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Zombieland: Double Tap - DVD Review

Zombieland: Double Tap

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE cinematic equivalent of a Twinkie, Zombieland 2: Double Tap is a guilty pleasure that’s fun without being particularly good for you.

Boasting the return of all its principal players – from Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin in the lead roles to Ruben Fleischer as director and Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick as co-writers – this belated sequel employs the same wit and camaraderie but nowhere near as much heart.

Set 10 years on from the surprise hit original, the film picks up as zombies have evolved and the central group of Columbus (Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Harrelson), Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin) are holed up in The White House.

But the family dynamics are fractured. Wichita has been spooked by Columbus’ marriage proposal and Little Rock wants to meet someone her own age. When the two sisters decide to hit the road, it’s left to Columbus and Tallahassee to go after them.

Given that co-writers Reese and Wernick (now joined by Dave Callaham) have penned two Deadpool movies in the intervening period between Zombieland 1 and 2 it’s perhaps not surprising to find the wit more acerbic and pop culture referencing this time around.

The fourth wall is broken almost immediately when Eisenberg’s narrator thanks the audience for coming back given the high number of zombie-related alternatives. And the same voiceover continues to inform the viewer of the many references the film is making, sometimes getting in the way of the narrative flow.

But Double Tap‘s undoubted strengths lie in its main cast, who exhibit the same chemistry that helped to make them so cool first time around. Harrelson, in particular, shines, whether struggling to come to terms with a new vehicle of choice, or indulging his Elvis Presley adoration with a surprise new love interest.

While newcomers such as Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch, as a brain challenged new love rival for Columbus’ affections, also make a good impression, while Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch crop up as two doppelgangers with inevitably amusing results.

Fleischer keeps the action lively and the many kills suitably bloody and inventive, dropping in a couple of classic [and grisly] death moves without feeling overly gratuitous or offensive. And there are some really well realised comedy scenarios that throw in a few surprises and twists on the genre, including a must-stay and see return for one of the first film’s best cameo performers [twice during the end credits].

Where Double Tap stutters, however, is in its decision to play things steadfastly for laughs. The first film became such a hit because it did all of the above while throwing in some genuinely affecting and even poignant emotional arcs (with Tallahassee’s back-story particularly affecting).

This time around, there’s no such investment, which feels like a missed opportunity. Indeed, it’s a shortcoming of the film in general that a lot of what is set up (either by the first film or certain plot beats here) never gets fully realised.

An early introduction to the three types of evolved zombie is almost instantly forgotten (with the more clever versions of the undead never materialising), while even the Terminator-style super-zombies feel under-developed and a waste of their potential (not that the first Zombieland was really about the zombies).

But the writing here feels much looser, while the casual disregard for life (albeit zombie life) leaves you feeling under-nourished.

Zombieland: Double Tap is therefore a vastly inferior sequel in many ways, but one that still succeeds in entertaining on a silly, instantly disposable level. It’s a fun treat that delivers the odd rush – but you may well feel guilty for liking it as much as you do afterwards.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 97mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 24, 2020

Zombieland: Double Tap - DVD Preview

Zombieland: Double Tap

Preview by Jack Foley

REMEMBER to limber up and beware of bathrooms, as Woody Harrelson (Venom), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens) and Emma Stone (La La Land) return to the United States of Zombieland 10 years after their first undead adventure for Ruben Fleischer’s long-awaited Zombieland: Double Tap available to Digital Download now and coming to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on February 24, 2020, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Experience an all-new adventure with some of your favourite zombie apocalypse survivors, as well as newcomers Rosario Dawson (TV’s The Defenders), Zoey Deutch (TV’s The Politician), Luke Wilson (Old School), Avan Jogia (Shaft) and Thomas Middleditch (TV’s Silicon Valley).

Set one decade after the events of the first film, Zombieland: Double Tap finds Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Little Rock (Breslin), and Wichita (Stone) working together as a well-oiled, zombie-killing machine with a new home in the now-vacant White House.

These four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.

In addition to the film’s on-screen reunion, Zombieland: Double Tap brings back several fan-favourites behind the camera as well.

Director Ruben Fleischer returns to the Zombieland universe after the blockbuster debut of Venom in 2018, directing a script penned by original Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, in addition to Dave Callaham, solidifying Zombieland: Double Tap as an event 10 years in the making.

Blu-ray™ bonus exclusive materials for Zombieland: Double Tap include extended bloopers and outtakes, alternative and extended scenes and along with the DVD also includes an audio commentary by Ruben Fleischer and more!

Zombieland: Double Tap has a runtime of approximately 1 hour 33 minutes and is rated 15.

Win Hotel Mumbai on DVD

Hotel Mumbai

Based on the true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai, Hotel Mumbai stars Academy Award Nominee Dev Patel (Lion, Slumdog Millionaire) in this ‘breathlessly sustained suspense’ (Metro), biographical thriller alongside Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name). The Sky Cinema Original will be released on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD on January 27, 2020, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

On November 26, 2008, a wave of devastating terror attacks throughout Mumbai catapulted the bustling Indian metropolis into chaos. In the heart of the city’s tourist district, Jihadist terrorists laid siege to the iconic Taj Palace Hotel, whose guests and staff became trapped in a heroic, day-long fight for survival.

Inspired by the stories of survivors of the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, Hotel Mumbai is a powerful and poignant film, which is ‘bursting with excellent performances’ (Film Stories).

Hotel Mumbai also stars Jason Isaacs (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), Tilda Cobham-Hervey (One Eyed Girl) and Anupam Kher (The Big Sick).

Read our review

To celebrate the release of Hotel Mumbai on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, January 27, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies. Simply answer the question below….

Q. Who directs Hotel Mumbai (Clue, the answer is in our review)?

A) Anthony Maras
B) Paul Maras
C) Adam Maras

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

Win Ready or Not on Blu-ray

Ready or Not

Preview by Jack Foley

IT’S game on as the adrenaline-fuelled Ready Or Not is now available on Digital Download and on Blu-ray™, DVD and VOD. To celebrate the release, we have three Blu-ray copies of the film to giveaway to three lucky winners!

Details are as follows…

A killer game sees a young bride fighting for her life against her disastrous in-laws on her wedding day. Watch this quick-witted, blood splattered comedy-horror at your own risk!

The sanctity of marriage goes straight to hell when a young bride (Samara Weaving) competes in a time-honoured tradition with her new husband (Mark O’Brien) and his insanely rich and eccentric Le Domas family (Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, and Andie MacDowell).

The bride’s wedding night takes a turn for the worst when she realises she is at the centre of a lethal game of ‘Hide and Seek’ and must fight her not-so-loveable in-laws for her own survival.

The home entertainment release is slaying with special features as writers Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy give insight on their script’s exploration of the Faustian bargain made by the Le Domas family.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and Producer Chad Villella explain how they used practical effects to deliver an authentically bloody film.

To be in with the chance of winning, simply answer the question below!

Q. Which actor plays the bride in the film?

A) Margot Robbie
B) Samara Weaving
C) Reese Witherspoon

Simply send the answer to Ready or Not competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Add Ready Or Not to your digital download collection now.

Black and Blue - DVD Preview

Black and Blue

Preview by Jack Foley

ARRIVING on Digital Download on February 17 and DVD on March 2, 2020, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Black And Blue is a fast-paced action-thriller directed by Deon Taylor (The Intruder) and starring Academy Award® nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight) and Tyrese Gibson (Fast and Furious 7).

A rookie cop (Harris) inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Gibson) as she tries to escape the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.

Black And Blue also stars Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy), Mike Colter (TV’s Luke Cage), Reid Scott (TV’s Veep) and Beau Knapp (Death Wish).

DVD and Digital Bonus Features:

•Deleted scenes.

•Line of Fire: Director Deon Taylor discusses his vision for the film, how it implements body cameras and what sets it apart from other police-lead thrillers.

•The Change in the Big Easy: Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson discuss their roles, filming in New Orleans and the poser of unspoken words.

Black And Blue has a run time of approximately 1 hour 48 minutes and is rated 15.

Win Monos on DVD

Monos

Preview by Jack Foley

Picturehouse Entertainment is delighted to announce the Home Entertainment release of Monos, the Best Film winner at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival. It will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital on February 17, 2020 following its critical and box office success.

Directed by Alejandro Landes (Porfirio) and starring Julianne Nicholson and Moisés Aries, alongside newcomers Sofia Buenaventura, Julián Giraldo and Karen Quintero, Monos is a unique and epic experience.

On a remote mountaintop, a rebel group of commandos perform military training exercises while watching over a prisoner (Julianne Nicholson) for a shadowy force known only as ‘The Organization’. After a series of unexpected events drives them deep into the jungle, fracturing their intricate bond, their mission slowly begins to collapse.

Set against a stunningly beautiful but dangerous landscape, Alejandro Landes’s awe-inspiring film is a breathtakingly epic vision that will leave you both mesmerised and utterly gripped.

Having been in competition in Sundance (where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award) and Berlin 2019 (nominated for Best Feature Film), it was also entered in competition for this year’s BIFA awards (nominated for Best International Independent Film), as well as receiving two nominations for the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards (nominated for Foreign-Language Film of the Year and Technical Achievement Award).

As well as stunning performances from the young cast, the film has an amazing score by Mica Levi (Jackie and Under The Skin), praised by audiences and critics alike.

Monos will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital on February 17, 2020.

Win Monos on DVD

To celebrate the release of Monos on Blu-ray and DVD from February 17, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Monos?

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

Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) - DVD Review

Joker

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

TODD Phillips delivers another hangover of a movie in Joker, albeit one where the laughs are few and far between and the messages fly thick, fast and in grim, disturbing fashion.

Much less a comic book movie and more a sly, insightful piece of social commentary, this pulls off an incredibly neat trick by framing a cautionary tale about mental health within the single most watched film genre of the moment.

That’s not to say that it turns its back on the universe in which it exists, feeding into Batman folklore in masterful fashion. But in a move worthy of the Joker’s own ability to toy with people’s psychology, this film confronts difficult subject matter, challenges contemporary morality and ethics and leaves you with a head-spinning conundrum.

Joker continually toys with its audience. How much did you like/enjoy it? How far did you sympathise with its main protagonist? Did you understand him? Could you condone him? Is his journey an inevitable one born from society’s indifference and/or ignorance to the issues surrounding him (abuse, mental illness, loneliness and rejection)?

A lot has been made of Joker’s relationship to Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, which is accurate and even nodded to in the casting of Robert De Niro in a supporting role. But I was also reminded of Se7en for the way in which it surrounds its viewers in unremitting bleakness, only finding light (via its character’s own epiphany) in its darkest hour.

The result is astonishingly powerful in the way that it delivers a gut punch finale. But then that’s no more than the film deserves.

Essentially a character study, Joker chronicles the rise of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), an unsuccessful clown with dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian, as he slowly becomes one of cinema’s most iconic villains.

Initially, Arthur is just attempting to exist within the squalid, rat-infested streets of Gotham City in 1981. But he’s handicapped by a condition that forces him to laugh uncontrollably in certain situations (of anxiety or distress), meaning that he is written off as a loner and a freak. Worse still, he’s quite often beaten up and left in a crumpled heap.

But after being pushed too far, Arthur begins to assume a new identity – that of a darker clown, partly in response to the media manipulation of a violent situation he was at the centre of. With civil unrest creating a divide between Gotham’s rich and poor, society embraces the Joker as some kind of hero – a cult figure giving voice to a thousand grievances.

It’s only a matter of time before the tensions simmer over and Gotham’s streets are flooded with violent rebellion.

Working from a script co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver, leading man Phoenix offers up a transformative performance as Arthur/Joker, creating a villain who is frighteningly real. As such, comparisons with past Jokers (not least Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight) are redundant.

This is a completely different beast. The focus is almost entirely on Arthur. We witness his pain, his heartbreak, his anguish and his rebellion. And for each of us, there will be a certain point where he crosses the line from anti-hero to out and out psychopath.

But Silver and Phillips don’t just take us on a journey; they explore the reasons for it and its consequence. Arthur’s condition is a focal point for some of the mental health issues facing society today: whether in the lack of funding that sees so many people left to fend for themselves, or in the way that every day people view and often shun it.

Joker

Yet while certainly provocative in its outcome, few people could deny that Arthur’s journey holds a mirror up to American social problems, in particular, and the problems that the right to bear arms brings. In that regard, it is uncomfortable; but designed to be.

Concerns over empowering incel culture (otherwise known as involuntary celibates), or provoking copycat acts, fall wide of the mark, in my opinion. The film isn’t irresponsible in the way it confronts such issues without ever suggesting we should condone them. Rather, it invites viewers to judge for themselves and to perhaps be more wary of these issues… to bring them out into the open. It’s why so much has been, and continues to be, written about it.

Mental health and the battle to recognise and support it is one of the biggest issues surrounding society today. It’s a battle-ground that’s on a par with feminism and race, albeit one that encroaches upon every gender and race. It’s arguably why Phillips chose to place Arthur on a bus filled with people of colour in a key early scene.

But Joker doesn’t empower violent behaviour. Its depiction of violence isn’t gratuitous. It is unsettling and horrible.

And Phillips isn’t seeking to suggest that every case of untreated mental illness is a mass killer in waiting. Such suggestions are as wide of the mark and hysteria promoting as notions of Jaws depicting great white sharks as one of the biggest threats to mankind, which therefore must be hunted to the point of extinction.

Joker is many things, but it doesn’t set out to be dangerous or irresponsible. Rather, some of the accusations being levelled against it could be. What it does promote, in my opinion, is rational debate surrounding sensitive and complex issues.

If this sounds a million miles removed from the notion of what a comic book movie should represent, then that’s perhaps deliberate in part. Joker could yet become its own forum to debate such issues. But as previously stated, it doesn’t lose sight of the requirements of the character.

The final moments are spectacular in the way they set up a potential wider Batman universe, while feeding into what’s known about the characters. If anything, Joker re-imagines the superhero genre in the same way that Christopher Nolan did previously with the Dark Knight trilogy.

In doing so, it also re-establishes a villain as someone to fear, or to be terrified by. At a time when many movie villains are embraced by popular culture and emblazoned across T-shirts, Phoenix’s Joker shouldn’t be able to be ‘idolised’ in such a manner. He’s in no way cool. He does strike fear. He makes you nervous.

Phoenix’s performance is such that he inhabits this person, exposing his complexity for all to see. He can be sympathetic. But there’s always something uneasy about him, something unreal. He gets into our heads and refuses to budge. He lingers and he haunts. We can see why he becomes who he does… but it doesn’t make the journey any easier, or any less sad in its own melancholic way.

Joker is a film to admire more than like. But it shouldn’t be underestimated. It is a massively impressive, highly intelligent, openly provocative and ferociously performed masterpiece.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 2mins
UK Blu-ray and DVD Release: February 10, 2020

Abominable - DVD Review

Abominable

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HEART-warming and visually ravishing, new animated adventure Abominable may not boast the most original concept but it’s very big on charm.

Following hot-on-the-heels of similarly themed mythical ape movies (Smallfoot and Missing Link), this collaboration between DreamWorks and the China-based Pearl Studio nevertheless boasts plenty to recommend it, not least in the way that it embraces Chinese culture and even adopts some of Studio Ghibli’s more emotional traits.

The story is simple: Chinese teenager Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet) is still quietly coming to terms with the death of her father, when she comes across an escaped yeti hiding out on her rooftop.

This abominable snowman has been the captive of rich collector-explorer Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his zoologist assistant (Sarah Paulson) and they are hot on his trail, along with a team of bad guys.

But Yi determines to get him back to his home on Everest and enlists the help of basketball fixated cousin Peng (Albert Tsai) and resident ladies man Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor).

Their ensuing adventure takes them across various mountain ranges and rivers, while bringing this unlikely foursome closer together, as well as helping Yi to understand and overcome her grief.

If the plot beats are fairly predictable, Abominable still thrives in other areas. Its notable for making its own kind of history by making its writer-director, Jill Culton, the first-ever woman to direct an animated film with a female lead.

But it also boasts a timely message about being kind to each other as well as the wider world and its creatures, as well as embracing different cultures and practices. It also offers a supremely satisfying and sometimes extremely poignant emotional journey (enhanced by a classic Coldplay tune popping up at a crucial moment). Yi’s story arc is particularly endearing and draws comparisons with the likes of both Pixar and Studio Ghibli at their best during one or two key moments.

The creature, too, is suitably furry and loveable, while Yi’s accomplices – while certainly stereotypical at times – also exhibit winning personalities, learning their various lessons along the way.

Visually, the film is also beautiful, drawing on its Chinese backdrop to create vistas that are both breath-taking and different from the US norm.

True, there are elements that require huge suspensions of disbelief and some of the writing opts for contrived escapes from certain scenarios that don’t always seem logical. But Culton maintains the film’s optimism and fantasy to ensure that it’s refreshingly cynical free. And that’s its own kind of tonic for families seeking some inspiring escapism.

Minor gripes aside, it would take a very hard heart indeed not to be melted by Abominable‘s considerable charm.

Certificate: U
Running time: 97mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 10, 2020

Win A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon on DVD

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Preview by Jack Foley

FROM the creators of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit comes A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, on Digital Download, Blu-ray, DVD and double pack on February 10, 2020. Available to pre-order now.

Strange lights over the quiet town of Mossingham herald the arrival of a mystery visitor from far across the galaxy… but at nearby Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun has other things on his mind, as his mischievous schemes are continually thwarted by an exasperated Bitzer.

When an impish and adorable alien with amazing powers crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun soon sees an opportunity for alien-powered fun and adventure, setting off on a mission to shepherd the intergalactic visitor home before a sinister organisation can capture her…can Shaun and the flock avert Farmageddon on Mossy Bottom Farm before it’s too late?

Hold on to your seats as we blast off on an exciting and heart-warming sci-fi comedy adventure that takes us from Mossy Bottom all the way into deep space, via a car wash!

Read our review

Win A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon on DVD

To celebrate the release of A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon on Blu-ray and DVD from February 10, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (clue, the answer is in our review)?

Simply send the answer to A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win a Vintage Classics Blu-ray bundle including the newly restored edition of The Winslow Boy

The Winslow Boy

Preview by Jack Foley

THE 1948 searing British drama The Winslow Boy is the latest exciting addition to join Studiocanal’s Vintage Classics Collection. Stunningly restored with brand new bonus content, The Winslow Boy – based on Terence Rattigan’s famous play – comes to Blu-ray and DVD on February 3, 2020.

Directed by Anthony Asquith (The Browning Version, Pygmalion) and adapted from the seminal play by Terence Rattigan (The Deep Blue Sea, Separate Tables), The Winslow Boy is a classic tale of standing up to bureaucracy and one family’s testing fight for justice, based on the real-life 1908 case of George Archer-Shee, and stars Cedric Hardwicke, Robert Donat and Margaret Leighton.

To celebrate we’re giving away a Vintage Classics bundle which includes The Winslow Boy plus Guy
Hamilton’s An Inspector Calls, starring Alastair Sim, and Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol starring Ralph Richardson.

For your chance to win The Winslow Boy Vintage Classics bundle on Blu-ray simply answer the following question…

Q. The Winslow Boy was remade in 1999 starring which actor in the Robert Donat role as barrister Sir Robert Morton?

A) Jeremy Northam
B) Jeremy Irons
C) Jeremy Paxman

Simply send the answer to The Winslow Boy competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

The Winslow Boy is released as part of the Vintage Classics collection which showcases iconic British films, all fully restored and featuring brand new extra content. The collection includes Kind Hearts & Coronets, The Dam Busters, Billy Liar, Don’t Look Now, Death On The Nile, Far From The Madding Crowd, The Wicker Man, The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Railway Children, It Always Rains On Sunday, The Holly And The Ivy, The Halfway House and many more.