This week on home video, we’ve got the latest installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, Jon Favreau’s indie hit, and the complete series of a hit Fox show that came back to television for a limited run earlier this year. On top of that, we’ve got a bunch of smaller releases starring the likes of Amy Poehler, Aaron Paul, Sam Shepard, Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, and more. Read on for details:

Transformers: Age of Extinction


If you don’t know what you’re getting into when you set out to watch one of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, it may help to start with a little context. Long story short: they’re loud, chaotic, sometimes racist, sometimes misogynistic, and poorly reviewed. They’re also extremely popular worldwide, and extremely profitable, which is why it should surprise few people that, despite an 18 percent Tomatometer score, Age of Extinction earned more than $1 billion in global box office receipts. Leading a “rebooted” cast that includes Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, and Kelsey Grammar, Mark Wahlberg stars as down-on-his-luck inventor Cade Yeager, who comes into possession of a broken-down Optimus Prime and finds himself and his daughter wrapped up in a government conspiracy to hunt down all Autobots. While critics largely dismissed the film as a noisy, jumbled barrage on the senses, a few also conceded that those looking for a bombastic, effects-driven spectacle will probably get what they’re looking for. The Blu-ray comes with an entire disc of bonus features, which include an extensive series of making-of featurettes, a tour of the Hasbro facility where the toys are created, and a ten-minute interview with Bay about his approach to the film and his filmmaking style.




Though Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens) is also no stranger to big, CGI-heavy popcorn movies, he nevertheless found time to sneak in a smaller, character-driven comedy this year and managed to earn some rich praise for it. In his latest feature, Chef, Favreau plays Carl Casper, the head chef at a swanky Brentwood restaurant who, stifled by his boss’s old school ways, quits his job in a fit of anger that goes viral. Reluctantly, Carl accepts an invitation from his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) to move back home to Miami to help raise their son, and in the process, he starts a food truck business and rekindles his passion for cooking. Critics found Chef to be a breath of fresh air, a charming respite from the summer season of action-packed blockbusters, thanks to a clever script and a formidable supporting cast that also included Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr. and more. The only special features included are a commentary track and some deleted scenes, but this should make a worthy rental or purchase based on the film’s merits alone.

24: The Complete Series with Live Another Day

When Fox debuted 24 back in 2001, it would have been easy to dismiss it as a gimmick show. Each season unfolded more or less in “real time,” with episodes that covered a single hour — complete with a ticking clock — in the span of an extremely eventful day for Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), an anti-terrorist agent tasked with addressing all manner of threat to our national security. The show proved to be a critical and commercial success, and it aired successfully for eight seasons, notching dozens of nominations and awards, including 20 Emmys, before it ended its initial run in 2010. Back in May of this year, Jack Bauer returned to TV when Fox aired a 12-part series titled 24: Live Another Day, and this week, the studio is re-releasing the complete series — including Live Another Day — on DVD. It carries all of the special features available on the previous release, however, so if you already own that, you can also simply pick up Live Another Day, which is individually available on Blu-ray.

Also available this week:

  • Cold in July (86 percent), starring Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard in a Certified Fresh thriller about a family man defending himself against an ex-con seeking revenge for the murder of his son.
  • Ivory Tower (85 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary exploring whether or not college is worth the cost of massive student loan debt.
  • Lucky Them (76 percent), starring Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church in a dramedy about a journalist chasing a story about a rock legend who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend.
  • Space Station 76 (61 percent), starring Patrick Wilson and Liv Tyler in a tongue-in-cheek relationship drama set in a 1970s version of the future.
  • Hellion (59 percent), starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis in a family drama about a young father learning to cope with his wife’s death and his two sons’ increasingly delinquent behavior.
  • Paul Haggis’ Third Person (24 percent), starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, and a bevy of stars in a film connecting three separate love stories.
  • Matt Weiner’s Are You Here (7 percent), starring Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Zach Galifianakis in a road comedy about a man battling his sister for their recently deceased father’s fortune.
  • Season six of The Mentalist is available on DVD.
  • The Equalizer Complete Collection, featuring all four seasons of the 1980s action drama upon which the recent Denzel Washington film was based.
This week at the movies, we’ve got Viking explorers (How to Train Your Dragon 2, with voice performances by Jay Baruchel and Gerard Butler) and college-bound cops (22 Jump Street, starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum). What do the critics have to say?

How to Train Your Dragon 2


When How to Train Your Dragon became a runaway critical and commercial hit, it helped to quiet the contention that DreamWorks was simply a second banana to Pixar. Happily, critics say the inevitable sequel lives up to the high standards set by its predecessor — it’s exuberant, ambitious, and visually striking. This time out, Hiccup is all grown up and hoping to prove himself to his community. He and his dragon pal Toothless inadvertently discover a new land, where a different group of people work with dragons for a different purpose. The pundits say the Certified Fresh How to Train Your Dragon 2 is headier and darker than your average kiddie fare, and the result is a sweeping, imaginative fantasy adventure. (Watch our video interview with How to Train Your Dragon 2 stars Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson.)

22 Jump Street


21 Jump Street was a pleasant surprise, so what can we expect for an encore? How about a near-total repeat? Critics say that’s not a bad thing at all; 22 Jump Street works well enough as an action comedy, but it’s even better as a meta commentary on the action comedy formula. The plot unfolds exactly the same as before: two cops (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) go undercover (this time at a college) in order to foil a drug ring. Once again, they learn a bit about themselves (and each other) in the process. And once again, their boss (Ice Cube) is constantly up in their business. The pundits say the Certified Fresh 22 Jump Street has fun at the expense of cop movie cliches, but what really puts it over the top is the deft chemistry between its two leads. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, a compendium of buddy cop movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Agnieszka Holland‘s Burning Bush, a drama about the fallout from a brave protest of the Soviet occupation of Prague in 1969, is at 100 percent.
  • Policeman, a drama about the leader of an Israeli counterterrorism unit who’s tasked with stopping a group of armed revolutionaries, is at 82 percent.
  • Witching and Bitching, a horror comedy about a desperate criminal gang that runs afoul with a coven of witches, is at 80 percent.
  • Ivory Tower, a documentary about the high cost of college tuition, is at 77 percent.
  • A Coffee in Berlin, a dramedy about an aimless man who meets a series of interesting people, is at 73 percent.
  • Violette, a biopic about celebrated French novelist Violette Leduc, is at 69 percent.
  • The Rover, starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce in a thriller about two men trying to survive in post-apocalyptic Australia, is at 68 percent.
  • Heli, a thriller about a family that gets caught up in the Mexican drug war, is at 56 percent.
  • I Am I, a drama about a woman who tracks down her estranged father only to discover he suffers from memory loss, is at 50 percent.
  • Hellion, starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis in a drama about a troubled 13-year-old reeling from the death of his mother, is at 50 percent.
  • All Cheerleaders Die, a horror comedy about a teenager who plans revenge on the pep squad, is at 48 percent.
  • The Signal, starring Laurence Fishburne and Brenton Thwaites in a sci-fi thriller about a group of hackers who stumble upon a top secret desert facility that may house extraterrestrial life, is at 47 percent.
  • Lullaby, starring Richard Jenkins and Amy Adams in a drama about a man who reconnects with his terminally ill father, is at 38 percent.

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