A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith, Press Association
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
The Dark Knight Rises (Cert 12, 157 mins, Warner Home Entertainment, Action/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD £22.99/The Dark Knight Trilogy DVD Box Set £32.99/Blu-ray £26.99/Limited Edition Blu-ray Set £69.99/The Dark Knight Trilogy Blu-ray Box Set £44.99)
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson.
It is eight years since Batman falsely assumed responsibility for the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) in order to bring anti-crime legislation into effect. Crippled billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a virtual recluse, holed up in his manor with trusty butler Alfred (Michael Caine). An encounter with wily cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) draws Bruce into the orbit of hulking terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who intends to complete the work of Ra's al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and destroy Gotham. A dastardly plot unfolds but Bruce is physically and mentally unable to stop the carnage. The Dark Knight Rises completes director Christopher Nolan's dark and brooding trilogy based on the DC Comics crime-fighter in suitably grandiose fashion. Breathlessly orchestrated action sequences, including a spectacular opening aboard a C-130 Hercules transport plane, are mightily impressive. However, Nolan has always focused on characters and their twisted psychologies, and he puts all of them and us through the emotional wringer in this final chapter, co-written by his brother Jonathan. Bale brings typical intensity to the role and the tender bond with Caine's lackey continues to tug heartstrings. Hardy oozes menace and Hathaway slinks away from Michelle Pfeiffer's memorable portrayal of Catwoman but still purrs some choice one-liners. The script is a little too cute in places, inadvertently giving away one major plot point, but it certainly doesn't hurt our enjoyment to be two steps ahead of the good guys for a change. A six-disc box set comprising Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and a limited edition two-disc Blu-ray version in batcowl packaging, are also available.
The Bourne Legacy (Cert 12, 129 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Action/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/The Complete 4 Movie Collection DVD Box Set £34.99/Blu-ray £24.99/The Complete 4 Movie Collection Blu-ray Box Set £49.99)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach.
Deep in the icy wilderness of Alaska, black ops agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is on a training mission when the Blackbriar and Treadstone operations are publicly exposed. Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton), who oversees secret operations for the CIA, decides to limit the damage by sanctioning the deaths of Aaron and other members of Operation Outcome. While other men are slain, Aaron survives multiple attempts on his life and he heads back to civilisation, where he joins forces with geneticist Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) to expose dark forces within the CIA, led by director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn). The Bourne Legacy is the first chapter without Matt Damon as the gung-ho hero and this new mission certainly misses his physical and emotional intensity. Renner lacks charisma but gives a solid central performance. There's a palpable lack of screen chemistry with Weisz, which doesn't bode well for the sequel that is clearly set up in the closing frames. Norton is reassuringly confident in a complex role, delivering swathes of dense expository dialogue that reveal the sinewy plot strands linking these betrayals to earlier pictures. Director Tony Gilroy, who wrote the three previous Bourne outings and co-wrote this adventure with his brother Dan, attempts to replicate the sharp editing and breathless action sequences masterminded by Paul Greengrass, including a fast-paced motorcycle chase through the thrumming streets of Manila. However, it feels like we've seen the fisticuffs and pyrotechnics before, and done far better in those previous encounters. A four-disc box set comprising The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Legacy is also available.
New Year's Eve (Cert 12, 113 mins, Warner Home Video, Drama/Romance/Comedy, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Starring: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Hector Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sarah Paulson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Til Schweiger, Hilary Swank, Sofia Vergara.
New Yorkers and out-of-towners face momentous decisions as the countdown begins to a new year. Terminally ill Stan (Robert De Niro) clings on to life under the care of nurse Aimee (Halle Berry), while record company secretary Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) offers cycle courier Paul (Zac Efron) four tickets to the hottest party of the year in exchange for realising her resolutions before midnight. Elsewhere in the city, newly promoted vice president of the Times Square Alliance, Claire (Hilary Swank), faces technical hitches with the ceremonial drop of the illuminated ball. New Year's Eve is sickly tosh. Aside from the plot strand involving Efron and Pfeiffer, Garry Marshall's romantic comedy rings hollow, practising shameless emotional manipulation at every turn. A brief cameo by Matthew Broderick as a suited buffoon called Buellerton - a reference to the iconic 1986 teen comedy which made his name - is more entertaining than wife Sarah Jessica Parker's entire performance, which culminates in a preposterous scene worthy of Sex And The City. The cast is an embarrassment of riches - Oscar nominees and winners, bright young things of stage and screen - all battling valiantly to deliver screenwriter Katherine Fugate's hoary cliches with sincerity. Even the formidable De Niro has to grit his teeth as his bed-ridden cancer patient whimpers, "When I was a photographer in Vietnam, I saw death. But nothing prepared me for this." Nothing, not even the similarly contrived Valentine's Day, also directed by Marshall, will have prepared you for this film's relentless onslaught of schmaltz.
Step Up 4: Miami Heat (Cert 12, 95 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Romance/Drama/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Movie Collection DVD Box Set £29.99/Blu-ray £24.99/3D Blu-ray £26.99)
Starring: Ryan Guzman, Kathryn McCormick, Misha Gabriel, Peter Gallagher, Tommy Dewey, Cleopatra Coleman.
Sean (Ryan Guzman) and best friend Eddy (Misha Gabriel) work at one of Miami's most popular hotels. When they are not serving guests with overpriced drinks, the handsome duo mastermind a troupe of hugely talented dancers and artists, who orchestrate daring flash mobs around the city. Property tycoon Mr Anderson (Peter Gallagher) announces plans to bulldoze the neighbourhood to make way for a multimillion-dollar development so Sean and Eddy plan the ultimate flash mob to galvanise support, aided by Anderson's rebellious daughter, Emily (Kathryn McCormick). The heat is on and the clothes are off in the fourth chapter of the high-energy dance franchise, which propelled Channing Tatum's star into the ascendancy in 2006. While he may be long gone from Step Up 4: Miami Heat, scriptwriters Duane Adler and Amanda Brody work to the same tried-and-tested formula, pairing a body-popping hunk and a gymnastic honey to a soundtrack of Timbaland, Flo Rida and Pitbull. The latest sequel gyrates clear of realism in the opening 10 minutes, which sees The Mob perform atop gridlocked cars as bystanders cheer them on. Dance sequences become increasingly elaborate, including an intervention at an art gallery that would be logistically impossible given the timeframe and on-site security. The 3D version, available exclusively on Blu-ray, impresses when dancers blow sand into the camera or a shower of water cascades invitingly over lithe bodies, but otherwise the format is redundant. A four-disc box set comprising Step Up and the three sequels is also available
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet (Cert E, 83 mins, Dogwoof Digital, Documentary, also available to buy DVD £14.99 - see below)
New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray
The Simpsons - The Fifteenth Season (Cert 12, 484 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £39.99, Animation/Comedy)
Tony Blair, Glenn Close, Simon Cowell, Jennifer Garner, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sir Ian McKellen, JK Rowling and Mr T guest star alongside Springfield's favourite family - Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie - in 22 hilarious episodes of the award-winning animation. The series begins with the eagerly anticipated Halloween episode, Treehouse Of Horror XIV. In subsequent instalments, Lisa is elected Student Body president and takes her lead from Evita Peron, Homer spends his family's Christmas money on himself and Marge heads to rehab to prevent her life becoming a car crash.
Grey's Anatomy - Complete Eighth Season (Cert 15, 1031 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £30.99/Complete Seasons 1-8 Box Set £75.99, Drama/Comedy/Romance)
A potentially fatal accident tests the resolve of doctors at Seattle Grace-Mercy West Hospital in this six-disc box set comprising 24 episodes of the hit medical drama. This series, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) become adoptive parents and hope the child will provide the glue to repair their ailing relationship. Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) question if their marriage is worth saving after all of the arguments and heartbreak, and Mark (Eric Dane) makes a heartfelt confession to Lexie (Chyler Leigh), but his timing couldn't be worse. A 48-disc box set comprising all eight series is also available.
New Girl - The Complete First Season (Cert 15, 495 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £24.99, Comedy/Romance)
Zooey Deschanel has been deservedly nominated for countless awards for her role in this US sitcom. Free-spirited elementary school teacher Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) breaks up with her boyfriend and needs a new place to live so she pores through ads and finds the perfect loft apartment with three single, twentysomething men: wise-cracking law school dropout Nick (Jake Johnson), upwardly mobile Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and former athlete Winston (Lamorne Morris). As the room mates fumble from one disaster to the next, Jess's childhood best friend Cece (Hannah Simone) is on hand to dispense her offbeat words of wisdom. The three-disc box set includes all 24 episodes.
Cougar Town - The Complete Third Season (Cert 15, 308 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Complete Seasons One-Three DVD Box Set £30.99, Comedy/Drama/Romance)
Two-disc box set of 15 episodes of the sexually charged sitcom, which follows divorced fortysomething mother Jules (Courteney Cox) as she totters down the path to true love a second time. Boyfriend Grayson (Josh Hopkins) proposes to Jules and they prepare for their wedding with Laurie (Busy Philipps) and Ellie (Christa Miller) as the maids of honour. An old flame tells Grayson that he fathered her love child, Andy (Ian Gomez) becomes jealous of Ellie's flirtation with a hotel concierge (David Arquette) and with six months to go to the big day, the groom-to-be makes a surprising proposal. A 10-disc box set comprising all three series is also available.
Luck - The Complete First Season (Cert 15, 450 mins, Warner Home Video/HBO, DVD £29.99/Blu-ray £39.99, Drama)
Dustin Hoffman brings star quality to this drama, which was cancelled after just nine episodes following the deaths of three horses involved in the production. Hoffman plays mobster Chester "Ace" Bernstein, who emerges from jail with revenge on his mind. Determined to seek out the traitors who put him behind bars for three hellish years, Chester returns to larcenous old ways, which includes seizing control of the Santa Anita racetrack, where good friend Gus (Dennis Farina) plans to unveil his talented Irish horse, Pint Of Plain. Old rivals plot to bring down Chester then Mother Nature unleashes her fury and puts everyone's struggles into perspective.
Burn Notice - Complete Season Five (Cert 15, 756 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £24.99, Drama/Action)
Blacklisted former government operative Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is framed for murder and has to fight to clear his name in the latest series of the FX Channel's action-packed spy saga. Michael continues to work with his boss Raines (Dylan Baker) and partner Max (Grant Snow) to hunt down traitors in the CIA. Evidence leads back to former handler Vaughn (Robert Wisdom), who is currently in prison. Meanwhile, Michael's ex-girlfriend and former IRA operative Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) must decide where her allegiances lie and if she is willing to pay a hefty price for her principles. The four-disc set includes all 18 episodes.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet (Cert E, 83 mins, Dogwoof Digital, DVD £14.99, Documentary)
At the age of 19, rock star Jason Becker was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. Doctors said that he wouldn't live to see his 25th birthday and that he would never make music again. Twenty-two years later, Jason is still alive. Unable to move or speak, he continues to make music with his eyes, refusing to give up on his dream despite the terrible hand that life has dealt him. Made with the full co-operation of Jason and the Becker family, Jesse Vile's inspirational documentary draws on a vast archive of never-before-seen photos and footage to celebrate Jason's extraordinary life and the enduring strength of the human spirit despite the most incredible odds.
Cinema Komunisto (Cert E, 98 mins, E2 Films, DVD £14.99, Documentary)
Before the disintegration of Yugoslavia into separate states, the country was ruled with an iron fist by President Tito, who was apparently obsessed with the moving image and would often sit up late into the night watching films. Tito dreamt of transforming Yugoslavia into the Hollywood of the East and created a vast film studio in his country, which in turn gave birth to a festival that attracted some of the big screen's most glittering stars, including Kirk Douglas, Alfred Hitchcock, Sophia Loren and Orson Welles. Documentary film-maker Mila Turajlic relives this golden age of Yugoslav creativity by talking to projectionist Leka Konstantinovic and the directors, producers and insiders who witnessed Tito's grand ambition firsthand.
Attenborough: 60 Years In The Wild (Cert E, 175 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Special Interest)
David Attenborough has been a vital part of natural history film-making in the UK for six decades, inviting us to witness the wonders of the animal kingdom close up thanks to the dedication of cameramen and -women around the world. Since Attenborough joined the BBC in 1952, science, the environment and film-making techniques have changed beyond recognition, offering us a very different vision of the planet. In these three special programmes recently broadcast on BBC Two, the beloved presenter looks back over his career and those special encounters with animals and birds in the wild that will remain forever in his memory.
The Secret Policeman's Ball (Cert 15, 136 mins, Eagle Rock Entertainment, DVD £10/Blu-ray £12, Comedy)
Dating back to 1979, The Secret Policeman's Ball raises awareness of the invaluable work of Amnesty International in protecting free speech throughout the world with a special night of performances from the stars of British and American comedy. Filmed live at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, this year's event features Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, Noel Fielding, Micky Flanagan, The Muppets, Paul Rudd, Peter Serafinowicz, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Jason Sudeikis, Catherine Tate, David Walliams, Jack Whitehall, Kristen Wiig and Zarganar, plus music from Coldplay.
Limmy's Show! - Series 2 (Cert 15, 174 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £15.99, Comedy)
Written, performed, directed and animated by Brian Limond, this six-part comedy sketch show brings back colourful characters from last series including adventure game host Falconhoof and former junkie Jacqueline McCafferty, and introduces new faces including television psychic Raymond Day and experimental hedonist Larry Forsyth.
DVD and Blu-ray retail top 10
1 (-) Arthur Christmas
2 (1) Mrs Brown's Boys Live Tour: Good Mourning Mrs Brown
3 (-) Coldplay: Live 2012
4 (-) Kung Fu Panda: Po's Winter Wonderland
5 (-) Dr Seuss' The Lorax
6 (2) Michael McIntyre: Showtime
7 (-) Westlife: The Farewell Tour - Live At Croke Park
8 (7) Mrs Brown's Boys - Series Two
9 (-) RED DWARF X
10 (3) Men In Black 3
11 (-) Nativity
12 (-) Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas
Chart supplied by www.hmv.com
DVD rental top 10
1 (-) Dr Seuss' The Lorax
2 (1) What To Expect When You're Expecting
3 (3) Snow White And The Huntsman
4 (5) The Five-Year Engagement
5 (2) The Dictator
6 (4) Avengers Assemble
7 (6) The Lucky One
8 (7) Contraband
9 (9) Man On A Ledge
10 (8) The Cabin In The Woods
Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk