DVD Review - October 22

7:00am Saturday 22nd October 2011

A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith.

New to rent on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Green Lantern (Cert 12, 114 mins, Warner Home Video, Action/Sci-Fi/Romance/Comedy, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99/3D Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £29.99).

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Geoffrey Rush, Temuera Morrison and the voices of Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan.

When an old adversary called Parallax re-emerges in the Lost Sector, venerated Green Lantern warrior Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) is fatally wounded in the ensuring melee and his ring chooses cocksure United States Air Force test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) as a worthy successor. While Hal is impetuous and weak, he is blessed with humanity and the most important attribute of all: he looks smokin' hot in a skin-tight green bodysuit. Saving the Earth from Parallax puts a dampener on Hal's on-off romance with fellow pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). Alas, the plucky gal has a stalker: scientist Dr Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), who is exposed to a wisp of Parallax's evil and begins to mutate into a hideous harbinger of doom. Torn from the pages of DC Comics, Green Lantern is a special effects-heavy battle of the planets that fails to light up the small screen. Martin Campbell's soulless film casts a dim glow thanks to a smattering of crisp dialogue ("Watch your back," someone warns Hal; "That's impossible," he retorts cheekily) and slick set pieces. Reynolds is the leading actor of his generation when it comes to losing his clothes, regardless of whether his nudity serves any narrative purpose. Here, he wisecracks and flexes his abs without breaking a sweat but he generates pleasing screen chemistry with Lively. As the earthbound villain, Sarsgaard is pitiful rather than insidious, and he looks almost as old as his screen father, Tim Robbins. Terrible dialogue doesn't magically improve when delivered as a rallying cry over James Newton Howard's sweeping orchestral score.

Rating: ** John Carpenter's The Ward (Cert 15, 84 mins, Warner Home Video, Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £22.99) Starring: Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Lyndsy Fonseca, Danielle Panabaker, Laura-Leigh, Jared Harris, Susanna Burney, Dan Anderson, Mika Boorem.

Kristen (Amber Heard) is incarcerated in North Bend Psychiatric Hospital for setting fire to an abandoned farmhouse. She is remanded to the isolation ward under the care of Dr Stringer (Jared Harris) and immediately clashes with dour Nurse Lundt (Susanna Burney) and orderly Roy (Dan Anderson). Kristen soon meets the other patients: self-abusive Emily (Mamie Gummer), talented artist Iris (Lyndsy Fonseca), flirtatious Sarah (Danielle Panabaker) and babyish Zoey (Laura-Leigh), who signals impending doom when she whimpers, "I don't like the dark, bad things happen in the dark!" Late one night, Kristen glimpses a ghostly face staring at her through the window and she senses that something is terribly awry at North Bend. Set in a 1960s mental institution, The Ward commits the cardinal sin of wilfully cheating viewers for the sake of a final reel twist. Unlike The Sixth Sense, which played fair and was jaw-dropping when we discovered the script's immaculate sleight of hand, this spooky tale of things that go bump in the night offers a couple of clues to its convoluted design. However, there is very little reward for outsmarting the writers and the coda is deeply old-fashioned, employing the same primitive shock tactics as director John Carpenter's earlier horror films. Heard delivers a solid lead performance, caught between confusion and terror for most of the film. Similarities to a recent Leonardo DiCaprio thriller, which pulled the same wool over our eyes with infinitely more style, reduce the denouement to a whimper rather than a bang.

Rating: ***

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