A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
Snow White & The Huntsman (Cert 12, 122 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Action/Romance/Comedy, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray £29.99)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, Brian Gleeson, Noah Huntley.
Scheming sorceress Ravenna (Charlize Theron) seizes the throne by killing her husband King Magnus (Noah Huntley) and incarcerates her step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in the north tower. The plucky heroine escapes Ravenna's clutches and the queen's slimy brother, Finn (Sam Spruell), then heads into the aptly named Dark Forest, where Ravenna's magic holds no sway. So the queen hires a Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track down Snow White and deliver the girl to her grim fate. However, he too falls under the escapee's spell and agrees to help Snow White overthrow Ravenna with the assistance of childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) and eight pint-sized former miners - Beith (Ian McShane), Muir (Bob Hoskins), Gort (Ray Winstone), Nion (Nick Frost), Duir (Eddie Marsan), Coll (Toby Jones), Quert (Johnny Harris) and Gus (Brian Gleeson). Snow White & The Huntsman is a sweeping re-imagination of the Brothers Grimm fairytale that sadly overstays its welcome. The flimsy plot strains to fill 122 minutes so there are noticeable longueurs, which director Rupert Sanders fills with a hallucinogenic magic mushroom sequence and a chaste romance twixt Stewart and strapping Hemsworth. Theron adopts an icy glare as the slinky villainess, looking fabulous in Colleen Atwood's ravishing costumes, augmented by slick digital effects that transform the evil queen into a flock of ravens or visualise the voice of the mirror as a shape-shifting mass of molten metal. Humour is fleeting so it's left to the gung-ho dwarfs to inject welcome comic relief at the film's midway point, using their diminutive stature to their advantage in the well-orchestrated battles.
Moonrise Kingdom (Cert 12, 89 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban.
Resourceful orphan Sam (Jared Gilman) is the least popular member of his Khaki Scout troop, which is run with military precision by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton). The boy elopes with pen pal Suzy (Kara Hayward), who shares her lighthouse home with parents Walt (Bill Murray) and Laura (Frances McDormand) and three brothers. Sam is well prepared for the expedition with a tent and trusty pen-knife but Suzy chooses to pack her hardback books and a battery-powered record player. The youngsters head for the beach. Meanwhile, Walt and Laura implore local cop Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) to find their daughter. While Walt becomes increasingly unsettled - "Our daughter has been abducted by one of these beige lunatics!" - Ward and his troop join the hunt, determined to find Sam before Social Services (Tilda Swinton) lands on the island to take the boy into care. Moonrise Kingdom is a tender love story set in writer-director Wes Anderson's trademark world of heightened artificiality. From the meticulously choreographed opening sequence inside a family home set to the bombastic strains of Benjamin Britten, which employs 90-degree spins and smooth tracking shots to reduce the multi-storey property to a doll's house of activity, the film is bewitching. The script, co-written by Roman Coppola, is peppered with delicious turns of phrase and mordant humour, and refuses to kowtow to expectations. Newcomers Gilman and Hayward are magnificent, capturing the vulnerability, steeliness and sweet affection of their runaways. A-list co-stars invest their roles with larger-than-life qualities, including Willis whose perpetual smirk rather suits his bumbling man of the law.
2 Days In New York (Cert 15, 91 mins, Network, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Starring: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Owen Shipman, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon, Vincent Gallo.
Neurotic artist Marion (Julie Delpy) is no longer romantically entangled with Jack (the unseen Adam Goldberg). She is happily ensconced in New York with radio DJ Mingus (Chris Rock) and her young son Lulu (Owen Shipman), who affectionately refers to the new beau as "fake daddy". A visit from Marion's papa (Albert Delpy), sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and Rose's pot-smoking partner Manu (Alex Nahon) begins badly when the two men are stopped at US customs, attempting to smuggle 10 sausages and eight cheeses into the country in their undergarments. The dysfunctional clan's arrival coincides with Marion's forthcoming exhibition of photographs, which will culminate in her making an existential statement by selling her soul to the highest bidder. As opening night approaches, tensions escalate in Marion and Mingus's cramped apartment. 2 Days In New York is a scatter-shot and sporadically amusing culture clash comedy which lacks the bonhomie of its predecessor, 2 Days In Paris. The script bids adieu to subtlety, targeting cultural stereotypes for cheap and easy laughs. The relationship between Delpy and new on-screen partner Rock strains credibility because there is scant evidence that such wildly different personalities would ever find romance in each other's arms. Indeed, Rock catalyses more screen chemistry with the cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama, which becomes a confidant of sorts in time of stress. Delpy's real-life father and European co-stars reprise their roles with ease, while Rock looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights as his character's life is turned on its head. A cameo from indie auteur Vincent Gallo as himself is a wasted opportunity, which epitomises the film as a whole.
The Pact (Cert 15, 88 mins, Entertainment One, Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Bruckner, Mark Steger.
Nicole (Agnes Bruckner) wanders around her deceased mother's creepy house in Los Angeles, a laptop computer in hand as she makes a video call to her daughter and younger sister Annie (Caity Lotz), who refuses to step inside the property. The little girl signals the start of the nastiness, asking sweetly, "Mummy, who's that behind you?" Nicole spins around, alarmed. A nervous peek inside a closet that adjoins the lounge is the last we see of her. Soon after, ballsy biker chick Annie enters the fray, rightly concerned about the lack of contact with her sibling. Strange noises, flickering lights and an unexplained break-in lead to the realisation that something is terribly wrong in the house. So Annie asks local police detective Creek (Casper Van Dien) to investigate. Unfortunately for us, The Pact is expanded from Nicholas McCarthy's 11-minute short film of the same name and the writer-director runs out of ideas and dramatic momentum well before the bells have chimed on the first hour. The script has no room for common sense and the denouement hastily introduces an old relative (Mark Steger) from the sisters' poisonous family tree. Lotz, Van Dien and co are forgettable. Hoary tropes of the genre such as creaky doors which open without warning and silhouetted figures that stand unseen behind the hapless characters are traded for cheap shocks. The jolts are sporadically effective but we're savvy enough to second guess where McCarthy will take us next and the nasty surprises that could be lurking around the next poorly lit corridor.
The Babymakers (Cert 15, 91 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £12.99 - see below)
Casa De Mi Padre (Cert 15, 80 mins, Studio Canal, Comedy/Western/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
Cross Of Honour (Cert 15, 100 mins, Metrodome Distribution, War/Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
Six Bullets (Cert 15, 110 mins, Studio Canal, Action/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
Twenty8k (Cert 15, 101 mins, Showbox Media, Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
Victim (Cert 15, 82 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, Thriller/Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99 - see below)
New to buy on DVD/Blu-Ray
The Only Way Is Essex - Series 5 (Cert 15, 380 mins, 4DVD, DVD £19.99, Drama/Documentary)
There are tears and tantrums aplenty in these 10 episodes of the Bafta award-winning docu-soap. Billie, Cara and Arg put their bodies on the line to compete in the London Marathon, Gemma's relationship with Charlie ends in grief when he learns that she has been secretly sexting Ricky, and romance blossoms at a Diamond Jubilee party when two friends confess they have been holding a torch for each other. Then, in a special episode entitled The Only Way Is Marbs, filmed on location in Spain, Mario proposes to Lucy, tempers fray and Tinchy Stryder makes a guest appearance as himself.
Casa De Mi Padre (Cert 15, 80 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Comedy/Western/Romance)
Matt Piedmont directs this spoof Spanish-language telenovela, which pokes fun at the artificial sets and stilted dialogue of the genre to explore the rivalry between two brothers as they compete for the affections of their old man. Armando (Will Ferrell) has always been the black sheep of his dysfunctional clan, never able to emerge from the shadows of his younger brother Raul (Diego Luna). Their father Miguel Ernesto (Pedro Armendariz Jr) has always lavished praise on Raul, creating a natural divide between the heirs apparent. Tensions escalate when Raul returns to the family homestead with his beautiful fiancee Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), who stirs long-dormant feelings in Armando. Should the older sibling declare his love for Sonia or, as usual, holster his pistol and lurk in the shadows?
Modern Family - The Complete Third Season (Cert 12, 493 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £27.99/Seasons 1-3 DVD Box Set £49.99/Blu-ray £38.99/Seasons 1-3 Blu-ray Box Set £67.99, Comedy/Romance)
Four-disc box set of all 24 episodes of the Emmy award-winning mockumentary chronicling the misadventures of a multicultural Los Angeles family. This series, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) announce they are planning another child but the news isn't greeted with universal joy. Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is inspired by her friend Shorty (Chazz Palminteri) and his girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) to drag her husband Jay (Ed O'Neill) to salsa dancing classes. Meanwhile, Phil (Ty Burrell) and his wife Claire (Julie Bowen) contend with the rollercoaster emotions of their brood. An 11-disc box set comprising all three series is also available.
Doctor Who: The Ambassadors Of Death (Cert U, 174 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99, Sci-Fi/Drama/Thriller)
The return of the spaceship Mars Probe 7 sparks a deadly conspiracy in this seven-part adventure originally broadcast in 1970. Eight months after the ship lost contact with Earth, Professor Ralph Cornish (Ronald Allen) and his team spearhead a recovery mission to unravel the fate of the two astronauts on board Mars Probe 7. A signal emanating from the surface of the red planet piques the interest of The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and his plucky assistant Liz Shaw (Caroline John) but their efforts to delve further into the coded transmissions are hampered by government forces. Aided by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), the Time Lord attempts to discover the truth about the probe's disappearance.
Victim (Cert 15, 82 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99, Thriller/Drama)
Alex Pillai directs this gritty story of violence and redemption on the streets of south London. Tyson (Ashley Chin), the leader of a gang of thugs, is constantly breaking the law to pay off his mother's gambling debts and keep a roof over the head of his teenage sister Nyla (Letitia Wright). He has one big job lined up that could be the answer to his financial woes but he's distracted by the arrival of country girl Tia (Ashley Madekwe), who has come to the capital to spend the summer with her cousin - gang member Davina (Anna Nightingale). Tia's influence shifts the balance of power within the posse and provides Tyson with a glimpse of a better life, free from intimidation and brutality. However, escape from the streets comes at a price.
Cross Of Honour (Cert 15, 100 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, War/Drama)
Based on a true story, Cross Of Honour chronicles the tension between British and German airmen who found themselves stuck in the same log cabin in the bitterly cold Norwegian wilderness. Lieutenant Horst Schopis (Florian Lukas) and his comrades Wolfgang Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff) and Josef Schwartz (David Kross) are shot down over Scandinavia by the Allies and they stumble through the snow to a ramshackle cabin, which provides them with shelter from the elements. Soon after, Captain Charles Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) and gunner Robert Smith (Rupert Grint), the men who shot down the Germans, arrive at the same log cabin also seeking shelter. The Germans claim the Britons as prisoners of war and consign them to one half of the cabin, keeping a gun trained on Davenport and Smith. However, to survive the extreme conditions, the sworn enemies must work together and an unexpected bond is formed between the men as conflict rages around them.
Spartacus: Vengeance (Cert 18, 540 mins, Anchor Home Entertainment, DVD £39.99/The Complete Collection DVD Box Set £69.99/Blu-ray £49.99/The Complete Collection DVD Box Set £84.99, Action/Drama)
Following the death of lead actor Andy Whitfield, Liam McIntyre takes over the role of the legendary gladiator in this lavish 10-part historical drama. Spartacus leads the gladiator rebellion, which sends shockwaves through Rome. Praetor Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker) is charged with crushing the uprising before the gladiators can inflict greater damage and he moves quickly to stroke down Spartacus and the men who proudly stand beside him. A six-disc box set comprising the prequel series Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena, Spartacus: Blood And Sand and Spartacus: Vengeance is also available.
Bones - The Complete Seventh Season (Cert 15, 546 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £34.99/Blu-ray £44.99/The Complete Seasons 1-7 DVD Box Set £129.99, Thriller/Drama/Romance)
Four-disc box set comprising another 11 episodes of the popular crime drama based on the best-selling books by Kathy Reichs. FBI agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) are looking forward to the birth of their child but impending parenthood puts a strain on the working relationship. Special Agent Genny Shaw (Tina Majorino) lends her expertise to the team but nothing can prepare Booth and Brennan for the twisted genius of Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds), a suspect from their past, who comes before the parole board and vociferously petitions for an early release. A 39-disc box set, comprising all seven series, is also available.
Twenty8k (Cert 15, 101 mins, Showbox Media, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Thriller/Drama)
A sister risks her life to prove her brother's innocence in this timely thriller penned by Bafta award-winning writer Paul Abbott (Shameless, State Of Play) and Jimmy Dowdall. Deeva Jani (Parminder Nagra) is a fashion designer based in Paris who has loosened some of her family ties to pursue her dreams on catwalks around the world. However, when her teenage brother Vipon (Sebastian Nanena) is arrested for a fatal gang shooting in east London and the victim's family threatens bloody retribution, Deeva drops everything to race home and help her loved ones come to terms with their predicament. With limited assistance from DCI Edward Stone (Stephen Dillane), the police officer in charge of the case, Deeva is compelled to unravel the truth about the shooting herself and prove her brother's innocence before he suffers a tragic fate behind bars.
Breaking Bad - The Complete Fourth Season (Cert 15, 590 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £29.99, Drama/Comedy)
Four-disc set comprising 13 episodes of the Emmy award-winning drama, following the exploits of high school chemistry teacher Walt (Bryan Cranston) and ex-student Jesse (Aaron Paul), whose crystal meth business goes from strength to strength. The murder of chemist Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) at the end of last series has dramatic repercussions for the business partners as Walt's DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank (Dean Norris), gathers incriminating evidence to secure a conviction. Tensions between Walt and meth distributor Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) literally explode and Skyler (Anna Gunn) is taken into protective custody.
90210 - The Complete Fourth Season (Cert 15, 960 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £34.99, Drama/Romance)
Annie (Shenae Grimes) and her brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds) discover life after high school is no walk into the park in the fourth series of the glossy teen soap. Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord) is recovering emotionally from her break-up with Max, Teddy (Trevor Donovan) musters the courage to come out to his parents, Liam (Matt Lanter) is offered a modelling contract and Caleb (Robert Hoffman) struggles to cope with a secret from Annie's past. The six-disc box set includes all 24 episodes.
The Hollow Crown (Cert 12, 520 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £29.99, Drama/War/Thriller)
Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston headline these four adaptations of Shakespeare's History Plays, which broadcast on BBC Two in June and July this year. Beginning in the year 1399, the four episodes unfold over a turbulent 16-year period during which Richard II (Whishaw), Henry IV (Irons) and Henry IV (Hiddleston) must face serious challenges to their rule, thwart rebellions and lead their people into bloody conflict. Simon Russell Beale, Lindsay Duncan, Rory Kinnear and Julie Walters co-star.
The Babymakers (Cert 15, 91 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Comedy/Romance)
A married man hatches an ingenious plan to make his wife pregnant in Jay Chandrasekhar's hare-brained comedy of errors. Tommy (Paul Schneider) and Audrey (Olivia Munn) decide they want to have children but despite their best efforts, she fails to fall pregnant. A visit to a doctor reveals that Tommy's sperm count is too low for them to conceive naturally, which comes as a massive blow to the husband, who used to donate sperm regularly in his youth. With this in mind, Tommy has a brainwave: he will steal some of his old sperm from the clinic and give Audrey the child of her dreams. Tommy enlists the services of his good friends Wade (Kevin Heffernan) and Zig-Zag (Nat Faxon) plus hired professional Ron Jon (Chandrasekhar) to stage the heist and, predictably, the loopy plan unravels at frightening speed.
Six Bullets (Cert 15, 110 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Action/Thriller)
Jean-Claude Van Damme flexes his muscles with typical gusto in Ernie Barbarach's testosterone-fuelled action thriller. Mixed martial arts fighter Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan) is on a trip to Eastern Europe with his beloved daughter Becky (Charlotte Beaumont) when the teenage girl is kidnapped from under his nose. Conscious that time is of the essence, Fayden calls in ace retrieval expert Samson Gaul (Van Damme) to track down the men responsible and make them pay for their actions. Gaul leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of Becky, killing anyone who stands in his way with ruthless efficiency.
Monsieur Lazhar (Cert 12, 91 mins, Soda Pictures, DVD £17.99, Drama)
Philippe Falardeau's moving drama was nominated as Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards. A Montreal middle school is shaken to its foundations when one of its most popular and talented teachers takes her own life. The school board hires Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Said Fellag) as a substitute teacher, unaware of the deep emotional wounds of his past. He slowly bonds with the children, who are in mourning and don't really understand why their former teacher abandoned them. Over time, the youngsters help Bachir to heal his emotional wounds and accept the loss of his wife and child in horrific circumstances.
Arachnoquake (Cert 15, 83 mins, Signature Entertainment, DVD £9.99/Blu-ray £12.99, Action/Horror/Thriller)
Arachnophobes take cover because giant, fire-breathing spiders are on the loose in Griff Furst's campy TV monster movie. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans suffers more torment when a powerful earthquake unleashes an army of rapidly multiplying arachnids on the city. The creatures swarm over the population, sending the few survivors scurrying for cover. Katelynn (Tracey Gold) and Charlie (Edward Furlong) are among the lucky few to escape the initial wave of attacks and they must find a way out of the city without being devoured.
I Just Want My Pants Back - Season One (Cert 15, 243 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £24.99, Comedy/Romance)
Jason Strider (Peter Vack) and his friends Eric (Jordan Carlos), Stacey (Elisabeth Hower) and Tina (Kim Shaw) endure the trials and tribulations of life in Brooklyn in the first series of this US comedy. The four pals believe they can coast through their days using the minimum effort, but fate has other ideas and when a sexy stranger steals Jason's trousers, the quest to recover his clothes and possessions propels the slacker on to an exciting new path. The two-disc set includes all 12 episodes.
DVD and Blu-Ray retail top 10
1 (-) Avengers Assemble
2 (1) American Pie: Reunion
3 (-) Avengers Assemble - 6 Movie Collection
4 (3) The Hunger Games
5 (2) The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists
6 (4) Safe
7 (-) Glee - The Complete Third Season
8 (8) Battleship
9 (5) Titanic
10 (-) Despicable Me
Chart supplied by hmv.com
DVD rental top 10
1 (3) Salmon Fishing In The Yemen
2 (8) Safe
3 (1) American Pie: Reunion
4 (2) 21 Jump Street
5 (4) Battleship
6 (5) Lockout
7 (7) Contraband
8 (-) Avengers Assemble
9 (6) The Raid
10 (1) The Raven
Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk