Quirky comedy, art-house sci-fi and post-apocalyptic chills are on the agenda in this week’s DVD round-up.
In A World (Sony) tells the story of Carol Solomon (Lake Bell, Boston Legal), a struggling vocal coach who is forced to stand on her own two feet after getting kicked out by her father Sam Soto (Fred Melamed, A Serious Man), one of the movie voiceover scene’s leading lights. Unconvinced by his daughter’s potential as a Hollywood voiceover artist, Sam throws his weight behind arrogant protÃ©gÃ© Gustav Warner (Ken Marino, Eastbound & Down), and nudges him towards the lucrative Amazon Games franchise. However, when Gustav fails to show up at a recording session -blaming laryngitis -Carol records a temporary voice track, and quickly finds herself snapped up by impressed executives for a string of jobs. Incensed at Carol’s behaviour, Sam throws his hat back into the ring, and they go head-to-head for the sought-after Amazon Games job.
Written and directed by Lake Bell herself, In A World is a quirky, likeable comedy that shines a light on a profession rarely given screen-time in Hollywood. The fact that Fred Melamed is widely known for his voiceover work in the US adds authenticity to the proceedings, as do the many references to late voiceover kingpin Don La Fontaine, the man whose classic catchphrase the movie takes its title from. With sterling support from the likes of Nick Offerman (We’re The Millers), Demetri Martin (Taking Woodstock) and Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine), In A World is an enjoyably idiosyncratic little comedy that barely puts a foot wrong.
Directed by acclaimed visual artist Shezad Dawood, Piercing Brightness (Soda) examines what happens when two aliens of Chinese appearance arrive in Preston, Lancashire. Their mission is ostensibly to re-establish contact with their compatriots, the ‘Glorious 100’ sent to earth millennia ago in human form to study and observe the development of another race. However, after making contact with one of the 100, now a Pakistani shopkeeper (Bhasker Patel) they discover that many of their kind have become ‘corrupted’ and forgotten their original purpose.
Spaced-out soundtrack by Japanese psych-rockers Acid Mothers Temple? Check. Screenplay by cult novelist Kirk Lake? Check. Director Shezad Dawood has assembled an outwardly impressive art-house confection, albeit one that delivers far less than the sum of its parts. Inspired by Lancashire having the highest rate of UFO sightings in the UK, Piercing Brightness is sporadically interesting, but rarely gripping. The art-house sci-fi movie is a tricky one to pull off, and unfortunately this underwhelming, badly undercooked two-year project feels like a video installation that has spiralled dangerously out of control.
Set in 2045, The Colony (Entertainment One) depicts a world in which humans have built weather machines in an effort to control the devastating effects of global warming. However, after the machines unexpectedly break down the planet is plunged into another Ice Age and the lucky few that remain are forced to live in underground bunkers to escape the sub-zero conditions. Briggs (Laurence Fishburne, The Matrix) and Mason (Bill Paxton, Big Love) are the leaders of one such bunker, Colony 7, and after receiving a distress signal from a neighbouring facility, Briggs leads a mission into the frozen wasteland -only to discover a savage threat unlike anything the survivors have ever encountered before
Although the freezing conditions seem to give The Colony a fresh slant, initial appearances can be deceptive, and this Canadian-funded picture is nothing more than a wearyingly derivative riff on the well-worn post-apocalyptic survival movie template. Actors of the calibre of Fishburne and Paxton are given little of real substance to work with, and one of the few good points is the setting -actually an air force base in Ontario. The Colony isn’t a particularly bad movie, it just fails to bring anything new to the table, and the lazily sketched characters add little to the experience. All in all, a blandly forgettable genre re-tread.