Saturday, 30 October 2010

DVD Reviews

Predators
Starring: Adrien Brody, Eric Foreman, Danny Trejo
Director: Nimrod Antal
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 1st November - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy Set)
Review by Blake Harmer

A group of killers chosen for their ability to kill without conscience - some trained, some not - have been captured and dropped on a jungle planet to be hunted by the Predators. Will these human hunters be able to survive now that they have become the prey? After twenty years since the last true sequel, and having to endure the likes of terrible movie AVP2: Requiem, the Predator needed a film to do it justice and bring the franchise into the 21st century. Thankfully director Nimrod Antal and producer Robert Rodriguez have noticed this and given the Predator the update it deserves.

The film is great mainly because it captures the essence of the first Predator film. From the jungle setting, to the team of survivors being picked off one by one. It also captures the feel of the creature itself, from the traps the predators lay, to the weapons they use. It is also great as it shows a little more insight into the predator race, such as their dog like creatures they use to find and flush out the survivors at the beginning of the film. Also, Adrien Brody’s Royce makes for a great hard man action hero and makes for a worthy successor to Schwartzenegger’s Dutch. Also, with a crisp Blu-ray release with plenty of extras to keep Predator fans happy, this is a great film.

The film does have its flaws, though. It does seem a bit too reliant on trying to constantly reference the original Predator than focusing on being original to the franchise, and the plot may not be that fresh for the sci-fi action genre. But the main point is that the Predator, possibly one of the hardest monsters in the universe is back, and with a sequel it truly deserves.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Plenty of guns, explosions and people being cut to pieces by large wrist blades.
Sex/Nudity: None, a bad joke about rape, but nothing else.
Swearing: Quite a few f words and S words but doesn’t really feel overused considering it is part of the action genre.
Summary: A thoroughly enjoyable action romp that whilst not having too much originality to the proceedings, has plenty to keep the fans happy whilst expanding the concept of the Predator creature and giving it more dimensions. Chuck in a great Blu-ray release with plenty of extras and you have great package that easily erases the horrors of AVP2. 8/10
7 Days
Starring: Rose-Marie Coallier, Claude Legault, Fanny Mallette (No, not a joke. Her name is Fanny Mallet)
Director: Daniel Grou
E1 Entertainment

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

7 Days is the remarkably harrowing story of Bruno Hamel, a doctor whose life is thrown into misery when his beloved daughter is raped and murdered on her way to hand out her birthday invitations. After his marriage begins to fall apart, he literally has nothing left to lose, so he hatches a plot to kidnap the man who killed his daughter. In a remote country house, he begins his seven days of brutal torture on the man who took everything away from him.

It’s a very thought provoking movie. It plants the question in your mind; what would you do, if you caught the man who raped and murdered your child? Could you be humane and offer forgiveness, or could you find the monster within yourself?

The distinct lack of musical score is very unsettling, but in a good way. This film wants you to feel uncomfortable. It’s very difficult to watch, and is in fact very fucked up at some points. It’s a great look into the human psyche and the need to seek revenge. We see the action from two different perspectives; from Hamel’s, and from the perspective of the detective who is trying to find him. It’s an intense crime thriller that really puts the viewer under pressure.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Very gruesome scenes of torture
Sex/Nudity: None, but paedophilia is a big topic throughout.
Swearing: Plenty.
Summary: This film is pretty tormenting, and quite uncomfortable to watch. But, it’s obviously intentional, and does add to the experience. 5/10
Chanbara Striptease
Starring: Ryo Akanishi, Sasa Handa
Director: Akira Hirose
Manga Entertainment

Available Now – £17.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Following the death of her mother, Lili has been living with her grandmother and is about to become the latest in a long line of female warriors adept at the deadly martial art of Sayama Hashinryu. During a ceremony inducting her into the ranks, Lili is transported to a small village in 18th Century Japan, where she finds herself naked and alone. In no time at all she is fulfilling her destiny as a warrior by rescuing a young pregnant girl, Miss Yae, from ninja members of the Yamishika gang. It transpires that the gang is working for the evil Lady Okinu, who is running a protection racket throughout the local villages.

After being introduced to, and falling for, Yae’s brother, Hikoichi, Lili agrees to help the villagers by taking on Lady Okinu. Believing her samurai swordfighting skills – not to mention her magical, power-enhanced breasts (yeah, she has to have her tits out to fight properly) Lili is confident she can overcome the despot.

This movie is pure TITillation. See what I did there? Chanbara Striptease is that subtle.

This is totally, unbelievably, Japanically insane...and not in a good way something like Big Tits Zombie is. This is trying way, way too hard to be kooky and insane...and when something tries too hard to be kooky, it just becomes very, very annoying (cf. Pink). If Chanbara Striptease could be likened to any Western movie in feel and tone, it would be Tank Girl. And that’s never, ever a good thing.

The kung-fu is terrible. I’ve seen more convincing weapon wielding in Norwegian Black Metal music videos. This is really just generally very, very irritating.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Frequent sword combat and magical battles.
Sex/Nudity: The heroine needs to have her tits out to activate her magic powers. So does the baddie. They fight and jiggle and fight and fight and jiggle like a porny Itchy and Scratchy. There is also one surprisingly strong sex scene. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a porn movie with all the sex cut out. Come to think of it, that explains a lot. An awful lot. I’m onto you, Japan...
Swearing: Some, but nothing particularly memorable.
Summary: Strangely pointy tits aren’t enough to save this movie from the dull plot, predictable twists, sloppy kung-fu and overall stupidity. 2/10
Haunting at the Beacon
Starring: Elaine Hendrix, Teri Polo, David Rees Snell
Director: Michael Stokes
Scanbox Entertainment

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

While recovering from the loss of their son a couple relocate to the Beacon Apartments only to find that the building is haunted by a young boy. In an attempt to contact their own son, they try freeing the ghost only to discover a dark, malevolent entity stalks the halls of the Beacon.

The direction here is really, really lazy. It feels like a lame Hallmark channel Halloween special of some sort. The main problem it faces is that the central mystery really isn’t very interesting. Why do they give a fuck about this young boy? Why when he’s not scary anyway? I’ve shat myself more whilst watching Teddy Ruxpin than this.

The director makes several attempts towards a J-Horror The Grudge/Dark Water style of cinematography, but it’s very frequently let down by how awful it is. Then the last thirty turns into a zombie movie for no explicable reason, and a Doc Marten boot lashes out and the screen cracks. Michael Stokes, you owe me a new TV.

Finally, whilst I love the guy, Michael Ironside is rarely a seal of quality, is he?

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Some bludgeoning, shooting and scuffling.
Sex/Nudity: Some BDSM type shenanigans.
Swearing: Some, but pretty mild, all told.
Summary: A dull haunted house story that really doesn’t offer anything interesting for the first hour, then gives up on making any kind of sense for a ridiculous ending. 3/10
Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated
Starring: Karl Hardman, Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea
Director: George A. Romero/Mike Schneider
Wienerworld

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

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated is a collaborative artistic mash-up of George Romero's cult classic original zombie movie. Nearly 150 International artists and animators chose their favourite scenes and re-envisioned them through their own artwork, with no restrictions on style, media or process - resulting in an eclectic 'art show' interpretation of the seminal 1968 film, all placed over the original's audio.

With work ranging from oil paintings to comic illustrations and sock puppets to CGI and stop-motion - Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated not only pays the respect due to this most important work in horror history, but encourages viewers to experience the film in a brand new light that bursts with the humour and horror of a new generation of artists.

The effect of several different artistic and animation styles spliced together in rapid succession isn’t as jarring as it sounds. In fact, it’s like watching a movie whilst simultaneously viewing an art gallery. The artwork is generally of a high quality (the only repeatedly seen ones of questionable quality are the machinima segments. These are just jerky and distracting), and highly enjoyable.

If you’re a fan of the original movie, then you’ll really enjoy this. How well it will stand up to repeat viewings depends on whether or not you’re into art and animation, really. However, if you liked the sound of this and were wondering whether or not to take the plunge: go for it. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Very, very well.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Frequent riot/scuffling type violence, and some cannibalism.
Sex/Nudity: One nude zombie, not very clear in this version.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A great looking experiment. It’s fun, but you’ll be unlikely to watch this more than once. Well worth a rental, though. Still, bring on Dawn of the Dead! 8/10
Twelve
Starring: Jeremy Fitzgeral, Emily Hardy, Mercedes McNab
Director: Michael A. Nickles
Chelsea Cinema

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

Right, let me just get this synopsis out of the way, and then I can start telling you why you should never watch this film.

Leonard Karlsson has been released from prison after five years of being abused and mutilated by his fellow prisoners. Left with a grossly disfigured face, he wears a freakish mask to cover his shame. Karlsson has only one goal now that he is free from prison; to track down the twelve members of the jury who convicted him and make them pay. Basically, he has no face so he decides to take their faces away too. Not the most original plot, to be fair.

So, Claire and Vicki, two young girls who were on that ill-fated jury, take it upon themselves to save the townspeople and themselves from this menacing killer. Meanwhile, there’s an FBI agent who “goes missing” (he dies, I don’t care if I’m spoiling it) early on and, for some reason, is never spoken about again, and we are forced to watch far too many scenes about the world's worst deputy sheriff ever. And not in a funny way.

Just don’t bother. It’s terrible. I actually can’t bring myself to believe that it won Best Film at the 2009 annual International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival. Standards must be getting lower. The lead actress, Emily Hardy, looks and acts just like Kristen Stewart, which is obviously a very, very, very bad thing. Her totally dead-pan approach to acting made the film painful to watch.

Twelve is crammed full of clich├ęs, and not in a cool Tarantino sort of way. It’s also full of plot holes and I’m not even joking when I say you actually learn more about the plot from the blurb on the back of the DVD case than you do watching the film. The ending is appalling; so anti-climactic and disappointing. The film is actually pretty boring in parts, and never really has a chance to get going before it’s over. Oh, and the effects are awful, and the blood might as well be strawberry sauce. There are some good factors though, I suppose. The masked or disfigured monster makes for a great iconic horror villain. And a guy gets his head blown off which is pretty cool.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Is ketchup considered violent?
Sex/Nudity: Nope
Swearing: No, these people speak really courteously considering they are about to die.
Summary: Just...no. An insult to true horror fans. 1/10
Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season
Starring: Erica Durance, Allison Mack, Tom Welling
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £49.99 (DVD) & £59.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Soaring into its ninth season, this modern retelling of the Superman legend and its classic characters continues to blend realism, action and emotional depth to reveal a new interpretation of the enduring mythology. This season, as Metropolis's clock tower tolls our characters' darkest hour, we find Clark Kent finally making his first attempts to embrace his calling as a superhero.

Clark tells Jor-El he's ready to start his training, but Jor-El sends him back to Metropolis to cut ties with Lois before he can begin. Chloe is shocked when Lois suddenly reappears after having been missing for weeks -- but Lois has no recollection of vanishing into thin air with the Legion ring. While investigating a monorail crash, Lois meets John Corben, a new reporter at The Daily Planet, with a negative attitude toward the “Red-Blue Blur”. Meanwhile, Oliver continues down a dark road, and Zod arrives at the Luthor mansion.

This is definitely Smallville’s best season so far, the storyline is dark and twisted, the newly introduced characters are well developed and it finally feels like it has grown up and joined the big bad world. I finally feel like I am getting to the root of Clark Kent and his development into Superman. You see him battling with his need for human contact as well as trying to put his feelings to one side so perform as a superhero trying to save the people of Earth.

The new villain in town is Major Zod and he has brought his army of Kandorians with him, it is great to see the Clark struggle with his trying to help the Kandorians acclimatise to their new surroundings whilst at the same time trying to save the humans from this new alien species living on earth.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Plenty of violence and destruction
Sex/Nudity: Plenty of scenes where you know sex has either happened or about to take place, unfortunately no nakedness, not even some side-boob action.
Swearing: The odd “bitch” dotted around the place.
Summary: This is Smallville’s best season yet. A great watch, still has some cheesy moments but the overall plot is great. 7/10
Baccano!: The Complete Series
Starring: Caitlin Glass, Brina Palencia, J. Michael Tatum
Director: Takahiro Omori
Manga Entertainment

Available Now - £39.99 (4 DVD Set)
Review by Brad Harmer

Don't let nobody tell you there's no future in a life of crime, because some rackets can last forever.

A mafia turf war is raging on the mean streets of the Big Apple, a place where regular joes bounce between backdoor booze joints and the breadline. But this caper ain't about a simple gangland brawl. It's about hoods who can't seem to die proper after catching a bullet or five between the eyes. Sadistic hit-men and the dames they love, mad bombers going boom, monsters going bump and soul sucking alchemists bootlegging an elixir of eternal life.

I didn’t really know what to expect when Baccano! arrived, and I’m still not 100% sure that I know now. What I do know is that despite my well documented grudging acceptable of “Anime Duty” and the fact I am still the only member of the E14 team to actively declare war on Japan (three times, so far), I want it to be known that Baccanno! is awesome. The animation is great, and even the voice acting works. The humour translates well and the story is one of the best I’ve seen in an anime (clever, but not so clever that it disappears up its own dimension shifting, talking, Gothic Lolita dolls backside).

If you’re into anime, then pick this up without hesitation. If you’ve never seen anime before: firstly, this is a really good one to start with, and secondly, where do you live? I might move there.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Several strong scenes of gangland violence, shootings, stabbings, beatings, and explosions. Very frequent blood and gore.
Sex/Nudity: Some romance.
Swearing: Some strong uses.
Summary: An excellent, pulp, action horror story with some great animation to boot! 9/10
Se7en
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey
Director: David Fincher
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £17.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

David Fincher’s excellent thriller has finally come to Blu-ray...but has it been worth the wait for this gory tale of two detectives trying to track down a killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi?

Happily I can safely say it is a resounding "yes". The film is still as gripping as it has always been, and the films iconic plot twist still holds up well and is more cerebral than the majority of films it has influenced (I’m looking at you Saw franchise). Also, the transfer to Blu-ray is very crisp. As the film is very dark, the blacks truly stand out in the conversion and look phenomenal. Also the sound has been greatly improved and adds greatly to the feel of the film, especially during the tenser parts.

There are also plenty of extras to keep fans of the film busy such as plenty of commentaries. However, the biggest addition is the fact that you can choose different masters of the sound and video so you can really notice how much has been done to the film for its re-release.

There a couple of niggles, such as the film not looking as impressive during the lighter scenes when compared to the darker ones, but these are just minor problems and do not really detract from the main enjoyment of this re-release.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Plenty of gory murder scenes are shown throughout, but you don’t actually see it occur and the true horror of the murder is more implied than shown. It is very well done, though.
Sex/Nudity: A naked fat man. Probably not a great recommendation for the film, but other nudity is more implied than actually shown throughout the film.
Swearing: Plenty of swearing including eighty-seven uses of the f word according to IMDB. That’s pretty good going for a thriller.
Summary: In short this is an excellent package, and one that is definitely worth getting if you are a fan of the film, and if you haven’t seen Seven? Then you should definitely get this as this is truly a great thriller that still stands the test of time over the last 15 years since it was first released. 9/10
The World at War: The Ultimate Restored Edition
Starring: Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Some Tanks
Fremantle Home Entertainment

Available Now - £79.99 (DVD) & £99.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

The World at War is one of the greatest documentary series ever made. First broadcast in 1973 when memories of the Second World War were still clear in people's minds and the war's veterans numerous, across twenty-six episodes this unique series assembled these recollections, together with archive footage, to create one of the most powerful and successful historical documentaries ever seen.

The World at War is the perfect grounding in World War II history. Little to no prior knowledge is assumed, and everything is clearly and concisely explained. The archive footage is interesting enough on its own, but the remastering job that has taken place for this edition is simply stellar. There are very few scratches or other forms of distortion visible, and the sound is also as good at it can possibly be.

A little pricy for a Christmas present, perhaps, but if you’re into World War II, you should certainly treat yourself to this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Near constant.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: You’d have to go a long way to find a better World War II documentary than this, and this is the best it’s ever looked. The picture and sound is superb. If you’re into your World War II history, you should own this. 10/10

TANK BATTLES OF WORLD WAR II GIVEAWAY

Focusing on the German tank strategies and the invasion into Russia in 1941, Tank Battles of World War II looks to be a pretty entertaining and informative ride. With tanks.

Though outnumbered two to one, the Germans' superior training and tactics gave them the edge in capturing the city of Kiev. They were stopped only twenty miles from Moscow by the powerful Russian T-34 tanks and the bitterly cold winter, which historians consider being a turning point in the war.

Meanwhile, in North Africa, German troops, led by General Erwin Rommel, outclassed and outnumbered the Allied forces until General Patton and his American troops arrived in Tunisia and provided reinforcements.

Thanks to our friends at G2 Entertainment, we've got two copies of Tank Battles of World War II to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to tankbattlesgiveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Saturday 6th November. The first two names out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!

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