RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Impossible and Gangster Squad

Plus, dinosaurs in 3D, and earnest heartland drama, and a failed spoof.

by | April 23, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got at least one Certified Fresh drama that earned some Academy Awards attention, as well as a crime thriller with a high profile cast. Then, there’s also the 3D rerelease of a certain dino movie, a topical drama, and a bad spoof. See below for the full list.

The Impossible

81%

When the 2004 tsunami hit Southeast Asia just after Christmas, a Spanish doctor named Maria Belon was vacationing in Thailand with her husband and three sons. Though the devastating tidal wave separated her family, both Belon and her husband miraculously survived and struggled to locate and reunite their family. The Impossible is essentially Belon’s story, except that it stars Naomi Watts as English doctor Maria Bennet and Ewan McGregor as her Scottish husband Henry. Belon herself reportedly chose Watts to portray her in the film and worked closely with her to prepare; it paid off in the form of a Best Actress nomination for Watts at this year’s Oscars, among other accolades. In fact, Certified Fresh at 81%, The Impossible garnered lots of praise specifically for its acting and for Juan Antonio Bayona’s direction. It’s tense, terrifying, and difficult to watch at times, but critics agree it’s equally difficult to pull yourself away from it.

Gangster Squad

30%

Ruben Fleischer was probably looking to bounce back after his sophomore effort, 30 Minutes or Less, failed to wow critics. To that end, he secured an all-star cast and crafted a highly stylized period action thriller set in 1950s Los Angeles about a group of ruthless cops tasked with bringing down Mickey Cohen’s burgeoning criminal empire. Unfortunately, Gangster Squad suffered a setback when one of its crucial scenes mirrored the Aurora movie theater shooting, prompting a reshoot and a delayed release. Now, it’s tough to say whether or not that scene would have made the difference here, but with a cast that included Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and a slew of other great actors, it’s difficult to fathom how exactly the film ended up with a 32% Tomatometer score. Critics simply found the story was too derivative, too full of flat characters, and too unnecessarily violent to be redeemed by its impressive cast and visual flair. Gangster Squad might do for a relatively familiar and superficial shoot-’em-up, but don’t expect much more.

Jurassic Park 3D

92%

There probably isn’t a whole lot more to be said about Steven Spielberg’s dino blockbuster that hasn’t already been covered since its original release back in 1993. Presumably to drum up interest in a new generation of moviegoers for the franchise’s anticipated fourth installment, due out next summer, Universal released a 3D update of the first film just two weeks ago, and though it’s still in theaters now, you can pick up the Blu-ray tomorrow when it drops. This new release features an all-new Spielberg-approved video transfer (and, of course, the 3D), but its only new bonus feature is a nine-minute look at the conversion process; otherwise, all the extras are the same as the Blu-ray release we got two years ago. Twenty years on, Jurassic Park is still a fun watch, packed with thrills and groundbreaking special effects, but if you already own the 2011 Blu-ray, the 3D is really the only thing setting this one apart.

Promised Land

53%

Based on a story by Dave Eggers, Promised Land was written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski — who also star opposite each other, along with Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook — and helmed by Gus Van Sant, so it also sports a decent pedigree. Despite all of that and a timely topic (hydraulic fracturing aka “fracking”), the film split critics right down the middle. Damon is Steve Butler, a successful salesman for an energy company who is sent to rural Pennsylvania in order to secure drilling rights in the area. When a local schoolteacher (Holbrook) and an environmental activist (Krasinski) object, Butler must decide what he stands for, once and for all. Critics found Promised Land to be an earnest attempt to examine a serious issue and agreed that its cast was likable, but a good number of them also left the theater unsatisfied with its bland characterizations and turns of plot near the end.

A Haunted House

9%

Perhaps distraught over the decline of his Scary Movie franchise, Marlon Wayans lent his (incredibly underused) talents to A Haunted House, a slapsticky spoof of the Paranormal Activity movies and others of its ilk. Wayans and Essence Atkins play Malcolm and Kisha, a couple who move into a new house only to be terrorized by mysterious forces. As it turns out, it’s Kisha who’s harboring a paranormal entity, so they seek help from all kinds of experts in order to get on with their lives. Also, fart jokes. For what it’s worth, A Haunted House beat out Scary Movie 5‘s Tomatometer score by one point… at 6%. In other words, this isn’t going to set the world on fire or inspire a half dozen sequels.

Also available this week:

  • Two more from the Criterion Collection: Laurence Olivier’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III (79%) is newly available on both Blu-ray and DVD, as well as a five-film collection of the work of French director Pierre Étaix.
  • Norwegian horror film Thale (50%), about a pair of crime scene cleaners who discover a mute woman of Norwegian folklore.
  • Family Weekend (38%), starring Olesya Rulin, Kristin Chenoweth, and Matthew Modine in a dark comedy about a teen who takes her underattentive parents hostage.
  • For those of you who want an alternate take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby (34%) is available in a new Blu-ray.