Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked — The first two live-action/CGI Alvins were surprisingly charming, but the wheels fall off during the third outing. The Chipmunks and Chipettes board a cruise ship and somehow wind up on a deserted island, where they burst into spontaneous song while mocking Survivor and Cast Away. It seems as though the writers didn't even try this time. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo is loaded with extras, including 16 Chipmunks/Chipettes songs, a trio of music videos, extended scenes and background featurettes.
The Bodyguard Blu-ray — Whitney Houston’s jaw-dropping performance in this 1992 romance is all the more poignant in the wake of her death. It’s exhilarating to catch the underused acting talent at the height of her abilities, playing a songstress who begins a taboo romance with her bodyguard (Kevin Costner). The film may be as predictable as they come, but the performances really shine through to give the movie a timeless feel. The key featurette is Houston’s knockout "I Will Always Love You" music video.
Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray — Warner Bros. bestows its 1942 masterpiece with the treatment it deserves with an impressive three-disc set. It boasts a pair of new documentaries, one of which examines the movie’s rocky making, with the other exploring the career of underappreciated director Michael Curtiz. There’s also a 60-page tribute book, a set of drink coasters, a film poster replica and incisive commentary from film historians. This isn’t the movie’s first go-round on Blu-ray, but it’s by far the most memorable. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s timeless, stars-crossed love story remains a chilling cinematic landmark, with perhaps the finest, most quotable screenplay ever penned.
A Dangerous Method — Director David Cronenberg tells the fascinating and steamy story of the relationship between psychologists Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), whose relationship and collaborations led to breakthroughs in the field of psychology in the early 20th century. Looming in the background is a bitter, prideful Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), whose meddling and politicking are deviously priceless. The acting is superb, with Knightley standing out as a tortured yet determined soul. Cronenberg's commentary and a making-of documentary highlight the extras.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — Director Stephen Daldry calls on newcomer Thomas Horn to do most of the heavy lifting in this somber drama, nominated for a best picture Oscar, set during the aftermath of 9/11. Horn plays a plucky, inquisitive kid who struggles to cope with the loss of his father (Tom Hanks), a businessman who perished in the attack who has left his son a series of mysteries to solve. As the boy pieces the mystery together, he finds a new direction and draws closer to his distant mother (Sandra Bullock). Although its sentimentality is forced at times, the earnestness of the story keeps the film grounded. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo boasts a making-of doc, a 9/11 retrospective and a look at the casting process that helped unearth Horn.
In the Land of Blood and Honey — Angelina Jolie writes and directs this Bosnian-Serbian language drama, which peeks under the curtain at the raw brutality of the 1990s Bosnian War. An uncomfortable, emotionally wrenching story unfolds through the lens of a dark love story story about a Serb soldier (Goran Kostic) who takes a Bosnian woman (Zana Marjanovic) captive. Jolie shows a deft touch for dramatizing the horrors of the senseless conflict and proves to be a formidable talent behind the camera. Deleted scenes and a making-of documentary fill out the disc. The Blu-ray boasts a Q&A, with Jolie and one of her actresses, that the DVD lacks.
South Park: Season 15 — Cartman and the gang get together to mock the Human Centipede, the iPad, TMZ and the immigration debate. Trey Parker and Matt Stone's creation remains as sharp, hilarious and relevant as ever, and the animation style looks even better in the shift to HD. The set includes deleted scenes and a pair of fascinating behind-the-scenes documentaries about the hectic making of the show, each episode of which is put together within a week of when it airs.