Last week saw the release of the second season of the brilliant The Walking Dead, one of the best and most talked-about television programmes currently on the air – and about to kick off with its anticipated third season.
And this week brings with it the release of one of the year’s most successful films in the form of The Hunger Games, very much one of the biggest blockbusters of 2012, beginning what is set to become an immense franchise in the years to come.
There are a lot of films coming to the shelves this week, so I shall press on.
My picks of the week:
Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games & Lasse Hallström’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
The Office: An American Workplace – Season 7 & Boardwalk Empire – Season 2.
And, of course, the Blu-ray release of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.
The Hunger Games
DVD and Blu-ray
(also available: Blu-ray Steelbook Exclusive to HMV)
Starring Jennifer Lawrence as the lead, Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games was one of the most talked-about films as we kicked off the year, with a brilliant campaign starting in the latter half of 2011.
The blockbuster, with its all-star cast, exceeded all expectations from the outset, with the numbers climbing higher and higher in its opening weekend, and a final tally clearing the $650m.-mark.
The film is the first adaptation in Suzanne Collins’ original novel trilogy, and with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire already in pre-production, you can be sure that this is the first film of something that’s only going to be growing in recognition in the years to come.
“Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when she’s pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.”
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
DVD and Blu-ray
Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival this time last year, Lasse Hallström’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has been receiving brilliant reviews ever since, warming critics’ and audiences’ hearts alike.
Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor star opposite each other in the leads, with support from Kristin Scott Thomas, and a script by Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire), adapting Paul Torday’s original best-selling novel, and you really can’t ask for much more than that.
“Lasse Hallström’s charming and witty adaptation of Paul Torday’s best-selling novel, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. The film stars Ewan McGregor as Fred Jones, a fisheries expert and academic who works for the British government. When he’s approached by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) with a plan to introduce salmon into the waterways of Yemen for the purpose of sport fishing, he laughs off the scheme, claiming it impossible. Harriet acts as the British representative of an amiable and benevolent sheikh (Amr Waked), who fulfils his love of fishing on frequent trips to his estate in the ruggedly gorgeous Scottish highlands.
While Fred ponders the idea, the proposal catches the ear of the British prime minister’s spokesperson, Bridget Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas. Desperate to detract attention from some unwanted publicity, Bridget sees Harriet’s idea as the perfect opportunity to promote what will appear to be a heartfelt story of British goodwill in the Middle East. Despite Fred’s protests, he soon finds himself working on a project that seems not only frivolous but absolutely unfeasible in the arid land of Yemen. His scepticism is matched only by the sheikh’s boundless optimism. As the mission begins to succeed, Fred grows closer to Harriet. Despite the many obstacles that stand in the way of their romance, their relationship affords an unexpected and welcome sense of hope for two lonely individuals.”
[REC] 3: Genesis
DVD and Blu-ray
The third instalment in the highly popular and successful horror series, [REC] 3: Genesis promises to be another genre instant-classic, with the trailer really giving a fantastic tease of the horrors we have in store for us.
The film was given a limited release at the weekend, and is coming to DVD and Blu-ray now where it can find the wide audience it deserves. And with [REC] 4: Apocalypse on the way, now is the perfect time to get yourself up to date with the latest instalment.
“Koldo & Clara are made for each other and they plan to celebrate their marriage accompanied by their nearest and dearest. But a black cloud is looming over them. On the happiest day of their lives, all hell is about to break loose.”
The Aggression Scale
DVD and Blu-ray
The first trailer for this action/thriller landed six months ago, and was very promising as it headed for its debut at SXSW. The film was picked up by Anchor Bay in advance for US distribution, and though it hasn’t seen the light of day in our cinemas – and I’m not sure if it has in the States, either – it’s coming straight to DVD and Blu-ray here, and should carve out a nice audience for itself.
“Charged with murder and likely going to jail, crime boss Reg Bellavance (Ray Wise) is out on bail and wants to skip town with his son. The only problem is that the money he had stashed away for just such an occasion has gone missing.
Bellevance gives his right hand man Lloyd (Dana Ashbrook) a simple order: Find his money, kill everyone who had a hand in stealing it and make it messy. Lloyd and his crew tear out into the city and begin carrying out the order in brutal fashion… They have no idea just how dangerous their job is about to get.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Starring Christian Slater, Donald Sutherland, Elika Portnoy, and Timothy Spall in the leads, Sofia was release in the US early last month, and is another of this week’s entries coming straight to DVD/Blu-ray here in the UK.
The action/thriller has a strong line-up, and though the reviews coming out of the States have been less than stellar, it looks like it could make for a solid night’s action entertainment.
“Sofia features an all-star cast including Christian Slater, Donald Sutherland and Timothy Spall.
Field Agent Robert Diggs (Slater) walked away from his career in the FBI for one reason: to escape the memories of his wife’s death for which he blames himself. However, when an unknown vigilante begins killing high-priority terrorists from America’s Most Wanted list, the FBI and CIA request he take on the case, and with the U.S. Ambassador’s (Sutherland) persuasion, Diggs finally agrees.
While tracking down the killer, Diggs finds himself drawn to a sensuous belly dancer named Ursula. As Diggs’ personal life heats up, his progress with the case runs cold. His frustration mounts as the killer continues to successfully assassinate the terrorists. Little does Diggs know that he is sleeping with the enemy.”
Piranha 3DD, the sequel to 2010’s original, hit the big screen earlier this year, and didn’t quite find the enormous success of its original. It seems for that reason it’s not (at least yet) being released on Blu-ray, so you won’t be able to enjoy the horror-comedy in high-definition just yet. But if sales go well, which I can certainly imagine they will, I wouldn’t be surprised if an HD release will be on the horizon.
“There’s something in the water . . . again. And this time no one is safe from the flesh eating fish as they sink their razor sharp teeth into the visitors of the best summer attraction, The Big Wet Water Park. With Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd.”
The Office: An American Workplace – Season 7
*Spoiler alert* The brilliant Steve Carell exits the small screen on this season of The Office, one of the most popular and long-standing TV series on US screens in recent years.
Branching out completely from the UK original it’s based on very early on, The Office has since aired its first full season without Carell in the US, and has been renewed for what writer Greg Daniels says will be its ninth and final season.
“Season 7 of The Office includes a case of herpes, a proposal, the much-anticipated screening of Michael’s action feature film ‘Threat Level Midnight’ and even a guest stint from Will Ferrell & Jim Carey!
It’s also Steve Carell’s last hurrah as living legend Michael Scott as he departs from the paper trade after seven seasons of service.
Also starring rising stars John Krasinski (Away We Go), Ed Helms (The Hangover), Rainn Wilson (The Rocker) and B.J. Novak (Inglorious Basterds) The Office will leave you smiling and satisfied.
That’s what she said.”
Boardwalk Empire – Season 2
DVD and Blu-ray
(also available: Boardwalk Empire – Seasons 1 & 2 Collection)
HBO’s incredibly popular drama returns for its second season, with Steve Buscemi back for more as Nucky Thompson.
The programme is one of a handful that is constantly praised by critics and viewers alike, and with a third season on the way, it’s naturally the perfect time to pick up where you left off, or start from the beginning if you’re new to the series.
“Atlantic City, 1921. In a city whose fortunes have soared in the wake of Prohibition, Nucky Thompson is paying a steep price for wielding ultimate power in “the world’s playground.” Steve Buscemi returns as Nucky in Season 2 of this hit HBO drama series that follows the continued rise of organized crime at the dawn of Prohibition. Though the 1920 election he successfully rigged is over, Nucky finds himself the target of a federal investigation for vote tampering–and an insurrection by those he counted among his closest allies. All the while, top mobsters like Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Al Capone wait in the wings, looking for the chance to grab a bigger piece of Nucky’s pie. Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald and Michael Shannon co-star.”
The Big Bang Theory – Season 5
DVD and Blu-ray
(also available: The Big Bang Theory – Seasons 1 – 5)
CBS’ popular sitcom returns to the small screen with its fifth season coming to our shelves this week.
I’ll admit that I’ve never really watched the programme, but with a slew of awards and nominations to its name – including winning two Emmys and a Golden Globe – you can’t go too wrong here.
“Leonard and Sheldon are brilliant physicists, the kind of “beautiful minds” that understand how the universe works. But none of that genius helps them interact with people, especially women. All this begins to change when a free-spirited beauty named Penny moves in next door. Sheldon, Leonard’s roommate, is quite content spending his nights playing Klingon Boggle with their socially dysfunctional friends, fellow Caltech scientists Wolowitz and Koothrappali. However, Leonard sees in Penny a whole new universe of possibilities … including love.”
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is one of the most iconic films in recent decades. Marking one of his many collaborations with the inconceivably brilliant composer, John Williams, Jaws is one of those few films that has been almost universally seen by everyone of film-watching age. An instant classic that has long been deserving of an HD update.
Also getting the high-definition treatment this week is another timeless classic, but of an entirely different variety, in the form of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, and its sequel, 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch’s London Adventure. Not to be confused with the 1996 live-action film, this animated family favourite turned its $4m. budget into $14m. at the US box office on its first release – an incredible feat, to be certain – and has since gone on to take an impressive $215m. in total across the years.