Money Monster Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Emily Meade, Caitriona Balfe, Christopher Denham, Giancarlo Esposito, Lenny Venito
  • Director: Jodie Foster
  • Producers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Lara Alameddine, Daniel Dubiecki
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Thai, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, French, Thai, Spanish
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 99 minutes




        Money Monster is a movie that works a bit too sufficiently within the larger money-making system of the filmmaking business for any commentary on the shallowness of cable news to carry any righteous anger. While the film is efficiently made with a talented cast and crew, it lacks the soul and the passion that the subject matter deserves. Ultimately, this ends up resembling an episode to any number of police procedural television shows, with a star-studded cast to distract from the derivative qualities of the screenplay. This may have been less disappointing had the message of the film carried less relevance to our times.

Equals Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart, Bel Powley, Guy Pearce
  • Director: Drake Doremus
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




        It is no wonder that many critics assumed that this was some type of a remake or re-imagining of the 1984, because although Drake Doremus believes that this film comes from his own original idea, it resembles dozens of other science fiction films. If not 1984, it simply reminded me of Equilibrium with romance rather than Matrix-style action, which itself resembled Fahrenheit 451. There were also elements similar to The Giver, The Lobster (without the humor), and countless other science fiction films. In other words, as hard as the filmmaking tries to resemble something new and fresh, Equals largely feels like a forgettable rehashing of familiar science fiction tropes mixed with the melodrama of a star-crossed lovers narrative.

The Bodyguard Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Sammo Hung, Andy Lau
  • Director: Sammo Hung
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 99 minutes




        The Bodyguard is a typical martial arts movie in many ways, set apart by the age of the leading action star. Directing and starring in the film, 64-year-old kung-fu legend Sammo Hung proves that he still has the ability to carry a film and choreograph exciting action sequences. It may be a more subdued narrative than the international marketing campaign suggests (the title was changed from My Beloved Bodyguard, along with more action-oriented cover artwork), but there are still some heavy punches thrown within the sentimental story.

Night of the Living Deb Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Maria Thayer, Michael Cassidy
  • Director: Kyle Rankin
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 84 minutes




        Zombie movies are so outplayed that even the idea of a zombie romantic comedy is somewhat derivative at this point. There have been Blockbuster releases such Zombieland, foreign imports like Shaun of the Dead, zom-rom-coms with a love story between human and monster (Warm Bodies), a break-up rom-com (Life After Beth), and even adaptation of classic literature with zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). Night of the Living Deb offers a mildly clever title and a comedy with none of the typical dramatic stakes found in a zombie narrative. This isn’t a parody of the zombie horror film so much as an indi comedy utilizing the popularity of the sub-genre.  

Center Stage: On Pointe DVD Review

  • Actors: Peter Gallagher, Sascha Radetsky, Ethan Stiefel, Kenny Wormald
  • Director: Director X.
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 92 minutes




        Center Stage is a franchise that has somehow stayed alive, despite the mediocrity of the original movie. As far as dance films go, these have always been a bit more sophisticated than the Step-Up films, though this latest sequel begins the inclusion of contemporary dance styles. The original film also featured some truly impressive dancing because of the casting of dancers over actors. While Center Stage: On Pointe has learned from this tactic by casting actual actors, making for far better scenes of dialogue, it also means that the dancing is far less impressive to watch.

King Jack DVD Review

  • Actors: Danny Flaherty, Charlie Plummer, Christian Madsen
  • Director: Felix Thompson
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • DVD Release Date: September 13, 2016
  • Run Time: 81 minutes




        King Jack doesn’t offer much new to the coming-of-age narrative; despite the modern addition of sexting, the behavior of teens hasn’t changed much over the years. What the debut feature film from writer/director Felix Thompson does have to offer is authenticity. Even if the story resembles countless others, the ability to create sympathy for these specific characters shows strengths in filmmaking which is never forceful or contrived. In the end, believing these characters could exist is more important than having an original story.

Love & Friendship Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Jemma Redgrave, James Fleet, Chloë Sevigny, Emma Greenwell
  • Director: Whit Stillman
  • Producers: Whit Stillman, Katie Holly
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




        Although there are many elements within the period narrative of Love & Friendship which make it distinctly Jane Austen, including her biting social commentary on romance among the landed gentry of 18th century England, the choice of source material feels particularly aligned with the work of filmmaker and auteur Whit Stillman. Borrowing name only from one of Austen’s other works of fiction, Love & Friendship is actually based on the novella, “Lady Susan.” This was written prior to the novels she is most famous for, and is far more unsentimental in its treatment than film fans may be accustomed to. While Austen may be best known cinematically for her sweeping romance, it is the satirical humor of her work that Stillman gravitates towards.

Now You See Me 2 Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Daniel Radcliffe, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo
  • Director: Jon M. Chu
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    PG-13
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 94 minutes





        The basic premise for the Now You See Me franchise resembled Oceans 11 with magic rather than grifters, filling the film with an impressive cast of actors to distract from the gaps in logic. Although there were moments of real illusions and magic tricks, eventually the first film slipped into CGI nonsense rather than providing a realistic explanation for the events. It should come as no surprise that a plot giving the writers a computer generated ‘deus ex machina’ for every impossible situation would turn into a series of films, and if Now You See Me 2 is any indicator, the third film should be off-the-charts absurd.

Maggie’s Plan Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel
  • Director: Rebecca Miller
  • Producers: Rebecca Miller, Rachel Horovitz, Damon Cadasis
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Russian, French, Polish, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, English
  • Dubbed: Thai
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 23, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 99 minutes




        It has become difficult for me to decipher whether Greta Gerwig is a good actress, or simply proficient at finding roles that resemble her own personality. Nearly every character that the actress has played in the last decade feels like the same bubbly, narcissistic, and irresponsible New Yorker. The characters get older as Gerwig does, but they are maturing at a glacial rate. Maggie’s Plan is no exception, giving Gerwig the title role of another self-absorbed Manhattanite desperately trying to exist in a Woody Allen film.

Hard Target 2 Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Scott Adkins, Robert Knepper, Rhona Mitra, Ann Truong, Temuera Morrison
  • Director: Roel Reine
  • Writers: Dominic Morgan, Matthew Harvey
  • Producer: Chris Lowenstein
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Hungarian (DTS 5.1), Russian (DTS 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Polish (DTS 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Czech, French, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Thai, Turkish, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        If every other property from the 1980s and ’90s is being pillaged to make money off of sequels and remakes, they might as well begin cashing in on Jean-Claude Van Damme classics. This past week we saw the revival of the Kickboxer franchise, with Van Damme following in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone by retiring to the mentor role. Hard Target 2 also returns on home video, without Van Damme, or any connection to the original film beyond loose similarities in the plot. Although more technically accomplished and visually polished than a majority of DTV action sequels, this film shares little beyond a title with John Woo’s original film. 

Genius DVD Review

  • Actors: Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Colin Firth, Guy Pearce
  • Director: Michael Grandage
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 98 minutes





        Thankfully Genius is not a biopic in the most traditional sense, which often makes it difficult to guess the direction or point of the story being told. Untraditional as it may be, the film is biographical in nature in that the screenplay is based on a non-fiction book about famed editor Maxwell Perkins, though it focuses exclusively on the time in his career spent with writer Thomas Wolfe. But what the film lacks is thematic consistency and a direction for the true story to go in, before the natural end becomes a narrative closer in replacement of actual resolution. What the film has is a great period look in the production design, and a cast at the top of their game under the direction of first-time filmmaker Michael Grandage, better known for his work in the theater.

Compadres DVD Review

  • Actors: Omar Chaparro, Aislinn Derbez, Kevin Pollack, Eric Roberts, Joey Morgan
  • Director: Enrique Begne
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2016
  • Run Time: 94 minutes





        Compadres could be pitched as an international film featuring collaboration between Mexico and the United States, but I think Hollywood would prefer little association with this politically incorrect action/comedy from filmmaker Enrique Begne. Despite using the generic structure of a Hollywood buddy action-comedy, having Eric Roberts and Kevin Pollak appear in two of the supporting roles, and the fact that half the dialogue in English, it is quite obvious that this is a Mexican film with some American actors, not the other way around. At its best, this cultural style influences the direction and tone of Compadres’ comedy, though the objectification of the female characters is overwhelming even for Hollywood.

Blunt Talk: Season 1 DVD Review

  • Actors: Patrick Stewart, Jacki Weaver, Adrian Scarborough, Richard Lewis
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2016
  • Run Time: 300 minutes




        Despite the fact that Sir Patrick Stewart has lent his voice to countless episodes of “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” not to mention his contributions to three of Seth MacFarlane’s feature films, the unexpectedness of his involvement in this live-action Starz sitcom is half of the fun. The role of Walter Blunt is so different from the persona we have come to expect from Stewart  that it becomes humorous just to watch the talented British actor play against type. The role actually resembles many of those that Stewart has played in MacFarlane’s animated shows, but it is somehow far more shocking to see the actor rather than just hearing him.

On Guard/Five Day Lover Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: On Guard: Daniel Auteuil, Fabrice Luchini, Vincent Perez, Marie Gillain, Philippe Noiret
  • Director: Philippe de Broca
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 9, 2016
  • Run Time: 216 minutes




        This two-film Blu-ray set includes a pair of films that might never be viewed together if it weren’t for the director they share in common. The two films come from French filmmaker Philippe De Broca, though they are movies from different genres and separated by over 35 years. Five Day Lover is a romance drama from 1961, while On Guard is a swashbuckling action comedy from the late 1990s. It makes for a strange double feature, but these two films offer a sampling from the beginning and end of De Broca’s expansive career.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin
  • Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
  • Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin
  • Producer: Joe Roth
  • Format: 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 23, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        This was a film that was doomed to fail long before anyone had even seen it. First of all, you are dealing with characters that many consider sacred, and critics were already unkind to the adaptation of Snow White. You might think that the prequel/sequel/spin-off film, The Huntsman: Winter’s War would have a better chance going in an original direction, but instead it pillages a more recent animated Disney film. Add in the controversy over Charlize Theron’s pay being less than Chris Hemsworth, which was revealed by the now-infamous Sony email hacks, Stewart and director Rupert Sanders’ absence following rumors of an affair onset of the last film, and it all adds up to a recipe for failure.

The Tiger Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Choi Min-sik, Jung Man-sik, Kim Sang-ho
  • Director: Park Hoon-jung
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: August 9, 2016
  • Run Time: 139 minutes




        The screenplay for The Tiger is like a delicate balancing act, made possible by the tradition of effective melodrama in South Korean cinema and by the carefully patient screenplay from Hoon-jung Park (I Saw the Devil, New World). The film’s basic premise requires the audience to sympathize for the non-human title character, while also respecting the inevitable decision of the human protagonist to hunt him. This may seem contradictory, but it never feels forced within a simple but layered screenplay which is effectively executed thanks to nuanced human performances and an impressively realistic CGI tiger.

The Wonder Years DVD Review

  • Complete Set: This 22-DVD set contains all 115 episodes from the six seasons of this landmark series.
  • Booklet: Also get complete show notes with episode synopses, cast member reflections, “Current Events,” and more.
  • Bonus Content:
    • Highlights from the first cast reunion in 16 years
    • Roundtable discussions with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano
    • 6 newly produced featurettes
    • Farewell set tour
    • One-hour ABC broadcast of the series finale
    • Exclusive interviews with the show’s creators and cast including Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Olivia d’Abo, Jason Hervey




            “The Wonder Years” was one of those shows I thought would never make it to DVD, mostly because of how much great music from the show had copyright issues. Not only is it now available on DVD, it comes with the originally broadcast music, including Joe Cocker’s memorable rendition of The Beatles’ With a Little Help from My Friends and over 300 other classic songs. This is a show that is much more than the fantastic soundtrack, but it is also just as much of a classic as the hits that took so long to get copyrighting for. The full series was first released in a massive 26-disc box set a little less than a year ago, but this revised 22-disc set is pared down for those more interested in owning all of the episodes than how many hours of special features are included.

11 Minutes DVD Review

  • Actors: Richard Dormer, Paulina Chapko
  • Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Polish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2016
  • Run Time: 83 minutes




        Approaching 11 Minutes with the goal of deciphering the intended meaning will likely to lead to frustration, as Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski has created a narrative with intentional ambiguity. Meaning is subjective, and 11 Minutes is to be approached an analyzed in the same way one might try and understand a poem. Not everything seen must be taken literally, and not all of the images will have the same meaning inferred by every viewer. It isn’t the plot points or the characters which are indiscernible, so much as the themes and the larger messages. Two people can watch this film and come to completely different conclusions on what is being said by the film’s message, even if the characters and events are themselves fairly straightforward.

Sky DVD Review

  • Actors: Diane Kruger, Norman Reedus
  • Director: Fabienne Berthaud
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2016
  • Run Time: 106 minutes




        Sky begins as a thriller, drifts into a road trip romance, and ultimately ends as an unrealistic Midwestern melodrama. The only consistency throughout all of it is Diane Kruger’s performance, despite the fact that the screenplay doesn’t provide much depth to the film’s protagonist, or any of the supporting characters she meets along the way. This is a film which is more dedicated to the melancholy of each moment rather than the details which have made each character so depressing. Life is hard, seems to be the message, and it doesn’t particularly matter why.

A Hologram for the King Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Tom Skerritt, Sarita Choudhury, Ben Whishaw
  • Director: Tom Tykwer
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 9, 2016
  • Run Time: 104 minutes




        A Hologram for the King utilizes several common story structures and genre styles, and though they blend together into an inoffensive 98-minute piece of entertainment, no element within the film stands out. The fish-out-of-water narrative fails to provide enough humor to stand as a comedy alone, but the romance elements are even more ineffectually blasé. By the end of the film, it feels as though we have meandered past the heart of Dave Eggers source material. The narrative structure may be there, but filmmaker Tom Tykwer lacks the ability to unify all of the elements into a cohesive vision.