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Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 9/14 - 9/20/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Mike Newell

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint, Toby Kebbell, Richard Coyle, Ronald Pickup

Disney//Rated PG-13//Fantasy//116 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Based on a video game of the same name, this Jerry Bruckheimer produced, Disney film adaptation, is a fantasy epic. The film moves quickly, leaping over expository dialog to revel in its sixth century characters. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Prince Dastan, an orphan adopted as a child by King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup). The story fast-forwards 15 years, depicting the framing of Dastan for murder. His flight, to clear his name, is joined by vanquished Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton), the protector of a magical dagger in Dastan's possession. Equally matched, Dastan and Tamina struggle to possess and control the dagger capable of turning back time. The pair's double-crosses aside, they are mutually attracted to one another. Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina) attempts to steal the dagger during an entertaining sequence that depicts illegal ostrich races run amok. Filmed in both Morocco and on London's Pinewood Studio lot, the set and prop designers impressively recreate authentic scabbards and scimitars, ironic for a film that stars no Middle Easterners in major roles. The film adaptation delightfully integrates the game's parkour-style acrobatics. DVD features: Making-of featurette,  English, French, or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: both DVD and Blu-ray versions of film, Cinexplore: the sands of time, Deleted scene.

DEXTER: Season Four

(2009)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Created by Jeff Lindsay

Starring Michael C. Hall, John Lithgow, Jennifer Carpenter, Julie Benz, Lauren Velez, James Remar, David Zayas, Preston Bailey, Devon Graye, C.S. Lee, Christina Robinson

Showtime//Not Rated//Thriller, Drama//632 minutes

A witty police procedural, this Showtime Channel gem stars Michael C. Hall as serial killer Dexter. Hall's understated portrayal allows us to see his character's fear regarding social interactions with family and coworkers. Dexter works for the Miami PD as a blood-splatter analyst, a job providing him access to a list of those deserving death via Dexter's special brand of justice. Now a family man and new father, in season four Dexter duels with a talented serial killer dubbed "Trinity" (Lithgow). With over 60 murders under his belt, Trinity's appearance of a normal family life intrigues Dexter who is eager to learn from the master before ending his reign of terror. Dexter's deceased dad, with whom Dexter discusses his secret life, reminds him that keeping Trinity alive is foolish risk. Entertaining subplots follow Dexter's efforts to appease his wife (Benz), befuddled by his frequent absences, and a forbidden office romance between Dexter's boss (Velez) and one of Dexter's colleagues (Zayas). 4-Disc DVD or 3-Disc Blu-ray features: Californication - season 3: episode 1 & 2, Lock 'N Load - season 1: episode 1, The Tudors - season 4: episodes 1 & 2, Interviews with Michael C. Hall, Clyde Phillips, David Zayas, John Lithgow, C.S. Lee, Julie Benz, Lauren Velez, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.



SUPERNATURAL: Season Five

(2009-2010)

* * (C)

Created by Eric Kripke

Starring Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jim Beaver

Warner//Not Rated//Horror//915 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

In the fifth season of the CW's popular series, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Padalecki and Ackles), attempt to best both demons and intrusive angels. While Satan searches for an appropriate human vessel, the brothers learn they've been chosen to play important roles in a final, apocalyptic battle. Disagreeing about whether to join a group of demon-fighting soldiers, the brothers are prompted to go their separate ways. Special FX are kept to a minimum as is gore, and the appearance of outlandish monsters. Creator Eric Kripke has followed a more lighthearted trail blazed "Buffy," though his dialog has less bite and wit. He categorizes the action as "The fun Apocalypse." Meant as a thrill ride, "Supernatural" appeals to a younger demographic. Neither Padalecki nor Ackles are particularly strong actors, but their car, a '67 Impala, is perfectly tuned to both the mood and action. 6-Disc DVD or 4-Disc Blu-ray features: Apocalypse Survival Guides - Bobby's Exclusive Video Collection, Ghostfacers: The Web Series, Producer/Writer Commentary on Episode 4, The End Unaired Scene on Episode 9, The Real Ghostbusters, Gag Reel, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

LETTERS TO JULIET

(2010)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Gary Winick

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, Oliver Platt

Summit Entertainment//Rated PG//Comedy//101 minutes

When aspiring writer Sophie (Seyfried) vacations with her chef fiancee Victor (Bernal) in romantic Verona, Italy, she is left on her own while he searches for lost Italian recipes. On a lark, Sophie reads letters to lost loves, posted on the walls of Juliet's reputed home. A 50-year-old missive from Claire (Redgrave) presents Sophie with a unique challenge. She persuades the elderly Claire to return to Verona with her peevish grandson Charlie (Egan). As his grandmother's zest for life returns, Charlie is struck by romantic feelings for Sophie whose fiancée has run off on a truffle-finding mission. A cute premise, knee-deep in clichés, the outcome of  is never in doubt.



JUST WRIGHT

(2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Starring Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton, Phylicia Rashad, Pam Grier

Fox Searchlight//Rated PG//Comedy//101 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Queen Latifah plays Leslie Wright, a physical therapist whose best friendship is threatened when she falls for a client who happens to be dating Leslie's good friend. Since Leslie's friend (Patton) is merely angling to become an NBA trophy wife, we root for Leslie to pursue the pro basketball player (Common) she likes for himself. Latifah and Common have onscreen chemistry, so it's gratifying when they sink their free-throws. DVD features: The One You Can't Live Without, Common on the Fast Break, Gag Reel, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: When Amazing Happens, Live Extras – What's New, feature film digital copy.

SHAUN THE SHEEP: PARTY ANIMALS

(2010)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Created by Nick Park

Lionsgate//Not Rated//Animated//45 minutes

Available on: DVD

Six new episodes of Nick Park's dialog-free, 5-minute storylines, will entertain the kiddies while eliciting adult smiles. Great for traveling in the car since the show remains amusing when the sound is muted -- though it's a laughfest with its humorous sound effects. Shaun the sheep and his flock, continue to outsmart a wool farmer and his brainy dog, Bitzer, and that's how we like it. DVD features: Timmy's Tune, Building A Pig, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

BIG BANG THEORY: Season Three

(2009)

* * * * (Grade A)

Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady

Starring Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Kaley Cuoco

Warner//Not Rated//Comedy//472 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Four academic brainiacs are best friends, stymied by real life. Jim Parsons deserves his recently-won Emmy for portraying Sheldon (Parsons), the smartest of the four. While revered for his work on string theory, Sheldon is surprised to learn that discussing the candid remarks made by his physicist roommate Leonard (Galecki), in front of his roommate's girlfriend (Cuoco), is inappropriate. Sheldon and Leonard's buddies include their long-suffering astrophysicist friends, Howard and Raj (Helberg and Nayyar). The four commemorate Columbus Day by watching Chris Columbus horror films and argue incessantly over superhero trivia. This year Sheldon goes to war against Wil Wheaton, whose Wesley Crusher was the boy genius of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and who repeatedly outfoxes Sheldon. A wealth of witty plots reveal that geek-based humor works equally well outside the lab. 3-Disc DVD or 2-Disc Blu-ray features: Takeout with the Cast, Join the cast for Chinese Food and Discussion of Favorite Season 3 Moments, Set Tour with Simon and Kunal, Gag Reel, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

MONSTER HOUSE

(2006)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Gil Kenan

Voices of Steve Buscemi, Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Catherine O'Hara, Jason Lee, Fred Willard, Kathleen Turner, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nick Cannon, Jon Heder, Kevin James

Sony//Rated PG//Animated, Family//91 minutes

Full Hi-Def 3-D Edition, Available on: Blu-ray

Cashing in on the 3-D craze with its 3-D release on Blu-ray, this noisy, but fun production focuses on two preteen boys and a super-smart girl, as they lay siege to the evil house across the street. The unwary are sucked inside through its front yard, or via a people-grabbing carpet spit through the home's front door. Gil Kenan, won the good-as-gold backing of producer, Robert Zemeckis, based upon Kenan's film school short, "The Lark." Blu-ray features: Requires fully capable 3D HDTV (3D Glasses not included), also plays in 2D, Filmmakers' commentary, 7 Featurettes: Imaginary Heroes, Beginner's Luck, The Best of Friends, Lots of Dots, Black Box Theater, Making it Real, Did You Hear That, Evolution of a Scene: Eliza vs. Nebbercracker, Photo Gallery, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR

(2005)

* * (C)

Directed by Andrew Douglas

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Philip Baker Hall, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett

MGM//Rated PG-13//Horror//89 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

The spectacularly designed exterior of Amityville's centerpiece house, resembles a happy face, but from a certain angle, it resembles a Jack-o'-lantern. This remake of the 1979 horror, is adapted from George and Kathy Lutz's real-life account after they purchased a large waterfront home for a reduced price reflecting its deadly history. George hopes to please his new wife and her three young children, unaware of the influences that would plague him when he set up his contractor's office in the home's basement. Reynolds gives a credible performance, but in the wake of The Exorcist and The Shining, shock fails to accompany George's transformation from kindly stepfather to cruel disciplinarian. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray. DVD features: commentary by Reynolds and Producers, deleted scenes, featurettes: Supernatural Homicide - Discussion of the Defeo Murders and what really happened, Making of, Multi-angle On-set peeks, Photo gallery, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

THE ORDER

(2003)

* (D)

Directed by Brian Helgeland

Starring Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Peter Weller

Fox//Rated R//Horror//102 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

A renegade priest (Ledger), investigating an ancient religious cult, discovers an immortal Sin Eater. Centuries of absorbing sins have weakened the Sin Eater that must now search for its successor. Drawn deeper and deeper into the quagmire, the priest falls in love with an old acquaintance (Sossamon), but beyond starring in this dull horror, can't bring himself to commit a sin. Blu-ray features: director commentary, Deleted scenes w/optional commentary, Deleted scenes and dailies, Original theatrical trailer, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.



INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

(1978)

* * * * (A)

Directed By Philip Kaufman

Starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum

MGM/Rating PG/Sci-Fi 114 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Few science fiction films, including the versions made both before and after this second adaptation, are as frightening or thoughtful. A handful of San Francisco residents manage to escape an initial attack by extraterrestrial spores that rapidly growing into intoxicating flowers. Once in contact with a person, the plants grow a duplicate of their subject then kill the original. Since the pods grow only while the subject sleeps, staying awake means staying alive. Among those yet to be replaced, Elizabeth and Matthew (Adams and Sutherland) attempt to mimic the aliens' behavior. The decision to use special effects sparingly prevents the film from becoming dated. Unbearable suspense elevates this one above other film adaptations. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Feature Film on Both Blu-ray and DVD, director commentary on DVD version of film, Featurettes: Re-visitors from Out Space, Special Effects of the Pod, The Sound Effects, Pod, The Cinematography, Original Theatrical Trailer, English, French or Spanish language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Definitive Edition - Season 1

(1959)

* * (C)

Created by Rod Serling

Image//Not Rated//Sci-Fi - B&W//930 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

Ground-breaking in 1959, Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" series ran a five year course, influencing horror and science fiction for several decades. Viewing a few episodes reveals Serling's weakness -- a penchant for writing morality plays set against otherworldly backgrounds. Seen from today's perspective, the program is campy entertainment, elevated by good acting and high production values on par with "The Untouchables." Serling loved surprise endings -- though these subscribe to the era's predictably All-American values. This edition, released on DVD in 2004, gets the Blu-ray treatment for fans sure to find its bevy of special features a blast. 5-Disc Blu-ray Features: Rare unofficial pilot episode, "The Time Element," hosted by Desi Arnaz, Unaired pilot version of "Where Is Everybody?" with Rod Serling's network pitch, 19 new commentaries, featuring the Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, writer/producer David Simkins, writer Mark Fergus, actor William Reynolds and director Ted Post along with author, film and music historians, commentaries by actors Earl Holliman, Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Martin Milner, Kevin McCarthy and CBS executive William Self, Interviews with actors Dana Dillaway, Suzanne Lloyd, Beverly Garland and Ron Masak, Tales of Tomorrow episode "What You Need," Vintage audio interview with DP George T. Clemens, 1977 syndication promos for "A Stop At Willoughby" and "The After Hours," 18 radio dramas, 34 isolated music scores featuring the legendary Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith, Vintage audio recollections with actors Burgess Meredith and Anne Francis, directors Douglas Heyes and Richard L. Bare, producer Buck Houghton and writer Richard Matheson, Rod Serling audio lectures from Sherwood Oaks College, Rod Serling "Next Week's" show promos, Emmy Awards footage, English language tracks, Full Frame.

Also Out This Week

THE GOOD WIFE: Season One

(2009-2010)

Created by Michelle and Robert King

Starring Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming, Josh Charles, Archie Panjabi, Makenzie Vega, Matt Czuchry, Mary Beth Peil, Graham Phillips, Chris Noth

Paramount//Not Rated//Drama//996 minutes

Available on: DVD

Alicia Florrick (Margulies) is practically destitute after her Illinois State Attorney husband Peter (Noth), is imprisoned for misuse of his office. While Peter claims he's been framed, his scandalous sexual affair leaves her devastated. With two teenage children to support, Alicia accepts a junior associate's position at a major law firm. Each episode of this widely praised series finds her trying cases, and attempting to get a fair shake from those holding a grudge against her husband. 6-Disc DVD features: Cast and crew commentaries on select episodes, Deleted scenes w/optional commentary, On-air promos, Making season one, Aftermath: real-life events, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

GREY'S ANATOMY: Season Six

(2009-2010)

Created by Shonda Rhimes

Starring Kevin McKidd, Kim Raver, Chyler Leigh, T.R. Knight, Sara Ramirez, Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh

Buena Vista//TV-14//Drama//1032 minutes

Available on: DVD

ABC's popular prime-time soap opera is set in and around a Seattle emergency room. The series chronicles the love-lives, friendships and career ups and downs of medical personnel hit by staff cuts resulting from the merger of two hospitals. This season introduces several new characters and sees two regulars depart. 6-Disc DVD features: Extended Finale - Over 20 Additional minutes of The Dramatic Season Finale, Dissecting Grey's Anatomy - Unaired Scenes, Outtakes, Chandra Wilson: Anatomy Of a Talent, Seattle Grace: On Call, 6 Webisodes, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

PRIVATE PRACTICE: Season Three

(2009-2010)

Created by Shonda Rhimes

Starring KaDee Strickland, Taye Diggs, Kate Walsh, Tim Daly, Audra McDonald, Paul Adelstein, Chris Lowell, Amy Brenneman, Brian Benben

Television/TV Series, Television, Dramas, Box Sets

Buena Vista//Rated TV-14//Drama//989 minutes

Available on: DVD

A spin-off of Grey's Anatomy, this second medical prime-time soap follows a group of doctors working at the Oceanside Wellness Center. Kate Walsh reprises her role from "Grey's" as neonatal surgeon Dr. Addison Montgomery. She and her associates treat pregnant women and sick children in a practice that should provide plenty of tension. The script spins out of control when a disgruntled patient abducts one of the docs. If that's not enough, the melodrama complicates the doctors' own relationships with a record number of break-ups and make-ups. 5-Disc DVD features: Bloopers, Deleted scenes, Kate's top eight from season three, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: Season Three

(2009)

Created by Tom Hertz

Starring David Spade, Patrick Warburton, Bianca Kajlich, Oliver Hudson, Megyn Price, Adhir Kalyan

Sony//Not Rated//Comedy//277 minutes

Available on: DVD

"Rules of Engagement" casts Spade as a contented bachelor belonging to a gang of New York City friends including a bickering married couple (Warburton and Price) and a betrothed pair played by Kajlich and Hudson. This year Kalyan joins the cast as Spade's assistant and is ordered to transfer his boss's VHS porno collection to DVD, or to pretend to be Spade's gay lover. Meanwhile, Kalyan looks forward to an arranged marriage according to Indian custom. 2-Disc DVD features: trailers, English language tracks, widescreen.

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