Saturday, 15 May 2010

DVD Reviews

Sherlock Holmes
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams
Director: Guy Ritchie
Warner Home Video

Available from Monday 17th May - £19.99 (DVD) and £26.99 (Blu-ray, with DVD & Digital Copy)
Review by Brad Harmer

On a quest to solve a string of mysterious and brutal murders, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr. - Gothika, The Incredible Hulk) and his trusted ally Watson (Jude Law - eXistenZ, The Holiday) plunge into a world of dark arts and startling new technologies, where logic, and a good right hook, are the best crime fighting weapons. Action, mystery and intrigue follow the two in a race to uncover and foil a terrifying plot that threatens to destroy the country.

If you’d have asked me to cast Sherlock Holmes and Watson, then I probably wouldn’t have named Downey Jr. and Law, but they work pretty damn well! In fact, all of the casting in this movie is excellent – and it is, then, something of a shame that it’s got fuck all to do with Sherlock Holmes.

The characters don’t act like their literary basis. They don’t have anything to do with any of the stories. It’s like someone did a find/replace on another work of fiction so they could get away with calling it “Sherlock Holmes”, rather than “Miscellaneous Victorian Detective”. That’s all well and good – Sherlock Holmes has been subject to more interpretations than most other characters, with some of wilder ones being the more successful – but in this instance, what’s left behind once you remove the licence is rather insipid.

As action movies go, this is pretty good – it’s a lot of brainless fun full of explosions, thrilling fight sequences and some pretty funny one liners. Again, it’s something of a shame then that the film generally lacks cohesion, and just feels like a collection of good ideas held together with a rubber band.

Stylish but ultimately shallow, Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is great brainless fluff, albeit it not without its flaws.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Several fight scenes, with some slowed-down sections to highlight Massive Damage. Some shootings. One immolation. Several plummets.
Sex/Nudity: Robert Downey Jr. naked and handcuffed.
Swearing: Nothing by modern standards.
Summary: A mixed bag that never lives up to its real potential. Worth a rental, but don’t go expecting it to be a movie about...y’know...Sherlock Holmes. 7/10

Carriers
Starring: Piper Perabo, Chris Pine & Lou Taylor Pucci
Directors: Alex & David Pastor
Paramount Home Entertainment

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Chris Pine (y’know, the fake Captain Kirk from Fake Star Trek) stars in this surprisingly good thriller about a deadly threat beyond anyone's worst nightmare. Determined to escape a lethal virus, four teens set out in search of an uncontaminated refuge, only to discover that they are far more dangerous to each other than the virus they are trying to survive.

The “Last Man (or Men) on Earth” scenario is one that’s been done a million times over: I Am Legend, The Last Man On Earth, The Omega Man, The Stand, stupid daydreams you had in school, and about a hundred bad zombie movies. Thankfully, rather than running down the path that hundreds before it have gone, Carriers instead manages to take the rather unoriginal premise into rather unexpected territory. It is the bleakest, darkest and harshest survivial horror you’ve seen in a long time.

The infected are buried alive, abandoned without a second thought, and everyone is only in it for themselves. There are no heroes – just people you identify with not because you want to be like them, but because you know in your heart of hearts that you would have to act the same way to survive.

The production is excellent, maintaining a rather clever atmosphere that is both claustrophobic and yet strangely isolated. If you’re looking for a grim, sci-fi story that isn’t afraid to portray “realism”, as opposed to Hollywood sentimentality, then I think you’ll be rather pleasantly surprised by this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Blood spurts and gore. Some people get shot, and it’s moderately gory.
Sex/Nudity: The girls strip to their bras a couple of times. Some dirty jokes, but nothing explicit.
Swearing: “Shit” and “asshole” rules the day.
Summary: A brilliantly bleak horror/sci-fi road-movie that keeps you involved the whole way. Well worth checking out. 8/10

Bitch Slap
Starring: Erin Cummings, America Olivio, Julia Voth
Director: Rick Jacobson
Momentum Pictures

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

Bitch Slap follows three badass chicks – stripper Trixie, corporate powerbroker Hel and psychotic drug-runner Camero – as they crash at a remote desert hideaway with a plan to steal $200 million in diamonds from a ruthless underworld kingpin. But as allegiances change and bitter truths are revealed, the girls’ plan spirals dangerously out of control, forcing them to face a variety of villains much worse than themselves and leaving the very fate of the world in the balance.

Bitch Slap crosses over virtually every single exploitation movie genre there is: secret agent, noir, sci-fi, gangster, bad girl, biker, kung-fu...I think the only thing it misses is blaxploitation and zombies – and there’s more than enough of those anyway.

The style fits what it’s trying to do well, flitting between a sun-bleached desert present day, and a series of flashbacks, all of which are given a CG background to make them look more garish and comic-booky. Yeah, I normally hate CG, but this is an example of it being used well and, more importantly, for an effect.

Bitch Slap is a great exploitation explosion that doesn’t try to make a point, satirise anything, or try and get overly Tarantino/Eli Roth post-ironic and clever. This is about making a fun movie for the sake of fun.

There’s a spontaneous lezzing up sequence about halfway in as well. The makers of Bitch Slap knew what they were doing, I can tell you that much.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Extended fight sequences (unarmed, melee and gun based). Lots of blood spurting. Asian weapons. One girl gets bitten on the minge.
Sex/Nudity: More cleavage that you would have believed possible. Trixie complains that she's hot, then pours water on herself. The other two then join in.



Oh, and there’s a spontaneous lesbian make-out half way through.
Swearing: Constant.
Summary: A fantastic psychobilly explosion of pure grindhouse joy – the best exploitation movie since Sexy Killer. Check it out! 9/10

Wolfhound
Starring: Oksana Akinshina & Aleksandr Bukharov
Director: Nikolai Lebedev
Momentum Pictures

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

With fantasy adventure movies these days, it feels more like a case of quantity over quality, for every Conan the Barbarian or The Lord of the Rings, there are hundreds of shonky movies such as Dungeons and Dragons that have tired storylines and a budget lower than your average episode of Xena for the whole movie. However, Wolfhound, whilst it’s plot may not be the freshest when compared to other fantasy movies, makes up for it with great set pieces and by just being pretty E14.

The plot centres on the warrior Wolfhound, who is out for revenge against an evil overlord known as Greedy (I’m sure his name sounds a lot better when not translated from Russian to English) who murdered his tribe and made him a slave in the mines (hey isn’t this the plot for Conan the Barbarian and Puzzle Chronicles again?). However, upon discovering that Greedy is plotting to awaken a great evil, Wolfhound must destroy him and his evil minions before he succeeds.

The film has excellent and intense fight scenes, with plenty of death being dished out by Wolfhound. There is also plenty of gore to go around too, which is always a good thing in the world of E14. The monsters in the film are quite well thought out as well, especially when Wolfhound and his friends have to combat an evil fog that devours people but is scared of fire. Finally, any hero that has a fruit bat for a companion gets a bonus point in my book, especially as it even kills a couple of people as well.

The film does have a couple of flaws: the special effects have been done better in other films, and the plot isn’t too good and seems stretched over the film’s 136 minute running time, but seeing as they needed a plot to link the death and destruction together, I can easily forgive them.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Lots of death and gore to keep the Emotionally Fourteen happy, with well thought out set pieces to keep things interesting and entertaining.
Sex/Nudity: None to my recollection.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A fun and thrilling fantasy film filled with great set pieces, sure the special effects are not brilliant, and the plot may not be that original, but seeing as it is used as a good excuse to link the fight scenes together, and include some interesting monsters. Well worth a look at if you love your fantasy movies (especially Conan). 8/10

Big Bad Mama
Starring: Angie Dickinson, William Shatner & Tom Skerritt
Director: Steve Carver
In2Film

Available Now - £5.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

After the death of her lover, Wilma (Angie Dickinson) takes over his bootlegging business with her daughters, but with little success. However, Wilma meets up with bank robber Fred (Tom Skerritt), who convinces them to help him out with his next big heist with charming con man Baxter (William Shatner - American Psycho II, Big Bad Mama). In the meantime, Wilma also kidnaps a millionaire’s daughter in an attempt to get a large ransom. But, will Wilma and Fred be able to retire with their ill-gotten gains, or will they be found out and caught by the police?

You know you’re in trouble when the biggest actor in your film is William Shatner, and you’re not making a Star Trek movie. However, this doesn’t stop Roger Corman in creating another shonk-fest.

This film has everything, bad dialogue, lame chase scenes and bad acting. William Shatner does well in it (mainly due to the fact he is awesome anyway), but seeing as he comes from the Adam West School of Acting, this isn’t too surprising when compared to the rest of it.

At the end of the day the film does recover itself by not taking itself too seriously, with some funny one liners, over the top fist fights and a general trashy vibe to it, some enjoyment can be had if you accept it for what it is. However, with so many better cops and robbers chase movies out there. There is little on offer here to recommend unless you are a fan of Roger Corman films.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some shoot outs and fist fights but not a lot in the way of gore.
Sex/Nudity: You almost see boobs, which you think a film of this calibre would deal out by the bucket load, but you don’t really see anything.
Swearing: Quite a lot of swear words accompany the funny one liners, as well as trying to put some life into the crummy dialogue (fails).
Summary: Unless you are a huge fan of Roger Corman movies or 70’s crime movies then I can’t recommend this to you. Sure, when compared to other trashy b-movies of the 70’s this one is fun to an extent, but when there are so many better movies of it’s genre, it is hard to truly recommend it. 5/10

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