RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Olympus Has Fallen and A Band Called Death

Plus, a family comedy, a political thriller, a relationship drama, and more.

This week on home video, we've got a shootout at the White House and a couple of star-studded films -- one of which did okay, and the other... not so much. Then we've got a little-seen indie film, a historical drama, and a handful of reissues. Read on for the full list:

Olympus Has Fallen

48%

The first of two similarly themed White House siege films to hit theaters this year, Olympus Has Fallen was also cheaper to make, scored just a hair better on the Tomatometer, and earned about $40 million more at the box office. Gerard Butler headlines the film as traumatized former Army Ranger and Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who springs into action when terrorist forces with ties to North Korea storm the White House and take the president (Aaron Eckhart) hostage. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Olympus features an impressive supporting cast that includes Ashley Judd, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, and Melissa Leo, among others, but it split critics, who all mostly agreed that the film was derivative and absurdly plotted, but some of whom admitted it was surprisingly entertaining. At 48% on the Tomatometer, Olympus Has Fallen isn't so bad, as far as Die Hard action clones go, but don't get your hopes up too high.

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The Big Wedding

7%

Though their careers aren't what they once were, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams still find ways to remind folks how talented they are from time to time. The Big Wedding, unfortunately, is not one of those times. Written and directed by Justin Zackham, whose most notable credit to date is the script for The Bucket List, The Big Wedding is a broad romantic comedy about a gaggle of relatives -- blood and otherwise -- trying to make nice for a weekend wedding between an adopted son (Ben Barnes) and his bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried). Critics say the film tries to get some mileage out of its R rating, but its esteemed cast can only do so much with its contrived script. At 7% on the Tomatometer, The Big Wedding appears to have been a big mistake for all involved.

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The Company You Keep

55%

Robert Redford directs and stars in this adaptation of the 2003 Neil Gordon novel of the same name, about a former militant activist who goes on the run when a young journalist discovers his true identity. Jim Grant (Redford), once a member of the anti-Vietnam War group the Weather Underground, has been dodging the FBI for 30 years following a bank robbery gone wrong, and he's now a single father to an 11-year-old girl. When another former radical (Susan Sarandon) is arrested, an ambitious reporter (Shia LaBeouf) digs a little too deep into her past, forcing Jim to seek out the one person who can clear his name. The Company You Keep's supporting cast is chock full of amazing actors (Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Elliott, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, and more), but critics felt this political thriller could have been just a tad more thrilling. Redford's assured directorial hand is certainly at work here, but many felt the story might have benefitted from a more powerful punch. At 56%, The Company You Keep isn't exactly riveting stuff, but it pushes along by the strength of its cast.

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What Maisie Knew

87%

The first Certified Fresh film to show up on this week's list is an adaptation of a Henry James novel set in contemporary times; the fact that its themes are still quite relevant is a bit sad, maybe, but at least we get a pretty good movie out of it. What Maisie Knew stars Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as a middle aged couple whose marriage is on the rocks. When the inevitable divorce occurs and both parents take new lovers, their young daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile) is caught in the middle, used by both parties as a bargaining chip. Considering its source material, it's not surprising that the film's script was one of the high points for critics; combine that with some solid acting and confident direction, and this underseen drama sits comfortably at 88% on the Tomatometer. It might be difficult to watch at times, but What Maisie Knew might be worth a viewing for its thoughtful portrayal of damaging relationships.

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A Band Called Death

94%

If you've done any crate-digging in your time, you know there are mountains upon mountains of old singles and albums that were recorded by hopeful musicians that nobody remembers. The subjects of A Band Called Death would have been resigned to the same fate, had a 1974 demo tape not serendipitously found its way into the hands of the right people. This documentary profiles the history of the titular band, which began when three black teenage brothers in the early 1970s dared to pick up guitars and play hard rock when Motown was all the rage and disco was coming of age. From there, documentarians Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett go on to show how this band called Death experienced a revival when hordes of young listeners rediscovered their music. Subsequently, Death has been dubbed the first black punk band -- and possibly the first punk band ever. A Band Called Death is Certified Fresh at 96% on the Tomatometer, with critics calling it both a fascinating portrait of the band and a testimony to the power of perseverance and family ties.

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Also available this week:

  • Historical drama Emperor (30%), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox in a portrayal of General Douglas MacArthur's time in Japan following the end of Emperor Hirohito's reign.
  • The classic Western Shane (97%), is newly available on Blu-ray.
  • A "Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition" of The Muppet Movie (90%) is available on DVD and Blu-ray, with a handful of bonus features.
  • John Frankenheimer's disorienting 1966 paranoid thriller Seconds (88%), starring Rock Hudson as a man who undergoes a transformation in order to experience a "fresh start" in life, is newly available from the Criterion Collection.
  • Seminal '80s film Flashdance (30%) is also available on Blu-ray.

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Seconds" is one of the great unknown thrillers of the 60s. Like an extended episode of "Twilight Zone" directed by Frankenheimer ("Manchurian Candidate"). I'm thankful it's finally gotten the Criterion treatment, and that one is a solid purchase.

I'm also looking forward to "Death" because I've long had a copy of their Drag City reissue. It's a shame for all those skinheads who have to come to terms that their hardcore was also taken from black musicians.

I was hoping for more from "Emperor", and the Muppet extras may be interesting, but other than that, pass on the rest.

Aug 12 - 06:08 PM

Kurtiss Keefner

Kurtiss Keefner

The Troggs, The Kinks, The Who, I could go on, but Death wasn't the only influence on the modern punk scene. I'm fine with naming them as one of the forerunner's, but the music was definitely not "taken" from any single race of individuals.

Aug 12 - 08:28 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

You forgot the Stooges, who are probably the biggest incluence on Death themselves. But you're missing the point, probably because you aren't familiar with the history. You should check out Lester Bangs' 1979 article "The White Noise Supremacists" which documented some of the racist factions of the punk scene who claimed that their music was purifying rock from its black influences (blues, R&B) and retreating from the "ni&&er disco s#it" of the 70s. These are the assholes I was referring to, not someone like The Clash, who championed reggae/ska, mbaqanga, and other ethnic styles. This was not the same kind of f'k-all punk style of the Hardcore scene (who hated the Who and the Kinks as much as they hated...well everything). I don't feel bad about rubbing their face in the fact that Death preceded the Sex Pistols by two years.

Aug 12 - 09:33 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Sweet, I'll check this one out if I can find it.

Aug 13 - 02:42 PM

Alissa Oakman

Alissa Oakman

before I looked at the paycheck ov $4727, I didnt believe that...my... best friend was actualey receiving money in there spare time on their laptop.. there aunts neighbour has been doing this for only eleven months and just repayed the loans on their cottage and bourt themselves a Jaguar XJ. go to..>>>

w瓀瓀.C璶璶񩧿.c璷璵

Aug 15 - 03:27 PM

Typhon

Typhon Q

Gonna get Olympus Has Fallen. I'm expecting it to be better than the latest Die Hard.

Aug 12 - 06:49 PM

John Q.

John Q

It certainly couldn't be worse. DH5 was absolute shit. Just a horrible, awful film.

Aug 14 - 06:42 AM

Kurtiss Keefner

Kurtiss Keefner

Rent Maisie and call it a week.

Aug 12 - 08:10 PM

Teddy K.

Ryan Gavetti

Here's my guide to watching Olympus Has Fallen:
Grab some friends
Grab some beers
Laugh.
Hell, I had a good time with it anyway.

Aug 12 - 08:17 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

That's actually true, it's one of those movies that's really excellent if you imagine every character as a Team America style puppet.

Aug 13 - 02:11 AM

Teddy K.

Ryan Gavetti

Oh yeah. When we watched it, we saw every character coming from one of those cheesy Die Hard clones of the early 90's. It was a blast.

Aug 13 - 07:57 PM

Kurtiss Keefner

Kurtiss Keefner

The Troggs, The Kinks, The Who, I could go on, but Death wasn't the only influence on the modern punk scene. I'm fine with naming them as one of the forerunner's, but the music was definitely not "taken" from any single race of individuals.

Aug 12 - 08:28 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

You forgot the Stooges, who are probably the biggest incluence on Death themselves. But you're missing the point, probably because you aren't familiar with the history. You should check out Lester Bangs' 1979 article "The White Noise Supremacists" which documented some of the racist factions of the punk scene who claimed that their music was purifying rock from its black influences (blues, R&B) and retreating from the "ni&&er disco s#it" of the 70s. These are the assholes I was referring to, not someone like The Clash, who championed reggae/ska, mbaqanga, and other ethnic styles. This was not the same kind of f'k-all punk style of the Hardcore scene (who hated the Who and the Kinks as much as they hated...well everything). I don't feel bad about rubbing their face in the fact that Death preceded the Sex Pistols by two years.

Aug 12 - 09:33 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

You forgot the Stooges, who are probably the biggest incluence on Death themselves. But you're missing the point, probably because you aren't familiar with the history. You should check out Lester Bangs' 1979 article "The White Noise Supremacists" which documented some of the racist factions of the punk scene who claimed that their music was purifying rock from its black influences (blues, R&B) and retreating from the "ni&&er disco s#it" of the 70s. These are the assholes I was referring to, not someone like The Clash, who championed reggae/ska, mbaqanga, and other ethnic styles. This was not the same kind of f'k-all punk style of the Hardcore scene (who hated the Who and the Kinks as much as they hated...well everything). I don't feel bad about rubbing their face in the fact that Death preceded the Sex Pistols by two years.

Aug 12 - 09:33 PM

Andrew Brinkerhoff

Andrew Brinkerhoff

I need to finally watch "The Muppet Movie"; I've seen "Caper", "Take Manhattan", and the 2011 one, which I wasn't crazy about (liked the Muppets themselves, Jason Segel and Amy Adams both grated on me). "Olympus Has Fallen" might be worth seeing once at Redbox, other than that there's nothing here for me.

Aug 12 - 10:21 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

The first one was the best.

Aug 13 - 08:17 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Agreed!

Aug 14 - 02:33 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

That's actually true, it's one of those movies that's really excellent if you imagine every character as a Team America style puppet.

Aug 13 - 02:11 AM

Teddy K.

Ryan Gavetti

Oh yeah. When we watched it, we saw every character coming from one of those cheesy Die Hard clones of the early 90's. It was a blast.

Aug 13 - 07:57 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

The first one was the best.

Aug 13 - 08:17 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Agreed!

Aug 14 - 02:33 PM

Vits

Vicente Torres

The only reason why I want to watch both OLYMPUS and WHITE HOUSE DOWN is to compare them. They both look generic.

The good thing about farces about a bunch of people who don't know in what trouble the others are, is that they rarely bore. So I'll give BIG WEDDING a chance, but it does look unfunny.

The cool music video style is wasted on FLASHDANCE, a clich閐 story that barely moves forward. One of the most overrated films of the '80s.

Aug 13 - 12:43 PM

Chris Meade

Chris Meade

whatever you like.

Aug 14 - 08:02 PM

jackie c.

jackie collins

I thought Olympus has Fallen was good! but hey i love action films so i thought they did a great job with it

Aug 13 - 12:49 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Sweet, I'll check this one out if I can find it.

Aug 13 - 02:42 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I'm actually a huge fan of Gerard Butlers over the top Machismo Action hero. Its just so rare in this day and age to see a great action movie featuring a star that could actually kick someone's ass and be MAD AS F(#% while Killing the bad guy. Awesome stuff.

Aug 13 - 02:44 PM

Teddy K.

Ryan Gavetti

Oh yeah. When we watched it, we saw every character coming from one of those cheesy Die Hard clones of the early 90's. It was a blast.

Aug 13 - 07:57 PM

John Q.

John Q

It certainly couldn't be worse. DH5 was absolute shit. Just a horrible, awful film.

Aug 14 - 06:42 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Agreed!

Aug 14 - 02:33 PM

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