We bet those pesky xenomorphs are getting smug now that their last two movies, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, have gone Certified Fresh.

Enough with the space jockeys, unqualified cartographers, and people who run in straight lines: How about terrorizing someone who can put up a real fight? Vote on our 10 suggestions below or leave your dream Alien deathmatch in the comments!

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Ep. 024 – Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Leftovers
RT Editor in Chief discusses the latest Transformers movie with fellow Tomatoes Sarah Ricard and Ryan Fujitani. Then the team talks about HBO’s The Leftovers and new DVD/Blu-ray releases 300: Rise of an Empire and Winter’s Tale

This week on home video, we’ve got the stylized sequel to a historical action film, a doppleganger thriller, and a magic-filled misfire from Akiva Goldsman. Then, we’ve got a couple of acclaimed television series and a bunch of smaller films and TV shows. Read on for details:



300: Rise of an Empire

45%

Though Gerard Butler has moved on to protecting the White House and flirting with soccer moms, the 300 franchise continues with Rise of an Empire, based on the yet unreleased Frank Miller graphic novel Xerxes. Penned by 300 director Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, RoaE is a more broadly scoped narrative that chronicles the efforts of Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) to unite his forces against the Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green). Though the film sported the same visual flourish of its predecessor and benefitted from Eva Green’s presence, most critics found it numbingly violent and less interesting. The Blu-ray comes with about 81 minutes of special features, including a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes, a comparison between the film’s events and their historical counterparts, and a look at ancient Greek naval strategy.



Enemy

71%

In a year full of doppelganger stories (The Double, Coherence, and Orphan Black, which just finished its second season), Enemy was one of the early successes, reuniting Prisoners star Jake Gyllenhaal with its director, Denis Villenueve. Gyllenhaal pulls double duty here as both Adam Bell, a morose college professor, and Anthony Claire, the actor Adam becomes dangerously obsessed with when he spots him in a movie and realizes they are physically identical. Critics were impressed enough by the performances, as well Villenueve’s directorial choices, to rate this thriller Certified Fresh at 74%. The film dips ever so slightly into the surreal, and as its one bonus feature — a making-of featurette — confirms, you may not have everything figured out by the end, but it further establishes Denis Villenueve as a forceful presence in the psychological thriller genre.



Winter’s Tale

13%

Longtime screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I, Robot) made his directorial debut earlier this year with Winter’s Tale, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Mark Helprin. At the center of this Tale is Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a turn-of-the-20th-century New York orphan who runs afoul of the powerful local gangster (Russell Crowe) who took him under his wing and, while on the run, falls in love with a terminally ill girl. There’s more to it than that, but a story that takes place in 1916 and 2014, with plenty of magic and mystical creatures, can’t be adequately summed up in a sentence. Besides, critics didn’t like the film very much; citing a nonsensical plot, bland characters, and a failure to capture its source material’s charms, they savaged the film with a 13% Tomatometer. If you decide to pick this one up, it’ll come with a couple of making-of bonuses and some deleted scenes.



Masters of Sex – Season One

Showtime’s acclaimed drama returns for its second season on July 13, and if you’ve got some spare time between now and then, you can pick up season one when it hits shelves tomorrow and binge away. The series stars Michael Sheen as the titular Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as his assistant extraordinaire Virginia Johnson, who together conducted the kind of research on sexuality back in the 1950s and 1960s that reassured all of us that we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed doing that one thing in bed. You know, that one thing. You can pick up the entire first season on Blu-ray this week, and it comes with the requisite audio commentary (pilot episode), a profile of both Sheen and Caplan playing their characters, a short doc exploring the discoveries Masters and Johnson brought to light, and an interview with Thomas Maier, who wrote the book from which the series was adapted.

Also available this week:

  • Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (98%), a Certified Fresh documentary on the octogenarian Broadway and television star.
  • What Richard Did (94%), a drama about an Irish teen whose life changes when he violently attacks another boy over a girl.
  • Rob the Mob (83%), starring Michael Pitt and Andy Garcia in a drama about a young petty criminal who becomes obsessed with an ongoing trial that could bring down John Gotti.
  • UK import The Wedding Video (71%), starring Robert Webb and Lucy Punch in a found-footage style mockumentary comedy about a best man recording the catastrophic events leading up to his buddy’s wedding.
  • Blood Ties (49%), starring Clive Owen and Billy Crudup in a period crime thriller about an ex-con who returns to his life of crime, and his younger police officer brother who must choose between family and duty.
  • Australian horror import Wolf Creek 2 (48%), in which serial killer Mick Taylor stalks another poor outback tourist.
  • Season one of FX’s Certified Fresh police drama The Bridge (90%), which follows a Mexican detective (Demian Bichir) and an American detective (Diane Kruger) who work together to track down a killer who has committed crimes on both sides of the border.
  • Season one of Lifetime’s Witches of East End (70%), a supernatural drama about a pair of young witches learning the tricks of the trade from their mother.
  • And finally, one selection from the Criterion Collection: Richard Lester’s 1964 comedy A Hard Day’s Night (99%) starring the Beatles in their first film, which opened at the height of Beatlemania.

Exactly seven years after the record-breaking opening of the blockbuster Spartan battle pic, the historical action sequel 300: Rise of an Empire conquered the global box office with international growth helping to make up for understandable domestic shrinkage. The brutal R-rated war epic debuted to an estimated $45.1M in North America capturing the top spot with ease driven by a carnage-loving male fan base. Warner Bros. averaged a strong $12,983 from 3,470 locations including 343 IMAX screens (up from only 62 on the first film) which did tremendously well.

Rise opened 36% weaker than the $70.9M debut of 300 from 2007, however it was never expected to come close to that runaway smash. The first film offered a different graphic novel style to the worn out genre of historical epics and became a ground-breaking smash with one of the best trailers from the past decade. Rise featured a mostly new cast and a new director while 3D was added to the fun. With much of the film and backgrounds being computer-generated, that format lent itself well to the audience as the 3D share of the gross was 63% – very high by today’s standards.

Reviews were lackluster for the $110M-budgeted production, but moviegoers came out for the action, intense war violence, and special effects. In fact, it opened better than several recent VFX-driven action movies – some with A-list stars – including Elysium, Oblivion, Riddick, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation as well as Wrath of the Titans which was another Warner Bros. period action sequel opening in March. Breaking $40M on opening weekend for action movies has become difficult these days except for super hero flicks or top literary brand like The Hunger Games and The Hobbit.

Long-term playability looks tough for Rise of an Empire. Its lukewarm B grade from CinemaScore shows that customer satisfaction is not too high, plus sequels like these are usually very front-loaded. IMAX screens contributed a robust $6.8M of the weekend gross accounting for a high 15% of the tally with an average of nearly $20,000. Males made up 62% of the crowd.

Overseas, the new 300 launched in 58 markets and captured an estimated $87.8M which was 10% better than comparable results for the Gerard Butler flick. Global opening was a towering $132.9M since Wednesday. Factor out higher ticket prices today and 3D surcharges and the attendance was still extremely close to the first film’s making for a remarkable performance for this follow-up. The brand is still strong and with international markets growing significantly in recent years, especially for 3D and IMAX formats, Rise could be on its way past the $400M global box office mark just like its predecessor.

The DreamWorks Animation offering Mr. Peabody & Sherman enjoyed a respectable debut in second place with an estimated $32.5M from 3,934 locations for a solid $8,261 average. The PG-rated comedy based on the 1960s cartoon characters opened in the same range as other 3D toons like Epic ($33.5M) and both Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies ($30.3M, $34M) and edged out the five-day $31M debut last summer of the studio’s last film Turbo.

Reviews were very positive for the Fox release and audiences liked the film too as evidenced by its A CinemaScore grade. Studio research showed that females made up 56% of the audience and 52% were over 25. The genius dog and his boy should have smooth sailing for the next week with no kidpics opening next weekend, but will face competition on March 21 when Disney rolls out the heavily-marketed The Muppets Most Wanted. But Peabody does seem to be on track to join 300 in becoming the latest $100M+ domestic grossers for 2014 with plenty of international potential as well.

Liam Neeson enjoyed a moderate hold for his latest action hit Non-Stop. The airline thriller fell 47% in its second weekend to an estimated $15.4M for a ten-day cume of $52.1M. Look for the Universal release to end up with around $90M. Toon juggernaut The LEGO Movie took a big hit from the new DreamWorks competition and dropped 47% in its fifth round, the largest decline of its month-long run. The Warner Bros. smash grossed an estimated $11M and boosted its total to a hefty $225M.

The Jesus pic Son of God tumbled 61% in its sophomore weekend to an estimated $10M suffering the worst drop of any film in the top ten. Fox has banked $41.5M in ten days and is headed for a $60M final. The George Clooney hit The Monuments Men grossed an estimated $3.1M, off 37%, for a $70.6M total.

The Kevin Costner actioner 3 Days to Kill followed with an estimated $3.1M, down 38%, putting Relativity at $25.6M. Double Oscar winner Frozen eased only 17% to an estimated $3M boosting the phenomenal domestic cume to $393.1M. The Best Animated Feature champ has now spent 15 consecutive weekends in the top ten which is even more than Avatar. The global tally rose to $1.009 billion with Japan set to open this Friday as its final major market.

The winner of the top trophy at the Academy Awards, 12 Years a Slave, more than doubled its screens and jumped back into the top ten for the first time since November with an estimated $2.2M more than doubling last weekend’s take. Fox Searchlight has taken in an impressive $53.1M for the indie film. Rounding out the top ten were two action titles with an estimated $2M each. The Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy hit Ride Along was down 34% with a robust $130M cume for Universal while Sony’s RoboCop fell 56% for $54.7M to date from North America but a potent $220M globally.

Wes Anderson’s latest film The Grand Budapest Hotel rocked the specialty box office soaring even higher than his usual muscular standards with a platform bow of an estimated $800,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for an eye-popping $200,000 average. Most locations were triple-screening the well-reviewed comedy helping it score the best average in box office history among regular film releases. Budapest’s average was significantly better than the $130,749 registered by the director’s last film Moonrise Kingdom from May 2012, also in four theaters, which itself was phenomenal. The director has long had a large and loyal fan base. Fox Searchlight will expand quickly on Friday into most major markets nationwide into about 75 total playdates.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $127.3M which was up 2% from last year when Oz the Great and Powerful opened at number one with $79.1M; and up 10% from 2012 when The Lorax took the top spot with $38.8M.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got a dog and his boy (Mr. Peabody & Sherman, with voice performances by Ty Burrell and Stephen Colbert) and some raging Spartans (300: Rise of an Empire, starring Sullivan Stapleton and Eva Green). What do the critics have to say?



Mr. Peabody & Sherman

81%

It’s never easy to stretch a series of shorts to feature-film length, especially when the source material is largely unfamiliar to its intended audience. Fortunately, critics say Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a mostly successful big screen adaptation, with enough cleverness and goofy action to please kids and their parents. Canine genius Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) and his adopted charge Sherman (Max Charles) use the WABAC machine to travel back in time and ensure that history’s greatest moments happen as they should. However, when Sherman takes the machine for a joyride to impress a classmate, it’s up to his doggie guardian to rescue him. The critics say Mr. Peabody & Sherman sometimes strains to maintain the inspired lunacy of the original cartoons, but most of the time, it’s bright, funny, exciting, and heartfelt. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some memorable time travel movies, as well as our interviews with the cast.)



300: Rise of an Empire

45%

If you’re in the mood stylized bloodshed, you’re in luck: 300: Rise of an Empire is chock full of beheadings, hacked-off limbs, and gallons of blood. But critics say beyond its admittedly impressive visuals, the film is short on the heroic bombast of its predecessor. This time out, it’s a band of plucky seafaring Greeks, lead by Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) against the mighty Persian navy, headed by Artemisia (Eva Green); as we eventually learn through a series of flashbacks, this fight is partially driven by personal animosity. The pundits say Green is fantastic as a bellicose she-devil, but little resonates in 300: Rise of an Empire beyond the lovingly rendered killings and decapitations. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of big stars in togas.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Miele, a drama about a woman who secretly helps people with terminal illnesses to die on their own terms, is at 100 percent.
  • Particle Fever, a documentary about the physicists working to find the Higgs boson particle, is at 92 percent.
  • In Fear, a thriller about a couple that gets lost en route to a would-be romantic getaway, is at 90 percent.
  • Journey To The West, Stephen Chow‘s adaptation of the classic Chinese novel about a Buddhist monk’s epic excursion from China to India, is at 90 percent.
  • Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, starring Ralph Fiennes and Saoirse Ronan in a period comedy about the adventures of a concierge and the oddball inhabitants of an ornate hotel, is Certified Fresh at 86 percent.
  • Grand Piano, starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack in a thriller about a concert pianist who must deliver a flawless performance to stave off a sniper, is at 82 percent.
  • Bethlehem, a drama about the tense relationship between an Israeli Secret Service officer and a Palestinian informant, is at 65 percent.
  • The Face of Love, starring Annette Bening and Ed Harris in a drama about a widow who meets a man who’s the spitting image of her dead husband, is at 53 percent.
  • Haunt, a horror film about a family that moves into an old house and stirs a malevolent curse, is at 20 percent.

Dan Deevy dons his toga (not really) to interview the cast of 300: Rise of an Empire, including Lena Headey, Eva Green, Jack O’Connell, and Callan Mulvey.

 

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