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Anton van Beek  |  Jan 25, 2013  |  0 comments

Frank Henenlotter's gory skid row shocker about a young man and his monstrous Siamese twin doesn't seem like an obvious choice for a hi-def remaster. But we're pleasantly surprised by the fidelity of the AVC 1.33:1 1080p encode and how it helps reinforce the grain and grime of the original 16mm footage. The two bigger-budget sequels fare better in terms of AV, although the quality of the actual films dips with each instalment. A refreshingly frank 79-minute examination of the making of the trilogy is the pick of the set's copious extras.

Anton van Beek  |  May 02, 2014  |  0 comments

While this TV drama about the formative years of a young Norman Bates naturally owes a great debt to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, it's really far more of a spiritual sibling to David Lynch's legendary Twin Peaks. As for this two-disc Blu-ray set – the show's stylish cinematography holds up very well, with each hi-def platter hosting five richly-detailed 1.78:1 1080p encodes. Aiding these are classy DTS-HD MA 5.1 mixes that add plenty of atmosphere. Extras take the form of deleted scenes and a 50-minute Q&A with the main cast and crew.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 11, 2011  |  0 comments

Battle: Los Angeles desperately wants to be the Hurt Locker of alien invasion movies. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t. Despite all of the attempts at cinema vérité-style naturalism on show here (shaky-cams and crash zooms abound) there’s none of the intelligence of Kathryn Bigelow’s film at work here. Instead what we have is a traditional gung-ho action flick that feels more like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - The Movie, only replacing fictional Middle Eastern-types with equally fictional extra-terrestrial invaders. That’s not to say the film isn’t fun. Behind all of the lazy characterisation and obvious plotting lies 116-minutes of enjoyable action and spectacle – just the thing then for those of you who have got bored of spinning ID4 on Blu-ray over and over again.

Anton van Beek  |  Nov 12, 2012  |  0 comments

It was hardly a surprise that the success of the Transformers films spurred toy maker Hasbro into searching its warehouses for other properties to turn into potential blockbusters. But who would have ever thought that at the top of its list of contenders would be the board game Battleship?

Anton van Beek  |  Dec 11, 2012  |  0 comments

The second of the BFI's 'The Soviet Influence' releases is notable for marking the UK HD debut of that best-known of all Soviet films – Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. While still riddled with damage, the stability and clarity of the 1.33:1 image (encoded at the authentic 18fps) is pretty special. Joining …it is Drifters (shown below), a UK film about a fishing fleet that draws visual inspiration from Eisenstein's classic, plus three extra short films (all also restored in 1080p). A booklet of essays is also included that helps put the films in context.

Anton van Beek  |  Mar 26, 2018  |  0 comments

Given the appalling reception it received from critics when it belly-flopped into cinemas this Summer, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this bigscreen Baywatch remake must surely rank among the worst films ever made. You'd be wrong. True, it's not some kind of underrated masterpiece, but providing you're in the mood for some deliberately crude, cheesy and over-the-top hijinks, peppered with knowing winks to the original TV series, then Baywatch is more than capable of tickling your funnybone.

Anton van Beek  |  Mar 03, 2013  |  0 comments

Oscar-nominated indie film that's either a heart-warming piece of fantasy-drama or a cynically romanticised look at black rural poverty, depending on your point of view. Here at HCC we're caught somewhere in the middle. While the 16mm source hardly makes for the glossiest hi-def experience, those who take to the film's pop music video aesthetic will find plenty to admire in the accuracy of the textured, grainy AVC 1.78:1 1080p encode. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is far more cutting-edge, bringing the film's reanimated prehistoric creatures (seriously) to life with relish. Extras include a 22-min Making of..., a 15-min featurette on the cast, nine deleted scenes with optional commentary, the trailer and a 26-min short film.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 04, 2017  |  0 comments

When Disney first announced its plans to create live-action versions of its classic animated movies, it was accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth from film fans who wondered why they were bothering. But with the provocative Maleficent, witty Cinderella and spectacular Jungle Book, the studio has shown a willingness to tackle familiar stories in refreshingly new and surprising ways.

Anton van Beek  |  Nov 10, 2010  |  0 comments

Beauty and the Beast ranks up there amongst Disney’s animated crown jewels. A critical and commercial smash, this charming film even held the distinction of being the only animation to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award until Pixar’s Up got the nod earlier this year.

Anton van Beek  |  Sep 16, 2011  |  0 comments

The undisputed king of the Biblical epics, William Wyler’s Ben-Hur may have turned 50 a couple of years ago, but it remains as fresh, exciting and spectacular as ever. Charlton Heston’s son Francis sums the film’s success up best in one of the accompanying extras, saying, ‘Ben-Hur, in a sense, I think was the first modern epic. It was realistic. It was, at times, gruesome. It had characters with flaws in them. It was complex. It was character driven-not event-driven’. And the film’s lasting impact can be felt across the past half-century of cinema, from the films of David Lean to The Phantom Menace’s pod race.

Anton van Beek  |  Feb 04, 2013  |  0 comments

This tense psychological thriller stars Toby Jones as an English sound engineer working on the audio mix for a horror film in '70s Italy. Heavily indebted to the films of Argento, Fulci and their ilk, it's an impressive homage, albeit one that can't quite deliver a suitably grandiose pay-off to its escalating build-up. The BD offers satisfyingly rich and warm AVC 1.85:1 1080p visuals, plus plenty of extras, but (fittingly) the real star is the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, with its almost fetishistic attention to detail and uncanny ability to unsettle in a way visuals rarely manage.

Anton van Beek  |  Dec 13, 2015  |  0 comments

The day before he becomes a teenager, 12-year-old Oscari (Onni Tommila) is sent off into the Finnish woods with a bow and arrow in order to prove himself a man. Despite being barely able to pull back the string on his weapon, Oscari dreams of bagging a bear just like his father once did. Instead, he finds himself having to help save beleaguered President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) when Air Force One is downed by terrorists.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 31, 2015  |  0 comments

Boy genius Hiro Hamada is content to while away his talents building robots to compete in illegal brawls until his older brother Tadashi invites him along to see the work he's been doing at the 'Nerd Lab' at San Fransokyo Tech. There he introduces Hiro to fellow students Go-Go, Honey Lemon and Wasabi, as well as Baymax, a cuddly nursing robot he has been working on.

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 19, 2014  |  0 comments

When truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) agrees to help rescue a kidnapped girl from a street gang in San Francisco's Chinatown, he thinks he's simply helping out a friend. But wherever Burton goes trouble is never far behind, and before long he's caught up in a plot involving a trio of supernaturally-powered killers and an ancient Chinese sorcerer with a thing for green-eyed girls.

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 06, 2013  |  0 comments

Tom Courtenay gives one of the defining performances in British cinema as the titular dreamer in Schlesinger's brilliant 1963 satire. This celebratory hi-def release is a rather more modest success than the film itself, with the monochrome AVC 2.35:1 1080p imagery lacking the sharpness and detailing that you might expect from a high-profile remaster of this type. Also present on the Blu-ray platter is a reasonable batch of extras including various interviews and a look at some early written material by Billy Liar author Keith Waterhouse.