Tuesday 19 January 2010

DVD Reviews

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Available from 25th January - £19.99 (DVD) and £22.99 (DVD & Blu-ray Combo)
Review by Brad Harmer

When Flint Lockwood's latest contraption accidentally destroys the town square and rockets up into the clouds, he thinks his inventing career is over. Then, something amazing happens as delicious cheeseburgers start raining from the sky. His machine actually works! But when people greedily ask for more and more food, the machine starts to run amok, unleashing spaghetti tornadoes and giant meatballs that threaten the world! Now it's up to Flint with the help of weather girl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris – Scary Movie 2, Just Friends) and Steve, his talking monkey assistant, to find some way to shut down the machine before the world is covered in super-sized meatballs!

The concept sounds ridiculous, but here’s the thing – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is nothing other than unbridled awesomeness. It’s touching, hilarious, heartwarming and exciting, all in one.

Bundle that in with some of the best animation seen recently, and it’s a real winning formula. The animation is nothing short of astonishing, blending traditional “cartoon” looking characters and environments with incredibly realistic water and fire effects.

As usual with these sort of movies, it functions on two levels, pure cartoon entertainment for the kids, and some excellent one-liners, references and burns for the adult audience. You can think of this as a sci-fi movie for the kids, or one of the most original ways to do a romantic-comedy ever – it works.

Also, two of the actors are Bruce Campbell and Mr. T. If that final point doesn’t make you want to see it, nothing will.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some slapstick pratfalls and explosions.
Sex/Nudity: Some geeky and clumsy kissing. Steve is nude for the entire movie. A male character insists on walking around in just an adult nappy and flip-flops.
Swearing: None
Summary: An truly excellent sci-fi comedy – amazing in every way. 10/10

Dorian Gray
Oliver Parker
Momentum Pictures

Available Now - £17.99 (DVD) and £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Based on the novel by Oscar Wilde, and set in Victorian London, Dorian Gray tells the story of a handsome young gentleman who remains eternally young while a portrait of him grows old. Dorian Gray is a handsome and charming young man whose obsession with his own physical beauty leads him to do some very ugly things. Having just arrived in London, he is keen to experience the seedy pleasures the city has to offer. However, concerned about the effects a life of hedonism might have upon his youthful looks, he enlists a painter to capture his likeness on canvas, wishing that the portrait suffer the ravages of time, while he remains eternally young.

Such is his vanity that Dorian is willing to sacrifice his very soul in order to pervert the course of nature. An orgy of sin and debauchery ensues, led by the nefarious Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth – Dutch Girls, Apartment Zero), in whom Dorian naively places all his trust. When true love enters the frame, Dorian struggles to hide the secret behind his eternal youth and is forced to look deep within himself, beyond the shimmering surface, to re-discover his own humanity. But is the love of a good woman enough to wipe clean his many transgressions or has he fallen too far to be saved?

This latest adaptation of Dorian Gray is real wasted opportunity. The acting is excellent, with no one letting the side down anywhere. The music is stirring and fitting. The special effects are pretty good – they certainly do what needs to be done. The cinematograph is nothing short of amazing at several key moments. Unfortunately, this is all filtered and watered down by a truly slow and terrible screenplay. And some dopey foley work, but I could have forgiven that.

The movie starts out paced well, but by about the half-way mark it’s dragging its feet, with what feels like a ten minute montage of softcore sequences, and about three-quarters of the way in throws in some unlikely action sequences to try and wake itself up.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Stabbings, shootings, dismembered corpses...
Sex/Nudity: Several scenes of all matters nude and risqué. Lots of boobies.
Swearing: Virtually none, but modern standards.
Summary: A lot of good potential, ruined by a rather badly paced screenplay. Worth a watch if nothing else is on. 6/10

Night of the Comet
Thom Eberhardt
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Posing the ultimate question, “What would it be like to be the last people alive on Earth?”, Night of the Comet tells the story of sisters Reggie and Samantha, two valley girls swept up in worldwide celebrations marking Earth moving through the orbit of a passing comet, an event not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. After a tempestuous night that sees Reggie trapped in a cinema and her sister sleeping in a trashcan, they awake to find the comet has turned anyone directly exposed into red carbon dust, with the remainder slowly disintegrating into flesh-eating zombies. Attracted by a local radio broadcast they head to the station to look for survivors, picking up local drifter Hector along the way.

As the zombies multiply around them they also find themselves attracting the attention of a group of diabolical scientists, who realise the girls are their only hope for testing an antidote to save themselves.

Night of the Comet is a strange half-parody. It half-heartedly lampoons the sci-fi B-Movies of the fifties, mostly The Last Man on Earth, but also wants itself to be taken seriously. The final, somewhat mixed, result is that of a Bubblegum Post Apocalypse movie – possibly the only one not to be an anime. It’s a ridiculous genre car-crash of horror, comedy, sci-fi and 80s teen movie. It’s The Breakfast Club of the Dead from Mars.

With all that said, the individual set pieces work. The comedy scenes are funny. The horror scenes are, if not terrifying, then certainly liable to make you jump a few times. My only criticism really is its lack of identity (which is somehow compensated for by its charm), and the way it leaps from adversary to adversary with no real connection (parents, zombies, Mad Max style gangs, scientists...).

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some scuffles, gunplay and fisticuffs.
Sex/Nudity: Some intimated sex scenes, but nothing explicit.
Swearing: Some mild uses.
Summary: A rather odd, but strangely satisfying sci-fi comedy. 7/10

Amanda (Susan George) occasionally babysits for friends and neighbours, so when newly arrived village couple Helen (Honor Blackman) and Jim (George Cole) ask her to look after their baby whilst they go out for dinner, she accepts. But when the baby is asleep and the parents have left, the house adopts a claustophobic air of menace. The simplest domestic sound becomes an assault on the nerves: the relentless tick of the pendulum-clock and the tapping, squeaking, breathing of a high-ceilinged Victorian house in the dead of night...

And when Helen and Jim in conversation with Dr Cordell reveal that her ex-husband Brian isa psychotic, homicidal maniac who tried to kill her, it seems that the air of menace might turn out to be a very real threat indeed...

(Also, interestingly, featuring Dennis Waterman. Presumably writing the theme tune, singing the theme tune...)

Thanks to our friends at Optimum Home Entertainment, we've got five copies of Fright to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to frightgiveaway@rocketmail.com with your name and postal address before midday on Tuesday 26th January (UK time). The first five names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a copy of this awesome movie!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Talk about a blast from the past! My brother and I rented 'Night Of The Comet' one night when we were about twelve/thirteen. I can't remember ever enjoying a movie for the sheer cheese factor more than that! It soon became an ironic benchmark for us when assessing other movies. Many a time you could hear us remark along the lines of 'Sure, 'Goodfellas' is a great movie... but it's no 'Night Of The Comet' is it?'