Vital clues to the ‘True Detective’ phenomenon

New Releases
Woody Harrelson in “True Detective.”

True Detective: The Complete First Season

HBO, $59.99; Blu-ray, $79.98

It’s indicative of the respect HBO commands as a cultural force that the channel’s original series attracted big-time movie actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson to play a mismatched pair of Louisiana cops whose lives and careers are turned upside-down by a series of ritualistic murders. And it’s indicative of their chemistry and charisma that the stars were able to turn a dark, philosophical, dialogue-heavy series into a phenomenon. Credit is also due to the series’ creator-writer, Nic Pizzolatto, and director, Cary Fukunaga, who forged a new kind of neo-noir, full of Southern gothic atmosphere, bursts of surrealism and existential ruminations. The creative team digs deeper into the show’s roots on the DVD and Blu-ray, via extensive featurettes and commentary tracks.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


Paramount, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD June 10

Chris Pine has been so much fun to watch as Capt. Kirk in the recent “Star Trek” movies that it’s a shame he hasn’t been able to carry that energy and charm into his other movie projects. This attempted franchise reboot is a solid political thriller (directed with a classicist’s eye by Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the villain), and Pine’s just fine as Tom Clancy’s wonky action hero, here looking into an economic mystery in Russia. But from the forgettable title to the generic plot, the film doesn’t do its star many favors. Like Ben Affleck, Pine is likely now destined to be an answer to a tough trivia question: Name all the actors who’ve played Jack Ryan on screen. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes, featurettes and a commentary track.



Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD June 10

It’s starting to become an annual event during non-blockbuster/non-awards season: Liam Neeson plays the lead in another midbudget action picture. But this one’s a little more clever than most of his recent adventures in “guy movies,” with Neeson playing an air marshal trying to solve the mystery of who’s killing crew members midflight. The plot’s preposterous, but director Jaume Collet-Serra keeps the action taut, and nobody plays the desperate, surprisingly capable hero quite like Neeson these days. The DVD and Blu-ray tack on skimpy featurettes.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

20th Century Fox, $49.98; Blu-ray, $59.98

Carl Sagan’s 1980s docuseries “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” was responsible for convincing a generation of TV viewers that science could be fascinating and relevant, not impossibly abstract. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new version is a worthy successor to Sagan’s legacy, using state-of-the-art special effects and the latest data to teach viewers about the origin and evolution of life in the galaxy, while checking in on what scientists today are studying, and why. At once historical, theoretical and a little bit political, this new “Cosmos” makes a great case for the classical sciences at a time when anything that’s not computer engineering is often eyed skeptically by the public. The DVD and Blu-ray come with bonus scenes, featurettes and a commentary track.


Alan Partridge


Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Devil’s Knot

Image, $29.96; Blu-ray, $34.97

The Missing Picture

Strand, $27.99


Kino, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

Ray Donovan: Season One


Paramount, $55.98; Blu-ray, $76.99

Tim’s Vermeer

Sony Blu-ray, $40.99

Available on VOD June 10


New Video, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

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