A Hologram For The King Blu-Ray Review

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The Movie: 6/10
I wanted to, I tried to, and I did enjoy a lot of individual elements, however, can I really say I liked this movie? A Hologram for the King is a tough one to discuss because the more I think about it the more I realize I had a good time watching some of it more than I can say I actually liked it as a movie. I know, that might not make sense, but here’s why. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, nothing jumps out as a performance that is either especially dramatic or quirky, which is kind of where this story tries to take his character. He’s functional and there are moments of greatness, followed quickly by moments of, let’s say, absence. Maybe that’s the whole point of the guy he plays, a middle aging man who has a fading job at a company that does not appreciate him and his personal life has fallen apart.

This is not a new story folks, so that’s the first issue I have with the whole thing. I have seen so many stories of aging men who have had failing marriages, a job that is passing him by as it becomes more modern and he’s stuck in the old days. These tales are often told with high dramatics, or weirdness, some sweetness/romance about their situation, or at least an overt attempt at humor. Hologram doesn’t quite hit any of those switches fully. It has some humor as we watch our leading man go to Saudi Arabia and become the “fish out of water”, which is an old story telling foundation. He reacts often with complete blankness and the occasional nod or disbelief at his surroundings.

There are scenes where the camera work and the vibe go to the quirky side and try to hint at a mental state of chaos, but they don’t really go far enough to be satisfying. We have the sweetness and romance that comes down the pike, but it’s neither very sweet or romantic, so that fizzles out before it gets deep enough to move my chilly heart:) The drama is from the contrasting cultures, but that is not pushed far enough. He has a team of IT professionals waiting to be seen by the King to present this hologram technology and their existence is really so unimportant that the differences between the American way of working vs. the way they are set up in Saudi just don’t matter at all. As I said in the beginning, however, there are individual shots and scenes that I smiled at, laughed at, were beautiful, were fun, interested me….and then they faded away into the monotony of it all.

It’s a movie that is trying to be something, an understated comedy about a man on the verge of a big change in his life. He has a metaphorical lump that’s been holding him back that encompasses his fears and doubts, so we get to see him develop a real lump on his back that he tries to lance, tries to ignore, and finally needs to have removed while he’s in Saudi Arabia. This leads to him being free from his old hang ups about his job and his personal life. I know it was supposed to be clever and intellectual or something, but come on, it’s not.

Overall I think back on a lot of times I enjoyed a line or a set up of a scene, but looking back on the whole movie it was just kind of boring, and I RARELY say that about movies. Maybe I needed to drink more wine and become a middle-aged man struggling with my career and divorce, or maybe I just needed to watch In Good Company with Dennis Quaid and have a good time with a sweet little “middle-aged man grows up” movie:)

Features: 5/10

  • The Making Of A Hologram For The King (12 Minutes) – EPK style featurette with a couple of interviews with Hanks.
  • From Novel To Screen: The Adaptation Of A Hologram For The King (12 Minutes) – Pretty much the other half of the first featurette.
  • Perfecting The Culture (10 Minutes) – Focused on bringing the Saudi culture to a film which was shot in a totally different country.
  • UV Digital Copy

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
I kind of like the cover. It’s interesting and tells a tiny bit of the story, but because I’m not a big fan of the movie I wouldn’t have it as a poster.

Audio & Video: 8/10
Lionsgate bring A Hologram For The King to Blu-ray using a 1080P AVC encode and a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Shot digitally in 4k the film looks like it was shot on good old-fashioned celluloid. The film has not been overly color graded like a lot of today’s fare and black levels are clean and inky. Special note should be made for the level of fine detail on faces, you can see Tom Hanks is sweating on most of the shots because of this. I also saw no noticeable artifacting or compression anomalies.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is subtle but alive. The crazy party scene midway through the film gives your subwoofer a workout but apart from that it’s a talky laid back track. Dialog is centered and never muffled, and surround is used sparingly.

Overall Score 6/10