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Dustin Putman

Big Game  (2015)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: August 25, 2015) – When President of the United States William Alan Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) narrowly evades an assassination attempt while aboard Air Force One, he and his escape pod safely land in the remote Finnish wilderness. With crooked Secret Service agent Morris (Ray Stevenson) and a gang of old-fashioned psychopaths (led by Mehmet Kurtulus) hot on his trail, Moore must rely on Oskari (Onni Tommila), a bow-and-arrow-sporting 13-year-old boy on a rite-of-passage mission, to guide him back to civilization.

Written and directed by Jalmari Helander (2010's "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale"), "Big Game" is preposterous and lively in equal measure, a sort of "Cliffhanger" for kids that older viewers should also easily be able to enjoy. The premise is wholly predictable and not exactly novel, but the film plays like a comfort-food diversion with solid action, magnificent aerial scenery (with Bavaria standing in for Finland), and likable lead actors. Samuel L. Jackson (2015's "Barely Lethal") effectively portrays POTUS with a low-key, fallible humanity, while Onni Tommila is a natural as Oskari, finding it within himself to prove wrong his father's doubts about his bravery and save the day. Ray Stevenson (2015's "Insurgent") also makes the most of main villain Morris, giving his stock role a sliver of a conscience behind his despicable actions. "Big Game" won't be reinventing the wheel or anything else any time soon, but there is a certain amiableness to its slick, no-nonsense, unapologetic adherence to formula.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Big Game" was lensed by cinematographer Mika Orasmaa with a rustic, outdoorsy beauty, and its every majestic vista comes through in its 1080p digital transfer with crystal-clear clarity and depth. Colors are bold yet realistic, while detail is excellent straight down to facial features, faraway mountain peaks, and stitches of fabric. The image is far from flat, finding arresting dimensionality in just about every shot. Technical anomalies are all but nonexistent; I detected no signs of moiré, shimmer, banding or edge enhancement. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Master Audio is largely satisfying as well, delivered with the oomph and immersion one expects from a modern big-screen action pic. The home-theater soundfield comes alive in scenes such as the President's high-flying escape from Air Force One. Dialogue and fidelity are top-notch as well. If there is a disappointment to be had, it is with the disc's unrated version, oddly coming with an inferior 2.0 track rather than the 5.1 presentation of the theatrical cut. Since the running-time difference is negligible between the two, one has to wonder why there had to be an audio downgrade for this particular version.

Blu-ray Features
  • An unrated version of the film, running 91 minutes (4 minutes longer than the 87-minute PG-13 theatrical cut)
Bottom Line
"Big Game" not only survives its crash-landing to Blu-ray, but impresses mightily in terms of its high-definition picture and 5.1 audio showcases. The dearth of bonus content is a debit, but otherwise Anchor Bay Entertainment's release should please fans and win over new ones who missed it during its too-small theatrical run. Recommended.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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