A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith.
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray.
The Hangover Part II (Cert 15, 97 mins, Warner Home Video, Comedy/Action/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Two Film Collection DVD £22.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £26.99).
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Mason Lee, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Jamie Chung, Sasha Barrese, Gillian Vigman.
Dentist Stu Price (Ed Helms) has fallen madly in love with Lauren (Jamie Chung) and they plan to marry in a traditional ceremony in Thailand. Best friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper), Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) and Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) are invited and they take the long-haul flight with Lauren's 16-year-old brother Teddy (Mason Lee), who is destined for a career in medicine. After a late night, Phil, Stu and Alan wake in a sleazy Bangkok hotel room, with pounding headaches and no recollection of the night before. "It's happened again," moans Stu as the trio scours the city for Teddy, crossing paths with shady businessman Kingsley (Paul Giamatti), flamboyant criminal Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) and a larcenous monkey. The Hangover Part II is a tasteless, preposterous and ultimately pointless tale of East meets West, which careens from one improbable set piece to the next, including the concealment of a dead body and a high-speed car chase. The sequel rests lazily on its mouldering laurels, engineering familiar scenarios to inflict the maximum physical and emotional distress on the two-dimensional characters. Cooper's natural charm wilts in the heat, while poor Helms is the butt of most of the jokes, literally so for a sequence at a dancing club where the screenwriters become sniggering schoolboys. Galifianakis is obnoxious from his opening scene and we struggle to comprehend his presence at the wedding. The groom-to-be's showdown with his sneering father-in-law, who understandably doesn't want Stu polluting the gene pool, falls flat like the rest of the film.
Rating: ** Captain America: The First Avenger (Cert 12, 119 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, Action/Drama, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £27.99) Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer, Richard Armitage.
In 1942 Norway, diabolical German officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) steals a Cosmic Cube belonging to Odin and charges mad scientist Dr Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) with harnessing the Cube's power as part of his plans for world domination. Meanwhile in America, German defector Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) spearheads a secret programme to create the ultimate soldier. Asthmatic weakling Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is transformed into a muscle-bound hunk and he enthusiastically does his bit for the Allied effort by portraying a fictional character called Captain America at war rallies. When good friend James Buchanan (Sebastian Stan) is presumed dead behind enemy lines, Steve joins forces with playboy inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to parachute in behind enemy lines as Captain America and single-handedly take on the Germans. Captain America: The First Avenger establishes the origins of one of the most popular superheroes from the Marvel Comics stable, employing digital trickery to impose Evans's head on a scrawny body before his metamorphosis. Atwell makes her entrance by punching an insubordinate soldier in the face and she embraces her role as the gutsy love interest with fervour, sparking smouldering screen chemistry with Evans. Action sequences are orchestrated with aplomb, including a daredevil descent into a moving train. Director Joe Johnston has an arsenal of state-of-the-art digital effects at his disposal to spruce up the old-fashioned ideals in Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely's script. However, there's something rather charming about the underlying themes of self-sacrifice and valour.
Rating: *** The Smurfs (Cert U, 98 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Family/Comedy/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99/3D Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £29.99) Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria and the voices of Jonathan Winters, Anton Yelchin, Katy Perry, Fred Armisen, Alan Cumming, George Lopez.
As the Blue Moon Festival approaches, Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) experiences a horrifying vision of arch-nemesis Gargamel (Hank Azaria) imprisoning the entire Smurf village in cages. Soon after, Clumsy (Anton Yelchin) accidentally leads Gargamel and his cat Azrael to the village and the Smurfs flee for their lives. Papa, Smurfette (Katy Perry), Clumsy, Brainy (Fred Armisen), Gutsy (Alan Cumming) and Grouchy (George Lopez) stumble upon a portal, which sucks them into present-day New York. Luckily, kind advertising executive Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Mays) are on hand to help the Smurfs return to their village. Meanwhile, Gargamel gives chase through the portal and uses his dark arts to track down his diminutive prey. Based on the comic books by Peyo, The Smurfs brings the iconic characters to life on the small screen using the same digital magic as Alvin And The Chipmunks. Most of the comedy is aimed at younger viewers, such as Gargamel inspecting a portable loo and choking, "Somebody has been working dark and terrible magic in there." Harris and Mays are both endearing in thankless roles and the vocal performances are solid though unremarkable, including a self-referential moment for Perry when Smurfette coos, "I kissed a girl... and I liked it!" Azaria is camp rather than menacing, so younger viewers are unlikely to suffer nightmares. The 3D format, available on one version of the Blu-ray, isn't worth the additional cost.