Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
DADDY’S HOME 2
Holiday-related films are usually strategically released to coincide with the appropriate season. Yet whether or not the same can be said for a film’s release in the home market usually depends on the studio. And wouldn’t you know it, Paramount is releasing its Christmas-themed sequel, DADDY’S HOME 2, on 4K UHD Blu-ray just in time for the tail-end of February.
Movie Grade: C-
Just because a sequel is technically an improvement over a previous entry does not necessarily mean it’s good. While certainly more enjoyable than 2015’s DADDY’S HOME, this holiday follow-up makes little effort to tread new ground.
After the events of the first film, Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) seem to have settled into a pretty healthy system in fathering their kids. It seems that all is right in the world. That is, until it comes time to decide where to spend Christmas. To the film’s credit, making holiday arrangements is easily the most frustrating time for even the most functional of blended families.
In an attempt to take things a step further, the film throws both Brad and Dusty’s fathers into the mix. These characters are essentially more extreme versions of their sons. John Lithgow plays Brad’s obnoxiously sweet and genuine father, Don, while Mel Gibson plays Dusty’s condescending, judgmental and filterless father, Kurt. Of course, these characters are clearly meant to be exaggerated reflections of the actors’ real-world personas, so the meta humor to be found here is in fairness and worth a chuckle or two.
An additional improvement is that Brad’s wife Sara (Linda Cardellini) is actually given something to do this time around. In an interesting twist on the dynamic between Dusty and Brad in the previous film, Sara is actually enthralled with Dusty’s new wife Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio), a gorgeous and mysterious novelist and “cool mom” to her rebellious preteen daughter. This is a welcome improvement over being little more than background noise.
Video/ Audio Grade: A-
While the movie itself is merely OK, the visual clarity in this 4K release is quite impressive. Similar to the first film, DADDY’S HOME 2 is given the 4K upscale treatment rather than being natively captured in the format. However, the added resolution brings much more to the table this time around. Environmental details such as tree bark and snow covered forests are exquisite and finer textures such as hair and even strands of yarn on sweaters are unmistakably vivid.
The use of HDR and Dolby Vision is also a welcome improvement as colors never feel over-saturated and the range of brightness found in exterior snow filled sequences, as well as the darker scenes both in and outside the cabin. The Dolby Atmos track does feel a little unnecessary at times, as this isn’t really an audio heavy experience, but the film does benefit from its inclusion during scenes such as the hunting sequence.
Extras Grade: C
As with the first film, there are no features included on the 4K disc, but are all found on the included Blu-ray disc. The extras are hardly much to get excited about as they amount to a little under 45 minutes of content.
- Making a Sequel (1080p, 4:50): A quick look at developing the story, adding more dads to the series, the film’s gags, Sean Anders’ work as director, and more.
- Look Who’s Back (1080p, 7:16): Reuniting the primary cast from the first film for the second with a brief focus on each character.
- Co-Dads: Will & Mark (1080p, 6:36): Putting the film’s two main characters in the spotlight.
- The New Dads in Town: Mel & John (1080p, 7:37): Highlighting the two new dads in the movie.
- Captain Sully (1080p, 2:17): A short look at a big cameo and his role in turning Brad’s character on his head.
- Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (1080p, 11:17 total runtime): Cabela’s – Extended, El Padre Stink Eye – Alternate, Kurt’s Firewood – Deleted, Really Brad Advice – Extended, The Wise Man – Deleted, and Yammering Don – Extended.
- Gag Reel (1080p, 3:40).
Final Grade: B
This is a prime example of a sequel improving on its predecessor’s strengths in both cases for the film itself as well as its visual quality. There are still far too many eye-roll inducing moments, but the effort put into its 4K upscale is truly admirable.