Hammering Home The Message

Tuesday, February 25 2014
Hammering Home The Message

Most distributors clear their release slates when a big superhero title comes along and, as our weekly round up of press coverage for DVD releases shows, the latest Marvel title, Thor was undoubtedly the biggest of the week.

But it wasn’t an easy ride for the Norse god on his way to becoming arguably the best reviewed title of the weekend in the national press.

For he didn’t quite hammer home the message as much as you’d have expected, despite garnering a fair amount of reviews, there were some far smaller, independent releases which were duking it out for column inches – the likes of Safety Not Guaranteed and Mister John earned nearly as many reviews as the far bigger title.

As always, let’s kick off with the Metro newspaper, the paper broke with tradition in leading with one of the previous weekend’s biggies, eschewing Game Of Thrones for a less than complimentary review of, first, eOne’s The Fifth Estate (“there’s so much material already out there,” it noted, “that it feels redundant before it gets going”) and then Lionsgate’s Machete Kills (“more outlandish [than the first] but it still feels repetitive as the same joke is stretched even further”). It was kinder towards Soda’s Seduced And Abandoned (“a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain”) and its Box-set Blitz choice, Universal’s Yonderland (“charming, intelligent and proof that a comedy really can please every generation at once”). Elsewhere it had a half-page interview with director David Lowery, talking about, and plugging, his own Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (Universal), while another director, David Gordon Green, was quizzed for the My Top Five Films feature. He was plugging Metrodome’s Prince Avalanche, his choices, incidentally, included Deliverance, Scarecrow, Paris, Texas, Stand By Me and Thunderbolt & Lightfoot.

The Evening Standard kicked off with the “winning story” that is Safety Not Guaranteed (Vertigo) rather than the more obvious Thor: The Dark World (Disney), moving through Artificial Eye’s Mister John (“a deceptive slow-burner”), One Chance (EV), Machete Kills (Lionsgate) and Eureka’s Serpico (“one of the great crusading films of the era”).

It was back to the previous weekend’s biggies in The Sun, with room for, as its DVD Of The Week, HBO’s Game Of Thrones (“epic, far more than just a game”), which earned five stars, as did Warner’s Blue Jasmine (“this sly and expertly-crafted comedy is less bittersweet than delightfully sour”). Also in there was Machete Kills (Lionsgate).

DVD Of The Week in the Daily Mirror’s The Ticket supplement was, in its first notice of the weekend, was Thor: The Dark World (Disney). Also covered were Saving Mr Banks (Disney), One Chance (EV) and Safety Not Guaranteed (Vertigo).

Thor: The Dark World took the top honours in the Daily Star too, with a competition as well as a review, which garnered a maximum 10 out of 10, concluding “it is great super-hero stuff decorated with stunning special effects”. Its further reviews took in “classic horror” Dead Of Night, and, a third title being given maximum marks, One Chance (EV) and, scoring one less, the Masters Of Cinema release of Serpico (“it still hits harder than a Manhattan policeman with a Taser”).

No reviews in either of the mid-market dailies, Mail or Express, the only regular broadsheet coverage on Friday was, as ever, the Your Next Box Set feature in The Guardian, which this week focused on The Returned and waxed lyrical about the French series: “[It] is a class act all the way,” it said. “The Returned is such a delicately detailed drama that, by the end, you feel ass if you have finished a beautiful, brilliant novel rather than a TV series.”

Saturday and the usual mentions for releases in the tabloid telly guides, Yonderland (“a joy to watch”) in the Daily Mail’s Weekend, a competition for Benidorm in the Daily Mirror’s The Ticket, that same title in The Sun’s TV Magazine as its Box Set Of The Week, while Thor: The Dark World was its DVD Of The Week.

Poor coverage continues in some of the qualities – a year ago the Daily Telegraph and The Independent were both regularly covering DVD releases, the latter at least half a dozen titles. The coverage flitted in and out of the former and hasn’t appeared for some time, while the latter stopped abruptly. It’s troubling to see both apparently consigned to the bin.

And, although this is just our opinion, The Guardian Guide’s coverage is not as good as it used to be either, there’s less on the in brief titles (Game Of Thrones, Machete Kills and Blue Jasmine this week), while its main reviews seem to concentrate less on what’s on a disc, its content and why it had been chosen as a pick, preferring instead to offer merely the kind of review you’d have read on its original theatrical release. Erstwhile DVD reviewer Phelim O’Neill didn’t always pick the obvious titles and had a keen eye on releases that were exclusive to home entertainment, from the likes of the BFI and Network, as well as Second Sight and Arrow. Last week’s Arrow selection aside, incumbent Charlie Lyne is merely giving another critical viewpoint of films that have already been out for nearly a week, this time round it was The Fifth Estate.

The Times is still there with its coverage, this week taking in Studiocanal’s Dead Of Night (“all good eerie fun, not least in spotting those that it influenced), the “slow but hypnotic character study” Mister John (Artificial Eye) and “forgotten gem” Classe Tous Risques (BFI).

The Financial Times covered The Nun, In The Name Of (Pecccadillo) and Thor: The Dark World.

Sunday now and the usual mentions for releases in the tabloids, which are still covering releases: the Sunday Mirror featured Thor: The Dark World (“great fun”).

Over in the Sunday People, it was One Chance leading the way, followed by Thor: The Dark World, Emperor (Universal) and Safety Not Guaranteed, its TV page had Benidorm.

The Daily Star Sunday had Thor: The Dark World, Emperor and, winning its highest rating (“quirky and occasionally very funny indie comedy”).

The Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine covered Captain Phillips (“it could be the thriller of the year”), The Fifth Estate (“should have taken the Fifth Amendment”) and Warner’s new extended edition of Argo (“this is a treat”). Its Box Set Of The Week was Bates Motel (“check in there now”). Its Staying In page featured the excellent This Is Jinsy (Delta) and the “unsettling thriller” Mister John.

Blue Jasmine led the way in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine, with a four star review for Woody Allen’s latest which, somewhat surprisingly, failed to mention the words “return to form”. Also covered was Age Of Uprising (Chelsea) and Eureka’s Lubitsch In Berlin.

Philip French’s Classic DVD in The Observer was The Killers (Arrow), while Guy Lodge’s Home Cinema column took in some excellent choices, from Mister John (“the film Only God Forgives might be if it went off and had a good think”), Diana (eOne), Thor: The Dark World, In The Name Of (Peccadillo) and The Nun, before, as it’s streaming choice, The Black Cauldron, newly arrived Netflix.

And after bashing its Saturday sister publication, it’s good to note that DVD coverage is continuing in the Independent On Sunday, with Thor: The Dark World, The Fifth Estate and Fox’s Enough Said (“touching, grown-up comedy”) reviewed, a competition for Blue Jasmine and while the excellent Watch List column looked at horror anthologies tying in with the release of Dead Of Night.

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