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.

‘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.

Dune: Part One

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $107.35 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive material.
Stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem.

Efforts to adapt Frank Herbert’s landmark 1965 sci-fi novel Dune have been met with mixed results over the years.

The 1970s saw Alejandro Jodorowsky envision a 10-hour movie version, and when that fell through, producer Dino De Laurentiis grabbed the rights and hired Ridley Scott to give it a go as a follow-up to Alien, though the scope of the project proved too daunting for him as well.

Then David Lynch came on board, choosing to adapt Dune over, among other projects, directing Return of the Jedi. His version finally arrived in 1984 after a troubled production and massive edits to bring his three-hour initial cut to a bit over two hours for the theatrical release, a running time that so crammed Herbert’s story that it was generally panned by critics for being incomprehensible.

The Sci-Fi Channel in the early 2000s had a bit better luck with a pair of miniseries based on Dune and a few of Herbert’s sequels to it, earning ratings success while leaving fans of the books to continue to clamor for a worthy big-screen version.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s interpretation seems to have met those aspirations.

Villeneuve’s Dune presents the narrative as a sweeping epic of galactic politics and feuding families, marked by stunning visual splendor and scope.

Covering roughly half of the first book, Dune: Part One, as it is announced on screen, tells the story of a desert world named Arrakis, thousands of years into the future when humanity has colonized the vast expanses of outer space and formed an empire to control it, led by wealthy and influential families. The planet’s sands provide the only known source of the spice Melange, a substance with mind-altering properties that makes celestial navigation possible.

The Emperor has ordered the House Atreides, led by Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) to take over administration of Arrakis from Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). Leto’s son, Paul (Timothée Chalamet), begins having visions of living among the Fremen, remnants of the tribes that originally inhabited the planet.

The Fremen are experts at surviving the harsh desert environment and dealing with the giant native sandworms that roam beneath the surface, both depositing the spice and menacing the efforts to extract it. Paul is rumored to be a prophesized messiah to the Fremen.

The Atreides will not have an easy time of it on Arrakis, however, as it quickly becomes apparent that their appointment to govern the planet is a trap by the Emperor and the Harkonnens to diminish their power, if not eliminate them altogether by a full-scale assault on the planet.

Villeneuve places the emphasis on the human and character aspects of the story, rather than the more bizarre sci-fi elements that seemed to fuel Lynch’s version.

At around two-and-a-half-hours, he also takes 20 more minutes than Lynch to tell half the story, allowing it to breathe by not trying to cram the density of the first book into a single movie, as the 1984 version did.

To make sure viewers who didn’t read the book are not left completely baffled, long early stretches of the film are very heavy in exposition, explaining who the families are, the Fremen and the culture of Arrakis. But this is all necessary worldbuilding endemic to any good sci-fi franchise and should continue to pay off with future installments.

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Savvy viewers may have noticed the influence the original novel had on countless burgeoning sci-fi franchises in the years it took to get a movie adaptation off the ground, with “Star Wars” and its desert world of Tatooine being the most notable example. Because of this, some fans might find a lot of similarities between this latest Dune movie and some recent “Star Wars” shows set on Tatooine, such as “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett.”

The exposition provided in the film is expanded upon in the Blu-ray bonus materials, with an eight minute featurette about the Royal Houses, and 10-and-a-half-minutes of video encyclopedia entries similar to the ones Paul watches in the film in order to learn about Arrakis.

The Blu-ray also includes nearly an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes as well, with individual videos focused on the usual things like production design, cinematography, costumes and visual effects

Some dig deeper, such as a creating the makeup effects used to create the Baron’s bloated physique. Another looks at the fighting styles used to give the battle scenes a heightened since of verisimilitude. Others show how the visual effects team pulled off the film’s unique vehicles, as well as the giant worm attacks; the longest is an 11-minute examination of the film’s distinctive sound design and Hans Zimmer’s musical score.

Collectively, they demonstrate the precision and craftsmanship that went into constructing the film.

Netflix Picks Up Zendaya Film ‘Malcolm & Marie’

Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to Sam Levinson’s romantic drama Malcolm & Marie starring Zendaya and John David Washington.

“I am so grateful to this cast and crew, many of whom are my ‘Euphoria’ family, for coming together during such uncertain times,” director-writer-producer Levinson said in a statement. “We felt privileged to be able to make this film together and we did so with a lot of love. We are all thrilled that it has ended up with Netflix which is unparalleled in allowing filmmakers the freedom to tell their stories that reach audiences all over the world.”

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The story follows a filmmaker (Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya) who return home following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be imminent critical and financial success. The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/1/19;
Sony Pictures/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $389.86 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated’PG-13’ for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
Stars Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Martin Starr, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Peter Billingsley, Marisa Tomei.

Well, that could have been awkward.

Amid reports that Sony Pictures and Disney would not renew their landmark deal to share Spider-Man, the home video release of the latest film featuring the character looked to be in the unenviable position of reminding audiences just how valuable the partnership had been, both from a financial and a creative standpoint.

And since Spider-Man: Far From Home ends with a cliffhanger that recasts the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Spidey’s place within it, a fresh viewing of the film under the shadow of its sequel potentially not being connected to the MCU only puts a more glaring spotlight on the impasse, much to the disappointment of fans. The bonus materials accompanying the release don’t sidestep the issues, either, with direct discussions of Spidey’s impact on the MCU (particularly the four-minute “Stepping Up” featurette).

Fortunately, such prospects were avoided with the news of a new agreement to allow Marvel to make a proper sequel, completing a trilogy with Tom Holland as the title character at the very least, and paving the way for whatever Sony has planned for the character down the road.

And that’s very good news indeed, as Far From Home offers a spectacular adventure, from the perspective of both a Spider-Man story and the 23rd chapter of the MCU (serving as the epilogue of Phase 3).

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With the world adjusting to the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Holland) and his high school class take a summer trip to Europe, where Peter hopes to relax, take some time away from being Spider-Man, and explore a relationship with MJ (Zendaya). Unfortunately, he is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) battle a threat from another dimension. As Peter struggles to balance his personal and superhero lives, he is confronted by the legacy of Tony Stark.

But as Peter questions what his place within that legacy is, he learns that things are not what they seem, forcing him to step up to become the hero he was destined to be.

The film looks great, blending scenic European locales with dazzling visual effects to create an eye-popping piece of entertainment.

Holland remains one of the most likeable stars of the MCU, handling with ease whatever challenges the movie throws at him. Gyllenhaal makes for an engaging Mysterio, an effective counterbalance to Peter’s crisis of confidence. Far From Home features a lot of surprises, both in terms of how the story unfolds and in references to earlier Marvel movies.

As with the previous film in this particular franchise, 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, the villains are remnants of Stark’s actions in prior films, which has left some fans a bit miffed that the MCU Spider-Man seems more like an Iron Man Jr. cleaning up Stark’s messes. There is some truth to that, but within the context of the story of the films, it works really well.

The Blu-ray also includes what is billed as a new original short, but it’s essentially a three-and-a-half minute deleted scene of Peter preparing for his vacation, clips of which were used in some of the earliest Far From Home trailers.

Separately, the disc includes another six minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, plus a three-and-a-half-minute gag reel.

The four-and-a-half-minute “Stealthy Easter Eggs” featurette shows off some of the film’s hidden references, while the five-minute “Teachers’ Travel Tips” offers a comedic look at the chaperones played by Martin Starr and JB Smoove trying to ensure a smooth trip.

For behind-the-scenes footage, the disc offers nine featurettes that run about 40 minutes in total. These cover everything from the new suits, new locations and new cast members seen in the film, to the extensive stunts, a look at MCU guest stars, and how director Jon Watts put his spin on the material.

Another section of the extras offers eight minutes of comparisons between pre-vis storyboards and the final version of select scenes.

Finally, there’s a 12-minute video called “The Brother’s Trust,” an inspiring look at the charity work of Holland and his brothers.

 

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Comes Home on Digital Sept. 17, Disc Oct. 1 Including 4K

Spider-Man: Far From Home will fly to digital Sept. 17 and 4K Ultra HD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Oct. 1 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $386.1 million in domestic theaters.

Tom Holland returns as the web-slinger Peter Parker in the next chapter after Spider-Man: Homecoming. He joins his best friends Ned, M.J. and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plans to leave heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks. Spider-Man and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) join forces to fight the havoc unleashed across the continent — but all is not as it seems.

The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan and Zendaya as M.J.

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Special features include a new original short, alternate and extended scenes, gag reels, and Easter Eggs. Additional special features include “Teachers’ Travel Tips,” with Mr. Harrington and Mr. Dell on how to traverse the European continent, as well as interviews with the cast and crew focused on stunts and location in “The Jump Off” and “Far, FAR, From Home.” Viewers can explore how Spider-Man was introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Stepping Up” and get a closer look at the chemistry between Jon Watts and Tom Holland in “It Takes Two.” Viewers can also dive into the “The Ginter-Riva Effect,” “Thank You, Mrs. Parker” and “Now You See Me” featurettes for more character focused details.

The 4K Ultra HD also features Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio.

‘Lucifer’ Rules Binges and ‘Euphoria’ Is on the Rise on TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “Lucifer” continued as the top “Binge” show while HBO’s “Euphoria” led the “Shows on the Rise” on TV Time’s charts for the week ended June 23.

TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the company.

“Lucifer,” a canceled Fox series rescued by Netflix about the Lucifer’s escapades in Los Angeles, remained at No. 1 on the weekly “Binge Report,” which ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day.

HBO’s “Euphoria,” took the top spot on the “Shows on the Rise” chart, which is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The show follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media. Actor and singer Zendaya leads an ensemble cast including Hunter Schafer, Jacob Elordi, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney.

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended June 23 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Lucifer” (Neflix) 4.50%
  2. “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (Netflix) 3.49%
  3. “Trinkets” (Netflix) 2.94%
  4. “Friends” (NBC) 2.27%
  5. “Dark” (Netflix) 1.87%
  6. “The 100” (CW) 1.72%
  7. “Good Girls” (NBC) 1.60%
  8. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) 1.52%
  9. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) 1.43%
  10. “Game of Thrones” (HBO) 1.32%

 

Top Shows on the Rise Week Ended June 23 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Euphoria” (HBO) 100%
  2. “Go! Live Your Way” (Netflix) 93.4%
  3. “Dark” (Netflix) 88.4%
  4. “Well-Intended Love” (Mango TV) 88.4%
  5. “Trinkets” (Netflix) 78.2%
  6. “Good Trouble” (Freeform) 77.8%
  7. “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (Netflix) 72.1%
  8. “Aggretsuko” (Netflix) 58.8%
  9. “Siren” (Freeform) 45%
  10. “Younger” (TV Land) 42.5%

‘Smallfoot’ to March to Digital Dec. 4, Disc Dec. 11 from Warner

The animated Smallfoot will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 4 and Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Dec. 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film, featuring music by Zendaya and Common, turns the Bigfoot legend upside down when a bright young Yeti (voice of Channing Tatum) finds something he thought didn’t exist — a human. News of the “smallfoot,” Percy (voice of James Corden), throws the simple Yeti community into an uproar over what else might be out there in the big world beyond their snowy village. The film also features the voice talent of Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Danny DeVito, Gina Rodriguez, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry and Jimmy Tatro.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack, which features a Blu-ray disc, a DVD and a digital version of the movie, includes an interactive sing-along that lets viewers follow the words of their favorite songs from the film. Other bonuses include:

  • the “Super Soozie” Mini Movie, with custom animation featuring the yeti toddler Soozie;
  • Migo in “The Secret of the Yeti Stones,” a featurette with Tatum;
  • “Yeti or Not, Here They Come! Imagining Smallfoot,” a making of featurette;
  • the Nial Horran “Finally Free” music video;
  • the Cyn “Moment of Truth” music video;
  • the “Wonderful Life: In 28 Languages, Sung Around the World” music video; and
  • theatrical promos.

 

DVD bonus features include “Yeti or Not, Here They Come! Imagining Smallfoot.”