Saturday 5 February 2011

DVD Reviews

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Starring: Robert Capron, Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn
Director: Thor Freudenthal & Raja Gosnell
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 7th January - £19.99 (DVD, Digital Copy & Book Pack) & £28.99 (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy Pack)
Review by Brad Harmer

Meet the kid who made "wimpy" cool in a family comedy based on the best-selling illustrated novel Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, the first in a series that has thus far sold twenty-four million copies. Diary of a Wimpy Kid chronicles the adventures of wise-cracking pre-teen Greg Heffley, who must somehow survive the scariest time of anyone's life: middle school.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is not as great as it could have been. The book was a cartoonish look back at school life, full of whacky adventures, gross-out humour and – at its heart – a deep and meaningful friendship. The movie, unfortunately, is flat, uninspired and lacking all of the life and colour that made the original so loveable. There are so many moments of blown comedy.

Rowley’s “Zoo-Wee Mama” comics, which are karking hilarious in the book, fall flat here. Greg’s dad, a hilarious character in the book, is a lame caricature here. There are some good moments of cringe humour, but they are too few and far between. The acting too, is good, especially between Greg and his best friend, Rowley.

If you’re a fan of the books, you’ll be disappointed by this flat and lifeless adaptation. If you’re not, you won’t understand what all the fuss is about.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some scuffling – light and comedic.
Sex/Nudity: Some references to pornography.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A relatively bland kids movie/family comedy. It lacks the sparks of life and comedy that the original book had in spades, and ends up feeling rather flat. Kids will enjoy it, but for most it will just seem as though it’s going through the motions. 6/10

Grindhouse: Collector's Edition
Starring: Vanessa Ferlito, Kurt Russell, Traci Thoms
Director: Various
Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment

Available Now - £24.99 (Double Blu-ray Pack)
Review by Blake Harmer

Finally, after confused American test audiences, the cutting out of the trailers and the release of both feature films being released as separate entities, Grindhouse has finally been combined into one movie as it was originally intended by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. However, does the film actually work this way, or should Planet Terror and Deathproof stayed as separate movies?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes, mainly because this has succeeded in what it has set out to do: create the feel of Grindhouse films as they were in the cinema. This is achieved mainly by trailers made by guest directors to go amongst the other films. Each is a particular highlight to the overall experience whilst maintaining the directors feel, such as the hilarious Don’t trailer from director Edgar Wright, and Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS a movie trailer he has probably wanted to make since he first started his music career, let alone his career as a director. Add these together with the stars of the attraction, Deathproof and Planet Terror, and you have an experience that really does capture the spirit of Grindhouse movies.

However, you should be warned that the experience is a long one, clocking at over three hours , and can give you sensation of numb bum well before its conclusion. However, you can still choose to just watch what you want of Grindhouse seeing as it is essentially two films in one. The only other flaws in this come in the form of Tarantino’s Deathproof, which struggles with some poor pacing issues; it's too slow to get going, and as the second of the films means the ending is a little disappointing. However, ignore the pacing issues, and Deathproof and Grindhouse as a whole is still thoroughly enjoyable.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Lots of over the top blood and violence, as Grindhouse should be then.
Sex/Nudity: Some boobs and nudity but no sex is ever shown.
Swearing: There is plenty of swearing, and excellent one liners to go with them.
Summary: Despite being a very long experience, Grindhouse still works completely intact. Chuck in the lost trailers and plenty of extras, and you have a thoroughly enjoyable double feature that captures the feel of grindhouse cinema. 8/10

Open House
Starring: Rachel Blanchard, Brian Geraghty, Anna Paquin
Director: Andrew Paquin
Optimum Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Newly divorced and eager to make a new start, Alice has decided to sell the house she chose with her ex-husband and move on. But her plans for a new life come to an abrupt end with the arrival of David and Lila. Homicidal, psychopathic and deadly, David and Lila will stop at nothing to create their "perfect home". Bound, gagged and held captive in her own basement, Alice is forced to bear witness to David and Lila's sick and twisted nightmarish world.

Sex, torture and violent death are all fair game as David and Lila begin a relentless tirade of slaughter throughout Alice's unsuspecting neighbourhood.

Don’t get too excited by Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer being in this movie. Anna’s dead by the ten minute mark, and Stephen’s gone by the sixteenth.

The blood sprays, base sexuality is exploted, but there’s absolutely no tension interest in the characters at any point. It’s not badly executed, but it is boring, bland, ambiguous and vacuous. It’ll hold your attention up to the end, but as the credits roll you’ll wonder why you bothered.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Frequent bloody murders.
Sex/Nudity: Some foreplay.
Swearing: Some.
Summary: Some good ideas, ruined in the execution. Some bloody kills and sex scenes may titillate, but ultimately this is unsatisfying. 4/10

Absence of Light
Starring: Richard Conant, David Hess, Tom Savini
Director: Patrick Desmond

Available from Monday 7th February - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

A respected researcher is on the verge of engineering the perfect soldier--a synthetic humanoid with superhuman strength--but there are forces at work that would use his scientific breakthrough for the powers of darkness. Should agents Puritan and Sultan fail to restore the balance between good and evil, a new era of darkness will soon be ushered in.

I have had to watch some terrible, terrible movies in the name of this site, and you know what? Absence of Light is the worst. Without doubt.

The highlights are the cameos from Tom Savini, Michael Berryman and Tony Todd, but it’s pretty obvious that all of these guys are aware that what they’re filming is total tripe. The fact that all of their shots are either in car-parks, hotels or offices only adds weight to my theory that they were recruited to do their scenes whilst on their coffee breaks at a horror convention.

The rest of the movie consists on useless, mulleted “actors” wandering around pointless locations, doing nothing on interest, and stupidly long sections of exposition that are explained by...get ready for this...PowerPoint. Yep, there are sections of PowerPoint presentations in the actual movie that desperately try and explain what the wank the movie is waffling on about. And they fail.

Don’t buy. Don’t rent. Don’t even point. Let us forget this ever happened.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some shoving, shooting and supposed “torture”.
Sex/Nudity: I get bored by the forty minute mark and go for a wank instead.
Swearing: Some. Often used incorrectly.
Summary: This is the worst film I have even, and considering some of the bullcrap I’ve had to watch over the years, that is not something that I say lightly. The fact that a major publisher has picked this up, and is trying to release it at all (let alone that they're charging premium price for it) is nothing short of insulting. 1/10

Shock Labyrinth 3D
Starring: Ai Maeda, Suzuki Matsuo, Yûya Yagira
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Chelsea Films

Available Now - £14.99 (DVD & Two Pairs of 3D Glasses)
Review by Brad Harmer

Shock Labyrinth 3D follows a group of teenagers dealing with the disappearance of one of them, Yuki, at an amusement park s ghost house. On a rainy day ten years later, Yuki inexplicably returns. However, no sooner is she united with her former friends than she collapses, and the group rushes Yuki to a nearby hospital. But after checking in, they discover that things are not quite as they seem at the medical centre. As the night wears on, the group sinks deeper and deeper into the events from a decade ago that led to Yuki s disappearance.

The plot and gimmick of Shock Labyrinth 3D is as confusing, half-baked and weird as these things ever are. Unfortunately, even with the addition of 3D...this just isn’t scary. It doesn’t make you jump, make you nervous or make you anything; at best it could be described as ‘eerie’, but that’s not what I want from a J-Horror movie. I want to feel as crapped up as Ring or The Grudge made me feel. You can’t phone this stuff in.

The 3D has some ghosting problems, but I came out of the end of it headache-free, which is a score for any red-blue/green based 3D movie. The 3D doesn’t really add anything, either.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some J-Horror type murderising and percussive violence.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: An average J-Horror movie with average 3D effects. Fans of the genre might find it worth a rental, but everyone else can take a pass. 5/10


This manual provides a review of the tactical combat advantages enjoyed by zombies and gives the reader a step-by-step guide to adopting them for him or herself. Have you wondered where the great military leaders of modern history have found their collective inspirations? Well look no further. It is the walking dead upon whom the most important tactical infantry innovations of the last three hundred years have been based.

Do you dream of becoming a soldier who fights with the efficacy and skill of a zombie? Are you a general or commander seeking to imbue your troops with the ruthless, soulless killing-efficiency of an animated corpse? Are you a voodoo priest or wizard desiring to raise an actual army of zombies to help you conquer the land and install yourself as ruler? Then, friend, this is the book for you.

With The Art of Zombie Warfare, you will learn how to fight without weapons, communicate wordlessly, and enjoy the multifarious battlefield-strategy benefits that come with always just walking straight at the enemy.

Thanks to our friends at Constable and Robinson, we've got three copies of Scott Kenemore's The Art of Zombie Warfare to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Saturday 12th February, making sure to put "Zombie Warfare" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy each!

Don't forget to put "Zombie Warfare" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Art of Zombie Warfare is available now, priced £7.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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