RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Now You See Me, Sharknado, and More

Including the latest from Studio Ghibli and a Michael Shannon-powered true crime story.

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Happy Labor Day, folks! For those of you recovering from your BBQs and margaritas, here's what we've got on tap for home video this week: First off, we have a heist movie full of magic, a sentimental coming-of-age film from Studio Ghibli, and a cheesy SyFy Channel original. Then we've got a chilling crime story, an acclaimed documentary, a Rob Zombie flick, and a curious direct-to-DVD release starring Dwayne Johnson. Read on for the full list:

Now You See Me

50%

If there was a question mark in the making of Now You See Me, it probably wasn't the premise -- a group of stage magicians utilize their collective talents to rob banks -- or its cast, which included Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo... you get the idea. No, the fact that the heist flick earned mediocre reviews can probably be attributed equally to its director, Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans), and its multiple writers. Critics felt that while Now You See Me had something of a clever idea on its hands, Leterrier's misdirection, if you will, and the story's underwritten characters made for an unsatisfying experience that barely touched the promise of its potential. It earned a decent chunk of change at the box office, though, so those who did enjoy the movie can look forward to the already announced sequel, coming in 2015.

From Up On Poppy Hill

83%

In the wake of recent news that renowned Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) will be retiring, we at least have some fresh hope for the future in the form of his son, Goro Miyazaki. The latter directed From Up On Poppy Hill from a script written by his father as the latest addition to the impressive Studio Ghibli filmography. One of Ghibli's less fantastical tales, Poppy Hill is set in 1963 Yokohama, where high schoolers Umi and Shun meet and form a bond as they work together on the school newspaper and help to renovate an old building. As they grow closer, however, they discover a shared secret from the past that complicates their relationship. While critics acknowledged that From Up On Poppy Hill, Certified Fresh at 83%, might not sit among the greatest of Ghibli's efforts, they still found the artwork and the story lovely and intimate, which has always been a trademark of the studio.

Sharknado

82%

The SyFy Channel has, in recent years, made a name for itself by producing intentionally "bad" movies that, had they been released twenty or thirty years ago, might have inspired cult followings and midnight screenings. None of them, however, developed the critical mass that this year's Sharknado did, with its ridiculous premise, hammy cast, and cheesy special effects. The title says pretty much all you need to know about the movie: a freak storm sucks sharks up into waterspouts and sends them inland to wreak havoc; Ian Ziering,Tara Reid, and friends proceed to battle the threat head-on. The handful of critics who took the time to watch Sharknado proclaim it to be a harmless bit of pure fun that takes joy in its absurdity and delivers exactly what it promises. And now, you can own it for yourself.

The Iceman

66%

There is an eerie charisma to Michael Shannon that makes him irresistible in dark roles and makes you suspicious of him even when he's the good guy (which, granted, isn't all that often). In The Iceman, Shannon takes on the role of notorious real-life hitman Richard Kuklinski, who claimed to have killed more than 100 men over the course of his criminal career before he was arrested in 1986. The film begins with his early days as a mob enforcer and leads up to his arrest, meanwhile chronicling his relationship with his family, who had no idea about his extracurricular activities. At 67% on the Tomatometer, The Iceman is a compelling based-on-true-events story that's worth a watch based on Michael Shannon's superb performance alone, even if critics agreed that the script could have been a little more fleshed out and Ariel Vromen's directing a little tighter.

Also available this week:

  • Stories We Tell (95%), Sarah Polley's meta-documentary about her own family's secrets and the nature of memory and storytelling.
  • Spanish import Blancanieves (94%), a black-and-white silent fantasy loosely based on Snow White about a young girl who runs away from her father and evil stepmother with a troupe of dwarves.
  • Cockneys vs. Zombies (69%), another horror-comedy that lives up to its zany title.
  • Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem (47%), about a radio DJ who receives an ominous record that triggers dark flashbacks.
  • Empire State (N/A), starring Dwayne Johnson and Liam Hemsworth in a crime thriller about some friends who decide to rob an armored car.
  • A 20th Anniversary Edition of The Fugitive (95%) arrives on Blu-ray.

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