Star Trek Into DarknessKirk, Spock and the rest of the gang are back in action with Star Trek Into Darkness, the latest in director J.J. Abrams' reboot of the venerable sci-fi series. This time around, the Enterprise crew runs into an old franchise villain, played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes). If you haven't seen the movie, and haven't deduced (heh) the villain from a summer's worth of hype, let's just say it starts with a "K" and rhymes with Ron.
There's a lot to enjoy about this new film, including updates to classic Star Trek mythology and some answers to long-percolating questions. For instance: What's inside those photon torpedoes, anyway? The special effects are big and bold, especially an opening sequence inside an extraterrestrial volcano, and the entire affair is delivered in the spirit of high-octane space opera.
Extras: With these kind of big blockbuster home video releases, the extras are sometimes better than the film – for sci-fi nerds, anyway. The DVD/Blu-ray combo pack features a generous assortment of bonus features, including seven behind-the-scenes mini-docs on the film's technical aspects and back story.
Also new on DVD and Blu-ray, Now You See Me should appeal to fans of that treasured movie genre known as the Heist Film. The gist: Four stage magicians team up to pull of a series of impossible capers that, by all appearances, occur elsewhere while the magicians themselves are performing onstage.
The FBI gets involved, as do several other interested parties, and the plot unwinds into a labyrinth of misdirections and double crosses. Now You See Me didn't get much critical love upon release, but it did just fine at the box office, and in this case I think the audiences had it right. This is one of the year's more underrated films, and it's worth checking out just to watch the international ensemble cast at work, including Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Common, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.
Extras: The DVD edition includes a commentary track and the featurette A Brief History of Magic. Blu-ray adds deleted scenes and additional behind-the-curtains material.
Also New This Week:
Actor-director Sarah Polley turns the camera toward her own family's past in the fascinating documentary Stories We Tell, which drills down, finally, to the nature of storytelling itself. Highly recommended.
Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm in the Italian-themed romantic comedy Love is All You Need, from the excellent Danish director Susanne Bier.
Julianne Moore and Greg Kinnear in the literature-themed romantic comedy The English Teacher, from first-time feature film director Craig Zisk.
Winner of Spain's 2013 Goya Award for Best Picture, Blancanieves is a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale in an homage to classic silent cinema.
The psychological thriller Wish You Were Here stars Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer as vacationing Aussies whose trip goes rather spectacularly awry in Cambodia.
It's the farewell DVD tour for what is, in my TV nerd opinion, one of the best television comedies ever: The Office: Season Nine is filled with the usual package of fan-friendly extras, including some never-before-seen audition tapes from 10 years ago.
Major League Baseball Productions regularly issues nicely-assembled DVD sets for the hardcore fan: MLB 25: Greatest Postseason Home Runs features just that, profiled in chronological order from oldest to most recent. Go, Tigers!
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Sixth Season
Blandings: Series One
Blue Bloods: The Third Season
Castle: The Complete Fifth Season
Chicago Fire: Season One
Criminal Minds: The Eighth Season
Haven: The Complete Third Season
Homeland: The Complete Second Season
Parks and Recreation: Season Five
Revolution: The Complete First Season
Supernatural: The Complete Eighth Season
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fourth Season