A rollicking documentary focusing on the recent comeback of Madchester baggy indie pop legends The Stone Roses made by superfan Shane Meadows. What more could any music fan want? From the spine-tingling opening, which sees lead singer Ian Brown greeting front row fans at last summer’s monumental Heaton Park concerts, to the initial post-reconciliation jam session and snippets of subsequent world tour gigs, this is a hugely entertaining and surprisingly touching film.
True, some of the less appealing truths around the band’s break-up are skimmed over, but this is far from a hagiography, and is more an affectionate, heartfelt look at a four friends rediscovering their love for each other and the music which brought them together. Meadow’s personality is evident in every frame, and his own unabashed love for the foursome shines through.
Early 80’s cine film footage of a teenage Brown and shy lead guitar genius Jon Squire almost looks like it was shot for a Meadows fictional film, and the director inserts himself into sections of his doc, acting as a vessel for his audience’s own nervous excitement and trepidation of the reforming. Even on the small screen, there’s won’t be a dry eye in the house for Roses fans. Magic.
There’s a nice little set of extras for fans here, including extended footage of the band rehearsing and some more scenes from their ‘secret’ small-scale reunion gig, held at Warrington’s Parr Hall.
There’s also some footage from their infamous Spike Island gig (the basis for Mat Whitecross’ recent fictional drama of the same name). Shot on a fan’s video camera, the quality isn’t great but witnessing the rapturous reactions from the crowd is really something.
For die-hard fans, another Blu-ray disc is available with over two hours 0f extras.
[Rating:3/5] Adam Lowes
The Dark Knight Trilogy Ultimate Collector’s Edition
Much has been written on the Nolan Batman films, and their influence on how Hollywood and audiences across the world view the superhero film cannot be understated. They have become the epitome of the audience-friendly, franchise-defining, gritty superhero movie and have made billions and garnered critical acclaim. How Nolan achieved this is twofold. Setting his Gotham in the real world, rather than the stagebound Furstian beauty of Burton’s Batman, gave this new Batman a scale and a scope which set it apart from the caped crusades of the past. This gave the various threats faced by Batman an urgency and connection which proved a fascinating foundation for Nolan’s take on the rogue’s gallery of Gotham.
If you’ve got the sets already then the extras (detailed below) are what will drive you to consider a purchase. Watching each of the films again, knowing that Nolan is now Godfather of the DC cinematic universe – seeing this work in Man of Steel, the trilogy’s flaw of indulgence and sometimes a wilful disregard of logic become less of a hindrance. The curious result is that despite the ebb and flow of quality and the stop-start nature of the narrative drives becomes less of a problem and a cohesive whole emerges.
The Blu-rays feature the standard features present in the standalone box sets, however this is a whole new disc which makes up for some of the shortcomings of the individual special features on each box set. There is a conversation lasting a half hour between Christopher Nolan and Richard Donner, which spans the DC universe and is interesting, if not entirely essential, viewing. The key feature here, similar to the Bond 50 Blu-ray set out last year, is the hour and a half Filmmaker’s journey focusing on the entire trilogy. It’s a fine look at the entire process and it never strays too far into candid territory, casting changes and the tragic death of Heath Ledger aren’t gone into for example, but there’s much here for Nolanites to enjoy. It’s perhaps the best look we’re going to get at how Nolan’s Gotham was born, how Batman was rescued from Nipple-suits and neon, and what the future may hold for DC’s superheroes on the big screen.
There’s also an excellent collection of Mondo prints focusing on the trilogy’s villains, a 48 page photo book with a little commentary and three miniature versions of the series’ vehicles – I won’t say they’re toys as there’s a stand for the Batpod (the Tumbler and the Bat bike complete the set).
Overall the relatively high price of the set is matched by the quality of the extras featured within. It’s a fine collector’s edition, and if you’re a dedicated fan it’s one to stick on the Christmas list.
Jimi Hendrix: Guitar Hero
Over 40 years since his untimely death, Jimi Hendrix’s legacy shines as bright as ever. A biopic starring Outkast’s Andre 3000 and Imogen Poots is on the way, but before that arrives over here, fans can indulge themselves with this look at the life of Seattle-born rock god.
Narrated by uber fan and former Guns N’ Roses axman Slash, the documentary is a pretty exhaustive look at the guitar virtuoso’s career. With enthusiastic contributions from an impressive array of fellow musicians from that exhilarating era in rock and roll, Hendrix’s early dalliances in London (where he really burst onto the scene) are given a decent amount of time and discussion here.
There’s plenty of fuzzy black & white footage of the legend on stage, and his guitar playing prowess is just as astounding and breath-taking to observe in this condition. Jimi Hendrix: Guitar Hero is hardly a warts and all look on its subject, but it’s an affectionate tribute from those rock contemporaries who knew him. It goes without saying the film is a must for all Hendrix fanatics, but for those with a passing interest, it’s not a bad 90 minutes or so distraction.
The DVD comes as a double disc packed full of extended interviews from the film, and tons more live footage. Perfect for rabid fans to get a further fix.
[Rating:2/5] Adam Lowes
Epic tells the tale of good verses evil, an all too common theme in children’s cinema. Teenager M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) is forced into a whole new, miniature world within the tropical forest after losing her mother and opting to stay with her quirky father (Jason Sudeikis). Obsessed by a world filled with magical creatures. M.K. discovers, and becomes a part of, the natural spirits and familiar insects and creatures who are out to help the ‘Leafmen’ save the forest from the evil warriors ready to destroy the beautiful nature.
Filled with Hollywood favourites including Beyonce Knowles, Christoph Waltz, Steven Tyler, Colin Farrell and Chris O’Dowd, this animated tale has the potential to be an exciting and magical experience for children, as well as adults considering the film comes from the creators of the much loved Ice Age series. The problem is it lacks any kind of originality for a movie aimed at young children.
It contains what almost every child’s film has included in the last five years – a strong female lead, a silly prince-type, goofy sidekicks and an all-knowing character who offers guidance. Running throughout are topics of family struggles, love interests and choosing rights from wrongs, with action packed scenes that actually don’t offer as much excitement as you’d hope – most likely because the film is so predictable, you know all will be well in the end.
Added features on the DVD aren’t brilliant, but they’re not horrible. The DVD extras have an educational theme running throughout, teaching the audience more about the real life characters. There are also exclusive Blu-ray features including even more information on the bugs and life of the forest, such as how creatures adapt to their environment, and showing what it would be like to be two inches tall.