This Week In DVD: April 19th

This Week in DVDThe winner of the Best Picture Oscar earlier this year, The King’s Speech, hits DVD today, and in an odd bit of congruence so does Gulliver’s Travels. This of course means the two films cancel each other out.

Luckily there are several other titles to choose from including another fist-slapping winner from Donnie Yen (Ip Man 2), a compelling documentary about geometrically shaped fish (Square Grouper), a hilarious movie about the loss of a child (Rabbit Hole), an incredibly sad adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels, and more! And don’t forget that sequel to Street Kings you’ve been waiting for…

Plus, if you see anything you like, you can click on the image to buy it directly from Amazon. Don’t worry. We can’t track what you buy, so you can snag Gulliver’s Travels without being mocked.

Norwegian Ninja

I’m not usually a fan of historical films because they’re often incredibly bland and lacking in truthiness, but this absurdly entertaining movie from Norway deftly avoids that trap. The true story of Arne Treholt involves him being convicted of spying in the eighties and sentenced to two decades behind bars, but the even truer story is that he was actually the leader of Norway’s secret defense force made up entirely of ninjas. Yes, really. They fought the good fight through the use of mad ninja skills, their love for animals, high tech gear, and a camp “protected by feng shui.” The film is lovably low-budget as evidenced by the excellent use of miniatures and occasionally amateurish acting, but it’s so humorous in its integrity and charm that you just might enjoy the hell out of it. All with the added bonus of learning some Norwegian history! [DVD is a Region2 release playable on PC-DVD drives and region-free DVD players.]

Ip Man 2

Pitch: You can never have too much ass-kicking content on your DVD shelf…

Why Buy? Donnie Yen returns as Ip Man as he tries to settle down in Hong Kong and open his own martial arts academy, but the powers that be including rival masters and imperialist bastards just won’t give the guy a break. So he’s forced to break them. The story lacks a bit when compared to the first film, but the action and fight choreography is up to the same stellar standards. Sammo Hung co-stars and steps up as action director, and the two share a fairly brilliant table-top fight that mixes precarious balance, immense skill, and more than a little wire-work to fantastic effect.

The King’s Speech

Pitch: “Fuck…”

Why Buy? This is the true story of a stuttering king and the Australian who loved him, and while it isn’t anywhere near the best film of last year (regardless of what the Academy says) it’s still a damn good one. Colin Firth’s award-winning performance highlights both his dramatic and comedic chops equally, and beyond the historical interest the movie also works as a solid inspirational piece. There’s no Rocky-like fight scene, but the feeling of triumph is just as powerful and rewarding. Unfortunately, this is the original R-rated cut with humorously foul language intact so the pre-teens in your household won’t be able to share in the fun. But on the plus side it’s good to reward Helena Bonham Carter anytime she’s brave enough to work outside her husband’s scissor-hand grasp.

Fubar: Balls To the Wall

Pitch: This is where the headbanger’s other ball went apparently…

Why Rent? This comedy follows two mulletted headbangers on a quest for the Canadian dream, whatever that may be. Neither of the men are all that bright, and most of the purported laughs stem from their idiocy. I say purported because the movie isn’t as consistently funny as it needs to be, but it’s still worth a watch for fans of Wayne’s World or The Trailer Boys as that’s the kind of humor to expect. The third act also adds a little bit of unexpected heart to flesh out the characters a bit. And the final reason to give it a watch? Because there’s a character named Tron who bears an occasionally uncanny resemblance to a very kind and humorous man named Luke Mullen.


Pitch: You’re forgiven for assuming that ‘BP’ stands for butt plug…

Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but as my local gas station is currently priced at $4.29/gallon I figure it’s a timely and topical documentary. The film looks at the oil industry and America’s dependence on it, but it’s far from a left-wing hatchet job. The two creators of the doc are actually Republicans, and while that alone shouldn’t add any additional credence to their findings I’m sure for some people it will do just that. Regardless though the the concept that oil companies are milking consumers and posting record profits should be upsetting to Americans of every political stripe.

Rabbit Hole

Pitch: You will turn to jelly…

Why Rent? A couple struggles with the aftermath of their child’s sudden death in this beautifully acted and directed drama that offers no easy answers or false solutions. Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman both give heartbreaking performances as parents trying to move on from tragedy in different ways and with varied levels of success, but the real surprise standout is Miles Teller. He evokes more sadness and sorrow with a silent gaze than most actors can manage with mouthfuls of dialogue. The film as a whole is an exercise in emotion, and while I don’t see watching it a second time I highly recommend watching it once.


Pitch: Dorff on navel-gazing…

Why Rent? A Hollywood actor spends his time promoting his film, hanging out with his daughter (Elle Fanning), and staring at the wall, because in case you didn’t know it being a wealthy celebrity can be hard sometimes. Sofia Coppola’s latest film is a slow-moving affair than will probably only appeal to people who really enjoyed the similarly paced Lost In Translation, although this feels like a pale imitator of that far more engaging film. And let’s face it, Stephen Dorff is no Bill Murray. Hell, he’s not even John Murray. So why watch this one? Excellent question.

Square Grouper

Pitch: And then one day they was fishing in the sea, and caught on their hook was some bundled up weed; pot that is…

Why Rent? When you think of South Florida in relation to drugs the most likely image to enter your brain is a white-faced Al Pacino with a bad accent and a big gun, but this documentary is more interested in the softer side of the drug trade. Viewers hoping for a fast-paced doc littered with bodies and blow would do well to keep in mind that the drug of choice here is marijuana not cocaine and note that the folks importing the goods are all laid back and casual criminals. That doesn’t mean this doc isn’t engaging and enlightening though as it moves in three parts through the past forty years as a religious cult, an exclusive island community, and a small town in the Everglades all get caught up in the business of importing and distributing the little weed that could.

The Way Back

Pitch: “I think you’ve killed before. You say too many prayers for an innocent man…”

Why Rent? Peter Weir’s latest film focuses on the true story of several men who escape Siberian confinement during World War II and attempt to walk their way back to freedom in Tibet. It was a rather long walk which is fitting as this is not only a rather long film but also feels like one. That slow pacing drags the film down at times, but the beautiful cinematography and compelling character turns by a cast that includes Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, Mark Strong, and Saoirse Ronan more than make up for it.

Gulliver’s Travels

Pitch: It’s less an adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s story than it is a bloody fisting…

Why Avoid? Jack Black stars as a big fat guy who gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle and ends up in the land of Lilliput. Good god this movie is bad. Black is already an acquired taste, but even his fans must be reeling from the stink-pile that is this laugh-less offense to the eyes and ears. Gulliver puts out a fire with urine at one point and says “Flood on aisle 2!” When he asks if that translates into a joke there he could just as easily have been talking about every “joke” in the film. Because none of them are funny. If you do make it to the end, and I certainly hope you don’t, Black’s rendition of Edwin Starr’s War should serve as the final nail in his comedy coffin (as well as redeem the mangling Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker give it at the end of all three Rush Hour movies). But as bad as things may get, just remember that poor Joe Lo Truglio has it worse.

Street Kings 2: Motor City

Pitch: If Street Kings is a guilty pleasure (which it is) then the straight to DVD sequel is just plain guilty…

Why Avoid? The mean streets of Detroit are about to get meaner as Ray Liotta and Shawn Hatosy team up to stop a madman in a hoodie. There’s absolutely no reason to consider this a sequel to the Keanu Reeves classic (he said with a wink), and there’s even less of a reason to watch it. The action is third-rate, the script is a rehash of a thousand equally bad movies, and the central mystery is a mystery to no one.

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:

Beyond the Darkness
Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies
Born To Raise Hell
Earth From Above
Kes (Criterion)
Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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