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Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 09/28/09 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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ROBIN HOOD

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed By Ridley Scott

Starring Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Max Von Sydow, Cate Blanchett, Matthew Macfadyen, Danny Huston, William Hurt, Mark Addy, Oscar Isaac, Eileen Atkins, Kevin Durand, Douglas Hodge, Lea Seydoux

Universal//Rated PG-13//Action//131 minutes

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

Eager to escape King Richard's Third Crusade, Robin and his friends (including Little John played by Kevin Durand) are in the process of fleeing the soldiers' rank when they happen upon a group of dead knights, including dying Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge) of Nottingham. They don the knights' clothing, and Robin pledges to return Loxley's prized sword to the family estate. Robin finds Nottingham besieged by tax collectors and a social climbing sheriff (Matthew Macfadyen). Loxley's elderly father (Max von Sydow), pleads with Robin to impersonate his son and protect Robert's widow Marion (a luminous Cate Blanchett) from losing the estate upon the old man's death. Meanwhile, King Richard's brother John (Oscar Isaac) has ascended the throne and dispatched two-faced Godfrey (Mark Strong) on tax-collecting raids. Robin fights to protect Nottingham because he wants to win Marion's heart. Though this prequel hashes Robin Hood's lore, it sets hearts aquiver with Robin and Marion's midlife romance. 2-Disc DVD features: deleted scenes w/intro and commentary by editor Pietro Scalia, Making Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, Ballad, legend & myth preproduction, The more the merrier: production, No quarter given: post-production, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 3-Disc Blu-ray features: The Art of Nottingham, A Portfolio of Designs, Including video introductions, Galleries of Conceptual Art, Costume Designs, Storyboards and Other Imagery, Hi-Def Features: deleted scenes With Intro and Commentary by Editor Pietro Scalia, Additional Features, Making Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, film on DVD.

TINKER BELL AND THE GREAT FAIRY RESCUE

(2010)

*1/2 (C-)

Directed by Bradley Raymond

Voices of Lucy Liu, Mae Whitman, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Sheen, Jesse McCartney, Raven Symone

Walt Disney//Rated G//Animated//77 minutes

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

Disney's pixie-dust addiction is evidenced by three installments featuring the fairy Tinker Bell before she meets Peter Pan. While humans hear only Tink's bells, viewers can hear Tink's every word when she takes refuge from a summer rainstorm in little Lizzie's home. Lizzie, a longtime believer in fairies, is chided by her butterfly-collecting father, until he captures Tink's fairy friend and plans to make the fairy a museum specimen. The CGI picture suffers from a lifeless plasticine appearance, but it's the lack of tension and predictable storyline that do this one in. Tinker Bell thrives on applause, but we can't clap for her, or Disney, when the studio pushes pixie dust for a quick buck. DVD features: deleted scenes, "How to Believe" performed by Disney Channel's Bridgit Mendler, Design a fairy house, Fairy field guide builder, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray, BD-Live Access, deleted scenes, Fairy Field Guide Builder, Design A Fairy House, All-New Music Video "How To Believe" Performed By Disney Channel's Bridgit Mendler, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND - Season One

(2010)

* * (C)

Created by Steven S. DeKnight

Starring Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless, John Hannah, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Erin Cummings

Anchor Bay//Not Rated//Action//692 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Sam Raimi serves as a producer for this Starz Channel costume drama set in ancient Rome. The tale of Spartacus, enslaved by the Roman Republic in 73 BC., is loosely recreated. Andy Whitfield appears in the role of Spartacus, a Thracian soldier turned gladiator after he is captured by Romans and torn from the woman he loves (Cummings), to be trained in the gladiator arts by husband-and-wife team, Batiatus and Lucretia (Hannah and Lawless). Sent into the ring to simultaneously fight a half-dozen gladiators, Spartacus kills them all and becomes an instant legend. It's hoped that fanboys will embrace the cartooned, cherry-red splatter substituting for blood, but buckets of animated gore, and an overwrought writing style, convert this 13-episode epic into pure camp. 2-Disc DVD features: Commentary, Behind-the-Scenes, Battle Royale, Gladiator Boot Camp, Grime and Punishment, Andy Gets Plastered, Legend Re-imagined, Oh Those Randy Romans, Shooting Green: The Shadow of Death, Exposing Your Ludus, Spartacus "Vengeance" Trailer, English language tracks, widescreen. 4-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Featurettes: Gladiator Camp, History Rewritten, Make-up Effects, The Hole, and more, Episodes with Enhanced Digital Effects, Bloopers, Four "Directors' Cut Extended Episodes" personally selected by Executive Producer Rob Tapert.

ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS - 3D

(2009)

* * (Grade C)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Voiced by: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Chris Wedge, Karen Disher

Fox//Rated PG//Animated//94 min

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

The "Ice Age" threequel finds woolly mammoth couple Manny and Ellie (Ray Romano and Queen Latifah) preparing to become parents, unaware their friends are struggling with the change. Saber-tooth tiger Diego (Denis Leary) believes their nesting has dulled his predatory edge while Sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) worries they will soon forget him. Beneath the ice, Sid discovers a subterranean labyrinth housing three enormous eggs. He carts them up top and declares himself a "single mother" to three noisy T-Rex hatchlings. There is a noisy lot whose cries summon an angry Mama T-Rex to retrieve her brood. She accidentally carts away Sid as well, prompting Manny, Ellie, Diego and a pair of sidekick opossums (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck), to give chase in a recycled version of "Journey to the Center of the Earth." A much better parallel story stars proto-squirrel Scrat (Chris Wedge) and his comely female competition (Karen Disher) for possession of a prized acorn. 2-Disc DVD features: both 2D and 3D Versions of the Film, 4 pairs of 3D glasses, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 3-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Widescreen Feature Film or both DVD and Blu-ray, Digital Copy of film, Ice Age Story Maker, Filmmaker Commentary, Evolution Expedition, Buck...Easel to Weasel, Falling for Scratte, Unearthing the Lost World, 2 Unfinished Deleted Scenes, Walk with the Dinosaur Music Video, 2 Scrat Shorts, The Sabre Toothed Squirrel: Natures Nutty Buddy, learn how to draw Scrat-tutorial, Scrat: Breaking Story, Scrat: News Report, Forced Trailers: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Percy Jackson Theatrical Trailer, Aliens In The Attic, Night At The Museum 2, Fox Movie Channel presents 3 In Character features with John Leguizamo, Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Fox Movie Channel presents Making A Scene and Making a Scene - Ice Age 2, FOX on Blu-ray Trailer Farm: Glee, The Pink Panther 2, BD-Live Bootstrap, Live Look up.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: Season Six

(2009-2010)

* *1/2 (B-)

Created by Marc Cherry

Starring Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Kyle MacLachlan, Dana Delany, Neal McDonough, Kendall Applegate, Drea DeMatteo

ABC Studios//Rated TV-14//Comedy//989 minutes

Available on: DVD

Season Six sees the series begin to wear. When the Bolens move onto Wisteria Lane -- adding another hot housewife (DeMatteo) to the mix -- we soon learn that like others before them, this new family hides dark secrets. Core housewives and friends played by Hatcher, Huffman, Cross and Longoria, once again find their happiness hampered by the usual assortment of deaths, attacks, pregnancies, divorces and affairs. As always, they are sustained by their close friendships and killer wardrobes. Creator Marc Cherry elevates his comic soap with incisive dialog and humorous situations. 5-Disc DVD features: Bloopers, deleted scenes, Cherry-Picked: Creator Marc Cherry's Favorite Scenes, Miss Piggy Gets Desperate - One of America's Favorite Divas Barges Onto Wisteria, Lane For One-On-One Interviews With The Hottest Cast On TV, Master Class - Cast Members explain their acting process, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

CASTLE: Season Two

(2009-2010)

*1/2 (C-)

Created by Andrew W. Marlowe

Starring Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Molly C. Quinn, Susan Sullivan

Buena Vista//Rated TV-14//Drama//1018 minutes

Available on: DVD

Taking the form of an '80s light-hearted crime show, this series stars Nathan Fillion, formerly of the Western Space Opera, "Firefly," as bestselling crime novelist Rick Castle. NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Katic) continues to work with the quick-thinking author at the mayor's behest. Castle's ability to imagine the perpetrator's mindset should be an asset, though tolerating his arrogance is a high price to pay. Predictable crimes anchor a drama that counts on the sexual tension generated by Castle and Beckett's unlikely partnership in this "Murder She Wrote" rip-off. 5-Disc DVD features: On set with Seamus & Jon, On location with Nathan, Manhattan's most unusual murders, deleted scenes, Bloopers & Outtakes, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

BORED TO DEATH: The Complete First Season

(2009)

* * (C)

Created by Jonathan Ames

Starring Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Burns

HBO//Not Rated//Comedy//220 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Bored To Death lives up to its name via lackluster relationships and dull investigations conducted by unlicensed private eye, Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman) -- namesake of the show's creator. Ames, recently dumped by his girlfriend for getting high rather than finishing his novel, is reduced to babysitting his employer, a needy, pot-smoking magazine editor (Danson). Galifianakis plays Jonathan's insecure best friend, a comic strip writer living off the largess of his nagging girlfriend, and compelled to submit to her odd requests, getting a high colonic in one episode. Despite the show's name cast, this HBO series mines little humor from these pathetic characters. 2-Disc DVD features: Making of featurette, Jonathan Ame's Brooklyn, deleted scenes, Commentaries, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 3-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish subtitles, widescreen.

THE PEACEMAKER

(1997)

* *1/2 (B-)

Directed by Mimi Leder

Starring Nicole Kidman, George Clooney

DreamWorks//Rated R//Action//124 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

After a nuclear warhead is detonated at a train wreck in the remote Russian woods, nine warheads disappear. Nuclear armaments expert Dr. Julian Kelly (Kidman), and Lt. Col. Tom DeVoe (Clooney), are given the unenviable assignment of recovering the stolen weapons. The pair traces the warheads to terrorists, first in the Middle East, then in NYC. The film's high production values and top-drawer action suffer from a disjointed plot. Blu-ray features: Stunt Footage, From the Cutting Room Floor…, HD Theatrical Trailer, English, French, Spanish or Portuguese language tracks, widescreen.

AMERICAN BEAUTY

(1999)

* * * (B)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Wes Bentley, Thora Birch

DreamWorks//Rated R//Comedy//122 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray (Sapphire Series)

In this darkly incisive, satiric comedy, a suburban family man (Spacey) rebels against middle-class complacency. Bening's performance as his image-conscious wife, mother of his children and hardworking real estate agent, is wonderfully off-kilter. Blu-ray features: commentary with director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball, American Beauty: Look Closer…, Storyboard Presentation with Sam Mendes and director of photography Conrad L. Hall, 2 HD Theatrical Trailers, English, French, Spanish or Portuguese language tracks, widescreen.

Also Out This Week

ONDINE

(2009)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Alison Barry, Derva Kirwan, Stephen Rea

Magnolia//Rated PG-13//Fantasy//103 minutes

Syracuse is an Irish fisherman startled when he finds a beautiful woman entangled in his fishing net. Her name is Ondine, and Syracuse protects and provides for her. Ondine's past is a mystery, but she helps him by calling fish into his nets. The fisherman's daughter (Barry) suspects her father has caught a selkie (half-woman half seal), currently in the human part of her life cycle. Farrell portrays the fisherman, while his real-life companion, Alicja Bachleda, appears as Ondine. The film is praised for creating a dream-like fantasy, though its ending is frequently criticized. DVD features: Making-of featurette, HDNet: A Look at Ondine, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: Season Five

(2009-2010)

Created by Carter Bays, Craig Thomas

Starring Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan

Fox//Not Rated//Comedy//558 minutes

Available on: DVD

Billed as a "love story in reverse," the show unfolds in the present, but is narrated from the future by Ted Mosby (Radnor) as he relates the story of how he came to meet and marry the love of his life. In season five, this elusive woman is yet to be identified. The show employs jumpy cuts and buddy jokes meant to appeal to the post music video generation. Ted's pals are played by Harris, Smulders, Segel and Hannigan. 4-Disc DVD features: Bloopers, Music Videos, Making Of Super Date, The Wedding Bride Extended Version Trailer, Behind The Scenes Episode 100, Series Recap, English language tracks, French, Spanish or Mandarin subtitles, widescreen.

THE BLACK CAULDRON

(1985)

Directed by Richard Rich, Ted Berman

Voices of John Hurt, Freddie Jones, Nigel Hawthorne, Eda Reiss Merin, Arthur Malet, John Byner, Grant Bardsley, Lindsay Rich, Susan Sheridan

Walt Disney//Rated PG//Animated//80 minutes

25th Anniversary Edition, Available on: DVD

Based on the "Chronicles of Prydain" series by Lloyd Alexander, the film is darker than most Disney animated fare. Young Taran searches for a magic black cauldron to prevent it from falling into the hands of an evil king intent upon summoning an army of the undead. Taran's quest is joined by a princess, a psychic pig, and a furry creature known as Gurgi. DVD features: New Witches' Challenge Game, New deleted scene, Quest For Black Cauldron Game, Short Trick Or Treat Cartoon Starring Donald Duck, Photo gallery, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

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