RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Red Tails and This Means War

Plus, the latest from Studio Ghibli, Daniel Radcliffe in horror, and some iconic buddy cops.

by | May 22, 2012 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a smattering of commercial misfires and critical darlings, with a little bit of horror tossed in for spice. The biggest releases we have unfortunately fall into the former category, with a spy love triangle comedy and an arguably too old-fashioned story about the Tuskegee Airmen. Following that up are the latest from Studio Ghibli, a completely under-the-radar sci-fi romance, Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter film, Abbas Kiarostami’s latest, and a collection of buddy cop classics. See below for the full list!

Red Tails


A passion project for executive producer George Lucas, who began developing the film over two decades ago, Red Tails recounts the trials and triumphs of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American pilots who overcame racial discrimination to become heroes during World War II. Unfortunately, while some likened the aerial battle sequences to those in the Star Wars series and touted the film’s old-fashioned storytelling, most found the dialogue corny, the characters one-dimensional, and the plot riddled with clichés. The intentions are good here, but at 36%, most agree the subject matter deserved much better treatment.

This Means War


An action-comedy starring Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, and Tom Hardy sounds promising in theory, but in practice — at least, with McG in the director’s chair — it turned out to be huge misfire. Pine and Hardy play rival CIA agents who both fall for the same woman (Witherspoon); using every trick in the book, the two spies attempt to one-up each other, and hilarity ensues. Well, presumably, anyway. Critics felt the film never really found the balance between action and comedy, and in either case, it was too loud and poorly edited for its three likable leads to overcome its deficiencies.

The Secret World of Arrietty


Studio Ghibli has a reputation for telling fantastical animated stories with surprising depth and maturity, thanks largely to the legendary Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke), and The Secret World of Arrietty is no different. Directed by longtime Ghibli assistant animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Arrietty tells the tale of a miniature teen who lives beneath the floorboards of a suburban home; when a regular human boy discovers her one evening, a secret friendship develops. Based on the novel The Borrowers, which was itself turned into a Disney animated movie, Arrietty charmed critics with its lush visuals and quietly moving storytelling to the tune of a Certified Fresh 94% on the Tomatometer.

The Woman in Black


Though it’s probably still a bit difficult to separate Daniel Radcliffe from his wizardly alter ego, his first post-Harry Potter film is, by most accounts, a solid effort. Based on a 1983 novel of the same name, The Woman in Black features Radcliffe as a turn-of-the-century British lawyer who is tasked with managing the estate of a deceased woman, which includes a creepy old mansion. As he witnesses increasing supernatural activity in the house, he begins to uncover its secrets. The Woman in Black earned kudos for sticking with traditional horror themes of tension and suspense, and while this might be underwhelming for some who are used to more intense thrills, it mostly satisfies as an old-fashioned haunted house tale.

Certified Copy


Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami, like his contemporaries, is known for thoughtful, poetic, often philosophical cinema, and to that end, Certified Copy delivers. On its surface, it’s the story of a writer (British opera singer William Shimell) and an antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche) spending a day together; beyond that, however, is an open-ended narrative about the authenticity and reproduction of art, and what is and isn’t real. Binoche won the Best Actress award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered, and it’s earned a Certified Fresh 88% on the Tomatometer. Criterion releases the DVD and Blu-ray this week, which includes a rare Kiarostami film from 1977 and other standard Criterion extras.

Perfect Sense


Science fiction-tinged drama seems to be gaining momentum, what with recent films like Melancholia and Another Earth; Perfect Sense, which opened in limited release back in February, adds another notch to the genre. Ewan McGregor and Eva Green star as a chef and epidemiologist (respectively) who meet and fall in love, just as the world begins to suffer from a widespread epidemic that robs its victims of their senses (taste, smell, sight, etc). Perfect Sense split critics right down the middle at 51%, with some calling it a sad yet thoughtful apocalyptic romance while others weren’t so easily convinced by the story’s emotional pull.

Lethal Weapon – The Complete Collection

One of the most notable an iconic examples of the “buddy cop” formula, 1987’s Lethal Weapon paired an up-and-coming Mel Gibson with unlikely partner Danny Glover to fight a dangerous drug lord in Los Angeles. The film was both a critical (Certified Fresh at 90%) and commercial success, spawning three more sequels all directed by Richard Donner. While most agree the quality of the films dropped with each new installment, they still represent a benchmark in action films of the time, and the easy chemistry of its two leads has seldom been duplicated in other franchises. This week, Warner Bros. releases a complete collection package — already available in the UK — for US consumers, so if you’ve ever wanted to own all four films on Blu-ray in one nifty set, here you go.

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