DVDs: Reviews and giveaway

FREEBIE

Via Vision Entertainment, Madman and the Newcastle Herald are giving away five copies of Prince: Sign 'O' The Times, his Grammy-nominated 1987 concert film. There are 13 songs on the disc, including Slow Love and If I Was Your Girlfriend. To enter, send the keyword PRINCE along with your name, address and daytime contact number, via SMS to 0427 842 179, or email livefreebies@theherald.com.au. Winners announced on this page next week.

WINNERS

The winners of the The Iron Lady DVDs are J.Clempson, of West Wallsend; C.Belcher, of Merewether; P.Quist, of Wakefield; M.Searl, of Newcastle; and N.Nicholls, of Wallsend.

REVIEWS

FACE TO FACE (MA 15+) Umbrella Entertainment, 89 minutes

ALMOST every great movie begins with a good script, and such is the case with this surprising Aussie flick.

David Williamson’s play of the same name provides the spicy recipe for a provocative story of blame and redemption, Australian-style, and director Michael Rymer cooks it perfectly.

The large ensemble cast are vital to the formula and no one disappoints. Without a doubt, the choice of Matthew Newton as Jack, the facilitator of a conflict resolution session, was the key casting choice. That role will be resonant in Newton’s career for a long time.

The plot is simple on the surface: Wayne (Luke Ford), a labourer for a scaffolding company, has rammed the expensive car of his boss, Greg Baldoni (Vince Colosimo) in the driveway of Baldoni’s luxury home as revenge for being fired. The session is meant to get to the bottom of the incident. And it does, with many twists and turns.

The cast also includes Sigrid Thornton, Ra Chapman, Robert Rabiah, Josh Saks, Laura Gordon and Lauren Clair.

Rating: ****

– Jim Kellar

HOUSE OF ANUBIS, SEASON I, VOLUME I Paramount, 317 minutes

BOARDING school mysteries have long been a favourite setting for exciting children’s stories, and Nickelodeon’s House of Anubis stakes its claim on the genre with eight teens in a British school trying to solve a mystery involving ancient Egyptian artefacts.

While the characters are cliched and the acting hammy, that’s probably not going to bother the target audience. The teen stars are gorgeous, the plot is easy to follow and the PG rating is only for ‘scary scenes’ which are unlikely to frighten younger viewers. Besides the main story arc of the mystery, there are plenty of sub-plots based around the budding relationships between the four male and four female leads. It’s nicely fast-paced too, with episodes usually ending on a dramatic highpoint, if not quite a cliffhanger.

The storyline centres on the arrival of a new American student Nina, who appears at the same time as long time Anubis resident Joy mysteriously disappears.

Volume 1 features 30 episodes from Season 1, i.e. half the season, delivered as paired 11-minute ‘episodes’ and bonus features including The House of Anubis Premier Special and House of Anubis set unlocked. All up the two-disc set runs about 300 minutes.

As with all Nickelodeon shows, fans can head online to expand the experience with interactive programs and downloads, chat rooms, quizzes, backgrounders, and teasers for upcoming shows.

Gripping entertainment for the teen and pre-teen audience.

Rating: ***

– Louise Fraser

WAR HORSE (PG-13) Disney, 146 minutes

THERE were big tickets on this Steven Spielberg epic before its release, but it did not win an Oscar despite seven nominations, including Best Picture.

Nonetheless, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable story, told in classic Spielberg fashion. Weaved around a horse drafted for duty in World War I, it is full of action and colour.

While Jeremy Irvine is the star, there are many character roles blended into the storytelling.

It’s a little bit violent for little ones, but a heart-warming story. And the joy of the DVD is being able to stop it and absorb the plot every once in a while.

Rating: ***

– Jim Kellar

ELIMINATE ARCHIE COOKSON (M) Eagle Entertainment, 87 minutes

WHEN washed-up British spy Archie learns senior M16 officials want him dead, he finds his already dismal life takes a turn for the worse.

Not even a long-time friend and ex-CIA problem solver can save Archie, as his saviour becomes the reluctant assassin. After surviving the initial shoot-out which claimed his colleagues, Archie realises the tapes that landed on his desk, on which he placed no importance, could just save his life. There are weird dilemmas with his estranged wife and an even weirder relationship with his son. Forty-eight hours is a long time in this movie, with random comedy and absolutely no effort to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. I wanted to doze off more times than I laughed, maybe wine would have helped this one along.

Rating: **

– Tracy Peters

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