New on DVD
New this week on DVD:
“Frozen” – This animated feature will play better with the musical-loving Disney princess crowd than the adult Pixar audience. And since it made just under $400 million in U.S. theaters ($1 billion worldwide), clearly that audience liked it a lot.
Jennifer Lee wrote the screenplay and co-directs with Chris Buck, and to their credit they’ve created a “princess” story that meets the expectations of the genre while focusing on a greater love than a princess finding her prince. And any chance to hear Idina Menzel sing is cause for celebration, and she soars on the Oscar-winning “Let It Go.”
In addition to “Get a Horse!” the animated short that ran before the film in theaters, the disc includes deleted scenes, two short featurettes and four music videos for “Let It Go,” one in English by Demi Lovato and versions in Spanish, Italian and Malaysian. (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, $29.99 DVD, $44.99 Blu-ray / DVD combo)
“American Hustle” – Yes, this 10-time Oscar nominee owes a debt to “GoodFellas,” but David O. Russell creates a movie with a vibe all its own and much more interesting female characters than the ones that usually inhabit Martin Scorsese’s world. Loosely based on the ABSCAM sting in the early ’80s, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner con each other and occasionally themselves in one of the year’s best movies.
Both the Blu-ray and the DVD include deleted / extended scenes and a making-of featurette. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $30.99 DVD, $40.99 Blu-ray)
“Saving Mr. Banks” – This film looks at the making of “Mary Poppins,” and instead of it being the story of independent author struggling to maintain control of her work from a greedy corporation, it’s the tale of a benevolent corporate chief not only helping a writer financially but helping her deal with the personal traumas that inspired the work. The talents of Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are the spoonfuls of sugar that help it feel like an emotionally satisfying tale instead of a piece of corporate puffery, which it pretty much is.
Extras include three deleted scenes, a tour of Walt Disney Studios with director John Lee Hancock and the cast and crew singing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” on the final day of filming. (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, $29.99 DVD, $36.99 Blu-ray)
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” – Idris Elba plays South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, who spent decades in a South African prison in his fight to end Apartheid. The movie is best when it focuses on the bond with his wife, Winnie (Naomie Harris), which gets tested as they support different courses in the fight.
Director Justin Chadwick recorded a commentary track, and the disc includes behind-the-scenes footage and the featurette “Mandela: The Leader You Know, The Man You Didn’t.” (Anchor Bay, $29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray)
“Kill Your Darlings” – Billed as a true story of friendship, love and murder, this drama stars Daniel Radcliffe as a young writer Allen Ginsberg, who befriends Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) at Columbia and gets sucked into his world. Ben Foster and Michael C. Hall costar.
Radcliffe and DeHaan join cowriter/director John Krokidas and cowriter Austin Bunn for a commentary track. Other extras include deleted scenes, interviews with the commentary participants and footage from the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $35.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo)
“Reasonable Doubt” – Dominic Cooper and Samuel L. Jackson star in a thriller about a district attorney (Cooper) involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that results in someone else (Jackson) getting charged with murder. The DA makes sure he’s found not guilty, but that doesn’t solve his problems.
Extras include deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and extended cast interviews. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray)
New on DVD
New this week on DVD/Blu-ray:
“Inside Llewyn Davis” – Joel and Ethan Coen take a look at the New York folk scene in the early ’60s through the career of a struggling singer (Oscar Issac), who may be his own worse enemy as he fights for recognition and enough money to support himself. The movie is beautifully photographed and filled with music evocative of the era and quirky characters, none better than John Goodman as a junkie jazz man. Extras include a 40-minute making-of documentary “Inside Inside Llewyn Davis.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray)
“Out of the Furnace” – Christian Bale goes in search of his missing brother (Casey Affleck), who disappeared after getting involved in an underground fighting game in this drama filmed in Pittsburgh. Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Sam Shepard, Willem Dafoe and Forest Whitaker costar.
The disc includes featurettes on the music, the fight scenes, the inspiration for the film and writer-director Scott Cooper. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $22.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray)
“Homefront” – Jason Statham plays a widowed former DEA agent who retires to a small Southern town only to find a corrupt place full of drugs and violence, thanks to a psychotic drug lord (James Franco). Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth costar. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray)
“The Book Thief” – Based on Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel, the film tells the story of a 9-year-old girl sent to live during World War II with a foster family in a German working-class neighborhood, where her love of books is awakened.
Extras include the featurette “A Hidden Truth: Bringing the Book Thief to Life.” (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray)
“Enemies Closer” – Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a drug cartel kingpin who forces a forest ranger and former Navy SEAL played by Tom Everett Scott (”That Thing You Do”) to search the woods for his missing drug shipment. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $19.98 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray)
“In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission” – The latest from Uwe Boll is described as “Looper” meets “Clash of the Titans” as an American hitman (Dominic Purcell) finds himself transported back to medieval times. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $22.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray)
“The Hungover Games” – “Hunger Games” and “The Hangover” are among the movies spoofed in this comedy featuring Jamie Kennedy and Tara Reid. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $26.99 DVD, $30.99 Blu-ray)
“The Patience Stone” – When her husband ends up comatose after a bullet wound to the neck, the wife begins to confide in him, sharing her suffering and dreams with him in a way she never could when he was conscious. The husband becomes her “patience stone,” a magical black stone that, according to Persian mythology, absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. The film was Afghanistan’s 2012 submission for Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $30.99 DVD)
New On DVD
It’s a big week for new releases, with both the top-grossing film of 2013 and a newly crowned Academy Award winner for Best Picture topping the list:
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” “Catching Fire” is a better book than “The Hunger Games,” and it also makes for a better movie. It’s darker and more complex than the first film, providing more depth to the characters and expanding on the relationships among them. It also contains some surprising twists, at least for those who haven’t read the Suzanne Collins’ novels on which the films are based.
One year after being the first joint winners of the Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are thrust back into the battle to the death while revolution threatens the totalitarian government that stages the barbaric event.
All versions include a commentary track with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson as well as deleted scenes an a sneak preview of the film “Divergent.” Blu-ray buyers get the nine-part feature-length documentary “Surviving the Game: Making Catching Fire.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray)
“12 Years a Slave” This drama, based on the true story of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1840s, won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o) and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley). Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a heart-wrenching performance as Solomon Northrup, and Steve McQueen tells his story in a brutal film that is easier to admire than to love.
Extras include the featurettes “A Historical Portrait,” “The Team” and “The Score.” (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray)
“Philomena” This Best Picture nominee went home empty-handed at Sunday’s Academy Awards, but adults will find much to enjoy in this film starring Judi Dench as a woman trying to find out what happen to the son that was taken from her decades ago by the Catholic church. Steve Coogan, who cowrote the film, plays a journalist reluctantly helping her. The end result is a movie that’s funnier than audiences might expect, considering the subject matter, while not shying away from the details of its true story. (Anchor Bay, $29.98 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray)
“Oldboy” The Spike Lee-directed American remake of this Korean cult favorite was a box-office bust, barely earning $2 million in theaters. Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson and Elizabeth Olson star.
The disc comes with alternate / extended scenes and the featurettes “The Making of Oldboy,” “Transformation” and “Talking Heads.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray)
“Cold Comes the Night” Bryan Cranston plays a nearly blind criminal who, after his driver is killed, kidnaps a woman (Alice Eve) and her young daughter and forces the woman to be his driver. But she has her own problems and her own plans to exploit the situation in this thriller.
The disc includes deleted scenes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $26.99 DVD, $30.99 Blu-ray)
“Hours” Paul Walker plays a father trying to keep his newborn child alive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in a drama written and directed by Eric Heisser.
Extras include a music video for the song “All I Feel Is You” by Safran, and a public service announcement for Reach Out World Wide, a charity founded by Walker, who died last year in an automobile accident. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $19.98 DVD)
“The Grandmaster” Wong Kar Wai directed this film about Ip Man, the kung fu master best known as Bruce Lee’s mentor. Extras include the featurettes “The Grandmaster: From Ip Man to Bruce Lee,” “A Conversation with Shannon Lee, Daughter of Bruce Lee” and “The Grandmaster According to RZA.” (Anchor Bay, $24.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray)
“The Last Days On Mars” A team of astronauts think they may have discovered life on Mars, and that “life” may have reanimated one of their dead cohorts in a science fiction feature starring Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams, Romola Garai and Elias Koteas. (Magnolia Home Entertainment, $26.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray)
“Snowflake the White Gorilla” David Spade, Jennette McCurdy, Ariana Grande, Nathan Kress, Keith David, Christopher Lloyd and Dallas Lovato provide the voices for this animated feature about the world’s only white gorilla, who dreams of looking just like everyone else.
Extras include a look at the voice recording sessions and award-winning shorts from Miniscule, the animation company that made the movie. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $19.98 DVD)
“Girl Rising” This documentary looks at the power of education in changing the lives of nine girls from nine different countries. Narrators include Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Chloe Moretz, Freida Pinto, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington. (Docurama, $29.95)