RT on DVD

RT on DVD: District 9, Ponyo, Young Victoria

Plus Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock and Vanessa Hudgens in Bandslam

by | December 31, 2009 | Comments


[tomatometer]MuzeID=1190668[/tomatometer]

District 9

Thank god for fallen projects.

Peter Jackson was all set to make a movie-adaptation of the phenomenally successful, but shackled in red-tape, Halo. When that project fell into a hole, rather than walk away, Jackson gave first-time feature director, Neill Blomkamp the nod to adapt his 2005 short film Alive in Joburg and District 9 was born.

An alien spaceship lands in Johannesburg. Cue a multinational, private military corporation to keep the peace and build the slums. This could have been a very solid, hot-looking sci-fi action flick. Instead, Blomkamp and Jackson made a thought-provoking, emotional, powerful allegory about apartheid; that is also a seriously hot looking well-above-average sci-fi action flick.

The realism of the alien creatures is a powerful driver behind the film’s emotional success. Flawlessly constructed, with just enough humanity in their crustacean-like form to be relatable, the plight of the aliens, or ‘prawns’ as they are known in the film, is hauntingly reminiscent of our own asylum seekers pushed into isolated camps in the desert. Characterisation that starts the film feeling stereotyped or forced develop into complex portrayals and the look and feel, though filthy and grimy, becomes very beautiful in its own way.

It is so rare for big budget monster movies to bring this type of originality and intelligence to the screen that this is a must-have for summer; especially as it is filled to the brim with special features. The 2-disc DVD edition offers a three-part documentary: the Alien Agenda — a filmmaker’s log as well as a director’s commentary. The Blu-ray adds an interactive satellite and schematics map of District 9, and a host of featurettes about the special effects and everything that went into creating this gritty world.


[tomatometer]MuzeID=1206898[/tomatometer]

The Young Victoria

Queen Victoria was a remarkable woman, ruling the roost for more than 60 years. Today we remember her as the rather dour, fierce-looking guardian of high morality but before she became that, she was just a teenager.

The film is a little torn between flouncy, romantic bonnet flick and intrigues-of-the-court drama but in the end it is the young queen’s love affair with Albert that is at its heart. Set in a time when true love with a first cousin wasn’t stomach churning, her relationship with Albert is depicted as a major force behind her maturation into a balanced and powerful leader.

Emily Blunt is absolutely the best thing about this movie. She adds life and spark to the young Victoria who took to the throne at the age of 18.

While this film does have more than a whiff of a BBC Austen special, it is a truly original telling of this particular monarch’s story. So original, in fact, that more than a few ‘historical facts’ have been embellished for dramatic effect. You would have to have a heart of stone, however, to begrudge this lovely film a few flights of fancy. It is very beautiful to look at and refreshingly, the performances are strong.

Look out for the 2-disc version to get your hands on the special features. Amongst all the usual fare you will find a fabulous behind-the-scenes look at the costumes and locations, which are simply divine.


[tomatometer]MuzeID=1202312[/tomatometer]

Ponyo

Ponyo is a sweet and magical fairy tale inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson story, the Little Mermaid. It tells the story of a wilful and passionate goldfish named Ponyo who falls in love with a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke, and longs to become a human girl.

This movie was made by animation royalty. At the helm we have Japanese animation super-god Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro). Not only did he write and direct Ponyo but he insisted on hand-drawing all of the waves and the sea himself. Each cell is a work of art.

The production team of the English version are pretty impressive also: John Lasseter (Up, WALL-E, Ratatouille), Frank Marshall (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Bourne trilogy) and Kathleen Kennedy (Persepolis, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). The English translation script was written by Melissa Matheson (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) and the voices include Cate Banchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White.

This simple story will captivate the kids and leave a smile on the face of all whimsy-loving grown-ups. There is a sweetness and innocence to Ponyo that brings genuine joy and delight.

The special features on both the DVD and Blu-ray releases promises satisfaction to the animation geeks in the form of a lovely featurette entitled “The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo” and a stack of creator interviews, Japanese TV spots and original trailers.


[tomatometer]MuzeID=1195105[/tomatometer]

Bandslam

For the older kids we have Bandslam, a coming-of-age teen flick with a little more guts that the standard fare.

The story line is predictable enough. Geek moves to new school, geek meets interesting/bookish girl with undiscovered talents and becomes her best mate while he lusts after the hot girl who is friendly with vaguely ulterior motives. Seen it? Sure, but here the characters are kind of interesting. And while it stars Disney darling Vanessa Hudgens, and is a musical, there is not a Broadway moment or Zac Efron good-boy dance routine anywhere in sight. The music is ska, indie-rock and the music god is David Bowie.

The special features are full of musical numbers and a making-of featurette.


[tomatometer]MuzeID=10011657[/tomatometer]

Charlie and Boots

This film is about as Aussie as you can get. Charlie (Paul Hogan) is dragged kicking and screaming by his son Boots (Shane Jacobson) on a road trip from Victoria to Cape York to do a touch of fishing.

From the moment they jump in the Kingswood we see shot after shot of gorgeous Australian country-side and all the expected ‘characters’ along the way, including a hitchhiker who brings a bit of extra colour to the journey.

The humour is gentle and is more of a backdrop to the unwinding of family history and the analysis of the relationship between the two men.

It is a relaxed, likeable film. There are no great revelations here but the charisma of the two men is undeniable. If you are wondering, Paul Hogan is the old one. The makeover has left him a tad unrecognisable.

There is lots to play with in the special features on both the DVD and the Blu-ray. Alongside the making-of featurettes and commentaries, there are interviews, and some great scenes with Paul and Shane.

Final note, keep the movie rolling right through the credits. It’s worth it!


[tomatometer]MuzeID=1205488[/tomatometer]

Taking Woodstock

We have all seen the footage of one of history’s most famous music festivals. Woodstock. The iconic bands, the tripping hippies, the mud…but this is not what this film is about.

This film tells the behind-the-scenes story of Woodstock and the individuals who accidentally made the concert happen without ever seeing a single performance.

Elliot (Demetri Martin), in a desperate effort to keep his parent’s remote hotel afloat, sees a golden opportunity when he hears a neighbouring town have pulled the plug on hosting a hippy music festival. Desperately needing some guests so he can pay the hotel’s mortgage, he talks a local farmer (Eugene Levy) into providing his paddock for the event to drum up some business. Before he knows it he has 500,000 people beating a path to his door.

This is a fun film. The characters are interesting and generally likeable, and it is a fresh look at a momentous moment in modern music history. It is also an Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Hidden Tiger Crouching Dragon) film which brings with it some enormous expectations. This is not a defining film but it is highly enjoyable.

The special features provides lots of deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage, and a wonderful commentary from Ang Lee and one of his favourite collaborators, writer James Schamus.

Tag Cloud

TCA 2017 marvel cinematic universe nbcuniversal strong female leads christmas movies spy thriller Emmys Baby Yoda toronto TIFF Hollywood Foreign Press Association 2020 Food Network hispanic Anna Paquin Brie Larson dreamworks Fox News dragons prank suspense cancelled television Sundance TV fast and furious Biopics The Walt Disney Company Pop cinemax Sony Pictures hidden camera Spectrum Originals Family Paramount Network book E3 Super Bowl IFC Films Alien ghosts BET TCA Winter 2020 Trailer series A&E MSNBC BBC America scorecard miniseries Action Mary Poppins Returns 21st Century Fox Disney Plus laika Film Festival BAFTA Pixar Hear Us Out 73rd Emmy Awards mcc American Society of Cinematographers king kong unscripted indiana jones mob hollywood reviews Sneak Peek Columbia Pictures social media royal family Academy Awards biopic adenture streaming vs. travel nfl Funimation documentary TNT black comedy HBO Max war Apple TV Plus anthology facebook BBC Captain marvel women foreign HBO Women's History Month werewolf mockumentary Arrowverse Comedy Central rom-coms adaptation Adult Swim basketball aliens high school Cartoon Network Amazon Prime rt labs critics edition 2018 The Purge olympics sitcom WarnerMedia Disney+ Disney Plus BET Awards Freeform Black Mirror Country elevated horror Thanksgiving Drama ViacomCBS japan Christmas disaster 2019 thriller die hard 45 Grammys Mary poppins Chernobyl emmy awards hispanic heritage month History biography critic resources Lifetime Christmas movies 99% blockbuster Fantasy Instagram Live Toys CW Seed Marvel Television Teen BBC One First Look halloween venice concert chucky video Year in Review Turner Classic Movies Bravo 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards comiccon 79th Golden Globes Awards zombies Superheroe USA Network tv talk Pirates video on demand mission: impossible Lucasfilm Nickelodeon stop motion Warner Bros. what to watch new york fresh sequels feel good pirates of the caribbean blockbusters Classic Film crime renewed TV shows Hulu remakes Rocketman trophy Amazon cancelled PlayStation romantic comedy golden globes spanish language Pop TV halloween tv YA TV One green book Netflix Marvel Studios slashers dc robots Heroines CBS All Access APB YouTube CMT Best and Worst sequel NYCC Disney streaming service Fox Searchlight TV movies sports Sci-Fi 007 marvel comics AMC Plus razzies Esquire casting space crime thriller 20th Century Fox target FX classics Discovery Channel ESPN ABC Family transformers scary movies Awards AMC HBO Go DC Comics technology award winner A24 Election comic spanish RT History asian-american Chilling Adventures of Sabrina romance Ellie Kemper Peacock japanese comedies CBS children's TV Musical screenings TV FX on Hulu action-comedy Set visit live event spider-verse stand-up comedy leaderboard NBA USA Rom-Com TruTV canceled TV shows comics Writers Guild of America Tags: Comedy james bond TCM The Witch Lifetime psychological thriller Crunchyroll FXX natural history police drama king arthur godzilla free movies Interview Exclusive Video Stephen King Comic-Con@Home 2021 obituary dramedy 2021 indie Paramount Plus serial killer Mudbound 93rd Oscars Logo E! Trophy Talk Shondaland zero dark thirty Crackle SDCC rotten international stoner Disney Tomatazos Opinion films reboot HFPA canceled Horror composers Creative Arts Emmys archives ITV Showtime 72 Emmy Awards cancelled TV shows cartoon directors Elton John PaleyFest Song of Ice and Fire 90s crossover IFC franchise cancelled TV series ratings Tubi Trivia dexter Star Wars Holiday Hallmark Christmas movies DC Universe rt labs breaking bad Kids & Family Awards Tour GIFs The Arrangement Certified Fresh singing competition Sundance Now San Diego Comic-Con Winter TV Television Critics Association kids mutant political drama trailers twilight Animation Masterpiece popular wonder woman 71st Emmy Awards Star Trek superhero french toy story Hallmark child's play Black History Month Epix know your critic nature Cosplay FOX justice league First Reviews comic book movies TCA Awards Mindy Kaling Syfy hist CNN Lionsgate blaxploitation animated Binge Guide ABC Signature El Rey Rock theme song Travel Channel joker National Geographic boxing Pacific Islander black universal monsters latino Cannes Quiz VH1 GoT TV Land Emmy Nominations satire critics Sundance lord of the rings Netflix Christmas movies Oscars Calendar worst movies dark Disney Channel Watching Series Pet Sematary Comics on TV cars Nat Geo adventure boxoffice Winners historical drama parents DGA DC streaming service sopranos Martial Arts Turner posters Pride Month Dark Horse Comics Valentine's Day new zealand legend Podcast Box Office Vudu jurassic park spider-man book adaptation medical drama Tumblr telelvision TBS Paramount YouTube Premium Superheroes Holidays south america VICE Marathons Polls and Games richard e. Grant cops WGN psycho President based on movie Reality New York Comic Con Legendary Broadway worst revenge talk show Apple Neflix TCA Apple TV+ game of thrones slasher Avengers RT21 OneApp Britbox versus Wes Anderson football spain news jamie lee curtis Spike anime festival criterion aapi Starz movie Comedy Extras GLAAD The Walking Dead teaser screen actors guild Amazon Studios Amazon Prime Video all-time game show politics kaiju festivals Nominations Summer Universal Pictures young adult Prime Video Rocky ABC spinoff Music 24 frames 4/20 Spring TV deadpool golden globe awards Musicals Mystery sag awards Image Comics Western Marvel Shudder true crime cooking docuseries PBS discovery Video Games See It Skip It 1990s Ghostbusters Red Carpet name the review 2016 Reality Competition Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Tarantino MCU Character Guide best australia Fall TV SXSW heist movie genre batman cults MTV Television Academy witnail movies docudrama vampires The CW DirecTV LGBT Infographic X-Men art house streaming movies Walt Disney Pictures Premiere Dates diversity The Academy zombie period drama cats scene in color comic book movie LGBTQ scary TLC saw dogs science fiction YouTube Red doctor who binge italian superman OWN quibi NBC SundanceTV new star wars movies Photos monster movies gangster kong Comic Book Fargo a nightmare on elm street Ovation Countdown television Mary Tyler Moore Universal ID rt archives Schedule comic books debate TV renewals Film Acorn TV supernatural crime drama VOD live action IMDb TV dceu rotten movies we love finale documentaries harry potter independent 2017 Tokyo Olympics Endgame 2015