RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Man of Steel, Turbo, Dexter, and More

Some acclaimed indies, TV collections, and reissues are also available.

by | November 12, 2013 | Comments

We’ve got quite a selection this week, beginning with the mega blockbuster hit Man of Steel, along with DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo, a slew of smaller, critically acclaimed films, and a couple of worthy reissues. On the TV side, there’s the complete series for Showtime’s hit drama Dexter, the first season of Last Tango in Halifax, and a pair of older complete series collections. Read on for the full list:

Man of Steel

56%

When WB announced that Christopher Nolan — who handled his own Batman trilogy with impeccable finesse — had been brought on board their Superman reboot as producer, hopes were high that he’d be able to rein in some of director Zack Snyder’s indulgent tendencies for the better. And with an all-star cast that included Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, and a suitably chiseled Henry Cavill in the title role, the film was shaping up to be a winner. Critics, however, were ultimately split on the end result, and that didn’t sit well with a lot of fans. While most enjoyed the character development and storytelling offered in the first half of the film, it was largely the final act of Man of Steel that had critics either pumping their fists or shaking their heads; some thought the wanton destruction and extended action sequences overwhelming, while others felt it was exactly how a superpowered battle should be handled. Other than that, the film is perhaps more self-serious than some would have liked, but again, there were those who didn’t mind that at all. While it sports a 56% on the Tomatometer, Man of Steel generated a hefty box office take and enough fan enthusiasm to warrant an upcoming sequel that will, of course, feature Batman.

Turbo

67%

The latest offering from DreamWorks Animation is an inspirational tale about a garden snail who dreams of being fast… real fast. Theo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) is a speed freak who calls himself “Turbo” and watches videos of his favorite Indy 500 driver, while the rest of his small snail community is content to spend its days harvesting tomatoes and trying to avoid lawnmowers. When a freak accident changes his genetic code and grants him the gift he’s always wanted, Turbo sets his sights on entering the Indy 500 himself, with the help of some new friends, both snail and human. Though it’s almost par for the course to say this about any animated fare from a big studio these days, Turbo boasts impressive, colorful visuals and a top notch voice cast that includes Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Samuel L. Jackson, and more. At 67% on the Tomatometer, the film only lacks that extra special something to set it apart from its peers; a more creative, original story, perhaps.

Blackfish

98%

A documentary that only a handful of folks were able to see in theaters, Blackfish has earned praise from an overwhelming majority of critics, and if reports are to be believed, even Pixar’s John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton were compelled to revise the ending to their Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory, after seeing Blackfish. The film follows an investigation by director Gabriela Cowperthwaite into the circumstances of the death of Dawn Brancheau, a SeaWorld employee who was killed by Tilikum, the orca she trained. From there, Blackfish continues on to explore the consequences of keeping killer whales in captivity. Critics found the film to be informative and powerful, with Cowperthwaite’s fierce passion shining through. Certified Fresh at 98%, Blackfish is sure to change the way you think about it subject, whether or not you ultimately agree with Cowperthwaite’s central point.

Frances Ha

93%

Noah Baumbach isn’t known as a particularly upbeat director, so critics were pleasantly surprised by the charm of Frances Ha, which he wrote together with its star, Greta Gerwig. Gerwig is Frances Halladay, a woman in her late twenties who’s still trying to figure out her life. Her roommate and best friend decides to move out, she’s not sure where her career as a dance company apprentice is going, and she’s a bit strapped for cash, but none of that stops Frances from living her life joyfully. Filmed in black and white and set to a soundtrack of pop hits and musical references to the French New Wave, Frances Ha endeared itself to critics primarily through Baumbach’s surprisingly sensitive direction and Gerwig’s delightful presence on screen, which earned it a Certified Fresh 93% on the Tomatometer. This is one of those rare films whose first home video release gets a Criterion edition, so they’ve packed it with some decent extras as usual.

I Declare War

71%

Those of us who grew up playing raucous games of make-believe outdoors know what it’s like to get lost in imagination, pretending to be spies, superheroes, explorers, or, as with the kids in I Declare War, soldiers. Such is the premise of the film, in which a group of friends take part in a game of Capture the Flag in the woods. As the game intensifies, the boys (and a girl) suddenly find that their sticks are machine guns, the rocks in their hands are grenades, and the decisions they make could have very real consequences on their friendships. It’s a bit of fantastical wish fulfillment for directors Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson, who bank heavily on the conceit of “children acting like adults,” but according to most critics, it works. Although its novelty wears off after a while, I Declare War benefits from the playful energy of its youthful cast, which helps keep things moving even when its tone wavers.

Dexter – The Complete Series Collection

Showtime’s hit Emmy-nominated drama — based on a series of novels by Jeff Lindsay — lured viewers in with a clever premise, some appropriately dark themes, and propulsive cliffhangers that kept the story moving. If you stuck with Dexter until its final season earlier this year, then you know it’s had its ups and downs, the latter of which culminated in what many thought to be a somewhat underwhelming series finale. That said, it’s a solid show with some interesting characters and enough tension and plot twists to keep things interesting. This full box set includes all eight seasons of the show, plus a bonus disc with over three hours of content, including behind-the-scenes featurettes, a couple of documentaries specific to the show, and a book featuring artwork and photography from throughout the series.

Also available this week:

  • German import Barbara (93%), a Cold War thriller about a woman in East Germany plotting to escape and meet her lover in the West.
  • French-Lebanese import The Attack (90%), an adaptation of a Yasmina Khadra novel about an Israeli Palestinian surgeon whose life is thrown into turmoil when he’s told his wife is the perpetrator of a devastating suicide bombing.
  • David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche (83%), starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch in a dramedy about two men who bond as they paint traffic lines together on a wooded highway.
  • Ip Man: The Final Fight (63%), another martial arts biopic of the legendary Wing Chun master, who this time must deal with the dark underworld of the Triads.
  • Diablo Cody’s directorial debut Paradise (20%), starring Julianne Hough and Octavia Spencer in a comedy about a sheltered country girl who heads to Las Vegas for an adventure.
  • The first season of Last Tango in Halifax (100%) is available.
  • The complete series of 1980s sitcom Family Ties is available on DVD.
  • The complete collection of popular undercover police show The Mod Squad is available in a giant 39-DVD set.
  • A new 25th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of iconic anime Akira (87%) is available, with a wide selection of special features pulled from various previous releases.
  • And lastly, Criterion is also releasing a new Blu-ray/DVD combo for the classic Charlie Chaplin film City Lights (98%), with archival production footage, a 2003 documentary, an excerpt from Chaplin’s 1915 short The Champion, and more attached.

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