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.

High School Lover DVD Review

  • Actors: James Franco, Paulina Singer, François Arnaud, Lana Condor, Tyler Alvarez
  • Director: Jerell Rosales
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: November 21, 2017
  • Run Time: 86 minutes




        Considering the early praise and awards that James Franco has already received for his performance in The Disaster Artist, it may seem unusual that the movie actor also chose to star in a Lifetime Channel TV movie called High School Lover. It may seem unusual, but only if you haven’t been following Franco’s career over the last decade. This is the same actor that decided to go back to school for a graduate degree in literature while at the peak of success. This is also the actor that decided to take a reoccurring role on a soap opera shortly after receiving an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, while Franco’s involvement may garner the project more attention, it does little to improve the typical Lifetime melodrama.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung
  • Director: Patrick Hughes
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE 
  • Release Date: November 21, 2017
  • Run Time: 118 minutes




        The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the McDonald’s of buddy action comedies. Nearly every entry into the genre is likely to be considered ‘junk food’ entertainment, but this is about as cheap as it gets while still remaining popular. It is lazy, lacks and substance, and feels derivative of something that was once innovative, but millions will continue to consume it without thought. And maybe that is the point, but I found myself craving for dialogue that wasn’t funny merely for the choice of expletives sprinkled around like a sophomoric game of ad libs. Not only a decent dose of action in the third act was enough to save this film from leaving me feeling unsatisfied.

The Villainess Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kim Ok-Vin, Shin Ha-Kyun, Bang Sung-Jun
  • Director: Jung Byoung-Gil
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Korean (Dolby Digital 5.1), Korean (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: November 21, 2017
  • Run Time: 124 minutes



        The Villainess is a South Korean film that takes place partially in China, with action scenes shot with the hyperkinetic movement of many modern cult Japanese films. Although these various elements often give the style of the film a bit of cultural ambiguity, the revenge-laden plot is distinctly South Korean. The story about a trained female assassin out for revenge against those who made her also often resembles the Kill Bill films, but the non-chronological storytelling in this film is often a chore and it lacks a crucial element that made Quentin Tarantino’s films fun. Even with an impressive number of action sequences, The Villainess is often more torturously bleak than feels necessary.  

Wind River Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal, Martin Sensmeier, Julia Jones
  • Director: Taylor Sheridan
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: November 14, 2017
  • Run Time: 107 minutes




        After his success as screenwriter with hits the last two years in a row (Sicario, Hell or High Water), Taylor Sheridan has once again blended a crime narrative with the modern western genre, this time as the director. Sicario dealt with drug trafficking, Hell or High Water was about small town bank robberies, and Wind River about a murder investigation on a remote Native American reservation. The terrain may have switched from the hot deserts of southern states to the freezing mountains of Wyoming, but it is the plot’s connection with the setting that aligns it with the classic westerns of the past. At the same time, there is a painful intimacy to the tragedy in Wind River which was missing from his previous films, making this a somber affair despite an action-packed climactic resolution.

Preacher: Season Two Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Tom Brooke, Dominic Cooper, Ian Colletti, W. Brown
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Box set, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, German, Polish, Arabic, English, Turkish
  • Dubbed: French, German
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: November 14, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019




        As much as I enjoyed the brutal mix of dark humor, horror violence, and stylistic action found in the first season of “Preacher,” it also often felt aimless. There were great scenes within various episodes, but they rarely seemed to be working together in any discernible way. As a result, the first season felt somewhat inconsequential, almost as if it was killing time before finding direction for the story. Season two starts off with much more focus to its thrills, including a storyline about the hunt for God that remains constant for the full season, and two impressive episodes co-directed by frequent collaborators and series creators, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express, This is the End).

Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait Blu-ray Review

  • Starring: Julian Schnabel, Al Pacino, Willem Dafoe, Bono, Emmanuelle Seigner
  • Director: Pappi Corsicato
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: November 7, 2017
  • Run Time: 85 minutes




        Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait is fittingly named, diving into the personal life of the subject before defining his significance in the art world. Filled with intimate interviews with family members and friends, the documentary is far more concerned with the personality and approach to life that Schnabel takes than it is his actual work. Eventually the movie shows us his work, but rather than contextualize the significance of his paintings and films, it chooses to focus on the creative process at work.

The Glass Castle Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Max Greenfield, Sarah Snook, Naomi Watts
  • Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: November 7, 2017
  • Run Time: 127 minutes



        The Glass Castle has a messy narrative, mostly because the film is based on a true story and real life is rarely as neat and tidy as we expect our entertainment to be. This makes the countless loose ends in the story understandable, even if it does not make the film any more satisfying in its shortcomings. In adapting Jeanette Walls’ memoir, director Destin Daniel Cretton and co-screenwriter Andrew Lanham introduce a number of interesting ideas and relationships, but only one really becomes fully developed in the limited run-time. One can’t help but wonder what a more balanced film would have looked like, and how the dedication of the supporting players would have been even more effective had there been more time for proper character development.

Atomic Blonde 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: John Goodman, James McAvoy, Bill Skarsgard
  • Disc Format: 4K, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal
  • Release Date: November 14, 2017
  • Run Time: 115 minutes



        There is nothing more upsetting than being misled by a film’s marketing campaign, and coming to this realization in the middle of a disappointing film experience. From the action-packed trailers of Atomic Blonde, one might have expected that the film would be the female equivalent to the John Wick franchise, but in actuality it is far less an action movie than it is a spy film that just happens to have a few action sequences. But since the trailer shows all of these action sequences and little else, audiences may be disappointed by how much of the movie is missing this intensity and by how many of the key sequences were already seen in the advertisements. There is still a decent film in Atomic Blonde, but it doesn’t feel like the same one that was promised by the high-octane marketing campaign.

The Old Dark House Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton
  • Director: James Whale
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, Subtitled, Surround Sound
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 72 minutes



        A year after finding monumental success at Universal Studios with Frankenstein (1931), James Whale reunited with Boris Karloff to make The Old Dark House. What first appears to be one of the first haunted house films actually sets up the template for another horror genre that would primarily become popular in the 1970s with movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There are no real supernatural events in The Old Dark House, and the only monsters are the disturbed humans that occupy the gothic estate. When a group of normal men and women find themselves stranded by a storm, they must survive the night and their abnormal and potentially dangerous hosts.

Broken Sword Hero Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Buakaw Banchamek
  • Director: Bin Bunluerit
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (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: October 31, 2017
  • Run Time: 122 minutes




        What it lacks in narrative depth, Broken Sword Hero makes up for in visual spectacle. Easily one of the best shot Thai films I have ever seen, it also features nearly non-stop martial arts action throughout the film. Although the story is often repetitive and almost inconsequential, varying styles of fighting and interesting cinematography to capture it keep the film engaging for much of the lengthy run-time.

The Good Catholic Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Danny Glover, Zachary Spicer, John McGinley, Wrenn Schmidt
  • Director: Paul Shoulberg
  • Disc Format: Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Broad Green Pictures
  • Release Date: October 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 96 minutes



        Straddling the line between a faith-based film and a romantic comedy, The Good Catholic sets up a conflict in its premise that is destined to disappoint one of the two target demographics. This is not to say that it isn’t done in a thoughtful way, but by forcing the main character into a situation where he must choose between love and faith inevitably creates a rivalry between spirituality and worldly pleasures. On the other hand, this is a film unafraid to integrate issues of religion into its storyline in a way that is refreshing, even if the more pious viewer may take issue with the casualness of the depiction.

War for the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray Review

  •  Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson
  • Director: Matt Reeves
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: October 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 130 minutes




        Even though War for the Planet of the Apes fit in with nearly every tent-pole franchise release that came out in theaters this summer, it may have been the only one that didn’t leave me under-whelmed and disappointed.  Yes, it was a prequel/sequel, filled with flashy special effects and a large budget, but it is also one of the most thoughtful films of the year, elevated by its themes and performances to be far more than just a summer blockbuster. And if special effects and studio genre films are your thing, this is not only among the best of the year, and it also concludes the most consistent trilogy to come out of Hollywood in a long while.

Warrior 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Nick Nolte
  • Director: Gavin O'Connor
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: October 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 140 minutes




        Sports movies have become somewhat generic in their support of underdog narratives and the hopeful resolution that is nearly always presented by the final frame, especially those centered around boxing or other styles of fighting. Warrior is no exception, in some ways, but it also remembers what made Rocky one of the greatest films of its kind, before the franchise’s sequels swallowed up the elements that made it stick out. Not only did Rocky have an ending that was more interested in the journey taken by the fighter than the outcome of the battle within the ring, but it was also a film more interested in the gritty realism than flashy spectacle. Warrior sets up a scenario where we can have the best of both worlds, and does so by providing us with two protagonists.

Lady Macbeth DVD Review

  • Actors: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank
  • Director: William Oldroyd
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: October 17, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        Having no previous knowledge of the source material (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) that served as inspiration for the film, Lady Macbeth provides a protagonist whose compulsive need for control and power above all else very gradually turns her into an anti-hero. The end result isn’t what makes the film interesting, but instead it is the process the narrative takes to change our opinion about the central character, especially since her ultimate goal is to keep things the way that they are. It isn’t an exciting film, but somehow manages to remain gripping even when it is mundane, thanks in part to taut direction by William Oldroyd and an electric breakout performance by Florence Pugh.

God of War Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Vincent Zhao, Sammo Hung, Regina Wan
  • Director: Gordon Chan
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Mandarin Chinese (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: October 17, 2017
  • Run Time: 129 minutes



        Characteristically biased in its depiction of Chinese heroism when faced by outsider invaders and heavy use of martial arts action, God of War still manages to provide enough originality in its narrative to stand apart from the dozens of other historical Chinese epics that are released each year. Although the latest addition to this popular national genre is inconsistent throughout the 129-minute run time, there are enough successful elements in God of War to make it one of the better releases in recent years.

All the Sins of Sodom/Vibrations Blu-ray Review




        In 1967, sexploitation filmmaker Joseph W. Sarno traveled to Sweden for the freedom to make a film that would cement his significance in erotic films. But before the impact of Inga would be known, Sarno returned to the United States to make a series of low-budget erotica that is better known for discussion of taboo topics than for the graphicness of the actual content. The scenes of sexuality being awakened in a young girl may have been shocking in Inga, but the discussion of vibrators, the pill, and lesbianism in All the Sins of Sodom, Vibrations, and The Wall of Flesh were just as shocking without the need for the content to be as explicit.

Girls Trip Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kate Walsh
  • Director: Malcolm D. Lee
  • Writers: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver
  • Producers: Malcolm D. Lee, Will Packer
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 17, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        Had Girls Trip been Guys Trip instead, the comedy would have been quickly dismissed as generic and derivative, with the laughs made up almost entirely from bathroom humor and tasteless objectification of male sex organs. The single relevant element of the production is the choice to have female characters the focus in a sex comedy, following in the footsteps of Bridesmaids, Trainwreck and Rough Night, but with a black cast. Girls Trip is an equal opportunity piece of trash, but just because the vulgarity is carried out by women doesn’t make this anything close to a feminist narrative, and the casting of black actresses doesn’t mean the film has anything relevant to say about diversity. Men are both the problems that the women spend much of their time discussing, as well as the solution, even to the point of pairing off a married woman with another man mere minutes after she condemns him for his infidelity. While it is a good sign that movies about female minorities can make money at the box office, they deserve far better than what Girls Trip has to offer.

The Beguiled Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning
  • Director: Sofia Coppola
  • Writers: Sofia Coppola, Albert Maltz, Grimes Grice
  • Producers: Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley, Roman Coppola
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Rated: Re
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 10, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018
  • Run Time: 187 minutes




        By removing key characters of color from the adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s Civil War-era novel, Sophia Coppola has lost a key element of the original narrative, which was more faithfully adapted in 1971. By deciding to shoot the film in purposefully low light that is meant to look realistic in scenes of candlelight, Coppola has made an ugly movie full of indecipherably dark scenes. Endlessly pretentious and effortlessly dull for a majority of the run-time, The Beguiled still manages to be one of the best films that Coppola has made in years, though this is not saying much after enduring vapid qualities of both The Bling Ring and Somewhere. 

Wish Upon Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Ryan Phillippe, Joey King
  • Director: John Leonetti
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Broad Green Pictures
  • Release Date: October 10, 2017
  • Run Time: 95 minutes




        Sometimes horror movies rely upon the stupidity of the characters, especially if there would be no deaths without their mistakes. This can work, especially in the slaughtering of sinful co-eds in slasher films, but even the protagonist displays some restraint in those films. Wish Upon forces a completely preventable premise upon its audience, made worse by the fact that the main character has to act completely out of character just to keep the plot moving.

Sniper: Ultimate Kill Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Tom Berenger, Billy Zane, Danay Garcia, Joe Lando, Chad Collins
  • Director: Claudio Fäh
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Czech, Russian, Slovak, French, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, Polish, Arabic, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Norwegian, Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, Romanian, Thai, Danish, Greek, Turkish, Spanish, English, Ukrainian, Lithuanian
  • Dubbed: French, Italian, Thai
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 3, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




        I don’t think anyone imagined that this franchise would still be alive and kicking in 2017 when the original Sniper film was released in 1993, but somehow the sequels keep getting churned out. It was only last year that Sniper: Ghost Shooter was released, and yet we already have another direct-to-video sequel.  Even more impressive is how often the original stars have even returned to the series, with Sniper: Ultimate Kill including both Billy Zane and Tom Berenger in supporting roles, despite the focus remaining on the next generation of sniper.

Churchill Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, James Purefoy, Julian Wadham
  • Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 3, 2017
  • Run Time: 105 minutes



        Churchill is clearly a performance piece, to the point that we get little in the narrative to focus on other than the emotional bellowing of the title character played by Brian Cox. And Cox is certainly up for the task, gaining weight to take on Winston Churchill’s silhouette along with the adoption of his mannerisms and speech patterns. As dedicated as Cox and the other cast members are to their roles, it is a shame that the film ends up feeling like little more than a showcase for acting, especially considering how easily the second Churchill biopic of the year (The Darkest Hour) is likely to overshadow this one.

Kick-Ass 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage
  • Director: Matthew Vaughn
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: October 3, 2017
  • Run Time: 117 minutes




         Before Matthew Vaughn began to parody the spy films with the Kingsman franchise, he took aim at the superheroes fairly early on with Kick-Ass, a film that proved a hard R-rating could be lucrative in the genre long before Deadpool or Logan. Based on the comic book by Mark Miller and John Romita Jr., Kick-Ass is a superhero film for all of the geeks who have spent their youth reading comic books and wishing that they could change their nerdy ways to become a hero and win the girl. It is the ultimate wish-fulfillment film, directed at the very audience that made the genre a success in the first place. At the same time, it is a tongue-in-cheek loving parody of the genre itself, constantly referencing classic comic book superheroes and their film adaptations.

It Stains the Sands Red Blu-ray Review

  • Film Format: Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Mpi Home Video
  • Release Date: September 26, 2017
  • Run Time: 92 minutes




         The most impressive thing about It Stains the Sands Red is the cleverness of a screenplay that has a premise involving a zombie apocalypse without needing the budget to depict it. With a majority of the film taking place in the secluded deserts of Nevada and only involving a single zombie, the production values have been pared down. Unfortunately, this cost-effective production decision is the only thing intelligent about It Stains the Sands Red, a film with a protagonist who repeatedly makes frustratingly dumb decisions.

This is Us: The Complete First Season DVD Review

  • Disc Format: AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2017




         The pilot for “This is Us” is something of a miracle, because it isn’t until the very end of it that the premise for the show is revealed. In all early marketing for the series, it was unclear how all of the characters are connected, and the pilot doesn’t reveal that they are all family members until the final moments. The impact of this is even greater when it is revealed that some of the story takes place in a different time period, while remaining tied to the same family. This brilliant revelation makes the pilot for “This is Us” one of the most impressive hours I have seen on television, but it also sets up the rest of the season for failure, as it can’t be matched in the same way.

L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties DVD Review

  • Actors: Bingbing Fan, Kris Wu, Yun Lin, Mi Yang, Amber Kuo
  • Director: Gui Jingming
  • Disc Format: Animated, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: September 26, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




         It is difficult to review a film when you have trouble understanding what it is about, and even the title of L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties has me scratching my head. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that the film is based on a book series, which the filmmaker seems to assume his audience is already familiar with. For this fanbase, the convoluted animated fantasy world of the film may be easier to grasp, but everyone else is likely to get lost in the various storylines and ensemble cast of generic CGI characters. By the end of the film, I was no clearer on the point of the narrative, but simply embracing the mild spectacle of endless fight scenes.