This week on home video, we’ve got the penultimate installment of the Hunger Games franchise, the final installment of the Night at the Museum franchise, and a handful of other releases. It was a pretty thin week for big titles, but there are a couple of smaller films worth a look. Read on for details:


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) 65%

Yes, technically speaking, this came out last week on Friday. But since it bucked the typical “Tuesday release” trend, we’re doing a bit of our own trend-bucking and talking about it today. Chances are that you won’t pick this up for yourself if you haven’t seen the first two films, and if you saw the first two films, you’re probably a fan, which means you more than likely saw Mockingjay Part 1 in the theaters. In other words, it’s probably enough just to know that it’s officially available. But for the sake of tradition, we’ll just say that the film picks up where Catching Fire left off, with the Hunger Games broken and Katniss uniting with a resistance force that wants to utilize her notoriety for its cause. Will she lead the rebellion and save Peeta? You already know, but now you can watch it at home.


Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014) 49%

If there’s one thing the Night at the Museum franchise is, it’s consistent. The first two films both notched 44 percent on the Tomatometer, and the final installment, Secret of the Tomb earned a 49 percent score. The film stars Ben Stiller as everyman museum security guard Larry Daley, whose friends consist of exhibits brought to life by an ancient mystical tablet. This time around, Larry discovers the magic of the tablet is fading, so he and a select few members of the gang visit the British Museum in London for answers, and hijinks ensue. Sadly, this film is likely to be most remembered as the final onscreen performance of Robin Williams, who offers a touching and surprisingly fitting goodbye as Teddy Roosevelt to Stiller’s Larry, but the series has been successful and popular with the kids, so it’s probably not a terrible home library pickup.


 

ALSO AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:

The Sound of Music (1965) (85 percent) is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a new Blu-ray release.
The Breakfast Club (1985) (90 percent) is also celebrating an anniversary this year — its 30th — so there’s a new Blu-ray release for that as well.
Listen Up Philip (2014) (84 percent), starring Jason Schwartzman and Elizabeth Moss in a comedy about a writer who accepts an invitation to stay at his idol’s summer home.
R100 (2015) (82 percent), Hitoshi Matsumoto’s off-beat comedy-drama about a man who indulges in a unique S&M service, only to be randomly accosted by dominatrixes of different varieties in public.
WolfCop (2014) (65 percent), a Canadian horror-comedy about, well, a wolf cop.
Low Down (2014) (51 percent), starring John Hawkes and Elle Fanning in a drama set in 1970s Hollywood about a heroin-addicted musician and his relationship to his daughter.

This week at the movies, we’ve got an avenging hitman (John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves and Adrianne Palicki), a bedeviled board (Ouija, starring Olivia Cooke and Douglas Smith), and an inspirational gridiron tale (23 Blast, starring Mark Hapka and Alexa Vega). What do the critics have to say?


John Wick

86%

He’s taken some lumps over the years, but when it comes right down to it, Keanu Reeves is one of our most dependable action stars. Time will tell if John Wick will join Speed and The Matrix in the action movie pantheon, but critics say this is a stylish, briskly-paced thriller with terrific fight scenes and some sly humor. Reeves stars as a retired hitman reeling from the death of his wife when mob-affiliated hoods break into his house and kill his dog. Soon, our hero is back in the game — and practically every gangster in town is in fear for his life. The pundits say the Certified Fresh John Wick is the kind of muscular, full-throttle action flick that’s made with such skill and energy you’ll barely notice how thin the plot is. (Watch our video interview with Reeves.)



Ouija

6%

Ah, the mysterious Ouija board. Imbued with alleged occult powers, it’s been used to add spice to plenty of frightfests over the years, from 13 Ghosts to The Exorcist to Paranormal Activity. Now, everybody’s favorite board is ready for its close-up, but critics say Ouija fails to conjure much excitement aside from a few jump-scares. When a teenager dies in an accident, her friends attempt to contact her in the great beyond, awaking a malevolent spirit in the process. The pundits say Ouija is competently made but thoroughly bland and decidedly short on creepiness.



23 Blast

36%

Made with the best of intentions and based upon a remarkable true story, 23 Blast would seem to have all the pieces in place to wring tears from even the most hardened pigskin fans. Unfortunately, critics say the movie could use a lesson in clock management; despite fine acting from a group of seasoned pros, the film’s narrative is a little too slack. Travis Freeman (Mark Hapka) is a high school football player who loses his vision from an inflammation of meningitis, but with the help of his family and friends, he eventually returns to the field. The pundits say 23 Blast has a nice sense of place and a few touching moments, but it’s awfully predictable.

Certified Fresh on TV:



After a rollicking, action-packed premiere, The Walking Dead mellowed out a bit for its second episode; critics say “Strangers”(100 percent) settles into a more deliberate, dialogue-heavy groove while still maintaining suspense.

 



Critics were mixed (but mostly positive) for the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy, saying that while it relied too heavily on brutal plot twists for effect, saying goodbye to a familiar face gives “Greensleeves”(70 percent) some emotional weight.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Heart Machine, an indie thriller about a Manhattanite who suspects his long-distance girlfriend may be catfishing him, is at 100 percent.
  • Citizenfour, a documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is Certified Fresh at 98 percent.
  • Force Majeure , a black comedy about a Swedish family on a ski trip in the Alps dealing with the fallout from a powerful avalanche, is at 97 percent.
  • 1,000 Times Good Night , starring Juliette Binoche and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in a drama about an idealistic war photographer whose family fears for her safety, is at 65 percent.
  • Laggies, starring Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz in a drama about an aimless woman in her late 20s who befriends a teenager as an escape from adult responsibility, is at 62 percent.
  • Stonehearst Asylum, starring Kate Beckinsale and Ben Kingsley in a period thriller about a young doctor who discovers the inmates are literally running the asylum, is at 57 percent.
  • White Bird in a Blizzard, starring Shailene Woodley and Eva Green in a dark dramedy about a teenager’s response to the disappearance of her overbearing mother, is at 53 percent.
  • Alain ResnaisLife of Riley, a drama about a group of close friends dealing with the news that one member of their circle has a terminal illness, is at 50 percent.
  • Exists, a found-footage horror film about a group of friends trying to find evidence of Bigfoot while on vacation in rural Texas, is at 29 percent.
  • Low Down, starring John Hawkes and Elle Fanning in a drama about a heroin-addicted jazz pianist and his daughter, is at 18 percent.
  • Revenge of the Green Dragons, a thriller about a gang member who targets his old comrades after a love affair goes wrong, is at 14 percent.

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