The Hero Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Krysten Ritter, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Sam Elliot, Katharine Ross
  • Director: Brett Haley
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: September 19, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




         The Hero relies on a series of movie clichés to tell its story, offering up a screenplay co-written by Marc Basch and director Brett Haley that is only saved from its own melodrama by the effectiveness its cast. Even the smaller supporting characters are well cast, but the heart of the film is found in the raw and heartfelt performance given by Sam Elliott, who proves that he has been given too few leading roles in his long career. And because nearly every scene of the film features Elliott, the shortcomings of the screenplay are often overcome by a character study that never feels less than convincing.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City DVD Review

  • Actors: Jane Jacobs, Marisa Tomei
  • Director: Matt Tyrnauer
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




        Citizen Jane attempts to be a history lesson, a biography of Jane Jacobs, and adaptation of her essential book on city design, while still finding time to point out the relevance of her beliefs in times of modern urban renewal. This may feel like a lot for a documentary to cover in just over 90-minutes, and for fans of the book or those interested in the topic of city planning, this may be the case. For the casual viewer, however, even this breadth of material and short running time is not enough to save the film from occasionally feeling redundant in its opinion that cities should be less organized and contained.

Beatriz at Dinner DVD Review

  • Actors: Salma Hayek, Chloë Sevigny, John Lithgow, Connie Britton
  • Director: Miguel Arteta
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2017
  • Run Time: 103 minutes




        Fueled by the righteous indignation of minorities and lower class citizens forced to endure countless slights from the privileged mentality of the richest sections of society, Beatriz at Dinner feels like a film that will have plenty to say. And at first it does, slowly building tension in its simple scenario, before the narrative loses steam and stumbles toward an uncertain end. The result feels like a narrative with a lot of potential, perfect casting, some great moments, but very little follow-through.

Phantasm 5 Movie DVD Collection Review

  • Actors: Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury
  • Director: Don Coscarelli
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2017
  • Run Time: 454 minutes





        Easily one of the strangest horror movies ever made, Phantasm has a little bit of everything crammed into one movie. The 1979 cult classic is a rare sci-fi horror film made on a low budget. There are moments of gore (primarily involving the sphere weapon), a dark sense of humor, erratic and purposefully disorienting editing, and even a bit of unexpected realism (a victim urinating during his death scene is still shocking today). This movie is far from a masterpiece, but there are undeniable moments of genius in here. There have been four sequels so far, but this set remains complete even if more are made, as there can be no more films with Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. Available for the first time in one set, this is as complete a collection as you are likely to find, at least for now. 

The Mummy Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance
  • Director: Alex Kurtzman
  • Writers: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
  • Producers: Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel, Sarah Bradshaw
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 12, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        Despite the horrible response by audiences and critics alike, I didn’t think The Mummy was a complete trainwreck. There was much about it that didn’t work, and very little that was as successful as it needed to be, but the biggest problem with the film is its inability to carry the weight of the cinematic universe that is meant to follow. As a standalone film, audiences probably would have dismissed The Mummy as an inconsequential summer film, without the high level of scrutiny it received as the first entry into the Dark Universe franchise. And this seems to be a trend, as each effort made by Universal to revive their once thriving cinematic horror department to the quality of the past has met similar failure. We saw it with Dracula Untold (2014) as well as The Wolfman (2010), and now The Mummy’s failure is likely giving the studio pause about their plans to revive countless other iconic monsters.

All Eyez on Me Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira, Dominic L. Santana, Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan
  • Director: Benny Boom
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: September 5, 2017
  • Run Time: 140 minutes




        All Eyez on Me plays like a greatest hits album, hitting all of the expected plot points of the rapper’s short life and career, without any of the context from the full albums. It reads like a list of occurrences, without any real soul attached to the story or filmmaking. Sure, we get to see an actor play out the controversial interviews about his tattoos and the contradiction of his words and his actions, in-between staged performances of popular songs, but there is no life in the narrative. It feels like a checklist, a collection of scenes that are loosely connected. Somehow too long to remain interesting and too short to cover the amount of material accurately, All Eyez on Me may have been better as a TV miniseries or a shorter and more focused film.

Maurice Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves
  • Director: James Ivory
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 5, 2017
  • Run Time: 140 minutes




        Director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant were a distinct filmmaking team best known for their adaptations of E.M. Forster novels. Their first big hit was A Room with a View (1985), and their largest success is often considered to be Howard’s End (1992), but between these two they also adapted Forster’s novel about homosexuality in pre-World War I English society. Maurice may not be as well known as the other Merchant-Ivory Forster adaptations, but it has all of the familiar elements and themes found in their better remembered films. Rich in costumes and production design that accurately depict the times, Maurice also continues the trend of examining the gap between classes, while also adding the themes about sexuality in a society that had deemed homosexuality to be criminal.

The Wedding Plan DVD Review

  • Actors: Dafi Alferon, Noa Koler, Oded Leopold, Ronny Merhavi, Udi Persi
  • Director: Rama Burshtein
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: September 5, 2017
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




        The structure of The Wedding Plan aligns quite easily with the romantic comedy genre, though there are larger and deeper themes engrained within the premise and much of the dialogue. While this may not always lend itself to the lighthearted laughs many expect from the genre, it does infuse it with a heartfelt sincerity and a deep soulfulness rarely found in formulaic narratives such as this. The story’s blend of melancholic despair with optimistic hopefulness is more than just a response to the unique film premise; within the numerous conversations about the protagonist’s situation is a deeper examination of faith and the belief in something larger than oneself, and the natural tendency to doubt and question throughout this journey.

Megan Leavey Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Will Patton
  • Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
  • Writers: Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, Tim Lovestedt
  • Producers: Mickey Liddell, Pete Shilaimon, Jennifer Monroe
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 5, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        For the first half of Megan Leavey, I was somewhat critical of the film’s title, especially considering the catalyst and main focus of the narrative seemed to be the dog rather than the soldier. But the narrative changes from a war film to a movie about a marine’s advocacy for her canine partner in the second half, becoming clear where the spirit of the film truly lies. While it certainly is a film about two misunderstood outcasts finding purpose for their lives, it is Leavey’s heartfelt determination that remains central to the story’s success.

First Kill Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Bruce Willis, Hayden Christiansen, Ty Shelton, Gethin Anthony, William DeMeo
  • Director: Steven C. Miller
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: September 5, 2017
  • Run Time: 102 minutes




        First Kill only took 13 days to film, and it shows in the final product. While the movie is well shot, the performances mostly feel dialed in and the entire experience is fairly soulless. It feels like a film that everyone involved knew from the beginning was destined to be nothing more than an average piece of predictable storytelling. We have seen this story many times before, most of the time done better or with a larger budget, and even the actors involved appear to be spending most of their screen time thinking about how they will spend their paychecks.

Iron Protector Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Collin Chou, Wai-Man Chan, Yue Song
  • Director: Yue Song
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: September 5, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        Is it enough for a martial arts movie to have nothing praiseworthy but the action? This is the question that Iron Protector forces on its audience, as it is full of cliché characters and situations, overacting and melodrama, and an overall blandness to the entire production save a few memorable sequences of fight choreography. And all of the action isn’t even impressive enough to warrant the dilemma of quality vs. spectacle, as many of the sequences rely far more on quick cuts and flashy editing than any actual display of martial arts skills or creative choreography. So, it becomes a question of whether one or two impressive sequences can make up for the shortcomings of a majority of the film.

Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Toby Stephens, Hannah New, Luke Arnold, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Tom Hopper
  • Directors: Steven Boyum, Alik Sakharov, Lukas Ettlin, Stefan Schwartz, Neil Marshall
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 29, 2017
  • Run Time: 596 minutes



        Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean is a franchise born from an amusement park ride, and has the same dedication to accuracy in the portrayal of its subject. Dedicated more to the supernatural and fantasy elements than an accurate depiction of pirates, these films failed to capitalize upon the more adult aspects of the men who inspired myths. While “Black Sails” is not entirely born from truth, it embraces realism and stories about actual pirates in the telling of a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” The first couple of seasons were slow to pick up the pace, leaving some to complain about the numerous scenes of dialogue and minimal activity at sea, but season four is a brutal and emotional resolution to the running narratives from the three before. This means plenty of action and a number of surprising deaths, all leading to an ending that blends seamlessly into the classic work of literature.

Born in China Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: John Krasinski, Xun Zhou
  • Director: Chuan Lu
  • Language: English




        Born in China is another Disneynature film release, which means that the wildlife docudrama is primarily being directed at young audience members, leaving out the bigger issues and harsh realities. It isn’t exactly that the depiction of wildlife has been censored, because there are many tragedies to occur to and around the animals the film chooses to focus on, but the demise of animals is implied rather than explicitly shown. While this may sanitize the film for its G-rating, all parents know that human children are as inquisitive as the baby panda in the film. This inevitably forces the parents watching the film with their child to have the conversation about death that Born in China avoids with some pandering to the common religious beliefs of the region, conveniently aligning with the studio’s “circle of life” philosophy. But this is likely to mean little to young children, who simply want to know what happened to the animals when the camera cut away.

Heal the Living Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Tahar Rahim, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Dorval, Bouli Lanners
  • Director: Katell Quillévéré
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 29, 2017
  • Run Time: 104 minutes




        I may not have literally rolled my eyes when I read the description of Heal the Living, but I was certainly in no rush to put the Blu-ray in my player. The plot description reads like a propaganda piece advocating for the importance of a specific medical practice, and the approach of “three seemingly unrelated stories” is taken from the playbook of countless classic experimental foreign films (and a few American imitations), leading me to believe that I knew everything about the film before it even began. And this may have been entirely true, if not for the finesse and artistry of director Katall Quillévéré’s approach to the familiar formula and predictable narrative. Equipped with motifs and metaphors carried through the film in the spectacular imagery of Tom Harari’s cinematography and Alexandre Desplat’s resonant score, Quillévéré is able to elevate the simple concepts of Heal the Living script into a true cinematic wonder. 

Kiki DVD Review

  • Director: Sara Jordenö
  • Disc Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes




        In 1990, the documentary Paris is Burning chronicled New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, while examining the significance and success of the balls and the voguing dance style that dominated them. But more than just a film about the LGTB art culture, Paris is Burning was a film that examined the struggle of those perceived as different, adding the struggle of being a racial minority to the judgment about their gender and sexual identities. Paris is Burning was such an important film that Kiki automatically fights an uphill battle of relevance. Choosing the exact same topic and themes, Kiki is a follow-up film that doesn’t dig as deep or add much new to the topic. It is still significant, but somehow feels less important.

Never Let Go DVD Review

  • Actors: Angela Dixon, Nigel Whitmey, Rami Nasr, Velibor Topic, Lisa Eichhorn
  • Director: Howard Ford
  • Producers: Howard Ford, Laura Jane-Stephens, Amir Moallemi
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes


        For those who thought Kidnap was just a sillier imitation of Taken, Never Let Go provides the same premise with a new low of entertainment standards and logic. Comparisons to the plot may be inevitable, but this film is so bad that it even makes the Taken sequels look like masterpieces by comparison. Never Let Go is highly melodramatic, full of ridiculously bad performances, and void of even a single scene without faulty logic and contrived situations. It seems improbable that there wouldn’t at least be one scene or element that accidentally works, but this is easily the most incompetent filmmaking I have been forced to endure this year.

Kill Switch Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Dan Stevens, Bérénice Marlohe, Tygo Gernandt, Chloe-May Cuthill
  • Director: TimSmiT
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 22, 2017
  • Run Time: 92 minutes




        There is nothing more disappointing than seeing a promising premise destroyed by failed execution, and that is exactly what we have with Kill Switch. Despite a science fiction narrative that is fairly clever and more original than a majority of this summer’s blockbusters, the bland characters and an unwise decision to film a majority of the movie in first person destroys much of what works. Even with some impressive special effects, this is yet another first-person film to completely disappoint. At the very least, if a film is going to present itself like a film version of a video game, there should be more action and spectacle to justify this decision.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
  • Director: James Gunn
  • Writer: James Gunn
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled, 4K
  • Language: English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Unknown), Spanish (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 22, 2017
  • Run Time: 136 minutes




        I can still remember when people thought that making a film for the Guardians of the Galaxy was a risky choice, and it surprised everyone in its success. Somehow, in the short time since that release, none of the Marvel releases feel even the slightest bit risky. Every film to come out of Marvel Studios feels like a safe bet, guaranteed to make money but also generically mediocre as a result. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is a perfect example of this, essentially just rehashing the same plot in the same way that The Force Awakens blandly revived the Star Wars franchise. The takeaway seems to be fairly simple; anything owned by Disney will be treated as more of business commodity than an artistic creation. The safe choice is now standard.

The Lincoln Lawyer 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo
  • Director: Brad Furman
  • Format: 4K, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 15, 2017
  • Run Time: 119 minutes



        The Lincoln Lawyer is a mildly entertaining courtroom thriller, which doesn’t actually spend much time in court. Instead the film relies on many twists and turns of the plot, along with extreme personality traits of the characters, to keep the plot moving forward. Somehow this works in making for an entertaining, albeit slightly predictable, thriller. The decision to rely on the charisma of the cast rather than strengths of the screenplay, however, results in plot developments don’t hold up to repeat viewings. Even in the first viewing of the film, the audience is likely to be less surprised at the revelations of the story than the characters within them. While this may make for mildly distracting viewing, it is hardly an argument for owning the film on home video, much less 4K Ultra HD.  

How to Be a Latin Lover Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Raphael Alejandro, Kristen Bell, Rob Lowe
  • Director: Ken Marino
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 15, 2017
  • Run Time: 115 minutes




        Studios are baffled at the decreased ticket sales to blockbusters this summer, despite their efforts to market to the largest demographic possible. Most of the summer blockbusters tried so hard to appeal to a broad audience that they ended up with watered down results from everyone. It didn’t work for many of the comic book action movies, and it doesn’t always work for comedies either, as is evidence by How to Be a Latin Lover. Despite offering innocuous entertainment with sporadic laughs, it is a film that ultimately attempts to appeal to too many audience demographics with varied success.