News Column

DVD and blu ray releases

November 30, 2013


alan partridge: alpha papa (15) 4/5 a-ha! The solution arrives to a myriad Christmas gift problems...

Steve Coogan's career-defining character made his big-screen debut in the summer. And for those who worried that the finest comic creation of the last two decades would go the ignominious way of some many other Britcom greats when it came to making the leap from the small screen to the big, well there was no need to fret. Alpha Papa met with near universal acclaim.

The plot, if you were one of the two or three Brits who hasn't seen it already.

Alan and his trusty sidekick Simon (Tim Key) host the Mid Morning Matters show at North Norfolk Digital radio station.

But glum rumours are circulating that the new management are planning to change the name of the sta-tion and axe some of the older DJs. Late night presenter Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) fears he's for the chop and asks Alan to speak to the bosses to avert a cull.

That goes roughly as well as you'd expect, so Pat decides to take his colleagues hostage. By chance, Alan is outside the building when the siege begins and the police recruit him as a negotiator to resolve the stand-off.

As Alan becomes the "face of the siege" he attempts to salve frayed nerves and raise the spirits of his long-suffering personal assistant Lynn (Felicity Montagu) and plucky security guard Michael (Simon Greenall).

man of steel (12) 4/5 in the 35 years since Christopher Reeve took flight as Superman, the iconic hero has been laid to rest in a best-selling DC Comics storyline, endured teen angst in the long- running TV series Smallville, and stumbled in the 2006 blockbuster Superman Returns. Last year, Batman, another DC Comics stalwart, hung up his cowl in the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's award- winning Dark Knight trilogy, so, clearly, the time has come to resurrect Krypton's prodigal son.

Nolan's fingerprints as producer and storyline co-writer are evident on every digitally-enhanced frame of Zack Snyder's film. Man Of Steel is cast in the mould of Batman Begins, removing any traces of campness or charm that distinguished the 1970s and 80s big screen incarnations.

What remains is a bombastic and bruising reboot, punctuated by overmore blown set pieces, which traces the central character's journey from his warravaged home planet to the sun-kissed fields of Kansas.

It's a thrilling opening salvo that frequently quickens the pulse, but seldom touches the heart. In a protracted prologue, Kryptonian General Zod (Michael Shannon) and sadistic right-hand woman Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) stage a coup on their doomed world.

Leading scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) escapes the melee and dispatches his only son, Kal-El to Earth with the help of wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer).

With the child safe, Zod and his accomplices are captured and banished to the Phantom Zone. Light years away, farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner, Diane Lane) raise the crash-landed infant and christen him Clark. From an early age, Clark (Cooper Timberline and Dylan Sprayberry) realises he is different.

He leaves home to seek his destiny and many years later, (now played by Henry Cavill) is tracked down by plucky Daily Planet reporter, Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

She agrees to keep his secret until war-mongering General Zod escapes the Phantom Zone and hovers ominously above Earth, issuing a chilling ultimatum to Kal-El: "Surrender within 24 hours or this world will suffer the consequences!" Man of Steel spares no expense with the pyrotechnics, but while Cavill has the rugged good looks and impressive physique. his performance lacks emotion.

Thankfully, co-stars Shannon, Adams and Costner are in fine form.

the lone ranger (12) 3/5 rootin' tootin' reinvention of the masked avenger, which reunites Johnny Depp with his Pirates Of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski.

Depp plays Tonto, not the Lone Ranger, but it's his film all the same. He lassos all of the best lines and is involved in the most thrilling daredevil action.

The cinematography is stunning. The West has seldom looked so splendidly wild and rugged.

But the 149-minute running time may leave you feeling saddle- sore. And much like your settee at the end credits, the film sags noticeably in the middle.

planes (u) 3/5 the spin-off from Pixar's Cars series was originally heading for a straight-tovideo release, but was given a passport to the big screen after impressing studio bosses.

The classic underdog story follows Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), a crop duster who applies fertiliser at a cornfield but harbours high hopes of competing alongside his heroes in an aerial race.

The plot is rather predictable, but with colourful animated aerial sequences and high-flying humour, Planes is a fun, family- friendly film with some chortlesome scenes.

the hangover part iii (15) 2/5 forget bachelor parties and weddings.

For the third and final chapter of Todd Phillips's alcohol and drugfuelled bender, the characters are caught in a race against time to save one of the gang from a grim fate.

We'll save you from one too. Rent something else..

the smurfs 2 (u) 2/5 ditto. Staggeringly, five screenwriters were enlisted to cobble together the dismal script.


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