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New on DVD & Blu-Ray: Rio 2, Under the Skin, and Orphan Black

Plus, some notable indies and two excellent choices from the Criterion Collection.

by | July 15, 2014 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got an animated sequel, a puzzling sci-fi tale, and the second season of a much buzzed-about BBC America TV series. Beyond that, we’ve got a handful of notable smaller movies, as well as two excellent choices from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:

Rio 2

48%

Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway reprise their voice roles as Blu and Jewel, the pair of blue macaws who found love in Fox’s 2011 animated film Rio, in this sequel, which follows them as they pursue the trail of another recently spotted macaw. Along the way, Blu, Jewel, and their three kids clash with an illegal logging operation in the Amazon, reunite with Jewel’s family, and run into some trouble in the form of an old nemesis. Unfortunately, critics weren’t as smitten by the colorful couple’s antics this time around, saying Rio 2 felt simply like a bigger, busier retread of its predecessor and rewarding its efforts with a 46 percent on the Tomatometer. Nevertheless, it may serve as a colorful distraction for your little ones, especially considering the special features include an extensive playlist of both sing-along and dance-along songs, among other things.

Under the Skin

84%

Those of you looking to hunker down with a copy of Under the Skin this week purely because “it’s the movie where Scarlett Johansson gets naked” might end up with more than you bargained for (don’t worry; we know that’s not really why you’re watching it). Jonathan Glazer’s (Sexy Beast) third film, an adaptation of Michel Faber’s eponymous sci-fi novel, is the stylized account of an alien who takes the form of a woman (Johansson) to seduce men and, ultimately, absorb their innards. Over time, the alien’s predatory instincts give way to curious observation, but to what end? Critics mostly agreed that Under the Skin‘s visual themes and narrative ambiguity might not be accessible to all viewers, but they also praised Johansson’s performance and the film’s haunting, heady ideas, making the film Certified Fresh at 86 percent. Available on DVD and Blu-ray this week, special features include a little over 42 minutes’ worth of featurettes on topics ranging from the casting and music to the production design and visual effects.

Orphan Black – Season Two

BBC America’s hit sci-fi series has been a coming out party for its star, Tatiana Maslany, who acts opposite herself in multiple roles and has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her efforts (no Emmy nom, though, much to the dismay of fans). After a first season that slowly drew an increasingly larger audience by word of mouth, Orphan Black returned for its second season back in April, expanding its narrative to include more characters, more twists, and more evidence why Maslany deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the show’s Certified Fresh 97 percent Tomatometer. For those of you looking for some extra clone goodness, the season two Blu-ray that hits shelves this week includes a number of making-of featurettes, including an extended version of the four-clone scene (dance party, woohoo!) and clone character profiles.

Also available this week:

  • Wrinkles (96 percent), an animated film about life in a retirement home, with voice work from Martin Sheen and Matthew Modine.
  • Israeli import Bethlehem (77 percent), a Certified Fresh drama exploring the complex relationship between an Israeli Secret Service agent and his Palestinian informant.
  • Road to Paloma (70 percent), a road movie about a Native American who flees across the country after he avenges his mother’s murder, starring, written by, and directed by Jason Momoa.
  • The Face of Love (42 percent), starring Ed Harris and Annette Bening in a dramedy about a widow who meets and falls in love with a man who looks exactly like her deceased husband.
  • Season three of Hell on Wheels, starring Anson Mount in a Western drama about a former Confederate soldier who becomes a foreman in the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad.
  • And of course, two more choices from the Criterion Collection: David Cronenberg’s breakout 1981 thriller Scanners (79 percent) is available in a first-time Criterion edition, and Robert Bresson’s 1959 classic Pickpocket (97 percent) is available in a new DVD edition and a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack.

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