Passage to Mars DVD Review

  • Actors: Zachary Quinto (narrator)
  • Director: Jean-Christophe Jeauffre
  • Film 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: January 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 103 minutes




Passage to Mars is a documentary about a human mission to Mars, though it never leaves Earth to accomplish this. Scientific advancements come in stages, and the early stages of planning a trip to Mars include testing of the material in the safety of our own atmosphere. In order to be sure a land rover created for travel on Mars will be a suitable option for astronauts, first it is tested in the Arctic. This film is about that journey, which only seems tied to space travel by the constant reminders from voiceover and digital imagery of the Red Planet.

The Monster Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine, Scott Speedman, Aaron Douglas
  • Director: Bryan Bertino
  • Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: January 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 91 minutes




        Even though this only the second film directed by Bryan Bertino that I have seen (out of the three he has made), The Monster clearly establishes a familiar style from the filmmaker. Like his directorial debut, The Strangers (2008), there is more emphasis on the construction of mood and development of characters than there is on typical horror elements, such as jump scares and gore. Even with a creature at the center of the storyline, the focus always stays on the relationships in the narrative. Both films also rely on flashbacks to add meaning to these relationships, as the drama of the present terror takes hold, and they both also have the distinct directorial trademark of record players playing scratchy old music.

Inferno 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish, Paul Ritter, Irrfan Khan
  • Director: Ron Howard
  • Producers: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer
  • Disc Format: 4K
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Czech, German, Russian, French, Portuguese, Finnish, Polish, Swedish, Estonian, Arabic, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Dutch, Norwegian, Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, Romanian, Thai, Spanish, English, Danish, Turkish, Japanese, Lithuanian
  • Dubbed: Czech, Russian, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Hungarian, Thai, Spanish, Turkish, Japanese
  • Audio Description: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 24, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 121 minutes




        Inferno is the latest installment in the film adaptations of Dan Brown’s book series about symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), but it is also missing a major element from the narrative and its protagonist. Beginning with Langdon discovering he has suffered some unknown head injury that has caused memory loss, our hero is unable to use the abilities that make him who he is. Langdon’s inability to solve puzzles and clues basically handicaps the character, leaving him like Sherlock Holmes without the ability to sleuth. This detour from what made the first films a success paired with an overly stylized approach to the visuals, as a way of reproducing Langdon’s disorientation and hallucinations, easily makes Inferno the least enjoyable in the franchise. And this is before even taking into consideration the major changes made from the book.

Resident Evil: Afterlife 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Spencer Locke, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts
  • Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
  • Producers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer, Don Carmody, Bernd Eichinger
  • Film Format: Dubbed, Subtitled, 4K
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Hindi, Czech, Slovak, Finnish, Swedish, Polish, Estonian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Hungarian, Slovene, Mandarin Chinese, Icelandic, Romanian, English, Spanish, Danish, Lithuanian
  • Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Czech, Russian, Italian, Hungarian, Catalan, Spanish
  • Audio Description: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 17, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 97 minutes




        It may seem an odd choice to release the fourth film in the Resident Evil franchise on 4K Ultra HD before the first three, but it makes sense with knowledge of the production. First of all, Resident Evil: Afterlife marked Paul W.S. Anderson’s return to the franchise for the first time since the original film, despite retaining a writing credit on each of the films. That matter because of how visual Anderson is as a director, which was only enhanced for this release as he also made the choice to shoot the film in 3D. This is different than a post-production 3D conversion, and the difference is noticeable, even in 2D. All of this makes for a remarkably visual film, perfect for 4K presentation.

The Light Between Oceans Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson
  • Director: Derek Cianfrance
  • Film Format: AC-3, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Touchstone Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 133 minutes




        Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) has established himself as a director capable of handling heavy drama without allowing it to devolve into the emotional manipulation of melodrama, so he seemed the perfect choice to direct a film adaptation of M.L. Stedman’s novel full of coincidence and heavy emotions. While Cianfrance continues to prove his capabilities as an actor’s director, even he is incapable of saving the film from drowning in its own sorrow. Beautifully shot and expertly acted, The Light Between Oceans still retains a narrative that often feels emotionally manipulative through its many contrivances.

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Nicolas Cage, Matt Lanter, Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore
  • Director: Mario Van Peebles
  • Film Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Release Date: January 24, 2017
  • Run Time: 131 minutes




        It is much more difficult to criticize a film that is based on a true story, especially when the end of the film is peppered with real-life footage and interviews. This can make a mediocre film seem better than it is by leaving the audience with its most powerful moments, but even connecting the actors to their real-life counterparts is not enough to save USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. There is far too much to criticize, including a mouthful of a title, distracting from any ability to create empathy for the real-life men through the characters in the film.

Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania DVD Review

  • Director: Henry Yu
  • Producer: Henry Yu
  • Film Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 84 minutes




The decision to create sequels long after the release of the original film is not a new practice, though it seems somewhat of an unintelligible choice when considering Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania. First of all, it is always a questionable choice to release a sequel to a children’s film ten years after the original, if only because the fanbase has likely grown up past the age of appreciation. Sure, younger kids who have enjoyed the original through home entertainment may still be young enough, but that is assuming the original has had a lasting impact. And somehow I doubt this was a guarantee, as Surf’s Up wasn’t even the most popular of the animated films about penguins in 2007.