DVD Zone

The latest DVDs with Kelly Flynn

Joe the Plumber eat your heart out

In Swing Vote, Kevin Costner plays Bud Johnson, an average Joe who — through a freak chain of events — finds himself holding the final deciding vote in a presidential election.

The consequent media scrum puts the amiable Bud in the glare of the nation.

Putting aside the outlandish premise, it’s a fun story with a half-hearted underlying moral that every man’s vote is important. Madeline Carroll is superb as Costner’s 12-year-old daughter.

New Town Killers is a dark, edgy thriller set in Edinburgh featuring Dougray Scott and Alistair Mackenzie as two investment bankers who get dubious kicks from playing protracted games of hide and seek with people living on the margins of society. Their next target is an impoverished teenager who is drawn into a game for cash. But he soon realises he’s walked into 12 hours of hell, in which survival is the name of the game. Certainly a contender for left-field premise of the year. More prosaic thrills are on offer in The Art of War 3 – Retribution – the latest in the Art of War series, Agent Shaw must use his martial arts skills to try to stop a group of North Korean terrorists from getting their hands on a nuclear bomb and save a facilitator who is caught up in events. One for the committed fans.

The making of Outlander

Norway, 709 AD. Light streaks across the night sky. It is a spacecraft, crash landing into a majestic Norwegian fjord. From the wreckage emerges a man from another world, Kainan (Jim Caviezel ), a humanoid warrior, and a deadly stowaway, the Moorwen, a savage creature hell-bent on avenging the acts of Kainan's army. Marooned on this ancient alien planet, Kainan sets out to track down and defeat his nemesis, fusing his own advanced technology with the Iron Age weaponry favoured by the Vikings. Welcome to the world of Outlander, an epic action fantasy unlike anything you've seen before.

Captivated from childhood by the Beowulf saga, film student Howard McCain spent many a year pondering how to make a historically accurate film of the epic poem.

The trouble being, the monstrous troll Grendel was a creature of pure fantasy. Striking up a friendship with fellow screenwriter and Beowulf obsessive Dirk Blackman, McCain slowly came around to the notion of blending reality with the fantastic, and once he'd fully embraced the notion, it made a strange sort of sense that a Viking-eviscerating monster might have extra-terrestrial origins.

"Maybe an alien creature landed on earth in Viking times," McCain thought. "Our feeling was that if the Beowulf legend had any truth behind it, this was the source of that myth and this is how it really might have happened."

"Everyone knows there were no monsters in the Viking era," adds Blackman, "but if a manlike alien from outer space dumped an alien creature onto earth and then had to join forces with the Vikings to fight the creature, there you have the origins of Beowulf. In other words, we set out to write The True History of Beowulf."

"We thought it was unbelievably good," says executive producer John Schimmel of Dirk and Howard's screenplay. "It's an absolutely unique blend of genres, and an innovative combination of action and deep emotions. It speaks to the cycles of violence and the price of vengeance. It's a beautiful redemption story about a man who is emotionally dead when he crashes to earth, yet finds salvation in the most unlikely place, and it's all packaged in a big sci fi action movie."

"Outlander had it all," adds producer Chris Roberts of the 'sci-mythic' tale. "It's a perfect idea, mixing the two: aliens in Viking times. It takes things we've seen before and puts them in a new setting. It is escapism and that's what science fiction and fantasy movies offer. And it's not as hard a sell as you might imagine."

"What makes this so intriguing," notes executive producer Don Carmody, "is that while Outlander is somewhat anchored in the Beowulf legend, the Grendel character is from outer space and is as terrifying as Predator and Alien combined. This is promising because it brings the story, which is the oldest in the English language, to the forefront and makes it exciting for audiences today.

Finding the right cast was of paramount importance to Roberts. "Genre films have not always cast great actors," he notes, "but there are notable exceptions, such as Alien, with John Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. We cast Outlander in the spirit of that film. “We really did attract a great cast," affirmed McCain, who also directed the movie, "all of whom are in it for the right reasons. From Jim Caviezel and John Hurt to Sophia Myles, Jack Huston and Ron Perlman, they all liked the script, not because it was a monster movie, not because it was a genre movie, but because of the underlying story."

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