Tuesday, 15 June 2010

DVD Reviews

Alice in Wonderland
Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Crispin Glover
Director: Tim Burton
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD), £23.99 (Blu-ray & DVD Pack) and £24.99 (Blu-Ray, DVD & Digital Copy Pack)
Review by Blake Harmer

Alice in Wonderland is a mixed bag. It is filled with brilliance, faithfulness, rubbishness and unfaithfulness in equal measure. So how come I’m contradicting myself I hear you ask? Well, the main reason is that Alice in Wonderland is not actually a true adaptation of the story by Lewis Carroll but actually a movie sequel following on from the events of the original story but actually encompassing both Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, and also chucking in Lewis Carroll’s poem, Jabberwocky in there for good measure for some family fantasy fun. To some extent this works, but in others it doesn’t.

The plot of Tim Burton's half-adaptation goes like this: Alice, a 19-year-old who doesn’t agree with the way she should act, is betrothed to an idiot of an English Lord. At her engagement party, she runs away to think about her decision to marry the Lord but falls down a hole in the garden after spotting a white rabbit in a waistcoat. At the bottom of the hole she arrives in a strange and magical place called "Underland”. She realises that this is a world she has dreamt of since she was very young. It is a world filled with talking animals, villainous queens and knights, Bandersnatches and Jub Jub Birds. Alice realises that she is there for a reason: She must slay the Jabberwocky and restore the rightful queen to her throne.

Firstly, the good bits about the film. Tim Burton’s version of Wonderland, whilst very by-the-numbers for his sort of work, shows a very dark and sinister world, which at the end of the day should be more how Wonderland should look. The acting is very solid with a strong cast including Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry, as well as Burton’s favourites, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. There is also plenty of action (albeit family friendly) and the special effects are good although the animals feel very cartoonish, which is very similar to Disney’s other franchise The Chronicles of Narnia.

Now the bad news: the original story feels like a typical Hollywood family movie with very little originality (how many times have we heard the unlikely hero rises up and overcomes evil to restore peace and prosperity the world/universe etc?). I also find it hard to believe that lovers of Lewis Carroll’s works would like to see them mixed up in a bowl and spat out as a blockbuster to earn millions of dollars.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Lots of action and fighting but nothing overly violent. The Bandersnatch loses an eye, but it gets it back later, and no blood is lost.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: At the end of the day, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this is a bit of a Marmite film, some will love it, others will hate it. Children looking for an entertaining blockbuster with lots of action and some interesting characters will be thrilled, as those looking for an alternative and different sequel to the original Alice in Wonderland. However, those looking for a great adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s story would do better to look elsewhere. 7/10

Lizard in a Woman's Skin
Starring: Penny Brown, Stanley Baker, Georges Rigaud
Director: Lucio Fulci
Optimum Home Entertainment

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

Carol Hammond is a sophisticated politician’s daughter who experiences a series of vivid, psychedelic nightmares drenched in depraved sex orgies and LSD. The dreams then turn into a nightmare featuring the death of her neighbour, Julia Dürer. The next day Julia is found brutally murdered in her own apartment.

The investigation, conducted by Inspector Corvin, leads to Carol’s arrest. However, she is released after a mysterious man confesses to Scotland Yard that he is the murderer. Not convinced of Carol’s innocence, Corvin continues to investigate the murder and unearths new disturbing clues … Did Carol really do it or is she being framed? Where do her dreams end and reality begin?

Lucio Fulci (like a lot of Giallo directors) seems to get bored of doing horror every now and again, and instead choose to to do a film noir style detective story. Some of them work, and some of them fail because they’re unable to step too far away from horror, and through force of habit they become hilariously gore-spattered film noir detective stories. Then there Lucio Fulci, who – while an outstanding zombie movie director – is actually pretty crap at most other types of movie. Sadly, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is a bit of a mess.

It does, however, manage to give us our first lesbian scene by the time the counter had hit the four minute mark, so let’s not dismiss it completely out of hand.

I’ve seen shoddy camera work before, but this is pretty bad. I’ve seen camera’s shake, wobble, track badly, zoom off centre, sure...but I think this is the first time I’ve seen a camera move so strangely that the only word I can think of to describe it is “cavort”.

The story itself is a pretty weird one, and quite hard to follow. The story itself is a pretty solid detective/crime thriller. Unfortunately, the execution leaves it a mess.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
A fair old amount of stabbing, violence and gore. Some obviously animatronic dogs are tortured.
Sex/Nudity: Frequent nudity and sex. The exact opposite of my life.
Swearing: Some, but not frequent.
Summary: What could have been great turns into a bit of a mess. For those who appreciate the “artier” side of Giallo and Italian Exploitation, this may be of interest. For those after a decent horror movie...pick up a Fulci zombie movie instead...or even
The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. 3/10

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