Unfortunately, we’re looking at another weak week of home video releases, so we’re only able to bring you a small handful of notable releases. As usual, we’ve got the brand new films out, a couple of which were hardly earthshattering material. But then we’ve also got a couple of gritty British crime thrillers that might satisfy, and to round out the bunch, we’ve got a horror cult classic on Blu-Ray for the first time. So take a look at what we’ve filtered out of all the garbage and hope with us for a brighter future on home video!
Janet Jackson hasn’t made many forays into acting, but the highest Tomatometer-rated film she’s been a part of was Tyler Perry’s 2007 film Why Did I Get Married? With that in mind, it only makes sense that she’d sign on (along with most of the principal cast) for the sequel, 2010’s aptly named Why Did I Get Married Too? As for Perry, well, only one of his original films is Fresh, and even that one could turn Rotten with just one or two more negative reviews. All this is to say that Married Too‘s 36% Tomatometer is simply par for the course here, and as long as there are still crowds flocking to see his films, Tyler Perry will always have an audience. Critics felt that Married Too was bolstered by Jackson’s presence, but when all was said and done, the film offered little new to chew on and simply fell back into Perry’s usual melodramatic formula. But this is precisely what some people want to see, so if you’re one of those people, then you didn’t even need to read this far. Go get your copy now!
There have been worse ideas in the history of cinema than coming up with a movie based on a single-panel newspaper comic (like, say, attempting to adapt a storyless board game for the big screen), but if Marmaduke is any indication of the quality we can expect from such efforts, its probably safe to say we probably won’t be getting many more of these. Here, the troublemaking great dane has been given a voice (namely that of Owen Wilson) and a feline companion (George Lopez) to help liven up the proceedings, but otherwise, the film is a mish-mash of the sort of antics one can see in the funny papers. Which means lots of slapstick. Unfortunately, critics were less than charmed by the movie, calling it a dull and unfunny mix of yet more talking animals and scatological humor, and they showed their disapproval with a 10% Tomatometer score. The story revolves around… Well, let’s not even get into that here, since – let’s face it – if you’re renting Marmaduke for the story, then you’re missing the point entirely.
Every nation has their own breed of revenge film and the Brits, whose cinematic history has a soft spot for the Tea Totaling Matriarch, the bumbling bank robber and the angry young man, has a brand of anger apart. Though Michael Caine made a name first as a soldier in Africa (Zulu, 1964) and then as a killer-of-hearts (Alfie, 1966), it wasn’t until 1971 that he played the headlining star in Get Carter, the English revenge actioner that set the rules for the rest. While New British Cinema was setting the stage for merciless protagonists (can you say, Bond?), America was trying to justify the criminal intent of the baddies (Bonnie and Clyde were pinned by The Man!). Harry Brown gives us a compromise without compromising the thrill of the genre. Harry (Caine) lives in a tenement. He and his fellow ex-marine, Leonard (David Bradley), see the marauding neighbors selling drugs and killing for sport out their windows. Leonard tells Harry he’s afraid and then he disappears. Inspector Frampton (Emily Mortimer, bet you forgot she was English) breaks the news but seems helpless to dole out justice—which brings Harry, a retired Royal Marine, to his breaking point. Blu-Ray offers Deleted Scenes, Commentaries with Michael Caine, Director Daniel Barber and Producer Kris Thykier, and movieIQ+sync.
In an interesting overseas crossover, The Red Riding Trilogy originally aired on the UK’s Channel Four television station before coming to the States as three individual theatrical releases. The trilogy was based on a series of novels by David Peace titled “Red Riding Quartet,” which originally consisted of four novels each focusing on a specific year (1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983) during which several interconnected recurring characters deal with serial murder cases ripped from actual headlines. The three film installments leave out 1977, and each is helmed by a different director; 1974 by Julian Jarrold (Brideshead Revisited), 1980 by James Marsh (Man on Wire), and 1983 by Anand Tucker (Leap Year). The trilogy, which stars the likes of Sean Bean and Paddy Considine, is, as a whole, Certified Fresh at 85%, with critics citing both the strong central performances as well as the aptitude of the directors in making the setting an immersive and gritty place. Definitely worth a pickup for anyone who’s a fan of crime thrillers, and it’s available this week on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Sam Raimi’s directorial debut has been a model of effective low-budget filmmaking for years now, and it’s rightly earned its reputation as a cult classic. Starring the wild antics of the almost cartoonish Bruce Campbell, as well as some unsettling gore and a smidgen of stop-motion animation, Evil Dead paved the way for Raimi to take on bigger and bigger projects, like the first three Spider-Man films of the 2000s. This week, the story of a handful of college students who venture into the woods for a weekend getaway and end up awakening demons comes to Blu-Ray in a new Limited Edition, which comes with a separate disc full of special features. To be fair, there is only one brand new extra, and that’s a super-informative audio commentary that features Raimi, Campbell, and producer Robert Tapert together talking about stunt work, casting, and the marketing behind the film. But there’s still plenty of other goodies for those who have never seen fit to pick up a copy of Evil Dead before, including several featurettes and almost an hour’s worth of deleted and alternate scenes that were cut from the film. The lo-fi nature of the film was part of its charm, part of the reason why it still felt so creepy, so for some, seeing it on Blu-Ray may take some of that away. But for anyone else, this is the first hi-def release of Evil Dead, and it still has some great extra material, so it could definitely be worth a look.
Written by Ryan Fujitani and Sara Vizcarrondo