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Headsup: From the Arctic to the Jungle to the Stars (Plus Cupcakes)

There’s a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, and the companies are want your attention and mostly…your coin. But, you know, it’s your coin and you have to take care where you spend it. With these posts we try to take you through recent releases so you can make up your mind. If you find the info here to be of use, do us a favor and purchase stuff from Amazon through us. Especially if you were going to buy the stuff anyway. That gives us kickbacks, which help pay for things. Like the server. And coffee. And therapy. We thank you.

Lincoln Blu-Ray
Wreck-It Ralph Ultimate Collectors Edition 3D Blu-Ray

[ad#longpost]While not a perfect film (it Shawshanks terribly), Lincoln showed that Spielberg is sometimes smart enough to assemble a kickass cast and then let them work. Apart from Daniel Day-Lewis’ flawless assumption of the Lincoln persona, you’ve got Sally Field matching him note for note and Tommy Lee Jones giving one of my favorite performances of his in some time. So let’s get this out of the way first: you should definitely see it. What’s disheartening is that for a four-disc set (2 BD/DVD/Digital Copy), this DreamWorks release doesn’t have much in the way of the bonus bits: a location featurette, character featurette, design and costume featurette, a making-of in two parts…a bit over an hour. And the film deserves a lot more. Hopefully having snagged Oscarage they’ll put out a more mondo-esque version in time. For now, though, Day-Lewis or Field fans will want to own…everyone else should at least rent. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So far it seems that the Disney/Pixar marriage has done more for the Disney side of the house than anything else. After all, their quality has jumped considerably–starting off with Bolt and continuing with Wreck-It Ralph. Do you need to know video game lore inside and out to enjoy it? No…take a friend or look up easter eggs online afterwards. And does it touch the heart like classic Pixar? No…but a lot of excellent Disney films didn’t either: it’s just fun and eminently worthwhile. Again, we have a four disc set that is sorely lacking in the extras department–among the 3D BD/BD/DVD/Digital Copy setup, you have the Paperman animated short, world-building featurette, alternate & deleted scenes, and the Disney intermission feature which has Chris Hardwick disturbing your shot at going tinkle. Since a sequel is in the works/inevitable, no doubt an UberMondo edition will follow. Fans of the film or video game fiends will be fine to own…but everyone else should give it at least a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Borgias Second Season Blu-Ray
Ghost Hunters Season 8, Part 1 DVD
Veep: The Complete First Season Blu-Ray

There’s two things you can say for the second season of The Borgias…I mean besides the fact that you’ve got Jeremy Irons leading the charge (and Irons makes everything better). One: for some reason I never thought I would see a situation in which Jeremy Irons contended with a threesome. Granted, I never gave this a lot of thought–much less that he’d be in the role of Pope while doing so. Two: their wigs in this season were pretty heinous. But apart from that, it’s exactly what you want from such a show: sex, family intrigue, and a disregard for history (Din grinds her teeth at this point). You get a three disc Blu-Ray set from Paramount–and hi-def works for this because there’s a lot you want to be looking at from a costume and production design perspective. But because the extras are all via BD-Live…and as such, they don’t count. Irons fans or huge fans of the show should own. Everyone else will be fine with a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The first part of the eighth season of Ghost Hunters hits DVD in a four-disc set from Image. And it’s approaching two hundred episodes, for crying out loud. And our intrepid hunters check out everything from an amusement park to a jail to the USS Yorktown in search of those pesky ghosts. And never actually catch one. Shame. Co-host Grant Wilson decided to leave during these episodes, so you get his farewell episode as well as some bonus footage. I would say rent it if you’re into this sort of thing–but if you must buy, then the price point is around $1 an episode, so it’s not bad. But bear in mind also that they do repeat these things often on SyFy. So. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I initially was unaware that Armando Ianucci (familiar to Brit comedy fans) had essentially come over and–instead of making a direct port of his series from across the pond, The Thick of It–brought his sensibilities (and writers) to make a sort-of American remake in Veep. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays the Vice-President of the U.S. and the series covers the doings inside her office. And the eight episodes which are here across three discs is a great way of catching up before the second season hits shortly. (April 14th to be exact.) Fans who have been wanting to see Louis-Dreyfus get up to something will be pleased–and I’m pleased to see familiar faces like UCB vet Matt Walsh on board. Commentaries galore on this set: twelve commentaries, plus deleted scenes, making-of and some outtakes. At least a rental to start off with but serious fans may want to consider owning. HBO sets are always fairly decent. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Antifragile Audiobook
Between Man and Beast Audiobook
Dark Legacy of Shannara: Bloodfire Quest Audiobook

Now I remember why I couldn’t finish listening the audiobook of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan…a fascinating look at how you simply can’t predict what’s coming next and how being unprepared for the unable-to-be-prepared for will bite you in the ass. Taleb is just…such an ass. The book was loaded with how awesome he was to the point where I just couldn’t go on. Here too with Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, it’s not like he doesn’t have a point: just because you can’t predict what’s coming doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in place something that can improve and get stronger. Or put another way, if you protect yourself from all germs–your immune system isn’t worth a damn. But again, he really, really likes himself. And if you like him too, then you might do better than I did. The good news is that this Random House Audio release, unabridged and read by Joe Ochman, tries to sound less pretentious than the book actually is. So the audiobook learned well from the edicts in the book, apparently. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

One of the great things about watching the recent David Attenborough retrospective docu, 60 Years in the Wild, is that you get a reminder of how much we haven’t known until recently. Even beyond evolution: tectonic plates, the existence of deep ocean extremophiles…there’s a lot of stuff we know now that we just take for granted. Surely we Always knew this. Like…gorillas. It took Paul du Chaillu going into the “terra incognita” of Africa to confirm that they existed (at least for the “outside world”–the population that lived in the area needed no convincing). And of course, since our hero didn’t have a cameraphone…it was easy to wonder if the skeletons and such he brought back were all real. Monte Reel’s Between Man and Beast tells his adventurous story and the effect his discoveries had on the world. This is a Books on Tape exclusive CD release–nine discs that clock in at over ten and a half hours. Bob Walter gives a decent and steady reading of the book–although I find myself–and this is probably just me–tuning out, so I have to keep reminding myself to listen. It’s a personal thing about the sort of voices that we prefer to listen to and the effect they have on us. Definitely worth checking out for those interested in the days when anybody could just decide to go on an adventure and end up famous for their discoveries. (Buy the audio from Books on Tape; Buy the book from Amazon.)

The Shannara fantasy series continues with Terry Brooks and the second book in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy: Bloodfire Quest. Suffice it to say that things could be better: the good guys are in pieces, the place where the bad guys have been kept (The Forbidding) is about to fall apart and the key to restoring the security of The Four Lands lies with a Druid who has to determine whether or not she can make the ultimate sacrifice necessary. Got it? Well, that’s just a slice of it. There’s a helluva lot going on. The release here from Random House is thirteen hours across ten CDs and is read by Rosalyn Landor. Her English accent I find very appealing…it’s sort of like they said “Get me someone who can sound somewhat Galadrielish.” And it works. Fans of the series will want to give it a listen–the uninitiated should back up in the series before plunging. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Baltimore Ravens: Super Bowl XLVII Champions Blu-Ray
Real Vikings Collection DVD
To the Arctic Blu-Ray

For those Baltimore Ravens fans looking to have what is, in essence, a hi-def Blu-Ray-based season program–Vivendi has the Super Bowl XLVII Champions release out. It takes you through the lead-up to the season and through it, winding up where the title says–is there such a thing as sports spoilers? Anyway, that procession of info might be enough, but the disc also has interviews, the post-Super Bowl game ceremonies, featurettes on the coaches and more. Only the truly hardcore will want to own–it’s a worthy enough release but most fans of the team will be fine with a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Since the Vikings series seems to be doing well enough, History has done what every channel does: take a successful series, put “Real” on the front of it and release something under that name. Thus, the Real Vikings Collection mines the archives of the History Channel and gives you three Viking-based docus. Trouble is, these aren’t great specials on their own–even with three of them lumped together like this. These would probably be best served as bonus features on the inevitable series release rather than here as a standalone. Regardless, the Viking completist might consider a rental, presuming the shows aren’t airing at some point in the near future. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

To The Arctic is an IMAX film released here by Warner Brothers to Blu-Ray with both 2D and 3D versions. It pairs polar bears with Meryl Streep (well, the voice of Meryl Streep) and aims to do what most IMAX nature films do: provide some excellent visuals first and foremost, then secondary to that–provide info. Also like most IMAX nature films it’s short–just around forty minutes. It looks pretty but nature programs from BBC and elsewhere have done the same and better, with or without 3D. Rent it at the most. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Andreas Cellarius
Classic Snacks Made From Scratch
Startup Playbook

The term “celestial cartography” just sounds awesome. And this is the guy with the English degree (barely any understanding of science) talking. But what I can get behind is the art books of Taschen. And here they’ve really come up with something ridiculously awesome: Andreas Cellarius: Harmonia Macrocosmica. It’s an atlas of the skies, reprinting what 17th Century Cellarius had published. Now if that had been it–just a bunch of pretty pictures, that would be still pretty cool. But instead, Robert van Gent gives you one of my favorite things: context. A few centuries later, it’s hard to get your head around where people’s heads used to be–you need a guide. And van Gent does that excellently–taking what could have been just an art book and elevating it. At almost a foot tall, it’s massive and gorgeous, like everything Taschen does. And currently discounted so it’s a great coffee table/art book gift for that star lover on your list. Recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Considering I have diet cheat days now…I anticipate there might be a day when I can’t eat another cream cheese-iced cinnamon roll or red velvet cupcake. And then that’s when we start messing with the alchemy of recreating–and then screwing around with–classic snacks. Never fear, though: Casey Barber reverse engineers the goodies so you don’t have to in Classic Snacks Made From Scratch. Everything from Twinkies to Goldfish crackers (!) and ice cream sandwiches to Fritos (!), you have enough info here to be dangerous. And even sucks-at-cooking-and-baking-me can get behind this: the ingredients and instructions are such that even I can understand them. And that’s saying something. Seventy recipes in all. This Ulysses Press release is perfect for somebody like me who wants to screw around with evil desserts. Recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Lots of people want to start their own companies. Few of them know how the hell to go about it. Enter The Startup Playbook by David Kidder, out from Chronicle. What you’ve got here is a series of chats with forty successful entrepreneurs to glean what makes them tick. Includes the people who brought you TED, AOL, Flickr, LinkedIn, Paypal, Priceline & others. And after you get the interviews with each of them, you get snippets from the masterminds on various topics…sort of like a quick reference sheet but with your own personal business Yodas giving input. There’s a lot of info jammed into the three hundred or so pages–and if you have any interest in creating your own company, it’s a must-own. Highly recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath Audiobook
 Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave by Adam Alter
Frozen Solid by James M. Tabor Audiobook

Having enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, I thought it was fine to explore the concept of “stickiness” further in Made to Stick by the Brothers Heath. And along those same lines, their latest is Decisive, which in my mind picks up the “how to make better decisions” theme explored by others such as Dan Ariely and Gladwell again. The Crown Business release (also available unabridged via Random House Audio) dissects how we make decisions, why it sucks and what we can do about it. It’s like all the other things we’re not built to do well–you know, like stand upright and not get freaked out perpetually. But what Los Heath bring to the table are some very helpful ways of looking at the science and art of making decisions. Very excellent for people who feel like they could use some help in that department…which is probably, you know, everybody. The audiobook, clocking in at eight discs and nine hours, is capably read by Kaleo Griffith, who manages to keep an up-tone enough to keep the already fairly engaging text alive while reading, so it’s hard to zone out while working or driving. Recommended in either medium. (Buy the book from Amazon. Buy the Audiobook from Amazon.)

While we’re in the neighborhood of how screwy the mind can be, we engage with Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter. The subtitle lays out the agenda: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave. And yes, things affect us more than we might expect–far beyond the whole “why certain restaurants use red on their interiors” thing that I think anybody knows. But your name. Colors. Other people. I don’t want to speak for everybody here, but I had barely scratched the surface–and Alter drills through and starts throwing out the info. This is a six hour digital-only audiobook read capably by Tristan Morris. I find non-fiction stuff easier to listen to than to read, personally…and if I need to go back over stuff, then I’ll grab a dead-tree or Kindle copy and start underlining. If you want to gain even more insight into how wacky your brain works, then Alter’s book is quite recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Is there any book or movie–outside of documentaries, mind you–where a protagonist goes to the Antarctic and…you know, just has a good solid time, does their work and leaves? None springs to mind. Well, Frozen Solid has James Tabor’s heroine, Hallie Leland, winding up at the South Pole and at the center of a plot by unknown forces to seriously screw up the world. Thrillers like this are perfect fodder for those who like to eat genre entries like potato chips–and you know who you are. In this case, we’re looking at the Books on Tape exclusive audiobook release, unabridged and read capably by Paul Michael. At eight discs and over nine hours, it makes for a good listen. Recommended for fans of the genre. (Click here to buy it from Books on Tape.)

American Comic Book Chronicles: 1960s - 1960-1964
Art of the Croods

If you’ve been reading these things for any length of time, then you know there’s no limit to the amount of praise I heap on TwoMorrows for creating books about comics back when comics used to be a lot more interesting than they are now. And because they don’t shy away from tackling big subjects, they’re now taking on the whole of the history of American comics in American Comic Book Chronicles. It’s a series of hardbacks that’s going to follow the medium on this side of the pond from the 1940s forward–and it begins here with the first part of the 60s. And that’s the time period that brought you everything from Justice League to Creepy to Mad and beyond. Nobody gets left out and it really is a comprehensive look at the progression of comics through time. And because it’s TwoMorrows, you get scads of cover and interior art and more. Comic fanatics should not only snag this but also set aside coins because they’re going to want the whole series. Recommended. (Click here to order it from TwoMorrows.)

The reason I didn’t go catch The Croods in cinemas is because the character design didn’t really appeal to me–and I was pretty much certain I wouldn’t give the film as a whole a fair shake because of it. What I can say, though, is that Titan Books’ Art of the Croods will delight anyone who dug the film–because there’s nothing quite like a well done Art of book. You know what I mean: it’s everything you would want from a serious mondo DVD edition. It’s got huge amounts of behind the scenes information, sketches, art, covering the world–which in this case means lots of animals and landscapes. And because it’s in a nicely sized hardback edition, you don’t have to worry about the size of your home cinema setup. Fans of the film will definitely want to snag this. It’s quite detailed and is an excellent addition to your animation bookshelf. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Lost Art of Mixing Audiobook by Erica Bauermeister, read by Cassandra Campbell
Parlor Games Audiobook, by Maryka Biaggio, read by Leslie Carroll

Erica Bauermeister’s The Lost Art of Mixing is a sequel to her The School of Essential Ingredients, following Lillian, some of the other characters and some new faces, and the restaurant that provides the backdrop for the interconnected stories that follow. Beyond the life changes that the various characters need and/or want to undergo, there’s Bauermeister’s penchant for describing the hell out of the food involved. So be forewarned about your diet or lack thereof. This Books on Tape exclusive is eight hours long across seven discs, read quite well by Cassandra Campbell. She doesn’t really go nuts with the reading but gives it enough interpretation to keep it fresh. (Click here to buy it from Books on Tape.)

So how do you get to be the most dangerous woman in the world? You run around the world, mostly running from a Pinkerton detective, and along the way finding men and convincing men to hand over their cash. That’s the setup of Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio, read unabridged across eleven discs by Leslie Carroll. Apparently based on the life of an actual con artist, our protagonist tells her story and, being a good con artist, you can’t quite put your finger on just how guilty she is. Because you’re running all over the world, you do have to pay attention, but Carroll’s narration on this Books on Tape release does a good job of holding that attention. (Click here to buy it from Books on Tape.)

Dead Space trade paperback
Dead Space: Salvage
Dead Space: Liberation
Art of Dead Space

From Titan Books, we can get an array of Dead Space related books. First we have the original Dead Space collected series, which serves as a prequel to both the game Dead Space: Extraction (which was a prequel to the original Dead Space game) and the film Dead Space: Downfall (which did not star Bruno Ganz). Got all that? Good. If there’s one thing that this series underscores, it’s the importance of leaving weird extraterrestrial artifacts alone. I don’t care if you’re compelled to build a religion around them. Just back off. Because they could zombify the dead and cause all kinds of problems. The first series kicks off with Antony Johnston (original game scribe) on board as well as the mad art of Ben Templesmith. Next we have Salvage (Johnston returning, joined by artist Christopher Shy) where the Ishimura (the ship from the original game) is found by salvaging Magpies, who get a helluva lot more than they bargained for. That’s right, space zombies. It’s like Storage Wars but infinitely more horrifying. In Liberation, Ian Edginton takes over scribing duties to tell the story of a sergeant whose wife is working at the site of one of the alien artifacts when fanatics attack the location. This is the most recent entry in the comic series, hitting hardback from Titan. And lastly, there’s The Art of Dead Space which is…freaking gorgeous, actually. The centerpiece are the many, many huge, detailed and hugely detailed pictures of armor, vehicles, aliens, the whole nine. Game or not, it’s an awesome look at the making-of the series. Fans of the game will want this…as well as anybody who just wants some inspiring sci-fi art.

Official Digimon Adventure Set: Complete Second Season DVD
Digimon Adventure (Season 1), Vol. 2 DVD

Digimon the animated series hits from Flatiron Film Company in a second season boxed set which contains fifty complete and unedited episodes. This is a follow-up to last year’s release of the first season boxed set. This is the first official release on DVD stateside…which is odd, because they were released before (and are now very, very out of print) but a tangled web of TV rights was no doubt woven. Regardless, they’re here now. The shot is this: like a lot of anime based on toys, some young people discover that they have access to Digital Monsters, who are not only designed to help defend our world from ne’er-do-wells, but they’re designed to make you tack the heretofore unknown “digi-” prefix onto everything in the world. Some notes: these are the dubbed episodes and have no subtitles (which would have been a nice option). And there’s little in the way of bonus bits–a gallery and then a character booklet–but considering the price point as it stands at Amazon now–close to seventy-five cents an episode–it’s hard to get too pissed. The one puzzler is why, with the first season already out, are they releasing the season in volumes? The second volume is here with eighteen of the episodes…but for the same price that you would spent on all three volumes (number three doesn’t hit until next month), you could get all the first season episodes now. Very strange. Regardless, both the boxed sets are recommended for any fan of the show–an easy sell at this price point. (Buy them from Amazon: Season 1; Season 2; Season 1, Vol. 2.)

Speaking From Among the Bones Audiobook by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle
Universe Within Audiobook by Neil Shubin, read by Marc Cashman

Book Five in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series of detective fiction is out as an audiobook from Random House Audio. Speaking From Among the Bones is eight CDs and nine hours in length and concerns the aforementioned Flavia–eleven-year-old amateur chemist and sleuth. In this adventure, a local saint’s tomb is to be opened and found inside is…somebody who shouldn’t be dead, much less in there. And Flavia’s on the case. Apart from being an original and fun take on the genre, it’s narrated to perfection by Jayne Entwistle. This is the sort of narration where you don’t have to work to pay attention–you’re riveted. If you haven’t tried out the series, it starts with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and is definitely worth checking out for anyone who wants something different from a detective novel. Recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So we are stardust and we are golden and all that, yes? Well, that’s part of the angle for The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People by Neil Shubin. Or put another way, we’re connected to all of reality because we’re, in essence, the end result of the evolution of the universe. It formed and out of it came us. And Shubin takes you through the various sciences and angles to show you the scientific reasons for why you are, in a lot of ways, the way you are. The good news is he does this in an eminently approachable way–and sure, since we’re talking about the Books on Tape Exclusive edition here, your mind might drift off since it’s being bombarded with science–but reader Marc Cashman does an excellent job of trying to keep you rooted in what’s going on so you can process it. I was able to grok a great deal of it–and I have a degree in English. So that should tell you something. If you appreciate the writings of others like Kaku and Dawkins, this will be right up your alley. (Click here to buy it from Books on Tape.)

Heat: Adventures in the Worlds Fiery Places by Bill Streever
Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by by Maria Konnikova
World Almanac 2013

Once you’ve gone to the extreme cold parts of the world to write a book about it, it only makes sense–in the interest of equal time–to go to the opposite end of the spectrum. Thus Bill Streever’s followup is Heat: Adventures in the World’s Fiery Places, where he goes everywhere from Death Valley to experience serious heat to and thirst to the Big Bang–all in search of extreme locales involving heat. He’ll also explore matches, visit a bog person, and poke around volcanos. It’s a bit schizophrenic in its approach–he seems to flip all over the place subject-wise–but you’ll never get bored. Readers of extreme travelogues should definitely give it a look. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

With pop culture going Sherlock crazy, you might want to get access to some of Holmes’ seemingly superhuman abilities. Whether it’s nifty text overlays like the BBC version or slow motion forward thinking like in the Downey version–you want to tap that brain power. Maria Konnikova thinks you can. Thus, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes puts forward the concept of the “brain attic” and of being increasingly more mindful of the world in order to better know what’s going on–and to make those leaps that Holmes did. And she puts forward a good case for how we can all get better in these regards. This Viking Adult release is the perfect read for the Holmes fanatic. And when you’re writing about the brain and Steven Pinker is your first quote on the back? Nice. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Okay, kids…get ready for this one. Before the Internet (or B.I. as you term it), we had to look up things in books. None of this “Oh, let me just whip out my smartphone and access The Entirety of World Knowledge” stuff. And one of the densest book of facts was…well, The World Almanac. Whether you needed to know when the Sun was going to enter Virgo (September 16th in 2013), the highest point in Idaho (Borah Peak), or the population of Angola (over 18 million), you would hit up the Almanac. And here’s the thing–whereas the Internet is updated all the time, the Almanac would come out every year! And here’s the other thing: it still freaking does! The 2013 edition is out and if you need facts and still appreciate grabbing it from a dead tree version, then this is for you. Seriously, when Skynet hits and takes over the Internet, you’ll want to have saved a copy for yourself so you can help rebuild civilization. Handy. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Cyberstalker DVD
Day of the Falcon Blu-Ray
Frankenstein Theory DVD

In Cyberstalker, out on DVD from Lionsgate, we have a young lady (played by Mischa Barton) whose parents were killed by a stalker of hers (not to imply that she had several (maybe that’s the sequel) but typing “her stalker” made it sound like every young lady has one)…and was never caught. You can almost guess what’s coming before I tell you that after dropping below radar for years, she’s now starting to put herself back out in the world. Trouble is, the stalker’s still out there too. Well, it’s a Lifetime Movie, so you’re not going to get anything extreme in any sense of the word here. No bonus bits mean that it’s a rental at best if you’re into that kind of thing. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Day of the Falcon is apparently supposed to be a huge film, funded by an Arab about the relatively recent history of the region–i.e., the discovery of oil. This is an interesting prospect to say the least, since in the West we don’t really have any common knowledge that bridges, say, The Crusades with being made of money and driving supercars. Granted, I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who had Alabama schools inflicted upon him–so take it with a grain of salt. But regardless, this epic-ish film stars Antonio Banderas (originally from Andalucia in Spain) and Mark Strong (hails from London) as the two rival sultans. Which is a bit odd since you’d think they would go for more authentic casting. The good news is that this tale of the area having to deal with their find has moments–and the acting from the leads is strong. You have to work very hard to make Mark Strong look bad, I’ve decided. And features-wise, the Image release has a making-of, visual effects featurette and a storyboard-to-film scene comparison. But still, you’ll probably be fine with a rental. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Give Frankenstein Theory some points for playing in an arena that’s been nearly done to death (and un-death)–the Frankenstein story–and doing so in a sub-genre that was just about DOA–found footage. The shot is this: the story of Frankenstein is real, there’s a guy who claims to be a descendant of the real-life inspiration for Victor Von Frankenstein and wants to a documentary crew to follow him north as he tries to seek out the real-life monster. The end result is an array of the usual suspects: actors trying their best, genre silliness and the special sub-genre silliness that comes with found footage: “Why in the hell is anyone still filming at this point?” No bonus bits mean that it’s something to grab when your Netflix queue is feeling shallow. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)