Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants
(DC Comics/Warner DVD)/Captain
America: Civil War 3D
(Marvel Comics/Disney Blu-ray 3D with Blu-ray/both 2016)
Picture: B Picture: C+/B Sound: C+/B+ Extras: C-/B-
two of the newest Superhero films and two of the better of late....
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
(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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.