Eric’s Still The King

Tuesday, April 10 2012
Eric’s Still The King

With the Bank Holiday looming, it was a quieter Monday for releases – with most of the children’s fare out of the way, there was a slight lull in the release schedule which meant there were no standout titles when it came to DVD and Blu-ray coverage in the weekend’s newspapers, as our weekly round-up of reviews highlights.

It gave some foreign language and arthouse fare the chance to shine, with the likes of Switch (Anchor Bay), a mainstream French thriller, and Las Acacias, a gentle road movie, all punching above their weight, alongside some more recent commercial fare such as the ubiquitous Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. In the case of Switch, the film had already received coverage around its limited theatrical release, its coverage further boosted by interviews with star Eric Cantona, who’d come into the UK for a press junket to support the release. His presence alone guaranteed interest.  

Our week in reviews starts, as ever, with the metropolitan free newspaper for consumers, the Metro. It normally presents a full double page spread’s worth of coverage for home entertainment titles on its similarly named Home Cinema section, but, with the paper not publishing on a Friday, its entertainment coverage for both Thursday and Friday was squeezed into the former day, meaning its cinema and other reviews took some of that space, shrinking its home entertainment down to a mere page. Still there were a decent amount of reviews; following its coverage last week, which was markedly less positive than its theatrical notices, Hugo (EV) was the lead title, but in keeping with the poorer reviews, it noted that it was “an old man’s idea of a kids’ adventure”. Also reviewed were Another Earth (Fox), a somewhat belated review for Captain America: The First Avenger (Paramount) and, in another slating, Alvin And The Chipmunks (Fox), which, again in keeping with other reviews, stated: “Parents can plonk the kiddies in front of the telly, then leave them to it and do something more entertaining – such as last night’s dishes.” Much of the rest of its feature coverage was truncated, with just one of its regular features included: Lost Treasures (Forgotten Classics Dug Up) was given over to Sherlock Holmes adventure Murder By Decree (“The sum total of is like that half-remembered midnight movie you caught on telly as a child which scarred you for life.”)

Also appearing Thursday, instead of its normal Friday spot, again as part of combined coverage due to non-publication on the Good Friday, were the Evening Standard’s DVD and Blu-ray Releases coverage, taking in predominantly less obvious titles, but giving positive comments to most; Soda’s We Have A Pope (“meticulously researched, stylish, drily funny, slyly political and very good”), independent Attic Room’s First Orbit (“stirring poignant stuff”), Anchor Bay’s Eric Cantona starrer Switch (“glam and thrilling enough to make the final squad”), Universal’s The Revenant (“It’s 30 minutes too long, but there are zinging one-liners, guffaw-inducing SFX and lashings of gratuitous swearing in this comedy”), two from Artificial Eye: The Deep Blue Sea and The Portuguese Nun (“brings 1970s arthouse back to life”) and Texas Killing Fields (EV).

The Revenant got another decent review in The Sun, which noted that “it’s messy, but this zom-com is still bloody entertaining”. Also in the paper’s Something For The Weekend entertainment section’s DVD column were Hug (“you’ll be glad that, this time, the master director turned that black-browed frown upside down”), The Deep Blue Sea and, at the opposite end of the scale, Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. At least the latter eschewed the obvious comments that every other reviewer did (apparently, eight-year-olds will like it, grown-ups won’t), instead stating: “Less a film, than a music montage, you’re never more than five minutes from the chipmunks shrieking along to a slice of bad pop… This may chip away at your soul.”

Hugo was back again in the Daily Star, with a competition offering copies of the film alongside a strong review (“a real treat for both young and old”), with further reviews for the original Doctor Dolittle (Fox), Die Hard Quadrilogy (Fox)and Texas Killing Fields.

The Daily Mirror’s The Ticket supplement had Texas Killing Fields as its lead review, with further coverage for If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front, Mother And Child and Las Acacias. The bottom half of the page was given over to TV DVDs, taking in ITV Studios Home Entertainment’s Kidnap And Ransom Series 2 (a five star review for this “hugely popular thriller”), Skins Complete Sixth Series (4DVD), Benidorm Series 1 To 5 (BBC Worldwide), The Lakes Complete Series 1 and 2 (Second Sight) and Upstairs Downstairs Series Two (BBC Worldwide).

Moving slowly but surely upmarket and on to the mid market tabloids and there was a strong arthouse influence in the Daily Express, with Las Acacias (Verve), We Have A Pope (Soda) and The Song Of Bernadette (Fox). Over in the Daily Mail, the paper continued its sometime trend for featuring titles that have already been out for a few weeks, this time around covering Moneyball (SPHE).

The diverse nature of the weekend’s reviews was highlighted again by The Independent’s reviews on Friday, which took in the predictable slating of Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (“Please stop now,” it concluded), The Deep Blue Sea, Momentum’s Justice (more easy to spot criticism, noting star Nic Cage’s move back into “dunderheaded action territory”), Hugo (“a sumptuous assault on the senses”) and Wuthering Heights (Artificial Eye).

The Guardian’s Film And Music section saw a few additions to its normal coverage, not least a full page interview with Stellan Skarsgard to promote the April 23 release of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (SPHE). In addition to this there was an interesting feature by sometime Raygun contributor Charles Gant, talking about the Curzon On Demand offering (see here for more, make sure you read the comments too). And then there was the standard coverage, its Your Next Box Set feature was taken up by The Six Million Dollar Man, coinciding with its forthcoming release.

Saturday now and the two magazines which traditionally cover TV releases are the Daily Mirror’s We Love Telly supplement and the Daily Mail’s Weekend supplement and this was the case this week. The former offered up Titanic (ITV Studios Home Entertainment) as competition prizes, the latter the sixth series of the UK take on Law And Order (Universal Playback).

The bulk of the rest of the DVD-related column inches on Saturday came via the quality press.

So in the Financial Times there were reviews for The Deep Blue Sea (Artificial Eye), Another Earth, Oslo, August 31st (Soda) and The Portuguese Nun (Artificial Eye).

Over in The Times, there were four-star reviews for Las Acacias (“lulls you into a kind of zen-like state”), Chemical Brothers live flick Don’t Think (“enough to turn your living room into a mini-rave:”) and Dogwoof’s Bill Cunningham New York  (“he makes for charming company”), although Swinging With The Finkels (G2) didn’t fare as well. Its colour magazine featured a marvelous Q&A with Eric Cantona in the regular What I’ve Learnt slot, promoting Anchor Bay’s Switch and making suitably obtuse remarks (sample: “I am not afraid of death. I am not afraid of living.”).

The Daily Telegraph’s normal DVD slot in its Review section was edged out by the inclusion on a major feature on The 100 Best Festivals for the summer.

Luckily there was still the usual coverage in The Guardian’s Guide supplement. The bulk of it was given over to the Die Hard Quadrilogy (Fox), making the somewhat pertinent point: “Big-budget action movies have become so safe (just compare the first and fourth of this franchise) that it’s not uncommon for a film that’s more than 20 years old, like Die Hard, to still outclass newcomers in almost every department.” Also covered were Bill Cunningham New York, Sometimes They Come Back (Second Sight),  Switch and Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte (Fox).

Moving on to Sunday, and there was plenty of coverage in The People, not least for Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which was the DVD choice on its regular We’re Loving… entertainment page, and also benefited from a half page competition in its Take It Easy supplement. Its TV reviews page had a further competition for White Heat (ITV Studios Home Entertainment).

The Daily Star Sunday plumped for Switch, Justice and The Revenant as its DVD Of The Week, while in its OK supplement there was a two page interview with former The Only Way Is Essex star Amy Childs, promoting the Watch It Now release of her Fit In 30 Days release, capping a week which also saw it benefiting from a major feature in The Sun too, among other plentiful coverage.

The Die Hard Quadrilogy was one of the DVDs Of The Week in the Sunday Mirror (“These action-packed thrillers look brilliant on Blu-ray and are well worth a place in any collection”), alongside The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection (“good old-fashioned fantasy entertainment”). Its accompanying Celebs On Sunday magazine featured a competition for Dream House (Warner).

The Mail On Sunday’s Live magazine had a couple of mentions of DVD in its This Week’s Entertainment Releases section, as ever, this time around selecting Underworld: Awakening (EV), Another Earth and Die Hard Quadrilogy. Elsewhere in the same magazine, incidentally, it suggested that maybe it was  a case of “bye-bye DVDs… hello iPlayer and Netflix”, suggesting that the Roku hardware kit, which offers Internet TV to your flatscreen TV, and that “the technology is going to hit big time in the UK”.

 Moving further upmarket, the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine had its usual esoteric choice, with The Conformist (Arrow) and Dracula: Prince Of Darkness (Studiocanal) both scoring well (the former is “Bertolucci’s finest achievement”, the latter is “all rather splendid”), although Another Earth scored badly (“Part sci-fi, part romantic fiction [it] fails as both”).

The Independent On Sunday took in The Deep Blue Sea and Bill Cunningham In New York.

And we’ll end with The Observer and Mark Kermode’s words of wisdom on the week’s releases. He kicked off with Las Acacias, giving it a high profile, glowing notice (It is, he said: “An honest pleasure that heralds the arrival of more than one major new talent; if only more movies were made this way.”). His reviews also took in Another Earth, Switch (a “curry-and-a-six-pack time-passer”). He said that Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson twitcher-com The Big Year (Fox) might find an audience on DVD, adding “for despite its dismal track record this is actually quite an amusing tale”, before lambasting the “vile” Breaking Wind Part 1 (Revolver), which he rated as the worst of all the blockbuster spoofs.