Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nathan's Lazy Sunday DVD Review - The Reader, REC2, Bad Lieutenant

This week we are faced with Nazis, rage addled zombies and drug induced iguanas!

First up we have the Oscar nominated The Reader, starring Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet. The film opens in West Germany in 1958, where we meet Michael Berg (played by David Kross), a teenager who is on his way home from school after feeling sick. In a chance encounter he meets Hanna Schmitz (Winslet) who helps him home. Once he is recovered he returns to thank her for her help, and they embark on an affair.

The Reader moves between Michael Berg as a teenager (and later as a law student) and as an adult (Feinnes) in 1980s and 1990s. The affair blossoms as Michael borrows books from school to read to Hanna as he visits her more and more frequently. When Hanna leaves him one day Michael is left to come to terms with his feelings. Years later he would learn a shocking truth about Hanna's past.

This is a very moving and beautiful film, with Winslet and Fiennes delivering cultured performances we have come expect. Young David Kross, a relatively unknown German actor, is also exceptional in his role. If you fancy something with a little slower pace and intelligent story, this is one for you.

Rating 4/5

Next is REC2 the sequel to the highly scary and successful Spanish horror. For those who don't know, the series follows a virus outbreak in an apartment building. The virus is highly contagious (although not airborn) and when the residents are infected they become highly violent "zombies". The first film concerned itself with the initial outbreak, and followed a TV reporter documenting the events for her show, with all the action being seen through the cameraman's viewpoint.

This sequel is set immediately after the events of REC and follows a SWAT team as they go into the building to locate survivors and investigate what has gone on. We also follow a trio of teenagers who live in the building, as the break in to find out what is happening. The SWAT team are joined by a priest, who has ulterior motives. Through REC2 we discover more about the origin of the virus and how they intend on stopping it.

I am a big fan of the found footage genre, and the first REC is one of the best out there. REC2 started a little slowly and as event unfolded I was a little concerned this wasn't going to live up to the first, but as it got going I realised this is a great addition to the series. Without giving spoilers it evolves the story naturally and sets the viewer up for the next films REC3: Genesis and REC4: Apocalypse.

Obviously being Spanish it is in subtitles and I know this will put people off. If you haven't seen REC then you may wish to try "Quarantine" which is an American remake of the original, and is very similar. If you like it then come on over to REC2.....they're waiting for you!

Rating 4.5/5

Finally we have Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. Cage plays Sergeant Terrence McDonagh, who is promoted to Lieutenant following his heroic work saving a prisoner trapped after Hurricane Katrina, but suffers a serious back injury in the process. He is prescribed vicodin, which he will probably need to take for the rest of his life to deal with the pain.

The film shoots forward several months where we meet Terry McDonagh again, now with a slight hunch, and it is soon clear that he has become addicted to the painkillers, and is a habitual user of recreational drugs. What follows is a crazy ride as McDonagh investigates a multiple homicide, whilst also dealing with his personal demons, including his estranged alcoholic father, and prostitute friend/lover played by Eva Mendes.

I had heard many good things about this film and was looking forward to it. Unfortunately it let me down a little. First
ly I was expecting more from Nic Cage. I am not his biggest fan to be honest, however I know on his day he is capable of exceptional work (Leaving Las Vegas, Matchstick Men hell even Con Air), but I just didn't enjoy him in this. Given the premise of the film, I was hoping for a full on bat shit crazy performance, but it was only in fits and spurts.

The film didn't flow very well either, and overall I was just left a bit underwhelmed by a film which could have been so much more.

Rating 2.5/5

See you next week DVD Players!

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