DVD round-up: Brideshead, George Gently, Pirates of the Caribbean

The week's TV and film releases reviewed

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TV

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DVD of the Week

Brideshead Revisited (Cert: 15)

5 stars
In a nutshell: TV drama doesn’t come much better than this

This digital remastering marks the 30th anniversary of ITV’s immaculate adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s meditation on lost youth, friendship and faith. The 11-part serial was a landmark in TV drama with its high production values (filming took place over nine months and in such locations as Malta, Venice and on board the QEII liner), impeccable casting and exquisite score by Geoffrey Burgon. In the lead role, Jeremy Irons is suitably melancholy as Charles, the artist and soldier looking back at his 20-year association with the occupants of Brideshead castle, but Anthony Andrews’s portrayal of the conflicted Sebastian Flyte – complete with oversized teddy bear Aloysius – is the one that remains the most memorable. David Brown

Format: DVD

Extra features: Deleted scenes, a making-of documentary and a commentary from stars Irons, Andrews and Diana Quick

Inspector George Gently: Series 1-3 (Cert: 15)
3 stars
In a nutshell: ever-reliable police procedural with Martin Shaw

The Sunday-night favourite in which an old-school detective tries to come to terms with the blurred morality of 1960s policing gets a box set release, not even 24 hours after its latest series has completed on BBC1. In his first literary adaptation, Our Friends in the North writer Peter Flannery brought Alan Hunter’s sleuth to the screen, with Martin Shaw in the title role as the copper whose sense of public duty becomes an increasingly rare commodity in a force where corruption runs rife and unchecked. Lee Ingleby offers able support as DS Bacchus, the young and headstrong policeman with whom Gently is paired following a transfer from Scotland Yard to Northumberland. David Brown

Format: DVD
Extra features: Cast filmographies, Alan Hunter biography, photo gallery, behind-the-scenes and “Historical Happenings” featurette

Other highlights:
Appropriate Adult – Dominic West stars as prolific killer Fred West
Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks – Jon Pertwee’s brush with the despotic pepper pots
Entourage: season seven – more from life in Hollywood’s fast lane

FILM

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides (Cert: 12)
3 stars
In a nutshell: Johnny Depp casts off with Penélope Cruz

Johnny Depp rides out a rickety plot to keep the franchise afloat in Captain Jack Sparrow’s fourth seafaring adventure. This time his wandering eye settles on the womanly shape of Penélope Cruz, playing the daughter of Blackbeard. Ian McShane is a welcome addition as the legendary pirate, bringing grizzled charm even while committing acts of great evil, though an underused Geoffrey Rush is reduced to blundering about as Barbossa. As usual, the quest – this time to find the Fountain of Youth – is long-winded, but thankfully Depp retains the ability to rise above the nonsense with his customary sly humour. Stella Papamichael

Formats: DVD, Double Play (Blu-ray and DVD) and 3D Super Play (3D and 2D Blu-rays, plus digital download)
Extras: The DVD includes a gag reel and Lego short films, while the Blu-ray also includes an audio commentary from director Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca

Insidious (Cert: 15)
3 stars
In a nutshell: Haunted-house chiller from the makers of Paranormal Activity and Saw

Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) are a normal married couple with three kids who, having moved house, find their new pad plagued by mysterious scratches, bangs and shifting furniture. For the first hour or so, the movie is basically a less restrained retread of Oren Peli’s micro-budget haunted-house tale Paranormal Activity (he also serves as producer here), and when this palls, director James Wan (co-creator of the Saw franchise) simply steals the last act of Poltergeist. Derivative as it is, Insidious is competent enough, there are a few genuine scares and the final shock twist is an effective cinematic sucker punch. Adam Smith

Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Extras: Three featurettes, which examine the production process and filming, with contributions from director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell

Julia’s Eyes (Cert: 15)
3 stars
In a nutshell: Guillermo del Toro presents a suspense-filled Spanish horror

In this thriller from director Guillem Morales and producer Guillermo del Toro, Belen Rueda plays a woman with an eye disease who fears for her life after her sister (who suffered from the same illness) is found hanged. Convinced it was murder rather than suicide, she strives to uncover the truth before she loses her own sight. Morales delivers a series of scares that owe more than a debt to Hitchcock, placing the camera in the centre of the action so that we, too, experience the limitations and uncertainties of the woman’s world. However, although the plot is littered with red herrings, too many clues are given away before the explosive finale. Terry Staunton

Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Extras: Interviews with the cast and crew and some behind-the-scenes footage

Other highlights:

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Shaolin – action-packed martial arts offering with Andy Lau and Jackie Chan
Star Wars: the Complete Saga – the blockbusting franchise makes its Blu-ray debut
Incendies – Oscar-nominated drama in which siblings investigate their mother’s past