Saturday, 11 December 2010

DVD Reviews

The Expendables
Starring: Jet Li, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 13th December - £19.99 (DVD) and £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is the leader of an elite bunch of mercenaries. The team behind him is made up of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar, Toll Road and Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren).

When the mysterious Mr Church offers Barney a job no one else would take, Thr Expendables embark on a mission to overthrow the murderous dictator a small island country and end the years of death and destruction inflicted on its people. On a reconnaissance mission, Barney and Christmas meet their contact Sandra, a local freedom-fighter. They also come to learn who their true enemy is: rogue ex-CIA operative James Monroe and his henchman Paine (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin). When things go terribly wrong, Barney and Christmas are forced to leave Sandra behind, essentially giving her a death sentence. Haunted by this failure, Barney convinces the team to return to rescue the her and finish the job they started.

I was spectacularly excited about this movie when I first heard about it. I was a small kid in the eighties, so action movies chock full of explosions starring Arnie, Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme were what I grew up with. I was expecting this to recapture the feeling of those sort of movies: and I was bitterly disappointed.

The Expendables crawls along for the first forty-five minutes, and what action sequences there are pretty bland. It should have been like this year’s The A-Team, but instead it takes itself way too seriously, and sucks all the fun away as a result. It lacks any self-awareness. When a movie like this is taking itself deadly seriously, that should be a warning that something isn’t right.

It’s an indication of how badly used the cast is in this that Jet Li does virtually no kung-fu at all. What’s the point in that?

Watch the trailer, and pretend that it’s a Saturday Night Live parody. That’s much more entertaining than watching the real thing.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Gunfire, explosions, fighting, punching, vehicular combat, explosions, Steve Austin, punching, gunfire and explosions.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Surprisingly little, considering the cast. The majority of what there is comes from Bruce Willis.
Summary: A shameful waste of an awesome cast and an awesome concept. This is a bland action movie that lacks even enough self-awareness to make it a fun parody. Get The A-Team instead. 3/10

Night of the Demons
Starring: Shannon Elizabeth, Edward Furlong, Monica Keena
Director: Adam Gierasch
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Kelly Prior

A group of American teens are invited to a Halloween party at the notorious Broussard Mansion in this remake of the 1980s cult classic horror Night of the Demons. Maddie, Lily and Suzanne dress in their sluttiest outfits and prepare for the night of their lives. At the drink and drug fuelled party, things soon get out of hand, and the police shut the place down. The small group that are left in the house soon discover that things aren’t as innocent as they seem. Freaky things are happening, their host is acting odd and there are bodies in the basement. What follows is the incredibly raunchy and sick possession of most of the group, and only Maddie and two of the boys are left to fend off the Demons! The question is; can they make it all the way through the night without being possessed or killed? Can they save the world from an epic Demon take-over?

This film has it all; sexy half-naked chicks, gory special effects, mind games and a genuinely good plot. The back-story is good, and told to us in and old fashioned, silent movie beginning. The soundtrack is pretty cool and really sets the tone, and the slutty Halloween costumes are just awesome. There are lots of really sick scenes and some genuinely frightening bits. As well as being true to its horror roots, it’s also modern, fun and sassy. Edward Furlong (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Animal Factory) steals the show as Colin, a lowly drug dealer with lots of problems.

The overall production values of this film are excellent and the demons have some really fantastic designs. They are sexy and sophisticated, while also being creepy, eerie and downright disgusting. The cast is impressive, with many spectacular performances, and no one lets the side down. I was wary to begin with because, as we know, modern remakes normally tend to suck big time. I was also concerned that the makers of true horror may have died long ago, but director Adam Gierasch really impressed me. With only three films under his director’s belt, this guy might be one to keep an eye on for the future.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Lots of freaky Demon Violence.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of freaky Demon sex.
Swearing: Not so much freaky Demon swearing.
Summary: A really impressive modern horror, definitely one for the Halloween collection. 8/10

How About You
Starring: Joss Ackland, Brenda Fricker, Vanessa Redgrave
Director: Anthony Byrne

High Fliers
Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)

Since the death of her husband Kate has been running a residential home for the elderly. When her mother is taken ill, Kate reluctantly leaves her impetuous younger sister Ellie in charge for the Christmas. Can she be trusted without lighting up a doob all over the shop?

Although most of the residents have left to spend the festive season with their families, four infamously grumpy residents are left. Retired screen beauty Georgia (Vanessa Redgrave), spinster sisters Hazel and Heather and alcolohic High Court judge Donald. It's a baptism of fire for Ellie whose youth and inexperience bring her head to head with the cantankerous foursome, resulting in “hilarious” antics

How About You starts off lazily not bothering to really introduce any of the characters, and only really gets worse as it goes along. Impressive, right? You hate all of the reprehensible characters by the fifteen minute mark.

A concept like a naughty, weed-smoking student left in charge of a bunch of grumpy old people would have really gone places had someone like, say, National Lampoon been in charge. Here, however, nothing fucking happens. There’s some conflict punched into the narrative near the end, but all in all this is a wasted opportunity, with nothing to recommend it. If curious, watch it on the Hallmark channel. It won’t be long now, I’m sure.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
This movie made me punch my cat really hard.
Sex/Nudity: The thing is that I don’t even own a cat.
Swearing: I must have had to go out and buy a cat purely for the purposes of punching it.
Summary: A dull and lazily plotted Christmas “heart-warmer”, rife with continuity errors and dropped plot threads. 2/10

Road Train
Starring: Sophie Lowe, Bob Morley, Xavier Samuel
Director: Dean Francis
Elevation Sales

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

Marcus, Liz, Craig and Nina are a group of youngsters on a camping trip in the Australian outback. While driving along they encounter the road train; a massive cargo truck. They get into a game of chicken with the driver. Obviously, this ends in a crash. The campers’ car is wrecked so they decide to steal the road train, because that’s obviously the most sensible thing to do. Sigh...Well, it turns out that the road train is an entrance to Hell, and it’s fuelled by dead bodies. As the group quickly falls apart and two of its members become possessed, it’s not long before the kids are fighting for their lives against the evil road train and its treacherous mind games.

Now, my first thought when this film started was “Wait, didn’t they do this already? With Paul Walker...and wasn’t it better?” The big difference between this and Road Kill is that Road Kill wasn’t supernatural. However, yes, this film warbles on about a gate to Hell in the back of a truck but we never actually get a good look, or get to go to Hell. In fact, the only supernatural element seems to be that the kids get possessed.

This movie is kind of pointless. We never grow to care for the characters or their well-being, and we certainly don’t care about the half-arsed attempts at relationship problems. This movie is kind of surreal and fucked up, which is usually a good thing, but mostly this movie keeps making you shout “This is stupid!” or “It just doesn’t make sense!” and hurl things at the T.V. Idiots, as the name suggests, always do stupid things, which results in the shit hitting the fan. This simply can’t be a good premise for a movie. Bob Morley, who plays Craig, is actually pretty good in the role of the demented teen, but the rest of the cast just don’t follow suit, and Morley can’t hold up the whole film on his own.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Gun and physical violence.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of scantily dressed girls.
Swearing: Yes.
Summary: This film will most likely just frustrate you and make you very angry. 2/10

The Armstrong and Miller Show: Series Three
Starring: Alexander Armstrong, Ben Miller
2entertain

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

Back again for more sketch comedy antics are Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller to bring you laughs by the bucketload.

The advantages of this new series over the previous releases are more characters for the sketch show comedy, which means there is more diversity to the humour. One highlight of these include two old-school vampires attempting to find virgin girls to date and drink there blood, only to be thwarted at every turn by more newer age vampires such as those seen in Blade or The Twilight Saga. Take the new sketches and chuck in some older characters from the previous series, such as the Flanders and Swann lookalikes and the World War II officers, and you have great combination that keeps the series from becoming too stale.

However, as with the flaws of the previous series, despite the attempts at keeping the series fresh, a lot of the humour is dogged by it being based on repetition; something that has been used a lot since The Fast Show. Whilst this doesn’t completely spoil the experience, do expect to see similar versions of the same sketches several times throughout the series. An example of this is a man who always forgets to put the bins out but realises in very weird circumstances, such as when he finds his wife is in bed with another man.

However, if you are fan of the show you won’t be disappointed in what the new series has to offer, and the new sketches are stronger this time around when compared to the previous series. Just don’t expect Armstrong and Miller to breaking the mould of the sketch show any time soon.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some comic violence and murder but nothing overly violent or grotesque to offend anyone.
Sex/Nudity: Plenty of sexual references but nothing is ever seen.
Swearing: Quite a bit, but the swearing is used for comedic purposes rather than for the hell of it.
Summary: Overall a stronger series than the previous one and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, sure there is an element of repetition throughout, but this is the norm for most sketch shows these days. If you are already a fan of The Armstrong and Miller Show, you won’t be disappointed by this. 8/10

Fraggle Rock: Season One
Starring: Dave Goelz, Terry Angus, Jerry Nelson
Director: Jim Henson

Lions Gate Home Ent. UK Ltd
Available Now - £29.99 (DVD)
Review by Rob Wade

From a fun-loving group of furry subterranean creatures came: millions of fans, 100 original songs, 96 total episodes, 5 seasons, but only one First Season Boxed Set. Dance your cares away with the complete first season of Fraggle Rock, featuring all 24 episodes - never before available on DVD! Filled with all the Fraggle Fun you've been waiting for. Share in the music and memories that have kept fans rockin' for more than 20 years! So save your worries for another day and experience 715 minutes of frag-tastic fun in the ultimate Fraggle Rock collection.

Ultimately, this program is exactly how you remember it. Unless you’re me, in which case what you remember is missing a ton of information. Watching this series brought back a ton of memories for me, while at the same time having the Polyfilla effect of covering the blanks. For instance, I’d completely forgotten that the original premise was that one of the characters went off to explore space, and that this act was why the Fraggles kept venturing into the human world.

If you were a fan of this show when you were younger, then prepare yourself for a nostalgia trip like no other: a very literal shot-for-shot conversion of what you watched (though please note that this is the American version) as a child, with really good quality visuals (and the visuals really are well looked after here). The audio is all restored nicely as well, the whole package aesthetically has been well preserved. If you enjoy the Jim Henson back catalogue, such as the Muppets or their ilk, there’s probably some value here for you too.

The problem I’ve got with this release is one simple one: the price. It’s a massive stumbling block for a release of this kind, which although it’s a nice nostalgia trip is not exactly the kind of thing that’s going to take pride of place in your collection. At a suggested retail price of £29.99 the series is simply too highly priced. I consider the five series of Knightmare I recorded off Challenge TV to be a much better investment.

The above is, scarily, not a lie.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Have a guess, go on.
Sex/Nudity: None, although some of the Fraggles are scantily clad. Though I doubt very much it’s supposed to titillate.
Swearing: None.
Summary: An alright nostalgia trip, but this won’t be taking pride of place in anyone’s library. 6/10

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