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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Jan. 28

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Jan 28th, 2020

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

January 28, 2020: Parasite, Pain and Glory, Terminator: Dark Fate, Motherless Brooklyn, Zombieland: Double Tap.

Parasite

SYNOPSIS: In PARASITE, meet the Park family, the picture of aspirational wealth and the Kim family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kim’s sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and the Parks.

Simply put, this was the finest film of 2019. Bong Joon-ho’s brilliant dark comedy is a masterclass in moviemaking as it balances some tricky tonal shifts while providing razor-sharp wit and insightful social commentary. Throw in some gorgeous lighting, glorious production design, a riveting cast, and you’re left with an instant classic for our modern times that will be remembered for years to come and sets a new benchmark for South Korean films on the world stage.

BONUS FEATURES:
•Q&A with Director Bong Joon Ho

Pain and Glory

SYNOPSIS: PAIN AND GLORY tells of a series of re-encounters experienced by Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a film director in his physical decline. Some of them in the flesh, others remembered: his childhood in the 60s, when he emigrated with his parents to a village in Valencia in search of prosperity, the first desire, his first adult love in the Madrid of the 80s, the pain of the breakup of that love while it was still alive and intense, writing as the only therapy to forget the unforgettable, the early discovery of cinema, and the void, the infinite void that creates the incapacity to keep on making films. PAIN AND GLORY talks about creation, about the difficulty of separating it from one’s own life and about the passions that give it meaning and hope. In recovering his past, Salvador finds the urgent need to recount it, and in that need he also finds his salvation.

Almodóvar is back with perhaps his most personal film to date. Lush visuals, a strong script, and a career-best performance from Antonio Banderas make this an unmissable addition to the director’s already storied list of accomplishments. Pain and Glory features a sensational and tender story – with real-world parallels – and represents a filmmaker working in top form and in clear command of his craft.

BONUS MATERIALS:
•Q&A with Director Pedro Almodóvar & Antonio Banderas – Antonio Banderas, Director Pedro Almodóvar, Composer Alberto Iglesias, and Producer Agustín Almodóvar discuss the creative process and genesis of PAIN AND GLORY.
•Pedro Almodóvar: In His Own Words – Pedro Almodóvar on La Movida Madrileña, his visual style, early inspirations, and his lengthy collaborations with Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz.
•CAST AND CREW

Terminator: Dark Fate

SYNOPSIS: Decades after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) prevented Judgment Day, a lethal new Terminator is sent to eliminate the future leader of the resistance. In a fight to save mankind, battle-hardened Sarah teams up with an unexpected ally (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and an enhanced super soldier to stop the deadliest Terminator yet. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance in this action-packed thrill ride from Tim Miller, the director of Deadpool, and producer James Cameron.

The reunion many Terminator fans have been waiting for is finally here! While Dark Fate‘s plot becomes convoluted at times, it’s still full of satisfying action and it’s admittedly fun to watch Arnie back in the franchise. It’s the ladies who steal the show in this one though; Linda Hamilton is sensational and she’s backed by an ass-kicking Mackenzie Davis and ‘star in the making’ Natalia Reyes. Just try to overlook the unfortunate John Connor prologue.

BONUS FEATURES:
•Deleted and Extended Scenes
•A Legend Reforged
•World Builders
•Dam Busters: The Final Showdown
•VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly

Motherless Brooklyn

SYNOPSIS: Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of New York in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honour his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.

A dense and sprawling crime saga, Motherless Brooklyn requires some patience from viewers but is ultimately engaging. Norton tackles double duty (triple if you count his producing credit) as director and star and is backed by a solid ensemble cast, including a surprisingly effective Bruce Willis. The film gets occasionally bogged down by familiar tropes but is a worthy addition to the neo-noir detective mystery genre and represents the kind of intelligent moviemaking seldom seen from major studios these days.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Making-Of: Edward Norton’s Methodical Process
•Commentary with Director Edward Norton
•Deleted Scenes
•Making-Of: Edward Norton’s Methodical Process

Zombieland: Double Tap

SYNOPSIS: Set one decade after the events of the first film, ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP finds Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and Wichita (Emma Stone) working together as a well-oiled, zombie-killing machine with a new home in the now-vacant White House. These four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.

While not as original as…the original, Double Tap is still tons of fun and features plenty of great zombie kills along with lots of laughs. The committed cast seems to be having a blast, the simple plot and tight pacing ensure things don’t get tedious, and a scene-stealing Zoey Deutch is a comedic marvel to behold!

BONUS MATERIALS:
•Extended Bloopers & Outtakes
•Alternate & Extended Scenes
•“The Doppelgangers”: From stunts to special effects, this in-depth piece breaks down doppelgangers Flagstaff and Albuquerque and comes complete with interviews, demonstrations, and multiple cameras to snag all the action in their wild scenes.
•“The Rides of Zombieland”: From the Beast to Big Fat Death (and a hated Pontiac Trans Sport in between) this short focuses on the rides that get our main characters around Z-land.
•“Rules of Making a Zombie Film”: It takes a lot of rules and a lot of people to make a zombie film!
•“Making Babylon”: Explore the climactic third act location in the film known in Zombieland as Babylon.  Part fortress, part freshman dormitory, Babylon is the safe-place for a generation of misguided peace-loving retro-hippies.
•“New Blood”: Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, and Avan Jogia join our zombie-slaying cast.
•“Single Take Doppelganger Fight”: Ruben Fleischer shares the camera monitor during the Doppelganger fight sequence.
•Commentary with Director Ruben Fleischer
•“Zombieland Ad Council”

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Dec. 17

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Dec 17th, 2019

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

December 17, 2019: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, It Chapter Two, Abominable, Downton Abbey.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

SYNOPSIS: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features “one of the greatest casts of all time”[6]—including Robbie, Julia Butters, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Luke Perry, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern and Al Pacino—and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.

Tarantino’s ninth film is chock-full of charms, loaded with surprises, and jammed with typically shocking moments. It all amounts to one of 2019’s finest films and sees the veteran director perhaps offering his most mature character study (aside from Jackie Brown) to date. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood marks career-topping performances for Pitt and DiCaprio, is laden with vibrant ’60s nostalgia – thanks to some stunning production design and a rollicking soundtrack – and demonstrates a filmmaker working in top form and in clear command of his craft.

4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY AND DIGITAL BONUS MATERIALS:

•Over Twenty Minutes of Additional Scenes
•Five exclusive behind the scenes pieces including:
-Quentin Tarantino’s Love Letter to Hollywood
-Bob Richardson – For the Love of Film
-Shop Talk – The Cars of 1969
-Restoring Hollywood – The Production Design of Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
-The Fashion of 1969

DVD BONUS MATERIALS
•Over Twenty Minutes of Additional Scenes

It Chapter Two

SYNOPSIS: Twenty-seven years after the Losers Club defeated Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), he has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once more. Now adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways. However, people are disappearing again, so Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home. Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for  all…putting them directly in the path of the shape-shifting clown that has become deadlier than ever.

The gang’s all back for some more sinister scares! It Chapter Two doesn’t always work – the adult cast doesn’t gel quite as well as the kids in the first one – but effective sequences, atmospheric dread, and a sense of closure permeate the movie to make it stay, pardon the pun, afloat.

4K, BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS:

•Pennywise Lives Again!
•This Meeting of the Losers Club Has Officially Begun
•Finding the Deadlights
•The Summers of IT: Chapter One, You’ll Float Too
•The Summers of IT: Chapter Two, IT Ends
•Commentary with Director Andy Muschietti

Abominable

SYNOPSIS: From the studio that brought you How to Train Your Dragon, this heartwarming and humorous story follows teenage Yi (Bennet) as she encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in China, she and her mischievous friends, Jin (Trainor) and Peng (Tsai), name him “Everest” and embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth. But the trio of friends will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish (Izzard), a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara (Paulson) to help Everest get home. Heartwarming and a visual masterpiece, “ABOMINABLE is a movie for all ages with laughter and life lessons and a little bit of wonder thrown in” (Allison Rose, Flick Direct).

A rousing adventure for the entire family, Abominable brings a lot of refreshing cultural aspects to the forefront. Throw in some dazzling animation, endearing characters, and plenty of heartstring-tugging and you’re left with one of 2019’s most engaging animated escapes.

BONUS FEATURES ON 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL:
•DREAMWORKS SHORT – MAROONED – Marooned, tells the story of a cantankerous and selfish robot named C-0R13. Stranded on an abandoned lunar outpost, C-0R13 longs to return to Earth. With a partially built ship and his last power source, this determined robot will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
•SHOW AND TELL – Back home in the Himalayan Mountains, Everest puts on a magical show-and-tell for his fellow yetis after he receives a special care package from Yin, Jing and Peng.
•DELETED SCENES with Intros by Writer/Director Jill Culton and Co-Director Todd Wilderman
•MAKING A MYTH (MOVIE) – In this entertaining ‘making of’ we learn from the filmmakers and stars how they brought the heartfelt and whimsical story of Abominable to life – from the use of magic, music and humor, to the themes of family and nature.
•ANIMATING ABOMINABLE – From production design to storyboarding and animating, the creative team behind Abominable will take us through the design and animation of the film.
•MEET THE CAST – This fun featurette introduces the audience to the cast of Abominable and the characters they play. Learn first-hand from the actors what their personal inspiration was for the role and how they went about performing the voicework.
•YOUR YETI CARE GUIDE – Chloe, Albert and Tenzing provide tips and tricks to caring for your newly adopted “Yeti”. In this case YETI stands for pet – dog, kitten and bird.
•COURAGE TO DREAM – This featurette explores the character Yi, the strong, independent and untraditional female lead at the center of Abominable. Actor Chloe Bennet and the filmmakers discuss what makes Yi special and why she is the ultimate role model for young girls and boys today!
•AN ABOMINABLE TOUR WITH CHLOE BENNET – Like her father before her, Yi dreams of travelling across China to see the many beautiful, natural and culturally significant locations featured in Abominable. Chloe Bennet, the voice of Yi, will take viewers on their own magical journey.
•EVEREST’S TALK BOX – Shooting on the DreamWorks Animation campus, we bring in some real kids to meet the man behind the voice of Everest, Joe Izzo, and the audio team from Abominable to learn about all the cool tech that went into Everest’s voice.
•COOKING WITH NAI NAI – Can Tsai Chin, the voice of Nai Nai, learn to make Nai Nai’s famous pork buns in real life? Let’s find out!
•HOW TO ABOMINABLE – Bring Everest, Yi and Nai Nai to life in your home with this How-to-Draw with a difference. Not only will we show you how to recreate your favorite characters from Abominable, but also how to magically bring them to life through a homemade Chinese style lantern!
•YOU CAN SPEAK YETI-ESE – Inspired by foreign language courses, viewers can learn how to speak Yeti-ese with these easy teaching guides hosted by Chloe Bennet.
•NAI NAI SAYS – Narrated by Nai Nai, Yi’s wise grandma gives us life lessons on how to be a strong, independent, modern woman.
•FEATURE COMMENTARY – Writer/Director Jill Culton, Co-Director Todd Wilderman, Producer Suzanne Buirgy, Producer Peilin Chou, Production Designer Max Boas, Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Edwards, and Head of Character Animation John Hill

Downton Abbey

SYNOPSIS: Based on Carnival Films’ Emmy® award-winning television series, the feature DOWNTON ABBEY sees the original cast return, alongside a host of newcomers. The film chronicles the Crawley family one year after the conclusion of the series, as they prepare for the most important moment of their lives: an impending visit from the Royal Family. Join the glitz, glamour and spectacle as the special visit unleashes scandal, romance and intrigue on the fan-favorite family and its staff members.

Fans of the show will rejoice in this feature film adaptation, which reminds us all why many fell in love with the series in the first place. Considering its production budget and small screen origins, the Downton Abbey movie was one of the year’s most successful box office flicks. The cast still works so well together and, considering many plot lines were virtually exhausted already, the production team and the panache of Julian Fellowes’ screenplay give the movie an air of gravitas and, ultimately, satisfaction.

BLU-RAY, DVD & DIGITAL BONUS FEATURES:
•Deleted Scenes
•Cast Conversations – Exclusive roundtable interviews with the cast.
-Upstairs Cast
-Downstairs Cast
•The Royal Visit – A look at how the royal visit proved to be an ambitious event both on and behind the camera.
•True to the Twenties – Fans of DOWNTON ABBEY are charmed by the sheer grandeur of the aristocracy in the early 20th century. Learn how DOWNTON ABBEY maintains a reputation of being true to the time period.
•Welcome to Downton Abbey – A behind-the-scenes look at the grandeur of Highclere Castle and how it serves as a cornerstone in the Downton Abbey franchise.
•The Brilliance of Julian Fellowes – Writer Julian Fellowes has created a story and beloved characters that resonate with people across the world. This piece celebrates Julian’s brilliant creativity and reveals his approach to bringing Downton Abbey to the big screen.
•Downton Abbey Series Recap* – Whether you’re new or just need a refresher, this series recap will catch you up on the story so far.
•Feature Commentary with Director Michael Engler

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