A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith.
New to rent on DVD/Blu-Ray.
War Horse (Cert 12, 140 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, War/Drama/Action, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £21.99).
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Matt Milne, David Kross, Celine Buckens, Niels Arestrup.
Alcohol-soaked farmer Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) pays over the odds for a foal called Joey to spite landlord Lyons (David Thewlis) when he is supposed to be buying a plough horse. Long-suffering wife Rose (Emily Watson) despairs, wondering how they will pay the rent, while son Albert (Jeremy Irvine) promises to train the animal to work in the fields. When Europe goes to war, Ted sells Joey to Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston). Albert subsequently learns of tragedy on the battlefield and enlists in the army with best friend Andrew (Matt Milne) to track down Joey and return the horse to the farm. Meanwhile, behind enemy lines, Joey is captured by the Germans and embarks on a momentous journey in the company of a young soldier called Gunther (David Kross) and a French girl (Celine Buckens) and her grandfather (Niels Arestrup). Based on Michael Morpurgo's book, War Horse is a sweeping drama that harnesses director Steven Spielberg's virtuosity. The film-maker conjures some breathtaking images, such as the deaths of two characters by firing squad, which are obscured from view at the crucial moment by the tilting sail of a windmill. Scenes in the trenches recall the pyrotechnic-laden hell of Saving Private Ryan and a pivotal scene of Joey ensnared in barbed wire in no man's land during the Second Battle of The Somme is genuinely horrifying. Irvine is an endearing and steadfast hero, willing to die for his beloved horse, and the supporting cast embraces the script's earthy humour and sentimentality. Invariably, the four-legged stars canter away with our tear-stained affections.
Rating: **** Four (Cert 15, 84 mins, High Fliers Video Distribution, Thriller, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £15.99) Starring: Craig Conway, Kierston Wareing, Sean Pertwee, Martin Compston, George Morris.
A businessman (Craig Conway) discovers that his wife (Kierston Wareing) has made a mockery of their wedding vows by taking a lover (Martin Compston). Consumed with rage, the cuckold decides to wreak revenge by hiring a seedy detective (Sean Pertwee) to kidnap his wife's lover and teach the younger man a lesson he won't forget in the confines of a remote warehouse, where no one will hear the screams for help. However, the hare-brained plan spirals out of control when the cheating wife is also delivered to the warehouse, and she unleashes unbridled rage. Hell hath no fury like a kidnapped woman scorned. John Langridge makes his feature directorial debut with this darkly comic thriller penned by Paul Chronnell and evidently, both have been on a strict diet of Quentin Tarantino: one character even references Reservoir Dogs as his favourite film. Comparisons between the award-winning 1992 bloodbath and this low budget four-hander extend only as far as the warehouse setting, profusion of expletives and potent threat of violence. Four is malnourished on the page and the screen, relying on the tight-knit ensemble cast to wring emotion out of thin air. There is a pleasing rhythm to some of the verbal jousting and Wareing embraces her role as a vindictive harpy with gusto but she can only spit so much venom at the other cardboard characters before our finger starts hovering with boredom over the mute button.