“Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics” (unrated, Warner): Debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con, this documentary spotlights comic-book villains, from The Joker to Lex Luthor to Sinestro, and attempts to uncover the reasons why they fascinate fans. Narrated by Christopher Lee, the film includes interviews with DC comic book writers, artists and executives, critics and historians and celebrities.
“Monsters University” (G, 103 minutes, Disney): Pixar has a pretty solid track record when it comes to sequels (think “Toy Story”). But until “Monsters University,” a new origin story set several years before the action of “Monsters, Inc.,” the acclaimed animation shop had never attempted a prequel. The characters Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are funny enough and their relationship rich enough to make the backstory worth telling. Set at the titular Monsters University, the film is the story of how freshmen monsters Mike and Sulley – aspiring students of the fine art of scaring – met and became fast friends. It’s also the story of how they became, more essentially, themselves. Contains brief, mild spookiness. Extras include commentary and “The Blue Umbrella” animated short from Pixar.
“R.I.P.D.” (PG-13, 96 minutes, Universal): This comic book-based dud squanders a decent cast and succeeds neither as the comedy nor the action film it purports to be. Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, the newbie, and Jeff Bridges takes the role of his partner, Roy, in the Rest in Peace Department. They meet when Nick is sucked into a CGI vortex just after his evil partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon, playing the caricature of a villain), offs him. The first few minutes of the movie, Reynolds does what he does best: toss off sardonic one-liners. But as soon as Nick meets his new partner, it’s the Roy Show. The problem is that Roy is not nearly as funny as the movie’s writers think he is. There is also some sense that director Robert Schwentke told Bridges to do an imitation of himself portraying Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.” .Contains action violence and language. Extras include deleted and alternate scenes, gag reel and making-of featurette.
Also: “Byzantium,” “American Experience: War of the Worlds” (PBS documentary), “Free Samples,” “La Notte” (1961, The Criterion Collection), “Margarita,” and “Line of Duty Series 1, Masters of Money” (BBC documentary that explores the lives of influential economists, Athena),” “Heartland Christmas” (2010) and “Move Me Brightly: Celebrating Jerry Garcia’s 70th Birthday.”
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Television series: “Damages: The Complete Series,” “Family Tree: First Season,” “Agatha Christie’s Poirot Series 9” (four feature-length British TV mysteries, Acorn Media) and “Cook’s Country, Season 6.”