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The Incredibles (Disney Pixar) (2 Discs) | DVD | (18/03/2005)
from £3.99 | Saving you £0.80 (16.00%) | RRP
After creating the last great traditionally animated film of the 20th century, The Iron Giant, filmmaker Brad Bird joined top-drawer studio Pixar to create this exciting, completely entertaining computer-animated film. Bird gives us a family of "supers," a brood of five with special powers desperately trying to fit in with the 9-to-5 suburban lifestyle. Of course, in a more innocent world, Bob and Helen Parr were superheroes, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. But blasted lawsuits and public disapproval forced them and other supers to go incognito, making it even tougher for their school-age kids, the shy Violet and the aptly named Dash. When a stranger named Mirage (voiced by Elizabeth Pena) secretly recruits Bob for a potential mission, the old glory days spin in his head, even if his body is a bit too plump for his old super suit. Bird has his cake and eats it, too. He and the Pixar wizards send up superhero and James Bond movies while delivering a thrilling, supercool action movie that rivals Spider-Man 2 for 2004's best onscreen thrills. While it's just as funny as the previous Pixar films, The Incredibles has a far wider-ranging emotional palette (it's Pixar's first PG film). Bird takes several jabs, including some juicy commentary on domestic life ("It's not graduation, he's moving from the fourth to fifth grade!"). The animated Parrs look and act a bit like the actors portraying them, Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter. Samuel L. Jackson and Jason Lee also have a grand old time as, respectively, superhero Frozone and bad guy Syndrome. Nearly stealing the show is Bird himself, voicing the eccentric designer of superhero outfits ("No capes!"), Edna Mode. Nominated for four Oscars, The Incredibles won for Best Animated Film and, in an unprecedented win for non-live-action films, Sound Editing. The Presentation This two-disc set is (shall we say it?), incredible. The digital-to-digital transfer pops off the screen and the 5.1 Dolby sound will knock the socks off most systems. But like any superhero, it has an Achilles heel. This marks the first Pixar release that doesn't include both the widescreen and full-screen versions in the same DVD set, which was a great bargaining chip for those cinephiles who still want a full-frame presentation for other family members. With a 2.39:1 widescreen ratio (that's big black bars, folks, à la Dr. Zhivago), a few more viewers may decide to go with the full-frame presentation. Fortunately, Pixar reformats their full-frame presentation so the action remains in frame. The Extras The most-repeated segments will be the two animated shorts. Newly created for this DVD is the hilarious "Jack-Jack Attack," filling the gap in the film during which the Parr baby is left with the talkative babysitter, Kari. "Boundin'," which played in front of the film theatrically, was created by Pixar character designer Bud Luckey. This easygoing take on a dancing sheep gets better with multiple viewings (be sure to watch the featurette on the short). Brad Bird still sounds like a bit of an outsider in his commentary track, recorded before the movie opened. Pixar captain John Lasseter brought him in to shake things up, to make sure the wildly successful studio would not get complacent. And while Bird is certainly likable, he does not exude Lasseter's teddy-bear persona. As one animator states, "He's like strong coffee; I happen to like strong coffee." Besides a resilient stance to be the best, Bird threw in an amazing number of challenges, most of which go unnoticed unless you delve into the 70 minutes of making-of features plus two commentary tracks (Bird with producer John Walker, the other from a dozen animators). We hear about the numerous sets, why you go to "the Spaniards" if you're dealing with animation physics, costume problems (there's a reason why previous Pixar films dealt with single- or uncostumed characters), and horror stories about all that animated hair. Bird's commentary throws out too many names of the! animators even after he warns himself not to do so, but it's a lively enough time. The animator commentary is of greatest interest to those interested in the occupation. There is a 30-minute segment on deleted scenes with temporary vocals and crude drawings, including a new opening (thankfully dropped). The "secret files" contain a "lost" animated short from the superheroes' glory days. This fake cartoon (Frozone and Mr. Incredible are teamed with a pink bunny) wears thin, but play it with the commentary track by the two superheroes and it's another sharp comedy sketch. There are also NSA "files" on the other superheroes alluded to in the film with dossiers and curiously fun sound bits. "Vowellet" is the only footage about the well-known cast (there aren't even any obligatory shots of the cast recording their lines). Author/cast member Sarah Vowell (NPR's This American Life) talks about her first foray into movie voice-overs--daughter Violet--and the unlikelihood of her being a superhero. The feature is unlike anything we've seen on a Disney or Pixar DVD extra, but who else would consider Abe Lincoln an action figure? --Doug Thomas
Once Upon a Time in the West -- Special Collector's Edition (2 discs) | DVD | (06/10/2003)
from £4.99 | Saving you £15.00 (75.00%) | 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
War Of The Worlds | DVD | (14/11/2005)
from £4.99 | Saving you £20.00 (80.00%) | 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.
Laura's Star | DVD | (24/10/2005)
from £3.89 | Saving you £10.10 (72.20%) | RRP
A magical animated adventure based on the best selling bedtime story book by Klaus Baumgart.... One night a five pointed star the size of a pillow falls out of the sky and is patched up by Laura with Elastoplast. This new friend brings her nursery toys to life and enables her to fly. The star begins to lose it's powers but with the help of Laura and the boy next door it recovers and is able to return to the dark night sky.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (3-Disc) with Bonus Digital Copy | Blu Ray | (30/11/2009)
from £2.99 | Saving you £21.54 (71.80%) | RRP
Pure. Popcorn. Entertainment. That's an exact classification of director Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The action is nonstop, with battles and explosions from start to finish. The camera (without any subtlety) exploits Megan Fox's hotness to the max. As if she weren't enough, a new sex kitten (Isabel Lucas) is thrown into the equation. Shia LaBeouf is as charismatic as ever, and fills the starring role with ease. And then there's the humour. Sam's parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White)provided some semi-raunchy laugh-out-loud moments in the first movie, but now they take it to the next level. Sometimes it seems like they are trying a little too hard, but it is still hilarious. As far as the “plot” goes, the writers didn't waste much time--it's really just a context for the giant-robot death matches and dramatic slow-mo sequences. The movie kicks off two years later where the Autobots have formed an alliance with the U.S. government, creating an elite team led by Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel), in an effort to snuff out any remaining Decepticons that show up. The bad guys keep coming, and it turns out that a much more menacing force than Megatron is out there--and it is looking for something on Earth that is tied to the very origin of the Transformers race. Fans of the franchise will be delighted by the addition of many new robot characters (there are well over 40 in the sequel, versus only 13 in the first). The second Transformers has shaped up to be one of the worst reviewed and most successful movies of all time. This strange pairing is really just an indication that this movie has one purpose: to entertain. The creators didn't want to waste time bogging down the action and drama with substance--which was arguably a good decision. --Jordan Thompson
Appleseed | DVD | (01/01/2005)
from £5.15 | Saving you £12.50 (62.50%) | RRP
The brainchild of leading anime creator Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell) 'Appleseed' is a post-apocalyptic science fiction epic brimming with fast-paced action and awe-inspiring visuals! It's 2131 AD and the future of the human race hangs in the balance. Female soldier Deunan Knute has survived a major war that has pushed the earth to the brink of destruction. Located in a bombed-out urban wasteland Deunan is transported to the Utopian city of Olympus and reunited with her form
Alvin And The Chipmunks 2 - The Squeakquel | Blu Ray | (12/04/2010)
from £4.99 | Saving you £20.00 (80.00%) | RRP
Alvin and The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel brings back our favourite furry brothers Alvin Simon and Theodore. Because of a freak accident involving Alvin and Dave Seville they go to live with Dave Seville's cool cousin Toby and must enrol in school just like every other kid. School presents new challenges to these rock stars like dealing with peer pressure school sports and of course girls! By girls we mean the Chipettes who are managed by Ian Hawke the Chipmunks greedy former manager who wants to turn them into the next big thing. At the outset there is a rivalry between the Chipettes and the Chipmunks but in the end they realize that they make great friends and a great musical team!