The Spider-Man franchise was expanded by a theatrical movie sequel earlier this year that is now on home video along with a couple of wartime pictures and a plethora of horror flicks, most of which you’ve never heard of. Oh, and a World War II fantasy about Nazi dragons. (Would I lie to you?)
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (Columbia/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, music video). Peter Parker and his alter ego are at it again, though this time it feels a bit rudimentary and redundant as Spidey suffers from angst over his promise to Gwen’s father and new villains surface. There’s nothing new to chew on, but it does get a boost from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s winning performances.
This sequel certainly pleased fans, however, since it was big at the North American box office (No. 7 for the year so far, behind six other comic-book/toy/fairy-tale flicks), and it did even better overseas. So another sequel is assured, and as there are two villains this time out (Jamie Foxx as Electro and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn), we’ll probably see three villains next time.
“My Boy Jack” (BBC/DVD, 2007, deleted scenes, featurette). This British TV movie is a fascinating true story set against the backdrop of World War I as Jack Kipling, the 17-year-old son of famed poet Rudyard, yearns to join the military and fight the war, his poor eyesight causing him to be repeatedly rejected. His father uses his influence to get Jack a commission, and what follows alters the family’s view of the war, the military and the government. It's a compelling, if bitter, melodrama uplifted by a fine cast led by Daniel Radcliffe as Jack, David Haig as his father, Kim Cattrall as his American mother and Carey Mulligan as his sister.
“Jarhead 2: Field of Fire” (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, R for violence and language, deleted scenes). In-name-only straight-to-video sequel follows a Marine unit in Afghanistan assigned to resupply a remote outpost, which puts them in Taliban-controlled territory. Horrors of war ensue.
“P-51 Dragon Fighter” (Monarch/DVD, 2014, not rated). Well, here’s a new idea. During World War II, Allied fighter pilots in North Africa go up against a new kind of air power — dragons. That’s right, fire-breathing Nazi dragons with Iron Crosses tattooed on their wings. Computer-generated dogfights — er, dragonfights — included.
“Rosemary’s Baby” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, featurettes). The classic ’60s horror yarn (based on Ira Levin’s best-seller) is remade here as an NBC miniseries, feeling very much like a padded TV movie — and, believe it or not, upping the ante on the R-rated original in terms of violence and gore. Subtle it ain’t. Zoe Saldana stars in the Mia Farrow role as a pregnant woman whose baby is actually well, you know. And if you don’t, read the book or rent the old movie. This version is set in Paris. “Rosemary’s Baby” in the City of Lights? What were they thinking?
“Only Lovers Left Alive” (Sony Classics/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, R for language and brief nudity, deleted/extended scenes, featurette, music video). Strange, quirky, low-key romantic melodrama from independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch — about vampires. If you know Jarmusch’s work, you know how oxymoronic that seems. The centuries-old central bloodsuckers are played by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as cultured intellectuals who no longer kill for sustenance — but then an untamed little sister (Mia Wasikowska) shows up.
“The Quiet Ones” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, outtakes). Very loosely based on a real-life experiment, this British fright flick set in the 1970s has a loony professor and a team of students using a mentally unstable young woman to prove that supposed demonic possession is actually psychologically based. The evil spirits don’t seem to appreciate the effort.
“Sacrament” (Magnet/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, R for violence and language, audio commentary, featurettes). Found-footage horror tale about video-journalists documenting a friend’s visit to a cult as he checks up on his fresh-out-of-rehab sister. She seems fine, but they soon discover sinister things are afoot.
“A Good Man” (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2014; R for violence, sex, language, nudity; featurette, trailers). And here’s a movie without a single original thought. Steven Segal (is he still around?) plays a former special-ops assassin living off the grid as an apartment handyman until a tenant family has a run-in with a Russian gangster, and the bloody mayhem begins.