This Week in DVDThe week between Christmas and New Years is historically a busy one for many people as they hustle and bustle their way between stores, parties, and vacation destinations. The home video market recognizes this and responds with probably the lightest week of releases of the entire year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some winners worth bringing home… even if it just temporarily.

Titles out this week include The American, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Merantau, Twelve, and the very funny first season of the FX network’s animated spy spoof Archer.

Click on any of the titles below to magically head over to Amazon.com and pick up the DVD. And don’t forget to check out Neil Miller’s almost completely legitimately titled This Week In Blu-ray for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!

Archer: The Complete Season One

Pitch: It’s Mad Men re-imagined as an animated spy spoof…

Why Buy? Sterling Archer is the top spy in an agency run by his mother, and when he’s not accidentally foiling international crime he’s sexually harassing and insulting everyone around him. Did this show really air on on TV? I know it did, but I’ll be damned if I recall ever seeing an episode or even an ad on FX. I’ll be watching season two though, because the show is ridiculously rude and hilarious in equal measure. There’s even some smart satire in between the naked ladies and rapid fire verbal slams. Not a lot… but enough.

Extra Features? Original unaired pilot, making of, deleted scenes

Merantau

Pitch: When it comes to Hong Kong martial arts films Indonesia may just be the new Thailand…

Why Buy? A young man leaves his rural community for the big city on a quest to find himself and become an adult. He finds trouble instead and is forced to kick its ass. Iko Uwais continues the trend of brilliant fighters with limited acting ability, but he does manage a bit more charisma than recent martial artists like Tony Jaa. But who cares about charisma when the fighting is this damn good? Because seriously, Uwais is pretty damn amazing with a roster of stellar kicks, flips, and blows that threaten to melt your eyelids to your balls with their blistering speed.

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, bloopers, making of, production journal, featurettes

The American

Pitch: You’ve seen this story many times before. It’s just rarely been done this beautiful and slow..

Why Rent? Jack (George Clooney) is an assassin who’s grown tired of the game and has decided to quit. He holes up in a small Italian town where he accepts one last assignment while at the same time begins to fall for a beautiful and kind prostitute. Even without his trademarked smile, Clooney is a charismatic presence… which is good because this film certainly takes its time doling out the story. There are few (if any) surprises along the way, but it’s beautifully told and affecting.

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, making of

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Pitch: Do zombies dream of sinewy sheep…

Why Rent? Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her clones bring the fight to Umbrella’s Tokyo office, but the zombie mayhem doesn’t end there. Honestly, at this point I’m just as lost in the mythology of these films as I am with the Saw series. And I think the film makers rely on that fact. No one watches a Resident Evil film for the plot… we watch for the copious blood splatter, highly stylized (and ridiculous) action scenes, and the perfectly choreographed nude scene from Jovavich that against all odds manages to conceal her naughty bits. That said, this latest installment neglects to include that last one. Which is bullshit. But the zombie action is still worth a brainless watch.

Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes

And Soon the Darkness

Pitch: And next the obvious. And then the ridiculous…

Why Avoid? Two American girls have fun in Argentina until one of them goes missing and the other is forced to search for her. Amber Heard and Odette Yustman play the girls, and normally the fact that they spend time in bikinis would be enough to recommend a rental… but this movie gets everything wrong after a promising beginning. It wants to be a suspenseful mystery, but it fails thanks to the decision to show us the abduction and subsequent captivity and then follow it up with some incredibly stupid behavior by our heroine. Oh, and Karl Urban is a fellow American in town who behaves EXTREMELY suspicious.

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, commentary, video diary

In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:

And Soon the Darkness
Archer: The Complete Season One
Merantau

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:

Cyborg Conquest
Handsome Harry
The Haunting Of Amelia
Kamui Gaiden
Legacy
Legendary
Legendary Assassin
Twelve

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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