Hall Pass – Shattering his typecast as a care-free slacker, Owen Wilson plays a pudgy, overweight and unconfident family man whose wife (Jenna Fischer) gives him a week’s break from their marriage so he can try to sow his wild oats. Although the comedy never approaches the heights of what the Farrelly Brothers are capable of, it does score its share of giggles, and astutely pokes fun at the grass-is-greener relationship mentality. The Blu-ray/DVD combo includes one deleted scene, a gag reel and an extended cut of the film.
Battle: Los Angeles – The shamelessly over-the-top explosion-fest is especially fun to watch for those who despise the City of Angels, because alien invaders tear the freeway-choked metropolis to bits as determined military forces desperately aim to fend them off. Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Bridget Moynahan, all of whom can be forgiven for phoning in roles plagued with middling writing, provide the star power. For me, the biggest attraction the Blu-ray offered was a demo for Resistance 3 for the PS3. Compared to that bonus, the smattering of behind-the-scenes featurettes and storyboard comparisons are milquetoast.
Das Boot Blu-ray – The 1981 German World War II submarine classic devastatingly explores the depths, depravity and courage of alpha males forced to live in close quarters. I recommend parsing out the overwhelmingly long (209 minutes!) film over the span of a few days in order to be able to savor the nuances of director Wolfgang Petersen’s masterful touches. In addition to the film, the disc offers the shamefully truncated theatrical cut, Petersen’s commentary and vintage making-of docs.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition Blu-rays – Sold separately, both of these mega-sets continue the studio’s fawning tributes to the blockbuster adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s kid-lit magical acts. Just about any special feature a hard-core Potterhead could imagine is included in the boxes, including digital copies, inside looks at the special effects, cast interviews and peeks inside the Florida-themed Harry Potter amusement park and a look ahead at the making of the upcoming final film in the saga.
Yo Gabba Gabba! Circus – The Nick Jr. toddler-aimed series continues to please, although it’s disappointing that Paramount insists on releasing the show in these four-episode themed sets rather than full seasons. The episodes on the latest disc are crowd-pleasers, including guest spots from Weird Al Yankovic and Sarah Silverman. Catchy music and high-energy, low-annoyance skits make the series tolerable for parents.
Red Riding Hood – Giant-eyed Amanda Seyfried plays werewolf bait in this stylish but hollow adaptation of the children’s tale, which fails to capitalize on the True Blood/Twilight-fueled fascination due partly to its over-serious tone when dealing with ludicrous subject matter. The Blu-ray/DVD combo boasts an alternate cut of the movie, and the fact that this inclusion is trumpeted on the box is a sign of how poorly received the original film was. No matter which cut you choose, expect to fight off bouts of boredom in between occasional inspired moments of horror and tension.
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