Experience Luca Gudagnino’s outrageously twisted re-imagining of Dario Argento’s 1977 horror cult classic that has been called a “grim and glorious work of madness” (IndieWire, David Ehrlich) when Suspiria arrives on Digital January 15 and on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital) January 29 from Lionsgate. Starring Dakota Johnson, Oscar® winner and Golden Globe® nominee* Tilda Swinton (2007, Michael Clayton, *Best Supporting Actress; 2012, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama), Mia Goth, and Chloë Grace Moretz and featuring a mesmerizing haunting score by Thom Yorke, Guadagnino’s directorial follow-up to the Oscar®-winning Call Me by Your Name (Best Adapted Screenplay, 2017), written for the screen by David Kajganich, has received incredible critical praise with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman calling it a “lavishly cerebral high-end horror film” and a “divinely demonic spectacle of womanly power.” The Suspiria Blu-ray (plus digital) will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.99.
Young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Company, stunning the troupe’s famed choreographer, Madame Blanc, with her raw talent. When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, Olga, the previous lead, breaks down and accuses the company’s female directors of being witches. As rehearsals intensify for the ﬁnal performance of the company’s signature piece, Susie and Madame Blanc grow strangely close, suggesting that Susie’s purpose in the company goes beyond merely dancing. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist trying to uncover the company’s dark secrets enlists the help of another dancer, who probes the depths of the studio’s hidden underground chambers, where horriﬁc discoveries await.
BLU-RAY/DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
“The Making of Suspiria” Featurette
“The Secret Language of Dance” Featurette
“The Transformations of Suspiria” Featurette
Dakota Johnson Fifty Shades of Grey, The Social Network
Tilda Swinton Michael Clayton, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Deep End
Mia Goth A Cure for Wellness, Everest, The Survivalist
Chloë Grace Moretz The Equalizer, Carrie, Let Me In
Universal City, California, December 10, 2018 – Follow the gripping and captivating true story of the first manned mission to the moon in FIRST MAN, arriving on Digital and via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on January 8, 2019 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on January 22, 2019 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Hailed by critics as “the best movie of the year” (Collider) and “exhilarating” (Entertainment Weekly), FIRST MAN comes from acclaimed Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) and stars Ryan Gosling (La La Land, The Big Short) as Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy (“The Crown,” Breathe) as Janet Armstrong in the heroic and emotionally driven journey through a pivotal moment in the history of mPutting You In the Seat – Through the use of innovative technology, most of FIRST MAN was shot in-camera. Take an in-depth look behind the lens of this epic film.
Based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen and from visionary filmmaker Damien Chazelle, FIRST MAN is the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight. A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong’s perspective, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history. The critically acclaimed FIRST MAN comes from legendary executive producer Steven Spielberg (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Schindler’s List) alongside fellow executive producers Adam Merims (Baby Driver, Straight Outta Compton) and Josh Singer (The Post, Spotlight) with a screenplay by Singer allowing audiences to relive the historic achievement in human history that has never been told cinematically. Filled with outstanding performances from an all-star cast led by Gosling and Foy alongside an incredible roster of supporting talent including Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street, “Friday Night Lights”), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Mudbound), Corey Stoll (“The Strain,” “House of Cards”), Pablo Schreiber (Skyscraper, “Orange is the New Black”), Christopher Abbot (“The Sinner,” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), and Ciarán Hinds (“Game of Thrones,” Tinker Tailor Solider Spy), FIRST MAN “explodes with cinematic wonder” (Inverse).
4K UHD, BLU-RAY, DVD & DIGITAL BONUS FEATURES:
Shooting for the Moon – Take an intimate look at the production of FIRST MAN and the collaborative relationship between Director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling
Preparing to Launch – It’s difficult to believe that FIRST MAN is the first major feature film to tell the journey to Apollo 11. Hear from Director Damien Chazelle and his cast why now is the time to tell the story of this historic event.
Giant Leap in One Small Step – A heroic character study, FIRST MAN sheds light on all the hard working individuals that got us to the moon and back.
Mission Gone Wrong – Watch as Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone terribly wrong. Go behind the scenes to see how he trained to nail the landing, performing the majority of his own stunts.
Recreating the Moon Landing – Filmed in IMAX to show the vastness of the moon, find out all that it took to recreate the most famous moment in NASA history.
Shooting at NASA – Hear from Ryan Gosling and Director Damien Chazelle on how shooting at NASA brought unparalleled authenticity to FIRST MAN.
Astronaut Training – Go behind the scenes of the three day boot camp each of the actors underwent prior to filming FIRST MAN.
Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross
FIRST MAN will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayTM, Blu-rayTM and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-rayTM version, all in stunning 4K resolution.
4K Ultra HD is the ultimate movie watching experience. 4K Ultra HD features the combination of 4K resolution for four times sharper picture than HD and the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR), with immersive audio delivering a multidimensional sound experience.
Blu-rayTM unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.
MOVIES ANYWHERE is the digital app that simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-rayTM and DVD disc packages from participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere. MOVIES ANYWHERE is only available in the United States.
FILMMAKERS: Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Christopher Abbot, Ciarán Hinds Casting By: Francine Maisler CSA Music By: Justin Hurwitz Costume Design: Mary Zophres Film Editor: Tom Cross ACE Production Design: Nathan Crowley Director of Photography: Linus Sandgren FSF Executive Producers: Steven Spielberg, Adam Merims, Josh Singer Produced By: Wyck Godfrey p.g.a, Marty Bowen p.g.a, Isaac Klausner, Damien Chazelle Based on the Book By: James R. Hansen Screenplay By: Josh Singer Directed By: Damien Chazelle
TECHNICAL INFORMATION 4K ULTRA HD:
Street Date: January 22, 2019 Selection Number: 61201572 (US) / 61201574 (CDN) Layers: BD-100 Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 16:9 2.40:1 Rating: PG -13 for some t
hematic content involving peril, and brief strong language
Video: 2160p UHD Dolby Vision/HDR 10 Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles Sound: English Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
DOLBY VISION: FIRST MAN 4K Ultra HD is available in Dolby Vision™. Leveraging the HDR innovation that powers Dolby’s most advanced cinemas around the world, Dolby Vision transforms the TV experience in the home by delivering greater brightness and contrast, as well as a fuller palette of rich colors.
DOLBY ATMOS® SOUNDTRACK FIRST MAN Blu-ray™ and 4K Ultra HD will feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and a
dditional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar.
TECHNICAL INFORMATION BLU-RAY:
Street Date: January 22, 2019 Selection Number: 61193705 (US) / 61193827 (CDN) Layers: BD-50 Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 16:9 2.40:1 Rating: PG -13 for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles Sound: English Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
TECHNICAL INFORMATION DVD: Street Date: January 22, 2019 Selection Number: 61193704 (US) / 61193826 (CDN) Layers: DVD 9 Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 16:9 2.39:1 Rating: PG -13 for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles Sound: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
I have to admit this: I’d never read Beanworld until now. Maybe you’re the same: I obviously can’t judge, if so.
Larry Marder’s Beanworld has been around since 1984, perhaps the quintessential quirky comics series, lauded and awarded regularly and loved by lots of comics creators but looking really, really weird to a general comics-reading audience. It’s the kind of book I expect to like — and, not to bury the lede, but I did, once I finally got to it.
Beanworld Omnibus, Vol. 1 collects the twenty-one issues of Beanworld‘s original run, from 1984 through 1993, when Marder took a full-time job running Image Comics. (I gather that there are new Beanworld stories since 2007, when Marder left Image, and I’m now trying to figure out where to pick them up. There is not an Omnibus, Vol. 2 yet, sadly, and I’m trying to figure out how this Omnibus lines up with the smaller collections.)
Beanworld was unlike any other comics on the racks in 1984, and there’s very little like it even now. It’s fiction, with a slant towards metaphor or allegory, and no obvious relationship to any of the genres dominant in any part of American cartooning up to that point (superheroes, westerns, horror, romances, or the strip staples of gag-a-day, soap opera, and adventure). Instead, Beanworld is about an entirely separate world with its own complex rules and systems, and the story of the comic is how the inhabitants of that world work through those rules and systems, interact, and live together.
There is conflict, in the sense that different characters want and need different things, and some are thoughtless or selfish or just trouble-makers. But there are no villains, no one that needs to be defeated. There is a hero, though — that’s Mr. Spook, the guy in the center of the cover with the fork. Being the hero doesn’t mean he’s always right, or even the center of the stories: just that his role is to be the strong, assertive leader of his people when strong, assertive leadership is needed.
Since Beanworld is the story of a world, let’s take a look at it — this image shows the immediate surroundings. (There’s a wider world further away, which will come into the stories eventually. But we start here.)
The Beans live on an island, in the shade of Gran’Ma’Pa, a tree-like living thing that is their ancestor and provider and center of their lives. That island floats above a sea, topped with water. Under the water are first The Four Realities, containing four different basic items — slats, hoops, twinks, and chips — that can be combined to make useful tools by someone with the skill and knowledge to do so. Below that is another community, the Hoi Polloi.
The Beans and the Hoi Polloi are dependent on each other: the Hoi Polloi need the “sprout-butts” that the Beans bring, and the Beans need the “chow” that the Hoi Polloi break the sprout-butts down into. But, even though Beanworld is something like an ecological fable, there’s not going to be a peaceful, happy, let’s-all-sing-Kumbaya solution: Marder has set up this world so that the Beans need to fight for the chow every time. It all works — and he spends time as these stories goes on examining various ways it could work better or worse — but it doesn’t work in a simplistic, “nice” way. It’s complicated and competitive, like life itself.
All of the aspects of the Beans’ lives are like that: superficial simplicity over deep complexity. Not just anyone can combine the building blocks of The Four Realities: that’s another specific role among the Beans, like Mr. Spook is the hero. Their tool-maker is Professor Garbanzo. And we see other specific Beans “break out” to be something more particular in these stories, with a particular focus on Beanish, their first artist.
Beanworld is not a formal allegory: it doesn’t line up to anything else. But it is deeply metaphorical in its use of simplified characters and objects, telling a widely applicable story that is both entirely its quirky specific self and parallel to a thousand things in our real world. The tag line since 1984 has been “a most peculiar comic book experience,” and that’s very apt — but “peculiar” doesn’t express how smart and deep and thoughtful Beanworld is. Marder’s drawings look simple, but they’re very precise, just like his writing. Beanworld is a comic with vast depths, simple enough on the surface for readers as young as grade school but implying and suggesting vastly more for those with more experience.
You probably shouldn’t wait as long as I did to read it. That was not my smartest idea. But the great thing about a good book is that now is always the right time to read it. And now is a great time to read Beanworld.
There are days when I think that Evan Dorkin exists so I can be regularly reminded that I’m not the most cynical, negative person in the world. But most days I manage not to be that solipsistic.
Dorkin is probably the most cynical, negative person in comics — I could remove the “probably” if I limited that to creators. (Otherwise he’d be fighting with Gary Groth for the throne, and who wants that?)
He’s best-known for creating Milk and Cheese, the reductio ad absurdum of ’90s hyper-violent comics heroes, but he’s done a lot of other work over the years, starting with his early Pirate Corp$! ska-fuled adventure stories in the ’80s and running through a lot of projects in comics and animation.
One of the spines of that long career has been his occasional (yearly, optimistically) solo comics series Dork, from the company that was once named Slave Labor. (And which I will keep calling that, since I am old.) Dork is a big new collection of the stories from the comic of the same name, leaving out stories already collected in Milk & Cheeseor The Eltingville Club and matching the format of those books. It’s large, almost album-sized, and has sturdy paper-over-boards covers and nice glossy paper.
So now Dorkin fans can have a trilogy of bile on their shelves, collecting pretty much all of his central work, which is nice for us. We can wish that he did more work over the years, was less obviously conflicted about working in comics at all, and that he made several more boatloads of money along the way, but those would be as futile as all of our wishes.
Dork starts off with a new two-page introduction (in comics format, of course), and then seems to reprint the eleven issues of comic Dork more-or-less chronologically, starting with the first “Murder Family” story from 1991 and running through about two hundred pages of black and white comics and then twenty-seven pages of color comics before hitting a final supplemental section of covers from the comics and previous collections, plus similar stuff. At some point, material from the 2012 one-shot House of Fun — which was not Dork #12 for some reason I didn’t know, then or now –is included as well, though there’s no way to know where unless you have those comics and pull them out to compare. It’s a lot of good comics, organized well to read, but there’s no explanation of where else any of this stuff originally appeared.
This is probably the complete Miscellaneous Dorkin to date, as far as I can tell. It’s definitely almost three hundred pages of comics full of bile and spleen, featuring all of the appearances of the devil puppet and those late ’90s stories that made us all worry whether Dorkin was OK or not. (He seems to have been about as OK as he could be, which can be good or bad, and is maybe somewhat more OK these days.)
The work is is very mixed: there’s a lot of very short gag strips, mostly organized into pages of “fun” with seven four-panel pseudo-strips, each with one (generally dumb) joke. Longer pieces include several “Murder Family” stories, his early “Fisher-Price Theatre” pieces, his work from the early-’90s book Generation Ecch (the Gen X version of today’s self-hating millennial websites), and a bunch of semi- or fully autobiographical stories, culminating in those ’90s pieces about what looks really close to a nervous breakdown.
Dorkin’s comedy is usually aggressive, about sex and violence and anger and fear and hatred, no matter what the length. Nothing is nice, and if Dorkin has ever been happy in his life, it doesn’t come out in this work. It’s also deliberately dumb humor a lot of the time: obvious jokes told in boundary-pushing ways. It is really funny a lot of the time, and regularly creepily true — his more ambitious longer stories are really powerful.
Since this collects work from twenty or more years, the reader can trace the evolution of his art: he started pretty “punky,” possibly self-taught, with lots of little lines and and a mania for details. His line has strengthened and simplified over the years — he got very precise starting in the late ’90s, and has kept that look since. I’ve said in the past that the early look was great for Milk and Cheese, but this book shows the real strength of his mature style: he definitely got better as he got more disciplined and worked on laying down that one right line.
All of the coloring here is provided by Sarah Dyer, who is also married to Dorkin. It is traditional here to use the word “long-suffering,” or to make a comment about Dorkin’s struggles with depression, but none of us really know anything about other people’s relationships, and doubly so when we’re experiencing someone else’s life through art. So I’ll just say she does good work, and it’s more obvious with Dorkin’s later work, where the cleaner lines give more space for the color to work well.
Dork is primarily for readers who are already fans of Dorkin, since it’s so miscellaneous. Most people would be better off starting with The Eltingville Club (if you have a love-hate relationship with comics) or Milk & Cheese (if you have a love-hate relationship with the entire world). But, if you like confessional cartooning and sick humor — maybe you’re a fan of Ivan Brunetti or R. Crumb, and haven’t encountered Dorkin yet — this could be a good place to dive in.
I don’t think anyone’s hired Kyle Baker to write screenplays for romantic comedies yet. But, from the evidence of books like Why I Hate Saturn and I Die at Midnight and this book, I think he’d be really good at it: he has a knack for screwball complications and the kind of dialogue that only tangles up a complicated situation more, no matter how much his characters try to be clear.
You Are Here is a romantic comedy with thriller elements, or maybe a comedy-thriller with romantic elements, published as an album-format graphic novel in 1999. It’s in what I think of as Baker’s “cinematic” style, with mostly wide panels over captions and dialogue and sound effects, looking like storyboards more than a traditional comic. His art is vibrant and full of color, with a painterly feel most of the time; I think it was mostly achieved through digital tools.
I have the sense that Baker’s work failed to hit its audience in this era, despite high-profile publications and some really good work. (I remember not-loving the “cinematic” format and Baker’s shift to glossier art and computer drawing tools art at the time; maybe that was part of it with the wider audience.)
But You Are Here is manic and zippy and fizzy and total goofball fun from beginning to end; it might not be old enough to be a “lost classic,” but it’s a damn good book that got very little attention, from a creator who I don’t think has ever gotten his due.
Noel Coleman is happy: he’s been living in bucolic splendor somewhere in upstate New York  with Helen Foster for the last year, blissfully in love and doing good work on his paintings. Unfortunately, he’s also lied entirely to Helen about his past, making himself out to be some kind of choirboy when he’s actually a longtime minor criminal who only recently went straight by painting scenes from various crimes and events he witnessed.
Now he needs to head south to the city to sell his apartment. If he does that, he can get rid of the last vestiges of his old life and return to Helen unencumbered and ready to completely live the lies he’s been telling her.
But she follows him. And a maniac killer, Vaughan Dreyfuss, is also after him: Dreyfuss killed his wife after finding out she was having an affair with Noel, and has now announced, on a live TV spot for his new bestselling book Yes I Did It and I’ll Kill Again, that Noel is next. And all of his old friends refuse to believe he’s gone straight. And the cops are no help with the Dreyfuss thing, because Noel is still sort-of wanted himself.
And so Noel is running frantically around New York City, trying to keep Helen from realizing he isn’t who he said he was, trying to keep away from Dreyfuss, trying to avoid as many of his old crime acquaintances as he can, and trying to just get back out of the city to peace and quiet.
That leads to nearly a hundred and fifty pages — big pages, with lots of action and activity and screwball dialogue and unlikely situations — of complication, before the inevitable collision of Noel, Helen, Dreyfuss, and Noel’s past. It all smashes up gloriously, and Baker spins out both a great confrontation/hostage scene with those core three characters, but a witty denouement after that, too.
Frankly, I think You Are Here is too big and too overstuffed to be turned into a movie, and the random nudity and violence of Noel’s lowlife NYC hangouts might be a problem as well, but it could be a glorious one if anyone ever did it right. Even if that never happens, it’s already a glorious romantic/thriller/comedy on the page. You might have missed it; a lot of people did. It’s worth looking for, these almost twenty years later. And, luckily for you, there’s a new edition, straight from Baker himself, just waiting for you.
 Upstate in the NYC sense — maybe Putnam county, maybe the Catskills, maybe the Hudson valley. Definitely no further north than Albany, which means not really “upstate” to anyone who lives there.
Chris Ryall, former Chief Creative Officer and Editor-In-Chief or IDW Publishing, is returning to the company as President, Publisher and Chief Creative Officer. Ryall, recently part of the editorial division at Skybound Entertainment, will be charged with ongoing creative expansion efforts within the company, as well as continuing to work closely with partners and licensors. Greg Goldstein will be stepping down as President and Publisher.
“Chris was a vital and valued member of the IDW team from nearly the beginning, so we are very excited that he is coming home,” said Howard Jonas, Chairman, IDW Media Holdings. “We are thrilled to have him rejoin our senior team to accelerate IDW Publishing’s growth and success. His creative talents and relationships within the industry are unmatched so we are confident that he will thrive in this new, expanded role. We are extremely grateful for the dedication and hard work that Greg put into the company, and I am confident that he will enjoy great success with his future endeavors.”
“I am incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished during my decade at IDW,” said Greg Goldstein. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to work with the entire IDW team and our creative and business partners. It’s been a great ride. Now I’m now looking forward to the next chapter of my career. It’s very exciting.”
Ryall originally joined IDW Publishing in 2004 as the company’s Editor-in-Chief. In 2010, he was named as the company’s first Chief Creative Officer. During his initial stint with the company, Ryall oversaw the acquisition of licensed titles such as Transformers, Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and dozens of others. He also served as editor on hundreds of titles and, alongside creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, helped develop the acclaimed, Eisner Award-winning Locke & Key, currently in development as a Netflix television series.
“IDW is where I’ve spent the majority of my career, and I consider the company and its employees like family so I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to return,” said Ryall. “I believe that IDW has very significant opportunities to become even more valuable and important and I am excited to further expand on what I started with the company nearly 15 years ago. I am also eager to help the company celebrate its 20th year anniversary in 2019 in varied and creatively invigorating new ways.”
Ryall will assume his new duties on December 10, bringing more than 14 years of proven success to IDW Publishing. As a writer, Ryall was nominated for an Eisner Award alongside artist Ashley Wood. Together, they co-created the property Zombies vs Robots, purchased by Sony Pictures. He is also the co-creator of Onyx (with Gabriel Rodriguez); The Hollows (with Sam Kieth); The Colonized (with Drew Moss); and Groom Lake (with Ben Templesmith); the co-author of Comic Books 101 (with Scott Tipton); and writer of licensed properties such as Stephen King and Joe Hill’s Throttle; Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show; Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, The Transformers; Mars Attacks, Rom, Kiss; and many other titles.
ComicMix has previously packeaged and published many books with IDW, including GrimJack, Jon Sable Freelance, EZ Street, Demons Of Sherwood, Hammer Of The Gods, White Viper, and The Pilgrim.
We congratulate Chris on returning to the fold, and salute Greg for his many years of service.
When it ran on CBS, Mission: Impossible had zero internal continuity. Missions came and went, agents were tortured, battered, and bruised and the next week they’d be hale and hardy, ready for the next assignment.
Since the film franchise began in 1996, the movies have gone in the opposite direction with film to film connectivity, just enough to show the films have consequence but work on their own so you don’t need one of DK Publishing’s patented guidebooks to understand what’s happening.
You’d almost think there was some grand plan and strategy ala Marvel for these films since everything builds to a head in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, out today on disc from Paramount Home Entertainment.
Recently, the first film, from director Brian DePalma has been making the rounds on cable and I was reminded of how much larger and richer the cast of agents were. Since then, there has been precious little mention made of operatives other than the core cast that seemingly winnows per film. There was the pre-credit nod to the past with Keri Russell in M: I III.
So, here we are again with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), the only holdovers from the beginning, with the addition of Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), who interestingly joined in M:I III. That’s it. The IMF apparently has faced attrition and budget cuts. Cruise and Director/Producer/Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie have stitched together elements from all the films to create a taut, suspenseful and ultimately very satisfying sixth installment in the series, which has yet to run out of steam.
We pick up with the remnants of Solomon Lane’s (Sean Harris) The Syndicate (a wink to the anonymous organization Jim Phelps battled almost weekly on television), The Apostles. They are searching for three plutonium cores and when the first gambit fails, are stuck with political shenanigans between the CIA in the form of Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) and the IMF, now championed by Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). With trust absent, she insists August Walker (Henry Cavill) work with Hunt’s team.
As they seek the cores, the encounter “The White Widow” (Vanessa Kirby), a black market arms dealer and the returning Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who finds herself allied with and in competition with Hunt. There are the usual death-defying car chases, running and jumping, and mass mayhem but leavened with some deadpan humor.
We see Hunt and Walker fight in the trailers so we’re not sure if the CIA shadow is a good guy or turncoat but his stiff, diffident performance pretty much gives things away. Cavill can be easy on the eyes, but he really needs to loosen up to remain interesting on screen.
Everything builds up to Lane threatening more than the world; he’s targeted Julia (Michelle Monaghan), Hunt’s one true love. The climax in Kashmir may be drawn out, but is pulse-pounding and emotional. The status quo has been modified for future installments and viewers will be fine with a repeated viewing at home.
The film is available in the usual formats including the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD package. As one would expect, the 2160p resolution displays a native 4K image in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, although there are exceptions with two opening sequences having been shot in a 1.90:1 IMAX ratio. Given the scenery, notably the Kashmir section, we are treated to fine detail, clarity, and sharpness, superior to the Blu-ray. The Dolby Atmos audio track is strong and pairs well with the 4K disc.
A glossy, full color booklet titled Stunts: Raiding the Bar is included inside the embossed case, featuring slight commentary regarding several key sequences.
The 4K disc comes with Audio Commentary: in three flavors: McQuarrie and Cruise, McQuarrie and Editor Eddie Hamilton, and Composer Lorne Balfe. As is increasingly common on 4K releases, we’re treated to an Isolated Score in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
The Blu-ray disc with the feature carries the same bonus features but then there’s a second Blu-ray disc with an additional hour’s worth of goodness. The majority of the disc is filled with the seven-part Behind the Fallout (53:32) which exhaustively covers the film’s development and production. Broken down, these include Light the Fuse (11:10), giving you an overview; Top of the World (10:48), all about the HALO jump sequence; The Big Swing: Deleted Scene Breakdown (3:44); Rendezvous in Paris (7:21); The Fall (5:57), all about how a man falls from a helicopter and lives to tell the tale; and The Hunt Is On (11:08), a spotlight on the helicopter chase; Cliffside Clash (4:02).
Rounding out the disc are Deleted Scenes Montage (3:41), complete with optional commentary by McQuarrie and Hamilton; Foot Chase Musical Breakdown (4:50); The Ultimate Mission (2:51), Cruise on his love of the series; Storyboards, and the Theatrical Trailer (2:33).
Straight from Monday Night Football, it’s the newest trailer for Captain Marvel!
Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel” is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.
In case you missed it, Aquaman opens December 21 and the early buzz is good. This will be his solo feature film, but he took front and center in 2015’s animated feature, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, loosely based on the story arc that ran in Justice League and Aquaman, back when Geoff Johns was writing both series.
We reviewed the release back then and found Heath Corson’s script adaptation to be lacking in heart, eschewing characterization over mindless action.
To capitalize on interest in the Sea King, Warner Home Entertainment has released a commemorative edition that includes the complete film and the original extras: Villains of the Deep (12:00), Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep (30:00), Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence (4:00), and the 2014 NY Comic-Con Panel (27:00). Rounding things out, DC Comics Vault (83 minutes) offers up four episodes: “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!” and “Evil Under the Sea!” from Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Menace of the Black Manta and The Rampaging Reptile-Man” from the 1967-70 Aquaman series, and “Far from Home” from Justice League Unlimited.
The film is out as a 4k Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD combo pack. The Blu-ray is virtually identical to the original release with one addition. The 4K transfer makes everything very crisp, capturing the colors nicely.
New to the release is Aquaman: The New King (15:00) where Corson and DC All Access host Hector Navarro gush about the hero. While they’re supported by voice actors Sam Witwer and Matt Lanter, it would have been nice for someone who actually worked on the comics to participate and help explain his place in the DC Universe. Apparently, the speakers were only familiar with more recent fare such as Peter David’s run and Alex Ross’ classic depictions.
Is it worth getting for 15 minutes of talking heads? Only if you don’t already own it and love all things under the sea.
Even in a comics superhero continuity entirely controlled by one creative team and contained in one series of stories, there can be retcons and changes. And sometimes you don’t notice them unless you’re specifically looking for them.
Take Strong Female Protagonist by writer Brennan Lee Mulligan and artist Molly Ostertag, originally a webcomic, which has been collected into two big books so far. When I read the first book
a few years back, here’s how I described this universe’s White Event:
a worldwide band of thunderstorms hit, impossibly, about a decade ago — soon after 9/11 — and in their wake a whole lot of tweens and young teenagers suddenly had superpowers and strange transformations, all over the world. No one knows if there’s a cause-and-effect relationship there, or which way it would run. But some nations now have gods, and some presumably have very scary government enforcers, and some probably have unstoppable criminals. In the US, we got superheroes and a comic-booky strain of supervillains, who appear to have all gone in for the world-domination racket.
But in Book Two, there’s some throwaway dialogue about all of the affected kids all having been in utero at the time of the event, which either means I badly misunderstood the first book, or there was a different, much earlier event that actually created all the super-people.
This doesn’t actually matter to the story, obviously. But I’m fascinated by the change, and the impulse to change something (or clarify it) that is so unimportant. In both cases, something happened, inexplicable and worldwide, and a bunch of people in a very tight age cohort get superpowers — none of that changed.
I do wonder why having all of the superfolks be precisely the same age is so central — it’s not like they’re all in college together now. I suppose the point was to have this group be the first superpowered people, and to have there be a bunch of them, worldwide. This is a Wild Cards-style superhero universe, without the obvious single-point event causing it. A thing happened, and then a whole bunch of people manifested powers at puberty — some became heroes, some villains, some just hid, and some did other things.
Allison Green was one of the heroes, the high-powered brick Mega Girl, conscripted by the US government and assigned to a super-team for the duration of her adolescence. But now the supervillains have been defeated and the government regulations seem to have switched to “keep track of” rather than “use as strike force,” so now she’s retired, just one more, slightly older than usual, sophomore at NYC’s super-liberal New School. 
This book collects Chapters 5 and 6 of Allison’s story, which are as much about what it’s right for superpeople to do — through arguments, discussions, and some strong-arming of a reluctant superperson — as it is about the things they do. Chapter 5 in particular is a #MeToo story…except that I’m pretty sure those comics originally appeared online starting in 2014 or so, well before that hit the media and became a hashtag. (That’s because sexual abuse, and toxic masculinity, was not actually a new thing then — it’s just when a wider world started paying attention and decided it was important now.)
Since this is a superhero story, the initial hook is violence: someone is killing men who have been accused of sexual assault or rape and then been acquitted in court or otherwise “gotten off.” And Allison soon gets connected to the mysterious killer, when one of the victims is the potential creeper she saved a drunk girl at a party from (and saw it all blow up in a shaky YouTube video, of course). It gets a whole lot more complicated than that quickly, with Alison’s new mentor/partner/friend/independent-study-professor Lisa (aka the tinkerer Paladin) and the break-up of her old superhero team the Guardians and her suspicion that this new killer is her old teammate Mary, aka the invisible superheroine Moonshadow.
In the end, there is superhero violence and long conversations about the right thing to do — but much more of the latter than the former, as usual.
And those discussions lead into the ones in Chapter Six, in which Allison butts heads with a new philosophy professor who pushes all of her buttons. And dates a boy briefly who turns out to be a massively entitled rich asshole…and more than that. And attends a conference run by her old teammate Brad/Sonar for the “biodynamic” folks who don’t look like humans anymore. And a few other things, including finding a new life for her old friend Feral.
Strong Female Protagonist is very much the story of a young person, deeply concerned about meaning and justice and what should be and what’s meant to be. Allison is passionately committed to doing the things she was put on Earth to do, but not as clear about what those are. There’s no sign that she’s thought about the possibility that there is no teleology for humans. But she’s young: she’ll have plenty of time to figure out that life is pointless and painful and random and horrible.
 Which used to, and maybe still does, have an official name that continues “…for Social Research,” if you’re wondering what I mean by super-liberal.