DVD round-up: Animal Kingdom, Fair Game, Doctor Who, Luther

The week's TV and film releases reviewed



DVD of the Week
Animal Kingdom (Cert: 18)
5 stars
In a nutshell: Vivid portrayal of Melbourne’s seamy underworld

In Australian writer/director David Michod’s astonishing feature debut, teenager Joshua (newcomer James Frecheville) goes to live with his criminal in-laws and becomes caught in the centre of a feud with renegade police. The performances are exemplary: Ben Mendelsohn is all simmering rage as a man whose days of criminal supremacy are now behind him; Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver is terrifying as the grandmother who’ll stop at nothing to protect her boys; and Guy Pearce excels as a straight cop who struggles to get Joshua to do the right thing. With its searing style and profound content, this builds unnervingly to a stunning conclusion. Alan Jones

Formats: DVD and Blu-ray.
Extras: 70-minute “making of” documentary, audio commentary and interviews with Michod and the cast.

Fair Game (Cert: 12)
3 stars
In a nutshell: True-story account of an outed CIA agent

Naomi Watts impresses in this dramatised account of the Valerie Plame scandal. CIA operative Plame (Watts) had her cover deliberately blown by the Bush administration in 2003, apparently in response to a critical newspaper article about the reasons for invading Iraq by her ex-diplomat husband, Joe Wilson (Sean Penn). Watts’s depiction of a professional spook attempting to negotiate a political minefield as well as hold her stressed-out marriage together is thoroughly convincing, while Bourne Identity director Doug Liman efficiently and seamlessly blends news footage with dramatic reconstruction. Adam Smith

Formats: DVD and Blu-ray.
Extras: Audio commentary with Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Cert: 12)
2 stars
In a nutshell: Woody Allen’s lacklustre tale of London love lives

Woody Allen is on familiar but increasingly stale territory in this London-set story of dysfunctional relationships. Ageing businessman Anthony Hopkins leaves his wife of 40 years for flighty young call girl Lucy Punch – outraging his daughter, Naomi Watts. Watts, meanwhile, is growing restless in her own marriage to struggling novelist Josh Brolin and develops a crush on her dashing boss (Antonio Banderas). Punch provides most of what few laughs there are as the gold-digging Essex girl, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that Allen has told this story so many times before – and so much better. Terry Staunton

Formats: DVD.
Extras: None.

Other highlights:

Battle Los Angeles – US marines take on an alien invasion

Ironclad – Medieval adventure featuring Paul Giamatti

Patagonia – Road movie set across two continents


Doctor Who: Series 6, Part 1 (Cert: 12)
3 stars
In a nutshell: The most recent run of episodes, ending with River Song’s revelations

The most recent series finds the Doctor, Amy and Rory in the USA of the 1960s, battling an invasion that the world doesn’t remember before journeying to a bubble universe at the edge of reality. Some critics were critical of the complexity of the stories featured, arguing that Doctor Who was in danger of alienating its target family audience. But by the time that the mid-season cliffhanger rolled around, it was River Song’s secrets that got us all talking. David Brown

Format: DVD and Blu-Ray.
Extras: Behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Gangers and the Silence.

Luther: Series 2 (Cert: 15)
3 stars
In a nutshell: Idris Elba returns to track down more serial killers

TV’s most overwrought detective (beating even Waking the Dead’s Peter Boyd) is back following the death of his wife and the betrayal of his friend and colleague, Ian Reed. We open on a scene of heightened intensity with Luther playing Russian roulette, but it isn’t long before he gets distracted from his own troubles by a masked man carrying out ritualistic killings in historic London locations. If you want to catch up on Idris Elba’s past investigations, then series one and two are also available in a box set edition. David Brown

Format: DVD.

Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurette.

Other highlights:

Law & Order: UK (series 4): reliably solid cops and courtroom drama


Lead Balloon (series 1–4): Jack Dee stars as disillusioned comic Rick Spleen