New on DVD and Blu-ray,: 'Sherlock Homes 2,' 'Ghost Rider,' the funny-smart sci-fi of 'Extraterrestrial' and new Blus of the Raimi 'Spider-Man' films...
This week's new DVDs, Blu-rays and Video On Demand offerings include a return engagement for Robert Downey Jr.'s 'Sherlock Holmes,' some rage-in-the-Cage action with 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,' the off-center sci-fi comedy 'Extraterrestrial' and the Raimi 'Spider-Man' films on Blu-ray.
Demonstrating that, yes, people like seeing Robert Downey Jr. being funny and charming in a retro vest just as much as they like to see him be funny and charming in a futuristic iron exoskeleton, 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' finally comes home this week. Guy Ritchie's direction is still a little bit too too modern for the more classic elements of the course material, but Downy and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson have a nice zingy interplay -- and Jared Harris, late of 'Mad Men,' is superb as the criminal genius Moriarty, Holmes' dreaded nemesis and equal. The extras are excellent -- you can use your iPad or tablet to control the film, or unfold special making-of material -- but the film's success as a brisk, swift action-thriller is the number one version to play along with this 'Game' at home.
Nicolas Cage .. as a demonically-possessed stunt-bike-riding supernatural super-hero ... in a film from the people who gave us 'Crank.' Really, can you ask for much more in terms of diabolically lowbrow entertainment? A follow-up to the Marvel comics movie 'Ghost Rider,' 'Spirit of Vengeance' sees Cage's Johnny Blaze enlisted to protect a boy from a cursed prophecy, on-fire half the time and over-acting the rest. The extras are embarrassingly expansive -- deleted scenes, director's video commentary. And, yes, if you have 3D glasses and a 3D TV you can 3D it up in your own home, as well.
The follow-up film from Nacho Vigalondo's crazed, creepy 'Timecrimes,' 'Extraterrestrial' is another weird, wicked-smart genre mash-up, as Julio wakes up next to Julia after a boozy, woozy one-night stand with more than a little bit of social awkwardness … that's soon all forgotten about as the two of them realize that a huge alien ship is now hovering right over downtown, where they are. Can Julio dodge what may be the end of the world as well as Julia's boyfriend?Can they figure out what the visiting aliens want from earth, as well as what they want from each other? Smart and swift and full of interesting takes on love, lust and life on other planets, 'Extraterrestrial' is as good as it is clever.
With the Andrew Garfield-led 'Amazing Spider-Man' re-launch around the corner, it's no coincidence that Sony is bringing the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films from 2002, 2004 and 2007 to Blu-ray. There's not a lot of new extras, per se -- most of the commentaries and extended cuts are from previous editions of the films -- but this set of Blu releases does include the miracle of Ultraviolet, giving you a streaming/downloading copy of each film to enjoy as well. The colors and light in the first two films pop even more on Blu-ray and the third film reminds you that no amount of high-resolution video and sound can save low-resolution screenwriting. Still, 'Spider-Man' and 'Spider-Man 2' both have great action and Tobey Maguire, and you could argue that thanks to Alfred Molina's surprisingly good work as Doc Ock, 'Spider-Man 2' might just be the best super-hero movie ever made.