Reviewers Turn Green

Monday, October 17 2011
Reviewers Turn Green

When is a bad review not a bad review? Well, you could argue that when a film has received something of a mauling on its theatrical release, that it’s already tarnished, but when people have been told to stay at cinemas, they may decide to “wait until it comes out on DVD”.  So when that film does near its home entertainment release, maybe all you need to do is let the public know it’s out and it doesn’t necessarily matter how much reviewers trash it…

And so we arrive at our weekly round-up of DVD and Blu-ray coverage in the national press and elsewhere, and Green Lantern. The title received near across the board reviews, most of them disparaging and few offering a real reappraisal. But there’s no such thing as bad publicity, as the phrase goes, or at least there might not be if sales start off well on the back of awareness around its release.

The title earned more column inches than most over the past seven days, as our round-up suggests. Also picking up plenty of notices was Werner Herzog’s Cave Of Forgotten Dreams and Last Night.

We’ll start where we left off last week, with Senna (Universal), which received nearly unanimously strong reviews. Tuesday’s Metro, the first newspaper in the working week to cover home entertainment in reviews, gave the film another rave notice,  with a four-star review stating: “Beautifully scored and elegantly edited, Asif Kapadia’s film would be a strong, if slightly airbrushed, sports biopic if only national pride was at risk. But when the stakes are literally life and death, the climax is all but unbearable.” There was further great praise and four stars for some other titles – Metrodome’s Stake Land (“Made for just $4 million, this ambitious indie horror has a larger imagination and bigger cojones than studio slip with 20 times the budget.”); Lionsgate’s George Harrison: Living in The Material World (“As you might expect, it’s a respectful highlights reel, but it’s pieced together fluently and boasts contributors so famous Scorsese rarely identifies them. And the music naturally sounds wonderful.”) and, in its Cult Vulture (Oddball Choices For Sofa Loafers), there was Studiocanal’s Potiche (“It’s deliberately outré, candy-coloured stuff, [director Francois] Ozon toying with 1970s sitcom and sex comedy conventions.”). It was less kind, although more measured than some, about The Beaver (Icon), saying that “as far as failures go, it’s a noble one”.

Friday now, and on to another metropolitan free newspaper, London’s Evening Standard. Senna (again) kicked things off, followed by Le Quatrro Volte (New Wave Films), Potiche, The Beaver and A Film With Me In It (Element).

Senna cropped up again in the Daily Mail’s review pages, while the Daily Express went for Last Night (Studiocanal), Warner’s Green Lantern (kicking off a weekend of, shall we say, interesting reviews for the superhero film).

On to the red-top tabloids, and The Sun’s Something For The Weekend featured more on George Harrison – Living In The Material World, as well as The Beaver, with a further review for Fox’s latest outing (the 14th) for The Simpsons (“a solid showing for the most iconic programmes of all time”).

The Daily Star led on Setup (Lionsgate), with a competition offering a 32 inch colour TV, Blu-ray player and copies of the Bruce Willis and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson thriller. The film was also reviewed, alongside John Carpenter’s The Ward (Warner), This Boy’s Life (Second Sight) and, in a full marks review for Fox’s 50th anniversary edition of West Side Story (“It surges with energy, the songs, like the movie, never show their age”).

Green Lantern was the lead review in the Daily Mirror’s The Ticket supplement, with another reviewer having fun at its expense (“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a giant squawking turkey”). Last Night received one of its better write-ups (“the best film Woody Allen never made”), alongside Screwed (Lionsgate), John Carpenter’s The Ward and, in a special slot at the bottom of the page, the batch of Tarantino releases coming out on Blu-ray under the Miramax banner, including five stars for “the film of the decade” Pulp Fiction as well as Jackie Brown and From Dusk Till Dawn, although why the high definition titles were under a headline of “Tarantino DVD special” is a mystery to us.

A redesigned Independent newspaper has kept its DVD and Blu-ray reviews, with The Messenger (Universal) heading the page with a four-star review (“A powerful, angry and occasionally funny film”). Below it were Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (Revolver), called “an enlightening documentary”, Children Of The Stones (Network) and Prom. Green Lantern received one of its more scathing reviews, with its title sounding “like a John Lewis wedding list item” and the overall film summed up in one word: “dismal”.

The Guardian’s Your Next Box Set feature was given over to the History Channel release How The Earth Was Made. Nothing specifically DVD or Blu-ray related in its Film & Music supplement, although there was an interesting feature on a renaissance on British film-making, you can read it here.

Saturday now, and quickly perusing through the tabloid supplements that give mentions to DVD, and we liked the feature in The Sun’s Fabulous magazine, interviewing Sam Riley ahead of Momentum’s first Blu-ray release of Control, complete with a full plug. The Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine had The Body Farm (2 entertain) and the Daily Mirror’s We Love Telly had a competition for the sixth season of Bones (Fox).

Over in the Daily Telegraph’s Review section there was just one review for When China Met Africa (Speakit) and an interesting piece in the diary about Yume’s release of LA Without A Map.

The Times’ Review section featured The Messenger, Revolver’s The Woman (“excellent chiller”) and HBO’s In Treatment (“12 hours of therapy for about £30”).

The Guardian’s Guide supplement featured a near half-page extended review for Studiocanal’s batch of Nagisa Oshima’s films, including In The Realm Of The Senses, Empire Of Passion and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, alongside mentions for not just Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, Last Night and West Side Story, but also all of Momentum’s batch of cult-ish titles, Control, Requiem For A Dream, Amelie and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

Sunday now, and moving through the tabloids, Bones Season 6 appeared in both the People and the Sunday Mirror. In the former, it appeared alongside The Life Of Riley (Acorn Media) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Complete Season 3 (Warner), while in the latter Bones was above another Momentum Blu-ray classic, Lost In Translation.

The Daily Star Sunday reviewed Anchor Bay’s The Adventures Of Tintin (“Blistering barnacles, they look pretty good on the remastered Blu-ray version), as well as another Anchor Bay release, Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena and The Messenger.

The Mail On Sunday had no coverage (again) in its Review section, but found space to mention Green Lantern on Blu-ray and The Mentalist Season 3 (Warner).

Moving upmarket and the Independent On Sunday featured Last Night and Green Lantern.

The Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine went from giving no stars to one film, The Beaver, and five for another King Lear (Mr Bongo), with Werner Herzog’s Cave Of Forgotten Dreams in between. Its regular Guestlist slot was given over to magician Dynamo, ahead of, and plugging, his Magician Impossible release (Universal).

There’s not usually anything specific in the Sunday Times, but we’ll often pick up a copy and have a flick through, as its numerous supplements and magazines will often feature something DVD-related, particularly in their regular features. And this week we saw Oz Clarke in its Witter feature in the paper’s colour magazine, with a plug for Oz And Hugh Raise The Bar (Acorn Media) at the end.

The Observer’s Mark Kermode took in Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (offering up what you’d expect him to say about its 3D version), The Ward (“a partial return to form” for John Carpenter), Last Night (“I wouldn’t be surprised if [it] finds a niche in the home-viewing market where its star power is likely to have more clout”) and Metrodome’s Viva Riva (“does for the streets of Kinshasa what City Of God did for Rio”). He also gave the week’s last words on Green Lantern, which, he said, “underperformed badly in cinemas but will doubtless recoup most of its losses on DVD. That’s showbusiness”.

We’ll end with a couple of our favourite magazines that cover DVD and Blu-ray.

The Radio Times had Last Night, First Grader (Soda), Green Lantern and, as its DVD Box Set Of The Week, Shoestring (2 entertain).

There was a predictably eclectic choice from Time Out, which had Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (“fascinating, dreamy, mesmerizing”) as its DVD Of The Week, alongside Treacle Jr (Soda), A Very Peculiar Practice (Network) and Hamlet and King Lear (Mr Bongo), a Blu-ray Revivals column featuring Beauty And The Beast (Disney), Pulp Fiction,, Dark Star (Fabulous), West Side Story and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, while an Other Films section mentioned Kill The Irishman (Anchor Bay), Sawako Decides (Third Window) and Green Lantern.

We’ll end briefly with ShortList, the free magazine handed out at stations and elsewhere, which mentioned George Harrison Living In A Material World and the excellent Eastbound & Down Season 2 (HBO) on its Playlist page and a competition for Assassination Games (SPHE).