“GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE,” starring Nicholas Cage and Idris Elba. The stunt motorcyclist who occasionally transforms into a guy with a flaming skull for a head is back, enjoying something of an overhaul courtesy of director Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (“Crank”). As comic book movies go, it’s no “Avengers,” but it’s no “Daredevil” either, so take from that what you will. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:35

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99

“SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Downey once again successfully applies his impenetrable cad routine to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved and ever-popular super sleuth, this time around teaming with trusted companion Dr. Watson to take down his arch nemesis, the insidious Professor Moriarty. With director Guy Ritchie once again behind the camera, “Holmes” continues to be a cracking franchise, easily treading the fine line between popcorn movie and cerebral fiction. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:09

Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99

“BREAKING BAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON,” starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Everybody’s favorite chemistry teacher turned hardened criminal is back for another twisty and twisted season of expertly plotted, emotionally devastating and riotously entertaining shenanigans. The stakes are raised impossibly high for this go-round, as Walt (Emmy winner Cranston) must deal with the dangerous actions of his increasingly hostile partner-in-crime (fellow Emmy winner Paul) while attempting to patch things up with his estranged wife (Anna Gunn, “Deadwood”) and appease the kingpin (Giancarlo Esposito, “Do the Right Thing”). Not rated; contains language, violence and drug content. Running time: 10:16

Suggested retail price: $55.99; Blu-ray $65.99

“ENTOURAGE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH AND FINAL SEASON,” starring Kevin Connolly and Adrian Grenier. Everybody’s favorite group of over-privileged, foul-mouthed hangers-on is good for one more round of entertaining Hollywood tomfoolery, with the boys each at crossroads in their respective careers and friendship. As with any final episode of a popular program, fan reactions were mixed on the denouement, but all in all, it’s a fitting wrap-up to a solid run. Not rated; contains language, sexual content, nudity and crude humor. Running time: 4:40

Suggested retail price: $39.98; Blu-ray $49.99

“TOO BIG TO FAIL,” starring William Hurt and Paul Giamatti. Breathless dramatization of the financial crisis of 2008 is HBO at its best, with Hurt delivering Emmy-caliber work as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, a man for whom a stressful workday takes on a whole new meaning. Special features include a making-of documentary and interviews with cast and financial experts. Not rated; contains language. Running time: 1:38

Suggested retail price: $19.97; Blu-ray $24.99


“THE GOLD RUSH,” starring Charlie Chaplin and Georgia Hale. One of Chaplin’s most beloved classics, this 1925 comedy manages to seamlessly meld slapstick misadventures with a relatively realistic representation of the bleak life of a gold prospector, a livelihood the woefully unprepared “Little Tramp” aspires to, with hilariously sad results. Timeless and often laugh-out-loud funny, with several comic setpieces that continue to impress even by today’s standards. Not rated; nothing objectionable. Running time: 1:35

Suggested retail price: $39.95

“HAROLD AND MAUDE,” starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort. Enduring 1971 cult classic from the great Hal Ashby (“The Last Detail”) is one of the great love stories of our time, the fact that it occurs between a mopey teenager (Cort, “Brewster McCloud”) and a spry, motorcycle-riding senior citizen (the wonderful Gordon of “Where’s Poppa?”) notwithstanding. You don’t run into many life-affirming black comedies, then or now, but “Harold and Maude” breaks the mold. Rated PG. Running time: 1:31

Suggested retail price: $39.95


“IN DARKNESS,” starring Robert Wieckiewicz and Benno Furmann. From perhaps the bleakest environment and time period imaginable comes a picture of warmth and humanity, and that’s a testament to the amazing talent of director Agnieszka Holland (“The Wire”), who essentially places viewers in a sewer during the Holocaust and succeeds in making them want to remain there to find out what happens next.

Polish sewer manager Socha (Wieckiewicz) goes about his daily routine as best he can without becoming involved in the violent conflict between Nazis and townspeople in the nearby Lvov ghetto, an attitude he is forced to abandon when he discovers a group of Jews hiding out in the sewer tunnels. Eventually determined to protect them against all costs, Socha’s daily struggles run the gamut from hopeful to tense to brutal and back again. Rated R for violence, disturbing images, sexuality, nudity and language. Running time: 2:25

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99

“THIN ICE,” starring Greg Kinnear and Billy Crudup. Sitting comfortably between “Fargo” and “A Simple Plan” is this twisted dark comedy from writer-director Jill Sprecher. Debt-ridden and unscrupulous (at the risk of being redundant) insurance agent Kinnear is dropped in blustery Wisconsin, where he learns that one of his elderly clients (Alan Arkin) is in possession of a violin reportedly worth more than a million dollars. Seizing on this as an easy solution to both his financial and marital problems, Kinnear ill-advisedly teams up with ex-con turned security system installer Randy (Crudup) to get his hands on the violin. Obviously, all does not go accordingly to plan, or we’d have no movie. Rated R for language and brief violence and sexual content. Running time: 1:33

Suggested retail price: $22.98; Blu-ray $29.98

– Courtesy of Videoport

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