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New on DVD & Blu-Ray: Birdman, The Theory of Everything, and More

by | February 16, 2015 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a few Oscar contenders, a controversial comedy, an acclaimed documentary, a wildly popular HBO series, and a number of other notable choices. Read on for details:

Birdman

91%

Unless you’ve been completely oblivious to all of the awards season buzz, you’re probably already well familiar with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. Featuring a powerhouse performance from Michael Keaton, the film centers on a washed-up actor named Riggan Thomson (Keaton) who, eager to reestablish himself, is on the verge of making his Broadway debut. But his past continues to haunt Riggan, and he may be slowly losing his grip on reality. Certified Fresh at 92 percent, Birdman has already won numerous awards, and it’s currently nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, among others.

The Theory of Everything

80%

Another film that caused quite a stir this past year was James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything, which features another remarkable lead performance. Eddie Redmayne plays famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, beginning with his early days at Cambridge — where he meets his first wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and is diagnosed with ALS. The film depicts Hawking’s relationship with Wilde, as well as the progression of his condition through the years, and both Redmayne and Jones earned Oscar nominations for their superb work. Certified Fresh at 79 percent on the Tomatometer, The Theory of Everything does hit some familiar biopic notes, but the film’s subject is such a fascinating man — and its performers are so good — that it succeeds pleasantly.

The Interview

51%

Maybe you weren’t paying much attention to all the awards gossip, but you probably at least caught something about Sony being hacked late last year allegedly by the North Koreans? The impetus for the digital invasion — so the story goes — was this comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, in which a talk show personality who’s been invited to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un is approached by the CIA and asked to assassinate him. Apparently, North Korea didn’t take it so well, but according to about half the critics, there wasn’t much worth talking about anyway. At 53 percent on the Tomatometer, The Interview isn’t the strongest collaboration between Franco and Rogen, and it’ll probably be remembered more for the controversy that accompanied it.

Games of Thrones: Season Four

It’s unlikely you’ll be interested in picking up season four of Game of Thrones if you’re not already a fan, and if you’re picking up season four, it’s also unlikely you haven’t already seen all of it. But for those of you who like to own physical copies of your favorite shows, and for those of you who are interested in the bonus features you can’t get on HBO Go, your wait is over. Season five will begin airing in April, so that gives you plenty of time to rewatch all the darkest, most exciting, and most heartbreaking moments from last season and check out all the extras. Season four is available on DVD and Blu-ray this week.

Also available this week:

  • Best Animated Feature Film Oscar nominee The Tale of Princess Kaguya (100 percent), a Certified Fresh Japanese animated adaptation of a famous folk tale about a woodcutter who finds a young princess inside a bamboo stalk and raises her as his own child.
  • Life Itself (97 percent), the Certified Fresh documentary that chronicles the life of celebrated film critic Roger Ebert.
  • Tommy Lee Jones’s The Homesman (81 percent), starring Jones and Hilary Swank in a Certified Fresh western about a woman who hires a drifter to help her transport three suffering women across Nebraska.
  • St. Vincent (77 percent), starring Bill Murray and Naomi Watts in a comedy about a curmudgeon who forms an unlikely friendship with a 12-year-old he’s been charged with babysitting.
  • V/H/S: Viral (38 percent), an anthology horror film sequel that focuses on home video footage taken over the course of a single night.
  • The Farrelly brothers’ Dumb and Dumber To (29 percent), starring Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey in a 20-years-in-the-making sequel to the 1994 comedy hit about two dimwits on a road trip.

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