DVD Review - October 27

DVD Review - October 27

DVD Review - October 27

First published in AdXtra

A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith


New to rent on DVD/Blu-Ray

What To Expect When You're Expecting (Cert 12, 105 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, Comedy/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker, Matthew Morrison, Rodrigo Santoro, Ben Falcone, Chace Crawford, Dennis Quaid, Rebel Wilson, Chris Rock, Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon, Amir Talai.

Five loosely connected couples feel the strain of impending parenthood. Among the terrified throng are keep-fit guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) and her dancer beau Evan (Matthew Morrison), whose tempestuous romance sparks to life in a TV studio, and cash-strapped photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and her baby-shy husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro), who are waiting for news about their adoption application. Elsewhere in Atlanta, Rosie (Anna Kendrick) avoids old flame Marco (Chace Crawford) after a carefree night of lust has dramatic consequences, and baby shop owner Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and her insecure husband Gary (Ben Falcone) are delighted to start a brood but their excitement is tempered when Gary's ultra-competitive father Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) and his trophy wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) announce they are having twins at exactly the same time. Inspired by Heidi Murkoff's best-selling book, What To Expect When You're Expecting is an episodic comedy laden with dramatic contrivances, gooey sentiment and occasional zinging one-liners. Director Kirk Jones follows the flimsy template of Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve, festooning the screen with good-looking stars who have to conjure emotion and laughs out of thin air where none exist in the scatter-shot script. His film has neither the running time nor the inclination to explore storylines in great depth and frequently peddles greetings card platitudes. The script demonstrates a clumsy touch with thorny subject matter, such as a debate between two parents about the pros and cons of child circumcision, which is conducted while he nibbles a ring donut and she devours a banana. Subtle.

Rating: ***


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Cert 15, 100 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Action/Horror/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/3D Blu-ray £29.99)

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Jimmi Simpson, Anthony Mackie, Robin McLeavy, Marton Csokas, Erin Wasson.

As a boy in Pigeon Creek, Indiana, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnesses his beloved mother Nancy (Robin McLeavy) fall victim to vampire Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), who lives among humans as a slave trader. Abraham swears revenge and is tutored in the finer points of vampire extermination by enigmatic mentor Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Gradually, Abraham embarks on a political course as a fervent abolitionist, using words as weapons rather than his trusty axe. Henry counsels Abraham against forming personal attachments but his words fall on deaf ears and Abraham marries Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and they raise a family. Meanwhile, chief vampire Adam (Rufus Sewell) and his sister Vadoma (Erin Wasson) prepare to attack Abraham's family in order to stop his crusade for equality. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a snappy title that promises much but delivers only sporadic, slow-motion thrills and (blood) spills as director Timur Bekmambetov re-imagines the American Civil War as a fight between the Union and the vampire-riddled Confederacy. Walker is a bland, unappealing hero, almost completely devoid of humour and charm. His seriousness is matched by the rest of the cast, who have all seen better days. Balletic, gravity-defying action sequences arc the blood of the fanged fiends at the camera as the script, adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith from his own book, lollops through 45 years in Lincoln's life, culminating in The Battle of Gettysburg. The elaborate, overblown stunts, including a ludicrous sequence aboard a railroad train and a stampede, are a welcome distraction between yawns.

Rating: **


Red Lights (Cert 15, 109 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Thriller, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £15.99)

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, Craig Roberts, Leonardo Sbaraglia.

Dr Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) has devoted her life to probing paranormal phenomena and exposing the trickery behind supposedly wondrous occurrences. Flanked by her trusty assistant, Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), she travels the world and shares her experiences by lecturing university students including Sally (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ben (Craig Roberts). Out of the blue, the investigator's great adversary - spoon-bending blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) - emerges from retirement and embarks on a lucrative theatre tour with his agent Monica Handsen (Joely Richardson). Tom feels passionately that Margaret should debunk Silver but she urges caution. "Stay away from him. He's dangerous," she warns with good reason. Tom's insatiable curiosity creates friction with Margaret and the closer he strays towards Silver, the more powerful the blind psychic becomes. Red Lights builds on the promise of writer-director Rodrigo Cortes's second feature, Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds as a US truck driver trapped inside a wooden coffin deep in Iraqi soil. This film has loftier ambitions and a starrier cast, eliciting strong performances from Murphy, Weaver and De Niro, who savour barnstorming monologues that reveal another piece of the convoluted conundrum. Savvy viewers who enthusiastically devoured The Sixth Sense and its supernatural kin will enjoy piecing together the puzzle, searching for clues in nervous glances and ominous silences between the characters. Once Cortes reveals his elaborate and impressively grand design, incredulity supplants fascination, culminating in an oddly underwhelming big reveal that plays on our perceptions. Seeing is deceiving.

Rating: ***


A Fantastic Fear Of Everything (Cert 15, 96 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Drama/ Romance, also available to buy DVD £9.99/Blu-ray £15.99)

Starring: Simon Pegg, Amara Karan, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Clare Higgins, Paul Freeman, Kerry Shale.

Jack (Simon Pegg) is a successful children's author whose attempts to branch out into crime thrillers have left him with a paralysing fear of almost everyone. He becomes a virtual recluse in his dirty flat in London's East End, occasionally telephoning his shrink Dr Friedkin (Paul Freeman) for words of comfort. Jack's literary agent Clair (Clare Higgins) insists that he takes a meeting with head of scripts Harvey Humphreys (Kerry Shale). When Jack protests that he has nothing to wear, she warns him of the dire consequences: "It's Humphreys or bust!" So Jack steels himself for a trip to the Lotus Laundrette, where he crosses paths with beautiful stranger Sangeet (Amara Karan), community support officer Taser (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) and a serial killer who has been terrorising the streets of the capital. A Fantastic Fear Of Everything is a fascinating yet flawed experiment that fails to engage us on an emotional level. Jack provides narration throughout, which veers from the mildly comical to the dull, while Pegg performs Mr Bean-style slapstick with superglue, a pair of soiled underpants and a smoking oven. The inconsistent tone proves unsettling, though not in a way that would benefit the film, but the animated vignettes are charming, such as the story of a misunderstood hedgehog told through stop-motion. Best known as the front man of rock band Kula Shaker, director Crispian Mills strives to impose himself on his chaotic creation but like Dr Frankenstein, he's not in charge of this monster. Weird isn't always wonderful.

Rating: **


Chernobyl Diaries (Cert 15, 84 mins, Studio Canal, Horror/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)

Starring: Jonathan Sadowski, Jesse McCartney, Devin Kelley, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Nathan Phillips, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Dimitri Diatchenko.

Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and their photographer friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) travel around Europe, heading for Kiev where they plan to meet up with Chris's older brother, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), before heading to Moscow. Paul derails the carefully laid plans by suggesting a detour to the abandoned Ukrainian town of Pripyat, close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in the company of enigmatic tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko). Despite Chris's protestations, the four friends cram into the back of Uri's old military van along with Australian backpacker Michael (Nathan Phillips) and his Norwegian girlfriend Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal). When the twenty-somethings return from their guided tour around Pripyat they discover someone has sabotaged the van, stranding them in the ghost town for the night. Shot in a documentary-style by director Bradley Parker, replete with juddering handheld camerawork and ambient sound, Chernobyl Diaries is a predictable horror that keeps most of the gore off-screen. Dialogue is largely improvised, which accounts for the repetition of bland phrases, and the cast members demonstrate an impressive array of gasps, whimpers and blood-curdling screams. Most of the seven-strong cast are marked for death from the opening frames and the script clearly telegraphs the order of their demise. Characters repeatedly find excuses to put themselves in harm's way, stumbling over rickety bridges or racing through claustrophobic tunnels, without any obvious escape route. Every time one of them wanders off alone, they are severely punished. Truly, there is safety in numbers.

Rating: **


Also released

Cockneys Vs Zombies (Cert 15, 87 mins, Studio Canal, Comedy/Horror/Action, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)

Dark Tide (Cert 15, 109 mins, Revolver Entertainment, Thriller/Horror, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99 - see below)

In The Dark Half (Cert 15, 81 mins, Verve Pictures, Thriller/Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99 - see below)

Lovely Molly (Cert 15, 96 mins, Metrodome Distribution, Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)


New to buy on DVD/Blu-Ray

House - The Final Season (Cert 15, 924 mins, Universal Playback, DVD £34.99/Complete Seasons DVD Box Set £99.99/Blu-ray £39.99, Drama/Romance)

It's the end of the road for curmudgeonly yet brilliant Dr Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) in the final 22 episodes of the award-winning drama set at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. This series, House is released from prison and returns to the hospital to discover much has changed in his absence. Hospital dean Dr Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) has gone and Foreman (Omar Epps) is now in charge. House has a new protegee, Dr Chi Park (Charlyne Yi), but few friends aside from Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), whose cancer diagnosis leads to a heartbreaking decision to forego treatment and die with dignity, surrounded by the people he loves. A hefty 46-disc box set, comprising all eight series, is also available.


Citizen Khan (Cert PG, 168 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99, Comedy)

All six episodes of the BBC One sitcom, which won healthy viewing figures but also drew hundreds of complaints for allegedly insulting Islam. Muslim businessman Mr Khan (Adil Ray) lives in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham - part of the so-called Balti triangle - with his despairing and house-proud wife (Shobu Kapoor) and two daughters, Shazia (Maya Sondhi) and Alia (Bhavna Limbachia). Mr Khan sees himself as a pillar of the local community, to whom everyone should turn in times of need. However, for all of his bluster and boasts, Mr Khan has very little actual wisdom to share with his neighbours and when he does meddle in other people's affairs, it usually ends in embarrassment.


Dynamo: Magician Impossible - Series Two (Cert 12, 172 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £19.99/Series One & Two DVD Box Set £29.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Special Interest)

Special guests Damon Albarn, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield join 28-year-old Bradford-born street magician Stephen Frayne as he performs dazzling close-up magic and spectacular illusions in this four-part series, which was recently broadcast on UKTV channel Watch. This series, Dynamo cheats death and defies gravity by walking down the outside of a building in Los Angeles.


Cockneys Vs Zombies (Cert 15, 87 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Comedy/Horror/Action)

Matthias Hoene directs this horror comedy in a similar vein to Shaun Of The Dead, about a gang of East End chancers who are faced with an invasion of the undead. Brothers Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) are alarmed to learn that The Bow Bells Care Home, where their grandfather Ray (Alan Ford) lives with his pals, is threatened with closure. So the lads recruit their cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan) to help them rob a bank and secure the future of the residence. The bungled heist coincides with a plague that sweeps across the capital, transforming everyday folk into flesh-crazed zombies. These bloodthirsty predators encircle the care home, trapping Ray, Peggy (Honor Blackman), Hamish (Richard Briers), Eric (Dudley Sutton) and Doreen (Georgina Hale) in the kitchen with no means of escape. Once Andy, Terry and Katy sense the imminent danger to their grandfather, they race to the scene, laying to waste countless zombies, because the family that slays together, stays together.


Lovely Molly (Cert 15, 96 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Horror/Thriller)

Unfolding in part as emotionally fraught video diaries, Lovely Molly is a haunted house story written and directed by Eduardo Sanchez, which explores the mounting paranoia of a young woman who is convinced that something nasty lurks in her family home. Molly (Gretchen Lodge) marries her sweetheart Tim (Johnny Lewis) and they move into her childhood home shortly after her parents have perished in a car crash. Marital bliss is short-lived when Molly begins to hear strange noises in the house while Tim is at work. Her sister Hannah (Alexandra Holden) makes frequent visits to try to steel Molly's nerves but an obsession with dark forces slowly consumes Molly, compelling her to commit terrible acts.


In The Dark Half (Cert 15, 81 mins, Verve Pictures, DVD £15.99, Thriller/Drama)

Fifteen-year-old Marie (Jessica Barden) feels alienated from her classmates and struggles to communicate effectively with her mother Kathy (Lyndsey Marshal), who is renovating their house room by room. To escape the gloom, Marie retires to a hut on the nearby hill, where she wallows in legends of woodland sprites and hides the dead rabbits that next-door neighbour Filthy (Tony Curran) and his young son Sean hunt on the hill behind their house. One evening, Marie agrees to babysit Sean and as the night closes in, the youngster dies. Filthy is inconsolable and blames Marie but the teenager claims she wasn't responsible for the accident, asserting instead that the dark forces which lurk on the hill have taken the boy.


Grimm - Season One (Cert 15, 913 mins, Universal Playback, DVD £34.99/Blu-ray £39.99, Drama)

Not all fairytales have a happy ending and that's certainly the case in the first series of the supernatural drama laden with magical creatures and spirits. Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is shocked to learn that he harks from a long bloodline of Grimms, who have spent their lives maintaining the balance between humans and mythological monsters that only he can see. Aided by former creature Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and police partner Hank (Russell Hornsby), Nick goes to battle against dark forces while struggling to keep the truth about his destiny from his long-term girlfriend, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). The six-disc box set includes all 22 enchanted episodes.


Beloved (Cert 15, 132 mins, Drakes Avenue Pictures, DVD £15.99, Musical/Drama/Romance)

Chosen as the closing night film for the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Christophe Honore's musical melodrama charts the vacillations of a mother and daughter between the years of 1964 and 2007. Madeleine (played initially by Ludivine Sagnier and later by Catherine Deneuve) decides to steal a pair of designer shoes from the boutique where she works. As she walks around town in the stylish footwear, a Czech medical student called Jaronil (played initially by Rasha Bukvic and later by Milos Forman) mistakes her for a working girl. Madeleine decides to see where the misunderstanding leads - as it happens, to a steady second income. Jaronil is smitten and marries Madeleine, and he spirits her away from the streets of Paris and her clients to Prague where the marriage crumbles. Years later, their daughter Vera (Chiara Mastroianni) pursues her own doomed love affair with a gay drummer called Henderson (Paul Schneider). His sexuality doesn't dissuade Vera in the slightest, blinding her to the amorous overtures of a rival suitor (Louis Garrel).


Hung - The Complete Third Season (Cert 18, 290 mins, Warner Home Video, DVD £39.99, Comedy/Romance)

All good things must come to an end for high school teacher and coach Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane), whose days as a male escort are numbered in these final 10 episodes of the US comedy. Ray and his pimp Tanya (Jane Adams) are caught off guard when their ex-business partner Lenore (Rebecca Creskoff) discovers a younger rival, Jason (Stephen Arnell), and attempts to steal all of Ray'' clients. As the competition between the two men intensifies, personal bonds are strained to breaking point and plans are hatched to get rid of one of the escorts for good.


Dark Tide (Cert 15, 109 mins, Revolver Entertainment, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99, Thriller/Horror)

Katie (Halle Berry) is one of the best divers in the world and she used to be the queen of deep water until a fellow diver perished under her watch. Ever since, she has been unable and unwilling to venture into the water. As debts mount and the bank threatens to take her boat to settle her arrears, Katie reluctantly accepts a job offer from her boyfriend Jeff (Olivier Martinez) to lead a shark dive. The money from the dive will guarantee her financial security and put her career back on track, so Katie dons her wet suit and heads into the deep, where a voracious predator lurks, hungry for human flesh.


2 Broke Girls - Season 1 (Cert 15, 480 mins, Warner Home Video, DVD £24.99, Comedy/Romance)

Two friends dream of starting their own business in the first series of the popular US sitcom. One-time high society girl Caroline (Beth Behrs) falls on hard times after her father is arrested and jailed for fraud. She lands a job in a Brooklyn restaurant and befriends fellow waitress Max (Kat Dennings). The twenty-somethings become roommates and nurture fantasies of opening their own cupcake shop. Caroline and Max save all of their tips and take on extra jobs, determined to raise the necessary funds to enter cupcake heaven, but even paying the rent on time is sometimes a struggle. The three-disc box set includes all 24 episodes.


Silent Souls (Cert 15, 74 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99, Drama/Romance)

Russian director Aleksei Fedorchenko explores the customs of the ancient Merja people in this gently paced road trip through the heart of his country. Miron (Yuriy Tsurilo) has recently lost his wife, Tanya (Yuliya Aug), and he is determined to abide by Merja traditions and cremate her body on the riverbank where they spent a glorious honeymoon. Having washed and dressed Tanya's body, Miron embarks on his odyssey in the company of his good friend Aist (Igor Sergeev) and two caged sparrows. En route, the widower reminisces in flashback about his marriage and the many happy days he spent with his beloved before her passing.


The Soul Of Flies (El Alma De Las Moscas) (Cert 15, 79 mins, Matchbox Films, DVD £15.99, Drama)

Jonathan Cenzual Burley's directorial debut is a gently paced road movie about estranged brothers who meet in the most emotionally fraught circumstances. Miguel (Javier Saez) and Nero (Andrea Calabrese) discover they are half-brothers en route to the funeral of a philandering father they never knew, whose existence was only revealed by letter. The journey to the wake is complicated by a lack of trains through the station, so Miguel and Nero begin the long walk through the Castilian Meseta, learning about each other's paths through life as they move towards a bittersweet farewell to the man responsible for their current dilemma.


Werewolf - The Beast Among Us (Cert 18, 89 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £9.99/Blu-ray £12.99, Horror/Thriller)

Louis Morneau directs this horror thriller about a village under siege from a ferocious foe. Daniel (Guy Wilson) lives in a quiet, rural community which has been shocked by attacks from a large predator. So Daniel and his friends enlists the services of three professional hunters (Steven Bauer, Adam Croasdell, Ed Quinn), who are remarkably well equipped for the job. However, the hunters are unable to stop the bloodletting and as the villagers turn on each other, Daniel realises that the creature stalking him and his neighbours is more deadly than anyone anticipated.


E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Cert U, 110 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray £29.99/Limited Edition Spaceship Blu-ray Box Set £119.99, Sci-Fi/Family/Drama)

Steven Spielberg's masterpiece touches down on Blu-ray for the first time alongside another welcome re-release on DVD. Elliot (Henry Thomas) lives on an anonymous housing estate with his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and precocious young sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore). Elliot's father has abandoned the family to live with another woman - and his mother (Dee Wallace Stone) is struggling to make ends meet. One night, Elliot hears noises emanating from the shed and discovers, to his astonishment, a stranded alien visitor. He resolves to keep the pint-sized creature - christened E.T. - by hiding the extra-terrestrial in his room. Invariably, he is forced to let Michael and Gertie in on the secret. However, E.T.'s health begins to fail and it becomes clear that the alien must contact his own family to survive. Unfortunately, the US government is aware of the alien visitor's whereabouts and sends in a team of crack scientists to separate E.T. and Elliot. A limited edition box set, packaged with a 45-page book and a collectible spaceship model with working lights and sound, is also available.


The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (Cert U, 157 mins, ITV Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £21.99, Drama/War)

A welcome re-release of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's celebrated 1943 drama, chronicling the turbulent history of a military man against a backdrop of bitter conflict. As the Second World War rages around him, Major General Clive Wynne-Candy (Roger Livesey) recalls his incredible life so far. He thinks back to the turn of the 20th century when a letter from English teacher Edith Hunter (Deborah Kerr) spurs him to visit Berlin, where a German spy is at large. Inadvertently, Clive becomes involved in a duel with officer Theodor Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook) and the two men become unlikely friends, both in love with Edith. She eventually chooses Theodor and Clive goes back to his life of strict routine and order, ascending the ranks to Brigadier General. During the First World War, he meets a nurse called Barbara (Kerr again), who bears a striking resemblance to Edith. Haunted by the woman he lost, Clive pursues Barbara and they marry, propelling the officer on to a new path, which brings him back into contact with Theodor.


DVD and Blu-Ray retail top 10

1 (-) Prometheus

2 (-) Mrs Brown's Boys - Series Two

3 (2) Shrek's Thrilling Tales

4 (1) Snow White And The Huntsman

5 (-) Rock Of Ages

6 (-) Ill Manors

7 (3) Avengers Assemble

8 (-) Sons Of Anarchy - Season Four

9 (9) Taken

10 (-) Monster High: Ghouls Rule

Chart supplied by hmv.com


DVD rental top 10

1 (2) Snow White And The Huntsman

2 (3) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

3 (4) How I Spent My Summer Vacation

4 (-) The Five-Year Engagement

5 (-) The Hunger Games

6 (5) American Pie: Reunion

7 (7) Lockout

8 (-) The Cabin In The Woods

9 (6) Moonrise Kingdom

10 (9) 21 Jump Street

Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk

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