DVD, Blu-ray and TV

Army Of Darkness

The 'medieval dead' conclusion to Sam Raimi's legendary trilogy is more action/comedy than horror, with heroic amputee Ash (Bruce Campbell) wielding his trusty chainsaw on Sumerian demons back in the year 1300. The special effects are worthy of Ray Harryhausen, and the comedy's in a league of its own. Great fun!

Natural Born Killers: Director’s Cut

Oliver Stone in mind-fuck overdrive. Seven years after it provoked the most hysterical reactions to a movie since the '70s heyday of confrontational classics like A Clockwork Orange and Straw Dogs, NBK remains as violent, hilarious, unsettling, outrageous and awesome as ever. At the peak of his cinematic powers and throwing everything into an increasingly volatile mix, Stone reworks Tarantino's original plundering spin on the familiar Hollywood tradition of lovers on a killing spree and sheerly eviscerates it.

Battle Royale—Special Edition

Troublesome teens? Round them up at random, dump them on a deserted island, armed to the teeth, and force them to fight each other to death. It works brilliantly in Kinji Fukasaku's relentlessly violent and cheerfully tasteless satire, and is surely a public order initiative David Blunkett would approve of. DVD EXTRAS: Loads, including additional footage and alternative ending, Takeshi Kitano interview, filmographies and director interview. Rating Star (AJ)

Austin Powers In Goldmember

Third time around for Mike Myers' sweaty secret agent send-up, and the scattergun approach means two flat jokes for every live one. Still, he knocks down your resistance through sheer quantity: part Benny Hill, part Peter Sellers (although losing the fat Scotsman would do us all a favour). Beyoncé Knowles is the leg interest; cameos from Tom Cruise to, well, every current Hollywood name.

John Q

This'll be the one Denzel didn't win the Oscar for. His factory-worker Everyman holds up a hospital when the nasty insurance company won't help his dying son. Shades of Dog Day Afternoon, but an astounding cast (Robert Duvall, James Woods, Ray Liotta) can't stop director Nick (son of John) Cassavetes from descending into trite, teary sentimentality.

Cheech & Chong—Get Out Of My Room

Influenced by Spinal Tap as much as it is by cannabis, this 1985 mockumentary was the last thing the duo wrote as a team. Supposedly following them as they record their last album, the best parts are the on-the-couch interviews in which Cheech improvises pretentious answers while Chong tries not to laugh. The songs themselves aren't too funny unless you're baked, but then that's the point.

Rollerball

Die Hard director John McTiernan remakes the '70s extreme-sports classic with a sledgehammer where the subtle social comment should be. Chris Klein, the poor man's Keanu, is the Rollerball superstar learning that league-owner Jean Reno has all the morals of a snake. Loud, brash and dumb, though cameos by LL Cool J and Pink might thrill pop completists.

Monster’s Ball

Halle Berry's blubbing Oscar win shouldn't obscure the fact that this is a brave, harrowing film, echoing the intimacy of '70s cinema's heyday. Billy Bob Thornton is uncannily intense as a Death Row prison guard who cracks up when his son Heath Ledger can't handle his job. An odd coupling with convict's wife Berry may or may not redeem him. Inspirational.

The Shipping News

Not as bad as they said, until you hit the magic realism. Lasse Hallström is safer on the brief establishing scenes, and Newfoundland is refreshingly unfamiliar Both sadsack Kevin Spacey and closed Judi Dench endure a near-Theban family history in rotten weather. Journalists will savour the local paper.

Manic Street Preachers—Forever Delayed

While serving as a complete visual history of the Manics from their early days as glammed-up rock'n'roll agitators—with Richey-to their currently more statesmanlike demeanour, Forever Delayed also shows how perfectly video has suited their mix of music and protest. Live performance and increasingly sophisticated films and storyboarding are shot through with urgent messages, slogans, cut-and-paste docu footage and literary reference as the hits roll on.
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