Friday, July 15, 2022

THE EPITAPH VOL. 53 : EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014) - FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE (2022) - STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS - SEASON TWO (2021) - YELLOWJACKETS: SEASON ONE (2022)

THE EPITAPH VOL. 53
Brief Remembrances of the Recently Released

EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014) - FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE (2022) - STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS - SEASON TWO (2021) - YELLOWJACKETS: SEASON ONE (2022)

Four fun ones this time around, there's not a dud in the bunch, more or less, depending on what floats your boat. We've got some irreverent Star Trek deep-space shenanigans, a total bad-ass sci-fi Groundhog Day-esque time loop actioner, a franchise fantasy adventure from the Harry Potter realm, and a wickedly black humored first season of a show that is Lord of the Flies by way of Mean Girls!

First up....

EDGE OF TOMORROW
(2014)
AKA LIVE. DIE. REPEAT.
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital 

Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment 
Region Code: Region Free/A
Duration: 113 Minutes 
Rating: PG-13 
Audio: English 
Video: Dolby Vision HDR 2160p Ultra HD, 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1) 
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor, Kick Gurry, Dragomir Mrsic, Charlotte Riley, Jonas Armstrong, Franz Drameh, Masayoshi Haneda, Tony Way


Say what you want about Tom Cruise, maybe Mickey Rourke is right, and he has been playing the same guy for thirty freakin' years, but the guy is charismatic and a fucking movie star for good reason. I particularly like him in fantasy (Legend) and sci-fi films, among them being Oblivion, War of the Worlds, Minority Report and this gem, directed by Doug Limon (The Bourne Identity) and adapted from the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. It jumps right into the thick of things as a seemingly unstoppable alien race has laid siege to our lovely planet, enter Major William Cage (Cruise), a pampered combat-adverse spokesperson for the armed forces who finds himself dropped into a suicide mission after pissing off a high-ranking officer. Forced into combat he is killed within minutes, but finds himself improbably thrown into a Groundhog Day style time loop after being doused in alien blood, forced to live out the same day over and over, a cycle of fighting and dying again and again at the hands of the alien menace. He finds an ally by way of an Earth versus alien war-hero Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place), who for reasons might be the only person who can relate to his bizarre experience. Action-packed and loaded with impressive set pieces and and cool alien designs this is a non-stop popcorn muncher of the highest order. I also love seeing the late Bill Paxton (Near Dark) as an witty but irate gunnery sergeant. I feel like this flick did not get a fair shake when it first arrived in theaters and came and went pretty quickly, I only caught up with it when it aired on cable TV later and I thought it rocked. The new 4K UHD looks mighty impressive with a Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos upgrade that both dazzle the eyeballs with it's full-bodied presentation and rocks the home theatre. Note that the accompanying Blu-ray is just the recycled 2014 Blu-ray with the archival extras, and we don't get any new extras, but it does include a glossy slipcover and a digital UHD copy of the film.

Special features:
- Operation Downfall - Adrenaline Cut
- Storming The Beach (12 min)
- Weapons Of The Future (8 min)
- Creatures Not Of This World (6 min)
- On The Edge With Doug Liman (43 min)
- Deleted Scenes (8 min)
- Digital Copy



FANTASTIC BEASTS:
THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE (2022) 
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital

Label: Warner Bros. Home Ent.
Region Code: Region-Free/A
Duration: 142 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Audio: English Atmos True HD with Optional English, Swedish, Norwegian, Korean, Italian, German, Finnish, Danish, Complex Chinese, English SDH, Canadian French, Parisian French, Latin Spanish, Cantonese Subtitles
Video: Dolby Vision HDR 2160p Ultra HD, 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1)
Director: David Yates
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, William Nadylam, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Victoria Yeates, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Fiona Glascott, Katherine Waterston, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Richard Coyle, Oliver Masucci, Valerie Pachner, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Mads Mikkelsen


The third (and final?) film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise continues the magical story of Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his intrepid team of wizards, witches and a brave Muggle baker in the service of Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law, A.I. Artificial Intelligence) to thwart the Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) replacing the maligned Johnny Depp (Sleepy Hollow)) and his diabolical schemes to seize control of the wizarding world. I've seen the two previous film but have long since forgotten details about them, I consider those Harry Potter prequel series much the same way I view The Hobbit films compared to LOTR proper, an easily digestible if largely forgettable spin-offs. I love the main series but these prequels are not on the same level - though I have no doubt that these have a huge audience. The 4K UHD looks quite nice with a gloomy appearance by design, this is both image wise and tonally a much darker film than what I recall the first two being. While it is an improvement over the version I saw streaming on HBO MAX the digitally shot flick doesn't exactly wow on UHD compared to other recent productions. The Atmos audio is quite immersive though, the sounds of fantastic beasts and wizarding duels pack a punch in the mix, and the score surrounds you during peak moments. Extras include over 80-minute of EPK style featurettes, very breezy stuff but interesting nonetheless. We also get a digital UHD copy of the film and a glossy slipcover.

Special Features:
- The Dumbledore Family Tree ( 9 min)
- Dumbledore Through the Ages (7 min)
- Magical or Muggle (5 min)
- The Magic of Hogwarts (6 min)
- Even More Fantastic Beasts (6 min)
- Newt in the Wild (5 min)
- The German Ministry of Magic (5 min)
- A Dumbledore Duel (4 min)
- The Candidates’ Dinner (5 min)
- Erkstag Jailbreak (5 min)
- Battle in Bhutan (6 min)
- The Secrets of Cursed Child (5 min)
- Deleted Scenes (8 min)
- Digital Copy

STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS - SEASON TWO
(2021)
2-Disc Blu-ray

Label: Paramount/CBS
Region Code: A
Duration: 141 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional French, English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Cast: Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, Eugene Cordero, Noël Wells, Dawnn Lewis, Jerry O’Connell, Fred Tatasciore, Gillian Vigman, Paul Scheer, Carl Tart, Jonathan Frakes, Jeffrey Combs, Lycia Naff

Season two of Star Trek: Lower Decks continues the madcap tale of the second-stringer crew of U.S.S. Cerritos with main characters Ensigns Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid, The Boys), Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero, Kong: Skull Island) and D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells) continuing on their Starfleet journey with the same sort of Rick & Morty-esque hijinks. This season we get more strange new worlds, homages to other Trek series, guest appearances from Trek Royalty like Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG) and Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator). I love the humor, it's an homage but it's also funny as Hell and the writers aren't afraid to send up the series with irreverent and often inappropriate humor, it's a hoot. Paramount+ really should be called Star Trek+ with how many series they're peddling right now, but that's okay, I love them all to carrying degrees, but this is my favorite of the bunch. This season kicked ass, with my favorite episode being "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie" guest starring Jeffrey Combs as AMIGUS, an evil A.I.. If you're a fan of the show you are in luck, the third season starts 8/22 with a fourth season already ordered! The 2-disc Blu-ray set looks and sounds terrific and we get a bunch of extras exploring the sound design, a half-hour making-of featurettes, commentaries on four episodes, and Easter Eggs and Animatics for each  episode.

Special Features:
- A Sound Foundation (13 min)
- Lower Decktionary: Season Two (32 min)
- Audio Commentaries:
- EP 202 "Kayshon, His Eyes Open" by Mike McMahan, Jack Quaid and Jonathan Frakes
- EP 205 "An Embarrassment of Dooplers" by Mike McMahan and Jack Quaid
- EP 207 "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie" by Tawny Newsome, Paul Scheer and Garrick Bernard
- EP 209 "wej Duj" by Mike McMahan, Gabrielle Ruiz and Kathryn Lyn
- Season Two Easter Eggs (Episodes 201-210) (12 min)
- Season Two Animatic (Episodes 201-210) (10 min)

Last but certainly not least...

YELLOWJACKETS: 
SEASON ONE (2022) 
Blu-ray 

Label: Paramount/CBS
Region Code: 1
Duration: 575 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, Warren Kole, Ella Purnell, Samantha Hanratty, Sophie Thatcher,, Sophie Nélisse, Steven Krueger, Jasmin Savoy

Showtime's Yellowjackets: Season One offers up a show that is part survival thriller, part coming-of-age drama, and all comically black thriller, that starts off with a group of talented high school girls soccer players, the titular Yellowjackets, who on their way via plane to the 1996 national championship become the survivors of a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. What happens is a descent into savage Lord of the Flies by way of Mean Girls styled clans while they are stranded for an extended length of time, which on it's own would haver been super interesting, but the series then tracks their lives 25 years in the future, moving back and forth between the present and the past exploring the relationship dynamics, backbiting, in-fighting and double-crossing that unfolded and continues to unfold. Anchored by a brilliant female cast that includes the adult versions of the girls played by Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers), Christina Ricci (Sleepy Hollow), Tawny Cypress (TV's Heroes) and Melanie Lynskey (Castle Rock), and an equally strong younger cast who play their younger selves; Sophie Nélisse (47 Meters Down: Uncaged), Jasmin Savoy Brown (TV's The Leftovers), Sophie Thatcher (The Book of Boba Fett) and Sammi Hanratty (TV's Shameless). The cast of characters is an Evian water and battery acid mix of jocks, teen burnouts, goody-goodies, and secret keepers which makes for a fantastic blend of psychologies and social interaction, and the stitching together of the flashbacks and current day are well-done. A brilliant and delightfully wicked series that was easily my favorites from the '21/'22 TV season, it's fucking awesome and you need to check it out if you have not already, you will not be disappointed - and fear not, the show was picked up for a second season!

Special Features:
- Yellowjackets: The Female Lens
- Yellowjackets: Favorite Moments

If you've picked these up or have seen them let me know your thoughts in the comments - and as always, support physical media, buy this discs and grow your collection - it's a terrific time to me a collector of home video right now. Long live the disc!


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