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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Great Gatsby, Pain & Gain, and More

Also, Mira Nair's latest film, an Oscar-nominated adventure, and a couple of indies.

by | August 27, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, our list is headlined by Baz Luhrmann’s extravagant adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and Michael Bay’s action comedy. Then, Mira Nair offers up an ambitious post-9/11 tale, and we get an acclaimed historical adventure from Norway, followed by a couple of indie dramas that flew under the radar and a few notable reissues. Read on for the full list:



The Great Gatsby

48%

Baz Luhrmann’s films are known for their lavish style and high production value, so on some level, it seemed appropriate that he would take on the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation The Great Gatsby, what with its period detail and sumptuous high society shindigs. Unfortunately, lots of folks thought Luhrmann focused a bit too much on the visuals, and not enough on the source material. Narrated by Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carraway, Gatsby recounts his experiences with the titular figure, a mysterious and wealthy businessman (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who pines for Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), and whose reckless passions ultimately lead to tragedy. The film split critics nearly right down the middle, with most agreeing that Luhrmann’s intentions were ambitious and that his trademark style was on display gloriously, but also that he may have missed the point of the source material. At 49% on the Tomatometer, The Great Gatsby is certainly pretty to look at, but it may not pack the same punch as Fitzgerald’s words.



Pain & Gain

50%

You know that guy who directs all the explosive, mega-blockbuster Transformers movies? He decided to do a little “based-on-true-events” crime comedy about a bunch of bodybuilders in Florida who come up with the bright idea to kidnap a rich guy and extort money out of him. The trio of gym rats who band together to commit the crime sport a few foibles of their own, and they’re not the sharpest guys around, so things inevitably go south for them in a hurry. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie as the scheming personal trainers and rounded out by a supporting cast that includes Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Ken Jeong, Rebel Wilson, Rob Corddry, and more, Pain & Gain surprised a handful of critics who found it to be Michael Bay’s most thoughtful work yet. Of course, that isn’t a particularly high bar to surpass, and most who saw the film also admitted its few intriguing satirical jabs are rendered moot by an inevitable descent into violence and typical action tropes. At 46%, Pain & Gain has its moments, but in the end, Bay just can’t help himself.



Kon Tiki

81%

While we’re talking about true stories, here’s one that’s a little bit older and perhaps more familiar: Back in 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl embarked on an expedition from South America to the Polynesian Islands in order to prove that ancient peoples were capable of making the same trip and populating those islands in prehistoric times. Heyerdahl named the raft he built — strictly from materials that would have been available centuries ago — “Kon Tiki.” Pal Sverre Valheim stars as the famous explorer in this Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee, which charts the perilous journey Heyerdahl made on the balsawood raft with just five other men. Though it follows the basic blueprint of other films like it, Kon Tiki impressed critics to the tune of a Certified Fresh 83%, offering the kind of old-fashioned epic adventure we don’t see a whole lot of any more, and doing it with verve and excitement.



The Reluctant Fundamentalist

57%

Accomplished director Mira Nair’s last big film, the 2009 biopic Amelia, landed with a bit of a thud, but she’s mined much more thought-provoking territory before, and with The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Nair tackled some heady social issues. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, the film tells the story of a Pakistani-American college professor (Riz Ahmed) whose seemingly perfect life unravels amid racial profiling and cultural schisms following the tragedies of 9/11. Nair is no slouch, and Fundamentalist showcases her technical prowess and unflinching ambition, but critics felt the film was too heavy-handed to deliver its delicate message effectively. At 54% on the Tomatometer, it features some solid acting and proficient cinematography, but some may find its execution too severe to empathize with it.

Also available this week:

  • Ramin Bahrani’s At Any Price (51%), starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron in a drama about a farmer and his son whose livelihoods are threatened when their farming operation comes under investigation.
  • The English Teacher (44%), starring Julianne Moore and Michael Angarano in a comedy about a hich school teacher who helps a former student produce one of his plays.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (92%), the 1977 Disney film that’s essentially a collection of some of the most well known Winnie the Pooh shorts, adapted directly from A.A. Milne’s classic stories, is available in a new Blu-ray.
  • Larry Cohen’s 1982 cult horror film Q – The Winged Serpent (62%) arrives on Blu-ray.
  • And lastly, from the Criterion Collection: an Eclipse collection of five of Rainer Werner Fassbinder‘s early films, and Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 screwball WWII satire To Be or Not To Be (97%), featuring Carole Lombard in her final screen appearance.

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