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Alan Ritchson
Jack Kesy, Conor Leslie, Alan Ritchson
Writing Credits:
Joshua Montcalm, Alan Ritchson

Hacker Connor, his best friend Avi and a cunning librarian find themselves over their heads when forced to compete in a sophisticated dark web secret society's global recruitment game.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 3/16/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer/Actor Alan Ritchson, Producer DJ Viola and Production Designer Burns Burns
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer Gallery


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Dark Web: Cicada 3301 [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 7, 2021)

Though it’s only April, I think 2021’s Dark Web: Cicada 3301 enjoys the early pole position as “the year’s worst movie title”. Still, a clunky moniker doesn’t doom a film to failure, so I figured I’d give it a look anyway.

Connor (Jack Kesy) operates as a talented hacker. Via his online activities, he discovers “Cicada 3301”, a treasure hunt that might open the door to recruitment for a secret society.

Along with his art expert friend Avi (Ron Funches) and a librarian named Gwen (Conor Leslie), Connor leaps into the world of this contest. He finds outside pressures, though, as some aggressive NSA agents want him to solve the puzzle for them.

Cicada offers the directorial debut of actor Alan Ritchson, and I must admit it gives off the odor of a vanity project. Not only did Ritchson direct the flick, but also he co-wrote the screenplay and acted in it.

That seems like a lot for a guy to bite off in his initial push as a feature filmmaker. Ritchson has appeared mainly in supporting parts via TV shows like Titans and movies such as Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so Cicada becomes a big leap for the 36-year-old.

Does Ritchson manage to make a successful move to the director’s chair? Occasionally, as Cicada manages to offer some decent entertainment.

For a while, at least, as I can’t claim the movie keeps us with us on a consistent basis. After a big, brash opening, Cicada becomes less interesting as it goes.

This doesn’t make the rest of the flick bad, but I get the sense Ritchson can’t figure out where to go with the story. Cicada offers a myriad of influences, and eventually, these turn into less than the sum of their parts.

Hoo boy, does Cicada churn out lots of reflections from other films! The whole thing sports a very 1990s feel, and we find a serious Bruckheimer vibe much of the time.

In addition, specific connections abound. Among other flicks, you’ll see clear links to movies like Matrix, Da Vinci Code and Eyes Wide Shut.

As noted, Cicada seems brash and lively for a while, but it goes through a mix of tonal shifts – more than it can comfortably accommodate. Perhaps Ritchson feared he wouldn’t get another shot behind the camera so he wanted to pack in everything he could imagine here, but it leads to a clumsy, unnatural narrative.

Again, this goes fine for the first act, but the longer Cicada runs, the less coherent and effective it becomes. The changes in tone become more jarring and distracting.

Cicada offers some interesting elements and I admire its ambition. However, it doesn’t hang together, and it wears out its welcome long before it ends.

Footnote: a mid-credits tag scene appears.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Dark Web: Cicada 3301 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film boasted fine visuals.

Sharpness worked well. While the occasional wide shot betrayed a sliver of softness, the majority of material appeared accurate and concise. No issues with moiré effects or jaggies occurred, and I saw neither edge haloes nor source flaws.

Like most modern action flicks, we got a mainly teal and amber palette here, and one that went to extremes. That didn’t seem like a surprise given how over the top so much of the movie went. Within the stylistic constraints, the Blu-ray reproduced the colors in a favorable manner.

Blacks came across as deep and dense, while shadows – important in such a dark series – appeared smooth and well-developed. The movie offered pleasing picture quality.

Just as good, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio also satisfied. Music showed nice stereo presence, while effects added immersive material. The action sequences boasted fine use of the side and rear speakers, all of which brought us into the wild story well.

Audio quality seemed strong. Music was full and rich, while dialogue seemed natural and distinctive.

Effects offered clear elements, with warm, tight lows. I liked the soundtrack for Cicada.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and we get an audio commentary from director/writer/actor Alan Ritchson, producer DJ Viola and production designer Burns Burns. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets, location and production design, stunts, effects, music, editing, and related domains.

This becomes a pretty lively and generally informative chat. At times, the discussion seems a little too loose and bustling, but we still find a fairly solid view of the film.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 47 seconds. We find “Van Scene Extended” (5:34), “Sophia’s Death” (2:33) and “Library Scene” (2:40).

“Van” offers amusement in the final film, but this version runs too long and kills any laughs. “Death” seems too dramatic and feels like it comes from a different movie, while “Library” offers a cute but superfluous piece.

The disc opens with ads for Guest House, The Swing of Things and The Right One. We also get the trailer for Cicada.

For a while, Dark Web: Cicada 3301 musters enough manic energy to entertain. Unfortunately, it becomes too confused and too muddled to sustain these early successes. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with a decent set of bonus materials. Cicada occasionally works, but it sputters before long.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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