Mel Gibson's most popular films get a Blu-ray repackaging and several recently released movies make their way to home video for the first time.
"Lethal Weapon Collection" (Warner/Blu-ray, 1987-98; R for violence, language, sex, nudity, drugs; four discs, $79.98). Gibson as a suicidal loose cannon and Danny Glover as a buttoned-down family man nearing retirement make a first-rate team in the first of these yarns about two L.A. police detectives forced to put aside their differences to pursue the bad guys.
Sure, it's over the top and occasionally veers into farce, but there's a serious buddy-cop dynamic the stars put over that gives the film some gravitas, despite all the loud distractions.
But the next three entries are louder, less logical and overstuffed with supporting characters and explosions. And the comedy is even broader, which sometimes drains the fun. But only sometimes. Each of the three sequels also has its pleasures, from wild stunts to wild comedy, and Gibson and Glover maintain their chemistry as their teamwork dominates the proceedings.
The film-by-film additions of Joe Pesci, Rene Russo and chris Rock are subjects of debate among franchise fans, but the films remain hugely popular and now have an air of nostalgia about them as well. Is it really 25 years since the first one?
The Blu-ray redo is gorgeous, each film is properly framed in widescreen and these are the original theatrical versions, not the later extended director cuts (with the deleted scenes included as bonus features).
Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, new audio commentaries (by director Richard Donner), old and new featurettes, music videos, bloopers, trailers
"The Secret World of Arrietty" (Disney/Blu-ray + DVD, 2012, G, two discs, $39.99). After several live-action adaptations of the popular children's book "The Borrowers" comes this Japanese animated charmer with stunning visuals and style to spare. The story has fantasy creatures known as "Borrowers" living beneath us when their world is discovered by a young boy. Voices in this English-language edition include Amy Poehler, Will Arnett and Carol Burnett. Created by the team behind "Ponyo" and "Castle in the Sky," among others.
Extras: widescreen, Blu-ray and DVD versions, featurette, storyboards, music videos, original Japanese trailers (also on single-disc DVD, $29.99)
"This Means War" (Fox/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, PG-13, two discs, $39.99). Two CIA superspies (Chris Pine, Tom Hardy) use secret ops technology to stalk, er, that is, to woo a woman they are both dating (Reese Witherspoon) in this loud, high-tech, explosions-filled romantic comedy. Mostly just ill-advised and mildly entertaining until Chelsea Handler gets more screen time as Witherspoon's comic sidekick/best friend, dropping obnoxious, distasteful one-liners and proving once and for all that she can't act.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; theatrical and extended versions, deleted scenes, alternate opening/ending, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers, trailer (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"The Woman in Black" (CBS/Sony, 2012, PG-13, $30.99). Daniel Radcliffle sheds his "Harry Potter" youthfulness to play a widowed and still grieving lawyer in Edwardian England sent to a remote manor to settle an estate. There, he discovers that children are dying, and his sighting of the title character, a ghostly apparition, may play a part. Moody, atmospheric and well acted, though it's never really scary or creepy enough.
Extras: widescreen, audio commentary, featurettes (also on Blu-ray, $35.99)
"Chronicle: Director's Cut: The Lost Footage Edition" (Fox/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, PG-13, two discs, $39.99). "Chronicle" is one of those trendy found-footage faux-documentary tales, supposedly revealed through video discovered in a camera, a la "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity." Here, three teens receive telekinetic powers, which they initially use for mischief, but which gradually drives them to darker efforts. Interesting low-budget picture already boasts a devoted following.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; theatrical and extended versions, deleted scenes, featurettes(also on single-disc DVD, $29..98).
"The Grey" (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012; R for violence, language; two discs, $34.98). Liam Neeson's annual tough-guy action picture this time tackles a man-against-the-elements motif, with the added danger of vicious wolves getting the scent of plane-crash victims in the Alaskan wilderness. Gruesome but well made.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; deleted scenes, audio commentary (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"The First Beautiful Thing (La Prima Cosa Bella)" (eOne, 2010, $24..98). This Italian tale of an estranged son returning to the fold when his mother contracts cancer is overly familiar and hampered by too many flashbacks, some of which are way too long. But both the flashback story of a dysfunctional mother with two young children and the contemporary story of a son coming to terms with his troubled roots are well played and wring the desired tears.
Extras: widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles, (also on Blu-ray, $29.98)Comment on this story
"Perfect Sense" (IFC/Blu-ray, 2012; R for language, sex, nudity; $29.98). Is it because it's 2012? What else explains all the recent end-of-the-world flicks? "Melancholia," "4:44 Last Day on Earth," the upcoming "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," etc., and this downbeat parable about a couple (Ewan McGregor and Eva Green) in Glasgow who come together as an epidemic begins to cause mass sensory deprivation. Odd and aloof but certainly a unique concept.
Extras: widescreen, featurette, trailer (also on Blu-ray, $29.98)