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A Hologram for the King Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

A Hologram for the King (2016) movie poster A Hologram for the King

Theatrical Release: April 22, 2016 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Tom Tykwer / Writers: Dave Eggers (novel), Tom Tykwer (screenplay)

Cast: Tom Hanks (Alan Clay), Alexander Black (Yousef), Sarita Choudhury (Dr. Zahra Hakem), Sidse Babett Knudsen (Hanne), Tracey Fairaway (Kit Clay), Jane Perry (Ruby), Tom Skerritt (Ron Clay), Michael Baral (Young Ron Clay), Lewis Rainer (Young Alan Clay), Xara Eich (Young Kit Clay), David Menken (Brad), Christy Meyer (Cayley), Megan Maczko (Rachel), Ben Whishaw (Dave), Eric Meyers (Eric Randall), Khalid Laith (Karim Al-Ahmad), Amira El Sayed (Maha), Waleed Elgadi (Sayed), Dhafer L'Abidine (Hasan), Zaydun Khalaf (Mohammed), Boughaba Mohamed (Hamza), Jay Abdo (Dr. Haddad)

Buy A Hologram for the King from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD • DVD + Digital • Instant Video

For a long time, Tom Hanks was the biggest movie star in the world. His movies consistently grossed $100 million domestic or more back when that was still an impressive achievement. Hanks' reign on top probably ended in 2004,
when both the Coen Brothers' The Ladykillers and Steven Spielberg's The Terminal proved less than profitable. But his diminished draw has been hidden by his connection to big films like Toy Story 3 and the Robert Langdon series. And he's clearly still popular in the right movie as the strong but not quite blockbuster numbers of Captain Phillips and Bridge of Spies demonstrate.

Hanks has a big fall coming up, between playing the title role of Clint Eastwood's potential Oscar contender Sully and reprising Langdon for the threequel Inferno. Last spring, however, A Hologram for the King became his lowest-grossing film as leading man since 1986's Every Time We Say Goodbye. In its defense, Hologram only opened in 400 theaters and barely expanded to a peak of 523. Those who weren't among the 480,000 or so people who paid to see this on the big screen missed out on what is one of 2016's better movies to date.

"A Hologram for the King" stars Tom Hanks as Alan Clay, an American businessman trying to sell a holographic teleconferencing system to Saudi Arabia's king.

Adapted from Dave Eggers' 2012 novel of the same name, Hologram stars Hanks as Alan Clay, an American salesman who travels to Saudi Arabia to try to sell the king a holographic teleconferencing system. Alan is plagued by flashbacks and fears. The film opens with him imagining himself performing the Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" in a kind of music video of a song whose lyrics evidently apply to him. He also keeps falling when he tries to sit down and has a troubling lump on his back.

Meanwhile, the IT sales pitch is going nowhere because Alan and his small team of associates are relegated to a tent with spotty Wi-Fi and air conditioning and only the food they bring. The King hasn't stepped foot in Saudi Arabia in ages and even Alan's contact on the project is strangely tough to get ahold of. When he's not bonding with his driver, easygoing American music-loving Yousef (Alexander Black) or smuggling in prohibited booze under the guise of olive oil, Alan brings his back lump in to a lady doctor (Sarita Choudhury), who diagnoses it.

Alan (Tom Hanks) tags along with Yousef (Alexander Black) on his trip to the country.

Adapted for the screen and directed by Germany's Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas, Run Lola Run), Hologram is an unusual film. It's smart, unpredictable, contemporary, and defiantly unconventional. Whether that is true to Eggers' text or not, it works in feature film format. Hanks is compelling in a role that isn't quite another hero or everyman.
Alan wrestles with the anxieties of a late middle-aged man living in today's world, from his daughter's happiness and education to his own potential obsolescence, having run into difficulties as a board member of bicycle maker Schwinn a few years back during its collapse.

You can sense that Tykwer has streamlined the film in some ways. And yet it doesn't suffer in this brisk 98-minute form. It's funny without being just another American on foreign soil comedy. And it's poignant even if you can't relate at all to the business and personal problems its protagonist faces.

The fourth widest opening in the 10-year history of Roadside Attractions, Hologram went on to gross $4 million and change to lightly favorable reviews and a more muted public reaction. It reaches DVD and Blu-ray with digital copy today from Lionsgate.

A Hologram for the King: Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($19.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


A Hologram for the King looks exceptional on Blu-ray, with the 2.40:1 picture staying sharp and vibrant throughout. The fine video is complemented by a robust 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack that raises no major concerns.

Tom Tykwer directs an umbrella-carrying Alexander Black on the desert set of "A Hologram for the King." Author Dave Eggers and director-screenwriter Tom Tykwer discuss "The Adaptation of 'A Hologram for the King'."


Three HD featurettes join the film on Blu-ray.

"The Making of A Hologram for the King" (19:56) serves up the usual behind-the-scenes footage,

talking heads (primarily with author Dave Eggers, director Tom Tykwer, and Tom Hanks), and clips. They discuss having Morocco stand in for Saudi Arabia (which they couldn't get work visas to shoot in). It is more thoughtful than your average EPK piece.

"From Novel to Screen: The Adaptation of A Hologram for the King" (11:53) delves into greater detail regarding Tykwer's interpretation of Eggers' novel for the big screen, with both writers discussing the story.

"Perfecting the Culture" (10:14) covers the production's shooting in a desert that wasn't Saudi Arabia but looked like it, thanks to a cultural and dialect advisor.

Previews repeats the disc-opening trailers, which promote Genius, Miss You Already, Café Society, Love & Mercy, and Mr. Holmes. Hologram's own trailer is not included.

The eco-friendly keepcase slides into an ordinary glossy slipcover (missed opportunity for holography!) reproducing the same artwork below. The Digital HD UltraViolet code is the only insert found alongside the plain gray disc.

The animated menu loops clips and score. The disc supports bookmarks, but didn't succeed at resuming playback for me.

It's not the King, but Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) is relieved to finally meet his immediate contact on the project.


A Hologram for the King doesn't grab your attention by synopsis or even trailer, but this Tom Hanks dramedy captivates with its unusual setting and strangely compelling story. Lionsgate's Blu-ray serves the film well, complementing a fine feature presentation with three unusually substantial making-of featurettes. There's enough here to recommend seeing, even if you're not among the majority of people who consider themselves Tom Hanks fans.

Buy A Hologram for the King from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD + Digital / Instant Video

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Reviewed August 9, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions, and Saban Films. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.