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Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Writing Credits:
Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms

A rowdy, unorthodox Santa Claus fights to save his declining business, while he also deals with a threat from a vengeful child.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 1/26/2021

• Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms, Producer Michelle Lang, Director of Photography Derango and Actor Mel Gibson
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
• Storyboard to Film


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Fatman [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 17, 2021)

Over the years, fans often debated whether or not 1988’s Die Hard qualified as a Christmas movie. Semi-lost in that perennial discussion, some get into arguments about whether or not 1987’s Lethal Weapon should also earn such a designation.

With 2020’s Fatman, another Mel Gibson action flick broaches this domain, though I expect it’ll earn less discussion because so many fewer people will ever see it. Also, it integrates the holiday so heavily that I think it firmly lands in the “Christmas movie” category.

Set in North Peak, Alaska, Chris Cringle (Gibson) makes presents for good kids. However, because so many children turn rotten, he experiences a decline in his business.

Spoiled rich young overachiever Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield) receives a lump of coal from Chris due to the hissy fit he throws when he doesn’t win first prize at a science fair. Bitter and angry, Billy hires a hitman (Walton Goggins) to assassinate Chris.

Happy holidays to you, too! Well, no one ever said all Christmas movies need to be jolly and light, so we find a clear niche in which a black action comedy like Fatman can prosper.

And make no mistake: Fatman follows a pretty grim path. Even if we ignore the possible assassination of Santa, we find plenty of dark “R”-rated material here.

I do like the novel approach to Santa. This becomes one of the flick’s more clever elements, as it takes Saint Nick out of the usual fantasy element and plops him in the real world, with interesting results.

Gibson sure seems like an unusual choice for the part, but he does pretty well. He doesn’t attempt any of the standard holly jolly Santa stuff and makes Chris a pretty bitter character.

That feels like an intriguing spin, and Fatman digs into matters in a satisfactory manner. I do like the twists on the standard Santa setup and their exploration.

Beyond the unusual nature of the way it tells the Christmas narrative, though, Fatman can struggle a bit to find its way. Frankly, Fatman tends to feel more like an idea for a film than a fully rendered end produce, partly because its inherent cynicism can interfere.

When Fatman delves into its alternate view of Santa, it seems intriguing and inventive. However, these elements recede as the movie proceeds, and eventually it feels too ugly for its own good.

Not that a dark view of Santa can’t work, but this one just feels like it exploits violence for little more than shock value. Once we get the notion of a hitman after Saint Nick, the movie doesn’t find much to say.

It also doesn’t help that Fatman combines two narrative points in an awkward manner, In addition to the tale about the attempt to kill Santa, we also get a plot related to Chris’s financial struggles and his partnership with the US military.

These dueling stories mean that Fatman tends to feel like two separate movies linked together in a tenuous manner. Frankly, the two tales don’t connect in a meaningful manner, so the film meanders without as much focus as it needs.

If Fatman fully embraced one or the other, that might’ve worked, but instead we just get a scattered narrative. The two sides fail to connect as well as they should.

Though I’m not sure either one of these plots could fill a whole feature, as even with both involved, Fatman struggles to fill its 100 minutes in a satisfying manner. As alluded, the quirky, inventive nature of the movie keeps us engaged through its first act, but the longer the flick runs, the less interesting it becomes.

This leads us on a disappointing little journey. Fatman occasionally exploits its unusual approach to Santa Claus in a way that makes it entertaining, but the end result simply lacks the substance it needs to sustain us the whole way.

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

Fatman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a well-rendered image.

As expected, sharpness worked well, with only minor softness in some wider shots. The majority of the flick boasted accurate delineation.

The movie lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also never materialized.

To the surprise of no one, Fatman opted for a palette that emphasized orange and teal. Given the production decisions, the hues looked appropriate and full.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while low-light shots appeared smooth and concise. Though not dazzling, the Blu-ray replicated the source in a positive manner.

In addition, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack boasted a moderately immersive affair. With periodic action scenes, the soundscape blasted to life on a few occasions.

This meant some room for mayhem, with violent material that engulfed the viewer. The soundfield added impact to the proceedings and used the various channels to positive advantage.

Audio quality also satisfied, with speech that came across as natural and distinctive. Music appeared bright and bold as well.

Like one would expect, effects dominated the proceedings, and they fared nicely, with accurate, tight material that showed deep bass as appropriate. The soundtrack brought out a pretty solid sonic experience.

A few extras appear, and we get an audio commentary from writers/directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms, producer Michelle Lang, director of photography Johnny Derango and actor Mel Gibson. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography and visual design, music, and related elements.

Like many commentaries, this one suffers from too much happy talk, as we get a lot of remarks that simply praise the film and those involved. Nonetheless, the track brings a pretty good array of insights, and Gibson’s presence adds star power. This adds up to an erratic but generally informative chat.

Six Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of nine minutes, 12 seconds. The first three connect, as they depict Billy’s sadistic treatment of the family’s loyal housekeeper. We already see what a jerk Billy is in the final film, so these seem unnecessary.

The rest look at Skinny Man’s prep to attack Chris as well as the initial stages of that assault. They also come across as redundant.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Eshom and Ian Nelms. They tell us a little about the scenes as well as why they cut them. The comments add good info.

We also get two Storyboard to Film Segments: “Breaking the News” (3:01) and “The Showdown” (6:58). Accompanied by commentary from Ian and Eshom Nelms, these show the expected comparisons, with about two-thirds of the screen filled with the final movie and the boards inset in the lower right corner.

We get a good view of the planning art vs. the finished product in these segments. These Nelms boys offer additional insights with their commentary.

At times, the quirky premise of Fatman gives it energy. However, it remains more of a concept than a fully-realized film, so it sputters as it goes. The Blu-ray brings positive picture and audio along with a mix of bonus materials. Fatman occasionally entertains but it lacks coherence and consistency.

Viewer Film Ratings: -- Stars Number of Votes: 0
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