Geoff Cox’s guide to new DVD releases (08.09.11)

ILLEGALLY blonde and handy with a gun, she could also break your neck with the flick of her wrist.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 7th September 2011, 6:08 am

Saoirse Ronan is 16-year-old HANNA (12: Universal), who has never left her Lapland home and has been tutored as an assassin by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana). When the Agency comes looking for the pair, she finds herself navigating unfamiliar territory.

They’re pursued by ruthless agent Marissa – a superbly icy Cate Blanchett – who’s determined to terminate them.

The Bourne Identity meets Little Red Riding Hood is one way to describe this thrillingly original film from Atonement director Joe Wright. But even that doesn’t really capture its unique, oddly surreal tone.

Ronan’s fascinating character sees the modern world through innocent eyes, yet she’s as hard as nails.

Wright succeeds in blending the strange, almost fairy-tale atmosphere with some expertly conceived action and well-sketched supporting characters.

Tom Hollander’s appearance as a shell suit-wearing, peroxide-coiffured thug is a real treat.

> It was inevitable that the success of micro-budget haunted-house yarns like Paranormal Activity would lead to Hollywood impersonators.

So full marks to Oren Peli, writer/director of INGENIOUS (15: Momentum), for getting in first.

Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne), a married couple with three kids, move house and discover that their new place is plagued by mysterious scratches, bangs and shifting furniture.

Things get even worse when their eight-year-old son falls into a mysterious coma.

For the first hour, Insidious runs through just about every modern haunted-house cliche in the book. Then it simply steals the last act of Poltergeist, complete with spooky dry-ice effects.

Having said that, it’s competent horror fodder with a few genuine scares and a final shock twist that provides a sucker punch.

> With their muscles bulging and their big sentimental hearts throbbing in unison, Vin Diesel and his car-jacking Robin Hoods are together again in FAST AND THE FURIOUS 5 (12: Universal).

Cast members from every chapter of the adrenaline-pumping franchise return to plan one last mega-heist so they can disappear forever.

The target is Rio De Janeiro’s most corrupt businessman, who is exploiting slum dwellers, although they must also evade a tenacious FBI agent (Dwayne Johnson) who is closing in on their operation.

The insane plot involves train stunts, rooftop chases and pedal-to-the-metal speed racing.

This is slick, white-knuckle action on an epic scale and the highlight is when a gigantic bank safe strung between two cars becomes a lethal weapon during a motorway pursuit.

At the end, in a rare moment of responsibility, the makers point out that these things are not to be tried at home by non-professionals. You reckon?

> Seasonal children’s tale HOP (U: Universal) finds young rabbit EB (above voiced by Russell Brand) reluctant to succeed his father (Hugh Laurie) as the Easter bunny.

So he runs away from the family home – on Easter Island! – and heads for Hollywood with dreams of becoming a rock drummer.

There he bounds into the life of a slacker human (James Marsden), himself at a crossroads, and causes mayhem at every turn.

Meanwhile, a mutinous chick plots to take over the family business.

Brand’s manic characterisation helps paper over the cracks of a flimsy story and director Tim Hill mines the same seam of cuteness as in his earlier Alvin And The Chipmunks.

While it’s all good fun for the very young, the film is light on pop culture references to keep grown-ups interested – apart from a questionable running gag about Hugh Hefner and an altogether different kind of bunny.

> A student at a Los Angeles university discovers the sinister truth behind the overprotective behaviour of a new arrival in lame psychological thriller THE ROOMMATE (15: Sony).

Sara (Minka Kelly) is from Iowa, which perhaps explains why she’s a bit slow on the uptake.

But it’s obvious from scene one that wide-eyed, uptight Rebecca (Leighton Meester) is not someone you’d want to be sharing a dorm with.