Last week, Joss Whedon returned to our screens with the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Cabin in the Woods, with which Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) made his directorial debut to brilliant critical acclaim, with a script he co-wrote with Whedon.

This week, Whedon returns once more to our home entertainment systems with the release of The Avengers, the year’s biggest film to date, and the third-highest-grossing film of all time. It’s been one we’ve been looking forward to ever since its release, and now it has arrived for us to bask in its awesomeness once more.

My picks of the week:

Joss Whedon’s The Avengers     &     Jay Oliva’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1.

And Bond 50 – the complete 22-film James Bond collection on Blu-ray.


The Avengers

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DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D

Joss Whedon’s The Avengers has been almost universally praised by critics since its release earlier this year, and noted as being the superhero blockbuster that has really raised the bar in a big way.

Whedon has a unique talent at bringing equal doses of action/awesomeness and comedy, and The Avengers is certainly a film that crosses genres to bring us plenty of laughs, strong characters, and all-round general brilliance alongside the blockbuster spectacles.

“When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the Director of an international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., encounters an unexpected enemy that threatens global safety and security, he finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins for Earth’s mightiest heroes. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and two of the world’s greatest assassins, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), must assemble to defeat Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the darkest villain the Earth has ever known.”


Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1

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DVD and Blu-ray

Coming straight to DVD and Blu-ray in the US, Jay Oliva’s anticipated Batman: The Dark Knight Returns kicks off with its first instalment today.

Oliva (Young Justice, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights) is directing from a script by Bob Goodman (Justice League, Superman), adapting the original acclaimed comic by Frank Miller, with Peter Weller (RoboCop), Ariel Winter (Modern Family), David Selby (Dark Shadows), and Wade Williams (Prison Break) lending their voices for the feature.

“Another night falls on Gotham City and with the darkness out crawls the crime and villainy from the shadows. The days of The Batman and other noble super heroes are but faded memories; violence and despair are now the harbingers of our time. But one event will set a change into motion, when Harvey “Two Face” Dent shuns a former rehabilitated life for a descent into corruption; an aged and weathered Bruce Wayne dons the mask and cape once more. With a stellar voice cast headed by Peter Weller, Ariel Winter and David Selby, this gritty DC Comics legend comes to life with unforgettable battles, thrilling chases and the promise of a better tomorrow for humanity, because there is nowhere for criminals to hide when the returns.”


Damsels in Distress

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DVD and Blu-ray

Acclaimed writer-director Whit Stillman (Metropolitan) returned to the big screen this year with Damsels in Distress, a dramatic comedy much loved by critics on both sides of the Atlantic.

Led by a cast featuring Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, and Analeigh Tipton, the film promises to be a fan favourite, one not to be missed, and you really can’t go wrong when it comes to the ever-brilliant Greta Gerwig.

“Damsels In Distress follows a trio of beautiful girls who set out to revolutionize life at a grungy East Coast College – the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men – including slick Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker) and the mad frat boys Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen)-who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.”


Resident Evil: Damnation

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DVD and Blu-ray (both inc. UltraViolet)

Coming straight to DVD and Blu-ray in the UK and US, Resident Evil: Damnation sees the return of Makoto Kamiya (Resident Evil: Degeneration) behind the camera for the animated horror feature film.

The sequel is set to be given a 3D theatrical release in Japan next month, but here in the West, the straight to home entertainment release means we won’t be getting the third dimension, but will at least be seeing it first.

“United States special agent Leon S. Kennedy sneaks into a small Eastern Europe country to verify rumors that Bio Organic Weapons (B.O.W.s) are being used in war. Right after his infiltration, the US government orders him to leave immediately. Determined to uncover the truth, Leon ignores the order and enters the battlefield to end the chain of tragedies caused by the B.O.W.s.”


The Tall Man

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DVD and Blu-ray

Written and directed by Pascal Laugier (Martyrs), The Tall Man was given a limited release in the US last month, and is heading to DVD and Blu-ray today, where it will most likely find the majority of its audience.

Jessica Biel takes the lead as a big name at the head of the mystery crime drama, with acclaimed young actress Jodelle Ferland (Tideland), Stephen McHattie (XIII: The Series), and William B. Davis (The X Files) supporting.

“In an isolated, slowly dying mining town, children are vanishing without a trace–abducted, the townsfolk whisper, by a mysterious entity known locally as “The Tall Man.” Town nurse Julia Denning (Jessica Biel; “Total Recall,” “Strangers”) seems skeptical… until her young David disappears in the middle of night. Frantic to rescue the boy, Julia lives every parent’s darkest nightmare in this twisting, shock-around-each-corner thriller from acclaimed director Pascal Laugier (“Martyrs”) called THE TALL MAN.”


Strippers vs. Werewolves

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DVD and Blu-ray

Jonathan Glendening’s comedy-horror, Strippers vs. Werewolves, was given a limited release in the UK back in the spring, followed swiftly by a release on DVD and Blu-ray.

Fast-forward a few months and the film is heading straight to the home entertainment market in the US, and with a title like it has, it’s sure to find a home as something of a cult classic – you can read our review here from the theatrical release.

“Martin Kemp is werewolf Mickey, accidentally killed in a strip joint by one of the dancers. Despite the club owner’s efforts to hide the body, news of the death reaches evil pack leader Jack Ferris, played by former EastEnder Billy Murray. The girls have until the next full moon before the baying wolf pack return to seek a bloody revenge.”


Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender

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DVD and Blu-ray

It’s no secret that Queen have been one of the most iconic bands of all time, and their lead singer, Freddie Mercury, endures as an icon today, more than twenty years after his death.

This new documentary film takes a look at the lead singer and the projects he worked on beyond the band.

“Freddie Mercury was one of the most charismatic, complex and fascinating characters in British rock music. The story of Queen is a well known one but this new film focuses on Freddie Mercury and the solo projects he worked on outside of Queen. Using extensive archive footage of interviews with Freddie Mercury, concerts, video shoots and personal material, much of it previously unseen, along with new interviews with friends and colleagues, a portrait emerges of a man who was very different to his flamboyant onstage public persona. A generous, caring, thoughtful man with a self-deprecating sense of humour and a genuine passion for music. Freddie Mercury touched the lives of millions through his career both with Queen and as a solo performer and this new programme will delight and inform his legions of fans.”


Blu-ray Re-Releases

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The biggest of this week’s selection of films getting the HD treatment is, of course, the Bond boxset, Bond 50. The twenty-two film collection features all of the feature films leading up to (but, naturally, not including) this year’s Skyfall, all on Blu-ray, most of which for the first time ever. If you’re a fan of the franchise, this is certainly a collection you’ll want to pick up at your soonest possible convenience, giving you the best possible quality to date of the historic franchise, and plenty of brand new bonus content to boot.

Also being released on Blu-ray are Ivan Reitman’s Oscar-nominated Dave, starring Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, and Frank Langella; Rob Reiner’s Oscar-nominated The American President, written by Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, and Michael Sheen; Frank Marshall’s classic Arachnophobia, starring Jeff Daniels, Julian Sands, John Goodman, and Harley Jane Kozak; and William Lustig’s 1980 horror, Maniac, starring Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, and Kelly Piper.