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DVD/Blu Ray New Release Round Up Monday 10th December 2012

09/12/2012

keith lemon filmWith two weeks left until Christmas there aren’t many more releases to be seen before the big day. This week, in fact, sees the release of the last three biggies (commercially speaking) this side of Christmas Day and they couldn’t be more different from each other if they tried. First up, “comedian” Leigh Francis makes his feature film debut in the guise of Keith Lemon, just one of his small screen characters that he’s built a career on. Clearly riding high on the success of CELEBRITY JUICE, Francis has obviously attempted to transfer at least part of the concept to KEITH LEMON THE FILM, seeing as how it is essentially a string of D-List celebrities cameoing amongst a near endless flurry of juvenile, primary school level sex references. You know you’re in trouble when the funniest moment in your film is a brief exchange between Peter Andre and Jason Donovan. What Francis has failed to realise is that what might work in small doses on TV shows is not necessarily a winning formula for a movie and after an hour and a half of his pathetic attempts at humour, the one and only joke of the entire film has certainly worn extremely thin. He even finds time to recycle some old gags from the BO SELECTA days (which incidentally have dated quite badly) in between the incessant, tawdry sex references. All told it’s pretty dire stuff. I don’t think that even fans of Francis’ usual work will have much love for this utter drivel.

ice age 4It’s a step up then to ICE AGE 4, the latest in the long running franchise and sadly the weakest, although next to Keith Lemon it is a work of absolute genius. Subtitled “Continental Drift” it continues the theme of prior instalments in the series of hanging it’s plot around geological events. This time around the gang get set adrift as the titular tectonic phenomenon separates them from their home, leaving them bobbing around on the ocean where they fall foul of a crew of scurvy pirates. It has all the usual affirmation messages for the young ‘uns (be yourself, don’t try to be what you think other people want you to be, etc) but it completely lacks the subtlety and craft that can be found in the work of Pixar and recent Dreamworks efforts. It doesn’t even live up to the standards set by earlier episodes in the series. The animation doesn’t really cut it either – it doesn’t seem to have the vibrancy or resolution that can be found in other movies of this type (the blu ray version might be better, but even the DVD versions of recent CGI adventures from other studios have looked pretty slick – see THE LORAX and ARTHUR CHRISTMAS) and as a result has a slightly inferior feel to it. That said, its main demographic (i.e. KIDS) will love it, it just maybe doesn’t have the appeal to the older generation that the better examples of family friendly CGI animation do.

expendables 2Finally this week we have EXPENDABLES 2, a reunion of the majority of the cast of the first film that saw some of action cinema’s heavyweights join forces for what they described as “the ultimate action movie” but which I described as a  “barely coherent, under-realised, rather boring” action movie that suffered from it’s pandering to test audiences, underwritten script and, most crucially, inability to balance the screen time and egos of its stars. To be honest, the second attempt is an improvement, if only a slight one, which is all the more surprising given the addition of Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme to the cast and the expansion of the roles of Arnie and Bruce Willis over their barely-more-than-cameo moments from the first movie. What hasn’t been fixed though is the script and the “story” (if you can call it that) barrels along as a series of seemingly disconnected moments of violence, brutally cobbled together with bad one liners and, wait for it, swapped round catch phrases that some Hollywood hack probably thought were really clever but which rarely rise above plain annoying. Do we really need Norris to recite his own “Chuck Norris is so tough” jokes? Or for Arnie to have his well established catchphrases thrown back in his face? The highlight here is probably JCVD on madcap, super camp form as the villain of the piece but he gets precious little screen time and is never allowed to really get going. By the end of it, it feels like some horrendous, middle aged superstar circle-jerk, a tedious, self-congratulatory game of soggy biscuit where we, the audience, win the prize while Stallone, Willis, Swarchzenegger, et al use their collective might to try and make us swallow it. I have no doubt that fans of the first film will get a kick out of this one, otherwise I’d give it a miss.

I’m not going to choose a PICK OF THE WEEK this week as I really wasn’t fussed for any of the films. If you pushed me for the best of the bunch I’d probably run with ICE AGE 4 but only really by virtue of the fact it’s up against contenders for the worst film of the year rather than entirely on its own merits.

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