DVD Rental: Reviews

Gravity

April 7th, 2014

2222f3bfa7044f4dc2bb2bff4049d85dGravity is a multi-award winning sci-fi thriller, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, playing on the fear of being stuck in Space.

After debris hits and damages their Space shuttle, Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) must find a way to get back to earth. Through many nail-biting moments and drama, their attempt to survive looks hopeless.

Since Gravity hit the high street shelves, following a successful term on the big silver screen, there has been a lot of talk about how great this film is and why it was so deserving of numerous awards at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs. We suggest you believe the rumours, because this film takes special effects to a whole new level.

Despite many Space nerds commenting on the scientific inaccuracies of the film, such as Sandra Bullock’s hair not floating in Space, this is overshadowed by the creative love and thought put into this film. In many parts of Gravity, the audience is put into the perspective of Dr Ryan Stone, which highlights the strain and terror she’s under, making it almost unbearable to watch.

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Disney’s Frozen

April 4th, 2014

8ddba2d922954bdfda5ff9b43d0bce49Disney’s Frozen is one of the most highly anticipated DVD releases so far this year, featuring magical powers, two heroines and lots of snow.

After Elsa’s powers to freeze things are revealed to the town folk of Arendelle, her sister Anna heads to the mountains to search for her. On her mission to find Elsa, Anna meets handsome Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and Olaf the snowman. In a bid to save Arendelle from an eternal winter, Elsa must be convinced to come back and break the spell.

On first impressions, it’s forgivable if you think there’s going to be a princess, a handsome prince, and a happily ever after, because this is Disney after all. However, you’ll be shocked to find that the female characters in Frozen are pretty kick-ass in comparison to many other generic Disney leads. Since Tangled was released, it seems the animators have decided to stick to modern times and give the girls a fighting chance at saving themselves.

There is a lot more singing in Frozen than the average Disney film, however the soundtrack is one of the catchiest around, with the song ‘Let It Go’ bringing many shy singers out of their shell and onto YouTube. As a result of the craze, the song won Best Original Song at the 2014 Oscars. If you’re not a fan of the hype, then ignore what we just said and go watch the film, because the music is highly commendable.

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The Great Gatsby

November 13th, 2013

2013-04-The-Great-Gatsby-Poster-7The Great Gastby offers a taste of the vibrant and lively 1920s, during the height of opportunities in the United States, shortly after WWI.

Amongst the glitter and glamour of the roaring 1920s, Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), opens his home to New York revellers but has a hidden desire to win back his lover Daisy (Carey Mulligan). To keep their romance hidden from her husband, aspiring writer, Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire), gets involved in the turmoil that unfolds, within a higher class of society than his own.

Throughout the movie, the soundtrack provides a modern element to the film, mixing retro tunes to recognisable mainstream chart toppers. If anything, the soundtrack entices the younger generation to appreciate the film, which some may discard as ‘old-fashioned’.

It must be noted that Leonardo DiCaprio’s role is admirable, perfectly portraying a wealthy gentleman, whose millionaire status means little when it comes to his love for Daisy. It could be that the well-known actor could finally receive the long awaited Oscar for his role.

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Our Idiot Brother

October 8th, 2013

ouridiotbrotherOur Idiot Brother is one of the latest comedies to be released onto DVD, offering a wide range of slapstick humour, starring Paul Rudd.

Ned is jailed after supplying a police officer with cannabis. After a whirlwind of drama, including being dumped by his girlfriend, denied custody of his dog and nowhere to go, Ned spends his time moving between his sisters’ homes.

Needless to say, Paul Rudd pulls off his character well, with little time between one laughable moment to the next. What should be noted is the comical all-star cast, featuring Zooey Deschanel and Steve Coogan, who have both proved their comedic value in the past, making this film fairly promising.

As trouble follows Ned around, causing turmoil between his three sisters and their all American dream families, it’s difficult not to laugh at how dysfunctional this indie character really is.

Despite his failings and hilarious misfortunes, Ned begins to become an aid for his sisters, helping them realise their problems in their own lives, which seems to dampen the comedic vibe from time to time.

However, with the help of the other comical characters, the pace is soon picked up again, making this film energetic and full of satirical jibes.

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The Host

September 12th, 2013

The-Host-Movie-PosterFollowing the success of The Twilight Saga being adapted for the big screen, Stephanie Meyer’s The Host is the next of the author’s books to be released onto DVD.

The science fiction romance begins by establishing that aliens have taken over Earth, using human bodies as a host to colonise, to avoid extinction. Melanie Stryder is one of the few humans left but then comes across Jared Howe, where a romance soon develops. While hunting for provisions, Melanie is captured and is taken over by an alien species.

Throughout the film, Melanie fights her internal intruder while battling to convince Jared that she is still partly alive.

To watch a film like The Host, imagination and a slightly open mind is encouraged due to its strange plot twists and obscure outlook on what the world could become in the future.

Saoirse Ronan, who plays the lead of Melanie, must be noted for her commitment to the role, developing different relationships with each character, including the alien who quickly becomes her conscience throughout the film.

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Sinister

February 25th, 2013

Any film that opens with silent, grainy Super 8 footage of a family being slowly hanged by an unseen force utilising the ample leverage supplied by a massive tree branch, is obviously not exactly reaching for the rom-com crowd.

Sinister sees true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and their children Ashley and Trevor move into the house of a murdered family, whilst he investigates the circumstances of their brutal demise, hoping to craft a bestseller.

Once he finds a box in the attic containing a projector and several reels of harrowing Super 8 footage, things take a turn for the tense and grisly. He becomes obsessed with the creepy films and increasingly ignorant to his family’s concerns, and when a certain Mr. Boogie starts making his unnerving presence known, the film sprints towards a terrifying climax.

It’s completely possible that the filmmakers of Sinister were trying to brainstorm a title, then reviewed their terrifying ‘family hanging’ home movie created for the first two minutes, and came up with just about the single-most apt word available in the English language.

Sinister is exactly that; an evil, malevolent encapsulation of horror and fear. However, don’t be concerned that this falls into the ‘torture porn’ category ruled and regulated by the Saw movies. There is in fact very little in the way of gore, and far more of an intense psychological edge, with some truly frightening images given an original spin through that grainy footage. Read the rest of this entry »

Chernobyl Diaries

November 28th, 2012

In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine offered a savage reminder of the destructive force and volatile nature of nuclear energy. An explosion at the power plant contaminated a huge area with high lethal, devastating levels of radioactivity, which stand to last for thousands of years. So, in all fairness, going there is probably not wise. It certainly isn’t something which most would count as a fun day out.

Workers in the area are limited in the amount of time the can stay because of the radiation levels, and there is a 19-mile exclusion zone with almost no inhabitants.

Chernobyl Diaries tells the somewhat unlikely story of several holidaymakers who actually want to take a day trip inside the exclusion zone to Prypiat, a deserted town not far from the disaster site.

Chris and his girlfriend Natalie, along with their friend Amanda, are moving through Europe as so many horror movie protagonists choose to do, and they meet up with Chris’ fun-loving care-free and plentifully irritating brother Paul, who lives in Kiev. This genius is the one who suggests an ‘extreme tour’ with local guide and generally large man, Yuri. They take little convincing, and set off with another couple joining them In Yuri’s rickety van which, incidentally, inspires about as much confidence as the sight of a mushroom cloud on the horizon.

We get plenty of shaky-cam treatment, in an attempt to give the whole thing a documentary-style authentic feel, and once they discover a mutated fish you can pretty much guess where it’s going.

The plot is extremely thin, like a brutally starved wafer, so let’s just say they find themselves stuck there and from that point it all gets a bit nasty.

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iLL Manors

October 19th, 2012

Clearly not content with writing, performing and producing hugely successful multimillion-selling records, and adding acting to his CV when he’s not busy, Ben Drew, or Plan B, has chucked in filmmaking for good measure.

As a huge Tarantino fan (who isn’t?), Drew was always going to give linear, fluid storytelling a miss in favour of something more staggered and challenging. It’s a tricky feat; if it goes well then you feast with Pulp Fiction at the table of tasty treats, but if it goes badly then you eat from the bin with John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.

Somewhat predictably, Drew has opted to tell an interweaving story based on the streets of London, specifically Forest Gate, where he grew up. iLL Manors examines the mindsets, morality and actions of several different characters, with plenty of grit and intensity, manifesting in both mental and physical form.

This might already sound a little similar to other Brit efforts such as Bullet Boy, Kidulthood and the sequel Adulthood, which featured Drew as a supporting actor, but there are plenty of issues to tackle and stories to tell on the streets and estates of London.
During the course of iLL Manors, we meet Kirby (Keith Coggins), a middle-aged drug dealer fresh from a prison term, and his former protégé Chris (Lee Allen), who now runs things around town, clearly possessing the intimidating physique to do so. The two are no longer allies, which has more than a little to do with Kirby’s treatment of Chris at a younger age.

Meanwhile, Ed (Ed Skrein), a drug dealer with a spiky temperament, and his friend Aaron (Riz Ahmed) are in search of the former’s phone, which seems to have been stolen by prostitute and crack-fanatic Michelle (Anouska Mond). As they hunt her down, it becomes clear that she will have to find another particularly grim and harrowing way to replace the cost of the phone, which she denies ever stealing in the first place.

On top of this we have Katya (Natalie Press), a new mother on the run from Russian mobsters who have been using her in a sickening sex trafficking scheme, whilst early teen Jake (Ryan De La Cruz) finds himself accepted into a violent gang, led by a criminal looking to test his young recruit’s immediate loyalty with a brutal task.

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Avengers Assemble

October 2nd, 2012

Avenger's AssembleBack in 2008, the release of Iron Man garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.  This opened the door for Marvel to move forward with bringing its epic universe to the big screen.

The grand plan of having Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk springboard from their own movies into a single all-out action fest, with scope to continue their own stories afterwards, has come to fruition, with the big green guy’s recasting proving the only real continuity blip.

Downey Jr.’s wise-cracking, arrogant but hugely likeable Tony Stark has made for a great Iron Man, even if the second movie was a little weak. Chris Hemsworth has also proved a genius piece of casting for Thor, blending brash with stoic to give viewers a hugely watchable embodiment of the mythological god, and the film was a fast, fun affair.

Chris Evans as Captain America is certainly better than the film itself, as the second half struggles to deliver on a promising start. Evans does a great job of merging the all-American action hero with a man driven purely by his morals, so he looked a smart choice for the role.  It was just a shame that the film came loose.

Edward Norton was entrusted with the role of Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk was itself a reboot after the dullard, lifeless effort Hulk from Ang Lee, and whilst Norton’s movie was a stark improvement, Marvel obviously felt he didn’t fit going forward, and recast him with Mark Ruffalo. Rumours suggest it was actually about money, but surely, in Hollywood, the land of charity and low wages, this cannot be true.

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The Hunger Games – Killing time

September 6th, 2012

One of the biggest movies of the year has been yet another adaptation, with Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games getting the blockbuster treatment.

In a post-apocalyptic North America, one boy and girl from each of the outer regions of a rich city are drawn to fight each other until only one remains, in a gladiator-style arena bloodbath ruckus. Once drawn from this annual lottery of death, the children and teenagers take part in glitzy ceremonies, presentations and training as a prelude to the ultimate death match, which is watched with glee by the rich city-dwellers.

Bow and arrow enthusiast Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her mother and sister in region 12, and when her sister is drawn to take part in the Hunger Games she volunteers to take her place. She not only has to leave her family, but also her best friend Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth, Thor’s younger brother).

The plus point is that she’s actually pretty good at hunting things with legs.

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