Tuesday 16 February 2010

DVD Reviews

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever
Starring: Rider Strong, Noah Segan, Alexander Isaiah Thomas
Director: Ti West
Lionsgate UK

Available From 22nd February - £12.99 (DVD), £19.99 (Blu-ray) and £15.99 (Cabin Fever/Cabin Fever 2 DVD Pack)
Review by Brad Harmer

A high-school prom is under threat after a deadly, flesh-eating virus spreads amongst the students. A popular brand of bottled water is contained by a virus that results in the most disgusting and bloody of complaints. As students thirst for the latest trendy water, they have no idea that a flesh-eating bug has contaminated the supply and is going to ravage their bodies. A revolting and humourous body-shock bloodbath follows as they experience bleeding eyes, pus-filled fingernails and rotting bodyparts.

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever delivers gore and gross out humour by the barrel load. If that’s the kind of horror movie that makes you smile, then relax, cause you’ve found a good one. If you like a little more character and plot, then you’re probably already figured that this movie isn’t for you, because it’s a sequel to Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever.

From a technical standpoint, the gore work is fantastic – visceral, satisfying and (when necessary) humorous. Bits drop off, bits spurt pus, foreskins drip (for real), stumps are cauterised, and people explode in a head-on collision with a bus (for real). Taken at face value, it’s silly, but it’s fun, too.

Cabin Fever 2’s main problem is that it never knows when to stop. It’s like that irritating guy at the party who thinks he’s funny because he quotes Family Guy incessantly. The opening credit sequence, presented as a badly animated cartoon sequence outstays its welcome by at least two full minutes. The montage of the kids getting ready for their prom suffers from a similar length problem. The good outweighs the bad, for sure, but the bad is really bad.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some mutilation, combat, and shooting. Someone is exploded by bus in the first minute.
Sex/Nudity: One penis. One blowjob. Not in the same scene.
Swearing: Average for the genre.
Summary: Some clever ideas, which sadly never really amount to anything. On a par with the original. Fans of the first one should enjoy it. 6/10

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God
Starring: Bruce Payne, Mark Dymond, Clemency Burton-Hill
Director: Gerry Lively
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD) and £19.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

When the evil sorcerer Damodar braves a perilous vortex to steal the elemental black orb he declares a sinister plan of vengeance against the kingdom of Ismir. Berek, a decorated warrior, and Melora, an amateur sorceress joinf four heroes representing intelligence, wisdom, honour and strength to battle against Damodar’s growing army of gruesome creatures, flying harpies and an ice dragon in order to reach a vault holding the orb. Together, the team of heroes build their own army to try and retrieve the orb before Damodar summons Falazure, the Dragon God of Decay and Undeath, whose omnipotent powers could lay waste to the entire kingdom.

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God isn’t a bad film. What it is, however, is so clichéd that with a little bit of effort it could have been an excellent parody. Instead, what we have here is a “by the numbers” fantasy adventure. Forest scene? Check. Flashy spells? Check. Orc type things? Check. Dragon? Check.

It’s not even a particularly lazy movie. The costumes are good, the effects are good (considering budget limitations), the actors are okay. It’s more that the central story is so overdone that if you’re in any way into the fantasy genre, you’ve seen it before. And if you’re watching a movie based on Dungeons & Dragons, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that you’re some way into the fantasy the genre.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some spell slinging and sword fighting and death and blood.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A by-the-numbers fantasy adventure that will probably keep D&D fans happy, but will fall far short of impressing the rest of us. 5/10

Death Note: Relight - Volume 1
Manga Entertainment
Available Now - £14.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

When I first heard about Death Note: Relight, I wondered about what they could do that would add to the story, especially as it is being sold as a retelling of the battle between Light Yagami and L, but through the eyes of Ryuk the god of death that set the whole story in motion. I am a huge fan of the original Death Note series and I even liked the live action movie adaptations, even though they did change the plot. However, with Death Note: Relight, I can only say I was disappointed.

For those of you who are unaware of the story behind Death Note, it is the story of Light Yagami, bored with his life and the way things are run whilst he is studying law at school, stumbles upon the Death Note, a notebook that can kill anyone whose name is written in it, and that was dropped into the human world by a god of death or shinigami. Light uses the notebook to kill convicts in order to create a new world free of crime, and that is when the police call in superdetective L to try and capture Light without giving away his identity. Thus begins a tense game of cat and mouse to see who will capture who.

The problem with Relight is that apart from the beginning and the end of the film, there is no original footage. It is just a compressed version of the first three volumes of the series (the battle between Light and L) into a two hour film, so giving that all the episodes work out to be approximately twelve hours of anime awesomeness, it is no surprise that a lot of it has been cut out and leaves large chunks of the film feeling rushed. However, what annoyed me more is that the film is advertised as being from Ryuk’s perspective, yet just shows the story, including the scenes with the police in where you know that Ryuk wasn’t there.

The only good thing to say about Relight is that it is still the same brilliant story and, as it uses footage from the anime, it is more faithful than the live action movies. That and it is cheaper than paying out for the full Death Note box set. But these points aside, Relight is just a cheap cash-in in order to get people to re-buy a story they have already seen, or provide a sub-par version of the story to a new audience. In either case...AVOID!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Lots of death scenes but not large amounts of gore, the film is more about the plot rather than how bloody it can make the deaths.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some swear words but used in a realistic way rather than just shouting cool one liners with lots of swearing for the hell of it (See Black Lagoon).
Summary: There is very little about Death Note Relight that I can recommend to anyone. People who haven’t seen the series may enjoy it and will get the main story, but with so much cut out of it, it would be a lot better to watch the series. And whilst the complete box set is a good £40 more expensive, it is a lot better than this waste of time. 5/10

Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy - Uncensored
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Seth MacFarlane, for those of you who didn’t already know, isn’t the guy who does spiky drawings, invented Spawn, and sculpts action figures of baseball players. That’s Todd McFarlane and there is, as far as I am aware, no relation. In fact, they spell their names differently, so I think it's quite unlikely. Seth MacFarlane is the guy who created Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show and, now, Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. He is, despite the snooty Internet backlash these days, still damn funny.

Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy is basically the first “season” of his YouTube television series. It’s a collection of sketches of varying lengths and hilarity that frequently borders on the offensive, much like the “cutaway” gags in Family Guy.

As with most sketch compilations, the results are hit-and-miss, and it’s unfortunate that with this compilation the ratio is pretty much 50/50. Of course, when it’s funny, it’s very funny. Sketches such as “Sex With Optimus Prime” and “Name That Animal Penis” are great – and the set has been arranged so that there’s not clumps of good and awful, and it maintains a good flow from start to finish.

This is the sort of disc that you’d fish out on a lads night as a dinner filler whilst you munch down some pizza. Funny stuff, but nothing to write home about.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Several comedic and gory deaths.
Sex/Nudity: Several humourous depictions.
Swearing: Frequent and strong.
Summary: A mixed bag of sketches. Worth a watch, but maybe not worth forking out full price for. 6/10

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Volume 3
Seiji Mizushima
Beez Entertainment

Available Now - £34.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

The third volume of the highly acclaimed Mobile Suit Gundam 00 series is back to bring on more robot death and deep involving plotlines that will either bore you or hugely entertain you depending on whether that is your bag or not. Either way, if you are a fan of the series, the third volume will not disappoint you.

The plot carries on from the second volume and concludes the first series of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. The story continues the escapades of Celestial Being and its attempts to bring an end to all war through armed force. However, with the appearance of the three Gundam Thrones, the new Gundam teams methods force the three federations to unite. However, with this new united world, Celestial Being are being torn apart due to differing ideals from within, and it is up to the heroes to adapt to these changes whilst holding their ideals.

Everything that made the first two volumes great is here: Lots of mech death, usually involving laser swords or large cannons of some description. There is also, a deep complex plot with excellent animation and artwork and the end of the series is a great spectacle to behold.

However, the downsides to the previous volume are also the same, as the plot can sometimes get a bit too political and I felt that it detracts from the source of the main enjoyment, which is large robots tearing each other limb from limb. However, when the robot killing is going on, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is superb, and if it turns out you love the plot, then it’s a bonus.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Lots of mech related explosions and destruction. You don’t really see any gore as most deaths involve large explosions.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: some swearing but nothing to really shout about.
Summary: If you liked the series so far, then the 3rd volume will still keep you thoroughly entertained. However, if you didn’t like the first two volumes, then the last volume is unlikely to change your opinion. Still, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 remains a top class mech anime. 8/10

Cabin Fever
Starring: Arie Verveen, Cerina Vincent, Christy Ward
Director: Eli Roth
Lionsgate UK
Available from 22nd February - £15.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

As a last hurrah after college, friends Jeff, Karen, Paul, Mercy and Bert embark on a vacation deep into the mountains. With the top down and the music up, they drive to a remote cabin to enjoy their last days of decadence before entering the working world. Then somebody gets sick.

Karen's skin starts to bubble and burn as something grows inside her, tunneling beneath her flesh. As they debate about how to save her, they look at one another and realize that any one of them could also have it. What began as a struggle against the disease soon turns into a battle against friends, as the fear of contagion drives them to turn on each other...

Cabin Fever is very reminiscent of all the classic exploitation horror movies – The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Long Titles To Fill Out My Word Count, etc. – whether this is because its “referencing” them or because it’s an “unimaginative rip-off” is what divides most viewers of this movie. Sorry to be a party-pooper, but I fall into the second camp.

Cabin Fever is full of all the clichés that were the sucky parts of those exploitation movies and apart from some – to be fair, excellent – gore work, it doesn’t contain any of the harder characteristics of the style. Instead, it blunders into bad Friday the 13th movie territory. Way too much of the plot actively hinges on the cast doing incredibly dumb things, to the collapse of disbelief, and any conflict between the characters feels rather forced...not a hallmark of good writing.

It isn’t all doom and gloom. Despite that fact that the characters are pretty stupid, the actors behind them aren’t, and there are pretty solid performances all round. The re-mastering job on the Blu-ray is excellent, and this is one of the best looking Blu-ray remasters I’ve seen. It’s just a shame that the Blu-ray doesn’t enhance the “quality” of the movie in other ways, too.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some shooting and scuffling. Dog attacks.
Sex/Nudity: A good, healthy amount – typical for the genre.
Swearing: See above.
Summary: A below average movie that was lauded at the time because it was “referential” and “clever” in a Quentin Tarantino type way. Now, it looks more dated than ever. If you’re already a fan, then this re-master will be right up your street. If not, give it a miss. 4/10

Hundreds of Chinese refugees wash up on Japan’s Wakasa Bay. Each has a dream of a better life, but most will encounter only prejudice and oppression. One, a law-abiding farm-worker known as Steelhead (Jackie Chan), has come to find the woman (Xu Jinglei) he has loved since childhood, but his quest ends in bitter rejection when he discovers she has married Yakuza underboss, Eguchi (Masaya Kato).

Heartbroken, his life descends into darkness and petty crime quickly escalates to murder. With blood on his hands, he will risk everything to secure a future for his people, as they face an increasingly brutal onslaught from a criminal empire protected by a secret code. However, ancient traditions will not be broken and his defiance will lead to all-out war as both factions fight for control of the infamous Shinjuku district in the heart of Japan’s greatest city.

Ultimately pursued by forces on both sides of the law, Steelhead must fight for redemption and the survival of those he loves in the darkest night he has ever known...

Thanks to our friends at Cine Asia, we've got five copies of The Shinjuku Incident to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to shinjukugiveaway@rocketmail.com with your name and postal address before midday on Tuesday 23rd February (UK time). The first five names drawn out of the electronic hat will win free copy!


  1. So i was thinking that SEth MacFarlane's "original" tv show is his own attempt at making something like a robot chicken fast paced skit show? what do to you think??

    Obviously without the action figures.. but meh, one can look passed those cosmetics.

  2. Wrath of the Dragon God is not a great movie, but I'm willing to give it a bit of a pass because you can tell at least they really wanted to get it right. Which is a huge improvement over ... that other movie. It's good to put in on a weekend day when you're doing stuff around home and want something on in the background.