RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Total Recall, Pitch Perfect, and Lots More

No less than 12 theatrical releases debut on home video this week, with a little something for everyone.

by | December 18, 2012 | Comments

With Christmas just a week away, it’s not surprising that so many films found their way into home video release this week. As such, there’s a pretty wide variety available, ranging from sci-fi blockbusters to indie comedies, from dramas to action thrillers, and even a little something for the kids. On top of that, we’ve got a pretty solid number of Certified Fresh films in the mix, so have a look below for the full list!

Total Recall

31%

Paul Verhoeven’s original 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger-powered actioner is considered by many to be a classic, an iconic landmark in sci-fi cinema that deftly mixed humor, explosive action, and inventive storytelling to great success. Naturally, many balked at the notion of remaking it, and according to critics, those people were right to be wary. Len Wiseman’s update stars Colin Farrell as unsuspecting everyman Douglas Quaid, a factory worker of the future who undergoes a procedure to live out a fantasy vacation in his mind. When the procedure triggers a violent and unexpected reaction, Quaid finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy, searching for his true identity. Critics felt the action was handled competently enough, but also that so much of what made the original great — including the wry humor and intricate plotting — was curiously absent here, leading to a mediocre 30% on the Tomatometer.

Pitch Perfect

81%

Anna Kendrick has proven her worth as a purveyor of dry wit in various supporting roles, and she’s even already notched an Oscar nod for her work alongside the likes of Vera Farmiga and George Clooney, but could she carry a film on her own? In Pitch Perfect, Kendrick, who got her start on Broadway, took advantage of an opportunity not only to exercise her comic timing, but also to showcase her impressive voice. Kendrick plays rebellious college freshman Beca, who reluctantly joins her school’s all-female a cappella group with other misfits and outcasts; though personalities clash at first, the girls band together in pursuit of a national championship. Critics conceded that Pitch Perfect‘s plot isn’t dissimilar from other underdog stories, but the film’s supporting characters are played enthusiastically by a talented cast, and the musical numbers are sure to get many a toe tapping. Certified Fresh at 80%, it’s a feelgood movie with some laugh out loud moments and catchy tunes.

Premium Rush

74%

Speaking of up-and-coming stars, Joseph Gordon-Levitt followed up his winning turn in sci-fi thriller Looper with another action-packed role in Premium Rush, a paranoia-filled chase film by accomplished screenwriter (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man) and sometimes director (Ghost Town) David Koepp. JGL is NYC bike messenger Wilee, who’s hired by his ex-girlfriend’s roommate to make a special delivery. When a corrupt police officer (Michael Shannon) attempts to intercept the delivery, Wilee rebuffs him, leading to a citywide chase with dire consequences. Though the story’s twists and turns aren’t particularly original, critics found the fast-paced action exhilarating, and some solid acting by its cast helped to elevate it beyond run of the mill fare. Certified Fresh at 76%, Premium Rush might just surprise you.

Trouble with the Curve

51%

Here’s a film that would make a pretty good double-header with last year’s Moneyball. Clint Eastwood plays aging baseball scout Gus Lobel, a man whose experienced intuition is called into question by his employers, the Atlanta Braves. In hopes of helping him retain his job, his ambitious daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) potentially jeopardizes her own law career to accompany Gus on his latest scouting trip, bringing them closer together and opening up new opportunities. Eastwood is as grizzly as ever here, acting under longtime producing partner and first time director Robert Lorenz, and he exhibits an easy chemistry with Adams, but critics found the film largely predictable and dramatically unsatisfying. At 52%, Trouble with the Curve won’t rock your world, but it might satisfy those looking for a quiet sports drama.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

52%

The previous two installments of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, adapted from the children’s book series of the same name by Jeff Kinney, were relatively middling affairs, according to critics, so it’s rather fitting that the third film, Dog Days, has split critics perfectly at 50%. The entire gang is back, including titular wimpy kid Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), in a story culled from the third and fourth books: while Greg spends his summer pretending to work at the local country club and trying to win the affections of his crush Holly Hills (Peyton List), his father Frank (Steve Zahn) buys a dog and enrolls Greg in a scouting organization. Critics say the material here feels rather familiar, but with more slapstick, and it’s not likely to appeal to many who aren’t already familiar with either the books or the previous two films.

Resident Evil: Retribution

28%

Now, onto a sequel of a very different sort. Retribution marks the fifth chapter in the surprisingly popular Resident Evil series, which took on a life of its own, entirely separate from the video game franchise that inspired it. Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, who is captured by the nefarious Umbrella corporation and awakes inside its massive headquarters, forced to fight her way out. As she escapes through the bowels of the base, Alice discovers bits of her past and some new secrets, as well as a fresh new horde of undead foes. None of the Resident Evil films has been a hit with the critics, and Retribution didn’t quite blow their socks off, either. That said, if you’ve seen all the previous entries, you know what you’re in store for here, and for what it’s worth, even at 31%, this is still the second-highest rated film of the franchise, so there’s that.

Sleepwalk with Me

84%

Stand-up comedian Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk with Me began as a critically acclaimed one-man stage show back in 2008, which then turned into a New York Times bestseller and later an equally acclaimed comedy album. Autobiographical in nature, Sleepwalk with Me tells the story of a comedian (Birbiglia) coming to grips with his stressful life, characterized by his struggling career, problems with his girlfriend, and an abnormal tendency to, yes, sleepwalk. At once painfully honest and surprisingly funny, the film garnered widespread praise for its honest, amiable outlook on life, even despite a few tonal inconsistencies. Certified Fresh at 86%, Sleepwalk with Me is probably the indie pick of the week for anyone looking for a thoughtful little comedy.

Arbitrage

87%

There was a time when Richard Gere was the hottest leading man in town, thanks to his smoldering good looks and effortless charisma, and while those years are long behind us, he continues to remind us he’s still got what it takes. In Arbitrage, Gere stars as fraudulent billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Miller, who’s on the verge of selling his company to a bank when a tragic accident forces him to play cover-up. As a detective (Tim Roth) closes in on Miller, Miller’s daughter (Brit Marling) discovers evidence of his illegal scheming and confronts him. While the cast — rounded out by Susan Sarandon, Laetetia Casta, and Nate Parker — all turn in solid performances, Gere shines the brightest, further impressing critics who largely felt the film was both an effectively tense thriller and a penetrating character portrait. Topical and well-acted, Arbitrage is yet another Certified Fresh film on this week’s list.

Killer Joe

80%

William Friedkin may never reach the heights of The French Connection or The Exorcist again, but there’s something comforting in knowing he’s still out there doing his thing, and by the looks of Killer Joe, doing it rather well. Killer Joe stars Emile Hirsch as a young drug dealer named Chris whose insufferable mother steals $6000 worth of product from him, leaving him in considerable debt. Chris and his father (Thomas Haden Church) decide the best solution is to have his mother offed for the insurance money, but when they can’t pay he hitman, “Killer” Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), Joe takes Chris’s sister (Juno Temple) as sexual collateral. Rated NC-17, the major gripe with the film was that the material was perhaps too lurid for some viewers, but Certified Fresh at 77%, Killer Joe was considered by most to be a violent, darkly comic success propelled by strong performances.

Liberal Arts

71%

Josh Radnor seems to be stepping out quite a bit from his role on TV’s How I Met Your Mother, and thankfully, Liberal Arts, his second directorial effort, seems to be a proper step forward from his first film. An introverted college admissions officer named Jesse (Radnor) prefers the company of books and pines for the familiarity of his college heyday. When an old professor (Richard Jenkins) invites him to speak at his retirement dinner, Chris gladly obliges and ends up meeting a sophomore (Elizabeth Olsen) who sparks new life into him. The plot isn’t groundbreaking, but Radnor has done well to surround himself with very capable actors (the supporting cast also includes Allison Janney and Zac Efron), and the film’s good nature and clever, personal touch won the critics over enough to earn it a 69% on the Tomatometer.

The Words

24%

The second film in as many years to feature Bradley Cooper as an aspiring writer, The Words failed to meet even a third of the critical approval the earlier film (Limitless) earned, which is unfortunate when one considers the level of talent involved here. The film opens with the framing device of an author (Dennis Quaid) at a reading of his own book, which is, in turn, about a writer (Cooper) who publishes a novel that he didn’t write. As the film cuts back and forth between the framing device and the book’s narrative, which itself contains its own flashback story, the audience is treated to an ever widening story and its implications for the author at the reading. Despite a cast that includes Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Olivia Wilde, J.K. Simmons, John Hannah, and more, critics found The Words to be unnecessarily complex and, surprisingly, short on dramatic intrigue. Many felt the film was nevertheless overly pleased with how clever and interesting it seemed to think it was, but at 22% on the Tomatometer, it’s probably best to pick up and actual book instead.

10 Years

60%

An ensemble dramedy centered around the interactions of various friends coming together for a ten-year high school reunion is an idea with the potential to go either very well or very badly, and while 10 Year isn’t the generation-defining film it probably wants to be, most critics thought it was just fine. There are several narrative threads that are woven into the film, which stars Channing Tatum and his wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum as a couple whose relationship is tested by an old flame (Rosario Dawson), Chris Pratt as the former school bully who married his cheerleader girlfriend (Ari Graynor), Justin Long and Max Minghella as old rivals and Lynn Collins as the girl they both try to impress, and more. For the most part, critics felt the performances were solid, while some even felt the film effectively evoked a certain nostalgia; others found 10 Years too disjointed to give proper attention to any of its stories. At 60%, this isn’t a surefire bet, but it’s an interesting take on some familiar themes.

Also available this week:

  • French actor/director Daniel Auteuil’s remake of the 1940 film The Well Digger’s Daughter (90%) is available on home video.
  • The indie thriller The Good Doctor (62%), starring Orlando Bloom, is also out this week.

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