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The Phantom Of The Opera | DVD | (02/05/2005)
from £4.29 | Saving you £14.54 (72.70%) | RRP
Although it's not as bold as Oscar darling Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera continues the resuscitation of the movie musical with a faithful adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's blockbuster stage musical. Emmy Rossum glows in a breakout role as opera ingénue Christine Daae, and if phantom Gerard Butler isn't Rossum's match vocally, he does convey menace and sensuality in such numbers as "The Music of the Night." The most experienced musical theater veteran in the cast, romantic lead Patrick Wilson, sings sweetly but seems wooden. The biggest name in the cast, Minnie Driver, hams it up as diva Carlotta, and she's the only principal whose voice was dubbed (though she does sing the closing-credit number, "Learn to Be Lonely," which is also the only new song). Director Joel Schumacher, no stranger to visual spectacle, seems to have found a good match in Lloyd Webber's larger-than-life vision of Gaston LeRoux's Gothic horror-romance. His weakness is cuing too many audience-reaction shots and showing too much of the lurking Phantom, but when he calms down and lets Rossum sings "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" alone in a silent graveyard, it's exquisite. Those who consider the stage musical shallow and overblown probably won't have their minds changed by the movie, and devotees will forever rue that the movie took the better part of two decades to develop, which prevented the casting of original principals Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Still, The Phantom of the Opera is a welcome exception to the long line of ill-conceived Broadway-to-movie travesties. DVD Features The two-disc edition of The Phantom of the Opera has two major extras. "Behind the Mask: The Story of The Phantom of the Opera" is an hourlong documentary tracing the genesis of the stage show, with interviews by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, director Harold Prince, producer Cameron Macintosh, lyricists Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart, choreographer Gillian Lynne, and others. Conspicuously absent are stars Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford. Both do appear in video clips, including Brightman performing with Colm Wilkinson at an early workshop, and Crawford is the subject of a casting segment. Other brief scenes from the show are represented by a 2001 production. The other major feature is the 45-minute making-of focusing on the movie, including casting and the selection of director Joel Schumacher Both are well-done productions by Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group. The deleted scene is a new song written by Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart, "No One Would Listen," sung by the Phantom toward the end of the movie. It's a beautiful song that, along with Madame Giry's story, makes him a more sympathetic character. But because that bit of backstory already slowed down the ending, it was probably a good move to cut the song. --David Horiuchi Important note: Initial playback of this DVD defaults to the DTS (Digital Theatre System) soundtrack, therefore customers without such equipment will not hear any sound. Please note that this is NOT a fault with the DVD. If you are not in possession of a DTS compatible sound amplifier, you need to change the film's soundtrack type from the main menu. In order to do this, please follow the instructions below: 1. Click the "set-up" option. 2. Select either Dolby Digital Surround Sound or Dolby Digital Stereo as appropriate. 3. Select "Play Movie". The film will now play with a universal audible soundtrack.
Les Miserables -- Two Disc Collector's Edition | DVD | (14/11/2005)
from £5.49 | Saving you £14.50 (72.50%) | RRP
Boublil and Schonberg's legendary musical! 'Les Miserables' is widely recognised as the world's most popular musical; now enjoy the full magnificence of the score played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on DVD at the spectacular 10th Anniversary Gala Concert performed live at the Royal Albert Hall. This Collectors Edition DVD also includes a bonus disc of the making of 'Les Miserables' a fascinating insight into how the masterpiece was born and became a global phenomenon!
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire | DVD | (20/03/2006)
from £5.95 | Saving you £20.04 (77.10%) | RRP
Director Mike Newell takes plenty of time to explore character development, but the story still moves along at a breathless pace, with memorably intense moments involving fire-spewing dragons, dark magical rites, and near-drownings at the hands of slimy mer-people, all of which may prove too much for the youngest of viewers.
War Of The Worlds | DVD | (14/11/2005)
from £3.19 | Saving you £21.80 (87.20%) | RRP
Steven Spielberg?s War of the Worlds, staring international superstar Tom Cruise. A contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells? seminal classic, the sci-fi adventure thriller reveals the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Edition) | DVD | (10/12/2004)
from £6.09 | Saving you £29.90 (83.10%) | RRP
The greatest trilogy in film history, presented in the most ambitious sets in DVD history, comes to a grand conclusion with the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Not only is the third and final installment of Peter Jackson's adaptation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien the longest of the three, but a full 50 minutes of new material pushes the running time to a whopping 4 hours and 10 minutes. The new scenes are welcome, and the bonus features maintain the high bar set by the first two films, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. What's New? One of the scenes cut from the theatrical release but included here, the resolution of the Saruman storyline, generated a lot of publicity when the movie opened, as actor Christopher Lee complained in the press about losing his only appearance. It's an excellent scene, one Jackson calls "pure Tolkien," and provides better context for Pippin to find the wizard's palantir in the water, but it's not critical to the film. In fact, "valuable but not critical" might sum up the ROTK extended edition. It's evident that Jackson made the right cuts for the theatrical run, but the extra material provides depth and ties up a number of loose ends, and for those sorry to see the trilogy end (and who isn't?) it's a welcome chance to spend another hour in Middle-earth. Some choice moments are Gandalf's (Ian McKellen) confrontation with the Witch King (we find out what happened to the wizard's staff), the chilling Mouth of Sauron at the gates of Mordor, and Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) being mistaken for Orc soldiers. We get to see more of Éowyn (Miranda Otto), both with Aragorn and on the battlefield, even fighting the hideously deformed Orc lieutenant, Gothmog. We also see her in one of the most anticipated new scenes, the Houses of Healing after the battle of the Pelennor Fields. It doesn't present Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) as a savior as the book did, but it shows the initial meeting between Éowyn and Faramir (David Wenham), a relationship that received only a meaningful glance in the theatrical cut. If you want to completely immerse yourself in Peter Jackson's marvelous and massive achievement, only the extended edition will do. And for those who complained, no, there are no new endings, not even the scouring of the Shire, which many fans were hoping to see. Nor is there a scene of Denethor (John Noble) with the palantir, which would have better explained both his foresight and his madness. As Jackson notes, when cuts are made, the secondary characters are the first to go, so there is a new scene of Aragorn finding the palantir in Denethor's robes. Another big difference is Aragorn's confrontation with the King of the Dead. In the theatrical version, we didn't know whether the King had accepted Aragorn's offer when the pirate ships pulled into the harbor; here Jackson assumes that viewers have already experienced that tension, and instead has the army of the dead join the battle in an earlier scene (an extended cameo for Jackson). One can debate which is more effective, but that's why the film is available in both versions. If you feel like watching the relatively shorter version you saw in the theaters, you can. If you want to completely immerse yourself in Peter Jackson's marvelous and massive achievement, only the extended edition will do. How Are the Bonus Features? To complete the experience, The Return of the King provides the same sprawling set of features as the previous extended editions: four commentary tracks, sharp picture and thrilling sound, and two discs of excellent documentary material far superior to the recycled material in the theatrical edition. Those who have listened to the seven hours of commentary for the first two extended editions may wonder if they need to hear more, but there was no commentary for the earlier ROTK DVD, so it's still entertaining to hear him break down the film (he says the beacon scene is one of his favorites), discuss differences from the book, point out cameos, and poke fun at himself and the extended-edition concept ("So this is the complete full strangulation, never seen before, here exclusively on DVD!"). The documentaries (some lasting 30 minutes or longer) are of their usual outstanding quality, and there's a riveting storyboard/animatic sequence of the climactic scene, which includes a one-on-one battle between Aragorn and Sauron. One DVD Set to Rule Them All Peter Jackson's trilogy has set the standard for fantasy films by adapting the Holy Grail of fantasy stories with a combination of fidelity to the original source and his own vision, supplemented by outstanding writing, near-perfect casting, glorious special effects, and evocative New Zealand locales. The extended editions without exception have set the standard for the DVD medium by providing a richer film experience that pulls the three films together and further embraces Tolkien's world, a reference-quality home theater experience, and generous, intelligent, and engrossing bonus features. --David Horiuchi
Once Upon a Time in the West -- Special Collector's Edition (2 discs) | DVD | (06/10/2003)
from £4.49 | Saving you £15.50 (77.50%) | RRP
Sergio Leone had to be persuaded to return to the Western for Once Upon a Time in the West after the success of his "Dollars" trilogy. The result is a masterpiece that expands the vision of the earlier movies in every way. It could as easily have been called The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Blonde as Charles Bronson steps into the No-Name role as the harmonica-playing vengeance seeker, Henry Fonda trashes his Wyatt Earp image as a dead-faced, blue-eyed killer who has sold out to the rapacious railroad; Jason Robards provides humanitarian footnotes as a life-loving but doomed bandit and the astonishingly beautiful Claudia Cardinale shows that all these grown-up little boys are less fit to make a country than one determined widow-mother-whore-angel-everywoman. The opening sequence--Woody Strode, Al Mulock and Jack Elam waiting for a train and bothered by a fly and dripping water--is masterful bravura, homing in on tiny details for a fascinating but eventless length of time before Bronson arrives for the lightning-fast shoot-out. With striking widescreen compositions and epic running time, this picture truly wins points for length and width. On the DVD: Once Upon a Time in the West on disc is the transfer fans have been waiting for: the longest available version of the film in shimmering widescreen (enhanced for 16:9 TVs) which lends full impact to Leone's long shots of Monument Valley scenery or bustling crowds of activity, but also highlights his ultra-close images as Bronson's beady eyes or Cardinale's luscious pout fill the entire screen. A commentary track is mostly by expert Sir Christopher Frayling, with input from other academics, participants and enthusiasts--it's good on the detail, and Alex Cox winningly points out that one scene bizarrely can't be reconciled with what happens before or after it. Disc 2 has four featurettes which, taken together, add up to a feature-length documentary on the film, and though overlapping the commentary slightly offer a wealth of further good stuff, plus the elegant Cardinale's undiminished smile. Also included is the trailer, notes on the cast, menu screens with generous selections from Ennio Morricone's score, stills gallery, comparison shots from the film and contemporary snapshots of the locations. --Kim Newman
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Two Disc Theatrical Edition) | DVD | (25/05/2004)
from £4.34 | Saving you £10.06 (67.10%) | RRP
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, triumphantly completed by the 11-Oscar-winning The Return of the King, sets out to show that Tolkien's epic work, once derided as mere adolescent escapism, is not just fodder for the best mass entertainment spectacle ever seen on the big screen, but is also replete with emotionally satisfying meditations on the human condition. What is the nature of true friendship? What constitutes real courage? Why is it important for us to care about people living beyond our borders? What does it mean to live in harmony with the environment and what are the consequences when we do not? When is war justifiable and when is it not? What things are really worth fighting for? These are the questions that resonate with a contemporary audience: to see our current social and political concerns mirrored--and here finally resolved--in Middle-earth is to recognise that Jackson's Lord of the Rings is both a parable for our times and magical cinematic escapism. As before, in this concluding part of the trilogy the spectacle never dwarfs (sic) the characters, even during Shelob the spider's pitiless assault, for example, or the unparalleled Battle of the Pelennor Fields, where the white towers of Minas Tirith come under ferocious attack from Troll-powered siege weapons and--in a sequence reminiscent of the Imperial Walkers in The Empire Strikes Back--Mammoth-like Mumakil. The people and their feelings always remain in focus, as emphasised by Jackson's sensitive small touches: Gandalf reassuring a terrified Pippin in the midst of battle that death is not to be feared; Frodo's blazing anger at Sam's apparent betrayal; Faramir's desire to win the approval of his megalomaniac father; Gollum's tragic cupidity and his final, heartbreaking glee. And at the very epicentre of the film is the pure heart of Samwise Gamgee--the real hero of the story. At over three hours, there are almost inevitably some lulls, and the film still feels as if some key scenes are missing: a problem doubtless to be rectified in the extended DVD edition. But the end, when it does finally arrive--set to Howard Shore's Wagnerian music score--brings us full circle, leaving the departing audience to wonder if they will ever find within themselves even a fraction of the courage of a hobbit. --Mark Walker
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Double Disc Edition) | DVD | (05/04/2004)
from £2.75 | Saving you £20.24 (88.00%) | RRP
Aside from some gripping battles and a storm sequence to rival anything seen on screen, Peter Weir's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is as much about daily shipboard life during the Napoleonic era--especially the relationship between Captain Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and Doctor Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany)--as it is about spectacle. Aubrey is a powerful figure whose experience and strength of character commands unwavering trust and respect from his crew; Crowe seems in his element naturally enough. Bettany, though, is his match on screen as Aubrey's intellectual foil. Director Weir successfully translates their relationship from novel to screen by subtly weaving in their past history and leaving viewers--whether they've read Patrick O'Brian's books or not--to do the thinking. Although the film's special effects ate up a huge budget they never overtake the drama, with characterisation and painstaking attention to historical accuracy taking centre stage. Matching action to detail, drama to humour, and special effects to well-sketched characters, Master and Commander is a deeply satisfying big-screen experience, breathing a bracing gust of sea air into Hollywood megabuck filmmaking. --Laura Bushell
King Kong | DVD | (10/04/2006)
from £3.44 | Saving you £19.99 (80.00%) | RRP
Movies don't come any bigger than Peter Jackson's King Kong, a three-hour remake of the 1933 classic that marries breathtaking visual prowess with a surprising emotional depth.
Casino Royale | DVD | (19/03/2007)
from £2.00 | Saving you £17.60 (76.60%) | RRP
Bond is back! Back to the beginning of James Bond's career MI6's newest recruit (Daniel Craig the first blonde 007) is tasked with taking down a man known as ""Le Chiffre"" (Mads Mikkelsen) a money launderer for terrorists who is raising operational funds at a high-stakes poker game in the exclusive Montenegro establishment of Casino Royale... Exhilarating breathless and at times brutal this is the first Bond adventure since 1987 to be based on one of Ian Fleming's original novels. Paul Haggis (Oscar winning writer/director of Crash) adapts Casino Royale for a new generation as Daniel Craig new Aston Martin DBS in tow fills out the tuxedo of the ultra-smooth and ultra-deadly superspy.
Terminal, The Sce | DVD | (31/01/2005)
from £4.50 | Saving you £15.06 (75.30%) | RRP
Like an airport running at peak efficiency, The Terminal glides on the consummate skills of its director and star. Having refined their collaborative chemistry on Saving Private Ryan and Catch Me if You Can, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks mesh like the precision gears of a Rolex, turning a delicate, not-very-plausible scenario into a lovely modern-age fable (partly based on fact) that's both technically impressive and subtly moving. It's Spielberg in Capra mode, spinning the featherweight tale of Victor Navorski (Hanks, giving a finely tuned performance), an Eastern European who arrives at New York's Kennedy Airport just as his (fictional) homeland has fallen to a coup, forcing him, with no valid citizenship, to take indefinite residence in the airport's expansive International Arrivals Terminal (an astonishing full-scale set that inspires Spielberg's most elegant visual strategies). Spielberg said he made this film in part to alleviate the anguish of wartime America, and his master's touch works wonders on the occasionally mushy material; even Stanley Tucci's officious terminal director and Catherine Zeta-Jones's mixed-up flight attendant come off (respectively) as forgivable and effortlessly charming. With this much talent involved, The Terminal transcends its minor shortcomings to achieve a rare degree of cinematic grace. --Jeff Shannon
M.A.S.H. | DVD | (29/04/2002)
from £5.85 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
MASH--a 1970 comedy-drama set among surgeons drafted into the Korean war--was a breakthrough not just for director Robert Altman but for movie-making in general. Although set in the 50s, there are few who did not realise that the film's anti-war messages were directed at the US involvement in Vietnam. Indeed, the Pentagon banned US servicemen from seeing the film. Starring Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye Pierce and Elliot Gould as Trapper John McIntyre, two hip young surgeons drafted against their will. Their general attitude--while never corroding either their humanity or their professionalism as surgeons--is one of insolence towards military authority and the arbitrary structures and regulations continually droning from the tannoy system. The film, too, thrives on a lack of attention to conventional order, with its cross-dialogue and random, episodic style reflecting the vivacious and unbuttoned feel of the content. However, MASH has dated and much of what seemed like "liberating" high jinks, today smacks of sexist, frathouse boorishness and harassment, especially at the expense of Major "Hotlips" Hoolihan (Sally Kellerman), while the episode in which "Painless" plans a suicide out of a fear of being gay reflects the persistence of homophobia even in 60s counterculture. Despite this MASH feels ahead of its time and certainly sharper and blacker than the too-cute sitcom it spawned. On the DVD: this is an excellent restoration, overseen by Altman himself, in which any obfuscation from the original have been cleaned up, especially the sound quality. As well as a commentary from Altman, there are three separate documentaries, featuring interviews with Altman, the cast and screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr, who had been blacklisted during the anti-Communist witch-hunt which swept through Hollywood in the 1950s. We learn he was initially appalled at how little of his script Altman actually used but was mollified by the Academy Award he received. Altman is candid about the making of the movie ("It wasn't released by Fox, it escaped from Fox"). There's an abundance of similarly rich, anecdotal material here. --David Stubbs
The Dresden Files | DVD | (27/08/2007)
from £11.48 | Saving you £23.51 (67.20%) | RRP
Based on Jim Butcher's best-selling novels The Dresden Files chronicles the cases of no ordinary detective. Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) is a wizard the only one listed in the Chicago phone book. He's got a handle on the crimes that can't be solved by anyone else. Paranormal? No problem. Dresden deals in all matters of supernatural threats. If you need a little hocus pocus or some other worldly advice Dresden's your man.
The Hulk | DVD | (17/11/2003)
from £5.22 | Saving you £14.77 (73.90%) | RRP
Amazingly, Ang Lee's Hulk makes a fair fist of pleasing everybody. The latest in a run of Marvel Comic-to-film transfers, it acknowledges the history of a character who dates back to 1962 while recreating him in contemporary terms. Though this, Hulk's origin still draws on the 1960s iconography of bomb tests and desert bases, this new take mixes gene-tampering with gamma radiation and never forgets that poor Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) has been psychologically primed by a mad father (Nick Nolte) and a disappointed girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) to transform from repressed wimp to big green powerhouse even before the mad science kicks in. The long first act is enlivened by comic book-style split-screen effects and multiple foreshadowings--Lee keeps finding excuses to light Bana's face green--but is also absorbing personal drama from the man who gave you The Ice Storm before flexing his action muscles on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. When Banner begins his Jekyll-and-Hyde seizures, the ILM CGI boys step in and use Bana as a template for the most fully-realised digital characterisation yet seen in the movies. Comics fans will thrill as a credibly bulky, superswift, super-green behemoth tangles with mutated killer dogs (including a very vicious poodle) in a night time forest, bursts out of confinement in an underground secret base, takes on America's military might while bouncing around a Road Runner and Coyote-like South Western desert and then invades San Francisco for some major "Hulk... smash" action. Artful and entertaining, engaging and explosive, this is among the most satisfying superhero movies. On the DVD: Hulk two-disc set doesn't quite hulk-out as well comparative Marvel movie releases for the X-Men films, Spider-Man and Daredevil. Disc 2 assembles a pile of those infotainment documentaries prepared to drum up pre-publicity but which feel a bit redundant once the movie is out, especially since there's so much repetition between the featurettes. It's all very well, and some of the technical stuff is fascinating, but this particular film could do with a more in-depth thematic approach: there's a lot about how the CGI Hulk was realised but little on the development of the story, the performances or the general tone, though Ang Lee's slightly sparse commentary makes interesting stabs in that direction. The biggest revelation in the background material is that Lee, known for his delicacy of touch, himself wore the motion capture suit and smashed up plywood tanks as a guide for the CGI animators. --Kim Newman
Baywatch - The Complete Third Series | DVD | (18/10/2010)
from £14.75 | Saving you £10.24 (41.00%) | RRP
Baywatch: Series 3 (6 Discs)
Star Trek XI | Blu Ray | (16/11/2009)
from £9.97 | Saving you £10.01 (33.40%) | RRP
Reinventing Star Trek was always going to be controversial but Lost's J.J. Abrams has pulled it off with style creating a bold vision that is faithful without being slavish. The young cast step boldly into iconic roles and the action is bigger and more epic than ever before! Director J.J. Abrams (Alias) re-teams with his MI: III screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to bring a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time. Play.com Review When Paramount announced that J.J. Abrams and Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen writers Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman would tackle Star Trek few fans doubted that the creator of Lost would deliver but even the most optimistic fan could be forgiven for not expecting it to be this good! We'll get straight to the point: this is the best Enterprise adventure since Wrath Of Khan - and plenty would argue that it's even better. So what's so good about the latest adventure? Let us boldly tell you... Influenced by Spock's appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generations: Season 5's Unification and Star Trek: The Original Series: Season 1's Balance Of Terror where Kirk becomes the first human to encounter a Romulan Abrams' movie is deeply rooted in the lore of the series but some bold decisions reinvigorate the franchise. A sort of re-boot re-imagining and prequel all in one this origins story toys with the space-time continuum effectively creating a parallel universe in which the characters can exist as new versions of their former incarnations freeing the story from the constraints of past movies and TV shows. Depicting the characters in their formative years the cast of relative newcomers are a resounding success. Playing Kirk like a cross between William Shatner's original Tom Cruise's Maverick and Harrison Ford's Han Solo Chris Pine (Smokin' Aces) is charming and hilarious but he's always building to become the iconic hero. Heroes star Zachary Quinto successfully channels Leonard Nimoy (who also appears) as Spock exploring the character's dual heritage. Meanwhile Zoe Saldana captures the strength and sexuality of Nichelle Nichols' original Uhura easily capable of holding her own against the egos onboard the Enterprise. Her romantic leanings might surprise a few old Trek fans too. Elsewhere Karl Urban brilliantly plays Bones Simon Pegg amuses as Scottie Anton Yelchin (Terminator Salvation) adds humour as Chekov John Cho appears as Sulu; and that's not forgetting Eric Bana (Black Hawk Down) as Romulan baddie Nero. The actors are fantastic but it's Abrams' handling of the spectacle that made this movie the highest grossing Star Trek. Never before have we seen such intense action and such gripping set pieces; the opening is one of the most immediate impacting scenes in a blockbuster for many years. Overall fans will love the references and creative decisions whilst newcomers will enjoy the intense action-packed spectacle and accessibility of a world that might have previously seemed inaccessible such is the depth and scale of the Star Trek legacy. Did we mention two sequels are on the way? Wish we could warp speed!
Minority Report | DVD | (17/05/2010)
from £4.31 | Saving you £1.20 (20.00%) | RRP
Full of flawed characters and shot in grainy de-saturated colours, Steven Spielberg's Minority Report is futuristic film noir with a far-fetched B-movie plot that's so feverishly presented the audience never gets a chance to ponder its many improbabilities. Based on a short story by Philip K Dick, Minority Report is set in the Orwellian near-future of 2054, where a trio of genetically modified "pre-cogs" warn of murders before they happen. In a sci-fi twist on the classic Hitchcockian wrong man scenario, Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the zealous precrime cop who is himself revealed as a future-killer. Plot twists and red herrings drive the action forward and complications abound, not least Anderton's crippling emotional state, his drug habit, his avuncular-yet-sinister boss (Max Von Sydow), and the ambitious FBI agent Witwer (Colin Farrell) snapping at his heels. Though the film toys with the notion of free will in a deterministic universe, this is not so much a movie of grand ideas as forward-looking ones. Its depiction of a near-future filled with personalised advertising and intrusive security devices that relentlessly violate the right of anonymity is disturbingly believable. Ultimately, though, it's a chase movie and the innovative set-piece sequences reveal Spielberg's flair for staging action. As with A.I.. before it, there's a nagging feeling that the all-too-neat resolution is a Spielbergian touch too far: the movie could satisfactorily have ended several minutes earlier. Though this is superior SF from one of Hollywood's greatest craftsmen, it would have been more in the spirit of Philip K Dick to leave a few tantalisingly untidy plot threads dangling.
Brothers And Sisters - Season 4 - Complete | DVD | (11/10/2010)
from £4.00 | Saving you £23.20 (74.90%) | RRP
Family has always been important to the Walkers but none so important as now the complete fourth season. Nora remains the matriarch of everyone's favourite family the Walkers but will she remain level-headed with her new and much younger beau on her arm? The devastating news of Kitty's illness has everyone re-evaluating their priorities yet kitty tackles cancer with the grace and strength we've all seen as senator's wife and before that a successful career woman Children continue to be a theme for the brothers and sisters and this season they're a talking point for three of the siblings: Kevin and Scotty are desperate to be parents and have over 130 women vying for the role of surrogate; Kitty and Robert have their precious little boy to protect while Kitty's ill and now Rebecca and Justin are expecting. And Walker number seven Luke the newest addition to the tribe is making his presence felt in many areas some that aren't so appealing.
Pearl Harbor DVD (2 Disc Set) | DVD | (03/12/2001)
from £4.55 | Saving you £14.46 (72.30%) | RRP
A big summer blockbuster, Pearl Harbor is pitched as a romantic epic, but the story is essentially a frame for an impressive depiction of the Japanese attack on that "day of infamy", deploying all the modelwork, CGI, stunts and special effects necessary to trump previous screen re-enactments in Tora! Tora! Tora! and From Here to Eternity. At heart, it's another Top Gun-style exercise in heroically sublimated homosexuality as Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Dan (Josh Hartnett), lifelong buddies, fall out over a ridiculous contrivance that allows both decently to fallin love with a nurse (Kate Beckinsale) but forget all their differences when the fighting starts--as expected, their big climax comes in each other's arms, with Kate left behind as one wounded buddy extracts a promise from the other to look after his unborn child. Historical snippets are interleaved, with Mako and Jon Voigt stiff under the prosthetics asAdmiral Yamamoto and Franklin Roosevelt, and a lot of detail is given about things like the wooden rudders on the new Japanese torpedoes, the chaos in the understaffed hospital as the heroine is forced to make lipstick triage marks on wounded men's foreheads and the terrible effects of strafing. A surprisingly bright little performance from Dan Aykroyd (a sole reminder of 1941) as an intelligence analyst is balanced by an insufferably smug one from Cuba Gooding Jr as a token black supporting hero. It's the first film of the George W Bush era: aggressive and dumb as a rock, utterly uninterested in period--no one in this WWII-era army smokes, swears or uses racial abuse (Gooding's boxing opponent sneers at him because he's a cook)--and awkwardly straddles a dignified treatment of the Japanese and America's actual spasm of hatred after the attack (one soldier refuses to be treated by a Japanese doctor, but that's it). When Pearl Harbour is bombed, we see endangered dogs, drowning men and dead women, but when Tokyo gets blasted in payback only buildings are destroyed and in long-shot. Michael Bay (Armageddon) remains a jittery director, a great second-unit man who can't deal with people or stories. It borrows from Titanic and Saving Private Ryan, but tidies the war of the latter up so it can still haul in a broad audience and therefore misses the real tragic sense of the former.--Kim NewmanOn the DVD: Considering there are two discs in the special edition of this special effects homage, the second DVD is woefully short of extras. There is a 45-minute featurette on the highs and lows of bringing Michael Bay's magnum opus to the screen which, along with the usual interviews with cast and crew, features the more compelling eyewitness testimony bringing the events of December 7, 1941 to life. The irony of the second disc focussing on the research and quest for historical accuracy is a little difficult to swallow, considering that the film is little more than a paper thin, overly romanticised muddle of history and fantasy, but for those wanting to experience the real events on that fateful day rather than the Hollywood version, this is an excellent antidote. The movie has been THX digitally mastered for superior sound and picture quality improving those big-bang special effects and is presented in anamorphic widescreen with 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Unlike the Region 1 release, there's no DTS track but the 5.1 Dolby Digital sound is more than up to the challenge of the effects laden assault, with different elements of the Japanese attack rumbling between the speakers and making you feel you're in the thick of things. -- Kristen Bowditch
Batman Begins (2 discs) | DVD | (21/10/2005)
from £2.99 | Saving you £11.74 (69.10%) | RRP
In the wake of his parents' murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.