How to Be a Latin Lover Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Raphael Alejandro, Kristen Bell, Rob Lowe
  • Director: Ken Marino
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 15, 2017
  • Run Time: 115 minutes




        Studios are baffled at the decreased ticket sales to blockbusters this summer, despite their efforts to market to the largest demographic possible. Most of the summer blockbusters tried so hard to appeal to a broad audience that they ended up with watered down results from everyone. It didn’t work for many of the comic book action movies, and it doesn’t always work for comedies either, as is evidence by How to Be a Latin Lover. Despite offering innocuous entertainment with sporadic laughs, it is a film that ultimately attempts to appeal to too many audience demographics with varied success.

Wolves DVD Review

  • Actors: Michael Shannon, Carla Gugino, Taylor John Smith
  • Director: Bart Freundlich
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: August 8, 2017
  • Run Time: 109 minutes




        Despite a predictable climactic sequence involving an important championship game and countless scenes discussing basketball, Wolves is hardly a sports movie. While it may rely on many of the clichés found in the sports genre, even including Herculean efforts to overcome injury in order to save the team from defeat, Wolves is far more preoccupied with Oedipal melodrama than the action occurring on the court. The title of the film says it all, because even though ‘Wolves’ is the name of the high school basketball team at the center of the film, far more of the film is spent dwelling on the predatory behavior of those surrounding the star player.

Kung Fu Yoga Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jackie Chan, Aarif Rahman, Lay Zhang
  • Director: Stanley Tong
  • Format: Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: August 8, 2017
  • Run Time: 108 minutes



        The appeal of Jackie Chan films used to be his lack of special effects to accomplish the stunts, many of which resulted in actual injury. His days of death-defying stunts are likely long gone, and it is not uncommon for his films to now feature CGI enhancements, but none quite so much as Kung Fu Yoga. The reason for this is not necessarily because of Chan’s age, however, but the decision to make it a co-production between China and India. Bollywood is known for the kind of ridiculous action that uses so many wires and CGI that it never comes close to resembling reality, which is the polar opposite style to Chan’s classic films, many of which were ironically helmed by Kung Fu Yoga director Stanley Tong (Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop).

The Dinner Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Chloë Sevigny
  • Directors: Oren Moverman
  • 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: August 8, 2017
  • Run Time: 120 minutes



        As the third adaptation of Herman Koch’s novel about the collapse of morality in a civilized society, The Dinner has more than just the source material to compete with. Despite provocative efforts by filmmaker Oren Moverman to adapt the source material in a way that relates to modern American society, it also feels like a movie too aware of the uphill battle it faces, often adding more than the narrative can handle. Ultimately, while individual ideas within the film show flashes of brilliance, the full experience is more over-stuffed than four protagonists after the meal they consume during the two-hour run-time.

The Exception Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Lily James, Jai Courtney, Christopher Plummer, Eddie Marsan, Ben Daniels
  • Director: David Leveaux
  • Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 8, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        Mixing fiction with true events and characters based on real people, The Exception is a World War II narrative full of juxtaposition, some more successful than others. It is part thriller, part drama, with a bit of unconvincing romance also thrown in for good measure. The problem is that the film spends much of its running time trying to figure out which of these will take focus, and in the end they all feel substandard. More a success than a failure, The Exception is also entirely forgettable save supporting performances from Christopher Plummer and Eddie Marsan.

The Circle Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Patton Oswalt
  • Director: James Ponsoldt
  • Film Format: AC-3, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 1, 2017
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




        The Circle has potential in its message to carry searing message or political commentary, but screenwriters James Ponsoldt and Dave Eggers (adapted from his novel) are as uncommitted to a single viewpoint as their film is to a genre. Bouncing back and forth between playful satire and sci-fi melodrama, The Circle never actually delivers on the suspense that was promised by the marketing campaign. The result is the feeling that the movie ends before ever digging beneath the surface of its own premise, an error that no amount of opportunistic casting can save the film from.

The Lovers Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Aidan Gillen, Melora Walters, Tyler Ross
  • Director: Azazel Jacobs
  • Film Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 1, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes




        A comedy about adultery is a hard sell, and one that writer/director Azazel Jacobs commits too completely with The Lovers. Even when the charm of the lead performances begs for a more sentimental shift in the storyline, Jacobs stays dedicated to the ideas in his screenplay rather than the tradition of most romantic comedies or the desires of most viewers. In this sense, The Lovers is a completely successful film experiment that owes a great deal of its likeability to actors Debra Winger and Tracy Letts and their layered performances.

Phoenix Forgotten Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Luke Spencer Roberts, Chelsea Lopez
  • Format: AC-3, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: August 1, 2017
  • Run Time: 87 minutes




        Found footage horror have dual goals that often work against each other. On one hand, after the success of The Blair Witch Project’s unique marketing campaign, there are great efforts by these films to appear as realistic as possible. This often means keeping the action minimal, building on suspense instead. But as they also exist in the horror genre, there is the expectation of some type of payoff and larger this spectacle is, the less realistic it often appears. This forces the filmmakers to do a balancing act that almost always leaves some audience members disappointed. Phoenix Forgotten runs into this problem, mostly due to the inclusion of an unnecessary secondary storyline whose only purpose is to give exposition and pad the run time.

S.W.A.T.: Under Siege Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Adrianne Palicki, Michael White, Ty Olsson
  • Director: Tony Giglio
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Czech, Russian, Slovak, French, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, Croatian, Arabic, Korean, Latvian, Hebrew, Norwegian, Slovene, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, Icelandic, Romanian, Thai, Danish, Greek, Turkish, Spanish, English, Lithuanian, Serbian
  • Dubbed: French, Hungarian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 1, 2017
  • Run Time: 89 minutes




        With the low production values and TV actor cast, S.W.A.T.: Under Siege might as well be a pilot for yet another failed series based on a forgotten action film from recent past. Only the computer generated blood and a few four-letter word help distinguish it from something you would see in the saddest time slot of a network station. But as much as this film is poorly constructed, it is just another entry into the continuation of a film franchise that nobody asked for.

The Final Master Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Liao Fan, Jia Song, Wenli Jiang
  • Director: Haofeng Zu
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, 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 Inc
  • Release Date: July 25, 2017
  • Run Time: 109 minutes




        There are so many entries into the Chinese martial arts genre that it is rare for a movie to find a unique approach to the material. Writer turned director Haofeng Xu has proved capable of making a traditional martial arts film with his previous films, but he gives audiences something wholly original with The Final Master. Not only does it abandon the traditional focus on honor and loyalty, but he also brings a distinct and realistic fighting style along with the flawed characters. Nobody flies in the air or does other impossible gravity-defying moves in battle, and the camera remains close enough to capture the speed of realistic movements. By allowing the characters and their fighting portrayed as more realistic, Xu makes the narrative more compelling than the average kung-fu film. Not only is this Xu’s best looking film thus far, it is also has the strongest story.

Black Butterfly Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Piper Perabo
  • Director: Brian Goodman
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: July 25, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




        The only thing that is worse than a film relying on twists to wrap up its narrative is one that boasts them in the marketing campaign. It isn’t much of a twist if audiences are expecting it, and that is exactly what happens when a movie like Black Butterfly chooses a tagline like “A Killer Story with a Twist.” The solution that director Brian Goodman has is to pile the twists upon each other, each one more ridiculous and insulting than the last. It’s like a Russian nesting doll of bad narrative ideas, all built in a premise that has initial promise. But, I suppose all blame can not be placed on Goodman’s lap, as this isn’t even an original film, adapted from the 2008 French film of the same name. One must also blame the unwillingness of American audiences to watch foreign films, and now many of the same mistakes have been repeated in a different language.

Buster’s Mal Heart Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, Lin Shaye
  • Director: Sarah Adina Smith
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: July 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 96 minutes




        Director Sarah Adina Smith describes Buster’s Mal Heart as being a mix of Donnie Darko and Bad Santa, but it mostly feels like a less structured imitation of Donnie Darko that merely features a character wearing a Santa suit. Anyone who has watched Donnie Darko knows of the open-ended ambiguity the film offers, but there are clues to help decipher its meaning with multiple views. Buster’s Mal Heart borrows that among a great deal of other things from Donnie Darko, even if the plots vary. Symbolism, religious metaphors, possible psychological breaks, a period setting, dark humor, and even a science-fiction wormhole amidst theories about the end of the world; all of these elements make Buster’s Mal Heart feel like a film made by someone who loves Donnie Darko enough to borrow heavily from it. But unfortunately, much as it tries, it is not Donnie Darko.

Tommy’s Honour DVD Review

  • Actors: Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden, Ophelia Lovibond, Sam Neill
  • Director: Jason Connery
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: July 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




        Golf fans may delight in the idea of seeing a film about the sport in its infancy, when courses were obstacles themselves and caddies carried the clubs in their arms, but Tommy’s Honour is more biopic than sports film. We may see our protagonist play golf, but rarely is the camera interested in the game rather than just the players. The result is very little golf action, instead focusing on character and relationship melodrama. In short, this is much more a film for historians than it is sports fans.

Free Fire Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharito Copley, Sam Riley
  • Director: Ben Wheatley
  • Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE 
  • Release Date: July 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        There is nothing more disappointing than going to an action movie, only to get stuck watching an exorbitant amount of time listening to exposition and character development. Free Fire seems to understand this, showing us what we need to know about the characters rather than telling us. And the plot doesn’t need much explaining, especially since the film is essentially just a 90-minute gun fight. Though this may be too simplistic for some, it is a feat of technical precision that is both entertaining and amazing.

Resident Evil: Vendetta 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Matthew Mercer
  • Director: Takanori Tsujimoto
  • Format: 4K
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Release Date: July 18, 2017








        Just because the live-action films Resident Evil films have completed doesn’t mean that there won’t be a continuation of the animated series, and Resident Evil: Vendetta serves as timely reminder. Unfortunately, the film also leaves no desire for future entries, and for long stretches doesn’t feel like a Resident Evil film at all. Heavy on the sci-fi elements of the narrative, there are huge sections of the film that don’t even include zombies or other monsters. In fact, if it weren’t for the quality of the animation, this film would be impossible to recommend to anyone, fan of the RE franchise or not.

Shooter: Season One DVD Review

  • Actors: Ryan Phillippe, Omar Epps
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 13, 2017




        In the past few years, there have been far too many movies adapted into TV shows to count, many of which have failed miserably (“Minority Report,” “Rush Hour,” “Limitless,” etc). Although “Shooter” is based on the 2007 action film of the same name, it may have benefited slightly from being less commonly known as many of the other adaptations. This may also be the reason that the first season basically just adopts the same exact storyline as the film, leaving few surprises in the first few episodes. But those who enjoyed the film should find some pleasure in the material being stretched out, even if much of the suspense dissipates in the process, and at least the second season promises an original storyline, as the film never had a sequel.

Underground: Season Two DVD Review

  • Actors: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller, Christopher Meloni
  • Producer: Mark McNair
  • 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
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 11, 2017
  • Run Time: 470 minutes




        Following the success of several other historical television series, including the American Revolution-based “Turn,” a series about the Underground Railroad seemed a sure-fire hit. And it was, to a certain degree, but that wasn’t enough to keep it from being cancelled. Fans pointed at the cancellation of Netflix’s “The Get Down” around the same time as reason to believe that the black narrative was a deciding reason for the cancellation, but there are many other factors that must be considered. Just as “Turn” was cancelled, “Underground” was popular with fans and had decent reviews, but the high production costs were too much to warrant continuing. When Sinclair Broadcast Group bought WGNA’s parent company earlier this year, they canceled several of the channel’s most successful shows, including their biggest hit, “Outsiders.” “Underground” was another unfortunate casualty, though there have been rumors that it may find a home at another network.

The Lost City of Z Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller
  • Director: James Gray
  • Disc Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Broad Green Pictures
  • Release Date: July 11, 2017
  • Run Time: 141 minutes




        David Lean must be turning over in his grave at the sad state of affairs that the film industry has become, that a film of classic and mature storytelling like The Lost City of Z would go largely unnoticed while multiplexes are swamped each weekend with the latest comic book release. The Lost City of Z has all of the makings of a classic, had it only been released 50-years ago. Based on a true story of adventure and exploration, it is a narrative that has no need for superhuman characters. The protagonist is human and flawed, but that also means that he may perish at any time along the adventure in the narrative, raising the stakes far higher than any of this year’s CGI-laden releases. There have been few films as praised this year, and it stars three actors who have been previously attached to massive blockbusters with great success (including the latest Spider-man, Tom Holland), despite displaying only a modicum of the skill they show in this film. And yet, somehow The Lost City of Z only saw a fraction of the ticket sales, proving through release date and limited marketing that Hollywood no longer has faith in the intelligence of audiences.

The Fate of the Furious 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Vin Diesel, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson
  • Director: F. Gary Gray
  • Writer: Chris Morgan
  • Producers: Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, Michael Fottrell
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled, 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: July 11, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        There are reportedly two more films planned in the Fast and the Furious franchise, though if The Fate of the Furious is any indication of the direction they will take, it won’t be the driving sequences that makes them a success. This may have been what made the films popular in the first place, but the ensemble cast has gradually replaced the driving as the most important element since the fifth film, which reinvented the racing franchise as heist films. With Paul Walker missing for the first time and the two most memorable action sequences taking place outside of the driver’s seat and without any of the original stars, The Fate of the Furious marks yet another transition for the franchise.

Bitcoin Heist Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kate Nhung, Thanh Pham, Veronica Ngo
  • Director: Ham Tran
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Vietnamese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: July 4, 2017
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




        In making the Vietnamese caper movie, Bitcoin Heist, filmmaker Ham Tran seems to have pillaged an assortment of Hollywood heist films for inspiration. This foreign film has the sensibility of a Hollywood blockbuster, complete with an ensemble cast of actors, action sequences, comedic relief, and a few twists in the narrative. Often it not only feels like movies like Ocean’s 11 and Now You See Me, but actually borrows from them shamelessly, even including a magician in the narrative to align more with the latter. While this is far from original, it is mostly effective in creating an entertaining film.