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John Payne

John Payne

Monday, 23 July 2012 09:24

Airborne - out now on DVD

Airborne - out now on DVDWhen all other planes have been grounded because of an oncoming storm, trans-atlantic flight 686 to New York is boarded and ready for takeoff. Only a dozen or so passengers embark, along with a suspect package in a wooden crate. One of the crew is an unfamiliar last-minute replacement, and an obnoxious gangster and his two bodyguards put everyone on edge. Combined, you have all the ingredients for a very bumpy flight!

The impressive cast of this edgy thriller includes Mark Hamill (“Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI”) as a stressed-out air traffic controller on his last day before retirement, Craig Conway (“The Descent”, “Dog Soldiers”) as one of the aforementioned heavies, Billy Murray (The Bill), Julian Glover (Game of Thrones, Doctor Who - “The City of Death”), Andrew Shim (“This Is England”) as a squaddie fresh from the front and Gemma Atkinson (Casualty, Hollyoaks) as a very plucky flight attendant.

Monday, 09 July 2012 00:00

Astronauts finally on DVD

Astronauts finally makes it to DVDA forerunner to Red Dwarf, Astronauts is stellar sitcom written by Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie of The Goodies fame. An all-British team of two men, one woman and a dog is dispatched to a very cramped space station to perform a series of scientific experiments, whilst under constant observation by Mission Control. It is not long before the crew start getting on each others’ nerves and going stir crazy.

The Mission Commander is Malcolm Mattocks (Christopher Godwin – “Scoop”, The Bill), a prim and proper Southerner with a penchant for technical jargon. Technical Officer David Ackroyd (Barrie Rutter – Fat Friends) is a disobedient Northerner who loves to needle Mattocks. Dr Gentian Foster (Carmen du Sautoy – “The Man with the Golden Gun”) is an ultra-posh scientist and medic who seeks refuge in yoga when things get stressful. Bimbo is their shaggy canine companion.

Monday, 25 June 2012 00:00

Centennial comes to DVD


Centennial comes to UK DVDCentennial is a twelve-part, twenty-hour miniseries based on James A Michener’s mammoth book of the same name. It charts the turbulent development of Centennial, a fictional town in dusty Colorado, from the mid 18th Century to the 1970s. The broad history of the American West is covered, including the fortunes of Native Indian tribes, pioneering whites, hunters, cattle ranchers and cowboys, gold diggers, law makers and law breakers.

Amongst roughly a hundred speaking parts, the stunning cast includes Timothy Dalton, Raymond Burr, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, Donald Pleasance, Dennis Weaver, Lynn Redgrave, Robert Vaughn, Sharon Gless, Mark Harmon and narration by David Janssen. The epic $25 million-budgeted series was nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes, and won several other prestigious awards.  Centennial is one of those series that educates and entertains in equal measure, though one gets the sense that the balance between the two shifts back and forth as it plays out.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:45

Blackthorn on Blu-ray & DVD

Blackthorn - out on Blu-ray and DVDThe premise of this Western is that infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy miraculously survived the classic shootout, and retired in Bolivia to a quiet life taming horses. Now going by the name of Blackthorn, the ex-robber (Sam Shepard – “The Right Stuff”, “Black Hawk Down”) is on the return leg of a trip to sell some animals when he encounters a Spanish bandit. They exchange fire and Blackthorn witnesses his retirement fund disappearing into the distance on the back of his spooked horse.

The two men are forced into an uneasy alliance which by necessity slowly but surely develops into a friendship. The Spaniard, Eduardo Apodaca (Eduardo Noriega – “The Devil’s Backbone”) is being relentlessly hunted by a dozen men hired by the company whose mine he stole a lot of money from. Blackthorn is dragged into his new companion’s hazardous affairs and risks exposing his true identity in the process.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:40

Tales from the Darkside: Sn 3

Tales from the Darkside - Season 3 on DVDGeorge A Romero’s Tales from the Darkside returns to DVD for a third, 22-episode season. The four-disc set is packed with cautionary tales of avarice, cold-blooded murder and horrifying creatures waiting in the shadows to prey on the vulnerable and the foolhardy. Guest stars this time around include Babylon 5 actors Michael O’Hare and Jeff Conaway, Roy Dotrice from Beauty and the Beast, and William Hickey, master of creepy characters as seen in “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Prizzi’s Honor”.

As well as producing the anthology show, Romero wrote two of this season’s best episodes. ‘The Circus’ features a skeptical journalist who visits one of the last travelling sideshow theatres. Determined to expose the freakish acts as a sham, he forces the MC’s hand with chilling consequences.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:35

Ruggles of Red Gap Blu-ray

Ruggles of Red Gap in a Blu-ray and DVD set“Ruggles of Red Gap” is an amusing black and white comedy from the 1930s starring Charles Laughton of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” fame. Laughton plays a very prim and proper man servant who discovers one morning that he has been casually given away in a game of poker. Even worse, his new boss is a shameless and very wealthy American, quite a different proposition to the classy British Lord (Roland Young – “Topper”) he previously served.

His new master is Egbert Floud (the confusingly-named Charles Ruggles – “Bringing Up Baby”), a man who lives under the thumb of his bossy wife Effie (Mary Boland – “Six of a Kind”) in Red Gap, Washington, USA. Red Gap is a Western town full of cowboys and laid back folk who like to party. Needless to say, it takes Ruggles quite some time to adapt to his new masters and their way of life, but adjust he does and along the way makes some major self-discoveries.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:27

Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray

Island of Lost Souls comes to Blu-rayBased on H G Wells’ prescient novel “The Island of Doctor Moreau”, this disturbing movie tells a topical tale of genetic engineering and a mad scientist ruling an island populated by monsters of his own creation. Charles Laughton (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Spartacus”) stars as Dr Moreau, a sadistic genius with a serious god complex and a desire to evolve animals beyond all recognition.

Richard Arlen co-stars as Edward Parker, a man whose ill fortunes flip from being rescued from a shipwreck to being stranded on the freakish island with no feasible means of escape. Other stars include Bela Lugosi (“Dracula”, “White Zombie”) as one of Moreau’s more sentient (and furry) experiments, Kathleen Burke as a seductive lady with a hint of panther, and Arthur Hohl (“The Secret Claw”) as the Doctor’s right-hand man.

Monday, 21 May 2012 16:48

“The Grey" DVD & Blu-ray

The Grey - on Blu-ray & DVDFollowing an horrific plane crash, within the freezing Alaskan wilds, seven oil workers fight for their survival against the harsh elements and a relentless and very territorial pack of wolves. Grizzled and resourceful huntsman Ottway (Liam Neeson) tries to take charge, but desperation, exhaustion and clashing personalities mean that the group is far from unified. Supplies running low, they strike out for civilisation with the hungry wolves in close pursuit.

“The Grey” is by turns haunting, terrifying and moving, and its appeal goes way beyond the standard hunter/prey genre. The characterisation is realistic and most of the characters are more than mere ciphers. As the story develops we gradually learn more about the lives and loves of these tough men who are taken to the limit and beyond by impossibly harsh conditions. Some of them start out as coarse and rowdy drunkards on their way home, but their layers are quickly stripped away to reveal much more sensitive and vulnerable personalities underneath, people that you want to survive.

Monday, 21 May 2012 16:43

Yatterman Blu-ray & DVD

Yatterman movie on Blu-ray & DVD“Yatterman” is a madcap, live-action remake of a late 1970s Japanese anime series. From their secret base under a toy shop, teenagers Gan and Ai spring into action whenever evil comes calling, aided by a huge mechanical dog-vessel called Yatterwoof and a small, ditsy robot called Toybotty. Together they form a super-powered, crime-busting outfit called Yatterman. In this feature-length adventure they are on a mission to locate four pieces of a mystical rock shaped like a skull.

Against them is team Doronbo, an equally strange bunch made up of Catwoman-esque Lady Doronjo, her two sidekicks Boyacky (a rat-like man) and Tonzra (a piggy-man), and their own super-mechanoid fighting machine-cum-vehicle. The dastardly Doronbo gang are searching for the skull rock for their illusive, god-like boss Skullobey. Across the globe, random buildings and objects are disappearing and the magical rock is to blame. In the wrong hands it could spell the end of the world.

Monday, 21 May 2012 16:35

Tour of Duty Season 2

Tour of Duty - Season 2 comes to UK DVDThe second season of Tour of Duty charts the continuing trials and tribulations of Bravo Company in the Vietnam War. It is 1968 and the guys have been relocated to a base near Saigon. Three new regular characters are introduced to keep things fresh: eager journalist Alex Devlin (Kim Delaney – Army Wives, NYPD Blue), psychiatrist Dr Jennifer Seymour (Betsy Brantley – “The Princess Bride”, “Dark Angel”) and hotshot chopper pilot Lieutenant John McKay (Dan Gauthier – “Teen Witch”, Supernatural).

The tone of the series has evolved since year one. The new setting means that the soldiers often venture into Saigon, providing some new scenery alongside the usual the base and jungle locations. The inclusion of the two female characters provides the men with an opportunity to open up and discuss their troubles, and introduces the possibility of romance which helps provide some contrast to the testosterone-drenched conflict. The egotistical Lt McKay also stirs things up with his relatively glamorous role and digs.

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