This week on home video, we’ve got the latest installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, Jon Favreau’s indie hit, and the complete series of a hit Fox show that came back to television for a limited run earlier this year. On top of that, we’ve got a bunch of smaller releases starring the likes of Amy Poehler, Aaron Paul, Sam Shepard, Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, and more. Read on for details:



Transformers: Age of Extinction

17%

If you don’t know what you’re getting into when you set out to watch one of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, it may help to start with a little context. Long story short: they’re loud, chaotic, sometimes racist, sometimes misogynistic, and poorly reviewed. They’re also extremely popular worldwide, and extremely profitable, which is why it should surprise few people that, despite an 18 percent Tomatometer score, Age of Extinction earned more than $1 billion in global box office receipts. Leading a “rebooted” cast that includes Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, and Kelsey Grammar, Mark Wahlberg stars as down-on-his-luck inventor Cade Yeager, who comes into possession of a broken-down Optimus Prime and finds himself and his daughter wrapped up in a government conspiracy to hunt down all Autobots. While critics largely dismissed the film as a noisy, jumbled barrage on the senses, a few also conceded that those looking for a bombastic, effects-driven spectacle will probably get what they’re looking for. The Blu-ray comes with an entire disc of bonus features, which include an extensive series of making-of featurettes, a tour of the Hasbro facility where the toys are created, and a ten-minute interview with Bay about his approach to the film and his filmmaking style.

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Chef

87%

Though Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens) is also no stranger to big, CGI-heavy popcorn movies, he nevertheless found time to sneak in a smaller, character-driven comedy this year and managed to earn some rich praise for it. In his latest feature, Chef, Favreau plays Carl Casper, the head chef at a swanky Brentwood restaurant who, stifled by his boss’s old school ways, quits his job in a fit of anger that goes viral. Reluctantly, Carl accepts an invitation from his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) to move back home to Miami to help raise their son, and in the process, he starts a food truck business and rekindles his passion for cooking. Critics found Chef to be a breath of fresh air, a charming respite from the summer season of action-packed blockbusters, thanks to a clever script and a formidable supporting cast that also included Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr. and more. The only special features included are a commentary track and some deleted scenes, but this should make a worthy rental or purchase based on the film’s merits alone.



24: The Complete Series with Live Another Day

When Fox debuted 24 back in 2001, it would have been easy to dismiss it as a gimmick show. Each season unfolded more or less in “real time,” with episodes that covered a single hour — complete with a ticking clock — in the span of an extremely eventful day for Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), an anti-terrorist agent tasked with addressing all manner of threat to our national security. The show proved to be a critical and commercial success, and it aired successfully for eight seasons, notching dozens of nominations and awards, including 20 Emmys, before it ended its initial run in 2010. Back in May of this year, Jack Bauer returned to TV when Fox aired a 12-part series titled 24: Live Another Day, and this week, the studio is re-releasing the complete series — including Live Another Day — on DVD. It carries all of the special features available on the previous release, however, so if you already own that, you can also simply pick up Live Another Day, which is individually available on Blu-ray.

Also available this week:

  • Cold in July (86 percent), starring Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard in a Certified Fresh thriller about a family man defending himself against an ex-con seeking revenge for the murder of his son.
  • Ivory Tower (85 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary exploring whether or not college is worth the cost of massive student loan debt.
  • Lucky Them (76 percent), starring Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church in a dramedy about a journalist chasing a story about a rock legend who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend.
  • Space Station 76 (61 percent), starring Patrick Wilson and Liv Tyler in a tongue-in-cheek relationship drama set in a 1970s version of the future.
  • Hellion (59 percent), starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis in a family drama about a young father learning to cope with his wife’s death and his two sons’ increasingly delinquent behavior.
  • Paul Haggis’ Third Person (24 percent), starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, and a bevy of stars in a film connecting three separate love stories.
  • Matt Weiner’s Are You Here (7 percent), starring Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Zach Galifianakis in a road comedy about a man battling his sister for their recently deceased father’s fortune.
  • Season six of The Mentalist is available on DVD.
  • The Equalizer Complete Collection, featuring all four seasons of the 1980s action drama upon which the recent Denzel Washington film was based.

This week on streaming video, we’ve got Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men franchise, an underseen animated film, an indie comedy, an acclaimed coming-of-age film from Sweden, and a retro space drama currently in theaters. Then we’ve got some new additions to Netflix, including a Star Trek film and a John Grisham thriller starring Tom Cruise. Read on for details:


X-Men: Days of Future Past
90%

This time out, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) goes back in time to prevent an assassination that, if it’s carried out, will lead to the creation of a new weapons system that threatens the existence of the X-Men — and potentially, all of humanity.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Mr. Peabody & Sherman
81%

Canine genius Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) and his adopted charge Sherman (Max Charles) use the WABAC machine to travel back in time and ensure that history’s greatest moments happen as they should. However, when Sherman takes the machine for a joyride to impress a classmate, it’s up to his doggie guardian to rescue him.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


We Are the Best!
96%

This Certified Fresh dramedy is the tale of three Swedish teenagers who start a punk band.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Obvious Child
90%

Jenny Slate, Gaby Hoffman, and David Cross star in this Certified Fresh comedy about a stand-up comedian who discovers she’s pregnant just as she loses her job and her boyfriend.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Space Station 76
68%

Patrick Wilson and Liv Tyler star in this dramedy about romantic and professional entanglements among the crew of a retro spacecraft.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
82%

The crew of the Enterprise explores contemporary San Francisco and talks to whales in on of the lightest and most enjoyable of the Star Trek films.

Available now on: Netflix


The Firm
75%

Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Gene Hackman star in this adaptation of John Grisham’s novel about an ambitious young attorney who discovers that his firm is involved in a bunch of shady dealings.

Available now on: Netflix


The Suspect

This politically-charged action thriller is the tale of a former North Korean spy who’s framed in the murder of a wealthy businessman.

Available now on: Netflix


The Music Never Stopped
67%

J.K. Simmons and Lou Taylor Pucci star in this drama about a father who attempts to treat his son’s brain ailment with music.

Available now on: Netflix

This week at the movies, we’ve got a mysterious labyrinth (The Maze Runner, starring Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario), a tense family reunion (This is Where I Leave You, starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey), a grizzled private investigator (A Walk Among the Tombstones, starring Liam Neeson and Dan Stevens), and a walrus-obsessed killer (Tusk, starring Justin Long and Michael Parks). What do the critics have to say?



The Maze Runner

65%

Another week, another dystopian young adult novel adaptation. Fortunately, critics say The Maze Runner is better than most, thanks to strong performances and a creepy, mysterious atmosphere. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up with no memory of his past, and finds himself within the confines of the Glade, a vast maze populated by other teenagers. Using clues within the Glade, he begins to piece together the enigma of his existence — and how to escape. The pundits say The Maze Runner‘s setup is more satisfying than its payoff, but overall, it’s smart, well-acted, and visually striking.



This Is Where I Leave You

44%

This is Where I Leave You is a dramedy about a dysfunctional family starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, and many more recognizable faces. Sounds like a winner, right? Well, critics say that despite the best efforts of the cast, the movie only generates occasional laughs. When the Altman family patriarch dies, his wife and children gather to mourn; fairly quickly, deeply-held insecurities, resentments, and family secrets bubble to the surface. The pundits say that while it’s fun to see this many good actors together onscreen, This is Where I Leave You plays everything a bit too safe, with rote characterizations and clichéd conflicts that don’t cut very deep. (Watch our video interview with the cast and crew here.)



A Walk Among the Tombstones

68%

Liam Neeson’s recent transformation into a world-weary vengeance seeker has yielded uneven — though occasionally startling — dividends. Critics say his latest, A Walk Among the Tombstones, falls right in the middle — it’s an old-fashioned, meat-and-potatoes noir with better-than-average characters to offset its shopworn plot. Neeson stars as a private investigator who’s tasked with finding those responsible for the murder of a drug trafficker’s wife. He soon learns that the killers are likely to strike again, and vows to hunt them down and stop them before they do. The pundits say that A Walk Among the Tombstones is a relatively routine detective thriller, but it’s skillfully made and benefits from the gravitas Neeson brings to the proceedings. (Check out Neeson’s best-reviewed movies here, and be sure to watch our video interview here.)



Tusk

45%

Best known for his amiable, observational comedies, Kevin Smith has recently taken a detour into horror with Red State (2011) and now Tusk. And while critics say his latest is inventive and gleefully perverse, its gruesome set pieces coexist uneasily with its macabre sense of humor. Justin Long stars as Wallace, the host of a podcast that spotlights the bizarre and grotesque. He travels to Canada to interview a mysterious loner, who eventually reveals that he intends to turn Wallace into a walrus. The pundits say Tusk certainly doesn’t lack for ambition, but it too often feels strange for its own sake.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Finally, props to Andrew LaPlant for coming the closest to guessing No Good Deed‘s 11 percent Tomatometer.

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RT Podcast: Ep. 054 – Hooray for Sci-Fi: Space Station 76‘s Jack Plotnik and Marisa Coughlan
Director Jack Plotnik and star Marisa Coughlan join Grae to talk about their science fiction spoof Space Station 76, which leads them down a verbal path lined by acting advice, robot therapists, and merkins. Enjoy the conversation about this movie starring Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, and Jerry O’Connell, and go see it in theaters in LA & NYC on September 19th! Available for download from iTunes and On Demand on September 23, 2014.

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