March DVD/VOD Review Round-up
Including Broadchurch, Wolf Hall, The Imitation Game, '71, Horns, Nightcrawler, The Sound of Music and more
The second series of Broadchurch (Acorn) ●● has already been much discussed but unfortunately we concur: it's a mess. The courtroom drama veers all over the place while everyone involved in the old Sandbrook case suddenly seems to remember vital clues they neglected to mention two years ago. Characters seem to act without motive or logic as the story dictates. Such as shame as the first series had the nation gripped but series two wastes its talented cast as David Tennant and Olivia Colman still make a formidable double act.
The BBC's Wolf Hall (2entertain) ●●●● on the other hand is the epitome of quality British drama. The story of Henry VIII told via the perspective of Oliver Cromwell (Mark Rylance) is a restrained, deliberately paced, mesmerising piece underpinned by Ryance's understated lead.
The Imitation Game (Studiocanal) ●●●● is a fascinating portrait of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his work breaking the Nazi's Enigma code during World War II. Cumberbatch is on top form bringing to life the myriad aspects of this complex character and definitely deserved that Oscar nod. There's another powerhouse performance from Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (Entertainment One) ●●●● that was criminally overlooked by the Academy. A twitchy loner who becomes an ambulance chasing cameraman. Not only is Gyllenhaal spellbinding but Nightcrawler is also offers a cutting indictment of television news values.
Jack O'Connell proves why he's a young British actor to keep an eye on in '71 (Studiocanal) ●●●●. A routine jaunt into IRA territory soon spirals out of control, the young inexperienced soldiers retreat leaving O'Connell behind. It's Black Hawk Down Belfast style. Scottish playwright Gregory Burke's gritty drama doesn't take a partisan political stance, if anything it's critical of the heavy handed British occupation of Northern Ireland, highlighting the political and ideological quagmire that underpins this tense thriller.
Our regular horror slot is toplined by Horns (Lionsgate) ●● which sees Harry Potter, sorry Daniel Radcliffe, spouting horns that convince anyone he meets to tell him their darkest secrets. Radcliffe is somewhat miscast as the tortured Ig but there's plenty of black comedy to be derived from these unholy confessions as he attempts to solve the murder of his girlfriend (Juno Temple). Produced by Eli Roth and directed by Jon Watts Clown (Studiocanal) ●●●● features a cursed clownsuit that turns anyone who wears it into a slathering demon. Watts somehow turns this ridiculous idea into a dark, scary, perfectly pitched black comedy. Wolves (Altitude) ●●● is Teen Wolf with bite as a high school quarterback (Lucas Till) goes on the run after the death of his parents. It's kinda daft and the wolf make-up is a bit too cute and cuddly but Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Conan) makes for an imposing pack leader.
The Book of Life (20th Century Fox) ●●●● is a refreshingly different animated kids movie produced by Guillermo Del Toro. Mixing spaghetti westerns and Mexican mythology with a quirky sense of humour and a superb mariachi soundtrack. Visually inventive, especially when they reach the Land of the Dead, setting it apart from the world of Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar.
We end on a literal high note: The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox) ●●●●●. The timeless classic is still utterly charming, packed with a plethora of singalong showtunes, this 50th anniversary blu-ray comes complete with a new documentary The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg. 'The hills are alive…'