'Slow West' speeds up to a funny, exciting frontier gunfight

Slow West

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

Writer-director John Maclean's Western fable has a shaky first hour, trying too hard to be quirky and precious while telling the story of a dangerously naive Scottish immigrant (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) who goes searching for his childhood sweetheart on the frontier with the help of a good-hearted outlaw (Michael Fassbender). But once Maclean is done cycling through familiar pulp archetypes, he maneuvers the plot toward a climactic half-hour gunfight sequence as exciting and funny as the genre has ever produced. Fans of the genre won't want to miss it, even though they'll need to wait patiently through the twee bits. The "Slow West" DVD and Blu-ray come with a featurette and deleted scenes.

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Maggie

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $19.99

Graphic designer Henry Hobson's feature directing debut stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Midwestern farmer who faces an unexpected crises when his oldest daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) is infected with a disease that gradually turns her into a cannibalistic zombie. Small-scale monster movies aren't all that unusual in these days of "The Walking Dead," and frankly neither Hobson nor screenwriter John Scott III does much distinctive with the material. What really stands out about "Maggie" is its cast, as the ex-governor continues his return to acting with something different for him: a low-budget horror drama that's more of a character study than an action picture. The DVD and Blu-ray add a Hobson commentary track, a deleted scene and featurettes.

Merchants of Doubt

Sony Blu-ray, $38.99

Available on VOD Tuesday.

Based on Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway's nonfiction report of the same name, Robert Kenner's documentary looks at the scientists hired by corporations and conservative think-tanks to appear on news programs, touting skewed data about public health issues and climate change. Kenner, best known for the agitprop doc "Food, Inc.," follows the lead of the book in trying to raise awareness of how untrustworthy "experts" can be, and he also attempts to understand the real political convictions of paid misinformers. The "Merchants of Doubt" Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack includes a Kenner commentary track and deleted scenes.

Playing House: Season One

Universal, $44.98

Cable television has done an excellent job of late in providing multi-talented, funny women with space to express themselves. The excellent "Broad City," "Inside Amy Schumer" and "Girls" get all the headlines, but USA's sitcom "Playing House" is every bit as sharp, even though it's less edgy. Longtime comedy partners Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair co-created the show and co-star as old friends who are reunited in their hometown right after each of them suffers a life-changing event — one a divorce while nearing the end of her pregnancy and the other the loss of a high-paying job. The rapport between Parham and St. Clair has been well developed over a decade-plus of working together, and even though the stories in "Playing House" rely on fairly typical domestic farce, the quality of the dialogue and performances makes even the weaker episodes a treat.

And …

House of Cards: The Complete Third Season

Sony, $55.99; Blu-ray, $65.99

Kill Me Three Times

Magnolia/Magnet, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Masterpiece: Poldark

PBS, $44.99; Blu-ray, $49.99

'71

Lionsgate, $19.98

Available on VOD Tuesday

Woman in Gold

Starz/Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

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