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Inferno (Tom Hanks) - DVD Review

Inferno

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE greatest puzzle surrounding Tom Hanks’ latest foray into Dan Brown territory is just how these films continue to get made.

If 2006’s The Da Vinci Code offered a certain hokey charm that was as much fuelled by the religious controversy surrounding as it was by seeing one of the world’s biggest [and nicest] movie stars run around Paris searching for clues hidden amid the world’s greatest artworks while being pursued by a killer albino monk , then 2009’s Angels & Demons showed that the novelty value of the basic premise was quick to wear off.

Alas, the lessons haven’t been learned in Inferno, which again finds Hanks’s Professor Robert Langdon, the world’s pre-eminent symbolist, once more called upon to solve a series of clues in order to save the world from being decimated by a man-made plague.

The plague in question has been created by biotech billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who has become obsessed with humanity’s imminent demise due to over-population. Hence, if the Black Death caused a naturally created thinning out that also sparked the Renaissance, then what good could potentially come from a man-made virus designed to offer the planet a chance of survival?

Rather than unleashing the virus as a random act of terrorism, however, Zobrist commits suicide and hides it, prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to engage Langdon to solve the clues needed to locate its whereabouts.

But Langdon himself is in trouble. As the film opens, he is lying in a Florence hospital with a gunshot graze to the head, suffering from visions of the end of the world, possibly as the result of an injection he has been given. A female assassin is after him, and a kind doctor (Felicity Jones’s Sienna) offers him sympathetic support, particularly given her past passion for the work of Dante.

With everyone on their tail and unsure of who to trust, Langdon and Sienna inevitably go on the run across Florence and other parts of Italy in another race-against-time.

Early on, returning director Ron Howard imbues his film with a keen sense of disorientation that keeps you hooked. The visions of the impending apocalypse are harrowing (and 12A stretching) and the sheer breathless pace of the chase means you’re working as hard as Langdon to keep up.

But as things begin to take shape, the realisation quickly sets in that the film is running around in circles. Langdon and Sienna keep finding themselves in seemingly impossible to escape situations that then revolve around a secret door, while the so-called high brow puzzle-solving is difficult to care about and usually involves people staring at fantastic paintings with confusion etched across their faces for a couple of minutes at a time.

Perhaps worse, the duplicity that supposedly offers clever twists during the third act fails to deliver the kind of gasps of awe they are designed to; merely groans of indifference. Part of this has to do with the lack of any real character building the film offers, which even extends to Hanks. Simply put, there is very little that Hanks can do with the character, who struggles to be as charismatic as the actor normally allows or as interesting.

Jones, for her part, offers a feisty but highly unlikely ally, Foster isn’t afforded enough screen time to provide a credible villain (at least The Da Vinci Code provided Langdon with a couple of worthy adversaries), while the chasing pack – including Omar Sy’s WHO operative and Irrfan Khan’s shady businessman prone to sinister deeds – are also poorly sketched characters. Indeed, in the case of Khan’s character, the question of who he is working for or why is never really answered.

Come the final Istanbul-set final act, in which all parties converge in an attempt to either trigger or avert the release of the virus, things have become so ridiculous that any tension is dissipated either by yawns or – if you’ve had the temerity to keep up – laughter.

Indeed, the though occurs that Zobrist has concocted the kind of overly elaborate world-ending plan that a Bond villain usually concocts to get rid of 007, with similarly predictable results. The only problem is that this normal last act scenario is, with Inferno, stretched out across a two-hour movie.

Hence, despite the presence of an A-list cast, some fancy locations and some slick direction, Inferno is actually a very poor movie, hamstrung by the absurd nature of the source material.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 2hrs 1min
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 20, 2017

Free State of Jones (Matthew McConaughey) - DVD Review

Free State of Jones

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE true story of Newton Knight, a blacksmith turned Confederate stretcher bearer who eventually deserted and led a rebellion against his own commanders during the American Civil War, is as fascinating as it is remarkable. Alas, the film version of these events struggles to fully do justice to the complexity of the story it depicts.

Free State of Jones is by no means a bad film. Indeed, it’s anchored by another memorable lead performance from Matthew McConaughey. And the insights it affords into Civil War politics, both during and after the fighting took place, are eye-brow raising and certainly relevant to America – if not the world – today.

But director Gary Ross finds himself having to cram too much in, which makes his decision to include a contemporary courtroom sub-plot involving one of Knight’s descendants all the more frustrating.

The film picks up mid-war, in the wake of the bloody Battle of Corinth, which prompts Knight to desert the army in order to do the right thing for his own family rather than fight on behalf of the cotton farmers whose profits are being protected by the blood of those less fortunate.

Once home, he becomes a wanted man and is forced to take refuge in the southern Mississippi swamp, where he is taken in by a small group of runaway slaves aided by Rachel, a house slave owned by a local planter (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Saddled with the knowledge that his own wife and child have left him, Knight soon becomes romantically involved with Rachel.

But as his reputation for standing up for the rights of his fellow countrymen grows, Knight finds himself the unlikely leader of a rebellion against the Confederate Home Guard and State politicians, whose tyrannical policies are placing a strain on honest farm-folk. A guerrilla war ensues, which eventually leads to Knight forming a new independent state (named after the county he and his fellow fighters hail from).

But as the Civil War comes to an end, Knight continues to find himself at odds with authority, as the new anti-slave laws being imposed by the North are interpreted in sly fashion by the South, while hardship and poverty continues.

With so much story to tell, the decision to intercut some of this with a modern-day legal case involving an inter-racial marriage feels unnecessarily ambitious and is to the detriment of the smooth flowing of the film, especially as it leads to an over-simplification of some of the more complex issues concerning the historical events at play.

Knight’s own personal life, for instance, is glossed over. For while latter scenes see him living with both Rachel and their child, as well as his former wife and first-born son, there’s no real attempt to explore the tension this may have caused. And the film neglects to point out that Knight went onto have several children with both women.

Some of the issues the film raises concerning the welfare and rights of slaves post-war also feel rushed; touched upon by way of quick conversation and then discarded a little too cheaply. While the overly Christian outlook of the film sometimes feels preachy and – again – comes at the expense of some of the more morally complex elements at play.

That being said, Free State of Jones does greatly benefit from a commanding central performance from McConaughey, who hints at the shades of grey in Knight that the script rarely explores. He is a towering presence throughout.

Mbatha-Raw is suitably feisty and resilient as Rachel, while Mahershala Ali gives similarly good value as a former slave named Moses, whose own story is equally as striking as Knight’s despite being given much less time. Indeed, it’s another criticism of the film that many of the events unfold from a largely white perspective.

In terms of look and feel, though, Ross nails the wastefulness of war and the sense of desperation and anxiety among Knight’s followers. And while seldom taking time to properly explore many of the points it raises, it does at least have the conviction to raise them, thereby emerging as a film that is likely to provoke some debate afterwards as well as research for those interested in finding out more.

As flawed as it certainly is, Free State of Jones still remains a worthwhile investment of anyone’s time.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 140mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 20, 2017

Win I Am Not A Serial Killer on Blu-ray and a panda balaclava

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Preview by Jack Foley

TO celebrate the home entertainment release of I Am Not A Serial Killer on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on February 20, 2017, and available to download now, we have a copy of the film on Blu-ray, and a panda balaclava, courtesy of Bulldog Films Distribution!

A dazzlingly original, darkly funny and disturbing gem with a genre-bending twist, about a small town teenager in the US, obsessed with serial killers, who unwittingly discovers the identity of the killer who has been slaughtering residents for body parts.

Featuring a star-making lead performance from 17-year-old Max Records, and an extraordinary turn from Back To The Future’s legendary Christopher Lloyd, I Am Not A Serial Killer is the most sheerly entertaining and audaciously offbeat offering since Donnie Darko hit cinema screens.

A big hit when it premiered at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March, and was a must-see film at the prestigious BFI London Film Festival. It proves that left field indie cinema is alive and kicking, even if the Clayton County killer’s victims aren’t. “Hit the switch John…”

Win I Am Not A Serial Killer on Blu-ray and a panda balaclava

To celebrate the release of I Am Not A Serial Killer on Blu-ray and DVD from February 20, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 copy on Blu-ray and a panda balaclava. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Which Back To The Future legend also stars in I Am Not A Serial Killer?

Simply send the answer to I Am Not A Serial Killer competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Marauders on DVD and watch a clip

Marauders

Preview by Jack Foley

MARAUDERS delivers a knock-out combination of an exhilarating, high-octane thriller that keeps you guessing at every turn.

An all-star cast of Bruce Willis, Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista and Adrian Grenier will discover that all is not as it seems as they battle for survival in the world of high-stakes bank heists…

After an untraceable group of elite bank robbers execute the perfect heist, making off with millions in cash whilst leaving a dead bank manager in their wake, the FBI Agents investigating the robbery/homicide (Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista and Adrian Grenier) begin to uncover signs of corruption involving the bank’s owner (Bruce Willis) and his high power clients.

As they dig deeper into the case, the Feds realise that appearances can be deceiving, and in order to untangle a complicated web of deception and corruption they must push themselves to the brink – where the lines between right and wrong are often blurred.

Marauders – directed by Steven C. Miller – will be available on Blu-ray™, DVD and available to digitally own from February 20, 2017.

Win Marauders on DVD

To celebrate the release of Marauders on Blu-ray and DVD from February 20, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Marauders?

Simply send the answer to Marauders competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Watch a clip from Marauders

Win Memories of Underdevelopment on Blu-ray

Memories of Underdevelopment

Preview by Jack Foley

LISTED at number 54 on Derek Malcolm’s 100 Greatest Movies, the cinematic masterpiece, Memories of Underdevelopment has been fully restored using the original camera and sound negative by Cineteca di Bologna with a vintage duplicate provided by the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos.

This international initiative to save the film from decay was funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation and the Martin Scorsese-chaired World Cinema Project, founded to provide a resource for those countries lacking archival and technical facilities.

Memories of Underdevelopment is directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and follows Sergio (Sergio Corrieri – Soy Cuba), through his life, following the departure of his wife, parents and friends in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Alone in a brave new world, Sergio observes the constant threat of foreign invasion, before meeting Elena (Daisy Granados), a young woman he seeks to mould into the image of his ex-wife, but at what cost to himself?

Win Memories of Underdevelopment on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Memories of Underdevelopment on Blu-ray from February 20, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Memories of Underdevelopment?

Simply send the answer to Memories of Underdevelopment competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Free State of Jones on DVD

Free State of Jones

Preview by Jack Foley

STUDIOCANAL is pleased to announce that the historical war epic Free State Of Jones is coming to Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on February 13, 2017 and will be available on EST from February 20, 2017.
To celebrate the release of this remarkable and inspirational true story, we have 3 x DVDs up for grabs!

Written and directed by four-time Oscar® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar® winner Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club), Free State Of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy.

Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

To be in with a chance of winning, just answer this question…

Q. When is Free State of Jones set?

A) American Civil War
B) World War II
C) Boer War

Simply send the answer to Free State of Jones competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Free State Of Jones will be available on EST from February 13, 2017 and on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD from February 20, 2017. Pre-order now

Win a Valentine's DVD bundle

Valentine competition

The perfect match this Valentine’s Day!

Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with these great titles from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. To help you make the most out of this romantic day with that special someone in your life, we have this unmissable feel-good package up for grabs, comprised of Me Before You, Crazy Stupid Love, Valentine’s Day, The Great Gatsby and Gone With The Wind.

From an all time classic to a modern heart-pumping blockbuster, a real tear-jerker to those that get your heart racing, we have a film to suit any mood.

Win a Valentine’s DVD package

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a DVD bundle comprised of Me Before You, Crazy Stupid Love, Valentine’s Day, The Great Gatsby and Gone With The Wind. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Which of the movies listed about features Rhett Butler?

Simply send the answer to Valentine DVD bundle competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Trolls - DVD Review

Trolls

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

A SUGAR coated candy rush of colourful, glittery excess, Trolls is a family movie clearly designed to leave you on the highest of highs.

But while certainly fun in places, and even inspired at others, this latest from the creators of Shrek sometimes overdoses on the sweetness and leaves you feeling bloated and sick. That being said, kids will have a blast and a new franchise could well be born.

Inspired by the classic toy dolls with long hair and hollow heads that became something of a phenomenon in the ’60s, Trolls also takes its cues from past animated hits such as Shrek, The Smurfs and Happy Feet with a large dollop of Disney thrown in for good measure.

The plot follows a happy princess named Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) whose decision to throw the biggest party ever for her fellow Trolls grabs the unwanted attention of a bitter, banished Bergen named Chef (Christine Baranski), who subsequently rounds the little people up to serve to her fellow Bergens as happy meals (quite literally, given their belief that by eating a Troll they will find happiness).

It’s left to Poppy and fellow surviving Troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) to mount a rescue operation, which – in turn – relies on them being able to put aside their differences and enlist the unlikely help of an outcast Bergen.

Early on, there’s a keen sense of fun and pop culture references that play as well to adults as they do to kids, with the songs – overseen by Timberlake – inviting some colourful dance routines that are clearly designed to have the children dancing in the aisles.

But once the film arrives at Bergentown and detours into a Cinderella sub-plot, it loses momentum and feels lazy. The zip is missing and the messages are all too obvious. It’s not until Timberlake gets to sing a beautifully melancholy cover version of Cindy Lauper’s True Colours that the film rediscovers its own magic.

Thereafter, it’s a countdown to another of Timberlake’s songs, the irresistibly catchy Can’t Stop The Feeling, which ensures the film ends on the same kind of rush that it began.

Hence, while never achieving the levels of sophistication or invention that mark Pixar out as the continued standard-bearers for this kind of thing, Trolls works on its own, more simplistic merits.

Kendrick and Timberlake make for engaging vocal leads, there are some fine oddball characters along the way (including Walt Dohrn’s deliberately annoying Cloud Guy), as well as some suitably colourful landscapes and more than one or two sight and musical gags to savour.

And while the flaws are many and obvious, Trolls is lively enough to overcome most of them to emerge as a generally satisfying experience.

Certificate: U
Running time: 92mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 13, 2017

Keeping Up With The Joneses - Preview

Keeping Up With The Joneses

Preview by Jack Foley

GET ready for the action comedy of the year as Keeping Up With The Joneses arrives on Digital HD, VOD and DVD on February 13, 2017.

From director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Paul, Adventureland), Keeping Up With The Joneses is a cringingly laugh-out-loud comedy that packs an all-star cast including Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover Trilogy, Birdman) Isla Fisher (Now You See Me, Grimsby), Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Fast & Furious).

Keeping Up With The Joneses follows an ordinary suburban couple, Jeff (Galifianakis) and Karen Gaffney (Fisher), who find it’s not easy keeping up with the Joneses — their impossibly attractive and ultra-sophisticated new neighbours — especially when they discover Mr. and Mrs. Jones are covert spies embroiled in international espionage.

Tim Jones (Hamm) is an accomplished travel writer whose hobbies include blowing glass and his wife, Natalie (Gadot) is a social media consultant, cooking blogger and heroine to Sri Lankan orphans. The Gaffney’s soon get a breathtaking glimpse of life outside their cul-de-sac.

Keeping Up With The Joneses will have you belly laughing and biting your fist at the same time. It’s awkward, sexy, hilarious and the perfect last minute Valentine’s gift for your partner!

DVD Special Features

- Deleted Scenes – Four hilarious deleted scenes, plus the original opening.

- Spy Game – The stars reveal their roles in the car chases, love story and goofy bro-mance that melded into the perfect blend of ‘burbs and bullets.

- Keeping Up With Georgia – Go on location and see how Georgia doubled as the backdrop for both a sleepy, idyllic neighbourhood and a stunt-filled setting for spycraft.

Win Blair Witch on Blu-ray

Blair Witch

Preview by Jack Foley

VISIONARY director Adam Wingard unleashed one of the cinematic surprises of 2016 when he returned to the world of the Blair Witch, which is now coming to digital platforms on January 16, 2017, and on Blu-ray, DVD and alongside a double pack with The Blair Witch Project on January 23, 2017 courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film follows a group of college students who venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of James’ sister, which many people believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch.

At first the group is hopeful, especially when a young local couple offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods.

However, as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend of the Blair Witch is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.

Expanding on the mythology created in the iconic The Blair Witch Project, Blair Witch is at once an exercise in slow-burning tension and a heart-pounding study in terror that further proves Wingard really is modern horror cinema’s saviour.

Blair Witch is available on Blu-ray and DVD on January 23, 2017.

Read our preview

To celebrate the release of Blair Witch on DVD and Blu-ray on January 23, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. What name did Blair Witch originally go by while being made (Clue, the answer is in our preview)?

A) The Witching Hour
B) The Woods
C) Book of Shadows

Simply send the answer to Blair Witch competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email