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Blu-ray Review: ‘54,’ ‘Reindeer Games’ Are Still Troubled Films

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CHICAGO – Blu-ray allows for an interesting reassessment of perceived failures as titles that haven’t been available on the next-gen format hit HD for the first time and one can see if perhaps history has been kinder to a near-miss than critics were upon its release. When I heard that “54” and the director’s cut of “Reindeer Games” were hitting Blu-ray (one can only assume the latter is tied to the collector’s edition of Ben Affleck’s “The Town” that hit last week), I wondered if their reputations as disasters were unearned and looked forward to reappreciations. They’re both still a mess.

On paper, “54” seemed like SUCH a good idea. Take hot stars — Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell, Ryan Phillippe — and put them in a story about one of the hottest places at the hottest times in club history. Then why is “54” so cold? It’s just not sexy or engaging enough and never feels right. There’s a reason it made less than $17 million in theaters and that writer/director Mark Christopher never had another wide release. It comes with no special features and feels like an obligation for a Blu-ray release more than anything that could honestly appeal to anyone outside of the most hardcore fans of its stars. Mike Myers fans — your collection can now be complete.

“Reindeer Games” is significantly better but still a mess (more of a near-miss than the broad-miss of “54”). What’s so stunning about “Games” is the talent of who was involved and how they still never quite connected even in the director’s cut version. This was a time in Ben Affleck’s career when he just couldn’t figure out what worked about his skills (and that’s coming from someone who’s an increasingly-big fan of the actor and even more interested in his potential as a director). It remains his lowest grossing film that played wider than 2,000 screens and came around the time Affleck was making junk like “Bounce” and “Forces of Nature.” Thank God he broke out of it. The Blu-ray here is more interesting that “54” not just for the film itself but because John Frankenheimer does an interesting commentary track about the tumultuous production and differences in this version.

Reindeer Games was released on Blu-ray on March 6, 2012
Reindeer Games was released on Blu-ray on March 6, 2012
Photo credit: Lionsgate

“54”

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

Synopsis:
The stars shine bright when Mike Myers (Austin Powers), Neve Campbell (Scream), and Salma Hayek (Ugly Betty) give a provocative peek behind the glimmering lights of the hottest nightclub ever! When the mastermind behind New York’s infamous Studio 54 disco plucks young Shane (Ryan Phillippe, The Lincoln Lawyer) from the sea of faces clamoring to get inside his club, Shane not only gets his foot in the door, but lands a coveted job behind the bar - and a front-row ticket to the most legendary party on the planet! Featuring the hottest music of the disco era and an even hotter list of stars, this is 54!

“Reindeer Games”

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Synopsis:
Ben Affleck (The Town) and Charlize Theron (Hancock) team up with Gary Sinise (CSI: New York) in this explosive story of high-stakes crime and deception! Upon release from prison, Rudy (Affleck) poses as his old cellmate Nick in order to meet Nick’s sexy pen pal Ashley (Theron). But things heat up for Rudy when he’s forced into an armed robbery plot being hatched by Ashley’s evil brother (Sinise)! Also featuring Clarence Williams III (Half Baked), Danny Trejo (Machete) and Dennis Farina (Swatch), don’t miss this nonstop thrill ride!

Special Features:
Director’s Cut Of The Film
Audio Commentary By Director John Frankenheimer
Behind The Scenes Featurette
Original Theatrical Cut Alternate Scenes

“54” and “Reindeer Games” were released on Blu-ray on March 6th, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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