The Batman (Warner Bros., 2 Blu-ray + DVD, PG-13, 176 min.). The beginning of yet another planned trilogy, Matt Reeves’ film reimagines the character, played by Robert Pattinson (the “Twilight” films), as an excessively brooding, unsure, wanna-be hero in only his second year of operating as Batman in a Gotham that is spiraling into violence and decay. The film is very much a detective noir of the 1940s, with some 1970s-ish violence.

There is a mayoralty campaign going on, which recalls to Bruce Wayne his own father’s campaign 20 years previously, which ended when he saw both his parents shot down, making him an orphan, albeit a wealthy one, to be raised by manservant Alfred (Andy Serkis, who voiced Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” series, Caesar in the “Apes” films). While Bruce has donned the cowl of the caped crusader, he does not believe he has made much of a difference as his opening voice-over explains.

Suddenly, the mayoralty race is over, as four-time Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. is brutally murdered at his residence. The killer has left a card with a riddle inside for Batman, so this is the early days of The Riddler, aka Edward Nashton (Paul Dano). The Riddler will add to his victim count – each time leaving Batman a card – and eventually Batman and his police ally Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright (HBO’s “Westworld”) realize that all those attacked are related to a cover-up that may have involved Thomas Wayne as well.

Reeves (“War for the Planet of the Apes”), who also co-wrote the film, also gives us the beginnings of Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz) as an equally aggressive Catwoman – again Batman has mixed feelings – and a tantalizing glimpse of The Joker-to-be. The film could be seen as a nod to “The French Connection” in its high-speed – often going the wrong way against heavy traffic – chase of Oz, aka The Penguin (a nearly unrecognizable Coin Farrell). The chase is the film’s highlight, although Batman and the city have to deal with flooding later.

Pattinson, who is rarely seen as Bruce Wayne here, ably explores the brooding darkness of Batman. Often, the performance recalls Travis Bickle of “Taxi Driver.”

The other major player is drug dealer/nightclub owner Carmine Falcone (John Turturro of “Barton Fink,” “The Name of the Rose” miniseries), for whom Oz currently works.

Despite the film’s nearly three-hour length, it moves quickly – especially the first hour, as the viewer is immersed into the sordid world Reeves has created. This version of the Batmobile is very muscular, with a blocky front to take punishment, which it has to do in the chase. The cinematography by Greg Fraser (Oscar winner for “Dune’) is outstanding, especially his use of shadow and silhouette as he captures the grittiness of this Gotham. The music score, filled with horns and percussion, is by Michael Giacchino, known for his Pixar movie music.

There is a whole disc of extras, including two deleted scenes with Reeves’ audio commentary (7:46, but no film commentary) and a detailed making-of feature, focusing on storytelling and development (53:41). There also are looks at Pattinson’s physical skills (4:57), the genesis of the film and seeking a Kurt Cobain look for Bruce (6:09), Dano discussing how Riddler and Batman both are vigilantes (8:04), Kravitz becoming Catwoman (8:36), the Batmobile (10:51) and closer looks at the car chase (6:08) and the wing suit jump (6:29). Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 3.25 stars
Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Infinite (Paramount, 4K Ultra HD or Blu-ray, PG-13, 106 min.). This is a globe-trotting action/science fiction film that veers from confusing to slick to worthless. The basic plot is there are some 500 people who constantly reincarnate and can remember their past lives. These are now divided into two warring groups: the Infinites, who believe in protection and growth for all mankind; and the Nihilists, who are tired of it all and want to end humanity. The head Nihilist (Chiwetel Ejiofor as Bathurst) has developed an egg that will destroy all human DNA, but Infinite Treadway has stolen and then hidden the egg.

Treadway (Dylan O’Brien of TV’s “Teen Wolf,” the “Maze Runner” films) has been reincarnated as Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg, much better in “Uncharted”), who has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic due to his partial visions of the past, while shock therapy and a metal plate in his head have prevented him from fully recalling his past lives and even the existence of the egg, let alone its whereabouts.

The film opens with a car chase in Mexico City, with Treadway trying to hide the egg. He succeeds but dies. In the present, McCauley is arrested after killing a drug dealer in an altercation over the selling of a katana he made. Bathurst shows up, tries to make McCauley remember he was Treadway, and then there is an outrageous car chase through the police station as Infinite Nora Brightman (Sophie Cookson) drives through the exterior wall to rescue McCauley, who is then taken to the Hub in the Himalayas to be trained so his memories return.

Portions of the film resemble the future depicted in the “Terminator” films, while the absurd aerial ending tries to outdo the string of cargo containers in “Uncharted.” Oh, and McCauley rides a motorcycle to catch a flying plane and does so by driving off a cliff onto its wing. Again, an absurdity.

Antoine Fuqua directed the film, reuniting him with Wahlberg (see “Shooter” below). Extras include cast and crew discussing the film (7:43), a look at the action scenes (8:56), closer looks at the police station and forest scenes (12:55) and exploring the concepts behind the film’s ending (5:11). Grade: film 1.5 stars; extras 2 stars

Shooter (2007, Paramount, 4K Ultra HD, R, 125 min.). Much better is this Antoine Fuqua film that stars Mark Wahlberg as former Marine scout and sniper Bob Lee Swagger, who is pressed into service to stop the assassination of the president, only to be double-crossed and framed for the attempt. The storyline also led to a 2016 series on USA Network. For this Steelbook edition, the extras – minus the director’s audio commentary – have been ported over from the 2007 Blu-ray release. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 2 stars.

One-Armed Boxer (Taiwan, 1972, Arrow Video, Blu-ray, NR, 93 min.). Following his turn as a one-armed swordsman, “Jimmy” Wang Yu plays a one-armed fighter in a film he directed and wrote. He plays Yu Tien Lung, a top martial artist who, after incurring the wrath of a local gang leader, is attacked by a team of deadly mercenaries and has his right arm violently severed. Yu Tien then trains his remaining arm to be stronger than ever and burns away all the nerves in his hand so he can use the Crippled Fist style.

The film is nearly non-stop fighting throughout. There are five brawls in the first half hour alone. When the mercenaries are hired by the rival Hook Gang, a series of 14 one-on-one battles follow, featuring a multitude of unique and inventive fight styles against opponents from around the world, including Japanese and Okinawan karate experts, Tibetan monks, Thai kickboxers and Indian Yoga experts. The result is one of the most influential and exciting martial arts films of the 1970s, despite occasional silliness, such as balancing on one finger, some pre-fight mumbo jumbo and occasional speeded-up action.

Extras include audio commentary by Frank Djeng; a 2001 previously unseen interview with Wang Yu, in English, on his career, with images and clips from his films running in the right-half of the screen (41:16); alternate English opening credits, when it was called “The Chinese Professionals”; trailer and image galleries; and a booklet with essays by David West and Simon Abrams. Grade: film 3.25 stars; extras 3 stars.

A Taste of Blood (Argentina, Cleopatra/MVD Visual, Blu-ray, NR, 90 min.). In this vampire film from A.K. Tolstoy, vampires like to feed on family members. When a vampiric uncle shows up, the father goes out to hunt him, leaving the rest of the easily shaken family to wonder if dear old dad has been turned, after he returns. Here, vampires are known as Vurdalaks and originated in Serbia. The beginning is a bit confusing, but then dad returns from the hunt. There is a lot of running around in the dark and character choices are almost never the best. Extras include a slide show and a 15-song soundtrack CD, featuring Christian Death, Rosetta Stone, Electric Hellfire Club, and others. Grade: film 2.5 stars; extra 3.25 stars.

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.

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