DVD & Blu-Ray reviews: The Butler, Short Term 12, Ender’s Game, Outnumbered, Drinking Buddies
Saturday 08 March 2014
The Butler (12) Lee Daniels DVD/Blu-ray (132mins)
Forest Whitaker (above) plays stoical Cecil, who rises from the cotton fields – where he witnesses his mother (Mariah Carey) raped and father shot dead – to the White House, serving under seven presidents, including Nixon (John Cusack) and Reagan (Alan Rickman). Cecil’s butler skills are the least gripping aspect of this rather muddled biopic. More interesting are his frustrated wife (Oprah Winfrey) and son Louis (David Oyelowo), a civil-rights campaigner. The civil rights message is robust and there are some decent cameos (Cuba Gooding Jr, Terrence Howard), but it feels too much like a worthy, undercooked TV movie.
Short Term 12 (15) Destin Cretton DVD/Blu-ray (97mins)
Brie Larson is tremendous as Grace, a compassionate foster-care worker at a centre for neglected and troubled children. Long-term resident Marcus (Keith Stanfield) is anxious about leaving the facility when he turns 18, while sullen Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) is a “newbie” who self-harms. Despite the occasionally cloying soundtrack, Destin Cretton’s US drama succeeds in not straying into perilous, slushy Dangerous Minds territory. It’s more grounded – and Jayden’s short story about an octopus and a shark packs quite a punch.
Ender’s Game (12) Gavin Hood DVD/Blu-ray (114mins)
“He’s the one,” croaks Harrison Ford’s colonel about clever teen Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), Earth’s only hope against the Formics, a deadly alien race. After (tactically) duffing up a bully, Ender gets recruited to battle school, where’s he subjected to various tests and silly games before becoming the cadet programme’s star pupil. Harry Potter and Starship Troopers spring to mind in this impressive-looking, undemanding sci-fi, adapted from Orson Scott Card’s novel.
Outnumbered: Series 5 (12) Various directors DVD/Blu-ray (180mins)
“No gladiator nets at the dinner table,” demands Sue (the excellent Claire Skinner) to her lumbering son Ben, who’s rehearsing for his role as Spartacus in the school musical. The Brockman siblings aren’t quite as droll as they’ve morphed into teenagers, but Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins’s script is still tangy and this is a recognisable, nimbly choreographed family set-up. The final series of this outstanding sitcom culminates with a low-key, touching production of Spartacus.
Drinking Buddies (15) Joe Swanberg DVD/Blu-ray (90mins)
Joe Swanberg’s improvised relationships drama strives for naturalism and authenticity but it comes off as forced and sloppy. Olivia Wilde’s slobby, free-spirited Kate is dating thoughtful Chris (Ron Livingston) but connects better with her juvenile work colleague Luke (Jack Johnson), who is dating Anna Kendrick’s sweet Jill. The quartet go for a cabin break in the woods and their couplings unravel. You wouldn’t want to share a pint with any of these mumblers.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Refugee crisis: Sweden the only European country with a majority favourable towards non-EU immigration
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
Anne Hathaway is already being stung by Hollywood ageism, aged 32
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series
The Lobster trailer: Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a lover or he'll be turned into an animal
Spanish town saved by botched restoration of century-old Christian 'Ecce Homo' fresco of Jesus
'Beasts of No Nation': Netflix releases trailer of first feature film, starring Idris Elba
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees