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DVD Review - December 22
7:00am Saturday 22nd December 2012 in DVD Reviews
A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
The Amazing Spider-Man (Cert 12, 136 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/3D Blu-ray £29.99)
Marc Webb's terrifically entertaining refurbishment of the Marvel Comics superhero is blessed with an appealing mix of high-octane action and humour. The chameleonic Andrew Garfield tugs heartstrings as teenager Peter Parker, who must wrestle with a destiny he never asked for and a new foe: The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). Twists and turns in the script are the same as Sam Raimi's action-packed 2002 blockbuster but technology has advanced in gargantuan bounds and The Amazing Spider-Man soars in the breathlessly paced action sequences.
Avengers Assemble (Cert 12, 137 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £18.99/Blu-ray £22.99/3D Blu-ray £25.99)
The special effects-laden amalgamation of four Marvel Comics franchises - Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor - deftly knits together plot strands from earlier films, threaded with tongue-in-cheek humour. Joss Whedon's frenetic romp doesn't scale the dizzy heights of the original Iron Man but we're thoroughly entertained and energised by his distinctive vision of the Marvel universe. The writer-director gifts the best lines to Robert Downey Jr, including a belting quip about Thor's olde worlde vernacular. Since the cast and script don't take anything too seriously, nor do we.
The Dark Knight Rises (Cert 12, 157 mins, Warner Home Entertainment, DVD £22.99/The Dark Knight Trilogy DVD Box Set £32.99/Blu-ray £26.99/Limited Edition Blu-ray Set £69.99/The Dark Knight Trilogy Blu-ray Box Set £44.99)
Christopher Nolan completes his dark and brooding trilogy based on the DC Comics crime-fighter in suitably grandiose fashion. Breathlessly orchestrated action sequences, including a spectacular opening aboard a C-130 Hercules transport plane, are mightily impressive. However, Nolan has always focused on characters and their twisted psychologies, and he puts all of them and us through the emotional wringer in this final chapter pitting Batman (Christian Bale) against hulking terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) and wily cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).
The Raid (Cert 18, 96 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) is part of an ill-prepared Swat team charged with infiltrating a 15-storey apartment block, which doubles as the headquarters of a notorious drug lord (Ray Sahetapy). The cops have one objective: fight their way to the top floor and destroy the criminal network. The Raid is a blitzkrieg of severed appendages and broken bones, which threatens to overdose even the greediest adrenaline junkie on blood-spurting thrills. Welsh-born writer-director Gareth Evans and Indonesia's most daring fight choreographers pull out all the stops to deliver an orgy of carnage and fractured limbs.
Titanic 3D (Cert 12, 186 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 3D Blu-ray £29.99)
James Cameron's mega-budget love story set aboard the doomed ocean liner sails onto Blu-ray in the eye-popping 3D format, which looks stunning: water-logged corridors seem to stretch into the distance, and our stomachs lurch as characters cling to the stern, looking down as fellow passengers tumble to their doom. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet look fresh-faced as the lovers across the social divide, who must fight for their lives as the ship quickly takes on freezing water.
Arthur Christmas (Cert U, 93 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)
Aardman, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, reveals the truth about Santa's 21st century operations in this hugely entertaining computer-animated comedy that delivers a feast of family fun for the festive season. Arthur Christmas is a treat for the very young and the young at heart, affirming all of the wholesome messages of the holiday season without lingering too long on the rampant materialism. The script, co-written by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith, is festooned with loveable characters and belly laughs, and Justin Bieber sings a suitably jolly rendition of Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town over the end credits.
Brave (Cert PG, 89 mins, Disney DVD, DVD £18.99/Blu-ray £22.99)
Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell's computer-animated fable of female empowerment signals a return to form for the digital wizards at Disney Pixar. Brave strikes a perfect balance between laughter and tears, conjuring excitement and heart-warming sentiment out of the ether as plucky clansman's daughter Merida (Kelly Macdonald) defies her parents' wishes to plough her own path. Merida's fiery flowing locks deserve an Academy Award on their own, such is the exquisite detail of every windswept, animated fibre, and that's before your eyes are wooed by the sweeping landscapes, action-packed chases and colourful supporting characters.
Cinderella (Diamond Edition) (Cert U, 62 mins, Walt Disney Classics, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £21.99)
Another re-issue of Walt Disney's 1950 animated feature based on the popular fairy tale about a young woman struggling to escape her wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters Drizella and Anastasia. With the help of her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella does indeed go to the ball, where she wins the heart of Prince Charming, only to flee the ball before clocks strike midnight and leave behind a glass slipper.
Pixar Short Films Collection 2 (Cert PG, 79 mins, Disney DVD, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £17.99)
The Oscar-winning animation studio demonstrates its artistry, invention and split-second comic timing in 12 short films, some of which have screened theatrically before Pixar feature films. This compilation comprises Your Friend The Rat, Presto, BURN-E, Partly Cloudy, Dug's Special Mission, George And AJ, Day And Night, Hawaiian Vacation, Air Mater, Small Fry, Time Travel Mater and La Luna.
The Simpsons - The Fifteenth Season (Cert 12, 484 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £39.99)
Tony Blair, Glenn Close, Simon Cowell, Jennifer Garner, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sir Ian McKellen, JK Rowling and Mr T guest star alongside Springfield's favourite family - Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie - in 22 hilarious episodes of the award-winning animation. The series begins with the eagerly anticipated Halloween episode, Treehouse Of Horror XIV. In subsequent instalments, Lisa is elected Student Body president and takes her lead from Evita Peron, Homer spends his family's Christmas money on himself and Marge heads to rehab to prevent her life becoming a car crash.
Getting On - Series Three (Cert 15, 360 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99/Complete Series One, Two & Three DVD Box Set £32.99)
Dr Pippa Moore (Vicki Pepperdine), Sister Den Flixter (Joanna Scanlan) and nurse Kim Wilde (Jo Brand) prescribe laughter as the best medicine in another six episodes of the Bafta award-winning BBC Four comedy, which paints a scathing portrait of the modern NHS. In this series, Den discovers she is pregnant, Pippa and Kim disagree on a patient's diagnosis and tensions are evident when an inspector tours the ward.
Modern Family - The Complete Third Season (Cert 12, 493 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £27.99/Seasons 1-3 DVD Box Set £49.99/Blu-ray £38.99/Seasons 1-3 Blu-ray Box Set £67.99)
Four-disc box set of all 24 episodes of the Emmy award-winning mockumentary chronicling the misadventures of a multicultural Los Angeles family. This series, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) announce they are planning another child and Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is inspired by her friend Shorty (Chazz Palminteri) and his girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) to drag her husband Jay (Ed O'Neill) to salsa dancing classes.
Ted (Cert 15, 106 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray £29.99)
Ted is a deliciously foul-mouthed comedy that employs the magic of digital trickery to bring to life a rotund stuffed bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), who becomes the best friend of a lonely boy (Mark Wahlberg). It's a simple premise - essentially a live action version of Toy Story - albeit with the eponymous bear accepted as a talking, skirt-chasing entity by everyone he encounters. Wahlberg is perfectly suited to his role as a goofy hopeless romantic and screen chemistry with Mila Kunis simmers. Digital effects are excellent, seamlessly melding the bear with live action in hare-brained action sequences, including a hysterical hotel room punch-up.
The Thick Of It - Series Four (Cert 15, 225 mins, 2entertain, DVD £19.99/Complete Collection DVD Box Set £37.99)
Armando Iannucci continues to satirise the inner workings of Westminster in six episodes of the award-winning BBC comedy drama, focusing now on the trials and tribulations of a coalition government. Policy enforcer Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) schemes to undermine newly installed leader Nicola Murray MP (Rebecca Front) and oust her from power using all of the underhand tactics at his disposal. Meanwhile, Peter Mannion (Roger Allam), Secretary of State for Social Affairs, is resistant to new legislation promoted by coalition partner Fergus (Geoffrey Streatfield).
Twenty Twelve - Series 2 (Cert 15, 435 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99/Series 1 & 2 DVD Box Set £24.99)
David Tennant narrates another seven hilarious episodes of the BBC mockumentary following head of deliverance Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) and his team as they overcome adversity to stage the London 2012 Olympic Games. PR operative Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) has the brilliant idea of the 'Jubilympics' to harness public support for The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and channel it into the summer games. Meanwhile, the Algerian squad threatens to boycott London because the athletes' Shared Belief Centre does not face Mecca.
56 Up (Cert E, 150 mins, Network, DVD £12.99)
Director Michael Apted continues his fascinating social experiment, which began in 1964 with a special episode of World In Action chronicling the hopes and dreams of seven-year-olds from a variety of social backgrounds. At seven-year intervals, Apted has returned to catch up with the 14 original participants, charting their fortunes to see if their backgrounds have indeed influenced their future prospects. In this latest chapter, all but one of the original children lay bare their lives and their disappointments.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Cert 15, 89 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Chinese dissident Weiwei has garnered effusive praise for his installations, sculpture, photography, films and architectural design, but he has won even greater praise - and countless enemies - for his outspoken views of his own government's human rights record. Film-maker Alison Klayman is granted unprecedented access to the artist and over the course of three years, she follows his every move as he prepares for his high-profile sunflower seed installation at the Tate Modern and clashes with Chinese authorities over the Sichuan earthquake and its aftermath.
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (Cert E, 73 mins, Dogwoof Pictures, DVD £14.99)
From his 1985 debut on American television, Elmo has become arguably the most popular resident of Sesame Street, dispensing warm hugs to everyone he meets. Unfolding largely in chronological order with warm narration from Whoopi Goldberg, Being Elmo delves beneath the eye-catching red fur to celebrate the talent of Baltimore puppeteer Kevin Clash, who has been the falsetto voice and heart of the lovable monster since his inception until recent events forced Clash to take a leave of absence.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (Cert PG, 82 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £19.99)
Born in Paris, Diana Vreeland famously spotted Lauren Bacall before Hollywood came a-calling and became fashion editor on Harper's Bazaar, a role which brought her into close contact with legendary photographer Richard Avedon. Vreeland advised Jacqueline Kennedy on fashion when John F Kennedy became president and continued to shape global trends as editor-in-chief of rival magazine Vogue. This documentary surveys the doyenne's extraordinary career, including archive footage and interviews with friends and family.
Undefeated (Cert E, 113 mins, Dogwoof Digital, DVD £14.99)
Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin's sports documentary collected a golden statuette at this year's Oscars, demonstrating our boundless affection for stories of unexpected triumph against adversity. Their film follows Bill Courtney, inspirational coach of an underprivileged American high school football team, as he attempts to revive the squad's fortunes and prove that unity, friendship and courage can overcome financial constraints and break a seemingly endless losing streak.
Boardwalk Empire - The Complete Second Season (Cert 18, 670 mins, Warner Home Video/HBO, DVD £39.99/Complete First And Second Seasons DVD Box Set £59.99/Blu-ray £49.99/Complete First And Second Seasons Blu-ray Box Set £69.99)
Five-disc set comprising all 12 episodes of the award-winning drama set in 1920s Atlantic City where corruption and vice are rife. Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson (Steve Buscemi) senses that his rivals are plotting against him and sure enough, ambitious protege Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), Eli (Shea Whigham) and Commodore Louis Kaestner (Dabney Coleman) join forces to smear Nucky with damaging allegations of election fraud. Meanwhile, Nucky's mistress Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) begins an affair with handsome Irishman Owen Sleater (Charlie Cox).
Breaking Bad - The Complete Fourth Season (Cert 15, 590 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £29.99)
Four-disc set comprising 13 episodes of the Emmy award-winning drama, following the exploits of high school chemistry teacher Walt (Bryan Cranston) and ex-student Jesse (Aaron Paul) as their crystal meth business goes from strength to strength. This series, the murder of chemist Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) has dramatic repercussions for the business partners as Walt's DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank (Dean Norris), gathers incriminating evidence to secure a conviction.
Breathing (Cert 15, 90 mins, Verve Pictures, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Austrian actor Karl Markovics's directorial debut is a beautifully observed slice of life about a troubled juvenile called Roman (Thomas Schubert) who finds redemption on a work-release programme to Vienna's municipal morgue. Surrounded by grief and loss, the taciturn central character initially clashes with antagonistic work colleague Rudolf (Georg Friedrich) but ultimately learns to cherish the minutiae of his bleak existence, reflected in a bravura and naturalistic performance from Schubert that is the epitome of heart-rending restraint.
Downton Abbey - Series Three (Cert 12, 418 mins, Universal/Playback, DVD £29.99/Complete Collection DVD Box Set £49.99/Blu-ray £34.99/Complete Collection Blu-ray Box Set £54.99)
Death stalks the corridors of Downton Abbey in these eight episodes of the award-winning ITV1 drama. The fate of the grand house hangs in the balance but everyone comes together for the wedding of Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), including Cora's mother Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), who locks horns with the imperious Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith). Below stairs, first footman Thomas (Rob James-Collier) is physically drawn to new arrival Jimmy Kent (Ed Speleers), and valet Bates (Brendan Coyle) is finally released from prison.
Mad Men - Season Five (Cert 15, 592 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, DVD £29.99/Seasons One To Five DVD Box Set £79.99/Blu-ray £39.99/Seasons One To Five Blu-ray Box Set £119.99)
Three-disc box set of 13 engrossing episodes of the award-winning drama set at the Sterling Cooper advertising agency in New York City between 1966 and 1967. This series, Megan (Jessica Pare) throws a surprise birthday party for new husband Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and turns the heads of most men at the company, Joan (Christina Hendricks) confronts the irreparable breakdown of her marriage and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) entertains a tempting job offer as chief copywriter with rival company CGC.
Bond 50 (Cert 15, 2975 mins, MGM, DVD £119.99/Blu-ray £134.99)
With James Bond's 23rd mission, Skyfall, now the highest grossing film of all time at the UK box office, relive five decades of Ian Fleming's elite secret agent with a hefty box set comprising the previous 22 action-packed films from Sean Connery's dashing 1962 debut Dr No to Daniel Craig's bruising race against time in Quantum Of Solace. As well as the feature films, the set includes more than 122 hours of bonus features, including an additional disc laden with featurettes, trivia and behind-the-scenes content.
Desperate Housewives - The Complete Housewives (Cert 15, 7470 mins, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, DVD £123.99)
The secrets and lies of the residents of Wisteria Lane are completely exposed in this whopping 49-disc set of all eight series of the award-winning comedy drama, chronicling the vacillations of four female friends - Bree (Marcia Cross), Gabrielle (Eva Longoria), Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Susan (Teri Hatcher) - who live in the same corner of leafy suburbia. The show begins in the aftermath of an apparent suicide but dark secrets and desires are quickly exposed as the residents reveal the evil that lurks behind those pristine white picket fences.
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Cert U, 110 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Limited Edition Spaceship Blu-ray Box Set £119.99)
Steven Spielberg's masterpiece touches down on Blu-ray for the first time, following Elliot (Henry Thomas), his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and precocious sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) as they conceal a stranded alien visitor from government scientists and their own mother (Dee Wallace Stone). This limited edition box set is packaged with a 45-page book and includes a collectible spaceship model with working lights and sound that plays John Williams's unforgettable theme tune as the base door opens to reveal the diminutive alien.
Harry Potter Wizard's Collection Box Set (Cert PG, 1178 mins, Warner Home Video, Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £259.99)
Packaged in a limited edition and individually numbered gift box, which unfolds to reveal a magical set of drawers, this 31-disc set contains all of the Harry Potter films including the 2D and 3D versions of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2, as well as 37 hours of additional content and five hours of previously unseen featurettes. The set includes exclusive memorabilia such as a map of Hogwarts, concept art prints and catalogues of props and posters designed by graphic artists who worked on the films.
Medium - The Complete Series (Cert 15, 5395 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £129.99)
This 34-disc set comprises all seven series of the award-winning drama based on the real-life experiences of a medium, who works with the police to solve crimes. Patricia Arquette plays mother and wife Allison DuBois, whose ability to glimpse shocking events that have already happened creates friction with her husband Joe (Jake Weber) and children. Her gift is invaluable, however, to District Attorney Manuel Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) and Detective Lee Scanlon (David Cubitt) as they solve crimes in Arizona.
American Horror Story - Season 1 (Cert 15, 520 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £34.99/Blu-ray £39.99)
All 12 episodes of the Emmy award-winning drama set in a haunted house. Psychiatrist Dr Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) moves from Boston to Los Angeles with his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) and their teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga). Unaware that their new home is haunted, the Harmons look forward to a brighter future. Alas, the spirits, which reside in the house, play out a deadly and murderous game with the Harmons, driving the family to the brink of self-destruction.
The Cabin In The Woods (Cert 15, 91 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Drew Goddard's grisly horror attempts to reinvigorate the genre with a slick tale of college kids in peril that is three parts bonkers to one part twisted genius. There are some big laughs and lashings of gore, including a possessed zombie appendage that lends a hand at a crucial juncture. The young cast embraces genre archetypes, screaming or disrobing on cue. A big reveal in the closing minutes is a humdinger, including a cameo from an A-list Hollywood star.
Chernobyl Diaries (Cert 15, 84 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)
Shot in a documentary style by director Bradley Parker, replete with juddering handheld camerawork and ambient sound, Chernobyl Diaries follows a hapless group of tourists, who tour the abandoned Ukrainian community of Pripyat, close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and become stranded overnight in the ghost town with an enigmatic guide (Dimitri Diatchenko). Director Parker keeps most of the gore off-screen. Dialogue is largely improvised and the cast members demonstrate an impressive array of gasps, whimpers and blood-curdling screams.
Jaws (Cert PG, 115 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Blu-ray £24.99/Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray £29.99)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, Steven Spielberg's ruthlessly efficient 1975 thriller swims onto Blu-ray. The premise - a monster great white shark terrorises the New England resort of Amity Island - is simplistic but Spielberg directs brilliantly, leading local police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), marine expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and salty seadog Quint (Robert Shaw) in search of the beast. John Williams's inexorable theme sets the mood and our nerves on edge.
The Walking Dead - The Complete Second Season (Cert 18, 553 mins, Entertainment One, DVD £39.99/The Complete First & Second Seasons DVD Box Set £54.99/Blu-ray £44.99/The Complete First & Second Seasons Blu-ray Box Set £64.99)
Sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his loved ones continue their journey through a post-apocalyptic world overrun by the marauding undead in 13 episodes of the award-winning drama based on the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman. This series, Rick leads the survivors including his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and young son Carl (Chandler Riggs) towards Atlanta, where they hope to find sanctuary at Fort Benning. En route, civil rights attorney Andrea (Laurie Holden) is separated from the group and must cope on her own.
Coldplay Live 2012 (Cert 15, 107 mins, EMI Records Ltd, DVD £11.99/Blu-ray £21.99)
Paul Dugdale's concert film captures the excitement and energy of Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion as they tour Mylo Xyloto around the world. Coldplay Live 2012 edits together footage from performances at the Stade de France in Paris, the Bell Centre in Montreal and the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, where the band play album tracks Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, Paradise and Princess Of China alongside old favourites Viva La Vida, Clocks and Fix You. The DVD and Blu-ray are both packaged with a live concert CD.
Hello Quo! (Cert 15, 152 mins, Anchor Bay Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Collector's Edition DVD/Blu-ray £24.99)
Formed in 1962, rock band The Spectres became Status Quo five years later shortly before the release of the single Pictures Of Matchstick Men. Over the next 45 years, Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt and their band mates have conquered the world, selling 128 million albums and topping the UK singles chart twice with Down Down and Come On You Reds. Documentary film-maker Alan G Parker celebrates the enduring appeal of the Prince Of Wales's favourite band with this feature-length portrait, including interviews with current and previous line-ups and the people who know them best, plus archive footage and toe-tapping performances.
Katy Perry: Part Of Me (Cert PG, 93 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
In less than four years, Californian singer Katy Perry has become one of the biggest-selling artists on the planet. Part Of Me is a behind-the-scenes documentary that traces her ascent from gospel singer Katy Hudson to the present day, including emotionally raw footage of the breakdown of her marriage to Russell Brand. Concert footage showcases her tremendous vocals, and her zany costumes and stage design wouldn't look out of place in Willy Wonka's factory.
Marley (Cert 15, 139 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Made with the consent and co-operation of Bob Marley's family, Kevin Macdonald's affectionate and extensive documentary traces the history of the musical icon from his childhood when he was bullied mercilessly and became insecure about his mixed-race heritage, to his later years when he spread his love liberally between his adoring wife, mistresses, children and millions of ardent fans. Snippets of concert footage and previously unseen images are intercut with more familiar archive material and interviews with the people who knew the musician best, set to a rousing soundtrack of Marley's biggest hits.
Westlife: The Farewell Tour - Live At Croke Park (Cert E, 100 mins, 2entertain, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
On June 23 this year, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan played the final concert of a glittering 14-year career at Croke Park in Dublin - an emotional, sold-out homecoming to celebrate 14 number one singles and almost 50 million worldwide record sales. Cameras captured the show from beginning to end, including the joy and tears of the crowd as the band members sang together live for the final time. The DVD and Blu-ray both include a behind-the-scenes featurette and a souvenir tour booklet.
Bad Santa (Cert 15, 88 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £16.99)
Terry Zwigoff's foul-mouthed modern day version of A Christmas Carol stars Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T Stokes, a department store Santa who has almost given up on everyone and everything, except for the taste of good liquor. An unexpectedly touching friendship with an overweight boy (Brett Kelly) provides Willie with good cheer and us with tidings of discomfort and joy.
It's A Wonderful Life (Cert U, 130 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
The annual re-issue of Frank Capra's life-affirming 1946 fable that perfectly exemplifies the festive spirit. James Stewart stars as suicidal family man George Bailey, who ponders a life without his beloved wife Mary (Donna Reed) and children, but is thankfully saved from the abyss by guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers). The black-and-white and colourised versions of the film are included on both formats.
Miracle On 34th Street (Cert U, 109 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £9.99)
Les Mayfield's splendid 1994 remake of the festive favourite, headlining Richard Attenborough and rosy-cheeked Mara Wilson. When Macy's department store in New York needs a Santa Claus at short notice, Kris Kringle (Attenborough) steps in to save the day. However, the jovial Father Christmas claims to be the genuine article and he is forced to prove himself in a court of law.
Scrooge (Cert U, 57 mins, Simply Home Entertainment, DVD £14.99)
This classic 1951 adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol stars Alastair Sim as curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge, who doesn't care a jot for the festive season and pays his clerk Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) a pittance. Estranged from his nephew Fred (Brian Worth), Ebenezer prepares to spend another Christmas alone, only to be visited by three ghostly guides who promise to show the miser his past, present and future. In so doing, the spectres force the old coot to re-examine his life and to offer help to Bob, whose son Tiny Tim (Glyn Dearman) is gravely ill.
The Snowman (30th Anniversary Edition) (Cert U, 26 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £6.99/Blu-ray £10.99)
Three decades after it was first broadcast on Channel Four, the animated version of the beloved Raymond Briggs story continues to delight, and an update called The Snowman And The Snowdog will be broadcast on Channel 4 this Christmas. The story centres on a boy called James, who wakes at midnight to discover that the icy figure in the garden has come to life. The snowman and the boy embark on a magical adventure to the haunting strains of Walking In The Air.
Les Enfants Du Paradis (The Restored Edition) (Cert PG, 182 mins, Second Sight Films, DVD £19.99)
A welcome re-release of Marcel Carne's 1945 epic, made during the Nazi occupation of France, released in a lovingly restored two-disc edition laden with featurettes and extras. Mime artist Jean-Baptiste Debureau (Jean-Louis Barrault) falls under the spell of beautiful actress Claire Reine (Arletty), who is known around town as Garance, but fate conspires to keep them apart. When chance allows their paths to converge once more, Baptiste and Garance find their way back to each other, but they now have other people's feelings to consider.
The Five-Year Engagement (Cert 15, 119 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Nicholas Stoller's film charts the rollercoaster romance of San Francisco sous chef Tom (Jason Segel) and his sweetheart Violet (Emily Blunt) as they stumble towards their nuptials. The Five-Year Engagement is peppered with rapid-fire dialogue and some amusing vignettes including an animated discussion between two characters conducted using the voices of Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Segel and Blunt, who are good friends in real life, gel delightfully in front of the cameras and kindle sparks of sexual chemistry.
Friends With Kids (Cert 15, 102 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment (UK) Ltd, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)
Manhattan advertising executive Jason (Adam Scott) and best friend Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) agree the secret to a successful relationship is to raise a brood first and then find a soul mate. So they decide to have a baby together before searching for their other halves, providing this smart, witty and potty-mouthed confection with its intriguing premise. Scott and Westfeldt are a snug fit, and convince us they are destined to find happiness in each other's arms.
The Vow (Cert 12, 99 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)
Based on a heartbreaking true story, The Vow is an unabashedly romantic tale of love undone by misfortune about a doting husband (Channing Tatum), who must woo his new wife (Rachel McAdams) a second time after she suffers massive head trauma, erasing all memory of the previous 18 months. Michael Sucsy's film eschews slushy melodrama in favour of a sweet courtship riven with frustration and regret. Tatum and McAdams kindle a smouldering screen chemistry in early scenes, which provides us with a compelling reason to root for reconciliation in adversity.
Yossi (Cert 15, 80 mins, Peccadillo Pictures, DVD £15.99)
In the follow-up to his award-winning 2003 film Yossi & Jagger, which charted the tragic love story of two IDF officers serving in Lebanon, director Eytan Fox returns to one of the central characters to see if time has healed old wounds. Talented cardiologist Dr Yossi Hoffman (Ohad Knoller) is haunted by the death of his lover and he remains in the closet. Humdrum routine is shattered by the arrival of a mysterious woman who provides Yossi with an opportunity to exorcise the demons of the past.
Cube (Cert 15, 87 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
A welcome re-issue of Vincenzo Natali's cult 1998 sci-fi horror set within a cube-shaped labyrinth laden with pitfalls. Five strangers wake and discover they are trapped inside a maze of booby-trapped chambers. Police office Quentin (Maurice Dean Wint) takes the lead with expert jail breaker Rennes (Wayne Robson), autistic genius Kazan (Andrew Miller) and brilliant mathematics student Leaven (Nicole De Boer), who deduces that each room is numbered, and these digits reveal if a room is safe.
Doctor Who - Series Seven, Part One (Cert PG, 245 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £24.99/Limited Edition DVD £27.99/Blu-ray £29.99/Limited Edition Blu-ray £32.99)
Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) begin their final adventures alongside the Time Lord (Matt Smith) in five episodes of the latest series, which pit the time travellers against the Daleks, prehistoric beasts and the diabolical Weeping Angels. The DVD includes Asylum Of The Daleks, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power Of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan. A limited edition DVD and Blu-ray with exclusive bonus features and an A3 poster is also available.
The Hunger Games (Cert 12, 136 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, DVD £22.99/Blu-ray £27.99)
Based on the first chapter of Suzanne Collins's post-apocalyptic trilogy, The Hunger Games is a nail-biting survival thriller centred on 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and baker's son Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who are chosen by lottery to take part in a televised contest of survival. Gary Ross's film is galvanised by strong performances and breathlessly orchestrated action sequences. Handheld cameras sprint alongside competitors, giving a palpable sense of their disorientation and mounting dread as whooping rivals close in for the kill.
Men In Black 3 (Cert PG, 101 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Trilogy DVD Box Set £26.99/Blu-ray £24.99/3D Blu-ray £29.99/Trilogy Blu-ray Box Set £38.99)
Third time's a charm for the sharp-suited Men In Black, who rediscover their swagger 10 years after the lacklustre second instalment with Agent J (Will Smith) travelling back in time to 1969 to protect the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) from a Boglodite assassin called Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement). Director Barry Sonnenfeld imbues each breathlessly orchestrated scene with impish humour. As usual, Smith's wisecracking and the imaginative production design are the constant sources of wonder.
Prometheus (Cert 15, 118 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/3D Blu-ray £29.99/Prometheus To Alien Blu-ray Box Set £69.99)
Director Ridley Scott journeys back into space, where everyone can hear you scream, for a prelude of sorts to Alien. There are some intriguing ideas embedded within Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof's script - Darwinism vs Creationism, the recklessness of scientific endeavour. Inevitably perhaps, the film reduces to a big budget game of cat and mouse between wily xenomorphs and human interlopers. Production values are impeccable and the numerous dank, foreboding corridors provide plentiful opportunities to slaughter supporting characters.
Channel 4's Comedy Gala 2012 (Cert 15, 126 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £6.99)
Some of the brightest stars of live and television comedy come together at The O2 arena in London to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Recorded in May 2012, this concert film features hilarious performances from Jo Brand, Kevin Bridges, Alan Carr, Paul Chowdhry, Jack Dee, Lee Evans, Micky Flanagan, Keith Lemon, Sean Lock, Michael McIntyre, Lee Nelson, Andi Osho, Jon Richardson, Jonathan Ross, Seann Walsh, Jack Whitehall and Josh Widdicombe.
Mrs Brown's Boys: Good Mourning Mrs Brown - Live Tour (Cert 15, 90 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £21.99/Blu-ray £26.99)
Brendan O'Carroll plays his outrageous alter ego Agnes Brown in a live stage version of the hit BBC sitcom. Grandad (Dermot O'Neill) is concerned what the rest of the clan will say about him at his funeral so Agnes decides to stage his final farewell before he dies. Meanwhile, son Dermot (Paddy Houlihan) plans a hare-brained robbery with best mate Buster (Danny O'Carroll) and flamboyant other son Rory (Rory Cowan) instigates a war of words with his boyfriend Dino (Gary Hollywood).
Peter Kay: Live & Back On Nights! (Cert 15, 93 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £21.99/Blu-ray £26.99)
The bubbly and beloved stand-up from Bolton performs to his adoring fans on his sold-out, record-breaking 2011 UK tour, intercut with revealing behind-the-scenes footage that gives some indication of the pressures of life on the road.
Sarah Millican Live: Thoroughly Modern Millican (Cert 15, 86 mins, 4DVD, DVD £19.99)
Crowned the Queen Of Comedy at the 2011 British Comedy Awards - as voted by the public - Millican heads back on the road with another entertaining set of saucy anecdotes and confessions that prove she would rather eat a slice of cake than take to a treadmill. Extras include an interview with the lovable Geordie stand-up and the first episode of her BBC Radio 2 show.
The Secret Policeman's Ball (Cert 15, 136 mins, Eagle Rock Entertainment, DVD £10/Blu-ray £12)
Dating back to 1979, The Secret Policeman's Ball raises awareness of the invaluable work of Amnesty International in protecting free speech throughout the world with a special night of performances from the stars of British and American comedy. Filmed live at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, this year's event features Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, Noel Fielding, The Muppets, Peter Serafinowicz, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, Catherine Tate, David Walliams and Jack Whitehall, plus music from Coldplay.
Headhunters (Hodejegerne) (Cert 15, 96 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, Headhunters is an intricate edge-of-seat thriller that simmers gently for the opening 30 minutes as corporate high flier Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) plots the theft of a priceless painting from suave businessman Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). As soon as Roger steps inside Clas's apartment to take the painting, director Morten Tyldum steadily cranks up the tension, building to a frenetic crescendo with a series of nerve-wracking showdowns and chases spattered with blood.
Homeland - The Complete First Season (Cert 15, 634 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £34.99/Blu-ray £39.99)
During a covert operation in Iraq, CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) receives intelligence that an American prisoner of war has been turned by Al Qaida and will be unleashed back on home shores to wreak havoc. Soon after, US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who has been missing since 2003, is rescued from captivity. Thus begins this award-winning series inspired by the acclaimed Israeli drama, Hatufim. The four-disc set includes all 12 nail-biting episodes.
The Lodger (Cert PG, 79 mins, Network, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Alfred Hitchcock's 1927 silent masterpiece has been lovingly restored to its former glory by the BFI National Archive and looks handsome on the home formats. Matinee idol Ivor Novello is mesmerising in the title role, playing an enigmatic stranger who secures lodgings with Mrs Bunting (Marie Ault), while a serial killer dubbed The Avenger runs amok on the fog-shrouded streets of London. Multi-award winning composer Nitin Sawhney provides a new score to jangle the nerves and both DVD and Blu-ray are packaged with soundtrack CDs.
Margin Call (Cert 15, 102 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Unfolding over 36 tense hours, Margin Call explores the questionable morality of a fictitious group of men and women at the centre of the current global financial crisis. If Gordon Gecko, the oily anti-hero of Oliver Stone's Wall Street, was right and greed is good, then the characters in writer-director JC Chandor's film are very good indeed. Jeremy Irons chews scenery as the ruthless company CEO, while Kevin Spacey reflects humanity in the eye of a storm as a department head trying to protect the people under him.
Sound Of My Voice (Cert 15, 81 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £27.99)
Shot largely within the claustrophobic confines of a basement lair, Sound Of My Voice is a low-budget cinematic conundrum that steeps ambiguity and suggestion upon inference and innuendo, leaving us guessing about the ulterior motives of a cult in San Fernando Valley led by Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to be a time-travelling prophet from 2054. Film-makers Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) pose as willing disciples in order to infiltrate the cult and expose Maggie as a charlatan, but the interlopers question their assumptions.
DVD and Blu-ray retail top 10
1 (-) The Dark Knight Rises
2 (1) Ted
3 (-) The Bourne Legacy
4 (3) Brave
5 (-) The Dark Knight Trilogy
6 (2) The Amazing Spider-Man
7 (7) Michael McIntyre: Showtime
8 (-) New Year's Eve
9 (5) Arthur Christmas
10 (8) Mrs Brown's Boys Live Tour: Good Mourning Mrs Brown
Chart supplied by www.hmv.com
DVD rental top 10
1 (-) The Bourne Legacy
2 (1) Ted
3 (-) Rock Of Ages
4 (2) Dr Seuss' The Lorax
5 (5) The Five-Year Engagement
6 (4) Snow White And The Huntsman
7 (-) Prometheus
8 (6) The Dictator
9 (3) What To Expect When You're Expecting
10 (8) Avengers Assemble
Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk
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