Director Jordan Peele made quite a splash with Get Out and then reinterpreted The Twilight Zone for a new generation. He continues that genre exploration with the creepy Us, which chilled audiences earlier this year.
The home video release is Tuesday and our friends at Universal Home Entertainment have provided us with a Blu-ray copy of the film for one lucky reader.
Peele said he made this film in part because doppelgangers are a personal fear. Tell us what spooks you, keeps you up at night, has you preoccupied. Post your personal terrors no later than 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, June 18. The contest is open to North America readers only and the decision of ComicMix‘s judges will be final.
BURBANK, CA (June 12, 2019) – Just in time for the fifth season premiere on The CW, catch up with one of TV’s favorite DC Super Heroes as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings you Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray and DVD on September 17, 2019. Fans can purchase the sets which, in addition to all 22 super-powered episodes from season four, also contain the DC Crossover featurette, the show’s 2018 Comic-Con panel, deleted scenes and a gag reel! All three DC Crossover: Elseworlds episodes will also be available only for fans who purchase the Blu-ray set. Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season is priced to own at $39.99 SRP for the DVD ($51.99 in Canada) and $44.98 SRP for the Blu-ray ($52.99 in Canada), which includes a Digital Copy (Available in the U.S.). Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season is also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.
In season four, Supergirl faces a bigger threat than she’s ever faced before – a new wave of anti-alien sentiment, spreading across National City that’s fomented by Agent Liberty. As Kara mentors a new reporter at CatCo, Nia Nal, and tries to use the power of the press to shine a light on the issues threatening to tear the city apart, Supergirl takes to the skies to battle the many villains who rise up in this era of divisiveness. But how does Supergirl battle a movement when she, herself an alien, represents one of the main things people are fearful of?
“After four strong seasons, Supergirl continues to develop a strong fan following and soars in the ratings,” said Rosemary Markson, WBHE Senior Vice President, Television Marketing. “We’re excited to release the Blu-ray and DVD with in-depth bonus content in addition to the 22 action-packed episodes. Fans and newcomers alike can catch up on all their favorite moments from season four and prepare for the highly anticipated fifth season of this hit series.”
With Blu-ray’s unsurpassed picture and sound, Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray release will include 1080p Full HD Video with DTS-HD Master Audio for English 5.1. In addition to featuring all 22 episodes from the fourth season in high-definition, as well as a digital copy of the season (Available in the U.S.), the 4-disc Blu-ray will also include all three crossover episodes, a tremendous value and collectors’ opportunity.
Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist (Glee), Mehcad Brooks (About Last Night, Necessary Roughness), Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy), Katie McGrath (Jurassic World, Merlin), Jesse Rath (Defiance, No Tomorrow), Sam Witwer (Being Human, Smallville), Nicole Maines (Royal Pains), April Parker Jones (Jericho) and David Harewood (Homeland, The Night Manager). Based on the DC characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family, Supergirl is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller.
BLU-RAY & DVD FEATURES
The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panel San Diego 2018
Inside the Crossover: Elseworlds
Villains: Modes of Persuasion
DVD: 22 ONE-HOUR EPISODES
Man of Steel
Call to Action
Rather the Fallen Angel
Elseworlds: Hour Three
What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?
Stand and Deliver
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The House of L
All About Eve
Crime and Punishment
Will the Real Miss Tessmacher Please Stand Up?
The Quest for Peace
BLU-RAY: 22 ONE-HOUR EPISODES + 2 FULL CROSSOVER EPISODES
Man of Steel
Call to Action
Rather the Fallen Angel
Elseworlds: Hour One
Elseworlds: Hour Two
Elseworlds: Hour Three
What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?
Stand and Deliver
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The House of L
All About Eve
Crime and Punishment
Will the Real Miss Tessmacher Please Stand Up?
The Quest for Peace
The fourth season of Supergirl is also currently available to own on Digital. Digital allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital is available from various retailers including iTunes, Amazon Video, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. A Digital Copy is also included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs for redemption and cloud storage (Available in the U.S.).
SANTA MONICA, CA (June 11, 2019) – It’s time to give evil some hell when Hellboy arrives on Digital July 9 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital), Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand July 23 from Lionsgate. Based on Mike Mignola’s smash-hit comic book series from Dark Horse and written for the screen by Andrew Cosby (TV’s “Eureka”), the horrifying vision filled with monsters and mayhem is directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) and stars Golden Globe® nominee David Harbour (2018, Best Supporting Actor – Drama Series, “Stranger Things”) as the iconic half-demon superhero, Hellboy. “A horrifyingly good time” (William Bibbiani, TheWrap), the film also stars Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil franchise, The Fourth Kind), Golden Globe® winner Ian McShane (2005, Best Actor – Drama, “Deadwood”), Sasha Lane (American Honey), Daniel Dae Kim (TV’s “Lost,” TV’s “Hawaii Five-O,” Insurgent), and Academy Award® nominee Thomas Haden Church (2004, Best Supporting Actor, Sideways). Additionally, the film features the talents of Academy Award®-winning special effects makeup artist Joel Harlow (2010, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Star Trek) and world-renowned prosthetics artist Norman Cabrera (Planet of the Apes, TV’s “The Walking Dead”), bringing Mignola’s wise-cracking demon and other creepy creatures to life.
Hellboy is back,
and he’s on fire. From the pages of Mike Mignola’s seminal work, this
action-packed story sees the legendary half-demon superhero (David Harbour)
called to the English countryside to battle a trio of rampaging giants. There
he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich), a resurrected ancient
sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal. Suddenly caught in a clash
between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy is now hell-bent on stopping
Nimue without triggering the end of the world.
Take home Hellboy and delve into his world with exclusive special features, including a three-part documentary, never-before-seen deleted scenes, and more! Experience four times the resolution of full HD with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes Dolby Vision® HDR, bringing entertainment to life through ultra-vivid picture quality. When compared to a standard picture, Dolby Vision can deliver spectacular colors never before seen on a screen, highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are 10 times darker. Additionally, the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack features Dolby Atmos® audio mixed specifically for the home, to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead The Hellboy 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack,Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $42.99, $39.99, and $29.95, respectively.
4K UHD / BLU-RAY / DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
“Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn” (3-Part
Previously on ComicMix, we mentioned talked about how friend of ComicMIx and legendary comics creator Mike Grell makes an appearance in the latest movie that the RIfftrax crew did live, Star Raiders. While it’s no Space Mutiny (and really, what is?), Star Raiders has a lot to offer. I’ll be getting into that in the next paragraph though, so bare with me.
For those not in the know, Star Raiders is a Casper Van Dien starring science fiction romp put together with a modest budget. Though principle photography was finished in 2014, the team went to Kickstarter in 2016 to help offset the post production costs that ended up $40,000 over budget. Earlier this year, Star Raiders would appear on Kickstarter again through Rifftrax for their 2019 live riffing roster and to celebrate 10 years of Rifftrax.
Okay, okay, but what do I think about the movie? I was just getting to that I promise!
Basically, Casper Van Dien plays this guy Saber Raine who looks and acts kind of like Mal from Firefly and has to save this prince and princess who ended up getting captured by ancient bad people who have a plot at getting revenge because people were mean to them a while ago. There’s a bunch of other characters that do things sometimes, and a betrayal in the third act that feels pretty forced, and then a bunch of explosions, the heroes win, and they set up a sequel that we probably weren’t going to be getting, but now with the Rifftrax attention maybe that’ll be on the table.
The movie itself feels like a Sylvester McCoy era Doctor Who serial done today. Like, really, the special effects, the costumes, the filming locations, all of it seems about that quality. There were a few times that I genuinely thought I was watching the three parter Delta and the Bannerman. I wish they leaned more into how cheesy and campy it all was.
Honestly, one of the highlights in the movie was Mike Grell’s small role in it.
For Mike Grell’s acting debut, he plays the character of Jax Grymm (yes, we know, GrimJack), who steals the show for a precious couple of minutes when Casper Van Dien goes to him asking for help. The moment does feel like it could of been in Firefly or Blake’s 7 where a couple of morally questionable individuals are trying to work out a deal as you wait for one (or both) of them to double-cross each other. Everyone makes it out alive in this scene, however, so perhaps this means we’ll get more Jax Grymm if they ever make the sequel they tease at the end.
While this movie fails to deliver on its promise of the high adventure serials that it pulls inspiration from, it definitely delivers for the low budget sci-fi junkie crowd. If you’re into SyFy Channel Original Movies, this could make for some good Sunday afternoon watching.
If you’re watching this with Rifftrax, that’s another story.
This is one of the stronger Rifftrax Live events I’ve gone to recently. There are few if any boring lulls in the film like Octoman which gives our riffers Mike, Bill, and Kevin a lot to work with here. And like the best of MST3K and Rifftrax, they create a through-line with jokes going back to Casper Van Dien’s career having led him here and poor Gary getting killed all the time that honestly just never get old.
I highly recommend you check out the Rifftrax for this if you haven’t already. After it’s done showing in theaters, you can purchase it right on their website. For those braver souls out there reading this, you can check out the movie without Rifftrax on Amazon Prime.
Los Angeles, June 11, 2019 – Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents MISSING LINK, arriving on Digital July 9 and Blu-ray and DVD July 23.
Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Zach Galifianakis lead an all-star voice cast in this globetrotting adventure from LAIKA, the makers of Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. Hugh Jackman is Sir Lionel Frost, a brave and dashing adventurer who considers himself to be the world’s foremost investigator of myths and monsters. The trouble is no one else seems to agree. Zach Galifianakis is Mr. Link. As species go, he’s as endangered as they get; he’s possibly the last of his kind, he’s lonely, and he believes that Sir Lionel is the one man alive who can help him. Along with the independent and resourceful Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), who possesses the only known map to the group’s secret destination, the unlikely trio embarks on a riotous rollercoaster ride of a journey to seek out Link’s distant relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La.
MISSING LINK Blu-ray™ and DVD Bonus Features Include: • Commentary by Chris Butler • Creating Mr. Link • Bringing the Final Battle on the Ice Bridge to Life • Animation Inspiration w/optional Commentary by Chris Butler • VFX Breakdown Reel – Realizing the Potential of Stop Motion • Oh What a Mystery: Pulling the Camera Back on Missing Link’s Magic • Making Faces • Inside the Magic of Laika • Gallery x 24 Images
MISSING LINK Blu-ray™ and DVD Specifications: Street Date: July 23, 2019 Pre-Book: June 19, 2019 Screen Format: Widescreen 2.39:1 Audio: Blu-ray™: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1/ Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish Total Run Time: 94 Minutes U.S. Rating: PG (Action/Peril And Some Mild Rude Humor) Closed Captioned: Yes
Surprising to some, Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have some commonalities. After all, the half-shell heroes were initially created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird as a parody of Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil, before coming to DC and turning his talents to The Dark Knight. Both properties work best in the shadows and had the producers of this animated adventure leaned into that, this could have been a cut above an obvious cash grab.
The participants have met before, in three miniseries from DC Comics and IDW in addition to one strictly set in their “Adventures” incarnations, aimed more at all-ages readers. Now, we have Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a briskly paced story. It’s not bad, but boy, it could have been so much more had anyone made an effort.
The versus portion of the story is the most obvious bit of fan service since time immemorial has required crossovers to begin with a fight before a partnership can begin. The Foot Clan arrives in Gotham City for nefarious purposes and gets discovered by Batgirl (Rachel Bloom) just before Leonardo (Eric Bauza), Donatello (Baron Vaughn), Raphael (Darren Criss), and Michelangelo (Kyle Mooney) arrive. As usual, they are on the trail of Shredder (Andrew Kishino) and the next target is, of course Wayne Enterprises. Enter: Batman (Troy Baker) and Robin (Ben Giroux). Mix, repeat.
And if the usual felons arrive for one team, surely we must have equal villains for the other so toss in The Penguin (Tom Kenny), Mr. Freeze John DiMaggio), Two-Face (Keith Ferguson), Ra’s al Ghul (Cas Anvar), Scarecrow (Jim Meskimen0, and of course, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (both Tara Strong). All of these are underutilized which is s shame since the turtles versus the rogues could have been as interesting as watching the Caped Crusader face off against Shredder.
This works when your young viewer knows both properties because introductions and backgrounds are the least concern to writer Marly Halpern-Graser and director Jake Castorena. Instead, it’s to keep things upbeat and moving for 84 colorful minutes. One thing rising above the sameness is Kevin Riepl’s score.
The film is out in a variety of formats including the 4k Ultra HD/Blu-ray/ Digital HD combo pack, which was reviewed. The 2160p transfer works best with the colors and is acceptable all around, just not stunning. The Blu-ray actually might work a little better for overall balance. The audio is more than up to the task, just not in a noteworthy way.
In keeping with the same old feel of the main feature, the special features continue that with perfunctory features starting with Cowabunga Batman! When Comic Book Worlds Collide (12:31), Fight Night in Gotham (18:06); and A Sneak Peek at Batman: Hush (9:18). That’s it no extra cartoons from either property or anything about their comic book meetings, which is a shame.
It’s nice to know Daredevil paid attention. I just wish he had stayed for the whole lecture.
For as long as there have been costumed heroes, there’s been the problem of what do those heroes do with the bad guys after the heroes catch them. Mostly they just left the bad guys behind for the police to arrest and hoped that the criminal justice system would sort it all out. As I have mentioned in the past, that wouldn’t work.
When the costumed hero was the only witness to the bad guys’ badness – as was frequently the case – the criminal justice system would need the costumed hero to testify. And that could be problematic. Problematic? Compared to that task, booking Alexander Hamilton himself to join the touring national company of Hamilton is just problematic.
Nevertheless, in Daredevil Vol 5 #22, Matt Murdock, Daredevil’s secret identity and an assistant district attorney, devised a plan by which masked heroes could testify without taking off their masks. His first step was to have Daredevil testify at the trial of Simon Slugansky, AKA Slug.
(Wait, wasn’t there already a Marvel villain, Ulysses X. Lugman, who went by the sobriquet Slug? We really have run through all the good names when we’ve got people claim jumping Slug?)
I’ll spare you the long-winded legal arguments that went down in the case, mostly because the story spared us those arguments. It didn’t actually tell us what arguments Matt made to convince a court that having a masked super hero testify didn’t violate the Sixth Amendment’s right of confrontation. All it did was play coy lip service to the arguments with lines like, “You like the section that responds to your Rovario argument and the U.S. v. Sanchez argument is particularly clever as well.”
So the story knew enough to know that Rovario and Sanchez were leading cases on the question of whether an anonymous witness may testify without revealing his or her identity but not enough to know what arguments could be raised to counter their holdings. That’s kind of like knowing that two plus two equals, without knowing what it equals.
All we know is that after an in-chambers hearing, the judge presiding over the case came out and said, “The prosecution has convinced me that the man who wears this mask is not anonymous. In fact he is very well known. He is Daredevil. We know his powers and his long-standing stance against crime. He has helped this city and this world in countless ways. Various courts have affirmed the idea that under certain circumstances, witnesses can offer confidential testimony – the Seventh Circuit, even the U.S. Supreme Court. In my view, Daredevil satisfies these conditions.”
Which is where I call BS, even though BS is usually called something a little bit stronger. It is true some courts have held that witnesses may testify while concealing their identities from the jury, the defendant, and their attorneys. In the 1987 espionage trial of Clayton Lonetree, the courts agreed to let a government intelligence agent testify without revealing his true identity to the defendant or his attorneys. In 2008, a Chicago court allowed Israeli intelligence officers to testify against a man accused of aiding Hamas without revealing their identities to the defendant or his attorney. But here’s the thing, in each of those cases, the witnesses testified confidentially but not anonymously. I say not anonymously, because somebody knew the witnesses’ real names.
In order to balance the prosecution’s need of the confidential witness with the defense’s right to cross-examine the witnesses, courts have required that before it would allow a witness to testify without revealing his or her identity to defense counsel, people who knew the witness’s true identity answer some preliminary questions about possible impeachment information. Information such as, Has the witness ever been convicted of a felony? Does the witness hold a bias in this case that would affect his or her testimony? In this way, the prosecution could protect its witness, but the defense would get some of what it needed for cross-examination.
So when the judge ruled that Daredevil was not an anonymous witness, the judge was just wrong. The court, the attorneys, the jury and the public at large might know what Daredevil stood for and how many times he helped the city or the planet. However, Daredevil was still an anonymous witness, because after the Purple Children used their mind control powers to make everyone forget Daredevil’s secret identity, no one knew who Daredevil was. Which meant that the prosecution could not supply Mr. Baden, Slug’s defense attorney, with any information which Baden had a right to know so that he could cross-examine Daredevil.
Had Daredevil ever been convicted of a felony? Who knows. Certainly not the state. Was Daredevil secretly dating Slug’s ex-girlfriend so had a personal reason to want to see Slug behind bars? Your guess is as good as mine and probably better than Baden’s. However, Baden shouldn’t have had to guess, he and Slug had a constitutional right to know the answers before Daredevil ever took his oath.
I think the judge was wrong in allowing Daredevil to testify when no one knew who he was or what impeaching information might exist in his background. The trial court didn’t agree with me – but after twenty-eight years as a public defender I’m more than a little used to trial courts not agreeing with my opinion, even when my opinion was correct. In fact, I’m a lot used to it.
So the trial court ruled that Daredevil could testify as long as he could prove that he was actually Daredevil under his red costume and mask. How a masked super hero would actually prove that he was who he claimed to be under that mask is something I actually covered in my very first column back in 1983. A column you can read again in – here comes the plug – The Law Is a Ass: All Rise, a recently-published book that collects my first twenty columns and which you can buy right here.
Was Daredevil able to convince the judge that he actually was Daredevil under that costume and testify against Slug? I don’t have the room left in this column to answer that question. So be with us next time for “Who Was that Masked Man?” or “Witless For the Prosecution.”
Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are certainly familiar with RiffTrax, where MST3K alumni Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett pick on cheesy movies (the worst they can find, la la la) by creating play along audio files and occasionally taking their show on the road, doing live events that are beamed to theaters all around the country.
It’s the year 2762. The galaxy is plagued with warring factions using hokey special effects to destroy each other. Out of this chaos a hero rises: the dashing, exquisitely bearded Captain Saber Raine (Casper Van Dien). Saber and his elite squad of commandos (other actors) embark on a dangerous quest to save the Prince and Princess of an unnamed planet from the clutches of the Evil Overlord Sinjin – an overlord so evil HIS VERY SKULL IS FILLED WITH CHERRY JELL-O.
Can our heroes fend off Sinjin’s army of mutant androids and rescue the Prince and Princess? Probably! After all it’s Space Opera, but you never know!
Now normally, even though we love the RiffTrax guys, this wouldn’t necessarily generate a mention on ComicMix. But this one is special. Because this movie also features, as one of the other actors, Mike Grell.
Yes, that Mike Grell, famed of Green Arrow, Warlord, Iron Man, Legion of Super-Heroes, and our own Jon Sable Freelance, playing a character name Jax Grymm. (If this reminds you of GrimJack, well…)
Take a look at the full trailer and see if you can spot him, starting around 48 seconds…
You can order tickets for tonight and June 11th at RiffTrax. And if you’re strong enough, you can also stream the movie on Amazon Prime.
BURBANK, CA, June 4, 2019 – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that 1984’s Gremlins will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on October 1. Directed by Joe Dante (Innerspace, The ‘Burbs) and written by Chris Columbus (The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes), the film stars Zach Galligan as Billy Peltzer, Phoebe Cates as Kate Beringer, and Hoyt Axton and Randall Peltzer, along with the voices of Frank Welker as Stripe and Howie Mandel as Gizmo.
Gremlins was produced by Michael Finnell and executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Steven Spielberg.
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.
Gremlins will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $41.99 SRP 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 Gremlins in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on October 1st.
Gremlins is a wildly original roller-coaster ride of hilarious mischief. One minute your hair will stand on end, the next you’ll hold your sides with laughter at the havoc these supposedly gentle furballs create when the rules surrounding their care and feeding are inadvertently broken one fateful Christmas. Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante, Gremlins unleashes special effects that dazzle and enchant and merriment that lingers in the memory.
Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Elements
Gremlins Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:
Filmmakers’ Commentary with Director Joe Dante, Producer Michael Finnell and Special Effects Artist Chris Walas
Cast Commentary with Director Joe Dante, Zack Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, and Howie Mandel
Gremlins: Behind the Scenes Featurette
Additional Scenes with Commentary
Cute. Clever. Mischievous. Intelligent: Making Gremlins
Gremlins: The Gift of the Mogwai (motion comic)
The Last Gremlin (motion comic)
From Gizmo to Gremlins: Creating the Creatures
Hangin’ with Hoyt on the set of Gremlins
DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS
On October 1, Gremlins 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.
*Digital movies or TV episodes allow fans to watch a digital version of their movie or TV show anywhere, on their favorite devices. Digital movies or TV episodes are included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs. With digital, consumers are able to instantly stream and download movies and TV shows to TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones through retail services like CinemaNow, Flixster Video, Vudu and more. For more information on compatible devices and services go to wb.com/digitalmoviefaq. Consult a digital retailer for details and requirements and for a list of digital-compatible devices.
Ultra HD Blu-ray $41.99*
Standard Street Date: October 1, 2019
EST Street Date: October 1, 2019
Ultra HD Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, Canadian French, Parisian French
Ultra HD Blu-ray Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Canadian French, Parisian French
With the box office less than hoped for, Warner Bros. decided it was time to entice parents and the children who stayed away from the darker Batman Returns. Despite the comic book source material of the late 1980s being grim and gritty, Warner saw the dollar signs after the success of Batman the Animated Series and wanted those younger viewers.
Batman Forever and Batman & Robin are out this week in newly restored 4k UHD editions, part of Warner Home Entertainment’s 30th anniversary salute to Burton’s Batman. That and Batman Returns were reviewed yesterday.
Forever is transitional, keeping a lot of the menace from the previous films and replicating the two villains are better than one formula.
Desiring to go younger, the execs turned from Tim Burton to another visual stylist, Joel Schumacher. He was ordered to lighten things up and finally bring in Robin. Burton, star Michael Keaton, and composer Danny Elfman were out. Schumacher’s two films are therefore considered lesser works, colorful but vapid, wasting some good performances.
What hurt was that the original script by Lee Batchler and Janet Scott Batchler focused heavily on the Riddler and then Two-Face was added and the entire story was revised by Akiva Goldsman. As a result, Two-Face, teased with the introduction of Billy Dee Williams in 1989, is now wasted with an inconsistent performance by Tommy Lee Jones. On the other hand, the addition of Nicole Kidman’s Dr. Chase Meridien was nice, giving the new Bruce Wayne, Val Kilmer, someone to relate with. I always liked Kilmer’s work here and it holds up. Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson, though, was a bit too old and there is a distinct lack of chemistry between the Dynamic Duo. The potential for a much stronger film was there as noted by the many deleted sequences but style won out over substance.
This trend accelerated with 1997’s Batman & Robin, which derailed the franchise for decades and spoiled more comics from being adapted for the screen. Schumacher and Goldsman were back and now the director wanted to pay homage to the ABC series and the work of artist Dick Sprang. The problem is, the audiences of that time, didn’t want that approach and their critical word of mouth, coupled with scathing reviews, made the film reviled. George Clooney, replacing Kilmer, continues to apologize for his charismatic-less performance.
And if two villains were good, three would have to be better, right? Not with the horrible work of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. Vying with him for screen time in this overstuffed production was Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy, which was at least an interesting approach to the character. Totally wasted was Bane (Jeep Swenson), reduced to thoughtless body guard rather than the brilliant tactician as created in the comics. Then you have Alicia Silverstone being shoved into the story as Alfred’s niece so a Batgirl can be added for balance.
None of this is good or works and made the DC staff groan out loud long before the audiences got to see this embarrassment.
Whereas the 2160 high definition upgrade perfectly caught the darker tones on Burton’s films, here, we nicely capture the brilliant colors applied to these films. You might need sunglasses at times, as Schumacher went for brilliance (much as the ABC series did, but that was designed to sell color TVs). On the few occasions when things grew dark, the details are never lost, letting you appreciate this aspect of the production design.
The high-quality care extends to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which nicely captures Elliot Goldenthal’s brand new score, ordered to avoid Elfman’s more somber sounds. Like his predecessor, he included pop tracks which sound just lovely.
Both films are released as combo packs with newly restored Blu-ray discs and Digital HD codes. A box-set of all four will be out in September if you want to consider Christmas gift-giving. All the previous special features are replicated and there are no new pieces, which is a shame.
Batman Forever offers up Audio Commentary: Director Joel Schumacher; Riddle Me This? Why is Batman Forever?; Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Pt. 5 – Reinventing a Hero; Batman Forever: The Heroes; Batman Forever: The Villains; Beyond Batman; Deleted Scenes; “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal; and Theatrical Trailer.
Batman & Robin contains Audio Commentary: Director Joel Schumacher; Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight pt. 6 – Batman Unbound; Batman & Robin: The Heroes; Batman & Robin: The Villains; Beyond Batman; Deleted Scene: Alfred’s Lost Love; Music Videos: “The End is the Beginning is the End” by The Smashing Pumpkins, “Look Into My Eyes” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and “Foolish Games” by Jewel; and Theatrical Trailer.