Tuesday 18 May 2010


Slacker on DVD's is a round-up of this weeks most notable releases on DVD and Blu-Ray, along with some of the less notable ones too.
More after the jump...

Set up on a blind date by her parents, lonely crossword puzzle creator Mary (Sandra Bullock) soon falls for TV cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper). When Steve gets an assignment that takes him across country she decides to follow him, meeting many colourful characters along the way. 2010 is the year that Sandra Bullock won both an Oscar and a Razzie award, both accolades she accepted gracefully. Knowing that it was All About Steve that won her a Razzie award, i wasn't looking forward to it one bit, and it didn't disappoint. Where Sandra aims for endearingly kooky she seems mentally unstable, essentially stalking a man who has made it pretty clear he's not interested. She's like Phoebe from Friends, but from the last few years when everyone realised how annoying she was. You can almost excuse Bradley Cooper for appearing in this film, it must have seemed like a safe bet to be the love interest for America's sweetheart. Appearing in the Proposal with Sandra Bullock did Ryan Reynolds no harm. But her character is too grating, following poor Steve across half of America and finding friends in people who are almost as deluded as she is. It's all too saccharin sweet for me, i would have much preferred to have seen what the Farrelly Bros. could have done with a script like this. They say that Eddie Murphy didn't win the Oscar for Dreamgirls because of the crapfest that was Norbit. After seeing this film little Sandy had a lucky escape.

A warriors tale split into chapters beginning with wrath and ending with sacrifice, a vicious slave known only as One-Eye earns his freedom then sets forth to conquer a new holy land. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Mads Mikkelsen, i knew this film was going to be brutal. Whereas Refn's Bronson was the tale of a charismatic and unhinged lunatic, here we have a protagonist who doesn't utter a single word throughout the film and is methodical in his violence. Mads Mikkelson makes a simple character totally gripping. At times he's like an obedient dog who's lost his bark, at others he's a killing machine with no remorse. This film is definitely not for everyone, but if you want to see a man cut open another man's gut and toss his innards onto the ground, this will probably appeal. With the exception of a slightly toned down sea voyage and a psychotropic ending, the brutality is unremitting. At times it can be slightly confusing as to what is real and what is trippy imagery, but it always looks interesting. The earth looks black, the sea looks black and the men are completely dwarfed by the surrounding Scottish landscapes. If you've seen Bronson or any of Refn's other works you'll find things to enjoy here, but boy is it bleak.

A group of waiters must earn $20,000 from their diners in one night for their boss, retired heavyweight champ Cleon the Slammin' Salmon. If they don't achieve the target they face being fired or worse, knocked out. Come on, look at the cover. I was totally prepared to hate this, but i have to be honest, i didn't. Sure, it's not original (if you've seen Waiting, you've seen this), but the guys from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe are likeable enough to earn it extra points. Relying on the old Clerks adage that 'just because they serve you, it doesn't mean they like you', anyone who's had to work at a crappy job where you have to interface with the public will sympathise with its characters. It's definitely a paint by numbers script at times but the fact that it largely avoids gross-out humour put it up in my estimation. For an easy night-in rental, there's a lot worse out there.

Whilst on a job to retrieve a briefcase, Malone (Tom Jane) encounters a Femme Fatale that may be the love of his life or may just be the death of him. Why can't films just be noir anymore? Why do they all have to be Frank Miller-noir like Sin City or The Spirit? This Russell Mulcahy directed gumshoe drama takes a heavy helping of style from Frank Miller's universe. There's so much black, white and red it's like Jack White's wet dream. They've also nicked a bunch of characters too, with the grotesque pyromaniac Matchstick standing in for the Yellow Bastard, and Malone himself being an amalgam of Clive Owen's Dwight and Bruce Willis's Hartigan. Russell Mulcahy seems to be hitting a rough patch in his career, and it's a shame. His 1994 film of The Shadow was a decent stab at a comic book hero with a noir setting, but this film is definitely a step backwards.

Raizo, a skilled and deadly warrior is forced to help a Europol agent who is trying to uncover corruption within the world of the Ninja. We flash back to his time as a student, and learn of a time when he was forced to choose between the girl he loved and the life that was his destiny. He's a ninja who's an assassin; he's a ninja assassin. There's a ton of movies out there based on computer games and they're usually of poor quality. So why a film with no ties to a game franchise would aim to look and act like a 'computer game movie' is beyond me. The world of the ninja has always been portrayed on film as high flying acrobatics and impressive sword and martial arts skills, but this film decides that's not enough and throws in super speed and enough CGI blood to fill a CGI Grand Canyon. The action is quick, but it's painted over by the stupid embellishments. There's so much blood being sprayed around that you quickly become desensitised to it. In terms of story, when the film flashes back to Raizo's training it tries to add deep meaning to his life, questioning why would he choose the life of a ninja after all the sacrifices he's had to make. In actuality, this film is about as deep as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, except they're a bit more believable.

The world as we know it has come to an end. A unnamed father and son travel the country, desperately fighting to survive. They encounter other travellers, but the father is paranoid about who they can trust, making the survival of his son his top priority. Directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition), this is just about the bleakest world view ever put on film. An unknown event has wiped out most of society and along with it, humanity. The fear of death lingers over them so much that they can't afford to enjoy living, the father keeping track of his bullets just in case he has to kill his son to avoid a worse fate. The film's lack of explanations will annoy people, but for a commitment to a vision it's quite impressive. There's glimpses of forgotten Americana when they find potentially the world's last can of Coke at the back of a broken vending machine, but this poor boy has no time to savour it. The only remaining hint of humanity exists in the love this father shows towards his son, and it's this relationship that makes the film very watchable.

A year after a low budget film collapses mid shoot, a documentarian decides to track down all the key figures and find out what went wrong. If you've seen the cover for this film, you'd think it was another Danny Dyer cockney wide-boy gangster thriller, but instead it's a very poor comedy about the pitfalls of the British film industry. Just For The Record is like an elongated episode of a Channel 4 comedy lab show, but not one that would be offered its own series. Who in their right mind would want to make a low budget cockney version of Burn, Hollywood, Burn? It's extremely amateur, as if they only had 79 minutes of videotape and everything filmed is here for us to see. There's no second takes and no 'once more with feeling'. It doesn't even obey basic filmmaking rules, with the 'documentary' frequently switching to another angle or close-up. Danny Dyer as the dodgy producer Derek La Farge (much like most of the named cast, clearly only appearing as a favour for a mate), walks around with a moustache he might as well be twirling, going 'Mwah hah hah!'. The cast are atrocious, and when Victoria Silvstedt isn't the worst actor in your movie you know you're in trouble. As the gangster played by Craig Fairbrass states about the movie in a movie, 'It's absolute fucking shit. There's no story, it makes no sense and it's the same thing all the time'. A crime against humanity.
Just for the record, this is ZERO.

After the execution of the notorious Lord Blackwood, Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr Watson are asked by Scotland Yard to investigate mysterious sightings of Blackwood and what involvement black magic may have on a string of murders across London. The reappearance of Irene Adler, one of Holmes's old flames may or not be a clue. Rather than being in the same world as the classic Basil Rathbone version of Sherlock Holmes, this is the gritty grimy London that only a posh, well educated, affluent gentleman like Guy Ritchie would know. So we are treated to Holmes penchant for slow motion bare knuckle boxing and traipsing around the sewer system whilst not wearing a deerstalker hat. Rather than a methodical sleuth, Downey plays Holmes as a genius madman, always one step ahead of his contemporaries. Mark Strong continues to relish the opportunity to be the baddie, but Rachel McAdams as the love interest is a tad unnecessary. Much like the Iron Man films, Sherlock Holmes is completely built around Robert Downey Jr's charm, except here he is given an associate to bounce off in the shape of Jude Law's Dr Watson. They enjoy a lot of pally banter, and it's fun to watch Holmes continually get one up on the narcissistically downtrodden Watson. It could have failed so badly, but luckily this studio experiment is a solidly entertaining 2 hours of quick wit and puzzling intrigue.

DVD of the week? Sherlock Holmes.

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