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This week: Milla Jovovich goes to the heart of the Umbrella Corporation to stop the global zombie epidemic in "Resident Evil: Retribution," the fifth movie in the popular sci-fi action series that sees the return of original "Resident Evil" badass Michelle Rodriguez.
Also new this week is the Southern-fried pitch-black comedy "Killer Joe" starring Matthew McConaughey, the bike-messenger thriller "Premium Rush" with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the romantic drama "The Words" with Bradley Cooper and the financial thriller "Arbitrage" with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.
'Resident Evil: Retribution'
[caption id="attachment_159061" align="alignright" width="220"] Sony[/caption]
Box Office: $42 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 31% Rotten
Storyline: In this fifth installment of the enduring zombie apocalypse series based on the video game, Alice (Milla Jovovich) escapes from her cell inside Umbrella's prime research facility and finds that old friends have become new enemies. Director Paul W.S. Anderson's "Retribution" brings back Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr, Boris Kodjoe, Sienna Guillory and more from previous installments.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain the "Drop (Un)Dead Creatures" featurette and filmmakers and crew commentaries; BD exclusives include six behind-the-scenes featurettes and "Project Alice: The Interactive Database." The Blu-ray 3D combo pack also has deleted and extended scenes plus outtakes in 3D.
We Say: If you're not yet on board Alice's endless quest to stop the global T-virus epidemic, this latest sequel isn't going to make you a believer. Still, there are some dazzling action sequences — especially in 3D — in the Umbrella facility that has huge hangars replicating international cities. Also, it's a great sci-fi twist to bring back favorite characters that were previously killed off and have them play multiple roles as clones, especially Rodriguez as a pacifist who doesn't know how to use a gun (!) and Fehr as Alice's would-be suburban husband. This all builds up nicely to the sixth and supposedly final "Resident Evil" film.
[caption id="attachment_159062" align="alignright" width="220"] Sony[/caption]
Box Office: $20 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 76% Fresh
Storyline: Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is used to putting his life on the line as a New York bike messenger who weaves in and out of traffic on a "fixie" — a super-lightweight, single-gear bike with no brakes — but he doesn't anticipate a crooked cop (Michael Shannon) chasing him downtown during his latest run to intercept a "premium rush" package. This energetic thriller directed by David Koepp also stars Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain behind-the-scenes featurettes on the action, stunts, actors and more.
We Say: If you've had it with talky, plodding Oscar-bait movies and sentimental holiday flicks, jolt yourself back to life with this crazy thriller that puts you right on the streets of Manhattan with Gordon-Levitt. Shannon is terrific in any role, but he is deliciously good here as a frantic police officer who desperately tries to catch the unreasonably dedicated bike messenger.
[caption id="attachment_159063" align="alignright" width="220"] Lionsgate[/caption]
Box Office: $2 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 77% Fresh
Storyline: Matthew McConaughey plays the titular character, a Dallas detective moonlighting as a hit man hired by a desperate drug dealer, Chris (Emile Hirsch), to kill his mother so that his sister, Dottie (Juno Temple), collects the insurance policy. What Chris doesn't foresee is Joe taking Dottie as a retainer until he can get paid in this dark Southern-fried drama based on a play by Tracy Letts and directed by William Friedkin. Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon star as Chris' father and stepmother, respectively.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain an audio commentary by Friedkin; some SXSW Festival footage, including a Q&A with the cast and an intro by Friedkin; a featurette on the adaptation from stage to screen; and a red-band "White Trash" trailer for the movie that got an NC-17 rating in theaters.
We Say: What is called the "unrated director's cut" on this disc features the same dark, twisted humor as the theatrical NC-17 version and preserves the movie's most notorious bits, including that controversial chicken-drumstick scene with Gershon. It might be too disturbing for delicate eyes, but "The Exorcist" director Friedkin is back at the top of his game and demands a very strong reaction — whatever it might be — from viewers. All the performers are superb, especially Temple, who completely loses her British accent to play Texas trailer trash, and Gershon, whose character must literally choke on her wrong-doings.
[caption id="attachment_159064" align="alignright" width="220"] Sony[/caption]
Box Office: $11 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 22% Rotten
Storyline: Novelist Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) has a loving wife (Zoe Saldana) and critical acclaim after publishing a popular novel, but he's risked everything he values because his success is not entirely his own. With his conscience haunting him, Rory deals with the consequences that put his relationship in jeopardy in this romantic thriller co-starring Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde and Ben Barnes.
Extras!: The Extended Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray both contain a behind-the-scenes featurette and "A Gentleman's Agreement: A Look at How Bradley Cooper and the Filmmakers Found 'The Words.'" Exclusive to the Blu-ray are the "Clay and Daniella" and "The Young Man and Celia" in-depth character profiles.
We Say: Don't expect to emotionally connect with anyone in this overly complex co-directorial debut by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal that largely strains its talented cast with a script that is not nearly as profound as it thinks it is.
[caption id="attachment_159065" align="alignright" width="220"] Lionsgate[/caption]
Box Office: $8 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% Fresh
Storyline: On paper, New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) has it all: a loving wife (Susan Sarandon), a devoted daughter (Brit Marling) working alongside him and a seemingly endless flow of cash. Behind the scenes, however, Robert's financial empire is crumbling as he engages in fraud and a risky affair that ends explosively and puts his world in a tailspin. Tim Roth plays the police detective gunning to nail Robert to the wall in this financial thriller written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have a commentary by Jarecki, "A Glimpse into 'Arbitrage'" featurette, "Who is Robert Miller?" featurette and deleted scenes.
We Say: Gere gives an Oscar-caliber performance in this underappreciated adult thriller that shows just how much a filthy-rich man can get away with ... and at what price. It's fascinating to watch Gere go from simmer to boil as the pressure resulting from lie after lie threatens to blow his world apart.
Also New This Week:
"The Well Digger's Daughter"
"Mass Effect: Paragon Lost"