Saturday 10 September 2011

DVD Reviews

Take Me Home Tonight
Starring: Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Topher Grace
Director: Michael Dowse
Universal Pictures UK

Available from Monday 12th September
Review by Blake Harmer

It's the late 1980s, and Matt Franklin (Topher Grace), a brilliant young MIT graduate, has avoided his potential future as an engineer and taken a low-level job as a video clerk, much to his father Bill's (Michael Biehn) disappointment. However, upon discovering that the gorgeous Tori Frederking, who was Matt's unattainable adoration since high school, is suddenly back in the picture, he strikes up a conversation and lies that he is working at Goldman Sachs in an attempt to impress her. Following this and an invite to the hottest party in town, Matt, along with his twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris), and recently unemployed best friend Barry (Dan Fogler), Matt sets out to win Tori’s heart and finally get her phone number.

Now, I know what most of you are thinking, and the answer is yes, this is another slapstick/gross-out teen-comedy that does very little to break out of the mould aside from being set in the 80’s and thus filled with 80’s nostalgia. That said, whilst clichéd, Take Me Home Tonight is still consistently funny, from Barry’s dance-off contest, to stealing a car, to Barry’s sex scene with an older lady (but on the proviso that her husband is allowed to watch). Also, the film is blessed with having Michael Biehn in it, and while he plays it straight and is only in the film to progress the plot and the film’s humdrum message, he is awesome and gives the film a bonus point (as shown below).

On the downside, while this is funny and consistently enjoyable throughout, the film never really delivers any big belly laughs or outrageous moments that would separate it from the hundreds of other comedies out there that are just like it. Even the 80’s nostalgia is done better in Hot Tub Time Machine, mainly because this film could be set outside anywhere and the plot and events that occur would be largely unchanged.

However, Take Me Home Tonight does remain somewhat charming and fun to watch, even if you do only ever watch it once, just don’t expect truly great things from it.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
A couple of comical smacks and some slapstick humour, but nothing truly violent.
Sex/Nudity: Boobs and a couple of sex scenes.
Swearing: A fair amount. Average for your teen style comedy.
Summary: An enjoyable film that is consistently humorous throughout, but never truly becomes laugh out loud funny or does anything to truly differentiate itself from the countless other teen comedies out there. Imagine a poor-man's Hot Tub Time Machine minus the imagination but with bonus Michael Biehn and your pretty much there. 7/10 (including Michael Biehn bonus point).
Julia’s Eyes
Starring: Pablo Derqui Lluís Homar, Belén Rueda,
Director: Guillem Morales
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 12th September
Review by Brad Harmer

Julia is a woman suffering from a degenerative sight disease who finds her blind sister Sara hung in her basement. Despite all signs pointing to suicide, Julia decides to investigate what she intuitively feels is a murder case. Julia's sight gradually deteriorates as she uncovers the terrifying truth about Sara's death, and an invisible man with a mysterious link to Sarah begins to stalk her and leave a series of unexplained deaths in his trail.

Julia’s Eyes is a bizarre mish-mash of styles, combining some Giallo tones, some bits of J-Horror, and even a little bit of American trash horror. You’d think this would result in a bit of a mess, but actually it really, really works. The direction and cinematography is excellent, and it’s a really original story, too.

The pacing is solid throughout and some of the subtle effects (such of the point-of-view shots from Julia’s increasingly degenerating eyesight) are really nicely done. The tension racks up considerably in the second half, and there are some parts that make for pretty uncomfortably tense viewing! The twist, when it arrives, is a good one, although some people may be able to figure it out using the “Scooby Doo” method. In any event, the last twenty minutes or so are terrifying!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Hand-to-hand combat, sadistic torture, graphic corpses, blood, gore, suicide, graphic murder.
Sex/Nudity: Some sexual overtones.
Swearing: Frequent and strong, typical for the genre.
Summary: An excellent psychological horror movie, mixing Giallo sentimentality, J-Horror cinematography and American slasher pacing into a real treat. Highly recommended. 9/10
Starring: Robert Loggia, Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Brian De Palma
Universal Pictures UK

Available Now
Review by Brad Harmer

In the spring of 1980, the Mariel boatlift brought thousands of Cuban refugees to the sun-washed avenues of Miami in search of the American dream. From acclaimed director Brian DePalma, Scarface is the rags-to-riches story of Tony Montana (Al Pacino), who finds wealth, power and passion beyond his wildest a price he never imagined.

I’m not really sure what I can say about Scarface that hasn’t already been said a hundred times over. It’s a glorious excess of sex, drugs and violence, and the destructive repercussions that follow the pursuit of them. It’s about Al Pacino being the loudest he’s ever been. It’s about quotable lines, death by chainsaw, and saying hello to Tony’s little friend.

If you’ve never seen Scarface before, then you are in for a real treat. It’s one of the classic gangster movies for a very good reason – the character of Tony Montana is fascinating one to watch, whether you’re cheering him on, or wishing he’d stop, and the set-pieces are all highly engaging ones.

The bad news is, if you’re already a fan of the movie, then you’re probably going to be disappointed with this Blu-ray. The special features are very similar, if not identical, to the Region One DVD version that came out about ten years ago; and the re-master is...satisfactory. It doesn’t look bad, by any means, but it does lack the pop that you expect from a DVD. You would be better of saving your money, and sticking with your DVD through an upscaler.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Shooting, blood, gore, stabbings, murder/torture by chainsaw, execution style shootings, a man is hung from a helicopter, male on female physical violence, man crushed by stage lighting, point-blank gunshot to the face, near constant blood and gunfire.
Sex/Nudity: Boobs and frequent references.
Swearing: IMDB counts 226 uses of “fuck” (or a variation thereof). That’s 1.3 a minute. And that’s not counting the near constant stream of other words.
Summary: It’s a great movie, but the Blu-ray overhaul is less than impressive. You may as well stick with your DVD version through an upscaler. 8/10


Are you ready to get scared all over again - but this time in your home? The smash-hit horror movie Insidious is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on 12th September. You can get into the spirit by swapping spooky stories on the Insidious UK Facebook page: where you'll also be able to report sightings of the black Insidious Routemaster bus as it terrorises London streets for the week of release!

We've also got something very special for you - a money-can't-buy ‘haunted’ Insidious t-shirt! How can it be haunted? Turn it over to find out...but to do that you have to enter and win our competition where you'll also be in line to get a Blu-ray copy of the movie.

For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Monday 19th September, making sure to put "Insidious" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a haunted t-shirt and a copy of the movie on Blu-ray!

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

Insidious is available from Monday 12th September, courtesy of Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment.

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

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