Monday 8 April 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Blu-rays

This week's new releases are dominated by the return of Middle Earth, but there's still a classic Cronenberg film and a documentary about an obscure punk poet to contend with.

Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth was met with a ripple of applause when The Hobbit arrived in cinemas at the tail end of last year, but at least critically it didn't cause as much of a fuss as the Lord of the Rings films did. Personally, I would have been a lot more excited about the entire project had Guillermo Del Toro stayed on as director. Still, fans received it warmly and as this franchise looks set to dominate Christmas for the next two years, you might as well go along for the ride... journey... whatever.

Starring Michael Ironside, David Cronenberg's classic body horror gets a blu-ray release this week, packaged in a shiny steelbook which is an absolute beaut. There will be a full review of the disc (including the wealth of extra features) up later in the week, but suffice to say that Scanners (as well as it's sequels, which also make their blu-ray bow this week) still has the capacity to shock, even for those who are familiar with its most infamous scene.

Quite unexpectedly, appreciation of Channing Tatum is a thing now, and so his ubiquitousness continues to grow unabated; even in the DVD market. To be honest, the film's trailer makes it seem like fairly solid romantic comedy fare; and with Channing Tatum in the midst of a career peak, it's surprising that it has turned up direct to DVD. I do get the feeling that if I went to my own school reunion, my classmates wouldn't be looking quite as good as Rosario Dawson, Kate Mara, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum, but then given the varied ages of all the cast (years of birth range from 1975 to 1985), I don't think they were shooting for realism here.

Screened at last year's Sheffield DocFest after an airing on BBC4, this documentary about the notorious punk poet ended up being one of my favourites of the festival. It may have helped that the "Bard of Salford" himself was in attendance to wow the audience with his musings, but such an entertaining character he is with such a long list of generation spanning admirers, he is perfect documentary fodder. If you're not familiar with the man's work don't let it stop you from seeking this out, as this documentary simply has one of the hilarious, profound, punk-to-its-core subjects you could ever see.

Part The Game, part Bourne Identity and mostly Taken, The Expatriate (or Erased as it is known in the States) sees Aaron Eckhart's security advisor travel abroad with his teenage daughter, only to see his life put in danger when he becomes entangled in a shadowy conspiracy. It looks like a serviceable thriller that ticks a lot of boxes and Aaron Eckhart has the chops to reposition himself as an action hero. Worth giving a go.

Ooh, nice cover. It's a shame that Hell's Mouth is a movie that doesn't exist. No, this is actually a re-packaged version of Parasite, a 2004 horror with a similar but not quite as polished DVD cover.

Personally, I prefer the tagline from the original version. And the big scary teeth.

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