A LIVE-ACTION take on Dora The Explorer is an unexpected joy, with more spirit, adventure and laughs than a dozen leaden-footed CGI epics.
Talking of which… the Ultimate Cut of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen gets a 10th anniversary re-release, while PJ Harvey’s well-meaning art-doc A Dog Called Money demonstrates the singer’s versatility but little else.
DVD Of The Week: Dora And The Lost City Of Gold
(PG) 102mins, out now
JOYOUS live-action take on Nickelodeon cartoon Dora The Explorer, though definitely not the pitch-black gritty reboot the franchise was crying out for.
Brit James Bobin directs with brio from a whip-smart script packed with sly gags for older viewer but Isabela Moner is the real star here. Her wide-eyed charisma in the title role (as Dora, not the Lost City) illuminates every scene.
The action fair romps along and the settings — Inca temples; the jungles of Peru — are spectacular when they need to be, without sacrificing the film’s healthy sense of the ridiculous. Able support comes from the ever-watchable Michael Pena, Eva Longoria and especially Madeleine Madden as Dora’s mean-girl quasi-nemesis.
An exuberant, light-footed contrast to the plodding franchise extensions so often churned out for two or three times the budget.
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut
(18) 215mins, out now
NOT many people watched Zack Snyder’s profoundly flawed interpretation of Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel and thought: “You know what? This should be much, much longer.”
Snyder did. His Director’s Cut is more than three hours long and this Ultimate Cut, incorporating the grisly Black Freighter animated short — a hilariously grim comic-book-within-a-comic book, narrated by Gerard Butler — pushes on towards a punishing fourth.
In that time you could make a fair dent in Sky Atlantic’s Watchmen series, which might be a better use of your time.
The additions don’t add much except length and certainly don’t offset Snyder’s tone-deaf direction. But there are still things to enjoy — nice turns from Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley; snatches of Moore’s original dialogue; a couple of beautiful sequences which feel like they were directed by somebody else. And those opening credits are lovely.
A Dog Called Money
(15) 92mins, out now
PJ HARVEY is an extravagantly talented, versatile performer but this odd hotchpotch of performance art and crusading documentary is a stretch even for her.
The Bristol singer globe-trots from Kosovo to Washington DC, looking on aghast at horrors as varied as poverty, famine, drugs, civil war and Donald Trump.
She means well and there are moments of poetry in her musings, while the intercut scenes of rehearsals for an installation at Somerset House will be compelling for her admirers.
But the lack of focus undermines the project. As Harvey self-consciously notes the irony of standing on a pile of rubble in “expensive leather sandals”, you do rather wonder what she hoped to achieve.
The Amazing Mr Blunden
(U) 94mins, out now on Blu-ray
QUANTUM Leap meets The Railway Children in this spooky tale from 1972, based on Antonia Barber’s book The Ghosts and given a limited-edition re-release on Blu-ray.
Lynne Frederick and Garry Miller are the poshest urchins ever, coaxed by Laurence Naismith’s enigmatic Mr Blunden to put right a century-old wrong.
Some of the turns are a bit ripe (notably Diana Dors) and its unreconstructed take on below-stairs folk — generally depicted here as idiots, murderers or lunatics — is a bit jarring. But there is able support from telly stalwarts such as Graham Crowden and James Villiers and the darker twists are nicely executed, if not wildly surprising.
Christmas demands a good ghost yarn and you could do a lot worse than this on a chilly December night.
‘He was hugely grumpy’
This is the classic scene in Love Actually that Hugh Grant absolutely hated shooting
QT8: The First Eight
(15) 96mins, out Monday
ADULATORY hymn to Quentin Tarantino that never threatens to say anything new or get under the skin of the motormouth auteur.
This covers his first eight movies — meaning everything up but not including Once Upon A Time In Hollywood — and the roll call of talking heads is impressive, up to a point. Then again, the absence of John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman is all the more glaring.
Such gifted performers such as Christoph Waltz, Tim Roth and the late Robert Forster talk at length without saying anything of interest, before Michael Madsen delivers a melancholy and wildly incongruous postscript about the Harvey Weinstein allegations.
For diehard Tarantino fanboys only — and they would be better off rewatching any of his movies. Even the ones in desperate need of an edit.