Category Archives: DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place

A QUIET PLACE debuts on Digital June 26, 2018 and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD July 10.

Synopsis:
A QUIET PLACE is a taut and original thriller that follows a family who must navigate their lives in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by sound. Knowing that even the slightest whisper or footstep can bring death, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski) are determined to find a way to protect their children at all costs while they desperately search for a way to fight back.

Review:
The story begins post-apocalypse. A mother and father do their best to protect their children, yet raise them to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves if need be. They live isolated and in complete silence in order to hide from deadly creatures that hunt by sound.

A Quiet Place is a unique and spectacularly intense film. Almost the entire film is silent, other than occasional intense music, and just a few lines of quiet dialog. There is a bit of sign language with subtitles. But for the most part, the story is told through the incredible acting from this small cast of talented actors. There is quiet a bit of slow pacing, that only seemed to add to the intense suspense – as viewers wonder when the next jump scare will come. As with many horror films, there are some plot holes. But this film does an amazing job of creating a feeling of terror, with very little blood. The monsters looked a lot like the demogorgon from Stranger Things season 1. And the story reminded me a bit of Signs, but much scarier as the aliens are faster and more deadly.

Special Features Include:
Blu-ray
• Feature film in high definition
• Bonus Content:
o Creating the Quiet – Behind the Scenes of A QUIET PLACE
o The Sound of Darkness – Editing Sound for A QUIET PLACE
o A Reason for Silence – The Visual Effects of A QUIET PLACE
DVD
• Feature film in standard definition

Blu-Ray Review: Escape Plan 2: Hades

Escape Plan 2: Hades

Synopsis:
Years after he fought his way out of an inescapable prison, Ray Breslin (Academy Award® nominee and Golden Globe® winner Sylvester Stallone) has organized a new top-notch security force. But when one of his team members goes missing, Breslin must return to the hell he once escaped from to save his friend from the prison’s brutal human battleground known as Hades.

Review:
When I saw that this film was available to review, I jumped at the chance as I really enjoyed the first one. However, I now know why I had never heard they even made a sequel. The film begins with an escape from what looks like a terrorist cell by individuals I’ve never seen before. In fact, I had no idea who anyone was until after the whole scenario was over. It seems Sly’s character, Ray Breslin, has a whole team of young proteges who break out of prisons. The film mostly stars Huang Xiaoming as Shu, the wooden character who hears Ray’s voice in his head throughout the movie as he tries to escape the super-prison Hades.

At some points, this felt like more of a martial arts film than about escaping from a prison. The story is convoluted and disjointed. And the special effects were laughable. Dave Bautista was wasted talent. And I never really cared whether or not Shu and the rest of them got out of the not-so-special prison. I saw that there was a featurette of the robot in the film. This was funny as it didn’t have more than a couple minutes screen time. Maybe it would have been more interesting if it was an actual character in the film. I was tempted many times to fast forward. I now wish I had.

Special Features:
– “Making Escape Plan 2: Hades” Featurette
– “Creating the Look of Escape Plan 2: Hades” Featurette
– Building the Robot of Escape Plan 2: Hades” Featurette
– Extended Cast/ Crew Interviews

Blu-Ray Review: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider 4K Blu-ray

Synopsis:
Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished when she was scarcely a teen. Now a young woman of 21 without any real focus or purpose, Lara navigates the chaotic streets of trendy East London as a bike courier, barely making the rent. Determined to forge her own path, she refuses to take the reins of her father’s global empire just as staunchly as she rejects the idea that he’s truly gone. Advised to face the facts and move forward after seven years without him, even Lara can’t understand what drives her to finally solve the puzzle of his mysterious death.

Review:
Alicia Vikander is the new Lara Croft – who was fantastic as an aimless young woman who becomes an archaeologist action hero. The research that her father was involved in is not very engaging – and pretty forgettable. This film was more of Lara’s journey and kind of a coming-of-age story. The actual archaeological spot and clues are fairly disappointing – there just isn’t much to it. But the suspense and thrills are spot on – as well as Vikander’s performance. Now that we have her backstory, I look forward to more interesting stories and actual tomb raiding. I certainly hope we get to see more of these films.

Own Tomb Raider on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on June 12, or Own It Now on Digital!

Blu-Ray Review: Annihilation

Annihilation 4K UHD Blu-Ray + Blu-Ray + Digital HD
On Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD May 29, 2018
On Digital May 22

Synopsis:
Biologist and former soldier Lena (Natalie Portman) is shocked when her missing husband (Oscar Isaac) comes home near death from a top-secret mission into The Shimmer, a mysterious quarantine zone no one has ever returned from. Now, Lena and her elite team must enter a beautiful, deadly world of mutated landscapes and creatures, to discover how to stop the growing phenomenon that threatens all life on Earth. The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny.

Review:
Lena enters The Shimmer to get answers about what happened to her husband. Out of everyone who has entered so far, only he has returned alive but has changed somehow. The story is told after Lena returns – an interrogation to get her take on the events during her time in The Shimmer. Then, to make it a bit confusing, we keep getting glimpses of Lena’s earlier life with her husband. I’m guessing it’s to build sympathy for the characters, but instead it’s jarring and confusing.

Annihilation is a sci-fi, psychological thriller. There is plenty of drama and suspense. And several scary, graphic scenes push this into rated-R territory. But it’s certainly not action-packed. In fact, it was much to slow and drawn-out for my taste. I prefer movies with either more character development or a strong story. This was somewhere in between. And Lena has very little personality. The whole Shimmer area and affects of the zone are slowly revealed, but never fully explained what it is or where it came from. I really wanted to like this film more based on other reviews. I did enjoy the final scene of the film. And the ending did have me thinking about it long after the movie ended.

Special Features Include:
Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition
• Bonus Content:
o Part 1 – SOUTHERN REACH
-Refractions – See how director Alex Garland created the tone, textures and color palettes for the various film environments on set.
-For Those That Follow – Listen to the cast’s perspective on their roles and learn why they found the story so intriguing.
o Part 2 – AREA X
-Shimmer – See how filmmakers transformed real set locations to create the world of Annihilation.
-Vanished into Havoc – Check out all the action as cast and crew walk you through the mind-blowing stunts and special effects.
o Part 3 – TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
-Unfathomable Mind – Learn why the visual effects are integral to achieving director Alex Garland’s overall vision for Annihilation.
-The Last Phase – Listen to the cast and crew share their fondest memories from filming Annihilation.

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition

4K Blu-Ray Review: Justice League

Justice League 4K Blu-Ray

Synopsis:
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Review:
When the evil Steppenwolf arrives from another world, he threatens to remake Earth into a hellish landscape. And only a team of super heroes can hope to defeat him. Batman and Wonder Woman seek out Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg to help. But the newly formed team is awkward and disjointed. And Steppenwolf is unlike any villain they have fought before.

Justice League has been the culmination of several films to a big team-up movie. DC hasn’t had the best track record lately with films, Wonder Woman being the exception. The pacing is a bit disjointed. The gathering of the team slows the film down, when the pacing should be sped up as Steppenwolf is only growing stronger as he gathers the mysterious boxes (that resemble the tesseract from Avengers). In fact, it’s hard not to compare Justice League to the Marvel films. Thankfully, this wasn’t as dark as Batman v Superman and contained a lot more humor. Ezra Miller as The Flash was great comedy relief, and a great character with the role of an over-excited little brother. In fact, the three newest recruits have the most interesting backstories that demand standalone films. While there wasn’t any character-development in the villain, we were able to get more story from the team leading up to an exciting finale.

The most disappointing element – that just about ruined the film for me, was Henry Cavill’s ridiculous CGI-removed mustache. It was awful and hard to ignore. It would have been better if he was written out of the film altogether. Despite the faults, it was still an entertaining film with bits of promise for future films. It was certainly action-packed and full of suspense. I still look forward to future DC films, hoping they learn from past mistakes.

Own Justice League on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on March 13, or Own It Early on Digital on Now!

Blu-Ray Review: Geostorm

Geostorm

Synopsis:
After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world’s leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe. But now, something has gone wrong—the system built to protect the Earth is attacking it, and it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything…and everyone along with it.

Review:
Gerard Butler stars as scientist Jake, who helped build the satellite (referred to as “Dutch Boy”) that controls the global weather. So when Dutch Boy begins attacking select cities across the world, Jake is tasked with fixing his device.

Geostorm has the feel of a natural disaster film, but there’s nothing natural about the cause or results. The CGI is great. And there are a lot of exciting scenes. But the story felt done before (even though I was surprised that the satellite wasn’t just a rouge AI), and a little drawn-out. The characters were all a bit one-dimensional, as the story focused solely on the weather and the killer satellite. I did enjoy the scenes set in space, as those were the most interesting to me. And there is a fun ending with a couple of mostly predictable twists.

Geostorm Blu-ray Combo Pack special features:
• “Wreaking Havoc: Cutting edge visual effects, research and technology create the world of Geostorm.
• Search for Answers: Inspired by his daughter’s question of why can’t global warming be stopped, Director Dean Devlin retraces the creative journey that led to Geostorm.
• An International Event: A global cast opens up about the secrets behind Geostorm.

Geostorm Standard Definition DVD special features:
• Search for Answers: Inspired by his daughter’s question of why can’t global warming be stopped, Director Dean Devlin retraces the creative journey that led to Geostorm.

Blu-Ray Review: Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

Synopsis:
Three decades after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

Review:
Ryan Gosling is “K” – a Blade Runner who is a Replicant himself. But when he hunts down this latest rogue Replicant, he makes a shocking discovery that the LAPD quickly tries to cover up. But the Wallace Corporation knows the truth as well, and will stop at nothing to uncover the truth.

It has been more than 35 since original Blade Runner premiered. The tone is very similar, though the story is very different. The visuals landscapes are stunning. And though it’s extremely slow-paced compared to other science fiction films, there is still a great amount of intensity and suspense. And there are several exciting action scenes. However, this is more of a psychological drama, rather than the usual action film. While there is a bittersweet ending, there several annoying questions left unanswered. But then again, the original had some too.

BLU-RAY AND DVD INCLUDES:
“Blade Runner 2049” 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, 3D Blu-ray and Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
• Designing The World of Blade Runner 2049
• To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049
• Prologues: 2036: Nexus Dawn
• Prologues: 2048: Nowhere to Run
• Prologues: 2022: Black Out
• Blade Runner 101: Blade Runners
• Blade Runner 101: The Replicant Evolution
• Blade Runner 101: The Rise of Wallace Corp
• Blade Runner 101: Welcome to 2049
• Blade Runner 101: Joi
• Blade Runner 101: Within the Skies

“Blade Runner 2049” Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
• Blade Runner 101: Blade Runners
• Blade Runner 101: The Replicant Evolution
• Blade Runner 101: The Rise of Wallace Corp
• Blade Runner 101: Welcome to 2049
• Blade Runner 101: Joi
• Blade Runner 101: Within the Skies

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.