This week on home video, we’ve got a little something for everyone, whether you’re looking for some fantastical drama, a bit of sword-and-sandal action, a dash of spy intrigue, or just something to babysit the kids for an hour and a half. Plus, there’s a few smaller releases also worth mentioning, as well as a couple of notable series sets of fan favorite TV shows. Read on for details:



Disney’s Maleficent had a few things going for it: a charismatic, larger-than-life A-lister in the lead role, an intriguing twist on a familiar tale, and a Disney-sized budget for some wild special effects. The only thing it could have used, apparently, was a bit more help in the writer’s room. Angelina Jolie stars as the titular sorceress from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, a fairy once betrayed by the man she loved whose actions are motivated by vengeance. Unfortunately, for every critic who felt it was a novel retelling of the story, there was another who didn’t think there was enough substance to justify the film, despite a winning performance from Jolie and a fair amount of visual spectacle. Maleficent ultimately split critics down the middle, earning a 49 percent Tomatometer score. Bonus features include a handful of short making-of docs and five deleted scenes.



As long as we’re talking about fantastical tales, we might as well mention Hercules, Brett Ratner’s (After the Sunset, Tower Heist) take on the tale of the legendary demi-god. Dwayne Johnson (The Tooth Fairy) dons the armor here, aided by a misfit gang of mercenaries and his nephew, Iolaus (Reece Ritchie), whose job it is to spread (embellished) word of Hercules’s exploits. When Hercules is hired to train the armies of Thrace to defend against the attack of an invading warlord, he finds himself in the middle of a complicated power struggle. Johnson is almost always fun to watch, and surrounded by the likes of Ian McShane, John Hurt, and Rufus Sewell, among others, he gave most critics what they were expecting, especially in a Brett Ratner film. At 59 percent on the Tomatomter, Hercules performed about as well as anyone could have predicted. Special features include featurettes on the characters, the weapons, and special effects, as well as some deleted and extended scenes, plus more.

Planes: Fire and Rescue


In case you missed it, Disney’s direct-to-video studio, Disneytoon, made a Cars spinoff called Planes last year and released it in theaters, and though most grown-ups saw it for what it was — a fairly standard money grab intended to capitalize on the immense kid-popularity of the Pixar property — most kids saw it for what it also was, namely, “Ooh, talking planes!” No surprise, then, that we got a sequel this year, though it is somewhat surprising that it was actually better-received than the original (and only four percentage points below Maleficent on the Tomatometer). Dane Cook reprises his role as the voice of Dusty the ambitious cropduster-turned-racing plane, who inadvertently sets an airport on fire and subsequently decides to take on a new career as a firefighter. This isn’t top notch animated entertainment or particularly inventive storytelling, agree most critics, but it’s a pleasantly agreeable enough diversion for the kids, if you’re in the market for that. Extras include a handful of animated shorts, a look at some of the real vehicles that inspired the characters, and a few other items, all kid-friendly.

A Most Wanted Man


Depending on what you think of the franchise, it’s almost a little disappointing that the final two screen appearances of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman — an extremely gifted, versatile Oscar-winner — will come in the form of a supporting role in a blockbuster YA series, even if it is The Hunger Games. Thankfully, he also recently starred in a smaller thriller that arguably made much better use of his talents. In the John le Carré adaptation A Most Wanted Man, Hoffman plays Gunther Bachmann, a German intelligence agent on the trail of a Chechen refugee he suspects is a terrorist with ties to Al Qaeda. Following up on a separate lead, Bachmann teams up with another German official and an American diplomat to infiltrate a local network and analyze the threat. A Most Wanted Man is Certified Fresh at 90 percent on the Tomatometer, with critics calling it a smart, thoughtfully told thriller that builds suspense as it moves along. There are only two bonus features: a standard making-of featurette, and a 9-minute interview with le Carré discussing his personal history in intelligence.

Also available this week:

  • The Dog (94 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary about John Wojtowicz, the man whose fascinating story inspired Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon.
  • The Discoverers (88 percent), starring Griffin Dunne in a road trip comedy about a professor en route to a conference with his kids who takes a detour when he learns his father has gone missing.
  • The One I Love (80 percent), starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss in a dramedy about a struggling married couple who retreat to a remote cabin to rekindle their love, only to discover the guest house holds a bizarre, mysterious secret.
  • Frontera (54 percent), starring Ed Harris and Michael Pena in a drama about a Mexican immigrant who is suspected of murdering an Arizona sheriff’s wife.
  • Premature (41 percent), a coming-of-age comedy about a high school senior who discovers he relives the same day over and over again… every time he has an orgasm.
  • Season two of HBO’s The Newsroom (69 percent), starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer, is available on DVD and Blu-ray, ahead of its season three premiere this weekend.
  • Universal is releasing a Complete Series set of the popular NBC show Quantum Leap, which stars Scott Bakula as a quantum physicist whose consciousness jumps through time, temporarily inhabiting the bodies of different people.
  • Fans of the BBC’s Sherlock might be interested in the Sherlock Limited Edition Gift Set, which includes all three seasons of the series to date on DVD/Blu-ray combo discs, new bonus features, collectible busts of both Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson, and a couple of art cards.

In Theaters This Week:

Forrest Gump


Rating: PG-13, for drug content, some sensuality, and war violence.

Robert Zemeckis’ drama, the winner of six Academy Awards including best picture, is back in theaters in honor of its 20th anniversary — in IMAX, no less. Life is like a really, really big box of chocolates. In case you’re unfamiliar: Tom Hanks stars as the title character, a mentally challenged man who nonetheless finds himself at the center of the most important events of the second half of the 20th century. He teaches Elvis Presley how to dance. He meets Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. He takes part in the civil rights movement. He fights in the Vietnam War. There’s a lot of mature subject matter as well as some explicit language, bloody war violence, drug use and a suicide attempt. Its ultimate message is inspiring and all — and it was revolutionary from a technical perspective in its day, so that might be worth revisiting — but it’s probably only suitable for kids around 11 or 12 and older.

The Longest Week


Rating: PG-13, for sexual content and smoking.

Jason Bateman stars as the wealthy and useless heir to a hotel fortune who finds he must fend for himself on the mean streets of fashionable Manhattan when his parents cut him off financially. Billy Crudup plays an artist who’s his equally vapid best friend, and Olivia Wilde plays the model they both love. It’s got a lot of Woody Allen and a lot of Wes Anderson and a lot of French New Wave (which influenced both of those directors), so the pretentious settings and intellectual talk will go over younger viewers’ heads. Bateman’s character prides himself on his family’s exclusive brand of cigarettes, so there’s a lot of smoking. His character and Wilde’s also have sex. For mature tweens to young teens and older, probably.



Rating: PG-13, for violence including a sexual assault, and for brief strong language.

Ed Harris stars as a retired sheriff whose beloved wife dies under mysterious circumstances on the family’s rugged property along the Arizona-Mexico border. An illegal immigrant (Michael Pena) who was trying to help her instead finds himself charged with her murder, and the man’s pregnant wife (Eva Longoria) ends up in trouble herself when she crosses the border to try and find him. Lots of gunfire and dangerous situations, plus about half of the dialogue is in Spanish with subtitles. Most importantly, though, a woman is subjected to a brutal sexual assault. This is probably only suitable for mature younger teens and up.

New On DVD:

Draft Day


Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and sexual references.

Director Ivan Reitman’s comic drama takes place in the testosterone-fueled world of professional football on one of the most important, impactful dates on the calendar: draft day. Hence the title. So it’s no surprise that there’s some rough talk and profanity, including the one well-chosen F-bomb you get with a PG-13 rating from star Kevin Costner. He plays the general manager of the beleaguered Cleveland Browns, who must juggle the demands of athletes, agents, team executives, competitors, the media, fans and even his own mother. There’s also a slightly mature subplot involving Costner’s relationship with a fellow executive, played by Jennifer Garner. But this isn’t the best film for kids and pre-teens — not because of anything inappropriate, but because they’ll be bored. Reitman focuses on the nitty-gritty of NFL machinations: the phone calls, manipulation and trading that go on between teams. But teens and up will probably enjoy it, especially if they’re into football (or even fantasy football).

Moms’ Night Out


Rating: PG, for some thematic elements and some action.

This Christian-themed action comedy is pretty wholesome and harmless for the whole family. Three stressed-out moms (Sarah Drew, Andrea Logan White and Patricia Heaton) dare to go out for a much-needed evening of fun. Crazy but ultimately faith-affirming things happen: a visit to a tattoo parlor, a chase involving the nicest bikers you’d ever hope to meet, and a trip to jail, eventually, where a wacky stun-gun accident occurs. An ugly fate befalls a pet bird but it takes place off-screen. No one drinks or even curses. This is perfectly suitable if you’re looking for bland, inoffensive entertainment for all ages. It’s also terrible.

This week at the movies, we’ve got just one wide release: The Identical, starring Blake Rayne, Ashley Judd, and Ray Liotta in the fictional story of an Elvis-esque rocker and his twin brother. What do the critics have to say?

The Identical


It’s a heartbreaking — and undeniably intriguing — bit of trivia that every Elvis Presley fan knows: the King had an identical twin brother who was stillborn. What would have happened had Jesse Presley survived? Unfortunately, critics say The Identical takes this premise and squanders it on a schmaltzy, unintentionally funny plot sprinkled with bland tunes and uneven performances. Blake Rayne plays a dual role as brothers separated by birth. One grows up to become a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, and the other is expected to join the ministry — though he finds the lure of music hard to resist. The pundits say The Identical is well-meaning but surprisingly ham-fisted; it’s a movie about a rock star that’s short on edge or memorable music.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • No No: A Dockumentary, a portrait of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis and the no-hitter he threw while on acid, is at 100 percent.
  • Wetlands, a transgressive dramedy about a teenager who acts out while dealing with her parents’ divorce, is at 94 percent.
  • Last Days in Vietnam, a documentary about the evacuation of South Vietnamese collaborators from Saigon, is at 92 percent.
  • Memphis, a drama about a few days in the life of a troubled soul singer, is at 75 percent.
  • God Help the Girl, starring Emily Browning in a coming-of-age comedy directed by Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, is at 71 percent.
  • Thunder and the House of Magic, an animated adventure about a cat who moves into a magician’s house, is at 68 percent.
  • Kelly & Cal, starring Juliette Lewis in a drama about an alienated suburban mom who befirends a teen from the neighborhood, is at 64 percent.
  • Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It, featuring the Canadian goofballs in a mockumentary about keeping marijuana illegal so as not to hurt their thriving business, is at 57 percent.
  • Frontera, starring Ed Harris and Michael Peña in a drama about a murder investigation along the Mexico-Arizona border, is at 55 percent.
  • The Longest Week, starring Jason Bateman and Olivia Wilde in a comedy about a writer who moves in with his best friend and falls in love with his girlfriend, is at 22 percent.
  • Innocence, a dark drama about a troubled girl at a sinister boarding school, is at zero percent.

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