The recent “Captain America” sequel (the second-biggest moneymaker of the year, so far) arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this week, along with a bevy of other movies new to home video.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (Disney/Marvel/3-D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers, trailers). For me, “Captain America” is the best of the Marvel superhero movies. The film’s World War II sensibilities and the old-world values held by its hero just appealed to me.
Having said that, this sequel set in the 21st century is even better, with a gripping story filled with twists and turns, lots of amusing quips, first-rate action sequences and a surprising, bristling performance from Robert Redford in a significant supporting role. And in terms of folding the many storylines into the Marvel universe, outside of “The Avengers,” this sequel has it all over the others.
Chris Evans is again terrific as the good captain, a fish out of water in the 21st century, with great support from Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie. This one’s not to be missed.
“Words and Pictures” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, audio commentary, featurettes). Enjoyable romantic comedy-drama that gets a genuine boost from its two leads, Clive Owen as a desperate alcoholic with writer’s block who teaches English at a New England prep school, and new art teacher Juliette Binoche, whose painting has suffered since she developed rheumatoid arthritis. Too many rom-com clichés are in play, but there’s clever dialogue to spare as they develop a competition to measure the worth of “words” vs. “pictures.”
“Last Passenger” (Cohen/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, R for language, featurettes, trailer). Here’s a pleasant surprise, a sharp little British film that works as a white-knuckle thriller in the runaway-train genre, a suspenseful ride with no pretentions. Scottish actor Dougray Scott stars as a widowed doctor who boards a late-night London train with his young son and after a time notices that the train is speeding past its stops. So Scott and the few passengers still onboard take matters into their own hands.
“God’s Pocket” (IFC/Blu-ray/DVDm 2014; R for violence, language, sex; deleted scenes, audio commentary, TV spot/trailer). John Slattery (TV’s “Mad Men”) made his directing debut with this dark satirical melodrama starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles. His distressed character finds his life spiraling as he tries to cover up the death of his stepson. Co-stars include John Turturro and Christina Hendricks.
“A Long Way Down” (Magnolia/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, R for language, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailer). Dark British ensemble comedy about four suicidal strangers (Pierce Brosnon, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots) who meet on a London rooftop on New Year’s Eve. They make a pact to put off killing themselves, at least until Valentine’s Day. Sam Neill and Rosamund Pike are also here.
“My Man Is a Loser” (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2014; R for language, sex, nudity). A playboy (John Stamos) helps his buddies by offering advice on how to reconnect with their wives, but, this being a sophomoric raunchy comedy, the advice naturally backfires.
“American Promise” (Docurama/DVD, 2013, not rated, deleted scenes, featurettes). Race, class and the American Dream surface as themes in this fascinating documentary that observes two young African-American Brooklyn boys as they make their way through a prestigious prep school from kindergarten through high school graduation, followed on video by one of the boys’ parents.
“Korengal” (Virgil/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, R for language and nudity, audio commentary, featurette). Documentary chronicling the experiences of American soldiers fighting in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, using footage shot from 2007-08 by photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who died in 2011 while reporting on the Libyan Civil War.
“Bee People” (True Mind/DVD/Digital, 2014, not rated, short film: “Extracting Honey”). Documentary about bees, focusing on Colorado’s “Bee Guru” Gregg McMahan, owner of Rocky Mountain Bee Removal, Relocation and Education, and Tony “Bees” Planakis, a beekeeper working for the New York Police Department, among others.
“Citizen Koch” (MPI/DVD, 2014, not rated, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, trailer). Left-wing documentary seeks to explain how the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling has allowed the rich to take hold of politics and politicians, with right-wing wealthy industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch being the focal point.
“Victim” (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, not rated, featurette, trailer). British drama about a disenfranchised young man (Ashley Chin) raising his school-age sister by stealing from the rich until he begins to learn from her inspirational teacher and a woman from the other side of the tracks that he can change.
“Willow Creek” (DarkSky/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, not rated, deleted scene, audio commentary, featurette, trailer). Comic Bobcat Goldthwait has become a fairly prolific low-budget director of offbeat genre pictures, but with this one he trods overly familiar territory as a couple in the woods searches for Bigfoot, via the well-worn found-footage conceit.
“The Hunted” (eOne/DVD/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, audio commentary, featurette). Found-footage is also the go-to device for this horror movie about two bow hunters discovering they are being stalked by something in the woods. Overly familiar conventions as the hunters become the hunted.