Damon Smith reviews the latest DVD releases, including Chronic and Victor Frankenstein
NEW TO RENT ON DVD/BLU-RAY AND ON-DEMAND
DVD OF THE WEEK
Chronic (Cert 15, 89 mins, Curzon Artificial Eye, Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99 or on-demand from various streaming services)
Starring: Tim Roth, Rachel Pickup, Michael Cristofer, Robin Bartlett, Kari Coleman.
David (Tim Roth) is a nurse in Los Angeles, who is assigned to one patient at a time, providing unstinting support to men and women in their hour of need. Withdrawn from the world and socially awkward, David invests all his energy in his patients and develops unhealthy fixations on them, often blurring the boundaries between truth and fiction as he becomes immersed in their histories. These patients include Sarah (Rachel Pickup), who has Aids, stroke survivor John (Michael Cristofer), and Marta (Robin Bartlett), who is battling cancer. Friends and families of the patients also forge unsettling relationships with David. Sarah’s sister (Kari Coleman) is deeply grateful for the tenderness and care he demonstrates in testing circumstances, while John’s children channel their rage and grief into an acrimonious court case. Chronic is a tender, upsetting and provocative character study of flickering life and impending death, about a nurse who needs emotional healing just like his wards. Writer-director Michel Franco sketches David’s bond to his patients with precision, observing seemingly routine moments like a soothing touch or an averted glance with a measured, cool detachment. The script doesn’t flinch at scenes of physical and emotional nakedness, contrasting the awkwardness felt by relatives to undressing or bathing a loved one with David’s confident, matter-of-fact approach to giving his patients the dignified final days they merit. Admittedly, pacing is pedestrian but death rarely comes quickly and Franco evidently concurs.
Victor Frankenstein (Cert 12, 109 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Thriller/Action/Horror/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £27.99 or on-demand from various streaming services)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Andrew Scott, Jessica Brown Findlay, Freddie Fox, Callum Turner, Daniel Mays.
During a visit to a circus run by sadistic ringmaster Barnaby (Daniel Mays), medical student Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) encounters a lowly clown (Daniel Radcliffe) with a burning passion for anatomy. A bond is forged and Victor rescues the clown from his cage and asks the performer to become his assistant under the guise of his morphine-addicted flatmate, Igor. Together, they blaze a trail in medical science by harnessing the power of electricity to reanimate dead flesh. Success emboldens Frankenstein and the student evades the clutches of God-fearing Inspector Roderick Turpin (Andrew Scott) to create a fully formed being with support from a wealthy patron called Finnegan (Freddie Fox). Meanwhile, Igor fans the flames of a fledgling romance with circus acrobat Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay). Victor Frankenstein is a clunky reworking of Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece. Scottish director Paul McGuigan’s film recounts man’s ill-fated meddling with Mother Nature from the perspective of assistant Igor. It lumbers and lurches rather like the monstrosity that the title character jolts to life with a bolt from the heavens. Radcliffe and McAvoy are an awkward double-act: the former stilted and earnest, the latter wide-eyed and manic. The fraternal bond between scientific master and much-abused whelp is one of the more interesting aspects of Max Landis’ misguided and misfiring script. Alas, it’s not sufficiently developed ahead of a cacophonous second act replete with flashes of lightning and the birth of a homunculus, patched together from stolen organs and body parts.
A Warrior’s Tail (Cert U, 85 mins, Signature Entertainment, Animation/Adventure, also available to buy DVD £17.99 or on-demand from various streaming services - see below)
NEW TO BUY ON DVD/BLU-RAY AND ON-DEMAND
Trapped - Season One (Cert 15, 931 mins, Arrow Video, DVD £29.99/Blu-ray £34.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Thriller/Drama)
Celebrated Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur is the creative force behind this gritty Nordic noir, which details a complex police investigation in a remote town, which has been separated from Reykjavik by a blizzard. A dismembered body is found in the river, sparking an investigation led by Seydisfjordur’s chief of police Andri Olafsson (Olafur Darri Olafsson). He links the deceased, who is identified as Geirmundur Jonsson, to the local ferry captained by Soren Carlsen (Bjarne Henriksen). Deteriorating weather conditions prevent detectives from the capital from arriving in the town so Andri continues to follow the evidence with his two officers, Hinrika (Ilmur Kristjansdottir) and Asgeir (Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson). The four-disc box set includes all 10 gripping instalments.
The Queen At 90 (Cert E, 170 mins, Go Entertain, DVD £19.99, Documentary)
Recently broadcast on ITV1, this landmark documentary series is granted unprecedented access to Her Majesty The Queen as she approaches her 90th birthday during a year in which she became the longest reigning monarch in British history. Behind the scenes footage of The Queen at home in Buckingham Palace, or tending to her beloved horses, is juxtaposed with well publicised state visits and weekly meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameras are also granted interviews with many of the people who know The Queen best, including contributions from The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Duke of York, The Countess of Wessex, Peter Phillips and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Mr. Robot - Season 1 (Cert 15, 488 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £29.99/Blu-ray £34.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Thriller/Drama)
A socially awkward hacker is manipulated into bringing down corporate America in this Golden Globe award-winning drama series from the producers of True Detective. Rami Malek plays New York-based cybersecurity engineer Elliot, who suffers from a crippling anti-social disorder, which immerses him in a fog of paranoia. He uses his technical expertise to illegally hack into the lives of unsuspecting victims, forging emotional connections to his prey as he sifts through the data that constitutes their lives. Mr Robot (Christian Slater), the figurehead of an underground collective called F-Society, tries to recruit Elliot to help them to take down E Corp, which just happens to be the biggest client of Allsafe, Elliot’s company. Not everything is quite what it seems as Elliot’s inability to distinguish reality from his delusions plunges him into a waking nightmare in 10 nail-biting episodes.
Dandelion Dead (Cert 12, 207 mins, Network Releasing, DVD £19.99, Drama)
Michael Kitchen, Sarah Miles, David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp and Don Henderson star in this BAFTA award-winning 1994 drama, based on the true story of a notorious 1922 murder trial. Mild-mannered solicitor Herbert Rowse Armstrong (Kitchen) lives in the picturesque market town of Hay-on-Wye with his harridan wife Catherine (Sarah Miles) and three children. Herbert is a pillar of the local community and takes great pride in maintaining his garden, which reflects his meticulous approach to life. At work, rival solicitor Oswald Martin (David Thewlis) continues to rile Herbert. When dandelions attack Herbert’s lawn, he reaches for arsenic to kill the flowers and realises that the poison might help relieve him of other irritations.
A Warrior’s Tail (Cert U, 85 mins, Signature Entertainment, DVD £17.99 or on-demand from various streaming services, Animation/Adventure)
Humans are no longer near the top of the food chain in director Maksim Fadeev’s computer-animated adventure, which has been dubbed into English with an all-star voice cast. Nine-year-old Savva (voiced by Milla Jovovich) lives with his mother in a community terrorised by wily hyenas. The boy embarks on an expedition to track down Shaman Shi-Sha (Jim Cummings), who can help the villagers banish the carnivores. The youngster is accompanied by an adorable pink creature called Puffy (Sharon Stone), white wolf Angee (Will Chase) and a flatulent Mosquito (Joe Pesci). En route, the adventurers encounter various animals who help and hinder the quest, including an evil three-headed monkey queen called Mom Jozee (Whoopi Goldberg).
TOP 10 DVD RETAIL CHART
1. Game of Thrones - Season 5
2. The Night Manager
3. Bridge of Spies
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
5. The Lady in the Van
6. Charlotte Crosby’s 3 Minute Belly Blitz
7. The Good Dinosaur
8. Happy Valley - Series 2
TOP 10 DVD RENTAL CHART
1. The Hunger Games - Mockingjay - Part 2
2. Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens
3. Bridge of Spies
5. The Good Dinasaur
6. The Lady in the Van
7. The Martian
8. Black Mass
9. The Last Witch Hunter
TOP 10 FILM STREAMING CHART
1. The Divergent Series - Insurgent
3. The Book Thief
4. The Monuments Men
6. Despicable Me
7. Mr Holmes
9. Man of Steel
(All charts supplied by Amazon.co.uk/DVD)