I contend the world changed more between 1875 and 1900 than any other quarter-century in recorded history. From Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to Thomas Edison’s phonograph and motion pictures, the masses were suddenly able to communi9cate and entertain in new ways. The world shrank and night was eliminated thanks to the light bulb.
It’s a fascinating period and one that has been overlooked until recently. First came, Graham Moore’s The Last Days of Night, a historical novel from 2016 that carefully detailed the battle between Edison and George Westinghouse for setting the electrical standard for America. Of course, alternating current won, but not without losses on both sides.
A year later, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon tackled the same subject matter in The Current War, pitting Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) against Westinghouse (Michael Shannon). In both stories as in history, the mad genius of Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), is a naïve innocent, trapped between sides.
Michael Mitnick made this story his life’s work, first as a musical then as a screenplay, going through sixty drafts, earning its way onto the infamous Black List of great, unproduced scripts. It slowly lurched towards production in 2016 and shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017 where it was met with distaste. Gomez-Rejon trimmed ten minutes and shot ten minutes that added depth to the main characters. Then the Weinstein Company disintegrated in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s exposure as a serial rapist. After the studio and its assets bounced around, the movie, now called The Current War The Director’s Cut, finally arrived last fall.
Out now in streaming and available on disc in May, the bottom line is: read the novel.
I don’t know who should get the blame, Mitnick or Gomez-Rejon, but the film never breathes. It’s a series of short scenes in a staccato style so we’re lurching from place to place, event to event, never really getting to know either man. What they share in common is that they love their wives, and when Mary Stillwell Edison (Tuppence Middleton) dies early on, we feel for Edison. But we don’t know the men, or Edison’s number two (Tom Holland) or financier J.P. Morgan (Matthew Mcfadyen), and why he backed the wrong industrialist. The most misused character s Tesla seen as a hapless immigrant, consistently taken advantage of. He is misplayed by Hoult and is robbed of Tesla’s mangled English, adding to his otherworldliness.
What should have been a riveting story about which man got to change the world, has been reduced to a disinteresting story that merely hints at what was.
The film was seen on MiviesAnywhere.com and its high definition stream carefully captures the subtle colors of the era, especially the night scenes. There’s a nice, crystal quality to the visual and the audio was just fine. No special features accompanied the digital version.
In Blumhouse’s FANTASY ISLAND, the enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.
Directed by Jeff Wadlow, Blumhouse’s FANTASY ISLAND is written by Jeff Wadlow & Chris Roach & Jillian Jacobs and is produced by Jason Blum, Marc Toberoff and Jeff Wadlow.
BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL BONUS MATERIALS
• Deleted Scenes
• Unrated and theatrical versions of the movie included
• Unrated Director and Cast Commentary: Audio commentary by Director Jeff Wadlow and Cast (Unrated Version Only)
CAST AND CREW
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Written By: Jeff Wadlow & Chris Roach & Jillian Jacobs
Producers: Jason Blum, Marc Toberoff, Jeff Wadlow
Executive Producers: Couper Samuelson, Jeanette Volturno
Cast: Michael Peña (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Maggie Q (Divergent), Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), Austin Stowell (Battle of the Sexes), Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley), Portia Doubleday (Carrie), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Run Time: Approx. 109 minutes
Theatrical Version Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror, drug content, suggestive material, and brief strong language
Feature: 1080p High Definition/ 2.39:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, Spanish, English—Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital
COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc worldwide, and today the hammer came down on comics: All product distributed by Diamond Comics Distributors and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice.
The chairman of Diamond, Steve Geppi, just sent out a notice, which we reprint here:
CORONAVIRUS EFFECTS ON DISTRIBUTION
As everyone knows, the world faces ever-increasing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its effects on the comics & collectibles and tabletop gaming industries have been felt far and wide. We are hearing from thousands of retailers that they can no longer service their customers as they have in the past, many of them forced to close by government action or resort to in-person or curbside delivery. Even those still open are seeing reduced foot traffic in most cases, a situation that seems likely to worsen with time.
Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week. Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease.
EFFECTS ON DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS
Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1stor laterwill not be shipped to retailers until further notice. For the time being, however, we have been able to develop procedures with our teams at the distribution center in Olive Branch, MS to safely continue fulfillment of direct ship reorders for the retailers who are able to receive new product and need it to service their customers. It’s unlikely that orders will be filled on the same day they are placed, and these plans are subject to change if at any point we no longer feel that we can safeguard our teams while fulfilling orders.
Product distributed by Diamond UK and slated for an on-sale date of March 25th or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. Further updates with regard to reorders and other Diamond UK-specific information will be communicated directly to their customers as information becomes available.
EFFECTS ON ALLIANCE GAME DISTRIBUTORS
Product distributed by Alliance has been shipping from our Fort Wayne, IN and Austin, TX warehouses. Both are closing at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24th, in the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments. Any orders not shipped by that time will not be processed until further notice. Your dedicated sales team will still be working remotely and will help you with any orders you’d like to place today or questions you may have. OUR SHARED PATH FORWARD
With these changes in our distribution strategy, we will work with our publishing partners to develop programs that will address product already in the pipeline and what will happen when we resume distribution. We know that during this time you will face many challenges, and we will direct our energies toward addressing them, rather than fighting on increasingly numerous fronts to get product out.
For those retailers who remain open in various forms, I encourage you let loose your own creativity. For the time being, you will be able to replenish your perennials from Diamond and/or Alliance, but you should also remember the stock you already have in your stores. If your doors remain open, it’s likely you will have customers who will continue to seek diversion from events of the world. Special sales, promotions, and even eBay can help you bring in cash during this trying time. Product for which you’ve already paid may well hold some of your answers. There have been many solid suggestions offered about how to help our retailers, and we will bring many of them together in future communications.
Besides the industry’s most immediate needs, we have been and will continue looking toward the future, when we see stores reopening, bringing staff back onboard, and getting customers in the door. We are looking at issues like debt accrued due to this crisis, what reduced ordering means for your discount tiers, and the availability of credit to help stores through and after this difficult time. We don’t have all those answers today, but we understand the many issues you are facing and look forward to addressing them as partners who all have an interest in the long-term health of the industry we love so much.
As I mentioned in my last update, this industry has been one of the greatest joys of my life, from my days as a collector to a retailer to today. I and my Leadership Team have made these decisions knowing full-well the effect they will have on all of you, as well as our publishing partners and our own team members around the world. At the end of the day, the safety and security of our teams and yours, along with the many customers we all serve, is paramount. I again thank you for your ongoing patience and support.
Universal City, California, March 20, 2020 – Let there be light! Dive deeper into the electric true story behind one of the greatest unknown battles in American invention and ingenuity in THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT, available on Digital now and on Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on March 31, 2020, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. This suspenseful “smart historical drama” (Pete Hammond, Deadline) gives an inside look at one of the most impactful events in history as it set the foundation for modern life – the creation of electricity. With “vivid performances” (Michael, O’Sullivan, Washington Post) from an all-star cast including Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Knives Out), Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Favourite) and Tom Holland (Spider-Man Far from Home, Avengers: Endgame), the film from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, “Hunters” ) and with a script by Michael Mitnick (The Giver, “Vinyl” ) provides a compelling tug-of-war story that is enhanced through both the immersive visual style and powerful cast performances. Full of emotionally gripping moments from beginning to end, audiences can see the fascinating THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT when the film arrives on Digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD, with dramatic deleted scenes that take viewers deeper into the story of intense rivalry between two leading innovators in the race towards powering the world.
Three brilliant visionaries set off in a charged battle for the future in THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT, the epic story of the cutthroat competition that literally lit up the modern world. Benedict Cumberbatch is Thomas Edison, the celebrity inventor on the verge of bringing electricity to Manhattan with his radical new DC technology. On the eve of triumph, his plans are upended by charismatic businessman George Westinghouse (Shannon) who believes he and his partner, the upstart genius Nikolai Tesla (Hoult), have a superior idea for how to rapidly electrify America, with AC current. As Edison and Westinghouse grapple for who will power the nation, they spark one of the first and greatest corporate feuds in American history, establishing for future titans of industry the need to break all the rules. Hailed as “a remarkable period piece that evokes the transition from the era of soot and gaslights to the luminescent era” (Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle), audiences everywhere can now experience the riveting and charged battle that helped shape the world around us.
BLU-RAY™️, DVD & DIGITAL BONUS FEATURES:
Feature Commentary with Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT will be available on Blu-ray™️, DVD and Digital.
Blu-ray™️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.
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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-ray™️ and DVD disc packages from participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere. MOVIES ANYWHERE is only available in the United States. For more information, visit https://moviesanywhere.com.
FILMMAKERS: Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Fisher, Nicholas Hoult Casting By: Ellen Lewis, Theo Park Music By: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans Music Supervisor: Randall Poster Visual Effects Supervisor: Justin Ball Costume Designer: Michael Wilkinson Edited By: David Trachtenberg ACE, Justin Krohn Production Designer: Jan Roelfs Director of Photography: Chung-Hoon Chung Line Producer: Matthew Patnick Executive Producers: Martin Scorsese, Steven Zaillian, Garrett Basch, Michael Mitnick, Ann Ruark, Michele Wolkoff, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Ackland, David C. Glasser, David Hutkin, Bob Yari, Adam Sidman Produced by: Timur Bekmambetov, Basil Iwanyk Written By: Michael Mitnick Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
TECHNICAL INFORMATION BLU-RAY™️:
Street Date: March 31, 2020 Selection Number: 43211097 Layers: BD 50 Aspect Ratio: 16:9 2.39:1 Widescreen Rating: PG-13 for thematic content for thematic some disturbing/violent images and thematic elements Languages/Sound: English – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Subtitles: English SDH, French Canadian and Latin American Spanish Subtitles Run Time: 1 Hours and 42 Minutes
TECHNICAL INFORMATION DVD: Street Date: March 31, 2020 Selection Number: 43211098 Layers: DVD 9 Aspect Ratio: 16:9 2.39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Rating: PG-13 for thematic content for thematic some disturbing/violent images and thematic elements Languages/Sound: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.1 Subtitles: English SDH, French Canadian and Latin American Spanish Subtitles Run Time: 1 Hours and 42 Minutes
World War I is a period usually given short shrift in social studies classes. Neither of my kids spent time on this vital conflict, since it set the stage for the next 75 years of history. For many, the No Man’s Land scene in Wonder Woman may have been the only time they saw what the battle may have looked like.
As a result, San Mendes’ 1917 was a welcome entry to the history on film canon, deserving the ten Academy Award nominations among many other accolades. The film, out on disc now from Universal Home Entertainment, is a visually stunning work that should be seen.
Much has been made of the cinematic approach, telling the story in a way that suggests one continual shot from the soldiers’ perspective. Kudos to Mendes for trying this and to Cinematographer Roger Deakins for making this a visually arresting film. The production design and set decoration are incredible and rich in detail.
As a result, you spent the entire 119 minutes gaping at the visual spectacle and trying to find where camera cut. It’s not until the lights come up and you pause to absorb it all that you realize it’s not a well-written movie. Mendes used an experience of his grandfather’s as a springboard and cowrite the screenplay with Krysty Wilson-Cairns about two British soldiers — Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Will Schofield (George MacKay) — tasked with getting a message to the frontlines before a disastrous ambush takes place.
Neither actor is well-known so we can’t predict if either or both survive the 24-hour ordeal. But, as the two endure sniper fire, things falling apart around them, concussions, mud pits, and more, you come to realize this is all too much for the time period. No human can endure this much without eating or sleeping (or going to the bathroom) or in need of medical care. At one point, of them falls in a cold river for some time and never slows down to hypothermia – and this after a concussion.
It’s all too much, spoiling the incredibly realistic setting the two find themselves in.
None of the characters are well-defined, more like stock players with flat dialogue that defines no one. In incredibly small roles, but to secure investments I’m sure, you can spot Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jamie Parker.
I truly wish as much effort went into creating interesting characters as they did in the visual portion of the film.
The movie is out in the usual assortment of formats including the Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD combo pack. The 1080p transfer had to be pristine to capture every detail because you’re going to want to pause and stare. Mendes worked magic and this is one of the best-looking films I’ve seen on disc with terrific colors and nicely captured dust, dirt, and debris. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is more than a match for the stunning visuals, nicely capturing all the subtle sounds of war.
There is an assortment of Special Features that are fine, but I wish they were stronger. We start with The Weight of the World: Sam Mendes (4:29), which covers scripting the story; Allied Forces: The Making of 1917 (12:01), a too-short look at the filming; The Score of 1917 (3:52): In the Trenches (6:59), which focuses on the unknown stars; Recreating History (10:25): Mendes’ collaboration with Production Designer Dennis Gassner; Audio Commentary: one from Mendes and one from Deakins.
Crazy 8 Press announced it has agreed to release ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season One, Jim Beard’s celebration of the 1966 classic Batman television series. This new collection of essays creatively examines each episode of the ABC series which aired during the first half of 1966.
Edited by respected comic book writer and essayist Jim Beard, the 208-page Bat-tastic collection will be released by Crazy 8 in April, both as a trade paperback and eBook.
“There’s still so much to say about this legendary TV series, and this book sets out to prove it,” said Beard, who also wrote the opening essay examining the two-part pilot episode.
The worldwide Batman TV series phenomenon starred Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo, adapting the DC Comics series to the small screen, riding the Pop Art and Camp craze that were trends during the turbulent 1960s. The show spawned a feature film and a bonanza of merchandising the likes of which had never been seen before. Thanks to syndication, the show has rarely been off the air and in the last decade has spawned a fresh wave of merchandising.
Season one introduced viewers to Batman, Robin, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon, as well as iconic villains including Julie Newmar as Catwoman, Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, Caesar Romero as The Joker, and Burgess Meredith as The Penguin. And, of course, the inaugural season thrilled fans with the Batcave, Wayne Manor, and one of the most heart-pounding elements of the entire franchise — the Batmobile.
“Crazy 8 Press is always on the look-out for kindred spirits, given most of our roots in comics,” said Crazy 8 co-founder Robert Greenberger, who has spent more than 30 years as a comic book editor and contributor for DC and Marvel Comics. “Previously, Crazy 8 released Rob Kelly’s anthology Hey Kids, Comics, a look back at the joys of comic collecting. It was high time we added to that portion of our inventory. Jim’s book project seemed a perfect fit. And as we still see today, Batman never goes out of style.”
The paperback ($14.99) and eBook ($4.99) contains essays from Crazy 8’s Greenberger and long-time comic book writer Paul Kupperberg, in addition to frequent Crazy 8 contributors Keith DeCandido, Will Murray, and Dayton Ward. Other ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! contributors include long-time Batman writer Chuck Dixon, comics historian Peter Sanderson, ComicMix contributor Ed Catto, 13thDimension.com’s Dan Greenfield, the Batcave Podcast’s John S. Drew, Rich Handley, Alan J. Porter, Pat Evans, Steve Thompson, Mark B. Racop, Joe Crowe, and, Chris Franklin.
“I’ve never ceased in being amazed and delighted at fans’ appetite for a show that lasted barely over two years back in the 1960s,” Beard added. “It‘s a testament to not only the character’s overall appeal, but specifically the unique take on Batman offered up in the series.”
Beard previously explored the television series in Gotham City 14 Miles (Sequart), an anthology of essays covering the length and breadth of Batmania. He is a regular writer for Marvel.com, an essayist for pop culture collections, and made his Crazy 8 Press debut in 2019’s Thrilling Adventure Yarns with a short story co-written with his late wife Becky.
He is already at work on ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! Volume two, exploring the complete second season, to be released by Crazy 8 Press in 2021.
ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season One will be available for purchase on Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s sites, as well as various comic book, and mass media conventions.
ABOUT JIM BEARD
Jim Beard pounds out adventure fiction with classic pulp style and flair.
A native Toledoan, he was introduced to comic books at an early age by his father, who passed on to him a love for the medium and the pulp characters who preceded it. After decades of reading, collecting and dissecting comics, Jim became a published writer when he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. Since then he’s written official Spider-Man, X-Files, and Planet of the Apes prose fiction, Star Wars and Ghostbusters comic stories, and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history.
His prose work also includes Gotham City 14 Miles, a book of essays on the 1966 Batman TV series; Sg.t Janus, Spirit-Breaker, a collection of pulp ghost stories featuring an Edwardian occult detective; Monster Earth, a shared-world giant monster anthology; and Captain Action: Riddle of the Glowing Men, the first pulp prose novel based on the classic 1960s action figure.
Jim also currently provides regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website.
ABOUT CRAZY 8 PRESS
Crazy 8 Press is a consortium of writers who banded together to bypass traditional publishing and bring stories directly to the readers. Current members are Russ Colchamiro, Peter David, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, and Aaron Rosenberg.
The best of DC Comics’ Elseworlds stories where when the writers challenged the conventional wisdom, upending how we envisioned our heroes. Among the more celebrated of these stories was Mark Millar and Dave Johnson’s Superman: Red Son, imagining the Kryptonian rocket ship landing in Soviet Russia, not Kansas.
It has long been on people’s wish list for adaptation as either a live-action or animated feature. Those wishes have finally been granted in one of Warner Animation’s more successful adaptations. The film is out now from Warner Home Entertainment in all the usual formats including the popular 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD combo.
Superman (Jason Isaacs) arrives in the late 1930s and by the time his powers begin to manifest with his adolescence, we’re on the tail end of World War II and the arrival of Joseph Stalin’s (William Salyers) Iron Curtain. With a super-powered loyalist, Stalin manages to exert even greater influence over his people and the world at large. America may have introduced the atomic bomb, but they were clearly behind in the super-powers arms race. Presidents began to rely on brilliant industrialist Lex Luthor (Diedrich Bader) to close that gap. He’s encouraged by his reporter wife Lois Lane (Amy Acker).
The timeline is altered from our world since Stalin died in 1953 but is still alive when the planet was being orbited by multiple Russian satellites. When the Man of Steel arrives in America to save it from a failed Russian satellite, he is shown proof of Stalin’s atrocities, including an underground slave labor camp for political dissidents, including his childhood friend Svetlana Winter Ave Zoli). In his anger, Superman kills Stalin and tries to do the right thing, further spreading the Communist ideal to countries around the world.
In time, he and Princess Diana (Vanessa Marshall), ambassador from Themyscira, form a friendship where she checks his idealism with doses of realism. Over the years, he grows more strident and blindered, eventually costing him her loyalty. Other dissidents arise, including Batman (Roger Craig Smith), but the bigger threat to his rule is the extraterrestrial Brainiac (Paul Williams), which shrinks Stalingrad before he subdues and seemingly reprograms the alien tech to do his bidding.
Human nature has proven Communism to be an unattainable goal and here, even a super-powered idealist cannot make it work. He is opposed by Democratic ideals, positioned here as the one true form of government; a facsimile made from his DNA, and that pesky Bat. Everything builds up until there’s betrayal, realization, catharsis, and genuine heroism.
It’s an exceedingly well told tale thanks to a solid script from J.M. DeMatteis and strong direction from Sam Liu, who finally has tempered some of his action excesses in favor of better character moments. Frequent composer Frederik Wiedmann turns in an excellent score.
The UHD’s 2160p transfer is visibly superior to the Blu-ray (not that its bad), but the color palette is well-captured here. This gray world is nicely depicted and looks terrific. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track captures the booms, sound effects, and music quite well.
The Special Features have fallen into a predictable pattern. We start off with another wonderful installment of the DC Showcase shorts. Here we have a Phantom Stranger (15:07) installment, set in the psychedelic era, just when the feature was being revived by DC. Then we have the routine look at the story underlying the Elseworlds tale: Cold Red War (16:57) as Dave Johnson, Mike Carlin, Sam Liu and others from the crew talk about the source material. Thankfully they also brought on screen several people to address the real history, including history professors Miriam Neirick, Ph.D. and Michaela Crawford Reaves, Ph.D.
Additionally, there’s a useful, abbreviated motion comic (6:03) version of the graphic novel and Sneak Peek: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (10:23), which is being billed as the final installment in this incarnation of the animated continuity.
The disc is rounded out with older previews and the two-part Justice League episode “A Better World”.
BURBANK, CA (March 10, 2020) – Two fan-favorite HBO television series will be available in their entirety when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Silicon Valley: The Complete Series boxset on DVD ($89.99 SRP US / $169.99 SRP Canada) and The Deuce: The Complete Series boxset on DVD ($79.99 SRP US / $109.99 SRP Canada) on May 26, 2020.
Additionally, the Silicon Valley: The Complete Sixth Season DVD and The Deuce: The Complete Third Season DVD will both be available the same day-and-date courtesy of Warner Archive Collection. Warner Archive releases are found at wb.com/warnerarchive and your favorite online retailer.
“Following the highly successful run of both Silicon Valley and The Deuce on HBO,” said Rosemary Markson, WHBE Senior Vice President, Television Marketing. “Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is thrilled to bring the complete series boxsets of each show to fans this spring so they can relive and collect their favorite show.”
Silicon Valley is a comedy series set in the high-tech gold run of modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success. The story is familiar for series co-creator Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill), who worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley in the late 1980s before moving to television and achieving success with Beavis and Butthead. Silicon Valley was Judge’s first live-action comedy series, which he helmed for six seasons alongside comedy writer/director/producer Alec Berg (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Barry).
The series stars a hilarious ensemble featuring Thomas Middleditch (Tag, Search Party), T.J. Miller (Mash Up, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), Zach Woods (Avenue 5, The Office), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Stuber), Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Party Down), Josh Brener (Glory Daze, The Internship), Christopher Evan Welch (The Master, Vicky Christina Barcelona), Amanda Crew (Jobs, Charlie St. Cloud), Jimmy O. Yang (Crazy Rich Asians), Suzanne Cryer (10 Cloverfield Lane) and Matt Ross (Big Love, Magic City).
In the sixth and final season of the hit series, Pied Piper is finally seeing the fruits of their labor – they have a huge new office and employees to fill it. But they soon find that being a bigger company means dealing with bigger problems. Can they achieve their vision without sacrificing their morals?
7 HALF-HOUR EPISODES
Artificial Lack of Intelligence
Silicon Valley: The Complete Series, a 9-disc DVD boxed set includes all the episodes from Seasons 1 through 6 featuring approximately 1,800 minutes of laughs.
Boasting a superb ensemble cast and executive produced by David Simon, George Pelecanos, Nina K. Noble and James Franco, The Deuce chronicles the rise of the porn industry that began in New York City in 1971-72 and ends with the deterioration of NYC’s Times Square in the 1980s. Shot on location in New York, The Deuce features remarkable ‘70s-era production design, costumes and music that capture the thrilling, pre-sanitized aura of Times Square during this decade.
The series also marked the return of Simon, whose other acclaimed HBO projects include both The Wire and Treme as well as the miniseries Generation Kill, Show Me a Hero and The Corner. The Deuce stars a pedigree cast led by James Franco (Oscar® nominee for 127 Hours), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Oscar® nominee for Crazy Heart), Gary Carr (Downton Abbey), Margarita Levieva (How to Make it in America), Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. (The Wire), Dominique Fishback (Show Me a Hero), Emily Meade (The Leftovers), Gbenga Akinnagbe (Knucklehead), Chris Bauer (True Blood, The Wire), Chris Coy (Banshee) and Michael Rispoli (The Sopranos). Prominent guest stars throughout the series include Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick), Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), Cliff “Method Man” Smith (8 Mile) and many others.
The Deuce: The Complete Third Season brings us into the world of 1985, just as VHS overtakes film as the primary medium for porn production and distribution. The lure of the California sunshine, the city’s aggressive takeover of commercial sex properties in Times Square and the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic mark the end of an era. With the party of the 1970s winding down, 42nd Street has deteriorated into a hive of uncontrolled violent crime and seedy video stores, making urban renewal seem more unlikely than ever before. Following the interconnected lives of Times Square’s barkeeps, prostitutes, pimps, police, mobsters, porn actors and producers, the eight-episode third season of The Deuce brings the series’ arc to a dramatic conclusion.
In addition to the series regulars listed above, season three finds familiar faces who return this season as cast regulars including, David Krumholtz (HBO’s upcoming miniseries The Plot Against America), Daniel Sauli (House of Cards), Olivia Luccardi (Channel Zero) and Sepideh Moafi (Falling Water). Season 2 cast regulars Jamie Neumann (Jessica Jones) and Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) also return for season three.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
Stage Setting Piece
8 Inside the Episode Featurettes
8 ONE-HOUR EPISODES
The Camera Loves You
Morta di Fame
Normal Is a Lie
They Can Never Go Home
You Only Get One
This Trust Thing
That’s a Wrap
The Deuce: The Complete Series, an 8-disc DVD boxed set includes all episodes from Seasons 1 through 3, including previously released special features, featuring approximately 1,500 minutes of content.
All seasons of Silicon Valley and The Deuce are also currently available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu and others.
DC Universe’s Titans series is maddeningly uneven. Its second season, out now on disc for those unwilling to buy the service, is perhaps slightly better than its inaugural outing but it’s still a mess.
Let’s start with the fact that everyone behind the camera doesn’t understand Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), so they depict him as bitter and angry, lost and without a clear sense of self. He was never like that in the comics and this is jarring and not terribly well thought through. During the season he is haunted by the vision of Bruce Wayne (Ian Glen), who seems far less brooding than one would expect an aging Batman to be.
The final episode shot for season one is used to open season two as Dick, Donna Troy (Conor Leslie), Hank Hall (Alan Ritchson), Gar Logan (Ryan Potter), Kory Anders (Anna Diop), Jason Todd (Curran Walters), and Rachel (Teagan Croft) face off against Trigon (Seamus Dever). Once his threat is easily dispatched, the team go their separate ways for most of the season.
Titans in the comics, whether under Bob Haney, Marv Wolfman, or Geoff Johns, worked best when they were together, loving, laughing, and fighting as a surrogate family unit. Instead, we have multiple storylines going on that allows them to introduce Conner Kent (Joshua Orpin), Deathstroke/Slade Wilson (Esai Morales), his son, Jericho (Chella Man), and daughter, Rose (Chelsea Zhang). Slade wants revenge against Dick for Jericho’s injuries while Rose was sent to infiltrate and betray the team in a variation of the classic storyline “The Judas Contract”.
It never quite gels and comes together as it needs to although Dick finally forges his Nightwing identity, just in time for a member of the team to be needlessly killed. There are times I think the best character in the show is Krypto, who never gets enough screen time.
A third season is in the works and one can hope they learn their lessons and grow rather than retreat.
The 1080p transfer is crisp which is good considering how dark the series is, even in daytime. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is a match if not a touch better so you’re in for a good viewing experience.
The 13 episodes are accompanied by one Special Feature: Jason Todd – Fate by the Fans (11:52), which examines the disastrous call in stunt that doomed Jason Todd to a grisly death in the best-selling “Death in the Family” storyline from 1989.
Between Walt Disney’s death in 1966 and 1988’s released of Oliver and Company, the namesake company’s animated output was stale, unimaginative, and paralyzed by execs whose manta was “What would Walt do?” Then came a second Golden Age of animation and generations have been entertained anew as they embraced bolder storytelling, more diverse characters, and even CGI versus cel animation.
And yet, I wonder how Walt would have felt about sequels. The direct to video sequels to films like The Lion King were sheer cash grabs and diluted the core properties. He would have been pleasantly surprised at how good the Pixar sequels to Toy Story have been. But, would he have approved a Frozen II? We’ll never know and it had to be a risk to bring a second adventure to the big screen considering the phenomenal success of the 2013 original.
Thankfully, the current team didn’t rush out a hasty sequel to squeeze every last nickel from their audience. Instead, they took their time to ensure a sequel was strong enough to handle the pent up expectations. There was no way the sequel, out now on disc from Disney Home Entertainment, could measure up but one would have hoped for something with a bit more zest.
The movie is pleasant enough as it builds on the world established in the original, giving us insight to the politics that beset Arendelle, which Else (Idina Menzel) now governs. She hears a call, one last heard in childhood, that brings her to the mythic forest. Accompanied by Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven, and Olaf (Josh Gad), the adventure begins. They find a misty barrier and once they pierce it, they find Arendelle’s long lost warriors, including Mattias (Sterling K. Brown). Secrets are revealed, the true nature of the conflict with Northuldra included, and the Queen must sort things out.
There are gasps and guffaws and the overall story is a good one, just not great and far from magical. Partly it’s familiarity, and partly there was no way they could live up to the anticipation.
The 2160p is a step above the Blu-ray but not enough to justify the extra cost (the combo pack here is your friend). Colors and details are crystal clear, the animated figures move fluidly and the effects are strong. Both 4K and Blu-ray come with DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 or Dolby Atmos track and they both sound strong, but could be better.
The Special Features are usually where Disney shines, especially for their younger viewers but here it’s all just so ordinary. The 4K disc merely contains the movie with a karaoke-style lyric track. The rest are on the Blu-ray and there are plenty:
Outtakes (2:26) from the voice recording sessions; Did You Know??? (4:27), The Spirits of Frozen 2 (12:02), Scoring a Sequel (3:49); Deleted Scenes (17:58) with Director Chris Buck and Writer/Director Jennifer Lee introductions; Deleted Songs, including “Home” (4:22) and “I Wanna Get This Right” (6:24); two Gale Tests (3:56); “Into the Unknown” (3:07) seamlessly intercut in 29 Languages, which inspired the wonderful piece we see at the Academy Awards; Music Videos: “Into the Unknown” (Panic! At the Disco Version) (3:16) and “Lost in the Woods” (Weezer Version) (3:06).