Things are definitely heating up on the home entertainment front with the release of this year’s second biggest hit, Furious 7, along with the live-action Cinderella, a great Brian Wilson musical biopic, and the latest seasons of geek favorite TV series The Big Bang Theory, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Agent Carter, plus a glorious new Blu-ray edition of the complete Lost in Space series.
Kenneth Branagh’s live-action Cinderella (Disney, “PG,” 105 min., $29.99, BD $36.99) stars Cate Blanchett as the nasty stepmother and newcomer Lily James as Ella in a reworking of the classic fairy tale that was good enough to earn a solid 85% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Of special interest to music fans is Love & Mercy (Lionsgate, “PG-13,” 103 min., $19.98, BD $24.99), a musical biopic of Brian Wilson, the musical genius behind The Beach Boys. Paul Dano plays the young Wilson, while John Cusack portrays the troubled singer/composer/arranger in middle age. The NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton will probably be the musical film from 2015 that will be most remembered (because of its far greater box office success), but in pure artistic terms Love & Mercy is right up there with it.
Also out this week is Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom (Disney, “G,” 81 min., BD/DVD Combo $39.99), a nature documentary that does needlessly anthropomorphize its subjects, but which also utilizes brilliant nature footage that is a true joy to watch. Nature documentaries like this that target kids are increasingly rare—and that is not a good thing. If you are looking for something to keep the kids occupied and perhaps develop some empathy for our fellow creatures, this is movie you should consider buying, renting, or streaming.
Kids, Star Wars fans, and LEGO afficianados will want to check out Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles Complete Collection (Disney, “G,” 92 min., $19.98), a direct-to-DVD release that features your favorite colorful, pint-size Star Wars characters.
TV on DVD
Also due out (on Friday) are two Marvel Comics-based TV shows, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—The Complete 2nd Season (Disney, 880 min., $45.99, BD $79.99). After the devastating infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hydra, Coulson has to regroup and rebuild, but he has some problems determining who exactly is completely on board. The producers have attempted to beef up the ratings of this series with appearances by characters from the Marvel Universe, a trend that will intensify in Season 3.
Empire, a juicy melodrama set in the world of hip hop, was the big hit to emerge on network TV last year, thanks to a wonderfully soapy narrative brought to life by a brilliant cast led by Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard. Empire: The Complete 1st Season (Fox, $49.98, BD $49.99) includes all 12 first season episodes of the series created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong that has enjoyed a huge mainstream success.
Fantasy fans might enjoy Sleepy Hollow: The Complete 2nd Season (Fox, 820 min., $39.98, BD$49.99), in which a Revolutionary War agent of George Washington is revived just in time to prevent a takeover by demonic forces that constantly threaten to overwhelm the efforts of a small town police force in New York state.
Contemporary shows out this week include the 1960s Manson Family prequel Aquarious: The Complete 1st Season (Starz, 546 min., $49.98, BD $59.99), which stars David Duchovny in a police procedural steeped in the LA counterculture of the late 1960s, plus the final season of the seminal forensic procedural CSI: The 15th Season (Paramount, $55.98) as well as the initial run of the latest show in the franchise, CSI: Cyber—The Complete 1st Season (Paramount, $55.98), and the BD edition of NCIS: The Complete 12th Season (Paramount, BD $76.98).
Mention should also be made of The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO, 270 min., $19.98, BD $24.98), a documentary about accused murderer Robert Durst directed by Andrew Jarecki. Durst, who is prime example of how the very rich can elude justice, was arrested and charged with first degree murder just before the sixth and final episode of this documentary aired—and it’s hard to see how the publicity generated by the series didn’t give prosecutors the incentive to dig a little harder.
Vintage series include The Bold Ones: The Protectors (Timeless Media, 360 min., $34.99), a 1969-70 NBC series starring Leslie Nielsen and Hari Rhodes, The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Collector’s Edition (TimeLife, 1255 min., $59.95), The Charlie Brown/Peanuts Specials (Warner Bros., 330 min., $26.99), which includes 11 Emmy-nominated animated shows, and Sisters: Seasons 1&2 (Shout Factory, 1,320 min., $44.99), one of the first shows to focus on the lives of women, when it aired on NBC from 1991-1996.
Animated and kids’ offerings this week include a single-disc package from the 2014 Cartoon Network series, Clarence, Vol. 2: Dust Bunnies (Warner Bros., 132 min., $14.97), and two single disc TMNT releases, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Meet Casey Jones (Nickelodeon, 65 min., $9.98), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Shredder Strikes (Nickelodeon, 65 min., $9.98).
Also out this week is The Comic Artist & His Assistants Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, 300 min., Subitltes Only, $39.98, BD$49.98), which collects the 2014 series from Zexcs that was simulcast on Crunchyroll, and is based on a seinen manga that follows the adventures of an artist with a serious panty fetish, who is constantly badgering his female assistants to pose for him.
Re-priced re-releases due out on Tuesday include the Fullmetal Panic: Complete Collection (FUNimation, BD/DVD Combo $39.98), the Fullmetal Panic: Fumoffu Complete Collection (FUNimation, BD/DVD Combo $39.98), and the Peacemaker Complete Collection (FUNimation, $39.98).