This week on home video, we’ve got a surprise animated hit from the typically dreary movie month of February, Wes Anderson’s latest winner, and the second season of Netflix’s Emmy-winning political drama. Plus, we’ve got some notable smaller releases, including an Oscar-nominated animation, a well-received David Gordon Green drama starring Nic Cage, and a handful of other indie films. Read on for details:



The LEGO Movie

96%

The LEGO Movie could have easily turned into a 100-minute toy commercial, but in the capable hands of co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street), it became a loving tribute to the power of imagination. Chris Pratt voices Emmet, an everyman LEGO figure who stumbles into the role of LEGO savior when a mystical object fuses itself to his back. With the help of an eclectic team of “builders,” Emmett attempts to foil the nefarious plans of the evil President Business (Will Ferrell). Critics were positively charmed by The LEGO Movie, rewarding it with a Certified Fresh 96% on the Tomatometer thanks to imaginative animation, a hilarious script, and a surprisingly thoughtful conclusion. The Blu-ray includes a funny and informative commentary track featuring the directors, Pratt, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, and Alison Brie; a couple of making-of featurettes; and lots of short video tidbits, including an “Everything Is Awesome” sing-along. If you opt for the “Everything Is Awesome” Edition, you’ll also get the 3D version of the film, a 3D cast of Emmet’s face, a LEGO figurine of Vitruvius, and an exclusive “Meet the LEGO Builders” featurette.



The Grand Budapest Hotel

92%

A story within a story within a story, The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the tale of Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the charismatic concierge of a luxurious mountain hotel who frequently offers his “services” to wealthy aging women. When one of them (Tilda Swinton) dies and leaves Gustave a precious painting in her will, her family becomes irate and attempts — by any means necessary — to retrieve the painting. Critics declared Grand Budapest — Certified Fresh at 92% — another triumph for Wes Anderson, replete with his trademark visual flourishes, wry wit, and a sprawling cast full of veterans like Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, and many more. The Blu-ray includes three featurettes, three short vignettes to accompany the film, and a 4-minute short following Bill Murray as he tours the various film shoot locations.



Ernest & Célestine

98%

One of this year’s ill-fated nominees for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, Ernest & Célestine is a French-Belgian animated film that takes place in a world populated by anthropomorphized bears (who live above ground) and mice (who live below). All young mice are taught that they are a choice snack for bears, but when a young orphan named Célestine is separated from her peers and encounters a hungry bear named Ernest, the two form an unlikely bond. Though the original film is voiced in French, American audiences were treated to a cast that included Paul Giamatti, Lauren Bacall, William H. Macy, and, in the lead roles, Forest Whitaker (Ernest) and Mackenzie Foy (Célestine). Critics were positively charmed by Ernest & Célestine, calling its story sweet and its old-fashioned visual aesthetic delightful. The main bonus features are a 52-minute long making-of doc and a feature-length animatic (essentially a storyboard recreation of the film).



House of Cards – Season Two

Netflix had itself a bona fide hit with House of Cards, whose first season ended with Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood accepting the post of Vice President while journalists Zoe, Lucas, and Janine (Kate Mara, Sebastian Arcelus, and Constance Zimmer) probed deeper into his shady activities. Season two finds Frank eager to remove himself even further from any possible scandal, as he deftly continues to manipulate his way up the chain of power. Critics rated this most recent season Certified Fresh at 85% on the Tomatometer, noting that the series continued to deliver the kinds of powerful performances, strong writing, and crisp cinematography typical of contemporary premium cable drama. Extras on the season boxset include a glimpse of the show’s table reads and featurettes covering the differences between the series and the original 1990s British miniseries that inspired it, Frank’s habit of breaking the fourth wall, and more.

Also available this week:

  • David Gordon Green’s Joe (83%), starring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in a Certified Fresh drama about an ex-con who befriends a teen and becomes his protector.
  • The Machine (78%), a sci-fi thriller about two programmers who create a self-aware AI, only to have it commandeered by the government.
  • Walk of Shame (13%), starring Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden in a comedy about a news reporter who gets stranded in the wrong part of town after a drunken one-night stand.
  • Authors Anonymous (7%), starring Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein in a comedy about a support group for unpublished authors whose members are rankled when one of them becomes an overnight success.
  • And lastly, a whopping three releases from the Criterion Collection: Georges Franju’s 1963 crime thriller Judex (100%) is available for the first time in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, and Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (94%) and Peter Davis’s documentary Hearts and Minds both get new DVD/Blu-ray re-releases. Also, an additional note for all of your Criterion aficionados out there: As per a recent announcement, The Criterion Collection will resume separate DVD and Blu-ray packages, beginning with their September releases later this year.
This week at the movies, we’ve got spurned ladies (The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann), a ticking time-bomb (Brick Mansions, starring Paul Walker and David Belle), and a paranormal experiment (The Quiet Ones, starring Jared Harris and Sam Claflin). What do the critics have to say?



The Other Woman

26%

As the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Unfortunately, critics say the problem with The Other Woman is it’s a bit too tepid, offering a few decent laughs but never quite nailing the female empowerment vibe it’s aiming for. Carly (Cameron Diaz) is reeling from the discovery that her boyfriend is married. She stews for a while, but upon meeting his wife (Leslie Mann) and his other girlfriend (Kate Upton), she realizes the three women have a lot in common, and collectively they decide to exact revenge. The pundits say The Other Woman has a game cast and some clever lines of dialogue, but the scenario is alternately too implausible and predictable to resonate emotionally. (Check out our video interview with the stars, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Diaz’s best-reviewed movies.)



Brick Mansions

26%

A remake of the gravity-defying, parkour-infused French import District 13, Brick Mansions promises balletic action and high-wire thrills. And critics say it does indeed feature a few strong set pieces, but they aren’t enough to compensate for an overabundance of plotting and an underabundance of character development. In a crime-ridden Detroit of the near future, an undercover cop (Paul Walker) must infiltrate a heavily fortified section of town in order to diffuse a bomb that’s fallen into the hands of a vicious crime lord (RZA). The pundits say Brick Mansions is a ludicrous action flick with a few exciting moments, but mostly, it’s a pale retread of its superior predecessor. (Check out RZA’s Five Favorite Films here.)



The Quiet Ones

37%

Hammer Film Productions has long been a purveyor of a more elegant brand of horror film. Unfortunately, critics say The Quiet Ones is a little too classy for its own good; despite solid performances and a spooky sense of place, the film delivers occasional jolts but fails at sustaining tension. In a remote English estate, Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) and a team of students are experimenting on a young woman who’s purported to be possessed by a supernatural being. Coupland believes she’s simply mentally ill, but his hypothesis is put to the test when he and his researchers are bedeviled by increasingly terrifying incidents. The pundits say The Quiet Ones is visually striking and often creepy, but it’s also overly talky and rarely out-and-out scary. (Take a look through our gallery of movies that feature scientific experiments gone wrong.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Blue Ruin, a thriller about a drifter driven to exact revenge on the man who murdered his parents, is Certified Fresh at 93 percent.
  • Last Passenger, starring Dougray Scott and Lindsay Duncan in an action film about a group of commuters who must work together to stop the madman who has taken control of a London train, is at 92 percent.
  • Locke, starring Tom Hardy in a thriller about a man whose life unravels over the course of a long drive, is Certified Fresh at 90 percent.
  • The Machine, a sci-fi thriller about a couple that develops a self-aware computer the government wants to use as a weapon, is at 74 percent.
  • The German Doctor, a thriller about an Argentinean family that unwittingly offers shelter to fugitive Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, is at 65 percent.
  • Who Is Dayani Cristal?, a documentary that explores the life of a man who was found dead in the Arizona desert trying to immigrate to the U.S., is at 57 percent.
  • Bicycling with Moliere, a comedy about a soap opera star who tries to convince his curmudgeonly actor friend to mount a production of Moliere’s The Misanthrope, is at 50 percent.
  • For No Good Reason, a documentary portrait of gonzo artist Ralph Steadman, is at 36 percent.
  • Walking With The Enemy, a World War II-era drama about a man who disguises himself as a Nazi officer in order to find his missing family, is at 25 percent.
  • The Girl and Death, a period melodrama about a young medical student who falls in love with the mistress of a vindictive aristocrat, is at 20 percent.

Finally, props to Caleb Paasche for guessing A Haunted House 2‘s nine Tomatometer.

There aren’t a whole lot of new titles recently added to streaming services, but we’ve got a number of beloved classics, including sci-fi films from Steven Spielberg and Luc Besson, Sofia Coppola’s acclaimed Oscar-winner, and the entire Tremors franchise, among other things. Read on for the full list:


The Machine
79%

This British sci-fi thriller is the tale of a scientist who crafts a sentient machine — and finds that the government wants his invention for military purposes.

Available now on: iTunes


Close Encounters of the Third Kind
94%

Steven Spielberg’s strange, moody, and ultimately brilliant sci-fi classic is an important bridge between the esoteric auteurism of the movie-brat generation and the awe-inspiring spectacle of the blockbuster era.

Available now on: Netflix


The Fifth Element
71%

Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, and Chris Tucker star in Luc Besson’s cult fave, a visually inventive and gleefully over the top piece of pop sci-fi that never takes itself too seriously.

Available now on: Netflix


Amistad
77%

Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey, and Djimon Hounsou star in Steven Spielberg’s historical drama about the aftermath of a slave ship rebellion.

Available now on: Netflix


House – (full series)

As played by Hugh Laurie, Dr. Gregory House was one of TV’s most likeable misanthropes, and he helped to make House a consistently satisfying blend of hospital dramedy and detective procedural.

Available now on: Netflix


Tremors 1-4
86%

Starring Kevin Bacon, Tremors was an old-fashioned monster movie with an interesting setting. So naturally, they made three sequels.

Available now on: Crackle, Crackle (part 2), Crackle (part 3), Crackle (part 4)


Lost in Translation
95%

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson star in this meloncholy dramedy from Sofia Coppola about a pair of displaced Americans sharing a connection under the bright lights of modern Tokyo.

Available now on: Crackle


Tyson
85%

Director James Toback crafts an intimate portrait of former heavyweight champ “Iron” Mike Tyson in this riviting documentary.

Available now on: Crackle

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