Follow:

The Mix : What are people talking about today?

REVIEW: Injustice
0

REVIEW: Injustice

I don’t play video game so I am only peripherally familiar with Injustice, an Imaginary Story featuring the DC Universe. Similarly, I didn’t read the Injustice: Gods Among Us prequel comic book that apparently sold well enough to inspire Warner Animation to invest precious time and resources in adapting it to film. The resulting product, out now from Warner Home Entertainment, is an acquired taste.

Those familiar with the source material will be irked at how much has been trimmed out to fit hundreds of pages into a 75-minute story. Those unfamiliar with the tale will scratch their heads a lot, asking, “How’d that happen?”

Taking a page from Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come, Superman turns dark with rage and grief after the Joker kills Lois Lane. The twist is that this Lois is pregnant, deepening his pain. He becomes a dictator, instilling his warped view of justice around the world, forcing his allies to either side with him or form the resistance.

And we’re off.

I don’t find this sort of story particularly compelling without the requisite time for characterization and the film, written by the hit or miss Ernie Altbacker, favors action. And the action here, directed by Matt Peters, is not staged as well as previous animated offerings so the entire production leaves me cold. I am also not particularly impressed with the character designs which are clunky, hampered by the limited animation. The overall production just doesn’t work.

The most interesting aspect is the vocal cast, led by former Green Arrow Justice Hartley as the Man of Steel. He’s opposed, of course, by Anson Mount’s grim Batman. Derek Phillips does fine triple duty as Nightwing/Deadwing and Aquaman along with Anika Noni Rose’s Catwoman and Faran Tahir’s Ra’s al Ghul.

Given the veteran production talent behind the scenes, they should all have known better that a story with this much scope can’t successfully be truncated.

The film is available in the usual formats including the 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray/Digital HD code combo. While the animation is stilted, the transfer to 2160p is very strong, with sharp colors and even saturation throughout. And the 1080p is just fine. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio finely captures the explosions, bickering, and pontificating.

The Special Features include Adventures in Storytelling – Injustice: Crisis and Conflict (30:55) as producer Jim Krieg, director Matt Peters, producer Rick Morales, and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker, explain their unfulfilled ambitions for the story. Beyond that, we get the far more interesting two-part “Injustice” story from the 2002 Justice League.

Marvel Shares Andy Park’s How-To-Draw Shang-Chi video
0

Marvel Shares Andy Park’s How-To-Draw Shang-Chi video

To celebrate the release of Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, now available on all major digital platforms, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD, check out Marvel’s Director of Visual Development Andy Park’s How-To-Draw Shang-Chi video, as well his concept art for Shang-Chi, and Morris concept art from artist John Staub.

We favorably reviewed the movie and noted, “There’s a lot of pain and emotional heft here, more than in some of the other MCU offerings.”

0

Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Part II by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, and Rich Tommaso

OK, you know how in big superhero comics, everything needs to be back at status quo ante eventually? Worlds will live, worlds will die, Ultrafellow will be replaced by a disabled teen Latina, and the entire Evil-Fighting Gang will disband for good…but only until it all goes back to the way it was before.

Readers tend to assume that your modern passel of writers – the ones we respect, the ones who talk about loving punching-comics since they were five, the ones we sometimes think still wear Underoos to big shows – only do this because they are forced to do so by the evil rapacious companies, and that, given their druthers, they would Change Things Permanently, which Would Be Awesome.

So, under this assumption, all of those careful putting-things-back-in-the-box storylines, all of the big Events that undo the previous Event to reset for the next Event – those aren’t the fault of their writers, those are all imposed on them by the evil, evil Suits in…what is it, Burbank, now? Burbank is funny, so let’s say Burbank.

People assume that. They want to believe it. But is it true? Or do those writers just want to put all of their toys back in the box neatly, because they’re still those five-year-olds playing with Star Wars dolls [1] at heart?

Why do I bring this up? Well, you can probably guess. But I’m spoiler-averse enough not to completely fucking spell it out for you right here.

So, he said, brightly, here’s Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Part II , a creator-owned superhero comic that has been lauded by all of the Usual Suspects for the Usual Reasons. The series won the Eisner for Best New Series in 2017. It’s written by Jeff Lemire, who also writes comics about real grownups who don’t punch each other all the time, and drawn mostly by Dean Ormston, with a few issues in this book from the pen of Rich Tommaso. This particular collection gathers the end of the second main series, and – nudge nudge, wink wink – finishes up the main story begun in the first volume . (Here’s what I’ve written about Black Hammer-verse comics so far : I warn you that I have perhaps enjoyed complaining about them more than I did reading them.)

Now, I like Lemire’s non-superhero writing. I think he’s one of the great talents in comics, with a deep understanding of human behavior and a willingness to tell serious, dark stories when that’s the material he’s working with. And flashes of that Lemire do shine through the cardboard walls of the superhero universe he’s constructed here for his dolls to play in. Ormston is a solid artist in that spooky Dark Horse house style, and Tommaso has a quirkier thin-line style (here something like a ’40s comic translated through a modern sensibility) that I quite like as well.

So these guys do good work. They can tell great stories. They just, from the evidence here, would prefer to move their dolls around a few very cliched sets and ape dialogue they loved as children.

This book opens on the cliffhanger from Age of Doom Part I: our heroes are about to go back to the real universe for the first time in a decade, which will allow Darkseid the Anti-God to make the skies red for twelve issues or so and then, presumably, to destroy everything everywhere. (We don’t see him actually do anything like that: maybe the Anti-God just wants to go down to the shops and get a few things? He’s never actually on stage, or doing anything. All we know is what his enemies say about him.) So, to save the world, Lemire deploys first one, then another Standard Modern Comics Plots.

First up, one of the character has to meet his maker, in best Grant Morrison fashion, with the usual panoply of forgotten/never-existed characters for added pathos. Then we get the Everything Is Changed World, where All of The Heroes Have Forgotten They Ever Were Heroes, because That Is the Saddest Possible Thing. Both of those plots get solved, obviously: that’s how Standard Plots go in superhero comics.

And then…well, see my first few paragraphs. I’m not going to tell you exactly what happens, but if you read superhero comics, you know the drill by now.

This is deeply disappointing, and makes all of the Black Hammer comics up to this point completely pointless.

Now I’ve seen modern creators do “my favorite childhood comics, but with actual human motivations,” and that’s plausible. I’ve seen “how I would have handled my favorite story,” which is hermetic but understandable. I’ve seen a lot of “this is the right way for Character X to behave, unlike what all those dum-dums said,” which can be fun.

But this is something else. It’s a like a long car trip through boring, familiar territory with a promise of something new at the end, only to turn a corner and suddenly be back home, only the house is shabbier by our absence. If this is what Lemire planned to do the whole time, I have a hard time understanding why he, or anyone, though it was a worthwhile thing to do.

[1] “Action figure” is a term made up so that American boys could play with dolls and not feel feminine in a way that their culture embarrassed them about. All action figures are dolls. Period.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

0

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 12: To All the Squirrels I’ve Loved Before by North, Charm, & Renzi

So I have no idea if the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series ended at #50 for actual economic reasons (slowing sales), for fake economic reasons (Marvel wanted to concentrate only on comics that can have ten different covers), or for real creative reasons (Ryan North ran out of ways to tell the same “Doreen Green faces Big Marvel Villain, and gets BMV to talk about feelings rather than punching”). It may have even been a reason I’m not considering – perhaps the combined forces of global squirrels realized this comic was too close to reality for their liking, and they’ve used their squirrely wiles to suppress it.

But, for whatever reason, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – at that point the longest-running Marvel comic (hey! that’s another possibility: it annoyed someone in the Marvel hierarchy that such an off-brand, for-female-and-young-people comic was so prominent!) – ended with issue #50, in January of last year.

The very last storyline was collected in this, the last collection: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 12: To All the Squirrels I’ve Loved Before . As with the previous few books, the creative team was writer Ryan North, artist Derek Charm, and color artist Rico Renzi, with a quick guest appearance from original series artist Erica Henderson.

In that book, Squirrel Girl’s greatest foe gathers up all of her nearly-greatest foes and executes a carefully-orchestrated plan to first unmask Doreen Green (she who is Squirrel Girl) and then kill her.

Spoiler: it doesn’t work. Squirrel Girl is not murdered in the last issue of her comic. This may seem to be a silly thing to mention, but in modern-day superhero comics, the opposite is actually somewhat more likely.

Anyway, there’s a big fight – no, really, really big – involving nearly every character who has appeared in all fifty-eight issues of Squirrel Girl, but, in the end, niceness wins, with only a minor case (lampshaded in the actual book) of deus ex machina. This book is mostly fight scene: in that way, it’s more like the rest of the superhero millieu than most of the previous Squirrel Girl stories

And Doreen nearly comes out of the closet near the end, in a way that gives plausible deniability to North but which only the very youngest and most sheltered of the Squirrel Girl audience will miss. And I can wish that was clearer or louder, but maybe this is as good as it could get.

I’ve written far too much about this series – witness my archives – so I think I’ll leave it there. This was a nice comic that went almost entirely against the grain of modern superhero comics, in ways that were all good and positive. It was sometimes a bit too Girl Power! for me, but I am not a girl, and my opinion is not that important.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

REVIEW: The Colony
0

REVIEW: The Colony

For some reason, too many science fiction films dwell on disasters and not on the sense of wonder of being in space. The majesty and grandeur of the universe doesn’t hold enough promise and therefore release after release seems to focus on the terrible things that will happen to us out there. The latest such release, The Colony, is now out on disc from Lionsgate, which they hope will amuse you until they inflict Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall.

Here, we have Louise Blake (Nora Arnezeder) aboard the Ulysses 2, exploring what is left of Earth after several centuries. The ship, probably like its predecessor, crashes, and she is the sole survivor. We flip back and forth between not-very-interesting flashbacks about Louise’s childhood (played by Chloé Heinrich), focusing on the relationship with her father Sebastian Roché, and what she sees of a water-logged Earth. Danger arrives in the form of Gibson (Iain Glen), warlord of a band of survivors/scavengers.

It all feels very familiar from production design to plot points. Writer/director Tim Fehlbaum doesn’t seem to have anything interesting to say about man’s future, mankind itself, or much of anything else.

The film is out on Blu-ray and Digital HD and looks like a perfectly fine AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1, equally matched by the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

Given the film’s lackluster reception and box office, there’s no surprise at the paucity of Special Features. There’s the aspirational Audio Commentary from Fehlbaum and Visions of the Future: Making The Colony (19:26), a perfunctory behind-the-scenes piece.

You can easily skip this one unless you really enjoy SF stories on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

The Mitchells Vs. The Machine Arrive on Disc Dec. 14
0

The Mitchells Vs. The Machine Arrive on Disc Dec. 14

From directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, their follow-up to the smash Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs. the Machine, leaps from Netflix to home video in December.

SYNOPSIS
An old school father and his plugged-in, filmmaker daughter struggle to relate as their family embarks on a road trip to her new college. Their drive is interrupted by a machine apocalypse that threatens to tear these unlikely heroes apart unless they can find a way to join forces and save humanity.

BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL BONUS MATERIALS
• Katie’s Cabinet of Forgotten Wonders: Take a rare look inside Katie Mitchell’s filmmaking process as she gives you an exclusive look into how the movie was made.
o Katie-Vision!
o Dumb Robots Trailer
o The Original “Mitchells” Story Pitch
o The Furby Scene – How? Why?
o PAL’s World
• The Mitchells Vs. The Machines: Or How a Group of Passionate Weirdos Made a Big Animated Movie: Go inside the story of The Mitchells vs the Machines and meet a group of first-time filmmakers & talented cast who banded together to take a collective risk on making a unique, original, and totally off-the-wall film about an everyday, epic, world-saving family!
• How To Make Sock Puppets: Katie Mitchell opens the door to her film school. Learn how to make sock puppets who could be extras in your next short film!
• How To Make Katie Face Cupcakes: Enjoy making cupcakes only a mother could love.

EXCLUSIVE BLU-RAY BONUS MATERIALS
• Dog Cop 7: The Final Chapter: Katie Mitchell is back and creating the most hilarious film of her young career – check out an all-new mini-movie, Dog Cop 7: The Final Chapter. In a world where the holidays are being haunted by the Candy Cane Kidnapper, there is only one Dog with the skills to solve the case.
• Katie’s Extended Cinematic Bonanza Cut! Prepare to witness Katie’s director’s cut, an extended version of the original film with over 40 minutes of deleted scenes.
• 8 Bonus Scenes: Get more Mitchells with over 20 minutes of Deleted & Extended Scenes.
• Filmmakers’ commentary

CAST AND CREW
Directed By: Mike Rianda
Co-Director: Jeff Rowe
Written By: Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe
Producers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Kurt Albrecht
Executive Producers: Will Allegra, Louis Koo Tin Lok
Cast: Danny McBride, Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre and Olivia Colman

SPECS
Runtime: 109 minutes
U.S. Rating: PG for action and some language
Blu-ray: Feature: 1080p High Definition 1.85:1 | Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD MA
DVD: Feature: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen | Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital

Aragones & Evanier’s Groo Finally Lands Animated Deal
0

Aragones & Evanier’s Groo Finally Lands Animated Deal

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 18, 2021) – Entrepreneur Josh Jones has acquired the animated film and television rights to Groo the Wanderer, legendary cartoonist Sergio Aragonés’ beloved comics character, with the intent of producing the character’s first-ever animated entertainment via Jones’ Did I Err Productions company.

Groo the Wanderer, now in its landmark 40th year of publication, is the longest currently-running independent and “creator-owned” comic book property – outlasting many of the companies that published it. The brainchild of Aragonés, who creates the stories along with wordsmith Mark Evanier, the Eisner Award-winning Groo the Wanderer has been published by Dark Horse Comics since 1998.

Jones, and his Did I Err partner Scott Nocas, will serve as executive producers on the film and/or series with Aragonés and Evanier. Did I Err is focused on partnering with creative talent who understand Aragonés’ vision and characters. Projects are being packaged for streaming services and global distribution, with Did I Err able to co-finance as needed. 

“After drawing and living with Groo for so many years, so many comics, so many pages, you can imagine I have drawn Groo in every position imaginable,” Aragonés explains. “Mark and I wondered so many times how he — Groo, not Mark — would look animated. We studied what we have seen on the screen by different animators and laughed plenty. Now, I know that we are going in the right direction and I can assure the fans that they will love Groo the way Mark and I do.”

Sergio Aragones

“I’ve loved Groo the Wanderer since I was eight years old, and to have the honor of bringing the character to on-screen life is, quite literally, a lifelong dream come true,” Jones says. “Sergio’s style, the characters, the world, and especially the humor have always appealed to me. I just want to help bring what I’ve loved for so long to the next generation!”

Jones’ wide portfolio of businesses go far beyond his role as the head of Did I Err Productions. The visionary entrepreneur also owns and operates Kill Capital, a hybrid VC firm and family office; Gondola Ventures, a transportation infrastructure firm; FlyCoin, a crypto rewards program; and Ravn Alaska and its sister airline Northern Pacific Airways. Jones became a Bitcoin proponent in 2010 and has built an outstanding reputation throughout the cryptocurrency industry as a prolific investor and technical expert. He also co-founded DreamHost, a popular web hosting provider, while an undergraduate at Harvey Mudd College. He is a founder of HMC INQ, an investment network offering mentorship and startup support to HMC students and alumni.  He currently serves on the board of Represent.Us and The Aquarium of the Pacific. 

Aragonés is the most honored cartoonist on the planet, having won every major award in the field, including the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award and the Will Eisner Hall of Fame Award. His irresistible cartoons have appeared in MAD since 1963, including as the subject of “All-Sergio” special editions of the magazine. His artistic creations have been seen in DC Comics, Marvel Comics and just about every major publisher of funnybooks, and his work has been translated into more than 100 languages. Paperback collections of his work and graphic novels have sold into the millions. 

Evanier is renowned for his writing in several mediums. The Los Angeles native has written comic books for the characters of The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Studios and Hanna-Barbera, and the three-time Emmy Award nominee’s robust resume of television writing for both live-action and animated series includes Welcome Back Kotter, That’s Incredible, Pryor’s Place, the Scooby-Doo franchise, Superman: The Animated Series, Thundarr the Barbarian, Dungeons & Dragons, Garfield and Friends, and The Garfield Show. An assistant to comics legend Jack Kirby, Evanier honored his one-time employer in 2008 by writing a book entitled “Kirby: King of Comics.” Evanier has earned several Eisner Awards and was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Animation Writing by the Writers Guild of America.

Growing up a huge comic book collector and Groo fan, Nocas has a long career investing in and launching media, consumer and education businesses. He has launched, and produced content for, next generation platforms and communities with Xbox, Sony, Vuguru, Marvel creator Stan Lee, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Army and many others. Nocas currently serves as Managing Director of Jones’ Kill Capital, and as a venture partner with NextGen Ventures – in addition to his producer role with Did I Err Productions. 

For the uninitiated, Groo the Wanderer follows the exploits of a barbarian warrior who is invincible in battle, but negotiates his days with an I.Q. three points lower than a boulder. With his trusty canine sidekick Rufferto, he wanders an ancient land of mystery, magic and mayhem, looking only for a warm place to sleep, a few coins, or a taste of cheese dip. 

RWBY – Volume 8 now out on Digital and Blu-ray
0

RWBY – Volume 8 now out on Digital and Blu-ray

BURBANK, CA – More than ever before, the allied forces battling Salem mustunite in a single, concerted effort to prevail in the eighth thrilling season of Rooster Teeth’s anime-inspired series RWBY. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will distribute RWBY – Volume 8 on Digital and Blu-ray ($24.98 SRP USA, $29.98 SRP Canada) starting yesterday.

Beloved by fans and acclaimed by critics, RWBY imagines a world filled with horrific monsters bent on death and destruction, and humanity’s only hope lies with powerful Huntsmen and Huntresses. Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long are four such Huntresses-in-training, and their journey takes them far beyond the gates of Beacon Academy as they confront dark forces and work as a team to become the next generation of Remnant’s protectors.

In RWBY – Volume 8, our heroes’ worst fears have finally been realized: Salem is here, and the timing couldn’t be worse for the divided Kingdom of Atlas. Fear has turned the friends into enemies, and doubt threatens to splinter Humanity’s remaining allies. With both Salem and Ironwood stacking the odds against them, and the fate of Remnant at stake, it’s up to Team RWBY to make their play before it’s too late.

In addition to all 14 of the season’s episodes – including the landmark 100th episode of the series (entitled “Witch”) – and a full gamut of bonus features included in the season compilation, the first 20,000 fans to purchase RWBY – Volume 8 on Blu-ray will also receive a pack of limited edition RWBY/Justice League Art Cards. Each pack contains 10 collectible cards that feature the cover or variant from the RWBY/Justice League comics released by DC earlier in 2021.

The RWBY cast is led by the core foursome of Lindsay Jones (X-Ray and Vav) as Ruby Rose, Kara Eberle (Rooster Teeth Shorts) as Weiss Schnee, Arryn Zech (Red vs. Blue) as Blake Belladonna and Barbara Dunkelman (Fairy Tail, Blood Fest) as Yang Xiao Long. Other key voice cast members include Miles Luna (Camp Camp) as Jaune Arc, Neath Oum (RWBY: Grimm Eclipse) as Lie Ren, Samantha Ireland (RWBY Chibi) as Nora Valkyrie and Shannon McCormick (Get Backers, Day 5) and Aaron Dismuke (Fullmetal Alchemist) as Ozma/Ozpin.

Created by the late Monty Oum (Red vs. Blue), RWBY is one of Rooster Teeth’s most beloved, viewed and shared series. As the first western-produced anime series to be distributed in Japan, RWBY episodes have averaged more than 7 million views, and the franchise has accumulated over 275 million views since its inception. To date, the series has sold nearly 680k units sold on DVD and Blu-ray, and registered consumer products sales in excess of $20 million. RWBY has a fervent fanbase in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan

RWBY Volume 8

Episodes

  1. Divide
  1. Refuge
  2. Strings
  3. Fault
  4. Amity
  5. Midnight
  6. War
  7. Dark
  8. Witch (RWBY series’ 100th episode)
  9. Ultimatum
  10. Risk
  11. Creation
  12. Worthy
  13. The Final Word

RWBY-Volume 8Special Features

Blu-ray and Digital

RWBY at RTX (Panel)RWBY talent takes the stage at RTX for an in-depth chat between showrunner Kerry Shawcross, co-creator and writer Miles Luna, writing supervisor Eddy Rivas, lead producer Laura Yates, Lindsay Jones (voice of Ruby Rose), Barbara Dunkelman (voice of Yang Xiao Long), Kara Eberle (voice of Weiss Schnee) and Arryn Zech (voice of Blake Belladonna).

RWBY at Sundance Film Festival (Panel) – Discussion amongst RWBY talent at the famed Sundance Film Festival. Featured panelists were showrunner Kerry Shawcross, co-creator and writer Miles Luna, Lindsay Jones (voice of Ruby Rose), Barbara Dunkelman (voice of Yang Xiao Long), Rooster Teeth co-founder Matt Hullum, co-head of Rooster Teeth Animation Joe Clary and moderator Julia Alexander, a reporter at the Verge, Internet Creators and Entertainment.

CRWBY Faces (video) – A fun behind-the-scenes look at more than 100 of the 150+ individuals responsible for the production of RWBY.

Talk CRWBY to Me (Podcast) – A popular RWBY podcast recorded during 2020 and hosted by showrunner Kerry Shawcross.

Grimm Campaign (a game of Dungeons and Dragons) – Set in the expansive world of Remnant, the RWBY Crew members embody Hunter & Huntress avatars to take on the terrifying forces of wild Grimm. Featuring Eddy Rivas as Headmaster, Chad James as Asher Mora, Kerry Shawcross as Pyke Rite, Laura Yates as Arrastra Skye, and Chris Kokkinos as Fenix Nemean.

Audio Commentary – Showrunner, directors and writers discuss all 14 episodes.

  • “Divide” – Showrunner/director Kerry Shawcross and writer Kiersi Burkhart
  • “Refuge” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Paula Decanini and writer Miles Luna
  • “Strings” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Dustin Matthews and writer Kiersi Burkhart
  • “Fault” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Connor Pickens and writer Eddy Rivas
  • “Amity” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Paula Decanini and writer Miles Luna
  • “Midnight” – Showrunner/director/writer Kerry Shawcross and writers Kiersi Burkhart, Eddy Rivas & Miles Luna
  • “War” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Connor Pickens and writers Kiersi Burkhart & Miles Luna
  • “Dark” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Dustin Matthews and writer Miles Luna
  • “Witch” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Paula Decanini and writer Eddy Rivas
  • “Ultimatum” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Connor Pickens and writers Kiersi Burkhart & Miles Luna
  • “Risk” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Paula Decanini and writers Kiersi Burkhart, Eddy Rivas & Miles Luna
  • “Creation” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Dustin Matthews and writer Eddy Rivas
  • “Worthy” – Showrunner Kerry Shawcross, director Connor Pickens and writers Kiersi Burkhart, Eddy Rivas & Miles Luna
  • “The Final Word” – Co-creator & writer Miles Luna, director Kerry Shawcross and writer Kiersi Burkhart

BASICS

Street Date: November 23, 2021

Blu-ray: $24.98 SRP USA, $29.98 Canada

Languages: English

Subtitles: English & French

REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
0

REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

It’s interesting to note that the two Marvel Cinematic Movies of the fall are the ones that hew furthest away from the source material. In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, out now in both streaming and disc, it makes the most sense because the original Master of Kung-Fu comic was very much a product of its time. Capitalizing on the kung fu craze of the early 1970s, it also melded the comic with Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, the epitome of the Yellow Menace, a pulp magazine staple.

But, boiled down, the story is about fathers and sons and legacy, a solid framework that writers Dave Callaham, Andrew Lanham developed with co-writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton. While jettisoning the stereotypes, we have instead Xu Wenwu (Tony Keung), a near-immortal being who has amassed power and wealth across the centuries but doesn’t find happiness until he met Li (Fala Chen). What he comes to learn is that she hails from a hidden civilization, protecting the world from a deadly dragon, walled within a mountain.

At one point, Wenwu’s enemies come calling and kill Li as she protects her children, Shang-Chi and Xialing. The grieving man sends Xialing away to be raised apart while he trains Shang to become his successor. When the adult (Simu Liu) objects, he is given a decade to find himself. He drifts, taking the name Shaun, and coasts along, parking cars in San Francisco with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). Of course, time’s up and dad summons son and daughter home. He must find the dragon and free it, for it is, he believes, keeping his wife from him.

There’s a lot of pain and emotional heft here, more than in some of the other MCU offerings. It’s also about coming to terms with great power and great responsibility which seems woven into the DNA of every Marvel hero.

There are terrific set pieces along the way, with plenty of martial arts mayhem that honors the best of the Asian filmmaking tradition. We, of course, get to the village where a lot of backstory is filled in by Shang and Xialing’s aunt Ying Nan (Michelle Yeoh).

For comic relief, we get the welcome return of Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), the faux-Mandarin and Shang’s opponent Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) is on hand as a leader of the storied Ten Rings, which has been in the background of the films dating back to 2008’s Iron Man.

The final battle is of course a little drawn out but exciting and things resolve nicely with some solid human moments, Shang and Katy’s final time as mere civilians before Wong (Benedict Wong) retrieves them to fully insert them into the Marvel mainstream.

The film is very entertaining and its cultural roots help it stand apart from its brethren. It’s far from groundbreaking as a superhero origin tale, but nicely shines light on a new corner of the MCU.

The movie is out in streaming, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray so you have your pick of formats. The 4K streaming is sharp and crisp, retaining the color palette and shadows without a glitch. The disc has a fine DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack or Dolby Atmos and both sound strong.

The Special Features are nothing out of the ordinary and they include The Costumes of Shang-Chi (1:31); Building a Legacy (8:53); Family Ties (7:28); Gag Reel (2:10); and best of all, Deleted Scenes (14:23). There are two notable moments that make Razor Fist an interesting character and one that fleshes out Xialing a little. Finally, there’s Audio Commentary from Cretton and Callaham where we learn the director has had a lifelong obsession with the Eagles’ “Hotel California”, hence its role in the film.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Streams Tuesday, On Disc Dec. 14
1

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Streams Tuesday, On Disc Dec. 14

SYNOPSIS
Tom Hardy returns as the lethal protector Venom, one of MARVEL’s greatest and most complex characters. In search of his next big story, journalist Eddie Brock lands an exclusive interview with convicted murderer and death row inmate Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who discovers Eddie’s secret and becomes the host for Carnage, a menacing and terrifying symbiote. Now, Eddie and Venom must get past their contentious relationship to defeat him. Directed by Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) with a story by Tom Hardy & Kelly Marcel and screenplay by Kelly Marcel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage also stars Michelle Williams and Naomie Harris as Shriek.

BONUS MATERIALS

4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY™, AND DIGITAL
• Outtakes & Bloopers
• 6 Deleted Scenes
• Eddie & Venom: The Odd Couple: What happens when two beings inhabit one body? A whole lot of chaos. Tom Hardy, Andy Serkis, and the team of filmmakers talk all things Eddie and Venom.
• Sick and Twisted Cletus Kasady: Imagining this iconic and psychotic comic book villain for screen with Woody Harrelson, director Andy Serkis, and the production team.
• Concept to Carnage: Trace the design and animation of Carnage from comic book image to screen symbiotic.
• Let There Be… Action: Go on the set and experience the action of how Venom: Let There Be Carnage takes shape. From concept to stage, from green screen to film screen, follow the making of the film and see the intense stunts that were captured.
• And more!

DVD
• Let There Be… Action: Go on the set and experience the action of how Venom: Let There Be Carnage takes shape. From concept to stage, from green screen to film screen, follow the making of the film and see the intense stunts that were captured.

CAST AND CREW
Directed By: Andy Serkis
Screenplay By: Kelly Marcel
Story By: Tom Hardy & Kelly Marcel
Producers: Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach, Amy Pascal, Kelly Marcel, Tom Hardy, Hutch Parker
Executive Producers: Barry Waldman, Jonathan Cavendish, Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham and Woody Harrelson

SPECS
Runtime: Approx. 97 minutes
Rating: PG-13: Intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references.
4K UHD: 2160p Ultra High Definition / 1.85:1 • Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French (Doublé au Québec), Spanish, English & French (Doublé au Québec) – Audio Description Tracks 5.1 Dolby Digital

Blu-ray™: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1 • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French (Doublé au Québec), Spanish, English & French (Doublé au Québec) – Audio Description Tracks 5.1 Dolby Digital
DVD: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen | Audio: English, French (Doublé au Québec), Spanish, English & French (Doublé au Québec) – Audio Description Tracks 5.1 Dolby Digital