X-Men: First Class – Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn pulls out a defibrillator and revives the mummified X-Men series, scrapping the nonsense of the past couple movies and restarting from scratch. His game cast of actors, including James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence, tells the Cold War-era tale of the group’s beginnings with verve. Due out Friday, the Blu-ray/digital copy combo is loaded with 10 digital comics, deleted scenes, the isolated score and several interesting featurettes.
Community: Season 2 – You know you’re doing something right when Chevy Chase is the fourth of fifth funniest member of your cast. Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi and Chase make up a directionless group of junior college buddies who waste away in an eternal 13th grade to the comedic delight of all. The DVD is admirably buttressed with a syllabus’s worth of extras, including commentary for all 24 episodes, deleted scenes and a pair of strong making-of featurettes.
Everything Must Go – Usually when Will Ferrell stars in a depressing movie it’s because he’s stuck with an unfunny script. This downbeat drama has plenty of dark humor, but Ferrell’s sad-sack character and his endless death spiral are tough to endure. He plays an alcoholic who’s fired from his job and booted out of his house by his wife in the same day, forced to live on his lawn until he can decide the right moves to creep back to respectability. Commentary, deleted scenes and a couple featurettes round out the package.
The Office: Season 7 – Steve Carell‘s final season on the surprisingly stout sitcom was one of its best. His character, clueless paper vendor manager Michael, is allowed to grow, showing more humanity and emotion than ever before. A unique feature on the Blu-ray allows you to stream episodes from season 8 through an internet-connected Blu-ray the day after episodes air. Other extras include the mini-movie Threat Level Midnight, three webisodes and episode commentary.
Scarface Blu-ray – Brian DePalma‘s 1983 gangland triumph casts Al Pacino as a determined Cuban refugee who claws his way to the top of the Miami crime scene. The Blu-ray/digital copy combo, encased in a thin metal box, comes with picture-in-picture commentary, a new 39-minute retrospective documentary and a swath of extras from the previous DVD release, including the 1932 film of the same name that inspired the movie and several fun featurettes.
Straw Dogs Blu-ray – Director Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 psychological horror film features a meek American (Dustin Hoffman) and his British wife (Susan George) who are pushed around by the working class psychopaths in the isolated town in which they try to settle. The protagonists are pushed to their breaking point and beyond in the disturbing yet entrancing film. Disappointingly, the Blu-ray is a bare-bones affair.
Hanna – Saoirse Ronan, the teenager who nabbed an Oscar nomination for Atonement (2007), comes of age as a cold-blooded assassin raised by her father (Eric Bana) to be the ultimate killing machine. Plunged into international intrigue, she’s forced to survive on her wits and training while coming to terms with her humanity and lost youth. A thinking person’s action flick in the spirit of the Bourne films – with Atonement director Joe Wright at the helm – Hanna brings the intensity. Deleted scenes, Wright’s commentary and several insightful featurettes round out the super Blu-ray/digital copy combo.
Phil’s novel, Stormin’ Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.