Uncharted

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Adventure;
Box Office $146.64 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence/action and language.
Stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Antonio Banderas.

While not a perfect adaptation of the popular video game franchise of the same name, Uncharted delivers an entertaining adventure film pastiche anchored by its likable leads.

The casting of Tom Holland to play the game’s protagonist, treasure hunter Nathan Drake, was almost certainly an attempt by Sony to repurpose the most bankable star on their roster as the anchor for a new franchise following his mega-successful “Spider-Man” movies. However, as Holland is a bit young to play the seasoned Drake portrayed in the games, the film’s plot takes on the flavor of a prequel, telling the story of Nate’s first big adventure.

In taking this direction, the film draws inspiration mostly from the third and fourth games, which featured flashbacks to the younger Nate’s time spent as a wayward youth in and out of orphanages with his brother, Sam.

Mark Wahlberg plays Sully, who in the games is Nate’s mentor and pilot, but is presented in the film as more of a rival and reluctant ally as the pair learn to trust each other to set up the relationship seen in the games. Wahlberg had actually been tapped to play Nate when attempts to make an Uncharted movie first started swirling a decade ago.

In the film, Sully recruits Nate to help him find the lost treasure of Ferdinand Magellan. Sully explains that he had been working with Sam, who disappeared, and he needs Nate’s help to decipher the clues to the whereabouts of Magellan’s ships. Nate agrees, hoping to find his long-lost brother.

Standing in their way is Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), whose family originally funded Magellan’s expedition. He wants to find the gold collected by Magellan’s crews in order to restore his family’s name.

From there, the film is pretty straightforward in sticking to the tropes of treasure quests — from Indiana Jones to National Treasure to The Goonies — with the characters navigating their way through clever clues and death traps to discover the prize. Director Ruben Fleischer provides a commentary track on the Blu-ray in which he lays out many of his inspirations for the film, as well as his attempts to stay true to the spirit of the games while also laying the groundwork for future movies.

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Holland and Wahlberg for the most part seem like their typical film personas than the characters from the game they’re supposed to be playing, but they work well together, and their breezy charisma brings a lighter touch to the proceedings. And, at times, the action does evoke some of the feeling of playing the games.

Aside from some clunky CGI used to enhance certain action scenes, the film looks great, hopping around the globe from one exotic locale to another.

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The Blu-ray includes several behind-the-scenes featurettes that tally close to a half-hour in total. The four-minute “Becoming Nathan Drake” looks at Holland’s take on the character, while the four-minute “The Buddy System” looks at the pairing of Holland and Wahlberg. The four-minute “Villains, Backstabbers, & Accomplices” examines many of the films’ supporting characters, and the four-and-a-half-minute “Charting the Course: On Set With Ruben Fleischer” delves into the director’s vision for the film. The six-minute “Never a Dull Moment: Stunts & Action” is pretty self-explanatory, and is supplemented by a five-minute breakdown of a big action scene set on a cargo plane.

Among the promotional materials are a three-minute music video for “No Mind” by Milkblood, and four-minutes of Web ads.

Rounding out the extras are more than 10 minutes of deleted scenes that offer some fun additional tidbits and character interactions.

Sony Actioner ‘Uncharted’ Tops Weekly Vudu Chart

Sony Pictures’ Uncharted topped the chart of the 10 most-popular titles on Fandango’s transactional digital service Vudu the week ended May 1.

Newly available for digital purchase, the action adventure stars Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. In the film, Holland plays street-smart thief Nathan Drake, who is recruited by seasoned treasure hunger Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago.

Debuting at No. 2 was Universal Pictures’ Michael Bay action thriller Ambulance, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Available for premium digital rental and purchase, the film follows a veteran desperate for money who turns to his adoptive brother, a career criminal, who plans a heist.

Warner Bros.’ The Batman dropped from the top spot the previous week to No. 3 on the chart. The DC Comics-based superhero actioner, which debuted for premium digital rental and purchase April 18, stars Robert Pattinson as the caped crusader, who after more than a year of stalking the streets and striking fear into the hearts of criminals, dives deep into the shadows of Gotham City. 

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Falling from No. 2 to No. 4 on the chart was the canine buddy comedy Dog. Available for digital purchase, the MGM film follows an Army ranger (Channing Tatum, who also co-directs) who races down the Pacific Coast with an Army dog named Lulu to make it to a fellow soldier’s funeral on time. Along the way, they drive each other crazy.

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Remaining at No. 5 on the chart was Lionsgate’s Roland Emmerich disaster film Moonfall, starring Halle Berry. Available for digital purchase beginning April 1 and newly available to rent, the film follows a space crew attempting to save the Earth when a mysterious force knocks the moon out of its orbit.

Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended May 1, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. Uncharted
  2. Ambulance
  3. The Batman
  4. Dog
  5. Moonfall
  6. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  7. Sing 2
  8. Turning Red
  9. Jackass Forever
  10. Blacklight

Spider-Man: No Way Home

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 4/12/22;
Sony Pictures/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $803.82 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99, Blu-ray, $45.99 UH BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action/violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
Stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Benedict Wong, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire.

The story of Spider-Man: No Way Home hinges on a plot device that could have been one of the greatest surprises in cinematic history. Instead, it was one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood that previous Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield would reprise their roles alongside current Spider-Man Tom Holland to fight a variety of villains from all the “Spider-Man” movies since the first film in 2002.

It wasn’t as if Sony’s marketing department didn’t try to keep it quiet. Images of the multiple Spider-Men were omitted from trailers, and Garfield resorted to blatantly lying in interviews in which he said he wasn’t involved, despite all the widespread rumors to the contrary, and in some cases photographic evidence.

Of course, the momentary shock value for such a reveal can only add so much to the viewing experience, and the film’s immense box office fortunes don’t seem to have suffered in the least. And knowing of the eventual Spidey super team-up doesn’t detract at all from the emotional resonance that elevates Spider-Man: No Way Home into more than just a fantastic superhero action movie.

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The film is the 27th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and picks up immediately following the events of 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is publicly identified as being the masked webslinger.

As his life spirals out of control due to people knowing that he’s Spider-Man, Peter asks his Avengers cohort Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to reset everyone’s memories so they don’t remember his secret anymore. But the spell becomes unstable and breaks down the barriers between different realities, drawing in villains such as Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Sandman from the Sam Raimi-directed movies, and Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the Lizard from the “Amazing Spider-Man” films.

Rather than send them back to their universes only to die fighting their versions of Spider-Man, Peter endeavors to cure them first, a decision that backfires and results in profound tragedy.

However, the spell also brought Maguire’s and Garfield’s Spideys from those universes, giving Holland’s Spider-Man the allies he needs to stop the team of villains from doing more damage. It feels a lot like one of those “Doctor Who” anniversary specials in which previous versions of the Doctor joined the current one for a grand adventure.

The film works as a celebration of Spider-Man and his legacy in film, tying together the entire franchise in a way that not only continues the development of Holland’s Spider-Man, but also enriches the story arcs of Maguire’s and, especially, Garfield’s.

Spider-Man: No Way Home looks amazing, with several instantly iconic sequences, and seamless visual effects that really make it seem as if Molina and Dafoe were just plucked out of the earlier movies and placed into this one.

Another standout is the musical score by Michael Giacchino, who not only continues to develop the progression of his themes from the first two MCU Spidey movies, but gets to reuse his Dr. Strange themes as well. As if those weren’t enough, he also incorporates some of Danny Elfman’s themes from the Maguire films, and the late James Horner’s wonderful theme from The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s leitmotif on overdrive.

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The Blu-ray includes a solid hour-and-a-half of bonus materials, including seven behind-the-scenes featurettes. The six-minute “A Spectacular Spider-Journey With Tom Holland” tracks the journey of its star since he joined the MCU, while the seven-minute “Graduation Day” looks at the evolution of all the recurring characters. The five-minute “Enter Strange” examines the wizard’s role in the story, while the six-and-a-half-minute “Action Choreography Across the Multiverse” looks at the film’s stunt work. The eight-minute “Realities Collide, Spiders Unite” looks at how the film’s legendary team-up came to be, while the seven-minute “Weaving Jon Watt’s Web” focuses on the director’s experiences making the three MCU “Spider-Man” films.

The best extras are two panel discussions with the cast. The nine-minute “The Sinister Summit” features the villains of the film — Dafoe, Molina and Foxx. But the main event is the seven-and-a-half-minute “A Meeting of the Spiders” with Holland, Garfield and Maguire discussing their camaraderie.

A nearly five-minute featurette informs viewers of many of the references to previous Spider-Man films and comics that have been layered into the film.

Another fun inclusion are three in-universe story videos about Spider-Man from TheDailyBugle.net, running a total of about four minutes.

There are also two videos comparing the stunt previsualization with the final result, running three-and-a-half-minutes.

A section of promotional materials includes three short clips: Holland and co-star Jacob Batalon taking a lie detector about their experiences on the film, running two minutes; a minute clip of Holland’s press tour to Paris; and a minute of the filmmakers raving about the benefits of filming in the state of Georgia.

Rounding out the extras is a four-minute bloopers/gag reel.

In the 4K combo pack, all the bonus materials are on the Blu-ray disc. The 4K disc doesn’t include any extras.

‘Uncharted’ Headed to Digital April 26, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD May 10

The action adventure Uncharted is headed to digital April 26 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 10 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting race to reach the prize before the ruthless Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs.

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Special features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital include deleted and extended scenes; behind-the-scenes featurettes; and commentary with director Ruben Fleischer. The DVD includes one behind-the-scenes featurette.

 

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Headed to Digital March 15, Disc April 12

The Marvel Studios film Spider-Man: No Way Home will head to digital March 15, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc April 12 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

As the film begins, the friendly neighborhood hero’s identity is revealed, bringing his superhero responsibilities into conflict with his normal life and putting those he cares about most at risk, including MJ (Zendaya). When he enlists Doctor Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) help to restore his secret, the spell tears a hole in the world, releasing the most powerful villains who’ve ever fought a Spider-Man in any universe. Peter (Tom Holland) will have to overcome his greatest challenge yet, which will not only forever alter his own future but the future of the Multiverse. 

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Bonus materials on the Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and digital editions include a bloopers and gag reel; alternate reality Easter eggs; seven behind-the-scenes featurettes; and two panels. DVD bonus features include two behind-the-scenes featurettes.

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Set to Battle Pandemic, Outsized Box Office Projections

After a multi-week box office lull, Sony Pictures’ release of a signature franchise movie is set to explode the Dec. 19 weekend box office. Spider-Man: No Way Home has electrified pre-launch U.S. ticket sales and generated social media heat and critical praise (94% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

Fandango reported that pre-sales for No Way Home have already sold more tickets than the online ticket service has sold for the entire theatrical run of any 2021 release.

Can the follow-up to 2019’s $1.1 billion Spider-Man: Far From Home, also starring Tom Holland as the webslinger, justify the hype?

The studio reportedly is projecting a $130 million North American opening across almost 4,400 screens. With a record $43.6 million theatrical debut already reported across the United Kingdom, France, South Korea and Mexico, No Way Home could shatter lofty global expectations.

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Standing in its way: The pandemic and growing concerns over the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. With the ongoing politicization of government vaccine and mask mandates, theaters find themselves in a no-win position on the matter.

While Spider-Man wears a mask, myriad moviegoers don’t want to. When AMC Theatres — the nation’s largest exhibitor chain — last year mandated mask wearing, citing government restrictions, it was met with a fierce backlash on social media, including calls to boycott the chain. The chain quickly reversed policy, allowing patrons to voluntarily wear masks.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” CEO Adam Aron said at the time. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.”

Another new release is the critically acclaimed Nightmare Alley, director Guillermo del Toro’s remake of the 1947 film noir that made Tyrone Power a star. Bradley Cooper reprises Power’s role as Stanton Carlise, a clever showman with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is.

The movie is projected to generate a box office opening upwards of $5 million.

‘Chaos Walking’ Due on Digital May 14, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 25

The sci-fi thriller Chaos Walking, starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, will come out on digital May 14 and 4K Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD May 25 from Lionsgate.

In the film — based on the best-selling novel The Knife of Never Letting Go and set in the not-too-distant future — Todd Hewitt (Holland) discovers a mysterious girl named Viola (Ridley). She has crash-landed on his planet, where the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by “The Noise,” a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola’s life is threatened and, to protect her, Todd must discover his inner power and unlock the planet’s dark secrets.

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From director Doug Liman (The Bourne IdentityEdge of Tomorrow), Chaos Walking also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, Kurt Sutter and David Oyelowo.

Special features include:

  • Audio commentary with director Doug Liman, producer Alison Winter and editor Doc Crotzer;
  • “A Director’s Noise” featurette;
  • “Inner Thoughts With Patrick Ness” featurette;
  • “The Source of Silence” featurette;
  • “Citizens of Prentisstown” featurette;
  • “Establishing Shot With Ben Seresin” featurette (4K exclusive);
  • “The Music of Chaos Walking” featurettes; and
  • deleted scenes with optional audio commentary.

 

Sony Pictures, Netflix Ink Exclusive U.S. Movie Distribution Deal

In a throwback to a former landmark deal between Netflix and Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment has signed a distribution deal with the SVOD behemoth for exclusive U.S. access to Sony theatrical releases following the box office and home entertainment windows.

The agreement, which begins in 2022, will replace Sony’s existing digital deal with Lionsgate-owned Starz. Sony, unlike other major studios, does not have its own branded streaming video service. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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The deal will include upcoming Sony releases Morbius, starring Oscar winner Jared Leto, and Uncharted, featuring “Spider-Man” actor Tom Holland. Sony, which will also produce movies for Netflix as part of the streamer’s 60+ movie releases per year, will give Netflix access to its lucrative Spider-Man franchise.

Other tentpole titles include Where the Crawdads Sing and Bullet Train, which will be among the initial 2022 offerings. They will be followed by continued entries in Sony Pictures’ rejuvenated slate of IP, including the sequel to Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and several more SPE films featuring Marvel characters, including future installments of Venom and Spider-Man; and expected follow-ups for the “Jumanji” and “Bad Boys” franchises. Netflix will also license rights to select titles from SPE’s vast movie library.

“This not only allows us to bring Sony’s impressive slate of film franchises and new IP to Netflix in the U.S., but it also establishes a new source of first run films for Netflix movie lovers,” Scott Stubler, head of global films at Netflix, said in a statement.

Sony will also offer Netflix a first look at any films it intends to make directly for streaming or decides later to license for streaming, and Netflix has committed to make a number of those films over the course of the deal. Any such direct-to-streaming projects will be additive to SPE’s full 15-20 title theatrical film slate, which will continue at its current volume. Netflix recently acquired rights to Sony animated comedy The Mitchells vs. The Machines.

“Netflix has been a terrific partner as we continue to expand our relationship,” said Keith Le Goy, president of worldwide distribution and networks for Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This exciting agreement further demonstrates the importance of that content to our distribution partners as they grow their audiences and deliver the very best in entertainment.”

Netflix’s 2016 deal with Disney afforded the streamer exclusive access to the studio’s movies — in a deal that reportedly cost Netflix $350 million annually. That turned out to be a boon for Netflix as it had exclusive rights to Disney’s burgeoning Marvel Studios’ titles — a reality that help skyrocket subscriptions. Disney did not renew the agreement when it decided to launch branded SVOD platform Disney+.

Apple TV+ Orders ‘The Crowded Room’

Apple TV+ has ordered the series “The Crowded Room,” with Tom Holland starring in the lead role of the first season.

The anthology series will be produced by Apple Studios and New Regency, with Academy Award winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) set to write and executive produce.

Holland also will serve as executive producer alongside Goldsman.

“The Crowded Room” will explore the true and inspirational stories of those who have struggled and learned to successfully live with mental illness.

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The anthology’s 10-episode first season is inspired by the award-winning biography The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes. It tells the story of Billy Milligan (Holland), the first person ever acquitted of a crime because of multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder).

‘Chaos Walking’ Coming to PVOD April 2 From Lionsgate

The sci-fi thriller Chaos Walking, starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, will come out via premium VOD rental April 2 from Lionsgate.

In the film — based on the best-selling novel The Knife of Never Letting Go and set in the not-too-distant future — Todd Hewitt (Holland) discovers a mysterious girl named Viola (Ridley). She has crash-landed on his planet, where the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by “The Noise,” a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola’s life is threatened and, to protect her, Todd must discover his inner power and unlock the planet’s dark secrets.

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From director Doug Liman (The Bourne IdentityEdge of Tomorrow), Chaos Walking also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, Kurt Sutter and David Oyelowo.