She’s a diamond, our Liz, and as our current reigning royal comes within spitting distance of shattering Victoria’s record for longest-serving monarch (63 years), we here at blockbuster.co.uk are celebrating in our own, special way. Meaning movies, movies and lots more movies! Big ones and bigger ones, films of every genre and a Best of British chiller to get the Royal Ball rolling, namely The Woman in Black, an exclusive release that you won’t find anywhere but here, so well done you for finding it! And happy Diamond Jubilee, your highness. Thanks very much for the long weekend. If you make it to seventy years (sorry, Charles), can we have a week off?
The Woman in Black
What a thrill it was to see the old Hammer logo rising from the dead, like Dracula from his crypt, heralding a grisly new era of films that go bump in the night. Between that, the swirly, fogbound credits and the mysterious melody that kicks off this gloriously spooky chiller, I was roundly primed for jumps and goosebumps a-plenty. Which is exactly what this movie delivers. In spades.
Of course, The Woman in Black has already proved itself an effective audience-pleaser. From best-selling novel to long-running theatrical production, it tells a simple tale exceedingly well and with a sleeve full of tricks, delivers a generous payload of chills and thrills with surgical precision. There’s nothing better than a good movie though, and in the capable, fervent hands of Eden Lake director James Watkins and Kick-Ass writer Jane Goldman, this lavishly atmospheric adaptation represents the ultimate incarnation of author Susan Hill’s Victorian ghost story.
A grieving single parent who can’t quite get his head back into work, struggling solicitor Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is given one last chance to shine by his stern employer. Swiftly despatched to quite the creepiest rural village in all of England, a hotpot of eccentric, unfriendly we-don’t-like-strangers-round-these-parts types, Kipps pours through paperwork in a remote and abandoned haunted house. Weighed down by a terrible history, full of secrets, shadows and toys that go off by themselves, it’s the dark, beating heart of a village with an unnaturally high infant mortality rate…
Kipps stumbles bravely, if increasingly warily, from one spooky happening to the next. We accompany him, because it’s fun to be freaked out, and also because we come to care for Kipps, thanks largely to Radcliffe’s tender, mature and truly moving performance. A procession of frights and starts confront us. First we see something, then it’s gone. What was that in the corner of our eye? Was that a face at the window? There are times, I must admit, when I felt the movie rather overplayed its ‘Boo!’ card, yet the moment I dared consider myself immune to its manipulative pleasures, it hit me with a fright so sudden and sharp, I actually gasped. Aloud! And I never gasp.
An exceptional spookfest that skilfully blends old fashioned stylings with contemporary fright flick techniques, The Woman in Black is a first-class scream. I’m also proud to announce that it’s a Blockbuster Exclusive, meaning that you can rent the movie on Blu-ray and DVD, either here online or in any one of our stores, but nowhere else!
Equally exclusive, and equally essential, although it couldn’t be more different from The Woman in Black if it tried, is Roman Polanski’s Carnage, a savage comedy of manners with a quartet of caustic performances and a screenplay, based upon Yasmina Reza’s play The God of Carnage, that’s so full of toxic gems, it’s a treasure trove of bad and borderline mad behaviour. Like spying on the best, most terrible, the craziest and most out-of-control argument of all time.
Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz are the Cowans, a married couple with issues and a son who hit another boy with a stick. Now they’re over at that kid’s house, trying to settle the issue like adults with his parents, the Longstreets. As played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly, they too have issues, and though on the face of things they’re reasonable, educated people, as the meeting wears on, tempers flare, harsh words are spoken, whiskey is drunk and secrets, lies and prejudices spew forth. Also, allegiances switch, incredibly, and all manners of shocking, surprising behaviour are exhibited for our giddily voyeuristic entertainment.
Though clearly based on a stage play – with brief excursions into the hallway, kitchen and bathroom the entire movie takes place in the Longstreet’s living room – the movie delivers its comedic payload with such force, in terms of pace and power, it’s like an action movie. For my money, it’s the best thing Polanski’s ever done.
Did you ever wonder how you would react if you ever got superpowers? What you would actually do with them, and what kind of person you’d become as a result? Most of us would like to think, I imagine, that we’d use our abilities for good. With great power, and all that jazz. But surely there’s that little voice inside that would urge us to get our own back on the bullies of our past, to show off and get the girl, and maybe even rob that bank in the high street, because no one could possibly stop us? Well, these are the issues at the heart of Chronicle, by far the greatest movie in the shaky found footage, hand-held camera genre.
A trio of high school seniors stumble upon a hole in the ground in the woods. Venturing inside they discover something glowing and otherworldly that somehow bestows upon them powerful telekinetic abilities. Over the days and weeks that follow, the lads develop their powers in various surprising and frankly awesome ways, using them mostly for fun though, playing games, pulling pranks, nothing serious. Escalation, however, is inevitable, and as events spiral out of control, we’re witness to the evolution of the world’s first super-villain…
Largely authentic and believably played with a story that, for the most part, unfolds at a natural pace, Chronicle is further lifted by perfectly plausible yet utterly incredible effects work that makes everything seem completely real. Playing out the super-powers scenario from dream-come-true to total nightmare, the movie thrills, grips and amuses in equal measure, a truly amazing, utterly spell-binding entertainment. Rent the Blu-ray and DVD right now, exclusively from your local Blockbuster store.
Also on Release…
A quintuple Oscar-winning smash, largely silent with silky black and white stylings, The Artist follows the gradual fall of a silent-era Hollywood legend, and the meteoric rise of the sound-friendly starlet he loves. A lavish love letter to vintage cinema with a good, old fashioned heart and crackerjack performances from Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and Uggie the Jack Russell terrier, this is a sweet, feelgood movie with a smile factor of ten. Buy and rent it now on Blu-ray and DVD, in store and online from blockbuster.co.uk.
A spirited, family-friendly follow up to the equally pleasing Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island sees Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgens risking life and limb to rescue Michael Caine from a mythical island crawling with oversized beasties. A diverting adventure for kids that fantasy-loving adults will like as well, this is good, solid fun. Rent the Blu-ray and DVD right now, from your local Blockbuster store.
Following an accident that wipes his wife’s memory, her husband labours to regain her affections in our final film of the week, The Vow, a neatly shameless weepie starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum. Something for the romantic in us all, it’s available now on Blu-ray and DVD, exclusively from Blockbuster stores.