RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: X-Men: First Class and Hanna

Also, Will Ferrell's latest dramedy and Blu-rays for Scarface and Straw Dogs.

by | September 6, 2011 | Comments

If you love television, this is a good week on home video for you: box sets for Breaking Bad, Community, Fringe, The Office, Parks and Recreation, and more dropped today. But for those of you looking for your favorite movies, this isn’t a bad week so much as one simply lacking a large selection. Almost all the films we cover in today’s column are Fresh, but outside of what we’ve got here, there isn’t a whole lot more to cover. What did we decide not to cover? New Blu-rays of Dressed to Kill (we’ve already got DePalma on the list), The Hills Have Eyes (same with Craven), Hellraiser II, The Caine Mutiny (though Bogie is admittedly awesome in it), and United 93. What did we choose to cover? Read on to find out!

X-Men: First Class


Marvel’s X-Men franchise is one of the most popular comic series ever produced, and the two Bryan Singer-directed X-Men films are generally well-regarded. 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand and 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, however, weren’t very well received, and so some fans wondered how this year’s prequel, X-Men: First class, would fare. As it turns out, those fans needn’t have worried. First Class takes audiences back to the beginning of the saga, chronicling the fateful meeting and subsequent friendship of Charles “Professor X” Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). As the two powerful mutants discover more like themselves, loyalties are forged and, amidst the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, sides are chosen in the battle for mutant equality. Behind the solid work of McAvoy and Fassbender and a thoughtful and action-packed script, First Class earned a Certified Fresh 87% on the Tomatometer as critics welcomed back the franchise with open arms. Some diehard fans may be tempted to point out certain inconsistencies with the source material, but overall, First Class is an entertaining thrill ride that should please most fans of the genre, and it arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this week (Friday, September 9th).



Revenge flicks and movies about fierce females have both been popular as of late, so what do you get when you combine those two themes in one film and ask the director of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice to helm it? Apparently, it turns out pretty good, as evidenced by a Certified Fresh 71% Tomatometer score. After focusing on weighty dramas, Joe Wright got behind the camera for Hanna, a stylish action thriller starring Eric Bana (Munich, Star Trek) as a rogue ex-CIA agent named Erik Heller and Saoirse Ronan (who previously worked with Wright on Atonement) as Erik’s daughter, the titular heroine. When Hanna announces to Erik that she is “ready,” Erik sets into motion a series of events that leads Hanna on a vengeful journey, during which dark secrets are revealed. With a talented cast that also includes Cate Blanchett, Olivia Williams, and Jason Flemyng, Hanna managed to impress critics with its terrific acting and crisply choreographed action sequences, though some felt the film was more style than substance. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a solid thriller with some twists and turns, this might be worth a look.

Everything Must Go


With regards to acting chops, it’s been said that “if you can do comedy, you can do anything.” It can be hit-or-miss, of course — Jim Carrey earned cheers for The Truman Show and jeers for The Number 23 — but people like Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, and Jamie Foxx have all won Oscars for their dramatic work. One of the more high profile actors who recently made this transition is Will Ferrell, who first showed his softer side in 2006’s Stranger than Fiction and starred earlier this year in the indie dramedy Everything Must Go. Here, Ferrell plays newly fired salesman Nick Halsey, who arrives home from a business trip only to find that his wife, having heard about a drunken indiscretion, has changed the locks, thrown all of Nick?’ possessions on the front lawn, and left. Rather than move everything into storage and shack up at a motel, Nick chooses to live on his lawn and, with help from a neighborhood boy (Christopher Jordan Wallace), hold a yard sale for everything he’s got. Critics again praised Ferrell’s subtly nuanced performance, noting that the film resisted cliché, and while it may not quite improve upon the Raymond Carver short story that inspired it, it still earned a Certified Fresh 76% on the Tomatometer. It may be tough to see Will Ferrell as anything but a goofball, but give Everything Must Go a chance, and it may surprise you.

Straw Dogs (1971) – Blu-ray


The 2011 remake of Straw Dogs is set to hit theaters next week, and almost as if to remind audiences it is indeed a remake, MGM is releasing the 1971 original on Blu-ray this week. Directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, Straw Dogs was controversial at the time of its release because of its graphic depictions of rape and violence; the film had to be edited down to receive an R rating, and in the UK, where it was initially released in its original form, it received an X rating. For those unfamiliar, the story revolves around an American mathematician (Hoffman) who moves with his British wife (George) back to her hometown in Cornwall, England. The locals, one of whom has a personal history with the wife, don’t take too kindly to the new couple, and tensions escalate until primal instincts take over and a battle for survival ensues. This film won’t be for everyone, with its almost too real depictions of disturbing content, but those who are willing to stomach it will find themselves immersed in a brutal, bloody exploration of the nature of violence and aggression. The new Blu-ray doesn’t come with many special features, but Peckinpah fans will appreciate the quality of the transfer.

Scream Five-Film Set – Blu-Ray

Wes Craven helped shape the face of terror at the movies over the course of a couple of decades, starting with his debut directorial effort, the revenge thriller The Last House on the Left, in 1972. From there, he went on to create films like The Hills Have Eyes, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Shocker, and more. Suffice it to say, the guy knows a thing or two about horror movies. With that in mind, it was a refreshing surprise in 1996 when Craven released Scream, a tongue-in-cheek satire of similarly themed slasher movies of the past and — who would have thought? — an effective slasher movie in its own right, as well. The Certified Fresh (83%) film spawned three sequels, and though the latter two installments don’t quite measure up to the first two, they all operate on the same horror/satire tropes and provide an entertaining look at the slasher genre. This week, a five-disc Blu-ray set will hit shelves that includes just the first three films and two documentaries, namely Still Screaming and Scream: The Inside Storu, that delve into the making of the films and include insights on the films from cast and crew. For fans, this is a great pickup, especially when you consider the whole set can be had for just $19.99.

Scarface (1983) – Limited Edition Steelbook (or Humidor)


Is there a modern movie more quotable than Scarface? Just about every other piece of dialogue belongs in the Memorable Movie Line Hall of Fame. “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.” “Say good night to the bad guy!” “Say hello to my little friend!” These and many more (mostly unprintable) bons mots can be yours should you pick up the brand new Scarface on Blu-ray. It’s an epic crime drama featuring Al Pacino at his scenery-chewing — nay, scenery-devouring — best, playing the explosive drug kingpin Tony Montana, and the chronicle of his rise and fall is about as subdued and subtle as a slug to the chest. The new disc comes loaded with making-of docs and related featurettes; for those of you with Tony Montana-sized bank accounts, be sure to pick up the Scarface Limited Edition Humidor, with the Blu-ray disc contained within a finely crafted cigar box — yours for only $699.99!

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