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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: 42, Evil Dead, and More

Plus, another pulp hero hits the screen, and Sly Stallone continues to beat people up.

by | July 16, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a classic horror remake, an inspirational sports tale, the latest pulp hero to hit the big screen, and a Sylvester Stallone actioner. In addition, we’ve got a select number of noteworthy indie films and a few high quality reissues, including one from Criterion. See below for the full list:



42

79%

If you’re going to do a movie about racism in this day and age, you have to be careful to strike the proper tonal balance, particularly when the film is also an inspirational sports movie. Lay the message on a bit thick, and it’s preachy; lean a little too heavy on the schmaltz, and it’s patronizing. Luckily, critics largely felt the makers of 42, the Jackie Robinson biopic, did a solid job. The film tells the story of Negro League star Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), who is recruited in 1945 by Brooklyn Dodgers exec Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) to be the first black player in the MLB. Newly married and expecting a child, Robinson works his way through the farm system and earns a spot on the team, much to the chagrin of some of his teammates and other players around the league, before earning the country’s respect with his thick skin and outstanding play. It’s a tricky prospect to pull off an effective inspirational sports movie — just ask Cuba Gooding Jr. — but Certified Fresh at 76%, 42 is an old-fashioned but earnest and respectfully told portrait of an American sports icon.



Evil Dead

62%

Speaking of tricky prospects, how about remaking a widely beloved horror movie classic? Such was the task before Fede Alvarez, who made his feature directing debut with (and helped write the script for) 2013’s Evil Dead, a reimagining of the 1981 Sam Raimi cult favorite The Evil Dead. The story — about a handful of beautiful young people spending some time in an isolated cabin and accidentally unleashing a demon upon themselves — is essentially the same, though the characters were given some extra impetus to stay put: Jane Levy’s Mia is a junkie looking to get clean, and her brother and friends have brought her into the woods to help wean her off her dangerous drug habit. The film was produced by Raimi himself, along with original star Bruce Campbell, and it was noted for employing practical effects over CGI, which helped raise the hopes of fans who were initially afraid this would end up like other recent classic horror reboots. Though it didn’t earn rave reviews, Evil Dead still achieved a respectable 63% Tomatometer score and earned a heap of money at the box office; the film was too brutally violent for some, but that was also one of the film’s major selling points, so be prepared for that if you decide on a viewing.



Bullet to the Head

47%

Remember the Sylvester Stallone of Cobra, Demolition Man, and the Rambo movies? Of course you do, because even in his late 60s, Sly keeps accepting roles in movies that won’t let you forget what a badass he was back in the day. The latest effort comes in the form of Bullet to the Head, in which Stallone plays a New Orleans hitman named Jimmy Bobo who assassinates a corrupt policeman and attracts the attention of DC detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang). When Kwon is attacked by other corrupt officers seeking to silence him, Bobo rescues him, and together, the duo begin to unravel a vast criminal conspiracy. Based on a French graphic novel and directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.), Bullet to the Head failed to elicit the kind of thrills both Hill and Stallone were known for in their heyday, but for some critics, the film succeeded admirably enough in mimicking their earlier work. At 47% on the Tomatometer, this might satisfy an action itch, but it plays more like a high caliber B movie with plenty of apologetically trashy thrills.



Solomon Kane

66%

Pulp heroes have recently had a rough go of it on the big screen (see: John Carter and Conan the Barbarian), due to various reasons, but Hollywood’s fallen in love with mining old stories for new franchises, so now we have Solomon Kane, based on a character created by Robert E. Howard (the same guy who gave us Conan) that made his first appearance via the fantasy magazine Weird Tales back in 1928. In the 2012 film adaptation, James Purefoy plays Kane, a ruthless early 17th century mercenary who experiences a supernatural encounter during a North African raid and decides to turn his life around and adopt a philosophy of peace. Upon returning home to England, he’s taken in by a Puritan family; when they are attacked and the family’s daughter is abducted, Kane realizes he must use his skills to battle evil. There’s probably nothing here you haven’t seen before, obviously, but critics mostly found Solomon Kane an effective genre exercise packed with grit, action, and enough of a storyline to keep the pace moving. At 65% on the Tomatometer, it might surprise you.

Also available this week:

  • Wild Bill (100%), a crime drama about an ex-con learning to reconnect with his sons.
  • Hunky Dory (56%), a British musical comedy starring Minnie Driver as a high school drama teacher hoping to inject some passion into her students through an end-of-the-year play.
  • The End of Love (56%), a drama about a deadbeat actor who changes his ways after the mother of his son dies suddenly.
  • Erased (28%), starring Aaron Eckhart and Olga Kurylenko in a conspiracy thriller about a betrayed CIA agent on the run from the government.
  • Criterion’s release this week is for Peter Brook’s haunting 1963 version of Lord of the Flies (100%), with a number of decent extras.
  • For those who simply can’t live without all the latest developments in technology, Sony Pictures is releasing a handful of Blu-rays that have been “Mastered in 4K,” including Moneyball (94%), Men in Black (91%), Spider-Man 2 (93%), and Pineapple Express (68%).

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