RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Marvel's Phase One Collection on Blu-Ray

Plus, a bunch of movies barely anyone saw.

Believe it or not (and trust me when I say this isn't some half-baked attempt at an April Fool's joke column), there are no new wide releases coming out on home video this week. As a result, the Avengers-themed box set will easily be of greatest interest, while everything else sort of falls by the wayside. You may not have even heard of a few of the movies featured this week, but for better or worse, you can see below for the full list.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One - Avengers Assembled

Being that there aren't any new wide releases out this week, this particular item easily takes the top spot. In case you've been in a coma for the past five years or so, you're probably aware that a string of movies based on Marvel Comics characters have done rather well, both critically and commercially, and that they all served to set up one hefty blockbuster in the form of last year's The Avengers. Now, if you're a hard core fan, chances are you've already picked up a few or all of those films, but if you haven't, or if that annoying "friend" of yours refuses to return your Blu-rays of Thor and Iron Man, you may rejoice. This week, Disney is releasing a rather spiffy box set that includes all of the films collectively known as "Phase One" of Marvel's Avengers universe (all three aforementioned movies, plus Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Captain America), as well as a bonus disc with never before seen footage and a preview of "Phase Two." All of this comes packaged in a S.H.I.E.L.D.-esque briefcase with a replica of the Tesseract, which is also pretty cool. (P.S. -- Clicking on the poster image or the title link will take you to the Amazon page for the set.)

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John Dies at the End

61%

If you happen to peruse Cracked.com from time to time like I do (only during lunch, I swear), you probably know who David Wong is (a senior editor there) and you're likely aware of the novel he wrote, John Dies at the End. You're also probably aware that novel was turned into a movie, but if you actually saw the movie in theaters, you can count yourself among a select few. It's a bit difficult to summarize the story here; suffice it to say it involves a hallucinogenic drug that seems to have otherworldly metaphysical side effects and two college dropouts who attempt to battle an interdimensional invasion of sorts. In other words, it's precisely the kind of material you'd expect from a Cracked.com writer, and while many critics were left scratching their heads, a good number of them were still able to appreciate the film's charm and dark humor. At 60% on the Tomatometer, John Dies at the End is anything but your run-of-the-mill horror comedy, but if absurdity is your bag, you might like it.

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The Sweeney

46%

If you need a convincing badass for a British crime thriller, Ray Winstone is pretty much a top shelf choice; it's just unfortunate The Sweeney didn't impress more people. Based on the 1970s police drama of the same name, The Sweeney centers around a pair of officers in Flying Squad, a division of the London Police dedicated to armed robberies. Detective Inspector Jack Regan (Winstone) and Detective Constable George Carter (Ben Drew) are on the trail of a jewel theft when Regan begins to piece together that the culprits are working with dangerous Serbian criminals; though instructed not to follow through, Regan decides to pursue justice to the end. Back in the late '70s, The Sweeney was actually adapted into two feature films, concurrent with the series and starring the same cast, and those films took advantage of the opportunity to present stories in a rawer format. With the setting updated for contemporary audiences in this latest film, however, critics were simply disappointed that it mostly played it safe, resulting in a somewhat generic movie that garnered just a 47% on the Tomatometer, despite Winstone's charismatic performance.

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Hitler's Children

81%

Though it opened in super-limited release and only has a handful of reviews at the moment, here's a documentary with a unique angle: where are the descendants of the highest ranking Nazis of the Third Reich, and how have their lives been affected by the legacy of their forebears? Director Chanoch Zeevi secures interviews with a number of subjects who sport last names like Himmler and Göring, revealing the delicate balance between the love and admiration one has for one's parents/grandparents and the natural disgust one feels when considering their crimes. It's an emotion most people experience at one time or another in their lives, amplified here to a much greater extent, and most critics who have weighed in so far say it's alternately haunting and fascinating. At 79%, Hitler's Children may not probe as deeply as you might want, but it still provides some thought-provoking insights about some very human emotions.

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Meet the Fokkens

94%

As long as we're talking about provocative documentaries, why not Meet the Fokkens? In this surprisingly lighthearted portrait, Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schröder profile a pair of Dutch twin sisters, Louise and Martine Fokkens, who have been operating as sex workers in Amsterdam's red light district for 50 years. Yes, you read that right: 50 years. Granted, Louise had to retire due to arthritis, but Martine is still at it, and we get a glimpse into both of their worlds. It may sound distasteful or exploitive, and it may derive its name from a subpar Ben Stiller comedy, but critics say Meet the Fokkens is charming and giddy, bolstered by the larger-than-life personalities of the sisters. It currently holds a 93% on the Tomatometer based on fifteen reviews, and even if some of the positive reviews concede the narrative wanders just a little bit, Louise and Martine are so interesting and fun to watch, that most just didn't seem to mind.

Normally, we'd put a trailer here, but there really weren't any that were entirely Safe For Work, so to speak.

Also available this week:

  • The HBO production Hemingway & Gellhorn, directed by Philip Kaufman and starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, about the relationship between the celebrated author and his journalist wife.
  • The Baytown Outlaws (19%), starring Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria in a frenetic, oddball actioner about a woman trying to rescue her godson from her ex-husband.

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