RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Olympus Has Fallen and A Band Called Death

Plus, a family comedy, a political thriller, a relationship drama, and more.

by | August 13, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a shootout at the White House and a couple of star-studded films — one of which did okay, and the other… not so much. Then we’ve got a little-seen indie film, a historical drama, and a handful of reissues. Read on for the full list:

Olympus Has Fallen

50%

The first of two similarly themed White House siege films to hit theaters this year, Olympus Has Fallen was also cheaper to make, scored just a hair better on the Tomatometer, and earned about $40 million more at the box office. Gerard Butler headlines the film as traumatized former Army Ranger and Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who springs into action when terrorist forces with ties to North Korea storm the White House and take the president (Aaron Eckhart) hostage. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Olympus features an impressive supporting cast that includes Ashley Judd, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, and Melissa Leo, among others, but it split critics, who all mostly agreed that the film was derivative and absurdly plotted, but some of whom admitted it was surprisingly entertaining. At 48% on the Tomatometer, Olympus Has Fallen isn’t so bad, as far as Die Hard action clones go, but don’t get your hopes up too high.

The Big Wedding

7%

Though their careers aren’t what they once were, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams still find ways to remind folks how talented they are from time to time. The Big Wedding, unfortunately, is not one of those times. Written and directed by Justin Zackham, whose most notable credit to date is the script for The Bucket List, The Big Wedding is a broad romantic comedy about a gaggle of relatives — blood and otherwise — trying to make nice for a weekend wedding between an adopted son (Ben Barnes) and his bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried). Critics say the film tries to get some mileage out of its R rating, but its esteemed cast can only do so much with its contrived script. At 7% on the Tomatometer, The Big Wedding appears to have been a big mistake for all involved.

The Company You Keep

54%

Robert Redford directs and stars in this adaptation of the 2003 Neil Gordon novel of the same name, about a former militant activist who goes on the run when a young journalist discovers his true identity. Jim Grant (Redford), once a member of the anti-Vietnam War group the Weather Underground, has been dodging the FBI for 30 years following a bank robbery gone wrong, and he’s now a single father to an 11-year-old girl. When another former radical (Susan Sarandon) is arrested, an ambitious reporter (Shia LaBeouf) digs a little too deep into her past, forcing Jim to seek out the one person who can clear his name. The Company You Keep‘s supporting cast is chock full of amazing actors (Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Elliott, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, and more), but critics felt this political thriller could have been just a tad more thrilling. Redford’s assured directorial hand is certainly at work here, but many felt the story might have benefitted from a more powerful punch. At 56%, The Company You Keep isn’t exactly riveting stuff, but it pushes along by the strength of its cast.

What Maisie Knew

87%

The first Certified Fresh film to show up on this week’s list is an adaptation of a Henry James novel set in contemporary times; the fact that its themes are still quite relevant is a bit sad, maybe, but at least we get a pretty good movie out of it. What Maisie Knew stars Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as a middle-aged couple whose marriage is on the rocks. When the inevitable divorce occurs and both parents take new lovers, their young daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile) is caught in the middle, used by both parties as a bargaining chip. Considering its source material, it’s not surprising that the film’s script was one of the high points for critics; combine that with some solid acting and confident direction, and this underseen drama sits comfortably at 88% on the Tomatometer. It might be difficult to watch at times, but What Maisie Knew might be worth a viewing for its thoughtful portrayal of damaging relationships.

A Band Called Death

94%

If you’ve done any crate-digging in your time, you know there are mountains upon mountains of old singles and albums that were recorded by hopeful musicians that nobody remembers. The subjects of A Band Called Death would have been resigned to the same fate, had a 1974 demo tape not serendipitously found its way into the hands of the right people. This documentary profiles the history of the titular band, which began when three black teenage brothers in the early 1970s dared to pick up guitars and play hard rock when Motown was all the rage and disco was coming of age. From there, documentarians Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett go on to show how this band called Death experienced a revival when hordes of young listeners rediscovered their music. Subsequently, Death has been dubbed the first black punk band — and possibly the first punk band ever. A Band Called Death is Certified Fresh at 96% on the Tomatometer, with critics calling it both a fascinating portrait of the band and a testimony to the power of perseverance and family ties.

Also available this week:

  • Historical drama Emperor (30%), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox in a portrayal of General Douglas MacArthur’s time in Japan following the end of Emperor Hirohito’s reign.
  • The classic Western Shane (97%), is newly available on Blu-ray.
  • A “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition” of The Muppet Movie (90%) is available on DVD and Blu-ray, with a handful of bonus features.
  • John Frankenheimer’s disorienting 1966 paranoid thriller Seconds (88%), starring Rock Hudson as a man who undergoes a transformation in order to experience a “fresh start” in life, is newly available from the Criterion Collection.
  • Seminal ’80s film Flashdance (30%) is also available on Blu-ray.

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