RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Monuments Men, Pompeii, and More

Also, 3 Days to Kill, About Last Night, Vampire Academy, and a John Wayne collection.

by | May 20, 2014 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a good number of big releases, but titles most worthy of your weekly DVD budget are probably the smaller films on the list. We’ve got George Clooney’s most recent directorial effort, a Paul W.S. Anderson historical disaster movie, and a McG spy thriller starring Kevin Costner. Then, we’ve also got another failed YA novel movie, an unusual psychological thriller, and a surprisingly successful remake of a 1986 David Mamet adaptation, plus a John Wayne collection and some other noteworthy choices. Read on for details:

The Monuments Men

30%

George Clooney’s got a pretty solid Hollywood track record, whether he’s producing, directing, or starring; it just so happens that The Monuments Men, his fifth outing behind the camera, is kind of a clunker. The story is based on true events that took place during WWII, when the Allied Powers put together a task force of sorts to track down culturally significant pieces of art before they were destroyed by the Nazis. Clooney himself plays Frank Stokes, the man who’s charged with putting the unit together, while Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett play members of the Allied force, who all pursue different leads with varying measures of success. Despite its incredible cast and the compelling story upon which the film was based, The Monuments Men only managed a 32% on the Tomatometer. Critics simply found the film tonally inconsistent, dramatically inert, and a bit too warm and fuzzy with nostalgia.

Pompeii

27%

Paul W.S. Anderson took a break from his Resident Evil franchise to direct a volcano disaster movie/love story that would have made Roland Emmerich proud. Kit Harington shed his winter cloak from Game of Thrones to play Milo, a Celtic slave-turned-gladiator in 1st Century Pompeii. Milo falls in love with Cassia (Emily Browning), daughter of a wealthy and influential family, and as Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight his way out of the gladiator’s arena to save her. With plenty of period costuming and design, flashy special effects, and a supporting cast that included Kiefer Sutherland, Jared Harris, Carri-Anne Moss, and more, Paul W.S. Anderson spent a good chunk of change to bring Pompeii to life. Unfortunately, at 28% on the Tomatometer, the film earned mostly negative reviews from critics who found the narrative less than compelling and the acting a bit wooden, despite a few guilty pleasure moments.

3 Days to Kill

28%

Kevin Costner isn’t the hot commodity he once was, but the man?s still working hard these days. His first film of 2014 was 3 Days to Kill, a thriller from director McG that stars Costner as a high level CIA agent who learns he’s contracted terminal brain cancer and decides to leave the spy game to spend more time with his family. When the agency offers him a life-extending drug in exchange for taking out another target, he must balance his assignment with his reestablished family life, all while dealing with side effects of the new medicine. High octane thrillers are sort of McG’s bag, and to his credit, critics found the actions scenes in 3 Days to Kill sufficiently impressive; it?s the rest of the film, co-written by Luc Besson, that falls a bit short. At 33% on the Tomatometer, 3 Days is good for a few shoot-em-up sequences, but they come at the expense of a more polished story.

About Last Night

69%

Back in 1986, Ed Zwick directed About Last Night…, an adaptation of a David Mamet play starring a couple of Brat Pack-ers (Rob Lowe and Demi Moore), Jim Belushi, and Elizabeth Perkins. Earlier this year, we got another version of that story, starring Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy, and Joy Bryant, minus the ellipses in the title. The story follows two young couples from the time they meet to their eventual pairing and, ultimately, through the romantic hardships they encounter. Though it strays further from Mamet’s original play, About Last Night delivers a successful balance of romance and comedy, and with the help of its funny, likable cast, it managed a 69% on the Tomatometer. It’s not likely to inspire nostalgia for the earlier film, but it does a good job standing on its own.

Grand Piano

79%

Last year, Elijah Wood starred in a unique slasher film that literally told its story from the killer’s point of view (Maniac). Back in March, Wood appeared in another thriller with an unusual premise, and critics responded quite favorably. Tom Selznick (Wood) is a talented pianist who, after a long hiatus from the stage, returns for a comeback concert. As he sits down at the piano, he notices a threatening note telling him he will die if he plays even one note incorrectly, and he is forced to unravel the mystery behind the warning before the performance is over. Critics conceded that Grand Piano isn’t perfect, but it creates such spectacular tension in its finest moments that it makes for a compelling watch. Add to that the overall weirdness factor of the premise, and you’ve got an intriguing thriller that’s been Certified Fresh at 81% on the Tomatometer.

Vampire Academy

16%

The search for the next great supernatural YA novel franchise in the aftermath of Twilight and Harry Potter continues, and it doesn’t look like Vampire Academy will be the one. Based on the first of a series of novels by Richelle Mead, the film follows Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch), a Dhampir (half human, half vampire) who’s brought back to the vampire boarding school she once fled from in order to learn how to protect the peaceful mortal vampires known as the Moroi. Once back at the academy, Rose must learn how to navigate the tricky social politics of its students. Without enough laughs to be funny or enough thrills to be exciting, Vampire Academy is mostly a ho-hum high school movie with a twist that borrows too heavily from others like it to distinguish itself in the genre. At 10% on the Tomatometer, this is likely to appeal only to existing fans of the books, and even some of them may be disappointed.

Also available this week:

  • One of the Criterion Collection’s contemporary releases, Abbas Kiarostami’s Japan-set drama Like Someone in Love (81%), about a call girl who forms a bond with an elderly client, is available this week.
  • Raze (45%), starring Zoe Bell and Rachel Nichols in an exploitation thriller about a women’s prison where the inmates are made to fight each other for the amusement of wealthy spectators.
  • In Secret (41%), starring Osar Isaac and Elizabeth Olsen in a period drama about a repressed woman who finds excitement in an affair with one of her husband’s childhood friends.
  • An Amazon exclusive John Wayne Epic Collection that includes 40 of The Duke’s films, and a commemorative belt buckle.
  • Season five of the SyFy series Warehouse 13 (100%), which follows two Secret Service agents as they track down mysterious objects and artifacts.
  • Season three of Call the Midwife (83%), the period drama centering on a nursing convent in 1950s London.

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