A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith.
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray.
The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo (Cert 18, 151 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99).
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Steven Berkoff, Yorick van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic, Joely Richardson.
Discredited journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) accepts a commission from reclusive industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). The old man is haunted by the disappearance of his great-niece Harriet almost 40 years ago and he hopes that the hack will be able to deduce who abducted and killed the teenager. Taking up residence on the Vanger estate, Blomkvist begins his investigation, aided by computer expert Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), who has valuable insights to the case. Together, the unlikely sleuths follow a trail of secrets and lies, trusting no one as skeletons tumble out of the Vanger closet. Familiarity breeds nagging comparisons rather than contempt in David Fincher's English-language remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Arriving just two years after Niels Arden Oplev's acclaimed adaptation, this version oozes style from the eye-catching opening credit sequence, which marries Trent Reznor's electro re-working of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song with startling images of oil slithering over body parts and modern technology. Fincher's film is certainly eye-catching but also as emotionally cold as the barren lands where the case unfolds. Craig's charisma-free portrayal is scarred by fleeting, half-hearted attempts at an accent. Thankfully, Oscar nominee Mara is beguiling as the tattooed and pierced avenging angel, although she falls short of Noomi Rapace's heartbreaking interpretation in the Scandinavian version. Plot mechanics, which creaked two years ago, still haven't been oiled here by screenwriter Steven Zaillian. He remains faithful to Stieg Larsson's novel, including unsettling scenes of sexual abuse, but does depart dramatically from the source text for a cute, conventional ending.
Rating: *** The Lady (Cert 12, 127 mins, Entertainment In Video, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, Jonathan Woodhouse, Jonathan Raggett, Htun Lin, Agga Poechit, Benedict Wong, Marian Yu.
In 1998, Aung San Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh) is a housewife living in Oxford with her husband Michael (David Thewlis), a university lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, and their two children, Alexander (Jonathan Woodhouse) and Kim (Jonathan Raggett). When news reaches Kyi about the poor health of her mother (Marian Yu), she flies to Burma and becomes embroiled in the national uprising. "Not all historians get to be a part of history in the making," a colleague excitedly tells Michael as his wife opts to stay in Burma and spearhead the pro-democracy movement. In retaliation, the Burmese government denies Michael and the boys entry visas, hoping that Kyi will leave the country to be with her loved ones. However, General Ne Win (Htun Lin) underestimates Kyi's unwavering resolve. The Lady is a sweeping love story based on the life of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Burmese political activist, who lived under house arrest for more than 15 years. Unfortunately, documented fact doesn't lend itself particularly well to exhilarating cinema. Kyi's enforced isolation results in repetitive scenes of Yeoh shedding tears in close-up as Burma's national heroine makes telephone calls back home to learn the fate of her loved ones. Thewlis delivers a similarly rousing performance but Luc Besson's direction is uninspired, and Rebecca Frayn's script is occasionally hampered by cryptic musings on the human condition: "A saint is only a sinner that keeps on trying." The lead actors certainly keep on trying but their efforts amount to little more than a chocolate box re-imagining of Kyi's remarkably selfless and idealistic crusade.
Rating: *** The Son Of No One (Cert 15, 90 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, Drama/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Juliette Binoche, Ray Liotta, Katie Holmes, Jake Cherry, Brian Gilbert, Tracy Morgan.
Thirty-something cop Jonathan White (Channing Tatum) lives with his wife Kerry (Katie Holmes) and young daughter on Staten Island. He is assigned to the 118th precinct in his old neighbourhood, Queens, just as local reporter Loren Bridges (Juliette Binoche) publishes a series of highly damaging, anonymous tip-offs about the police cover-up of two murders 16 years ago. The accusations cause friction in the precinct and give Captain Marion Mathers (Ray Liotta) a major headache. While Bridges continues to print stories from her unknown source, who Jonathan thinks is his childhood friend Vinny (Tracy Morgan), veteran Detective Charles Stanford (Al Pacino) finds himself at the centre of the furore. Buried evidence returns to haunt Jonathan and the officer must do whatever it takes to protect his reputation and, more importantly, his family. The Son Of No One is a gritty crime thriller undone by wild deviations from logic and a fractured chronology that repeatedly harks back to the troubled times of young Jonathan (Jake Cherry) and his pal Vinny (Brian Gilbert). Tatum, sporting a fetching moustache, is strangely muted and devoid of his usual charm. There's scant screen chemistry with Holmes, whose performance errs towards the hysterical, while Oscar winners Pacino and Binoche are wasted in their malnourished roles. Writer-director Dito Montiel, who previously worked with Tatum on A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, appears untroubled by the gaping holes in his narrative, side-stepping each inconsistency in the forlorn hope that out of sight is out of our befuddled minds.