On DVD & Blu-Ray: August 9, 2016

Any film that chooses to embrace Electric Light Orchestra, or for that matter acknowledge how wonderful ELO truly is, is okay in my books. This bodes well for A Hologram for the King as it seemingly has a lot to offer, but ends up offering as much in such a fashion that it feels it's holding back on the best, most interesting stuff. I haven't read the novel by Dave Eggers on which this film adaptation is based, but from being familiar with Eggers style and having his influence be strongly present during my college years I can see how this book, which was published after I graduated from college, would seem like a natural progression for the writer. He is getting older, so too are his protagonists, but the existential questions still remain-just in different forms and from different perspectives. Though I haven't read Eggers' novel it is easy to see the main ideas and themes the author was addressing come through in the opening moments of director Tom Tykwer's (Cloud Atlas, Run Lola Run) film. Tykwer takes us through the deconstruction of what more or less defines success in Western culture and strips it away from our protagonist before dropping him into Saudi Arabia where success and satisfaction are still measured in many of the same ways, but where society has a more narrow view of how those rewards should be distributed and touted. Still, the film doesn't look down upon its main setting so as to say we have it all figured out in America and they should take note, but rather it displays the still very present complications and struggles alive within a well to-do, middle-aged white guy that should seemingly have it all, including any opportunity he desires. Most writers place their surrogates into characters who mimic themselves which translates to an abundance of middle-aged white guys, but here the choice to have the lead character fit this profile is a strategic one, a decision that greater emphasizes the difference in having it all and having what is meaningful. I'm still not sure if there is an analogy or metaphor that we should interpret from the title, but it seems it should naturally have an underlying meaning. I bring this up because much like the title of the film the contents feel as if there should be more to them; something that anchors the ideas and makes them feel more substantial; effecting viewers in greater ways. Instead, A Hologram for the King simply skims the surface, albeit an interesting surface. Full review here. B-

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