Saturday, 5 March 2011

DVD Reviews

Saw: The Final Chapter
Starring: Tobin Bell, Gina Holden, Betsy Russell
Director: Kevin Greutert
Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK

Available from Monday 7th March - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

Get Saw: The Final Chapter in the E14 Store for £9.99 on DVD, £14.93 on Blu-ray or £35.99 for the Saw 1-7 DVD Box Set

Finally, after many hours of torturing stupid, easily hateable people, the Saw franchise is finally bringing its bloody curtains to a close. The plot follows Jigsaw survivor Bobby Dagen as he is put through yet another trial of traps for his dark secrets. Meanwhile, the police are trying to uncover Mark Hoffman and stop him from bringing Jigsaw’s plans to fruition.

As with many of the later Saw films, it seems that the main bulk of the plot isn’t associated to the traps and violence that goes on to keep the gore hounds happy, and merely happens whilst the events are going on. The traps are quite fiendish, although not as inspired as those found in Saw VI, but the plot makes up for this for being stronger than previous instalments. The final plot twist is also unexpected, although, if required, the franchise could be rebooted if needed (hopefully not though). The return of Cary Elwes is also welcome to the film, as I for one have been spending the last five films wondering why they never returned to him when they had worked every other character into the plot somehow.

The film does suffer from some flaws. Some of the special effects, which were obviously enhanced with CGI for the 3D moments; look poor when watched in 2D. This is rectifiable by purchasing the 3D Blu-Ray edition, but isn’t a huge deal if you haven’t got the money for that sort of set up. The other flaws found in the film are those that stick to all of the more recent Saw movies: they are boiling down to gore over storytelling substance. With a plot that has been getting too intricate for it’s own good this somewhat dilutes the overall final climax to the series. That said, if you have enjoyed the Saw films after the first, unsurpassable movie, you would still enjoy this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
They blood and gore normally associated with the Saw movies.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Quite a bit, normally in panic during the torture scenes.
Summary: As it is the last in the series, this is definitely one for the fans - and it does end the series. However, the hint in the ending that it could be resurrected later leads me to hope that this doesn’t happen. It is a franchise that has been going on far too long already. 6/10
Due Date
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Juliette Lewis
Director: Todd Philips
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Get Due Date in the E14 Store for £9.93 on DVD and £14.93 on Blu-ray

From The Hangover director Todd Phillips, Due Date throws two unlikely companions together on a road trip that turns out to be as life-changing as it is outrageous. Expectant first-time father Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) looks forward to his new child’s due date five days away. As Peter hurries to catch a flight home from Atlanta to be at his wife’s side for the birth, his best intentions go completely awry when an encounter with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) forces Peter to hitch a ride with Ethan on a cross-country trip that will ultimately destroy several cars, many friendships and Peter’s last nerve.

To be honest ten minutes into this film I knew it would be a knock-off of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and an hour and thirty minutes in I still hadn’t laughed once. This film was a disappointment from start to finish. It has a great cast - I mean, Iron Man is in it, for God’s sake, so how could it go wrong? Here is how...the script was flat and the scenarios were often contradictory, the only things that was all right about it was the fact that the characters were well developed (although completely reprehensible people) and the film was well acted.

This film felt like such a waste of money, it has added nothing to the genre but, could have so easily have been an awesome film if the script was half-way decent and not half-baked. I absolutely love a good farce, but this isn’t even a decent example of it as the characters have no likable traits, and as such the audience has no feelings towards them one way or another. How is the viewer supposed to go through the emotions of a decent farce if they can not relate to the characters?

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some scuffles and a massive car accident.
Sex/Nudity: An entirely unnecessary wanking scene.
Swearing: Plenty.
Summary: A really boring film, a comedy with the jokes left out of the script. Don’t bother watching it spend the time watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles instead. 4/10

Second Opinion: A thoroughly entertaining comedy that will have you laughing throughout. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galfianakis work brilliant together and deliver a fine odd couple road trip comedy adventure film. Worth seeing if you are fans of Robert Downey Jr. and The Hangover. 7/10 - Blake Harmer


Psych 9
Starring: Michael Biehn, Cary Elwes, Sara Foster
Director: Andrew Shortell
Universal Pictures

Available Now - £14.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

Get Psych 9 in the E14 Store for £9.93

As you can see, we’re all about Cary Elwes playing a doctor this week, although admittedly he has more feet this time around. This psychological thriller follows Roslyn Hanniger, who takes a job at a recently closed hospital, only to discover that some of the patients are all victims of the recent killings by the serial killer the “NightHawk” in the area. With paranoia beginning to seep in, she confides in Dr Irvin Clement (Cary Elwes), a psychologist who is also working nights in the hospital on the fifth floor. It is only whilst up in the fifth floor, that the emotionally disturbed Roslyn discovers the Psych 9 ward, a mental health treatment room with its own secrets.

What Psych 9 does, it does very well. The acting is superb, with Elwes making a great and slightly creepy psychologist, and Michael Biehn playing a great detective investigating into the NightHawk murders. The shocks and camera work are also very good, whilst certainly borrowing a fair few tricks from Japanese horror movies such as The Grudge, in some parts. There is also a thought provoking story here with an ending that leaves you to make your own interpretation.

However, the plot and direction can make events quite confusing at times, with so many plot twists occurring that you cannot tell what is true and what isn’t. This can leave the viewer with the feeling that he or she is also mentally deranged. However, whether this was actually intended is hard to say. Some plot elements and characters seemed highly irrelevant to the plot, which begs the question of why include them in the first place? A perfect example of this is the slightly pervy security guard at the entrance to the hospital car park. It seems his entire purpose is to creep Roslyn out so that she seeks assistance from Cary Elwes to comfort her. After that, whilst he does appear in a couple of other shots, it seems largely pointless to him being there at all, especially with all the other creepy stuff happening anyway.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Plenty of reference to violence and some gore but not loads, considering it’s a horror movie.
Sex/Nudity: References to child sex, and one sex scene, but nothing is really seen.
Swearing: A fair amount, but not used in an over the top fashion.
Summary: An enjoyable psychological horror that misses being truly great with an overuse of plot twists and an ending that is as confusing as it is thought provoking. Worth a watch if you are a fan of the genre, not truly essential if you’re not though. 7/10

Second Opinion: A distinct case of style over substance, this tired little horror isn’t worth getting excited over. Worth a rental, if horror is your thing. 6/10 - Brad Harmer


The Last Victim
Starring: William Forsythe, Patrick Gilmore, Jesse Moss
Director: Svetozar Ristovski
Anchor Bay Entertainment

Available from Monday 7th March - £15.99 (DVD)

Get The Last Victim in the E14 Store for £7.99

William Forsythe stars as John Wayne Gacy in this drama detailing the bizarre relationship between the notorious serial killer and the clever college student who put his own sanity on the line in a bid to get the information the police couldn't. Inspired by author Jason Moss' autobiographical book of the same name, The Last Victim follows overachieving student Moss as he establishes contact with the killer in prison for a classroom assignment. Determined to gain Gacy's trust, Moss assumes the role of a sheepish teen enamoured with the prolific psychopath.

Following a series of intensely personal phone calls in which both the writer and his subject lay bare their most intimate secrets, Moss ventures behind prison walls for a private meeting with Gacy. Little did Moss realize he was playing with fire; in his bid to manipulate Gacy into divulging untold details about his notorious murder spree, the probing student granted his twisted subject unprecedented access to his own fragile psyche...

The Last Victim is a pretty bizarre story – all the more so because it’s true. Unfortunately, whilst I can see how the story would have made an interesting book, not all books (and especially not non-fiction books) make the transition to a movie very well. The acting is great from everyone, and the direction is really good, but this fails to safe it from how dreary, slow and overlong the story is. It’s okay, but it’s certainly not as clever as it likes to think it is.

If you’re into serial killers – and I know there are people out there who are – then you’ll probably enjoy this adaptation. If you’re not, then this won’t grab you. As always, pick up Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer instead.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Several abstracted but still surprisingly hard-hitting murders, beatings and so on.
Sex/Nudity: Several references to homosexual activity. Some partial nudity.
Swearing: Strong and frequent.
Summary: A well directed and well acted, but ultimately dreary, serial killer biopic. One for those interested in the field, only. 4/10
Gnaw
Starring: Nigel Croft Adams, Hiram Bleetman, Carie Cohen
Director: Gregory Mandry
4Digital Media

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

Get Gnaw in the E14 Store for £9.99

Six friends find themselves at the centre of a culinary nightmare during a weekend trip to Blackstock Farm in the English countryside. With no responsibilities and home-cooked meals from their matronly host Mrs Obadiah, it seemed like the perfect recipe for relaxation. Tensions start to run high, however, when one member of the group fails to return for dinner, and a mysterious cloaked figure is seen wandering through the woods. By the time these clueless vacationers realise that their hosts are cannibals, the oven is preheated and the table has already been set.

So far, so The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, right? These generic teenage kids head on a generic holiday to a generic kooky location. If you’re after something new and fresh in the horror scene (and, if you’re reading this, you probably are), then move on right away. Gnaw does nothing new, nothing inspired and nothing earth-shattering. What it does, it does very well, but this is a road we’ve been down a hundred times before.

Sure, the acting isn’t too bad, and the gore work is really good, but the bulk of it is so uninspired you’ll be asleep before the half-way mark.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Blood, gore, murderising and cannibalism.
Sex/Nudity: Partial nudity.
Swearing: Frequent, but mild.
Summary: Generic horror fare, and you’ll be asleep before the half-way mark. 4/10
Sinbad & The Minotaur
Starring: Dmitiri Baveas, Manu Bennett, Steven Grives
Director: Karl Zwicky
Chelsea Films

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

Get Sinbad & The Minotaur in the E14 Store for £7.99

Manu Bennett stars as the legendary adventurer Sinbad in this re-imagining of Greek and Arabic folklore. Searching for an ancient lost treasure, and pursued by the evil sorcerer Al-Jibar, Sinbad and his crew follow the trail to an underground labyrinth on a remote island. There they discover too late that not only is it booby-trapped, but the island is under a curse which awakens the fearsome and monstrous Minotaur. Under attack from all sides, Sinbad and his men must do battle with the beast to escape from the island with their lives.

Sinbad & The Minotaur tries really hard to pull itself out of the “destined for the bargain bin at the petrol station” brigade, and - frustratingly – doesn’t quite manage it. It’s hampered by a laughably low budget (the walls of the caves are painfully obviously a black tarpaulin draped over scaffolding, not...y’know...rock), and some dodgy casting (I can’t get over Sinbad being a Ricky Martin lookalike with an Australian accent). It’s heart is in the right place. It wants to be a Stephen Sommers-esque action fest.

So why the mountains of blood and gore?

I’m no stranger to gory movies, but in what otherwise appears to be a family fantasy movie, there are veritable fountains of blood and gore. It just seems odd. Just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you should, Zwicky.

To top this off, by the time the hour mark rolls around the script has totally lost its shit and all the sorcerer’s bad guys start sprouting horns and running around like Fray Bentos Uruk-Hai. It was at this point I realised that the film would be improved immensely if they just gave up with the plot and supplied a thirty minute shot of the cast and crew blowing goats.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Surprisingly violent. Lots of stabbing, blood, and a memorable goring.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Someone says “By the Blood of Pythagoras”. I like that, and want to use it more in conversation.
Summary: There’s some talent and enthusiasm here, but it’s hampered by a meagre budget, feeble CG and an even weaker script. 2/10

THE ULTIMATE KNIGHT FACES HIS FINAL CRUSADE...

Rutger Hauer stars as Germanic Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in this bloodthirsty tale of a deadly medieval siege. Set in Northern Italy, Barbarossa plans to capture the regions of South and Centre and recreate the empire, which many years ago belonged to Charlemagne. As deadly clashes break out between the people of the land, fighting for independence and social status, Barbarossa struggles to keep control.



Hell, for once, that's a historical actioner that actually looks pretty awesome.

Thanks to our friends at Metrodome, we've got three copies of Barbarossa: Siege Lord on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Saturday 12th March, making sure to put "Barbarossa: Siege Lord" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Barbarossa: Siege Lord" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Get Barbarossa: Siege Lord in the E14 Store for £11.99 on DVD and £12.99 on Blu-ray

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

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