RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Help and Cowboys & Aliens

Plus, the Wolf Pack is back, a Mossad film is Certified Fresh, and this mission just got a hell of a lot more impossibler.

by | December 7, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a handful of big releases that came out earlier this year; while a couple of them did surprisingly well, a couple of them fell far below expectations, and another one pretty much turned out the way we all thought it would. First up is the Emma Stone and Viola Davis-powered drama about race relations, followed by a sci-fi genre mash-up that should have been better than it was. Then, we’ve got a children’s film starring Jim Carrey, a smart retro spy thriller, and the sequel to a wildly popular comedy from a couple years back. In the reissue department, we’ve got a new Criterion Blu-ray for a Hitchcock classic, a popular franchise box set, and a Blu-ray for an historical WWII epic. See below for the full list!

The Help

76%

What seemed on its surface to be another schmaltzy, pandering examination of race relations turned out to be one of the surprise hits of the year, thanks mostly to the efforts of its terrific cast. Based on the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, The Help stars Emma Stone as Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, an intrepid young journalist during Civil Rights era America who decides to write a surely controversial novel about the experiences of black maids from the maids’ perspectives. During the course of her interviews, Skeeter befriends her subjects and an unlikely bond develops, lending Skeeter’s project a new sense of import and purpose. Though some critics felt the film somewhat glossed over its racial themes, the power of the performances, including superb turns by co-stars Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, helped to elevate the picture to a Certified Fresh 75%. The Help may not quite be the grand lesson in race relations some might want it to be, but it’s a moving look at the era and a worthy adaptation of its source material.

Cowboys & Aliens

44%

Tell anyone you’ve got an alien invasion movie set in the old west, starring Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, and Olivia Wilde, and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), and chances are that you’ll have the listener’s full attention. Too bad, then, that the actual film this describes turned out to be a flop. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Cowboys & Aliens is exactly the kind of genre mash-up that contemporary audiences eat up heartily; 007 himself (Craig) plays a wandering stranger with no memory who stumbles into the New Mexico town of Absolution, only to find that the town’s residents don’t take too kindly to strangers. However, when a mysterious otherworldly menace begins an assault on the town, the stranger must team up with the local lawman (Harrison Ford) to battle for humankind’s survival. So what was the major problem here? Critics felt that, despite appealing performances from Craig and Ford, the film simply shifted its tone too abruptly and too often, never quite settling into a comfortable and effective groove. At 44% on the Tomatometer, Cowboys & Aliens isn’t the awesome genre action flick it could have been, but it may still satisfy those in dire need of a fix.

The Hangover Part II

34%

Back in 2009, Warner Bros. had a surprise hit of their own with the raucous bromantic comedy The Hangover, and it was immediately expected that a sequel would follow. Sure enough, two years later, audiences were treated to a second outing with the “Wolf Pack,” namely Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and Doug (Justin Bartha). If you’ve heard or read anything about the movie, you know that the typical summary offered is “It’s pretty much the same as the first one, except that it takes place in Thailand.” This time around, it’s Stu who’s getting married, so the gang travels back to his fiancee’s homeland for the festivities, and again, it’s Alan who inadvertently brings about another forgotten night of mayhem that the fellas must piece together the day after. What the first movie had going for it — namely, the element of surprise and a sense of joyful mayhem — is largely missing from this sequel, which sports raunchier jokes and a much darker tone. If you don’t mind a sense of déjà vu, feel free to dive right in.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

47%

Look, it can’t be denied: penguins are adorable. With that in mind, it’s quite understandable why there have been so many films in recent years, from documentaries to CGI-animated tales, centered around our most cuddly, flightless friends. And, of course, as demonstrated by other entries in this week’s list, adaptations of books are a Hollywood favorite as well, which brings us to Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Jim Carrey stars as the titular Mr. Popper, a divorced realtor whose globetrotting father leaves him with crates full of penguins upon his death. Popper decides not to turn the penguins over to the zoo when he observes how much his children love them, and in caring for his new feathered friends, he not only mends his personal relationships, but also succeeds in landing an important and sentimental real estate deal. Based on a children’s book from 1938, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is pretty standard stuff, which means the plot points are predictable, and there are enough “aww shucks” moments for the kids. The film, however, fails to transcend cliché and become something more, and for that, it sports just a 47% on the Tomatometer.

The Debt

77%

Have room for one more unoriginal story? A remake of the 2007 Israeli film of the same name, The Debt at least does a good job of adapting the original for a new audience. Flashing back and forth between two eras, The Debt tells the story of three Mossad agents who, in 1966, undertook a mission that made them national heroes… But did they really complete their mission, or is there more to the story? Three decades later, having enjoyed a life of some notoriety, the agents must decide whether or not to follow up on their original task, and as more details are revealed, the path becomes more treacherous for all involved. Though the shifts in time may be a little problematic for some at first, critics largely found much to praise in The Debt‘s smartly executed script and impressive acting. With a Certified Fresh 76% and stars like Tom Wilkinson, Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Ciaran Hinds, and Marton Csokas filling out the bill, you can be assured this is one thriller that will engage you from start to finish.

The Lady Vanishes – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

98%

Two years before leaving his native Britain for Hollywood, Alfred Hitchcock made The Lady Vanishes, a deft blend of thrills and laughs that established a formula the master would utilize in his American films. On a train ride from a fictional Central European country to her native England, Iris (Margaret Lockwood) becomes acquainted with an elderly fellow traveler — who proceeds to seemingly vanish into midair. With the help of musicologist Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), Iris tries desperately to find the old lady, and to prove she’s not crazy. Filled with eccentric supporting characters (including Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford, whose characters Charters and Caldicott became a favorite of British audiences) and plenty of suspenseful twists and turns, The Lady Vanishes finds Hitchcock at an early peak. A new Critierion Blu-ray features a fresh transfer of the film, plus a making-of video essay, audio excerpts of a 1962 Hitchcock interview by Francois Truffaut, and Crook’s Tour, a 1941 film that re-teamed Charters and Caldicott.

Tora! Tora! Tora! – Blu-ray

55%

A troubled production and a flop at the box office, Tora! Tora! Tora! certainly can’t count lack of ambition as one of its faults. A history lesson come to life, the film dramatized the attack on Pearl Harbor from both the American and Japanese perspectives; while many praised its commitment to historical accuracy, others felt the film lacked dramatic heft. The American scenes were directed by Hollywood pro Richard Fleischer, but it was the Japanese scenes that caused headaches for the producers; originally, Akira Kurosawa (!) was to direct, but he backed out, only to be replaced by action director Toshio Masuda and future Battle Royale helmer Kinji Fukasaku (!!). With a cast that includes Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, and Jason Robards, as well as Kurosawa and Ozu players So Yamamura and Eijiro Tono, the new Tora! Tora! Tora! Blu-ray is a great stocking stuffer for military buffs on your holiday shopping list; special features include featurettes on the film, behind-the-scenes photos, and commentary from Fleischer.

Mission: Impossible Extreme Blu-Ray Trilogy

For those looking to get primed and ready for the upcoming fourth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Paramount is releasing a gift set of all three previous films in the Mission: Impossible Extreme Blu-Ray Trilogy. Most will be inclined to debate on whether the first or third installments were the best, while the John Woo-helmed second film is widely regarded as the worst of the three, but for those looking for a bit of globetrotting spy intrigue, they all pretty much serve their purpose. The three disc set comes with dedicated bonus features for each film, most of which have been previously released on earlier editions, so the big draw here is getting all three together for a pretty decent price. This could make for a pretty decent gift for a fan of the series who has yet to upgrade their collection to hi-def.

Tag Cloud

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