Saturday, 28 August 2010

DVD Reviews

Centurion
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Dominic West
Director: Neil Marshall
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD) & £28.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

In AD 117, the Roman Empire stretches from Egypt to Spain, and East as far as the Black Sea, but in northern Britain, the relentless onslaught of conquest has ground to a halt in face of the guerrilla tactics of an elusive enemy: the savage and terrifying Picts. Quintus Dias (one of the guys from 300), sole survivor of a Pictish raid on a Roman frontier fort, marches north with General Virilus' (one of the guys from 300) legendary Ninth Legion, under orders to wipe the Picts from the face of the earth and destroy their leader Gorlacon.

But when the legion is ambushed on unfamiliar ground, and Virilus taken captive, Quintus faces a desperate struggle to keep his small platoon alive behind enemy lines. Enduring the harsh terrain and evading their remorseless Pict pursuers led by revenge-hungry Pict Warrior Etain (The bird from the last Bond movie. Not Gemma Arterton. The other one.), the band of soldiers race to rescue their General and to reach the safety of the Roman frontier.

It’s always nice when historical fiction meets OTT violence and blood, but there’s something about Centurion that never really gets off of the ground. Maybe it’s that all of the characters are paper thin, making it impossible to give a monkey’s hypothalamus when they die. Maybe it’s that the political and social machinations surrounding it are mere cobwebs covering the fact this is a rather obvious re-make of The Warriors.

The action scenes are pretty solid, but despite having at least two cast members in common, this is no 300. It’s okay, it’ll entertain you enough, but you can wait for this to come on TV.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Pretty much non-stop gore, stabbering, fighting and death.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: A fair amount.
Summary: A decidedly average historical hack n’ slash. The action scenes and deaths are good, but everything else is mediocre. 5/10

Second Opinion - "An enjoyable action film with lots of gore and swearing to keep the majority of the Emotionally Fourteen happy, and whilst the plot may not be the most original, Marshall has stuck to what he does best, and delivered a thoroughly entertaining film filled with gory action and great one-liners. Watch it if you are an action fan or a big fan of Neil Marshall’s previous films, just don’t expect it to be vastly different from anything else he has done before. - 8/10 - Blake Harmer

The Perfect Sleep
Starring: Patrick Bauchau, Anton Pardoe, Roselyn Sanchez
Director: Jeremy Alter
Icon Home Entertainment

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

In a timeless, unidentified city, a man with no name returns to the violent, brutal domain of gangsters and assassins he left ten years before, back when they dubbed him The Mad Monk for his disregard for his own life and his intense devotion to one woman, Porphyria.

The girl he grew up with and the love of his life, Porphyria is now a beautiful woman - the only thing he has ever wanted and the one thing he can never have. She, alone, is the reason for his return. Her life now in danger, he is the only man who can save her. But waiting for him are several killers who would like nothing more than to see him die a painful death, while standing at their forefront is the formidable Nikolai, the man who raised him and just might be his father. To protect Porphyria, this unnamed man must revisit his former life of torment and torture and confront the father figure he turned his back on so many years ago.

The Perfect Sleep is a really strange film. It looks and (to a certain extent) acts like a classic noir movie, but the action sequences are straight out of John Woo, and sometimes click straight into full blown kung-fu movie action. Yet, even stranger, the style of the cinematography is a direct descendent (or “knock-off”) of Sin City. You’d hope that a bold attempt to try something new like this would be interesting, but actually it’s just a mess.

The violence can never decide if it wants to be brutal and realistic, or over-the-top and cartoony. The narrator seems desperate to do an impression of Clive Owen in Sin City, because – you know – they haven’t given us enough reasons to do that. If anything, the attempt to make it look arty and unique is what screws it up. If it had cut back on the trimmings and just been more honest about being a detective/kung-fu mash-up, it would have been a lot more enjoyable.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Frequent shootings and kung-fu style violence.
Sex/Nudity: Some partial nudity.
Swearing: Standard for the genre.
Summary: A rather strange cross-genre experiment that, sadly, doesn’t pay off. There’s plenty of talent at work here, though, and I’d be interested to see what they come up with next. 4/10

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
Starring: Michael Jackson, Sean Lennon, Joe Pesci
Director: Colin Chilvers & Jerry Kramer
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £14.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Billing itself as “a combination of footage of Michael Jackson live in concert and a series of fantasy pieces with Jackson as the central character”, Moonwalker should theoretically be showcasing one of the greatest musical performers in history at his creative and commercial peak. Unfortunately, as much as this is a best of Jackson, it’s also a worst of Jackson.

I’m not a hater of Jackson’s. Far from it. I loved him when I was a kid, and there are more than a few songs I like now. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to see Moonwalker as anything other than Messianic self indulgence. The movie opens with a ten-minute “best of” montage, playing the first verse and chorus of his biggest hits over collages of photos and excerpts from music videos. This is followed by a parody of his video for Bad where all of the dancers are replaced with reasonably cute kids. Unfortunately, they are all atrocious dancers.

The re-mastering side is okay. The picture is as sharp as the original source-tape has allowed it to be (ie. not very), but this makes the blue screen work sticks out like a sore-thumb. And there is a lot of it. During the irritating video for Speed Demon (which sees Jackson as a plasticine biker-rabbit for no-real reason...one of the more sensical moments in the movie), the black line around everyone is painfully obvious.

The video for Leave Me Alone, is probably the cleverest that Jackson ever did, and it’s nice to see it here. That’s the highlight, and things dip way down low for the terribly thought out twenty minute video for Smooth Criminal that follows.

When we’re just looking at Jackson performing, he is absolutely on fire. This is him at the height of his career, as his absolutely blinding cover of Come Together shows. If anything, it’s a real shame that the car/robot/rabbit bollocks detracts from that. No other rock star would have wanted to do this (maybe Kiss). What is the logic behind “I want to make a movie where I play a Transformer and rescue a bunch of kids from Joe Pesci.”?

This could only have been a product of the 1990s. Fuck you, 1990s.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some scuffling and gunfire.
Sex/Nudity: More crotch gesticulation than a Degeneration-X reunion gig.
Swearing: None.
Summary: Fans of Jackson’s will be whelmed with this Blu-ray edition. It’s cleaned up nicely, but lacks any features or presentation. Everyone else will find this (at best) confusing or (at worst) laughable. 5/10

The Vampire Diaries: Season One
Starring: Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £39.99 (DVD) & £49.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

The Vampire Diaries, which started as a series of novels by L.J. Smith, has become a television sensation among teenagers and adults across the globe.

It's Elena's first day back at Mystic Falls High School since the tragic death of her parents. Along with her Aunt Jenna, Elena tries her best to look after her troubled younger brother, Jeremy, and salvage what family they have left. The first day is already shaping up to be a struggle for Elena until she meets the mysterious new kid at school, Stefan. Elena is touched that he can relate to what she's going through. What Elena doesn't know is that Stefan is a vampire, constantly resisting the urge to taste her blood.

As their undeniable connection grows deeper, Stefan's dangerous older brother, Damon, shows up to wreak havoc on the town of Mystic Falls - and claim Elena for himself.

The difficult thing about The Vampire Diaries is that it started to air on TV shortly after True Blood and to be frank it just comes off as a wimpy, aspartame-filled diet version. With that said, I do actually like it, it's a good example of a high school drama with the addition of vampires (think Beverly Hills 90210 with a little extra bite...pun intended...groan).

It does has to be said, however, that the casting is not that great. Ian Somerhalder (Damon) just looks too old for his part! He is a thirty-two year-old man, playing the part of a man barely over twenty-one. On top of that the acting could be likened more to the quality of a soap opera rather than a decent TV series.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Plenty fighting and biting.
Sex/Nudity: Snogging and side boob.
Swearing: None of note.
Summary: Decent high school drama that you can have as your secret guilty pleasure. Will I tune in to Season Two? Hell yes, I will V+ it so I can watch it whilst my other half is a band practice! 6/10


WWE - Live in the UK: April 2010
Clear Vision Ltd
Available Now - £17.99 (DVD)
Review by Omer Ibrahim

Twice a year, the WWE crew tour Europe and the UK. Twice a year a lot of wrestlers phone in performances on sub-standard RAW and Smackdown! episodes.

And twice a year, WWE sticks it all on a DVD and flogs it to its booming UK market.

WWE: Live in the UK is a double disc box set that contains episodes of RAW, Smackdown!, Superstars and NXT that were all filmed in the UK.

RAW’s guest host is David Hasselhoff. (Which is confusing. Why wouldn’t they have a British host? They had Ricky Hatton last year.) He’s incredibly comfortable in the role and extremely funny to boot.

There’s not much to mention from the show other than a match between Randy Orton and Batista, which - despite Randy’s slower-than-Matt-Damon offence - enthralls the live audience.

Also worth a chuckle is Hasselhoff’s Divas Baywatch Babe Triple Threat Tag Team Match featuring Kelly Kelly & Gail Kim VS The Bella Twins VS Jillian & Rosa Mendes with Santino serving as special guest referee. Played purely for laughs, each wrestler enters the ring in a red swimsuit, in slow motion, and even Santino gets a slow-mo entrance. Somehow, Santino swallows his whistle and passes out. The Hoff, sat in a ringside lifeguard high-chair calls Hornswaggle to the ring, who dislodges the whistle by hitting his Tadpole Frog Splash from the top rope. Maybe the best part of the DVD.

Smackdown! is similarly event-free, featuring only two decent matches.

The first is a decent 6-Man Tag Match pitting CM Punk, Luke Gallows and NXT rookie Darren Young vs. Rey Mysterio and The Hart Dynasty. Everybody here has a good contest, and The Hart Dynasty and ReyRey work really well together. I’d quite like to see them team together more.

The other is the main event, in which Jack Swagger defends his World Heavyweight Championship in a triple threat match with Edge and Chris Jericho. It’s a good booking decision as the two Canadians guide the green, but capable, Swagger through a decent match with plenty of near falls.

WWE Superstars is a completely forgettable show headlined by MVP and Ted DiBiase. MVP headlining something forgettable? There’s a surprise.

NXT is an entertaining enough affair. The “Talk the Talk” promo challenge is fun, and William Regal vs. Daniel Bryan is brilliant, if criminally short.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Regal busts Bryan’s mouth open.
Sex/Nudity: The Diva’s wear Baywatch swimsuits. The Hoff gets his legs out.
Swearing: Only some awesome, and very British, crowd chants.
Summary: A hit and miss collection of matches. This will sell, especially as it’s filmed in the UK. If you were at the live shows, you probably want this in your collection, but there’s no other real reason to pick it up. 5/10

Disgaea Collection
MVM
Available Now - £29.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

Whilst I admit I love anime and there are several great examples of anime out there such as Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Death Note etc...I will also admit that there are quite a few things in anime that irk the shit out of me, and sadly, all of these of things are present in abundance in Disgaea.

When the King of the Netherworld dies and various demons attempt to take control through building their own empires, it falls to the king’s son to set out and reclaim his place as true ruler of the netherworld with the aid of his Vassal Etna and Flonne, an angel in training who was originally despatched by heaven to assassinate the king, only to find out he was already dead.

I can happily say that Disgaea is probably the most annoying programme I have ever seen. The characters are overly cutesy and seem to eternally spout unfunny Japanese humour out of their rectums at every inappropriate second. The pauses where everyone falls over when someone makes a bad joke, the lack of facial features when they are sad because everything has been replaced by their eyes, Disgaea suffers from it all, and there is not a single point where it could be considered charming.

The only enjoyment I received out of this collection of turd was when every time something bad happened to the characters, such as when rocks fell on them, I felt a slight tinge of happiness, only to be horribly disappointed when they emerged alive and unscathed.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Cartoony explosive violence but there is no gore or dismemberment, no matter how much you may wish it on the cast.
Sex/Nudity: There are a few references to boobs but everything here is pretty tame as the king’s son is still young and na├»ve about the opposite sex.
Swearing: None, apart from the large amounts of bile I was shouting at the television.
Summary: Unless you happen to be a big fan of the Disgaea franchise and like its quirky and unfunny humour, then this collection is no more than an expensive collection of coasters. Also, if you do happen to like Disgaea, and not just for it’s fairly decent JRPG computer games, then please watch some decent anime and realise the error of your ways. 1/10


MEGA-MONSTER BOX SET!

The always monster-tastic Metrodome Group have gathered together three of their biggest, baddest and monstrous movies into a special three disc box set! And because we - and they - love you so much, we're giving away three free copies of this awesome compilation!

Included in the set is:

Mega Shark V Giant Octopus: From the depths of the ocean they came for the most titanic struggle ever witnessed. Two mythical beasts, defying the laws of nature and threatening all of humanity in a vicious battle to certain death! '80s pop sensation Debbie Gibson stars as maverick marine biologist Emma MacNeil. She witnesses a catastrophic collision with a rapidly melting glacier, unleashing two enormous behemoths trapped in the ice for millions of years locked in terrible, mortal combat! With the help of a military specialist tasked with destroying these beasts, MacNeil must stop the onslaught of disaster and mayhem. Ships are annihilated, planes fall from the sky, bridges crumble, cities flee for their lives and the world stands on the brink of disaster at the fins and tentacles of the most fearsome monsters on the planet. The fight of a thousand millennia is about to kick off!

Lockjaw: Terror scales new heights of intensity when a voodoo curse, thought buried in the mists of time, reignites the fanged horror of the infamous Kulev Serpent, the gargantuan Lockjaw. When his wife is killed in a devastating accident by delinquent vacationers, distraught Alan Cade calls upon demonic forces he can barely comprehend to exact his revenge. Once summoned, Alan realizes too late that this ancient evil cannot be tamed or reasoned with. It will stop at nothing and no one will be spared. Now the only thing that stands in its way is Army special ops vet and master hunter Nick Kirabo (hip hop superstar DMX - Cradle 2 the Grave and Never Die Alone) who has been waiting for Lockjaw to return.

Bear: An idyllic trip into bear country turns into a nightmare when the mini-van carrying two brothers and their partners suddenly blows a tire on a mountain road and rouses the attentions of one of the inhabiting Grizzly population. Defiantly one of the brothers, Wall Street hot-shot Sam, pulls out a gun and kills the curious creature. Big mistake! As the group head on into the woods, the bear's mate, a ferocious eight-foot-tall Grizzly, arrives on the scene and attacks. As they battle against the surprisingly cunning and intelligent beast, secrets between the brothers and their own mates begin to emerge. Trapped inside their van, fighting for their lives, the group must use their wits and every last drop of survival instinct they have to survive and escape a fierce showdown with the claws of death!

For your chance of winning a copy, send in your name and address to monstergiveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Saturday 4th September. The first three names drawn from the electronic hat will win a copy each!

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