Published on November 17th, 2009 | by Niall8
Couch Potato – DVDs out this week
It’s Tuesday again friends, a day named for the Norse god Tyr, god of law and war. Whilst we have nothing in our goodie bag on the law side this week, we do have plenty with fighting. Some of those fights are interstellar, some domestic and yet another is within the confines of one man’s head. For this is a day truly worthy of the gods with offerings of such majesty that the heart can scarcely believe.
First out of the bag is JJ Abrams truly monumental reboot of the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek. The name direct and to the point, I like it. The movie focuses on the early days of James Tiberius Kirk, his entry into Starfleet, and his first meetings with Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy and the half-Vulcan known as Spock. The newly formed crew are sent into battle against the man responsible for Kirk’s fathers death and a desperate race against time to save themselves and the United Federation of Planets. What Abrams does here is very brave indeed, replacing the iconic characters of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy et al with new younger, relatively unknown actors. He also risked alienating the hardcore fanbase further by changing the time-line and creating an alternate reality were those characters will never be. It works though as the series is injected with new blood, the action ramped up and a bombastic piece of entertainment created. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto play a key role as Kirk and Spock, and it is their clashing and eventual acceptance and reliance on each other that provides the meat of the story. It’s a classic bro-mance, boy meets boy, they clash, they fight, and finally they learn to love and respect one another, as equals. Brokeback Mountain it isn’t though. The action is top-notch too, giant spaceships clash and whole worlds explode, all set against an epic soundtrack.I’ve already said too much, if you haven’t seen it do yourself a favour and get the DVD. If you can get the Blu-ray as a film of this magnitude deserves the highest quality available. The film is available in 1 and 2 disc DVD and 3 disc Blu-Ray.
The second DVD release of the week is Moon, another contender for movie of the year and a modern classic of science-fiction cinema. The story focuses on Sam Bell, a worker stationed on the moon to extract helium-3 from lunar soil for much-needed clean energy back on Earth. Sam is isolated from his wife and daughter, having only a a robotic assistant named GERTY for company. A few days before the end of his 3 year assignment he starts to see things that really shouldn’t be there. The movie is quite brilliant, a wonderful look at the effects on the psyche of isolation and the emotional impact of dealing exclusively with machines. Sam Rockwell is a stand-out in the central role and it would be criminal were he not to receive an Oscar nomination. First time director Duncan Jones shows a very adept hand and it is his storytelling that allows Rockwell to shine. Instead of answering questions head-on the script teases and leads you to discovering the truth for yourself. It’s a very cerebral movie and a welcome change from the bombastic action movies that usually flood theatres. Any one who is a sci-fi fan, or just wants to witness story-telling and acting at the highest level, has to see this movie. The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray from today.
The third and final DVD release this week is the Christmas themed romantic-comedy Four Christmases. The movie centres around San Francisco couple Brad and Kate. Every December 25, this happily unmarried duo embarks on a holiday tradition they have shared every year since they met – ditching their crazy families for a relaxing, fun-filled holiday on a sunny beach somewhere. After being trapped at the airport due to bad weather the pair are forced into visiting all four of their divorced parents’ homes on Christmas Day. The movie is the first studio film from King of Kong direct Seth Gordon. It stars Vince Vaughan and Reese Witherspoon as the main two, with Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Voight, and Robert Duvall as their parents. Vaughan and Witherspoon can do this kind of stuff in their sleep. And if the critics are anything to go by that’s exactly how the acted it. The reviews have been generally negative with many finding the humour sadly lacking. I haven’t seen it so I can’t judge but it really doesn’t seem like my cup of tea. If you do like Christmas comedies, or either of the main pairing, then check it out. The film is available on DVD only.
Re-released on Blu-Ray:
Two of cinemas finest moments get the high-definition treatment this week. The first is Gone with the Wind, regarded by many as the greatest love story, if not movie ever made. The movie, based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel of the same name, tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a young woman living during one of the most tumultuous periods in America’s history, the American Civil War. It catalogues her life and love affair with Rhett Butler, set against the backdrop of tremendous social change. The film is rightly regarded as one of the finest ever made, with wonderful story-telling and sumptuous costume and setting.Vivien Leigh and Clark gable excel as the star-crossed lovers and their performances stand as strongly today as the did 70 years ago. As a testament to its lasting appeal, the movie sold more tickets in the U.S. than any other film in history, and is considered a prototype of the modern Hollywood blockbuster. In 2007 it was ranked 6th in the Top American Films of All Time. The fully restored original print is available now on Blu-Ray.
The second re-release on Blu-Ray this week is one of my favourite movies, Alfred Hitchcock’s timeless mystery thriller North by Northwest. The movie itself is a classic tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organisation who want to stop his interference in their plans to smuggle out microfilm containing government secrets. Cary Grant stars in the main role as the pursued main and delivers on of his best performances. The action rarely lets up and the taut script, which propels the film at break-neck speed, was rightly nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. The movie has gifted cinema some of it’s most iconic imagery, with riffs on the Mt. Rushmore sequence and the crop-dusters commonly appearing in parody or homage.That the movie still passes muster today is all down to the excellent direction of Hitchcock, here at the height of his awesome power. It’s just brilliant. Get it today in newly remastered high-definition, I know I will.
TV on DVD:
Not much happening this week, with the only release of note being Star Wars – The Clone Wars – Season 1. This computer-animated series takes place in the Star Wars universe and is set between the events of the second and third movie of the modern trilogy. The series is one of the most-watched cartoons in America and features a host of characters recognisable in modern culture. Critical reception has been favourable, with many applauding the production values and standard of visual imagery. I’ve never actually got round to watching the series, as the movie of the same name was an abomination onto my childhood. The DVD release makes a good chance for me to make amends for that, and as a fan I’m sure to find something I enjoy. This series contains 22 episodes and is only available on DVD.