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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Aquaman

Thor Diakow | posted Wednesday, Mar 27th, 2019

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

March 26, 2019: Aquaman.

Aquaman

SYNOPSIS: The Atlantean child Orin, son to the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman), was abandoned as an infant and left to die; however, he was rescued and raised by a kindly lighthouse keeper. The keeper (Temuera Morrison) adopted the boy as his own son, renaming him Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa). Able to survive the harshest depths of the ocean and on the surface world above, the child of two worlds grew to be a hero to both eventually returning to Atlantis to become their King in addition to being a founding member of the Justice League as Aquaman!

Take a deep dive into the high seas with this thrilling adventure that is brimming with spectacular action and loaded with laughs. Director James Wan, and his entire production team, go ALL IN for this wild ride that represents one of Warner/D.C.’s finest superhero flicks yet. Aquaman is visually vibrant world-building at its best and the Blu-ray is jammed with fascinating features that break down the production process in intricate detail. DON’T MISS IT!

SPECIAL FEATURES:
“Aquaman” 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition contain the following special features:
•Going Deep Into the World of Aquaman
•Becoming Aquaman
•James Wan: World Builder
•Aqua Tech
•Atlantis Warfare
•The Dark Depths of Black Manta
•Heroines of Atlantis
•Villaneous Training
•Kingdoms of the Seven Seas
•Creating Undersea Creatures
•A Match Made in Atlantis
•Scene Study Breakdowns
•Exclusive Sneak Peek of Shazam!

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Mar. 19

Thor Diakow | posted Wednesday, Mar 20th, 2019

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

March 19, 2019: Mary Poppins Returns, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

Mary Poppins Returns

SYNOPSIS: In “Mary Poppins Returns,” Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) — just a child when Mary Poppins first visited 17 Cherry Tree Lane — is now a grown man raising his children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) with help from his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer). Times are tough in Depression-era London but the winds begin to change and the enigmatic governess, whose unique magical skills can turn any ordinary task into a fantastic adventure, enters the lives of the Banks family once again, having not aged a single day. Teaming up with an old friend, Jack, they take the Banks children on a series of whimsical adventures, encountering colourful characters like Mary’s eccentric Cousin Topsy (Streep), Jack’s lovable band of leeries and bank executives William Weatherall Wilkins (Colin Firth) and Mr. Dawes Jr. (Van Dyke) — bringing life, love and laughter back into the home.

While a sequel to the treasured 1964 classic was always going to live in the shadow of its predecessor, this follow-up is an excellent accompaniment to the Julie Andrews version. The movie is full of whimsy and wonder thanks to some dazzling direction from veteran Rob Marshall and one incredible performance from Emily Blunt. The film is also jammed with delightful tunes, foot-stomping dance numbers, and a refreshing mix of old school animation. Mary Poppins Returns is sheer magic from start to finish and more than worthy of its place alongside the original.

BONUS FEATURES:
BLU-RAY & 4K ULTRA HD™:
•Deleted Song—“The Anthropomorphic Zoo” – In this early song sequence, Mary Poppins and the children visit a very special zoo where the humans and animals trade places.
•The Practically Perfect Making of “Mary Poppins Returns” – Join filmmakers and cast on an amazing journey to embrace the legacy of the original film while making a fresh modern sequel.
-Introduction – Filmmakers and cast remember the first Mary Poppins movie and share the thrill of working on “Mary Poppins Returns.”
-“(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” – Discover how the team mined PL Travers’ books for a fresh perspective on a much-loved character. Plus, meet the Banks children!
-“Can You Imagine That?” – Be on location for Mary’s iconic entrance from the sky, and explore the movie’s original songs, inspired by the Sherman Brothers.
-“Nowhere to Go but Up” – Experience being on set with the legendary Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury, and celebrate the joy of choosing the right balloon!
•Seeing Things From a Different Point of View”: The Musical Numbers of “Mary Poppins Returns” – Go behind the scenes and experience the film’s production numbers from a new angle.
-“Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – Led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the cast performs the film’s biggest production number, with dancing lamplighters, bicyclists and more!
-“The Royal Doulton Music Hall” / “A Cover Is Not the Book” – Find out what it takes to create two musical extravaganzas inside an animated world, highlighted by dancing animated penguins!
-“Turning Turtle” – Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy Turvy, played by Meryl Streep, has an unusual house that turns this musical number upside-down.
-“Can You Imagine That?” – Dive under the bubbles with the cast and crew to see how this exuberant number was created.
•Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van Dyke Returns – Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert and Mr. Dawes Sr. in the first film, returns after 54 years to Cherry Tree Lane as Mr. Dawes Jr.
•Practically Perfect Bloopers – There’s nowhere to go but up with the cast and crew in this lighthearted collection of flubs, goofs and prop fails!
•Deleted Scenes
-Leaving Topsy’s – After their visit to Cousin Topsy, Mary, Jack and the children pause to take a look back.
-“Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – The leeries light up the screen in this extended clip from the movie’s biggest musical production.
•Play Movie in Sing-Along Mode – Sing along with all your favorite songs as you watch the movie.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE:
•Play Movie with Audio Commentary – Watch the film with commentary by director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

SYNOPSIS: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. “Spider-Man(TM): Into the Spider-Verse” introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.

The Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature comes home and it’s loaded with delectable bonus features. The achievement of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is staggering for a number of reasons. The animation is simply breathtaking, the action is incredibly well-staged, the vocal talents are so effective, the juggling of the ‘multi-verse’ plotlines is masterfully handled, and the core themes of the story examine some profound social issues and topics, which elevate this film beyond just being another animated superhero flick. Don’t miss this instant classic!

BONUS MATERIALS
•We Are Spider-Man: Exploring and celebrating one of the key themes of the film, We Are Spider-Man takes a deep dive into the diversity of the characters and aspirational core that any person from any gender or cultural background can wear the mask.
•Spider-Verse: A New Dimension: With a stunning visual style and state of the art animation designed to take the viewer into the pages of a comic, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is not only a love letter to comic books but a groundbreaking take on the super hero genre. Hear from the artists and filmmakers who pushed the boundaries of the artform as they discuss their journey.
•The Ultimate Comics Cast: Enjoy this showcase of all of the fan favorite characters featured in the Spider-Verse and the spectacular cast who were chosen to bring them to life.
•A Tribute to Stan Lee & Steve Ditko: Celebrate the amazing legacy and powerful spirit of the creators of Spider-Man.
•The Spider-Verse Super-Fan Easter Egg Challenge: The Spider-Verse is loaded with Easter Eggs, from cameos to comics references. Fans are challenged to find them all!
•Designing Cinematic Comics Characters: A breakdown of all aspects of the character design including costume, movement in animation, and distinct powers for each character.
-Heroes & Hams: Meet the amazing Spider-people of the Spider-Verse.
-Scorpions and Scoundrels: Explore the classic villains who wreak havoc on the Spider-Verse.
•Alternate Universe Mode: In this all-new viewing experience, discover alternate scenes, plotlines, characters, and more with the filmmakers as your guide.
•2 Lyric Videos
-“Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee
-“Familia”  by Nicki Minaj & Anuel AA (feat. Bantu)
•All-New Original Short “Spider-Ham: Caught In a Ham” It’s another normal day for Peter Porker, a.k.a. the Spectacular Spider-Ham, fighting bad guys and loving hot dogs, until a mysterious portal starts messing with the very fabric of his cartoon reality.

4K Ultra HD Disc Includes:
•Feature film presented with High Dynamic Range and Dolby Atmos sound
•Also includes the film and special features on the included high-def Blu-ray

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Mar. 12

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2019

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

March 12, 2019: Green Book, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Green Book

Academy Award nominee for his roles in Captain Fantastic and Eastern Promises, Viggo Mortensen, and Academy Award winner for Moonlight, Mahershala Ali, star in Green Book, a film inspired by a true friendship that transcended race, class, and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line. When Tony Lip (Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on The Green Book to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Confronted with racism, danger as well as unexpected humanity and humor—they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.

For starters, this movie won three Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Ali), Best Original Screenplay) so it should probably be seen for that reason alone! Say what you will about the film’s simplistic handling of complex themes, but Green Book is a highly engaging buddy comedy-drama with stellar performances and some strongly-edited narrative momentum. While it doesn’t cover a lot of new ground when it comes to racial examination in cinema, Green Book remains an admirable slice of history wrapped up in an entertaining and accessible little package.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Virtuoso Performances– Go behind the scenes with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as they discuss their characters and the lengths they went to accurately portray them.
•An Unforgettable Friendship – Cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip.
•Going Beyond the Green Book – Filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of The Green Book.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

It’s definitely dense – crammed with exposition and complex character history – but the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts series is still full of wonder and whimsy plus marks a more mature approach to storytelling in the Wizarding World, as the original fans begin to grow up. The visual effects are exceptional and director David Yates (a Potter veteran behind the camera) once again brings his technical mastery to the forefront. While it may stumble a bit in the storytelling department, The Crimes of Grindelwald ultimately rewards the patience of franchise fans and leaves plenty of intrigue for what’s to come.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•J.K. Rowling: A World Revealed
•Wizards on Screen, Fans in Real Life
•Distinctly Dumbledore
•Unlocking Scene Secrets: The Return to Hogwarts
•Unlocking Scene Secrets: Newt’s Menagerie
•Unlocking Scene Secrets: Credence, Nagini and the Circus Arcanus
•Unlocking Scene Secrets: Paris and Place Cachée
•Unlocking Scene Secrets: Ministere des Affaires Magiques
•Unlocking Scene Secrets: Grindelwald’s Escape and the Ring of Fire
•Deleted Scenes

The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Rise up! In Nickelodeon’s newest animated series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Raph, Leo, Mikey and Donnie are becoming the heroes they are destined to be… But nothing can prepare them for what they face on – and below – the streets of NYC where they discover a hidden mystical world and wield brand-new, powered-up weapons. The Turtles face formidable foes, battle bizarre mutants, wrestle a heavyweight champ, and still make time for the best pizza in the city!

This is a snazzy new series for the TMNT lover in your life that is full of dynamic action, vibrant animation, great world-building, and crazy creatures. It’s a worthy reboot that brings some new flavour to the beloved property.

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Mar. 5

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Mar 5th, 2019

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

March 5, 2019: The Favourite, Creed II, Instant Family.

The Favourite

SYNOPSIS: In early 18th-century England, a frail Queen Anne (Golden Globe® Winner Oliva Colman) occupies the throne, and her closest Friend, Lady Sarah (Academy Award® Winner Rachel Weisz), governs the country while tending to Anne’s ill health and volatile temper. When new servant Abigail (Academy Award® Winner Emma Stone) arrives, Sarah takes Abigail under her wing as she cunningly schemes to return to her aristocratic roots, setting off an outrageous rivalry to become the Queen’s favourite.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Deleted Scenes
•The Favourite: Unstitching the Costume Drama

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this should have won Best Picture at the Oscars. Yorgos Lanthinos’ brilliant and bizarrely beautiful period piece takes a conventional costume drama and injects it with style and humour to spare. The trio of leading ladies (Colman – who won the Best Actress Oscar -, Weisz, and Stone are in top form and each bring a distinct performance to their respective roles and they get strong support from an excellent Nicholas Hoult. The Favourite is sheer cinematic perfection right down to the acting, writing, direction, production design, and score; simply put, it’s one of 2018’s finest films and gets better with each viewing.

Creed II

SYNOPSIS: Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. “Creed II” is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.

While the first Creed was a tough act to follow, this sequel deftly manages to capture some magic from its predecessor, while skillfully taking the complex characters in new directions. The subplot focus on the infamous Drago family should delight fans of the original Rocky movies as the narrative carves out a unique niche for the legacy and moves the story forward into a new generation. While it may lack some of the dramatic heft of the first film, Creed II ultimately proves to be a worthy bout.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•From Father to Son, Blood Runs Hot
•Finding the Authentic
•The Women of “Creed II”
•The Rocky Legacy
•Deleted Scenes
•The Rocky Legacy

Instant Family

SYNOPSIS: When Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15 year old girl (Isabela Moner), they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must hilariously try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hopes of becoming a family. INSTANT FAMILY is inspired by the real events from the life of writer/director Sean Anders and also stars Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro and Margo Martindale.

This is a sweet and endearing little family film that may have passed many by at the local cineplex but makes for a great addition to anyone’s home viewing library. Wahlberg and Byrne make for a cute couple and Isabela Moner once again proves to be one of today’s most talented rising stars. While the movie’s approach is a tad schmaltzy and the plot slightly simplistic, Instant Family is a well-intentioned dramedy with an admirable core message and plenty of laughs (and even a few tears).

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