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This Week in Home Video: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘The Congress’

This Week in Home Video: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,' 'The Congress'

Plenty to report on the classic front this week, from Sony Pictures’ Blu-Ray release of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and to a number of Kino picks, including Hammer Films’ sci-fi classic “The Quartermass Xperiment,” the Barbara Stanwyck vehicle “Witness to Murder” and John Boorman’s bizarre adventure film “The Emerald Forest,” and Sidney Lumet’s “The Offence,” which features one of Sean Connery’s most intense performances. Scream! Factory’s latest release is a double feature of of Hammer horror anthology films, “Tales from the Crypt” and “Vault of Horror,” while Warner Bros. is rereleasing Joe Dante’s underrated “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” in hi-definition. Finally, it’s probably a difficult time to revisit anything starring Bill Cosby right now, but Robert Culp’s pessimistic crime film “Hickey & Boggs” features strong, atypically downbeat work from Culp and Cosby that’s well worth a look.

New releases include the some of the best television of the year and some first-rate dystopian cinema. The first seasons of both “Broad City” and “The Strain” are now available on Blu-Ray; the first is the year’s best new comedy; the second is one of the most glorious trash shows to emerge in some time. Film fans who haven’t caught up with either “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” or “The Congress” can now pick them up on Blu-Ray and see either remarkably expressive motion-capture or Ari Folman’s characteristically gorgeous animation. Those looking for a new horror fix could do worse than the found-footage “As Above, So Below,” and those looking for a movie they can tolerate around their parents could probably do worse (though they could also do a whole lot better) than “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” For those looking to do worse (nay, worst), “Jingle All the Way 2,” starring Larry the Cable Guy, has arrived.

More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:

“As Above, So Below”
Criticwire Average: C

A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club

No movie set and filmed just below the land of the living, in the darkness and foreboding silence of a miles-long tomb, is going to lack for creepy atmosphere. But for all the automatic unease its famous location generates, “As Above, So Below” turns out to be good for only a few mild shudders. Part of the problem is a mishmash of genres: Not content merely scaring the piss out of its audience, the film also aspires—interestingly but with little success—to a kind of found-footage Indiana Jones vibe. Read more.

“The Congress”
Criticwire Average: B+

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“The Congress” is harder to explain than experience, but its central conceits come hard and fast. It rails against commercialism with an absurdly far-fetched premise rendered in the bright palette of a Ralph Bakshi movie and a wandering surrealism that echoes “Naked Lunch.” Yet it’s also a wholly original and thoroughly surprising fusion of sensory overload and liberal philosophy bound to confuse and provoke in equal measures. Read more.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
Criticwire Average: B+

Keith Phipps, The Dissolve

Stepping in for departing director Rupert Wyatt, Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) retains Wyatt’s strong command of visuals, making Dawn’s Muir look Edenic and its San Francisco a suitable place for humanity to wind down a troubled reign as Earth’s rulers. He’s skilled at choreographing action scenes, one of which includes a breathtaking unbroken shot from the turret of a tank, but also at capturing the tension of quieter moments. Read more.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey”
Criticwire Average: B-

Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger

Lasse Hallstrom directs the kind of movies of which ambitious producers’ daydreams, expensive Oscar campaigns — or, at least, sharp upticks in Kleenex use — are absolutely made of. Stubbornly sentimental, faithfully based on some book-club approved best-seller, they’re painfully tasteful and strangely lifeless. They’re shiny, expensive tear-jerking machines. And “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is the latest. Read more.

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