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  • Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) | Blu Ray | (24/06/2013) from £6.99  |  Saving you £23.00 (76.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    There are too many body parts flying around Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters to single out the tongue that has nearly been gnawed off in the cheek of its clever premise that fairy-tale heroes have grown up into savage supernatural mercenaries. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton strut around like 18th-century Avengers in leather uniforms, cursing up a storm of modern vernacular and bearing an inventive array of historically and mechanically impossible weapons such as grenades, crossbows, tasers, machine guns, and other weapons of witch-killing mass destruction. It's all a big joke of course, and one that the movie wears boldly and without a shred of irony. To quibble with its gaps in narrative logic or be righteously indignant that the script is often a slapdash mess is to miss the point that it's all meant to be a pile of plain old silly fun. After their childhood trauma at the gingerbread house, the famous Teutonic siblings are now in the business of killing witches full time, hiring themselves out to villages plagued by ugly, evil women wearing loads of scary makeup (Famke Janssen being the evilest and scariest) who feed on the townsfolk's kids. They do their job well and the movie spares no opportunity to show the effect of their fantastical arsenal with profusions of firepower, explosions, viscera, and disgusting cartoon violence, decapitation being the most favoured method of killing by the movie and the title characters both. As the latest in the trend of revisionist fairy-tale telling, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters takes the low road whenever possible, but it does so with a blithe spirit, a foul mouth, and the above-mentioned gore galore to create a B-movie soul that pities any sort of critical over-analysing. It's also pretty funny. There are several inspired offhand moments, such as the missing-children notices slapped on the sides of farmers' milk cans or the way Hansel has to make time for insulin injections because of the gingerbread overdoses he endured at the hand of the proto witch he and Gretel encountered as children. The art direction, wardrobe, and anachronistically engineered props that propel the story all have a cool steampunk design theme and make the silliness pretty hard to resist. Renner, Arterton, and Janssen aren't really taking things too seriously, which is fine because neither are we. This is the American debut of Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola, who brings the same playful gross-out sensibility he did to his 2009 feature Dead Snow. That one was about long-dormant Nazi soldiers rising up as zombies. What fun! It was a lark and a goof, just like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. --Ted Fry

  • Sanctum (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) [2011] Sanctum (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) | Blu Ray | (13/06/2011) from £25.49  |  Saving you £4.50 (15.00%)  |  RRP £29.99

    If there's an undersea adventure with high-tech equipment, macho posturing, and lots of underwater photography, you know James Cameron must be swimming around the vicinity. Add the fact that Sanctum was released to theaters in 3-D, and it's clinched. Cameron served as executive producer to this crazy tale of a cave-diving expedition forced to improvise when a typhoon inundates their New Guinea location. (The film, shot in Australia, is allegedly based on a true event by co-screenwriter Andrew Wight, but it might be safe to conclude that the original incident was a jumping-off point for the high melodrama on display here.) A globetrotting billionaire (Ioan Gruffudd, of Fantastic Four) is underwriting this exploration of a hidden cave maze, which explains why he gets to bring his girlfriend (Alice Parkinson) along. As a measure of their thrill-seeking habits, we are told they met on an Everest climb. The cave-diving boss is a crusty old pro (Richard Roxburgh), who is rough on his underlings and even rougher on his teenage son (Rhys Wakefield); naturally, the cataclysm that follows will be an occasion for some extreme father-son fence mending. As cornball as these elements are, and as generally toneless as director Alister Grierson's ear is with the dialogue scenes, Sanctum does work up some bona fide thrills: the sheer power of water is unleashed at a few memorable spots, as is the panic of losing an oxygen tank at a crucial moment. It's also pretty brutal, with a steep body count and a few grotesque bits of bodily injury. It ought to be easy to dismiss Sanctum as a silly piece of boy's adventure, but--curse you, Cameron!--one must admit that the thing is awfully effective. --Robert Horton

  • Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital Copy) Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital Copy) | Blu Ray | (22/10/2012) from £4.79  |  Saving you £29.20 (85.90%)  |  RRP £33.99

    Many 2012 genre movies have developed a worrisome postmodern tic, often rushing to point out their own ridiculousness before the audience even gets a chance to get swept up and taken in. The historical monster mash Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is profoundly silly--even sillier, possibly, than the title suggests--but it conducts itself with an admirably straight face. Seth Grahame-Smith's script (based on his own novel) finds the Young Mr. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) set on a path of righteous vengeance after watching his mother get fatally fanged. As he studies the law and woos the ravishing Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) by day, the nights find him throwing down with an unending army of the undead. When he discovers the plot of a master vampire (the excellently dry Rufus Sewell) to conquer the United States, he makes the fateful decision to throw his hat (and silver-bladed axe) into the ring of national politics. Director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, the Night Watch series) brings a wide-eyed fervour to the material, offering tantalising hints of a larger mythology while also glorying in the wonky kineticism of the plentiful action sequences. (He's aided in his mission by legendary cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who gives the images an old-timey View-Master texture.) Scholars of the historical record may well develop the vapours, but for susceptible viewers, the film's wink-free approach and exceedingly game performers make it frightfully easy to sit back, switch off, and bask in its poker-faced outrageousness. Many movies have had somebody thrown by a horse; this movie has a bad guy pick up a horse and throw it at the hero. Brothers and sisters, there is a difference. --Andrew Wright

  • Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) | Blu Ray | (25/02/2013) from £12.95  |  Saving you £15.00 (50.00%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Many 2012 genre movies have developed a worrisome postmodern tic, often rushing to point out their own ridiculousness before the audience even gets a chance to get swept up and taken in. The historical monster mash Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is profoundly silly--even sillier, possibly, than the title suggests--but it conducts itself with an admirably straight face. Seth Grahame-Smith's script (based on his own novel) finds the Young Mr. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) set on a path of righteous vengeance after watching his mother get fatally fanged. As he studies the law and woos the ravishing Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) by day, the nights find him throwing down with an unending army of the undead. When he discovers the plot of a master vampire (the excellently dry Rufus Sewell) to conquer the United States, he makes the fateful decision to throw his hat (and silver-bladed axe) into the ring of national politics. Director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, the Night Watch series) brings a wide-eyed fervour to the material, offering tantalising hints of a larger mythology while also glorying in the wonky kineticism of the plentiful action sequences. (He's aided in his mission by legendary cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who gives the images an old-timey View-Master texture.) Scholars of the historical record may well develop the vapours, but for susceptible viewers, the film's wink-free approach and exceedingly game performers make it frightfully easy to sit back, switch off, and bask in its poker-faced outrageousness. Many movies have had somebody thrown by a horse; this movie has a bad guy pick up a horse and throw it at the hero. Brothers and sisters, there is a difference. --Andrew Wright

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