New on DVD

New on DVD

Avatar
Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language, and some smoking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Set far into the future, Avatar tells the story of a paraplegic marine whose mind is put into the body of an alien so that he can infiltrate their tribe and hopefully negotiate the terms of their relocation so that the resources they are living on top of can be mined out.  But when his loyalties begin to turn, he gets involved in the middle of a war that could jeopardize either his own kind or the very existence of his new friends.  While the story has been slammed by way too many people as being unoriginal, I still feel that writer/director James Cameron was brilliant in making the material just familiar enough to be recognizable, yet different enough to be completely enthralling and captivating.  While it’s great to finally be able to see this one at home, I must warn everyone that this is just the first of many editions of the film that will hit DVD and blu-ray.  This is a bare-bones edition with no special features whatsoever.  Rumor has it that later this year Cameron will re-release the film into theaters as a director’s cut, and then you will most likely want to re-purchase.  And then there will be the version with how they did all of the special effects and all of the other special features.  By the time this one’s done there may be several reincarnations, so if you don’t think you’ll watch it more than once or twice, it may be a rental for you.  Then again, the blu-ray is so spectacular to look at on a nice TV that you may not want to wait that long.  A+

Crazy Heart
Rated R for language and brief sexuality
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges is a washed-out country singer trying to get back on his feet in this little indie that came on strong towards awards time.  While I felt it was a little over-hyped and that Bridges was much like Sandra Bullock in that he won the Oscar merely because it was his turn and not because he outperformed the other actors this year, the film still was a pretty good little flick with some great tunes and a very good performance.  My biggest gripe is where did they get the name ‘Crazy Heart’ from?  That has got to be one of the worst-fitting titles in years.  B-

It’s Complicated
Rated R for some drug content and sexuality
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin are two exes that get back together for an affair, trying desperately to hide it from his wife and her new boyfriend (Steve Martin).  While it’s definitely a comedy for the older crowd, it’s still a very funny pic with some great set pieces including a gut-busting scene that shows way too much of Baldwin.  It’s not a coincidence that they are releasing this just before Mother’s Day as this is probably a nice gift for many of the Meryl age and older mothers out there.  B

Out of Africa (25th Anniversary Edition)
Rated PG
Available on Blu-ray

It’s been 25 years since Out of Africa led a shut-out of The Color Purple at the Academy Awards by taking home seven statues including best picture and best director.  Based on the true story of a woman (Meryl Streep) who travels to Kenya to be with her cheating husband and falls in love with a mysterious adventurer (Robert Redford), Out of Africa is a gorgeous film to look at and listen to, especially on blu-ray, but a tad on the dry and boring side.  That being said, for the fans out there, it will be a welcome addition to many libraries.  B

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Rated PG-13 for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Terry Gilliam directed Heath Ledger in his last film before his death in this extremely weird, but typical Gilliam pic.  Christopher Plummer is Dr. Parnassus, the leader of a traveling stage show who is about to lose his daughter to the devil until a young man (Ledger) comes to the rescue to help out.  Because Ledger never finished the filming, his part was re-imagined and recast for additional scenes by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, which sort of made sense in the story but made the film all that more weird.  Still, you have to love Gilliam’s imagination, or imaginarium if you will, as he is truly one of the most creative spirits in Hollywood and always brings a product that keeps it’s audience on its toes.  B+

Five Minutes of Heaven
Not Rated
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

in 1975, a 17-year-old Irish-Protestant assassinated a 19-year-old Catholic in his home in front of his 11-year-old brother.  Thirty years later, the Protestant (Liam Neeson) has been rehabilitated and released from prison and a television talk show wants to bring he and the younger brother (Nesbitt) together for a reconciliation, the brother must decide whether to seek his revenge he has been waiting his entire life for, or find another way to get over his pain.  While the film isn’t the kind that normally makes a killing at the box office (no pun intended), I’m surprised it really never found a home, especially with this cast and the fact that it won both the Directing Award and Screenwriting Award of World Cinema at the Sundance film festival.  The movie is very well-paced and the writing and directing are excellent.  Nesbitt is a bit over the top and has a few Gollum moments, but Neeson is his typical brilliant self and it is an overall very watchable film with some really great moments.  A-

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