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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I

Plus, a stoner comedy, a critically acclaimed doc, and a Disney classic.

by | February 7, 2012 | Comments

Last week was especially robust with new releases, so it’s not surprising that only a few new items of note are hitting shelves this week. Among the rereleases are the George Cukor classic A Star Is Born, the 1967 James Bond parody Casino Royale, the 1963 ensemble screwball comedy It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and the romance Love Story. The new releases include the latest installment of a certain vampire love saga, the third film starring a lovable stoner duo, and Roland Emmerich’s pseud-historical period thriller. Then, we’ve got the highest rated documentary of 2011, another Disney classic in hi-def, and a couple of films from a French New Wave auteur. See below for the full list!

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I

25%

Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-human-werewolf romance has captured the female demographic (from tweens to grandmothers) since the first book was published back in 2005, and the film adaptations have understandably been a huge hit as well. The latest chapter in the saga, which amounts to the first half of the final book, debuted last November to the tune of over $280 million in domestic totals and a worldwide gross exceeding $700 million. By now, it’s well known that the Twilight films haven’t earned the best reviews, but that didn’t stop hordes of fans from watching the marriage of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), the subsequent consummation of that marriage (finally, right?), and the ensuing complications that arise when a human attempts to birth a vampire. Even within the franchise itself, Breaking Dawn Part I sports the lowest Tomatometer at 25%, with critics calling it slow, joyless, and loaded with unintentionally hilarious moments. But let’s be honest: this film was made exclusively to satisfy its existing fanbase, who are only too eager to eat it up; everyone else will have to be content with the fact that there’s only one more to go.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

68%

If Cheech and Chong taught us anything, it’s that stoner humor can have surprising longevity, given the right ingredients (chemistry between its leads, appropriately outrageous scenarios, and copious amounts of ganja). With that in mind, John Cho and Kal Penn have taken up the mantle of the aforementioned duo and given audiences three movies of varying success, the latest of which hits shelves this week. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas finds our titular tokers as somewhat estranged friends, Harold (Cho) having stopped smoking marijuana since getting married and Kumar (Penn) having let himself go after his girlfriend dumped him. Harold, however, has promised a perfect Christmas to Mr. Perez (Danny Trejo), his father-in-law, and when Kumar accidentally burns down Mr. Perez?s tree, he and Harold are again caught up in wild hijinks. Not quite hitting the highs of the first installment but certainly besting the second, Christmas offers more raunchy, irreverent laughs, and though it’s still a bit hit-or-miss, critics enjoyed seeing the pair’s sweeter sides.

Anonymous

45%

If you’ve taken any college (or even high school) level course on Shakespeare, you’ve probably been exposed to the centuries-old controversy that asserts the famous bard’s prolific writings are actually the work of another man. While scholars are never able to prove with any solid evidence precisely who this other man was, many believe the most likely candidate was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Anonymous aims to dramatize this angle, dressing the story up in political conspiracy, romantic intrigue, and the power struggles of the Elizabethan elite. And who better to bring you this story than… Roland Emmerich? The guy who did Stargate, Independence Day, and 2012? Yes, that Roland Emmerich. And while the film did manage only a 47% on the Tomatometer, most critics felt it certainly could have been much worse. Anonymous boasts visual flair and emotional bombast, but it too often and too desperately tries to convince the audience of the authenticity of its story, and that’s where it loses steam. Still, if a period potboiler is up your alley, you may get a kick out of it.

Project Nim

97%

Remember that movie last year starring James Franco about the scientist who brings home a baby chimp and attempts to raise it as a member of his own family? Well, Project Nim is basically that same story, except it took place in real life and didn’t end with a massive primate riot. The film documents a fascinating project undertaken during the early 1970s to determine whether or not a chimpanzee raised from birth in a human family could learn enough sign language to indicate some form of syntactic comprehension. Following the chimp subject, Nim Chimpsky, from the time he was taken away from his mother all the way through the end of the project, and several years after, the film intersperses archival footage and contemporary interviews with the various caretakers, handlers, and teachers that passed in and out of Nim’s life. At 98% on the Tomatometer, Project Nim took home the Golden Tomato Award in the Documentary category, with critics calling it equal parts hilarious, poignant, and heartbreaking. It’s a fascinating film, and it’s more than likely worth your while to check out.

La Jetée/Sans Soleil – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

One of the more eccentric directors to be associated with the French New Wave, Chris Marker’s dazzling films often blur the line between cinema and art, between documentary and essay. Ironically, his best known work is a movie that doesn’t even move: La Jetée, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi short that tells a story using still photographs, was the basis for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. The globetrotting experimental essay Sans Soleil reflects on the nature of memory, using images and people from Japan, Africa, Europe, and the U.S.; it served as an influence on Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. A sparkling new Criterion Blu-ray/DVD will help you to get a feel for this most playful of cerebral filmmakers; in addition to new digital transfers, the disc includes several interviews with Marker and docs about his work.

Lady and the Tramp – Diamond Edition Blu-Ray

93%

As they seem to be doing once or twice a year these days, Disney is releasing yet another of their animated classics in brand spanking new Blu-ray this week. This time, it’s the 1955 canine romance Lady and the Tramp, about a cocker spaniel from a wealthy family who runs away from home and falls in love with a mutt from the wrong side of the tracks. While it may not be as revered in the studio’s canon as, say, any of its princess-themed movies, Lady and the Tramp was, in fact, both Disney’s first feature film — after fourteen before it — based on an entirely original story and its first film in Cinemascope, two pretty significant milestones for the animation giant. Granted, the themes present here are all quite familiar — star-crossed love, notions of class distinction, diamonds in the rough — but in true Disney fashion, the film finds ways to be relatable both to adults and children alike. At 88% on the Tomatometer, it may not be at the top of everyone’s Disney list, but we know there are a lot of you out there who love the movie, so now’s your chance to get the Blu-ray.

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