“THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY,” starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen. Director Peter Jackson continues his quest to adapt each of Tolkien’s works to the big screen, including this dwarf-intensive prequel with Freeman (“Sherlock”) proving an ideal choice for reluctant adventurer Bilbo Baggins, whose arduous journey is only just beginning — even after 169 long minutes. Lots of setup (and, oddly, lots of slapstick), but LOTR fans are unlikely to mind, especially when Gollum (Andy Serkis) shows up to engage in a battle of wits with poor Bilbo in the movie’s best scene. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:49

Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99 

“LES MISERABLES,” starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. The long-running, universally beloved musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg is given yet another big-screen treatment with impressive if somewhat mixed results. Director Tom Hooper’s (“The King’s Speech”) decision to let his cast sing the songs live as they were being filmed resulted in a few unavoidably shaky vocal performances, but dramatically there’s very little here to argue with, and Hathaway is a particular standout in an Academy Award-winning performance. Special features include cast interviews. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:38

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98 

“THIS IS 40,” starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Writer-director Judd Apatow’s sequel of sorts to his runaway hit “Knocked Up” puts put-upon married couple Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) center stage, watching them struggle with the deadening habits and miscommunication that tend to plague a longtime marriage. Doesn’t sound like a laugh riot at face value, but Rudd and Mann have chemistry to burn, and the loose improvisational feel that Apatow fans have come to expect is in full force. Best of all, veteran comics Albert Brooks and John Lithgow join the Apatow stable as Pete and Debbie’s dissimilar but equally incompetent dads. As with most Apatow releases on DVD, some excellent extras are included, such as deleted scenes, gag reels and a commentary track from the man himself. Rated R. Running time: 2:14

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98 

“ZERO DARK THIRTY,” starring Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton. Director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) returns to the Middle East for this acclaimed procedural thriller that follows CIA operative Maya (Oscar nominee Chastain) in her relentless pursuit of Osama Bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks, participating in all manner of tactics in an effort to force detainees to reveal Bin Laden’s whereabouts — a decade-long effort that (hopefully unnecessary spoiler alert) pays off in 2011 when the Al Qaeda leader is finally located and killed. Clearly, Bigelow has found a milieu ideally suited to her intense, uncompromising approach, and “Zero Dark Thirty” proves beyond all doubt that the resounding acclaim directed toward “The Hurt Locker” was far from a fluke. Rated R. Running time: 2:37

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $40.99 


“BADLANDS,” starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Director Terrence Malick’s 1973 debut demonstrated his unmistakable, inimitable style more or less fully formed right out of the gate. “Badlands” sports gorgeous cinematography and off-kilter storytelling that gives believable life to the bloody, alternately distressing and funny saga of Kit (Sheen) and Holly (Spacek), a pair of young lovers who embark on a murder spree, starting with her family and then making their way from South Dakota to Montana. Avoiding sensationalism entirely, Malick’s then-revolutionary approach to his material has kept “Badlands” from becoming dated, and its widespread influence on a generation of filmmakers is obvious. Rated PG. Running time: 1:34

Suggested retail price: $39.95 

“TIMERIDER: THE ADVENTURE OF LYLE SWANN,” starring Fred Ward and Belinda Bauer. This somewhat forgotten 1982 cult fave provides indispensable character actor Ward (who between this and “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins” was the king of failed ’80s action franchise attempts) a rare lead role as Swann, a professional motorcyclist who unwittingly travels back in time to the late 1800s, where he terrifies and impresses citizens of the Wild West with his conveniently horse-free mode of transport. Co-scripted and produced by ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith, “Swann” is a goofily intriguing curiosity with a good sense of fun about it. Rated PG. Running time: 1:33

Suggested retail price: $19.93 


“PRICE CHECK,” starring Parker Posey and Eric Mabius. Long a darling of the indie movie circuit, nobody does terrifying enthusiasm quite like Parker Posey. And in writer-director Michael Walker’s (“Chasing Sleep”) witty dark comedy, she’s given one of her most tailor-made roles to date as Susan, a shockingly motivated executive hired to jump-start a flagging supermarket chain.

A sleepily toiling Pete (Mabius) finds himself first taken under Susan’s wing professionally then sexually, an unwise move from several standpoints. A biting workplace satire that’s awkward in all the right ways, the appeal of “Price Check” admittedly depends heavily on one’s fondness for Posey. Not rated. Running time: 1:32

Suggested retail price: $24.98 

“RUST AND BONE,” starring Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard. A standoffish bouncer Alain (Schoenaerts) finds himself connecting with Stephanie (Cotillard), an unruly bar patron who initially makes his job harder. Their relationship unexpectedly deepens when she loses her legs in a horrific job-related accident, a potentially life-ruining event that Alain treats with the same indifference he applies to most of the obstacles that come his way: An outlook that turns out to be exactly what she needs. Raw and uncompromising, this French import from director Jacques Audiard is a true love story. Rated R. Running time: 2:02

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99

– Courtesy of Videoport

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