Archive for the ‘DVD Rental’ Category

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Aching Yawn

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

breakingdawnposterIt’s that time of year again, when we are subjected to a movie adaptation of one of the Twilight novels. Whether or not the books are good is irrelevant; the first film was a fine balance of grim and dull, the second was an absolute slog and full-on filmmaking disaster, and the third was a marginal improvement but still awful in a way that leaves searing pain coarsing throughout the central nervous system.

So, Breaking Dawn was unlikely to do much except for the fully committed and blinded-by-devotion fans of the series.

Breaking Dawn – Part I sees the eternally depressed Edward and the eternally depressing Bella get married on an island, sleep together and have a baby. There isn’t much more to squeeze out in terms of a premise; the marriage ceremony seems to drag on longer than a German opera, and then they finally have sex, but not without Edward whinging his pitiful way through the process, emanating about as much eroticism as a dead cat.

Bella gets a couple of bruises from their night of vampire-human playtime, and then Edward insists they play chess for the remainder of their honeymoon. Lucky Bella!

We are saved from this nonsense by her pregnancy, but the weird baby-human-vampire inside her is a bit much for her measly pelvis. Jacob is still really upset about her choice, and stumbles through the film looking miserable and being annoying. Much of the same ground is covered, and there is a meagre threat from some of Jacob’s clan.

The performances are abhorrent, with US daytime soap-style line delivery, and a total absence of charisma. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are all terrible in slightly different ways, and their little triangle has somehow been stretched out over six hours of achingly dull cinema. The minor shining light is a cameo from the awesome Michael Sheen during a mid-end credits sequence. Too little too late, sadly.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

pirates-of-the-carribean-4-poster1Anyone who claims to be able to resist Captain Jack’s inimitable mix of swagger, swordsmanship, salamander and anti-sobriety must be off their Jolly Roger. It is a testament to the character and the actor that Jack ‘Sparrah’ can almost single-handedly pull this franchise through some serious scriptwriting issues and the excruciating presence of Orlando Bloom’s William Turner.

It is hard to believe that Johnny Depp nearly walked because the execs at Disney thought he had gone mad when they saw early footage of his daft pirate. The series would have experienced a short drop and a sudden stop had Sparrow been sacrificed, or played straight by a less creative and more submissive actor.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a refreshing surprise blockbuster, whilst follow-up Dead Man’s Chest had some great moments but got a bit tangled in its own fishing net. The second part of that story, and third entry in the series, At World’s End, also had some nice set-pieces but the story was contrived and needlessly complex thanks to the writers’ attempts to have everybody double-cross each other to the point of storytelling redundancy. All the way through, Jack Sparrow was great, thankfully.

A wise move, then, to give Jack a new stand-alone story without the irksome William Turner or his posh tomboy squeeze Katherine Swann. The general plan of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was to reduce the needless complexity, keep up the laughs and action and give Sparrow plenty of screen time. Too much of a good thing could be bad, but never with Jack… sorry, Captain Jack.

Loosely (very loosely) based on a novel called On Stranger Tides, this film sees Jack in search of the Fountain of Youth, with the Spanish and King George II also keen on the prize that would see skincare products wiped off the face of the Earth. King George II sends his surprise employee Captain Hector Barbossa, once again played by the wonderful Geoffrey Rush, on an expedition to beat the Spanish to the Fountain. In general, everyone wants to get to the Fountain, but there is a little more to this legendary elixir of life than meets the eye-patch.

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Limitless – A pill a day…

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

limitless-poster-7Fresh from playing Face in the high-octane, brilliantly bonkers A-Team Movie, Bradley Cooper continues with the running, jumping and relentless grinning in novel adaptation Limitless. Based on techno-thriller The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, Limitless follows writer Eddie Morra as he discovers a sneaky shortcut to Enlightenment…

Drug peddler and Eddie’s ex-brother-in-law Vernon Grant offers our scruffy protagonist a random sample of NZT, which the obviously trustworthy and reliable gent says will allow any user to open up 100% of their brain’s potential. Eddie, suffering from writer’s block and laziness, drops his magic bean and becomes Super Eddie.

He finishes his book, impresses his agent and generally shifts up several gears in all facets of his life. The grisly demon that is withdrawal leads him back to Vernon who, oddly, asks Eddie to do his dry cleaning before he can have more NZT. Upon Eddie’s return Vernon is dead, and so begins a sort of cat and mouse game where there are lots of cats, some of them Russian, and the mouse has nice hair.

Along the way, Eddie encounters wealthy businessman Carl van Loon, who looks suspiciously like Robert De Niro, and must also contend with the erratic nature of his relationship with Lindy, played by Aussie stunner Abbie Cornish (Somersault, Sucker Punch), as well as the attentions of a mafia thug called Gennady, and a man in a tan coat who can only be described as persistent.

The premise of Limitless relies on a now defunct myth that once claimed we only use 10-20% of our brain power. This fanciful bit of fallacy has been pounded into pulp by scientific overlords such as Barry Gordon and Barry Beyerstein, as well as those blokes on MythBusters. This leaves the story in a bit of a shambles. But then if we want to go down that route then we aren’t allowed explosions in space, and no-one wants that.

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Battle: Los Angeles – Invading Private Ryan

Friday, August 5th, 2011

BLA_IT_1SHT_SLDRLK_3Billed as a cross between Saving Private Ryan and Independence Day, this latest alien invasion epic actually offered up one of the most impressive trailers of the last few years.

A few startling shots of an obliterated Los Angeles, a screaming Marine dragged away by an unseen menace, hordes of meteoric vessels striking Earth with such force that they blast rings through the sky, and of course large clusters of confused sheep-like people running around amidst the raging anarchy; all complimented by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s beautiful, yet haunting and eerily mechanical piece ‘The Sun’s Gone Dim and the Sky’s Turned Black’.

It is, without doubt, an awesome movie teaser, with plenty to get excited about, and a real sense that maybe this could offer something a little different, whilst maintaining the essence of a summer sci-fi blockbuster.

Such a shame that Battle: Los Angeles is actually as bland as a beige Volvo.

That’s not to say it’s a terrible movie; there’s some remarkable visuals, and even a couple of rousing performances, but clichéd doesn’t even begin to describe this film and its by-the-numbers storyline, direction and dialogue.

As Battle: Los Angeles begins, no time is wasted in pointing out that the Earth is currently being pelted by strange objects from space, thought to be meteorites. All the well known cities are casually referenced in a half-hearted attempt to steer clear of ‘Roland Emmerich Syndrome’, which is a devastating virus that renders large scale disaster movies devoid of multicultural awareness (when the world is under attack, only the USA is affected, and only the USA can save us – sigh).

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127 Hours – Between a rock and a hard place

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

127hours-posterIn 2003, American mountain climber Aaron Ralston was hiking Blue John Canyon in Utah when he fell, and a dislodged boulder pinned his right arm to a rock wall.  The feat of human endurance that followed quite seriously deserved the movie treatment, if only to highlight the incredible resilience, determination and willpower that one man can possess.

Aaron Ralston spent an astonishing amount of time stuck in a standing position, unable to free himself, slowly sipping his bottle of water at around 150ml a day, and eventually choosing to consume his own urine in order to prolong his survival.  The majority that have heard of the story of Aaron Ralston and 127 Hours also knew that in order to escape his seemingly inescapable situation, the adventurer fashioned a tournequet, snapped his arm and then cut it off below the elbow using a poor quality multi-tool.  This may sound grisly, but the fact the he managed to survive this ordeal, and then hiked several miles afterwards, losing around a quarter of his blood, should actually serve as an inspiration to us all.

In the wrong hands, the big screen version could simply be a cack-handed build-up to the inevitable grotesque scene that everyone is waiting to see.

So it’s a good job the world has Danny Boyle.

It’s impossible to overstate this director’s abilities as a filmmaker; he is different class, and his innovative style and genius craftmanship, both as an original storyteller and a technical maestro, are rightly being held in the highest regard, and his reputation is growing exponentially with each movie he makes; his résumé which lists Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire, to name but a few, is undeniably impressive.

Enough Boyle worship, 127 Hours is quite literally a faultless film; it stays close to the truth of its immense source material, the pacing is perfect, the scope of the scenery emphasises the man’s sapping solitude and the performance of James Franco (Pineapple Express, Spiderman) as Aaron is as good a piece of acting as you will see this year.

Franco’s irrespressibly upbeat performance in the first fifteen minutes truly characterises a man focused on freedom and exploration; a real adventurer so determined to do things by himself that he doesn’t so much as leave a note to say where he is going.  We don’t know Aaron, but Franco makes us believe we do, and it’s hard to think anyone could have done a better job of bringing Aaron Ralston to the screen and making us care so sincerely about his fate.

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Conviction – Guilty Or Not Guilty

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

conviction-imageOver the last few years there have been a lot of films that have been based on real life events, some of which are just brilliant – The Blind side, The Social Network, The Kings Speech, and public enemies are just a few that come to mind.

Stand out, true-life films usually involve a victim of injustice and people fighting to save them from a life that they don’t deserve, usually behind bars.  The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington is a great example of this,  A man arrested and jailed for a murder he didn’t commit.

Conviction gives you all of this and more.

Hillary swank stars as Betty Anne waters, a single mother from Massachusetts who does everything she can to become a lawyer after her brother is charged with murder. The murder charge looks ropey, but 60 years without parole is what Kenny ( Sam Rockwell) is sentenced to after testimonies from an ex (Juliette Lewis, who goes all out in a stunning performance) and the mother of his child convince the jury that Kenny is Guilty.

The next 16 years see Swank’s character put her life on hold, resulting in her divorce, and even her children wanting to move in with their father just so that she can pass all of her exams to help free her brother.

With the help of Arba Rice, a fellow mature student in her class, brilliantly played by Minnie Driver they start to get closer to the truth.  They find out that cases are being thrown out as DNA tests are proving that people were being wrongly convicted. They search high and low for the evidence that convicted Kenny, but according to the police station and court, the evidence was destroyed after 10 years. (more…)

Skyline – Don’t look at the light (actually, just don’t look)

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

skyline_poster_2The dubious Brothers Strause, entirely responsible for the badly lit suck-fest sequel that was Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, had $20m to play with, and chose to splash the cash on an alien invasion flick, spending around 97% of the budget entirely on effects.

This is, of course, a barmy idea. To be fair to these curious gents, they have been behind some eye-popping aesthetics, with their company Hydraulx working on such visual treats as 300, Avatar and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

However, it seems that letting them get hold of the camera may be something to avoid in the future.

Skyline is a pretty formulaic story; some friends in L.A. bear witness to an alien invasion, and hole up in their expensive flat hoping that the unwelcome visitors get bored and fly off. They then decide, for some dull reason relating to water, that a swift escape and journey through the warzone to the nearest coastline would actually be better. This plan causes much death.

You see, these unpleasant invaders emit an attractive blue light, and once it catches your eye then your skin starts to disappear and you get violently sucked into some kind of weird alien sphincter.

Some of these aliens are pretty big and will stand triumphantly on your puny human head, whilst others are small, elegant and partial to the sweet smell of fresh brains.

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Who’s the daddy? We compare online DVD rental…

Friday, April 8th, 2011

dvdlogosThe online DVD rental market is more ferocious than a few feisty minutes in one of David Fincher’s Fight Clubs. There’s a multitude of websites vying for your custom, offering a mouth-watering selection of Blu-rays and DVDs, as well as some truly tempting offers on trials and subscription packages.

We have a look at which online rental service has earned the right to echo the immortal words of Ray Winstone, “I’m the daddy now!”

We have all heard of Lovefilm; this service has stormed to the forefront of online DVD rental, boasting an excellent and diverse catalogue including over 73,000 titles. Customers can also enjoy Lovefilm Player, which is an online and on demand service allowing you to watch the movie of your choice when and where you want. The site has plenty of extras including film news, quizzes, Top 100 lists, trailers and reviews from both critics and Lovefilm members. The packages are pretty good, and a free trial is always hard to resist.

Blockbuster is a household name, and globally recognised brand. This DVD rental service boasts a selection of exclusive titles; these can only be seen first on DVD at Blockbuster, and include huge box-office hits such as Knowing, Taken and Gran Torino. Blockbuster is renowned for quality, which is why it has remained at the top for so long, and this reputation is further enhanced by the growing number of DVD and Blu-rays available to rent. Customers can now rent over 70,000 different titles, and trials start from as little as £1. The website also includes news, special offers and the Blockbuster Blog.

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Jackass 3 – No pain, no gain

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

jackass-3movie-posteredit2If someone told me that, for the amusement of the masses, I had to endure electric shocks to my nether regions, or become trapped in a car full of highly agitated bees, I would firmly decline, although a plentiful cheque and offers of free world travel and beer could probably turn my head…

The baffling thing about the Jackass crew is that they were doing it back in the day, when the cash probably wasn’t that great and they had to film in their houses. In all fairness, they seem to just enjoy creating comedy derived from physical and or/mental anguish, as well as the odd gross-out skit or moment of intense embarrassment.

Before reviewing their third big screen outing, it is important to highlight the fact that Jackass provides a very divisive form of entertainment. Those who do not like Jackass have their reasons, and shouldn’t be told to change their minds, and there are plenty of Jackass haters out there.

However, this reviewer finds the deranged, dumb, daft but deftly planned stunts intensely funny, often to the point that a quick dash to the loo is required in order to avoid a messy mishap.

So, subjective opinion stated, let’s move on to Jackass 3, or Jackass 3D as it was released in the cinemas.

After a four year hiatus, presumably needed for healing, therapy, psychological evaluation, rehab etc, the Jackass crew have assembled another 90 minutes of carefully engineered moments of hilarity, provided for our amusement.

Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius (Party Boy) and the rest of the lunatics go about attempting to cause each other as much pain as possible, whilst seeking out new, innovative ways to have pain bestowed upon them by external sources. There is, as always, no story or character arc, and no real beginning, middle or end. Just utter chaos.

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Lovefilm vs. Blockbuster – The battle for best online DVD rental

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

lovefilm-vs-blockbusterThey are undoubtedly the two heavyweights of online DVD rental; Lovefilm and Blockbuster boast a huge library of over 70,000 titles each, and both have developed a globally recognised brand name and enormous customer base. Does anything separate these two giants of movie rental, or does it simply depend on which website looks a bit nicer?

Blockbuster has been around for a long time, and shoppers trust a tried and tested brand name. A customer using Blockbuster online can enjoy some great prices for pre-owned games and DVDs, whilst the subscription online rental packages are also very competitive. A cheap trial period, pre-paid postage for returns and 1st class delivery are all very appealing aspects of the service, and Blockbuster also offers Blockbuster exclusives.

These are initially only available from Blockbuster, and don’t just include straight-to-DVD suck-fests like Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past. Some genuinely great films debut for rental at Blockbuster, such as Gran Torino, The Wrestler and Taken.

Lovefilm has casually strolled ahead in the online DVD rental market, offering an incredibly diverse range of movies from a multitude of genres. The library is very impressive; you could search for Jaws: The Revenge and find it available for rent (obviously this would be a massive mistake, but it’s good to know). Hellraiser 5 is also available, in case you wondered.

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