Second Season of ‘Westworld’ on Disc Dec. 4

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Westworld: Season Two — The Door on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on Dec. 4.

The HBO series was recently nominated for 21 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series.

In the 10-episode second season, the futuristic theme park’s robotic hosts have become aware of their existence and plot their liberation and retaliation against humankind. The cast includes Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden and Tessa Thompson.

The season will be released through digital channels July 23 with new bonus content. The Blu-ray editions will also include a digital copy of the season.

Digital and Blu-ray extras include three “Bring Yourself Back Online” featurettes: “Reflections on Season Two — Dolores, Teddy and Bernard; “Of Love and Shogun — Maeve, Hector and Lee”; and “Journeys and Technology — Stubbs, Logan and Clementine.” Also included will be the featurettes “The Buzz: On the Red Carpet” and “Return To Westworld.” Additional featurettes will be grouped under “Creating Westworld’s Reality” — “An Evocative Location,” “Fort Forlorn Hope,” “The Delos Experiment,” “Shogun World,” “Inside the Cradle,” “Chaos In The Mesa,” “Ghost Nation,” “Deconstructing Maeve,” “The Valley Beyond” and ‘The Drone Hosts.”

The Blu-ray will also include the featurettes “Paved With the Best Intentions: The Evolution of the DELOS Corp.” and “Violent Delights Have Violent .”

The limited-edition UHD Blu-ray will feature Dolby Vision. The UHD and Blu-ray editions will feature Dolby Atmos soundtracks remixed specifically for the home theater environment.

 

 

Ready Player One

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 7/24/18;
Warner;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $137.02 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $34.99 3D BD, $44.95 UHD BD.
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language.
Stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Lena Waithe, Hannah John-Kamen.

In its quote displayed on the cover of Ernest Cline’s nostalgia-inspired novel Ready Player One, USA Today described the book as “Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.” And despite a significant number of elements changing in the translation from page to screen, that’s an apt description for director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation as well. (Unless you want to subscribe to Red Letter Media’s theory that an episode of “Danny Phantom” serves as a better inspiration, but that’s a conclusion you’ll have to reach for yourself.)

Like the book, the film is a love letter to 1980s pop culture, so it seems apt for Spielberg, whose films helped define 1980s pop culture, would take on the task of directing it. Even more interesting is how Spielberg toned down the references to his own works, not wanting the film to appear too self-serving.

The focus on a very specific slice of the zeitgeist, especially with a story set in 2045, might not seem to make much sense (after all, it’s not as if 1950s pop culture dominates today), but the narrative presents a certain logic as to why this would be the case.

In the world of the film, humanity has become obsessed with a virtual online world called the OASIS, whose creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) grew up in the 1970s and ’80s and was himself obsessed with the pop culture of the era. Upon his death in 2040, he left a series of clues within the OASIS that would lead to three keys that, when collected, would unlock the portal to a golden egg, giving whomever discovers it wealth beyond belief and complete control of the OASIS. Solving the clues requires studying the things that Halliday loved, and thus a resurgence of decades-old pop culture references within the OASIS among those seeking the top prize.

Among the egg hunters (known as “Gunters”) are 18-year-old Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who worships Halliday almost as if he were a god, and the freedom fighter Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), who wants to find the egg to make sure the OASIS doesn’t fall into the hands of the IOI corporation, led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who wants to exploit it by selling ads everywhere.

The film is a fun adventure with some eye-popping visual effects and enough background details to require several viewings to spot them all. And looking beyond the pop culture references, beneath it all is a typical Spielberg parable about the value of teamwork versus the destructive nature of greed, and how it’s not exactly healthy to ignore the real world to spend all your time watching movies and playing video games.

The Blu-ray includes six featurettes running nearly two hours in total. The bulk of it is the 57-minute “Game Changer: Cracking the Code,” which is the primary behind-the-scenes look, focusing on the writing, casting and filming — much of which involved the actors in motion-capture suits.

That leads into the 25-minute “Effects for a Brave New World,” about creating the digital world of the OASIS as well as enhancing the real-world scenes.

The eight-minute “Level Up: Sound for the Future” deals with the sound effects team led by industry veteran Gary Rydstrom.

Film music fans will enjoy the 10-minute “High Score: Endgame,” about how composer Alan Silvestri, who has worked on numerous Spielberg-produced movies, stepped in to work with director Spielberg for the first time (as longtime Spielberg collaborator John Williams was off doing The Post).

Rounding out the bonus materials are the five-and-a-half-minute “The ’80s: You’re the Inspiration,” and “Ernie & Tye’s Excellent Adventure,” in which Texans Cline and Sheridan re-unite in Austin for a fun discussion about the film just before its premiere.

Rampage

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 7/17/18;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $98.58 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D BD, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language, and crude gestures.
Stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Movies based on video games often run into trouble when the screenwriters deconstruct the original premise of the game to the point where it either barely resembles the source material or loses the sense of fun that made the game popular to begin with.

On the other hand, some arcade games have a premise that is so basic that a convoluted screenplay is almost required to translate it into a movie.

Rampage, based on the 1980s Midway smash-em-up game that gave players the option to play as one of three mutant creatures attacking a city, manages to find a balance between the two extremes, using an evil corporation storyline to explain how a gorilla, a wolf and an alligator mutate into giant monsters and lay waste to Chicago.

The film jettisons the game’s notion that there are people who morph into the creatures — an aspect of the game’s constant replayability — in favor of a storyline involving a gorilla expert (Dwayne Johnson) caught up in a corporate conspiracy to weaponize genetic engineering.

The script doesn’t delve too deeply into the tropes it needs to use to get to the meat of what the game is about, and that’s giant creatures attacking everything around them, eating people, destroying buildings and causing all-around mayhem.

Johnson is pretty much settled into his generic action-star persona at this point, to the degree that his character has a name but it doesn’t much matter what it is. This is his third collaboration with director Brad Peyton, following Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas, and the pair demonstrates a reliable confidence in delivering audience-pleasing action that doesn’t rely on over-complicating the storyline.

Likewise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan isn’t doing much more than a more benevolent take on his smarmy Negan character that made him a popular mainstay on “The Walking Dead.” But, again, it’s all in service to the central concept of getting the giant animals to a big city and trashing it.

And once they do get to Chicago, oh the destruction is glorious. It almost serves as a preview of the eventual King Kong vs. Godzilla movie. The filmmakers also took care to layer in several subtle references to the game mechanics, as revealed in one of the Blu-ray’s behind-the-scenes featurettes, the six-minute “Not a Game Anymore.”

Other featurettes, running between 10 and 12 minutes each, include a look at the stunts, the designs of the monsters, the attack on Chicago and the development of the Gorilla, George.

The Blu-ray also includes a nearly three-minute gag reel and more than 10 minutes of deleted scenes, including an excised cameo from San Andreas co-star Alexandra Daddario.

‘I Can Only Imagine’ Earns Top Spot on Home Video Charts

The faith-based I Can Only Imagine, distributed by Lionsgate, debuted at No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended June 16.

The Christian film, which tells the story of the MercyMe song of the same name, proved to be a surprise box office hit, taking in more than $83 million at U.S. theaters compared with a reported budget of $7 million.

At No. 2 on both charts was another newcomer, Warner’s Tomb Raider reboot, which sold 58% as many copies as the top title overall and 83% as many Blu-rays. It earned just $57.4 million at the domestic box office.

Dropping a slot to No. 3 on both charts in its fifth week was Disney’s Black Panther.

Paramount’s animated Sherlock Gnomes debuted at No. 4 overall and No. 5 on the Blu-ray chart.

The previous week’s top title, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, dropped to No. 5 overall and No. 4 on the Blu-ray chart.

The only other newcomers in the top 20 were 20th Century Fox’s Love, Simon, at No. 6 on both charts, and Universal Pictures’ horror sequel The Strangers: Prey at Night, which was No. 18 overall and No. 19 on the Blu-ray chart.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 40% of I Can Only Imagine unit sales, compared with 57% for Tomb Raider, 50% for Sherlock Gnomes, 56% for Love, Simon and 59% for The Strangers: Prey at Night. Ultra HD Blu-ray comprised 11% of Tomb Raider‘s first-week sales and 5% for Love, Simon.

The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended June 17 also saw I Can Only Imagine debut at No. 1, with Fox’s Death Wish remake, the previous week’s top title, dropping to No. 2.

Sherlock Gnomes debuted at No. 3, while Wrinkle in Time rose to No. 4 and Warner’s Game Night slid to No. 5.

The Strangers: Prey at Night debuted as the No. 6 rental.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 06-16-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 06-17-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 06-16-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 06-16-18
Sales Report for Week Ended 06-16-18
Digital Sales Snapshot for Week Ended 06-18-18

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ to Debut on 4K Ultra HD Oct. 30 from Warner

As part of the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the groundbreaking science fiction epic on 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray in premium collectible packaging and 4K UHD digital Oct. 30.

The classic returned to U.S. theaters in May following the debut of an “unrestored” 70mm print at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. The film is playing throughout the summer at select theaters. For the first time since the original release, new 70mm prints were struck from pristine printing elements made from the original camera negative. A longtime admirer of the Kubrick, director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, Interstellar, Inception) worked closely with the team at Warner throughout the mastering process. Building on the work done for the new 70mm prints, the 4K UHD with HDR presentation was mastered from the 65mm original camera negative. The 4K UHD also includes both a remixed and restored 5.1 DTS-HD master audio track, as well as the original 1968 six-track theatrical audio mix (formatted for 5.1 DTS-HD master audio).

2001 to me is the most cinematic film that has ever been made and it has been an honour and a privilege to be able to share the film with a new generation,” Nolan said in a statement. “4K UHD allows the closest recreation of viewing the original film print in your own home. Kubrick’s masterpiece was originally presented on large format film and the deeper color palette and superior resolution comes closest to matching the original analogue presentation.”

Originally released in the 70mm Cinerama roadshow format on April 4, 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey was directed and produced by Kubrick and written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, inspired by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel.”

The 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K UHD Blu-ray with premium packaging ($41.99) includes the feature film in 4K resolution with HDR (including Dolby Vision HDR), a remastered Blu-ray disc, a Blu-ray disc with the special features in HD, and a digital version of the feature film. The premium packaging also includes a collectible booklet and art cards featuring iconic images from the film.

The remastered Blu-ray Disc will also be available as a standalone product at $19.98.

2001: A Space Odyssey is also available for purchase in 4K UHD from select digital retailers, including iTunes, Google and Vudu on October 30.

The 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K UHD contains the following 4K and Blu-ray elements:

  • 4K UHD Blu-ray with Commentary from Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood
  • Remastered Blu-ray with Commentary from Dullea and Lockwood
  • “The Making of a Myth”
  • “Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001
  • “Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey – A Look Behind the Future”
  • “What Is Out There?”
  • “2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork”
  • “Look: Stanley Kubrick!”
  • a Nov. 27, 1966 Interview with Stanley Kubrick (audio only)
  • the original Theatrical Trailer
  • a premium booklet
  • art cards

 

The 2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray disc contains the remastered Blu-ray with commentary from Dullea and Lockwood.

Warner Bringing Season 11 of ‘Big Bang Theory’ to Disc Sept. 11

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eleventh Season on Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 11.

The two-disc sets will include all 24 episodes plus a gag reel and three behind-the-scenes featurettes: “The Maturation Imperative,” “The Big Bang Theory: The Blueprint of Comedy” and “A BBT History of Time.”

The Blu-ray will also include video from the show’s panel at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Melissa McCarthy Comedy ‘Life of the Party’ Due on Digital July 24, Disc Aug. 7 from Warner

Life of the Party, starring Melissa McCarthy as a divorced mom who goes back to college, arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) July 24 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Aug. 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

On Aug. 7, Life of the Party will also be made available digitally on VOD services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into reset by going back to college, landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea.

The film also stars Gillian Jacobs (Don’t Think Twice, “Love,” “Community”), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Sisters), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” Ghostbusters), Molly Gordon (Love the Coopers, “Animal Kingdom”), Stephen Root (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, “Animal Kingdom”), Jessie Ennis (“Better Call Saul”), Adria Arjona (“True Detective,” “Emerald City”), Debby Ryan (“Jessie”) and Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”). McCarthy and director Ben Falcone co-wrote the screenplay and produced through their production company On the Day Production.

Life of the Party will be available on Blu-ray combo pack at $35.99 (with DVD and digital) and DVD at $28.98.

Special features on the Blu-ray combo pack include “’80s Party,” “Mom Sandwich,” “ Line-O-Rama,” “Bill Hate-O-Rama,” a gag reel and deleted scenes. Special features on the DVD include “’80s Party.”

Fourth Season of ‘Gotham’ on Disc Aug. 21

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Gotham: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 21. The 22 episodes of the Fox Network series based on DC Comics “Batman” find Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) continuing down his path toward vigilantism as the criminal landscape of Gotham City asserts itself, despite the best efforts of Gotham City Police Department Capt. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Det. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to stop it.

Home video extras include deleted scenes and the featurettes “The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2017,” “Solomon Grundy: Born on a Monday” and “The Sirens Take Gotham.” The Blu-ray also includes a digital copy of the episodes.

Gun Crazy

 BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Available via Warner Archive;
Warner;
Drama;
$21.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars John Dall, Peggy Cummins.

Paul Schrader, who should know, wrote an essay decades ago listing 10 or so titles that defined film noir, and the ‘B’-with-better-than-‘B’ talent initially known as Deadly Is the Female ended up making the cut. Yet even on the modest grindhouse level, the ultimately retitled Gun Crazy didn’t perpetuate the turning of many box office turnstiles, which is kind of surprising given how punchy and innovative so much of it is.

It doesn’t take much clairvoyance to speculate that this is a movie likely admired by author James Ellroy — who, most appropriately, leads off an hour-plus “what is noir?” doc that’s included on this pristine Blu-ray edition and carried over from a great previously released Warner Entertainment DVD box set devoted to the genre. L.A. Confidential’s source author has his own definition of noir, which is a little more brass-tacks basic than Schrader’s. It has to do with those women who give you the best sex of your life and then end up {insert the predictable Ellroy verb} in the other way as well. Think of the fatalistic Detour syndrome, even if it’s kind of tough to imagine Ann Savage’s character in that dime store classic offering much in a filmy negligee. Spiked heels, maybe.

As one of two married Midwest stickup practitioners whose prolific work habits eventually clog up the region’s APB transmissions, Brit blonde Peggy Cummins plays Crazy’s deadly female half, though she seems more mentally unbalanced than all-out evil. Or at least she does until later in the game, when her self-proclaimed perpetual “nervousness” when pulling off jobs unleashes a previously submerged violent streak — to say nothing of her willingness to use a child as a shield against pursuing authorities while on the lam with her husband. As “DVD Savant” Glenn Erickson notes on the commentary, their official vow-taking was obviously mandated by film censors of the day because living in sin was worse than bumping off victims during armed robberies.

Cummins’ better half (and he is) is played as a child by Russ Tamblyn when he was still billed as Rusty and then by John Dall. The latter is best known these days as the half of the murdering duo in Hitchcock’s Rope who isn’t Farley Granger — though you can also see also see him being smarmy-and-a-half as Laurence Olivier’s guest in the pricey seats (the kind the Steinbrenner family would have at Yankees games) to watch Kirk Douglas battle Woody Strode to the death in the Spartacus arena. Despite this screen history, Dall is a rather sweet guy here: irresistibly drawn to guns but exclusively for their tactile features and not out of any any desire to harm people. Thus, when he meets Cummins as part of her target-shooting job in a carnival, he likely figures that her own attraction to “heat” must be purely recreational as well.

As miscalculations go — though make no mistake, these two really love each other, which may be all he more twisted — this lapse of judgment has to rank with convincing yourself that you’ll be set for life after one last job, despite the fact that you splurge for furs and hit the nightclubs every time you pull a big score. A lot of Gun Crazy’s reputation rests on the superb point-of-view feel to a couple robbery scenes in particular: its influences on Bonnie and Clyde that were even noted in the late ’60s by in-the-knows. I was surprised to learn on Erickson’s commentary that director Joseph H. Lewis had a 30-day shooting schedule — not the kind of time, to be sure, that gave David Lean his countless hours to “wait for the light” but maybe enough for a resourceful ‘B’ director like Lewis to give far more shots than not a novel angle.

Like the breakthrough Dillinger, which to this day gets a surprising number of comely women to “go” for the real life Lawrence (Rap Sheet) Tierney, Gun Crazy was produced by the King Brothers — who were so penny-pinching that I even heard the late humorist Art Buchwald (who was once a friendly  acquaintance) make an out-of-the-blue wisecrack about them. But the Kings weren’t above hiring Blacklisted writers at a fraction of their cost, which is how the non-existent Robert Rich (“fronting” for Dalton Trumbo) later got a writing Oscar for The Brave One, which ended up becoming a preliminary step in breaking HUAC’s hold on the industry.

In Crazy’s case, it’s Millard Kaufman fronting for Trumbo (sharing credit with MacKinlay Kantor, who wrote the source short story) to further class up a melodrama that already had Victor Young score and Russell Harlan behind the camera. I’m always amazed how a lot of the great cinematographers often hopscotched between big productions and small ones (Harlan, a Howard Hawks favorite, had shot Red River just two years earlier). And also that he later pulled off Oscar nominations for black-and-white and color work in the same year, 1962: To Kill a Mockingbird and Hatari!

The Blu-ray is quite a showcase for Harlan’s abilities on a tight budget, and I’m not just talking about camera movements. We don’t often see a ‘B’-movie — or, if you like here, “shaky ‘A’” — getting major-scale high-def treatment, and there are shots here of rain puddles during a nightclub chase scene and of a listening brook that almost made me blink with their clarity and element of surprise. It really makes me wonder what the new 4K version of Detour can possibly look like — a joint effort of worldwide archives way beyond the imagination of the ’40s Hollywood establishment for a movie that probably hasn’t looked all that good since the time I was spitting up on my crib bumpers.

Like a lot of talented working directors who didn’t have their projects handed to them on a platter, Lewis had a spotty career. A lot of people love My Name Is Julia Ross from 1945 and some of his other postwar Columbia’s, though my No. 1 choice has to be 1955’s The Big Combo, complete with its gay henchmen and what Jonathan Demme once volunteered as having the “first cunnilingus scene in American movies” when I expressed my love of the film after spotting a VHS copy in his office. (I suspect this is technically true, unless there are some ancient Stroheim outtakes floating around the MGM archives).

Despite a marked disparity between its best scenes (many) and clunky or merely functional ones (just a few), Gun Crazy would be a clear No. 2 on my Lewis list — one of the achievements that does indeed define film noir, as well as a presumed show-up on just about anyone’s standout movies from 1950 (and it was a very fine year). Great job, Warner.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Gun Crazy’ and ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story’

‘Rampage’ Stomping to Disc July 17, on Digital June 26

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Rampage digitally June 26, followed by disc releases on Blu-ray, DVD, 3D Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray July 17.

Based on the popular arcade game, the action-adventure movie stars Dwayne Johnson as a primatologist who must confront the results of an experiment that has mutated animals into gigantic creatures that destroy everything in their path.

The film re-unites Johnson with director Brad Peyton, the pair having previously worked together on San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

The cast of Rampage also includes Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, Matt Gerald, Jason Liles, Demetrius Grosse and Will Yun Lee.

The film has grossed $94.2 million at the domestic box office and more than $413 million worldwide.

The Blu-ray and DVD versions will include the featurette “Not A Game Anymore,” about how the Midway video game inspired the filmmakers.

The Blu-ray versions will also include deleted scenes, a gag reel and additional featurettes: “Rampage — Actors in Action,” about the stunts; “Trio of Destruction,” about the visual effects; “Attack on Chicago,” about filming in the city; and “Bringing George to Life,” about creating the film’s central gorilla character.

The 3D and 4K Blu-rays of Rampage will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for home theater environments. The 4K Blu-ray also features Dolby Vision HDR.