Saturday, 12 November 2011

DVD Reviews

Panic Button
Starring: Jack Gordon, Michael Jibson, Scarlett Alice Johnson
Director: Chris Crow

Available Now
Review by Blake Harmer

After four young people win a competition for an all expenses paid trip to New York, courtesy of the social network site, they board the private jet, and are asked to relinquish their mobile phones and take part in the in-flight entertainment - a new online gaming experience.

Once airborne the games begin, and it soon becomes evident through a series of twisted and sickening tasks, that the passengers' mystery host knows far more than they ever dared imagine, but are they all as innocent as they seem?

I know what you’re thinking...At what point does a panic button become involved in that story?

The answer is it doesn’t, and to my recollection I can’t remember it even being mentioned. That said, though, this is still a horror movie that can make you feel uneasy despite its unnecessary name and low budget. Shot almost entirely on a plane from which there is no escape, the cast are at the mercy of a man who knows everything about them...due to having access to what they get up to online. Things only get worse from there, as well, as the contestants find themselves trying to play for their lives and their loved ones.

The problem with the film (aside from all those mentioned previously) is that none of the characters are really that likeable. While it is true that after you hear about what they do on the Internet you have perfect justification for hating them, you don’t really feel for them and just find them annoying, to the point that you can’t wait for them to be killed. Also, while the main plot twist is good, the other minor plot developments seem flimsy and seem a bit tacked on in order to ramp up the violence and horror.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
A few grisly death scenes but you will have seen worse.
Sex/Nudity: Plenty of references, most of them dodgy, but nothing is shown.
Swearing: Plenty of swearing as is normal for low budget horror films
Summary: An good low budget thriller sadly suffering with just enough flaws to prevent it being essential viewing. However, you could do worse than this. 6/10
Silent Running
Starring: Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin
Director: Douglas Trumbull
Eureka Entertainment

Available from Monday 14th November
Review by Blake Harmer

Freeman Lowell is in charge of looking after the last of Earth’s forests in greenhouses on the giant spaceship “Valley Forge”, after they have long since been destroyed on Earth due to neglect. However, when orders from Earth are received to destroy the greenhouses, Lowell can't go through with it, and when he cannot persuade his three colleagues to help him save the plants, he decides to try and save the forests through any means necessary.

This film is an excellent slice of sci-fi viewing. From its simple eco-friendly message and premise, to the social commentary on humanity’s dependance upon science and nature in different ways, to the three drones that steal the show (and deserve a place amongst Robby the Robot and R2-D2 as cinema’s greatest robots. The film is essential viewing if you are a fan of sci-fi.

This is also because Silent Running captures the feeling of loneliness in space, and also has a protagonist who forces you to constantly question his morals as to whether he truly is doing the right thing, and the downbeat ending only heightens that.

The only real downsides to this well crafted piece of science-fiction is that the pacing is quite slow compared to what modern day audiences are used to, especially as it really starts to drag after the halfway point. Aside from that, I felt the main problems were more to do with the HD clean up. Whilst there were no pops or scratches to be seen, I still felt that the footage was grainy at times, which makes the film show its age (if it wasn’t doing that already with its obviously hippy views). I also thought the sound could be better as it wasn’t as crisp as I would come to expect for a Blu-ray release. That said, there are quite a few extras here to enjoy, so fans may wish to consider upgrading from their DVD just for that.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
A couple of fight scenes and explosions that lead to a few deaths, but nothing bloody is shown.
Sex/Nudity: None...unless you consider the robots to be naked...I hope that’s an arm anyway.
Swearing: A couple of light swear words. Nothing to worry your Nan over.
Summary: An excellent sci-fi film that I would recommend to any fan of the genre if they haven’t seen it. However, the update to Blu-ray could have been better, but considering the extras and the fact this is a thirty year old film. This is still worth getting. 8/10

Starring: Liam O'Brien, Patrick Seitz
Director: Takashi Koike
Manga Video
Available from 14/11/11 on DVD and Blu-Ray
Review by Rob Wade

Redline is the biggest and most deadly racing tournament in the universe. Only held once every five years, everyone wants to stake their claim to fame, including JP, a reckless dare-devil driver oblivious to speed limits with his ultra-customised car - all the while, organised crime and militaristic governments want to leverage the race to their own ends. Amongst the other elite rival drivers in the tournament, JP falls for the alluring Sonoshee - but will she prove his undoing, or can a high speed romance survive a mass destruction?

Redline can best be described as Wacky Races meets F-Zero, a high-octane movie and no mistake. Right away, though, this speed in the action scenes causes issues. Don't get me wrong, the action scenes in this movie, though fast, work really well and look stunning for that matter as well. The premise, too, is a good one. Where the problem falls is that the action scenes frame the beginning and end of the movie, but take up a relatively low percentage of a reasonable length movie. A lot of the movie is spent developing the characters, particularly the protagonist, but the movie could have done with being twenty minutes longer, or shortening the montage describing some of the racers (though that was the bit with tits, so it's a tricky one to call).

The other issue that occurs is that the movie is primarily, according to the director, a love story. That means that the movie, in accordance with this, has a sappy-as-fuck ending. Not the most annoying thing about the ending, however, as the last twenty minutes are a clusterfuck. There's too much going on that hasn't been given sufficient plot depth, and so when everything kicks off you find yourself left scratching your head a little. This isn't to say that the film is even incomprehensible, as it's simple enough to follow. Just not as coherent as one might hope for, which is ultimately the plot summed up in one sentence of me.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
: Cars smashing and shooting each other everywhere. One fight.
Sex/Nudity: One topless scene.
Swearing: Plenty, including "Cocksucker", "pussy" and "fucker".
Summary: An enjoyable enough one, worth checking out. Probably worth the Blu-Ray upgrade if you can find it in a sale, too. 7/10

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