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October 8, 2015
Big Game Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
25/3/2015 (Finland)16/9/2015MadmanJalmari Helander
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MSamuel L. Jackson

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Big Game is a decent action film.

Jalmari Helander isn't a writer/director many people would have heard of however his first films Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is truly a wonderful, twisted, work of genius that is among my favourite Christmas movies. Following the success of that film the director's next outing was one we were keen to check out and Big Game is that film. With a bigger budget, a list of Hollywood stars and interesting storyline it was a film we were keen to check out. So what's Big Game about then?

Oskari (Onni Tommila), a timid 13-year-old, must spend one day and one night alone in the wilderness. Armed with only a bow and arrow, he must return with a prize to prove himself a man. Terrified and alone, he wanders through a vast and unforgiving forest when suddenly he hears a deafening rumble. Racing to investigate, Oskari discovers an escape pod. Not just any escape pod – this pod belongs to Air Force One and the battered and bruised man lying before him is the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson)!

In the skies above, terrorists are hurtling their way to the crash site hell-bent on kidnapping the President. Now the fate of the most powerful man in the world lies in the hands of a 13-year-old boy. Plunged into a deadly game of cat and mouse with only hours to spare, Oskari and the President must team up to survive the most extraordinary night of their lives.

One thing is certain, this film has a pretty impressive cast. First up is the young actor Onni Tommila (who is the director's nephew by the way), who is intriguing and has a pretty good chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson who plays the President, and seems to be having quite a bit of fun in this film. The cast is rounded out with well know actors including Felicity Huffman, Victor Garber, Jim Broadbent and Ted Levine. The film moves along at a pretty brisk pace and the action sequences are also pretty entertaining too.

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Samuel L. Jackson actually has some fun.
It is, however, somewhat sad that films are still edited for ratings - at one point Samuel L. Jackson says "You've got to cock it mother fu..." at which point the sentence cuts away. Why not let us hear him swear, or just say something different! Hollywood needs to man up and bring back the good old days of action films from the 80s and 90s when you could swear. Still, that does leave this film, with it's M rating here in Australia, open to a larger, more family oriented audience.

Unfortunately the film does suffer from some pretty horrible CG and green screen work. This is especially true at one point when a fridge is being dragged through a forest by a helicopter and then ends with one of the most ridiculous scenes involving a fridge ever seen in film - and yes, it probably even surpasses that in Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

If you're after some light entertainment to fill an evening Big Game will likely fill that void with some over the top action set pieces, and running a fairly lean runtime at 90 minutes - or 81 if you ignore then end credits - this is a good way to fill in an evening.

Big Game is presented on Blu-Ray in the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and it's fair to say that it's a pretty fantastic transfer on Blu-Ray with realistic colours and fine detail evident even in the darker scenes. If anything, the sharpness of the transfer may actually be somewhat detrimental to the presentation as the CG work is certainly below par, and it shows up in the HD format quite markedly. Still, this is a pretty impressive transfer overall when it comes to visuals.

Audio on this disc is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) and it's a pretty impressive soundtrack with a mixture of English and Finnish dialogue. When Air Force One crashes your surround sound channels will come to life, and the room will shake as the plane comes crashing down. There is also an explosion near the end of the film that, well, we're pretty sure would have woken the neighbors 4 doors down from us! As well as plenty of noise and bass the film also has decent use of surround sound channels while the dialogue remains clear throughout too.

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The young Onni Tommila plays well off Samuel L. Jackson in Big Game.
There are no other audio tracks or subtitle tracks available on the Blu-Ray release of Big Game however the Finnish dialogue does have English subtitles as required.

There are only a couple of extras on this disc, the Interviews with cast and crew being the main item of interest. Before we get to that though we have to say the Scenes menu on the Blu-Ray is pretty poor with a small picture - many of which look similar and no title so you really have no idea which part of the movie you are jumping to. Also, the American release has an Unrated version, but adds only 4 minutes of little substance, and disappointingly drops the audio to 2-channel only so we won't miss it. Anyway here's what to expect extras wise...

Interviews (24:40/HD): Here we have a fairly extensive set of interviews for the film which, while each person is fairly brief, adds up to quite a collection and extensive look into the making of the film. Interviewed are Director Jalmari Helander (5:30), Producers Petri Jokiranta (4:12), Jens Meurer (1:39), and Andy Mayson (1:07) and actors Onni Tommila (1:36), Samuel L. Jackson (1:53), Ray Stevenson (2:05), Mehmet Kurtulus (1:21), Jim Broadbent (2:40), Felicity Huffman (1:38) and Victor Garber (0:59). My real gripe about this is there is no Play All option.

Behind The Scenes (3:57/HD): A very short clip showing filming on the set during various scenes. Short, and nothing we haven't seen before.

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Trying to locate the American President.
The Homesman at Cannes (2:01/HD): The Theatrical Trailer for the film is actually pretty decent and got us interested to see the film months ago. Just be mindful that it shows quite a few key moments from the film so don't watch it before seeing the film.

Madman Propaganda (10:12/HD): After the copyright promo, here you will find trailers for The Young an Prodigious T.S Spivet, The Salvation, The Double, and Upside Down.

If you're looking for a fairly entertaining, film then Big Game might fill your needs. While there is plenty of action it's not gratuitous gore, and Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having fun which is nice to see. The transfer to Blu-Ray is pretty impressive and a definite improvement over DVD quality (as many should be aware these days).

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Madman. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.