Saturday 18 December 2010

DVD Reviews

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart
Director: David Slade
E1 Entertainment

Available Now - £19.99 (DVD), £22.99 (2 DVD Set) and £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Bella Swan once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings, with a malicious vampire continuing her quest for revenge at its heart. To add to her problems, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death.

Eclipse, the third instalment in The Twilight Saga has succeeded in its first mission: be a lot better than the lackadaisical New Moon. Unfortunately, it’s still riddled with too many problems to really label it as “unmissable”. For starters, Kristen Stewart is as dopey looking and obnoxious as ever. It’s hard not just to scream “Wake up!” at her permanently stoned facial expression.

The production lacks a certain X factor. Everything: the production, the acting, the ropey all feels a little too flat to really feel like a major movie release. It feels small, like a TV show; not big, like a movie.

With that said, there are a lot of things about Eclipse which are done really well. The flashback sequences into the human lives of the Carlisle family, or the Native American legends about the vampires and the werewolves are all excellent – demonstrating some of the best cinematography seen in any of the The Twilight Saga so far. The action sequences, too, are excellent, and you could get some brainless fun just from them.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Punching, werewolf on vampire fighting, decapitation and deaderising.
Sex/Nudity: Jacob is topless all the time. It’s his thing. There’s some making out, but a strong Mormon subtext keeps rearing its head.
Swearing: None.
Summary: Miles better than the lazy cobbled together New Moon, but this still isn’t going to be winning anyone either. Fans of the series will be more than happy...and that’s the point, really. 7/10

Ong Bak 3

Starring: Primrata Dechudom, Tony Jaa, Saranyu Wonggrajang
Director: Tony Jaa & Panna Rittikrai
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

Following on from the high action fest that was Ong Bak 2, Ong Bak 3 follows on straight after the events of the second film whilst bringing elbows to the tops of people heads and elephant-assisted kung-fu (and, hopefully, a plot this time).

Thankfully, this prequel to the original Ong Bakis set in a fantasy like setting, and does explain the link to why it is even related to the first one and its modern day setting (sort of). The action scenes are also done very well, albeit not as good as those seen in Tony Jaa’s previous films. Particular highlights include the Crow Witch (The main bad guy), dispatching several soldiers by punching and kicking them through walls, with the end of the battle leaving the whole building destroyed. Tony Jaa’s fighting also still raises the odd wincing moment as he breaks limbs and smacks soldiers seventeen times in the head with his elbows.

However, this is not the perfect Ong Bak sequel, the kung-fu
, whilst good, is very few and far between, with a lot of time being spent on the often slightly confusing plot. There were also a fair amount of dancing and meditation scenes, which run on way too long and could have done with some more face punching. I also thought a couple of the earlier fight scenes were a little sluggish and not to the high standard that previous films have been choreographed. At the end of the day though, this is an okayish end to the sort of trilogy. Should Ong Bak 2 and 3be released as a single film, this would probably feel like a much better experience. But this is definitely the slightly disappointing 2nd half of said film.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Lots of broken bones and fairly decent kung-fu, there is also plenty of blood, impaling and decapitation to boot. Not Tony Jaa’s best, but still entertaining.
Sex/Nudity: A kissing moment but that is about it.
Swearing: None.
Summary: An enjoyable kung-fu movie that focuses too much on the plot than actual combat, however it does round off the trilogy and makes Ong Bak 2make more sense. Sure it isn’t Tony Jaa’s best film, but still worth seeing if you are a fan of his work. 7/10

Colditz: The Complete Collection
Starring: Richard Heffer, David McCallum, Robert Wagner

Available Now - £49.99 (10 DVD Set)
Review by Brad Harmer

In a cold dark fortress atop a rocky promontory, Allied soldiers plot their escape from the notorious German prison camp. Intense rivalry between nationalities, the threat of informers and the rigid discipline of the German guards foil a hundred ingenious schemes.

The award-winning 28-part 1970’s drama series Colditz, starring Robert Wagner and David McCallum, which helped to fuel the legend about the daring escapes made by the real inmates, has now coming to BBC DVD for the first time ever.

Grim, detailed, and filled with a strong set of characters, Colditzis television drama at its absolute best. Slow burning and so in-depth it’s almost like a novel in scope, it makes you wish that everything could be this good. The adventures of the prisoners are riveting and tense from start to finish. Featuring some fine acting across the board, this will have you absorbed from the first disc right up to the very end.

The picture has been cleaned up surprisingly well, although there are a few pops and scratches, and the soundtrack could have done with some love. With that said, you’ll be too interested in the awesomeness of the story to bother too much with little things like that.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some scuffling, explosions, torture and shooting.
Sex/Nudity: References, prostitution.
Swearing: “Bally”, “dashed”, “blasted”, historically accurate racist terms.
Summary: A gritty drama with some fantastic acting. If you have fond memories, pick this up straight away. If you’re worried about the cost – don’t be. It’s fantastic value for money. 9/10

Tank Battles of World War II
G2 Entertainment
Available Now - £9.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

Focusing mainly on the German invasion of Russia in 1941 and German Tank strategies, this feature length documentary shows us strategies and operations that were put into effect during the Second World War.

For the most part, this is a very informative documentary about the tank battles of World War II; there is also plenty of actual footage from the war showing some of these famous tank battles. There is also some crisp clear use of maps detailing what occurred during battles, which outline important things such as counter-attacks or German advancements. Chuck in the fact the DVD has a cheap price-tag and you're looking at a pretty good stocking filler for lovers of tanks and World War II.

However, unfortunately that is all this DVD really has to offer. It suffers under the incredibly low budget - some diagrams and footage looks like they have been put together using Windows Movie Maker. I also found that the documentary sidestepped on the main focus a couple of times rather than putting the main focus purely on the war machines themselves: the tanks. Also, with so many other documentaries on tanks, this does very little to differ itself from great documentaries such as World War II in Colour.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Plenty of old footage showing plenty of explosions, gunfire and buildings falling down. Nothing is really depicted showing death though.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A fairly low budget documentary on World War II tank battles that doesn’t really do anything to set itself apart from the countless other World War II documentaries. That said, the affordable price makes this a nice stocking filler for those who take a keen interest in World War II or tanks in general. 5/10

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