DVD Review - April 7

DVD Review - April 7

DVD Review - April 7

First published in DVD Reviews

A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith.

New to rent on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Hugo (Cert U, 120 mins, Entertainment In Video, Drama, also available to buy DVD £19.99/3D Blu-ray £24.99).

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law, Ray Winstone.

Twelve-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is raised by his father (Jude Law), who has a passion for cinema and mechanical devices. The old man dies, leaving behind an intricate automaton, and Hugo is forced to live secretly in the station with his hard-drinking Uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), who maintains the clocks. When the bottle claims Claude's life, Hugo continues to tend the clocks while stealing food from shopkeepers without attracting the attention of the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). An encounter with bookish Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), goddaughter of toy shop owner Papa Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley), catalyses a journey of self-discovery that Hugo hopes will lead to a message from beyond the grave from his father. Adapted by screenwriter John Logan from Brian Selznick's book The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese's elaborate fantasy indulges the Oscar-winning director's passion for cinema, lovingly recreating films of the era and paying homage to the early pioneers, including the Lumiere brothers. Butterfield is an endearing if mournful central presence, contrasting with Moretz, who is luminous in every frame. Older cast struggle to put meat on the bones of their thinly sketched characters, while Baron Cohen's comic relief grates as much as it delights, including some surprisingly tender scenes with Emily Mortimer as the station florist. Reduced to 2D on the small screen, Robert Richardson's cinematography, Dante Ferretti's production design and Sandy Powell's costumes are dulled but Scorsese's efforts are undiminished, his camera swooping along the concourse of a train station or darting between whirring cogs of a giant clock. The Blu-ray version also includes the film in 2D format.

Rating: **** Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Cert U, 83 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Family/Comedy/Musical/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Alvin And The Chipmunks Collection DVD Box Set £24.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99/3D Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £29.99/Alvin And The Chipmunks Collection Blu-ray Box Set £34.99) Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate and the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris.

Dave (Jason Lee) heads off on a luxury cruise with singing critters Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) and the feisty Chipettes - Brittany (Christina Applegate), Eleanor (Amy Poehler) and Jeanette (Anna Faris). As usual, Alvin gets into various scrapes, incurring the wrath of the ship's captain and former manager Ian (David Cross), who works as the onboard pelican-suited entertainer. While Dave takes a nap, Alvin and the gang take flight on a kite and are blown on to a tropical island with an active volcano. There, they meet stranded DHL worker Zoe (Jenny Slate). While the chipmunks return to nature, Dave and Ian race against time to rescue the animals from their new home before it is covered in molten lava. Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked lacks the charm and energy of the earlier films and stranding the animals on an island is a flimsy contrivance to force Alvin to grow up. Lee is reduced to screaming Alvin's name at full volume whenever the titular chipmunk gets into trouble, while the two scriptwriters casually mix pop culture references with the obligatory toilet humour. The digitally rendered, helium-voiced critters warble at regular intervals to stave off our boredom, squeaking some of the biggest dance floor hits of the past 12 months, including Flo Rida's Club Can't Handle Me featuring David Guetta, Lady Gaga's Born This Way, LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem and Katy Perry's Firework. However, Mike Mitchell's zany sequel is a bit of a damp squib. The DVD is packaged with a pairs card game and stickers, plus three-disc sets comprising the original Alvin And The Chipmunks and the two sequels are also available.

Rating: *** The Deep Blue Sea (Cert 12, 95 mins, Artificial Eye, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, Ann Mitchell, Karl Johnson.

Hester (Rachel Weisz) is married to High Court judge William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale) but the fissures are clear to see. She begins a passionate affair with dashing former RAF pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston). The red-hot ardour slowly cools and while Hester vigorously pursues liaisons, he slowly draws back, leaving her to rake over the smouldering coals of the relationship and rue everything she has given up. Hester searches for enlightenment in a boarding house run by the imperious Mrs Elton (Ann Mitchell), where one of the other lodgers, Miller (Karl Johnson), also bears the scars of the past. However, the weight of Hester's guilt and despair slowly suffocates her until she reaches the point where she feels there is only one way out of the misery. Based on Terence Rattigan's 1952 stage play, The Deep Blue Sea looks exquisite and there are some artfully composed shots, such as the emotionally fragile heroine standing on the edge of a train platform, the flashes of light from passing carriages illuminating the pain etched on her face. However, the churn of emotions remains largely beneath the surface and director Terence Davies never dives deep enough so we can share the characters' intense desires and yearning. Weisz brings both beauty and vulnerability to her role but Hiddleston's performance lacks depth and Beale clearly demonstrates why he is best suited to the theatre. Samuel Barber's melancholic violin concerto underscores every longing glance and racked sob, nudging the pedestrian narrative towards its inevitable, downbeat resolution. The 95 minutes of soul-searching and regret feels considerably closer to two hours.

Rating: ***

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