RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Taken 2, The Possession, and More

Also, Woody Allen's latest, a clunky message movie, and a couple of overlooked docs.

This week on home video, we start with an action sequel and a mediocre supernatural thriller. Then, Woody Allen visits another European city, and a couple of solid actresses try to make a point about education reform. Then we've got an inspirational documentary about a scrappy ball team, as well as another about an iconic American city. See below for the full list!

Taken 2

21%

Back in 2008, Taken was a refreshing early-year treat, featuring Liam Neeson in a no-holds-barred thriller laying waste to bad guys. It was a bit of mindless action that fell just shy of Freshness at 58%, but it was exactly what audiences were looking for and it became a surprise hit. Of course, a sequel was inevitable, and last year we got Taken 2, a subpar follow-up in which Neeson's ex-CIA agent, Bryan Mills, finds himself and his wife at the mercy of the father of one of his previous victims. Again, he must use his wily training to escape with this family intact. Critics were decidedly unimpressed with this second effort, which featured some recycled character development, a more ludicrous plot, and bigger, less satisfying action. At 21% on the Tomatometer, it's probably safe to say this one won't be remembered as fondly as its predecessor.

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The Possession

40%

The Possession's unimaginative title isn't helped by the fact that it's allegedly "based on true events," which is fast becoming a horror cliché in its own right. This late-August fright flick centers around a young girl named Em (Natasha Calis), who becomes curiously obsessed with a mysterious wooden box she picked up at a yard sale. Her recently divorced parents Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) are at first wary of young Em's fascination with the object, but as Em's behavior becomes more bizarre and unexplained events begin occurring, they suspect a larger evil is at work. Some found the first act of the film suitably eerie and atmospheric, with a handful of genuine chills, but most felt The Possession ultimately fell back on all too familiar horror conventions, robbing it of its initial effectiveness. At 39% on the Tomatometer, you may find this a sufficient chiller if you're familiar with the folkloric dybbuks, but it's also possible you may not be affected at all.

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To Rome with Love

43%

Woody Allen is one of the most prolific directors of our time, and he?s still working today. Unfortunately for him, this means that for every Vicky Cristina Barcelona or Midnight in Paris, there's also a Scoop or Cassandra's Dream. We regret to inform you that To Rome with Love shares company with the latter two films. The ensemble cast here includes, among others, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, and of course, Allen himself in a series of four unrelated vignettes all taking place in the titular city. While critics conceded the film painted a warm portrait of Rome, many also felt there wasn't anything particularly intriguing or remarkable about it, leaving them to pine for his next "classic."

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Won't Back Down

33%

Politics aside, if you're planning to craft a film around a somewhat controversial subject, it's best not to water it down for the masses, no matter what the studio's accountants and marketing people tell you. Won't Back Down seeks to tackle the topic of education reform in favor of handing control over the school system to the parents, but by oversimplifying the issues, the film instead has been deemed heavy-handed and disingenuous by many critics. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play a pair of mothers who attempt to turn around their children's inner city school, all the while facing an uncooperative bureaucracy and pressure from those who would see them fail. They make sacrifices, fight corruption, and risk everything to ensure a brighter future for their kids. Critics gave Won't Back Down a 33%, stating that the film is so obviously calculated and emotionally patronizing that any debate on the topic is rendered powerless. Even if you agree with its stance, chances are you may roll your eyes once or twice as the story plays out.

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The Other Dream Team

88%

At least a couple of us here at RT are big basketball fans, and we've been around long enough to remember the glorious "Dream Team" the US fielded in the Barcelona Olympics of 1992. Having said that, we also rather fondly remember players like Sarunas Marciulonis and Arvydas Sabonis, which is why The Other Dream Team, seen by almost no one when it was released last year, is getting a writeup here today. The Other Dream Team focuses specifically on the Lithuanian Olympic basketball team of 1992, who became symbols of democracy when the Soviet Union fell at the end of 1991 and Lithuania gained its independence. Just four years after a Soviet team, powered primarily by four Lithuanian players, took the gold over the US in Seoul, Lithuania fought its way to a Bronze finish in the shadow of the NBA's "Dream Team;" this film depicts the culture of elite athletes both behind the Iron Curtain and after its fall. At 88%, The Other Dream Team is essentially an inspirational underdog sports movie, but it features enough real-world heft and lively footage to make it a thoughtful, entertaining documentary that you don't have to be a sports buff to enjoy.

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Detropia

84%

Another overlooked film from last year that made just slightly more money than The Other Dream Team, Detropia tells a very American story, one that's been made quietly familiar to us over the past several years. Utilizing interview clips to narrate the experience, Detropia depicts the contemporary realities of Detroit, Michigan -- a decaying industrial city once known for its auto factories and soul music -- as described primarily by three of its residents: a video blogger, a nightclub owner, and the local president of the United Auto Workers. Directors Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, whose previous effort Jesus Camp earned an Oscar nod, bring the same hands-off approach to Detropia, and critics say the result is a fascinating, compassionate, and artfully rendered portrait of urban transformation. At 84% on the Tomatometer, it's worth a look for a sobering glimpse at an iconic American metropolis.

Also available this week:

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Stop rubbernecking! Nothing to see here.

Down to what matters - "Tin Drum" is a fine, but disturbing film. Definitely worth watching, but be warned if you buy it, you may be hesitant to revisit it. "Sleeper" is one of my favorite Woody Allens, and the 1934 "Man Who Knew Too Much" is my favorite Hitchcock from his British years. Great performance from Peter Lorre.

Jan 14 - 04:58 PM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

Interesting you chose MWKTM as Hitchcock's best from his British years: I've always held THE 39 STEPS in the highest regard. Still can't get over the scene where Madeliene Carroll takes off her stockings while handcuffed to Donat, LOL.

Jan 14 - 05:22 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I agree, "The 39 Steps" is probably what solidified Hitchcocks name on the map! I just saw that film with the 'close captioning' and it's even more effective since it doesn't sound muffled!

Jan 14 - 05:49 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Nah. I still prefer "Man". I even think "Lady Vanishes" gives "39 Steps" a run for its money. Obviously all three are worth watching.

Jan 14 - 06:09 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Shadow of a Doubt for me. Its simplistic in its intricacies.

Jan 14 - 10:20 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

I agree "The Man Who Knew Too Much" is one of his very best.

Jan 15 - 12:50 PM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

Ooh, it's a Woody Allen day! TO ROME WITH LOVE is the only one on this list I intend to rent; loved TAKEN, but I shall pass on the follow-up unless it shows up on Netflix. Good Criterions, too. Oh, and for those that are unaware, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY is now known as the film that beat CITIZEN KANE at the Oscars, but it's actually pretty good.

Best film in this list is SLEEPER, however, love the Jazz score, the wacky premise (health food nebbish is frozen and awakes 300 or some odd years in the future and must fight a totalitarian dictator kept alive by his nose). So many great lines, and love the Orgazmatron and the Silver Ball that sexual arouses people.

Jan 14 - 05:00 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

I was one of the few who liked "Taken 2" over the original. Not that it isn't a very dumb film. "To Rome with Love" was average, but worth viewing.

Jan 15 - 11:09 AM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

The first Taken wasn't even that good. But hey, given his choices, Neeson is slowly beginning to follow the Nic Cage formula when it comes to films.

Btw, is it me or did Christoph Waltz turn into Woody Allen whenst accepting his Globe yesterday?

Jan 14 - 05:13 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

It is you. Lol

Jan 15 - 11:09 AM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

How so?

Jan 15 - 05:33 PM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

Interesting you chose MWKTM as Hitchcock's best from his British years: I've always held THE 39 STEPS in the highest regard. Still can't get over the scene where Madeliene Carroll takes off her stockings while handcuffed to Donat, LOL.

Jan 14 - 05:22 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I agree, "The 39 Steps" is probably what solidified Hitchcocks name on the map! I just saw that film with the 'close captioning' and it's even more effective since it doesn't sound muffled!

Jan 14 - 05:49 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Nah. I still prefer "Man". I even think "Lady Vanishes" gives "39 Steps" a run for its money. Obviously all three are worth watching.

Jan 14 - 06:09 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Shadow of a Doubt for me. Its simplistic in its intricacies.

Jan 14 - 10:20 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I agree, "The 39 Steps" is probably what solidified Hitchcocks name on the map! I just saw that film with the 'close captioning' and it's even more effective since it doesn't sound muffled!

Jan 14 - 05:49 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Nah. I still prefer "Man". I even think "Lady Vanishes" gives "39 Steps" a run for its money. Obviously all three are worth watching.

Jan 14 - 06:09 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Shadow of a Doubt for me. Its simplistic in its intricacies.

Jan 14 - 10:20 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Nah. I still prefer "Man". I even think "Lady Vanishes" gives "39 Steps" a run for its money. Obviously all three are worth watching.

Jan 14 - 06:09 PM

Jon Cox

Jon Cox

bad week this week for home releases
nothing I want to see

Jan 14 - 09:03 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Taken 2 is a terrible film. I actually liked the idea of Neeson suffering repercussions following the first film but they couldn't do anything with it. "Hey hot daughter of mine in a foreign city! Can you run around some rooftops and set off grenades to find me? Thanks a bunch!" Idiotic.

Detropia is a good one, however. I've visited the city since I was a kid and man what a difference a couple of decades makes. Its so sad to see my Redwings home turf decay like it has. People should definitely check it out and think of how they would feel if it happened to their home.

Jan 14 - 09:17 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

Actually, I've read the whole grenade thing is a plausible tactic. Nonetheless, I agree the second 'Taken' is very stupid.

Jan 15 - 11:10 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I guess anything is plausible. But in this case I'm not buying it.

Jan 15 - 12:36 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

It was so stupid how she would launch grenades and destroy rooftops. Also very annoying. You think you can go to Turkey and start launching grenades? LOL

Jan 15 - 12:37 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I remember their was a time when the Bronx was the worst area to live in New York City- now it's one of the safest places! All I can say about that is every city has a bad rural area no one really cares about including Rio de Janiero and Mexico!

Jan 15 - 12:45 PM

Dave J

Dave J

And their is such thing as minor explosions if it's not grenades the producers would've used something else!

Jan 15 - 12:47 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Ewww.

Jan 14 - 10:12 PM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

LMAO, awesome response!

Jan 14 - 10:38 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Shadow of a Doubt for me. Its simplistic in its intricacies.

Jan 14 - 10:20 PM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

LMAO, awesome response!

Jan 14 - 10:38 PM

Gene Bodyl

Gene Bodyl

This week is really not a good week when it comes to home releases. The only film that looks remotely interesting is Taken 2. I really enjoyed the first film. Despite the bad reviews, I will probably check out the sequel. The other films here belongs in the five dollar bin at walmart.

Jan 15 - 09:59 AM

nate2709

Nate 2709

Getting Sleeper and Farewell My Queen on blu, nice light week.

Jan 15 - 10:03 AM

Zane B

Chum Chum

Meh

Jan 15 - 10:43 AM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

I was one of the few who liked "Taken 2" over the original. Not that it isn't a very dumb film. "To Rome with Love" was average, but worth viewing.

Jan 15 - 11:09 AM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

It is you. Lol

Jan 15 - 11:09 AM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

How so?

Jan 15 - 05:33 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

Actually, I've read the whole grenade thing is a plausible tactic. Nonetheless, I agree the second 'Taken' is very stupid.

Jan 15 - 11:10 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I guess anything is plausible. But in this case I'm not buying it.

Jan 15 - 12:36 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

It was so stupid how she would launch grenades and destroy rooftops. Also very annoying. You think you can go to Turkey and start launching grenades? LOL

Jan 15 - 12:37 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I remember their was a time when the Bronx was the worst area to live in New York City- now it's one of the safest places! All I can say about that is every city has a bad rural area no one really cares about including Rio de Janiero and Mexico!

Jan 15 - 12:45 PM

Dave J

Dave J

And their is such thing as minor explosions if it's not grenades the producers would've used something else!

Jan 15 - 12:47 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I guess anything is plausible. But in this case I'm not buying it.

Jan 15 - 12:36 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

It was so stupid how she would launch grenades and destroy rooftops. Also very annoying. You think you can go to Turkey and start launching grenades? LOL

Jan 15 - 12:37 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I remember their was a time when the Bronx was the worst area to live in New York City- now it's one of the safest places! All I can say about that is every city has a bad rural area no one really cares about including Rio de Janiero and Mexico!

Jan 15 - 12:45 PM

Dave J

Dave J

And their is such thing as minor explosions if it's not grenades the producers would've used something else!

Jan 15 - 12:47 PM

Dave M.

Dave Mart

It was so stupid how she would launch grenades and destroy rooftops. Also very annoying. You think you can go to Turkey and start launching grenades? LOL

Jan 15 - 12:37 PM

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