Country Strong – Gwyneth Paltrow re-introduces herself as a cowgirl crooner in this music-heavy melodrama, which can be described as a low-rent Walk the Line. Paltrow plays an alcoholic fallen star who’s trying for a comeback, and Tim McGraw – who, oddly, doesn’t sing in the film – is her loutish, pushy manager/husband. Also along for the ride are opening acts played with aplomb by Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester. If you don’t expect too much, you’ll be entertained by this wacky rodeo, and the music isn’t half bad either. An alternate ending, deleted scenes and a pair of music videos round out the Blu-ray, which inexplicably lacks a digital copy.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – Due out Friday, the most entertaining Harry Potter film yet finds the core trio of teen wizards dealing with a love triangle as they race from warlock assassins so deadly they would make Charlie Sheen wince. Sticking close to the urgency of what made the final book in J.K. Rowling’s series such a page-turner, the film bathes in quirky detail, for once not feeling the need to cram an entire book’s story into the running time. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack upholds the series’ standard of supplying exhaustive extras, including Warner Bros.’s always-engaging Maximum Movie Mode interactive commentary track. Cast interviews and a look at how Daniel Radcliffe has matured over the years are the highlights.
The Incredibles Blu-ray – Pixar’s 2004 superhero satire may not hit the emotional notes of the studio’s best work, but ample action, humor and comic book world references give the film considerably shelf life. Pixar films tend to really pop in Blu-ray, with the expertly designed computer animation exploding with detail in high definition, and The Incredibles is no exception. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo is a borderline must-own for both families and singles with heavy interest in animation, and the extras are expectedly strong. Inside looks at the story artists, the making of the end credit sequence, as well as a fresh filmmaker roundtable join the slate of previously released extras.
Money Shot – Up-and-coming comedienne Whitney Cummings struts her stuff in this awkward, hit-and-miss concert film, in which she opines on the differences between men and women and the frustrations of the dating world. With just enough inspired bits to make up for the jokes that fall flat, Cummings establishes herself as a possible diamond in the rough. There isn’t much in the way of extras on the disc.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Released Friday, the third film in the C.S. Lewis fantasy saga is the most enjoyable of the bunch, with dazzling special effects, economical storytelling and inspired acting from the young cast, made up largely of unknowns. In this go-round, a pair of siblings and their cranky, snobby cousin trek the seas in a dragon-shaped boat, traveling among islands seeking treasure and help from the god-like giant Aslan. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack brims with extras, including deleted scenes, an animated short, several behind-the-scenes featurettes and filmmaker commentary.
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