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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Descendants, Tintin, and More

There are a couple stinkers, but lots of Certified Fresh picks are also set to hit shelves this week.

by | March 13, 2012 | Comments

This week is looking good! Whether you’re looking for dumb fun, Academy darlings, arthouse favorites, or something for the kids, we’re sure you’ll like the selection hitting stores tomorrow. We’ll just start off by listing the five (that’s right, five) Certified Fresh new releases: The Descendants, The Adventures of Tintin, Melancholia, My Week with Marilyn, and Young Adult. Not bad, eh? Then we’ve got two not-so-well-reviewed films, but they’re both geared towards the younger demographic, so that may not matter. And lastly, we’ve got a controversial Scorsese film getting a shiny hi-def upgrade in the Criterion Collection. See below for the full list!

The Descendants

87%

We kick off this week with an Oscar-winner, made by and starring previous Oscar-winners, and though The Descendants only took home one of the five trophies for which it was nominated, most still agree it’s a thoughtful drama worth watching. Best Actor nominee George Clooney plays Matt King, a lawyer in Hawaii about to complete a significant family real estate deal when his wife suffers a boating accident that leaves her in a coma with no hope of waking. With his wife now hospitalized and on the verge of passing, Matt must reconnect with their two daughters, come to terms with the fact that his wife was unfaithful to him, and decide whether or not to go through with the land sale. Based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings and directed by Academy Award-winner Alexander Payne (Sideways), The Descendants not only nabbed the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, but also earned a Certified Fresh 89% on the Tomatometer, with critics calling it funny, moving, and beautifully acted. Kudos also went to young Shailene Woodley, playing Matt’s older daughter, and the supporting cast is solid all-around.

The Adventures of Tintin

74%

Up next, another Oscar nominee (for Best Original Score) and Steven Spielberg’s first foray into motion capture technology, The Adventures of Tintin. An animated 3D spectacle, Tintin is based on a series of classic Belgian comics bearing the same title, and features a young journalist (Tintin, voiced by Jamie Bell) and his faithful dog sidekick Snowy as they travel the globe in search of a sunken treasure from the 17th Century. Featuring an all-star voice cast that includes Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, Tintin drew comparisons to an earlier Spielberg franchise starring a certain treasure-hunting Archaeology professor by the name of “Indiana,” which could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Fortunately, most critics chose to look at it as a good thing, and the film earned a Certified Fresh 74%, marking it as a nice little animated throwback to classic adventure serials with some serious visuals to boot.

Happy Feet Two

45%

Back in 2006, WB had a hit with Happy Feet, an animated film about an emperor penguin named Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) who couldn’t sing worth a lick, but who could tap dance his tail off. Fast forward five years, and the inevitable sequel, Happy Feet Two, hit theaters last November. This time around, Mumble is all grown up with a kid of his own, Erik (Ava Acres), who refuses to dance like his papa and runs away, only to meet Sven (Hank Azaria), a unique penguin who can fly. When the entire population of emperor penguins is trapped by an iceberg, Mumble must bring all his friends together to save the day and win back his son’s respect. Unfortunately, while the first film was Certified Fresh and took home the Oscar for Best Animated Film, critics weren’t too thrilled with Happy Feet Two, calling its narrative noisy and incoherent, even if its animation was expectedly top notch. At 44%, it’s not terrible, but it won’t be taking home any awards either.

My Week with Marilyn

84%

Michelle Wiliams sure has come a long way since her days on network television. The former Dawson’s Creek star has come into her own, and her feature film career of late has proven her to be an indie movie darling, with acclaimed roles in films like Wendy and Lucy and Blue Valentine. Her latest is a turn as iconic starlet Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, a profile of the week she spent with filmmaker Colin Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne), fresh out of college on his first movie gig as an assistant director to Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) on 1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl. The nuanced portrayal of the Hollywood legend earned Williams her third Oscar nomination (and second specifically for Best Actress), and Kenneth Branagh earned his second for acting (Best Supporting Actor), though neither took home the statue. At a Certified Fresh 84% on the Tomatometer, My Week with Marilyn is worth seeing, if only for the fantastic performances.

The Three Musketeers

26%

Paul W.S. Anderson’s name isn’t exactly synonymous with what one might call “quality cinema;” despite the fact that the Resident Evil franchise (only two installments of which Anderson directed) has gained a cult following, he has never been behind the camera of a Fresh movie. So it was no surprise that his rock ’em, sock ’em 3D update of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers was met with tepid reviews; even the Oscar-winning talent of Christoph Waltz could do little to save it. The story, pretty much recycled and beefed up with big action sequences and CGI, is familiar: Brash, young D’artagnan (Logan Lerman) must team up with the titular trio (Ray Stevenson, Matthew MacFayden, Luke Evans) to take down the scheming Cardinal Richelieu (Waltz), who has disbanded the musketeers. Throw in a big supporting cast that includes Orlando Bloom, Mads Mikkelsen, Milla Jovovich, Juno Temple, Til Schweiger and more, and one would think it had a chance. Unfortunately, critics found Anderson’s The Three Musketeers had nothing new to set it apart from the long line of adaptations that preceded it, yet executed what it did have so poorly that it earned a meager 26% on the Tomatometer. In other words, almost any other version is probably better than this one.

Melancholia

80%

Danish director Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dogville) got into a bit of trouble last year when he made some controversial comments at the Cannes Film Festival, where he had previously enjoyed a great deal of success with his films. It’s unfortunate, because the film he premiered there, Melancholia, was well received, even earning its lead, Kirsten Dunst, the festival’s award for Best Actress. The film, split into halves, focuses on two sisters — Justine (Dunst), whose wedding reception makes up the first half of the film, and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), in whose house the reception is held and where Justine spends the second half of the movie suffering from depression. At the same time, Earth is on a collision course with another planet called Melancholia, guaranteeing the end of human life, and each character finds different ways to cope. Melancholia earned a Certified Fresh 78% on the Tomatometer, bolstered primarily by Dunst’s powerhouse performance and by von Trier’s distinct and personal vision of depression and destruction. It’s not what you would call a “feelgood” movie, but it’s poignant and beautifully shot, for those who are interested.

Young Adult

80%

Jason Reitman’s got quite the streak going. After achieving critical success with his debut (Thank You for Smoking) in 2005, Reitman proved he wasn’t a one-hit wonder by earning Academy love for his next two films, Juno and Up in the Air. In his latest effort, Young Adult, Charlize Theron stars as Mavis Gary, a selfish, self-absorbed former prom queen-turned-writer who returns to her hometown in hopes of winning back her happily married high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson), instead reconnecting with a former classmate (Patton Oswalt) she barely remembers. Working from a script by Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody, Young Adult drummed up a little bit of early awards buzz, but ultimately got no love, despite a Certified Fresh 81% on the Tomatometer. Some have speculated that audiences didn’t quite know how to respond to the film’s bittersweet themes, and Mavis is such an unlikable character that it may have turned off others. At the end of the day, most agreed that Theron’s performance was outstanding and that the story is both funny and powerful enough in its examination of prolonged adolescence to warrant a watch.

The Last Temptation of Christ – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

81%

The Last Temptation of Christ remains Martin Scorsese’s most controversial film to date; a scene in which Jesus (Willem Defoe), in a dream, forsakes the cross to marry Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) drew thunderous protests from religious groups before the movie was even released in 1989. However, The Last Temptation of Christ was hardly an empty provocation; while the film deviates from Scripture, it’s a sincere, deeply-felt attempt by Scorsese, a dedicated Catholic, to explore the mysteries inherent in Jesus’ tale — most notably, the grey area between his divinity and his humanity. The Last Temptation of Christ is austere, serious moviemaking, and though it isn’t always easy to watch, it’s a brilliant example of Scorsese’s ability make transcendent cinema out of inner tumult. The new Criterion Blu-ray contains plenty of bonus goodies, including an audio commentary from Scorsese, Dafoe, and screenwriters Paul Schrader and Jay Cocks, on-set footage shot by Scorsese, and an interview with Peter Gabriel, who composed the film’s score.

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