This week’s DVD picks: From musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again to Elvis Presley documentary The Searcher

MAMMA Mia! Here We Go Again is the headline act of this week’s very musical Sun DVD reviews but Elvis Presley also finally gets the documentary he deserves in The Searcher, and Kevin Bacon’s back boogying in Footloose.

Meanwhile there’s animated kids’ fun in The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales, and heartbreak in Pili, while there’s classic rereleases for Gosford Park, Prince Of Darkness and Gas Food Lodging.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

(PG) Out Nov 26

Amazon

Watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again with the singalong option on full blast[/caption]

Lily James is the winner who takes all the plaudits as the young Donna (played by Meryl Streep in the first film) in this sequel to Abba’s musical juggernaut.

We see how she ended up with three potential dads for Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who is struggling in the present to continue her mum’s legacy.

It’s silly, lightweight, and the singing is surprisingly ramshackle in parts – it feels like listening to a karaoke version of the superior originals.

But it’s got Cher and Andy Garcia, the casting of the younger versions of the original’s stars is pretty spot-on, and it’s all undeniably fun. Especially with the singalong option on full blast…

★★★★
Jayme Bryla
☆☆☆
Jayme Bryla’s neighbours

The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales

(U) Out Nov 26

Amazon

Bill Bailey, Celia Imrie, Phill Jupitus, Matthew Goode and Adrian Edmondson are among the stars lending their voice talents to The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales[/caption]

This trio of quirky tales delivers much fun and antics among a group of forest animal friends.

There are many slapstick moments and attempts to thwart the Big Bad Fox and other foes while they cause havoc in the woods.

Their adventures bring unity and friendship amongst the woodland creatures in this lovely animated series.

Bill Bailey, Celia Imrie, Phill Jupitus, Matthew Goode and Adrian Edmondson are among the stars lending their voice talents.

★★★★
Audrey Comely-Pike (age 6) and dad Anthony

Elvis Presley: The Searcher

(12) Out now
More than 40 years after his death, Elvis has finally got the documentary he deserves
Amazon

He may be the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll but, amazingly, there has never been a definitive documentary about Elvis Presley.

The Searcher is an attempt to plug that Blue Suede Shoe-sized gap with the help of hours of unseen footage from the Graceland vaults.

It’s an epic three-and-a-half hour sweep through the icon’s life told by a starry line-up of commentators including Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and ex-wife Priscilla.

The focus is kept firmly on Elvis’s music and cultural impact – so anyone hoping for the usual pill-popping, junk-food-scoffing cliches will have to look elsewhere.

But what emerges is a lovingly curated study that strips away the lardy jumpsuited caricature to show a prodigiously talented performer struggling to cope with unprecedented levels of fame.

More than 40 years after his death, Elvis has finally got the documentary he deserves.

★★★★
Clive Andrews

Pili

(12), Out Nov 26
Pili is powerful and thought-provoking and features only one trained actor and a 70 per cent HIV-positive cast
Amazon

How much would you be willing to risk to better your child’s life?

Single mum-of-two Pili, who works the fields in rural Tanzania for less than £1 a day, has to ask herself just that when she is offered the chance to rent out a sought-after market stall.

With just two days to get the deposit together, Pili – who is secretly living with HIV – is forced to make tough choices, with serious consequences.

Though the pace can be a little slow, this ambitious film – which features only one trained actor and a 70 per cent HIV-positive cast – is powerful and thought-provoking.

★★★☆☆
Nimmi Maghera-Rakhra

Prince Of Darkness

(15) Out Nov 26
The most compelling aspect of the 1987 film, now restored for Blu-ray, is the soundtrack, once again composed by Carpenter himself
Amazon

Compared to Carpenter’s other works, this one feels slightly wanting.

The second part of his “Apocalypse Trilogy” (bookended between The Thing and In The Mouth Of Madness), Prince Of Darkness follows a group of student scientists who are asked to investigate a mysterious canister found in the basement of a dead priest’s house.

Over the course of their research, they discover that the canister contains the embodiment of all evil and it’s trying to escape by possessing them.

Despite Carpenter’s skill in the genre, the spark that made The Thing so gripping is missing here. The majority of the characters aren’t particularly interesting – with the exception of Donald Pleasance’s priest, who is torn between his faith and the revelations that are slowly brought out over the course of the film.

The most compelling aspect of the 1987 film, now restored for Blu-ray, is the soundtrack, once again composed by Carpenter himself. It matches the tone of the story to a tee and manages to make the otherwise unadventurous film genuinely gripping enough to keep you entertained from start to finish.

Also included on the film’s dual discs are an audio commentary with the director and producer, and an analysis of some of the more thrilling scenes.

Prince If Darkness isn’t necessarily going to fill you with fear or excitement, and it certainly shouldn’t be used to introduce a newcomer to Carpenter’s works, but it is one to watch once you’ve made your way through some of the more iconic pieces.

★★★☆☆

Graham Osborne

 

Footloose

(15) Out now

If you haven’t seen this 1984 classic before, it’s well worth a watch
HMV

Big-city kid Ren loves to boogie, so he is horrified when he moves into a small town where dancing is banned.

Soon Ren, played by a fresh-faced Kevin Bacon, is stirring up a new spirit of anarchy among his school chums.

They must battle the uptight local preacher to win back their school prom and the right to dance.
This classic sort-of musical boasts some brilliant songs and dance numbers.

If you aren’t tapping along by the time it gets to Ren’s angst-ridden strut through a deserted warehouse, you need to ask yourself if you have a soul.

Fun performances from Bacon and John Lithgow as the Bible-bashing Rev Moore.

If you haven’t seen this 1984 classic before, it’s well worth a watch. It’s now available as part of HMV’s exclusive Retro Classics range of 50 iconic films from 1975 to 1990.

Each features a new-line retro look with 12 of the titles also available in Blu-ray.

★★★★
David Bullock

Gas Food Lodging

(15) Out now
Despite the negatives, Gas Food Lodging is still an enjoyable watch
Amazon

Life can be boring in the New Mexico desert. Gas Food Lodging, which is set there, is also fairly monotonous.

It follows the day-to-day life of waitress Nora (Brooke Adams) as she struggles to bring up her two teenage daughters, Trudi (Ione Skye) and Shade (Fairuza Balk), after being abandoned by their father.

The emphasis throughout this 1992 drama, now rereleased on Blu-ray, is constantly on the people.

The relationship between man and woman is explored heavily – sex, love and romance come and go for all three of these women, despite being at distinctly different points of their lives.

All three intermingle into an admittedly predictable storyline, accompanied by acting that leaves a lot to the imagination.

Despite the negatives, Gas Food Lodging is still an enjoyable watch, an interesting premise tinged with heart-warming nostalgia and an ending that will knock you for six.

★★★☆☆
Alex Smith

Gosford Park

(15) Out Nov 26

Amazon

Gosford Park is a Rubik’s cube of rivalry and resentment, with an Oscar-winning script by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes[/caption]

Robert Altman’s sprawling, stately period ‘whomdunit’ gets a welcome hi-def revival on Blu-Ray.

The 2001 film is a Rubik’s cube of rivalry and resentment, with an Oscar-winning script by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

The imperious Maggie Smith dry-runs her Dowager Countess amid a murderers’ row of British screen royalty, including Kristin Scott-Thomas, Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon.

Downton devotees will get their fix of cloche hats and chamber pots, though the upstairs-downstairs social commentary is as subtle as a candlestick to the head.

Beautifully shot and artfully plotted, the only frustration is that with such a packed ensemble, talents such as Tom Hollander and Charles Dance feel criminally underused.

★★★★
Charlie Wright

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