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Sunday, 02 August 2015

Shopping - out now on Blu-ray and DVD“Shopping” was Paul W S Anderson's first feature, and whilst it feels more or less rooted in the real world, the film is stylised enough to feel like the director was dipping his toe into science fiction before going all-out in the likes of "Event Horizon", "Resident Evil" and "AVP: Alien vs Predator". The excellent cast includes Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Sean Pertwee, Jonathan Pryce, Sean Bean, Jason Isaacs, Daniel Newman and Eamonn Walker.

Law ("Sherlock Holmes", "A I - Artificial Intelligence") plays Billy, a car thief and ram-raider just released from prison. After hooking back up with girlfriend Jo (Frost - "Bram Stoker's Dracula", "Love, Honour and Obey") they resume their criminal activities, stealing a BMW and meeting up with the old gang. Unfortunately for Billy, during his absence rival thief Tommy (Pertwee) has taken over much of his turf. Now he is back, an escalating, lawless battle breaks out.

Sunday, 02 August 2015

Good Kill - out now on Blu-ray and DVDDrone warfare and drone usage in general is a very hot topic, and in "Good Kill", director Andrew Niccol ("Gattaca", "Lord of War") tries to present an even-handed tale of one pilot's experiences from behind the joystick. Ethan Hawke ("Sinister", "Training Day") stars as Major Thomas Egan, a veteran F-16 pilot now stationed in a claustrophobic tin box in the Nevada desert, remotely launching air-to-ground missiles in response to orders from on-high.

Tommy seems to be handling his new role well and he has the luxury of returning home to his stunning wife (January Jones - Mad Men, "X-Men: First Class") and two young kids after each shift. His boss (Bruce Greenwood - "Star Trek", "I, Robot") is supportive and understands the challenges involved, but then the CIA take over command and the rules of engagement become a whole lot more questionable.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Weird Al Yankovic movie UHF comes to Blu-rayWeird Al Yankovic was, for a time in the 1980s and 1990s, the go-to guy for the parody record. Inheriting the crown once worn so merrily by The Barron Knights in the UK, he would take hit songs and re-word them, making mirth from songs which in the main were originally a little too pompous for their own good. Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” and “Bad” became “Eat it” and “Fat” respectively, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” became “Another One Rides the Bus”, Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” became “Like a Surgeon”, Richard Harris and Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park” became “Jurassic Park”, and so on.

Weird Al did attempt to conquer visual media too, and the finest of these efforts is without doubt the 1989 movie “UHF”. Featuring some song parodies in amongst the story of a local TV station in America taking on Channel 8, the corporate ‘big gun’ broadcaster just down the road from it, those of a certain age will get most of the references, making this very much a lost comedy gem. Thanks to Fabulous Films and Fremantle Media Enterprises you had the chance to win one of three copies of the brand new UK Blu-ray release in our prize competition!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Quatermass with John Mills - out now on Blu-rayProfessor Bernard Quatermass is the creation of legendary British screenwriter Nigel Kneale. The much-cherished character's impressive longevity spans from his first TV outing in 1953's “The Quatermass Xperiment” to 2005's live remake of the same, and extends to other media including the cinema, radio and stage. Network's new release stars John Mills and was originally produced in 1979 but feels much more modern thanks partly to a stunning HD re-master.

This incarnation of Quatermass is more senior and frail, and yet he faces perhaps his most perilous challenge. Society is in the advanced stages of disintegration, with vast swathes of the urban and country landscape abandoned by the authorities and left to warring gangs and roaming cults. Quatermass ventures into this bleak landscape in search of his missing granddaughter, and unwittingly becomes caught up in a mission to save the human race from extinction.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Stalag 17 - out now on Blu-ray“Stalag 17” is a comedy-drama about American airmen held captive in Germany. Directed by Billy Wilder ("Some Like It Hot", "Sunset Boulevard"), the film stars William Holden ("The Bridge on the River Kwai") as an unpopular wheeler-dealer suspected by the other POWs of passing secrets to the Germans. Whilst many are going stir crazy and wilfully disrupt their captors wherever possible, Sgt. Sefton (Holden) leads a life of relative luxury and minimal resistance.

Holden won an Oscar for his performance, but the movie is really an ensemble piece with numerous bold characters on both sides of the prison fence. Robert Strauss ("The Seven Year Itch") is the aptly-named Animal, Sig Ruman ("A Night at the Opera") plays a very jovial German guard, Peter Graves (Jim Phelps in the classic series of Mission: Impossible) is Price, the Americans' 'security', and Don Taylor ("Escape from the Planet of the Apes") is a well-to-do lieutenant responsible for the bombing of a munitions train that the Germans are intently investigating.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

No That's Me Over Here - Out no on DVDIf you are a fan of Ronnie Corbett, of his rambling monologues on The Two Ronnies in particular, then this discovery in the archives will no doubt be for you. Imagine that facet of Ronnie’s character placed in an office and home situation comedy environment, with a rival sparring neighbour who he also shares an office with, and a wife whose patience is tested at every turn. And here you have 13 half-hours made by London Weekend Television in 1970, courtesy of Network Distributing.

Created by Barry Cryer, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, No That's Me Over Here features Ronnie as an office worker at City Life and Fire Insurance Company Ltd. Like so many office situations, we see him creeping up to the boss, being distracted by secretaries, and jostling for position with his rival who’s on the same position on the ladder as him. It’s the standard fare of facing life as a 40-something, with a little Monty Python surrealism thrown in there for good measure.

Sunday, 05 July 2015

Hawk The Slayer - out now on Blu-rayHailed as a cult classic, "Hawk the Slayer" is a sword-and-sorcery tale of brotherly conflict, dark magic and medieval-style battles. Relative newcomer John Terry (Lost, "Full Metal Jacket") stars as Hawk, a wiry young innocent whose father and wife are butchered by his jealous brother Voltan (Jack Palance - "Shane", "City Slickers"). Swearing to avenge their deaths, Hawk builds a small but loyal band of fighters to take on his brother's army.

Heavily influenced by the likes of JRR Tolkien and endeavouring to ride the sci-fi/fantasy wave crested by "Star Wars", this ITC-produced movie may not boast the budget of some of its 1980s' counterparts such as "Krull", "Ladyhawke" and "The Beastmaster", but it has plenty of action, a fantastic villain and a crafty sense of fun that keeps it bubbling along despite the on-screen death and destruction.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Parks and Recreation - finale season 7 out on DVDParks and Recreation's seventh and final season arrives on DVD, and fans have the bittersweet experience of seeing their favourite characters engage in daft and heart-warming antics one last time. Over the course of these 13 episodes we get to see how Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler - "Inside Out") and her old local government co-workers have blossomed, and where their lives will take them in the future.

The season opens in the year 2017 and as usual, not everything is going to plan. Mysteriously, Leslie and Ron (Nick Offerman - "22 Jump Street") are on opposite sides of a bitter battle for a large patch of land in Pawnee, Indiana. Leslie wants to turn it into a new national park, whilst Ron is batting for a large technology company called Gryzzl that wants to build on it. Can Leslie turn things around and save her belovèd home town?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

New Thunderbirds Are Go - Volume 1 out on DVD but not Blu-rayWhenever disaster strikes, International Rescue answers the call from their hidden island base, somewhere in the south Pacific. The five Tracy brothers pilot remarkable, cutting-edge vehicles - from the depths of the oceans to the highest reaches of space, all for one purpose: to help others in need. And that, just like its 50 year-old predecessor, is the premise of Thunderbirds Are Go, the first 13 episodes of which are out now on DVD, this being ITV’s reboot of a formula which SHOULD have everything any audience member could want – action, peril, drama, and loads of explosions.

Except… there aren’t many, if any, explosions. The action is so scattergun and machine-gun it’s difficult to build up any anxiety, creeping dread, or any empathy for the characters in peril. Of course, it’s at this stage that the three-line whip comes into action, deflecting any criticism with the stock phrase: “you are NOT the target audience”. I am beginning to feel like Captain Kirk in “Star Trek V” when he politely asked the deity-in-waiting: “Excuse me… what does God need with a starship?” Well, I regret to say, I’m here today to call the Emperor out. This dude is not wearing any clothes!

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Syndicate - out now on DVDMurder, sabotage and suspicion are rife in this British thriller about a fractious band of uranium prospectors seeking riches in the east African bush. William Sylvester ("2001: A Space Odyssey") stars as a mining expert in an excellent ensemble cast that also features June Ritchie ("A Kind of Loving"), Robert Urquhart ("The Curse of Frankenstein"), German actor Christian Doermer and John Bennett (a classic Doctor Who guest star, having played Li H'sen Chang in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” and General Finch in “The Invasion of the Dinosaurs”).

A two-vehicle convoy travels through an unforgiving and vast African landscape; several days pass before they locate a site where their Geiger counter twitches into life. Having set up camp, the prospectors instruct their Swahili workers to start digging, but it is not long before a series of setbacks and deadly accidents occurs, creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear. Who is undermining their operation and why?

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