There’s a lot on offer this month, with a wide variety of genres available. This also includes a fair few sequels to some of your most watchable favourites…but chances are you’ll want to skip them.
This Disney film has become a monster hit and truly showcases Disney on top form. It follows the adventures of the first rabbit police officer in the idyllic, melting pot that is Zootopia as she has to fight prejudice and discrimination to become accepted and respected. Before long, something occurs that causes predators to revert back to their natural, hunting instincts, so Judy teams up with a conman fox to try and figure it all out.
The message at the heart of the film is that of unity and acceptance, preaching anti-prejudice, an especially relevant message at the moment, and a good one to weave into a kids’ film.
The film is a feast for the eyes, as well as really entertaining, packing in jokes for the young and old, making this great family entertainment.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? The gorgeous design and animation of the film would make the high definition worth it, but, then again, as with any Disney film, its heart is found in its story.
Read the full review: ‘Zootopia’ Review
London Has fallen
Joining the lengthening list of sequels no one really asked for and that didn’t live up to the original, here arrives London Has Fallen. The film tries to take the premise of Olympus Has Fallen – one man saving the president from terrorists – and transfer it from the White House to the entire city of London. Whilst the first one was not realistic by any means, this sequel goes beyond ludicrous, without keeping the entertainment factor. The weak attempt at set up and build up means that the story never really earns any pay off, leading to a tepid tone. There are fun moments, some decent laughs and action sequences, that will sustain you for the film’s duration as long as you approach in in the right frame of mind (i.e. leave your brain at the door). If you can look past the preposterousness and pretty laughable CGI, you might manage to be entertained. In all honesty, you’d probably have a much better time rewatching the first film again.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? Only if you have some strange desire to see bad CGI in high definition.
Read the full review: ‘London Has Fallen’ Review
How To Be Single
This year’s female ensemble comedy arrives on DVD, ready to stick on for a night in, either with your friends, or, as the title suggests, a night in with yourself. The interweaving stories of four women living in New York is a feel-good venture, filled with genuinely funny moments, as well as some touching sentiments. It is a breath of fresh air in that it manages to be a romcom that also reaffirms that it is ok and good to be single in the true sense, from both romantic and platonic relationships. It is a film about finding yourself, and manages to get this message through, even if it goes a bit of a muddled way about it.
The film never really manages to go very deep, with little time given to the characters to fully develop, and some thinner plotlines, but for what it is, it does well. Each of the four leading ladies bring their A-game, engaging the audience and delivering jokes perfectly, allowing the film to become truly fun, as well as subtly touching.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? There’s not much in the way of ground-breaking visuals here so high-definition is completely unnecessary.
Read the full review: ‘How to Be Single’ Review
A Bigger Splash
The other Dakota Johnson-starrer hitting the DVD shelves (or streaming options) this month provides a vastly different experience than most films you will have seen this year. It follows a singer as she goes on voice rest whilst on holiday with her boyfriend, but is then joined by her ex and his estranged daughter, creating a simmering and complex dynamic that the film rides on. The film has moments bursting with electric anarchic energy, which, combined with the striking camera angles and boldly brilliant acting, become incredibly memorable. The bold direction helps to keep the tension simmering throughout most scenes, although it does unfortunately dissipate at times, reducing the impact of the film’s climax.
As a whole, the film pulsates with an intoxicating energy, hitting moments of genius and is a refreshingly different film that stands out amongst the mass of similar offerings this year. It may be flawed, but its highs are worth watching for.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? This film hinges on character interaction so, despite its striking visuals, a Blu-ray wouldn’t add too much.
Read the full review: ‘A Bigger Splash’ Review
This police heist thriller follows a group of corrupt cops and their plot to kill one of their own to pull off the ultimate heist. It’s a promising premise, and the stellar cast and the obvious reference point of Heat creates high expectations that the film just can’t always fulfill. The opening sequence sets a fast-pace and sense of enthralling action that unfortunately can’t be sustained over the next couple of hours. The plot becomes muddled and confusing as the film struggles to juggle its ensemble of characters (with the actors doing well with what they are given), leaving some less well served and thus the world of the film patchier. The film manages to sustain tension and build at its climax to create some great scenes, but unfortunately its flaws mean this is only a decent thriller, where it could have been a great one.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? The action sequences, especially the explosive opening, warrant as high-definition as is available, but these are few and far between meaning that as a whole, it is not necessarily worth it.
Read the full review: ‘Triple 9’ Review
Whether you like the Coens’ most recent comedy will probably depend on whether you have liked their other ones. This is another bizarre and unconventional comedy that will certainly please Coen-comedy fans, but likely perplex others. The film certainly elicits lots of laughs, many from the clever script and spot-on delivery of the actors, but also occasionally the laughter occurs at some of the more ridiculous plot points. The sharp direction ensures the best out of the all-star cast, with impeccable comic timing and perfect delivery of lines to craft some of the more memorable scenes of the year (in particular, one involving Ralph Fiennes and the soon-to-be young Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich). This film will not appeal to everyone, and will likely not be join the Coens’ incredible line up of iconic films, but if you are a fan of the Coens’ comedy, or want to see a bizarre tale involving many of the biggest names in Hollywood, you’ll likely not find something like this anywhere else.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? Spectacular sights are lacking here, with the comedy largely resting on the witty dialogue so there is little need for high definition here.
Read the full review: ‘Hail Caesar!’ Review
2016 seems to be the year of belated sequels, most of which have become let downs and rip offs of the originals, and, unfortunately, Zoolander 2 does not buck this trend. With the first film becoming a comedy classic, the sequel had a lot to live up to, and while you may delight in welcoming the world’s favourite male models back to the big screen, this will likely be a film you will watch once and forget about. The story is not strong, and neither are most of the gags. Many land with a thud rather than a laugh, and none are likely to be remembered and quoted as those of the first film are. The film is also quite shockingly demeaning to women, especially after the headstrong, smart female protagonist of the first film. Here, women are overtly reduced to sex objects, with even Penelope Cruz’s Interpol officer being subject to completely unsubtle objectification. It is hard to believe that the franchise’s ideals seems to have regressed over the 15 years between the films.
For all its flaws, the film is packed full of cameos, most utilised to their full comedic potential, and there is the occasional joke that lands. You will also most likely be unable to stop yourself from smiling at callbacks to the original, although the film relies too heavily on these in an attempt to make up for the substandard new material. The returning actors manage to find their characters again, although newer characters are given little to do, increasing the feeling that this film gives you of it being primarily a cash-grab.
You might find some entertainment in this, but all it’ll do is make you want to go back and rewatch Zoolander, and hope this film doesn’t cloud your opinion of it.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? It’s unlikely this will a film you watch even more than once so there is no sense in splurging on a Blu-ray.
10 Cloverfield Lane
This tense hostage-mystery-thriller is a great addition to each of the genres it melds together, showcasing how compelling a story can be, even when restricted to one small setting. This tale of a woman trapped in a bunker with two men will keep you engaged with its twisty plot that will constantly have you guessing the reliability of the information you are fed, as well as the sanity of the characters, and whether there is any real reason for the bunker at all. The film is successful at building tension and sustaining it as the mysteries unravel, and we root for our protagonist to find a way to survive, whether that means inside or outside of the bunker, with potential danger in both situations. It is an enthralling, at times claustrophobic, film that will keep you on edge. Is it connected to J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield? You’ll have to watch to find out.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? The small scope of scenery in the film means that you’ll likely get to know most of the set’s details without the assistance of high-definition.
A Sacha Baron Cohen gross-out comedy. If that appeals to you, this film will likely too. It is lightyears away from even touching the genius of Borat, and some may not even consider it on par with his more recent endeavours, but if you like this kind of humour, you’ll probably get a kick out of the film. Trust me though when I say it contains extreme gross-out moments. This is not one for the faint of heart.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? With action sequences that have more comedy than explosive tension in mind, a Blu-ray would do nothing to heighten the experience. Except, perhaps, increase the grossness.