Saturday, 18 September 2010

DVD Reviews

Cop Out
Starring: Juan Carlos Hérnandes, Tracy Morgan, Bruce Willis
Director: Kevin Smith
Warner Home Video

Available from Monday 20th September - £15.99 (DVD) & £22.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

Directed by Kevin Smith (but as a departure, not written by him), Cop Out follows the story of policeman Jimmy Monroe (Brice Willis (Hudson Hawk)) and his partner Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan (The Longest Yard, Superhero Movie)). When they are both suspended for a month without pay, Jimmy needs to raise $50,000 for his daughters wedding and decides to sell his rare baseball card. However, when the card is stolen, he and his partner set out to take down the thief, a baseball memorabilia obsessed gangster.

There is more to the plot but, to be honest, that is pretty much all you need to care about as this is the main focus for the humour, which at the end of the day is what you are here to see. Thankfully, as far as comedies go, this one is pretty funny and captures the feel of "cop/buddy" films of the 80’s. The jokes may come at a slow pace but the laughs are normally worth the wait. The highlights include Tracy Morgan playing the bad cop during a police interrogation and getting answers from a burglar by tying the burglar to a cop car and driving away so the burglar burns his crotch on the gravel drive. Also, Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan work well together and Kevin Smiths direction is as solid as usual. Also worth special mention are the extras on the Blu-ray which include a directors commentary that includes all the out-takes and bloopers as they occur throughout the film, which means all the film’s comedic moments are combined into one.

The film is not without it’s flaws, though. Some jokes fall flat and whilst there is a fair amount of geek humour, none of it is as witty or delivered as well as in Smith’s previous movies - possibly because he didn’t write the script this time. However, whilst comically this is definitely one of the weakest of Kevin Smith’s films, this is still by no means a bad movie, and if your after a send up of the 80’s "cop/buddy" flick, with a few laughs along the way, you could do far worse than this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some death scenes with bad guys getting shot in the head or people getting executed, but there is not a lot of blood. Other violence can be comical as well.
Sex/Nudity: Some sexual references and plenty of sexual humour, but nothing is shown.
Swearing: A fair amount, but used for comedic purposes.
Summary: Not Kevin Smith’s finest hour, but an enjoyable comedy none the less, see it if you like Bruce Willis, cop movies and Kevin Smith. 7/10

Killer Pad
Starring: Emily Foxler, Daniel Franzese, Eric Jungmann
Director: Robert Englund
Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 20th September - £5.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

When three pals find a sweet deal on a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, they think they have struck party gold. But their dreams of sexy Hollywood ladies are quickly thwarted when they realize that their dream pad is also a direct portal to Hell.

So, what can we expect from the directorial debut of Robert “The only Fred Kreuger” Englund?

Well, the answer is that you can expect pretty much what you’re already expecting. The puns, toilet humour and ridiculously over the top Big Bad Evil Dudes (or Dudettes in this instance). If you’ve seen A Nightmare on Elm Street parts IV - VI, 2001 Maniacs and Freddy Vs Jason then you already know Englund’s sense of humour, and it’s pretty much more of the same when he’s BEHIND the camera. What results is a hyper-silly horror comedy that calls to mind some of the better moments of Troma and GWAR movies, and a fantastic Almost Famous spoof to boot.

However, for all of its positive aspects, there’s just not enough here to lift the overall quality above “all right”. The toilet humour and terrible puns start to wear thin after a while (I’m not looking down on toilet humour here...it just get a little repetitive after the first seventy-five minutes, that’s all). The end result is a movie that okay...it’s a good chuckle, but there’s just nothing here to raise it above the crowd.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Several slapstick moments and some over the top comedy deaths.
Sex/Nudity: Frequently referenced, but you don’t see anything. Some women dress provocatively.
Swearing: Some, but standard for the genre.
Summary: A pretty ropey horror/comedy, but it knows that it’s ropey and it plays it for laughs. For a loud night in with friends, you could do a lot worse than this...but rent, don’t buy. 4/10

Mother
Starring: Jin Goo, Kim Hye-ja, Yoon Jae-Moon
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 20th September - £17.99 (DVD) & £22.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Do-jun is a man in his mid-twenties who isn't especially bright and is somewhat easily led. Do-jun lives with his elderly mother, who loves him fiercely even though she has no illusions about his abilities or his bad habits.

Do-jun spends much of his spare time with Jin-tae, a borderline criminal who takes advantage of Do-jun's credulous nature, much to his mother's annoyance. When Do-jun is arrested by police and accused of the murder of a young woman, his mother is certain he couldn't have done it and sets out to prove her son's innocence to police detectives, who seem more interested in closing the case than researching other possible leads. At first, mother feels certain that Jin-tae has framed her son to avoid being punished himself, but as she digs deeper she suspects the truth is more complicated.

Mother is nothing is not well exectuted. The cinematography and editing, whilst not especially innovative, all look really cool. The acting (especially from the two leads) is absolutely phenomenal, and they’re both very believable in their devotion to each other (in their own way). As thriller/crime dramas go, this contains more than its fair share of plot twists and surprises, as well.

Unfortunately, most of this is the proverbial case of style over substance. If you scratch away the surface appearance, what you’re left with is pretty unsatisfying. Some sub-plots dry up and come to nothing – (and it try Asian Cinema style, it waits until past the half-way mark to introduce the second sub-lot), and characters are forgotten about when their purpose is served. Mother could have been a good thirty minutes shorter and lost nothing for it.

Furthermore the moral ambiguity of the ending backfires badly. Rather than stimulating thought, it just makes you confused and angry.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Blood, bludgeoning and torture.
Sex/Nudity: Much is discussed, but only foreplay is seen.
Swearing: Some. All in Korean.
Summary: A slightly above-average thriller. Well shot and acted, but there not anything here to truly make it unmissable. 6/10

Mega Piranha
Starring: Jesse Daly, Paul Logan, Tiffany
Director: Eric Forsberg
Metrodome Group

Available Now - £9.99 (DVD)
Review by Kelly Prior

With Mega Piranha The Asylum presents yet another strange and amusing experience inspired by a well known film. In this version of the Piranha story, a group of scientists has genetically altered a strain of Amazonian piranha to be bigger, in an effort to create new and improved food sources. Instead of achieving this goal (because that would be a pretty boring and pointless film) the piranhas instead become gigantic killing machines. Surprise, surprise. What were they thinking? Why not enlarge a fish that isn’t already notorious for its carnivorous behavior? It is then up to government agent Jason Fitch to explore the Amazon, while battling with the politics and diplomacy of the country, to try and figure out a way of stopping these monsters before they reach the open ocean and populate the rest of the world.

This movie is the type of movie that’s awful, but in a really good way. It’s laughable, cringe-worthy at times, yet still enjoyable. The plot, a mix of army action and scientific experiments, could actually have succeeded had it not been so very poorly produced on a painfully low-seeming budget. The helicopter scenes are awful and the shots where piranhas the size of houses jump into things and randomly explode into flames are beyond ridiculous. The movie uses a lot of unnecessary panning shots, and that really annoying slow-mo to fast-forward thing. This does not make the film more modern, or trendy, or artistic. It simply annoys the crap out of the viewers. Towards the end of the movie, things start to happen so fast and scenes become so disjointed, that it’s easy to get really confused.

For the most part, the acting is actually not half bad, but it’s the unfortunate choice of character that they have been given that ruins the plot. Fitch goes completely Mission: Impossible on us, especially during a hilarious montage where he rolls around like a dick on the ground and climbs walls, when really he could have just walked out of the army barracks at any point unnoticed. The writers have tried to make Fitch a military action hero, but his character just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film. This film is trying to modernise a classic movie, which really doesn’t need modernising. It is, however, a good laugh and enjoyable in that sense. You will like it...because it’s kind of crap. Don’t get too excited though, I’m not saying you won’t still sit there wondering when this abysmal film is going to finish.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Giant human-eating piranhas, Army stuff.
Sex/Nudity: Some boobage in the opening scenes.
Swearing: Enough.
Summary: You’re going to laugh the whole way through it, and then a couple of days later get really angry every time you remember bits of it. So, it’s give and take, but mostly disappointing. 4/10

Jaguar Lives
Starring: Christopher Lee, Joe Lewis, Donald Pleasence
Director: Ernest Pintoff
Arrow Video

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

Released during the height of Kung-Fu and spy movies, and with a fairly decent cast including three bond villains (Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence and Joseph Wiseman) and a Bond Girl (Barbara Bach), this surely cannot be a bad film. Can it?

Well the surprising answer is...Yes. It is very bad, and filled with flaws. Firstly, Joe Lewis, a Kung-Fu artist who has appeared in such great programmes as Walker Texas Ranger, is a pretty terrible actor and is pretty deadpan throughout the whole movie. Also, if that wasn’t bad already, the Kung-Fu is pretty sub-par, even in the final fist fight against the main bad guy.

These are not the only problems either, the plot is slow, and has an obvious plot twist that you can guess from the first five minutes into the movie. That and at the end of the film there is a glaring continuity error where it goes from night to day in the same scene.

There are a couple of good bits in Jaguar Lives. Christopher Lee (who doesn’t even appear until an hour in and is the top credit at the beginning) is great as usual. Also, there are a couple of good moves, such as when Joe Lewis abandons Kung-Fu and bites a man on the nose...Ok I may be kidding about the good moves, but it is funny to watch nonetheless.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Shonky Kung-Fu and some death scenes, but nothing really gory to enjoy.
Sex/Nudity: You get to see Joe Lewis’ steely pecks, but apart from that: No.
Swearing: A few uses, but nothing that truly stands out.
Summary: A terrible mish-mash of a spy action movie and a Kung-Fu movie, which doesn’t succeed at being either. Even the presence of Christopher Lee cannot save this one. Avoid, and watch a Bond film and Enter the Dragon instead. 4/10

Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer
Starring: Wendie Malick, Amy Pietz, Lea Thompson
Director: Andrew Lauer
High Fliers Video Distribution

Available Now – £9.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Branded as a nerd and harassed by the school bully, twelve year-old Arthur is one day rescued by a magical troll who knows that he unwittingly holds the secret to defeat an evil dragon. Arthur’s loving mum, struggling to keep her devious ex-husband from gaining custody of Arthur, dismisses her son s fantasies until she realizes the all-too-real immediate danger. She joins forces with Arthur, the troll and a dashing but washed-up video-game master. Together, they hope to conquer the dragon and the wicked vice-principal who threaten civilization!

I am going to be professional and give this review actual words, and not just a wet farting noise.

This is the worst CG we’ve ever had in a movie here at E14. I suspect that the dragon itself was animated on a 3DO or, perhaps move appropriately, even a Dragon 32.

It doesn’t feel like a movie. It feels like an episode of one those really crap TV shows like Goosebumps or Eerie Indiana. One of those ones that you were peripherally aware of but wouldn’t stoop so low as to actually watch or anything.

There’s a bit where a blue troll dances to some R&B for no explicable reason. If you’re going to have pointless music appreciation sequences, it’s going to have to be better than a
Viking ‘banging to Black Metal. That’s the current title holder at the moment.

It then does some retarded E.T. meets Flight of Dragons bit that makes you actually physically angry.

Is that enough? Good. *Wet farting noise*

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some “bullying”, scuffling and there’s a dragon. There might be a sword fight in there. I fell asleep.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Just me, baby. Just me.
Summary: A generic kid’s adventure executed very badly. Avoid. 1/10

The Haunting of Marsten Manor
Starring: Ezra Buzzington, Brianne Davis, Ken Luckey
Director: Dave Sapp
Elevation Sales

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Kelly Prior

The Haunting of Marsten Manor pretty much delivers what we would expect from its ominous title. You guessed it; it’s about a haunted house. A blind 20-something named Jill discovers that she has inherited a mansion from her aunt. Having never met her aunt, Jill finds it increasingly difficult to understand why she has been given this remarkable gift. With her best friends, Rob and Erica, she sets out to explore the new house, hoping to discover more about her heritage while they stay there. Spooky noises start to disturb the group of youths, while Jill begins having visions of a woman she doesn’t know. Soon the three friends are forced to question each other’s loyalty and sanity as they try to decipher what is a real threat and what is merely the memory of an old haunted house.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Expecting something quite generic and clichéd, I was happy to discover that The Haunting of Marsten Manor actually holds a great deal of charm and has an interesting and compelling plot. This film seems to be more of a classic example of a haunting, rather than the Hollywood style hauntings that rely on “jumpy bits”, women screaming, and blood and gore. The music is very atmospheric and well timed, making the viewing experience more nostalgic of the old fashioned horror movies like Hitchcock's well-known Psycho.

This film offers lots of nail-biting suspense but instead of a climactic ending with terrifying revelations and a bunch of people getting massacred, we are instead given a slow paced, touching and emotional ending which offers closure to the viewers. There is an interesting twist, though most horror movie fans will have seen the signs and worked it out half way through the film. Overall, The Haunting of Marsten Manor is satisfactory and enjoyable to watch. The cute and immature Rob, and the quirky, alternative Erica make up for the really sucky, moany character of Jill, who spends the whole film reminding us that, by the way, she’s blind. There are some hints of a love story there but not enough to really warrant it being there. The “haunting” is done by implants, or memories, that the house has kept within its walls. This is an interesting and not entirely unrealistic concept, which makes the story more interesting, and if you want to go there and get all sciencey, it could really happen. Theoretically...Maybe...Well, it makes for good viewing experience!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Scenes with guns, some strongly worded threats.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Not a significant amount.
Summary: This film is an interesting interpretation of the classic “haunted house” story, so all you horror buffs will have to check it out. If you’re just looking to be scared senseless, however, this is simply not going to deliver. 6/10

The Wrong Door
Starring: Phillip Barron, John Cam, Aidan Hawkes
Director: Ben Wheatley
2entertain

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

The Wrong Door is a surreal sketch comedy, which seems to be set in a parallel universe where film and TV special effects are part of everyday life. It also contains a wide variety of different comedians and actors throughout the series, including Brian Blessed (Blackadder, Flash Gordon), Matt Berry (Garth Merenghi’s: Darkplace, The IT Crowd), Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers, Doomsday), and Gina Bellman (Coupling, Leverage).

Sadly, despite all the fairly large names for a comedy sketch show, the programme relies too heavily on its special effects (which are pretty poor even when compared to other BBC programmes like Dr Who) rather than actual comedy writing. This also means that a lot of the jokes in the show feel like they are being surreal for the sake of being surreal rather than being surreal for the sake of being funny. It is this sort of humour that would be perfectly acceptable for a children’s comedy show, but sadly, the wrong door cannot accommodate for this due to some of the adult content of its “humour” (swearing, sexual references).

The Wrong Door does occasionally raise the odd chuckle, such as shonky superheroes trying out for an X-Factor style superhero show, and a person having flying lessons in a 747, but these laughs are so few and far between that there really isn’t much here to recommend it to anyone, even if they like surreal comedy such as The Mighty Boosh.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some death and violence, but used for comedic purposes such as a rocket man style superhero setting himself on fire when he tries to fly.
Sex/Nudity: Some references but nothing is shown.
Swearing: Some swearing in a vain attempt to be funny but nothing else.
Summary: Like a lot of Hollywood blockbusters, The Wrong Door is a comedy sketch show that is more style than substance, but even fails to do that with its shonky special effects. Your best bet is to avoid and stick to much better sketch shows like Armstrong and Miller, or That Mitchell and Webb Look. 3/10

Mars Attacks!
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman
Director: Tim Burton
Warner Home Video

Available from Monday 20th September - £17.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

Tim Burton’s tribute to the 50’s B-movie has always been a bit of a Marmite film. I personally have always enjoyed it, as it succeeded in doing what it set out to do: be an enjoyable and comical thrill ride whilst never truly taking itself too seriously. But how does Mars Attacks! fair with the transition to Blu-ray?

On the plus side, there are certain aspects that have been improved, most importantly is that the special effects look a lot better, especially when you consider that they were never the film’s strong point. Special mention should go to the flaming cows at the beginning of the film, which now look like they are actually attached to the cow rather than being shonkily placed above them, as they seemed to look in the DVD version. Certain parts of the film also look nice and crisp, especially the outdoor scenes where the Martians first attack at the welcoming ceremony.

However, for some reason, other scenes just don’t look that greatly enhanced, and the sound isn’t hugely impressive either, just competent, which is pretty damning when HD awesomeness should be raping my ears at every opportunity. The biggest oversight is the complete lack of extras on offer, which is surprising when compared with other Tim Burton films.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Over the top disintegrations and comedy deaths are the order of the day. Seeing Jack Black being turned into a skeleton is still immensely satisfying though.
Sex/Nudity: Fairly mild, with any nudity used in a comical sense.
Swearing: A fair amount of swear words, used to comical effect.
Summary: At the end of the day you have a Marmite film with a Marmite Blu-ray release. Fans will reap the enhanced quality and it may be worth picking this up when it comes down in price. But if you like Tim Burton, Mars Attacks! is still an enjoyable cheese fest that is definitely worth a watch. 7/10

The Beast in Space
Starring: Sirpa Lane, Vassili Karis, Lucio Rosato
Director: Alfonso Brescia
Shameless

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Kelly Prior

Well, where do I start? This film follows Captain Madison as he visits a surprisingly non-futuristic looking nightclub of the future and meets a couple of women. He gets in a few fights, has some sex, and is given a mission to fly himself and his crew to a far away planet, presumably never touched by man, in search of dangerous material that may be of use to the government. One of the crew members is Sondra, a constantly bemused and slightly drunk looking woman who has dreams about running around in a forest and getting raped on a strange planet. She tells Madison all about these dreams, and then he ignores her. Sure enough, when they arrive on the planet, it turns out to be the planet from Sondra’s dreams. She then tells us this, just in case we haven’t worked it out for ourselves. Well, basically, she gets raped, by a monster, and the others are too drugged up and sex crazed to help her.

That’s the plot. Honestly, that’s it. Don’t try digging around for a more intelligent and meaningful story, because you won’t find one here. The fight scenes are terribly choreographed, unconvincing and amusing. This film also boasts some of the most awkward erotica I have ever seen. The sex scenes are long, pointless and boring. The costumes are awful, tacky things that, in an attempt to look futuristic, are made of rubber and brightly coloured. Irritating synthesized music blares out the whole way through the film. While this type of music is a common characteristic for science fiction films, there really is no need for it to be quite so annoying. As if The Beast in Space was not already a big enough insult to science fiction fans, they randomly decide to have a lightsaber fight at the end, out of the blue. Not that type of lightsaber fight.

This film is terrible, and I mean truly terrible. Having no production value whatsoever, and some of the worst actors I have ever seen, this film is only worth buying if you want to laugh your face off at the “menacing” faun with the massive dong who rapes Sondra. The only redeeming feature of this film is the fact that, whether they can act or not, lots of people are naked most of the time. Sondra’s tit gets the majority of the camera time.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Rape. Crap fighting scenes.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of nudity, lots of really fake looking sex.
Swearing: None.
Summary: If you’re looking for a cheeky wank, this one will do, but for god’s sake turn it off before the faun scene. If you’re genuinely looking for a well made and enjoyable example of science fiction erotica, then you will just be disappointed and confused. 3/10


THE BIG BANG THEORY: SEASON THREE GIVEAWAY

Worlds collide in The Big Bang Theory: Season Three! A love affair with Penny has opened a big, wide, wonderful world of romance for Leonard. But Sheldon likes the world just the way it was, thank you. All of which makes for a zany comic triangle with brainy, clueless Sheldon and practical, grounded Penny hilariously vying for the role of hypotenuse.

This complete three disc, twenty-three episode Season Three set also features Raj, Howard, tattoos, football, awkward dates, jail time, Stan Lee, a The Lord of the Rings ring and all the fun of a series that only gets better.

We’ve got a copy of The Big Bang Theory: Season Three to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to bigbangtheorygiveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Saturday 25th September. The first name out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

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