RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Last Stand and Side Effects

Plus, a couple of Miyazaki films on Blu-ray, and a couple of gangster film collections.

by | May 21, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got an Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner, Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller, and the latest Young Adult novel adaptation. Then, we’ve also got a comedy featuring some screen legends and a crime thriller starring Jason Statham, as well as some reissues that include a couple of Hayao Miyazaki films, an American comedy classic, and a couple of gangster flick collections. See below for the full list.

The Last Stand

61%

For those who nostalgic for the 1980s heyday of action movie stars, The Last Stand provided somewhat of a throwback thrill, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the center of a boisterous shoot-’em-up. The English language debut of South Korean genre auteur Kim Ji-woon (The Good, the Bad, the Weird, I Saw the Devil), The Last Stand failed to reach the critical highs of his previous work but proved Arnie could still handle a firearm with some panache. Schwarzenegger stars as Ray Owens, the sheriff of a small border town who, along with his ragtag crew of deputies, fortifies the local streets and hunkers down in hopes of stopping a dangerous drug lord from racing through the town and into Mexico. There’s little nuance to be found here, and it’s all mostly an excuse to see Arnold blow stuff up and beat down some bad guys, but if that’s all you ask or expect of the film, you probably won’t be disappointed, say critics. At 59% on the Tomatometer, The Last Stand isn’t going to change any lives, but it might offer a satisfactory diversion.

Side Effects

81%

Steven Soderbergh’s reportedly penultimate directorial effort, Side Effects continues his impressive streak of Fresh films (currently at eight, beginning with 2008’s Che). Rooney Mara plays Emily Taylor, who attempts suicide shortly after her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) returns from a prison stint for insider trading. Emily comes under the supervision of psychiatrist Jonathan (Jude Law), who prescribes a controversial antidepressant with some adverse side effects — side effects which lead to a tragedy and a possible murder conspiracy. Critics found the film to be an effectively unsettling thriller that employs some clever twists and turns to keep audiences on their toes. Certified Fresh at 85%, Side Effects is another example of Steven Soderbergh’s steady directorial hand and his ability to draw engaging performances from his cast.

Beautiful Creatures

47%

Young Adult (YA) novel adaptations are all the rage these days, and if you were to write a new series, why not sort of combine elements from the two biggest of the past decade? Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl did just that when they wrote Beautiful Creatures, which takes the witchcraft from Harry Potter and fuses it with the star-crossed romance of The Twilight Saga. The story centers around Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a mysterious, outcast new high school student, and Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreigh), the local boy who falls for Lena before discovering that she comes from a long line of “casters” and will soon be faced with a choice that may spell disastrous consequences for those closest to her. Beautiful Creatures features supporting work from such folks as Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, and more, and its two leads are charming enough, but a lot of critics just didn’t quite feel they had enough meat to chew on here and stuck it with a 45% Tomatometer. It’s still too early to say whether or not the later novels in the “Caster Chronicles” series will also be adapted, but Beautiful Creatures failed to draw the audience it was hoping for.

Parker

40%

The critics haven’t been particularly kind to Jason Statham’s starring vehicles, but that hasn’t stopped the action star from churning out thrillers. In Parker, Statham teams up with Jennifer Lopez and director Taylor Hackford (Ray, The Devil’s Advocate) in a revenge story about an “honorable” thief (Statham) who is double-crossed and left for dead. When he travels to Palm Beach in search of his targets, he joins with a real-estate agent (Lopez) to track and take down his betrayers. Statham has charisma to spare, but sometimes that’s just not enough; such is the case with Parker, which only earned a 40% Tomatometer score from the critics. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, and if anything, the film’s narrative is probably more convoluted than it needs to be. Parker is based on a series of crime novels by Donald Westlake, but it doesn’t look like this will pan out as the next Jason Statham franchise.

Stand Up Guys

36%

When you cast Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, and Christopher Walken as the three leads in your film and it still flops, both commercially and critically, who can you blame? The writer, maybe, whose script plods along aimlessly for too long before getting to the point? The director (in this case, Fisher Stevens, whose only other feature film was 2002’s poorly received Just A Kiss), who can’t seem to decide on the proper tone for the film and settles for an ambiguous combination of old-timer humor and forced schmaltz? Certainly not the cast, who at least imbue this story — about old friends with crooked pasts reuniting for a night of revelry and reminiscing, until one of them reveals an ulterior motive — with the hefty screen presence they’re each known for. Whatever it was, Stand Up Guys did not, in fact, stand up to scrutiny, and at 37% on the Tomatometer, it’s simply a missed opportunity for all involved.

Also available this week:

  • The Criterion Collection’s release of Haskell Wexler’s inventive 1968 political drama Medium Cool (94%) is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • A new 30th Anniversary Blu-ray of National Lampoon’s Vacation (94%) is available.
  • Two Hayao Miyazaki movies are available on Blu-ray for the first time: My Neighbor Totoro (91%) and Howl’s Moving Castle (86%), both with a combination of new HD extras and some content ported over from previous releases.
  • Warner Bros. releases two Ultimate Gangsters Collections on Blu-ray: The Classics collection includes Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, The Petrified Forest, and White Heat, while the Contemporary collection includes Mean Streets, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Heat, and The Departed. Both collections include extras for each film, plus an extra disc of bonus features.

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