RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Epic, Amour, and Scary Movie 5

Plus, a solid thriller, a violent star matchup, and rereleases from Criterion and Disney.

by Ryan Fujitani | Tuesday, Aug. 20 2013

This week on home video, we've got an interesting mix of critical darlings and big name duds, but the biggest release is an animated fantasy adventure that fits somewhere in the middle. Following that, we've got an Oscar-winning drama, a thriller from another Oscar-winning director, a bad spoof comedy, and an underwhelming clash between two iconic actors. Read on for the full list:

Epic

64%

If the story in Blue Sky Studios' Epic feels a little familiar, it's probably because it's kind of a reverse Ferngully (that probably deserves an UrbanDictionary entry), at least in the sense that it's a girl -- not a boy -- who shrinks down to bug size and discovers a magical world ripe for a green-friendly message. Amanda Seyfried voices M.K., who is introduced to the miniature world of the Leafmen and the Boggans when the queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) is attacked and, before dying, shrinks M.K. and entrusts her with the security of her chosen heir. As Boggan leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) continues his assault, M.K. must unite with the Leafmen to protect the pod that will hatch the new forest queen. Directed by Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Robots), Epic features a voice cast that is as talented as it is eclectic in its composition, with roles played by Jason Sudeikis, Josh Hutcherson, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull, and yes, Steven Tyler as a wise glowworm. Critics agreed that Epic's themes covered fairly familiar territory, but at 66%, it's still animated beautifully and entertaining enough to be enjoyable.

Amour

93%

Chances are, if this film hadn't been nominated for several top Academy Awards, one of which -- Best Foreign Language Film -- it won, most folks wouldn't even know it existed. Internationally acclaimed Austrian director Michael Haneke helmed this heartbreaking French language film about an octogenarian retiree named Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and his wife Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), who suffers through a stroke and a botched surgery that leaves her paralyzed. As Anne's condition worsens, Georges begins to feel the strain of taking care of her, and he is forced into a difficult decision. Amour won praise across the board for its impressive performances and for its bold, honest script, which was also penned by Haneke. Emmanuelle Riva was recognized with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, Haneke earned nominations for both Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and the film also earned a spot on the Best Picture list. Certified Fresh at 94%, Amour is a powerful exploration of love and commitment in the face of tragedy.

Killing Season

10%

Robert De Niro and John Travolta have both seen their share of flops in recent years (we covered The Big Wedding just last week, for example), but in Killing Season, the two legendary actors come together for the first time with spectacularly disappointing results. Travolta plays a former Serbian soldier named Emil Kovac tasked with tracking down American veteran Benjamin Ford (De Niro) who's since become a recluse living in the Appalachians. Assuming the guise of a wandering hunter, Kovac befriends Ford, then reveals his true intentions when the two embark on a hunt together. The most common criticisms leveled against the film were that the dialogue was stilted, the action unnecessarily graphic, and the acting uneven, particularly with respect to Travolta's hammy accent. Considering the caliber of actors involved, Killing Season could have and should have much more impressive than its 11% Tomatometer score would indicate.

Scary Movie 5

4%

Critics didn't love the Wayans brothers' 2000 spoof Scary Movie, but it certainly has its defenders; it did what it set out to do, and it made a lot of money, which basically guaranteed at least one sequel. Who knew it would make it to five? Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother) jumped behind the camera for Scary Movie 5 (aka Scary MoVie), which stars Ashley Tisdale and Simon Rex in a story that loosely resembles Mama: a young couple are put in charge of three feral children found in a cabin in the woods; when the children are brought home, an evil spirit follows, and spoofs of Black Swan, Inception, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Evil Dead, and more ensue. Look, this movie earned a 4% from the critics, who found it juvenile even for Scary Movie standards, but if this is what tickles your funny bone, more power to you.

Shadow Dancer

82%

Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) headlines this thriller from James Marsh, the man probably best known for his Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, but who's proven he can handle genre material with the second installment of the Red Riding trilogy. Set in Ireland, Shadow Dancer focuses on Collette McVeigh (Riseborough), the lone daughter in a family of IRA members, who is arrested and subsequently compelled to spy on her family in lieu of a harsh prison sentence. With the welfare of her son in mind, Collette reluctantly agrees, but things come to a head when the authorities raid her brothers' operation. Certified Fresh at 82%, Shadow Dancer is another winner for Marsh, bolstered by taut direction and a strong performance from Riseborough. Its theatrical run was short-lived in the US, but you can catch this solid thriller on home video this week.

Also available this week:

  • Rapture-Palooza (24%), starring Anna Kendrick and Craig Robinson in a comedy about a girl fighting to defeat the Anti-Christ in a post-Rapture world.
  • Disney is releasing a Diamond Edition DVD of Peter Pan (75%), as well as a new Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray of the 2002 sequel Peter Pan in Return to Never Land (45%).
  • The Criterion Collection is releasing two of legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray's films on DVD and Blu-ray: 1963's The Big City (87%) and 1964's Charulata. (92%).

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