The Brink Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Max ZhangShawn YueJanice Man
  • Directors: Jonathan Li
  • Format: Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • DVD Release Date: August 13, 2019
  • Run Time: 100 minutes




        A few great action sequences alone do not make for a good movie. But when a film has good action, it becomes easier to dismiss minor flaws within the narrative. The Brink isn’t a film full of flaws so much as one that feels generic and forgettable save one or two carefully constructed action set pieces that impress. The action is good, but never so impressive that it is able to make the movie memorable. It doesn’t help that the simple premise is presented in a convoluted manner and the leading man seems to employ slight variations on a single emotion for the full run-time.



The Hustle Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Dean Norris
  • Director: Chris Addison
  • Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer, Jac Schaeffer
  • Producers: Rebel Wilson, Roger Birnbaum
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1), French Canadian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French Canadian, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 20, 2019
  • Run Time: 94 minutes



        There was online outrage with the decision to turn Ghostbusters into a female franchise. Whether it was coincidence or design, the gender reversal of old films shifted to properties with far less of a devoted fanbase. This meant less controversy over the repurposing of the material for female protagonists, but it also meant far less interest. There may have been no pushback for a gender reversal Overboard or What Women Want, but that’s probably because few people had little interest in the original narrative to begin with. I’m afraid The Hustle falls under this category, with most younger audiences unlikely to have even heard of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and fewer the one that came before. The biggest problem with the film isn’t a derivative story, however, but the way that it loses all of its bite in an effort to make sure a feminist message lasts, even when it contradicts the themes and structure of the original film.


Avengers: Endgame Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson
  • Directors: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: MARVEL
  • Release Date: August 13, 2019
  • Run Time: 181 minutes





        In the new world of Hollywood blockbusters, which is essentially all the industry seems interested in pursuing these days, two types of audiences must be considered: the average moviegoers, and the fan. When dealing with the average moviegoer, they are often reading film reviewers and critics because they are ignorant or undecided. They turn to the expert opinion (which is admittedly still subjective) in order to make a decision, whether it is deciding to see a film or coming to a decision about how they feel about the viewing experience/end product. Fans, on the other hand, mostly already have their mind made up; they are reading the professionals to either reinforce these preexisting beliefs, or to disagree with them. Often they only recognizing expertise if it is confirming their own opinion, otherwise insisting that all bad reviews must come from a bitter failed filmmaker rather than admitting any validity to an opinion that besmirches something they love.

Poms Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Phyllis Somerville
  • Director: Zara Hayes
  • Writer: Shane Atkinson
  • Producers: Kelly McCormick, Alex Saks, Andy Evans, Ade Shannon, Celyn Jones
  • Disc Format: NTSC, PAL, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 6, 2019
  • Run Time: 92 minutes



        Poms reminded me of a student film. Not every student film; as a film professor, I have seen many, and there seem to be two different types. There are the ones that are taking the opportunity to experiment and test boundaries, which usually results in the prototypical art student film, seeming to point to aspirations in avant-garde and independent filmmaking. Poms falls under the other category, with the students aspiring to imitate the Hollywood formulas, despite budgetary limitations. While it is less noticeable than it might be in a more action-oriented genre, there is much that appears amateur within Poms, despite the best efforts and good intentions by the cast and crew.

The Hustle Blu-ray Giveaway!


The Hustle is available on Blu-ray and DVD on August 20th
 

And Real Movie News has a copy for you! 
 

Shadow Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai
  • Director: Zhang Yimou
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Mandarin Chinese
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: August 13, 2019
  • Run Time: 116 minutes




        Shadow is a film that fulfills generic expectations while simultaneously, inexplicably, seemingly defies them to create something wholly unique, or at the very least revolutionary in its ability to revise a genre. We saw this before with the widespread success of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; a subtitled film which saw unprecedented success with Western audiences. Fittingly, Crouching Tiger was surpassed by Zhang Yimou’s Hero as the most profitable foreign film to be released in America (much of this success owed to Lee’s film paving the way, as well as Quentin Tarantino’s name attached as a seal of quality). Yimou’s career has rarely since met the same cultural response, though he has had varied success with the critics. Shadow seems to mark a return for both.

How Long Will I Love U Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jia Ying LeiLi Ya Tong
  • Directors: Lun Xu
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • DVD Release Date: August 6, 2019
  • Run Time: 101 minutes




        Following a tradition of blending the romantic genre narrative with icons and story devices from the science-fiction and fantasy genres (a trend that seems particularly prominent within Asian cinema in recent years), How Long Will I Love U is a refreshingly original idea, even if there remains a great deal of predictability/familiarity in its execution. In many ways, this has been the complaint about Danny Boyle’s Yesterday by critics, but the audience for romantic comedies is rarely one clamoring for creativity over the base enjoyments of the genre, and How Long Will I Love U makes certain not to sacrifice these expected elements, even if they counter the unpredictability of the science-fiction elements in the narrative.

The Island Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Qi ShuHuang BoWang Baoqiang
  • Directors: Huang Bo
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • DVD Release Date: July 30, 2019
  • Run Time: 134 minutes



        The Island has a premise that cleverly blends the apocalypse-paranoia themes common recently with a narrative that filters “Lord of the Flies” through an office hierarchy. It is an entertaining modern parable about a group of flawed individuals who could easily stand in as representatives for the variety of people existing in society together today. Each have their roles in civilized society, but once the office workers think that the world has been destroyed by an apocalyptic event, it alters their inherent civility.



The Swindlers Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Hyun Bin, Yoo Ji-tae, Bae Seong-woo
  • Director: Jang Chang-Won
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: July 30, 2019
  • Run Time: 117 minutes




        I almost feel bad for modern South Korean filmmakers. This generation is following one of the most innovative and prolific in the nation’s entire cinematic history, and many of the latest endeavors simply pale in comparison. The Swindlers is a perfect example of how South Korean cinema has learned from the successes of Hollywood, while also retaining very distinct national themes (revenge narratives are common across multiple genres). There is no difference between the way that Chang-Won Jang adopts the Ocean’s 11/Now You See Me/The Italian Job formula for Korean audiences and how Chan-Wook Park did the same with 90s thrillers (specifically Fincher films, The Game and Se7en) for his iconic ‘Vengeance Trilogy’ (Oldboy being the most influential in the West), other than the familiarity with this structure and the quality of the films imitated. The reason I feel bad for Jang is the same that I felt bad for every Tarantino-hack in the late 90s, but it isn’t enough to make The Swindlers a more memorable film.

Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Ward Crane, Frederick Vroom, Joseph Keaton
  • Directors: Buster Keaton, Donald Crisp
  • Writers: Jean C. Havez, Joseph A. Mitchell, Clyde Bruckman
  • Producers: Buster Keaton, Joseph M. Schenck
  • Disc Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • DVD Release Date: July 9, 2019
  • Run Time: 111 minutes





        Buster Keaton’s most remembered and technically accomplished feature films is, without a doubt, The General (featured in Volume 1 of the Buster Keaton Collection). If we are talking about innovation within the medium, however, few films have contributed quite so much as the accomplished Sherlock Jr., which is featured in Volume 2 alongside The Navigator, which displays Keaton’s endless creativity with slapstick and comedic timing. Sherlock Jr. is not only a great early slapstick film, it is one of the first films to really expand on the potential discovered in Georges Méliès’ ‘magic show’ shorts.

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Michelle Yeoh, Tony Jaa, Dave Bautista, Max Zhang
  • Disc Format: Dolby, HiFi Sound, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Dubbed: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: July 23, 2019
  • Run Time: 107 minutes





        There were so many diverging plots in Ip Man 3, one would be forgiven for forgetting the place Cheung Tin Chi (Max Zhang) has in the series, despite his being given the first spin-off film in the franchise. With that being said, Master Z: Ip Man Legacy lives up to its name, and earns the honor of carrying ‘Ip Man’ in the title, despite his complete absence in physical presence from the film. For those eager for the upcoming Ip Man 4, Master Z is a welcome deviation in the meantime.


The Intruder DVD Review

  • Actors: Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Joseph Sikora
  • Director: Deon Taylor
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Thai, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, English, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, English
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: Region 1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 30, 2019
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2020 
  • Run Time: 102 minutes



        When a horror film’s social or political subtext becomes more important than the logic of the narrative and the characters within it, it is somewhat like being able to see behind the curtain. The surface narrative of horror should be strong enough to support the themes, not the other way around. While The Intruder is clearly playing upon some real American fears, with an aggressive white landowner as the villain against a newly arrived/assimilated black couple, it does so with zero subtlety and consistently illogical behavior written into each character as a lazy way of moving the story (and its racially-driven themes) forward. Taking the home invasion narrative away from the post-9/11 terrorist anxieties and replacing it with fears of white nationalists refusing to surrender ‘their’ America to the minorities they consider to be ‘less American,’ all that The Intruder is missing is a good film to go with its themes (ones already visited in the last installment of The Purge franchise).



Breakthrough Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Chrissy Metz, Topher Grace, Josh Lucas, Mike Colter, Rebecca Staab
  • Director: Roxann Dawson
  • Disc Format: Blu-ray
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG 
     Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: July 16, 2019




American faith-based films love their child-in-peril narratives like no other, with the possible exception of underdog sports stories. They also love cherry-picking the ones in which the child recovers despite all medical professionals predicting otherwise, making them films more interested in encouraging the belief in miracles than a need for faith itself. In other words, American Christian-made movies tend to celebrate wish-fulfillment rather than faith in God’s plan, leaving audience members having suffered real loss with unsavory questions about why their faith wasn’t rewarded in the same way. Breakthrough almost addresses this troubling question through the filter of the central survivor, but quickly sacrifices it for easily digestible messages of inspiration and repaired relationship.


Swing Kids Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jared Grimes, Doh Kyung-Soo, Park Hye-Su
  • Director: Kang Hyoung-Chul
  • Disc Format: Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: June 18, 2019
  • Run Time: 133 minutes





   When I heard the title of the 2018 South Korean musical, Swing Kids, my first thoughts were of the 1993 American film with the same name. Despite both being backstage musicals set during wartime, I assumed that similarities would end there and the re-used title was merely a coincidence rather than a reference. Though it may be true that the filmmaker did not directly intend to make a connection between the two films, the similarities are also impossible to ignore. Swing Kids (’93) is a film about German youths attempting to grow up and enjoy ordinary lives appreciating swing music during an era of the Nazi regime and war that was anything but ordinary. Similarly, Swing Time (2018) is about a group of people finding simple pleasures in dance during wartime. Even more remarkably, while Swing Kids (’93) is an American film with German protagonists, Swing Kids (2018) is a South Korean film with North Korean characters as the primary focus. Most importantly, both films (along with the French Joyeux Noel) celebrate the empathetic powers of music and artistic expression during wartime, specifically considering those on the opposite side from the country in which the film is made.


Furie Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Veronica Ngo, Cat Vy
  • Director: Le-Van Kiet
  • Disc Format: Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: June 25, 2019
  • Run Time: 98 minutes



        Americans notoriously avoid foreign films. The sad reality is that even those deemed the best of all imported cinema (subjectively determined by year-end lists and awards), are often ignored by a large majority of audiences in this country. The rare exception of a financially successful foreign film is often completely distanced from the idea of what wins awards, and tends to exist within a familiar genre convention. In the past, horror fans have flocked to the notoriously gruesome offerings of different cultures, but I have noticed the genre most influenced by foreign markets in recent years has been the action/martial arts movie. Ironically, while Furie’s major selling point is the casting of a Vietnamese actress already successful in Hollywood (Veronica Ngo from Star Wars: The Last Jedi), it is a film that will likely be an introduction to Vietnamese action for most in Hollywood. And for many it will be the first Vietnamese film they have seen; in fact, it was the first ever to be released theatrically in the United States, in any genre.

Between the Lines Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: John Heard, Lindsay Crouse, Jeff Goldblum, Jill Eikenberry, Bruno Kirby
  • Director: Joan Micklin Silver
  • Writers: Fred Barron, David Helpern
  • Producer: Raphael D. Silver
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (PCM Mono)
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 18, 2019
  • Run Time: 102 minutes



        Between the Lines feels as though it must have had its finger on the pulse of the counter-culture movement of the seventies, while simultaneously serving as an awkward reminder of how much even the liberals and progressives of that time were politically incorrect by today’s standards. The film follows a group of employees working at an alternative newspaper in Boston which is on the verge of a buyout from a major publishing company. Leaning heavily on the idea that selling out means a lack of integrity, Between the Lines feels laughably dated in its sensibilities (which would have been completely dismissed had the film been made a few years later, in the 1980s), but even worse is the awful treatment of female characters amidst the illusion of ‘free love.’ Sadder yet is the fact that this incredibly misogynistic film was directed by the rare female director.

Us 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
  • Director: Jordan Peele
  • Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French Canadian, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 18, 2019
  • Run Time: 117 minutes



Hype is a dangerous thing in the entertainment industry. One way this can take form is when fans have expectations set from previous success. Just ask any fans of “Game of Thrones” what they thought about the final season, and you will get a taste of the effects of this. No matter what the medium, following up an initial success is always a difficult task. The greater the success, the harder the task of following it up will be, so Jordan Peele was taking something of a risk when he decided to return right to the horror genre after the Academy-Award-nominated Get Out.

Captain Marvel Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson
  • Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: MARVEL
  • Release Date: June 11, 2019
  • Run Time: 124 minutes


Captain Marvel marked the arrival of the first female-led superhero film from Marvel Studios, a fact that would have been far more impactful if it weren’t for that other superhero franchise getting there first and the fact that it took Marvel so many years (and sooo many movies) to finally release one themselves. The film itself, with some distance from its theatrical release, is likely to be best remembered for the petty online bickering between its star and internet trolls (from which neither emerged looking great) rather than any content in the movie itself. This seems especially true now that Avengers: Endgame has made Captain Marvel’s contributions to the franchise almost inconsequential, save a cheesy female-pride sequence during its final battle.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 4K Ultra HD Review




        As rare as a non-Disney/Pixar animated success story is in Hollywood, it is not surprising that those which are successful inevitably parlay it into additional films. How to Train Your Dragon first captured the attention of audiences in 2010 (released by Paramount Pictures), followed by a sequel in 2014 (released by 20th Century Fox), with the final installation being this year’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (released by Universal Pictures). With a fitting close to the story of Hiccup and Toothless (the most unlikely of hero names) found in the last chapter of the trilogy, it looks as though Dreamworks is in the market for a new animation franchise to compete with.