RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Fast Five and Scream 4

Plus, Disneynature's latest documentary tale and a quirky teen comedy that works.

by | October 4, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got quite a selection, mostly of hi-def reissues of existing movies, so we’ve chosen to focus on the big ones that are out for the first time. For those of you who are curious about what we’re leaving out, they include new Blu-rays of Cinema Paradiso, Life is Beautiful, Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, Tim Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. On top of those, Criterion is also releasing new Blu-rays of Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s controversial film Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. As far as what we’ll be covering in this week’s article, we’ve got the latest in both the Fast and the Furious and Scream franchises, Disneynature’s tribute to wild felines, a failed political documentary about Sarah Palin, and a surprise hit British teen comedy. To round things out, we’ve also got a couple of animated Disney classics on Blu-ray. See below for the full list!

Fast Five

77%

“Another sequel to The Fast and the Furious? Come on! Wait, what? Its actually pretty good?” Those were the sentiments expressed by many moviegoers early this summer when Fast Five hit theaters with a Certified Fresh stamp of approval. After helming Tokyo Drift in 2006 and Fast and Furious in 2009, Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow) was again brought on board for the latest installment in the action-packed but poorly reviewed franchise. So what made this one so much better? The difference seems to be that, this time around, they simply pulled out all the stops. Not only did the various stars of the previous installments all reunite for Fast Five, but they were joined by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the story focused less on street racing than it did on an Ocean’s 11-esque heist plot, with the most over-the-top action sequences the franchise has seen thus far. The film, which currently sports a 78% Tomatometer, even did so well that another sequel, with Justin Lin attached to direct again, is already in the works. It’s a wild, thrilling popcorn flick with tons of action, and you might just be surprised by how entertaining it is.

Scream 4

61%

In 1996, horror icon Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) released Scream, a film that simultaneously brought chills to audiences and poked fun at existing fright flick clichés, and he scored a big enough hit with it that two more sequels were made. After a decade-long hiatus from the franchise, however, Craven decided to revive it by bringing back its original characters (played by Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox) and introducing a new group of teens to terrorize. This time around, Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returns to Woodsboro on the 15th anniversary of the original Scream murders to promote the book she’s written about her experiences, only to find that teens are, yet again, falling victim to similar fates. With a fresh new cast that included Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Rory Culkin, and more, Scream 4 managed to entertain critics just enough to score a 58% Tomatometer. You won’t see anything particularly new (unless you count the addition of webcams and podcasts), but the classic meta humor and gory kills are what made the franchise, and Scream 4 delivers decently on both counts, even if the proceedings are utterly familiar.

African Cats

73%

Being a documentary filmmaker has got to be a tough job. You have to sift through hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of footage and find the inherent narrative in order to avoid simply presenting a series of unrelated images. Disneynature has done a respectable job co-opting the stunning footage from BBC nature programs like Planet Earth for their feature film releases, and African Cats is no exception. The film focuses on two animal families dwelling on the African savannah: Sita, a mother cheetah, struggles to raise her five newborn cubs, and Layla, a lioness, faces her own hardships raising her cub Mara while the leader of her pride, Fang, attempts to protect them from the threat of another rogue lion. Being that this is Disney, after all, the stories are made to be easily digestible by young audiences, and while this may turn off some older viewers, there was still enough substance and heart here to earn a 66% from the critics. If Planet Earth is too sweepingly grand for your young’uns, African Cats wouldn’t be a bad way to get them acquainted with nature.

Submarine

88%

Fans of British television will recognize Richard Ayoade’s name from shows like The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd, but the accomplished writer/comic actor also found great success behind the camera with his 2010 feature film directorial debut Submarine. Starring Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, and Paddy Considine, Submarine chronicles the exploits of a smart, misunderstood, and socially awkward 15-year-old named Oliver (Roberts) who attempts to repair his parents’ failing marriage and woo a no-nonsense classmate (Paige). Now, coming-of-age films about quirky teens have been done before with mixed results, but most critics enthusiastically endorsed Submarine, calling it funny, stylish, and ringing with adolescent truth. It does exhibit some symptoms of the typical idiosyncrasies found in such films, but by most accounts, Aoyade somehow pulls it off beautifully, balancing the offbeat humor with real emotion and drawing comparisons to Wes Anderson. It’s an impressive debut, to be sure, and at a Certified Fresh 87% Tomatometer, Submarine marks Richard Ayoade as an exciting new director to keep an eye out for.

The Undefeated

0%

Few contemporary politicians are as polarizing as Sarah Palin. She’s alternately been characterized as a staunch defender of common sense wisdom and good old fashioned American values, and as an intellectually incurious, hypocritical huckster. Well, with Joe McGinniss’s scathing The Rogue now on bookshelves, Mama Grizzly lovers may be in search of a more positive portrayal of the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate. The Undefeated is a documentary portrait of Palin’s rise from small town mayor to the national political scene, one that details her policy accomplishments and blasts her critics in a way that will feel either like a corrective to MSM bias or a feature-length presidential campaign ad, depending on your point of view. Yeah, we know it got a big fat zero on the Tomatometer, but before you start blaming some vast cabal of liberal movie pundits, remember that the reviews for Nick Broomfield’s gotcha doc Sarah Palin: You Betcha! didn’t exactly set the world on fire, either.

The Lion King – Diamond Edition Blu-Ray

93%

Fresh off the heels of its surprising two-week run atop the Box Office, Disney’s animated classic The Lion King arrives home on Blu-Ray for the first time with a variety of choice packages. Despite some grumblings that the 3D format actually worked against the film in its recent rerelease, this brand new Diamond Edition comes in either a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack or a four-disc version that also includes the film in 3D and a digital copy. Not enough for you? They’re also releasing a box set of The Lion King Trilogy, which includes not only everything the four-disc Diamond Edition offers, but also The Lion King 1 1/2 and The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride in both Blu-ray and DVD, as well as a nifty collector’s box, and a detailed replica of a drum inspired by art from the film. As far as special features are concerned, even the plain two-disc package comes with four never before seen deleted scenes, a deleted song, bloopers, Sing Along Mode, commentary, and more. It’s a great pickup for anyone who’s a fan of the film, or for any Disney collection completist. In addition, for those of you who held off on Beauty and the Beast last year, a similar five-disc Diamond Edition combo pack including the film on 3D also hits shelves this week.

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