RT on DVD

RT on DVD and Blu-Ray: Jack Reacher, Mama, and Upstream Color

Oh, and also, a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

by | May 7, 2013 | Comments

We’ve got some decent choices on home video this week, including an indie that opened in theaters just a month ago and has earned widespread acclaim. We’ve also got three big genre titles — a Tom Cruise mystery, a Jessica Chastain ghost story, and a Nicholas Sparks adaptation — to help add some variety. See below for the full list.

Jack Reacher

63%

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie previously worked with Tom Cruise when he helped write the most recent Mission: Impossible film, so it’s not surprising that Jack Reacher has an air of Ethan Hunt about him. Cruise also produced this adaptation of a 2005 novel called One Shot, about a former military detective of sorts named Jack Reacher (Cruise) who becomes entangled in a web of conspiracy when someone from his past is framed for a mass shooting in Pittsburgh. Critics found the film mostly passable as a Tom Cruise vehicle, even if some of the direction and dialogue plays out a bit like a paint-by-numbers thriller. At 61% on the Tomatometer, Jack Reacher might be just good enough to spawn a franchise (it did make a decent amount of money, proving Cruise’s enduring bankability), but it’s still a step or two away from being a truly compelling mystery.

Mama

63%

These days, it’s something of a rare accomplishment when a horror film earns a Fresh score, but that’s not much of a surprise considering a lot of modern horror is more concerned with grossing you out than telling a truly terrifying story. Mama also benefits from the presence of some fine actors, including Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain and Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Two young girls are rescued by their uncle Lucas (Coster-Waldau) from a secluded cabin, where they have spent five years in isolation from society after a family tragedy. Lucas gains custody of them and brings them home, where he lives with his girlfriend Annabel (Chastain), but the couple soon realize something supernatural is following the girls and has invaded their home. Critics were quick to praise the film’s more traditional scares, which they found refreshing, and felt they were strong enough to overcome a slightly befuddling script. At 65%, Mama is one of the more effective ghost stories of late and should provide a few worthy thrills.

Safe Haven

14%

Safe Haven is Lasse Hallström’s (My Life as a Dog, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) second go-round with a Nicholas Sparks novel adaptation (the first one being Dear John), so he must find something compelling about them. Unfortunately, this also happens to be his lowest-rated film. Safe Haven stars Julianne Hough as Katie, a young woman who moves to a small town in North Carolina and raises eyebrows by keeping mostly to herself. When she meets and falls in love with Alex (Josh Duhamel), she is forced to contend with some secrets from her past. This is everything you expect from a Nicholas Sparks adaptation — a fairly predictable bit of sentimental melodrama — except for a third act plot twist that had many critics scratching their heads. At 13% on the Tomatometer, this is probably strictly for the Sparks fan club.

Upstream Color

86%

You may or may not recognize Shane Carruth’s name. If you don’t, that’s perfectly understandable; if you do, it means you probably saw his first film, Primer, and were either so confused by it that it left a lasting impression or so impressed by it that you’ve waited almost a decade for his next film. Upstream Color is that next film, and yes, it’s appropriately mind-boggling, but according to critics, it’s also very good. An abstract narrative about two people in similar circumstances finding each other and learning to navigate new experiences, Upstream Color is a little difficult to summarize in just a few words (watch the trailer below and you’ll see why) — in fact, many of the critics who loved it will insist they can’t quite tell you what it’s “about.” This is a challenging film, but by most accounts a rewarding one for those open to its effect; Certified Fresh at 87%, Upstream Color isn’t going to be for everyone, and it might not make for the most rollicking Friday night, but it’s different, it’s interesting, and it will spark conversation.

Also available this week:

  • Graphic novel-based French animation The Rabbi’s Cat (94%), about an Algerian rabbi’s cat who gains the ability to speak and proceeds to spew social commentary on everything.
  • Indie comedy Starlet (88%), about a slacker girl who gradually befriends her elderly neighbor after a yard sale squabble.
  • The Oranges (32%), a comedy starring Hugh Laurie and Leighton Meester.
  • Notoriously bad CGI film Foodfight!, featuring voice work by Charlie Sheen and Hilary Duff in a Toy Story-esque world where brand name icons come to life in a supermarket at night. (Tossed this one in for kicks.)

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