blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 29th March 2010



2012 (Sony Pictures): Roland Emmerich’s latest big-budget blockbuster sees an ancient Mayan prophecy come true as Earth’s techtonic plates unleash global destruction after a solar flare. An alarmed US government scientist (Chiwetel Ojiofor) discovers the disaster; a limousine driver (John Cusack) struggles to protect his family amidst the chaos; the US president (Danny Glover) tries to be stoic; the chief of staff (Oliver Platt) enacts a secret plan and various other characters all respond differently to the coming apocalypse.

Although the film isn’t in any danger of winning any awards for acting or screenwriting, the set pieces are impressively rendered and the sheer scale of CGI destruction is a sight to behold, even if there are too many ”just in the nick of time’ escapes.

The transfer to Blu-ray is excellent and although sometimes high definition can spotlight weak visual effects, here they stand up very well indeed with tsunamis, earthquakes and collapsing buildings and all manner of destruction coming across in pristine detail.

The extras are fairly extensive too, the most notable being the BD-Live™ enabled movieIQ, which allows you to access updated information on the film’s cast, crew, production and soundtrack while watching the film. [Buy the Blu-ray | Buy the DVD]

Blu-ray Special Features

  • movieIQ and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie
  • Interactive Mayan Calendar – Enter a date to reveal your horoscope and personality profile! Delve even further into the secrets by watching Mysteries of the Mayan Calendar
  • Picture-In-Picture: Roland’s Vision-Includes Pre-Visualization, storyboards and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with filmmakers, cast and crew
  • Commentary with Writer/Director Roland Emmerich and Co-Writer Harald Kloser
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Designing The End Of The World
  • Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic
  • Science Behind The Destruction
  • The End Of The World: The Actor’s Perspective

DVD Special Features

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Roland Emmerich and Co-Writer Harald Kloser
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Roland Emmerich: The Master of the Modern Epic

Stargate (Optimum): The other Roland Emmerich release of the week is his 1994 sci-fi adventure about an academic (James Spader) and a military unit (headed by Kurt Russell) who venture through a teleportation gateway to another planet.

The third collaboration between director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin – they had worked Moon 44 (1990) and Universal Soldier (1992) – was on a bigger budget and they crafted something more entertaining and polished. Here you can see the roots of the mega sci-fi success they would have with Independence Day (1996) – although we’ll politely ignore Godzilla (1998).

Stargate was one of the first Lionsgate Blu-ray releases back in August 2006, but that had hardly any extras and the audio was only lossy DTS High Resolution. This version has both the theatrical and the extended cuts of the movie, and four hours of extras, including three new featurettes, a trivia track, and a gag reel. [Buy the Blu-ray]

The Informant (Warner Home Video): Steven Soderbergh’s latest film bears some resemblance to Erin Brockovich (2000), an entertaining exposé of real life corporate chicanery concerning a biochemist (Matt Damon) who in 1992, became an informant for the FBI after his company got involved in price fixing.

What makes it unusual is the breezy comic tone and the extraordinary behaviour of the central character (who seems to be an undiagnosed manic depressive). Much of the comedy comes from the continual frustration of the FBI with their star witness who often tells the truth, but unfortunately mixes it with lies. It got a rather muted reception on the festival circuit last year, but Damon shows great comic timing in the central role, whilst Marvin Hamlisch’s score and the distinctive visuals (shot by Soderbergh under his regular pseudonym Peter Andrews), all add to the mix. [Buy the Blu-ray | Buy the DVD]

Homicide – Life On the Street: The Complete Series (Fremantle Home Entertainment): Fans of The Wire can now enjoy the first TV series that was inspired by the reportage of David Simon, as this box set includes all 122 episodes spread over 33 discs. A dark and realistic crime series that ran from 1993-1999, it was adapted from Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, the non-fiction book based on his experiences with a Baltimore Police Department homicide unit.

The action centres on the homicide division of an inner-city Baltimore police station, with a large and fluid cast passing through the precinct’s door during the series’ seven seasons on the air. Simon was a consultant and producer on the series and although not as good as The Wire, it is still one of the landmark US TV shows of the 90s. [Buy the DVD]



Bunny and the Bull (Optimum) [Buy the Blu-ray | Buy the DVD]
Cracks (Optimum) [Buy the Blu-ray | Buy the DVD]
Planet 51 (EV) [Buy the Blu-ray | Buy the DVD]
South Park: Series 13 (Paramount) [Buy the Blu-ray]
The House of the Devil (Metrodome Distribution) [Buy the Blu-ray | Buy the DVD]
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Lionsgate UK) [Buy the Blu-ray | Buy the DVD]
Catweazle: The Complete Series
(Network) [Buy the DVD]
Extreme Prejudice (Optimum) [Buy the DVD]
Glorious 39 (Momentum Pictures) [Buy the DVD]
Godzilla (Sony Pictures) [Buy the Blu-ray]
Holly (Soda Pictures)
Impact (Sony Pictures) [Buy the DVD]
Jason and the Argonauts (Boulevard Entertainment Ltd) [Buy the DVD]
Johnny Handsome (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Buy the DVD]
Seraphine (Metrodome Distribution) [Buy the DVD]

The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
UK cinema releases for Friday 26th March including The Blind Side and Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 20th November 2009

New Moon / A Serious Man / The Informant!



The Twilight Saga: New Moon (E1 Entertainment): The second instalment of the Twilight saga based on the mega selling books by Stephenie Meyer sees vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) leave for Italy in order to protect Bella (Kristen Stewart) who is consoled by her friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) who turns out to have secrets of his own.

If you have no idea what any of this means then you probably aren’t a teenage girl. But female fans (of whom there are many) are going to make this one of the biggest films of the year and swell the coffers of UK distributor E1 Entertainment. (Read my full thoughts on the film here). [Vue West End & Nationwide / 12A]

A Serious Man (Universal): The Coen Brothers explore the late 60s Minnesota of their childhood with this tale of a Jewish maths professor named Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg). It explores his struggles with a hectoring wife (Sari Lennick), her annoying widower lover (Fred Melamed); a leeching brother (Richard Kind); a pothead son (Aaron Wolff ); dithering academic colleagues and a succession of perpetually useless rabbis.

After the Oscar success of No Country For Old Men, they have made one of their most personal films, a rich and superbly crafted tale with stunning technical contributions across the board. Easily one of the best films to come out this year it also ranks alongside Fargo and No Country as one of the Coens’ very best. How it does at the box office is another matter but it fully deserves Oscar and BAFTA recognition. (Read my full thoughts on the film here.) [C’World Haymarket, Curzon Soho, Odeon Covent Gdn. & Nationwide / 15]

The Informant! (Warner Bros.): Based on the so-bizarre-it-has-to-be-true story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a corporate whistle blower in the 1990s who helped expose a price fixing scam despite being a compulsive liar.

Stylishly directed by Steven Soderbergh, it is smart, funny and evocative of the 1990s. Matt Damon is superb in the lead role and look out for some fine supporting performances from the likes of Melanie Lynskey and Scott Bakula. [Nationwide / 15]



Glorious 39 (Momentum Pictures): A mysterious tale set around a traditional British family on the eve of World War Two, starring Romola Garia, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie and directed by Steven Poliakoff.  [Odeon West End & Key Cities from November 27th / 12A)

The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life (Metrodome): A sprawling French drama centered around five keys days in a family’s life directed by Rémi Bezançon. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus, Genesis Mile End & Key Cities / 15]

Machan (Yume Pictures): Hindi film about a love story with a terrorist angle starring Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Vivek Oberoi. [Empire Leicester Square / 15]

The Sea Wall (Axiom): A drama about a teenage girl who has an affair with a worldly older man in 1920s French Indo-China based on a Marguerite Duras novel. Isabelle Huppert stars. [Apollo Picc Circus, Cine Lumiere, Curzon Renoir & Key Cities]

Southern Softies (Northern Pics/Chick Ken): A travelogue by John Shuttleworth, in which he visits the Channel Islands. [Gate Notting Hill, Greenwich Picturehouse, Ritzy & Key Cities]

Examined Life (ICA Films): A documentary examining life with the help of modern thinkers. [ICA Cinema & selected Key Cities]

Ulysses (Contemporary Films): A re-issue for director Joseph Strick’s bold attempt to film James Joyce’s famously ‘unfilmable’ novel. [Barbican / 15]

> UK cinema releases for November 2009
> Get local showtimes via Google Movies UK
> UK DVD & Blu-ray picks for this week including Fanny and Alexander, Star Trek, Moon, For All Mankind and North By Northwest (W/C Monday 16th November 2009)