This week on home video, we’ve got a poorly reviewed horror spoof sequel, Disneynature’s latest adventure, and a powerful one-man drama to head things off. Then, we’ve got a James McAvoy-powered Irvine Welsh adaptation and a number of smaller releases, as well as a couple of notable choices on TV. Read on for details:

A Haunted House 2


If you thought the Wayans family would be satisfied skewering horror movie conventions with their Scary Movie franchise, you were dead wrong. Marlon Wayans, the star of that franchise’s first two installments, decided to co-produce, co-write, and star in A Haunted House, another horror spoof lampooning the genre’s influx of Paranormal Activity-styled found footage films. Made on a budget of $2.5 million, the film grossed over $60 million worldwide despite dismal reviews, so this year we got a sequel, whether we wanted it or not. Filled with the usual gags and pop culture references, A Haunted House 2 was even less impressive, netting an 8 percent Tomatometer score and a paltry $24 million in box office receipts. For those of you willing to brave it, special features are limited to just a commentary track and some deleted and extended scenes.



BBC nature producer Alastair Fothergill and his team of supremely talented photographers have proven to be a rather great match for Disneynature, as the latter has consistently turned the former’s stunning work into successful feature films. Their latest joint effort is Bears, which opened back in April. In lieu of Dick Butkus, John C. Reilly was hired to narrate the tale of an Alaskan grizzly bear and her two cubs as they overcome obstacles and learn to survive over the course of a year. Certified Fresh at 91 percent, Bears earned the best reviews of any Disneynature film to date, with critics applauding its typically outstanding cinematography and its sweet-but-not-too-sweet story. The Blu-ray includes four featurettes covering how the film was made and a music video by Olivia Holt.



If you’re going to make a movie that largely (or entirely) rests on the charisma of its lead, it’s best to get someone with the chops to pull it off properly. Cast Away had Tom Hanks, All Is Lost had Robert Redford, and even Ryan Reynolds surprised some folks with his work in Buried. Likewise, Steven Knight’s single-location drama features Tom Hardy driving in his car and talking on his cell phone for the entirety of its 85-minute runtime, and it worked like gangbusters, according to critics. Ivan Locke (Hardy) is a construction foreman who, on the night before an important job, discovers the co-worker he had a one-night stand with is about to give birth; racing to be with her, Ivan phones his family, his mistress, and a colleague, juggling his responsibilities the best he can. Hardy offered up a powerhouse performance in Locke and critics took notice, rewarding his efforts with a Certified Fresh 88 percent on the Tomatometer. The only features available on the home video release are an audio commentary with Knight and a making-of featurette.



Irvine Welsh adaptations haven’t seen much success since Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting first brought his work to the big screen — 1998’s The Acid House was disjointed at best, and 2012’s Ecstasy was essentially a poor rehash of Trainspotting (even its poster mimicked the earlier film). Released last year in the UK and earlier this year in the US, Filth hoped to fare better, employing a cast that included Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Poots, and as the manipulative, drug-addled, alcoholic, abusive Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, James “Young Professor X” McAvoy. The film follows Robertson’s exploits as he investigates the murder of a Japanese student, slowly descending into insanity amid severe hallucinations. It’s a dark, twisted comedy, and most critics went along with it, particularly for McAvoy’s performance, even if many found the film lived up to its title a bit too accurately. Another fairly barebones release, Filth comes with just a behind the scenes featurette and its theatrical trailer.

Also available this week:

  • The Railway Man (66 percent), starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman in a true story about Eric Lomax, a former WWII POW who discovers years later that his Japanese interpreter is still alive, and seeks him out.
  • Breathe In (54 percent), starring Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones in a drama about a foreign exchange student who upsets the balance in her host family’s home.
  • Hateship Loveship (51 percent), starring Kristen Wiig and Guy Pearce in a dramedy about a young girl who plots a faux relationship online between her housekeeper and her widower father.
  • Summer in February (36 percent), starring Dominic Cooper and Emily Browning in the dramatized true story of painter Sir Alfred Munnings, who falls in love with the same woman as his closest friend.
  • Frankie & Alice (21 percent), starring Halle Berry and Stellan Skarsgard in a drama about a woman with multiple personality disorder trying to make sense of her condition.
  • Rage (15 percent) starring Nicolas Cage in an action thriller about a man with a violent past who seeks revenge when his daughter is kidnapped.
  • The Certified Fresh first season of NBC’s The Blacklist (82 percent) is available on DVD.
  • Season one of AMC drama Low Winter Sun (45 percent) is also available on DVD.
This week at the movies, we’ve got Brazilian birds (Rio 2, with voice performances by Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg), a pigskin professional (Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner), and a malevolent mirror (Oculus, starring Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane). What do the critics have to say?

Rio 2


Plenty of animated films can entertain the kiddies for two hours without leaving much of an impression. Critics say Rio 2 is visually sharp and action-packed, but it’s also overly busy and short on big laughs. Married macaws Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) have settled down with their chicks in the big city, but when an ornithologist discovers a flock of endangered blue macaws, the family travels to the Amazon rainforest, where they find a group of birds who can’t relate to Blu’s city-slicker ways. The pundits say that althoughRio 2 is colorful and energetic, its lack of storytelling discipline and overabundance of musical numbers makes for a thinner experience than its predecessor. (Check out our video interview with the stars of Rio 2 here.)

Draft Day


Moneyball proved that front-office action could be as riveting as anything on the playing field. Unfortunately, critics say that while Draft Day is slick and well acted, it suffers from predictable plotting and a shortage of insight. Costner stars as Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver, who’s tasked with rebuilding the team after another losing season. But Sonny’s not just worried about the Browns’ roster — he’s got a host of family issues to deal with as well. The pundits say Costner is rock-solid in the lead role, but the other characters aren’t as well fleshed out, and the film often fumbles the football details. (Watch our interview with the stars of Draft Day, and browse our gallery of memorable football movies.)



If you think you’ve seen every permutation on the haunted house horror flick template, think again. Critics say Oculus is a very effective frightfest, one that features interesting characters and an encompassing sense of dread. After the bizarre death of their parents, a pair of siblings return to their childhood home in order to confront the murderous party responsible: a haunted antique mirror that has the power to distort reality. The pundits say Oculus is sharply crafted, well acted, and often very scary.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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