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Catherine Hardwicke
Gina Rodriguez, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Matt Lauria
Writing Credits:
Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer

Gloria finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime.

Box Office:
$15 million.
Opening Weekend
$6,864,744 on 2230 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby 5.1
French Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 4/30/2019

• Audio Commentary With Director Catherine Hardwicke, Executive Producer Jamie Marshall and Associate Producer Shayda Frost
• “The Strength of a Woman” Featurette
• “The Bigger the Bang” Featurette
• “Making of Miss Bala” Featurette
• Wardrobe Tests
• Action Rehearsal
• 8 Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Miss Bala (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 28, 2019)

An English-language adaptation of a 2011 film with the same name, 2019’s Miss Bala offers a thriller with a female-oriented twist. Gloria Fuentes (Gina Rodriguez) lived in Tijuana as a kid but mostly grew up in the States.

Now an LA makeup artist who aspires to become a fashion designer, Gloria heads back to Mexico to help her lifelong friend Suzu Ramós (Cristina Rodlo) compete in a beauty pageant. However, this goes awry when Suzu gets abducted.

This experience comes with complications, and eventually Gloria finds herself stuck amid the DEA, the CIA and drug cartel leader Lino Esparza (Ismael Cruz Córdova). Despite her inexperience, Gloria musters the strength to battle against various foes in her attempts to rescue Suzu.

Going into my screening of the 2019 Bala, I had no idea the 2011 version existed. While I see occasional non-English fare, that one never landed on my radar.

If we can trust Rotten Tomatoes, I wish I’d seen the Spanish edition. It earned consistently good reviews, whereas the 2019 Bala wound up with a miserable 22 percent.

I occasionally disagree with the RT summary, and I will state that I think 22 percent makes Bala look like a total stinker, which doesn’t prove to be true. At worst, it offers a mediocre film.

Unfortunately, at best, Bala offers a mediocre film. While not the atrocity one might expect from that 22 percent, it never becomes anything engaging.

Director Catherine Hardwicke launched her film career with the gritty drama Thirteen in 2003, but she quickly embraced Hollywood fantasy such as Twilight and Red Riding Hood.

In theory, Bala offers Hardwicke the chance to work on something more reality-based than those last two flicks, but she continues to embrace fantasy of a sort. Although Bala lacks the obvious unreality of vampires and werewolves, it doesn’t give us the kind of hard-hitting fare it should.

Even when Bala tries to embrace the story’s rough edges, it always feels glossy and superficial. Perhaps to retain its “PG-13” rating, the filmmakers seem afraid to paint the bloody, violent tale that the narrative demands.

This leaves us with a weird, mushy compromise that doesn’t work. No, I don’t think Bala needs endless blood and gore to succeed, but this neutered take on the topic comes across as gutless and safe.

It doesn’t help that the film brings us a fairly meandering narrative. It intends to offer a character journey that shows how Gloria grows and becomes tougher as matters progress, but it lacks real coherence and often tends to feel more like a collection of scenes than a real story.

Rodriquez does her best to add gravity to the proceedings. She looks right for the part, and she conveys Gloria’s evolution despite the thin nature of the script.

Unfortunately, she can’t carry the whole project on her back. As mentioned, I don’t think Bala collapses to the level of actual “bad movie”, but it seems too insubstantial and innocuous to pack the necessary punch.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Miss Bala appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie looked decent but it showed the limitations of SD-DVD.

These concerns largely impacted definition, as the flick tended to seem somewhat soft. Close-ups worked pretty well, but anything wider than that ended up on the fuzzy side of the street.

Jagged edges and moiré effects remained modest, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to materialize beyond some minor and inevitable digital artifacts.

Like most modern thrillers, Bala went with an amber, orange or teal sense much of the time. Within those choices, the hues looked acceptably well-developed, though they lacked much real oomph.

Blacks came across as mostly dense and tight, and low-light shots demonstrated pretty nice clarity. Given the capabilities of SD-DVD, the movie remained watchable but it never seemed better than that.

Expect fairly positive audio from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bala. The forward domain dominated, as the movie featured solid stereo music and a good sense of environment. Elements meshed smoothly and moved across the spectrum well.

In addition, the surrounds added some pizzazz. The back speakers used music well, and effects also created a fine sense of place. The surrounds didn’t have a ton to do throughout the film, but the mix used them in a satisfying manner.

As for the quality of the audio, it seemed good. Speech always came across as natural and concise, with no edginess or other issues.

Music was bright and clean, while effects showed nice reproduction. Those elements came across as lively and dynamic, and low-end response appeared deep and firm. The episodes consistently boasted pleasing audio.

The disc comes with a mix of extras, and these launch with an audio commentary from director Catherine Hardwicke, executive producer Jamie Marshall and associate producer Shayda Frost. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story and characters, cast and performances, photography and editing, stunts and action, sets and locations, music and other topics.

While the commentary covers a good array of domains, it seems less than stellar in terms of execution. Hardwicke heavily dominates the chat, and she tends to simply narrate the movie a lot of the time.

I also feel disappointed that we don’t hear about the original Mexican version of the film and its adaptation. The commentary includes enough good info to make it worth a listen, but it struggles to become relevant at times.

Three featurettes follow, and The Strength of a Woman runs four minutes, three seconds. It provides comments from Hardwicke, producer Kevin Misher, and actors Gina Rodriguez, Matt Lauria and Ismael Cruz Córdova.

“Woman” looks at the lead character and Rodriguez’s performance. This feels like a fluffy collection of plaudits for Rodriguez.

Next comes The Bigger The Bang, a seven-minute, 31-second reel with Hardwicke, Rodriguez, Córdova, Lauria, stunt coordinator Justin Yu, armorer Niel Gonzalez, and special effects supervisor Alejandro Vazquez.

“Bang” examines stunts and action. While it tosses out a few useful notes, it mostly acts to promote the production.

Making of Miss Bala lasts seven minutes, five seconds and includes Misher, Hardwicke, Rodriguez, Córdova, producer Pablo Cruz, production designer Marco Niro, and actors Aislinn Derbez, Ricardo Abarca, and Cristina Rodlo.

This piece looks at story/characters, cast and performances, and locations. I like the shots of a joint Rodriguez/ Córdova audition, but the rest delivers the usual fluff.

After this we find Wardrobe Tests. The reel goes for seven minutes, 30 seconds and shows various looks for the actors.

The footage doesn’t seem great on its own, but Hardwicke adds commentary. Her remarks add value to the footage.

In the same vein, Action Rehearsal spans four minutes, 59 seconds and shows a “rough draft” of stunt scenes. Hardwicke contributes more commentary and turns this into a fun reel.

Eight Deleted Scenes occupy a total of seven minutes, 31 seconds. These tend toward fairly minor character bits, and none of them add anything of substance.

The disc opens with ads for One Day At a Time, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, The Intruder, Escape Room, Girl In the Spider’s Web and Men In Black International. No trailer for Bala appears here.

An exceptionally ordinary action movie, Miss Bala lacks much to stand out from the crowd. Despite a pretty good lead performance from Gina Rodriguez, the film usually feels disjointed and uninspiring. The DVD brings passable visuals as well as positive audio and a mix of bonus materials. Bala wastes its star’s charms on a generic thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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