This week: Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman make an "effective team" in director Joseph Kosinski's eye-popping sci-fi think piece "Oblivion," which also stars Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Also new this week is Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in the intense crime drama "The Place Beyond the Pines," the infuriating documentary "West of Memphis" and the earth-shatteringly stupid horror flick "Aftershock" starring Eli Roth.
Box Office: $89 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 54% Rotten
Storyline: "TRON: Legacy" helmer Joseph Kosinski directs this sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise as Jack Harper, the lone security repairman stationed on a ruined Earth. Jack believes that after a long battle with alien invaders, the surviving humans were forced to abandon the planet and he will join them shortly. But when Jack rescues a beautiful stranger (Olga Kurylenko) who crash-lands in her spacecraft, her arrival triggers a series of events that causes Jack to question everything he knows about himself and the fate of humanity. Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Melissa Leo also star in the PG-13 film.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have deleted scenes, two making-of featurettes, a featurette on the music of M83 and commentary by Kosinski and Cruise. The Blu-ray adds two more featurettes — one on the Bubble Ship and another on the stunts — and an isolated score by M83.
We Say: This stylish, beautiful-looking movie may not be the popcorn flick that people were expecting for something starring Tom Cruise, but fans of provocative science fiction will appreciate its twists and turns as Jack comes to understand the horror of his reality. Freeman and Cruise are the true "effective team" in this slick stick-it-to-the-aliens epic that deserves a second life on home video.
'The Place Beyond the Pines'
Box Office: $21 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 82% Fresh
Storyline: Derek Cianfrance directs this intense crime drama about fathers and sons. Ryan Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt performer who gives up his day job in order to rob banks to provide for his newfound family; Bradley Cooper plays a rookie cop struggling to make his way in a corrupt police department. When the two men's paths cross, the consequences of their actions reverberate over 15 years and deeply affect their teenage sons. Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta and Dane DeHaan also star in this R-rated film from the acclaimed director of "Blue Valentine."
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain commentary with Cianfrance, "Going to 'The Place Beyond the Pines'" as well as deleted and extended scenes.
We Say: This ambitious, time-traversing drama is a slow burn at two hours and 21 minutes (a crisis that all could have been averted with one well-placed condom, kids), but it's worth the journey to take in the exemplary performances by Cooper, Gosling and DeHaan who all make you feel the emotional and psychological baggage their characters are dragging around. Gosling's bank heists feature some POV shots that make viewers part of the action, but you can also pause on almost any frame of this wonderfully shot art piece and frame a postcard. Within the gorgeous cinematography is a heavy, sometimes heart-wrenching story about how the sins of fathers are passed along to their sons.
'West of Memphis'
Box Office: $310,154
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Fresh
Storyline: This documentary from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Amy Berg in collaboration with Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh tells the untold story behind the fight to stop the state of Arkansas from executing the Memphis Three, who were wrongly accused of torturing and murdering three eight-year-old boys in 1993. The film exposes the wrongful conviction of the three teenagers who lost 18 years of their lives in prison for crimes none of them committed.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain deleted scenes, "Damien's Past Re-creations," a commentary track and a press conference and other footage from the Toronto International Film Festival.
We Say: Any sensible person will be angered and outraged by the circumstances that locked the Memphis Three behind bars for nearly two decades. Unlike past documentaries on the Memphis Three, at least "West of Memphis" has some sense of resolution as the blood-boiling film explores the unusual circumstances that allowed the three to get out of jail and pick up their lives thanks to unwavering support from both the public and celebrities like Johnny Depp. The real killer is still at large, but the film points an accusatory finger at one individual who — if he is truly the perpetrator of these crimes — will hopefully answer for them some day soon.
Box Office: $58,510
Rotten Tomatoes: 37% Rotten
Storyline: An American tourist nicknamed Gringo (Eli Roth) decides to party it up in Chile with his Chilean pals Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolas Martinez). After the guys meet a trio of babes (Natasha Yarovenko, Lorenza Izzo and Andrea Osvart) at a hot dance club, a massive earthquake rattles the city. What started out as a quest to get laid turns into a fight for their lives as escaped convicts prowl the crumbling city and aftershocks continue to rumble in this horror flick by Nicolas Lopez.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a commentary track, "Shaking Up the Casting Process" and a making-of featurette.
We Say: You'll spend the first 30 minutes of this movie praying for the ground to open and swallow up this crew of obnoxious, libidinous idiots. When the earthquake does happen, things start to pick up as panicked party-goers are dispatched in lovingly gory detail. But the excitement is short-lived since the rest of the movie is about the unlikable survivors scrambling around a broken city trying to get away from even more unlikable escaped prisoners. So, let's think about this for a moment: a massive earthquake destroys your city, blood and death surrounds you and the first thing on your mind is … rape? The next time someone asks you to go to Chile, tell them to send you a postcard because Lopez makes the country look like a 10.0 on the sleaze Richter scale.