Saturday, 6 November 2010

DVD Reviews

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Starring: Thomas Dekker, Jackie Earle Haley, Kellan Lutz
Director: Samuel Bayer
Warner Home Video
Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-Ray/DVD Combi)
Review by Rob Wade

Five teenage friends living on one street all dream of a sinister man with a disfigured face, a frightening voice and a gardener's glove with knives for fingers. One by one, he terrorizes them within their dreams - where the rules are his and the only way out is to wake up. But when one among them dies, they soon realize that what happens in their dreams happens for real and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake. Buried in their past is a debt that has just come due. To save themselves, they must plunge into the mind of the most twisted nightmare of all: Freddy Krueger.

Ultimately, the task of remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street was always going to be a challenging one. One of the most beloved horror franchises in recent memory (though for my money I couldn’t tell you why), along with one of the most recognisable villains in horror history, the film series is notorious for its horror appeal. As if that isn’t enough of a feather in its cap, the film series was voted in the top 100 scariest moments in horror history by Channel 4, and that was hosted by Jimmy Carr!

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to have a slight issue with the film in this case. If you’ve seen Jaws then this will hopefully make sense. Now, this is not a knock on the Freddie Krueger costume and make-up in the movie: I actually think it looks awesome and suitably gruesome for a man burned to death by an irate mob. The problem I have is that really early on in the film you start seeing Freddie, and there seems to just be a little wind taken out of his sails from then on.

There’s something to be said for the CG in this movie as well. In the first instance, the wallpaper comes alive and some assorted bollocks, which is a little trite, but then there’s one scene in particular where a woman is running down a corridor with a red carpet, and the carpet morphs slowly into a lake of blood. It’s absolutely seamless, and looks phenomenal in motion.

The main issue I have with the film, Jaws effect aside, is that it tries very hard to have a twist. It sounds strange, I know. Anyone who’s seen the original movie will attest that there is a heavy suggestion that Freddie Krueger was a paedophile. It’s never implicitly stated, but it’s so heavily implied that they might as well have said it, and yet they don’t. Anyway, halfway through the film, the teenagers start to question whether or not the parents were actually right to burn Krueger to a crisp.

I started to think that maybe the twist was that the film was a slight on mob justice, and that one should never take the law into their own hands. Imagine my dismay, then, when the rest of the film hammers home “Nope, he was a paedophile. They’re bad, we don’t like them. Those paedophiles, you know what they are? Bad. That’s what they are.” I get it; the producers of the film do not endorse child molestation. I didn’t need the last twenty minutes of the movie to kick me in the face with the shoes of virtue.

On the plus side, the message by implication is also “Teenagers don’t know shit about shit”, a message that I can truly get behind.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: A fair bit of slashing, hardly surprising given the subject matter though.
Sex/Nudity: None. Disappointingly, it seems to be deliberately awkward rather than show even the slightest hint of skin.
Swearing: A few “fuck” and “shit” uses.
Summary: The problem here is that it doesn’t seem to do enough one way or the other to be either terrible or excellent. As it is, it’s just...meh. 6/10
The Losers
Starring: Chris Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana
Director: Sylvain White
Optimum Home Entertainment
Available Now – £17.99 (DVD) & £23.99 (Blu-Ray)
Review by Rob Wade

The long-awaited big-screen adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name follows a former Special Forces team in the 90s, 'The Losers'. Betrayed by their handler, Max, and left for dead following the conclusion of their operation the team are intent on revenge. Eager for the opportunity to remove their names from a secret CIA death list, the Losers regroup and conduct covert operations against the CIA and its interests, uncovering startling operations spearheaded by the enigmatic Max, whose influence within the CIA and US government is unparalleled.

The Losers is one of those movies that can easily get pigeon-holed with the usual brainless action fare, particularly as when it was released I was hearing more information about The Expendables than this. It’s a shame, because all the people I’ve asked about The Expendables have told me that it was absolutely dire, whereas this film is bollocking awesome.

Let’s deal with the negatives first: if you’re searching for a completely original story that is devoid of anything remotely trite or clich├ęd, you won’t find that here. The story is about a renegade group of mercenaries who are left for dead, and take revenge on their betrayer. It’s not entirely original, but the movie is definitely worth a watch.

The cast is excellent in this movie, with Chris Evans as usual providing comedic highlights in the form of some wise-ass remarks. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is great too as the leader who is struggling to come to terms with not being a soldier. The dialogue is razor-sharp, and the plot kicks along at a really good speed. When a small twist does hit, it’s sufficiently well done that it makes up for a much more contrived twist later on in the story.
Ultimately, the movie is a little predictable at times, but it’s such a well done story that you may not even care.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Lots of gunfights and fistfights, and one guy loses an eye.
Sex/Nudity: None. You think there’s going to be some, but then there’s not. Frequent references.
Swearing: A few, mainly “shit” and “bullshit”, one “fuck”.
Summary: A seriously enjoyable blast worthy of inclusion in any action film library 8/10
Blood Snow
Starring: Michael Berryman, Penny Drake, James Kyson-Lee
Director: James Robert Stephens
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

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

A weekend away turns bad when a furious snowstorm traps a group of friends in an isolated cabin high up Donner Mountain a notorious peak named after a massacre that took place there some 150 years ago. As the snow rolls in and the sea of white consumes everything before them, they start to see strange apparitions. But is it just cabin fever playing tricks on their minds, or something altogether more sinister?

As the frightening episodes become more intense, the friends will have to fight not only the elements but each other, as natural instincts kick in and the friends turn into bloodthirsty enemies. No one can be trusted, no one can be left along, but can anyone make it out? And will you still give a crap by the time the credits roll?

Short answer, no. Whilst the direction is solid, Blood Snow is plagued by a bland and unimaginative script, and frequent technical errors. The dialogue is stilted and awful, and sometimes even partially inaudible (I suspect they used the original take, and did not re-dub the speech).

The make-up and gore work is passable, but when the lighting in one scene is from the opposite direction that the candles are in, it’s pretty obvious that no bugger involved really knew what they were doing.

My favourite part is when they find a frozen body in the snow, and go “We’d better not tell the girls!”, before walking away, leaving it where it lays, food for Wendigo and coyote.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Lots of blood, gore, stabbering and shootifying.
Sex/Nudity: Some bikinis and forpe.
Swearing: Normal for the genre.
Summary: Unimaginative, terribly rushed feeling psychological slasher. 3/10
Humains
Starring: Sara Forestier, Philippe Nahon, Dominique Pinton
Director: Jacques-Olivier Molon & Pierre-Olivier Thevenin
Scanbox Entertainment

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

A team of researchers travel to the Swiss Alps to investigate a scientific discovery on human evolution. However, the trip soon turns into a deadly fight for survival when the team crash into a gully and find themselves falling prey to someone...or something.

Anyway, it turns out (and I’m not spoiling anything that you won’t be able to guess in the first fifteen minutes here – the telegraphing systems is in top working order) that the monsters are (somehow still surviving and unevolved) Neanderthals. All in all, ladies and gentlemen, Humains works out to be “Meh”. I know that doesn’t look all that professional in an upstanding and totally mature ‘site like Emotionally Fourteen, but here it applies.

Whilst well acted, directed and edited, Humains simply doesn’t work all that well. There’s no real cohesion, and everything feels like a bunch of survival horror sequences edited together, without any real thought as to how they’re going to work in the grand scheme of things. The monsters are pretty ropey, too. If you’re looking for a horror/thriller/monster movie, I can think of at least three that do it better than this. And they all have the words “Jurassic” and “Park” in the title.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Frequent strong horror violence and gore.
Sex/Nudity: Some partial nudity.
Swearing: Normal for the genre.
Summary: Competently put together, but nothing that the Jurassic Park movies didn’t do a million times better. 5/10
The Cleveland Show: Season One
Starring: Mike Henry, Sanaa Lathan, Kevin Michael Richardson
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £27.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

The Cleveland Show follows everyone’s favorite soft-spoken neighbor, Cleveland Brown, to his hometown in Virginia as he settles down with his high school sweetheart, her unruly kids and his own 14-year-old son, Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson).

Many years ago, Cleveland was a high school student madly in love with a beautiful girl named Donna. Much to his dismay, his love went unrequited, and Donna wound up marrying another man. Cleveland once told Donna he would always love her, and if this man ever done her wrong, he’d be there when she called. Now Donna’s husband HAS run off, leaving Donna with a teenage daughter and a young son. Now she’s open to Cleveland and has offered him another chance at love.

True to his word, Cleveland joyously reunites with Donna, and he and Cleveland Jr. settle in Virginia to join their new family. In Virginia, there are a few surprises in store for Cleveland, including Roberta, a rebellious new stepdaughter; Rallo, his new 5-year-old stepson who loves the ladies; and a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouthed redneck, Lester; a hipster wanna-be, Holt; and a religious pair of talking bears, Tim (Seth MacFarlane) and his wife Arianna.

The Cleveland Show may not have the gag rate of other Seth MacFarlane produced cartoons that you’re no doubt already comparing this to as we speak, but when the laughs come, they are huge. They make you do that laugh you’re embarrassed of, that makes you sound like the kid at school that you felt sorry for.

The characters are all awesome, especially Rallo and Tim, who became firm E14 favourites by the end of the first disc. If you’re a fan of adult/comedy animation, then this is well worth taking a look at.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Frequent and relatively strong comedy violence.
Sex/Nudity: Several references to sex and, more often, sexual frustration.
Swearing: Several “fucks”, but mostly “damns”.
Summary: A highly entertaining show. Fans of Family Guy shouldn’t try and compare the two...this is just more of the same. Sometimes funnier, too. 9/10
The Skeleton Key
Starring: Kate Hudson, John Hurt, Gena Rowlands
Director: Iain Softley
Universal Pictures

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

When Caroline Ellis (Hudson) takes a job in Louisiana's bayous, she unlocks a deadly secret involving magic, conjure and sacrifice that pulls her into a terrifying world of strange, frightening and unexplained incidents. The key to escaping may lie in a decrepit attic, but if she dares to believe in what she discovers, everything she fears will become real!

The Skeleton Key is competently shot, and competently acted. It’s just unfortunately very, very dull. Much time is spent with much supposedly “spooky” type stuff happening, but there’s very little spent on the actual development at all, as a result of which, the “surprise/twist” ending just ends up feeling very forced and Scooby Doo. Not even John Hurt can save this one from the mediocre pile.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some blood.
Sex/Nudity: Side boob.
Swearing: Not much for a mainstream horror movie.
Summary: A very bland Gothic horror movie. The Blu-ray makeover isn’t especially impressive, so fans would be advised to stick with the DVD. 4/10

TYSON UNLEASHED GIVEAWAY

Tyson: Unleashed is the official authorised story of the world conquering baddest man on the planet "Iron" Mike Tyson. Offering a never before seen insight into the legends remarkable rise from Brooklyn New York to the glittering heights of becoming the world’s youngest Heavyweight Champion, Tyson: Unleashed is the one off authorised story in "Iron" Mike's own words.

For the first time the legendary explosive heavyweight boxing champion talks live about his outrageously successful and destructive life. From the gutters of Brooklyn, New York to the "Baddest Man on the Planet" Tyson enlightens us all in this unique one off live environment. Ear biting, Prison and Bankruptcy; you’ve heard the stories, now hear it from the man himself.

The DVD offers an intriguing, heart warming documentary on Tyson’s ferocious rise and fall from grace; including his early life problems where he states that "I ruined a lot of people's lives for my own pleasure", to his glittering career as the undisputed heavyweight champion ("It wasn't fair for the other fighters - they didn't know what hit them..."). Tyson: Unleashed is the ultimate insight into this complex and unique superstar of the sporting world.

Tyson: Unleashed is the ultimate boxing DVD and the ideal gift this Christmas for boxing and sports fans alike.

Thanks to our friends at Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, we've got three copies of Tyson: Unleashed to give away! For your chance of winning, send in your name and full postal address to tysongiveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Saturday 13th November. The first three entries out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!

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