Saturday, 26 March 2011

DVD Reviews

Machete
Starring: Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Danny Trejo
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 28th March - £17.99 (DVD) & £17.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

A bad-ass, star-studded action-thriller from Robert Rodriguez (Desperado), Machete is an over-the-top homage to 1970's exploitation movies, starring Danny Trejo as a Mexican Federale seeking revenge against a vicious drug lord (Steven Seagal), a ruthless vigilante and a power-mad politician (Robert De Niro). He is helped by a savvy immigration agent (Jessica Alba), revolutionary “She” (Michelle Rodriguez) and by his brother, a priest (Cheech Marin), and finds solace with a drug addict (Lindsay Lohan) along the way. Viva Machete!

Machete is a really great action/exploitation movie. It’s not just about the action and the awesomeness...it’s about the fact that the characters are all awesome, and the pacing is absolutely incredible. The characters are all well rounded and likable – sure they’re comic-booky, but that’s not a bad thing. They’re larger than life and you identify with them. I call that awesome.

The action scenes are exactly what you’ve come to expect from Rodriguez. They’re fast, bloody, over the top, and underpinned by a great sense of humour. Watch out for the “small intestine” scene, and you’ll know what I mean.

The cast is absolutely brilliant (even - and it pains me to say this – Seagal). There’s a smattering of 70s trash movies mixed in with the character and flair of 80s action movies and it works really well. I guess you’d call it a beer and pretzels movie. Check it out.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
A fuckton.
Sex/Nudity: A fuckton.
Swearing: A fuckton.
Summary: A great, retro, action flick with some great belly laughs and action sequences. Well worth picking up. 8/10
The Reef
Starring: Gyton Grantley, Zoe Naylor, Adrienne Pickering,
Director: Andrew Traucki
Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment

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

Based on a true story, The Reef follows Matt, Suzie and Kate, who visit their friend Luke and decide to go on a sailboat with a fellow Sailor named Warren. However, whilst on their trip, the boat hits an underwater rock and capsizes, leaving them twelve miles away from land with no contact with the outside world. With the boat sinking and the current taking them further and further away from land, the quartet decide to make a swim for the island and leave Warren on the boat due to his fear of the water’s inhabitants. Will they make it to the island, or will the sharks get to them first?

Those of you who are expecting plenty of shark related action and death, a la Jaws will be disappointed with The Reef, as it probably has more in common with the likes of Open Water than the granddaddy of shark movies. That isn’t to say that there isn’t anything to enjoy here. The plot is engaging with realistic characters and some good acting. I specifically liked the idea of having the characters attempt to swim to safety as it literally was their only means of survival, as it shows a race for survival as well as trying to avoid the various hazards (ie. sharks).

However, one of the fundamental problems with The Reef is that the pacing is very poor, it takes a large chunk of the film in order for them to get stranded and decide to swim for it, and it is almost an hour into the film before you actually see any shark related action and death (which is probably the reason you want to watch the film anyway right?). However, even when you actually see sharks, the scenes spend too much time trying and failing to build up tension, and the end result is over way too quickly considering the tension they were trying to build up.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Plenty of blood, but nothing is really shown when it comes to the inevitable shark munching.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some uses of "fuck", but nothing over the top considering some horror movies.
Summary: Some nice ideas ruined by some poor pacing, more enjoyable plot wise than Open Water, but still not likely to trouble Jaws anytime soon. 6/10
Operation Valkyrie
Starring: Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
Director: Jo Baier
High Fliers

Available from Monday 28th March - £9.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

July, 1944. As WWII raged on, a group of conspirators, led by Claus von Stauffenberg, plotted to assassinate Hitler and end his reign of terror. Using rare color footage, painstakingly recreated dramatizations, detailed CG reconstructions and exclusive interviews with leading historians, this thrilling documentary presents the definitive record of what happened before, during and after these pivotal events.

Operation Valkyrie is exceedingly well acted, and the horrors of the Holocaust are presented in a stark – although not overstated manners. The production and direction are pretty good, too. It’s a shame, then, that bugger all happens for most of the movie, sending it hurtling into the realms of “quiet boring” like a fast but surreptitious mole.

See, the main part of Operation Valkyrie – the placing of the rigged briefcase – is remarkably tense and well done...but that happens about fifty minutes into the movie – leaving another forty odd minutes of bugger all happening still to come!

There’s a lot of wasted opportunity here (not to mention some eye-achingly bad CG), but ultimately they’ve tried to make a ninety minute movie out of a ten minute thing.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Some warfare.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some, mild.
Summary: A well produced and will acted biopic, let down by some truly terrible pacing. Only of interest to WWII buffs. 4/10
Summer Wars
Starring: Sumiko Fuji, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Ayumu Saitô
Director: Mamoru Hasoda
Manga Video
Available from Monday 28th March – £17.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-Ray)
Review by Rob Wade

When timid eleventh-grader and math genius Kenji Koiso is asked by older student and secret crush Natsuki to come with her to her family's Nagano home for a summer job, he agrees without hesitation. That's when Kenji discovers his "summer job" is to pretend to be Natsuki's fiancé. As Kenji attempts to keep up with Natsuki's act around her family, he receives a strange math problem on his cell phone which, being a math genius, he can't resist solving. As it turns out, the solution to the mysterious equation causes a hijacking of the social networking site through which most of the world's social and business traffic flows…

Summer Wars could easily be viewed as a satire on the modern world, and the way the world seems to be going, in that the world is almost brought to its knees by a dependence on social networking and Internet gaming. At the same time, it’s worth knowing that this movie is also a really good, engaging story which keeps you going all the way through.

Visually, the movie is absolutely stunning during the Oz (the name of the social game) sections. The virtual world is colourful, bright and vibrant with some really good CG effects. This is particularly well utilised during the final third of the movie, with the section being set almost completely in Oz, as Kenji attempts to right the wrongs his solution has caused.

Another thing that the movie does really well is emotion, in particular one of the characters dealing with a death in the family. The music’s really good in the movie, and during the emotional scenes these are particularly good.

It’s not perfect, by any stretch, however. The movie is cheesy at times and has some immensely predictable moments. For instance, when you see one character, you realise how they’re going to be connected to the events of the story, and turn out to be completely spot on! What a surprise, eh? Unreal. Also, there’s a side plot with a baseball game which doesn’t really need to be there, but at the same time it’s interspersed reasonably well.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Some avatars bash the shit out of each other.
Sex/Nudity: Some side-boob. No more than that.
Swearing: “Bullshit” gets used once, and “Bastard” is chucked in as well.
Summary: A stunning movie well worth checking out. 8/10
WWE - Tagged Classics: Wrestlefest '88 & Wrestlefest '90
Starring: Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior
Clear Vision

Available Now - £19.99 (Double DVD)
Review by Omer Ibrahim

WWE has slapped together two shows from it’s golden era in the late eighties/early nineties, showcasing such superstars as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, The British Bulldogs and Bret Hart.

Wrestlefest ‘88

Wrestle fest ‘88 is a selection of ten matches from a weekend-long event in an American Football stadium. The match list looks good, but the wrestlers seem to be phoning it in.

First up, The Killer Bees take on The Rougeau Brothers in a blah tag team match with plenty of stalling.

Bret Hart makes Bad News Brown look good in their match, but forgets to look good himself. Jim Neidhart makes a run-in on Hart’s behalf, as a good guy. Remember that...

Next, The Honkey Tonk Man and his ringside fucktard Jimmy Hart defend the Intercontinental Championship against “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Kicky punchy, unimaginative Memphis-style shit follows.

Time for another tag match as the Russian team of The Bolsheviks take on The Powers of Pain in a match that must have been fantastic, because I don’t remember what happened.

Wait, Jim Neidhart is back. And he’s bullying Lanny Poffo like he’s a bad guy...wait...but he just saved Bret...but he’s a good guy...but that means...if he’s...I really don’t care.

Match of the card goes to “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. They both work the crowd perfectly and enter the most energetic match on the disc...

...which is the opposite of The Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, as they have a Weasel Suit Match. Yup, the loser has to wear a weasel suit. Heenan is comedy gold here; he’s a lot better in the ring than people think.

The British Bulldogs outclass Demolition in another tag match that brings the crowd into a frenzy.

Canadian strongman Dino Bravo throws Ken Patera around a bit in another forgettable match.

In the Main event, Andre the Giant clambers into a tiny cage with Hulk Hogan to have a Hulk Hogan match with Hulk Hogan. Yawn.

Wrestlefest ‘90

Wrestlefest ‘90 is a rather confusing collection of matches from all over the place, in no apparent order, stuck together by random interviews and segments. The format is so frustrating that I cant really run through the matches as I normally do, because as I was watching it, I couldn’t keep track of where it was going. There were three Hart Foundation matches, but all three of them had screw job finishes, as did every single match on the disc. Yup, not one match has a finish that ends without disqualifications, run ins or count outs. This collection is what we in the wrestling industry refer to as a “completely infuriating pile of arse-dribble”.

There’s also Hulk Hogan.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Hokey ‘80’s punching.
Sex/Nudity: Pants!
Swearing: The announcers actually apologise when one wrestler says “damn”.
Summary: A couple of good matches punctuate a dire collection. Wrestlefest ’88 is better, but its still far from decent. 3/10

Fraggle Rock: Series Two
Starring: Dave Goelz, Terry Angus, Jerry Nelson
Director: Jim Henson
Lions Gate Home Ent. UK Ltd

Available Now, RRP - £12.99 (DVD only), Series 2 £29.99 (DVD only)
Review by Rob Wade


Want more Fraggley fun? Return to where it all began with the complete second season of Fraggle Rock, filled with even more favourite Fraggle moments. So save your worries for another day and experience frag-tastic fun in the ultimate Fraggle Rock collection! Get down with Fraggle Rock!

In Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series, the fun-loving Fraggles - Gobo, Red, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and all their friends - explore new horizons, frolicking about in the wondrous maze of colourful caverns that make up the fantastic, fairy-tale landscape that the Fraggles call home.

When I reviewed the first season of this show, I attested that the appeal of Fraggle Rock was not something that was going to draw in people who’d never watched the show and thus had no nostalgia associated with the show. I stand by this, and have further evidence in the form of the second series and the animated series. Ultimately, this is more of the same for those who enjoy the series and retain fond memories. They haven’t moved the group of Fraggles to a top-secret military base, nobody on the team has been killed in the season cliff hanger.

Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Fraggle Rock has always had that cutesy kind of appeal to it where it’s a little out of the ordinary, not quite the standard Jim Henson fare and a lot better than a lot of the dross that was on kids’ TV in those days. Fraggle Rock is still just as fun and cutesy for those people who remember it well and have good memories of it. The animated series, too, adds a certain extra depth to the series, with new adventures based around the characters. In a way, I suppose, an animated series allows you certain extra freedom from a design perspective.

Anyway, the DVD transition has been kind to Fraggle Rock, with none of the dingy looks that accompany some DVD translations (or indeed the bootleg kind which still has “Challenge TV” in the top right corner), and the episodes are as entertaining as they ever were. The characters are entertaining enough, and the episodes represent a decent amount of value in that the series both come with a good number of episodes on them.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: If you thought there was going to be violence, nudity or swearing, you know what you can do?
Sex/Nudity: Get fucked, that’s what.
Swearing: There’s nothing for you here.
Summary: Non-fans of the series need not apply. 6/10

BURNISTOUN GIVEAWAY

Welcome to sunny Burnistoun! This fine Scottish city is not anywhere near as bad as anyone makes it out to be! Here you can say 'Hello!' to Burnistoun punters like the Burnistoun Butcher, pop starlet Kelly McGlade and Burnistoun's favourite son, Biscuity Boyle! Why not buy some sweets from those charming ice cream van boys, Paul and Walter? And then pay respects to their dead mother.

Try some freshly baked rolls from our many newsagents. Discuss buffet etiquette with Peter and Scott. Stop at the traffic lights on the Dekebone roundabout! And travel up and down in one of Burnistoun's amazing working voice-activated lifts! Come to Burnistoun! Bring the whole family!

Thanks to our friends at 2entertain, we've got two copies of Burnistoun: Series One 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 2nd April, making sure to put "Burnistoun" as the subject. The first two names out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

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

Burnistoun is available from Monday 4th April, priced £19.99.

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

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