This week on home video, we’ve got a well-received sci-fi actioner starring Tom Cruise, a feelgood sports drama starring Jon Hamm, and a western spoof starring Seth MacFarlane. Then, we’ve got loads of TV and number of noteworthy indie films, as well as a Disney classic fresh from the vault. Read on for details:



Live. Die. Repeat./Edge of Tomorrow

91%

Based on the popular Japanese novella All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow (or, alternately, Live. Die. Repeat.) was one of the early surprise hits of this summer. Tom Cruise stars as William Cage, a military PR man who finds himself thrown into the heat of battle in a suicide mission. Through a chance encounter on the battlefield, Cage discovers he can relive the day over and over each time he?s killed, and uses the opportunity to team up with a veteran soldier (Emily Blunt), train, and change the outcome of the war. Though the premise could have quickly worn out its welcome, critics found the film quite clever and surprisingly funny, and thanks to solid performances from Cruise, Blunt, and a strong supporting cast, Edge of Tomorrow thrilled its way to a Certified Fresh 90 percent on the Tomatometer. The DVD/Blu-ray combo pack includes three featurettes on the armor worn in the movie, the aliens, and the pivotal battle sequence; a short doc on the making of the film; and a handful of deleted scenes. (If you’re wondering why the title is listed that way, that’s pretty much how it’s written on the packaging.)



Million Dollar Arm

64%

Jon Hamm is certainly a charming fellow, so it makes sense to tap his font of likability for a feelgood based-on-true-events sports drama like Million Dollar Arm. Part underdog tale, part fish-out-of-water comedy, Arm follows struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Hamm) as he travels to India to recruit the country?s best cricket bowlers as prospective pitchers in the MLB. He finds two potential winners and brings them back to the US in hopes of prepping them for the big leagues. The themes at play are familiar, and Million Dollar Arm hits all the right story beats of its genre; for some critics, this made the film too predictable to enjoy, but others were willing to overlook that for Hamm’s good guy charisma and the film’s overall pleasantness. The Blu-ray includes a look at the actors’ training sequence, a profile of the real events of the story, outtakes, deleted scenes, and more.



A Million Ways to Die in the West

33%

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane made his big screen directorial debut with Ted, a live action comedy that nevertheless found MacFarlane voicing the titular stuffed bear, and the result was a sizable hit. Earlier this year, MacFarlane directed himself in the flesh for the first time in the western spoof A Million Ways to Die in the West, and the result was less impressive. When a timid sheep farmer loses his girlfriend after he backs out of a duel, he befriends a beautiful newcomer (Charlize Theron) to the town who helps him discover his courage. The only problem is, said beautiful newcomer is the main squeeze of the most dastardly outlaw (Liam Neeson) around, and he don’t like nobody touchin’ his lady. Critics acknowledged the talented cast MacFarlane was able to assemble, but lamented its overlong, meandering plot and hit-or-miss juvenile gags, resulting in a disappointing 33 percent Tomatometer. Bonus features include an alternate opening and ending, alternate scenes, a gag reel, a commentary track, and a look behind the scenes.

Also available this week:

  • Disney is releasing a new Diamond Edition DVD and Blu-ray of Sleeping Beauty (92 percent), for those who may have missed it the last time it made its way out of the vault.
  • To Be Takei (90 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary profiling the charismatic Star Trek actor, political activist, and social media icon.
  • Obvious Child (88 percent), starring Jenny Slate in a Certified Fresh comedy about a young stand-up comic dealing with the loss of her job, a breakup, and a new pregnancy all at once.
  • Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (76 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary chronicling the career of the influential talent manager.
  • Sharknado 2: The Second One (56 percent), starring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid in the follow-up to the wildly popular Syfy shlock movie about a tornado full of sharks.
  • Season two of The History Channel’s first foray into fiction storytelling, the historical adventure series Vikings (92 percent) is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season two of A&E’s Psycho spinoff/prequel Bates Motel (86 percent) is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season three of Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series American Horror Story (81 percent), subtitled “Coven” and focusing on witches, is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season six of The Following (47 percent) is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Psych: The Complete Series is available in a 31-disc DVD collection and comes with a ton of bonus features on every disc.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a time-looping soldier (Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt) and literate teens in love (The Fault In Our Stars, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort). What do the critics have to say?



Edge of Tomorrow

91%

On paper, a high-concept blend of Groundhog Day and Starship Troopers sounds like a recipe for disaster. In practice, critics say Edge of Tomorrow is a thoroughly entertaining sci-fi action flick with a sharp sense of humor and muscular acting from Tom Cruise. With the planet under attack from alien invaders, Major William Cage (Cruise) is sent into battle — and killed instantly. However, he finds himself in a time loop, reliving the same battle scenario and gradually discovering how to defeat the enemy. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Edge of Tomorrow is a rare beast — it’s a pulpy, visceral shoot-em-up that’s also intelligent and character-driven. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Cruise’s best-reviewed movies.)



The Fault In Our Stars

81%

When a beloved bestseller is adapted to the big screen, there’s inevitably some trepidation within the book’s fan base. After all, doesn’t Hollywood always screw up what made the book so special? Thankfully, critics say The Fault In Our Stars does John Green’s novel proud, thanks to a fine performance by Shailene Woodley and a script that that (mostly) avoids cliches on the way to its heart-tugging conclusion. Woodley stars as Hazel, a tough-minded teenager with thyroid cancer who reluctantly joins a cancer support group. There, she meets a sweet cancer survivor named Gus (Ansel Elgort), and the two bond over a love of literature. The pundits say The Fault In Our Stars occasionally veers into schmaltzy territory, but it’s crafted with an earnestness and sensitivity that’s tough to resist. (Check out our video interview with Woodley and Elgort, and flip through our gallery of contemporary books that have been adapted into films.)

Certified Fresh

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Bobcat Goldthwait‘s Willow Creek, a found footage horror film about two guys who go looking for Bigfoot, is at 95 percent.
  • Test, a drama about the love affair between two dancers in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, is at 90 percent.
  • Obvious Child, a comedy about a standup comedian who discovers she’s pregnant just as she loses her job and her boyfriend, is at 88 percent.
  • The Dutch import Borgman, the unconventional tale of a rural eccentric who escapes from vengeance-seeking assailants and hides out in the suburbs, is at 86 percent.
  • Dormant Beauty, starring Isabelle Huppert in a drama based on a real life euthanasia case, is at 85 percent.
  • The Case Against 8, a documentary about the Supreme Court case that overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage, is at 80 percent.
  • Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, Mike Myers‘ documentary about the famed rock manager, is at 72 percent.
  • The Sacrament, a horror film about a journalist whose search for his missing sister leads him to a mysterious religious community, is at 66 percent (check out director Ti West’s Five Favorite Films here).
  • Citizen Koch, a documentary about the controversial political donors, is at 60 percent.
  • Rigor Mortis, a horror thriller about a has-been actor who moves into a haunted apartment building, is at 57 percent.
  • Trust Me, starring Clark Gregg and Amanda Peet in a dramedy about a Hollywood agent dealing with a talented child star and her overprotective dad, is at 56 percent.
  • Ping Pong Summer, starring Susan Sarandon and Lea Thompson in a coming-of-age comedy about a table tennis-obsessed teen outcast, is at 50 percent.
  • Anna, starring Mark Strong and Taissa Farmiga in a thriller about a detective attempting to understand the mind of a teenager accused of a triple homicide, is at 33 percent.

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