Paramount Pictures has released a new one-sheet for their G.I. Joe spinoff, Snake Eyes, featuring arguably the most popular character from the 1980s revival of the popular Hasbro toy line.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins stars Henry Golding as Snake Eyes, a tenacious loner who is welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage after saving the life of their heir apparent. Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach Snake Eyes the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing something he’s been longing for: a home. But, when secrets from his past are revealed, Snake Eyes’ honor and allegiance will be tested – even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him. Based on the iconic G.I. Joe character
, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins also stars Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, Úrsula Corberó as The Baroness, Samara Weaving as Scarlett, Haruka Abe as Akiko, Tahehiro Hira as Kenta and Iko Uwais as Hard Master.
Hasbro’s G.I. JOE® Characters
Evan Spiliotopoulos and Anna Waterhouse & Joe Shrapnel
Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Úrsula Corberó, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira with Iko Uwais
EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY
David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Jeff G. Waxman, Greg Mooradian
Brian Goldner, Erik Howsam, p.g.a., Lorenzo di Bonaventura, p.g.a.
BURBANK, CA – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that the perennial family classic Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on June 29. Called a “genuine work of imagination” by Roger Ebert, the film stars Gene Wilder in one of his most famous roles.
Directed by Mel Stuart from a screenplay by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was produced by Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper. The film is an adaptation of Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory stars Gene Wilder as Wily Wonka, Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, Roy Kinnear as Mr. Salt, Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca Salt, Leonard Stone as Mr. Beauregarde, Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde, Dodo Denney as Mrs. Teevee, and Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee.
Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features. Fans can also own Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on June 29.
About the Film:
Directed by Mel Stuart and starring Gene Wilder as the legendary Candy Man Willy Wonka, this splendiferous movie brings to the screen the endlessly appetizing delights of Roald Dahl’s cherished book. Coated with flavorful tunes and production designs that are a visual treat for the eyes, this effervescent musical never fails to enchant young and old. On a whirlwind tour of Willy’s incredible, edible realm of chocolate waterfalls, elfish Oompa-Loompas and industrial-sized confections, a boy named Charlie (Peter Ostrum) will discover the sweetest secret of all: a generous, loving heart. And viewers will rediscover all the timeless magic as it was meant to be seen.
Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Elements Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:
Commentary with the Wonka Kids
Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
, 2021, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory 4K UHD will be available to own for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on favorite devices from select digital retailers including GooglePlay, Vudu, Xbox and others, and will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.
Ultra HD Blu-ray, $24.99
Standard Street Date: 6/29/2021
Ultra HD Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French
Ultra HD Blu-ray Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Parisian French
Run Time: 99 min 30 sec (Feature Only)
I’m going to try to be quick with this one: it’s very much not my thing in multiple ways, and I read it to sample both what my old college buddy Rucka has been doing and what mainstream Marvel comics are like. The answer, in both cases, is: still things I’m not all that interested in, and which I do not enjoy, which is totally fine.
Elektra by Greg Rucka Ultimate Collection collects more than a year of the title comic about the ninja super-assassin, issues 7-22 from just over a decade ago. The art is by a whole lot of different people, most of which was in styles I found actively off-putting. (Worst: Greg Horn, whose glossy photorealism seemingly only comes at the expense of composition and energy and movement and human body proportions. Best: Carlos Meglia, with two great cartoony issues full of zip and vigor. Everyone else was variously muddy and dull and generically gritty, to my eye.)
This is the kind of comic that aggressively insists that it’s nothing like superheroes as it features an unstoppable overpowered killing machine wearing a silly unfeasible costume and fighting against magic ninjas. I have never found any part of that argument compelling. And the fact that the overall plotline here is, more or less, “maybe, Elektra, spending your life murdering people for money in job lots is not the greatest thing you could possibly be doing” adds to that great-power-great-responsibility hoo-ha.
Anyway, Elektra is the world’s greatest assassin, who kills people in that stripper costume she’s wearing on the cover (and often other clothes; she’s an equal-opportunity murderess) in various inventive ways and, at this point, was completely separate from the regular Marvel Universe so she could be grimmer and grittier. Although the trained-by-good-and-then-evil-ninjas thing, and the whole she-was-dead-for-a-while-but-got-better deal, are still baked into her backstory on a molecular level.
These are crime stories about a globetrotting international assassin, and they are never as fun and thrilling as that phrase makes them sound. As usual, Rucka focuses on the mental trauma his characters face, and Elektra has been brainwashed so many times it’s a wonder she can cross the street without a Boy Scout. They are largely “about” the kind of serious “issues” that superhero comics get into when they’re feeling expansive: life’s purpose and meaning
, how glorious and intoxicating it is to murder a whole lot of people, the difficulty of maintaining a steady clientele in the international-assassin business, and so on.
I’m already running on too long, and getting too snarky: the stories here are solid of their kind, but they’re very tough-guy stories, in the old paperback thriller mode. It is nice to see that Marvel can publish stories in which people in funny costumes kill each other, instead of just punch each other through buildings and then take each other to super-jail, I guess.
This sequence of stories seems to have largely been Rucka trying to reset from “Elektra kills people for money and is a total badass about it” to “Elektra feels bad about having killed lots of people and might possibly be looking to do Good Things to redress her karmic balance,” but the moment of reset, if I’m right, is at the very end of this book. So I don’t know if it stuck, and frankly I don’t care enough to investigate.
Burbank, Calif., May 11, 2021 – To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beloved classic, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that the perennial family film Space Jam will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on July 6th.
Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan and Looney Tunes linchpin Bugs Bunny star in the family comedy classic that introduced a whole new dimension of entertainment. The film also stars Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle, and the voice of Danny DeVito. Bill Murray, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing appear as themselves. Space Jam was produced by Ivan Reitman and directed by Joe Pytka.
Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before. Space Jam will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features. Fans can also own Space Jam in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on July 6th.
Space Jam received an Annie Award for Best Individual Achievement: Technical Achievement and a Grammy® Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television (1997).
The world’s greatest legends collide in a future universe with Jordan as a live-action hero entering a spectacular animated world. Captured by Bugs Bunny to foil a ghastly gang of space creatures, Jordan must play the basketball game of his life to save the beloved cartoon heroes from a hideous kidnapping scheme.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY COMBO PACK ELEMENTS
Space Jam Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following previously released special features:
, Bugs Bunny (voiced by Billy West) and Daffy Duck (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
Featurette: “Jammin” with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan
Music videos including Seal’s “Fly Like an Eagle” and Monstars’ anthem “Hit ‘Em High”
DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS
On July 6th, Space Jam 4K UHD will be available to own for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on favorite devices from select digital retailers including GooglePlay, Vudu, Xbox and others, and will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.
Ultra HD Blu-ray, $24.99
Standard Street Date: 7/6/2021
Ultra HD Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, Parisian French, Danish, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish
Ultra HD Blu-ray Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Parisian French, Danish, Finnish, German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish
Run Time: 87 min (Feature Only)
Geoff Arend provides the voice of Charles Halstead in the current entry in the DC Universe Movies canon, Justice Society: World War II.
Arend, best known for his work on MadameSecretary, also voiced one of the Dark Knight’s most complicated nemeses in Batman: Hush. He is highly regarded for his work as a series regular on the long-running Madam Secretary and Body of Proof, as well as having featured roles in the popular films 500 Days of Summer and Garden State.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Justice Society: World War II is now available via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray.
The three interview bites (tied together) feature Arend talking about finding the controlling voice of his character
John Paul Leon was part of an elite group, the Bad Boy Studio Mentor program. That program’s goal is to help people of color gain entry into comic books and related businesses.
It does not stop there—the main goal is to pay it forward.
Each member of Bad Boy Studios is charged with advancing the next generation and living up to the program motto: EACH ONE TEACHES ONE.
When John came into the program, it was evident he was a star in the making. He began at Bad Boy during the period I was at Milestone Media.
Milestone’s business structure was just as innovative as Denys Cowan’s idea to create the company. The creative partners at Milestone took no salary; we were to be paid for our comic book work.
As an example, I wore many hats at Milestone, owner, founder, head of publicity, talent, and conventions. Nevertheless, I was only paid for writing and drawing Static known to the world as Static Shock.
I created the Static Shock Universe; the model for that creation was my Family. The real focus of that universe wasn’t Static; his sister Sharon Hawkins was.
The book Icon, Milestone’s Black Superman, was really about his sidekick, Rocket. That’s a genius idea from Dwayne McDuffie, so I followed suit.
The driving force behind the Static Universe was my mother, Jean. She was a remarkable woman, but her life was anything but easy. She was a victim of abuse from many sources but never complained.
Her mother, Lenore, my grandmother, and her daughter, Sharon, my sister, both died horrible deaths. That pain weighed on her, although she sought to conceal it.
I wanted to ease some of her pain, even if just a little. To that end, our family became the Hawkins family.
Jean, Robert, and Sharon were the names of my mom, dad, and sister. Hawkins was my cousin’s last name. Initially, Alan Hawkins was Static’s alter ego’s name. Dwayne changed it to Vigil after the civil rights pioneer.
My mother told me, seeing her daughter live on in Static was the greatest gift she ever received from me. The day after saying that, she passed away.
When John Paul Leon came into my Mentor Program, it wasn’t long before I decided his style was better suited for Static than my frequent photo referenced technique.
I mentioned I was only to be paid for writing and drawing Static. I was, except DC Comics never paid me for the entire time I was at Milestone. They refused to honor my contract. (This was twenty-plus years ago and is in no way a reflection of the current DC Comics.)
My wife overheard a conversation where I was told that if I was so hard up for money, take the book back from John, I refused. She started screaming in Spanish.
A few days before this, she found out; we were broke—two years of no income erasing my significant savings. I, like a fool, honored my exclusive contract and looked for no other work. She was livid when I finally told her what I’d been dealing with and insisted we leave the loft where we lived.
My wife was the first generation of her family born in America. Her Family risked death to come here from Cuba. They are hard-working, good people who value family above all.
Josephine was a wonderful woman with a smile that could light up a street. Nothing fazed her except bills. Like her mother, Jo saw bills priority number ONE.
The bill had to be paid the moment she opened the envelope. It did not matter if the bill was due in a week, month or decade. She paid bills immediately.
She never felt we could afford our place, and now, hearing her anger, I knew any chance I had of talking her into staying disappeared with my bank account.
I told her we were only a couple of months behind, the way she shouted you would have thought I spent the mortgage money on crack and the sheriff was at the door.
But I understood why it upset her so, what I couldn’t understand was Spanish.
“CÓMO TE ATREVES, CÓMO ATREVERTE, A QUITARTE EL SUEÑO DE ALGUIEN!”
I had no idea how I would tell this woman that I wouldn’t take the book back. It turns out I didn’t have to. I found out later; she was furious but at the person on the phone.
“How dare you take away someone’s dream” she wasn’t talking about my dream but about John Paul’s dream to draw comics.
Josephine had a bond with John. They were both Cuban Americans, both kind and respectful, and both about Family.
I gave John my Family to take care of when I gave him Static to draw. Because of him and Robert Washington, Static is loved by millions all over the world. Yeah, the TV show was the medium— but no John Paul Leon, no Robert Washington, no TV Show.
In truth, Static may have been just another comic among thousands if not for them. John did a better job with my family than I would have each time I look at his work on the book reinforces that. Because of John if I ever do a Static project, his work will be first among the inspirations I’d pull from.
Each one teaches one is the John Paul Leon story in a nutshell; John’s work is so influential he will be teaching long after he is laid to rest.
Bernard, stay strong; your friend is still within your heart.
Bad Boy Alumni, you’re all very much part of why John became one of the greatest ever put pencil to paper.
To Jo, Tenías razón el chico se hizo famoso, y se quedó como un buen tipo. Espero que tú y los tuyos estén bien. (Yeah, my Spanish still sucks.)
Lastly, to the family, it was an honor and privilege to know your son; the world will remember him as one of the greatest to ever work in an industry full of great creators.
His light will shine for as long as comics exist perhaps even longer.
The best thing about Shrek when it debuted 20 (yikes!) years ago was that it brought a fresh take on traditional fairy tales and got a generation of children to understand that there were more ways to tell these classic stories than the Disney way. The humor here was contemporary and original while still respecting the lessons these were designed to convey.
Now, celebrating the 20th anniversary of its release, Universal Home Entertainment has spruced up the original film for its 4k Ultra HD debut. It comes in a combo pack with the Blu-ray disc and Digital HD code.
It’s still funny, with Mike Meyers affecting a fine Scottish accent for the title character, paired with Eddie Murphy’s memorable Donkey along with Cameron Diaz (Princess Fiona), John Lithgow (Lord Farquaad), and Vincent Cassel as Monsieur Hood. To protect the swamp home of the ogre and its other denizens, Shrek takes on the evil Lord, rescues the princess, and a fine time is had by all. The music sells itself and there are funny moments throughout, still making me laugh.
While the CGI animation hasn’t aged as well as some other productions, Shrek is still good to watch and Universal gets credit for cleaning it up as best it could for both the 4K and Blu-ray discs. The color balance is nicely improved along with the depth of field.
The DTS:X Master Audio soundtrack is perhaps stronger, so you can enjoy the music, dialogue, and sound effects.
Given the film’s smash success, it spawned several sequels (none yet in 4K) in addition to television shorts, music videos, and related fun. Much of it can be found on the two Blu-rays discs in the set. There is actually no new content produced for the anniversary edition, just collecting previously released material. You can decide for yourself if the upgrade in the film itself is worth the investment.
On the 4K Ultra HD disc, you can find several of the original Blu-ray features:
Shrek’s Interactive Journey: 1
Spotlight on Donkey (11:37).
Secrets of Shrek (3:50):
Deleted Scenes (8:01).
Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party (2:51).
Baha Men “Best Years of Our Lives” (3:08).
Smash Mouth “I’m a Believer” (1080p, 3:15).
Shrek The Musical: “What’s Up, Duloc?” (3:56).
Audio Commentary: Directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and Producer Aron Warner.
On Blu-ray disc 1:
The Animators’ Corner
Shrek’s Interactive Journey
Spotlight on Donkey (11:38)
Secrets of Shrek (3:52)
Deleted Scenes (8:01).
Audio Commentary: Directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and Producer Aron Warner.
Comic fandom has crossed so thoroughly into the mainstream, that mass media is proving elastic enough to encompass what was previously considered the obscure. Case in point, the just-released Justice Society: World War II direct-to-video film. Here is a story focused on the first comic book team that finally gets the spotlight after making cameos and guest appearances on animated and live-action television productions dating back to Smallville.
I personally love the JSA and was thrilled they were getting a film of their own. Unfortunately, the finished product is not the JSA we know, nor is it a particularly good piece of storytelling. Producers Butch Lukic and Jim Krieg apparently started this project as a Wonder Woman in WW II story that morphed and was appended to the parallel worlds concept.
We start on what we presume is the DCAU world as Flash (Matt Bomer) comes to aid Superman (Darren Criss) but clearly, it’s not our familiar world because there is no JLA. As the Scarlet Speedster tries to save Superman from a kryptonite missile fired by Brainiac
, he winds up piercing the dimension veil to find himself not only on a parallel world but back in time.
He arrives in Europe as Hawkman (Omid Abtahi), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru), Hourman (Matthew Mercer), and Flash (Armen Taylor), follow Wonder Woman’s (Stana Katic) lead. The initial battle sequence shows exactly why super-heroes didn’t directly engage against the Axis forces. The war would end in days not years.
Along the way, the modern-day Flash is slow to figure things out and the others view him askance until his older counterpart offers up the multiple worlds theory and then he’s one of them. Tagging along is a war correspondent, nicknamed Shakespeare, but it is actually Clark Kent, but a man whose adoptive parents, the Kents, died young and he was raised in an orphanage with a jaundiced view of using his powers for a humanity that has not been kind to him.
And of course, there’s Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos), the audience’s human connection to the story. Here, he’s accomplished and heroic, but hopelessly devoted to Wonder Woman, proposing to her daily. He’s probably the best thing in the film.
As we shift into the second half of the film, the real threat is presented in the form of The Advisor (Geoffrey Arend), who has taken mental control of that world’s Aquaman (Liam McIntyre). He’s out to conquer all, which is a brutal way to end the global conflict. At least it’s a threat worthy of super-heroes. So, as we build to the climax, there’s death, destruction, and lots of predictable moments.
Along the way, the heroes are never given a chance to be developed as characters. Audiences are left wondering as to the cherry-picked nature of the team, why this Canary has the sonic scream, why does Jay Garrick know about the Speed Force but Barry, who comes across as a dim bulb, does not. Of all the JSA characters present, the one receiving the worst treatment was Doctor Fate (Keith Ferguson).
Director Jeff Wamester and screenwriters Meghan Fitzmartin & Jeremy Adams could have done so much more with the source material, but what is presented here is soulless and unsurprising. The animation looks more limited than usual, which takes away from the enjoyment.
The 1.78:1 high-definition film looks sharp with good colors in what is a generally muted palette, bringing the horrors of war nicely to life. The video is nicely complemented by the audio.
Thankfully, the Combo Pack (4K, Blu-ray, Digital), comes with the far superior DC Showcase: Kamandi (18:03), which faithfully adapts Jack Kirby’s adventure series. Visually, the Kirby designs come to life and the story feels like Earth After the Great Disaster.
The director, producers, and screenwriters sit around congratulating themselves in Adventures in Storytelling (30:04), where they explain their choices and touch on the ideas they brought to the production, but it didn’t translate from idea to execution anywhere near as well as they think.
We also have Sneak Peek: Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1 (10:29) which is being touted as being the most faithful adaptation from a comic story. It certainly looks great with strong visuals and an interesting voice cast including the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman.
Finally, only available on disc is the From the DC Vault: Justice League: “Legends, Part One” and “Legends, Part Two”.
BURBANK, CA – Embark on an incredible adventure into a parallel world when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Season, the critically-acclaimed original fantasy series from HBO, on Blu-rayTM and DVD June 29, 2021. Adapted from the second book of Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy, which has sold over 22 million copies worldwide, His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Season features all seven episodes from the exciting second season plus over an hour of special features including an all-new never-before-seen featurette. The release will be priced at $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada) for the Blu-ray, which includes Digital Copy (US Only) and $24.98 SRP ($29.98 SRP in Canada) for the DVD. His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Seasonis also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.
His Dark Materials follows young orphan Lyra (Dafne Keen) on a journey through a parallel world where a human’s soul exists outside one’s body – in the form of a talking animal called a daemon. Season two begins as Lyra, distraught over the death of her best friend, embarks upon a journey in a strange and mysterious abandoned city. There she meets Will (Amir Wilson), a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary.
Season two series regulars include stars Dafne Keen (Logan), Ruth Wilson (The Affair), Amir Wilson (The Secret Garden), Ariyon Bakare (Life), Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Fleabag), Will Keen (The Crown), Ruta Gedmintas (The Strain) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). Joining the cast this season are Terence Stamp (Superman), Jade Anouka (Cleaning Up) and Simone Kirby (Notes on Blindness).
His Dark Materials is produced by Bad Wolf in association with New Line Cinema for BBC One and HBO. Executive producing the series are Jane Tranter, Dan McCulloch, Joel Collins and Julie Gardner for Bad Wolf; Philip Pullman, Jack Thorne, Tom Hooper; Deborah Forte, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema; and Ben Irving and Piers Wenger for the BBC.
7 ONE-HOUR EPISODES
The City of Magpies
Tower of the Angels
Noble Rogue: The Legend of Lee Scoresby (Exclusive to Blu-ray and DVD)
This documentary will explore the DNA of Lee Scoresby’s character (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and the aspects of the cowboy
, outlaw or rogue, who through bravery, loyalty, and rebelliousness are willing to stick up for the underdog and fight for justice.
Exploring His Dark Materials: Panserbjørne
Exploring His Dark Materials: Daemons
Exploring His Dark Materials:Portals & The Multiverse
Exploring His Dark Materials: Witches
His Dark Materials: Bringing Daemons and Bears to Life
His Dark Materials: Exploring Cittàgazze
His Dark Materials: Worlds Collide
The Powerful Mrs. Coulter
The Subtle Knife
The second season of His Dark Materials is now available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and others. A Digital Code is also included in the U.S. with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray™ discs for redemption and cloud storage.
Street Date: June 29, 2021
BD and DVD Presented in 16×9 widescreen format
Run Time: Approx. 420 minutes
Enhanced Content: Approx. 67 minutes
Price: $24.98 SRP ($29.98 in Canada)
DVD Audio: English (5.1) DD
DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish
Price: $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada)
BD Audio: English DTS 5.1, French
BD Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin Spanish
You’d think that during a global pandemic and months-long, not-going-anywhere, national lock down, I’d have found time to write a column or ten. Who knew planning every trip, be it to the store or to the mail box, with the precision of the Normandy invasion could be so time consuming?
But now I’m trying to stretch those muscles again and hope I don’t pull something I haven’t used since the Big Bang was still a theory, not a TV show. So I think I’ll start with something easy until muscle memory sets in.
“A Loint of Paw” is a short short written by Isaac Asimov in 1957. By short short I don’t mean a costume from a 1987 Nair commercial featuring a fashion trend that keeps coming back every time it goes out of style. Some might say it’s passé aggressive. (And if you think I’m going to apologize for that
, look down five more paragraphs.) No, this short short happens to be an exceedingly short short story.
“A Loint of Paw”, all four hundred fifty-nine words of it, is a science fiction story about a man named Montgomery Harlow Stein who stole more than $100,000 through fraud, then hopped into a time machine and emerged seven years and one day after the robbery. When he was tried for his crime, he argued that the seven-year statute of limitations on his crime had lapsed, so the state could not prosecute him.
After back-and-forth arguments between the prosecution and the defense and a week’s worth of deliberations by Judge Neville Preston, Montie Stein won. The judge held that the statute of limitations had expired which did, indeed, preclude his prosecution.
End of story.
Of course there’s more to the story. Not much more. Just the final sentence. But what a final sentence!
The whole story was a four hundred fifty-three word set up to a six-word pun. A wonderful pun. No, I’m not going to tell you what that pun was. You’ll have to read, and enjoy, it for yourself. But I will share with you Dr. Asimov’s footnote to the story, “If you expect me to apologize for this, you little know your man. I consider a play on words the noblest form of wit, so there!”
I knew there was a reason I liked his stories.
So yes, inveterate punster that I am, I can appreciate the story for the shaggy dog story that it was. Unfortunately, I can’t appreciate it for what it wasn’t, namely an accurate portrayal of the law on the statute of limitations. The story suggests that Judge Preston may “have been swayed in his way of thinking by the irresistible impulse to phrase his decision as he did.” Maybe, but I hope not. That would make Judge Preston a particularly bad judge for ignoring the law just to make a pun. I pepper my prose with more puns than is prudent, but I don’t misstate the law, just so I can make a pun.
Statutes of limitations are statutes (you probably guessed that from the name) which prevent the government from charging a person with a crime, if the prosecution is not started within a certain time period. Basically from the time the crime is committed or discovered, a statute of limitation clock starts ticking. Say the statute of limitations for the crime is seven years (as it was in “Loint of Paw”), then if the state does not bring the criminal to trial within seven years, it cannot bring the criminal to trial at all.
The reason behind the statute of limitations is that over time, witness memories fade. If that period of time happens to be a number of years, said memories tend to fade a lot. Moreover during those passing years, important evidence could be lost or necessary witnesses become unavailable because they moved or died or lost their minds binging Tiger King. So bringing a defendant to trial beyond the statute could well subject said defendant to an unfair trial in which the defendant could not defend him or herself.
“A Loint of Paw” was set in New York state, where, according to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 30.10(2)(b), the statute of limitations is five years. The story indicates that the statute of limitations is seven years, not five. But the story is set in the years 3004 and 3011. I’m assuming that in the 983 years between now and Mr. Stein’s crime, New York amended the law to expand the limitation period to 7 years. (A safe assumption; when has a legislative body ever left anything well enough alone?)
Anyway, if New York didn’t commence its prosecution of Montie Stein within the seven years set out in the statute of limitations, it couldn’t prosecute him at all. As Montie was traveling through, as the story put it, the Fourth Dimension, for seven years and one day – one day beyond the NY statute of limitations – it is obvious that New York didn’t bring Montie to trial within those seven years.
So Judge Preston was correct in ruling that New York couldn’t prosecute Montie, right?
You probably know me well enough by now to realize that was a trick question and the answer is no. But why is the answer no? Ah— there’s the stuff that columns are made on.
According to the story, some people believed Judge Preston came to the decision he reached, because he wanted to phrase his decision in the form of a pun. But whatever the reason, when Judge Preston made his ruling, he only applied the first part of the statute of limitations statute and completely ignored the whole second part of the statute.
Was that part of the statute important? Does a bear get fit in the woods?
CPL § 30.10(4)(a), the all-important second part of the statute – well, all important to everyone other than Judge Preston – reads, “Any period following the commission of the offense during which (I) the defendant was continuously outside this state or (ii) the whereabouts of the defendant were continuously unknown and continuously unascertainable by the exercise of reasonable diligence, is not included in the statutory limitation time period (emphasis added).” What does this mean? Basically, it means that if the defendant goes on the lam or hides, the statute of limitations is tolled and all of the time the defendant spends lamming or hiding doesn’t count against the government.
Tolling the statute of limitations is something smart states write into their statute of limitations laws. It’s something that even dumb states write into their statutes. It prevents criminals from fleeing the jurisdiction and hiding in a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States, like Nogivebacistan, then claim the statutory time had run out while they were literally unavailable to the court.
In the same way, the seven years and one day in which Montie Stein was, by his lawyer’s own admission, “hiding in time” – hiding in the Fourth Dimension – would constitute time in which Stein was “continuously outside” New York and in which his “whereabouts… were continuously unknown and… unascertainable.”
By going into the Fourth Dimension, Montie Stein tolled the running of the statute of limitations. Tolled it for all seven years and one day during which he was in the Fourth Dimension. The ticking clock had stopped ticking and didn’t start ticking again until Montie came out of the Fourth Dimension.
Not only had the statutory period not expired, the state actually had all seven years of it left to it. The state could have let Montie rot in jail for six years just to get back at him for being a dick and then brought him to trial without implicating the statute of limitations.
Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t commit a crime then go hide for several years and think that when you come out of hiding, you can’t be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out. That plan won’t work and I don’t want to have to be an I tolled you so.