Action Adventure

'Big Game' Blu-ray Review: Campy action throwback meets coming-of-age tale

August 25, 2015Ben MK

In 2006's Snakes on a Plane, Samuel L. Jackson starred as an FBI agent battling slithering reptiles aboard a commercial jet. But in writer/director Jalmari Helander's first English-language feature, Big Game, he plays the President of the United States of America, who's ejected in an escape pod from his own private jet, Air Force One, mere moments before it gets blown out of the sky.

It's a brazen act of terrorism that leaves the top brass at the Pentagon scrambling to rescue their Commander in Chief, who finds himself stranded somewhere in the mountains outside of Helsinki. But until help arrives, he must rely on the ingenuity of a 13-year-old would-be-hunter named Oskari (Onni Tommila), who just happens to be in the right place at the wrong time. Equipped with little more than a bow, some arrows and his wits, Oskari's goal was to nab some wild prey and prove himself a man. Now he must instead summon all his courage to protect the American President from terrorists hellbent on finishing the job; otherwise neither of them might make it out of the woods alive.

What follows offers little in the way of genuine character development and believable plot devices. But with the entertaining rapport between Jackson and Tommila, a scenery-chewing antagonist (played by Mehmet Kurtulus), and a game supporting cast full of recognizable faces (including Ray Stevenson, Jim Broadbent and Felicity Huffman), it's hard to come away disappointed. Big Game isn't just a semi-campy throwback to the kind of action blockbusters that flooded multiplexes over two decades ago; it's also a coming-of-age tale. And it's that one-two punch that gives the film its charm.

Big Game receives a relatively quick theatrical-to-home-video turnaround, debuting on Blu-ray looking exactly like what you might expect a modestly budgeted action movie to. In other words, picture quality is fairly good throughout — though not overly spectacular — with visuals such as the scenic establishing shots of the Finnish Lapland benefiting from a healthy amount of fine detail, decent colors and stable black levels. It's a similar story for the audio, where the movie's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack performs just as expected, bringing to life elements of the soundstage like the rumbling of Air Force One's engines, explosions and, of course, automatic gunfire.

Elevation Pictures' one-disc Blu-ray release includes exactly one special feature:

  • Big Game Unrated Version (1:30:33) - An unrated version of the film that runs nearly 4 minutes longer than the theatrical cut, restoring some brief language and violence. The downside is that the audio for this cut is available only in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Big Game is available from Elevation Pictures as of August 25th, 2015. The Blu-ray features English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks (on the theatrical cut only). Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French (also on the theatrical cut only). The total runtime is 1 Hr. 27 Mins.

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