We skipped RT on DVD last week because there wasn’t much to talk about; unfortunately, this week is only marginally better, with an epic action flop, a bit of a clunker from Jason Reitman, and another found footage horror movie. After that, we’ve got a handful of smaller releases, some of which are actually worth checking out. Read on for details:

The Legend of Hercules


The first of two movies this year about the Greek demigod, The Legend of Hercules established a pretty low bar for Dwayne Johnson to overcome. Kellan Lutz stars as the titular hero, son of Zeus and the mortal Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee), who is betrayed by his stepfather, the King (Scott Adkins), and sold into slavery in Egypt. Presumed dead, Hercules secures himself a gladiator battle back in Greece, hoping to reunite with his lover (Gaia Weiss) and exact vengeance upon the King. Critics found very little to like here, calling the film a failure on almost every level, from its poor visuals and lackluster storytelling to its wooden acting and stale action sequences. Renny Harlin has directed his share of stinkers in the past, but at 3% on the Tomatometer, The Legend of Hercules is pretty bad, even by his standards.

Labor Day


Beginning with his 2005 directorial debut, Thank You For Smoking, Jason Reitman was on a pretty impressive hot streak, so it was something of a shock when Labor Day elicited little more than a half-hearted sigh from critics. Based on the eponymous novel by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day stars Kate Winslet as divorced single mother Adele Wheeler, who takes her teenage son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) shopping one Labor Day weekend and runs into a mysterious injured man named Frank (Josh Brolin). Adele allows Frank to come home with them, and though he soon reveals he’s an escaped convict, he succeeds in winning them over. Winslet and Brolin are quite capable actors, of course, and they make the most of the material, but most critics found the tone so earnestly melodramatic that it rendered the film’s more calculated moments largely powerless. At 33%, this isn’t just Jason Reitman’s lowest-rated film, it’s the only Rotten film he’s directed, period.

Devil’s Due


If you thought the found footage format had been pretty much exhausted by horror filmmakers, you thought wrong. In Devil’s Due, the latest of the genre, young couple Zach and Samantha McCall (Zach Gilford and Allison Miller) decide to document every step of their surprise pregnancy. Sam begins to behave erratically and Zach notices shadowy characters hanging around the house. Will things go full Rosemary’s Baby, or is it all just a harmless Candid Camera gag? Critics were quick to call out Devil’s Due on its derivative elements, taking care to note that the film draws from better predecessors but fails to do anything fresh with the ingredients. At 18% on the Tomatometer, it’s kind of a half-baked creepshow that relies on a mish-mash of familiar horror tropes.

Also available this week:

  • These Birds Walk (100%), a documentary about the fates of street children in Pakistan.
  • Certified Fresh Chilean importGloria (99%), about an aging divorcee whose budding relationship with a younger man prompts her to confront her past.
  • The Selfish Giant (97%), a Certified Fresh adaptation of the Oscar Wilde story about the relationship between two restless teenagers in northern England who steal and sell scrap metal.
  • Escape from Tomorrow (56%), about a recently unemployed man who descends into a surreal nightmare while vacationing in Disneyland with his family.
  • The Best Offer (55%), starring Geoffrey Rush and Jim Sturgess in a romantic drama about an introverted antiques dealer who comes out of his shell when he’s asked to restore the works belonging to an equally reclusive woman.
  • Gimme Shelter (22%), starring Vanessa Hudgens and James Earl Jones in a based-on-true-events story about a pregnant homeless teen who regains her footing with the support she finds at a shelter.
  • And lastly, from the Criterion Collection, Dino Risi’s 1962 road trip comedy Il sorpasso is available in a new DVD/Blu-ray combo.

Happy New Year! This week at the movies, we’ve got only one wide release: the found footage horror sequel Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, starring Andrew Jacobs and Molly Ephraim. What do the critics have to say?

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones


We’d love to tell you what the critics thought of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, but it was barely screened for critics prior to its release in theaters. In the latest incarnation of the venerable horror series, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) investigates the strange death of a woman in his neighborhood and quickly discovers he may be the target of a supernatural curse. Hey everyone, let’s start off the new year by guessing the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

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