Saturday 22 May 2010

DVD Reviews

Where The Wild Things Are
Starring: James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Max Records
Director: Spike Jonze
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD)& £22.99 (Blu-ray + DVD Combi)
Review by Brad Harmer

Nine-year-old Max runs away from home and sails across the sea to become king of the land where the Wild Things are. King Max rules a wondrous realm of gigantic fuzzy monsters - but quickly learns that being king may not be as carefree as it looks.

I’ve never read the book. I doubt I’m ever going to. So this is purely the film on its own merits.

The main hurdle I had to desperately try and overcome with Where the Wilds Things Are is how unlikable the main character is. Max is grumpy, antisocial, and has a violent temper. His behaviour throughout is repugnant and obnoxious, and that makes him terribly hard to identify this. This isn’t a criticism of the actor playing him, you understand (the dubiously named Max Records...sounds liked somebody The KLF would have been signed by in the 90s). Records acts the part well – it’s the the character is unlikable.

Secondly, the transfer to DVD is very dark. I had to adjust the settings on my TV to make some parts visible. Not exactly great for a major studio release.

There are some parts that work, Max Records and James Gandolfini are both fantastic, and the set design is great. The desert/woods/hills are very attractive in a strange, desolate way. The final scenes of the movie are genuinely moving.

Unfortunately, it’s just not all that fun to watch. It boils down to being a very slow moving and heavy handed morality tale. This is obviously supposed to be a kids movie for grown-up-kids (and I think I fit that demographic)...but I wasn’t enchanted. I was just bored.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Building smashing, some biting, mutilation.
Sex/Nudity: All of the Wild Things are nude.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A rather stilted and dull morality tale, that will doubtless please most critics, bore most adults and confuse most children. A wasted opportunity. 5/10

Ninja Assassin
Starring: Naomi Harris, Rain, Rick Yune
Director: James McTeigue
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) & £26.99 (Blu-ray & DVD Combi)
Review by Brad Harmer

Raizo is one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Taken from the streets as a child, he was transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan, a secret society whose very existence is considered a myth. But haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them...and vanishes. Now he waits, preparing to exact his revenge.

In Berlin, Europol agent Mika Coretti has stumbled upon a money trail linking several political murders to an underground network of untraceable assassins from the Far East. Defying the orders of her superior, Ryan Maslow, Mika digs into top secret agency files to learn the truth behind the murders. Her investigation makes her a target, and the Ozunu Clan sends a team of killers, led by the lethal Takeshi, to silence her forever.

If Robert E. Howard had ever written a story about ninjas, it would be Ninja Assassin.

Packed to the rafters with absolutely amazing kung-fu sequences and over-the-top gore, this is a fun blast of a Kung-Fu Movie. Watching it, I felt like I was back in the 80s, in all the best ways possible. This is how you make an action movie!

The plot itself is nothing that we haven’t seen a hundred times over – most likely during our teenage years when we were renting any old piece of crap that had an explosion or someone wearing a bandana on the cover – but that doesn’t matter too much. If anything, it actually adds to the warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia you get from being able to see a non-stop brainless action movie again.

It has no ulterior motive, it has no political agenda, philosophy or point to make. Ninja Assassin sets out to be a fun, kung-fu movie. And it succeeds.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Constant, fast and bloody.
Sex/Nudity: Rain is topless most of the time.
Swearing: Some, but not a lot.
Summary: A highly enjoyable, gory blasy of retro kung-fu action. Great brainless fun with some fantastic sequences. 8/10

Second Opinion: An enjoyable gore fest that it’s let down by poor special effects and a paper-thin plot. At the end of the day, the reason I ended up liking this film less and less was that I actually thought about it. If you take your brain out before going to see this film and focus on the endless killing then you will love this film. If you think about how stupid the plot is or how crap the special effects are then you will end up hating it. Just focus on the Hot Ninja Death Rampage and then you’ll probably think that this is the most Emotionally Fourteen film you have seen since Commando. It is because of this E14 factor, that this average film gets a couple of bonus points. 7/10 - Blake Harmer

Attack of the Crab Monsters
Starring: Pamela Duncan, Richard Garland, Russell Johnson
Director: Roger Corman

Available Now - £4.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

To study the effects of nuclear weapons tests, a group of scientists travel to a remote island, only to get stranded when their airplane is destroyed. However, the team soon discover that the plane is the least of their worries when they find out that the island has been taken over by crabs that have mutated into enormous, intelligent monsters, able to communicate telepathically via metal objects. Not only that, but the island is also slowly sinking into the ocean. Will the scientists survive the crabs and the sinking island and make it home safely?

Sadly, this question isn’t truly answered by this film, as it possibly has the most abrupt ending to a film ever; ending after the big finale with the plot resolution lasting about 5 seconds. The film has other flaws as well, such as its questionable storytelling and scriptwriting. A perfect example of this happens only minutes into the film, when a character is found with his head cut off in the water. However apart from a brief mention of the catastrophe, no investigation into the death is carried out, as they would have realised it was a giant crab if they just looked into the water.

However, despite these annoying plot devices and the feel that had to keep the film to an hour long as they couldn’t afford any film. This 50s B-Movie monster movie holds all the usual fun-if-a-little-far-fetched feel. The crabs look good for their time although obviously horribly dated by today’s standards, the acting is cheesy, and there’s the usual science is the cause of this abomination style storyline.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
very little death or violence is shown as it is mostly done from off screen with a scream when a character dies, as is quite usual with B-movies of the era.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None - the worst you get are people calling each other a word...lame.
Summary: Your typical B-movie with all the storyline, giant monsters and explosions that you can expect. However, when compared to other films of its type, Attack of the Crab Monsters has nothing new to offer. So unless you’re a big fan of Roger Corman movies, or like the idea of giant crabs but don’t want it to take too much time out of your day to watch, then I can’t really recommend it to you unless you want to witness one of the most abrupt endings in cinema history. 5/10

1 comment:

  1. Ninja Assassin is out on DVD already? Damn... that means I have to break it to my martial arts loving fiancée that we missed it at the cinema.