BLU-RAY REVIEW — “The Circle”
Based on the international best-seller by Dave Eggers, The Circle arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD) and DVD August 1 from Lionsgate; with Digital HD on July 18 and On Demand on August 1 from EuropaCorp. Capturing the phenomenon of today’s social media and the consequences of being permanently checked in, the gripping modern thriller is directed and co-written for the screen by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and Dave Eggers (A Hologram for the King), and features an all-star cast, including Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast), Oscar® winner Tom Hanks (Best Actor, Forrest Gump, 1994), John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), Emmy® winner Patton Oswalt (Writing for Variety Special, “Talking for Clapping,” 2016), Glenne Headly (“The Night Of”), and Golden Globe® nominee Bill Paxton (Best Actor, Television – Drama, “Big Love,” 2010) in his final role.
When Mae (Watson) is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company, she sees it as an opportunity of a lifetime. As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey (Hanks), to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics, and ultimately, her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family, and all of humanity.
Lionsgate Films’ The Circle features a 1080p, 16×9 Widescreen 2.40:1 presentation, with near perfect video and audio, highlighting the film’s sharp, naturalistic cinematography. The dialogue is crisp and finely tuned, even if other areas of the audio lack a certain punch (maybe I’m spoiled by too many David Fincher thrillers on Blu-ray that feature a bombastic soundtrack). The home entertainment release of The Circle features all-new bonus content, including “No More Secrets: Completing The Circle — A Four Part Series” featurette, “The Future Won’t Wait: Design and Technology” featurette, and “A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton” featurette, an interview with Tom Hanks and James Ponsdolt reminiscing about their work with Bill Paxton. The special features are largely uninteresting and fail to engage, save for the featurette made in honor of the late Bill Paxton. It’s a classy touch, and an appreciated one. The thirty minute “making of” featurette has enough information to be a passable special feature for those who enjoyed the film and want to take a peek into the production of the techno-thriller, but if The Circle isn’t your cup of tea, there won’t be enough within the half hour featurette to hold your attention. Still, Lionsgate should be commended for including an actual, lengthy “making of,” which is all too rare in 2017.
While Lionsgate Films’ Blu-ray transfer is nearly impeccable, there’s not as much praise to lay on James Ponsoldt’s (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour) The Circle. Outside of the inclusion of Tom Hanks and John Boyega, both actors I’d sit through even the worst of atrocities to watch, The Circle is a plodding misfire — a mangled mess that’s part young adult novel adaptation, part Hallmark Channel movie. In place of The Circle‘s nearly two hour running time, I’d have much rather sat and watched Hanks and Boyega sit and shoot the shit in a casual interview; in that instance, I wouldn’t have felt as though my time were wasted. That’s not to shit on The Circle too much, because it’s not the worst movie ever, or even of the year — how could it be, when Snatched graced theaters not too long ago, and when The Emoji Movie is currently playing to empty screens nationwide? — but it’s boring and uninteresting, and it takes itself too seriously to the point of feeling like a timeshare presentation. Even Tom Hanks and John Boyega, the treasures that they are, can’t save The Circle.
The Circle hits store shelves on Blu-ray and DVD August 1st.