The biggest film available in home video this week comes in the form of Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, but the smaller releases may warrant more attention. These include a Certified Fresh follow-up to an Indonesian action hit, an erotic two-part drama from Lars von Trier, and a documentary on one of the greatest movies never made, among others. Read on for details:

Bad Words


After years of playing the put-upon straight man in everything from Arrested Development to last year’s Identity Thief, Jason Bateman made his directorial debut with Bad Words and cast himself as the primary purveyor of the film’s titular profanities. Guy Trilby (Bateman) is a middle school dropout who discovers a loophole in the rulebook of a national spelling bee and promptly enters, seeking to make a mockery of the competition. What he didn’t count on was the presence of Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), a 10-year-old fellow speller who endears himself to Guy and soaks up his bad habits. Critics were fairly kind to Bad Words, rewarding Bateman’s first effort behind the camera with a 64% Tomatometer and calling the film funny and gleefully amoral. Special features on the disc include a commentary, some deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The Raid 2


Gareth Evans scored a surprise hit with 2012’s The Raid, an inventive Indonesian actioner, so when a sequel was announced, fans were eager to see if the feat could be repeated; as it turned out, The Raid 2 came pretty close. Set just moments after the end of the first film, the sequel picks up with Jakarta cop Rama (Iko Uwais), who is asked to join a task force to expose the corrupt police commissioner. Rama soon discovers that a larger criminal organization is pulling the strings, and he must go undercover as an underworld thug to end the threat to his family. Critics found The Raid 2 a worthy successor to the adrenaline-fueled first installment, with plenty of thrilling sequences and gritty action, though they agreed its hyperviolence might appeal most to genre aficionados. The Blu-ray comes with a handful of making-of featurettes and a deleted scene, among other things.

Nymphomaniac: Volume I and Volume II


There are two points few will argue against when it comes to Danish director Lars von Trier: he is quite demanding of his lead actresses, and he is not one to shy away from controversy. Cue the film provocatively titled Nymphomaniac, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg. The framing device is a chance encounter between an aging bachelor (Stellan Skarsgård) and the woman (Gainsbourg) he finds beaten in an alley; over the course of 240-plus minutes split into two films, the woman recounts her lustful, graphic history of nymphomania to the man as he tends to her wounds. Critics had slightly different things to say about Volume I and Volume II of the film (the former of which is Certified Fresh at 75%), but most agreed that Gainsbourg’s performance and von Trier’s bold, unique vision make the saga worth a watch. Each volume is available for purchases separately, but they’re also being released in a single package, along with interviews with Gainsbourg, Skarsgård, and co-stars Shia LaBeouf and Stacy Martin, and a Q&A with a few of the cast members.

Jodorowsky’s Dune


Once upon a time, Alejandro Jodorowsky — director of cult favorites like The Holy Mountain and El Topo — had his hands on the rights to Frank Herbert’s epic 1965 sci-fi novel Dune. Though the book did eventually make it to the screen (where it unfortunately bombed) in the hands of David Lynch, Jodorowsky’s vision for the film included music by Pink Floyd, art design by H.R. Giger and Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius), and Mick Jagger, Salvador Dalí, and Orson Welles in the cast. Frank Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune explores the inception and ultimate doom of the film that never was, utilizing interviews with Jodorowsky himself, Giraud’s storyboards, and Giger’s character designs to offer an interpretation of what could have been. Critics raved about Jodorowsky’s Dune to the tune of a Certified Fresh 99% on the Tomatometer, calling it both a loving tribute to the filmmaker and a bittersweet examination of the inner workings of Hollywood. The only special features of note are a series of deleted scenes from the film, but this is probably a worthy pickup for any Jodorowsky fans.

Also available this week:

  • Roger Michell’s Certified Fresh Le Week-End (89%), starring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan in a drama about a long-married couple trying to rekindle their romance in Paris.
  • Maidentrip (81%), a documentary about 14-year-old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker’s quest to be the youngest person to sail around the world alone.
  • Watermark (80%), a documentary exploring the relationship we share with water all around the world.
  • Stage Fright (33%), a musical horror comedy about a mysterious killer who stalks his victims at a performing arts camp.
  • There’s a new Blu-ray release of the 1960 adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine (76%), which includes a lengthy retrospective featurette from 1993.
  • And lastly, there’s also a rerelease of the 1967 crime thriller Point Blank (97%), starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, which includes a commentary track with director John Boorman and Steven Soderbergh.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a super spy (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, starring Chris Pine and Keira Knightley), some burglarizing rodents (The Nut Job, with voice performances by Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl), mismatched cops (Ride Along, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart), and a demonic baby (Devil’s Due, starring Allison Miller and Zach Gilford). What do the critics have to say?

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck have all taken their best shot; now it’s Chris Pine’s turn to play Jack Ryan, the talented CIA agent from Tom Clancy’s bestselling novels. And critics say he’s off to a good start, as Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, while hardly the most original thriller on the market, is slick, exciting, and well-acted. Inspired to serve his country after 9/11, Jack Ryan joins the Marines. After being injured in Afghanistan, Ryan is recruited in the CIA, and soon he’s on the trail of a Russian terrorist plot. The pundits say Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is a solid meat-and-potatoes thriller, one that’s skillfully crafted and pleasantly suspenseful. (Check out this week’s total recall, in which we count down director Kenneth Branagh’s best-reviewed films.)

The Nut Job


From Steamboat Willie to Ratatouille, there have been plenty of iconic animated rodents. Unfortunately, Surly the squirrel is unlikely to join that illustrious pantheon; critics say The Nut Job has some nice backgrounds but its plot is threadbare and its star is less than charming. Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) has devised a plan to rob a nut store and make off with enough food to last through the winter. Can Surly learn a valuable lesson about greed — and become a hero in the process? The pundits say The Nut Job is overly reliant on physical humor, and its characters are surprisingly sour, though there are some moments of visual invention.

Ride Along


At first glance, scowling, no-nonsense Ice Cube and hustling, motormouthed Kevin Hart would seem to be an ideal comedic pairing. Unfortunately, critics say they’re underutilized in Ride Along, a thinly plotted, utterly generic cop-buddy action comedy. Hard-nosed detective James (Ice Cube) is less than pleased that his sister is dating a slacker like Ben (Hart). When Ben is accepted to the police force, he hopes to win James’ respect by joining him on the beat. The pundits say Ride Along offers up a few laughs, but mostly it coasts along on cop movie cliches. Click through this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of movie cops.)

Devil’s Due


Sooner or later, the found-footage horror subgenre was bound to get its own Rosemary’s Baby. But while critics say Devil’s Due is moderately well crafted, they also note that it’s more dependent on jump-scares than on more imaginative chills. Samantha (Allison Miller) and Zach (Zach Gilford) are preparing to welcome their first child together when Samantha’s behavior begins to take on a sinister tone; could it be that she’s been impregnated by a malevolent spirit? The pundits say Devil’s Due features decent performances, but its plot becomes increasingly absurd as it goes along.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Big Bad Wolves, a revenge thriller about a cop who tries to extract a confession from the man he believes to be the killer of a young girl, is at 79 percent.
  • Hirokazu Koreeda‘s Like Father, Like Son, a drama about two families dealing with the discovery that their six-year-old sons were switched at birth, is at 79 percent.
  • Maidentrip, a documentary about a 14-year-old’s attempt to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe, is at 78 percent.
  • G.B.F., a comedy about a guy who’s got a group of popular girls battling for the right to call him their gay best friend, is at 77 percent.
  • Generation War, a drama about five German friends dealing with the moral complications of life during the Third Reich, is at 45 percent.
  • Summer in February, starring Dominic Cooper and Dan Stevens in a period drama about two close friends in love with the same woman, is at 41 percent.
  • Jamesy Boy, starring Ving Rhames and Mary-Louise Parker in a drama about a young convict who attempts to turn his life around, is at 13 percent.

Finally, props to Garner Montgomery for coming the closest to guessing The Legend of Hercules‘ five percent Tomatometer. That’s two in a row for Mr. Montgomery.

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