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G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray) | Blu Ray | (22/07/2013)
from £5.00 | Saving you £24.99 (83.30%) | RRP
For everyone who rolled their eyes even as they were secretly digging 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra as a guilty pleasure (not to mention giving it big box-office clout), this rejiggered sequel will probably prove irresistible. Hasbro and Hollywood have successfully created a franchise based on toy action figures that were introduced almost 50 years ago, now featuring all the guns, glory, and apocalyptic politics of the modern age. Along with that come the heights of preposterous circumstances and childish fantasy that any $200-plus million action movie requires. The video game quality and action figure/comic book childishness notwithstanding, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is anything but childlike with its incalculable body count, physical carnage, and extreme fetishisation of violence and techno armaments. Feeling cocky from their vanquishing the evil Cobra organisation in the first movie, the Joes are all the more ready to save the world from itself, making clandestine forays into North Korea and Pakistan with deadly precision. (The dizzying assault on a Pakistani weapons base is genuinely spectacular.) What they don't know is that Cobra has been lying in wait, and that the free world's Commander in Chief (Jonathan Pryce, having a fine time) is being impersonated by the nefarious Cobra operative Zartan (Arnold Vosloo). In the guise of a benevolent leader seeking world nuclear disarmament, "President" Zartan discredits and wipes out all but three of the Joe force. Fortunately Dwayne Johnson is among them, and every moviegoer knows he's pretty much an army of one. The script is so whiz-bang fast and full of impossibly extravagant CGI-enhanced eye-poppery that any synopsis would be akin to, well, 10-year-olds smashing three-inch action figures into each other and making up a narrative to go along with their guttural sound effects. And isn't that a pretty good description of escapism? Mention must be made of an incredible sustained set piece staged on sheer Himalayan cliffs where sword-wielding ninjas soar on ropes in an elaborate choreography that is as inventive as it is thrilling. The finale explodes at historic Fort Sumter, of all places, where the faceless Cobra Commander showdowns with the revivified Joes during "The President's" bogus disarmament summit. The cast is adequate in portraying good or bad real-life action figures with funny names and unbreakable bodies. Bruce Willis seems very happy chomping in to a glorified cameo as the retired Joe commander. Though the Joes carry the day and glory can be claimed, it should be noted that a sequel is teed up perfectly, especially in light of the fact that Cobra pretty much succeeds in its world-domination plan by obliterating the whole of London and its eight million inhabitants. It is the most extreme of money shots, rendered with loving detail; but don't worry, kids, it's only a movie. --Ted Fry
Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital Copy) | Blu Ray | (02/09/2013)
from £7.86 | Saving you £22.13 (73.80%) | RRP
A good portion of Trekkies (or Trekkers, depending on one's level of Star Trek obsession) have special affection for episodes of the original TV series that related to Earth and other-Earth cultures visited by the crew of the Enterprise, version 1.0. Some of the shows unfolded in distorted forms of the past, some in the present day of Star Trek's future reality. Director J.J. Abrams recognised the importance of this relationship in his origin-story reboot of the franchise in 2009, and in Star Trek Into Darkness he has made it an even greater touchstone to the roots of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's defining philosophy from nearly 50 years ago. The human home world is key to the plot of this spectacularly bold leap into Star Trek lore, which cleverly continues along the alternate path that was established as separate from the "original" Star Trek universe in Abrams's first whiz-bang crack at advancing the mythology. But it's not just Earth that is cool and imperiled in this rendering of adventure in the 23rd century; Into Darkness also plays with the original conceit that Earthlings were member to a multi-species United Federation of Planets ruled by a "Prime Directive" of noninterference with other civilisations. The conflict comes when rogue elements in the Earth-based Starfleet Command hunger to shift focus from peaceful exploration to militarisation, a concept that is anathema to the crew of the Enterprise and her ongoing mission. The new cast is again inventively reunited, each of them further investing their characters with traits that reveal novel acting choices while staying true to the caricatures that are ingrained in our popular culture. The interplay between Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock is deeper, and Zoe Saldana as Uhura is a solid third in their relationship. John Cho (Sulu), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), and Karl Urban (McCoy) all have standout roles in the overall ensemble mystique as well as the plot-heavy machinations of this incarnation's narrative. Fortunately, the burdens of the story are well served by some important additions to the cast. Benedict Cumberbatch's Shakespearean aura, ferociously imperious gaze, and graceful athleticism make him a formidable villain as the mysterious Starfleet operative John Harrison. Harrison has initiated a campaign of terror on Earth before leading the Enterprise to even greater dangers in the enemy territory of Klingon-controlled space. That his background may make dedicated Trekkies/Trekkers gasp is just one acknowledgment of the substantial and ingrained legacy Star Trek has borne. There are many references, nods and winks to those with deep reverence for the folklore (some of them perhaps a little too close to being inside-baseball), though the fantastical and continually exciting story stands as an expertly crafted tale for complete neophytes. Another new face is Peter Weller--iconically famous in sci-fi-dom as RoboCop--here playing a steely, authoritative Starfleet bigwig who may also be following a hidden agenda. Not only is he running a covert operation, he's also at the helm of a fearsome secret starship that looms over the Enterprise like a shark poised to devour its prey. Which brings us to the awesome CGI effects driving the dazzling visual style of Into Darkness and the endlessly fascinating cosmos it makes real. The wow factor extends from the opening set piece on an alien world of primitive humanoids, garish vegetation, and a roiling volcano to the finale of destruction in a future San Francisco that is elegantly outfitted with gleaming-spired skyscrapers and all manner of flying vehicles. (London also gets a breathtaking 23rd-century makeover). With a coolness that glistens in every immaculately composed shot, the movie never forgets that humanism and creativity make the myriad design details and hyper-technology pop out as much more than eye candy. The biggest achievement of Star Trek Into Darkness is that it hews to the highest standard of a highly celebrated tradition. Though Kirk and co. may bend it a little, the Prime Directive remains unbroken. --Ted Fry
Wrath Of The Titans (Blu-ray + Blu-ray 3D + UV Copy) | Blu Ray | (15/10/2012)
from £4.89 | Saving you £20.10 (80.40%) | RRP
A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus (Worthington) - the demigod son of Zeus (Neeson) - is attempting to live a quieter life as a village fisherman and the sole parent to his 10-year old son, Helius. Meanwhile, a struggle for supremacy rages between the gods and the Titans. Dangerously weakened by humanity's lack of devotion, the gods are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos. Perseus cannot ignore his true calling when Hades, along with Zeus' godly son, Ares (Edgar Ramrez), switch loyalties and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. The Titans' strength grows stronger as Zeus' remaining godly powers are siphoned, and hell is unleashed on earth. Perseus bravely embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus, overthrow the Titans and save mankind. Special Features: Maximum Movie Mode - The Path of Men Maximum Movie Mode - The Path of Gods Battling the Chimera - The Path of Men Who Are The Titans? The Path of Gods Agenor: The Other Demi-God - The Path of Men The Cyclops Fight - The Path of Men Hephaestus: God of Fire - The Path of Gods Prison of the Titans - The Path of Men Lost in Tartarus' Labyrinth - The Path of Gods Minotaur: The Human Nightmare - The Path of Men Creatures of the Titans - The Path of Gods The Heavens Raise Hell on Earth - The Path of Men Perseus Owes Helius an Explanation Perseus Addresses the Troops Zeus is Led Past Missing Olympians MMM Graphic Localization *Please note all special features are in 2D.