RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Twilight Ends and The Master Mesmerizes

Also, an inscrutable Certified Fresh gem and an Oscar-nominated documentary.

by | February 26, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve only got five major releases to talk about in detail, but they certainly run the gamut. From angsty (and ridiculously popular) teen vampires to thrill-seeking surfers, from an exploration of cult dynamics to a cinematic dream, and including a doc with that rare 100% Tomatometer, we think you’ll be hard-pressed not to find something to watch this week. See below for the full list!


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2


The Twilight Saga has endured a lot of criticism for its shortcomings over the past several years, despite the fact that it’s been wildly successful with its target audience. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you were both excited to see the final chapter brought to big screen life and sad that the journey was coming to an end; otherwise, you were just happy you wouldn’t have to tolerate sparkling vampires anymore. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner all reprise their roles as the trio of central characters; continuing the arc that began in Breaking Dawn Part 1, Breaking Dawn Part 2 concludes the series with an epic showdown between the Cullen clan and the Volturi, who fear the power of Edward (Pattinson) and Bella’s (Stewart) child Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). For what it’s worth, critics found this final installment to be about on par with the first film and the third film, earning a not completely terrible 48% on the Tomatometer. Critics unsurprisingly also said, however, that there’s little here for anyone who’s not already a fan if that wasn’t already obvious.


The Master


Though it didn’t attract quite the Academy attention of his last film, 2007’s There Will Be Blood, P.T. Anderson’s The Master still garnered Oscar nods for its three principal actors: Joaquin Phoenix (Best Actor), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Best Supporting Actor), and Amy Adams (Best Supporting Actress). Phoenix is Freddie Quell, an unstable, alcoholic World War II vet who struggles to readjust to normal life until he meets charismatic religious leader Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman). Despite his adherence to Dodd’s teachings, Freddie fails to improve, and he begins to question whether Dodd is the real thing. P.T. Anderson has yet to direct a Rotten film, and The Master continues his impressive Certified Fresh streak with an 86% on the Tomatometer. Critics say it’s smart, engrossing, and bolstered by outstanding performances, so if you’re looking for a heady, challenging film, give The Master a watch.


Chasing Mavericks


Surfers know all about Mavericks, a stretch of ocean near Half Moon Bay on the coast of Northern California that’s known for its monster waves, sometimes reaching up to 80 ft. tall. It’s treacherous and sometimes deadly, which means it’s also an immense adrenaline rush to surf. In Chasing Mavericks, Jonny Weston plays real-life surfer Jay Moriarty, who sought to catch the big waves and began training for it with Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). The film chronicles Moriarty’s journey, as well as his budding friendship with mentor Hesson. Critics found Chasing Mavericks to be a sweet, earnest effort that simply fell flat, due to its unconvincing script and surprisingly few thrills. At 33% on the Tomatometer, die hard surfing fanatics might have some fun with it, but don’t expect too much.


How to Survive a Plague


Fresh off its big night as one of the Oscar-nominated documentary features (though it ultimately lost to Searching for Sugar Man), How to Survive a Plague is one of the few movies from last year that can boast a Certified Fresh 100% on the Tomatometer. First-time director (but accomplished nonfiction author) David France examines the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the efforts of two organizations to turn it into a livable, manageable condition. Utilizing never-before-seen footage, the film shows how members of ACT UP and TAG helped push for quicker turnaround on identifying and distributing new medicines — not always with positive results, but never without passion. Critics called it an angry but stirring portrait of a frightening and heartbreaking era that is powerful and brilliantly assembled. There’s a good reason why this was nominated for an Academy Award, so if you’re looking for a solid doc this week, look no further.


Holy Motors


The last time we heard from director Leos Carax, he was one of three contributors (along with Michel Gondry and Bong Joon-Ho) in the omnibus film Tokyo!; in Carax’s segment, a sewer-dwelling humanoid named Merde (played by Denis Lavant) emerged from underground to wreak havoc on the surface world. In Holy Motors, Carax teams with Lavant once again in a series of vignettes — including a second visit from the subterranean Merde — centered around a man named Oscar (Lavant) who rides around Paris in a limousine and reenacts various theatrical sequences, ranging from a sex scene to a gangster film. Little insight is offered into the character of Oscar; he simply moves from one scene to the next as if in a dream. While this may sound like the stuff of film school experimentation, critics roundly applauded Carax’s surreal adventure, calling it strange but mesmerizing and full of unforgettable visuals. It will be challenging for those used to more traditional narratives, but Certified Fresh at 90%, Holy Motors is one film you don’t necessarily have to “get” to enjoy.

Also available this week:

  • Two Criterion Collection titles today: A Blu-ray of Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1954 masterpiece Sansho the Bailiff (100%) sees a release, and Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s influential 1961 documentary film Chronicle of a Summer is newly available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Girls Against Boys (13%), a combination revenge flick/obsession story starring Danielle Panabaker and Nicole LaLiberte.

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