DVD Review

DVD Review

DVD Review

First published in DVD Reviews

A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith


New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray

Friends With Kids (Cert 15, 102 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)

Starring: Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Chris O'Dowd, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Megan Fox, Edward Burns.

Manhattan advertising executive Jason (Adam Scott) has known best friend Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) since college, but there has never been a romantic spark between them. Living a few floors apart in the same building, they postulate that having children wrecks a marriage, so the secret to a successful relationship must be to raise a brood first and then find a soul mate. "Why don't we do it? Have a kid, get it over with?" jokes Jason. "Bop one out, lose the weight, then look for your guy!" The couple's married friends, Alex (Chris O'Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph), and Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig), predict disaster, but it's their own relationships which unexpectedly come apart at the seams. Friends With Kids is a smart, witty and potty-mouthed confection that uses an intriguing premise as a hook for a familiar tale of soulmates who are blinkered to the deep love that binds them. Scott and Westfeldt are a snug fit, and convince us they have been the see to each other's saw for years. O'Dowd, Rudolph, Hamm and Wiig are gifted sufficient screen time to make an impact, striking a balance between ribald humour and uncomfortable, raw emotion. After a steady build-up, the final act is somewhat rushed - The Supremes fibbed, apparently you can hurry love. Writer-director Westfeldt is generous with her one-liners, sharing the choice dialogue among her terrific ensemble cast. She doesn't deviate from a tried and tested rom-com formula but does have fun trying to convince us that she intends to break hearts, not just warm them.

Rating: ***


Margin Call (Cert 15, 102 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, Thriller, also available to buy DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £19.99)

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci.

Junior risk analysts Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) and Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) watch with horror as human resources pull aside their boss Eric (Stanley Tucci) as part of a massive redundancy plan. That night, Peter completes an assessment of financial data and makes a horrifying discovery: the company's formula for long-term growth is fatally flawed. Having alerted senior colleague Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) and head of sales Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), Peter and Seth watch in awe as head of securities Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), ballsy head of risk assessment Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore) and CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons) rush to the office in the dead of night contain the damage. Margin Call is a taut thriller, which unfolds over 36 nail-biting hours, exploring the questionable morality of a fictitious group of men and women at the centre of the current global financial crisis. Spacey reflects humanity in the eye of a storm as a department head desperately trying to protect the people under him from the full force of the blast. If Gordon Gecko, the oily anti-hero of Oliver Stone's Wall Street, was right and greed is good, then the characters in writer-director JC Chandor's film are very good indeed. Irons chews scenery with gusto, telling one of his lieutenants with an icy glare: "It's just money, it's made up: pieces of paper with pictures on them so we don't have to kill each other just to get something to eat." That's easy for him to say, he has plenty.

Rating: ****


Also released

Cosmopolis (Cert 15, 104 mins, Entertainment One, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99 - see below)

Excision (Cert 18, 81 mins, Bounty Films, Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £14.99 - see below)

Lola Versus (Cert 15, 83 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99 - see below)


New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray

Mrs Brown's Boys: Good Mourning Mrs Brown - Live Tour (Cert 15, 90 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £21.99/Blu-ray £26.99, Comedy/Romance)

Brendan O'Carroll plays his outrageous alter-ego Agnes Brown in a live stage version of the hit BBC sitcom. Featuring potty-mouthed material that was too rude for terrestrial TV broadcast, Grandad (Dermot O'Neill) is concerned what the rest of the clan will say about him at his funeral so Agnes decides to stage his final farewell before he dies. Meanwhile, son Dermot (Paddy Houlihan) plans a hare-brained robbery with best mate Buster (Danny O'Caroll) and flamboyant other son Rory (Rory Cowan) instigates a war of words with his boyfriend Dino (Gary Hollywood).


Pixar Short Films Collection 2 (Cert PG, 79 mins, Disney DVD, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £17.99, Animation/Comedy/Drama)

The Oscar-winning animation studio demonstrates its artistry, invention and split-second comic timing in 12 short films, some of which have screened theatrically before Pixar feature films. This compilation comprises Your Friend The Rat, Presto, BURN-E, Partly Cloudy, Dug's Special Mission, George And A.J., Day And Night, Hawaiian Vacation, Air Mater, Small Fry, Time Travel Mater and La Luna.


Cosmopolis (Cert 15, 104 mins, Entertainment One, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Drama/Romance)

Adapted from the book of the same name by Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis received its world premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and paints an emotionally cold portrait of a young man with too much money and hardly any morals. Set almost entirely within the confines of a stretched limousine, the film focuses on twenty-something billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), who has made his fortune by playing the financial markets and stabbing his rivals in the back. He travels across Manhattan in his elongated vehicle, irritated that a presidential motorcade has brought New York's traffic to a standstill and delayed his journey. He wiles away a few minutes by engaging in sex with his employee, Didi Fancher (Juliette Binoche), before meeting his wife Elise (Sarah Gadon), who is well aware of Eric's adulterous escapades. As the afternoon wears on, Eric welcomes financial analyst Vija Kinsky (Samantha Morton) and computer programmer Shiner (Jay Baruchel) into his car, drawing on their expertise to protect his vast portfolio when the financial markets crash.


Monroe - Series 2 (Cert 15, 276 mins, ITV Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Drama)

Neurosurgeon Gabriel Monroe (James Nesbitt) begins dating again but the road to romance is littered with obstacles in the acclaimed ITV medical drama. These six episodes continue 18 months after turbulent events of the first series at St Matthew's Hospital. Daniel Springer (Luke Allen-Gale) and Kitty Wilson (Michelle Asante) compete for a vacant registrar's position, cardiothoracic surgeon Jenny Bremner (Sarah Parish) and anaesthetist Lawrence Shepherd (Tom Riley) suffer relationship woes in silence and Monroe struggles to adjust to living alone after his divorce.


Excision (Cert 18, 81 mins, Bounty Films, DVD/Blu-ray £14.99, Horror/Thriller)

Richard Bates Jr writes and directs this deranged horror about a high school student harbouring terrifying blood-related fantasies. Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) is alienated from her parents Phyllis (Traci Lords) and Bob (Roger Bart) and she is a sitting duck for her principal (Ray Wise) and teachers (Malcolm McDowell, Matthew Gray Gubler). The one person who Pauline connects with is her younger sister, Grace (Ariel Winter), who has cystic fibrosis and is in need of a lung transplant. While Pauline nurtures dreams of a career in medicine so she can ease Grace's suffering, she also hankers for handsome jock Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), who just happens to be the boyfriend of one of the most popular girls in school (Molly McCook). Rage and hormones explode with horrific consequences.


Him & Her - Series 2 (Cert 15, 195 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99/Series 1 & 2 DVD Box Set £24.99, Comedy/Romance)

Russell Tovey and Sarah Solemani reprise their roles as twenty-somethings Steve and Becky, who are content to live off benefits and while away endless hours playing video games or watching DVD box sets. This series, the couple's relationship deepens as they move in together. Meanwhile, Dan (Joe Wilkinson), the lovely guy from upstairs, keeps interrupting Steve and Becky when they least expect it, Steve's ex-girlfriend Julie (Katie Lyons) makes it clear that she isn't over him and Becky's irritating sister Laura (Kerry Howard) stands on the brink of securing a job. A four-disc box set comprising both series is also available.


Dallas - The Complete First Season (Cert 12, 410 mins, Warner Home Video, DVD £29.99, Drama/Romance)

The classic US soap opera, which originally ran from 1978 to 1991, continues with this glossy, contemporary update of the internal wranglings of the Ewing oil empire. John Ross Ewing III (Josh Henderson), son of JR (Larry Hagman) and Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), has followed in his father's immense footsteps and is determined to achieve power, fame and fortune through black gold. However, he meets fierce resistance from Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), the adopted son of Bobby (Patrick Duffy), who believes in putting family first and will do anything to protect Southfork Ranch. Adding to the tension, both young men are attracted to Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster), daughter of the family cook, who has brains as well as beauty. The three-disc set includes all 10 episodes.


Lola Versus (Cert 15, 83 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Comedy/Romance)

Twenty-nine year-old Lola (Greta Gerwig) is working tirelessly towards her PhD while enjoying a long-time romance with handsome artist Luke (Joel Kinnaman) in the swanky loft apartment they share in New York. Just three weeks before their wedding, which was to be the happiest day of Lola's life and provide her with the perfect springboard to turn 30, Luke dumps his bride-to-be. She struggles to make sense of this abrupt change of heart and looks to her hip and extremely loving parents (Bill Pullman, Debra Winger) for answers. Without any glimmers of hope in sight and her biological clock ticking louder and faster than ever, Lola turns to her best friends Henry (Hamish Linklater) and Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones), who inspire her to embark on a madcap journey of self-discovery.


Ferrari Ki Sawaari (Cert PG, 134 mins, Eros International, DVD/Blu-ray £12.99, Comedy/Drama)

Rajesh Mapuskar directs this heart-warming Hindi comedy about a father who will do anything to help his young son achieve his goals. Eight-year-old Kayoze (Ritvik Sahore) dreams of stepping out on to the field at Lord's cricket ground and swinging his bat against the opposition. Kayoze's father Rusy (Sharman Joshi) is devoted to his son and selflessly puts his boy ahead of his own ambitions. In the pursuit of Kayoze's wishes, Rusy foolishly 'borrows' a gleaming red Ferrari for one hour without asking the owner's permission. Sitting behind the wheel of the fast car, Rusy accelerates into trouble on a night he will never forget, dodging bullets and angry bouncers as he attempts to play the role of the perfect parent. Boman Irani and Paresh Rawal co-star.


Undefeated (Cert E, 113 mins, Dogwoof Digital, DVD £14.99, Documentary/Sports)

Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin's sports documentary collected a golden statuette at this year's Oscars, demonstrating that audiences have a boundless affection for stories of unexpected triumph against adversity. Manassas High School in North Memphis, Tennessee, boasts an American football team, the Tigers, which have never made a single play-off game in more than 100 years. Pupils are underprivileged and many of the players have parents who have either served time or are still behind bars. Without the funds to attend university, the only escape from Manassas for these young men is a full sports scholarship, but to catch the eye of scouts, the Tigers must break a seemingly endless losing streak. Undefeated follows inspirational coach Bill Courtney and three players over the course of one academic year as they attempt to turn the team around and prove that unity, friendship and courage can overcome financial constraints and exorcise the demons of the past.


Once Upon A Time - The Complete First Season (Cert 12, 902 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £30.99, Fantasy/Drama/Romance)

Fairytales come to life in 22 episodes of the American drama set in the real world and a parallel fantasy realm. Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is a 28-year-old mother living in the New England town of Storybrooke with a gorgeous 10-year-old son, Henry (Jared Gilmore), who is convinced that his mother is the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). At first, Emma dismisses Henry's assertions but she gradually realises that she does indeed have royal blood coursing through her veins and the fate of Storybrooke depends on her breaking a curse cast by the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla).


Threesome - Series 1 (Cert 15, 154 mins, 2entertain, DVD £19.99, Comedy/Romance)

Three friends get closer than they ever expected in seven episodes of the Comedy Central sitcom. Alice (Amy Huberman) and her boyfriend Mitch (Stephen Wight) are on the verge of turning 30. They share a flat with their gay best friend Richie (Emun Elliott) and all three enjoy the nightlife. After one particularly wild and boozy night to celebrate Alice's birthday, the flatmates return home and have an impromptu threesome, which results in Alice falling pregnant by Ritchie. In the cold light of day, the friends face up to their responsibilities and agree they must raise the infant together.


It Always Rains On Sunday (Cert PG, 87 mins, Optimum Releasing, DVD £15.99, Drama/Romance)

A re-release of Robert Hamer's gritty 1947 portrait of life in post-war Britain, adapted from the novel by Arthur La Bern. As London recovers from the bombings, East End housewife Rose Sandigate (Googie Withers) tends to her family while coping with the obvious difficulties of rationing. She doesn't suffer fools gladly and makes sure her husband George (Edward Chapman) and his two daughters from a previous marriage, Vi (Susan Shaw) and Doris (Patricia Plunkett), respect her position. Out of the blue, old flame Tommy Swann (John McCallum), who has escaped from prison, turns up at Rose's door and begs her to help him avoid recapture. Despite her better judgment, the housewife conceals Tommy in the family's air raid shelter and has to keep his presence a secret as events unfold within the bustling household.


The Giants (Cert 15, 81 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99, Drama)

Teenage brothers are left to their own devices by their mother in this coming-of-age story, directed by Belgian film-maker Bouli Lanners. When their parent temporarily abandons them to work abroad, siblings Zak (Zacharie Chasseriaud) and Seth (Martin Nissen) make the best of a bad situation by enjoying their freedom at their late grandfather's summer cottage in the countryside. They bond with another teenager, Danny (Paul Bartel), and while away the days joyriding and taking drugs, staying well out of the way of Zak and Seth's older brother Angel (Karim Leklou), who works as a henchman for drug dealer Beef (Didier Toupy). As the summer unfurls, the youngsters find plenty to keep them amused until they fall victim to Beef and his posse, including the thug's drug-addled moll (Gwen Berrou).


The Castle (Cert 12, 122 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99, Drama)

Released on DVD to coincide with the cinema release of Michael Haneke's critically feted Amour, the Austrian film-maker's 1997 adaptation of Franz Kafka's existential drama stars Ulrich Muhe as land surveyor K, who arrives at a small village with a castle. Despite a clear invitation from officials to visit the fortress, K is prevented from entering the castle, stymied by a series of increasingly bizarre bureaucratic obstacles. As the stand-off continues, K begins to feel alienated from the villagers.


Elliot Loves (Cert 15, 92 mins, TLA Releasing, DVD £15.99, Comedy/Drama/Romance)

Elliot Ayende (Fabio Costaprado) is a 21-year-old Dominican-American looking for love in the hustle and bustle of New York City. He is utterly devoted to his lovers but Elliot cannot hold down a relationship for more than a few weeks before the romance fizzles out and he is single once again. New guy on the block Kiko (Jermaine Montell) appears to be everything that Elliot is looking for. Writer-director Terracino flashes back to Elliot's childhood as a nine-year-old boy, whose efforts to bond with his young mother explain his need for a dependable partner.


56 Up (Cert E, 150 mins, Network, DVD £12.99, Documentary)

Director Michael Apted continues his fascinating social experiment which began in 1964 with a special episode of World In Action chronicling the hopes and dreams of seven-year-olds from a variety of social backgrounds. At seven-year intervals, Apted has returned to catch up with the 14 original participants, charting their fortunes to see if their backgrounds have indeed influenced their future prospects. In this latest chapter, all but one of the original children lay bare their lives and their disappointments.


DVD AND Blu-ray retail top 10

1 (-) London 2012 Olympic Games

2 (6) Shrek's Thrilling Tales

3 (-) Red Tails

4 (2) Prometheus

5 (5) Mrs Brown's Boys - Series Two

6 (3) Dark Shadows

7 (1) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

8 (-) Avengers Assemble

9 (-) Taken

10 (-) Snow White And The Huntsman

Chart supplied by www.hmv.com


DVD rental top 10

1 (1) Avengers Assemble

2 (2) The Cabin In The Woods

3 (-) The Lucky One

4 (3) Snow White And The Huntsman

5 (5) The Dictator

6 (-) What To Expect When You're Expecting

7 (7) The Five-Year Engagement

8 (-) A Fantastic Fear Of Everything

9 (-) Contraband

10 (-) Man On A Ledge

Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk


:: Note to editors: The retail release of The Giants, originally scheduled for October 29, has been postponed to November 12. Copy for this DVD is re-transmitted below

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