New and noteworthy experiences among home video, games, gadgets and the Web.
Marvel's comic-book movie "The Avengers" has been executed with all the reverence the superfans demand. The performances are so well pitched that it's tempting to overpraise the good but not great movie that surrounds them.
Director Joss Whedon seems to have tamped down his instincts to play up irony and camp. Instead, he focuses on simply making the characters legible and the story easy to follow. Whedon has positioned "The Avengers" exactly where it needs to be to keep spinning out in perpetuity.
Bidding goodbye to at least one beloved character and saying hello to another in a tantalizing closing-credits hint, he leaves us wanting more -- which, for now at least, is undoubtedly the right play.
The DVD (Disney, $30) includes the "Assembling the Ultimate Team" featurette and commentary by Whedon. The Blu-ray ($40-$50) adds several other featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes and more.
Colin Covert's take: For superhero fans, "The Avengers" is heaven without having to die and go there. The film is stylish, intelligent and, one hopes, influential on the next generation of superhero movies; it should leave a lasting legacy.
Also out Tuesday:
Movies: "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1" (animated movie of Frank Miller graphic novel), "Resident Evil: Damnation" (animated), "The Tall Man."
TV: "American Horror Story," "CSI" (Season 12), "CSI: Miami" (Season 10), "CSI: NY" (Season 8), "Desperate Housewives" (Season 8), "Family Guy" (Vol. 10), "Gossip Girl" (Season 5), "Law & Order: SVU" (Season 13), "Portlandia" (Season 2), "Wallander" (Season 3).
Blu-ray debuts: "The American President," "Bond 50" (22 James Bond films), "Dave."
Congrats, hockey fans. After several years of thrilling regular seasons and exciting playoff action, you are left with "NHL 13" ($60 for Xbox 360, PS3; rated Everyone) as your only avenue to fresh, new hockey this season.
While the lockout keeps the professionals off the ice, their digital likenesses are more than happy to pound you into the boards or whip a slapshot past the goalie until your heart is content. This year's game includes a new physics engine that makes the skating and game play the most realistic it has ever been.
Even if this feels a lot like a retread of "NHL 12," you won't be able to turn away from the action once the ref drops the puck. The new physics engine creates a fluid on-ice experience where plays develop more organically and realistically, as if you were in the arena watching it happen live.
There's no telling when the lockout might end, so it's a good thing "NHL 13" is so realistic. It may be the only kind of hockey that fans get to witness this year.
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