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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Green Hornet and The Dilemma

Also, a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility and a Bergman classic.

by | May 4, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, we unfortunately have several Rotten new releases, though at least for one of them, the Rotten Tomatometer was somewhat of a surprise. Who would have thought that pairing up Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen would be a bad idea? Okay, maybe some did; we’ll give you that. But beyond that film, we’ve also got a Vince Vaughn/Kevin James film that came and went pretty quietly, a modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility set in East LA, and a quirky rom-com that turned out creepier than anyone imagined. Then we’ve got a Robert Rodriguez fan-favorite on Blu-Ray for the first time, and Criterion’s hi-def version of an Ingmar Bergman classic. Pickings are slim, but we know you RT readers are a varied lot, so some of these will appeal to at least some of you. Check out the full list below.

The Green Hornet

44%

French director Michel Gondry has never quite been able to recapture the lightning he harnessed when, together with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he made the 2004 hit Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This isn’t to say he hasn’t done well; almost all of his subsequent films have been Fresh… and that brings us to The Green Hornet. It can’t be denied that there were some expectations for the film, seeing as how Gondry’s unique and imaginative visual style seemed appropriate for a superhero film, and with hot comedy commodity Seth Rogen in the lead and just-off-his-Oscar-win Christoph Waltz as the villain, everything seemed to point to a rollicking good time. Not quite, according to the critics, who said that while the film is entertaining in spots, it doesn’t quite live up to the potential of a Michel Gondry/Seth Rogen collaboration. For those interested anyway, the film is based on the radio series (and subsequent productions) of the same name, and follows the exploits of a young heir (Rogen) to a media empire who decides to put his father’s money to good use by fighting crime with one of his father’s empoloyees (Jay Chou as Kato). The Green Hornet only garnered a 45% on the Tomatometer, but it might offer some cheap thrills and gags for fans of those involved.

The Dilemma

24%

Ron Howard’s got plenty of good stuff on his resume, from ’80s classics like Cocoon and Parenthood to award-winners like A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon. But every once in a while, he’ll put out a movie that leaves critics scratching their heads. The Dilemma, which opened earlier this year in January, bears the dubious honor of being the lowest Tomatometer-rated film of Howard’s career at 21%. The story revolves around two best pals, Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James), who run an auto design company. Nick is married to Geneva (Winona Ryder), but when Ronny catches her cozying up to another man at lunch one day, he’s faced with the titular dilemma: how does he tell his best friend, and when is the best time? Despite a few bankable stars (the supporting cast includes Jennifer Connelly, Queen Latifah, and Channing Tatum) and Ron Howard’s directorial prowess, The Dilemma confused critics, who found it difficult to figure out what tone the movie was going for; on one hand, there’s some cheesy slapstick, and on the other, there’s also some surprisingly dark comedy. Whatever the case, the film still made close to $50 million at the box office, so it couldn’t have been all that bad. Right?

From Prada to Nada

20%

I hate to say it, but if you thought The Dilemma was going to be the lowest-rated movie in this week’s home video roundup, you’d be wrong. This modern reinterpretation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Sense and Sensibility stars Camilla Belle (10,000 BC, Push) and Alexa Vega (Spy Kids) as Nora and Mary Dominguez, two spoiled coeds whose father?s death leaves them penniless and in the care of their Aunt Aurelia (Adriana Barraza). Unfortunately for the sisters, Aunt Aurelia lives in the decidedly “less prosperous” neighborhood of Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, and the pair must learn to cope not only with their new environment, but also their new, luxury-free lifestyles. Updated, tween-friendly interpretations of classic literature are seldom met with critical praise because they’re typically watered down for a more mainstream audience, which often compromises much of what made the source material classic to begin with, and the same can be said for From Prada to Nada. Critics largely felt that the broad, sitcom-style humor worked against the film, and while there was some charm to be found in the actresses, there just wasn’t enough to overcome the predictable script and spotty acting. For better or for worse, it’s one DVD and Blu-Ray this week, so you’re free to see for yourself.

Waiting for Forever

5%

So now that we’ve gotten all the Rotten films out of the… Oh, wait… Oh, goodness; we may have spoken too soon. So what was it about Waiting for Forever that gave critics such an intense bitter beer face? Rachel Bilson plays Emma, a failing TV actress who returns to her hometown when her father falls ill, and Tom Sturridge plays Will, Emma’s quirky, juggling childhood friend who’s harbored a crush for Emma since way back when… and has secretly followed her around everywhere since. Will Emma be swayed by Will’s offbeat charms, or will she return to her complicated love life in the big city? What the writers and director of the film failed to consider, according to critics, was how creepy Will’s character is, and how the story almost seems to encourage stalker-ish behavior. It’s been tough going for Rachel Bilson on the big screen since her breakout role on the popular television show The O.C., and Waiting for Forever apparently wasn’t the vehicle to propel her to higher visibility in Hollywood. Then again, at least one critic called the film “fascinatingly bad,” so maybe there’s some watchability in that.

From Dusk Till Dawn – Blu-Ray

61%

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, with a script from Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn is an expertly-made mash-up of 1970s road movies and grindhouse horror flicks. Tarantino and George Clooney star as a pair of siblings on a crime spree who kidnap a preacher (Harvey Keitel) and his family, using their RV to as a cover. However, when they stop at a wild biker bar just across the border, the brothers discover they’re in for way more than they bargained for ? the clientele is comprised mostly of vampires. Dusk works as both a B-movie homage and as a gruesome gore fest, and cultists should be excited by a brand new Blu-Ray release, but be warned ? it has no bonus features.

Smiles of A Summer Night – Criterion Blu-Ray

100%

When you hear Ingmar Bergman’s name, you probably don’t think “romantic comedy.” However, before he made such classics as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona, and Cries and Whispers and cemented his reputation as a poet of existential gloom, Bergman showed a light touch with Smiles of a Summer Night, which helped bring the director to international prominence. Starring Bergman regulars Harriet Andersson and Gunnar Björnstrand, Smiles is a delightful upstairs/downstairs comedy about four couples enjoying a weekend at a manor house in the country — that is, until secrets, insecurities, and subsumed passions bubble to the surface. Wits are matched, zingers are tossed, romantic bonds are stretched, and the result is a Bergman screwball comedy — it sounds weird, but it works beautifully. Criterion has a fresh new Blu-Ray out, with a digital restoration, an introduction to the film by Bergman, and a conversation about the great Swede.

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