Saturday 4 September 2010

DVD Reviews

Hot Tub Time Machine
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Chevy Chase, John Cusack
Director: Steve Pink
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) & £28.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

Hot Tub Time Machine follows a group of best friends all of whom are tired of their lives and decide to get away from it all by going on a wild weekend to the Ski resort where they used to go as teenagers, seeking the time of their lives. Upon arriving there they realise that the resort has changed a lot since 1986 and is now as dull as their current lives have become. But, when they have a mad night of drinking in their hotel hot tub, they awake only to find that they have been transported back to 1986 as their teenage selves. Will they try and keep things the way they were, or will they change their future in order to improve it?

Hot Tub Time Machine is all about nostalgia and crude humour, and whilst some of this humour is guaranteed to raise the odd chuckle, some of it misses the mark and the jokes just don’t come thick and fast enough.

On the plus side, the character interaction is the star of the show, John Cusack is still great at being angry and Rob Cordry has some great lines even if it does feel like he’s trying too hard to be Jack Black. There is something for everyone to enjoy here from good one-liners all the way through to the nostalgia-porn on offer (to those of the right age).

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Comical, slapstick violence but there isn’t a lot shown apart from some bloodied noses.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of references to sex, a couple of sex scenes, boobs, this film does well in this area, like a lot of films of its type.
Swearing: Lots of swear words, but used to great effect for comedic purposes.
Summary: A fairly enjoyable comedy, which entertains throughout without ever managing to be truly hilarious. Worth a rental if you’re a fan of boyish comedies, but there isn’t much here that isn’t already done better by other films of the same genre. 6/10

Hunter Prey
Starring: Clark Bartram, Damion Poitier, Isaac C. Singleton Jr.
Director: Sandy Collora
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

Available from 6th September - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

In case you’re wondering why you recognise the director’s name, it’s because she was responsible for the Internet sensation/Nerdgasm Batman: Dead End. If you’re wondering why you’re not that excited about her having her first movie released, it’s because you – like myself – realise that the reason you liked it was because of the stars, and not the so-so direction.

A group of intergalactic commandos crash-land on a desolate and hostile planet while transporting a deadly alien prisoner who then escapes and goes on the run. The commandos report in to their home base to seek assistance but are told they must track down and recapture their Alien alive, at all costs. The surviving commandos play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with their former prisoner who is smart and not easily outwitted. But as the commandos are picked off one-by-one and the odds begin to turn, who is the real hunter and who is the real prey?

When the blurb tries to lampshade how derivative it is by pointing out that it’s a “clear nod” to Star Wars, what it really means is “it’s hard not to spit your drink out in hilarity at how much those guys look like Clone Troopers”. Of course, they’re not quite like Clone Troopers. You can understand what Clone Troopers are saying, rather than the indecipherable mess of vocoded dialogue that ensues when these guys talk with their helmets on.

There’s a lot of farting around doing very boring things, whilst ripping off everything from Star Wars through to the little known Enemy Mine. In fact, why wasn’t Dennis Quaid in this movie? He loves this sort of crap, normally.

And in the end it all boils down to the most hilariously convoluted game of “I knew that you knew that I knew that you knew that I knew I know what you know” since Westley went against a Sicilian when death was on the line.

So, if you like originality in your sci-fi, I’d avoid this. If you want to watch Rogue Trooper stumble around the Doctor Who quarry in Mandalorian Armour whilst garbling to himself, then tuck in. Don’t buy it, though. It will be the midnight movie on the Sci-Fi channel pretty soon.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some blasting, some blood, some explosions.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Very mild.
Summary: A derivative and lazily executed sci-fi action/thriller that ends up trying to be too clever for its own good and winds up looking like a poor parody. One for when you’re really bored. 3/10

Dexter: Season Three
Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall, Bail Organa
Paramount Home Entertainment

Available Now - £34.99 (4 DVD Set)
Review by Brad Harmer

To all around him, blood splatter analyst Dexter Morgan appears to be a perfect gentleman and respected member of the police force but, behind this convincing facade, Dexter harbours a terrifying secret. He is a serial killer.

This time Dexter's got a new take on taking life. Having faced some of his darkest demons, Dexter's ready to put the past behind him. Now, with family life, a day job catching kills and an uncontrollable urge to do away with the ones that get away, Dexter's got his work cut out for him. And when a high-profile case sides him with powerful Assistant DA Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits), the pressure might be too great for even our most beloved serial killer.

I preferred Dexter during the first series, where it was dark, but still quite self-aware and tongue-in-cheek, with a wry sense of humour about all the murderising. The second season (although much darker) was pretty good too, although there were a couple of moments where my suspension-bridge of disbelief began to swing in the high crosswinds a little. This third series is another good one, albeit far from perfect. The cast is as amazing as ever, and the relationship between Dexter and Miguel Prado is amazingly well-written and convincing.

The only real problem with this series lies with the pacing. It takes its time building everything up throughout the early episodes, but then everything gets hurriedly packed into the last two episodes, and a major subplot is just horribly crammed into the last five minutes of the whole season. This doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, but it does sour the ending somewhat.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Several up-close murders, with blood. Some punch-ups, some shooting. One traffic collision.
Sex/Nudity: Some making out.
Swearing: It’s a HBO production. That means you manage to get at least a couple of cunts in.
Summary: Another solid series let down by a rather rushed feeling final few episodes. Well worth watching, though. 8/10

Gunparade March Collection
Available Now - £29.99 (3 DVD Set)
Review by Blake Harmer

In this alternate history robo-fest set in 1945, alien invaders have attacked, and for the first time in human history, people of all cultures have come together under one banner. Fifty years later, the battle is still waging on. With so much human life lost, the Japanese military is forced to rely on young people such as Assushi Hayami and his high school class, also known as Unit 5121. This new generation must now take the fight and struggle on against the unending alien horde with the aid of their HWT humanoid combat machines and the devastating PBE bomb.

Gunparade March, aside from its alternative timeline setting, is a different beast than other anime mech series such as Gundam and Macross, as it focuses more on the actual team and their survival than constant mech porn. This creates a more emotional experience with some strong storytelling rather than normal plot to cram in as many explosions and cool looking mechs as possible. That isn’t to say that the combat in Gunparade March isn’t decent: there are still plenty of explosions and alien death to keep most anime lovers happy thoughout the twelve episodes.

The only downside I found to this great series was that I found the ending to be quite disappointing, especially after it feels as if it is building up to a big finish. However, despite the weak finale, this is still a great anime and definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something a little different to add to your collection of giant mech anime.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Decent and fast paced mech combat, with plenty of firepower and large explosions to keep anime mech fans happy.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some, but used in context.
Summary: A thoroughly enjoyable anime from start to finish, which is only truly marred by a weak ending. Well worth a look at for anime fans looking for giant mech action, but with more emphasis on plot and the characters than lots of explosions and death. 8/10


Her desire for revenge is ice cold...

In the frozen wilds of the Alaskan interior, former state trooper Jenna Darrow was taken hostage by a deadly vampire who terrorized her for hours, feeding on her blood and leaving her more dead than alive. But Jenna did survive - albeit as an altered being...

Now Jenna wants revenge on that vampire, and for that she must turn to the very race of beings who terrify her the most: the Breed. But of all the Breed warriors it is Brock, the immense, forbidding male who makes Jenna feel most at ease. Even more unsettling are the unbidden emotions Brock stirs within her. And the affair that begins as a physical understanding devoid of emotional strings soon blazes into something much deeper - but just as their passion flares white hot so does a ghost from Brock's past threaten to break their fragile, forbidden love.

Thanks to our friends at Constable and Robinson, we've got five copies of Lara Adrian's latest novel Taken by Midnight to give away! For your chance of winning a copy, send in your name and postal address to before midday on Saturday 11th September. The first five names pulled out of the electronic hat will all win a free copy!

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