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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Animation > Comedy > TV > Drama > Politics > Revenge > Spy > Espionage > Myster > Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants (DC Comics/Warner DVD)/Captain America: Civil War 3D (Marvel Comics/Disney Blu-ray 3D with Blu-ray/both 2016)

Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants (DC Comics/Warner DVD)/Captain America: Civil War 3D (Marvel Comics/Disney Blu-ray 3D with Blu-ray/both 2016)



3D Picture: B Picture: C+/B Sound: C+/B+ Extras: C-/B- Films: B-/B



Here's two of the newest Superhero films and two of the better of late....



The first is the all-animated Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants, a pleasant surprise considering how the animated releases of late have just been played-out origins reconfigurations and this runs only 75 minutes. Instead, taking a cue from the film Pacific Rim (reviewed elsewhere on this site) has an awkward pairing of Mr. Freeze and The Penguin (as they do not like each other) in Freeze's arctic hideout, planning a special breakout of specific arch villains from Arkham Asylum. Turns out Freeze has a dangerous genetic experiment planned, but it will not be so simple, yet Penguin is nuts enough to go for it.


The film opens with a giant Bat-robot (size of Godzilla or King Kong) taking on a giant monster that looks a bit familiar, then the tale starts in flashback. Several DC Heroes show up and though some of this stretches plausibility, it works well within the logic of the piece and is fun. I liked the action, portrayal of the characters and some good jokes. I hope this is not a fluke and DC stops the origins obsession, because those titles are becoming a glut no one needs.



The Russo Brothers' Captain America: Civil War is the third in the series of films strictly about Steve Rogers' original Avenger, but it does not pick up as strongly from the previous film as it needed to with Cap (Chris Evans) and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) ready to find and save Cap's old friend Bucky aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) from others out to hurt him and his own deadly brainwashing. Instead, the film backs off the serious tone of the ending of the last Cap film (a lost opportunity, unfortunately) introducing the U.N. Wanting The Avengers to sign a contract (sign away their freedom) from unilateral action to fight worldwide evil. This splits the team with Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) siding with the feds.


Entangled in the split will be Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman, nailing the role perfectly) and a young new teen (Tom Holland) whose been slinging webs a people to save them or capture them for the police, which Iron Man has caught via online surveillance and drops in to recruit him. The introduction of the former is handed well, while the latter is oddly too slap-dash for its own good. With the personal story of Cap saving Bucky cut back a bit, I thought we'd get more about the morals, ethics and even existential dilemma of what the heroes could and should do, but so many of the Marvel heroes are being added and juggled here, that gets lost in the shuffle a bit too. Scenes that were cut should have stayed in, but despite those issues, this is still an entertaining film (even in this more apparently commercial cut) and is well done with the actors in great form, the money on the screen and the energy in tact all the way. Thus, I definitely recommend it as one of the best Superhero genre feature films of late.


However, I have to fault one other thing about the film. I don't mind an ad placement here and there, especially if it is clever and a product I would actually be interested in. Yet, I found the constant appearances of Audi cars so obnoxious that it probably cost the actual film narrative power, which is 100% unacceptable. Add that we've seen these cars in previous films (including with Iron Man), no new car is added and these cars have become BORING, you get the most obnoxious ad placement of any kind in a while in a film I liked. We'll skip the bad films I recommend you skip because they are doomed to begin with. From Marvel, we expect better.


Extras include a feature-length audio commentary track with Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and the screenwriters, Extended & Deleted Scenes, the two-part United We Stand, Divided We Fall documentary, Captain America: Road To Civil War featurette, Iron Man: Road To Civil War featurette and Open Your Mind sneak peek at the new Dr. Strange film.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Batman looks really good for the format along with its decent artwork (slightly oversimplified, but fine) with good color and some good detail and depth. Make one wonder why no Blu-ray, but it is as good as any of the animated DC releases in either format of late.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D - Full Resolution digital High Definition image on Captain has its moments, but it is not any better than the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition 2D image transfer and looks like a conversion often. Fortunately, it has Director of Photography Trent Opaloch, whose work on films like District 9, Elysium, Chappie and previous series installment Captain America: The Winter Soldier makes him one of the best new high-profile cameramen in the business. There are some nice demo moments throughout, but I also like the consistency of the shoot including the use of the RED Epic Dragon and Arri Alexa (including the new 65) HD camera series, all integrating nicely throughout. We still get some off shots (motion blur) and some that don't gel, but this is a top rate presentation, though not jaw-dropping. I bet a 2160p presentation would definitely reveal more.



The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Batman is not bad and has some good surrounds, but the codec is undercutting the soundmaster, so I know a lossless version would work out much better.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Captain is well mixed and presented, but is a mixdown of the superior Dolby Atmos 11.1/IMAX 11.1 soundmaster used in the best theatrical screenings, so the multi-channel possibilities with the new format are lost in translation a bit. There are also a few moments where the mixdown runs into a little bit of trouble, but otherwise, the sonics here are strong and solid.



- Nicholas Sheffo


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