provide a decent, if bittersweet, sense of closure for the characters.

Of course, the question about what stories were left to tell had already been answered long before the fourth movie was announced, not only through three short films, but also two half-hour television specials. So, yeah, there’s more than enough material to mine.

There would still be the challenge of making any new film feel like an event worthy of the franchise. The movies should at least be somewhat transformational, redefining the status quo of the characters beyond what can be accomplished in a short film.

Well, the team at Pixar Animation Studios certainly achieved that goal, and then some. Toy Story 4 isn’t the best film in the franchise, but it might be the most cathartic. Where the previous film was a bit of a gut punch, this one offers more of a natural progression for the characters.

After a flashback that shows how Woody’s love interest, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was given away (mentioned in Toy Story 3), we check in to see how the toys are doing with their new owner, Bonnie. While she exhibits a rich imagination, she tends to leave Woody (Tom Hanks) sidelined, leaving him to wonder what his place in her life is.

Bonnie then creates a new toy, named Forky (Tony Hale), out of trash at school, and when he would rather return to the garbage than play with Bonnie, Woody assigns himself the task of educating the new toy and making sure he’s available for her. Woody’s task gets more complicated when Forky manages to jump out of the RV on a family road trip. In retrieving him, Woody comes across an antique shop and reunites with Bo. But Forky is captured by a doll at the shop who wants to trade him for Woody’s pull-string voice box to replace her own defective one, hoping the fix will help entice a kid to want to play with her.

Bo, on the other hand, presents another option for life as a toy: roaming free, with no owner, never worrying about being played with or not and determining her own fate. Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) sets out on a mission to find Woody, bolstered by a hilarious running gag of him activating his own voice feature so he can get advice from his “inner voice.”

So, yes, the movie does return to the “recover a lost character” motif that has been a staple of the franchise (and, indeed, most Pixar films), putting a few new spins on the formula along the way. The antique shop and a nearby carnival are wonderful settings for toy-level adventures with inventive new characters, such as Canadian motorcycle-jumping daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and a pair of game-prize plushes voiced by Key & Peele.

The only area of concern, really, is that each passing movie runs the risk of potentially piercing the suspension of disbelief about the toys being alive, which some of the characters actually joke about in this one. One need to simply look no further to the living vehicles of the world of “Cars” to see how much such questions can distract, and detract, from the narrative.

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The “Toy Story” movies have all been visual marvels, and the fourth one is no exception, advancing the state of CGI to render fantastic textures and details on the toys and their environments. The carnival offers a great excuse for bright colors and warm lights, while the antique shop provides a trove of subtle references.

The Blu-ray is loaded with a lot of great behind-the-scenes material, including an insightful feature-length commentary track by director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen in which they discuss all sorts of challenges to crafting a fourth “Toy Story” film.

Some of the more pivotal sequences get their own callout in the form of “Anatomy of a Scene” videos in which the filmmakers discuss and joke about making them. The disc includes a nine-and-a-half-minute look at the playground scene, while a seven-minute deconstruction of the prologue serves as a digital exclusive.

The disc also includes 28 minutes of deleted scenes, still in storyboard form, that show some of the unused concepts for the film, including an unused ending that would have pretty much negated the film’s message of finding your own place in the world.

The digital version of the film includes an additional seven-minute alternate opening sequence depicting Bonnie’s playtime fantasy using the toys.

The various featurettes included offer interesting glimpses of the production with the usual interviews with cast members and filmmakers, but often show them interacting in ways not typically presented in such videos.

There is a six-minute “Bo Rebooted” video about how Bo’s character was expanded into a major role for the film. Another, three-and-a-half-minute piece, spotlights the relationship between Woody and Buzz.

The new characters are shown off in a series of “Toy Box” videos that run 13 minutes, while an additional six-minute featurette focuses on new castmember Ally Maki and her pint-sized character.

One of the more nostalgia-infused featurettes is a five-and-a-half-minute “Toy Stories” piece in which several of the cast and crew recall the toys they played with as children.

Among some of the more random video bits are a few minutes of animation showing off the carnival and the antique shop roof from the toys’ perspectives, plus a series of promotional videos including character vignettes and trailers from around the world.

Some digital retailers, such as Vudu, also offer a two-and-a-half-minute “Toy Story Rewind” video in which the cast and crew reflect on the previous movies.