Punching Henry Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Henry Phillips, J.K. Simmons, Ashley Johnson, Sarah Silverman
  • Director: Gregori Viens
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: April 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes


        Part cynical satire of celebrity and the shallowness of the entertainment industry, part true-to-life depiction of the life of a struggling artist, Punching Henry is the opposite of a feel-good comedy. Stand-up comedy has a long history of celebrating self-deprecating humor, and Henry Phillips simply takes this idea into a feature film role as he essentially just plays himself. It is somewhat like watching a stand-up comic’s set being played out in script form, which is somehow less satisfying as one might expect. That is not to say that there isn’t humor in the depressing exploits of the traveling comic troubadour, but the funniest part of the film is when he puts down the guitar at the end of the film and makes jokes about the torturous events that we have endured in the narrative.

A Cowgirl’s Story DVD Review

  • Actors: Bailee Madison, Chloe Lukasiak, Pat Boone, Aidan Alexander, Froy Gutierrez
  • Director: Timothy Armstrong
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 98 minutes


        Filmmaker Timothy Armstrong has an odd preoccupation with films about young girls and competitive horseback riding, with A Cowgirl’s Story being his third entry into the genre. Reuniting with the star of his 2012 feature, Cowgirls ‘n Angels, Armstrong piles a typical saccharine story with an extra dose of patriotism and faith-based melodrama, nearly to the point of eliminating horseback riding from the film altogether. While some undiscerning pre-teen girls may find the film mildly diverting, there is hardly a redeeming moment in within A Cowgirl’s Story for any intelligent viewer.

Mad Families DVD Review

  • Actors: Charlie Sheen, Leah Remini
  • Director: Fred Wolf
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 11, 2017
  • Run Time: 89 minutes



        Mad Families relies wholly upon an unrealistic scenario of coincidence for its plot, lazily treating the feature film as though it were a forgettable episode of a poorly written sitcom. This is somewhat fitting, considering how much of the cast is made up of television actors in obvious need of a payday. But even these fading stars of the small screen deserve better than writer/director Fred Wolf has to offer, a man whose crowning achievement was writing the screenplay for the Grown Ups movies and directing the straight-to-video sequel to Joe Dirt.

Isolation DVD Review

  • Actors: Dominic Purcell, Luke Mably, Marie Avgeropoulos, Tricia Helfer, Stephen Lang
  • Director: Shane Dax Taylor
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes



        After sitting on the shelf for several years, this 2015 action thriller has finally been given a release on VOD and through an exclusive Walmart DVD release. Isolation is home invasion horror mixed with a tourists-in-peril thriller, though it is ultimately as bland as a Lifetime movie, which is fitting considering how many TV actors make up the cast. Watchable as the film may be, it offers no surprises and very little excitement beyond the opportunity to see these beautiful actors in different roles.

We Don’t Belong Here DVD Review

  • Actors: Catherine Keener, Anton Yelchin, Kaitlyn Dever, Riley Keough, Annie Starke
  • Director: Peer Pedersen
  • Producers: Annelise Dekker, Adam Gibbs, Michael Kristoff, Roger Pugliese
  • Disc Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 4, 2017
  • Run Time: 89 minutes



        Dysfunctional family films tend to work a lot better if there is at least one character to ground the extremeness of the rest. While We Don’t Belong Here does afford the film one family member not suffering from a traumatic past, addiction, or mental illness, but it also happens to be the most inconsequential of characters. Even more troubling is the film’s overall lack of direction, mistaking scenes of quirky character traits as an adequate replacement for plot. The characters may be well developed and played by talented actors, which make it even more of a shame that filmmaker Peer Pedersen doesn’t know what to do with them.

Youth in Oregon DVD Review

  • Actors: Nicola Peltz, Christina Applegate, Billy Crudup, Josh Lucas, Frank Langella
  • Director: Joel Moore
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 4, 2017
  • Run Time: 99 minutes



        Despite a bold subject matter that I can’t recall seeing addressed in previous films, Youth in Oregon still manages to end up feeling overly familiar and slightly derivative. Even with the choice to tackle a controversial topic, much of Youth in Oregon is by-the-numbers independent filmmaking. All of the usual tropes are dragged out, from family dysfunction to a revelatory road trip, and none are nearly as successful as they should be with a cast of this caliber.

War on Everyone Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James
  • Director: John Michael McDonagh
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Release Date: April 11, 2017
  • Run Time: 98 minutes



        War on Everyone tries to be Bad Lieutenant meets Bad Boys, which ends up being both an asset and fault. Although the dirty cop genre is certainly lightened up by the buddy cop formula, nearly everything about the film feels noncommittal while still being overwhelmingly derivative. Unlike the period throwback of last year’s The Nice Guys, War on Everyone only has stylistic references to 1970s action, while remaining in modern times. The violence, while often unabashedly immoral, is never shocking enough to match the level of attitude contained in John Michael McDonagh’s dialogue, resulting in a film that is more bark than bite. And had any other director attempted this, it may have felt less empty, but expectations have been raised for McDonagh after the success of his first two features.

Planet Earth II 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors:  David Attenborough
  • Disc Format: 4K
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 360 minutes







        When the original “Planet Earth” series aired in 2006, it amazed audiences and brought nature documentaries into mainstream popularity. The project took 40 camera teams shooting at over 200 different locations for more than five years, resulting in some of the most amazing nature photography that had ever been captured to film. Much of the success of the show came from the high definition camera equipment and the extreme efforts of the crews, which was displayed in brief making-of features at the end of each episode. While some things have changed in the making of “Planet Earth II,” including about half the number of episodes, the advances in cinematic technology continue to benefit the show. “Planet Earth” had high definition, but “Planet Earth II” has ultra-high definition, best seen in this 4K Blu-ray release.

20th Century Women Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup
  • Director: Mike Mills
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: March 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 118 minutes




        In part, 20th Century Women is a coming-of-age tale. It is also a period examination of feminism in the 1970s, a story of the relationship between mother and son, and a contemplation on the necessity and simultaneous criticism of masculinity. 20th Century Women is only able to be all of these things because of the ensemble casting and an Academy Award-nominated screenplay by filmmaker Mike Mills, which does a careful balancing act that often feels like a precarious tight-rope walk. Although expertly constructed and easy to admire from a technical perspective, I did find myself longing for the emotional simplicity of Mills’ previous work.

Arsenal Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Adrian Grenier, Johnathon Schaech, Lydia Hull
  • Director: Steven C. Miller
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1

  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: March 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 92 minutes



        Inconsistent is the best word to describe Arsenal, the latest low-budget crime thriller from director Steven C. Miller. The overly simplistic screenplay is peppered with cliché characters and bad dialogue, saved only occasionally by seasoned actors who seem to be slumming it in low budget filmmaking, either out of desperation or simple disregard for good taste. The rest of the cast is not talented enough to handle the poorly written words, leaving questions about either Miller’s ability to direct actors or the casting director’s judgment. The film is also inconsistent in visual style, spending a large amount of effort and money on a flashy climactic piece of violent action, while other areas of the film look as though they were hurriedly shot by an amateur filmmaker.

Ali and Nino DVD Review

  • Actors: Adam Bakri, María Valverde
  • Director: Asif Kapadia
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: March 21, 2017
  • Run Time: 101 minutes



    There is something very old fashioned about Ali and Nino, Asif Kapadia’s sprawling epic based on the true star-crossed romance between a Muslim Azerbaijani man and a Christian woman from Georgia during World War I. This classic style of filmmaking could have been nostalgic, but instead ends up feeling a bit stale. Though there was certainly potential for inserting modern relevance into the story, especially given the unity between Christian and Muslim characters, Kapadia’s film stays tied to the past in a way that is almost obtuse.

Sing 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton
  • Director: Garth Jennings
  • Format: 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 21, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        After the success of Zootopia, I am not surprised to see a sudden increase in animal-based animation, specifically ones in which they act just like humans. In fact, though there are many jokes about the characteristics of certain animals (Rosita the pig is a mother to a litter of 25 piglets, Johnny the gorilla comes from a family of thugs) or played against expectations (Mike the mouse is confidently arrogant despite his size), this film could easily have been done with human characters. This is where the fun of animation comes into play, imagining a world where animals act like humans just like Zootopia did with a buddy cop narrative. Where Sing differs is with the musical element, essentially playing out like an animated animal film version of “The Voice.”

Solace Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, Colin Farrell, Matt Gerald
  • Director: Afonso Poyart
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Rated: 
     R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: March 14, 2017
  • Run Time: 102 minutes



        Although there are slightly supernatural elements to the narrative, much of Solace is a by-the-numbers serial killer film. There are serious well-meaning law enforcement agents, a sadistic killer who believes his murders are somehow justified and possibly even righteous, all leading to an inevitable showdown between good and evil. There is very little that is new to be found in Solace, often so derivatively similar to a slew of the same movies that followed the success of David Fincher’s Se7en that one might be mistaken in thinking it was made in the 1990s if it weren’t for the age of the recognizable cast members.

100 Streets Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton, Ryan Gage
  • Director: Jim O'Hanlon
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 7, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes



        In a tired formula hindered further by emotional manipulation and melodrama, 100 Streets is a frustratingly pedestrian take on the interconnecting lives of several unrelated characters living in a square mile of London. While the opportunity for representing diversity in a small section of a metropolis city is available, the narrative in Leon F. Butler’s screenplay instead prefers contrivances resembling soap opera material. Even a solid cast can’t save the film from feeling like a bad Crash rip-off, never coming close to the casual ease with which Robert Altman utilized this story structure.

The Mama’s Family Favorites Collection DVD Review


  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Time Life/WEA
  • DVD Release Date: March 7, 2017





        “Mama’s Family” originally began as a sketch known as ‘The Family’ on “The Carol Burnett Show,” recurring for much of the eleven seasons that it was on air. Burnett herself was originally intended to play Mama Harper, but preferred the supporting role of Eunice and instead suggested Vicki Lawrence. Lawrence, despite only being in her early 30s, played the older matriarch in her 60s with such success that it led to a standalone spin-off series from 1983 to 1990 (primarily in syndication). There had actually been offers to make the series as early as 1975, but Lawrence was hesitant to appear disloyal to “The Carol Burnett,” and only agreed years later at the suggestion of Burnett herself.

Kendra on Top: The Complete Fourth and Fifth Seasons DVD Review

  • Actors: Kendra Wilkinson
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: March 7, 2017
  • Run Time: 743 minutes




        Does anyone really expect quality television from Kendra Wilkinson? The former Playboy model made her name by being the live-in girlfriend (one of three) for Hugh Hefner, which made her a reality TV pseudo-celebrity. It was enough to get her two consecutive standalone reality series and appearances as a contestant on countless others, despite the fact that she doesn’t have any talent or much personality. Actually, I retract that. She has plenty of personality, but it just happens to be very ugly in contrast to her looks.

Man Down Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kate Mara, Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney, Gary Oldman, Clifton Collins Jr.
  • Director: Dito Montiel
  • 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: March 7, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        I am typically quite adamant about not including any spoilers in my reviews of films, but I’m afraid that the only way to truly point out what is wrong with Man Down is by revealing the truth about the largest twist in the narrative. This revelation is also the only way to convey the main theme and apparent point of the story, which remains hidden by a silly and convoluted mystery for much of the run time. Even simply saying that this is a film about PTSD will likely give away the truth about the post-apocalyptic section of the narrative, while most are likely to be too irritated by the manipulation for the intended message to have any real impact once revealed.

3 Classic Films by Claude Chabrol Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Marie Trintignant, Emmanuaelle Beart
  • Director: Claude Chabrol
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 21, 2017
  • Run Time: 310 minutes




        Claude Chabrol was a highly significant name in French cinema for half a century, even contributing to the legendary Cahiers du Cinéma during its peak in the 1950s. Among these contributions was a critical analysis of Alfred Hitchcock’s work (co-authored by Eric Rohmer), which clearly influenced his own work throughout his career. Although the mysteries within this triple feature are far from traditional, there are still influences of Hitchcock to be found. Each of these films was also made in the 1990s, despite this set being listed as “3 Classic Films.” I suppose one could consider them modern classics, even if they belong to his later phase of filmmaking. If nothing else, these films highlight Chabrol’s ability to discover and cast enigmatic young female stars, who often went on to achieve international success.

Contract to Kill Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Steven Seagal, Russell Wong, Jemma Dallender
  • Director: Keoni Waxman
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Release Date: February 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        If you are wondering how Steven Seagal continues to make movies, despite being too lazy or out of shape to ever utilize the skills that once made him famous, blame filmmaker Keoni Waxman. The last eight films that Waxman has directed were all poorly made action films starring Seagal, impressive only for the level of incompetence across nearly every aspect of their production. Someone must be making money off of this garbage, because there seems to be no passion behind any of the filmmaking. Contract to Kill may be the worst one yet, but I honestly can’t remember much more than the ineptitude from my viewing of the previous collaborations between the pair.

Moonlight Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali
  • Director: Barry Jenkins
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Release Date: February 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 111 minutes




        Moonlight is everything that an independent film should be, focusing on the intimacy of characters and a story normally unseen onscreen. I was not at all surprised to see it sweep the Independent Spirit Awards, though somehow I doubt that it would have done so well this award season if it weren’t for last year’s “Oscars-so-white” controversy and the political turmoil that less than two months of a Donald Trump presidency has caused. This is to say nothing of the quality of the film, but I imagine Moonlight will be better known for being a part of the largest mistake in Academy Award history than anything in the film itself. Don’t get me wrong; it is a beautiful and well-made film, but it is also a film far easier to appreciate than it is to love. The praise for this film feels more like a statement supporting what it represents far more than a celebration of the film itself. Then again, I also don’t see Spotlight as having a lasting impact on film history either. Sometimes the underdog wins; I just don’t understand why this couldn’t have happened the years that Lord of the Rings and Titanic won best picture.