New on DVD & Blu-Ray: Transcendence, Heaven Is for Real, and More

The older reissues rule the week, with choices from Billy Wilder and Jacques Demy, as well as a landmark miniseries.

by | July 22, 2014 | Comments

This week on home video, all of the major releases are unfortunately Rotten, including Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, a spiritual book adaptation, Tyler Perry’s latest, and a Schwarzenegger-powered action movie. Lucky for us, there are some worthy pickups in the reissue department, including a couple of films from Billy Wilder, an iconic miniseries, and Criterion releases of an acclaimed Norwegian thriller and a Jacques Demy collection. Read on for details:



Wally Pfister isn’t a household name, but his work as cinematographer on several of Christopher Nolan’s films (including the recent Batman trilogy) has earned him a wealth of accolades, including an Oscar win for 2010’s Inception. Back in April, Pfister debuted his first effort in the director’s chair with Transcendence, which starred Johnny Depp in a sci-fi film about an artificial intelligence specialist named Will Caster (Depp) whose consciousness is uploaded into a computer upon his death. When Caster’s digital persona begins to wield uncontrollable power, the government, anti-technology activists, and his loved ones all must make tough decisions about the future. Critics weren’t kind to Pfister’s debut, noting that the film certainly boasts the cinematographer’s keen visuals but also that the clunky narrative mostly fails to capitalize properly on the film’s far-reaching themes. Special features on the home video release include trailers and a little over 15 minutes of featurettes.

Heaven Is for Real


In 2003, a young boy named Colton Burpo, son of Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo, underwent an emergency appendectomy surgery, during which he claimed — in remarkable detail — to have met dead relatives and sat on the lap of Jesus. His story was made famous in a best-selling book titled Heaven Is for Real, which — despite the controversy surrounding the validity of its claims — went on to inspire not only countless believers, but also a big screen adaptation of the same name, starring Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly as Colton’s parents. Thanks to a strong cast and solid writing, Heaven Is for Real managed to impress critics to the tune of a 46 percent Tomatometer score; those that didn’t like the film felt that it was often too heavy-handed in delivering its message — a fairly common criticism of faith-based films. At the end of the day, it’s a film made for believers, so it won’t convert many souls, but its target audience should find it a more accomplished effort than the norm. Bonus features include a making-of featurette, some deleted scenes, and a short interview with the real Burpo family.

The Single Moms Club


Speaking of heavy-handed, Tyler Perry struck again this year with The Single Moms Club, which refreshingly eschewed his typical family-centric dramedy milieu in favor of a female bonding narrative, but unfortunately relied — as his films often do — on forced melodrama. The story revolves around five single mothers who are tasked with putting together a school fundraiser when their children are caught in an act of vandalism; the women decide to form a support group and eventually become friends, encouraging each other through relationship pitfalls. Critics liked this film even less than Transcendence, rewarding Perry with a 16 percent Tomatometer score due to poorly developed characters and an overreliance on tired clichés. Fans of Perry’s work — especially the female ones — will probably feel right at home here, though.



We still have his Brad Pitt tank movie Fury to look forward to this year, but in the meantime, director David Ayer’s most recent actioner Sabotage arrives on home video this week. Arnold Schwarzenegger continues his shoot-’em-up career alongside Sam Worthington and Terrence Howard in this thriller about a team of DEA agents who rip off a cartel during a raid, only to become the targets of an unknown killer who’s dispatching the agents one by one. Unlike Ayer’s last film, the critically acclaimed End of Watch, Sabotage failed to make waves; despite an otherwise solid performance from Schwarzenegger, the film was simply too bleak and, in the eyes of most critics, pointlessly violent, with narrative turns that seldom justified its brutality. The DVD/Blu-ray release comes with a making-of featurette, a number of deleted scenes, and two alternate endings.



If 1977’s Roots kicked off the American miniseries craze in earnest, 1980’s multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Shōgun helped usher the trend along in grand style. Filmed entirely on location in Japan, Shōgun starred Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune in a six-part adaptation of James Clavell’s eponymous novel about an English sailor named John Blackthorne (Chamberlain) whose ship wrecks on the shores of Japan. Cast into a foreign world where he is both culturally and religiously outcast, Blackthorne befriends a local warlord in the midst of a power struggle (Mifune). Today, Shōgun is hailed as a groundbreaking series, not only for the way it was filmed, but also for raising the nation’s awareness of Japanese culture and for its stark depictions (for the time, anyway) of violence and sexuality on broadcast TV. This week, the series is available for the first time on Blu-ray (presented in 1080p), and it includes a wealth of extras, including more than a dozen making-of featurettes, three historical featurettes covering aspects of Japanese culture as depicted in the series, and a handful of commentary tracks on specific scenes.

Also available this week:

  • Certified Fresh thriller Blue Ruin (96 percent), about a mysterious drifter who returns to his home town for vengeance when he learns the man who murdered his parents is about to be released from prison.
  • GMO OMG (60 percent), a documentary exploring the causes and effects of genetically modified farming.
  • Dom Hemingway (59 percent), starring Jude Law in a dark comedy about a safecracker attempting to collect the debt he’s owed for taking a 12-year prison sentence for his boss.
  • All Cheerleaders Die (48 percent), a horror comedy about a teen who must fight off a group of cheerleaders who have returned from the dead with a vengeance.
  • Justin and the Knights of Valour (8 percent), an animated film about a boy who embarks on a quest to become a knight and protect his kingdom, with voice work from Freddie Highmore and Antonio Banderas.
  • Two Billy Wilder films: the 1957 thriller Witness for the Prosecution (100 percent), starring Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich, and 1970’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (95 percent).
  • And lastly, two Criterion Collection releases: The original 1998 Norwegian thriller Insomnia (97 percent) is available for the first time on Blu-ray, and a collection of Jacques Demy’s films, including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (98 percent), is also available in a DVD/Blu-ray box set.

Tag Cloud

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