I Want My DVD: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

by Ethan Alter April 3, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A horse and his boy.

War Horse
Going into awards season, Steven Spielberg's lavish World War I epic seemed like a champion thoroughbred. But a certain underdog Artist wound up claiming first place, while War Horse had to satisfy itself with a token Best Picture nomination and no wins. Spielberg will get another shot at Oscar glory this year with his eagerly anticipated biopic Lincoln, but he's got nothing to be ashamed of here. Based on Michael Morpurgo's book and the Tony Award-winning stage play, War Horse follows the titular steed as he gallops through the lives of several different humans as war engulfs Europe. Although some of the individual stories are stronger than others, the sheer sweep of the film is invigorating and Spielberg manages to keep his well-known sentimental streak mostly in check, only turning on the waterworks full blast in the closing moments. Resist it if you like, but we happily gave in.
Extras: A wealth of behind-the-scenes documentaries, covering everything from the movie's inception to its sound design to what it was like to be on set from a background extra's point-of-view.
Click here to read our original review

We Bought a Zoo
On the other hand, Cameron Crowe's family drama tried so hard to make us cry throughout, we wound up pretty sick and tired of the goopy mawkishness on display. Matt Damon stars as a widower with two kids, who impulsively buys a dilapidated zoo and pours his finances into fixing it up. Do we even need to mention that the renovation of the zoo becomes a metaphor for the renovation of his life? Yeah, We Bought a Zoo is that kind of movie. Damon and Scarlett Johansson -- who plays the lovely (and much younger) head keeper that he gets over his dead wife with -- share a nice, natural chemistry that's nice to watch, but they too eventually drown in the movie's sea of sap.
Extras: Tons of deleted and extended scenes (because the last thing the movie needed was to be longer), a gag reel, three featurettes and a commentary track with Crowe.
Click here to read our original review

Madonna: Truth or Dare Blu-ray
For kids today, Madonna is probably best known as that older blonde lady that sang next to Nicki Minaj on this year's Super Bowl halftime show. But there was a time when the Material Girl -- and not her disciple, Lady Gaga -- was the most popular pop star on the planet. The 1991 documentary Truth or Dare, filmed during Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour, transports us back to those heady days. In between lavish concert performances, the singer hangs out with her dancers, expresses her love for Antonio Banderas and makes time with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty, who is profoundly turned off by the whole documentary-making process. For young viewers, Truth or Dare is an intriguing history lesson -- for those of us that live through it, it'll just be a reminder of how thoroughly times (and the music industry) has changed.
Extras: Just the original theatrical trailer.

Chinatown Blu-ray
There's not much to say about Roman Polanski's 1974 noir classic that hasn't already been said. Beyond a career-defining performance by Jack Nicholson as private eye Jake Gittes, the film also offers Robert Towne's epic script, which expertly mingles a typical pulp mystery with the entire history of Los Angeles, and Polanski's moody, mesmerizing visuals. No matter how many times we hear it, the movie's immortal closing line, "Forget it Jake... it's Chinatown," never fails to give us the chills.
Extras: A must-listen commentary track featuring Towne and David Fincher, four retrospective featurettes and a documentary about L.A.'s water troubles.

Also on DVD:
If you're a die-hard fan of Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger and Gwyneth Paltrow and are still missing some key titles from your DVD collections, Lionsgate is here to help with 4-movie sets devoted to each of these stars. Nicole Kidman 4 Film Collection offers Cold Mountain, Rabbit Hole, The Others and Dogville (that last one in particular is a doozy), while Renée Zellweger 4 Film Collection comes with Bridget Jones's Diary, Chicago, Cold Mountain again and New in Town and, last but not least, Gwyneth Paltrow 4 Film Collection sports Shakespeare in Love, Emma, Bounce and View from the Top (well... two out of four ain't bad). A neglected title in Sarah Jessica Parker's illustrious career, 1985's Girls Just Want to Have Fun casts the future Carrie Bradshaw as a dance enthusiast who auditions for a new dance show, much to her daddy's disapproval. As if Parker's '80s fashions aren't reason enough to seek this out, the movie also stars Helen Hunt, Jonathan Silverman and Shannen Doherty. In other "classic" releases, the legendary bomb that was Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra arrives on Blu-ray; the movie's still a bore, but it's fun to see Taylor and her co-star Richard Burton devour each other with their eyes. Finally, the indie drama Angel's Crest features a solid ensemble cast (Lynn Collins, Mira Sorvino and Thomas Dekker) but this slice of small-town miserablism is ultimately too miserable to endure.

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