This week’s releases include: a special effects picture; a Friends-like comedy; an original bromance; a new addition to the Leatherface genre; a realistic mutant story; a new Washington drama; a detective gets a second case; and conflicting hero strategies collide.

Ghost Rider: Spriit of Vengeance on Blu-rayGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Blu-ray & 3D Blu-ray)
Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter. He is hiding out in a remote part of Eastern Europe when he is recruited by a secret sect of the church to save a young boy from the devil. At first, Johnny is reluctant to embrace the power of the Ghost Rider, but it is the only way to protect the boy and possibly rid himself of the curse forever.

The first film was by no means a good movie, but it was campy and had fun with an unconventional character. The sequel, however, tries to take it all too seriously, making the physical appearance of the Rider darker and giving too much attention to the special effects and third dimension. This results in a very long 90 minutes in which nothing happens for large sections of time.  Everyone is clearly following the same direction to not have fun in front of the camera, though it means no one has fun on the other side of the screen either – even Cage is reduced to a brooding companion for the CGI monster.

Special features include: director’s expanded video commentary; deleted scenes; six-part documentary, “The Path to Vengeance: Making Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”; and 3D featurette, “Riding Into Another Dimension.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Happy Endings Season 1  on DVDHappy Endings: The Complete First Season (DVD)
An altar-bound couple break up on their wedding day, forcing their friends to choose which side to take after the split.

It was time for a new comedy about friendship, though this show got most of the coupling within the group out of the way before the first episode. They’re a little quirkier than the average person and it’s difficult to relate to some of the situations in which they find themselves, but it’s this over-the-top quality that makes the series funny. Another noteworthy element is that the show does not conform to stereotypes; it has a gay character and an inter-racial couple, and they do not fit the cookie-cutter image of either. It may take a couple of episodes to grow on you and it probably won’t lead to an obsessive need to watch, but it’s an entertaining show to follow.

Special features not available. (ABC Studios)

Lethal Weapon collection on Blu-rayLethal Weapon: 25th Anniversary Collection (Blu-ray)
A veteran cop, Murtough (Danny Glover), is partnered with a young homicidal cop, Riggs (Mel Gibson). Both having one thing in common, hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one and other to stop a gang of drug smugglers.

In some ways this movie gave audiences one if its first real bromances: Murtough and Riggs. Not a buddy cop movie from the start, like oil and water their personalities clashed at every turn. But they gained each other’s trust through a mutual need to do right. It was turned into a franchise because Glover and Gibson had amazing chemistry on the screen, and their characters’ struggles drew in audiences. They reflected a dark time in America when people were feeling disenfranchised. Taking on an exploitive Goliath and protecting their loved ones, as well as standing up for right, was something viewers could easily support – and for many, watch repeatedly over the last 25 years. The closing battle in the first film is particularly memorable as the former military heroes face off; but the last installment strayed a little too far into the comedy zone.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Madison County on DVDMadison County (DVD)
A group of college kids travel to a small, mountain town called Madison County to interview the author of a tell-all book on the accounts of several grisly murders that happened there. But when the kids get to Madison County, the author is nowhere to be found and the townspeople act like they haven’t seen him in years, stating that the killer never existed and the murders never happened. However, when the kids start digging around to get their own answers, they find out that the stories may be more real than the townspeople are letting on.

In the vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, these kids go poking about where they shouldn’t and it leads to their very bloody demise. However, the first half of the picture is spent with them talking about what they’re looking for and then looking for it. In other words, nothing happens for 45 minutes. There isn’t even much build up or suspense to drive the lead in towards the first murder; instead, it appears to happen because that’s the formula rather than it coming from any character path or lurking danger. Writer/director Eric England shows potential in his shot sequences and framing choices, but there is still a lot of growing to be done.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director/producer Eric England, producer Daniel F. Dunn and actor/producer Ace Marrero; and Q&A Screamfest. (Entertainment One)

The Prodigies on DVDThe Prodigies (DVD)
Jimbo Farrar has superhuman intelligence and the power to control others with his mind, turning them into puppets devoid of will, who obey his every order. He works as a researcher at the head of the Killian Foundation for Gifted Children. His one goal is to find others like him. He finds five teens who decide to meet in New York’s Central Park. They’re not alone. When they’re violently assaulted in the park, they decide to use their brilliant minds to plot out the perfect revenge. Jimbo is the only one who understands, but also the only one who can stop them…unless he decides to join them.

A movie about kids with special, inherent gifts cannot help but echo X-Men; but this film stands on its own. The animation provides an element of originality and it’s edgier. Their lack of a moral compass is disturbing, especially since they seem to come to this state of mind so easily. It should be said this is not a cartoon for children. The violence is graphic from the attack in Central Park to the twisting of limbs as the teens exact their revenge. However, it is executed exceptionally well. The characters are three-dimensional people with developed personalities that the audience can invest themselves in for 90 minutes.

There are no special features. (Entertainment One)

Scandal: The Complete First Season on DVDScandal: The Complete First Season (DVD)
A former consultant to the President, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) dedicates her life to protecting and defending the public images of America’s elite. After leaving the White House, the power consultant opened her own firm, hoping to start a new chapter – both professionally and personally – but she can’t seem to completely cut ties with her past. Slowly it becomes apparent that her staff, who specializes in fixing the lives of other people, can’t quite fix the ones closest at hand – their own.

Special features include: “Scandal: Setting the Pace”; “Scripting Scandal”; and “Gladiators in Suits: Casting a Series.” (ABC Studios)

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows on Blu-raySherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Blu-ray)
Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) face off against their greatest foe, Professor Moriarty, as they travel across Europe bent on thwarting the master criminal’s plans for world domination.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

Superman vs. The Elite on Blu-raySuperman vs. The Elite (Blu-ray)
The Elite, a team of super-powered antiheroes, is renowned for killing their enemies. Despite the acclaim and approval the Elite enjoy, Superman knows they are in the wrong, creating more harm than good by their methods. Tensions between them finally culminate in a mass showdown on Jupiter’s moons, when Superman is forced to prove that violence is never a positive.

Special features not available. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group)

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