DVD round-up: The Fighter, Rabbit Hole, Doctor Who, Stewart Lee

This week's TV and film releases reviewed



DVD of the Week
The Fighter
Cert: 15
5 stars

In a nutshell: A shamelessly enjoyable boxing flick in the Rocky mould

Based on the career of welterweight boxing champ “Irish” Micky Ward, this rousing crowd-pleaser stars Mark Wahlberg as the fighter whose unlikely career took him from the working-class streets of Lowell, Massachusetts, to the heights of pugilistic fame. Director David O Russell expertly handles the shift from gritty realism to the type of triumph-against-the-odds Hollywood finale that the material demands, while Oscar-winning Christian Bale is a mass of crazy energy as Micky’s drug-addled half-brother and coach. But it’s Wahlberg’s lower-key performance as the good-natured scrapper that is the movie’s real, and utterly irresistible, heart. Adam Smith

Formats: DVD and Blu-ray.

Extras: Director commentary, deleted scenes and production featurettes.

Brighton Rock
Cert: 15
1 star

In a nutshell: Mod-era update of the Graham Greene crime classic

This adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel is all a bit of an unfortunate mess. The action is updated to the 1960s and the era of mods and rockers, where vicious gangster Pinkie (a miscast Sam Riley) begins his blood-drenched rise to power. He’s romantically pursued by waitress Rose (Andrea Riseborough), while Helen Mirren hams it up as her concerned boss, Ida. Although it’s occasionally nicely shot, the film’s main problem is an inept script that seems determined to baffle and confuse. Seek out the original book or the Boulting brothers’ classic 1947 film adaptation instead. Adam Smith

Formats: DVD and Double Play DVD and Blu-ray.

Extras: Director commentary, interviews with the cast and crew, deleted scenes and production featurettes.

Rabbit Hole
Cert: 12
4 stars
In a nutshell: Nicole Kidman gives an Oscar-nominated turn as a grieving parent

The Corbetts were a happily married couple with a young son, but their domestic idyll was shattered when the boy was killed in an accident. Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) attend therapy, but find it increasingly difficult to communicate, which leads to them each embarking on clandestine relationships. What follows is darkly ironic, and yet in context it seems perfectly natural and is even amusing in places. The performances from the leads are beautifully judged, while the film is as delicate and as finely nuanced as the characters and relationships it portrays. Brian Pendreigh

Formats: DVD only

Extras: Interviews with cast and crew and production featurettes.

Other highlights this week:

Howl – James Franco portrays Beat poet Allen Ginsberg
How Do You Know – Love triangle romcom with Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd
I Am Number Four – Incognito alien Alex Pettyfer’s cover is blown
The Rite – Chilling possession horror with Anthony Hopkins
West Is West – The East Is East gang rediscover their roots


Doctor Who: Earth Story
Cert: PG

3 stars

In a nutshell: Some historical romps for William Hartnell and Peter Davison in classic-era Who

Two classic-era Who stories – The Gunfighters, a Wild West yarn starring William Hartnell, plus The Awakening, about an alien force at work in a picture-postcard village. The fifth Doctor adventure for Peter Davison, an atmospheric two-parter, has worn better. The cliffhanger at the end of episode one, when the giant demonic face of the Malus appears to engulf the Doctor in dry ice, is a memorable example of a limited budget being employed to scary effect. David Brown

Formats: DVD only

Extras: Restored and re-mastered commentaries, plus cast and crew documentaries. Photo gallery and coming soon trailer.

Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle
Cert: 15

4 stars


In a nutshell: series two from the stand-up’s stand-up, recently shown on BBC2

Its post-Newsnight slot meant that the second run of this Bafta-nominated series didn’t get the audience that it deserved, so why not catch up with all the episodes here. “Britain’s 12th best stand-up comedian” delivers (in his familiar nonchalant manner) six self-contained sets on the subjects of charity, crisps, urban living, the 1980s, national identity and David Cameron. Expect plenty of Stew’s trademark repetition and deviation plus guest appearances from comics guru Alan Moore and a giant Japanese moth. David Brown

Formats: DVD only

Extras: Russell Brand’s Wedding performed by Stewart Lee and Nick Pynn, Extended Alan Moore improvisation

Other highlights this week:

The Dales – Adrian Edmondson returns to the county of his birth – Yorkshire – for a 12-part series
Bored to Death (season 1) – HBO comedy starring Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson about a writer moonlighting as an unlicensed private detective
The Country House Revealed – Historian Dan Cruickshank is invited through the closed doors of six of Britain’s greatest private houses
The Twilight Zone (season 2) – Rod Serling’s classic series exploring the fantastic and the frightening