Blu-ray Review “The Vampire Diaries: The Eighth and Final Season”

Actors: Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Kat Graham, Candice King, Zach Roerig
Producers: Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, Leslie Morgenstein, Caroline Dries
Number of discs: 3
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Run Time: 704 minutes

Season: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

When Nina Dobrev left “The Vampire Diaries” after season six, I had a feeling this show would die off quick. Well kudos to them for lasting eight seasons. This final season is luckily the last and not the greatest either. I felt like these characters lost me personally after the fifth season when Dobrev was even still in the show. They try and end all open stories well but honestly wasn’t a grand finale. Unfortunately, the worse spin-off, “The Originals” is still going and has been renewed again. Guess New Orleans is cooler.

Official Premise: In Season Eight, we find Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Enzo (Michael Malarkey) continuing on their killing spree, both following the commands of a sinister and unnatural force. While Bonnie (Kat Graham), Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Caroline (Candice King) are grieving their loss, they team up to investigate who or what may be the cause of their disappearance at the end of season seven. Alaric (Matt Davis) joins the search and continues to look for clues on how they escaped the Armory vault, and Matt’s (Zach Roerig) family history will reveal a deeper connection to Mystic Falls and how he may be able to save the town from destruction.

Warner Brothers delivers this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + UltraViolet digital copy incliuded. “The Vampire Diaries: The Eighth and Final Season” Blu-ray features solid audio and video as it has with the previous seasons as well. The 1080p transfer with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works great with the season and the television series.

The special features are a letdown for sure, especially for the final Blu-ray release. (Unless they are planning a big box set with all eight in the future, I am sure they are). There are three featurettes and some deleted scenes. Included are “Last Days As A Vampire”, “The Vampire Diaries: Forever Yours” which is a retrospective special as well as the 2016 Comic-Con Panel. No commentary tracks for the final season.

Blu-ray Review “Fist Fight”

Actors: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks
Directors: Richie Keen
Rated: R
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Run Time: 91 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

The combination of Ice Cube and Charlie Day should be an instant winner for “Fist Fight”…but something is missing here. There are some funny moments in the film for sure and both guys bring their A-game but the film itself just feels lazy like they just assumed having them together would be enough. Like I said a few solid laughs but overall, I can’t really see myself bragging about this film and recommending it to everyone I speak with. Feels more like a one-timer.

Official Premise: Ice Cube and Charlie Day star as high school teachers prepared to solve their differences the hard way. On the last day of the year, mild-mannered high school English teacher Andy Campbell (Day) is trying his best to keep it together amidst senior pranks, a dysfunctional administration and budget cuts that put jobs on the line. But things go from bad to worse when he accidentally crosses his much tougher and deeply feared colleague, Ron Strickland (Ice Cube), who challenges Campbell to an old-fashioned throwdown after school. News of the fight spreads like wildfire and ends up becoming the very thing this school, and Campbell, needed.

Warner Brothers is delivering this film in a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy included. So, you are getting a nice return for your money. We all know that teachers are under paid, so if you want to avoid fighting and save some money places like CouponGrind are a good solution to find some savings. The A/V is typical for a comedy, I don’t see this film getting high merits for either but they also have no issues either for sure. Solid video and a nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track are included here. Special features are big let down though delivering about 15 minutes of deleted scenes and a short featurette about filming in Georgia.

Blu-ray Review “A United Kingdom”

Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton, Jack Davenport, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto
Director: Amma Asante
Rated: PG-13
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Run Time: 111 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“A United Kingdom” is a romance drama based on a true story…but is not my cup of tea. Don’t get it wrong it is not generally a bad movie, I just didn’t personally enjoy it. The performances from David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) were amazing. The locations where it was shot are gorgeous and it definitely packed some solid romance. So if that is your bag, then check it out. I would for the performances alone but I don’t ever see myself watching or even remembering this out in a few months.

Official Premise: David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) star in this inspiring true story of the forbidden love between the king of Botswana and a white English woman in the 1940s. When they decided to marry just as apartheid was being introduced into South Africa, it caused an international uproar. But their passionate romance triumphed over every obstacle and changed the course of African history.

“A United Kingdom” comes to us as a combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy for your enjoyment. Fox delivered this film with a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track. It worked perfectly with Patrick Doyle’s beautiful score. And like I said above the lush locations where this film was shot, the 1080p transfer works that well and delivers a great picture.

Special features are a let down for sure. There are four short featurettes included. There is a basic EPK-style “Making Of”, a feature on “Filming in Botswana”, while “The Legacy of Seretse and Ruth” gives us a look into the real life couple. Lastly there is the London Film Festival Opening Night Gala Premiere and a Theatrical Trailer included.

Blu-ray Review “A Cure for Wellness”

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Celia Imrie, Ivo Nandi, Susanne Wuest
Director: Gore Verbinski
Rated: R
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Run Time: 146 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

From the director of films like “The Ring” and the first “Pirates of the Caribbean”, comes “A Cure for Wellness” a movie with a cool idea but WAY too long and poorly executed. This film had a really cool feeling about it. I loved the music and it generally creeped me out but unfortunately, it fails to deliver by the time it reaches its already ballooned 146 minutes running time.

Official Premise: An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. He soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. When he begins to unravel its terrifying secrets, his sanity is tested, as he finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all the guests here longing for the cure.

Fox is releasing this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + digital copy included. The 1080p transfer is solid. I love the way the film looks, the atmosphere is so creepy and looks so beautiful. Fox also delivers a beautiful audio track giving us a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 winner. This delivers the eerie score beautiful and that drives the film and sends shivers down your spine.

The special features like the film also miss the market. There are basically two featurettes, one called “Meditations” which features: Water is the Cure / Air is the Cure / Earth is the Cure included. There is also a focus on the score, which was probably the best part of the film. Lastly there is a deleted sequence included. So you are left wanting more like the film.

Blu-ray Review “The Assignment”

Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Tony Shalhoub, Caitlin Gerard, and Anthony LaPaglia
Directors: Walter Hill
Rated: R
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extas: 1/2 out of 5 stars

“The Assignment” is a film that you would think would have gotten a BIG theatrical push yet it went completely unnoticed, probably due to the fact that it isn’t very good. I can see where they probably wanted this film to go but it just falls flat due to the script and money probably. The cast is A+ plus including Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Tony Shalhoub, Caitlin Gerard, and Anthony LaPaglia. I mean there is some serious talent here but wasted on this rather forgettable film.

Official Premise: Legendary director Walter Hill gives the revenge film a modern neo-noir twist with this electrifying thriller. Hit man Frank Kitchen (Rodriguez) is given a lethal assignment, but after being double-crossed, he discovers he’s not the man he thought he was — he’s been surgically altered and now has the body of a woman. Seeking vengeance, Frank heads for a showdown with the person who transformed him, Dr. Rachel Kay (Weaver), a brilliant surgeon with a chilling agenda of her own.

Lionsgate delivered this release as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + digital copy included. The 1080p transfer is solid but you can tell that the film has budget constraints but mostly did the best they could. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works as well with the few action scenes. No major complaints there. The special features though, or complete lack of, is a different story. There is only a stills gallery with some images. Not worth your time at all.

Blu-ray Review “Aftermath (2017)”

Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hannah Ware, Kevin Zegers, Scoot McNairy, Mariana Klaveno
Directors: Elliott Lester
Rated: R
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Run Time: 94 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

I know everyone has been shitty on Schwarzenegger’s films recently but he is really stepping out of his comfort zone with his last two films “Maggie” and now “Aftermath”. They are little indie films that surprisingly deliver solid performances from the Terminator. His glory days may well be gone with starring in huge blockbusters but solid films like this should get him more credit than they have. I say Kudos to him and I hope he does more films like this. Also my boy, Scoot McNairy, deserves a big chance finally. He nails this role (and every other he does as well). He is an amazing actor and deserves a big shot.

Official Premise: Roman’s (Schwarzenegger) life changes forever when he loses his wife and daughter in a plane crash. He attempts to move on from the tragedy but soon finds that he cannot face life without confronting Jake (Scoot McNairy), the air traffic controller responsible for the accident.

Lionsgate delivered “Aftermath” in a combo pack with a Blu-ray disc and a digital copy as well. The 1080p transfer works for the scope of the film, nothing flashy or big here but I like the way it was shot. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does a good job of building up the suspense throughout. The special features are light and nothing major here. There is an audio commentary with Director Elliott Lester and Producer Eric Watson as well as interviews with Director Elliott Lester and Director of Photography Pieter Vermeer included further discussing the film.

Blu-ray Review “The Shack”

Actors: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Avraham Aviv Alush, Radha Mitchell
Directors: Stuart Hazeldine
Rated: PG-13
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Run Time: 132 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Shack” is the latest faith filled drama to be released, hoping to catch that niche market. I am not one to have huge religious beliefs but this film definitely caught my attention. A little “Hallmark movie” cheesy at times yet it still delivers a good solid message about faith and could help some people who are looking for answers within their beliefs.  Rounded out with a solid cast including Sam Worthington (where did this guy disappear to?), Octavia Spencer (always lovely and such an amazing actress) and who doesn’t need a little country loving from Tim McGraw, the musician adds a nice addition to the cast as well. Worth a watch if you are open minded.

Official Premise: Based on The New York Times best-selling novel, written for the screen by John Fusco (The Forbidden Kingdom) and Andrew Lanham (The Glass Castle) & Destin Cretton (The Glass Castle), and directed by Stuart Hazeldine (Exam), The Shack takes us on a father’s transformative spiritual journey. After a family tragedy, Mack (Worthington) spirals into a crisis of faith and questions God’s existence and life’s purpose. Mack is unable to move on, until he gets a mysterious invitation to an abandoned shack. There, God reveals Himself in the form of three strangers led by Papa (Spencer). Mack’s journey will transform audiences of all ages, in this movie that you will want to watch over and over.

Lionsgate delivered this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD and a Digital HD copy included. Appreciate the combo back here because since reviewing it, it is making its rounds with the family taking turns for those that have been wanting to see it. It is nice to have the various formats to share with everyone. The 1080p transfer was solid. The scenery is beautiful and the colors are vibrant. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track is also solid, quiet yet very effective with simple sounds standing out.

The special features are decent, nothing amazing but a few good featurettes. To start, there is a solid audio commentary track with Director Stuart Hazeldine and then we have five featurettes included. The first is “Touched by God: A Writer’s Journey” which focuses on author William Paul Young. There is a song featurette for “Heaven Knows” – The Power of Song with Hillsong United, as well as a basic EPK behind-the-scenes in “Something Bigger Than Ourselves: The Making of The Shack”. “God’s Heart for Humanity”piece about faith and interpretations of it. Lastly “Premiere Night: A Blessed Evening” features radio personality Delilah and rounding out with one deleted scene included.

Blu-ray Review “Logan”

Actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Sienna Novikov, Boyd Holbrook, Doris Morgado
Directors: James Mangold
Number of discs: 3
Rated: R
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: May 23, 2017

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Personally, I have never really gotten excited for the films in the “X-Men” universe. “Logan” is the first film in the franchise that has getting my attention. It is dark, gritty, violent and intense. It is honestly how a Wolverine film should be. It is also set in an alternate X-Men universe, so it almost makes you think that mutants aren’t real in this world and is it very interesting. Easily one of my favorite films of the year and no question the best “X-Men” movie…with Wolverine (sorry “Deadpool” wins that)

Official Premise: In the near future, a weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) at a remote outpost on the Mexican border. His plan to hide from the outside world gets upended when he meets a young mutant (Dafne Keen) who is very much like him. Logan must now protect the girl and battle the dark forces that want to capture her.

Fox is delivering this Blu-ray as a three disc set with two Blu-ray discs, a DVD and a digital HD copy. There are two versions of the film: the theatrical cut and also the new black and white cut called “Logan Noir”. The film does work very well in the black and white setting gives the film more life and another way to enjoy it.

The 1080p transfer is flawless. It was shot beautifully and doesn’t feel like any of the other films in the “X-Men” franchise. Same goes for the black and white cut which gives this film a true noir feeling. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is also perfect. The action is literally wall shaking and the score is amazing.

The special features are good but not amazing, the higher score comes due to the fact that there is the alternate cut of the film, “Logan Noir” on its own with accompanied with an audio commentary track with director James Mangold. On the main disc, there is the same commentary track, which is excellent BTW and a few short deleted scenes. The main winner is a solid 75+ minute behind-the-scenes look into the film “Making Logan”, worth checking out for sure!

Blu-ray Review “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”

Starring: Vin Diesel, Nina Dobrev, Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Toni Collette
Director: D.J. Caruso
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Paramount
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Run Time: 96 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Vin Diesel is a man that does not give up. The film “Pitch Black” was a good film that was turned into a mediocre franchise. “The Fast and Furious” was a film that was great and turned into a global phenomenon that normally wouldn’t have had more than one film. Same goes with “xXx”. The book should have been closed after the second film, yet here we are with another installment riding on the popularity of Vin Diesel. The film is honestly crap, no joke, there are some cool action scenes but literally this doesn’t have the power of Diesel’s “Fast and Furious” franchise, which was probably the hopes here. Worth watching for a laugh but otherwise nothing smart of that this third sequel at all and I have a feeling unfortunately we haven’t seen the end of Xander Cage.

Official Premise: The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.

Paramount is releasing this film as a combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy included. The 1080p transfer is near flawless. This film is definitely beautiful to look at and shows off its beautiful shooting locations quite well. The audio on this Blu-ray is also near perfect with both a Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 tracks included. These tracks are amazing with the action in the film and really shake the walls, no questions.

The special features are decent and worth checking out if you loved the film but otherwise not much here other than four featurettes and a gag reel. The first featurette focuses on bringing back the franchise to live in “Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns”. Since this film is basically made for an international market, “Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast” looks at the new cast brought in to sweeten the deal. “Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location” showcases the snazzy locations where this film was shot. Lastly, the highlight of the film is it stunts and the last featurette focuses on those in “I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts”.

Blu-ray Review “Get Out”

Actors: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root
Directors: Jordan Peele
Rated: R
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Run Time: 108 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Get Out” is a once in a decade hit. It cost nothing, came from a first time director, had no well-known cast and yet destroyed the box office and all other films in its path. Hollywood is going to spend the next decade trying to replicate this one. I personally have loved Jordan Peele in his sketch comedy show “Key & Peele” but this film is SO MUCH different. It is a social satire mixed with a horror film. Totally original and different. “Get Out” is an excellent film that will leave you holding her breath in terror and at the same time laughing out loud. This is no question one of the best films of 2017.

Official Premise: Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario), a young African-American man, and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams, “Girls”), a young white woman, have been dating for several months, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate at her family’s upstate home with parents Missy (Catherine Keener, Captain Phillips) and Dean (Bradley Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods). At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

I knew of the film’s lead, Daniel Kaluuya, from his role in the BBC series “Black Mirror”, which he stood at boldly. He was amazing in this film and I see really big things coming to him in the near future. Also VIPs in this film were veterans Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich) and Bradley Whitford (“Billy Madison”). When you are watching this film you will find it hard to take your eyes off the screen. I cannot wait to see what Jordan Peele has planned next (I hear it is another social satire and couldn’t be more psyched). This is a movie not to be missed for sure.

Universal delivered the film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy included. The 1080p transfer works perfectly for the film. It is super sharp and the film which has a specific look to it ends up looking sharper than it should. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is simply haunting. From the score to the stirring of the damn spoon, this track lures you into deeper into the sucken place with our actors.

The special features are a little lighter than hoped but still some decent content included here. First we have an Alternate Ending with optional Jordan Peele commentary. Solid but I am still happier with the theatrical ending. There is a crazy total of nearly 25 minutes of Deleted Scenes included also with optional Peele commentary. “Unveiling the Horror of Get Out” is a quick behind-the-scenes look into the film. Lastly there is a short Q&A Discussion with Writer/Director Jordan Peele and the Cast, as well as an audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jordan Peele, which is a must listen for sure.

Blu-ray Review “Wonder Woman: Commemorative Edition”

Actors: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, Marg Helgenberger
Directors: Lauren Montgomery
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: May 16, 2017

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Wonder Woman: Commemorative Edition” is a cash-in re-release of the 2009 animated film from Warner Brothers to ride in on the release of the new live-action “Wonder Woman” movie. This was the fourth film in the DC Animated Universe that is now up to twenty-eight films and counting. The new “Commemorative Edition” isn’t the WOW release that I was hoping for. It packs the same video as the 2009 Blu-ray and a slightly upgraded audio track. There are few new extras but also some missing from previous release. Also I would have loved them to include an exclusive action figure or something to make this extra special.

Official Premise: On the mystical island of Themyscira, a proud and fierce warrior race of Amazons have raised a princess of untold beauty, grace and strength – Diana. When U.S. fighter pilot Steve Trevor crash-lands on the island, the rebellious and headstrong Diana defies Amazonian law by accompanying Trevor back to civilization. Meanwhile, Ares (the God of War) has escaped his imprisonment at the hands of the Amazonians and has decided to exact his revenge by starting a World War that will last for centuries and wipe out every living being on the planet, starting with the Amazons. It is up to Diana to save her people and the world – by using her gifts and becoming the ultimate Wonder Woman!

“Wonder Woman: Commemorative Edition” comes as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet copy included. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is a step up from the previous Blu-ray release. There is really only one new short special feature included here: “What Makes a Wonder Woman” which dives into the overview of the character. The only new extra is a “Sneak Peek at Batman and Harley Quinn”, which is an upcoming DCU Animated feature.

Other special features taken from previous release are “Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream”, which runs nearly 30 minutes as does “Wonder Woman: Daughter of Myth”, which go deeper into the mythology of the character. Lastly there is a a commentary track from the creative team on this film. Sadly though we lost the two bonus Justice League Episodes (“Paradise Lost” parts 1 and 2, “Hawk and Dove”, and “To Another Shore”) from the last release. So its a toss up for me. If you have never seen this film and looking to get the digital copy, this might be for you if you own it already, no need to repurchase.

Blu-ray Review “The Blackcoat’s Daughter”

Actors: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, Lauren Holly, James Remar
Directors: Osgood Perkins
Rated: R
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Run Time: 95 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“The Blackcoat’s Daughter” is a film that premiered back at TIFF back in 2015 and has sat on the shelf since then without getting a proper release. This film is a great mix of creepy slow-burn almost Hammer like atmosphere with a solid horror angle mixed it. It has a solid cast including Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, James Remar, Lauren Holly, and Lucy Boynton. Great talent here. Worth checking out on a lazy weekend for sure for a few good jumps.

Official Premise: Beautiful and haunted Joan (Emma Roberts) makes a bloody and determined pilgrimage across a frozen landscape toward a prestigious all-girls prep school, where Rose (Lucy Boynton) and Kat (Kiernan Shipka) find themselves stranded after their parents mysteriously fail to retrieve them for winter break. As Joan gets closer, Rose watches in horror while Kat suffers terrifying visions and becomes possessed by an unseen force.

“The Blackcoat’s Daughter” comes as combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy included. The 1080p transfer works with the dark and creepy feel for the film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers the eerie score perfectly and adds to the Gothic feeling of the film. The special features include an audio commentary track with Writer-Director Osgood Perkins as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette “The Dead of Winter: Making The Blackcoat’s Daughter”.

Blu-ray Review “Rock Dog”

Actors: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson
Directors: Ash Brannon
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Rock Dog” is the latest in the cheap animated films that get zero promotion and then slapped with an American cast. This one does actually pack some talent with Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, and Kenan Thompson but unfortunately the film is just completely forgettable and not worth your time. Young kids might like the music but parents will tear their hair out.

Official Premise: When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, setting into motion a series of completely unexpected events.

“Rock Dog” comes as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD and Digital HD copy included. The Blu-ray specs are solid. The 1080p transfer is solid for the CG animation and the colors are vibrant though doesn’t make it feel any less cheap. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is a great track for the music in the film and works well.

The special features includes are not as bad as I would have expected. There are four featurettes included. The first “Finding the Fire: The Making of Rock Dog” takes us through the production. “Mic Check: Casting the Voices” looks at the cast. “A Rockin’ New World: Animating Rock Dog” shows how our characters were made. The last “Rock Dog and Roll: Exploring the Music” focus on the tunes in the film. Lastly there is a music video included for the track “Glorious”.

Blu-ray Review “Fifty Shades Darker”

Actors: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes
Directors: James Foley
Rated: NR
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Run Time: 131 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I do not understand the thrill of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. The first film is a melodramatic turd and the second film is honestly worse. The “steamy scenes” in the film are not sexy at all and nearly laughable. Watching this film was petty painful to be honest. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are fine in the film and do what they can with this mess but I wouldn’t waste my time on this…just watch a damn porn, LOL. The production though is decent and you can tell that they were trying harder this time but it’s a hard pass for me…and to think there is still another sequel coming.

Official Premise: Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Darker, the second chapter based on the worldwide bestselling Fifty Shades phenomenon. When a wounded Christian tries to entice a cautious Anastasia back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple. Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) and Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger) join the cast, determined to destroy the couple’s hopes for a future together. This time there are no rules.

This Blu-ray includes an unrated cut of the film. Personally the film is long enough running 117 minutes but this new cut expands it out to 131 minutes. If you enjoyed the film you might be interested in more, but I’m not. Despite whether or not the film is worth watching, the A/V presentation is extremely solid. The 1080p transfer looks amazing and really crisp colors. The real shocker here is definitely the DTS:X Master Audio soundtrack. Normally, I would say a film like this wouldn’t need a track like this but it really does sound great. From the film’s music to the subtle sound effects throughout. It is really solid.

“Fifty Shades Darker” comes with some solid special features including contains six featurettes, a two short deleted scenes, and a preview for the next film, “Fifty Shades Freed”…very short. “Writing Darker” features the author E.L. James talking about the book and the film. “A Darker Direction” features cast and crew talking about this sequel. “Dark Reunion” looks deeper into the characters. “New Threats” looks at the films new characters. “The Masquerade” looks at the films party sequence. Lastly “Intimate with Darker” looks at the sex scenes both filming and physical meaning.

Blu-ray Review “The Red Turtle”

Directors: Michael Dudok De Wit
Rated: PG
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Run Time: 81 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, “The Red Turtle” marks a change for the company. This is not an original film from them but instead a French film acquisition. It is also a wordless film yet also a beautiful film. Put it this way, I watched this film with my 5 year old and she was interested the whole time, even without words. The story was beautiful and the animation was gorgeous. Not your typical Ghibli film but definitely a different one and quite enjoyable.

Official Premise: Marking the much-anticipated return of Studio Ghibli, this masterfully animated fantasy film tells the story of a man shipwrecked at sea who becomes stranded on a beautiful but desolate island. He learns to live in isolation, seemingly tormented in his efforts to escape the island by a giant red turtle. Miraculously, he soon comes upon a young woman also lost at sea and they create a family together.

The 1080p transfer looks solid. The animation is well represented here and the colors are vibrant. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works perfectly with the films score and sound effects, which gracefully drive the film along. The special features are a little light. There are two featurettes going behind-the-scenes including “The Birth of The Red Turtle” and “The Secrets of The Red Turtle” as well as a AFI Fest Q&A with Director Michael Dudok de Wit. This is a solid interview with a lot of great details though.