RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Paul and Your Highness

Plus, a kids' film that misses and a tense indie Western.

by | August 9, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got plenty of new releases and a few notable reissues. Before we get to the recent films available this week, we’ll go ahead and let you know that there are Blu-Ray reissues of two teen comedy classics: Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Dazed and Confused. And before we go any further, we’ll let you know that, while you can certainly pick up the new Blu-Ray of Dazed and Confused, The Criterion Collection will be releasing their own Blu-Ray edition of the film in October of this year, so you may want to hold out for that. The other notable Blu-Ray release is Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, so if you’re a fan of the director or of star Johnny Depp, that might be worth checking out. As far as new films, we’ve got the latest Simon Pegg/Nick Frost buddy comedy (with Seth Rogen voicing an alien), a stoner adventure comedy, a motion capture kids flick, a Rainn Wilson/Ellen Page superhero satire, a rom-com about class distinctions, and a Michelle Williams-powered Western. Read on for the full list!

Paul

70%

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have proven to be a reliable comic duo, not just in films like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but also in the cult favorite BBC show Spaced, all of which were also directed by Edgar Wright. For Paul, Pegg and Frost hooked up with Superbad director Greg Mottola, as well as Superbad star Seth Rogen (as the voice of the titular alien), and the results, while positive overall, weren’t quite as strong as their previous efforts. Paul tells the story of two Comic-Con geeks from overseas who set out on a road trip to visit various sci-fi landmarks and encounter a fugitive alien (Rogen) trying to find his way back home. While the chemistry between the two leads is strong, and the film is peppered with notable appearances by Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, and Bill Hader, critics say Paul doesn’t quite measure up to the pair’s best work. It is amiably entertaining, though, and at a solid 71% on the Tomatometer, it should be a decent rental.

Your Highness

27%

Two more comedy stars paired up with another notable director for this crass and irreverent take on the traditional fantasy adventure. In David Gordon Green’s (Pineapple Express) Your Highness, James Franco and Danny McBride are princely brothers Fabious and Thadeous, who set out on a perilous quest to rescue Fabious’s bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), from an evil sorcerer named Leezar (Justin Theroux). Along the way, the brothers meet a courageous woman warrior (Natalie Portman) who harbors her own reasons for pursuing Leezar and engage in lots of swearing and silly hijinks. Unfortunately, critics largely felt that the premise behind Your Highness — namely, a stoner comedy with swords, dragons, and magic — probably worked a lot better on paper than it did on film, where it became a highly monotonous romp with only occasional laughs. Perhaps the intent was for viewers themselves to be under the influence while watching Your Highness, but judging by its 26% Tomatometer, there’s a strong chance it might not have benefited from even that kind of help.

Mars Needs Moms

37%

Oh, Robert Zemeckis, how much longer will you continue to support endeavors in motion capture filmmaking, even in the face of diminishing returns? Though Zemeckis didn’t direct Mars Needs Moms, he did take on producing duties, and unfortunately for him, the film wasn’t the one to change audiences’ minds about the technology. Based on a book of the same name by Berkeley Breathed, Mars Needs Moms is a sci-fi infused lesson in family values, in which a young boy named Milo witnesses the Martian abduction of his mother and stows away aboard the spacecraft. Once on Mars, Milo discovers that human mothers are being taken for their maternal instincts, which are then implanted in robots to care for their own Martian children. Milo meets up with a kooky man who’s been trapped on Mars since he too followed his mother to the planet, and together they set about trying to rescue Milo’s mom. According to the critics, the film did have some visual flair, but with so many manufactured moments, it simply lacked imagination and heart. As such, it sits at 34% on the Tomatometer and may be another of those films only suitable for young children.

Super

49%

The concept of regular people donning costumes to fight crime in a real world setting is not one that suddenly became popular with last year’s Kick-Ass, and Super, starring Rain Wilson and Ellen Page, is simply the next one to give it a go. As it turns out, most found Super to be mediocre, particularly when compared with the aforementioned Certified Fresh Kick-Ass. Rainn Wilson is Frank D’Arbo, a short order cook whose ex-addict wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a sleazy but charismatic strip club owner (Kevin Bacon). Depressed and deluded, Frank assumes the identity of urban crimefighter The Crimson Bolt, and with his trusty sidekick Boltie (Ellen Page), begins to take justice into his own hands. Ostensibly a dark comedy, Super went a little too dark for some who hoped for a bit more of the comedy, and its unflinching brutality proved to be its undoing. At 45% on the Tomatometer, this one may offer some uncomfortable laughs, but it won’t be a picnic in the park for those of you who are easily disturbed.

Jumping the Broom

58%

Wait, what’s this? A contemporary African-American rom-com about familial relationships and marriage that doesn’t have Tyler Perry’s name plastered all over it? We bet you thought he’d cornered the market on that material. Jumping the Broom stars Laz Alonso and Paula Patton as Jason and Sabrina, two young professionals who meet, fall in love, and decide to get married. There is one little issue, though: Jason is from a working class home, while Sabrina hails from an upper crust family. When the two get their relatives together for the celebration, cultures clash and hilarity (presumably) ensues. Ultimately, critics found the cast to be charming and well chosen, and the film certainly has heart, but, like many films of its kind, Jumping the Broom suffers from lackluster writing and eventually succumbs to clichéd plot conventions. If you’re looking for a light, amusing romantic comedy with some appealing actors doing their thing, you could certainly do worse, but don’t expect any new ground to be broken, and be prepared for the schmaltz.

Meek’s Cutoff

86%

Michelle Williams and director Kelly Reichardt continue the successful partnership they forged in 2008’s Wendy and Lucy with this ponderous indie Western. Based on historical facts, Meek’s Cutoff chronicles the story of a group of American settlers traveling the Oregon Trail whose guide, Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), leads them into the wilderness with little idea where he’s going. Tension builds as the settlers begin to realize this and supplies begin to run low, and when they encounter and capture a lone Native American, they wonder whether or not he can be trusted to lead them to safety. Reichardt has enjoyed great critical acclaim for her previous work, and Meek’s Cutoff, her third Certified Fresh film in a row, is no exception. Though its pace is rather deliberate, most critics found the film to be an effective, intense journey of terror and survival, bolstered by performances from Greenwood and Williams. It might be too slow for some, but those who stick with it will be rewarded by a psychologically gripping Western.

The Battle of Algiers

99%

The Battle of Algiers is a singular cinematic achievement — it’s a riveting look at the French occupation of Algeria that recreates the tumultuous late-1950s-early-1960s conflict so remarkably that you won’t believe it isn’t a contemporary newscast. Gillo Pontecorvo’s Certified Fresh film gives viewers an unflinching perspective on the Algerian War of Independence, from the rebels urban guerilla warfare tactics to the brutal colonial military response. Despite the passage of time, The Battle of Algiers hasn’t dated a bit — it screened at the Pentagon prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq (the flier for the screening read “How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas”), and Quentin Tarrantino utilized the film’s propulsive theme for a key scene in Inglourious Basterds. It’s about as incendiary as world cinema gets. A new Criterion blu-ray comes loaded with extras, including a making-of featurette, a doc on the history of the war, and interviews with everyone from the filmmakers to the movie’s biggest fans (including Spike Lee and Oliver Stone) to U.S. counterterrorism experts.

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