Swing Kids Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jared Grimes, Doh Kyung-Soo, Park Hye-Su
  • Director: Kang Hyoung-Chul
  • Disc Format: Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: June 18, 2019
  • Run Time: 133 minutes





   When I heard the title of the 2018 South Korean musical, Swing Kids, my first thoughts were of the 1993 American film with the same name. Despite both being backstage musicals set during wartime, I assumed that similarities would end there and the re-used title was merely a coincidence rather than a reference. Though it may be true that the filmmaker did not directly intend to make a connection between the two films, the similarities are also impossible to ignore. Swing Kids (’93) is a film about German youths attempting to grow up and enjoy ordinary lives appreciating swing music during an era of the Nazi regime and war that was anything but ordinary. Similarly, Swing Time (2018) is about a group of people finding simple pleasures in dance during wartime. Even more remarkably, while Swing Kids (’93) is an American film with German protagonists, Swing Kids (2018) is a South Korean film with North Korean characters as the primary focus. Most importantly, both films (along with the French Joyeux Noel) celebrate the empathetic powers of music and artistic expression during wartime, specifically considering those on the opposite side from the country in which the film is made.


Furie Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Veronica Ngo, Cat Vy
  • Director: Le-Van Kiet
  • Disc Format: Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, 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: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: June 25, 2019
  • Run Time: 98 minutes



        Americans notoriously avoid foreign films. The sad reality is that even those deemed the best of all imported cinema (subjectively determined by year-end lists and awards), are often ignored by a large majority of audiences in this country. The rare exception of a financially successful foreign film is often completely distanced from the idea of what wins awards, and tends to exist within a familiar genre convention. In the past, horror fans have flocked to the notoriously gruesome offerings of different cultures, but I have noticed the genre most influenced by foreign markets in recent years has been the action/martial arts movie. Ironically, while Furie’s major selling point is the casting of a Vietnamese actress already successful in Hollywood (Veronica Ngo from Star Wars: The Last Jedi), it is a film that will likely be an introduction to Vietnamese action for most in Hollywood. And for many it will be the first Vietnamese film they have seen; in fact, it was the first ever to be released theatrically in the United States, in any genre.

Between the Lines Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: John Heard, Lindsay Crouse, Jeff Goldblum, Jill Eikenberry, Bruno Kirby
  • Director: Joan Micklin Silver
  • Writers: Fred Barron, David Helpern
  • Producer: Raphael D. Silver
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (PCM Mono)
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 18, 2019
  • Run Time: 102 minutes



        Between the Lines feels as though it must have had its finger on the pulse of the counter-culture movement of the seventies, while simultaneously serving as an awkward reminder of how much even the liberals and progressives of that time were politically incorrect by today’s standards. The film follows a group of employees working at an alternative newspaper in Boston which is on the verge of a buyout from a major publishing company. Leaning heavily on the idea that selling out means a lack of integrity, Between the Lines feels laughably dated in its sensibilities (which would have been completely dismissed had the film been made a few years later, in the 1980s), but even worse is the awful treatment of female characters amidst the illusion of ‘free love.’ Sadder yet is the fact that this incredibly misogynistic film was directed by the rare female director.

Us 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
  • Director: Jordan Peele
  • Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French Canadian, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 18, 2019
  • Run Time: 117 minutes



Hype is a dangerous thing in the entertainment industry. One way this can take form is when fans have expectations set from previous success. Just ask any fans of “Game of Thrones” what they thought about the final season, and you will get a taste of the effects of this. No matter what the medium, following up an initial success is always a difficult task. The greater the success, the harder the task of following it up will be, so Jordan Peele was taking something of a risk when he decided to return right to the horror genre after the Academy-Award-nominated Get Out.

Captain Marvel Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson
  • Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: MARVEL
  • Release Date: June 11, 2019
  • Run Time: 124 minutes


Captain Marvel marked the arrival of the first female-led superhero film from Marvel Studios, a fact that would have been far more impactful if it weren’t for that other superhero franchise getting there first and the fact that it took Marvel so many years (and sooo many movies) to finally release one themselves. The film itself, with some distance from its theatrical release, is likely to be best remembered for the petty online bickering between its star and internet trolls (from which neither emerged looking great) rather than any content in the movie itself. This seems especially true now that Avengers: Endgame has made Captain Marvel’s contributions to the franchise almost inconsequential, save a cheesy female-pride sequence during its final battle.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 4K Ultra HD Review




        As rare as a non-Disney/Pixar animated success story is in Hollywood, it is not surprising that those which are successful inevitably parlay it into additional films. How to Train Your Dragon first captured the attention of audiences in 2010 (released by Paramount Pictures), followed by a sequel in 2014 (released by 20th Century Fox), with the final installation being this year’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (released by Universal Pictures). With a fitting close to the story of Hiccup and Toothless (the most unlikely of hero names) found in the last chapter of the trilogy, it looks as though Dreamworks is in the market for a new animation franchise to compete with.

4DX Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters



Godzilla is a franchise larger than life (both in terms of the title character and the breadth of films made with the iconic daikaiju-hero), and this makes the largeness of the spectacle something special in the right format. This could not be truer of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which has a collection of monsters to behold, as homage to the original Toho Studio films that the Legendary has adopted into their “MonsterVerse” (Kong is absent from this one, to be seen in a show-off teased during this film’s post-credit sequence), including King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra.  Along with the integration of additional giant monsters from the Japanese counterpart, the film cleverly includes the use of the original weapon used to destroy Godzilla in the classic 1954 film

4DX Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum



Part of the excitement of a new cinematic format is the discovery of its potential, and these are often dependent on the creativity and innovation of their use. With 4DX, part of the expansion of limits comes with the choice of films to pair the technology with. Before attending a screening of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum in 4DX, it occurred to me that four out of the four films I had previously seen in the format had belonged to the superhero genre. This is certainly due in part to the tendency to utilize the format with high-profile Blockbusters, and the industry’s simultaneous obsession with the ever-profitable comic-book-adaptation franchises. Whatever the reason, I had already spent a great deal of time in the moving seats of 4DX theaters as they simulated flight, underwater exploration, and spider-web swinging. In John Wick 3, I found an entirely different experience; one that was much more grounded, even to the point that the practice of being thrown to the ground was repeatedly simulated.

Glass 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson
  • Director: M. Night Shyamalan
  • Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
  • Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum, Marc Bienstock, Ashwin Rajan
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 16, 2019
  • Run Time: 129 minutes


        Unbreakable was somewhat of a disappointing film for audiences, especially after the extreme success M. Night Shyamalan saw with The Sixth Sense. Looking back now, it is clear that Unbreakable was ahead of it’s time, but the conclusion in Glass feels equally dated and unnecessary. This may have something to do with the 19-year-gap between the films, not to mention the onslaught of superhero films that have saturated the market in the meantime.

Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monae
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Writers: Robert Zemeckis, Caroline Thompson
  • Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Cherylanne Martin
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: April 9, 2019
  • Run Time: 116 minutes



        It is strange to see Steve Carell in a film as contrived and emotionally manipulative as Welcome to Marwen in the same year that he made Beautiful Boy. Both are based on true stories and deal with sincere pain, and somehow Welcome to Marwen still feels like it was thought up by a studio executive capitalizing on someone else’s suffering. No matter how much Carell has been able to make odd characters loveable onscreen in the past, Marwen’s Mark Hogancamp mostly just made me uncomfortable.

The Great Buster: A Celebration Blu-ray Review




  • Director: Peter Bogdanovich
  • Disc Format: NTSC
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Cohen Media Group
  • DVD Release Date: April 2, 2019
  • Run Time: 101 minutes





        Peter Bogdanovich has repeatedly proven his interest in film history through the subject choices in his narrative films (Nickelodeon, The Cat’s Meow), but fascination turns to adoration in The Great Buster: A Celebration. The film celebrates (as the title implies) one of silent film’s greatest stars, Buster Keaton. Bogdonavich clearly has a passion for the subject, and it is contagious, but the documentary may be better titled “An Introduction” rather than “A Celebration.” In other words, die-hard fans of Keaton are likely to be disappointed by the rudimentary nature of much of the information provided by the film.

I Like Scary Movies: Interactive Art Installation Opens in LA




For many people, scary movies are more than just something to watch near Halloween. As dedicated as the sci-fi and fantasy fans are, I would argue that the true horror fans still win out, which is why it is fitting that Ultra Productions has paired with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to bring a unique horror film experience to Los Angeles. Open now (as of April 4th), The I Love Scary Movies Experience is located on the second floor of The Desmond and will run through June 16th.

Choose Your Format: Captain Marvel



Deciding whether or not to watch a movie in theaters is only the first of many choices audience members now have, especially when it comes to the blockbuster releases. Which theater chain, where to sit, and what to snack on remain choices that have long existed, but now audiences have multiple options in regards to the actual presentation of the film. In an effort to help audience members make the best choice, we will discuss the specifics of each available option for Captain Marvel.
       

Second Act Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, Milo Ventimiglia
  • Director: Peter Segal
  • Writers: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Justin Zackham
  • Producers: Jennifer Lopez, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Justin Zackham, Benny Medina
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 26, 2019
  • Run Time: 103 minutes


        Second Act earned a certain amount of respect from me, but that had more to do with film history and marketing choices than the quality of the movie itself. Although the promotional material sold the film as a comedy about class differences, there are plot twists that quickly veer the narrative into more melodramatic territory. And I don’t use the word melodrama as an insult, but rather as the genre which was popularized in the 1940s, primarily dealing with stories of motherly love and loss. Sadly, Second Act is the rare exception of a film that doesn’t spoil these reveals in the trailers.

Mortal Engines 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery
  • Director: Christian Rivers
  • Writers: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens
  • Producers: Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker, Deborah Forte, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 12, 2019
  • Run Time: 129 minutes


        Just in case anyone was asking for a landlocked version of Waterworld, Mortal Engines released into theaters with the odd expectations that there was an audience for this film. A big-budget theatrical experience if ever there was one (shown in 3D, IMAX and the usual perks offered to those willing to watch it on the big screen), Mortal Engines has all of the pieces to make up a blockbuster, except one. There is an apocalyptic sci-fi storyline (which has proven successful in multiple franchises), action, humor, romance, and plenty of special effects. The only thing missing was audience interest.

Green Book 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
  • Director: Peter Farrelly
  • Writers: Peter Farrelly, Brian Currie, Nick Vallelonga
  • Producers: Peter Farrelly, Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Nick Vallelonga
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2:1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 12, 2019
  • Run Time: 130 minutes


        Green Book is not the film I ever expected to see director Peter Farrelly make when I first watched There’s Something About Mary many years ago, and it certainly isn’t the film I expected to win Best Picture for this past year. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprise, considering this makes three years in a row that the Academy has given the award to a film about diversity and discrimination (The Shape of Water may not directly be about race, but I think the allegory is clear). Green Book seems far from the best film of the year, but it is a safe choice in terms of balancing audience enjoyment and social message.

Burning Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Steven Yuen, Ah-in Yoo, Jong-seo Jun
  • Director: Lee Chang-dong
  • Disc Format: Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean (Dolby Digital 5.1), Korean (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     Unrated 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: March 5, 2019
  • Run Time: 148 minutes



        I honestly had no idea what to expect from Burning, up until the credits started to roll. Although there are moments that the movie seems to resemble others, or starts to conform to genre conventions, this may all be red herrings and MacGuffins to the overall film experience. And I truly believe that the experience director Chang-dong Lee intended audiences to have is one of questions, not answers. It is fitting that the inciting incident of the film’s narrative involves the house-sitting of a cat that never shows itself. Many who have debated the meaning of the movie have argued the possibility that the cat doesn’t exist at all. I believe that the point is that the cat both exists and doesn’t exist, because the film itself feels like a cinematic representation of Schrödinger’s cat.

Rampant Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jang Dong-Gun, Hyun Bin, Kim Joo-hyuk
  • Director: Kim Sung-hoon
  • Disc Format: Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean (Dolby Digital 5.1), Korean (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     Unrated 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: February 26, 2019
  • Run Time: 127 minutes


        There is a quote on the back of the Rampant Blu-ray comparing the film to “Game of Thrones meets 28 Days Later,” and while I know this was meant as a marketing selling point, it did more harm than good to have these preconceived notions in my head. For one thing, “Game of Thrones” already has zombies, so the addition of 28 Days Later to the comparison is redundant at best. Also, nearly every element that is can be compared to “Game of Thrones,” including swordplay, politics, and zombie-like attacks forcing the living to band together, has been done better by the HBO series. While the quote on the back of the Blu-ray may inspire additional rentals and purchases, it is also likely to lead to more disappointing viewing experiences.

Mary Queen of Scots 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant
  • Director: Josie Rourke
  • Writer: Beau Willimon
  • Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 26, 2019
  • Run Time: 124 minutes


        There is no question that Mary Queen of Scots is a good movie, well made in every technical aspect. The 4K Ultra HD edition highlights this fact, particularly in terms of the design elements. It is a good looking film, with a timely story (to the point that it occasionally feel on-the-nose) acted out by a handful of capable actors (albeit, many of which are made unrecognizable underneath too much stagy make-up), and yet there are also enough annoyances (as pointed out in these interruptions to the sentence) to prevent me from fully appreciating the quality. Mary Queen of Scots also has the misfortune of inevitable comparisons to The Favorite, a film which satirizes the very ideas that this film treats with melodramatic seriousness.

Ralph Breaks the Internet Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: 
     PG 
     Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: WALT DISNEY ANIMATION
  • Release Date: February 26, 2019
  • Run Time: 112 minutes



        Wreck it Ralph was a unique concept, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the film itself. While it had a colorful design and a helpful message for younger audience members, it didn’t have enough originality or cleverness to keep my mind occupied for the entire running time. Not only is Ralph Breaks the Internet a better film in nearly every regard other than the title, but I actually found myself appreciating it more with additional analysis. In short, Ralph Breaks the Internet may be filled with shameless Disney self-promotion and is clearly another cash-grabbing sequel, but it also happens to be a pretty great film.