Saturday 23 April 2011

DVD Reviews

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Starring: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Simon Pegg
Director: Michael Apted
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

While back home in England, Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) are pulled into a magical painting, transporting them back to Narnia for their next great quest. Reunited with King Caspian (Ben Barnes) aboard the mighty, royal ship, the Dawn Treader, Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace set sail toward the islands of the East, battling slave traders, violent storms, sea serpents, and other new dangers at every turn. Despite these perilous obstacles, they stay the course in hopes of vanquishing the evil mist before Narnia is lost forever.

There are action sequences aplenty in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; and that’s a good thing, because that’s pretty much all it has going for it. The film looks good, and delivers on the adrenaline front, but all too often feels although the crew of the Dawn Treader are just sailing from meaningless set-piece to meaningless set-piece, and there’s no real sense of cohesion tying it all together. I blame the book as much as anything. With Tolkien, there’s a sense that everything ties in, has history and meaning. With Lewis I’m never quite able to escape the feeling that he was making it up as he went along to suit what he needed to do with the story/preach about Jesus. I could go one about the fucking Dufflepuds here, but I really don’t want this to turn into an essay entitled “Oh, Why I Fucking Hate Narnia”.

The movie bumbles into an impressive battle with a sea-monster, which is then fucked up by Aslan turning up like a gazelle munching deus ex machina. A rental will fill up a lazy Sunday afternoon if you’re a fan of the preceding movies, but otherwise, don’t bother.

Enough Narnia now, please, Hollywood.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Sword fighting, spell slinging, explosions, naval combat, and other assorted bits of buckled swash.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: The action scenes are good, but there’s no real sense of cohesion. Brainless fun, but ultimately unsatisfying. 6/10
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Forever
Starring: Wayne Grayson, Sam Riegel, Michael Sinterniklaas
Director: Roy Burdine & Lloyd Goldfine
Best Medicine

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

Celebrating twenty-five years of turtle power, Turtles Forever is an animated feature-length adventure that throws the current gen Ninja Turtles together with the 90’s Ninja Turtles when the Technodrome unintentionally opens up a trans-dimensional portal to the current gen Ninja Turtles’ universe. However, standing in their way of solving this debacle are Shredder and Ch'rell who have plans to eliminate the turtles once and for all with the aid of the original Shredder, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady and the Foot Soldiers.

If you loved (or, indeed, still do love) the Turtles, then this film is practically nigh on essential for you. The film combines the more serious aspects of the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the more comical and slightly shonky aspects of 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to brilliant effect without either one suffering in any way. A perfect example of this is the 90’s Turtles constantly cracking one liners and breaking the fourth wall whilst fighting, and the current turtles taking things more seriously and finding them annoying. The plot is also compelling and even manages to chuck in the original graphic-novel Turtles in for good measure, which means both old and new fans of TMNT will find something to enjoy.

The only real downside to this film is that it assumes you are a huge fan and that little needs explaining aside from how both universes are thrown together. Aside from this though, this is an excellent piece of fan service to send up and celebrate the last twenty-five years of comics, films and TV series that make up the TMNT universe.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
The fast paced action of the current series mixed with the more cartoony violence of the original series done very well.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None, unless you include the play on words: “What the shell?”
Summary: Whilst not so easily accessible to casual viewers or newbies to the TMNT universe (or multiverse, as it may seem), this is essential viewing for fans of the franchise over the last twenty-five years. 9/10
Animals United
Starring: James Corden, Stephen Fry, Billie Piper
Director: Reinhard Klooss & Holger Tappe
Entertainment in Video

Available from Monday 25th April - £9.99 (DVD) £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

A group of animals waiting for the annual flood they rely on for food and water discover that the humans, who have been destroying their habitats have built a dam for a leisure resort. The animals endeavour to save the delta and send a message to the humans not to interfere with nature.

From the opening sequence it’s pretty obvious that Animals United is...not good. The models and skins are okay, but this has to be some of the worst lip-synching I’ve seen outside of an Ashlee Simpson gig. The fact it’s about forty minutes in before the first laugh doesn’t help any either.

The sets are all drab, empty and dull, and the attempts at pathos severely lacking, too. You never feel involved with any of it. It’d woefully pedestrian stuff – and you know what else? The animals aren’t even united.

Not even Stephen Fry can save this. Think about that for a second.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some gunfire, and hunting.
Sex/Nudity: None. Apart from all the constant nudity.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A wet, wannabe Pixar animation. Suitable for the very young and indiscriminating only. 2/10
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Tchéky Karyo, Monica Bellucci
Director: Jan Kounen
Second Sight

Available from Monday 25th April – £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Rob Wade

Charismatic villain Dobermann leads a gang of depraved henchmen in a world of crime, drugs and endless violence. The gang boldly pull off a blood-soaked Paris bank heist in broad daylight under the noses of police. One renegade cop takes the law into his own hands and makes it his mission to stop Dobermann by any means necessary.

There’s an unwritten rule in cinema: Vincent Cassel is the fucking man. He’s cool, he’s usually pretty funny and he looks like he could snap you in half by looking at you. This is probably the film where it’s most obvious, with Cassel playing a charismatic criminal in the vein of Mickey in Natural Born Killers. The entire cast is effective at what they do, ultimately, which is one of the main strengths of the movie. Of particular awesomeness apart from Cassel is the detective who takes over the case, who goes from one delightful extreme to the other, and is most effective when you think he’s calming down only for him to become even more maniacal.

The movie’s also strong technically for the most part. If I had to make one small criticism, it’s that the camera work can sometimes make it hard to tell what’s going on, owing to jerky movements or strange angles. However, as a general rule, the movie is shot really well, with the colourful setting particularly effective during the film’s penultimate scene in a club. The movie is also pretty smart, though bizarre at times as well – I mean, whoever heard of criminals getting shot? Honestly…

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Guns, explosions, a bloke gets his head blown off by a grenade. You know, the usual.
Sex/Nudity: Tits in a magazine, a sex scene with tits. You see a bloke’s tackle and arse, and he gets a dildo in his mouth.
Swearing: “Fuck”, “Shit”, talk of sex and gays.
Summary: Eccentric, clever and at times funny. 9/10
The Breakfast Club
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald
Director: John Hughes
Universal Pictures UK

Available Now - £19.99 (Blu-Ray)
Review by Rob Wade

They were five students with nothing in common faced with spending a Saturday detention together in their high-school library. At 7am, they had nothing to say, but by 4pm they had bared their souls to each other and become good friends.

One of the questions I found myself asking when faced with this disc is “Why is this movie being released on Blu-Ray?” Personally, I see the Blu-ray format as a movie format that (for the moment at least, until the prices drop) only interests me for those big cinematic releases that you want to see the detail or colour on. Granted, the option to watch Molly Ringwald’s crotch through pants might have appealed in HD back in the 1980s, but nowadays there are other more explicit films which can satisfy those carnal needs. True, those types of movies existed in the 1980s as well, but you had to go into certain pervy shops to purchase them, rather than just selecting an option on to unhide something. Or however it’s done, I’m not sure.

One thing that struck me while watching this movie was how much of it I’d seen without seeing the movie. One thing that cannot be denied about this movie is that it was the originator of a lot of gags which have subsequently been done to death by TV, movies and even video games. The originator should always be given kudos, and in this case the credit is most definitely due to this movie. However, this left me sitting through a lot of the movie smirking rather than out-loud guffaws.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not by any means a bad movie. It’s an 80s movie, as Ringwald’s dancing near the end can most certainly demonstrate, but it’s not a bad movie. The problem is that it’s an incredibly slow-paced and ultimately sappy movie at times, and will undoubtedly frustrate a lot of those who would qualify themselves E14. There’s your typical character archetypes: the jock, the nerd, the prom queen, the goth and the scruffy rebel prick (played expertly by Judd Nelson), as well as the gruff-sounding principal who’s actually a soft touch on the inside *sniff*. It’s all a little bit sickly sweet at times, although credit is due to Hughes for making the question of “do we go back to normal on Monday?” a very truthful answer, even if the answer isn’t in the least bit realistic as to what people would say when pressed.

On the other hand, however, the characters are written really well, even if those characters are typical of the 80s cliques. Judd Nelson plays a convincing prick (though I’m sure in real life he’s an absolute doll), Ally Sheedy makes the goth morbidly annoying and Estevez makes the wrestler jock douchebag suitably douchey. All in all, not a bad film, but certainly not worth picking up on Blu-Ray unless the price is right. The transfer to HD has not been kind to the movie, and certainly shows its age in the worst way.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: One short wrestle between Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez.
Sex/Nudity: Molly Ringwald’s crotch through panties.
Swearing: A fair few uses of the words “shit” and “fuck”.
Summary: One of those movies which defines its time more effectively than any other, but not really one that stands the test of time beyond nostalgia. 7/10

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