Tuesday 16 March 2010

DVD Reviews

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD) and £22.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Nerdy college student Columbus has survived the plague that has turned mankind into flesh-devouring zombies because he’s scared of just about everything. Gun-toting, Twinkie-loving Tallahassee has no fears. Together, they are about to stare down their most horrifying challenge yet: each other’s company. And that’s before they run across Little Rock and Wichita – two swindling bandits – and the hordes of the living dead.

Zombieland is a strange, but pretty damn good, movie. Throwing together elements of “hipster” indie movies, comedy and horror exploitation into a buffet of the cult, the end result could have been rather a mish-mash, devoid of entity. As it is, however, it’s a really fun ride, and bursting with life (and the undead).

A strong collection of characters interact with and collide with each other really well, and the script is absolutely top-notch. Whether the comedy’s slapstick, gross-out or dialogue based, it’s really funny. Zombieland may not throw anything new into the genres it borrows from and belongs to, but it sure does it all really well. The only real drawback is that, by it’s nature, most of the plot twists are telegraphed pretty early on. Narrative wise, there are no real surprises – but when you’re jumping or creasing up, that doesn’t seem to matter too much.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
All the usual gunfire, concussive force, bludgeoning, evisceration, cannibalism, gore, blood, death, destruction, mutilation and mayhem you’d expect from a zombie movie (or one third of a Cannibal Corpse album).
Sex/Nudity: One make-out scene.
Swearing: IMDB lists “29 uses of 'fuck', 15 uses of 'shit', 2 uses of 'Jesus Christ', and 2 anatomical references”. Presumably the two “anatomical references” are “elbow” and “perineum”.
Summary: A bizarre mix of zombie/post-apocalyptic shock and indie comedy that works incredibly well together. Well worth checking out. 9/10

The Fourth Kind
Starring: Will Patton, Milla Jovovich and Elias "Casey Jones" Koteas
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Entertainment In Video

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) and £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

The blurb for The Fourth Kind bills it as “a fact-based thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up”. This is presumably because the slightly more honest “turgid and dull sci-fi cock-up” wouldn’t have had the potential to shift so many units.

Like movies such as The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity or even going back as far as The Amityville Horror and The Entity, The Fourth Kind desperately tries to get on top of the whole “based on actual events” crap that helped market those other movies. However, unlike most (if not all) of those other movies, The Fourth Kind doesn’t actually have much of a movie to sell in the first place. The whole package is so wrapped up in its “this is pseudo-real” bubble, that once the effect of that wears off, you’re left with not very much at all.

The trouble is, the split-screening (for Cthulhu’s sake...) of the “real” footage with the “dramatised” footage doesn’t enhance the believability. If anything, it just highlights what a lot of razzmatazz that is, desperately trying to distract you from the sub-par episode of The X-Files that you’re watching. Of course, it could have worked if the paranormal elements had had more credibility than a Chris Morris spoof of a Dan Brown novel. But they don’t.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some murders, presented in a documentary style.
Sex/Nudity: Nope. This is probably the only Milla Jovovich movie in which she doesn’t flip them (or it) out.
Swearing: Some mild uses.
Summary: A terrible prank of a sci-fi movie that fails to chill or even interest, on top of some very flat acting and needlessly showy production. 3/10

CSI: The Complete Season 9
Starring: William Petersen, Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger
Creators: Ann Donahue, Anthony E. Zuiker
Momentum Pictures
Available now - RRP £49.99 (DVD)
Review by Rob Wade

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Series 8 of CSI.

Season 9 of CSI was always going to be a difficult one to do. With the departure of two main cast members, with only one feasible as a returning character, the announcement that it would also be William Petersen's (Manhunter, The Contender) last season as Gil Grissom meant that the producers were of course keen to make this a period of transition for the show.

More important still was the importance of replacing Grissom as a central character. The new actor they chose to fill the role within the series was none other than Laurence Fishburne (Assault on Precinct Thirteen, Event Horizon), a good cast I'm sure you will agree. Fishburne plays Dr Raymond Langston, a professor brought in to assist on a case.

One of the things this series does well is continuity. Obviously, the series follows on from the cliffhanger ending of Season 8, which left one of the characters' lives hanging in the balance. The transition from the last episode of Season 8 to the first episode of Season 9 is seamless, giving you the right amount of information to be able to keep up with the plot if you're coming in at Season 9.

After eight seasons of developing the characters, people can understandably become attached to them, which is part of the reason that the end of Series 8 and the beginning of this season 9 are so heartbreaking at times, involving both the character whose life is at stake and the lives of those around them. This is another of the things that the series does particularly well, as the characters are clearly affected by the multitude of traumatic events across Seasons 8 and 9.

Ultimately, the usual message that we give to readers is simple: If you're already into the series, there is obviously more to keep you entertained than for someone who is new to the series. Of course, this does present problems during review, as this is undoubtedly something that must be factored in.

As a recommendation, I'm a huge fan of CSI myself, mainly the Las Vegas one seen here. If you like the series, there is absolutely stacks of content here for your money, and if not it's something I would suggest is worth investing in if you enjoy your mysteries or your detective action. CSI is almost like Scooby Doo for grown-ups, so if that's your sort of thing the series is well worth looking into.

The main gripes I have with this season of the show are small things. Firstly, I don't necessarily think that Dr Langston's character is as well-developed as it possibly could be, given that he's being introduced as a substitute for Grissom. Secondly, Riley Adams, the other new CSI brought in to bulk out the numbers, is one of those characters that can rub people up the wrong way. Thankfully, as I understand it, one of the other characters returns in the next season.

Ultimately, a good quality TV series that is continuing to go strong with a tried and tested formula. Fans of the show will find plenty here to enjoy, but maybe those not already invested in the show would be wiser to pick up a cheap copy of Season 1 first.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating :
Violence : It's CSI, so understandably there's a considerable amount of violence in both the crime re-enactment scenes and the chase downs.
Sex/Nudity : None.
Swearing : Very mild. CSI hasn't really ever done the whole bad language thing so much, probably because of the visceral nature of the series.
Summary: What could have been a convoluted and utterly disastrous season ends up being one of the strongest in some time. Fishburne is well-established, if a little under-developed, and future seasons will be improved as a result of the good job done with the transition. Mostly recommended for enthusiasts, but casual fans can find something on here to enjoy due in some ways to their autonomous nature. Just ignore the character development. Easy right? 8/10

Introducing unique worlds, memorable characters and extraordinary stories with every new instalment, the Final Fantasy series has continuously reinvented itself over the last two decades, shipping over 85 million copies worldwide in the process. The series is defined by constant evolution, with each release delivering nothing less than the finest creative vision, graphical quality and gameplay system of its generation. Needless to say, Final Fantasy XIII is no exception.

In Final Fantasy XIII, players will embark on an awe-inspiring journey through the floating cityworld of Cocoon and the savage lowerworld of Pulse, encountering a diverse band of would-be allies along the way. With seamless transitions between real-time gameplay and in-game cinematics, and an evolved Active Time Battle system offering a perfect harmony of spectacular action and strategy, this is an adventure unlike any other. Do you have the courage to face your destiny?

Thanks to our friends at Square Enix, we've got three copies of Final Fantasy XIII on PlayStation 3 to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to finalfantasy13giveaway@rocketmail.com with your name and postal address before midday on Tuesday 23rd March (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy, with two runners up winning an Elixir energy drink!

1 comment:

  1. hey guys!

    thanks for the review on zombieland.. been secretly hoping you lot would have reviewed it before I pick it up, you did, you loved and now im more than likely to pick up a copp!!

    top work!