Author: Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger is best known to comics fans as the editor of Who's Who In The DC Universe, Suicide Squad, and Doom Patrol. He's written and edited several Star Trek novels and is the author of The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. He's known for his work as an editor for Comics Scene, Starlog, and Weekly World News, as well as holding executive positions at both Marvel Comics and DC Comics.
REVIEW: Tin Man
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REVIEW: Tin Man

Tin Man
By Justin Madson
Amulet Books, 224 pages, $17.99/$29.99

As coming of age graphic novel go, Tin Man is above average, a fine story of some other version of Earth with a young teen struggling to find his place in the world after the death of his grandmother. His older sister, Solar, has less time for him now that she has an, ugh, boyfriend, who happens to be a jerk. So, Fenn is left to tinker in the garage, hoping to complete a rocket ship and visit space.

While scavenging for spare parts at a junkyard, he meets up with Campbell, a tin woodsman who thinks there is more to life than merely chopping down trees in the forest. They become friends and the adventure takes off.

The book description calls it “equal parts The Iron GiantThe Wizard of OzEdward Scissorhands, and Freaks and Geeks” but it is heavily layered with Oz elements, making it very much an alternate reality from L. Frank Baum’s world. And it doesn’t need to be. In fact, all the reimagining of Oz, the wizard, the witches, etc., are actually distracting. Madson seems almost afraid to create his own story, relying on the Oz tropes to get him through, get him noticed. 

The story of friendship, wanderlust, and growing up is perfectly fine although we’ve seen all these elements before. Madson’s strength is in making us feel for Fenn, Solar, and Campbell. The sibling relationship is one of the freshest aspects of the book as is the family’s easy acceptance of a mechanical being, accepting the other.

Madson’s artwork and color is effective and his dialogue smooth. The book is fine YA addition to the GN library and might get some to go back and sample Baum’s original work.  

REVIEW: Uncharted
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REVIEW: Uncharted

Tom Holland has proven a charming actor, capable of poignancy, humor, and super-heroic action. Stretching beyond his work as Spider-Man, he detoured into an adaptation of the Uncharted video game, coming off more as a cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond than an original character, which is not at all his fault. He is an appealing performer and you want to root for him to succeed.

The PS3 game this is based on works fine as a video game and its sequels (or so I’m told, I don’t have time for video games) but the simplified storytelling conventions for a video game need to be expanded and evolved for filmed entertainment. Here, screenwriters Rafe Lee Judkins, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway (working from a story by Judkins, Jon Hanley Rosenberg, and Mark D. Walker) let the fine cast and their audience down.

Bartender cum thief Nathan Drake (Holland) is recruited by Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to help locate a hidden treasure. A treasure that Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) thinks belongs to his family so you can see the conflict coming a mile away.

There are some lively set pieces that show Spider-Man prepared Holland for the stunt work and he sells the bits and pieces. Director Ruben Fleischer is just fine working with action as seen in his previous films, Zombieland and Gangster Squad but as seen with his two Venom films, doesn’t recognize storytelling weaknesses in the script, demanding better. He brings a visual flair without a tremendous amount of attention paid to characterization. As a result, the thrills are there but the emotional connection to the stakes and characters are absent.

Some credit for how effective the film is goes to producers Charles Roven, who made fine contributions to DC’s filmed heroes, and Avi Arad who got things rolling with 2000’s Spider-Man film.

This is a visually interesting film given all the locales, very much Bond-inspired. You can see why some are lobbying for him to be the next 007, although I suspect he’s too young and too pretty to fulfill Ian Fleming’s description.

Anyway, this is a passable evening’s entertainment and little more although it could have been.

Sony Home Entertainment has released this in the usual formats including the reliable Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo. The 1080 p transfer is just fine for home viewing, letting you see all the details, without annoying distractions. The

Uncharted Blu-ray, Audio Quality   4.5 of 5 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is up to the challenge, easily matching the visuals.

The film performed well enough at the box office although pre-Covid I suspect it would have been deemed a disappointing

, coming as it did a mere two months after Spider-Man: No Way Home. Holland’s coat tails may not be long enough yet.  This may explain why the special features are perfunctory.

We have Deleted & Extended Scenes (10:23); Never a Dull Moment: Stunts & Action (5:54); Becoming Nathan Drake (3:59); Audio Commentary: Director Ruben Fleischer; Villains, Backstabbers, & Accomplices (4:20); Charting the Course: On Set with Ruben Fleischer (4:28); The Buddy System (3:49); Big Action Breakdown: C-17 Globemaster (5:03): Music Video (1080p, 2:38): and the music video “No Mind” by Milkblood.

REVIEW: Heavy Metal
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REVIEW: Heavy Metal

Unsuspecting comic book readers raised on the EC-inspired black and white horror magazines from Warren Publishing had no idea what to make of Heavy Metal when it debuted on American newsstands in 1977. We came to understand it was a domestic version of France’s wildly successful Metal Hurlant, and introduced us to European talents and storytelling. It was mind-blowing.

The magazine’s success led to an animated feature, released in the summer of 1981, heralded by the beautiful Chris Achilléos promotional poster image

, introducing us to Taarna, who has become the magazine’s unofficial mascot and most recognizable figure.

The film, like the magazine, was a series of animated shorts, an anthology of science fiction, and fantasy, with heavy dollops of violence, nudity, and heavy metal music. And like the magazine, it was beautiful to look at and occasionally made sense.

It opened to mixed reviews and modest success, leading to the less enchanting Heavy Metal 2000. Both have been restored and re-released in a fine box set from Sony Home Entertainment.

For the record, the film consists of:

“Soft Landing” adapted by Dan O’Bannon (Blue Thunder) and Thomas Warkentin (Star Trek comic strip), from their own story. This leads into “Grimaldi”, continuing the tale.

“Harry Canyon” is adapted from Moebius’ The Long Tomorrow by Daniel Goldberg and Len Blum, with music from Blue Öyster Cult, Donald Fagen, Stevie Nicks, Journey, and Riggs.

Richard Corben’s classic “Den” is brought to life here and is one of the best looking segments of the film. John Candy is surprisingly good providing Den’s voice.

Bernie Wrightson’s “Captain Sternn” follows in an original story after the hero debuted in the magazine a year earlier. Young Eugene Levy voices Captain Lincoln F. Sternn and John Vernon is his Prosecutor.

“B-17” is an original from O’Bannon with music from Don Felder.

Angus McKie adapts his own “So Beautiful & So Dangerous” with vocal work from Candy, Levy, and Harold Ramis. Music here comes from Grand Funk Railroad, Cheap Trick, Nazareth, Fleder, Trust, and Sammy Hagar.

“Taarna” closes out the film, adapted from Moebius’ Arzach by Daniel Goldberg and Len Blum. This sword and sorcery/SF tale is accompanied by music from Black Sabbath and Devo.

The film is loosely connected by an orb called Loc-Nar (voiced by the stentorian Percy Rodriguez) and it sort of works as does the entire movie. The uneven quality is a result of multiple animation houses simultaneously working on the film and there’s even one sequence that was cut because of time constraints.

It’s a time capsule of story and music so worth a look in that regard. The magazine’s heyday was over within a few years of the film’s release and it wasn’t until two years ago it regained any notoriety thanks to new management. (Ful disclosure, CEO Matt Medney and I co-wrote a novel coming out in October.)

The film has been lovingly restored in both 4k Ultra HD and Blu-ray. The animation is crisp, the color palette subtle and bold where it needs to be. This is one of the better-animated transfers I have seen. Accompanied by the swell Dolby Atmos soundtrack, every electric guitar thrum and synthesizer is nicely balanced with the effects and dialogue.

The combo pack comes with Heavy Metal in both 4k and Blu-ray and just a Blu-ray of Heavy Metal 2000. The special features from the previous Blu-ray release remain intact with the addition of Heavy Metal: A Look Back (9:20) as producers Ivan Reitman and Norman Reedus, geek Kevin Smith, actress Ebony Jeanette, screenwriter Matthew Klickstein, and HM CEO Matthew Medney chat it up. The other features include: Heavy Metal: Feature Length Rough Cut (1:30:21); Deleted Scenes (8:42); and, Imagining Heavy Metal (35:39).

REVIEW: Spider-Man: No Way Home
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REVIEW: Spider-Man: No Way Home

What has made Peter Parker an enduring hero for the last sixty years is that he could be us. He is someone who has great highs and really low low, but strives to do right because that’s the way he was raised. As Peter he is bullied for being shy and withdrawn, for being smart, for not being popular. As Spider-Man, he is belittled, picked on, subjugated to immense criticism and faces impossible odds with regularity.

We root for him because he rarely gives up, always comes back for more, and always tries to make things right. When Peter’s (Tom Holland) secret identity was revealed in Spider-Man: Far from Home we knew this was going to be a new set of obstacles. Spider-Man: No Way Home opens with the world adjusting to the idea that this high school student is a super-hero or menace. We see its impact on him, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and his friends. The hunched shoulders as he strides in the school hallways shows just how much he hates this.

So, of course, he tries to make it right. And as we know from the comics, the Parker Luck will make sure it’s not an easy solution. From there, the movie, out now from Sony Home Entertainment, things grow increasingly complicated.

On the one hand, this is Peter’s journey, a possible final act for Holland as the webhead, and he makes a tough matter worse and in trying to fix it, things grow chaotic. There will be a price to pay for asking Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to make the world forget the secret. It first comes in the form of villains drawn from across the multiverse, which to these characters, is a new concept to reckon with. It then comes in the form of a tragic death. And finally, a novel sacrifice to restore the status quo. In this regard, the film is near-perfect in tracing his journey, and Holland sells it with every frame.

On the other hand, this builds on the worlds-shattering events from WandaVision and sets up May’s Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and as a chapter of Phase Four, it opens up an entirely new front to be explored in subsequent films and television series. We even get Easter egg hints at future Sony-produced films such as the now-shooting Kraven the Hunter.

Screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers manage to service both requirements for the Marvel juggernaut without making things feel bloated. With Jon Watts back for the third installment

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, his sure hand maintains order, making certain everyone has their moment or two, starting with Ned (Jacob Batalon), who is shown to have mystic potential, and MJ (Zendaya), who has come to embrace her boyfriend’s weird life.

What’s especially pleasing is how human the villains feel, and watching Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Elektro (Jamie Foxx), the Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) interact with one another and the teens is a pleasure.

Willem Dafoe’s tortured Harry Obsborn/Green Goblin was also a fine wild card in the mix.

And if super-villains are brought from the multiverse to Peter’s world

, so too can there be allies in the form of other Spider-Man, somewhat older (Tobey Maguire) and wiser (Andrew Garfield). The three interacting is a delight and we can sense the unique qualities each brought to their webbed roles. Nicely, each of them deals with leftover issues from their film series so you get triple closure for the price of one.

Should Holland never don the suit again, we are left satisfied. But, we’re also ready for the next chapter.

The movie is streaming or available on disc in the usual combo packs. The 1080p Blu-ray transfer is near-perfect, all the textures and colors pop nicely, either in the shadows, night, or daylight. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is equal to the visuals making this quite worth seeing on a home screen.

The disc boasts quite a bit of Special Features, some taking a victory lap after three films, others exploring the large cast of characters. Interestingly, there are no deleted scenes. We do the following: Bloopers & Gag Reel (4:01); Action Choreography Across the Multiverse (6:25); A Spectacular Spider-Journey with Tom Holland (6:16); Realities Collide, Spiders Unite (8:09); Graduation Day (7:07); Enter Strange (5:04); Weaving Jon Watts’ Web (7:18); Alternate Reality Easter Eggs (4:41); A Multiverse of Miscreants (6:38); A Meeting of the Spiders – Heroes Panel (7:23); The Sinister Summit – Villains Panel (8:44);  The Daily Bugle clips (4:15);  Stunt Scene Pre-Vis (3:35); and Theatrical Marketing Materials: Tom & Jacob Lie Detector (1:58), Tom’s Press Tour (1:03), and Georgia Promo (1:15).

REVIEW: American Underdog
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REVIEW: American Underdog

Okay, so why is ComicMix reviewing a football movie? Well, first of all, we’re a little more than just comics and secondly, it stars Captain Marvel himself, so there’s that.

Besides, it’s about a real-life hero, and who doesn’t love heroes?

Kurt Warner’s story is well worth exploring and the Lionsgate Home Entertainment release of last year’s American Underdog does a fine job recounting the story. For those unfamiliar, Warner was a star at Northern Iowa but spent four years unable to get signed by an NFL team. Finally, the Green Bay Packers signed but released him in 1994. He then played three seasons for the Iowa Barnstormers in the brief-lived Arena Football League before finally making it to the NFL with the St. Louis Rams. Once there, he led what has been dubbed the Greatest Show on Turn, culminating in winning Super Bowl XXXIV.

It’s a story about perseverance and support at home, in the form of his loving wife Brenda (Anna Paquin). Levi, at 41, is a little old to be convincing as a man half his age, but his enduring charm and charisma makes that easy to overlook. Together, they make a charming couple, and their scenes anchor the film’s emotional story. Brenda has a blind special needs son, Zach, and Hayden Zaller make a fine debut in the role.

Dennis Quaid, as Coach Dick Vermeil, leads a fine supporting cast that includes familiar faces such as Bruce McGill and Ser’Darius Blain. Best of all, Levi is reunited with his Chuck costar Adam Baldwin, who plays Warner’s college coach.

Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, better known for their Christian-themed movies, certainly are reverent here, avoiding some of the sport’s rougher edges. The film is inspired by All Things Possible by Kurt Warner with Michael Silver, and the screenplay comes from Friday Night Lights veterans Jon Erwin & David Aaron Cohen and Jon Gunn. They are supported by a strong score from Composer John Debney.

Make sure you watch all the credits since there’s some touching archival footage of Warner and Zach.

Available in Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD, the movie look strong with a fine 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, The high def transfer and rich color palette are nicely presented. The accompanying Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track works just fine.

The disc is packed with a fine assortment of Special Features, an above average collection including Audio Commentary from Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin and Producer Kevin Downes; “Inspired” (16:08), about the production; “Making the Cut” (13:45)

, about the editing; “A Coach’s Faith” (30:48), focuses on Vermeil and his biggest fan, Saturday Night Live’s Heidi Gardner; “New to the Scene: Hayden Zaller” (6:10); “Meet the Champion” (14:49), Warner himself speaks;  “Behind the Game” (8:13);  “American Underdog: Behind the Story” (3:39); and

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, Deleted Scenes (17:44), with and without director commentary.

REVIEW: The King’s Man

REVIEW: The King’s Man

Once upon a time, Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons produced a cheeky series called The Secret Service, which got turned into a fun film called Kingsman. While the comics remain fun reads, the film series has deteriorated when left entirely in Matthew Vaughn’s hands. He’s good filmmaker as witnessed by Kingsman and the underrated Stardust. But, the tone and satire of the spy genre that infused the comic is missing, especially from the prequel installment The King’s Man.

Out now from 20th Century Home Entertainment, the film failed to engage audiences when it was released during the holiday and has appeared on streaming and disc in rapid fashion. What this portends for the series remains classified.

Set in 1914

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, we get a sense of how the independent covert intelligence agency got started, born in the wake of tragedy. Orlando (Ralph Fiennes, Duke of Oxford watches helpless, as his wife Emily (NAME) is gunned down on a visit to a concentration camp in South Africa. He is left to raise his young son

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, honoring her dying wish that he never see war again. Raised in a rarified cocoon by manservant Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and nanny Polly (Gemma Arterton), Conrad (Harris Dickinson) craves to see the world and join the military.

In time, he discovers Orlando, Shola, and Polly have been covertly gathering intelligence as Europe moves toward The Great War, pitting cousins King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Tsar Nicholas (all Tom Hollander) against one another. Events propel father and son into action, testing their bonds as the world teeters on the edge of chaos.

There are definitely some fun moments such as the network of servants and household staff around the world that share information, feeding Polly (Arterton, who may be having the most fun), who synthesizes the information for Orlando. But they are overshadowed by the over-the-top antics of Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) and a collection of cardboard villains led by The Shepherd. a shadowy figure who is anything but menacing. (And sharp-eyed viewers will figure out his identity.) The notion that Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner) seduced Woodrow Wilson for the Shepherd to blackmail is an absurdity.

The action is fine as it is but doesn’t get the heart stirring. The characters are predictable and two-dimensional and newcomer Dickinson can’t keep up with the stellar cast, which also includes Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, and Daniel Brühl. Vaughn and co-writer Karl Gajdusek are at fault here. Vaughn’s direction is fine but not enough given the weak material he created.

The film is out in the usual formats including the sturdy Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo Pack. The 1080p transfer is perfectly fine for home viewing in 2.39:1. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is excellent.

There are a handful of perfunctory Special Features including Recreating the Trenches (2:17); A Generation Lost (11:22); Oxfords and Rogues (18:33); All the World’s a Stage (26:41); Instruments of War (17:01); Fortune Favors the Bold (11:46); and Long Live the Kingsman (4:11).

REVIEW: The 355

REVIEW: The 355

Students of history know that 355 was the code name assigned to a woman who spied on behalf of George Washington, during the war for independence. We never learned who she was and the digits have been immortalized in pop culture ever since. Most recently, it was appended to the female empowerment action film The 355

, out now on disc from Universal Home Entertainment.

The brainchild of star Jessica Chastain

, she pitched it to Simon Kingberg as they were shooting X-Men: Dark Phoenix and it should have been out in 2021, but you know, Covid-19. The movie is overall an entertaining enough experience but its overall laziness in design and execution makes it a lesser effort.

While it’s nice to see operatives from CIA, MI6, Germany’s BND, China’s Ministry of State Security, and Colombia’s National Intelligence Directorateavoid political considerations to band together, the film also takes a very cynical approach to their efforts. We have several members of these agencies betray their principles and oaths, endangering the entire world. The MacGuffin in this case is a hard drive containing a one-of-a-kind piece of software that can pierce any firewall and seize control of nuclear missiles, electric grids, etc.

We have CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Chastain) betrayed by her best friend and new lover, Nick (Sebastian Stan), which means the harddrive is in play. Mace crosses paths with German agent Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger) who are rivals who beat one another until they find common cause. NID’s Luis Rojas (Édgar Ramírez) seems to have taken for himself, which means psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) is sent into the field for the first time to retrieve it. When it goes into the wild, Mace recruits MI6’s Khadijah Adiyeme (Lupita Nyong’o), now out of the game, to aid her since she understands the enormity of the threat.

In time, they form bonds and kick ass. The MacGuffin continues to move from hand to hand, country to country until it is in Shanghai, up for auction which brings in Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan). Then things continue to unravel and go boom.

What’s missing here is a true sense of surprise. The agents are types, not characters, their dialogue and personality quirks perfunctory rather than refreshing. Kingberg cowrote this lackluster script with Theresa Rebeck and they seemed to be filling out a Bingo card.

Don’t get me wrong, the action is swell and the set pieces are well worth watching, with the leading ladies doing most of their own stunts, but after a while, it feels tired. Details are missing, questions at the end are left unanswered and the denouement is dissatisfying. Worst of all, they never connect the title to the team of women.

The film is out in the usual packages including the trusty Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD Combo Pack. The movies looks great, the 1080p transfer nicely capturing the colors and details. The lossless Dolby Digital audio track does a fine job capturing the explosions, dialogue, and score.

The film’s special features include two Deleted Scenes (6:19); Chasing Through Paris (4:57); Action That Hurts (5:26); Reconstructing Marrakesh (5:33); Chaos at the City of Dreams (3:50). Two VFX Breakdowns (2:12, 2:43).

REVIEW: The Mitchells vs. the Machines.

REVIEW: The Mitchells vs. the Machines.

Many worthy films for all audiences flew under the pop culture radar in 2021, released with some fanfare but overshadowed by current events. Take the animated Connected, for example. Announced by Sony for 2020, it briefly arrived in theaters in April before hitting Netflix under the name The Mitchells vs. the Machines.

Now available in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack, the film is well worth your time and attention. First of all, it’s funny and good for the entire family to enjoy together. Second, it has some fine messages underneath the frenetic pace and stuffed visuals.

Rick (Danny McBride) loves nature and is a bit of a technophobe, setting up a conflict with his daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson), who is about to attend film school. When their visions clash one more time, he cancels her flight and decides to pack the family into their old station wagon and drive across the country. His wife Linda (Maya Rudolph) and young son Aaron (Mike Rianda) don’t necessarily want to interrupt their lives but off they go.

As they ride the highway, the evil tech genius Mark Bowman (Eric André), having had his PAL (cute) AI declared obsolete, enacts his revenge by having the next generation of PAL programmed to capture all of mankind and launch them into space. Our heroic family narrowly avoids this and it’s up to them to save the world from technology gone wild.

On the macro level, we have the obvious save the world plot, but underneath it, Rick is trying to save not only his family but his relationship with his eldest. The film is stuffed with other characters with an impressive vocal cast with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen playing married neighbors, whose daughter Abbey (Charlyne Yi) is the object of Aaron’s adolescent desire; and a series of PALs, led by Olivia Colman, clearly having fun.

The animation is impressive as it blends the hand-drawn with CGI overlays, letting director/co-writer Mike Rianda pack plenty of action, comedy, and commentary.

The 1080p high-definition transfer is excellent

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, capturing all the colorful nonsense and keeping things crisp. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is fine but struggles to keep up in places.

The combo pack has delightfully creative liner notes worth a read. The disc contains not only the theatrical release but Katie’s Extended Cinematic Bonanza Cut! (1:52:48) adding about two minutes of extended/alternate scenes without the CGI enhancements. It also comes with an intro from Rianda.

Special Features include Dog Cop 7: The Final Chapter (8:24), Katie’s student film; Bonus Scenes! (25:18), a collection of deleted and extended scenes; Katie’s Cabinet of Forgotten Wonders (11:24): Katie-Vision!; Dumb Robots Trailer; The Original Mitchells Story Pitch; The Furby Scene – How? Why?; and Pal’s World; The Mitchells vs. The Machines: Or How a Group of Passionate Weirdos Made a Big Animated Movie (12:49); How To… : Audiences learn how to Make Sock Puppets (1:48) and Make Katie Face Cupcakes (1:56); and Audio Commentary: Director Mike Rianda, Visual Effects Supervisor Miks Lasker, Production Designer Lindsey Olivares

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, Co-Writer/Co-Director Jeff Rowe, Producer Kurt Albrecht, Head of Animation Alan Hawkins, and Head of Story Guillermo Martinez —with so many creators chatting, it’s a fun review of their ambitions and reflections.

REVIEW: Venom: Let there Be Carnage

REVIEW: Venom: Let there Be Carnage

After Spider-Man’s black suit was revealed to be an alien symbiote, I lost all interest. I have never cared about Venom or Carnage or their symbiote children. The viciousness and exaggerated fangs and tongue are relics of the 1990s that I wish would just go away.

I was not at all surprised Sony went ahead with a Venom movie, but what surprised me was that it received not only good word of mouth but enough box office to receive a sequel. Venom: Let there Be Carnage has the benefit of being mercifully short. As a buddy movie, with the buddies sharing one body, it has some nice lightweight moments that Eddie Brock/Venom (Tom Hardy) plays well enough.

But, when Brock interviews Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) on Death Row, things turn decidedly darker as the red-hued symbiote emerges. There’s mayhem and blood everywhere, but not much sympathy for the newer, deadlier villain. Any attempt at that, as he tracks down lover Shriek (Naomie Harris), fails to elicit any emotion. And poor Anne (Michelle Williams) can only watch with growing horror at the world that keeps knocking on her door.

Andy Serkis’s direction is perfectly adequate

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, using his CGI experience to get the most out of Venom and Carnage. But, the story, crafted by Hardy and Kelly Marcel, who went on to write the script, can’t sustain a tone to serve the story. The buddy stuff is entertaining enough but Carnage is under-developed and the romantic elements just feel tacked on. The heart and soul found in the Spider-Man movies, from which these technically spin from, is absent and lessons need to be learned before the Sony Spiderverse grows.

The tone doesn’t work and had they leaned into an out-and-out horror film, it would have been R-rated and perhaps more interesting. Instead, this mess ill-serves its cast and the characters. That the end credit sequence sends Venom to Peter Parker’s world, as seen currently in Spider-Man: No Way Home, is inevitable but disappointing.

The film is out now on disc: 4k, Blu-ray, and DVD combo packages with Digital HD codes. The Blu-ray was reviewed and the 1080p transfer is just fine. It captures the color palette and deep shadows just fine. This edition has a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack while the 4K Ultra HD also has Dolby Atmos. Everything sounds just fine on basic home audio equipment.

There is the usual assortment of Special Features including Let There Be…Action (7:20), Outtakes & Bloopers (3:22); Deleted Scenes (9:33); Eddie & Venom: The Odd Couple (10:18); Tangled Web: Easter Eggs (4:31); Sick and Twisted Cletus Kasady (5:36); A Fine Romance: Cletus & Shriek (5:02); Concept to Carnage (1080p

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, 4:23); Select Scene Previs: Ravencroft Breakout (2:15), San Quentin Carnage (4:10), and Show & Tell (2:23).

REVIEW: Copshop

REVIEW: Copshop

Thanks to the pandemic, many a good film winds up overlooked and underappreciated. Joe Carnahan’s Copshop is such an offering. Out now from Universal Home Entertainment, it boasts a well-constructed story using a solid cast, and set almost entirely in a Nevada police station.

It’s clear something’s amiss when Teddy Murretto (Vincent Grillo) pulls up in a police car riddled with bullets and sucker punches rookie cop Valerie Young (Alexis Louder), forcing her to arrest him. The why becomes clear when the intoxicated Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler) is also brought in. Viddick is there to kill Murretto, who has been informing the Feds about an assassination plot. Add in Huber (Ryan O’Nan) and Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss) as wild cards just to keep things interesting.

The ensuing chaos is loud

, brash, and inventive as the cops and criminals and innocents are all caught up in a cat and mouse game, with bullets flying and alliances appearing more mercurial than originally believed.

Carnahan, who made his name with Narc, Smokin’ Aces, and The A-Team so he knows how to handle action and memorable characters. Working with screenwriter Mark Williams (Ozark), there is a sense of fun brought to the mayhem, making for a satisfying filmgoing experience. The bad guys are far more than two-dimensional, adding a fine layer of meaning to the proceedings, their code versus the police rules.

Grillo and Butler are fine, but it’s The Tomorrow War’s Louder who shines her, as a by-the-book cop who has to sort out the mess and survive.

The film arrives in the traditional Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD code combo pack. The 1080p transfer in 2.39:1 is very crisp, retaining the interesting color palette, starting with the amber of the desert and including the red and blue hues of the police lights. The blacks are retained just as well. The DTS HD-MA 5.1 audio track is strong, given all the shooting and shouting.

Surprisingly, there are no Special Features to accompany the movie, not even its trailer. Given the fun experience in watching it, no doubt there would have been interesting Behind the Scenes stories to share.