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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Animation > Comedy > Satire > Live Action > Romance > Teens > Science Ficti > Batman Vs. Two-Face (2017/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Spider-Man Homecoming (2017/Marvel Studios/Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Superman: The Movie Extended Edition/Special Edition (1978/DC C

Batman Vs. Two-Face (2017/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Spider-Man Homecoming (2017/Marvel Studios/Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Superman: The Movie Extended Edition/Special Edition (1978/DC Comics/Warner Archive Blu-ray Set)



4K Ultra HD Picture: A Picture: B & C/B+/B Sound: B & C+/A/B Extras: C+/B/B Films: C+/B/B



PLEASE NOTE: The special Superman: The Movie Blu-ray set with the very long Extended Cut is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Rumors of the decline or death of the Superhero genre are exaggerated, false and to the contrary with these three new key releases...



Batman Vs. Two-Face


Batman Vs. Two-Face (2017) is the sequel to the animated Return Of The Caped Crusaders film (reviewed elsewhere on this site) that once again reunited Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin. Spoofing the show and overplaying the camp aspect a bit, the first release was enough of a hit for a sequel, but it would turn out to be West's last time a the Caped Crusader, passing away not long after this production.


This time out, we get the very first appearance of Harvey Dent and Two-Face in the West/Ward version of the franchise, in part because Two-Face was considered too graphic for mid-1960s prime time television, so the alternative False Face character (which I liked) was invented and the character did not surface live action legitimately until Tommy Lee Jones brought him to life in Joel Schumacher's slightly underrated Batman Forever (replacing Billy Dee Williams, who would have had the role if Schumacher had not replaced Producer Tim Burton as director).


We first meet up with Batman talking to Catwoman (Julie Newmar) when he should probably know better, but as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, soon have to good back to their 'normal' lives as Wayne continues to back new District Attorney Harvey Dent. But soon, a crazy plot to harvest the evil of Gotham's top arch criminals will backfire and Dent will become the split-personality villain Two-Face.


This is at least as good as the first animated film, flaws and all, having fun with the wealth of great things the original series had going for it. The old rouge's gallery of villains are brought out in larger numbers than you would expect (where more than one actor played the role on the show, the artists use the Frank Gorshin model for The Riddler and Eli Wallach for Mr. Freeze) and that is a plus here. However, the biggest surprise is William Shatner, voicing Two-Face/Harvey Dent and really delivering better than you might imagine. He pulls it off in unexpected ways, making this the adventure the TV networks could no longer censor. Cheers to the new voice actors doing their best to impersonate the great actors who played the villains, Chief O'Hara, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred and Aunt Harriett.


But again, this was West's last Batman outing, a character that may have held him back in his career later (he was almost cast as James Bond for a minute and was disappointed to not at least have a cameo in the 1989 Batman), but did so much more work most people have not seen (Robinson Crusoe On Mars, reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site, or as a sex education teacher in Tommy's school on the 1970s TV series classic Alice) and had more talent than people will ever realize he had.


West was one of the great gentlemen actors from a Hollywood that has been too lost for the good of us all, with West never being thanked or appreciated enough for what he had done. By making Batman work, he refreshed and renewed comic books, the Superhero genre, American Pop Culture and in the long run, it saved Hollywood's fortunes.


A moment of silence please for a very talented, classy performer and man who made a real difference in the best possible way....



This 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray is solid and colorful like the previous animated film, even if some animation is crude (sometimes intentionally so) with a well-recorded and mixed DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless soundtrack that is a pleasure to hear. The anamorphically enhanced DVD was slightly softer than I would have liked, with its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 passable, if not great for the old, now dated codec.


Extras include The Wonderful World of Burt Ward (featurette) spotlighting Burt Ward's life away from acting, particularly his many benevolent activities, and his lifelong devotion to the health and welfare of dogs, The Adam West Tribute Panel/2017 Comic-Con International 2017 at the 2017 Comic-Con International in San Diego where a panel celebrated the life and times of the late Adam West, the legendary 'Bright Knight.' Fans laughed, cried and cheered as actress Lee Meriwether (Catwoman from the 1966 Batman feature film), director/writer/actor Kevin Smith, actor/radio personality Ralph Garman, producer James Tucker and moderator Gary Miereanu captivated the audience with anecdotes and tales about Adam West and, finally, actors Burt Ward and Julie Newmar, in separate clips, discussing various aspects of their lives, ambitions and inspirations.



Spider-Man Homecoming 4K


Spider-Man is arguably the most popular comic book character in the world, or at least in terms of Marvel Comics characters. While Sam Raimi's first two films (Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004., both reviewed elsewhere on this site) starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst to name a few) were solid installments that helped make the comic book film genre as popular (and taken as seriously by fans) as it is in today's pop culture world gone amok. Infamously, the third film (2007's Spider-Man 3, also reviewed on this site) in Raimi's series was a rushed critical flop and a far cry from its comic book origins. It did, however, rake in boat loads of cash and while Raimi and his crew decided to pursue other avenues, it became clear that in order for the character to live on, he would have to get a fresh start.


So in 20012, Sony decided to reboot the franchise a few years later with Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 with Andrew Garfield taking over the role as the web-slinger. Needless to say, the reviews from fans and critics were mixed on those installments, as the studio decided to take a darker approach with the character after the success of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. Fast forward to 2016 and Marvel Studios and Disney are the leader in commercially successful comic book films with two Avengers films, trilogies for Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor (his third installment is about to be released only weeks from this posting).


While the pairing of Spider-Man with all of his comic book counterparts onscreen seemed like a no-brainer for fans, the legal battles over the character were complex and lasted for several years (with several companies before James Cameron's Spider-Man came and went unmade). Then one glorious day on the internet, genre movie websites broke the world wide web with reports that Sony and Marvel/Disney had finally made a deal to bring Spider-Man home, so to speak, with a new multi-picture deal for the character to appear in Captain America: Civil War (2016) where he aids the all star Avengers cast in an epic showdown. At first the addition of the character was meant to be a surprise for fans, as the studio even went as far as to leave him off posters and even erased him out of shots of the trailers until the film was released in theaters. However, Hollywood is not as it used to be, and the beans were spilled months ahead of time online. Still, fans enthusiastically see the films no matter what.


That being said, Civil War really needs to be seen before you see this film to get a better sense of how the character fits into the world and where we are in the timeline of the narrative. Relative newcomer Tom Holland steps into the role of Peter Parker and lends his unique psychical talents to the character and captures the character's sense of youthful excitement towards meeting real-life superheroes. Even though he's British in real life (as was Garfield), he plays an American well and also channels a young Michael J. Fox is in approach to the character.


Directed by Jon Watts (who had independent film success with 2015's drama/thriller Cop Car) achieved overnight success with this and adapted to the Hollywood studio system well. He even recently signed on to direct the second installment. The huge cast of Spider-Man Homecoming (2017) is packed full of stars which includes Marisa Tomei (as a younger, sexier Aunt May), Michael Keaton as the villain Vulture (which hasn't been seen on film prior), the multi-talented rising star/musician (known as Childish Gambino) Donald Glover (who is soon be young Lando in the Star Wars spinoff Han Solo directed by Ron Howard), acclaimed young actor Tony Revolori (Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel) and pop culture darling Zendaya (who got her start in Disney Channel's sitcom Shake It Up) to name a few.


Of course several characters from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) make cameos which includes (Iron Man 1 and 2's Director) Jon Favreau returning as Happy Hogan, an obligatory Stan Lee cameo (he pops up in every Marvel movie somewhere and I love that!), Chris Evans' Captain America, Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts, and Robert Downey Jr. as a major supporting role as Spider-Man's mentor, Tony Stark/Iron Man.


A throwback to John Hughes films from the '80s in a sense, Spider-Man Homecoming follows Peter Parker (Holland) as he struggles with his dual life as a mild-mannered nerdy teenager in High School and his trail-and-error blossoming into his infamous super-hero alter ego. Having gotten a taste of the action on a grand scale during the events of Civil War, Parker is now bored with his normal teen life and can't help but daydream about officially joining the Avengers.


After being a little reckless in the line of duty despite his well intentions, Stark decides to take away Parker's new suit, taking him a few giant steps back on his Superhero progression. Meanwhile, as laid out in a great opening sequence, a disgruntled city worker going by the name of Vulture (Keaton), has made his own 'under the radar' business by stealing and distributing alien weaponry left behind after the Avengers' intergalactic battles the world over - a plot point that would likely happen in the event that this universe actually existed. Crafting his own villainous alter ego with impressive military-grade armor and leading a gang of thick-headed thugs, Vulture decides to test the emerging Spider-Man in an epic technological face-off that even Iron Man may be unable to help him win...


In an effort to make this new version of Spider-Man different than previous cinematic incarnations, Marvel Studios decided to make their Spider-Man a mid-high school student not yet concerned about college. Most importantly, Marvel Studios decided to skip over the character's tragic origin story of his Uncle Ben dying and how he came to acquire his unique senses and abilities. Much like Batman, it seems like all prior Spider-Man movies couldn't help but dwell way too long on how he became Spider-Man, where in this film we get to skip over what we already know. Much like The Amazing Spider-Man, Parker has to use webbing tech as opposed to the more 'natural' webbing protruding from his body as seen in Raimi's version. The costume design itself is a bit closer to the comic version that fans have come to know and love, aside from the addition of limited Stark-tech that includes enough bells and whistles to make James Bond himself jealous.


As established in Civil War, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) is the one who discovers Parker and gives him his first real techno-suit and the chance he needs to be a big league hero. Some fans grumbled about this change to the character's upbringing upon the film's release, but ultimately it works well in the narrative of the MCU and doesn't feel forced. It also allows Robert Downey Jr's aging character to be a sort of father figure to Parker and makes him more impactful to the narrative than doing his usual same old schtick amidst sharing the screen with other strongly developed characters. Marvel Studios also smart to leave out the tired Green Goblin/Harry Osbourne storyline that both previous cinematic installments hit its audiences over the head with one time too many. Of course, Osbourne is to Spidey what The Joker is to Batman so he will have to show up eventually, but it's still nice to see the change in direction here.


Presented in stunning 2160p HECV/H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image 4K Ultra High Definition on the new 4K UHD disc format with a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a powerful 11.1 Dolby Atmos lossless sound mix, this is the most solid cinematic experience you can get of the film at home at this time. Don't fret if you can't quite afford the Atmos setup yet, as the English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mix sounds fine and is presented on the disc in various language tracks. The best theatrical presentations included 11.1 Atmos, Auro 11.1, IMAX 11.1 and Sonix DDP.


When compared presentation-wise to (also included) 1080p high definition Blu-ray, the attention to detail in the film's character and production design is more evident. Everything down to the lines of fabric on Spider-Man's suit, the metallic Iron Man armor, this way of seeing the film is the most accurate to the filmmaker's original vision and leaves little to be desired. Also included is a Digital (highly compressed) UV copy of the film that will REALLY show you the impressiveness of the 4K UHD transfer!


The new score by Michael Giacchino isn't bad, but not as memorable as Danny Elfman's iconic themes heard in the first Raimi installments and besting Hans Zimmer's weird experimental score heard in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Giacchino, who rose to fame thanks to J.J. Abrams, is becoming the next John Williams in terms of genre film score composers having outdone himself with the score to last year's Star Wars: Rogue One and Marvel's Dr. Strange. Unlike Williams though, Giacchino's work can be hit and miss with some of his tunes sounding a bit derivative of the work that came before it. This sense of deja vu is felt in the Homecoming score, which doesn't necessarily stick out aside from a fun rendition of the classic Spider-Man theme in the opening title sequence.


The set is packed with extras, which includes:


The Spidey Study Guide


10 Deleted Scenes


Gag Reel


Seven Featurettes:

"A Tangled Web"

"Searching For Spider-Man"

"Spidey Stunts"

"Aftermath"

"The Vulture Takes Flight"

"Jon Watts: Head of the Class"

"Pros And Cons of Spider-Man"


Rappin' with Cap: Captain America PSAs


Photo Gallery


The Spidey Study Guide


Photo Gallery



While not the strongest entry in the extensive Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man Homecoming proves to be a fresh take on a classic character. Boasting an intelligent script and top notch special effects, Homecoming was also a commercial and critical success despite the overall drab box office numbers in Summer 2017... an impressive feat considering it had to compete against DC's Wonder Woman in the box office, then it straight up stole the target audience away from the latest Transformers film. This is no doubt a relief to Sony, who didn't come out on top with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Would they have gotten the same success had Spidey not joined the Avengers roster? Likely not.


Of course, Holland's Spidey will return in next year's Avengers: Infinity War and in his own spin-off films for the foreseeable future. What other plans Sony has for the Spider-Man universe at this point remains a little unclear as they also recently announced a (supposedly R-rated) Venom film with Tom Hardy in the near future that could go either way. While Hardy's Venom will likely not cross over with Holland's Spidey, it will be interesting to see if multiple cinematic interpretations of the same characters (and universes) can hold up when pitted against each other in the box office.


At the end of the day, Homecoming looks great on 4K UHD, a format that Disney recently embraced with the impressive presentation of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I'm sure they will issue all of the previous films gradually on the new format in the months or (hopefully not) years ahead or in some super expensive boxset. However, regardless of what format you watch this film on, whether you're a diehard fan or just a casual one, it's hard to disagree that there isn't a lot to love here.



Superman: The Movie Extended Edition/Special Edition


Released only one year after the original Star Wars in theaters, Richard Donner's classic Superman: The Movie (1978) wowed audiences of all ages with its groundbreaking special effects in an effective origin story of the Man of Steel. Of course now, Superhero films are the norm but back when this film was originally released, there weren't many for audiences to geek out over. The film shows its age in many instances, but the unmistakable energy and creativeness of the production still is and always will be magnificent to watch.


While the film has been released numerous times over the years, this new Blu-ray set features the Extended (the longer television edit, now widescreen here) and Special Edition versions on two Blu-ray discs from Warner Archive for the first time. The TV edit is a stunning forty minutes longer than the theatrical release making it a must see for fans. Most of these scenes were included on previous versions of the film on DVD and Blu-ray as Deleted Scenes supplemental material only. In this edition, these scenes have been edited back into the feature film to present it as it was originally broadcast on ABC back in 1982 over the course of two nights.


Starring Christopher Reeve as Superman, the film features an all star supporting cast in Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder, Trevor Howard, Glenn Ford, Ned Beatty, and Jackie Cooper to name a few. With a screenplay by Mario Puzo (The Godfather), and an iconic score by John Williams, this timeless feature will stand the test of time despite new interpretations. To fans who aren't as familiar with the series, there were three original sequels to this film (with the second installment being the only one worth revisiting), Bryan Singer's mediocre Superman Returns (2006) which served as a continuation of this cinematic timeline.


Clark Kent (Reeves) is an orphan alien child from an obliterated planet known as Krypton. Sent to Earth by his Father Kal-El (Brando), Clark lives an honest life under the guidance of kind farmers Jonathan (Ford) and Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter), and grows into a respectable man despite his superhuman powers. Discovering his own origins and molding into the hero he's destined to be, Clark becomes Superman. Moving to Metropolis, Superman falls for a beautiful reporter named Lois Lane (Kidder) and faces off against the villainous Lex Luthor (Hackman).

This new 1080p HD transfer of both versions of the film are presented in the original 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio (shot in 35mm anamorphic Panavision) with great care done to better the overall look of the film. The sound mixes are similar but a bit different with an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless track (for the Special Edition) and a 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo track (with some distortion in parts, for the Extended Cut) with Pro Logic surrounds that revitalize the film's intricate mix and classic score.



Special Features (on the Special Edition disc) include:


Commentary by Director Richard Donner and Creative Consultant Tom Mankiewicz


Taking Flight: The Development of Superman


Making Superman: Filming the Legend


The Magic Behind the Cape


Screen Tests


Restored/Additional Scenes


Additional Music Cues


Music-Only Track



This disc is hours of entertainment on a classic and definitely a welcome edition to any cinephile or comic book fan's movie collection. Hopefully, a 4K UHD version (of the Original Theatrical and Special Edition cuts at least) of the film will be available in the near future but, we can only speculate at this point.



To order the Superman Warner Archive Blu-ray set, go to this link for that and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- James Lockhart & Nicholas Sheffo (Batman)

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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