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Matt checks out the upcoming releases of Warner Home Entertainment's 42 and Bullet to the Head, both available to own on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital Download on July 16th.



Warner Home Video Wrap-Up 42: The Jackie Robinson Story
Starring: Chatwick Boseman, Harrison Ford and Nicole Beharie
Director: Brian Helgeland
Runtime: 128 mins.
Rated: PG-13


Feature
History was made in 1947, when Jackie Robinson (Chatwick Boseman) broke the professional baseball race barrier to become the first African American Major League Baseball player of the modern era. 42 tells the life story of Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford).

I haven't been much of a baseball fan since the mid-90s, but I've always been fascinated by the game's history and tradition. The story of Jackie Robinson is one of the game's greatest stories, one that transcends the sport and steps outside the chalked lines in a way that few so often do. Fittingly, Brian Helgeland's film is a fine, old fashioned tribute to Robinson and his family. It isn't the flashiest sports film ever made and there isn't much hyperbole on display, but it's down to earth tone helps keep the focus on Robinson's story and his day-to-day struggle to make it in Major League Baseball when the majority wished him to fail. It certainly helps that it also features great performances from Harrison Ford, who hasn't been better in years with his in portrayal of Brooklyn Dodgers General manager Branch Rickey, and relative newcomer Chatwick Boseman, who carries the picture for much of its running time with an earnest and sincere performance that should make him a star on the rise. Add in some very good cinematography, seamless digital effects that bring the period to life and some fine supporting performances from Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni and Lucas Black, and you've got yourself a definite winner.
Feature Rating: 9/10

 42: The Jackie Robinson Story
Video
Warner Home Entertainment's 1080p, AVC encoded video transfer of the digitally shot 42 looks gorgeous on Blu-ray and is definitely one of this year's stand outs thus far. The image certainly leans towards the warm side and is obviously a deliberate choice on the part of the filmmakers to give it a near sepia tone, but colors are rendered quite nicely and the level of detail in the picture is of the best quality. Black levels and contrast are always consistent and pleasing and I couldn't detect any defaults in the source or transfer that would hamper the experience of watching the film. Overall this is an outstanding video presentation on Blu-ray, and quite possibly the best example of digital photography I have seen in a very long time.
Video Rating: 10/10

Audio
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track presented on the disc is equally up to the task in bringing the story to life with outstanding sound and clarity. The surround channels are used to full effect here, and every crack or the bat and cheer or jeer of the crowd puts you on the field, but the soundtrack also doesn't sacrifice the quieter moments of dialogue and subtle action. I couldn't detect anything that might take away from the enjoyment of the feature here, and when taking everything else into account can say that this is a great audio presentation on Blu-ray
Audio Rating: 9/10

Extras
Warner Home Entertainment has included a few, high definition features on the disc to go along with the film, including a look at Ford and Boseman's portrayals of Rickey and Robinson respectively ("Stepping Into History", 9 min.), and another feature that looks at baseball of the 1940s and how this time period was recreated for the film ("Full-Contact Baseball", 10 min.). "The Legacy of Number 42" (9 min.) is the best feature on the disc is saved for last, featuring former players and others discussing Robinson's struggles in baseball and the historical importance of him breaking the color barrier. The two-disc set also features a standard definition DVD copy and a code for an UltraViolet copy of the film. Given the historical context of the film, a commentary track from writer and director Brian Helgeland would have been a very welcome feature, and a more in-depth look at Robinson's life and this specific era of the sport would have gone a long way. As is these features are too brief and don't offer much information on either the making of the picture or its subject matter, and that's a disappointment. Those looking for more on the subject would do well to check out Ken Burn's Baseball, specifically the episodes that cover this time period, "5th Inning-Shadow Ball" and "6th Inning-The National Pastime".
Extras Rating: 5/10

 42: The Jackie Robinson Story
Overall
42 is so far one of this year's best films, pure and simple. Even non-baseball fans will find it rewarding and moving and take away something special from Jackie Robinson's story, and the fine ensemble cast anchored by Chatwick Boseman and Harrison Ford carry it a long way. Warner Home Entertainment's video and audio presentation of the film on Blu-ray is top notch and also one of the year's best, but the extras could have used a little something more. Overall the combination of exceptional movie and very good technical presentation and features make this disc well worth owning.
Overall Rating: 8/10

The images on this page were taken from the Blu-ray disc and full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of  each transfer.

 42: The Jackie Robinson Story
 42: The Jackie Robinson Story
 42: The Jackie Robinson Story




Warner Home Video Wrap-Up Bullet to the Head
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang and Jason Momoa
Director: Walter Hill
Runtime: 92 mins.
Rated: R


Feature
Based upon Alexis Nolent's French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete, Bullet to the Head tells the story of aging New Orleans hit man Jimmy Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) who vows to take down those responsible for the murder of partner after a hit goes sideways. He teams up with a young D.C. cop (Sung Kang) and the unlikely partners are drawn into a tense, dangerous cat-and-mouse game with a ruthless businessman (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and his team of mercenaries, led by the lethal Keegan (Jason Momoa).

Earlier this year we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger's full blown return to feature films with The Last Stand, a movie that I really enjoyed for its high energy, fast pace and humor. It was a movie that knew when to have fun and poke fun at itself, but it also knew when to throw a punch to the throat with some great action sequences. With Bullet to the Head we have Sylvester Stallone going pretty much solo for the first time in a while too, but the results here aren't nearly as entertaining as Arnold's picture, so much so in fact that it's something of a chore to sit through at times. You can pretty much forget character arcs or development here, who these characters are at the beginning and what their relationships are to each other are who they'll be and what they'll be at the end of the picture, and a lot of times in action films there isn't anything wrong with that. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing for this picture either, but if you're looking for something a little bit more out of Bullet to the Head than anything other than what the title suggests, it's just one example of what you'll be missing. Without many likeable characters, an interesting story, standout performances or humor to break up the deadpan seriousness of the film there isn't much more here than a series of action scenes with lots of old school squib hits (many to the head), and if that and a couple of explosions are all you're looking for you'll come away thinking it's an okay movie, but we both know you've seen better. I've never read the graphic novel the film is based upon, but I've got to believe that there was something special about it that drew the attention of the filmmakers and that something special just got lost in the process of bringing it to the screen. Otherwise, well, I really don't see the point.
Feature Rating: 5/10

 Bullet to the Head
Video
Warner Home Entertainment's AVC encoded, 1080p video transfer of Bullet to the Head is very good, but it has the look of a film shot digitally, especially during night scenes or those in which darkness prevails where the video's black levels and contrast tend to differ from shot to shot, and I was slightly surprised to learn that in fact it was shot on 35mm film. Other than these instances I was quite pleased with the video transfer and its fine level of detail and color representation. I also didn't notice much in the way of aliasing, banding or artifacting that might take away from the experience, and also didn't see any evidence of damage or defects coming from the source print used, which is not uncommon with a newly released theatrical presentation.
Video Rating: 8/10

Audio
Warner Home Entertainment's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 delivers on all fronts from the cracking whiz of gunfire to the hard landings of punches and ax hits, but even though the surrounds and LFE are given every opportunity to strut their stuff the track is also well balanced enough to make sure that dialogue is always crystal clear coming from the center channel. Overall this is a very good action mix that's been presented here on Blu-ray.
Audio Rating: 8/10

Extras
Bullet to the Head has one extra feature on Blu-ray, the 9 minute high definition featurette "Mayhem Inc.", which is more or less a brief EPK piece on the making of the film with stars Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa and director Walter Hill taking center stage. The two-disc set also includes a standard definition copy of the film on DVD and a code for an UltraViolet digital copy.
Extras Rating: 2/10

 Bullet to the Head
Overall
Bullet to the Head is definitely a throwback to action films past, but it could have used something a little more than a few well placed squibs. On the other hand, if that's all you're looking for than by all means go for it. You should enjoy it. Warner Home Entertainment's Blu-ray release of the film features very good video and audio, but is very much lacking in extras. Overall this disc is worth a rental for Sylvester Stallone and hardcore action fans alike, but don't go out of your way to see it.
Overall Rating: 6/10

The images on this page were taken from the Blu-ray disc and full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of  each transfer.

 Bullet to the Head
 Bullet to the Head
 Bullet to the Head


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