Bob’s Your Uncle
It may be some 30 years since he died, but reggae legend Bob Marley continues to be a subject of huge interest, as proved by the release of the latest documentary charting his life, Marley, and the reviews its arrival on DVD and Blu-ray brought. Our regular round-up of home entertainment reviews shows that Marley was the best, and most widely reviewed title of the week.
It was a big week for Universal – alongside Marley, there were also releases for Battleship and Outside Bet, the former perhaps not getting as much coverage as it might have been expected to (it was mostly predictably damning); the latter getting maybe more coverage than you may have thought. There was also a second week’s worth of strong coverage for Headhunters.
We’ll start our week in reviews with the Metro’s coverage on a Thursday. The lead review in the free metropolitan newspaper was one of the previous week’s most reviewed titles, This Must Be The Place (Trinity), with a review that was mixed in its praise, concluding that “even when this feels like a misstep it makes for an intriguing cinematic journey”.
Elsewhere another of the previous weekend’s best, Headhunters (Momentum) performed well, gaining four stars and not being the first time a Hollywood take on this Norwegian flick has been mentioned (“catch it now before a US remake spoils the fun”) alongside another four star review, this time for Even The Rain (Dogwoof), and Le Havre (Artificial Eye), not performing as well were EV’s Gone (”Amanda Seyfried sure does make some duff film choices”) and Arrow’s The Tunnel (“what you want from this is The Descent; what you get is a slide into tedium”). In its regular feature slots, Woman In A Dressing Gown (Studiocanal) was the Lost Treasure selection, while the Five Films were selected by Jaime Winstone, publicising the release of Elfie Hopkins (Kaleidoscope); incidentally, she had an eclectic choice, plumping for The Lost Boys, Leon, A Bronx Tale, Rob in Hood and Total Recall. Its regular features were completed by Five Questions asked of Liam Neeson, tying in with the release of Battleship (Universal), marking the Blockbuster’s first mention of the weekend.
Friday and starting with the tabloids, and The Sun with its ever pithy remarks at the end of its reviews. This week it was the turn of Headhunters (“Hunt this one down”), This Must Be The Place (“Despite its oddball charms, this movie is all over the place”) and Elfie Hopkins (“There isn’t a great deal to chew on here”).
The Daily Star had a competition for Lockout (EV), as well as a none out of 10 notice (“breathless action and soaring suspense”)/ Also reviewed were Gone, The Complete Doctor Collection (ITV Studios Home Entertainment) and An Audience With Joan Rivers (Network) which “laughs up a storm”).
DVD Of The Week in the Daily Mirror’s The Ticket was Battleship, which, with all its bombast and bluster was, reviewer David Edwards noted, like having “your face pressed into the whirring blades of a lawnmower”. He was even harsher with some of the week’s other offerings, Momentum’s Monster Brawl (“deeply terrible, but fun if you’ve had a skinful”), Universal’s Outside Bet (“a British comedy that’s due a trip to the glue factory”), Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy from Kaleidoscope (“nowt here that hasn’t been done before… and done better”) and SPHE’s Damsels In Distress (“You’ll be able to count the number of laughs on one finger”). Best review of the week went to Universal’s Marley (“a suitably remarkable documentary”).
Moving to the mid-market tabloids and the Daily Express reviewed The Bofors Gun (Odeon), “moody and melancholy French drama” Goodbye, First Love (Artificial Eye) and Marley (“A fascinating and conscientious account of a complex and charismatic man”).
The Daily Mail featured Damsels In Distress (SPHE).
The Guardian’s regular Your Next Box Set feature was given over to Fringe (Warner), which is, it said, “lower key and more satisfying” than Lost.
Saturday and the two normal tabloid TV magazines that mention DVD are the Daily Mail’s Weekend and the Daily Mirror’s We Love TV. The former featured Who Do You Think You Are Series Eight (Acorn), while the latter featured a competition for Headhunters, capping a strong second week for the Momentum title.
You win some you lose some in the quality press: reviews have returned to the Saturday Review in The Times, this week covering “TV’s existential stoner comedy” Wilfred (Fox) and This Must Be The Place, which “had a rambling, whimsical charm”. But on the downside, there was no room for any coverage in the Daily Telegraph’s Review supplement.
Whit Stillman’s Damsels In Distress is one of those films that has divided opinion: the Independent’s Radar magazine was on its side, however, concluding that it was “lucid, distinctive and quote often very funny”. Faring well were “gripping British TV thriller” Blackout (BBC Worldwide) and a belated review for the “deeply humane” Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1, making its Blu-ray bow. Also reviewed were Marley and the “salty hogwash” of Battleship.
The Guardian’s Guide featured, as its lead review, the first two volumes of the BFI’s excellent Ghost Stories (“among the best things British television has ever produced”. Also covered, and all getting positive remarks, were Artificial Eye’s Faust (“dark and visually stunning”), “classic 80s horror fun” Puppet Master (88 Films), “enthralling documentary” Marley and “stripped down, tenser and convincingly realistic true life drama” The Assault (Studiocanal). Interesting to note too, that its regular The Planner section featured Game Of Thrones, via Blinkbox, mentioning the service’s recent deal with HBO.
The weekend edition of the Financial Times found more praise for Marley (“it is hard to resist the energy, and not feel the love”), as well as covering Faust and Damsels In Distress (proving our earlier theory, this was not well received).
Sunday now and moving through the tabloids, the People featured the latest Who Do You Think You Are outing.
The Sunday Mirror weighed in in favour of Damsels In Distress (“A sweet, funny and gloriously oddball film that is to be enjoyed and cherished”), as well as giving a thumbs-up for Battleship (“A big, bold and brash special effects bonanza that offers all-action entertainment”). Its Celebs On Sunday magazine featured The Lucky One (Warner) as a competition prize on its contents page.
The Daily Star Sunday featured Battleship, Outside Bet (“an also-ran”) and Marley (“Political insights, funny interviews and, of course, heart-rending tragedy make this my DVD of the week”).
The Mail On Sunday’s Live magazine featured, in its regular This Week’s Entertainment Releases chart, Battleship (praising its arrival on “hi-def Blu-ray”), Wilfred and The Tunnel.
The Independent On Sunday reviewed Battleship, acknowledging it was “nonsense”, but adding the caveat “if you really have to make a noisy, cheesy, militaristic sci-fi blockbuster, then this is how it should be done” as well as covering Damsels In Distress (“[it] will irritate many, but it’s refreshingly distinctive, and if you can take it on its own terms, it has plenty of sweetness and sly humour to offer”).
The Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine had a trio of titles, This Must Be The Place, the “silent masterpiece” The Girl With The Hatbox (Ruscico) and, somewhat bizarrely and belatedly, The Woman In Black (Momentum).
Over in The Observer, Mark Kermode praised the “vibrantly exhaustive documentary” Marley and Outside Bet (“deserves to find a more welcoming home on DVD”), but was far less kind to the “ear-bashingly awful” Battleship (“Transformers with boats but without Megan Fox’s butt… At least on DVD you can turn it down. Or off”). He finished with Lockout (“think The Last Boy Scout with less swearing. And in space”).
We’ll end with one magazine we managed to pick up, Shortlist. This is increasingly becoming a high profile destination for distributors and PRs targeting both advertising (Lionsgate’s Expendables-led action promotion, Headhunters and Universal’s Bourne Blu-ray issues), competitions (Marley, Wilfred and Headhunters), reviews (Ecstasy and Marley) and further interviews (in this issue, Donal McIntyre, promoting Hooligan).
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