This week on home video, the big item of note also happens to be filled with some of the biggest guys in the movies – literally – as Sylvester Stallone’s ode to classic action flicks, The Expendables, hits store shelves everywhere. Then, we’ve also got the latest movie to rely on Julia Roberts’s charm, a puzzling documentary on Joaquin Phoenix’s alleged retirement from acting (and subsequent foray into rap), and a Certified Fresh British thriller starring Gemma Arterton. Then we’ve got a collection of classic cinematic Americana, a legendary sci-fi movie, and the latest Disney film to be let out of the vault. So check out the selection and see if anything makes your stocking-stuffer list.
Every year, there are a handful of movies that generate tons of buzz and raise audience expectations; this year, The Expendables was one of those movies. And for good reason: it’s an action film about a band of black ops mercenaries played by the likes of Sylvester Stallone (who also directed and co-wrote the film), Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, and Mickey Rourke, with Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger rounding the cast in either supporting roles or cameo appearances. That’s enough to make any male between the ages of 15 and 45 engage in spontaneous chest-bumping. Unfortunately, while there was certainly plenty of hiney-kicking and name-taking going on, critics felt that the film just wasn’t as fun as one would understandably expect it to be, resulting in a middling 40% Tomatometer. In the end, it is still novel to see these legends sharing the screen, and as mentioned, there is still plenty of action taking place, so it’ll probably make for an entertaining Friday evening if you’ve got some popcorn at the ready. (Also, be sure to check out our Five Favorite Films interview with star Terry Crews HERE.)
Julia Roberts was once America’s sweetheart, and she’s still as likable as ever, which is probably why she was chosen to play the role of Liz Gilbert in Eat Pray Love, the soul-searching tale of a divorcee who travels the world to “find herself.” Based on the autobiographical account of Elizabeth Gilbert, which generated a bit of a hubbub when it was discovered that Gilbert had received payment from her publisher before she actually embarked on her globetrotting journey, Eat Pray Love failed to impress critics with anything beyond its picturesque scenery and Roberts’s typical natural charm. Some complained that there was little of the book’s spiritual and emotional weight in the film adaptation, ultimately resulting in a shallow journey for its heroine, and it only managed a 37% Tomatometer. If you’re a big Julia Roberts fan, then you’ll probably still find it enjoyable to watch her own the screen, and word is that she has some decent chemistry with Javier Bardem, but outside of that, the audience for this film may be relatively slim. It’s available on DVD and Blu-Ray this week.
British actress Gemma Arterton has certainly had a busy year, appearing opposite various swords-and-sandal lunkheads in the high profile studio epics Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. But where those films met with varying degrees of critical derision, Arterton’s enjoyed accolades for her turns in two smaller projects: Stephen Frears’ well-received Tamara Drewe, and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a tense, low-budget thriller from first-time feature director J. Blakeson. Arterton plays the titular Alice, a young woman kidnapped for ransom by two thugs (Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston) and imprisoned in an apartment where she’s tied to a bed. The familiar victim scenario is not all it seems, however, as Blakeson’s film switches in ways that manage to add some solid twists to the story. At 80% on the Tomatometer the critics were impressed, too, with the likes of Empire‘s Kim Newman calling the movies “a small but perfectly formed crime drama. And, without making a fuss, a proper nail-biter, too.” The DVD and Blu-ray come with Blakeson’s audio commentary, deleted and extended scenes, and outtakes.
A once-promising actor coming apart at the seams or a colossal hoax? There was plenty of such speculation in the lead up to the release of I’m Still Here, a film that purported to document the strange trajectory of Oscar-nominated star Joaquin Phoenix in the period since he announced his retirement, took up professional rapping and grew a beard-and-belly combination of impressive magnitude. That director Casey Affleck eventually revealed what many had suspected — it was, indeed, a prank — didn’t seem to affect the bewildered responses to the movie, with many critics unsure as to what to take seriously or scratching their heads over the point of the whole exercise. With a divisive 54% on the Tomatometer the film had as many champions as haters, but those that loved it seemed to consider it a clever satire on celebrity culture and the art of the documentary itself. Uncut went so far as to call it “a diverting piece of Method-inspired performance art.” Affleck’s and Phoenix’s commentary track on the DVD and Blu-ray should make for a fascinating (or infuriating) listen.
In the late 1960s, the major movie studios were in a panic – they couldn’t figure out what it was the kids wanted to see. BBS, on the other hand, had its finger on the pulse of the youth market, and the result was a revolutionary slate of pictures that captured the tumultuous times – classics like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, and The Last Picture Show. America Lost and Found: The BBS Story is a six-disc box set from Criterion that collects the company’s highlights – also included are the criminally underrated The King of Marvin Gardens, the delightfully wacky Head, starring the Monkees, and Drive, He Said, Jack Nicholson’s debut feature. Each disc contains a shiny new transfer of each film, and is stuffed to the brim with special features, including making-of docs, interviews, and more.
The story of how The Complete Metropolis came into being is one sure to warm any film buff’s heart. Metropolis has long been hailed as one of the most influential sci-fi movies ever made, despite the fact that some found its narrative oddly disjointed. In 2008, it was announced that a nearly complete premiere print had discovered in the Museo del Cine archives in Buenos Aires, one that contained scenes that better fleshed out the plot. Finally, Fritz Lang’s masterpiece could be seen as was originally intended; this oft-revived movie had been restored several times prior, and was often screened with different soundtracks. If you haven’t seen the original cinematic vision of a futuristic dystopia, one that’s inspired everyone from Tim Burton to Ridley Scott, the good folks at Kino are releasing The Complete Metropolis on blu-ray. Special features include a re-recorded version of the original score, plus featurettes on the restoration of the film.
Written by Ryan Fujitani, Tim Ryan, and Luke Goodsell