Award season is fast approaching and you can check out some of the winners, nominees and no-shows in the latest slew of high definition releases on Blu Ray.
Stardust: Special Edition
This fantasy-epic was a surprise hit, not only because critics were won over by its charms along with the viewing public. Fairies, magic, fallen stars and Robert De Niro as a flying pirate must surely add up to make fun and entertainment for all the family.
Despite being over 50, Bruce Willis proves that he has still got all of the right moves in this sci-fi thriller. Taking a lead from I, Robot, it finds Willis as a man living in a world where people live their lives through robot surrogates. When it turns out that these surrogates can be used to kill their operators remotely, he is forced to come back into the real world and fight for humanity’s freedom.
Nick Love, who directed The Football Factory and Outlaw, is behind the camera once more for this homage to the hooligan. The period setting and the snappy, clever dialogue saves this from becoming too boorish, despite its glorification of mod violence.
Although Waterworld bombed at the box office and signalled Kevin Costner’s fall from grace, it is still an excellent blockbuster movie. So much money was pumped in to make sure that it really felt as if the world had been covered in water after the melting of the polar ice caps that you cannot help but become immersed in the setting and the admittedly silly storyline.
This is not the original movie, but rather rock star/director Rob Zombie’s second stab at a remake. This time Zombie has been given even more creative power, for better or worse, which means buckets of blood, profanities aplenty and a little bit of nudity thrown in for good measure. Some will love it, whilst others will probably want to leave it alone.
The Invention of Lying
Ricky Gervais is in total control of this film as star, director and writer. What could have been nothing more than a romantic comedy (see Gervais’ Ghost Town) is in fact a deeper examination of faith, humanity and most importantly fame. Although not entirely successful, The Invention of Lying is a braver film than most other Hollywood releases.
Back in the 90s it appeared that disaster movies about asteroids headed for earth were ten a penny. These days we find the genre with its finger pointed firmly at climate change and as such Deep Impact stands out. The special effects are still good despite its age and the high definition update has breathed new life into every aspect of the film.
This is a respected thriller starring George Clooney as a powerful man whose world is falling apart. An involving look at corporate America and the legal system that keeps it ticking over.
Disney’s partnership with Pixar has produced some excellent kids films and Up is perhaps a new high point. It is remarkable in many ways for not shying away from more difficult and adult themes including death and old age, but for the most part it is a beautifully animated adventure that looses little by being reduced to the two dimensions on the home cinema screen.
Ong Bak 2
The original Ong Bak brought star Tony Jaa to the attention of western audiences and also proved that fight choreography could evolve with the times. The sequel is slightly more preposterous and actually unrelated to the plot of the original. However, it is fun and full of high flying martial arts action and over the top set pieces.
This is a fairly mature teen comedy that shies away from the low brow laughs of American Pie in favour of a subtler humour and a deeper plot that looks at the formative moments in a teenager’s life. Moments of poignancy are augmented by frequent laugh out loud moments, making this a very worthwhile film for people of all ages.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Terry Gilliam took Hunter S. Thompson’s chaotic classic from the page and turned it into a macabre and hilarious movie, with Johnny Depp fully committed to playing the role of Thompson’s alter ego on a drug fuelled binge into the heart of the American Dream.
Written by the Oscar-winning woman behind Juno, Jennifer’s Body is very different to the light coming of age comedy that came before. It is a satirical horror film that features the current toast of tinsel town Megan Fox taking on the titular role as a shape-shifting man eater in small town America. Both violent and funny, Jennifer’s Body is a great cerebral alternative to the average slasher films that emerge all too frequently from the US.