A Hologram for the King (Blu-ray)

September 1, 2016 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Tom Hanks plays salesman, Alan Clay. He’s in something of a rough spot, so he travels to Saudi Arabia to pitch an idea. The idea is a way to hold conferences via holograms. We see a bit of this in the film, and it is indeed quite cool. I imagine this idea isn’t too far from a reality at this point, either. This is Clay’s story front and center and we follow his journey throughout the film. Right from the opening of the film we can see that it’s taking a more jovial tone than we might expect. I didn’t mind this decision, but I wish that tone was carried throughout more of the film. There are some amusing early bits with Clay’s cab driver and his song choices, among other things, but those moments are few. There are very few surprises in the film as well.

I was asked to review this film in a time that I recently revisited two other Tom Hanks films (The Burbs and Money Pit). I bring this up because the guy just has a likability that not many actors possess. There’s a reason he was at one time considered the nicest guy in Hollywood. It comes through in his performances, and does so here as well. I will say that while I did enjoy his performance that the film didn’t do much for me. There are amusing moments to be sure, but so much of it feels meandering. I really fail to see the point behind the film. Now, to be fair not every film necessarily has to have a “point” to be successful, but this isn’t that type of film. Sometimes you can get away with certain things, but when we’re following this character’s journey, I expect there to be a bit more substance than what we’re given. In just a few weeks from now, we’ll be seeing Hanks again in Sully, Directed by Clint Eastwood. I really look forward to it, but I feel that film will have more of an impact on me. Not only is it fact-based, but I like the story behind it. Now, things may change when I actually see the film, but I feel the results will be more worthwhile than this.

Video: How’s it look?

Once again we get a solid transfer that still requires me to talk about how good it looks. Set (mostly) in Saudi Arabia, we often get sun drenched scenes that show little flaws. The AVC encoded (2.40:1) image is always consistent in presenting the film. Details remained strong throughout. Fans will be pleased.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track satisfies even if the film isn’t the most active. Vocals were always clear and crisp sounding. The music that’s played during some scenes is when the track kicks through the most. Don’t expect an overly engaging track, but I feel it serves the film as it should.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • From Novel to Screen: The Adaptation of A Hologram for the King – This kind of segues from the “Making of…” feature below, but with a bit more emphasis on the novel and its adaptation to the screen.
  • Perfecting the Culture – A look at the Saudi culture and how it’s explored in the film.
  • The Making of A Hologram for the King – A fairly by the book EPK that focuses on the cast, the adaption of the novel (explored more in-depth by the above feature) as well as some interviews with the cast and crew.

The Bottom Line

The performance by Hanks is about the strongest endorsement I can give to the film. It’s not that it’s terrible, it’s just that it feels unnecessary too often. The tone is kept light, but there’s not much ambition to the story. Skip it.

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