Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Sonja Gerhardt, Milam Farooq, Tim Oliver Schultz
  • Director: Michael David Pate
  • Disc Format: Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (DTS 5.1), 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: 
     Unrated 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: February 12, 2019
  • Run Time: 89 minutes


        The origins of the horror genre can be traced back to Germany, and the most successful of early American horror films often imitated them. The success of American horror relied on the imitation of German filmmaking, so it is disheartening to watch Heilstätten, a film which simply feels like a cheap German imitation of The Blair Witch Project. Derivative in every aspect of filmmaking and narrative, Heilstätten has a few sincere scares but offers absolutely nothing new to the genre. Even in terms of the sub-genre of found-footage horror, it lacks any originality beyond a clever third-act twist.

Bohemian Rhapsody Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello
  • Director: Bryan Singer
  • Disc Format: Blu-ray, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: February 12, 2019




        Biopics have become as expected during award season as superhero movies during the summer (or any other time of the year, at this point), and Bohemian Rhapsody fits the bill perfectly. Not only does it have the usual narrative trappings of a musical biopic and a performance that carries the film, the last twenty-minutes of the film are basically just a recreation of Queen’s most iconic concert. It is also ironic that so much dedication was spent on accurately recreating this concert when basic life events are incorrect in the screenplay. Although this was most certainly done for dramatic effect, the very same people who would be most likely to appreciate the accuracy of the Live Aid section might also be annoyed by the changes made to Freddie Murcury’s life story.

Peppermint Soda Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Anouk Ferjac, Eléonore Klarwein, Odile Michel
  • Director: Diane Kurys
  • Producer: Serge Laski
  • Disc Format: Blu-ray
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     PG 
     Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 12, 2019
  • Run Time: 97 minutes


        Before Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, there was Diane Kurys’ Peppermint Soda, a French coming-of-age film in the tradition of The 400 Blows. Like many of the best coming-of-age films, it is largely autobiographical and therefore extremely personal, and yet there is also something extremely universal about the narrative. Despite being specific to the era that Kurys grew up in (the film takes place during the early 1960s) and made in the late ‘70s, there is something that will always be timeless about growing up.

Alita: A ScreenX Experience




        CJ 4DPLEX is a technology company that is probably best known for their 4D technology, which started in South Korea but has expanded across the globe with increasing momentum over the last decade. Although 4DX is certainly impressive enough, ScreenX is an even more recent innovation in the efforts toward a more immersive cinematic experience. I have heard ScreenX described as IMAX, but with the image being wider instead of taller, though this doesn’t quite do the experience justice. While IMAX may give you more to look at, ScreenX is more about utilizing peripheral vision in order to feel as though you are inside the film. I think a more apt description would be to compare it to 3D, without the need for glasses or the use of cheap gimmicks.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury
  • Directors: Scott Mosier, Yarrow Cheney
  • Writers: Michael LeSieur, Tommy Swerdlow
  • Producers: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy
  • Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG 
     Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 5, 2019
  • Run Time: 86 minutes


        Maybe I’m the real Grinch, because I was instantly annoyed by the news that Illumination Entertainment had decided to adapt the classic holiday cartoon into a feature-length animated film. The material had already been stretched out before, for Ron Howard’s live-action version, which I was also an adamant critic of. Only the news of Benedict Cumberbatch providing the voice gave me hope that the film might have a deep English accent to remind me of Boris Karloff’s iconic narration. From the moment I heard Cumberbatch’s annoying American accent for the Grinch, I knew I was destined to hate the film. Equally disappointing was Pharrell Williams as the narrator, who sounds like a dad reading a book to his kids with the purpose of getting them to fall asleep.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web DVD Review

  • Actors: Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant
  • Director: Fede Alvarez
  • Producers: Amy Pascal, Scott Rudin, Berna Levin, Elizabeth Cantillon, Ole Søndberg
  • Disc Format: Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Malay, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Thai, English, Khmer, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Thai, Spanish, English
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: Region 1 
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 5, 2019
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2020 
  • Run Time: 115 minutes


        Some films demand a second viewing, because they are extremely complex or because they are simply that good. The Girl in the Spider’s Web is neither of these. It is a film that demanded a second viewing, because it is that forgettable. Despite having seen it in theaters mere months ago, I found myself struggling to remember even basic plot elements. The one thing I had a distinct recollection of, even before repeat viewings, was the drastic changes to the narrative from the original Swedish films. This is likely because this is based on the fourth book in the series, which was not written by creator Stieg Larsson. Also, as per usual, Hollywood has neutered and boxed in what was once an innovative franchise. Even more pointless than the first American installment, and lacking the distinct visual flair of David Fincher, The Girl in the Spider’s Web simply turns the dark series into a generic espionage action film.

The Wife DVD Review

  • Actors: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Harry Lloyd
  • Director: Björn Runge
  • Producers: Peter Gustafsson, Rosalie Swedlin, Piers Tempest, Meta Louise Foldager, Claudia Bluemhuber
  • Disc Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: Region 1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 29, 2019
  • Run Time: 100 minutes


        Seemingly coming out of nowhere for most audience members, The Wife has quickly become the frontrunner for one of the Academy Award’s biggest accolades, despite the fact that it was in and out of theaters before award season had even truly began. While there is only so much attention that needs to be given to award nominations, it is telling that Glenn Close has won several major awards for her performance, despite being in a nearly unknown film. While at least part of that seems to be the tendency to reward a career of performances rather than just the one nominated for, there is no denying that Close’s performance carries the film.

First Man 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll
  • Director: Damien Chazelle
  • Writer: Josh Singer
  • Producers: Damien Chazelle, Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner, Wyck Godfrey
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 22, 2019
  • Run Time: 141 minutes


        Having another film with a score filled with jazz music is not reason enough to consider Damien Chazelle to be an auteur, but the themes of First Man connect to the filmmaker’s last two works, despite each existing in a genre of their own. First Man is a biopic, through-and-through, but one that doesn’t fall into the usual narrative trappings. On top of that, First Man contains further evidence of Chazelle’s worthiness as an Academy Award-winning director, from the spectacular camera work to the effectively nuanced performances he gets from the capable cast. Every year, there is at least one film that is shamelessly ignored during award season. This year we have several (in order to make room for the films that made a lot of money), but I would put First Man at the top of the list for under-appreciated films.

Halloween 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner
  • Director: David Gordon Green
  • Writers: David Gordon Green, Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride
  • Producers: Malek Akkad, Jason Blum, Bill Block
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • 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: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     
     
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 15, 2019
  • Run Time: 106 minutes


        There is something definitive about giving the latest Halloween sequel the exact same title as the original 1978 masterpiece. The expectations become even greater with the knowledge that it is not a remake, but actually a continuation of that first film. The hype leading up to this film’s release led me to believe it would be something original, when the reality is a lot closer to any of the early sequels in the 1980s. In a lot of ways, the kindest thing I can say about Halloween (2018) is that watching it felt somewhat like discovering an unseen sequel from the franchise’s past. Even with a female-empowered action climax, I was disappointed by the film’s lack of creativity and innovation.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic
  • Director: Eli Roth
  • Writer: Eric Kripke
  • Producers: Bradley J. Fischer, James Vanderbilt, Eric Kripke
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     PG 
     Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 18, 2018
  • Run Time: 105 minutes



        I’m certain if there are fans of the novel by John Bellairs, they will appreciate the nuances transferred over from that work. But for everyone else, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is likely to resemble numerous other fantasy family films from recent past. Because of the film’s use of magic, comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable, despite being based on a work that came long before that British behemoth of a franchise ever existed. While this film adaptation of that classic children’s book is certainly watchable, assuming the audience member is old enough to handle the frightening elements, the most original aspect of the production is the choice of director. And he is likely the reason that younger audience members must be wary of the content.

4DX: Relief from Average Film Experience







        I complain about Hollywood blockbusters often. As a lifelong fan of genre filmmaking, a film critic and professor, I typically end up seeing everything that major American studios have to offer, and my experience is nearly always the same. Desensitized by constant emersion in the big-screen spectacle and bored by formulaic structure of the narrative, it feels as though I spend a sad amount of time unengaged while sitting in the increasingly comfortable chairs of my local multiplex. The movie industry has become just that; an industry, churning out a product with consistency that seems to be the death of creativity and innovation. For years, I have complained, and I thought that the only solution was for the films to get better. But after watching my first film in 4DX, my entire perspective has been changed. And not just about Hollywood blockbusters. The truth is, after experiencing the latest advances in public film exhibition provided by CJ Group, including their 4DX and ScreenX technology, I now see a new direction for the future of the art form as a whole.   

Night School 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Romany Malco
  • Director: Malcolm D. Lee
  • Writers: Kevin Hart, Harry Ratchford, Joey Wells, Matthew Kellard, Nicholas Stoller
  • Producers: Kevin Hart, Will Packer
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 1, 2019
  • Run Time: 116 minutes



        There are no surprises with Night School, especially if you have seen the trailer or any of Kevin Hart’s sub-par comedic releases over the past five years. It is a generic and harmless comedy, the equivalent of watching a bad sitcom with no real plot structure and a bloated run-time. After a long day in the reality of the world, there are worse things than shutting your brain off and watching a stupid comedy. I’m just pretty sure that if my brain were off enough to enjoy this film, I would probably be dead. But those who typically enjoy the high-pitched short jokes of Kevin Hart will likely find this adequate entertainment.

Schindler’s List: 25th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Writer: Steven Zaillian
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, Branko Lustig
  • Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 18, 2018
  • Run Time: 196 minutes


        There’s a quote that I like to refer to when discussing the purpose of watching movies, which is something I am inclined to do in order to justify the amount of time spent in front of a screen. There is debate over its origins (I first heard it said by David Foster Wallace) and the quote discusses art in general, claiming the function, “is to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.” More and more, it feels like a majority of the films made in America are simply intended to comfort, to entertain and amuse without too many challenged, intellectually or emotionally. We are so accustomed to popcorn entertainment in this country that it is easy to forget how powerful a film can be when the intention is discomfort instead. Schindler’s List is exactly this type of film; a masterpiece that is painful to endure. This is a film everyone should see at least once in their life, and there is now one more way to view it, with the release of the 25th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Edition.

First Man Blu-ray Giveaway!



First Man is available on Digital on January 8th and Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and DVD on January 22nd
 

And Real Movie News has a copy for you!