The Blu-rays of Poundland

Poundland has been selling Blu-rays! And we've been buying and watching them! Tornado Warning, anyone?

I’ve covered the DVD section of Poundland before. I love it, even if I do only ever get around to watching about half of the discs I buy.

Unfortunately, hunting for DVDs in Poundland has become a bit of a dead sport. It’s partly because streaming services like Netflix have given us even easier access to weird films that might turn out to be rubbish. It’s also because Poundland have taken to stocking used DVDs, meaning they have a lot of big Hollywood films that are the same thing you could buy anywhere. That’s not what I go to Poundland for. I’m shopping for strangeness! Not only that, this Den of Geek writer has some very mild issues with germs and can’t really cope with touching second-hand DVDs.

Thankfully, the game has been reinvigorated. Over the last few months I’ve started to see Blu-ray discs in Poundland. A Blu-ray for a pound? That’s too good a deal to pass up. Needing an excuse to buy from Poundland again, I decided to make an article of it.

I picked up a range of Blu-rays. There isn’t a great selection available so I ended up with a bit of a mish-mash, although that’s sort of the point.

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Here’s how I got on with the Blu-rays of Poundland.

Dead Drop

Cover suggests: DTV action movie starring a bald man and an exploding plane.

Goss Bros per Dead Drop: One.

Perfect Poundland accompaniment: Puzzlebook.

Dead Drop opens with bad guys shooting Luke Goss and chucking him out of a plane. If you’re planning to kill Luke Goss, you’ll have to do better than that (apparently), as he survives and sets out on a quest for revenge. Of course, revenge against the bad guys isn’t the only thing he has to worry about. He had only been on a plane with those villainous dirtbags because he was working undercover for the CIA. The CIA are after him too now, unsure of what he’s up to, so he has to dodge their surprisingly inaccurate snipers if he’s going to survive. He also has a girlfriend to protect and a mystery about some missing money to solve.

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This one doesn’t start too badly. It opens with someone being punched in the face, which I found incredibly endearing. The first 20 minutes are quite pleasant. Cool and calm, Dead Drop is allowed to take its time and let Goss carry the film, which he does well. It’s unspectacular but entertaining enough. The best part of the film by a mile sees Goss shoot a guy in the leg and then pour salt on the wound. Guys, he a-salts him!

Unfortunately, not long in the film gets stuck in a loop. It feels like endless scenes of Goss finding people, beating information out of them and then heading off to find the next person. It’s the same thing again and again.

Unfortunately, not long in the film gets stuck in a loop. It feels like endless scenes of Goss finding people, beating information out of them and then heading off to find the next person. It’s the same thing again and again.

Unfortunately, not long in the film gets stuck in a loop. It feels like endless scenes of Goss finding people, beating information out of them and then heading off to find the next person. It’s the same thing again and again.

Even when it unloops itself it doesn’t really feel any different. It’s just really, really boring. It doesn’t fail through any great incompetence, but rather from being utterly dull, which makes it a bit of a shit to write about.

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Dead Drop, then, with its shaky actions scenes, dodgy memory and untrustworthy CIA could just as easily be called The Bourne Apathy, or perhaps The Blah Indentity. This one’s a dud.

Tornado Warning

Cover suggests: That I have bad judgement.

Sciences per pound: Many, many sciences.

Perfect Poundland accompaniment: Do you think the Toblerone is in date? They wouldn’t sell it if it wasn’t, would they? It just seems cheap for a Toblerone is all.

Tornado Warning is a 2012 movie that was made for TV. It’s about a small farm town just outside of Chicago that gets hit with a tornado. A weird one. Before long these bizarre glowing tornados are pulling the town to pieces and shady government operatives start popping up. It’s up to a bankrupt farmer, his aspiring scientist daughter, a professional weather blogger and a local cop to find out what’s going on and stop it before it can cause serious damage to Chicago.

The film starts out with a young girl getting her exam results and excitedly running into a stable to tell her father, who is sweet talking a pregnant horse. The first character interaction sees the two fall out, which you might think is good because conflict brings film to life, but no. It’s just our introduction to the theme of every character being a relentless, whinging puddle of nevermind.

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Elsewhere we have Ned, the little cop who couldn’t, and a weather blogger who I don’t believe is actually paying her bills by blogging about the weather. Bullshit, is she. The characters are a bit like The Raggy Dolls reimagined by a dickhead.

“You’re trying to hide something. What is it, some new kind of twister caused by, what, runaway global warming?” Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the worst line of dialogue in cinema history. It’s delivered like the actress learned about sarcastic putdowns from watching Dawson’s Creek while taking bathsalts. Don’t judge, we’ve all done, if not that specifically, at least similar. Maybe. There are a lot of wonky lines in Tornado Warning, but that’s probably for the best. It’d be really frustrating to hear the cast fumble every single line if any of it was good.

It also features one of the weirdest car chases I’ve ever seen. It’s one driver aggressively pursuing another and screaming at him to warn him about driving into a tornado. So, he’s chasing him into the tornado to try to warn him about it. Then they try to run each other off the road. Even the tornado thought they were idiots.

So, anyway, it turns out the tornados are controlled by aliens. I was kind of disappointed the pregnant horse didn’t turn out to be an alien. I’d have made that the plot and called the film Neighliens. Anyway, in order to stop the alien tornados, they have to sit in a dark room and play with a laptop. The end involves the power going out, which switches off the battery operated laptop that no one has plugged in. The highlight of the big showdown, which is not actually big or a showdown, is three of the actors struggling to get a laptop out of its carry case. I know this all sounds horribly mean, but you watch Tornado Warning and let me know how nice you feel after.

The thing is, if you’re on Den of Geek, I bet there’s at least one really silly film that you utterly love. I love loads of them. I found this one to be dead boring, though, which is unforgivable. It’s well Syfy and just isn’t worth the minutes or the pound.

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Dead Man Running

Cover suggests: Slick gangster movie starring 50 Cent.

50 Cents per pound: At the current exchange rate, about three.

Perfect Poundland accompaniment: Two Pot Noodles.

Look, I’m only a writer. I can’t be expected to synopsise a Danny Dyer film better than Danny Dyer’s character in the film can. Over to you, Britain’s Danniest Dyer.

“Ow the fackin ell are we ganna raise undred grand in twenny four aaars?”

Quite.

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Nick and Bing have gone straight and are trying to make a living selling holidays. Unfortunately Nick owes some money (undred grand) and the gangsters that lent it to him are keen to see the money returned as soon as possible. Taking Nick’s mother hostage, they give him a short window of time (twenny four aaars) to raise the money. It’s an almost impossible task; in fact, he’s meant to fail, which will allow the gangsters to make an example out of him.

Has anyone been looking for the London gangster movie clichés? Good news; I’ve found every single one of them.

Dead Man Running has the feel of a film that was made for at least a modest budget. You’ll find well known songs, lots of name actors (Danny Dyer, Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, Ashley Walters, Tamer Hassan and Brenda Belthyn all feature) and money for extras and smashable vehicles. We’re not talking a blockbuster bankroll, but it seems fair to guess that there was a workable amount of money available. Perhaps that’s why it’s actually quite disappointing that it’s got such a clunking script and that a lot of the film looks rushed. Money doesn’t always mean time, and it would appear that the team behind Dead Man Running had more of one than the other. It should probably be noted that this is an article about films I bought in Poundland that I’ve written without a deadline.

Like so many modern British gangster films, this one suffers from a barely concealed adoration of Guy Richie’s 90’s crime thrillers. It’s basically just a Poundland tribute to Snatch. No rudely misinterpreting that line, please; this is the internet and that sort of thing wouldn’t be appropriate. Dead Man Running’s central pairing is built to evoke Jason Statham and Stephen Graham’s Turkish and Tommy from Snatch, but both the characters and actors fall short. Much of the film repeats that pattern, offering up similarities that fall miles short.

Perhaps the most obvious misfire is the dialogue. Every line plays like a desperate grab for Richie’s character’s memorable rapport. The thing is, it’s clearly very difficult to write and very difficult to perform. That’s what made Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch so special. The failed attempt to recreate that here attaches a weight to Dead Man Running’s ankle. It drags. As I thought the film was building up to it’s big final showdown it was actually only 30 minutes in.

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Still, Dead Man Running isn’t without it’s moments. There’s a scene in particular that mixes football commentary with a drug deal that works really well. It’s inventive and well realised.

The film is mostly memorable for rapper 50 Cent’s few scenes, as he has a little bit of a presence about him. I like the bit where 50 is looking through a book of accounts. I wondered whether he was checking everything was in order or just looking for his own name. “There I am! Hell yeah player, G-Unit! Wait, pence? What the fuck is a pence?”

Dead Man Running, then, is another dud. It’s derivative, boring and lazy.

Step-Up 4: Miami Heat

Cover suggests: That ‘one step can change your world’.

Slammin’ beats per pound: A headache full.

Perfect Poundland accompaniment: Mug with a picture of a kitten on. Hang in there!

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Step Up 4: Miami Heat provided the biggest surprise of all the films I bought. Despite no indication on the cover, the disc included both the 2D and 3D versions of the film. I popped my special glasses on and sat back, ready to enjoy an entire pound of 3D entertainment.

The fourth entry in the Step Up cinematic universe is about a street dance troupe who try to change the world by putting videos of dance routines on YouTube. There’s also a storyline about a hotel owner’s daughter wanting to romance a plucky young waiter which is exactly the same as the beach holiday episodes of Saved By The Bell.

The film is set in an alternative reality where, apparently, dancing is incredibly dangerous. It’s difficult to work out (I assume it’s explained in parts 1-3, which I haven’t seen) but based on the way they keep talking about getting caught and arrested, when all they’re doing is highly choreographed flashmobs, there must be something else going on. I think John Lithgow’s character from Footloose must be the president, and that there are anti-dance death squads with a zero-tolerance policy towards pop n’ lockin’. I would have liked to see these anti-boogie executioners and rave-squashing skull crushers. Maybe they’ll be the focus of part 5.

Either that, or it’s another example of the desperate attempts to create tension and conflict in a film where neither feel natural. Hilariously, the dance troupe are called ‘The Mob’, and they’re repeatedly talked about on the news. On more than one occasion we’re shown reports asking whether the police will crack down on the mob, and what they’re talking about is just muscly dudes in vests doing forward rolls in nice restaurants. In one scene, a character is given a solemn talking-to by his sister. “Do you have any idea what will happen if you get caught?” she asks. Probably a small fine?

They’re in far more danger from the psychos of Miami. When ‘The Mob’ of Step-Up 4 block traffic for an early dance sequence, you can imagine them being made subject to crashing waves of violence. When I think of dangerous Miami on film, I think of Scarface, Michael Mann, Michael Bay and the TV show Dexter. The trouble makers of Step Up 4 are wriggly over wrought sweethearts.

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I think a big part of my problem with this film is me. I’m in my 30s and am grumpy. If I like your modern dance film you’ve probably done a bad job of entertaining teenagers, who a film like this is really for. I found that I’m not built to watch a full film like this. I started out laughing and making notes, feeling like I was getting a rough idea of what Step Up is (it’s structured like an action film, but instead of explosions and car chases it’s into music videos) but by the end I was becoming aggressive and belligerent.

I didn’t like the story, didn’t understand the subject and was furious with the characters, so this isn’t a recommendation, sadly. Still, a 3D Blu-ray for a pound? That’s crazy.

Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder

They had the two disc Die Hard special edition and the older release of Die Hard 2. That is a lot of incredible for two pounds.

Die Hard is a well loved film at Den of Geek. There’s never been a Den of Geek writer’s room meeting that didn’t end up with the building on fire and someone stumbling into the room, badly bloodied with a pistol taped to their back, ready to throw editor Simon Brew out of a window. Er, there’s also never been a Den of Geek writer’s room meeting, probably because we haven’t got a writer’s room. But if we did and we did, I’m pretty confident in my forecast for the how the meeting would end.

Yippee ki-yay, Poundland shoppers!