RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: 50/50, Real Steel, and Paranormal Activity 3

Plus, a Rachel Weisz thriller, an unusual horror film, and a new Criterion for Godzilla.

We've got a lot going on this week in the home video department, and thankfully, most of it is relatively good. First up, though we won't be mentioning them outside of this intro, there are a handful of nifty Blu-ray reissues hitting shelves: a few Alfred Hitchcock films (Notorious, Rebecca, and Spellbound) are getting the hi-def treatment, as well as a couple of Woody Allen classics (Annie Hall and Manhattan). Oh, and if you're into fad workout programs, you might be interested to know that the Insanity line of training videos are also being released. Otherwise, we've got one of the best-reviewed wide releases of the year, a robotic underdog story, and the latest in Paranormal Activity. Then there's the sex trade thriller starring Rachel Weisz, the indie horror film with the crazy third act, and a quirky teen romance by... Gus Van Sant? Lastly, there are two new Criterions hitting shelves, so we'll be covering those as well. See below for the full list!

50/50

93%

If you saw 50/50 when it hit theaters last September, chances are you probably enjoyed it; it did, after all, win the user rating-based Golden Tomato Award at a whopping 92%. That's not all, though, as critics fond the film equally enjoyable, awarding it a Certified Fresh 93% and making it one of the best-reviewed wide releases of the year. Based on the real-life story of its screenwriter, Will Reiser, the film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam Lerner, a 27-year-old radio journalist who quite suddenly learns from his doctor that he's contracted a rare form of cancer. Understandably shell-shocked by the news, Adam slowly learns to cope with his situation with the help of his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), his mother (Anjelica Huston), and his fledgling therapist (Anna Kendrick). With help from an outstanding cast, director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) manages to find a successful balance between humor and drama, resulting in one of the few dramedies that actually does its genre proud.

Real Steel

60%

Though its Tomatometer has since dipped into Rotten territory, the film that many dubbed Rock'em Sock'em Robots: The Movie initially surprised quite a few folks by being much better than a movie with that premise had any right to be. Set in 2020, when giant robots have overtaken the boxing circuit, Real Steel stars Hugh Jackman as Charlien Kenton, a former boxer-turned-robot trainer who is saddled with caring for his estranged young son Max (Dakota Goyo) when Max's mother dies. When the pair discover an obsolete sparring bot called Atom in a junkyard, they decide to rebuild him together, and an unlikely bond develops. Critics concede that the premise is silly, the dialogue a little cheesy, the plot -- like its mechanical protagonist -- a bit recycled, but they also say if you're looking for a relatively straightforward underdog story with a smattering of father-son bonding, you could certainly do worse.

Paranormal Activity 3

68%

The insanely successful (read: profitable) horror series that is the Paranormal Activity franchise saw its third installment in as many years hit theaters last October, and after a dip in quality with the second film, Paranormal Activity 3 turned out to be a bit of an improvement. This time around, viewers are taken back to the beginning of the haunting central to the series, specifically the late '80s childhood experiences of sisters Katie and Kristi (Chloe Csengery and Sprague Grayden, respectively). Around the same time young Kristi begins having regular conversations with an "imaginary friend" named Toby, her mother Julie and Julie's boyrfriend Dennis begin experiencing unexplained phenomena in their house. As things steadily grow out of control, dark family secrets are revealed until, finally, all hell breaks loose. Critics found PA3 to be a modest improvement over its predecessor; though it's tough for any horror sequel not to run out of steam with each new installment, this one still manages to provide some suitably chilling moments. It's nothing you haven't seen before, but if you enjoyed the first two, you'll likely have a good time with this one, too.

The Whistleblower

74%

An impassioned performance from Rachel Weisz helps to elevate The Whistleblower above standard issue movie trappings. Based upon actual events, it's the tale of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska policewoman working as an aid worker in Bosnia when she uncovers a brutal human trafficking ring. However, her efforts to report her discoveries are stymied by some of her fellow UN Peacekeepers, and Bolkovac wages a dangerous one-woman campaign to bring the truth to light. Though some critics found The Whistleblower to be a bit too heavy-handed, most found the film to be a solid throwback to the paranoid political thrillers of the 1970s, as well as a decent primer on an undeniably important issue.

The Woman

70%

Imagine if Quentin Tarantino decided to remake the 1987 comedy Walk Like a Man as a modern grindhouse thriller; you'd basically have the recipe for The Woman. One of the best-reviewed horror films of the year, The Woman centers around a lawyer named Christopher Cleek (Sean Bridgers), who discovers a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) living in the woods, captures her, and brings her home to his family in order to civilize her for modern society. Of course, the woman turns out to be more than Christopher bargained for, and before long, the family is forced to defend themselves against an unfamiliar enemy with the upper hand. Most critics agreed that, despite its familiar explorations of gender and human nature, The Woman is an ambitious, unabashedly strange, and ultimately effective thriller that builds tension toward a brutal, no-holds-barred climax. It's just shy of Certified Fresh status at 74% on the Tomatometer and might make for good rainy night viewing.

Restless

36%

Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) has seen his share of success over the years, but every once in a while, as with most all directors, he misfires. Such was the case with his latest film, Restless, a tale of unlikely teen romance that quietly breezed through theaters back in September. Based on a play by the film's screenwriter, Jason Lew, Restless continues the tradition of twee indie romances, complete with quirky affectations and random plot elements. Mia Wasikowska is Annabel Cotton, a terminal cancer patient with a fascination for nature and Charles Darwin. Henry Hopper plays Annabel's love interest, Enoch, who's lost his parents in a car accident and entertains visits from the ghost of a Kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi (Ryo Kase). Together, Annabel and Enoch learn to cope with the hands they've been dealt, all the while with Annabel's imminent passing looming over their heads. Unfortunately, Waskikowska's performance was about the only thing critics found to like about the film, which garnered just a 36% on the Tomatometer, so unless alternately cutesy and melancholy love stories are your thing, you won't get much out of Restless.

The Moment of Truth - Criterion Collection

78%

Looking for a good bullfighting movie? Of course you are -- who isn't? Seriously, though, The Moment of Truth is to matadors what Raging Bull is to pugilists -- namely, it's a gritty, visually resplendent examination of the dark side of the sporting life. Real life bullfighting champ Miguel Mateo stars as a peasant who wins great fame in the arena before hitting the skids; along the way, he finds the business of bullfighting to be nearly as brutal as the action in the ring. Criterion has a spiffy new transfer of this thrilling, beautifully photographed film; special features include an interview with director Francesco Rosi.

Godzilla (Gojira) - Criterion Collection

94%

The Criterion Collection has gone to great lengths to restore and preserve some of cinema's most important, most beautiful, most influential films, and in that vein, this week marks the release of their edition of Ishiro Honda's monster movie classic Godzilla (aka Gojira). Honda touched upon his country's fears of nuclear devastation by personifying them in the form of this now famous giant lizard, and Japan responded in kind with adoration, spawning nearly thirty sequels (not to mention a certain Roland Emmerich project) since the film's debut in 1954. Criterion's release includes an HD transfer, new interviews with stars Akira Takarada and Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla himself), a special effects featurette, and as a special bonus, the full American version of the film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters. A great pickup for anyone who's become a part of the growing cult fandom of this legendary Japanese creation.

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