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Monday, Dec. 13, 2010

Out on Blu-ray/DVD

For the week of 12/07/10 - 12/13/10 (Ratings Out of Four Stars.)

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SHREK FOREVER AFTER

(2010)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Walt Dohrn, Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson, Lake Bell, Kathy Griffin

DreamWorks//Rated PG//Animated//93 minutes

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

Dropping its hero, big green ogre Shrek, into an alternate universe, this fourth chapter of the popular DreamWork's franchise is able to reconsider the fates and fortunes of its primary characters. Shrek's (Michael Myers) birthday, celebrated with friends, ogre wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and their three offspring, precipitates his mid-life crisis. More than anything, Shrek wishes he could revisit his carefree bachelorhood spent laying around or terrorizing locals. Shrek is well into his cups when he signs a contract granting schemer Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) the right to own one day from Shrek's past in exchange for providing Shrek with one responsibility-free day in the present. Shrek doesn't guess he is trading away the day of his birth, thereby sufficiently altering events so that Rumpelstiltskin can ascend the throne where he appears in numerous Elizabethan wigs and prissy outfits, commanding dozens of witches modeled after the Wicked Witch of the West. Fiona is now a warrior leading a resistance movement to unseat the king. Donkey (Murphy) is the witches' pack mule and Puss in Boots (Banderas) is a rotund, pampered house kitty. Shrek must procure "True Love's Kiss" to undo the spell. The first of the franchise rendered in 3D, the film's snappy dialog and story are the most enjoyable since the original Shrek. DVD features: Spotlight on Shrek, Secrets of Shrek Forever After, Deleted Scenes, Commentary, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: Film on both DVD and Blu-ray, The Animators' Corner, BD-Live Extras, Shrek's Interactive Journey: IV, conversation With The Cast, Tech Of Shrek Forever After, Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music, Donkey's Caroling Christmas-tacular, Shrek's Yule.

INCEPTION

(2010)

* * * * (A)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas

Warner//Rated PG-13//Sci-Fi//148 minutes

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

What if your dreams were invaded by others able to gain complete access to your mind? Inception, the latest effort by writer-director Christopher Nolan, explores the prospect of dream manipulation as an instrument for corporate espionage. Want to know how a competitor designed its new thingamajig? For a humongous fee, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his "dream team" will extract the answer from a dreamer's mind. The dreamscape is designed so the controller can prevent the dreamer from realizing he's dreaming. Expert extractor Cobb is a fugitive whose premanufactured dreams are haunted by the specter of his dead wife (Marion Cotillard). He accepts a job requiring him to implant an idea into the dreaming mind of Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), heir to a large corporation that competes with Cobb's employer, Saito (Ken Watanabe). Cobb's team includes Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as his back up and Yusuf (Dileep Rao) to administer sedatives to the subject. Impersonator Eames (Tom Hardy) plays a person from the subject's life, and talented but green dream architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page) designs the dreamscape. They construct three levels of dreams going ever deeper into the dreamer's mind. Nolan lavishes myth on the dream world, making it seem both alien and familiar. Inception is not a film you cruise through. The workings of the dreamworld are buried in rapid-fire dialog spoken during continuously unfolding action sequences. Afterwards, it feels as though you've awakened from a surreal, embattled dream, struggling to assemble all the bits and pieces. DVD features: The Inception of Inception, Creating and destroying the castle sets, Constructing paradoxical architecture, constructing the street-faring English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features same plus: film on both DVD and Blu-ray, Extraction mode, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and leading scientists take you to the cutting edge of dream research, Inception: the cobol job comic prologue in full animation and motion, Soundtrack selections from Hans Zimmer's score, Conceptual art, promotional art and trailer/TV spot galleries, Exclusively via BD-Live project somnacin: confidential files access.

RESTREPO

(2010)

* * * * (A)

Directed by Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger

Starring Lamonta Caldwell, Miguel Cortez, Aron J. Hijar, Sterling J. Jones, Dan Kearney, Joshua A. McDonough, Brendan C. O'Byrne, Misha C. Pemble-Belkin, Kevin Rice, Kyle M. Steiner

National Geographic//Rated R//Documentary//93 minute

Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

The futility of fighting an unseen enemy sheltered by locals and hidden within Afghanistan's desolate backcountry, is documented by a pair of intrepid journalists embedded with a platoon. Those familiar with skirmishes in the Vietnamese jungle will instantly find parallels between the two wars, but we soon become involved in the day-to-day lives of soldiers attempting to oust the Taliban from its stronghold in the Korengal Valley. First to die is beloved medic PFC Juan Restrepo. Led by Captain Dan Kearney, the company takes a mountaintop outpost that turns the tide in their favor. They name it Restrepo and spend many months watching over the valley from this vantage, frequently taking fire and returning it. Filmed over more than a year, the filmmakers follow the soldiers into Hell, and capture them at rest, at play, and through hours of tedious inactivity. Interviews with the surviving soldiers help to put an American face on a war occurring far from home. DVD or Blu-ray features: deleted scenes, Extended Interviews, Updates on the Soldiers from Second Platoon, Battle Company, Photo Gallery, Public Service Announcements from IAVA, Operation Homefront and TAPS, Coming Attractions, English language tracks, widescreen.

SHREK: THE WHOLE STORY

(2010)

* * * (B)

Voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas

Dreamworks//Not Rated//Animated//369 Minutes

Gift Set, Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

All four Shrek Movies are collected into this gift set loaded with special features. 5-Disc DVD features: Character Spotlights, Secrets Of All 4 Shrek Movies, 9 deleted scenes, Shrek, Rattle & Roll Music, Donkey's Christmas Shrektracular, Filmmakers' Commentary on each movie, Karaoke Dance Party, Far Far Away Idol, Worcestershire Academy Yearbook, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 4-Disc Blu-ray features same plus: an additional deleted scene.

WALT AND EL GRUPO

(2008)

* *1/2

Directed by Theodore Thomas

Starring Walt Disney, Janet Lansburgh

Disney//Rated PG//Documentary//106 minutes

Available on: DVD

As the US prepared for war in 1941, President Roosevelt asked Walt Disney to embark on a good will tour of Nazi-sympathizing South America. Walt happily complied in part to escape the union movement paralyzing his studio. He gathered 16 Disney employees representing his best creative talent, and spent three months visiting Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Well preserved footage, and beautifully articulated letters to his wife, illustrate the inspiration Walt and company drew from their travels. Wherever they went, Walt's "El Grupo" were enthusiastically embraced by animators, writers and musicians. Theodore Thomas, son of early Disney animator Frank Thomas, has assembled archival footage, interviews from the past and present and clips from the animations inspired by the trip, to create this documentary. It functions partly as a time capsule and partly as a glimpse into the mind behind an incredibly successful studio. The film's South American soundtrack is joyous. DVD features: Commentary with director Theodore Thomas and Historian J.B. Kaufman, Photos In Motion featurette, From The Director's Cut: 3 segments take you deeper into the story, Saludos Amigos: theatrical version, Original Theatrical Trailers: Saludos Amigos (1942); The Three Caballeros (1944), English language tracks, Spanish Subtitles, widescreen.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND, 3D

(2010)

* * 1/2 (B-)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Christopher Lee

Disney//Rated PG//Fantasy//108 minutes

Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Lewis Carroll's classic adventure receives a Tim Burton once-over within the confines of the screenplay provided by Disney's Lion King scribe, Linda Woolverton. Alice (Wasikowska) is 19 when she falls down the rabbit hole while escaping the wealthy dolt she is supposed to marry. Landing in Wonderland, Alice has forgotten her previous visit when she meets the Mad Hatter (Depp), the petulant Red Queen (Carter), and the good White Queen (Hathaway). The Red Queen wants Alice's head, but Wonderland's inhabitants hope the girl will help them overthrow their nasty ruler. Burton creates a visually stunning 3D landscape, but there is too little wonder in his adventure. 4-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: 2 Blu-ray and 2 DVD discs with the film on both Blu-ray and DVD, Blu-ray 3D, Digital copy, Finding Alice – It's all things Alice featurette detailing Tim Burton's vision, The Mad Hatter featurette, Effecting Wonderland, The Futterwacken Dance, The Red Queen, Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen, The White Queen – An interview with Anne Hathaway, Scoring Wonderland with Composer Danny Elfman and Tim Burton, Stunts of Wonderland featurette, Making the Proper Size visual effects process, Cakes of Wonderland, BD-Live, Tea Party Props, English, French, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese or Spanish language tracks, Malay, Mandarin, Thai or Vietnamese subtitles, widescreen.

CRONOS

(1993)

* * (C)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook, Margarita Isabel, Tamara Shanath, Daniel Cacho, Mario Martinez, Juan Colombo, Farnesio Bernal

Criterion Collection//Rated R//Horror//92 minutes

Special Edition Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Old man Jesus Gris finds and accidentally uses a device that gives him immortality, but causes him to thirst for human blood. Complicating the situation, a cancer-stricken industrialist dispatches his crazy nephew (Ron Perlman) to retrieve the life-extending gizmo. An award-winner at 1993's Cannes Festival, this picturesque melodrama drones on for what feels like an eternity. DVD features: Optional original Spanish-language voiceover introduction, Del Toro's commentary or commentary by the producers, Del Toro's 1987 short horror film with a new director interview, tour by Del Toro's home office, new interviews with Del Toro, Navarro, and actor Ron Perlman, interview with actor Federico Luppi, Stills gallery captioned by Del Toro, Trailer, New and improved English translation, booklet featuring an essay by film critic Maitland McDonagh and excerpts from Del Toro's film notes, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: Restored high-definition digital transfer.

FANTASIA AND FANTASIA 2000 2: MOVIE COLLECTION SPECIAL EDITION

(1940, 2000)

* * *1/2 (A-)

Narrated by Deems Taylor

Voices of Walt Disney

Starring Steve Martin, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, Penn and Teller, Angela Lansbury, Itzhak Perlman, Quincy Jones

Disney//Rated G//Animation//200 minutes

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

Just in time for the holidays, Disney offers both its classic and modern-day sequel. The 1940 Fantasia was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress. It features the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Stokowski, and consists of imaginative animation set to eight classical pieces. Walt Disney makes a voice appearance as Mickey Mouse. Attempting to follow in his uncle's footsteps, the late Roy Disney produced Fantasia 2000. He inserted the original's "Sorcerer's Apprentice," and added seven new segments. The music is primarily performed by the Chicago Symphony and conducted by James Levine. Though less impressive than the original, it's worth a watch and a listen. 2-Disc DVD features: Fantasia Feature Film, Commentary, Disney Family Museum, Fantasia 2000, Featurette: Musicana - Walt's Inspiration For A Sequel To Fantasia English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack features same plus: Academy Award nominated short Destino, feature length documentary: Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino.

Also Out This Week

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS - The Sixth Season: Vol. 2

(2008)

Created by Stephen Hillenburg

Voices of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke and Rodger Bumpass

Nickelodeon//Not Rated//Animated//265 minutes

Available on: DVD

Nickelodeon releases the second volume of season six, not a bad deal considering it contains 23 episodes of the Emmy-winning series. "SpongeBob and the Clash of Triton," guest stars Victoria Beckham and Sebastian Bach in a double-episode. Another fan favorite finds the Vikings searching for SpongeBob and yet another boasts pop culture awareness when SpongeBob impersonates his favorite superhero. 2-Disc DVD features: Bollywood Bob, How to Make SpongeBob SquarePants, The Clash of Triton: Shorts, SpongeGod, Neptune's Origins, English language tracks, widescreen.