This Week In DVD: January 18th

This Week in DVDThe past few weeks have been incredibly light when it comes to DVD Tuesdays, but that streak of limited releases appears to have come to an end. Fourteen titles are covered below, and they run the gamut from fantastic to pure drivel with a lot in between.

Titles out this week include Animal Kingdom, Dark Skies, Justified, Freakonomics, Death Race 2, and more. And yes, I was as surprised as you that Takers is worth a rental.

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 seemingly legitimately titled This Week In Blu-ray for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!

Animal Kingdom

Pitch: Man is the most dangerous animal of all. After kangaroos of course…

Why Buy? This is crime drama at its finest. And most Australianist. A teen goes to live with his extended family after his mother dies but finds it difficult to adjust to their lifestyle of crime, deceit, and murder. There are some fairly tense and exciting action bits here, but the true success of the film is with its stellar actors. Jackie Weaver and Guy Pearce are fantastic, but the real standout is Ben Mendelsohn’s terrifying turn as the worst uncle in the world. Check out my full review here.

Extra Features? Making of, interviews, behind the scenes, trailer, commentary

Justified: The Complete First Season

Pitch: Can Timothy Olyphant do any wrong? Aside from Dreamcatcher I mean…

Why Buy? The FX network’s best show at the moment is this series about a US Marshal forced to return home after a shooting in Miami. Olyphant plays the lead with immense charisma, charm, and ability, and that should really be enough of a reason to watch. Thankfully the show is also filled with smart writing, strong action and drama, and the always awesome Walton Goggins.

Extra Features? Commentaries, featurettes

Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series

Pitch: Imagine an X-Files clone that only focused on the “black oil and abduction” storyline…

Why Rent? Shout! Factory is probably a TV fan’s greatest friend, and they prove it on a monthly basis with releases like this that collect and preserve beloved TV shows of the past. And they don’t just focus on the hits either… witness this one-season wonder filled with aliens, conspiracies, and Forrest Gump-like historical crossovers. This show with a bigger budget could be amazing, but as it stands it’s an interesting and mild piece of entertainment. And any opportunity to watch JT Walsh in action is worth it.

Extra Features? International pilot, commentaries, making of, featurettes

Down Terrace

Pitch: The Sopranos meets In the Loop

Why Rent? A man returns home after being released from prison, but he finds it hard to resist the pull of the family business. That business of course is murder at its most foul mouthed. Co-writer/director Ben Wheatley has crafted a darkly humorous film that takes its time setting up the family dynamic before kicking in with some brutally effective violence.

Extra Features? Screen tests, deleted scene, trailer, commentary, featurette, short film


Pitch: Need another reason to be pro-choice? Here you go…

Why Rent? Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner wrote a best-selling book that fascinated by looking at things in a whole new light. Now six documentary filmmakers have each taken a short look at some of the book’s ideas. Some are rather innocuous like the one about names, but others are pretty interesting like the one about cheating in the world of sumo wrestling. The best bit though, and the one worth watching the movie for, is the bit that connects the legalization of abortion to the reduction in crime. Check out Robert Levin’s full review here.

Extra Features? Interviews, commentaries

Marvel Knights: Black Panther

Pitch: Djimon Hounsou auditions for the Black Panther feature film that will never happen but should…

Why Rent? Marvel’s most famous black hero (who isn’t Storm from the X-Men) gets his own animated special, and it’s a solid piece of entertainment. Hounsou voices the titular character in a story that explores his origin and interaction with other, more well known, heroes. His scrap with a brutish Captain America is good fun and begs for a guest appearance in the upcoming Joe Johnston film.

Extra Features? Featurette, music video, trailer

Paper Man

Pitch: If imaginary friends could be pitted against each other I’d vote for a Captain Excellent vs Drop Dead Fred battle to the death…

Why Rent? Jeff Daniels plays an author with writer’s block who finds time for a platonic dalliance with a teenager (Emma Stone) and conversations with an imaginary superhero (Ryan Reynolds). Neither of these allow much time for book writing. All three of the leads do a fantastic job in this mildly comedic drama, but Stone is a real standout in a rare dramatic turn. Check out Robert Levin’s full review here.

Extra Features? Trailer, making of

Sci-Fi Classics (Roger Corman Cult Classics)

Pitch: Ventriloquist crabs versus The Professor from Gilligan’s Island? Yes please…

Why Rent? Roger Corman is known as an uber producer, but once upon a time he also directed. This triple feature from Shout! Factory collects three of his “classics” from the late 50s. Not Of This Earth and War Of the Satellites are probably the two better known titles, but the most entertaining is easily Attack Of the Crab Monsters. Giant crabs that consume people and then speak telepathically in the dead person’s voice? Awesome. All three of the films run barely over an hour and are well worth a watch on a lazy afternoon.

Extra Features? Interviews, commentaries, trailers


Pitch: I blame Hayden Christensen’s douchey hat for my initial belief that this movie would suck…

Why Rent? A group of highly successful and well organized thieves break their own rules on a job that unsurprisingly turns to shit. The cast is a mix of the good (Matt Dillon, Idris Elba), the bad (Hayden Christensen, T.I.), and the Paul Walker. The third act loses more than a little credibility thanks to a mess of coincidence and stupidity, but the action is capable and exciting. But seriously… Christensen’s hat has got to go.

Extra Features? Commentary, making of, featurette, music video

The Virginity Hit

Pitch: Geeky kids desperate to have sex? Hollywood fantasy…

Why Rent? Four friends share bong hits whenever one of them loses his virginity, but after a brief opening montage Matt’s cherry remains the last one left to pop. Plans with his incredibly cute girlfriend fall through and soon the quartet is on a quest of Porky’s-like proportions. Some of the laughs feel forced, but enough of them hit home to make the movie worth a watch. And no matter what anyone else says, the healthy-sized redhead could most assuredly get laid.

Extra Features? Screen test, line-o-rama, audition, featurette, commentary

Army Of Crime

Pitch: The French resistance was real? Truth really is stranger than fiction…

Why Avoid? A group of resistance fighters struggle against German occupation in World War II France. This is the first of two highly acclaimed foreign films this week that I’m in the minority on apparently. The story being told here is a fascinating one, but the presentation leaves much to be desired. The drama feels forced, the real-life characters are bland, and the pacing is terribly slow. History buffs should definitely check it out, but for film lovers in general I’m forced to say skip it. Skip it and watch Inglourious Basterds instead. Check out my full review here.

Extra Features? Interviews

Death Race 2

Pitch: The sequel/prequel you never knew you didn’t want…

Why Avoid? Ever wonder how Jason Statham’s character in 2009’s Death Race came to be Frankenstein? No? Me neither, but for the two people who did, this prequel is set to answer all your questions… without Statham of course. In his place we get an actor who’s basically Statham minus a personality and physical charisma. And yes, I realize what I just said. The bad acting and even worse script would be bearable if the action was any good, but director Roel Reine can’t even give us that. Skip it and play Carmageddon instead.

Extra Features? Deleted scenes, montage, featurettes, commentary


Pitch: You’d think a movie that takes place almost entirely inside of a tank would be more interesting than this…

Why Avoid? The 1982 Israel/Lebanon conflict is the setting for this story of an Israeli tank crew heading into the confusing and violent world of war. The film only shows us what the crew themselves can see (for the most part), so views of the outside are accomplished via gun slits and targeting turrets. Claustrophobia is the name of the game, but the immediate effect is quickly drowned out by the supremely annoying behavior and interchangeability of the crew. The technical aspects of the film (sound design included) are interesting, but the narrative and characters are utterly uninteresting. Skip it and watch Waltz With Bashir instead.

Extra Features? Featurette, trailer

Up From the Depths/Demon Of Paradise (Roger Corman Cult Classics)

Pitch: Not every underwater creature feature can be as classy as Piranha. Or Piranha II: The Spawning

Why Avoid? Shout! Factory’s second Corman title this week pairs together two instantly forgettable flicks. One sees a carnivorous largemouth bass terrorizing folks, and the other features a man in an ill-fitting rubber suit feasting on the locals. Neither are any good at all. Skip it and watch Humanoids From the Deep instead.

Extra Features? Trailers

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

Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series
Death Race 2
Down Terrace
Marvel Knights: Black Panther
Paper Man
Sci-Fi Classics (Roger Corman Cult Classics)
Up From the Depths/Demon Of Paradise (Roger Corman Cult Classics)
The Virginity Hit

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

Fire On the Amazon
Jack Goes Boating
The Naked Kiss (Criterion)
Shock Corridor (Criterion)
Sins Of My Father

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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