Wednesday 2 June 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. Sorry it's late. Blame the Bank Holiday.

More after the jump...

In the not too distant future Vampires are now the dominant species on Earth, and humans are reduced to scrambling around looking for food and a way to fight back against oppression. Due to the lack of human blood, the vampire race is starting to decompose and turn into something much more gruesome and deadly known as Subsiders. When blood specialist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is approached by Elvis, the leader of the resistance with claims of a cure for vampirism, he must put his own life at risk to potentially save millions of others. Elvis (Willem Dafoe) accidentally discovers that sunlight not only destroys Vampires but offers a hidden cure, and it's up to Dalton to use that information to find a workable process of re-humanising. Daybreakers is the second feature film from the Spierig brothers, two DIY ethos filmmakers who made 2003's Undead, achieving some very professional visual effects on nothing more than their home PC's. Here their budget has been increased quite a bit, but it's still clear that they are having to stretch it out across the movie. Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe are the two stars adding a bit of Hollywood muscle to this obviously Australian production, playing two men struggling to find good in a hostile world. Hawke is perfectly fine as the conflicted Edward Dalton, but it's Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill who get to have real fun in their roles. This is a very Matrix influenced world (all shiny surfaces and blue tinges), and the Subsiders are an interesting threat towards the vampires, if not somewhat similar in idea to the Reapers from Blade 2. Although the Subsiders never seem as threatening as the Reapers, this film adds enough new elements into the vampire mythos to pique the interest of any genre fan.

Based on the Japanese Manga of the same name, this tells the story of a robot called Astro Boy, banished from the floating Mecca of Metro City to the dirty junkyard below that is the Earth. Is he a real boy or is he just mechanics inside? Frankly the story of this is quite horrific; a grieving father creates a robot boy in the image of his dead son, then decides he doesn't love him anymore and allows him to be thrown on a junkyard where he's likely to be torn apart by the savages that remain on the Earth. Nice. In terms of staying faithful to the original Japanese comic, it's been completely rebuilt for an American audience. It's kind of a Pinocchio meets Wall*e hybrid; Metro City is a dead ringer for the heavily automated and over populated spaceship from Wall*e, and this little robot questions why you'd want to be a real boy when you can have rockets in your boots and guns in your backside. Another Boy's Own adventure that kids should enjoy, but any adults who have to watch will get quickly bored. Even then i would only recommend this for really young kids, as this level of spectacle will probably just appeal to the under 10's.

In post apocalyptic America, Eli (Denzel Washington) travels west in search of the people who could use the book in his possession for the greater good. Eli is tortured and lonely, but he has a higher purpose and he's not going to sacrifice that for anybody. Trouble begins when Eli arrives at a small settlement ruled over by Carnegie (Gary Oldman), whose aim in life is to possess the very book that Eli owns. This is essentially a parable about the power of the written word in the hands of a good preacher, and the rule of others that could be achieved by the wicked man when he wields the same materials. The Book of Eli is comparable to 2010's other post-apocalyptic road movie The Road in terms of style and desolation, except Eli wanders with a purpose and is not afraid to kick some ass when his mission is threatened. He carries a machete that is capable of hacking the limbs off the savages around him, something which he does with super precision. This is very much Denzels' show, but Gary Oldman seems to be enjoying himself as the pantomime villain and Mila Kunis has took her voice down a register to effectively play Solara, the first person Eli comes to trust. This is the Hughes Bros' first feature film since 2001's From Hell, so it's good to see they've not gotten rusty. There are some fantastically constructed shots, with the house under siege sequence in particular showing how to move the camera in and out of the action seamlessly. If their proposed live-action Akira project hopefully happens my expectations have just gone up.

After returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, Ty Hackett (Columbus Short) takes a job working for the local security firm, transporting large amounts of money between banks. All the other guards are older and a bit more world weary, and soon come to Ty with a plan that could sort them all out for life. Why don't they fake a robbery and have the bounty for themselves? They could easily hide the money in an abandoned warehouse and come back for it later. Ty initially goes along with the plan for the sake of his family, but when things start to go wrong and his conscience gets the better of him, he finds himself locked inside one of the trucks with the money; his own personal panic room on wheels with no way out. Although not completely terrible, Armored (or as it should be spelt in the UK, ARMOURED) has quite a few problems, the most obvious being that it's bloated with cast members. Did they really need so many of the drivers to be in on this heist? Whilst some try to break into their own armoured trucks (a giant vault on wheels), the others have to just sit around and look bored. Police officer Milo Ventimiglia shows up and has absolutely nothing to do except get in the way. As your opinion of the drivers switches from honest joe's who just need a break in life to vicious criminals who will kill anyone who gets in their way, it's too sudden and unbelievable a change. Nimrod Antal is a fairly new director who has been trusted with the new Predators movie, but after this i'm a bit more apprehensive about that project's reimagining. Armored is quite formulaic, reminding me of an elongated episode of Prison Break when they were clearly aiming for something more like Fast and the Furious meets Panic Room.

DVD of the week? The Book of Eli.

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