DVD OF THE WEEK
Fast & Furious 7 (Cert 12, 132 mins, Universal Pictures, Action/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/7-Movie Collection DVD Box Set £49.99/Blu-ray £24.99/Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray £29.99/7-Movie Collection Blu-ray Box Set £74.99 or on-demand from various streaming services)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Luke Evans.
Corrupt British soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) is on life support in a London hospital and his older brother Ian (Jason Statham) vows revenge against Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their crew. Ian hacks into the computer of federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to ascertain the whereabouts of the team and doles out a near fatal pummelling to Hobbs in the process. Meanwhile, Dominic’s crew prepares for war. “It looks like the sins of London followed us home,” growls the bad boy, who reunites with his sweetheart Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), fast-talking Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and technical wizard Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) to neutralise the threat posed by Owen, with help from a hacker called Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). Fast & Furious 7 is dedicated to the memory of Walker, who died halfway through filming. His unfinished scenes have been respectfully completed using previously unseen footage or digital trickery. Diesel and co continue to display superhuman strength and resilience, surviving spectacular crashes with barely a graze, while Statham plies his usual brand of muscular destruction. Screenwriter Chris Morgan’s desire to top the outrageous set pieces of previous films repeatedly sacrifices realism, going for broke when he hopes to persuade us that Dominic’s crew could skydive their motors into position on a winding mountain road by driving out of an airplane and opening parachutes attached to their plummeting vehicles at the last second. It’s an understatement when one of the characters whoops, “I can’t believe we pulled that off!” A seven-disc box set comprising all of the films in the series is also available.
A Royal Night Out (Cert 12, 97 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, Comedy/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Starring: Sarah Gadon, Bel Powley, Jack Reynor, Rupert Everett, Emily Watson, Jack Laskey, Jack Gordon, Roger Allam, Ruth Sheen.
Winston Churchill announces the end of the Second World War. Jubilant crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace where King George VI (Rupert Everett) is preparing a radio address with encouragement from Queen Elizabeth (Emily Watson). Their daughters, Princess Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Princess Margaret (Bel Powley), yearn to celebrate with the people but the Queen is resistant. Eventually, Princess Elizabeth persuades her father to let them venture out for one night and the girls excitedly don their frocks flanked by a military escort: Captain Pryce (Jack Laskey) and Lieutenant Burridge (Jack Gordon). By chance, the princesses elude their chaperones and head into London on their own where Elizabeth finds an unlikely protector: a deserter called Jack (Jack Reynor), who isn’t a fan of people of privilege. Based on true events, A Royal Night Out is a heart-warming comedy of manners, which embellishes fact with outlandish fiction under the jaunty direction of Julian Jarrold, who previously unbuttoned the stifled emotions of the era in the 2008 remake of Brideshead Revisited. Gadon is luminous in a restrictive role, while Powley has considerably more fun as the rebel, who brandishes her superlative of choice - “wizard!” - with plummy gusto. Screenwriters Trevor De Silva and Kevin Hood predominantly opt for laughter rather than lamentation, and they are careful not to offend with a simmering romantic subplot between Elizabeth and Jack. An air of wistful nostalgia blows through every frame of Jarrold’s perky picture, which is neatly timed for release in the 70th anniversary year of VE Day.
Unfriended (Cert 15, 83 mins, Universal Pictures, Horror/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99 or on-demand from various streaming services)
Starring: Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Will Peltz, Renee Olstead, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman.
It is the one-year anniversary of the death of California high school student Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), who committed suicide after someone posted a humiliating video of her at a party.
Laura’s best friend Blaire (Shelley Hennig) is on her laptop, enjoying an intimate video chat with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm). Their flirtation is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of friends Adam (Will Peltz), Jess (Renee Olstead) and Ken (Jacob Wysocki) for a group conflab.
Blaire notices that an uninvited user with the screen name billie227 has gate-crashed the conversation. The friends assume it is a technical glitch.
Soon after, Blaire and her posse receive cryptic messages, some apparently from Laura’s dormant Facebook account. “You each have dirty little secrets,” explains billie227 in a message. “I want to expose them.”
Directed by Levan Gabriadze and written by Nelson Greaves, Unfriended is a sleek horror which pits a group of high school students against an online predator.
The film sustains dramatic momentum but does have a couple of unintentionally hilarious moments like when Blaire is directed to a web forum dramatically headlined: DO NOT ANSWER MESSAGES FROM THE DEAD.
In a neat stylistic twist, the cyber-bullying unfolds on the laptop of the heroine. Browser windows, video chat links and instant messengers open and close on her cluttered desktop with a click of her track pad button, seemingly in real time.
By exploiting technology from a first-person perspective, Unfriended keeps us at a safe distance from the blood-curdling terror, which lessens the impact of the obligatory jolts but still manages to send an occasional chill down the spine.
Girlhood (Cert 15, 113 mins, Studio Canal, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99 or on-demand from various streaming services - see below)
Rosewater (Cert 15, 103 mins, The Works Distribution, Drama/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99 - see below)
NEW TO BUY ON DVD/BLU-RAY AND ON-DEMAND
Hitting The Apex (Cert 12, 131 mins, Universal Pictures, DVD £12.99/Three Film DVD Box Set £19.99/Blu-ray £15.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Documentary)
Mark Neale, director of the MotoGP documentaries Faster and Fastest, remains on two wheels for this fascinating portrait of six riders who risked life and limb in their pursuit of world championship glory. Narrated by Brad Pitt, the film intercuts behind-the-scenes footage and revealing interviews with key protagonists including rising star Marc Marquez and fierce rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, who recalls his friendship with Italian racer Marco Simoncelli who died in 2011 following a crash in the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. A three-disc box set comprising Faster, Fastest and Hitting The Apex is also available.
Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure (Cert E, 180 mins, Spirit Entertainment, DVD £19.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Special Interest)
In this three-part ITV1 series, actress Joanna Lumley continues to explore the globe, venturing 6,400 miles from Hong Kong to Moscow via Europe and Asia. As she travels along the Trans-Siberian Railway, the presenter savours breath-taking sights including China’s Great Wall, the Gobi Desert and Moscow’s Red Square, plus she meets interesting inhabitants such as Mongolia’s nomads and throat singers.
Rookie Blue - Season Five Volume One (Cert 15, 450 mins, Entertainment One, DVD £29.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Drama/Thriller)
Two lives hang in the balance at the beginning of the fifth series of the Canadian police drama, which traces the rise and fall of five rookie cops from the fictional 15 Division in Toronto. In these 11 episodes, officers Sam Swarek (Ben Bass) and Chloe Price (Priscilla Faia) are shot in the line of duty, sending shockwaves through the department. Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym) and her fellow rookies must remain professional and focussed as they realise that all of their hours of training have not prepared them for the harsh reality of life on the city streets.
Ambassadors - Series 1 (Cert 15, 175 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Comedy)
David Mitchell and Robert Webb reunite for this three-part BBC Two comedy drama set in the fictional Asian country Tazbekistan. Ambassador Davis (Mitchell) and his deputy Tilly (Webb) carry out their duties at the embassy with trepidation, occasionally angering the locals like when they accidentally kill an ibex, the country’s national animal. International relations deteriorate after an uprising erupts during the president’s platinum jubilee celebrations. The DVD includes the episodes The Rabbit Never Escapes, The Prince’s Trousers and The Tazbek Spring.
Maxine Peake As Hamlet (Cert 12, 180 mins, Spirit Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Drama)
Recorded live at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester in autumn 2014, Sarah Frankcom’s stripped down, modern dress staging of Shakespeare’s blood-smeared tale of loyalty, love, betrayal, murder and madness stars the formidable Maxine Peake as the young Prince of Denmark, who exacts a terrifying revenge for the death of his father. His murderous uncle Claudius (John Shrapnel) and mother Gertrude (Barbara Marten) feel the full force of Hamlet’s wrath, while innocent Ophelia (Katie West) is also sucked into the vortex of hatred from which there is no escape.
Girlhood (Cert 15, 113 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Drama/Romance)
For her compelling third feature, French writer-director Celine Sciamma tackles another coming-of-age story, but this time her protagonist is considerably older and wrestling with issues of identity, sexuality and race in the neighbourhoods of Paris. Sullen teenager Marieme (Karidja Toure) lives at home with her parents, who are at loggerheads, and her younger sister. She yearns to escape and express herself, and that opportunity arises when a gang of three girls led by Lady (Assa Sylla) invites Marieme to join the ranks. Slipping a kitchen knife into her pocket, Marieme finds the freedom she craves as part of the gang. The girls clash with fierce rivals and slink through the local shopping centre, where they invite the attentions of cute boys without compromising their ability to behave exactly as they please.
Rosewater (Cert 15, 103 mins, The Works Distribution, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Drama/Thriller)
Jon Stewart, sardonic former host of The Daily Show, makes an impressive directorial debut with this dramatisation of the real-life detainment and interrogation of an Iranian-Canadian journalist, based on the memoir Then They Came For Me by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy. From his base in London, journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) travels to Tehran to report first-hand on the violence during the presidential election. Tensions are evident and protesters clash with the police, suffering brutality and intimidation as a consequence. During his stint in the capital, Maziar gives a satirical interview to The Daily Show and he is subsequently arrested and detained. During his 118 days in confinement, he is blindfolded and forcefully interrogated by a nameless man (Kim Bodnia) with a rosewater scent, who has been tasked with extracting a taped confession out of Maziar that all western journalists in Iran are spies.
TOP 10 DVD RETAIL CHART
2. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
3. Far From The Madding Crowd
4. Fifty Shades of Grey: The Unseen Edit
5. The Theory Of Everything
6. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
7. The Imitation
8. Kingsman: The Secret Service
9. Shaun The Sheep - The Movie
10. Charlotte Crosby’s 3 Minute Belly Blitz
TOP 10 DVD RENTAL CHART
2. Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron
4. American Sniper
5. Kingsman - The Secret Service
7. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
8. Fifty Shades of Grey
9. Child 44
10. Get Hard
TOP 10 FILM STREAMING CHART
2. The Wolverine
3. The Internship
4. Pacific Rim
5. The Imitation Game
6. Despicable Me
7. The Dark Knight Rises
8. Man of Steel
9. The Heat