RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Rush, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and More

Two seasons of acclaimed television are available, as well as a couple of comedies and a rock thriller.

by | January 28, 2014 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got Ron Howard’s recent sports drama, an animated sequel, a couple of reality/fiction hybrid films, a Vegas comedy, two notable TV shows, and more. Read on for the full list:

Rush

89%

The last time Ron Howard’s name came up in awards conversations, it was for 2009’s Frost/Nixon, so it’s not a huge surprise his latest collaboration with that film’s writer, Peter Morgan, yielded fine results yet again. Rush portrays the real life rivalry between two 1970s Formula 1 racers: James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), a brash, well-liked English playboy, and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), a cold, fiercely disciplined driver from Austria. After an encounter on the Formula 3 circuit, Hunt and Lauda remain determined competitors, pushing each other to reach new heights, even as their racing philosophies differ. Though Rush didn’t get any Oscar love, it was nominated for four BAFTAs, two Golden Globes, and two SAG awards, with Brühl in particular earning much of the recognition. Critics have praised the film as a well-crafted sports drama with strong writing, great performances, and plenty of exhilarating race sequences.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

71%

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 didn’t have the benefit of a widely read source material from which to take its cues, but as far as an original storyline is concerned, critics say it’s pretty decent. Following the events of the first film, young inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is invited by his childhood idol, super-scientist Chester V (Will Forte), to work for his company while he relocates the citizens of Swallow Falls and cleans up the town. When Flint learns that the FLDSMDFR has begun creating animal/food hybrids, however, and that Chester V may not be such a nice guy, he returns to save Swallow Falls. Much of the main cast, including Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, and Benjamin Bratt reprise their voice roles, and though the film isn’t as clever as the first, most critics felt it was engaging and entertaining enough to earn a solid 70% on the Tomatometer.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

61%

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is the next logical step in the evolution of the prank movie. While the previous Jackass movies were content to exist merely as raunchier, naughtier extended episodes of the MTV show, Bad Grandpa slaps some makeup on Johnny Knoxville, gives him some prosthetic genitals, and shoves all the pranks into something resembling a road trip movie. The story here is that octogenarian Irving Zisman (Knoxville) is asked to take care of his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) when his daughter announces she’s going back to prison. Irving, having just lost his wife, is looking forward to his newfound bachelorhood, so he plops Billy in his car and they head to North Carolina to drop Billy off with his deadbeat dad. It’s a long trip, with plenty of time for drunken bingo, shoplifting, strip club hopping, and explosive sharts. Most critics agree that the Jackass team is a little off its game here, and the film isn’t quite as funny or subversive as it could be. There are still some laughs to be had, though, so its 61% Tomatometer seems about right.

Last Vegas

46%

Is “old people behaving badly” officially its own genre yet? If not, it should be, since films like Stand Up Guys, Red, and, most recently, Last Vegas keep getting made. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Michael Douglas play a quartet of longtime friends who plan a trip to Sin City after one of them finally proposes to his girlfriend. Their final hurrah together takes an unexpected turn, though, when they discover Vegas isn’t quite how they remembered it. These are four talented, likeable veteran actors, and they seem to be having a good time together, which critics notably appreciated. Unfortunately, the antics here feel like overly familiar territory; the film’s been described as an older — and tamer — version of The Hangover by lots of folks, and for that, it’s earned a fairly middling 47% Tomatometer score, but if you like the leads, it might be worth a shot.

Metallica Through the Never

80%

We might have to check the archives here, but Metallica Through the Never could be the first ever rock doc-thriller. Writer/director Nimród Antal — no stranger to the thriller genre — splits time between live footage of Metallica performing on its 2012 tour and a narrative storyline about a roadie (Dane DeHaan) tasked with delivering fuel to the band’s entourage, whose truck has broken down on the road. As he proceeds through the city, he realizes a riot is taking place, and he’s drawn the unwanted attention of its masked leader. Critics agreed that Metallica Through the Never was a bold, imaginative film, with superb, immersive concert footage and some clever editing. Though they conceded that the narrative half of the film wasn’t as strong, but it mostly worked, thanks to some strong direction, and it’s earned a Certified Fresh 78% on the Tomatometer.

Downton Abbey – Season 4

ITV’s wildly popular drama originally aired its fourth series (that’s “season four” to us Yanks) in the UK from September to November last year, with a Christmas special to top it off, but we here across the pond didn’t get it on PBS until January 4. The season doesn’t actually end until February 23, but those of you who simply cannot wait for further episodes to air — and who don’t have access to overseas programming or other, less scrupulous means of video acquisition — can snatch up the season four set on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow. Though it hasn’t impressed critics quite the same way that previous seasons did, the cast is still top notch, and most say it’s still appointment television for anyone with a penchant for soapy yet sophisticated period drama.

Treme – Season 4

HBO’s track record over the past decade and a half has been fairly impeccable, with critical praise across the board, and Treme is simply one of the more recent success stories. All three previous seasons of the New Orleans-set drama about locals rebuilding their lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are at 100% on the Tomatometer, and though the fourth season hasn’t matched the feat, it’s still sitting pretty at an impressive 92%, with critics calling it a series of consistently high quality full of strong characters, a vibrant atmosphere, and a great soundtrack backing it all up.

Also available this week:

  • Concussion (74%), a drama about a woman who experiences a sexual awakening and begins living a double life after her son’s baseball knocks her out.
  • Dark Touch (73%), a horror film about a young girl who survives the brutal murder of her family and is moved into a loving foster home, only to realize she may have had a hand in the massacre.
  • The Fifth Estate (37%), starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Brühl in a biopic about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg as they built the infamous information dissemination website that changed information security in the digital age.
  • The Criterion Collection has a new film out: Terence Davies’ non-linear autobiographical film The Long Day Closes (75%) comes out in a new DVD/Blu-ray combo package.
  • And lastly, Universal is attempting to capitalize on the building Oscar fervor by releasing new Blu-rays of several of its Oscar-nominated films, including Apollo 13 (95%), E.T. (98%), Jaws (98%), Peter Jackson’s King Kong (84%), An American Werewolf in London (91%), Spartacus (96%), and yes, even Wanted (71%) and Snow White and the Huntsman (48%).

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