“AVATAR,” starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi. For the five of you who missed it in theaters, James Cameron’s eye-popping blockbuster/parable “Avatar” stands poised to set more sales records when it comes out on DVD this week. Cameron’s tale of a paraplegic war veteran (Worthington, “Clash of the Titans”) who befriends the alien tribe his superior means for him to exploit won’t win any awards for subtlety (the rare ore pursued by the main characters is called “unobtainium,” for Pete’s sake), but the excellent voicework and, yes, revolutionary special effects go a long way toward making up for any narrative shortcomings. Find out which of your friends has the biggest TV and watch it at their house. Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking. Running time: 2:42.

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99.


“CRAZY HEART,” starring Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film that finally garnered Bridges the Oscar he should have won about six times by now, “Crazy Heart” gives this fine actor a tailor-made role in Bad Blake, your average hard-drinkin’, rakishly charming country-and-western troubadour who unexpectedly develops a serious relationship with a divorced journalist (Gyllenhaal) and her 4-year-old son. Meanwhile, Blake must contend with the fact that his younger protege (a surprisingly convincing Colin Farrell) has gone on to far greater success than himself. It’s a story we’ve seen before (“Tender Mercies” comes immediately to mind), but this is one case where “old hat” is a comfortable thing indeed. Special features include deleted scenes. Rated R for language and brief sexuality. Running time: 1:52.

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99.


“THE LOVELY BONES,” starring Saoirse Ronan and Mark Wahlberg. Director Peter Jackson’s controversial take on the runaway bestseller by Alice Sebold proved to be one of the filmmaker’s more critically divisive efforts. Fortunately, Sebold’s story, in which a bright 14-year-old girl (Ronan, “Atonement”) tries from beyond the grave to assist her bereaved parents in tracking down her killer (Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci, channeling his inner creep with aplomb), is compelling enough to offset Jackson’s many tweak and CGI-heavy flights of fancy. Special features include an extensive production diary. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including disturbing violent content and images, and some language. Running time: 2:16.

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.99; Blu-ray $48.99.


“THE YOUNG VICTORIA,” starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend. The early years of Queen Victoria’s reign are brought to vivid life by the perfectly cast Blunt (“The Wolfman”), with Friend (“Cheri”) and Paul Bettany playing her would-be suitors, true love and rapscallion, respectively. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (“Lost Girls and Love Hotels”) manages to offset the potentially chilly affair with more than enough humanity to ensure a wide audience appeal, and Blunt is more radiant than ever. Special features include several making-of featurettes. Rated PG for some mild sensuality, a scene of violence, and brief incidental language and smoking. Running time: 1:45.

Suggested retail price: DVD $27.96; Blu-ray $34.95.



“THE DRAWN TOGETHER MOVIE: THE MOVIE!” Animated with the voices of Adam Carolla and Abbey McBride. Gleefully shameless animated satire from Comedy Central takes eight dysfunctional cartoon characters and forces them to be housemates, “Real World” style, affording the adventurous writers of the series the chance to lampoon both reality shows and ‘toons, or whatever happens to come to their twisted minds. Nowhere near as popular as the similarly shameless “Family Guy” or “South Park,” but often quite funny in its own right, and this feature-length extrapolation is an ideal introduction to an undervalued treat. Not rated, contains language, crude humor including drug content, and graphic sexual content. Special features include “Anatomy of an Animated Sex Scene.” Running time: 1:10.

Suggested retail price: $24.99.


“MERLIN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON,” starring Colin Morgan and John Hurt. Highly enjoyable revamp of the Arthurian legend finds the likable and dorky Morgan (“Island”) embodying the young magician of lore, seemingly presenting him as the original Harry Potter. No great shakes in the special-effects department, but somehow this only adds to the goofy, old-fashioned fun. Special features include making-of featurettes and a video diary. Not rated, contains violence. Running time: 9:45.

Suggested retail price: $49.98.



“BATMAN” and “BATMAN RETURNS,” starring Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer. Hoopla surrounding Christopher Nolan’s hugely successful Caped Crusader revamp aside, there are those of us who will always remain faithful to director Tim Burton’s take on the hero. Undoubtedly hit-or-miss, but these films are far more successful at retaining the often crazy vibe of the original comic book and even more insane TV series. Special features include archival footage and interviews with cast and crew. Rated PG-13 for language and violence. Running time: 2:26.

Suggested retail price: $24.98.


“FIST OF LEGEND,” starring Jet Li and Shinobu Nakayama. One of Li’s more accessible efforts is notable not for its storyline (your typical, if historically-based, student avenging slain master story) but for a more grounded approach to the fight scenes, which largely eschew the usual physics-defying acrobatics and wire work and as a result serve as a better showcase for Li’s astounding martial arts talents. A must-see for fans, as there are fights here that rank with the genre’s best. Special features include a commentary from Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan. Rated R for some strong martial arts violence. Running time: 1:43.

Suggested retail price: $19.99.



“THE BLUE TOOTH VIRGIN,” starring Austin Peck and Bryce Johnson. Witty, talk-heavy dramedy will especially hit home for would-be writers, as it tackles the dicey process of obtaining honest feedback from friends. Here, woebegone wordsmith Peck (“As the World Turns”) turns to his friend Johnson (“Trucker”) for some friendly peer criticism concerning his newly finished screenplay, which bears the unfortunate title of the film itself. As is often the case in such situations, the characters dance around the truth in an inevitably fruitless attempt to salvage feelings and friendships, and the interplay is often fascinating to watch. Thrill-a-minute it’s not, but “Virgin” is a perceptive little indie that presents a funny take on a common but rarely filmed situation. Rated R for language and brief drug use. Running time: 1:20.

Suggested retail price: $24.98.


“MAMMOTH,” starring Michelle Williams and Gael Garcia Bernal. A leisurely paced study of the difficulty and despair inherent in intrapersonal communication may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but few do this sort of thing better than writer-director Lukas Moodysson (“Together”), and the cast he assembles is more than up to the challenge.

The always-excellent Williams (“Wendy and Lucy”) is memorable here as an ER surgeon whose hectic schedule keeps her from connecting with her 7-year old daughter (Sophie Nywiede, “Margot at the Wedding”), who has been turning to their Filipino maid Gloria (Marife Necesito, “Fidel”) for motherly support and love. Meanwhile, husband Bernal is commiserating with a prostitute while on a business trip to Bangkok, and Gloria’s family in the Philippines pines for her return.

Not a pick-me-up by any means, but “Mammoth” is an excellent and well-acted rumination on the bonds that keep a family together and the circumstances that tear them apart. Not rated, contains language and strong sexual content. Running time: 2:25.

Suggested price: $24.98.


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