A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
American Pie: Reunion (Cert 15, 113 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/1, 2, 3 & Reunion DVD Box Set £29.99/Blu-ray £24.99/1, 2, 3 & Reunion DVD Box Set £37.99)
Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Charlene Amoia, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Dania Ramirez, Chuck Hittinger, Jay Harrington.
Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) and his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) head back to East Great Falls to attend their 13-year high school reunion in the company of Oz (Chris Klein), who is now a minor television star, house husband Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and eternal wanderer Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). The arrival of Heather (Mena Suvari) and her cardiologist beau (Jay Harrington) piques Oz's jealousy, while Kevin is nervous to see old flame Vicky (Tara Reid). Meanwhile, sex-obsessed man-child Stifler (Seann William Scott) is up to his old tricks, hankering after one girl he crassly remembers as "the mouth that got away". The fourth and hopefully final slice of the American Pie series hankers for the past, placing the thirty-something characters in the same cringeworthy situations that end with Jim trapping his manhood in a laptop or another member of the gang being spattered with bodily fluids. Pert breasts and male appendages abound, shrouded in the usual sniggering schoolboy humour that still believes the lead character harpooning a warm apple pie with his lower portions is the dizzying pinnacle of bad taste. It's one helping of filth too far for most of the characters, dooming them to repeat old mistakes or, in the case of Kevin and Finch, do nothing at all worthy of inclusion. Whenever writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Jason Schlossberg hark back to happier times in the late 1990s, when Jim's charmingly innocent yearbook entry stated he hoped "to have the sex life of Ricky Martin", we're reminded how little the actors have achieved in the intervening years. A four-disc box set comprising the original American Pie and the three sequels is also available.
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! (Cert U, 84 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Animation/Family/Comedy, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Featuring the voices of: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen, Russell Tovey, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Brian Blessed, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry.
The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) is the leader of a ragtag group of seadogs, whose enthusiasm far exceeds his questionable ability to plunder booty. His ship-shape subordinates include Pirate with Scarf (Martin Freeman), Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson), Albino Pirate (Russell Tovey) and Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen), whose glaringly obvious gender is concealed behind a false beard. To prove the naysayers wrong, The Pirate Captain sets out to capture a Bank of England treasure ship but inadvertently storms The Beagle and captures a young Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and his primate manservant, Mister Bobo. The scientist leads the pirates on a merry dance that might just end with the beleaguered Captain taking home the coveted Pirate Of The Year prize. Five years in the making, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists showcases the extraordinary craftsmanship of Bristol-based Aardman Animations to bring this colourful world vividly to life in stop-motion, cramming backgrounds with detail and sly visual gags that warrant a second or even third viewing. Grant is a snug fit for the misguided Captain and supporting cast have fun with their slender roles, including Brian Blessed in suitably bombastic form as the Pirate King. The script, adapted by Gideon Defoe from his book, walks the gangplank of belly laughs and gentle emotion. For all its dazzling qualities, there's no escaping a nagging feeling that this madcap voyage drops anchor short of the brilliance of Aardman's earlier works. Wallace and Gromit can sleep easy: they have not been usurped in our affections.
Safe (Cert 15, 90 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Action/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, James Hong, Chris Sarandon, Anson Mount, Robert John Burke, Reggie Lee.
NYPD officer Luke Wright (Jason Statham) is betrayed by dirty cops in his precinct under the control of Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke). Doomed to live on the streets like a hobo, Luke contemplates suicide on a Metro platform where he encounters mathematical genius Mei (Catherine Chan), who is being used by Han Jiao (James Hong) as a counting machine to keep track of the Triads' assets. When the Russian mob snatches Mei in order to steal Triad secrets, Luke intervenes, all guns blazing. Little does he realise that Mei also holds the key to the upcoming re-election of Mayor Tremello (Chris Sarandon), who is a political pawn at the mercy of his conniving chief of staff, Alex Rosen (Anson Mount). Safe is a testosterone-fuelled game of cat and mouse on the mean streets of New York, where Statham gleefully tosses out salty one-liners ("I've been in restaurants all night - all I got served was lead!") in his trademark growl in between pummelling myriad henchmen to a bloody pulp. The Derbyshire-born actor catalyses pleasing screen chemistry with Chan, who is old enough to put her co-star well and truly in his place, when the flimsy script allows. Action sequences careen towards preposterousness at every turn as the leading man takes on every heavily armed bad guy within a five-mile radius of Manhattan with only fists and nifty footwork to protect him. As the title of Boaz Yakin's film intimates, the slickly orchestrated bone-crushing mayhem is bland and overcooked comfort food for Statham's legion of admirers.
The Cold Light Of Day (Cert 15, 89 mins, Entertainment One, Action/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Echegui, Caroline Goodall, Rafi Gavron, Emma Hamilton, Joseph Mawle.
Business consultant Will Shaw (Henry Cavill) joins his father Martin (Bruce Willis), mother Laurie (Caroline Goodall), younger brother Josh (Rafi Gavron) and his girlfriend Dara (Emma Hamilton) on board the family yacht in Spain the very same week his company is threatened with bankruptcy. Will's phone continually trills and Martin throws the device overboard so the consultant swims ashore to acquire a new device. Upon his return, Will discovers his loved ones have been abducted and CIA agent Jean Carrack (Sigourney Weaver) and her henchman Gorman (Joseph Mawle) are somehow involved. With less than 24 hours to rescue his family, Will places his trust in beautiful stranger Lucia (Veronica Echegui) to guide him through Madrid's teeming streets. The Cold Light Of Day is a pedestrian spy thriller that casts itself in the mould of The Bourne Identity but falls pitifully short on every count. Mabrouk El Mechri's film is an interminable bore, lacking suspense, solid performances or a coherent plot. Continuity errors abound - Will's swim bag has miraculous vanishing powers - and every role is woefully undernourished. Cavill delivers pivotal lines without any trace of feeling. A tearful telephone call might as well be a discussion about the weekly shopping list considering the absence of anguish in his face and voice. Like a block of chiselled marble, he's beautiful yet stone cold. Willis smirks throughout, perhaps amused by how much money he has been paid for this rubbish. Car chases appear to be conducted within European speed limits, despite the best efforts of composer Lucas Vidal to crank up the tempo with his generic score.