Leading off this week’s DVD/Blu-Ray releases is “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” the spy comedy movie starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and newcomer Taron Egerton. Firth plays Agent Galahad, a veteran secret agent for the Kingsman, a secret intelligence agency, as he recruits Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Egerton) to join the service. Their mission? To stop Richard Valentine, a billionaire eco-terrorist, who plans to basically kill all humans (well, almost all humans). If this sounds a little cartoonish, that’s because it is, but unsurprisingly, that may also be its best quality. “Kingsman” divided critics; some said that it was stylish, exciting commercial entertainment, and others said it was crude, silly commercial entertainment. So it’s safe to assume that if “The Kingsman” seems like it would be up your alley, it probably is.
Other releases this week include two teen movies. First, the comedy “The DUFF,” in which Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) realizes that she’s the Designated Ugly Fat Friend of her friend group, meaning she’s the most accessible and thus the most exploited by others to get a whiff of her popular friends. Next is the time travel found footage film “Project Almanac,” a story of teens discovering time travel, using it for their person gain, and then in an epic twist, realizing that their actions have far larger consequences on their future. You know, a time travel movie. Then, we have the Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence vehicle “Serena,” which both tanked at the box office and was panned by critics. Finally, we have two documentaries: first, “Red Army,” an exploration of the Soviet Union’s powerful hockey team during the Cold War, and “Rich Hill,” a social document of life below the poverty line in a small Missouri town.
On the classic front, we have Warner Bros. new “Golden Year Collection: 1939,” which collects five films from “the greatest year in the history of Hollywood” on Blu-Ray. These films include “Dark Victory,” “Dodge City,” “Gone With The Wind,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “and Ninotchka,” which is also being released as a separate Blu-ray. The next collection this week is Universal Pictures’ “Clint Eastwood: 7-Movie Collection,” which brings together Blu-Ray releases of Don Siegel’s “Two Mules for Sister Sara,” “Coogan’s Bluff,” and “The Beguiled,” John Sturges’ “Joe Kidd,” and Clint Eastwood’s first films, “Play Misty For Me,” “High Plains Drifter,” and “The Eiger Sanction.” Then, we have the Charlie Hebdo documentary, “It’s Hard Being Loved by Jerks,” and finally five Blu-Ray releases from Twilight Time: Francois Truffaut’s “Mississippi Mermaid”; the rock musical “Absolute Beginners,” which features David Bowie; “State of Grace” starring Sean Penn, Ed Harris, and Gary Oldman; and two war dramas: “The Young Lions” and “The Night of the Generals.”
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club
Vaughn — who produced Guy Ritchie’s early work and shares Ritchie’s taste for visual flashiness — can’t make these political points seem any less stupid, nor is he trying to; they’re the animating force behind the whole movie. What he does do, however, is mine them for jokes and gory kicks.
Criticwire Average: B-
Gary M. Kramer, Gay City News
It may repeat the “be yourself” message but this amiable teen film boasts enjoyable performances which compensate for some of its obviousness. At very least, it’s a teen film that’s better than most.
Criticwire Average: B-
Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
Despite the uncomfortable sexism and altogether predictable nature of the film, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t modestly entertaining. There are headfakes toward character development, like David accepting the loss of his father and building new relationships, but thankfully the movie doesn’t pour this on too thick. And there are winks to the audience just when they’re necessary – references to time-travel films and television shows such as “Looper,” “Doctor Who,” “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and even the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle “Timecop.” You’ll either throw your hands up in disgust at its brazen product placement or you’ll laugh.
Criticwire Average: D+
Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist
The problems start with the casting. Some actors are entirely suited to period dramas, while others are more comfortable in contemporary fare. On the evidence of this film, Lawrence and Cooper seem to mostly be in the second category. We occasionally see the fire that made Lawrence an Oscar-winner at 22, but she’s most often atypically flat, at least in the early stages of the film, and this is certainly the least effective performance she’s given to date. Cooper is worse: he seems visibly uncomfortable.