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.

Rent It

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

CRAZY HEART
There is a reason why every discussion of Crazy Heart begins and ends with Jeff Bridges’ performance—Bridges is the movie. The tale, when broken up into strictly plot beats, is as familiar as they come, portraying the life of a washed-up musician as he deals with alcoholism, relationship troubles, and every other conflict that generally comes with tales of washed-up musicians. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and done better. It’s a small, simple, low-key story, told with believability and sincerity, but otherwise perfectly content with being unexceptional. This ends up working to the film’s benefit though, in that it allows for Bridges and the music to take center stage. As Bad Blake, Jeff Bridges indulges none of the typical Oscar-baiting melodrama, despite the plot presenting numerous opportunities for it. There aren’t any harrowing moments where souls are bared and tear ducts erupt like geysers. He simply embodies the character, wholly and completely. Even when Blake is bitter and defeated, Bridges brings a soulful warmth to the role, keeping our attention glued as he struggles to find his place in the world. When he sings, you feel the character’s history and experiences in the music, and it’s far more emotionally affecting and heartfelt than any tearful confessional. The story may not offer much incentive for repeat viewings, but Bridges’ performance demands that the film be seen at least once.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Deleted scenes, and alternate music cuts. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as two more alternate music cuts, a cast featurette, and a digital copy of the film.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$17.99 $17.99 N/A
Amazon – $17.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$24.99 $24.99 $19.97
Amazon – $19.99

THE LOVELY BONES
The Lovely Bones is worth watching just to see what a disaster it is. The failure of the film is most evident in the CGI world Peter Jackson uses to depict “the in-between”, which likely marks the first instance in history of somebody using a $65 million budget to create a Windows Desktop theme. Everything about it is garish and horribly artificial, never once resembling anything other than a green screen background with actors stuck awkwardly in the foreground. During the times when the film escapes the blinding excess of its portrayal of the afterlife, it stumbles rapidly through a series of plot beats that offer absolutely zero emotional connection or comprehensible character motivations. In order to convey these motivations, we’re greeted with a voiceover by the protagonist, who flat-out explains to the audience what’s going on and why characters are doing what they’re doing. It’s only during the moments where Jackson actually takes a step back and lets the audience experience scenes as they’re unfolding in real-time does the movie remind us how talented he can be as filmmaker, as he does with one exceptionally thrilling sequence toward the end of the film. Everything else is a rushed, sloppy jumble of maudlin storytelling, cloying dialogue and overwrought drama. And yet, as bad as it is, I was never bored during The Lovely Bones. I found myself responding to its badness not so much with disappointment or frustration as bemusement, unable to accept the surreal reality that this film exists, and Peter Jackson was responsible for it.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – None. Blu-ray – Extensive 15-part production diary hosted by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$17.99 $17.99 $19.99
Amazon – $16.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$25.99 $24.99 $21.49
Amazon – $21.49

PEACOCK
When a movie features a cast that includes Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas and Bill Pullman, and yet still finds itself being dumped straight-to-DVD, the only sensible explanation is that it isn’t any good… Right? Alas, this might’ve been true several years ago, but times have changed. Whatever the reason for Peacock’s unceremonious release, it has nothing to do with the film’s quality. Set in the ’50s, Murphy plays John, a man stuck between two routinely alternating personas, one of whom is a woman. When a train derails and crashes into his backyard, his routine starts becoming impossible to maintain, and pretty soon he finds himself battling for control over his life. Fans of Cillian Murphy should be sure to check this one out, as it’s his performance that drives the film. He makes the conflict between both versions of himself entirely convincing, encouraging you to want to learn more about his traumatic past and why it has him so scared for the future.
Available on Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: A making-of featurette, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, Cillian Murphy rehearsal footage, and a downloadable script.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$20.59 $19.99 N/A
Amazon – $18.99

UNCERTAINTY
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins star in Uncertainty, an experimental indie that intends to explore the importance that every decision can have in your life. The film follows two storylines, each one offering a different possibility of what happens when a couple uses the flip of a coin to determine how they will spend their day. One is a high-stakes thriller; the other is a familial drama. As interesting as the thematic throughline is, the problem is that the dramatic storyline really only serves to counterpoint the thriller storyline, and doesn’t satisfy on any level beyond that. The thriller storyline, meanwhile, is standard and a little silly. Individually, neither story would work well as its own film. That said, the stories are not meant to be taken individually—they’re meant to complement each other, with the various contrasts between the two further expanding on the themes at hand. In this respect, the gimmick is effective.
Available on Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: Audition footage, and a script/scene comparison.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.19 $14.99 $20.00
Amazon – $22.49

Not Screened

44 INCH CHEST
It hurt reading the reviews for 44 Inch Chest. There’s nothing more disheartening than finding out talent has been wasted, especially when that talent includes such fine actors as Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, and Tom Wilkinson. I’ll leave it to you guys to weigh in on whether or not the critics are right about this one. Is the film as fun as the trailer would have you believe, or is it nothing more than actors exchanging profane dialogue for 90 minutes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Commentary with director Malcolm Venville, a behind-the-scenes featurette, epilogues, and an interview with Malcolm Venville.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$21.99 $24.99 N/A
Amazon – $23.49

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$27.79 $24.99 N/A
Amazon – $32.49

THE YOUNG VICTORIA
Another period piece romance? Damn. I’m running out of ways to say, “This could not possibly appeal to me less.”
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Deleted and extended scenes, and featurettes (“Making of The Young Victoria”, “The Real Queen Victoria”, “The Coronation”, “The Wedding”, “Lavish History: A Look at the Costumes and Locations”).

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $17.99 $19.99
Amazon – $17.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$26.99 $24.99 $24.99
Amazon – $22.99

SUMMER HOURS (CRITERION COLLECTION)
Between its 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.1 rating on IMDB, this French family drama has earned quite a bit of acclaim from both critics and audiences. Here’s the trailer.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Interview with writer-director Olivier Assayas, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and an art documentary.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$29.39 $29.99 N/A
Amazon – $29.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$29.39 $29.99 N/A
Amazon – $29.99

Other noteworthy DVD (and Blu-ray) releases this week…
35 Shots of RumCloud 9Tales from the ScriptThe Horse BoyMammothThe Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! – Vivre sa vie (Criterion Collection) [DVD / Blu-ray]

Noteworthy Blu-ray-specific releases this week…
Minority ReportBattleship PotemkinFist of LegendThe Basketball DiariesBatmanBatman ReturnsBatman Forever

The Specials
NOTES: Some deals may be in-store only. All deals are for DVDs unless otherwise noted.


$14.99 Blu-ray or $11.99 DVD – X-Men Origins: Wolverine
$14.99 Blu-ray or $7.99 DVD – Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s Cut), Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Australia, Master and Commander, Jumper
$7.99 DVD – Dances with Wolves


$14.99 – Blu-ray sale: Hellboy II, Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s Cut), Fighting
$12.99 – Blu-ray sale: The Terminator, Robocop
$9.99 – Blu-ray sale: Speed Racer, The Adventure of Robin Hood, Eyes Wide Shut, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Bucket List

$3.99 – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Matrix Reloaded, Absolute Power, The Bone Collector, Semi-Pro


$13.99 – Blu-ray sale: Courage Under Fire, Goldfinger, Never Say Never Again, Spaceballs, The Sentinel, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), I Love You Beth Cooper, Miss March
$14.99 – Blu-ray sale: 28 Weeks Later, Taken, Australia, The Happening, Mirrors, and more…

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