DVD Review - November 3

DVD Review - November 3

DVD Review - November 3

First published in AdXtra

A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith


New to rent on DVD/Blu-Ray

The Five-Year Engagement (Cert 15, 119 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)

Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Jacki Weaver, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, Lauren Weedman.

San Francisco sous chef Tom (Jason Segel) meets psychology graduate Violet (Emily Blunt) at a Make Your Own Superhero party. On their one-year anniversary, he nervously pops the question with help from his best friend Alex (Chris Pratt). Tom's parents Pete (David Paymer) and Carol (Mimi Kennedy), and Violet's mother Sylvia (Jacki Weaver) are thrilled and at the subsequent engagement party, bed-hopping ladies' man Alex catches the eye of Violet's emotionally volatile sister, Suzie (Alison Brie). Soon after, Violet secures a doctoral position at Michigan University, studying under Professor Winton Childs (Rhys Ifans), and Tom sacrifices his career to follow her to the frozen Midwest. However, the move puts the relationship under intolerable strain. Penned by leading man Segel and director Nicholas Stoller, The Five-Year Engagement begins promisingly with rapid-fire dialogue and some amusing vignettes. Then the malaise sets in. Our attraction to the script and characters wanes and we almost fall out of love entirely with the film during a plodding middle section. Thankfully, our disenchantment is tempered by unerring affection for Segel and Blunt, and some lovely set pieces including an animated discussion between Violet and Suzie in front of the latter's inquisitive young daughter that forces the sisters to adopt the voices of Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street to conceal the forcefulness of their argument. Segel and Blunt, who are good friends in real life, gel delightfully in front of the cameras and kindle sparks of sexual chemistry that have us rooting for their soon-to-be-weds when fate conspires to tear them apart. Love hurts, though not too badly.

Rating: ***


Storage 24 (Cert 15, 83 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller/Action/Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £15.99)

Starring: Noel Clarke, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Laura Haddock, Colin O'Donoghue, Jamie Thomas King, Alex Price, Ned Dennehy, Geoff Bell, Amy Pemberton.

Following a suspected aeroplane crash in London, wise-cracking Charlie (Noel Clarke) and best friend Mark (Colin O'Donoghue) arrive at a storage facility to collect some of Charlie's belongings. A malfunctioning security system traps the young men inside the building with employee Jake (Alex Price) and electrician Bob (Geoff Bell), who attempts to reboot the mainframe and open the metal shutters. Meanwhile, Charlie and Mark head for a locker where they run into Charlie's embittered ex-girlfriend, Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), her gal pal Nikki (Laura Haddock) and snarky pal Chris (Jamie Thomas King). The former lovers trade barbs and then a growl reverberates through the building. Based on an original screenplay by leading man Clarke, Storage 24 is a gore-slathered sci-fi horror littered with undernourished characters and predictable twists. Clarke quips through the madness while his co-stars treat their predicament with utmost seriousness, except for Ned Dennehy as a hen-pecked customer, who stares at the otherworldly predator and sneers, "You're vicious, aren't you. Just like my wife!" Slick make-up effects and a couple of fizzing one-liners compensate for a paucity of edge-of-seat scares. The storage facility's labyrinthine corridors and snaking air ducts provide a suitably claustrophobic setting for the battle royale between the extra-terrestrial predator and ill-equipped human prey. Characters are slain in grisly close-up at regular intervals to satisfy gore hounds, while the script plays the usual mind games to bring an unlikely saviour to the fore at the crucial moment with a stirring declaration: "I got nothing to lose so I'm going to go and kill that thing!" It's hardly poetry but the heroic spirit is admirable.

Rating: ***


Red Tails (Cert 12, 119 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, War/Action/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £15.99)

Starring: Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Elijah Kelley, Ne-Yo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr, Bryan Cranston, Lee Tergesen, Daniela Ruah.

During the Second World War, US Army brass represented by Colonel William Mortamus (Bryan Cranston) want to shut down the 332nd squadron of African American fighter pilots under the command of Colonel AJ Bullard (Terrence Howard) and Major Emanuelle Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr). Thankfully, Colonel Jack Tomlinson (Lee Tergesen) throws his support behind the airmen, who are based out of Ramitelli Airfield in Italy. As the conflict escalates, the pilots, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, are gifted a daring mission to provide cover for an Allied beach landing. Marty "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker), Joe "Lightning" Little (David Oyelowo), Ray "Junior" Gannon (Tristan Wilds), Samuel "Joker" George (Elijah Kelley) and Andrew "Smokey" Salem (Ne-Yo) take to the skies to prove their worth. Inspired by a true story, Red Tails pays tribute to the brave fighter pilots who risked their lives when their racially divided country regarded them as second-class citizens. Anthony Hemingway's film celebrates the camaraderie between the men and their airborne excellence with an old-fashioned adventure that says "chocks away" to serious discussion of the civil rights of the era in favour of thrilling dogfights and a tender romance across the language barrier. Airborne battles are orchestrated at a breathless pace, augmented with slick digital effects. Performances are solid, led by Parker and Oyelowo, with some barnstorming speeches from Gooding Jr and Howard to rally the men at the crucial hour. While the film soars in the skies, on the ground there's nothing original or challenging in the script and some key sequences, such as a daring escape from a prisoner of war camp, are oddly truncated.

Rating: ***


Also released

Brake (Cert 15, 87 mins, High Fliers Films, Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £15.99 - see below)

Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate (Cert 15, 122 mins, Revolver Entertainment, Action/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/3D Blu-ray £17.99 - see below)

The Hunter (Cert 15, 99 mins, Artificial Eye, Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)

King Of Devil's Island (Kongen Av Bastoy) (Cert 12, 111 mins, Arrow Film Distribution, Drama/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)

Polisse (Cert 15, 127 mins, Artificial Eye, Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99 - see below)

A Royal Affair (En Kongelig Affaere) (Cert 15, 132 mins, Metrodome Distribution, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £22.99 - see below)

Your Sister's Sister (Cert 15, 86 mins, Studio Canal, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99 - see below)


New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray

Doctor Who - Series Seven, Part One (Cert PG, 245 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £24.99/Limited Edition DVD £27.99/Blu-ray £29.99/Limited Edition Blu-ray £32.99)

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) begin their final adventures alongside the Time Lord (Matt Smith) in five episodes of the latest series, which pit the time travellers against the Daleks, prehistoric beasts and the diabolical Weeping Angels. The DVD includes Asylum Of The Daleks, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power Of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan. A limited edition DVD and Blu-ray with exclusive bonus features and an A3 poster is also available.


Smash - Season One (Cert 12, 670 mins, Universal Playback, DVD £29.99, Musical/Drama/Romance)

Songwriting duo Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) and Julia Houston (Debra Messing) are preparing a new musical called Bombshell, chronicling the turbulent life of Marilyn Monroe. Broadway diva Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) is desperate to land the lead role but she faces stern competition from part-time waitress Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee), who dreams of life in the spotlight. Behind the scenes, director and choreographer Derek Wills (Jack Davenport) attempts to keep the project on track while formidable producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) cares only about protecting her investment and ensuring the curtain goes up on opening night. The four-disc set includes all 15 episodes.


Your Sister's Sister (Cert 15, 86 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99, Comedy/Romance)

Sisters are doing it for themselves - but not each other - in Lynn Shelton's well-observed relationship comedy, which continues the battle of the sexes waged in her provocative 2009 feature Humpday. Here, the helter-skelter of destructive feelings begins when Iris (Emily Blunt) dispatches her slacker best friend, Jack (Mark Duplass), to her family's cabin to privately mourn his brother. A boozy late-night encounter with Iris's lesbian sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), leads to a half-hearted offer of sex. "I haven't been on that bicycle for some time," she responds tartly. The next morning, Jack and Hannah are roused from their slumber by the arrival of Iris with groceries. Embarrassment turns to intense discomfort between the siblings when Iris makes a heartfelt confession and asks Hannah for her advice. Your Sister's Sister boasts sparkling chemistry between the leads and Shelton rewards her cast with natural, flowing dialogue that cuts to the bone.


The Hunter (Cert 15, 99 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Thriller/Action)

Daniel Nettheim directs a haunting drama adapted from the novel by Julia Leigh, about a hunter who is drawn into a stand-off between environmentalists and loggers in one of the most beautiful locations on earth. A biotech company hires expert marksman Martin David (Willem Dafoe) to travel to the Southern Hemisphere and hunt the last remaining Tasmanian Tiger. The elusive and majestic beast is believed to hold the secret to a pharmaceutical miracle. Martin travels to the wilderness where Jack Mindy (Sam Neill) arranges for him to stay with Lucy Armstrong (Frances O'Connor) and her children Sass (Morgana Davis) and Bike (Finn Woodlock), whose zoologist father is missing. As Martin stalks his prey, he grows emotionally attached to his hosts and begins to question the morality of destroying an endangered species forever.


A Royal Affair (En Kongelig Affaere) (Cert 15, 132 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £22.99, Drama/Romance)

Forbidden romance in the 18th century Danish court has dramatic repercussions for the country in this elegant and visually arresting historical drama directed by Nikolaj Arcel. While reforms sweep across the rest of Europe, Denmark remains firmly in the control of a King's council that favours the rich and privileged. Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) is married off to her cousin King Christian VII (Mikkel Folsgaard), whose mental instability is mercilessly exploited by the council. They demand his signature on legislation without ever requiring him to understand the laws he is passing. Relations with Caroline Mathilde deteriorate after she produces a male heir, Frederick VI (William Johnk Nielsen), and the Queen seeks emotional comfort instead in the arms of the King's personal physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), who shares her political leanings. Together, they attempt to influence the King and alter the balance of power in the country away from the nobility.


King Of Devil's Island (Kongen Av Bastoy) (Cert 12, 111 mins, Arrow Film Distribution, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Drama/Thriller)

Based on a true story, Marius Holst's hard-hitting drama chronicles the uprising at the Bastoy Residential School for troubled youth, which led to the intervention of Norwegian armed forces. The governor Bestyreren (Stellan Skarsgard) believes in imposing strict rules on his wards aged 11 to 18 in order to mould them into decent, law-abiding members of society. He relies on the guards, led by the sadistic Brathen (Kristoffer Joner), to take charge and they employ mental and physical abuse to beat the boys into submission. Seventeen-year-old Erling (Benjamin Helstad) arrives at Bastov with terrified Ivar (Magnus Langlete), and the new inmates are humiliated in front of the other boys in order to quell any thoughts of rebellion. While Ivar suffers horribly at Brathen's hands, Erling dares to stand up to the guards and he risks everything to escape the inhumane conditions.


Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate (Cert 15, 122 mins, Revolver Entertainment, DVD £15.99/3D Blu-ray £17.99, Action/Drama/Romance)

Tsui Hark writes and directs the first Chinese-language action film shot in the Imax 3D format, which is available exclusively on Blu-ray. DVD customers will have to settle for the film in 2D. Feisty female warrior Ling Yan Qiu (Zhou Xun) rescues maid Su Huia Yong (Mavis Fan) from the palace after she falls pregnant by the randy emperor. The two women head for the fabled Dragon Gate Inn with Yu Hua Tian (Kun Chen) in hot pursuit, who has been engaged to kill Su before she can bring disgrace on the royal court. At the inn, Ling crosses paths with freedom fighter Zhou Gwai On (Jet Li), who famously rescued condemned rebels from certain death, and female bandit Gu Shao Tang (Yuchun Li) and her partner-in-crime Wind Blade (Kun again), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Yu Hua Tian. As a sandstorm approaches, which will temporarily reveal a city of treasures located beneath the inn, the characters attempt to out-manoeuvre each other, determined to claim the booty and slaughter their greedy rivals.


Polisse (Cert 15, 127 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99, Drama)

Maiwenn directs and stars in this gritty drama, documenting the day-to-day activities of a child protection unit based in northern Paris. Photographer Melissa (Maiwenn) is assigned to follow the unit and capture the harsh realities of life for the cops who have to deal with shocking acts of brutality and abuse against minors on a daily basis. Through Melissa's lens, we become acquainted with unit leader Baloo (Frederic Pierrot) and his team, including Mathieu (Nicolas Duvauchelle), who is secretly in love with his married and pregnant partner Chrys (Karole Rocher), and weight-conscious Nadine (Karin Viard), who is struggling with the fallout from her divorce. Personal and professional tensions unite and divide the squad, giving some of the cops pause for thought about the direction of their careers.


One Direction: All For One (Cert PG, 60 mins, Anchor Bay Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Documentary)

Simon Cowell, Westlife, The Wanted and Big Time Rush contribute to this feature-length documentary about the boy band, who have graduated from the stage of The X Factor to chart-topping glory on both sides of the Atlantic. With cameras following their every move, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson reveal the pressures of being in the spotlight, share their surprise at their meteoric rise to superstardom and look forward to the release of their second studio album, Take Me Home.


Hello Quo! (Cert 15, 152 mins, Anchor Bay Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Collector's Edition DVD/Blu-ray £24.99, Documentary/Musical)

Formed in 1962, rock band The Spectres became Status Quo five years later shortly before the release of the single Pictures Of Matchstick Men. Over the next 45 years, Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt and their band mates have conquered the world, selling 128 million albums and topping the UK singles chart twice with Down Down and Come On You Reds. Documentary film-maker Alan G Parker celebrates the enduring appeal the Prince Of Wales's favourite band with this feature-length portrait, including interviews with current and previous line-ups and the people who know them best, plus archive footage and toe-tapping performances. A two-disc collector's edition, comprising three hours of bonus footage, is also available.


The Borgias - The Second Season (Cert 15, 552 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £29.99/Seasons One & Two DVD Box Set £41.99/Blu-ray £39.99/Seasons One & Two DVD Box Set £51.99, Drama/Romance)

Family ties are tested to the limit in these 10 episodes of the historical drama from the creators of The Tudors, which follows the eponymous clan during the Renaissance as Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons) rises to power by any underhand means necessary. This series, Rodrigo increasingly relies on help from his son Cesare (Francois Arnaud) to cling onto the papacy, his daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) mourns the death of her lover Paolo (Luke Pasqualino) and a monk called Antonello (Jesse Bostick) becomes the Pope's official taster, gifting the young man a perfect opportunity to poison his master. A seven-disc box set comprising both series is also available.


Brake (Cert 15, 87 mins, High Fliers Films, DVD/Blu-ray £15.99, Thriller/Action)

Gabe Torres directs this fast-paced thriller about a US government agent, who holds the key to the President's life. Secret Service Agent Jeremy Reins (Stephen Dorff) is the victim of a seemingly random kidnapping. Held hostage in the boot of a speeding car, Jeremy gradually surmises that his abduction is part of a carefully orchestrated plan to assassinate the President of the United States. The agent knows the location of a secret bunker where his commander-in-chief will be hidden in the event of a terrorist strike. In order to save the people he loves including his wife Molly (Chyler Leigh), Jeremy must surrender this confidential information to his abductors. The clock is ticking...


The Giants (Cert 15, 81 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99, Drama)

Teenage brothers are left to their own devices by their mother in this coming of age story, directed by Belgian film-maker Bouli Lanners. When their parent temporarily abandons them to work abroad, siblings Zak (Zacharie Chasseriaud) and Seth (Martin Nissen) make the best of a bad situation by enjoying their freedom at their late grandfather's summer cottage in the countryside. They bond with another teenager, Danny (Paul Bartel), and while away the days joyriding in a car and taking drugs, staying well out of the way of Zak and Seth's older brother Angel (Karim Leklou), who works as a henchman for drug dealer Beef (Didier Toupy). As the summer unfurls, the youngsters find plenty to keep them amused until they fall victim to Beef and his posse including the thug's drug-addled moll (Gwen Berrou).


7 Days In Havana (7 Dias En La Habana) (Cert 15, 123 mins, Soda Pictures, DVD £15.99, Drama/Romance)

Benicio Del Toro, Pablo Trapero, Julio Medem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noe, Juan Carlos Tabio and Laurent Cantet direct this Spanish-language anthology, which offers seven subtly different perspectives on life in the Cuban capital, some loosely connected by gossamer thin plot strands. In Del Toro's opening salvo, American tourist Teddy (Josh Hutcherson), who has dreams of becoming an actor, heads for a film festival and becomes entangled with a transvestite. In later segments, director Emir Kusturica (playing himself) has a memorable encounter with celebrated musician Alexander Abreu and a love triangle involving Daniel Bruhl, Melvis Estevez and Leo Benitez is resolved with bruised egos and wounded hearts.


Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (Cert PG, 82 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £19.99, Documentary)

Born in Paris, Diana Vreeland moved to America with her family at the beginning of the First World War, studying under ballet master Michel Fokine. She danced at Carnegie Hall and married a banker, then indulged her passion for fashion, forging ties with Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson. She caught the eye of Carmel Snow, editor of Harper's Bazaar, who invited Vreeland to pen a regular column for the magazine. Vreeland's ability to foresee and spark trends was uncanny and she famously spotted Lauren Bacall before Hollywood came a-calling, graduating to fashion editor on the magazine, a role which brought her into close contact with legendary photographer Richard Avedon. Vreeland advised Jacqueline Kennedy on fashion when John F Kennedy became president and continued to shape global trends as editor-in-chief of rival magazine Vogue. This documentary, co-directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt and Frederic Tcheng, surveys the doyenne's extraordinary career, including archive footage and interviews with friends and family.


Monsterwolf (Cert 15, 90 mins, Signature Entertainment, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £15.99, Sci-Fi/Horror)

Chief Turner (Steve Reevis) presides over a tribe of native Americans, who respect the land and take heed of the ancient legends that have passed down from one generation to the next. Local businessmen are far less sensitive so when a Louisiana oil company CEO starts digging for black gold on tribal land, the interlopers unwittingly unleash a monstrous, flesh-hungry wolf. Chief Turner and local girl Maria (Leonor Varela) join forces to tame the beast and end the lupine's rampage.


House Of Bones (Cert 18, 86 mins, Signature Entertainment, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £15.99, Horror/Thriller)

A reality TV crew gets more than it bargained for in Jeffrey Scott Lando's spooky horror. Quentin (Corin Nemec) leads a team of ghost hunters, who investigate the validity of supposedly haunted properties. They head to a house, rumoured to be the site of supernatural occurrences, where crew members begin to go missing. Quentin and the survivors, including drama queen Heather (Charisma Carpenter) must uncover the dark secrets of the property in order to survive their terrifying ordeal.


Kirstie's Handmade Britain: The Complete Series One (Cert E, 423 mins, Delta Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Special Interest)

Kirstie Allsopp, who is passionate about handcrafted goods, travels around the UK to myriad country shows to gain hints and tips about different skills so that she can enter her efforts into competitions. The four-disc DVD set includes the nine episodes Baking And Afternoon Tea At The Devon County Show, Paper Craft At The Royal Welsh Show, Needlecraft At The Great Yorkshire Show, Floral Art At The Royal Cornwall Show, Gift Crafts With The Women's Institute At The New Forest & Hampshire County Show, Garden Craft At The Chagford Show, Meat At The Nidderdale Show, Kirstie's Handmade Christmas and Kirstie's Home For Christmas.


DVD and Blu-ray retail top 10

1 (-) Wrath Of The Titans

2 (1) Prometheus

3 (-) Dark Shadows

4 (3) Shrek's Thrilling Tales

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

6 (-) Avatar

7 (4) Snow White And The Huntsman

8 (7) Avengers Assemble

9 (9) Taken

10 (5) Rock Of Ages

Chart supplied by www.hmv.com


DVD rental top 10

1 (-) Safe

2 (-) Avengers Assemble

3 (1) Snow White And The Huntsman

4 (8) The Cabin In The Woods

5 (5) The Hunger Games

6 (4) The Five-Year Engagement

7 (7) Lockout

8 (2) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

9 (-) The Dictator

10 (6) American Pie: Reunion

Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk

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