DVD Review: Excellent ‘Animal Kingdom’ Features Oscar-Nominated Performance

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CHICAGO – One of the most wonderful nominations on Oscar morning this year was that of the great Jacki Weaver for the movie that most “E!”-watchers probably had never even heard of — “Animal Kingdom.” This searing crime thriller barely found an audience when it was released in art houses but should get a nice boost from the Academy and was just released on DVD last week, Jan. 18, 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0

Weaver plays a true supporting role (unlike Hailee Steinfeld, who is in nearly every scene of “True Grit”) as the matriarch of a terrifying crime family. The lead of the film is a 17-year-old named Josh Cody (James Frecheville) forced to live with his grandmother (Weaver) and uncles, who happen to be a legendary Australian crime gang. As the cops get closer to them, tension boils over and Josh gets caught in the middle. Guy Pearce plays a police officer and Ben Mendelsohn is excellent as the maniacal male lead of the clan.

Animal Kingdom was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 18th, 2011
Animal Kingdom was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 18th, 2011
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Video

As things start to fall apart, Weaver’s character takes over in the final act and she’s absolutely spectacular. She brilliantly portrays a woman who can make the tough decisions when her family’s safety is at stake. She’s terrifying and yet completely believable at the same time. There’s simply no way that Weaver could actually win the prize because so many more voters have seen “The Fighter” and “True Grit” but that would be a wonderful surprise. She’s great.

As for the rest of the film, it’s good but I think it falls just short of greatness. The film’s big (and arguably its only) flaw is the black hole at the center of the piece. Not only is Frecheville a boring actor but the character is extremely underwritten. I care about everything BUT Josh and I can’t help think that there’s a better version of “Animal Kingdom” with a more charismatic protagonist to represent our ears and eyes into this dark corner of the world.

The DVD for “Animal Kingdom” includes three strong special features, but considering how few people have actually seen the most-surprising Oscar nominee of the day the movie itself will be the big draw. Catch up with it before the Oscar telecast.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary with Director David Michod
o Creating Animal Kingdom
o Q&A with Director David Michod and Actors Jacki Weaver and James Frecheville

“Animal Kingdom” stars Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, James Frecheville, and Jacki Weaver. It was written and directed by David Michod. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 18th, 2011. It is rated R and runs 113 minutes.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Jenny's picture

Jackie Deserves An Oscar

Jackie Weaver deserves everything she gets, a wonderful human being that now is well and truely on the raDAR of hollywood.
Another Australian actor is Liam McIntyres (new Spartacus) and his thriller film Frozen Moments, when does it hit the theather? This seems to have some hype around it so I’m looking forward to seeing it.

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