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, May 24, 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. The Fighter – Rent-it – Christian Bale is the trainer of boxing brother Mark Wahlberg, aka “Irish” Micky Ward, who is just about to go pro during the early 1980s. Like the boxer he portrays, Wahlberg is a longshot at Best Actor awards this year, but deservingly worth at least a nomination as his skinny co-star Bale steals scene after scene, and round after round, as per usual.
3. 127 Hours – Rent-it – James Franco is the infamous outdoorsman Aron Ralston who famously got trapped under a boulder while on one of his solo adventures – and whether or not you know the ending you will be completely moved, shocked and thrilled by the finale.
4. 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.
5. Unstoppable – Buy-it – Denzel Washington and that guy from the new Star Trek film are two men trying to slow a runaway train, and despite, or maybe even because it is based on a true story, it is completely entertaining from start to stop.
6. Tangled – Rent-it – A return to their proven princess formula but more entertaining and action-packed than your typical animated Disney films.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Get Low – Rent-it – Robert Duvall and Bill Murray are brilliantly sharp in this film about fabled, yet real-life hermit who famously threw his own rollicking funeral party.
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. Conviction – Rent-it – This remarkable true story starring Hilary Swank, Minnie Driver, and Sam Rockwell will have you vehemently rooting for a sister who puts herself through law school to help prove her imprisoned brother is innocent.
14. Paranormal Activity 2 – Buy-it – Even if you didn’t see the first film in this terrifying low-budget horror series, this film about a haunted home will still entertain and scare. And though this prequel isn’t quite as intense, it’s actually better written and a more interesting plot.
15. 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.
16. 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!
17. 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.
18. Rabbit Hole – Rent-it – Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart play an impossibly intriguing married couple trying to put their lives back in order after a terrible accident that changed everything about this suburban family. I was just saying the other night while watching Love Happens and thinking about his Batman character Two-Face that Eckhart will win an Academy Award some day. This might be it. And it might be Kidman’s best performance as well.
19. 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.
20. Fair Game – Rent-it – Naomi Watts and Sean Penn star in this dramatic, action-packed, mystery/suspense about the CIA, New York Times, Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, and the Bush administration – fair enough?
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
Twenty-five other new releases on DVD/Blu-ray that didn’t make the top twenty-five:
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. Public Speaking – Rent-it – New This Week – This insightful documentary from Scorsese on Jewish American author Fran Lebowitz is commentary on commentary, but interesting nonetheless.
29. 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.
30. Dinner for Schmucks – Wait-for-it – Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Zach Galifianakis are three of the funniest people alive right now, but even this hysterical trio can’t save this film from being a bland appetizer that never reaches the fulfilling meal that was promised.
31. I Am Number Four – Skip-it – New This Week – 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.
32. 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.
33. Due Date – Wait-for-it – Due Date stars Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis – which sounds like a hilarious duo – in a film about a cross-country road trip to catch the birth of a child – which sounds like a hilarious plot – but it is not!
34. 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.
35. Faster – Wait-for-it – The Rock is back and he shot Dwayne Johnson in the face then ran him over with a fast car – unfortunately, the script is just as corny, and so are the names of the characters: The Rock as “Driver”, Billy Bob Thornton as “Cop” and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as “Killer” – but fans of over-the-top action will find it better than most of the recent releases in the genre.
36. 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.
37. 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.
38. Casino Jack – Skip-it – Even a two-time Academy Award winner (Kevin Spacey) can’t transform this film about the greedy and corrupted American lobbyist (Jack Abramoff) into anything more than a conman you could care less for – and never want to see again.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. Gnomeo and Juliet – Skip-it – New This Week – 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.
42. 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.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. 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.”
46. 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.
47. For Colored Girls – Skip-it – Janet Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg (yes, you read those two names correctly as actresses starring in a feature film) are two black females in this Tyler Perry special interest/drama based on an award-winning play named “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” (yes, “enuf” and not “enough”) – I think you know my opinion by now – and probably have made your own.
48. 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.
49. My Soul to Take – Skip-it – Wes Craven misses again with this overly complex, incomprehensible tale about a murderer who swore to return and kill the children born the day he died. Confused yet?
50. You Again – Skip-it – Kristen Bell will never look hotter than she does standing next to Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver in this less-than-average, run-of-the-mill chick flick.
…And the five worst films recently released on DVD/Blu-ray:
51. 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.
52. 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.
53. Little Fockers – Skip-it – Despite a star-studded cast (De Niro, Stiller, Hoffman, Streisand, Alba, Keitel, Wilson), and some decent prequels, this “comedy” took #8 on the list of worst films of 2010.
54. Yogi Bear – Skip-it – Whether you are on team Boo-Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake) or team Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd), the only thing more terrible and disappointing than Yogi Bear in 2010 was The Tourist (voiced by the most monotonous, boring voice imaginable).
55. The Tourist – Skip-it – Angelina Jolie crosses paths with American tourist Johnny Depp who is dumb-founded by the beauty of Europe and this charming stranger. The cat and mouse game that ensues is more like a game of sloth and tortoise, as Depp is such a believable actor and Jolie is so beautiful that you will actually be dumb-founded into boredom yourself.
Read weekly reviews of the top 10 best movies in theaters and best new released on DVD/Blu-ray here every week: Ryan Pratt – National Movie Examiner at: http://icedjamb.com/movie-in-national/ryan-pratt