Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Big Game Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
In the rugged countryside of Finland, a young thirteen-year-old (Onni Tommila) embarks on a traditional quest to prove himself by spending twenty-four hours alone in the wild, armed with only a bow and arrow. After witnessing a spectacular crash, he discovers the escape pod from Air Force One, containing the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson). When they realize a group of kidnappers is hot on their trail with the intention of taking the president, this unlikely duo must escape their hunters as they search for the American Special Forces team sent out to find them. Directed and written by Jalmari Helander (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale), Big Game stars Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hateful Eight), Onni Tommila (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale), Ray Stevenson (Insurgent, Starz’ “Black Sails”), Victor Garber (Argo, Starz’ “Power”), Ted Levine (Shutter Island, American Gangster), with Felicity Huffman (Cake, Transamerica) and Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2).
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
In Northern Finland, Oskari (Onni Tommila) is about to turn thirteen years old.  As his father and ancestors before him, Oskari prepares for a rite of passage.  He will spend one day and one night alone in the wilderness to find out what kind of man he is.  He will bring back a trophy of some kind, whatever the forest offers him.  The young boy has failed to stretch his bow as expected and his father has to convince their elder that Oskari is ready for the challenge.

Overheard, President of the United States William Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) flies in Air Force One with his trusted agent Morris (Ray Stevenson).  Morris will soon retire having taken a bullet for the President.  Air Force One finds itself under attack and The President is loaded into the escape pod.  It becomes clear that there was an inside man as the Vice President (Victor Garber) and others plan a search and rescue operation.

The pod lands and The President ignores protocol and exits. He finds himself lost in the woods and has only young Oskari to lead him to safety.  The President thinks he is home free when he realizes Oskari has a four wheeler but the kid won’t tell him how to turn it on. Oskari drives off with The President in tow. A psychopath named Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus) wants to stuff and mount The President and Oskari shows his bravery. Although his father put a deer head for Oskari to find, Oskari exits the woods a hero.

Big Game is a very predictable film. It’s clear that everyone The President trusts will betray him and a young boy is going to save the day. I happen to love most of what Samuel L. Jackson does and love to see him get angry. If Samuel L. Jackson and Liam Neeson ever team up during a hostage situation I won’t know what to do with myself.  The accents of the locals are a bit hard to understand and The President says Oskari’s name perfectly from the get go.  In real life, when he asked Oskari’s name the true response would be “excuse me, please repeat that.”  Jackson is certainly believable as The President and Victor Garber makes a pretty good angry VP.  

There is unfortunately no wildlife chasing The President and his unlikely guide through the woods.  There are men with guns, but I was hoping for a random bear attack. Rex Reed called the film breathlessly exciting and I’d say that’s a bit of a stretch.  It was entertaining, and worth 87 minutes of my life.  It wasn't plausible but was still fun to watch.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Anchor Bay Entertainment's presentation of Big Game includes a 1080p high definition transfer with a widescreen 2.40:1 ratio.  The film offers more CGI effects than I would have expected as Samuel L. Jackson and his young co-star fly through the air on more than one occasion. The film offers good detail in the dark forest, in the day light and even underwater.  As the duo makes their way through the forest, their dirty, blood stained faces show significant fine detail with skin tones remaining even and accurate.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Big Game's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound supports the film well with the triumphant save the day music you expect when someone saves the life of The President of the United States.  Dialogue is consistent and intelligible throughout the film and the appropriate ambient sounds of the wilderness are present and authentic.
Extras (1/2 out of 5 stars)
The only special feature is an unrated edition, which seems to only have added a few bad words.  The Unrated edition is very tame if you don’t mind a bit of colorful language. The Blu-ray also contains previews for Underdog Kids and Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter.
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
With the exploding plane in the background you might be fooled into thinking that Big Game is going to be the sequel to Snakes on a Plane. No such luck. This film takes itself much more seriously.   Samuel L. Jackson being saved by a young boy on a mission to become a man is a bit unlikely but many of Jackson's films are unlikely. I enjoyed the film but it isn't the action flick I'd hoped for. This probably won't go into my regular action rotation but it was worth watching once. I recommend giving it a try as a rental or as a clearance purchase.

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