We’ve got a couple of explosive action films headlining the column this week, along with another retelling of the greatest story ever told, a new box set for an iconic TV series, a few indie films, and a handful of TV season sets. Read on for details:



Joel Kinnaman stars as Alex Murphy, a police officer in a near-future Detroit who barely survives a car bomb explosion, only to be reborn as the titular cyborg as part of an experimental program. José Padilha’s RoboCop split critics down the middle at 49% on the Tomatometer; though most felt it did little to distinguish itself from Paul Verhoeven’s subversive 1987 film, quite a few thought the remake was a lot better than it had any right to be. The DVD/Blu-ray/digital copy/UltraViolet pack includes a handful of deleted scenes, three featurettes, ten Omnicorp-branded spotlights on the various machines and weapons from the film, and a couple of trailers.

Lone Survivor


This based-on-true-events story stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster as a team of Navy SEALs tasked with the covert elimination of an important Taliban leader; when they are unexpectedly discovered by local shepherds, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Though some critics found what they considered a jingoistic angle to be a bit hard to swallow, most were taken by Lone Survivor‘s propulsive action and sheer visceral power, leading to a Certified Fresh 75% Tomatometer score. Disc bonuses are limited to one lengthy featurette profiling Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg’s character) and a number of shorter ones ranging in content from typical behind-the-scenes pieces to a collection of tributes to the real life soldiers involved in the failed operation.

Son of God


Pieced together from the History Channel’s 10-hour miniseries covering The Bible, Son of God focuses solely on the rise and fall (and rise again) of Christianity’s central figure, played by Portugese actor Diogo Morgado. Most critics agreed that this presentation of the oft-told tale was hokey and heavy-handed, not to mention a bit choppy and inelegantly constructed, and it earned a mere 21% on the Tomatometer. The faithful ones who will be picking this up can expect a couple of mini-docs on modern-day Christianity and a making-of video, among other extras.

Breaking Bad – The Complete Series

Widely considered one of the greatest American television series ever produced, Breaking Bad came to a close in late September last year, ending the meth-cooking misadventures of Walter “Heisenberg” White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Critics rated the show Certified Fresh in each of its seasons, all of which sit at an impressive 100% with the exception of the first (78%). The new box set being released this week contains essentially the same content as the previously available collectible set that came in the replica money barrel, except that it’s packaged more traditionally and doesn’t include all the nifty extras like the commemorative coin or the Los Pollos Hermanos apron. Otherwise, you’ll still get the 55 hours of bonus features, so this is ideal for anyone who was waiting for a more compact set.

Also available this week:

  • The Trouble with the Truth (93%), starring Lea Thompson in a drama about a divorced couple reuniting and reminiscing after their own daughter gets engaged.
  • What’s In A Name? (75%), a French comedy about a father-to-be who causes a family ruckus when he announces his child’s controversial name.
  • The Motel Life (71%), starring Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff as two brothers on the run when one of them flees from the scene of a car accident.
  • The Pretty One (45%), starring Zoe Kazan in a coming-of-age comedy about a shy girl who assumes her twin’s identity when she falls for a new neighbor.
  • In the Blood (44%), starring Gina Carano and Cam Gigandet in a thriller about a deadly woman who must confront her past when her husband is kidnapped on their honeymoon.
  • Season one of Graceland (69%), which follows a team of law enforcement officers operating out of a confiscated mansion.
  • Season three of AMC’s mystery series The Killing (67%), which has been picked up by Netflix for a six-episode conclusion, scheduled to become available this August.
  • Season six of HBO’s vampire drama True Blood (40%), which begins its final season on June 22.
  • Season four of Comedy Central’s Workaholics, centering on three housemates/co-workers who also happen to be idiots.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a journey through Middle-earth (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen) and some yuletide shenanigans (Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, starring Tyler Perry and Kathy Najimy). What do the critics have to say?

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug


OK, so here’s the bad news: critics say The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is overlong and overstuffed with characters and subplots that are likely to mean little to all but the most devoted of Tolkien fans. The good news? They also say it’s a step up from An Unexpected Journey, in that it’s better paced and more action-packed. This time, our heroes Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) are on a journey to Lonely Mountain, encountering giant spiders, elves, and a human/bear hybrid as part of their mission to wrest control of a lost Dwarf kingdom from Smaug, a terrifying dragon. The pundits say the first two Hobbit movies have yet to approach the depth and sweep of the Lord of the Rings films, but Smaug mostly succeeds as both a middle chapter and a rousing fantasy adventure in its own right. (For lots more on The Desolation Of Smaug and the LOTR films, check out Hobbit Headquarters.)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas


A Madea Christmas, like most of Tyler Perry’s output, was not screened for critics prior to its release in theaters. When an old friend decides to pay a surprise visit to her daughter, she talks Madea (Perry) into tagging along; soon our irrepressible heroine is shaking up a small town’s Christmas carnival. Time to guess the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

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