xXx: Return of Xander Cage - 4K Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 5 Old 05-07-17, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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xXx: Return of Xander Cage - 4K Blu-ray Review


Title: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Movie:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:


HTS Overall Score:89





Summary
I still remember being in college when the first “xXx” movie came out. It was a guilty pleasure and a film I reviewed HERE about a month ago. Sadly, the movie just hasn’t aged that well as Vin and his crew were dead set on making the film a James Bond meets extreme bad boy sports. Something that was almost giggle worthy as they took the ludicrous concept WAAAAAAAAAY too seriously. Then Sony decided to make a sequel without vin (killing him off in a quick cut scene) and casting Ice Cube to play the next “xXx” soldier. This sequel went over like a lead balloon (I like it as a horribly guilty pleasure, just like I like “Ghosts of Mars” in the same light), and the franchise was pretty much dead. However, Vin Diesel has been very determined to resurrect his old hits and has been real vocal in getting a third film under production for years now. With the success of “Riddick” and the latest “Fast and Furious” films, Diesel was finally given the green light and they were able to Retcon Xander Cage’s death and bring him back for this over the top extravaganza.

We all know that Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) was supposedly dead due to the 2nd movie making him look out of the picture. Well, I guess he’s not, as the movie opens up in the Dominican Republic with Xander Cage living his retirement out. After a high-tech team of special rogue agents known as “ghosts” steal a satellite control unit with the power to override any satellite in orbit (another super tech weapon ala “god’s eye” in the latest “Fast and Furious” films) and Agent Gibbs (Samuel L. Jackson) is killed by it, the NSA’s replacement (Toni Collete as Agent Jane Marke) decides to reactivate the xXx program and bring Xander Cage out of retirement. Agreeing to take on the job (as always), Xander assembles a team of bad boy (and girl) specialists comprising of sniper Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), a D.J. named Nicks (Kris Wu), and a mental stunt driver named Tennyson Torch (Rory McCann in a hilariously funny role).

Shocker of all shocker, when Xander and his band of misfits track down these ghosts they realize that things aren’t exactly as they seemed. The whole unit are ex xXx agents that have gone rogue because they believe that this super weapon shouldn’t belong in government hands. That means that THEY weren’t the cause of the satellite dropping out of the sky and killing Gibbs. Meaning that there is someone in the NSA who’s a mole and double crossing their own team. Teaming up, the ghosts and Xander’s team have to find out who is the double agent, and take care of him once and for all.

Now you’re asking yourself, “Mike, how are you giving this 5 stars? The trailer makes it look like a cheese fest”? Well, you’re most definitely right. “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is a hilariously bad film. Like the two that came before it is a giant mess, but it is a glorious glorious mess. It almost looks like Vin Diesel and the powers that be realized that no one was taking their movies seriously, so why should they take the movie seriously either? There are NUMEROUS winks and nods to the audience as tongue is firmly implanted in cheek with over the top characters like Tony Jaa with a blond mohawk making Bruce Lee impersonations, lines like “This isn’t a party, it’s a race”, A motorcycle chase that has them turning into Jet skis (one of the most hilariously over the top sequences of the movie) and Vin just chewing up the scenery with a grin on his face. Yes, this is the cinematic equivalent to junk food. Empty calories, but tastes oh so good in the moment when pizza sauce dripping down your chin.

Everyone seems to be having a blast on screen, with cameos by Samuel L. Jackon (and one big one that I won’t surprise), and the whole “Fast and the Furious” method of creating an ever expanding “team” of super agents just makes it all the more fun. Donnie Yen does what Donnie Yen does best, and Diesel does his best to basically be Dom Toretto with a skate board instead of a car. While none of the roles can be truly considered GREAT acting, Ruby Rose and the English debut of Deepika Padukone (who is stunningly gorgeous by the way) are well received, and the amount of fisticuffs and explosions rival “Fate of the Furious” in spades (although there is no jumping a car over a submarine in this one). Is it bad? Yes. Is it stupid? Most definitely. Is it FUN though? I have to say I had a big sloppy grin on my face the whole movie and have to say, if you’ve had fun with the sheer lunacy of the latest “Fast and the Furious” films, then I see no reason why “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” won’t scratch the same itch.





Rating:

Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of gunplay and violent action, and for sexual material and language




Video
The 4K UHD disc was taken from a 2K digital intermediary (which was sourced from a 3.4K source) and upscaled to 4K, but despite that limitation it manages to look REALLY nice in 2160p. The Blu-ray was a picture-perfect stunner from beginning to end, and the upgrade to 4K shows a nice bump in resolution as well as the added benefit of being a colorful film that really takes most of its upgrade in the form of the HDR. The bright blues of the ocean when Donnie and Vin go motorskiing (I still giggle when I think of that scene), or the deep earthy tones of the Philippines all benefit from the added color spectrum changes, and there are some really nice textural details that really stand out in 4K. The sweat and grime present on their bodies during the last action scene pop out of the screen more, but some of the CGI in the movie does tend to look a little more fake than the 1080p version (a downside to 4K detail. Any abnormality stands out a little bit more). Blacks are still inky deep and silky smooth, and the fine detail is exquisite. It’s not AS sharp a some of the top tier encodes from movies that have a 4K master, but definitely top notice for a 2K to 4K conversion.







Audio
Once again, Paramount is one of the good guys. Instead of relegating the Dolby Atmos track to the 4K UHD alone like some studios, they have given all three variations (2D, 3D and 4K) this stunning audio track that is brash, bold and ferociously aggressive to listen too. The first few seconds of the track let you know what you’re in for, and the aggressiveness of the audio mix has been cranked up to level 11 and doesn’t turn it down until the credits stop rolling. Voices are still well placed in the center channel, but the dynamic range is incredibly wide, allowing for soft whispers with Vin’s gravelly voice, to explosions that will have your pant legs a flapping, and surround activity that had my jaw on the floor. Listen to the motorcycle chase, or the roar of the giant air base flying overhead. The Atmos capabilities are in full force during these action sequences allowing the listener to be right in the middle of the action and fully encompassed in the sound stage. There’s also some very nice nuances in the back channels instead of just being a sonic bombardment. A fly buzzing around flickers from one surround to the next, and the sound of bullet casings hitting the floor make individual tinks and clanks as they bounce off differing objects in the background. LFE is simply punishing and brutal, adding power and authority to the music while flattening the listener into their seats during the action. Just perfect.








Extras

• Third Time's the Charm: Xander Returns
• Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast
• Opening Pandora's Box: On Location
• I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts
• Gag Reel






Overall:

“xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is pure and utter junk food, but it’s tasty junk food that is just meta enough to have the audience in on the joke, while being over the top and excitement filled to be a fun action movie. I’m not sure whether to laugh AT the movie or with it, but either way, I had a blast stuffing popcorn into my face and giggling along with all of the “Fast and Furious” level of antics going on. You can tell that Vin has a big passion for these films and is in love with making them successful, this being one of his better recent offerings as of late (with a budget of $85 million and a worldwide of $346 million, there is GOING to be another sequel). Audio and video are pure demo material and the extras are pretty impressive as well. While I’m not going to say that the movie is recommended as a serious movie, but as a lover of big dumb action flicks that don’t take themselves too seriously, it’s just what the doctor ordered. While the 4K UHD was given a 2K DI instead of a full 4K master, it still looks fantastic in higher resolution and the HDR is incredible. If you have the equipment, or are getting 4K reasonably soon and are future proofing, then it is worth the upgrade in my opinion. Recommended for a fun watch.



Additional Information:

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Tonie Collette
Directed by: D.J. Carusa
Written by: Rich Wilkes, F. Scott Frazier
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1) French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 16th, 2017




Buy xXx: Return of Xander Cage On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy xXx: Return of Xander Cage 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy xXx: Return of Xander Cage On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon







Recommendation: Cheesy, Fun Watch


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post #2 of 5 Old 05-08-17, 12:47 PM
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Re: xXx: Return of Xander Cage - 4K Blu-ray Review

Oh man... I may have to pick this one up.

I have a guilty pleasure for the first one. 2nd one didn't do it for me, but with Vin Diesel back in it... And Tony Jaa and Donnie Yen...

Sounds like a ton of fun!

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #3 of 5 Old 05-08-17, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: xXx: Return of Xander Cage - 4K Blu-ray Review

if you liked the first one I think you'll like this one. It's much more meta and it doesn't take itself NEARLY so seriously.
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post #4 of 5 Old 05-08-17, 01:37 PM
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Re: xXx: Return of Xander Cage - 4K Blu-ray Review

Greetings,

Nice review Mike! As you know this one didn't do it for me from a content perspective, but I agree that it presents very well in Ultra HD/Dolby Atmos!


Regards,
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post #5 of 5 Old 05-08-17, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: xXx: Return of Xander Cage - 4K Blu-ray Review

Quote:
Ralph P. wrote: View Post
Greetings,

Nice review Mike! As you know this one didn't do it for me from a content perspective, but I agree that it presents very well in Ultra HD/Dolby Atmos!


Regards,
that it does Ralph, that it does. Even with a 2K DI it looks really nice.
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