If The Babadook isn’t already the best horror film released to DVD in 2015, we’re in for a spectacular year because this is one of the most elegant, moving and yes, terrifying films in any genre in recent years. The indie smash from Aussie director Jennifer Kent features a stellar performance from lead Essie Davis as a single mom crushed under the weight of caring for her young and difficult, emotionally-troubled son. When before-bed story time brings them the mysterious book of Mr. Babadook (who also happens to be one of the most evocative movie villains in quite a while) her world begins to descend into a nightmare of unreality and past trauma. This film is at once an incredibly moving and honest portrayal of the difficulties of being a parent and a truly unsettling horror gem.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES:
Here’s a good test to see if this latest Hollywood reboot is for you: 1) Did you like any or all of Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (just a few of director Jonathan Liebesman’s past outings)? If you answered yes to that question, or if you have any particular predilection for any film with the words “Produced by Michael Bay” in the credits, then you’re in luck. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the latest nostalgia-driven update that aims straight for the mone- I mean heart. Goofy action, very bad bad guys and a CG Johnny Knoxville come together in this story of our band of heroes saving their city and, yes, eating lots of pizza.
ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE…:
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (had to get the full title in at least once) is a fun family comedy that, to its credit, never tries to be anything more and never fails to be exactly that. Alexander and his family find themselves living through the worst possible day, as things go wrong for all of them in some, er, creative ways. The cast does a great job of making us care and nails most of the jokes on offer, which makes this movie more fun than one might have expected. If it’s some throwaway family entertainment you’re looking for, then look no further than Alexander and the Terrible- (okay you know what I’d finish that but we just don’t have the time).
DOLPHIN TALE 2:
2011’s Dolphin Tale was a big hit with family audiences around the world and there seems to be no reason to suspect last year’s sequel will be any different. Featuring good-natured, old-fashioned fun and a strong returning cast of Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick, Jr. (not to mention that lovable bundle of cuddly family fun, Kris Kristofferson), we now find the first film’s heroine, Winter (also reprising her autobiographical role), joined in her quest for happiness by new arrival Hope. The film is a sweet, sometimes beautiful story of friendship not only between the two titular cetaceans but also the human cast and Video City will not be held responsible for any dehydration on account of any excessive weeping at this lovable family tale.
One of the finest science fiction films of this decade finally gets a UK DVD release. Coherence is a low-budget American indie offering featuring largely improvised dialogue and a mind-bending plot that begs to be watched and re-watched if one has any ambitions of figuring out just what is going on. A group of friends having a dinner party while a comet passes overhead discover that all may not be as it seems after a freak blackout. Parallel dimensions and alternate realities are imagined with painstaking detail as to their implications and the film manages to continually shock and surprise with its plot. This is a must for any fans of imaginative speculative fiction, brain-busting puzzles or just some great indie character drama.
THE BOOK OF LIFE:
It’s hard to say what the most charming aspect of this quintessentially Mexican adventure might be. Its unique and wonderful animation-style? Its boldly-drawn villains and lovable heroes? Or its wildly imaginative settings that jump between the real world and the Underworld? Mexican fantasy maestro Guillermo del Toro’s guiding hand can certainly be felt in almost every frame of this delightful romantic adventure. The young Manolo (Diego Luna) must decide between the life of bullfighting his family expects of him and his love for music and the beautiful Maria (Zoe Saldana). His adventure takes him through different worlds of life and death, watched all the while by angelic/demonic presences Xibalba and La Muerte (an ever-fantastic Ron Perlman and Kate del Castillo) who have placed a wager on who Maria’s heart will be given to. The Book of Life will be loved any any age group with a sense for high adventure, imagination and romance.
POINT AND SHOOT:
Ignoring the fact that this documentary tells the story of what protagonist Matthew Vandyke somewhat ridiculously calls his “crash course in manhood”, this is a gripping account of the true story of a sheltered Baltimore twenty-something who gets on his bike and sets out to find himself (bear with me here). What might have otherwise been a run-of-the-mill Eat, Pray, Love (The Man Version) becomes a fiercely compelling story of Vandyke’s quite amazing journey that culminates in his involvement in the Libyan Revolution, which he also documents, and a six-month long period of capture and solitary confinement. Point and Shoot surprises with its continuous evolution throughout and manages to paint a potent picture of modern American manhood.
GAME OF THRONES SEASON 4:
If you are not already addicted to HBO’s Game of Thrones, I can only assume you have been living in a cave or that you must be a Lannister. The much-awaited (judging by in-store requests) fourth season of arguably the most popular series on TV anywhere in the world right now arrives to pick up where the horrifying events of season 3 ended off. Those hoping for more tragedy, sex, violence and jaw-dropping moments of utter shock will absolutely not be disappointed with the most insane season to date of a show that has staked its reputation on its plethora of insane moments. The War of the Five Kings continues across the land of Westeros, where the only guarantee (as many of our characters will soon find out) is that ‘All Men Must Die’.