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Friday, Oct. 8, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

Releases for the Week of 9/28 - 10/05/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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BABIES

(2010)

* * * * (A)

Directed by Thomas Balmes

Starring Ponijao, Bayar, Mari, Hattie

Universal//Rated PG//Documentary//79 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

French director Thomas Balmes has made a nature study featuring human babies. His subjects laugh, cry, play, and reach the traditional milestones marking toddlerhood during a journey that follows four infants from different cultures. Each baby is born into a well-off family relative to its community. Ponijao of Namibia is the newest of several siblings residing in a hut located in a tiny bush village. Bayar -- the film's only male -- lives in a yurt on the Mongolian steppes. Mari hails from a Tokyo high rise and Hattie calls a quaint San Francisco apartment home. Mari and Hattie greet the world from modern hospitals while Ponijao is born in her hut. Bayar is delivered at a local clinic where he is soon swaddled in a blanket held by his mother as she ascends the back of a motorcycle for the bumpy ride home. If the film has a theme, it is to document the process of becoming a recognizable human being. "Babies" shows these newcomers learning to sit up, crawl, play, throw tantrums, fight, talk and walk. There's no dialog beyond baby's first words, and parents along with siblings, family pets and livestock, are filmed to illustrate the child's experience of them. Over time, the babies become aware of the world around them -- and are amazed. It's impossible to watch them without rediscovering a bit of that amazement ourselves. DVD and Blu-ray features: The babies - three years later, Everybody loves...your babies sweepstakes winners, English language tracks, widescreen.

IRON MAN 2

(2010)

* * (C)

Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg, Garry Shandling, Samuel L. Jackson

Paramount//Rated PG-13//Fantasy//124 minutes

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

Robert Downey Jr. strives to play industrialist Tony Stark with a satiric slant, but the actor's smug attitude indicates he not only considering himself to be above the law, but above this movie -- and we can hardly blame him. A billionaire industrialist and inventor of the Iron Man suit, Stark's anger is understandable. Embedded deep inside his chest, the controller for the Iron Man suit has been poisoning Stark's blood. The government demands his technology, and Stark's best friend Rhodey (Don Cheadle) obliges by stealing an Iron Man suit. Rival mogul Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), persuades Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who carries a grudge against Stark, to engineer a version of the suit for Hammer's company. Stark hands the reigns of his company over to his longtime assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Despite the silly script, director Jon Favreau is cognizant that Iron Man fans expect to see Iron Man fights. He makes the confrontations big, glossy and noisy while stuffing them with so many Iron Men that fans are challenged to remember which Iron Man is the real one. However, Favreau's biggest challenge is to make us care. DVD features: director commentary, English, French, or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc DVD features same plus: Digital Copy, Deleted Scenes, Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes including Creating Stark Expo. 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: An in-depth look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe HD, 4-Part "Making-Of" Documentary HD, 6 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes including Creating Stark Expo and the Origins of Black Widow and War Machine HD, 8 Deleted Scenes HD, Feature Film or both DVD and Blu-ray and Digital Copy, IRON MAN 2 Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, includes Portuguese language tracks.

FROZEN

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Adam Green

Starring Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell

Anchor Bay//Rated R//Thriller//93 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

With Ski season on the horizon, the home video release mines a terrifying scenario. After bribing a chair lift operator to let them ski without passes, three college kids plead for one last run before the resort closes. The chair lift stops before they disembark, but the three, dangling 50 feet above an icy slope, only become concerned after the lights at the resort are turned off. Alone and forgotten, the kids realize the isn't due to reopen until the following weekend. Both hypothermia and their attempts to reach ground, are perilous, but a hungry wolf pack, watching, and waiting makes their situation all the more dire. Shot on a $3 million dollar budget, director Adam Green used an actual ski resort and chair lift to place his actors high above ground. The action and dialog are well paced, challenging viewers to root for this aggravating trio of errant skiers. DVD and Blu-ray features: commentary with Writer/Director Adam Green and Actors Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers and Emma Bell, or Commentary with Writer/Director and Cinematographer Will Barratt and Editor Ed Marx, The Origins of Frozen, featurettes: Three Below Zero, Shooting Through It; Beating the Mountain: Surviving Frozen, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical trailer, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

GET HIM TO THE GREEK

(2010)

* * * (B)

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Starring Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs

Universal//Rated R//Comedy//110 minutes

Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

Spinning off two popular characters from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this sidequel is a standalone tale. Jonah Hill returns as Aaron Green, now a career-minded record company assistant, assigned the unenviable task of accompanying out-of-control Brit rock star Aldous Snow (a returning character played by Brand), from London to a concert at L.A.'s Greek Theater. Getting from there to here would be simple if not for Snow's penchant for drugs, liquor and women. Green gets no sympathy from his demanding record-label boss (Combs), as he tries to appease Snow's outrageous expectations -- even participating in a menage a trois at the rocker's insistence -- in order to get the job done. DVD features: commentary with filmmakers and cast, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Gag Reel, Line-o-Rama, Blind Medicine - More From Sarah Marshall's new show, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: Alternate Intro: The Castle, Alternate Ending: Riding Daphne, Two Gag Reels, Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries, Full Music Videos and Concert Performances, More Extended and Alternate Scenes, More Music Performances, Sing Karaoke on 15 Songs from the Film, Cast Auditions.

MICMACS

(2009)

* * * (B)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Starring Dany Boon, Andre Dussollier, Omar Sy, Dominique Pinon, Julie Ferrier, Nicolas Marie, Marie-Julie Baup

Sony//Rated R//Comedy - In French with English subtitles//104 minutes

Available on: DVD

Bazil (Boon) is itching to get even with the French arms manufacturers he holds responsible for his father's death (via land mine) and the company's rival, maker of a stray bullet nearly killing Bazil. The two armament companies, run by eccentric CEOs, sit across from one another in an industrial zone on the outskirts of Paris. To get revenge, Bazil joins a crew of misfit junk collectors, experts in making all manner of contraptions from refuse. The crew helps him sabotage the arms makers in ways humiliating the CEOs and ruins their corporate images. Bazil's schemes become amusing set pieces that are both fanciful and deadly serious stuff. DVD features: Unavailable at this writing.

COCO CHANEL AND IGOR STRAVINSKY

(2009)

* * * (B)

Directed by Jan Kounen

Starring Anna Mouglalis, Mads Mikkelsen, Elena Morozova, Natacha Lindinger, Grigori Manoukov

Sony//Rated R//Drama - French and Russian with English subtitles//120 minutes

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

After the Russian revolution, composer Igor Stravinsky (Mikkelsen) is penniless and exiled to Paris with his wife and four children. Long an admirer of his work, Coco Chanel (Mouglalis) invites Stravinsky and his family to live with her at her villa. Once the family settles in, Coco and Stravinsky become embroiled in a torrid affair. Long-suffering wife Katrina (Morozova) is obliged to hold her tongue in order to provide for her children's needs. The film is beautifully shot and recreates Coco's stark interiors, but we see little passion between the lovers, or little of the genius that binds them. DVD and Blu-ray features: Making of featurette, English subtitles.



SCRUBS: Season Nine

(2009)

* * (C)

Created by Bill Lawrence

Starring Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, Judy Reyes, John C. McGinley

Buena Vista//Not Rated//Comedy//390 minutes

Available on: DVD

"Scrubs" attempts to resolve key character arcs in its final, bow. The ride loses momentum thanks to the rehabilitation of its major antagonist, the once hilariously menacing Dr. Cox (McGinley). Braff, who plays J.D., the show's longtime lead, clearly lost interest in playing doctor, though the emphasis is on his personal life, as it takes a series of left turns. This season, J.D. returns to Sacred Heart Hospital to teach a new crop of residents that display many of the same qualities he, Elliot and Turk possessed when still wet behind the ears. There's little time to invest in the newbies, and even less incentive since the storylines echo those that were funnier the first time. 2-Disc DVD features: Scrubbing In with the show's newcomers, veterans and creator, Deleted scenes, Bloopers, Live from the golf cart, English language tracks, French or Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

SOUTH PARK: A LITTLE BOX OF BUTTERS

(1999-2010)

* * * * (A)

Created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker

Paramount//Not Rated//Comedy, Animated//286 minutes

Available on: DVD

Butters Stotch has become a featured secondary character, cast in a supporting role to "South Park's" core group of Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick. He is voiced by series co-creator Matt Stone and loosely based on the director of "South Park's" animation, Eric Stough. Butters is cheerful, naive, optimistic, and anxious. While he is sometimes invited to hang out with Cartman and friends, more often they taunt him, frequently sending Butters into manic mode. The subject of numerous episodes, it's about time Butters got covered in his own little boxset. 2-Disc DVD features: collectible box, 13 widescreen Butters-centric episodes in Surround Sound, It's Butters! interactive trivia game, Pimp chain, Inspector Butters Badge, All new manuscript, Cancelled check from Paris Hilton, English language tracks, widescreen.

PREY

(2007)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Darrell James Roodt

Starring Bridget Moynahan, Peter Weller, Carly Schroeder

Weinstein//Rated R//Thriller//90 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray

Amy and her new step kids become stranded in an African game preserve after hungry lions kill their guide. Their tinny SUV threatens to collapse under the assault of a large, ravenous male cat. His weight buckles the vehicle's roof as the overburdened windshield cracks. Amy's (Bridget Moynahan) husband Tom (Peter Weller), accompanied by park rangers and a local hunter, search for the trio, unaware they have strayed far off-road and are hidden in the bush. The threesome's escape efforts are hindered by lost car keys and the loss of their rifle-toting guide. Terrifying days pass. The lions (a mix of regal real life beasts and CGI effects) are menacing. The kids’ anger over Dad's recent remarriage to Amy dissolves as their predicament forces them to rely upon her. The action, set against the stark beauty of the African plains, terrifies. Blu-ray features: English language track, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE

(2010)

Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Voices of Andre Braugher, Kevin Conroy, Edward Asner, Summer Glau, Susan Eisenberg, Julianne Grossman, Timothy Daly

Warner//Rated PG-13//Animated//78 Minutes

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

DC Comics continues its direct-to-home video productions as a comic book substitute. In this issue, Batman and Superman entrust the training of Kara, Superman's long-lost relative, to Wonderwoman. All is well until Kara is kidnapped by the villain Darkseid, prompting the superheroes to undertake a daring rescue mission. While the animation doesn't disappoint, plotting and dialog are uneven. DVD features: Sneak Peek: of All-star Superman animated movie, Explore 3 other DC Universe animated movies, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: the Fourth World: the new Gods, featurette profiles of Orion and Mr. Miracle, Supergirl: last daughter of krypton, Bruce Timm presents 4 bonus cartoons featuring Darkseid.

THE THIN RED LINE

(1998)

Directed by Terrence Malick

Starring Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta, John Cusack, George Clooney, Elias Koteas, John C. Reilly, John Savage, Thomas Jane, Adrien Brody, Ben Chaplin, Jared Leto, Tim Blake Nelson, Miranda Otto, Nick Stahl

Criterion Collection//Rated R//Drama//171 minutes

Special Edition, Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

This adaptation of the classic WWII novel by James Jones, follows the Charlie Company platoon's efforts to capture the Japanese-controlled island of Guadalcanal. The senselessness of war prompts the men to look for meaning in this sprawling epic. Praised for a dream-like quality that is attributed, in part, to a floating camera style, the film is firmly grounded in both the internal and external battles engaged by its characters. 2-Disc DVD features: commentary by director Terrence Malick and cinematographer John Toll, or commentary by Toll, production designer Jack Fish, and producer Grant Hill, Original theatrical trailer, Interviews with the film's actors, editors, writer's daughter and the composer, New interview with casting director Dianne Crittenden, featuring archival audition footage, 14 minutes of outtakes, WWII newsreels from Guadaleanal and the Solomon Islands, Melanesian chants. English language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: A booklet featuring an essay by Film Critic David Sterritt and a 1963 reprint by James Jones.