This week: One of the biggest blockbusters of the summer, J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek Into Darkness," beams itself home on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and various retail exclusives packaged with collectibles and exclusive extras.
Also new this week is the twisted horror film "Frankenstein's Army," the Blu-ray debut of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" starring Matt Damon and the definitive "Friday the 13th": The Complete Collection on Blu-ray with all 12 films featuring movie maniac Jason Voorhees.
'Star Trek Into Darkness'
Box Office: $229 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 87% Fresh
Storyline: When a ruthless genetically engineered mastermind named Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) declares war on the Federation, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise (including Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho and Anton Yelchin) embark on a manhunt that takes them into dangerous Klingon territory. The ultimate sacrifice must be made if the Enterprise is going to make it back to Earth intact in J.J. Abrams' sequel to his 2009 "Star Trek" reboot.
Extras!: The bonus features and packaged collectibles (like a replica phaser or toy U.S.S. Vengeance) are different depending on where you buy "Star Trek Into Darkness" due to various retailer exclusives. The regular Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D combo packs all have several short making-of featurettes that are kind of standard electronic press kit (EPK) material. The Target and Best Buy versions each have six different exclusive featurettes.
We Say: Although it borrows a few too many details from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "Star Trek Into Darkness" still makes for an action-packed sci-fi adventure featuring a chilling performance by the now ubiquitous Cumberbatch. Although titled "Into Darkness," Abrams' continuing love affair with lens flares means this sequel is anything but dark, especially in 3-D, where the distracting flares — especially in the Enterprise command bridge — look like glowing entities floating around the room. The postconversion 3-D effects give more depth to the long corridors of the Enterprise and other stunning set pieces, but they're probably best utilized when Kirk and Khan do a daring ship-to-ship jump in spacesuits through a debris field. Trekkies grumbled that this sequel doesn't feel like a true "Trek" film, but "Into Darkness" is one of the best reviewed blockbusters of the summer and is a must-see for sci-fi fans in general.
Box Office: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 73% Fresh
Storyline: In the dying days of World War II, a battalion of Soviet soldiers find themselves lost in enemy territory and stumble upon a decimated German village. The soldiers discover that a deranged scientist (Karel Roden), who's the grandson of the Dr. Frankenstein of legend, is piecing together fallen Nazi soldiers with machines to create nightmarish biomechanical warriors in this horror film directed by Richard Raaphorst.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a making-of featurette and creature spots.
We Say: This found-footage-style shockfest is filmed from the POV of a cameraman who is documenting the Soviet battalion's literal descent into madness. If you can get beyond the obvious question — what kind of portable camera is someone possibly lugging around during WWII to film something like this? — the POV setup makes this feel like an 84-minute walk through the craziest haunted maze ever. The creatures are inventive and freakish and the gore effects are appropriately stomach-churning. If you're tired of horror remakes, reboots and sequels, "Frankenstein's Army" stitches together something truly ingenious and shocking that will leave you rattled long after the end credits. With a Halloween season approaching that lacks many theatrical horror releases, bring "Frankenstein's Army" alive on your Blu-ray player for a rockin' monster mash.
'The Talented Mr. Ripley' Blu-ray
Box Office: $81 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% Fresh
Storyline: Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) believes it is preferable to be a "fake somebody than a real nobody" in this 1999 thriller by Anthony Minghella set in the late '50s. Opportunity knocks when a wealthy American shipbuilder hires Tom to travel to Italy to bring his playboy son, Dickie (Jude Law), back to the States; Mr. Ripley then proceeds to worm his way into the privileged lives of Dickie and his girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) and plunges them all into a scheme involving murder, deception and duplicity. Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman appear as memorable supporting players.
Extras!: This Blu-ray debut has commentary by Minghella, "Inside 'The Talented Mr. Ripley,'" "Reflections on 'The Talented Mr. Ripley'" and "The Making of the Soundtrack."
We Say: This gorgeous film has long begged for a high-def transfer and its long-overdue Blu-ray delivers all the idyllic, golden-hued Italian scenery better than any previous DVD release. This gem from early in Damon's career shows just how talented the actor is as he slides effortlessly between the sheepish Tom Ripley and his cold, calculating alter ego who will kill to protect his secrets. Here's hoping this Blu-ray debut sparks a renewed interest in one of Damon's best performances.
'Friday the 13th': The Complete Collection
Box Office: $383 million (12 movies)
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Storyline: Thanks to a distribution deal between Warner Bros. and Paramount, all 12 of the slasher films featuring unstoppable killer Jason Voorhees made between the two studios are now available in this one Blu-ray set, including "Friday the 13th," "Friday the 13th Part 2," "Friday the 13th Part 3" (in 3-D), 'Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter," "Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning," "Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives," "Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood," "Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan," "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday," "Jason X," "Freddy vs. Jason" and the 2009 "Friday the 13th" reboot (the theatrical version and extended "Killer Cut"). Seven of the 12 movies make their Blu-ray debut in this collection, which hopes to make a killing when it hits store shelves on — when else? — Friday the 13th.
Extras!: This set comes in a collectible black tin case with a 40-page soft cover book and a Camp Crystal Lake embroidered counselor patch. There are 11 hours of previously released special features included on the movie discs themselves as well as a "Killer Extras" bonus disc.
We Say: From Betsey Palmer's unforgettable turn as Jason's mother in the original film to Jason's face-off with horror icon Freddy Krueger to the brutal 2009 remake, this is the first time all of the critic-proof "Friday the 13th" films have been available in one set. Although it's disappointing that "Part 3" is presented in anaglyph 3-D (red-and-blue glasses are included) instead of being upgraded to Blu-ray 3D and there's a lack of new bonus features, any fan of the hockey-masked movie maniac will have a bloody good time going back to summer camp with this definitive, shelf-space-saving collection.
Also New This Week:
"Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th"
"Marathon Man" Blu-ray
"The Fly" (1958) Blu-ray
"Joy Ride" Blu-ray
"We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks"
"Snake Eyes" Blu-ray