Sunday 22 March 2015

TV DVD: Hostages

Dr. Yael Danon is about to perform routine surgery on the Prime Minister of Israel when her family are taken prisoner by a gang of masked men. The hostage takers have one demand; Yael must ensure that the Prime Minister does not survive the operation.

This Israeli series was recently shown on BBC tv here in the UK following a previously screened American version. Not having seen the US version I won’t make any comment or comparison.

In this version, as expected, the plan doesn't go smoothly.  Dr. Danon has a whole host of family issues to deal with during the most testing of circumstances and internal rivalry amongst the hostage takers threatens the whole mission.

This leads to various different scenarios which play out over the course of the 10 episodes. The bad guys are all slowly revealed as human, with their own problems, which adds depth to an otherwise simple storyline. 

The Israeli cast will be pretty much unknown to most viewers but there are some fine performances, none better than that of Ayelet Zurer in the leading role.

Hostages is another example of great foreign tv and easily rivals the recent successful Scandinavian dramas when it comes to cranking up the tension. However, the storyline may have been more suited to a 2 hour movie than a 10 part show as it does feel slightly drawn out.     

Available as a 3 disc DVD box set in the UK now.

Ric’s Rating: Good. 

Saturday 21 March 2015

Film: Chappie

In the near future South Africa has robot police officers. The engineer behind them takes their development further when he manages to install full artificial intelligence into a damaged droid meant for destruction.

This has already been described as Robocop meets Short Circuit and I have to agree. We have the robot cops running around arresting and shooting the bad guys, complete with Peter Weller-esque voices and then we get Chappie, who enters the fray as a child in a robotic body.

Chappie is “born” surrounded by criminals determined to use him for their own ends but his maker Deon (Dev Patel) manages to give him a sense of right and wrong from the outset.

District 9 director Neil Blomkamp has again called upon the services of the star of that film Sharlto Copley, who does a fine Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong, Ceasar from the Apes movies) job as Chappie. Copley’s performance gives the robot a much needed human quality that the idea of artificial intelligence alone could not.

Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver also add their considerable presence as a rival engineer and head of the electronics corporation respectively. Jackman is excellent as the sneaky, sneering Vincent who has always been upset that his own design was not used for law enforcement.

Funny, exciting and sad, Chappie delivers everything you would expect but does stretch the imagination a little too far with its ideas about human consciousness towards the end.

Catch it in cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.      

Sunday 15 March 2015

Film: Enemy

Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) is Adam, a mildly depressed college lecturer who happens to spot that a little known actor looks just like him.

When Adam decides to get in touch with his lookalike it sets of a series of events that don't look likely to have a positive outcome for anyone involved.

Even though Gyllenhaal delivers a compelling performance this film moves at an incredibly slow pace and the interaction between his 2 characters is all a bit lacklustre until the last 15 minutes.

Unfortunately if you stick around that long you'll witness an incredibly silly ending.

Enemy is available on DVD and pay per view tv services now.

Ric's Rating: Poor.

Reviews News: Hostages

Following its recent screening on BBC 4 here in the UK this Israeli drama arrives on DVD on Monday 16th March 2015.

Described as far superior to the US version this has also been compared to the thrills provided by Homeland.

Noble PR have kindly provided a copy and as I haven't seen the Hollywood take on this I have no idea what to expect.

Check back soon for a full review.