Videolfile (Starburst Reviews) Video reviews by David Bassom
DVD reviews by David Richardson
From Starburst's monthly Reviews section
selected from Starburst #261

Selected this month:
The Iron Giant, new Xena and Hercules on VHS; plus Stargate SG-1 on DVD

Read Alan Jones' movie reviews for
Mission to Mars • Galaxy Quest • Scream 3 and American Psycho when you buy Starburst #261

In every issue - a major Reviews section of the latest sci-fi and fantasy media, including:
a TV View, from the US or UK: our popular Bookshelf section on the latest Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels and writers, plus new Soundtracks releases, games and websites in Cybertech, home entertainment in Videofile and DVD File, and John Brosnan's It's Only A Movie

A score of other videos and DVDs to rent or buy are reviewed in the issue!

Go to Bookshelf review section here

The Iron Giant

17th April, rental and retail VHS (also available on DVD) • Cert U • Warner

Order The Iron Giant on VHS today!

Order it from Black Star today! VHS or DVD

Steel works

Voices:
Jennifer Aniston
Harry Connick Jr, Vin Diesel

Buried treasure doesn’t shine any brighter than The Iron Giant. Shamefully overlooked during its theatrical release, Warner’s dazzling animated adventure not only boasts superior writing and direction than most live action movies, but is simply the most enchanting family Fantasy flick since Spielberg’s E.T.

In an inspired move, the big screen Iron Giant relocates Ted Hughes’s classic children’s tale to 1950s America, and gives it a firm Science Fiction basis. On an ordinary night, nine-year-old Hogarth Hughes (Marienthal) is stunned to discover a 50-foot, metal-chomping robot in the nearby woods. After saving the Iron Giant (Diesel) from an electrical overload, Hogarth develops a firm friendship with the formidable-looking but kind-hearted alien.

But others are far less willing to embrace the Iron Giant, and the discovery of his spacecraft leads the FBI to suspect that its pilot is part of an alien invasion force. As by-the-book agent Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald) tracks down his prey, the scene is set for a deadly confrontation.

Every element of The Iron Giant screams ‘modern-day classic’. Director Brad Bird’s deliberately retro visual imagery provided an enchanting recreation of 1950s America, while Tim McCannlie’s script cleverly uses Cold War paranoia to give proceedings an allegorical edge. Further kudos goes to McCannlie for his vibrant dialogue, which is beautifully brought to life by a distinctive cast.

Yet despite the film’s fancy trimmings, neither Bird nor McCannlie ever forget that The Iron Giant is, above all, the uplifting story of a remarkable friendship. Both Hogarth and his metal chum are irresistible characters, and there are many valuable lessons to be learnt from their wonderful relationship.

From its evocative start to tear-jerking finale, The Iron Giant stands head and shoulders above most films of its ilk. And by going straight to retail video, it’s absolute steel. Bolt down to your local video store for a copy today.

Starburst rating: 9+

Xena: Warrior Princess • Vol 4 • Episodes 1.8 / 1.9 / 1.10
17th April • Cert PG tbc • Universal

 

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Quest for firepower

Starring:
Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Kevin Sorbo

While Xena can be seen battling Hercules in this month’s Legendary Journeys, the Warrior Princess enlists his help in the fourth triple-bill from Xena’s first season. On learning that Prometheus has been imprisoned by the gods, Xena and Hercules join forces to find the one sword that can restore mankind’s use of fire in Prometheus, a gloriously OTT crossover beat-‘em-up.

Death in Chains then sees Xena rushing to the aid of Hades’s sister, Celesta, in a surprisingly thoughtful drama. Hooves and Harlots rounds off proceedings on a satisfying note, as Xena attempts to prevent yet another war, this time between the Amazons and the Centaurs.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys •
Vol 4 • Episodes 1.8 / 1.9 / 1.10
17th April • Cert PG tbc • Universal

 

Order it from Black Star today!

Warrior… Princess… Villain

Starring:
Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Lucy Lawless

Hercules takes a stand against slavery and tackles a very special villain in this month’s triple-bill of first season Legendary Journeys. After buying the freedom of a local slave, Oi-Lan, Hercules and Iolaus help Oi-Lan find her long-lost fiancé in March to Freedom.

The Warrior Princess then sees Ioalus becoming part of an evil plot hatched by none other than Xena. Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst relish the chance to explore the underlying rivalry between their characters in this unmissable tale, while Lucy Lawless’s exhilarating performance clearly screams ‘spin-off series’ (funny that…).

Gladiator brings events full circle, as Hercules and Iolaus attempt to free a group of slave gladiators which includes Gladius (Tony Todd). Despite its pedestrian plotting, Gladiator leaves the ring as a remarkably moving episode.

Stargate SG-1 – Best of Series I
DVD Doublepack
20th March • Cert 18 • 220 mins, 1.85: 1

Order Stargate SG-1 on DVD today!
Order it from Black Star today!

"The feature quality is faultless"

Starring:
Richard Dean Anderson, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks

The Episodes

The 90-minute pilot Children of the Gods slavishly picks up threads from the movie, but with different actors in the lead roles (and O’Neil opting for a change of spelling in his surname) one wonders if the continuity is self-defeating. All the same, this is smart, witty and spectacular Sci-Fi, in which the cast find their feet instantly, and the FX crew create some stunning visuals.

Sadly, rather than working their way through the first season, MGM choose to jump 17 episodes to There But For the Grace of God, a competent parallel universe story in which Jackson sees a Goa’uld attack on Earth. There’s a pleasing portentous tone, but money is obviously thin and we see little of the invading forces.

Politics continues the story arc, with SGC threatened with closure, thus providing a poor excuse for a clips show. Packed with the best sequences of Season One, it only makes one appreciate what you’ve missed in between. Finally, Within the Serpent’s Grasp finds the SG-1 team going it alone and arriving on the Goa’uld transport ship as it approaches Earth. An exhilarating end of season cliff-hanger, it boasts massive sets, some gob-smacking moments and a fine crisis of conscience.

Starburst rating: 8

The Extras

A Stargate-themed menu offers a choice of languages (English and German), and a generous chapter selection (24 for the pilot, eight for each subsequent episode). The massive duration (the equivalent of two movies!) fits neatly over two discs, and the magnificent widescreen pictures and Dolby 5.1 audio present SG-1 as you’ve never seen it before. Some behind the scenes material might have been nice, but, nevertheless, the feature quality is faultless.

Starburst rating: 2

Reviews © Visual Imagination 2000. Not for reproduction