Author: Robert Greenberger

REVIEW: Miss Bala

REVIEW: Miss Bala

In an era of female empowerment, Hollywood is looking far and wide in an attempt to create role models and franchises for proper exploitation. The most recent non-super-powered entry in this field is Miss Bala, a remake of the 2011 Mexican film of the same name, starring CW darling Gina Rodriguez.

We take a makeup artist everywoman and watch her routine, not entirely satisfying life get upended by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Along the way, she is terrified, betrayed, seduced, and ultimately woke. She goes from patsy to taking control of her destiny, finding the strength to do things she couldn’t imagine weeks earlier.

The problem with the film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, is that we don’t develop Gloria Fuentes as a character to care about beyond a few perfunctory scenes before things go sideways. When she and a girlfriend, Suzu (Cristina Rodlo), are at a nightclub, it happens to be the night members of the “Las Estrellas” gang attacks. Suzu goes missing and Gloria, who admits seeing the attackers’ faces, winds up in the hands of a corrupt police officer who turns her over to Lino (Ismael Cruz Córdova).

She s briefly in the hands of the DEA, using a civilian as a pawn to entrap Lino, but when things go wrong, disavow her, forcing Gloria to side with her captor. There’s a touch of Stockholm syndrome at work, a hint of sexual desire between Lino and Gloria, and a whole lot of things going boom.

Gloria, Lino, and all the other characters in this story are bland, boring, and two-dimensional. Any attempt to add complexity to the players falls flat. We should be rooting for Gloria to overcome her circumstances and come out on top, but we don’t believe the steps in the paint-by-numbers script from Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer. Hardwicke can get good performances from her cast as witnessed by Thirteen and even Twilight, but seems more intent on the action pieces than the characters.

Rodriguez is clearly a talented, appealing actress and it’s good to see her stretch beyond Jane the Virgin but was ill-served here.

The film is out from Sony Home Entertainment in a handful of formats. The standard DVD was reviewed and looks and sounds fine, although I’ve come to miss the sharper definition of the superior formats.

The DVD contains the usual assortment of special features including Audio Commentary from Hardwicke, Producer Jamie Marshall, and Associate Producer Shayda Frost. Then we get into the more perfunctory pieces including Gina: The Strength of a Woman (4:03), The Bigger the Bang (7:31), Making of Miss Bala (7:05), Wardrobe Tests with Commentary by Director Catherine Hardwicke (7:30), Action Rehearsal with Commentary by Director Catherine Hardwicke (4:59), Deleted & Extended Scenes (7:31).

REVIEW: Justice League vs. the Fatal Five

I have always been a big Legion of Super-Heroes fan and early on, designated Star Boy as my favorite Legionnaire. Maybe it’s because he was an underdog hero, but I’ve always liked him so was thrilled to see he would take center stage in the just-released Justice League vs. the Fatal Five. I admit to being a little less than thrilled they were going with the mentally unbalanced Star Boy as depicted in the Brad Meltzer run of Justice League. But, by pairing him with agoraphobic Jessica Cruz, I could understand the larger themes at work, I was fine with it.

I just wish their final product lived up to their intentions (and all the high-faulting hype seen on the bonus material). Instead, we get an over-stuffed, under-edited work that makes very little sense.

As best I understand it, Mano, Tharok, and the Persuader were going back in time to free the Emerald Empress and Validus from the sciencells on Oa in the 21st Century because apparently 31st Century prisons suck. To free the pair, they need to steal a time bubble from the Legion and Star Boy is brought along by mistake.

In the 21st century, Star Boy, without his meds, is considered a lunatic and assigned to Arkham Asylum for ten months. Meanwhile, the Fatal Three-fifths are seemingly trapped for a while until they get free then commit a lot of mayhem before leaving for Oa.

Said mayhem brings in the Justice League with trainee Miss Martian along for the experience, although so little background is given about her that if you weren’t familiar with Young Justice she’d be an anomaly. The League needs their Lantern, despite Jessica still struggling with the PTSD inflicted on her after witnessing her friends being gunned down two years earlier.

Seeing the villains on the news, Star Boy (or Thomas Kallor –why go from Thom to Thomas?) frees himself and finally begins making sense to the League.

What makes less sense is the villains making it to Oa with a coerced Jessica to breezily access the vast prison cells and free the final pieces of the puzzle. And of course, the Guardians of the Universe would allow the Empress to keep the powerful Eye of Ekron in the cell. When Salaak and Kilowog show up, they’re easily dispatched but apparently the devastating prison breakout doesn’t alert the all-powerful Guardians, who allow the Eye ro drain the Central Power Battery’s energy.

That doesn’t stop Jessica from finding her Green Lantern mojo which marks a nice turning point. I wish they left her ring as a snarky companion, ala the comics, along with Jessica’s early struggles at forming constructs but you get the idea.

They then threaten the Earth’s sun to end the age of heroes, creating a future without heroes to defeat them. The JL must make a desperate last stand to save the future and Earth and a few other things.

At least, that’s what I think the story is about. The fight scenes are too long and poorly choreographed (too often heroes stand around to get zapped). That said, there are some great lines of dialogue and nice character buts sprinkled throughout complete with a tear-inducing ultimate sacrifice and funeral scene. But it’s all too little to really make this, the 34th film from Warner Animation, truly enjoyable.

It’s certainly nice to see the JL Unlimited art style once more along with a cadre of familiar voice artists but this is disconnected from that series as well as the budding animated universe so this is ab odd stand-alone, produced and directed by Sam Liu, who has done better work. The script by Eric Carrasco, Jim Krieg, and Alan Burnet need a strong story editor’s hand.

The film is released in all the usual combo packs complete with the 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray/Digital HD edition. What already looks sharp o Blu-ray looks even brighter and sharper on the HDR10 disc. Technical fans will appreciate the improved colors, attention to detail and higher resolution. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is even better so you won’t miss the Dolby Atmos that usually accompanies these releases.

All the bonus features can only be found on the Blu-ray disc and they’re a fairly standard assortment. We begin with Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Bruce Timm, Director Sam Liu, and Screenwriters Jim Krieg & Eric Carrasco and they provide a lot of behind-the-scenes details.

There’s also A Sneak Peek at Batman: Hush (9:18) which lionizes a beautifully drawn but bloated serial that’s finally being adapted and Battling the Invisible Menace (8:05), which nicely addresses the mental health issues found in the film; Justice League vs. Fatal Five: Unity of Hero (15:11) pats DC on the back for being so diverse these days.

Packed into the disc as repeated Sneak Peeks for Justice League Dark (8:12) and Justice League vs. Teen Titans (11:31). From the DC Vault we get Legion of Super-Heroes, “Man of Tomorrow” (22:44) and Justice League Unlimited, “Far From Home” (22:57).

REVIEW: Apocalypse Taco

Apocalypse Taco
By Nathan Hale
128 pages, Amulet Books, $14.99

Nathan Hale is a popular, creative graphic novelist, bouncing between historic tales and original stories. This is the latter and while the theme of science gone wild is a good one, along with being responsible with your experiments, there is so much that doesn’t plausibly work that the fantastic elements fail to engage the imagination.

Let’s start with the fact that a high school production of Brigadoon is so far behind schedule a parent willingly remains with the entire crew to finish the sets in an overnight marathon (permission slips included). That’s irresponsible on the parent’s part as well as the school’s.

At 1:30 in the morning, she sends her 11-year-old twins Axl and Ivan out with Sid to go get the crew food. While out, things get weird. Strange creepy crawlies begin appearing out of nowhere and there’s a Taco Bear drive-thru where there previously wasn’t one.

Creatures, both vaguely familiar and terrifyingly unique, emerge and threaten the trio. Apparently, they are the only ones still unaffected by whatever is ailing their city and run screaming from point to point. It’s not until we’re halfway through the book that they meet multi-armed Wendy who finally explains what is happening.

We get flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks and there’s some interesting underlying issues emerging, but no way does a college kid have the ability to access tools to build the nanotechnology behind the grotesque threat, but being able to perform his experiments unchecked. There are ethical issues raised, which is good, and a distinct lack of smart decisions made by adults, which is a bad message in a middle school graphic novel.

There’s more running, screaming, transformations, and threats which Hale briskly paces, using a black, white, and tones of orange to create an interesting mood. But really, there’s not enough content here to sustain 128 pages. While there are some witty lines of dialogue, our trio of protagonists are fairly underdeveloped.

If you’re a fan of Hale, then try it. Otherwise, there are far better choices out there.

REVIEW: Bumblebee

REVIEW: Bumblebee

Allow me to state upfront that I have now nor ever have been a fan of the Transformers. When they arrived, my tastes ran in other directions. That said, I have done some behind-the-scenes work with the franchise a few times in my career so have a good working knowledge. I’ve also seen the first Michael Bay and bits of the subsequent ones, enough to know these also aren’t to my taste.

I was therefore ready to outright reject the first solo film, Bumblebee, but the trailers hooked me. That and the arrival of Hailee Steinfeld, who I have enjoyed since True Grit. As a result, the film, out now on disc from Paramount Home Entertainment, is far more enjoyable than imagined.

By making this about a girl and her robot, a tried and true formula dating back decades (was Gigantor the first?), the film is smaller, needing only so much backstory to be plausible. Set in the film universe, it’s set in the past and therefore acts as a prequel to the overstuffed films that have ground the series into rust.

We get glimpses of the Cybertron civil war, with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), the Autobot leader, ordering loyal B-127 (Dylan O’Brien) to seek safety on Earth. No sooner does he land than scared humans and vile Decipticons batter him, damaging his vocal synthesizer and sending him into hiding. That is, until he’s discovered by18-year-old Charlie Watson (Steinfeld). She’s emotionally damaged, having just lost her father, and they find one another in a series of charming scenes.

All that changes when Sector 7’s Jack Burns (John Cena) alerts the bad guys B-127 has been located, then the running, chasing, shooting, and exploding begins in earnest. By then, we’re emotionally invested in the pair and put up with the noise. At its core, the film is about people learning to find their voices and overcome adversity of all stripes, in order to stand tall and move forward. That’s a good message for the intended audience.

The film is out in a nice variety of formats including the 4K Ultra HD Combo and Blu-ray combo. The movie is said to have been shot at a resolution of 3.4K, and finished at 2K giving us a sharp, colorful, and detailed image. All the CGI looks particularly good in 4K. The Blu-ray 1080p transfer is equally good. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack provides an excellent companion to the visuals.

What’s lacking are excellent special features, delivering instead, the same old. We have

The best part of the package (both $k and Blu-ray) is the prequel mini-comic Sector 7 Adventures, which is nicely written and drawn and I wish the credits were provided although it was packaged by Avalanche Comics Entertainment, which produced a previous Transformers in-pack comic and know their stuff.

The special features include Sector 7 Archive: Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7 (0:50), Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome (9:19), a motion comic version of the ACE comic; Deleted and Extended Scenes (19:05) — Original Opening, Drive to Karate Class, Birthday Present, Car Wash and Beetle Breakdown, Charlie Drops Off Mona and Conan, Decepticons Inspect the Armory, Drive to Cliff, Sector 7, and Appliance War; Outtakes) — Burns Meets Bee, War Room, There’s a Door in My Way, Charlie in Trash, and Saved the World; Bee Vision: The Transformers Robots of Cybertron (3:56); Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen in five parts: The Story of Bumblebee (3:54), The Stars Align (7:04), Bumblebee Goes Back to G1 (10:02), Back to the Beetle (6:20), and California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane (19:57).

REVIEW: Aquaman

REVIEW: Aquaman

Aquaman is wet and wild fun while not entirely holding together as well as it should. The film, the sixth in the in the loosely-connected DC Extended Universe, continues the momentum started with Wonder Woman. Director James Wan certainly makes the undersea world come to vivid life although I wish he spent a little more time on the world-building and character interrelationships.

We pick up a year after his appearance in the disappointing Justice League and Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) continues to reject his fate as a hero. While he opens the film by stopping a sub full of pirates, including the man who will become Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), it seems an infrequent activity. He’s quickly back to drinking and bar fighting, hoping the world will leave him alone.

Instead, forces are at work to make certain that never happens.

While hanging out with dad, Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison), he’s under attack and Mera (Amber Heard), whose relationship with him is never clearly established her or in JL, shows up to explain Atlantis is readying to make war on the surface world and this was just the beginning.

His half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson), is scheming with Mera’s dad to either forge alliances with the various undersea kingdoms, or seize them, creating an unstoppable force.

Well, there’s one force: Arthur. He is convinced to claim his birthright and we get some lovely flashbacks about his origins so we see Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), an exiled queen, fall in love with the lonely lighthouse keeper until the day soldiers came crashing into their home to take her away. Young Arthur is trained by Vulko (Willem Dafoe), adviser to throne, and we watch his burgeoning telepathic command of sea life.

He challenges Orm, gets beaten, and goes on the run as the film shifts to a quest adventure to find the powerful trident of King Atlan, which will acknowledge his right to the throne. (Atlan was created by Peter David and Esteban Maroto for DC’s The Atlantis Chronicles which I edited and personally, couldn’t have been happier to see their names in the credits.)

While on the quest, the relationship between allies becomes something more, but they get interrupted by Black Manta, who is out for revenge since Arthur allowed his dad to die during the pre-credits sequence.

Everything builds to the all-out war between Aquaman and Meta versus Orm’s army. Lots of special effects, bombastic music, and special effects galore. Of course, once we reach the mid-point, the film stops surprising us and delivers every anticipated beat, robbing the film of being something above average.

The film is bloated but entertaining and with the backstory established, maybe the inevitable sequel (and unnecessary Trench spinoff) will go in fresh directions.

The movie is out in the usual assortment of packages, complete with retail exclusives. The Blu-ray combo was reviewed and the 1080p transfer looks sharp and brilliantly colorful. The aspect ratio is 2.40:1, with the IMAX-formatted scenes framed at 1.78:1. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is actually superior with TrueHD 7.1 in the mix. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is adequate.

One would think that with Aquaman a staple of television since his animated debut in 1967, there’d be some special features about the character and his comic book origins, but no such luck. Instead, its all about the movie, ranging from interesting to boring to perfunctory.

We open with Going Deep Into the World of Aquaman (19:00); Becoming Aquaman (13:00); James Wan: World Builder (8:00); Aqua Tech (6:00), Atlantis Warfare (5:00), The Dark Depths of Black Manta (7:00), Heroines of Atlantis (6:00), Villainous Training (6:00), Kingdoms of the Seven Seas (7:00), Creating Undersea Creatures (7:00), A Match Made in Atlantis (3:00), and finally, Scene Study Breakdowns (11:00). There’s also a Shazam! Sneak Peek (3:00), with a scene from the following film in the series.

REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

There is little doubt that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a fun movie, exceeding everyone’s expectations. It deserves its Oscar, its box office success, and its pioneering an animated path for Marvel to explore.

The film, out now on disc from Sony Home Entertainment, celebrates what it means to wear the suit. Everyone knows Peter Parker and his story so here, the masses are introduced to Mile Morales (Shameik Moore), who has been a part of the comics since 2011 and his world has been merged into the core Marvel Universe, making him a permanent addition.

We also meet other iterations of Spider-Man, each from a separate parallel universe, and these days the general public is fine with the concept of a multiverse. Writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman play with it, by having each of the main Spiders do a narration that emphasizes their variance from the well-known origin. In a nod to the film, Marvel had the messy and pointlessly bloated Spider-Geddon event that shows too much is never better.

Wisely, the film starts on Miles’ world, which is clearly not the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he gains his powers just in time for the Green Goblin to kill his world’s Peter Parker (Chris Pine). All of the hullabaloo is sparked because the Kingpin (Liev Shreiber) is using dangerous technology to access the multiverse to find a replacement Vanessa and Richard, having lost his wife and son in a car crash.

Miles, unsure of how to use his newfound abilities, is visited at Parker’s grave by the Peter B. Parker Jake Johnson) from a different world. Together, they agree Fisk has to be stopped, using the data on a damaged flash drive. As the story unfolds, we meet that world’s Doc Ock, Olivia Octavius (Kathryn Hahn), the Prowler (Mahershala Ali), and Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), the latter far more with it and supportive of her Peter’s heroic life.

The unlikely duo of young teen and overweight and far older adult is joined by Spider-Woman, a heroic Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), who controls the robotic SP//dr:. Here’s where the brilliantly colorful movie excels by rendering each of these characters in a unique style. Noir is merely in black and white, Ham is two-dimensional animation, and Peni is pure anime.  

There’s running, jumping, and fighting along with way too many things blowing up. The final third is pretty much pure action and if there’s any fault, the multiverse exploding threat is too over-the-top for these heroes, who deserve threats better scaled to who they are.

That said, the 117 minutes zip by with a strong score from Daniel Pemberton, and leaves us with a brand-new hero in Miles, who embraces the mantle he has inherited. By all means, stick through the credits for a hysterical nod to two more Spider-Men.

The film is available in numerous formats with retail exclusive editions at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Amazon. The standard Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD combo pack is the most common and offers up a superior high definition transfer. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is up to the noise made by characters bickering and things going boom. Word is the 4K Ultra HD version is even better, naturally. The 3D Blu-ray will be released separately on April 10.

There are some fine special features here, starting with a short feature, “Spider-Ham Caught in a Ham” (4:11), which is amusing enough but should have been funnier.

There’s an Audio Commentary — featuring directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman with producers Phil Lord, Christopher Miller — which details the four-year process of going from concept to finished film and the 800 technicians, artists, actors, and crew to make this CGI film a reality.

The most interesting option is to play the film in its Alternate Universe edition, which integrates deleted scenes, pencil tests, and more. You can see the creative process at work, which is a treat, and adds about 5 minutes to the run time.

Additionally, there are the usual behind the scenes features: We Are Spider-Man (7:51), Spider-Verse A New Dimension (5:09), The Ultimate Comic Cast (15:02), Designing Cinematic Comic Book Characters “Heroes and Hams” (7:45), Designing Cinematic Comic Book Characters “Scoundrels & Scorpions” (5:11), Spider-Verse Super Fan Easter Egg Challenge (5:02), and Sunflower music video by Post Malone & Swae Lee (3:00)

Fittingly, there is also a Tribute to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (8:34), both of whom we lost in 2018.

REVIEW: The Little Mermaid

REVIEW: The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid rekindled Walt Disney’s animation excellence, launching the current wave of films and fascination with the princesses. It remains a stunning piece of work, with excellent songs and vocal performances, that continues to hold up well with repeated viewings. Jodi Benson’s innocent, yearning Ariel is well matched by the scheming Pat Carroll as Ursula, one of the more frightening antagonists in the animated oeuvre.

For me, though, the film’s magical place in history is enhanced because it was the first film we took Kate to see. Snuggled between us, on a booster seat to see the screen, she was enchanted, eyes wide and riveted. I enjoyed it from a craft and entertainment standpoint, but she fell in love because of the Disney magic.

The 1989 release is out as part of their 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Signature Collection line (number eight in the set, collect ‘em all).

The well-known story is nicely adapted from the original Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. We have the sixteen-year-old mermaid wishing to experience a life of adventure, unaware of having to be careful for what one desires. After defying her father King Triton (Kenneth Mars), she discovers the shipwrecked Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes), and instantly falls in love. She makes a horrible deal with Ursula, who will grant her human form in exchange for her voice and we go from there.

Being a Disney film, there are several creature comrades, often the making or breaking of a film. Here, Sebastian the crab (Samuel E. Wright), Flounder (Jason Marin), and Scuttle (Buddy Hackett), more than fit the bill.

The Alan Menken and Howard Ashman score adds a dimension lacking in Disney animated fare going back to the last great musical, The Jungle Book. The music and songs are just a delight, with Caribbean themes and more traditional Broadway fare mixed in. The story actually follows the musical formula, complete with Bensons lovely ‘I want song’ “Part of your World’.

The Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD combo pack was reviewed and I can attest that the new high def transfer is superior to the Diamond Edition. The 4K is said to be even sharper, but the colors here just pop. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack, though, is the Diamond Edition version, very good, but could be better.

There are some new bonus features with older ones reserved for the digital edition. One such addition is the Sing-Along mode, perfect for sleepovers.

New Blu-ray features:

Alan Menken and the Leading Ladies (15:45) as Benson, Paige O’Hara (Belle), Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas’ singing voice), Lillias White (Muse), and Donna Murphy (Mother Gothel) share what working with Menken has been like.

“What I Want from You Is… Your Voice” (5:47): Watch Wright, Hackett, Carroll, and Benson rehearse their parts and later discuss their roles.

Stories from Walt’s Office: Gadgets and Gizmos (6:01): Apparently, Walt collected tchotchkes and we tour his preserved collection.

Repeated content:

#Treasuresuntold (5:40), “Part of Your World” Music Video (3:01), Deleted Character: Harold the Merman (2:05), Under the Scene: The Art of Live Action Reference (13:13), Howard’s Lecture (16:27), and Audio Commentary: Writers/Directors Ron Clements and John Musker and composer Alan Menken. Also available digitally.

Exclusive Digital Extra:

“Part of Your World” – A Look Back (5:50): Menken and Benson revisit “Part of Your World”, examining its impact beyond the film.

Digital-Only Content That Appeared on the Diamond Blu-ray Disc:

Fathoms Below – Alternate Version, Backstage with Sebastian, Advice from Sebastian, Fight with Ursula – Alternate Ending, The Little Mermaid – The Story Behind the Story, @Disney Animation, Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland, Storm Warning: The Little Mermaid Special Effects Unit, “Part of Your World”, Ride the Attraction, Under the Sea Early Presentation Reel, Disneypedia: Life Under the Sea, Kiss the Girl Music Video Performed by Ashley Tisdale, Original Theatrical Trailer “Les Poissons”, Sebastian Lost in the Castle, Behind “The Ride that Almost Was”, Prologue: Flower Street, “Silence is Golden” Song Demo, “Poor Unfortunate Souls” Extended, “Under the Sea”, “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, “Kiss the Girl”, Act I: Renaissance Men, Act II: A Symphony of Talent, Act III: Broadway Comes to Burbank:, Act IV: Setting Sail, and Act V: A Mermaid Sings.

Missing from the Diamond Edition: The Little Match Girl, John & Ron Make Caricatures of Each Other, Animators Comment on their Characters, The Little Mermaid Handshake.

REVIEW: Robin Hood

I understand the compulsion to find a fresh take on a classic tale. After all, you have the weight of literary history and beloved film adaptations to contend with, so a straight remake would be boring. But, when you tackle a Robin Hood tale, it has to be set in a plausible time and place, with characters that make sense.

The legend of Robin Hood dates back to the 13th or 14th century and in time grew in scope so it wasn’t just Robin versus the Sheriff of Nottingham, but came to encompass King John and the Crusades.

There are so many ballads and poems to draw from for inspiration that a nice, historically accurate film would have been welcome. Instead, Director Otto Bathurst and screenwriters Ben Chandler and David James Kelly went in entirely the other direction, creating a fantastical Medieval world that was visually stunning and entirely devoid of interest. Their Robin Hood took more than three years to realize and arrived with a thud, a critical and box office failure, The film, out now from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, is really not worth you time despite a fine cast.

We have Taron Egerton as Robin of Loxley and he can handle the action just fine but lacks the charisma of his predecessors. Playing the token Morgan Freeman role this time is Jamie Foxx as Little John, a staggeringly dumb concept. Better is Ben Mendelsohn as the villainous Sheriff and Paul Anderson as Guy of Gisborne. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Eve Hewson is wonderful as Maid Marion, enlivening a rather emotionally dull story.

Robin is pressed into serving his King during the Third Crusade and dislikes the violence inherent in the system only to return and find home has been corrupted. He has to swing into action to right wrongs and restore a sense of justice to the common folk. All well and good but the internal logic is faulty throughout and the production design suggests this is set on an alternate Earth where “Gatling” bows spit out arrows and the technology is way beyond that of the time period we know.

It’s all a lot of noise without a heart. Even an uncredited cameo from producer Leonardo DiCaprio can’t help this mess.

The movie is out in a variety of formats including the 4k Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital HD combo pack. Here the film’s 2160p transfer in 2.40:1 is superior to the content. Everything dazzles the eye thanks to the 8K source resolution, finished in 4K. This is stunning to watch, making the lack of content even more disappointing. The Blu-ray version is pretty nifty to watch, too.

Thankfully, the Dolby Atmos track is more than on a par with the visuals.

Given the lack of demand for this disc, they certainly spared effort on the special features. We get a bunch of Electronic Press Kit features and little else of note. There’s Outlaws and Auteurs: Reshaping Robin Hood (1:04:28); Outtakes (4:38), and Deleted Scenes (8:26), none of which would have made this a better film.

Win a Blu-ray Copy of Ralph Breaks the Internet

ome times, the sequel is better than the original. That seems to be the case with Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet.

You can determine that for yourself by winning as Blu-ray Combo Pack from our friends at Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

All you need to do is tell us what Ralph should break next and why.

All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Monday, February 18. The contest is open to North American readers only and the decision of the ComicMix judges will be final.

The combo pack will go on sale February 26.

BONUS FEATURES: *
 
Blu-ray & Digital:

  • How We Broke the Internet –Go behind the scenes at Walt Disney Animation Studios to get an in-depth look at how the filmmakers brought a world to life that billions of people visit every day but never actually see – the internet. Take a front-row seat as the team reveals the inspirations for the story and what it took to bring it to the screen. Discover all that went into developing the characters of the film including netizens like KnowsMore as well as characters like Double Dan. See the lengths the team took to create the car chase scenes in Slaughter Race and much, much more.
  • Surfing for Easter Eggs – Surf the web for the near-countless Easter Eggs, inside jokes and references hidden throughout the movie.
  • The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet – Take a look at the music of Ralph Breaks the Internet with appearances by Imagine Dragons, Julia Michaels, Alan Menken, Sarah Silverman and more.
  • Deleted Scenes – Five deleted scenes with intros from directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston. Scenes include Into the Internet, Opposites, Domestic Hell, Bubble of One & Recruiting “Grandma.”
  • BuzzzTube Cats – Many videos were created by the animators to fill the screens of the Internet world…and lots of them are of cats! Check out the BuzzzTube to watch this hilarious cat compilation.
  • Music Videos – “Zero” by Imagine Dragons and “In This Place” by Julia Michaels.

 Digital Exclusive:

  • Baby Drivers – Slaughter Racing School – Take a spin behind the wheel with the artists behind Ralph Breaks the Internet as they go to race car driving school.

DVD:

  • Music Videos – “Zero” by Imagine Dragons and “In This Place” by Julia Michaels.

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS:
Product SKUs:
Digital = 4K Ultra HD, HD, SD
Physical = 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray+Digital), Multi-Screen Edition (Blu-ray +DVD+Digital) and DVD

Feature Run Time:
Approximately 112 minutes
Rating:
PG in U.S., G in CE, and G in CF
Aspect Ratio:                              
16 x 9; 2.39

Audio:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish & French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital
Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish & French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital
DVD: English, Spanish & French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital
4K Ultra HD Digital: English Dolby Atmos (some platforms), English 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital
Digital HD:  English 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus (some platforms), English 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital
Digital SD:  English 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital

Languages/Subtitles:        
4K Ultra HD: English SDH, Spanish & French
Blu-ray: English SDH & ESL, Spanish & French; DVD: English SDH & ESL & Spanish
Digital: English SDH, French Canadian, Latin Spanish
Digital & DVD Captions: English

REVIEW: Overlord

You have to give J.J. Abrams credit. For the last eleven years, he’s been surprising audiences with films he manages to make under the radar and then unleashes them on an unsuspecting audience.

The most recent was November’s Overlord, which had trailers that lulled you into thinking Abrams was producing his first war film. But, after the soldiers are dropped into Nazi-occupied territory, the creepy stuff starts and then you know you’re in for a horror thriller.

Operation Overlord, of course, was the code name for D-Day, June 6, 1944, a turning point in World War II and ripe for exploration, or in this case, exploitation. Once director Julius Avery plops Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) behind enemy lines to disrupt the supply lines and mess with communications, things proceed apace. However, once they enter a church, things get creepy. Heinous activities have been happening beneath the holy structure, the kinds of things that would give even Dr. Josef Mengele nightmares.

The men gain help from a young local woman (Mathilde Ollivier) and they set to work to dismantle the experiments and complete their assigned mission. Of course, things go awry from here and Avery amps up the pace and the horrors begin. We shift from war to horror and there’s nary a let up

This is a pure horror film and there’s mayhem and gore aplenty, with a score to match the special effects, a concert of mayhem you don’t usually associate with a Bad Robot production.

The film, out this week from Paramount Home Entertainment, is an uneven production, marred by a tedious middle and nondescript characters so you don’t feel much for the leads. It’s really a throwback B film that has superior production values. If you like this sort of stuff, it’ll be a thrill ride. For the rest of us, it’s more meh than eek.

The film is out in a variety of formats including the newly regular 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital HD combo pack. The 4K disc certainly has sharper colors and depth, a noticeably superior image to the Blu-ray (which is an excellent 1080p transfer). For a film of this nature to work best, the audio track has to be superior and here, Paramount delivers a brilliant Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Note that the 4K disc comes with no extras but the Blu-ray contains a six-part behind-the-scenes The Horrors of War: Creation (11:04), Death Above (7:18), Death on the Ground (9:16), Death Below (6:25), Death No More (1080p, 12:19), and Brothers in Arms (5:03). There’s some interesting stuff in this 51-minute making of lore but it’s interesting there are no deleted scenes.