Saturday 8 January 2011

DVD Reviews

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
Director: Christopher Nolan
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £22.99 (DVD) & £28.99 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Copy Pack)
Review by Brad Harmer

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio – The Man in the Iron Mask, The Aviator) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved.

Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one.

Remember how you felt way back in 1999/2000 when you saw The Matrix for the first time? Do you remember how amazed you felt that a mainstream, Hollywood, action movie could contain a actual intelligent plot and an original and creative idea as well as a fuckton of bullets and explosions? That’s exactly the same feeling I got when watching Inception.

The atmosphere throughout is absolutely amazing, and the pacing is spot on. The intrigue and mystery runs throughout – right up to the final frame, no less – and that’s alongside all the action and excitement. There’s even some tear-jerking romance and some chucklesome humour in there, too. The cast is absolutely phenomenal – especially DiCaprio and Page – but it is Nolan’s direction that has to be applauded the most here. He has (quite simply) done it again.

Inception is the kind of movie you think about for days after seeing it, and those don’t come along very often. Check it out as soon as possible.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Frequent explosions and gunfire. Some mild depictions of suicide.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Standard for a Hollywood action movie.
Summary: The best sci-fi movie since District 9. Nolan delivers on every level and the cast is absolutely phenomenal. 10/10

Resident Evil: Afterlife
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 10th January - £19.99 (DVD), £24.99 (Blu-ray) and £29.99 (3D Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

Before the likes of Christopher Gans’ Silent Hill and the CG movie Final Fantasy: Advent Children surpassing it, Paul Anderson’s original Resident Evil movie was probably one of the best films based on a computer game. However, with the sequels being significantly worse with Paul Anderson’s attentions being moved onto other directing projects (AVP, etc.) it was thought that despite him still writing the stories, it was possible that the Resident Evil franchise has been doomed to mediocrity. However, Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth instalment in the series, sees the return of Anderson behind the camera. But is it as good as the original?

First things first, this is significantly better than the disastrous Resident Evil: Apocalypse and its shonky editing. The pacing is spot on and the plot is a lot stronger than the one found in Resident Evil: Extinction. Milla Jovovich is on form and delivers a good performance and some great action sequences as she dispatches the undead with lots of ease. Also, for the most part, the special effects are quite good.

However, there still isn’t enough here for it to be better than the first film. Firstly the use of 3D at the cinema was pretty poor in comparison with other films, and this looks even worse in the 2D version. Also, whilst the plot has now differed entirely from the plots of the video games, the inclusion of the executioner from Resident Evil 5 feels completely out of context with the rest of the T-Virus monsters. This may just be a geek boy peeve, but seeing as the films are aimed at fans of the franchise, I felt it may annoy more people than just myself.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Plenty of shooting, explosions and associated zombie violence to keep fans of the franchise happy. The 3D bits are a little rubbish though.
Sex/Nudity: Surprisingly Milla Jovovich doesn’t get her kit off. That’s what happens when you’re married to the director I suppose (Didn't stop her in "The Fifth Element". - Ed.). She does have a shower at one point but nothing is shown.
Swearing: Some swear words, but no more than your normal action horror flick.
Summary: Overall, Afterlife is the best sequel so far, and whilst it doesn’t top the highly enjoyable original, if the franchise continues the way it is, it won’t be long until were treated to the best Resident Evil movie yet. Providing Paul Anderson stays behind the camera, that is. 6/10

The Last Exorcism
Starring: Ashley Bell, Patrick Fabian, Louis Herthum
Director: Daniel Stamm
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available Now - £17.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Disillusioned by years of defrauding poor believers out of their hard-earned cash, evangelist preacher Cotton Marcus has decided to put the record straight by starring in a fly-on-the-wall documentary exposing the con tricks of his demon-busting trade. A letter from a poor southern farmer begging for help in driving evil off his land seems to give Cotton the perfect opportunity to expose the phoniness of his satanic ministry. But then he meets the farmer's disturbed young daughter, Nell, and everything changes.

Whilst the acting is far from terrible, and the direction is solid, and there are even a few good tense and scary moments scattered throughout, The Last Exorcism ends up being one of those horror movies that ends up crippling itself with its own stupidity. It’s very slow during the first forty minutes or so, which it then compensates for with a flashbang of jumps, blood and whatnot.

Far too many of the characters appear to, in the words of Eddie Izzard, “have had their common sense glands removed” – sure, this is par for the course for a horror movie, but this takes it to ridiculous lengths.

Then, there’s a massive plot twist at the end that takes the “all right” ending and turns it into a “moronic” one. Stop it, Eli’re not as clever as you seem to think that you are.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Blood, scuffling, stabbing, immolation.
Sex/Nudity: Some references.
Swearing: None.
Summary: The momentary flashes of potential here don’t outweigh the clanking of the plot machine of the fucktarded ending. Wait for this one on TV. 4/10

The Undercover War
Starring: Judith Davis, Arthur Dupont, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet
Director: Nicolas Steil
Optimum Home Entertainment

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

It is May 1944 and Luxembourg has just been annexed by Nazi Germany. Francois, a young man who was forced to attend a German university by his fascist father, returns home. Refusing to fight against the allies as a forced recruit, instead Francois chooses a clandestine life in the resistance and joins other deserters in an abandoned mine, with the Liberation as his only hope.

The Undercover War is a pretty grim story, full of heartbreak, betrayal, father life under a tyrannical father figure, and a few bits of bonking. Steil's direction is excellent, and the cast fill all their roles perfectly - it's a shame, then, that the base story is such a slow moving, boring one. Large chunks of the film pass by with absolutely nothing happening. Combine that with the fact that a couple of major plot points count on the characters doing really stupid things in order for them to be possible, and the whole thing starts to wobble like an unreliable wobbly thing without the right number of legs.

The cast are great, the film looks great, but there's just not enough substance here to warrant the effort.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: It's a war film. There's not a lot of full on war, granted, but there is all manner of stabbing, punching, and shooting shenanigans.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of full-on sex scenes. Wa-hey!
Swearing: Some, but mild.
Summary: Despite the efforts of cast and crew, this is hamstrung by a slow and frequently uneventful script. 4/10

Family Guy Presents: It's A Trap
Starring: Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Seth MacFarlane
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD & Digital Copy), £19.99 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Copy Set) and £24.99 (Special Edition Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

With each Family Guy series declining in quality, it’s great to see that its send-ups of the Star Wars saga are still holding up well, with a consistent quality of laughs, and keeping close to the feel of Lucas’ holy trilogy. But with Return of the Jedi being the weakest of the overall trilogy, will It’s A Trap suffer the same fate?

Thankfully the answer is "No", with the jokes coming thick and fast and showing more originality than those made in Blue Harvest. From Han Solo advertising his job agency “Han Jobs” to the good use of using Klaus from American Dad as Admiral Ackbar, It’s A Trap delivers the laughs thick and fast.

However, there is the odd joke that goes on too long and feels like they are trying to pad out the episode in a few places, and Family Guy's humour still has the odd bit of hit and miss that has become expected for the franchise. Overall though, this is a strong episode and comes close to (but doesn’t quite beat) Something Something Something Dark Side for overall laughs. But seeing that it is unlikely Seth MacFarlane and company will dip into the prequel trilogy as well, they are definitely ending their version of the Star Wars universe on a high.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Comical violence in the typical Family Guy way with plenty of Ewok death and destruction.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some uses of the F word amongst other swears, but these are used to add to the comedy rather than the for the sake of it.
Summary: Just like the original trilogy, Return of The Jedi isn’t as great as The Empire Strikes Back, It’s A Trap isn’t as strong overall as Something Something Something Dark Side. However, this is still great Family Guy viewing and fans of both Star Wars and Family Guy will love this parody. 7/10

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