This week: Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as billionaire-turned-superhero Tony Stark in "Iron Man Three," the first film in Marvel's post-"Avengers" Phase Two initiative.
'Iron Man Three'
Box Office: $409 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 78% Fresh
Storyline: Marvel's so-called Phase Two of movies blasts off with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) having his Malibu home blown to bits by mysterious foes. Stark sets off on a harrowing journey to find those responsible while he copes with extreme anxiety over the New York incident in "Marvel's The Avengers." Along the way Stark discovers the answer to the question that has always haunted him: does the iron suit make the man, or does the man make the iron suit? Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau reprise their roles and are joined by Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley as the villains.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have three making-of featurettes, deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel and an audio commentary. The real treat is "Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter," a 15-minute short movie that follows Haley Atwell's likable Peggy Carter character from "Captain America: The First Avenger" a year after the events in that movie. "Iron Man Three" is also available on Blu-ray 3D.
We Say: After the critical and commercial high that was "Marvel's The Avengers," director/co-writer Shane Black surprises with the most entertaining "Iron Man" film to date — an action-packed, at times humorous sequel that has a real sense of closure. Kingsley is wickedly clever as the man called the Mandarin, Paltrow gets in on more of the superhero excitement and Pearce is sinister as Stark's sworn enemy. But "Iron Man Three" is still Downey Jr.'s show, and he is best when he engages in witty back-and-forth banter with a young boy he encounters … and pretty much anyone else in Stark's world. Be sure to watch after the credits for a cameo by a fellow Avenger.
'The Kings of Summer'
Box Office: $1.3 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 77% Fresh
Storyline: This coming-of-age comedy follows three teenage friends — Joe (Nick Robinson), Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and the oddball Biaggio (Moises Arias) — who, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. Free from their parents, the boys' idyllic summer tests their friendship and makes them realize that running away from any kind of family is almost impossible.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a commentary track and the "Alison and Eugene" featurette. Blu-ray exclusives include deleted and extended scenes, interviews and more.
We Say: This is one of those coming-of-age movies (i.e. like 95% of coming-of-age flicks) in which the adults are all bumbling, overbearing idiots and the kids are supposedly wise beyond their years and just roll their eyes. Young teens might connect to the growing pains felt by Joe, Patrick and Biaggio, but watching them kick around in the woods and sneak food from Boston Market while dealing with freshmen dating issues might be too tender and precious for those who are years beyond this sort of setup.
Box Office: $263,411
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Fresh
Storyline: This documentary examines the cult of devotees who have cooked up all kinds of theories about hidden messages and meanings in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror masterpiece, "The Shining." Director Rodney Ascher fuses fact and fiction through interviews with cultists and film scholars in this deconstruction of Kubrick's enduring and still-controversial classic.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain interviews, commentaries, a Q&A and deleted material.
We Say: It doesn't matter whether or not you buy into theories that Kubrick made "The Shining" as an examination of the genocide of the American Indians or that it was a confession for supposedly faking the Apollo moon landing — "Room 237" is still an absolutely fascinating look at what happens when you look too closely at any movie. Kubrick absolutely could have had hidden meanings in "The Shining" … or some of the inconsistencies noticed by sharp-eyed viewers could have just been honest mistakes. If you're a fan of "The Shining," you'll never watch the movie the same way again after trying to wrap your head around the sometimes outlandish theories in "Room 237."
Box Office: $21,833
Rotten Tomatoes: 69% Fresh
Storyline: In this sequel to "V/H/S," two private investigators searching for a missing student break into his house and start watching his sinister collection of videotapes. After watching the disturbing content, the two realize there might be dark forces behind the student's disappearance. This anthology horror film has seven credited directors, including Eduardo Sanchez, co-director and writer of "The Blair Witch Project."
Extras!: The Blu-ray version contains both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the movie. In addition, purists can buy a Blu-ray/DVD/VHS combo pack. Good luck finding something on which to play the included VHS tape (we hear they were called VCRs), but try looking in the attic first.
We Say: This horror anthology has four separate segments in addition to the wraparound story, so it goes without saying that some parts are more effective than others. Still, the found-footage formula works well here as we go on a walk in a park during a zombie outbreak, visit an Indonesian cult, witness an alien abduction and witness supernatural horrors through the POV of a patient who recently had eye surgery. This is actually the rare horror sequel that might be scarier than the original.