Life Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare
  • Director: Daniel Espinosa
  • Producers: David Ellison, Julie Lynn, Bonnie Curtis, Dana Goldberg
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, Malay, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Thai, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, French, Thai, Spanish
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 20, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 104 minutes




        There isn’t much that is original about Life, including the name (not two years ago the same title was used for a film about a James Dean article written for Life Magazine, and let’s not forget the Eddie Murphy period prison comedy from 1999), but this is still one of the most entertaining films to come out in 2017. It is basically just Alien with cinematography that feels heavily inspired by Gravity, but it provides purer thrills than were found in the actual Alien sequel released this year. It won’t be winning any awards and has no chance of the same cultural impact, but Life does provide a gripping viewing experience for those willing to let go and enjoy the ride.

Mine Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Tom Cullen, Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis
  • Directors: Fabio Resinaro, Fabio Guaglione
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (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: June 13, 2017
  • Run Time: 106 minutes



         Mine attempts to do something unique with its survival tale, keeping the protagonist stuck in the same spot for most of the film. There are two reasons it is not entirely successful, and the first is that this idea is far from original. The easiest comparison to make would be 127 Hrs. and recently released The Wall, though moments may also call to mind Buried, All is Lost, and even Vehicle 19 or Locke. The second reason that the film eventually overstays its welcome is a reliance on hallucinations/dream sequences and flashbacks over the tension of the situation at hand. There may be little excitement in watching a man stand stationary for over an hour, but there is even less in the melodrama of his ordinary life.

3 Generations Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning, Susan Sarandon, Tate Donovan, Linda Emond
  • Director: Gaby Dellal
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 13, 2017
  • Run Time: 92 minutes




         While I appreciate a film attempting to address hot button topics, this needs to be done in a way that is intelligent and thoughtful. It is not merely enough to make a movie about a transgender teenager as she navigates the tough road to becoming transsexual. Some might argue that any film with this topic is a step in the right direction, because at least these characters are being depicted onscreen, but the film also has to be good in order for people to see it. If nobody sees the film, it doesn’t much help the conversation, and I definitely would not recommend 3 Generations to anyone, in or out of the LGTBQ community. This is a poorly made film full of contrivances and unsympathetic characters, badly written and lazily directed. Worst of all, the transgender character is not even the main focus of the narrative, despite being at the center of it.

Chapter & Verse DVD Review

  • Actors: Daniel Beaty, Loretta Devine, Omari Hardwick, Selenis Leyva, Marc John Jefferies
  • Director: Jamal Joseph
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: June 13, 2017
  • Run Time: 100 minutes




         Chapter & Verse suffers from a familiar narrative, which leads audiences down expected paths to an inevitable conclusion. The predictability of the story could easily have rendered the film irrelevant, but it somehow remains compelling thanks to a screenplay co-written by star and director, which feels poetic without being overworked. It has the raw honesty and realism that Barry Jenkins was praised for last year and the social realism that Spike Lee built his career upon, even if missing the distinct directorial style that each of these directors put in their films.

Alone in Berlin DVD Review

  • Actors: Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Brühl
  • Director: Vincent Perez
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • Release Date: June 13, 2017
  • Run Time: 95 minutes




         Actor-turned-director Vincent Pérez was already facing an uphill battle when he decided to make a film based on Hans Fallada’s novel about a middle-aged Berlin couple quietly resisting against the brutality of the Nazi regime. As intriguing as the concept sounds, the form of resistance taken was as unexciting as possible. There are no battles against the violence, speeches about the terror, or collaboration with enemies fighting the Nazis directly. Instead, the film centers on a silent resistance against Nazi propaganda, which means the primary action involves our protagonist writing postcards.

Bitter Harvest DVD Review

  • Actors: Max Irons, Samantha Barks, Barry Pepper, Terence Stamp
  • Director: George Mendeluk
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 13, 2017
  • Run Time: 103 minutes




         Ever since James Cameron successfully mixed a fictional love story in with true-life tragedy in Titanic, there have been countless other failed attempts to do the same. Peal Harbor copied the formula almost exactly, even including an unnecessary love triangle to take over the narrative. You might think that filmmakers would realize that this is a misstep, and almost seems to trivialize the real-life events, but Bitter Harvest compounds these mistakes by placing them in a film about one of the largest genocides in history. Rather than focusing on the massive scale of the real-world atrocities, director/co-writer George Mendeluk mistakenly spends a majority of the film narrowing the scope to the fictional experiences of a single couple.

A United Kingdom Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jack Davenport, David Oyelowo, Tom Felton
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 111 minutes




         Though restrained in its scenes of large emotional outbursts and rousing speeches, A United Kingdom faces the unfortunate problem of being released the same year of another subtle interracial romance based on true events. Loving was so expertly made without the need of melodrama or sentimentality that even sparsely used in A United Kingdom, these moments ring a bit contrived. Along with teary speeches and somewhat contrived feel-good moments, there is also a redundancy in Guy Hibbert’s screenplay and a surprising blandness in Amma Asante’s visual style, so that the one-note themes of A United Kingdom begin to wear thin, regardless of how convincing the chemistry is between the leads.

Operation Mekong Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Eddie Peng, Xudong Wu, Baojuo Chen
  • Director: Dante Lam
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.0), 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: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 124 minutes




         Although inspired by real-life tragic events, Operation Mekong works better as a mindless action film than it does as a respectful tribute to the lives lost. Even when the movie does give reverence to the Chinese characters engaged in the operation, it feels more like nationalist propaganda than a realistic depiction of actual people who gave their lives for justice. Director Dante Lam has had trouble with the spectacle of his films conflicting with the message in the past, and though this is not the problem with Operation Mekong, survivors of the victims may wish it were. On the other hand, those who merely want a few hours of intense procedural action will likely be pleased with the non-stop spectacle.

Aftermath Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hannah Ware, Kevin Zegers, Scoot McNairy, Mariana Klaveno
  • Director: Elliott Lester
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes




         I thought I knew what to expect from Aftermath, as there have been countless dramas about the process of grief. Cinematically speaking, these narratives tend to focus on the process of healing, and although there are certain character arcs in this regard, this is far from the focus of Aftermath. In fact, the moments when the characters truly are recovering remain off-screen, allowing the audience to view nothing more than the devastation and the destruction. The result is a film that feels like a news story, tragic and pointless, recreated in a fashion fitting a Lifetime movie.

The Assignment Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver
  • Director: Walter Hill
  • Format: Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 98 minutes




        Enraging many in the LGTBQ community (although, in all fairness, these days someone is always enraged about something on the internet), the basic premise for The Assignment sounds like a comedy, or at the very least, a campy parody of a politically incorrect grindhouse film from the 1970s. In fact, the film likely would have worked far better had it taken itself less seriously. It is still laughable, but not intentionally so, and the film noir formula is so bleak that there isn’t even any “so bad it’s good” enjoyment to be found. I don’t know how it’s possible for a film so controversial to simultaneously be so dull, but that seems to be The Assignment’s only real accomplishment.

Bambi Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Hardy Albright, Peter Behn, Tim Davis, Donnie Dugan, Ann Gillis
  • Director: David Hand
  • Writers: Vernon Stallings, Melvin Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, Ralph Wright
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 70 minutes


        There are several classic Disney movies which were far more interested in capturing the magic of a specific location than in the plot of the story. While many of these involve humans and their specific location of inhabitation, some of the most popular give human qualities to animal characters, often playing out like animated nature films. The Lion King showcases the plains of the African Serengeti, The Jungle Book takes us into the jungles of India, and The Little Mermaid gave us a tour of underwater wildlife (with the addition of the mythical creatures of the title), not to mention the numerous films that show us the life of animals existing in human worlds (Dumbo, 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, etc). Bambi may be the most straightforward of all of these, however, with more emphasis on the movement and behavior of the animated animals than any kind of traditional storyline. It ends up playing like a feature-length “Silly Symphony,” but with realism as the focus instead of expressionism and music.

Kill ‘Em All Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Stormare, Maria Alonso, Mila Kaladjurdjevic, Autumn Reeser
  • Director: Peter Malota
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Czech, Slovak, French, Portuguese, Croatian, Polish, Arabic, Korean, Hebrew, Slovene, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, Icelandic, Romanian, Thai, Greek, Turkish, Spanish, English, Serbian
  • Dubbed: French, Hungarian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 96 minutes




        It’s time for another derivative direct-to-home release from Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Kill ‘Em All is as uninspired as nearly everything else in the last decade of the action star’s career. Try as the film might to add in some mystery with an overcomplicated non-linear narrative, seemingly compensating for the unimpressive action sequences, every twist can be seen a mile away. Even with Van Damme’s signature kicks peppered into the fight choreography, Kill ‘Em All feels like a dozen other cheap action films starring numerous other bland martial arts personalities.

Sky on Fire Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Leon Lai, Hsiao-chuan Chang, Daniel Wu
  • Director: Ringo Lam
  • Disc 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: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 100 minutes




        There are a few great action sequences in Sky on Fire, but they are buried within an overcomplicated slog of a film. With too many characters and too little time to care about any of them enough, Sky on Fire is more work than the enjoyable elements are worth. So much of my time watching the film was spent trying to remember or figure out the motivations of the large cast of characters, which is made more complicated by the fact that several of them seem redundant and unnecessary. Even when a decent scene of action would arise, I was unable to enjoy the spectacle amidst my confusion over what was occurring and whose side everyone was on. While director Ringo Lam certainly proves once again that he is a capable action director, movies of this type shouldn’t be so much work to enjoy.

The Shack Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Avraham Aviv Alush, Radha Mitchell
  • Director: Stuart Hazeldine
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: May 30, 2017
  • Run Time: 132 minutes




        Faith-based films are slowly improving, getting better scripts and actual actors to play the roles. Gone are the days of Sherwood Pictures, which would make movies with volunteers treating the production like a ministry rather than an art form. But even with these improvements and some actual directors being chosen to helm the projects, there is often still a glaring issue with the motivation of these films. They are often so single-mindedly preoccupied with evangelizing to the audience, they end up feeling more like propaganda than art or entertainment. While The Shack is better than most at this, it still manages to be a slog of a film to sit through. Easily 30-minutes too long, this faithful adaptation of the best-selling book also feels largely unnecessary.

Snitch 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Michael K. Williams, Melina Kanakaredes
  • Director: Ric Roman Waugh
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 112 minutes




        Snitch was proof that Dwayne Johnson could make movies that didn’t rely on his large physique and ability to handle fight scenes. Despite a few intense sequences, one involving a car chase and some gunplay, Snitch is largely a drama about an average man taking extraordinary measures to protect his son. While this may have done wonders for the credibility of the wrestler turned actor, Snitch is also a bizarre choice for a film to suddenly be chosen for 4K Ultra HD upgrade. Even though it is a competently made thriller, there is really only one scene in nearly two hours of run-time that utilizes the enhanced presentation. That is, unless you find it worthwhile to upgrade merely for HDR of Johnson’s worried face.

Ex Machina 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Chelsea Li, Corey Johnson
  • Director: Alex Garland
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 108 minutes




        Independent science fiction film Ex Machina is the most inexpensive film to ever win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, which makes it an obvious choice for a 4K upgrade, despite the simplicity of the narrative. Even with the accolades, Ex Machina is a thoughtful film focused on the characters and overall themes rather than moments of special effects. The effects are secondary, though there is no denying the visual enhancement of Ultra HD makes it all the more easy to become immersed in the story.

Dredd Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Langley Kirkwood
  • Director: Pete Travis
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 96 minutes




        If audiences found Judge Dredd (1995) too campy and cartoonish in its portrayal of the violent comic book hero, Dredd (2012) heavily overcompensated. The violence level was increased to the point that it felt more like carnage than action, and it was all done with stunning 3D visuals. Even without the 3D (which is available on the Blu-ray disc included in the package), the 4K Ultra HD presentation is among the most impressive I have seen. The only problem is that some of these spectacular visual effects are so horrendously violent that it may be difficult to enjoy how good it looks.

Outsiders: Season Two DVD Review

  • Actors: David Morse, Joe Anderson, Gillian Alexy, Ryan Hurst, Kyle Gallner
  • Producer: Larry Rapaport
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 23, 2017
  • Run Time: 594 minutes




        “Outsiders” is a show that is as frustrating as it is addicting, mostly due to the complete inconsistency of its quality and characters. There are more plot holes than beards and it often feels as though the writers and show-runners are changing mid-season, with the direction of the narrative and the personality of each character shifting at the drop of a hat. Season two made this more apparent than ever, quickly killing off the protagonist from the first season, only to turn two of the main villains into good guys. This is not even taking into consideration how one of them was seemingly resurrected from the dead after being shot in the season one finale, which is accomplished by conveniently changing the location of a point-blank gunshot by at least a foot.

Rock Dog Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson
  • Director: Ash Brannon
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: May 23, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        Rock Dog resembles one of those generic cartoons you put on for children, the kind that are not meant for adults and provide only basic distraction for its intended younger audience. Don’t anticipate any of the characters becoming a household name. If your child is old enough to remember any of them, they are also likely too old to enjoy it. More than anything, Rock Dog feels like a poor amalgamation of several far more successful films in recent past. Imagine Kung-Fu Panda combined with Sing (and a little bit of Zootopia), but without any catchy music, none of the awesome martial arts, and very few laughs. The animation also feels like it was made a decade ago.

Alien Vs. Predator: ANNIHILOCALYPSE Bursts Online!




Just in time to celebrate the release of Alien: Covenant, editor Michael Prince has put together a fan-cut of two past Alien films for your viewing pleasure. Alien Vs Predator: ANNIHILOCALYPSE combines Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) into a master cut, minus the human characters, in order to allow the enjoyment of the iconic face-off without the unnecessary bits. It's campy and fun, while enhancing all of the alien carnage that made fans look forward to the release of these films in the first place.