Saturday 27 November 2010

DVD Reviews

The A-Team
Starring: Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson
Director: Joe Carnahan
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 29th November - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Extended Edition Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Copy)
Review by Brad Harmer

The A-Team follows the exciting and daring exploits of John "Hannibal" Smith (Qui-Gon Jinn), Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Bradley Cooper), Captain "Howling Mad" Murdock (the guy from District 9) and Sgt Bosco "B.A." Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson): renegade Special Forces soldiers framed for a crime they did not commit. Going "rogue," the team must utilize their unique talents - and eccentricities - to clear their names and find the true culprit.

Okay, pretty much all you need to know about this movie is that it features a tank parachuting out of a C-130 Hercules. Firing its guns. With a Jedi inside.

In fact, if you’re looking for action, action and more action, then The A-Team is the movie for you. With explosions aplenty, near constant gunfire, and some really excellent stunt-flying sequences, it’s like the 1980s are here again. In a really good way. Not in a New Romantic way. That would be horrible.

Of course, constant explosions would get boring (as the sales of my VHS When Good Things Things Go Bang would seem to indicate), so it’s good that the characters are all endearing and loveable. It’s genuinely hard to pick a favourite, they’re that awesome, and the casting is spectacular. The humour is genuinely funny and...well, what can I say? This is how you should make an action movie.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Near constant explosions, gunfire and fighting.
Sex/Nudity: Some snogging.
Swearing: Frequent, but not especially strong.
Summary: A great, fun, action movie, with loveable characters. As fun as the original series, without forcing in a load of “ironic” gags. Well worth checking out. 9/10

Second Opinion: "The A-Team" is a fun action film that I believe everyone will enjoy, and you do not have to have watched the original TV series in order to see the appeal of this film. Grab a large bucket of popcorn and enjoy. 8/10 - Charlotte Barnes

Starring: Adrien Brody, Delphine Chaneac, Sarah Polley
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 29th November - £17.99 (DVD) & £23.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Kelly Prior

Splice is the exciting new thriller from the mind who brought you the intensely psychological Cube. Adrien Brody (King Kong, The Pianist) and Sarah Polley (Go, Me Without You) play a young, career-driven couple, both scientists working together on one of the world’s biggest breakthroughs. Hoping to be the first to develop cures for disease and the perfect living entity, they secretly create a new creature, half animal, half human; an entirely new species. Things get off to a shakey start when their creature is at risk of being discovered, but the real trouble begins when the couple allow their minds to be fogged by their emotional attachment to this unstable and dangerous creature they have made together.

Splice is a psychological masterpiece, raising telling questions about the limitations of science and the moral implications of interrupting and altering the evolutionary process. The plot is entertaining enough, perhaps with some minor flaws, like the fact that they manage to sneak the creature out of a high security science facility in a cardboard box without being stopped or even seen. Does this place not have the budget for a security guard or two? Anyway, it’s an exciting story and the characters are really great. The relationship between the two scientists is flawed, they have unquestioning trust in their ability to create a life together but their unwillingness to have a baby of their own is a sore point. They don’t seem to communicate well with each other and at some points even seem to have sinister thoughts about each other, but this is what is so compelling about their relationships and their individual characters.

The creature is spectacular. Named "Dren" by its creators, we see it develop from a strange amphibious looking blob into a near perfect human woman. Delphine Chaneac does a remarkable job playing the tormented half-human girl, and is definitely the most remarkable casting of the film. For a thriller firmly based in the realm of science, Dren’s design is more like something from a fantasy film. This movie is not just about scientific exploration, but more about exploring the minds of the characters. It’s a very touching film at times and also quite creepy when it wants to be. It definitely seems to be a commentary on the repercussions and consequences of scientific ambition in the real world, where things are illegal and people have fallible minds.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Dren is very dangerous at times.
Sex/Nudity: Yes, there is even a spot of rape.
Swearing: A little.
Summary: This film was very intense and very visually appetising. The moral questions raised about the advancements of science are frighteningly real, and the cast is perfect. However, not as much action as we might like. 7/10
Top Gear: Season 10
Starring: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May2entertain
Available Now - £24.99 (DVD)
Review by Rob Wade

If you thought Top Gear would calm down a bit and the presenters would start to act their age, you're wrong. Series 10 features challenges that only the very brave or the very stupid would dare to undertake. For example, who in their right mind would attempt to drive through the Kalahari Desert in three twenty-year-old bangers? Or try to cross the treacherous English Channel in a fleet of amphibious cars that are less seaworthy than the average church? You guessed it - Top Gear's three intrepid presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Top Gear was recently voted the greatest TV show of the decade, probably by one of those Channel 4 specials that almost always star either Jimmy Carr or Robert Webb from Peep Show. One of the things that has always been true of the show, however, is that it would be dismissive to simply refer to it as ‘a car programme’. Yes, there are cars in it as a primary feature, but it’d be like referring to Twin Peaks as “Weird Shit Going On Peaks” rather than “One of the most awesome shows ever devised”.
The highlight for someone like me, who has no interest nor knowledge when it comes to cars aside from the one that gets me to B from my initial departure point marked A, is that often I can see some middle-class well-off men act like kids for half an hour at a time. In the case of the car challenges, that’s precisely what I’m treated to. Within the space of about ten minutes on the challenge to build an amphibious car, there’s challenges to each other’s manhood in the kind of style that you’d generally hear behind the scenes of Dickass DM here.

One of the great things about the series is the camaraderie between the three hosts. When news broke of Richard Hammond’s serious accident involving a supercar and an unsafe speed, it was clear that the other two were seriously shaken up by it, and not just because it could so easily have been them in his place. They very obviously enjoy each other’s company, and it is clear during their challenges that they enjoy a sporting one-up contest over most challenges.
However, what you’ll find yourself doing a fair bit if you’re not into cars is skipping a large portion of the show, pretty much everything except the challenges and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment, with some great celebrities this season, as well as some random ones (James Blunt, anyone? Thought so).

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: None.
Sex/Nudity: None. Thank the Lord.
Swearing: Some, bleeped (which I personally think is funnier).
Summary: If you like the series, it’s more of the same. If you’re not a fan, there’s still some good stuff here. 7/10
WWE - Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho
Starring: John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho
Clear Vision

Available Now - £29.99 (3 DVD Set)
Review by Omer Ibrahim

Christopher Keith Irvine. Y2J. Lionheart. The Man of 1004 holds. Corazón de León. The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla. Super F’n Liger.

However you know Chris Jericho, you do know him. One of the most celebrated workers of all time, his Intercontinental Championship clashes with Chris Benoit often stole the show from headliners like The Rock and Triple H, he thrilled audiences in Mexico and Japan, and was the first ever Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. He’s starred in movies, written a top-selling book and tours the globe in his rock band, Fozzy. After what seems like a lifetime, WWE has dedicated a three-disc set to him, and it’s a fantastic collection.

The main focus of disc one is a very well put together biography starting with Chris’ childhood and training at the Hart Family Dungeon, running all the way through his experiences in Canada, Germany, Mexico, Japan, and then the USA with ECW, WCW and WWF/E, right up until his current departure to tour with Fozzy. Jericho is a brilliant host as he speaks candidly about his highs and lows on his path to the top, as do the talking heads such as Triple H, The Miz and even Vince McMahon.

The bio spends good time on his non-wrestling interests, such as his father’s pro-hockey career and his in-depth musical knowledge. It even spends around 5-10 minutes talking about Fozzy and shows a good amount of live footage as well as playing tracks from the new album, Chasing the Grail.

Discs two and three are made up of a mixture of Jericho’s greatest matches, and also his greatest moments. It’s clear to see that Chris probably picked each match on here himself, or at least had a massive amount of input, as there really is a good spread, featuring matches with a wide variety of opponents. There’s a shaky-footage match with Ultimo Dragon in Japan that will remind many die-hard fans of the glory days of tape trading, and a wild brawl with Cactus Jack from the original ECW. From WCW he includes a barnburner of a match with Eddie Guerrero and matches from his Natalie-Portman-hot feud with Dean Malenko (Calm down Brad, remember the restraining order.). The bulk of the matches are from his time in the WWF/E and range from opponents such as Rey Mysterio, The Undertaker and Triple H to Hulk Hogan, The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Unfortunately these match-ups are missing one man, and it’s the only real fault on the DVD:

Chris Benoit.

Here is not the place to talk about double murder suicides verses a legacy of class performances, and I understand why the WWE, in it’s PG era, wouldn’t want him here; but I really feel that adding one classic Jericho VS Benoit match could not have caused too much of a problem, and would have put a wrestling cherry on this lycra-covered cake.

The only other problem here is when Goldberg says that he didn’t want an “even” match with Y2J was because it was unrealistic, and that he could just beat Chris and throw him into the crowd whenever he wanted. Even though Jericho legitimately beat the crap out of Goldberg in a bar fight a few years ago. Twice. Go ahead, Google it, I’ll wait...

...Goldberg’s a big bald twat, right?

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some nosebleeds.
Sex/Nudity: Nope.
Swearing: “Assclown”, “Jackass”. Lots of “Ass”.
Summary: A must-own DVD. Even without the inclusion on Chris Benoit, its probably the best WWE DVD of 2010. (Just make sure you pick up some Benoit/Jericho matches too). 10/10
WWE: Summerslam 2010
Starring: John Cena, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho
Clear Vision

Available Now - £17.99 (DVD)
Review by Omer Ibrahim

WWE’s Summerslam is traditionally the second biggest event of the year, behind Wrestlemania. 2010’s edition is no exception in terms of hype and big match feel. Driven by the WWE vs. Nexus rookies storyline, and the sub-plot of The Miz and his decision to join Team WWE, there’s a big storyline running through the show.

The matches kick off with Dolph Ziggler defending his Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston. Even though Ziggler’s finisher is a sleeper, he uses three similar looking rest-holds throughout the match. Why you’d need that many when your match is seven minutes long is anyone’s guess, but when Kofi eventually gets things going, the match is fast paced and exciting.

Next up is the WWE Divas Championship match featuring Alicia Fox and Melina. I was all set up to write some funny slam of this match when the unthinkable happened; it was good. Not Owen-Hart-in-Japan good, but still a respectable match with no botches and some nice spots.

The Big Show throws the team of CM Punk, Joseph Mercury and Luke Gallows around a bit in a handicap match. Punk is fantastically good at telling a story in a match, and that talent is needed here. Show looks strong, and nobody is made to look too weak by comparison. A good finish sequence later and we have a satisfying little match.


Sheamus defends his WWE championship against Randy Orton in a very good match. In a massive shock to me, Orton carried Turdman™ to a heated match. Even Orton’s “I’m some kind of viper” body-wiggling routine looked good in it’s place.

Sorry, this feels wrong.

Sheamus is a twat.

That’s better.

The next match sees Rey Mysterio challenge Kane for the World Heavyweight Championship in a match that was far better than it could have been. The interesting back story (Kane blames Rey for taking out his brother, The Undertaker, and Rey blames Kane) as well as the return of ‘Taker only adds to a respectable match. Highlights include Kane constantly having a reversal for the 619 and possibly the sickest choke slam I’ve ever seen in WWE.

Main event time as Team WWE (John Cena, John Morrison, R-Truth, Bret Hart, Edge, and Chris Jericho) forsake The Miz and recruit Daniel Bryan to take on Team Nexus (Wade Barrett, David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Darren Young, Skip Sheffield and Michael Tarver). The surprise entrance of Bryan is a genius move for “smart” fans, and, to be fair, he gets a decent pop from the crowd. The match is fantastic, but is marred by dead spots featuring Morrison and R-Truth, the inclusion of Bret Hart, and the usual suspension-of-belief shattering John Cena comebacks. It’s a shame, as it could have been a massive boost to the careers of the newer stars.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Not a great deal, for rasslin’.
Sex/Nudity: Nope.
Swearing: Nah-uh.
Summary: A surprisingly good little PPV. On paper, this didn’t look great, but it delivered on the night, and that’s what matters. 8/10
Ross Noble: Things
Universal Pictures
Available from Monday 29th November – £19.99 (DVD)
Review by Rob Wade

Improviser extraordinaire, multi award winning comedian Ross Noble returns with his 6th live DVD, Things, recorded at Manchester Opera House during his 180 date world tour. This 2 disc set also features 2 bonus shows filmed in Australia plus one of the Things arena shows performed 'in the round', along with a full length version of Ross' 'Car Pool' interview with Robert Llewellyn and the now infamous Jonathan Ross interview/fight.

As a quick aside, is anyone else shocked and surprised that this is his 6th release? I knew he had been around for a while, but fucking hell!

Anyway, the main component of the Things DVD is a 135 minute stand-up set from his show in Manchester, and straightaway this gives plus points for me. As a fan of stand-up, if a comedian’s good the longer their shows are the better. In this case, the amount of material is split into two sets and is paced reasonably well. Saying that, I did find myself getting lost a few times if my attention was distracted for any more than a couple of seconds. Thankfully, Noble is the king of call backs, and would often return to something after a few minutes.

One of the best things about watching this DVD, as a new viewer of Noble’s work, is that he is genuinely capable of improvising an entire set based largely on the comments and suggestions of his audience. Now, while that’s an incredibly impressive trait, it’s an especially dangerous one as well if your audience turns out to be uninspired or indeed just simply not capable of suggesting the right things to make the set gel.

As a stand-up, one of the most frustrating things I found was to go out on stage with a slightly different than usual set, only to find that the audience was in the mood for the usual stuff. For Noble, it’s probably considerably easier owing to the fact that his audience goes to shows knowing fully what to expect, but at times the improvisation can be hit and miss.

Make no mistake, when he is good he is fucking excellent. I found myself amazed sometimes at the sheer speed of his delivery, which is even more impressive considering half the time it is straight from the top of his head. At times he had me absolutely crying with laughter, and his off-kilter style makes some of the most innocent sounding thoughts come off with effortless confidence, like it’s an idea that he’s been mulling over since he was born.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Not in the main show, though he does scrap with Jonathan Ross on his chat show. Staged, evidently, but still funny.
Sex/Nudity: Talks about penises, and getting his balls out at Tesco. No, really, he does.
Swearing: A few uses dotted around.
Summary: Ultimately, for fans of Noble, this represents an essential purchase. If you’ve never heard of him, this is a great DVD to start with for the sheer volume of great material on it. 8/10


In anticipation for Monday's release of THE A-TEAM on Blu-ray and DVD, the action figure A-Team do what many Christmas Holiday TV specials have tried to accomplish before and try to save Christmas!

Why relax at home this holiday season when you can surge on an adrenaline high with THE A-TEAM? Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is on a mission to kick up the excitement level this year with the launch of THE A-TEAM Blu-ray and DVD on 29 November. The Blu-ray promises more than 90 minutes of special feature material. There's more action, more adventure — and more attitude — in THE A-TEAM Extended Edition, which includes a never-before-seen version of the film with spectacular added footage not shown in theaters!

All action-genre fans will love this fast and furious adrenaline packed adventure motion picture with awesome special effects, stunts and memorable phrases. The Blu-ray takes you beyond the movie with new stunt-packed footage and interactive features.

Buckle up for an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride starring Liam Neeson (TAKEN), Bradley Cooper (THE HANGOVER), Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (UFC Star), and Sharlto Copley (DISTRICT 9). Convicted by a military court for a crime they didn't commit, a daring team of former Special Forces soldiers must utilize their unique talents to break out of prison and tackle their toughest mission yet. It's going to take guts, split-second timing and an arsenal of explosive weapons...this is a job for The A-Team!

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