Saturday 19 February 2011

DVD Reviews

Alpha and Omega
Starring: Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci
Director: Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck
Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK

Available from Monday 21st February - £17.99 (DVD) & £22.99 (Blu-ray & DVD Pack)
Review by Kelly Prior

Get this in the E14 Store for £10.93 on DVD and £13.93 on Blu-ray

Kate is an Alpha wolf. She is the daughter of the pack leader, and her role is to one day lead a pack of her own. She is loyal to her father, and dedicated in her duties as an Alpha wolf. Humphrey is an Omega wolf. He loves nothing more than having fun, playing with his friends and getting up to mischief. Of a far lower rank within the pack, he lives life happily without a care in the world. That is, until a series of events force these two opposite ends of the pack hierarchy to work together and depend on each other for survival.

When Kate’s father promises her paw in marriage, Kate thinks this is the worst of her worries until she and Humphrey are captured by rangers and relocated to a wildlife park hundreds of miles away. Working together to get back home in time for the wedding, Humphrey and Kate begin to fall deeper in love. But soon they must make the heartbreaking decision to either do what’s best for the pack, or let down all their friends and family for love.

Alpha and Omega is a disappointing attempt at a fun family film. The landscape animation is truly stunning, but the actual wolves are nothing special, and actually look a bit strange. The cute, sassy female lead has a sister who is cuter and sassier than her, and even though she gets very little screen time, she over shadows Kate’s character completely. Humphrey is a generic immature nice-guy character who really doesn’t pull our heart strings at all. The wolves companions are annoying and, though obviously created for comic value, are not funny or entertaining in the slightest.

Alpha and Omega will never be remembered as a great family movie like Shrek or Ice Age. It’s simply too boring for kids, and not accessible enough for adults to enjoy. It also tries too hard to be funny and subsequently fails. There’s very little action in it, and the romance is cheesy and tacked on.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Sex/Nudity: Some “howling”.
Swearing: Nope.
Summary: It might entertain the kids for a while, but it’s not a great family film. 2/10
Game of Death
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Ernie Hudson, Zoe Bell
Director: Giorgio Serafini

Optimum Home Entertainment
Available from Monday 21st February – £15.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-Ray)
Review by Rob Wade

Get this in the E14 Store for £8.99 on DVD and £11.99 on Blu-ray

Detroit: one of the toughest cities in the world, the kind of place where Agent Marcus fits right in as one of the most merciless and deadly bodyguards in the business. He's a walking war who'll stop at nothing to protect his clients. When a famous senator is injured during an assassination attempt and held in hospital, Marcus unleashes a storm of hellfire and fury to protect his life. Ruthless assassins, trained killers, double-crossing C.I.A agents and infamous arms dealers are all about to become players in the Game Of Death, a game of few survivors where losing is not an option.

Game of Death is essentially your standard “Guy gets betrayed, goes on to snap a shitload of necks” movie, with Snipes playing the role of the betrayed C.I.A agent Marcus Jones. During a planned undercover operation to bring down two targets, Jones is betrayed by the rest of his team. The buildup to this is pretty well done, and you get led into the eventual intensity pretty well. The intro to the movie also stars Ernie Hudson, which is always nice.

One thing you’ll find yourself saying when you watch this movie is “Man, I forgot how awesome Wesley Snipes is”, and this is a particularly strong role for him which he plays really well. He’s also pretty awesome as a proper action hero, with some decent fight scenes throughout the film. Granted, the fighting is a little unbalanced during the movie, with the film going around forty-five minutes without Snipes taking any hits from any offensive moves by his enemies, but you can forgive that when he’s snipping people’s necks in order to shuffle them loose the mortal coil.

The downside, of course, is that the plot is a big ol’ hunk of cheese, with the rogue C.I.A agents never really giving a convincing reason for their betrayal of Snipes. Also, the cinematic effects are at times a little off-putting, with random scenes shot in a kind of grainy home-cinema type way which can be a little bit of a distraction. All in all, though, Game of Death is a pretty cool movie.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Fights, guns, neck-breakers. Win.
Sex/Nudity : None.
Swearing : “Fuck” and “Shit” uses.
Summary: An enjoyable action movie that would probably have done alright with a cinematic release and a decent amount of promotion. 7/10
Starring: Big Show, Mark Feuerstein, Melora Hardin
Director: Michael W. Watkins
Clear Vision

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Omer Ibrahim

Get this in the E14 Store for £9.99 on DVD and £12.93 on Blu-ray

Paul “Big Show” Wight is the latest WWE star to get a sponsored movie as he takes on the role of Walter Krunk, a gentle giant who grew up, and lives in, an orphanage for boys. When Walter accidentally burns down the orphanage and needs money to keep it running, up pops MMA fight promoter Eddie Sullivan (Mark Feurstein - Rules of Engagement, What Women Want (Yup, those are the two most E14 titles I could find.)), an ex-fighter with mob debts and a plan. He persuades Walter that at seven foot tall and four-hundred and sixty pounds, he’s a natural for MMA fights, and along with Walter’s co-worker Mary (Melora Hardin - The American Office, 17 Again), they hit the road, competing for money in matches as they head to the big contest in New Orleans.

I know, I know, a fight movie with mob debs, road trips and orphanages. It’s that old storyline again. Strangely for WWE Films though, this is actually quite interesting and, dare I say it, funny. Far from the childish oaf that I expected Big Show to be playing, Walter Krunk is just a simple, clumsy man who doesn’t really know much of the world outside of the orphanage. Another pleasant surprise is the quality of his acting; he easily stands up against the other actors in the movie, and is instantly likeable and charismatic.

The humour is a little simple, based around fart jokes and slapstick comedy, but the film is aimed at the young-ish audience and their parents, so it’s more than excusable, and again, at times, actually funny.

It’s not the perfect movie, the plot is predictable and more than once the jokes very much ruin what could be genuinely touching moments in the film. The mob plot seems to just be filler, and never really seems much of a threat to the characters, Walter’s love-plot just kind of happens out of nowhere, and there’s a hint of Mary’s past that is never really explained and never comes to fruition.

At the end of the day, this movie will sell mainly on the fact that Big Show stars in it, and so it should: he’s likeable and a brilliant actor.

Also, there’s a training montage featuring a seven foot man. The 80’s is crying with jealousy.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
All the fighting is very PG and based around submissions and punches to the ribs. Big Show puts a man through a fence.
Sex/Nudity: A seven-foot man in his underwear probably counts as about as much skin as three fully nude men.
Swearing: Nope
Summary: If you have kids who are wrestling fans, grab this now; if not, it’s probably worth picking up when the price drops. Switch off your brain for a bit and enjoy. 7/10
Operation: Endgame
Starring: Joe Anderson, Zach Galifianakanis, Ving Rhames
Director: Fouad Mikati
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment UK

Available from Monday 21st February - £12.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Get this in the E14 Store for £7.99 on DVD and £11.99 on Blu-ray

Violence erupts when the organisation charged with protecting America implodes, and the employees turn their guns on each other instead of their enemies.

Somewhere beneath Washington, D.C., an intense rivalry is heating up between two opposing teams of government assassins. The hired killers in the organisations take their names from Tarot cards. The Fool (Joe Anderson) is the latest recruit. Reporting for his first day on the job, The Fool is shocked to find that his boss is dead, and the office is on lockdown. To make matters worse, the building has been rigged with explosives, and it's going to blow soon. Now, in order to get out alive, The Fool will have to root out the killer in his midst, and make a quick escape before his co-workers catch him in their crosshairs.

The performances are generally good, the direction is competent but, man, this is one of the most non-sensical and unfunny screenplays I’ve sat through in a long time. There are a few good jokes, but ten laughs in eighty minutes is hardly a roaring success is it.

The action sequences and fights are fun – and the gore work is over-the-top and cartoony, so at least it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Too many flat characters, too many botched jokes and...oh, for God’s sake, can someone stop Galifianakanis from doing the weirdo role? It’s getting really fucking old now.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Frequent gunfire, mutilation, comedy ultraviolence and explosions.
Sex/Nudity: Some shagging, some strong references.
Swearing: Frequent and strong.
Summary: A confusing and largely pointless action/black comedy. Good performances, but the screenplay is atrocious. 3/10
I Survived B.T.K.
Starring: Carmen Otero, Charlie Otero, Danny Otero
Director: Marc Levitz
Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK

Available from Monday 21st February - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Kelly Prior

Get this in the E14 Store for £9.69 on DVD

This harrowing documentary follows Charlie Otero, whose parents and siblings were murdered by Dennis Rader, a serial killer who called himself B.T.K. (Blind. Torture. Kill.) Due for release on the 6th anniversary of B.T.K’s arrest, I Survived B.T.K. tells the story of how a young Charlie came home one day to find his family murdered. We follow Charlie on his mission to rid the world of B.T.K. by assisting with the trial and watch as he slowly comes to terms with his tormented past. During the course of filming, a devastating accident forces Charlie to realise that he can no longer live in the past.

This documentary is pretty hard to watch. We are fed far too much detail from crime reports and case files, but my biggest issue with I Survived B.T.K. is the crime scene photographs. During the trial, photographs are shown of the two youngest Otero children after their deaths. The images show the children half naked, clearly having been tortured, and we are even shown a shocking close up of the young girls bloody and beaten dead face. This, for me, is just unbelievably unprofessional. To show these pictures is disrespectful and really quite unfair. Yes, I know people will probably say it is to cause awareness, but for me it seems to be done for shock value - for drama. The sad truth is, because of these photographs, this film will probably sell more copies. In this writer’s opinion, some things should never be released for public viewing, and photographs of murdered children are top of that list.

Charlie Otero is clearly not mentally stable after his trauma as a child. The camera is glued to Charlie as he babbles on about conspiracy theories and talks about finding the real people in charge of Dennis Rader. The film makers encourage Charlie as he kicks off again and again, clearly taking advantage of his mental state. When an accident leaves Charlie’s son in a coma, which he later comes out of with brain damage, the cameras eagerly watch the suffering.

The only positive thing I can say about I Survived B.T.K. is that it definitely provides an in-depth psychological look into the mind of a serial killer, and puts our minds at rest as we see B.T.K. being sent to prison for life. It is good to know that people like this are being caught, and being punished.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Horrifically graphic photographs and descriptions of torture.
Sex/Nudity: Sick descriptions of how Dennis Rader was sexually turned on.
Swearing: Lots.
Summary: I Survived B.T.K. is very uncomfortable and upsetting to sit through. The whole documentary seems to be a pointless abuse of a heartbroken man’s life and his family’s trauma. 1/10


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Thanks to our friends at Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK, we've got three copies of both Fraggle Rock: Season Two to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Saturday 26th February, making sure to put "Fraggle Rock: Season Two" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy of each book!

Don't forget to put "Fraggle Rock: Season Two" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Get this in the E14 Store for £22.49

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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