Blu-ray

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Anton van Beek  |  Jun 06, 2011  |  0 comments

The Bridge on the River Kwai finds David Lean at his absolute best. Every bit the equal to his latter Lawrence of Arabia, this astonishing World War II epic stars Alec Guinness as Colonel Nicholson, a no-nonsense army man who obsession with rules clouds his loyalties when he and his fellow POWs are put to work building a bridge for the Japanese in the jungles of Burma. On a collision course with him is William Holden’s Shears, an American who escaped from the camp and has been forced to return with a small team to destroy the bridge.

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 06, 2011  |  0 comments

The Mechanic isn’t a film about the trials and tribulations of a wannabe Kwik-Fit fitter. It’s actually a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson movie of the same name, with HCC favourite Jason Statham taking over as the burly bloke who makes his living ‘fixing things’ (by killing people). With its undemanding student-teacher story and its predictable twists, the film doesn’t add anything to the genre that you won’t find in numerous straight-to-DVD flicks. But The Mechanic does offer up some great action and the chance to see Statham kicking ass again – which should keep fans happy for a couple of hours.

Anton van Beek  |  May 23, 2011  |  0 comments

Stanley Kubrick: Visionary Filmmaker Collection is quite a lofty title for a Blu-ray boxset. But then again, it’s one that is wholly justified by the career of this methodical and meticulous filmmaker who only completed 13 feature films in his 46-year career.

Anton van Beek  |  May 23, 2011  |  0 comments

True Blood: The Complete Third Season continues the adventures of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse as she goes hunting for her missing vampire lover Bill following the shocking finale to the last year’s 12-episode run.

Anton van Beek  |  May 16, 2011  |  0 comments

Black Swan might be about ballet, but that doesn’t make it a chick-flick. Mixing together elements from All About Eve, Dostoevsky’s The Double, early Polanski psycho-drama, Cronenbergian body horror and even a splash of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Darren Aronofsky’s latest finds Natalie Portman giving an award-winning turn as a ballerina who must battle with rivals and her own repressive nature when she wins the lead role in a production of Swan Lake. But the further she goes in trying to get in touch with her dark side for the role of the Black Swan, the more her life spirals out of control.

Anton van Beek  |  May 16, 2011  |  0 comments

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the ultimate in ‘guilty pleasure’ TV. Never afraid to push at the boundaries of taste and decency, this 13-episode debut season of the rollicking ‘adults only’ take on the historical story of gladiator-turned-slave-rebellion-leader Spartacus is awash with gore, sex and the most ribald and inventive swearing since Deadwood left our screens. That’s not to say that this Starz production is even half as smart as your average HBO series, but it makes up for its rampant dumbness with 300-style action scenes and plenty of naked romping (featuring everyone from Lucy ‘Xena’ Lawless to, gulp, John Hannah). Tremendous fun for lovers of trash TV.

Anton van Beek  |  May 16, 2011  |  0 comments

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season is a must-see for any fan of the undead. Coming from the same channel that gave us Mad Men and overseen by Frank ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ Darabont, this adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book is probably the best thing to feature the living dead since Romero’s original zombie trilogy. This is truly adult horror; an intelligent and intense show that focuses as much on the everyday horrors the survivors must endure as it does on flesh-eating corpses. Of course, if you are just here for the zombies, then rest that it also packs more gore and thrills into its six episodes than all of the Resident Evil films put together.

Anton van Beek  |  May 02, 2011  |  0 comments

The Twilight Zone: Season 1 does a spectacular job of demonstrating why this 50-year old TV series had such a lasting impression on all who watched it. Hosted by creator Rod Serling, this half-hour sci-fi anthology series lived up to its promise of transporting its adult viewers to ‘a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man… This is the dimension of imagination’, one where anything could happen and usually did. What stands out today (about from how well made the show was) is how marvellously subversive it all was, mixing its thrills and chills with liberal doses of social criticism that somehow bypassed the TV censors of the time.

Anton van Beek  |  Apr 18, 2011  |  0 comments

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader finds the fantasy franchise setting up a new home at 20th Century Fox after Disney dumped it following the disappointing box office performance of Prince Caspian. Sadly, this third film in the saga doesn’t offer a bright new beginning for the series. What should be a rip-snorting adventure concerning Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Shandar Keynes) and annoying cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) helping Caspian (Ben Barnes) rescue the seven Lords of Narnia, proves to be a fairly dull and episodic slice of fantasy hokum dripping with heavy-handed Christian overtones. Yawn.

Anton van Beek  |  Apr 18, 2011  |  0 comments

From The Penetrator to A Clockwork Orgy, Batman XXX to Spankenstein, the adult film industry has a long tradition of parodying mainstream movies. In recent years, adult studios have become more and more ambitious with their porn parodies, thanks in large part to the increased availability and enhanced features offered by today's 'prosumer' visuals effects and editing software packages - the same kind of tools that allowed Gareth Edwards to create his recent critically-acclaimed micro-budget sci-fi drama Monsters.

Anton van Beek  |  Apr 18, 2011  |  0 comments

The Scream Trilogy finds director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson (replaced by Ehren Kruger for the third outing) in full-on self-reflexive, post-modern mode, deconstructing the slasher genre for a new generation of horror fans. Unsurprisingly, it’s the original Scream that still stands up best, being an effective piece of horror cinema as well as a fun commentary on the sub-genre. Scream 2 follows the sequel path of upping the body count, but fails to really offer anything really fresh, while Scream 3 misses the point completely and is a total dud.

Anton van Beek  |  Apr 11, 2011  |  0 comments

Monsters is in many ways a remarkable film. Shot entirely on location for less than £500,000 with a tiny crew, two unknown actors and visual effects knocked up by writer/director/cinematographer/etc. Gareth Edwards on his home computer, Monsters is a testament to just what it’s possible for a filmmaker to do with such limited resources these days. However, Monsters is also notable for the way it was knowingly mis-sold to audiences, with promises of epic sci-fi spectacle rather than the road-movie-cum-immigration-allegory it actually delivered. On its own terms Monsters is a success, but it’s one that audiences expecting more traditional sci-fi thrills may find difficult to engage with.

Anton van Beek  |  Mar 21, 2011  |  0 comments

Skyline represents an obvious step-up in quality for visual effects artists-turned-filmmakers Greg and Colin Strause. But this has more to do with the fact that this surprisingly dull alien invasion drama simply isn’t as offensive as their previous directorial outing Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (although, their commentary makes it clear that this film’s finale was originally heading in a similarly distasteful direction), rather than being a reflection on their growing talents.

Anton van Beek  |  Mar 06, 2011  |  0 comments

Unstoppable finds director Tony Scott teaming up with his regular leading man Denzel Washington for yet another bout of chaos involving public transportation. Thankfully, while no cinematic classic, it’s a vast improvement on their meandering remake of The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 – delivering a straight-forward rush of undemanding action movie fun that partners Washington with Chris Pine in a tale of a runaway freight train packed with deadly chemicals, inspired by a true event that occurred back in 2001. As always, while the actors do their best with fairly limited parts, it’s Scott’s wild direction that amps up the action to breaking point and delivers the film’s real excitement.

Anton van Beek  |  Mar 06, 2011  |  0 comments

Saw: The Final Chapter brings the curtain down on the popular horror franchise, desperately trying to tie-up all of the loose ends left over from the previous six films while also providing yet more outlandish traps that end up spraying the screen with blood and gore. This time out the focus is on a Jigsaw survivor, who finds himself playing the game all over again, while a witness comes forward with information that could finally bring the killer to justice.

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