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DVD/Blu Ray New Release Round Up Monday 3rd December 2012

02/12/2012

new years eveNothing kills a release date like the biggest blockbuster of the year finally reaching home video and with this week seeing the release of Christopher Nolan’s third and final Bat-buster, The Dark Knight Rises, there’s not much else in the way of big releases. Or even small ones for that matter. We should reserve a little bit of admiration then for those who have chosen to stick their heads above the parapet, risking being smothered by the Bat’s long shadow. When one of those films is the dreadful NEW YEAR’S EVE however, it’s rather difficult to find anything approaching admiration. Let’s look at the evidence. An ensemble cast including Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank and, eh, Robert De Niro (?). The presence of Efron and Kutcher together in the same film is enough to cause a critical mass of talentlessness, never mind the rest of the dead eyed cardboard cut outs that populate proceedings. Worse is the presence of the likes of Swank and De Niro, talented actors who have proved themselves in the past going through the motions in this rubbish. And it is rubbish. A lot of the blame has to be placed at the door of writer Katherine Fugate whose abominable script thinks it’s hilarious but in reality is anything but. I never thought I would see a film this year that would make WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING and FRIENDS WITH KIDS look competent, but here it is. Full marks for throwing those “jokes” in there Kath, it’s just a shame none of them are funny and some of them are bordering on simplistic racism. It’s also one of those multi-strand narrative snooze fests where we are obligated to follow about a dozen different plot threads simultaneously which don’t even have the common decency to be linked to each other by anything more meaningful than they take place on the same night. I’m not sure if this was released this week because the studio thought it could compete with Batman or if they hoped it would be lost in the Bat-furore but either way, I can’t see it making much of an impact.

the bourne legacySecond up is the latest instalment of the BOURNE series, THE BOURNE LEGACY. The idea of a BOURNE movie without Jason Bourne may seem a little odd and is certainly a departure from the book of the same name (no bad thing, considering how poor the Eric Von Lustbader penned novel is) but the logic here is pretty sound. Starring Jeremy Renner as a rather convincing participant in one of the many super-soldier projects that have branched out from the original Treadstone, its events take place in parallel to those of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and see Renner’s Aaron Cross forced on the run when the CIA decide to erase said projects from history. With extreme prejudice. Sadly, this doesn’t quite live up to the standards of the previous three movies for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s essentially a retread of the first Bourne, minus the amnesia plot point, with Cross finding himself pursued by ruthless government assassins as he, with female sidekick in tow (Rachel Weisz in this instance), staying one step ahead and kicking some serious ass in the process. This wouldn’t really be much of an issue if the action wasn’t so spread out, interspersed as it is by excessive and often pointless office based exposition with Edward Norton’s carbon copy CIA bad guy. The occasional connection to the action of ULTIMATUM is interesting but this aspect feels really under-used. I was hoping for a lot more intertwining of the two films than the odd crossover between CIA departments and a rather forced feeling “other-side-of-a-phone-call” moment and it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to be honest. There’s lots of good stuff to be had. Renner and Weisz have believable chemistry, some of the action scenes are pretty cool and Renner is pretty authentic as a medically enhanced assassin type, all of which are just enough to save the day. When all’s said and done though, this is a pretty meagre legacy to Damon’s Bourne films.

the dark knight risesThe third, and final, release this week is THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, the third and final instalment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series which also happens to be the one I like the most. This is arguably because it’s probably the one that features the least amount of Batman himself (see my full review of the film for more insight into why this would be a good thing) but more likely because of Tom Hardy’s formidable presence as the arch-villain Bane. It’s definitely epic in scope and has many flaws but when it comes to big budget blockbusters they don’t often come as thoughtful and intelligent as Nolan’s efforts. As well as Bane, it also has the best rendition of Cat Woman I’ve seen in the shape of Anne Hathaway, Nolan blessedly eschewing the usual overt Cat-based props/costume and going for something much more understated instead. Decent action sequences, impressive special effects and impressive performances (I don’t care what anyone says about Hardy’s delivery as Bane, he’s fantastic here) have become Nolan’s trademark and TDKR is no different, even when the story sometimes drifts into predictable territory. If all blockbusters were as good as this, the world would be a better place, hence THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is this week’s PICK OF THE WEEK.

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