RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Back-Up Plan and LOST

Plus, a couple of indie sleepers, a grindhouse classic, zombies, and time-traveling little people.

by | August 25, 2010 | Comments

This year so far seems like it’s been a bit of a letdown for many people; while there have been some excellent standout films, the feelings seems to be that everyone was hoping for more than we’ve gotten so far. With that in mind, a lot of the brand new DVD releases are, of course, going to follow suit. So brace yourselves for the likes of The Back-Up Plan and Survival of the Dead, both of which were poorly reviewed. But once you move past those, we’ve actually got some decent choices, like a couple of indie hits that went unnoticed, a couple of highly acclaimed TV shows in their entirety, a sci-fi cult classic, a grindhouse cult classic, and even some plain old classics. Have yourself a gander:


The Back-Up Plan

It’s already been pointed out that this seems to be the year for movies centered around “alternative” pregnancy, what with the unintentional coupling performed in The Switch, which just opened a couple days ago, and the dual insemination antics of The Kids Are All Right. But earlier still this year, a certain fly girl-turned-actress went down the same path in the romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan. Jennifer Lopez plays Zoe, a single New Yorker who’s experienced her share of dating woes and ultimately decides to take matters into her own hands by having a child via artificial insemination. As fate would have it, of course, she runs into the charming Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) on the same day of her insemination and the two begin a romance… but when will Zoe tell Stan about her pregnancy, and how will he react? Unfortunately, critics didn’t much care to find out, saying that while Lopez is as endearing as ever, the plot is a mish-mash of rom-com clichés (what’s new?) and hardly anyone in the cast is relatable. The Back-Up Plan earned a paltry 21% on the Tomatometer, but you know, these types of films don’t pretend to be anything more than feelgood fluff, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then this one’s for you.


Survival of the Dead

George Romero seems to resurface with a new film every few years or so, just to remind us he’s still around. And, appropriately, his last three directorial efforts have all been within the zombie franchise he created and which went on to inspire countless other zombie movies of the same ilk. The bad news is that critics seem to be tiring of Romero’s take on the undead, claiming that he’s beginning to run out of tricks and that his biting wit and social commentary just aren’t as potent as they once were. While 2005’s Land of the Dead is Certified Fresh at 74%, 2007’s Diary of the Dead sits on the cusp of Freshness at 60%, and his most recent effort, Survival of the Dead, fell down to 31%. Survival immediately follows the events of Diary, focusing instead on a pair of feuding families on an island off the coast of Delaware. While one family dedicates themselves to the eradication of the undead on the island, the other family chooses to harbor their infected loved ones in hopes that a cure will be found. The popular criticism of the film is that Romero fails to break any new ground with Survival, and the film feels too much like the director is simply going through the motions. Still, hardcore Romero fans might find it worth a watch, so you can pick it up this week.


City Island

Earlier this year, a small indie film hit theaters quietly, made a little bit of money, and disappeared just as quietly. It was an ensemble dramedy written and directed by Raymond De Felitta and starring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies, who had previously worked together on The Man from Elysian Fields. In City Island, Garcia and Margulies again play a husband and wife, Vince and Joyce Rizzo, whose relationship is slowly deteriorating. When Vince, a correctional officer, discovers that one of his inmates (Steven Strait)eligible for release is actually an illegitimate son of his, he offers to take the young man in, and the ex-con ends up affecting the family in ways none of them ever could have imagined. Throw in a couple of fine performances from people like Emily Mortimer and Alan Arkin, and you’ve got yourself a bona fide charmer of a movie, one that flew under the radar for most folks. Critics mostly enjoyed City Island, calling it an effective combination of warmth, humanity, and natural humor that’s helped quite a bit by its outstanding cast, and the film accordingly earned a Certified Fresh 81% Tomatometer score. If you’re looking for something a bit quirky, a bit dry, and a bit uplifting, feel free to pick it up this week.


The Square

Australian Joel Edgerton is known more for his acting, but in 2008 he made the leap to writing. Along with Matthew Dabner, Edgerton penned the script for The Square, an Australian crime film that was also directed by Edgerton’s brother, Nash, who himself had only directed short films before. The end result was a taut, twisty thriller that made quite an impression on critics, who saw fit to grant it Certified Fresh status at 86% on the Tomatometer. The story revolves around two lovers, Raymond (played by David Roberts) and Carla (Clair van der Boom), who are both married to other people and who are planning to leave their spouses and run away. In order to do this, however, Ray wants to make sure he’s got enough money to start afresh, because Carla’s husband happens to be a dangerous man. As the two plot their eventual departure and take steps to make it happen, murder and arson soon enter the picture, and before long, the starcrossed couple find themselves in more hot water than they bargained for. Though The Square opened down under in 2008, it only saw its US release earlier this year, and now it finds its way onto home video. By most accounts, this is an impressive debut for the brotherly writer-director team, and the Edgertons may be a force to watch in the future.


Time Bandits – Blu-Ray

Whimsical both visually and philosophically,Time Bandits is like a British Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure without the grossness of stoners or the Circle K. Kevin (Craig Warnock) is an imaginative boy who’s wardrobe contains a hole in time. En route to misadventure, a group of little people fall through his wardrobe fleeing their manager, The Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), on an only slightly organized looting spree through space and time. They all figure they’re good to go because they got the Boss’ map. The visuals on Time Bandits aren’t as romantic and gauzy as those from say Baron Munchausen (sp) but they’re similarly baroque. This is one of director Terry Gilliams’ greatest hits and established his reputation for inspiring adventure and awe, which, of course, made other works, like Tidelands and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus possible. Blu-Ray should be a good buy, as the director’s style involves amped up production design, so seeing all the deliberate and grubby grandeur clearly should be a treat! DVD includes director commentary, a production photo gallery, dream facts, interviews with Gilliam and collaborator/Monty Python collegue Michael Palin and a hidden Spiderwoman Story Board with script!

Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Collection

Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement have steadily built up their reputation over the past decade, beginning with their stints performing back home in New Zealand, where they had a small following. Their Grammy-winning comedy act soon found a place on BBC radio, which was then followed up by a TV show that began airing on HBO in 2007, appropriately titled Flight of the Conchords. The show followed the duo as they played somewhat fictionalized versions of themselves, searching for fame and love as transplants to New York City. Their adventures are often absurd, and shows are peppered with tangential performances of the comedic songs they had become famous for. This week, the full 22-episode run of the show is available on home video as a complete set, which also includes a slew of extras like a never-before released 30-minute special, a documentary feature, commercials for Dave’s pawn shop, outtakes, and deleted scenes. Flight of the Conchords has amassed a huge following, helping to jumpstart further projects for both McKenzie and Clement. You can pick up the complete set this week.

Shogun Assassin – 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray

To talk about the next DVD entry, we’re going to take it back to 1970, when the very first Lone Wolf and Cub manga was published in Japan. The story, set during feudal times, focused on a disgraced samurai named Ogami Itto whose wife is murdered and who sets out with his young son to exact vengeance. An epic story, Lone Wolf and Cub was eventually turned into a six-film franchise in Japan, famous for its violence, and in 1980, the first two films of this series were combined to create Shogun Assassin, a chopped up US version that was shopped to the grindhouse circuit by none other than Roger Corman. Though purists may look upon the film as a bastardization of the original series, others prefer to remember Shogun Assassin as the cult classic it became, and still others will thank Quentin Tarantino for introducing them to the campy and ultraviolent film via Kill Bill. This week, we are treated to a 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of the film, which includes the best looking print of it now available, as well as a number of extra features, including two audio commentaries and an extended interview with Samuel L. Jackson, who is a Shogun Assassin enthusiast. Though some of the dubbed dialogue is sketchy and unintentionally funny, the film is still remarkable to behold, and it shines as an example of the hardcore cinema coming out of Japan during the 1970s.


Withnail and I – Blu-Ray

As bitter as a shot of vodka and bleaker than a foggy day in London-town, Withnail & I isn’t exactly a laff-riot. However, if you’re in the mood for razor-sharp dialogue, vinegary chuckles, and some of the best acting that late 1980s British cinema has to offer, you’ve come to the right place. Unemployed actors Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and Marwood (Paul McGann), fed up with the big city, decide to head for the countryside cottage of Withnail’s horny uncle. Along the way, the pair court disappointment and disillusion but, given the strength of the performances (particularly Grant), you can expect plenty of acid humor. The shiny new Blu-Ray release features a ton of featurettes and commentary tracks, making it the ideal choice for those in a bad mood looking for entertainment on a rainy night.

Three Silent Classics by Josef Von Sternberg – Criterion Collection

Austrian director Josef Von Sternberg is most known for his early sound film collaborations with Marlene Dietrich (Morocco, Blonde Venus and the starmakinger The Blue Angel). The actress who famously travelled with her own cinematographer worked well with Von Sternberg because he was as much DP as director, and we can see his skill with light very provocatively wielded in his dramas about men and corruptibility. Three of said dramas are coming out in a box set with high-def digital transfers and new scores via Criterion. Underworld, a crime drama that predates the Hollywood boom of Gangster films in the early ’30s, stars George Bancroft as criminal kingpin “Bull Weed,” a man whose crazy/scary love for his lady, Feathers (Evelyn Brent) is… bad for business. Screenwriter Ben Hecht (most famous for His Girl Friday) won the first Oscar for best script for Underworld. DVD comes with two Alloy Orchestra scores and a new visual essay by UCLA Professor Janet Bergstrom. The Last Command stars German Sternberg favorite, Emil Jannings (The Last Laugh, The Blue Angel) who won the first Best Actor Oscar for his performance here. Playing an exiled Russian Czar who’s only job opportunity is to perform the role of a stripped down Czar in a movie, Janning’s Big Man ultimately can’t stand his reversal of fortune. DVD comes with a score by Robert Israel and another by Alloy Orchestra, and a visual essay by scholar Tag Gallagher. In The Docks of New York, George Bancroft plays Bill, a roughneck who’s work-a-day-life is thanklessly upright, until he falls for Mae (Betty Compston), a dance-hall girl with a fog-shrouded, waterfront apartment-cum-naughty nest. DVD has two scores (one by Robert Israel and another by Donald Sosin & Joanna Seton) and an interview with Sternberg originally made in 1968 for Swedish TV.

LOST: The Complete Collection

Back in 2004, a commercial airliner crashed on a mysterious island in the South Pacific Ocean, stranding a number of its passengers and forcing them to survive while they waited for help to arrive, and so began the saga of one of the most popular television shows in recent history, namely JJ Abrams’s LOST. Though the show had its ups and downs, LOST succeeded in keeping its viewers glued to the TV every week as questions were raised and mythologies were established, and despite the fact that several of the earlier seasons’ subplots were never fully explored or explained, when all was said and done and the final credits rolled, most viewers seemed satisfied enough. Not only did the show demonstrate top-notch storytelling, exotic locales, and impressive special effects (for a television program), it also left a lot of room for its cast to work its magic. LOST‘s formula was so effective, in fact, that several shows attempted to duplicate its success with similarly mysterious premises and multiple story arcs converging via coincidence, but none seemed to be able to pick up where LOST left off. This week, the entire series is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray in an impressive collector’s edition jampacked with goodies like over 30 hours of bonus material to sift through, featurettes galore, tons of footage from special events like Comic-Con, a replica of the island, a replica of the Senet game played in Season 6, and more. A lot more. It’s a must-have for any die-hard fans who followed the show from beginning to end and still can’t get enough.

Written by Ryan Fujitani, Sara Vizcarrondo, and Tim Ryan

Tag Cloud

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina SundanceTV Disney+ Disney Plus BBC cancelled TV shows DGA razzies Legendary directors TNT comic book movies canceled The Walt Disney Company Drama cults VICE Prime Video cooking parents Set visit biography football Fall TV trailers New York Comic Con Apple TV+ serial killer fast and furious Disney Plus South by Southwest Film Festival a nightmare on elm street Syfy Lionsgate rt labs Rock hidden camera Marvel Columbia Pictures Election CBS period drama Netflix Masterpiece scene in color series Hulu debate 94th Oscars Star Trek Endgame anime RT21 Awards Tour south america richard e. Grant Best Picture legend Grammys versus Mystery ITV rt labs critics edition cancelled TV series mockumentary kids mob Holiday Universal El Rey Sony Pictures Crunchyroll TCA Awards 4/20 slasher Calendar Amazon Reality historical drama scene in color film series Western Television Academy mcc harry potter Geeked Week Best Actress trophy A&E The Arrangement cars blaxploitation Focus Features toronto TV Land LGBTQ Box Office Marathons Brie Larson book women book adaptation nbcuniversal french National Geographic free movies Superheroes Logo Fox Searchlight ghosts indie toy story NBC award winner Martial Arts RT History Disney Channel YouTube Premium Walt Disney Pictures critic resources Avengers Character Guide See It Skip It documentaries saw movie hist sopranos halloween Emmy Nominations space all-time President lord of the rings animated Amazon Studios Native dark USA social media summer TV preview TCM Arrowverse Rom-Com green book 73rd Emmy Awards Nickelodeon james bond justice league live event kaiju Extras Marvel Television Hallmark Tokyo Olympics tv talk hispanic heritage month TV renewals SDCC child's play Music action-comedy video on demand Anna Paquin Horror Interview 24 frames boxing what to watch kong Lucasfilm Sneak Peek target scene in color ABC Family Tubi unscripted basketball classics cops comics TCA festivals casting ratings FXX pirates of the caribbean ESPN Crackle popular Pop Amazon Prime Video superhero Netflix Christmas movies new star wars movies VOD Best Actor politics rotten suspense Wes Anderson venice The Witch 90s YA 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards comic books summer preview spanish language deadpool MGM Starz Sony dreamworks spinoff black comedy Biopics crossover 72 Emmy Awards IFC Films biopic Cannes 2018 crime drama Film marvel cinematic universe Lifetime Christmas movies Black Mirror summer TV Paramount BBC America blockbusters Esquire interviews gangster Spike Neflix spanish game show target BAFTA IMDb TV adventure children's TV king arthur docudrama japan Tags: Comedy APB Tomatazos 007 king kong E! American Society of Cinematographers chucky Instagram Live sitcom Country documentary rt archives Television Critics Association Shudder ViacomCBS ABC Signature golden globes CMT name the review jurassic park Comics on TV young adult VH1 medical drama Indigenous Premiere Dates Britbox Family Fantasy Comic Book Rocky The CW DC streaming service The Academy Pirates stop motion Pride Month Fox News Hollywood Foreign Press Association Vudu The Walking Dead Hallmark Christmas movies OWN A24 godzilla Pet Sematary live action finale broadcast miniseries TBS strong female leads streaming Summer reviews Tumblr FX dexter GLAAD comedies breaking bad spy thriller wonder woman Turner Classic Movies dceu hollywood Apple TV Plus WGN Action franchise 1990s travel Best Director spider-verse FX on Hulu Musical batman Bravo movies Classic Film true crime psychological thriller Shondaland Cartoon Network comiccon Elton John Holidays news Disney streaming service Cosplay fresh 2016 Comedy Central sports renewed TV shows docuseries PBS telelvision Turner Spectrum Originals streamig Paramount Plus LGBT facebook posters AMC zero dark thirty scary theme song die hard comic sequel DC Comics remakes mission: impossible doctor who archives Oscars Freeform stoner werewolf vs. Winners crime Ellie Kemper thriller 21st Century Fox Warner Bros. Emmys Spring TV DirecTV 93rd Oscars NYCC Film Festival Tarantino prank elevated horror MCU Quiz italian revenge Food Network disaster zombie Adult Swim 79th Golden Globes Awards BET superman Broadway Star Wars Celebration Funimation WarnerMedia Exclusive Video Thanksgiving Pacific Islander scary movies romantic comedy art house E3 Polls and Games 99% scene in color NBA TIFF Trivia Comic-Con@Home 2021 Opinion Podcast sequels DC Universe based on movie Trophy Talk Rocketman adaptation Infographic Mindy Kaling GoT new york ABC aliens Schedule Stephen King streaming movies Binge Guide Paramount Pictures jamie lee curtis TCA 2017 talk show Paramount Network TV movies Mudbound TCA Winter 2020 satire emmy awards joker sag awards obi wan Fargo worst Best and Worst war genre know your critic festival History christmas movies Ovation Countdown anthology game of thrones Pixar latino binge Watching Series Dark Horse Comics supernatural YouTube Red Hear Us Out vampires CBS All Access international spain Sundance Now Mary Poppins Returns Musicals AMC Plus dogs Discovery Channel scorecard heist movie obituary Peacock SXSW hispanic 2015 Acorn TV romance nfl 20th Century Fox San Diego Comic-Con cats IFC TV composers television Reality Competition Nat Geo spider-man halloween tv Year in Review australia foreign discovery Ghostbusters films YouTube cancelled television Super Bowl dc 45 Superheroe Photos psycho screen actors guild Alien PlayStation teaser series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt police drama Oscar 2017 technology Black History Month black nature high school feel good reboot Animation Creative Arts Emmys Showtime twilight universal monsters diversity Red Carpet canceled TV shows indiana jones HBO Max marvel comics critics golden globe awards cartoon Kids & Family First Reviews TLC ID Winter TV Amazon Prime Sci-Fi TruTV 2020 Image Comics X-Men 2021 royal family robots screenings Christmas Certified Fresh stand-up comedy Teen new zealand quibi monster movies Travel Channel BBC One Sundance TV One Nominations Lifetime natural history First Look Captain marvel mutant blockbuster The Purge zombies Pop TV Writers Guild of America singing competition worst movies boxoffice Marvel Studios olympics comic book movie rotten movies we love Toys HBO Mary poppins Disney Star Wars dramedy Academy Awards leaderboard video Heroines Awards concert transformers cinemax Chernobyl Comedy slashers Apple 71st Emmy Awards PaleyFest Mary Tyler Moore rom-coms SXSW 2022 cancelled laika 2019 OneApp BET Awards Baby Yoda dragons Valentine's Day Women's History Month science fiction best independent FOX crime thriller criterion MSNBC Sundance TV Song of Ice and Fire japanese MTV Universal Pictures witnail political drama Epix CNN CW Seed USA Network aapi Video Games adenture HFPA GIFs asian-american HBO Go Trailer