RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Prisoners, Elysium, Kick-Ass 2, and More

Plus, One Direction, The Lone Ranger, Percy Jackson, some TV, and some smaller releases.

by | December 17, 2013 | Comments

We’ve got a lot of big wide releases coming on home video this week, starting with a sci-fi film with a message, a child abduction thriller, and a violent comic book sequel. Then we’ve got the second film in a young adult adaptation franchise, a rock doc, a blockbuster Western, and still more. Lastly, we’ve also got some notable TV releases to talk about, so read on for the full list:

Prisoners

81%

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has got a firm grip on the thriller genre, evidenced by his previous films Polytechnique and the Oscar-nominated Incendies, and he continues his fine work in Prisoners. Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard star as Keller Dover and Franklin Birch, two old friends whose daughters go missing after their families celebrate Thanksgiving dinner together. Though the local police are quick to jump on the case, Keller is dissatisfied with the slow progress of Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), and desperate to save his girl, Keller employs extreme measures in hopes of finding his daughter himself. Prisoners earned considerable acclaim from critics, who found the story thought provoking if somewhat disturbing and praised Villeneuve’s ability to sustain tension. Certified Fresh at 81%, Prisoners is a fairly gripping thriller that’s aided by a strong supporting cast that includes Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Paul Dano, and Melissa Leo.

Elysium

65%

Back in 2009, Neill Blomkamp blew everyone away with what he was able to accomplish with a relatively small budget and a bit of creativity, and the success of District 9 ensured we’d be seeing more of Blomkamp’s work. Enter Elysium, Blomkamp’s second feature film, and another sci-fi actioner with a message. The year is 2154, and society has been split into the haves, who live lavish lives on an orbiting space station called Elysium, and the have-nots, who toil away on a brutal, overpopulated Earth. When lowly factory worker Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) contracts radiation poisoning, he surreptitiously secures passage to Elysium to receive medical treatment, setting into motion a revolution of the lower classes. Critics weren’t as impressed with Elysium as they were with District 9, but they still felt the film was a solid effort from a promising director. At 69% on the Tomatometer, this is a competent combination of action and social commentary that should satisfy most looking in search of a sci-fi fix.

Kick-Ass 2

32%

2010’s Kick-Ass did everything it needed to do to set itself up for a sequel; it covered the origins of its primary heroes, gave them a bad guy to fight, and introduced a new villain in its final moments. Kick-Ass 2, again based on the comic of the same name, unfortunately suffers from the sophomore slump. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) are attempting to live normal high school lives, after having inspired scores of new masked heroes, while Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) fully embraces his new identity as the first supervillain, calling himself The Motherf***er. Obsessed with revenge on Kick-Ass, The Motherf***er assembles a crew of ruthless killers, forcing Kick-Ass to join up with other heroes to take him down. Kick-Ass 2 comes in at 29% on the Tomatometer, with critics unconvinced by its attempts to mimic the formula that made its predecessor a hit. There is a certain balance to be struck between graphic violence and ironic humor, and this film largely fails to achieve it.

The Lone Ranger

31%

Gore Verbinski and his Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp reunited yet again for what essentially amounted to a superhero origin story set in the Wild West; unfortunately, The Lone Ranger far fell short of POTC or Rango. Armie Hammer is John Reid, a Texas lawyer-turned-lawman who’s gunned down with his brother by a ruthless bandit. When Reid is awakened by rogue Comanche Tonto (Depp), he dons a mask and sets out to exact justice. Critics conceded that both Hammer and Depp are as likable as ever, but they’re trapped in a bland story that’s often overwhelmed by stale, bombastic action sequences. At 31% on the Tomatometer, The Lone Ranger wastes its talented cast — which includes Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, an Helena Bonham Carter — on a mediocre actioner that certainly could have been a lot better.

One Direction: This Is Us

63%

We’ve already seen relatively well-received docs on the likes of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, so why not One Direction, the immensely popular UK boy band who first rose to fame on the reality talent program The X-Factor? One Direction: This Is Us is a glimpse into the lives of Harry Styles, Liam Payne, and the rest of the group, beginning before they appeared on The X-Factor and including live performance footage from London’s O2 Arena. Naturally, the film will appeal mostly to existing fans, but critics say it’s not a bad rock doc in general, thanks to director Morgan Spurlock’s (Super Size Me) experienced hand. Feel free to skip it if you’re not into their music, but if you happen to come across it playing on cable or something, you could probably do worse.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

42%

The young adult novel-based 2010 film Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but it did make over $200 million, so why not keep going, right? If you’re looking for something original, though, you may want to look elsewhere. Logan Lerman reprises his role as the titular half-breed, the son of Poseidon and a human mother, who finds himself thrust into the world of Greek demigods once again when their training camp’s protective barrier is corrupted and they come under attack. Percy learns he is part of a prophecy that states only he has the power to save Olympus, and he sets out on a quest to fulfill his destiny. Despite the addition of names like Nathan Fillion and Stanley Tucci, Sea of Monsters underwhelmed critics more than its predecessor, earning a mere 39% on the Tomatometer. The material here is all too reminiscent of previous — and far better — YA adaptations, so don’t expect to be surprised by anything if you’re outside the film’s tween demographic.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

77%

You definitely can’t say that Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck don’t choose interesting material. Mara is next scheduled to appear in Spike Jonze’s Her, and she starred earlier this year in Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, while Affleck is just coming off last week’s Out of the Furnace. In Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Affleck and Mara play opposite each other as a criminal couple Bob and Ruth, respectively, who are split apart when Bob is sent to jail for a shooting committed by Ruth. Unable to bear the separation, Bob breaks out and makes his way back to reunite with Ruth and the daughter he has yet to meet. This is director David Lowery’s debut feature, and critics say it’s a strong, visually poetic effort that owes a great debt to Hollywood films of the 1970s. Certified Fresh at 81%, it’s a somewhat familiar romantic crime drama that’s made better by strong performances and a confident director.

Also available this week:

  • Museum Hours (93%), a drama that chronicles the strong connection between a museum guard and a visitor in Vienna.
  • Cuban import Una Noche (81%), about a man braving the ocean to flee to Miami after he’s accused of assault.
  • Renny Harlin’s Devil’s Pass (53%), a found footage horror film about a group of American students who travel to Russia to investigate the eerie true story of the the Dyatlov Pass Incident.
  • Luc Besson’s The Family (29%), starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in an action-comedy about a mafia boss who’s relocated to France via the Witness Protection Program.
  • Season 4 of Justified (100%).
  • Season 3 of Showtime’s Shameless (100%).
  • Season 7 of Burn Notice (71%).
  • And a special release of Psych: The Musical, which was the 15th episode of season 7.

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