The new year is almost upon us, which means most of you have already bought all the holiday gifts you’re going to buy this year. Having said that, this week’s home video releases are a little more off beat than last week’s, even if they aren’t as well-reviewed. Read on for details:



The Equalizer

60%

Little girls in peril really seem to set Denzel Washington on the warpath, don’t they? Washington reunited with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for this gritty thriller based on the 1980s television series of the same name, and though results were less impressive this time around, critics mostly thought The Equalizer was a decent flick. Chloe Grace Moretz plays the damselette in distress, a teenage sex worker named Alina who happens to be pals with ex-black ops agent Robert McCall (Washington). When Alina is beaten by her pimp, McCall takes him out, running afoul of the Russian mob and throwing himself back into a life he swore he’d leave behind. Those looking for a bit of swift, stylish justice meted out by an aging but still effective Denzel will get plenty of that — and, frankly, little else — here, but sometimes that’s okay; critics largely thought it was enough, anyway, awarding the film a 61 percent Tomatometer. It’s another thin week for new releases, so this’ll make a decent watch for action junkies.



Tusk

45%

Kevin Smith?s second foray into horror wasn’t a huge failure, but it wasn’t especially well-received by critics, either. In fact, the story behind Tusk‘s creation is arguably more interesting than the film itself: Smith and fellow Smodcast-er Scott Mosier came across an ad placed for free living space… provided that the tenant dress like a walrus. The ad was later revealed to be a joke, but that didn’t stop Smith and Mosier from conjuring an entire hypothetical story about a man who is held captive and slowly transformed into a walrus by a mad surgeon, and thanks to Smodcast fans who voted to have the tale brought to life on screen, Tusk was born. Critics appreciated the film’s wry self-awareness, but felt that the story’s premise nevertheless was too thin to stretch into a feature-length film, resulting in a mediocre 39 percent Tomatometer. If you’re looking for a bit of ridiculous genre fun, this might do it for you, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Also available this week:

  • Stephen King’s A Good Marriage (37 percent), starring Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia in a thriller about a woman who discovers what may be her husband’s darkest secret while he is away on business.
  • Last Weekend (29 percent), starring Patricia Clarkson in a dramedy about a family matriarch who gathers her sons to their vacation home for a final weekend together before she sells it.
  • Elsa & Fred (25 percent), starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer in a comedy about two aging romantics who find each other.
  • Season four of Showtime’s Shameless (100 percent), starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum in a dark comedy centered around a highly dysfunctional family, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season two of Cinemax’s Banshee (89 percent), about an ex-con who assumes the identity of a murdered local sherriff, is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a perilous space mission (Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) and a boy and his robot (Big Hero 6, featuring voice performances by Ryan Potter and Scott Adsit). What do the critics have to say?


Interstellar

72%

Many have tried, but few have approached 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s heady mix of philosophical depth and space adventure (though last year’s Gravity had its moments). Director Christopher Nolan is clearly gunning for the sci-fi pantheon with Interstellar, and while critics say the movie is loaded with ambition and jaw-dropping visuals, its plot is sometimes a muddle. In the not-too-distant future, Earth is on the verge of becoming uninhabitable. Coop (Matthew McConaughey) a former test pilot, is recruited for a risky mission to find another planet that might be able to sustain human life. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Interstellar veers between brilliance and bombast, but its best moments approximate a sense of awe that recalls Andrei Tarkovsky‘s’s Solaris. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down McConaughey’s best-reviewed films, as well as our interviews with the stars.)



Big Hero 6

90%

Does the world need another superhero origin story? If it’s as lively as Big Hero 6, then the answer is yes; critics say this colorful, beautifully-crafted animated film scores on the strength of its distinctive setting, heartfelt story, and its loveable robotic hero, the puffy, literal-minded Baymax. Hiro Hamada is a pre-teen science geek whose older brother has invented an inflatable healthcare robot. However, tragedy strikes, and Hiro, Baymax, and a ragtag group of nerds must team up to save the city. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Big Hero 6 isn’t particularly original, but it’s briskly-paced, action-packed, and often touching. (Check out Baymax’s Five Favorite Films here.)

What’s Fresh on TV:


Critics say that Olive Kitteridge (Certified Fresh at 95 percent) lives up to its compelling source material, thanks to fascinating performances from the likes of Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and Bill Murray.


Despite a familiar Cold War spy template, critics say The Game (100 percent) has enough style, intelligence, and twists to be worth playing.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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