RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Dallas Buyers Club, About Time, and Escape Plan

Plus, an Oscar-nominated doc, a unique coming of age story, and an animated dud.

by | February 4, 2014 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a couple of Oscar contenders in the mix, beginning with a biopic that’s got everyone buzzing about the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor category. Then, there’s also a touching look at an artistic NYC couple that’s up for the Best Documentary award, Richard Curtis’s latest romance, a well-received indie drama, and a Thanksgiving-themed animated dud. Read on for the full list:

Dallas Buyers Club

92%

Jean Marc Vallée’s biopic has been racking up so many accolades that it officially needed a completely separate Wikipedia page just to list all of the awards it’s either won or been nominated for. Matthew McConaughey (he’s so hot right now) plays rough-and-tumble electrician Ron Woodroof, who learns in 1985 that he’s somehow contracted HIV. When he discovers that medication is near impossible to come by, he puts aside his homophobic tendencies and works together with a fellow HIV-positive patient (Jared Leto) to acquire experimental drugs for anyone who will pay. McConaughey and Leto have both already earned significant recognition for their work in Dallas Buyers Club; two of the film’s six Oscar nods belong to them, and while McConaughey is a strong contender for Best Actor, a lot of folks have all but gift-wrapped the Best Supporting Actor trophy for Jared Leto. This is a gripping, bittersweet character study that relies almost entirely on its performances, but boy do those performances shine.

About Time

70%

Need something a tad more on the sappy side than Dallas Buyers Club? Why not the latest directorial effort from Richard Curtis, the man who brought us Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’s Diary? Domhnall Gleeson is Tim Lake, a young man who discovers on his 21st birthday that he can travel through time. When Tim meets and falls in love with Mary (Rachel McAdams), he attempts to use his power to woo her, but soon finds that time travel comes with unpredictable consequences. Most critics found About Time a fairly charming movie, which helped it to a 69% on the Tomatometer. Richard Curtis knows a thing or two about sentimental romances, so as long as you aren’t too tripped up by the minor sci-fi element, you’ll get what you came for.

Escape Plan

50%

If Escape Plan had come out during the late 1980s — or even the early 1990s — every male in the 18-45 demo would have lined up around the block to watch it. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger teaming up at the height of their careers in a prison break movie? Fuhgeddaboudit. Unfortunately, it’s 2014 now, and this movie offered just a bit too little and came a tad too late. It’s a valiant attempt to mimic those thrills of yesteryear, and yeah, it’s fun to see them share this much screentime together, so at 49% on the Tomatometer, it got some brownie points for that. Lower your expectations from “Rocky meets The Terminator” to something like “Rocky IV meets The Running Man” and you’ll have some approximation of what its 49% Tomatometer score represents. We still kind of love Rocky IV and The Running Man, but you get what we mean.

Free Birds

20%

It’s been a while since an animated film had the misfortune of sporting the lowest Tomatometer of any movie hitting DVD in a given week, but today, Free Birds holds that honor. The film opened in early November last year, hoping to capitalize on the Thanksgiving time family market, but it just barely earned back its production budget. The film stars the voices of Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson as a pair of turkeys who travel back in time in an effort to alter history and ensure the safety of all future turkeys. Throw in a love story, some hijinks, and a few nods to Back to the Future, and there you go. Despite a voice cast that also included Amy Poehler, Colm Meaney, Keith David, and George Takei, critics didn’t care much for the film, calling it an uninspired, sometimes offensive story with lackluster animation. At 18% on the Tomatometer, Free Birds is kind of a… Well, you know.

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete

84%

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete features folks like Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Mackie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Jeffrey Wright, but the film belongs to Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon, the film’s titular young heroes. Mister (Brooks), a 14-year-old living in New York City, is trying to convince his deadbeat mother to get a job when the police come knocking and take her away. When his 9-year-old friend Pete (Dizon) finds himself in the same situation, the hungry pair spend their summer roaming the neighborhood in a search for food, trying to stay out of trouble and avoid child protective services. This coming of age drama is a bit different than anything director George Tillman Jr. (Notorious, Men of Honor) has done before, but thanks to a couple of strong, earnest performances from its leads and some sensitive storytelling, Mister & Pete has earned a 90% on the Tomatometer, making it his best-reviewed film.

Cutie and the Boxer

95%

One of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Documentary, Cutie and the Boxer depicts the relationship between New York artist Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko. A native of Japan, Shinohara emigrated to the US in the late 1960s to take part in the NYC art scene, which is when he met Noriko, an art student 22 years his junior. Now 80, Shinohara attempts to reinvigorate his career with his boxing painting, but Noriko has developed a voice of her own in a series of drawings — “Cutie and Bullie” — depicting her life with her husband, and wants to be recognized as an artist in her own right. Critics roundly applauded Cutie and the Boxer as a fascinating portrait of a unique couple that poignantly explores both the nature of art and of love. Certified Fresh at 95%, this is a well crafted, complex documentary that’s equal parts touching and intriguing.

Also available this week:

  • Mother of George (92%), a drama about a Nigerian immigrant couple living in NYC who are having trouble trying to conceive.
  • The Banshee Chapter (76%), a thriller — purportedly based on real testimony and documents — about a woman who chases a government cover-up of chemical research when one of her friends goes missing.
  • Blood Brother (74%), a documentary about a young American man who stumbled upon a group of HIV-infected children while traveling and promptly decided to stay with them.
  • A Case of You (40%) starring Justin Long and Evan Rachel Wood in a rom-com about a struggling writer who must keep up a facade after wooing a girl with a falsified Facebook profile.
  • Romeo and Juliet (21%) starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth in a modernized adaptation of the Shakespeare classic.
  • Baggage Claim (14%), starring Paula Patton and Taye Diggs in a comedy about a flight attendant who orchestrates “coincidental” meetings with exes in order to determine if one of them was Mr. Right.
  • The ten-part BBC miniseries The White Queen (75%), an historical drama centered on three women scheming to become the Queen of England.

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