Dealt DVD Review

  • Actors: Richard Turner
  • Director: Luke Korem
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: February 13, 2018
  • Run Time: 85 minutes



        At first glance, Dealt seems to be the type of documentary that card magician Richard Turner would resent, in that it spends much of the run-time focusing on the fact that he is blind. While this makes his incredible feats with a deck of cards that much more impressive, Turner has spent much of his career attempting to hide the fact that he is visually impaired, believing that his accomplishments should be impressive enough on their own. While the focus of the documentary seems to contradict the beliefs of its subject, this changes as Turner has an arc of development over the course of the film, learning to embrace his handicap in the later years of his life.

Brotherhood of Blades II Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Chang Chen, Yang Mi, Zhang Yi
  • Director: Lu Yang
  • Film Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, 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: February 13, 2018
  • Run Time: 120 minutes




        Imitating the formula of the popular Infernal Affairs franchise within the Wuxia genre, the Brotherhood of Blades sequel is actually a prequel for the three central characters from the 2014 hit. Although this removes any uncertainty over the fate of these characters, there is enough depth within the development of the plot to compensate for the lack of suspense. This paired with a complex plot that often takes full concentration to follow completely, makes Brotherhood of Blades II a rich film experience that is able to stand on its own, while also working as a companion piece for the pre-existing fans.

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton DVD Review

  • Actors: Laird Hamilton
  • Director: Rory Kennedy
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: February 6, 2018
  • Run Time: 118 minutes


        Like its title, Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton is overlong and makes it painfully clear who the subject of the documentary is. Even with a number of scenes that have impressive staged and archived footage of big-wave surfing, this film consistently remains a portrait of the legendary surfer. I have to assume that he is a legend, anyway. As someone with little knowledge about trailblazing surfers, I mostly just have this film as reference, and it rarely feels like a balanced portrait of Hamilton, even when showing some of his major character flaws.

Reset Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Yang Mi, Wallace Huo, King Shih-Chieh
  • Director: Chang
  • Film Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: February 6, 2018
  • Run Time: 106 minutes




        The appeal of time travel films often comes from attempting to dissect the complexity of the various timelines and how they affect each other. These films are often equally exciting and intelligent, making them a staple of the science fiction genre. While Reset has a premise that is promising, it devolves into a film more interesting in the action sequences than internal logic, and accomplishes this by creating its own rules along the way.

Woody Woodpecker DVD Review

  • Actors: Timothy Omundson, Thaila Ayala, Eric Bauza
  • Director: Alex Zamm
  • Writers: Alex Zamm, William Robertson
  • Producer: Mike Elliott
  • Film Format: Animated, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 6, 2018
  • Run Time: 94 minutes



        With its release sandwiched between a Paddington sequel and a Peter Rabbit adaptation, the Woody Woodpecker film is even more pathetic by comparison. Not only is there a clear difference between a film based on a manic cartoon and those adapted from classic children’s literature, but Woody Woodpecker has also been demoted to a straight-to-video DVD release. It is ironic that the British franchises have been given theatrical releases, while Woody Woodpecker was primarily made in order to sell to a foreign market. To add insult to injury, it was also made primarily in Canada.

Legend of the Naga Pearls Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Darren Wang, Yu Xing
  • Director: Lei Yang
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: January 30, 2018
  • Run Time: 108 minutes




        Legend of the Naga Pearls has all of the elements which seem to make up the ideal fantasy, blended into typical Chinese martial arts epic fodder. There is a skilled protagonist, wisecracking side-kick, a cute CGI creature, and even a frightening looking adversary. The story involves a deep mythology with a tribe of winged people, and a star-crossed romance between on of these royal descendants and the humans which once defeated them. It feels like a carefully calculated fantasy film, but somehow still never manages to rise above mediocrity, primarily due to the sloppiness of the filmmaking.

Bad Day for the Cut Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Nigel O'Neill, Susan Lynch, Ian McElhinney
  • Director: Chris Baugh
  • Format: Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: January 9, 2018
  • Run Time: 99 minutes




        Revenge films seem a dime-a-dozen these days, though Bad Day for the Cut has a few elements which help it to stand out from the rest. First of all, there is the fact that it is set in Northern Ireland and within the criminal underworld of Belfast, giving it a unique flavor along with the need to turn on the English subtitles through some of the dialogue featuring thicker accents. But even more important than the setting is the choice to make this as much a mystery as it is a revenge film. Our protagonist seeks more than just vengeance, but also answers to the motivations behind the inciting violence, which keeps viewers engaged even throughout the film’s more derivative moments.

American Made 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright Olsen, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones
  • Director: Doug Liman
  • Writer: Gary Spinelli
  • Producers: Brian Grazer, Brian Oliver, Doug Davison, Kim Roth, Ray Angelic
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 2, 2018
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018 



        American Made is built upon the ‘based on a true story’ crime film formula, following the tradition of countless similar films that have come before. It’s a bit Goodfellas, a little bit The Infiltrator, shades of “Narcos,” and ultimately a story that feels all-too familiar every step of the way. The crowning achievement of American Made is its ability to help audiences forget that Tom Cruise also starred in The Mummy in 2017, and allowing him the opportunity to play a role that capitalizes on the veneer of charisma which made him a star in the first place.

The Mountain Between Us Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Beau Bridges, Idris Ilba, Kate Winslet
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: December 26, 2017
  • Run Time: 112 minutes




        When I thought that The Mountain Between Us was purely a survival adventure film, I was rather excited to see it, especially considering the caliber of the cast involved. When I realized that this was as much a romance film as a survivalist narrative, I was annoyed, despite the natural charms and chemistry of the aforementioned cast members. Even Idris Elba and Kate Winslet were unable to convince me that two people who are injured and starving from weeks of harsh conditions would have the energy or inclination for a steamy sex scene. But for those who are willing and able to ignore the ridiculousness of the plot, The Mountain Between Us offers a few predictable indulgences in entertainment. It is nothing groundbreaking, and I often found myself looking at my phone or checking the run-time, but the end result is harmlessly forgettable.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day 4k Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen, 4K
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: December 26, 2017
  • Run Time: 152 minutes




        I’ll never forget the first time I saw Terminator 2, especially because the circumstances surrounding the experience still remain a debated point of family history. My mother insists that I was not punished for watching this film, but I am certain that I was at least reprimanded, as I was not permitted to see R-rated films at the time. In fact, this was the first R-rated film that I ever saw, and I received this introductory cinema education where all parents with children enrolled in L.A. county public education could hope; my fourth grade classroom. I was indeed a ten year old receiving a unique education from a teacher who deemed Fridays to be ‘bring-a-movie-to-class day’ (The following Friday we watched Born in East L.A.).

Killing Gunther Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cobie Smulders, Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan
  • Director: Taran Killam
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: December 26, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




        The idea of an action mockumentary is unique enough to warrant praise, but the execution of Killing Gunther is so bland that the result is wholly forgettable regardless of the creative concept. The action is often fast-paced, but the addition of a sketch-comedy sensibility completely eliminates any impact the violence might have other than cheap laughs. Ultimately, this feels like a rejected idea from a “Saturday Night Live” episode, which makes sense considering writer/director/star Taran Killam left the cast of the comedy sketch show to make this film. He managed to put together an impressive cast, including Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly appearing in the title role, but all of the talent feels sadly wasted without better material.

Stronger Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Clancy Brown
  • Director: David Gordon Green
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: December 19, 2017
  • Run Time: 119 minutes



        I no longer pay much attention to film’s award season, and Stronger is a perfect example why that is. While the film itself may rarely rise above serviceable to the true-story it is telling, there is something wrong with how award nominations are handed out if none of the actors involved in Stronger were nominated for major awards. Award nominations are more likely to go to a film because of the political message it contains (which explains why Steve Carell would receive nominations for Battle of the Sexes rather than Last Flag Flying) or how much money the studio spent to get it (Wonder Woman broke records for the millions of dollars spent to try and buy nominations), and this is why some of the quieter performances of the year end up passed over. This is not to say that the other nominees are undeserving, but it is shameful that movie without a political message or millions to spend might not get the attention it deserves as a result.

The Unknown Girl DVD Review

  • Actors: Adèle Haenel, Olivier Bonnaud
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 12, 2017
  • Run Time: 106 minutes



        After testing the waters of the mainstream by casting movie star Marion Cotillard in their last film, Two Days, One Night, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have returned to their roots with The Unknown Girl. But even with a movie star, the brother filmmaking team has never abandoned their social realism, both in style and the content of their narratives. This is true of The Unknown Girl, which never feels generic despite existing within the narrative structure of the mystery genre.  
       

Viceroy’s House DVD Review

  • Actors: Gillian Anderson, Hugh Bonneville
  • Director: Gurinder Chadha
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 12, 2017
  • Run Time: 106 minutes



        Despite the title, Viceroy’s House is about the elimination of the position of Viceroy of India with the transition of British India to independence in 1947. A final Viceroy is tasked with the job of overseeing the transition, which inevitably divides the country even further due to certain political aspirations. Had this remained the focus of Viceroy’s House, it could have been a compelling historical drama, but the screenplay by Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, and Moira Buffini splits the time between actual events and an imagined melodrama between star-crossed lovers torn apart by the politics. The result is uneven, often feeling as though more time would be necessary to care about this collection of characters. One critic remarked that this material might have been better suited for a mini-series, and I tend to agree.

Blood Money Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: John Cusack, Ellar Coltrane, Willa Fitzgerald, Jacob Artist
  • Director: Lucky McKee
  • Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: December 19, 2017
  • Run Time: 85 minutes




        Horror movies can often get away with having unlikable characters, if only because of their inevitable demise. Although there are deaths in Blood Money, it is clearly not a horror film. This also means that there are no guarantees about which obnoxious character may survive, although there are a lot of options within the cast of characters. It is difficult to even say who the bad guy of the story is, especially since the obvious choice is also the most likeable character in the film. Even with a tried-and-true narrative borrowed from classic cinema, Blood Money is an irritating movie due to its unrelatable characters making illogical choices.

Wolf Warrior 2 Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Wu Jing, Frank Grillo, Celina Jade
  • Director: Wu Jing
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Mandarin Chinese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: December 12, 2017
  • Run Time: 124 minutes


        Wolf Warrior 2 brings back more of the same elements that made up the original film, for better or for worse. Our protagonist returns to fight a new battle, one which calls for a number of explosive action sequences a message so patriotic that it often borders on being propaganda. All of the thrills from the first film are recreated with somewhat diminishing returns, but action fans are likely to be satisfied with an increased emphasis on spectacle.

Better Watch Out Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Patrick Warburton, Levi Miller, Olivia DeJonge, Virginia Madsen
  • Director: Chris Peckover
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: December 5, 2017
  • Run Time: 89 minutes




        Better Watch Out is a near impossible film to write about without ruining at least some of the effect. Even by merely describing it as a cross between Home Alone and The Strangers doesn’t quite convey the tone of this wholly unique home invasion thriller. At times the film’s twists and turns can play against the expectations audiences may have for a typical home invasion film, but the revision to the recently popularized sub-genre is a welcome adjustment. With the added ironic contrast of setting the film amidst the joyful holiday season, Better Watch Out is a brutal little treat for horror fans this Christmas.

Woodshock Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kirsten Dunst, Pilou Asbaek, Joe Cole, Jack Kilmer
  • Directors: Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: November 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 100 minutes



        Art films often take a special type of viewer, one willing analyze and dissect what they are watching. These films can take effort and thoughtfulness to understand, whereas most mainstream films are treated as entertainment that merely needs to be consumed. If someone unfamiliar with art films tried to watch one, they might find themselves confused and frustrated. But in the case of Woodshock, it feels like a film that was made by filmmakers attempting to imitate and art film without understanding the intent behind any choices. In other words, it is a shell of pretentiousness visuals that is completely empty on the inside. Thinking about this film is an act of fruitless futility.

Despicable Me 3 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan
  • Directors: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
  • Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
  • Producers: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy
  • Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 5, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        As the Minions have become something of an unofficial mascots for Illumination Entertainment, it should come as no surprise that their original franchise has returned for a third outing. Their inclusion in Despicable Me 3 also feels somewhat forced, providing a sub-plot that has little to no connection with the main storyline. This disjointed portion of the narrative may seem out of place, kind of like a Minion sequel blended with the Despicable Me storyline, but it provides a welcome relief from multiple super-villain schemes, including a double dose of Steve Carell.

Rememory Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Anton Yelchin, Peter Dinklage, Julia Ormond, Henry Ian Cusick, Andrew Herr
  • Director: Mark Palansky
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: November 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes



        Rememory may have passed as mildly clever before the days of “Black Mirror,” but somehow now feels like a watered down episode of the popular British science fiction anthology series which has been unwillingly stretched to feature-length. Regardless of the clever premise (albeit one that is extremely similar to existing “Black Mirror” episodes) and a dedicated cast of talented actors giving convincing performances, Rememory never really takes off. The mystery, while compelling, is rarely enough to make up for the disappointment some may feel towards the watered down science fiction elements. Ultimately, the film is a heavy-handed drama with a slight sci-fi twist and an almost inconsequential mystery at the center, only elevated due to the talented cast involved.