This week on home video, we’ve got an outrageous action film, a time-travel thriller with familiar elements, and a solid teen comedy. Then, we’ve also got a couple of TV seasons and a Certified Fresh documentary. Read on for details:
The early months of the year typically aren’t the most fruitful season for quality cinema, but every once in a while you get The Grey or The Lego Movie. This year’s surprise hit came in the form of the latest collaboration between director Matthew Vaughn and writer Mark Millar, who first worked together on another surprise hit, Kick-Ass. Based on Millar’s comic series The Secret Service, Kingsman tells the story of a twentysomething delinquent named “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton) who’s recruited into an ultra secret spy organization and helps take down a tech mogul (Samuel L. Jackson) with nefarious plans for a human “culling.” It’s bloody and over-the-top, but most critics also agree the film is a lot of fun, with likable characters and plenty of little jabs at the spy genre, and gave it a 74 percent on the Tomatometer. The Blu-ray includes a handful of featurettes totaling a little over an hour and a half, three photo galleries, and a theatrical trailer.
It’s difficult to inject any originality into a time travel story these days, and critics say that while Project Almanac does a couple of interesting things, it’s ultimately undone by its annoying found footage conceit and absurd twists. The story follows teen friends David (Jonny Weston), Adam (Allen Evangelista), Quinn (Sam Lerner), and David’s sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), who discover a time machine in David’s basement. They initially use the machine for personal gain, but soon David becomes obsessed with righting the unintentional wrongs their meddling has caused, and further mayhem ensues. Project Almanac has moments of wit, but this is really nothing moviegoers haven’t seen before, and it earned a 35 percent on the Tomatometer. Limited disc bonuses include an alternate opening and two alternate endings, as well as a handful of deleted scenes.
Speaking of mining fresh ground in a familiar genre, the coming-of-age high school comedy is represented by a number of brilliant examples, so it’s arguably even more difficult to stand out. The DUFF, however, managed to impress enough critics to earn a fairly healthy 72 percent on the Tomatometer. Mae Whitman stars as Bianca, who learns she’s considered the “DUFF” (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of her circle of friends. Shocked at this revelation, she enlists the help of a jock (Robbie Amell) to right her reputation before her senior year comes to a close. Critics praised Whitman for her work in the lead and conceded that, while the film isn’t quite a modern classic, it’s still a worthy, entertaining entry. Extras include four featurettes (from a look at teen comedies to a red carpet profile) and a gag reel.
Red Army (2015) (96 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary about the Soviet hockey team whose rise and fall mirrored those of cultural movements in the Soviet Union itself.
Season one of The Last Ship (2014) (64 percent), TNT’s sci-fi drama centered on a naval ship during a viral apocalypse, is available DVD and Blu-ray.
Season two of The Originals (2014), CW’s spinoff of The Vampire Diaries, is also available on on DVD and Blu-ray.