Daniel Smith, Daniel Smith
Sequels galore lead these movies newly released to DVD and Blu-ray.
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2011, PG-13, two discs, $35.99, widescreen, audio/video commentary with Robert Downey Jr., featurettes, storyboards, photo gallery). The first "Sherlock Holmes" — with Downey as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson and direction by Guy Ritchie — was, for me, more annoying than entertaining, with its bleached-out colors, hyperactive camera work, overblown special effects and the occasional slow-motion sequence taking the moviegoer out of the experience.
This time around was more entertaining, though the same problems exist (maybe I'm getting desensitized), but the story does have Holmes' best opponent, the evil Moriarty, along with some clever bits of business along the way. Still, there's no excuse for teasing us with the presence of two fine actresses, Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams, only to give them nothing to do. (Also on single-disc DVD, $28.98.)
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" (Columbia/Blu-ray 3D, 2012, PG-13, $45.99, widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Nicolas Cage is back with a sequel to the worst Marvel franchise movie in memory, as a movie stuntman who becomes Satan's bounty hunter (was "Drive Angry" part of this franchise?), hiding in Europe and being called upon to save a young boy from his boss. (Also on Blu-ray/digital, $35.99, and DVD/digital, $30.99.)
"Spider-Man" (Columbia/Blu-ray + Digital, 2002, PG-13, $19.99, widescreen, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers, webisodes, music videos).
"Spider-Man 2" (Columbia/Blu-ray + Digital, 2004, PG-13, $19.99, widescreen, theatrical and extended versions, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers).
"Spider-Man 3" (Columbia/Blu-ray + Digital, 2007, PG-13, $19.99, widescreen, audio commentaries, bloopers, music video). The Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire "Spider-Man" trilogy has previously been on Blu-ray but these new sets include digital versions, and the first film has new bonus features and a trivia game. Of these, my favorite remains "Spider-Man 2," with the great Alfred Molina as Doc Ock. (Reissued just in time for the reboot "The Amazing Spider-Man," due in theaters July 3.)
"The Yankles" (Magnolia, 2012, PG-13, $26.98, widescreen, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer). A group of misfit orthodox yeshiva (Jewish seminary) students forms a baseball team and recruits an ex-con former major-leaguer to get them into shape. Culture clashes and ball-field hijinks ensue, and the underdog sports angle is fun. But the film is seriously undermined by unnecessary and ill-advised subplots that lead to overlength (nearly two full hours). (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98.)
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