Saturday, 21 August 2010

DVD Reviews

Repo Men
Starring: Jude Law, Liev Schreiber, Forrest Whitaker
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Universal Pictures UK

Available from Monday 23rd August - £15.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

It’s the near-future and people can enhance their bodies, replacing any damaged organ with artificial replacements. There's one catch: it's expensive...and if you can't keep up with the payments your body parts will be repossessed by the "Repo Men"...with painful and bloody results! Jude Law plays Remy, one of the best Repo Men. When he falls behind on the payments for his new heart, his old partner Jake (Forest Whitaker - Species), is sent to hunt him down and rip his new heart out.

Now that the hunter is the hunted, Remy joins Beth (the Brazilian one from Predators) on the run across a landscape populated by friends and foes, becoming a champion for thousands like him, on the run from the Repo Men.

It’s good to see Cyberpunk rising again. This movie opens up with neon signs in Chinese, flying cars, body implants and ridiculously oversized guns – by that point all you’re missing is Hauer Power, and he’s got seven movies coming out this year already. He can’t be everywhere. Cut the guy some slack.

Anyway, this is a pretty good action/sci-fi movie. The fight scenes are hard-hitting and the tension as Remy goes on the run from the other Repo Men is kept up really well. All the characters are fully rounded and (ton one degree or another) likable. The only real fault of Repo Men lies with its ending: which is *SPOILER - highlight to read* exactly the same ending as Terry Gilliam’s Brazil *END SPOILER*.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Tasering, cutting, slicing, blood, shooting, gory (although stylised) surgery, several protracted gunfights and explosions.
Sex/Nudity: Some boobs, and implied sex.
Swearing: Normal for a Hollywood action movie.
Summary: Well worth checking out, and definitely darker than most sci-fi being released at the moment – with plenty of ass-kickery for good measure. The ending is a little bit of a let-down, however, stumbling along the fine line between “inspiration” and “Plagiarism”. 8/10
Flash Gordon
Starring: Melody Anderson, Sam J. Jones, Max von Sydow
Director: Mike Hodges
Elevation Sales

Available from Monday 23rd August - £19.99 (Blu-ray) & £24.99 (Blu-ray and Soundtrack Album)
Review by Brad Harmer

Ming the Merciless, Emperor of planet Mongo has begun his plan of destruction for planet Earth. Zarkov, a mad scientist, detects the signs of an intergalactic assault and forces Flash Gordon, star football player and the beautiful Dale Arden to board his rocket and save with a mighty hand every man every woman every child with a mighty flash from the evil Emperor. Can Flash – Saviour of the Universe and King of the Impossible - save the universe?

I’m rarely impressed with Blu-ray re-masters, sadly. Mostly it seems like the software is too far ahead of the hardware, and what you’re left with is either jerky movements, stuttery pans or – in really bad cases – blur or pixelisation. However, this – along with the recent Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition – is the best re-mastering I’ve seen on a Blu-ray. The picture is so sharp you can cut your eyes on it if you’re not careful, and it sounds great. And you haven’t experienced Brian Blessed until you’ve seen him in 1080p.

If you’re a fan of this movie – and I think everyone is – then this is essential...and the price is pretty reasonable, too.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some laser blaster fights, and explosions. One ritual combat. Someone is impaled on spikes.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some “bastards”.
Summary: A sci-fi/adventure classic gets a top-notch re-mastering job. A little lacking in extras, considering it’s an anniversary set, but well worth picking up. 10/10
The Ancient World According to Terry Jones
Starring: Terry Jones
Director: Phil Grabsky
Seventh Art

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

Monty Python star and history enthusiast Terry Jones presents this award-winning documentary series which unearths the secrets of the ancient world. In his idiosyncratic and bizarre way, Terry Jones takes us on a surprising journey to explore the history of sex; a myth-busting and highly original view of ancient inventions; and explores the most bizarre and shocking life in ancient Rome and Egypt.

I was ten or eleven years old when Horrible Histories books first started arriving, and to this day, I think they were the only kid’s series that managed to both “entertain and educate” (many things promised this in the nineties. They all failed.). Watching The Ancient World According to Terry Jones, I could not help but think of these books, as this is the spiritual successor to them. Trivia and important points alike are presented clearly and impressively, but always with humour.

Jones is a great host (and he’s the co-writer of the series too, so not just a talking head), and the whole thing is pretty entertaining. You don’t need to be majorly into history to follow what’s being presented as no prior knowledge is assumed. People with an interest in history shows could certainly do a lot worse than this set.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Several detailed (although often comedic) demonstrations and depictions of warfare.
Sex/Nudity: A whole episode given over to ancient sex.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A highly entertaining series, presented as a “Horrible Histories For Adults”, with Jones being...well, Terry Jones. Unlikely to be watched more than once, but certainly worth a rental. 8/10


SHADOWLAND: GHOST RIDER PREVIEW

Shadowland: Ghost Rider - from Rob Williams and Clayton Crain - continues the Shadowland story as the Spirit of Vengeance makes his debut after being summoned by the Kingpin. In an attempt to change the tides of war, Ghost Rider must travel to Japan and take on the unrelenting might of the secret ninja organization known as The Hand. Can Ghost Rider storm into the belly of the beast and make it out in one piece? Find out in Shadowland: Ghost Rider #1, on sale in the UK from 16th September.

Click on the pictures below for a larger view:











THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW SF 23

Seventeen times winner of the Locus Award for the Year's Best Anthology and now in its twenty-third blockbuster year, Gardner Dozois' compelling annual is the single must-have collection for science fiction fans around the world. Offering the very best new stories of the year, it showcases up-and-coming stars alongside established masters of the genre, including Peter Watts, Jo Walton, Vandana Singh, Mary Rosenblum, Damien Broderick and Albert E. Cowdrey.

Ranging from solid, fast-paced adventures ot the jaw-droppingly offbeat; from intensely human psychological dramas played out against a backdrop of imaginary worlds to the darkly fanastical. Great bonuses, as ever, are Dozois' consistently absorbing, definitive annual round-up of all things sci-fi and an extensive recommended reading guide.

Thanks to our friends at Robinson Publishing, we've got five copies of The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 23 to give away! For your chance of winning, send us an e-mail to newsf23giveaway@yahoo.co.uk with your name and postal address before midday on Saturday 28th August (UK time). The first five names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

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