A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (Cert 12, 110 mins, Entertainment One, Fantasy/Action/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Two-Disc Limited Edition DVD £22.99/The Complete Collection DVD Box Set £34.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £25.99/The Complete Collection Blu-ray Box Set £54.99) Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Mackenzie Foy, Christopher Heyerdahl, Maggie Grace.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) gradually acclimatises to her heightened powers as a vampire and to her new life with husband Edward (Robert Pattinson), best friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and the Cullen clan. Alas, Edward's cousin Irina (Maggie Grace) mistakenly identifies Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) as an immortal child - an abomination under ancient law. Irina reports her fears to the Volturi, the vampire counsel led by Aro (Michael Sheen), Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl), and they amass an army to slay Renesmee and anyone who shelters the child. The Twilight Saga: Treading Water would be a more apt title for this final chapter in the series, considering how scriptwriter Melissa Rosenberg manages to expand 30 minutes of plot into almost two hours of anticipation and dread. Stewart and Pattinson stare dreamily into each other's eyes to an angst-heavy soundtrack of Green Day, Ellie Goulding, Christina Perri and Feist. Lautner appeases fans with another scene of gratuitous nudity, while Sheen devours the very expensive scenery with a twinkle in his eye. The climactic battle royale between the diabolical Volturi and the Cullens is certainly spectacular and director Bill Condon, who also helmed Part 1, orchestrates this special effects-heavy mayhem with verve. Airborne vampires and snarling werewolves tumble acrobatically across the screen locked in brutal combat. Were these brave warriors anything but otherworldly creatures, who miraculously don't bleed when injured, the relentless on-screen carnage would merit a 15 certificate. A five-disc box set comprising all of the Twilight films, including an extended edition of Breaking Dawn - Part 1, is also available.
Amour (Cert 12, 122 mins, Artificial Eye, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud.
Elderly married couple Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are enjoying a balmy retirement with occasional visits from their daughter (Isabelle Huppert). The gentle ebb and flow of life in the couple's Parisian apartment is shattered when Anne suffers a minor stroke during breakfast. She cannot remember anything about the attack and thinks her husband is pulling her leg when he recounts the upsetting incident. Gradually Anne's condition deteriorates and she makes clear her suffering - "I don't want to go on..." - compelling Georges to consider the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love. Writer-director Michael Haneke has never shied away from the uncomfortable, harsh realities of modern life and here he crafts a heartbreaking love story threaded with raw emotion, tenderness and regret that is almost too much to bear. Amour charts the couple's final days and weeks with unflinching honesty, refusing to look away as the doting wife is rendered an empty shell and Georges clings on to memories of the past to prevent him sinking into the depths of despair. The film delights in the minutiae of Georges and Anne's relationship - those small, seemingly insignificant moments that come to mean so much as the wife drifts away. Trintignant and Oscar nominee Riva are stunning, and Haneke's direction is flawless, tender yet resolutely unsentimental, deservedly earning the Austrian film-maker a cluttered mantelpiece of awards, including the Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Film In A Foreign Language.
End Of Watch (Cert 15, 104 mins, Studio Canal, Drama/Thriller/Action/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99/Steelbook Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99) Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, David Harbour, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, Cody Horn.
Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) patrol the mean streets of Los Angeles. Like their Sarge (Frank Grillo) and fellow cops Van Hauser (David Harbour), Orozco (America Ferrera) and Davis (Cody Horn), the buddies accept that the killing will never cease. When Brian and Mike uncover a trafficking operation run by a local cartel, they are marked for death. "You just tugged on the tail of a snake that's going to turn round and bite you," warns a DEA agent, but Brian and Mike ignore the warning signs, endangering not only themselves but also their sweethearts, Janet (Anna Kendrick) and heavily pregnant Gabby (Natalie Martinez). End Of Watch is an unremittingly bleak portrait of life in uniform that patrols the same beat as writer-director David Ayer's previous films (Training Day, Dark Blue, Harsh Times, Street Kings). Despite the opening title card - "Once upon a time in South Central..." - this tour of the city streets with the men and women of the LAPD is no fairytale. Villains don't get their comeuppance, beautiful heroines are slain before clocks chime midnight and the only people living happily ever after are the pimps and drug dealers. Gyllenhaal and Pena are convincing as men who would take a bullet for each other, chewing on Ayer's potty-mouthed dialogue, including a hilarious anecdote about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thrilling action sequences are orchestrated with brio but familiarity with Ayer's work ultimately breeds weariness.
Here Comes The Boom (Cert 12, 100 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Comedy/Romance/Action, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Bas Rutten, Greg Germann, Mark DellaGrotte, Charice.
Scott Voss (Kevin James) teaches biology at Wilkinson High School, which is weathering severe budget cuts. The school's music programme run by Marty Streb (Henry Winkler) is threatened with closure, which would mean terminating the beloved teacher's tenure. Determined to help his colleague and retain a subject that the students adore, Scott vows to cover the 48,000 dollar budget shortfall by entering the lucrative world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The losing fighter in a high-profile MMA bout can take home as much as 10,000 dollars and Scott hopes that he can call upon his past as a collegiate wrestler to raise the cash and save the music programme - presuming his 42-year-old body doesn't crumble under the barrage of kicks and punches. Here Comes The Boom is a preposterous, testosterone-fuelled comedy that values brawn over brains. Frank Coraci's film contrives a romance between Scott and the fiery school nurse (Salma Hayek), who has rejected countless overtures but softens as soon as she sees her paramour being pulverised for a good cause. Violence begets lust, it would seem. James and Hayek do not share any palpable on-screen chemistry but director Coraci persists in bringing them together. Once the central character strips off for his first bout and the script trades punch lines for bone-crunching punches, the physical humour and gooey romance sit awkwardly next to sweat-drenched fight sequences. Matron might get hot and bothered by the brutality but viewers will struggle to smile when the joker in the film's pack is being repeatedly pummelled to a bloody, disoriented pulp.
Fun Size (Cert 12, 86 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, Comedy/Romance/Action, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Victoria Justice, Jane Levy, Osric Chau, Thomas Mann, Jackson Nicoll, Thomas McDonell, Chelsea Handler, Thomas Middlemarch, Abby Elliott, Johnny Knoxville, Josh Pence.
Wren (Victoria Justice) is thrilled when dreamboat classmate Aaron (Thomas McDonell) invites her to his Halloween party. Excitement is swiftly extinguished when Wren's mother Joy (Chelsea Handler) reveals she is going to a party with her 27-year-old toyboy (Josh Pence), condemning the teenager to babysitting her destructive little brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll), who hasn't spoken since their father died. Suitably aggrieved, Wren heads into the night dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz with best friend April (Jane Levy) and Albert, dressed as Spider-Man, in tow. At a haunted house, Wren loses her little brother and she encourages April and debate team school mates, Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau), to help her search for the oddball tyke before Joy finds out. Taking its title from a slogan on Albert's t-shirt, Fun Size doesn't stray far from a well trodden path of peer pressure, redemption and nervous first snogs. Josh Schwartz's film doesn't concern itself with such trifles as genuine emotion crafted around a nub of painful self-reflection. So long as a nerdy guy with a heart of gold gets a beautiful girl by the end credits, all is well in this fantasy world of rocking house parties and flatulent frat boys. Justice is suitably perky and Mann is a likable love interest, who has held a torch for her from afar. Levy tosses out the snarky one-liners while Nicoll affects an impish grin as he runs amok. Set pieces involving a replica musket, a chicken drumstick and Roosevelt's asthmatic cat are risible.