New on Blu-ray
“Venom” (Sony DVD, $30.99; Blu-ray, $38.99; 4K, $45.99; also available on VOD)
Given the complicated production history, the October release date and the public’s increasingly fluctuating interest in superhero stories, “Venom” wasn’t exactly a popular pick to become one of the five highest-grossing American films of 2018. But director Ruben Fleischer and star Tom Hardy proved skeptics wrong, making a dark fantasy-adventure that connected broadly. Based on a concept from the Spider-Man comic books, “Venom” has Hardy playing a crusading journalist with loose ethics who encounters an alien “symbiote” that bonds with his body, turning him into a super-powered monster. Partly a vigilante story and partly a Jekyll/Hyde character study, “Venom” is more violent and moody than the typical Marvel movie, though Hardy and Fleischer do bring some sardonic wit to the picture, giving it personality.
[Special features: deleted scenes, extensive behind-the-scenes featurettes, and an optional “pop-up” trivia mode]
“Blood” (available 12/17, on Acorn TV)
At once a grim, gripping mystery and a dysfunctional family drama, the Irish series “Blood” does a great job of keeping audiences guessing … and then second-guessing. Carolina Main stars as Cat Hogan, an emotionally unstable young woman who comes back to her family home for her mother’s funeral and begins to suspect that her father, Jim (Adrian Dunbar), is responsible for the death — something Cat has a hard time getting anyone else to believe, given her reputation as a troublemaker. “Blood” itself keeps its heroine somewhat at arm’s length, maintaining a tantalizing ambiguity all the way to the end.
TV set of the week
“The Shield: The Complete Series” (Mill Creek Blu-ray, $229.98)
Now available for the first time on Blu-ray — following a full 4K conversion that took years to complete — one of the most thrilling and influential TV crime dramas of the 2000s looks better now than ever. The twisty tale of a crooked cop (played with terrifying command by Michael Chiklis), “The Shield” remains a tough and provocative look at the many compromises involved in effective law enforcement, from minor rule-bending to full-on felonies. The show also helped legitimize basic cable as a viable home for prestige drama and set a standard for edge-of-the-seat storytelling that few series have matched since.
[Special features: comprehensive retrospective featurettes]
From the archives
“Schindler’s List: 25th Anniversary Edition” (Universal DVD, $14.98; Blu-ray, $19.98; 4K, $29.98)
Steven Spielberg has often been criticized for treating even the bleakest subjects with the touch of a showman, but with the best-picture-winning “Schindler’s List,” those instincts served both the director and his audience well. A historical drama about the efforts of a 1940s German industrialist (played by Liam Neeson) to save his Jewish factory workers from concentration camps, the movie doesn’t avoid the horrors of the Holocaust or the Nazi purges. But Spielberg and his collaborators also don’t shy from making some scenes viscerally exciting or even funny. There’s a sense of life to “Schindler’s List,” which amplifies the story’s tragedy and triumph.
[Special features: lengthy documentaries and interviews]
Three more to see