Lawless — The Prohibition-era thriller, based on real lives of the moonshine-running Bondurant clan, casts Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke as brothers who try to throw their weight around, facing off with a corrupt lawman (Guy Pearce). Gary Oldman burns up the screen as a controlling thug, Jessica Chastain is a dancer who gets mixed up with the brothers, and Mia Wasikowska checks in as a preacher's daughter whom LaBeouf's character is sweet on. An engaging thriller from wire to wire, the movie is a step in the right direction for LaBeouf, who takes a break from silly action movies to show some range. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes filmmaker commentary, a featurette on the real-life Bondurants and deleted scenes.
Men in Black 3 — Due out Friday, this unasked for sequel re-teams Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as wise-cracking, alien-battling secret agent partners. As agent J, Smith time-travels back to 1969 to prevent Agent K (played by Jones in the present, and Josh Brolin back in the day) from being assassinated. Smith had been out of the game for several years, but he re-asserts his star power with authority, maintaining solid chemistry with both Brolin and Jones. The special effects are more silly than convincing, but they work for an action comedy. The high-end set includes 3D and 2D Blu-ray versions of the movie, as well as the DVD and digital copies. Extras peek into the effects, a gag reel and loads of making-of featurettes that look at the 1969 sets and break down some of the more memorable scenes.
ParaNorman — In one of the better animated movies released this year, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, John Goodman and Casey Affleck lend their voices to a gothic tale about a sad boy with a The Sixth Sense-like ability to speak to ghosts. He comes of age after he discovers a secret behind a witch's curse and rounds up some kids to save the town. Although the story lacks imagination, the visuals and atmosphere are refreshingly morbid, reminiscent of Coraline. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes filmmaker commentary, as well as several featurettes that take you through the animation process.
Sparkle — Due out Friday, the drama stars Jordin Sparks in a remake of a 1976 film about a Supremes-like group who rise to fame in the 1960s. In her final role before her untimely passing, Whitney Houston plays a mother who disapproves of her daughter's choice of career. The melodrama is paint-by-numbers, but Sparks shines in her many show-stopping musical numbers. CeeLo Green and Derek Luke make solid impressions in supporting roles. The Blu-ray/digital copy combo includes filmmaker commentary, a tribute to Houston and a making-of featurette.
Transformers Prime: Season 2 — The re-imagining of the 1980s-spawned vehicle-robot warriors saga is sharper, more coherent and just flat-out better than any other take on the material, including any of the Michael Bay films. In season two, the Autobots and Decepticons stumble onto some previously unknown facts about the destroyed planet they used to share, learning it might be possible to bring it back to life. The set includes all 26 episodes, a San Diego Comic-Con panel, as well as interviews with the show's creative staff.
Screeners were provided by the studios for review.