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Reviews of this week's top DVD releases
Harrison Ford as Woodrow Dolarhyde and Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan in Cowboys & Aliens. PA Photo/Paramount Home Entertainment
A round-up of the latest DVD releases.
Cowboys & Aliens (12) ***
JAKE Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes disoriented in the desert with a gunshot wound and a large metal bracelet on his wrist.
He struts into town and is unmasked as a killer with a sizeable bounty on his head.
Arrested by the sheriff and bound for prison alongside Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), Jake makes his escape during a devastating attack by extraterrestrial craft.
Percy is abducted and the boy's father, Woodrow (Harrison Ford), vows to rescue his son and he press-gangs Jake into accompanying his posse on the perilous mission.
Beautiful cowgirl Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), publican Doc (Sam Rockwell) and a fatherless boy called Emmett (Noah Taylor) join the hunt for aliens.
Based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Cowboys & Aliens is a rootin' tootin' action adventure that melds the western and science fiction genres with a blitzkrieg of digital effects.
It's a curious juxtaposition - pistols and laser guns - and certain elements of Jon Favreau's entertaining film don't gel.
Craig exudes the same amount of charisma as the wooden scenery but he is a brooding physical presence and the camera sensibly focuses on his chest and posterior.
Ford provides fleeting comic relief and also pockets the film's best emotional scene. Wilde's feisty femme almost feels surplus to requirements, unable to generate any sexual chemistry with Craig because of his character's tragic back-story.
Ignore the preposterous plot twists. Cowboys & Aliens gallops along at a fair lick and director Favreau (Iron Man) orchestrates the set pieces with aplomb.
Final Destination 5 (15) ***
SAM (Nicholas D'Agosto) ekes out a living in the office of a paper manufacturer but dreams of becoming a chef.
He is tasked with organising an away day for his colleagues, who include on-off girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell), best friends Peter (Miles Fisher) and Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta), sleazy Isaac (PJ Byrne) and snide and bitchy Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood).
The bus gets stuck in traffic halfway across a suspension bridge and Sam has a vivid premonition about the structure collapsing and everyone, except for Emma, perishing in the disaster.
Deeply spooked, Sam ushers his friends to safety and sure enough the bridge does collapse but then the survivors begin to perish in the order they would have died before Sam's miraculous intervention.
Final Destination 5 is one of the most enjoyable sequels in the series, directed at a brisk pace by Steven Quale, including a spectacular action set piece on the bridge.
Performances are perfunctory aside from a knowingly camp supporting turn from Tony Todd as a coroner.
As with the other four films in the franchise, death sequences are fiendish and ingenious.
Before their demise, each of the characters is placed in an environment packed full of hazards and potentially lethal obstacles, leaving us to imagine what gruesome event might happen, only for the actual incident to be something far more outlandish and deliciously gory.
One version of the Blu-ray includes the 3D version of the film, which allows viewers to enjoy the carnage in its full grisly glory. Eye-popping - literally.
The Devil's Double (18) ***
SHY and reserved Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is the spitting image of Saddam Hussein's son, Uday (Dominic Cooper), who believes that he can do and say what he wants by virtue of being the eldest child of the dictator.
Uday makes Latif an offer he cannot refuse: pose as a doppelganger at public appearances to boost the morale of his countrymen or sign the death warrants of his entire family.
Forced to imitate Uday's oafish behaviour and mannerisms in the media spotlight and potentially take a sniper's bullet between the eyes, Latif is drawn into the inner circle of the Iraqi president and his advisers, where he falls under the spell of Sarrab (Ludivine Sagnier), Uday's favourite mistress.
Based on Yahia's fascinating memoir of the same name, The Devil's Double is a chilling portrait of a psychopath let loose on his own people, and the man who had the unenviable task of getting beneath Uday's skin to keep himself and his family alive.
Cooper is mesmerising, particularly as the flamboyant Uday, staunchly refusing to allow Latif to leave his side because in his words, "I love you too much."
At times Uday comes across as a bit of a buffoon, such as when Latif defies his orders and he sighs aloud, "You give people an opportunity and this is how they repay you."
However, we are constantly reminded of Uday's capacity for sickening violence, including one shocking scene of the son slitting open a military man and spilling his innards. Director Lee Tamahori doesn't shy away from the horror, nor do we.
A Lonely Place To Die (15) ***
ALISON (Melissa George), Rob (Alec Newman), Alex (Gary Sweeney), Jenny (Kate Magowan) and the relatively inexperienced Ed (Ed Speleers) head into the Scottish wilderness to train for an ascent of the Eiger later in the year.
During a hike through a forest, the friends discover a badly dehydrated, eight-year-old Serbian girl called Anna (Holly Boyd) buried in a chamber in the earth.
No sooner have the mountaineers rescued Anna than they come under fire from kidnappers Mr Kidd (Sean Harris) and Mr Mcrae (Stephen McCole).
Nearby, Darko (Karel Roden), who represents Anna's father, heads into the mountains with hired gun Andy (Eamonn Walker) and a suitcase containing the ransom money that should ensure the girl's safe return.
Shot on location in the Scottish Highlands, A Lonely Place To Die is an adrenaline-fuelled action thriller about a team of climbers who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Punctuated by scenes of violence that become increasingly preposterous, Julian Gilbey's film orchestrates a high-stakes game of cat and mouse against stunning yet hazardous vistas.
Cinematographer Ali Asad captures the rugged splendour of the mountains, scaling sheer rock faces and careening through undergrowth as the main cast sprint for their lives.
George and her co-stars cope well with the physical aspects of their two-dimensional roles but there's scant emotion in the script and too little time to explore the potentially intriguing bond between Alison and Anna.
Once we understand the motives of the various characters, tension dissipates and it's simply a case of treading water until a brutal denouement.
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