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Tom Tykwer
Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Ben Whishaw, Tom Skerritt
Writing Credits:
Tom Tykwer

A failed American businessman looks to recoup his losses by traveling to Saudi Arabia and selling his idea to a wealthy monarch.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 8/9/2016

• “The Making of A Hologram for the King” Featurette
• “From Novel to Screen” Featurette
• “Perfecting the Culture” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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A Hologram For the King [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 10, 2016)

For his first effort in a busy 2016, Tom Hanks stars in A Hologram For the King. Adapted from Dave Eggers’ 2012 novel, salesman Alan Clay (Hanks) finds himself down on his luck, as his career sputters and causes much of his life to implode.

As a last-ditch effort, Clay goes to Saudi Arabia, where he plans to pitch a holographic teleconferencing system to the king’s government. We follow Clay’s adventures and the impact these have on his life.

As I alluded earlier, Hanks finds himself with a lot of work for 2016, and of his three films, King seems likely to be the most “Tom Hanks” role of the bunch. Sully casts him as noted airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger, and Inferno brings him back to the Dr. Robert Langdon role he first played in 2006’s Da Vinci Code.

Both of those films require Hanks to stretch his range some, whereas King lands him firmly in his wheelhouse. Clay offers the kind of genial, good-natured, semi-funny guy Hanks could play in his sleep. That doesn’t come as a criticism – indeed, I find it somewhat refreshing to see Hanks embrace his “roots” to a certain degree.

In addition, Clay isn’t as simple as my comments imply. Clay presents a positive face but finds himself torn up internally, and Hanks handles both sides of the role well. Of course, we enjoy his “Tom Hanksy” persona best, but he manages to bring solid depth to the part.

Which is a good thing, as Hanks becomes the main reason to watch King. Not much about the movie stands out as especially memorable, mainly because it follows a fairly traditional “fish out of water who embraces a foreign culture” concept.

Though King teases us with unconventional methods right out of the gate. Our introduction to Clay comes from a music video in which he sings/acts out Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”. This offers an efficient and exciting method to launch the narrative.

After that, King throws the occasionally quirky bone our way, but it usually seems pretty restrained. It hits on the expected points in a reasonably efficient way but it lacks a whole lot of life or depth.

The absence of much ambition doesn’t make King a bad movie, but it limits the film’s effectiveness. Tom Hanks does enough to entertain us that this becomes a mostly enjoyable experience, though. While it could be better, its star does enough right to keep us with it.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

A Hologram For the King appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a positive presentation.

Sharpness seemed mostly solid. Some interiors looked a little soft, but the film usually showed good clarity. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

King gave us a stylized palette. Unsurprisingly, teal and orange dominated. Within those parameters, the hues were positive. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed reasonable smoothness and clarity. No real issues affected this appealing presentation.

Don’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it remained restrained. That made sense for the story, though, so the sonic choices didn’t surprise.

The soundscape used music well and contributed reasonable environmental material, mainly during street/desert scenes as well as one party segment. I’d be hard-pressed to point out anything memorable, as ambience dominated, but the mix seemed fine for the material on display.

Audio quality was satisfactory. Music sounded warm and full, and effects demonstrated good clarity and accuracy. Speech appeared concise and distinctive. The soundtrack did what it needed to do.

Three featurettes fill out the set. The Making of A Hologram for the King runs 19 minutes, 56 seconds and offers notes from screenwriter/director Tom Tykwer, novelist Dave Eggers, production designer Uli Hanisch, Arabic advisor/dialect coach Jassim Alsaady, and actors Tom Hanks, Tom Skerritt, Sarita Choudhury and Alexander Black. “Making” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and technical elements. “Making” offers an efficient overview of various areas.

From Novel to Screen goes for 11 minutes, 53 seconds and features Tykwer and Eggers. As expected, they touch on the source and its adaptation. Some of this repeats from the prior featurette, but “Screen” manages to expand the subject matter fairly well.

Finally, Perfecting the Culture lasts 10 minutes, 14 seconds and includes comments from Tykwer, Hanisch, Choudhury, Black and Alsaady. “Culture” looks at the film’s sets/locations and adaptation of the Middle Eastern settings. It offers another solid little exploration.

The disc opens with ads for Genius, Miss You Already, Café Society, Mr. Holmes and Love and Mercy. No trailer for King appears here.

Tom Hanks provides the anchor that makes A Hologram For the King entertaining. While the story itself never quite ignites, Hanks keeps the viewer involved. The Blu-ray provides very good picture as well as adequate audio and a few decent bonus materials. King turns into a moderately enjoyable experience.

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