Check out this week’s top DVD picks from Bumblebee to Andre The Giant Thing
BUMBLEBEE brings a much-needed human touch to the Transformers franchise, while Tom Wilkinson adds his usual class to a pitch-black hitman comedy.
And there’s a surprisingly thoughtful portrait of a true giant of sports entertainment.
DVD Of The Week: Bumblebee
(PG) 113mins, out May 13
BEING the best Transformers movie isn’t a particularly high bar to clear, or even an accolade you would necessarily want — like being the world’s tallest dwarf. But this prequel-reboot cruises to that accolade by dint of having a coherent plot and being genuinely entertaining for much of its running time.
Hailee Steinfeld is a winning lead as a grease-monkey loner, with more than a hint of the young Zooey Deschanel about her, while Jorge Lendeborg provides great comedic support as her potential beau. If wrestler John Cena struggles to pull off a passable imitation of a functioning human being, Bumblebee itself is a skittishly charismatic presence, like an overeager puppy with giant metal fists.
The best moments stem from their developing friendship, while the Eighties setting is mined long and deep for nostalgic laughs. Crucially, director Travis Knight (Kubo & The Two Strings) never loses sight of the series’ inherent absurdity, displaying a lightness of touch franchise kingpin Michael Bay can only dream of. (A case of Knight and Bay, if you will.)
Less a Transformers movie than a beefier, better Short Circuit, this makes the inevitable prospect of further iterations far less depressing.
Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back)
(15) 88mins, out now on digital
PITCH-black British comedy that begins with Aneurin Barnard’s latest failed suicide bid and gets darker from there. Tom Wilkinson plays pensionable assassin Leslie, hired by Barnard to take matters out of his hands after a string of botched goodbyes.
There are some sharp lines early on and Wilkinson is as good as ever playing a curious hybrid of his characters from The Full Monty and Batman Begins. But after an intriguing first half hour, strikingly shot with an aesthetic as stark as its outlook, the comedy flags. The vaguely Kafka-esque conceit lacks the legs to sustain even 88 minutes.
Still, there’s a pleasing riff on the ringtone gag from Jurassic Park 3 and Christopher Eccleston has great fun as a menacing union boss distributing retirement-gift carriage clocks.
In the week the John Wick franchise returns with more self-consciously boneheaded ultra-violence, this quintessentially British addition to the canon of contract killers is quite the counterpoint.
Andre The Giant Thing
(15) 84mins, out now
SURPRISINGLY thoughtful documentary about Andre Roussimoff, the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and wrestling superstar before wrestling superstars were really a thing.
This is not quite Senna or Amy — neither of which contained an extended discussion of their subject’s legendary flatulence — but is essential viewing for anyone with a passing interest in the squared circle and an eye-opener for anyone who isn’t.
Though Andre’s story didn’t end happily, there is much to celebrate about a career that entertained millions, albeit at great personal cost.
Hulk Hogan — who benefited so much from his association with Andre — is a recurring and at times revelatory presence. And if the weirdest moment is a clip of Andy Warhol getting interviewed at Wrestlemania, the anecdote from Arnold Schwarzenegger about Andre manhandling him “like a little doll” justities a watch on its own.
The Man Who Killed Hitler Then The Bigfoot
(15) 97mins, out on DVD May 6
SAM ELLIOTT is such a compelling presence, with that incredibly rich baritone, you could happily listen to him read the Phone Book (ask your parents, kids). And reading the Phone Book would give him more of a chance to show his actorly range than this.
As elderly war hero Calvin Barr, he is confined to pootling around looking wistful, muttering gnomically to his dog. Poldark’s Aidan Turner plays the younger Barr, to whom the first half of the title refers. (Spoiler alert — the title is not misdirection.)
As bizarre as it sounds, there are moments when this isn’t terrible. There are times, even, when it approaches the sort of whimsical Big Fish grace to which it clearly aspires. Sadly, a couple of late scenes of utterly indelible awfulness skew the whole experience.
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(15) 113mins, out now on digital download
PONDEROUS, humourless Russian-made shoestring-epic about scowling villagers with terrible hair but amazing cheekbones battling hordes of CGI Mongols.
Based on the 13th century legend of a charming fellow called Evpaty the Furious, this is 300 without the visual flair, or Gerard Butler’s abs. Among the cast of surly interchangeables, there’s the guy who looks like Sean Bean, the priest who looks like a homeless Vladimir Putin and a girl called Lada. (Try taking seriously a Robin Hood where Maid Marion is renamed Morris Marina.)
The portrayal of the Mongols — to a man, wildly effeminate clowns who dress like Christmas ornaments — perhaps says something about Russian attitudes to outsiders right now. Beyond that, this proves only that thudding nationalist propaganda is as tedious in Russian as in any other language.
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