Monday 28 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.

More after the jump...

A group of sexy young teens (Haylie Duff, Shawn Ashmore) organise a party on a deserted island, not realising that a young girl was murdered there a few years ago. How is this connected to them all? Is everyone innocent or do some have secrets to hide? Starring the less famous siblings of semi-famous people, this thriller sets itself up as Perfect Getaway 2. Much like that film, there's twists and turns that you wouldn't expect along with some that make no bloody sense, and the action and the performances are largely of a mediocre quality. It's an easy watch of you fancy renting it, but it's instantly forgettable.

For those of you not familiar with Uwe Boll and his films, you've probably picked up one of his films in Blockbuster at some point and gone 'Nah, that looks crap'. Well there's not much new here. Again showing some fantastic timing, we have a young loon from a small town who decides to go on a killing spree with some automatic weapons. He's fully suited to protect his body and his identity, and he methodically takes down all those who've wronged him in the smallest of ways. The quote on the cover compares it to Elephant and Falling Down, but Boll is too simplistic a writer and director for that ever to be true. From what I've seen of his films, Boll doesn't deal with subtext; what you see is what you get. There's no satire here, no deep sociological message about the failures of the school systems or gun control. At best it's a worrying wish fulfillment fantasy for sociopaths, at worst it's a call to arms. If this is the kind of crap he's going to keep churning out he deserves to sink to the bottom of the straight to DVD shitpile with Steven Seagal.

After witnessing the brutal murder of a young boy, Solomon Kane (James Purefoy) makes a promise for vengeance that may cost him his soul. A plodding dark ages swordplay fantasy that takes forever to get started, then doesn't deliver. It's completely devoid of humour and takes itself far too seriously, and it steals too blatantly from other films. He dresses like Van Helsing and fights like Conan, and shares at least 2 cast members with Clash of the Titans. The best thing to say about it is that it opts for practical effects and make-up instead of CGI, but that just shows up the digital monstrosity Kane has to fight towards the climax.

Susie Salmon is the sweet neighbourhood girl who unfortunately attracts the attention of the local serial killer. Before she ascends to heaven she remains in a dream like purgatory where she can watch over her family and her murderer. This film had great potential, having a much heralded novel as its source material and Peter Jackson, the Oscar winning director of the Lord of The Rings trilogy at the helm, but unfortunately this film falls far short of expectations. Although Jackson may not have seemed an obvious choice for this smaller scale story, it shares some similar territory with Heavenly Creatures, a fantastic film that mixes the real world with a fantasy land, all with the dark backdrop of murder. I think this project ran away from him. The performances are perfectly fine, even if the murderer is instantly decipherable to all audiences. It's the poor realisation of the fantasy world that Susie lives in that really lets the film down, showing off some atrocious CGI work. Perhaps a more literal interpretation of the book would have worked better. It would never have gained a 12 certificate, but it might have made a better film.

After finding that all of his children have cancelled their planned meet up with him, recently widowed Frank (Robert De Niro) decides to get on a bus, and a train, and whatever form of transport it takes to reconnect with his children (Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell and Drew Barrymore). One by one he visits them whilst they put on a fascade of happiness for him. It was their mother they could talk to frankly; Dad was there to offer encouragement and stern advice.
I thought this film was going to go one of two ways; either a Family Stone 'families do the craziest things' kind of comedy/drama, or an About Schmidt journey of self discovery. Well, it's neither, or at least only a bit of both. It's good to see Robert De Niro back in drama mode instead of the comedies he's been appearing in recently. This is more akin to the kind of projects he should be seeking out, his advancing years opening up more dramatic roles for him. As the family truths start to come out, Frank is forced to defend his parenting skills and remind his children that they still have one parent left. A pleasant family drama.

DVD of the week? Not really a classic week but the best of the bunch is Everybody's Fine.

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