February DVD Review Round-up
Including The Maze Runner, Love, Rosie, Gone Girl, Annabelle, Olive Kitteridge and more
We start this month's DVD round-up with the latest entry in the ever expanding world of young adult sci-fi. Unfortunately this burgeoning subgenre is becoming a bit formulaic and The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox) ●●● is very Hunger Games-esque but has a kooky enough premise to hook you in, basically a group of teenagers abandoned in the middle of a monster infested labyrinth. Dylan O'Brien is a likable enough lead and there's plenty of action to ensure you never get bored even if the plot doesn't really make logical sense.
Aimed at the same age bracket is Love, Rosie (Lions Gate) ● a sappy unrealistic rom-com. Lily Collins is bearable but love interest Sam Claflin is like a gormless budget Hugh Grant. Worst of all it treats the audience like idiots and papers over all misdeeds with a schmaltzy 'love conquers' all ending.
For more discerning viewers, Gone Girl (20th Century Fox) ●●●● is a super-stylised who/why-dunnit that reinforces David Fincher's love of wallowing in that all-too grey area between good and evil. Contrived for sure, and sometimes formulaic, it nonetheless sprints a long beautifully with Ben Affleck's chiselled pouting a joy to behold.
Keeping it classy Olive Kitteridge (Warner/HBO) ●●●● follows 25 years in the life of the eponymous Ms Kitteridge. The HBO miniseries weaves and meanders but Frances McDormand is truly outstanding as the often unlikable, spiky and blunt heroine with fantastic support from Richard Jenkins, as her husband Henry, perfectly capturing the joys and frustrations of small town life.
Fascinating documentary The Overnighters (Dogwoof) ●●●● examines the tensions between the local community and outsiders drawn to North Dakota after changes in fracking laws created a modern black gold rush. Focussing on Pastor Jay Reinke's attempts to house many of these dispossessed migrant workers. Whatever your religious views it's hard not to be impressed and moved by his attitude towards these sad, lost, broken people. Justly picking up a brace of awards in the US, including the Special Jury Prize at Sundance.
You might not know his name but anyone with even a passing interest in film will recognise Drew Struzan's work. His highly details posters epitomise the 70s and 80s with standout work on Star Wars, Back to the Future, Goonies, Indiana Jones and many more. Drew: Man Behind the Poster (Altitude) ●●● might be a bit dry but the quality of the talking heads (including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Michael J Fox and Harrison Ford) coupled with tons of images of his wonderful art make it eminently watchable.
From real docs to a fake documentary. The Rendlesham UFO Incident (Altitude) ●●● is a solid British entry in the already bulging found footage genre. You have to admire director and co-writer Daniel Simpson's efforts making this completely independent feature over several years. At times nailing a deeply disturbing atmosphere, however it also features an excess of blurry, crackling shaky cam footage. Staying with horror, The Conjuring spin off Annabelle (Warner) ●● is a 60s set haunted doll 'shocker' that unfortunately isn't scary. There are a couple of vaguely creepy moments but the bland leads really don't help matters. Frights for all the family in Norwegian action adventure Ragnarok: The Viking Apocalypse (Studiocanal) ●●●. Despite being (older) child friendly it takes its monster very seriously for a fun blend of Jaws, Jurassic Park and The Water Horse as archaeologists unwittingly disturb a mythical Norse nasty.
Finally WWE Live in the UK (Fremantle) ●●● is just what you'd expect: over five hours of big beefy men hitting each. You already know if you want to watch wrestling and WWE once again prove why they are the best business with a huge glitzy showcase of muscled men, pantomime villainy and grappling action as Sheamus, John Cena, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler and even a dancing rabbit duke it out for supremacy.