Category Archives: BD/DVD Reviews

IR BD Review: THE SNOWMAN [Universal Studios Home Entertainment]

The aspect of “The Snowman” is wrapped in the different precipice of a Scandinavian thriller. If it were presented simply as that and not as a major Hollywood thriller, it might have fared better. The texture of the story despite being a graphic novel is simply a little too off kilter in terms of storytelling structure than it needs to be. Thomas Alfredson’s films are effective but, in all frankness, slightly more akin to an art house crowd. Mark Romanek roams in a similar hemisphere, not to say they cannot take on larger fare but their storytelling is more akin to eccentric character fare. Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole, an intrepid detective with more than a little bit to hide. He seems effervescent and yet removed. A new detective aware of his previous cases played by Rebecca Ferguson shadows him. Whereas Ferguson enjoyed some chemistry with Tom Cruise in the “Mission Impossible” outing, here the interaction seems very droll and that might have to do with the direction. Ultimately for American audiences, no one was aware of the character to begin with so the fanfare behind it was what perplexed US audiences. The movie isn’t awful. It’s sensibility is a bit off. Tinker Taylor, which Alfredson had done previous, had a similar progression in pace. An aside is also the inclusion of Val Kilmer, post op, which is both interesting and disheartening in its presentation also because the use of heavy ADR with a different voice seems to be what has happened. The extras seems to address the idea of Harry Hole being such a hallowed character in Scandinavia along with profiling the author Jo Nesbo. The aspects of the different locations in Norway do highlight a beautiful aspect of the films (there are some beautiful flying over bridges sequences) but there is not a sense of true geography. There is also an anatomy of a scene which takes place on a frozen lake, both capture on site and in studio. “The Snowman” is not bad yet not great and wholly unexceptional.

D

By Tim Wassberg

IR BD Review: PERSONAL SHOPPER [Criterion Collection]

The continuation of Kristen Stewart approaching material that is both poignant and self reflexive continues with “Personal Shopper” directed by Olivier Assayas who also directed her in her Cesar award winning performance in “Clouds Of Sils Maria”. This tome has a slightly more supernatural tone but always off screen (for the most part) and below the surface but works with Stewart’s almost retreating delivery. She almost doesn’t want to let the audience in but then in certain moments of vulnerability and poignancy lets herself go. The irony of “Personal Shopper” which Assayas wrote for Stewart is the fact that many designers want to dress her and here she plays a girl who shops for a famous celebrity and longs to wear the clothes but never takes the chance. The film does use the texting element of a unknown stalker who might be her twin, a would be murderer or possible romantic interest quite liberally. While at times a slightly lazy plot device, it intersects with the idea of being invisible in plain sight which thereby works for the progression. The final resolve, like all good films (European or otherwise), is that it leaves the viewer with a question to the nature of the lead character and her state of being (or unbeing) as it were. The interview included with Assayas speaks to the reflexive nature of what the film proposes while the Cannes press conference shows Stewart as well as fellow cast members. Again in responding to the press, Stewart both tries to stay forthcoming while protecting a little bit of the mystery for her. For that reason, the interceding paradox of the art works to admirable effect in “Personal Shopper”.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR BD Review: STARSHIP TROOPERS – TRAITOR OF MARS [Sony Pictures Home Entertainment]

The impact of “Starship Troopers” over the years is as much a force of sheer will as in the ideas it presents. Like a novel like “Dune”, the essence of political upheaval is always cyclical. Having done interviews for the original film as well as the first of the CG offshoots, it is interesting to see the essence of creativity but also of choice in the ongoing adventures which have been helped by the increasing possibility of CG animation even on lower budgets. “Starship Trooper: Traitor Of Mars” is one of the best follow ups so far simply because of the scope and the texture of the bug attacks using an essence of Mars as a back drop. While there are throwbacks and even harks to aspects of “Total Recall” in terms of the final solution, the progression of the story and of its underdog pinnings works well in congruence with the original story. The other aspect which was undeniably drawing for me personally as a review was Dina Meyer’s character Diz from the original who didn’t survive beyond that outing. That was one of the most grounded and connective aspects in all around effective film was her and Johnny Rico’s romance. Her voice is brought back into the fold here and used to good available though storywise it is reaching quite a bit. An explanation which is slightly inferred is not brought to fruition so even leaving it open ended does nothing for the story except bridge it. This is one of the story’s strengths but obviously its shortcomings. Technically a lot of what is done (although in many ways an original Machinima type piece) is entertaining and also timely (especially with the way the Sky Marshall and sense of loss is handled. The extras which focus more on a series of interviews with Casper Van Dien (who plays Johnny Rico) as well as Ed Nuemeier (who wrote the movie screenplay as well as this outing give perspective as does interviews with the creative team in Japan. Not eye opening but definitely solidly done.

B

By Tim Wassberg

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