RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Sucker Punch & Season of the Witch

by | June 27, 2011 | Comments

If ever there was a week that we could be accused of toying with your home video expectations, this would be that week. We kick things off with a handful of the most recent releases, including Zack Snyder’s steampunk girl power (sort of) film, Nicolas Cage’s foray into medieval sorcery, a modern interpretation of Beauty and the Beast, and an ill-conceived action genre mashup. But after that, we present one Certified Fresh drama, a couple of classics on Criterion, and — wait for it — the definitive LOTR boxset everyone’s been waiting for.

Sucker Punch

22%

Though it’s debatable whether or not Zack Snyder actually deserves the “visionary” title that seems to get plastered on all the trailers for his films, there’s no question that Sucker Punch was all his doing. Both written and directed by Snyder (300, Watchmen), Sucker Punch is a swirly dreamscape filled with young prostitutes, demon samurai, dragons, robot soldiers, and more. And, unfortunately, most critics just weren’t buying it. Despite the film’s visual dazzle, the critics found both the character development and storytelling severely inadequate, slapping it with a meager 22% Tomatometer. If you’re just looking to see some scantily-clad girls dish out heavy violence in slow motion, then yes, this is for you. If you require some semblance of a coherent storyline or characters you care about, you’re probably better off leaving this one alone.

Season of the Witch

11%

On first announcement, Season of the Witch had some goofy potential. Nicolas Cage playing a soldier in the age of the Crusades, directed by competent action director Dominic Sena? Sure, why not? But things looked worse and worse as time went on, and the supernatural flick suffered countless delays and Cage’s shriveling critical reputation, and at one point looked destined to go direct to DVD. But Relativity Media saved it from the discount bin… for a while, at least. After all, when Season of the Witch finally hit theaters this last January, it couldn’t gross even $25 million and got hit with some of the worst reviews of Cage’s career. It even brazenly carried a 00% Tomatometer, until some late-game reviews came in and saved it from goose egg infamy. Still, with a Tomatometer still well away from double digits, Season of the Witch just might be the ticket for your next bad movie night with friends and strong drinks.

Beastly

21%

With all the “modern” interpretations on classic literature being brought to the screen, one almost has to wonder: “Do kids just not read the original books any more?” For every decent 10 Things I Hate About You (a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew), there’s a dismal Red Riding Hood, and unfortunately, Beastly falls into the latter camp. Based on a novel that is itself based on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, Beastly centers on… Well, there’s no need to go into the plot here, because it is, at the end of the day, simply a retelling of the classic story, set in modern-day New York. Suffice it to say the film earned a 16% on the Tomatometer, so unless you’re just dying for some teen angst, probably a good idea to skip this one.

The Warrior’s Way

32%

There have been a handful of films recently that have served as vehicles to introduce mainstream American audiences to South Korean stars, but none of them have been very successful. One possible explanation for this is that these actors, otherwise quite capable in their homeland, have been relegated to roles in silly and poorly reviewed action shlock, like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Ninja Assassin. Don’t expect any of that to change with The Warrior’s Way, a fantasy action film about an Asian assassin (Jang Dong-gun) of unspecified origin who flees his country during the 19th Century, only to be tracked to the Old West town where he’s hiding out. Co-starring Geoffrey Rush (nice post-King’s Speech choice there, Geoff) and Kate Bosworth, The Warrior’s Way divided critics to the tune of 32% on the Tomatometer, with a small number of them championing the over-the-top action and smashing together of Eastern and Western cliches. If that sounds like your thing, have at it!

Barney’s Version

77%

Three marriages across 30 years. That’s a lot of drama, heartache, details and fights, and we only get one version of the events: Bradley’s. Wait, we mean: Barney. It’s from his (Paul Giamatti) perspective that we see his love life unfold, from his first marriage to an unfaithful wife (Rachelle Lefevre), his second with a wealthy Jewish princess (Minnie Driver), and the third marriage to the great love of his life (Rosamund Pike), who he just incidentally happened to meet during his second marriage. All throughout the decades there is also Barney’s father and right hand man (Dustin Hoffman). Giamatti gives another powerful performance, guiding this Certified Fresh seriocomedy through the ups and downs of modern romance.

Zazie dans le métro – Criterion Collection

76%

There have been plenty of cinematic tributes to Paris, but few are as delightfully bonkers as Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le Métro, one of the most stylistically bold and outright wacky films to emerge from the French New Wave. Amélie fans will smile with recognition throughout — Audrey Tautou’s whimsical breakout role is heavily indebted to little Zazie (Catherine Demongeot), a gap-toothed little hellion who travels throughout the City Of Lights with her cross-dressing uncle while her mother is off having an affair. Zazie is a whirl of bright colors, silent-movie slapstick, and wanton property destruction, and it stands as one of the most original and gleefully wild movies of an era famous for cinematic audacity. A spiffy new Criterion disc features a fresh transfer of the film, archival interviews with Malle, Demongeot, and other crew members, a short documentary about Zazie, and more. For those interested, Malle’s apocalyptic fantasy film Black Moon is also available in a Criterion edition this week.

People on Sunday – Criterion Collection

Too many cooks spoil the broth, right? Not in the case of People on Sunday, a 1930 collaboration between a group of German directors who would go on to have success in the U.S.: Robert Siodmak (The Killers), his brother Curt (who wrote the screenplay for The Wolf Man), Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour), and Fred

Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity). (Oh, and one of the writers was some guy named Billy Wilder.) The result was a silent feature-length avant-garde mix of documentary and drama, featuring non-actors going about their daily lives in pre-Nazi Berlin.

People on Sunday isn’t just an early glimpse at a group of filmmakers who would go on to big things, it’s also visually rapturous, looking particularly clean in a new transfer. The Criterion disc features two scores for the film, plus a 2000 documentary about the making of the movie, and a 1931 short by the film’s cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan, who later worked on such classics as Eyes Without a Face and The Hustler.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Edition Blu-Ray

Here it is, folks. You’ve been waiting for the Lord of the Rings trilogy’s Extended Editions to hit Blu-Ray, and they finally have, in the form of an immense 15-disc boxset that will probably keep you in front of your TV for weeks. For the few of you who aren’t familiar with the fantasy trilogy, it follows the adventures and tribulations of a young hobbit named Frodo as he joins with various humans, elves, dwarfs, and wizards to transport a powerful ring to the only place where it can be destroyed (that’s the super-abridged version). For the rest of you who have been anticipating this home video release, you’ll be excited to know it has pretty much the most definitive collection of LOTR bonus materials ever assembled, so you’ll be able to dive as deep as you want into director Peter Jackson’s vision for the material. Have fun, and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks when you emerge from your living room with a beard Gimli would be proud of.

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