November 10, 2012
Jam
Music
Movies
Television
Video
      DVD Reviews
      Actors A-Z

Theatre
Books
Country
Celebrities



Video Gallery
RSS Feed

SJP

Blood and guts Abe on DVD
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency




Coming to a theatre near you: Steven Spielberg's sombre biopic, Lincoln. Already at hand on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download: Timur Bekmambetov's historical-horror-thriller mash-up, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I suggest seeing the genre piece before tackling Spielberg's Oscar-bound opus.

Bekmambetov's movie is wildly entertaining, if preposterous. Besides blood 'n' guts, standard for a vampire flick, the movie is rooted in real history and monumental social issues. There is a thoughtful focus on slavery, emancipation and human rights. Novelist and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith draws on famous Lincoln speeches for authenticity, then plunges his fantasy sabre into the heart of America's nightmarish race relations in the 1860s. That gives the whole enterprise a frisson that Spielberg cannot hope to create within the parameters of a biopic.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is available in several options. I have the standard two-disc combo pack for review. It combines DVD (and digital copy) with a fully loaded Blu-ray. Thanks to the special effects, action sequences and vast battlegrounds of the Civil War scenes, Vampire Hunter begs to be seen in high-def. The Blu-ray does not disappoint.

Extras are good, too. An eight-minute animated graphic novel, The Great Calamity, is the brief origins story. The movie's making-of documentary is 75 minutes of detailed interviews with, among many, director Bekmambetov, writer Grahame-Smith, producer Tim Burton and key actors from the film.

Two other recent releases are also worth celebrating now (I missed covering them because of holiday breaks):

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL


John Madden's comedy-drama, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, deals with a culture clash when aging Britons smack into the roiling life of Jaipur, India. Lured by the false claims of a young hotel entrepreneur (Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire), the Brits find themselves coping with chaos.

Giddy, eccentric and sometimes poignant, this is a wonderful movie for adult audiences. While Madden's direction is conventional, that is appropriate for a story about real human relationships, with their crushed hopes and desires. With a sterling cast led by Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith, you know the search for truth is going to be a great adventure on an intimate scale.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is available on DVD or Blu-ray. In high-def, the streetscapes are dazzling to behold, even though Madden goes for gritty realism. The Blu-ray also boasts a series of featurettes showing how Dench, Nighy and friends coped with their first introduction to modern India's bustling lifestyle.

TAKE THIS WALTZ

Sarah Polley's examination of love won and love lost is achingly beautiful. With only one wrong move (an awkward scene in which the heroine is dressed down), Polley cuts to the core of longing and emptiness. She also delicately pauses to chronicle those flickering moments when human chemistry creates a flame between two people. The film boasts a terrific, if unusual cast that puts Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman together, both for the humour and for the heartache.

Williams plays Rogen's wife of five years, but she finds herself lured by a neighbour, played by Kirby. Polley, as writer-director, plays out the obvious but never in an obvious way. On the Blu-ray, the candy-coloured dreamworld they all live in is heightened and enriched. The Blu-ray extras include excellent interviews with Polley and her key actors. Take This Waltz is a Canadian treasure.

 




HOT VIDEO HEADLINES
'Man of Steel' shakes things up
Low-budget horrors a scream
Landau, 'Cleopatra' survivors
Abrams embraces 'Trek' history
Spring 2013 DVD highlights
Movie rentals disappearing quickly
Cult movies are all but dead
Baseball films worth revisiting
'40' star Mann 'just happy to work'
10 great movie magicians
More Headlines
DVD set shows Warners' gritty past
'Skyfall' lands on DVD, Blu-ray
'Peter Pan' flies onto Blu-ray
'Frankenweenie' makes history
'Total Recall' new on DVD
Renner's 'Legacy' blasts onto DVD
DVD gift sets perfect for giving
'Dark Knight Rises' dazzles on DVD
Makeup wiz Baker talks 'MIB 3'
Ailing Sharif talks 'Arabia' DVD

Latest videos
See more videos


DVD column
Toronto Sun writer Bruce Kirkland gives you his take on the latest DVD releases.
Who's coming and when
Want to know when your favourite band is coming to town? Check out Clive, JAM Music's extensive Canadian concert listings.

Movie Listings
Find out what's playing at a theatre near you.
TV Listings
Wondering what's on tonight? Check out our TV listings for the complete schedule in your area.






Do you think Kanye West should have the book thrown at him for fighting with a photographer?
Yes
No


Results | Story