A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
StreetDance 2 (Cert PG, 81 mins, Entertainment One, Romance/Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99/2 Film DVD Box Set £19.99/3D Blu-ray £19.99)
Starring: Falk Hentschel, Sofia Boutella, George Sampson, Tom Conti.
Talented street dancer Ash (Falk Hentschel) seizes his one shot at glory during a high-profile competition but falls flat on his face in front of a booing crowd and reigning champions Invincible. Dusting himself off, Ash meets wise-cracking Eddie (George Sampson), who suggests they join forces to create a crew from around the world with the potential to dethrone Invincible. So the young men criss-cross Europe, seeking out the most imaginative, daring and supple performers to fill the ranks of their ramshackle squad. Arriving in sun-dappled Paris, the dancing duo meets bar owner Manu (Tom Conti) and his sexy niece Eva (Sofia Boutella). "We could come up with a fusion of street and Latin that no one has seen before!" gushes Ash, who must learn to dance as part of a crew rather than as a soloist. StreetDance 2 is energetic and undemanding, recycling the linear plot of the first film but replacing the jetes and pirouettes of ballet with the swivelling hips of salsa and the tango. Dialogue is simplistic and supporting characters are defined by signature moves rather than anything that could be considered personalities. Hentschel and Boutella are easy on the eye, performing seductive, slow-motion duets with the minimum of clothing to a soundtrack of contemporary dance floor anthems. Conti provides welcome comic relief, making clear to Ash the repercussions for letting down Eva. "If you hurt her, I will break your legs," he growls in a cod-Spanish accent resurrected from his glory days in Shirley Valentine that is worth a despairing giggle. A two-disc set comprising the original StreetDance and the sequel is also available.
Bel Ami (Cert 15, 98 mins, Studio Canal, Romance/Drama, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, Philip Glenister, Holliday Grainger, Natalia Tena.
Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) harks from lowly stock and arrives in 1890s Paris with barely two francs to rub together. He is taken under the wing of friend Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister), who lands the ambitious upstart a position on a newspaper and introduces Georges to the elegant drawing rooms where Charles's wife Madeleine (Uma Thurman) and friends Virginie Walter (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Clotilde de Marelle (Christina Ricci) hold court. Dressed in a jacket paid out of Charles's deep pockets, Georges surmises that if he is to gain a foothold in polite society, he must seduce these women and exploit their influence. So he hops from one bed to the next, securing opulent lodgings as his underhand scheme reaps rewards. Bel Ami is a tepid adaptation of the 19th century novel by Guy de Maupassant about an amoral journalist who clambers up the social ladder in Belle Epoque Paris by sleeping with neglected wives and daughters of the men who wield power. Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod's handsomely crafted period piece has heaving bosoms and straining britches aplenty, and the tantalising sexual promise of tour-de-force performances from an impressive ensemble cast. Alas, while Pattinson hones the mournful pout of his vampire from the Twilight saga, he lacks sexual chemistry with any of his co-stars, making a mockery of his anti-hero's ability to reduce lovers to swooning, gibbering wrecks. Female cast are hampered with two-dimensional roles that squander their abundant talents. Bel Ami hopes to arouse passions like Dangerous Liaisons but the lack of palpable eroticism on screen quickly dampens our ardour.
Wild Bill (Cert 15, 94 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Drama/Action/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Starring: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Sammy Williams, Liz White, Leo Gregory, Neil Maskell, Iwan Rheon, Olivia Williams, Jaime Winstone, Jason Flemyng.
After an eight-year stretch behind bars, Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles) is granted parole and he nervously returns to the tower block he shared with his family. Bill discovers that his ex-wife has abandoned their two children: 15-year-old Dean (Will Poulter) and 11-year-old Jimmy (Sammy Williams). The older boy is working illegally on a building site to keep food on the table. Bill accidentally reveals to his case worker (Olivia Williams) that his boys have been home alone for months and social workers Helen (Jaime Winstone) and John (Jason Flemyng) descend with the intention of taking the minors into care. So Dean hurriedly blackmails his father into staying around long enough to keep the authorities off their back. Will Bill is a gritty tale of retribution and reconciliation, shot largely on the mean streets of east London, which marks the assured directorial debut of actor Dexter Fletcher. Creed-Miles and Poulter anchor the film with terrific performances. "I felt bad about missing your birthday," pleads Bill. "Which one?" coldly snaps his teenage son. Wounds are gradually salved with the minimum sickly sentiment, and Fletcher finds moments of beauty amid the grime, such as a lovely scene of Bill and Jimmy throwing paper aeroplanes off their balcony. Fletcher and co-writer Danny King fashion a story of familial strife and bad choices peppered with some cheeky one-liners ("The usual: 10 pints, two grams and a punch-up?") Even though some of the characters are undernourished, Wild Bill signals Fletcher as a talent behind the camera as well as in front of it.