RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Brave, Savages, and The Watch

Plus, an acclaimed doc, a couple of new Criterions, and a classic epic on Blu-ray.

by | November 13, 2012 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a pretty big variety to choose from. The best we have to offer ranges between a solid Pixar effort, an engrossing documentary, and a few classics. Then we have a few films that left critics largely undecided, and lastly there’s at least one misfire that’s at least an interesting misfire. See below for the full list!

Brave

78%

The pressure we place on Pixar to continue churning out winners is almost unfair, even if they have proven themselves quite capable of doing so. While their latest outing, Brave, didn’t score among their top efforts, it still proves they know how to put together a solid movie. Kelly Macdonald voices Merida, an impetuous Scottish princess whose defiance of age-old traditions causes unrest in her land. In an effort to right her wrongs, Merida bargains with an old witch (Julie Walters), enacting a curse that tests her… bravery. Beautiful animation (people loved that hair of hers) and a strong voice cast help Brave overcome a relatively standard fairy tale en route to a Certified Fresh 78% on the Tomatometer. It probably won’t go down as a Pixar “classic,” but it’s certainly worthy of the canon.

Savages

50%

Oliver Stone is best known for his controversial and often politically charged films (see: JFK, Comandante, W.), but every once in a while he’ll helm a project just for fun, or so it would seem. Savages is one of those projects, a lurid thriller about drugs and gangs with big name stars chewing the scenery. Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) run a profitable weed business in Southern California; when they refuse to bow to the wishes of a Mexican drug cartel looking to move north, the cartel kidnaps their lady friend (Blake Lively), and so begins a small scale war. This is all grimy stuff, and the cast is padded out with names like Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Demian Bichir, but critics had trouble connecting with the characters through all the mayhem; as such, it split opinions right down the middle at 51%.

The Watch

16%

We want to be sensitive here, so we’ll start by saying the Trayvon Martin shooting back in February was tragic and heartbreaking. Part of the natural response to the event was to scrutinize neighborhood watch groups across the country, and so it goes without saying that The Watch — then known as Neighborhood Watch — had to call a very public audible in its marketing campaign, which had gotten underway literally just days after the shooting. Instead of focusing on the comedic foursome who comprised “the watch” (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade), the campaign shifted to focus on its story, that of a suburban alien invasion and the regular dudes who rise up against it. Unfortunately, according to critics, it wasn’t the marketing that doomed the film; most found it uncommonly crude and vulgar, lazily written, and scarcely as funny as it should have been, considering its cast. You may take your chances if you wish, but at a measly 17% on the Tomatometer, you’re going to have to love watching Vaughn and Hill ad-lib the script.

The Queen of Versailles

95%

Regardless who won last week’s presidential race, it was probably a smart move to release this film on home video just a week later. Touching on economic themes that reverberated throughout both major campaigns in different ways, The Queen of Versailles is not only a portrait of “The American Dream,” but also an examination of what it looks like when it’s a little out of control. The subjects of this documentary are timeshare mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie as they begin construction on what would be the largest domestic home in the US. Suddenly, as economic crisis hits the country, the Siegels are faced with new challenges that will change their perspectives and their lifestyles. Critics overwhelmingly found The Queen of Versailles an engrossing family portrait that manages to treat its subjects with compassion, even as it marvels at their extravagance. Certified Fresh at 95%, it’s a rags-to-riches-to-rags story that might just surprise you.

Vamps

56%

If you thought to yourself, “Wait, didn’t this movie just open in theaters a little more than a week ago?” you’d only be partially correct: Vamps opened in A theater on November 2. Also, unless you’re an avid reader of Critics Consensus with a photographic memory, or a huge Amy Heckerling fan, why would you know that? Yes, it’s a sign of the times when the director of Fast Times at Ridgemont High reteams with her Clueless star Alicia Silverstone to do a rom-com about modern-day vampires, and it’s released on home video a week after it opens in a theater. For what it’s worth, critics didn’t think it was all bad; while most agreed that Vamps doesn’t take many chances with its material, some felt the humor landed more often than not, and others claimed it felt too much like a sitcom. At 50%, it might work for you if you’re a fan of Heckerling’s style.

Trilogy of Life – Criterion Collection

98%

Italian polymath Pier Paolo Pasolini is probably best known on these shores for the surprisingly devout The Gospel According to St. Matthew and the notoriously depraved Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. In between those successes, however, the director adapted a trio of folkloric works to the big screen; know as the Trilogy of Life, Pasolini’s The Decameron (1970), The Canterbury Tales (1971), and Arabian Nights (1974) are subversive, bawdy, and darkly humorous takes on a trio of literary classics that satirize modern mores with visual flair. Criterion packs all three into a sparkling new Blu-ray set, one that includes tons of archival material, including documentaries about Pasolini and the films, interviews with cast and crew members, and deleted scenes.

Weekend – Criterion Collection

93%

One of French iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard’s career high-water marks, this alternately surreal and blackly funny movie brings any sense of ’60s optimism to a (car) crashing halt, charting the ill-fated adventure of a blithely bourgeois couple as they journey deep into the backwoods of a society teetering on the brink of apocalypse. The good times begin with a legendary, seemingly endless pile up of wrecked cars on a motorway (a tracking shot every bit as great as its reputation) and descend into society’s metaphorical (and literal) cannibalism, with Godard bruisingly acerbic and playful in equal measure. (“End of Cinema / End of World,” he proclaims, never one for understatement.) Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition features a digital restoration, a new video essay and archival interviews, plus vintage interviews with Godard and an essay booklet. Essential stuff.

Lawrence of Arabia 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

94%

The Best Picture winner of 1962, Lawrence of Arabia is David Lean’s masterpiece, and a film that practically defines the term “epic.” That said, it’s also a movie you absolutely, positively shouldn’t watch on your cell phone. If you can’t catch it on a big screen, your next best bet is probably the Lawrence of Arabia (50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition), an exhaustive three- Blu-ray-disc set that includes a new transfer of the film and oodles of goodies for cinephilpes. Featuring interviews with star Peter O’Toole, fans Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, plus making-of featurettes, documentaries, and never-before-seen deleted scenes, the Collector’s Edition also includes a coffee table book and a CD of the film’s score.

Also available this week:

Written by Ryan Fujitani, Tim Ryan, and Luke Goodsell

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