This time around: Steven Spielberg goes inside the Oasis in Ready Player One, Wes Anderson takes us to the Isle of Dogs, Paddy Considine is a Journeyman, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski go to A Quiet Place, Dwayne Johnson goes on a Rampage and Paul Verhoeven goes medieval in Flesh And Blood.
Blu-ray Review: Ready Player One
If anyone was going to direct an adaption of Ernest Cline’s Ready Play One then it had to be Steven Spielberg. Cline’s book is a love letter to ’80s movies and pop culture and Spielberg produced and directed some of the decade’s most iconic flicks through his Amblin imprint ( Back To The Future, The Goonies, Gremlins, E.T et al.). Strangely, this computer quest movie is lacking the soul that made those ’80s movies so popular and Spielberg is on autopilot here, letting a plethora of CGI animators do much of the heavy lifting.
Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn all do solid work but this is all about the visuals. There’s a lot of spectacle on display with plenty of Easter Eggs thrown in to keep eagle-eyed viewers hooked for the next pop culture fix. The stand-out might be the sequence set in The Shinning‘s Overlook Hotel.
You get plenty of behind-the-scenes action but like the movie, it’s all a little soulless.
Blu-ray Review: Isle Of Dogs
Wes Anderson’s stop-motion feature is a little gem of a movie. It might be animated, but this exceptionally put together comedy isn’t just for kids. In fact, it’s doubtful they’d even enjoy this wonderfully dry Japanese dog movie. Like with Anderson’s live action pics, this has a cast to die for: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban and others.
Movies In Focus are rarely does animation – but this is a mini-masterpiece.
Blu-ray Review: Journeyman
Paddy Considine writes and directs this first-rate drama. Considine is Matty Burton, a boxer who suffers a serious head injury during his final fight that throws his life into chaos. Recovering from his injuries, he must rebuild life from the ground up, when everything around him falls apart. Considine is exceptional in the lead role, delivering a knock-out performance (he also gets serious points for script and direction). He’s matched round-for-round by new Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker who also resonates as Matty’s loving (yet conflicted) wife. The duo make for a killer-combo, making what could have been a generic boxing drama a must-see piece of cinema.
Journeyman might sound like tough going (it’s not), but this is a little film which really deserves to be seen by the widest audience possible.
The blu-ray comes with deleted and extend scenes, a strong Considine commentary and interviews.
Blu-ray Review: A Quiet Place
John Krasinksi’s A Quiet Place is a strong entry into the current wave on top tier horror movies. This virtually dialogue free thriller sees a family hiding from sound-driven creatures in rural America. Krasinski keeps the tension tight, while both he and real-life wife Emily Blunt put in good work as the parents working to keep their family safe.
A Quiet Place has shades of I Am Legend and M.Night Shyamalan’s Signs. It’s a clever little piece of genere fair which hits the right notes and ticks all the correct boxes.
DVD Review: Rampage
Dwayne Johnson spanks a very large monkey in this pretty terrible Brad Peyton directed actioner. Rampage sees Johnson tackle a giant ape, wolf and alligator in this cheap looking (but very expensive) CGI fuelled video-game adaptation. This is so dull, even the usually charismatic Johnson seems bored with the whole thing. The only person who seems to be engaged is Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who appears to be channeling Tommy Lee Jones’ turn in The Fugitive (minus any possibilioty of an Oscar nomination).
Rampage has an uneven tone, with the violence lurching from cartoon-like to oddly horrific. This makes for a confusing film, which doesn’t seem to know if it’s for kids or ADD adults. Somebody might enjoy this thing – but it wasn’t me.
Blu-ray Review: Flesh & Blood
Nobody does sex and violence quite like Paul Verhoeven and he’s in his element with this medieval drama starring Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh. This tale of revenge and religion might not be Verhoeven at his best, but there’s fun to be had with this good-looking drama. Sure, it’s a little unfocused but Hauer and Leigh make an engaging leading pair and any Verhoeven is better than no Verhoeven at all.
This Eureka Cinema blu-ray is wonderful. The extras include a commentary by Paul Verhoeven, a documentary and interviews with Verhoeven, Rutger Hauer, screenwriter Gerard Soeteman and the film’s late composer Basil Poledoris.