This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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AVATAR
(Releases on Thursday, April 22)
Avatar’s crowning achievement is that it could not have been made at any time prior to right now. Put that into perspective: it took over 100 years of film history transpiring to allow for this movie’s existence. And in utilizing that century’s worth of technological progress, James Cameron managed to create one of cinema’s most awe-inspiring spectacles: the world of Pandora. Without Pandora, and without the visual effects that made Pandora possible, Avatar would be nothing. It is by far the most compelling character in the film. While the design of the creatures, botanical life and Na’vi may not be especially unique, it’s the vibrant, gorgeous rendering of these elements that makes the world feel so lush and alive. Avatar is an ‘experience’ movie, more successful at taking you on a journey filled with beauty, excitement and discovery than it is at telling an engrossing story. This is also the reason the film is bound to lose much of its appeal in the transition from IMAX 3D to home video. The plot and characters just aren’t that compelling, seriously lacking in both originality and emotional resonance. Viewers keep fixating on the similarities in plot to Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, Ferngully, The Last Samurai, and so on, but really, the familiarity of the story would not have been a problem had Cameron expanded or added onto the formula in any meaningful way, instead of stripping it down to its bare essence. Characters fare even worse, with central protagonist Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) doing his darndest to earn the title of cinema’s blandest hero, and the supporting cast leaving even less of an impression than him. All of the characters are relegated to embodying the most stereotypical traits of their societal roles, often feeling like a naïve 15-year-olds interpretation of what scientists, the military, and Native Americans act like (having apparently been learned from years of comic books and Saturday morning cartoons). The only two characters that inspire any sort of an emotional response are Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana) and Colonel Quaritch (played by Stephen Lang), and that’s due entirely to the engaging performances of the actors playing them, as even they’re not exempt from Cameron’s groan-worthy dialogue and simplistic characterizations. If it weren’t for the film being so damn pretty, I’d probably hate it.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – None. Blu-ray – Includes a copy of the DVD.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$15.99 $15.99 $15.97
Amazon – $15.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $22.99 $19.97
Amazon – $19.99

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VOTD: 50 Movie Spoilers of 2009 in 4 Minutes

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The Fine Brothers love to spoil everything, In past years, we’ve featured their popular videos 100 Movie Spoilers in 4 minutes and Spoiling Every Best Picture Winner in Oscar History. After seeing all of the big movies of 2009, the brothers are back once again.  Their latest video spoils 50 movies released last year (including all ten best picture nominees) in one take, in under 4 minutes. Watch the video now, after the jump.

And if it isn’t completely obvious already, please be warned that the following video contains spoilers.
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slashfilmcast550

The Lovely Bones Movie PosterIn this week’s episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley offer up a few reflections on the Golden Globes, try to hold out hope for Marc Webb’s upcoming version of Spiderman, and praise The Book of Eli as a decent, post-apocalyptic, B-movie fun. Special guest Katey Rich joins us from Cinemablend.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us in two weeks on Sunday, January 31st on at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review Edge of Darkness.

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The Lovely Bones

Paramount Pictures has released the first five minutes of Peter Jackson‘s The Lovely Bones online. I had a chance to see this film at the Butt-num-a-thon, and was actually quite shocked at how terrible it is. It’s a complete mess with a few moments of brilliance. However, you won’t notice this in the first five minutes, before Peter Jackson takes us to “heaven”, the in-between, or whatever you want to call it. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that this opening sequence is not a good indicator of the rest of the movie.

The film begins really strong, which probably explains why Paramount has released the first five minutes online. There is a suspenseful sequence later in the film which is also quite brilliant. But the rest of the film jumps rapidly from the ridiculous, to the laughable, to the melodramatic, to the WTF. But you can watch the opening five minutes, embedded after the jump.

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oscar_headerGriping about the arbitration of those Oscar folk at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems to be a rather popular sport, and one in full season right now. For some reason, the most frequent complaints seem to revolve around the terms of admission to the music categories.

You may recall the hubbub when Johnny Greenwood’s music for There Will Be Blood was denied eligibility, or when the song Falling Slowly from Once was challenged. The song was ultimately allowed to compete after AMPAS deemed it had been initially conceived for the film despite appearing elsewhere before the film was completed. This year’s victims would appear to be Karen O, T Bone Burnett and Brian Eno. What do all of these people have in common? They’re from the world of pop music, not specifically film composition. Surely somebody will cry “Prejudice!”?

Of course, it’s not that simple because the scores for the latest Harry Potter, The Blind Side, Bruno and Funny People have also been scratched off the list this year – though I suppose the involvement of sometime pop musician Jason Scwhartzman in the Funny People score wouldn’t go unnoticed.

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Early Buzz: Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones

Paramount Pictures has begun to screen Peter Jackson‘s adaptation of The Lovely Bones, and reviews have begun to appear online. Lets take a look at some quotes from the early reviews:

Todd McCarthy at Variety: “Peter Jackson’s infatuation with fancy visual effects mortally wounds The Lovely Bones.” …. “Jackson undermines solid work from a good cast with show-offy celestial evocations that severely disrupt the emotional connections with the characters.” … “As the story progresses — in a way that points to resolution in one sense and a simple petering out in another — it becomes clear that the actors are being deprived of any meaty, well-developed scenes to play; we learn more about them early on than toward the end, making this a film of slowly diminishing returns.”

Kirk Honeycutt at The Hollywood Reporter: “Peter Jackson transforms Alice Sebold’s startling, unique novel about the aftermath of a terrible murder into a story more focused on crime and punishment.” … “[Jackson] has changed the focus and characters to such a significant degree that his film might resonate more with those who have not read the book.” … “The film certainly plays well enough as a melodrama-cum-revenge thriller. ” … “it’s also a simpler, more button-pushing tale that misses the joy and heartbreak of the original. ”

More after the jump.

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ratner_jackson

Some of the weirdest and most interesting news lately has been about action in the edit bay. We saw that a couple of world-class craftsmen had been brought in to rework The Wolfman, for one. Now there are tales of tweaks that run both ends of the crazy spectrum. When we can run a news item that puts Brett Ratner and Peter Jackson in the same headline you know the world has gone topsy-turvy, but at least they’re not working together. Read More »

The Lovely Bones

I keep looking for something that will sell me on The Lovely Bones. Once upon a time, Peter Jackson‘s name would have been enough. It’s not that King Kong changed that, but between the problems with Kong and the fact that the story in this new film doesn’t grab me (based on what I know about it) I’m in a ‘wait and see’ holding pattern. More problematic is that the current US trailer for his new film actively turned me off. I see why people liked it, but the tone felt like an unsuccessful bid to get back to the feeling of Heavenly Creatures.

So I’m watching for each new batch of footage with some anticipation. Now there’s a new French trailer for the film, but all it really does is replicate the long US version in a shorter time frame. Read More »

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