We’ve got a couple of explosive action films headlining the column this week, along with another retelling of the greatest story ever told, a new box set for an iconic TV series, a few indie films, and a handful of TV season sets. Read on for details:



Joel Kinnaman stars as Alex Murphy, a police officer in a near-future Detroit who barely survives a car bomb explosion, only to be reborn as the titular cyborg as part of an experimental program. José Padilha’s RoboCop split critics down the middle at 49% on the Tomatometer; though most felt it did little to distinguish itself from Paul Verhoeven’s subversive 1987 film, quite a few thought the remake was a lot better than it had any right to be. The DVD/Blu-ray/digital copy/UltraViolet pack includes a handful of deleted scenes, three featurettes, ten Omnicorp-branded spotlights on the various machines and weapons from the film, and a couple of trailers.

Lone Survivor


This based-on-true-events story stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster as a team of Navy SEALs tasked with the covert elimination of an important Taliban leader; when they are unexpectedly discovered by local shepherds, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Though some critics found what they considered a jingoistic angle to be a bit hard to swallow, most were taken by Lone Survivor‘s propulsive action and sheer visceral power, leading to a Certified Fresh 75% Tomatometer score. Disc bonuses are limited to one lengthy featurette profiling Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg’s character) and a number of shorter ones ranging in content from typical behind-the-scenes pieces to a collection of tributes to the real life soldiers involved in the failed operation.

Son of God


Pieced together from the History Channel’s 10-hour miniseries covering The Bible, Son of God focuses solely on the rise and fall (and rise again) of Christianity’s central figure, played by Portugese actor Diogo Morgado. Most critics agreed that this presentation of the oft-told tale was hokey and heavy-handed, not to mention a bit choppy and inelegantly constructed, and it earned a mere 21% on the Tomatometer. The faithful ones who will be picking this up can expect a couple of mini-docs on modern-day Christianity and a making-of video, among other extras.

Breaking Bad – The Complete Series

Widely considered one of the greatest American television series ever produced, Breaking Bad came to a close in late September last year, ending the meth-cooking misadventures of Walter “Heisenberg” White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Critics rated the show Certified Fresh in each of its seasons, all of which sit at an impressive 100% with the exception of the first (78%). The new box set being released this week contains essentially the same content as the previously available collectible set that came in the replica money barrel, except that it’s packaged more traditionally and doesn’t include all the nifty extras like the commemorative coin or the Los Pollos Hermanos apron. Otherwise, you’ll still get the 55 hours of bonus features, so this is ideal for anyone who was waiting for a more compact set.

Also available this week:

  • The Trouble with the Truth (93%), starring Lea Thompson in a drama about a divorced couple reuniting and reminiscing after their own daughter gets engaged.
  • What’s In A Name? (75%), a French comedy about a father-to-be who causes a family ruckus when he announces his child’s controversial name.
  • The Motel Life (71%), starring Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff as two brothers on the run when one of them flees from the scene of a car accident.
  • The Pretty One (45%), starring Zoe Kazan in a coming-of-age comedy about a shy girl who assumes her twin’s identity when she falls for a new neighbor.
  • In the Blood (44%), starring Gina Carano and Cam Gigandet in a thriller about a deadly woman who must confront her past when her husband is kidnapped on their honeymoon.
  • Season one of Graceland (69%), which follows a team of law enforcement officers operating out of a confiscated mansion.
  • Season three of AMC’s mystery series The Killing (67%), which has been picked up by Netflix for a six-episode conclusion, scheduled to become available this August.
  • Season six of HBO’s vampire drama True Blood (40%), which begins its final season on June 22.
  • Season four of Comedy Central’s Workaholics, centering on three housemates/co-workers who also happen to be idiots.

This week at the movies, we’ve got the God of thunder (Thor: The Dark World, starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman) and a time-traveling romantic (About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams). What do the critics have to say?

Thor: The Dark World


With a half-dozen movie franchises and a network TV series, the Avengers ecosystem has been a commercial juggernaught for Marvel, though one could be forgiven for wondering if the brand is a bit over-extended. Thankfully, critics say Thor: The Dark World is a rock-solid entry in Marvel’s cinematic canon, with enough muscular thrills and goofy humor to compensate for its occasionally confusing plot. This time out, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must stop an ancient race called the Dark Elves from plunging the cosmos into darkness. Things get personal when one of the elves inhabits the body of Thor’s sweetheart Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and he’s forced to team up with his untrustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in order to save the universe. The pundits say Thor: The Dark World suffers from a bit too much exposition, but its action sequences are suitably stirring and Tom Hiddleston’s puckish performance nearly steals the show. (Watch our video interviews with Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Portman, and more, and click through our gallery of Marvel movie heroes.)

About Time


Just because a romantic comedy is saccharine, schmaltzy, and predictable doesn’t mean it won’t turn audiences’ hearts to mush. Critics say that’s the case with About Time, an overly sentimental but often sweet and poignant charmer from Love Actually director Richard Curtis. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is a single guy who learns from his father that he has the ability to travel back in time to change his fate. However, when he utilizes his strange gift to woo Mary (Rachel McAdams), he discovers that other aspects of his life don’t quite line up the way he’d like them to. The pundits say that About Time is sometimes sappy and illogical, but Gleeson and McAdams make for an appealing onscreen couple. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down McAdams’ best-reviewed movies.)

12 Years a Slave


After winning raves in limited release, 12 Years a Slave goes wide this week, and critics say it’s arguably the most powerful cinematic depiction of slavery ever captured on film. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, a free man who’s kidnapped and sold into slavery; he quickly learns that in order to survive, he must suppress his identity and keep his head down while periodically enduring a series of painful and dehumanizing punishments. The pundits say that the Certified Fresh 12 Years a Slave is a painful but important work, thanks to Steve McQueen‘s brilliant direction and an Oscar-worthy performance from Ejiofor.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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