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Latest Blu-ray reviews

leon

Leon: Special Edition

Price: £24.99 Sound: DTS-HD Director: Luc Besson Starring: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman

Rare is it that a viewing of Leon goes by without someone wishing they were an assassin. And not because Luc Besson’s film wilfully glamorises the profession either, more that there seems to be an enviable simplicity to the protagonist’s lifestyle: wake up, do some exercise, put on coat, feed plant, kill someone, buy milk. In truth, we could probably do without the killing part of the routine but we would then worry that we were just an oddly healthy bum.

Much like its gun-toting hero’s lifestyle, Leon is a pleasingly simple affair. He’s an assassin who takes in a vengeful orphan and develops a loving relationship with her. Some Gary Oldman-led corruption then goes down and before you know it you’re smack bang in the middle of a brilliantly taught, sublimely paced, emotionally engaging thriller. Simple stuff, yet utterly brilliant.

Why then, when the film’s strength so clearly stems from its lack of baggage, would you release a director’s cut that adds more stuff? Why would you release another version of a film that’s already widely accepted as being superb only to interfere with its neat and tidy structure? Luc Besson clearly has his reasons (presumably they’re to do with further exploring the previously well-handled central relationship) but there can be little question that this version of the film worsens the experience. It could be argued that the additional footage develops the audience’s pity for a character whose life was so empty that it could so easily invite such complication but this only really demonstrates a lack of faith in the original cut’s otherwise obvious ability to do such a thing sufficiently.

That said, this does include both versions and the director’s cut doesn’t entirely detract from the film’s qualities. The economical style and heartfelt characters that compose most of Besson’s film are still there in abundance, as are the moments of severe tension and drama that made this film what it still is: a classic.

Rating: 5/5

NUP_107038_0132

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series

Price: £149.99 Sound: DTS-HD Director: Various Starring: Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, Edward James Olmos

Science fiction can be many things, but mostly it’s fodder for the popcorn-munching masses. Every so often, however, a show or film will come along that has just that bit more ambition than the rest, and as a result restores your faith in what the genre is capable of. This politically allegorical show is just such a thing and although it frequently dawdles about a point there can be little doubt that it has earnt its place in the pantheon of great sci-fi TV.

Rating: 4/5

gremlins

Gremlins

Price: £17.99 Sound: DTS-HD Director: Joe Dante Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton

It seems too long since a decent comedy horror in the vein of Tremors or Gremlins has reared its mutated head at the box-office. Perhaps this anniversary edition of Joe Dante’s much-loved classic will prompt a small revival – it would certainly be welcome anyway. In parts endearing, in others mischievous, this film about a cute exotic pet that births vicious slimy terrors is nothing more than an enjoyably light-hearted horror competently made but, frankly, that’s all that’s expected.

Rating: 2/5

coraline

Coraline

Price: £19.99 Sound: DTS-HD Director: Henry Selick Starring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Keith David

Good animation should be at least one of two things: entertaining or intelligent, but preferably both. Despite its intentions and considerable style, however, Coraline doesn’t display either of these qualities in any significant quality. Telling the tale of a bored young girl drawn into a strange but apparently wonderful alternate reality, it feels too much like a short story stretched to breaking point. Its characters are shallow and uninteresting, the conceit is mostly insubstantial and although the execution is refreshing that alone isn’t enough to compensate.

Rating: 2/5

fringe

Fringe

Price: £59.99 Sound: DTS-HD Director: Various Starring: Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Noble

JJ Abrams may have struck gold with the recent Star Trek reboot but his involvement in this tired, mechanical investigative series doesn’t inspire great confidence in the Abrams’ brand. Following the adventures of a special division as they seek out criminals operating on the fringes of science, this is a charmless spawn of The X-Files that, despite its high production values and one or two nifty ideas, will engage only the most forgiving and undemanding of audiences.

Rating: 2/5




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