Girls vs. Gangsters DVD Review

  • Actors: Mike Tyson, Ivy Chen, Yang Zishan
  • Director: Barbara Wong Chun-Chun
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2018
  • Run Time: 138 minutes




        Although Girls vs. Gangsters is a sequel to a previously established Chinese franchise, most American audiences are more likely to find it recognizable due to the similarities in plot structure to the Hangover movies. Besides a gender swap and a far more conservative approach to the content, Girls vs. Gangsters owes so much to the Hangover formula that derivative is the only fair word to use in description. On the other hand, those who long for the silliness of those stories within an innocuous female buddy comedy need look no further.

The Witch Files DVD Review

  • Actors: Paget Brewster
  • Director: Kyle Rankin
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Mpi Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2018
  • Run Time: 87 minutes




        The Witch Files feels like a rejected CW teen series that was reworked into a low budget independent film. And in case it isn’t clear, I don’t mean that as a compliment. With a cast of flat teenage stereotypes played by attractive mannequins standing in for actors, a nonsensical found-footage format, and cheesy CGI effects, I was thankful for a run-time under 90-minutes. Even with improved budget and cast, I don’t think I could have endured an entire season of a Witch Files TV series.

Molly Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Julia Batelaan, Emma de Paauw, Annelies Appelhof, Andre Dongelmans, Joost Bolt
  • Directors: Colinda Bongers, Thijs Meuwese
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Artsploitation
  • Release Date: October 2, 2018
  • Run Time: 91 minutes




        Had Molly been a Hollywood film, it would feel like a dozen other postapocalyptic sci-fi films. Add to that a teenage protagonist with special supernatural abilities that may save the world, and little about Molly doesn’t feel derivative. The most original and impressive things about the film have to do with the production rather than the final product. Not only is the scope of the film more impressive due to the obvious budget limitations, but it also has the unique distinction of being from the Netherlands.

The First Purge Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Steve Harris, Marisa Tomei
  • Director: Gerard McMurray
  • Writer: James DeMonaco
  • Producers: Jason Blum, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Sebastien K. Lemercier
  • Format: 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 2, 2018
  • Run Time: 98 minutes




        Horror movies are an indicator of their times, and there seems to be no better example in the past decade than The Purge franchise. Following the unexpected attacks of 9/11, The Purge captured those anxieties in a home invasion thriller. And as the sequels continued the narrative, they only became more political, with the last installment utilizing a tagline that was blatantly borrowed from Donald Trump’s political campaign slogan. The First Purge is a prequel, but it is every bit as politically and socially relevant, even if it lacks the focus of previous installments.

Occupation Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Temuera Morrison, Bruce Spence, Jacqueline McKenzie
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • Release Date: September 25, 2018




        For those who haven’t had their fill of Hollywood blockbusters and don’t want to wait until next summer for more mindless entertainment, the Australian film industry has begun to follow suit. Although they are not the only national cinema to imitate America’s money-based industry of spectacle, the shared language makes the Australian film industry and natural one for easy import. While most foreign films are thought to bring American audiences respite from the typical special-effects-driven narratives, Occupation embraces them.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda
  • Director: J.A. Bayona
  • Writers: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
  • Producers: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Belen Atienza, Steven Spielberg
  • Disc Format: 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 18, 2018
  • Run Time: 129 minutes




        If nothing else, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom finally advances the narrative of the Jurassic Park franchise beyond the usual creature feature thrills. Before the film’s halfway mark, gone is the amusement park, destroyed by lava and forcing the story in a new direction. Even the revival of the franchise with Jurassic World simply felt like a derivative rehash of the original premise, but the latest sequel has added an interesting moral question to the story. While the first film utilized knowledge about cutting edge science to image the possibilities of cloning dinosaurs, it is only with the latest film that these ideas have been advanced to the next natural step.

Phantasm IV: Oblivion Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Angus Scrimm;A. Michael Baldwin;Reggie Bannister
  • Director: Don Coscarelli
  • Disc Format: Digital Sound, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: September 18, 2018
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        Easily the most confusing film since the original, I had no idea what was happening through much of Phantasm IV: Oblivion. It does the familiar plot structure lifted from the previous films in the franchise, which mostly features Reggie hitting on young women he meets on his journey to find/help Mike. There is creative gore and some beyond surreal sequences, with none of the coherence from the previous two films. Fans of filmmaker Don Coscarelli’s bizarre world may appreciate the continuation of carnage, but most will recognize that the ideas that were once boldly original must continually be reinvented, and Phantasm IV is not always successful in this endeavor.

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Angus Scrimm;A. Michael Baldwin;Reggie Bannister
  • Director: Don Coscarelli
  • Disc Format: Digital Sound, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: September 18, 2018
  • Run Time: 92 minutes


Although it may mostly just be more of the same bizarre supernatural horror as the first sequel, and in some ways it is an even more blatant attempt to recapture some of the successful elements of the first film, I tend to like Phantasm III more than any of the other sequels in the franchise. Even though they had distribution established, Phantasm III was made independently of a studio, allowing director Don Coscarelli to retain his artistic freedom once again. This meant the return of A. Michael Baldwin, as well as some of the franchise’s most graphic scenes of violence.

The Escape DVD Review

  • Actors: Gemma Arterton, Dominic Cooper
  • Director: Dominic Savage
  • Disc Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: IFC Independent Film
  • DVD Release Date: August 14, 2018
  • Run Time: 101 minutes




        Despite a title that sounds like a thriller or action vehicle of some sort, The Escape is as minimalistic as filmmaking gets. It is a character study that only allows us an outside view of the character. Although we spend nearly all of the running time with a single character, it is possible to get to the end of the film without having much insight into what is going on internally. The Escape is singularly focused on the depression of a mother and wife in London, but it only allows the audience a surface view of the emotional distress, and the result is often less than sympathetic.

Operation Red Sea Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Zhang Yi;Huang Jingyu;Hai Qing;Du Jiang
  • Director: Dante Lam
  • Disc Format: Color, Digital Sound, Dolby, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Mandarin Chinese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: July 24, 2018
  • Run Time: 139 minutes




        Although not quite a sequel, Operation Red Sea is the continuation of a franchise, of sorts, following up 2016’s Operation Mekong. The films don’t share characters or continue any storylines from the previous film, but both are based on true stories of Chinese military heroics and directed by action filmmaker Dante Lam. The films are both patriotic, to the point of nearly feeling like recruitment videos for military service, and are dedicated to creating realistic battle scenes.

Traffik Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Dawn Olivieri
  • Director: Deon Taylor
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • Release Date: July 17, 2018
  • Run Time: 96 minutes




        Traffik may be well intentioned in its message, but it is contradictorily sordid in its approach. While the film may be book-ended with reminders of the ugly truth about sex trafficking in the United States, most of the content in the film is far more interested in ridiculous B-film thrills than an accurate depiction of the social issue of choice. Even more disconcerting in a film about the buying and selling of women is the blatant objectification of the female form along the way. There is nothing wrong with a little eroticism, but steamy sex scenes and a constantly bra-less heroine just feels tasteless in a movie about sex trafficking.

Blockers Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena
  • Director: Kay Cannon
  • Writers: Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe
  • Producers: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: July 3, 2018
  • Run Time: 102 minutes




        Ever since the teen film re-emerged from the days of James Dean to the coming-of-age films of the 1980s, the genre adopted a far franker discussion of sex. Sex and teen films often go hand-in-hand now, and after nearly three decades of movies about teenagers losing their virginity, one would think that there is nothing new left to discover. Some reviewers have pointed out the gender reversal of the typical sex comedy as the defining new element of Blockers, but I actually found the inclusion of the parental figures a far more original element of the film. Not only is the film about the teenagers, but an equal amount of time is spent with the parents as they come to terms with their daughters growing up, in the most haphazard and comical ways possible.

Flower DVD Review

  • Actors: Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2018
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        Flower sold itself as a coming-of-age film, albeit one that’s primary goal seems to be creating a protagonist whose amoral behavior is intentionally shocking. But as transparent as this character development may be, it does little to prepare the audience for a complete shift in tone and story in the final act. Flower isn’t one movie, but two crammed into the same narrative, and the really sad thing is how completely it manages to fail at both of them.

Pacific Rim Uprising 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: John Boyega;Scott Eastwood;Jing Tian;Cailee Spaeny;Rinko Kikuchi;Burn Gorman;Adria Arjona;Jin 'Max' Zhang;Charlie Day
  • Director: Steven S. DeKnight
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 19, 2018
  • Run Time: 111 minutes



        Some sequels are never asked for, because the original was never so loved that it demanded more screen time. But Pacific Rim Uprising doesn’t feel like a sequel, despite a few minor characters returning. Instead, it feels like a complete reboot of the idea, complete with new protagonists and focus shifted even more towards escapist entertainment. And one would also have to be extremely na├»ve not to realize the extent that Pacific Rim Uprising is tailor-made to be exported to the Asian film markets. Despite the American cast, the Pacific Rim franchise is built upon the giant monster (Kaiju) sub-genre that was first popularized in Japan.

Unsane 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Writers: Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer
  • Producer: Joseph Malloch
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 19, 2018
  • Run Time: 99 minutes




        Steven Soderbergh is a director as comfortable making popcorn entertainment as he is experimenting with the medium, and sometimes he even accomplishes these two things simultaneously. Having already been one of the innovators of digital cinema, Soderbergh’s decision to shoot Unsane entirely on iPhones is not entirely surprising, although it also runs the risk of being more distraction than asset to the narrative. Even though I respect Soderbergh’s creativity, the approach in this film feels more like a gimmick, which is even more disappointing by the fact that he is not even the first to do this (Academy-Award-nominated Tangerine was also shot on an iPhone in 2015).

Will & Grace: The Revival: Season One DVD Review

  • Actors: Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 12, 2018
  • Run Time: 337 minutes




        If you watched and loved the original “Will & Grace” series, there is plenty to get excited about with their return. The writing is as witty as it ever was, and the characters haven’t changed much despite the lengthy hiatus and the inevitability of aging (at least outside of Hollywood). But this also may be something of a double-edged sword, if only because the return of these characters basically dismisses the resolution of the original series. If you truly cared about these characters during their first run, the need to return them to a dysfunctional state in order to create the necessary drama for the series feels a bit lazy.

Love, Simon Blu-ray Review

  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: June 12, 2018
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




        I’ll admit, I was skeptical of Love, Simon upon first viewing the trailer. Arriving on the heels of last year’s award season, which included a LGBT coming-of-age drama and an independent high school comedy, the release of Love, Simon felt perfectly timed, whether coincidental or opportunistic. Ironically, I found myself enjoying Love, Simon more than either of the award-season films it resembles. There is a sincerity to this film which aligns it closer to a John Hughes film than any number of other imitators we’ve had since the 1980s.

The Two of Us Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Michel Simon, Roger Carel, Paul Preboist, Luce Fabiole
  • Director: Claude Berri
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: May 29, 2018
  • Run Time: 87 minutes



        Long before Roberto Benigni combined the tragedy of the Holocaust with the comedy of physical humor in Life is Beautiful, French filmmaker Claude Berri made his directorial debut with The Two of Us. Groundbreaking in its depiction of a terrifying time through the filter of childlike wonder, The Two of Us is sentimental and heartwarming without ever sacrificing a sense of realism. Few films are able to give this period such respect without relying on heavy melodrama and tragedy, but even fewer are able to capture the humor without ignoring the tragedy.

The Strangers: Prey at Night Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman
  • Director: Johannes Roberts
  • Writers: Bryan Bertino, Ben Ketai
  • Producers: James Harris, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Mark Lane, Robert Jones, Ryan Kavanaugh
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • 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: 2.39:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 12, 2018
  • Run Time: 86 minutes




        Horror movies seem to have the highest likelihood for sequels out of each of the genres. This can require an uphill battle for the screenwriter, however, as most horror movies end with the death of the villain. Although The Strangers is a unique horror movie in that none of the villains were dispatched by the conclusion, the sequel has still reinvented the formula somewhat. The first film built up the suspense by creating empathy for the characters. That way the horror was tied to the audience caring for the characters in danger, rather than any graphic blood or gore. Although the premise of home invasion remains the same, the emphasis on what is important has shifted from emotions to pure visceral thrills for the long-awaited sequel.

Jurassic Park: 25th Anniversary Collection 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Pratt, Laura Dern, Julianne Moore
  • Directors: Colin Trevorrow, Joe Johnston, Steven Spielberg
  • Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Peter Buchman, Derek Connolly, Alexander Payne
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Kathleen Kennedy, Larry Franco
  • Disc Format: 4K, Box set, Limited Edition, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (DTS 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1), Portuguese (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, French, Japanese, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 8
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: May 22, 2018
  • Run Time: 474 minutes


        In the age of digital copies and endless streaming options, there always seems to be something to watch. This leaves only a few reasons remaining for actual physical copies of films, and the latest release of the Jurassic Park collection hits them all. The first reason is the anniversary of a movie’s release, and this latest collection of the Jurassic Park franchise coincides with the 25th anniversary of the first groundbreaking film. The second reason for a re-release is to coincide with a new installment in the franchise. This simultaneously gives fans the opportunity to refresh their memories before Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is released this summer, while also serving as retail advertising. Finally, the last reason to choose a physical copy over streaming is quality, and the 4K Ultra HD release is the best option for that.