RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: BAFTA Winner Skyfall and The Sessions

Plus, a messy martial arts flick, a coming-of-age film, a hard-hitting doc, and more.

by | February 12, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we have the newly crowned Outstanding British Film BAFTA winner Skyfall, as well as an Oscar-nominated Helen Hunt performance in The Sessions. Then, we’ve got a couple of highly rated indie dramas, a powerful documentary on bullying, RZA’s ambitious kung fu flick, and a subpar horror sequel. See below for the full list!

Skyfall

92%

Though a revamped 007 came roaring back in 2006’s Casino Royale, most found its follow-up, Quantum of Solace, a little lackluster. Luckily, arthouse director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) stepped in to raise the bar once again, and fresh off a BAFTA award for Best British Film (as well as the Golden Tomato Awards for best-reviewed UK film and best Action/Adventure), Skyfall gets its home video release this week. Daniel Craig returns as James Bond, who springs into action when a former agent (Javier Bardem, in full-on creep mode) emerges from the shadows to take his revenge on M (Judi Dench) and the agency he feels betrayed him. With its clever nods to classic Bond elements, its action-packed script, and some effective emotional beats, Skyfall impressed critics to the tune of a Certified Fresh 92%. It should please anyone looking for a good actioner, and 007 fans will be left looking forward to the next installment.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

85%

If the Audience Score for The Perks of Being a Wallflower (92%) is any indication, several of you should be happy to learn it’ll be available this week. Stephen Chbosky directed this adaptation of his own coming-of-age novel, which stars Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Hermione… er, Emma Watson as a trio of high school friends learning to navigate their adolescent years. Smart but reclusive Charlie (Lerman) begins his freshman year in a rut until he befriends senior Sam (Watson) and her brother Patrick (Miller), who realize Charlie has few friends and resolve to include him in their group. They open up to each other about things they’ve experienced in their lives, and Charlie develops a crush on Sam, which complicates the new relationships he forms. Critics found Perks a sincere and heartfelt portrayal of teenage life that benefits from effective performances from its trio of leads, and it’s Certified Fresh at 85%.

The Sessions

91%

The Sessions premiered at Sundance last year and garnered such high praise — it won an Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting — that Fox Searchlight snatched it up and released it in October. Based on the writings of paralyzed California poet and journalist Mark O’Brien, the film stars John Hawkes as a 38-year-old man in an iron lung who decides he wants to lose his virginity. Due to his physical impairments, however, he must enlist the help of a professional sex therapist (Helen Hunt). Costarring William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Rhea Perlman, and Adam Arkin, The Sessions has already gotten lots of attention on the awards circuit for its superb acting, most notably for Hawkes and Hunt, both of whom are still up for Indie Spirit Awards and the latter of whom is nominated for this year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Certified Fresh at 94%, The Sessions is a tender, funny, mature look at sex that benefits from some powerhouse acting.

The Man with the Iron Fists

51%

Sometimes, passion just isn’t enough. For example, any fan of the Wu-Tang Clan knows its founder and leader, RZA, has always worn his love of old kung fu flicks like a badge of honor (I mean, just look at the name of his rap group). After working with Quentin Tarantino on the soundtracks for the Kill Bill films, RZA was finally afforded the opportunity to write, direct, and star in his own kung fu flick; unfortunately, the results left many scratching their heads. The film tells the tale of a 19th Century American slave (RZA) who has escaped to China to become the local blacksmith in a town ruled by a traitorous warrior clan. When various other clans come to the blacksmith to forge them weapons for a revolt and it becomes clear war is imminent, the blacksmith teams up with unlikely heroes to exact justice. Costarring Lucy Liu, Russell Crowe, Jamie Chung, Rick Yune, Byron Mann, and Gordon Liu, The Man with the Iron Fists was criticized for its messy storytelling and haphazard editing, but some critics felt RZA’s clear affection for the genre went a long way towards making the film palatable. As such, it sits exactly at 50%, so if you don’t mind a bit of muddled plot, you might find this a bloody guilty pleasure.

Bully

85%

Bullying has made a lot of headlines in recent years, and filmmakers have tried to tackle the subject in the past, but last year we got a pretty effective documentary on the subject from Lee Hirsch (Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony), who himself admits to being bullied as a child. The film follows five bullied students (and their families) at high schools in five different states over the course of the 2009-2010 school year, capturing their lives in intimate detail both at school and at home and set against the backdrop of two instances when bullying lead to suicide. There was some hoopla in the US over the film’s rating, with some arguing that its initial R rating would prevent those who would benefit most from watching it; a compromise was eventually reached, and its rating was lowered to an acceptable PG-13. Critics found Bully a gracefully filmed but hard-hitting depiction of peer abuse, even if it felt a bit one-sided, and gave it a Certified Fresh 86% on the Tomatometer. If you can stomach some of the strong language, this might be worth watching with appropriately aged children.

Robot & Frank

86%

Another indie that impressed a few folks last year at Sundance, Robot and Frank is an odd little gem that can only be described as a meditation on aging and ethics set in the near future… with robots that pull heists. Not a common pairing of themes, if you ask us, but critics found the film touching and effective. Frank Langella plays the titular Frank, an ex-thief battling dementia whose grown son decides to gift him a robotic companion in lieu of placing Frank in a nursing home. While Frank protests at first, he changes his mind when he realizes his robot friend is not programmed for morals and possesses some skills that make him the perfect heist companion… until this lands Frank in some hot water. Critics found much to like in Langella’s brilliantly subdued performance, and the story held enough little surprises to earn it a Certified Fresh 86% on the Tomatometer.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

10%

Silent Hill has become a hugely successful video game in the “survival horror” genre, spawning several installments and even a feature film back in 2006. The big screen adaptation didn’t receive very favorable reviews, but it’s got its share of defenders who call it one of the better video game-based films to make it to theaters. Last year, we got a sequel to that film, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, which was based on the third installment of the game, and critics were none too impressed. Revelation picks up 18 years after the first film; young Sharon Da Silva (Jodelle Ferland) and her father Christopher (Sean Bean) have changed their names and identities to avoid detection by the cult who almost tore their family apart in Silent Hill. Now, however, members of that cult have tracked them down and kidnapped Christopher, prompting Sharon (now known as Heather Mason and played by Adelaide Clemens) to return to the wickedly creepy former mining town to rescue her father and discover the truth about her identity. Critics blasted the film, calling its characterizations weak and its plot both incomprehensible and short on scares. Tellingly, Revelation hasn’t rallied the same support of defenders that its predecessor did.

Also available this week:

  • Internet slasher flick Smiley (16%).
  • The Criterion Collection DVD/Blu-ray release of The Kid with a Bike (96%).
  • Possibly in conjunction with the release of Skyfall, several classic James Bond films appear to be getting individual Blu-ray releases this week, including Octopussy, GoldenEye, You Only Live Twice, and more.

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