DVD reviews: Best of this week's releases

Blue Ruins stars Macon Blair as homeless drifter Dwight. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Spirit Entertainment.

Zac Efron stars as Teddy Sanders in Bad Neighbours. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Spirit Entertainment.

Alfie Allen and Will Poulter star in Plastic. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Paramount Home Entertainment.

First published in Leisure News © by

DVD OF THE WEEK

Blue Ruin (Cert 15, 90 mins)

Spirit Entertainment, Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £19.99. Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W Thompson, Brent Werzner, Stacy Rock, Sidne Anderson.

Homeless drifter Dwight (Macon Blair) lives in a rusted blue Pontiac down by the beach.

One morning, he is shepherded into the local police station where Officer Eddy (Sidne Anderson) delivers some dire news: Will Cleland (David W Thompson), the man who is serving time for murdering Dwight's parents, is to be released from prison.

Eddy's revelation shakes Dwight out of his self-pitying fug and he tidies his appearance then drives back to West Virginia to dole out what he perceives as justice to Will.

This bloodthirsty crusade imperils Dwight's estranged sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves) and her two children.

Thankfully, old school pal Ben (Devin Ratray) has a stash of firearms to fend off any retaliation from Will's hillbilly brethren. Anchored by a tour-de-force central performance from Blair, whose mournful stare instantly curries sympathy, Blue Ruin is an impeccably crafted revenge thriller that breathes new life into a well-worn genre.

Flashes of macabre humour, reminiscent of the early Coen brothers, allow us to pause for sharp intakes of breath between meticulously staged set pieces including an altercation in a diner toilet and a night-time stand-off with two merciless members of the Cleland clan.

From its striking opening shot of a man languishing in a bath, Jeremy Saulnier's second feature establishes a deceptively slow and steady pace that belies the nerve-shredding tension beneath the surface.

Once the first drop of blood is spilt - and it's a stomach-churning spray of glossy claret - we're completely in the writer-director's vice-like grip, unable to take our eyes from the screen.

Rating: **** 

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Bad Neighbours (Cert 15, 97 mins)

Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Romance/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Roberts, Ike Barinholtz, Hannibal Buress.

Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) struggle to cope with the responsibilities of parenthood.

When the house next door goes up for sale and booze-guzzling fraternity boys, led by president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and second-in-command Pete (Dave Franco), move in, the Radners fear the worst.

They pay a visit to the new neighbours and politely ask Teddy to keep the noise down. In return, the couple promises not to call the cops at the first sign of trouble, but to approach Teddy to resolve any issues.

During a raucous frat party, Mac and Kelly break their promise and dial 911. A neighbourhood cop (Hannibal Buress) turns up at the fraternity's front door.

Teddy is incensed and masterminds a suitable punishment for the Radners' betrayal.

Relations between the two households deteriorate in the blink of a bloodshot eye, lighting the fuse on a battle of wits and mean-spirited pranks that provides Bad Neighbours with its flimsy premise.

Nicholas Stoller's potty-mouthed comedy goes some way to besmirching Efron's screen image as the wholesome, squeaky-clean boy next door from High School Musical.

However, scriptwriters Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien provide the actor with a get-out clause so his character ultimately remains likeable.

Scenes inside the frat house, where Pete inspires devotion from pledges with a heartfelt speech ("We are the family you get to choose - and we don't get divorced!") are surprisingly tame despite the 15 certificate.

Rogen has played a pot-smoking dude before and he gamely sheds his clothes for toe-curling scenes of coitus interruptus with Byrne.

Rating: ***

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Brick Mansions (Cert 15, 91 mins)

Warner Home Video, Action/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Gouchy Boy, Catalina Denis, Ayisha Issa, Bruce Ramsay, Frank Fontaine, Robert Maillet.

Undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) is determined to bring master criminal Tremaine Alexander (RZA) to justice for the murder of his father.

However, a small army of gun-toting henchmen led by K2 (Gouchy Boy) and sassy sidekick Rayzah (Ayisha Issa) shields Tremaine from the long arm of the law.

When Tremaine acquires a neutron bomb and threatens to use the device to raze the rarefied neighbourhoods of Detroit, the Mayor (Bruce Ramsay) implores Damien to infiltrate the abandoned brick mansions, which are the private rat-runs of the city's drug dealers and kingpins.

Aided by plucky ex-con Lino Dupree (David Belle), whose girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis) is being held hostage by Tremaine, Damien sets out to bring down Tremaine and his army of gun-toting goons.

Brick Mansions is a slick English language remake of the superior 2004 French action thriller District 13, resetting the action to 2018 Detroit.

Breathless camerawork and slick editing smack our gobs as Belle, one of the creators of the spectacular extreme sport of free running, floats through the air, seemingly oblivious to potentially fatal drops to the ground several storeys below.

Walker is no physical match for his muscular co-star, but he holds his own in the myriad car chases, gunfights and bruising fisticuffs. The tour-de-force exhibitions of martial arts and acrobatics are stunning.

The same cannot be said for Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri's disjointed script, which is peppered with excruciating one-liners - "Sometimes you don't gotta be a rocket scientist, you just gotta have a rocket!" - that inspire snorts of derision.

Rating: ***

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Plastic (Cert 15, 102 mins)

Paramount Home Entertainment, Thriller/Romance/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99) Starring: Ed Speleers, Will Poulter, Alfie Allen, Sebastian De Souza, Emma Rigby, Thomas Kretschmann, Mem Ferda, Michael Bisping, Graham McTavish, Malese Jow.

Sam (Ed Speleers) is the charismatic ringleader of a team at Greater London University comprising Fordy (Will Poulter), Yatesy (Alfie Allen) and Rafa (Sebastian De Souza), who keep their student loans to a minimum by cloning credit cards.

During one swindle, the so-called entrepreneurs steal property belonging to a gangster named Marcel (Thomas Kretschmann), who threatens Sam and the gang with shallow graves unless they repay him... with interest.

The students have two weeks to amass a fortune before Marcel's henchmen Tariq (Mem Ferda) and Kasper (Michael Bisping) pay them another visit.

The fraudsters agree to recruit a fifth member, fellow student Frankie (Emma Rigby), who happens to work at a major credit card company.

Armed with five cloned cards and customer spending patterns, the gung-ho quintet jets off to Miami to score the loot.

Purportedly based on a true story, which might be the film's biggest con, Plastic is a fast-paced caper that struggles to retain credibility or our interest.

Julian Gilbey's film scrimps and saves on characterisation, starving Sam and his associates of any positive qualities that might convince us to root for them.

The big hustle - to pull the wool over the eyes of diamond salesman Steve Dawson (Graham McTavish) - descends into farce at frightening speed so by the time Sam is sticking a false moustache to his quivering top lip, our eye-rolling has become habitual.

A romantic subplot between Sam and Frankie is insipid, culminating in a tasteful sex scene replete with pounding musical soundtrack.

Rating: **

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NEW TO BUY ON DVD

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season (Cert 12, 493 mins)

Warner Home Video, DVD £24.99/Seasons 1-7 DVD Box Set £69.99/Blu-ray £34.99/Seasons 1-7 Blu-ray Box Set £79.99, Comedy/Romance

Life veers in wondrous new directions for theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and experimental physicist Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) in 24 hilarious episodes of the hugely popular and award-winning US sitcom.

This series, Leonard assesses the future of his relationship with Penny (Kaley Couco) and makes a bold declaration, Sheldon experiences an early midlife crisis despite a flourishing relationship with neurobiologist Amy (Mayim Bialik), and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) finds new romance after his painful break-up from Lucy (Kate Micucci).

A 25-disc box set comprising all seven series is also available.

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Homeland - The Complete Third Season (Cert 15, 609 mins)

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £34.99/Complete Seasons One, Two And Three DVD Box Set £49.99/Blu-ray £39.99/Complete Seasons One, Two And Three Blu-ray Box Set £59.99, Thriller/Action

Time runs out for one major character in 12 gripping episodes of the award-winning US drama, loosely based on the Israeli series Hatufim.

Former US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) vanishes after the bombing of the CIA headquarters at Langley and he is declared the prime suspect for the atrocity.

Intelligence officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is accused of colluding with Brody and she is consigned to a psychiatric ward for observation.

Their fates rest with new Acting Director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and scheming Senator Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts), for whom Brody and Carrie are valuable yet dispensable pawns in a much bigger game.

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Doctor Who - 50th Anniversary (Cert PG, 202 mins)

BBC DVD, DVD £39.99/Blu-ray £44.99, Sci-Fi/Action/Drama

A limited edition four-disc box set to commemorate 50 years of the time-travelling timelord mostly featuring Matt Smith as the titular adventurer, comprising the 50th anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor, Smith's farewell The Time Of The Doctor, the finale to series seven The Name Of The Doctor and the 2013 mini-episode The Night Of The Doctor in which Paul McGann's timelord regenerates into the War Doctor played by John Hurt.

The box set is packaged with various extras including deleted scenes, Mark Gatiss' award-winning drama An Adventure In Space And Time and the spoof Five(ish) Doctors starring Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy.

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Blue Bloods - The Fourth Season (Cert 15, 902 mins)

Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £34.99, Drama

Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) brokers a truce between members of his Irish-American family of lawmakers in the fourth series of the acclaimed New York-set drama.

In these instalments, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) continues to bend rules to put perpetrators behind bars, bringing him into conflict with his sister Erin (Bridget Moynahan), the Assistant District Attorney.

Her strong moral compass also creates friction with Bureau Chief Amanda Harris (Amy Morton).

Meanwhile, youngest child Jamie (Will Estes) is assigned a new partner, Eddie Janko (Vanessa Ray), following the death of Vinny at the end of series three.

The six-disc box set includes all 22 episodes.

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Haven - The Complete Fourth Season (Cert 12, 535 mins)

Entertainment One, DVD £29.99, Sci-Fi/Drama

Sacrifices must be made in the fourth series of the spooky drama based on the novel The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, which is set in the sleepy town of Haven - a refuge for remarkable people who have been blessed with supernatural gifts.

This series, FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) learns the shocking truth of her origins and she joins forces with Nathan (Lucas Bryant) and Duke (Eric Balfour) to track down a troubled person, who is turning residents to stone.

The four-disc box set includes all 13 episodes.

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Mums' Night Out (Cert 12, 98 mins)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Comedy/Romance

Brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin produce and direct this comedy, which centres on overworked mother of three Allyson (Sarah Drew), who needs a night off from tending to her brood.

So she leaves the children in the care of her ill-equipped husband, Sean (Sean Astin), and heads off for a well-deserved night with best friends Izzy (Andrea Logan White) and Sondra (Patricia Heaton).

The night descends into chaos when Allyson's sister-in-law Bridget (Abbie Cobb) discovers that youngest son Phoenix is missing.

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For No Good Reason (Cert 15, 87 mins)

Soda Pictures, DVD £17.99, Documentary

Made over the course of 15 years, Charlie Paul's documentary is an intimate portrait of an influential British artist and the impact his work has made on modern culture.

Prolific illustrator Ralph Steadman is perhaps best known for his relationship with Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas writer Hunter S Thompson, but he is also a passionate advocate for civil liberties.

Featuring Johnny Depp in a leading role, the film explores what makes Steadman tick and his unwavering love for art with contributions from Terry Gilliam and Richard E Grant plus a soundtrack that runs the gamut of All American Rejects, James Blake, Crystal Castles, Ed Harcourt, Jason Mraz and Slash.

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Some Velvet Morning (Cert 18, 84 mins)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Drama/Romance

Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve star in this provocative two-hander written and directed by Neil LaBute.

Fred (Tucci) arrives at the front door of his mistress of four years, Velvet (Eve), with shocking news: he has left his wife so he can start anew with her.

Velvet's reaction is not what he was expecting and the flame of their love, which burnt bright once, is quickly extinguished as Fred and Velvet attempt to work out if their fractured relationship is worth salvaging.

Concussion (Cert 15, 96 mins)

Spirit Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Drama/Romance

Abby (Robin Weigert) and Kate (Julie Lawrence) are a happily married lesbian couple with two children.

While Kate works long hours as a divorce lawyer, housewife Abby looks after the little ones in the suburbs and renovates apartments with the help of a contractor friend called Justin (Johnathan Tchaikovsky).

During a game of baseball with her son Jake (Micah Shapero), Abby suffers a mild concussion from a wayward ball and the injury sparks a huge change in her outlook on life.

On the spur of the moment, she pays for sex with a working girl. The experience convinces Abby to set herself up as a prostitute called Eleanor, using an unfinished apartment in New York as her base of operations.

Kate is blissfully unaware of her partner's new choice of career and Abby's crush on a married straight woman called Sam (Maggie Siff).

That infatuation is fanned when Sam unexpectedly makes an appointment with Eleanor and slowly, Abby becomes lost in her tangled web of lies.

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The Truth About Emanuel (Cert 15, 91 mins)

Metrodome Distribution, DVD £15.99, Thriller

The bonds between mother and child are tested to breaking point in this thriller written and directed by Francesca Gregorini.

Linda (Jessica Biel) moves into a new home with her newborn baby. Soon after, the neighbour's teenage daughter, Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario), befriends Linda and offers her services as a babysitter if the mother needs to go out.

Emanuel's mother died in childbirth and the teenager forges an intense connection to Linda, concocting a fictional world in which Linda is her new parent.

As fantasy and reality blur, Linda realises that Emanuel might not be the best person to be left in charge of her mewling flesh and blood.

Frances O'Connor and Alfred Molina co-star.

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TOP 10 DVD RETAIL

1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

2. Frozen 

3. Sons Of Anarchy: Season 6

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

5. Mrs. Doubtfire

6. The Big Bang Theory: Season 7 

7. The Lego Movie 

8. Thomas & Friends: Tale Of The Brave 

9. Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred

10. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Chart supplied by Amazon.co.uk/DVD

TOP 10 DVD RENTAL

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 3

3. Frozen

4. Divergent

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

6. Noah 

7. Rio 2

8. The Wolf Of Wall Street

9. Guardians Of The Galaxy

10. The Love Punch

Chart supplied by Amazon.co.uk/DVD

TOP 10 FILM STREAMING

1. Red 2

2. 2 Guns

3. Ted

4. Total Recall

5. The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones

6. Horrible Bosses

7. The Bourne Legacy

8. Now You See Me

9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

10. Sherlock Holmes

Chart supplied by Amazon.co.uk/DVD

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