Category Archives: DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: Westworld Season One

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.

Westworld: The Complete First Season (4K Ultra HD/BD) [Blu-ray]

Synopsis:
Based on the film written by best-selling author Michael Crichton (ER, Jurassic Park films), Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and a reimagined past, the series explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.

Review:
Westworld is a totally immersive world where humans are safe to live out fantasies set in the Wild West. This vacation destination is comprised of various scripts acted out by extremely life-like robot “Hosts.” Each time a Host is killed, their memory is reset and they’re sent back out to relive the same storyline over and over. But some of the Hosts are starting to remember.

I remember watching the original film from the 70s, and this has a similar storyline but has been revamped and expounded in impressive ways. The cast of characters are completely engaging and well-developed. Each has their own story that weaves together in an impressive tapestry that comes to a big revelation in the finale. Because it’s on HBO, they can get away with nudity and violence which is excessive, to say the least. The depravity often churned my stomach. But the intriguing mysteries kept me watching. There are many plot twists along the way that lead to shocking surprises. This first season “The Maze” has a definite theme and ending of sorts that will lead to a much different second season. I don’t know that I’ll watch a second season as I didn’t care for the shock-value nudity and violence, but the incredible stories of the first season were unforgettable.

Blu-Ray Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital Combo Pack

SYNOPSIS:
Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

REVIEW:
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in this origin story that leads in to the upcoming Justice League movie. We were introduced to her in Batman v Superman, which I would mostly like to forget. Although, she was definitely the highlight of the film. This story takes us back to WWI, when Themyscira becomes involved in man’s war. And Diana decides to join the world of man, convinced that Ares is behind the war.

With fantastic action and stylized fight scenes, this adventure is visually stunning and well-paced. Wonder Woman didn’t disappoint despite being one of my all-time favorite super heroes. I appreciated her naiveté and altruism having lived in such seclusion. Chris Pine plays a suave Steve Trevor, a good choice for the man to win Diana’s heart. And Lucy Davis as Etta Candy made for unforgettable comedy relief. I thoroughly enjoyed her character. The story was fun and exciting. And though a bit predictable, it was no less enjoyable and emotional during the climactic scene. Thankfully, despite the terrible BvS, this film gives me hope for the Justice League.

Special Features Include:
– Epilogue: Etta’s Mission
– Crafting the Wonder
– A Director’s Vision: Themyscira: The Hidden Island
– A Director’s Vision: Beach Battle
– A Director’s Vision: A Photograph Through Time
– A Director’s Vision: Diana in the Modern World
– A Director’s Vision: Wonder Woman at War
– Warriors of Wonder Woman
– The Trinity
– The Wonder Behind the Camera
– Finding the Wonder Woman
– Extended Scenes
– Blooper Reel

Own Wonder Woman on Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on September 19 or Own It Now on Digital HD!

Blu-Ray Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 [Blu-ray]

Synopsis:
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and characters from the classic comics come to their aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.

Review:
The rag tag team of misfits returns for another action-packed adventure in space. When Peter’s father shows up, he seems too good to be true. Meanwhile, a new enemy wants revenge against Guardians. Plus, baby Groot!

After the immense success of the first film, that blew us all away, expectations were high for this sequel. One of my favorite things about the last movie was the unique inclusion of 70s music – a great selection. Unfortunately, this sequel didn’t have nearly as good music, in my opinion. There were just as many laughs though – if not more. Though the humor got a little raunchier. The plot was fantastic – full of action, drama, suspense, and several surprises. Even the heartbreaking ending was really well-done. I really enjoyed the spectacular special effects and the cast of characters. I can’t get enough of the Guardians. And it’s obvious that it’s a labor of love for director James Gunn.

Blu-Ray Review Copy: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Synopsis:
When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.

Review:
The film opens to an exciting battle where Mordred is attacking Camelot with giant elephants the size of a small mountain. But Uther (Arthur’s father – played by Eric Bana) defends his kingdom with the legendary Excalibur. But when Uther’s own brother betrays him, Arthur must flee.

There are some humorous montages of Arthur growing up and battles along the way to retake Camelot that director Guy Ritchie is known for – rock music paired with scenes on fast-forward. It’s a bit too cheesy for a film set in the middle ages. I really wanted to like this film. But the story has just been done so many times. The story was nothing new and wasn’t memorable at all. It’s too bad because the cast was fantastic. But nothing can save an uninspired script with a story we have heard in many, MANY different ways.

Special Features Include:
– Arthur with Swagger
– Sword from the Stone
– Parry and Bleed
– Building on the Past
– Inside the Cut: The Action of King Arthur
– Camelot in 93 Days
– Legend of Exalibur
– Scenic Scotland

Blu-Ray Review: The Circle



The Circle Blu-Ray Edition

Synopsis:
When Mae (Emma Watson) is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company, she sees it as an opportunity of a lifetime. As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics, and ultimately, her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family, and all of humanity.

Review:
Imagine a Big Brother tv show out in the real world, and that’s what Mae subjects herself to. Zero privacy and interacting with her viewers every waking moment. I can’t imagine it being entertaining with no scripting, but it re-iterates the point of the movie of losing privacy for security. When tragedy strikes, Mae is forced to reevaluate her view on total transparency.

I didn’t have any expectations before watching The Circle. I hadn’t seen any positive reviews, but the cast was great and it seemed like something I’d enjoy. The acting was fantastic. It was bittersweet to see Bill Paxton in his last role. When Mae first goes to work at the Circle, it’s very reminiscent of what working at Google mixed with Apple must be. However, it suddenly takes a weird turn when she realizes she’s expected to interact with her colleagues to the point of not having a life outside of work. The mood is creepy and tense throughout. There is a predictable climactic scene, followed by Mae’s epiphany. But the ending falls flat with the push back against “total transparency.” A lot of build up with little resolution. I really wanted to like this one, but it feels like something I’ve already seen before. It’s not a bad film, just a little disappointing.

BLU-RAY / DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
• “No More Secrets: Completing The Circle — A Four-Part Series” Featurette
• “The Future Won’t Wait: Design and Technology” Featurette
• “A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton” Featurette

Blu-Ray Review: Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Synopsis:
In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that her life was stolen instead of saved. Now, she will stop at nothing to recover her past while punishing those who did this to her.

Review:
I had low expectations of this film before watching, as I have seen all the negative reviews and anger at the “white-washing” of characters. Scarlett Johansson stars as Major, who’s brain has been installed in a completely cybernetic body. Her memories are spotty, but she makes for a perfect soldier. Though, her new enemy reveals the truth of her existence, and everything she knows she now has to question.

Ghost in the Shell is an action-packed, scifi thriller. While it’s not a bad movie, there isn’t much more than good acting and impressive CGI that stood out to me. The story has been done (Robocop had more of an impact), and nothing was surprising. And the futuristic world needed more backstory – it wasn’t confusing, but felt choppy. I’m not familiar with the source material, as I’m not a fan of Manga – so I can’t speak to that. But it was a fun, suspense-filled adventure.

Blu-Ray Review: Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island

Synopsis:
This compelling, original adventure tells the story of a diverse team of scientists, soldiers, and adventurers uniting to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

Review:
When I saw the trailers for this film, I knew I had to see it. John C. Reilly’s character alone added a lighthearted feel to an otherwise action-packed film. Unlike previous Kong films, this had plenty of humor which evened out the intense suspense. Tom Hiddleston was fantastic too, as a daring explorer. He’s the hunky hero, and plays it well – a nice diversion from everyone’s favorite Loki. Samuel Jackson plays his same type-cast character as usual.

Kong: Skull Island is a fun and exciting story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s surprising and unexpected. With a great cast, solid story, and filmed in stunning Vietnam locale, this film exceeded my expectations (as I didn’t care for the drawn-out Peter Jackson film at all). A post-credit scene hints to a sequel, that I really hope happens.

Blu-Ray and DVD Features:
– Director’s Commentary
– Creating a King: Realizing a Icon
– Creating a King: Summoning a God
– Monarch Files 2.0
– Tom Hiddleston: The Intrepid Traveler
– Through the Lens: Brie Larson’s Photography
– On Location: Vietnam
– Deleted Scenes

Blu-Ray Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3D Blu-Ray Combo Pack

SYNOPSIS:
There are growing dangers in the wizarding world of 1926 New York. Something mysterious is leaving a path of destruction in the streets, threatening to expose the wizarding community to the No-Majs (American for Muggles), including the Second Salemers, a fanatical faction bent on eradicating them. And the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, after wreaking havoc in Europe, has slipped away…and is now nowhere to be found.

Unaware of the rising tensions, Newt Scamander arrives in the city nearing the end of a global excursion to research and rescue magical creatures, some of which are safeguarded in the magical hidden dimensions of his deceptively nondescript leather case. But potential disaster strikes when unsuspecting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski inadvertently lets some of Newt’s beasts loose in a city already on edge—a serious breach of the Statute of Secrecy that former Auror Tina Goldstein jumps on, seeing her chance to regain her post as an investigator. However, things take an ominous turn when Percival Graves, the enigmatic Director of Magical Security at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), casts his suspicions on both Newt and Tina.

Now allied, Newt and Tina, together with Tina’s sister, Queenie, and their new No-Maj friend, Jacob, form a band of unlikely heroes, who must recover Newt’s missing beasts before they come to harm. But the stakes are higher than these four outsiders—now branded fugitives—ever imagined, as their mission puts them on a collision course with dark forces that could push the wizarding and No-Maj worlds to the brink of war.

REVIEW:
Newt Scamander is a socially awkward man who connects better with creatures than humans. But with the help of some new friends, he must protect his magical creatures from false accusations as well as themselves from an ominous investigator.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a prequel to the Harry Potter series. With all of the magic and wonder of the Harry Potter books and films, this standalone story is a fantastic installment. The magical creatures are incredibly fun and exciting. The characters are complex and well-developed. And the story is a great combination of fantasy, mystery, suspense, and humor. While there are some dark elements, it’s still a great family film. And I hope to see a sequel with these characters soon.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins!
o Join J.K. Rowling as she, David Yates and David Heyman return to Leavesden Studios to build a new and exciting corner of the wizarding universe.

•Characters
o The Magizoologist
o The Goldstein Sisters
o The New Salemers
o The No-Maj Baker
o The President and the Auror

•Creatures
o Meet the Fantastic Beasts
o Bowtruckle
o Demiguise
o Erumpent
o Niffler
o Occamy
o Thunderbird

•Design
o Shaping the World of Fantastic Beasts (360°)
o New York City (360°)
o MACUSA (360°)
o Newt’s Magical Case (360°)
o The Shaw Banquet
o The Blind Pig (360°)

•Deleted Scenes (11 scenes)

Own Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on March 28 or Own It Now on Digital HD!