Saturday, 8 October 2011

DVD Reviews

Erik the Viking
Starring: John Cleese, Tim Robbins, Mickey Rooney
Director: Terry Jones
Arrow Video
Available from 10/10/2011 on DVD
Review by Blake Harmer

Set in the age of Viking Mythology, Erik is a Viking with a conscience and no love for rape, although still a dab hand with the violence. However, with the Sun missing, Erik assembles a crew of other Vikings to travel to Asgard in order to convince the Gods to bring the Sun back and also to right the girl Erik killed by mistake. However, will Erik and his band survive monsters, evil warriors, and horrifying singing?!

Much like Gilliam’s Time Bandits, Terry Jones’ Erik the Viking has all the makings of a thoroughly enjoyable family comedy, as well as a great cast to boot such as Tim Robbins, Mickey Rooney and John Cleese. There is also something for everyone, action and adventure in the form of battling mythical monsters to comedy in the form of a Viking Berserker who is constantly criticised by his father for not being Berserk enough, or a group of incredibly friendly islanders who attempt to entertain through song but cannot play instruments or sing.

However, unlike Gilliam’s superb Time Bandits, Erik the Viking never quite strikes the same heights of comedy or emotion that is held for the characters. I thought the pacing of the story could have been better, although this is improved by the director’s son’s cut of the film that is also included in this release. Also, those expecting Monty Python levels of greatness will be disappointed as the films comedy never comes close to the likes of The Life of Brian or The Holy Grail. That said, into the film without these dizzyingly high expectations and you will find a thoroughly enjoyable comedy action adventure that will keep all ages thrilled, provided parents are ok with some swearing, and some attempts at rape (although nothing is shown nor is it violent).

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence
: Lots of fighting and blood, but nothing overly horrific.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of attempts at rape and a consensual sex scene but nothing is seen or shown.
Swearing: Some but nothing overly strong.
Summary: Despite the fighting and references to rape, this is an enjoyable comedy that could be enjoyed by all ages. Don’t go in there expecting Python levels of genius though, this has some funny moments but nothing as consistent or hilarious as anything the Python movies conjure up. 7/10

Ninja Girl
Starring: Rina Takeda, Mitsuki Koga, Masanori Mimoto
Director: Seiji Chiba
MVM
Available from 10/10/2011
Review by Rob Wade

As the fierce rivalry between the Iga and Kouga ninja clans rages on, a pair of psychotic eunuch ninjas, are tasked with abducting young women to serve as "tools of pleasure". Little do they realise that one of their latest victims is a kunoichi, a highly skilled female ninja. But she is also a kunoichi on a mission of revenge, determined to smash the evil flesh trafficking heritage to which her own mother once fell victim.

Sound a little odd? I can promise you, in the context of the movie it’s absolutely god-damn ridiculous. So let me see if I’ve got this right (rhetorical – I know I have). A group of ninjas with no genitals go out kidnapping women to be used as “Tools of pleasure”. Why would they do that? During the course of the film it’s established that they’re kidnapping the women for themselves, because they’re ninjas of a lower repute in their clan, and thus cannot have sex with the women in their own village. Except they can’t have sex with any women, so what’s the logic?

Oh, and did I mention they’re magic ninjas as well? Yeah, you wouldn’t see it in the blurb, mainly because I’m not convinced the director was sure what was going on in their own film. There’s a scene where a ninja does something magical, to the point that someone says “How is this possible?” suggesting that something supernatural is going on, and then that’s the last they mention of it.

While they’re looking at ways to improve for the sequel (which I’m fairly certain is happening, being as the ending teases one heavily – more on that in a minute), I have a suggestion. If you’re going to make ninjas fearful, making them eunuchs is one thing, but how about making them strong enough to not get beaten up by a girl with her hands tied in front of her?! I mean, they’re magic ninjas, not that you’d know that from the rest of the movie besides that five second bit, so surely you’d think that there’d be some sort of fight which might be a little bit more balanced, but apparently not.

Ultimately, the film suffers in one key area, that of being a jumbled clusterfuck of a movie. Here’s the kicker, though. Remember that sequel teasing I mentioned? The movie ends with the surefire knowledge that it’s all about to kick off, and that the next film is going to be a guaranteed action-fest. What’s the problem then?

This movie is only an hour long, and there’s room for that to be the last scene.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Some pretty decent martial arts, let down by some shoddy gore effects.
Sex/Nudity: Necrophilia, but nothing is shown. In fact, they aren’t even unclothed.
Swearing: Only from me.
Summary: A ludicrous premise which the cast does their best with, but past a certain point it’s impossible to make a turd shinier. Plus the ending cuts off just when it’s starting to 3/10

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