Last week brought Woody Harrelson’s career-best performance in Rampart to the shelves, Oren Moverman’s brilliant follow-up to the Oscar-nominated The Messenger, and this week sees another great new selection of films getting their DVD/Blu-ray debut, as well as a host of classics getting the Blu-ray treatment.

Prepare for Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Spacey, Cameron Crowe, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Devil.

My picks of the week:

Baltasar Kormákur’s Contraband     &     Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo     &     George Hickenlooper’s Casino Jack.

And the Blu-ray release of Doug Liman and Jon Favreau’s Swingers.



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DVD and Blu-ray (inc. UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Contraband has all you could ask for from an action/crime film: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, and a bit of Giovanni Ribisi and Lukas Haas.

The film took just shy of $100m. earlier this year, and if you’re a fan of Wahlberg’s work – and you should be – this is excellent viewing. I loved it at the cinema, and can’t wait to see it again.

“Chris Farraday (Wahlberg) long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs (Ribisi), Chris is forced back into doing what he does best – running contraband – to settle Andy’s debt. Chris is a legendary smuggler and quickly assembles a crew with the help of his best friend, Sebastian (Foster), to head to Panama and return with millions in counterfeit bills.

Things quickly fall apart and with only hours to reach the cash, Chris must use his rusty skills to successfully navigate a treacherous criminal network of brutal drug lords, cops and hit men before his wife, Kate (Beckinsale), and sons become their target.”

We have a great behind-the-scenes feature from the film with director Baltasar Kormákur, in promotion of this week’s new release, for your viewing pleasure here.


We Bought a Zoo

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DVD and Blu-ray Triple Play (both inc. Digital Copy)

Cameron Crowe returned behind the camera this year with his first feature since 2005’s Elizabethtown. The ever-brilliant director assembled an expectedly brilliant cast for the film, headed up by Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, two stars very much on of their game, alongside the rising young star Elle Fanning.

“We Bought A Zoo is a funny, inspiring and true story about the magical power of family to persevere in the face of extraordinary challenges. Matt Damon is Benjamin Mee – who, looking to give his family a much needed fresh start, moves to a home situated in the middle of a dilapidated zoo which he sets about bringing back to its glorious state. Also starring Scarlett Johansson and Elle Fanning

Acclaimed Director Cameron Crowe’s first family offering, starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson & Elle Fanning in this funny, inspiring and true story of triumph over adversity. Based on the best-selling book.”


Casino Jack

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DVD and Blu-ray

Kevin Spacey stars in the lead in this Golden Globe-nominated crime/comedy, which is all I need to know. They had me at ‘Kevin Spacey’.

The late George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl, Dogtown) made his final film in Casino Jack, and alongside Spacey star Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston, and the brilliant Jon Lovitz.

“Casino Jack lays bare the wild excesses and escapades of Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey), a man hell- bent on acquiring all that the good life has to offer. Aided by his business partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper), Jack parlays his clout over some of the world’s most powerful men with the goal of creating a personal empire of wealth and influence. When the two enlist a mob-connected buddy (Jon Lovitz) to help with one of their illegal schemes, they soon find themselves in over their heads, entrenched in a world of mafia assassins, murder and a scandal that spins so out of control that it makes worldwide headlines.”


The Devil Inside

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DVD and Blu-ray

Turning its $1m. budget into more than $100m. at the start of the year, taking the #1 spot at the US box office for the first weekend of 2012, The Devil Inside may not have been welcomed by critics, but what horror films are?

With the genre, box office numbers are usually more reliable, in my opinion, and $100m. pretty much speaks for itself.

“A young woman learns that her mother committed multiple murders while undergoing an exorcism, and she travels to Rome with a film crew on a mission to uncover the truth about that horrific incident in this found-footage-style possession shocker from director William Brent Bell. As a young girl, Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) had been led to believe that the killings were committed after her mother flew into a psychotic rage. But when Isabella finds evidence indicating that an exorcism was being conducted on her mother at the time, she enlists a film crew to follow her to Italy in search of the truth. In order to gain a better understanding of the spiritual plight that her mother endured, Isabella and her crew attend a series of unsanctioned exorcisms that become increasingly terrifying.”

We caught an exclusive clip last week ahead of its release today, and you can enjoy that in all its terror here.


Act of Valour

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DVD and Blu-ray

Despite negative reviews from critics, US cinemagoers seemed to love Act of Valour when it debuted earlier this year, with its cast of real Navy SEALs, sending it straight to the top of the box office.

“An elite team of US Navy SEALs race against the clock to stop a planned terrorist attack on U.S. soil in this film inspired by actual events, which also features a cast of active-duty soldiers. With each successful mission, the Bandito Platoon uncovers another piece of the puzzle that leads them on a worldwide chase to prevent an act of terror that could alter the course of history. Later, at the U.S./Mexico border, the fight for the future of America comes to an explosive climax. Even when it seems as if evil may prevail, the courageous, determined SEALs never show signs of backing down or giving up.”


A Thousand Words

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Eddie Murphy’s return in A Thousand Words this year was somewhat panned by critics and cinemagoers alike. Paramount/DreamWorks are probably quite happy to sweep this under the rug, whilst we all wait for Murphy to return to his former height. Tower Heist looked more promising in that respect, so a further step in that direction would be most welcome.

“Fast-talking Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy) says whatever it takes to close a deal. But after stretching the truth with a spiritual guru, he suddenly finds his life depending on a magical tree with 1,000 leaves… one for every word he has left. Now Jack’s got to stop talking and conjure up some outrageous ways to communicate or he’s a goner. See why A Thousand Words is the feel-good comedy critics are calling “heart warming and hilarious.””


Blu-ray Re-Releases

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The brilliant Jon Favreau, the man behind (and beside) Iron Man and so many great films and TV shows, made his writing debut back in 1996 with Swingers, starring himself alongside Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingstone, Patrick Van Horn, Alex Désert, and Heather Graham. If you’re yet to see this cult classic, now is the perfect time to pick it up in its newly-released HD format.

Similarly, with the Total Recall reboot/remake just on the horizon, due out next month, the timing is also perfect for the Blu-ray re-release of the original Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead. The Triple Play release is also being put out in a limited edition Steelbook version, so if you’re a Steelbook collector, you’ll be sure to get this whilst it’s still on sale.

The 30th Anniversary Edition of Chariots of Fire is making its way to our shelves this week, too, and if you’ve not been able to catch the special screenings in cinemas this month, you can take it home with you from today in High Definition.