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.

Narcos: Season One Blu-ray Review





        Netflix’s original programming has quickly surpassed all networks, including HBO. Not only does their content seem to be released much faster than the cable network, Netflix shows also have far greater variety in the tone and style of their shows, as well as their target audiences. Although the format for “Narcos” has surely existed previously, at least in film form, I am most impressed by the series’ ability to convince American audiences to read subtitles. Bilingual shows have also been done before, but in “Narcos,” Netflix has found a genre that audiences are willing to endure it for.

Last Days in the Desert DVD Review

  • Actors: Ewan McGregor, Tye Sheridan, Ciaran Hindis, Ayelet Zurer
  • Director: Rodrigo Garcia
  • Disc Format: Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
  • Studio: Broadgreen
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 98 minutes




        As a meditation on the delicate relationship between father and son, Last Days in the Desert is an obvious addition to filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia’s body of work. Having made a TV film about this dynamic, a feature focusing on the similarly significant connection between mother and daughter, and several other narratives which investigate relationships rather than plot development, there is far more than religious consideration to make this a fitting addition to Garcia’s filmography. Fans of this skillfully poetic filmmaker are likely to be pleased with the way that Garcia utilizes the biblical narrative to construct a fictional film containing his signature style and familiar themes. Those who enjoy the typical transparency and clumsy evangelism of most faith-based filmmaking, however, may be disappointed by the liberties taken with the adaptation of a brief biblical passage and a certain level of ambiguity which forces audiences to ruminate on meaning for themselves.

Sundown DVD Review

  • Actors: Camilla Belle, Sara Paxton, Teri Hatcher, Devon Werkheiser, Sean Marquette
  • Director: Fernando Lebrija
  • Disc Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2016
  • Run Time: 102 minutes


        Sundown has all of the expected elements of a teen sex comedy without any of the creativity or good will that may have been its saving grace. Instead, all we are left with are a series of cliché situations, derivative plot twists, and atrocious stereotyping for nearly every character involved. Women exist in the narrative primarily to be ogled and/or saved, and nearly every ethnic character in the Puerto Vallarta setting seems to fall into one of Trump’s categorizations of Mexicans. All of this may have been slightly more excusable if there were anything remotely sexy or funny about this sex comedy.

The Last Diamond DVD Review

  • Actors: Bérénice Bejo, Yvan Attal
  • Director: Eric Barbier
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 26, 2016
  • Run Time: 108 minutes




        The Last Diamond is a thoroughly enjoyable heist film, despite an uneven tone and questionable story structure. There are many ridiculous elements to the second half of the film, despite the relative realism in the first half, and the lighthearted humor of the beginning is also dismissed by the film’s conclusion. Uneven as it may be, The Last Diamond is never anything less than watchable, providing the type of popcorn entertainment expected of Hollywood in the form of a French film.

Summer Camp DVD Review

  • Actors: Diego Boneta, Maiara Walsh, Jocelin Donahue, Andrés Velencoso
  • Director: Alberto Marini
  • Disc Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 84 minutes




        Summer Camp is a mostly unoriginal infection/zombie film, with a title that sounds like a slasher from the 1980s. What little within Summer Camp that is original ends up mostly just confused rather than effective, making this film equal parts derivative and illogical. The result is either frustrating or hilarious, depending on your patience level and viewing state of mind. Either way, even the mildest of entertainment offered by Summer Camp is likely to wear off long before the brief 84-minute run-time begins to feel like an eternity.

Chosen DVD Review

  • Actors: Harvey Keitel, Luke Mably, Ana Ularu
  • Director: Jasmin Dizdar
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 93 minutes


        Despite a familiarity to the narrative, many plot-holes, and a cliché bookend sequences with an elderly man telling the WWII war story, Chosen features enough competent filmmaking to forgive the many screenplay problems. We have seen many war movies like this in the past, and Chosen doesn’t attempt to re-invent the wheel, but it does provide more of the same for fans of these movies. The scale may not be as massive as many studio war films, but this just makes the accomplishments of this lower budget movie that much more impressive.

The Blacklist: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, James Spader, Harry Lennix, Ryan Eggold
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Box set, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019




        Season three of “The Blacklist” switches up the established formula from the first two season and seems to be making big changes to the dynamic of the show. After two seasons adhering to a basic structure that was beginning to wear thin, it is somewhat of a relief that the third season broke free from the predictable formula. The unfortunate part of these changes seems to come from the realization that many were made to counteract events in the actor’s lives rather than bold choices by the writers. Despite some shifting in the roles of the main cast members, I’m not convinced that season four won’t return to business as usual.

The Trust Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira, Jerry Lewis
  • Director: Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 92 minutes




        Despite the fact that Nicolas Cage appears to take every VOD role offered to him as a way to counterbalance his notorious spending problems, The Trust actually features him in a role which makes use of his boisterous acting style. He may agree to be in every film offered, but at least this is one which feels written specifically for him. Meanwhile, it simultaneously gives Elijah Wood another opportunity to play against type, creating an effective dynamic between the two stars. This chemistry between actors is nearly enough to dismiss some of the screenplay’s shortcomings in the third act. These performances are completely effective in making The Trust a watchable heist film, even if the resolution is more frustrating than logical.

Manhattan Night Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Jennifer Beals, Campbell Scott
  • Director: Brian DeCubellis
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 83 minutes




        Manhattan Night has all of the elements of a good film noir, and while that is at times the film’s greatest asset, it often makes for a predictable tale of pulp. The atmosphere is spot-on, the acting is effective, but any knowledge of the genre will make this watchable film equally forgettable. The resemblance to countless other classic noir narratives works as a double-edged sword, much in the same manner that The Force Awakens was simultaneously praised for its nostalgic elements while being criticized for its unoriginality. Those who enjoy the plot twists and backstabbing from the original 1940s and ‘50s film noirs, or the added R-rated scenes of violence and steamy erotica brought with the 1980s and ‘90s revival of neo-noir, will be equally satisfied at the way Manhattan Night adheres to each. I’m afraid the only problem is that filmmaker Brian DeCubellis doesn’t have anything new to bring to this formula.

The Lobster Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly
  • Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 89 minutes




        In his first English-language feature film, Greek filmmaker Yorgo Lanthimos brings his signature style and sense of humor to a demented meditation on romance and the societal pressures to pair off. There is no denying the originality in Lanthimos’s vision, though I had hoped for more follow through on some of the filmmaker’s creative concepts. Even with a strong central theme and a reliably consistent protagonist, it often feels as though some of the film’s most unique ideas are dismissed once Lanthimos has either lost interest or written himself into a corner. The result is an unpredictable and captivating viewing experience, albeit one that is often unsettling and slightly unsatisfying.

High Strung DVD Review

  • Actors: Ian Eastwood, Comfort Fedoke, Marcus Mitchell, Keenan Kampa, Nicholas Galitzine
  • Director: Michael Damian
  • Producers: Michael Damian, Janeen Damian
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 96 minutes




        In describing the plot of High Strung, a movie about an innocent young blond teen dancer who moves to the big city and learns how to integrate a hip-hop style with her abilities in classical dance, I could easily be talking about any number of dance films, from Save the Last Dance to several entries in the Step Up franchise. Literally nothing about this film feels original or fresh, but that might not matter to the younger audience members it seems directed at, many of which may be unfamiliar with how much of the movie is a retread. Even the flaws remain the same, casting actors for their abilities during the musical numbers rather than for convincing acting. Awkward dialogue and predictable plot points give way to some well executed dance choreography and a bit of creative musical composition. If only this were a music video, there would plenty positive to say.

Sniper: Ghost Shooter DVD Review

  • Actors: Dennis Haysbert, Nick Gomez, Stephanie Vogt, Chad Collins, Billy Zane
  • Director: Don Paul
  • Producers: Jeffery Beach, Phillip Roth
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, French, Thai
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 99 minutes




        Sniper: Ghost Shooter, the sixth film in the Sniper franchise, keeps the family connection alive with Chad Michael Collins returning to the role of Brandon Beckett. His father, Thomas Beckett (Tom Berenger) is absent from the latest entry, though Richard Miller (Billy Zane), a sniper from the original 1993 film, reappears to fill the connection. Mostly, however, these films have standalone storylines which could have easily added the connections to Sniper films as an afterthought.

Guernica DVD Review

  • Actors: James D'Arcy, María Valverde, Jack Davenport
  • Director: Koldo Serra
  • Producers: José Alba, Daniel Dreifuss
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Spanish, English, Japanese
  • Dubbed: French, Thai, Japanese
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 111 minutes




        Despite being directed by Spanish filmmaker Koldo Serra from a story and screenplay by two Spanish writers about the attacks on the small village in Spain during their Civil War in 1937, Guernica seems made with an English speaking audience in mind. The film is primarily in English and our protagonist is an American journalist. Fortunately much of the rest of the film’s approach feels more European rather than as if it had been constructed by Hollywood, especially since the plot is almost exactly the same as Pearl Harbor.

Traded Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kris Kristofferson, Trace Adkins, Tom Sizemore, Michael Paré
  • Director: Timothy Woodward Jr.
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
  • Studio: Cinedigm
  • Release Date: August 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
 



        When cameras first became portable enough to shoot outside of studios, there were plenty of low budget westerns made. Some of them are even considered classics today. While it has gotten increasingly easy to make movies with limited funds, the biggest problems with Traded have less to do with a lack of money and are more about missing talent and originality. The premise of the film is Taken in the western genre, as the unimaginative title suggests. It is so close to the original premise and so riddled with amateur dialogue and performances that Traded often feels more like a parody than a sincere effort at filmmaking.