Not sure which DVD to pull off the new release shelf? Need a new Blu-ray to show off in 1080p? Or maybe you’re looking through the new releases on Netflix and don’t know what to add to your DVD queue? Take my advice and either buy-it, rent-it, skip-it, or wait-for-it to become available on HBO, Starz, or Netflix instant queue. Watch #1 first then work your way down the list.
Here are the twenty-five best new release movies that have been released on DVD and Blu-ray as of Tuesday, June 28, 2011.
1. Black Swan – Buy-it – Natalie Portman is the mysterious “black swan” in this psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet where competition is brewing with a new dancer in the company, Mila Kunis.
2. True Grit – Rent-it – This western starring Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges is one of the Coen Brothers (A Serious Man, Burn After Reading, O Brother Where Art Thou?) best films. And newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who plays a stubborn young woman trying to track down her father’s murderer, steals every scene she is in, despite the talent next to her onscreen.
3. The King’s Speech – Buy-it – This art house drama stars Guy Pearce and Colin Firth as King Edward VIII and King George VI of England ruling over a country on the brink of war. Oh, and his wife Queen Elizabeth is Helena Bonham Carter and his eccentric speech therapist is played by Geoffrey Rush.
4. Tangled – Rent-it – A return to their proven princess formula but more entertaining and action-packed than your typical animated Disney films.
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 – Buy-it – The first half of the first part of the final Harry Potter film is brilliantly fun and action-packed full of spells and flying broomsticks, but about 45 minutes in, the tone becomes much more lonely and despairing with each inevitable death, and the final 5 minutes will just leave you sad and wanting more.
6. The Adjustment Bureau – Buy-it – Is Matt Damon married? Because if so, he might be having an affair with Emily Blunt. These two stars light the screen on fire and their burning chemistry is reason enough to see this film about politics, life and love and whether or not we control our own destiny.
7. Blue Valentine – Rent-it – This film effectively challenges time by showing us what love and marriage simultaneously look like in the present, future and past. Don’t be surprised if Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are actually dating as their onscreen chemistry burns brilliantly in this tender rom-drom.
8. Biutiful – Rent-it – A funny looking Oscar winner Javier Bardem (who? I know – he’s the bad guy from No Country for Old Men) ironically makes this script about a father’s love for his children even more beautiful than the title suggests.
9. Cedar Rapids – Rent-it – Finally, an R-rated comedy that isn’t overly raunchy! Cedar Rapids stars a perfectly conventional comedic cast performing a pleasantly clever script.
10. Inside Job – Rent-it – Matt Damon narrates this documentary about the 2008 financial crisis, which cost $20 trillion and millions of people their jobs and homes – and though we were all a part of this depressing time, this inside look is a must see on the greatest recession since the Great Depression.
11. Let Me In – Rent-it – With no recognizable faces (as all great scary movies should), this film about a bullied boy who meets a young vampire girl is as good, if not better, than the original foreign film.
12. Highwater – Buy-it – If you liked Step Into Liquid or Riding Giants you will love this new docu-film starring Kelly Slater, otherwise, you can skip-it and go rent one of those previously mentioned surf films – you won’t be disappointed by the IMAXish style and incredible waves.
13. The Illusionist – Rent-it – Do not miss this retro-looking animated film about a magician who thinks his illusions are no longer relevant entertainment in the world of rock bands and technology, until he meets a young girl who believes his tricks are real magic.
14. Megamind – Rent-it – Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Brad Pitt voice this Dreamworks animated film from the brilliant villains point of view, making it an interesting spin on the superhero genre, but not on the level of the latest Pixar films, and is definitely not The Incredibles!
15. Tron: Legacy – Buy-it – This dazzling 3D sequel to the 1982 nerd fantasy about a programmer’s cyber universe isn’t quite as captivating as the original, but is certainly as visually stunning – especially on Blu-ray accompanied by Daft Punk’s 7.1 surround sound score.
16. Country Strong – Rent-it – Gwyneth Paltrow was obviously taking a stab at a Best Actress nomination but the “singing + acting = Oscar” formula is no longer valid, and neither is this story being sold as “classic” country music drama.
17. Hereafter – Rent-it – Matt Damon in an under-marketed-because-it-stands-on-its-own Clint Eastwood directed film about three intertwined post-9/11 tragic stories sounds like a heavily-Oscar nominated film, but it is a too slow, too sentimental, and too low-key to create the buzz it needs.
18. No Strings Attached – Rent-it – The 110 scantily-clad minutes Natalie Portman stands on screen next to Ashton Kutcher in this “sexy” romcom may very well lose her the Oscar, despite her beautifully dark and deserving performance in Black Swan.
19. Morning Glory – Rent-it – Trying to put Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Goldblum, the writer from Devil Wears Prada, the producer of LOST, and the director of Notting Hill together in a comedy about careers versus love is like trying to make 1+1+1 = 2. It can’t be done, despite the most entertaining efforts.
20. The Mechanic – Rent-it – I have been a huge fan of Jason Statham every since teh Transporter, and I always liked Ben Foster’s performance in Alpha Dog, but this action/thriller remake is overly violent, even for a Statham film, and therefor isn’t a Buy-it” for most movie-goers.
21. The Company Men – Wait-for-it – An all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Kevin Costner, and Chris Cooper tell the story of men in the corporate America re-defining their lives during an economic downturn. It couldn’t have been released at a more appropriate time and couldn’t deliver a more important message.
22. Nowhere Boy – Wait-for-it – This drama about a 15-year old John Lennon is remarkably accurate, and therefore interesting, and Aaron Johnson is casted perfectly for the role.
23. Love and Other Drugs – Wait-for-it – Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are two opposites who attract in a film based on Jamie Reidy’s memoir “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” though the effects of this drug wear off before itÌs over.
24. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Rent-it – Strong performances and impressive special effects make this 3rd Narnia film one of the best, unfortunately the previous two films in this franchise were lackluster at best, and by no means on the same level as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, which this film is basically a combination of.
25. Public Speaking – Rent-it – This insightful documentary from Scorsese on Jewish American author Fran Lebowitz is commentary on commentary, but interesting nonetheless.
Twenty-five other new releases on DVD/Blu-ray that didn’t make the top twenty-five:
26. Summer in Genoa – Wait-for-it – It seems like every time Colin Firth takes a role it could be an Oscar-nominated performance, and this riveting story about a man trying to keep his family together after a tragedy is no different.
27. Battle: Los Angeles – Wait-for-it – There are a dozen cliches for every “wow” moment, but the first 30 minutes are intensely suspenseful and the action delivers like an all-night video gaming marathon of Halo Reach.”
28. I Am Number Four – Skip-it – Even if you thoroughly enjoy young adult fiction (i.e. Twilight, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, House of Night, Sookie Stackhouse) this novel-turned-film is completely disappointing; and though it is action-packed like you’d expect from a Michael Bay film, it also missing interesting characters that you actually care about – like you’d expect from a Michael Bay film.
29. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Wait-for-it – This sentimental piece about a 16-year old boy befriending a psychiatric patient (Zach Galifianakis) is promising at times, including moving performances from the entire cast, but it will ultimately leave you shaking your head in disappointment.
30. I Love You Phillip Morris – Wait-for-it – Jim Carrey gives the best performance of his career in this sweet, sincere, romantic comedy about an improbable but real-life charismatic conman.
31. Unknown – Wait-for-it – Unknown is a Taken look-alike from head-to-toe, so much so you might think you are watching Liam Neeson reprise his role in some sort of sequel, but don’t be confused by this Frantic-esque story and the Harrison Fordy-marketing ploy, this whodunit is completely unoriginal and a complete impostor.
32. Just Go with It – Skip-it – I had high hopes for a rom-com with some of my favorite guilty-pleasure actors and actresses (Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and Nicole Kidman) and two newbies that peeked my interest (Brooklyn Decker and Bailee Madison – that’s right Bailee Madison, not Billy Madison) but this film about a guy pretending to be married to get a smoking hot girl – a girl that’s even out of Andy Roddick’s league – is terrible! I urge you to not “just go with it.”
33. The Switch – Skip-it – Aniston and Bateman are perfectly funny together, and 6-year old Thomas Robinson steals every scene he is in, but the script is too rom-com formulaic to even suggesting renting since you know what’s going to happen before it even begins.
34. Burlesque – Skip-it – Christina Aguilera is a small town girl with a big voice (surprise!) who moves to LA, becomes a cocktail waitress, and eventually makes her way on stage to sing (surprise!). The soundtrack is good, the film is awful.
35. Sucker Punch – Skip-it – New This Week – This was supposed to be the “next big thing” from filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), and just like those films this epic fantasy adventure is visually arresting, however, Sucker Punch follows an un-appealing story about an un-appealing girl (though not to the eyes) who ecapes her dark reality by creating her own “dream” world.”
36. The Rite – Skip-it – Though Anthony Hopkins does his best Hannibal Lecter impression, this rite of passage should be your last if you get any redeeming value from this unscary, uninteresting, and underwhelming film that fails to explain a single cause for any effect.
37. The Other Woman – Skip-it – This film released in a very limited number of theaters – rightfully so – as Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow are their usual above average selves but this best-selling novel adaptation (“Love and Other Impossible Pursuits”) is overall lacking and melodramatic.
38. Sanctum – Skip-it – It is hard to imagine that a James Cameron film about water and adventure could be bad (The Abyss, Titatic and coming soon – Avatar 2 aka Avatar Underwater) but Sanctum, despite being beautifully shot in 3-D, drowns under lifeless performances and sappy dialogue.
39. Gnomeo and Juliet – Skip-it – These animated garden gnomes have some interesting voices – James McAvoy (Gnomeo), Emily Blunt (Juliet), Michael Caine, and Jason Statham – but it’s hard to create a version of the world’s greatest love story that isn’t cliched, and this cartoon is no different – except of course, they’re garden gnomes.
40. The Next Three Days – Skip-it – Classified as a drama/horror/romance and not surprisingly, mystery, this completely implausible film stars Russell Crowe as a husband to a wife who is arrested for a murder she didn’t commit.
41. All Good Things – Skip-it – Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst are the title characters in this based-on-a-true story (“based” being the key word) about the most notorious missing persons case in New York history that will leave you with little to no answers and hundreds of questions.
42. Vanishing On 7th Street – Skip-it – This apocalyptic horror film starring Hayden Christensen and Thandie Newton has an interesting concept – there is an unexplained blackout in the city of Detroit and when the lights come back on, the city, clothing, cars and buildings are empty – but the movie-goer’s experience is mostly lacking, and though it may have you hoping the theater’s parking lot is well lit, by the time your home you will have forgotten all about being afraid of the dark.
43. The Dilemma – Skip-it – Vince Vaughn and Kevin James (two of the funniest guys alive) stand beside Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum and Queen Latifah in this comedy about “bro’s before hoes” from Ron Howard and Brian Grazer but fails to find a balance that will have you laughing much at all.”
44. The Green Hornet – Skip-it – For some reason I was just never excited about this film. Maybe it’s because I can’t wait for that other green film (The Green Lantern) to come out? Or maybe it’s because I’ve just had enough of Seth Rogen? But this action & adventure, science fiction & fantasy, comedy is just barely entertaining at best – so I guess it was rightfully so.
45. Hall Pass – Skip-it – Have your cake and eat it too? You probably won’t want any second servings of this repulsive sex-crazed romp about infidelity and “love” – or the lack of it – as there is not a single laugh to be had in the predictable and irrelevant film.”
46. The Eagle – Skip-it – Picture Braveheart meets Gladiator, except instead of an inspired Mel Gibson you get a spiritless Channing Tatum, and instead of the epic Ridley Scott you get Kevin Macdonald’s flat direction.
47. How Do You Know – Skip-it – Reese Witherspoon + Owen Wilson + Paul Rudd = formulaic romantic comedy. Surprisingly, add in Jack Nicholson and it just gets worse. Definitely skip this romcom about a professional softball player, professional baseball player, and corporate executive.
48. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules – Skip-it – This family dram-com sequel to the film that made “wimpy” “cool” is completely contrived and only slightly worse than the original.”
49. Beastly – Skip-it – New This Week – An extremely misguided retelling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” story starring the young “actress” from High School Musical, Vanessa Hudgens.
50. Season of the Witch – Skip-it – New This Week – I am starting to feel like a broken record, but please, Nic Cage, please, stop making movies! How did you win an Oscar? Seriously? Season of the Witch is boring and ugly, so much so it can’t even pass as one of those terrible movies you just have to see so you can laugh at how bad it is.
…And the five worst films recently released on DVD/Blu-ray:
51. Red Riding Hood – Skip-it – Amanda Seyfried actually is brilliant and beautiful in Red, however, her supporting cast is as dull as brown basket of bread, and the script is even worse – leaving me to wonder: When commercials for movies say a film is “Exciting” and “Beautiful” and “Superb” can advertisers just grab words out of context (i.e. Red Riding Hood is not at all exciting, and though Seyfried is beautiful, the film is superbly bad.)? “
52. Gulliver’s Travels – Skip-it – Expect nothing more than fart jokes and other typical Jack Black jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I still laugh every time someone farts in my presence – I think I always will – but this film is nothing more than that – so just go fart on your friend and save yourself 10 bucks.
53. Drive Angry – Skip-it – See my reviews for other Nic Cage disasters such as Season of the Witch, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Knowing, Bangkok Dangerous, Ghost Rider, G-Force, and Next – or just skip-it all!
54. The Roommate – Skip-it – As a 20-something guy it pains me to say you shouldn’t go see Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly as horney college freshmen but The Roomate might already have brought home the Worst Film of 2011 award.
55. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son – Skip-it – I can’t believe it either! Martin Lawrence is back again, and dressed up as the fat woman named Big Momma nonetheless! This is quickly becoming the worst series of comedies ever made, and, unfortunately, Martin Lawrence is also becoming the biggest laughing stock in the business – not be confused with being a comedian who is actually funny and you actually laugh at/with.
Read weekly reviews of the top 10 best movies in theaters and 25 best new releases on DVD/Blu-ray here every week: Ryan Pratt – National Movie Examiner