Category: DVD Reviews


DVD Recommendations

  As you can probably tell from the lack of post lately I haven’t been to the cinema a lot, I have been meaning to go and see Kung Fu Panda, Mummy 3 and The Clone Wars but just haven’t been motivated enough.  I have though watched a few fims on DVD that I would recommend highly.

The King Of Kong

   You wouldn’t think that a documentary about people playing and old arcade machine would be very interesting, well you would be wrong. The King of Kong is the story of a battle between two men to get the world record score on the arcade machine of Donkey Kong.  The record holder at the start of the documentray is Billy Mitchell, a man who has become a bit of a legend in the classic game world with records on 5 different machines and he really loves his reputation, with a lot of cronies who adore him.  Suddenly a school teacher frome Washington, Steve Wiebe comes from nowhere and breaks Billy’s record on Kong. Of course Billy isn’t happy and starts to question the validity of his record and so the fun begins. This documentary is amazing, you get so engrossed in the story as you have this normal guy Wiebe who just wants to succeed at something, trying to get his record accepted by the Games record board. But all the time you have Mitchells’ friends trying to discredit him, even while he is trying to break the record in person. The game of Cat and Mouse between Wiebe and Mitchell is fantastic and you can’t look away. If you like games you will love this and even if you don’t it’s still brilliant and definitely worth a rental.         Rating 8/10

In Bruges

This was a film that I wanted to see when it came out earlier this year as it had really good reviews, unfortunately it was only on one local cinema and only for a week, so I missed it. Thankfully the film company have had sense and released it pretty quickly onto DVD.   it is the story of two Hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Glen (Brendan Gleeson) who after a hit goes wrong are sent to the Belgium town of Bruge by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Glen loves their new setting and becomes the real tourist checking out the old buildings and history of the town. Ray though is bored and starts acting like a bored child dragging his feet and moaning.  While they wait for Harry to phone they try and keep themselves occupied and Ray trys it on with a local girl who’s working on a film set.  Soon it all starts to go strange and very funny with blank bullets and Dwarts.  If you’re offened by foul language and strong ones at that, then is most definitely no the film for you, but if you find swearing funny then you will love it. The chemistry between Farrell and Gleeson is perfect and they play off each other brilliantly, and even Raplh Fiennes shows another side to his bow.  At first it might seem like another cokney crime film , but it is so much better than that, it’s up there with Sexy Beast but funnier. I don’t think I’ve seen Farrell better and I shall be getting a copy of this film  soon to watch it again! rating 8/10

 A Few Others in brief:

Vantage Point: A pretty solid thirller where we see the same incident from different peoples perspective. With Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox and Forrest Whitaker. 7/10

The Savages: Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as siblings brought togther to look after their father, whlst trying to live their own lives. 7/10

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly: Amazing French film that tells the sotry of a Vogue editor who suffered a stroke that left him with only eyelid movement in one eye, but who manged to write his autobiography. A  story of a mans strength though adversary. 8/10

The King Of California: kirk Douglas stars as an eccentric father who has just been released from a mental hospital and returns to live with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and drags her along in his search for gold he believes is buried in California. A qurky and funny little film that didn’t get a cineama release in the UK. Rating 7/10

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The Host

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In the past if you talked about East Asian films you would pretty much be talking about Hong Kong films, the likes of The Killer, Boiling Point and Infernal Affairs. In the last couple of years though this has changed, another country has started producing high quality films that are very original and different. This started for me with Old Boy, a striking film of revenge that was unlike anything I had seen before, if you’ve never seen it, you realy need to. This was the second park of a trilogy of films about revenge by director Park Chan Wook, the first part being Sympathy For Mr Vengeance and then the final part Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, which was almost as shocking as Old Boy. As well as this genre, Korean film makers have also branched off in to other types of films, including the film Tae Guk Gi (Brotherhood), which looked at the Korean War. Now they have entered a genre that first started in Japan with the Godzilla films and ended with Jurassic Park, yes the monster movie!

  The Host from director Bong Joon Ho, tells the story of one family’s battle to save their daughter from a monster that has arisen from the Hang River. The film starts with an American scientist ordering his assistant to pour tons of Formaldyhyde into the sewers. Flash forward and something has mutated and grown into a monster newt thing. It makes it’s first appearance and runs amok killing the fleeing people and taking schoolgirl Hyun Seo with it. From then on the family take it upon themselves to find her, but are hindered by a government that want to cover it up, using a virus as a smoke screen. In your typical Hollywood movie we would now have commandos with every weapon under the sun hunting it down, but this is where the Koreans do it differently. Instead we follow the family, making it a small dramatic piece, where you feel for the family, as they frantically try to find her not knowing if she is dead or alive. Also the film has a lot of humour in it, from slapstick to put downs, with a great cast making you believe in them. Like Jaws the film doesn’t rely on showing the monster at every opportunity, but when it does it’s actually quiet impressive, without the huge budgets of Hollywood the monster could have looked terrible, but they have manged to make a creature that is pretty scary, and quiet original.

By doing it differently the Koreans have created a great monster movie, though a creature feature with a soul. If you like a good beast flick then it’s probably worth a rent when the dvd is realised next month, or if you can’t wait you can get the region 3 dvd from www.cd-wow.com for 8.99.  See it before the Americans remake and sanitise it! Rating 7/10

Batman Special Edition DVDs

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I know these came out last year but i just picked them up last week for only £5.99 each at www.play.com and was very impressed!  The original DVD’s were pretty poor, no extras and only the last two with decent sound. These discs all feature remastered picture and sound with the welcome additions of a DTS soundtrack on all four discs. The sound on the original Batman isn’t bad but the Returns, Forever and Robin films all have an impressive soundscape.  Of course they wouldn’t be special editions if they didn’t have some extras and these 2 disc sets do not dissapoint at all. All except Returns have director commentaries, shame that Tim Burton didn’t do the second one as I would have liked to hear his thoughts on the Darker one.  On the second disc of each set are loads of documentaries, each of the films have making ofs from when the film was released. The best though is a series of 1/2 hour features called Shadows Of The Bat, that look back at the making of the films, Batman has three which really go into depth about everything you would want to know, and then each of the other films have one. It’s interesting hearing Joel Schumacher talk about some of the actors he saw for the role of Robin including Ewan Mcgregor and Jude Law! He also tries to justify the mess that was Batman and Robin, blaming a rushed production and toy company pressure. It’s funny hearing Chris O’Donnell saying that filming the fourth film felt like they were making a toy commercial and not a movie. As well as these there are heroes and villians features for each film and a section called Beyond Batman which really go into detail about the technical side of the films and finally music videos.  Overall these are very impressive DVD’s for Batfans and if you haven’t already got the films on DVD these are the ones to get, especially at these prices. Yes I did get Batman & Robin and it’s still pretty bad!

Once In A Lifetime

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In 1994 the World Cup arrived on the shores of the United States, football fans around the world asked why a country with no interest in the sport was given the honour. Obviously some of it was financial, but there was also a desire by FIFA to try and break the Americans fascination with Baseball, Ice Hockey, Basketball and American Football. Football is the worlds game , why don’t the Americans like it as well. In fact during the late 70’s and early 80’s they actually did, this was due to the New York Cosmos, a team with some of the greatest players of all time, including Pele, Beckenbauer and Cruyff.  New documentary ‘Once In A Lifetime’ looks at this incredible team, it’s rise and fall.

   In the mid 70’s a media mogul called Steve Foss, who owned Warner Bros had a dream to bring Soccer to the American People so he used his business influences to create the North American Soccer League. At first there were only a couple of hundred people turning up to watch, but then he had the idea to bring in Pele and suddenly things took off. This is a fascinating documentary that charts the rise of this ‘Super’ team, through interviews with all those involved off the pitch and on it, apart from Pele (more on that in a bit). It uses the music of the time as a great soundtrack with use of 70’s visuals, and some great football action. Narrated by Matt Dillon, it keeps you interested throughout with some great stories from the people involved and shows how ego’s started to destroy what was at the time a phenomenon. I think we could already be looking at the winner of next years Oscar for Best Documentary. Even if you have no interest in football it is still worth a watch, because it is such a great story.   There are a few extras on the disc, a commentary, a couple of Deleted Scenes and a short film called ‘The Real Hunt For Pele. This follows producer Fisher Stevens(‘Indian’ Ben from Short Circuit) in his quest to interview Pele for the Documentary, which fails after his agent keeps putting the phone down on him, and demanding a fee almost as big as the films budget.

 Overall, I had heard this was a good film and the reviewers were right, if you love Football check it out, and even if you don’t give it a watch. It’s funny seeing how ahead of the times this team was. Rating 8/10

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I’m not a huge horror film fan but I recently watched two pretty good examples from the genre. The discs I watched were rental copies so didn’t have all the extras, but I’ll tell you what they did have.

Final Destination 3

  The second sequel in the horror franchise and I didn’t hold out much hope. The first film was a great new twist on the horror film, but the second one was just see how many stupid deaths they could have. This new has more gory deaths but it’s more like the first film. Again an American teenager has a premonition of an accident to come, this time on a rollercoaster, (a pretty shocking accident it is too), so gets off screaming of what she saw, so again a few others get off as well, only to then see their friends die on the ride.  The set ups for the deaths of the other teenagers, as death stalks them, are pretty inventive and leave you guessing. In fact even though we sirt of know who will die it’s still throws upa few surprises and doesn’t hold back on the gore!   Extras wise unfortunately the rental disc doesn’t have the god like mode where you can change the direction of the film and decide to save some of the characters. If anyone has this disc I would love to hear about this feature and whether it’s any good. The only extra I briefly checked out was the Commentary by the director and writer which like the first films commentary gives you a few clues to look out for. (In Final Destination 1 check out the pictures on the wall in the airport departure lounge!). If you enjoyed the first film this is well worth checking out.

Hostel

  I heard a lot about how horrific this film was, so waited till I had finished my lunch before watching it, needn’t have worried. Okay some of it is pretty extreme, (eye scene) it’s no worse than most horror films. Presented by Quentin Tarantino, this is director Eli Roths follow up to Cabin Fever, the kids in a cabin flick. It centres around three guys, two Yanks and an Icelander, backpacking around Europe. Of course we catch up with them in Amsterdam, doing what most blokes do in Amsterdam! While here they are told about a Hostel in Slovakia where they can get as many women as they want, so following their ladibo’s they head off to Bratislava. After checking into the Hostel the rumours turn out to be true with numerous clothesless ladies wating for them. As is always the way everything isn’t all it seems, they are a trap to get tourists for ‘Elite Hunting’ a different kind of executive entertainament.  I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination. This is a pretty gory film and pretty shocking, some may say that it’s too much but it’s not done in an exploitative way but as part of the story.  Like Final Destination it has a few surprises and if you can tolerate a bit of gore it’s worth checking out. The extras on the disc are as good as the film. There’s a pretty substantial and very funny making off ,split into three parts, filmed by the directors brother. There’s also four, yes four commentaries by Director Elis Roth, one with him alone and three with various people joining him. The one I had a brief listen to featured Quentin Tarantino and two other producers and was very funny. In fact I might buy the dvd to have a listen to this in full. As I said if you are a horror fan I can recommend this film. Also I’ve heard there is going to be a sequel.

Firefly

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Back in 1992 a film came out written by man called Joss Whedon, this film was Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I never saw it, though my brother did, the overall opinion was that it was pretty average, so it was a surprise five years later when a TV series of this was launched and became a huge hit, and spawned a spin-off series Angel. Both these series were also created by Joss Whedon. When Buffy and Angel finally finished everyone looked to see what he would come up with next. The result was Firefly a sorf of mashed up Western/Sci- Fi. The first few episodes did reasonably well and grew a following but the network executives weren’t happy and shelved it after only fifthteen episodes, the fans weren’t happy. It seemed that we had seen the last of Captain Reynolds and the crew of the Serenity, or so we thought!  Last Summer I went to see a new Sci-fi film called Serenity, it had great reviews and looked pretty good. I did enjoy it but felt a bit lost, this was the reincarnation of Firefly on the big screen. Recently I spotted the DVD boxset of Firefly very cheap on the net so thought I would check it out, damn what had I missed! A great show with brilliant characters, witty dialogue and fantastic action sequences, It had all the trademarks of a Joss Whedon show and as the episodes went on you really started to feel for the characters. Then it was over, far too soon, you could tell it had been axed as it had no proper send off, it just ends leaving you with many questions! So I have now ordered Serenity to watch again in a whole new light, where I know who all these characters are and where they came from, can’t wait!  Which brings me to the point of this, if you liked the Buffy and Angel and like a bit of Sci-Fi give it a try, the boxset is pretty cheap around £18 in HMV cheaper online and Serenity is a Bargain at £7.99 on Play.com. I just hope that after the success of Serenity on the big screen that we might see the return on the small screen of this show, thats after Joss has finished making the Wonder Woman movie!!