The King’s Man

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/22/22;
20th Century;
Action;
Box Office $37.11 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for sequences of strong/bloody violence, language, and some sexual material.
Stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Charles Dance, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joel Basman, Valerie Pachner.

After two movies focused on the adventures of the spy agency known as Kingsman, writer-director Matthew Vaughn explores the origins of the organization in The King’s Man.

Set against the backdrop of World War I, the prequel weaves a clever tale centered on a conspiratorial cartel whose mastermind, The Shepherd, manipulates Europe into the devastating conflict. The cabal consists of several villainous figures from world history during the time period, including Rasputin, Mata Hari and Lenin. The war itself is explained as the extension of a childhood feud between three cousins who would grow to be King George V of England, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

In an inspired bit of casting, all three rulers are played by Tom Hollander, who previously played George V in the British miniseries The Lost Prince, as well as his great-great-grandfather George III in the John Adams miniseries.

At the center of it all is Orlando, the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), a pacifist and humanitarian who vows to use his resources to do what the governments of the world cannot — to expose the hidden villain behind the war and restore a measure of peace.

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Vaughn’s highly fictionalized retelling of World War I is a fun romp through history that incorporates actual events into its greater narrative. While the twists and turns sometimes make for a weirdly paced film, it does offer some thrilling action sequences and eventually gets where it needs to, layering some references to the previous films along the way.

The Blu-ray includes a comprehensive hour-and-a-half behind-the-scenes documentary called “The Great Game Begins.” There’s also a 16-minute breakdown of the silent knife fight sequence that takes place on a battlefield at night.

The 26-and-a-half-minute “Remembrance and Finding Purpose” is a heartfelt look at organizations that help wounded veterans re-adjust to society through art and sport.

Finally, the disc includes the film’s red-band trailer.

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Walmart is selling an expanded 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with an exclusive DVD bonus disc containing two additional 15-minute featurettes. “Spymaster: Conspiring With Matthew Vaughn” offers the cast singing the praises of their director and his approach to filmmaking, while “Weaponized Cinema: Film Propaganda in World War I” offers a historical look at how film evolved into a political tool during the first World War.

‘The King’s Man’ Due on Digital Feb. 18, Disc Feb. 22

The action thriller The King’s Man will be released through digital retailers Feb. 18, and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 22 from Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution.

Also available digitally and in a Steelbook will be “The Kingsman Collection,” featuring all three films with bonus features together for the first time.

Set during World War I, The King’s Man tells the origin story of the world’s very first independent intelligence agency. As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions across the globe, one man must race against time to stop them.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the film stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou and Charles Dance.

Extras include a making-of documentary and several featurettes.

Bohemian Rhapsody

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/12/19;
Fox;
Drama;
Box Office $210.68 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug material and language.
Stars Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers.

In telling the history of the legendary rock band Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t get any more complicated than it needs to be.

Presented primarily as a biopic of lead singer Freddie Mercury, the film depicts the band’s formation, their rise to stardom and their triumphant performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert. Mercury’s sometimes turbulent personal life as he realizes his sexual identity provides the primary character drama of the movie, interspersed with the touchstones of the group’s greatest hits being created.

It’s essentially a two-hour long Queen tribute video that isn’t so much interested in diving into the more tawdry aspects of Mercury’s life as it is focusing on the music (which is to be expected, given how the film was co-produced by some of Mercury’s old bandmates, who were looking for more of a tribute than an exposé).

Of course, the fact that it’s such a loving tribute, loaded with such great music, makes it an easy movie to enjoy. There’s also a fun cameo from Mike Myers, calling back to the memorable use of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World.

Rami Malek so thoroughly transforms into Mercury that it’s easy to forget it’s a performance, especially during re-creations of the band’s shows, particularly the final Live Aid extravaganza, which is the subject of two separate extras on the Blu-ray.

One is the complete 22-minute re-creation of the Live Aid performance, which is absolutely faithful to the original event and a pretty fantastic medley of Queen songs. The other is a 20-minute featurette about staging the Live Aid performance, which involved a lot of visual effects to re-create the old Wembley Stadium and digitally fill it with 100,000 screaming music fans.

Malek’s transformation into Freddie Mercury is the subject of another 16-minute featurette, while the 20-minute “The Look and Sound of Queen” deals with the process of re-creating the era.