Aftermath Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hannah Ware, Kevin Zegers, Scoot McNairy, Mariana Klaveno
  • Director: Elliott Lester
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 94 minutes




         I thought I knew what to expect from Aftermath, as there have been countless dramas about the process of grief. Cinematically speaking, these narratives tend to focus on the process of healing, and although there are certain character arcs in this regard, this is far from the focus of Aftermath. In fact, the moments when the characters truly are recovering remain off-screen, allowing the audience to view nothing more than the devastation and the destruction. The result is a film that feels like a news story, tragic and pointless, recreated in a fashion fitting a Lifetime movie.

The Assignment Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver
  • Director: Walter Hill
  • Format: Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 98 minutes




        Enraging many in the LGTBQ community (although, in all fairness, these days someone is always enraged about something on the internet), the basic premise for The Assignment sounds like a comedy, or at the very least, a campy parody of a politically incorrect grindhouse film from the 1970s. In fact, the film likely would have worked far better had it taken itself less seriously. It is still laughable, but not intentionally so, and the film noir formula is so bleak that there isn’t even any “so bad it’s good” enjoyment to be found. I don’t know how it’s possible for a film so controversial to simultaneously be so dull, but that seems to be The Assignment’s only real accomplishment.

Bambi Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Hardy Albright, Peter Behn, Tim Davis, Donnie Dugan, Ann Gillis
  • Director: David Hand
  • Writers: Vernon Stallings, Melvin Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, Ralph Wright
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 70 minutes


        There are several classic Disney movies which were far more interested in capturing the magic of a specific location than in the plot of the story. While many of these involve humans and their specific location of inhabitation, some of the most popular give human qualities to animal characters, often playing out like animated nature films. The Lion King showcases the plains of the African Serengeti, The Jungle Book takes us into the jungles of India, and The Little Mermaid gave us a tour of underwater wildlife (with the addition of the mythical creatures of the title), not to mention the numerous films that show us the life of animals existing in human worlds (Dumbo, 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, etc). Bambi may be the most straightforward of all of these, however, with more emphasis on the movement and behavior of the animated animals than any kind of traditional storyline. It ends up playing like a feature-length “Silly Symphony,” but with realism as the focus instead of expressionism and music.

Kill ‘Em All Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Stormare, Maria Alonso, Mila Kaladjurdjevic, Autumn Reeser
  • Director: Peter Malota
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Czech, Slovak, French, Portuguese, Croatian, Polish, Arabic, Korean, Hebrew, Slovene, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, Icelandic, Romanian, Thai, Greek, Turkish, Spanish, English, Serbian
  • Dubbed: French, Hungarian, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 96 minutes




        It’s time for another derivative direct-to-home release from Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Kill ‘Em All is as uninspired as nearly everything else in the last decade of the action star’s career. Try as the film might to add in some mystery with an overcomplicated non-linear narrative, seemingly compensating for the unimpressive action sequences, every twist can be seen a mile away. Even with Van Damme’s signature kicks peppered into the fight choreography, Kill ‘Em All feels like a dozen other cheap action films starring numerous other bland martial arts personalities.

Sky on Fire Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Leon Lai, Hsiao-chuan Chang, Daniel Wu
  • Director: Ringo Lam
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 100 minutes




        There are a few great action sequences in Sky on Fire, but they are buried within an overcomplicated slog of a film. With too many characters and too little time to care about any of them enough, Sky on Fire is more work than the enjoyable elements are worth. So much of my time watching the film was spent trying to remember or figure out the motivations of the large cast of characters, which is made more complicated by the fact that several of them seem redundant and unnecessary. Even when a decent scene of action would arise, I was unable to enjoy the spectacle amidst my confusion over what was occurring and whose side everyone was on. While director Ringo Lam certainly proves once again that he is a capable action director, movies of this type shouldn’t be so much work to enjoy.

The Shack Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Avraham Aviv Alush, Radha Mitchell
  • Director: Stuart Hazeldine
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: May 30, 2017
  • Run Time: 132 minutes




        Faith-based films are slowly improving, getting better scripts and actual actors to play the roles. Gone are the days of Sherwood Pictures, which would make movies with volunteers treating the production like a ministry rather than an art form. But even with these improvements and some actual directors being chosen to helm the projects, there is often still a glaring issue with the motivation of these films. They are often so single-mindedly preoccupied with evangelizing to the audience, they end up feeling more like propaganda than art or entertainment. While The Shack is better than most at this, it still manages to be a slog of a film to sit through. Easily 30-minutes too long, this faithful adaptation of the best-selling book also feels largely unnecessary.

Snitch 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Michael K. Williams, Melina Kanakaredes
  • Director: Ric Roman Waugh
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 112 minutes




        Snitch was proof that Dwayne Johnson could make movies that didn’t rely on his large physique and ability to handle fight scenes. Despite a few intense sequences, one involving a car chase and some gunplay, Snitch is largely a drama about an average man taking extraordinary measures to protect his son. While this may have done wonders for the credibility of the wrestler turned actor, Snitch is also a bizarre choice for a film to suddenly be chosen for 4K Ultra HD upgrade. Even though it is a competently made thriller, there is really only one scene in nearly two hours of run-time that utilizes the enhanced presentation. That is, unless you find it worthwhile to upgrade merely for HDR of Johnson’s worried face.

Ex Machina 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Chelsea Li, Corey Johnson
  • Director: Alex Garland
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Run Time: 108 minutes




        Independent science fiction film Ex Machina is the most inexpensive film to ever win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, which makes it an obvious choice for a 4K upgrade, despite the simplicity of the narrative. Even with the accolades, Ex Machina is a thoughtful film focused on the characters and overall themes rather than moments of special effects. The effects are secondary, though there is no denying the visual enhancement of Ultra HD makes it all the more easy to become immersed in the story.