New releases on Blu-ray, DVD
Fetched from the dead: "Frankenweenie."
Updated: January 8, 2013 7:50AM
NEW THIS WEEK
R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
Grim, ugly and depressing, “Dredd 3D” reduces the action genre to little more than an orgy of over-the-top violence: a description that might give it too much credit for entertainment value. Karl Urban replaces Sylvester Stallone as the post-apocalyptic law-enforcement officer Judge Dredd (judge, jury and executioner all in one) based on the long-running UK comic strip. Though it’s hard to tell since everything but Dredd’s mouth and chin is covered by fetishistic body armor. There’s little dialogue and less characterization as Dredd and rookie Olivia Thirlby fight their way up a 200-story vertical slum to take out a sadistic female drug lord (Headey). Lots and lots of exploding heads, skinned bodies and ultra-slo-mo bullet damage, though, as Dredd dispenses splattery justice. Extras include featurettes such as “Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd” and a Dredd motion comic prequel.
PG for thematic elements, scary images and action
Charlie Tahan, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Catherine O’Hara, Wynona Ryder
The heart-warming story of a boy and his dog-enstein. Before settling on a live-action short for his 1984 version of “Frankenweenie,” director Tim Burton envisioned it as a black-and-white stop-motion animated film. So it’s no surprise that he’s made the animated “Frankenweenie” look great — spookily sumptuous, in fact — with 3D black-and-white photography giving his puppets a higher level of detail than he achieved before. It’s a bit disappointing that there’s little that’s unexpected or particularly amusing about what happens in this feature-length version, but that’s easily forgiven. It’s a mood piece, above all, blending nostalgia for childhood with affection for golden-age monster movies to tell a tale of a scientifically minded boy who loves his pet dog so much that he brings him back from the dead. Extras include the original “Frankenweenie” live-action short.
HIT AND RUN
R for pervasive language including sexual references, graphic nudity, some violence and drug content
Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold
If you enjoy any of the genres mashed together in this high-speed action-comedy-romance, you just might find “Hit and Run” a pleasant surprise. Romance provides the framework as former getaway-driver turned witness-protection runaway Charlie Bronson (Shepard, who also wrote, co-directed and edited) drives girlfriend Annie (Bell) cross-country for a dream-job interview. Things get complicated, though, when assorted homicidal maniacs from Charlie’s past, and a well-intentioned, but dangerously incompetent federal marshal (Arnold) give chase — and Annie begins to realize Charlie hasn’t been entirely honest about his past. Fortunately, the male/female negations, while charming and intelligent, are punctuated by just enough crazed, comedically tinged action to keep the situation lively. Extras include deleted scenes.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
A fast-food manager (Ann Dowd) receives a phone call from a police officer ordering her to detain and interrogate an employee (Dreama Walker) and complies with every extreme command — unaware that the caller is a prankster.
A behind-the-scenes dramatization of the 2008 campaign of John McCain (Ed Harris) from the time of his selection of Sara Palin (Julianne Moore) as a running mate to his ultimate defeat.
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
A mother and daughter (Elizabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence) move next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents, and the daughter befriends the surviving son.
THE JAZZ SINGER
This epoch-making 1927 film about the son of a cantor (Al Jolson) who defies his father to become a jazz singer ushered in the era of sound movies makes its Blu-ray debut. Extras in this triple-disc Warner collection include lobby cards, a souvenir program, reproductions of vintage documents, commentary by film historians, vintage cartoons, a feature-length documentary on “The Dawn of Sound,” and a collection of long-thought-lost short films from the 1920s demonstrating Warner’s Vitaphone process.
SEAL TEAM SIX: THE RAID ON OSAMA BIN LADEN
This National Geographic feature, based on true events and framed by real-time footage, dramatizes the behind-the-scenes events leading to the raid on the Al Qaeda leader’s compound.
Driver and Mechanic (singer/songwriter James Taylor and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson) head east from LA in a souped-up ‘55 Chevy and become involved in a cross-country race with another mysterious hot-rodder named GTO (Warren Oates). Monte Hellman directed this high-speed classic making its Blu-ray debut, considered by many to be an artistic high point of ‘70s cinema. Extras include an alternate soundtrack, commentary by Hellman, screen-test outtakes, photos and publicity materials and a reprint of a 1971 Rolling Stone magazine article on the shooting of the film.
Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez
Writer/director David Koepp knows how to craft compelling, crowd-pleasing movies — a knack that’s evident from the first frames of this adrenaline-pumping two-wheeler action opus. There’s just enough story to justify one long chase between fearless Manhattan bike messenger Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the dirty cop (Michael Shannon) who’s desperately trying to settle a gambling debt by hijacking a mysterious envelope. The real attraction comes from the film’s breakneck pace, dazzling camera work and 90 minutes of death-defying, minimal-CGI stunt work. It’s a wild ride, even if it is on a bicycle.
PG-13 for brief strong language and smoking
Bradley Cooper, Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons
The upside of plagiarism? Young, ambitious Rory (Cooper) realizes his dreams of literary fame and fortune when he publishes a novel found in an antique valise in Paris — after substituting his name on the title page. Soon he’s proclaimed as a genius and everything’s great until the Old Man (Irons), who actually wrote the book shows up to tell Rory his tragic story. After that, it’s true-love lost, if guilt-stricken Rory shares the truth with his soul mate (Saldana) vs. wealth, ongoing acclaim and a troubled conscience if he doesn’t. Decisions, decisions.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK
The ultimate martial arts legend is remembered in “I am Bruce Lee,” comedian Harland Williams reaches new height on a Mojave Desert mountaintop in “A Force of Nature” and 10 top chefs reveal the inner workings of world-class restaurants in “Three Stars.”