This week, one of the year’s best action movies, the premiere episode of a TV show that just happened a couple weeks ago, a staple of cable horror, some quite popular television shows, and some comedies from Hollywood’s middle period. It’s a Shelf full of things you’ll enjoy, as opposed to those other weeks when there’s unmitigated garbage.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
As great as The Avengers was, it did leave a bit of a worry in the mind of a lot of Marvel movie fans, including myself. This fear was simply that no other movies in the MCU would or could hold a candle to the most epic team up in the history of the world. After Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, which were perfectly fine but did feel a bit wheel-spinny, these fears were close to being solidified. Luckily for everyone, the 2014 spate of films were anything but placeholders, and the first of which, Captain America: The Winter Soldier might well be the best superhero movie of the bunch. Its focus on Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), the most “human” of all the Avengers, and his struggle with the kind of war in 2014 versus WWII and his sudden realization that he can’t trust anything he thought he could, even that his best friend had died 70 years ago. I say who needs the Avengers when you have Cap, Black Widow, and Falcon? Lots of people will say they do, but give me more throwback spy thrillers and grounded action movies in the MCU and I’ll be a very happy man.
Doctor Who – Deep Breath
Wait just a minute here! Didn’t “Deep Breath” just air a couple of weeks ago? Why yes it did, but because it played in cinemas, and is feature length (at 75 minutes), it seems warranted to put it out on Blu-ray on its own. Plus, because we’re still in the first half of Doctor Who‘s eighth series, people might want to be able to rewatch Peter Capaldi’s first adventure on Blu-ray now rather than later. Whatever the reason, that episode is available for purchase and it’s got all the extras it had if you went to see it in the theater, including a “preamble” of sorts featuring Strax vlogging to us about the previous 11 incarnations of the Doctor, which is pretty funny and kind of a roast of the character we love, and the 12-minute Doctor Who Extra on the episode, which features an announcer with the most irritatingly fake excited voice I think I’ve ever heard. Other features include the special from last summer on which Capaldi was announced as the next Doctor and, best of all, episode 4 of The Real History of Science Fiction all about the subject of Time. Really fascinating series and great interviews with Who people like Steven Moffat, David Tennant, Karen Gillan, and Neil Gaiman.
If completionism is your thing and waiting for a complete box set isn’t, then this is a darn fine release.
A film in regular rotation on cable in the early 90s following a lackluster theatrical run, 1988’s Pumpkinhead, the feature directorial debut of creature effects guru Stan Winston, is a down and dirty monster movie with one of the best central themes ever in horror: for every one of man’s evils, a special demon exists. Man, that’s great. It stars Lance Henriksen as a single father in the rural south whose son is accidentally killed through the recklessness of a group of 20-somethings from the city. He’s so bereaved and aggrieved that he makes a deal with a mystical old crone to raise the titular demon of vengeance to exact retribution on the young people. But soon afterwards, Henriksen regrets his decision and wants to call it off. Unfortunately, once the thing is set loose, only finishing can stop it. But, Henriksen bets he can stop it himself.
The Blu-ray features hours of extras including a tribute to Stan Winston, a series of interviews with cast and crew, and a commentary featuring one of the screenwriters and two of the special effects guys.
Homeland Season 3
Showtime’s critically-acclaimed espionage thriller is the show everybody loved and then got confused about. The third season sees the CIA, specifically Counterterrorism specialist Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and new acting director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), dealing with the aftermath of a devastating terrorist attack which brings into question the effectiveness of the anti-terror branch. BUT, because this is Homeland, there are bigger conspiracies afoot. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a former military hero turned patsy, is in hiding in Venezuela and addicted to heroin before Saul comes to recruit him for a new mission. It’s very convoluted, you guys.
Supernatural Season 9
They’ve hunted all varieties of ghosts, demons, monsters, and paranormal thingy, and even been turned into minions of hell and come through the other side, and yet still the Winchester Bros are still around and kicking. Barely. Sam (Jared Padalecki) lays dying at the beginning of the series and Death himself comes to collect his soul, while his brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) tries to make a deal with an angel to save him, leading to a possession. Elsewhere, the angel Castiel (Tumblr favorite Misha Collins) is made a human and tries to live life on the down-low, lest he incur the wrath of the angels he locked out of heaven. And elsewhere this season, King of Hell Crowley (Mark Shepherd) is being used as a bargaining chip by the Winchesters to get info on all the demons that exist on Earth. Remember when they just went and hunted werewolves and ghosts and crap? That was ages ago.
Young Frankenstein 40th Anniversary Blu-ray
Not the first time in HD, Mel Brooks’ undisputed masterpiece, a loving homage and a deft send-up of James Whale’s Universal classics, Young Frankenstein is 40 years old this year and still as funny as ever. Gene Wilder has never been more unhinged and his repartee with Marty Feldman and Teri Garr should be taught in drama and film schools everywhere. PUT. THE CANDLE. BACK.
The Great Race
In the late-’60s, comedies were really long and full of action and things. The Great Race is one of those. This 160-minute road movie directed by Blake Edwards stars Tony Curtis as a ladies’ man car racer in the 1910s, Jack Lemmon as his moustache-twirling rival, Natalie Wood as a plucky reporter wanting to get in on the action, and Peter Falk as the dimwitted even sidekick. There’s some funny bits in this and also some not funny bits, mostly involving all the unnecessary musical numbers. There are several, though I would never classify this as a movie musical. Anyway, take a look at the trailer. They certainly thought very highly of themselves.