Tuesday 24 November 2009

DVD Reviews

Terminator Salvation
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD), £24.99 (Blu-ray) and £74.99 (Blu-ray with Limited Edition T-600 Packaging)
Review by Brad Harmer

John Connor (Christian Bale – Treasure Island, Reign of Fire) was fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.

For those disenfranchised by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, or disappointed by the cancellation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – fear not. This latest installment of the franchise is, if not a spectacular return to form – then very certainly a step in the right direction.

Whilst the first Terminator movie was a claustrophobic cyber-horror movie, and the second was a no-holds barred Hollywood action movie – Terminator Salvation has taken it stylistically in another direction, in to the realms of pulp sci-fi. A non-stop stream of exciting, adrenaline fuelled action set-pieces – full of spectacular explosions, convenient plot-devices and giant robots.

There are several flaws with the movie, the biggest (if not the most readily apparent) being that it just doesn’t have the strong characters or “hook” of the original two movies (we’re okay to ignore the existence of number three, right? We are? Good.). Sure, we know who Reese and John Connor are, but they don’t ever truly make us identify with them as strongly as we do in the earlier installments. This isn’t as limiting as it may first appear, however, as the pulp-sci-fi style the movie has adopted doesn’t really need strong characters – the action set pieces carry it well enough.

The second being that the “twist” centering around one of the main characters is so obvious from the start, that I’m not ever sure it was supposed to be a twist.

With these pretty minor flaws aside, Terminator Salvation is a fun, blockbuster installment in a franchise that many of us feared was dead and buried. Hopefully we’ll see more of the same quality in the future.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Shooting, fisticuffs, explosions, giant robots with laser guns, buildings collapsing, some mild torture sequences, stabbings, grenade launchers used at close proximity.
Sex/Nudity: Some very muscle topless male nudity.
Swearing: IMDB lists one fuck, 4 shits, 1 dick, and “at least several blasphemies”. Is anyone knows what the hell is meant by the phrase “at least several”, please comment.
Summary: A revitalizing installement to the franchise. Fans willing to accept a difference stylistic take on the series will be very satisfied. 8/10

Ice Age 3 - Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Carlos Saldanha
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) and £29.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

The Ice Age series to me has always been about two things, Scrat’s Wile E. Coyote like attempts to hold onto the one thing he loves in life, his acorn, and witty comedy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, making it a close contender to the Shrek series for striking this balance. However, unlike the Shrek series, it seems that Ice Age has managed to improve over the series rather than failing to be as good as the original movie.

In Ice Age 3, Manny and Ellie, are expecting a baby, which leaves Manny anxious to ensure that everything is perfect for when his baby arrives. Diego is worried that he is becoming too laid-back and decides to leave the herd to seek his own adventure. Sid begins to wish for a family of his own, and so steals some dinosaur eggs which leads to Sid being captured by the mother dinosaur, and it’s up to everyone to try and rescue him.

All the loveable things about Ice Age have returned, from Manny’s blunt humour delivered with great timing by Ray Romano, to Scrat’s look of “Oh, shit!” as he’s about to fall down a cliff. Add to that the brilliantly insane Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg) and lots of action and you have a great family film that’s funny and exciting from start to finish. Also, adding children to the story hasn’t damaged the story like it did in Shrek the Third, and I could potentially see a fourth movie coming out whilst I couldn’t see a Shrek 4 being made.

However, where the DVD edition is let down is more in the movie’s extra’s. The DVD set is just in 2D rather than the excellent 3D version that was shown in cinemas. That, and there are no extras with the DVD which is surprising as I would have expected some featurettes on the making of the film and some interactive games for younger viewers. I can only assume from Scrat’s apologetic looking face on the DVD menu, that the extras were all nut flavoured so he had stolen them all.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
A bit of slapstick comedy violence with some dinosaurs. And Scrat has some mishaps and gets into fights with his new love interest Scratte. But nothing overly gory or ultra-violent.
Sex/Nudity: None, a few mild references to genitalia, but nothing offensive.
Swearing: None at all, this is a children’s film after all.
Summary: An excellent addition to the franchise that will be enjoyed by both adults and children. However, it remains to be seen whether or not there is any more room for another sequel to the franchise since the “baby” thing that killed off the shrek franchise. But to know that, only time will tell. 8/10

Red Cliff: Special Edition
John Woo
Entertainment In Video

Available Now - £22.99 (DVD) and £29.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

As mentioned in my previous review of The Three Kingdoms John Woo's big budget return to Asian cinema is a retelling of the Romance in the Three Kingdoms, but choosing to stick to the main story of Sun Quan and Liu Bei fighting the forces of Cao Cao and trying to unite China under one flag rather than based on the life of the soldier Zhao Zilong. If you are a fan of Chinese history or the Dynasty Warriors computer games (if you can’t be bothered with history but like lots of killing), then you are in for a treat.

The film is excellent from start to finish and is directed superbly. The action scenes (as you would expect from a John Woo movie) are excellent. I personally didn’t know that there were so many ways you could kill someone with a spear until I saw this. This epic that is spread over two films (one on each disc) is very interesting and keeps you wanting more right up until it’s conclusion. The acting is also brilliant, with special mention to Tony Leung who gives a brilliant performance as Zhou Yu.

The only problem that I found with the film came from its length. I do not normally have a problem with epics, but I did feel that a few of the scenes in the film were over long and unnecessarily drawn out. However, if you look past this, then this is a fine piece of Asian cinema, and one of John Woo’s best films in years, you won’t be disappointed.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
There is a lot of bloodshed (this is a war film after all) with very impressive looking kills as the generals kill several people with a wave of their spear. Fans of John Woo's action set pieces will not be disappointed.
Sex/Nudity: One or two sex scenes, but you don’t really see anything.
Swearing: None that is really noticeable in the translation. The film is more about politics, strategy and kicking large amounts of buttocks.
Summary: A great epic and a return to form for John Woo in my opinion. The direction is beautiful; the action is impressive and puts a lot of emphasis on looking cool. A must see for fans of John Woo and Asian cinema alike. Just be expected to put up with some drawn out scenes in between the blood shed. 9/10

Smallville Season 8
Warner Home Video
Available Now - £49.99 (DVD) and £59.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Years ago, a meteor shower burst from the heavens, raining destruction on the unsuspecting citizens of Smallville, Kansas. From the ashes of tragedy grew Clark Kent, whose transition from boyhood to manhood was particularly difficult as he came to grips with his emerging superpowers. This season, Clark is at a crossroads - and closer than ever to becoming the superhero of legend. He will face his ultimate challenge with the emergence of a legendary, unstoppable destroyer - and this won't be the only nemesis to appear.

I really groaned at the prospect of having to watch and review the latest season of Smallville as my experiences of the series in the past left a bitter taste in my mouth. Although the content of previous series were interesting and it was nice to watch a different take on the Superman franchise, the direction and acting of previous series were just so damn cheesy! It had that dim mood lighting that just screamed American soap opera and as soon as an important plotline was revealed or a important suspenseful incident happened the camera would pan out and the main actor would turn to face camera and start conversing with the audience rather than the other actor. Surprisingly season eight wasn’t the steaming pile of dog shit I thought it was going to be. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t amazing, but it only had a waft of poo-like elements to it rather than a full stench.

I have always been much more of a Marvel fan and tend to enjoy reading more anti-hero comics such as The Punisher. So what I enjoyed about this series is the involvement of the Doomsday arc as it was nice to see another true villain in the show, that was fundamentally the polar opposite of Clark Kent and not Lex Fucking Luthor.

There is still plenty of cheese, the acting is still as hack as ever, but we can forgive it for the following reason... Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow’s biceps. As soon as the story starts to lull out pops Oliver with barely anything on; definitely a show for the girls...YUM!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Plenty of blood and death, Doomsday is a rock hard character!
Sex/Nudity: No sex persay, but plenty of abs and a bit of side boob.
Swearing: Nope, this is a wholesome American show...
Summary: Better than previous series, I can see why teenagers like it. 6/10

Christmas Time In South Park
Paramount Home Entertainment
Available Now - £14.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

There's no better time of the year than Christmas, especially in South Park. So stop fighting with the family, gather 'round the fire and watch these classic South Park episodes. Join in as the citizens of South Park sing many of everyone's favorite holiday classics, like "Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo" and "Christmas Time in Hell." See the boys bring Christmas to Iraq and learn how hard it is to be a Jew during this holiday season. Christmas is a time when we all can put aside out differences and agree on what the holidays are really about: presents!

Yeah, The Simpsons went downhill. Yeah, Family Guy isn’t as funny as it used to be. But two solid gold facts remain: one) Futurama will always be funny and, two) South Park will always be funny.

This compilation, comprising all seven Christmas episodes of the poorly animated but hilariously scripted South Park is an excellent Christmas compilation, pulling together some classic moments as a festive dinner shared with Charles Manson, and the all musical Mr Hankey’s Christmas Classics. This is the perfect compilation to get you into an, admittedly rather alternative, Christmas mood, or to brighten up someone’s Terrence and Phillip Stockings.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Seven episodes, Kenny gets killed seven times.
Sex/Nudity: Some references.
Swearing: Frequent. You have seen South Park, right?
Summary: An excellent compilation of episodes, for a rather good price – 9/10

1 comment:

  1. Before you so confidently predict that you 'can't see a Shrek 4' being made, you might want to check imdb.

    Shrek 4 comes out next year.