The Week In Video Part XLVI

Monday, March 17 2014
The Week In Video Part XLVI

Our latest round up of what we’ve been watching at home, paying particular attention to its home entertainment potential…

With Liam Neeson doing his thing once again at UK cinemas, the time is right for a sub-Taken title (Faken? Takealike?) and The Outsider fits that hole neatly. Craig Fairbrass, whose CV takes in everything from EastEnders to Cliffhanger with a whole host of DTV actioners in there too. The tagline of this thriller from High Fliers, writ large on the sleeve, even sneakily reminds you what film it’s most akin too: “They’ve TAKEN his daughter,” it states unashamedly, ” he’ll take revenge.” In case you didn’t get it, it adds “Fans of Taken will love it.” Do we really need to tell you the plot? Fairbrass is trying to track down his daughter is all the description you need, and although it’s easy to have a fig, this is commercial fare with plenty of potential. As we’ve oft noted before, the DTV sector thrives on a certain amount of familiarity, this title has it in spades, with the added bonus of the likes of James Caan and Jason Patric supporting. It’s as commercial as they can, you can easily imagine this one being, ahem, taken home…

Paranoia, out now from eOne bears all the hallmarks of a DTV title – young whippersnapper gets in above his head in a bitter industrial espionage technology – but although it too has that nagging “haven’t I seen this plot already” feeling to it, Paranoia features a positively A-list cast – Liam Hemsworth and Amber Heard have the looks, Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford provide the acting chops. Arriving with a platform theatrical release heading into its DVD and Blu-ray bow, you can see why maybe it used this route rather than a wide release strategy at cinemas, but that shouldn’t detract from its potential – this has plenty to woo the regular home entertainment-buying core audience. Hemsworth and Heard are suitably pleasing to the eye, while of the two heavyweights, Ford acquits himself better, as Oldman seems to have forgotten what a Cockney accent sounds like.

Ford has a one-two for eOne with the release of Ender’s Game. This possibly under-performed at theatrical, where the company had high hopes for it. It certainly deserves to do better on its home entertainment release and, given the company’s track record, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. Our junior correspondent loved it, it’s a film that plays well to pre- and early teens, doesn’t patronise them and has a plot that touches on bigger issues that resonate with a younger audience. eOne has already given this some strong support, expect some decent sales.

If we were to have a “classic” release slot, this week’s entrant would most certainly be Wake In Fright, a little seen Ozploitation flick unearthed by Eureka’s Masters Of Cinema imprint, it is an uncategorisable film about a town out in the middle of nowhere in Australia. It has a certain cachet among the cognoscenti, but will be new to many, despite being over 40 years old. And you’ve got to admire the work MoC has done, not just in its restoration, new imagery and overall dual format package. It’s re-release strategy really has paid off this far and deserves plaudits too. The raft of four and five-star reviews it’s garnered on its theatrical re-release ahead of the home entertainment bow has laid the groundwork expertly. And as you’d expect, the sleeve is sumptuous. It works on two levels: enticing horror fans to buy into the MoC brand at the same time as wooing existing fans of Eureka’s imprint into buying a film they may not normally have considered. Excellent stuff.

A far newer tale of some rather unsavoury characters comes from Cheap Thrills, the latest addition to the ever-expanding Koch Media operation. It’s the latest to arrive after a successful bow at last year’s FrightFest event (one of the last, as schedules catch up and move on instead to the films that have aired at the organisation’s various events this year. It was a hit there in 2013 and still carries the cachet from that event, interest will be further reheated by the theatrical platform given to it by Koch. It’s an exemplary tale of unpleasant acts carried out by far more unpleasant characters, with David Koechner, recognisable from Anchorman, as another of its selling points. It’s a not too distant relative of Lionsgate’s You’re Next, certainly when it comes to comparables for retailers. It’ll have to go some to do as well as the Lionsgate title, but it certainly deserves to.

Artificial Eye and its sister Curzon imprint have enjoyed an excellent start to the year and while Mister John is arguably not as well-known as some of its more illustrious contemporaries – it doesn’t come weighted down with awards in the same way as The Great Beauty – but it’s still won over critics, having earned stacks of strong notices ahead of its DVD release, not least for star Aiden Gillen’s turn. As one critic noted, his presence is a guarantee of the quality of a film and as such, provides a lure for potential consumers too.

While Mister John should enjoy solid sales for some months ahead, Blue Is The Warmest Colour from Artificial Eye is as close as this sector gets to a bona fide blockbuster. It comes with almost a year’s buzz behind it, word of mouth that kicked off in the run up to its premiere at Cannes last year. It’s built since then, ending with as close as you can get to a cacophony for what is essentially a world cinema film. Of course, it’s the Sapphic qualities that have enticed many consumers, where this works commercially is in crossing over from arthouse cinemas through to the dirty mac brigade, taking in everyone else in between. The promise of a three-hour French film with explicit scenes will potentially give it an even further boost as a home entertainment entity rather than watching it in the cinema because, well, we don’t need to draw you a map. Blue should definitely bring in the green.

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