Things really heat up this week in the home entertainment category with the release of one of the highest-grossing films of the year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, plus Paul Walker’s last pulse-pounding action film Brick Mansions, the first season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the first episode starring Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor Who, and an entire Regular Show disc dedicated to Rigby-centric sagas.
Theatrical Movies
Marvel Studios has had great success releasing big titles early in the fall DVD season, which, in the pre-Marvel Studios era, didn’t begin until the fourth quarter.  But right away with the first Iron Man movie Marvel extended the fall season with a successful September release.  This year it’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney, “PG-13,” 136 min., $29.95, BD $32.99) which singlehandedly enlarged the summer movie season with its record April bow that gets the September home entertainment debut.   The Winter Soldier, which earned $259 million at the domestic box office, was by that measure the second most successful superhero movie release of the year, trailing only Guardians of the GalaxyThe Winter Soldier was also a hit with the critics as it earned a spectacular (for a superhero film) 89% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. 
Directed by the Russo brothers, The Winter Soldier is a clever mash-up of a paranoid 1970s Cold War thriller and a modern superhero film.  Without spoiling the plot, suffice it to say that, as Marvel Comics was able to do with its Civil War series, Marvel Studios was able to harness the political zeitgeist, in this case the current controversy about privacy in the age of terrorism and by doing so make The Winter Soldier one of the most relevant superhero-based films made to date.  Aside from the occasional trendy lens flare and shaky hand-held camera work, the Russos do a good job of keeping the action moving and getting strong performances from Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans, and Anthony Mackie.  For this critic The Winter Soldier is really good when it is in paranoid thriller mode, and really average when it comes to the film’s massive “superhero-style” combats where the combatants trade blows that would sink a battleship and yet rise, apparently unfazed to deliver a similar massive strike to their antagonists.  Yes, superhero films aren’t the only guilty party here—that damn leatherneck Colonel played by Stephen Lang in Avatar was harder to kill than Norovirus on a cruise ship—but these over-the-top smackdowns are becoming as boring as professional wrestling.
Brick Mansions (Fox, “PG-13,” 91 min., $29.98, BD $39.99) was the last film to star actor Paul Walker, who died in a car accident last year.  The film is a remake of the 2004 French film District 13 (actually the title Banlieu 13 means “Suburb 13,” since in France the slums are in the suburbs and not in the cities) , and naturally the critics preferred the original, giving Brick Mansions just a 26% positive rating.  However the Brick Mansions’ Detroit setting is perfect and the film’s “Parkour” bears comparison with that in the original largely because David Belle, one of the world’s greatest Parkour practitioners, who starred in the original, reprised his role in the American remake, which is about as kinetic a film as you are likely to see this year.
Actor John Slattery, who plays the hard drinking cynic Roger Sterling on Mad Men, directed God’s Pocket (MPI, “R,” 90 min., $24.98, BD $29.98), a fascinating slice-of-life dark comedy drama based on a 1983 novel by Pete Dexter and set in a working class district in Philadelphia known as God’s Pocket.  The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman gives one of his final performances in this film, which is filled with great performances from an outstanding cast, but which also suffers from a muddled plot and an uneven tone.
Palo Alto (Peace Arch, “R,” 100 min., $19.99) was directed by Gia Coppola and stars Val Kilmer’s son Jack, and Julia Roberts’ niece Emma.  In spite of all the genetic star power, this tale of bored suburban youth is the kind of film only a critic could love—and they did to the tune of a 72% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  That lofty rating should be balanced against the fact that the movie was able to earn just $700,000 at the box office.
Those who enjoy romantic comedies will have to make do with Words and Pictures (Lionsgate, “PG-13,” 111 min., $19.99, BD $24.98), which stars Juliette Binoche as an art teacher and Clive Owen as a disaffected English teacher who both work at a Maine prep school.  Words and Pictures only got a 42% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, but critics are really hard on romcoms, largely because they have to sit through so many of them.
There are two very interesting and very different documentaries out this week.  Fed Up (Anchor Bay, “PG,” 99 min., $24.98, BD $29.98) is a muckraking, take-no-prisoners film that takes on the American food establishment with an indictment that traces the current obesity epidemic to the large quantities of sugar in processed foods, while The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden (Zeitgeist Films, “Not Rated,” 120 min.,$29.99) examines a strange, but true tale of mysterious disappearances among a group of European expats who settled in the Pacific islands in the 1930s.  The story is the thing here, and it is largely delivered by actors (Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger, Thomas Kretschmann, etc.) who read letters from the people involved in the strange affair.
With the new TV season comes a plethora of new releases this week led by Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—The Complete 1st Season (Disney, 946 min., $45.99, BD $79.99), which collects the first 22 episodes of the series co-created by Joss Whedon.  After a strong opening, ratings for this series declined, but fan support, which peaked early and then fell off, came back a bit after more characters with ties to the Marvel Universe were introduced late in the season.  This set contains lots of great extras including a feature on the S.H.I.E.L.D. stars at Comic-Con, the TV Special Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe, 5 behind-the-scenes field reports, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.
Other releases of definite interest to geek viewers include Doctor Who: Deep Breath (BBC, 70 min., $19.98, BD $24.98), which contains the first episode starring the new 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi, the long-running CW fantasy series Supernatural: The Ninth Season (Warner Bros., $59.98, BD $89.97), Kevin Williamson’s horror fantasy CW series The Vampire Diaries: The Complete 5th Season (Warner Bros., $59.98, BD $69.97), and the terrorism-themed thriller Homeland: The Complete 3rd Season (Fox, $39.98, BD $49.98).
One of the new series that flew under the radar is The Goldbergs, which airs on ABC.  The Goldbergs: The Complete 1st Season (Sony, $45.99).  A bit of a throwback to the character-driven family sitcoms of the 20th Century, The Goldbergs can get a little loud, but it also features realistic characters and solid comedy writing.  It is the kind of show that people who are always complaining about how salacious TV has become say they want to see.
Animated offerings of interest include the first Blu-ray edition of Batman: The Brave and the Bold—The Complete Second Season (Warner Bros., 590 min., $24.95), the “team-up” animated series that aired on the Cartoon Network from 2008-2011, the single-disc My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic—Spooktacular Pony Tales (Shout Factory, 132 min., $14.97), the comic book-based Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch—A Witch and the Werewolf: The Movie (Lionsgate, 66 min., $14.98), and the single-disc Regular Show: Rigby Pack (Warner Bros., 176 min., $19.82), which collects 16 Rigby-centric episodes of the best animated series on television.
Vintage TV offerings include hi-def restorations of high profile series like Little House on the Prairie—Season 3: Deluxe Edition (Lionsgate, $29.98, BD $38.98), Dynasty: The Ninth and Final Season (Paramount, $69.98), Elvira’s Movie Macabre Collection (eOne, 2310 min., $99.98), which includes 26 really bad horror movies on 13 discs that come packed in a coffin, plus 3 Perry Mason: TV Movie Collections (Paramount, 191 min., $16.99 each).
Fans of the “big hair” music of the 1970s and 1980s should be sure and check out The Midnight Special Collection (Time-Life, 960 min., $59.95), a six-disc collection of producer Bert Sugarman’s late-night music show that featured live performances by some of the great bands and performers of the era.
There are just two releases in this category this week, the Listen to Me Girls. I am Your Father Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, 300 min., $49.98, BD $59.98), which includes all 13 episodes of the 2012 anime series produced by feel and based on slice-of-life romantic comedy light novels by Tomohiro Matsu, and the Tamako Market Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “14+,” 300 min., $59.98), a 12-episode 2013 anime series from Kyoto Animation about a high school girl whose family runs a mocha (rice cake) shop in this delightful slice-of-life comedy series that also features an overweight talking bird.
Tom Flinn
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff of