New to View: ‘Avengers’ save the world again

By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Friday, Oct. 2, and Tuesday, Sept. 29:

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Blu-ray)
Release date: Oct. 2
Details: 2015, Marvel Studios-Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, intense action violence, language
The lowdown: This superhero sequel is everything that fans expect — which plays to the film’s strengths as well as spotlighting its shortcomings.
The movie has many good points, including bringing to the foreground such characters as Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk.
The movie’s major asset is the motion-capture performance of James Spader as Ultron. The actor brings a psychotic malevolence, as well as a deadly wit, to his portrayal of a robot created to protect the world that ultimately decides the best way to save the planet is to exterminate mankind.
On Blu-ray, the movie looks and sounds fabulous; the colors are sharp and the audio tracks will blow you away.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English 2.0 Dolby Digital descriptive audio track; English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A series of making of and behind-the-scenes featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes and a commentary track comprise the major bonus offerings.

Entourage: The Movie (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Warner Home Video
Rated: R, sexual content, nudity, language, drug use
The lowdown: Fans of this HBO series will enjoy catching up with hold friends as Vince and his posse continue their Hollywood journey.
Vince renews his relationship with agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), now a studio boss, as he negotiates the treacherous show biz waters.
The original cast as well as many guest stars return for this behind-the-scenes movie industry feature.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio descriptive track and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette with Adrian Grenier’s Vince as the director of “Hyde,” a discussion with the cast as how their lives have changed, a featurette with the film’s director and cast talking about the Los Angeles experience, a featurette on new cast member Lucas Ellin, deleted scenes and a gag reel comprise the bonus offerings.

Jane the Virgin: The Complete First Season
Details: 2014-15, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A five-disc set containing all 22 first season episodes of this break-out CW hit series.
The show, based on a Venezuelan telenovela, focuses on 23-year-old Jane who, as a child, vowed to remain a virgin until her wedding day.
But, as happens in TV sitcoms, a mix-up during a routine medical examination, her doctor accidentally artificially inseminates her with the sperm of her former crush who now happens to be her boss.
The series offers lots of laughs as Jane, her fiancée and family navigate her new and unexpected situation.
Technical aspects: Widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A featurette that goes behind-the-scenes on the series, a look at the cast, unaired scenes and a gag reel comprise the major supplemental materials.

Aloft (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: R, sexual content, language
The lowdown: A drama about a mother and son torn apart by a tragic accident.
The mother, played by Jennifer Connelly, becomes a famous artist, while the son, portrayed by Cillian Murphy, shows a talent as a falconer.
A young journalist, played by Melanie Laurent, will bring out a meeting between the two that could change the way they look at their lives and each other.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio description track; English SDH, English, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

The Honeymoon Killers: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1969, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This black-and-white feature, shot in a documentary-like fashion, looks at an angry, overweight and love-starved woman who strikes up a correspondence with a smooth talker who turns out to be a scam artist.
Together, they go on a crime spree, swindling and murdering lonely wealthy women.
The film, which stars Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco, has earned cult status for its desperate and disturbing context.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English monaural audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a 2003 interview with the film’s writer-director, Leonard Kastle, interviews with Lo Bianco, actor Marilyn Chris and editor Stan Warnow, a video essay about Martha Beck and an essay by film critic Gary Giddies.

A Room With a View: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Details: 1986, The Criterion Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: The collaborations between director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant made them players in the cinematic universe, especially with their highly-acclaimed adaptation of this E.M. Forster novels.
This story centers on Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter), who is torn between a free spirit, played by Julian Sands, and a priggish bookworm, portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis.
The movie boosts a first-rate supporting cast, including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Denholm Elliott and Simon Callow.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 widescreen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: The bonus offerings include interviews with Ivory, cinematographer Tony Pierce-Peters, costume designer John Bright and Bonham-Carter, Sands and Callow; a 1987 segment of the “NBC Nightly News” about Merchant Ivory Productions and an essay by film critic-author John Pym.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films
Details: 2015, Warner Home Video
Rated: R, sexual content, nudity, violence, rape, language, drug use
The lowdown: This documentary looks at the films of Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan, immigrant film lovers who fought to make a dent in Hollywood.
Their movies were not art, but were prolific, as they turned out hits as well as misses. Their films featured Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren.
These two characters made a movie out of a poster, released a sequel before the original film and bounced checks all over the industry.
The documentary is being released in conjunction with the “Cannon Films DVD Collection,” a 10-film set featuring such titles as “Missing in Action, “Cobra,” “Delta Force,” “Masters of the Universe,” “Bloodsport,” Invasion USA” and “Hellbound.”
Technical aspects: Widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: The extras include deleted scenes and trailers.

The American Dreamer (Blu-ray & DVD)
Release date: Sept. 22
Details: 1971, Etiquette Pictures
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A documentary that looks at the disastrous production of Dennis Hopper’s “The Last Movie,” the film the actor made after the success of his highly acclaimed “Easy Rider.”
Captured on film by co-directors Lawrence Schiller and L.M. Kit Carson, the movie takes you inside the world and mind of Hopper, during a period when he was self-destructing personally and creatively.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition; English DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette, a featurette on the preservation of the movie and a booklet about the film comprise the major bonus offerings.

Trader Horn
Release date: Sept. 1
Details: 1931, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: MGM spared no expense bringing this larger-than-life adventure to the screen, sending director W.S. Van Dyke and cast members Harry Carey, Edwina Booth and Duncan Renaldo to Africa to shoot this feature.
The cast was unusual for an MGM film: Carey was a beloved cowboy star, slowly shifting into character roles; and Booth and Renaldo were virtual newcomers. Renaldo went on to have a long career in serials, B-Westerns and television, where he played the Cisco Kid.
The story centers on the search for a “white goddess,” played by Booth, who, in reality, is the long-missing daughter of a missionary.
The reaction to the film, as well as the excess footage that Van Dyke brought back to the studio, spurred on MGM to begin its long-running Tarzan series.
The release is a video-on-demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.warnerarchive.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby Digital monaural.

Queen Crab
Details: 2015, Wild Eye Releasing
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A meteor crashes into a remote countryside lake awakening an ancient monster who rips through a nearby town and its inhabitants.
The authorities must not only stop this giant crab, but also do so before she can hatch an army of baby monsters.
The film features classic stop-motion animation techniques that recall the creature features of the 1950s and early 1960s.
Technical aspects: Widescreen picture.
Don’t miss: A commentary track, behind-the-scenes featurettes and a blooper reel comprise the major extras.

Black Coal, Thin Ice (Blu-ray)
Details: 2014, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A former police officer, forced to retire after being seriously wounded five years earlier while investigating a gruesome murder, now works as a factory security guard.
When another murder occurs, he is determined to find the killer and redeem himself. He finds that the murder victims all were linked to a woman who works in a dry cleaning shop.
During his investigation, he falls in love with the woman, putting his life in peril.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 16:9 widescreen picture; Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English and Chinese subtitles.

The Duke of Burgundy (Blu-ray & DVD)
Details: 2014, Shout! Factory
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: An erotic, adult feature about two women who explore the extremes of desire, lust and obsession.
Cynthia and Evelyn continually enact sadomasochistic role-playing games; Cynthia is the hard mistress, while Evelyn is the subservient and compliant slave.
Over time, Cynthia grows weary of Evelyn’s increasing desire for punishment, pushing their relationship to the brink.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles; DVD: 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby Digital; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include deleted scenes, a short film, an interview with director Peter Strickland and a commentary with Strickland.

Lawman: The Complete Second Season
Release date: Aug. 25
Details: 1959-60, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: John Russell and Peter Brown return as Marshal Dan Troop and Deputy Johnny McKay, keeping the peace in Laramie, Wyo., in the second season of this popular Warner Brothers Western TV series.
The second season introduced Peggie Castle as Bird Cage saloon owner Lily Merrill, who formed a bond with the marshal and his deputy, as well as adding a hint of romance to the series.
The five-disc set features all 39 episodes with such guest stars as James Coburn, Lee Van Cleef, future “Star Trek” medico DeForest Kelley, Jack Elam, Slim Pickens, Troy Donahue and Joel Grey.
The set is a video-on-demand DVD-R release from the Warner Archive Collection and can be purchased at www.warnerarchive.com or other Internet DVD sellers.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby Digital monaural.

The Invisible Monster (Blu-ray)
Release date: Sept. 22
Details: 1950, Olive Films
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: It’s good to see Olive Films once again delving into its Republic Pictures library and offering a serial on Blu-ray.
And while “The Invisible Monster” is not one of Republic’s better cliffhangers, it’s understandable that the title itself will draw curious film collectors.
This 12-chapter offering follows a master criminal known as The Phantom Ruler who uses a chemically treated costume to make himself invisible. It is kind of clunky because he always must have one of his henchmen shine a beam on him to remain unseen.
One of the positive aspects of these later Republic chapterplays is that they offer a lot of exciting stock footage and episode endings from earlier studio serials. So, watching these films from the early 1950s is like a greatest hits movie.
I am hoping that the release of this title will spur Olive to release more Republic offerings from their vast serial and B-Western catalogs, especially some of the earlier classic cliffhangers such as “Spy Smasher,” “Mysterious Doctor Satan,” “Perils of Nyoka” or “Daredevils of the Red Circle.”
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 full-screen picture.

Jack and the Beanstalk: Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection
Release date:
Sept. 15
Details: 1967, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: The legendary Gene Kelly teams up with William Hanna and Joe Barbera for this delightful mixture of live action, animation and music, with music by composers James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.
Kelly plays the bean seller, with Bobby Rita as Jack and the voice of Ted Cassidy as the Giant.
The kids will enjoy this video-on-demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection.
The title can be found at www.warnerarchive.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby Digital monaural.

Here’s to Romance
Release date: Sept. 22
Details: 1935, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A frothy Fox song-and-dance feature starring Nino Martini as a struggling singer is helped by an opera diva and soon becomes the toast of the town.
The singer later falls in love with his costar in the show in which he has been cast, causing complications with the conniving arts patron and her husband who want to separate the pair.
Martini has a fine voice, but was one of those singers who never really caught on with the general movie-going public.
The film, which features Genevieve Tobin, Anita Louise and Reginald Denny, is a video-on-demand DVD-R from the Fox Cinema Archives collection. It can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 4×3 full-screen picture.

Hanna-Barbera Specials Collection
Release date: Sept. 15
Details: 1972, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: During their busy TV heyday, animators William Hanna and Joe Barbera produced a series of animated special features, many based on classic literary works.
This DVD features five such tales. They are, “The Last of the Curlews,” about a species on the brink, which was the debut for ABC’s highly acclaimed “Afterschool Specials”; “Oliver and the Artful Dodger,” a sequel to “Oliver Twist”; “The Adventures of Robin Hoodnik,” with animal characters telling the story; “The Three Musketeers,” a version of the Dumas classic; and “Cyrano,” an adaptation of the classic drama, utilizing the vocal talent of Jose Ferrer, who won an Academy Award portraying Cyrano in a 1950 film.
The release is a video-on-demand DVD-R from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.warnerarchive.com or other online dealers.
Technical aspects: 1.37:1 (4×3) full-screen picture; English Dolby Digital monaural.

The Purple Hills
Release date: Sept. 22
Details: 1961, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A Western centering on two bounty hunters fighting over who killed a wanted man.
The two travel to the dead man’s gravesite with a marshal, the wanted man’s younger brother and that brother’s guardian.
Indians attack the group, and, as is common in the genre, the bad guys get their just due and the good guy rides off into the sunset with the girl.
This is a video-on-demand DVD-R release from the Fox Cinema Archives series, and can be found at www.foxconnect.com or other online dealers. This is a widescreen film being released in a full-screen format.
Technical aspects: 4×3 full-screen, pan-and-scan picture.

Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
A Plague So Pleasant (Wide Eye Releasing)
Theresa Is a Mother (Garden Thieves Pictures)
My American Cousin (MGM-Fox Home Entertainment) (MGM Limited Edition Collection, Sept. 22)
Octavia (MGM-Fox Home Entertainment) (MGM Limited Edition Collection, Sept. 22)

Coming next week: Insidious: Chapter 3

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He reviews movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

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