All’s Well That Enders Well

Thursday, March 13 2014
All’s Well That Enders Well

Home entertainment releases always give films that under-performed at theatrical another chance to prove themselves and to be reassessed by critics and film writers.

And that was just what happened to Ender’s Game, a sci-fi actioner aimed at a younger audience, as our weekly round up of coverage for home entertainment releases shows.

The film id reasonable business at cinemas, although not as well as may have been expected when the film was being viewed as the beginning of a possibly lucrative franchise during production, failing to entirely win over audiences. Nor did it fare too well with critics, but its eventual home entertainment bow gave it a chance for another viewing from film writers. and, as our review of the reviews suggests, it performed a little better in terms of critical response and it certainly earned plenty of column inches.

From where we’re standing, it certainly seemed to fare better than some of the week’s other big releases, such as The Butler. On the indie front, Short Term 12 followed its strong theatrical critical acclaim with a decent amount of reviews too,

We’ll start as ever with the Metro newspaper and its regular reviews. In keeping with the general modus operandi, it featured the previous week’s best reviewed title, namely Gravity (Warner), which continued where it left off a week ago, with another classy review. In keeping with the other reviews, it was good to see the paper look at the extras on a release – Warner’s exemplary release has seen journalists actually look beyond the feature itself: “It’s still ravishing to look at, even if your telly doesn’t stretch to 3D. How the team at London’s Framestore managed to create such a wholly immersive space experience – through groundbreaking animation, robotics and puppetry – is revealed in the Blu-ray release’s copious Making Of extras. They run longer than the 90-minute film, but are utterly engrossing and if you watch them first, let you admire the movie all the more.” It went on to cover Bad Grandpa (Paramount) and Soda’s For Those In Peril. Its Box-set Blitz release was The Americans (Fox), of which it said “overlooked somewhat when it aired on ITV, it’s worth a watch before series two arrives”. Elsewhere in the newspaper, its My Top Five Films featured Martha Howe-Douglas choosing her quintet (The Goonies, The Shawshank Redemption, Dirty Dancing, Fargo and It’s A Wonderful Life, in case you’re interested) while supporting the release of Yonderland (Universal), while director Jim Mickle plugged eOne’s We Are What We Are in an interview.

The Evening Standard kicked off with Studiocanal’s In Fear (“a brilliant exercise on mood, tension and creepiness”), moving on to The Butler (EV), Soda’s Short Term 12 (“sweet, beautifully played drama), Drinking Buddies (SPHE), Arrow’s Motorway (“Lethal Weapon plot – but the driving is stupendous”) and Enders Game (eOne).

Enders Game featured in a competition flagged up in The Sun, while its DVD Of The Week in the Something For The Weekend section was Gravity (“in pushing the boundaries of cinematic wonder, Gravity reaches for the stars”). Also reviewed were Bad Grandpa (“there’s life in the old Jackass yet”) and Rufus Wainwright Live From The Artists Den.

DVD Of The Week in the Daily Mirror’s The Ticket supplement was Ender’s Game (“an engaging and continually exciting sci-fi flick – one in fact to bring out the 12-year-old in all of us”). Also reviewed were The Counsellor (Fox), Short Term 12 (“compelling lo-fi indie”) and The Butler.

The Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine featured The Americans, while the Daily Express’ Saturday magazine had The Butler. Over in the Daily Mirror’s We Love TV, Fleming (BBC Worldwide) was the subject of a competition, while The Sun’s Television magazine plumped for The Butler as its DVD Of The Week; its Box Set Of The Week was Death In Paradise (BBC Worldwide).

The Butler also appeared in The Times’ Review section, alongside Studiocanal’s In Fear (“startlingly convincing”) and Short Term 12 (Verve).

The Guardian’s Guide featured Bad Grandpa (Paramount) as its main review, with mentions for Gravity, The Americans and Brazil (Fox), the latter on Blu-ray.

The weekend edition of the Financial Times had The Butler as its lead review, alongside Metro Manila (Independent) and In Fear. Its review of the 30th anniversary edition of This Is Spinal Tap (“a high-def makeover – the DVD equivalent of Botox – gives them new lustre and there is added bulk in the shape of exhaustive extra features”) wittily gave the film, ahem, six stars out of six.

Sunday and the usual support in the tabloids, with the Sunday People leading the way – its TV page featured a competition offering Birds Of A Feather (Fremantle) as a prize, its TV page had a review and competition for Ender’s Game, as well as The Butler, In Fear and Metro Manila.

The Sunday Mirror also featured the “spectacular sci-fi adventure” Ender’s Game.

The Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine plumped for The Americans as a box set choice on its Staying In page, with further mention for Game Of Thrones as an in demand choice. Its reviews proper gave top marks to Thor: The Dark World, although eOne titles Ender’s Game (“for adults the end, er, can’t come soon enough”) and Paranoia (“I got lost or stopped caring”). Under a separate Best Of The Biopics heading it took in The Butler and Fleming.

Moving further upmarket, the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven gave five stars to Gravity, Bang You’re Dead (Network) and The Butler.

The Independent On Sunday reviewed The Butler, Ender’s Game and Short Term 12 (“powerfully intelligent, moving and relevant, a must-watch”). It launched a new column under the banner Take Two: Movies Not To Be Missed looked at Sour Grapes, a little seen comedy now available legally to rent via youtube, while there was a further competition for Ender’s Game.

The Observer saw Philip French choosing Phantom Of The Paradise (Arrow) as its Classic DVD, while the Home Viewing column had a cracking headline (“The Butler didn’t do it”), which summed up its review for Lee Daniels’ film, was kinder about Ender’s Game (“hopefully it’ll find a more forgiving audience on the small screen”), and positively warm towards “drum-tight suspense thriller” Metro Manila and In Fear (“simple in concept, gaspingly tense in execution”). In a bumper week there were further, shorter reviews for Short Term 12, Drinking Buddies (SPHE), Age Of Uprising (Chelsea Films), Boys On Film 11 (Peccadillo) and, as Netflix choices, A Hijacking, Stories We Tell and The Great Muppet Caper.

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