DVDs: Reviews and giveaway

GIVEAWAY

Roadshow Entertainment and the Newcastle Herald are giving away five copies of The Cup (PG). This uplifting Aussie movie tells the story of Damien Oliver's emotional Melbourne Cup victory aboard Media Puzzle in 2002. Stars include Stephen Curry, Daniel MacPherson, Tom Burlinson and Jodi Gordon. To enter, send the keyword CUP, along with your name, address and daytime contact number, via SMS to 0427 842 179, or email livefreebies@theherald.com.au, or fill out the coupon in today's Herald.

WINNERS

LAST week’s winners were: G. Masters, of Edgeworth; L. Mueller, of Tighes Hill; Ty Brennock, of Wallsend; K. Marriott, of Dudley; K. Kennedy, of East Maitland.

REVIEWS

THE WALKING DEAD

Hopscotch Entertainment, MA15+

282 minutes

PROMOTERS of The Walking Dead were teasing when they sent the Newcastle Herald a DVD containing four episodes of the hit US television series to review.

I watched all four and wanted more.

This is touted as a ‘‘highly original production’’ and in many ways it is. Post-apocalyptic zombie flicks are not for everyone but I have watched my fair share of moaning, shuffling corpses over the years – enough to know that this series, while unique for television, is derivative in the references it makes to zombie films.

Our hero, police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) wakes up from a coma in hospital and finds himself completely, utterly alone. Think 28 Days Later. The hospital is deserted and eerily silent, apart from moans and banging coming from behind a locked door.

The streets are empty, apart from the odd corpse which has been shot in the head. Grimes makes his way home and it, too, is deserted, his wife and son gone. And so his quest begins to find them, alive.

The complexities of human nature and relationships are played out in a struggle for survival and, as the series progresses, it becomes apparent that the human threat is just as dangerous – if not more so – than that posed by the ‘‘walkers’’.

The special effects are terrific, especially one of the first ‘‘walkers’’ we encounter: a decomposing, legless torso clawing its way across a park to nowhere in particular. Not a walker at all, technically, but creepy nonetheless.

Some of the soundtrack is reminiscent of 28 Weeks Later. And as for the the survivors trapped in an apartment building, who are rescued by a truck, the contemporary remake of Dawn Of The Dead springs to mind.

Still, the suspense, action, drama, humour and identifiable characters are a winning combination for horror fans.

Our hero is likeable, the still-breathing villians are easy to dislike, the production is high quality and you want to keep watching. I might have to buy the box set.

Rating: ***

– Lisa Rockman

PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES

Madman, M

88 minutes

WORTHY of every line of hype that has been written in the mainstream press, this doco has as much street cred as the handful of reporters and editors that it follows as they chase major stories and debate the future of journalism in the new world of social media.

David Carr, a media columnist whose personal background includes a criminal conviction and jail time, doesn’t mince words with sources, bosses or the filmmakers following him around. His media conference sparring with the head of the Newser website was a duel over truth.

Rating: ****

– Jim Kellar

THE THREE MUSKETEERS

Entertainment One, M

110minutes

IT would be nice to say that Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers has inspired a long and proud cinematic tradition, but filmmakers have not been kind to this exuberant masterpiece.

Richard Lester made a brilliant version in 1973, the standard bearer for all adaptations before and since, but more recent attempts have been somewhat embarrassing, including this clunker.

Given Dumas’s book has not been out of print in 167 years, it is arguably not lacking in dramatic interest or virtue. But director Paul WS Anderson has seen shortcomings others have failed to notice and, with his writers, concocted a ludicrous subplot about stealing the plans of a Leonardo da Vinci airship from a secret vault in Venice.

The film has some worthy names – Matthew Macfadyen as Athos and Orlando Bloom as Buckingham – but their best efforts come to nought. Milla Jovovich, once the muse to director Luc Besson and now to Anderson, rarely displays adeptness at acting and fails to do so here as Milady. Christoph Waltz is atrocious as Richelieu.

This is a wretched and dull film, with substandard special effects. The images of a miniature airship floating like a Dinky toy across a CGI universe are, like the whole film, too dire to willingly endure.

It is fortunate that Dumas is dead.

Rating: *

– Scott Murray

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