This week on home video, we’ve got a super successful space odyssey from Marvel, a feelgood sequel, and an inspirational sports film to lead things off. Then, there are a number of smaller releases, some notable TV box sets, and a few remastered anniversary Blu-rays of popular older films. Read on for details:

Guardians of the Galaxy


Unless you were already into the comics scene, chances are you’d never heard of these so-called Guardians of the Galaxy. Boy, has that changed. The film surprised almost everyone by ruling the late summer box office, thanks to a number of factors: a cast of charming misfits, a wry sense of humor, top-notch special effects, a killer soundtrack, and James Gunn’s steady directorial hand. This is the movie that made Chris Pratt a star and put a dancing baby Groot on everyone’s stocking-stuffer wishlist. With a Tomatometer score of 90 percent and an Audience score of 94 percent, Marvel’s Guardians succeeded in impressing nearly everyone, which isn’t easy to do. If you pick this one up this week, you’ll get a pretty in-depth commentary track featuring James Gunn, a making-of featurette, and deleted and extended scenes, among other things.

Dolphin Tale 2


Speaking of late summer surprises, 2011 had one of its own in Dolphin Tale, a feelgood movie about a handful of people rescuing a dolphin that was Certified Fresh at 82 percent. Naturally, we got a sequel this year, and though it didn’t fare as well as the first film, most critics found it pleasant enough. This time out, Winter the dolphin is struggling because her dolphin friend Panama has died; in an effort to raise Winter’s spirits and keep her at the aquarium, a search begins for a new companion to share Winter’s tank. Critics agree that Dolphin Tale 2 is a sweet, heartfelt drama for the whole family, even if it doesn’t quite distinguish itself from its predecessor, and it’s Fresh at 68 percent. Bonus features include a couple of short making-of docs, a look at Clearwater Marine Academy’s mission, and a brief piece covering the true events that inspired the film.

When the Game Stands Tall


One of the reasons we love sports is that there are so many incredible stories to tell; the only problem is, when you’ve seen so many of them dramatized on screen, they become more difficult to distinguish from each other. When the Game Stands Tall suffers from this problem; although its tale of football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) and the De La Salle High School team he led to a record-setting 151-game winning streak is undoubtedly remarkable, the film ultimately gets lost in all too familiar clichés. If you’re looking for something inspirational to watch, this may do the trick, but at 18 percent on the Tomatometer, don’t expect any surprises whatsoever, especially when the story plays out exactly like you might expect it to. Extras include a handful of deleted and extended scenes, a profile of the real Coah Ladouceur, and a look at the on-field filming techniques employed in the movie.

Also available this week:

  • Frank (93 percent), starring Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a dramedy about a young musician who joins an avant-garde band led by an eccentric man who never takes off his giant papier-mâché mask.
  • Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves (85 percent), starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning in a drama about a trio of environmental activists who plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam in protest.
  • I Origins (52 percent) starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling in a sci-fi drama about a biologist studying the evolution of the eye who makes a breakthrough discovery that alters his understanding of the world.
  • French import The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (47 percent), a horror film in the Giallo style about a man who descends into psychosexual chaos when his wife disappears without a trace.
  • Warner Bros. is releasing a handful of films on “Diamond Luxe Edition” Blu-rays that are celebrating various anniversaries this year: The Green Mile: 15th Anniversary (80 percent), Natural Born Killers: 20th Anniversary, Forrest Gump: 20th Anniversary, Tim Burton’s Batman: 25th Anniversary, and Gremlins: 30th Anniversary. Feel old yet?
  • We also get three choices from the Criterion Collection this week: Todd Haynes’ Safe (84 percent), starring Julianne Moore in a paranoid thriller about a woman who falls victim to an inexplicable disease; Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (93 percent), about a boy who experiences the journey of a lifetime with a band of time-traveling dwarfs; and Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (67 percent), starring Charlotte Rampling as a Nazi concentration camp survivor who attempts to rekindle her sadomasochistic relationship with her former torturer in post-war Vienna.
  • Season eight of the BBC’s Doctor Who (91 percent), the first season with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season two of Under the Dome (57 percent), a sci-fi mystery about a town trapped under a mysterious dome, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The first of three classic TV sets coming out this week, the complete series of 1960s comedy Mister Ed, about the famous talking horse, is available on DVD.
  • Second, the complete series of the popular 1980s sitcom The Jeffersons is also available on DVD.
  • And third, the complete series of the Robin Williams Happy Days spinoff Mork & Mindy is also available on DVD.
This week at the movies, we’ve got winged heroes (Planes: Fire And Rescue, with voice performances by Dane Cook and Ed Harris), criminal-minded citizens (The Purge: Anarchy, starring Frank Grillo and Michael K. Williams), and a mortified married couple (Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel). What do the critics have to say?

Planes: Fire And Rescue


Some animated features offer enough magic and wonder to entertain the whole family, while others might keep the kiddies occupied but won’t do much for their parents. The critics say Planes: Fire And Rescue is an example of the latter; the visuals are striking, but the characters are bland and the action is predictable. This time out, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) has left racing behind to join Blade Ranger (Ed Harris) and his squad of fire and rescue planes, who must contain an out-of-control forest blaze. The pundits say Planes: Fire & Rescue is sure to delight vehicle-obsessed children, but their parents or guardians are likely to find it thin and inoffensive at best.

The Purge: Anarchy


If you’re in the mood for disreputable B-movie thrills ‘n’ chills, critics say you could do worse than The Purge: Anarchy, a ludicrously-plotted, blood-drenched sci-fi action flick whose pulpy pleasures are unfortunately undermined by its overreaching message. Like its predecessor, The Purge takes place during a 12-hour stretch during which all laws are suspended and criminals run wild; this time, a grizzled cop (Frank Grillo) defends several law-abiding citizens while seeking to avenge the death of his son. The pundits say The Purge: Anarchy is gritty and tense, but its predictable narrative and allegorical pretensions dull its occasionally sharp edge. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of horror sequels.)

Sex Tape


Sex Tape promises a playful blend of heart and raunch, and it stars two dependable comic talents in Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. Unfortunately, critics say the movie has a few good moments but never generates the kind of manic energy that this kind of farce requires. Diaz and Segel star as a married couple looking to add a dash of spice to their stagnant relationship. However, when they accidentally distribute a video of their private activities, our heroes go to absurd lengths to destroy the evidence. The pundits say Sex Tape too often strains for laughs while keeping its naughty premise from achieving full boil. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Diaz’s best-reviewed films.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Fanny, a drama about a woman who marries a rich man before the father of her child realizes he loves her, is at 71 percent.
  • Alive Inside, a documentary about how music helps to engage people with debilitating memory loss, is at 70 percent.
  • A Five Star Life, a drama about a luxury hotel critic dealing with a shakeup in her support system, is at 60 percent.
  • Michel Gondry‘s Mood Indigo, starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris in a romantic fantasy about a man who tries to save a woman with an unusual medical condition, is at 56 percent.
  • Aftermath, starring Edward Furlong in a sci-fi thriller about a group of strangers hiding in a basement in order to survive nuclear radiation and zombie hoards, is at 56 percent.
  • I Origins, starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling in a sci-fi drama about a researcher whose study of the human eye leads to a dramatic discovery, is at 50 percent.
  • Zach Braff‘s Wish I Was Here, co-starring Kate Hudson in a comedy about a thirtysomething dad in the midst of reevaluating his life, is at 29 percent.
  • Video Games: The Movie, a documentary about the pioneers of the medium, is at 25 percent.
  • Persecuted, starring James Remar and Bruce Davison in a thriller about an evangelist who runs afoul of a corrupt senator, is at zero percent.

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