RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Tron: Legacy and Little Fockers

Plus, the latest Narnia film, a gay rom-com, and a Scorsese classic on Blu-Ray.

by | April 6, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, there are a lot of HD re-releases of older films, like Arthur (presumably in anticipation of this week’s remake), The People vs. Larry Flynt, Much Ado About Nothing, and Mystic Pizza, but they’re mostly pretty standard Blu-Ray transfers. Instead we chose to focus on the new releases, like the long-anticipated sequel to Tron, the latest Narnia film, and a little-seen indie rom-com starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. Then, we’ve also got the third installment of the Focker family follies and a Jack Abramoff biopic, of sorts, as well a Stanley Kubrick-Steven Spielberg collaboration, a critically acclaimed kid flick, and a Martin Scorsese classic on Blu-Ray. Check out the full list now!

Tron: Legacy

51%

The original 1982 Tron was a technological marvel, showcasing the immense potential of computer-generated imagery and subsequently wooing a whole generation of techgeeks to its side. Sometime in the early ’90s, rumors began surfacing that there were concrete plans to film a sequel to the cult classic, but that didn’t become a reality until Tron: Legacy opened in December of 2010. Tron: Legacy revolves around Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges, reprising his role from the original Tron), who reenters the computer world known as The Grid, only to reunite with his missing father and help defeat a rogue program who’s taken over. Tron: Legacy is packed with crisp, imaginative, and immersive visuals of the highest caliber, and an excellent soundtrack scored by Daft Punk helps to set the mood perfectly, but there are some dry spots in the story, and critics felt the plot could have been put together a little more tightly. You can get it this week on DVD and Blu-Ray, and for the hardcore fans, there’s even a five-disc special edition housed in a collectible Identity Disc.

Little Fockers

9%

2000’s Meet the Parents was a huge hit, matching the misunderstood everyman persona of Ben Stiller with the terrifyingly imposing presence of Robert De Niro. Then came Meet the Fockers, which gave audiences more of the same but met with poor reviews, due to its recycled humor. And that brings us to last year’s Little Fockers, which sees the young Fockers (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo) raising twins and assuming head-of-the-family roles. More hijinks ensue, but again, critics were displeased with the “been there, done that” routine, which fails to make use of the talented cast. With this installment of the Focker franchise, the Tomatometer scores have dropped drastically with each successive film, going from a Certified Fresh 84% to 34% to Little Fockers‘s dismal 9% rating. The last movie also made the least amount of money, so if there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that originality does count for something with audiences. But if you really just want to see Ben Stiller bruised and beaten in another comedy of errors, this will be right up your alley.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

50%

After two admired (if not loved) installments, the Narnia series hit choppy waters with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Despite a typically impressive cast and solid-to-spectacular special effects, Dawn Treader failed to wow the critics, who found it to be the slackest movie in the franchise so far, with and underwhelming sense of conflict or awe and a sluggish pace. Lucy and Edward are back in Narnia, making a nautical journey with Prince Caspian where scary sea-creatures and bands of heretofore-unknown people are encountered along the way. It’s decent fantasy fare, but little more, said the pundits, especially given the high standards of C.S. Lewis’s beloved books. If you’re a fan, the blu-ray set comes loaded with special features, including tons of making-of and supplementary featurettes, deleted scenes, an animated short, and much more.

I Love You Phillip Morris

71%

Despite the fact that it was well reviewed (Certified Fresh at 70%), featured a high profile cast (Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor), and told a based-on-true-events story, I Love You Phillip Morris only opened in 100 theaters and took in just $2 million in US box office receipts. One could argue that its limited success had something to do with the story itself: a happily married police officer (Carrey) comes to the realization that he’s gay, begins living an extravagant lifestyle that eventually leads him to become a conman, falls in love with another man (McGregor) in jail, and thereafter proceeds to get himself incarcerated in hopes of spending more time with his love. Critics felt that the film was consistently sweet and funny, and featured one of Jim Carrey’s finest performances, even if there were some other flaws. A gay rom-com may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a good movie is still a good movie, and those who are open-minded may just find themselves pleasantly surprised by this one.

Casino Jack

39%

Not to be confused with the similarly titled Casino Jack and the United States of Money, a documentary that also opened last year, Casino Jack is actually a biopic about the same man, namely Washington D.C. lobbyist and businessman Jack Abramoff. For those who’ve forgotten, Abramoff was the man at the center of a large corruption investigation that involved fraud, conspiracy, and tax evasion in 2006, and reached as high as the White House. Casino Jack stars Kevin Spacey as Abramoff and chronicles his emergence as a high level con artist and all around shady character, with supporting turns for Barry Pepper, Jon Lovitz, and Kelly Preston. While critics felt that Spacey was impressive in the smooth-talking role, they also felt the film was uneven and sloppy, making the mistake of taking a comedic angle and then failing to deliver the laughs. It’s an interesting take on the scandal, and one worth exploring if your curiosity demands it, but at 35% on the Tomatometer, you might just be better off with the other movie mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence – Blu-Ray

75%

A.I. Artificial Intelligence was one of those long-gestating passion projects that, like James Cameron’s Avatar, needed modern technology to catch up to its director’s vision. Unlike Cameron, however, Stanley Kubrick did not live to see his film come to fruition. After he saw what his friend Steven Spielberg did with 1993’s Jurassic Park, Kubrick handed the reins of A.I. over to him, and what resulted was a fascinating sci-fi story that blended Kubrick’s chilly bleakness with Spielberg’s warm-hearted optimism. The plot, based on the Biran Aldiss short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long,” centers on a young robot boy (Haley Joel Osment) programmed to feel human emotions who embarks on a quest to find some way to become human. Critics felt the combination of Kubrick-Spielberg sensibilities to be a bit odd, but found A.I. compelling and fascinating nonetheless, awarding it a Certified Fresh 73% on the Tomatometer. It arrives on Blu-Ray this week, with a number of bonus featurettes on the creation of the film, but the absence of any commentary track is a bit curious. Though Spielberg is sometimes criticized for sentimentalizing Kubrick’s original vision, and the ending is an oft-debated topic, A.I. nevertheless delivers some thought-provoking insights on the nature of humanity, and fans will be suitably pleased with the Blu-Ray.

Babe – Blu-Ray

97%

Looking for a family film that doesn’t condescend to its audience, doesn’t entirely rely on a trite gimmick, and doesn’t limit itself to flashy, soulless exhibitions for the ADHD set? They’re pretty few and far between these days, aren’t they? Then try going back to 1995’s Babe, based on the Dick King-Smith novel The Sheep-Pig, about a piglet raised by a sheepdog who aspires to perform the same duty for the farmer that brought him home. Critics enthusiastically praised the film, calling it a gem of a children’s movie that oozes with charm, imagination, wit, and above all, good storytelling. It was so impressive, in fact, that it was nominated for a whopping seven academy awards, including Best Picture (and this was before there were ten nominees, mind you), Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (for James Cromwell as Farmer Hoggett). Though the new Blu-Ray is a bit slim on extra features, the HD transfer is crisp, and honestly, Babe is the kind of movie any parent can be happy about sharing with their kids.

Taxi Driver – Blu-Ray

96%

What can we say? This is one of the greatest American masterpieces by one of the greatest American directors. Most who haven’t seen the film still at least know of it and, generally, what it’s about, and even those who don’t know what it’s about have certainly seen it parodied or emulated in one place or another. This week, the Martin Scorsese classic starring Robert De Niro in the role of a lifetime gets a proper Blu-Ray release, and by all accounts, it is very, very good. Since we aren’t completely heartless, and for the benefit of the aforementioned who don’t know the story, here’s a quick recap: Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a depressed and socially stilted war veteran who drives a taxi in New York; frustrated by what he sees on his routes in the city, Travis begins to transform into a vigilante until a violent encounter one night changes everything. The film is a modern classic, and this Blu-Ray release not only looks and sounds great, but it also features a wealth of extras, most of them in HD. If you need just one more reason to pick this up, let it be the price: just around $13 at most places we’ve checked.

Written by Ryan Fujitani and Tim Ryan

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