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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Oscar-winner Hugo Hits Shelves

Plus, an underseen foreign gem, a spy spoof, and a new Louis Malle Criterion.

by | February 28, 2012 | Comments

Perhaps it’s because the Oscars were last night, or perhaps it’s just because it’s a slow week for DVD releases, but there isn’t a whole lot going on in the world of home video this week. The biggest news we have is that Martin Scorsese’s latest, a family film and loving tribute to the cinema, is available tomorrow, after having taken home five statues last night. After that, we’ve got a spy spoof sequel, a failed bromance (of sorts), a critically acclaimed Mexican drama, and a new Criterion edition of a Louis Malle film. See below for the full list!

Hugo

93%

The 84th Academy Awards are officially in our collective rear view mirror, and though Hugo didn’t take home statues for any of the top honors, Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the cinema did score a solid five Oscars (Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects). Based on the best-selling Brian Selznick novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the film stars Asa Butterfield as the titular boy, the orphaned son of a clockmaker who loved the films of Georges Melies. In his quest to repair the mysterious automaton that his late father left behind, Hugo befriends a young girl named Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) whose toymaker godfather (Ben Kingsley) may or may not be intimately connected to his father’s automaton. Lavishly shot in 3D, Hugo evokes a strong sense of cinematic nostalgia, demonstrating Martin Scorsese’s very personal love for the magic of the movies, and Certified Fresh at 93%, it’s a delightful treat for all families, whether they’re full of cinephiles or not. Now, it is available in Blu-ray 3D, but whether or not it will be able to duplicate the lush effects seen in theaters is still sort of up in the air; here’s hoping they re-release it for a post-Oscar run. For those curious about the extras, the Blu-ray 3D package comes with a handful of featurettes, including a making-of doc and short videos dedicated to the automaton, Georges Melies, one of the special effects shots, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Johnny English Reborn

38%

Because the world was simply chomping at the bit to get more of bumbling secret agent Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) back in 2003, he made a return to the big screen eight years later and Johnny English Reborn was… born. Critics, however, found the sequel only slightly more bearable than the first film and another unfortunate waste of Atkinson’s comedic talents. Reborn finds our wacky hero off the grid and training deep in Asia when he is called upon once again by MI7, this time to help thwart an assassination attempt on the Chinese premier; double crosses and pratfalls ensue. If you’re familiar with Rowan Atkinson’s previous work, then you know what you’re getting here. Expect a lot of broad, slapsticky humor in service of well-worn spy spoof clichés, and if that’s your thing, then have at it. But at 37% on the Tomatometer, there’s no guarantee this will appeal to anyone outside of its target PG demographic.

I Melt With You

16%

Early Bret Easton Ellis novels (please, forgive us this comparison) and their subsequent film adaptations (like Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction) were famous for portrayals of disaffected youth doing naughty things and contemplating life. Now, imagine a handful of characters in their forties doing the same thing, and you’ve got I Melt With You. Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Thomas Jane, and Christian McKay are old college buddies who meet up annually at Big Sur to celebrate a birthday, but with their own families and hidden secrets plaguing them, they embark on a week of drugs and parties until a tragedy forces them to face their past. Most critics would tell you to steer clear of I Melt With You, which earned a mere 13% on the Tomatometer; they generally agree that the film’s laughable script and ludicrous plot points do nothing to help the actors trying so desperately to make something of the material. For better or for worse, it’s available this week.

Miss Bala

87%

Mexico’s entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (though it didn’t make the cut), Miss Bala is another one of those movies you probably haven’t heard of, much less seen, unless you keep close watch on our weekly Critics Consensus and live in a major city. Loosely based on true events, the film follows a young Mexican beauty queen who becomes wrapped up with a gang of drug-runners as she competes for her crown. Though it received just a little buzz and opened for a short time in limited release, critics found a lot to praise about the movie; it’s a loaded film whose subject matter is already heavy, but is made even more powerful by some interesting directorial choices and an assured filmmaking style. Certified Fresh at 89%, Miss Bala is an unflinching, timely look at a side of Mexican culture much talked about but rarely explored in this fashion.

Vanya on 42nd Street – Criterion Collection

89%

Vanya on 42nd Street‘s highbrow credentials are impeccable: it’s a modern take on Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, adapted by David Mamet, directed by French maestro Louis Malle, and featuring Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn (the later three were responsible for the minimalist classic My Dinner with Andre). If that sounds like a snooze to you, it’s your loss; Vanya is a deliciously unconventional filmed play featuring some of New York’s finest stage talent (and Julianne Moore in a key early role). A new Criterion Blu-ray features a fresh digital transfer of the film, plus a making-of documentary that includes interviews with the actors.

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