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REVIEW: Birds of Prey

REVIEW: Birds of Prey

I pity Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn for not being able to find its audience, having the misfortune of opening just as the pandemic entered the news. Shunted to streaming, it’s languished and honestly, it’s entertaining and fun.

It’s not as good as anticipated.

Long in development, the movie was the brainchild of Margot Robbie, who immortalized the live-action version in 2016’s Suicide Squad misfire. Her role was largely inspired on the New 52/Rebirth take on the character, more Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti than Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. She was certainly the best thing about the movie so a spinoff featuring her and some of DC Comics’ other heroines sounded great.

She bonded with screenwriter Christina Hodson, best known for her solid work on Bumblebee (and credited as the writer of the still unfilmed Flash), and they crafted a gonzo story that picked up where the other film ended, hence the “emancipation” portion of the mouthful of a title.

Harley Quinn has severed her ties with the Joker and is adrift, wallowing in self-pity, leaving a trail of destruction on a large scale. A regular at the Black Mask Club, run by Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), she befriends Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a torch singer turned Sionis’ personal driver. She’s on hand to witness Sionis’ thug Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) picking up a valuable diamond, only to have it snatched from him by the teen thief Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Elsewhere, Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) is investigating Harley’s actions while a female vigilante (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is killing criminals. And we’re off.

The diamond is the magnetic McGuffin that brings the women together to oppose Sionis and his criminal forces climaxing in an amazing battle at an abandoned Fun House.

Review: ‘Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey’

The various women all get their backstories told in various flashbacks and Hodson gets credit for playing with the story structure so we’re getting multiple points of view, flashbacks, and voiceovers (with Harley not the most reliable of narrators). Still, we learn Dinah is the daughter of Black Canary who, we gather, was protecting Gotham City before Batman arrived. The entire sense of legacy is cool but tossed of in a line and never picked up so we never fully understand Dinah’s reluctance to embrace her sonic powers and fighting skills.

Cassandra is there in name only, serving the fans and doing a massive disservice to the fans of her four-color source. What we have here is closer to a female Short Round with a potty mouth.

As underwritten as the women are, the men are worse off with Szasz, a deadly opponent in the comics, is reduced to being a sidekick thug who never comes off as menacing. Sionis’ comics origins were creepier and he was far more threatening in comics than here. McGregor was miscast or misdirected because he never rises to a true threat or memorable screen villain. At best, he’s a wanna-be Bond villain, at worst, he’s just boring.

Gotham City’s edges are the focal point of the story but Gotham, when well-used, is a character in its own right and the film’s production design fails to accomplish this until we get the final quarter, both at the amusement park and then at a pier. Until then, it’s a generic city which is not Gotham, home to the Bat. His presence gets a shout out but never seems to influence the cops or the criminals.

Where the film excels is energy, with some of the best stunts and action sequences yet found in a super-hero film. Kudos to the stunt team and the actors who just let it rip and looked like they were having a ball.

Director Cathy Yan gets credit for bringing a loose sense of verve to the proceedings but I wish a little more care went into characterization and its place in the greater DC filmed universe.  She and Robbie hope for a sequel with Poison Ivy, which could be fun, but the box office forecast makes that an iffy proposition at best.

The movie can be rent or bought on your favorite streaming service. The copy reviewed via MoviesAnywhere.com nicely captured the range of colors and tones from daylight to foggy night. The audio at home was just fine so overall, watching from the home screen wasn’t an issue.

The film is accompanied by a routine assortment of special features which, light the film,  keep things bright and always on the surface: Birds Eye View Mode, the entire film with pop up trivia and commentary offering some interesting tidbits and insights; Whip it Real Good (:55), a shorter version of the Skating piece; Birds of a Feather (8:26), everyone gushes; Romanesque (4:57), a look at Roman Sionis; A Love, Skate Relationship (4:29), a brief look at the real world roller derby women who participated in the film and the stunts on wheels; Grime and Crime (10:38), exploring the production design; Sanity is sooo last Season (7:39), a look at costumes and accessories; Wild Nerds (6:03), all about the unusual approach to storytelling including the visual effects, notably scenes with Bruce the hyena; and Gag Reel (2:02).

Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen Arrive Home in APril

Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen Arrive Home in April

Get lit in the stylish ensemble caper, THE GENTLEMEN, a star-studded, sophisticated action-comedy written and directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch). This engaging and unpredictable film is available now on Digital, lighting up on On Demand April 14, 2020 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on April 21, 2020, from STXfilms and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Set in the underworld cannabis industry in London, Ritchie makes a grand return to his signature, kinetic style, enthralling and surprising audiences with every scene, made even more dynamic by the performances of its star-powered ensemble cast. The home release includes exclusive bonus content bringing audiences deeper into the provocative world of the film.

THE GENTLEMEN follows American expat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club), who built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business forever, it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his lucrative domain out from under him.

Featuring an all-star cast, THE GENTLEMEN stars Oscar® winner McConaughey, alongside Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy), Golden Globe® nominee Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey, Good Behavior), Golden Globe® winner Colin Farrell (The Lobster, In Bruges), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Golden Globe® winner Hugh Grant (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Love Actually), Jeremy Strong (Succession, Molly’s Game) and Eddie Marsan (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Atomic Blonde).

BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY™️, DVD & DIGITAL:

  • Behind-the-Scenes of THE GENTLEMEN – Get up close with the talented cast of THE GENTLEMEN as they give an inside look at the making of the film and share their experiences working with legendary director Guy Ritchie.
  • Best Gentlemanly Quips – A selection of some of the funniest lines from THE GENTLEMEN that spotlights the witty writing behind the film.
  • Glossary of Cannabis – Viewers are given a fun educational montage highlighting the numerous nicknames of Marijuana shown throughout the film.
  • Photo Gallery

THE GENTLEMEN will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray™️ , Blu-ray™️  and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD will include all bonus features on the Blu-ray™️ disc.

  • 4K Ultra HD is the ultimate movie watching experience. 4K Ultra HD features the combination of 4K resolution for four times sharper picture than HD, the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR) with immersive audio delivering a multidimensional sound experience.
  • 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.
  • Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.

FILMMAKERS:
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan with Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant
Casting by: Lucinda Syson
Music Composed by: Christopher Benstead
Make-up and Hair Designer: Christine Blundell
Edited by: James Herbert
Costume Designer: Michael Wilkinson
Production Designer: Gemma Jackson
Director of Photography: Alan Stewart
Co-Producer: Max Keene
Executive Producers: Bob Osher, Matthew Anderson, Andrew Golov, Alan Wands, Robert Simonds, Adam Fogelson
Produced by: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Bill Block
Story by: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson & Marn Davies
Screenplay by: Guy Ritchie
Directed by: Guy Ritchie

TECHNICAL INFORMATION – 4K ULTRA HD:
Street Date: April 21, 2020
Selection Number:  64211369
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Layers: BD-66
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 16:9 2.39:1
Video: 2160p UHD HDR10 Widescreen 2.39:1
Rating: Rated R for violence, language throughout, sexual references and drug content
Sound: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Language/Subtitles: English SDH and Latin American Spanish Subtitles

TECHNICAL INFORMATION BLU-RAY™️:
Street Date: April 21, 2020
Selection Number: 64209711
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Layers: BD-50
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 16:9 2.39:1
Rating: Rated R for violence, language throughout, sexual references and drug content
Sound: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Language/Subtitles: English SDH and Latin American Spanish Subtitles

TECHNICAL INFORMATION DVD:
Street Date: April 21, 2020
Selection Number: 64209710
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Layers: DVD 9
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 16:9 2.39:1
Rating: Rated R for violence, language throughout, sexual references and drug content
Sound: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Language/Subtitles: English SDH and Latin American Spanish Subtitles

Lego DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters is Coming in June

Lego DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters is Coming in June

BURBANK, CA (April 6, 2020) – Youth, truth and trust are central to the latest brick-tastic adventure when DC’s Justice League welcomes its newest – and youngest – member in LEGO® DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters, an all-new, full-length animated feature film in the LEGO DC series. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, DC and the LEGO Group, the film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting April 28, 2020, and on Blu-rayTM Combo Pack ($24.98 SRP) and DVD ($19.98 SRP) on June 16, 2020.

LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack (USA $24.98 SRP; Canada $29.98 SRP) and DVD (USA $19.98 SRP: Canada $24.98 SRP) as well as on Digital. The Blu-ray Combo Pack features a Blu-ray disc with the film in hi-definition, a DVD with the film in standard definition, and a digital version of the movie. The Blu-rayTM Combo Pack and DVD releases of LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters feature an exclusive LEGO Minifigure of Shazam (while supplies last).

In LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters, 10-year-old Billy Batson shouts a single word and, with lightning bolts flashing, he transforms into Shazam!, a full-fledged adult Super Hero. It doesn’t take long for Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and the rest of the Justice League to take notice and invite the earnest do-gooder to join the team. But to become a member, Billy must reveal his true identity. While fighting off the evil Mr. Mind and Black Adam, Billy learns that he must trust others – and that nothing creates trust like helping those in need. Join the good fight with this giant-sized LEGO DC adventure!

Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Goonies) leads a stellar cast as the voice of title character Shazam. Astin is joined by Troy Baker (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman: Arkham Origins) as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Nolan North (Young Justice, Pretty Little Liars) as Superman/Clark Kent & Alfred, Grey Griffin (Scooby-Doo franchise, DC Super Hero Girls) as Wonder Woman & Lois Lane, Christina Milizia (Bunsen is a Beast) as Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Close Wars) as The Flash & Dummy, Imari Williams (Transformers: Rescue Bots) as Black Adam & Teth Adam, Fred Tatasciore (Batman Ninja) as Lobo & Oom, Ralph Garman (Family Guy) as the Wizard, Zach Callison (Steven Universe) as Billy Batson & Jimmy Olsen, Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad) as Jeepers, Dr. Sivana & Crocodile Man, Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect franchise) as Mary Batson & L.N. Ambassador, Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) as The Penguin & Perry White, Jonny Rees (The Lion Guard) as Mr. Mind, Erica Lindbeck (DC Super Hero Girls) as Greeter & Farmer, and Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man) as Executive & Terrance.

LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters is produced by Rick Morales (LEGO Scooby-Doo!: Haunted Hollywood) and directed by Matt Peters (LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Aquaman – Rage of Atlantis) from a script by Jeremy Adams (Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans). Liz Marshall (Unikitty!) is producer and Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham By Gaslight) is co-producer. Sam Register and Jason Cosler & Jill Wilfert are executive producers.

“LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters brings another beloved Super Hero into the Justice League fold, perfectly spotlighting his magical abilities and strength with his kid-empowering attitude to create a terrific match for action-packed LEGO fun,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Senior Vice President, Originals, Animation and Family Marketing.

LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters Special Features (Previously Released)

Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD

From the Warner Bros. Animation vault:

  • Teen Titans Go! episode: “Little Elvis”
  • Unikitty! episode: “Spoooooky Game”
  • Unikitty! episode: “Pool Duel”

LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.

BASICS

PRODUCT                                                       SRP

Blu-ray Combo Pack                                     $24.98 USA, $29.98 Canada

DVD                                                                 $19.98 USA, $24.98 Canada

Blu-ray Languages: English, French – Parisian, Spanish-Latin, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish

Blu-ray Subtitles: English, French-Parisian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish

DVD Languages: English, Portuguese-Brazilian, Spanish-Latin, French-Parisian

DVD Subtitles: English, French-Parisian, Portuguese-Brazilian, Chinese, Korean

Running Time: 81 minutes

REVIEW: The Current War The Director’s Cut

REVIEW: The Current War The Director’s Cut

REVIEW: The Current War The Director’s CutI 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.

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island Arrives on Disc Unrated, Theatrical

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island Arrives on Disc Unrated, Theatrical

SYNOPSIS
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)

SPECS
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

Diamond stops taking new comics shipments

Diamond stops taking new comics shipments

Diamond stops taking new comics shipments

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 1st or 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.

Thank You,

Steve Geppi

REVIEW: The Current War The Director’s Cut

The Current War Charges for Home March 31

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:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • 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.
  • Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.
  • MOVIES ANYWHERE is the digital app that simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-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

REVIEW: 1917

REVIEW: 1917

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 to Release New Look at Batman ’66

Crazy 8 Press to Release New Look at Batman ’66

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.

For more information, visit Crazy8Press.com.

REVIEW: Superman: Red Son

REVIEW: Superman: Red Son

REVIEW: Superman: Red SonThe 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).

Superman: Red Son review: A refreshing revisionist rendition of a Russian Man of SteelThe 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.

Batman Kills More People in New Superman: Red Son ClipIt’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”.