Film Review: “South Mountain”

SOUTH MOUNTAIN
Starring: Talia Balsam, Scott Cohen, Andrus Nichols
Directed by: Hilary Brougher
Runtime: 85 mins.
Breaking Glass Pictures

Behind the stillness of a home in the rural Catskills is a wealth of roiling emotion beautifully realized in writer-director Hilary Brougher’s South Mountain. The feature, which debuts on DVD and VOD today stars Talia Balsam who gives an achingly vulnerable central performance.

On a summer evening, Lila (Balsam) is having a cookout with her family and friends as she preps for her daughters to leave her with an empty nest. And if there’s a subtle tension between Lila and her husband, Edgar (Scott Cohen), well that may be because Edgar is sneaking off within this very household to video call a mistress actively giving birth to his child under the guise of a “work call.” Yikes.

What’s remarkable about Brougher’s film is the situation has all the potential to wade into overwrought melodrama but it never does. Instead, Balsam plays Lila with a fragility that occasionally tips over into flashes of rage but remains thoroughly grounded. Cohen too, whose philandering intro really gives him an uphill battle with the viewers, manages to wrangle sympathy as Edgar in the sensitivity he brings to the more fraught scenes with Balsam. Their dynamic of him knowing it is over versus her not quite ready to let go is compelling.

The lovely performances are all given solid support from Brougher’s production and sound design which really evoke both the encroaching summer and Lila’s isolation. The lush greenery and rustic house are their own character which composer Herdis Stefansdottir subtly accents with a sparse musical score that knows when to take a backseat to the chorus of birds, insects and rumbling clouds. Ultimately, Brougher’s film achieves a beautiful balance between the permanence of Lila’s place in the mountain and the ever shifting circumstances of her life and most intimate relationships.

“Friends: The Complete Series” Available Now to Own Digitally

On September 22, 1994 the first episode of Friends aired on NBC, and since then the series, characters and its infamous taglines have become a global phenomenon. After 236 episodes and its ten season run on-air, the beloved series went into syndication episodes on a number of networks, and in 2015 Netflix acquired the exclusive rights to stream the original broadcast episodes; eventually becoming one of most watched shows on the platform, until the close of 2019!

So where have your “Friends” been, now that its 2020? According to Ross and Rachel, “We Were On A BREAK!” from streaming – but have no fear, you can still get all of your favorite original episodes commercial free on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD today! All individual seasons and compilation sets of Friends are available to purchase here: www.OwnFriendsTV.com.  All seasons are also available to own at all major digital retailers; including iTunes, VUDU, Amazon Prime, and Google. DVD and Blu-ray sets can be purchased from all major retailers – including Amazon, Target and Walmart.

If it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month…or even your year…we are here for you with an amazing offer for you or your readers! In honor of the iconic series, and our #OwnFriendsTV campaign – we wanted to offer you or a lucky reader of choice a Blu-ray set of Friends: The Complete Series. This collector’s set is for the ultimate fan, and features over 110 hours of content – including all 236 original broadcast episodes, plus 20 hours of special features. All 10 seasons have been completely remastered in stunning 1080p high definition video with a 16×9 widescreen format and 5.1 audio.  The Friends:  The Complete Series Blu-ray box set is presented in highly collectible packaging consisting of a lenticular box cover, a hard-cover book that holds 21 Blu-ray discs, plus a 32-page episode guide!

The only way to get Friends: The Complete Series commercial free is on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD today! All individual seasons and compilation sets of Friends are available to purchase here: www.OwnFriendsTV.com.  All seasons are also available to own at all major digital retailers; including iTunes, VUDU, Amazon Prime, and Google. DVD and Blu-ray sets can be purchased from all major retailers – including Amazon, Target and Walmart.

You can never get enough of Friends! Own them today – own them forever!

IFC Midnight’s “The Wretched” hits VOD May 1st

Whenever I see a film being released by IFC Midnight, it immediately gets my attention. “THE WRETCHED” is about a witch that moves in next door, definitely catches my interest. It is directed and written by Brett and Drew Pierce and stars John-Paul Howard and Piper Curda. It opens May 1st on Digital Platforms and VOD and is sure to be a real winner.

Here is the film’s official premise:
Following his parents’ separation, a rebellious teenage boy, Ben, is sent to live with his father for the summer and work at the local marina in order to gain some form of discipline. The idyllic tourist town offers little solace for him, however, as he is forced to deal with the local, privileged teens and his father’s new girlfriend. Ben’s problems grow increasingly disturbing when he makes a chilling discovery about the family renting the house next door. A malevolent spirit from the woods has taken ahold of the parents and starts playing a sinister game of house, preying upon the children and wiping away any trace of their existence. Ben’s suspicions of the supernatural horrors go unheeded and he launches a perilous crusade in order to put an end to the skin-walking witch’s reign of terror.

The film has been getting rave reviews from critics across the net. After reading that premise and watching the trailer (see below) it doesn’t seem to be a big gamble for this film. While you watch you can also check out bob casino to not only win big with this killer film but also in real life. If you need more proof here are a few of early reviews:

“A polished, well-paced nightmare [with] a playfully Hitchcockian suspense approach… likable performances keeping us emotionally grounded.”

  • Dennis Harvey, VARIETY

“A viciously good time.”

  • Kristy Strouse, FILM INQUIRY

“In the vein of Disturbia or Rear Window with a dark fairy tale makeover.
The witch is worth the price of admission alone.”

  • Meagan Navarro, BLOODY DISGUSTING

Here is a little bit about the filmmakers Brett and Drew Pierce:

The Pierce Brothers are the writing/directing team behind the zombie cult hit DEADHEADS. From childhood they have been obsessed with the horror genre, having grown up amid the production of Sam Raimi’s cult classic THE EVIL DEAD, for which their father served as the photographic effects artist. Previously, Drew Pierce has worked as an animator and storyboard artist on various projects such as “Futurama,” THE INTERVIEW, and THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS. Brett Pierce has worked in production as well, most recently in the development department on various reality shows for Netflix, History Channel and A&E. This is their second feature film.

Media Mikes Awards in the Mail

Due to the current situation in the world it took some time for the 2019 Media Mikes award certificates to be printed but they are now on their way to the winners.

Last year the readers and staff of Media Mikes awarded certificates to such films as “1917,” “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” and “Parasite.”

Congratulations again to all of our winners!

Film Review: “It Started as a Joke”

Starring: Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Michael Ian Black, Kumail Nanjiani, Mike Birbiglia
Directed by: Julie Smith Clem and Ken Druckerman
Unrated
Running Time: 76 mins.
Gravitas Ventures

A couple weeks ago, right as the news in and around New York was starting to turn towards where we are now and I was sort of sick myself (different reason), I saw one of my favorite Tribeca Film Fest movies on a dvd display and knew I had to get it. It was Mike Birbiglia’s 2016 comedy Don’t Think Twice. I hadn’t seen it since enjoying it at Tribeca but it was exactly the thing I needed right now. That film follows a close-knit improv group in New York (including Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key and Chris Gethard) as one of their number rises to a new level of fame and the others do their best to deal with what that means to the group while also contending with where they are in their personal lives. It’s incredibly heart-warming, honest and very very funny.

Why have I launched into a mini review of Don’t Think Twice at the beginning of this review? For a start, Birbiglia was credited as being part of the “joke” that directors Julie Smith Clem and Ken Druckerman’s new documentary, It Started as a Joke references in its title–many of the stars of Don’t Think Twice were also veterans of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival that it focuses on–so I think they won’t mind. Secondly because they both show how cathartic comedy can be when navigating the uncertainties of life. As one of the doc’s interviewees says, “comedy helps cope.” It’s coincidence that It Started as a Joke landed in the film release marketplace such as it is, but that message would be valid even in the best of times. It Started as a Joke evolves from a showcase of a wealth of comedic talents into something much more intimate and touching. Through the access Mirman grants into how the festival came about and how eventually he used it as an outlet for coping with his wife’s cancer diagnosis, Clem and Druckerman have captured something special.

The documentary does a great job at building up what a specific and joyful time the EMCF was for a certain ‘class’ of Brooklyn comics. It features a big lineup of talents that are now household names: Kumail Kanjiani credits Mirman for helping him to stay in NYC, “The State” members Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter are on hand as well as Mirman’s “Bob’s Burgers” co-star Kristen Schaal, even NPR’s Ira Glass wound up shit-faced at the fest’s “Drunk Show”. Not something I expected to see!

Throughout all the hilarious content of the fest, the interspersed interviews with the talent really illuminate what a unique comedic presence Mirman was and continues to be. He didn’t arrive with traditional observational humor, rather with highly absurdist riffs and things like visual advertisements for shapes (“FUCKEDUPAGON! Let’s PARTY!” is a fave of mine). It struck a chord with his peers and out of that came his comedy festival which, while parodying ‘actual’ comedy fests of the time, grew into something too large to be a prank anymore and had a successful run from 2008-2017.

The subject of Mirman’s personal life was not something he really delved into in his acts but when his wife Katie was diagnosed with breast cancer, it became clear that his work could also be an outlet for some of the fear and frustration. The doc follows Mirman as he develops a bit based on pitch black greeting cards for people with cancer for example–all with his wife’s support, of course. As Mirman opens himself up, so to do his peers which is where this doc really shines. Clem and Druckerman capture many moments of comics letting their guard down both on stage and off. Based on the talent involved with this film, I knew going in I could count on plenty of laughter, but I came away also appreciating the tears that came with them.

It Started as a Joke is now available on iTunes

IMPRACTICAL JOKERS: THE MOVIE GETS EARLY DIGITAL RELEASE

Following a Successful Theatrical Run, truTV’s First-Ever Feature-Length Film is Arriving Early on Digital April 1

BURBANK, CA (March 27, 2020) Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is bringing the pranks into homes this April Fool’s Day with the early digital release of Impractical Jokers: The Movie on April 1, 2020, only five weeks after its successful theatrical debut. The film, an extension of the wildly successful Impractical Jokers series, was directed by Chris Henchy (Daddy’s Home, “Eastbound & Down”). A truTV original production and produced by Funny Or Die, Impractical Jokers: The Movie carries a suggested retail price of $19.99 for the Digital ($24.99 in Canada) and is rated PG-13.

“Impractical Jokers raised the stakes bringing their hijinks to the big screen and we couldn’t be more proud of their impressive box office debut,” said Brett Weitz, General Manager for TNT, TBS, & truTV. “The unwavering support of their fans prove that this comedy franchise continues to provide endless laughs and entertainment that we are pleased to bring into homes.”

“Impractical Jokers first premiered on truTV to much fanfare in December 2011 and quickly became a hit, especially among young adults,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, WBHE Senior Vice President, Originals, Animation & Family Marketing. “The power of the loyal fanbase has proven the sky’s the limit for this comedy franchise, and we are eager to bring home the laughter and antics of their first feature film for the whole family to enjoy.”

“For all our wonderful fans who’ve been requesting, we’re happy to announce that Impractical Jokers: The Movie will be available in your homes to watch digitally on April 1st”, said The Tenderloins. “Hoping we can provide some laughs to families and friends at a time when we can all surely use some.”

Impractical Jokers: The Movie stars James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn, Joe Gatto, and Sal Vulvano, also known as the comedy troupe The Tenderloins, playing themselves in a fictional story of a humiliating high school mishap from the early nineties. Featuring appearances from Paula Abdul, Jaden Smith, and Joey Fatone, the movie combines the fictional narrative with real life footage of over-the-top punishments and callbacks to classic moments from the series. Once the Impractical Jokers hit the road, they compete in hidden camera challenges for the chance to turn back the clock and find redemption.

Impractical Jokers: The Movie is produced by Gatto, Murray, Quinn, Vulcano, Henchy, and Funny Or Die’s Jim Ziegler and Buddy Enright. Executive producers include Jack Rovner and Funny Or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell. The Impractical Jokers series has aired eight seasons with over 200 episodes to date and remains a top three original cable comedy series with ratings that continue to grow. New episodes of Impractical Jokers keep truTV in the top 10 ranking among cable networks in primetime.

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees.

About truTV
truTV, a WarnerMedia Entertainment brand, is a bold, fresh entertainment network that gives viewers audacious content with laugh-out-loud moments and relatable characters. With millions of engaged fans across linear, digital and social channels, the cable network features a growing roster of critically acclaimed and fan-favorite, premium scripted, non-scripted and hybrid series, such as Impractical Jokers, Adam Ruins Everything, At Home with Amy Sedaris, I’m Sorry, Tacoma FD, The Carbonaro Effect, Paid Off with Michael Torpey, Hot Ones: The Game Show, based off the popular digital series, and more. truTV is also a partner in airing the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship each year.
Website: www.trutv.com

About Funny Or Die
Funny or Die is a premiere entertainment brand and comedy studio that creates award-winning comedy. Known for its celebrity driven and political content, Funny Or Die reaches a global audience of more than 40 million people, and is the #1 comedy brand on both Facebook and Twitter. Funny Or Die’s Emmy Award-winning long-form division produces shows like the critically-acclaimed Brockmire for IFC, Emmy nominated Billy on the Street, the Peabody award-winning American Vandal for Netflix, the Emmy nominated Sarah Silverman series I Love You, America for Hulu and No Activity for CBS All Access, and Between Two Ferns: The Movie for Netflix. FOD also makes award-winning TV commercials and Branded Content for all verticals and many Fortune 500 Companies from soft drinks to automobiles and toilet paper.

About The Tenderloins
The Tenderloins is a New York-based comedy troupe, whose four members – Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano – are the Creators, Executive Producers, and Stars of truTV’s hit series, Impractical Jokers. Now in its ninth season, Impractical Jokers follows The Tenderloins as they compete to embarrass each other while being filmed by hidden cameras, all the while showcasing their longstanding camaraderie. Their newest TV show – TBS’s “The Misery Index” hosted by Jameela Jamil – premiered as a top rated cable comedy in 2019 and recently wrapped production on its second season. In addition to TV success, The Troupe has toured steadily over the last six years with its wildly popular live show, performing for over one million fans in the US and UK, including six sold-out nights at Radio City Music Hall, a sold-out Madison Square Garden, and six sold-out shows at London’s O2 Arena. Natives of Staten Island, NY, Vulcano, Gatto, Murray and Quinn met while attending high school and later formed The Tenderloins Comedy Troupe in 1999. After years of performing live improv and sketch comedy, The Tenderloins crossed over to the web, garnering millions of views for their internet sketches, eventually creating the runaway success Impractical Jokers for truTV. In addition to success in the US, Impractical Jokers is the #1 show on Comedy Central in the United Kingdom and India.

Film Review: “Human Capital”

HUMAN CAPITAL
Starring: Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, Marisa Tomei, Maya Hawke, Alex Wolff
Directed by: Marc Meyers
Not Rated
Running Time: 95 mins.
Vertical Entertainment

An academic awards dinner serves as a turning point for multiple families when a hit and run accident leaves one of its wait staff dead in Marc Meyers’s Human Capital. The film boasts a solid cast lead by Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard and Marisa Tomei but its rigid structuring choices throw the film off balance as it delves ever deeper into the melodramatic. The resolution to its mystery proves murky and is not quite given enough space to breathe before the film’s conclusion.

Director Meyers and screenwriter Oren Moverman (adapting a novel by Stephen Amidon) split the film up in such a way that the pivotal day of the dinner leading up to the murder is shown through the lens of three characters played by Liev Schreiber, Marisa Tomei and Maya Hawke. It’s the multi-POV strategy we’ve seen with films such as Crash, but on a smaller scale. The trouble with these rigid thirds is that while they all are sort of negotiating with varying degrees of class inequality and value in humanity over money, they don’t quite convalesce in a meaningful way. Largely they depend on leaden dialogue to hit you over the head with each character arc’s Central Theme before we shift to the next one.

Unfortunately I found the first arc, that of Schreiber’s Drew, to be the most compelling of the three stories. His character figures largest into the characters who felt most genuine–his daughter Shannon (Hawke) and his pregnant wife Ronnie (Betty Gabriel, “Get Out”). Schreiber is also easily relatable as a man woefully out of his depth when trying to make a big deal with Sarsgaard’s slimy hedge fund manager Quint. While the film is in no way interested in clarifying the economics at play, Schreiber’s everyman persona makes up for it in his desperate reactions. I felt more interested in the fallout of his bad decisions than I did in getting to crux of the car accident plot.

Beyond Schreiber the film severely underserves the remainder of the cast. I found little to care about in Tomei and Sarsgaard’s relationship. They’re constantly sniping at each other and no doubt trying to hammer home that money can’t buy happiness. Tomei is eventually driven into the arms of a colleague played by Paul Sparks. Usually Sparks is a welcome addition but here it feels like he’s retreading the role he had during his tenure on “House of Cards.” Meanwhile, Aasif Mandvi is a sneering Wall Street bro sidekick to Sarsgaard and feels straight out of an 80’s movie. Eventually the film turns itself over to exciting newcomers Hawke and Alex Wolff (“Hereditary”) but again, their romance and how it all ties into the central mystery drags and feels like it’s trying to throw even more big social themes into the mix in the rush to the finish.

Human Capital is currently available on VOD

The Dead Are Among Us on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray! Zombie arrives on May 26th!

The Dead Are Among Us on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray!

In Italy, it was considered the ‘unofficial sequel’ to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line “WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!” Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by ‘Maestro Of Gore’ Lucio Fulci (THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, THE NEW YORK RIPPER) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!

Now Blue Underground is proud to present our critically acclaimed restoration of ZOMBIE in true 4K Ultra High Definition with Dolby Vision HDR and a new Dolby Atmos audio mix, bursting at the seams with hours of new and archival Extras!
Extra Features / Sell Points
Disc 1 (4K UHD Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:
• Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
• Audio Commentary #2 with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
• When The Earth Spits Out The Dead – Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Guillermo del Toro Intro
Disc 2 (Blu-ray) Extras:
• Zombie Wasteland – Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
• Flesh Eaters on Film – Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis
• Deadtime Stories – Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti
• World of the Dead – Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca
• Zombi Italiano – Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi
• Notes on a Headstone – Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi
• All in the Family – Interview with Antonella Fulci
• Zombie Lover – Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films

Sell Points:
• The worldwide splatter sensation returns on 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray Disc!
• Critically acclaimed restoration NOW IN TRUE 4K ULTRA HIGH DEFINITION with DOLBY VISION HDR and a new DOLBY ATMOS audio mix!
• Features 2160p Ultra HD Resolution with Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio for the ultimate home theater experience
• Bursting at the seams with hours of Extras
• National Print Advertising and extensive Online Exposure
• From acclaimed horror maestro Lucio Fulci (THE NEW YORK RIPPER, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, THE BEYOND, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, CAT IN THE BRAIN)
• Stars EuroCult favorites Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER, FINGERS), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION, ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST), Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING, BEYOND THE DOOR), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS, THE BLACK CAT), and Olga Karlatos (PURPLE RAIN, KEOMA)
• For fans of DAWN OF THE DEAD, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, and THE WALKING DEAD

Film Reviews:
• “Belongs In Every Horror Film Collection!” – DVD Review
• “An Instant Gorehound Classic!” – Fangoria
• “ZOMBIE Holds A Special Place In The Hierarchy Of Hardcore Horror!” – DVD Talk
• “A Veritable Orgy Of Cannibalistic Dismemberment!” – Cinefantastique
• “As Gory As The Law Allows, ZOMBIE Set New Standards For Eyeball Violence, Arterial Spurting, Maggot Infestations, Topless Skin-Diving And Zombie Table Manners!” – Chas Balun, Gorezone

ZOMBIE (3-Disc Limited Edition) Blu-ray Reviews:
• “5 out of 5! The release is sourced from an exclusive new 4K restoration that is simply a thing of beauty. I think that it is the best work that the folks at Blue Underground have done to date… All in all, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the folks at Blue Underground have produced the definitive master and release of ZOMBIE. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!” – Blu-ray.com
• “Blue Underground has delivered the definitive home video release of ZOMBIE… It’s difficult to imagine this 4K remaster and three-disc limited edition ever being dethroned… One of the most extraordinary cult cinema packages I’ve ever come across. I haven’t awarded this site’s highest rating to a title in more than two years, but Blue Underground’s astonishing efforts here are richly deserving. DVD Talk Collector Series” – DVD Talk
• “ZOMBIE is a spaghetti splatter cornerstone that looks better than ever in Blue Underground’s new 4K restoration—one of the few absolute ‘must-own’ releases for horror fans this year!” – Rue Morgue
• “Fulci gets so many elements of this film right – atmosphere, gore, story, decent characterization. This is Criterion-level treatment, and in some ways even more impressive. Undoubtedly, some of the best work Blue Underground has ever done, and if you’re familiar with their transfers that’s saying a lot. This is a no-brainer pick as one of the year’s best home video releases!” – Dread Central
• “Blue Underground’s work on this title blew all of my expectations out of the water – the transfer truly is a revelation. After years of seeing this film in substandard quality, it’s a shock to see it in such pristine quality – almost as if it was shot yesterday. Add to that a large extras selection and you have one of the finest Blu-ray horror releases of the year. Beyond recommended!” – The Digital Bits

The Final Battle Has Arrived! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment And DC Present “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War”

COMING MAY 5, 2020 TO DIGITAL; ARRIVING MAY 19, 2020 ON 4K Ultra HD™ BLU-RAY combo pack, & BLU-RAY™ COMBO PACK

BURBANK, CA (March 4, 2019) – The World’s Greatest Super Heroes square off once-and-for-all against the despotic Darkseid – with the fate of all humanity hanging in the balance – in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film will be released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting May 5, 2020, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on May 19, 2020.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be accompanied by the all-new DC Showcase animated short, Adam Strange. The thrilling tale, which offers insight into the space adventurer’s fascinating backstory, features Charlie Weber (How To Get Away with Murder) as the voice of title character.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (USA $39.99 SRP; Canada $44.98 SRP) and Blu-ray Combo Pack (USA $24.98 SRP; Canada $29.98  SRP) as well as on Digital. The 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc featuring the film in hi-definition, and a digital version of the movie. 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.

Culminating a six-year animated journey that began with the release of Justice League War in 2014, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War finds Earth decimated after intergalactic tyrant Darkseid has devastated the Justice League in a poorly executed war by the DC Super Heroes. Now the remaining bastions of good – the Justice League, Teen Titans, Suicide Squad and assorted others – must regroup, strategize and take the war to Darkseid in order to save the planet and its surviving inhabitants. This is truly the war to end all wars, and only the victor will live to enjoy the spoils.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War features the largest Super Hero cast in the history of DC Universe Movies with dozens of actors/characters spotlighted in a grand ensemble of talent reprising their roles from this six-year story continuum. Matt Ryan (Legends of Tomorrow, Constantine), Jerry O’Connell (Carter, Bravo’s Play by Play, Stand by Me) and Taissa Farmiga (The Nun, The Mule, American Horror Story) anchor the cast as Constantine, Superman and Raven, respectively – the triumvirate determined to assemble the forces necessary to lead humanity’s final attack. Alongside that trio are the long-running core of Justice League voices — Jason O’Mara (The Man in the High Castle, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Batman, Rosario Dawson (Briar Patch, Daredevil, Sin City) as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T., Criminal Minds) as Cyborg and Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs, Insatiable, Ugly Betty) as The Flash – as well as JL-adjacents Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, The Librarians) and Rainn Wilson (The Office, The Meg) as the voices of Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, respectively.

Tony Todd (Candyman) is the voice of the film’s key villain, Darkseid. The cast also boasts appearances by Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy) as Zatanna, Ray Chase (Justice League Dark, Final Fantasy XV videogame) as Jason Blood/Etrigan, Roger R. Cross (24, The Strain, Arrow) as John Stewart & Swamp Thing, Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: War of the Damned, The Flash) as Captain Boomerang, Hynden Walch (Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans) as Harley Quinn, Stuart Allan (Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood) as Robin/Damian, Sachie Alessio (Batman: Hush) as Lady Shiva, and John DiMaggio (Futurama, Batman: Under the Red Hood) as King Shark.

Directors Matt Peters (LEGO DC: Batman – Family Matters) and Christina Sotta (Young Justice) helm Justice League Dark: Apokolips War from a script by Ernie Altbacker (Batman: Hush, Justice League Dark) and Mairghread Scott (Wonder Woman: Bloodlines), who is also credited with creating the story. Amy McKenna (The Death of Superman) is producer, and Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) is co-producer. Executive Producers are Sam Register and James Tucker (Reign of the Supermen, Justice League Dark).

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is an epic story of supernatural proportions. A blockbuster, battle royale of a film filled with intense action and heartfelt emotions, serving up spotlight moments for our cast of unique characters,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Senior Vice President, Originals, Animation and Family Marketing. “This incredible thrill-ride takes us to the edge of the DC universe and sets the stage for an exciting new chapter.”

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War Special Features

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital

  • DC Showcase: Adam Strange (Animated Short) – On an asteroid mining colony, mysterious drifter Adam Strange is dismissed as an interplanetary derelict. But when the miners open a fissure into the home of a horde of deadly alien insects, his true identity is exposed. He is space adventurer Adam Strange, whose heroic backstory is played out in flashbacks as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long. Charlie Weber provides the voice of Adam Strange, alongside with Roger R. Cross, Kimberly Brooks, Ray Chase and Fred Tatasciore. Adam Strange is produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Batman Unlimited franchise), who also conceived the original story – which is written by J.M. DeMatteis (Constantine: City of Demons).
  • Darkseid: New God/Evil Classic (New Featurette) – This documentary explores the machinations of one of fiction¹s greatest Super Villains as we learn more about what fuels Darkseid¹s drive to becoming a galactic Atilla the Hun and the importance of Deities in our classic and modern fiction.
  • Filmmaker Audio Commentary – Observations and behind-the-scenes insight from Executive Producer James Tucker, Directors Matt Peters and Christina Sotta, and Screenwriter Ernie Altbacker.
  • Look Back: Justice League Dark (Featurette) – John Constantine leads a group of misfit characters that use magic to vanquish their opponents. This is the dark version of the Justice League taking on the malevolent forces that go beyond our plane of existence.
  • Look Back: Batman and Harley Quinn (Featurette) – Take a peek at the animated feature film, Batman and Harley Quinn, featuring the creators and talented voice cast. 
  • From the DC Vault: Justice League Action, “Zombie King”
  • From the DC Vault: Justice League Action, “Abate and Switch”
  • From the DC Comics Vault: Teen Titans, “Nevermore”
  • A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie, Superman: Man of Tomorrow – An advanced look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War 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.

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

On May 5, 2020, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be available to own in high definition and standard definition from select digital retailers including Amazon, the Apple TV app, FandangoNOW, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. On May 19, 2020, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

ABOUT MOVIES ANYWHERE

Movies Anywhere is a digital movie platform that enables movie fans to discover, access, and watch their favorite digital movies in one place. Movies Anywhere brings together a library of nearly 7,500 digital movies from Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment) and Warner Bros., and will continue to expand the consumer experience as more content providers, digital retailers and platforms are added. By connecting participating digital retailers that include Amazon Prime Video,  the Apple TV app, FandangoNOW, Google Play, and Vudu, movie fans can now bring together their digital movie collections (whether purchased or redeemed) in one place and enjoy them from the comfort of their living rooms, and across multiple devices and platforms, including Amazon Fire devices; Android devices and Android TV; Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch; Chromecast; Roku® devices and popular browsers. Movie fans can also redeem digital codes found in eligible Blu-ray and DVD disc packages from participating studios and enjoy them through Movies Anywhere. Movies Anywhere – your movies, together at last.

ABOUT DIGITAL

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. 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.

BASICS

PRODUCT                                                                 SRP

4K UHD Combo Pack                                                $39.99 USA, $44.98 Canada

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

Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French

Blu-ray Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

4K Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French

4K Blu-ray Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Running Time: 90 minutes

Rated R for bloody violence, language and some sexual references.

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Inc.:

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees.

ABOUT DC

DC is one of the largest English-language publishers of comics and graphic novels in the world and home to some of the most iconic and recognizable characters ever created. As a creative unit of WarnerMedia, DC is charged with strategically integrating its stories and characters across film, television, consumer products, home entertainment, interactive games and the DC Universe subscription streaming service. For more information visit dccomics.com.

JUSTICE LEAGUE and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC.  © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

About Warner Bros. Animation

Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) is one of the leading producers of animation in the entertainment industry, producing and developing projects for multiple platforms, both domestically and internationally. WBA’s current series include Animaniacs for Hulu, Green Eggs and Ham for Netflix, Aquaman: King of Atlantis, Gremlins: Secrets of the MogwaiJellystone, Little Ellen and Looney Tunes Cartoons for HBO Max, Harley Quinn and Young Justice: Outsiders for DC UNIVERSE, DC Super Hero Girls, Teen Titans Go!, ThunderCats Roar and Unikitty! for Cartoon Network, Bunnicula, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, New Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo! and Guess Who?, The Tom and Jerry Show, Wacky Races and Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs! for Boomerang. WBA’s full-length theatrical film, Teen Titans GO! to the Movies, was released in summer 2018. As home to the iconic animated characters from the DC, Hanna-Barbera, MGM and Looney Tunes libraries, WBA also produces highly successful animated films — including the DC Universe Movies — for DVD, Blu-ray® and digital media. One of the most-honored animation studios in history, WBA has won six Academy Awards®, 35 Emmy® Awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, a BAFTA Children’s Award, an Environmental Media Award, a Parents’ Choice Award, the HUMANITAS Prize, two Prism Awards and 20 Annie Awards (honoring excellence in animation).

The 10 Best Films of the Past Decade (2010-2019)

This past week Media Mikes celebrated their 10th Anniversary. It seems like only yesterday when Mike Gencarelli and I, who were at the time writing for other websites, decided to start our own. We were Movie Mikes for awhile, until Mike G. had the brilliant idea of helping to promote the upcoming AMC series “The Walking Dead.” His interview series put a big spotlight on the site and convinced us that, rather than be a movie inclusive site, we would cover the entire spectrum of Pop Culture. Hello, Media Mikes.

Since that time we (Mike G, myself and our amazing staff of writers) have reviewed over 1,000 theatrically released films and almost another 2,000 films on DVD/Blu-ray. We’ve told you what we’ve liked and what we haven’t. This week, Jeremy Werner and I have compiled our lists of the Best Films of the past decade. Let us know if you agree with us or if there was a film you think we missed.

Michael A. Smith’s 10 Best Films of the Decade

1917 Might as well start with the most recent of the group. An intriguing story that takes you along with it, thanks to the brilliant direction of Sam Mendes and the amazing Oscar-winning Cinematography by Roger Deakins.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo David Fincher at his best. I had not (nor have I) seen the original Swedish trilogy but I walked out of this film stunned by Fincher’s handiwork.

The Birth of a Nation Due to negative publicity surrounding filmmaker Nate Parker, this film never got the true recognition it deserved. A tour-de-force for Parker who not only directed and co-wrote the film but starred in it as well.

All the Money in the World Director Ridley Scott took a huge gamble when, due to the negative publicity surrounding star Kevin Spacey, and with the film already completed and awaiting release, he recast Spacey’s role with Christopher Plummer and re-shot all of Spacey’s scenes. Plummer would go on to receive an Oscar nomination for his work.

Bohemian Rhapsody” THIS is what a bio-pic should be. The story of the greatest front man in Rock and Roll history with a brilliant, Oscar-winning performance by Rami Malik. This is the film ROCKETMAN wanted to be.

Get Out Jordan Peele re-wrote the rules on horror films with this Academy Award winning masterpiece. He continued on a roll with his follow-up film, “US.”

Les Miserables Hugh Jackman may be the Wolverine to most of the world but to me he delivered his best performance ever here.

Unbroken” An inspirational true story of heroism and faith capably directed by Angelina Jolie.

Skyfall” Sean Connery will always be the definitive James Bond, but what Daniel Craig has brought to the character is nothing short of brilliant. His final appearance as Bond is due this year. Bring on Idris Elba!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe. This 23-film series (I’m including this past year’s “Spider-man: Far From Home”) is sure to be a blueprint followed by studios until the end of time. When Robert Downey, Jr informs the smug Thanos “I am Ironman” at the end of “Avengers: End Game” the emotional roller coaster takes one more powerful dip.

Jeremy Werner’s Lists

Instead of the stereotypical Top 10, I cheated a lot on my “Best of the Decade” list. Mainly because I find it incredibly difficult to narrow down my choices to a top 10, much less a top 15. So I created three lists, and put them in no particular order, so I can share my love for these movies that still resonate with me in 2020. I also didn’t want to reveal any biases that I may have on this list, so I didn’t include any description as to why I adore these films.

Best of the Decade

“Inception”
“Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse”
“Drive”
“1917”
“Nightcrawler”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

“Silver Linings Playbook”
“The Lego Movie”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Swiss Army Man”

“Eighth Grade”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Inside Out”
“Gravity”
“12 Years a Slave”
“Wolf of Wall Street”
“Inside Out”
“Zootopia”
“Get Out”
“Parasite”

Honorable Mentions:
Midsommar
“Bridesmaids”
“Edge of Tomorrow”
“Detroit”
“Hell or High Water”
“Baby Driver”
“Life of Pi”
“Scott Pilgrim vs the World”
“Blade Runner 2049”
“Sicario”
“Blackkklansman”
“Dredd”
“Under the Skin”
“The Spectacular Now”
“The Florida Project”

So Weird, Shocking, or Unexplainable, they have to be mentioned, even if they aren’t great:
“Climax”
Mandy
“Sorry to Bother You”
“Mom and Dad”
“One Cut of the Dead”
“The Neon Demon”
“The Greasy Strangler”
“mother!”
“Hobo with a Shotgun”
“We are the Flesh”

Michael D. Smith’s 10 Best Films of the Decade

Coming up with a top ten list for a year is difficult enough, but it is at least ten times more maddening to finalize the best of a decade! So, I cheated a bit and added five honorable mentions. As I looked back, I picked those that pushed the envelope in some way or left an impression with me that still reverberates to present day. Beginning with #10…

10. “Hell or High Water”
9. “Prisoners”
8. “Inception”
7. “Ex Machina”
6. “A Quiet Place”
5. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
4. “The Revenant”
3. “Get Out”
2. “Lincoln”
1. “12 Years A Slave”

Honorable Mentions:
“Snowpiercer”
“The Skin I Live In”
“Logan”
“Arrival”
“Interstellar”

Film Review: “Feedback”

FEEDBACK
Starring: Eddie Marsan, Paul Anderson, Ivana Baquero
Directed By: Pedro C. Alonso
Not Rated
Running Time 98 min
Blue Fox Entertainment

A London radio station transforms into a pressure cooker when a late night host is held captive in his own recording studio. What starts as a not-wholly-unexpected hostage situation for the controversial host quickly reveals the thugs have more personal than political reasons for their chosen target. Director Pedro Alonso’s Feedback, which is now out on VOD and releases February 18th on DVD, is a tightly orchestrated thriller that hinges on a strong leading performance from Eddie Marsan despite a questionable point of view. 

Dolan Jarvis (Marsan) has been attacked before. Anchoring a late night radio show called “Grim Reality” where he rages on all things political (Brexit, Russian election tampering, et al), he isn’t as shaken as the average person returning to work after having been attacked by angry listeners. That said, his producer (Anthony Head) is still angling to force a co-host on him in the form of rocker Andrew Wilde (Paul Anderson, “Peaky Blinders”). As he starts his usual broadcast, a group of masked thugs trap Jarvis in his studio and threaten him to stick to their exact script when Wilde arrives. At first Jarvis balks but he gets on board when he realizes his daughter, who also happens to be in the radio offices that night, as well as his young studio technicians are threatened as well.

What should be a limiting contrivance–holding all action captive in a recording space–is actually one of the film’s strengths. Alonso goes a long way to making sure that the viewers feel Jarvis’s claustrophobia as his assailants bear down on him. The pristine studio also makes for a good visual contrast with the acts of violence. Then in the latter stages of the film, he keeps throwing Marsan further into situations where he feels more and more like a rat in a maze. It’s highly stressful and highly effective.

Marsan meanwhile as the victim gains a lot of sympathy when he’s first caught that pays off in dividends for the film. Alonso pulls a bit of a switcheroo by firmly placing the audience on Jarvis’s team so to speak before the ostensible villains of the piece get him and Wilde to expose more of their past digressions on air. If it weren’t for Marsan and Anderson’s respective charisma, I think this film would have run a real risk of losing viewers completely when all is said and done. Your mileage may vary, but despite where the film takes the characters, it still delivers several gasp-inducing thrills and is worthwhile for Marsan’s performance.

Joker, 1917 and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood Lead Winners for the 9th Annual Media Mikes Awards

Now that the Oscars dust has settled, it’s time to take a look at how we here at Media Mikes, readers and writers alike, voted for our top cinematic achievements of 2019 in our 9th Annual Media Mikes Awards

“Joker,” Todd Phillips’s dark look at the origins of Batman’s greatest enemy, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino’s fable about the summer of 1969 and Sam Mendes’s enthralling WWI drama, “1917”, topped our lists with two awards each.

“Hollywood” took home the big prize as the year’s Best Picture and also nabbed Best Supporting Actor award for Brad Pitt. “Joker” earned wins for Joaquin Phoenix as Best Actor as well as Best Original Score, written and composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir. “1917” earned the award for Best Director for Sam Mendes and was also recognized for its cinematography by the legendary Roger Deakins.

Additional winners included Reneé Zellwegger as Best Actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in “Judy” and Scarlett Johansson as Best Supporting Actress for her work in “JoJo Rabbit.”

“Toy Story 4” was chosen as the year’s Best Animated Feature.

This year saw more than 3,000 readers submit their choices in the seven top categories, check out the complete list of our winners below

Reader Voted Awards Went to…

Best Picture – “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”
Best Director – Sam Mendes, “1917”
Best Actor – Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
Best Actress – Renee Zellweger, “Judy”
Best Supporting Actress – Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”
Best Supporting Actor – “Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”
Best Animated Feature – “Toy Story 4”

Awards chosen by our Media Mikes writers went to…

Best Original Screenplay – Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, “Parasite”
Best Adapted Screenplay – Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”
Best Documentary Feature – “David Crosby: Remember my Name”
Best Cinematography – Roger Deakins, “1917”
Best Original Score – Hildur Guðnadóttir, “Joker”

Composer John Williams, who recently earned his 52nd Academy Award nomination, was name the recipient of this years Media Mikes Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who voted!

“Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho Make Oscar History

“Parasite,” the South Korean thriller directed by Bong Joon-ho, made Oscar history tonight when it became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards.  In doing so, it took down more heavily favored films like “1917” and “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.” 

Director Bong Joon-ho became the first person to take home four awards in one ceremony, winning Oscars as the director, co-producer and co-writer of the film.  He also received the award as the director of the year’s Best International Feature Film.   

Joaquin Phoenix was named Best Actor for his work in “Joker” while Renee’ Zellwegger took home the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Hollywood legend Judy Garland in “Judy.” 

Supporting Oscars went to Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” and Laura Dern for “Marriage Story.”  Dern paid tribute to her parents, former Oscar nominees Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, in her acceptance speech.  

“Toy Story 4” was named the years Best Animated Feature.   Here is a complete list of tonight’s winners:  

BEST PICTURE  

“Parasite”  

BEST DIRECTOR

Bong Joon-ho – “Parasite”

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Joaquin Phoenix – “Joker”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Renée Zellweger – “Judy”  

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Brad Pitt –  “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”  

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Laura Dern – “Marriage Story”  

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“Parasite” – screenplay by Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won  

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Jojo Rabbit” – screenplay by Taika Waititi

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

“Toy Story 4”  

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

“Parasite” – South Korea

DOCUMENTARY – FEATURE

“American Factory”  

DOCUMENTARY – SHORT SUBJECT

“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”  

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“The Neighbors’ Window”  

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Hair Love”  

ORIGINAL SCORE

“Joker” – Hildur Guðnadóttir  

ORIGINAL SONG

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from “Rocketman” written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin  

SOUND EDITING

“Ford v Ferrari”

SOUND MIXING

“Ford v Ferrari”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”  

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“1917”

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Bombshell”

COSTUME DESIGN

“Little Women”  

FILM EDITING

“Ford v Ferrari”

VISUAL EFFECTS

“1917”

Film Review: “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

BIRDS OF PREY
Starring: Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ella Jay Basco
Directed By: Cathy Yan
Rated: R
Running Time: 109 mins.
Warner Brothers

After a major breakup, one Harley Quinn is down in the dumps. But dammit if she’s not going to lift herself out of it and take audiences along for the ride. And what a wild ride it is. Cathy Yan and producer/Harley herself, Margot Robbie deliver a creative, intense and above all, fun burst of action that really couldn’t be better placed on the calendar than right before Valentine’s Day. Grab your favorite colorful candy, your friends, your pet hyenas (just not any shitty exes) and go.

For those unfamiliar with Ms Quinn, director Yan opens with a helpful primer without  having to look at a single frame of Suicide Squad. HQ was a brilliant med student-turned-psychiatrist-turned-lover of the Joker, her former patient. It was a position that allowed her to get away with murder, possibly literally. No one was crossing the Clown Prince of Crime. Unfortunately for her, it was also a subjugated position. Her schemes weren’t appreciated when they succeeded, she was abused and taken for granted. Yan doesn’t go into the particulars of the breakup and blessedly doesn’t bring Jared Leto or any other iteration of “Mr. J” in here—because he’s besides the point—but Harley is a bit of a mess as a result. She’s already dealing with an identity crisis when a crime lord named Roman Sionis (McGregor) places a bounty on the young girl that Harley herself is meant to be delivering to him in 24 hours, on pain of death. 

If the above has you questioning where the “Birds of Prey” from the title come in, you would be right, but I’d also wonder if you watched a single trailer for this movie. This is very much the Harley show. Her teammates come in gradually—Black Canary (Smolett-Bell) first and most prominently, followed by police officer Renee Montoya (Perez) and Huntress (Winstead). They all have their own grievances with Roman. The good news is, Harley cheerfully gets you up to speed on their backstories as they join the party. Meanwhile the actresses truly make the most of their limited screen time. Winstead in particular sells an assassin who is as fierce in battle as she is socially awkward. I mean, if all you do is train for vengeance, yeah, you might not be great with new friends.

The person who gets the most time to balance out Harley’s zaniness with his own brand of ham is Ewan McGregor as Roman, aka The Black Mask. He and main enforcer, Mr. Zsasz (Chris Messina) are operating on their own levels of strange and flamboyant and I was into it. Again, he could have even gone for more over the top as far as I’m concerned, but his finale left me more than satisfied. Above all, if the worst I can say about this movie is I wanted more and not less in a time where bloated two and a half hour runtimes are the norm (sorry, Aquaman!) that’s not a bad thing.

Finally not to mix up my IPs or anything, but as this movie unfurled, I actually thought of Disney Imagineers. As it goes, they’re encouraged to “plus” their rides and attractions–a phrase they use when taking a solid idea and ramping it up with “what if?” possibilities. Every action sequence in Birds of Prey feels like it’s been plussed. It’s not enough that the stunt work be impeccable but what if everyone also dressed fantastic? Or what if a gunfight takes place among rainbow smoke bombs? Turn on some sprinklers while you’re at it! Have a climax in a carnival. The result is a film that feels like a comic book in the best of ways.

Going into the new year, I was majorly psyched for the trifecta of big name female-led superhero movies we have coming our way. Birds of Prey just blew the doors off 2020 and raised the shiny, glittery bar. Bring on Natasha and Diana.

Kirk Douglas dead at 103

Kirk Douglas, one of the last remaining stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, died today at the age of 103.  He leaves behind not only an amazing legacy on screen but one off of it as well.

Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, to Russian immigrant parents, the family adopted the last name of Demsky, which was the last name taken by his uncle, who came to America before his parents.  He spent his younger years working several jobs to help support his family – he had six sisters – and did so up until he joined the United States Navy.  Prior to enlisting he legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas.  He served on a submarine during World War II and was discharged in 1944 due to injuries sustained during an accident.

He began his acting career when he was granted a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  He was able to support himself, barely, by doing a lot of radio work.  He made his stage debut when he replaced Richard Widmark in “Kiss and Tell.”  He made his film debut in 1946 after a former Dramatic Academy Classmate named Lauren Bacall recommend him to a director.  That film, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” co-starred Barbara Stanwyck and help launch his extraordinary career.

Always enjoying his work in the theater, Douglas made his Broadway debut three years later.  That same year he starred in the film “Champion.”  His performance earned him his first of six Academy Award nominations.

For the next six decades he starred in some of the greatest films of their eras, including “The Bad and the Beautiful” (Oscar nomination), “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Lust for Life” (Oscar nomination), “Paths of Glory,” “Spartacus,” and “Seven Days in May.”

Douglas earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of artist Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life”

But it was more than his film work that Douglas will be remembered for.  Despite Dalton Trumbo’s name on the Hollywood “blacklist,” Douglas, who was also the executive producer of “Spartacus” not only hired Trumbo to write the screenplay for the film but gave him screen credit.  Douglas often said that hiring and supporting Trumbo was the proudest moment of his career.

He WAS Spartacus!

Douglas bought the rights to the Ken Kesey novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and in 1963 had it adapted into a play, in which he starred.  He tried for many years to produce a film version of the play but could never find the monetary backing.  He gave the rights to the property to his son, Michael who, with producer Saul Zaentz financed the 1975 film version.  Though Douglas had played the main character of Randle McMurphy on stage, he was deemed too old to play the role on film.  The part went to Jack Nicholson, who won his first Academy Award for his performance.  The film went on to earn nine Academy Award nominations and became the second film in history to win the top five Oscar categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay).

In 1996 he was given an honorary Academy Award in recognition of his amazing career and for being  a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.

Douglas was married twice and is survived by his wife Ann, who will amazingly turn 101 in April, and sons Michael, Joel and Peter.  His youngest son, Eric, passed away in 2004.

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