A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-Ray
Avengers Assemble (Cert 12, 137 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller/Romance/Comedy, also available to buy DVD £18.99/6 Movie Collection DVD Box Set £39.99/Blu-ray £22.99/3D Blu-ray £25.99/6 Movie Collection Blu-ray Box Set £52.99) Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Thor's evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots to exterminate mankind by harnessing the power of the Tesseract cube. Aided by an army of aliens, Loki steals the artefact from the subterranean headquarters of peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D and enslaves scientist Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and marksman Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). "We are at war," declares Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D, to the dismay of fellow agents Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Desperate times call for innovative measures and Fury scours the globe for the ultimate team of superheroes, uniting the inflated egos and rippling muscles of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Avengers Assemble is a special effects-laden amalgamation of four Marvel Comics franchises, which deftly knits together plot strands from earlier films, threaded with tongue-in-cheek humour. Joss Whedon's frenetic romp doesn't scale the dizzy heights of the original Iron Man but we're thoroughly entertained and energised by his distinctive vision of the Marvel universe. The writer-director gifts many of the best lines to Downey Jr including a belting quip about Thor's olde worlde vernacular. There is also a lovely moment when Thor attempts to defend the actions of Loki, only to learn that his scheming sibling has killed 80 people in two days. "He is adopted," deadpans the hammer-wielding god. Since the cast and script don't take anything too seriously, nor do we. The 3D version of the film is available on Blu-ray and a six-disc box set comprising Avengers Assemble, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor is also available.
Rating: **** Jeff, Who Lives At Home (Cert 15, 79 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £12.99) Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Rae Dawn Chong, Evan Ross.
Thirty-something layabout Jeff (Jason Segel) lives in the basement of his mother's home, where he rhapsodises about the Mel Gibson sci-fi thriller Signs, convinced that the universe has big plans for him. A wrong caller asking for someone named Kevin sparks Jeff's febrile imagination and the waster becomes convinced that the intended recipient of the call is pivotal to his destiny. During a city-wide search for the elusive Kevin, Jeff helps his brother Pat (Ed Helms) to patch up his marriage to Linda (Judy Greer) with a spot of covert surveillance. Meanwhile, their mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon) hunts for a secret admirer at her workplace, who keeps instant messaging compliments to her PC. Jeff, Who Lives At Home is an engaging portrait of lives in a rut that mines a rich vein of earthy humour, distinguished by flowing, naturalistic dialogue and winning performances from an impressive ensemble cast. Segel and Helms are extremely well matched as brothers from opposite ends of a shallow gene pool. Humour and heartfelt emotion are happy bedfellows, especially when the dysfunctional characters speak from their aching hearts, like Jeff berating Pat and Sharon, "You and mum will never understand me and you're all I have left." Equally gorgeous is a tender sequence involving the brothers' lovesick mom, who has always dreamt of being kissed beneath a waterfall. In the hands of another director, this bold romantic overture might have jarred but it works beautifully here, illuminated by Sarandon's warm and unselfconscious portrayal.
Rating: **** Also released Cafe De Flore (Cert 15, 115 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99 - see below) Silent House (Cert 15, 82 mins, Studio Canal, Thriller/Horror, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99 - see below) New to buy on DVD/Blu-Ray Glee - The Complete Season Three (Cert 12, 924 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £39.99/Seasons One To Three DVD Box Set £84.99/Blu-ray £44.99, Musical/Comedy/Drama/Romance) Six-disc box set of 22 episodes of the award-winning teen musical comedy, chronicling the trials and tribulations of staff at pupils at William McKinley High School. This series, teacher Mr Schue (Matthew Morrison) needs to recruit more singers for the club and he is delighted when Blaine (Darren Criss) transfers to the school so he can be with boyfriend Kurt (Chris Colfer). Acid-tongued Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) continues her skullduggery, attempting to sabotage the glee club as she runs for congress. Meanwhile, Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith) and the gang rehearse for the 2012 National Championships in Chicago, where they will be judged by a celebrity panel including blogger extraordinaire Perez Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. A 20-disc box set comprising series one to three is also available.
Silent House (Cert 15, 82 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99, Thriller/Horror) Chris Kentis and Laura Lau co-direct this English language remake of the South American psychological thriller The Silent House (La Casa Muda) by Gustavo Hernandez, based on a true story that took place in a small village in Uruguay. The film purports to be shot in a single uninterrupted take to heighten the illusion of real terror in real time. Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) and her father John (Adam Trese) agree to renovate a cottage she hasn't seen for years. Following a visit from her uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) and a childhood friend, Sarah settles down for the night with her old man so they can make an early start to the work. They are woken by strange noises and John goes downstairs to investigate. Sarah waits patiently for him to return but as the seconds tick agonisingly by, she must venture into the darkness to discover the secrets of the old house.
A Mother's Son (Cert 15, 92 mins, ITV Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Thriller/Drama) A parent wrestles with the horrifying possibility that her son is a murderer in this gripping two-part psychological thriller, which recently broadcast on ITV 1. Rosie Haleton (Hermione Norris) is happy with her second husband, Ben Harley (Martin Clunes). All seems well until the lifeless body of a schoolgirl is found in a nearby Suffolk village and Rosie discovers blood-splattered trainers under the bed of her son Jamie (Alexander Arnold). She refuses to believe that her beloved Jamie could be involved and confides in ex-husband David (Paul McGann), who agrees to follow the lad and soothe Rosie's fear. David learns that Jamie has been hanging around with an older lad, Sean Christie (Josef Altin), who was once arrested for sexual assault. Convinced that Sean must be the murderer, Rosie and David search for evidence to pin the blame on their chief suspect. Meanwhile, Jamie's alibi comes under close scrutiny and Ben's son Rob (Jake Davies) begins to behave erratically, as if something is weighing on his mind.
Cafe De Flore (Cert 15, 115 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £15.99, Drama) Parallel storylines collide with shocking consequences in this perplexing drama from writer-director Jean-Marc Vallee. Single mother Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis) is dedicated to her young son Laurent (Marin Gerrier), who was born with Down's syndrome. While the father may have fled the scene, Jacqueline has stood by Laurent and happily fights his corner to ensure that he stands the best chance of integrating into society. Elsewhere, handsome forty-something DJ Antoine (Kevin Parent) travels the world, playing electrifying sets to his fans, but always returning to his sweetheart Rose (Evelyne Brochu) and their two children. Fates entwine, revealing dark secrets that threaten to push one parent over the edge.
Anton Corbijn: Inside Out (Cert 15, 81 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Documentary) Dutch photographer and music video director Corbijn has immortalised some of the music industry's brightest stars in still and moving images, often in striking black and white. He has captured the energy and imagination of Bjork, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode, Echo And The Bunnymen, Joy Division, Morrissey, Simple Minds, Siouxsie And The Banshees and U2. More recently, he segued seamlessly into films, helming the award-winning biopic of Ian Curtis, Control, and slow-burning thriller The American, headlining George Clooney. Director Klaartje Quirijns attempts to understand the man behind the plaudits in this feature-length documentary, which interviews Corbijn, his family and friends and captures him at work during the exciting transitional period from the small to the big screen.
Tortoise In Love (Cert 12, 80 mins, Lace Digital Media Sales, DVD £15.99, Comedy/Drama) Proving that filmmaking is a group effort, Tortoise In Love is a homemade romantic comedy financed and created largely by the residents of the leafy Oxfordshire village of Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor. Microbiologist Tom (Tom Mitchelson) grows disillusioned with life in the laboratory so he quits and moves back home, where he secures work as a gardener on a large estate, working alongside long-suffering grounds keeper, Albert (Mike Kemp). Tom has always preferred plants to people so when beautiful Polish au pair Anya (Alice Zawadzki) arrives for the summer, he is painfully unable to declare his feelings. Cheeky tyke Harry (Tom Yates), who stays at the stately home during summers away from boarding school, becomes Tom's confidant in matters of the heart and the boy resolves to help the gardener win Anya's affections.
Covert Affairs - Season Two (Cert 12, 656 mins, Universal Playback, DVD £24.99, Thriller/Drama) CIA operative Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) continues to gather valuable intelligence for her blind handler August Anderson (Christopher Gorham), a special ops agent who lost his sight during a top-secret mission in Iraq, in 16 episodes of the popular US spy drama. This series, Annie's older sister Danielle (Anne Dudek) is unexpectedly placed in harm's way when she is mistaken for a spy, while former analyst Reva Kline (Jaimie Alexander) begins working in the field. Also, Annie cross paths with Mossad agent Eyal Lavin (Oded Fehr), and her cover story as a member of the acquisitions team at the Smithsonian Museum leads to an intriguing proposition from an MI6 operative (Tony Curran).
A Town Called Eureka - Season 4.5 (Cert 12, 473 mins, Universal Playback, DVD £22.99, Sci-Fi/Comedy) Three-disc box set comprising the remaining 11 episodes from the fourth series of the science fiction drama set in a top-secret haven for geniuses. Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) and Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra) have returned from 1947 to the present day, where preparations are underway for a mission launch to the planet Titan. The deepening relationship between Carter and Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) comes under close scrutiny, Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) is accidentally sent to Titan by a ship malfunction and Jo decides the time has come to leave town. The DVD includes "Lift Off", "Reprise", "Glimpse", "Up In The Air", "Omega Girls", "Of Mites and Men", "Clash Of The Titans", "This One Time At Space Camp...", "One Small Step", "One Giant Leap", "Do You See What I See".
Beneath The Darkness (Cert 15, 92 mins, Anchor Bay Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Thriller) Ely (Dennis Quaid) works as the mortician in a close-knit Texas town, where he is held in high esteem following the death of his wife Rosemary (Amber Bartlett). The loss makes Ely somewhat reclusive and in the safety of his funeral home, dark thoughts fester. Local teenager Travis (Tony Oller), who has believed in the supernatural since the untimely death of his baby sister, senses that something spectral lurks in the funeral home. So he and three friends embark on a ghost hunt and stumble upon Ely in a dark mood. The mortician kills one of the quartet and the other three teenagers flee but their pleas for help are dismissed by the police when Ely offers a plausible cover story to debunk the youngsters' wild allegations. Thus Travis, Abby (Aimee Teegarden) and Danny (Devon Werkheiser) join forces to expose Ely as a deadly predator.
Les Enfants Du Paradis (The Restored Edition) (Cert PG, 182 mins, Second Sight Films, DVD £19.99, Romance/Drama) A welcome re-release of Marcel Carne's 1945 epic, made during the Nazi occupation of France, released in a lovingly restored two-disc edition laden with featurettes and extras. Mime artist Jean-Baptiste Debureau (Jean-Louis Barrault) falls under the spell of beautiful actress Claire Reine (Arletty), who is known around town as Garance, but fate conspires to keep them apart. She is falsely accused of a theft perpetrated by Pierre-Francois Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand) and is rescued from further embarrassment by her wealthy protector Count Eduard of Monteray (Louis Salou). Meanwhile, an actress called Nathalie (Maria Casares) falls for Jean-Baptiste and in the years they are apart, Jean-Baptiste and Garance embark on relationships with Nathalie and the Count respectively. When chance allows their paths to converge once more, Baptiste and Garance find their way back to each other, but they now have other people's feelings to consider.
Victorious - Season One, Volume Two (Cert PG, 235 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £9.99, Comedy/Musical/Drama) Aspiring singer Tori Vega (Victoria Justice) continues to chase fame and fortune at the prestigious Hollywood Arts High School in nine episodes of the teen-oriented Nickelodeon comedy, which has been cast in the same mould as Hannah Montana. In these instalments, Tori becomes jealous when Cat (Ariana Grande) starts dating her ex-boyfriend Danny (Matt Angel), musician Andre (Leon Thomas III) is delighted when a new reality TV shows arrives at the school and teacher Mr Sikowitz (Eric Lange) gives his pupils a harsh lesson in method acting. The two-disc DVD includes "The Great Ping-Pong Scam", "Cat's New Boyfriend", "Freak The Freak Out", "Rex Dies", "The Diddly-Bops", "Wok Star", "The Wood", "A Film By Dale Squires" and "Sleepover At Sikowitz's".