Picks of the Week
(PG, 93 minutes, Disney): Declaring early that she will be nobody’s queen but her own, Merida, the flame-tressed Scottish princess at the heart of this she-ro’s quest, is completely on trend within a spate of revisionist fairy tales.
After dispatching her suitors at an archery competition, Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) embarks on an adventure that centers on the fractured relationship with her mom. As refreshing as it is to see family dynamics rather than romance define the fulcrum of the story, the tale that unfolds isn’t the most sophisticated of the Pixar canon.
The conflicts, magic spells, chase sequences and reconciliations feel strangely by-the-book for a studio so well known for throwing the book out entirely.
“Brave” is attractive enough to be a worthy diversion – an accomplishment Merida herself would no doubt dismiss as shallow.
Contains some scary action and rude humor.
Extras: “La Luna” theatrical short and “The Legend of Mor’du” short film; commentary. Also, on Blu-ray: production, behind-the-scenes and location featurettes, extended scenes, promo clips and “wee gaffes.”
(R, 130 minutes, Universal): A candy-colored black valentine to titillation, garish brutality and groovy post-fin-de-siecle excess, this ode to cinema’s most exploitative pleasures finds Oliver Stone chronicling America’s dark side at its most sun-kissed.
As protagonist O (Blake Lively) explains in the detached, So-Cal voice-over that threads through the film, she has been living in a blissed-out menage a trois in Laguna Beach with Chon and Ben, marijuana dealers who grow the the best product in the country.
When they come into the sights of a Mexican cartel, O is kidnapped and they become embroiled in a battle.
Casting Ben and Chon’s struggle as a mom-and-pop operation against a big-box store, the director makes an otherwise throwaway crime story chime with real-time politics, from the recession to the recent victory of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Mexico.
The perversities, predilections and pitiless viciousness that drive “Savages” aren’t for the faint of heart, but those who partake of the cinematic substances on offer are likely to catch a strong, if immediately forgettable, buzz.
Contains strong, brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and profanity throughout.
Extras: Commentary with Stone; commentary with producers Moritz Borman, Eric Kopeloff, co-screenwriter/novelist Don Winslow, executive producer/co-screenwriter Shane Salerno and production designer Tomas Vothd. Also, on Blu-ray: “Stone Cold Savages,” a five-part profile of the film; deleted scenes.
(R, 102 minutes, Fox): The premise of the movie is so goofy, the performances so winningly wacky, that a willing suspension of disbelief has rarely been easier.
As “The Watch” opens, Evan (Ben Stiller) explains in a voice-over why he’s so happy in the suburban idyll of Glenview, Ohio – where he lives with his pretty wife, Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), manages a nearby Costco and pursues a devotion to civic engagement that borders on the obsessive.
When one of his night watchmen is gruesomely killed on the job, Evan immediately organizes a group to prevent further attacks. Soon, Evan is joined by Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) in a bumbling series of encounters with an unseen, green-goo-spewing foe.
“The Watch” was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (“Pineapple Express”).
Spiked with cheerful profanity and giddy sexual references, “The Watch” is a hard-R comedy with a soft heart at its center.
Contains strong sexual content, pervasive profanity and violent images. DVD extras: deleted scenes, gag reel, “Alien Invasions & You,” “Casting the Alien.” Also, on Blu-ray: alternate takes, “Watchmakers” making-of featurette. The Washington Post