RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Jack the Giant Slayer and Quartet

Plus, a decent thriller, a couple of raunchy comedies, and a horror sequel.

by Ryan Fujitani | Tuesday, Jun. 18 2013

This week on home video, we've got a special effects-laden fairy tale, Dustin Hoffman's quiet but effective directorial debut, and a moody psychological thriller. Then we've also got a couple of raunchy comedy flops, a horror sequel, and a few notable rereleases. See below for the full list.

Jack the Giant Slayer

52%

Last week we had Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and this week we have Jack the Giant Slayer. Fairy tales just aren't the same any more. In this retelling of the well-known story, Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, Warm Bodies) stars as farm boy Jack, who trades his horse for a handful of magic beans. Meanwhile, the kingdom's Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) rebels against her father and flees the castle, only to be swept into the cloudy realm of the giants when she takes refuge in Jack's house and his beans sprout up into the sky. Along with the princess's betrothed, Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), and a regiment of knights, Jack ascends the beanstalk to save Isabelle. While critics felt the film was relatively boisterous and well-acted, they also found the story a bit bland and the CGI a tad overwhelming. At 52% on the Tomatometer, Jack the Giant Slayer is fun at times, but don't expect to be blown away.

Quartet

79%

Considering its cast is populated by esteemed British actors Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, and Pauline Collins, one might be surprised to learn that Quartet was directed by Dustin Hoffman. As it turns out, the Oscar-winning actor's debut behind the camera is pretty good; critics saw fit to rate it Certified Fresh at 79%. Set in a retirement home for musicians, the film centers around a trio of longtime friends and former performance partners whose lives are shaken up a bit when the fourth member of their operatic quartet, Jean (Smith), arrives at the home. As Jean attempts to rebuild the relationships she left behind -- including a broken marriage to Reg (Courtenay) -- the foursome prepare for a gala performance whose earnings may help save the home from closure. The story may seem a little familiar, but Hoffman makes the most of his talented cast and succeeds in delivering a gentle, charming drama.

Stoker

69%

One of three acclaimed South Korean directors to make their English language debuts this year, Park Chan-wook is best known for his "Revenge Trilogy," which includes the grim psychological thriller Oldboy. Stoker failed to garner the same kind of praise his earlier films received, but Park's visual style and penchant for dark, moody storytelling is on full display. When India Stoker's (Mia Wasikowska) father dies in a car accident, she and her unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) are visited by her father's charming but mysterious brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), who announces he'll be staying to support the family. Charlie and Evelyn grow close, but when India discovers disturbing secrets about Charlie's past, she opens the door to a terrifying world from which there is no return. Critics agreed that this wasn't Park's strongest work, but also that, at 67% on the Tomatometer, it still sports some of the trademarks that initially made audiences take notice of Park: lush imagery, eerie atmosphere, and a tense narrative punctuated by bursts of violence.

Movie 43

4%

By most accounts, an alternate title for Movie 43 could have been What the Hell Were They Thinking?. Or maybe Peter Farrelly Must Have Dirt on a Lot of People, because that seems like the only reasonable explanation behind this offensive, misguided collection of juvenile sketches. To be fair, Farrelly isn't solely to blame here; he is the producer of the film, but Movie 43?s individual segments were directed by various folks, including Elizabeth Banks, Griffin Dunne, James Gunn, and Brett Ratner, to name a few. Shot over a decade-long period, the film is an anthology of unrelated comedic gags starring the likes of Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Emma Stone, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Hugh Jackman, and so many more, basically being as raunchy and inappropriate as they can, and it's safe to say critics hated it. At 4% on the Tomatometer, it's one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year so far, and unless you feel like cringing at some of your favorite stars, it's probably best to stay away.

21 and Over

28%

Though they've been writing together for several years now, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore captured lightning in a bottle when they penned the first Hangover film. The duo paired up again to write and direct (as their debut) the somewhat similarly themed 21 and Over, with far less success. The film centers on the efforts of college buddies Casey (Skylar Astin) and Miller's (Miles Teller) efforts to get their pal, straight-A student Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), wasted beyond belief on his 21st birthday, which happens to be the same night before he's scheduled to interview for med school. What follows is a wild night of debauchery that ostensibly serves as a coming-of-age comedy. Unfortunately, critics found 21 and Over devoid of imagination, trotting out well-worn clichés, overt profanity (not just the verbal sort), and an unearned sentimental climax en route to a 27% Tomatometer rating. It's the sort of romanticization of college partying some young teens might fantasize about, but most everyone else will probably see through the charade.

The Last Exorcism Part II

16%

2010's The Last Exorcism was one of those modestly budgeted horror films that made a lot of money at the box office, so a sequel was, naturally, inevitable. Eschewing the found-footage format of its predecessor, The Last Excorism Part II follows right on the heels of the first film, catching up with demon-possessed -- and now catatonic -- Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) as she is hospitalized and then sent to a home for girls. Just as it seems that her condition is improving, however, strange things begin happening again, and it's up to an occult group to help rid Nell of her affliction. While The Last Excorcism was a sleeper success, Part II didn't impress many critics, most of whom thought the film was too slow of a burn with an unsatisfying payoff, ultimately squandering a somewhat promising first act to retread familiar horror tropes. Despite its open-ended finale, poor reviews and box office performance may not guarantee a Part III, and most seem perfectly okay with that.

Also available this week:

  • A trio of releases from the Criterion Collection: Silent era master Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! (96%); Czech director Frantisek Vláčil's haunting 1967 film Marketa Lazarová (100%); and the H.G. Wells-Alexander Korda-William Cameron Menzies sci-fi collaboration Things to Come (91%).
  • A double pack of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise (100%) and Before Sunset (95%).

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