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Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

For the week of 11/16/10 - 11/22/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars)

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THE LAST AIRBENDER
(2010)
*1/2 (C-)
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel, Jackson Rathbone, Aasif Mandvi, Shaun Toub, Cliff Curtis, Jessica Jade Andres
Paramount//Rated PG//Fantasy//103 minutes
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
"The Last Airbender," a film based on Nickelodeon's popular animated series, is influenced by Asian philosophy. Their fantasy world is divided into four nations, one dedicated to water, one to earth, another to fire and another to air. Each nation's inhabitants aspire to "bend" their element. Earth benders command earth to make walls or pillars, fire benders send out burning jets, water benders hurl water or ice and air benders summon gale force winds. Twelve-year-old Aang (Noah Ringer) and his giant flying bison Appa, have been locked in ice for a century. When released by teen water-bender Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), Aang discovers that the warlike Fire nation has annihilated the Air nation and is in the process of conquering the Water and Earth nations. Fire Nation Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), lives mainly on his battleship, dreaming of capturing the avatar Aang, and regaining Daddy's favor. Zuko, relies on advice from his Uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub), a peaceable general. Where the series slowly unveils these characters, Shyamalan's film condenses 10-hours into 100 minutes, and sacrifices the playful aspects that made these character's loveable. Though Shyamalan has created a handsome universe and respectable CGI effects, the once magical Airbender and his friends, become solemn and dour. As an afterthought, Paramount farmed out a 3D conversion that further detracts from the film. DVD features: Origins of the avatar, Deleted scenes, Outtakes, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray features same on HD. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on both DVD or Blu-ray, HD Bonuses: Discovering The Last Airbender, Siege Of The North, Origins of the Avatar, Katara for a Day, Select Scene Commentary, Digital Copy.

AVATAR
(2009)
* * * (B)
Directed by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Laz Alonso
Fox//Rated PG-13//Fantasy, Sci-Fi//166 minutes
Extended Collector's Edition, Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
Cameron's film was long enough, but for those wanting more, the collector's edition includes both the theatrical cut and an extended version adding 16 minutes of unseen footage. Cameron spent a decade envisioning his story and four years shooting his movie that spotlights humans, 150 years in the future, as extraterrestrials encroaching on the Eden-like moon, Pandora. Shepherded by Idyllic humanoids, the cobalt Na'vi connect with Pandora's plant and animal life through a network of shared nerves. Ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) projects his consciousness into a lab-grown Na'vi body, to spend time with them and gain their trust. Sully is taught the Na'vi way by Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). She is nimble and 10-feet-tall, plugging into other life forms through her exposed cluster of nerves. The Na'vi utopian existence is threatened by a corporate exec (Giovanni Ribisi), prepared to ransack the planet for a very rare mineral called unobtainium. Sully works under scientist Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), but is secretly recruited to help the corporate militia. Cameron's fetching world suffers under his clunky dialog, a blur of caricatured evildoers and a telegraphed subplot, but the film is a triumph of visual creativity. 3-Disc DVD or Blu-ray features: Capturing AVATAR: An in-depth feature length documentary covering the filmmaker's journey including all-new interviews with James Cameron, Jon Landau, cast and crew, Over 45 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes and illustrative User's Guide for viewing the scenes with filmmaker explanation, Behind the scenes and making of Avatar materials, A Message From Pandora, Pandora's Box: Go deeper into the filmmaking process with over 4 hours of Inside AVATAR materials and footage, Interactive Scene Deconstruction: Explore various stages of production through 3, different viewing modes, Production Featurettes: 17 featurettes covering the Performance Capture, Scoring, 3D fusion Camera, Stunts, and more, AVATAR Archives: Includes original scriptment, 300 page screenplay and extensive Pandorapedia, The Art of AVATAR with over 633 images and much more, Blu-ray only: BD-Live Extras Portal: Crew Short: The Night Before Avatar and Raw Footage, Production Elements, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

THE POLAR EXPRESS
(2004)
*1/2 (C-)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Tom Hanks, Michael Jeter, Eddie Deezen, Peter Scolari, Charles Fleischer, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye
Warner//Rated G//Animated, Family//100 minutes
Available on: Blu-ray 3D
Tom Hanks and other cast members performed in form fitting motion capture suits that converted them into graphic images. Director Robert Zemeckis used illustrations from Chris Van Allsburg's childrens book to create the film's sets. Though clearly a labor of love, the 29-page volume became an under conceived screenplay. The story is set in the presumably more innocent 1950's, its nostalgic bid heightened by a muted palette shellacked in midnight blue. One of Hanks's look-alikes appears as a wrinkle free, middle age train conductor. Hanks is also the model for 8-year-old Hero, suffering from a crisis of faith about the existence of Santa Claus. An ethnic assortment of pajama'd children are summoned for a nighttime train ride to the North Pole. Thousands of tiny elves stoically labor in Santa's dingy, crowded workshop. The chilly Christmas tale would rather cow than wow children, into believing in Saint Nick. Blu-ray features: Smokey and Steamer Song Not Seen in Theaters, You Look Familiar: The Many Polar Faces of Tom Hanks, 5 Featurettes, True Inspirations: Profiling Author Chris Van Allsburg, Believe: Josh Groban Performance and Behind the Scenes, Flurry of Effects: 5 Motion-capture Sessions, Snow Angels: Moviemakers' Christmas Memories, Theatrical Trailer, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE
(2010)
* * (C)
Directed by Brad Peyton
Starring Chris O'Donnell, Jack McBrayer
Voices of Christina Applegate, Alec Baldwin, Bette Midler, James Marsden, Michael Clarke Duncan, Joe Pantoliano, Roger Moore, Nick Nolte, Neil Patrick Harris
Warner//Rated PG//Animated Comedy//82 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Dogs and cats must put away their age-old spat to save humans and their pets from Kitty Galore (Midler), a feline seeking revenge for her lost fur. Recognizable names voice more than a dozen cats, dogs, mice, and even a squirrel. Aided by high tech gadgets and gags carefully calibrated to please the little ones, our furry friends try to save the world. DVD features: Looney Tunes Coyote Falls: Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote Star in an All-new Cartoon, Sneak Peek at the All New Yogi Bear Theatrical Film, English or French English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on DVD or Blu-ray, Dog Dishing: Tails from the Bark Side of Hollywood, The Best of the Best Cat vs Dog Animated Showdowns, Outtakes and Gag Reel, English, French or Spanish language tracks. 3D Blu-ray features same plus: film in 3D.

LOTTERY TICKET
(2010)
* * 1/2 (B-)
Directed by Erik White
Starring Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Loretta Devine, Ice Cube, Keith David, Terry Crews, Mike Epps, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Charlie Murphy, Bill Bellamy
Warner//Rated PG-13//Comedy//99 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Kevin (Bow Wow) is living in the projects when he learns his lottery ticket is worth $370 million. Since it's the 4th of July weekend and the lottery offices don't open until Monday, Kevin swears his gossipy grandmother (Devine) to secrecy. However, quicker than you can say "quick pick," everyone in their urban jungle wants a piece of the pie. Directed by first-time helmer Erik White, the film struggles to blend broad comedy with ghetto reality. At one point, a thug arrives and begins cracking heads. Executive producer Ice Cube plays a recluse trying to set Kevin straight, but there's little he can do to rein in this out-of-control screenplay. DVD features: Additional scenes, English or Spanish language tracks, French subtitles, widescreen. 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: film on DVD and Blu-ray, Digital Copy, Lottery ticket: custom kicks, Junior's guide to the corner store, Everybody's in: casting for Lottery Ticket, The du-rag model, Additional scenes, English language tracks, French or Spanish Subtitles.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
(2009)
* *1/2 (B-)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn
Disney//Rated PG//Animated//96 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
The beloved Charles Dickens novel has seen many film adaptations, but none dissuaded director Robert Zemeckis from using motion-capture animation to try his hand at the classic. Like Tom Hanks in "Polar Express," Jim Carrey assumes multiple roles characterizing Ebenezer Scrooge and each of the three ghosts of Christmas. Carrey also performed most his own stunts -- such as sliding down a virtual roof - Ho ho ho. Gary Oldman plays three significant roles while Bob Hoskins and Robin Wright Penn tackle two characters apiece in this handsome, yet lackluster effort. DVD features: Capturing Dickens: The Creative Process bringing this Holiday Ghost Story To Life, On Set With Sammi -- A Kid's Eye View Of An "Anything-But-Average" Day, Deleted Scenes, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on DVD or Blu-ray, Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience with Feature-Length Picture-In-Picture Viewing Mode, Countdown To Christmas Interactive Calender - 25 Days of Holiday Surprises.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
(2010)
* * *1/2 (A-)
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko
Starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Eddie Hassell, Yaya DaCosta
Universal//Rated R//Comedy, Drama//107 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
This dramedy drops into a family parented by lesbians. Breadwinner Nic (Bening) is an OB-GYN doctor prone to spout off after drinking too much wine. Her 20-year companion Jules (Moore), flounders in her search for a fulfilling career. Cracks appear in their union after their children, Joni (Wasikowska), 18, and Laser (Hutcherson), 15, learn their biological father's identity. He's Paul, an unmarried restaurant owner, pleased to meet the children of his donor sperm. The kids invite Paul (Ruffalo) to meet their moms, an introduction that causes ripples throughout the family. Wonderfully written and acted to within a millimeter of each word, this story finds that couples and families of all stripes confront similar challenges. DVD or Blu-ray features: The journey to forming a family, Making-of featurette, The writer's process, commentary with director/co-writer Lisa Cholodenko, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.

EXTRA MAN
(2010)
* *1/2 (B-)
Directed by Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Starring Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly, Katie Holmes, Paul Dano, Marian Seldes
Magnolia//Rated R//Comedy//108 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
In "Extra Man," Henry Harrison (Kline), is a penniless, aging playwright who escorts wealthy dowagers to high society events. Determined to become a writer, Louis Ives (Paul Dano), a disgraced New Jersey lit instructor, moves to Manhattan and rents a room in Henry's dilapidated apartment. Louis tries to keep his cross-dressing urges at bay while writing for an environmental magazine. He develops a crush on coworker Mary (Holmes), an emaciated vegan. The evolving friendship between Louis and Henry drives the story as each gains something unexpected from their association. Unfortunately, the movie never allows the viewer to have a thought of his own about any situation or character, therefore the film's initial charm slowly ebbs away. DVD or Blu-ray features: Deleted Scene, Cartoon Clip Voiceover Recording, Behind the Score Footage, HDnet: A Look at The Extra Man, Commentary with Kevin Kline and Jonathan Ames, Commentary with Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini, Lisa Collin and Crew, English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: The Definitive Edition - Season 2
(1960)
* * (C)
Created by Rod Serling
Narrated by Rod Serling
Starring Don Rickles, Donna Douglas, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver, Billy Mumy, Shelley Berman
Image//Not Rated//Sci-Fi - B&W//960 minutes
Available on: Blu-ray
Season Two gets the Blu-ray treatment and is loaded with special features. Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" series has influenced horror and science fiction, but these episodes grow tiresome as each takes the form of a morality play despite the sci-fi background. It's campy entertainment, elevated by a few philosophical highlights, good acting and high production values. 4-Disc Blu-ray Features: Commentaries by Actors Donna Douglas, Don Rickles, William Idelson, Bill Mumy, Cliff Robertson, Dennis Weaver and Shelley Berman, or 25 New Commentaries - featuring The Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zicree, Author/Film Historian Gary Gerani, Author/Music, Historian Steven C. Smith, Author/Film & TV Historian Martin Grams Jr., Writer/Music Historian Jon Burlingame, Writer Len Wein, Writer/Producer Joseph Dougherty, Writer/Producer Matthew Weiner, Writer/Director Michael Nankin, Writer Marv Wolfman, Authors/Historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson and Writer George Clayton Johnson, Interviews with Actors Joseph Ruskin and H.M. Wynant, Suspense Episode "Nightmare at Ground Zero" Written by Rod Sterling, Vintage Audio Interview with Director of Photography George T. Clements, Vintage Audio Interview with Makeup Artist William Tuttle, 15 Radio Dramas featuring Daniel J. Travanti, Jim Caviezel, Jason Alexander, Ed Begley, Jr., Fred Willard, Jane Seymour, Michael York, Chris McDonald, Henry Rollins, Stan Freberg, Vintage Audio Recollections with Buzz Kulik, Douglas Heyes, Maxine Stuart, George Clayton Johnson and Robert Serling, 22 Isolated Music Scores featuring the legendary Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Fred Steiner and others, Rod Sterling Promos for "Next Week's Show," English language tracks.

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK


LEGO: HERO FACTORY - Rise of the Rookies

(2010)
Voices of Malcolm McDowell, Mark Hamill, Henry Winkler, John Schneider
Warner//Not Rated//Sci-Fi//88 minutes
Available on: DVD
Stormer, the best and toughest robot to come out of the hero factory in Makuhero City, leads a winning team that includes Bulk and Stringer. The crew is assigned to train new recruits Furno, Breez and Surge. As the six Heroes work together performing their missions, it becomes apparent that a certain group of villains harbor a personal vendetta against Stormer. Notably, this feature landed surprising star power in the voice talents of John Schneider, Malcolm McDowell and Henry Winkler. DVD features: Bonus Short: LEGO Atlantis, English or French language tracks, widescreen.

IS IT JUST ME?

(2010)
Directed by J. C. Calciano
Starring Nicholas Downs, David Loren, Adam Huss
TLA//Not Rated//Comedy//93 minutes
Available on: DVD
Though adorable, Blaine (Downs) can't seem to meet any guy worthy of his romantic attentions. His more free-spirited roommate Cameron, doesn't understand why Blaine can't enjoy a one-nighter. Searching for love in chat rooms, Blaine meets Zander, a shy relocated Texan, to whom Blaine accidentally sends the wrong photo -- one of his hunky roommate. Ho hum. This gay romance never persuades us that its characters have anything important at stake. DVD features: Trailers, English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

16 WISHES

(2010)
Directed by Peter DeLuise
Starring Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Patrick Gilmore, Kendall Cross, Anna Mae Routledge, Debby Ryan, Karissa C. Tynes, Cainan Wiebe
Image//Rated G//Comedy//90 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
On her 16th birthday, Abby receives a box of magical birthday candles that grant her every wish. Soon she has a perfect life filled with perfect accessories -- an existence that becomes threatened when Abby's latest wish turns her perfect new life on its head. Helped by best friend Jay, Abby has one chance to make things right. DVD or Blu-ray features: Cast interviews, Music video, Trailer, English language tracks, widescreen.

LIGHTKEEPERS
(2010)
Directed by Daniel Adams
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce Dern, Blythe Danner, Tom Wisdom, Mamie Gummer, Julie Harris, Jason Alan Smith, Ben Dreyfuss, Stephen Russell
Image//Rated PG//Comedy//96 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
A comic romance set on Cape Cod in 1912. A curmudgeonly lighthouse keeper has sworn off women, but his pledge goes unfulfilled after a mysterious male stranger washes ashore, and a pair of women rent a nearby cottage. DVD or Blu-ray features: Cast & Crew Interviews, Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

ANTICHRIST

(2009)
Directed by Lars von Trier
Starring Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Criterion Collection//Not Rated//Horror//108 minutes
Special Edition, Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Defoe play a grief-stricken couple retreating to a cabin in the woods following the accidental death of their infant son. The couple has barely settled in when terrible things begin happening and they realize they are being harassed by Satan in this von Trier thriller refusing to be bound by horror conventions. 2-Disc DVD or 1-Disc Blu-ray features: HD digital master, commentary featuring von Trier and film scholar Murray Smith, theatrical trailers, Video interviews w/von Trier and actors, 7 video pieces delving into the production: interviews w/von Trier and members of the filmmaking team, including behind-the-scenes footage at the Cannes film festival, documentary on the film's world premiere, press interviews with Dafoe and Gainsbourg, English language tracks, widescreen.

31 NORTH 62 EAST

(2009)
Directed by Tristan Loraine
Starring John Rhys-Davies, Marina Sirtis, Aurelie Bargeme, Craig Fairbrass, Mimi Ferrer, Heather Peace
MTI//Rated R//Drama//100 minutes
Available on: DVD
In order to finalize an $80 million arms deal with a prominent Afghan Sheik seeking revenge for his nephew's murder, a corrupt British Prime Minister gives him the location of an SAS unit hidden in Afghanistan. Two months pass before Italian Special Forces reveal that Capt. Jill Mandelson has eluded capture and survived a horrific attack. With help from her French Secret Service contacts, Capt. Mandelson attempts to uncover the truth and hold the British PM accountable for his crime. DVD features: trailers, English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

GUNSLINGERS
(2009)
Directed by Adam Oxsen
Starring John Elliot, Ben Hall, Norihisa Suzuki
Lionsgate//Rating R//Western//89 minutes
Available on: DVD
Bounty hunter Butch Norton captures the murderous Rattler who offers to pay him a share of gold pinpointed on a map in Rattler's possession. Norton refuses, only to find himself locked in a jail cell next to Rattler for insisting authorities increase their payment for his prisoner. The gold-seeking Mondego gang is hot on their trail, as is Rattler's vengeful daughter. Rattler strikes a deal to share his plunder with his guards, leaving Norton to fight all comers in an effort to hang on to both his prisoner and his life. DVD features: Storyboard To Screen Comparison, Alternate Opening, Behind the Green Screen: Shooting the Cave Sequence, Trailer Gallery, English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen