Monday, March 7, 2011

DVD Reviews: Circle Of Pain & Stonehenge Apocalypse

You're in luck, dear BRWC readers! Today you get two (yes two) reviews of some straight-to-DVD goodness. Or, more accurately, badness...

First up is the Ultimate Fighting Championship-em' up Circle of Pain, starring Dean Cain (of TV's New Adventures of Superman fame) and Kimbo Slice (of beating the shit out of people in car-parks fame).
CoP (as it shall now be known) follows Dalton (Tony Schiena) an ex-MMA fighter who's generically down on his luck. He gave up fighting years ago when he accidentally kicked best buddy Wyatt (Cain) in the spine, confining him to a wheelchair and ending his career.

Naturally, Dalton still has one last fight in his contract, and when unlikely and inappropriately dressed promoter Victoria (a terrifyingly skinny Ling Bai) threatens his family, he begins an extended re-training montage to get back in the ring with current champion and all-round prick Colin 'the brick' Wahle (real life MMA fighter Heath Herring).

You'd be forgiven for thinking that CoP is following the same pattern as damn near every fighter/boxer/wrestler movie Hollywood has churned out over the years. I however would prefer to believe that writer and director Daniel Zirilli just doesn't happen to have much knowledge of genre cinema. Dalton goes through the usual bullshit to prepare for his fight; running through fields, flipping tractor wheels, kicking trees. As he moves from being an unfit underdog to a potential champion, he learns all sort of life-lessons along the way from Willy (Louis Herthum), the least convincing MMA coach to have graced the silver screen. Not that this will ever reach that screen - it'll have a hard enough time getting on smaller ones.

You'd think that a film all about fighting would at least be worth watching for the fights. Unfortunately, they're pretty poorly handled, with far too much slo-mo revealing a distinct lack of contact when punches are thrown. Lets just say the combat isn't going to give They Live's iconic fight scene a run for its money.

With laboured fight choreography, poor scripting and some epically wooden performances, it's easy to see why real life MMA stars choose to knock each other about in a cage rather than emote for a living. Circle of Pain is, for the most part, just painful.

Now we go on to a stone-circle of pain: Stonehenge Apocalypse, which earns the dubious honour of being slightly better than most Sy-Fy channel offerings yet much, much worse than Roland Emmerich's 2012.

When an electro-magnetic pulse fries several tourists looking around the titular 'henge, scientists and the military descend on rural Wiltshire - looking suspiciously like a field near Vancouver - to work out just what the bloody hell is going on. It's not long before ancient monuments around the globe start erupting in unconvincing explosions (leading to newspaper headlines like 'DEATH TOLL TOO HIGH TO COUNT') and the countdown to the end of the world begins. But can all these unexplained anomalies be linked?

Yes, as it turns out. But not before 80 minutes of people with British accents of varying authenticity standing around staring at computer screens and earnestly talking in scientific jargon. Hero of the piece Dr. Jacob Glaser (Supernatural star Misha Collins) works out that Stonehenge needs to be 'turned off' by an ancient artefact kept in a museum in New York, and has to retrieve it before the Americans nuke South East England in an attempt to avert the end of the world. Cos' that's they're answer to everything.

The moment when American General Forshaw (Michael Kopsa) orders a Sergeant and his men to "evacuate everyone within 100 miles of Stonehenge"sort of cements the lack of thinking behind the film. After all, it's hard to imagine how a handful of soldiers would evacuate everywhere between London and Cardiff in under 8 hours.

Despite some of the cast putting in some relatively decent work, Stonehenge Apocalypse suffers from a combination of a daft premise, dull scenes of psuedo-science babble and a styrofoam Stonehenge only slightly more convincing than the one owned by Spinal Tap.

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