G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (2013, Paramount, PG-13, $30) -- The latest chapter in the "G.I. Joe" series isn't a great movie but it's an energetic and unpretentious one -- and a big improvement over the 2009 original. The action unfolds after the dastardly Zartan, now inhabiting the body of the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce), frames the Joes (Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Adrianne Palicki) for a crime they didn't commit. Even though there's a lot is going on, including appearances by ninjas and a retired Joe (Bruce Willis), director Jon M. Chu weaves the plot strands together smartly and manages to bring out the best in Johnson, who delivers his most relaxed performance to date. "Retaliation" is rock-solid entertainment. Extras: featurettes, deleted scenes and commentaries.
FILLY BROWN (2013, Indomina, R, $20) -- Newcomer Gina Rodriguez delivers a powerhouse turn as a young rapper who's struggling to both break into the music business and to come to terms with her incarcerated junkie-mom (the late Jenni Rivera in her first and last movie role). As Rodriguez plays her, Filly is a real scrapper who, following her mother's arrest, cares for her father (Lou Diamond Phillips) and younger sister. Occasionally the film feels as overheated as a '40s melodrama but this celebration of family has plenty of fighting spirit. It's a winner. Extras: deleted scenes and commentaries.
BLACK ROCK (2013, Lionsgate, R, $20) -- Mumblecore mainstay Katie Aselton directs her first horror movie and manages to get just about everything right. Boasting a campers (Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell, Aselton) versus deranged hunters premise, the film isn't all that much of a departure from hundreds of other disposable scarefests. The difference is that Aselton endows her three leads with a good deal of humanity so that when the bad stuff starts going down, you care what happens to them. Aselton also has the good sense to keep "Black Rock" lean, mean and B-movie intense. Extras: featurettes and commentaries by Aselton and Bell.
BANSHEE: SEASON ONE (2013, HBO, unrated, $40) -- After getting out of prison, our hero (Anthony Starr) steals a car, pleasures a waitress, gets shot at and causes the crash of a double-decker bus. And that's just the first five minutes of this fast-paced Cinemax series. Starr winds up hiding out in the tiny, Amish-run town of Banshee, Pa., where he assumes the identity of a deceased sheriff. He also re-connects with his former partner in crime (Ivana Milicevic) and attempts to stay one step ahead of a pair of gangsters he once betrayed. Masterminded by, among others, "True Blood's" Alan Ball, "Banshee" is a 10-episode blast of no-holds- barred action. Buckle up. Extras: deleted scenes, featurettes and commentaries.
PIETA (2012, Drafthouse, unrated, $28) -- Unconditional love, revenge and redemption. Those are the themes at the heart of Korean master Kim Ki-Duk's riveting and warped thriller. Lee Jung-Jin stars as Kang-do, a loan shark's enforcer whose violent, empty life is upended by the appearance of a woman (Cho Min-Soo) claiming to be his long-lost mother. At first, Kang-do rejects her but slowly he takes comfort in her presence and begins to change his life for the better. "Pieta" serves up one devious twist after another but what makes the film so wrenching is the extremes to which the characters go to blot out the loneliness. Shocking and strangely moving, "Pieta" grips you like a vise. Extras: featurettes and interviews.
CLOUDBURST (2012, Wolfe, unrated, $25) -- When a lesbian couple of 30 years (Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker) are nearly separated by a meddling granddaughter, they decide to drive to Canada to get married. What "Cloudburst" lacks in plot sophistication, it makes up for with lively performances, elegant scenery and witty one-liners. The humor is occasionally too outlandish and a subplot involving a hitchhiker (Ryan Doucette) goes nowhere fast but it's fun to watch Dukakis cuss like a truck driver and see Fricker illuminate a patient soul with a weakness for banana splits. Extras: featurettes.
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH (2012, Image, $28) - - Remember "Silent House," the horror thriller in which Elizabeth Olsen spent 90 minutes running around a creepy cabin? Well, here's another version of that same tale, with an antiques dealer (Aaron Poole) returning to the spooky house once occupied by his recently deceased mother (Vanessa Redgrave, who is only heard, never seen). Writer/director Rodrigo Gudino maintains the suspense for awhile as Poole tries to figure out what led his deeply religious mom to take her own life. But an atmosphere of dread will only get you so far. "Last Will" is all smoke and mirrors. Extras: featurettes and commentary by Gudino.
STARBUCK (2011, E1, R, $25) -- Already remade as November's "The Delivery Man" starring Vince Vaughn, this French-Canadian farce focuses on a perpetual screw-up (Patrick Huard) who discovers that, thanks to his youthful habit of selling his sperm, he's fathered 533 children, 142 of whom are taking legal action to uncover his true identity. The movie gets needlessly convoluted as it goes along but Huard remains immensely likeable throughout, especially when he decides to reach out to his now-20-something kids, one by one. The occasional dip into sentimentality aside, "Starbuck" delivers. Extras: deleted scenes, music video, featurettes and bloopers.
THE DEMENTED (2013, Anchor Bay, R, $30) -- This straight-to-DVD horror thriller isn't bad, it's just generic. A handful of college kids (Sarah Butler, Kayla Ewell, Michael Welch) are on a weekend getaway when the Gulf Coast is attacked by a biological weapon that turns the residents of Baton Rouge, La., into flesh-chomping zombies. One by one the students are picked off but you won't really care who falls prey to the rage-crazed hordes since all the characters are so undeveloped and interchangeable. Extras: none.
THE MOLLY MAGUIRES (1970, Warner Archive, PG, $25) -- A box- office flop in its day, Martin Ritt's moody look at a secret society of 19th century Pennsylvania coal miners (Sean Connery, Anthony Zerbe) who battle their exploitation by any means necessary is one of the most intelligent dramas of the early '70s. Richard Harris stars as a Pinkerton detective who goes undercover to expose the Mollies only to discover he has more in common with the hardscrabble workers than with the corrupt lawmen who hired him. The film captures the look of northeastern Pennsylvania so accurately, you'll feel as if you need to brush off the coal dust when you're done watching. Extras: none.
THE FOG: COLLECTOR'S EDITION (1980, Shout Factory, R, $30) -- John Carpenter's most underrated flick is set in Antonio Bay, Calif., a sleepy hamlet where 100 years earlier the townsfolk pulled a fast one on members of a leper colony. Employing glowing banks of fog, the ghostly victims of that earlier massacre return to seek revenge. Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Adrienne Barbeau and Hal Holbrook star in the film, which boasts an eerie opening sequence that's guaranteed to get under your skin. Extras: commentary by Carpenter as well as outtakes and featurettes.
NIAGARA: 60TH ANNIVERSARY (1953, Fox, unrated, $25) -- It's the first time on Blu-ray for Henry Hathaway's crime thriller that makes spectacular use of both its Niagara Falls locations and Marilyn Monroe's feminine wiles. Monroe plays a slinky former waitress whose marriage to a much older husband (Joseph Cotten) has hit the skids. As she tries to figure out a way to eliminate Cotten and run off with her lover, a pair of honeymooners (Jean Peters, Casey Adams) become ensnared in the whole sordid mess. Expertly paced and gorgeously shot, "Niagara" is a juicy little noir that still has plenty of kick. Extras: featurette.
BLACK SABBATH (1963, Kino, unrated, $25) -- Italian horror master Mario Bava oversaw this new-to-Blu-ray anthology film which serves up a trio of tales about ghosts, vampires and phone calls from beyond. Boris Karloff stars in one of the installments but it's the last chapter which is the most chilling. Jacqueline Pierreux plays a nurse who steals a dead woman's ring only to discover that the shiny bauble comes with a doozy of a curse. Extras: none.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - SEASON FOUR (1990, Paramount, unrated, $130) -- Blu-ray brings out the best in a season that begins with Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) escaping the Borg and ends up with a cliffhanger involving Worf (Michael Dorn) being forced to choose between his duty as a Starfleet officer and his heritage as a Klingon warrior. There's 26 episodes in the six-disc set. Extras: featurettes and commentaries.
-- Amy Longsdorf
Tuesday -- "A Boy and His Dog," "Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal," "Mud," "Oblivion," "The Place Beyond the Pines," "West of Memphis."
Aug. 13 -- "The Big Wedding," "The Company You Keep," "Emperor."
Aug. 20 -- "Scary Movie V."
Aug. 27 -- "Pain & Gain."
Sept. 3 -- "Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie," "Stories We Tell."
Oct. 1 -- "Columbo: Season 1-4," "Magnum P.I.: The Complete Series."
Oct. 8 -- "The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 4," "Monster High: 13 Wishes."
-- Jaclyn Antonacci
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
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